Penguins, meth and vampires. Oh my!

Chapter Eighteen: Fictional Blogs

In past chapters we’ve read a lot about blogs and publishing and all that jazz. Every time we begin delving into this kind of topic I also think back to the Julie/Julia project and how Julie Powell‘s blog was eventually made into a book and then a movie. There have been numerous other examples of these happenstances (blogs turned to books) which get me thinking: can any blog be turned into a book? What makes them more appealing than other blogs? The first example was a log of cooking experiences whereas the second was a man swearing down cute animals at every turn. A bit of a difference? Quite.

And then there is what we’re doing or, at least, what I think we’re doing. You see, for this class I feel the blog is being used more as an alternative writing tool. Not only is there a required “text” portion but also image/video embedding, hyperlinking, and blog-to-blog networking must be considered. Some of us are sticking to what we know, meaning the basics of everyday word-processing (Hey, it get’s the job done!)  while others are playing around with the software available to them.

Their innovative play with the medium is creating a narrative, which at its best is multimodal, hypertextual, episodic, serialized, and interactive.

Interactive? Like those 3D games at Downtown Disney? Maybe not that interactive.

The interactivity of fiction blogging versus fiction-sans-internet creates this sort of digital pat-on-the-back atmosphere where authors can receive feedback (good and bad) from viewers during the process of writing their piece of prose instead of finding out later after publishing that their tale of ninja tacos rampaging the lowly city of New York was not a good idea. Audience feedback, people.

Now using a blog as a drawing board can go a few ways, one of which involves intertwining the blog and the fictional world completely. The book and I agree that this would be the best example of such. Although Glass House hasn’t been updated since 2005, it is a brilliant example of taking a world created in fiction and making it real. One author, one unending story, one piece of great online literature.

Then there is the less-intensive version:

It’s part creative writing, part blogging, part role-playing. (203)

This is popular in fan fiction, where you take on the role of a character and when you are placed in certain situations you react how you believe they would. For those who have ever played Dungeons and Dragons, it’s like that but real life.I can relate most to this through my Twitter feed. (I never thought I’d say that.)

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.50.47 PM

I follow a Walter White as well as a Walter White Jr. through Twitter. However, there’s a catch. You see, these two individuals don’t actually exist. Well, they’re not figments of my imagination either. They’re two characters from the show Breaking Bad and yet they both have Twitter accounts.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.51.38 PM

This leads us into fan fiction blogging, like on Muggle Net. For those Harry Potter lovers who ship Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy, fan fiction is the place for you. For those who believe in their heart of hearts that Buffy The Vampire Slayer should have never ended, fan fiction is where you belong.

 

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The Sunday Post (Part whatever week number we’re on)

So this week was interesting to say the least. Monday started me off blogging about something I cared about. Some friends and I started a tag project so that was pretty neat, if I must say so myself. It wasn’t a required task but I actually blogged for me and not a grade this time. It was a breath of fresh air. I tried to incorporate some of the things I’ve been learning in the class: embedding images, linking to sources, quoting outside articles, considering everything an experiment waiting to happen. Strangers really seemed to like it.

Then we got our book assignments to read through chapters 11-14 and type up a few posts. I made my first post how I would take lecture notes. I went through the text making comments here and there and highlighting important quotes i would find helpful later one. In then typed it all up in my own words. That was on chapter 11. Chapters 12 and 13 didn’t really trigger any responses from me. However, after reading chapter 14, something snapped. I’m a raging feminist at heart (maybe it’s because I have ovaries) as well as hater of those who feel dealing out judgement is entertaining. Call me a hypocrite if you want. That chapter gave me my idea for this week’s digital artifact which I worked on with Joe and Matt. Instead of making one giant post, we all found parts of chapter fourteen that interested us and then elaborated in our own ways. I touched on sexism and the blogging bourgeoisie that find it their duty to patrol our pingbacks. I talk about manhandling. You should read it.

Joe’s post was about pseudonyms. Did you know that J.K. Rowling specifically chose to have her name initialed to make her name more gender neutral? What twelve year-old boy is going to pick up a book by a Joanne Rowling?

Matt addressed the issue of ageism, however it wasn’t from the end of a young person but from the older generations. Interesting stuff. Make sure you check it out!

Also, check out this awesome work of online literature. It does a fantastic job of taking into consideration the future of blogging as well as the day to day worries of the prepubescent  learner or, in this case, lurker.

Next week is supposed to mark a change in pace so it will be interesting to see just which direction this class goes. I’ve learned how to keep up in my own way and now it’s going to mixed up all over again.

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Because I’m a woman this post will be about knitting, cooking, children, and the joys of domesticity.

Oh, wait. No it won’t. I apologize if the title deceived you but I can’t knit, I don’t have children, I’m an average cook, and I find very little joy in the domestic world. However, because I am of the female variety my blog is immediately pegged as “that” genre.

“But Devan, this is the modern age where women shouldn’t have to fall into the stereotypes of which they have been entrapped since the fall of hunting and gathering.” You’d be right. Blogging should stand as an escape from the throws of everyday archetypes, not just another foothold for patriarchy. And yet, there is still this uphill battle for female efficacy.

Let’s try and figure out what draws people to a blog. Cool formatting? Concise workflow? Pretty pictures? Debate? As Uses of Blogs puts it,

The debate about gender and blogging has therefore suffered from lack of clarity in three main areas: what counts as a blog, what counts as an online journal, and what counts as political. (155)

Apparently, us bottom-of-the-food-chain bloggers must rely on the unending wisdom of the “pundit” blog. We give them the power to look at our blogs with their ex-ray eyes and judge whether or not we deserve to be read, published, linked to, or whatever else suits their fancy. They take the phrase “It’s all about who you know” to an entirely new level. Heck, we may have never met these particular individuals and yet they hold the unyielding power to manhandle our internet private parts. They can capitalize on both our successes and failures.

by privileging filter blogs and thereby implicitly evaluating the activities of adult males as more interesting, important and/or newsworthy than those of other blog authors, public discourses about weblogs marginalize the activities of women and teen bloggers, thereby indirectly reproducing societal sexism and ageism, and misrepresenting the fundamental nature of the weblog phenomenon. (155)

I can understand that sometimes, us female-folk tend to go off on random tangents about the most mundane things. Honestly, an hour into a rant to my boyfriend about my mother I realize how much time I’ve wasted on such a completely pointless task. Yes. We drone on and on with usually no point in site, no concise argument, no bathroom breaks. However, there are times when I have some alright things to say and this is where my distaste for stereotyping “filter” blogs place women as a whole into this pit. This pit of despair.

Only the pundit overlords know where the knot in the tree is to open the secret door.

To bypass these filters, many women, in search of a more neutral pen name, have turned to pseudonyms. For more information, check out Joe’s post here.

For more information on how ageism is affected by these manhandling meanies, check out Matt’s post here.

I’m not going to pretend to enjoy politics in order to get views or garner popularity. I’m just going to blog for the sake of blogging and maybe I’ll get my own kind of viewers. It’s the internet. Who knows?

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-Isms fighting the bombastic blogger with pseudonyms.

Joe, Matt and I joined forces for this weeks digital artifact. Tomorrow we’re going to combine ideas to make the finished product. Today we’re just gathering ingredients. Here is what I’ve got so far for sources:

We were initially going to discuss some of the basics for this chapter (sexism vs. ageism) but then after we began researching, our ideas evolved. Matt strayed toward ageism, Joe took the pseudonym route, and I decided to explore “filter” blogs. Maybe it’s my deep-down dislike for those who believe themselves to be better than everyone else. Most of the time, it’s because they are, but hey, you don’t need to go rubbing it in all the time.

One quote in particular from Uses of Blogs got me started down this road.

As other researchers have argued, however, these perceptions create a hierarchy whereby the group or pundit blog– sometimes called the “filter” blog–is the authentic form against which other styles of blogging must be judged” (155)

The author then goes on to explain how none of these pundit blogs have really addressed the basis of which they go around “judging” blogs.

What these debates also typically avoid is any significant debate about what makes atopic “political,” “newsworthy,” or “important” in the first place (155)

This reminds me of something Prof. Morgan told me about my first couple of blog posts. He said I was “snarky” but there wasn’t any basis for me being “snarky” other than my own personal opinion. I didn’t have and facts to back myself up. Isn’t this a similar situation? The filter blogs are sitting there being snarky about other people’s blogs, judging them with criteria they don’t understand fully.

If you’re going to label someone’s blog as worthless you better have a rubric or something. Maybe then we can really call them “A-List” bloggers.

 

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What my pink highlighter taught me.

Chapter Eleven

Scholarly Blogging: Moving toward the Visible College

Blogging boils down to three major settings: the notebook, the coffee house, and the editorial page. The phrases themselves are rather self-explanatory; however there is one more type that seems to be a hybrid division: the scholarly blog.

A decade ago Harrison and Stephen explained why computer networking was of such interest to academics. It played to long-held ideals among scholars that had yet to be realized: “unending and inclusive scholarly conversation; collaborative inquiry limited only by mutual interests; unrestrained access to scholarly resources; independent, decentralized learning; and a timely and universally accessible system for representing, distributing, and archiving knowledge.” (118)

Scholarly blogs provide most, if not all, of these opportunities. If anything they follow the four major themes of blogging practices:

  • They rely on networked audiences.
  • They encourage conversation between readers.
  • They are generally a low-intensity activity.
  • Depending on the blog, they can portray a transparent thinking-in-process style.

Let’s talk about the three bog settings, first being “The Notebook.” Like any other diary of sorts, this type of blog allows you to jot down any ideas, quotes, dreams, ice cream flavors, or whatever else suits your fancy. It’s a way of thinking out loud without really verbalizing anything (Unless you’re like me, where you type and talk at the same time). Taken to a more professional level:

The notebooks of many scholars, from Faraday to da Vinci to Gramsci to Darwin, have opened up new realms to later researchers. While the use of such a notebook differs from field to field, in sciences  it might be argued that the ab notebook represents a clear expression of everything the scientist does. (119)

As Cory Doctorow put it, the notebook blog is like his “outboard brain.” Through links he is able to draw lines to relevancy thus making his simple lecture notes even more interesting and interactive.

Nest, we have “The Coffee House.” Although not very common in the large-scale blogosphere, The Coffee House community can still be traced through the hyperlinks recorded back and forth between them.

Many have suggested that blogging in the modern recapitulation of pamphleteering, but like blogs, the coffee houe thrived on mixing and exchanging the opinions and ideas of those from a variety of backgrounds. Like blogs, however, those with particular interests or political leanings were likely to flock to the same coffeehouse. (120)

Like interests are attracted to like interests. Hmm, seems legit.

Lastly, we have “The Opinions Page,” which, like any other Op. Ed. page in a newspaper, represents an opinion not necessarily expressed by a journalist. It represents information provided by those who wish to educate the public and “engage in public issues.” Scholarly blogging finds its foothold here. Blogs provide a forum where those communication barriers aren’t so prominent.

However, some scholars are finding it tough to distinguish work versus play, what’s personal versus what’s professional, what is appropriate versus what is way too much information.

In the end, though blogging is here to stay. At least, for a little while. It provides that bit of communication other forums may be lacking.

Exhausted Devan commentary.

Exhausted Devan commentary.

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The Tag project.

When many people think back to high school fond memories usually aren’t the first things that come to mind. This is where I’m thankful. You see, for some reason my grade in high school consisted of just a ton of really awesome people. My specific group of awesome people consisted of about 30-80 people at any given time. Parties were fantastic. For some reason, unlike any other conglomeration of hormonal teenagers, we didn’t “clique” up. We had the varsity football players, the green team founders, the theatre kids, the band kids, the orchestra kids, the we-don’t-do-anything kids, the smartest people in the school, the dumbest people in the school, the alcoholics, the longboarders, the Magic maniacs, the C.O.D. guys and the religious bunch that weren’t allowed to read Harry Potter. We were The Breakfast Club on steroids; we had a little bit of everyone. And we only had one rule: be yourself. If you were anything else, we would know; I don’t how but we knew. If that makes us a clique then so be it. I still do not know how we all got along, but we did.

After high school it was like the breaking of the fellowship. We all spread out across the country and I lost touch with quite a few people. Yeah, it sucks but people move on with their lives. If I see you again, great! If not, oh well, it was nice knowing you! Then my friend Walker created a page appropriately titled “Keeping in Touch.” Ever since the creation of that I’ve felt that we’ve been able to at least keep some ties intact.

Recently, there was an article posted about a group of four guys who had been playing the game of “Tag” for 23 years. 23 YEARS. Yeah, talk about commitment.

The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is “It” until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can’t easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays “It” for the year.

How did they manage this? Well, by flying across the country and hiding in one another’s car trunks, breaking and entering, steaking out in bushes, whatever they had to do to get their tag. Although the four men have all gone their separate ways, some to priesthood, some to criminal law practices, this game has allowed their friendship to stay strong throughout the years.

Mr. Konesky, a tech-company manager, is now “It” again and has had 11 months to stew. With February approaching, he has been batting around a few plans of attack. He says he likes to go after people who haven’t been “It” for a while. That includes Father Raftis, who has been harder to reach since he moved to Montana but who, as several players pointed out, is a sitting duck on Sundays.

Well, my friends and I also have no desire to lose each other so we decided to come up with our own version. There are seven of us, all at our respected universities: Alec, Alex, Walker, Kristi, Taylor, Joseph, and me. Organized through Facebook, we tried the whole “NOT IT” approach to see who would be “It” first. I had no desire to be”it” first so I changed the rules a bit and introduced the “nose goes” approach. If you’re not familiar with “nose goes” the rules are simple: don’t be the last person to put your finger on your nose otherwise you’re it. If you want some advice, the key to never losing is to start the process. 

So I switched it up. I posted a picture of me with my finger on my nose and my idea actually caught on. I love these guys.

Image

Joseph was the last one to participate thus he didn’t make it on to the collage. Out of everyone, though, he probably has the best placement to start us off. Taylor and I mapped it out so we know. Kristi is probably the safest over in Boston whereas Walker should watch his back. These guys are the kind of people who are not above driving ten hours and hiding in your closet, bribing people to achieve victory or ambushing you in the shower. They’re horrible and I love them dearly.

We begin in March.

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The storm of online learning.

Here’s my Prezi presentation of education and the interwebs and the future.

Comments? Questions? Concerns? Snide remarks?

I hope it suits your fancy.

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Chugging out the Sunday post.

It seems as if it was only a week ago I was doing this exact same thing. Alas it is Sunday and alas, I care about my grade so I am back to reiterate everything I’ve done in the past seven days. Well, Monday found me partially dying from The Oak Hall Plague: Second Semester Sickness. It was great. I slept, drank tea, and chewed down DayQuil like it was a chocolate chip cookie (as in one cookie every four to six hours). I took the day off.

Tuesday I felt a wee bit better. I was still wearing the same sweatshirt and sweatpants combo from the day before but I could move and actually make decisions and think somewhat clearly once the drugs kicked in. I read through chapters nine and ten in Uses of Blogs. To this day I have no idea how I got past the few couple of lines from chapter ten.  I believe Jean Burgess did not mean anyone to understand what she was saying for the first page or so. Maybe my mind was muddled a bit, too. Who knows? The word “pedagogy” was thrown around so many times between the two chapters I started underlining it. Sentence two of Blogging to Learn, Learning to Blog:

Their emergence in Internet culture has synchronized to a large extent with trends in pedagogy toward user-centered, participatory learning in combination with the technologization of the curriculum. (105)

Can I get a translater over here?

Alright, alright. I’ll stop with the criticism. I guess I’ll start talking about what I actually learned from these couple of chapters. We’ll start with the fact that I now know exactly where Morgan got quite a bit of his ideas. The issue with commenting and discussion boards is addressed because in order to get a decent grade in the class we were forced to be checking to see if someone had commented on our posts as well as forcing us to comment on the posts of others. Soon these “assignments” became habitual for me and WordPress was the second thing I checked when opening my web browser today. It is almost sad how sucked in I can get when it comes to social networking. Who knows? Next, I might actually appreciate Twitter in all its grandeur. Or not. I hope not. God, I hope not.

Somethings that were brought up in the chapters I found rather interesting would be the genre of “research” blogging and how similar that is to what we’re doing and how I’m still trying to fit in that little bit of me that wants to be creative and go off on tangents like this one. You know, if it was up to me, I would make a blog entirely about bad math jokes. I mean “bad” as in “poorly designed and nobody will laugh” not “bad” as in “these are dirty, do not share at church.” All of my jokes will be church approved.

Back to the subject at hand: Class. But we’re not supposed to think of it as a class? But we hav assignments? I don’t know. I’m just trying to chug along at my own pace and see how it goes, that’s how I got through my Nordic skiing years and those seemed to work out more or less in my favor.

Posts for this week

Enjoy, you blogging lunatics.

A gift for your efforts.

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1.21 gigawatts away from the future of education.

Present a view of the future of online education. Image and text. Scenarios.

Alright so here’s the plan: research the poop out of online education. Fair enough.

So, of course, like any other lazy college student I literally Googled “the future of online education.” A couple of links down I found this really neat article by Eric Hellweg on the Harvard Business Review. It tends to focus more in the beginning on the prices of education and how ridiculous they’re becoming.

How can MIT charge $50,000 for tuition going forward? Can we justify that in the future? … But I don’t think we can charge that much for tuition …  and it’s a big pressure point for us. (Reif, president of MIT)

Despite prices, people still see to be leaning toward the more expensive options that allow them to learn with groups of people rather than the cheaper options that are less interactive.

There are a few members on the panel discussing these topics that are CEOs of OLE companies such as Udacity and Coursera. I had never heard of these before so I gave their websites a visit. Udacity’s mission is essentially to offer free online higher education to any kind of person willing to take part. That’s right. Free! Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig decided to offer their “Introduction to Articifical Intelligence” course online for free instead of making everyone ay Stanford University prices. Well, it was a hit and Udacity was born.

Coursera is yet another provider of free online college-level courses. Founders Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng are also Stanford University Professors who believe in a series of pedagogical foundations in order to sustain knowledge as well as free learning opportunities for all. I wonder if they have French classes.

Nope. I guess Rosetta Stone has that on lock-down.

To figure out what may or may not happen in the future of the OLE I must have at least a mild understanding of what the OLE is like now. To think, I’ve only just brushed the surface.

 

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Pedagogical Pedagogy II

Blogging to Learn, Learning to Blog

Blogs being used in the learning environment? That sounds familiar. I think instead of all of us using one type of blog, I almost think it would be even more interesting to assign each person to go out and find their own type of blog site as well as their own blogging genre to do. If you want us to have a virtual identity, then I think that would be the perfect way to do it (if you don’t then forgot I said anything).

At the same time, I can see why we started with WordPress: it’s easy to use, easy to learn on, easy to connect with one another, and easy to adapt. For us, as students, to improve our creative and network literacy we need to begin with the basics. Certain expectations certainly took me by surprise and this is coming from someone who has dabbled around with blogging quite a bit. I wasn’t expecting this class to be a cake-walk but I felt I could handle whatever was thrown at me.

Something I also like about us starting with WordPress is the fact that, although we’re learning the basics, there are things here that I’m sure plenty of people (like me) just do not understand. Like embedding videos? Yeah, for some reason it took me a couple of days to figure out. However, I’m glad I’m not like a couple of students mentioned in the book.

There was often an implicit assumption by students that the technologies they use for formal learning should be stable, easy to use, and transparent, and not open, configurable, or complex. (107)

For some reason, after reading that portion of the text all I could think about was the Jumpstart series. If you want to watch a video, be prepared for nine minutes of nostalgia and vulgarity.

Your cursor is the size of a house! Don’t get me wrong, I love and will always love Jumpstart but after reading this chapter I can see why so many people might expect something like that. We grow up with things spelled out for us. Sure, we aren’t all born coders but there is nothing wrong with incorporating those aspects into our everyday school system.

On top of that I found the sentence that describes this course to a “T”.

In the context of educational– more specifically, “research”– blogging existing speech genres (conversation, debate, personal storytelling) need to be articulated with ossified academic writing genres (the essay, the research report, the literature review, the critique). (108)

That is what I have saying all along! My creative side and my intellectual side have to go to marriage counseling or something to work out these problems creating such rifts between them. Regardless, I still have a lot of work to do.

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