November 30, 2004

My New Goal

I have a lot of goals in my life. Some are normal and probably will happen sometime in my life. Others are completely out there but are nice to think about. Well, now I've added a new goal. I want to be one of the students on the Seton Hill University website or any of their literature. Why not? Those people were/are students, right? So I want to be one. I think I have the well-rounded typical student quality they are looking for, don't you? Ha.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 10:13 PM | Comments (5)

The Best of the Best: Part Deux

I bet you didn't think it could get any better, right? Oh, you were so wrong. Here is a list of some of my best blog entries. Enjoy.

Girls and Guys Blogging Together- Who blogs more- guys or girls? Find out here.

Gender Helps in Interactive Fiction- Why Interactive Fiction needs to provide genders.

Wiki News- The latest news from everyone's favorite wiki.

Creating Someone New- A thoughtful discussion on the infamous Kaycee Nicole.

Weblogs as Literature- Weblogs are entering the world of literature.

Arguments and the Blog- Blogging is changing the way we argue. "No, it isn't." Yes it is. "No it isn't." Yes it is...

Classroom Blogging- Blogging has so many uses. Personal, news, and now, classroom.

Visual Blogging- Blogging doesn't always have to use words. Pictures add something too.

Liking Wikis- I admit it, I like wikis.

Blogging as a Genre? What Next?- Can blogging really be classified as a genre? Sure it can.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 8:12 PM | Comments (0)

Girls and Guys Blogging Together

Who blogs the most? Men? Women? Teenagers of either sex? After reading Vicki's entry, I know who likes to blog the most. And the results were somewhat surprising.

According to the article Women and Children Last: The Discursive Nature of Weblogs men apparently blog much more than women about personal subject. I'm not so sure about this one. I'm not sure many men blog about their personal feelings for fear of one of their coworkers stumbling across it at work. While I know some do, and that's great, I think women are more prone to personal blogging. Women want to get everything out and let everyone know about it. I guess we are just more open than men.

The article also mentioned female teenage bloggers. It makes sense that teenagers would gravitate toward blogging. What an outlet to express feelings! Teenage girls love to share their personal trials (however petty they might be) with the world so they can receive feedback. I know if I had blogged as a teenager, I would have loved to come home and see the "loving" comments about my latest rant.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 7:51 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2004

Gender Helps in Interactive Fiction

When playing an Interactive Fiction game (which I don't do very often...) I make an assumption as to my character's gender. I want, or rather need, to know whether my character is male or female. Yet after reading a blog entry by Chris, does it really matter either way?

As Chris stated, many characters in IF games are usually male, implying that most players are men. Which is probably true. Writers create characters for their audience and the audience happens to be men. Also, many IF authors are men who feel more comfortable writing about something they know about (because they sure don't know anything about women...ha), which makes sense. Although I would like to see more female characters in IF, I understand that males are the prominent gender.

In the IF games I have tried, rarely is the gender specified. A few, on occasion, have been but for the most part gender is merely implied. Yet I can usually tell what gender the character is through the way he or she acts. Some mannerisms are more common to men than women, so it gives it away. Also, the thoughts that the character has can also determine the gender. Example? In a game, if the character pulls out a gun and yells "AARRGH", I assume it is a man.

While genders are usually not stated in IF games, it would be helpful if they were. I, personally, like to know if I am playing a male or female. Really, it doesn't matter either way, I just like to know. I like to create the picture of the game in my mind, including what "I" look like. Knowing I am male or female probably won't cause me not to play a game, unless I am looking to play a certain gender.

For me, I guess gender in IF is a big deal. It doesn't matter which one I play, as long as the game is fun. But please, just tell me!

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 9:47 PM | Comments (0)

Wiki News

Ok, I've blogged about wikis before. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, offers an alternate way to share and receive information. It is a new, yet ingenious, idea really.

Now users have a new way to contribute information. According to the article Wikipedia Creators Move Into News by Joanna Glasner, Wikipedia will now include news. Actual, hopefully factual, news. By, for, and edited for users.

The news stories that WikiNews "will present original material rather than just compiling and summarizing information found elsewhere, according to the news site's organizers" as per Glasner.

WikiNews also hopes that it can remain a neutral tone, although this feat might be somewhat difficult. It is extremely hard to write anything without putting some slant on it, even a subtle one (guess what mine is?). Writing a news story, where people are bound to have multiple opinions, can be hard to do without a bias.

Also, the editing of the articles could also become a problem. If someone writes something that another user disagrees with, he or she can change it to their opinion. An opinion war could ensue, making the news site more trouble than its worth.

Can these users even write? Writing and editing encyclopedia entries is definitely different than journalism. How well will the users research the topic? Can their information be trusted? Maybe, if they worked on it. But if another user posts something completely not researched, the information is worthless. Yet how would we know?

Wikipedia, you are great just the way you are, without the news. If I want to learn about what's happening, I'll go to CNN, ok?

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 9:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2004

Creating Someone New

The beauty of the Internet is that people can completely transform themselves and become anyone they want. I, for instance, could lie and say I am a 24 year old Russian heiress. Obviously, I'm not, but with the necessary knowledge, I could make it seem like I am the heir to some Russian fortune.

At some time, I think we've all thought (and if you haven't, you should) about lying and becoming someone else online. Just for a few hours, not forever. Make that alter-ego come alive through Internet's obscurity. And for those more adventurous types among us, they have done just that- transformed themselves into a new person with a new life to go with it. As I was reading Moira's blog and also Evan's I learned more about the infamous Kaycee Nicole.

Kaycee Nicole is definitely something to think about. Can someone really be that convincing? Is it that easy? And would people actually believe it? Apparently, the answer is a resounding "Yes" to all.

Debbie, the author of the Kaycee Nicole blog, obviously did her homework. It's hard work being a dying leukemia patient. What made the blog so amazingly convincing is that it was written so well with elaborate detail. Had Debbie not researched the disease and really become immersed in the subject, Kaycee Nicole might not have gained such fame. While transforming into someone new is easy online, it takes some work too if you want people to believe it.

Why did everyone take to this poor girl that they did not even know? Probably, because we all like a good story. The blog was written so well and so convincingly that it drew people into the story. It was something different and compelling. And for the most part, humans love the sad, true stories of 'real' people. This is why people become so attached to Kaycee Nicole and felt a bond with her. She was just an average girl telling her harrowing story. They could relate. And when she passed, it was like losing a friend.

Although I probably won't be making my own faux blog any time soon, I know that it can be done- and taken way too far.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 8:46 PM | Comments (9)

November 24, 2004

Did You Ever...

Did you ever wonder why, when a friend is picking you up, she moves all the stuff off of the passenger seat and looks at you like she is really surprised you are sitting there? Um, obviously I am sitting there- you knew this! (I do it too though...)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 12:01 AM | Comments (4)

November 19, 2004

Weblogs as Literature

All throughout my Writing for the Internet class, we have been talking about blogs as a new form of literature. Seems like we weren't the only ones. Steve Himmer wrote The Labyrinth Unbound: Weblogs as Literature about how the increasingly popular weblog is changing literature today.

Weblogs are highly unique. They are part journal, part news source, part serious, and part humorous. They can be anything the creator decides, from something completely funny and random to a serious topic. Weblogs provide a freedom that other forms of literature do not. The writer can encompass as many topics and feelings as she wants. Unlike a novel, there isn't one set story, one plot, or one group of characters. A blog entry can be about fish one day and AIDS the next.

Some, who believe that weblogs are not a new form of literature, have questioned the believability of blogs. Are the sources accurate? Did that actually happen? Are the figures correct? Yet, that doesn't always matter. The weblog tells a good story, something exciting and different that people enjoy reading. Whether the blogger actually went to Botswana and lived in a tribal hut isn't as important as the story she is telling. As long as she presents her blog in an interesting manner, the readers are happy.

Another aspect of the weblog is the fact that it is never actually finished. As Himmer states, "there is always the possibility of an additional post to come." Unless the author actually tells everyone "This is the end", readers never know when they will get another installment of their favorite story. The blog is always being added to, and the story is being increased and expanded upon. Unlike novels, which has a definitive ending, blogs can be added and changed. In other forms of literature, this is impossible.

Weblogs are emerging as a new form of literature. They are unlike any other printed text out there. Weblogs give both authors and readers a freedom that they previously did not have with other literature.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2004

Did You Ever...

Did you ever feel really creeped out when you are all alone in a room (namely, the computer lab)? I do. Ha.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 4:52 PM | Comments (6)

November 12, 2004

Arguments and the Blog

Blogs are places of discussion, interaction, and at times, arguments. However, as Trish Roberts-Miller feels in Parody Blogging and the Call of the Real, blog discussions have become too one sided. Instead of being places of debate with varying points of view, blogs are instead hosting narrow points of view.

The beginning of the article addresses arguments, which are, according to Roberts-Miller, “…distinguished from the other modes of discourse because it is supposed to consist of assertions or propositions, which may or may not be logically linked to one another”. Basically, when arguing, there should be different positions involved to give a greater view on the topic. Without varied points of view, it is not an argument but a simple conversation.

Blogs provide the desired places for intelligent arguments and discussions to occur. Yet why argue? Arguments can give readers and other bloggers a new perspective on several topics. They allow bloggers to express their thoughts and have others respond to them. By arguments though, I do not mean shouting fests with childish name-calling. Arguments on blogs should be kept civil and intelligent, filled more with insight than insults.

Roberts-Miller has found that blogs are not living up to her expectations.
“I had thought that the proliferation of blogs would have the effects many people have claimed for them- a more open and public sphere of participatory argumentation rather than simply expression.”
Yet blogs instead blogs are more one-sided areas to express feelings and true arguments rarely take place. As pointed out, blogs only work as places to host productive arguments if a diverse group of people reads them. “Blogs, as much as newsgroups and mailing lists, tend to attract people with similar philosophies.” Most people visit a political blog of a certain party to read and agree with what has been written, not to argue against it (although, during the election, this may not have been the case. But you understand my example.) Blogs bring together people with the same interests the same way clubs and organizations do. The smaller amount of people who oppose the topic, the smaller number of views contributing to an argument.

Roberts- Miller obviously finds this ironic that blogs are not being used for their potential purpose. So she created a parody blog that mimics the vain, trivial topics blogs are sometimes used for. However, throughout her experiment, she found that blogs are not as insignificant for arguments as she once thought. An area where people are united by a common topic can be enjoyable and become an outlet for anyone to express their thoughts and opinions. Not all blogging has to focus on being an outlet for arguments.

In my limited experience, I have also found that blogging acts as a community of people that share common interests. Similar to what Charles Lowe and Terra Williams wrote in Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom, blogging brings people, students, together through the topic, such as a class. Classroom blogging is more about interaction than arguing though. Students learn about each other and share stories and ideas. I have a connection to my Writing for the Internet class through my blog that I may not have without it. The blog allows me to read the feelings and works of my classmates, and they can do the same on mine. We all comment and socialize through the blog. It is the perfect area for interaction, and, probably, for argument. Like Roberts- Miller found in her experiment, the unity of the blog group is important and the thoughts and opinions expressed in it are not so trivial.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 7:15 PM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2004

Classroom Blogging

Blogging is good. So is school. This we know. And when you put them together, they create something even better. This is the main point in Terra Williams and Charles Lowe's article, Moving to the Public: Weblogs in the Writing Classroom.

The article makes the argument that blogging can be an effective classroom tool. I agree. Not only does blogging provide an outlet for student creativity and expression, but it just makes more sense. In my Writing for the Internet class (which we all know and love), Dr. Jerz uses a class weblog to do basically everything. What makes a class weblog so useful is that students can access important information easily. Simply by clicking on the different levels of the blog, I can see the syllabus, my assignments, and important due dates. Without the blog, I would be completely lost.

Another element that makes class weblogs so useful is that student interaction. As stated in the article, blogging is a good way for students to share and learn more about each other. I know all of my Writing for the Internet classmates in person and in their blog. Blogging allows students to see another side of their classmates- a side they may not be comfortable sharing in class, but can write about freely on the Internet. Shy students may express opinions and ideas through a blog than in person.

Class blogs also allow students to help each other and receive help from the teacher. On the class blog I use, students post questions to assignments they do not understand. Dr. Jerz, and often other students, respond to the post and help the confused person. Without a blog, many questions might go unasked or answered.

The article also mentioned that students become more comfortable with blogging and sharing their work online for others to see. At first, I was a little nervous about blogging. I wasn't used to putting my class work out there for everyone to see and comment on. It was just between me and my teacher. Yet, after blogging, I like the idea of posting my work on the Internet. I enjoy seeing other's comments and know that they are just helping me do better- not criticizing me.

Weblogs are perfect for the classroom. They benefit both teachers and students, which makes the lives of each much easier. I wish I had blogs for more of my classes.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 1:43 PM | Comments (3)

November 5, 2004

Visual Blogging

Blogs aren't always full of text and links. As seen in Meredith Badger's "Visual Blogs", images are also used. Some visual blogs do more to reveal the identity of the blogger while others use images to tell their story.

Some bloggers use personal pictures of themselves on the front page to give the reader a more personal connection. However, when the blogger posts a picture of herself, she is taking away some of her "blogging mystique". Sometimes it is better to not know how the person looks who is writing the blog. Readers do not always want to share such a personal connection with the blogger- they just want to read what she has written. So much of today's society is based on looks and people make (somewhat) irrational judgments from one's appearance. A reader might enjoy reading a blog of a wonderful writer, but due to past discriminations, may stop after he sees that the writer is a minority. (These are not my feelings. I would never stop reading a blog based on what the blogger looks like. Please do not flood me with flames. I am just writing hypothetically. I know people out there are prejudice and might stop reading another’s blog based on that.)

Badger stated, "Often, however, the images contained within blogs do not show the blogger at all but we can still construct an impression of who the blogger is based on the subject matter they choose. Viewed over time, photographs in weblogs create a composite image of the blogger, a portrait that builds incrementally." True, what pictures a blogger posts does reveal parts of his or her personality. If I had the knowledge, I would probably decorate my blog with all sorts of pictures. And by viewing them, the reader would get a getter sense of who I am and what I like. I may not come right out and say “I like this!”, but readers would know that I posted the photos for a reason- because I enjoy them.

Badger’s article included several links to other blogs that featured visuals. Again, these pictures reveal more about a blogger than one may think. The most interesting visual blog I found was American Elf. Instead of merely using text to describe his life with the occasional picture, the author uses a combination of the two to create a comic. For me, this is where visuals work well. It is much more interesting (to me at least) to read this humorous comic of the author’s day than to read his descriptions. From this comic, I am learning more about the author too. I am drawing conclusions from his comics that he is creative, funny, and somewhat sarcastic. It allows me to know more about the author than if he would have just used text.

So are visuals in blogs helpful or not? Depends on how much the blogger wants to reveal. If she wants to world to know what she looks like in hopes that others will identify more with her, than visuals are fine. If not, than they should not be used this way. Like it or not, what pictures a blogger puts up tell a lot about who they are. Want to remain in the “blogging” mystique- don’t use photos.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 11:43 AM | Comments (5)

November 4, 2004

Liking Wikis

I have discovered Wikipedia. What a concept! Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that allows users to make and change entries on the site. It is all done on an honor system- meaning, don't mess it up. I have even tried my hand at using Wikipedia to create an entry. It was very easy and I know that if I have any incorrect information, someone will hopefully fix it.

Creating and editing wiki entries is different than other writings since people can make changes to what is written. When I write a paper, only I can physically make changes to it. Others may give suggestions, but I can choose to use the suggestions or not. However, in a wiki, anyone can make changes to what I've written without my consent. my writing enters a community where people can make changes and several authors can contribute to the final product. Although this is different than more traditional writing, it can be helpful. Someone with a larger knowledge of a subject can expand on my entry and make it more in depth than before. In conclusion, I'm pro wiki.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 8:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2004

Wednesday, November 3

*sigh*

(For those of you who did not understand this blog, think about what yesterday was. Geez, do I have to explain everything to you people?)

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

November 1, 2004

Decision Time

I don't want to get into it with anybody over politics. It wears me out. Yet for all you undecided people out there, I have one thing to say- Kerry's daughter has the same name as I do. Huh? There you go. Haha.

Posted by VanessaKolberg at 11:06 PM | Comments (1)