Teaching Writing with Technology
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“Where I'm From” grew out of my response to a poem from Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet (Orchard Books, 1989; Theater Communications Group, 1991) by my friend, Tennessee writer Jo Carson. All of the People Pieces, as Jo calls them, are based on things folks actually said, and number 22 begins, “I want to know when you get to be from a place. ” Jo's speaker, one of those people “that doesn't have roots like trees, ” tells us “I am from Interstate 40” and “I am from the work my father did. ” In the summer of 1993, I decided to see what would happen if I made my own where-I'm-from lists, which I did, in a black and white speckled composition book. I edited them into a poem — not my usual way of working — but even when that was done I kept on making the lists.
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I wanted to wait a bit because it seemed like it'd be more interesting to listen to all of you. There used to be a name for what I was doing, "lurking" -- it dates back to a very different time in the net's history, when usenet and mailing lists were the main forms of communication. It was hard to talk about lurkers then, for the obvious reason that no one knew much about them; it hasn't gotten much easier since. The idea of lurkers has all but vanished now, buried by a succession of ways to try and slice and dice them: "eyeballs," pageviews, users, subscribers, friends, followers, etc, etc. I think these changes are relevant in this context because Doug's initial questions put a lot of emphasis on expression: participation and activism on the one hand, and a concern that "social networks" (as if there were any other kind) might be diminishing the quality of people's engagement, on the other.
Technology Tips for the Classroom