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Rhetoric, Technology, & the Internet

The Internet is a complex, distributed, end-to-end system of communication protocols. Yet, it, like all other technologies, is deeply political, cultural, and rhetorical in nature. In this course, we will complicate any divisions held between the technical and cultural by examining the rhetorical and regulatory design of the Internet and higher-level Web technologies. We will adapt rhetorical theory to explore the ways arguments and meaning are constructed and embedded in the design and use of technology.

Course Overview

  • Instructor: Chris Lindgren
  • Office: Nolte Center for Education, Room 331E
  • Office Hours: Wednesdays at 10:30am-11:30am or by appointment

"Rhetoric, Technology, & the Internet" provides you with an opportunity to examine and understand the technologies underpinning the Internet, and the people developing and implementing these technologies. You will complete the course with a thorough investigation of the rhetorical dimensions of a situated use of technology and a new set of critical tools to apply beyond this course. All of the projects and readings in this course are designed with the following objectives in mind:

  • How Internet technologies enable/limit persuasion;
  • How to adapt rhetorical theory to 21st century digital writing;
  • Ethical issues, including free speech, copyright, fair use, privacy, and more;
  • Rhetorics of social networks.

A note about "Writing-Intensive"

This is a writing-intensive course, so be prepared to produce lots of texts. The course will be front-loaded with scholarship, introducing you to fields of study, professional practices and experiences, and cross-disciplinary methods and methodologies to utilize in your own rhetorical investigations of technology. These readings, and your writings about these readings, will help you investigate your own technology for your final project in this course. More information about what constitutes a "writing-intensive" course at UMN can be found on the Policies page.

A note about "Technology & Society"

This course is also a "Technology & Society" themed course. I have designed this course to provide us the means to examine how our individual use of technology mediates our social lives in complex ways. More information about what constitutes a "Technology & Society" themed course at UMN can be found on the Policies page.

Texts & Tools

All course readings will be provided either in our shared Google Drive folder or with a hyperlink.

Students will spend $10 or more photocopying or printing drafts.

We will use Google Drive to submit writings and provide feedback.

Reading List

(Subject to change; Order reflects class schedule)

Assignments

Assignment (Each 100 points) Weight
1. Reading Summaries and Responses 25%
2. AutoEthnography Fieldnotes & Conceptual Memos 20%
3. Project Proposal 15%*
4. Project Proposal Review 5%
5. Auto-Rhetorical Experiences (AREX) 35%

* Percentage increased by 5%, since I removed the performance assignment

1. Reading summaries & responses

25% of overall grade
Due: See schedule for due dates

Throughout the semester, you will need to read many complex texts, which will help you craft your own analytical frameworks for your larger projects. To help you retain, synthesize, and integrate all of this conceptual work, you will be asked to respond to a series of questions, or a provided prompt, about the readings for the day. These writings will help guarantee a thorough and meaningful reading, priming the short amount of class time we have to dig deeper into the conceptual work. Overall, this series of writings will help us build a vocabulary for how to talk about rhetoric in relationship to technology.

The writings are graded, and I assess them by their quality and thoughtfulness. Below are criteria for both types of writings: Responses and Annotations.

Responses

I will either ask you to respond to a particular prompt or a set of questions.

  • Demonstrates understanding of the main arguments, claims, and important concepts;
  • Responds directly to the prompt directions, which will sometimes ask for summaries, integration or synthesis work of concepts, or more closely pointed questions of the text.
  • Concise, yet clear prose;
  • Adheres to formatting guidelines: single-spaced, block-formatted paragraphs, one space between paragraphs.
  • Quotations & citations: cites page numbers or video timestamps of author claims/evidence, but no direct quotation, as you must put the arguments and claims of the work in your own words.
  • Question-Responses: Your responses to questions on worksheets must demonstrate the aforementioned criteria above, so you must address the nature of the question in as much detail as possible, citing where you found the idea/information.

Annotations

The following are the required components of the annotation assignment. Each annotation should be ~300-450 words, unless otherwise noted. The annotation will adhere to my "brand" of APA guidelines, citing the page numbers, while avoiding quotation. It should include the 2 main parts with its underlying properties:

  1. Paragraph 1: Recasting the argument: Hitting the high points, while minding the details
    1. State the main argument
    2. Then, summarize what claims, and support for those claims, build the scholars case. This can manifest in numerous ways in scholarship. Here are some possible argument-making strategies:
      • Drawing from previous research to define a problem
      • Using some combination of theory and "method" to respond to such a problem
    3. State what implications and conclusions were drawn at the end
  2. Paragraph 2: Application and discussion
    • This paragraph provides a space for you to:
      1. Make connections with prior readings, and/or
      2. Consider potential ideas and questions about a particular technology that you hope to investigate in the next phase of class.

Grading and Logistics

  • All of the responses add up to 100 points total and is weighted at 25% of your total grade for the course.
  • Writings are due before class.
  • Writings for each week will be written within 1 document per week. Though, since we have class 2 days a week with readings for each of those days, writings for the days' readings will be due before class on that day. (I'll explain this in class.)
  • Upload your writings to the appropriate Google Drive folder.
  • Some of the responses will be peer-reviewed.
  • You have an opportunity to either revise a response or annotation, or replace a lower grade with a new annotation written for your AREX project.

2. AutoEthnography Fieldnotes & Conceptual Memos

20% of overall grade

Due: See schedule for due dates

Description

Near the end of phase 1 of the course, we will shift our attention to collecting qualitative data for your Auto-Rhetorical Experiences (AREX) project. Each week you will gather artifacts and write fieldnotes and memos to help you:

  • Initially figure out your research problem and question: What your project will focus on,
  • Continue to narrow the focus of your AREX project,
  • Integrate particular readings from the first phase of the course with your rhetorical exeriences with technology, and
  • Whatever else you can think of.

Grading and Logistics

  • Upload fieldnotes at least 2 days per week, but write them as needed.
  • Fieldnotes vary in length, but should be as descriptive and detailed about some-thing or some event pertinent to your project.
  • Upload conceptual memos (at least 3) before every class on Wednesday.
  • Memos can be quick notes about conceptual connections, but can also be freeform writing/drawing combinations to help you think through particular experiences in connection with the literature.
  • Consistency is key and is the main focus of the grade. I will provide comments, suggestions, questions, and nudges here and there, wherever I see that I can offer help. Take note, though, that these writings are for your projects, so the quality, candor, and earnestness of them will ultimately shape your AREX project. The less you engage these writings, the less developed will your AREX project be.
  • Please create the following folder structure in Drive:
    AREX-[last name][firstname initial]
    |--fieldnotes
    |--memos
    
    Then, invite me as an editor to this folder.
  • Feel free to invite each other to your Drive folders, so you can comment on particular ideas, memos, sets of texts, etc. This is not required, but a good additional feedback mechanism.

3. Project Proposal for Auto-Rhetorical Experiences

15% of overall grade
First due date: 03/30; Revision due date: 04/20
~3-4 pages, single-spaced, Times New Roman, 12pt font, 1 inch margins

Description

First and foremost, please note that the project proposal is not a document that represents your complete, polished, and/or finished understanding about the output of your AREX project. Instead, the proposal should demonstrate (to me) how you have carefully considered your object of study and what steps you intend to take to analyze the rhetorics of the technology. Accordingly, the proposal should include:

  1. Description of the research problem and question(s): This description should include reasons why you decided to conduct your study on the particular technology. Typically, this starts with a small, but potent, powerful sense regarding some felt problem. Overall, remember that the goal of the AREX project is to develop a social-technological consciousness about your mediated activity using a particular networked tech. I will provide a handout with more details about how to approach those elements.
  2. Synthesis of currently applicable scholarship: This section should integrate ideas from our readings in phase 1 of the course that help you elaborate on your "felt problem" discussed in the first section. Your job is not to include everything, but key ideas that help you elaborate on the research problem that you are attempting to construct and address with this project.
  3. Secondary research plan: In this section, you will craft a secondary research plan, so you can develop a richer understanding of some of the history and social context surrounding your particular technology. This section represents your steps toward building connections between your technology's technical design and social-rhetorical motives, i.e., the infrastructural part of this AREX project.
  4. Data collection methods: In this section, you will discuss autoethnographic methods and how they will help you engage this particular rhetorical problem. You will draw from our past readings to do so.
  5. A timeline for completing the project: In this section, you will show how you will carve out particular times during the week to conduct your project. It's absolutely vital for you to create a set of habits to write fieldnotes and memos consistently and as soon as you are able, since these texts become important means to develop your final project.

4. Project Proposal Review

5% of overall grade
Conducted during class on Wednesday (03/30); Due by 5pm on Thursday (03/31)

Description

Students will perform a round of guided peer review on 3-4 completed drafts of the AREX project proposal. I will provide a handout in class to help facilitate the process and describe how I am assessing your provided feedback.

  • Completeness: Did you respond to all of the prompts on the peer-review guide?
  • Peer evaluation: How did your peers value your feedback? I use this information not as the end-all factor, but I use it to identify any marked trends across your reviews.
  • Engagement: Are your comments, suggestions, questions, and other forms of review thoughtful and tactful?

5. Auto-Rhetorical Experiences (AREX)

35% of overall grade

Due: 05/13

Description

Rhetoric is an art form that enables people to make sense of their situations and navigate the everyday. Autoethnographies are studies that enable people to reflect and build knowledge about how they, themselves, experience contexts and cultures. Both, essentially, provide us the means to explicate where social codes hit the idiosyncratic and vice versa. In this final project, you will take up Susan Leigh Star's (1999) call to surface the "invisible work" (p. 385) of infrastructure by grounding it in your own personal experiences with a technology. Overall, your goal will be to develop a heightened sense, or consciousness, about your mediated activity using a particular networked technology.

You will conduct an autoethnographic study of your own, situated, lived rhetorical experiences with an everyday "boring" technology. The goal is to examine and construct a stronger sense about how your actions using this particular technology produce digital, semiotic traces that have the potential to be taken up in rhetorical ways by yourself, but also the creaters of the technology. As Star puts it, you are engaging in the act to see how infrastructure is relational (p. 380): how your recurrent, situated role relates to an infrastructure and its historical development.

Additionally, this project asks you to construct a sense about what "dictums" (Wernimont, 2015) are at work, and how you are cast in this "articulation" (Star, p. 385) of technological use. Your goal is to construct a rhetorical research problem, which includes considering broader questions such as the following: How and by what means do you you negotiate meaning with your particular technology? What are the typified social / group norms of your particular mediated experience—based on your subjective position? What are your own underexamined beliefs or biases related to your experiences with this technology versus that of the designers of it? How is your rhetorical experience hooked up into a larger infrastructure?

You will write fieldnotes, memos, proposals, and even performances to develop your own rich sense about how your use/design of technology is another rhetorical art form and experience specific to our contemporary setting.

Objectives

The objectives of the AREX coincide closely with that of the course (rubric items italicized):

  • Learn how an Internet technology enables/limits persuasion;
    AREX articulates a rhetorical problem related to a particular technology.
  • Learn how to adapt rhetorical theory to 21st century digital communication;
    AREX constructs a review of relevant scholarship that attends to a conversation about this rhetorical problem by using particular readings from the first phase of the course and sources found throughout the research process.
  • Learn how your everyday life – its practices, social relationships, and norms – relate to the rhetorical aspects of a technology's design made "upstream" (Star, 1999, p. 385);
    AREX reports on a set of relational rhetorical properties constructed through your auto-rhetorical study.
  • Examine and learn more about a particular ethical issues surrounding your technology;
    AREX discusses the personal implications of such rhetorical properties.

Properties of the AREX Paper

  • Printed out paper to be handed in + copy in your Google Drive folder
  • 1 inch margins, 12pt font size, Times New Roman font, double-spaced
  • All sources cited in-text and a references page (APA or MLA; APA preferred)
  • ~2,500 - 3,500 words (10-14 pages)
  • Write top-matter material in top-left corner: Name, Instructor, Class #, Analytic or Evocative genre, Date
  • Page numbers + Family name in top-right corner of header
  • If relevant, use screencaps and images, but be sure to use a Figure scheme and cite their origin.

AREX Rubric

  • Introduction:
    • Responds to some of the early phase 1 rhetorical scholarship (Burke, 1950/1969; Miller, 2009).
    • Defines the personal rhetorical problem examined in your auto-ethnographic study.
    • Discusses the nature of the relationship between yourself, the technology, and broader infrastructure.
  • Scholarship Review:
    • Integrates 2-3 aspects of scholarly work read or provided to you in class to help you elaborate how your study contributes to a particular discourse about social-technological relationships. For example, quantified self, everyday technologies, algorithmic harms, algorithms and persuasion, technology and identity, etc.
  • Preliminary Findings:
    • Report on findings about your rhetorical experience.
    • Divide into sub-sections as needed, based on your coded categories.
  • Conclusions and Implications:
    • Discuss how this project illuminates some issue and what you will do/can do about it.
  • Other Factors:
    • All sections given appropriately descriptive headings.
    • Follow concise, research-style prose, as per our in-class discussions

Schedule

The schedule is subject to change.
Click on the "Phase 1" block below to expand the content for this part of the schedule.

Phase 1 of the course: We will review scholarship that we will apply to the rhetorical experiences project in the second phase.

W1D1 – 01/20/2016

Course Introduction

What is rhetoric and its relationship with technology?

Readings

  • None due before class. What follows are readings/videos that we will review in class.
  • Course syllabus

Writings

  • None due today, since it's the first class.

Other directions / comments

W2D1 – 01/25/2016

Traditional rhetorical principles (one perspective)

Looking back to rhetoric's past to look forward

Readings

  • Burke (1950/1969). Traditional principles of rhetoric. Chapter 2 in A rhetoric of motives. University of California Press, pp. 49-65.: Meant to succinctly review the tradition of rhetoric and re-purpose Burke’s call to construct “extensions” (p. 64) of it.

Writings

  1. Create a comprehensive list out all of the "types" of rhetoric that Burke describes throughout this excerpt. (There are a lot!) Structure the list by the people he cites, (e.g., Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, etc.). Be sure to attach names to works and time periods. (Note: You will need to look up the time period information). Under each person jot down details about what Burke says about these people and their notions of rhetoric.
  2. From this list, draw a tree diagram that traces the derivations of the word "rhetoric" and its surrounding terms and concepts. (Don't forget Burke's "identification"!) Scan/take a picture of the diagram and embed it in your response. And, bring the paper version to class.
  3. Cite page numbers for everything. You'll thank me later!
  4. At the end, write a ~2 paragraph response to Burke's thought's about extending rhetoric (p. 64). Use it as a space to ask questions about what this course is and/or can be.

Other directions

Submitting written work:

  • Writings submitted in the weekly Google Drive folder
  • Filenaming scheme: lastname-firstinitial-wk2-exploring-rhetoric. Ex. lindgren-c-wk2-exploring-rhetoric.
  • Writings for both Mondays and Wednesdays are in the same document for the week.

W2D2 – 01/27/2016

Rhetorical Systems & Cultural Values

Explore the implications behind the claim that rhetoric is cultural

Readings

  • Lipson, Carol. (2004). Ancient Egyptian rhetoric: It all comes down to maat. In C.S. Lipson & R.A. Binkley (Eds.), Rhetoric before and beyond the Greeks, (pp. 79-98). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Writings

  1. In similar fashion as you did for Burke, do the same for Lipson and her explication of maat. Create a list as a way to make sense of what indeed maat was and what purposes it served in ancient Egyptian culture. Again, cite page numbers.
  2. From this list, draw some model or representation of your understanding of maat. Scan/take a picture of the diagram and embed it in your response. And, bring the paper version to class.
  3. At the end, write a ~2-3 paragraph response to this prompt: After Lipson's analysis of the performances and dynamics surrounding maat, she concludes that a "rhetorical system simultaneously reflects and reinforces the cultural system, while also ritually enacting its major values" (p. 95). Reflect on your own cultural background and personal situations, where you find similar instances of maat-like traditions and beliefs at work. Think of one case in which you took part and describe it.

Other directions / comments

W3D1 – 02/01/2016

Mediation, Thought, & Language

Sense-making & Muddle-making

Readings

  • Excerpt of Vygotsky, L. (2012). Thought and language. A. Kozulin, (Trans.). pp. 103-110, 114-119, 125-132.
  • Bateson, G. (1948/2000). Metalogue: Why do things get in a muddle? Steps to an ecology of mind. publisher. pp. 3-13.

Writings

  1. For Vygotsky: What are some of your major takeaways from Vygotsky's theory of language, material/practical activity, and thought? Discuss a few takeaways with support from the text. Feel free to add questions and comments after you review your takeaway.
  2. For Bateson: What's this metalogue about? Summarize what you think Bateson is arguing through this dialogue.
  3. Synthesis: What connections do you see between these readings and last week's on rhetoric? Spend some time drawing from particular ideas that we discussed as evinced by particular paasseges from the texts.

Other directions / comments

These readings will help us have a discussion about how we come to make sense of things in the world; namely, how are interpretations are mediated by our past understandings and the nature of the situation in which we find ourselves.

For Vygotsky, try not to get too lost in the details of his theories about how children formulate concepts. Instead, gather a sense about Vygotsky's main claims about the relationship between an individual, their historical experiences with words and things, and how that history shapes understanding. Also, when you see the word "genetic" or "ontogenetic," think "historical origin / genesis"—not the kinds of genetics we know of today.

W3D2 – 02/03/2016

Materiality & Language

On the relationship between sign systems and the material

Readings

Writings

  • Annotate Miller's position paper. In the second paragraph, try to put some of the pieces from previous readings into conversation with Miller's position on rhetoric and the material. Limit your discussion to 2 prior pieces and focus on one strong connection that you see between them. Note: I will review the annotation assignment in class.

Other directions / comments

Note that Miller's piece is written for a rhetoric conference, and it's a position paper of sorts. Consequently, some names are dropped and concepts are taken for granted. That's ok, though. For your reference here are some background texts on some of the names dropped, if you wish to dig deeper:

W4D1 – 02/08/2016

Rhetorical situations and semiotics

Rhetoric & context

Readings

  • Bitzer, L.F. (1968/1995). The rhetorical situation. In W. A. Covino (Ed.), Rhetoric: Concepts, Definitions, Boundaries. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Chapter from Roundtree, A.K. (2013). Computer simulation, rhetoric, and the scientific imagination: The rhetorical situation of simulations, pp. 9-18.

Writings

  1. According to Bitzer, what are the major elements of the rhetorical situation? Define each one.
  2. On pages 5-6, Bitzer walks through 7 different criteria by which he classifies a situation as rhetorical. Discuss these criteria with your own example that would be considered rhetorical by Bitzer. According to Bitzer, (and we do not have to agree!), what would make your example situation not rhetorical in lieu of his framework?
  3. How does Roundtree extend Bitzer's rhetorical situation through her exposition on rhetorical agency and arrival at relational meaning? Be thorough and comprehensive in your response to this question.

Other Notes

For class: We've been working towards a rhetoric of technology that understands how meaning and understanding is mediated by tools. Rhetoric is an art that has focused on the use of language, and more recently recognized the on the conceptual work we've read and considered thus far

W4D2 – 02/10/2016

Procedural arguments || Experience design

Continuing our journey into meaning-making through multiple modes

Readings

Writings

  • Sign up for an account and annotate (i.e., comment on) the online version of Brown's chapter. In your comments, write questions, connections to past readings, and other thoughts related to the scope of our class. We will use these as a roadmap for our discussion.
  • Identify 2-3 connections between Brown's procedural arguments and Jacobson's call for web designers to accept and develop a new "paradigm" of experience design.

Other directions / comments

W5D1 – 02/15/2016

femme disturbance && programmatic violence

Exposing some social-cultural assumptions about technology and its role in shaping consciousness

Readings

Writings

  1. What are blas & cardenas' main aims regarding their exposition and reflection on "imaginary computational systems"?
  2. What do you think blas and cardenas mean when they say that logics are "embodied"? And how does that connect to their main position on thinking about logics and how it relates to computational logic on digital technology? Be sure to use multiple places from their article to answer this question.
  3. How is the Turing Machine a queering technology, according to blas and cardenas?
  4. What is Bivens' main argument? How does it connect to blas and cardenas' article?
  5. Pick one of the technologies described in these 2 pieces, imagined or actually implemented, and discuss how you see some of these particular designed experiences as procedural arguments?
  6. Finally, what do these 3 scholars help us add to our previous notions of rhetoric and technology / procedural arguments?

Other directions / comments

W5D2 – 02/17/2016

femme disturbance

Continuation of technology, individuals, and society

Readings

Writings

  1. In this first response, write how the following people whom we have read would come to understand this Reuleaux Selectors project as rhetorical: Bitzer, Roundtree, & Brown. Divide this prompt into 3 respective paragraphs. One for each rhetorician.
  2. How is this selector mediating people? Divide your response into 2 paragraphs about how blas & cardenas and Bivens, respectively, might respond to such a question.
  3. (How) Do you see this selector as rhetorical? Note any ways you ally or diverge from the aforementioned people.

Other directions / comments

W6D1 – 02/22/2016

Algorithms && Computational agency

Establishing a problem for all of us to start formulating for the AREX project

Readings

  • Finn, E., Golbeck, J., & I. Bogost. (04 Feb. 2016). What should we know about algorithms? New America [YouTube Channel]. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2016 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gm2AEf-jKbc.
  • Tufekci, Z. (2015). Algorithmic harms beyond Facebook and Google: Emergent challenges of computational agency. Colorado Technology Law Journal, 13(2), pp. 203 - 218. Retrieved 15 Feb. 2016 from http://ctlj.colorado.edu/?page_id=238.

Writings

  • For both the reading and the video, take extensive notes within the Google Doc. (Note: Provide timestamp markers for the video.) After your notes, discuss how both the reading and video 1) construct problems surrounding our "sense" of algorithms, and 2) what people can perhaps do or come to know about such algorithms (agency).

Other directions / comments

Some comments after our week 5 discussions. After our class, I realized that the question I posed for us to discuss, "(How) Is this Reuleaux Selector rhetorical?", could be inferred as me asking you if this RS is inherently rhetorical. FTR, I do not adhere to the notion that tools are inherently rhetorical. I think historical and situated experiences mediate how a person interacts with a technology, and so looking at how a particular person would create the RS illuminates how it's genesis is a rhetorical response for the developer community. That's one context of rhetorical activity linked to this technology. Another would be studying its situated uptake by a particular group of people who are making a particular application. This collected data can be used in myriad ways for myriad ends, so a developer/UX designer-as-rhetor would conceive of the best ways to use such data for particular ends that meet the needs of their stakeholders and userbase. Those 2 audiences typically desire very different ends. A good rhetorical analysis would reveal and put a name to the activities, data, algorithms, and experiences and what aims, purposes, and meaning are linked to such activities and objectives. Again, a rhetorician aims to name the mediational means and ends at work and shed light on implications of such rhetorics.

I hope that this provides a small glimpse into how technology, too, mediates peoples' behaviour, attitudes, and ideas. Yet, I don't want you to think that such rhetorical activity is the result of the technology alone. In this class, I hope you come away with a better sense about how understanding rhetorical experiences is about crafting a detailed sense of the people in the situation, as well as the broader social context. It's about seeing how language use and tool use are not discrete, but usually enmeshed and enacted together to provide a particular rhetorical framework for others to respond, etc. In short, tool-use is dynamic and can be rhetorical in similar ways as language use.

Remember that language use is dynamic, tool-use too. For instance, an engineering report about a new lightrail line is the result of complex meaning-making acts, many of which are nonverbal and mediated through tool use to ultimately make-up the properties to produce the inscription (a report): database input of measured values, creation of diagrams, impromptu conversations during meetings, meeting notes, goals, etc. Sometimes, these experiences are synthesized into a particular format of a "report" for non-engineer audiences, which must operate rhetorically for numerous reasons. Yet, consider this question: How can non-engineers come to an engineering report as non-engineers, or even engineers who are not a part of the project, and come to understand particular parts of it? The act of reading this inscription, this report-text, is rhetorical. Reading and interpreting the report requires a non-engineer to develop a broader context surrounding the text itself: to ask more of it or the engineers who wrote it. Additionally, consider how such contexts are multiple, which is way texts are often taken up and responded to in many different ways. Furthermore, maybe those who wrote it weren't even onsite and part of the practical embodied experiences to produce the values central to particular recommendations and design strategies, so they only have part of the story. Yet, they have training and understand how particular computed values and diagrams are constructed and why they are constructed. A person's embodied participation and experiences facilitates particular ways of knowing, so a good rhetor understands how these experiences shape another's uptake and interpretation of their messages/inscriptions.

Overall, I hope that this provides a small glimpse into how technology, too, mediates peoples' behaviour, attitudes, and ideas, but it isn't the result of just the technology alone. It's about crafting a detailed sense of the people in the situation, as well as the broader social context. It's about seeing how language use and tool use are not discrete, but usually enmeshed and enacted together to provide a particular rhetorical framework for others to respond, etc. Next week, we'll dive more into these matters with regards to notions of crafting an "algorithmic sense" and how that will prove useful in your AREX projects.

See you next week!

W6D2 – 02/24/2016

Quantified Self && Intersectional data && Speculative Rhetorics

Exploring rhetorical meaning-potential

Readings

Writings

  1. Pay attention to the issues they discuss. How do their discussions of the "power in the aggregation of data," "resistance," people being "data-fied / codified," and "intersectional data" relate to Zufecki's concerns about "algorithmic harms" and "computational agency"?
  2. What does carrington mean by #BlackLivesMatter as a "collective mode of address"? How might you connect it to Brown's notion of rhetoric?
  3. Rhetoric has largely been concerned with producing desired ends based on what is probable. In the Classical period, remember, that this notion of probable was achieved through speech (and later writing). Why? Because speech was the primary medium of delivery that was linked to mediating large audiences or significant stakeholder(s). Algorithms, it seems, have become another systematic means of mediating large bodies of people. Wernimont and Diakopoulos (and Tufecki, Golbeck, and Bogost from Monday) illuminate how the subjectivities of algorithms can be better understood by looking at data models and understanding the purpose(s) and motive(s) enacted through a software's algorithms. If we accept these claims as true, then how would you make the case that digital technologies are a part of contemporary rhetorical activity? Respond to this question through an example from your own everyday use of a particular app, website, etc. If possible, choose a technology that you are considering for your final project.
  4. Finally, start thinking about what digital technology that you want to examine and "read" more closely. Write about what technology you are interested in and what felt senses you have regarding possible notions of rhetorical experiences related to it.

Other directions / comments

W7D1 – 02/29/2016

The ethnography of infrastructure: Day 1

Start turning our attention toward how to approach studying rhetoric and technology

Readings

  • Star, S.L. (1999). The ethnography of infrastructure. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(3), pp. 377-391.

Writings

  1. Write an annotation of Star's article. In the second paragraph, consider how Star's call for an ethnography of infrastructure adds to your ideas about the rhetoric of human-tool relations—ideas that you wrote about for last Wednesday's prompt.

Other directions / comments

W7D2 – 03/02/2016

The ethnography of infrastructure: Day 2

Continuing our efforts to develop our AREX project ideas

Readings

  • Review phase 1 readings

Writings

  • Based on our phase 1 readings, choose elements from our corpus and start to define your take on "rhetorical experience". You do not, and should not, draw from every single reading, but instead you should choose from a selection of scholarship that speaks to you and how you currently would define such a concept. Be sure to first discuss how rhetoric has been traditionally logocentric, i.e., reduced to language use alone. From there, define "rhetorical experience" as a concept that blends communication and material practices. Your definition should be 1-2 pages.

Other directions / comments

W8D1 – 03/07/2016

Starting to define "Rhetorical Experience"

Picking up our discussion of Star and our phase 1 rhetoric readings

Readings

  • No new readings.

Writings

  • No new writings

Other directions / comments

W8D2 – 03/09/2016

Autoethnography + Proposal Assignment

Discuss autoethnographies + AREX Proposal

Readings

Writings

  • Write out your notes to Ellis et al.
  • Write about your technology of interest. Specifically, discuss why you are considering this technology for this project. What about it do you sense has some 'rhetorical experience' to study and analyze?

Other directions / comments

Spring Break (03/14 - 03/18)

Phase 2 of the course: Conduct autoethnographic study and apply rhetorical theory to your "rhetorical experiences" with technology.

W9D1 – 03/21/2016

In-Class Workday: Proposal Writing

Bring your proposal drafts and any questions for myself and your peers

Readings

  • Readings related to your proposal

Writings

  • Bring your working proposal drafts

Other notes

  • I will prepare a group activity for you to shop your working proposals.
  • Come prepared to work for the entire period. Bring a list of tasks to complete. (I may ask you to show this list to me.)

W9D2 – 03/23/2016

On Data collection + Proposal work

More project proposal work, focusing on data collection

Readings

Writings

The following items count as a memo for the AREX project, even though they are not quite memos. :-)

  • Write notes about Wolfinger's article and how you see fieldnotes as a part of your research process.
  • Also, consider how you might apply some of the UX designer visualization strategies to your own project. How might it serve as an analytic strategy for your research problem and question?

Other notes

W10D1 – 03/28/2016

AREX Diagramming

You will each create a diagram of your current questions, problems, understandings about your AREX

Readings

  • None.

Writings

  • Create your diagram with the goal of articulating your research problem, questions, and data collection methods to your peers, so you can elicit directed feedback from them.
  • Work on drafting your proposal

Other directions / comments

W10D2 – 03/30/2016

Proposal Due & Peer Review

Project proposals are due and we will conduct peer review during class

Readings

  • None.

Writings

  • Proposals due in designated Google Drive folder;
    Filename scheme: lastname-firstinitial-arex-proposal.
    For example, lindgren-c-arex-proposal.

Other notes

W11D1 – 04/04/2016

Fieldwork + Review Plan + Conferences

First week of fieldwork + F2F conferences begin

Readings

  • No class

Writings

  • Variant field-notes in your AREX folders, as you write them. NO memos, since we have not reviewed what they are yet.
  • Based on your peer-review comments from last week, write up the following 2 sections in a memo format:
    • Section 1: A revision plan that responds to and uses feedback from your peers
    • Section 2: An evaluation of each of your peers’ feedback on your draft. Each eval should be about a paragraph in length, providing me with information related to some useful feedback and some feedback that could have been more explicit about the content in review.
  • Submit this review-plan memo within your individual AREX project folders by Wednesday at 5pm. If you have a conference with me on Wednesday, please finish it before our meeting.

Other notes

W11D2 – 04/06/2016

Fieldwork

TBA

Readings

  • None.

Writings

  • More field-notes

Other notes

W12D1 – 04/11/2016

Fieldwork + How to do analytic work

Start developing some qualitative analysis skills

Readings

  • Pace, S. (Apr. 2012). Writing the self into research: Using grounded theory analytic strategies in autoethnography. TEXT, 16(1). Retrieved 14 Jan. 2016 from http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue13/Pace.pdf.
    • Skim the intro and 'evocative' autoethnography sections, and focus your energy on the "Analytic Autoethnography" section and its subsections. My lecture and activity will cover and extend that material.

Writings

  • Variations of field-notes and collect relevant artifacts.

Other notes

W12D2 – 04/13/2016

Fieldwork + Develop our qualitative analysis skills

Continuing our analysis activities

Readings

  • None

Writings

  • Variations of field-notes and collect relevant artifacts.

Other notes

W13D1 – 04/18/2016

Fieldwork + Analytic work

Fieldwork + Auto-Interviewing

Readings

  • None

Writings

  • Fieldnotes, artifacts, and conceptual memos

Other notes

  • Short in-class lecture on ethnographic interviewing tailored for auto-ethnography and rhetorical inquiries followed by time to draft auto-interview questions

W13D2 – 04/20/2016

Revised Proposal Due + Fieldwork

Continue Auto-Interview Questions

Readings

  • None

Writings

  • Fieldnotes and conceptual memos
  • Revised proposal due: Hand in print copy to me

Other notes

W14D1 – 04/25/2016

More fieldwork

Complete Auto-Interview + In-Class Worktime

Readings

  • None

Writings

  • Completed auto-interview + continue fieldnotes and conceptual memos

Other notes

W14D2 – 04/27/2016

Writing + Analysis Work

More on organizing your coding / analysis work

Readings

  • None.

Writings

  • Fieldnotes and conceptual memos

Other notes

W15D1 – 05/04/2016

AREX Studio Time

Taking time to talk about writing auto-ethnographies

Readings

Writings

  • Fieldnotes and conceptual memos

Other notes

W15D2 – 05/04/2016

AREX Studio Time

TBA

Readings

  • TBA

Writings

  • Fieldnotes and conceptual memos
  • Final AREX due on 05/13

Other notes

Grading & Policies

Revision due dates

Revision(s) due date Assignment(s)
TBA
  • Project Proposal (required), Responses (optional)
  • Details to come.

Grading guidelines

  • A: 100-94%, A-: 90-93%: "A" work exceeds basic assignment criteria in several ways.
  • B+: 87-89%, B: 84-86%, B-: 80-83%: "B" work meets and exceeds basic assignment criteria
  • C+: 77-79%, C: 74-76%, C-: 70-73%: "C" work meets basic assignment criteria.
  • D+: 67-69%, D: 64-66%, D-: 60-63%: "D" work fails to meet one or more basic assignment criteria.
  • F: 0-59%: "F" work is incomplete, not received, or fails to meet any basic assignment criteria.

Deadlines/Late work

Final drafts handed in after their due dates will be reduced half a letter grade, unless prior arrangements are made with me. After a two days, the grade lowered a full-letter grade, and the same for the third. A fourth day results in failure. However, life happens, and if you require extra time to complete your project, contact me prior to the assignment deadline if you would like to earn partial credit.

University Writing Intensive Requirement

As stated on the University of Minnesota WI web site, writing intensive courses must meet the following standards:

  • Writing is comprehensively integrated into the course
  • The writing in the course must be tied to the course objectives and course outcomes. The syllabus must reflect the critical role that writing plays in the course. Writing assignments in a WI course may be designed as a means to achieving mastery of course content, as a means to enable students to develop professional output, or as a balance between the two.
  • Writing is a significant part of the course work
  • Students must write at least 2,500 words or the equivalent of finished writing, in genres and modes of production appropriate for the course and discipline. The written products may be distributed over a variety of assignments or through a single major assignment; both are encouraged. Group-authored documents may be part of a WI course, but each student must meet the minimum word count.
  • Writing is a significant part of the course grade
  • Writing must be a major component of the final course grade, with this relationship detailed explained in the syllabus.
  • Writing is learned through revision
  • Instructors should provide substantial feedback on writing assignments, and allow revision in response to that feedback. Continuous, focused feedback building systematically over the course of the class is encouraged, as is a variety of modes and purposes of feedback.
  • Writing is explained and practiced in the course
  • Explicit writing instruction must be integral to the course, as part of the course content and as a significant, recurring activity. Through instruction, students should learn about writing, including its disciplinary structures and functions, and should practice writing in a variety of modes and settings appropriate to the discipline. The forms and types of writing instruction that will be used in the course should be explained in the syllabus or supporting teaching materials.
  • Instructors should understand the practice of writing instruction
  • Those responsible for teaching and assessing writing in a WI course should recognize the importance of writing instruction.If teaching assistants participate in teaching and assessing writing, they must be trained and supervised. If multiple faculty members are teaching a WI course, all must ensure that writing intensive requirements are met.

Technology and Society Theme objectives and criteria

As per the University's description: Technology and Society Theme courses consider the impact of technology on society as well as how society has shaped, used, and responded to new technology. The rapid pace of technological advancement requires thoughtful and meaningful consideration so that the use of technology reflects the shared needs and values of society. Technology and Society Theme courses should introduce students to a broad range of perspectives on the adoption and use of certain technologies.

Technology and Society themed courses must meet these criteria:

  • The course examines one or more technologies that have had some measurable impact on contemporary society.
  • The course builds student understanding of the science and engineering behind the technology addressed.
  • Students discuss the role that society has played in fostering the development of technology as well as the response to the adoption and use of technology.
  • Students consider the impact of technology from multiple perspectives that include developers, users/consumers, as well as others in society affected by the technology.
  • Students develop skills in evaluating conflicting views on existing or emerging technology.
  • Students engage in a process of critical evaluation that provides a framework with which to evaluate new technology in the future.

Absence Policy

Unlike many courses at the University, WRIT 3577w is a small, discussion‐oriented class. Your attendance is required and will benefit your progress in the course. Please note the following policies:

  • Missing the equivalent of one week or more of class with unexcused absences will result in a lower grade. Missing the equivalent of three weeks or more with unexcused absences will result in failing the course. In some cases, an excessive number of absences, even if they are excused, may result in a lower grade.
  • Students are responsible for coming to class on time. Tardiness may be considered equivalent to unexcused absences. In addition, a student who is unable to function adequately in class (e.g., falling asleep or attending without appropriate materials or assignments) may be considered to have unexcused absences.
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  • A student who is absent for any reason is responsible for all material and activities missed in class. Students must check with the instructor to find out was missed.

Academic honesty & integrity

You are expected to do your own academic work and cite sources as necessary. Failing to do so is scholastic dishonesty. Scholastic dishonesty means plagiarizing; cheating on assignments or examinations; engaging in unauthorized collaboration on academic work; taking, acquiring, or using test materials without faculty permission; submitting false or incomplete records of academic achievement; acting alone or in cooperation with another to falsify records or to obtain dishonestly grades, honors, awards, or professional endorsement; altering, forging, or misusing a University academic record; or fabricating or falsifying data, research procedures, or data analysis. (Student Conduct Code: http://www1.umn.edu/regents/policies/academic/Student_Conduct_Code.html) If it is determined that a student has cheated, he or she may be given an "F" or an "N" for the course, and may face additional sanctions from the University. For additional information, please see UMN's policies. The Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity has compiled a useful list of Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to scholastic dishonesty. If you have additional questions, please clarify with your instructor for the course. Your instructor can respond to your specific questions regarding what would constitute scholastic dishonesty in the context of a particular class-e.g., whether collaboration on assignments is permitted, requirements and methods for citing sources, if electronic aids are permitted or prohibited during an exam.

Plagiarism can include submitting a paper:

  • written by means of inappropriate collaboration;
  • written by you for another course, submitted without the permission of both instructors;
  • purchased, downloaded, or cut and pasted from the Internet;
  • or that fails to properly acknowledge its sources through standard citations.

For resources on how to appropriately use and cite sources, and to avoid plagiarism, see: http://writing.umn.edu/sws/quickhelp/sources.html

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The University is committed to providing quality education to all students regardless of ability. Determining appropriate disability accommodations is a collaborative process. You as a student must register with Disability Services and provide documentation of your disability. The course instructor must provide information regarding a course's content, methods, and essential components. The combination of this information will be used by Disability Services to determine appropriate accommodations for a particular student in a particular course. For more information, please reference Disability Services.

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As a student you may experience a range of issues that can cause barriers to learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, alcohol/drug problems, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may lead to diminished academic performance and may reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. University of Minnesota services are available to assist you. You can learn more about the broad range of confidential mental health services available on campus via the Student Mental Health Website.

Academic freedom and responsibility

Academic freedom is a cornerstone of the University. Within the scope and content of the course as defined by the instructor, it includes the freedom to discuss relevant matters in the classroom. Along with this freedom comes responsibility. Students are encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. Students are free to take reasoned exception to the views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled.

Reports of concerns about academic freedom are taken seriously, and there are individuals and offices available for help. Contact the instructor, the Department Chair, your adviser, the associate dean of the college, or the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs in the Office of the Provost.

Language adapted from the American Association of University Professors "Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students."