Week 11 English 516

“Paradox and Promise: MySpace, Facebook, and the Sociopolitics of Social Networking in the Writing Classroom”
Gina Maranto, Matt Barton 

I am struck by a few things in this piece.  Firstly, I wonder what the major drawbacks would be to having teachers use a specific group on Facebook, for example, so that interactions between educators and students could be limited to a professional arena.  Obviously, there would be less mentoring of identity formation.  But couldn’t this provide a bit of a solution?

Secondly, I never considered the Marxist implications of social networking on cruising, so to speak.  I considered that the issue of access provides a socioeconomic lens for examining social networking sites, but never did I consider the implications of a hierarchy of sites.  I didn’t have Facebook until 2010 (it being a requirement for a course I took), and never had a MySpace page at all. Obviously, you could treat social networking sites much like a collection of clubs, for the purpose of sociological research.

Thirdly, I am struck at how complicated the social, legal, ethical framework of our society has become with the use of the Interwebs.  I was in high school between 1994 and 1997 when the shift from cars to computers was apparently taking place.  Suffice it to say, I still rode around in cars with friends and used the Internet mostly for academic research.

Ignoring the immense privacy implications of unregulated private sites such as Facebook or MySpace, I am concerned with the social implications of programs such as Whereaboutz.  This article explores some of the issues of the way we include youth in our discourses surrounding responsibility and accountability, and it goes further into the nature of relationships when you have what amounts to a tracking device on your child.  Trust, anyone?  Safety-wise, if their phone is on, most of them have GPS that the police can track, so this goes beyond that.  On page 44, the authors quote Mizuko Ito, “[w]hile many studies of children, youth, and media have for decades stressed the status of young people as competent and full social subjects, digital media increasingly insist that we acknowledge this viewpoint”.  It is interesting to consider that building a professional persona is going to become more problematic as access to your every deed as a youth (if you share them on social networking sites).  Does the acknowledgement of the importance of youth voices attach a greater level of expectation of mature decision-making?

Overall, it really only makes sense to make use of what is essentially the new digital version of the town square.  Despite its problems and limitations, the Internet provides a rich opportunity for engagement and honing of technological skills that shouldn’t be ignored, even if it were possible to do so (I don’t think it is).  In many ways it levels the playing field with regard to age, social status, ethnicity, gender, personality, politics etc.  Not that these dynamics disappear, but that it is easier to subvert them in the semi-anonymous environment of the Internet.  This affords a greater conversation and it doesn’t get much more democratic than that.

“[O]rganizing without organizations,” as Shirky is quoted, is only a threat to…established organizations (45).  And if they didn’t need to change…the organizing wouldn’t have gone on in the first place.  But that’s my politics showing.


“The Writing Lives of College Students”

Jeff Grabill, Stacey Pigg

I honestly don’t have a whole lot to say about this white paper.  It examines the types of writing that first year comp students (and other writing students) value, and how frequently they use them.  As I would have predicted, texting is used a lot, but not ranked highly for its value.  Conversely, journals are not used frequently, but are valued highly.  It is curious to think about how the platforms for composing are dramatically altering alongside technology and what that means for composition as a whole.  I think I’m way behind on this, as I have only been writing/reading online for a few years. I’m trying to catch up on the discourse surrounding these phenomena, which isn’t easily done considering the rate of technological change we are generally experiencing.

I find it a little bit surprising that phones are used so much for composing…but I guess not that much.  I’ve never written with a phone or other hand-held device, but then I don’t have a “smart” phone and I don’t consider texting or IMing writing (which gets into the lines between writing and speaking–another topic altogether).  Hey, my phone saves numbers, makes phone calls, and alerts me to voicemails.  That’s really all I need it to do.


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