Category Archives: Mindmap

The Mindmap that is Not (but tries to be, if only for a moment)

I enjoy visualizing things. I really do. One thing I definitely do more of after taking this course is visualizing in new ways. When I visualized in the past, it tended to be with paper and pencil, and an attempt to draw things in that visceral way. In the heat of an excited epiphany, I still tend to reach for paper/pencil, either to jot or to draw. Old habits die hard, and, well, these tools are ubiquitous, cheap, and don’t require batteries or cords.

But I find my life and learning transitioning ever more to the digital realm. I also am doing more natively digital, vs. using a paper-based process and then transliterating it to the digital. Google Drive is now a regular part of my thought process, and I see benefits to parking my thinking in Popplets as well.  Being forced to continue in a visual media, and to revamp and revisualize thinking over time using Popplet has forced me to think about how ALL the things might fit together, rather than as a series of blog posts or reading notes. Being forced to reconceptualize it in a non-linear way, too, is a good exercise for extending critical thinking and making connections. I had already done that a few weeks before we were assigned to do so, as that method began to make more sense to me in terms of finding places of consonance and dissonance. Thus, my last few MindMap posts and updates have been on this new format, organized around the questions we were using with our Case Studies, modified slightly to create some über-nodes, Castells-style.

It is also nice to have a record of my developing thought processes over the course of the semester. I see how at first I was using the tool as a kind of note-taking place, adding quotes surrounded by the particular authors. This makes sense as a start since I didn’t have a lot to connect the ideas to. This approach quickly became unwieldy, both due to the size of Popplet boxes and it kept me within each text, even though I could draw lines between authors. What frustrated me a bit was that I couldn’t demonstrate the TYPE of connection with the lines. I enjoyed the Theory Tree better because we could have some basis of describing influence: citations, publication dates. That made me think that a network and a visualization have this in common: both need a basis and protocols to define the parameters for what is being connected, why, and how. There must be an “according to” that regulates what gets included and how it is placed. Otherwise, it can resemble stream-of-consciousness or a scatter-plot that doesn’t converge. I felt my original mind-map was becoming that way: mere boxes and lines without a structure. Although I recognize this now as a more organic or rhizomatic growth structure, it was not conducive for constructing meaning (beyond the meaning that connections could be made anywhere).

I am struck by the notions that several of our authors made (help me out here: Foucault, Biesecker, Latour, D&G, I believe), that one MUST construct meaning, one must impose subjectivity, one must recognize the imperfectness of any map or graph or use of language to describe or capture or “see” or “mean”, but one must use these tools nonetheless. Otherwise, we have no individual agency or means to construct, resist, narrate, make sense, or in a Cartesian sense, to exist. Earlier in the semester I was playing with Cogito Ergo Sum and variants earlier in the semester. Loquor ergo sum (I speak, therefore I am) might be useful for rhetorical theory, the idea that the act of discourse is not only epistemological and ontological, but also existential. Scribo ergo sum (I write, therefore I am) is useful in terms of rhet/comp and genres. The creation of text, of artifacts, of boundary objects and actants, creates and constructs reality. Bazerman, Miller, Hall, Popham, Johnson-Eilola, Joyce, Spinuzzi, and possibly (I have not decided yet) Rickert would agree. But the one I was really thinking about for the 21st century information society is Intersum ergo sum, I am involved/participate, therefore I am. It seems to me that nothing is made, understood, or exists except in relation to another (which has been a theme in our reading all semester). I am my own network. We are the network. The network is us. Reticulum est nobis. A mesh. A weave. We are the weavers and the wearers. We are we.

May the Mindmap Be Ever in Your Favor

This week’s Mindmap gets double duty because I neglected to map Castells the previous week. I have colored Castells red in the same way as I colored Post-Modernism/Foucault. I see Castells as theorizing the same kind 0f global über-theory as Foucault, even if they aren’t saying the same things. Both are attempting to theorize “the way things are” and how we, as societies and individuals making them up, think, do, and interact.

In adding Castells, I was able to see how his system of networks within networks, and all networks not being made equally, could jive with ecosystems theory of systems within systems, and constraints due to access and protocol. I was also able to see the tension between an idealistic flattened hierarchy and the hierarchies of power that exist — not all nodes or networks are created equal. Furthermore, these constantly change, depending on needs, which can be based on capital: financial or human.

I added Social Media theory (Rainie, Wellman, Scott) as an orange set, the same color as CHAT and activity theory. I grouped them together as both are setting up and mapping traces and what users actually DO in a system. I see connections between Spinnuzi’s user modifications and movement away from designer-as-hero, and the activity by users of social media and how they determine by their actions the shape of the network. The users themselves create the design through their activity system. Every piece of content on the web is an “action potential” (another connection I made to neurobiology in looking at the Popplet) that is actualized through user activity. It is then inscribed and becomes the preferred neuro-pathway via repetition, sharing, and being valued.

I put D&G as the same color as ecosystems, since their rhizome concept is organic and based on interconnectedness.

I am discovering that some of the questions around which I based this Popplet Redux (which are the questions for the Case Studies) are really related to each other and causing me to converge on some similar answers. So I plan to reorganize the map to consolidate or at least bring those similar nodes into closer contact with each other. That’s for next week!


My Mind is an ever-changing Map

This week I added more gray boxes to signify information related to neurobiology. They are gray, as are the ecosystems boxes from last week, partly because I am out of colors in the Popplet scheme, and partly because I rationalized that the biological stuff could go together. Certainly one is a macro view and one is a micro view, but from the lens of considering each a network, their relationships among constituent parts makes some sense.

I discovered that my main theme for the week seemed to converge around the inability to transform a message as it is relayed through the neuronal network. It moves along without the message itself changing (although the strength and intensity of the signal can be altered via hormones and neurotransmitters).  HOWEVER, the movement of the message itself, makes changes in the brain, in the network. It may inscribe a new pathway or make a former one stronger. So it is change but without agency; a kind of transformation that occurs despite conscious awareness or intention. I had thought about mediators (ANT) as being transformative as a result of an intention to create change — at least by someone. But in looking at this neurobiological system, it seems there can be change that happens merely in the course of the doing, not according to some plan, or exigence. I have more to mull there.

Here we go updating the Popplet, the Popplet, the Popplet

This week I added the gray boxes that have to do with Ecosystems and Affordances and Constraints. The new Popplet (Redux) is organized around the questions for the case study, forcing me to add information related to how this theory describes a network. I was able to add a lot about ecosystems, as they are comprised of relationships with energy moving within it. The Popplet and those questions helped me to focus in on the agency and lack of agency that is assumed within and ecosystem, a theory which really helps you explain a particular node, an individual within the system. I’m interested in how that individual has both instinctual and inherent qualities that govern its behavior as well as the limitations of perception and analysis of the ecosystem to provide benefit to the individual. There is a dance between affordance and constraint, not just a listing of the two. It seems to me that the dance — the tension, the movement — is what constructs the system.

Distributed Cognition of CCCC

I made a Popplet to capture the ecologies of CCCC.

4Cs had several perceived affordances to me:

  • Networking – Connecting and Reconnecting
  • Learning
  • Fangirling
  • Rhetorically positioning myself and my research agenda
  • Play
  • Strengthened bonds
  • Potentialities for the future
  • Fun

The conference’s interfaces afforded multiple ways for me to enact what I had perceived as WIIFM:

  • Physical spaces and subspaces
  • Virtual spaces
  • Artifacts
  • People

The conference is NONE of the things above alone. It exists in the relationship between them and the information that flows (and is transformed) among the nodes. As Gibson notes, the more complex the structure, the more it affords. CCCC is very complex, and its affordances are nearly limitless. I have detailed my own diegesis,  my own experience of the conference on my Popplet, as well as my own perceived affordances. Someone else, however, would perceive different affordances and have a very different experience, even though we all attended the same conference. There is no one conference narrative, or one way to use or modify the conference experience. It exists, and is there to be co-created by those interacting within it.


Mindmap Reboot.

Theories of Networks MindMap Redux

Partial pic of new MindMap attempting to organize learning about Theories of Networks. Work in Progress.

Um, yeah. I’d had enough. It was a mess. Time to throw out the old and (re)create the new. I had permission to do so. I am not stuck with the old musings. They are not for naught. They got me to this point. And now I’m leaving them in the dust like the sophomoric musings they are.

ANNNNNNNDDDD, I’ll admit it. I drew this on paper first. And then went to the computer screen and the required Popplet interface. I like my pencil to paper. I move quicker. I am trying to decide if this is “preference” or “age.” Or are they synonymous?

Hmmmm….. I don’t compose writing from paper and remediate to screen. I write at the computer. I list and I draw on paper. I pre-write on paper. That’s an interesting insight. Pre-paper. Compose-computer. How alliterative of me.

The new MindMap is a work-in-progress as I am still reorganizing my thinking around the new nodes. I used the questions from the case studies (modifying one of them) as the main nodes that are defining “A Theory of a Network.” And from those questions, I set up some sub-nodes that further distribute the concept into logical spaces of their own. I then established a color-coded key (which you can see at the top of the MindMap and the top of this post. I combined Foucault with Post-Modernism/Deconstruction and with Hypertext theory as they seem to have some of the same general principles of a lack of origin, defining by difference and by the temporal nature of the structure and the meaning. I also combined CHAT and Activity Theory (I’m still not sure if they are the same or not). Unfortunately I will run out of colors soon, and without the ability to change the color of the text, I will be up against Popplet’s affordances again. However, I think I can make the connections and the distinctions more visible this way, and I am hoping that I will be able to “see” how the various theories interrelate, especially as ways to explain networks, using this new structure. I’m going to keep working on it this week as I continue to mull and connect. Need more driving and showering for more epiphanies.

Hyper text MindMap Update

Maury Brown's MindMap for Theories of Network

Updates to Mindmap, 3/2/14. To see the full MindMap, click here:

This week I added a few nodes for Hypertext theory (saving all of LaTour for next week). I focused on the attributes of Hypertext: temporary narratives called together by the interaction of user and media; a conflation of reader/writer; a bringing together of items under the agency of a reader/writer/user who has an exigence and will make rhetorical choices about how to navigate through the given content (genres?)

My MindMap itself is a good example of hypertext in that it moves across two-dimensional plane of the map as a visualization of the ideas I have had as a reader/writer, mapped over time and space, within the limits of the interface, and presented through it. You, as reader/writer, can visit my map and move through it at your discretion and order, choosing to click on links given to other sites or multimedia items as you like. Not everyone will interact with the text the same way, and that is simultaneously powerful and frightening, as the author/owner loses the ability to control how the information is presented and the reader/user may build new knowledge that is alternately or simultaneously empowering and disorienting. Conclusions drawn may be different from those intended and communication may break down. New ideas and innovations may be produced as well, leading to new texts.

I turned the Popples red like Foucault on my map, as both are thematically talking about unities/disunities; the coming together of words and participants to create something that then dissolves. Both also are talking about an archaeologist or curator who makes (rhetorical) decisions.

I also connected it to the Social Action node that I had added with Spinuzzi. Johnson-Eiola remarks that all decisions and texts are politically motivated and that the affordances and constraints of a given technology and utterance can be both empowering and disempowering simultaneously. Who benefits, how and why, and whether that should merely be noted or manipulated are all questions to ask. I also connect Hypertext to Biesecker, as I see it as playing out some of the same approaches to the rhetorical situation as she describes.

I do not connect it to genre theory at this time. I am not of the opinion that hypertext is a genre. I believe it is a medium to display genres and move among and between them.

Le mew, Le purr, Le CHAT

Je pense en français ce semaine, après de visiter le pays. J’ai mangé trop, et je suis très fatigué, mais Paris est belle. Alor, je retourne à l’anglais maintenant. Merci pour me l’ecoute!

Mon Popplet est ici:

This week, I added information from Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and Prior et al’s remaking of the rhetorical canons into three levels of activity. I attempted to connect those three levels to Spinuzzi’s three levels: Microscopic, Mesoscopic and Macroscopic. I began to wonder if the would correspond, with acculturation and external motivations  corresponding (laminated chronotropes) corresponding to the level of strategy and the big picture of social action. I did not connect this to the social action node on my network, though, as I believe there are two definitions of social action at work throughout these texts: one that is complicit with the dominant discourse and one that is resistant.

I’m in the process of mediating and remediating my thinking via this mindmap. It is becoming a laminated chronotope of layers of my thinking, with various embodied constructs; an externalization of my internalized thoughts as I interact with the activity system created by this course. I am the subject, interacting with an object (CHAT theory) and the objective (to map my thinking), using artifacts (my computer, Popplet), guided by rules (of the assignment, of the encoded capabilities of Popplet), with a motive (understanding, good grade, esteem) and my labor is evidenced via this distributed knowledge that is the Popplet, which is part of my blog, which is part of the class blog, which includes my classmates’ blogs, which links to other content on the web. My cognitive processes are, then, mediated by this interaction.

I’m beginning to think of LARP mechanics, costumes, and utterances as “tools”, which are “embodied constructs” and maybe that is a way to think about the non-diagetic elements creeping across the game boundaries to influence play. If the tools/artifacts themselves contain these constructs, then the game is a lamination, a layering of them, brought into “play” through their use. Thus players are constantly mediated by their culture; but that would be out-of-game and in-game capital and situation.



Mindmap, mindmap, why do I forget thee?

Check out my newly updated Mindmap here:

This time, I added some information about Activity theory and Spinuzzi’s main concepts of centripetal and centrifugal forces in communication; designer-as-hero/user-as-victim; and macro/meso/microscopic.

I spent time asking questions on the Popplet, so I see these as temporary Popples, a place to park  my thinking as I try to connect the various theorists together. It seems to me that there are moments of unity that converge around an object, and that various theorists call this by different names. There also seem to be tensions that create the structures, which would not exist without the tension. A genre (or a manual, or an SOP, etc.) seems to be like the “skin” on the top of a glass of water. Transparent, existing but not always seen or thought of, a boundary that is crossed seamlessly in order to enact or demonstrate an action.

I’m also beginning to think that Bitzer-esque desires to categorize and create genres is an impulse of most rhetoricians, and that the creation of such theories and “boxes” and “structures” is necessary to generate the discipline. It’s about creating boundaries and staking claims.

Lastly, I made a big Popple called Deviance, because I think that this is going to be even more important and a place of convergence, but I’m not sure how yet.

Image from:

Mind Map Week 4: Adding Genre Theory

If my Popplett below doesn’t show up as a functioning Flash object, please click on these words or the image to visit the Popplett.
This week I just added a node of key terms from the How Stuff Works readings related to Genre Theory. As I was reading Bazerman, Popham, and Miller, I kept coming back to the concept of the Router and the packets of information that travel along the network. I kept thinking of the genre as functioning as the router — sitting BETWEEN  two nodes OR between two networks. Routers have this function of regulating and translating. Routers that sit between networks “speak”  the protocols (rules) of the networks that connect to it, even if the protocols for a particular network are discrete. That made me think of the distinction Miller makes between the two types of rules — constitutive and regulative — each governing a discourse community or member of the rhetorical transaction. Routers would translate and mediate between those two sets of rules, making them parallel and “talk” to each other. Without the Router — you’ve got miscommunication, malfunction, a Tower of Babel.

I also started thinking then of routers as genres as boundary objects. Genres sitting at the edges, like Popham says, of two different networks or nodes. A router is clearly a boundary object; it is in the liminal space between, it is the knitter of the interstitial spaces. It is what allows discourse.

I think thought of genres as allowing discourse, as controlling and regulating it, discourse as not existing — or functioning — without them. Genres then, are sites of dynamism, not distinct entities that circumscribe into a unity. Genres are embodiments of discourse, housing the activity that creates it. A genre then functions not a  container to “house” but as a sieve to flow through. I’ll have to try to draw that. Popplett is not the proper tool.

I spent some time, Spinuzzi-style, trying to make Popplet do what I, as the user, wanted it to do. I am going to try to make nested Popplets next week, in an attempt to show networks within networks and more complex systems than 2-D linear ones.