Thursday, October 23, 2008

Invention and Power

One of the questions I had in my dissertation, which remains unanswered, is what is the connection between power and invention. Yesterday, I watched a webcast of David Gervais, a Canadian Law Professor speaking on TRIPS. Some of the things he discussed related to what I discussed in my dissertation, because I asserted that power and invention are deeply connected - since invention often is the result of the exertion of power. Gervais was talking about an international agreement, but one thing he asked is what is the role of the state in innovation (in rhetoric and writing we'd call innovation invention). He pointed out that China, which has much less free speech rights, and is more authoritarian in its approach to "state," is second in the world in innovation (R&D). So, the question is, to what extent is invention forced? I mean, does invention happen outside a democracy - as based on my research I'd say absolutely yes. In fact, those who are oppressed tend to be extremely inventive. So this is something to think about when you consider things like "pre-writing" and "free writing." Things I've never done in my professional writing life. I have never done "clustering." I mean as a writer. I've used this in the classroom. But I've never done this myself, as a professional writer. These are strategies that lack force or power, and so I'm not sure if they even work. I'm really not sure. These are strategies that seem pretty "fake" to me at the present moment in time. On the other hand, I'm not saying you should oppress your students. :)

Yet, I personally prefer a teacher who knows how to get power and use it to benefit me.

Check out slide 52 and I'm ordering Reich's new book.

My Guest Blogging Appearance on Beyondwords

Typosquatting - a method to profit from error

As I stated in my dissertation, misunderstanding and confusion are productive, and apparently Google is capitalizing on that. Subsequently, a Harvard Business School professor whose research and digital writing focuses on the electronic age, is suing Google for it practice of capitalizing on error. That is, Google creates websites near in URL to existing websites, and then relies on users to make typos. When users visit these websites in error, they are provided with a number of advertisements - by which venture Google makes lots of money.

A quote from the article: "A typosquatting Web site has an address almost identical to that of another Web site, and is designed to capitalize on internet users’ typos by exposing them to advertisements, according to Edelman, whose research focuses on electronic marketplaces and online advertising fraud."

The full text is here:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to read a legal opinion

I came across this absolutely fantastic, short, article on how to read a legal opinion. While it states its audience is first year law students, it is a great reading for anyone who wants to read a legal opinion and is having trouble. I know people who are very smart, but not used to reading legal opinions, and have told me that to them it was like reading another language.

The article is " How to Read a Legal Opinion: A Guide for New Law Students," by Orin S. Kerr of the George Washington University Law School and it is only about 16 pages.

You can download it free here: