x6: Fitzpatrick and Miller (and some thoughts on CCCC)

I’ll be interested to start our conversation next Friday by hearing about your impressions of our “virtual”—and admittedly diffuse—class this week. What impressions did you have of the #4c14 twitter feed? How satisfying (or not) was it to discuss Lessig through the medium of posts and comments alone?

Let me offer two quick thoughts about attending the conference while trying to keep in touch with this group. First, I both enjoyed tweeting the conference and found it distracting. It’s very different from simply taking notes, which are a far more expansive genre, both in terms of how much you can say and their expressive range. Which leads me to my second thought: I attended one session which I did not tweet, because it was a “big-name” panel  that I found very annoying when it wasn’t simply tedious. But the conference twitter feed did not seem the right forum to make such a remark (and still retain a number of people as friends). Which in turn made me think about what seem some pretty striking limits of Twitter as a space for critical conversation.

From a distance, I was struck by the tepid responses to Lessig. Upon rereading him, I think I can see and feel why. Lessig is important for his advocacy of an open culture and his critique of expanded copyright. (I think for many of us oldsters he was the person to make that argument.)  But his tone now feels off—more combative, more dichotomizing, less willing to recognize  and build from the non-RO aspects of our culture. (In that vein, I continue to find Standage’s emphasis on continuities appealing, even if he doesn’t like TV.) My hunch is, then, that for the purposes of this class, we can probably acknowledge what Lessig contributes and move on.

Which will be, to my mind, toward a much more engaging book. I am reading Fitzpatrick’s Planned Obsolescence for the first time and enjoying and admiring it immensely. So I’d like us to try to read through the whole of her book for Friday—but given that I am only halfway through it myself, I’ll understand if you need to make an “in progress” post on Tuesday. (Remember that our new deadline is 11:59 pm.)


This will be a free response, but I suspect it might prove useful and interesting if you can scan Richard Miller’s text2cloud (or some other online academic writing you admire) in relation to Fitzpatrick’s book. In any case, please  keep in my mind that we will have Richard in seminar with us on Friday, and that he will giving a public talk on Thursday afternoon (3:30, 111 Memorial). Richard is a very engaging speaker; you’ll want to hear him if you possibly can, and I will be counting on you have some questions and thoughts for him in class.

I apologize for the impromptu and rambling form of this post. It is being composed directly in the text box at a lunch table in Indianapolis. That is, of course, precisely the sort of thing I warned all of you never to do—but I felt it was urgent to connect. I look forward to seeing all of you in person next week!

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