Edward Snowden: A ‘Nation’ Interview | The Nation

Edward Snowden: A ‘Nation’ Interview | The Nation.

“When people say, “I have nothing to hide,” what they’re saying is, “My rights don’t matter.” Because you don’t need to justify your rights as a citizen—that inverts the model of responsibility. The government must justify its intrusion into your rights. If you stop defending your rights by saying, “I don’t need them in this context” or “I can’t understand this,” they are no longer rights. You have ceded the concept of your own rights. You’ve converted them into something you get as a revocable privilege from the government, something that can be abrogated at its convenience. And that has diminished the measure of liberty within a society.”

Prospective Literacy Events (Practicum)

Okay, so, trying to get to my daughter’s school to do observations has been nothing short of a comedy of errors.  Except that it really isn’t funny.  Either it’s break, or my kid is sick, or school is closed, or I get called in to work, or my babysitter falls through AT THE LAST MINUTE.  Seriously, every. single. blinking. time.  GAH!

Anyway, I am going this afternoon, but I am thinking that my literacy event will look something like me interviewing one or more students (very informally, if there’s time) after the teacher reads from the novel she’s been reading to the class.  We are reading the same series at home (Junie B. Jones – she’s hilarious), so I might end up doing some stuff with my daughter at home.  I just don’t know.  I want to see what the students’ reactions are to being read to, and what they do while they are listening (purportedly, at any rate).  I am curious as to how she sets up the kids for the story, as in how do they sit, how does she introduce the activity, things like that.  Of course, based on further observation, I might change my literacy event.

Based on the times I have spent a few minutes in the room here and there, I imagine that they sit in a circle on the rug…but I look forward to seeing how it all works.

McLuhan’s Laws of the Media (Summary Quotes)

“The structuralists, beginning with Ferdinand de Saussure and now Levi-Strauss, divide the approaches to the problem of form into two categories: diachrony and synchronyDiachrony is simply the developmental, chronological study of any cultural matter; but synchrony works on the assumption that all aspects of any form are simultaneously present in any part of it. ”

“Since electric speeds of information constitute a sort of simultaneous structuring of experience, synchrony, representing all directions at once, is, as it were, acoustic; whereas the diachronic, representing one stage at a time, is visual in its analytical pattern. Few people seem to be aware that visual space and order are continuous, connected, homogeneous, and static. In these regards, visual space is quite different from any other kind of space, be it tactile, kinetic, audile, or osmic (smell). Visual space alone can be divided.

“I am talking about “media” in terms of a larger entity of information and perception which forms our thoughts, structures our experience, and determines our views of the world about us. It is this kind of information flow-media-which is responsible for my postulation of a series of insights regarding the impact of certain technological developments. I call them “laws” because they represent, as do scientific “laws,” an ordering of thought and experience which has not yet been disproved; I call them “laws of the media” because the channels and impact of today’s electronic communication systems provide the informational foundation upon which we order, or structure, these experiential perceptions.”

“The Laws of the Media have been shaped by studying the effects of media, so there is always a hidden ground upon which these effects stand, and against which they bounce. That is, the law of a medium is a figure interplaying with a ground. As with a wheel and an axle, there must be an interval between the two in order for the play to exist.”

“In other words, do my Laws of the Media–derived from my inductive approach to synchronous form-correspond to
historical data as viewed from the vantage point of historians of technology?”

Using his Laws, one determines what a media:

  • Amplifies
  • Obsolesces
  • Retrieves
  • Reverses

(Key Points in) “Writing the Successful Thesis and Dissertation” by Patricia Clark

Writing the Successful Thesis and Dissertation 


Chapters 3, 4, and 6

  • Understanding writing as a process can enable writers to discover a workable topic.
  • Scholarship can be viewed as an ongoing conversation.
  • The proposal is a rhetorical genre in which writer, audience, and text interact to fulfill a particular function.

As you read, keep in mind the following questions:

  • What is already known about this topic?
  • What would someone in the field like to investigate further?
  • What question can I ask that will lead me to find out more about this topic?
  • What method can I use to find an answer to this question?

Look for ideas in other theses and dissertations.

Be practical when choosing your topic.

Join the conversation.

Tuning into the conversation:

  • What is the name of your “field”?
  • What is your field “about”?
  • Why is this field important?
  • What issues does this field address?
  • What are the prominent journals in this field?
  • Who are the prominent scholars in this field?
  • What issues in this field generate disagreement?
  • What aspect of this field interests you the most?

The Proposal as a Genre

  • What is the function or purpose of the proposal?  That is, what is a proposal supposed to do?
  • For whom is the proposal being written?  For what audience is the proposal intended?
  • What role should the writer of a proposal assume?

The primary function or purpose of the proposal is to argue for the worth of the topic selected for the thesis or dissertation.  The goal is to convince:

  • The project is worth doing.
  • The project can be done using the method stated and in the time allotted.

One contributes to the conversation by:

  • Addressing a problem or question that others have addressed unsuccessfully.
  • Finding a gap in the literature that needs elaboration or clarification.
  • Conducting a study that needs to be repeated or modified.
  • Analyzing a text that differs in some way from previous analyses, or applying a theory or analytic tool in a new context.

Problematizing is central to the process, and a convincing proposal argues:

  • The problem, question, or issue is worth considering.
  • The problem is important to the profession.
  • The problem has not been addressed adequately in the profession, although there probably has been some work done on it before.
  • The author has a viable strategy for addressing the problem in a reasonable time.

To be convincing the writer must:

  • Explain the nature of the problem, question, or issue.
  • Demonstrate its significance in the field.
  • Establish that the author has investigated prior scholarship.
  • Present a means of addressing the problem or question.
  • Show that the work can be completed in a timely manner.

Possible method: Problem, Question, Purpose

How to present an appropriate authorial persona:

  • Use an appropriately formal academic style.
  • Use an appropriately qualified style.
  • Clarify and document your statements.

Elements in a Proposal:

  • Establishing the background and context of the research problem in question. (relevance)
  • Explaining the problem, issue, or question set within the context of the field. (significance)
  • Defining key terms
  • Showing that the proposal writer is familiar with relevant literature.
  • Explaining the approach, theory, or method that will be used.
  • Describing a likely structure for the final product that will be written and a time schedule for completing the project.

Diagram of John Swales’ CARS (Create a Research Space) Model:

A “move” can be understood as a “direction” in which the text proceeds to make its point, and when you look at the moves in the text you read, you will be able to construct a map that will help you navigate.


  1. Establishing a territory
  2. Establishing a niche
  3. Occupying the niche

Dudley-Evans’ Model:


  1. Introducing the field
  2. Introducing the general topic within the field
  3. Introducing the particular topic (within the general topic)
  4. Defining the scope of the particular topic
  5. Preparing for present research
  6. Introducing present research

Reviewing the Process of Mapping a Text:

  1. Get an overview of the topography.
  2. Examine the text for its central “moves”.
  3. Consider the text in a rhetorical context–figure out the nature of the conversation.
  4. Situate the text within the discipline.
  5. Identify areas of intertextuality.
  6. Compare this text to other texts you have read.
  7. Ask yourself why you reading this text.
  8. Create signposts in the text.
  9. Keep track of your own location.
  10. Evaluate your presence within this text.

Questions associated with a Literature Review:

  1. What is my central question or issue that the literature can help define?
  2. What is already known about the topic?
  3. Is the scope of the literature being reviewed wide or narrow enough?
  4. Is there a conflict or debate in the literature?
  5. What connections can be made between the texts being reviewed?
  6. What sort of literature should be reviewed? Historical? Theoretical? Methodological? Quantitative? Qualitative?
  7. What criteria should be used to examine the literature being reviewed?
  8. How will reviewing the literature justify the topic I plan to investigate?

Key Terms associated with a Literature Review:

  • Compare and Contrast
  • Criticize
  • Highlight
  • Show
  • Identify
  • Define
  • Question


Science in Action

Part III

From Short to Longer Networks

Latour, Bruno. Science in Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987. Print.

Passage #1: (185)

Questions about causes do not deserve an answer if the existence of the effect is not proven first. There would be no special factor to discover for why people believe irrational things, if this irrationality was simply a consequence of looking from the inside of the network to its outside – after having bracketed out all the resources necessary for this network to exist, to extend and to be maintained. There is no use in having a discipline like the sociology of knowledge, that tries to account for non-scientific beliefs, if all questions of irrationality are merely artefacts produced by the place from which they are raised.

Question #1: (211-212)

“Can we say, for instance, that scientists moving through the world are more ‘disinterested’, more ‘rational’, more concerned by the things ‘themselves’, less ‘culturally determined’, more ‘conscious’ than the people they meet along the way?”

Bringing, as they no doubt do, their networks, ideologies, and the conceptions that are a consequence thereof, with them to interactions, do the explorers not conflate the issues of whom is rational/irrational as outlined by Latour? For example, the case in which the Trobriand islander’s monologue brings an entirely different perspective to the situation for the jury in court, where an outsider having knowledge concerning the land tenure system changes the verdict. I don’t just mean that the worldviews are different, as is obviously the case; but the issue of differing pools of information, ways of getting at the information, ways of translating the differences between them are necessarily influenced by the translaters themselves.

Passage #2: (226-227)

The positive loop runs all the more rapidly, if the same Brahe is able to gather in the same place not only fresh observations made by him and his colleagues, but all the older books of astronomy that the printing press has made available at a low cost. His mind has not undergone a mutation; his eyes are not suddenly freed from old prejudices; he is not watching the summer sky more carefully than anyone before. But he is the first indeed to consider at a glance the summer sky, plus his observations, plus those of his collaborators, plus Copernicus’ books, plus many versions of Ptolemy’s Almagest; the first to sit at the beginning and at the end of a long network that generates what I will call immutable and combinable mobiles.

Question #2: (218)

In the case of the geographers and the Chinese fishermen, am I understanding the concept of asymmetry and symmetry properly by positing that when they first encounter one another, a situation of symmetry occurs (based on their matching unfamiliarity with one another) and on subsequent expeditions the situation between the groups is asymmetrical? Or is it asymmetrical when they first meet due to the fishermens’ greater knowledge of the land they live on, in comparison to Lapérouse and his complete lack of said knowledge?


Science in Action: Part II

Latour, Bruno. Science in Action. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987. Print.

Question # 1:
“In the diffusion model, this (a Diesel rusting on a dock in an underdeveloped nation) would be accounted for in terms of the resistance, the passivity or the ignorance of the local culture. Society or ‘social factors’ would appear only at the end of the trajectory, when something went wrong. This has been called the principle of asymmetry: there is appeal to social factors only when the true path of reason has been ‘distorted’ but not when it goes straight.” (page 136)

How can you “ignore” that which is essential throughout the construction of a machine? If it wasn’t for the society of consumers, would there be a starting point for those who are constructing the machine?

Passage # 1:

(140-141) “Understanding what facts and machines are is the same task as understanding who the people are. If you describe the controlling elements that have been gathered together you will understand the groups which are controlled. Conversely, if you observe the new groups which are tied together, you will see how machines work and why facts are hard. The only question in common is to learn which associations are stronger and which weaker. We are never confronted with science, technology and society, but with a gamut of weaker and stronger associations; thus understanding what facts and machines are is the same task as understanding who the people are.”

Question # 2:
(page 141-142) “I presented our third rule of method: Nature cannot be used to account for the settlement of controversies, because it is only after the controversies have settled that we know what side she is on. Nature thus lies behind the facts once they are made; never behind facts in the making.”

What scientists are doing is discovering facts, discovering what Nature is. Nature accounts for the settlement of controversies. Facts do not take “sides”; they either are, or they aren’t. Nature has been explained, or it hasn’t, but it is certainly there all the time, unlike the artificial groups Latour describes. Do you agree with the above brief passage, or do you have an alternate explanation? The same is said of society, do you agree with these assessments that put nature and society into a definition-like box, where you can’t use the concept to account for the concept, much as you can’t use a word in its own definition?

Passage # 2:

(page 157) “The young kids’ interests, those of West, of De Castro and of the Data General Board of Directors were all aligned, at least for a few months. This alignment is precisely what is lacking in the two other examples. The Church, the universities, the gentry, the state, the public, the amateurs, the fellow geologists, all have mixed feelings about letting Lyell develop an independent geology; when Lyell talks about his interests, no one else at first feels that he means ‘their interests’ as well. Difficult negotiations are still going on to keep all these contradictory wills in line. In Joao’s case, it is clear that the interests are all at loggerheads. When he talks about his goals, no one else in the whole world thinks they are theirs as well: neither the military, nor industry, nor his colleagues. The relation between Joao and the others is so unambiguous that no community of interest is possible.”