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DJ Spooky’s piece, “Loops of Perception” was really interesting to me.

While I don’t know that I would ever be a DJ, I really enjoy music and going to concerts.  His relation of using music as a DJ to search engines and the internet was pretty spot-on.

His mention of people who expect things to stay the same being caught in a time warp was one of the things that hit hardest for me about this piece, and it relates to the “English Downfall” video we watched.

For Grady Journal, my pieces are online.  Just yesterday, I posted a new piece for my women’s column.  One of my friends read it and pointed out a minor mistake I made in it that my peer editors did not catch.  I logged back into the site and updated my post.  In seconds, the error was gone– as if it never existed.  If it had been printed in paper, I would’ve had to print a “correction” the next day or just leave it be.  The error would forever be on the original copy of the article.

With technology growing so rapidly, we’re having to adjust to living lives of constant change.  We can instantly fix mistakes (at very little cost to us) and share an article or essay seconds after writing it.  The crazy part is that, even with how far we’ve come, there’s still a whole lot we can do with technology in the future.

The main thing, though, is that we have to be open to this change.  In the video, “Hitler” finally gives in to the idea of hiring someone to teach English in a technological way.  I’ve found this to be especially difficult for myself.  As a child, I was taught on chalkboards, dry-erase boards (if I was lucky), and clunky overhead projectors.  As my schooling continued, technology continued to grow and before I knew it, all of my classes used the Internet for books, quizzes, tests, assignments, everything.  Some of my classrooms even had remotes that controlled everything in the room, such as lighting and the shades on the windows.  As a child, I remember making the transition in school from researching in books to researching on the Internet as that technology became more readily available to schools.

Now, I find myself struggling to be okay with this “classroom of the future.”  If I was my brother’s age (he’s five years younger than me), I don’t think I’d have as many issues with it.  He pretty much grew up with the basis of most of these technologies in his classrooms; I had to be thrown into the transition.

And having experienced being taught by both methods, I find myself question what really is the “right” way, or if there even is a “right” way to teach.  I know right now I’m a little iffy about how fast we’re converting to technology in the classroom in my college classes.  Sometimes, because the bugs haven’t been worked out yet, the technology fails and leads to struggles in the classroom.  I’m reminded of my midterm in New Media this semester when our 300-student class was asked to take the test online on our laptops in the auditorium.  Needless to say, the wireless wouldn’t let that many of us on, so I was one of the fifty that ended up sitting in a hallway on the floor taking the test.

Things like that make me question how comfortable I am with this growing reliance on technology to teach and whether, if I do have children, I want them to be taught this way.  Do I want them to rarely experience the smell of old or new books or the feel of “Gone with the Wind” or “War and Peace” weighing down their little hands?  I’m not sure, and I don’t know if I ever will be.

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Design and Revision

In Susan H. Delagrange’s webtext about revision and design, I was especially intrigued.

While she was talking about her project, I made connections with the things she was talking about and my own projects and work.

Right now I am in JOUR 3510, which is the Editing and Design class for journalism majors.  We are finally getting into one of the most exciting parts of the class (at least, in my opinion): design. We talk about how to design newspapers on actual paper and on websites.  My New Media class and this Writing for the Web class both help me incorporate thinking about website design.  Either way, there is a lot of though that goes into the design and presentation of something… things I never even thought about.

Did you realize the action of the page on a newspaper has to go with the direction of the action in the picture on the page?  If there is a person in the picture who is pointing his arm in the air to the left, then the picture must go on the right side of the page, so the man will be pointing toward text, not off the page.  There are little things, such as picture action, that we all take for granted about the design of newspapers.  It’s made me look at everything- posters, book covers, magazines, cereal boxes- and wonder what other design factors do we take for granted?

Since we’ve been discussing website design in this class and New Media and newspaper design in Journalism, I’ve found myself intrigued by nearly everything I look at during my day.  The ads on the bus mesmerize me…. is their design coherent to their message or intended reaction?  Is it eye-catching?  What could be done to improve it?

In high school, I designed the playbills for my high school drama department.  I used Print Shop Deluxe and made the pages using the double-sided greeting card setting.  It was a lot of work, not only to design it on the computer, but I had to plan where everything would fit, so all of my “greeting cards” would fit together in the correct order.  It was totally worth it though to see the excited faces of my drama department when I showed up with the finished product.

Looking back though, with the knowledge I’ve picked up about design through my college classes, especially this semester, I probably could have made the playbills even more professional-looking….

But, design changes and evolves over time.  As fancier software becomes available and society craves more “visual” content instead of “textual,” we have to adjust our design methods accordingly.  As I’ve seen how fast this progression has been going, I’m curious as to what the future will bring.  How will this craving for the visual be satisfied?  How interactive can websites get?  If newspapers survive, what will they look like twenty years from now?  The AJC recently redesigned itself and now it looks like they modeled their actual paper version after the website layout…. is something like this in our future across all newspapers?

Claus.com Project

Claus.com is a children’s site that focuses on Christmas and Christmas activities.

Over time, Christmas is becoming more and more commercialized.  The internet, through websites like claus.com, is furthering this in such a way that we have less and less control over it.

Through this commercialization, the fundamental values behind a holiday like Christmas are being lost.  These fundamentals are things such as loving your fellow man, giving and sharing, helping those less fortunate, showing loved ones you care, etc.

Claus.com has a section of the site that is a top 10 list of ways to make the nice list.  Most of the things listed on it support the fundamentals of Christmas that I listed above.  The rest of the site, however, seems to appeal to the more selfish side of Christmas that has been growing from the commercialization of the holiday.

The activities on the site seem to encourage the gift aspect of Christmas.  While I understand that any child finds that part to be one of the most important parts of Christmas, I think you could make a website that focuses more on the fundamentals of Christmas while still being a fun visit for children.   

The website also has ways of advertising that are strictly targeted at the children in hopes that the child will ask their parent to look into and/or buy the product advertised.  The company who runs the website, from what I can gather online, is a plastic/electronic type manufacturing company (who I’m sure makes a lot of money at Christmas when toys and whatnot are selling well).  One of their main supporters on the website who gets to advertise there too is actually a company that looks like it is on the same street as the site’s main company and probably gets parts for their product from the main company.

I think that selfishness carries on into their future.  It doesn’t stop just at Christmas.  If someone can’t love and share with and be kind to others on one day out of the year, how can we expect them to love and share and be kind year-round?

Claus.com is available on the Internet year-round.  Some sections of the site are disabled such as email Santa or the Santa spotter, but most everything else is only a click away.  If the site were to uphold the true values of Christmas, it could even encourage the values year-round in this sense.

With the site being available online, it makes it even more difficult for parents to keep their children on or off the site.  Parents would have to watch over their child’s shoulder constantly.  Also, because of the way the website is designed, a parent would have to pour through pages of games and information to realize the site is so focused on the more selfish aspects of Christmas.  I didn’t even myself realize this until I started looking at the site again as a 20 year-old.

Copyright

I thought the TED video about copyright was very interesting.

It made me think of my freshman year of college when my brother posted his first youtube video.  He sent me the link, and I was totally impressed considering he was only 13 at the time and had very limited means to make a video.

It was a video of him singing Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.”  He put all of the video clips of himself together and then played the song over it.  He did a really good job of making his lips sync up with the song lyrics.

At the time, I just thought it was something cute my brother had made.  Now, I realize, he was probably infringing on some copyright laws.  Larry Lessig made this point in the video… These copyright laws are strangling the creativity of our children.

My brother never got in trouble for copyright.  He took the video down after a while (I still have it on my Ipod though.  Its fun to watch when I’m having a bad day, usually helps put me in a better mood).

The thing that scares me about it is that I didn’t even think about it at the time.  I’m usually pretty good about that stuff since I’m a writer and I’m studying journalism.

Our journalism class recently discussed copyright, plagiarism, and (the biggest part of our talk) libel.  Sometimes, especially with the Internet, it’s hard to tell when you’re doing something for which somebody could sue you.

While I believe these laws need to be reconsidered in order to take the Internet and what it affords into account, I don’t know that that will happen anytime soon.  With technology moving so quickly, by the time the laws are revised, it’ll be time to revise them again.  I guess for now I just need to remember to be careful about what I post and what I use on websites online…

Google=Stupid?

Reading Carr’s article about whether Google is making us stupid, I couldn’t help but relate to some of Carr’s arguments.

Over the years, as my Internet consumption has increased, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to read books or long pieces of literature without becoming distracted.  I honestly have worried for a few years now that maybe I’ve developed some sort of minor ADD or something.  There are times when it really bothers me, and there are other times when I can fight through it and force myself to focus.  It hasn’t really affected my grades, so I haven’t taken it too seriously.  I never, though, drew a connection between it and my growing internet consumption.

Maybe the Internet, and it’s utilization of brief pieces of writing, is responsible for my difficulty in focusing on longer reading.  Maybe it isn’t.  But after being a kid who would read 60 books in the two, two-and-a-half months that I had summer vacation, I have to wonder if the Internet isn’t part of my problem.  And it makes me wonder, with my generation (Generation Y) being coined the “Medicated Generation” or “Generation Rx,” if the Internet and our increased demand for short-and-sweet isn’t part of the problem with so many parents medicating their children.  ADD and similar disorders are on the rise among children… perhaps we’re just misdiagnosing “information sickness” for a more serious problem (like ADD) in these children.

While this isn’t relevant to ADD or the effects the Internet is having on us, it is something I thought of as I read Carr’s article… He discussed old media having to play by the rules of new media in order to survive (such as the example of the NY Times re-designing their second and third pages of the front section to be brief news snippets so readers can quickly scan them).  Well, recently for my new media class, I read an article about how advertisers are beginning to incorporate video advertisements into print magazines.  Apparently, this fall, CBS put a video advertisement in the Entertainment Weekly Magazine in a few cities in the U.S.

Maybe its not so much that Google and the Internet is making us stupid.  I think we just don’t know how to utilize it yet.  As for my issues with reading, I’ m going to continue to adapt to reading (and writing) concise pieces, while trying to maintain my love of books (and my favorite book, “Gone with the Wind.”)

Affordance

After reading and discussing affordance in class, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a person who has never used the Internet before.

Then I realized, I was that person at one point in my life.  There was a time when I had never used the Internet before.

I want desperately to remember my first time using the Internet, but I can’t.  Was it with my parents?  Was it at school?  I have no idea.

My guess is it was at school.  My family is usually pretty slow at catching onto new technologies and fads.  My parents like to wait until the price comes down.  I was one of the last kids in my high school to get DSL instead of dial-up Internet.  It took until my sophomore year of college for my parents to get unlimited texting for our cell phones.

But I think its incredibly interesting to think about how these things are normal, everyday activities to me, yet there are people out there who wouldn’t know how to use the Internet to save their lives.  The most amazing part is that I was once one of those people, but this technology has so permeated my life that I can’t remember or imagine living without it.

The use of metaphors makes figuring out these new technologies possible.  I never stopped to think about why the desktop of a computer is laid out the way it is (or even why it’s called a desktop).  The metaphor was so simple and understandable that I never even noticed it was there.  This has made me start looking for metaphors in things I do or use every day.

Books are in fact technology too, as the blog we read explains.  At one time, they were the latest and greatest, but as time goes on, they are being replaced by Ebooks and Kindles and whatnot.  Google has been in the news recently because they want to digitize books for use online.  Actual book-books are being phased out faster and faster everyday it seems.

I, honestly, am not sure how I feel about all of this.

As a journalist, it scares me, as I’ve said before.  I’m watching newspapers get phased out and the internet is becoming the place to go for news.  It takes less reporters and workers to handle an online site than it does to actually print a paper everyday.

As a student working in the school library, I find it perplexing.  I look around at shelves on old books and wonder how it can ever be the same to read them on a kindle.  I look at the microfilm I make of the newspapers that are still printed and wonder what will come of that.  Microfilm was at one time, like books, a biting new technology.  Some of our microfilm is already being converted to digital files. It’s only a matter of time before somebody is preserving the newspapers through scanners or the Georgia Newspaper Project is altogether phased out because there are no newspapers to preserve.

And as a lover of books and reading, I am saddened.  I can’t see myself sitting around my home or on the beach with a kindle in front of my face the whole time to read my books. Sure, it would be nice to have thousands of books at my fingertips in seconds.  Sure, the kindle screen is not backlit so it treats your eyes the same way reading paper does.  But something doesn’t feel right to me about it.  I will miss flipping the pages.  I will miss that brand new book smell.  I will miss the excitement of getting a new book in the mail or buying one at the store.  I will miss random trips to the library to borrow books.   And what about when my mom wants to loan me one of her books?  Do I borrow her kindle?  Will my fifty-two-year-old mother ever decide to even GET a kindle?  I just got my parents into texting not that long ago!

This can even relate to the way technology has changed in the music industry.  We had albums back in the day.  The grooves on the albums were deeper or lighter depending on the sound of the music… the music was incredibly tangible this way in that you could feel and see it on the record.  Then we moved on to 8-tracks, Cassettes, and CDs.  While we were missing the “grooves,” our music was still in a tangible format.  Now, we buy (or illegally download) music off the Internet.  My friends make fun of me when I order or buy CDs.  When I buy music on Itunes, I always burn it to a CD anyway, so I figure I may as well order the actual CD (if it’s cheaper than Itunes) and loading that into my computer and Ipod.  Our music isn’t as tangible as it used to be.

Can we even say any of these things are as personal anymore?  If I wanted to share my music with you in the 70’s, I had to loan you my album.  Until cassettes and everything, you couldn’t record the album I had.  If you wanted it for keeps, you had to go buy your own.  If I want to share my music with you now, you can simply sinc your Ipod to my computer and take songs in seconds.  Then you have these songs forever (or until your Ipod gets erased).  The same goes for books.  If my mom wants to borrow a book now, I hand her my copy.  In twenty years or so, if she wants to borrow a book, she’ll have to read it on my kindle (if I ever break down and get one).  It just feels like the digitalization of everything in our lives is stealing some of the personal qualities from it.

In the end, I just don’t see how my life could ever be complete without the concrete properties of some of these so called “outdated” technologies.  While I know nothing is permanent, the digital world just isn’t tangible enough for me, I guess.  Something feels more permanent about holding a book, crinkling a newspaper, or loading reels of microfilm on and off the reader machines.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe the only reason I feel that way is because that’s what I grew up knowing and I am, at twenty-years-old, becoming one of those elderly people who insist of living in the ways of the past.  Who knows?