This blog was created in 2014 for an course in Rhetoric I took while an undergraduate at George Mason University. I’m resurrecting the blog for a different purpose that better aligns to its original name and my continual pursuit for revelation for authentic living. So, consider this blog redirected.

Oh, and happy dependence day! Today, I declare afresh my dependence upon Christ. I’m so excited about leaping deeper into the mystery of Christ within me. My world is changing for the better and for those around me.

Thoughts on My Final Project

My final project is on content marketing. Specifically, on developing a successful content marketing strategy for a friend who is starting a new speaking, teaching, and coaching business.  I had planned to write a paper only on the elements of such, incorporating an explanation/discussion/compare and contrast of rhetorical elements.  But, after research and writing my paper, I found that I didn’t really find anything new.  So, I hope to actually develop a content marketing strategy to accompany the paper, something to make it a bit weightier.  We’ll see…

Thoughts on the Figure Running Project- On Home

For my Figure Running project, I mapped out the word “home” in the neighborhood I grew up in and am currently living in.  I felt that the meaning of home has changed for me.  This is the same “home” I was raised in and now, as an adult, this is where I live again, after having lived on my own for a considerable amount of time.

Figure Running Project- On "Home"
Figure Running Project- On “Home” Presented 10/29/14

Transition isn’t easy most times, but if you can yield yourself to it and remain teachable in the process, you grow in the direction of maturity and wisdom, which aren’t automatic products of aging.  I say this because, for me, redefining “home” forced me to focus on memories of my childhood, including memories of my neighborhood elementary school and middle school that are in my neighborhood, and even memories surrounding the construct of “me” rooted in hidden but real beliefs created against the backdrop of my family’s organization, beliefs, culture, and history.

As I have grown from a child to an adult on her own to now an adult living in her parents’ home, I realized that not only do I see “home” differently, I also see my parents differently.  Life’s a process in which you get to change your mind if you are open to it.  I must admit, I wasn’t looking to really learn anything from this project.  But, I did because I was able to reflect upon and see with more clarity what “home” means to me today and how it’s evolved.

Thoughts on Tim O’Reilly’s “Algorithmic Regulation”

I liked this article.  I got excited to hear how regulations can be useful once rightfully applied.  At the heart of this article, I hear the author calling for a rethinking of how our government applies laws and regulations.  I love it!  I guess I love it because I have experienced jobs where desired outcomes were prioritized below keeping the status quo of ineffective rules and policies that seemed to rule only by the exception.  Algorithmic data could help assess the real need and effective regulations for those needs.

I think that data is only as good as its impact upon its source.  Focusing on desired outcomes is what good project management is made of.  You have to know your desired end before you can take any steps toward it.  Using algorithmic data presents a new level in regulation in that it will account for change in a way that static regulations or regulations without built-in checks and balances cannot. I like the idea of creating thoughtful regulations and then inherent regulations within the regulations to monitor its impact and efficacy.  But, all of this takes time and money- both of which many, especially government agencies- are always in need of.  It seems to me, however, to be a worthwhile investment in the longterm.

Thoughts on Carolyn Miller’s “What Can Automation Tell Us About Agency?”

I found this article and the topic very interesting.  I define agency as having both potential and kinetic energy- it is a force that is, morphs, and becomes. I believe that agency creates agents, and that the audience has its own agency, as an entity, with its ability to attribute agency.  This creates an interdependent agency that is introduced by the rhetor’s performance and sustained by and through the interaction from the relationship between the rhetor and his/her audience.  If an automated machine is the only audience, although a relationship will be created, there will be an imbalance because of unrealized potential in the interaction.

I find it hard to believe that the act of grading a student’s writing or speaking assignment is rhetorical at all. The highest and most desirable goal of a student’s assignment isn’t to influence an audience; it’s to meet the requirements of the assignment to achieve the highest grade possible, while learning something along the way.  Of course, the exception is when the assignment is to influence an audience.  Then, the feedback of the audience is paramount in determining if the goal of the assignment is reached.  How can a computer alone accomplish this?  By keyword? By measuring intensity of tone or volume of voice?  Although computers may be able to do this, I question who well a computer vs. a human can best determine an argument’s rhetorical value.

So, why would Miller compare a situation of a rhetor and his/her audience against a rhetor and an automated system that is purposed with grading input? As time goes on computers and related technologies are presenting themselves smarter and smarter.  Even with this, I would suggest that the potential for rhetoric in automated assessments are greatly minimized as Miller herself acknowledges the possibility of low rhetorical effectivity when states in her article that, “[t]he concern for agency might seem misplaced, or futile, since rhetoric under the conditions of placement testing or class room performance strikes many of us as having minimal agentive potential.” (pg 6 of 22).  Yet, she still continues to explore the potential for agency attribution because it is worth being explored.

Now, if the context is different, then the argument for automated assessments as having rhetorical agency may gain a little traction.  A news anchor has minimal to no audience present and is filmed by cameras. Those cameras, in this instance, are not considered an audience, but is considered a medium, which then makes the interaction between the anchor and his/her eventual audience a rhetorical one.  But, if a newscast is taped and not shown, where is the rhetoric and how is the impact quantified?

I came across a blog that, while reviewing Miller’s article, provided some insight from a study done at the Virginia Tech CommLab in 2011 and 2012:

During the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters, VT CommLab coaches tested the overall success rate—success being defined by VT public speaking instructors according to guidelines set forth in the discipline—of a speech given by a student with 1) an audience present and 2) the absence of the audience. Both variables were tested and scored via communication lab coaches and public speaking instructors. In all of the scenarios, the experiment uncovered a common finding: The speaker does not execute public speaking, in its traditional nature, when a video camera replaces the audience. One instructor’s comments (W25) from Miller’s study reflects a similar opinion to those found in the VT experiment: “To grade via computer takes away one of the hardest parts of public speaking: the public part” (141). Although the recorded speeches in the VT CommLab were not scored via an automated system, the student speakers in the VT CommLab experiment did not perform their speeches with an audience present.

The CommLab study found that students were less likely to engage in their speech if performing it to a camera rather than an audience. By eliminating the audience, student speakers often lost sight of some important speech-making techniques, such as posture, body language, non-verbal cues, and additional speech strategies. Miller respondents mention the “‘engagement’ with audience in both writing and speaking,’ and that the “very notion of computer assessments would negate that idea” (141). The VT CommLab coaches and public speaking professors noted a significant change in student performance solely due to the presence or lack of the audience during the time the speech was performed.

So, in a nutshell, I believe that automation tells us that agency is an entity that can only be attributed by those who can identify it as such.

in pursuit of revelation