Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Please read: Our ebook is PUBLISHED!!



Writing About Literature in the Digital Age is officially self-published. You can find all three versions the book (PDF, Mobi, and ePub) at Internet Archive's site for it here and at our Goodreads page for it (yes, you can download it there) here.

In addition, you are all now authors on Goodreads - congratulations! To edit your author page, go to the page for our book, click on the link with your name under authors, and click on the link that says "is this you?" and send goodreads an email asking for author status. You will have to be a member of goodreads to do this. I seriously recommend you do this and review our book on goodreads - it will only take a second, for real.

Also, for those who have kindles, please email Derrick (or check his upcoming blog post on how-to) to double check the process of downloading our ebook onto a kindle. I think there are also directions on how to access an ebook from Internet Archive on your kindle here.

Good job everyone!

Webinar Tomorrow

Our class is putting on a webinar tomorrow to talk about how we created an ebook about literature, learning, and technology (in 2 weeks, no less). Anyone is welcome to join. We'd love to see you there!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Learning Outcomes

 How did you meet the stated learning outcomes for the course?

Learning outcome #1: Consume:

I believe I demonstrated my ability to analyze literary texts in my final chapter for the ebook. I showed my ability to gather, search, filter, sample, bookmark, and research wtihin academic and general sources through the following posts:

Here is a list of sites I bookmarked and tagged and sorted relating to my literary research. It also shows my ability to gather a lot of general sources about Huckleberry Finn. I then created a google document that shows how I sampled and processed that information.

You can see how I used different places to search out much of this information when I narrate my process of searching: Twitter, Creative Commons Images on Flickr and Google, Google Blog Search, Open Educational Resources, and Goodreads.

As for doing research within Academia, I posted about learning about and exploring library tools, using these tools to complete research on my chosen literary work, compiling all my academic research with research found for me by fellow classmates, and finding more social research online through an academic article.

Learning outcome #2: Create

I posted about my process of creating an online persona here. That link will lead you to my many different profiles, content outlets, and social networks as would my google profile which I newly updated this semester.

I made a personal learning plan here, some of which I followed pretty closely as it fit the domains of the course. I have documented my learnign efforts throughout the semester on this blog and even my personal blog here and here. I created an attempt at a multimedia composition here. As for creating and publishing more formally developed work in a public and durable format, I contributed a chapter to our class ebook and published it online for the class at internet archive and goodreads.

Learning outcome #3: Connect


I felt I connected meaningfully outside of the class on several occasions which I have narrated on my blog here, here, and here. I also advertised our ebook and webinar to several people who I thought had a vested interest in the project. These individuals are listed at our class wiki under my name.

I also worked collaboratively with our class to create our ebook and in a team to publish our ebook. It was a lot of work but ended up being a very rewarding process.


The Class


I believe our class met these outcomes together by consuming materials related to our literature on the web, narrating our process, creating informal and formal writing about literature, and connecting with both each other and outside of the class. I believe we could have done better on a whole with the create portion. Though we created an ebook as a class collaboratively, we did not do much in creating multimedia which is a legitimate form to use to talk about literature in the digital age.

Publishing a FREE ebook: Narrative of a very frustrating process

The Publishing Team ran into a few glitches today that would be important for you to know:

Problem: little known fact: As an independent publisher, you cannot publish to the Kindle store via Kindle Direct Publishing KDP (as has been our plan since we conceived of publishing our little ebook) and put it out there as "free" (ie. using a Creative Commons License). You must charge at least $0.99 unless you are a small publishing company, so that the big bad Amazon Kindle Co can charge a royalty on your product. (grin)

Solution: We shall instead publish our book (I believe in w/e format we want but this is still to be experimented with as soon as I receive a copy of our ebook) at the less-well-known Internet Archive under their text archive page. I tested this out today by publishing a PDF version of a homework assignment I recently did on Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown. Derrick will write a post about how to access these published versions of our ebook on a Kindle or an iPad at his blog.

Problem: Several of the sites we considered distributing our ebook through require an ISBN number. Did you know that you can only get an ISBN number through one of 160 publishing companies and that it takes 15 days to process your request as well as having a service fee?

Solution: We're just not gonna publish at those sites. :P so there.

So in the end our plan is to publish to the Internet Archive and possibly Goodreads.

---------
(added 6/13 4:38 pm)

Answers to Dr. Burton's questions:

What did your team do?

First, I created a diigo list of research I and fellow classmates had done about publishing our ebook. This list, all about publishing ebooks, might be useful to future classes or individuals who are concerned with this process.

Then, I read through and summarized this research for the class on my blog.

Next, I read through information on publishing via KDP and ran into quite a few glitches which are narrated here and here. You can also read through my notes that help you understand my process at a googledoc I kept open as I read to use to present about publishing later for our class.

What tools did you use? 

Diigo, google docs, google search, blog search, and eventually I will use Internet Archive and Goodreads to publish our ebook.

How did this coordinate with the overall effort?

Kept the class informed via posts on my blog and kept in touch with the editing and design team in order to make sure formating was correct for what we were publishing and getting a copy of our book. 

What went well or could go better?

See my the beginning of this post narrating the frustrating process of trying to publish an ebook and share it for free. 

Worries about Publishing

I've created a document of things we'll need to talk about with regard to publishing our ebook today. Too be honest, after reading the publishing handbook for Amazon KDP today, I'm a little concerned about whether we're able to publish our ebook as a free ebook. We'll need to discuss this and other issues today in class.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Places to Publish

We can publish to four different online publishers with our book in ePub format: 

  1. Kindle Direct Publishing - best option in my opinion, most readers. There is a GREAT how-to guide here.
  2. Barnes and Noble PubIt - We might actually have to have a "dumbed down format" like a Word, HTML, RTF, or TXT file, because this site's intention is to put it into ePub for you, but that would be easy with Calibre. Also I am not totally positive we can do it here because they take a 35% royalty so I'm not sure they'll take free ebooks
  3. iTunes connect - this requires an application process and may take a long time so doesn't really work too well for our class. 
  4. and Lulu which would get us into the iBookstore and Lulu's store which claims to have a large community of readers; I don't know how many of those readers will be our intended audience though.
Other options: 

Ashley Lewis also suggested we publish to Goodreads. I don't know what format Goodreads takes since they told her to contact them again "once the ebook is ready" before we could proceed, but it doesn't seem like it'd be too difficult a process. 

Ben had suggested we publish to Gutenberg but I don't think they'll take our book as it doesn't fit within their qualifications:

"Confirm the eBook has already been published by a bona-fide publisher (i.e., not self-published or unpublished). Project Gutenberg generally is not suitable for unpublished work. In cases where a work was published by a very small publisher or not widely distributed, Project Gutenberg might request copies of published literary reviews or similar documentation to demonstrate recognition of the work's literary value."  - Project Gutenberg publishing
 Publishing to Google books might also be a fairly easy option, but they will require both an ePub and a PDF version of the book. We would only have to follow steps 14 and 15 here after creating our book in both formats. This writer says it's a fairly simple process.

My suggestions: 

I think we should publish with Amazon Kindle, Goodreads, and Googlebooks. I believe this will reach the widest audience as a free ebook. Kindle will of course reach the most people, but those who don't use Amazon very frequently and want to read on their computers without an ereader will probably be able to just read it at googlebooks or if they're a big social reader, goodreads. Goodreads might take a little longer so we should have our book ready as soon as possible to complete the process.

If you didn't get the email

This job looks like perfect for someone from this class. I don't know if you all get the English dept emails or open them, but I had to post it in case you hadn't seen. Pretty awesome.

Company: CEO.com
Job Title: Associate Editor
Location: Lindon, UT

Work closely with the managing editor on site strategy, editorial voice, editorial calendar and overall digital initiatives for the CEO.com.

Helping to manage all content on our constantly updating Web site

Oversee selection, publication and promotion of articles and resources related to CEOs

Update CEO profile database and keep current information and news stories

Manage CEO.com social media accounts (twitter and facebook)



Skills:

Strong writing, editing, and copy editing skills

Strong organizational skills and solid work ethicKnowledge of Word Press, a plus

Knowledge of SEO best practices, a plus

Experience with Web site administration or publishing

Speedy decision-making and quick reactions to newsworthy topics

Great understanding of twitter and facebook

Bachelor's Degree (Journalism, English or Communications preferred)

Knowledge of current business news and technology trends



Contact
Greg Olson
Corporate Recruiter
Corda
Work: 801-805-9456
Cel: 801-319-0323
greg.olson@corda.com<mailto:greg.olson@corda.com>
www.corda.com<http://www.corda.com>

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Final Draft

My Final Draft is here including pictures in the correct sizes/ dimensions. Where do we send it to and in what format? Anyone know? (I wasn't in class Monday.)

Tweetable Thesis

I wasn't in class Monday, so I didn't know we were doing this but here's my attempt:

1st thesis: Students of literature must read and engage in a process of social inquiry and discovery, enabled by the richness of online resources, in order to properly engage with a text as it exists in today’s world.


Tweetable thesis: Students of literature must engage in a process of online social inquiry in order to properly engage with a text as it exists today.


What do you think? Still make sense?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Possible Images

The title of my chapter is Big River: The Socialization of Reading and Research in the Digital Age.
You can read my chapter here.
Here are some images I am considering for use:

CC licensed. Found here.
CC licensed. Image found here

CC licensed. Found here. (Writing may be too small to read on Kindle for this image)
CC licensed. Image found here
CC licensed. Image found here

CC licensed. Image found here
 Ok, this one has nothing to do with my chapter, but it's just so cute. :) Found here

Monday, June 6, 2011

Draft Two - In process

Here is a link to my second draft for the ebook.  Please do your critique of this draft.

Today's Class

Hey there fellow students,

I am sorry to miss class today; I realize we're all really depending on each other in the final stages of our project. I don't know how to write an excuse note sufficient to explain the reasons for my absence today but they can be summed up by one word: pregnancy. Any more detail than that would be too personal, and I'm not looking for a pity-me party.

I am hoping, as I've missed a few other classes today and won't have time to listen to a recording of the class, that one of you will be willing to take notes for me today. Is anyone willing to help me out? I would really appreciate it.

Thank you for your understanding.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pic for Social Reading

Looking for some feedback on this picture? What do you think of it as a header for my eBook chapter?

Creative Commons | HikingArtist.com

Social Reading and Research (first draft of ebook chapter)

Prominent literary critic Harold Bloom writes that “real reading is a lonely activity and does not teach anyone to become a better citizen” (Richter, 226). Yet in this same epilogue to his book The Western Cannon: The Books and School of the Ages he claims that “such a reader” reads to “enlarge a solitary existence” (Richter, 226). I find these two statements somewhat at odds with each other and tend to agree more with the later than the former, especially within today’s reading population. Reading is no longer “lonely” and has so much more capacity to “enlarge a solitary existence” by the connections one is able to make with others simply by sharing what one reads online. In the digital information age, individuals and the information they produce are increasingly connected not only by social ties, but ties of information and interest.  Online research of a theme in a book is only a few clicks away from the individual who produced that research. Knowledge is becoming socialized in a way it never has before and literary knowledge is swept up in that bundle as well. I would argue, through my experience this semester, that readers are not only limited when they do not allow themselves access to this socially connected knowledge, but, further, that they are not fully informed and cannot experience the text as it exists socially today. Students of literature must read and engage in a process of social inquiry and discovery, enabled by the richness of online resources, in order to properly engage with a text as it exists in today’s world.

Traditional literary reading and research would have us read the paper copy of the text in isolation, ask several questions about it and do a close reading explication of it, and find a few articles to corroborate our interpretation. Depending on your method or your instruction, you can rearrange the order of those tasks.  I started my academic journey in this way, reading my copy of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and going to the library to search out articles about the subject I was primarily concerned with in the book: the censorship of the N word in Alan Gribben’s latest edition. This is a hot topic in academic circles right now. I found an article that interested me from the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled The Redacted 'Huckleberry Finn': 'Chronicle' Bloggers Respond. Intrigued by the summary of several different arguments revolving around the N word issue, I followed this lead to the Chronicle’s blog (2011). Here I found academic and internet community collide. On these posts academics wrote, posted these articles online, and anyone who wanted could respond via the comments section.  There were even dissenting arguments! I followed one comment to the commenters blog and sent him an email asking more about his opinions. This is just one way information can lead to people who can lead to more information.

It reminds me of a theme in the very novel I was researching. Huckleberry Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer put a lot of stock in “book learnin'”.  At several points in the novel, Tom wants to do everything by the book, at one point chastising his friend Ben when he asks why they can’t play a their game a certain way. Tom says: “Because it ain't in the books so -- that's why. Now, Ben Rogers, do you want to do things regular, or don't you? -- that's the idea. Don't you reckon that the people that made the books knows what's the correct thing to do? Do you reckon you can learn 'em anything? Not by a good deal” (Twain, 11). But in reality, Huck doesn’t begin to really learn until he gets away from a structured school environment and associates with others.  It is in long discussions with Jim, his socially acquired knowledge, that Huck learns the most important lesson and decides not to give Jim up; he discovers that doing what society says is “right,” doesn’t always feel right and decides he’d rather “go to hell” and help a good man become free, than betray his friend (Twain, 217).

Just as Huck has to search outside of books to learn the most important lessons of the novel, readers and students of literature must take off on a wider river of information in order to understand the current social significance of what we read. In my own research journey, I found a plethora of resources that increased my understanding of the novel and involved me in ongoing discussions about it. Listening to the audio version of the novel contextualized the sounds of the dialects I was reading. Searching for syllabi online helped me understand the controversies and issues currently being discussed about the novel. I found a hypertext version of the novel that linked to pictures of the action that helped me as a reader to visualize the plot.  Searching the social streams (such as twitter) that were discussing the novel helped me to find interesting things others were doing with the novel and author such as google maps all the important locations Mark Twain’s life, literary pilgrimages one could take to explore the novel and Twain’s life, photos of original copies of the novel, and even a version of the book translated into bar codes. I also found plenty of blogs and groups discussing themes from the novel. All of these resources and more enriched my study and more fully contextualized my understanding of the issues I was researching. I could not have engaged with the novel to the same degree without using these methods of digital and social inquiry and it is necessary for students of literature today to do the same, because knowledge isn’t isolated anymore. The internet makes even reading a social process.

Richter, David H. Falling into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature. Boston: Bedford, 2000. Print.

"The Redacted 'Huckleberry Finn': 'Chronicle' Bloggers Respond." Chronicle of Higher Education 57.21 (2011): B4. Print.

Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2003. Print.

Academic Inquiry leads to Social Inquiry

Remember how an academic article in the Chronicle for Higher Ed led me to their blog? Well I was scrolling through the comments on one of their blog posts and found an interesting comment with a link to this person's fascinating blog. I wanted to see if he had written anything more about the Huck Finn censorship issue discussed in the article, but his blog didn't have a way to search past entries and his comment was from three months ago. So I clicked over to his information and sent him the following email:

Granite Sentry,

I followed an interesting comment you made here to your even more interesting blog. I couldn't find a blog history and wondered if you had written any posts of your own on the Huck Finn censorship issue. I am a English student and for a current assignment I am trying to find online discussions of literary issues, like the one posed in the article from the Chronicle. Thanks for your help! 

Bri Zabriskie
http://brizabriskacademic.blogspot.com/

I'll let ya know if I hear anything back. :)

----- update at 2:45 pm 03 Jun 2011 ------

His response:


Hi, BZ. Thanks for your interest, but I haven't touched on the Huck Finn thing so far. Fascinating topic though. Good luck!
GS

Ah well! Better luck in other social endeavors!

One Week of Huck's Digital Life

Ok so this screen shot is actually just of the Twitter feed about Huckleberry Finn in the last 9 hours, but if you follow this link, you can see all the tweets about Huckleberry Finn in the last week or longer. I've found it to be a great resource for social discovery!

Why?

Probably the most interesting/ unique thing I've seen done with Huck Finn so far is to turn the entire book into barcodes... Why? Who knows. But it is pretty cool, you gotta admit.

Here's a screen shot:

Hey it worked!

I commented on that quotes blog that I mentioned in my last post and the author commented back already! Here's our short but relevant conversation!

I wrote: "I find it almost ironic, after reading this quote by the author, that Alan Gribben’s latest edition of Huckleberry Finn has replaced the word “nigger” in a new edition of Huckleberry Finn with “slave” so as not to offend potential readers."

And Richard Scott replied: "Hi, Bri, and welcome to Uphill Writing. A lot of what is going on with Mark Twain’s work would not fit with his philosophy, I think. But then, he DID stipulate that his autobiography should not be released until a hundred years had passed."

Yay for social discovery!

Mark Twain

I found this blog with a number of quotes by Mark Twain through Google Blog Search. I thought this particular quote was somewhat relevant (and slightly ironically) related to my subject of study, the censorship of both Twain's novel and/ or the N word in his novel. The quote?

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” - Mark Twain

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Huck Finn Reading Group

That's right! On goodreads. It's private, but I've sent a request to join along with a message about my interest in joining and a link to my blog (forgot to copy the message so I could paste it here before I sent it via goodreads). Thought that'd be an awesome social discovery connection to make especially in relation to my thesis for my chapter of our ebook (see my previous post on my chapter).

Review of Wiesel's Night

Night (Night, #1)Night by Elie Wiesel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a difficult book to read, but I think it is really important to read. It's actually my second time reading I'd really like to read Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning to get a little different perspective.

I feel like I read this book very differently this time around then when I read it in high school. I paid attention to the themes of faith, self-denial, survival, and character development for the class I am in. I wonder what we will talk about in class tomorrow. Discussing a book like this is always interesting in a religious environment like BYU.



View all my reviews

Processing Huck Finn Research

I thought I'd share my process of gathering all my research in and trying to formulate it into an outline with you all. Here is my google doc in process. We'll have to see if this embed feature works. If not, check out the external link to my document here.



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bleh. Please ignore that embeded doc and just to to the actual document. It is UGLY.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The N Word

This is truly the hot topic among scholars surrounding Huck Finn and education right now, the censorship of the novel itself, the offending N word, and racism and where I plan to focus my research. The article Aly found for me addresses the attempt by teachers of Huckleberry Finn to teach in an anti-racist way that often brings up subconscious or unnoticed racism. Thus the teaching of the novel itself is under severe debate.

One noted Mark Twain scholar, Alan Gribben, has produced an edition of the book that replaces the word "nigger" in a new edition of Huckleberry Finn with "slave" so as not to offend readers and open up potential audiences (i.e. high schoolers) that the book might not have had before. Research I did previously in the Chronicle of Higher Education reveals intense academic debate about the censorship issues this presents. 

 The article Taylor provided for me addressed the N word/ censorship issue as well stating that on the American Library Association's banned- books list on the Web, Huck Finn is right up there in the top ten. I think the fact that this novel and the censorship of it are so controversial is a perfect subject to discuss in an ebook for educators who may be interested about where the conversations about Huck Finn are happening online, what the general public has to say about them (and so their possible students), and even a summary of what is being said. This is a potential aim for my article. I think it would not only interest educators, but i could also write in such a way that it could act as an avenue for the average Joe to become interested in the novel.

HTML converter (if we must)

As far as I can tell, most HTML converters are really imperfect and would require some knowledgeable clean up afterward, so I'd rather avoid them by using Mobipocket and Calibre if we can (see Sam's post and my comment) or Nyssa's idea for Adobe InDesign. But if we must use one, text fixer is an example of one that works more cleanly than most and will keep structure/ formatting. It won't keep images though. Word to Clean HTML is another option. I don't think any free online converters will keep images.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Free, Simple, Quick, Painless ebooks (I think)

While we do have the option of just using an online converter to change a Word doc version of our book into HTML (More specifically XHTML, Nyssa - my husband says the only difference between HTML and XHTML is that XHTML conforms to higher standards so you have to remember to close all your tags and such but it's essentially the same), the converters are not always perfect and then we'd probably need someone to double check the coding for us. Assuming (pretty sure this is a safe assumption) that none of us are fluent in XHTML coding, this could pose problems.

Nyssa found a way to use Adobe InDesign to export to ePub, but I'm not sure any or enough of us are familiar with InDesign. Besides, I think we (my genius husband and I) have found a way to convert directly from a PDF to ePub format. This would not only skip the XHTML conversion step but also put most of us in a format that we're probably more familiar with: the PDF. Here's the article that explains this.

It looks like it's originally intended for users who already have ebooks in PDF format and are frustrated that their chosen ebook readers don't support PDF format, and so can use this platform to convert their book into ePub which is supported by most ebook readers. Interesting note: the article says the ebook situation is similar to when the music industry was trying to find a uniform format and now ePub is the closest format we have to the comparable music Mp3.

The article has directions for how to use this "free and cross-platform ebook management tool," Calibre, to accomplish the task and it looks relatively painless and quick. I think we should at least give it a shot, though we may need to understand more about PDF/ ePub formatting of ebooks so we know what is allowed, like what Nyssa discovered about graphics in the ePub format, etc.

Anyways, check out the article about this process and the demo video on the Calibre home page to learn more. Let me know what you all think!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Response to Legitimate Literary Criticism

I wrote the following as a response (just my thoughts typed out as I think them) to Dr. Burton's post today on Legitimate Literary Criticism and thought since it was such a long comment it deserved the attention of a blog post.
Are the conventions of an ebook the same as online writing or is it more like a go-between for the two mediums? I think our ebook feels more formal to me than most online writing and I feel almost compelled to make it longer than not. Interesting. 
Also, thank you for this post. It finally does what I feel like I've been waiting for this semester, a justification of the way this course is taught and of what we are doing (ie. "The ubiquitous, media-rich, interconnected, networked online environment is in fact our default intellectual medium, and therefore our literary criticism must be responsive to the conventions of communication developing there." and "I want my students to write "legitimate literary criticism" not according to expiring standards, but by the emerging standards that emphasize frequent, informal, formative, media-rich, interactive prose. Better a living literary criticism than a dead or dying one.")
I've been trying to explain how this class fulfills the parameters of it's original intent as prescribed by the English department and found myself at a loss, but these arguments are pretty sound. They frankly address the tensions or issues the class presents. I do wonder (like our discussion about library database interfaces) if the academic world and its literary criticism can be driven by demand though -- I suppose I'm not as convinced that for everyone in the academic world (or even most) that their "default intellectual medium" is mapped out in the online sphere. Also, is legitimacy most largely determined by audience? or is that a more modern way of thinking? It sounds like our demand/ supply thought. 
I don't mean to be contrary ... or maybe I do. These are just all the questions I'm coming up with as I read and respond to your post. 

E book Project Thoughts

So I've been looking at the wikipedia page for ebook formats and I think we're going to have to know some kind of computer language to even create this thing. That's slightly daunting. I mean, we could just create a PDF but then that isn't dynamic as we want it to be. I wonder if there's a site out there that is like blogger for people who want their own blog type webpage, but for ebooks. 

It brings in questions again about scope*. Can we really complete this project within three weeks? Do any of us know any web markup languages? I was thinking just creating the content for my "chapter" and trying to tie it into a legitimate theme with the rest of the ebook for a legitimate stakeholding audience was going to be time consuming.

As for authenticity I don't think it'd be that difficult to make our book like a collection of essays about digital literary research and to have the essays track our journey in researching each individual book and learning to use the new tools that we've been becoming accustomed to. I don't think writing such an essay (each of us write one) is outside the scope of a 3 (really only 2) week project. I think this definitely lies within the focus and scope of the class in preparing us for "additional literary study and for life-long learning". If we could figure out the ebook format (something I'm a little afraid is beyond us), it'd be a really valuable project to show to future employers. 


I'm presenting a problem without coming up with a solution but I'm just not informed enough to know what that solution is. I've sent out feelers into my "networks" to see if anyone has any ideas, but in the meantime ... what do you guys think?


*bolded terms refer to the parameters of the project that Dr. Burton outlined in yesterday's post

--------

Post Script (added after publishing): I forgot to mention that I still think it's really important to include things like photos, video, links, footnotes (that you can jump down to just by clicking on them) etc in our ebook. I just don't know how we'd be able to do this.

The Only Way to "Climb the Ladder"

This will be interesting I think to many of you though perhaps not in line with our current goal of academic blogging and trying to tie all our posts together. It is somewhat random but really interesting.

According to my Political Science professor this semester, we all think we're middle class and we're all actually somewhere in the lower class. Professor Coffey (sweet older guy) says that middle class starts with a salary of about $250,000 (Say what?!) and the reason many families think they're there is because they're getting closer to that mark with a joint income (both parents working). And I thought I had it made at age 16 when Subway gave me a $0.50 raise from minimum wage. 
Image courtesy of Christop | flickr
Dr. Coffey, my polysci prof, also informed us that the only sure way to ascend socio-economic classes is education (you know ... unless you create facebook).  This leads me to an interesting link I found by following BYU IPT professor, Dr. David Wiley on twitter. The link (click here) displays a dynamic graphic that shows you the median income of each college major based on U.S. Census Bureau data. Pretty incredible. The thing I found most interesting is that not a one of these median bachelor salaries exceeds 120K. So how much education do you really need to climb the ladder?

Thoreau's Education in ABELL for James Matthews

After many dead ends, at least online, I've decided to start tracking my progress in searching out a useful article for James Matthews who is studying Henry David Throeau's Walden.

2. I have been using ABELL to look for articles about Thoreau and education or teaching (unsuccessfully at least in full text carried at BYU for the past hour I might add).

3. The Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature contains 860,000 records, covering monographs, periodical articles, critical editions of literary works, book reviews and collections of essays published anywhere in the world from 1920 onwards. What I am confused about is why the library site, when I click on ABELL's database takes me to LION and uses that platform to search ABELL. Rather confusing.

4. I searched terms like "thoreau" and "edu*" in the keywords box and "throeau" and "walden" in the subject box. I turned up a number of "brief records" but in order to determine their usefulness to the project I wanted abstracts. I tried looking up several of the journals on the HBLL site but without sucess. Once the journal was in another language, once not listed, and the last time I found an article that from the title looks as though it'd be very pertinent to James's research but is only available in hardcopy at the library. I thought I would list it here for James's to determine it's usefulness.

5. Dillman, Richard H. "Thoreau's Harvard Education in Rhetoric and Composition." Thoreau Quarterly (1981): 47. Print.

6. I assume the article to explore Thoreau's Harvard education though I could not access an abstract of it presently. I thought it might be interesting for James to check out the journal it is in though as that may be a valuable (if dated) resource. The journal is the Thoreau Quarterly and the HBLL has a copy of the journal, including the issue containing the aforementioned article at this location: PS 3053 .T5

7. About his research, James wrote, that he'd like to "analyze Thoreau as a teacher and an educator, that's actually what he did right after he graduated from Harvard. To the casual onlooker of his life at that point, he was rather unsuccessful at it. I want though to look at his mode of teaching in Walden, especially as a spiritual/moral/ethical teacher." An article on Thoreau's Harvard education would certainly be a great entry point into James's research and who knows what other valuable articles he might find in the Thoreau Quarterly.

Good luck James! (P.S. Are you still in the class? I see you haven't posted since the 17th.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Huck's Bloggophere and Cussin'

2. My purpose is to explore LION (Literature Online), a literary database, in order to pursue my research on connections between current hot topic discussions of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the online writing environment and higher education.

3. LION (Literature Online). This is a resource indexing multiple databases about English poetry and drama, some fiction, and Shakespeare. It has reference works and lists of selected web resources.

4. I searched "Huckleberry Finn" and scrolled down to a list of criticism on the text. The title of one article caught my attention but they didn't have the text, only the "full record". I might've been tempted to count this as a dead end but I'll never tell. However I was so interested in what the article had to say that I went to the library website, looked up the journal that the article was in - Chronicle of Higher Education - and found we had the full text online through EBSCO host so I linked through the journal with the rest of the publication information and then scrolled down till I found this article. I clicked the full text link and there it was!

5. "The Redacted 'Huckleberry Finn': 'Chronicle' Bloggers Respond." Chronicle of Higher Education 57.21 (2011): B4. Print.

6. A compilation of sorts of blog posts by different bloggers from this journal on the deletion of the 'n' word in Huckleberry Finn by editor Alan Gribben of NewSouth. 

7. This article is all about the hottest topic of discussion about Huck Finn today, that Mark Twain scholar, Alan Gribben, has replaced the word "nigger" in a new edition of Huckleberry Finn with "slave" so as not to offend readers and open up potential audiences (i.e. high schoolers) that the book might not have had before. I followed the lead in the article to the Chronicle's original blog posts on the subject and found a listing of several. I'm interested now to know what audiences outside of higher education are having this debate, if any, and what they're saying. 

Posting and Blogger

Couldn't get my post on here yesterday because of blogger errors but you can check out my academic post for yesterday at my other blog.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Final Project

I couldn't make it to class today but I wanted to quickly voice an opinion about the final project.

We talked about the issue of whole class v. small groups and I encourage the latter because I think people will be able to be more enthused about a project they get to choose to participate in rather than on something the whole class is doing that they may not be as passionate about. As for each of us having so many cool individual backgrounds that could really make a group project cool, that is still applicable in small groups and perhaps there can be some crossover between the groups as well.

My opinion on advising the library about their research tutorial? I don't know about you but I don't know how much I have to personally contribute to that project. I feel more like we'd just be reiterating research methods that Dr. Burton has been teaching us rather than creatively coming up with new stuff for the library. I feel the main flaw in the research tutorials is the interface and how difficult it is to maneuver as well as a few information flaws but I couldn't tell you how to fix that because I am neither a design expert nor very savvy with researching using the library system.

I would really like to do a project that would incorporate what we've already been doing: our novels. This is why I think doing something that teaches would be most beneficial. I'd hate to try to double task something like the library project along with my own personal project involving the novel or try to somehow force my novel to fit into a project where it doesn't really belong.

Just my two cents. I don't know if you'll have a chance to read it before you discuss this, but that's what I have been thinking. Sorry I couldn't be there to express it in person. Have a good class!

Map of Literary Theory

Here is my pathetic attempt to understand the connections between different literary theories. It's a work in progress and still need a lot of help but I'm not an amazing prezi designer. I'll have to find someone to collaborate with. Plus I need to make sure I'm correct about connections. The map is a remix and elaboration of KSU's map of literary theory.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Literary Inquiry (gone digital)

I gotta say, I appreciate Dr. Burton's efforts to focus us towards literary research of late. At the beginning of the class, we were focusing so much on where literacy is headed and what digital literacy meant that, to be honest, I was a little leery about the whole approach. After all, literary criticism is a huge field full of writers, professors, and critics and to ignore that when the title of the course is Writing Literary Criticism seemed incredibly bizarre to me. Yes, the topics we began with in this class have value, but it's not entirely the purpose of a course like this, is it? (No, Ms. Granger. It isn't. Why don't you step outside with me so I can hex you and hide you in a closet so as to benefit the rest of us who are enjoying class the way it is?)

Lately, I think we've been focusing more on doing research on literature in the critical age which feels a bit more comfortable to me. Anyways, I looked up the course description on BYU's site: "How to address an academic audience, support arguments, and engage effectively in critical conversations about literature." I think we're getting closer to this goal with the class focusing more in general on doing research. I know the library instruction will be largely focused on this.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Researching Huck Finn

Today I went to OER's site to find out more about Huck Finn. After narrowing my search to the humanities and searching the terms "Huckleberry Finn," I found a plethora of resources for exploration. First I found two courses taught at MIT with their syllabi and course information (Course 1 | Course 2). This is valuable information because it is so recent and gives me some idea of where to head with my own research. One of the courses had links to other resources that might be helpful including this awesome site from the University of Virgina that places Mark Twain in his context. I also stumbled upon the site for the Mark Twain museum which I didn't even think of including on my site till now! I've created a "list" with my diigo account to start accumulating these resources so I can delve into them at more depth when I'm ready and add them to my site as I do.

Friending Huck: Making Mark Twain's Novel Universally Accessible

Photo by Jiaren Lau | Flickr

I have valued friends that don't read. That's what they tell me. They are digitally literate: they have deep social network available at a twitch of their fingers on their mobile phones and computers, they can find any information they need at the click of a button, but they "don't read" ...at least not literature.

That's why I want to create an online platform that makes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and the discussion surrounding it available and interesting to people who "don't read". Literature professors always encourage us to understand the discussion surrounding a work before we add our own voices to that discussion and I want to create a platform for the average person to have all that information at their fingertips in one place, not having to understand how library research works and the scholarly terms thrown around in critical articles in order to be able to read and participate in a meaningful conversation about the novel. I also hope this to be an excellent resource for those teaching about the novel in public and homeschool environments.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Response to Dr. Burton's Thursday Post

I am hesitant about building off of the DigCiv digital literacy presentation and trying to expand it to other students. I have the feeling that we can be more effective in helping other students improve their digital literacy on a face-to-face, or facebook-to-facebook basis rather than trying to change the curriculum at the school itself.

I believe students are interested in learning about any tools that will help them get their homework done more quickly. ;) (For a list of such tools and tutorials, you can see the blog I created for the Digital Civ course here). As Dr. Burton argues, we're all digital natives with varying degrees of literacy, and I theorize that the best way to increase digital literacy at large for our fellow students is to be better collaborators ourselves; to spread what we've gleaned from this class throughout our social networks, rather than create a series of tutorials or pressuring the administration to adapt to the changing times. I think there is a lot of interest in gaining skills in these areas among BYU's student body already.

Dr. Burton has written about the inflexibility of the department (because it is an institution which by definition is slow to change) in adapting to digital literacy, and I am pretty sure I heard someone in the audience at the DigCiv presentation call students who adhere to these theories "Gideonites" or "Burtonites" in the same vein as Dumbledore's army ... I think you get the idea. (And I'm trying to imagine older, more established professors here at the university being encouraged to change the way they have taught their whole lives - stand and lecture from your notes - to include some of these newer ideas in education ... I just can't.)

Photo attributed to Rainer Ebert | Flickr

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How much I is TMI?

This question came up in class today and I keep hearing it pop up all over the place. How do judge when you're giving out too much information about yourself too often? What information is inappropriate for posting? Someone in class complained about the person who posts all too often about what they're eating or that they're tying their shoe. I know I have been annoyed by those who use what seems to me the wrong social media for the wrong 


too frequent updates

what you share and classmate's post about geotagging

Monday, May 9, 2011

GoodFlicks?

I am falling more and more in love with Goodreads social reading site. Is anyone familiar with a social movie site of the same veneer? I've found blogs, like this one, that recommend many different films of a particular genre. I wonder if there is a similar site where you can see what your friends are watching, review it, and even recommend films to others. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Photo attributed to Judy **| Flickr

Must Reads

Have you ever gotten an email forward with a list of 100 books you should read or posted on your blog a long list of books from the Western Cannon and checked off the ones you have read? It seems these lists are becoming even more ubiquitous as social reading sites crop up all over the place. Sam McGrath's post for today got me thinking more about what we should read.


I clicked over to wikipedia's article about the Western Cannon. I didn't know there were so many different versions of it and these lists are not short. It is somewhat overwhelming. Take a look at St. John's reading college reading list. It's pretty amazing. Sam asked if we think we should try to read everything. The problem is, the cannon itself is controversial: should it include more works by women and other minority groups? Should we abandon it altogether? Is the notion of universal truths as represented in these works of fiction a load of nonsense in itself?

Friday, May 6, 2011

That's it?!

Rainbows EndRainbows End by Vernor Vinge

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


That's it? It's over? So many loose ends left untied. I felt very unsatisfied when I finished this book last night. It seemed like the book was more an excuse to explore certain issues like the rise in technology and different things about security and such, but in the end the author was like, well, i think i made the points I wanted to so I'm done. No obligation to explain himself. I mean maybe he was leaving room for a sequel? Maybe?

I thought Ceredwin's review (see community reviews on goodreads) of this book was particularly humorous. She said having a famous + living + poet was like including a fairy princess unicorn. You just can't have all three. In a sense this shows the predictability of this book. I give definitely give Vinge points for clever expansion off current technology and creative naming for stuff (I had different names stuck in my head for the whole two weeks I was listening to this book and was like, where did that word come from, oh yeah...). Also, the book gives plenty of fodder for discussion about the future of books and technology so it serves its purpose. But I don't know how cleverly it really accomplished it's goal as a story or a work of great fiction.

(I should also add as a side note that I listened to the audio version of this book and did not read it on paper.)



View all my reviews

The Benefit of Writing Paraphrase

In my post Goodbyes, No Tears, I paraphrased John Donne's poem, A Valediction: Forbidden Morning. One of my commentors asked what benefit I gleaned from the paraphrase.I thought I'd respond in a new post.

The most obvious answer is that I was able to see how clearly form is tied to meaning. You just don't get as much out of my three paragraph summarization of what happens in the poem. The connotations behind the words in the poem, the flowing rhymes and the feel of the meter; these all contribute unique meaning to the poem itself and cannot be accurately captured in a paraphrase.

Despite this, I still found that paraphrasing the work forced me to spend more time digesting it. I looked up words instead of glossing over what I thought the intended meaning was. One example is the word melt in the fifth line. One definition of melt is actually to soften as in to make more mild. I was then able to understand the intended meaning of the stanza better. My interpretation of the poem greatly depends on the meaning of this word: that Donne would like his lover's and his parting to be soft and sweet, not stormy and emotional. So, paraphrasing was very useful to me in understanding the poem.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Developing an Online Presence Bit by Byte :)

A classmate, Taylor Gilbert, recently posted that he felt a little daunted by having to create an online presence in a social media world that has become somewhat of a leviathan and mentioned the presence that I have created for myself online. I commented that I've had a year and a half or so since I joined the social media scene to build up an online persona and advised him to try doing it a little bit at a time, as most people do. In this class, it must feel a little like being thrown into the deep end of a pool without floaties for the first time. I can't imagine learning all these myriad tools at once.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unplugged

This semester I am more unplugged than ever before.

I am Personal Computerless. It's a new experience for me at BYU. I've always had that link to the greater world at large via instant internet access that I could plop down and use anywhere I was. Two semesters ago, my personal laptop broke, last semester the one I was borrowing from my husband broke, and now we share a laptop that stays at home so as to preserve its life. In past semesters, in addition to these personal computers, I've always carried around two work computers as well. Probably between 70-90% of my days at school were spent "plugged in". Far from being over-worried about the "evils" of technology, I enjoy using it to my purposes and I feel I have a relatively high degree of digital literacy.

However, lately I have found I rather enjoy the lack of instant access. Albeit I recognize having a cell phone (though I have what is deemed a 'dumb phone', not even comparable to my husband's iPhone with its dataplan) still allows me quite a bit of plugged-in-ness, I find that I really like having to walk to a computer, sit down, do my work, and get up to do the next thing. It's nice having to share one computer at home, because we try to get whatever we need done on it quickly so the other can use it and then we can both be done and do something together.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goodbyes, No Tears

I want to share my paraphrase on John Donne's A Valediction: Forbidding Morning that I wrote for ENGL 251. Here is a link to the original poem. I'd love some feedback. Let me know what you think.

Good men die so gently that their friends are not even sure if they have gone. Just like their souls part quietly from their body, let’s be mild in our parting, not dramatic so as to show off our love. Crying and raging would profane all the joys of our love. Earthquakes are dramatic and give people cause for concern, but by contrast the motion of the spheres surrounding the earth, even though much greater, goes mostly unnoticed.

Lovers of this world possess a love that is created out of tangible togetherness and their five senses, and so their love cannot permit their being apart because it is created out of being together, but our love is so sure and faithful in the mind that it doesn’t matter if we’re physically separated.

Our souls are like one soul, so when we’re apart, it’s like one soul expanding, not two breaking apart, much like gold when beaten, flattens really thin but doesn’t break. Even if our souls are two separate entities, you are like the side of a compass that stands still in the center while I, as the other side of the compass, draw a circle around you. You attend to my movements while I must go away and circle you, but by staying where you are, you draw me back to you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rainbow "Connections"

First I should say, I'm in chapter 15 of Verner Vinge's Rainbows End, a scifi novel set in the future and full of almost magical technologies that set the framework for how we're going to be thinking about writing in the digital domain for ENGL 295 this semester. I recommend the book so far as it offers a lot of food for thought about the ways technology is shaping our culture and world. It even offers the balancing viewpoint of an old man who has been cured of alzheimer's and is suddenly cured and thrust into this world of technology though his values greatly differ from those of the hightech world he's been thrown into.

Today in class I was thinking about the digital theme of "connect" for our class as seen in Verner Vinge's Rainbows End. For those not in the class, the theme connect in our class is about connecting digitally with others: collaborating on projects, the effectiveness of working in groups or sharing as a community. One of the ideas behind a research blog is that it allows you to connect with an audience beyond the classroom and get their feedback on your ideas as they are in progress.

In Rainbow's End, the main character, Robert Gu (not sure about spelling since I'm listening to the audiobook), the old guy suddenly thrust into technoworld, critiques the younger generation as knowing nothing. He is frustrated that they are just constantly able to google and look up things they don't understand and seemingly know nothing for themselves.

Friday, April 29, 2011

How Form Affects Function

In class today we discussed how the format of a particular piece of writing affects its function. I didn't pipe up in class but I could think of several examples, specifically when our discussion turned towards the scriptures. So... stories ....

My mom was teaching a sunday school class of 8 year-olds and was attempting to introduce them to the footnote systems that the LDS scriptures use. She asked them, "How would you find out more information about King Solomon?" They answered as any digital native might, "Google it." Duh. And I reminded her that in all actuality, they would probably all be reading their scriptures on their iPhones by the time they're in seminary and thus really would google things they were unfamiliar with or at least be able to hit the links to the footnotes which makes much more sense to them than a footnote. The experience made us chuckle.

Also, my husband has experimented with reading his scriptures conventionally and also online. I think we've both found we prefer to read them in physical format, though mainly this is because of all the distractions available when you read scriptures online. But someone in class said you cannot highlight and such, and if you go to LDS.org and log in using your membership account information, they have created a pretty functional highlighting and commenting system that I really like. One of the interesting aspects of studying scriptures online that I've noticed is that I tend to share what I learn more often when I already have access to networks as I'm studying. For example, this morning I did a gospel study online and because my husband was already at work but I wanted to share my learning with him, I was able to just quickly email him my written thoughts from what I'd learned.

I'm going to read a book on this topic next week: The Case for Books, but I'm curious to know, what differences have you noticed about the differing functions of reading in different formats?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Choices

For my book on Digital Culture I actually chose the "anti"-route and decided to read Robert Darnton's The Case for Books, since I think I've probably taken enough courses from Dr. Burton to have heard all the pro-arguments. ;) No, I am really interested to hear the arguments against the digital formats, since I am not really bothered by reading in digital format or paper format. I think there's benefits to both. I am excited to see what Darnton says.

For my personal literary work (pending approval from Dr. Burton), I have chosen to reread The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I really enjoyed it when I read it the first time around and I know there will be plenty of literary scholarship on it already, though what I can possibly have to add to that conversation, I have no idea.

Personal Reading History

I remember coming to my mom one summer sometime in my early adolescence and telling her I was bored. At this point, she suggested a host of books that she had read as a youth. I wasn't into reading and I tried getting into The Boxcar Children books and Nancy Drew, honest I did, but it just reinforced to me that reading was more boring than TGIF and my weekly helping of Boy Meets World.

It wasn't till my dad wanted some father/ daughter bonding time and decided to read aloud Tolkein to me that the world of books was really opened to me. Not only did we read together but he expounded his countless theories about how these books related to gospel themes which sparked a myriad of discussions that lasted late into the night. From there dad was able to direct me to a whole world of books that he had grown up loving and reading. I never finished The Hitchhiker's Guide but I really enjoyed the first couple books of Another Fine Myth. Then the Harry Potter craze started and after the third book came out, I yielded to a close friend's insistence to give them a try. The books gave not only my dad and I, but by this time several of my siblings, something to read and talk about together. 

At this point I began to read, almost bookclub style, with my two sisters closest in age. We read I believe all of Tamora Peirce's quartets, and things like Johnathan Shroud's Bartimaeus trilogy, Shannon Hale's fairy-tale like YA fiction, and later Chistopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. We would read and swap and discuss and I believe the books not only shaped our imaginations but also, in part, who we wanted to become. I was very strongly influenced at a young age by Peirce's strong feminist heroines and Shroud's sarcastic characterizations.