I’ve been thinking lately about how I look and sound to different people. In a lot of ways that’s nothing new–in 7th grade I wanted a Hornets Starter jacket even though I’d never seen a Hornets game–but in terms of academic projects, it’s rather new to me. That’s just what happens as you move toward academics-as-job instead of just academics-as-school: people read your stuff. And different people naturally respond differently.
So, here’s how I would describe my 3 main projects these days to different groups of people. All are true, but it’s most true when you see them all lined up together.
Agency in the Age of Peer Production
- To friends, family: Some colleagues and I at USF are writing a book about how to help teachers feel empowered to be creative, especially by using online tools.
- To writing program administrators: We’re interested in the ways agency can be both individual and collective, and how writing programs can structure both online and face-to-face programs that allow (and rein in, when appropriate) that agency.
- To leaders in business, nonprofits, and other fields: We suggest practical ways to help members of a group be creatively empowered yet remain part of a group.
- To friends, family: I’m surveying and interviewing people who do cool creative work online. Like, you know people who make videos and music and games and write fan fiction? I’m asking them about what they do. Open-ended questions.
- To scholars: I’m especially interested in the rhetorical and compositional moves that composers have in mind as they compose “derivative” (or archontic) works that they know may be remixed again by other fans. I’d also like to hear their thoughts on ownership and intellectual property, since composing of any kind (even/especially academic essay writing) brings up so many different opinions (and occasionally, harsh emotions) on that tricky subject.
- To fans: I want to hear what you do when you create fan compositions. I don’t want to be a jerk like other fan scholars so often are! I just want to hear you describe yourself in your own words to keep me from the danger of assuming something that isn’t true.
- To family, friends: I want to know what students do when they do research and when they incorporate research into their essays and other college work.
- To scholars: I’m especially interested in how students find and integrate sources in multimodal compositions, and how that is or isn’t similar to their methods when approaching more traditional academic essays. The metaphor of the remix seems especially powerful when we’re talking about multimodal compositions–and when you start down that road, all composing begins to seem like remixing.
- To students: I don’t want to tell you that your instincts when finding sources are wrong or anything. But I want to know how you find stuff for your college work so that I can be a better teacher in the future and help others be better teachers.