Monday, January 29, 2007

NPR "Second Life"

This radio clip summarizes the relatively new online community of Second Life, a website where users log into a free downloaded program, create an avatar, and live a cyber-life. Weary are the creators and users of others viewing SL as a game, that it is not. User of SL use 'little building blocks' to create everything they see in the virtual world, and can interact with other users by way of instant messaging. Second Life includes virtual real estate, which can be bought using Linden dollars, a form of currency that can be freely exchanged with the US dollar! If I'm not mistaken Adam Pasick, the chief of Reuters Second Life bureau, claimed the Second Life economy is circulating a half a million Linden dollars a day. This virtual reality offers a social as well as professional community that people are "able to actually experience," explains President of Lichtenstien Creative Media, Bill Lichtenstien. "Up until now," he continues, "[these feelings of experience] couldn't be conveyed through film, television, or the Internet." One caller during the segment, Cami, holder of a communications weblog and SL user, told of the opportunity this program offered her to communicate with others around the world. She thinks its a great tool for collaboration, and believes similar technologies will eventually be incorporated into other web technologies to make them more effective. Another caller Connie thought this was a disgusting waste of time, when users could be putting the creative energy they use there into the real world. Mr. Lichtenstien protested by explaining that this was simply a form of media, and better at that than most other forms. At first I agrees with Connie, but after hearing what Mr. Lichtenstien had to say I'd tell her, protest Second Life, and you must protest all media as being a waste of time. Personally I think that this and similar programs could take the academic and professional world to a new level, though I think that some parts, such as buying yourself a cyber-ride might be a bit worthless. The fact that it offers instant collaboration and interactivity around the globe, coupled with these feelings of experience that are all new to media, the usability of this program I believe could grow exponentially. An interesting thing I just heard about last night, that was briefly mentioned in the radio segment, is a similarly interactive web browser. A friend was telling me he was having this all new program for windows installed on his PC that included something like this. I can't wait until I can check this browser out first hand, for me it offers the usefulness of SL, with out the 'wasted time.'

Pasick, Adam, and Bill Lichtenstien. "A Second Life to Live." NPR 24 Oct. 2006. 29 Jan. 2007 -

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Psychology of Cyberspace

In this article author John Suler takes a very scientific approach to online identities and what they can tell us about their creators true identity. He begins by talking about each persons different roles within their life and how "cyberspace offers a niche for each of these specific facets of self hood."(1) This concept was like an alarm clock for me; it's quite simple, but a profound observation that will help me get started on the concept for my personal web page. He moves on to talk about the negative and positive points of one's identity, either cyber or real, and how having a cyber-identity can effect each of them in a positive way. In the next section he relates back to the Wikipedia reading by discussing the degree at which one's real identity could be revealed through an online identity. However, "how we decide to present ourselves...isn't always a purely conscious choice," (4) he warns, and there is a large degree of variance. Lastly Suler talks about how the medium in which one chooses to create an online identity says a lot about that persons true identity. As I mentioned before, this article has really helped ground me in the beginning of my web page. I am going to start my outline by laying out my different roles, then I'll choose which ones I want my site to appeal to. From there I will further develop my original outline to encompass subcategories of the roles I have chosen, and that will give me the layout of my site!

Suler, John. "Identity Management in Cyberspace." The Psychology of Cyberspace." April 2000. 24 Jan. 2007. -

"Online Idenity" Wikipedia

This article provides an obviously very encyclopedic approach to the topic of online identities, but I think it's important to mention that it does not meet Wikipedia quality standards. Upon my further exploration, it seems that the article fails to meet the requirements solely based on citation, linking, and footnote standards, which however important, I don't believe take away from the content of the article. After briefly defining online identity, and its subcategories, such as reputation management, laws and rights, markets, and various uses, the article goes on to describe complications that may arise due to the autonomy of online identities. Particularly applicable here was the section about 'Online Office Hours,' which 'provided a list of purposed problems with such education processes.' I found it interesting that many of the problems we discussed in class about our portion on online courses, were talked about within this section. I am therefore particularly grateful that our professors chose some more reasonable solutions than, fore say using a web cam to provide the lacking visual communication. Another example of a complication I found interesting was that of the Dateline special that targeted online sexual predators. I actually saw two episodes of this special, which I found very compelling. Most of the men apprehended were in a position that, upon being arrested for their actions, caused serious personal complications. For example, many were married or in serious relationships, and one man even held an authoritative position within a religious group. As far as this articles relation to my designing a web page of my own, it offered a black and white view as to what I can create using an online identity.

"Online Identity." Wikipedia. 2007. 24 Jan. 2007. -

"My Website, My Self"

Author Meghan Daum uses this article to explain her purpose in creating this website. She discuses the apprehensions she held in the design process, "if I were a wallpaper pattern, what kind would I be," as well as in the use of her website. It "is a necessary evil," she says, explaining "it is no longer enough for us to present our work; we must now tell people how to read, see, or hear it." In the end Daum offers two witty lessons that designing a web page has taught her; "if I were a wallpaper pattern it would probably not be the patter you see on my site... [and] sometimes you just have to live with the wallpaper you have." More than the actual learning of life lessons, I think Meghan used this format to give light to how people should look at her (and likewise any personal) website. Her real lesson was that her website won't and can't be a tell all end all, and as a writer she used her skills to make the reader take the same lesson away. Although she was a bit deceiving, I appreciate the advice, especially as I prepare to create a website for myself, for which I have admittedly less direction than Ms. Daum. Her article has cued me into not only what I should accomplish with my web page, but also what I should be weary of accomplishing.

Daum, Meghan. "Meghan Daum, Author." 27 July 2004. 24 Jan. 2007. -

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"The Web and The Future of Writing" by Chip Scanlan

This article begins by exploring the wonders, as well as the downside, of interactive multimedia, specifically focusing on Internet journalism. Author Chip Scanlan warns that news stories might loose their personal edge, "too many stories today are written by the telephone,"(1*) and as technologies advance, this problem could get worse. He goes on to talk about the inverted pyramid style of writing that now reigns a total monopoly on journalism, something I learned when I wrote for my High School's newspaper. This concept has become even more important when writing on the web, "we know from several studies that users don't scroll,"(1) Jakob Nielsen reminds us. Scanlan then explains the challenge of using multiple forms of media to write effectively, such a writer must know what will be assumed from the other forms of media they use to supplements to their writing. Online news pioneer Bill Mitchell claims while its "not impossible," such writing "will require extraordinary focus as well as skill."(3) I appreciate Scanlan's skeptical approach to multimedia journalism, as with anything we must look at what will be lost with the development of new technologies. This directly relates to the first chapter of out textbook, "Writing for Multimedia and the Web," which also warns of all the things that can go wrong when doing this sort of writing.

*For this article I have used the three sections separated by boldface titles as separate pages

Scanlan, Chip. "The Web and the Future of Writing." 18 Dec. 2002. 18 Jan. 2007. -

"Bards of the Internet" by Philip Elmer-Dewitt

Author Philip Elmer-Dewitt begins by comparing Internet writing to the letter writing we see in our history, before the invention of the telephone, whose wide-spread use over the century or so before the Internet retarded most people's ability to write. He goes on to talk about the ease of 'publishing' writing (in this Internet era) and the "Darwinian survival principle [that] has started to prevail"(2) because of it, explaining that to make any sort of impact what you write has to be good, but how you write it must be just as good. "Crawford Kilian, a writing teacher at Capilano College in Vancouver, British Columbia [adds] 'Short paragraphs, bulleted lists and one-liners are the units of thought here.'"(2) In the end, he makes mention of the opportunity technology has presented us with, and warns readers to not dismiss "or to underestimate the effect a lifetime of dashing off E-mail will have on a generation of young writers."(3) I like how Elmer-Dewitt begins by outlining the development of communication, therefore explaining why it is how it is today. Instead of telling us (like in the two articles I've posted on previous to this one), the readers, how and what to write on the Internet, he tells us how we came to, and why we write on the Internet. Based on that we can build our own ideas of how and what to write.

Elmer-Dewitt, Philip. "Bards of the Internet." Time Magazine. 4 July 1994. 18 Jan. 2007. -,9171,981013,00.html-

NYT Article, "Yours Truly, the E-variations"

In this article author Lola Ogunnaike compiles the educated opinion of professionals from a wide range of professions on matters of e-mail etiquette, more specifically sign-off etiquette. The overall advice is keep it professional, but make sure its warm and appropriate to your relationship with the receiver. To keep it on the safe side, Judith Kallos says you can "let the other side set the level of familiarity,"(3) something she calls 'mirroring.' I think Mary Mitchell, author of a well-known etiquette book, sums up the reason this article needed to be written; "While on the one hand e-mail encourages people to write, on the other hand it discourages people to write thoughtfully."(3) I think this article should be a memo in every office. Not only does it inform readers of the proper ways to sign-off an email, but it does so by outlining case examples, which for this purpose is a perfect means. This article is directly linked to the theme of our course, Internet writing, it is merely a narrower perspective (by focusing on email sign-offs) of what we are learning to do effectively.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

"A Primer on Electronic Education" by Eszter Hargittai

Author Eszter Hargittai begins by explaining the usefulness and efficiency of using the Internet as a means of communication, and goes on to lay out a digital communication format containing a sort of ethical code. He places emphasis professional etiquette, as well as content needing to be clear and concise. He concentrates on email, but his thesis, and the need for it is echoed throughout all forms of electronic communication. I think this article is great, especially for college students, who like he mentions, must make professional digital inquires with little or no experience at all. However, I wouldn't dub his precise format standard. As a college student I understand the development of professor/student relationships; by the end of a semester, while email to/from professors are still worthy of this etiquette, all of what he mentions including into a message maybe bulk, even according to his code. My Professional Ethics professor, John Corvino, actually sent out emails near the beginning of the semester containing a similar, but somewhat more condensed message. I'm sure, being a professor and an active publisher and member of papers and respectively organizations, he experienced the same problem a Hargittai, masses of email and no easy way to sort for importance.
"The upside of the Internet is we can quickly contact folks without much effort. The downside of the Internet is people can contact us without much effort." (First paragraph)
I think this summarizes the need for an article like his, guidelines for effectively using an effective tool.

Hargittai, Eszter. "Workplace." Inside Higher Ed. 28 Nov. 2006. 14 Jan. 2007. -