Friday, January 29, 2010

Help - I don't know how to BBQ Korean-style!

Last month, I returned for a visit to New York City - to visit friends, see the city at Christmas, and, of course, to do some research on visual rhetoric at the International Center for Photography. My wife and I saw some old friends, and visited some of our favorite places in north Jersey and NYC... but we also decided to try something new.

We went to Koreatown for the first time. We had been often to Chinatown, Little Italy, Hell's Kitchen, TriBeCa, SoHo, NoLita, Chelsea, Garment District, Bowery, Theater District, etc... but never to Koreatown. And boy, oh boy, were we in for a new experience. We went to a place called Wan-Jo which served barbeque, but not the pulled pork variety of SC lore...

The first obstacle was the language barrier. We spoke no Korean. The first several members of the restaurant staff apparently spoke only very limited English. We were offered a choice of seating, but - unable to get understandable details on what each choice meant, it was a coin toss for us. We chose upstairs, where we were seated and given menus. We chose from the menus and placed our order - one choice that had the word "beef" in it somewhere and another that had the word "chicken" in the description. In fast order the service began...

A square portion in the center of the table between us was removed to reveal a pit, which was filled by an attendant carrying (through the midst of the dining area) two rectangular metal boxes of flaming hot coals, like a scene out of the book of Revelation. This certainly helped us fend off the New York December chill! And then, plates of foods of various types, beef, chicken, onions, and a dozen things we could not identify with any certainty. The server put the meat on the grill for us and left us to our devices. Should we put other things on the grill? Should we take the meat off? Turn it over? What was that mushy white stuff? We asked a number of questions to a number of servers, each of whom was patient and friendly and had only the slightest clue what we were saying, but offered some bits of knowledge that varied in relationship to our question from "close" to "not even in the ball park." However, with no other diners nearby to observe, we cobbled each bit of knowledge into a skeletal guide to navigating the Korean food before us.

We were absolutely out of our element. We had no comfort level in analyzing or categorizing the elements of the meal. We were inarticulate. We were uncomfortable.And yet, we EXPERIENCED the experience. We have a grand memory of learning something that was "non-sense" in many ways, yet gave us a "new sense" of Koreatown that we couldn't have gained through a visitor's guide. As we watched our hosts flow through this world with complete fluency, we were enlivened by the complete "otherness" of ourselves as strangers in this strange land.

This week in my research I ran across an article entitled "Creating Real Presence: Displays in Liminal Worlds" by John Shotter, in which he says...

CLAM students - you will, of course and necessity, be involved in analysis through many of the experiences of this term. HOWEVER - don't let the "requirements of academic discipline" misdirect you completely from allowing these experiences to "speak to you" in uncanny, indeterminate, and "other" ways. From time to time, relax the limits you might feel constrained to impose - and take off your ethnographer's hat for a bit - and just EXPERIENCE the experience before you. (You can always write about it later!)

Have fun - and do good work!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Do I Digitally Connect with Thee? Let Me Count The Ways...

Our CLAM bloggers are entering the course with a wide range of experiences in "Composing for New Media Sites" - ranging from the greenest rookies to the most savvy social networking veterans. And the choices for engaging new digital media are many, as well - ranging from the blogosphere (like this one) to Facebook to Twitter to Skype and more. The "thing" that we call "New Social Media" is not a single entity, but rather a growing network of multiplied connections. I'd say that New Social Media is less like a Tulip - and more like a lawn - made not of a single plant, but of a interwoven network of strands, roots, and runners. (CLAMmers, beware! You will hear this metaphor again!)

This is a picture of me with that most marvelous of inventions, the Paige Typesetter! Never heard of it? Not surprised. It failed magnificently and spelled financial ruin for its main backer, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain.) Twain was ahead of his time. Way ahead of his time.That is not always a good thing. The technology of the day simply couldn't support the creativity of his vision.

Many educators have looked for ways students could share work across great distances with their classmates and instructors. They looked for ways whereby students could share not only writing, bu visual, video and audio with the greater academic community. Some of these efforts may have faced difficulty because technology hadn't caught up with the creativity of the vision. But now, technology is available to carry our most visionary ideas of composition and communication. Today's technology doesn't punish visionary creativity in composition. (It does, however, put to shame small, unimaginative, shallow or boring approaches and makes them seem all the more impoverished. So, dare to dream big in your projects!)

Kudos on all the CLAMmers for braving the frontier of New Media, and for experimenting with photos, video, links, prose, and other elements of New Media Composition! Keep "learning by doing" both in your cultural engagement, and in creative use of these new sites for composition.

(Photo taken during the Summer 2007 NEH Landmark Study at The Mark Twain House in Hartford Connecticut.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Out of the Blocks - and Out of the Box...

Congrats on your first posts, CLAMmers! You have gotten off to a good start - and some of our bloggers  are discovering an entirely new way to communicate, compose, and connect.

Check the links in the navigation bar to the right to see the new blogs of our Spring 2010 CLAMmers. CLAMmers should add a similar "My Blogs" gadget to link to this (CLAM Soup) and to the blogs of fellow CLAMmers.

Some good photos posted already - I'm looking forward to seeing more photos along with your posts. I do remind you of that great photo-posting tip in the last blog - some of you missed it! (

So, add those links, get into the new material, keep taking photos, shooting video, and spend time learning about your software and hardware - the pens and pencils of digital composition!

Looking out My Back Door - Sunrise in Pickens County  (R. Nichols)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Kids in the Soup!

Welcome to our new CAAH 201 (CLAM) students -  - Spring 2010 is here! Soon, new blogs will be listed in the column at the right and a new crop of bloggers will become part of a growing network of Clemson students who are critically engaging cultures in interesting, inspiring and provocative ways!

I will be posting some general comments here each week - answering questions, sharing tips, and highlighting some of the work from our CLAM students' blogs. Check back often, and, as the new blogs appear in the column at teh right, explore some of the work our CLAMmers are doing across the globe. (For now, you can still enjoy the ground-breaking work from our pilot CLAMmers.)

So... FIRST TIP! Students, you will be posting digital photos often to your blog, so this first tip is one you will put to use early and often. Don't post more picture than you need! A size of 800 x 600 with a resolution of 72 dpi is plenty! (OK - 96 dpi if you got a Mac.) Let Tommy's Joynt help explain...

I've posted two pics below of a cool restaurant in San Francisco. Do you notice any difference?

The first one is untouched exactly as it was downloaded from my iPhone. Go ahead, click it. HUGE Picture! Over a 1.2 MEG!*

The second one is the same photo - but reduced to 800x600 in size with a resolution of 72 dpi. perfect size for web viewing and only a fraction of the size - only 140k! (and a fraction of the upload/download time!)

Of course, I saved the smaller pic under a new name so I could keep the higher res photo for later use. This tip will save you lots of time in posting, so practice it early and often. (Deeper teaching on this subject will come later in the course - but this tip you need now!) You can do this in any photo editing program. I use PhotoShop on my lab computer, PaintShopPro on my home computer and GIMP on my laptop.

Don't have a digital image editing software? GIMP is free! Get a copy here now:

Welcome to the blogosphere, new CLAMmers! I'm looking forward to seeing your work on these blogs.

*(1.2M uploaded - conerted to 285k by blogger - still twice as long to download, and ten times as long to upload.)