03 November 2007

A Vision of Students Today

Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

UPDATE: Archive for the 'Vision of Students' Category @ Kansas State University Digital Ethnography Blog!

To give a little bit more context to the piece, it might be useful to point out that it was originally created as Part 2 of a 3 part series on Higher Ed. Part 1 has been published as Information R/evolution. That piece tracks the way information creation, critique, and distribution has changed, ending with the question “Are we ready?” and the answer: “R U Feeling Lucky?” (altering Google’s I’m feeling lucky button). Placed back to back, this would then lead directly to the door opening to the empty classroom.

Part 3 is planned to be an exploration of different teaching technologies and the ways in which they shape the learning environment for better and for worse. It will begin where this video left off, with a chalkboard (which IS a teaching *technology*, though we often overlook it as such), progressing through PowerPoint, onto the web, SecondLife, etc.

Rhetoric Beat: Cunningham Frames the Need for Anti-Frame Reporting

You have to appreciate the framing Brent Cunningham uses in CJR to argue for a "rhetoric beat". This essay screams for a fisking by an intellectually honest rhetoric professor.

The rhetoric beat would require specific training and reliance on neutral experts. Otherwise this beat could make people dumber by treating rhetoric in the same sloppy way journalism sometimes treats the sciences (and politics, and...well, you know).
Unfortunately, I'm not him and this ain't a fisking. It is, however, my view of Cunningham's framing.

Cunningham spends the first three paragraphs trying to make the case that rhetoric in the aftermath of 9/11 had future consequences only to determine in the fourth paragraph that a rhetoric beat would have made no difference!
Could such a journalistic effort have possibly changed something significant about the U.S. response?

It’s unlikely. There was something in the nature of those attacks—the magnitude, perhaps, or the audacity—that immediately made parallels to Pearl Harbor and the war that followed impossible to ignore. As Montgomery demonstrates, the press was writing the first lines of a war narrative based on little more than what we all were witnessing firsthand, and so it is difficult to argue that journalists were simply transcribing the White House’s response.

Undeterred, Cunningham uses the 5th paragraph to transition back to his questionable frame that "language—its uses and abuses—has emerged as a central issue in our political culture."

Feh. I agree that after the Democrats lost the 2004 election, "language" became a talking point for the political Left. I don't agree that language emerged as a central issue for "our political culture." You'd think Cunningham had never heard of the "permanent campaign":
... [Clinton] developed what I call the "permanent campaign," which was essentially to go around the established media, the newspapers and television, and, as you're pushing your legislative agenda, use your own public relations apparatus to sell your agenda. It's something that Clinton did from then on, to use polling constantly, not just to find out what the people were thinking about an issue but how they would respond specifically to rhetoric. Clinton loved that.
I really enjoyed this part of Cunningham's essay:
Simply put, framing involves choosing the right words to activate a desired mental "frame" or perception—"private" Social Security accounts instead of "personal" accounts, or "sectarian violence" in Iraq rather than a "civil war," or the role of "personal responsibility" when it comes to the breadth and depth of our social safety net. The right has had considerable success at framing controversial issues for years—think "liberal media," or those "founding fathers" in Nicaragua in the 1980s. Now the left has launched a counteroffensive.
Iraq's "civil war" versus "sectarian violence"? Quacking political ducks. Why "personal" instead of "private" Social Security accounts? Polls.

Why did Cunningham write, "the role of 'personal responsibility' when it comes to the breadth and depth of our social safety net" and why is "personal responsibility" in quotes but not "social safety net"?

Why not write about the role of "personal responsibility" versus the "welfare state" or "individualism," "collectivism," "laissez faire" and "socialism"? He's framing.

Want to read something more useful on the Social Security debate? Framing the Social Security Debate: Values, Politics, and Economics (1998):
Competing reform proposals reflect contrasting views about the nature of the Social Security problem and how to solve it. This book examines issues about privatization, national savings and economic growth, the political risks and realities in reforms, lessons from private pension developments in the United States, and the efforts of other advanced industrial countries to adapt their old-age pensions to an aging population. It also poses philosophical arguments about collective versus individual responsibility and the implications of market risks and political risks for stable and secure retirement income policy.
Both the Right and the Left have had considerable success at framing controversial issues in domestic and foreign policy for years with good results and bad. Cunningham frames this point as well.

One of the best examples of Cunningham using "corrupt information" to support his questionable framing is when he writes about the term “achievement gap.” Cunningham sources Crawford and writes, "... [Crawford] traces the insinuation of 'achievement gap' into the national discourse on education to the late 1990s...."

How convenient, but wrong.

The "achievement gap" has been in our national discourse for many years and can easily be traced to the early 1990s. The "achievement gap" enters our national discourse with every release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Report (The Nation's Report Card). The "achievement gap" has been referred to regularly over the decades by supporters of "equal opportunity," "outcome-based," "performance-based," or "standards-based" education depending on your rhetorical preference. The "achievement gap" was hardly the insinuation of then-Govenor/now-President Bush.

Personally, I view Cunningham's essay as a good demonstration of why the "mainstream press" (his term, not mine) should not have a rhetoric beat.

UPDATE: Also note that there isn't a single link in Cunningham's online essay. NOT ONE! When will CJR realize that not linking online is a rhetorical choice.

UPDATE: More on the Rhetoric Beat
Reporters, who should be ever mindful that no terms are politically neutral, can cover a rhetoric beat if they cover the right thing: the structure of argument, not vocabulary.
1999: President Ties Program’s Future to Stocks
2002: Democrats’ Ad Has Bush Mistreating Elderly
2004: Kerry Falsely Claims Bush Plans To Cut Social Security Benefits
2005: Washington Post > POLITICS > Social Security
2006: Social Security Enters Elections
2008: Obama’s Social Security Whopper

Straight Talk on Social Security

02 November 2007


via Rhetorica

The Invisible Primary—Invisible No Longer: A First Look at Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Campaign

In all, 63% of the campaign stories focused on political and tactical aspects of the campaign. That is nearly four times the number of stories about the personal backgrounds of the candidates (17%) or the candidates’ ideas and policy proposals (15%). And just 1% of stories examined the candidates’ records or past public performance, the study found.

The press’ focus on fundraising, tactics and polling is even more evident if one looks at how stories were framed rather than the topic of the story. Just 12% of stories examined were presented in a way that explained how citizens might be affected by the election, while nearly nine-out-of-ten stories (86%) focused on matters that largely impacted only the parties and the candidates. Those numbers, incidentally, match almost exactly the campaign-centric orientation of coverage found on the eve of the primaries eight years ago.

All of these findings seem to be at sharp variance with what the public says it wants from campaign reporting. A new poll by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted for this report finds that about eight-in-ten of Americans say they want more coverage of the candidates’ stances on issues, and majorities want more on the record and personal background, and backing of the candidates, more about lesser-known candidates and more about debates.[1]

Even Harvard Finds The Media Biased
The study also discovered that newspaper stories "tended to be focused more on political matters and less on issues and ideas than the media overall. In all, 71% of newspaper stories concentrated on the 'game,' compared with 63% overall."
Party Tone by Media

All Media34.8%26.2%


All Media38.7%39.1%


All Media26.5%34.8%

The list: Journalists who wrote political checks

"Who's Ahead?" Leaves the Public Behind ...

01 November 2007

Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?

Right Brain v Left Brain

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Which Way Is the Dancer Spinning? Some say both ways.

So far, she only spins clockwise for me.

My better half said clockwise at first, but then she focused on a different spot and the dancer changed direction. My oldest sees her change direction with no control over it. My youngest sees her spin clockwise, only.

Not sure if this is related, but I always have trouble seeing the hidden picture in Magic Eye's autostereograms but my wife has no trouble seeing them.

UPDATE: I got her to switch directions! I scrolled the picture down so I could only see the top of her head. When it switched directions, I scrolled the picture up and she was spinning counter-clockwise! It lasted for maybe 20 seconds and then she switched back to spinning clockwise. I was able to repeat the procedure. Weird, huh?

UPDATE: Okay, I can get her to switch directions now while viewing the whole image.

UPDATE: The Spinning Dancer and the Brain

When presented with stimuli that have two valid, mutually contradictory interpretations, your brain just picks one. Then, sometimes, it picks the other. We still don’t understand why this happens, or what role conscious efforts might play in this shift in perception. Many people are able to make the dancer shift directions at will, but the strategies I’ve seen almost always invoke a change of focus - I shift my attention to her feet, or scroll up and down, others look at her hands or to her side. (I’ve also seen lots of people talk about staring at her nipples, but none who report that it helps them see her change directions.)

31 October 2007

More of this, please!

Jury Awards Father $11M in Funeral Case

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.
Jury awards father nearly $11 million in funeral protesters case
Snyder said he hoped other families would consider suing following the verdict.

"The goal wasn't about the money, it was to set a precedent so other people could do the same thing," Snyder said.
Snyder v. Phelps and WBC

28 October 2007

String Theory

Science in Two Minutes or Less: String theory contest winners announced

NOVA: The Elegant Universe