Academic Cypher

In hip hop culture, the cypher is a circle of MCs, B-boys/B-girls, beatboxers, etc who freestyle and/or battle one after the other without interruption, exchanging rhymes and flows back and forth or around. The cypher is where training takes place and skills are tested, where people collaborate, and where people create "off the top" or written/choreographed, tapping into the place where thought and action come together to share energy and advance the craft...the Academy should aim to do the same.

Tag: Bateson

MindMap #10: Ecologies

This week’s mind map made me regret the week by week layout of my mind map. The week by week mapping has forced me to circle back to the top in order to connect to weeks that are on the opposite side of the screen. Anyhow, I added the following nodes: niche, Frankentheory, ecology of composition/writing process, and distribution,emergence, embodiment, and enaction.

I connected most of these nodes to CHAT, ANT, and Ecologies. These stood out to me because I see Syversons reworking or re-framing of the writing process as being similar to the remapping of the rhetorical canon done by Prior et al. I also felt that this Frankentheory approach was similar to ANT. Actor Network Theory pulls from a variety of areas. It is interdisciplinary even though it centers on re-framing sociology. As I’m writing this, I feel I should have made a node that said re-framing. It seems that much of what we have done in the course focused on re-framing existing ideas or theories flattening them and removing any binaries or dichotomies.

I think these things jumped out at me because I am starting to think that Snapchat may require a Frankentheory approach because the conversations about Snapchat continually frame it as something that it is not, so much so that everyone has just accepted this new conversation as the truth. I think I want to push back against that.

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Reading Notes #9: Ecology Systems

This week’s readings on ecologies was a bit overwhelming. Guattari’s argument is an advancement of Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind. I was delighted to find that Guattari’s The Three Ecologies was much shorter than I thought. However, this delight shifted to sadness upon realizing that Guattari’s work centered on the deterioration of human life and society.  He states that the “techno-scientific transformation” has led to “ecological disequilibrium.” Guattari points out social and political issues, oppositions between East-West, and tensions between men and women.  He argues for ecosophy (ecology and philosophy). Ecosophy would examine and complex interactions between the three ecologies of mind, society, and the environment. The three ecologies are interconnected. So, there is not one approach to tackle world issues. The ecosophy aims to provide a new way of examining the world in hopes of creating a balanced society and protected environment. .

This quote captured Guattari’s argument:

“Rather than remaining subject, in periphery, to the seductive efficiency of economy competition, we must reappropriate Universes of value, so that processes of singularisation can rediscover their consistency. We need new social and aesthetic  practices, new practices of the Self in relation to the other, to the foreign, the strange – a whole programme that seems far removed from current concerns. And yet, ultimately, we will only escape from the major crises of our era through the articulation of a nascent subjectivity, a constantly mutating socius, [and] an environment in the process of being reinvented” (45).

Guattari’s work was illuminated by the definition of ecology provided by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Ecology is defined as “[t]he scientific study of the processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms, the interactions among organisms, and the interactions between organisms and the transformation and flux of energy and matter.”  What stood out to me most about this definition, and connected to Guattari, are the focus on ecology as a process, and the focus on the interactions and relations among the organisms.  This is not focused on a linear/structured view of ecology.  This is a dynamic view the includes the organisms and the environment.

This was a nice build up to Margaret Syverson’s “Introduction: What is an Ecology of Composition” in The Wealth of Reality: An Ecology of Composition. This is my favorite thing so far this semester. I wish I had read this earlier in the term to gain a clearer sense of applying a theory of network to an object not traditionally seen as a network. This also helped me to understand Frakentheory.

Syverson defines ecology as a “set of interrelated and interdependent complex systems” (5).  The ecology of complex system is “a network of independent agents—people, atoms, neurons, or molecules,” that “act and interact with each other, simultaneously reacting to and co-constructing their own environment” (3).  Syverson identifies four attributes of the ecological systems: distribution, emergence, embodiment, and enact ion.

What I liked most about Syverson’s work is that she aimed to push composition beyond the rhetorical triangle (writer, text, and audience). She argues, “[T]hese traditions often ignore the psychological, social, temporal or physical dimensions of writing.” This approach illuminated the limitations of the traditional conceptions of the rhetorical situation presented by Bitzer and Vatz.


This examination of ecology system is pushing me to examine Snapchat from a different perspective. I have been looking at rhetorical activity and then levels of activity. Most of the conversation focuses on Snapchat as a social network rather than a messaging application. After this week’s readings, I am thinking that maybe I could return to the composition aspect of Snapchat but in terms of ecology system instead of rhetorical activity system. Snapchats role in social media also plays apart in the ecology system. This could work in regards to how Snapchat fits within the social, temporal, and physical dimensions of composing a snap.

Stages of Social Network Adoption by

MindMap #9: Affordance and Ecology

This week’s MindMap was difficult for me because I spent the week at CCCC, which means that productivity was out the window. I attempted to do work every night, but usually I was mentally and physically exhausted. So, I was thrilled to read Norman’s work on affordances. It was clear cut and straight to the point (and I understood every word). This is the first time that has occurred since reading about the rhetorical situation (Week 1). This excitement faded, however, when I read Bateson and realized that I, once again, was not making connections. I have yet to see how affordances connect to Bateson’s ecology of the mind. The focus on environment jumped out to me. I thought that could possibly be looked at in the sense of what the environment affords us (?).

For my mindmap, I added nodes about systems because I saw the ecology as a system/network in the same sense of genre systems, activity systems, and network/hardware systems (from HowStuffWorks?). I made affordances a separate primary node because it functions differently for me, right now. I added the nodes user, designer, qualities/characteristics versus affordances. I focused on the user and designer because of the focus on interface and design in Norman’s article. I also thought about this being a network in the sense that the user, designer, and the affordances are connected and impact one another. I haven’t thought that through just yet. I also focused on the difference between affordances and qualities/characteristics. I was one of those people guilty of conflating the definition of affordances. These nodes will remind me that what a thing affords and it qualities/characteristics are not the same thing.

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