New Media for Tech Comm

ENC 3416 | Spring 2015 | Dr. Marc C. Santos

Course Description

Welcome to ENC 3416: New Media. I have two primary purposes for this semester. First, I want to expose you to as many new technologies as possible. It is quite likely that you will be called to use several of these technologies in your career as a professional or technical writer. The incredible development of new communicative technologies over the past decade requires writers who can compose in a variety of spaces for diverse audiences with multiple media.

But I would also suggest that the same incredible development of new technologies transforms more than the ways in which we communicate. So, second, I want to explore how these technologies impact epistemology, ethics, morality, education, and aesthetics. Put simply, what is “new” about new media? How do new technologies change what we consider to be the best way to live? How do they shape the way we relate to others and conceptualize ourselves?

To begin to answer these questions, we first must have a sense of what constitutes the “old” media, which we will begin to glean via Walter Ong’s seminal essay, “Writing is a Technology Which Restructures Thought.” We will use Ong’s essay, and its consideration of literacy, as a foil for understanding Gregory Ulmer’s theory of “electracy.” Our semester long exploration of electracy and new media will interrogate the ways in which new technologies prioritize subjectivity, transience, contingency, ambience, dependence, risk, and affect over objectivity, permanence, assurance, abstraction, autonomy, security, and logic.

Syllabus

  • Email: insignificantwrangler at gmail dot com
  • Twitter: Oisin16
  • Office: Cooper 301c
  • Office Hours: Tuesday / Thursday 2:00 – 3:30

It is best to reach me via DM on twitter if you have a quick question. If your question is more than 140 characters, then send me an email. I check my email twice daily (9:00am, 3:00pm). I generally avoid email on the weekends. So, if you have an emergency and need to reach me right away, use twitter.

Materials and Requirements

I try as hard as I can to control course costs. That said, there are a few requirements beyond books for a course dealing with technology.

First, there is the book list. I highly recommend purchasing these books via Amazon.

  • Robbins, Learning Web Design: A Beginner’s Guide to HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Web Graphics
  • Kalman, My Favorite Things

Second, I will be asking you to purchase a website account from SquareSpace. They charge $10 a month (or $8 a month if you pre-pay for an entire year; there is a significant student discount if you sign up with an academic email–$60 per year). While I am hesitant to make you pay for web space, I believe it is important for you to negotiate a professional and contemporary web interface, and SquareSpace provides a quite impressive range of options for a small price. Personally, I use Bluehost.com, which is more powerful (in that it allows for custom HTML and CSS, offers nearly unlimited server space for file uploads, and has the one-click WordPress install which I am using to power this site). But Bluehost costs $180 for a 3 year commitment (and they charge that upfront, though you can cancel after a period of time and receive a refund).

Third, you will need a device that can take digital pictures. Quality does not matter.

Fourth, I you will need a device that can capture digital video and audio.

Fifth, you will need invest in a tripod. I tripod for a smart phone can be purchased for around $20–something like this).

I have a limited number of digital video cameras that I can sign-out if you cannot find access to something that can capture digital video.

Sixth, you will need a Twitter account. You are free to use an existing Twitter account. You are free to not use an existing Twitter account (if you want to keep your personal account distinct from “school”).

Projects and Expectations

This course is built around 5 major projects and 2 additional expectations.

Project One: “What is Electracy?”

Our first project speaks directly to this course’s two main objectives. You will construct a web sites that explicates and remediates 3 different (and complicated) media theorists: Walter Ong, Martin Heidegger, and Gregory Ulmer. These websites will be composed in “hand coded” HTML and CSS, using the tutorials provided in the Robbins book.

I’ll be asking you to invent a new genre for the digital essay, answering the question “what is electracy?” How do we remediate the essay to maximize the impact of digital composition? How can we incorporate both images and links in productive, and perhaps unexpected ways?

Project Two: Affective Objects

In our second project, you will create a website consisting of at least 5 html pages and containing at least 3 self-produced videos (of 1-3 minutes in length) that addresses the “rhetorical affectivity” of an object. “Rhetorical affectivity” is a term I just invented (sort of). One of our first tasks will be theoretical: we will have to unpack what rhetorical affectivity might mean.

We will do this through a series of readings and videos on a new theoretical movement: “object-oriented ontology.” We will then compare the theory to the work of multimodal artist Maira Kalman. You will use the theory and Kalman’s work as a relay (a model that isn’t necessarily a model) for your own digital production.

Project Three: Just One Thing

This project, inspired by Joe Smith’s TED talk “How to Use a Paper Towel,” asks you to create a 60 second polished and professional video advocating for how a small change in people’s daily routine could have significant social, physical, or ecological impact.

You will shoot the video twice (there will be a rough draft presentation and then a re-shoot with more polish).

Project Four: Fly Your Nerd Flag High

Working in groups of 3, you will produce and publish 3 episodes of a podcast built around an interest/event/object of your choice. These podcasts will be produced via Audacity and published via SoundCloud or iTunes (your Squarespace sites can host the files, but we still need a publishing venue).

Project Five: Personal Web Presence

In our final project, you will transform your Squarespace site into a professional portfolio, collecting and showcasing the work you have done in every class in the Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Technology major. The idea is for you to craft a space that will highlight both your skills and accomplishments as you go towards the job market.

Requirement 1: In-class workshops

Over the course of the semester, we will do a lot of mini-exercises in class. These will often focus around learning a new technological skill.

Requirement 2: Twitter

I will expect you to check twitter everyday. I will send out class messages exclusively through twitter with the hash tag #enc3416. Additionally, I will expect you to send out 2 tweets per week with that hash tag.

Assessment

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Project One: 20%
  • Project Two: 20%
  • Project Three: 20% (5% for the draft, 15% for the final)
  • Project Four: 20%
  • Project Five: 20%
  • In class workshops, twitter activity, reading quizzes, and other assignments: 20%

Standard Syllabus Stuff

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

Attendance

Since this is a course in which much of the learning takes place in class, I prioritize attendance. You may miss up to three class sessions without penalty. After the third absence, I will deduct one letter grade (10%) for each additional absence. If you develop a condition that will cause you to miss more than three classes, you need to contact me immediately to see if we can work out something. Typically, I do not excuse absences except in extreme circumstances.

I will excuse any absences for major religious observances provided I am notified of them within the first two weeks of the semester.

Class starts when I close the door. I take attendance right after I close the door. If you are not here when I close the door, then you are absent.

Disabilities

Students with a disability and thus requiring accommodations are encouraged to consult with the instructor during the first week of class to discuss accommodations. See Student Responsibilities: http://www.sds.usf.edu/. Each student making this request must bring a current Memorandum of Accommodations from the office of student Disabilities Services.

Contact

I am available via email at marcsantos at usf dot edu. I generally check my email twice a day–in the morning (around 9:30 am) and before I leave the office (around 3:30 pm). I try my best NOT to answer emails on the weekend.

I will hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 2:00 – 3:30. I am also available outside of these times by appointment (send an email). I highly encourage you to come to office hours, whether it is to discuss a particular project, the course readings, or Red Sox baseball. My office is 301c in Cooper Hall (look for the door with all the quotes on it).

Without question, if you need to reach me immediately, you should DM me on twitter.

Academic (Dis)Honesty

Plagiarism is bad. Don’t do it. If you do, then I have to do all of this. Don’t make me do all of that. Remember to give credit anytime you use text, images, audio/video files, or even ideas that are not yours. Make sure your attribution is clear and explicit.

George Carlin

The very existence of flamethrowers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, “You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”

This Guy Won’t Teach Me Anything

A general statement: my approach to teaching is “postpedagogical.” In short, this means that I do not view teaching as a transmission of knowledge or expertise from teacher to student. I actually thinking the idea of “teaching” in this manner is impossible (even if, as the rise of standardization and assessment indicates, it is seductive). I do, however, believe strongly in the possibility of “learning.” In a postpedagogical model of learning, it is my job to create problems and your job to invent solutions. I assess you on the ingenuity and sophistication of those solutions. In short, the projects I design do not necessarily have “right” answers, but the lack of a right answer does not mean there isn’t wrong approaches. If this is already making your head hurta little, good.

Calendar

This will change. A lot. But, hey, it least it provides a sketch.

Project 1 / Weeks 1-4

Week One

Tuesday: Course Introduction / My first HTML page [Basic tags]
Homework: Read: Walter Ong, “Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought” [PDF],

Thursday: Discuss Ong / HTML Workshop [Images / Links]
Homework: Read Ulmer’s chapter on “Hypermedia” from Heuretics [PDF], Read Ulmer, “Electracy: An Introduction”; select 10 quotes from Ong’s essay. Create 10 html pages with a quote on each page, an image on each page, and a link from one page to the next.

Week Two

Tuesday: Discuss. Discuss Project One.
Homework: Read Santos et al. “Our Electrate Stories” (Home and Electracy sections)

Thursday: Watch Ulmer. Discuss Ulmer. HTML
Homework: Robbins and HTML

Week Three

Tuesday: CSS Workshop [Layout]
Homework:

Thursday: Visual Rhetoric
Homework:

Week Four

Tuesday: Open Work Day
Homework:

Thursday: What is a Podcast? (Introducing Project 4)
Homework: Complete Project One

Week Five

Tuesday: In-class reading. Discuss Project 2.
Homework: Read Rivers.

Thursday: Read Barnett; read Kalman.
Homework:

Week Six

Tuesday: Discuss Barnett, Kalman
Homework: read Stockman

Thursday: Video shoots
Homework: Read Marwick and boyd.

Week Seven

Tuesday: Review Project One, Outline the rest of the semester.

Homework: Read Stockman pdf, plan Project 2

Thursday: Review Stockman reading. Brainstorming session for Project 2.
Homework: Work on Project 2.

Week Eight

Tuesday: Work day (Project Two)
Homework: Complete Project 2.

Thursday: Watch Project 2 in class.
Homework: Enjoy Spring Break.

Week Nine

Spring Break.

Week Ten

Tuesday: Introduce Project 3
Homework: Plan Project 3

Thursday: Work day in class with your group
Homework: Complete drafts of Project 3

Week Eleven

Tuesday: Watch draft videos of Project 3. Vote on introduction and typography
Homework: Revise Project 3.

Thursday: NO CLASS
Homework: Revise Project 3.

Week Twelve

Tuesday: Podcast planning day (outlining a podcast, pre-production notes)
Homework: Complete Project 3.

Thursday: Watch Project 3 in class.
Homework: Arrange Podcast schedule with partners

Week Thirteen

Tuesday: Twitter day
Homework: Work on Project 4, episode 1.

Thursday: Introduce Project 5
Homework: Complete Project 4, episode 1 (submit URL by Monday at 11:59pm)

Week Fourteen

Tuesday: Work on Project 5 [resumes] [visual rhetoric]
Homework: Work on Project 4, episode 2.

Thursday: Work on Project 5 [write-up project descriptions].
Homework: Complete Project 4, episode 2.

Week Fifteen

Tuesday: Work on Project 5 [screenshots of print documents]
Homework: Work on Project 4, episode 3

Thursday: Work on Project 5 [customizing Squarespace’s CSS]
Homework: Complete Project 4, episode 3

Week Sixteen

Tuesday: Podcast closing party
Homework: Complete Project 5.

Thursday: Sharing webspaces
Homework: Enjoy summer vacation

Archived Projects

Below are a list of the projects we are likely to work on this semester. This list is subject to change.

Project One: Make me a MEmorial that isn’t a Memorial

  • Deliverables: A PechaKucha, a research file, and a design postmortem

Our first project comes from Gregory Ulmer’s book Electronic Monuments. We will work together in class to craft this assignment. 

Project Two: Make Me a Map That Is Not a Map

  • Deliverables: A (physical) map, a poster board presentation containing the map, a postmortem

Our second project will develop out of Berry’s Personal Geographies. In short, this project will call upon you to construct a map out of mixed-media materials. I imagine the maps will be quite idiosyncratic. We will hold a gallery in which everyone displays their maps. 

Project Three: Make Me A Kalman with a Side of Rice

  • Deliverables: A video of 4 to 8 minutes and a postmortem

We will use the work of multimedia writer and artist Maira Kalman as a relay for designing this assignment. This assignment attempts to communicate the experience and feel of a particular place. It involves researching the history of a particular place and juxtaposing the experience of this place alongside that research. In short, plan on going somewhere. 

Project Four: “Just One Thing”

  • Deliverables: A series of videos sharing the same branding, each video should be 45 seconds to 1:30. 

Working in groups of 3 you will create a series of short, potentially viral videos aiming to demonstrate how making one small life change could have a tremendous impact on sustainability and/or personal health and happiness. The model for this project is Joe Smith’s TED talk on “How to Use a Paper Towel.”

Project Five: Personal Portfolio

  • Deliverables: a polished web presence

Finally, I will ask you to put together a professional web presence.

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