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Links to my published articles online
List of Publications with Full Citations

Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up". Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre

Bridging the Gap: A Genre Analysis of Weblogs. Winner of the 2004 EduBlog Awards as best paper.

Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs

Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs

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The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

Buxom Girls and Boys in Baseball Hats: Adolescent Avatars in Graphical Chat Spaces

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Last Updated November 22, 2005.

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New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

June 15, 2004

Sitting Downtown and Watching the World Whirl By

I spent some time yesterday sitting in front of the mall downtown watching the rhythms of my Southern Indiana county seat Columbus. It was a beautiful blue sky summer day. One of those sky's where a few cotton ball clouds waft through your view just to remind you that thunderstorms will be banging later in the day, much like the ones that are popping up outside my study as I write this blog entry.

Columbus is an odd mix for Southern Indiana towns, with it city center of old brick buildings and federalist facades juxtapositioned with award winning modern architecture. A city that prides itself in having transcended its farming roots to become a manufacturing center. A city that is proud of the huge modern church steeples that pierce the sky line. Locals refer too many of these structures as "lunching pads" for the people who gather there to listen to their charismatic leaders whatever their flavor of Christianity may be. A city with old and new money, and lots of it.

The contracts are often stark as it was yesterday. A well dressed black man - medium blue shirt, patterned necktie, dark pants with sharp cresses, and shiny shoes - wondered down the main steps of city hall. He waited politely for the lights to change, only occasionally shifting the professional-looking portfolio under his right arm. After crossing the street he wondered purposefully up Washington Street heading for…I don't know where…possibly any of a number of law offices, or banks, or taking the scenic route and enjoying a beautiful day as he walked back to the Cummins Corporate Office Building. Where ever he was headed he represents the "New Columbus" to me; young, affluent, well-educated, non-local, here for now and gone as soon as their fortunes can be better served elsewhere. I wish him well in his pursuits and I hope he enjoyed his walk.

For me the real Columbus is always here, a smaller bifurcated group - well-healed and not so well-healed - to be sure, but still here. The real Columbus is built on the people whose families have been here for more then a century, the hard working men and women who work the land. You see fewer of them in town now then you did when I was a child. Then people ventured to downtown to buy kids clothes at J. C. Penny, pickup a wedding gift at The Whitehouse, or file forms at the county courthouse. Now most of the shopping is out on the edge of town, money trading hands in stores that have only existed here for 15 years or less.

You still do see the farming community downtown at the courthouse or the county building where we pay taxes, or file land titles, etc. Yesterday there were a couple of pickup trucks outside the courthouse that may belong to farmers; pickups with diesel engines, trailer hitches, red dirt on the wheels, and farm plates. Not the kind of trucks you see office and factory workers drive so they can haul their bass boats or carry jumbo bags of dog food home from Walmart. These trucks are the tough work horses that can be used to tow a planter to the next field, carry enough hay to feed the herd in the back pasture, and can pull their fancier cousins out of snow drifts when they escape from their more refined usually clear tracks - vehicles as tough and weathered as their owners.

It's interesting as I reread this post that I have ended up discussing the external trappings of lifestyles, neckties vs. dirt on the tires of a truck. Of course the differences between the two run much deeper and I won't begin to try to distill them into 200 words or less for a blog entry…even a rambling one. Both groups belong, both have places, and without the other the opposite group would not be the same.

Where do I fit into this schema, where I usually fit in-between the two. I am a farm kid who has spent hours playing in pastures, felt the distinctive squish of chicken manure between my bare footed summer toes as I gathered the eggs, and arisen early to pick green beans from the kitchen garden so that canning could be done before the heat of the day. Now I am an educated women who has spent large sections of her adult life inside modern buildings greasing the wheels of manufacturing and now academe; a women who can instantly assemble the female equivalent to the dress of the man on Washington Street from the clothes hanging in her closet, but far prefers to wear jean shorts and t-shirts while she ride around the farm in a truck with dirt on the tires.

And so I sat and watched and heard the hum of Columbus as it spun around me I was struck by the dichotomies and juxtapositions, not really longing for the old world but missing some of it's trappings while being happily mired in my modern role. I may never align all of it and I'm sure that changing focal point will stay with me.

Posted by prolurkr at June 15, 2004 03:28 PM

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