September 2008 Archives

Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage!

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I cheated. But more details on that later...

"But this stuff may be even more frustrating for readers. What I'm getting at is that The Heist may be essentially unreadable. But that's your call."
-The Heist by Walter Sorrells

Thank you Mr. Sorrells! Thank you for acknowledging that you know your online hypertext novel may be found unreadable! I'm infinitely happy that the author understood and blatantly admitted in his introduction that this is, indeed, a confusing piece of writing.

I have many different ideas concerning this hypertext novel. So come along. Join us, Fantastic Voyagers. We're going on an adventure. A voyage, if you will. An emotional one. And it's going to be one heck of a ride.

Our first stop is at the very familiar emotion of Excitement. I'm sure you all can recognize this stop. I managed to begin here because the first viewing of Walter Sorrells page was vaguely reminiscent of the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I was quite addicted to. (Of course I didn't let anyone know of this addiction. I just fed off of my brother, who also had a love for the books. He checked them out of the library, and they always could, conveniently, be found in my room.) Imagine my joy at being "forced" to read a Choose Your Own Adventure book for homework!

Now imagine my joy being slowly whittled away. We find our next stop of the voyage at Confusion. A few pages of clicking in, I found myself entirely lost and confused. Where was all this heading? Where am I?

I soon found where I was at our next stop. Frustration. At this point, my initial joy has been completely smashed and thrown aside. I don't know who anyone is, why they're doing what they're doing, or how to figure it out. I'm beyond confused now. I've been at this story for an hour, and I don't feel any further along than when I started. I'm frustrated and I want to give up.

Please look out your left window and you will see our next point of interest, Realization. This is where my cheating comes in. There came a point in my story sifting that I realized the URLs for the links I was clicking on were not very different. In fact, the only difference was a number, the page number. So if I go back up to the address bar and change the number, it will take me to that page. So if I change the numbers in the URL in order and read the story that way...

Straight ahead you will surely recognize our next stop... Triumph! I found that by using my new method of reading the story, I was able to recognize characters and to understand the plot. I had completely defeated the purpose of the hypertext novel. I don't feel bad about it though because this way I didn't bash my computer screen with a golf ball.

Alright folks. We're nearing the end of our journey now. This is our last stop, Contemplation. After an hour and a half of sorting through the story (I didn't completely finish it), I feel like I learned a lot. The story itself was interesting. I didn't finish it now but I think I might like to. While the story was entertaining to read, the links were not fun to follow. Some led to dead ends. Others, to a page I had visited many times before. Thanks for the effort Mr. Sorrells, but I think I'll leave hypertext novels for other people to enjoy. Give me a paperback, a hardback if you're feeling generous, and I'll be more than satisfied.

I hope you enjoyed your ride with us and I hope you'll chose Fantastic Voyagers again for a fantastic voyage!

Or maybe you'd just like to get back to those who didn't force you on a voyage, as it were. So go on back to the others.

Fantastic Voyage is taken from a song by Lakeside. It's worth checking out... I think.

And the class ran a whole gamut of viewpoints.

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Chapter 8 ... Chapter 8 ... Chapter ... eight...
I have nothing witty to say about Chapter 8, but I did find Chapter 8 interesting though because it brought up many valid points and techniques concerning persuasion.

Without even considering the uses of semantics, the idea itself is very interesting. Words can be taken in many different ways. Two words that have the same general definition may carry completely different implied meanings. A writer can use semantics to successfully translate his or her feelings to the reader.

"Register involves choosing words that reflect your understanding of the social situation and how the people involved see one another."
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

I use register all the time, but I didn't know it had a name! The idea of register is very useful because different groups of people require different types of words. Formal situations require more formal wording, etc. etc. I would think that you know all this, but I found it interesting that this use of words has a name.

There was a lot in this chapter about propaganda. I think that propaganda deserved such a big section because of its heavy use in the media, and in writing, to persuade audiences. It was interesting to learn about the major types of propaganda and the propaganda devices.

What I found most interesting about Chapter 8 was my classmates' responses to the chapter. Before I blogged this entry, I shuffled through some of the blogs already posted. Most of the reactions were strong. What I found most interesting is that almost everyone took a different angle when talking about the blog.
  • Andy blogged about his outrage at the audacity of the author to state what holds "legitimate appeal" among readers.
  • Chelsea found the chapter "beautiful" and very informative.
  • Maddie focused on the ethical points that the chapter brought up.
  • Aja found the section on propaganda to be most interesting and helpful to her.
  • Jed picked up on a commented his disagreed with about using fear to manipulate.
I enjoyed reading everyone's reactions to this particular chapter. There seemed to be more diverse viewpoints than I've ever recognized in a blogging assignment before.

Interested? Go see what the rest of the class had to say about Chapter 8!


Blogging is writing too!

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Still, blogs tend to follow some basic conventions and fall into a few basic genres that often overlap. Writing in these new genres still relies on orientation, information, and action. But much depends on the genre you've chose to write in.
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

Ahhh. Blogs. This is finally a topic that I feel I have a reason for reading about. Considering I'm all wrapped up in blogging now, introducing the types of blogs was something that grabbed my attention... and held it!

What exactly struck me about Kilian's lecture, as it were, on blogs? Well, since the question has been asked, I must answer. It was the fact that Kilian treated blogging as a specific type of writing with its own genres. Blogging has become prominent enough to demand it's own genres. The major types Kilian outlined are:
  • Personal
  • Job
  • Specialist
  • News
  • Advocacy
Kilian also acknowledged the fact that the blog genres can and do overlap. What I'm curious about is where this blog, my blog, Seton Hill's blog, falls. What is an academic blog considered? None of the above? All of the above? Or does it depend on the subject matter?

I think that I can classify blogs under another blog genre. The Experimental Blog. This is the blog of the blogger that has not settled around a major type yet. I feel that this might describe our academic blogs best. While we have set issues and articles we must blog about, our responses to the articles can fall under any of the above genres. In addition to the required blogging, we are free to write about any other topics we choose. Our academic blogs become a form of experimenting, finding our writing style and not just for blogging.

So thank you Kilian for giving credit to blogging as such an expansive form of writing that it has formed it's own genres.

Whoa. How many times can you forms of the word "blog" in a piece of writing? A lot...

Other's views on Kilian's take on blogging? Go see.


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I'm not a corporate writer. Maybe that's why I truly had no idea what Kilian was talking about in this chapter. Everything I read that I actually grasped I know I've read before. Understand the purpose of your website. Know who you're writing for. Provide the information that you are expected to.

Everything feels redundant. I may just need to step back and reread this chapter. It didn't seem to work for me the first time. Maybe a second reading is just what I need? I hope it will help.

To people that understood what Kilian was talking about.

And remember, your mommy taught you to share.

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But I suggest that when you can use a term that won't offend your readers, you should choose it.
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

I feel like I'm in kindergarten. Share, play fair, don't hit people, don't take things that don't belong to you -All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Goodness. The "Biased terms" section of the book was common sense to me ... again. When posting anything on the internet, it is a splendid and necessary idea to be careful not to offend anyone. As an author posting to millions of other people, you never know who will access your writing.

I was taught many of the tips in this chapter not because I had writing for the internet in mind but because I'm a human being that went through twelve years of schooling. I know not to trust spell checkers entirely, how to capitalize, to read my writing out loud as a proofreading technique. Thanks for your input, Kilian, but my mom and my third grade teacher got to me first.

Enough frustration with Kilian for one blog. Go see what others had to say.

Disce pati.

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Disce pati: Learn to endure.
Whoever coined this Latin phrase surely had Kilian's book in mind.

Speaking of Latin, hurrah for the passive voice! This is something I am very familiar with because of my Latin training. I do thoroughly enjoy the passive voice... when I'm translating Latin. I don't get the point that the author is making. He seems to contradict himself when he says to not use the active too much, but don't use the passive too much either. I don't know what point exactly he was trying to get across.

Avoid cliches like the plague.
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

Ohh haha Mr. Kilian! Throwing in some wit, I see! You used a cliche when telling readers to avoid cliches! I personally enjoy a good cliche here and there, but I do see the author's point. An article can become stronger when not weighed down with overused phrases.

Whether you're in New Zealand or New York, chances are you make the same errors in Standard English. This section discusses some of the most common errors.
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

This was surely my favorite part of the chapter. While I am an offender of many a rule, I'm always rooting for the Good Grammar Team. I thought it was an excellent idea on Kilian's part to include these tips in the book.

I'll let Mr. Kilian provide the wit today and just send you back with a simple link.
Kilian, Ch 4 Assignment Page.
Simple enough?
Almost every family and every group has some short-hand communication -- a running gag, a child's baby-talk name preserved as a nickname, a word used in a special way.
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

I have an announcement to make. Drum roll please [insert dramatic drum roll here]... I'm getting quite bored with Kilian. This chapter was on organization of a website. It seemed that all the points he is making now are common sense, things I have heard before. This is coming from a girl that has seemingly no organizational skills at all.

The point he made that I liked though was the one included in the quote: everyone has some sort of short-hand communication. You can take advantage of that in your website. Not every little thing needs explained to the fullest. Most people understand the common things you might feel the urge to explain. But sometimes you will have to explain those things you might believe to be common. So throw a glossary in! Or hypertext that will link to an explanation.

Well. My excitement with Kilian has worn off. To another chapter. Hopefully as exciting as the first two...

Eastwood. Clint Eastwood. In Dirty Harry. That's where the title is from.

Back, back, back, back....

Slowly but surely ... learning about web writing.

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Well 'ello there, love. As humans, we often question our existence with the simple question "Why am I here?". Today, we will explore that question. But the answer will not be about life. The answer will not even pertain to you. In fact, the answer is entirely about me. The question more specifically is "Why is Alex Hull on this blogging site?" I can simply answer your question in two phrases: EL236: Writing for the Internet and Dr. Jerz. Dr. Dennis Jerz teaches a course at Seton Hill University about writing on the internet and how we can accomplish this task in an efficient and intriguing way.

Now that we have determined why I'm here, we can continue on to the topic of what I have done while I've been here. All of these blog entries serve to prove that I am learning and have been doing stuff in this class. It's not all just fun and games! There really is some work involved!

This category includes blog entries in which I have included quotes from the reading, identified the source, and linked back to the course web page devoted to the reading. That is what Dr. Jerz defined coverage as, and so that is what I shall prove!
Posting on time. Blogging takes time but I have managed to get most of my entries in on time. Round of applause!
Interacting with other students in the class. Mainly, if other students are commenting my blogs. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts about blogging. These were actually a few of my first blogs and I was more than excited to recieve my first comments.
Blogs in which I have written about the subject in depth.
  • Death to netiquette abusers! ...nah. -- I really enjoyed writing this blog. I put a lot of extra time into my thoughts and finding links.
  • Everybody loves you now! -- Maybe it's because the title is from a Billy Joel song, but I found myself writing a lot about the smiley and seeing Stephenson change in his thinkings.
Once I found the joy of commenting on others blogs, I also found a new addiction. It's fun and I like giving feedback.
Extra, extra, read all about it!
These are other blogs I feel deserve credit in this portfolio, even if they didn't fit in a category. There are also links to the pages I worked on for this class, which I put extra time into.

And now you may proceed back to the place we all know and love.

Chunky Monkey

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"On one level, correctness means basics such as proper spelling, good grammar, and accurate names and addresses. This kind of correctness is also part of clarity because it helps readers understand your message more easily."
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

Ahh. Something that appeals to the English major in me. Proper spelling and good grammar. (And Phish Food ice cream, but I've just got ice cream on the brain.) I admit to using fragmented sentences. The first three "sentences" in this paragraph aren't even sentences at all. They are fragments. But that's all in the name of having, and maybe even abusing, a writer's license. But proper spelling is what really gets me. I have a hard time focusing on a website if many words are misspelled. The credibility of the site is completely lost to me.

Another point I enjoyed was that of chunking and scrolling. (Hence, the title Chunky Monkey.) Depending on the purpose of one's website, one must decide whether a website designed with the technique of chunk or scroll would work better. It's a technique commonly used, but I never noticed it before.

Chapter 2 was quite satisfying. Kilian has not disappointed me yet!

Ben and Jerry's?!?!?! ... I wish.

Everybody needs a home.

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"That impatience is still with us. Bu now we're impatient to get right to the material we came looking for, and we're likely to hit the Back button if the page doesn't come up right that instant."
-Writing for the Web 3.0, Kilian

Well, now. We'll get to my book quote in just a little while. Let me start by introducing you to the pop star known as Iggy Pop. He was famous for his band, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. He played Uncle Belvedere in one of my favorite movies, Cry-Baby. He is also the man behind my title.

Why, you ask, have I started with an introduction to my title? My title finds its focus on home. The home where I have resided with my family for many years is on Killian Avenue. AHA! A connection has been made. Killian, Kilian. I have felt a connection to this new book, Writing for the Web 3.0, from the moment I picked it up just because of the author's name, Crawford Kilian. Yes, there is an extra "l" in my street name, but that's besides the point. Considering my connection with the book from the start, I had high expectations.

Once again, I hear a question being posed to me. Were those expectations reached? Yes indeed, they were! I am very involved in the website we are creating for class. I really enjoy it. I want to make it the best that my abilities and time allow. I also want my blogs to become more interesting and engaging as I progress through the year. I believe I have found the key with Kilian! The sentences are easy to understand, and I find myself nodding along in agreement. (Yes, I nod when I read.)

Referring to my quote at the top of the page, I found this point in the book to be most true for myself and my experiences. If my web pages don't load right away, I quickly navigate away in hopes of finding a faster one. Even my father, who has not been using a computer for long, becomes frustrated when a web page does not instantly appear before his eyes on the screen before him. Our society has become even more impatient than we already were because of the instant gratification we expect from the web.

I follow this book easily. I understand the reasoning behind it. Computer-screen text is hard to read! Computers do make us impatient! Kilian makes many very good points, and I'm only technically one chapter in! On to the next chapter ... and this time I'm not dreading it.

Speaking of home...

Death to netiquette abusers! ...nah.

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What are the rules of netiquette? Are they even necessary? Why have them if everyone seems to ignore them completely anyway? Heck, what even is netiquette?

One site defined netiquette as "Accepted, proper behavior on the Internet. The term especially applies to email and newsgroup posts". So netiquette is what is appropriate on the internet. Most everyone follows some sort of code in their life. Netiquette holds that the same should be true for writing in the online community.

So what are the rules of netiquette? Virginia Shea explains the core rules of netiquette in her book Netiquette. The main point that Shea makes is to respect the unknown people out there in the cyberworld. Whether it is their feelings or their bandwidth you are in risk of offending, don't overstep your boundaries when speaking of or towards other people online.

Once you have offended the main rules of netiquette, you can be labeled as a troll. A troll is one who posts messages with the intention of provoking others.

In my own blog, I wrote my response to the article about trolls that we were required to read in class. This article explains what trolling is and certain trolling incidents. The author, Mattathias Schwartz, even went so far as to visit a popular troll, Jason Fortuny. He was intrigued by the way this troll thought and how far he took just this hobby. Fortuny is the mastermind behind the famous Craigslist experiment and has his own blog where many of his postings are controversial and often offensive.

The shock and horror of it! Yes, discovering a troll can be devastating to some. What can the masses do about trolls? Take the first step: a deep breath. Realize that something can be done. Understand that you are not alone in the fight against trolls.

Other solutions have been suggested throughout the internet. Ben on geekmade suggests using design to combat trolls. Use a lighter font color and a bit of wit to prove that you aren't ruffled by the troll's unnecessary comment.

Subversive Puppet Show on directs readers to an article on InformationWeek titled How To Keep Hostile Jerks From Taking Over Your Online Community. The title is to the point. The article is full of suggestions that have been used in the path to deal with trolling. My personal favorite is what was referred to as The Troll Whisperer. Having a message board moderator to take care of trolls seems to work wonders.

But what about other offensive things on the internet? Is there a way we can control the spelling and grammatical errors?

One new way of controlling grammatically offensive comments is the new service that can be downloaded, YouTube Comment Snob. This service hides badly spelled, profane, and incorrectly capitalized comments on YouTube. This aids in the process of finding comments that actually pertain to the video.

Another solution for controlling offensive comments is called disemvoweling. This technique includes removing all the vowels from a comment to make it near undecipherable and can be used for both trolling and other types of offensive comments. On, Will Shetterly comments that disemvoweling is unfair and abuse of copyright. Whether it is or it is not, it is just one of the many techniques employed for the purpose of controlling offensive comments on blogs, message boards, and other types of mass communication on the internet.

Netiquette is necessary. Without it, there would be no sort of code to control any aspect of behavior on the internet. While it will not be followed religiously, it gives something to look at to the people that want to act respectfully on the internet.

Of course, we can't completely eliminate trolls and bad spellers. They have just as much right as everyone else to post their opinion, no matter how offensive or grammatically incorrect it might be. But there are many ways to ignore them. Will that solve anything? Not completely. But maybe someone's rude comment about "thier collectable dumbell" won't keep you up at night any longer.

Everybody loves you now!

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Irony, it seems, is like nitroglycerin: too tricky to be good for much, and so best left in the hands of fanatics or trained professionals.

The Internet is, therefore, still very much a college town and shares much the same ambience as Cambridge, Iowa City or Berkeley: a dysfunctional blend of liquored-up freshmen and polymorphously perverse deconstructionists. The politically correct atmosphere may help to explain the generally frosty stance toward humor exhibited on usenet, where people either use it badly--at the level of toilet stall graffiti--or categorically reject it; usenet is the kind of place where people can seriously (without smileys) discuss the proposition that humor is an intrinsically aggressive, nonconsensual act.

Smiley's People - Stephenson

Whoa. Let's slow down for just a minute here. I never thought that someone could genuinely hate the smiley so much as to write a decently long article bashing it. Stephenson's hate of the smiley is rooted in much more than the annoyance with a symbol of fanciful fun. He truly believes that the smiley is ruining our writing styles because no time is taken in revision anymore. Why revise your writing to say what you really mean when you can throw in a smiley and skip using that extra time?

Stephenson seems to hate not only smileys but college students on the internet who use smileys. He states that the internet has become overpopulated with "a dysfunctional blend of liquored-up freshmen and polymorphously perverse deconstructionists". That's a pretty picture to paint of today's youth, I would say. It seems that Stephenson is holding many grudges and prejudices against the internet and its users.

My favorite part of the article, though, is this: he changed his mind. Not only did he change his mind, but he wrote a post amending his previous thoughts. He felt that he had been wrong and he admitted it to the entire web community. I really liked his point when he said this, "The problem with the Internet is that nothing fades away there. And so a silly little opinion piece like this one lives on forever." This brought up thoughts of my first blog. Anything you say on the internet can, and will, be used against you. And it doesn't disappear.

This is Not the Smiley of Your Parents

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It's interesting to note that Microsoft and AOL now intercept these character strings and turn them into little pictures. Personally, I think this destroys the whimsical element of the original.

Smiley: 25 Years Old and Never Looked Happier!

When Fahlman, the author of the article and creator of the "smiley", suggested the use of symbols to look like a smiley face, he never thought that his idea would catch on. Not only did it catch on, it spread very quickly.

As Fahlman states, the smiley has morphed and changed over the years. No longer is :-) the only option. When typing in certain other programs, your characters get changed into a small smiley picture. I agree with Fahlman in the fact that this change can take away from the original. Your message is no longer straight type, but there is a picture thrown in along the way.

As for myself, I adore the smiley. The smiley is something I've been familiar with since my beginning use of the computer. I can't imagine being able to convey what I'm actually thinking without the aid of those two little symbols. I don't use the more complicated versions, but rather I stick to a simple smiley and frownie. My favorite happen to be =] and =[.

So here's to you Smiley. Here's to the joy you give computer users. Here's to the many confusing situations that you have helped to avoid. Here's to your 26 years of health and growth. And here's to many more...

Are things even really changing?

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After reading Dr. Jerz's blog on his Usenet experience, the first thing that came to my mind was Facebook. Just like Usenet, Facebook has become swamped with more and more students users. As I am a newer student user, I cannot attest to the fact that the site is being ruined by so many people, but I can attest to hearing the same from other people. They claim that Facebook is not the same because of the high amount of people that now use it on a regular basis.

While Facebook is much more gaudy than Usenet seemed to be, the same concept is true. Once a website becomes overpopulated by a younger group trying to fit in, appeal of the site is lost. The same thing happened with MySpace. Once I started receiving friend requests from kids my youngest brother's age, I knew it was time for me to move on from that site.

There will always be groups that change or fall apart because of their appeal to the younger generations. Websites are just the current example. I wonder what it will transfer to in the future.

Not only have I smelled it, I have attained it.

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Done. Done, done, done. I have finished the assignment, finished the web page, and finished cursing Castro out. Once I got into the swing of the book and understood how Castro was explaining her instructions, I did not find it hard it all.

So now I'm done. Done with my copying of her web page. I found it quite simple. I could smell success a bit in the distance, but now I'm there. Simply spectacular.

Ahhh ... the smell of sweet success.

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I've finally got the hang of this. Once I pushed on past the picture editing section (I don't have a picture editor) I was able to wiz right through the rest of this assigned section.

I just may love HTML. Once I get the real hang of this.

Quick question ... we're changing the 'padding' term to 'margin'? That's what I overheard, did, and it seemed to work.

There's no other way to put it ... frustrating.

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Castro is killing me.Maybe not literally, but this is tough. I've found everything very easy up until the picture editing. For some reason, maybe I'm just too tired, but I cannot figure out what to do. Because I'm currently unable to get past the picture stuff, I cannot move onto the other lessons.

Ugh. Maybe I'll figure this out later. Or maybe I'm just stuck with webpages with no pictures.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Quiz Webpage!

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    This exercise was generally pretty simple. The html programming was easy to grasp because I have done a small amount on MySpace before. I did learn how to change Word documents into html files though and I thought that this was very helpful. I used to design simple pages in Word and then copy it over into MySpace. Now I can just design it in Word and easily test it by converting the file. I also found that typing it in Notepad is much simpler because it takes up much less room on your drive.


Troll? And here I thought it was just a plastic toy.

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"After all, I was examining a subculture that is built on deception and delights in playing with the media."

    Nothing on the Internet is safe. It's all accessible, depending on how much time someone invests in accessing it. Anything can be accessed and anything can be published under any name.

    Before reading this article, I had no idea what the term "trolling" referred to. Not knowing what it meant, I had no idea it was so prevalent and common. On the internet or in real personal life, I have never understood why people feel the need to tear down others. To me, that's what trolling is, to an extreme level. I do not understand why people must tear down others in order to receive a few laughs.

    The author of this article went to great lengths to gather very specific examples and stories. These stories were very helpful in my quest to understanding trolling. It also gave me insight into the minds of those that troll.
    My parents have always warned me of the dangers of the internet. I've heard many stories and will continue to have more. But I maintain a sense of safety when using the internet and will continue to use it in such a way.

Back here. Just one click...

Growing up? Maybe not.

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"These are adults, many in their 20s, who are behaving, for the most part, like young adults."
-When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web

    I thought that this quote summed up the point of the article very well. These adults did not take their positions or age seriously. In our society, the point of growing up has not been pushed to a later date. This point in life just seems to have just disappeared. There is no longer an age when young adults are expected to begin acting like full-fledged adults.
    The thought is a scary one. Many people are not motivated to do something unless pushed. Growing up is a prime example of this. If they don't have to grow up, will they? Probably not. If young teachers, or any other young adults, are permitted to stay in their immature state, they will.

    The point I took from this article is the sad state of immaturity in our younger population of what we call adults. These adults are set as examples for the children of our nation. If these "adults" cannot find it in themselves to grow up now for the sake of their students, when will they grow up? Let's hope it comes sooner than later.

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