Archive for September, 2008

Society for a 3rd Sophistic

September 25, 2008

S3S, the RCID Student Organization, now has a Blog of its own:

~ Hydra ~


Sophie2 Workshop at USCal, a Follow Up

September 22, 2008

At the beginning of May, I submitted a proposal to attend a workshop at the University of Southern California (USCal), co-sponsored by USCal’s Institute for Multimedia Literacy and the Institute for the Future of the Book (a group focused on e-book publishing, funded by grants from the MacArthur and Mellon Foundations, and directed by Bob Stein).  The workshop focused on the multimedia authoring and arrangement program Sophie2.  Sophie2 is an evolution from TK3, an e-book publishing program that gained much notoriety in 2006 when Virginia Kuhn used it to complete her doctorate at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee—she did her dissertation completely in the TK3 format (the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article on Kuhn in 2006*).

Following in Kuhn’s footsteps, my proposal for the Sophie2 workshop detailed how important the form/content relationship is to the kind of scholarship I am working on here at Clemson in the RCID program.  It also detailed how I intended to do both a print-based dissertation (to satisfy the doctoral requirements of the University) and a Sophie2 version of my dissertation.  This is more than just a comparative look; it is using a different medium that allows me to “write the paradigm” (Ulmer), to more appropriately explore relationships between rhetorical invention and electronic discourse.  My proposal was accepted, and I was one of only two non-local students or faculty to attend.

The workshop was conducted by Bob Stein and Holladay Penick, of the Institute for the Future of the Book (if:book), with assistance from Virginia Kuhn and Holly Willis (both at USCal in the Institute for Multimedia Literacy [IML]) as well as the IML support/tech staff.  We not only learned how to use the program and to make suggestions on features we would like to be included or modifed, many of which Bob relayed to the programmers and had fixed within hours or on the list to be included in the next beta version (now available).  But we also engaged in discussions on the possibilities of Sophie2, and what the Sophie2 platform allowed.

For me, the first realization was that I had under-conceptualized the project I went out there thinking I was going to work on.  The program, I discovered, allowed for such greater layering and linking than I had anticipated, and as a result I spent several hours trying to rethink my approach.  I eventually revised my thoughts about and approach to my dissertation project.  One of the amazing things I realized in playing with Sophie2 is that it allows me to work from a book metaphor, a film metaphor, a comic book metaphor, a presentation metaphor, and so on.  While it is often referred to as creating a Sophie Book, hearkening back to its (and Bob Stein’s) e-book roots, the program is not limited to that elementary approach.  It really opens space for the multitude of discourses we engage here in the RCID program.  In one shared space, I can integrate text, image, video, audio, and so on–all of which can be hyperlinked to components within the work itself or to components outside the work (i.e., the Web).  This connecting, linking, and layering–this format that allows for “writing” as an architectonic productive art (McKeon)–greatly increases the potential for future scholarship.  . . . Attending the workshop and meeting all the people involved with Sophie2 was such a great experience, and I am happy my work here in the RCID program prepared me for that opportunity.

* For the complete article, visit the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website “Digital Dissertation Dust-Up” by Peter Monaghan.  April 28, 2006.  A41.  Volume 51. Issue 34. Section: Information Technology.

~ Justin Hodgson ~