Digital democracy & American anti-intellectualism: Part II

by J.C. Caruso

Last week I wrote a post about some of the challenges we face in a digital age where expertise and authority seem to be under constant attack, but I’d like to follow that up here by exploring this issue from a slightly different angle.

What I see as the crux of our current challenge is this: how can we ensure that the digital democratization of human knowledge does not become mired in the same anti-intellectualism that has for so long been a hallmark of our American democracy?


Drowning in Digital Democracy: Part I

By J.C. Caruso

It’s become commonplace, and maybe even a little passé, to describe our own ongoing digital revolution as analogous the advent of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century.  Indeed, some points of comparison do continue to seem remarkably apt.  For example, the role of printed documents in spreading new ideas during the Reformation looks a lot like activists using Facebook and Twitter to share news and schedule protests during the Arab Spring.  Both show how technology can be a powerful force for democratization.  (Apologies if I’m stepping on any toes by seeming to valorize the Reformation as a positively democratic movement on the blog of a Catholic university, but you know what I mean.)


A kind of dark beauty: art, melancholia & narrative

Art alum Dawn Roe has an exhibition — Goldfields – at The White Box at the University of Oregon in Portland. In her words, here is the story behind Goldfields, as well as the ideas that permeate and prompt her work.

by Dawn Roe

This work came into being during my time as Artist-in-Residence at the Visual Arts Centre of LaTrobe University in Bendigo, VIC, Australia. I arrived in the region (known as The Goldfields) without a preconceived idea about what I might do while there, so these intersections between the opposing perspectives of indigenous and colonial settler narratives, pastoral landscape representations, folklore and myth, became a kind of starting point for the project.  I was very conscious of the fact that I was an outsider to this space and not personally tied to its history.  But at the same time, I did feel an affinity to the bushlands in the same way most of us have a familiar response to the forest in general, largely due to the myths that permeate these spaces – both folkloric and personal.  So I chose to simply respond to the space while considering these layers, thinking equally about how various interactions within the region impacted the landscape both physically and metaphorically – the gold mining being paramount of course, but also the very rich indigenous narratives that remain overwhelmingly present in the form of rock formations, lookout points and the myths attached to natural fauna, birds and other animals.


Lower your daily dose

by Jo Jenner

Faced with the diagnoses of infertility, my sister’s solution was to remove daily doses of toxins.  Her hormones did return to natural levels, which facilitated her successful pregnancy and birth of my nephew. These success stories of regained health are common and attributed to limiting the chemicals brought into the home and, ultimately, our bodies.


On the domestication of torture: a critical review of Zero Dark Thirty

by David Denny

The critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated Zero Dark Thirty directed by Kathryn Bigelow has generated a firestorm of commentary and debate surrounding the depiction of torture as the cause of finding Osama bin Laden. The debate can be summed up in the following way: Either the film is A), a brilliant cinematic feat in boldly and unsparingly telling the story of the killing Osama bin Laden in the vein of a detective procedural that takes that genre to a new level of sophistication, especially in terms of the way it utilizes cinema-verite (a documentary, hand held camera) to dramatize the story, or B), the film deploys these same cinematic techniques to captivate the viewer, to keep us on the edge of our seats, for the purpose of not necessarily informing us of ‘what really happened’ but of entertaining us, and therein effectively, even if perhaps unwittingly, endorsing the use of torture as a necessary means to a triumphant end.


Student reflection: pursuing the dream of college

by BreeAnna Bender

The year 2008 was a very difficult year for me and my young family. My husband was injured at work, which made me the sole provider for my family. In addition to raising my two young children and working full-time, I decided it was time to change my life. Only I didn’t know how.

I had always wanted a college education, but I felt it was out of my reach. My reality was filled with children, work and everyday life. How on earth was I going to find time to go back to school? As if someone was reading my mind, a commercial for Marylhurst University came on the television. It spoke of a university that catered to the needs of working-adult students who lead busy lives, but that wasn’t what made me jump on my computer as soon as the commercial was over.

They had a degree in English Literature and Writing.


Cross-post: Applause, Please

by Sean Michael Morris

| How can I hear my own voice unless it bounces off of yours?

This is the question with which Anna Smith begins her Digital Writing Month blog post, “Your Voice in Mine.” And it is the driving question behind audience in the digital world. Unlike print publishing, when an audience is not always assumed, digital composition relies on audience at the level of its very conception. When we write online, we never write to ourselves. Rather, we write as part of a massive flow of information and culture (information that is also culture, indistinguishable from it). We write — whether we do so for an active audience, a passive one, or an unknown one — as part of something larger that’s being written all the time all around us. Finding our place in it is often a matter of discovering who’s listening to us, whose voices our own voices bounce off.


The learning relationships of online education

by Eileen Schiffer

I often think of my role in the educational process. I take my responsibilities seriously and am firmly committed to making a meaningful contribution to the university and to my students. At least equally, though (probably more), I’m cognizant of how very much I gain, personally and professionally, from my relationships with the school, my colleagues and my students. While it may seem obvious that each of us in this triad has an impact on the others, in the midst of the daily demands of teaching and learning, we likely take few opportunities to consciously reflect on our reciprocal responsibilities and benefits.


A Slanted View

by Simon Tam

I play bass in what’s often known as the first and only all-Asian American dance rock band in the world. We perform at many of the largest Asian cultural festivals in North America. We’ve been featured in and on over 1,500 radio stations, websites, magazines, and tv shows talking about the Asian American experience. My band members and I often facilitate workshops on cultural diversity, racism, and stereotypes about Asian and Asian American culture. In fact, when you look up information on the band, it’s hard to find anything that doesn’t associate us with Asian American culture, which is why when the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) said that our band was disparaging to persons of Asian descent, I was rather shocked.


Of cliffs, taxes and community

by Barry Bennett

At 9:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, after almost a year of Congressional avoidance and posturing, we skidded to a stop at the very edge of the fiscal cliff. Or at least an agreement of sorts was reached. Having averted the possibly catastrophic alternative, we can look back from the edge and marvel at our political system’s astonishing ability to turn the trivial into the phantasmagoric, as it did when it debated which tiny number of Americans—families making over $250,000, $600,000, or $1,000,000—should be subject to a modest tax increase. The magic figure of $450,000, together with various other compromises, led to a deal at the not-quite eleventh hour.