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Cw 2012 Change Talk

Cw 2012 Change Talk

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Published by Patricia Sullivan
computers and writing talk, May 2012
computers and writing talk, May 2012

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Patricia Sullivan on Jul 10, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Habits that “Change Talk” Challenges: attitudes, models, and institutional situations 
Today, I consider how the change talk fostered by C+W positions us as change chasers ininstitutions that want to control (and sometimes avoid) change. How do our habits of change talkimpact how others in our institutions might perceive us?  After a quick gloss of how published C+W discussions talk of change, I use an example fromanother field to examine typical roles groups might claim in a technology-enabled institutionalchange situation, and then circle back to an issue central to C+W (the hiring of young faculty) inorder to discuss how those of us in C+W might be wise to examine
how our habits of talkingabout technologies and change might be perceived by institutional others.
SLIDE 1: Overview
Part 1
: consider C + W as a field that chases change
Part 2
: example from a different field sustaining technology-primed mandatedinstitutional change
Part 3
: impact of suspicious minds on C + W hiring
# 1
: In published discussions, C + W’s attitudes toward change is an enthusiasticthumbs up.
<I glossing this rather than detailing it>My perception of this field is that we chase change: we desire it, embrace it, foster it, andbasically just enjoy the positioning of ourselves as “change agents” or “early adopters.” Our colleagues often see us either as the irritants to their established and trusted methods or usefultechnicians who can fix their machines (or solve their other computing problems). I don’t makethis observation without experiencing it.Nor do I make the observation without published evidence. From recent articles suchas “Computers and Composition, 20/20” that imagine the field’s future, including a gardenof bots, to Lisa Gerard’s articles in 1995 and 2004 that chronicle the issues important to thisconference, to other historical works (Hawisher et al in 1996 and Moran’s 20th year review of the Computers and Composition journal), change has been a comfortable concept for this field.Take one example from Gerard’s 2006 “The evolution of the Computers and WritingConference, the second decade.” At the end of her analysis which is intended to demonstratethat “Computers and Writing has become an institution” (211), she lists the verbs used intitles of conference talks given between 1994 and 2004. These are intended to reinforce her opinion that we have gone “from the ‘lunatic fringe’ of our respective English departments to avisible and less suspect subdiscipline of rhetoric and composition” (218). But she also thinksthese verbs “express the mix of optimism and shock that I mentioned earlier and the passion,feistiness, and --mainstream or not--rebelliousness that have characterized this conference fromits inception” (222).slide 2: Gerard’s verbs
 Addressing, advocating, affecting, aging, aligning, apologizing, arguing, arriving, assess- ing,assuming, balancing,
beating the odds
, becoming post-hypertext, bitnetting,
blowing outthe walls
, blurring, breaking, bridging,
burning out, canonizing
, catching up,challenging,
, collaborating, communicating, composing, coping, colliding,compelling, complicating,
, conducting,
, confronting, connecting,con- tending, conversing, crafting, crashing, creating, crisscrossing, crossing the globe,
, cybering, dancing, debating, deconstructing, demonstrating, demystifying,demythologizing, designing, developing, disassembling,
, disentangling,
, dissenting
, diverting, dramatizing,
, domesticating, electing,emerging, enabling, enhancing, enlarging, e-reading, escaping, evaluating, evolving, examining,exemplifying,
exploring, extending
, failing, fighting, flying, fusing,
gettingembarrassed, getting marooned
, going with the flow,
, grappling, growing, hatching,having close encounters,
, hop- ping, immersing, implementing, implying, infusing,integrating, interacting,
, investi- gating, joining, lagging behind, liberating,linking, listening,
, lurking, mainstreaming,
making waves
, managing, manipulating,mapping, measuring, meditating, mentoring, mesh- ing, migrating, minding differences, MOOving,morphing, negotiating, networking, nurturing,
opening doors
, negotiating, observing,
, overcoming, performing, perishing, piloting, pixilizing, playing around, pleasuring,plundering, practicing, processing, promis- ing,
, pulling, pulling ahead,
publishing with panache
, pushing, pushing limits, questioning, rebooting, re-charting, reclaiming,reconciling, reconstructing, redefining, reflect- ing, reforming, re-imagining, remaining silent,remembering, resisting, restraining, rethinking, rewiring, riding, risking, roleplaying,
, sayingno,
scratching our heads
, scrutinizing, searching,
setting fires
, sharing,shifting, singing, staking out, standardizing, not standardizing, straddling, streaming, struggling,
, surprising,
talking back
, taming, testing the waters,
, thinking, tracing, tracking, training, traipsing, transcending, transgressing,undoing, un-ghettoizing, unlocking, unplugging, unveil- ing, walking
, weaving,
whispering,window shopping, worrying. . ..BUT the earliest publications in the field--I’m thinking here of Ellen Nold’s “Fear and Trembling”or Helen Schwartz’s “Monsters and Mentors” --have been cognizant of institutional resistanceto using computers for the teaching of college writing. A central argument in larger journals—
CE and CCC--portrayed computers as facilitators for writing instruction rather than changeobjects: they wouldn’t be used to change the teaching of writing or the writing process itself.This argument shows that original members of the field saw the danger of tying computersto advocating for institutional, disciplinary, or human change. They worked to tamp downthe “lunatic fringe” talk. While we may enjoy the chase of change, not all of the people we work for and with arecomfortable with that part of our mission. Consider some of these human and institutionalattitudes entertwined with change talk: 
slide 3: attitudes toward changesKahneman:our “loss aversionusually trumps our desire for gainsas a tribe, we are conservative (holding on to what we have rather than seeking new)Simon:we do not optimize; we “satisfice”we slowly learn from experience, but cling to our tried-and-true ruleswe are not complex, our surroundings areChristensencompanies think they innovate, but most sustain innovation (at best)disruptive innovations target new customersthe things most want to accomplish in their lives don’t change quickly
1. Change is not intrinsically valued culturally or socially.
Daniel Kahnemann argues thatchange often is resisted because one of our dominant biases is “loss aversion,” or feelinglosses much more powerfully than gains. ”Loss aversion,” Kahneman writes in
Thinking Fast and Slow 
, “is a powerful conservative force that favors minimal changes from the status quoin the lives of both institutions and individuals. This conservatism helps keep us stable in our neighborhood, our marriage, and our job; it is the gravitational force that holds our life together (305)”. This bias/force makes change a
dangerous operation
: it might not work or might workin unexpected ways that threaten what we value. It’s not too much of a stretch to say we havea deep-seated bias against change: the tribe has survived doing things this way we know willwork, as we might not survive if we change. 
2. Even in areas of expertise, or maybe especially there, change is not thought to bea good.
Even though education is entangled with personal growth and disciplinary change,the old way is preserved as long as possible. When Herbert Simon focused on decisions, hefound we rarely seek the best decision; instead we enact the first
one we stumbleacross, or to use his formal term, we satisfice. Simon saw experience as building up our patternrecognition for the shapes of correct answers, but also found that we clung to our old rulesas long as we could. Of course, as an AI researcher, he wanted the mind to be as simple amechanism as possible and the environment to be the source of complexity. His famous ant’spath example in
Sciences of the Artificial 
was meant to dramatize the difference: at first theant seemed meandering like a very drunk sailor but then it was revealed that the environment(of driftwood, trash, dunes, etc. on the beach) conspired to complicate the ant’s path. Simondid believe that with deliberate experience we became experts, but it took a long time and wasmodulated by our propensity to use general heuristics to handle as much of the problem solvingas we could, and only turn to specific domain knowledge when it clearly was needed.
slide 4: how they manage

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