New Media 13.1 / Let’s Talk Twitter

I wanted to spend a day talking about social media. This is probably the most underdeveloped component of this class–every semester I have ambitions to work social media into the course, but that ambition loses out to more pressing concerns. Our focus this semester has been on image editing, video capture and editing, and audio editing. We’ll end the course working with a content management system. There just hasn’t been time to also work on social media.

What These Jobs Look Like

But there is clearly a market demand for folks with a background in social media management and content generation:

You can begin to build your resume for these kinds of jobs even if you don’t have an internship or a job in social media by following best practices with your personal use of social media.

How to Tweet

First, let’s look at a tweet:

I’ll offer a few introductory suggestions:

Note that I am not saying that you cannot mix the personal and the professional–but if you are using your social media presence as part of your professional identity (which you should be), and even if you aren’t, jobs will be paying attention to how you act online.

Remember that job ads are asking for the ideal candidate–but you don’t have to be able to check every box in the ad to qualify for the job. Learn to frame your experiences (and learn now what experiences you will need to be able to frame).

I really like Julie Pagano’s “On Twitter” and her follow-up “Twitter Guidelines.”

How to Cultivate Your Ethos

Beyond the how-to and jobs, I want to talk a bit about the etiquette ethics of social media communication. First, a few things that should be common sense.

  • Think about your username–both your handle and your address. If you are going to market yourself as a social media specialist, then I highly advise you develop your personal brand. But this means you need to be vigilant with how you present yourself online (Adam Banks example)
  • Your Facebook account is not private. It will be viewed by all and any potential employers. Don’t post anything to social media that you wouldn’t be willing to discuss with a future employer
  • Similarly, you will want to think strategically about both your profile picture and your header photo (quick demonstration for how to change both).
  • Increasingly, the same is true of your twitter account, especially if you will market yourself as a social media specialist or web content specialist. Be extremely careful how you represent yourself in these spaces (and, of course, in Linkedin).
  • If you want a social media account to be private, then make sure you create an account with a pseudonym, and make sure you use a pseudonym email to make the account.

Much of the work of rhetoric involves cultivating an ethos that appeals to your audience. Social media provides you a powerful opportunity to do this kind of work–to credentialize yourself. One of my good friends used to call this the art of faking it until you make it.

Follow the jobs you want to be when you grow up. Be strategic in who you follow. Be strategic about rewarding a follow with a follow (“standard” Twitter etiquette). Much of someone’s Twitter experience comes down to the quality of people they choose to follow (and unfollow). With a bit of early investment, Twitter can be a quick feed of things you want to read.

Let’s look at a few twitter accounts with an eye toward representation:

When Twitter Goes Right, When Twitter Goes Wrong

When approaching social media, it is very important to have a sense of the context of conversations, and to remember that sarcasm can backfire. It is also important to remember that you don’t always have control of conversations. Let’s look at a few examples of how twitter can go right and wrong.

Hijacking Hash Tags

Be careful when arranging conversations that you cannot control. Have a plan.

How to Handle Things When/If They Go Wrong

There’s a difference between personality and snark

While you want to ignore trolls, you also want to face your public. Deactivating a twitter account is not a viable solution.

Hashtags Are More Than Conversations, They Are Also Communities

Hashtags for Writers to Follow / Contribute to

4 Quality Handles Every American Should Follow

New Media 12.1 / Podcast Planning Day

Hi all. We will watch the Final Project 3 videos in class on Thursday–so you have a few more days to make changes if you want to. Today we will get started on the Podcast project–forming groups, talking about how to plan a podcast, and talking about some recording strategies.

Topic Formation

A few weeks back we spent some time talking about possible topics for the podcast project. I want to revisit that conversation today and form teams of 3 (ideally six groups of 3 people). I would like to avoid 4 person groups for this project, because I feel like that could grow too cacophonic.

I have put up a discussion thread on Canvas to help formulate groups.

Planning Your Podcast

Over at . I am going to echo Lewis’s advice and ask you to outline your podcast. This means that before you start recording, you come up with a list of topics you will address on that show, along with expectations for how long you spend on each topic. I am asking that each of your podcast episodes be between 10 and 15 minutes, so it is up to you to think about how many topics you will address on each episode.

Part of this pre-production process could/probably should involve collecting material you will react to. For instance, let’s say you are doing a podcast on Star Wars, and you want to deal with the upcoming movie. You might print out an article and highlight a passage that you want to read on the podcast. It isn’t necessary to write out what your response would be (though you might jot down a few words in preparation).

Additionally, you should make sure everyone has a copy of the outline a day or so before you begin recording, so that everyone has a chance to think about the topics for that session. To help facilitate best practices here, I will ask for your team to create a Google Doc and share it with me (

Recording Your Podcast

Let’s look at this WikiHow for recording a podcast.

Step six of the tutorial addresses hosting your podcast; to do this, you need to have some server space on the internet. Fortunately, you do, since Squarespace can host podcast files. What’s nice is that tutorial even has steps for publishing your podcast with iTunes.

Note that publishing with iTunes means you need to think ahead. Obviously, you will need a name for your podcast. You will need a description of your members: here I advise you to think about using only your first names to protect your identity. Recognize that the description here establishes ethos: what kind of identity are you trying to craft? Authoritative based on knowledge and experience? Humorous and playful? Somber? What is the personality of your podcast?

In terms of the actual recording, Karol K. offers a tutorial that should be helpful. One of his recommendations concerns an external microphone rather than relying on a computer’s internal mic. I should be able to bring a few into class on Thursday if groups need them. I don’t want anyone to go out and spend money on mics, so hopefully this is an issue we can work around. He advises you start by using a test recording–and I will not only echo his advice but add that you should make sure everyone talks in the test recording so you can check volume and proximity to the mic. And make sure to look at his advice for editing your podcast.

Rhetorical Theory 12.1 / From Latour to the Manifesto

In today’s class I want to wade through Latour’s rather difficult essay in order to tease out his objection(s) to the critical tradition.

Latour and Critique

Let’s begin with a short Canvas “Writing Opportunity.” This one asks you to explain Latour’s objection to the critical tradition. Please quote one sentence from the text in your response. Why does Latour think critique is no longer an adequate tool for today’s problems?

From my forthcoming article, “Uncrossing God: How Levinas’s Ethics Might Contribute to Latour’s Politics”

Graham Harman celebrates Latour’s work for its capability to refresh philosophy, noting that “here we encounter the vigorous attitude of a genuine philosopher, as opposed to the tedious professional enforcers of insights already won” (2009, 62). While I appreciate Harman’s work on Latour, I would assert that Latour is not primarily interested in rejuvenating philosophy, even if his work might contribute to such a project. I champion Latour’s idea that academics (scientists, humanists, postmodernists, etc.) have too long looked “out the window” at a world that needs direct intervention. Postmodernism did little to change the crippling institution, the towering knowledge factory, constructed by the Moderns. While Latour’s characterization of postmodernism might be little more than caricature, its comedy might provoke us enough to rethink the institutions in which we work and dwell.

Finally, Latour’s opposition is not to postmodern methods as much as it is to (what he incorrectly identifies as) its goals. Latour argues that the reflexivity, deconstruction, and heterogenous chronology germane to postmodernity are essential tools for developing a nonmodern democracy, provided academics can move past “their irony, their despair, their discouragement, their nihilism, their self-criticism” (1993, 134). Similarly, Latour allocates a crucial job to postmodernists in the service of Politics of Nature’s political ecology, the role of the moralist responsible for advocating on behalf of entities denied entry into our collective world. From Latour’s perspective, postmodern methodologies (multiplicity, constructivism, reflexivity, denaturalization) can be redeemed if they are adapted to his project, to serve “Enlightenment without Modernity” (1993, 135).

From my forthcoming book chapter “From Constituting to Instituting: Kant, Latour, and Twitter”

In Irreductions (1988) Latour indicted academics for desiring an “escape from politics” (p. 215). He wrote, “We would like there to be somewhere, a way of knowing and convincing which differs from compromise and tinkering: a way of knowing that does not depend upon a gathering of chance, impulse, and habit” (p. 215). In We Have Never Been Modern (1993), Latour identified Modernity’s desire for purification, a preference for abstraction that led it to divide knowledge into discrete, autonomous disciplines, each with its own bounded purview. We have never been modern precisely because we have never lived in such an abstracted world. The real world is a collection of “hybrids,” material and cultural combinations that reject the fundamental binaries of Modern epistemology and ontology (nature/culture, subject/object. human/object, cause/effect, and so on). Below, we trace this dividing back to Kant’s strategic solution to the conflict of the faculties, which is the tension between political power and academic labor. Here, we would emphasize the extent to which this epistemological division underwrites the institutional framework in which contemporary academics research, teach, publish, and administer. While we might have never been modern, academics continue to work modern every day.

Pandora’s Hope (1999) emphasized the need for academics, scientists in particular, to reintegrate themselves back into politics, to replace the modern desire for purification of knowledge with a non-modern appreciation for the noisy yet essential cooperation of politics. Latour argued that “if scientists want to bridge the two-culture divide for good, they will have to get used to a lot of noise and, yes, more than a little bit of nonsense” (p. 17). He advocated in favor of working with (rather than dictating to) the Body Politic. Though scientists were the focus of Pandora’s Hope (1999), they are not Latour’s only target. In his essay “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam?” (2004), published the same year as Pandora’s Hope, Latour took aim at humanists, questioning their dedication to established critical methods despite their questionable impact on politics or society.

In Politics of Nature (2004b), Latour advocated for a new politics dedicated to “the progressive composition of a common world” shared by humans and non-humans in which each are given equal voice. Latour reiterated that academics will have to sacrifice the epistemological purity of the lab or office for the noisy, messy, cantankerous and at times irrational clamor of what Burke (1969) so famously identified as our “human barnyard” (p. 23). We argue that shifting to a non-modern constitution and returning academics to the agonistic, political sphere requires more than the sacrifice of epistemological purity. It requires a radical transformation of how we conceptualize our work, organize ourselves, and credential our professionals. As currently constituted, the tenure process, our chief concern in this chapter, is dominated by disciplinarity. A candidate for tenure must demonstrate affiliation through proper publication in field-specific journals. Further, tenure cases are evaluated by other established, in-field experts. Latour’s ambitious political ecology requires academics invest themselves less in specialized circles and more in the composition of one, common, public sphere. A would Latourian university would be wary of the esoteric. Tenure cases would be vetted by extra-disciplinary participants. A successful candidate for tenure would demonstrate civic relevance and publish across disciplinary lines. In this next section, we explicate the extent to which the academy’s Kantian heritage impedes Latour’s vision.

Manifesto Project

I wanted to take some time to introduce the manifesto project to those who are not writing the research paper. First, we need to define what a manifesto is, and what are the expectations of the genre. Let us turn to the all mighty Google.

One reason I instructed you to watch the Rivers videos is that he frames them as a form of manifesto, a call for the discipline to think about not only how Latour echoes what it already does, but also about how Latour’s call might reshape the kind of work we do and validate.

This video was my initial inspiration for the project.

Here is another famous web manifesto.

Here is another manifesto, created via links.

For your assignment, I would like you to make something digital, something that advocates for a change or an idea–or something that rages against the machine (or, perhaps like Latour, rages against the inefficacy of rage). I would like the project to–at least once–reference the material we have worked with in class somehow.

I wouldn’t mind a project that returned to the definition of rhetoric, either–provided that project was invested in course materials.


Remember that we will not have class again until next Tuesday–Thursday’s class is cancelled.

Please read Corder “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love” [JSTOR] and Ratcliffe “Rhetorical Listening” [JSTOR]

New Media 10.2 / Just One Thing Project

Hi all. In today’s class you will be working in your groups on your projects. I will do my best to stay out of your way (but I am here if you have any questions).

I did want to share a video on using Adobe Premier to import and animate an intro sequence. This might not be something you have ready for your rough draft Tuesday, but should be a part of your final draft. For the rough draft, it is enough that you have a still image that you have composed in Photoshop. If you are planning ahead to the animation sequence, then you will want that image to have multiple layers.

New Media 10.1 / Project Three: Just One Thing

Today we get started on our third project, a group video project I call the “Just One Thing” project. This project asks you to work in groups of 3 to produce a short video (about one minute) that advocates for making one small change in a person’s daily routine, and explicates the impact of that change.

Here is the inspiration for this project: Joe Smith’s TED talk on “How to use a paper towel correctly”

This project requires a rough draft and a final version. The rough draft will be due in class next Tuesday (March 17th). We will watch the videos in class and make suggestions. Groups will make revisions based on those suggestions. We will watch final videos in class on March 24th.

  • Contain an introductory animation of some sort, including background music
  • Conform to the cinematic requirements of Project 2 (in other words, unlike the video above, do not simply point and shoot a presentation)
  • Will contain quantitative data to support its claims (regarding the problem) and recommendations (regarding the solution)
  • Will invent some kind of slogan or mnemonic device

Chances are you might have already have one small change in mind, but if you don’t, then here is a list of possibilities (of course, each of these would require more research and adaptation, but they most could be possible topics).

Rhetorical Theory 10.1 / What is Postmodernism?

Today I want to do a few things.

First, I will ask you to write in Canvas for a few minutes. I want to get a sense of what you do/not know regarding Postmodernism.

Second, I want to take a brief look at Obama’s recent speech on Selma in order to point out how epideictic rhetoric works. Consider this a review of our last unit on Burke and rhetorical analysis.

Third, I want to transition into our last unit by introducing postmodernism, looking at a few of the “major players.” These names will pop-up frequently in our readings over the next few weeks, and the authors we work with will expect you to have some understanding of the Critical [Postmodern] tradition.

Derrida: Language operates inexactly. We repress or dismiss ambiguity. But the Truth of existence lies in ambiguity–the space between the signifier and the signified (how do we come to understand difference as differance?). To repress or deny it can lead to a dangerous idealism.

So, a Derridean critique identifies the moment in which an argument/idea/institution has decided an undecideable?

Foucault: Follows up on Nietzsche’s interrogation of the relationship between truth and power (hint: there is no such thing as truth outside of power). Truth/power is instituted and sustained through institutions. Truth/Power gets normalized.

So, a Foucaultian analysis often involves tracing the history of a particular discourse, highlighting the introduction or redefinition of key terms.

Lyotard: Working through the implications of Foucault, Derrida, and others, Lyotard argues that Modernism referred to a particular progress narrative, and to Western Civilization’s investment in narratives. We always live in a (progressive/Idealist) story, one that looks to the future. This is called a reliance on meta-narrative. According to Lyotard, the (Left) investment in meta-narratives is irrevocably shaken.

Cixous: Working through Derrida, Cixous interrogated language, noting that the West had developed a phallo-logo-centric bias toward [masculine] rationality, one that dismissed [feminine] affect. She, along with theorists such as Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva sought to develop an ecriture feminine, literally translated as “woman’s writing,” that challenge the masculine tradition. This writing emphasized personal experience, emotional engagement, and bodily awareness. [See also: Roland Barthes]

Cixous was less critical than most of the other theorists on this list. Rather, she emphasized a particular kind of production–a writing of the impossible.

Lacan: Lacan’s work begins as an engagement with Freud and his notions of the unconscious, and grows to become a critique of it. It is extremely difficult to summarize any of these theorists succinctly, but Lacan presents one of the biggest challenges. I would simply say that Lacan’s work stresses two important, interrelated points. The first concerns subjectivity, or our sense of self and agency. The latter is an extremely loaded and important term for 20th century thought. I would unpack it as a series of questions: what is a person? how does a person come to be? what sustains a person’s sense of identity? what enables a person to do things? what shapes what a person thinks is possible? Lacan stressed that a person is ultimately NOT the stable, unique, coherent identity we want them to be. Rather, we are a conflict of desires–or, thinking back to Lyotard–narratives. Slavoj Zizek maps Lacan’s theories onto materialist thinking to argue that we are often a conflict of the various ideological desires projected onto us by Others (who we articulate to ourselves). Thus, to tease out the second point: for Lacan there is no Truth to guide us, we are guided–and often extremely out of touch–with our own Desire (and our principle Desire is for a Truth that guides us, for a Father (in the Freudian sense) or a Master).

So, a Lacanian or Zizekian analysis can do a couple of things. First, it can identify the Desire for mastery or production of a “Father” (often referred to as a Big Other). Second, it can trace the ways in which daily existence unconsciously reinforce the Law of the Father (or “the sense of normal” provided by the dominant social narrative).

Spivak: Spivak splices Derrida’s critique of language and signification with Foucault’s commentary on institutional power to argue that it *technically* impossible for a subaltern (someone on the margins of a particular culture/society/network) to speak. Why? Because speaking requires authority, and authority requires mastery. By the time one has mastered the master language, one has been mastered by it–they have lost the status of subaltern.


Read Berlin’s essay “Rhetoric, Ideology, and the Writing Classroom.”

If you want a follow up, here is his companion essay, published 4 years later, “Poststructuralism, Cultural Studies, and the Composition Classroom.”

New Media 8.2 / Photoshop Thursday

Since I am not expecting too many people to have their videos ready for today, I wanted to have a productive activity ready to go. It has been awhile since we played with Photoshop, and since our 3rd, 4th, and 5th project will likely call for some graphics or image editing, I figured we could use today to brush up on our skills.

Let’s try a few tutorials:

New Media 7.2 / Crowdsourcing the Project 2 Rubric

Our minor taks today involves reviewing Stockman’s advice for novice videographers.

  • Think in shots
  • Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes (stay close to your subjects, use only short establishing or wide shots)
  • Keep your shots under 10 seconds long (way under)
  • Zoom with Your Feet (but NOT with the camera running, zoom with shots)
  • Stand still! Stop fidgeting! And no zooming during shots! (or, buy a tripod)
  • Keep the light behind you (pay attention to lighting)
  • Turn off the camera’s digital effects (add effects in a program later, like iMovie or Adobe Premiere)
  • Focus on what interests you. Really interests you. (“Focus on something–a person or an angle of interest–and your video will improve instantly”)
  • Don’t use amateurish titles. (You have the opportunity to narrate your video–so be strategic about putting words on the screen).
  • Keep your video short (especially important for Professional Writers–and don’t forget to front load)
  • Use an external microphone (at least, check audio quality. Don’t use poor audio)

Our major task for today concerns the Project 2 rubric. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I want you to have a role in determining what the grading criteria will be for the second assignment. As a heuristic, I’ll ask you to think about the assignment across three poles: content, composition, and technology.

Please take 2-3 minutes to write down a few possible grading categories. Then we will go around the room and create a list. In terms of “turn-in,” I am going to ask everyone to create one 5 minute video (give or take) and submit it to YouTube. You will then share the link with me via Canvas. Please remember that it is possible to set a YouTube video to private if you so desire.

Because I am asking you to post the video to YouTube, I will also ask you to write a description of the video (in lieu of a post-mortem). Which means we should talk a bit about writing a quality YouTube description (thanks Internet). Those linked articles are for one particular purpose. So, while their advice is valuable, you might also think about writing a description for this particular purpose and your narrower audience. That is, see the description field as a site for possible invention.


Rhetorical Theory 7.2 / Identification, Division, Symbolic Action

Kenneth Burke, George Carlin, and Language as Symbolic Action

Today is our second day working through Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical theory. I want to open by listening to George Carlin, since we didn’t get to it last class:

Today we work through two more of Burke’s central essays, one on metaphysics and the other on language (and the way language structures/impacts our relation to the world).

I want to spend the beginning of class dealing with the former, and the end of class dealing with the latter. So, first, I will ask you to pair up. Each pair will deal with one clause of Burke’s definition. Working together, submit a five sentence summary of your clause to Canvas.

First, Carlin’s bit on euphemism:

As I mentioned last class, one of my good friends argues that Carlin’s resistance to euphemism reflects the very kind of verbal realism that Burke works against. On the other hand, I would argue that Carlin’s rant–while a redress of overly complicated language–also testifies to the idea that words themselves have agentive power, that words aren’t merely neutral carriers of information, but rather that they are symbolic actors, shaping the way we feel about what they/we think.

I would also argue that the most (in)famous bit of Carlin’s career, his “7 dirty words” routine, provides a concrete example of how words can have symbolic power beyond their mere meaning. We could trace the rhetorical effect (not affect!) of this speech, noting all of the actants (people, laws, places, ideas, morals) it pulls into conversation, and its impact on cultural practices.

All of this is a very roundabout way to get at what is at stake in Burke’s insistence that language is “a deflection of reality.” Earlier in the semester we talked about stasis theory, and the idea that the first stage of an argument is to agree on what something is, to label it. Burke reminds us that there is no such thing as a neutral or innocent naming–that any entity could be named otherwise, and that the decision what to name something is, potentially, momumentally important, ethically loaded, or downright dangerous; we will see this in the terms of technical communication when we read Steve Katz’s “The Ethic of Expediency” later this semester. For now, I would offer this tweet to set a conversation about the importance of recognizing the non-essential nature of our terminologies:

Because that leads to this.

Writing a Longer Paper

Since I know a few people are intimidated by the thought of a 20 page paper, I wanted to break the process down a bit to show you what it looks like. First it is helpful to think about what kinds of research questions often drive rhetorical scholarship:

  • What do people think about X? [Bibliographic survey, review essay]
  • How does X compare to Y? [Compare and contrast essay]
  • What can X tell us about Y? [Analysis essay]

Each of these questions (modes of invention) leads to a slightly different kind of arrangement (or outline). The third example above is the standard analytical essay format. Here’s what the third paper comes to look like:

  • Introduction: 2-3 pages, argues why the research is necessary now (kairos), why you/I should be interested in it (nomos, identification, who are “we the audience,” identifies the exact object of study, and what research argues–what new thing does it offer?
  • Previous research: 2-3 pages, what previous research does this work extend? what similar studies are there? Sometimes this is part of the introduction, but usually it comes next. Not all analytical essays need this, either.
  • Theoretical Lens: 3-4 pages. At its heart, and analytical essay is an attempt to look at something in a new way. As such, these essays have to build a lens. In Burke’s language, let’s call this “a way of seeing.” What theoretical ideas or writers are you using to look at an object?
  • A core part of any research paper is the thesis, which begins as a question, but should end up as a very, very specific statement. This is why it is important to compose the thesis LAST. This might be something like: “This paper uses Kenneth Burke’s notions of identification and symbolic action, combined with a recognition of Diogenes’s notion of cynicism, to explicate and trace the impact of George Carlin’s infamous speech. By shocking Americans sense of “good taste,” Carlin’s comedy engendered a Supreme Court case that reshaped both American law and American attitudes by fundamentally altering the American ethos, our shared identity, and amplifying our fundamental belief in free speech.”
  • Let’s think about this thesis mathematically, as: This paper uses A.1 and A.2 along with B to [VERB] [OBJECT OF STUDY]. Such analysis [VERB] [IMPORTANCE OF WORK]. The object of study can be a text, person, idea, event, building, object, film, piece of music, etc. The verbs can come from a long list: examine, engender, reveal, enforces, supports, contradicts, challenges, questions, problematizes, complicates, echoes, urges us, etc.
  • In the case of my hypothetical paper here, then, we would take 4 pages to explicate those theoretical concepts using primary and secondary sources: what is Burke’s theory of identification (1 1/3 page), what is his notion of symbolic action (1 1/3 page), and who is Diogenes and what is his notion of cynicism (1 1/3 page)?
  • Examination of A.1: 2-3 pages How Carlins’s speech identifies its audience, who are “we”?
  • Examination of A.2: 2-3 pages
  • Examination of B: 2-3 pages
  • Conclusion 1 page: what have you proved? why should we care again? what can we (that audience you shape in the introduction) do next, do tomorrow, do to make this scholarship relevant to our lives?

So that gives us a minimum of 14 pages. But, let me assure you, the minimum will NOT be the problem. Once you start following this format the challenge will be squeezing everything I am asking you to do in ONLY 20 pages.

If you choose to write the shorter paper, the analytical paper, then you are doing the same work I have outlined above, but in a more narrow scope (a smaller, more defined, single object) and with a far more specific lens. But the structure of the paper is the same (i.e., this paper reveals the pivotal role kairos, ethos, and pathos play in Alex Rodriguez’s recent attempt to apologize for using performance-enhancing drugs). You are performing the same kind of close reading, but I do not expect the additional research into prior scholarship or the larger scope.


There’s three essays on the homepage to read for homework. Each work with Kenneth Burke, but I offer them also as examples of research projects–to what extent do they follow the archetype that I offered above?

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