Logging On

Michael J. Faris, Co-Editor

In This Issue

In the Topoi section, we have three webtexts that are quite kairotic, as they respond to our current political and disciplinary contexts. In "Identity and Representation in the 2017 Disability March," Talea Anderson analyzes the Disability March website, an online protest site designed for and by disabled people who couldn't physically participate in the 2017 Women's March in Washington, DC. Through both close and distant reading methods, Anderson explains the "website reveals multiple, sometimes competing messages about disability that are conveyed through imagery, language choices, and the structure of the site itself." Anderson's analysis shows how the site strives for inclusivity and accessibility but also remains inaccessible in many ways. What we find particularly compelling about Anderson's argument is that she has also designed her webtext for accessibility and makes that accessibility transparent through video explanations of her design choices. In "Women, Healing, and Social Community: Cyberfeminist Activities on Reddit," Meghan McGuire discusses a subreddit for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Reddit, as McGuire observes, is often associated with men (with men making up two-thirds of its users), but McGuire's feminist analysis shows how posters on the r/PCOS subreddit use cyber feminist practices of collaboration, reciprocity, respect, and community building. In "What Do First-Year Students Find Reliable in Online Source Material?" Elise Silva, Jessica Green, and Michael Mendoza provide an empirical study of first-year writing students' evaluation of online source materials. Given the circulation and spread of disinformation around the current coronavirus pandemic and the recent 2020 presidential election (among so many other topics!), as well as the challenges of teaching information literacy in first-year writing in general, this webtext contributes to our understanding of how undergraduate students distinguish between reliable and untrustworthy sources. As Silva and her co-authors show, students struggle to identify what makes a source authoritative and reliable (or not) and draw on personal, often bias-confirming, assessments. As they suggest in their conclusions, this study further confirms the need to teach about how information is created, how authority is shaped and created in different contexts, and how all readers and researchers need to evaluate their own biases, rather than judge on gut impulses.

In the Praxis section, we are pleased to publish two webtexts. Mary Stewart's "Student–Teacher Conferencing in Zoom: Asymmetrical Collaboration in a Digital Space/(Non)Place" is another timely piece, as many institutions moved fully or partially online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and thus teachers are increasingly using videoconferencing software like Zoom. Stewart provides an analysis of video conferences with two of her undergraduate students, showing how video conferencing with students isn't merely, as many assume, a way to approximate face-to-face interactions—it provides other benefits as well. As Stewart explains, videoconferencing with students can promote asymmetrical collaboration in which students direct the conference's focus and can facilitate a sense of nonplace in which both teacher and student can shift their attention between various digital and physical locations. In "The Writing Center Blogs Project," Julia Bleakney, Michelle Hager, and Maria Judnick collected a list of over 40 writing center blogs and conducted a survey of writing center professionals in order to develop best practices for starting and maintaining writing center blogs. Through their analysis, they identified three features of effective and long-living writing center blogs: strong content with appeals beyond an internal audience, effective design, and integration with other online platforms or campus culture. They close their webtext with advice for writing center blogs and their "How-to Guide for Blog Writers & Tutors" that they use at the San José State University Writing Center.

We have one webtext in the Inventio section, Kaustavi Sarkar and Erin Kathleen Bahl's "Dancing Across Media: Composing the Odissi Body." In this webtext, Sarkar and Bahl provide critical reflections on digital motion capture of Sarkar's Odissi dance in video and 3D animation and of Bahl's construction of the webtext to share these videos. Through their collaboration, Sarkar (an Odissi practitioner and digital designer) and Bahl (a digital writing scholar) explore the multimodal, gestural, and cultural aspects of representing traditional Indian dance through 3D animation.

In the Disputatio section, Zack Shaw's video, "Stream-lining Collaboration: Participatory Composition," explores how the live-streaming platform Twitch promotes participatory composition and collaboration. Shaw's piece points to how Twitch, unlike other video-streaming sites like YouTube, promotes an immediacy of participation that is in real-time and values speed as viewers and game players interact. The Twitch extension Crowd Control, for instance, allows non-playing participants to change gameplay by purchasing coins, sound effects, and other items (and it's pretty entertaining to watch).

We also have two PraxisWiki entries in this issue. In "Using Data Visualization to Analyze Big Data in Social Networks," Tracey Hayes uses social network analysis (SNA) to analyze the #MyNYPD protest from 2014 (the New York Police Department had posted on Twitter asking citizens to post photos of themselves with police officers, but most uses of the hashtag responded with photos of police abuse and brutality). Hayes shares her methods for using social network analysis to show the value of SNA for visualizing and analyzing networks. In "Assigning Graduate Student Digital Co-Authorship: A Student's Perspective," Krista Speicher Sarraf reflects on her experiences writing a co-authored project, which was a requirement in one of her graduate seminars. Drawing on her rich experiences as a student during this collaboration, Sarraf concludes by advocating that teachers assign more digital co-authorship in graduate courses and providing suggestions for how teachers might structure those collaborative assignments.

Our issue closes out with three reviews: Alyssa Higgins reviews Elenore Long's A Responsive Rhetorical Art: Artistic Methods for Contemporary Public Life; Elena Kalodner-Martin reviews Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont's edited collection Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism in the Digital Humanities; and Erin McLaughlin reviews Cheryl Glenn's Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope.