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This is actually a pretty accurate representation of my mental picture of how these things work.

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I’ve done some things to make RAIL easier to follow on different platforms. I’ve set up a long-overdue Twitter account: @RAILBlog and I’ve created a Google Plus page you can follow as well.  The G+ page can be found under “RAIL Blog“–creative, yes?  Once I figure out how to do it I’ll get all these things all synced up for you all, but for the time being at least they now exist. 🙂

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The Ambassador Bridge, via Wikimedia Commons. Original by Mike Russell, CC 3.0 S-A

As many in the argumentation studies community know next week is OSSA 9, one of the bigger events on our calendars.  The conference theme this go around is “Argumentation, Cognition and Community”.  Having had a look at the schedule I think this promises to be an interesting conference. Many leading scholars in argumentation, informal logic, rhetoric, and normative pragmatics will be there presenting and responding to papers.  There is also a good range of strong papers by up and coming scholars as well.  This is one to look forward to, if you’ll be coming.

All the pertinent information for OSSA, including .pdf downloads of the schedule and abstracts among other things, can be accessed here.

Unfortunately, as we all know, not everyone who would like to attend can attend.  These are tough times and many of us find ourselves at institutions who can’t always support travel to events like these as often or to the degree that they would wish. For those who won’t be coming but want to follow along, I thought I might propose a conference back-channel on Twitter with the hashtag #OSSA2011.  Those of us who have Twitter accounts and will be there could post about discussions, sessions, workshops, and everything else OSSA between sessions or whenever else we have the chance.  That way those who cannot come can follow along. An added benefit is that those of us who are there will be able get to know each other a little better and to coordinate a little easier when it comes to dinner plans, taxi rides, etc.. (To get a better idea of how it works, you might check out this post from the innovative and consistently helpful ProfHacker blog on the Chronicle of Higher Ed website.)

If you’re interested, let me know!  You can comment here or post to Twitter including “#OSSA2011” somewhere in your tweet.

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“Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing.  That’s voting.” — Robert Frost

In this article from the blog of the Walrus magazine, writer David Rusak nicely sums up the case that social media is increasingly taking over the way in which we communicate.

He writes:

Even in the unstructured, verbal medium of the comments field, with no built-in retweet button and no formal system logging the repetitions, we see a number of people avoiding using their own words in order to instead “cast a vote” for someone else’s. They deliberately represent themselves as part of a countable mass (in this case, of devoted fans), rather than as an individuated person with a novel point of view. I have no idea how widespread this particular trend is, but I think it exemplifies an ongoing shift in the way online communication is done…What’s more, Facebook’s Like button has now allowed us to do away with much commenting, allowing one-click responses that require the least engagement possible.

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