Author Archives: Jared R. Pike

About Jared R. Pike

Jared R. Pike is an actor, director and theatre scholar living in New York City. A Ph.D. student at The Graduate Center, CUNY, his work focuses on the cultural power dynamics in theatrical performance. Current research interests include: the role of space in performances of history, digital media in the performance of history in museums, and the cultural power dynamics in German theatre during the period of unification.

Is Blogging “safe”?

While working through this week’s reading I found myself continually asking the same two questions:  Is blogging an effective means of conducting academic discourse and spurring students’ curiosity in the subject? And, Is blogging “safe” in an academic environment?

The answer to the first question seems to be clearly argued as these authors explicate their own experiences using blogs and wikis to enhance the classroom environment. What I like about blogs is their ability to create a learning environment in line with Jacques Ranciere’s notion of the “ignorant school master,” in which the instructor creates the learning environment and empowers the student to actively participate in the construction of her own knowledge. While the readings argue for the effectiveness of these tools, they do not go far enough to provide the reader with a clear understanding of what is necessary to construct an effective educational blogging environment. For example, what kind of prompts are given? These concrete details would be helpful for an instructor who has never incorporated these types of digital technology in the classroom.

When I ask this second question, “Is blogging safe?” I am not so much concerned with social safety concerns such as students publishing their work on public blogs. This concern can easily be addressed, as Alex Halavais points out, through the use of pseudonyms. my concern for safety is a much more fundamental, psycho-physical concern.

In his book Program or Be Programed, Douglas Rushkoff provides a set of commandments for the digital age. HIs first command, “Do not always be on,” points out the dangerous impact constant connection can have on the human nervous system. This point makes me question Mushon Zer-Aviv’s assertion that the collaborative class blog was beneficial because it “extends the course beyond the time and space constraints of the classroom as students publish and comment every day, around the clock.” Is this constant connection to the course healthy or even desirable?

Jared’s Project Proposal 2

Project 2: Hybrid Theatre 101 Course


An appreciation of Theatre and Performance relies in large part on physical experience of a performance event. The art form cannot be taught solely through a traditional text-based approach. To this end, Theatre professors are to a certain extent already creating hybrid courses that supplement traditional classroom instruction with attendance at a live performance event in their (or a nearby) city, or at their institution. This project would contribute an additional element of hybridity by using digital technology to reimagine the Theatre 101 textbook.


Teacher Tim- Tim is a faculty member in a local theatre department teaching Theatre 101, a required course for all incoming theatre majors, and a course that fulfills a required component for the University’s core curriculum. He has found that his lectures are inefficient since the majority of students have not done the preparatory reading. He is looking for a way to entice his students to read so his lectures can be more interesting, active, and participatory; building on to, rather than reiterating the readings.

Hands-on Hannah– Hannah is an active learner but does not absorb what she reads. She learns more when she is actually doing something.

Advanced Alice– Alice is a highly cultured student who knows much of the material already. She will answer Tim’s questions (often after a large eye-roll) and then go back to working on material for another class. She is only taking this course because it is required for her degree plan.

Modest-Means Mary– Mary is a non-traditional student. She is a single mother who is having to work to support her child and pay her tuition. She wants to finish her degree so she can build a better life for herself and her child, but the hidden expenses of her education are beginning to wear on her.


Tim found the hybrid course textbook through a discussion with other CUNY theatre faculty and decided to implement it in his fall 101 course. He found that the interactive elements encouraged student participation both in their preparation and in-class discussions. The reimagined “text” promoted greater retention of information and freed his class time to be more active. Hannah also appreciated the new “text” because it reinforced what she was reading with hand-on games and activities. The self-guided nature of the new “text” allowed Alice to move through the course material at a faster pace and she is more active in class since the class in to a reiteration of the textbook. Mary is grateful for the new way the course is set up because it allows her to move at her own pace and doesn’t require her to spend $100+ on another textbook.

Full Version and Time Expectations

The full version of the hybrid course text would use WordPress, BuddyPress, and a course management plugin to create a modular theatre text book. Rather than being only a digitalization and customizable text book (such as a wikibook), this course text would integrate images, video, games, and activities to reinforce terms and concepts for the course. The games and activities also serve as a way to assess students’ progress without spending class time on  reading quizzes. Using WordPress with BuddyPress as a platform also brings an element of social learning into the course. As students work through the “text” they are able to ask questions and make comments about the material. This aspect serves as an extension of the class time but also allows for a lower stakes interaction without the fear of judgment from the professor; as well as, promoting critical thinking through engagement with the text in the context of a community.

Since I am already proficient in WordPress and have built several sites,  I do not anticipate that this project, even in its full version, would take too much time. The biggest challenge would be making the “text” modules flexible to allow teachers to customize the text to follow the order they want to teach the material. However, I feel like this feature is necessary for the project to expand beyond my own classroom. I would estimate about a year for the completion of this project, a majority of which would be spent populating the content and testing the games and activities to see have effectively they teach the concepts they are intended to.

Stripped Version and Time Expectations

A stripped down version of the hybrid course would remove the flexibility of the modules and would only focus on a singe unit of the course. Most of the features I am envisioning are already native to WordPress/BuddyPress, so I might as well incorporate them even in the reduced version. By focusing on a single unit of the course, i could have the project completed in about 3 months. This would prove the project’s viability, but it would have to be expanded before it would actually be useful as a course.

Jared’s Project Proposal 1: Experiencing Greenwich Village

Project 1: Experiencing Greenwich Village


In the traditional classroom cultural studies are limited to text based approaches, which can be supplemented with occasional audio and visual recordings. A New York based education has the benefit of allowing students access to many of the places where the cultural products they read about were produced. “Experiencing Greenwich Village” is an augmented reality app that expands the cultural classroom into the City itself. The app provides the user with a real-time, spatially embodied experience of Greenwich Village; while simultaneously, providing a unique glimpse into the cultural past.


Faculty Felicia– Felicia is an English literature professor at a CUNY community college. She is looking to enhance her teaching of early 20th century American literature. She has tried to incorporate audio and video into her powerpoint lectures but still finds that students do not connect the literature to the larger cultural zeitgeist.

Dyslexic Dolly- Dolly is very interested in the subject Felicia is teaching and wants to learn; however, she struggles with reading and has a hard time getting through some of the material.

Disinterested Darren- Darren doesn’t see the point in studying literature or culture. He sees these academic pursuits as dusty books that have no relevance to his lived experience.

Tina Tourista-   Tina is a middle aged woman from the Midwest. She is a tourist who travels the world looking for unique experiences that allow her to feel as if she has walked into a different time period (Very much like Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris).


Felicia heard about the app though discussion on the CUNY Academic Commons and thought it would be a perfect solution for her class on Early 20th century American literature. She assigned her students to use the app to explore Greenwich Village and its cultural history and write a paper about their experience. Dolly found the experience of approaching the text from this direction to be liberating because it allowed her to experience the texts through her body and bypass her reading difficulties. By walking through Greenwich Village and seeing connections ad differences between current Village culture and historical culture, Darren is able to see culture and literature as a lived experience rather than just words in a dusty book.

Tina Tourista found the app in the app store of her phone and downloaded it for her recent trip to NYC. While not in a structured course, Tina is excited to learn about the history of the city while walking and seeing the current sites.

Full Version and Time Expectations

The full version of “Experiencing Greenwich Village” would include multiple periods of Greenwich Village cultural history which would be experienced through a geo-located soundscape (including musical compositions, significant documents, letters, diaries, poems, etc.) combined with an augmented reality app that would provide historical images and textual information about the locations and aural selections.  Ideally, these periods would be experienced diachronically where moving through space would also be moving through time (as in Allen’s Midnight in Paris). The app would also provide a filter option in which a single period could be experienced.

I expect this project would take approximately three years for completion. It would take a little bit of time for me to learn the specific programming for the mobile app. However, I tend to pick up programming languages fairly quickly. I suspect the bulk of the time would be spent creating the aural collection and making the requisite recordings that would be necessary. Another major time consideration would be negotiating with museums and archives for access to collections and funding partnerships.

Reduced Version and Time Expectations

A reduced version of the app would simplify to only a single period of Village culture such as the 1930s or Beatnik period. The reduced app would also only focus on the sonic mapping aspect.

I expect this version would reduce the amount of time to a year to 18 months. I would still need to learn the programming for the sonic mapping and would negotiate access to collections; however, time is saved by removing the image and text aspects of the augmented reality and reducing the amount of material that must be collected.

Jared’s Single Paragraph Projects

Idea #1: Experience Greenwich Village

My first idea is a modification of the original idea I developed earlier this semester. I am interested in developing an augmented reality app that would would provide a guided walking tour of Greenwich Village in the 1920’s. Using programming similar to Roundware, I would map audio information (music, oral histories, radio programming, news stories) onto Washington Square Park to bring the cultural history of Greenwich village to life. This project would target students interested in arts history and cultural tourists.

Idea #2: Hybrid Theatre Curriculum

This project would explore the possibilities of creating a hybrid curriculum for an Introduction to theatre class. Rather than the course work being primarily focused on a lecture based model, this curriculum would explore the use of online discussion, interactive instructional modules, and games to enhance the learning experience. These online activities would substitute for the traditional textbook and better prepare students for in-class discussion. Such a model would extend the students’ exposure to various forms of theatrical performance around the world and throughout history that cannot be understood only by reading.

Idea #3: Platform for Works-in-Progress

I recently heard a podcast “Reshaping the Book” in which Bob Stein stressed the important contribution that social reading and writing can contribute to scholarship. While I am still leary of mass collaboration, I think that peer input can be incredibly helpful in the development of our work. I know form my own experience that I often find myself in a situation where I cannot find a solution to a particular problem; or, I am no longer able to recognize certain flaws in my logic. Stein introduced the Beta version of “SocialBook” as a way to build community through social reading and collaborative writing. Inspired by SocialBook and CommentPress, this project would build a digital platform for theatre scholars to share and respond to research projects-in-progress. It would begin with current GC theatre students and could then easily branch out through the network of GC Theatre alumni.

Collaboration/Corroboration: Questions of Power in the Collaborative Future

When I started reading Collaborative Futures I wanted to agree with their notion that greater collaboration is better for society. However, the further I read the more uneasy I began to feel. The authors of this collaboratively written work provide a nuanced examination of the benefits and potential pitfalls of collaboration. I fully support the notion that groups working collaboratively are better at problem solving and innovating more creative solutions to problems. This seems to work best in small scale collaborations where trust can be established, direct communication is possible, and the goals and organization of the project are clearly understood. My uneasiness comes in when the discussion shifts to large scale open collaborations. While such collaborations could be beneficial to society, they seem to be based on an altruistic notion of humanity that, from my perspective, does not exist.

Collaborative Futures tries to separate social and cultural production from the economic market economy. Yet, the authors also elicit a Bourdieuian analysis of their project when they invoke the term “cultural capital.” The invocation of Bourdieu negates the notion of altruism since, according to Bourdieu, all human action is interested action. Individuals will always act, consciously or not, in what they believe to be their best interests. This goes beyond the notion of economic incentive however to include the accrual of other types of capital. In this sense, the Free Culture movement establishes its own economy based on social and symbolic capital rather than monetary capital.

If we see large scale collaborations as establishing their own economies, then we have to acknowledge that they are also sites of power struggle. Does the open structure of large scale open collaboration open the possibility that a small well organized group could infiltrate and wield the power of the larger collective towards their own ends? Does the very nature of collaboration drive towards a state of “group think” in which dissension is silenced by the tyranny of the majority?

The authors begin to problemitize this situation in their discussion of Stephen Colbert’s actions on Wikipedia. Noticing the potential for a “group think” mentality on Wikipedia, Stephen Colbert coined the term “Wikiality” to describe to describe a phenomenon where a group of people can alter perception of truth through collaboration and corroboration on Wikipedia. He and his views adjusted the wiki page on elephants “claiming that the elephant population in Africa had tripled in the past 6 months (Collaborative Futures 53). Wikipedia responded by locking the article and deleting Colbert’s account.

I see two potentially disturbing power dynamics in this situation that raise questions:

  1. Who has the power to determine the ethics of the collaboration? Wikipedia removed Colbert’s claims, and his viewers’ corroboration of those claims, claiming site vandalism. While Colbert’s claims were blatantly false (it is satire after all), and were easily detected and removed as false claims. But what happens in murkier territory? The talk page for the Oberammergau Passion Play records a debate among wikipedia editors about whether or not to include the claims of anti-semitism in the play. Ultimately a version of the anti-semetic argument remain in the article (at least as of 3/2/2014), but is it possible that this significant element in the history of the play could be erased in service of an editor’s, or group of editors’, personal/political opinion that this aspect is no longer important? Who makes these decisions? On what basis?
  2. The issue of “Wikiality” itself raises interesting questions in terms of collaboration and corroboration. “Wikiality” as Colbert uses it is a form of group think in which a group of people can will facts into existence through repetition. In editing the wikipage for The Lost Colony play, I ran into trouble when i tried to check and add citations for existing information on the page. It was impossible to tell what information on the internet served as sources for the wiki and which were merely citing the wiki as the authority. In this instance the collaboration becomes the corroboration making claims appear to be facts. How do we avoid the dangers of this self-feedback loop?

Jared R. Pike- Bio

Jared R. Pike is a Ph.D. student at The Graduate Center, CUNY whose work focuses on the cultural power dynamics in theatrical performance. Current research interests include: the role of space in performances of history, digital media in the performance of history in museums, and the cultural power dynamics in German theatre during the period of unification.

Jared’s Project Idea

In thinking about possible project ideas for this course, there is one particular project that stands out in my mind, which I have been mulling over for some time now. I would like to create an app that would combine concepts of interactive technology and pedagogy with concepts from performance studies. Drawing on similar technology used in Bluebrain’s interactive music composition “Listen to the Light” in Central Park in 2011, I would develop an a soundscape for the city drawn from recorded sound archives, such as speeches, radio programing, and oral histories. As the user explores the city spatially, the app would allow the user to explore the history and diversity of New York City. In addition to linking the audio to the geolocation information, the app would also display information about the sound clip being played and relevant historical information.  

I believe this project has the potential to enhance learning and teaching about New York City’s social and cultural history. While the app could offer traditional curated walking tours, putting the information in sequence for the user, the benefit of the geolocation technology is that it allows the individual to craft their own experience. The individual becomes a flaneur, like a character in a Joyce novel, who spends the day exploring the city on multiple levels. The app could perhaps be pushed further, to create a stronger pedagogical experience, by adding a gaming element. In this scenario the user travels the city searching the historical recordings for items in a digital scavenger hunt.

This project also offers several opportunities for collaboration with various institutions in the city: The New York Public Library, The New York Historical Society, The Museum of the City of New York, as well smaller museums who have interesting collections that could be incorporated into the project. Additionally, the project seems to be ideal not only for recent digital pedagogy initiatives, but also for the recent push for Public Humanities programs.

In terms of scope, the project offers opportunities to start small and then expand. I would be possible to establish the framework while working in a small geographic area, such as a single neighborhood or Washington Square Park, and then expand out bit by bit.