Links Before Lunch….

February 11, 2014, 11:09 am

sausage party

For reasons I do not entirely understand, this image has been circulating on Facebook.

…Otherwise known as random bullets of cr^p. So without further ado:

  • There is a new post up at my book blog about collaborating with living subjects: “Truth or Consequences? The Problem of Authority.”
  • At Profhacker, Ryan Cordell does a good job of summarizing how old habits and workplace challenges get in the way of our writing. He offers new some practical advice to help people change. I particularly like the glimpse at how a technique that is successful in graduate school — Cordell calls it “binge writing” — can confound people once they are teaching full-time.
  • Michelle Goldberg speaks the unspeakable at The Nation. In “Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars,” she neatly makes a connection between second wave “trashing” and contemporary practices that we might call “fuck you!”/”No, fuck you“ feminism, which mostly feature telling white women, as a collective, that they are hopeless racists. As Goldberg argues, there are real and justifiable resentments playing out. There is also a lot of highly emotional, narcissistic b.s. out there that views any opposition to sweeping, highly charged rhetoric as silencing, oppression and (my favorite!) “tone policing.” The idea of tone policing, like many things on the web, has a longer and usually forgotten history in debates about web speech originating in the 1980s: see Finn Brunton’s Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT Press, 2013). Currently, however, there is strong resistance to the idea that how an individual says something has any relationship to the substance or accuracy of what has been said. I would extend Goldberg’s article in two ways. One is that this new form of trashing is a phenomenon that exceeds feminism and women. Second, there seems to be an emerging category of Internet celebrity: academics who tweet and blog obsessively about the pain they are in and the terrible things people do to them. Why does their audience assume all these people are telling the truth about the daily, sometimes hourly, horrors they are experiencing (there is at least one who I am beginning to suspect is not being entirely truthful)? Because — racism? Because no one has ever lied convincingly about real problems in order to get attention?
  • Now that we are talking about the Interwebz: how many ways do I have to say it? Do not write about your students on Facebook. Here is another way to think about it: When you are tempted to Tweet or write about your students on Facebook – don’t. Do something else — have a cookie, take a walk, cuddle the cat, read a book. But do not publish the contempt you have for your students. Why? Because it reflects badly on you, not them. It may be your constitutional right to “vent” about things that offend your sensibilities, but I have never seen any evidence that people become better teachers and happier people because they have yerked up a lot of toxic feelings online. Research suggests venting can make you feel worse, and lead to deepened depression and anxiety. It is also an explicit violation of FERPA, even if you have not named the student. Your students do not belong to you, as any IRB would tell you; their written work and emails do not belong to you either. There is nothing safe about Facebook, and few people seem to really understand what settings publish a post beyond one’s circle of friends. Few people also seem to understand the concept of “screen shot emailed to someone who would otherwise be blocked from your page.”
  • It’s also a really bad idea to diss your colleagues on Faceboook.  Just the other day I saw that someone, somewhere, snarked on a blind reviewer — who somehow, in the normal course of Facebook things, saw this contemptuous post pop up with a quote from the review. “Blind review” means you can’t know whether the person who wrote it is in one of your Facebook networks. Doh.
  • But even if you are as careful as careful can be, and the object of your contempt does not see your post, many other people do see it and reflect on what it reveals about you. Madwoman with A Laptop comes steaming to the rescue with a wonderful post about online (un)professionalism. Sage advice contained therein? Don’t be  butthead!
  • Yes, the above bullet points are all examples of why I think what people call “tone policing” is part of what it means to set appropriate social boundaries. I can own that.
  • So use Facebook for good and not evil!! Read Mathew Pratt Guterl’s essay in Inside Higher Education on #TheGraftonLine, a Facebook writing group.
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