John Waters/Justin Bieber: Experimenting with Pinterest

Even though I’ve been wary of Pinterest over the past couple of weeks, I’m still using it. And I’ve actually found some fun/playful/useful ways in which to experiment with it. In addition to continuing to add onto my Troublemaking Role Model board, I just, a few minutes ago, created a new board: Beside/s. It’s inspired by my continued interest in beside/s as an important concept for troublemaking and troublestaying. My first pin on this board? John Waters/Justin Bieber.

While looking for an image of John Waters (I’m planning to add him to my troublemaking role model board), I came across an article headline, “Justin Bieber could win an Oscar, according to one director”. Of course, I tweeted about it:


I also had to post about it on my new Tumblr. Here’s what I wrote on that post:

Wow, I find this fascinating. How does it fit with my tumblr? J Waters is one of my troublemaking role models and I like to create curious/troubling/playful juxtapositions: queer camp/bieber fever, shit/bubble-gum?

I don’t think that I want to do too much theorizing about this juxtaposition, but I’m glad that John Waters/Justin Bieber inspired me to create a new Pinterest board on the concept of Beside/s. I’m not sure what I will include in it, but it could be a great space for visually representing the various juxtapositions/besides that I want to perform. This board could complement by Beside/s category on this blog. Here’s my description of that category’s purpose:

BESIDE/S: In this newly developed category (as of January, 2012), I post blog entries that enable me to experiment with being beside/s. Being beside/besides is a concept and practice that I find extremely compelling for working with and through readings, ideas, understandings, and experiences; it was the central organizing principle for my essay and blog posts on living and grieving beside Judith and for my queering ethics course last spring.

Having ideas or things beside each other is to see them as next to each other. Literally, beside is a reminder of the material spaces that we inhabit. This might mean being aware of how books that you are reading/researching reside next to each other or how multiple tabs, with the various posts you are processing, are open at the same time. Conceptually, ideas or things beside (next to) each other indicates that you are reading them together, sometimes through each other, sometimes against each other, but always in ways that recognize that the various ideas/concepts/things that you are engaging with influence and shape each other. These ideas don’t necessarily fit together (and they don’t have to), but, taken together they influence how you read, interpret, understand, and produce your own ideas. To put ideas and things beside each other is to put them into conversation with each other. The process of putting them into conversation is a form of exciting and challenging work that involves much more than sitting alone and staring painfully at a blank screen.

Beside also means besides, that is, in addition to or instead of. Besides can involve the labor of thinking about and being open to alternatives to the ideas that one is reading. It can also mean de-centering one’s own perspective or the perspective of any one idea as the Idea and considering how multiple ideas/theories/experiences outside of ourselves can provide new insights and new understandings. Embracing that which is besides enables us to be, albeit temporarily, beside (not quite outside of) ourselves.

Storify Fail

I was really excited to try out the new Storify app for the iPad that just came out today. While it was pretty slick when I was using it, I had a problem when I tried to publish it. Instead of showing my list of 20-30+ tweets, it only showed the first tweet over and over again. I wonder if this happened when I tried to edit the storify online? I also wonder if anyone else has had this problem?


Experiments with Social Media

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and engaging with various social media. I’ve been writing about them on this blog and talking about them on my podcast with STA. Today, I also tweeted about my experiences using my blog, Pinterest and Tumblr to track trouble in different ways:

I was inspired to tweet about different social media spaces after just creating a new board on Pinterest and then blogging about it on Tumblr. I wonder, how do others use their various social media spaces in connection with each other? How do they work (and fail to work) together?

a note for podcast 7 @The Undisciplined Room

Here’s a note from yesterday’s podcast, Loose with My Use:


A common theme for us (well, for me at least) concerns the relative merits of Pinterest vs. Tumblr. I like how easy Pinterest is to use and how you can put lots of different images beside each other on your boards. But, I’m concerned by the business/marketing focus of the site and the etiquette rules. In the last couple of days, I’ve set up a tumblr site (staying in trouble) and I’m experimenting with how I might be able to use it for some of the same purposes as Pinterest (collecting images/examples of trouble). So far, I’m liking Tumblr. It’s really easy to post a variety of media and create a (semi) custom design. It’s also fun to experiment with new media.

I wonder, though, how much social media is too much? And are these various forms encouraging new ideas and connections or merely distracting me from digging into the ideas/theories/stories that I’ve already imagined? I don’t really think that this should be asked as an either/or question; I think pinterest and tumblr can and should inspire and distract. In fact, sometimes distractions are good. They can enable us to break bad habits, rescue us from creative ruts, shift our attention away from problematic ways of thinking and remind us to not always be working. For more on using distraction to open up news of engaging, see “Designing Choreographies for the ‘New Economy of Attention’“. And for more on the need for shifting attention in feminist classrooms, see chapter one in No Angel in the Classroom.

Anyway, yesterday on our podcast, I mentioned one interesting use of Pinterest that I recently came across: One of my Facebook friends (who also teaches Women’s Studies) has set up boards for her two classes on Pinterest. She’s sharing resources related to class discussions, including posting images of Victorian “antimasturbation” devices. A few days ago, a random Pinterest user commented on her board that “she seriously had issues” and that it “wasn’t even funny.” Ha! Ha! Aside from the clueless commenter, I thought this was a cool and creative way to use Pinterest. I wonder how she incorporated it into her class lecture/discussion?

In discussing this use on the podcast, I suggested that one cool assignment students could do with Pinterest is to create a board (or several boards) in which they collected examples of key feminist concepts: white privilege, heteronormativity, sizeism, ableism, racism, colonialism, etc. Or, students could create a board based on one product (like beer or perfume, for example) or brand. Their board could serve as the data for an analysis of the hidden assumptions and norms that are perpetuated through various ad campaigns.

After writing this last paragraph, I began to wonder, How are educators using Pinterest in their classrooms? Here are 2 sources that I found:

5 Tips for Using Pinterest in Your Classroom
a few tips: visit the education category on pinterest, create a board with sources, create reading lists, have students use it to track online research.

Educators May Use Pinterest in the Classroom
This post has different suggestions for inspiration, lesson-planning, and professional development.


some troublemaking concepts, TED-style

In recent posts, I’ve mentioned my dislike of TED talks. Admittedly, this dislike is somewhat visceral and not based on my watching or studying a lot of them. I’m not a big fan of the lecture-style and the cultivation of an elite group of experts who dazzle and delight (entertainment is the “E” in TED, after all) a mostly anonymous and silent audience. The audience depends on the type of TED talk; sometimes they are present and very responsive, like both talks below. This morning, I randomly came across two recent TED talks that address concepts that are central to my own thinking and practicing of troublemaking: 1. cultivating/valuing wonder and 2. asking the question, “why?”

Disruptive Wonder

Kelli Anderson’s TED talk:

Here’s how she describes her talk:

Aside from just showing/explaining pictures, the talk makes the case for creating absurdist/surreal work that disrupts our preconceived notions about the world through small, intimate experiences. This type of work can defy conventional expectations by presenting the hidden “talents” of everyday things that we easily take for granted. On a handheld level, these projects rail against unnecessary/unhelpful assumptions—the kind that lurk in the unexamined, quotidian corners of our day-to-day. In these very places of non-examination, the tiniest of subversions can open up small, alternate realities and become amplified into (modest) conversion experiences about our surroundings.

I must admit that I found this talk to be very interesting. I love the idea of Disruptive Wonder and the connections it draws between social justice and creative re-imaginings of the world (through various art projects). While she never explicitly links her work with any movements (like feminism), I see connections with both queer and feminist visions for making trouble and challenging the status quo. I love her last line:

By rejecting normal order, by messing things up, and by rearranging the pieces, we can expand our notion of what we demand from reality. So today, I want to put forth this idea that an avenue to better is for a million teeny-tiny disruptions to whatever’s sitting in front of you. So go mess with the complacently rational!

Her website is really cool and so are her own projects of disruptive wonder (she describes 4 in her talk). Note: I found Kelli Anderson’s TED talk via a tweet from brain pickings.


The other TED talk that I want to mention is Jacob Soboroff’s “Why for a Change“:

In this talk, Soboroff discusses the importance of asking why, in general and with one particular question, “Why (do we vote on) Tuesday?” He discusses how asking “Why Tuesday?” might help us to find solutions to low voter turnout. When you begin to ask this question, you can imagine other ways (and other days) for voting; Why Tuesday? becomes Why not another day?, like the weekends when more people would have time to vote.

Soboroff focuses all of his attention on asking why Tuesday to politicians (mostly, but not exclusively white male politicians). Why not ask people on the street the same question: Why Tuesday? Or, what about: Why does voting on Tuesday make it hard for you to vote? or, Why don’t you vote? Maybe they should add a “how” question here too: How can we make it easier for you to vote? I really appreciate Soboroff’s emphasis on valuing “why,” but I think it could benefit from some feminist awareness; asking why is good, but we need to expand (beyond those in power and at the top) who we ask and whose answers we take seriously.