i am currently a writer in residence at stonelake farm, living in the octagon.
my word-related goal is to finish my research, teaching, and service narratives, the three largest chunks of my tenure packet, which is due september 15.
early on, melinda stone (a media studies colleague who is also going for tenure this year) and i decided to use a good portion of the summer to plug away at our tenure packet. that is, instead of doing it last minute under duress, panic, and fear, we would write our narratives slowly and surely, and even learn a thing or two along the way.
currently, my research narrative (which andrew goodwin smartly suggested we write first) is about 15 pages long. it begins with a research bio (5 pages). then it traces four research streams: 1) early explorations; 2) the social construction of online communities; 3) RCCS and the emergence of digital media studies; and 4) the september project and public scholarship (8 pages). it concludes with a brief section titled "my blog as research activity" (2 pages).
what follows is a working version of the first section - my research bio.
In September 1986, I moved from San Luis Obispo, California, to Los Angeles to become an undergraduate at UCLA. A book lover, I declared English my major and took many inspiring classes like American Literature with Martha Banta, Ulysses with Cal Bedient, and two semesters of Shakespeare with Stephen Dickey. I minored in American studies which allowed me to pursue my growing interests in American media and popular culture with classes like Jazz and American Culture by the late great Leonard Feather and American History 1945-present with Bruce Schulman. My academic training was enriched by living in the Co-op, a student-owned, student-run housing collective for 500+ UCLA students. At the Co-op, I learned about communal living and collective action. I graduated magna cum laude in 1991.
Between 1991-94, I worked as a teacher's assistant at UCLA’s University Elementary School (UES) and as a private writing and conversation tutor in Los Angeles. It was during this time that I began fascinated in a thing we then called cyberspace (or what at some point has been called the Internet, the internet, the Information Superhighway, cyberculture, the World Wide Web, the Web, and Web 2.0). Further, living in LA during the Rodney King beatings in 1991, the officers’ acquittals and subsequent rebellion and riots in 1992, and OJ Simpson’s live-televised low-speed car chase down the 405 in 1994, increased my interest in the role of media and media makers in culture and society. Fueled by Howard Rheingold’s book The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, I wanted to study the Internet and other forms of citizen media at a graduate level. I decided to pursue American studies because of its interdisciplinarity and its acceptance of popular culture as a legitimate object of study. Although back then the Internet could hardly be called popular, I believed it had potential for growth – perhaps even mainstream adoption. I wanted to study this thing called the Internet.
In September 1994, I moved from Los Angeles to College Park, Maryland to be a graduate student in American studies at the University of Maryland. The strength of the department and university was the diverse offerings. From Myron Lounsbury, I learned about media and cultural theory; from Mary Corbin Sies and fellow grad student Kelly Quinn, I learned about material culture; from Katie King (Women’s Studies), I learned about the history of technology and feminist writing technologies; from Bob Kolker (English), I learned about film form, film history, and film future; and from John Caughey, I learned about ethnography, ethnographic methods, and how to listen. John also supervised my dissertation. Through research assistantships and grants, I also worked with and learned from Martha Nell Smith (English) and fellow grad student Jason Rhody at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), Randy Bass (English, Georgetown University), and the late great Roy Rosenzweig (Center for History and New Media, George Mason University).
By 1996, I became frustrated with the lack of an academic community around the study of the Internet. Back then, studying and teaching the Internet was a marginal if not frowned upon topic of academic focus and expertise. To fill this void, I designed and built the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, or RCCS, an entirely online center that featured archived syllabi and conference calls. By bringing together disciplinarily-diverse syllabi, we could begin to see and build a curriculum. By bringing together disciplinarily-diverse calls for conferences, we could begin to meet and build community. A year later, in 1997, I began using RCCS as a publishing platform for monthly book reviews and author responses.
In September 1998, I began research for my dissertation, a comparative and ethnographic study of the Blacksburg Electronic Village (in Blacksburg, Virginia) and the Seattle Community Network (in Seattle, Washington). I moved from College Park to Washington, DC to be closer to my main mentor: the Library of Congress. With support from a dissertation fellowship from The Aspen Institute, I completed my dissertation in 2000.
In September 2000, I began a one-year position as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Georgetown had recently developed a unique master’s program in Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT), and I jumped at the opportunity to design and teach a graduate seminar. My course, Cultures of Cyberspace, was offered in fall and spring semesters, and I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) working with an exceptional class of graduate students, including Mary Madden, Jeff Young, and many others. In the summer of 2001, I returned to UCLA to take part in a NEH Summer Seminar called “Literature in Transition: The Impact of Information Technologies.” The seminar was taught by Kate Hayles and included future colleagues and collaborators Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Tara McPherson, and Michele White.
In September 2001, I moved to Seattle for a tenure-track position at the University of Washington. I began as an assistant professor in the School of Communications which a year later merged with the Department of Rhetoric to become the Department of Communication. As I discuss further in the sections that follow, research-wise, I was creative and productive. I published about the social construction of online communities and the emergence of cyberculture studies as articles in communication and new media journals and as book chapters in important anthologies. I presented papers at academic conferences organized by the American Studies Association (ASA), the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), the National Communication Association (NCA), and the Rhetorical Society of America (RSA). I received a large grant from the Ford Foundation to organize an interdisciplinary symposium about the current and future directions of cyberculture studies and received over a dozen smaller grants to support RCCS, the Digital Media Working Group (co-organized by Kirsten Foot, Beth Kolko, Phillip Thurtle, and myself), and The September Project. Support-wise, I wasn’t getting it from the Department and after five years I entered the job market looking for a better fit.
In September 2006, I moved from Seattle to San Francisco to be an assistant professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco. As I discuss in greater detail in the sections that follow this research bio, I have spent the last two years working on various research projects. I have continued my research on the emerging academic field of digital media with Critical Cyberculture Studies (NYU Press, 2006), co-edited with Adrienne Massanari. I have presented my research at the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Vancouver, Canada (and will do so again, this October, in Copenhagen, Denmark), at the Media in Transition conference at MIT, and at the Directions and Implications for Advanced Computing conference at UC Berkeley.
I have also ramped up my research into scholarly communication by significantly increasing the capacity of RCCS book reviews and author responses. Originally, RCCS would publish a single review of a single book each month. These days, RCCS is publishing multiple reviews of multiple books followed by author responses. It is common for RCCS to feature three, four, or even five reviews of a single book, which, combined with an author response, offers a rich and engaging conversation between reviewers and authors. My current research project is to redesign the interactivity of RCCS to include readers into the conversation. RCCS readers should be able to comment, tag, and annotate the book reviews and author responses. I’m trying to migrate RCCS from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. Last year I wrote an unsuccessful grant proposal for the HASTAC / MacArthur Foundation's 2007-08 Digital Media and Learning Competition and plan to revise the proposal for other grant opportunities.
I have also continued to co-direct, with Sarah Washburn, The September Project, now in its fifth year. As discussed in detail below, The September Project is a grassroots effort to encourage events about freedom and democracy in all libraries in all countries during the month of September. My work with libraries, both through the September Project and through my teaching, has generated a number of exciting and prestigious speaking engagements, including keynote talks at the Association of College & Research Libraries Conference, the Art Libraries Society of North America Conference, ACRL – Oklahoma Chapter Conference, the California Clearinghouse on Library Instruction Workshop, the Illinois School Library Media Association Conference, and the University of Maastricht’s Creating New Perspectives for Academic Libraries Symposium. My favorite research (and teaching) collaborators are librarians.
Holding together my various research activities is my blog, silver in sf. Here I blog about current developments in digital media and culture, about new RCCS book reviews, and about relevant conferences and grant opportunities. I also use silver in sf as a presentation platform for academic conferences, often blogging the talks I give (see previous paragraph) and the talks I attend (see MiT5 @ MIT and Beyond Broadcast). I also use silver in sf as a public platform for my gone series, a collection of politicians, mostly linked to George W. Bush, who have recently resigned, been fired, or been thrown in jail. I also use silver in sf to share my interest in the intersections among sustainable living and participatory media or what some of us like to call green media. For my work on blogging, I was awarded USF’s Faculty Innovation Award in spring 2008.
now back to stonelake farm ...