University Writing 2.0

Things ain't what they used to be.

Ryan Jerving, Fall 2008
The George Washington University

Course Description

Things ain't what they used to be. In fact, things that simply weren't five years ago -- Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook -- are now an inescapable part of the landscape. These may seem like trivial, flavor-of-the-week phenomena, but they represent a profound challenge to traditional notions of authorship and authority. Wired editor Kevin Kelly describes this as a shift in how we view creativity: from the pre-millennial emphasis on professionals generating "text" to a post-millennial emphasis on users generating "context" through the links, tags, and lists by which they connect a culture's bits and pieces. We will consider the impact of this shift on us as 21st-century consumers, producers, and citizens. Have we entered a veritable golden age of democratized knowledge, or a Colbertian dystopia of "wikiality," "truthiness," and a let-their-be-links cult of the amateur? (HINT: neither.)

Most of all, we'll consider the impact on us as researchers and writers. Count on getting your hands dirty in the same muck we'll be raking. You'll blog. You'll post. You'll tag. Indeed, much of our daily work -- writing, peer reviewing, editing, revising, collaborating -- will take place on a wiki. (Start right now: click the "ain't" above, and you can rewrite this course description.) You'll create your own online project that should outlast this class and -- if it works -- should escape your ability to control it. And you'll write an article for submission to an actual peer-reviewed journal (even as we rethink peer review in the age of peer-to-peer).