“Selectable Output Control”: The video proposal

I saw this video on BoingBoing last week:

I think this is a perfect example of a video proposal argument, the kind that students should be making to connect their work in the classroom with the outside world.

FISA flowchart and alternatives to proposal arguments

So many writing and rhetoric assignments require students to write proposal arguments responding to issues in their schools or communities. While instructors often imagine that these arguments will end up being published somewhere where they will actually have an impact on the community in question, in my experience this rarely happens. For whatever reason, students rarely take the time to polish and submit their work; to get them to take this step, instructors often have to make submission a course requirement, which is an iffy pedagogical move.

I said all that to say this: I wonder if a project like this one outlining the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in a flowchart might be a better means of achieving the goal of civic engagement that the proposal argument is supposed to fulfill. Perhaps the problem with proposal arguments in that they often feel artificial. Students have to dream up a project which they may or may not care about, and then translate that project for publication, a time-consuming task that requires a lot of interest on the part of the author. Consider this alternative: taking a difficult idea or concept and explaining it more clearly in another medium. The project’s usefulness—both on its own and as a skill that will be helpful to students outside the classroom—explains itself, and it can be published immediately online. I’m currently preparing for my fall Computers and Writing course, and I’m seriously considering having my students do something like this for a major assignment.

link Ketchup and Caviar (via Boing Boing)

Irish comics wiki

panel from The Ulster Cycle web comicThose of you interested in comics and/or graphic novels and Irish literature should find the The Irish Comics Wiki to be a useful resource. From the wiki:

There are lots of Irish comics creators out there, from people starting out to wizened veterans. I’m hoping that people can share information, for the betterment of Irish comics. Also, I‘m sure there are people with some knowledge about the history of Irish comics and underground press. It would be great to bring that to light.

I’m not very familiar with the Irish comics scene, but the site links to some great-looking comics. The panel to the right comes from The Ulster Cycle, a web comic based on Irish mythology by Patrick Brown (who also appears to be the creator of the wiki).

via Caricatures Ireland

New pedagogy article: Tim Turner on “Visual Rhetoric and Propaganda”

propaganda posterTim Turner has posted a new pedagogical article, “Visual Rhetoric and Propaganda,” in viz.’s assignments section. The article explains why rhetoric instructors should teach their students about the methods of propagandists, and outlines a course unit based on the topic. In the article, he argues that conversations about the use of visuals in propaganda

are useful because they illuminate for students a range of rhetorical possibilities, including the fact that “bad” arguments can be quite influential and that modes of persuasion cannot (and should not) be divorced from ethical considerations. From this perspective, discussions of propaganda may also be useful in that they help illuminate discussions of the fallacies of argument (in which case, “bad” is taken to mean specious, illogical, or poorly reasoned). But discussions of propaganda may also lead to discussions of the ethical dimensions of persuasion (in which case “bad” is taken to mean ethically or morally suspect).


If you teach rhetoric and technology, you might be interested in “Googolopoly,” a version of the classic Parker Bros. game that charts the search giant’s quest for web-wide domination.

FYI: Rich Uncle Pennybags’ pitchfork is a clue that the creators are ambivalent about Google’s quest to “organize” your data and “make it universally accessible and useful.”

Googolopoly board

Those of you who have time to kill in during these last few weeks of class can download the entire game here.

via TechCrunch

Visual resistance

While scrolling through HollaBackNYC, a site that allows users to post pictures of those that harass them on the street, I came across two websites that seemed like great visual rhetoric resources. The Just Seeds Visual Resistance Artists' Cooperative offers a blog, resources, as well as information about current projects and artists. The picture below comes from a 2004 project from the Street Art Workers entitled "Whose Media?" You can also find archived material from the group's previous website here.
Just wanted to share!

Poster from Street Art Workers 2004

Recontextualizing images

The blog garfield minus garfield contains some wonderful examples of the ways in which images can be recontextualized to create new meanings. According to the site

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?

Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let’s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against lonliness and methamphetamine addiction in a quiet American suburb.

Garfield minus Garfield: I'm an empty grocery sack

Garfield minus Garfield: It was horrible I barely escaped with my life

Garfield the strip is mostly lame; but, by removing the dull main character, the strip is completely transformed. I particularly enjoy the empty panels, and the effect their silence has on the meaning of each strip.

Holocaust Awareness Week

Many of you may have seen the story in the New York Times yesterday about a comic that has been introduced in Germany to teach students about the Holocaust. (A brief portion from an English translation appears below.) This week, 25 Feb. through 2 Mar., is actually Holocaust Awareness Week, so some attention is being paid to issues surrounding the teaching of the Holocaust in this and other countries. More examples, after the jump.

German holocaust-awareness comic

Photography and Kairos

Continuing with the recent trend of discussing the fallacies of photography, as well as pictures with guns in them:
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin holding assault rifle

Images of the Statue of Liberty in science fiction

Gerry Canavan has posted a collection of images of the Statue of Liberty taken from science fiction stories and films.
Fantastic Universe, August-September 1953 cover Statue of Liberty in sand

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