Web 2.0…again.

December 2, 2011

So even though I already feel like I have written this blog post (see below), I will focus more on the final project of this semester. During our last project, we had to work in groups, write a proposal for a non-profit organization, and create a prezi presentation. I know exactly what you might be thinking…that’s a lot of tasks…emphasis on the GROUP part. I hate working in groups, I really do. I would rather do everything myself then rely on another person to pull through. I know it’s mighty selfish, but I want things done right, especially when they affect my grade. Anywho, the research proposal had to be at least 15 pages…that’s a lot. I hate to admit it, but working in groups made the project a lot more bearable! Until they decided to not show up to class the Friday before it’s due. I have one word to say: ANGRY.

In this course, I have learned that even technology cannot be a stand alone factor in a group project. While drop box and Prezi are nice, it is almost impossible to get things done when people refuse to show up to class. Therefore, most of the work gets pinned on one person. But, drop box has made it more easier to share documents with multiple people and organize information in a way that I have never seen before. But I really like it! It is nice because you can access the files from any computer, not just the one you store them on. Prezi is an awesome new (to me) powerpoint like tool that is a total upgrade to the old way. I have found it very fascinating and interesting to work with, and it makes for an incredible presentation. While you can’t use Prezi in every situation, I think it will definitely be an asset to my future teaching career.

I have also learned that I am not aware of all that goes on in the technology world, and I’m okay with that. There’s lots of people that know more about technology and related issues than I do and that’s perfectly fine with me. I have learned some new things like how Google filters its responses to your search based on other things you put on the internet. I never knew that until this class. I think I just want to be like the 75% or so of Americans who chose to not think about things like that. I will just continue to follow whatever rules I need to and be on my merry way.

Web 2.0 is a term I had never heard of until this class. And honestly, I couldn’t tell you half the things we talked about in class. Most of the time I felt like it was over my head. But I have learned new resources and tools that make using the internet a lot easier. Sure, I may not know as much as some of my other colleagues, but as long as I can make my way around the world wide web, I’m going to be just fine.

 

Web 2.0 and Me

November 10, 2011

Well, this semester has flown by. We are down to the last month of classes. Honestly, I’m pretty excited. One step closer to graduating. Because of this English class, I have been more exposed to different tools on the web besides Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter. But, I’ve realized, I don’t spend as much time online as I thought I did.

This semester, I have continued the use of my Facebook to connect with my peers. Besides email, it is really the only Web 2.0 tool that I continually use. Our professor requested that we start a Twitter and follow certain people throughout the semester. However, I hate Twitter. I really do. Maybe it’s because I’m not engaged in it, but I’m okay with that. I will more than likely end up deleting it after the completion of this course.

However, I have found more presentation tools to use in my future profession as a teacher. I really like Prezi, and I know I will be using it next semester in one of my education courses. Pecha Kucha, however, is a more formal type of presentation and I may use it if I am presenting to an older audience, not middle to high school aged students.

Another tool I have used is this blog on WordPress. It definitely seems to me like a more in depth Facebook. Whereas people on Facebook keep things short (for the most part) blogs focus more on the opinion of the author on a certain subject. I probably will not continue my blog because I don’t really have anything to say that would interest people that I don’t know personally.

The next tool I have used is YouTube. Before this semester, I primarily used YouTube to listen to songs that I had not yet bought off of iTunes. But now, I found it useful to be a visually supporting piece of evidence that can pull a reader in and think about what you have to say.

However, I have come to love the world of Ebay and Amazon. I like the fact that I can shop from home and get decent prices on new or used items and have them shipped directly to my house. It saved me over $300 on books for this semester and all it took was some time to compare prices. I really like the user generated style of the websites because it gives the consumers and sellers some say in what they want.

Another tool that I like is DropBox. At first, I wasn’t so sure why I would need to share files with anyone when I can just email them. Until, in my Philosophy of Religion Class, all of our reading material was found online. So I was able to put everything into a folder and put it on the dropbox for others to use. Because the file was so big, it wouldn’t send on an email, but was still available. I do think that I will continue to use it throughout my Education and Teaching.

Although I am still not as technology savvy as others, I do feel as if I have a better awareness of the world wide web that we are entangled in. There really is so much more than Gmail and Facebook. If we have come this far in the past decade or so, I’m curious to see what the technology will be like when my future kids are in college.

Technological Literacy

November 5, 2011

Selfe claims that students going through the education system in this century must know how to use computers in a multitude of every day situations. I couldn’t agree more. After the turn of the twenty-first century, computers started to become an absolute necessity to succeed in the world. In his presidency, Bill Clinton attempted to kick-start a program to prepare students for the future. However, American schools have fallen short of fully equipping their students for life.

Although technology in the classroom has made several advances over the past decade, it still remains unequal. Selfe points out that schools with a primarily white population with middle to upper class families tend to have more access to computers and internet than a school with a colored population and lower class families. If that is the case, then isn’t some sort of segregation still looming over our heads? Separate but equal has been tossed out the window over fifty years ago, but the government still can’t afford to offer the same technologies for different types of schools across the board.

Another interesting point is the parent’s ability to provide the necessary tools for their children. Parents who are financially unable to provide internet and computers for their children are giving them a disadvantage. Most any job nowadays requires some type of computer skill. If a student does not have access to learn these skills, then they will be behind when they start looking for a job. Even in the college classroom, more professors are turning to solely depending on computers.

Even five years ago when I was a freshman in high school, the use of cell phones in the classroom was absolutely prohibited. Now, computers are basically pocket-sized computers, and teachers are encouraging the use of them. What about those students who don’t own the latest technology? Unfortunately, they get left in the dust. It is not impossible for them to succeed, it will just be more of a challenge. On the flip side, some teachers are not utilizing any technology-based skills at all. They are stuck in their traditional ways of paper and pencil and refuse to adopt to modern times. These teachers are severely hurting their students chances of advancing in society. It is impossible to not encounter technology in higher education and in the job field. The earlier students are exposed to these new skills, the more expertise they will have when their skills are put to the test.

Computer literacy, however, is increasing in the classroom and in the home. Although not every student is guaranteed the exact same opportunities, there is more overall access to these tools then there had been ten years ago. More and more young kids are being exposed to technology at an earlier age in the hopes that they will be more successful than their peers. The NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) promotes the use of technology with children as young as three years old! But, it’s the necessary action to make sure children are prepared for this technology-crazed world that they will be influenced by.

Wacky Wikipedia

October 27, 2011

When my English professor first told my class that we would be creating a Wikipedia article during the semester, I honestly did not think it would be that difficult. Just type a few hundred words about a topic that I know something about and be done with it. Simple is cake, right? WRONG.

In my attempt to find a topic not on Wikipedia was nearly impossible. In fact, I gave up my search and decided to expand a stub. My new goal became to find out what category I was going to look for my stub under. Dr. Hara said to write about something we know about and have a passion for, so I stuck with United States History.

Needless to say, it was not the most specific category to choose, as there were over five hundred stubs to choose from. So here started the random picking process. I would choose a stub that sounded remotely interesting and see how much had been written about it. Then, if the topic sounded like something I could write about, I googled it to see how many credible resources I could find on the topic.

I ended up deciding to expand the stub of the National Anti-Slavery Standard. It only had about two sentences on the stub and a plethora of resources to extract information from. So I put it aside until about three days before it was due. As I started to really dive into the references, EVERY SINGLE REFERENCE seem to state the EXACT same information as the previous one. Obviously, I was irritated beyond belief. How could writing one little article be so difficult?

So I took a deep breath and dived back in. I started noticing other pieces of history that the National Anti-Slavery Standard was woven into. A key abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was published in the paper several times, as well as one of the editor’s Lydia Child who published the book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl that turned the country upside down. It also underwent many name changes after it stopped running in the 1870s. It continued to reform with the advancement of society. So once I started to look at how it was connected to other things of its time period, the article became much easier to write.

So I thought the hard part was over. Just get it written and then post to Wikipedia. WRONG AGAIN. After attending class, all of this technology jargon was thrown at me and I became excessively overwhelmed. All this talk of “code” and such had my head spinning. One of my classmates locked eyes with me and we had that “Help me!” look. Going into Wikipedia, I didn’t think it would be that complicated. Even thought my classmates tried to help, it made my apprehensiveness of the situation worse. So one day I sat down and sucked it up and decided I would figure it out. With the help of my Wikipedia Cheet Sheet and looking at other templates, I was able to successfully finish my article and format it for Wikipedia standards. I’m glad that I finish it and it’s now over. But writing for Wikipedia will not be a habit that I will ever develop.

Bush suggests that science has expanded the technology that is made available to society. Without it, we wouldn’t be anywhere near the advances that we live so comfortably with. However, so much has been added to the internet, that users cannot possibly comprehend all of the information that is out there. But there are strides that have made this maze of information into something useful for the betterment of society as a whole. Take the camera for example: where as it used to be made of film, it is now highly digitized and prints can be made within a matter of minutes. But compression is not enough in order to absorb all that needs to be taken in. Even though the size of the amount of information is decreased dramatically, it still take time to weed through it. It does, however, cut down on the manufacturing cost, making the product available to more consumers. This day in age, scientists focus on the manipulation of data and uses logical processes to infer about the world. In the selection process, only people with certain characteristics are chose, while others are not. This is because the human mind acts by association. It is not a mechanical library in which information is stored and retrieved at free will. However, science has laid a foundation for man to build on and continue to learn and grow.

On the other hand, Shirky points out that because of these advances, the definition of a “professional” has changed. In the past, the printing press changed the ways of scribal days forever, making it easier and faster to produce massive amounts of text. Now, the internet is slowly making newspapers and journalists obsolete because now anyone can jump on a computer and publish news. This is because the definition of news has changed from being newsworthy to the professional to being anything that catches the public eye. Now, the line between amateur and professional has been blurred and it will not be made clear again.

I must say I completely agree with Shirky. It goes back to the ongoing debate in my English class: who defines news? Who decides one thing is worthy and the other is not? It used to be the professionals in the business. Now, it’s the general public.  However, some “citizen journalists” have the tools, but Kantor believes not all of them know how to use them. In his article, Kantor admits that professional and amateur journalists do the same job and suffer some of the same problems. But, amateurs do not have editors peeking over their shoulder to tell them when something isn’t a story yet or does not have enough details to make a solid argument. He uses the analogy of meeting someone at a party, forgetting their name, and by the end of the night a hundred rumors have circulated from it. Some amateur bloggers exaggerate the most simplest of stories, where professionals are constrained to what they can print. John Burke takes a different approach. He argues that amateur journalism is simply not journalism at all, just a matter of opinion and social commentary. He defines a professional as someone who gets paid for the job, instead of doing it for leisure like an amateur. He points out several fallacies in amateur works to prove that it can’t even be taken as a serious piece of journalism.

All though all three articles have compelling point of views, they all have some validity to them. Amateur journalism is not likely to go away because of Web 2.0’s bottom-up structure. Even though amateurs have not perfected the art of journalism, does not mean what they have to say isn’t newsworthy. As Burke put it, “Amateur is not below professional. It’s just another way of doing media.”

So the World Wide Web, more commonly known as the “www” in front of a URL, is a very complex and intricate idea. The article by Berners-Lee was very…boring. Myself, along with other users, have some sort of idea that the internet is not a simple matter. However, most people do not care why there is HTTP in front of a web address or whatever a “W3” is. I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to respond to this article. It was a fact-driven piece that pretty much only has one side to it. When first using the internet, I am almost positive that most people do not pick up the “Internet for Dummies” book and read it from cover to cover. They simply log in and start clicking around until either A)finding the actual thing they went on their for in the first place, B)calling someone younger to fix their problem, or C)throwing their computer against the wall. The article was definitely meant for technologically savvy people, and that is definitely not me.

On the other hand, the chapter that Dibbell wrote was very real, yet not. A rape in cyberspace? It sounds fairly impossible. I’m sure the people that were apart of that gruesome event felt extremely violated and disgusted at what took place that night. However, it’s not real. Mr. Bungle did not actually show up to her house, and force her to do these “things.” I’m not saying her emotional response to what happen wasn’t real, but the act in and of itself isn’t. He did not physically touch her. According to the legal dictionaryRape is the commission of unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sexual intrusion. That being said, I do not see how the man could be charged with rape. Recently, the FBI has redefined the definition of rape to not only “the carnal knowledge of a woman, forcibly and against her will” but to also include “involving an object, anal or oral sex, or between people of the same gender.” While this continues the moral degradation of our society, no where in there does it mention “virtual” rape.

In some of my classes, my peers talk about all of these “alternative realities” that they find themselves drawn to. These people invest their lives, time, and full attention to these realms of virtuality. It doesn’t make any sense to me! Why would you sit behind a computer screen all day and play a game with people you don’t even know, and become so obsessed with something that doesn’t exist? It’s like when movie-goers attend a new movie. In the middle of it, they find their emotions rising and become invested into the lives of these characters for two hours. But when the credits role, it’s over. The transactional experience that has taken place is complete. The emotion they felt was real, but their role in the movie was not. I know this girl did not have any control over what happened to her character because of this creeper. But that’s the risk people take every day when they sign in online. This furthers the notion of less privacy online than ever before. Even what you personally create online is not your own. And what other users on the internet decide to do with it is their choice.

Once again, Shirky has hit the nail on the head. In this first of chapter Here Comes Everybody, Shirky retells the story of a woman who lost her phone and how her friend used Web 2.0 ideas to retrieve it. Ten years ago or so, the internet would not have been able to be used in such a way. Today, however, the web has the power to influence even the most powerful of people.

It wasn’t really the fact that a website was made to describe the events of the lost/stolen phone. It’s the fact that people from around the world formed a community around it. Because of the viewers’ persistence nature, the NYPD eventually did something about the girl who knowingly had the woman’s phone. It is simply amazing how a group of people can fight for justice, with just the click of a button. But, that’s exactly what the internet has done. Web 2.0 has made it easier for these communities to share their ideas and collaborate faster and more convenient than ever.

With almost every social network site, there is a way for a group of people to come together to discuss their commonalities. On Twitter, users insert “hashtags” after their tweet so that it will join a page of particular posts about a certain topic. That way, other users can follow trends like #occupywallstreet or #thatawkwardmoment and then retweet and form a connection. On Facebook, users can create pages or like other pages or join groups so they can associate with other people who have the same interests.It is very impressive what the internet has become over the past decade.  Strangers who don’t even know each other fight for the return of a stolen possession. It’s like the internet is an unspoken bond from one computer screen to another.

A few months ago, a woman gave birth to a son who was three and a half months premature. He only weighed one pound. To rally up support, hope, and prayer, the mother started a blog about her journey as she lived in the NICU for the past 123 days. She posted pictures and told stories of how Cooper had a bad night, or the first time he took a bottle on his own, or when he finally breathed on his own. After a few posts, people who knew this woman started posting the link to the blog on Facebook and Twitter, hoping more and more people would pray for Baby Cooper. Soon after, more and more people started visiting the blog and extended a hand of encouragement and hope for this family, who some had never met before. The young mother even posted a glossary of NICU terms so the audience could follow along with her story. Other mothers who had had preemies began to write to her and assure her that her son would make it. When all these viewers saw her story, and invested their time and prayer life into Cooper, a group was formed. And now, 123 days later, Karen Milburn gets to take her son Cooper home for the first time. Without this community of believers that she had surrounding her, she would not have had the support to make it through this time.

Shirky mentioned that “When we change the way we communicate, we change society.” I think this sums up the entire idea of Web 2.0. When we go from communication forms that are very strict and limited, to an almost instant interaction with others from around the globe, our society becomes more connected. And by this instantaneous connection, we feel that as if somehow, we find a place in the world, because we are apart of a group.

YouTube has become a new social media outlet over the past several years. In it’s Web 2.0 form, it is a user generated site that ranks user produced videos according to how many views it gets. With his team of Kansas State University undergraduates, anthropologist Michael Wesch studies the very use and purpose of this phenomenon. But where many see good and progression, I also see as a complete waste of time.

YouTube’s creation has connected people from around the world through video blogs. While most are affected by this “network individualism”, others simply post home movies or a skateboarding dog. Since the development of the webcam and YouTube, more people are becoming independent and isolated to form a community that is completely virtual. While that is all fine and dandy, it’s not real. This question of “YouTube authenticity” makes it nothing more than “reality” television. It’s all scripted. YouTube users want the world to see the real them, yet they spend countless hours making a three minute video that they edited because they sounded weird or their hair wasn’t right. Wesch used several examples of YouTube users who were found to be fake. Who really cares? It’s not like your best friend just stabbed you in the back. Most people know that reality shows like “Real World” or “Jersey Shore” aren’t actually reality, but they still continue to watch them. YouTube users invest their lives and trust into these people they don’t even know, but manage to make some sort of adhesive bond.

However, YouTube can also be an excellent tool to highlight the progression of technology. In a recent blog, I embedded a YouTube video showing the shifting change in the Education Paradigm and how, because of this progression of technology, the Education system needs to catch up. YouTube is made out of what each individual user makes it. If users want to watch people  lie about their identity to make some kind of soap opera, let them. But, if another user wants to use YouTube to make a statement about politics or social issues, let them as well. It’s one of those double-edged swords in my opinion. But that’s the same with most user-generated Web 2.0 products: a website is what the users are.

This also adds to the feeling of distance between what we put on the internet and who we really are. These “alter egos” that some YouTube users create are the person they wish they could be. So maybe YouTube is an outlet to express what we really are on the inside. But that doesn’t excuse the inappropriate content in videos or comments. Because, it’s public! Someone will recognize you, take offense to whatever was said or written, and there will be consequences.

YouTube can be used for sheer entertainment, social movements, music, soap operas, and anything else that you can imagine. It’s when the users forget that the people on the video are simply talking to a webcam that “drama” happens. YouTube users aren’t professionals, they are the normal average people like you and me. This means that we have the ability to upload material to connect to people or find ourselves and completely change our lives. On the other hand, we also have the ability to destroy and tear apart someone else’s.

 

Tweeting Around

September 18, 2011

Twitter has definitely changed the face of instant communication over the past decades. From message boards, to Xanga, to Facebook, Twitter has been apart of the social movement in improving mass communication. In my opinion, Twitter users have the power to post trivial day-to-day nonsense like what shoes they are wearing, to becoming part of a completely connected world at the push of a button.

In the beginning stages of Twitter, I absolutely hated it. My life is not as interesting as others to post about it 892347283 times in one day. Since I didn’t care what so-and-so ate for breakfast, I was positively sure that so-and-so didn’t care that I was watching a movie. My boyfriend’s twin brother, however, shared a completely different point of view that I hadn’t seen. Twitter allows users to post updates and add “hashtags” so that other users can find a similar community. It’s a way to be instantly updated with the latest celebrity gossip, or the grand slam that Josh Hamilton just hit. It completely changes the face of the online world, making it more personal and easier to find others that share common interests. As Johnson mentions in his article, it’s a mix between all sorts of social realms. One Twitter user can have a mix between celebrities, colleagues, classmates, friends, family, and even bible verses, that are all on the same news feed. Unlike Facebook, where each individual user does most of his activity through it’s own page and private chats and/or messages, Twitter is completely open to the public. Users see who you follow and who is following you. In that way, users can get a good sense of who a person is, just by their online interaction alone.

This semester I plan on using Twitter because I have to, honestly. I would have never created another Twitter account if it wasn’t for Engl 3372. I am, however, starting to get more used to its format and consistent updates. But I do see and embrace the benefits it does share with the world wide web. I am able to follow my classmates, friends, and people who post inspirational bible verses all in one screen. It’s like a sample platter of fruits, you get a little taste of it all.

Huberman makes an interesting point that users who receive more attention will post more often than users who receive very little. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get Twitter. I didn’t have anything to say so no one said anything to me. But it’s the same with any social media outlet: you only get as much out of it as you put into it. Even though most people post the “i had cereal for breakfast #yum” tweets, it makes you feel more connected to them because somehow you feel as if you’re apart of their world. I think that’s where Twitter got it right. By tweeting 30945895 times in one day, it makes your followers become apart of your daily routine. And the more you update, the more your followers stay with you, where ever you may go.

Changing Education Paradigms

September 16, 2011

One of my former English teachers in high school recently sent me this link because she knows I want to be a teacher. I found it absolutely mind blowing! If you are interested in any aspect of the Education field, I suggest you watch this video. It’s around 11 minutes long, but it is worth every second. I hope this sparks a fire inside all of us Educators who want to see our students thrive, not doped up on medication. Our approach to learning is completely out-dated with the current generation. The speaker mentions “divergent thinking”, our capacity to be creative, and how it starts off at a high percentage, but as we become “educated”, the percentage drops significantly. The next generation of educators needs to encourage collaboration amongst groups, not simply repeating exercises out of a book with the answers in the back. Because if that’s what we teach our students, that there is only one right answer, we have done them a horrendous disservice.