Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

20 July 2011

What I've been saying

I've been sharing the blog URL with colleagues, posting to FaceBook, and Tweeting different events. I sent this message to a Technorhetorician's discussion site. How does your understanding of the course jibe with what I assert, and how does it differ? Did we do what we set out to do? What have we left undone?


Thanks -- I've been baiting and baiting and waiting for a strike.

Part of the official description says:
"The Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment, and the Scientific Method: Scotland inspired many of the values Americans hold dear as founding ideals. At the dawn of the 21st century, Scotland is also leading Great Britain and the European Union in biotechnology research, gaming and digital design, and wind power research. After witnessing the dawn of the industrial revolution, Scotland is now leading the search for answers posed by the post-industrial age: How do we produce clean, renewable energy? How do we create and sustain meaningful work and jobs? What does it mean to work in a post-industrial age? University of Dundee, located 60 miles north of Edinburgh and 80 miles north of Glasgow, is an excellent base from which to explore both the industrial past and post-industrial present of Scotland, and to research the future as it is taking shape in Scotland."

The official course flier is here:

Really it is the Falkirk Wheel that got the gears turning for me: what does it take to get a society to believe in itself (again, after de-industrialization)? What does the experience of Glasgow and Dundee have to teach students from the American midwest about Detroit and Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis?

Most literally and directly, the Falkirk Wheel opened the canal system to boat traffic after 60 years of neglect. Indiana has similar historic canal ties, and while it is unlikely that the state will invest in the Great Lakes to Ohio canal again, there are parallels to understanding the midwest rustbelt as about 20-30 years behind the revitalization of Scotland. Clean energy, the future of work, and public-private partnerships are all important elements of what we've been looking at, and have taken good, hard looks at things the Scots accept pretty much as given, defamiliarizing American context. Like regulation. Regulation requires innovation, forcing producers to invent new ways to manufacture (energy, stuff, produce, whatever) while producing less waste, less pollution. To put pressure on interests to innovate. So alien to current American context. My own interests in mega-projects, from Falkirk Wheel, to the Chunnel, to the Eiffel tower as an historical example, give the opportunity to reflect on what it means to communicate while building big, and coming to understand the communicator's role as they negotiate relationships among stakeholders, makers, investors, and taxpayers. How does the Chunnel compare, say, with Boston's Big Dig?

Ah, thanks, I've been wanting to say all that for a while. :-)

And if you want to send your students, I'll be offering it again in 2013 (I'd like to anyway).


n Jul 20, 2011, at 11:09 PM, Bleck, Bradley wrote:


What I want to know, and maybe others do as well, is how did you arrange for a professional writing class to take place in Scotland? What was the rationale? How did the setting contribute to the class? I've only glanced at the writing the students have done, which is certainly interesting, but there doesn't seem to be an inherent need to be doing this in Scotland, Paris or anywhere else. But really, I'd want to do something like it myself and want to know how you got it done.

Bradley Bleck
English Department
Spokane Falls CC
From: techrhet-owner@interversity.org [techrhet-owner@interversity.org] On Behalf Of Michael Salvo [salvo@purdue.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 2:17 PM
To: techrhet@interversity.org
Subject: Re: [techrhet] Scotland Abroad

First a thanks to everyone who logged on to the blog. Second, thanks to Dundee and all the places we visited in Scotland. Incredible how quickly six weeks have flown by. Last chance to sign on, read about the program, and have your comments added before the site goes into stasis:


Don't hesitate to be in touch (offlist) if you have any questions for me. Greatest bunch of kooky young techno-rhetoricians these folks have been, and thanks again for checking in on the blog, techrhettors!


On Jun 25, 2011, at 8:29 AM, Michael Salvo wrote:

Greetings from Scotland, Techrhettors!

As many of you know, I am abroad with a group of Purdue Professional Writing students. The program blog is up and running, and students have posted some very interesting initial posts, including digital video describing Dundee and its status as a postindustrial city. Dundee has software industry, Universities, and other elements you'll recognize as "new" economy as well as a number of things that make it a relict of the bygone industrial age.

I invite you to point your browsers to: http://pwscotland.blogspot.com/
Add a comment: these students certainly deserve an audience for their work!



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