Wednesday, November 19, 2008

That Dang Thing: Computers and Older User

In 2004, Cynthia Selfe and Gail Hawisher published Literate Lives in an Information Age, a study of over 350 computer users. The book is an important work of research that details compellingly the way people from different walks of life acquire what Selfe and Hawisher call “literacies of technology” (2).

In making their case, they look at race, class, and gender barriers, but among the twenty case studies they focus on, there are few older computer users. After reading their book, then, I became curious about the way seniors acquire this literacy. What barriers remain for those looking to reach out? What features of websites need to be changed to make online environments more welcoming to seniors? What training services are available through widely known organizations like AARP? To what proven extent does computer use combat loneliness among older users, especially the bereaved?

And, centrally, does technological literacy mean something different for those users whose adult lives mostly pre-dated wide computer use? For them, does literacy still constitute, in the words of Selfe and Hawisher, “the power to enact change in the world” (82), or can literacy merely be the ability to connect to that world?

I want to first survey the pertinent literature on older computer users since there are some disagreements about both barriers and benefits. An important early study, “Silver Surfers: Training and Evaluating Internet Use among Older Adult Learners,” argues strongly for senior immersion in technology. M.J. Cody, et al., suggest that the elderly “represent one of the largest groups of information 'have nots' in the United States, and [. . .] would benefit in many ways from gaining computer literacy” (269).

That study was based on a long-term training program in an extended-care facility and found that seniors who completed the training felt a sense of well-being:

"Once trained, online adult learners experienced feelings of social support, connectivity, and reduced technology-related anxiety. Some learned to spend hours online each week, and some became absorbed in searching websites, emailing, and gathering news online." (281)

The problem with their work was that the sample was mostly self-selecting, and the results of the study showed, self-evidently, that people willing to go through training are not necessarily emblematic of a wider senior population. Besides that shortcoming, I want to include questions that Cody, et al., ask that underline my own inquiry. They write, “How can we train [. . .] older adults to use the Internet and to fulfill social and information needs? Can we demonstrate that Internet access will produce the intended, desirable, cognitive, educational, and social outcomes?” (270)

While they believe they do illustrate that these advances are possible, many studies downplay the effect of Internet use on the well-being of seniors, finding the Cody study overly-optimistic. The authors of the article “Computer Use Has No Demonstrated Impact on the Well-Being of Older Adults” need not be quoted for us to realize their opinion, but others echo less forcefully. Karin Slegers, et al., report,

"[W]e did not find consistent evidence for an impact, either positive or negative, of using computers and the Internet on several aspects of well-being and autonomy of healthy older adults. This implies that [. . .] the benefits of computer and Internet-related activities for personal use are limited." (180)

Kevin Wright, meanwhile, hypothesizing that Internet use could be a locus of social support for grieving people, found that Internet users and non-Internet users proclaimed equal levels of that support. In fact, “low Internet communicators tended to have higher non-Internet support satisfaction scores” (110).

What this tells me is not that the Internet saps real-life support, but that people who don't have attention from their families and friends may use, and need, the Internet differently than those who do. Negative reports, of course, need to be mitigated by the fact that many seniors for whom the Internet might be a help are still excluded from its use.

Writing in the wonderfully titled article “The Information Aged,” Neil Selwyn suggests that “[T]he potential of [information and communications technologies] for empowerment of older adults has been tempered by a succession of reports that technology is proving in practice to be an activity that many older adults are excluded from” (370).

I want to look now at the numerous barriers that keep Internet use more difficult than it should be. Certainly access has to be first in our minds. Economic and other factors contribute to limited technological resources. According to Robert J. Campbell, “In the United States, elderly adults make up 13% of the population, with only 4% using the Internet. Overall, 56% of America is online and out of that percentage, only 15% age 65 and over have direct access to the Internet” (162).

Added to the fact that many people don't have the hardware, others feel a deep anxiety about computers. Slegers notes this and combines it with an argument about education: “It seems that older adults with lower education levels and who need more time for everyday tasks are more prone to lack of technology adoption” (182).

Though many of these gerontology reports seem to make obvious points, it's important to remember that advances in technology have often been understood to widen already stark educational and socioeconomic gaps. Again, it's an irony that those who feel anxious about Internet use might be the very same people who would benefit most from affirming online relationships and the opportunities therein.

We can make the same assumption about those with physical ailments who could benefit from online access to health information. Interestingly, Wright “predicted that those engaging in more social online activity would report more health and mental problems, and more limits to daily life due to health problems, compared to less social users” (39).

There are correlations, then, between physical ailments and increased online activity as well as correlations between physical ailments and inability to engage in that activity. Scholars (and seniors) often cite vision problems and arthritis as common villains.

Three of the biggest barriers can be understood together, I think. First, we should keep in mind the additional time it takes novice computer users to do simple desktop tasks and the fact that that situation will generally be worse for older users. Even the requirement to double-click a mouse can be prohibitive. This frustration adds to the difficulty of learning; plus, older users often feel resentment to new technology that they have always gotten along fine without.

Even my mother, who is only in her late fifties, feels a sense of inferiority (and nostalgia for a pre-computer time) when she comes face-to-face with anything on the computer that thwarts her. Often, we discount what is either hard for us to learn or what seems not to have an application. Selwyn hits on this as he summarizes oral histories he conducted with older people:

As we saw from our interviews with current nonusers of computers, having no need or no interest in using computers is a regularly cited and powerful rationale [for nonuse]. There is a need here to consider the 'relative advantage' and 'situation relevance' of [information and communications technology] use for older adults. (382)

Time issues surrounding learning, and the belief that computers are “just not for me” are symptoms of technological mistrust. These barriers might be remedied with some old-fashioned product placement; those who see the possible benefits of computer use among older users and are seeking to help them become active members of lively computer activity need only to look for ways to package their information in recognizable and useful terms.

Medical professionals, local news sources, church groups, and senior-advocacy organizations can be deliverers of the computer-education goods, thereby combatting computer illiteracy and mistrust. Theirs are the organizations that engender trust, and they can be the proverbial spoon full of sugar that helps the technological medicine go down.

AARP, for instance, has published a number of articles with titles like “Computers Aren't Scary.” That sort of campaign combined with the down-to-earth message that computers can be useful will go a long way toward opening up what Selfe and Hawisher call “technological gateways” (26).

There should be no conclusive study that computer use is either a panacea or a worthless activity for seniors.

My response to the negative studies that show no discernible benefit and my response to those who see computers as merely a hobby is to think of this machine as a hammer. It has its functions if used well and it's undeniable that such a tool can be a benefit. Does a hammer change lives? It certainly can. And while this analogy is admittedly problematic, it comes from a place of frustration about sociological studies that try to measure objectively unmeasurable things like well-being and happiness; those studies' statistical models show no numerical increase in happiness and write off the possible individual social benefits of literacies of technology.

That said, Utopian studies that find Internet use radically bettering lives might need to be a bit more moderate, too. With this paper, then, I want to resist wide declarations either way and focus instead on small steps that can be taken to open technological gateways, literacy gateways.

Being sensitive to the needs of older users is paramount for computer programmers and designers, web writers and advertisers. We should remember that older users might not need so much to be brought up to speed as they need to be considered and included during the generation of web content.

Selwyn writes, “[R]ather than trying to change older adults, older adults should be involved in changing [information and communications technology] to be more of an attractive, interesting, or useful option [. . .]” (382). I want to take a concise look, then, at some websites that are geared toward seniors and at studies on web-design issues as they pertain to senior-user accessibility.

T.A. Hart, et al.'s article “Evaluating Websites for Older Adults [. . .]” lays out a set of guidelines that I use to analyze the “senior-friendliness” (Hart) of and While they write that “more companies have begun to design software and hardware that accommodate the needs of the ageing [sic] user,” their article insists that more should be done, especially in the areas of large text size, clear site maps, and simple hyperlinks.

They find that more than half of sites that are geared toward seniors, not to mention general interest sites, are not compliant in these areas. They also note that tight spacing, inconsistent layout, and pull-down menus cause problems. But how does fare when we consider the guidelines Hart cites?

I visited the site a number of times in November 2008. It's relatively clear, but strikes me as a busy site; there are nearly thirty boxes above the fold and the words are relatively small. It uses light text on light backgrounds and employs pull-down menus. The National Institute on Aging's guidelines that Hart cites suggest that websites should use icons as hyperlinks, but does not always do this.

I don't include these details to condemn the site, but rather to give us a sense of the small design issues that can keep senior-users at arm's length, even on sites that were born for their use. For instance, offers FAQ, help, and site tour options, but none of them are immediately apparent on the home page. A page like this ought to be a technological gateway, and, though it offers useful services, its presentation could improve to allow for easy learning, not only about how to navigate this site, but how to navigate a wider online community.

By typing “computer” into the search bar, though, we do find that offers many articles to help the novice user. Their slogan is, after all, “the power to make it better,” which reminds me of Selfe and Hawisher's definition of literacy. And so, in order to improve computer literacy skills of the site's visitors, includes articles like “Where to Find Computer Help,” “User Groups Help Solve Computer Problems,” and “Older Americans Turn to Their Children for Computer Support.”, a dating site, has an simpler look, but it lacks help pages, too. It's a membership site and so allows only basic contact without payment. The page, though, and other sites like, provide possible support systems for single and widowed seniors. One visitor wrote “I love this site!! It's so easy to use!! I'm not so shy anymore.”

Such anecdotal evidence speaks to the connection between ease of use and possibility for social support. It strikes me that this particular comment can refer to both social and technological shyness. The assumption is that if we lessen technological shyness, increase technological literacy, we might see a decrease in social shyness online. In fact, loneliness, both romantic and otherwise, is at the center of my inquiry.

I call for more studies in the Selfe-Hawisher vein so that we can understand better the way loneliness can actually be a catalyst for increased Internet activity, and how that activity can counteract those feelings. Selwyn quotes seniors saying that use “makes you independent” (373) and that it “keeps the brain ticking a bit” (379), but to what extent can it keep the heart ticking, to what extent have loneliness and loss inspired seniors to acquire the literacies of technology?

And how might content generators be more attuned to the needs of these folks? We can generally assume how those in their twenties and thirties acquired their computer skills, but for this older population, new collections of oral histories may reveal whether social necessity compels many seniors to take the leap and double click.

Shima Sum concludes in a study that “greater use of the Internet as a communication tool was associated with a lower level of social loneliness. In contrast, greater use of the Internet to find new people was associated with a higher level of emotional loneliness” (208).

Further research should gather the stories of these people in order to understand how their acquisitions of literacies of technology were connected to loneliness. For younger people, computer use has much to do with education and professional advancement; it's a baseline skill in high school and college courses. Social activity is in many ways an added bonus, an important diversion.

It seems that for many older people, though, social activity on the Internet is the first sign of their increasing computer literacy. Instead of the “power to enact change,” then, literacy for them may be about the power to make friends. In one of the oral histories I conducted, Barbara Duncan reported that “even my husband's mother who's 82 got a computer just a few years ago to be able to email her family.” Certainly, others move beyond family to meet those with common interests and common sufferings.

Of course, this sort of connection is often part and parcel with grief and the loss of a spouse. Seniors who are suddenly thrust into independence sometimes acquire literacy on these terms. Shapira, Barak, and Gal write, “[T]he Internet has created new opportunities for people in distress when traditional resources are unreachable or unattainable or require special effort. These opportunities include online therapy and counseling, online support groups and health-related information” (477).

And Wright rightly writes, “Older adults occasionally may use Internet relationships to cope with major stressful events, but, based on findings from previous research, I suggest [. . .that. . .] [s]eniors will have larger companionship networks than social support networks on the Internet” (105).

Though Wright's study implies that seniors seek informal ties as a sort of distraction from sadness, Jeffrey Noel and Joel Epstein argue that “[i]n this context of aging and loss, even social ties that are otherwise considered 'weak' provide a vital connection to the world, and a feeling of self-worth.” (38). We might consider senior Internet use in similar terms: even so-called 'weak' technological literacy skills can provide a sort of online senior center for those users looking to reach out and actively fill their days with company.

Selfe and Hawisher have paved the way for oral histories on the literacies of technology to be a primary mode of understanding computer use and, again, I call for a collection focusing on the stories of seniors who acquired skills for social reasons, for solace.

If we compare the language of gerontological studies with that of Selfe and Hawisher's contributors, we get a sense of what can be added by such a study. Shapira, Barak, and Gal write “[E]lderly people who began using the Internet felt less depressed and lonely, more satisfied with life [. . .] than did people who were engaged in other activities for the same period of time” (481); but gleaning that from a real person gives us a much better sense of the process of learning, of the quality of progression. Louise Flora, for instance, puts a face on the generalizations:

"It's a wonderful learning experience [. . .] The older you get, the more you need to use your brain power to keep it from atrophying" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 14 Dec. 2004).

Statistical and sociological studies are one thing, but for those of us in literacy studies, we need to follow Selfe and Hawisher's lead to hear the voices of the subjects, hear their triumphs and frustrations.

With those stories in hand, we'll know better what recommendations to make to content providers and those interested in promoting senior use of the Internet. We'll see, I think, that literacy can be about both “the power to enact change in the world” and the power to type “hello” on a lonely morning.

Works Cited: 19 Nov. 2008.

Cody, Michael J, Deborah Dunn, Shari Hoppin, and Pamela Wendt. “Silver Surfers: Training and Evaluating Internet Use Among Older Adult Learners.” Communication Education 48 (1999): 269-286.

Ellison, Jake. “Seniors Enter Cyberspace through Computer School.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 14 Dec. 2004. 19 Nov. 2008. .

Hart, T.A., B. S. Chaparro, and C. G. Halcomb. “Evaluating Websites for Older Adults: Adherence to 'Senior-Friendly' Guidelines and End-User Performance. Behaviour & Information Technology 27 (2008): 191-199.

Noel, Jeffrey G. and Joel Epstein. “Social Support and Health among Senior Internet Users: Results of an Online Survey. Journal of Technology in Human Services 21 (2003): 35-54.

Selfe, Cynthia L. and Gail E. Hawisher. Literate Lives in an Information Age. Philadelphia: Erlbaum, 2004.

Selwyn, Neil. “The Information Aged: A Qualitative Study of Older Adults' Use of Information and Communications Technology. Journal of Aging Studies 18 (2004): 369-384. 19 Nov. 2008.

Shapira N., A Barak, and I. Gal. “Promoting Older Adults' Well-Being through Internet Training and Use. Aging and Mental Health 11 (2007): 477-484.

Slegers, Karin, Martin P.J. van Boxtel, and Jelle Jolles. “Effects of Computer Training and Internet Usage on the Well-Being and Quality of Life of Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Study.” The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences 63 (2008): 176-184.

Sum, Shima, R. Mark Matthews, Ian Hughes, and Andrew Campbell. “Internet Use and Loneliness in Older Adults.” Cyberpsychology & Behavior 11 (2008): 208-211.

Wright, Kevin. “Computer-Mediated Social Support, Older Adults, and Coping.” Journal of Communication 50 (100-117).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Erraticism - Reflection on the Project

Our website, Erratic Poeticomic, dropped today.

It has me thinking tonight about the word "erratic," how it's topically come to mean dangerously unpredictable, how it's typically negative. And, yes, erratic comes from errare, to stray, to err. It connects for me to essai (essay); over in nonfiction, we think of the essay as an attempt. We try to try (to try) something new, to diverge wildly, to wander-err, hoping, of course, that our divergences and errances describe a meaningful orbit around a theme-sun.

I, for one, fail often.

I stumble down the incorrect of two roads. With a different sentence structure, I flail. I make what Dinty Moore calls glorious messes.

To me, our erraticism on this website has been that kind of mess. It's a glorious attempt.

Let me put it another way. I like to mix all the food on my plate. Sometimes ketchup mixes with green bean. OK. Sometimes it's fruit with meat. Not great. But sometimes the combination works out (potato with tomato).

I think Brett, Lydia, and I heaped our work into a delicious casserole. It could use a different spice here or there and some more baking, but this time three cooks in the kitchen was not too many. In some ways, we attempted something not one of us had a solid grasp of. What each of us added, though, brought our project more clearly into focus. We were trying. To have fun. To think about poetry carefully. To joke glibly about anaphora. To see where a new idea might bring us.

So, I want our "erratic" to mean "wandering," "trying."

And trying it was: the lighting in the CSC lab does not make one happy to be considering the lighting in the CSC lab. I have blisters on my fingers. . .from clicking. Today, I saw a font and, still worried about the clarity of emotion in my Applebee's poem, thought pensively, "Oh, could that indicate pensive?"

Ultimately, this project was trying because it was different. I'm a results-driven learner, and dreamweaver, comiclife, and all of our rhetorical inspirations required something new from me: patience. I think I've succeeded (with the group and individually) in learning these unfamiliar programs, but I want to be honest about my limitations. I'm still not much with a mouse. I still reach for the artistic gimmick (be it in image or word). My attempts at revision still resemble the quick fix more than the full detailing.

I cringe when I'm thinking hard. Sometimes, I think I need to cringe a bit harder.

But I would like to echo Lydia in that this project required a certain single-mindedness, a certain irrationality. When, last Wednesday, I was laying on the floor on top of Ashley Good posing as a dead man for Lydia's comic. . .When I felt volcanic stomach pains after my second consecutive supper at Applebee's (usually relatively reliable if you stay away from the profane nachos). . .When I begged over and over to illustrate the three of us with fire shooting out of our heads, I had to wonder if I was pushing it a bit far (or even in the wrong direction).

But we had good, level heads about things. We knew when to be crazy (we started calling that "wazy" for some reason having to do with anticipatory political correctness) and when to be moderate. And during our fast-talking, computer-cursing, Avalanche-pizza-eating moments of malaise, one or another of us perked up (perhaps naively) with a "this'll be great. It'll be great. This'll link to that. Then we'll have some stuff there. And it'll be great."

If I make it sound like we lacked a blue-print, I'm doing a disservice to Lydia (endlessly energetic) and Brett (tenaciously reassuring). From the beginning we had this "ic" trope. We needed to encompass poetic, comic, rhetoric, generic, and serio-ludic. We ended up throwing in filmic, too. With that loose, but catalyt(ic) plan, we converted idea to image and the br(ic)ks began falling into place.

Dave Grover and Rob Strong should be commended for their assistance before it gets too late. Rob changed an article about Saddam Hussein into an article about Nicole Kidman for me for my comic poem. Such a large transition was only matched by the way Dave changed our anxiety about publishing the site into triumph with a few deft key strokes. I owe him a cherry limeade. From Son(ic).

Another friend who helped me with this project was Virginia Woolf. Now, I don't think she'd be too impressed. She tended to be suspicious of the plot-driven and, as much as I like to imagine the epic resonance of my Applebee's trilogy, I'm not sure it explores fully the inner life of the mind. The inner life of a riblet, maybe. Still, V. Woolf was seriously striving for genre-mixing in her new albums.

She said, "I think there ought to be a scrambling together of mediums now. The old are too rigid; but then one must have a terrific technique to explode the old forms and make a new one, to say nothing of a lump of fire in one's brain, or the new form is merely a pose."

I had this in mind during the re-composition of my poem and the construction of our site. I'm not ready to say I had a terrific technique. And we may not have exploded the old form as much as we have jazzed it up. But we're closer to seeing how we might think about a visual poetics; it won't be a classic concentration-esque illustration of the words. It will be associative, contrapuntal, undecidable. Working within such a poetic, we might understand each image as a line. We might create image sonnets or sestinas, constricting ourselves to bring focus on the form. We might consider the place of the lyric-I when that I seems to stare at the audience.

We might keep some embers going in our brains.

The fourth poem titled "At an Applebee's in Greenfield, Mass." that I "wrote" consisted of the lyrics to the Electric Light Orchestra song "Strange Magic." In some ways this was a joke, in some ways not. I always think of it as the archetypal Applebee's song, with its synthesized surreality. It occurs to me, though, that it could play in the Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama as a haunting soundtrack, or in The China Diner as a muted underscoring of spare-ribbed, falsetto depressiveness. So I want to end with it in a last gesture of erratic magic. Goodnight.

Comments on Comments: A Very Bloggy Reflection

The night before I presented on Adam Banks and Samantha Blackmon, I sat on my red futon with an Orange Crush trying to respond generously to the generous comments that had been offered on my blog post. After half an hour or so, I attempted to send, but discovered another commenter (this was at after 1 in the morning, mind you: “Thanks for posting everyone [. . .] Mel, you just appeared before I posted. . .”). I revised to include a response, tried to send again, and the same thing happened (“Goodnight. Julie. You just appeared when I was going to publish this. If Lydia pops up after you, I'm going to scream!”).

An hour later, I'd responded to three insomniac rhetoricians, screamed, and polished off a second Orange Crush.

A little frazzled, but with the pleasant feeling of having been frantically engaged, I muttered to myself, “I'm never out of class.” The Blog, then, taught me a great lesson about keeping the dialogue of a course going in a more casual atmosphere; having just finished teaching a free-wheeling writing workshop, I'm understanding even more the potential of such a forum: that it can be a continuation and a redefinition of a classroom community. Next quarter, I'm requiring that weekly responses to the reading be posted on Wanczyblog (still to be established).

At the beginning of class, the content of most of my posts was standardly dry, but I began to feel comfortable cracking jokes and writing with a more provocative tone after I read about Crots. Posting a Crot made me feel a little bit guilty because I was having too much fun; I was worried my lack of citations and/or discussion questions left something to be desired. But I'd taken time, I'd thought about the material, I'd confused (and, I hope, brightened fleetingly) the days of my clasmates, so all was well:

“Play breaks the rules. Play gets sent to the corner. Play wears a dunce cap. 'What a great play!' Play wears a mask and shits on roles (play ignores decorum).”

And play, of course, allows us to say what we might not otherwise. Because I had space and time, I didn't feel like I needed to make my points in the thirty seconds alloted in a classroom situation. I felt like I could reference wider culture (Tim Gunn, The Simpsons, David Foster Wallace, Bob Schieffer, Chicken Wings) without harming the professionalism of class.

And I began to say to myself things like “So-and-so is smart as a whip” after reading blog comments. I was glad to find out I was in such thoughtful company; that ups the ante for in-class discussion and projects.

After a bit of play made me more comfortable posting on blogs (and this is the first I've done of this sort of communicating), I got back into the interpretive groove. It's my M.O. to bring it to the text, and I did that in response to Brett, Craig, Mel, and Russ. I feel like the blog comment is a way to focus what's about to come up in class, to put a bit of text in front of everybody so that there's a coalescity (I also make up words on blogs: see, “crottify” and “homo-distancia”).

Speaking of “homo-distancia” (see Brett's post), I was able to articulate thoughts on controversial topics because of this forum. In many cases, my discussions turned to essentialism: “Essentialism comes up for me again. Is an identity to be celebrated or downplayed? Are some of our pop-cultural novelty-izings celebrations or shortcuts?” (Brett's Post); “I think I need to be less ethically rigid (meaning, I need to see that there is a middle ground between cumbaya-we-love-each-other (in other words, I deny your culture by claiming our sameness) vs You've-got-your-thing-I've-got-mine ignorance/tolerance/multiculturalism)” (comments on my own post).

Whether on race or sexuality, I tried to be honest. On some level, at least, this comes from an essayist's instinct to challenge assumptions and get at bigger social problems through personal experience. I think that instinct (and I saw this working especially for Rebecca) has a space on our—and I can assume on other—blogs.

Can I talk about how much I (vainly) appreciated comments on my posts and my comments? It's a different feeling to get immediate feedback than to wait for a writing workshop or a professor's traditional responses and, besides the feeling of community, it incited me to get more stuff out in public if only so that I could get more feedback. This sense of community invigorated me (when it wasn't making me think about how technological communication sometimes precludes face-to-face communication). I loved thinking about all the issues that came up from the comfort of my grandfather's recliner, the color of which can only be described as cozy-cardboard.

Additionally, Lydia's, Brett's, Craig's, and Albert's responses to my conference proposal were instrumental in my fashioning of what I eventually sent to the conference on literacies at OSU.

I do believe, though, that there is the possibility to misconstrue tone, especially when considering comments from peers about assignments they are also working on. I also questioned the tone of a few responses to my own post on Banks and Blackmon. I suppose that's one of the pitfalls of the informality/honesty positive. Regardless, different registers of criticism suggest different avenues for progression.

I hope that my responses to Lydia and Todd were helpful on their proposals. I tried to synthesize what others had already offered and provide encouragement. The same goes for my post on Rebecca's book review. Having published a


project myself, I was worried that her efforts would go unpraised (I wonder if, in the future, professional blog-commenting will emerge as an occupation akin to professional mourning). Again, the opportunity the blog gives for that sort of fellow-feeling is welcome (Todd, you're a co0l guy). I feel like I got to know my classmates' minds better (Russ, that means you. Yep, I'm in your head. Good job on the IMovie) because I had access to work that usually stays in the darkened tunnel between teacher and student.

In keeping with the anti-traditional space of RouzieBlog, I want to conclude not with a restatement of some jargonistic thesis or a lift of sentimentality; I want to conclude by reminding us of Mel's dystopic conception, Big Androgynous Sibling — the ungendered presence keeping us all aware of our RL identities. The blog has allowed such ideas free reign and has allowed me to be aware constantly of the (sometimes troubling) difference between online persona and offline persona (lift of sentimentality coming: perhaps unavoidable?). I love such challenges. I love Big Androgynous Sibling.