new (to me) theorist

I found a new name today and really like her take on discourse markers:

Deborah Schiffrin on discourse markers (somewhat paraphrased from The Handbook of Discourse Analysis):

  • Discourse as not only a unit of language, but as a process of social interaction
  • Discourse markers as sequentially dependent elements that bracket units of talk, i.e. nonobligatory utterance – initial items that function in relation to ongoing talk and text
  • a set of linguistic expressions such as conjunctions, interjections, adverb and lexicalized phrases.
  • A discourse model with different planes: participation framework, information state, ideational structure, action structure, and exchange structure
  • can work across 1 or several
  • markers have both global and local functions

this little bit in The Handbook has intrigued me, not least the bits about working on several planes and the global and local functions, and I would like to get my hands on more of her work.

reaching out

i really admire the amount that my university reaches out to students in Umeå. there are different days all through the year when students are invited in to listen or experience or experiment. this friday is one such day and i have the honor of representing the Department of Modern Languages to 4 groups of 12 and 13 year olds. we will begin by watching a movie (gotta love imovie) which shows what we are working on now, interesting projects combining the humanities and IT – world wide, and finishes by proposing future research in keeping with the theme of the students being the agents of future research, they will move through 5 stations: machimina, blogging, hypertexts, gaming, and a poetry project. very much looking forward to interacting with the students!

on the news about blogs tonight

Tonight (7:15 CET) i will be on svt (the local news) about whether or not i think blogs are a democratic form of media, and more specifically what i think about the Danielsson case. i am not sure if i will just talk, or answer questions but after reading the first blog post and from what i previously believe about blogging vs. journalism this is the jist of what i would like to say:

  • Blogging is NOT journalism (all bloggers sigh once again, the old debate is back)

Blogging and journalism play by different rules. While they do have some things in common, they also have different goals and guidelines. Yes, they both publish. And yes, they both potentially reach thousands, even millions of people. However, journalists have an ethical obligation to give an unbiased version of events. Blogs, on the other hand, are anything but unbiased. Blogs are written by people who have a *strong* interest in what they are writing about. A bloggers passion about his or her topic is what keeps him blogging year after year. The blogger becomes a self-proclaimed expert in his chosen topic. And while bloggers do not need to worry about being objective, they also do not receive the same benefits of the journalist. For example, in the Danielsson case, Ingerö alludes to varies sources for the rumor he writes. Under Swedish law, if he were a journalist, he would be able to keep the identity of those sources private. If he were to be sued for deformation of character as a blogger, however, I believe that he would have to reveal those sources. Blogging is not journalism it is publishing with a purpose.

  • Blogging ethics and identity

When you blog, you build a reputation, an online identity over time. No one is going to read your first post and say, hey, this girl really knows her stuff! i am going to read everything she ever writes and believe every word. And while the latter is a bit of an exaggeration, I think the thought behind it is more common in journalism. If I am reading something I have found in the Guardian, I am much more likely to believe it – even if it is my first time reading the author. If I read Joe Smileys guide to sociolinguistics – a new and wonderful (fictional) blog, I will read it critically for a while before I make up my mind. Once a blogger has built that reputation, to keep it, he or she must be accountable for the things written in the blog. You cant go yell the sky is falling with out a piece of it in your hand. If you do, be prepared to face the consequences – be those from the media, the blogowhorl, or the laws of your country. You are publishing, you are accountable.

  • Reading critically is key

Blogging is called push button publishing, publishing for the people , and all matters of look everyone can do it phrases. The key thing to remember is that *everyone* can do it. Yep, anyone with an Internet connection, and something to say can have their own blog in a matter of minutes. Just because google has cached something and spit it back out in your search results does. not. make. it. fact. You have to be a critical reader! Check your sources, find out where the information is coming from. Dont believe everything in print not when everyone can be Gutenberg.

  • Blogging echos

Bloggers form little (sometimes big) networks. And like any good social network, we talk among ourselves, give each other support, spread bits of news, and enjoy each others company. Blogging, unlike journalism, has a very social side. We network and news echos between us. That news can be taken outside the network by periphery members and spread to other networks, only to echo again. This is how news spreads – because blogs network. (Consequently, journalism has created ways to network news using international new networks such as AP).

Do I believe what Ingerö said about Danielsson was right? For me, it is irrelevant. I dont care whether he was or was not having an affair. What I am more concerned with the free speech versus accountability debate. I am concerned that bloggers continue to fill in the gaps left by  traditional media (this is NOT a slight on traditional mediaas I have stated before, traditional media and blogs have *different* objectives). Bloggers can and should have a voice. Big money and big media should not be the only voice of the public. Blogs are the online public (third) space where we can discuss, protest, meet and enlighten. This space is necessary for free speech. We do, however, need to consider what we say. We are accountable for our thoughts and actions, just as we are in the public spaces our physical bodies inhabit.

by george, i think shes got it!

i have been floundering for a while now, trying to fit what i am seeing in weblog communities into the linguistic model i had previously chosen and i tried, and i read, and i was just *not* making the connections! when i started working with lilia and anjo, i began to dabble in sociolinguistic theories, but never really let my feet get  too wet because it was not the theory i was supposed to be using. well, i finally gave up! i have stopped trying to force my data into a prescribed model of linguistics when there is another that actually fits! it is the Cinderella slipper of my data and i am going to embrace it! ok all exuberance aside, i am so excited about modifying my thesis to use sociolinguistic models rather than cognitive blending! i checked out every book the library has and have read most by now. i am drinking up the literature like my morning coffee and everything just makes sense! in a little under two weeks, i get to present all this new stuff to the linguists in my department as well as to a few over skype. (an aside, i like this experimental way of conducting a seminar skyping in potential opponents.) soon that note, i will leave you with the best sentence i have read so far this morning

“(Linguistic) Changes do not simply spread through the population person by person, but get taken up and manipulated by communities of practice in the construction of social meaning.” –P. Eckert