The Rhetoric of MOOCs

On massiveness, students, and flipped classrooms

The annual Computing Research Association conference is taking place this week at Snowbird in Utah, and one of today’s plenaries is about online eduction and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs). Reading the description of the session, I noticed two common positions on MOOCs that I think are rhetorically effective yet misleading. The “massive” numbers of “students” Citing enormous enrollment numbers… read more

On Technical Agency and Procedural Rhetoric

A quick response to Joshua McVeigh-Schulz

There’s an interesting discussion over at Culture Digitally between Gina Neff, Tim Jordan, and Joshua McVeigh-Schulz on the subject of technical agency, or “how we should (re)theorize the politics of technological systems.” Gina Neff’s opening comments include a welcome statement about the limits of SCOT perspectives on technical systems: Within the social studies of technology, technological determinism is dead. By… read more

Object-Oriented Rhetoric

Thoughts on the RSA panel papers

I’ve now had a chance to read three of the four papers from the RSA Object Oriented Rhetoric panel. Jim Brown’s summary is quite accurate, and I also recommend Nate’s thoughts on the potential of OOR. Here I’ll offer an overview of my reading of the papers, followed my my own sense of what object-oriented rhetoric might look like, or… read more

The Rancor of Rhetoricians

Object-Oriented Misunderstandings

A while back Jim Brown mentioned to me that there would be an object-oriented rhetoric panel at this year’s Rhetoric Society of America conference. Jim attended RSA but wasn’t able to make the panel; still, he’s managed to dig up the papers and he wrote up a summary over on the RSA’s Blogora. I’m not yet sure what object-oriented rhetoric… read more

The Rhetorics of Spring

Software grows like new leaves

Thanks to Jan Holmevik, Cynthia Haynes for hosting me and Greg Ulmer at Clemson University last week. The occasion was a seminar and symposium on games and rhetoric, organized thanks to Victor Vitanza and his Pre/Text journal. I enjoyed lively conversation with students and faculty alike. Somehow it was the first time I’d met Ulmer, who gave a thought-provoking talk… read more

A Rhetorician and an Enemy of Hannibal

More Good Blogs to Read

Two interesting blogs have come to my attention, and I thought I’d pass along the recommendation to read them. First, Nathan Gale’s An Uncanny Ontology. Gale recently wrote about zombies and ontology, which I talked about here yesterday. He’s also been working on an interesting theoretical frame for object-oriented thinking, an Object Cone. Second, Fabio Cunctator’s Hyper Tiling. The author’s… read more

Chumby and the Rhetoric of Openness

Small, cute, insidious

Note: Chumby representative Andrew “Bunnie” Huang has replied to this thread, and I have in turn replied to his response with more questions. I encourage you to read through all the comments for more detail. Finally, I should point out that I am not an attorney and nothing herein should be considered legal advice. Chumby is a WiFi-connected microcomputer that… read more

The Rhetoric of Exergaming

Paper presented at the Digital Arts and Cultures conference, Copenhagen Denmark, December 2005.

Recently videogames that use physical input devices have been dubbed “exergames” — games that combine play and exercise. This paper offers a historical perspective on exergames, from early arcades to the Atari 2600 through contemporary consoles, as well as a theoretical analysis of the different rhetorics such games deploy to influence players toward physically-active gameplay.


Winning Isn’t Everything

I used to think that games would be the dominant medium of the 21st century. The reality? They’re too big, too complex, and too smart for that to be true.

It’s hard to turn around in video game circles without hearing someone proclaim that “games are the dominant medium of the 21st century.” Deus Ex and Epic Mickeydesigner Warren Spector has a lecture built around the idea. The author Tom Chatfield devoted the subtitle of his book Fun, Inc to the concept. Journey composer Austin Wintory’s uttered the quip in an interview. Film critics writing about recent documentaries about games have even let… read more


Shaka, When the Walls Fell

In one fascinating episode, Star Trek: The Next Generation traced the limits of human communication as we know it—and suggested a new, truer way of talking about the universe.

On stardate 45047.2, Jean-Luc Picard leads the crew of the Enterprise in pursuit of a transmission beacon from the El-Adrel system, where a Tamarian vessel has been broadcasting a mathematical signal for weeks. The aliens, also known as the Children of Tama, are an apparently peaceable and technologically advanced race with which the Federation nevertheless has failed to forge diplomatic relations.… read more