Over the weekend, I made some significant updates to the Generative AI and Pedagogy Bibliography and Resource List page, which includes background, debates, teaching approaches, applications, disciplinary research, and a list of online resources. I started it as a place to organize my own research while sharing it back out to others.
It now features a table of contents at the top of the page under the introduction.
I added about 50 articles and books to the bibliography, which now contains 232 sources.
And, I added three links to the resource list at the bottom of the page which brings it to 42 links.
I will periodically add more entries to the list as my own research progresses. But, it’s important to note that this bibliography isn’t meant to be exhaustive.
I often get asked by my Professional and Technical Writing (PTW) students at City Tech how they can improve their writing. As I tell them, there are no shortcuts. Improvement comes from work spread out over time. If you are willing to put in the work over time, you’ll begin to see results in the quality of your writing and the ease with which you write.
Below are my tips for improving your writing with an emphasis on PTW, Technical Communication, and Professional Writing. They are: find an excuse to write; beg, borrow, and barter for feedback; read as if your life depended on it (because it does); layer your learning; check out Science Fiction; pick up a style guide; and finally, be patient.
Find an Excuse to Write: Give yourself an excuse to do more writing. Research shows that doing more writing automatically improves your writing ability. You can write privately in a journal, but a public-facing blog gives you a record that you can incorporate into your job search materials and professional portfolio (two birds, one stone). Also, you can create YouTube videos that rely on an outline and script that you write as a part of the production process. Any writing–whether for a written deliverable or part of a multimodal composition process–contributes to developing your abilities. Giving yourself a reason to write will make you much more productive and you might even find enjoyment in the practice. For example, I started dynamicsubspace.net as a place to write about what I learned in graduate school and to give myself regular writing practice. I set goals for myself early on: write a post at least once a week, and later, when my writing had improved, write a post once a day. Pick your own goals for writing frequency, and pick your own writing development goals (are you wanting to learn more about a topic–write content about what you learn, are you wanting to develop a particular writing style–mimic the style of writing demonstrated in a source text–see below, or both).
Beg, Borrow, and Barter for Feedback: Revising and editing your writing is not as simple as swapping adjectives or changing a few words. Real revision happens when you’re willing to rewrite whole swaths of your work; rethink the overall organization of a document, a paragraph, or a sentence; and begin again with just your idea in mind. Take professional literary writers for example: Many rewrite a single novel from scratch not just once but several times. Each iteration generates new ideas, creates better expression and imagery, and improves the overall narrative. It seems that if a novelist is willing to put in the work to rewrite a whole novel, then it is a small order for us to put in similar efforts of revision into those documents that matter the most to us (especially those documents that make their way into our professional portfolios!). Each of us can revise our own work by returning to it with a critical eye, but there’s a lot that we might miss in our own writing even with this approach. It’s best to ask your classmates, mentors, and family members to read your work and give you constructive critical feedback. What I mean by constructive critical feedback is not just an identification of issues with the writing but also ideas about how to improve it. Since you are asking for someone to give you their time and advice, it’s a good practice to offer something in return–for example, offer to give them feedback on their writing or sweeten the deal with a coffee or slice of pizza. It can be difficult to hear someone trash your writing, but always ask for advice about making it better with the understanding that their feedback is meant to help you improve as a writer. And the fact is that all of us–me included–can improve our writing skills. Improving as a writer is a lifelong task!
Read As If Your Life Depended On It (Because It Does): Reading in general is good for exercising your mind, learning new things, and observing how others write. But, it is especially important for technical communicators and professional writers to read writing that is like the kinds of writing that they want to be doing. Furthermore, you need to reflect on not just what is written (content) but how it is written (style), and imitate the latter in your writing practice (above). While he’s primarily focused on literary writing, Ray Bradbury’s points about how to become an accomplished writer in his book Zen in the Art of Writing has many relevant points to make if instead of thinking about writing as only by literary artists but also by professionals who write for other purposes, such as providing the right information to the right audience at the right time. Other places to learn content and style in the specialization that you’ve selected in the major: books (can be technical or written for a lay audience), journals (peer-reviewed and research-based publications), trade publications (like magazines but focused on topics of interest to professionals in that field), and magazines (less technical than trade publications but with a similar focus).
Layer Your Learning: It’s important for technical communicators and professional writers to learn how to use the tools of writing and multimodal composition inside-and-out. Pick a tool that you might not know well or at all, and learn how to do specific things with it. For example, watch tutorials on YouTube or LinkedIn Learning (free through the NYPL) about tracking changes in Microsoft Word. Practice what you’ve learned on some of your existing documents that you want to revise. Then, write a blog post with screenshots that summarize some of the techniques that you’ve learned. Meet up with some friends in the PTW Program to teach them what you have learned. Then, you and your friends can plan out and shoot your own YouTube video teaching others how to use the basics of Word’s Track Changes. So, what’s going on here? First, you gain theoretical knowledge about Word’s Track Changes. You gain practical skill or application of that knowledge by practicing those techniques on your own documents. You begin integrating what you’ve learned by writing a guide or instructional blog post. You fully integrate what you’ve learned by teaching it to others. Finally, you help your friends gain their own mastery over Track Changes by planning (script, storyboard) and shooting a YouTube video with the additional bonus of you taking leadership of a project that you can mention in your professional portfolio.
Check Out Science Fiction: Many technical communicators and technical writers also enjoy reading Science Fiction (SF). SF is a literature that explores the effects of science and technology on human beings and society. It’s written for non-specialist audience, so the SF writer has to communicate technical topics in a way that a broad range of readers are able to understand those topics and how they relate to the story. Communicating complex topics to different audiences is key to the work that we do in PTW, so there are techniques and approaches that we can learn from SF if we pay attention to how those writers accomplish those tasks, reflect on how they do it, and practice what we observe in our own writing. There are many ways to experience SF literature: books (check out for free from the library or purchase a novel from a bookstore–2nd hand bookstores are a great resource for this!), magazines (look on the magazine racks at the big bookstores for Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, and Clarkesworld), and online (strangehorizons.com, lightspeedmagazine.com, tor.com, and freesfonline.net).
Pick Up a Style Guide: There are many professional style guides that provide rules about how to write in that field, cite sources, and format documents. You’ve probably heard about the style guides of the Modern Languages Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA). Each have their own rules that govern writing, formatting, and documenting. In the professional world, you can’t mix and match style guides. If you are writing for a publication that states you must use MLA style, then you have to follow MLA or you risk your article being rejected. Also, workplaces and some publications might have their own style guide–an internal document that borrows from other styles but with significant and important changes that you will have to apply to your writing. As you learn more about your specialization, you’ll identify what style guide or guides are the most used. Those are the ones that you want to learn as much about. Thinking about writing practice, you should apply those styles to your writing so that you memorize perhaps not everything about the style but enough of the most important aspects of it. In addition to style guides that you can buy from a bookstore or check out from the library, there are simplified online guides that can help you get started but be aware that these online guides likely don’t cover everything that is contained in the printed guide! A good starting point is the Purdue Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL), expand the menu items on the left for Research and Citation (for style guides) and Subject-Specific Writing (for stylistic concerns in different fields).
Be Patient. It takes time and effort before you begin to see results. What’s going on is that your brain is rewiring itself in response to your life and its experiences. If you choose to spend more time writing, reading, and learning, then your brain will develop to support those kinds of experiences (what you write is clearer and audience directed, it gets easier to write more than in the past, you have more things to write about from what you’ve learned, etc.). If you choose instead to spend more time playing World of Warcraft, then your brain will develop to support that experience instead (perhaps improving your memory of where to complete quests, how to maximize your armor, improve your team playing skills, etc.). One experience isn’t necessarily better than the other. It’s just that they are different choices and priorities. If you want to improve as a writer, then you should choose to do things, such as what I suggest above, that engage you as a writer, thinker, learner, and collaborator. Throughout this process of making choices to support your writing skill, you will need to be patient. While our brain is constantly changing in response to our experiences, it takes time for those experiences to solidify into memories and heuristics that support our writing activities. Improvement will happen–just keep at it over time.
I wanted to make the most of this year’s Spring Recess. Below are a few things that I accomplished during this late semester respite: a computer storage upgrade, installing Mac OS X Leopard on QEMU, finding Star Wars action figures on eBay, beginning a generative AI and pedagogy bibliography, and spending time with Y.
Upgraded My Desktop Computer’s Boot Drive
I took advantage of a BestBuy deal on 2TB Samsung 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSDs to upgrade my desktop computer’s boot drive. Originally, I had a 512GB NVMe drive installed. I had pulled out the wifi card that was in the secondary M.2 slot awhile back. So, I moved the 512GB to that slot (under the video card as pictured above) and installed the 2TB Samsung drive into the primary M.2 slot (just above the video card as pictured above). With the hardware installation done, I reinstalled Linux Mint 21.1, which I run on my desktop and laptop computers.
At the beginning of Spring Recess, I hit eBay and racked up some good deals with bidding and best offers on 3.75″ Hasbro Vintage Collection action figures, Hasbro Retro Collection action figures, and Kenner action figures. I don’t like to collect action figures in their packages. I like to create scenes with them for display. With these new acquisitions, I plan to create some Empire and Return of the Jedi scenes with my 1979 Kenner Millennium Falcon (not pictured) and 2008 Hasbro Legacy Collection Millennium Falcon (pictured above, aka the Big Falcon).
Compiling a Bibliography of Generative AI Technologies and Pedagogy Resources
I compiled all of my current research on Generative AI technologies and how they might be used in teaching on this page. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it has a lot of recent publications. It can help someone get up to speed on what’s going on now with ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, and other AI tools to create text, images, and music from prompts.
Y and I also got to spend time catching up via video chat with my cousin Angie in Maryland and our graduate school friend Masaya in Japan. We enjoyed a walk in Green-Wood Cemetery just before we were awash in tree pollen. And, we watched a lot of Family Guy, too.
On Mar. 29, 2023, Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College held its 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony. The Ivan Allen College’s six academic schools and its three ROTC branches give these awards to “celebrate excellence in the College community.” I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Literature, Media, and Communication for my contributions as a teacher, scholar, and organizer. The award reads, “For outstanding achievements that inspire continued excellence and bring credit to the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, and the Georgia Institute of Technology.”
To honor all of the Ivan Allen College professors who made my success possible, I delivered these remarks after receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award:
I am honored and humbled to receive this Distinguished Alumni Award. I want to thank the Ivan Allen College, Dean Husbands Fealing, and all of the faculty, administrators, and staff who make the Ivan Allen College not only a indispensable and integral part of Georgia Tech but also a home for someone like me who is better at writing about science than doing science. It also feels like home, because I’ve spent so many years here—first, it took me 10 years to “get out” with my bachelor’s degree, and then, I returned as a postdoctoral Brittain Fellow for 2 years to give back to Tech as an instructor where I had received so much from my former professors. Throughout my career, all of the work that I have done as a scholar, an instructor, an organizer, and an administrator can be traced back to my education and professionalization in the Ivan Allen College. To name a few examples, when I was asked to help establish the City Tech Science Fiction Collection where I now work, I looked at the problem with the engineering mindset that Tech instills in its students. I drew on my experience working under Lisa Yaszek on research projects, public outreach, and donation runs for what was originally called the Bud Foote Science Fiction Collection and now the Georgia Tech Science Fiction Collection. After starting the collection, I inaugurated an annual Science Fiction Symposium to celebrate the collection and create a platform for scholars and students (including Lisa’s SciFi Lab undergraduate researchers) to interact and share their findings. That work over the past seven years was made possible by the experiences that I had with Lisa when she mentored me to create the schedules for the Monstrous Bodies Symposium in 2005 and the international Science Fiction Research Association Conference held in Atlanta in 2009. Lisa has had a profound influence on my career. She’s my hero and I strive to be like her.
Other faculty have also played outsized roles in my development. Carol Senf and Narin Hassan gave me kind and essential advice at key points in my undergraduate career, and they also gave me some of my first editing work by asking me to proofread their respective manuscripts, which helped tremendously in the editing and collaborative writing that I have done over the years since then. In my teaching, I observed and learned from some of the best practioners. I want to excite my students in the way that Hugh Crawford can when talking about William Carlos Williams and bombsights, as detailed as Steven Usselman is about steam engine locomotives, or as illustrative as Robert Wood is when he talks about 15th century Florence. And I show my students compassion when things go wrong as Rebecca Merrens did for me when my maternal grandmother died, foster my students passions as Lisa Holloway-Attaway did for me in the two required freshman college writing classes, give my students a chance like Patrick Sharp did for me by readmitting me in 2002, give my students opportunities to contribute to the life work of our campus communities as Ken Knoespel did for me, and give students an opportunity to be successful and demonstrate learning when the student stumbles on a project they are ill fitted to such as the late Thomas Lux did for me by asking me to produce a Poetry Out Loud DVD for Georgia public schools in place of my atrocious writing as a poet. And while I never had the opportunity to take a class with Jay Telotte or Jay Bolter, their work had a significant influence on my early research, and I teach their scholarship to my students now. Most recently, Rebecca Burnett, the former Writing and Communication Program Director, led the Technical Communication theory and pedagogy seminar that I volunteered to participate in so that I could earn the opportunity to teach Tech Comm as a Brittain Fellow. That experience directly led to my job at the New York City College of Technology and my current position as Director of City Tech’s Professional and Technical Writing Program. Rebecca has continued to selflessly mentor me throughout my directorship.
And lastly, I want to offer a special thank you to Professor Hanchao Lu, because his Asia in the Modern World class had a profound effect on my personal life. He encouraged me to research Taiwan for my final paper. Years later, when I met a Taiwanese girl in graduate school in 2007, I drew on what I had learned in Professor Lu’s class to talk about the KMT and DPP political parties hoping that she might notice me. And guess what? She did, and we got married two years later! Thank you, again!
I arrived in Atlanta a day early, because I wanted to walk around and see all of the changes around Georgia Tech’s campus during the 8 1/2 years since I was last there. Some things remained comfortably familiar, like the entrance to the School of Literature, Media, and Communication on the 3rd floor of the Skiles Building.
However, there were subtle changes like the addition of outdoor tables and seats on breezeway, which I utilized to finish writing my thank you remarks.
Besides the changes to buildings and the construction of new facilities, there are new pieces of art that convey important historical events as well as excite the senses.
Approaching Tech Tower, I was greeted by this striking bronze sculpture titled “The Three Pioneers” by Martin Dawe. It depicts the first three African American students to matriculate at Georgia Tech in 1961: Ford C. Greene, Ralph A. Long, Jr., and Lawrence M. Williams.
Walking toward the foot of Tech Tower, I sat in this engaging bronze and granite piece titled “Continuing the Conversation.” The viewer sits between two versions of Rosa Parks–42 on the right and 92 on the left. While Parks had never visited Tech’s campus before, this art reflects her influence on change and how we should be a part of that change moving forward.
Walking through the center of campus–the Library, Skiles Building, and the Student Center–I found Robert Berks’ Einstein installation. While some folks think the statue is out of place at Tech, it meant something personal to me. When I was in high school, I read Einstein’s Relativity: The Special and the General Theories, which among other works by Carl Sagan, Michio Kaku, Roger Penrose, and Stephen Hawking, directly led to my enrolling as a Physics major at Georgia Tech in 1995. That didn’t work out so well for me academically, but I love Physics and Mathematics despite my own deficiencies.
Walking from the Einstein statute toward the green space between the back of the Library and the School of Architecture I encountered John C. Portman, Jr’s imposing KR+C (for Knowledge and Research plus Creativity) sculpture. Walking around its circumference reveals how it reshapes and changes depending on your perspective. I found that you can walk up the back stairs of the Library and Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons to get a bird’s eye view of this magnificent sculpture.
Walking into the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons, I found art suspended between its the clean perspectival lines. The sculpture above titled “Jetson” is a collaborative team project initiated by former College of Architecture Professor Volkan Alkanoglu. Primarily constructed from water jet cut aluminum, this large, futuristic sculpture only weights about 110 pounds!
Walking through the Clough Commons into the Library, I met with my former colleague Wendy Hagenmaier, Digital Curation Archivist and RetroTech Manager, in the 3rd floor Data Vizualization Lab and RetroTech shared space. RetroTech is a working collection of born digital (and analog) art (and science) artifacts that students can use, support, and learn from. Before moving to Brooklyn, I donated four of my vintage computers (a Dell Dimension 4100, Apple Macintosh Perform 550, iMac DV, and Apple Power Macintosh 8500) to the Georgia Tech Library to help kickstart RetroTech, a lab for students to use and interact with older technologies–computers, video game consoles, cameras, slide rules, typewriters, etc. I was amazed at how much space RetroTech has in conjunction with the Data Vizualization Lab. Besides having equipment and space, Wendy is developing RetroTech into a sustainable initiative involving students and cross campus connections. I’m really happy to see how much RetroTech has developed under Wendy’s leadership.
Leaving the Library, I walked through Deanna Sirlin’s “Watermark” installation. The sunlight passing through the colored glass panes creates a changing projected artwork on the floor and surroundings inside this entrance to the Crosland Tower of the Library.
Walking back toward the Student Center, I stopped in front of the Kessler Campanile designed by Richard Hill for the 1996 Olympics. It was installed during my freshman year at Tech.
Spending almost a whole week in the ATL gave me a much needed boost. 99x is back on the air. I enjoyed not one but two meals at Del Taco. I talked computers with Grantley and Melanie. I met Carol Senf for brunch to talk teaching. I hung out with Lisa Yaszek and Doug Davis at the West End. Rebecca Burnett and Jeff Jeffries invited me over to their home for a wonderful dinner. I talked Doctor Who and Dirk Gently with Mark Warbington. I discussed books with Keith Magnes. And, I got to visit Mike Flanagan in his new house and see his wife Diana compete in a local tennis tournament. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to see everyone I know there, but I hope to get back to Atlanta before another 8 1/2 years pass!
I’m very happy to announce that Dr. Sharon Packer’s edited collection Lenses on Blindness: Essays on Vision Loss in Media, Culture, Religion and Experience is now out from McFarland! It includes a chapter that I wrote back in Summer 2020 titled, “Blindness in Science Fiction: From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Star Trek’s La Forge–And Much More.” It covers examples of blindness depicted in literary, television, and film SF. Many thanks to Sharon, a fantastic editor who saw the project through despite the pandemic’s slings and arrows!
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