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Blogcraft and Sprezzatura

Kari Kraus posted an entry to her Wordherder blog accidentals and substantives on September 20, 2004. The entry is called "art of participation" is accessble using the following URL http://karik.wordherders.net/archives/002592.html

In that entry she introduces a handout which she produced to support her pedagogic practice:

The premise behind the handout is this: that the ability to participate effectively in class isn't hardwired into our genetic code but is instead a specialized skill that must be taught and learned, just like literacy.

She, in astute teacherly fashion, adds:

Feel free to adopt and modify the following for your own purposes.

And so I eventually took up her invitation and tried my hand at a variation on her excellent set of suggestions to prepare for participation. It is here marked up anchors for each tip/tactic to assist both linking and shuffling through with ease.

With is crisp and prescriptive style, the statement of principles feels like a touchstone. It is an endorsement of not only the social aspects of rereading but also of the ethics of being attentive.

If I were to encapsulate all nine tactic tips in one phrase it would be a commitment to rereading: "Parse and parse again". The graceful parser is attentive to the accidentals and the substantives, and to the sometimes shifting line between them. A graceful parser is like a generous reader adding to their appreciation of what counts and what does not count a sensitivity to when the counting counts.

The Art of Participation or the Cognitive Components of Blogcraft

The trick is to cultivate the rarefied art of Sprezzatura: "well-practiced naturalness" or "rehearsed spontaneity," a trait possessed by the most gifted conversationists, debaters, politicians, intellectuals, teachers, socialites, and even Trappist monks.

Tactic 1.

Read and annotate. --- copy and paste, mark and save. You may never look at the annotation you made or snippet you copied ever again. The point is that you bodily did something. The snippet and annotation becomes more easily available for processing in other contexts. No paper and pencil? No disk space? Read a portion aloud. Sub vocalization [moving your lips] counts.

Tactic 2.

Select. Review your archived material, returning to those passages you found most significant, compelling, and interesting. Repeat Tactic 1. [Try it now by translating either Tactic 1 or Tactic 2 or both in your own words/signs.]

Tactic 3.

Launch yourself into guided browsing. Use dictionaries to look up unfamiliar words. Become proficient using search engines and reading search results. Check variant spellings. Make up misspellings and search. Apply translation tools. See how information nodes cluster in other languages. Booleanize. [Refocus on the object of Tactic 1 and determine if the guided browsing affects the Tactic 2 selection.]

Tactic 4.

Make connections. Among the different objects, texts and environments you review. And within those environments, objects and texts. Actively seek out patterns. Disrupt patterns to understand how the patterns have limits, how local patterns might connect and scale up or down. [Record your experiments as recommended in Tactic 1.]

Tactic 5.

Address contradictions. Identify the extent of the contradiction. Play. [Apply Tactic 4 to discover sometimes hidden consistencies. E.g. Attempt to reconcile "All tactics are simple." with "All tactics are complex."]

Tactic 6.

Bring relevant knowledge. [Sift the results of Tactic 3 and combine with the tact of Tactic 7.]

Tactic 7.

Anticipate: responses, concerns, and interests. Ask yourself questions. Invite inquiry.

Tactic 8.

Present evidence. Guide. Point. Direct. Invite others to repeat experiments or follow trails or pick out patterns.

Tactic 9.

Observe others apply Tactics 1 through 8. Even if you've been "tactizing" for years, observe.

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François Lachance