Symposium Blogweave – via, RSS, javascript…

Irregular readers of this cozy lovenest of ed tech subversion may recall my participation in the recent Tronti weblog symposium. As expected, my own submission was more than a bit goofy, and barely relevant, but it was fun to do.

Soon after, activity started to crank up around a similar symposium concerning Gayatri Spivak. This time, I wisely stayed clear of the writing, instead limiting my participation to working with Jon to develop a framework for aggregating the postings of the various participants. I had liked the Tronti Blogweave that emerged from the previous symposium, and wondered if we might create a similar effect in real time, with a few added goodies.

Ultimately, my role was to get Jon and Enej talking with one another, and letting the wunderkind work his magic.

I am quite pleased with how the Carnival of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak turned out. The page mimics the Long Sunday weblog design. We set up a designated account, which we used to flag all relevant web documents. Formal contributions to the symposium from the various weblogs were marked with the tag “posts” to be featured in the main page section. Background readings were flagged with “texts” and given their own section on the sidebar. Below that, “The Wire” is a set of feeds remixed by aggRSSive displaying other relevant items, as well as any bookmarks from outside the symposium that were tagged with “spivakfest”. We had intended to cast a wider net for items on The Wire (with Technorati or items tagged with terms such as “postcolonialism”) but there were issues with redundancy and noise. Finally, Enej inserted code for the in-site tagcloud so there is a pretty nifty tag-based index on the bottom-left sidebar (try it out).

There were a few hiccups, in part due to some issues with the aggRSSive server. But it wasn’t a bad experiment overall. I haven’t been able to follow the symposium nearly as closely as I would like, but Jon’s summary provides a fine overview, and some interesting thoughts on this emergent form of scholarly discourse:

…the solution to whatever impasse that had existed turned out to be not some kind of consensus, a search for agreement or to set others “straight” in reading the same text. Rather, what has been most interesting has been the ways what’s been dynamic and productive about the symposium has been its heterogeneity, the fact that we might be rather unexpectedly faced with arguments about matters culinary at one moment, cat-blogging the next; bicycles at speed colliding with observations on heteronormativity; libidinal speculation alongside anecdotage.

I’m hoping to revamp and reuse this presentation format for future weblog-based courses in the future. I’d also love to see what the edu-blogger community might do with a weblog symposium of our own. Consider yourselves warned…

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