Monday, December 23, 2013

on holidays (radical change version)

One of my favorite lyrics is in "White Knuckles" by the conceptually joyful band, Ok Go. Before I share the lyric and why I love it, I must reflect upon the title. Titles first. If they are good, if they have cleverly compressed the song's intention, its key conceptual valences, even better. 

2013 has been a white knuckle year. I've written about the challenges of giving up my tenured position in order to move to Illinois and the embrace of family. Surely, I have compressed in that shared public reflection. I can't imagine how long it would take to render a sense of the multidirectional affective experience of (any or all) of it. 

I began my 2013 reflection hopefully, on 1/1/2013. Signs of discomfort began to emerge, here. Even more, here. And then this webspace wanted a clean'ish slate, a "renewed purpose," so I tried to shape it just so.

So the lyric: "Nothin' ever doesn't change, but nothin' changes much." Perfect ... approaching a 5th Noble Truth-type deal. I want to write more and more about it, but it is likely unnecessary. Maybe what I need is reflection upon happiness and change. How to find it, how not to lose it. And so on. I could end up there. But first, to add context, which may or may not clarify, my perfect lyric is embedded in this pithy verse:

So just how far 
[a beat]
is far enough?
Everybody needs to sleep at night.
Everybody needs a crutch.
But couldn't good 
[a beat]
be good enough?
'Cause nothin' ever doesn't change,
but nothin' changes much.

What to say? I'm still challenged by the "how far?" the "good enough" and "nothin' changes much." I can say it no better. 

But relative to the ongoing reflection I do (and sometimes perform) regading social media, here, I can see developing this post so that it reflects my sense of the value of public reflection. Becuase frankly, writing (even quick hits via social media) has helped me through the move and the change and all that continues to disrupt whatever sense of calm attended tenure, a small but close circle of friends, and the impressive moves I'd carefully made to resurrect my value as a faculty member at my former institution. 

So, yes, the public writing helps, but just as compression works for "White Knuckles" (as public performance), it also renders my challenges in familiar narrative moves and usually in only those that were/are likely to keep my audience reading, caring, helping, and not turning away because "THAT is not done via social media," or "you really shouldn't _____________." It's a long story, the story of how social media emerged, helped and ruined people, and obtains as a primary venue for moving (us) through our lives. I'm still in, but even this small bit of reflection sharpens my sense that unless we are werqin it as carefully crafted performance, we may fail. How to sustain the sanity-sustaining value of it, then? Is it possible? Desirable? I wonder if -- when I find my place, the place where I don't feel compelled to share my stories publicly -- I wonder if then I will get it "right." Or simply write. Oh gads, see that's "clever," which is just gross. (but so if The Clever requires explication, see the bold passage in previous post, and THANK YOU for staying with me)

 ... and since this is my holiday reflection, 

merry happy!!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


The Kansas State Board of Regents' ruling on faculty use of social media is drawing a good bit of well-deserved criticism. At the same, somewhat frightening time, various media outlets spotlight Justine Sacco, who has been fired on the basis of what appeared to me to be a sardonic tweet critical of white privilege, with Sacco radically overestimating her audience's tolerance for sophisticated critique in the 140 character milieu (of course, the story is still unfolding, and I could be horribly wrong, so please don't read my contemplation of a less-than-thoroughly evil intention as endorsement of real or unwitting racism).

Clearly, social media venues create opportunities for unspeakably glorious, world-changing events, and they will undo you (if you articulate a message just so). It is this paradox and especially its more potentially useful eruptions that has me holding onto a sense that one may, nevertheless, inch up to the borders of impropriety if a thing wants badly enough to be said. I am likely considered naive in this perspective. Yet, others wonder, as well. In fact, I recently received an invitation to scholarly inquiry on the matter (got it online, via Facebook!); it's a CFP for work on social media, so I'm brainstorming here, now, very rudimentarily engaging my genuine curiosity regarding an infinite spectrum of communicative possibilities and our responsibilities to (ostensibly) only certain spaces thereupon. Same as it ever was.

I've read several responses to the KSBOR, and most are spot-on in questioning the constraints it imposes upon academic freedom (this without ever uttering the term "academic freedom" -- nifty!). Amanda here does a fine job of explaining that many academics engage in routine scholarly activities online and that many of these activities fulfill elemental expectations that shape scholarly life and that all should be supported and protected. UKMC's William K. Black holds nothing back in his critique, and as I read, I identified powerfully with his assertions, with the truths that seemed to me so creepingly self-evident and yet had not felt emboldened to speak of in the context of my media constellations, so frequently do I hear proclamations like, "X doesn't know how to use social media," or "You know, you should really stop _________" (that latter, from the friendly backchannel, for which I am painfully grateful but also ... mmmm ... I'm trying to work this part out). 

Today, the Kansas State Faculty Senate responded, arguing (according to an email sent out by Kansas State University Faculty Senate President Julia Keen) that, 1.) the Regents acted without faculty input, "usurping the concept of shared governance, and ignoring my personal objections at the KBOR meeting," and that 2.) the policy violates faculty members' First Amendment rights, "and ignores completely the concept of academic freedom, which is vital for the free exchange of ideas that defines the very essence of a university." Yes.

I will continue to follow the KSBOR policy infringements with interest, updating as I can. At the same time, I am working on my short film, Privacy is so Passe, a parodic look at our attempts to imagine that privacy is real, possible, and desirable in the post-digital turn era.  

I have much more to say and do than this. Believe me. Do I need to take a break from using venues that have actually shaped the state of my current professional life in order to ponder the confoundingly emergent-divergent series of rules that want to constrain it? Probably not. And yes.

[Image: Flickr user Ajari]

Thursday, December 5, 2013

you mean you're not coding?!!

"var red = [0, 100, 63]; var orange = [40, 100, 60]; var green = [75, 100, 40]; var blue = [196, 77, 55]; var purple = [280, 50, 60]; var myName = "b. kyburz"; letterColors = [green]; if(10 > 3) { bubbleShape = "circle"; } else { bubbleShape = "square"; } drawName(myName, letterColors); bounceBubbles (); 

yes, this ... animated name (the link takes you to the animation) is what you get for an hour at CodeAcademy. and it's kinda cool(ish), but to then leave you without access to knowledge of how to embed this into an html language frame so you can actually share it without advertising CA would be better. of course, i can figure it out, but Project Runway's on soon. priorities.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the proposal is away ...

 The proposal is away. 

No, i'm not celebrating too soon, but i am celebrating. You see, in composing it, i see much more clearly the real, true possibility for the project. You knew this. About writing proposals. This is how it works. 

i continue on in my 4 course load, so simply completing the P is worthy of an LBD and a cocktail, i'd say. And then, it's a vision, this image, of my life as a profess-ah. Sure, i've been a professor, had tenure, gave it up for personal reasons. but so, renewed and revised in my vision, i continue to seek my ideal scenario for living this life.