This post touches on the question of whether machines can act as rhetors.
Once a flag is raised, the automated system sends an email to the student – attributed to and ostensibly from the faculty member who raised the flag – without human intervention.
I attended a panel session earlier this week titled Robots Everywhere! Is It Good For Us? The panelists were scholars and artists researching and exploring ways that humans and robots can and will interact. One researcher, PhD student Heather Knight (a.k.a. Marilyn Monrobot) at The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, is working to help robots learn human social behaviors and interact verbally and mechanically in humorous, socially-appropriate ways. Specifically, Knight is using comedy and acting to help robots learn social cues and program appropriate responses.
When her robot told a joke during the panel, we in the audience laughed. The robot was not able to respond to the audience with a related joke; such a response would require an understanding of the complex social situation and a way of acting appropriately. Knight is working to make such reactions a reality — she’s teaching the robot “charisma.” Until that learning occurs, however, surely we would do better to remove automated messaging that is intended to represent a warm, caring response — a response that neither complex robots nor simple machines is capable of providing — to a student in crisis. Beyond the issue of authorship is the obvious message students receive, as noted by Rodrigo above: I am important enough to warrant an automatically generated email message from my school.
That’s hardly meaningful intervention, nor is it rhetorical. It’s surely among the worst possible kinds of reblogging in use.
I love the idea of talking about early alert/retention programs as a form of reblogging. First, the fact that many of those systems even have formulaic input options as well (aka, a faculty can only "alert" based on pre-set options). Is that the initial post? Or is the system's offering of that option the initial post?
Second, the idea that these are used to help with retention when there is TONS of scholarship that discusses that it is a student's connections/relationships to the school and individuals at the school that help with retention. Our students know these are machine generated messages; these impersonal emails do not foster relationships or connections. At least many reblogged materials get the little 1-3 phrases/sentences of context of what/how/why the reblogger shared the content. That personalized touch shows the person behind/vetting the replication. And unless a faculty member does use that space to provide personalized feedback (which would still be funky w/in the context/tone of the machine generated email environment) the message will probably fail its purpose. And if I'm taking the time to write that contextualizing message, why not write the email myself (unless, of course, the institution requires the early alert process…a whole other issue).
Your response got me thinking about how we are both hinting at further ways to "complicate authorship" with the idea of reperforming/remixing/rebloging the self. If we agree that this adopting/adapting of another text is a new performance then the author would be slightly different each time, even if it is the same person.
Also, and I'm chuckling I get to say this, it's Sean Bean as Boromir. :-)
I love the concept (and phrase) “performing another’s pedagogy.” That Viggo Mortensen “says” it clearly illustrates the networked author. Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn as depicted in two-dimensional motion picture as captured in a still photo as depicted as speaker of the words “One does not simply steal an assignment—One performs another’s pedagogy” as visualized embodiment of your own ideas demonstrates your own networked identity. And you’re right: what a rich object of study this networked identity offers.
I also appreciate the expectation that assignments and pedagogy should be repurposed as new performance. I’m currently teaching a class whose content is cribbed from previous classes I’ve taken, and I consider it an entirely new performance of the pedagogy because of the context, the audience of students, the experiences we all (teacher and students) bring to the class, the culture of the institution itself, and the myriad other variables that make each instructional experience a unique networked phenomenon.
Thanks for the question about the negotiations that must certainly occur as I allow an institutional identity to “take precedence” over my own identities in the public space. There are other administrators who know I am the poster and sharer of content on our institutional Facebook page, and I often introduce myself in new student orientations as “the voice of the school’s Facebook page.” I carefully curate my own personal and professional identities on my own Facebook profile in order to represent the school and its values — along with my own personal and professional interests and concerns. Because I am a professional communicator, I seek to create an ethos of carefully crafted trustworthiness among all of my social media profiles and identities. Because I am a parent of pre-teens, I seek to create an ethos of limited transparency that my kids can emulate in crafting, curating, and protecting their own identities in social media spaces. Because I’m a person of faith, I seek to use sharing and posting as opportunities to reflect my values in subtle, thoughtful ways. Because I’m a doctoral student, I seek to create an ethos of academic integrity and (relative) seriousness in my posts and shares. And because I am in a committed relationship, I seek to create an ethos that reflects my love and appreciation for that relationship. Allowing the institutional identity to take precedence over my own identities is probably better stated as a negotiated process that uses the institutional identity as primary driver for posting and sharing decisions, but encourages other identities to contribute their ethos and values to each decision.
This is really interesting because of the way you consider your institutional identity as taking precedence over your own identity in the public space. You talk about that concern over making sure the posts you make fit in with the rules set in places for the way to school wants to present itself. At the same time though how does your concern for your own identity still play a role in that performance? As you said there are people, other administrators, of the page that can see who made the post and presumably they would be people you are connected to. Are you concerned with your identity as the person who manages the school's identity and how your management of that identity shapes your own identity to those who know it is you behind it?
Lots of great ideas here, and as someone working on digital cultures in Anglo-phone (really?) West Africa, I am intrigued what's going on in Guinea. Certainly, Simone's more recent work has been very interesting in this regard. Here are a few of my thoughts re: analysis and research design. I think the notion of an assemblage is very useful when thinking about social forms, especially technologically mediated cultures. I tend to use it in the ephemeral sense that Bruno Latour and others in ANT have deployed: That literature offers conceptually rich ways for understanding and talking about technology and users. But I agree with Henthorn: From which point of the assemblage do you analyze the network? Which artifact/actor is most useful to examine? At what level of abstraction of the entire sociotechnical system/"ecosystem" do you operate from analytically? Maybe it's more about the particular points of observation you are discussing in a certain paper or project. The specific phenomenon may elucidate what's happening in a wider system/network: child users, scammers, network engineers, corporate stakeholders… Certainly they all play a role, but not equally, all of the time. Can I also recommend O.F. Mudhai's more recent work on Civic Engagement, Digital Networks, and Political Reform in Africa.
These are good questions.
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Yes, living room furniture and decoration must to some extent bend to the needs of the infrared grid projected by the Kinect. This became something of a marketing problem for Microsoft when they launched the Kinect in Japan and were trying to sell the device to many gamers with small living spaces. The Kinect shipped with measured paper strips to serve as a guide for measuring the required amount of space for the device to work, which ended up sending a mixed message because the strips were shorter than the original recommended specs. I first became aware of this during a talk delivered by Benjamin Aslinger. It begs the question of whether or not depth sensors will necessarily become more scalable, or if the standardization of depth sensors will hold a bias toward some physical spaces more than others.
At the same time, I'm wondering how blurred the line between avatar representations, fandom, and 'real selves' are; I went by my online identity names for years at conventions, as that was how many people would recognize me instead, by the reputation of the online name - or what associations they had with said name, in any case. In online communities - forums, social media, and all - the practice of pseudonyms and pseudo-anonymity (as opposed to completely anonymous: i.e., using handles or usernames) means that a reputation gets attached to an avatar or username over time. And as reputation is a form of social currency, establishing, keeping, and affirming this reputation is highly important in online spaces as well as offline spaces.
One of the ideas that was swimming in my head while writing this was the extent to which avatars impact the construction of our identities outside of the internet. Or in some cases, how the avatar is viewed as being "more real," and therefore within the construction of a sacred space, like a con- where notions of freedom of identity are usually at the forefront- the idea of the avatar being the primary mode of identification was a powerful representation of digital community influence. From all the conventions I've attended, I see this more and more on the con floors and art spaces. In fact, one of my oldest friends in the fandom has identified herself by her avatar for as long as I've known her, expressing her desire to be her online identity over her real self.