Monday without each other

On February 27, we will NOT meet as a group in class. Please complete your exploration as planned (which is due).

Also please watch this video talk by David McCandless on TED.com. He’s a data dude, but he’s also an artist and a journalist. Please watch this at least three times–this will take you about an hour total. Watch, walk away. Spend a few hours away from it. Watch it again. Then watch once more. While you’re watching the third time, I want you to take notes about what you notice the most about what he shares–the thing he talks about that startles you the most, the least, the thing that you wish you could do. AND visit his web site to just poke around and see what you can see: Information is Beautiful.

THEN I want you to spend 300 words or so writing about how this connects to: ethos, pathos, logos, AND how his data visualization may or may not function as a kind of memory palace. Another question related to this: is data visualization visual rhetoric? How? Why? (Obviously, I’m stacking the deck a bit on this because I think DV is VR… but you need to figure out why. Bwahahaha. Yes, that’s my mad scientist laugh.)

See you on February 29! Be ready to talk at length about this experience and weave your explorations into this discussion. Also be prepared to switch OCU blogs that you read regularly. We’ll change blogs you read in class Wed., start to talk about the final projects, firm up plans for the trip, discuss the work you’ve done in the past week, and generally have a grand ol’ writing time.

Rocking Halloween in an information literacy class

Today, we are sitting in the AUM library taking an information literacy class about how to search through databases, Google scholar, how to find images, videos, books, articles, and more. We started our information search for Civil Rights (CR) playlists by just searching online in Google, Bing, Wikipedia, etc. We began where we needed to begin–with everything in the world online. Now we have specifics: either a specific event that occurred or the overall CR (depending on which part each of us decided to work on first). We also have some songs and/or artists chosen, such as Phil Ochs, Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte, and so on. (Anything in bold below is work due on Nov. 2–so read on and take note.)

We even get our own research guide to help us continue our research projects. Amazing what we can do nowadays. Sheesh. It’s so the 21st Century.

Our Own ENGL 1017 Research Guide from AUM's Library: ROCKIN'

We’ve begun our information search, and it’s time to think about filter bubbles, so we’ll be watching this video next to understand how internet search engines may be limiting what you have access to immediately when you search through Google, Yahoo, Bing, or whatever. Check this out TED talk for homework and blog 300 words by Wed. Nov. 2: Eli Pariser on Ted.com. Whether Pariser is entirely right or not, I think his talk bears thinking about. Specifically, we need to consider a more active determination to seek information, rather than letting information come to us, especially if it’s being filtered. We need to search deeper in the libraries of the world, through databases, through scholarly sites, to gather more, to know more, to be better informed–to be a better writer for our readers.

We’ll dig around the library again for a class period on Nov. 7 and/or 9, but we’ll meet first in class both times. I’ll let you know if and how we’ll do this, but be aware that this might be a class thing we do.

NOW you’ve read James Purdy’s article and Randall McClure’s articles… And taken an information literacy class. For homework–please blog about your experiences in the information literacy class from today and talk about how it extends your learning from those two articles. Talk about what you learned in this class, what was new to you, what surprised you, what was “old hat,” how you have decided to work on research in ways that are different than you have before (I hope!). Due Nov. 2: 300 words.

Also on Nov. 2, you’ll need to have posted something on a playlist page or as a blog post and be able to talk about what’s up with your last two big projects–either one that you are beginning with (either is okay to start with). You’ll have books, articles, visuals, and more that you will have found to share… I’m so excited about the possibilities for these two projects. I think you’ll be very proud of the work you end up doing: it’s the chance to be innovative, creative, and yet remember what’s been so we don’t do the bad stuff again.

As we are working through this class, I realize all over again how powerful it is to know how to search through a library. The libraries of the world are still the most important places in our culture–the best places to find out about history, literature, art, music, and beyond in every discipline ever. Images, recordings, illustrations, home movies–these are all things you will find in archives, in libraries–places where these things do not exist anywhere else. It’s awesome and daunting and miraculous and amazing. Say thank you to the librarians of the world who have collected and preserved and annotated and cataloged and digitized all of this. “Thank you, librarians!”

NOT everything is on the web, nor is it reliable on the web, not always, anyhow. So love your library. But still love the web. I love the web, too–it’s freeing and open and getting more so all the time, but it doesn’t have everything yet. It will. I know it will.

Still. I love coming to the library. If I worked in this building, I’d never get any work done… I’d be poking around on databases and in stacks all day. I’d so get fired. Once I worked for a library at the circulation desk, shelving books. I took loaded carts to the appropriate location in the library to re-shelve. Usually, this task might take a student working about an hour or an hour and a half, at the most. I took several hours sometimes. I checked out the contents of the books before I shelved them. Then I looked at the books surrounding them once they were back on the shelf. Sometimes, I’d just sit on the floor and read for a few minutes. It was deeply wrong, I know, and I knew it then, but books were like crack. I couldn’t put them up without looking at them… I was addicted. I was fired after three weeks. Well. I wasn’t fired, I was re-assigned to work behind the desk checking books out to library patrons. I was the slowest one on staff. Why?

Because I looked at all the books people were checking out and said things like, “Hmmmmm, this looks great” or “I never knew this author wrote that book” or “Wow, what major are you? This looks like a fun topic.” Again, I got a talking to from the circulation librarian, who really liked me, but who was beginning to understand I was not cut out to work in a library. I stayed at the library at Boise State University for about a month–just enough time to know where everything was, to learn about a variety of books in multiple disciplines, learn how to search for ANYTHING, and find every nook cranny with intriguing things (music, movies, realia, and more–OH, and special collections–be still my heart), and to scope out all the truly great study locations.

We parted friends, me and the librarian, at least I thought so, though I often detected a slight twitch in her right upper eyelid every time we met after that. She smiled, but it looked like it hurt just a little bit.

I loved that job. But the job I really wanted was “reader.” I wanted to be paid to read books and learn and gather information and share and all that. I wanted that job.

And I got it. I’m a college professor.

And I’m teaching a class where all of you get to do all of that. Ah. Heaven.

If I could have said this…

If I could have said anything to myself before I finished college, based on the commencement speeches we just watched, it would be:

  • Never fear, you will always be surprised.
  • Plan, but plan on changing.
  • Be open, embrace difference.
  • Be one with serendipity.
  • Work at what you love, not what you think you should do.
  • Never lie to yourself, you are not good at lying.
  • Avoid failure, it can almost kill you.
  • But if it happens, act like you’ve been there before and keep your dignity.
  • Redefine who you are whenever this seems right.
  • Do not let your jobs define you; define your jobs.
  • Perhaps your dreams are bad dreams: “Thankfully, dreams can change.”
  • “You cannot win improv”: collaboration is what matters.
  • Serve what you love, and you will have love.
  • Be great, no pressure.
  • Be sure you get rid of all your incompletes.

University education… it’s all it’s cracked up to be. I’m so glad I did it.

And I’m so glad I learned to write. And I’m so glad I started writing again. And I’m so glad I’m this teacher, teaching this class, this semester, doing this very writing now.