Final project: Twitter Bot

#TeamRhetoric, Time, and In(ter)vention: Twitter Bots, Tactical Media

For my final project in MITH 610: Intro to Digital Studies, I created a Twitter Bot. It now (as of May 16, 2019) tweets once a day. You can read all about it on my medium post, “#TeamRhetoric, Time, and In(ter)vention: Twitter Bots, Tactical Media.”

As @RhetoricTweeter spews out formulaic criticism, it pushes on an existing paradigm of intervention. The tweets try to seem like they intervene in some ongoing theoretical or conceptual conversation in rhetorical criticism or in academic literature more broadly. In this way, I hope it asks us to think about how the form of academic writing might encourage a specific interventional approach.

But at the same time, as its tweets develop, it may be an inventional resource. The strange pairing of expansions that may not otherwise be placed together (e.g. in a test case, the bot wrote: “In my next paper, I will use decolonial theory to claim that Hilary Clinton’s emails frustrated the public sphere. #TeamRhetoric”) may lead to interesting new critical ideas. It may encourage a way of playing with how rhetoric and criticism happens on twitter, whether directly with the bot or inspired by it.

Here are a few of my favorite tweets it made and responses to it.

See its current feed below. Give it a follow!

Map: UMD Surveillance Cameras

For this assignment in MITH 610, we were asked to map surveillance cameras we found on campus. We also guesstimated the range of the cameras to see where one is seen on the Univeristy of Maryland, College Park Campus.

Sarah Spech and I covered the Northwestern quadrant extending north from the Clarice and stopping on the eastern wall of Eppley Recreation Center.

Poster: Paradise of Cookies

2019-04-28-2 Salzano labor poster v2.jpg

Aesthetically, the poster directly imitates “Acid Bath in Mai” by Fons Hickman. It is also inspired by “Personal Works Show Invitation” by Sussner Design (with the layering of text over images) and “Better Days” by cyan (with the b&w photography and the contrast of message/photo).

The content of my poster is driven by a quote from Australian anthropologist Stephen Muecke in his 2002 essay “The Fall: Fictocritical Writing.” He writes:

“I invite you to the cinema, but you say you cannot come. You are stuck where you are, you say, writing your thesis about symbols and meanings, and I imagine a paradise full of flowers.” (Muecke 2002, 110)

The “you” Muecke addresses throughout his fictocritical essay is revealed to be the scholarly readers—”my critical friends” (111). The image of refusing the cinema notes what my Croation roommate would call a “professional deformation” of the literary critic. Muecke is talking about traditional literary criticism being writing-as-product where he thinks it should be writing-as-process, revealing the contingency and subjectivity always already implicated in criticism. But this is not the place for me to discuss fictocriticism; I will do that elsewhere.

I think the other deformation is about labor—the ‘deformation’ isn’t just a problem of critical disposition once one gets to the thesis. It is a problem of the disposition of how the critic lives, too… Muecke—following Derrida and Latuor and a legion of post-critical thinkers—notes that criticism was meant to unmask art, but now must trace (affective) paths to understand how “we got to this position, and what is at stake” (108). The student is too absorbed in producing criticism to wonder “how the hell did I get here?” (Muecke 2002, 108) and actually go experience symbol- and meaning-making in the world.

Prof. Jason Farman asked us to consider what we would put on this poster about our labor as grad students. If we were to hang it above our desk and look at it whenever we work, what would we want it to say/mean? Muecke’s quote stood out to me. It is a permission slip to leave the unmasking impulse behind occasionally. It is a reminder that I should not say no to every invitation because there are always more things to read and write (more symbols and meanings to discuss/unmask).

I paired this quote with a 35mm photo of my best friend Oliver and I standing at Ben’s Cookies. As housemates in a few homes in a couple countries, we would often escape writing/working by leaving the house to buy a cookie.  I like the contrast of the image being an example of taking a break while the quote is about someone refusing to do so. It creates a tension—like Muecke’s essay—between forcing meaning-making and recognizing meaning not yet fully grasped.

Similarly, I chose the photo our friend holding the camera made as a mistake (reproduced in color as the feature image) before capturing the actual photo (below). Photos like these—motion blur, out of focus, is she dropping the camera?, Oliver barely staying in the frame—capture a frantic energy that I think heightens the tension in the contradiction of accepting/refusing the option to be released from writing a thesis.

Can I come? Can I have a cookie? Or will I imagine it while attempting to answer how the hell did I get here? 

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Podcast: Networked Diaries

For Intro to Digital Studies, MITH 610 (Spring 2018) at the University of Maryland, College Park, taught by Dr. Jason Farman.

Inspired by:
Stone, Allucquere, Rosanne. 1994. “Split Subjects, Not Atoms; or, How I Fell in Love with My Prosthesis.” Configurations2 (1): 173–90. https://doi.org/10.1353/con.1994.0016.

Audio credits:

“Night Owl” and “Love is Not” by Broke for Free
“Holy Roller” by Yacht