Voice is Misoverestimated.

Quote above taken from a SlideShare presentation from Monika Hardy that is full of surprising anti-takes on the subject of silence and noise.  It has never been truer that there are way more voices than listeners.  You have to go slow to listen. Slow.  Attention needs to stretch and slow.

Some of the SlideShare above is trying to use words to say un-words.  Unhelpful abstractification that angers the blood. Epic fail, but so is my attempt.  Epic attempt to make people listen.

A Tech Praxis Story

Here we go, @le_petitjo.

I put together a newsletter on a daily basis using the Nuzzel platform. I like it because it can be a robo-newsletter (Nuzzel collects the stories from my feeds and publishes with my comments) or it can be customized so that all stories are curated and commented upon. Or any mix in between. I feel my comments in the newsletter (which are limited to about twice the length of a tweet) are a conversational snippet. I wish they would open up into full blown dialogues, but that hasn’t happened yet, but maybe I am moving toward this with a recent exchange of tweets with @le_petitjo.

Here is the template I mention in the newsletter: Michael Hyatt – Book Insights Template.  I used it in class on a sample document (a NYTimes editorial board piece) and asked my students to use it on an article of their own choosing.

Last Friday we discussed how they used the template.  There were those who didn’t do the work.  They effectively removed themselves from the conversation.  I don’t know any way around that. There were those who did the work as strategic students. In other words they filled in the blanks without really thinking about the tool itself.  (Just tell me how to get my “A”, Mr. Elliott.) And there were those who modified the template to do the work.  Our conclusion was that templates are useful, but only insofar as they help us do the intellectual work that needs doing and only insofar as they can be freely modified to do that work.  They are useful can openers.

Pretty proud of their discussion.  I find the template as is to be very helpful at the beginning of a new project, but I do have better tools for gathering basic bibliographic information.  I use Zotero.  Then I use the “Notes” section of Zotero along with the template, but I do my first read and annotation with paper copies.  Sorry trees.  I know I could do more with tools like Diigo and Hypothes.is, but I get a haptic charge out of using a fountain pen on paper along with pretty highlighting and marker pens.

Here is a link to the first page of my annotated article:  articleannotated 2.

Below is a screencast from my Zotero account I mention above:

Using Zotero with Michael Hyatt’s Book Insight’s Template

Uploaded by TERRY ELLIOTT on 2017-02-20.

As usual, thinking and doing out loud in the classroom is messy.  It needs to be.  We need to habituate good tool use and then we need to rotate in and out among the tools we use, sometimes analog and sometimes digital and sometimes both to keep them fresh AND apt.

I am lucky to have a set of open and free tools that many other folk have developed for all to use. I am lucky to have been in the position to learn how to use them and teach their use to others.  In the end, I am lucky to be able to let people find their own idiosyncratic ways to answer the important questions in their lives.

OK, le_petitjo, that’s what happened.  Yeah, I know, a bit underwhelming, but there it is, teaching often hides the extraordinary inside the ordinary, almost never in plain sight.



Digital Humanist


The quote above comes from a short interview with Laura Braunstein who is the Digital Humanities and English Librarian at the Dartmouth College Library.  Something shifted a bit inside me as I read this, as if to say, “Maybe I am one of these folks,too.”

Braunstein defines her role in this relatively new discipline as :


Resource person



That definitely clicks for me. I have always considered myself a learning concierge.  I love the working class, democratic appeal of asking the question, “How can I help you?”

I get no deeper satisfaction in my work as a writing instructor than providing directions to cool, clean, safe watering holes to my learners. And I am always looking for new resources, new oases.

I love to collaborate.  That is something I have had to grow to love.  I think the best piece of advice I ever got on this subject was from Alan Levine: if you can’t answer a question after 20 minutes of trying, then find help.  To me this means finding a collaborator. A co-laborer.  This very broad definition of collaboration is one that I am comfortable with.

A faculty colleague who I really respect has asked me to collaborate with her graduate students in our Writing Center at Western Kentucky University as a digital humanist. She may not know that is what she asked for and is getting, but I am very grateful she asked and truly excited to co-labor with her and her students.  It is quite likely that I will get more out of it than they will.  In fact, the selfish part of me counts on it.

I am a promoter, too, just as Braunstein says she is.  I promote a point of view that is relentlessly pragmatic as regards tools: if it doesn’t help my co-laborers seek, make sense of, and share with better effect at that “intersection of technology and human culture” then fuggetaboutit.

Identity mystifies me.  One minute I am a writing instructor and the next I am a digital humanist.  I feel a shift in stance. And with this shift comes slightly new views, new blindspots, new desires.  If I am very lucky, I will be able to smoothly glide from one outlook (instructor) to another (digital humanist).

What a difference taking a few minutes in the morning to slip on a new set of goggles for viewing the world, a virtual set, programmed by me and not someone else.

Thanks to Laura Braunstein and her interviewer, Joshua Kim. I want to know more about Digital Humanities so I am going here.  You come, too.