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April 2008 Archives

April 12, 2008

Post Presentation Responses: Forum 3: Conformity and Knowledge in the Mechanical Era...

Jeremy Barrick - Jeremy, I really enjoyed your presentation! The content was extensive, valid and proved that computers and the internet are similar to the printing press in their ability to widely spread information and make it available to the masses (even in different languages and countries). The language tie in was clutch! Technology has greatly affected the transmission of information through out history (this we already know). I also agree that it is true that when you attempt to convert a work into a medium other than its original form there are a lot of changes that must occur in order for the conceptual vision to still work and be comprehended fully by the audience. For example, the adapters sometimes have to cut content and in other cases add it.

I really loved your example of Alice in Wonderland, because it has been translated into a film and hypertext work even though it was originally a novel. This type of adaptation is difficult to pull off. A sidebar is that a Seton Hill University senior and theatre major named Sarah Danko has recently adapted the story of Alice in Wonderland into a puppet show/play and it is currently on display in the Harlan Gallery. Your presentation surprisingly related directly to the class Books as Films, which studies the adaptation of novels and short stories in feature films. I am taking it with Dr. Wendland this semester and a lot of the points you made related to what I have learned about crossing over from one medium to another. On a side note I recommend this class and The Art of Film with Arnzen considering your background in film.

Daniella Choynowski - Dani, your presentation was right on the money and I agreed with a lot of the points you made regarding the ease of sending an e-mail rather than dealing with someone face to face. The emotional detachment surely appeals to most people. Sidebar: I apologize for not elaborating more in class about your topic, but it seemed like we had a tight presentation schedule today. Some people may call this a cop out; where as I would label it as pure human nature to avoid conflict and make things as easy to deal with as possible. There have been countless occasions that I have dealt with both business and academic related issues through e-mail rather than on the phone because I saw it as easier. Many times while working at E-Magnify Women’s Business Center I corresponded with business owners that were my interviewees for Entrepreneur’s Corner strictly by e-mail. It was rare that they ever used a telephone to get a hold of me.

It was simply easier to e-mail them than to work around their schedule and have phone interviews. I know that this e-mail dependency that I have is likely because I am completely 100% dependent on the internet in order to function in my every day life. I am a compulsive e-mail checker and I admit that whole heartedly. I suppose another thing about e-mail that I like is the ability that we have to share files readily through it. It makes my life a lot easier when someone responds to questions in a word document because I can then cut and paste the answers into my articles or assignments. Overall I don’t believe that using e-mail has ruined any of my relationships or friendships. If anything it has helped me to better communicate with people that I may have otherwise lost touch with over the years. I mean who doesn’t have an e-mail address in the world today?

Rachel Prichard - Rachel, your presentation was very lively and brought up a lot of good points about the idea of remixing one thought/theme in order to reach a broader audience. I really enjoyed your use of visual aids! The SNL video was hilarious, and I can honestly say they always present an unbiased political viewpoint by parodying both parties. I never would have guessed that The Star Spangled Banner was put to the music of a popular drinking song and I was also unaware of Will-I-Am’s remix of Obama’s speech. I think your use of the elections as a center for your presentation was a great idea because it is so fresh on so many people’s minds right now (especially young people). I have recently heard it said that we as a nation have not had so much buzz about a presidential election in years. That is most definitely exciting.

The part about the protests and the Olympic torch was interesting as well. I don’t think American’s realize how much foreign affairs really can affect us. In my opinion we are lucky that the biggest problem on our minds may only relate to rising gas prices rather than the mass genocide that is taking place in Darfur and other parts of Africa. Your tie in with the blogs was nice as well. Bloggers still don’t get enough recognition or credibility even though this medium of spreading news has grown significantly over the past four years. It seems like now everyone and their grandmother has a blog. It is almost as if they are hardly as innovative as they were when I first came to SHU.

Kayla Sawyer - Kayla, I enjoyed your presentation on the dangers of literacy, both physically and mentally. It reminded me of an episode of Stranger's With Candy entitled The Blank Page in which Jerri Blank learns how to read and it brings her nothing but trouble.As I was saying in class sometimes it is better just not knowing something. In the case of Jerri Blank she concludes at the end of the episode that reading is bad.Her final statement is something to the effect of "don't learn to read or write because it can only lead to tragedy."

Your presentation reminded of the reading that we did involving Frederick Douglass and his struggle to learn to read and write. On one hand he needed to do it in order to better his situation, but on the other he was realizing how bad off he really was the more he learned. Learning in his case was a double edged sword.

Assignment Link

Tattoo Woo-Hoo...

The other day I was hanging out with my friend Julie, who is a tattoo apprentice. She decided to let me take a shot at tattooing some fruit in her room. It is a lot harder than it looks and I guess that is why they will not just let anyone start to tattoo people. I would never be able to do this on a regular basis. I don't have a steady enough hand.interer4e4ed4d.jpg

April 8, 2008

Writing Material: Turkle Agenda Item…

Agenda Item: “Technological optimists think that computers will reverse some of this social atomization, touting virtual experience and virtual community as ways for people to widen their horizons.” - Turkle, pg 479.

I would call this an interesting idea, but one that lacks support in my eyes. In the next line Turkle poses the question as to how sitting alone in a room typing on a computer will ever bring people closer together. This is where I am coming from as well. Virtual friends may somehow fulfill the needs of non-social individuals, but I personally prefer human interaction. We are at a point of retreat from society where laziness and the ease of ordering things online are dominant. I know people that prefer ordering pizza online for the simple fact that it means they don’t have to interact with someone on the phone.

These same people fight about who is going to “deal with” the pizza guy when he arrives. I can see what Turkle means about the bypassing of the neighborhood having to do with our current attitudes regarding community. Independence and isolation are a running theme for some individuals with the innovations of technology.

Assignment Link

Writing Material: Turkle Informal Reflection…

The idea that we often compare the virtual experience to the real one is very true. I have to say that I do not feel that they should be compared at all because they are completely different. The only comparison can be drawn by seeing how much one reflects the other, but not to say which one is better. Each version provides the individual with different things. I liked the statement that Turkle made regarding simulations carrying certain risks.

Simulation is a brand new technology and for that reason it scares a lot of people. But, why? There used to be those virtual reality games that people thought we so neat; what makes them any different from this new kind of online simulation? In both instances we are being presented with worlds that are not real, but are supposed to present a feeling of realism to the users. We aren’t saying that they are adequate substitutes for reality although I am sure the escapism aspect lures many users to these worlds. To me it is no different than playing a video game.

Turkle brings up the idea that some people prefer MUDS to video games because they are created by the people that actually frequent them. I think this plays a lot to the fact that over the past few years games with the option to create an original character are becoming more prevalent. I am specifically reminded of this option on the Nintendo Wii. The Wii has the Mii option that allows gamers to construct an avatar that looks, and dresses like them. If you ever wanted to know what you would look like as a video game character this is a good way to find out.

I also kind of felt it interesting that people (many teens) would now much rather talk online and through txt message rather then on the phone. There was a time before cell phones that I would talk on the home phone and have my friends call at a certain time. This was also a different age as far as security/safeness was concerned. Simulations such as online chat rooms can be much more perilous that talking with friends on the land line telephone in the olden days. The internet is a buffer or shield for people in order to change who they are sometimes.

Comments:

I commented on Stormy Knight's blog entry about this reading. I 100% agree that the internet is a buffer for people to create false personas for one another and highly over elaborated lives. Internet dating comes to mind more times then not when I am thinking about this subject. You are right on the money with your reference to the e-mail opener of Stormy,...opposed to the formal Dear Stormy,. I never thought about that until now. Recently I have come to the conclusion that the internet is a criminal’s dream land because of this ability to take on another identity. E-bay rip offs seem to be very low on the crime totem poll compared to cyber bullying and sexual predators.

Assignment Link

April 13, 2008

EL 200: Best Practices Reflection...

Robert J. Haiman's short handbook Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists covers all the angles (no pun intended) that anyone in the journalism field needs to know about. The central theme of the book is fairness in the media and how to identify when newspapers and other news organizations are being unfair. I specifically focused on the chapter entitled Newspapers are unfair when: They have ignorant or incompetent reporters.

People in community and civic leadership positions claimed that when they were interviewed the reporters did not know enough about the subjects that they were trying to report on. In defense of the journalist I will say that we are not necessarily supposed to be experts on all subjects or even a variety of subjects, but we are expected to have the research skills in order to become knowledgeable rather quickly about a topic in order to write an accurate and effective article on it. I suppose this is the saga of a beat reporter. They are constantly going with the flow of their stories and don't concentrate on one for long.

Though I can see why the public would be mad at an oversimplification of their stories. I someone was writing a story for the sports section and had no basic knowledge about the sport they were covering it could end in disaster. Unfortunately this has been the case a few times at our very own Setonian when regular reporters that were used to writing news and arts and entertainment ventured into the sports section. The amount of fixing that needs to be done to these kinds of articles makes assigning them to unfamiliar writers almost pointless and doubles the work of the editorial staff. It is remarkable to me that the editors of these professional papers allowed such trite and simplified versions of the articles to go to print.

"They may not have extensive education in the field they are covering, but a broad liberal education, coupled with sound journalistic skills, compensates for that," (Haiman 24).

This quote above made me particularly thankful for my own personal exposure to a variety of classes at Seton Hill University because of the liberal arts core. The one below is a reporter's worst nightmare as far as feedback from an interview subject is concerned.

"I don't expect him to be a doctor, but couldn't they give us somebody who'd had at least one course in human biology?" (Haiman 23).

I feel confident that in a similar situation I could rely upon the classes that I had taken in college that were not necessarily concentrated around my profession as a journalist. I guess the way I see it is that I don’t have to be an expert in anything other then interviewing because I can then go and ask the experts all the things I need to know in order to write an article. When I was working at E-Magnify I was asked to write articles about things which I had no clue about like e-mail marketing, networking and business blogs.

It is kind of the same thing when you think about chemistry majors at SHU wondering why they have to take and American Literature class. They never know what kind of technical report writing they will have to do so classes like that one and Thinking and Writing give them a taste of critical writing and researching. I can relate to this because I was once asking myself why I was forced to take Environmental Science, but then I wrote an article on Earth Day and it paid off.

Even though I was not completely an expert on these topics I knew how to research and how to interview in order to get the answers that I needed. The problem is not that the reporters are lacking knowledge of a given subject; it is that they don’t know how to properly find the information to write about it. Sometimes a specialist in a certain field may not be able to convey the information that a reporter could because they in fact can't simplify it.

Haiman suggests that editors look to see if candidates have taken a concentration or second major in a subject that would help them establish a specialty, but I feel as though this could work against the writer as well (24). No one wants to be pigeon holed into writing the same type of story over and over again. I kind of felt that way when I was writing only sports stories and that eventually made me branch out into other sections.

This chapter goes on to talk extensively about the hiring process that an editor should go through when looking for a good candidate for a writing position. It was interesting that some publishers and newspapers require that their journalists obtain additional training in their specialized beat/field.

"Publishers and corporate news executives must recognize that additional training (and re-training) to polish journalistic skills, and education to acquire additional knowledge, are not luxuries or budget frills, but essential investments in building reader trust," (Haiman 25).

Haiman suggests that the best way to make sure the reporter is competent is to have him/her go back and explain what they have done. I agree that the fairness of the newspaper as well as its integrity would be compromised if a reporter was wrong about their story and the information that it contained. The idea of reading copy back to sources is one that I am a proponent of at all times in order to fact check. I always made sure to send a copy of the Entrepreneurs Corner articles that I wrote to the women I was writing about and a few times they would e-mail and call me with a correction. Though that is the beauty of posting articles to a database online; I can easily correct any mistakes with the click of a mouse.

This quote stuck out to me because of the variation that I noticed in the speeches that I was analyzing when Mitt Romney dropped out of the presidential race. It kind of goes against the basic practice of fact checking in journalism. This chapter heavily emphasized the concept of verify or duct up until this point.

"Statements made in public forums, speeches or public utterances by politicians or business leaders, etc., should not be read back or revised," (Haiman 27).

Assignment Link

April 14, 2008

Kirschenbaum (Preface, Introduction, Ch 1, Ch 2) Agenda Item...

Agenda Item: " Though normally invisible to human eyes, the magnetic recording on such a card is indisputably an inscription, as is apparent after the aerosolized ferrite oxide which makes the tracks and data patterns visible," (Mechanisms 31).

I mean I never really thought of a magnetic strip on a card to be of any significance other than to swipe me into my dorm room or other places, but there is a definite presence of technology on them. The figure in the book makes this point much more apparent. The fact that we cannot usually see these marks delves into the world of man vs. machine in a sense. This is information that we are not privy to because we are not computers. Technology is exclusive in this example.

Wow. Ok. Reading this first part of the book (the preface) regarding William Ford’s “Agrippa” was just insanely bizarre. I even went on to Wikipedia searching for answers about what the poem’s significance was and the definition for mechanisms. As of right now I have grasped the concept that this book is going to be about electronic textuality.

A mechanism is both a product and a process and apparently Wikipedia is a mechanism (xvii). Frankly I am not enjoying this book at all so far. I think it is a little too complicated and at this point I am having a hard time comprehending as well as getting into the content. It is kind of like mush in my brain right now. I am not giving up on it yet, but I am going to need a break from this reading.

Assignment Link

Kirschenbaum (Preface, Introduction, Ch 1, Ch 2) Informal Reflection...

The first chapter of the book caught my attention when it introduced screen essentialism, which is a very cool term! It refers to the prevailing bias in new media studies toward display technologies that would have been unknown to most computer users before the mid -1970s. I assume that screen essentialism applies to all types of visual technologies. For example; those self-check out touch screens at Wal-Mart, airport e-ticket machines, and of course computers. People that are not part of the screen essentialist era are likely dependent on written technologies.

I wonder if being a member of the screen essential movement would make someone prone to constantly check their cell phone because of a need to see what time it is and know if they are being contacted. I probably check my phone at least every 5 minutes when I am in class. I get ‘phantom vibrations’ with it as well. This is when I think I have gotten a txt or it is ringing, but it actually hasn’t moved at all. I would say that it is a compulsion, but I am sure not the only one out there that does it.

On pg 32, Kirschenbaum shows a picture of the old time 5 ¼ inch floppy disks that brought up a very distinct memory for me. When I was in the 7th grade I went with my family to New Jersey to visit my Dad’s sister and parents. I had to stay in my cousin’s room and in there was this old Macintosh computer that took these 5 ¼ inch floppy disks. At this point I had already been using computers since the 2nd grade, but this mini-screened alien creation was a mystery to me. I believe I got to where it would turn on and read the disk, but this was long before I knew anything about command prompts.

I can imagine some people liking the big bulky storage disks for the sheer reason that it was a familiar size, like a record or even a file. The trend was to go smaller. 3 ½ floppy disks were all that I used in middle school and then CDRWs became popular when I entered high school. Now I simply use a 2.0 GB flash drive that works better for storing information then any of the previous methods. I just now also thought about the way in which we mesh the digital and written culture by writing on the floppy disk labels.

Comments:

I commented on Kayla Sawyer's blog entry about this reading. I wrote that I agree about the use of handy gadgets being a large part of new media. If I could just pull a Jerz for a moment and give you an anecdote. I recall a time when Stormy used a blue tooth headset while conducting an interview over the telephone. It proved much easier then having to quickly scribe (or type)out the answers with one hand and balance the phone between her neck and head. Not to mention the fact that on a cell phone there is a function for recording calls. This was a very good use of these new 'fangled' gadgets. lol.

I also commented on Rachel Prichard's blog. I wrote I really find computer forensics interesting as well. You would think with the popularity of television shows like NCIS and CSI that there would be one completely devoted to computer crimes and the study of hard drives. I have seen “To Catch A Predator” more times then I can count. Interestingly enough I recently read about a new kind of software that was showcased at an invention convention that allows a person to scan e-mails to tell whether they are from someone that is actually the gender they are claiming to be.

The e-mail analyzer will determine whether the person you meet in the chat room is not a man pretending to be a woman or the other way around. The computer program developed by a Malaysian university professor analyzes e-mails according to the number of words, exclamation marks, emotions and compliments to determine if the sender is male or female. Women tend to be more expressive than men, said Dianne Cheong Lee Mei, but she refused to go into detail about how the program unveils the gender of the unseen Internet partner. Now that is something to think about.

And finally I commented on Jeremy Barrick's blog entry on the reading. I wrote that having a hard drive save files after they are deleted from the bin can sometimes be a good thing. When I was in New Media Projects I accidentally deleted some gaming files for one of my projects and could not retrieve them from the recycling bin. I was using a computer in a lab on 3rd Maura and was sure they were gone. Upon e-mailing the IT department the files were recovered and my butt was saved. This was one time I was happy that the hard drive was "holding" the files.

Assignment Link

April 16, 2008

Kirschenbaum (Chapter 3) Agenda Item...

Agenda Item: “A copy of the Mona Lisa is just that - a copy of an acknowledged original - while a copy of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a perfectly valid way of experiencing the work,” (Mechanisms 134)

I find it incredible how we as a culture and society see the reprinting of a classic novel as acceptable, but the reproduction of a classic painting as invalid and insulting to the creator. I think this says a little something about the implication that texts (specifically books) are meant to be reproduced where as art is valued only in its original form. The reproduction of books is 100% acceptable and not at all seen as invalid. The whole concept of allographic identification and the sameness of spelling is what hold together this entire idea. Digitally the reproduction of text and graphics follows the same criteria.

Assignment Link

April 17, 2008

Kirschenbaum (Chapter 3) Informal Reflection...

Ok so chapter 3 is making things much more interesting then the first few chapters and the introduction. I was particularly interested in the figure (3.10) on pg 137 which demonstrated the difference between allographic and autographic representations. Though the chess pawns are in varying places; they are still in the same square. Kirschenbaum keeps emphasizing that a computer’s environment is built; therefore manufactured and machined with the ability to mimic formal environments such as reality. I feel like he is almost saying that the computer was made for simulations and the reproduction of reality.

I really enjoyed the section of the chapter dealing with formal materiality and applications. The references to JPEGs were fascinating and I related them to a lot of the image work that I have done in graphic design and publications classes at Seton Hill. Pictures that are converting into JPEGs generally portray an image in a condensed, but recognizable way even though they may vary in size. An optical zoom of 100% compared to 500% will roughly look the same, and may appear only slightly pixilated. I often convert BMP files into JPEGs because they are pretty much universally recognized by most web browsers.

I also really liked the quote below as a nice tie together for the entire chapter.

“If I had to choose one word to describe what computer forensics brings to the theoretical discourse of electronic textuality, that word would be ‘difference’ ,” (Mechanisms 158).

Comments:

I commented on Stormy Knight's blog entry that I recall vividly the beta testing that we did for some of the games we created in New Media Projects and some people simply did not get it! The pre-disposition to know how to do something comes in very handy with new media. I can relate to the story about you Mom and the word processor, because my Dad is the same way, though he is a hunt and peck typist as well.

Your refusal to own a Mac is understandable. We all get comfortable in our ways. Look at me with my 8 year old Toshiba Satellite laptop that I have to jam a pair of scissors in the side of in order to turn on. I am still using it and am happy with it.

Additionally I commented on Kayla Sawyer's blog entry about this reading. I wrote that digitalization does create speed, efficiency and adds to the quality of things like movies. Recently I was talking with Dr. Wendland about how most movies are going digital when in the theatres rather than using the old time reels of film. Although it sometimes feels like the digital revolution is taking over I still own my fair share of VHS tapes, which Wal-Mart and several other conglomerations have subsequently ceased selling.

I also commented on Dani Choynowski's blog entry on this reading. I wrote congrats on your 100th entry. When you get to be an old timer like me those days seem so long ago. Just wait until you are a senior and you look back at your archives. Anyway in regard to your first quote in this entry I see the floppy disk as a technological fingerprint. I would assume that the notes in the game are simply a plot motivator that changes the way in which the story plays out. A red herring so to speak.

Assignment Link

April 18, 2008

Kirschenbaum (Finish) Agenda Item...

Agenda Item: “…hypertext is a mechanism, what Aarseth calls a cybertext - the scriptons on the screen arrive there as a result of a set of procedural transactions by which certain txtons are promoted to screen-level in accordance with reader choice and the underlying programmatic logic of the work,” (Mechanisms 166).

It is once again confirmed in this quote that the user/reader needs to have previous knowledge of the program that they are using in order to effectively understand the author’s intentions. Or maybe they just need to grasp the author’s intentions in order to learn the work? This reminded me of a comment that I left on Stormy’s blog the other day that dealt with the implicit knowledge that is required when using certain types of new media. There is no doubt that if you have a previous know-how about anything you will like it, understand it, and be able to appreciate it more. A little further along in this section Kirschenbaum mentions the temporality of electronic literature.

“The impermanence of electronic literature cuts both ways: as there is no lasting success, there is also no failure the needs to last,” (Mechanisms 166).

I think that this probably adds to the draw of electronic literature and specifically interactive fiction. They are really trial and error programs that you have to play a million times to really get through, but each time you get a little further along and learn from your previous mistakes. In contrast Kirschenbaum refers to the “immutability of printed literature” meaning that it can’t be changed and is set in stone each time we read it. The versatility of cybertexts has to be commended here.

Assignment Link

April 19, 2008

Kirschenbaum (Finish) Informal Reflection..

Printed text and the text that appear on a computer screen (cybertext) are very different as we have seen in Mechanisms. The linear or one dimensional attributes of the printed text make it much more versatile and in my opinion inviting for the reader/user. It makes you think about the popularity level of those choose your own adventure novels that had a bunch of different endings depending on the choice you made at the end of a given chapter.

I particularly remember when R.L Stein (the creator of the Fear Street and Goosebumps series) came out with some of these books. I am not sure if they were deemed a success or not. Part of me wants to lean towards saying that the medium of cybertext is much better to try out this kind of experiential reading.

Comments:

I commented on David Cristello's blog entry about this reading. I wrote that: The gamer and reader are similar as the programmer and the author would be as well. I would say that the game and book need the author more so in order to exist than the reader. Someone has to make the game before it can be played.

I also commented on Kayla Sawyer's blog entry on the reading. I wrote: Text is a tool that we use in order to convey certain messages and themes. I believe it becomes tangible when it is put on a computer screen or in a book on a printed page.

Finally I commented on Rachel Prichard's blog entry on this reading. When I think about transmission I immediately think of the brain and how we have these messages sent to us every day via the brain. So does that mean that the brain is the most complex mechanism? I don't know if it really fits that definition though. In regard to txting and meaningful conversation (brought up by Kayla): I believe the exact opposite. I know people that only have serious talks via txt in the same way they do via email.

Assignment Link

Baio Responses...

1. I would have to agree that a blogger can in fact be a journalist. I mean look at Matt Drudge and his blog the Drudge Report. He first received national attention in 1996 when he broke the news that Jack Kemp would be Republican Bob Dole's running mate in the 1996 presidential election. In 1998, Drudge gained notoriety when he was the first outlet to break the news which later became the Monica Lewinsky scandal (Wikipedia). An additional example of a blogger/journalist is Dan Gilmor.

I think blogging and journalism have a lot in common. Though I admit that there are repercussions that go along with be a journalist that blogs rather than a blogger that reports the news. People that are labeled first as journalists often have to answer to editors like in the case of Joshua Kucera, a free-lancer for Time Magazine that had been filing from Iraq to his blog. Kucera was asked by his editor to cease posting to his blog until after the war was over.

I do think that Andy Baio is a journalist, but the first indicator of that would be that he is a self proclaimed independent journalist as written in his blog bio. I mean technically he is a journalist because what he is doing fits the definition of the word perfectly. If we think of a journalist as one who keeps a journal then a blogger is a shoe in for the title.

If we go for the more formal definition of “one who’s occupation is journalism” then we need to define journalism. In the case of the blogger I believe the best definition of journalism is “written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.” Essentially blogging and journalism are pretty synonymous. Hands down. Technically no one has the right to decide who is a journalist and who isn't. People may not think that Perez Hilton is a journalist by conventional standards, but by the definition of journalism he is as legitimate as Dan Rather.

2. I definitely think that this (the Baio issue) is journalism even though it depends on archival material. Baio still had to sift through all of the information and do research in order to put it all together as well as draw various conclusions about the missing pieces to the story that weren’t evident in the archives. I mean I am pretty sure that is probably one of the best examples of investigative reporting that I have ever seen. I mean its not like he is claiming to be Woodward and Bernstein, but as far as new media discoveries are concerned Baio is on point.

3. Ahhh the age old question of the validity of anonymous sources. I think it really comes down to why this source wants to be left un-named. As the ethical code of journalism is concerned we as journalists have to protect the rights of sources and if this means that they remain anonymous then so be it. Specifically I am reminded these things from the code:

"A journalist should use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects, and give a voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid," (Society of Professional Journalists).

There are a lot of issues surrounding anonymous sources; but usually they have honorable intentions. In this case it may be someone close to the whole Infocom saga that didn't want it to come back on them in a negative way. Though some people like USA Today co-founder Al Neuharth are avidly opposed to the use of anonymous sources. He believes that most anonymous sources often tell more than they know.

"For more than 20 years, I've preached that anonymous sources are the root of evil in journalism," (Al Neuharth).

Assignment Link

April 22, 2008

EL 336: Blog Portfolio II - From Manuscript to Print Culture...

This is the second installment of my Blog Portfolio for the 2008 spring semester class EL 336: History and Future of the Book. This particular class examines the book as a technology that has evolved along with the way we communicate with one another. So far we have talked about the evolution from oral to manuscript culture. Overall the class covers oral and manuscript culture, pre-literate society and literate society.

For those of you that did not follow my blog prior to now I will give you a brief exposition about me. My name is Leslie Rodriguez and welcome to my weblog sponsored by Movable Type. I am a senior at Seton Hill University and as part of my class and the New Media Journalism program I write and respond with blog entries on various topics for class and for fun.

These entries are then posted for public view on my blog. This entry acts as an introduction to my blog portfolio which includes selected entries that reflect on our in class discussions, published news articles and various texts that Dr.Jerz has assigned the class. The following topics will be examined and discussed in my blog portfolio:

The Collection:
My best blog entries that demonstrate intellectual growth. Entries are categorized accordingly.

Coverage & Timeliness: - All of my agenda item entries include a direct quote from an assigned reading, identify the source of the quote, and link back to the course web page devoted to that reading. I have combined these two categories of coverage and timeliness because they tend overlap. The timeliness entries were ones that I posted on time (such as agenda items posted 24 hours before the class discussion, or reflection papers posted before the class meeting.

Calvino (up to "6") Agenda Item
WM Douglass Agenda Item
Medieval Help Desk Agenda Item
Calvino (continued) Agenda Item
McLuhan (91-180) Agenda Item
McLuhan (180-263) Agenda Item
Orwell (selection) Agenda Item
Orwell (selection) Agenda Item
Aarseth (Ch 1-4) Agenda Item


Interaction & Depth:
- Several entries that demonstrate my ability to interact with my peers. My entry might link to something a classmate posted, or my entry might have attracted comments from peers. I have combined the categories of interaction and detph here. Depth entries on my blog show my ability to write in depth. All of my informal reflections cover this particular category.

Calvino (up to "6") Informal Reflection
WM Douglass Informal Reflection
Medieval Help Desk Informal Reflection
Calvino (continued) Informal Reflection
McLuhan (91-180) Informal Reflection
McLuhan (180-263) Informal Reflection
Orwell (selection) Informal Reflection
Orwell (selection) Informal Reflection
Aarseth (Ch 1-4) Informal Reflection

Discussion: - Several links to a page on a classmate's blog where I left a significant comment that was part of a fruitful discussion. Below are all the comments that I left on my peers blog entries and agenda items.

WM Douglass - I commented on Jeremy Barrick and Rachel Prichard's blog entries.

McLuhan (91-180) - I commented on Kayla Sawyer and Dani Choynowski's blog entries.

Calvino (up to "6") - I commented on Kayla Sawyer's blog entry.

Non-Category Entries: -

Forum 2: Pencil technology advances to a point.

Assignment Link

EL 336: Final Paper Idea Throw Around (feedback welcome)…

I have been digging through all the thoughts in my brain in order to come up with a thesis for the final paper. Yesterday Dr. Jerz and I spoke briefly about one idea when I expressed an interest in continuing my study of video games and relating it to digital culture. He mentioned avatars and suggested that in some classes writing a biography and story about an avatar would in turn help students to write about themselves. Apparently this is a legitimate practice in some academic forums.

I came up with a few notions about avatar creation and the creation of characters in literature. I tried to think about the literary/author personality in all of us and how it can be brought out through the creation of an avatar. I have found that avatars are not always direct reflections of the gamer, though they can be like on the Nintendo Wii. Last night I came up with a few more ideas that centered on interactive fiction, hypertext literature, and cybertexts. I know that I want to do something with digital and now I am off to the library to try and figure out what that “something” is going to be.

Ideas:

1. Avatar idea as mentioned above.

2. I thought about maybe writing a research paper about the relationship between interactive fiction and the popular fiction genres. There are definite similarities and differences between the two forms of literature, but we can see where they have grown off one another. Specifically we see the influence that popular fiction has had on the interactive medium.

3. Video games have turned into teaching tools of the future the same way that books were once innovative.

April 27, 2008

Doctorow (1-81) Agenda Item & Informal Reflection...

Agenda Item: "...Whuffie recaptured the true essence of money: in the old days, if you were broke but respected, you would never starve; contrawise if you were rich and hated, no sum of money could buy you security and peace," (Doctorow 14).

The quote above kind of made me think about the value we place on money in society today. I am reminded of the motion picture “Richie Rich” and how no matter what amount of money he had there was no way to buy happiness. He even tried to buy friends and that didn’t work out so well. In the world that Dan, Jules and Lil live in people’s value is measured by how much Whuffie they have aquired. Whuffie measures how much esteem and respect other people have for you. One thing that I really like about science fiction books is the way that they can address any contemporary social issue in a future setting and still make valid points about it.

There was a nice pun (or at least I read it as a pun) on page 9. "Damn, you know it's easy to get used to a life without hyperlinks." The following line reads: "And then it clicked for me." Get it? Hyperlinks..clicked? Ok maybe I am just amused by that one. I thought a good point was raised on page 12 when they discuss the world getting a little too crowded. It made me think about the possible alternatives to dealing with overpopulation and the first thing that came to mind was genocide.

I felt like the storage of humans in computers kind of related nicely to what we talked about while reading Mechanisms and how storage is the way of new media and the future. I wondered how the person stored in a computer would even be considered alive. I mean can they respond or think? What happens if the hard drive dies? Does the individual essentially die? But then again in a world like this the only way to die would be for the computer to erase you. The cell phone implant in the brain was my favorite part of the book so far because I would love to have one of those things. Extreme Bluetooth?

And last but not least I cannot go without addressing the casual smoking of crack and the glorification of suicide while at your prime and peak of your given profession.

Comments:

I commented on Kayla Sawyer's blog entry for this reading. I wrote: Well Kayla the crack reference is definitely pertinent to the text. Facebook/Myspace with no friends would no doubt be like having no Whuffie. People don't value you enough to throw around the term of friend/lover/companion so they don't friend request you. I agree that money does play a large roll in the way we as a society judge and treat one another. That is why I love science fiction; it brings up the truth, but puts it in an extreme context to help us realize it about ourselves.

I commented on Chris Ulicne's blog entry for this reading as well. I wrote: Good point Chris. When we find out how things work it sometimes takes away some of the mystery and illusion behind them. Magic tricks are like this in a way. Sometimes I wonder how this applies to us living in such a technologically advanced society. What are things going to be like when there are no mysteries anymore?

Assignment Link

Doctorow (82-206) Agenda Item & Informal Reflection…

Agenda Item: "I've done some pretty shitty things in my day," he said. "This is the absolute worst. You helped me and I betrayed you. I'm sure glad I don't believe in God - that'd make what I'm going to do even scarier," (Doctorow 197).

The above quote comes right before Dan is about to kill himself at the end of the book. In a world like this one there is no real concept of God and religion in the traditional sense because the people are playing God every time they clone, backup and refresh. Dan can't believe in something that science has proven to be more powerful then. The whole book takes an interesting look at the question as to whether or not God will forgive suicide?

One of the big things that I think we learn from the book is that living forever and having infinite amounts of money will never lead to people being truly happy. People in this futuristic world don’t feel anything; pain, love, the pay-off of hard work and reward for taking chances. The whole idea that at Disney [land or world] everything is artificial really comes into play through out the book. I can attest that the novelty effect wears off after a while at the amusement park. The same thing happens to people living in this artificial society. Personally after I went there [Disney in Florida] I had no real desire to ever do it again. There are only so many times you can ride the teacups without getting sick.

In class we talked about the Magic Kingdom possibly being a metaphor for youth. You can also look at in the sense that the characters aren’t getting any older [Mickey, Donald etc]. There is this weird cult-like feeling that I associate with the Disney fanatics. The idea that anyone can join them if they are a big enough fan comes to mind. In regard to some of the cool innovations of the book I really liked the idea of finger clicking and beaming information into someone else’s brain.

It would be the most convenient way of explaining something that you had a great deal of knowledge about, but didn’t necessarily know how to verbally convey. In an earlier entry I gave props to the invention of the Cochlea cell phone implant.

Comments:

I commented on Rachel Prichard's blog entry on this reading. I wrote: Cloning should definitely be a last resort for the sheer fact that the book demonstrates how it can be abused. I don't even really know if I can justify it for practical means. Can you even fathom the wastefulness of cloning? It would be like printing out a piece of paper, but the ink smears a little on the corner and you print another one because you can't deal with imperfection.

I also commented on Jeremy Barrick's blog entry for this reading. I wrote: I loved this quote in the book Jeremy. I was considering it for my own agenda item at first. The universe gets older, but it doesn't ever die just like the information on a computer's hard drive. Now I can't in good conscience say that a hard drive will last forever as an embedded technological footprint, but it we can sometimes rescue files after it has been damaged. I think it would be great to have the ability to access memories on a computer, but not to put them into clones. If I had dementia or Alzheimer’s then maybe it would be an option.

Additionally I commented on DaniellaChoynowski's blog entry. I wrote: I thought of the deadheading on the airplanes as absolutely absurd. It reminded me of people that knock themselves out with sleeping pills so they don't have to deal with a long flight, car or train ride. I mean are people that distant that they would rather be comatose then interact with one another?

Assignment Link

EL 336: Blog Portfolio 3 - Digital Culture...

This is the third installment of my Blog Portfolio for the 2008 spring semester class EL 336: History and Future of the Book. This particular class examines the book as a technology that has evolved along with the way we communicate with one another. So far we have talked about the evolution from oral to manuscript culture. Overall the class covers oral and manuscript culture, pre-literate society and literate society.

For those of you that did not follow my blog prior to now I will give you a brief exposition about me. My name is Leslie Rodriguez and welcome to my weblog sponsored by Movable Type. I am a senior at Seton Hill University and as part of my class and the New Media Journalism program I write and respond with blog entries on various topics for class and for fun.

These entries are then posted for public view on my blog. This entry acts as an introduction to my blog portfolio which includes selected entries that reflect on our in class discussions, published news articles and various texts that Dr.Jerz has assigned the class. The following topics will be examined and discussed in my blog portfolio:

The Collection:
My best blog entries that demonstrate intellectual growth. Entries are categorized accordingly.

Coverage & Timeliness: - All of my agenda item entries include a direct quote from an assigned reading, identify the source of the quote, and link back to the course web page devoted to that reading. I have combined these two categories of coverage and timeliness because they tend overlap. The timeliness entries were ones that I posted on time (such as agenda items posted 24 hours before the class discussion, or reflection papers posted before the class meeting.

Aarseth (Ch 5; 8-9) Agenda Item
WM Turkle Agenda Item
Kirschenbaum (Preface, Ch 1, Ch 2) Agenda Item
Kirschenbaum (Ch 3) Agenda Item
Kirschenbaum (Finish) Agenda Item
Doctorow (1-81) Agenda Item
Doctorow (82-206) Agenda Item

Interaction & Depth:
- Several entries that demonstrate my ability to interact with my peers. My entry might link to something a classmate posted, or my entry might have attracted comments from peers. I have combined the categories of interaction and detph here. Depth entries on my blog show my ability to write in depth. All of my informal reflections cover this particular category.

WM Turkle Informal Reflection
Kirschenbaum (Preface, Ch 1, Ch 2) Informal Reflection
Kirschenbaum (Ch 3) Informal Reflection
Kirschenbaum (Finish) Informal Reflection
Doctorow (1-81) Informal Reflection
Doctorow (82-206) Informal Reflection
Baio Responses
Forum 3: Conformity and Knowledge in the Mechanical Era Responses

Discussion: - Several links to a page on a classmate's blog where I left a significant comment that was part of a fruitful discussion. Below are all the comments that I left on my peers blog entries and agenda items.

WM Turkle - I commented on Stormy Knight's blog entry for this reading.

Kirschenbaum (Preface, Ch 1, Ch 2) - I commented on Kayla Sawyer, Rachel Prichard and Jeremy Barrick's blog entries for this reading.

Kirschenbaum (Ch 3) - I commented on Stormy Knight, Kayla Sawyer and Daniella Choynowski's blog entries for this reading.

Kirschenbaum (Finish) - I commented on David Cristello, Kayla Sawyer and Rachel Prichard's blog entries for this reading.

Doctorow (1-81) - I commented on Kayla Sawyer and Chris Ulicne's blog entries for this reading.

Doctorow (82-206) - I commented on Rachel Prichard, Jeremy Barrick and Daniella Choynowski's blog entries for this reading.

Assignment Link

April 8, 2008

Aarseth (Ch 5; 8-9) Agenda Item...

Agenda Item: "The Internet seems to have been around longer than one might think: it is usually traced back to 1969, when the first nodes of ARPANET were made operable," (Aarseth 97).

The only way that I had any idea the Internet had been around so long was because in my class Internet Communication last semester we had to do an internet timeline. ARPANET was developed by DARPA of the United States Department of Defense, was the world's first operational packet switching network, and the predecessor of the global Internet. I used to think the Internet really came about when I started using it in the early 90s. Funny how we identify our own use of technology with its popularization.

Assignment Link

April 27, 2008

EL 200: Lab Report 4...

Rodriguez Salutes Setonian…
By Leslie A. Rodriguez (403 words)

The final issue this semester of Seton Hill University’s (SHU) student newspaper the Setonian went on stands Thursday April 24, 2008. With the spring semester rapidly reaching its end the staff of the paper worked hard to make the issue completely polished. This particular edition of the Setonian was twelve pages long and also marked the final production cycle for Leslie Rodriguez, a senior and long time staffer.

Rodriguez began her career at the Setonian as a copy-editor and staff writer in 2005 during her sophomore year at SHU. She went on to become the Setonian’s sports editor for two years following the graduation of Denishia Salter.

“My fondest memory of Leslie as a member of the Setonian was probably working with her on sports articles when she was sports editor. She was stuck dealing with some serious difficulties, but she never lost her cool and she was always as understanding and respectful as possible towards me and the other writers. I appreciated her efforts, and I still do. She's always been one of the major sources of laughter and good times on the staff,” said senior columnist Chris Ulicne.

In the fall of 2007 Rodriguez stepped down from the position of sports editor and became a mentor for new staff members during a difficult transitional time for the staff.

“I felt like I had put forth as much as an effort as possible to recruit new writers and it just wasn’t happening. It was better that I left in the beginning of the semester rather then continue doing the job when I no longer had the energy,” said Rodriguez.

Though Rodriguez no longer acted in an editorial position during the 2007-2008 school year she still remained an active member of the Setonian staff. Her efforts to further the development of the Setonian during this particular production cycle involved copy editing, placing articles in the layout, advising staff members about article titles and helping to obtain pictures for Kayla Sawyer’s article.

“Leslie was present frequently throughout the production cycle, which I know was difficult since we all had a lot of work to do before finals. She managed to give some much needed help to Stormy and Lorin with the layout,” said Daniella Choynowski, a sophomore staff writer.

Upon graduating Rodriguez plans on relocating to either Florida or Texas. She would like to pursue a career in either internet communications or website design and management.

Assignment Link

April 28, 2008

EL 200: Link Journalism...

If we are going to go with the definition that link journalism is “linking to other reporting on the web to enhance, complement, source, or add more context to a journalist’s original reporting” then blogging falls into this category of reporting for sure. I suppose I am a link journalist in a sense. A richly linked blog entry is no doubt an example of link journalism. The whole reason in which bloggers put links on their blogs is to help the readers to better understand the information in the entries. Important exposition can be gained about a topic if it is linked to appropriately and effectively. The same concept applies to articles written for online news sources that implement the use of hyperlinks.

The point behind link journalism is that it allows an author to link to other legitimate news sources and organizations while at the same time providing accurate reporting within their own article. I totally agreed with that the reason that online news files are often only available if you pay to view them is because good reporters will require this research and be willing to pay for it. The people that need these articles will be willing to pay for them. Overall I believe that link journalism makes archived articles much more accessible compared to the old fashioned methods of using physical newspaper archives and micro film. Karp, the author of the article states that links will be the new method of preserving the news.

The idea that link journalism will send people away from the original news site or article is not something I would have great concern about. If the webpage was designed to open the links in a new or blank window then the original page would continue to remain visible. That is one of the first things I learned at E-Magnify during my internship(s). We never linked to an external site or page by having the link open in the same window. That is just bad design. Though I suppose sending people to other websites for information is not that bad because it shows the validity of your work and compares it with other people that support your claims at the same time. Link journalism is especially useful in situations where the public wants to check a fact which is evident through the Karp’s mention of the John McCain ethical scandal.

As far as the Setonian is concerned I don’t think that I have had any first hand experience with the practice of link journalism specifically because our paper is traditionally identified as a print publication. Although we do have the Setonian online it has not readily utilized the practice of link journalism in order to enhance the usability of the website. I do think it would be a good idea in the future to be able to place links within the articles that we post online, but this would require that we designate a staff member that has the sole job of linking. It would be nice to link to articles within the Setonian website that had been previously published. We could also link to specific external web pages.

Assignment Link

EL 200: Half-Page Recommendations...

Journalism students are required to take media lab fours times and for that reason it is important to switch up the material that is covered in the class each semester. The elections will be a great topic for the fall semester section of the class. Each student can pick a candidate and write about them. It would be interesting to have the students have a pseudo question and answer session with fictional politicians.

I really enjoyed when we did the news writing lab with crime reporting and think it would be neat to do with political reporting as well. It would also be a good idea if the class touched upon the difference of being a political columnist and a journalist that reports politics. I really think it would be great to devote a semester to working with the online edition of the Setonian. I also think it would be a good idea to do a little workshop/tutorial regarding photography.

Assignment Link

EL 200: Blog Portfolio 4...

1) Lab Report - A 400-word news feature on my contributions to The Setonian. Including quotes from at least three sources.

2) Link Journalism - A response to this blog entry that coins the term "link journalism," related it to my own experiences with The Setonian.

3) Half-Page Recommendations - This fall, in addition to the usual Setonian practicum, the subject of EL200 will be coverage of the presidential election. What other topics for EL200 would interest me?

Assignment Link

EL 200: Community Article Sidebar (200 words)

Summer Training Safety Tips
By Leslie A. Rodriguez (209 words)

One of the most important things to remember about training for any type of sport in the summer weather is safety. Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on the heart and lungs, which means the human body is often working harder then normal to keep cool. Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjusts to the heat. These natural cooling systems may fail if you are exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long.

Here is a list of tips to help prevent dehydration, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses this summer:

1. Exercise in the morning or evening, when the temperatures are lower.
2. Wear as little clothing as you can, but make sure it is not too tight and does not chafe.
3. Deflect sun with white or light colors and a hat.
4. Before, during, and after exercise, avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.
5. If you are exercising less than two hours, drink water before and during the activity; 6 to 8 fluid ounces of water every 15 minutes.
6. If you are exercising for more than two hours drink 12 to 20 fluid ounces of water 15 to 30 minutes before exercising.

List courtesy of Readers Digest (http://www.rd.com)

Assignment Link

EL 200: Project Research - New Media Elements...

Local Universities - I have visited the online newspapers for the following universities in order to research the ways in which these institutions implemented new media elements on their websites. One thing that I noticed was that all the schools that used the new media elements to the fullest capactiy had considerably larger student populations then Seton Hill University.

Student Population: 1615 undergraduate students (according to Petersons.com)

1. Duquesne - The Duquesne Duke. The school has a very nicely organized online component to their student newspaper. The publication comes out on a weekly basis. Upon visiting the website for the online newspaper I noticed the last update was on April 24, 2008. On the homepage for the newspaper there is sidebar navigation that has a section for AP Video feed. The Duquesne Duke also offers the option of downloading podcasts of their weekly sports program that covers many aspects of sports.

There is also a section of the site specifically devoted to photos that uses a Macromedia Flash Slideshow. Photo essays are featured on this page as well. Comments are also enabled on the articles and pictures in order to get student feedback. It appears evident that the online edition of the newspaper is frequently visited. Polls are also part of the page. There is also a way in which you can view the articles by order of most recently commented, most popular and most emailed.

Student Population: 5837 undergraduate students (according to Petersons.com)

2. The University of Pittsburgh - The Pitt News. There is also a way in which you can view the articles by order of most recently commented, most popular and most emailed. RSS Feed. Register for e-mail updates. Send a letter to the editor (all links at the bottom of the website). It is a very basic website, but it still includes high quality color photos. Comments are also enabled on the articles and pictures in order to get student feedback.

Student Population: 17208 (according to Petersons.com)

3. West Virginia University - The Daily Anthenaeum. One thing that I really liked about this online newspaper’s website was that it included a section for comics. It doesn’t really relate to new media, but it does add a certain visual element to the website that is lacking on the Setonian site. Color photos. RSS Feed.

Student Population: 21145 undergraduate students (according to Petersons.com)

4. California University of Pennsylvania - Cal Times Online. CUTV/AP Video options on the right sidebar navigation. RSS Feed. Color photos. Simple in design, but effective.

Student Population: 6299 undergraduate students (according to Petersons.com)

Assignment Link

About April 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Roamer's Zone in April 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.