Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mind Map: Class Meeting 4/1/14

Suzanne's Mind Map

I started this week by rearranging my mind map to make it more tenable. Like neurons that are enhanced while others are limited to "sculpt" new pathways, I too have enhanced and limited some nodes in my network. I looked at which nodes seemed to be the most connected. This turned out to be "action in a network" and "mediation". I moved these nodes off to the right hand side of the map in an attempt to re-visualize the map, perhaps see something I had not seen before. I expanded the popple to visually occupy more space and convey significance as a Latourian macroscopic node or a Castellsian mega-node. Then I started to play with the arrangement of the nodes connected to these newly-sized ones. I realized that some of the nodes seemed integrally linked to both action and mediation - doing and changing.

Distribution: Connected to mediation by way of the CHAT authors canon remapping that views distribution and mediation as forms of delivery. It connected out to my object of study, which, as a network, effected action in the underground movement by spreading ideas and building communities.

Discourse: The rhetorical situation explained that discourse can "mediate" a situation and lead to action on the part of the audience. It is connected to network if we think of rhetoric as the product of a network connecting the rhetorician, the situation, exigencies, audience, and constraints.

Hypertext: Hypertext is a tool to create discourse but has the affordance of linking out to the broader digital network. By creating links, we mediate our messages, adding layers of meaning and association otherwise not easily achieved. There is also the potential for action as Johnson-Eilola expresses through the democratic medium of hypertext, removing institutional barriers and reaching audiences who would be able to take actions to mediate the situation.

Genre: Genre is mediation in the sense that it constrains and shapes discourse by plying content into the recognizable characteristics of the form. It is also possible that genre leads to action as Miller and Bazerman contend.

 After thinking about it, I can't say I am too surprised that these are my mega-nodes. Changing, making, doing, acting - these are the issues in scholarship with which I am most concerned. Naturally, I would see these ideas as more relevant and notable than others. This remapping simply confirms those important methodological foundations.

New additions:

I plan to build off my new, streamlined map to make things more tenable. I've added nodes in green.

There are two new connections to mediation. I was struck by the idea that the neurons are shaped by limitations and enhancements - a discussion related to the building of memory (another network itself). This seems to be a kind of mediation, shaping changes, that builds the network of memory. I think sometimes I think of network growth as expansion or addition, but perhaps growth is just as dependent on where we limit or restrict it. This week's reshaping of the map, constraining it and enhancing some areas, seems an application of this principle as well.

Also connected to mediation is Castells' idea of the three stages of technology: automation, experimentation, reconfiguration. This last step is akin to mediation in that we change technology once we become fluent. This has me thinking about fluency and mediation - what other ways are these ideas linked? Academic fluency is certainly necessary before any mediation of the body of scholarship can occur. In technology, fluency is demonstrated through successful mediation, but academia seems to require other people's acknowledgment of one's fluency. Is technology more democratic in this way? More inclusive? Less obstacles? Does the validation from established experts give credence to academic fluency (once accepted) that carries more significance than reconfigurations of technology?

The last new node is off the action mega-node. This is Castells' concept that research is not discourse, but inquiry. At first, this concept takes me aback - not discourse? Not intelligent conversation and interplay between thinkers? Not carefully constructed text and speech? What have I been doing with myself these last ten years? However, after more careful thinking, I see the point. Discourse alone is not active - contradicting the Bitzer/Vatz idea that discourse motivates an audience to effect change on a situation - rather we need inquiry. Discourse is not action, but questioning can be. I wonder though if discourse cannot be also inquiring? I think it can be. Maybe a literary analysis if a poem does not lend itself to social questions to guide actions, but maybe in English studies we need to be more cognizant of how to make poetry relevant. Perhaps finding the questions is one way to do that.


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