North, in The Making of Knowledge in Composition, defines the concept of inquiry from a number of perspectives: philosophical, experimental, critical, ethnographic, etc. The problem with these types of inquiry, for composition studies, is the tendency to "mix and match" methodologies.

This is one reason that Research in Written Conposition in the early 1960s, compares composition research to chemical research as it emerged from "the period of alchemy" (16). Tornow's study sometimes resembles a philosophical/ideological study, when she appropriates scientific theories, such as quantum physics and Kuhn's paradigm shift. The analogies are never used for an extended inquiry; according to North, philosophical inquiry must identify a problem, establish a premise, make an argument, and draw a conclusion (99). Such a process never occurs in this manuscript. For instance, Tornow tries to relate Mandelbrot's mathematical notion of fractals to one student's "fragmented memories." However, fractals are never again mentioned. Therefore, the philosophical concepts appear as interesting, but often tangential subjects--perhaps attempts to legitimize the study by making it quasi-scientific.

Link/Age resembles an ethnographic study when Tornow discusses the "cases" of several students in the online classroom and takes on the role of participant-observer. However, North would critique the study on similar grounds because the inquiry lacks methodology. There is no discussion about how or why particular students were chosen for the study, how the information was gathered, or how the data were interpreted. Furthermore, conclusions were drawn beyond the scope of the study; any such conclusions are invalid for ethnographic research. For a good example of sound methodology, see Wendy Bishop's Something Old, Something New: College Writing Teachers and Classroom Change (Southern Ill UP, 1990). Each case study (in separate chapters) follows the same format, uses the same methodology, and appropriates the same metaphors.

Link/Age also resembles a historical study in Chapter 3, where Tornow reviews the history of networked classrooms, citing Trent Batson's ENFI project and Fred Kemp's work at Texas Tech and his creation of the listserv, Megabyte University. While the chapter is useful, it isn't well-integrated into the case studies or the philosophical portions of the book.

The mixing and matching North critiques is often frustrating and disorienting. Just when the reader becomes involved in one aspect of inquiry, she is cut off and redirected. While such linkages might be used to advantage in a hypertextual environment, they are merely distracting in this linear format.

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Idea Hamster

Eric Crump used the phrase, referring to one of the organizers of the 1994 Computers and Writing Conference. The phrase originated from the "'Jargon Watch' section of Wired Magazine (2.06), [meaning] 'Someone who always seems to have his or her idea generator running. . . When network discussions are at their best, they appear to transform an entire class into idea hamsters" (Tornow 45). The metaphor might have been extended in the discussion of online classrooms, which give students more time to run with ideas after they have had time to organize their thoughts. Tornow contrasts this environment with the traditional face to face classroom, where students compete for "the floor," follow the IRE method, whereby "teacher Initiates, students Responds, teacher Evaluates" (Tornow 47), and learn via passive transfer. Chapter 6, "Participation_in_Discussion," cites some excellent research on gender bias in the classroom and offers an interesting critique of traditional classrooms by students in the present study. This chapter was one of the most effective in the book because it sustained inquiry into classroom discourse (both online and traditional) and avoided Utopian claims.

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I found myself running through a maze of metaphors, following one intellectual direction, then another and another. If metaphors are a way to think, to establish a mental framework, then the sheer number of metaphors causes confusion. In the space of two pages, online discussions are referred to as "threads of conversation," crisscrossing landscapes (Wittgenstein/philosophy), open systems (Prigogine and Stengers/science), and hot messages (Marshall McLuhan). Tornow claims that students crisscrossed domains in their online discussions, but doesn't say how this supposed domain-switching relates to open systems (an unexplained concept). As a reader, I have to provide evidence of crisscrossing by interpreting dialogues from other chapters. Stephen North's critique of the philosopher/compositionists, failing to follow a line of inquiry, is a valid one.

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Paradigm Shift

Sharon Crowley argues in Composition in the 21st Century: Crisis and Change that composition's movement from product to process is not a paradigm shift, as many theorists claim. Rather she sees process as serving a variety of epistomologies, one being an instantiation of current-traditional practices. "Process . . . describes a set of pedagogical tactics that can apparently be comfortably deployed within epistemologies as various as the romantic expressionism that undergirds freewriting or the Burkean analysis from which Kenndy, Kennedy and Holladay claim to have derived the tactic they call 'seeking motives'" (65). Crowley sees process as a new way to teach invention, a practice originating from ancient rhetoric. However, these new strategies enabled many teachers to move beyond current-traditional methods. What was "momentous," according to Crowley, was the process movement's effect on the discipline of composition. Process became a subject matter for study, particularly the "composing process of freshman students" (73). It was this shift that transformed composition studies.

Stephen North, in "The Death of Paradigm Hope" (Composition in the 21st Century), argues that the scientific paradigm for composition research, as envisioned by Braddock, Lloyd-Jones, and Schoer in 1963, has confined the discipline. "Holding down" composition as an object of study prevents the discipline from moving forward. North claims the "Myth of Paradigm Hope is dead or dying" and that we will constitute "ourselves and our research enterprise in other ways" (201). Perhaps Tornow's book demonstrates the transition from the kind of "scientific" research instituted by Braddock, Lloyd-Jones, and Schoer and continued by Patricia Sullivan and some emerging, unknown form of investigation.

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Associational Thinking

One of the points Tornow and others (such as Myron Tuman) make is that associational thinking might replace critical thinking. Although critical thinking is not defined in this text, it suggests sustained inquiry, what Mike Rose would call taking apart an argument, finding evidence, drawing conclusions. I, for one, am not ready to give up the urge to think critically, to explore layers in more depth than breadth. Tornow's text reflects both kinds of thinking, which is both frustrating and provocative.

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In "E-text_Comes_of_Age," Tornow raises provocative issues about how the temporal and dynamic qualities of e-text may change the way knowledge is constructed. Here she connects Eric Crump's snapshot metaphor (of digitized space) with particle/wave theory, using concrete examples of dialogue from the Rhetnet listserv. The theoretical discussion here is more grounded in practice than in other parts of the text.

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