new cultures of writing

A class at Valparaiso University examining the way technology shapes our reading and writing practices. We like to talk about whether we're cyborgs, too.

Networking: Blurring the Lines Between the Past, the Present, and the Future

I don’t know what I would do without my planner. Each day, I plan out what I need to do, where I need to be, and by what time I need to do that and be there. Our society is run by a ticking clock.

This first blog post is from the Tedblog. It discusses how a speaker believes that “Technology has altered our flow of time….” She says that digital media is an opportunity to leave our time and place and enter another.

Read here about how she explains that reading online is affecting our ability to pay attention to the present.

11th Screen | The Interactive Out-of-Home Blog

Now here’s a blog post that considers the future. This post talks about a “Future Library project,” which “will unfold over a century, and will be completed in 2114. Each year, a writer will be invited to contribute a new text, which will be printed on paper made from a forest of 1,000 trees planted for that purpose.”

The blogger questions this project by considering the future of reading. Read here to learn more.

Archives & Rare Books Pod

That leads me to today’s uprising of the e-book. The blog post is about e-books today, the controversy over them that is going on with Amazon, and how this is “terrifying for writers.” Read here to find out more about that.


And to end this post, a super cute picture of a smiley hedgehog:

The Cutest Pictures of Animals Ever! photo 5

Networking: Breaking the Limits

Are books something to keep in mint condition? Or do you live with it and let it fall off your bed as you fall asleep?

Author Keri Smith says, “Sleep with it! Describe the experience.” Smith created the “Wreck This Journal” series that has multiple books that encourage you to be creative with words, found objects, and destruction. 

I received a copy for Christmas one year, and I couldn’t help but cringe as the first instruction was to break the binding. However, after a moment I realized how much fun it was to “break the rules” with a book. 

The video above is the final result of another woman’s journal. She had a lot more colorful ideas than I ever had, but I guess that’s the point. Do what you want! Make a book a part of your life!

Networking: Weirdly Confident in the Internet?

Hey everybody. So I’m not gonna lie, Johns’ writings and ramblings actually made me more confident in the development of technology. Why? Because it proved to me that all the issues we’re having with the internet right now (piracy, plagiarism, authorship issues, yada yada…) has all happened before in a culture (print culture) that we now take for granted and trust. Or, at the very least, we trust our ability to discern the truth of the printed medium. 

So to take a look at some blogs that exemplify this, I give you: 


This one is mostly going over some older books and looking at specific pages that have errors, doodles, or unexplained thingies on them. I think this blog was actually made on an assignment, possibly for another English class similar to this one, but I liked how each picture or drawing was explained, if possible, and then extrapolated on. 

And now I give you: 

Tamora Pierce

Okay this is mostly just a shameless plug for one of my all time favorite authors, and also because she’s an absolutely fantastic person. Her blog is 100% on point at all times and she interacts with people about her books and about life in general and it’s really cool. This one I wanted to add to our network because it shows how authors can interact with their audience outside of the text, and occasionally as a correction to the text itself. Johns mentioned that print culture didn’t exist in early modern history because there were so many errors in every text and not much could be counted on to be accurate. Well, Ms. Pierce here often discusses problematic aspects of her books (which are feminist as hell and empowering as anything, but still have problematic elements) with the fans who bring them up to her, usually freely admitting that what she chose to do in her book was not the best possible way to go about it. 

Also she’s just really fantastic and everybody should read her books. 

Lastly, I have:

Internet Duhs. 

A blog dedicated to pointing out internet farce. Proving, once again, that people can figure out for themselves what is ultimately correct on the internet and what is not, given they have the motivation to do a quick google search. What’s on the internet may not always be correct, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use a little brainpower and just find out the truth. 

and here’s a gif of a cute puppy to make your day a little better. 

Guest Blogger: False Text = Bad Text?

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who believe everything they read, and those who understand that the Onion is a satirical newspaper.

We’ve all read it, or perhaps even fallen victim to it. Satire. It looks like news, it smells like news, but it isn’t news. It’s social commentary mixed with some tongue in cheek humor. It’s the kind of humor that makes us feel the whole gamut of human intelligence:

1. First comes the ignorance (wait gravity isn’t real?)

2. Then, the realization (oh it’s written by The Onion.)

3. And finally the giddiness of being on the inside of the joke (oh look at all the peons in the comment section, ho ho what peasants.)

In our readings, Elizabeth Eisenstein champions the printed text as being one of the great contributing factors of the Renaissance. Alternatively, Adrian Johns (or Buzzkill Jones, as I like to call him) tears her optimism to pieces by denouncing the credibility of text itself. His argument mainly stems on the trust gullibility that society applies to everything that is churned out of a printing press. 

Or, in the following case, on Facebook. 

(For those of you who don’t know, Click Hole is a branch of The Onion.)

It’s moments like these, when the Z’s, K’s, H’s, and J’s of the world make us feel a lot more like Johns and less like Eisenstein. 

…or do they?

As a solution to the problems of piracy, falsity, and plagiarism, Johns asks us to “distance ourselves from the apparent stability of our own print culture, with its uniform editions, mass reproduction, and typographical fixity” (pg 66).

In a way, doesn’t satire accomplish this? It distances the reader from a social issue by commenting on it from an upside-down and backasswards perspective. Not only this, satire actually subverts Johns’ assumption that false text = bad, worthless, trash text. Rather, satire challenges its readers to look beyond the words on the page/screen and really think about what’s being said, who’s doing the saying, and why it’s being addressed. It’s like boot camp for your brain! Humiliating and exhausting, but overall rewarding.

For this reason, I love satire. I also love the comment sections of satire, which could potentially be satirical in themselves, if only Z, H, K, and J were actually self-aware. #satire-ception

Guest Blogger: Shipless Pirates

Ahoy mateys,

Let’s talk about piracy and how it gives us trust issues.  Adrian Johns discusses how the idea of trusting books took a long time to build, in fact he suggests it’s impossible for us to imagine a world where there is such a strong distrust of text.  I, however, disagree: it’s called the internet.  In fact I think John’s points about how people could not trust early products of the printing press validate our concerns about the legitimacy of what we read on the internet.  It also reveals that we put our trust in the publishing process, maybe a little too blindly.


Especially since the internet and the publishing process don’t necessarily work together.  This is partly because of piracy.  There are plenty of ways to illegally download TV shows, movies, songs, and books.  Everyone talks about how piracy is effecting the music industry, and now television and film piracy are also being taken seriously.  But society doesn’t really care who illegally reads books.  I think this is because people think of libraries; how people can already have free access to most books, with physical location being the only restraint. But even though we read library books for free, the library did pay for them.  Furthermore what happens with things like leaks.  While this is a major problem for musicians, it is becoming a problem in the literary world.  When projects or authors are really buzzed about, people want to get their hands on everything as soon as possible.  This happened to Twilight author Stephenie Meyer.  We forget about why we trust the publishing process, it means something has been edited and turned into the best quality possible.  When early drafts are published online, we are changing the story. 

We need to remember that we are not the captain.  While books can come to life for us, we do not control the life of the book.  So maybe eventually we will get to a place where we can trust the internet, but I don’t think that will happen with piracy so rampant.  It does not give us access to art for free, or save us normal folk money that would only go to people who really don’t need it.  It defaces something we take for granted: trust.

Guest Blooger: What text should we trust?

We’ve all done it before, standing in line at the grocery store and you see a tabloid magazine with aliens on the cover and can’t help but pick it up. I’d hope you roll your eyes and know its garbage. But in the same breath, how is that magazine more true than say an article in the New York Times. Now imagine living in a world where the reliability of magazines was what we had in our textbooks and novels. Readers, like most of us, would probably go into literary shock.


One of Elizabeth Eisenstein’s main points in her book, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe was that the printing press played a large roll in the renaissance and enlightenment. She sought the basic idea that printing revolutionized learning and allowed people to now engage in reading as well as comparison of texts. A tool we are all too familiar with today. (Core. Am I right?) 

Now what about our disclaimers? Well to start, how are we so sure that information being printed is true? Think back to yellow journalism and the newspapers of the Progressive Era. 


Credibility was not held accountable. Now let’s fast forward.

Laws, lawsuits, and libel have been made. Textbooks and novels are published with hope of being true. But what about piracy? The unauthorized productions of another’s work. This concept that in other countries best selling authors may have their names stuck on text that is, in fact, not theirs.

Adrian Johns said in his review of Eisenstein’s text, “But whatever the cause it is not easy for us to imagine such a realm, in which printed records were not necessarily authorized or faithful. (61)” 

And he’s right. We rely on most text to be credible. We expect, as readers to pick up a Non-fiction memoir and have it be true. We expect that the big publishing companies such as Random House and Pearson are fact checking and printing with confidence of accuracy. 

The Atlantic recently ran an article challenging publishing companies for their lack of fact checking and unreliability in non-fiction. Click <— to read

I’d like to take us one step further and discover the cause of this imaginative world where the text we read aren’t filled with perfected fidelity of our expectations. Could it be laziness? Could it be the new technology era where anyone can get his or her hands on almost anything from almost anywhere? Where should our trust stand in the means of printing and the new upcoming online era?


Guest Blogger: Everything We Read Is A Lie


An extreme response to Adrian Johns’ “The Book of Nature and the Nature of the Book”?  Most definitely.  An unfounded response based on what he was saying?  Not exactly.

However, he has put me in an uncomfortable position.  It makes sense to me that “print culture,” or the “standardization, dissemination, and fixity” (Johns 62) of knowledge in print and the society’s acceptance of this fixity, was in fact nonexistent hundreds of years ago when standardization was difficult to accomplish due to piracy, lack of agreement between those who produced the information, and their inability to quickly and efficiently get together to figure out what was right.

But it doesn’t make sense to me to apply that to today’s world, which Johns seems to be doing.

Yes, we still have piracy and lack of agreement between authors, but I believe those can be overcome today to produce a print culture that Johns claimed was nonexistent.  We can overcome those with technology and communication.  These won’t necessarily hand us the answer but will simply provide us the avenue through which to find the answer.

It sounds to me like Johns is trying to figure out what truthful knowledge is in our printing world.  Today, when we buy a book from McGraw-Hill or Penguin, we can be pretty certain that we can trust these companies with what they give us, but this is not out of the blind trust that Johns suggests. 

We can be confident in the information we receive because we are easily able to challenge it with other sources of information.  Because of technology, our world is so small that if we are presented with information we perceive to be false, we can find other sources of information quickly and efficiently in order to challenge it.  Once challenged, we can essentially find which source of information is true. 

Interestingly enough, we do this at the university.  In literature classes we read books but don’t necessarily believe everything they say.  We discuss and challenge what they are saying to find the truth.  In the sciences, truth is based on only what has been challenged through experimentation in the past and not by just what books say.

Does Johns make a good point about print culture?  Yes.  Can he attribute it to today’s culture?  Not necessarily.

Networking: True Writing

We have been discussing in class, the change in our reading culture.  But does this also change our writing?  Imagine the amount of things published, which are not categorized as genuine literature.  Any celebrity may publish books because they have a fanbase.  This blog argues that our writing has changed with the rise of popular culture.  Check it out.

Networking: How is Technology Affecting Us?

In class, we’ve scratched the surface about ways that we as a society (or as human beings!) are changed by technology. I wanted to explore this topic a little more deeply.

To kick things off, here’s an interesting blog post pulled from The Washington Post’s Style Blog.

The entry details 36 ways the web has changed us. The author asks, “What has the Web made in the past 25 years? What has it destroyed? That list could go on forever — but we thought we’d start with these 36 ways the Web has changed our lives … and the world in general.” I found the list to be interesting because the blogger presents technological effects that I wouldn’t have normally thought of!

Next, I learned that technology addiction is a real thing. While it’s not yet fully recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, technology addiction clinics are popping up world-wide.

Psychology Today features a blog post from Jonathan Fader, Ph.D, a psychologist and assistant professor of family medicine. The post pulls from the knowledge of other doctors and gives some ideas as to why technology is addictive. It ends by offering some suggestions on how to curb the technological pull in your own life.

Finally, just for fun, here’s a list of 21 things that have become obsolete (or nearly so) in the past decade due to technological advancement!

Networking: Literature in Blogs

There is a blogger who writes her stories in her blogs.  The blog itself is called Thin Spiral Notebook, and in it, the blogger publishes short-stories, poems and any non-fiction stories one might read in a literary magazine.  Is this the future of the publishing business?  Check out one of these stories.