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George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists"
You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), "Back to Methuselah" (1921), part 1, act 1
Don't let fear convince you that you're too weak to have courage. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not the proof of cowardice.
McCain, John (2004, September). In Search of Courage: Finding the Courage Within You. FastCompany, 51-56.
In the search for character and commitment, we must rid ourselves of our inherited, even cherished biases and prejudices. Character, ability and intelligence are not concentrated in one sex over the other, nor in persons with certain accents or in certain races or in persons holding degrees from some universities over others. When we indulge ourselves in such irrational prejudices, we damage ourselves most of all and ultimately assure ourselves of failure in competition with those more open and less biased.
J. Irwin Miller, Chairman of the Board (1951-1977), Cummins Inc. From 1983 letter about diversity at the company.
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April 30, 2004
April Advisory Committee Report
Another month draws to a close, which makes it time to consider what academic efforts were begun and completed in April.
April 27, 2004
Book Chapters Accepted
Late yesterday we received acceptance emails for two chapters in the upcoming online book Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs [Online], it will be available in June 2004.
Herring, S. C., Scheidt, L. A., Wright, E, and Kouper, I. (2004). Women and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs. In L. J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs [Online].
Scheidt, L. A., Wright, E. (2004). Common Visual Design Elements of Weblogs. In L. J. Gurak, S. Antonijevic, L. Johnson, C. Ratliff, & J. Reyman (Eds.), Into the Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs [Online].
April 26, 2004
LIWC, hand-coding, and lack of sleep
I've spent the better part of the last two weeks working on a paper to complete my doctoral program's capstone class, L710 Research in Library and Information Science. This paper has made me really think about methodologies in a very different way. I have never spent much time thinking through the underlying assumptions of the way I worked with my research techniques before this paper. Writing this has been frustrating, labor intensive, and has taken way more time then I ever thought it would. But I'm glad I went through the exercise, I have a feeling I will never tackle a reseach project in quite the same way again after working through this paper.
Abstract: This paper compares two different methodologies for content analysis coding, hand-coding and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC), a computer-assisted software package, to ascertain how the methods compare in accuracy of coding for similar concepts, and ease of use when coding for emotional message content features in adolescent chatroom data. Underlying the hand-coding codebook development is the question of what emotional communication adolescents' expressed pre- and post-9/11 in a primarily adolescent chatroom. Two samples of 100 utterances each were analyzed using each method and the finding compared. LIWC found more examples of emotional communication through comparing the individual words of the posts to the programs default dictionary, which allows for limited contextualization through analysis of the word immediately preceding and trailing the main word. The hand-coded methodology considered the individual utterance and allowed for greater contextualization of the posts. Both LIWC and hand-coding were useful in analyzing the data and could be used for other research projects with the recommended changes in methodology and practice.
April 25, 2004
Theatre Reunion, of sorts
It was a lovely evening yesterday; sitting in the "Black Box" Studio Theatre at Ball State University seeing people, I have not crossed trails with in 20 years. We were a small group and tightly knit back then. It was a running joke among the students that there were supposedly something like 300 listed theatre majors and minors, but we could never name more then 40 at any given time.
I did got to say hello to Scott Sandoe. I have no idea how many classes Scott and I were in together...Probably all of them. Scott is now a screenwriter in LA and has done a lot of choreography over the years. I had known both of those facts but had not known that he wrote the screenplay for What a Girl Wants. I saw the film twice on HBO while I was in San Antonio this month, really enjoyed it. I had not expected that after seeing the advertising, but as often happens the marketing had portrayed it inaccurately as a teen flick when the work has a far larger appeal. My two sentence review, see it yourself, and let me know what you think. Scott also has another movie script that is coming out on film this year, An American Girl.
Of course, many of the people I knew as an undergrad were not present because of other demands. I am not in regular contact with most of them, but that doesn't mean I don't know what they are up to - professionally at least. *flexing her fingers over the keyboard as she looks stuff up in Google*
One of the people I had hoped to see was Doug Jones. He was unable to attend the reception because he is making a movie. Doug is what I think of as a costume actor, I'm sure that is not the correct technical term but it works for me. I normally go see a movie and only find out later that he was in it because he is often obscured in heavy makeup with prostheses.
I specifically remember when Doug and I were in directing class together. For our directing performances, I tackled scenes from some of the popular comedies of the 1980's; I wasn't very good at it either. Doug, as a theatre education major as I remember, pulled scripts from the library that one might see done by very small high schools. Plays with a children's theatre bent. Plays with wonderful titles along the line of "Mike Gets a Break". Doug was good at it. He took these little plays and made them interesting and enjoyable with the actions he added. I'm sure his work as Charlie Cardinal, the University mascot, made him sensitive to the nuance of performance.
When he landed the McDonald's "Man in the Moon" commercials after we graduated, it was almost an obvious step for a tall lanky guy who had experience performing in a heavy costume head. My personal favorite performance is Billy Butcherson in the film
Hocus Pocus. I understand he won a comedy award for his performance in that movie. Oh and the picture of the toy is just to remind you of the advertising campaign, it's not a likeness of Doug.
Another person I had hoped to say hello to was Joyce O'Connor. Joyce is an actress, with whom I had many classes. You've undoubtedly seen her on television in one of the commercials she has made over the years. She was the one member of our cadre that immediately went on to do MFA work in acting, attending Southern Methodist University. As I research links for this blog post I am finding that she has done at least one Broadway play, a show called The Secret Rapture. I had heard that she and her husband ran an off-off-Broadway theatre in the 1990's, not sure if that was true or, if so, that it still is true.
Of my close friends as a student, many are still in the theatre. Ray & Kathy (Pinneker) Chambers were both close friends of mine. Ray is a resident actor with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery. He and Kathy played host for me in 1999 when I took a driving tour of LA (Lower Alabama). Kathy is a talented painter who was doing canvas work, when I saw them last, and raising their son.
Timothy (Tim) Casto, an actor and playwright, performs with PCPA Theaterfest. When we were undergrads and living on the shoestring I used to take Tim out to dinner to feed him. LOL It was my job for a while, not letting a talented actor starve to death.
Jason Weber, a costumer, is still in New York as far as I know. After undergrad, he started MFA work at University of Michigan but the program was not a good fit for him. So he moved on to NYU. During his graduate work, he interned with Jim Henson Co. making Muppets. Per Google, it looks like he is still there or at least we there in 1999. He is listed as Fabric Dyeing and Painting for The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland and Muppets From Space . He may have also worked on the televison show NewsRadio though since I don't have access to Variety online I can't be sure.
Mark (Rocky) Hart, who has no presence on the web, was my best buddy for many years. With Rocky, I toured most of the seedy coffee establishments in and around Muncie Indiana. He was (and probably still is) a coffee addict, who likes it black and hot and strong and in very large quantities. Me, I'm a whimp, I don't particularly like coffee and when I have to drink it I want it with lots of cream (preferably the real stuff) and sugar. His way is probably healthier. LOL
Rocky remembers every detail of every story he has ever heard, sounds impossible but believe me he really did remember it all. Once I ran across a couple here, who had come back from vacation in LA (Los Angeles) and been surprised that 1) their waiter had heard of Columbus Indiana, and 2) could recount in graphic detail the story of the First National Bank robbery, in Columbus, from the early 1980's - it was a story I loved to tell because of the individuals involved and the police chase that ended the incident. Apparently, he is telling it for me now. *S*
Rocky also has the most original laugh I have ever heard. It is loud, and staccato, and you can't help but laugh along when he starts going. There were several comments last night that we were waiting to hear Rocky's gattling gun laugh ringing out from some part of the theatre.
After college, I stayed in contact with Rocky the longest. Many long distance phone calls to LA and back probably for six years or so. Nevertheless, time often wears down long-distance relationships that were formerly face-to-face and keeping a long distance relationship up required skills, I'm not sure I had in my twenties. So we slowly stopped talking as our lives went down different paths. I often think of contacting him again to say hey. So maybe I will consider this post to be my letter in a bottle. As he has no web presence - thereby leading me to believe he probably doesn't use the net much - I am clearly throwing the message into a huge sea that is unlikely to carry it where I want it to go. But I'll risk the winds of the web and see what comes my way.
Here's to all of you, you knew your dreams and you followed them where they did and still do lead you. My hat is off to all of you and to everyone who knows early what they want and isn't afraid to work to get it.
April 24, 2004
On the Retirement of Gilbert Bloom Ph.D., Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts, Ball State University
Later today I will be attending the retirement reception for Gilbert Bloom Ph.D. faculty member of the Department of Theatre and Dance, College of Fine Arts, Ball State University. Which was formerly the Theatre Department of the Speech and Theatre School back in the 1980's when I was an undergradute student in the department.
The organizing committee asked students to contribute reminiscences for addition to a scrapbook to be given to him at the reception. I contributed the following letter and thought I would post it here for the illumination of the internet audience.
Congratulations on your retirement Dr. Bloom, your insight and generosity have touched many of us.
Your imminent retirement has encouraged me write a note expressing my gratitude to you for all that you taught me in Theatre History classes during my time at Ball State University. It is always amusing to look back and see the patterns of the roads that lead us to where we are in life at this moment. One very large twist in my personal path would be that had I been asked immediately upon graduation, which of my classes I was least likely to use in my post-university life sadly I would have said Theatre History. For years, that statement would have seemed to be true. Nevertheless, things change and now, had I made that statement, I would be forced to recant and say that the Theatre History series is among the most useful classes I have taken in my student academic career.
How did the reality of the impact of your teaching become apparently to me? Over time of course. After graduation from Ball State, I made the decision not to pursue a career in the theatre and went to work in the nine-to-five world. Four years later, I returned to university to earn a graduate degree in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Human Resources (HR), a field that puts one in daily contact with the dramatic but with few overt links to theatre performance. After nine years working in a variety of HR roles - four companies in three states with far too many lay-offs, terminations, and plant closings - I again returned to university to work toward a Masters in Information Science (MIS). My original plan was that with an MIS in hand I would move from management of the human capital of a company to management of the enterprise computer systems used by the hands-on HR personnel. Sometimes good original plans are replaced by far better unforeseen ones.
While in my MIS program, I began to see that the patterns of interaction I had been watching in online communication for the last 3-5 years were of interest to departmental faculty and students when I discussed my ideas in classes. I also found that my specific interest in adolescents online was an area that was under represented in the literature. So a new plan was born, I applied for and was accepted into the Doctoral Program at the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science and will present my qualifying paper later this year with hopes of defending my dissertation during calendar year 2006. I give you the last two paragraphs in answer to the ago old question among friends, "What have you been up to since I saw you last?" to illustrate how the roads of my life have come full circle.
As a doctoral student, my research has focused on Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) in particular, aspects of performativity found in adolescent peer cultures online. Now I routinely discuss ideas the germ of which lies in facts I first encountered in Theatre History classes. Such as, the comparison of the audible entrance and exist tones of chatroom moderators to the sounds of deus ex machine as the gods enter and exit the stage, or the analogies between Shakespearean actor's performances in female roles on stage to instances of cross-dressing found in online communities, which are usually enacted by young heterosexual males presenting themselves as females. One idea that is finding its way into my current research relates to the function of comments found on blog webpages as being akin to a Greek Chorus presenting back-story to the audience and often applauding or criticizing the personal performance narrative's hero (the blog author themselves) for the his or her comments and actions. These points show that the reality of the circle that links back to what you taught me in Theatre History has become apparent to me and to others around me. I often hear "You would think of that, you were a Theatre major" said teasingly by the computer science types I now work along side.
I would like to add that beyond what I learned in the classroom, attempting to meet the requirements of the classes, specifically the tests, provided me with some of the best camaraderie, and stories of such, that I have experienced in my lifetime. The fellowship of all-nighters spent studying at Big Wheel with Ray Chambers, Kathy (Pinneker) Chambers, Tim Casto, Rocky Hart, Jason Weber, and a varying supporting cast where all involved were drinking copious amounts of coffee to stay awake, often to the point of giving us startlingly intense headaches.
During those sessions, we quizzed each other on such subjects as the relevant figures from the Golden Age of Spanish Theatre or from the Elizabethan Period ultimately trying to cram as many facts into our brains as possible in the shortest amount of time. Yes, it is clear to me that this was not that best of study tactics, sadly how to study was something I would not learn until my first masters program. But those sessions created my first, dare I say best, experiences of a group pulling together to meet a shared goal and finding ways to do it amiably, and more often then not, with a fair amount of success. No doubt, more sleep would have helped all our grades but what fun would that have been.
Finally, no letter to you would be complete without recognition of your positive example of productive ways to teach a required class to undergraduate students, many of whom would rather be anywhere else but Theatre History classes. As an instructor who teaches required Speech Communication classes, I have drawn on your example when faced with trying times in the classroom and these memories help me keep my sense of humor about me when class sessions do not go as I had planned.
As I write this, I am reminded of the time in roughly 1982 when you entered the classroom to present our Theatre History III group with a scheduled exam. Silently the entire class, save me, rose and walked out of the room. You gave me a questioning look and I shrugged, nary was a word exchanged between us. In what felt like minutes, but no doubt was only seconds, one of the students returned and announced that the entire class was boycotting the test since I would be receiving answers to questions via my braces headgear, one of those lovely sets called "full headgear" that went over the top of the head and around the neck as well - not among my favorite looks to be sure. I will never forget my personal discomfort at being singled out for the joke, which was washed away by your warm peals of laughter reminding me that lighthearted humor is a good thing. You waved the students back into the classroom from SMUT (Strother Memorial Underground Theatre) and continued with the exam, even giving me a wink as you handed me test papers.
In my subsequent classes I have, of course, crossed trails with faculty whose rigidity and formalism would not have permitted them to enjoy such a moment in their classes should it have occurred. Your ability to take your students personalities in stride is admirable and is a characteristic I strive to exemplify in my own teaching.
In closing, I would like to commend you for your years of service to your students at Ball State. I would also like to personally thank you for your patience and grace in teaching students who, like I, did not grasp the impact your teaching would have on their lives and learning during their quarters/semesters of work in your classes. I am pleased that I have been able to see these disparate roads pulled full circle including sections paved with gold that were classes I took with you during my time at Ball State.
May your retirement prove enjoyable and productive in whatever you undertake.
With best wishes and sincerest thanks.
April 09, 2004
Friday, April 9 in San Antonio
I spent a fair amount of time at the Alamo, just because it was interesting to watch others take in the way the history of the place was presented to them. I have this running dialogue about “truth” – what is the truth and what is the packaging (mediation) that someone wants me to buy as the truth. From what I’ve read the fight over the Alamo has way more to do with illegal squatters rebelling over the sovereign nations view of them as undesirables and the goal of removing them from their illegally occupied lands – in other words it was about money and fealty. Which has very little to do with the desire for “freedom and independence” that is usually presented as the reason the Texicans fought for the Alamo. LOL What can I say there are reasons I finally became an academic, one of which is that search for truth. LOL As though I will find it somewhere.
The Fountain in Front of the Alamo
The Alamo Research Library
Love the aluminum extension ladder
- very authentic I'm sure
The only cacti I saw on the trip
|The Gardens at the Alamo|
Original water well
View of the Courthouse with flag,
from the Alamo property
|Southwest Arts and Crafts Center|
|Pictures from my River Walk that day|
Immature crane in Live Oak tree
Cool space for sale
April 06, 2004
First day in San Antonio
I write this from San Antonio TX at the SW/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Associations Conference. After a fairly uneventful trip into San Antonio it was amusing to deplane and see how many Final Four attendees were still stuck at the airport. It's been years since I have seen so many people sitting on their luggage in the alleys of an airport. Reminded me of the old US Air terminal at National Airport (now Ronald Reagan National Airport), a place I lovingly referred to as the rat warren.
I settled into the room and took a short walk along the River Walk, grabbing dinner at an open-air Mexican Restaurant, Casa Rio. Links to pictures follow:
April 03, 2004
Adolescent blog audience's presentation
I have spent most of today reading adolescent blogs looking for exemplars for my conference presentation. I feel like I have read hundreds blogs today, when the number is in the 30's at this point. I keep thinking of the wonderful title of Suzanne Bunkers & Cynthia Huff's book "Inscribing the Daily," so many of these blogs are doing just that inscribing stories of their days. Sadly taken individually or even in small groups, the stories of days are usually not captivating reading.
I have five exemplars to find, if possible, to illustrate Kristin Langellier's five types of audiences for personal narrative: As a witness testifying to the experience; as a therapist unconditionally supporting emotions; as a cultural theorist assessing the contestation of meanings, values, and identities in the performance; as a narrative analyst examining genre, truth or strategy; and as a critic appraising the display of performance knowledge and skill (Langellier, p. 210). I have located blogs to illustrate four of the five audiences, but the narrative analyst type may be one that is not commonly addressed by adolescent bloggers. The search goes on.
Once the exemplars are added to the Power Point file the presentation will be completed. I have to work on the discussion text for my notes but that doesn't go on the slides. I will post the slide show on my webpage, with a notation here, when it is completed.
Bunkers, Suzanne L. & Huff, Cynthia A. (Eds.), (1996). Inscribing the Daily: Critical Essays on Women's Diaries (pp. 23-37). Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Langellier, Kristin M. (1998). Voiceless bodies, bodiless voices: The future of personal narrative performance. In S. J. Dailey (Ed.), The Future of Performance Studies: Visions and Revisions (pp. 207-213). Annandale VA: National Communication Association.
April 02, 2004
Spring in the country
This time of year I love driving around the back country roads of Southern Indiana. But it tends to make me a bit wistful. As I drive I always find old farm sites, places that someone loved enough to plant daffodils near their home. Now the house is gone, no one lives there anymore. But the flowers remain. Lovely clumps of daffodils blooming along the roadside reminders of the people long gone and the family farmsteads of which they were a part.
April 01, 2004
The value of a complete bibliography
There is a story that roams around the IU Bloomington campus. It is passed from one doctoral student to another through whispers and furtive glances. The story, dare I say myth, refers to the Graduate School Library fire of 1969. Excerpted from Indiana University Library History 1960-1969:
On May 1, 1969, before occupation of the new library building [which opened on June 2, 1969]...[fire] broke out in the graduate library's location in Franklin Hall. A May 29, 1969 article in the Indiana Daily Student... [stated t]he May 1 fire resulted in $600,000 worth of damage, and, according to State Fire Marshall Charles Hill, was the result of arson, in which a flammable liquid was poured up and down the aisles' (Indiana Daily Student, 22 May 1969, 2).
In the whispered story the fire is rumored to have destroyed the doctoral student carrels that existed within the library. In those carrels were the students 3x5 card files that contained their carefully constructed bibliographies: citation information, notes, and quotes, possibly even copies of articles. Years, literally years, worth of work destroyed. As this was a paper process, the only way to reclaim what had been lost was to reconstruct, a process that would also take years. The myth ends with at least a couple of doctoral students killing themselves because they had lost so much work, their life's work. Archival pictures of the library reading room: Picture 1 and Picture 2.
As a southern Indiana native I have heard this story for most of my life. I vaguely remember first hearing it in the early 1970's when our local Carnegie library was demolished and a new architecturally significant library replaced it. Certain facts of the local situation paralleled the IU story - an old historic library was to be moved to a new building. And so the suspicious local German families, of which I am an offspring, feared a repeat of the situation - having once occurred in the region, the bad karma would of course migrate to another site and repeat itself. There was no local fire.
Now as a doctoral student, I can begin to understand the work that goes into amassing a complete bibliography and the dejection that would accompany the loss of the product of that work. I've thought a lot about the old IU Library Fire myth as my Reference Manager entries have neared 3000. How would I feel if suddenly, through no fault of my own, all that work was gone? I'm not the suicidal type so I doubt that would be the outcome. But it certainly would be a completely depressing experience, which of course is why I have multiple layer of backup to protect that work. Once I have version 11 installed I will be putting the entire file online for easier access and to protect my work from disasters.
We have clearly come along way from those 3x5 cards of 1969, or 1977-1983 when I used them as an undergraduate. But the work remains the same. Doctoral students still read, make notes, digest, cross-reference, and write - lots of reading and writing; all of this to build a lifetime bibliography; in the case of the electronic programs, a linear track of where you have been - at least from a citation standpoint.