Not just another collection about writing …

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You may be thinking to yourself, “What?! Another collection about writing on Medium? Give me a break.” 🙄

In a way, I am rolling my eyes with you. Do a quick search on writing, and you’ll see that Medium is saturated with writing on writing. As Meg Furey notes, posts trying to write about writing are perhaps some of the most boring, unsuccessful genres on Medium. Once you click on a few of these, the algorithms will release the Kraken on your feed.

At the same, I’ve found few spaces and articles that…

Understanding cultures of critique

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“How dare you? I’m almost twice your age.” I received this response from a student in my early days of teaching. I often taught at a community college where at least half my students were twice my age. Middle-aged adults don’t always take criticism well from a freshly-minted college graduate.

In this case, the institution gave me the power to critique student work, but we don’t always have this luxury. In the business world, how do you critique a potential client without losing their business? As a writer, how do you interpret various styles of critiques in productive ways? …

Try subtracting the cats

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To many of us, this question seems preposterous. 2+2 = 4. Right? How can that be racist?

To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about this myself until a family member shared a quote from a Fox News story about a new teacher training initiative in Oregon. Presumably the link was meant to send me into a fit of rage against the liberal education machine. The quote went like this:

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently encouraged teachers to register for training that encourages “ethnomathematics” and argues, among other things, that White supremacy manifests itself in the focus on…

An exercise in finding real discussion

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No matter what political party you support, logical fallacies don’t really change. In the past week, I’ve seen several posts attempting to “bookmark” the status of our economy for our future selves. This will show up in four years as a Facebook memory, so we can compare just how worse things became under the new president. This is not new. Obama’s supporters posted the same thing in 2017 (most of which look remarkably similar). These posts go something like this:

Remember this day. No wars in 4 years. Job security. Oil independence. Gas is under $2.20. Stock market is above…

An analysis of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Twitter speech

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Soon after the events of January 6, 2021, Arnold Schwarzenegger posted a video on Twitter that quickly received over a million likes. What strikes me most about this 7 minute speech is that Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be offering an alternative masculinity that starkly contrasts with what Donald Trump has weaponized for the past four years.

As James Knight notes in Toxic Masculinity Explains Trump’s Support Among Many Men, Trump’s masculine image has been a key to his success, and he works hard not to betray that image (even to the point of not wearing a mask).

I like this idea of using Yoga poses as a metaphor for the writing process. It makes me think of both activies as techne or a skill that is highly contextual. I would be really interested in hearing more about how writers might apply yoga philosophy to our mindset or approaches. For example, I think there is a principle called "do no harm," which might help us understand the peer review process better. Or maybe maybe Shiva can help us destroy our writing so we can start anew 😉.

By the way, you might try submitting some of these to Age of Awareness (a Medium collection). They would like this kind of thing.


A smart note about listlessness

Author’s photo of own note

Acedia is a Greek word for “a state of uncaring apathy due to unrelenting crises.” Though this is a very old idea, used throughout history to describe a state of listlessness, acedia has been given a new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic … arguably in the 21st century as a whole. We easily grow numb to statistics and images of death associated with the pandemic. Pile on top of this issues of social justice and environmental extremes brought on by climate change, we can easily lose our sense of empathy and action. …


A smart note about form and content

Author’s photo of own note

What You See is What You Get (or WYSIWYG) was invented by Xerox to sell printers instead of copiers. We are all familiar now with WYSIWYG technology … in fact, it is so ubiquitious, most people don’t know what it is called. Programs like Microsoft or content boxes in WordPress (or Medium) allow you to see the formatting of your writing as you write. Before WYSIWYG, designing your text as you write with bold typeface or new fonts was not a thing. …


A smart note about hyper-dimensional text

Author’s own photo of note

At its inception hypertext has been defined as “non-linear” writing that can be read along various paths (Davis, 1989 p. 21). For example, there are multiple ways to read a website. We don’t read a website from “cover to cover.” Even traditional books should be consider hypertextual … there is more than one way to read a book or article. But print technologies (and the metaphors they lend us) simply encourage us to read along linear paths.

Now hypertext needs to be understood as the separation of content and form. Content itself can travel through various paths and forms. Often…

Teaching Topic

A primer for your writing students

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Having your students simulate writing for Medium is a great way to give them a stronger sense of audience and challenge them to communicate complex ideas to a non-expert audience. I mostly use this topic page to introduce students to Medium and help them conceptualize how blogging contexts should change the way they write. Research shows that students produce their best writing when they have a real audience … not just the teacher or the class. If you are interested in seeing more, check out the Professional Writing Collaborative.

Writing blogs is a great way to focus on audience and…

Lance Cummings PhD

writing professor & rhetorician — where philosophy, communication, technology intersect.

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