So Get This

A few months ago, one of my prof asked us to write about our research workflow: how do we find information? how do we store it? what hardware/software/devices do we use to make the magic happen?

If you’d asked me then, I think I’d have told you that I was good with my process, my tools, and that nothing I learned in class was gonna change that. Because I was, you know, good.

Dude. Dude. How wrong I was.

So here, some three months later, are some of the tools that we were introduced to in that class, tools that I use pretty much every damn day as part of my ongoing (never-ending) research process:

  • All My Tweets: This site will pull all of a user’s tweets for you, in reverse chronological order, including (or excluding, your choice) re-tweets and replies. Having the text for all of a user’s tweets on one page makes it easy to search for a keyword. The site also provides a link to each tweet, so you don’t have to scroll through a user’s Twitter feed to find the one you’re looking for.
  • Awesome Screenshot: Just what it sounds like. It’ll capture an entire page, a selection, or just the visible part of a screen, and then let you edit the results; you can crop an image, add arrows, etc. Super easy to use, though it can be a little moody in Chrome. For me, it seems to work better in Firefox.
  • Zotero: If you’re in grad school, or doing any kind of freelance research, check this program out ASAP. Zotero will free you from worrying about the whims of MLA or APA or freaking Chicago-style citations: it’ll make ’em for you. And it can help you organize PDFs like a mofo. I’m looking forward to field testing this bad boy as I prepare for my comps in the fall.
  • Freedom: This is the program that’s saved my productivity. I’m almost embarassed that I need it, but hell, so glad that I found it. What it does is this: it prevents your computer from connecting to the internet for a time period of your choosing, from 15 minutes and up. I have zero willpower when it comes to the internet, so I use this baby to force me to work offline [to write!] in 25 minute increments. It’s helped me stay on task with both my fic and my schoolwork this term and it is just. awesome.
  • Savetu.be: Brilliant for downloading web videos and saving them in a variety of formats. Like Awesome Screenshot, it can be a little twitchy in Chrome when you’re trying to save a YouTube video because of the relationship between Google and YouTube. But it’s no big deal.  Again, I work around this by flipping to Firefox.
  • Twitter: Although I used this as a human, I was dubious about using it as an academic. My Digital Self class forced me (with love!) to give it a shot and it’s turned out to be a generator for both my research and my writing. It’s a space where my interests in rhetoric, porn, and fandom have productively combined.

Sure to Bite Me in Mine

One of the great things about posting your writing online is that people will read it.

This is, of course, also a pain in the ass.

When people say nice things about my work–about my ability to write–then the digital broadcast of the stuff is all marshmallow fluff.

Some days I live and die by the kudos, you know, over on AO3.

kudos

Like so.

But when readers don’t like what I’ve written and take the time to make that known, man. Makes me feel like a need a shower, one in which to drown my laptop and save the universe from the crap tentacles of my pen.

Ultimately though, I have a co-dependent relationship with my readers: I need you. Badly. And I hope, once and a while, you might need me, if only for 2500 words or so.

Most my readers, y’all, I’ll never meet; most of you live only, thus, in my imagination. Once my stuff goes up, gets out of my hands and onto someone else’s server, the reader has the upper hand; any status to which I might have pretended as a creator is huff poof boom.

I shouldn’t need anybody’s approval in order to value what I write.

Ok. That’s what I’m supposed to say, anyway. Total bullshit.

Continue reading “Sure to Bite Me in Mine”

Ourselves Alone: A Fanmix

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A fanmix for Sherry Turkle’s alternately depressing and infuriating book, Alone Together.

Links below are to youtube. You can also check the mix out on Spotify–minus the very excellent Katamari Damarcy song.

1) Katamari Damarcy theme song
2) Turn It On Again genesis
3) Desire u2
4) Mr. Roboto styx
5) Touch It/Technologic daft punk
6) One Touch lcd soundsystem
7) Dreaming of You the coral
8) More Than A Feeling boston
9) Where Not to Look For Freedom the belle brigade
10) You Can’t Always Get What You Want rolling stones

Encomium on the Overlord

overlord 1984

Encomium on the Overlord: The Sophistic Fandom of Misha Collins
PDF download

So here it is: the freaking Misha paper I won’t shut up about. I presented this in March 2013 at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association’s national conference. And for all of my bitching, this thing was great fun-–eventually, finally–-to write and even more to deliver.

If you’ve ever been curious as to what the hell I do with Supernatural as a student of rhetoric: here’s exhibit A.

From his first appearance in the television show Supernatural, Misha Collins—and by extension Castiel, the fiercely loyal angel he portrays—has been a favorite among many fans. In the midst of the show’s uniquely intimate and occasionally contentious relationship with its fans, Collins has crafted a distinct fandom of his own: first via the performative Twitter antics of a persona called “the Overlord”—a grandiose troublemaker with his eye on world domination—and then through the creation of two distinct yet intertwined organizations: a non-profit called Random Acts, founded in 2010, and the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen [or GISHWHES], founded in 2011.

random acts header        GISHWHES   The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen

In this essay, I explore some of Collins’ engagements with his fans [his minions] through the lens of sophistic rhetoric—a form of discursive engagement both older and more playful than that of Plato or Socrates. Reading Collins’ rhetorical performances through a sophistic lens illuminates the productive potential of crafting fan engagement as a series of provocations, ones that invite Collins’ fans to, as rhetorician John Poulakos puts it, “abandon the shelter of their prudential heaven and opt for that which exists ‘by favor of human imagination and effort’” (45).

Ultimately, the sophistic fandom of Misha Collins offers his minions two ways of performing the possible, of translating the Overlord’s antithetical approach to stardom into a distinctly different way of being in the world, one that transforms kindness into an act of gleeful deviance.

To begin: a brief word about the sophists.

Continue reading “Encomium on the Overlord”

Welcome to Zur-En-Arrh

There’s something about the idea of performativity, about the capacity to reenact different versions of one’s self depending upon the demands (and opportunities) presented by a given situation, that freaks people out sometimes, because–

–they’ll say.

That is, I think many people believe that they possess a “true” self, an inner rock of being that is distinctly, unequivocally their own.

But to me, the notion of a One True Anything–much less a One True Self–is frankly terrifying.

Maybe it’s the Gorgias lover in me [yes], or the postmodernist [yup], or the wanderlust, but for me, everything is situational.

It’s like Zora Neale Hurston says in her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road: “Nothing that God ever made is the same thing to more than one person.  That is natural.  There is no single face in nature, because every eye that looks upon it, see it from its own angle” (45).

The cynical version of this would be it’s all relative, but that’s not quite what I mean.

I’d say: it’s all kairotic.

Toss these questions online, these musings over identity and performance, and whoa.

Who am I online? Given that there are different versions of me running around on tumblr, on twitter, on AO3, here on this blog: what control do I have over the answer to that question?

Continue reading “Welcome to Zur-En-Arrh”

Search Return

So you know (my ex says) they have this new search function on Facebook.

Yeah, I say sage to the phone.

So! he says. I wonder. Will people start living their lives so that they match the search norms on Facebook? Like, would you go to the beach just so that you can write a post about it and then show up in the search results for “beach trip”? Would you tailor your life so that you appeared at the top of certain searches, so that you were the most visible person planning a BBQ or choosing a preschool or going skiing or whatever?

Wow, I say. There’s a short story there. Or even a novel. Huh. I may have to quote you on that. But if I do, I’ll give you credit.

Ok, he says, uncertain. How would you cite me? As your ex?

There’s a pause, filled for me by the little cat gnawing on my knee.

Actually, he says, yeah. That’d be good. ‘Wisdom from my ex.’

It’s a very cool idea, I say. You should write a poem about it.

Eh, he says, breezy. Maybe. We’ll see.

The Genre of Suck

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I’m struggling to revise an academic essay right now, a fanwank-y piece about the American TV show Supernatural [what else?]. However, unlike my usual SPN stuff, this essay centers not on feminist readings of fan practice but on the narrative tic-tock of the show itself.

That is, I’m struggling to say something useful (gods please) or even interesting about the canon side of things; specifically, about the angel Castiel’s shenanigans in season six and brief foray into godhood–via a postmodern critical lens, no less.

Sigh. And it sounded so cool as an abstract.

But man! do I suck at it, this kind of writing. Continue reading “The Genre of Suck”