Reading Beyond Blogs to Ground the Writing about Blogs

Because Will mentioned that I gave him some reading suggestions, I thought I’d share some of my must-reads here as well. Although I naturally try to read widely and deeply within the blogosphere, I also think it essential to leave the blogs in my reading, too, every day, to stay aware of the long-view perspective, to feel the pages of books, to put pressure on the blogging I do. It’s easy, after all, to get seduced by the quick pleasure of seeing my words winging their way onto the Web (to wherever it is they go). And I do so love the tension in this medium, valuing the spontaneous rip of blogging, knowing that my thoughts are not in any way “final” here because I can come back tomorrow and write a new post that veers off in a new direction, while remembering not to waste readers’ time if possible and so waiting to blog until I think I have something I really want to put out there. I also especially love the conversations that occur via comments and trackbacks (like so many who are blogging about Will’s connective writing and the value of the evolving thought being pushed out there in the world). How helpful to my ideas that I can write a post and have Oliver Luker post a response sure to get me thinking, or have my students respond, students whom I haven’t taught in a couple of years, who invariably delight me with their willingness to take their learning way outside the classroom and discuss my blogging. But how helpful, too, and how important it is to take the time to read the more-carefully-thought-out-over-time thinking of researchers, philosophers, theorists, educators, and artists.

And so here, in hopes that people will add to my list, letting me in on works I do not know, are some of the books and writers that have informed my thinking on blogging and multimedia narrative in general, and on how they serve teaching and learning, in particular. The books are in no particular order–I have not linked them to websites, and I haven’t even annotated them. (Can you tell that I am in the madness of the final two weeks of semester?)

And readers should understand that I am a classroom teacher and not a cyber-scholar and so do not presume to present a comprehensive list of readings in the field!


A handful of wonderful anthologies that provide excellent overviews of everyone from Borges to Benjamin, Vannevar Bush to Paul Virilio, Marshall McLuhan to George Landow, Michael Joyce to Pierre Levy, etc:

Reading Digital Culture, edited by David Trend
Cyberreader Edited by Victor J. Vitanza
Multimedia Edited by Randall Packer & Kenn Jordan
The New Media Reader edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort
BlogTalks 1.0 and BlogTalks 2.0, both edited by Thomas N. Burg
The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media edited by Peter Lunenfeld
Uncanny Networks edited by Gert Lovink

Full-Length Works:

Janet Murray Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace
Peter Lunenfeld Snap to Grid
Lev Manovich The Language of New Media
Stephen Berlin Johnson Emergence
Lawrence Lessig The Future of Ideas
Michael Joyce Othermindedness: The Emergence of Networked Culture
Pierre Levy Collective Intelligence
Robert Burnett & P. David Marshall Web Theory: An introduction
Howard Rheingold SmartMobs and Virtual Communities
William J. Mitchell Me ++
Ken S McAllister Game Work: Language, Power, and Computer Game Culture
Jay David Bolter Writing Spaces
George Landow Hypertext 2.0
Roy Acsott Telematic Embrace
Mark Hansen A New Philosophy for New Media
Marshall McLuhan Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man
Albert-László Barabási Linked: The New Science of Networks
John Berger On Seeing
Susan Sontag On Photography
Maxine Greene Releasing the Imagination
Jean Baudrillard The Ecstasy of Communication
Roland Barthes S/Z
Michael Heim The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality

And what I really have to read but haven’t yet– William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and my colleague, Héctor Vila, urges me to return to Martin Heidegger.

And even though I wasn’t going to add any websites, here’s a pretty wonderful syllabus from Columbia University Teacher’s College, taught by Robbie McClintock and Frank Moretti:
(found via Sarah Lohnes)

I’m sure I’m missing some crucial books…but this is, at least, a start.


2 Responses

  1. Jeremy Crampton’s book on mapping cyberspace has some fine passages (like this:

    For Gibson, if you want something other than Neuromancer, try Pattern Recognition instead. Very clever, mild novel, with the closest approach to the contemporary reader.

    And, at some risk of self-incrimination, Smartmobs.

    For Heidegger, have you delved into Ronnell’s Telephone Book?

  2. Barbara,
    I’ve enjoyed your contributions to this new realm of teaching with blogs. I am coming to know technology from the (not unrelated) field of composition studies and it seems the more I learn, the more I am faced with the limits of that knowledge. Technology and blogging as phenomena are constantly evolving. I have found semiotic theory to be helpful in looking at the mediation of technology via blogs. A social semiotic theory, in very simple terms, posits that meaning is indeterminate and that it is made in social contexts (that is, in relation to other signs) thus it is subject to continual modification. I think blogging as an activity has the potential for these same semiotic processes.
    Semiotics is not popular as a method because it is a dense and difficult field–as I am finding. My background isn’t in philosophy so I am learning this stuff by the seat of my pants. I’ve found C.S. Peirce’s theories on abductive reasoning and triadicity through various writers, namely: Umberto Eco, Uwe Wirth, Donald Cunningham, et al.
    Soon I will begin a research blog that will collect and share all the information I come up with. After all, meaning is made in social contexts. If we as educators are going to take full advantage of the potentialities of the new media channel of blogs then we should share our research, right?

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