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Literary Kinds: A Process

leamirella's picture


"For my first paper for the course, Literary Kinds at Bryn Mawr College, I’ll be using Tumblr to do an analysis of what this blogging platform is and the ways in which it can be useful in academic work. It’s going to be crazy meta so I’m going to work hard to keep it fresh and exciting.

In line with the digital humanities, this blog will take the form of an archive - an archive of my thoughts about the medium and how I’ve started to compare this form to others. Additionally, though I do this with aims of a final project of sorts (still to be determined), I want to value the process of learning and I will gladly take any advice that you leave in the comments or my inbox."

(The first post on my Tumblr blog that explores Tumblr as a medium.)



leamirella's picture

In Response:

Thanks Anne for your comments! I would have loved a message in my Tumblr inbox but I guess that isn't going to happen...

- I'm actually not quite sure that I fully agree with the Times article. Though I never actually experienced the "golden age" of "cyberflaneur-ing" (I'm making up words here, I'm sorry), I'm not quite convinced that it actually existed. Even before the Internet became what it is today (I haven't even turned 20 yet!), I still believe that we, as users, were never really free to roam. Things like the early versions of search engines, adverts for websites on television (I remember watching TV shows as a kid urging me to visit pbs kids online) all forced us to focus somewhere. Where I think Morozov lost me is when he considers the Internet to be an entity on it's own. There's always been media convergence, and through that convergence, a structure to approach other media forms. While the 'tempo' of yesterday's Internet may have been slower, I don't think we were ever given the option to "roam freely".

- I've actually been thinking about your second question a lot. I feel as though the filtering function is also inbuilt with the self promotion. If people don't like what you're putting on your blog, they don't reblog it and this serves as a form of peer review. Obviously, it is a little different from Planned Obselescence but if you think about the Tumblr's audience, it isn't hard to realise that the chances of academic writing being reviewed on it are quite slim.

- I thought about my own personal bolding before I put up the posts. I realize that they are a distraction but again, I wanted to see if I could get my posts to stand out among the others. A simple text post looks boring, a colourful one is kind of annoying. I guess I thought that bolding was the best way to highlight my ideas but you're right, it hinders a reader from deciding that on their own.

- I really like your question about the role of anonymity in academia. To be honest, I don't really know. But, I have been thinking about the Twitter protocol for Re:Humanities with my working partner and we've started to think about using Twitter handles as the way of citing another scholar. Your Twitter handle (I'm cheating a little bit here because mine is mirelladeocadiz), becomes an inherent part of your online identity and to cite that would be the same as citing your entire name. Or is it?

Lots of interesting questions here and I'm hoping to continue!

Anne Dalke's picture


as you know, I'm quite intrigued w/ the current range of experiments using a form to analyze the form--Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics to understand comics, Kathleen Fitzpatrick's peer-to-peer reviewed book to analyze peer-to-peer review, Alex Juhasz's video book about Learning from YouTube  ….

so I'm quite happy to see you join this line-up. I feel as though I should be responding on Tumblr, too, but I'm not seeing how to do this  (or even how to read the notes to your posts) -- so I guess I need to ask for a short tutorial from you. In the interim, and until further instruction, I'll respond here in the usual space that I know and love….;)

I appreciate your emphasis on digitally-enhanced "archive" and "process," but I'm not sure I'd agree that this project, so far, is really "crazy meta": I don't see it, yet, reflecting on itself reflecting on the form; it appears to be rather a series of linked-but-standing-alone posts. I find myself, in each one, wanting to push back and ask questions (so here are a few of them):

* what is the cost of "being at the forefront of the images and posts that become viral"?  (I'm reading your work through the lens of today's Times article about "the tyranny of the social," and so I wonder how you see that critique intersecting with your own exploration of the values of being @ the forefront of all that emerges daily/hourly?

* What are the consequences of Tumblr's "own form of self promotion inbuilt"--if there is then no filtering function?

* How to realize this need for a filtering function? As Fitzpatrick says in her chapter on peer review, "in a self-multiplying scholarly commons, time and attention remain scarce": "peer review should be put in the service of filtering"; "publish-then-filter is the new working system." For example, I find myself distracted by your bolding (I want to do my own highlighting!)--how to indicate what's important, and/while letting me decide that for myself?

* You have been writing for several semesters now about the ways in which "the line between the virtual and physical worlds" is being blurred by social networking sites; but there are some very particular questions this "blurring" raises for us as academics that I'd like to see you address. For example, what's the role of anonymity (which may grant "freedom" on a queer coming-out site, as you say, but) in academia, where we "need" to get credit for our ideas?

* I like very much your questioning "the extent to which we measure [each of] these [digital] contributions; having some space to play (or be silent) is important to productivity; not always measuring productivity is also key here!

Looking forward to continuing this exploration together--