Blog Post

What Do You Do If/When Technology Fails? #remixthediss

Anxiety runs high when you have over twenty virtual partners in a live-streamed event being held in a room that has not before had a live-streamed event.  We're doing our best.  But, remember, the Graduate Center, where we are hosting "What Is A Dissertation?" at 4 pm EST today (Friday Oct 10), is in midtown Manhattan, directly across from the Empire State Building.  Reception?  Well, let's just sometimes it is not exactly clear as a bell! 


So, everyone, we have the best back up plan ever:  Distributed Face-to-Face, livetweeted, and recorded on an institution-changing Google Doc.   That means, if all else fails, use the opportunity to talk among yourselves, as used to be said long ago on Saturday Night Live.   Talk about what a dissertation is, how the "product" of an education (i.e. writing one long, text-based monograph), changes the "process" of learning and how you cannot change a product unless you change the process.  Period.   Tweet out your insights.  Record them on a Google Doc.  An invaluable experience--even if the livestream fails us. 


We're working mightlly so that #remixthediss doesn't have to become #disstheremix.   But even if there is an epic technological fail (which is always possible), there does not have to be an epic HUMAN fail.  Use your time well, and tell us all about it on or on Twitter.  We'll capture everything we can later, including anything that doesn't transmit, on a website that you can use to help change your institution.   In other words, the technology may fail but the creative, imaginative, activist HASTAC network is about far more than technology.   We. Will. Not. Fail!


Whether you are participating via the livestream or in your own group, I highly recommend Think-Pair-Share as a way for everyone in your group to participate.   And then, please, share the results with us on the Google Doc.  The link to the Doc is below.   Have a great day, everyone!  And hope to see you at 4 EST.



What Is a Dissertation? New Models, New Methods, New Media

#remixthediss — this event will be livestreamed and live tweeted:  Join us!

When: October 10, 4.00-5.30pm (EST)

Where: English Department Lounge (Room 4406), The Graduate Center, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, NY NY 10016

Livestreamed from:

Twitter Hashtag: #remixthediss | Follow on Twitter:

What is a Dissertation? (Public Google Doc):

Think-Pair-Share Activity (Public Google Doc):

TAGSExplorer Hashtag Archive:

Virtual partners and participants welcome! (See COMMENTS section below for 4 ways to become a virtual partner.)

This Forum showcases recent and current doctoral students whose dissertations exemplify innovative, experimental formats--Scalar, video, websites, comics, multimedia inter actives. The event will be livestreamed and live tweeted (#remixthediss) by Futures Initiative and CUNY DHI fellows.  The Fellows, HASTAC Scholars, and any other interested parties are also invited to contribute to an  open public Google Doc that is designed to record and model successful institutional change--and to celebrate individuals and institutions leading such change.

Our goal is to model success stories (and challenges overcome) on the way to inventive, digital, experimental new forms of dissertations.

Chair: Cathy N. Davidson, Distinguished Professor and Director, Futures Initiative and HASTAC@CUNY


Jade E. Davis, Communications, University of North Carolina

Dwayne Dixon, Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

Gregory T. Donovan, Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University (PhD, Graduate Center, CUNY)

Amanda Licastro, English, Graduate Center, CUNY

Nick Sousanis, Teachers College, Columbia University

The Forum is co-sponsored by the Futures Initiative, CUNY DHI (CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative), HASTAC (@CUNY and @Duke), NY2020, as well as by distance partners: the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke University, HASTAC Scholars (an international graduate student network), and the online journal Hybrid Pedagogy, and a growing list of programs at the GC and beyond.   We also invite you to contribute to and join HASTAC's Digital Dissertation Group.  

Panelist Biographies

Jade E. Davis is in the final year of her doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Communication Studies. She is a member of the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke University, and a member of the HASTAC steering committee. She is a former PhD Intern with Microsoft Research New England’s Social Media Collective. Her research looks at how digital media’s role in the making, understanding, and accepting of knowledge and culture. More specifically she is interested in spaces that make digital information into knowledge and culture and the ethics and ownership of the data traces that are left behind. Her born digital dissertation, titled Historical Glitch is an examination of how digitization affects cultural narratives through an archive of digital photographs of black women. You can find some of her work on her website and follow her on twitter @jadedid.


Dwayne Dixon recently completed his PhD in Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and is a visiting instructor in Duke’s Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Department. His research is focused on young people in Tokyo and their relations to globalized urban space, their use of visual technologies, and their understandings of self amid changing conceptions of adulthood and limited economic possibility. His research is intertextual, combining ethnographic video along with traditional scholarly writing, presented digitally using Scalar, an open-source publishing platform. His writing has been published in The Journal of Postmodern Culture and Pastelegram and his photographic and video works have been exhibited globally, including NYC, North Carolina, and California.


Gregory T. Donovan is Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University, a researcher at the Public Science Project, and a founder of the OpenCUNY Academic Medium. Gregory received a Ph.D. in Environmental Psychology and a certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy from the CUNY Graduate Center. He has published and presented widely on the mutual shaping of people, place, and proprietary media, and is co-editor of The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy's special issue on Media and Methods for Opening Education. His dissertation, in the Department of Environmental Psychology, was entitled MyDigitalFootprint.ORG: Young People and the Proprietary Ecology of Everyday Data.


Amanda Licastro is currently completing her doctoral studies in the English Program at the Graduate Center, CUNY focusing on the relationship between technology and writing, and has certificates in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy and Teaching in the Two-Year College. Her dissertation applies digital humanities methods to issues concerning composition and rhetoric, with a particular focus on pedagogy. Amanda is an instructor in NYU’s Gallatin School and an Instructional Technology Fellow at Macaulay Honors College. She is also the co-founder and project manager of the Writing Studies Tree, serves on the editorial collective of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, and is on the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative team. Follow her work on her CUNY Academic Commons site Digitocentrism and on Twitter @amandalicastro.


Nick Sousanis completed his doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University in May 2014. Titled “Unflattening: A visual-verbal inquiry into learning in many dimension,” his dissertation, written and drawn entirely in comic book format, argues through its very form for the importance of visual thinking in teaching and learning. A book version of Unflattening is slated for publication by Harvard University Press in Spring 2015. Before coming to NYC, he was immersed in Detroit’s thriving arts community, where he co-founded the arts and cultural web-mag; served as the founding director of the UofM’s Work:Detroit exhibition space, and became the biographer of legendary Detroit artist Charles McGee. He developed and teaches a course on comics and education at Teachers College and teaches a comics readings course at Parsons. See excerpts from his work at


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