Tag Archives: ExamNotes

Brooks, Kevin, Kathleen Blake Yancey, and Mark Zachry. “Developing Doctoral Programs in the Corporate University: New Models.” Profession (2002): 89-103. Print.

The authors present a new model for doctoral studies which fuses several (many) traditional courses of study, allowing students to shape their own graduate education according to their degree plans under the scope of a doctorate in Professional Communication. Other programs are skeptical, citing significant overlap with other, already existing programs. The narratives also recount other degree programs’ incredulity at a Department of English offering a doctoral degree in Professional Communication, with the idea that other departments’ specialists were more advanced and better equipped to handle students seeking such a degree.

Literature faculty were also hesitant because of the challenges it would present for faculty relationships and because of the perceived adherence to the corporatization of the academy. In [what is the three letter acronym that signaled a corporate structure in the university???], there were cost-benefit analyses, etc. Buying into all of that by offering a more “practical” degree in Professional Communication was a threat to the old vanguard who still harbor a desire to pursue “true” liberal arts learning as it has been historical defined in Departments of English. So, the narrators ran into a host of problems with the pursuit of these degrees, and each met varying successes and pitfalls along the way.

The schools were Utah (Zachry), Clemson (Yancey), and North Dakota State (Brooks).

A question of mine, with the idea that graduate students would be able to design their own course of study, I jotted “really? who really knows what their degree plans are at the outset of grad school?” A lot do, I understand, but just as many if not more do not. If you look at the narratives of rhetoric and composition scholars (like David Bartholomae does in in Bizzaro’s essay), many weren’t sure exactly what they were getting themselves into at the outset of graduate school.

Possible threads to pick up from: Stephen North’s Refiguring the PhD in English Studies

Profession 1996 Mark A Johnson “asserts that graduates of English doctoral programs can find successful and fulfilling work in corporate America. Rejecting the idea that English departments produce too many doctorates, Johnson suggests that English PhDs have the research, information management, and communication skills that a variety of industries (although predominantly software) value.

Battelle, J. (2005). The birth of Google. Wired, 13.08. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.08/battelle.html

Google was the brainchild of Sanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who named the software googol, the name for the number one followed by 100 zeroes.

Unlike search engines that ranked results by keyword, Page and Brin’s system ranked results by the amount of links at each site. This mechanism privileged sites with more links, making them more “important” in search. The students cobbled equipment together in their dorm rooms and offices to service Stanford with PageRank, which regularly brought down Stanford’s internet connection in the fall of 1996.

Barlow, J.P. (1996, February 8). A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Retrieved from https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html

John Perry Barlow was a libertarian who helped write lyrics for the Grateful Dead and who was involved in shaping the political identity of cyberspace in the early 90s. He published an essay titled “The Economy of Ideas” in a 1994 issue of Wired magazine and his declaration of independence in 1996. The Declaration, which was widely distributed after its publication and was both celebrated and strongly critiqued, is described about a decade later as Barlow’s “Thomas Jefferson moment” in a 2004 interview with Brian Doherty of Reason Magazine.

In this interview, he explains that his political philosophy was one of passivity; that his beliefs centered around the idea that taking care of oneself and raising consciousness was better than confronting authority directly. He changed his mind at the beginning of the 2000s, saying in this interview that civil liberties were in grave danger. He joined the Democratic party in hopes of confronting what he saw as issues very damaging to intellectual property and a free society.

Copyright and intellectual property are the most important issues now. If you don’t have something that assures fair use, then you don’t have a free society.

If all ideas have to be bought, then you have an intellectually regressive system that will ensure you have a highly knowledgable elite and an ignorant mass.

In explaining his comments on how Microsoft was operating an information monopoly, he said,

Anytime you engage with information, the reality that you extract from that information is shaped bu the tools that deliver it.”

This statement supports what I am trying to demonstrate and articulate in these exams.

Barlow’s Declaration was hailed by many triumphantly, but it was also called “hogwash” by critics who viewed Barlow with skepticism as an idealogical hippie who was out of touch with the economic and political realities of the internet. His lifelong fight for the freedom of information online, however, has played an important role in helping define (and relax) boundaries around the free exchange of knowledge on the internet.

Ding, W., & Lin, X. (2010). Information Architecture: The Design and Integration of Information Spaces. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

Wei Ding and Xia Lin’s book was borne out of the content of their graduate classes on Information Architecture, and is “conveniently divided” into ten chapters for use during the ten weeks of an academic quarter. It offers a broad, basic introduction to the fledgling field of Information Architecture (IA), User Centered Design (UCD), and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

The term Information Architecture was coined by Richard Wurman in the early 1970s – he saw it as gathering, organizing, and presenting information. According to Ding and Lin, the main goals of IA are to simplify info; design and integrate information spaces; and create ways for people to find and interact with informational content. Primarily, they claim, IA’s primary aim is to help people understand and manage information and “make right decisions.”

The authors emphasize that balance must be sought between user control and design, and that meeting user needs should always be the ultimate goal. They are careful to point out that even though the user is the center of focus, this does not mean ignoring business goals and market opportunities.

A successful Information Architect is able to align business goals with user needs.

The most useful parts of this book focused on user behavior online, citing several important theories which explain how and why users behave the ways they do on the web. Zipf’s Law, which essentially explains that users will always take the path of least resistance, is foundational in UCD online, as it helps to tailor the ways IAs organize content. Fitts’ Law teaches IAs to make buttons large and to keep them near in proximity to other, related buttons and icons to maximize the potential for users maximum benefit.

The 80/20 rule is brought up here – the authors mention that 20% of the sources can generally be counted upon to provide 80% of the info. This ties right in with Barabasi’s Linked, and offers an explanation for the rich-get-richer phenomenon discussed in that text.