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A Sustainable Culture: John Slatin's Ludic Pedagogy

———————Introduction or well, you have to begin somewhere . . .

When Ray and I were asked individually to consider submitting to this special issue of Currents, the idea of our collaborating on a piece immediately came to mind, and soon after we began discussing it, we agreed to do it together. We both got to know each another in John's 1993 graduate seminar at the University of Texas at Austin. Called "Electronic Discourse," it met in a cramped multi-media cave, and featured various books that introduced us to the theory-rich environment of thought on computer-based learning and writing. These included Jay Bolter's Writing Space, Lanham's The Electronic Word, Laurel's Computers as Theatre, Papert's The Children's Machine, and Baudrillard's Simulations, among others. We discussed a book per week mostly in the real-time discussion module of Deadalus called Interchange. Transcripts of our discussions were made available and assigned as reading for the next class. Oh yes, we also spent some time sitting in a circle speaking to one another about the books and what had happened in our Interchange discussions.

These heady texts were quite inspiring, and as we embarked on the hands-on composing part of the semester, John asked us to work in groups. Ray, Albert, and Eric spawned a group and project called E.A.R., which is an anagram of our names, that used the ear as a nodal figure for exploring the intersections of technology and the body. E.A.R. evolved into a complex, colorful, complexly interlinked and graphically rich hypertext (in Hypercard). John also had us collaborate on a long reflective essay on the project.

So John was all about collaboration, conversation and connection, and he viewed computers as a powerful new tool for this kind of linking. I had already found this out through working in the CWRL, which he directed for many years. John believed that when done right, people can become smarter through working with others than in isolation. He viewed texts, including literature, in the same way, as a complexly interlinked field of conversations. He also thought working together was more fun, and he honored the moments of playfulness that emerged in online discussions and in the hypertexts we produced. These beliefs informed his teaching, his directing, and his work with colleagues and graduate students in the CWRL and in seminars. This seminar laid the groundwork for my interest in on-line play. Part of my work with John and others in the CWRL involved developing a writing topics course called Computers and Writing, which John, I, and others taught sections of in the CRWL classrooms. It was this course that generated the data, mainly Interchange transcripts and student hypertexts, that I drew from for analysis of playful elements in my dissertation (co-directed by John and Lester Faigley).

For Ray and I to collaborate on a (edited) conversation about our current thoughts in the light of John's influence has been a bittersweet but tasty treat. In keeping with our experiences with John and his fearless use of real-time discussions, we chose to locate our discussions in a MOO and to work with the discussions as a text. This seemed a fitting way to go about "writing" as a reflection and extension of our intense experiences in John's seminar and working with him in the CWRL. Adding links to this piece underscores John's thoughtful regard for what linking, literally and figuratively, can do for thinkers, writers, educators, and readers. Although we focus more on John in the first segment, you will find our remarks about John woven throughout our two conversations. In the second segment, we use the ideas of Mark Bauerlien as points around which to consider a variety of issues.

We dedicate this piece with much love to John and Anna.


Key Concepts and topics (Feel free to use the bolded terms in the text to locate specific moments.):








New Media

cultural capital

Progressive education


Digital technology

slow reading

student writing




John Slatin


English Studies

commercial culture

Open source

cloud computing



Rouzie and Watkins met in Bobkatz MOO on two subsequent Saturdays in February of 2009.

Moo Session One: Playing Around With Pedagogy

Ray arrives from Main Hallway.

You enter a warm yellow classroom. You wonder where this place has been your whole life...It sure is conducive to writing in here. In addition to the various objects accessible in the picture and listed below the picture, you see a blackboard off to the side of the room. You see Red Table, Green Table, Blue Table, Beige Table, Yellow Table, Orange Table, Purple Table, Lime Table, Silver Table, and Teal Table.
You see Bulletin Board, Book Shelf, Web Projector, and BotBoy.

Obvious exits: to Main Hallway, to Wallow in the Mud, to Under Ash

Ray says, "Obvious" is an interesting choice of words..."

Albertoid says, "Hey Guest!"

Ray says, "Yo, Toid!"

Albertoid says, "Ray, I am not sure the log is working, which worries me. I told it to."

Albertoid scratches head.

Ray says, "Ah, your super-powers fail you..."

Albertoid says, "Maybe I should pause now and then to copy/paste our discourse."

Ray says, "Should we go out and back and see if you can collect a log?"

Albertoid gets out the chainsaw.

Ray says, "Sounds awful..."

Ray is thoughtful.

Albertoid feels it is awful but would hate to lose our precious dialogue.

Ray is doing a little so-what sort of dance...

Ray says, "Cut and paste will work fine, I think..."

Albertoid says, "Don’t worry about it. Remind me. It ain't no biggy, smalls."

Ray says, "Ok, where were we...”

Ray says, "I have to turn off Click and Clack— they are very distracting..."

Albertoid says, "I think we were going to begin with sort of your first question or a freewheeling talk about John’s legacy for us."

Albertoid laughs like Clack.

Ray says, "I think the first word that comes to mind when I think about John is 'pun'—"

Albertoid says, "Oh?"

Ray says, "Yes, that was the first thing I noticed when we MOOed in class: John liked puns, and he loved to play with language... I didn't think professors did that..."

Albertoid says, "Yes, that he did. That might be why he loved Interchange and MOOs, cuz he got to let that side of his wit out."

Ray says, "I really did not have a clue about what professors did or did not do, but I was sure, at some level, that they were very serious people..."

Albertoid says, "And John was serious..."

Ray says, "Right. But he was fun too—"

Albertoid says, "And sometimes at the same time, which may be why I came up with serio-ludic."

Ray says, "It's that combination that stayed with me from the first time that I stood in front of a classroom..."

Albertoid says, "Otherwise teaching is a drag."

Ray says, "Right. I think there's a clear line from John's intellectual style to your book..."

Albertoid says, "I think John once told me that he went computer because he felt that his teaching had reached an impasse."

Ray says, "It's an interesting way, too, for a teacher to de-center the classroom (pardon my jargon)..."

Albertoid says, "Yes that did it for him. He was very committed to that, yet he was a strong presence. You had to deal with his posts or wanted to."

Ray says, "Yes, he was."

Albertoid says, "John's electronic discourse seminar was pivotal for me. The combo of reading Lanham and doing E.A.R."

Albertoid says, "Thinking about that, it's amazing how old-fashioned what we did seems now."

Ray says, "Right. Old fashioned, I guess, because it was so word-centered... although E.A.R. had images too..."

Albertoid says, "I'm thinking about the fact that E.A.R. was a stand-alone hypertext and a kind of hypertext style not being much composed these days."

Albertoid sips on coffee.

Ray says, "Hypertext itself seems very outdated..."

Albertoid says “Yes, even though there is more of it than ever. Consider Wikipedia and the blogosphere.”

Ray says, "Right. And Kairos (among others) publishes more or less traditional hypertext..."

Albertoid "Kairos is one of the few that do. I rhyme."

Ray helps Al clean up after his emote problem...

Albertoid says, "Thanks i feel much better."

Ray says, "It's a difficult form, I think."

Albertoid says, "One thing about John is that play was more assumed than foregrounded as a concept, enacted not didacted."

Ray says, "That's exactly it. 'Be the change you want,' etc."

Ray apologizes for bad cliché.

Albertoid says, "Thank you, Ghandi/Obama."

Albertoid says, "But it rings true. Too bad it does not always work on the students."

Ray says, "I think it might work a little better than we think— but the culture at large pushes against the sort of authority John enacted... Students often want that 'sage on the stage.'"

Ray says, "Or, rather, they feel they need it in order to accomplish their goals... in a sense they do, too."

Albertoid says, "Sure, that's their training, a different kind of learning."

Albertoid says, "Oddly, I recall not being that happy with the Interchange sessions after a while in John's seminar. But the hands-on E.A.R. stuff was a revelation."

Ray says, "I'm putting Oh Mercy on in the background— it will feed my sense of irony..."

Ray says, "And language..."

Albertoid says, "Well we live in a political world."

Ray says, "That just created a strange kind of echo..."

Ray says, "We've talked about the MOO problem before, I think. It's hard to know when to stop, when you are going too far..."

Ray says, "You give yourself enough rope to hand yourself and you end up hanging yourself..."

Ray says, "Hand?"

Ray says, "Hang."

Albertoid says, "Impossible; right now i want to climb the bookshelf."

Ray says, "Please, be my guest!"

Albertoid says, "Plus it is very different [in a MOO] with just we two instead of a bunch. Even a small group whizzes by. I said whiz."

Ray says, "I think "Virtural Urine" was a band in the 80s..."

Ray says, "Right. It's that sense of multiple threads, and all you can do is grab onto one of them..."

Ray says, "And even when you do, you are distracted by all the rest... it was exhilarating and exasperating all at once..."

Albertoid says, "Which may be a good figure for how one was taught by John. He threw a bunch of cool shit at you and you caught a thread and went with it."

Ray says, "'Everything is Broken.'"

Albertoid says, "You can say that again."

Ray says, "'Everything is Broken.'"

Ray says, "LOL"

Albertoid says, "I knew you’d do that!"

Ray says, "I think John had a kind of trust in his graduate students... He knew that we would sort it out somehow..."

Albertoid says, "Absolutely. I've been thinking about how John positioned himself in the dept. at UT."

Ray says, "I am not sure I ever fully understood how John fit into the department..."

Albertoid says, "Well it shifted over time, especially after he got tenure. That's when he went into the basement."

Ray says, "He was a liminal figure, to say the least..."

Albertoid says, "He had feet in both lit. and comp. and wanted something transcending both."

Ray says, "And he kept looking too..."

Albertoid says, "Neat thing is that he was not trained at all in comp., so what he knew, he learned on his own and from colleagues."

Albertoid says, "He had no clear allegiance, which I think he got away with somehow. Not all can do that."

Albertoid climbs on the book shelf...

Ray says, "I think he was perfectly comfortable being in a position where he had to learn—he didn't need to be the authority in every situation..."

Ray says, "That might be one reason why he could have a certain authority in both camps..."

Albertoid says, "Yet he had loads of it in the areas he worked in. When you have it you ain’t got to flaunt it."

Albertoid says, "Damn!"

Ray says, "Although that Literary Camp was way over across a big river from the CWRL..."

Albertoid says, "And few of them crossed over..."

Albertoid says, "When the rhetoric division happened, John was listed both there and in lit."

Ray says, "I think, too, that he had a sharp sense of academic politics—he got funding for the CWRL, etc. without seeming to alienate people— at least, to the extent that I could see."

Ray says, "I think that was probably very difficult..."

Albertoid says, "He was good at doing that. I remember the deanlets he'd have come to open houses."

Ray says, "It's interesting because that realm—big U. academic politics— is so different than the playful authority he brought to the classroom..."

Albertoid says, "There really was a sense of being a part of something. I have found it very difficult to replicate that sense at OU."

Ray says, "We were in the right place at the right time..."

Albertoid says, "Yes but it makes my current situation pale in comparison. I'm getting nostalgic."

Ray says, "We were so young..."

Ray says, "LOL"

Albertoid says, "Didn’t think so at the time."

Albertoid chuckles.

Ray says, "No one does."

Ray says, "Youth is wasted on the young, etc."

Albertoid says, "One of your questions was -how is play related to persuasion? Tough one."

Ray says, "It was a potent mix: all the new technology, a new field, John's playful authority, and all the difficult stuff was behind the curtain..."

Albertoid says, "Yes grad students are protected from all that, for better or worse."

Ray says, "At one level, playfulness undermines credibility, complicates persuasion..."

Albertoid says, "Not to mention that a lot of published stuff in the field was coming out of UT."

Ray says, "At another, it helps to build credibility, enables persuasion..."

Albertoid says, "It raises the question of who can play..."

Albertoid says, "Some say that play is more acceptable coming from the dominant position."

Ray says, "Right. Because it takes a certain authority..."

Ray says, "even to challenge authority..."

Albertoid says, "I agree that it pulls on ethos both ways."

Albertoid says, "Obama could not have made jokes in his race/Wright speech."

Albertoid says, "I like that: it takes authority to challenge authority."

Ray says, "That's an interesting scenario, isn't it..."

Ray says, "'The Master's Tools,' etc."

Ray says, "We're back to the sort of language and authority John embodied..."

Ray says, "Hey, did you cut and paste yet?"

Albertoid says, "Maybe playfulness, which is not exactly the same thing as humor, can happen effectively in some persuasive situations, but not in others, and often in the seams, at the beginning, end, and margins of the work."

Albertoid says, "I have [pasted] a couple of times, need more."

Ray says, "You can imagine Obama, say, after the speech making a few jokes..."

Ray says, "A priest, a rabbi, and an woman walk into a bar..."

Ray says, "Etc."

Albertoid says, "What did Jeremiah Wright say to Jesse Helms when..."

Ray says, "The other interesting part of our 'education' is that so much of the work we studied has receded into the background..."

Albertoid says, "Yes I think it has to do with a retreat from theory."

Ray says, "And professionalization... a kind of disciplinary maturation..."

Albertoid says, "I had to take courses focused on theory as a grad. student—this is going away."

Albertoid says, "That too. I have noticed some shift toward the professional/technical programs."

Ray says, "And a shift away from broader sociological contexts, in many ways..."

Albertoid says, "Weird thing is that the basic theories still seem to apply more or less, but the tech has gone way on and I am f#@**ing behind. May be a generational thing."

Ray says, "I am not sure that the rate of technological change can be sustained for much longer..."

Albertoid says, "Too true. The support at OU for it is dwindling even as the pressure to keep up intensifies."

Ray says, "I remember a teacher I knew who wanted to use film to teach writing... Eventually his class evolved right past writing— the students were making films..."

Ray says, "I see similar things happening with so-called New Media..."

Albertoid says, "That is getting more common but is hard to pull off without a lot of experience with video tech."

Ray says, "And as editing software evolves..."

Albertoid says, "And this is why I am not cutting edge. Plus the new media people kind of take serio-ludic for granted and don’t see the need to argue for it. I am a bloody dino!"

Ray says, "I think, though, that a decade ago we could argue that composition/English had to keep up, to stay up to date. We needed computers in the classroom, etc. Now it is harder to argue ... Do we need You Tube?"

Albertoid says, "Maybe John's example is useful—he pretty much ditched the English department for a job they created for him and went into the accessibility movement and did some important stuff in it."

Albertoid says, "I need You Tube and use it in class..."

Albertoid says, "...and you are a virtual prof."

Ray says, "It might be the best way to explain MLA, grammar check, etc."

Ray says, "Right. Interestingly, for a lot of reasons, the virtual classrooms are not particularly high tech..."

Albertoid says, "I still argue that we need to be up to date but I am a tiny minority in the dept. I fall upon the thorns of literary hegemony, I bleed."

Albertoid says, "Blackboard?"

Ray says, "Maybe its time for the revolution to consolidate..."

Albertoid says, "Go on."

Ray says, "I think that the rhetoric of change and innovation too often rings hollow..."

Albertoid says, "Say more..."

Albertoid peels a banana.

Ray says, "I think we need some sort of rhetoric that gives us a sense of the larger purposes of education..."

Albertoid takes a bite.

Albertoid says, "OK I'll bite."

Ray says, "I'm not sure I have the rhetoric at hand..."

Albertoid says, "My guess—cultural capital, production of the technical classes (if we still had jobs), etc."

Albertoid wolfs down banana and thinks it delicious.

Ray says, "The great 20th century idea of education—the creation of an educated society—has come to a screeching halt..."

Albertoid says, "Progressive ed. movement be dead, dog."

Ray says, "It stopped, too, well short of the goal. I was looking at Pew Center numbers yesterday and we are only at 1/3 college educated. "

Albertoid says, "I wonder how that compares to England or France. Well, I’d imagine."

Albertoid says, "In Appalachia it's more the number who don't finish HS."

Ray says, "I'm not sure... European education is a very different kettle of fish..."

Albertoid says, "Let's focus on one of your questions:"

Ray says, "Shoot."

Albertoid says, "What do we mean when we define composition and literary studies as differing forms of cultural capital? "

Albertoid says, "Shot."

Ray says, "I think the most important answer is that we begin to see them as tools in a social and political context... Not only 'things to know' but also 'things to use.'"

Ray says, "I think English Studies begins on that sort of shared if contested ground..."

Albertoid says, "The other day I told Mara [Holt] I thought that the lit. faculty at OU would fire all the comp. people if they could get away with it economically. I guess I am looking at division of labor as so telling in what gets valued."

Albertoid says, "Since the 60s comp. has had that sense of writing in political and social contexts, to some degree."

Ray says, "Don't you think, though, that the lit. folks look down on comp. in exactly these terms?"

Albertoid says, "Yes, comp. deals with somewhat more ephemeral discourse but this rests on an illusion about the canon of literature..."

Albertoid says, "...and the work load of comp teaching is orders larger and more women than men, hence."

Ray says, "Not to pick nits but to my mind it [the canon] is less of an illustion than a half truth..."

Ray says, "There is a kind of other-worldliness to art but there's the world there as well..."

Albertoid says, "Well OK, Simon Schama, I am with you there, except that the defenders of the canon tend to exclude lots of minority writing."

Ray says, "Guillory's argument is that this is less about ethnic identity than about the slow grinding wheels of modernization in academia..."

Albertoid says, "In comp teaching I feel that tension all the time since I use all sorts of genres in a topics course, but it's easy to get caught up in that and end up focusing inadequately on writing."

Ray says, "Right. Back to the guy I knew who began by using film to teach writing but ended up teaching film..."

Albertoid says, "I think back to Lanham's idea that the humanities will have to break down the disciplinary boundaries. He thought digital tech would be the lever."

Albertoid tosses the web projector across the room.

Albertoid says, "I don't understand Guillory's point. Enlighten me."

Ray says, "Access to the 'means of production' of literature were limited for most of the history of the West... mass literacy is relatively new..."

Albertoid says, "...that's a fact, enit."

Albertoid says, "We've the bloody Protestants to thank for that."

Ray says, "So the canon has to change either through that slow archival work—finding work by non-whites, non-men, that was often purposefully hidden or destroyed— or by bringing in relatively modern work..."

Albertoid says, "... both"

Ray says, "Which is very slow, nearly geological..."

Albertoid says, "Yes though upheavels happen—look at Zora Neal Hurston."

Ray says, "Right."

Albertoid says, "Your next move has us discussing how serio-ludic pedagogy (however we define that) can affect the cultural capital of comp. and lit."

Ray says, "But think of how hiring works too. I was in a department that had three Brit. lit. people and one rhet. One Brit. lit. person left and you would think the world was ending! Yet it took five years to hire one rhet. person..."

Albertoid says, "Hey that is exactly what it's like at OU. 'Oh we need a specialist in the Eng. romantics from 1788-1804!'"

Albertoid says, "Bollux that."

Ray says, "It would be great if we could see the differing forms of cultural capital in English as sharing a kind of serio-ludic play..."

Albertoid says, "I think they do but the divisions mask it."

Ray Unmasks those Lit Dudes!

Albertoid says, "Historically lit. was associated with leisure and playfulness (and the cultural capital of the leisure classes) and comp. with work/practicality etc. But lit. had to be made into work (without the practicality) because play is denigrated as lightweight."

Ray says, "I am not sure which is more difficult to conceive academically... Would literary studies concede that comp. can be artful and playful?"

Ray says, "And at the same time serious?"

Albertoid says, "These days perhaps depending on where it is."

Ray says “Lit. also had to be made masculine... man-work not girl-play!”

Albertoid says, "There are so many topics classes—writing about graphic novels, e.g.,—that you have to assume some serio-ludic action. But the hard core literaria..."

Ray says, “I think this speaks to that idea of the larger educational narrative... Especially the notion that the classroom stood apart from society as a whole...”

Albertoid says, "Which it pretty much does."

Ray says, "I think more so for the professors than for the students..."

Albertoid says, "This is in part the promise and threat of the internet, to close the gap."

Albertoid says, "click on your say button"

Ray says, "...ooops..."

Ray says, "LOL"

Ray says, "I over emoted..."

Albertoid says, "You are a pussy..."

Albertoid says, "cat."

Ray says, "lol"

Albertoid says, "I love the word, crapulous."

Ray says, "i was thinking of that song in 'Walk Hard,' called 'Duet.'"

Albertoid says, "Yes, profs are into the separation. I know I am in a way."

Ray says, "I want to blow..."

Ray says, "You kisses..."

Albertoid says, "'Walk Hard'?"

Ray says, "'I want to go down...'"

Ray says, "'... in history.'"

Ray says, "Etc."

Albertoid says, "Dude, seriously."

Albertoid says, "Seriously, dude."

Ray says, "I think the separation is a good thing. On the same analogy as the lab can be a good thing..."

Albertoid says, "Well, one of the reasons I got into the prof. thing was to avoid the 8-6 job with two weeks of vacation and the grave at the end."

Ray says, "The students, though, need to be free to 'leave the world behind' — in a similar way..."

Ray says, "I don't think either of us has ever had one of those 9-5 jobs..."

Albertoid says, "Uh, you may be right."

Albertoid says, "This term I am having students do some writing to their own personal blogs, which are, in fact, out there on the internets."

Ray says, "The tubes..."

Ray says, "It's a great way to give them a sense of almost visceral sense..."

Albertoid says, "Yes, though I am not sure it works unless they get outside readers leaving comments. They do some commenting with other class members."

Albertoid says, "I still like Lanham's looking at vs. looking through distinction and grad students do too."

Ray says, "Do you think that blogs have reached a kind of familiarity that makes them nearly transparent? A journal, after all, doesn't have to be artful..."

Albertoid says, "As we do this, I am thinking about how serio-ludic expressiveness is still relevant to questions of mainstream English studies although the cutting edge computers and writing folks take it for granted. There's a worrisome gap."

Albertoid says, "My students don’t seem that aware of blogs. Like they have been to them but most don’t call them blogs or know that Facebook works on blog software."

Ray says, "Is it hard to get them to look 'at' the language rather than simply 'through' it ..."

Albertoid says, "Journals have the teacher as audience, but the lack of artfulness is not a plus for me. I like that students might add a photo or embed a video or link in their blog posts."

Ray says, "I was thinking of some pretty old-fashioned ideas about language: concision, for example..."

Albertoid says, "That's a big struggle. You can get them to discuss language that way in class. Getting them to experiment with it in writing is harder."

Ray says, "It's interesting, this sense that they will only take certain kinds of risks..."

Albertoid says, "Concision—seems like a later process stage."

Albertoid says, "They are taught not to and if they do it, they do not feel often that it can be evaluated at all. That was one thing I had to think about in analyzing serio-ludic discourse—how to evaluate it. "

Ray says, "All blogs are rough drafts..."

Ray says, "LOL"

Albertoid says, "Yup."

Albertoid says, "I wonder how that will work as I am having them post their 'final' essays on their blogs (less paper)..."

Ray says, "What is 'effective' play? When is there 'too much play' and not enough 'seriousness'..."

Albertoid says, "In the book I ended up classifying play as pure, serio-ludic, etc. I said effective play could be read as getting a point across even if indirectly. In Hopi, the word 'clown' and 'make a point' are the same word."

Albertoid says, "How are you holding up?"

Ray says, "In general, pretty good..."

Ray says, "Do you mean personally or professionally or just this morning?"

Albertoid says, “I meant this morning, but hey..."

Albertoid says, "I guess I am asking how long you want to continue today."

Ray says, "We should probably wrap up..."

Albertoid says, "One thing abut pure play—it can’t be evaluated as useful in the way serio-ludic is, but it's still important."

Ray says, "It's an interesting distinction: use v. importance..."

Albertoid says, "Yes that distinction fits so many others we are discussing."

Ray says, "In the larger sense, especially. Should a college degree be useful or important? "

Albertoid says, "Is lit. useful or important?"

Albertoid says, "OK,then."

Ray says, "Stay warm!"

Albertoid says, "You too."

Albertoid gives Ray a big hug...

MOO Session Two: Sleeping with the Enemy

Ray arrives from Main Hallway.

Albertoid waves at Ray.

Ray Hey!

Albertoid says, "Hey!"

Ray says, "I got a little lost in the Hallway..."

Albertoid says, "See any caterpillars?"

Ray says, "Not yet..."

Ray says, "The MOO seems a little different..."

Albertoid says, "Whooo are youooooo?"

Albertoid says, "Different?"

Ray says, "I'm not sure why...just me I guess..."

Ray says, "Did you get the text—two quotes—I just emailed you?"

Albertoid says, "I got the email but did not see the quotes."

Ray says, "It was an attachment..."

Albertoid says, "Got it."

Ray says, "Can I import it here?"

Albertoid says, "You can try."

Ray says, "LOL"

Ray says, "Via? The web projector?"

Albertoid says, "Try pasting it in first..."

Ray says, "Ok. Here is the first one..."

Bauerlien (from "CULTURED: REPN TRI to the FULLEST!!!") : "Download a million other personal pages of teens and the same graphics and sentiments spill out. The bustle and popularity make personal profiles the space of invention. In October 2006, Nielsen//NetRatings found that nine of the top-ten web sites for 12- to 17-year-olds provided content or tools for social networking. An April 2007 Pew/Internet study recorded 55 percent of online teens with profiles, and no doubt the number keeps rising. So does the social networking idiom, and if you can't write it you suffer the digital equivalent of missing kickball at recess."

Bauerlien: "What a contrast to the prose they write for school. In papers for English, history, and civics, the brio disappears. Yes, they fix the spelling and drop the pesky slang, but the style flattens into monotonous blank assertions rendered in commonplace words. They lose the self-promotion, a good thing, but also the features that produce evocative descriptions and persuasive opinions. No sharp metaphors, mots justes, nifty rhythms and parallels, or punctuating sounds."

Albertoid says, "it will only do one par. at a time."

Ray says, "Right."

Bauerlien:" ...This isn't just a verbal deficiency. It follows an assumption students make when they write about serious subjects. Lower the energy, they think; dim the rhetoric; just get the facts and ideas straight. Intellectual discourse is neutral, colorless, vapid. Verbal dash is verboten."

Albertoid says, "Somebody shut him up!"

Albertoid says, "that's the first chunk and I just read the Chronicle Bauerlien piece."

Ray says, "Bauerlein seems to be supporting the idea that digital communication technologies have unleashed a new sort of creativity ordinarily unseen in academic writing..."

Albertoid says, "Ray this is such an old complaint, yea unto the first lousy comp themes assigned anywhere."

Ray says, "It is an old complaint, but I do think that 'academic' is often synonomous with 'dull' and 'uninteresting.'"

Albertoid says, “Yes, but he says that to make the point that it [tech] somehow is robbing them of some heretofore present expressiveness they had in prose writing."

Ray says, "I think the key word here is 'serious'—-"

Ray says, "The opposite of which, traditionally, is 'playful...'"

Albertoid says, "Hey there's no way that writing a summary of an article is not dull compared to Facebook or whatever. It's apples and oranges, socially and cognitively."

Ray says, "The other quote is the more traditional Bauerlien complaint of the "Dumbing Down" of technology, etc."

Albertoid says, "I see where you are going with this. My serio-ludic ideal crosses the chasm, but I'd remind you that it does so largely with electronic help."

Bauerlein (from "CULTURED: REPN TRI to the FULLEST!!!") : "More than that, given the tidal wave of technology in young people's lives, let's frame a number of classrooms and courses as slow-reading (and slow-writing) spaces. Digital technology has become an imperial force, and it should meet more antagonists. Educators must keep a portion of the undergraduate experience disconnected, unplugged, and logged off. Pencils, blackboards, and books are no longer the primary instruments of learning, true, but they still play a critical role in the formation of intelligence, as countermeasures to information-age mores. That is a new mission for educators parallel to the mad rush to digitize learning, one that may seem reactionary and retrograde, but in fact strives to keep students' minds open and literacy broad. Students need to decelerate, and they can't do it by themselves, especially if every inch of the campus is on the grid."

Ray says, "I think this idea of the 'slow reading' space is interesting, even though it risks falling into the 'reactionaries' camp in English Studies..."

Albertoid says, "In a lot of English departments, the challenge is the opposite—how to get students access to tech."

Ray says, "Do you think this is still a technical/funding problem, or is it now mostly a pedagogical problem?"

Albertoid says, "Hard to say—some of both. In places where tech is king, they find the money to make it happen. Where the Bauerlein position is more dominant, there is little pressure to do so and of course budgets do the rest."

Albertoid says, "Sure, it harks back to a long line of techno-reactionaries: Postman, Tuman, and Birkerts. They all want students to read Victorian novels in the same deep ways they do."

Ray says, "...deep" being the key term..."

Ray says, "Although I think the term they ought to use is 'aesthetic'..."

Albertoid says, "I am all for slow food, slow reading, slow lovemaking..."

Ray says, "In many ways Bauerlien is simply repeating the old comp./lit. split..."

Albertoid says, "Sounds like that, though he criticizes student writing as well."

Ray says, "Right. 'Slow' is the old 'Green'..."

Ray says, "or 'Green' is the new 'Slow'— I'm not sure..."

Albertoid says, "Slow food is regional, so, green in that sense"

Albertoid says, "Does Bauerlien's dichotomy seem false in some ways? I think he uses reading proficiency data without context to make it seem like computer use is causing a drop rather than is a correlation—which is more likely."

Ray says, "I think Bauerlien either supports or inadvertently gives support to a reactionary position, but I am wondering if he might be coopted for other purposes..."

Albertoid says, "Keep talking..."

Albertoid says, "Elaborate..."

Ray says, "I think 'play' might be a better alternative to the 'fast reading' Bauerlien opposes... It reformulates the problem without calling back to a 'golden age' of the liberal arts..."

Albertoid says, "Possibly, except that Bauerlien would want to say that the play students do is irrelevant to learning, reading, writing, except as a negative influence. "

Ray says, "It's interesting to think of his 'fast reading' as a kind of 'serious reading'— that is, reading with a specific utilitarian purpose...”

Ray says, "I am not saying he would agree! "

Albertoid says, "Don't most undergraduate students do fast reading of everything, that is, until they have to write about it?"

Albertoid says, "When I arrive at class I see students reading the assignment in the hallway. "

Ray says, "Right. Reading that is both slow and playful would try to complicate utilitarian reading...”

Albertoid says, "What Bauerlien does not discuss, and I think Slatin would want to point out, is that computers enable different actions and ways of reading and writing than earlier tech. . . "

Albertoid says, "So, e.g., if rather than memorizing a poem, a student is asked to record it for a web project and to make a comic strip rendition of the poem, etc., some interesting learning about the poem can happen. "

Ray says, "As Bauerlien says, They can work as "countermeasures to information-age mores"— the problem, of course, is where to use these information age tools..."

Albertoid says, "Tools, can we get more specific? "

Ray says, "Your example of using the web is a good one... I like the idea of taking Bauerlein's critique of contemporary culture, which I equate with the conservative ideology of the market, and using it against itself..."

Albertoid says, "I like that idea. Say more?"

Ray says, "In the classroom we could try to create the slow, playful web as a 'countermeasure' to the fast, serious web..."

Ray says, "That..."

Ray says, "Oops.."

Albertoid says, "Hmmm. Example?"

Ray says, "I am not sure an example exists yet...”

Albertoid says, "I am thinking about research because my students basically use online sources for the most part. "

Ray says, "I keep thinking, though, of the way John would have us sit together at a table after we would MOO... a kind of 'slow moment' ..."

Albertoid says, "... and do what?"

Albertoid says, "I think we talked about the session. "

Ray says, "Maybe Wikipedia is a good example. If the 'fast culture' creates an uninteresting style, perhaps we could have students attempt to rewrite Wikipedia entries in a more interesting fashion..."

Albertoid says, "Slow/fast play is intriguing. Bauerlien condemns fast play, but might be less against slower forms, such as composing carefully constructed hypertexts. But I doubt it!"

Ray says, "Right. I think John wanted us to have a moment to come together and think back on what happened... I remember that it would ususally dissipate whatever tensions might have been generated in the MOO..."

Ray says, "I guess it would depend on how much of a technological determinist Bauerlien is, right? Is it the technology itself or the use of it, that makes it "fast"?"

Albertoid says, "Wikipedia IS a slow media, evolving over time. The way people use it is a different issue. "

Albertoid says, "I am sure Bauerlien detests Wikipedia and bans its use. I like Wikipedia and use it as way into critical reading of online sources. "

Ray says, "I am not sure that it matters so much how we do it... what matters is that we re-formulate Bauerlien's complaints as complaints against a social system rather than complaints against technology..."

Albertoid says, "OK but how and why? Why use such a flawed argument that is so easily appropriated by the forces of reaction?"

Ray says, "I like that reading of Wikipedia as a slow media— it's a good example of how Bauerlien paints everything with the same broad brush strokes...”

Ray says, "I guess I am looking for a way to find some bridge across several of the divides in English Studies... my Obama impulse!"

Albertoid says, "I guess I am saying that if you, Ray Watkins, come up with slow tech as a useful concept, you don't need to tip any hats to Bauerlien, thank him very much. "

Ray says, "LOL"

Albertoid honors Ray's Barackian impulses.

Ray says, "I agree, to the extent that we can see Bauerlien as an example of the pure antitechnology reactionary..."

Albertoid says, "Maybe he's not pure, but neither was Myron Tuman. "

Ray says, "What's the cliche? Bees are more attracked to honey than vinegar... or something..."

Albertoid says, "... and flies are more drawn to dead meat."

Albertoid slaps self.

Albertoid thinks John Slatin probably liked Wikipedia.

Ray says, "I think my main impulse is to use the various divides in English Studies as analytic wedges... to try to find some way out of the impasse that we (you and I, and others in our position) have lived in and through for the last dozen years or more..."

Albertoid says, "Eng. Stud. is a broad umbrella. It is likely that there can be no agreement on the values that drive pedagogy. "

Ray says, "I like the idea of using a traditional liberal arts term— eloquence, for example— as a way of trying to re-think Wikipedia. That might be one way around the divide, if not exactly across it..."

Ray says, "I could go the other way too and argue that Dickens is just wordy!"

Ray says, "LOL"

Ray says, "You might be right about the pedagogical divide... but I think that this is in part generational... once those old lit. guys (most are guys) die off, things will shift dramatically..."

Albertoid says, "Wishful thinking. OU has some young fogeys who outfogey the old guys, and some of them are women."

Ray says, "I know what you mean!"

Albertoid says, "Hey: What are or should be the relationships between commercial culture and educational technology?"

Albertoid says, "I just added one of your questions."

Ray says, "I think that educational technology should (or can?) be seen as in oppostion to commercial culture... Open Source is exemplary in this sense."

Albertoid says, "... a vexed borderland"

Ray says, "Was that a band in the 80s? "

Albertoid says, "... on a double bill with Cur Mudgeons"

Ray says, "from South Texas...”

Albertoid says, "Open Source is truly revolutionary in intent, truly democratic, but it seems to me to so far stay in reaction mode, creating open apps of software already on the market. Still . . . "

Ray says, "Did you ever hear "Brave Combo"?"

Albertoid says, "Heard them live here."

Albertoid says, "Hip polkas, man"

Ray says, "I think you are right about Open Source, although many times the open source folks create innovations that the commercial market popularizes..."

Albertoid says, " Ah, pirates!"

Ray says, "... and some OS technologies remain mostly non-commercial: torrents are a good example..."

Albertoid says, "I remember a moment at UT when the shift to the web had happened and no one was using any stand-alone software anymore—a very sudden shift . . . "

Ray says, "Using Mosiac, a non-commercial bit of software then..."

Albertoid says, ". . . and I said to John that I thought the web was pretty boring and he said he hoped not. I think he saw what was coming and he always had hope. "

Albertoid says, "...true...”

Albertoid says, "... and of course the web is not boring."

Ray says, "I do too! Although I am not sure anyone saw the commercial impact quite yet... If we had, we would have bought "" or something..."

Albertoid says, "Yes all those domain names."

Ray says, "It's interesting too, because the new regime is going to be "cloud computing"— perhaps the end of stand alone software as we know it..."

Albertoid says, "Thing is, I have been trying to get students to close the gap between the visual intensity of the web and the dead letters of prose argument. "

Albertoid says, "... what's that?"

Ray says, "Google Docs is a good example..."

Albertoid says, "... of cloud?"

Albertoid says, "Isn't Google Docs all template driven? "

Ray says, "Right. Or an intermediate stage... a full cloud application would be a web-based word processor, in this case...”

Albertoid says, "Ah...”

Ray says, "Microsoft Live is a more fully developed case...”

Albertoid says, "I use Blogger lately for classes. "

Ray says, "Institutions would buy access rather than programs...”

Albertoid says, "That sounds good."

Albertoid says, "... depending on the tools."

Albertoid says, "Sounds better than millions for BlackBoard."

Ray says, "Well, it's also class/capital dependent... if you have a good network, you are fine; if you don't, not so much..."

Albertoid says, "... same old, same mold...”

Ray says, "I've worked in that kind of computer classroom; it can be a nightmare... if the network goes down the computer is just a brick...”

Albertoid throws a computer brick through Bauerlien's window.

Albertoid says, "What if you ask students to combine "old' lieracies of, say, argument and exposition using research, and then add the expectation of 'entertainment?" "

Albertoid says, "I am defining entertainment broadly."

Ray says, "I like the idea. In fact, I think some things might work best in new media. I reccomend using the MLA video on YouTube, for example. And I try to get students to use podcasts about language, such as 'A Way With Words'..."

Ray says, "On the other hand, "composing" gets complicated quickly because you start leaving 'writing' (in the old sense of text, digital or otherwise) behind... I am not sure 'composing' video, for example, translates into 'composting texts' very easily..."

Albertoid says, "Videos are texts but I know what you mean"

Albertoid says, "Composting texts. I like it."

Ray says, "The vocabulary gets clumsy quickly too... Will we ever send out video memos? Will video essays become the norm? I am not sure... I do think movies have replaced novels in my own literacy...”

Albertoid says, "I still read novels, but mostly contemporary ones. Call me old-fashioned."

Ray says, "I reallk can't type either... I am the king of the typo~!"

Ray says, "Nicholson Baker..."

Albertoid says, "It's good to be king."

Ray says, "Roi, Ray, etc."

Albertoid says, "Haven't read him...”

Albertoid says, "... yet anyway."

Ray says, "... and "James" is 'wise'..."

Ray says, "I could not recommend "The Mezzanine" more... if you have not read it..."

Ray says, "So oddly we do have something in common with those reactionary anti-technology folks!”

Albertoid says, "Will try it. I need a new one."

Albertoid says, "Definitely"

Ray says, "We resist the video memo!"

Ray says, "LOL"

Albertoid says, "I have not seen a video memo to resist."

Ray says, "Can you imagine the degree of obfuscation possible in video?"

Albertoid says, "Are there any of the other questions or themes you like to tackle? "

Ray says, "It really is interesting that 'new media' has such an un-utilitarian bent..."

Ray says, "Last thoughts: can education technologies address the old wound that separates a communicative ethos from the aesthetic: Second Life, Distance Education, and Ethnography?"

Albertoid says, "That's what's cool about it, though it is ironic then that prof. writing as a field is the part of English Studies most committed to new media.”

Albertoid says, "Yes, in the sense that all sorts of motives for expression can find venues in new media.”

Ray says, "That was the final question on our list... yes, I am not sure what New Media has to do with professional writing beyond explanation... it could be great for some technical writing contexts...”

Albertoid says, "Well, I am thinking that there has been a shift in computers and writing as such toward technical/professional writing programs.”

Albertoid says, "Tech writing is surprisingly open to playful expression within the limits of specific situations."

Ray says, "I think we get back to the economy in this context, in the narrow sense. Again, the old liberal arts model is being squeezed out by a commercial model..."

Albertoid says, "Yes, and the literary historians are digging in their heels."

Ray says, "No one seems to want those old 'existential risks' of the liberal arts: move away from home, immerse yourself in difficult cultural challenges, become a new person..."

Albertoid says, "Creative writing is powerful in our dept. and there is exactly one writer out of the bunch who does anything other than type with a computer."

Ray says, "It hard to see that sort of resistance as anything but an anachronism..."

Ray says, "... a vestigial organ of English Studies...”

Albertoid says, "Some want that but they can't afford it. It was, after all, the leisure classes who could do that. Now you have to drop out and hit the road or something and read on your own. Many greats have done that—Kenneth Burke, Bob Dylan . . .”

Ray says, "Or they have been persuaded that they can't afford it... in both the existential and financial senses...”

Albertoid says, "The two are connected and risky unless you stay in academia . . ."

Ray says, "The modern age of this sort of risk-taking, though, began with the G.I. Bill... the liberal arts was, in many senses, built on the ashes of the world destroyed by WWII.. "

Ray says, "... and the great depression..."

Albertoid says, "I can't help but think that behind Bauerlein's complaints there lurks a conversion narrative: how reading saved me from becoming a boring ditch digger or a boring accountant..."

Ray says, "I agree. It's a certain lack of class imagination: he can't imagine an accountant who is happy with his or her books..."

Albertoid says, "... and he wants that for everyone. Everyone should be an English major and 'get' Dickens."

Ray says, "Right. Although that is the most dystopian reading... a utopian reading of the liberal arts (even if Bauerlien doesn't fit it) would say that education was to be a kind of liminal zone that prepared you for adulthood, citizenship, and so on. "

Ray says, "In that sense Dorris Lessing would be as appropriate as Charles Dickens..."

Albertoid says, "... or Amiri Baraka."

Ray says, "Exactly. I think that is what has to be regained... the sense that our culture cannot afford not to take this chance that we call the liberal arts...”

Albertoid says, "I am all for the liminal zone. But in reality, true liminality is very scary and relies on eventual resolution of a sort. "

Albertoid says, "I am beginning to see where you fit vis-a-vis Bauerlien and I think Slatin is in there somewhere."

Ray says, "I agree. I think John has that old liberal arts model which was by definition a form of resistance to commercial culture...”

Albertoid says, "I remember John realizing that you had to teach students how to compose effective hypertexts. You couldn't just lead them to the tech. This is what is missing from Bauerlien, little sense of the actual work being done in English studies with tech!"

Ray says, "It's a little perverse on my part, but I would like to read Bauerlien as a part of that tradition, rather than as a part of the reactionary, anti-technology mentality that we have both had to endure..."

Albertoid says, "Sure, it's about creative engagement with the world and critical acumen, and yes, love too.”

Albertoid says, "Well, feel free to read him that way, but I think's it more beneficial to 'write Ray' and read him instead. But I can see how you could use Bauerlien to get there....”

Ray says, "I agree. I may be giving Bauerlien too much credit— I can imagine some very careerist motivations for his position...”

Albertoid says, "Step on his head as it were."

Ray says, "On the shoulders of giants..."

Albertoid says, "Giant egos"

Ray says, "I think we have to find some common ground with the old-fashioned and slow... perhaps by formulating a shared anti-commercial culture pedagogy...”

Albertoid says, "John had that model but in a very important sense he left it behind in how he defined himself post-tenure at UT. He did not leave it behind in spirit but he chucked much of the reactionary ideology. "

Ray says, "That's why John's model is still relevant..."

Albertoid says, “The anti-commercialism is hard for me to understand. Supposing you wall that off, then what? "

Ray says, "The traditional notion is that capitalism is oriented around profit rather than people... I do think that in some sense the profit motive is in opposition to reflection, contemplation... the long view. The goal is to contextualize new communication technologies. The question is: Which among them is being used to pursue profit and which the reflective goals of education? "

Albertoid says, "OK, I see that. Maybe it is because I don't see a clear line between commercial forms of expression and other-than-profit motives."

Albertoid says, "An example is the many brilliant green "commercials" by activist groups on TV."

Ray says, "The line is shifty, a moving target...”

Albertoid says, "A recent one spoofs cleaning product ads against the 'greenwashing' of clean coal technology."

Ray says, "Right. There are a few commercials that we could develop a consensus about— as exploitative and so on— but most would be debatable..."

Albertoid says, "Vive le debate"

Ray says, "That one is done by the Cohen Brothers— "clean coal"!"

Albertoid says, “For real?"

Albertoid says, "Coens?"

Albertoid says, "as in Big Lebowski?"

Ray says, "Yes. Is that the spelling? "

Ray says, "LOL"

Ray says, "I told you I was La Roi."

Ray says, "And I had a uncle named Le Roy."

Albertoid says, "... yes that eez the speeling."

Albertoid says, "Ray LeRoi"

Ray says, "King King."

Albertoid says, "Is it not true that many so-called for-profit pieces can and should be used for reflective education?"

Ray says, "I personally would argue that, as of now, Titter is not on the side of contemplation!”

Albertoid says, "Is that a porn site?"

Ray says, "Oops.”

Albertoid bellows evilly.

Ray says, "I bet it is! (Twitter, I mean)"

Ray says, "But I could be persuaded otherwise, maybe..."

Albertoid says, "Maybe so. I don't twitter. What about 'just in time' learning?"

Albertoid says, "Bauerlien says that is all the web is good for, because we don't read it slow and sure like the turtle."

Ray says, "As in "just in time" inventory (Walmart, Home Depot)?"

Albertoid says, "Yup same metaphor."

Ray says, "I think he's wrong: I do read web sites fairly carefully, fairly often... it requires an effort, but it seems to me that it requires the same effort as trying to read a book carefully..."

Albertoid says, "OK, Mr anti-biz, what about The Onion, web version? "

Albertoid says, “I too read carefully online if that is my purpose."

Ray says, "I like the web version, but it's a little inconsistent..."

Albertoid says, "Well it's not that funny all the time, but it is for profit and so . . ."

Ray says, "Is Bauerlien saying that the Web technology itself prevents 'careful reading' or is he saying that we have to make a point of teaching 'careful reading'?”

Ray says, "I think he wants to say the latter but tends to slip into the former..."

Albertoid says, “Yes, he balmes student habits acquired outside class. He says the bad stats show that using it in class does not help, but I think it's much more complex than that."

Albertoid says, "blames"

Ray says, "He shouldn't balm students, that's sexual harassment..."

Albertoid says, "There be fallacious leaps and breaks in the causal linkages."

Albertoid says, "Maybe he can balm them on titter."

Ray says, "I do think that I have to teach 'against' some bad habits that students bring to the classroom... the 5 paragraph essay is a good example..."

Ray says, "Twitter is the opiate balm of the massess..."

Ray says, "In fact, I think the ability to move from 'quick' to 'slow' reading (and to know why you are doing it) has always been a part of what we want to teach...”

Albertoid says, "Sure."

Albertoid says, "The better students have mastered that move."

Ray says, "His argument is that the new forms of 'fast reading' tend to swamp the 'slow' reading we want them to do in the classroom, unless we teach students otherwise... How strong is that 'web habit'? Is it stronger than my old 'newspaper habit'? I am not sure...”

Albertoid says, “I thought about newspaper reading when Bauerlien discusses web reading. Seems similar. I skim first and then read carefully what really concerns me, if there's time."

Ray says, "On the other hand, again, I am sure that the available texts are laced with a kind of hyper-commercialism that was not characteristic of, say, the traditional newspaper..."

Albertoid says, "I sense that lurking behind Bauerlien's argument is Postman's assertion that entertainment is anathema to education (of a sort).”

Ray says, "MySpace (perhaps more than FaceBook) is more 'commercial' than my old-fashioned, no-Google ad blog, too...”

Albertoid says, "Many newspapers are now remediating the computer screen. So many delicious ironies, so little time."

Albertoid says, "I have been told that MySpace is now booty call."

Ray says, "LOL."

Ray says, "I wonder if the issue is less the 'entertainment' value of education and more the 'pleasure.'"

Ray says, "To me, pleasure connotes all sorts of 'slow reading' values, like 'satisfaction'...”

Albertoid says, "Bauerlien could get with that, but, again, it is a troubled distinction. Postman saw learning as pain of various sorts, so anything that made learning appear less painful was bad. Of course he's dead...”

Albertoid says, "... but his ghost lingers on."

Albertoid says, "Somewhere John Slatin is doing battle with him."

Ray says, "Grades are perhaps the best example..."

Albertoid says, "Example of?"

Ray says, "Grades are the 'main pain' of traditional education, I think, in several senses..."

Ray says, "The analogy is to physical training, right? 'No pain, no gain.'"

Albertoid says, "Grades are the main economic metric."

Albertoid says, "Yes, but isn't playing wallyball hard training that is fun?"

Ray says, "Would you hurt afterwards?"

Albertoid says, "if you hit the wall."

Albertoid says, "Nowadays pain is seen as a bad sign, post-workout. Should we apply this to reading/writing etc?"

Ray says, "The point, I guess, is that the pain is a side-effect rather than a necessary part of the activity... If you played enough, less or no pain..."

Ray says, "I guess that you do have to 'sacrifice' time in order to learn to write... And some parts of the process are less pleasant than others..."

Albertoid says, "Well OK, but I think so long as we are involved with war metaphors of surrendering to tech, the battle between deep old reading and new skimming etc., then we are on the wrong track."

Ray says, "I agree. The battle is between short-term, narrowly self-interested culture and thinking and a broader, more flexible ideal...”

Ray says, "... or the 'struggle,' if that eliminates the macho war metaphor...”

Albertoid says, “I like that distinction. It makes me think of 'sustainability' as the latter value. "

Albertoid says, "'Struggle' does not eliminate the sense of crisis. How long can we revise the crisis trope?"

Ray says, "I was thinking of climate change too... it's a kind of cultural sustainability..."

Ray says, "I know the crisis trope is overused, but it might be accurate at this point...”

Albertoid says, "yes, that is broad, and has its own definition issues, but is powerful and brings us back to slow food which is all about sustainability, but also communion. "

Ray says, "We might use 'reproduction' as in 'reproduction of a sustainable culture...' "

Albertoid says, "why 're'?"

Ray says, "The passing of this culture from one generation to the next..."

Ray says, "... even if you saw this culture as in perpetual creation..."

Albertoid says, "I too feel the gaps, but this is nothing new. Every generation . . .”

Ray says, "I think that certain forms of knowledge are cumulative... Two generations ago we did not know enough— even in a strictly physical sense— to create a sustainable culture. Even now, we don't quite know enough, but we do have a sense of direction. In that sense this is a new definition of the aims of education. "

Albertoid hears a demented cackle from outside the room.

Ray says, "Time for Albertoid says to eat lunch..."

Ray says, "This is probably a good stopping point...”

Ray says, "I'm hungry too!"

Albertoid says, "Why does sustainable culture evoke canons that are famously always in play. Or it that the point?"

Ray says, "If the emphasis is on 'cannon' then no; if it's on 'always in play' then yes..."

Albertoid says, "Maybe 'always in play' is a good way to end this."

Ray says, "A plug for your book!"

Albertoid says, "It needs a plug for that big hole in it."

Ray says, "Be nice to your child!"

Albertoid pushes plug into book hole.

Albertoid says, "bye now!"

Albertoid says waves and heads for the exit.

Ray says, "See ya!"

The housekeeper arrives to remove Ray.


1. Albert Rouzie graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. Since then he has taught in the English department at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. His courses range from undergraduate composition, research writing, and literature to graduate seminars in computers and composition and rhetorical theories. More recently, Rouzie has been teaching an environmentally-themed advanced composition course. His book, At Play in the Fields of Writing: A Serio-Ludic Rhetoric was published in 2005 by Hampton Press in Selfe and Hawisher's series, New Dimensions in Computers and Composition. More information can be found at

2. Ray Watkins graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999. He has taught at Temple University and, Eastern Illinois University before moving into full time online teaching. Currently he teaches an occasionally online class with Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth and is a fulltime faculty member in the English Department at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division. He has taught undergraduate composition, advanced composition, and professional writing as well as graduate seminars in the history of Rhetoric and Composition. He currently specializes in online developmental writing courses. His book, A Taste for Language: Literacy, Class, and English Studies will be published in November of 2009 by Southern Illinois University Press, in the Studies in Writing and Rhetoric series, edited by Joe Harris. More information can be found at

Works Cited

Bauerlein, Mark. "CULTURED: REPN TRI to the FULLEST!!!" Education Next. 8.3 (Summer 2008).

————. "Online Literacy Is a Lesser Kind." The Chronicle Review. Sept. 19, 2008.

Guillory, John. Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation. Chicago: U. of Chicago P., 1993.

Lanham, Richard. The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts. Chicago: U. of Chicago P, 1993.

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