Monthly Archives: April 2012

Dr. Jason Swarts

Over the course of the next few months the CRDM blog will periodically feature a Q + A with one of our outstanding faculty members. We take classes with them and work with them on scholarly projects, but now we’d like to learn more about what else they’re doing. We’ve talked with David RiederJessica JamesonChris AnsonMatt MayDavid BerubeSusan KatzMaria PramaggioreSusan Miller-CochranRobert SchragCarolyn R. MillerBrad MehlenbacherR. Michael YoungAdriana de Souza e SilvaElizabeth CraigAndrew Binder, and Victoria Gallagher, and we recently caught up with Dr. Jason Swarts, Associate Professor of English and Director of CRDM:

What are you reading?

The responsible answer is that most of my reading is work related, meaning that when I am not reading for class, I am trying to keep up with publications in my field. This means I’m looking at content published in Technical Communication Quarterly, Technical Communication, and the Journal of Business and Technical Communication (among others). But I also need to unwind with lighter reading and I usually keep a couple of books going. Right now, I’m reading Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale and Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food. I recently finished Mishka Shubaly’s The Long Run and Rudy Rucker’s Software. I also read a lot of food blogs, mostly because I like looking at pictures of food and because I enjoy cooking. A couple of my favorites are: (never home)maker and Iowa Girl Eats.

What classes are you teaching?

I am currently teaching CRD 703, Communication in Networked Society, and having a terrific time with it. The readings are good and the discussion is always lively and engaging. The class that I am most looking forward to teaching is ENG 515, Rhetoric of Science and Technology, which I will be offering in Fall 2012. In that course, I aim to indulge my interest in the philosophy of technology. I also regularly offer ENG 519, Online Information Design and Evaluation (a course in information architecture), and ENG 506, Analysis of Verbal Data.

What are you writing about?

I have a couple of ongoing research projects, but the two that I am most engaged with at the moment are a study of online help forums and a study of the mobile mediation of information across a variety of professional settings. In the help forum study, I am trying to understand why people go to these sites for assistance and (willfully) overlook printed documentation that might be available. What I’m arguing is that our concept of “help” is changing. It is moving away from static representations of “tasks” (which assume that user problems derive from what is unknown but knowable) toward dynamic performances (which assume that user problems derive from what is uncertain and unknowable). Help forums are places where people enact help rather than simply receive it. The study of mobile mediation is just getting underway, but I am looking at how professionals in a variety of fields utilize mobile devices to capture, reconfigure, and share information across networks to facilitate distributed and federated work practices.

What are you listening to?

I love music and often have some playing when I’m not trying to concentrate on work. My interests vary but the genres that I find myself coming back to, again and again, are punk from the 70’s and 80’s (think: Iggy and the Stooges, Stiff Little Fingers, Nomeansno, The Misfits, and other bands with names too offensive to list here), noise rock, trip hop, and electronica. Lately, I have been listening to LCD Soundsystem (especially Sound of Silver and This is Happening), Gauntlet Hair (Gauntlet Hair), Vivian Girls (Vivian Girls), and Dead Weather (Sea of Cowards). When the mood strikes me, I secretly enjoy listening to The Dead Milkmen, King Missile, and Tom Lehrer.

What are you watching?

I don’t always have a lot of time left over in the day for watching television. But if I were to tell you what I watch the most of, in terms of actual minutes in front of the television, the answer would probably be The Backyardigans, Fresh Beat Band, and Dora the Explorer. I’m not indulging some weird interests … it’s just that having a 5 year-old and a 2 year-old daughter will do that to your television habits. When I watch television for myself, it’s usually things like Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Psych, and the NBA (Go Bulls!).

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Jason Kalin, PhD

note: this post is written by Blogger Emeritus Matt.

The black and white filter in Instagram highlights Jason's study of the "monumentality of the mundane" in our everyday photosharing practices. Also, I hate Instagram.

As was predicted on this very blog 13 short months ago, Jason Kalin has passed his dissertation defense in grand style, making him the newest CRDM PhD in the world (sorry Adam, your reign has ended). Jason’s committee was made up of Victoria Gallagher (chair), Carolyn R. Miller, Hans Kellner, and David Rieder.

Jason’s dissertation, “Reanimating Memory: The Prospects of Rhetoric in a Digital Age,” argued for repositioning the centrality of memory in the rhetorical canon. Exploring digital ambient memory and aided by a smart analysis of Microsoft Photosynth, Jason examined photographs like these (which he called hauntography), and social media’s impact on what he calls the psychosis of digital imaging.

In celebration of his hard-earned status as a PhD, Jason tricked Matt Morain into using Instagram at the bowling alley and again at the dartboard.

Dr. J Bowling

Dr. J, staying on target.

(It should be noted, and strenuously repeated, that Matt hates Instagram.)

Congrats, Dr. J!

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Dr. R. Michael Young

Over the course of the next few months the CRDM blog will periodically feature a Q + A with one of our outstanding faculty members. We take classes with them and work with them on scholarly projects, but now we’d like to learn more about what else they’re doing. We’ve talked with David RiederJessica JamesonChris AnsonMatt MayDavid BerubeSusan KatzMaria PramaggioreSusan Miller-CochranRobert SchragCarolyn R. MillerBrad MehlenbacherJason SwartsAdriana de Souza e SilvaElizabeth CraigAndrew Binder, and Victoria Gallagher, and we recently caught up with CRDM affiliated faculty member Dr. R. Michael Young, Associate Professor of Computer Science:

What are you reading?

I’m listening to the audiobook of Stephen King’s new novel 11/22/63. I’m in the middle of Inderjeet Mani’s The Imagined Moment (hardcover). I’ve been checking out Ax Cop lately.

What classes are you teaching?

 This semester I’m teaching CSC482: Advanced Game Development Projects, which is always an adventure. I’m excited to teach two cool courses in the Fall. One is CSC281, Foundations of Interactive Game Design. The other is a seminar course I’m teaching at Duke’s program on Film and Visual Studies called The Pragmatics of Computational Cinematography.

What are you writing about?

While I’ve got a number of ongoing projects on various elements of interactive narrative and games, I’m working hard to find time to start writing about automatic cinematography, especially from the perspective of a pragmatics/Gricean approach that leverages the kind of work already done in computational linguistics around natural language discourse generation.

What are you listening to?

This Week in Tech, Mac Break Weekly, You Look Nice Today, WNYC’s Radiolab, The Incomparable Podcast, KQED’s Forum.

Last three songs played on Spotify: The Way We Were, Barbra Streisand; Peace of Mind, Boston; Amish Paradise, “Weird Al” Yankovic.

What are you watching?

 Game of Thrones, House of Lies, The Killing, Adventure Time, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones.

But does he like Game of Thrones? I guess we’ll never know.

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Adam Gutschmidt, PhD!

Congratulations to Dr. Adam Gutschmidt who successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, titled “A Case Study Investigating the Use of Facebook as a Learning Management System in Higher Education.”

The dissertation committee was made up of Dr. Deanna Dannels (chair), Dr. Chris AnsonDr. Susan Miller-CochranDr. Jason Swarts.

Nice work, Adam!

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Dr. Brad Mehlenbacher

Over the course of the next few months the CRDM blog will periodically feature a Q + A with one of our outstanding faculty members. We take classes with them and work with them on scholarly projects, but now we’d like to learn more about what else they’re doing. We’ve talked with David RiederJessica JamesonChris AnsonMatt MayDavid BerubeSusan KatzMaria PramaggioreSusan Miller-CochranRobert SchragCarolyn R. MillerR. Michael YoungJason SwartsAdriana de Souza e SilvaElizabeth CraigAndrew Binder, and Victoria Gallagher, and we recently caught up with CRDM affiliated faculty member Dr. Brad Mehlenbacher, Associate Professor, Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education, College of Education:

What are you reading?

Putnam Turkle

Bowling Alone Together

It always feels slightly overwhelming to me to be asked about my favorite books. In what context, for what purpose, to what end, at what point in my life? When I was nineteen, my favorite books were anything by Pynchon and Vonnegut. Books I find myself returning to regularly these days include Bereiter’s (2002) “Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age,” Lewis, Amini, and Lannon’s (2000) “A General Theory of Love,” and Jonessen’s (2001) “Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology.” Something interesting is going on between my reading of Putnam’s (2000) “Bowling Alone” and Turkle’s (2011) “Alone Together.” I collect other reading materials at http://www4.ncsu.edu/~brad_m/cites.html.

What classes are you teaching?

This semester I’m teaching two online courses, EAC 581: Advanced Instructional Design, and EAC 586: Techniques and Methods for Training and Development. In the future, I’m excited about teaching separate courses on communication, technology, and game design for educational contexts.

What are you writing about?

Who, me? Distracted?

Currently writing about the use of social media for engineering communication. As well, I am working on a manuscript about the relationship between modern technologies, learning, and attention/distraction. A side (research) project of mine involves reading books such as Greer’s (2011) “The Wealth of Nature” and contrasting distressing projections of America’s future in relation to energy depletion and global economic collapse against Higher Education’s visions of technical determinism and idealistic innovation. Mostly I toggle between five or six books and write down citations that either excite me or that frustrate me, for later use.

What are you listening to?

Nouvelle Vague

Several years ago I decided that one indication of getting old is that one settles on several key musicians and listens only to them. At the time, my list had reduced itself to Springsteen, U2, Sting, and R.E.M. These days I listen to anything anyone recommends I listen to, including Indie Rock (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, Metric), Songwriter (Bright Eyes, The Magnetic Fields, The Tragically Hip), Brit-Pop (Oasis, Coldplay, Death Cab For Cutie), Americana (Steve Earle, Cowboy Junkies, Kathleen Edwards), New Wave (Elvis Costello, David Bowie, The Pretenders), and Contemporary artists (Lana Del Ray, Kimbra, La Roux). Recent favorites include by Mumford & Sons, Linnzi Zaorski, and Nouvelle Vague. Suggest an album: tonight I listened to the soundtrack of “The Hunger Games.”

What are you watching?

Dr. Who, The Walking Dead, Sherlock, Fringe, Pulling, Battlestar Galactica, Jekyll, Stargate Universe, Archer. I have watched DVD series with my daughters since they were little: our first 140-hour series together was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Dr. Carolyn R. Miller

Over the course of the next few months the CRDM blog will periodically feature a Q + A with one of our outstanding faculty members. We take classes with them and work with them on scholarly projects, but now we’d like to learn more about what else they’re doing. We’ve talked with David RiederJessica JamesonChris AnsonMatt MayDavid BerubeSusan KatzMaria PramaggioreSusan Miller-CochranRobert SchragBrad MehlenbacherR. Michael YoungJason SwartsAdriana de Souza e SilvaElizabeth CraigAndrew Binder, and Victoria Gallagher, and we recently caught up with Dr. Carolyn R. Miller, SAS Institute Distinguished Professor in the English Department:

What are you reading?

This year, it seems that all I read are dissertation chapters; I’m also directing and assisting with quite a few master’s projects this spring, so I’m spending a fair amount of time reading drafts of those, as well. I try to keep up with various journals (at least the tables of contents!), such as QJSP&RRSQ, and a few others. I still read a paper newspaper every morning (the N&O) and try to catch up with top news and opinion (Paul Krugman is a favorite) in the online NY Times in the evening. In my spare moments, I read the New Yorker (for ex, a harrowing article about the orphans of Argentina’s “dirty war”) andThe New Republic. I find it hard to keep a book going during the semester, but over winter break I read Steven Greenblatt’s The Swerve (about the 16th-c rediscovery of the prescient existentialist Roman author Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura). I’m eager to get to The Golden Mean by Canadian Annabel Lyon (a novel about the relationship between the young Alexander the Great and his teacher, Aristotle) and Garry Wills’s Rome and Rhetoric. When I travel, I love to read books about the places I’m visiting, such as, last summer, Donna Leon’s mysteries set in Venice.

What classes are you teaching?
This spring I’m teaching a special topics course on Emerging Genres, where we’re exploring how genres can be both stabilizing and dynamic and how various theorists have thought about the relationship between genre, medium, and mode. Next fall I’ll teach CRD 702 again and I’m currently thinking about what books to order and what adjustments to make since I last taught it 2 years ago. I’ve also recently taught Rhetorical Criticism and Rhetoric of Science and Technology.

What are you writing about?

The origin of genres?

I’m trying to write about emerging genres, both by looking at the process of emergence that’s going on all around us (student work helps me a lot with this!) and by looking at historical examples. In particular, I’m interested in how genres emerge into the consciousness of those for whom they are genres (if genres are social agreements, how do we reach those agreements?). One goal is to understand the appeal of  the model of biological evolution, which was applied to genres not long after Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859.

What are you listening to?

I’m not good at parallel processing, so I don’t listen while I’m reading or writing. And I gave up on pop music long ago, so I mostly listen to classical and jazz and some “world” including African, Latin, and Brazilian. Would the NC Symphony count as a “favorite band”? Anyway, they gave a compelling performance of Brahms’ First Symphony last Friday. At home I prefer chamber music and small jazz groups and soloists like Brad Mehldau, Chick Corea and Gary Burton, and local artists Steve Hobbs and Elmer Gibson. I recently stumbled on a group called Montana Skies, guitar and cello, jazz fusion. I’m an NPR junkie in the car and in the kitchen. Podcasts when I don’t catch the shows live: On the MediaThis American LifeThe Writer’s Almanac.

What are you watching?

Birds, in my backyard. We don’t have TV to speak of (digital rabbit ears, while we wait for fiber optic to come down our street). Thus, I remain blissfully oblivious to a lot of contemporary culture. Over winter break while visiting my brother, I watched all 7 of last year’s Downton Abbey episodes in 3 days, and I’m eager to catch up with the current season (maybe next December?). My Netflix queue includes recent films like The Social Networkand classics like Butterfield 8. I belong to the Raleigh film club Cinema, Inc., which shows both recent and classic films at the Rialto once a month; one recent film was Hitchcock’s 1936 Sabotage, one of his darkest.

 
 
 
 


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CRDM at the NCSU Graduate Research Symposium

Again this year, CRDM students made a strong showing at the 7th annual NCSU Graduate Research Symposium. Giving poster presentations this year were:

Jeff Swift, “Digital Demagoguery and the Virtue of Bias.” Jeff’s project examined demagoguery on online political websites.

Valeska Redmond, “The Influence of Power in Upward Employee Dissent.” Valeska’s research looked at how employees dissent in the workplace and developing a model for studying it.

Elizabeth Johnson-Young, “Media Use, Body (Dis)Satisfaction and Behavioral Intentions: Toward a Model of Media Effects and Health during Pregnancy.” Elizabeth examined the relationships between media use, (dis)satisfaction of their bodies, and health behaviors of pregnant women.

Ashley R. Kelly and Meagan Kittle Autry, “Temporal Trends in Digitally-Mediated Environmental Debate: An Analysis Across Media to Assess Social Media Use in Local Environmental Debate.” Ashley and Meagan’s research examined public response on Twitter.com to the proposed Duke Energy and Progress Energy merger. Their poster was awarded third place honors in the Humanities and Design division.

Meagan (l) and Ashley (r) with their winning poster. Photo courtesy of NCSU.

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