New feature: blast from the past

One of my big goals this summer is to organize and archive what I've been doing at Emerson since I started teaching an Electronic Publishing Overview course there in 2007. Most of the material created for the class exists within a transparent bubble for that class. I hope to add the syllabi and class assignments that were originally posted behind the protected gates of webCT to an Emerson site for everyone to see. I will also start posting other material I can to an Emerson site so that students and other interested parties will have access to what has been developed in the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department at Emerson (more on that in July).

I also wanted to start reposting and saving some of the blog posts my students have contributed to the class over the years. I've decided to repost the complete text with a link to the class blog. Why? I'm not sure how long Emerson will maintain older blogs for classes. Theoretically they should exist forever as they were published documents, but realistically does Emerson want sites that haven't been updated in 3 years sitting on servers just in case someone searches for it?

Plus, it's worth it to collect these posts here to showcase what publishing students think and talk about when they are given an open forum.

The first post is from October 10, 2007 by Michelle Salzman. Michelle is currently the Web Writer/Project Coordinator at Boston University School of Public Health. Her portfolio can be found at msalz.wordpress.com.

Here's her post:

Web Two Point Uh Oh

Oh Wal-Mart, how interesting that your attempt to connect with your shoppers on a site like Facebook didn't go over so well as noted in Social Marketing Do's And Don'ts. It just goes to show how picky people are about their cheap home furnishings. Ok, what it really demonstrates is that you've got to pick your marketing channels more wisely. Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace are great venues to hook potential customers because people are already there to make connections. "A new friend? I love Target stuff! Why not?" However, you've got to be sure the audience your targeting to interact with you is your audience. I'm sure plenty of college students purchased their dorm stuff at Wal-Mart, no doubt. Still, for a company that regularly gets dogged for its business practices and how it treats its employees, Wal-Mart was really going out on a limb by opening itself up to people's comments by creating a back-to-school page for itself on Facebook:

Rather than mention the company's bargains and goods, many people—in fact, more than half who have posted—criticize the company's labor practices and corporate reputation. One posting reads: "Wal-Mart is toxic to communities and livelihoods." Another notes: "We don't support this company's use of a space for social networking to further horrendous business practices."


Wal-Mart's response: "We recognize that we're facilitating a live conversation and we know that in any conversation, especially one happening online, there will be some positive posts and some not so favorable. We welcome them all."

I guess if you're going to take the plunge into interactive web marketing, you've got to expect drowning is an option.

Originally published at the Fall 2007 Electronic Publishing Overview Blog at Emerson College.

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Academic Panel on Green Day

I was looking at the recent announcements from the listserv at H-Net Online Academic announcements and after skimming through a few of the standard issue big culture CFPs, I found this call:

Title: Green Day panel
Location: Texas
Deadline: 2010-12-15
Description: Call for Papers Punk and Popular Culture PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Associations Joint Conference April 20-23, 2011 San Antonio, TX www.swtxpca.org.
Proposal submission deadline: December 15, 2010
Conference hotel: Marriott Rivercenter San Antonio
Contact: bryan.l.jones @ okstate.edu
URL: www.swtxpca.org

It looks like this is a panel in the punk program of the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association's conference. I shouldn't be surprised at this, but I am. Anyone want to write a paper on how Basket Case is a semiotic reflection of self-interpretation and identity while also a criticism of the rise of navel-gazing rock at the end of the 20th century?

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Digital literacy and perception

I'm reading Shimmering Literacies: Popular Culture and Reading and Writing Online (New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies) by Bronwyn T. Williams and I came across this passage at the beginning of chapter 4:

"They (students) use popular culture icons, catchphrases, music, text, and film clips in postmodern, fragmented collages that present selves that seem simultaneously sentimental and ironic. The construction of these pages illustrates how popular culture practices that predate online technologies have been adopted and flourished with new technologies that allow content to flow across media as well as increase the ease of audience participation. The intertextual nature of popular culture texts creates opportunities for multiple readings of social networking webpages in ways that destabilize the identity students believe they have created. These multiple readings create ambivalence for students who realize that their practices in composing pages online may be in conflict with how they read other pages, and how their own pages are read."

As someone who teaches students who are more immersed in cultural creation than at other colleges and universities, I find this an advanced position for my students to find themselves in- to be creating material with knowledge of audience but with an understanding of how perception on different level changes. Wasn't this one of the goals of higher education? And now our students are learning this starting in high school through social networks? This is more than rethinking copyright and terms of identity in higher education. I need to up my game and not worry about teaching students how to think about perception of content, but focus on more advanced ideas of context. So I guess this goes beyond, "What this book means" and more to "What it means when I say this is what I thought the book meant."

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