Friday, August 29, 2008

introduction to media studies, fall 2008

school started yesterday and this semester i'm teaching two sections of intro to media studies.

i worked hard and creatively on the syllabus. the class is organized around five topics: words, images, sound, consumption, and digital. i got rid of the textbook and went with more online readings than before. with advice from andrew goodwin, i'm assigning my first novel in years: orwell's 1984. i'm also assigning two short papers, two group show-and-tells, and one final paper. and i banned drinking from non-reusable containers in the classroom.

Introduction to Media Studies
Section One: Tues & Thurs 10:30-12:15, Lone Mountain 244A
Section Two: Tues & Thurs 1:30-3:15, Education 201

Professor: David Silver
Office: Kalmanavitz 141
Office hours: Tues & Thurs, 9-10 am and 4-5 pm
Email: dmsilver [ at ] usfca [ dot ] edu

This course introduces students to the field of media studies and Media Studies at USF. Throughout the semester, we will read, research, discuss, and write about oral cultures, illuminated manuscripts, the printing press, books, newspapers, magazines, comics, the telegraph, recorded music, radio, telephones, film, television, cable television, computers, computer games, the Web, and Web 2.0. Along the way, we’ll learn and share our knowledge about America’s Next Top Model, Amos ‘n’ Andy, the Black Panthers, blogs, CNN, Creative Commons, the Diggers, Facebook, fanfic, feevy, Flickr, Kevin Garnett, Donna Haraway, William Randolph Hearst, hypertext, levitating the Pentagon, Guglielmo Marconi, M.I.A., MTV, Myst, Net Neutrality, nickelodeons, podcasts, RSS, The Daily Show, “Three Feet High and Rising,” Total Recall, twitter, virtual communities, Ida B. Wells, Wikipedia, yelp, and YouTube.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the semester, I expect you:
a) to appreciate the spectrum of media – from the printing press to WordPress, from corporate to alternative media, from broadcast to participatory;
b) to have a basic understanding of media’s many relationships with capitalism and militarism, as well as with race, gender, sexuality, and class;
c) to understand that media studies - the discipline and our Department - combines media analysis and media production; and
d) to begin thinking about what kinds of media you want to make while at USF.

Required Readings
o George Orwell, 1984
o You are required to purchase, make, or barter for a bound journal.
o All other readings are available either online or through Gleeson Library’s web site. Please note that although all online readings are free, some of them may require registration.

Course Schedule
Thursday, August 28
o Syllabi distributed. Course introduced.

Tuesday, September 2
o Zachary McCune, “noe web day - 24 hours w/o the internet.”
o Nicholas Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?The Atlantic, July/August 2008.

Thursday, September 4
o Brian Stelter, “In the Age of TiVo and Web Video, What Is Prime Time?New York Times, May 12, 2008.
o Bill Carter, “Fallon Will Start ‘Late Night’ on the Web,” New York Times, July 21, 2008.
o Jose Antonio Vargas, “Obama's Wide Web: From YouTube to Text Messaging, Candidate's Team Connects to Voters,” Washington Post, August 20, 2008.
o Lori Aratani, “When Mom or Dad Asks To Be a Facebook ‘Friend,’” Washington Post, March 9, 2008.

Tuesday, September 9
o Steven Lubar, “Words,” in InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions, Houghton Mifflin, 1993, pp. 19-37.

Thursday, September 11
o Joseph Turow, “The Print Media,” in Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication, 3rd ed., Houghton Mifflin, 2003, pp. 252-263.

Tuesday, September 16
o National Endowment of the Arts, “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequences” (Executive Summary), pp. 1-20.
o Motoko Rich, “Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?New York Times, July 27, 2008.
o Henry Jenkins, “Why Heather Can Write,” Technology Review, February 6, 2004.

Thursday, September 18
o Stacy Schiff, “Know it All: Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?The New Yorker, July 31, 2006.
o Katherine Nguyen, “Eating for joy: Foodies scour online for the next great restaurant, take photos of their meals and obsessively debate what’s good and what’s not,” Orange County Register, July 2, 2007.

Tuesday, September 23
o Paper 1 Due in Class

Thursday, September 25 (Guest Lecture: Professor Michael Robertson)
o Howard Finberg, “A Look Back from 2018,” Poynter Online, November 14, 2007.
o Mindy McAdams, “The survival of journalism: 10 simple facts,” Teaching Online Journalism Blog, July 8, 2008.
o George B. Sánchez, "One man's cancer journey: A survivor is silent no more," Arizona Daily Star, July 6, 2008.
o Read two or three of the most recent blog posts on Newspaper Association of America's Digital Edge Blog.

Tuesday, September 30
o Lynn Hirschberg, “Banksable: How Tyra Banks turned herself fiercely into a brand,” The New York Times Magazine, June 1, 2008.
o Candice Haddad, “Keeping up with the Rump Rage: E!’s Commodification of Kim Kardashian’s Assets,” FLOWTV 8:06.

Thursday, October 2 (Guest Lecture: Professor Susana Kaiser)
o Clint C. Wilson, Félix Gutiérrez, and Lena M. Chao, “Diversity in the Land of Majority Rule,” in Racism, Sexism, and the Media: The Rise of Class Communication in Multicultural America, 3rd edition, Sage Publications, 2003, pp. 3-34.

Tuesday, October 7
o T. V. Reed, "Scenarios for Revolution: The Drama of the Black Panthers," in The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle, University of Minnesota Press, 2005, pp. 40-74.

Thursday, October 9
o Group Show-and-Tell 1 due in class.

Tuesday, October 14: (Guest Lecture: Career Counselors Alex Hochman & Renee Emory)

Thursday, October 16: (Guest Lecture: Professor Melinda Stone)
o Readings to be determined.

Tuesday, October 21
o George Orwell, 1984.

Thursday, October 23
o George Orwell, 1984.

Tuesday, October 28:
o Steven Lubar, “Radio,” in InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions, Houghton Mifflin, 1993, pp. 213-241.

Thursday, October 30: (Guest Lecture: Professor Andrew Goodwin)
o Andrew Goodwin, “A Televisual Context: MTV,” from Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1992, pp. 131-155.

Tuesday, November 4
o David Byrne, "David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars," Wired, January 2008.
o Erik Davis, “Archive Fever,” Arthur, July 2008.
o Jeff Leeds, “In Rapper’s Deal, a New Model for Music Business,” New York Times, April 3, 2008.

Thursday, November 6
o Paper 2 due in class

Tuesday, November 11
o Jean Kilbourne, “’What You’re Looking For’: Rage and Rebellion in Cigarette Advertising,” in Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Simon & Schuster, 1999, pp. 180-216.
o Keely Savoie, “F*cking Progressives: American Apparel wants you to bend over for its anti-sweatshop schtick,” Clamor Magazine, Fall 2006.

Thursday, November 13
o Austin Gelder, “(Product) Red: The Power of the Consumer,” World Ark, November/December 2007.
o Louise Story, “Product Packages Now Shout to Get Your Attention,” New York Times, August 10, 2007.
o Naomi Klein, “Reclaim the Streets,” in No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, Picador, 2002, pp. 311-324

Tuesday, November 18
o Group Show-and-Tell 2 due in class.

Thursday, November 20
o David E. Brown, “Douglas Engelbart: Computer Mouse,” in Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse, MIT Press 2002, pp. 162-167.
o Alice E. Marwick, “To catch a predator? The MySpace moral panic,” First Monday, June 2008.

Tuesday, November 25
o Emily Gould, “Exposed: What I gained – and lost – by writing about my intimate life online,” The New York Times Magazine, May 25, 2008.
o Sherry Turkle, “Can You Hear Me Now?Forbes (May 5, 2007).
o Douglas Rushkoff, "Net Loss" (intended for publication in the canceled Arthur Vol. 1, No. 26 [March 2007]).

Thursday, November 27: No class, Thanksgiving

Tuesday, December 2
o danah boyd, “Why Youth ♥ Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life,” in David Buckingham, editor, Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, MIT Press, 2007.
o Amanda Lenhart, Mary Madden, Alexandra Rankin Macgill, Aaron Smith, “Teens and Social Media: The use of social media gains a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media,” Pew Internet & American Life Project, December 19, 2007.

Thursday, December 4
o Final paper workshop

Tuesday, December 9: Last day of class
o Final paper due in class

Please note: This class has no final exam.

20% - Papers (2)
20% - Group Show-and-Tell (2)
20% - Your Journal
20% - Class Participation
20% - Final Paper

Please note: If you are concerned about your grade, you can request a meeting with me anytime during the semester.

o Be mindful of your behaviors and actions in class.
o Do what you need to do to get to class on time. Don’t be late. No late work accepted.
o Bring your journal to class everyday.
o When class is session, turn off your cell phones. Do not text.
o If you miss class, contact a classmate to find out what you missed. Ask to borrow their notes, too. After this, if you still have specific questions, visit me during office hours.
o Presenting other people’s ideas as your own is plagiarizing. Don’t do it.
o Starting Tuesday (September 2), no drinking out of non-reusable containers. Be creative with your thirst-quenching solutions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

my teaching narrative

what follows is a working version of my teaching narrative, a part of my USF tenure packet that is due september 15th. comments and feedback - especially from past, present, and future students - are encouraged and appreciated.

David Silver
Teaching Narrative
Working Draft: August 25, 2008

My earliest experience with college teaching was as a toddler, accompanying my Dad to Cal Poly, where he was a professor of physics. I enjoyed hanging out in the office Dad shared with James Kalathil, and I felt comfortable being surrounded by walls filled with books. Occasionally, Dad would take me on a tour of campus. He’d point out individual buildings and say, “That’s the Design building. That’s Math. Over there is the Library and next to that is Music.” A college campus, he’d explain, is where different people from different buildings come together to make all of us a little smarter. I was intrigued.

I began teaching in 1990, my senior year at UCLA, when I got a part-time job at Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School, or UES, a laboratory elementary school affiliated with UCLA. At UES, I worked as Ruthellen Moss’s teaching assistant for 5th and 6th graders, a lunch-time playground attendant, and a tutor for the school’s new computer lab.

After two years at UES, I became a private tutor, specializing in writing and thinking skills for junior high and high school students and English conversation skills for LA-based Japanese businessmen. With the teenagers, I discovered that they seldom thought about their topics prior to writing. So I slowed down the writing process by introducing a reflecting process - a ten, twenty, or thirty-minute conversation about their topic. I also learned that with word processors teenagers were more willing to write a second, third, or fourth draft of a paper. With the Japanese businessmen, I learned that American popular culture is an excellent vehicle for engaging conversations. My students would come to class having experienced some form of popular culture and we would spend hours talking about it. In addition to increasing their English conversation skills and confidence, they improved their understanding of American culture and often left class with a notepad full of cool new slang.

Teaching College Students

In fall 1994, I became a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Maryland. My timing was excellent. By the end of my first year, American Studies Professors Jo Paoletti and Mary Corbin Sies received a grant to incorporate computer technologies into their undergraduate classes, which allowed them to hire Psyche Williams-Forson and me as teaching assistants for Material Aspects of American Life. In what was probably a first for any American Studies class, we had our students design and author web sites rather than write traditional papers. I also worked with Professors Sies and Paoletti and others to build Virtual Greenbelt, an early virtual museum devoted to Greenbelt, a New Deal-era planned community in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., that featured student created and curated work. I spent my last year at Maryland as a research assistant helping to launch the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, or MITH, where I learned a great deal about teaching with technology from MITH’s founding director Martha Nell Smith and fellow grad student Jason Rhody. I learned the most about teaching by talking about teaching with fellow grad student Kelly Quinn.

The best thing about being a graduate student in American Studies at the University of Maryland was the opportunity to design and teach my own course. I designed, taught, and constantly tweaked Electronic Communication and American Culture (1997), American Media Cultures (1998), and Technology and American Culture (1999). Teaching two sections of thirty students each semester for three years taught me how to teach college students.

Instead of writing papers, my students designed and authored web sites or what we used to call “homepages.” First, I would assign a question that would require students to weave together the class readings and original research. Then, students would design web sites comprised of a written argument, a few relevant graphics, some hyperlinks, and a bibliography. With their webs-in-progress online, students would come to class, pair up, read each others’ work, and then sit and discuss what works and what doesn’t. Two days later, having considered their peers’ feedback and suggestions, students would complete a final version of their Web sites. This process taught me that students work harder when their work is online, students work more creatively when their work is read by their peers, and students better understand media when they make media.

While at the University of Maryland, I received a number of individual and collaborative awards for my teaching. In 1998, I won the Center for Teaching Excellence’s “Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award.” The same year I received an American Studies Crossroads Project “Faculty Investigator Grant.” For the Department of American Studies’ use of computer technologies in the classroom, Professors Paoletti, Sies, and Virginia Jenkins, fellow grad student Debra DeRuyver, and I won University of Maryland’s “1998 Departmental Award for Excellence and Innovation in Undergraduate Education.” In 2000, MITH founding director Smith, MITH Fellows Katie King and Paoletti, fellow grad student Rhody, and I were awarded University of Maryland’s “Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology.”

Teaching Graduate Students

In 2000-01, I was hired as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s unique MA program in Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT). I taught two sections of a graduate class called Cultures of Cyberspace. Through CCT, I learned how to design graduate-level syllabi, how to introduce key concepts through mini-lectures, how to step aside to let students discuss and develop their own ideas, and how to encourage students to continue and share their work beyond the classroom. While at CCT, I directed the master’s theses of Jason Gallo (who recently completed his PhD in Media, Technology & Society at Northwestern University), Amy Harrison (now Content Director at WEbook), and Jeff Young (now Senior Writer at the Chronicle of Higher Education), and worked closely with Mary Madden (now Senior Research Specialist at Pew Internet and American Life Project) and Megan Sapner (now finishing her PhD in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin).

Teaching Communication at the University of Washington

In September 2001, I moved to Seattle to become an assistant professor in the School of Communications at the University of Washington (UW). A year later, the School merged with the Department of Rhetoric to become the Department of Communication. At UW, I continued to experiment heavily with digital media and learning.

For four of my five years at UW, I taught Introduction to Communication, a large-lecture class for 450 students. I felt energized to teach media literacy and critical thinking to large amounts of students recently shell-shocked by 9-11, the War on Afghanistan, and the War on Iraq. With “Intro,” I learned how to give large lectures, how to design an introductory syllabus for Communication, and how to work with a team of graduate TAs. Best of all, I got to “meet,” teach, and learn from a few thousand UW students.

While at UW, I designed and taught a number of new courses on digital media and cultural difference. With help from a “Teaching Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Fellowship” from UW’s Curriculum Transformation Project, I developed and taught Cultural Diversity in/and Cyberspace. This course asked students to read, discuss, and write about the social construction of cultural difference and the ways such differences are played out online. In Basic Concepts of New Media, students learned about virtual communities and online identities and then designed and built their own. To keep it current, I continuously revised Basic Concepts of New Media and by 2006 was using Facebook as our classroom platform. Another class, offered through Comparative History of Ideas, was LGBT Media Activism. For over a year, a few focused UW undergraduates lobbied me to teach a course on media analysis and media activism with special attention to queer politics. With help from guest lectures from nearly a dozen professors, graduate students, librarians, and community activists, I taught the class, for free, in Spring 2005.

At UW, I taught one graduate course (three times) called Theories and Criticism of Communication Technologies. I also worked with many outstanding graduate students and directed the MA theses of Alice Marwick (now a PhD student of Culture and Communication at NYU) and Adrienne Massanari (now an Instructor of New and Digital Media at Loyola University Chicago). I also served on the MA and PhD committees of Irina Gendelman (now an Assistant Professor of Instructional Design at Saint Martin's University).

I also tried to teach through newspapers. From spring 2005 to spring 2006, I contributed faculty opinion pieces to The Daily, UW’s student newspaper. During a time when too many college campuses were silent about issues like war and peace, it felt good – and right – to speak out. In all, I wrote four editorials: “Collective wondering” (May 18, 2005); “Play it really, really loud” (December 7, 2005); “Listening to students” (April 24, 2006); and “Learning from Topsy Smalley” (May 26, 2006). Writing the editorials - and being approached by students in class and on campus to talk about the editorials - led me to consider other avenues of public expression and in 2006 I launched my first blog silver in seattle.

While at UW, I was the runner-up or finalist to many campus, regional, and national teaching awards. In 2004, I was a finalist for UW’s campus-wide “Distinguished Teaching Award.” In 2005, I was a finalist for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars’ “Faculty of the Year.” In 2006, I was runner-up for the Q Center at the University of Washington’s “Q Faculty Visionary Award.” Also in 2006 I was a finalist for the Tolo Chapter of the Mortar Board Senior Honor Society’s “Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award.” I did, however, proudly win Alpha Chi Omega Sorority’s 2005 “Professor of the Year.” Also, in 2007, a year after I left UW, the UW Alumni Association asked the Class of 2007 to vote for their favorite professor to deliver an end-of-the-year “fun, unconventional lecture”; I was a finalist.

Teaching Media Studies at the University of San Francisco

In fall 2006, I joined the Department of Media Studies at the University of San Francisco. In two years, I have taught six different courses, including five Media Studies classes: Introduction to Media Studies (taught twice), Digital Journalism (taught twice), Digital Democracy, Media Workshop, and Media Internship. I have also taught one Davies Forum, in spring 2008, called Digital Literacy. For this teaching narrative, I will discuss my experiences with three USF courses: Introduction to Media Studies, Digital Journalism, and Digital Literacy.

Introduction to Media Studies introduces students to the field of media studies and Media Studies at USF. To do so, we approach our topic historically. My students read, discuss, and write about oral cultures, illuminated manuscripts, the printing press, books, newspapers, magazines, comics, the telegraph, recorded music, radio, telephones, film, television, cable television, computers, computer games, the Web, and Web 2.0. Along the way, Media Studies professors share their work through guest lectures, Gleeson Librarian Joe Garity teaches research skills through library tours and workshops, and Career Services Center’s Alex Hochman offers tips on how to begin thinking now about future jobs in media and related fields.

By the end of the semester, I expect my students to appreciate a spectrum of media - from the printing press to WordPress, from corporate to alternative media, from broadcast to participatory - and to have a basic understanding of media’s relationships with capitalism, consumerism, and militarism, as well as with race, gender, sexuality, and class. Further, I expect my students to understand that media studies - the discipline and our Department - combines media analysis and media production and I encourage them to begin thinking about what kinds of media they want to make while at USF.

In spring 2007, I developed a new course called Digital Journalism. Part seminar on the present state of journalism and part workshop on the future of storytelling, Digital Journalism teaches students about the current and dramatic transformations that are happening in traditional journalism as well as other media-related industries. Students also learn how to use web-based tools and technologies to gather and access news and stories and to create and distribute their own. Finally, and most importantly, students learn how to learn new tools quickly and independently.

All of the students in Digital Journalism design and maintain a blog. This gives them a free, independent, public, and relatively easy-to-use multimedia platform to publish, distribute, and converse about their ideas and stories. In the past, my students have blogged and photographed the graphic novels exhibit in Gleeson Library (organized by Gleeson Librarians Kathy Woo and Debbie Benrubi), blogged and photographed student murals outside Crossroads Café (organized by Professors Eric Hongisto and Sharon Siskin), interviewed and blogged about the secret garden at the Loyola House (tended by Father Tom Lucas), and photographed, filmed, and blogged USF's organic garden. When students from one class engage in work of students from another class, everyone gets smarter.

In addition to stellar student evaluations, I have received positive qualitative feedback on Digital Journalism. One student wrote: “Digital Journalism is one of the best courses I’ve taken at USF. I feel like I am more prepared to enter the job market that is so oriented toward new media. Prof. Silver showed that he really cared about all of our progress and learning. We had fun and learned a lot!” Another student remarked: “David Silver is an amazing asset to USF and the Media Studies major. He is expertly proficient in new online digital technologies useful to both the Journalism and Production sides of the major. His ideas, as well as his personality, inspire students to go above and beyond normal expectations.”

Last year, I taught the spring 2008 Davies Forum and designed it around Digital Literacy. We read reports about literacy from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and read portions or all of Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities, Henry JenkinsConvergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, and Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. We thought about, talked about, and designed a few hundred blog posts about literacy in a digital age. With enormous help from Erin Smith in the Dean's Office, we hosted, listened to, and blogged about eleven Davies Forum Guest Speakers: Bryan Alexander; Ivan Chew; Kevin Epps; Brewster Kahle; Francis Lake; Mary Madden; Jasmine Park; Kelly Quinn; Fred Stutzman; Phillip Thurtle; and Gayla Trail. We took and uploaded nearly five hundred Davies Forum-related photographs to Flickr. With help from Gleeson Librarian Vicki Rosen, we took over a significant chunk of Gleeson Library to recognize National Library Week. And we field-tripped to Haight Street to watch experimental film, to the downtown branch of the San Francisco Public Library to learn about Library 2.0, and to Humboldt County to spend three days at Stonelake Farm.

Part Walden, part Web 2.0, Digital Literacy encouraged my seven honors students and I to log on and log off to better understand the informational environments that surround us. Whether I required my students to shop for and cook a delicious meal and blog about it, or whether I asked my students to find a part of San Francisco that would make Jane Jacobs proud and blog about it, or whether I encouraged my students to reflect upon something important for a few days while at Stonelake Farm and blog about it, the assignment was essentially the same: log off before you blog off. Teaching Digital Literacy was a high honor of a lifetime and the student evaluations were the highest of my academic career.

Teaching Other People’s Classes

In addition to teaching my own classes, I have guest-lectured in my colleagues’ classes. I have given two guest lectures about “Web 2.0” for Professor Dorothy Kidd’s Media Institutions course and gave a guest lecture on “Web 2.0, Crowd-sourcing, and New Forms of Reporting” for Professor Teresa Moore’s Journalism II: Advanced Reporting course. I also gave a guest lecture on “The September Project and Building Public Culture” for Professor Josh Gamson’s Sociology of Culture course.

I enjoy blogging and teaching about blogging. In fall 2007, I gave a presentation called “Blogging 101” to USF faculty, librarians, and staff as part of the Center for Information Technology’s (CIT) Emerging Technologies in Higher Education Speaker Series. Also that semester, I gave a talk called "Blogging" at a town hall meeting at Gleeson Library. In spring 2008, together with Professors Andrew Goodwin (Professor of Pop) and Michael Robertson (Darwin's California Cat Presents the 15-Minute Man), I was part of a panel discussion and blog demonstration called “Blogging Teaching, Collegiality and Self-Expression” as part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Faculty Development lunch series. In summer 2008, I conducted (with help from two recently graduated Davies Forum students) a workshop called “Blogging 101” for USF faculty, staff, and students as part of CIT’s Summer Tech Intensives. I also conducted (and continue to conduct) a number of blogging workshops for the students enrolled in USF’s Garden Project. For this work and my work with my own blog, silver in sf, I was awarded USF’s Full-time Faculty Innovation Award in spring 2008.

Learning about Teaching

I enjoy learning about teaching. For the last two years, I have gained much from Dean Michael Bloch’s Lunchtime Teaching Series for 1st and 2nd year professors. I learned a lot from our discussions and enjoyed getting to know my faculty colleagues over a tasty lunch. In 2007, I attended my first Faculty Resource Network at NYU and enrolled in “Foundations of Online Course Development,” which helped me think through some issues around student learning and student blogging. In 2008, I attended my second Faculty Resource Network and enrolled in “The Landscape of American Food in the Twenty-First Century.” The week-long program was excellent and generated many refreshing conversations (and future collaborations) around food, teaching about food, and teaching with food.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

the september project grows ... and a question about wordpress + google maps

the september project continues to grow. libraries in argentina, canada, greece, italy, lithuania, and the united states are organizing events about issues that matter for their communities.

View Larger Map

if you mouse-click the pins, you'll find the names of participating libraries, as well as their addresses and links to their web sites. also, when available, we're able to include a photograph of the library.

although we've been pretty happy with google maps there's a major problem. when we try to embed the map on our "Where is it?" page of the september project web site (built in wordpress, rather than, like this blog, in blogger), the map default is stuck on the US/north america. it must seem so uninviting for folks outside the US to visit our page and see a big map of the US. arg. if anyone has any advice about working with wordpress + google maps, please let me know. we need help!

in the last few weeks i've blogged a bit about various september project events going on around the world. here's some:

September Project events in Portland, Oregon

September Project events for children, teens, and adults at all eight branches of Arapahoe (CO) Library District

September Project events in Genova, Italy

A full slate of September Project events at Morton Grove Public Library

Waffle Brunch with Benjamin Franklin at Beaufort Branch Library!

what's your library doing in september?

Friday, August 15, 2008

mom has a birthday

this summer mom turned seventy. when my sisters and i asked mom what she wanted for her birthday, she said two things: for the whole family to be together and for a photograph or two to be taken along the way. we agreed to both demands.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

my service narrative

i've constructed my service narrative by discussing three kinds of service. first, service to the department, college, and university. second, service to the community. and third, service to the field.

what follows is a working version of my service narrative, a part of my USF tenure packet that is due september 15th. comments are very much encouraged.

(08-11-08 update: a) added two new transition sentences; b) changed the garden project paragraph to be less about higher education trends and more about my service to the project.)

(09-13-08 update: a) added my involvement with the USF-based journal peace review and the ralph lane peace and justice essay award competition to the service to the college section; b) added my involvement in this year's one book, one campus reading discussions.)

David Silver
Service Narrative
Working Draft: August 9 11, 2008

To better trace my service activities as an assistant professor, I have divided my service narrative into three sections: a) Service to the Campus; b) Service to the Community; and c) Service to the Field.

Service to the Campus

Since joining the Media Studies faculty in fall 2006, I have worked creatively and collaboratively to contribute to the intellectual community of my Department, College, and University. Together with John Kim, I helped organize our 2006-2007 departmental Colloquium Series, a series of research and teaching presentations by regular and visiting Media Studies faculty. I also attended and participated in a workshop called “Video/Audio Blogging, Social Networks and Labor” at LaborTech 2006: The Digital Revolution and a Labor Media Strategy organized by Professor Dorothy Kidd. Also during 2006-2007, in collaboration with Teresa Moore and with support from the College of Arts and Sciences, Environmental Studies, Gleeson Library, the Journalism Minor, Living-Learning Communities, Peace and Justice Studies, and the Departments of Media Studies, Politics, and Sociology, I brought Josh Wolf to campus for a talk on Journalism and the Justice System. (See Appendix: “Maria Dinzeo, “Incarcerated Blogger Shares Experience with USF,” San Francisco Foghorn, April 26, 2007.) In 2007-2008, I chaired the Media Studies Job Search, a robust (180+ applications) search process that brought about important discussions about our department’s present and future directions but that resulted in no hire. With help from Lydia Fedulow, the department's extraordinary program assistant, I feel productive and organized.

Since 2006, I have enjoyed many inspired collaborations with people and departments across the College of Arts and Sciences. With visiting Politics Professor Banafsheh Akhlaghi, San Francisco Fire Chief Heather Fong, and student members of USF Politics Society & Pi Sigma Alpha, I was part of a September Project that examined the legacy of September 11 in terms of decreasing human rights and civil liberties in the US. With Politics Professors Corey Cook and Stephen Zunes, the USF Politics Society, and the McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, I was part of Election Watch 06, a night of students, staff, and faculty coming together over politics, pizza, and poll-watching on election night. Since 2007, I have served as an Associate Editor for the USF-based journal Peace Review and this year served as one of the judges for the Ralph Lane Peace & Justice Essay Award Competition.

Last year, I shared my research on using online tools to foster offline engagement as part of the Special Lecture Series in Computer Science (SLS/CS). I also worked with Computer Science Professor Benjamin Wells to bring Marc Smith to campus as part of SLS/CS. And for the last two years, I have helped (and been inspired by) Computer Science Professor Chris BrooksPeru Digital Divide Immersion Project by recommending two excellent Media Studies students (now graduates), Veanne Cao and Amber McChesney-Young, to help digitally document the collaboration.

My most fruitful College-wide service has been with USF’s Garden Project, led by Media Studies Professor Melinda Stone, Art + Architecture Professor Seth Wachtel, and eleven first-year living-learning student-farmers. Within two short years, USF’s garden provides a collaborative research, teaching, and community space that is not only green and beautiful but also practical and pedagogical. In fall, I gave a blogging workshop for the Garden Project students which resulted in a group blog. I’ve also consulted with Garden Project students about incorporating photography, tagging, and film - as well as topics like gardening skills, lessons about the land, and garden-to-table recipes - into future blogs. Last spring, my Digital Journalism students and I interviewed, documented, researched, photographed, blogged, and filmed the garden and its students and faculty (See Teaching Narrative). This summer, together with Christin Anderson and an email list, I helped coordinate a summer garden crew comprised of students, staff, librarians, and faculty.

Since 2006, I have collaborated with Gleeson Library and have worked closely and creatively with many Gleeson Librarians especially Joe Garity, our Media Studies Library Liaison. Together with Gleeson Librarians Debbie Benrubi and Kathy Woo, my spring 2007 “Digital Journalism” students and I interviewed, photographed, and blogged about the graphic novel exhibit in Gleeson Library. Together with Gleeson Librarian Vicki Rosen, my Davies Forum students and I took over a good chunk of the library as part of National Library Week. One of the most exciting projects to be a part of is Gleeson Gleanings, a group blog started by Gleeson Librarian Debbie Malone and contributed to by nearly a dozen Gleeson librarian-bloggers. As another example of the continuum of scholarship, I think of my relationship to a blog like Gleeson Gleanings as service, teaching, and research: I informally offered advice during the blog’s launch, my students and I routinely use (and comment to) the blog, and I regularly use Gleeson Gleanings as a topic of discussion for my research talks at library conferences.

Although I am still learning my way around campus, I have contributed service to the University. I co-staffed the Media Studies’ table at the Major/Minor Fair in both 2006 and 2007. I have worked with the Office of Undergraduate Admission to be a speaker for USF’s Admitted Student Visit Program, both in 2006 and in 2007, where I get to showcase USF student media and to field post-visit student comments on my blog. I also served as a faculty reading moderator for this year's one book, one campus reading of Three Cups of Tea. Also, in conjunction with the Center for Instruction and Teaching, I conducted a campus-wide blogging workshop for USF faculty and staff and co-presented (with Professors Andrew Goodwin and Michael Robertson) at a Faculty Development lunch panel organized by Sister Mary Theresa Moser called "Blogging Teaching, Collegiality and Self-Expression."

Without a doubt one of the most rewarding and refreshing experiences on campus has been blogging alongside Media Studies professors Andrew Goodwin (Professor of Pop) and Michael Robertson (Darwin's California Cat Presents the 15-Minute Man). Reading and commenting on the blogs of two colleagues who teach different classes to similar students at the same campus, and having them read and comment on silver in sf, is extremely exciting. Equally exciting is when USF students continue the classroom experience by commenting on their professor’s blog (or blogging a post of their own) and by so doing enter into a public conversation with peers and professors. In turn, my ideas and lectures get stronger and more interesting with student feedback. For blogging and for integrating blogs into teaching and service I received USF’s Faculty Innovation Award in spring 2008.

Service to the Community

Extending my service from campus to the community, I have enjoyed collaborating with San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) for the last two years. Last summer, I worked with SFPL Librarian Jerry Dear, the Herb Caen Magazines & Newspaper Center, and SFPL to present “The Power of Web 2.0” at the Main Library. (See Appendix: The Power of Web 2.0 talk flyer; and Jerry Dear’s email titled “A Superb Program” to David Silver, July 1, 2007.) Last spring, I continued my collaboration with Jerry Dear and SFPL to help bring Sarah Houghton-Jan (The Librarian in Black) to SFPL; my Davies Forum students and I field-tripped to the Main Library to see The Librarian in Black’s talk on Library 2.0.

I have also begun to collaborate with professors and librarians at neighboring Bay Area colleges and universities. With an invitation from California College of the Arts Professor Rachel Schreiber, I served as Moderator for CCA’s Visual and Critical Studies 2008 Graduate Symposium, where I had the pleasure to introduce and comment on Guinevere Harrison’s MA thesis “Neogeography: Mapping Our Place in the World” and Lee Pembleton’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction.” With an invitation from long-time collaborator Shinjoung Yeo, I gave a talk for Stanford librarians, where I suggested that instead of professors and librarians building sites for college students to visit and obey, we should encourage our students to build their own sites - sites where they follow their curiosity, create content, converse, and collaborate (the five c's). (See Appendix: “a talk for librarians at stanford university,” silver in sf, March 19, 2008.) And this summer, I attended the Tools for Participation conference organized by Doug Schuler, sponsored by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, and hosted by the Information School at UC Berkeley.

Service to the Field

For over a decade, I have worked actively, creatively, and collaboratively towards fostering research and teaching around an academic field called new media studies, digital media studies, Internet studies, or cyberculture studies. Whatever the name, there is growing and sustained academic interest (especially but not limited to our students) in the Internet, digital media and culture, and convergent mobile media. In 1996, I began using the term cyberculture studies because I was convinced that the media revolution we were beginning to experience was both technological and cultural and because the term cyberculture studies was ambiguous enough to include just about anything and everything relating to contemporary or not-so-contemporary media and culture.

In 2002, I was invited to be on the Academic Advisory Board of the Pew Internet & American Life Project (PIP) and in 2006 I joined PIP as a member of their Advisory Board. Working with the Pew Internet & American Life Project staff has been a highlight of my career and it is a privilege to be a part of a project that continues to publish – publicly and for free – rich and rigorous data and stories about US-based digital media practices, behaviors, and possibilities. In another example of the continuum of scholarship, the reports the Pew Internet & American Life Project publish make their way into my research and into my syllabi. Continuing the continuum, PIP Senior Research Specialist Mary Madden was guest lecturer in my Davies Forum course on Digital Literacy in spring 2008. In addition to working with Pew, I have worked and learned from the Ford Foundation, especially Becky Lentz and the Media, Arts and Culture (MAC) unit. In 2002, I attended and presented my work at the October staff meeting of MAC in Berkeley, California and in 2006, I attended a mini-symposium titled “Media and Communications at a Crossroads: The Role of Scholarship for Media Reform and Justice” in New York City. (See Appendix: Letter from Ford Foundation, November 12, 2002; and Media and Communications at a Crossroads: The Role of Scholarship for Media Reform and Justice, Participant Bios, January 20, 2006.) For the last two years, I have served as grant reviewer for the small and large grant cycles of the Necessary Knowledge for a Democratic Sphere, a collaboration among the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Center for International Media Action (CIMA), and the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center at Fordham University.

On a more academic level, I work with a number of journals, especially New Media & Society, where I have served as a Contributing Editor since 2001. Under the expert editorial direction of Nick Jankowski and Steve Jones, New Media & Society has become, I believe, the leading journal in new media studies and one that has had success in bridging social science- and humanities-based academic communities. I am also a member of the Editorial Board of Games & Culture: A Journal of Interactive Media and a member of the Advisory Board of the Iowa Review Web. Since 2000, I have reviewed articles for: American Studies; first monday; Games & Culture; Information, Communication & Society; The Information Society; Journal of American Culture; New Media & Society; and Social Movement Studies. Also since 2000, I have regularly reviewed manuscripts for Arnold Publishers, Greenwood Publishing Group, Prentice Hall, Routledge, Sage, SUNY Press, and Wadsworth Publishing.

In a field that is always changing, some of the most dynamic research is found not in journals nor in books but rather at conferences. Although the majority of work comes from the conference organizers, I have contributed by serving as a reviewer on many conference committees. In the last decade, I have served on the Program Committee of Constructing Cyberculture(s): Performance, Pedagogy, and Politics in Online Spaces Conference (College Park, Maryland, 2001); on the Program Committee for the Fourth International Digital Arts & Culture Conference (Brown University, Rhode Island, 2001); on the Program Committee for the Second Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2001); on the Program Committee for the Shaping the Network Society: Patterns for Participation, Action and Change Conference (Seattle, Washington, 2002); on the International Program Committee for CATaC: Conference on Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication (Montreal, Canada, 2002; and Karlstad, Sweden, 2004); as a Reviewer for the Communication and Technology Division of the 53rd Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (San Diego, California, 2003); on the Program Committee for Social Intelligence Design 2006 (Osaka, Japan, 2006); as a Reviewer for the Showing, Demonstrating Colloquium (Université de Marne-laVallée, France, 2007); and on the Program Committee for DIAC-2008: Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing (University of California, Berkeley, 2008).

I have welcomed opportunities to share academic ideas with larger, more general, and diverse audiences through print media, especially newspapers and magazines. In October 1997, Wired magazine used the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies (RCCS) to talk about college classes in cyberculture and in 2001 the Chronicle of Higher Education featured RCCS in “Internet Studies 1.0: a Discipline Is Born,” which discussed the formation of a new academic field of study. (See Appendix: “Culture Crash Course,” Wired, October 1997; and Scott McLemee, "Internet Studies 1.0: a Discipline Is Born," Chronicle of Higher Education, March 30, 2001.) I have tried my best to inject sensible discourse about the internet and contemporary culture through interviews for outlets like the Associated Press, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Times, The Observer, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Seattle Times. (See Appendix: Media Appearances; and Joyce Cohen, “He-Mails, She-Mails: Where Sender Meets Gender Men,” New York Times, May 17, 2001).

My favorite and most long-standing service to the field is the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, or RCCS, which I designed and launched in 1996 as a free, public, and user-submitted archive of relevant college-level syllabi and calls for conferences. In 1997, I began publishing monthly full-length book reviews of books about contemporary media and culture. From the start, I decided RCCS would review books for two reasons: 1) books often contain interesting, well-developed ideas and arguments, something a new field of study needs and thrives on; and 2) books, unlike Web sites which began to multiple and remix at an alarming rate by 1997, are finite in number. Soon after, I began publishing author responses alongside the book reviews. Soon after that, I began publishing multiple book reviews of a single book. These days, 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. To date, RCCS has published over 550 book reviews of over 400 books with over 150 author responses. (See Appendix: Books Reviewed by RCCS.) My favorite part of RCCS is that it is written and read by all kinds of scholars – professors, graduate students, librarians, and independent artists and scholars representing all kinds of fields and disciplines within the arts, humanities, technologies, and sciences.

Friday, August 08, 2008


yesterday afternoon, sarah and i converged in arcata, and by late last night she was here in the octagon at stonelake farm. in the morning, i explained to her how the eight-sided tenure narrative writing machine works and she suggested a few excellent configurations. later, sarah surveyed stonelake's garden and created one of her signature salads.

happy great eights day!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

reading while writing

lately, i've been spending my morning coffee on a bench outside the octagon overlooking the lower fields and forests of stonelake farm. in the morning, i read a page or two of david samuels' recent new yorker piece "dr. kush."

at night, after group dinner and washed dishes, i steal away to the same bench, this time with whatever remains in the night's bottle. under a hundred million stars and sarah's headlamp, i read a chapter or two of lisa lutz's the spellman files.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

a box full of scholarship

sometime before moving to seattle, i met up with my dissertation chair john caughey for lunch. after we finished our meals and talked about this and that, i asked john if he had any advice for me getting tenure.

he thought for a while and then answered: "when you get to UW, get a box and set it aside. a good strong box. anytime you do anything - anything research, anything teaching, anything service - get some kind of physical evidence of the thing you do. then, put that physical evidence in the box. when you publish something, put a copy in the box. when you finish a new syllabus or get an award, put it in the box. when you get a letter of appreciation from a student or colleague or member of the community, put it in the box. then, when tenure time comes around, you'll have a box full of scholarship."

i thought for a while and said, "that's a great idea! thanks, john!"

in the center of the octagon there is an eight-sided pit. this morning i placed my tenure box in the pit and began taking out the box's contents. instead of me arranging the work into three categories (teaching, research, service), the work arranged itself: first as pods, then as clusters, then as blobs that suggest some kind of a continuum of scholarship. currently and curiously, the work seems to have settled into eight rough blobs.

Monday, August 04, 2008

the guestbook in the octagon

i spent the morning reading the first half of the octagon's guestbook. the guestbook's authors are everyone - kids, teenagers, college students, artists, writers, filmmakers, lovers, partners, parents. what runs through all of the entries i've read is deep, deep appreciation, wonder, hope, and gratitude for the octagon, for stonelake farm, and for everything francis and melinda are creating here. it's a multi-authored, collaboratively-designed book of renewal and gratitude.

there's a page in the guestbook from the fearless davies forum crew. i think amber mcchesney-young's entry in the guestbook sums it up nicely: "I've had a wonderful time here at Stonelake, chopping wood, cooking, eating, and listening to Francis' wisdom. There should definitely be a USF program here." great idea, amber!

michal, a student at scattergood friends school and part of the team that helped build the new outhouse and the solar shower deck, writes in the guestbook, "Francis, thanks for teaching us so many skills and giving us the opportunity to work through several rounds of trial and error."

wow, i thought, reading michal's sentence, what a wonderful compliment from a student! and then again - wow, what a wonderful definition of engaged teaching! engaged teaching is giving students opportunities to work through several rounds of trial and error. i'm totally using that in my teaching narrative.

greetings from tiny and zeta.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

scholarship in public

when i told my friend and colleague kelly quinn that i was going to write my tenure packet this summer, she suggested i read a document called "scholarship in public: knowledge creation and tenure policy in the engaged university" put out by imagining america, a national consortium of colleges and universities committed to public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design. i had heard of imaging america before, via kathy woodward at the university of washington, and remember julie ellison visiting UW one summer as part of the simpson center for the humanities annual institute on the public humanities for doctoral students. kq's suggestions are always smart, so i packed "scholarship in pubic" for my trip to stonelake farm.

the "scholarship in public" report concentrates on two things: "publicly engaged faculty and on how to change tenure and promotion policies for them" (p. 5). the report's audience is graduate students; junior faculty and senior faculty; "middle ground" leaders like department chairs, center and program directors, and deans; and university leaders like presidents and provosts.

for me - and for anyone else currently involved (or may one day get involved) in public scholarship and writing a tenure packet - the most useful part of the report was a paragraph on page six. it's the place where "scholarship in public" offers an excellent definition of public scholarship:

"Publicly engaged academic work is scholarly or creative activity integral to a faculty member's academic area. It encompasses different forms of making knowledge about, for, and with diverse publics and communities. Through a coherent, purposeful sequence of activities, it contributes to the public good and yields artifacts of public and intellectual value" (p. 6).

the first part of the report seeks to expand what counts as scholarly and creative work. instead of obsessively (and inaccurately) placing all pieces of scholarship within the narrow categories of research, teaching, and community service, the report urges a more holistic approach, one that considers a continuum of scholarship. for example, the report cites portland state university's tenure policy as the right idea:

"One should recognize that research, teaching, and community outreach often overlap. For example, a service learning project may refl ect both teaching and community outreach. Some research projects may involve both research and community outreach. Pedagogical research may involve both research and teaching. When a faculty member evaluates his or her individual intellectual, aesthetic, or creative accomplishments, it is more important to focus on the general criteria of the quality and significance of the work ... than to categorize the work" (p. 8).

according to "scholarship in public," adopting a continuum of scholarship is a good thing for universities (and colleges and community colleges). incorporating a continuum of scholarship into tenure and promotion policies: 1) makes it easier for a university to evaluate new or undervalued professional practices or artifacts; 2) helps to foster an intellectually and culturally diverse faculty; and 3) makes a statement about how a university defines its intellectual community and mission (p. 10).

the report's first part ends with three important points. first, recognizing a continuum of scholarship requires recognizing a continuum of artifacts. this could and should include publications and presentations, awards and recognitions for community outreach, adoption of faculty member's models for problem resolution, contributions to public policy, and models that enrich the artistic and cultural life of the community. second, public presentations of knowledge matter and count. having a member of the campus community engaging with various publics and sharing his or her knowledge and experience is a good thing for universities, colleges, and community colleges. and third, we must expand who counts as peers. we need - and those who evaluate us need - to broaden our concepts and communities of review.

parts two and three are interesting but are not directly relevant to my current focus to write my tenure narratives while at stonelake farm. but they are important and not to be missed. part two charts concerns of faculty doing or not doing public scholarship. it notes that although today's graduate students are extremely publicly active (check out UW's institute on the public humanities for doctoral students and look out for HASTAC scholars program coming to a campus near you), their mentors often urge them to stop. further, junior and mid-career faculty postpone or under-report their public scholarship. finally, there is also a heightened risk for students and faculty of color who are often already facing increased service expectations and responsibilities. part three is about changing the culture and includes tangible suggestions: working with and educating presidents, provosts, and deans; supporting departmental chairs; rewriting a department's statement on scholarship; exploring the intersections of departments, centers, and deans; employing participatory policy change (see what indiana university-purdue university indianapolis requires of its senior faculty on page 30 of the report); and, most importantly, listen to graduate students and learn about the projects that excite them.

the report is long - at 55+ pages too long - but it covers so much ground and is full of ideas and information about constructive ways to encourage public scholarship and collaborative community-based arts and cultural events and to reward them as scholarly activity.

as i leave the cybercafe on stonelake farm and return to the octagon and the fields below it, i begin to mull over the words i'll use to describe RCCS and the september project in my tenure narratives. with imagining america's fifty-two word definition of publicly engaged academic work swimming in my mind, i see all kinds of words and sentences taking shape.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

chores at stonelake farm

besides a few small chores like letting mesa, the barn dog/puppy, out in the morning and feeding her breakfast, my main assignment at stonelake farm is the lower garden.

each evening around six-thirty i water it all, except the potatoes and the squash which get watered every other day. i weed the weeds and then feed the weeds to the chickens. after watering, we plant - a new batch of carrots thursday and three new rows of potatoes friday.

my other important task is to harvest. this chore is the most delicious.

Friday, August 01, 2008

living in the octagon

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.

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 ...