This post is mainly for my Writing I students, who are joining in with all the other Writing I students here in Missouri State University’s Public Affairs Conference theme, which this year is “connectivity.” To that end I (and the composition program here) am using Stephanie Vie’s very nice reader, (e)Dentity, from Fountainhead Press. On Wednesday, mainly around 11:00 CST, we will be gathering together on Twitter for a tweetfest on Why Smart People Use Twitter. (check the #eng110c hashtag), but the main thing they are doing before our next face-to-face meeting is to do a little mind mapping as a form of brainstorming using Prezi, Storify, Pinterest, Popplet, or something that works in a similar, dimensional way to map out non-linearly a variety of media clustered around some possible Long Project 1 (an argumentative paper) ideas for later. Since we only meet face-to-face on Mondays for 50 short minutes, I’d like to share some starting points with them, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, I hope you ride along.
So, where are some possible hot topics for a an enterprising FYC (First-Year Composition) student who wants to write (eventually) an argumentative paper within the very broad area of connectivity? At the Social Media Collective Research Blog, a group blog run by researchers at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research New England, danah boyd (no caps by choice, like e.e. cummings) shares some of her findings about password sharing by teens and the possible role parents shared in that trend. the post also has a link to a New York Times article on password sharing as a sign of affection. Very interesting stuff.
Looking for the motherlode on internet research? A very good place to start is the Pew Internet and American Life Project. This is a longstanding Project that has produced some incredibly interesting statistics about what Americans do online, and even better, gives a longitudinal view by revisiting topics over time.
Back at the Pew Internet site, you might want to take a look at the new report (out yesterday) on how many Americans own a tablet or e-reader. 29% is looking more mainstream to me. For contrast, check this earlier look in June on stats on e-readers and tablets. Hmmn.
Just saw the latest tweet from Missouri senator Claire McCaskill (AKA @clairecmc) and once again noted how she uses Twitter well as a way to connect with her constituents. Not all politicians do this well though. It would be interesting to consider the differences between politicians who “get it” and those who don’t.
Then there is the whole SOPA thing. Last week’s Wednesday internet blackout definitely had an effect (link via Slashdot), with congressional support for the bill not-so-mysteriously melting away. it’s still an issue though, and will continue to be as long as there is debate about intellectual property and fair use, a debate I don’t see ending any time soon.
Here’s one more thing to think about–we all have encountered memes, those ideas and sites that get passed around social circles like wildfire, especially in places like Facebook. What might be interesting is to look at memes for different circles. For example, variations on Ryan Gosling made the rounds in rhet/comp and feminist studies circles last fall, but I doubt that it was a meme that spread outside academia because you need to know quite a few critical theorists to get the jokes. What memes do you pass to your friends? how are the different from say, Feminist Ryan Gosling? Or… are they different?
So, I did this list over breakfast and really only scratched the surface of what is out there for those looking at the broad idea of connectivity and looking for ways to narrow it into something worth writing about. To my Writing I students, happy hunting! I know you’ll find more.