[iDC] My Introduction for Mobility Shifts

Losh, Elizabeth elosh at mail.ucsd.edu
Mon Jun 27 21:25:10 UTC 2011

Hi Everyone,

I'm very excited about being one of the co-chairs for Mobility Shifts and partnering with Matt Gold on the Digital Fluencies track of the conference.   For those who don't know me, I've been working on digital pedagogy and e-government initiatives since 1989, back in the days of dial-up, when I ran an after-school computer lab for a California Youth Authority delinquency prevention center that was also a hub of the local Public Electronic Network (http://www.mckeown.net/PENaddress.html).  Later I studied in the Critical Theory program at U.C. Irvine, where I received my Ph.D.  Now I run the Culture, Art, and Technology core curriculum (http://cat.ucsd.edu/) at Sixth College at UC San Diego, where I also teach courses on media theory, digital rhetoric, digital journalism, and electronic literature.  Sixth is one of the institutional partners of the Mobility Shifts conference and is sponsoring faculty and graduate students' travel from UCSD.  I'm also an official blogger for DML Central (http://dmlcentral.net/blog/3660) and have been active in national digital media and learning efforts with Trebor Scholz and others and was included in the recent volume on Learning Through Digital Media (http://learningthroughdigitalmedia.net/).  My official faculty website is here: http://losh.ucsd.edu/

I am the author of Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (MIT Press, 2009).  Generally speaking, I write about institutions as digital content-creators, the discourses of the “virtual state,” the media literacy of policy makers and authority figures, and the rhetoric surrounding regulatory attempts to limit everyday digital practices.  I have published articles about videogames for the military and emergency first-responders, government websites and YouTube channels, state-funded distance learning efforts, digital pedagogy at public institutions, national digital libraries, political blogging, the use of the Web by artists and activists, and the rhetoric of congressional hearings about the Internet.  As a scholar, my specialty is multimodal rhetoric, so I'm also finishing a new first-year textbook with Bedford/St. Martin's, Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Composition, with my frequent collaborator Jonathan Alexander and the artists at Big Time Attic.

My current scholarly book project, The War on Learning: Gaining Ground in the Digital University, looks at a range of digital projects in higher education and the conflicts between regulation and content-creation that universities must negotiate.  The War on Learning is a book about the assumption that digital media deeply divide students and teachers and that a once covert war between “us” and “them” has turned into an open battle between “our” technologies and “their” technologies. On one side “we” the faculty control course management systems, online quizzes, wireless clickers, Internet access to PowerPoint slides and podcasts, and plagiarism detection software.  On the student side “they” are armed with smart phones, laptops, music players, digital cameras, and social network sites and seem to be the masters of these ubiquitous computing and recording technologies that can serve as advanced weapons that allow escape to virtual or social realities far away from the lecture hall or exposure of that lecture hall to the outside world, should they choose to document and broadcast the foibles of their faculty.   Each side is not really fighting the other, I argue; both opponents are actually conducting an incredibly destructive war on learning itself.  The War on Learning also suggests some possible ways forward to foster shared or at least peacefully coexisting cultures of digital fluency that recognize the values of both formal and informal learning.  

This summer I've been working on a number of number of very exciting "big data" and media visualization projects in the digital humanities with my UCSD colleague Lev Manovich and his Cultural Analytics/Software Studies group using very large data sets of digital video drawn from recent archives of political speeches and news broadcasts.  Virtualpolitik is a book about digital rhetoric during the Bush and Clinton eras, which stops before Obama, our first social media president.  I like to think about where the print monograph leaves off as I keep my research relevant and the number objects of study expands exponentially.  You can read more about the group's work here: http://lab.softwarestudies.com/  

I'm bouncing around Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco this summer, so if you want to get together and chat over coffee in advance of the conference, we can probably meet up on the West Coast somewhere, and I'll be in Holland in early September as well.

I look forward to seeing everyone in New York!


Elizabeth Losh
Director of Academic Programs, Sixth College
Culture, Art, and Technology Program
249 Pepper Canyon Hall
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0054
(858) 822-1666
lizlosh at ucsd.edu

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