Tag Archives: Standage

Making Time for “Coffee”

I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with Chrome Nanny. For those of you unfamiliar with this horrible brilliant device, it is an extension for chrome that you can program to limit your browsing of certain sites. During the semester, I have it set to only allow me to check Facebook, Reddit, and other similar sites for one or two minutes an hour. When I use up my allotted time, it provides me with this gentle reminder:

Oh so gentle.
Oh so gentle.

When Chrome Nanny reprimands me, I am reminded of the frivolous nature of these sites. Why would I be posting pictures of my dog on Facebook when the article I’m working on remains depressingly unfinished?

Because of that face, obviously. 

The internal dilemma I feel between social media and productivity is nothing new. As Tom Standage notes in Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 years, people felt the same ambivalence towards coffee shops in the seventeenth century. When discussing the initial reception of these caffeine driven hangouts, Standage explains how “[n]ot everyone welcomed the freedom of speech afforded by the new social forum, and some people worried that its compelling, information-rich environment, which provided an endless and addictive stream of trivia, gossip, and falsehood, was distracting people from more productive pursuits” (104).

Get back to work, Theobold!
Get back to work, Theobold!

Over three hundred years later, the feeling that we are wasting our time by engaging in “non-productive” conversations is one that continues to plague us. Indeed, the nagging feeling of squandering valuable time becomes the topic of conversation in an episode of Seinfeld from the mid-1990s.

But really, can’t we have coffee—or facebook conversations—with friends? Is social media merely a distraction? Obviously there are aspects to social media that are unarguably beneficial. As Tom Standage notes, social media has the ability to spread news, spark revolutions, and create a global community. But what about the rest? What about the status updates of mundane daily activities and excessive pictures of food?

Inquiring minds need to know.
Inquiring minds need to know.

Despite the fact that we all may feel compelled to block or unfollow people who are constantly bombarding us with details of their lives, I nonetheless think that the type of connections this level of sharing provides is valuable, and not simply a distraction. Rather, I think social media allows us to talk about the inane details of our lives—to “have coffee”—with our friends and family regardless of the physical distances that separate us. And as Jerry, George, and Elaine remind us, having coffee with your friends may not be such a waste of time after all.

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Class, Fri, 2/21

Working with A Better Pencil

Getting Started

  • Please locate two passages in Baron’s text—one that you find especially insightful or eloquent, and another where he seedb_wild_hairms to you to be straining to make a point or articulate an idea. Be ready to take us to these passages at opportune moments in our conversation.
  • Reread the comments on your x1 post. Identify a moment in one that raises an issue that you’d like us to discuss.

tom-standage

x2: Responding to Standage

 

 

Using audio

Going meta

#685dw

Blog Posts

  • Identify a brief prose passage from one of the x1 posts that you admire.
  • Identify a use of another medium in one of the posts that you feel adds strongly  to its argument. See if you can name this use.

Digital Essay

Tsakiri-Scanatovits, Marie-Margaux . 2010. My Mother’s Coat.

Mother's Coat

To do

  1. Tues, 2/25, 4:00 pm: Read Standage. Post x2 to this site.
  2. Thurs, 2/27, 4:00 pm: Read x2s. Post comments.
  3. Thurs, 2/27, 4:00 pm: Tweet to #685dw.
  4. Tues,, 3/04, 4:00 pm: Read Davidson. Post x3 to this site.

x2: Responding to Standage (audio)

I’m really impressed by your responses to Baron’s A Better Pencil.

Your task for next week is to offer a similarly lively and thoughtful response to Tom Standage’s  Writing on the Wall—with one small technical requirement added, which is to make some use of audio to supplement your work as a writer. This does not need to involve extraordinary technological measures. On the contrary, I’m more interested in quality of thought than technical execution. As evidence:

Joe x2

You can quote songs or recordings that have been made by other people (with acknowledgment). Or you can make your own recordings. I only stipulate the following:

  • The bulk of your response must be in writing.
  • Your audiofiles must be planned, not spontaneous or impromptu.
  • You must intend your readers to listen to each audiofile you use in its entirety. (Don’t upload entire songs or videos.)
  • No audiofile should thus run more than one minute.

The aim of this exercise is to think about some of the ways audio can add to the impact of a written text. I will thus be more interested in the thoughtfulness and originality of your work than in its technical virtuosity. I feel sure you’ll be able to top my own predictable efforts here. Indeed, I double dog dare you to.

Use x2 as your category and, again, think of some identifying tags for your post.

Deadlines: x2 due on Tues, 2/25, 4:00 pm. Comments due by Thurs, 2/27, 4:00 pm.