Academia Advice

So You Think You Want To Index?

I’ve indexed both book projects I’ve been involved with, my solo-authored book, Networked Media, Networked Rhetorics (PSU, 2014) and the co-edited volume Ancient Rhetorics + Digital Networks (Alabama, 2018) with Michele Kennerly. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way–as I put it to someone else considering hiring out their indexing: Who knows your book better than you?

Below, I’ve broken down how I indexed these two books without, well, breaking down. Each time, it took me 3 pretty full workdays–so that’s what you’re signing up for. But, at the end of it, you’ll have a pretty good index! There are a number of decent guides to indexing which are findable through some basic searching, so I won’t cover those here (although searching for “index your book” draws up the auto-suggestion of “never index your own book,” so…)

Basically, my process tries to hybridize computer vision and human vision in order to create an index that is both selective, reflective, and appropriately deflective (with apologies to KB). By using a word frequency program, you can get an accurate reflection of the words used in the book–computer vision is far better than human vision in this case. When I did this for Ancient Rhetorics + Digital Networks, I was surprised to see the following words pop up with some frequency: affordances, animals, beauty, circulation, demos, emergence, encounter, flow…well, you get the idea. A word frequency count can surface themes that you, the person most intimately involved with the book, can’t really perceive, as was the case here–it’s rather amazing to trace these words through the chapters, and I wouldn’t have identified them as indexable themes without the frequency count guiding me. The combination of “distant reading” of the text and your own immersion in the text is what you need to make a good index.

That said, no one has ever come up to me and said, “By the clouds, your index–as I thumbed through it, tears began welling up in my eyes. All beauty shall henceforth be compared to these 9 2 column pages.” I am, however, an index snob, and have pretty strong feelings about what a good and bad index looks like. In other words, get a salt shaker out.


Twitter Copia

John Muckelbauer captures perfectly my past frustration in teaching invention: it “cannot be explained representationally (as if it were a theme or an idea). Perhaps it can only be demonstrated performatively” (in his fantastic The Future of Invention: Rhetoric, Postmodernism, and the Problem of Change, SUNY Press, 2008, xi).

So, taking inspiration from Erasmus’s strategy of copia (but funneling that inspiration through a 140 character limit), my graduate Networked Rhetorical Theory class invented 100 definitions of invention in under ten minutes to perform inventional processes.
The prompt: “Define” invention Twitter style, in 140 characters or less.

1. Invention is the result of juxtaposition.
2. Invention: when collision becomes collusion.
3. Invention: the initial frontier.
4. New. Knew. Invention.
5. Invention is the process of reworking the tradition to address contemporary issues.
6. Invention…when =/ and =/ become =D and =/ and =(
7. Invention: a social reaction to “waves of agitation”
8. Invention is thoughtful novelty.
9. #invention is hermeneutical
10. Invention improves upon the wheel
11. Invention results in arrangement
12. Invention: where collisions create relations.
13. Invention: the result of unpredictable solutions
14. The ways by which arguments are brought into being.
15. Invention requires wisdom.
16. Birth of beginning
17. ?? ??????= invention
18. Making the wise sound appealing
19. Because even if nothing is new under the sun, we can damn well try.
20. Amalgamating that which is out there into a statement that reflects your desired position
21. Rhetorical Bricologe
22. “When two become one” – Spice Girls
23. Invention is the process of reconciling difference in pursuit of the common.
24. Invention is the process of reconciling the common with our desire to pursue the different.
25. Ulmer’s student’s invent MyStory
26. Invention is legos: make what you can imagine out of the things you have
27. Rhetorical Invention is composition
28. Instructions to rhetorical jenga
29. Invention: my enemy is my enemy, but I cannot pretend that he does not exist.
30. Invention is innovative, new, and old.
31. Invention occurs without citation, but hey. Who’s keeping track?
32. Wants an eclipse despite nothing new under the sun
33. Invention is basically your wedding; something new. something borrowed, or something blue.
34. Invention is fetishized. Invention is choosing what not to say
35. Invention is the first step
36. Invention: all the best parts of Scrabble
37. Invention is what happens at the point of articulation.
38. Tag you’re it, now you know we are playing
39. Invention comes from word vomit
40. Understanding of invention are narrow in composition
41. Invention is the means by which identification is fostered
42. Invention is an orgy of creative processes
43. The space between imagined and repeated
44. A mashup of disparate ideas
45. Invention is more than prewriting
46. Invention is collaborative
47. Invention is the toolbox of any spin-doctor
48. Invention: when tension demands mention and extension.
49. Invention apparently happens in silence!
50. Invention: when you subvert convention.
51. Invention is strategic.
52. Invention is like your grandma: inseparable from tradition.
53. double edged sword of religion
54. Invention is the argumentative remix
55. Invention: It’s what’s for dinner
56. Invention: it’s the reason why there’s “the other white meat”
57. Invention is dialectical
58. Invention is the toolbox of any spin-doctor and of the band the spin doctors
59. Hermeneutic invention relies on the sturdiness of a final object
60. Apparently, Invention is judged as well as leading to judgment.
61. Invention things outside the box and likes long walks on the beach.
62. Invention what is gained by noticing the fact there are two number 62s
63. the need to continue numbering
64. Invention is contextually bound
65. Invention is creative.
66. Invention is what we are doing right now
67. Invention would sure be helpful right about now.
68. Invention is why you don’t proofread first.
69. Invention created you and I
70. Invention is the juxtaposition of results.
71. Invention is intertextual
72. Invention created hip hop.
73. Hoping the dropbox can drop the mic
74. Superfluous if not tied to substance
75. Invention is NETWORKED
76. Invention expands the hermeneutic
77. Is the only probability I am interested in
78. Weirdly enough, audiences aren’t too stupid for invention.
79. Invention never ends
80. Because what is ‘naturalized’ is really the product of our terministic screens.
81. Invention is a tango sensemaking and reality
82. Invention is on purpose or by accident.
83. Because we still have so many to go before 147.
84. Because my invention may lead to your invention.
85. The internet affords invention
86. Invention is open source
87. Anonymous panda keeping us on track
88. Invention is pirating
89. Invention is free
90. ^^ But not free from outside interpretation.
91. Invention can be fashionable.
92. Invention drives the enthy-meme.
93. Invention is changing the borders on the map.
94. Invention: not in, not about vents. Discuss.
95. Trying to figure out if remix is a byproduct of reduce, reuse, recycle
96. Invention is not necessarily scientific
97. IS the process of encouraging or enabling a specific specific text
98. Invention is plagiarism
99. Invention is monkeys with typewriters, even if they don’t get to Hamlet.
100. Invention is grad students with typewriters, even if they don’t get to Hamlet.

The top 5 (ok, 6) as nominated by the class:

31. Invention occurs without citation, but hey. Who’s keeping track?
89. Invention is free
90. ^^ But not free from outside interpretation.
36. Invention: all the best parts of Scrabble
79. Invention never ends
48. Invention: when tension demands mention and extension.


CFP: Public Argument and Digital Media

Call for Papers: Special Issue of Argumentation and Advocacy on Public Argument and Digital Media

Almost ten years ago, bloggers spurred public argument about Trent Lott’s controversial toast to a retiring Strom Thurmond. Since then, digital intermediaries using a variety of forms–blogs, podcasts, wikis, photo and video, social networking sites, and microblogs–have influenced innumerable episodes of public deliberation. This special issue of Argumentation and Advocacy calls for submissions that investigate public argument occurring through digital media. We especially seek essays that probe how digital media produce novel argument forms and modes of advocacy, historical analysis of digitally-driven deliberative episodes, and critical approaches to transformations in the nature of public argument. Submissions should be completed by June 1, 2010, and will be competitively reviewed. The special issue will be guest edited by Damien Smith Pfister, and published under Argumentation and Advocacy’s new co-editorship of Catherine H. Palczewski and John Fritch.