Assessing Multimodality: Navigating the Digital Turn Tweet Round Up on Storify and a Picture of Me and My Pedagogy Poster

My Pedagogy Poster on "Writing the Brain" at Assessing Multimodality Symposium.
My Pedagogy Poster on “Writing the Brain” at Assessing Multimodality Symposium.

Today, the Georgia Tech Writing and Communication Program and Bedford St. Martins hosted a symposium on Assessing Multimodality: Navigating the Digital Turn. I co-presented a workshop with Mirja Lobnik on Multimodality and Perception and I presented a poster during one of the day’s sessions. Many of us were tweeting our experiences at the symposium today, too. Click through the Storify embed below to virtually experience the symposium 140 characters at a time.

[View the story “Assessing Multimodality: Navigating the Digital Turn Symposium” on Storify]

Prepping MacBook for Digital Pedagogy Seminar

I’m prepping my MacBook for this evening’s Brittain Fellow Digital Pedagogy seminar. As you can see above, we are going to be running simultaneous backchannels–one on Twitter and one on Besides looking at how these technologies work, we will do other things with the words that we write with Wordle and Storify. Details of the meeting including readings and technologies are available on TechStyle here. I will see my fellow Britts in Skiles 302 shortly. Going Offline on June 3, Loss of Nearly 10 Years of Star Wars Fan Conversations

Topher Kohan of CNN wrote an open letter to George Lucas regarding the shuttering of the fan forums: Mr. Lucas, the 4th is not to be trifled with –

Apparently, Lucasfilm recently decided to remove the forums on June 3, 2011. They have already placed the forums in read-only mode as of May 3.

Pabawan, a site admin, offered this anti-explanation explanation: “At, we are always evaluating the various features of the website in order to provide the best experience to our users. As we review new community-based interactive features for the future, we have decided that the Official Message Boards at will no longer be part of the site” [read the full announcement here while it is available].

Instead of hosting fan conversations on, Lucasfilm has opted for Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter are very good at doing what they do, but they do not offer the same experience or conversation that an online forum provides. Forums allow people to write longer conversational pieces that are searchable and archived within a theme delimited hierarchy. Facebook allows for conversations, but they are not easily searched and may not be archived indefinitely. Twitter facilitates conversation, but you may only write 160 characters at a time including hashtags (for thematic or subject linking), user references, and links.

Online conversations need a rich ecosphere of different Internet facilitated modes of conversation rather than relying on those that seem the most popular at this time. I believe that it for this reason that the Taiwanese embrace multiple modes of communication including BBS servers, Plurk, and others in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

I realize that Star Wars fans will likely shift their conversations to fan-operated forums. It is unlucky however that the many conversations on the now defunct will be lost forever on Friday, June 3. Perhaps someone will write a script to archive the forums before that date, but I do not know if Lucasfilm’s servers will permit such an archiving to take place.

Twitter Widget

I made a small adjustment to Dynamic Subspace tonight by adding a widget to the left column that provides a link and displays the most recent posts to my Twitter feed. My plan is to use Twitter almost exclusively now, and pipe my updates from there into Facebook via the Twitter FB application.  If I didn’t use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and colleagues, I would drop it in light of the recent changes and Facebook’s promotion of applications in the news feed over the privilege of FB users to control what shows up in their feed.  

All of this talk of feeds makes me wish that I had access to a nanotech feed as described in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995).

ICFA 2009, Early Thursday Morning Panel Success!

I woke up bright and early today for my 8:30am panel at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts on “Narrative Aesthetics and Fractured Selves” chaired by Robert von der Osten.  My fellow panelists were Albert Wendland of Seton Hill University who read his paper titled, “Description in Andre Norton, or a Touch of the Sublime,” and Darja Malcolm-Clarke of Indiana University who read her essay titled, “The Postmodern Freak and L’Ecriture Feminine in Shelley Jackson’s Half Life.”  Albert has an impeccable radio drama-like delivery that is a rare gift among academic presenters.  His paper on the relationship between the self and the Romanticized sublime in the SF of Andre Norton convinced me that I have to read more of her work.  Darja’s engagement of Hélène Cixous’s theory of writing female bodies and subjectivity in connection with the postmodern females in Jackson’s novel was simultaneously enlightening and fascinating. 

My paper, originally titled “Time Enough for Twitter:  Postmodern Science Fiction and Online Personas,” but changed to “Literary Characters, Online Persona, and Science Fiction Scholars:  A Polemic,” was the last essay to be read during our panel, and it generated the most discussion among the daring early morning audience at our panel.  My essay critiqued the behavior of SF list participants, myself included, as either unwilling or incapable of engaging the alien Othered instigator of a flame war on the list by a sock puppet operator (read more about what inspired my research on this subject here).  Luckily, the frank comments and questions by Dewitt, David, and Anna were the right chord for my presentation.  I was called out on my leaving out the content of the email sock puppet instigator, but my purpose was to call attention to the end effects of parody rather than the substantive content of that parody–I was most interested in the instigator’s desire to shake things up and try something new.  The idea of reflectively reconsidering our real-life manners and norms that have been shoehorned into Internet and New Media communicative technologies is an important project for everyone, including SF scholars who regularly use email discussion lists as a means for discussion.  I found the questions and comments on my paper particularly useful for the next iteration of my paper, which I do want to send out for publication.  I believe that it is a compelling subject for more than its theoretical or literary connections–it has so much to offer our conceptions of how we work together as academic professionals, and it is bound to generate more conversation, which is the point of our discursively-oriented work within a community of scholars.