where I'm headed

I use this place to record tangents and links about the study of language.  When I began studying semantics and, later, composition, I became excited by the reach of discourse studies, partly because it melded with campfire conversations in the Oregon woods with my dad about Aristotle and Korzybski. Since we sent those undisciplined exchanges echoing into those  dark nights, my field has grown orthodox and predictable. My reading in interdisciplinary rhetorics and cognition studies helps me imagine a future for the field of writing studies.  Who can say if any of these intellectual rhizomes will sprout for me or anyone else, but here they are...

the infographics of Edward Tufte, possibly the smartest person I have ever met

cognitive anthropology, as exemplified in the work of Edwin Hitchins (and other social learning theorists like Lave and Wenger), points to the way discourse is the symbolic vehicle for shared cognition.

I haven't made the case in print but I have argued for several years that semiotics is merely the name by which we now refer to what is properly rhetoric, seeing as it most fully reflects Burke's notion of rhetoric as symbolic cooperation and Peirce's ideas about signs. Related to the work of Tufte in the design of visual information, Visualizing Economics offers a way of apprehending the complexity and scale of economic theory in graphic form.  Isn't this what we want from information literacy?

and while we're on the subject of scale, which is absolutely essential in understanding how writing works from lexicon to text to genre, here's a visual analog in the work of Chris Jordan who explores how to represent photographically quantities beyond our ability to comprehend.

and always, more good things than I know how to contain, at TED