Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hypertext: the convergence of contemporary critical theory and technology

Roland Barthes describes an ideal textuality that precisely matches that which has come to be called computer hypertext -- text composed of blocks of words (or images) linked electronically by multiple paths, chains, or trails in an open-ended, perpetually unfinished textuality described by the terms link, node, network, web , and path: "In this ideal text," says Barthes,

the networks [réseaux ] are many and interact, without any one of them being able to surpass the rest; this text is a galaxy of signifiers, not a structure of signifieds; it has no beginning; it is reversible; we gain access to it by several entrances, none of which can be authoritatively declared to be the main one; the codes it mobilizes extend as far as the eye can reach, they are indeterminable . . . ; the systems of meaning can take over this absolutely plural text, but their number is never closed, based as it is on the infinity of language" (emphasis in original; 5-6 [English translation]; 11-12 [French]).

Like Barthes, Michel Foucault conceives of text in terms of network and links. In The Archeology of Knowledge , he points out that the "frontiers of a book are never clear-cut," because "it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network . . . [a] network of references" (23).

Like almost all structuralists and poststructuralists, Barthes and Foucault describe text, the world of letters, and the power and status relations they involve in terms shared by the field of computer hypertext. Hypertext , a term coined by Theodor H. Nelson in the 1960s, refers also to a form of electronic text, a radically new information technology, and a mode of publication. "By 'hypertext,' " Nelson explains, "I mean non-sequential writing -- text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen. As popularly conceived, this is a series of text chunks connected by links which offer the reader different pathways" (0/2). Hypertext, as the term is used in this work, denotes text composed of blocks of text -- what Barthes terms a lexia -- and the electronic links that join them. Hypermedia simply extends the notion of the text in hypertext by including visual information, sound, animation, and other forms of data. Since hypertext, which links one passage of verbal discourse to images, maps, diagrams, and sound as easily as to another verbal passage, expands the notion of text beyond the solely verbal, I do not distinguish between hypertext and hypermedia. Hypertext denotes an information medium that links verbal and nonverbal information. In this network, I shall use the terms hypermedia and hypertext interchangeably. Electronic links connect lexias "external" to a work -- say, commentary on it by another author or parallel or contrasting texts -- as well as within it and thereby create text that is experienced as nonlinear, or, more properly, as multilinear or multisequential. Although conventional reading habits apply within each lexia, once one leaves the shadowy bounds of any text unit, new rules and new experience apply.


Hypertext is text which is not constrained to be linear.

Hypertext is text which contains links to other texts. The term was coined by Ted Nelson around 1965 (see History ).

HyperMedia is a term used for hypertext which is not constrained to be text: it can include graphics, video and sound , for example. Apparently Ted Nelson was the first to use this term too.

Hypertext and HyperMedia are concepts, not products.

Hypertext and my online habits in the past two weeks

Hypertext is "a characteristic product of the late age of print, (and) it is deeply ambiguous." And like "Roland Barthes's notion of text- a dynamic network of ideas, indefinite in its boundaries and mutable over time." Unlike textbooks, hypertext gives a new age of print where there can be numerous web pages posted to a hypertext. Each web page within the hypertext can show you seperate ideas given by the author, through the use of different websites. Not only can each hypertext have many ideas and pages posted within it, but as Roland Barthes's talks about it can be changed throughout time. Where as a textbook can change its text through a series of new editing and publishing, hypertext only needs a push of a button to be changed.

Despite having this mass information within the internet there are many downfalls. My main downfall, that many of my classmates have posted on, is based on the person reading a hypertext and there level of procrastination. With a textbook you don't have many distractions except for the outside world, while with hypertext the internet is a distraction. By having everything and anything online, it is hard not to browse on ebay or music websites before reading an assignment online.

During the past few weeks I have found two new blogging sites I have never seen before. One of these sites is Zooped.com, very similar to myspace where people can sign up a have there own profile pages where they can acquire friends or look for people to follow them. The main difference for me is that the news feed is much more in depth and that zooped.com is a social network specifically used for business, music and personal BLOGGING. its all about blogging

Then I found a site that I fell in love with and I have been using everyday since I joined the site. Its called hypem.com, this site follows all music blogs around the web and based on a certain set of criteria posts the best songs written about on these different sets of blogs. I have already found a lot of music I have never heard of and now im really into it.

Just joined flickr and I love it!!

I just joined this new site most you probably already heard of called Flickr.com. Flickr is an interactive social network connected via the love and passion of photography. What is great about this site is that you can upload a certain a mount of pictures for free and share them with friends all across the world.

Now I know what you are thinking; facebook can do this as well. This is true, but the great thing about flickr is that nearly everything on their website is covered under the creative commons licensing. This type of copyright has multiple variations to it but put simply, the user has the option to put his/her content on Flickr for everyone to use and share. This means you can upload and use it without infringing on copyright law. The crazy thing is that all of people on flickr do choose to put their content up for everyone to use and the majority of the photos on Flickr are AMAZING!!
What does this mean? Because I work in a video production company we are always in need of a great image for a green screen backdrop or for a promo video we might do for a company. In the past, we always were in fear of breaking copyright law by using someone’s photo without authorization. But now with Flicker, you can check under each photo and see what type of CC (Creative Commons license) they have and make sure you are not in violation of copyright infringement. This makes my job a whole lot easier.
Flickr is also great because it is a vast community of people who love photography and will take the time to comment on your work. This is a great way to network with other people and also to get feedback and critiques on your art. Cool stuff.
Ok. Flickr is great. Check it out. It has some really amazing photos some of which I have posted below for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Does online reading "spoil" us?

The way we communicate via written word has evolved. Just like a species that is at the mercy of its environment, so too is text. With the advent of the Internet, written words were thrust into a new environment and the old characteristics that helped it survive in the past were cast away. The survivors left over adapted new ways to deal with this environment and through the process of elimination emerged a new form of an old communication.

One of these new adapted forms of text is hypertext. This type of written word has changed so much, it might even be called a new species of written word. Gibson writes, “Hypertext is not simply more text, or text arranged differently. It is qualitatively different from traditional text and engages us in qualitatively different activities”. For instance, through every hyper link one can not only engage in text but also a plethora of media. One could click on the word “Obama Inauguration” in Wikipedia and be sent to a video of his speech the day he gave it. This creates an entirely different form of communication.

But what does it all mean? Being able to have a vast source of information at the click of a button allows users to browse through an immense amount of information without ever having to leave the comfort of their PC. This information is also available in different media forms that give multiple dimensions to the learning experience. Video, photos and sound create an almost 3D learning environment impossible to replicate in book form.

But above beyond this, the name of the game is speed. We expect all of this information fast and efficiently because of the nature of hypertext. Its very structure promotes speed because knowledge is but a mouse click away. This type of learning experience can be beneficial, but I argue it also has its drawbacks.

Growing up in a generation immersed in online writing and hypertext, I find that we sometimes tend to be “spoiled” with the ease of online reading. Because the hyperlink is always available, we become less patient and are easily distracted, wondering through a vast amount of information without paying much attention to it. This creates in us distaste for anything online that isn’t quick and easy. Paglia writes, “Online articles that sustain reader attention beyond the first page are those… that take the telegraph as their ancestor. Simplification and acceleration are the principles”. This “simplification and acceleration” trains us to intake only the information that is fast and easy. If it is too complex or long, we click back or on another link to satisfy our desire for something less daunting. This form of information intake makes the thought of reading an entire novel sluggish and boring. We therefore intake bit-sized information packets rather then gain a deeper understanding about what we read.

This begs the question, “Is this a good thing”? Although it is hard to make judgments about something that is new and still evolving, I would say the benefits outweigh the cons. Even though reading has spoiled us I do think the availability of such a vast amount of text is overwhelmingly going to help humanity rather then harm it. People are not all “spoiled” when it comes to online reading and for those who still have the proclivity to take in information with patients; online reading becomes a gold mine. Overall, text online opens up a vast amount of possibilities that was previously unavailable and the question of consequence will have to wait until its affects begin to show more clearly.

customized social networking

Social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter are more general, these few websites are based on common interests:


this site is especially for booklovers. Once registered you can create your own bookshelf, take a peek at what other people have on their bookshevles, and also write comments about the books

this site is for people interested in learning a foreign language. you can choose to teach or to learn and connect with people who are also trying to learn a different language

from their website: CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding.

Traditional vs. Hypertext Classroom

The reading for this week focused on the differences between traditional and hypertext classrooms. Traditional textbook classrooms involve learning through reading a particular text. As mentioned by Gibson, scholars read textbooks to engage in a debate about the information presented, whereas students primarily read textbooks to gain entry into that discipline. Moreover, while the textbooks provides valuable information to the student, the textbook to an extent is authoritative. Thus, traditional classrooms are not very interactive. Generally, communication is one way, flowing from professor to student. Additionally, some textbooks do not encourage self reflection. On the other hand, hypertext allows students to read material, comment on it and even take it a step further by encouraging students to come to their own conclusions about the topic. Hypertext often includes primary sources, providing students a first hand experience of the information, and thus leaving room for self interpretation. According to Gibson, many students may not seem interested in conducting further research to answer their questions, but when a body of literature is at their fingertips, students may readily explore the material. Hypertext connects the material, links to other texts, commentary, criticism, and even to other disciplines, giving the students a variety of options to supplement their learning with.

This class is an example of learning through hypertext. The class blog provides everyone a chance to voice their opinions and thoughts about the reading, while leaving room for comments. Everyone has a different way of examining the reading, and thus blogs about something they found important. The interactivity of this class allows everyone to learn from each other. Moreover, everyone also writes about different social networking websites they come across. As a result, everyone else can explore these websites and draw their own conclusions about them. Even though the last section of the reading explains that it is too early to draw conclusions about the hypertext classroom, by participating in a class that provides us this opportunity, we can better understand how the reading applies to our everyday lives.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Internet and My Experience--a learning device or a wicked distraction?

Is the Internet a learning device or is it a wicked distraction? I believe this has been debated for quite some time and I feel I should share my opinion with you fellow moose and to everyone else out there in cyberspace!

Ever since I’ve been going to school, computers have been in or around the classrooms. Computers and the Internet have played a key role in my life, and yes, I know, that may sound sad, but it really is not. I first began to use the Internet when I was in 3rd to 4th grade; our teachers used to show us educational programs and fun applications that we slowly, but surely became addicted to. It was something new! We were always excited to be able to go in to the computer lab and play around, but it is not like how it is today. The Internet as you all know now is not new. It now plays an integral part in almost every child’s life. The younger generation (pre-teens and early teenagers) is now raised on the Internet. Children as young as 10 and 12 years old have Myspace’s and update them daily. They use the Internet in school to learn, but when they get home (in most cases), it is used as a social networking device. How is it in the classroom nowadays though? I know I bring my computer to mostly every class I have, depending on the teacher’s preference, but I use it to ultimately take notes. Yes, I know I do go on the Internet and fool around, but I use it mainly for the classes I take. I know that is not always the case for everybody though. This is why a tremendous amount of teachers are upset with their students who use computers in class. They feel that the students are not paying attention to them, and who’s to say they are actually wrong. Both parties (students/teachers) have rights to do what they want, so there really is no one to blame, but what we do on the Internet outside of class is where the real controversy begins.

People use the Internet to learn things! Yes, it’s true despite what some believe! From watching tutorial-videos on websites to reading informational blogs, people are learning through the Internet everyday. The Internet, to me, is an endless source of information that never runs out of memory. Why would we, as students and regular people, not use this tool to it’s fullest potential. Of course there are people who only use the Internet for nonsense, but it is a place for everyone and anyone who needs information and even comfort from socializing! The Internet can be both a learning tool and a distraction, and who is to say either or is bad? Sometimes we need to learn and sometimes we need to be distracted! In my opinion, you can only judge whether the Internet is good or bad in certain situations. I’d say the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to the Internet acting as a learning tool, but I do agree it can act as a distraction as well. We just need to use it correctly in order to see it in the right light.

So far, over the course of this class, I have been joining different social networks, but I am looking to do more with the Internet because of it. I may be starting up a social networking/Live-stream Broadcasting network site for musicians with a few of my friends. I will let you know as more develops, but I really want to see how far we as social moose and as new age “cyborgs” [haha] can take it. Be well my fellow moose, and I will see you all on cyberspace…

the Internet and learning

According to Paglia, "The computer has literally reshaped the brain of those who grew up with it, just as television and rock music reshaped the brains of my baby-boom generation..." I 100% agree with this statement. We grew up with computers and now they are more important than ever... important enough for a class about them! Every part of our future is going to be effected by the technology that we embrace and develop. If the Web is ever-expanding then by the time we're 30 it is hard to imagine what could be possible. It can literally hold a never ending amount of information about anything and everything. This means that we have knowledge at the palm of our hands. With one click of a mouse we can learn about anything we want. This convergence of the Internet as an Encyclopedia can truly bring together anybody with a computer. Anything we are interested in learning about can also be discussed with people all around the world. We can get the perspective of a colleague, friend, professor, someone from another country, anyone with Internet access, etc.
With the vast amount of information that the Internet holds, it only makes sense for it to be used more and more in classrooms around the world. With hypertext linking one to many different sites about the same information anything can be covered. Gibson suggests, "It contains more, covering the ground that could be covered by hundreds of books in a single hypermedia package." Students no longer have to go to the library and look through many different books looking for specific information. We can now just type something into a search engine and find information a million times easier. Of course there is always the question of figuring out if a website is legitimate. In my Digital Media and Cyberculture class we learned that there are five different criteria for evaluating websites. You have to look for: accuracy, authority, coverage, currency, and objectivity.
Gibson also goes into detail the idea of the Internet vs. traditional textbooks. I believe that this is a tricky discussion. While the benefits of using the Internet in the classroom can be obvious, there are also many negative effects. Without a normal textbook filled with simple words on a page, I think that it is more difficult for students to soak in the information that they need to know. Even though textbooks don't engage students in self-reflection and are not always given an opportunity to question what they are reading, it is much easier to concentrate on a textbook. I definitely think when I am highlighting something it gives me more of a reason to try to understand what I am reading. When it comes to the Internet, distraction and procrastination is a lot easier. In fact, just before writing this entry or whenever I struggle to think of what I want to write next, I'll head over to Facebook. Sometimes I'll be on for just a minute, other times I'll just get sucked in and could be on for as long as half an hour! I also feel as if it is so much harder to read something online. If I have a big reading assignment on E-Res I'll always print it out because I feel as if I need control over what I read.
There of course are benefits to hypertexts as well. Users are able to become authors and linkers. They can respond to the text and question the author by becoming authors themselves. For the first time, students can have some sense of control in the classroom. Who knows how the classroom will change once we graduate, but I'm sure it will definitely be geared more towards the Internet.

Listening to: The Beatles- Penny Lane
As i was reading the reading for class, i came across the name Jay David Bolter. just thinking about it, text has taken a road for change over the last few years. no longer do people have to wait for newspapers to come out in the morning about news that happened the previous day. If need be, you can read about it online, on webzines for example, which publish information and stories constantly.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Web 2.0" Continued

Although this is in response to my article from NY1 News about Web 2.0, I want to dedicate a post to what I have Stumbled Upon. After reading the article on NY1, on the bottom of the article I came across a line of icons I can click. As a result of this class, 3 of the 5 icons were familiar. The icons exist so you can have direct access to post the Web 2.0 article directly to the designated site. The icon lead you to the site for delicious.The second was a link for digg.The fourth was for facebook.The third and fifth icon I was unfamiliar with so I'll share my explorations of them with my fellow Social Mooses now :) :

StumbleUpon is a free service that helps you discover and share websites with others who have similar interests. The more you use our service, the more likely it is that you’ll “Stumble” across pages you like.

Mixx works very similarly to Stumbled Upon.Basically, you input what you're interested in and Mixx prepares and delivers the top-rated content for you from that category, specific group, or tag.

"Web 2.0" Is Constantly Under Revision

One morning, I've come across a clip on channel NY1 news about Twitter with an awards ceremony involved. NY1 News added how Twitter has expanded and how popular it has become. So I've decided to look up if they might have an article about it on the NY1 website. Upon putting "Twitter" into the search engine I can across the following interesting article especially for our class:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"09/18/2008 12:43 PM

"Web 2.0" Is Constantly Under Revision
By: Adam Balkin

"Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, these are typically the types of sites that one thinks of when they hear the phrase "Web 2.0." Though, as you'll find at the first annual Web 2.0 Expo in N.Y., the official definition for what is “Web 2.0,” it is constantly under revision. NY1’s Adam Balkin filed the following report.

“Basically, you're talking about sites that instead of publishing your stuff to the web, invite people to participate in the web. We've got about 5,000 developers, designers, internet entrepreneurs, marketers who come together to figure out what's next for ‘Web 2.0,’” said organizer of Web 2.0 Expo Jennifer Pahlka. “It's the people who are building sites like MySpace and Facebook who are mostly here.”

Friendster.com, the social networking site that helped started this whole “2.0 movement” is also constantly under revision. Its vision now, help to prevent you from having to jump from one place to the next, having to constantly start from scratch on the latest hottest spot online to connect with friends.

“It's going to be more convenient to keep in touch with people to share content, to discover content from other people you may know, and to kind of participate in multiple networks at once without physically being logged in to every single one, every minute of the day,” said Jeff Robert of Friendster.com.

But really what this conference focuses on is taking what people like about using “Web 2.0” technologies on their own time and letting them use those same technologies to be more productive at the office.

“We're seeing companies coming to us to build a social networking strategy within their internal networks that make these young people feel comfortable with their usability and with their executions and actions everyday,” said Jerry Sheer of Sparta Social Networks. “Social networking, in a large company, specifically, is about people connecting to other people who are not in their cube, in their work environment, and in a satellite office.”

And considering a new study by Hitwise, an Internet tracking company, found that social networks have surpassed porn, as the most popular spots online now, it makes sense that big companies are also hoping internal social networks will help employees feel more like part of a community while at the office, rather than just another cog in a giant wheel."
As a student of CBA graduating class of 2009, I found it very interesting that large companies are now inquiring about social networks within the company. I see that as a very bright idea. The employees will no longer be limited to sharing insights with those within proximity of their cubicle.Ideas and possibly innovations will start to surface as employees converse and share ideas with each other, which will ultimately benefit the company. I see this as completely beneficial and I think it should be started as soon as possible. Personally, being a member of Twitter and LinkdIn, I spend a lot of time looking of individuals who have similar professional backgrounds to converse with. I can just imagine what a large company that sets up a network for professionals in the same field to collaborate!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Facebook TOS Response

I signed into Twitter today and came across Professor State's link of an article about Facebook's TOS (Terms of Service). If you didn't happen to come across it on Twitter I'll repost it here on our blog( I hope you don't mind, Professor :] ).

"Facebook's New Terms Of Service: "We Can Do Anything We Want With Your Content. Forever."
By Chris Walters, 6:14 PM on Sun Feb 15 2009,

Facebook's terms of service (TOS) used to say that when you closed an account on their network, any rights they claimed to the original content you uploaded would expire. Not anymore.

Now, anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later.* Want to close your account? Good for you, but Facebook still has the right to do whatever it wants with your old content. They can even sublicense it if they want.

You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof.

That language is the same as in the old TOS, but there was an important couple of lines at the end of that section that have been removed:

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.

Furthermore, the "Termination" section near the end of the TOS states:

The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.

Make sure you never upload anything you don't feel comfortable giving away forever, because it's Facebook's now.

(Note that as several readers have pointed out, this seems to be subject to your privacy settings, so anything you've protected from full public view doesn't seem to be usable in other ways regardless.)

Oh, you also agree to arbitration, naturally. Have fun with that.

Update: Several Facebook groups have formed to protest the new TOS:
"People Against the new Terms of Service (TOS)"
"FACEBOOK OWNS YOU: Protest the New Changes to the TOS!"
"Those against Facebook's new TOS!"

Update 2: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has posted a response on the Facebook blog. A crude summary: "trust us, we're not doing this to profit from you, it's so we are legally protected as we enable you to share content with other users and services." His point, I think, is that there are interesting issues of ownership and rights clearance when you're dealing with content shared in a social network:

Still, the interesting thing about this change in our terms is that it highlights the importance of these issues and their complexity. People want full ownership and control of their information so they can turn off access to it at any time. At the same time, people also want to be able to bring the information others have shared with them-like email addresses, phone numbers, photos and so on-to other services and grant those services access to those people's information. These two positions are at odds with each other. There is no system today that enables me to share my email address with you and then simultaneously lets me control who you share it with and also lets you control what services you share it with.

Update 3: I just found this clarification posted earlier this afternoon on The Industry Standard. It was emailed to them by a Facebook representative and seems to confirm that your privacy settings trump all else:

We are not claiming and have never claimed ownership of material that users upload. The new Terms were clarified to be more consistent with the behavior of the site. That is, if you send a message to another user (or post to their wall, etc...), that content might not be removed by Facebook if you delete your account (but can be deleted by your friend). Furthermore, it is important to note that this license is made subject to the user's privacy settings. So any limitations that a user puts on display of the relevant content (e.g. To specific friends) are respected by Facebook. Also, the license only allows us to use the info "in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof." Users generally expect and understand this behavior as it has been a common practice for web services since the advent of webmail. For example, if you send a message to a friend on a webmail service, that service will not delete that message from your friend's inbox if you delete your account."

I've read people's responses to this post and they completely varied. Some people jokingly (?!) say that they just want to use the photos you posted on facebook against you 20 years from now. I personally don't know how to feel about it. I can't seem to see in year 2100, Facebook intentionally desiring to use the pictures I posted when I was twenty-years-old.Open of the responses from a user OrtensiaCadmium posted the following logical explaination: "That's fairly common language in terms for various sites such as Facebook. While it gives Facebook some far-reaching and scary possibilities, the basic idea is that things you upload may end up residing on servers outside of Facebook's direct control. These broad rights make it so that you can't sue Facebook for some cached content on some other server, but yes, it also means they can sell your photos or use them in advertising with no recompense to you." I must agree with OrtensiaCadmium however I might become a little cautious with what I say. It never hurt anybody, right?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

need a good laugh?

So I just found this HILARIOUS website and I thought I'd share it with everyone just for fun. Be careful though, if you're easily offended I would definitely not check it out. There are a lot of crude jokes and some might think it's too much information!
It's a little bit graphic, but it's so funny! It's random people leaving comments about bad and funny things that have happened to them which leave them to think "F my life!" You can also then agree, their life is f***ed... or vote that they had it coming to them! When I read some of these things I seriously could not stop laughing. Somehow the misfortunes of others make my life seem a little bit more normal.

Listening to: Elton John- Rocket Man

online universities!!!

Pheonix University Online is an online University...sitting here talking to some of my classmates about the reading for today, i realized that this has a lot to do with the reading. i just find it amazing that it can be an accredited University

Psychology of cyberspace!!!

Psychology of Cyberspace!!!

E-mail may be the most important, unique method for communicating and developing relationships since the telephone. First of all, it is easy to use. People also find it familiar and safe because it is similar in many respects to writing letters - minus the annoyances of addressing envelopes, licking stamps, and trips to the mail box. Of all the methods for developing relationships on the internet, it is the most common - and perhaps the most powerful. Although friendships and romances may indeed begin in chat rooms, instant messagin, avatar communities, blogs, or other environments, these relationships almost always expand into e-mail as a way to deepen the communication. It is a more private, more reliable, less chaotic way to talk. Even when other online tools improve greatly by becoming more effectively visual and auditory - as in video teleconferencing - e-mail will not disappear. Many people will prefer it because it is a non-visual and non-auditory form of communication. After all, we don't see people rushing out to buy video equipment to accessorize their telephone, even though that technology has been available for some time.
E-mail is not just electronic mail sent via the internet. E-mail communication creates a psychological space in which pairs of people, or groups of people, interact. It creates a context and boundary in which human relationships can unfold...

there's a lot more to this artiicle but its too long to post on here so feel free to check it out...i found it really interesting, the psychological aspects of email relationships...

PC Advances

After reading the text I just had to check out which this 1960s computer looks like compared to what we have today.

: Computers in 1960's

The computer started being used as a communication tool, which was used for programming, data manager, word processor.

2009 :World's smallest PC

In 2009, there's very little a computer cannot do. The size of the PC does not seem to have much influence on the programs that could be installed in it.

Moose Can Take Virtual Classes Too

Virtual reality is something that never really took off for some reason. I remember my first interaction with a virtual reality simulator down the shore. It was a virtual roller coaster that swayed back and forth in an effort to make you feel like you're actually on a roller coaster.  I remember when I got out of the machine I thought that it wasn't anything special. Since then technology has evolved but I virtual reality never caught on. 

I found Patkin's idea to create Virtual Organizations very fascinating.  The idea of creating this internship game for students could in fact be very helpful. I'm currently on my third internship and I feel like a program like this could have definitely prepared me for everything I've experienced thus far. I had no idea what to expect the first day I interned at Capitol Records two years ago.   

I agree with Patkin when she says that "Interactivity is the critical element in computer media." While being in this virtual reality can be good practice for real life situations, it's critical to try and create human interaction during the process. I see the computer as a way to practice interacting with people in real life. When you're in front of a computer talking to someone else you have more freedom to express yourself.  These types of programs can be helpful because the fear of screwing up isn't as serious.  If you mess up a press release there are consequences in this Virtual Organization, but they're not necessarily real.  It's when you're working for an actual company that this fear can consume you and possibly hinder your performance.  I wish that colleges would look into this technology to try and prepare students for the real world. 

I'm still not sure how I would feel about taking an online course. I have friends that take them at large state school's and they say they enjoy them because they can do the work when they're able to. Dr. Levinson does a good job of looking at the pros and cons of this style of education. I definitely agree with him that these types of courses can be helpful to students, but I'm just not sure if I'd be interested. 

One of the appeals that I didn't think of until Levinson brought it up was the amount of writing involved. He says, "the online class requires actual writing by students if they are to have an online identity and role in the course. Thus, a highly significant subsidiary benefit of taking any online course is that it sharpens the student's writing ability." In a traditional classroom setting, there's going to be more communication through speaking your thoughts rather than writing them. I'm always looking to work on my writing skills so that would definitely be an advantage of an online course. 

I'm more of an old-school learner. The only way I can comprehend what the teacher is saying is by taking notes. I find that I have a better chance of recognition  when I do this.  I also have a hard time reading and fully comprehending text on a computer screen.  Most times I have to print the documents out and read them. My generation has a problem with is too much multi-tasking. One of the problems I could see with taking online courses is not being fully into the discussions and reading because I'll have my music blasting, television on, and I may even be instant messaging friends. When I'm in a classroom I'm stripped from most of those capabilities and I can focus more on what is being taught and discussed. 

I can see the appeal of taking online courses.  It enables anyone around the world to enroll into the University of their choice without having to move or uproot themselves from their comfortable environment.  It also helps that the course takes a shorter period of time, normally 2 months instead of 3 or 4. 

My favorite quote from this reading is from Edmund Carpenter, "Electricity makes angels of us all--not angels in the Sunday school sense of being good for having wings, but spirit freed from flesh, capable of instant transportation anywhere." This totally encompasses the idea of the internet today and it's great ability. 

Listen To Your Friends - New Found Glory 

Reading # 2 - Virtual Reality & Flaming

The second reading was about virtual reality, as well as e-mail messages and flaming. The first two chapters focused on virtual reality and how it can enhance a student's classroom experience. Through virtual reality students can engage in various scenarios that mimic real life experiences. In this aspect, the concept of learning through virtual reality seems possible. The classroom can provide students an active way of learning the material taught. The same goes for online education because online classes can spark discussions among students who may be hesitant to participate in class. Additionally, online classes cross barriers of time and geography allowing students from all across the world to communicate and learn from each other. However, for some subject, namely the sciences, students need a practical application of what they learned in the classroom, and thus online education would not work very well for them. Even though learning through virtual reality has its benefits, what happens when people cannot distinguish between the virtual and the actual? If a student was doing mock interviews in a virtual reality setting, one could assume he or she would be well prepared for the real interview. But what if the student was more relaxed in the virtual environment, knowing that it is not real. While teaching through virtual reality may have its benefits, it also has its pitfalls.

In the reading, flaming has several definitions. While all of them are in one way or another different from each other, they are also quite similar. Essentially, flaming involves some sort of emotional outburst, and is more often than not, a negative one. A few explanations for flaming were provided, but I think all of them are equally important. The internet allows anonymity which results in a reduced self awareness and thus users believe it is okay to behave as they please because the norms of social settings do not apply online. Also, because online communication does not involve a physical presence it is impersonal and people do not have a sense of social presence. Even though flaming seems to be a result of the lack of social presence, one would think people would be a little careful about what they say online because they cannot properly interpret what others are saying due to a lack of physical presence. But then again, that might be the same reason to misinterpret a message and start flaming.

VR and Education... Let's do it!!

After digesting the readings (especially Paul Levinson’s section), I realized how much I regret never taking an online course before. Many of the issues I have experienced with in class education are avoided when learning is taken into the realm of cyberspace. For example, the problem of taking notes while a professor (a better term for certain classes is lecturer) is speaking. I find that I almost always lose track of the class lecture when I am forced to take intensive notes. Being able to view notes, discussions and lectures online whenever I want, enables me to retain information far more effectively then in a classroom setting.
Beyond taking notes, being able to take classes online allows me to participate and learn whenever it is convenient for me. This is very attractive considering I work 30-40 hours a week and live almost an hour away from school. I can’t begin to express the advantages and increase in quality of life I would have experienced if I was able to take classes in the convenience of my apartment.
What seemed to be the most beneficial advantage was the way in which online education creates a sense of community. People taking an online course feel more comfortable expressing themselves when they have time to think about what they want to say. Because of this, students communicate more readily and sincerely; not only to the professor but to each other as well. This type of peer to peer communication in turn fosters friendships. Levinson writes, “Students in online courses become good friends, visit each other in diverse cities years after their online courses are over”.
Think about that! Students are able to create long term friendships without any face to face contact. You might even say that learning in this venue could be fun. If I go to graduate school, online education is something I will definitely pursue.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Exploration into Online Communities over the past week...

Over the past week I have been trying to gain more of an interest in being more active in social, online communities, and yes, it has worked! I have joined up with a bunch of new sites where I can interact with others that have the same interests; in this blog, I will show you some of them and how I perceive them.

This is a website where known, unknown, and aspiring music producers can interact with each other by sharing their tips, knowledge about equipment, and acapella's/instrumentals. People on here are generally pretty nice and helpful. For example, if you had a problem with a piece of equipment you just purchased, and you needed help, someone would reply to you within a day. It is a very active forum and Overall, I give it a 8/10 for the layout and easiness of use.

This is a website similar to Digg.com, but more focused in on urban music news rather than all types of news. You can join the community by registering, and then you're free to go. It is less interactive if you choose to stay away from commenting and the social aspects of it, but that is not what I chose to do. They have a media section where new, unreleased songs are posted everyday, and I choose to comment on them (if i wish) and sometimes get in active debates with people. All in all, it is good for news on music, but I would not recommend it to any of our social moose.

I also joined an acapella and instrumental forum found at Lazy Records. This one is interesting because in order to gain the ability to download public instrumentals and acapellas, you must gain rep. Rep is given to you by people if you stay active in the community. It is a tough process for those who do not stay active, but if you follow up with your posts, it is pretty easy to obtain. 

Those were my adventures for the week on joining different online communities, and I feel they worked out pretty well. I ended up extending my social network online past my immediate friends, and it was not all that bad! I still remain updating on Twitter, but I am starting to give these sites a chance too! See you in cyberworld my fellow social moose.

social networking sites

As I was playing around with twitter, myspace, and other social media websites, I found a few interesting ones:


This website allows visitors who have an Orkut, Hi5, or MySpace profile to access everything in one place. With so many different types of social networking websites, power makes it very easy to access everything without having to go to several different websites. I tried logging on with my MySpace username but they are repairing the website or something like that, so it hasn't quite yet worked. Their website says visitors will also be able to access facebook, MSN messenger, and enjoy Yahoo and Hotmail integration very shortly.

While exploring twitter, I came across a few interesting things.
This site has a map of the world, on which twitter updates are shown. So if you update your status -- a picture of you, and your updated status will show up on the map from your location.
This shows the most popular words on twitter right now and is updated every few seconds.
Through this site you can type in the name of two twitter users and see their @ replies.

It was particularly interesting to find out how many different websites were created as a result of twitter.

This website allows you to create your own social network. I attempted to create a network, just to see what the website provides. You can create your own network, decide whether or not you want it public or private, and then do anything else any other social networking website allows you to do (upload pictures, videos, join groups, blog, write on discussion boards etc). It seems kind of like a yahoo or google group, because you can create your own name, pick you who want to add, but then again, all other social networking sites allow for that too.

Education and Virtual Reality

Online classes are the best thing I have ever used the internet for in my entire life. It gives me the relaxation of not being in a classroom environment while still learning with the rest of the students online. Online education gives the same substance as a formal class by having an instructor, students and a subject to focus around, but in my opinion online education gives a better forum for learning then a traditional classroom. By being in your own environment when learning, you can work at your own pace and base your knowledge of the subject not only on the assigned readings and your professor, but on your fellow peers. Another great advantage is the 24 hour access to your instructor, whereas in a 1 day a week course you have to wait and ask your questions in class. 

With the use of the personal computer no one is subject to not having a reasonable education; no matter your age, career or social status, anyone is able to have a higher level of education. You can take a course online whether if your in another country or if you have a career where you only have a certain amount of time to do work online, IT IS POSSIBLE! 

The only drawback of online education that I agree with is the most obvious, "no Panacea," a person who does not have the will to learn despite all other drawbacks will not learn in an online class. If you do not want to learn, why take the class? I believe that the only people that find online education useful are students with an overpowering drive to learn, because with out this drive there is no one holding your hand, like in a classroom making you participate. This is the exact reason why I like online courses, there is no one telling you what to do and when to do it, everything is based on your own timeframe and your own will to learn. Other drawbacks include no campus activity and the lower level of classes able to be taken online. The campus allure does not really thrill me based on my opinions of campus life, but the fact that you can not learn subjects that you need hands on experience; "ranging from horticulture to ceramic science to surgery."

During high school I took college courses online at my local community college and I only had good opinion's based on my experiences. I was enrolled in three classes online earth science, peer education and physical education, it was the easiest thing I have ever been apart of. The 24/7 access to teachers gave me a feel of one on one attention even though I have never meet the teacher in person. Despite all three of these classes being simple the feedback from my peers in the class were extremely helpful, in each class we had a blog much like "The Social Moose" where everyone could read each others Q and A. My only drawback with the class was that I did P.E online, there was no physical activity, in a class based on physical activity. Other than that drawback I loved online education and wished I could of went to a school where it was given.


A couple success stories in online education in the elementary school level through highschool.


An interesting concept from the reading is Lee's idea of e-mail etiquette and language. I love that e-mail allows us to be more casual when we are talking to others and that we can say pretty much whatever we want without being interrupted. As Lee says, "Like other forms of specialized language, jargon helps create and define e-mail communities, and new members embrace the lingo as signs of belonging." Jargon is one of the best parts about e-mail! Shortening words, using smiley faces, creating slang... it's a great way to express yourself when it comes to cyberspace. One of the first things I learned when entering the online world was "LOL." Everyone knows what this symbol means and it has become a natural part of the language of our generation. Once while looking up internships online an employer even said, "Please no LOL's in your cover letter! YES, it has happened!" Because of the way e-mail and instant messaging has allowed users to be as casual as possible online, when there comes a time for a more formal situation, users don't know how to act! People have begun saying "LOL" when nothing is even funny. Some even say it out loud during face-to-face communication! It has become an internet habit... and an unavoidable one.
The only problem that I have come across when it comes to e-mail jargon is that sometimes you cannot figure out what a symbol means or you are speaking to someone who does not know what something means. For example... for the longest time I thought that XD stood for something. I seriously had no idea what. I couldn't figure it out because I could only see the letters. Then one day it struck me... DUH! It's a smiley face! I never thought about Lee's idea "That is, emoticons are literate symbols with no grounding in oral language. Hence, we read them sideways, in a different axis from verbal text." Now of course I see that XD is a big goofy smile and feel like an idiot for never realizing it before. From now on when I don't understand what something means on the internet I will be sure to look at it from a different perspective.

Listening to: Radiohead- 15 Steps

You are what You Youtube?

So I was reading Professor Strate' blog post "you are what you tweet" and it reminded me of a youtube video a posted a while back. More specifically , it reminded of the comments I received on the video (the video is basically a rap spoof of a Three 6 Mafia song; I posted it on the blog earlier). Most of them were, very nice:

"haha, i freakin love this video. way better than the original. nice editing."
"Whenever I want to listen to this song, I just watch this video. It's much more amusing and fun to watch. Great job! I'd love to see another."
"that´s really great...better than the original....*laugh* !!!!Great.."

But some of the comments were a little personal and vindictive at times:

"if i ever catch one u fags in the street, u gonna get slapped."
"10000000000% faggots you all like big @#$ @#$% and you just wasted my time with this gay @#$%@#$ music video go play with a gun!"
"U want to kno wat i dont understand. White people always say blacks are ignorant but i never seen a vid wer a black was makin fun of a punk or rock song wat eva u want to call it but white r always tryin to make good hiphop vids like if they corny i got a message for ya, stop havin ya head up everybodys azz werin wats der business nd shit nd do wat u gots to do for yo self feel wat im sayin???"

When I first posted the video I thought of it as a silly thing to do in my spare time. But I soon realized that whenever you put something on a public forum, you are sending a message about who you are. Strate writes:

When you tweet, you are not just transmitting information, you are establishing an identity, constructing a persona or self

When you tweet, you are projecting a definition of who you are, and your relationship to your "followers" and readers

Your followers and readers in turn take part in defining who you are, based on what you tweet

In other words, you are what you tweet!

Now I know youtube is a different type of
public forum then Twitter but I think the same concept applies here. On youtube, the videos you favorite and the videos you post create "your persona, your self". But this is why I like public forums. The persona I create there is far beyond what I am like in reality. In reality, me and my friends don't listen to hip hop and memorize the lyrics to popular rap songs. On youtube however, this is who I am. I therefore found the comments not only innofensive but also entertaining because this "persona" is not reality. I feel as if people are attacking a figment of my imagination, not me personally. Yeah for public forums!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Strate Talk on Twitter

This time, instead of reproducing the blog post, I'll just leave the link here and you can click on it and head over to my own blog for some...

Strate Talk on Twitter

Be there or be square!

2nd Man Convicted of Manslaughter in Hate-Crime Case

Published: October 11, 2007

Anthony Fortunato was found guilty today of manslaughter in the second degree as a hate crime and attempted petty larceny for his part in luring a gay man to a meeting place last October, beating him and chasing him into traffic.

Mr. Fortunato was charged in the crime along with two others, John Fox, 20; and Ilya Shurov, 21. They were charged with murder under the state Hate Crimes Act of 2000.

Prosecutors said the three contacted Mr. Sandy through an online gay chat room, selected him as a robbery victim in the belief that a gay man would be unwilling or unable to put up a fight and unlikely to report the crime.

Mr. Fortunato’s lawyer, Gerald J. Di Chiara, said during opening arguments on Sept. 17 that his client would not have made a gay man a target because he himself was gay.

When he took the stand himself, Mr. Fortunato was asked his sexual orientation. He responded, “I don’t know.” Asked what he meant, he said: “I could be homosexual. A homosexual. Bisexual.”

Last Friday, Mr. Fox was convicted of manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes, but acquitted of murder. Mr. Shurov is set to face a separate trial.

A fourth, Gary Timmins, 17, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and testified for the prosecution.

The one main problem that I feel is wrong about cyberspace is that it is anonymous and can be taken advantage of for deception...It is embarrassing because I went to High School with that person. He was a year older than me.

Ashley Madison

We discussed Ashley Madison in class today so I thought I'd post a video of a similar discussion on the Tyra Banks show. 

The T-Mobile Dance

Digg.com = Fun Times

Check out Digg.com sometime. It is basically like youtubes most viewed video section but instead of only categorizing videos it also has images, articles, stories, games and anything that is of interest on the net. What it does with this viral media is let the users rate whether they dugg the it or not. If you dugg the media, it gets one vote. 

The more votes a piece of media gets the higher the rating and the more people get to see it. You can also look at the best in the past 24 hours, 7 days, last month or of all time. Some of the stuff on here is pretty interesting. Todays top post was of Christian Bale blowing up on the set of Terminator Salvation. Below is the audio link. Just click on the picture:

Another fun post that got a high rating is this image. The tag line reads:

The middle picture will haunt my dreams 

Have Fun!!

Where In the World is Cyberspace?

The first part of the reading focused on the many different definitions of cyberspace. The one that struck a cord with me came from Howard Rheingold's in which he said, "the conceptual space where words, human relationships, data, wealth, and power are manifested by people using CMC technology"

When I think of cyberspace I don't think of a physical place, but of a large virtual space where almost anything is possible.  The kicker in Rehingold's definition is the CMC technology. I think that the internet revolves around computer-mediated communication. The communication between individuals in this virtual arena is what drives it. Without people interacting with one another in this realm, it would be useless. I'm not just talking about the human relationship aspect of communicating. Words, data, wealth, and power cannot exist without some sort of communication between people or in the very least other computers.  Even if there is no human interaction taking place, the transferring of information from one area to another is apart of the this CMC technology. 

One of my main complaints about the internet these days, is society's reliance on using CMC technology.  In the beginning of section 2, the point is made that telecommunications were created as a substitute for face-to-face interaction. However, our society has changed the internet from being a substitute to a full fledge alternative.  It feels like face-to-face interaction is no longer the primary mode of communication. People prefer to talk to their friends and family via text messages, instant messages, and email. Cybernetworks and cyberplaces have become more than just alternatives, they have become the preferred areas of interaction over physical locations and transportation. 

My problem with this lack of physical interaction is that it I think it makes us less human and more like robots. I understand there are people who are socially awkward, but when people prefer to interact with others solely through telecommunications, I think that's a problem. Society is becoming less and less physical and that worries me. I also think that all of this information that is being spread through this virtual arena will eventually come back and haunt us. Take Facebook for example. There are millions of college students who have poured their lives out and their most personal information onto a website that can be viewed by practically anyone. Our generation is becoming too comfortable with cyberspace, people are putting too much information into the great wide open. Look at Michael Phelps. No one is safe. 

The Gaslight Anthem - Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Communication & Cyberspace

After reading the various understandings that professionals had of the word cyberspace, I can't seem to agree more with Howard Rheingold. He basically states that "cyberspace is not identical with computer media, but rather is the context in which such communication occurs; nor is it the same as the computer network. but instead is the sense of place created through such networks." When I would think of a definition of cyberspace myself I picture a broad amount of data in a computer, sort of like in the movie The Matrix. Maybe I'm actually not so far off with the name since the word Matrix actually means the sum total computer network of networks. The Matrix is also known as the Net and also the Internet. Interestingly, I never thought that the term Internet was mostly only used in the U.S. and refers to the specific network that has been supported by the U.S. government.
I found the term telepresence very interesting from the reading. I recall hearing it before but I ever actually knew what it referred to. Telepresence basically allows the person who is using the system to act from a distance, which interestingly is used to operate even activities in outer space. The text on Surveying the Electronic Landscape: An Introduction has really opened my mind and eyes to terms I was never fully exposed to but I knew must exist (since I know operations that result from them do).
I was never aware of how many words actually start with cyber-. One particularly refers to something that I must admit frightens me a bit. It is cyberplace. Cyberplace refers to cybernetworks that include anything ranging from a virtual office, school to electronic versions of actual locations. I subconsciously take part in each one of those listed above-- work conference website, blackboard for school, and Google map. However, actually thinking about it reminds of what might possibly happen if this technology keeps expanding. Will the computers and cybernetworks replace human interaction? I may sound a bit old school but I believe these substitutes may actually take over.

Cyborgs, cyberspace and cyberpunks... hmmmmmm.

The first section of reading discussed many aspects or terms associated with cyberspace such as Virtual reality, telepresence, hypertexts, CMC, cyberculture, cyborg, space and time. It also talked about the definition of cyberspace which I found very interesting. The definition that struck me the most was the one by Howard Rheingold. He defines cyberspace as, “a new manifestation of a social space”. I tend to agree with him because it is this social aspect of cyberspace that gives it meaning and in turn, creates its importance. In other words, it is our human interactions in cyberspace that give it existence and purpose.

On another note, I have to admit that a lot of what I read sounds like the stuff of science fiction novels. But, as I sit and think more carefully about what I read, I can see that it is based in reality. For instance, the book mentions cyborgs and humans merging with computers: “Through our sense of personal cyberspace, we may be said to merge with the computer and become cyborgs”. This idea seemed odd at first but in a sense, the connections we are making with cyberspace do indeed change us. For instance, I have a friend who literally sends hundreds of texts all day and writes long wall posts to her friends on facebook. At first, I thought this was just a good way to stay in touch with the many friends she has across the world, but it has now become the only way in which she interacts with them. She therefore maintains many of her human friendships via this thing called cyberspace and it has me wondering how this affects her as a human being. Is she in some abstract way becoming a “cyborg” by neglecting face to face contact and opting instead for electronic interaction?

Another interesting concept in our reading is the idea of cyberpunks and their ideology. This relates somewhat to my friend who is becoming a cyborg (jk). Cyberpunks believe that the “the earth is this incredibly boring place” so we should therefore immerse ourselves in digital cyberspace to escape from our physical bodies and physical world. This is pretty weird if you ask me. I think this kind of mindset can be severely damaging because we start to lose what makes being human so great. If we adopt a world where cyberspace is reality we are living in a world of constant imitation. I argue that reality is far more stimulating then any virtual environment can be. I think cyberspace should be used as a tool to enhance our quality of life, not replace it. In the end, I hope that we never replace our reality with cyberspace.

All in all, it was a very interesting reading. I realized that I hardly spend the time to think about concepts like cyberspace and its consequences... It was an insightful reading.

A world in which cyberpunks had there way (jk):

No sir! That is not for me.

Thinking Differently

The first reading was quite interesting, because in class we started out engaging in different types of social media (myspace, twitter, youtube, blogger etc), without really thinking about the issues that the reading brings up. The idea of cyborgs, the merging of people and artificial systems, as mentioned in our reading, raises many issues. For one, it challenges the traditional notion of the self; Rucker goes on to saying that "neither men nor robots are anything but machines." It makes us think about the ethical, social, psychological, and philosophical issues about cyberspace, and artificial intelligence. I disagree with Rucker, because humans have a soul, whereas machines do not, and thus they cannot be compared on the same level.

Another interesting issue mentioned in the reading was about cyberspace's capability of changing people. The reading provided an example from an article in Wired, of a woman who was shy, wore various shades of gray, and prefered a conservative cut, who created a digital identity that was the polar opposite of reality. As a result of her interaction with men online, she changed her style in real life. This brings about the notion of behavior alteration. Its hard to determine why she would create a persona unlike herself, but it did bring about a change in her. It suggests that the interaction of people through social media is capable of bringing about change.

Mead explains that,"The others and the self arise in a social act together." Basically, the individual self is established by putting together the attitudes of others towards the self, and toward one another through social interaction, as mentioned in our reading. This relates to the story about the woman, because she was able to change herself, based on other people's perception of her. She portrayed herself one way, people started believing that is who she was, reciprocated those thoughts to her, and so she started believing that she was "The Naked Lady." You understand who you are, through your interaction with others. Through any form of social interaction, people gain a better understanding of themselves. This also brings up an issue about cyberspace, and ubiquitous computing that I never thought about before.

Additionally, there were quite a few things in this reading, that I never would have thought about in trying to understand the way social media works, but after the reading the concerns mentioned are quite important. For example, virtual reality is supposed to create experiences that are life like interactions, but what happens when the lines between virtual and actual reality are blurred? This was just one of issues the reading made me think about.

Monday, February 2, 2009

You Are What You Tweet

Reposting this new item from my own blog:

So, a couple of weeks ago I got into a bit of an unpleasant exchange with someone on Twitter (my profile page is http://twitter.com/LanceStrate, in case you're interested). This involved someone who I actually first met offline and several years ago, long before Twitter was even a Twinkle in anyone's eye. Of course it was over politics. What else is new?

Anyway, this person started posting news items about a political controversy via Twitter, and all of the items had a very strong slant, or shall we say bias, one that went counter to my own leanings. Now, I am all for people being free to express their opinions. And of course, that includes having the right to respond to people expressing their opinions with your own opinions and counterarguments. So I started to respond to this person's tweets. (You can send a reply that is still public--Twitter also allows for private direct messages, but that's not what this is about--but coded as a specific reply by beginning the message with the person's Twitter name, which is their profile name preceded by the @ sign. So a specific reply to me would begin with @LanceStrate.)

So I sent a few specific replies offering a bit of a rebuttal--not much in depth political discourse is possible when Twitter only allows posts, aka tweets, of no more that 140 characters--that's why it's called microblogging. And I followed the specific replies by also posting a few items, videos actually, that presented the alternate point of view. This is uncharacteristic of me, to be sure, but I found it upsetting to see someone I know posting items that I considered biased, prejudiced propaganda. This individual did respond to me indicating that he was posting this material because American media is one-sided, and he wanted to see what the other side had to say. This sounded strange to me, since there's a difference between looking at items and posting the links on Twitter. Just to reinforce that point, here are some of the specific replies I sent as this exchange continued. While I'm only giving you my side of the story, my intent is not to win an argument, just to make a point about the medium:

if you're posting one side of a controversy, you're doing more than peeking at the other side, you are advocating for them

Now, you may disagree with me, but the point is that whatever you post can come across as a personal statement. You are implicitly saying, I am ----- and I approved this message, unless you make it clear you haven't. In response to this, I was sent what seemed to be an angry message that, in entering into a dialogue and expressing a different opinion, I was "policing" this person's messages. Given that he considered what he was doing to be his own personal communication, it must have seemed like an invasion, even though to me it came across as interpersonal messages on a public forum. So my response was the following series of tweets:

Policing? Nonsense! Your tweets are public messages, not private thoughts. They're sent to me, so I responded.

Tweeting links that reflect a position on a controversy over and over is advocacy, not "thoughts"

And again, I'm not asking that you agree with me, I just think it's important to understand that one source of friction here is that there are different metaphors in play for what Twitter is, as a medium, for what it's all about. To this other person, it's a blog, it seems, a place to post items of interest to him, almost like a bookmarking function, a form of intrapersonal communication that is left open for others to view. To me, Twitter is an interactive medium through which people send messages to each other in a public forum.

In part, this also depends upon the actual technologies you use in conjunction with Twitter. If it's just something you go to on the web, it remains somewhat distanced, a list of posts. If you receive updates from the people you are following on Twitter as text messages on your mobile phone, as I do, Twitter takes on a more intimate character, and posts that you may not pay attention to as part of a long list on a web page can become offensive when one comes in as a single update on the phone.

Having said that, I do think that this all relates to the seminal work of Paul Watzlawick, as presented in the book he co-authored with Janet Beavin Bavelas and Donald D. Jackson, entitled The Pragmatics of Communication. This was one of the key works for the discipline of communication back when I was a student, and was also required reading in Neil Postman's old media ecology program at New York University. That's where Watzlawick and his colleagues presented their first axiom of communication, One cannot not communicate. The point of that is simply that everything you say or do, or don't say or do, has message value, says something one way or another, especially about yourself and your feelings. They also note that communication always functions on two different levels, one being the content level we are always aware of. The other is the relationship level, where we communicate about how to relate to one another and how to interpret the content we are sending--in fact, it is difficult to know what to make of the content unless we first have established a relationship. The relationship level is always present, but we may not be aware of it most of the time. But it is much more powerful than the content level--relationship overwhelms content, as Neil Postman and Christine Nystrom used to say in our seminar. Bring Erving Goffman into the mix, based on his well known book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and it also follows that along with establishing and maintaining relationships, we are projecting our own definitions of the situation to others, and hoping that they accept those definitions. And we are putting on a performance, playing a role, and in doing so, creating a persona or sense of self.

So, with that in mind, here are some tweets that I sent as I pondered this interaction:

When you tweet, you are not just transmitting information, you are establishing an identity, constructing a persona or self

When you tweet, you are projecting a definition of who you are, and your relationship to your "followers" and readers

Your followers and readers in turn take part in defining who you are, based on what you tweet

In other words, you are what you tweet!

This is the bottom line, because in this medium there is nothing else apart from what you put out there. There is your profile, and there's whatever URL you include, and there's your little icon. Apart from those items, you yourself are constituted, in this medium, by and through the messages you send--they create your persona, your self. In face-to-face interaction, nonverbal cues are very powerful and meaningful, and I can remain silent and communicate a great deal, especially on the relationship level. On Twitter, there is almost no nonverbal communication, it's all in what you say, if you never tweet you don't exist for all intents and purposes (silence then is truly death), so that the messages you send become you, comprise you.

Or, once again, when you are on Twitter,


The Electronic Frontier

One idea I found to be interesting in this reading is that new technologies are creating new types of individuals and are changing the way that humans interact with each other. The relationship between humans and machines are becoming blurred and it is not very clear as to what could happen in the future. While we could work together with machines and increase the use of virtual reality for entertainment or communications purposes, this could create society to become more and more isolated towards the people closest to us. We would be able to talk to those who live far away, but the people in our very own homes would become strangers to us. For example, when I am home with my five other family members I have increasingly noticed that because of technology we are doing our own things in our own rooms. Instead of spending time with each other watching TV or just talking, we are each in our own rooms each on our own computers talking to others or watching a movie or just spending mindless, pointless hours surfing the internet. Even the dinner table is no longer a place where families can simply just talk. McLuhan was right when he said that "the machine is an extension of the body." We have become permanently attached to our cell phones; answering them at even the most inappropriate times.
Mead said that "Without experiencing the physical body a person cannot develop a sense of self." If we sit at our computers or televisions all the time messing around with cyberspace we are missing out on the experiences going on around us in real life and the things that make us real people. Yeah we could experience new things through some kind of intense virtual reality and "life-like" situations, but it simply could never ever be the same as experiencing something in real life. If technology gets so advanced that we are able to walk through the streets of Paris through VR, it could still not even compare to walking off of a plane, out of the airport and smelling the air of another country. Of course I'm thankful for all of the things that technology allows us to do today and am very excited for whatever the future brings, but I can't help but feel a little worried as to what is going to change.