Saturday, December 5, 2009


General Introduction:

Take a moment to hang this browser window on the wall. I require that you use a laser to make sure each corner extends properly into space and all sides are perfectly parallel to the edges of the wall. I could only ask for such ceremony because this browser window contains the very portrait of myself. The carefulness I request in putting it on the wall is only the punctiliousness I demanded of myself in creating it.

Each project illustrates a portion of myself. Yet, unlike customary portraiture, which relies on a pose, portions of my person are featured here in motion. ....My blog is my furrowing brow, my eyes pacing underneath...

....Inasmuch as this is a completed picture, it's the evolution of how this picture was built and refined. Each piece marks a stage of growth and detail. Can you see the veins detailed on my hands? Can you see the steps taken across a blog in my writing?

So far, I have a rough idea of what I could so, but I'm hesitant to concentrate on a specific theme, for fear that I'll pitch it for something else. Also, I don't know entirely if I'm going in the right direction.

1. Into the Information Age

I could discuss my blossoming into a reborn digital native parallel to the developments in class. I knew how to use a computer, but I didn't know about these new ways computers were used or to what degree they were so sophisticated. In learning this I have perhaps become a more realized digital native, or at least someone who is more aware of how things work on the digital plane. I think comparing my work with my self-awareness as a digital native marries many concepts within the course including "electronic" and "writing."

While it's not apparent to the degree I sense it, I have matured as a digital native because of this course. My writings in this blog have danced with new ideas and I've marinaded on different thoughts in my obsessive way. My reactions to the class material have convinced me of a change within myself, which I could document in this way through this theme.

2. Beyond the Borg

In my own private reading, I've come across bloggers and editorial writers who explore the lack of individuality on the web. In many ways, the web benefits from unique user input. However, there is a big push in the Information Age to ammalgamate all information and that each respective person should dedicate themselves to filling this knowledge base. A sort of hive-mind situation.

I think it would be interesting, to explore the idea of my own individuality as an online user through the electronic works I've accomplished. In the process establishing myself as an individual human being, writer, and user of electronic media. Such an impression could enhance the force behind my portfolio.

There's much said in my process blog, and in my own work about my place within both the act of writing and writing in electronic environments.

3. Portfolio as a Portrait

I could discuss how my portfolio is a portrait of myself (as a human being, as a student). Each one of the assignments represents one of four "corners" of the picture, or parts of my caricature. Of course, I will have to ask myself, which project is most like my hands, my eyes, or my lips?

However, I think it would be an interesting avenue to explore, if I do decide to illustrate this theme.

This theme dawned on me as being possible because, after all, these projects, these process blogs, this upcoming portfolio are all pieces of a much larger mosaic. If I may be so bold, I'll say that full picture is my very visage!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I'm thinking about revising my blog and the project memo for the webdesign project.

The blogs are still fresh on my mind. I know what material I could add to make them better. I recognize wrong turns I took, and posts which weren't really posts at all. I can add a lot more flavor to the blog in a couple of days with some minor tweaks. My blogs also showcase some of my best word choices and turns of phrase. To not polish the posts for the occasion would be an error.

I'd like to redo the project memo for the redesign of the SEC website because I want to display my competence in understanding rhetorical functions in an electronic environment. While I could create another page, I am afraid I simply don't have the time!

Kimball Response

A electronic portfolio is much like an extensive résumé. It is a selected collection of exploits, dressed to impress. However, because the portfolio is designed in the same vein as a website, it allows for interfacing which is beyond a paper résumé. Considering that it is similar to a website, in making a "consistent" and "subtle" portfolio, it might be advisable to remember some web design tips. While the content of the portfolio can be impeccable, neglecting the aesthetic craft of the web portfolio is like having a messy, blinking résumé.

Like a résumé, electronic portfolios have an abundance of uses. It's perhaps beneficial to electronic literacy to learn how to proficiently compose an electronic portfolio. They could be ways of informing employers, professors and others about our work.

A model portfolio is not only designed to look good, but reads well. Each entry has an introduction which informs the viewer about the assignment within that part of the portfolio. This entry also relates it to other projects within the portfolio. I think this is important because it supplies the portfolio with continuity and meshes together other parts of the portfolio. It gives the entire system a sense of being a whole.

Lastly, a good online portfolio offers an honest self-assessment. It is just as important to present material to be assessed as well as to make one's own judgments about one's work. Don't sell something to the reviewer that you didn't really put great effort into, and at the same time, don't depreciate the value of something you've done well. Also, a good electronic portfolio is reflective. Show that some effort went in comparing your intentions and the finish product.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do You Believe In Life After ... Ning?

I don't know who leaked it, but there are seven members of my group's ning facebook cause. Normally, I would say: the more the merrier. However, in this case: I am not so sure.

Friends of friends of friends' friends, the world is a rather large place. I don't know who else is going to decide Help Rhode Island Read is a worthy and true cause too. While, given my last post, I'm inclined to think most of these individuals will join the group for an infatuation's brief wink, and move on to other things—this entry isn't about that. This entry is about some small discomfiture on my side at the idea of someone outside my group deciding to take this cause seriously.

Was it serious to begin with...?

I can say that the cause page is entirely for this projects purpose. If others desire to take it places, bless them. However, I can say—unabashed—that my tenure on that members list is limited. Literacy in Rhode Island is a concern of mine, but I'm not willing to get involved through an online cause concerning the issue. Nor am I willing to be dead-weight, and like so many others be a member of a cause in which I am not participating. After all, I've already renounced them with mounting thunder in my previous blog posts.

Then, in what regard to I hold the entire endeavor?

I regard this project with a spirit of intellectual honesty.

It was what I had to do to explore this electronic environment, how to participate in this class. Inevitably, when that's done, the honest thing to do is to quit the cause.

Certainly I care about this cause, what stops me from participating online and in real life?

I suppose it's simply my attitude. I prefer to do things on my own. I tackle big issues on my own. If I do anything involving the trouble of illiteracy in Rhode Island it will be in my own life and by my individual conscious effort. I want to make sure my brother grows up enjoying reading. I want to make sure my friend's baby learns how to read so he can be on his way to great future successes. In my own small way, helping to reach these results and others like them, I can benefit the cause.

The mob mentality that concerns facebook groups and causes can be just as bad as if members were free-loaders who only joined to impress the opposite sex. All it takes is one catchy bad idea and an entire group can go about doing something the wrong way, no matter what other alternatives may be made available. This is what sours me to most group experiences. There is no question, however, that I'd flattered if an entire group followed my ideas...

Monday, November 30, 2009


I'll concede that Ning is obviously an important tool. The concept of the SNS is rather interesting, let alone engineering one to one's own design. It allows the sitecreator to put a spin on the social climate within the site. For example, there is an obvious difference between the kinds of individuals and their behaviors on my group's Ning as opposed to a Lady Gaga Fan Club Ning. Yet, the creation of either space involved a single human intention to consort with like minds for some particular purpose.

Even so, I still wonder about the efficacy of SNSes in the "meat space." It's way too easy to type, click and drag one's way into several different groups. Personal conviction is necessary, otherwise the effort to orchestrate social change falls through even with the technology available.

SNSes have this transient effect on people. They'll feel strongly, one way or another, about any group or cause their asked to join or decide to join. However, once this moment of announcing some affiliation is over, users typically are complacent; it becomes an act of hollow association. Still, I don't think this temporary inspiration can be denied. Even the most fleeting spirits of advocacy do not pass without some mention from the user. I think people glean causes and groups as part of impression management, adding various plumes to their rears to vaunt about online.

Participation in the case isn't held as valuable as association with the cause. Some of the smartest individuals can still fall pray to this. It isn't troubling. It's almost the model. In combining the vices of my generation: political apathy, indifference to personal values, and an enduring pursuit of instant gratification, a simulated political move becomes appealing. A no-effort, simultaneous, double-click and "virtually" my peers can claim their ideological superiority or their "concern" for the downtrodden and disadvantaged.

I think things will change in time. My generation will become more politically active. But very, very slowly.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Belated Bit on Boyd and Bennett

(or A Digital Native on Digital Discourse)

My generation doesn't have a political voice, it has a political tweet.

Can a political tweet be taken seriously?

Could the ideology presented in the Constitution, or any country's founding document, be expressed in under 150 characters?

After reading the articles by both Bennett and Boyd, I find myself nestled somewhere in between. I believe very firmly that any ideological conviction, any conviction, should be held out of personal fulfillment and not a "sense of duty." And I will agree if there is one thing my generation is interested by en masse: it is opportunities personal fulfillment.

There is a strange dimension of the internet that allows people to truly express themselves. I've received e-mails which are more telling of a persons character than the lump sum of our casual confabulations. But this is fleeting. The internet is abuzz with countless, meaningless memes which require no thought to delight the viewer. Like Boyd argues, while technology offers untapped potential, it is being spent idly.

Yet, this is true offline. Conversation offline with my peers on these topics is sadly affected by entropy. All too soon is the intellectual rapport disrupted by thoughtful silence which is very often preyed upon by a lurking dirty joke or TV program. However, it might be that I'm such a stunning conversationalist that its difficult to keep up with me.

Granted, Bennett is right in saying my generation's political "voice" is growing online. There are multitudes of political groups on Facebook, forums specialized to certain beliefs (with matching smilies).

At the same time, individuals might never be active in any cause they join. My peers may never think twice about the groups they apply to. People might advocate for things in their statuses but lack the courage to boldly push things forward in real life. What is more, my peers might wear causes and groups like badges on their profile, a fashionable charm bracelet featuring PETA, Obama, Support Our Troops and Stop the Hate. I think SNS use is predisposed to vanity. Like Boyd, I think all this technology can get in the way of actual civic engagement. After all, it's a lot easier to post something boldly onto the news-feed, than defend it over dinner with the same intensity.

Still, I'll agree with Bennett that all this technology is a powerful tool for civic engagement. The issue simply isn't the technology available, but the character of my generation.

I think it goes back to shyness and electronic environments. My generation is very shy about its convictions. It doesn't want to believe in anything too strongly or for longer than a twitter-post. Intellectual commitment-issues and abridged attention spans.

I think things can change, but not without great reluctance.

What did Vonnegut say about terror?

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Discussion Topics

1. Do you remember what it was like to read your first book?

2. Has your literacy improved or depreciated since school? Why?

3. What problems within Rhode Island are thwarting the development of literate high school graduates?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 Blog Topics

  • Parents place in literacy
  • Creative writing and literacy
  • Encouraging a love of reading

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Bri's presentation about Facebook, as well as the reading from last week, had me thinking about impression management as I traipsed back to my room. Although I would be completely comfortable with the class exploring my Facebook profile, I still decided to adapt some things. There were several pictures I had taken of myself making purposefully weird faces, but these, I was convinced, had no place online. There are still several pictures I cannot explain briefly, but have kept up or kept my profile tagged to. In one snapshot, my face is painted and I'm puckering red lips at the camera. In the next, I'm attending a Baptist Palm Sunday sermon with a lunch lady.

To confess: since college, I've taken Facebook seriously. I am not so much the dandified liar I was. Changes in my circle of friends necesitated that I treat Facebook more like a tool and less like an ornament.

When I was younger, and thought I could write the great American novel in a single evening, I produced a separate myspace for my literary persona. I began to correspond with two individuals who I didn't know, and we became pen pals. When they wanted to friend me over Facebook, my perspective shifted. My friends knew who I was, and could see through my attitude online, but these two could only get to know me through my profile. I felt it due to invest a little bit more of myself and apply some discretion with the contents of my Facebook.

Facebook and other online spaces doe not require honesty to real life, as anyone who has faked their age to sign up might know. Yet, if we are not faithful to real life's details, what are we loyal to? Are there other options? One that leaps to mind is fantasy. Facebook can catch the refracted beams of a life we'd like to lead and broadcast that to others. Yet, is this limp mendacity the only alternative? Are there other causes for managing our profiles contrary to the facts of our lives?

One of my pen pals is named Kirsten. We've never met in person, and I doubt we will unless I make extensive travel plans. I only know her from her MySpace and Facebook profiles and our conversations we have using messaging features on either website. We have conversations about sex, sexuality, gender, love and identity. Consequentially, these are deeper correspondences than I keep with most of my friends.

What is interesting about her impression management is that online she is a woman, offline she reluctantly lives as a man. Online profiles allow her to interact with others and exhibit herself in this female persona she has trouble presenting to others in the street.

One might liken it to a shy student in an online class who is more gregarious in an electronic environment. However, a student in such a situation still goes by the same name, the same ID number online as offline. Also, between an online class and Facebook there are many differences, Facebook calls for different interactions and demands different information from its users. Kirsten practices a deft power of... omission? ...reinvention?

There are no pictures of her in men's clothes. There are no pictures of her outside of her house. She has pruned these visuals which don't apply to her true self. I've been writing to Kirsten for at least two years, and I don't know her male name. For both she and myself, "Kirsten" suits her better than her given birth name.

"Kirsten" is her "real" name.

How's that for impression management?!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Response to

"Facebook Science"

I had no idea that there was such a depth of scholarship involving websites like Myspace or Livejournal. Nevertheless, I suppose a wealth of observations about human behavior could be made studying them. And apparently, a wealth of observations have been made. The article raises several interesting ideas, some which mirror my own casual cognizance—and others which I had hardly conceived. There's also quite a bit of history to social networking sites which I hadn't expected.

I was one of the teenagers mentioned in the article whom found their way onto Myspace. By the time I signed on, all my friends already had established profiles. It was only the beginning of high school, yet half of my hometown was already using Myspace. Had this Myspace craze happened overnight or some nonchalant day in middle school? Myspace would interestingly be covered in the town newspaper, the Bristol Phoenix, I think it might have even made the front page.

There was a great amount of time spent on "impression management." I too worked myself silly on accurately expressing my person through Myspace. The freedom it allowed caused many of my friends to do the same. Celebrated vacation photos lined the background of many a page. I myself favored victorian wallpaper. I would tamper with the hues of my backdrops to match the tonal quality of the music I selected for my Myspace space. I tooled around with my picture as well, giving myself blue hair and a wanned complexion at one point. I felt it suited Enya's "Carribean Blue" which I frequently had whirling in the background. The over all effect was melancholy and tacky at once—an uncanny fit for my teenaged self.

My parents didn't like my flamboyant myspace displays. I was asked how I was presenting myself on the internet one day, when the Bristol Phoenix covered the Myspace phenomenon. Bringing up the page, my dad grimaced. I felt a little insulted. Especially because I had seen worse craft on my friend's pages, and my myspace excluded any embarrassingly sexual content.

Who should influence content on these personal pages? Who should a user expect as their audience?

These questions resonate with the legal issues the article raises. I know several people who've stamped big old hemp leaves in their backgrounds and feature blunts often in their photos. Are they protected against any police official who happens to be exploring Myspace for something else?

Do our legal documents give such protection in cyberspace?

Can any country's legal document be effective within the internet? The internet is after all, an international zone.

The article also conveys the trend that most people are more interested in connecting with people they already know rather than strangers. It had bothered me that so many were content to reaffirm their own little cliques online as opposed to actually networking and getting to know people they weren't friends with. I got to know a couple people who were in my graduating class a lot better from simply branching out.

I have noticed that people want to connect with certain groups. They want to network with all their old high school friends, and the individuals they encounter in their classes. Sites like facebook allow for these beneficial interlinkings to be managed. It is alarmingly easy to pass information among different individuals. This is perhaps why rumors can spread so quickly through facebook, all the same people become involved with one-another's secrets.

Five Interests

  • Advocacy of Creative Writing programs
  • Children's literacy
  • Gay Rights
  • Resistance against animal rights coercion
  • Awareness and resistance against abusive relationships

Monday, November 9, 2009

Late Blong Entry No. 3 "Post-Project-Process-Post"

I really don't know if I did a good enough job remodeling the landing page through Google sites. I know for a fact that it is certainly better than what was originally designed by the Student Entertainment Committee. Initially it was unclean and tough to read.

I think I could've tidied up a bit farther. There might have been ways to make the text more aesthetically pleasing. The alignment, although constant, seemed a little at odds with the alignment of the navigation bar. Try as I might however, I couldn't seem to change that.

I wonder if a change of font could've made things visually improved. Or, if a different color for the text would've suited the Meeting Times page better.

I will, however, acknowledge the things I did do well.

I alphabetized the various subcommittees. Before they seemed to be stacked on top of one another without any real association. I also tried to account for the accurate meeting times. On the original SEC page, there were at least two sets of different meeting times for each committee. Knowing a couple of people on the SEC, I was able to check a few of the meeting times, but not all of them.

I wonder if the bulleted system I chose to display the information in did any justice to the information itself. Would it have been better to format it some other way?

While I do not get a chance to revise this project, I will be thinking about these things when I redo some old enthusiast blog entries and write some new ones.

Late Blog Entry No. 2 "E-Volution"

What's in a name? Plenty.

The group of students my group members and I peer reviewed redesigned a website devoted to creationism under the guise of "E-Volution Design". I thought this wasy deliciously clever, but perhaps in ways which didn't dawn on them. I am sure that the name was a sardonic jab at the web-owners. A creationist website done so poorly it needed an "e-volution" of its own. This is in and of itself amusing: the creationist web page is perhaps a leading counterexample against "intelligent design"...

Yet, I find this semantic situation goes even deeper.

"E-volution" like "e-mail"...

E-volution is, seemingly, the state of a dynamic internet. Without a doubt, the web is changing, the way sites are managed is changing. Things are with some speed becoming more sophisticated. It is as if the various species of website are evolving. However, evolving into what? and for what purpose?

Organisms grow to adapt to their situation. They produce features through subtle mutations to see what works and what does not work to aid in their survival. Webpages also adapt, but the environment that they respond to happens to be more volatile than the most inclement regions on Earth: human interest.

Human interest is what drives investments of time and money into webdesign. Inevitably as new ways of presenting material through various media emerge, it is human interest to keep up—or be left behind. Sites that do not update their features are obviously less favored by web-users in comparison to those webpages which do update.

Websites which are maintained find ways to stay on top of web developments and become easier to use as well as deeper and broader in their functions. It is arguable, I suppose, that advancements also allow websites to deftly specialize for a given purpose.

Expectations change as both usage and utility change. One way or the next, each new change redefines the whole, each new step becomes the popular dance. People anticipate certain things from a website that they wouldn't have a decade ago.

Websites are stretching human ingenuity. A muscle, which I think, grows from its tears—provided it gets some rest!

Late Entry No. 1 "The Google Empire"

Google sites is yet another extension of the services the web server Google offers. It boasts an extensive translator (Bulgarian, Polish, Serbia, Farsi are among the languages convertible to and from English), Google Docs is at this point unrivaled in utility, and Google has recently grown the stones to design a web-browser.

For some, Google seems like a monstrous octopus waiting to consume the web. However, this is far from the case. If Google is expanding so rapidly, it is a sign it is so thoroughly threatened. Competition in the market place both of dollars and ideas is the cause for Google's growth. If it didn't grow, it would turn into cyber-dust.

"Don't be evil" is the "informal" slogan of Google. And I think this is greatly overlooked by the sadist soothsayers predicting a grim-googled future. A future where Google is the sole web tool for everything, and Google itself has power over what users see and what users don't see...

I do not think this is an accurate prediction of the future.

Through Google I've done many things. I've learned how to say "I love you" several different languages. I've learned about the likes of Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker with Google's help. I would never have known their names otherwise.

Looking at Google's web-building tool, I doubt that Google has what it takes to dominate the world of information. Namely, it doesn't have the desire to. Google is not this entity which pervades all facets of the internet, it is a tool and a group people. It is both the people who invent the tools and the people who use the tools. With this in mind, those colorful letters inviting all worldly and otherworldly inquiries is less a smug simper and more a friendly smile.

What becomes of google remains to be seen. There are already creatures like Wolfram on the prowl which might make Google look like a search steam-engine.

Yet the goal is not to dominate knowledge. It is to disseminate, create and share knowledge all the faster.

The goal then is not to fear the future, but to embrace it. We will be all the better for it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Google, Google, Google

Google sites is an excessively limited tool. Sophisticated, original designs aren't necessarily possible outside of the basic templates. I feel like Google has already told me how to make the website and I'm just filling in the blanks. It can definitely do the trick though. The Student Entertainment Committee's site is so wanting that anything would be an improvement. I'm sure that however limiting Google Sites is: a simple redesign can effectively include the fixes to the many problems with the SEC's current page.

I've used similar webtools before. O! memories.

My first website was built on Maxpages, a seedy little webhost. The gimmick is their thousands of free applets. Terribly basic java scripts which produce unnecessary effects or diversions which should never be featured on a proper webpage. Yet, it was (and still is) free.

It's interesting how far free website-building tools have come. When I used Maxpages, it was terribly difficult to get by without knowing some html. Precocious in my youth, I had a couple of kickers at my disposal. I could add images, links and scrolling text without inciting the advertisements which came using Maxpages' tools.

This irked my friend and website rival at the time.

He and I had built two respective websites for our pokemon action figures. They would come to "life" online. We'd each ante-up each other with how abstruse and absurd we could make our pages. Of course, that wasn't the mission objective. It just seemed natural to expand the site into page after page of dizzying, pointless applets and text for text's sake if you wanted to make your site bigger and better. I simply had more annoying tricks at my disposal. He took notice. One night through AIM he sent me a recording of him singing "your website stinks" to "Gloria Excelsis Deo"...

It's interesting how the internet and other electronic technologies are effecting my generation and how much it has truly been a part of our youth. What will be the next generations electronic inheritance?

How complicated will the webtools of the future be?

Will my generation shrug just our parents at the mentioning of some new means of expression across wire and wi-fi?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Pointless Sites is a website documenting the existence of eponymous web pages. I chose this website as an example of a website done well. The main-page summarizes the entire endeavor quickly, and boasts a felicitous, though arbitrarily labeled, navigation bar. There is always a way to get from one page to another, and back again to the home page. The color scheme is consistent, and the lists of pointless websites are similarly organized, regardless of their category. While some links don't work, as pointless sites tend to die quickly, the website is updated with some frequency. One of the features which kindled my preference was that clicking the links opened up independent tabs in my browser, allowing me to open as many pointless sites as I wished but still reference the list itself. is certainly a website, though that is all which can be said for it. I chose this website as an example of a terrible website. I have no idea what it is about. The only discernible pages, like "News" offered nothing but a blinding array of animations and, what I believed is termed "mystery meat navigation." The other pages on the site are immensely confusing, but enjoyable if you have a surrealist's sense of humor. The homepage has no distinguishable menu other than a matrix of moving pictures while incoherent sounds fill what could be otherwise pensive silence. Perhaps this is an excellent website if the web designer was going for the W.T.F. factor.


The Palmquist chapter was illuminating.

I think most of my generation has assumed many of the things in these articles from all the websurfing we've done. However, it has never been put into words so succinctly. Withal, the clades of organization shown are highly optimistic and general. Most websites are some unholy combination of structure and chaos. I think this is because websites are constantly expanding, and while the homepage and popular pages may be maintained, other pages fall to obsolescence.

I had been thinking about the spread of pages.

Palmquist turned my mind to some thoughts...

It's much like one of those "choose your own adventure" novels you pick a textual representation or some other facsimile, and you go on a different path. There is a "narrative" function to links, a cascade of sites--like chapters--with some consonance to each other. However paperback choose-your-own-adventure novels eventually come to some end based on the reader's decisions. Websites involve turning back and forth between pages without any final destination in mind per se. But! websites lack a "resolution": Wikipedia can be used to no end; I can surf the forums of to no end.

What is the website then? A tangle of information laid out for a reader?

Websites display and organize information for diverse readers; the readers come to the websites on their own free will for varying occasions.

Is there a universal theory which unites all websites? What does each website achieve in common with other websites?

Websites come from free-reacting minds. Spontaneously or assiduously constructing tethered "pages" of a complex "pamphlet."

Is a website a collection of pages? If so, is an orphan page technically a website of it's own?

Where does one website begin and another end. If a website is interlinked with other websites this can be an issue. Should it go by web domains? There are websites I've seen which extend into several all owned by the same individuals. Should it go by ownership? This blog is rightly Bloggers'. Should it then be defined by content creation? Then any advertisement intermittently owns a percentile of my blog, my myspace, my facebook page...

What authenticates ownership of a website? If a website is a group of cohesive pages, than is an orphan page, technically, outside of the creator's "sovereignty." Obviously not, one writer can author several websites, but if the line between one website and the next is awfully bleared, it is difficult to decipher a good definition of what the author of a website is.

Is ownership of a website the same as authorship of a website?

Is a website's ownership defined by who can edit the content?

This makes more sense. While the ads on my page exist, they do not directly affect the composition of these words, or any other content I--me--the writer--the entity which writes may include. Yet, this definition alone is not good enough for me. I do not "own" my wikitravel article.

So: can it be said "the owner of a website is one who can, and does, edit and create content as well as direct the purpose of this content." In this way, authorship and ownership are concentric to each other, one in the same; this, I think, is right.

After all, I can edit Wikitravel all I like, I don't "own" it because, unlike this blog, I do not have hold of the reigns. I cannot direct that content in any other direction. I do not orchestrate its purpose. Whereas here, I do: I am in complete control of content and it's scull, and I sail on!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Another project down.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to grasp the markup in time. I'm still curious about all the possible mistakes I've yet to catch.

Information ecologies remind me of houses. While the rooms are different, how they are supported is much the same (every couple of feet you put a place a stud in the wall; the trusses beneath the floors to hold the weight). In the Wikitravel information ecology, information is supported by a particular formatting. Without this meticulous attention to detail, the structure will fail and become an anarchic display of information which simply makes no sense.

It's interesting to note that all the information in the world could be at your figure tips, but if it isn't organized properly, it's of no use whatsoever to you.

A little like the Library of Babel, no?

I definitely did not enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the blog project. However, this project introduced me to a new realm. In the future, it seems one's writing skills will only be as good as the way one can apply them to an information ecology. Yet, considering all the formatting that goes on with writing, in publishing, academics, journalism, it is more likely that the aforesaid has always been the case.

Indeed, being a good information architect effects writing in any environment. While organization has always been important to my writing, I've never looked at my writing through the lens of information architecture. I'm sure with this new focus I will sharpen my writing skills all the finer.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to this next project.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Markup March

Having overlooked the markup in my last post, I've had to rearrange all this information accordingly. It's not terribly hard, the Wiki markup is fairly easy to understand, and in many cases you can just copy some other entry. However, whoever worked on my hometown, Bristol, did not follow the markup entirely, and I will have to correct some of the mistakes.

As I've been working on this project, I've actually gained a new perspective on my hometown. I had a terrible time of High School, and absolutely loathed the stagnation of my teen years. In part I, like many teens, blamed it on my setting. "Bristol" became this entity which kept me down. Growing up, you tend to take the scenery for granted, partly because you're being barraged with so many changes in body, mind, and spirit. It seemed to me that there was nothing to do in town. Nowhere to go, nothing to see.

While my smalltown blues have long since vanished, I was still apprehensive about choosing Bristol as my Wikitravel destination. I didn't think it was interesting enough. The greatest examples of my hometown are all the off-color stories of people I know. Withal, traversing town in my memory and thinking over all the nooks and crannies, I really stumbled upon things that make my hometown unique.

Also, I encountered numerous old haunts of mine, as well as new places or places I've known of but never went to. Now it seems, there is plenty to do in Bristol, and I ought to make up for lost time this summer. You could spend an entire day downtown, floating between the boutiques and restaurants. It is not the Bristol I knew from my adolescence. Indeed, it seems like a much better place to spend my Summer interludes away from college.

I'm excited to rediscover my hometown.

Writing the Wikitravel article has put everything in a new light.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3 Potential Posts

See/Do (it is potentially a "Do" article)

The Fourth of July Parade

Bristol’s annual parade on the 4th is one of its oldest celebrations. Since its start in 1785, the parade has grown both in scope and popularity. The parade route takes place on Hope Street, the only street in the United States where the traffic lines are painted red, white and blue--year round.

The parade takes place on the morning of July 4th at 10:30 A.M., though you might arrive a few hours before and you can leave at any time. The parade takes place downtown on Hope Street, beginning at the corner of Chestnut Street and Hope Street and eventually ending on High Street.

As early as the night before, a parking ban goes into effect, and some three hours before the parade begins surrounding streets are closed off from traffic.

It is beneficial to have friends or relatives in town, and neither are hard to find in Bristol. Parking spaces can be difficult to come by unless one has a friendly driveway. There are parking lots available downtown, however they fill up rapidly and it may be walk before you find a place to sit down.

Be sure to bring your own chairs, or a towel to lie down on. Arriving early insures having somewhere to sit. Spaces on either side of Hope Street are quickly populated. You can choose to set up your seats in the morning some hours before the parade. Bristol’s Fourth of July committee sees to it that materials placed on the parade route before 5 A.M. are confiscated, but any time after that hour is fine.

Along the parade route food and non-alcoholic refreshments are available from various venues, Dells Lemonade being a crowd favorite. Although, there is nothing against you bringing your own food and drink (but alcohol is absolutely prohibited). There are also venues to by souvenirs, balloons and other festive treats. These venues can be found set up along the sidelines of the parade route, though they can be some distance from your seat.

Many of the parade’s divisions are devoted to patriotic displays and reverences both past and present, but it doesn’t pass by like a longwinded history lesson. You can expect a colorful and lively experience for both the eyes and ears. Several groups, organizations and bands from all over the country perform among the towering floats based on the various themes of the year’s parade. A blend of drum and bugle corps from all over the country march and play in this historical celebration as well as Bristol’s very own Mt. Hope high School Marching Band. Political figures as well as Elmo have been spotted walking in the parade.



Haffenraffer Museum (here I will include the Museum’s actual website, the link on the original Wiki goes to a website written completely in Japanese and has nothing to do with the museum)

The Haffenraffer Museum has been known for its historical, cultural and anthropological exhibitions of artifacts from all over the globe including the Americas and Africa.

The museum, as initially built by Rudolph F. Haffenraffer and later expanded, in Bristol has unfortunately been closed to the public. The building inadequately met fire standards as well as suffering from an outbreak of mold. The site of the museum in Bristol is being converted for storage purposes solely.

However, an exhibition from the museum’s collection can be viewed at Manning Hall on Brown University’s campus located in Providence (link to Providence).



(many present items in the article have websites, I will endeavor to provide the links editing the original post. I include initial material in parentheses)

(DeWolf Tavern, 259 Thames St., Phone: +1 401-254-2005. Reservations suggested.) [I’ll add:] Esquire Magazine lists the DeWolf Tavern as “One of the 20 New Restaurants in the US”. Offers high-end seafood dishes and presents an extensive wine list.

(Papa Joe's Wrap Shack, 567 Hope St., Phone +1 401-253-9911. Pizza and wraps. Inexpensive.) [I’ll add:] Small and limited seating arrangement.

Tentative listings (I’ll need to do some homework to give some accurate price ranges):

Bristol House of Pizza (link to their website), 55 State St., Phone: 401-253-2550. Pizza, pasta, salads, grinders, club sandwiches.

Classic Pizza, 390 Metacom Ave., Phone: 401-253-1871

Pizzawave (link to their website), 400 Metacom Ave., Phone: 401-253-8811. Pizza, pasta, steak, seafood. Located behind a Blockbuster, not necessarily visible from the road at a glance.

The Daily Scoop (link to their website), 446 Thames St., Phone: 401-253-2223. Ice cream, smoothies, desserts.

Beehive Café (link to their website), 10 Franklin St., Phone: 401-396-9994. Pastry, smoothies, coffee, tea, all food freshly baked in-house. Limited seating; balcony views.

Ricotti’s, 11 Gooding Ave., Phone: 401-253-1614. Sandwiches, pizza, broccoli pies. $5-$10

Zelia’s Diner, 20 Gooding Ave., Phone: 401-253-4041. Breakfast and lunch. $5-$10

Three Tips from “the Manual of Style”

The first tip I would keep in mind is the list of Words to Avoid. Wikitravel writers may have fantastical impressions of where they’ve been, foggy memories, and plenty of fire to write about their favorite travel spots. However this is a recipe for a noxious wiki, poisoning the information ecology of Wikitravel with indefinite and/or verbose language. Wikitravel requires hard, precise language, flowery adjectives and fuzzy qualifiers are the stuff of memoirs.

The Words to Avoid list is certainly to be followed literally, but it ought to be taken farther than just the words on the list. Just because a word or a phrase is not on the list, it is important to remember that other words and phrases which commit the same wrongs are out there. These too are also to be avoided. If one cannot remember anything about the museum than its “lucrative elegance” than one might rather not mention it at all. Long transitions or big words where a smaller one will do should be avoided too. If one cannot be quick, trim and specific with their choice of words, one cannot be a Wikitraveler.

The second tip would be to remember that Wikitravel is interested in lively writing. The Wikitravel writer could forget this what with all the restrictions and regulations made on content and wording. It’s important that the writing, despite the various sieves and revisions it must go through to be worth posting to Wikitravel, is sprightly. There is room for humor in an article, provided it’s tasteful. Writing can be conversational, and information, the writer may even address the reader with “you” yet the article, unlike a conversation must be purposeful and precise.

Lastly, the third tip I think worth notice is: observing Wikitravel’s organization, as outlined in the “Where you can stick it” entry. One of the most important aspects of an information ecology is its organization. If there was no uniform means of organization, no categorically applied method, the information ecology would lack all structure and collapse.

Yet, let it be understood that this is not an attack on the creativity of Wikitravel writers. A proper metaphor would be, an architect is given a rough idea of what his clients want him to design, waters facing the bay, a big front door, etc.; Wikitravel is telling information architects how to build them a fortified article.

Keeping things in cadence with Wikitravels means of organizing ensures a long and fruitful career as a Wikitravel writer. Writers ignorant of the system could compose brilliant articles, but nevertheless: it wouldn’t be what Wikitravel needs. Inevitably those brilliant articles would be cannibalized by other writers who follow the set code. They may very well write dully, but can claim the prerogative of erasing or editing one’s articles which don’t fit the mold.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bristol or Warren or ....?

There are two areas I could focus on that I know best of all. Bristol, at the top of the list, and Warren, a close second. I know them like the back of my hand; they’re so small they could fit there as well.

Yet, as I said before, do I have the eyes of a traveler or a townie? Which is more beneficial to the travel reader? My hometown’s wiki needs a lot of work, but I’d certainly be up for the challenge. I know a little bit more about area, having lived there for a long time. I know where to eat, and unique points of interest, like this or that café. While, Bristol has made a name for itself with its historic Fourth of July Parade, I think there are reasons to go there in Autumn, or in the early Spring. Bristol has museums, and if you reside their long enough you might pick up some Portuguese.

Warren is a little more intense than Bristol, but is the smaller of the two towns. Warren has several unique restaurants and commercial venues in its downtown area. There’s the occasional quahog festival, which is worthy of note: it is the state mollusk, is it not? Warren is also home to the initial site of Brown University, then called “the College of Rhode Island.” The initial building was burned down in a raid, however, in 1778. That is also interesting, yes?

The initial wikis for both these towns I’ve spent so much time in between are absolutely barren. Any trivia I’ve absorbed over the years and can type up would be a benefit.

Perhaps if I observe more pages on Wikitravel, I’ll be able to perfect the voice which works best for describing Bristol, or Warren: a stone’s throw away, but a little different.

Picking a third location would be a stretch. Providence? Barrington? I don’t know enough about these places, but I know what makes them worth the drive. Then again, why I go to Providence or Barrington might not be the attraction someone pursuing through Wikitravel is looking for.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Wikitravel is reminiscent of Wikipedia. Yet, it specializes not in the specifics of a place, but in the allure of the place as well as useful information while residing there. The major is distinction is that Wikipedia offers a history of a place, its population, spoken language, currency and etc. Wikitravel offers you why to travel to such a place, and how to go about doing it to your greatest benefit.

It's interesting how there is so much that cannot be covered at once. And just as Wikitravel sprang from Wikipedia, another thing could spring from Wikitravel, perhaps only dealing in native folklore or tourist shops.

I caught my own hometown's page, Bristol Rhode Island. Sadly it wasn't filled in all the way. I was wondering if I could complete it. But, I don't think I could. I have the eyes of a townie, not a traveler; which has cued me into the peculiar perspective necessary to Wikitravel well.

Reading the rules, it was nice to see website administrators lay down the rules. I especially liked the attention given to user pages, and how they shouldn't become "my cat websites." A website, no matter its purpose, can fall apart if there aren't any substantial rules for the decorum of its users. Of course, I'm not advocating any restriction on the total freedom of any web user, but certain websites need certain rules, I'm glad to see Wikitravel understands this. Perhaps the administrators learned the hard way?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Problem of Pictures and Posts

I don't know what suitable blog length is.

I keep trying to bridge this gap between writing essays and making posts.

When I wrote in my own livejournal, I had the same prolix problem. I would write beautiful entries, but they'd reach a length when I would sometimes wonder if people made it through to the end. As a friend of mine once said, "you write really well, but I never read them all to the end," and added a little laugh. However, I don't know how to divvy up my thoughts in a way which is any more brief. I don't want to condense myself so much that I lose an important logical step in my thinking.

I wonder about the quality of my posts as well. Twilight is so intensely vapid. Once I get over how shapeless Bella and Edward are, I imagine I can emerge into a new area. Once I begun discussing how they interact, and the impressions that a critical-thinking reader might derive from the text, I might revive what I feel has been dampened. I hope I am keeping in tune with my mission statement to deliver intelligent reasons against the book and not fiery complaints. Complaints are impotent, clever argument is beyond powerful.

Pictures present a problem, because I normally never use pictures in my writing. I know visuals would be an asset to my longer posts... but how much of one?

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

I am not satisfied with my blog posts thus far.

I keep noticing things to revise, and things to take apart and rebuild. But, the assignment is due in less than an hour. It will have to serve as is. I'll quell my perfectionism for a day or so, but the moment I have time, whether over the weekend or in between classes, I will be working on this blog. I want it to be something I'm more than proud of, I definitely have the potential to take it to that level.

With the time between now and when the next eight entries are due there ought to be massive changes to these first four entries. Even though, there is a chance that I might find I've done very nice job already and leave some things alone. Sometimes however, I've already hit my stride and I don't realize it. And there are parts of the blog I'm very proud of, I especially enjoy my second post.

Time is definitely a leading issue as applies to quality. I like to very slowly build up my posts on another word processor where I can see each paragraph and roughly each word. I can change their order and rearrange the sentences until I have something much more polished than before. But, the downside is, this can take hours. I've spent so much time rearranging things that I might have stolen time away from writing down other ideas. I would like to go back and find these other ideas, if they are there, and compare them with what I've already posted. If they are comparatively better, I might tweak the old posts. Or they could go in new posts all on their own.

Either way, I am excited to keep going with this blog. I enjoyed writing it very much.

I wait with bated breath for the next assignment...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pitch the Pictures? Shorten Posts?

How can I make my blog more readable? Last class my group members discussed how long some of my posts were. They recommended making my entries somewhat shorter in the future, or if they were too long to add pictures. I would like to add pictures, but I am unsure of the copyrights on pictures which float around the internet. I don’t know what pictures are free game, and what pictures are not; could it be that as an unpaid, non-profit blogger, I can use any picture I choose? I don’t want to try my luck. And I don't know if shortening my posts is cheating my readers out of a good read or making a good read better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So, Now What?

A person can benefit greatly through sound literary analysis. Turning over the symbols and metaphors and discovering connections, even if they are debatable, at least encourages the reader to think and rethink. People who dislike both the book and the film can use my insights to enhance their perspective as well as fans who might be horrified to find they agree.

I’m well-read, and a bit of an outsider: this is why I ought to be listened to on this subject matter. I can use my own gender-bending objectivity as a foil for this culture that mutely abides by rules which trivialize both sex and the sexes. I can use my knowledge of other books to announce Twilight’s inferiority as a novel to the world as a statement of fact.

I intend to gain my audiences trust post by post. I want to build a relationship with my readers through my posts by not only showcasing and fulfilling my purpose, but doing it well. I can be spellbindingly thorough and persuasive. Even if I don’t win them over to agreeing with me with the first post, they might come back for the post that could do the trick. I hope to establish myself as a blogger of quality, and not just another pretty phrase.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Empirical & Vampirical


I’ve been considering merging my two obsessions into one. Throughout my life I’ve had an interest in gender roles, in part because I so often don’t observe them, and I’m having a torrid love affair with English/American Literature.

I also loathe my generation’s fascination with the novel by Stephanie Meyer, Twilight. It is the only book in the series I’ve ever read. I read it at a friend’s hest and from the first page I just couldn’t stand it, but I did finish it, hoping with each turned page it would get a little bit better. I also saw the film with some friends, and managed to catch some of the dialouge through all of our saturnine comments. I cannot begin to describe how much I dislike both the book and the film, on so many levels, but particularly from the standpoint of good writing and gender roles. It might be interesting to explore this blockbuster film, as well as the book, through these lenses.

I'd like to analyze Bella, the female lead's character, and her relationship with Edward, the leading male, in a number of scenes both in the book and the film. Particularly those when Bella is shown to be so pathetic and yet Edward, some ubermensch, is interested in her. It's very interesting that it's a male vampire and a female human; it's very interesting that Edward is something of a male ideal nowadays. I want to know why. I also want to know why Edward loves Bella so much in return for her piteous mediocrity. What do these things say about being a man? About being a woman?

There’s certainly a surplus of information out there about these bloodsuckers. I don’t think I’d have any trouble providing myself with examples to analyze. Also, my audience would know full well what I was talking about even if I inexactly allude to “that scene in the hospital” or "that scene in the parking lot."


I’ll write for “myself and strangers” first.

I’ll write for the fans of the series as well as the critics, either way those who’ve read the book and/or seen the movie regardless of their reactions.

The critics and the fans want to see the same things, but for different reasons. The critics, in this vampire-crazed culture, would like to know that they are not mad for kneeling at the Cult of the Cullens. Some of them might want educated estimates on why the film is garbage to edify their wordless disgust for the film, and the series as a lump sum.

Yet, interestingly, in attacking an object you support your allies’ cause, but sponsor your opponents. My critic of this film will embolden the zeal of its fans; they will have a perfect opportunity to scream their love of these empty fictional characters at the top of their lungs or their CAPS LOCK!!! In this way, I’ll give them something to look forward to as well.

Either audience wants to see a hard and swift critique. Neither would be interested in my going soft on the film. They probably wouldn’t want me to be soft on the actors or the author, Stephanie Meyer, herself. But, I’ll have to be: I’m disgusted by the message, not those who conveyed it, and certainly Meyer can improve her literary craft—perhaps even by reading my blog!


I’ll give my blog my own special touch. I’m mordacious, but highly lovable. I’m a barbed teddy bear.

I can be a little tangential, but the audience will come away with something. The writing will not be purely critical, like I said, I’ll show some clemency, and I’ll stray from querulous rants and dopey complaints. I’ll stick with something smart, swift and thorough in my delivery. I am savage, yet I’m a savage optimist. There will be moments when, even in my thorniest posts when the one pearl of wisdom somewhere in all of that tasteless melodrama catches my attention and I mention it to the reader. After all, they say nowadays that even black holes give off the briefest flickers of light.

I’m thinking of titles such as

  • “Illuminating Twilight”
  • “Why I Hate Edward Cullen”
  • "Empirical & Vampirical"
  • or, “Glittering Vampires. O Rly?”
Among the posts I'd like to make are, a post where I get all the good I find in the series out of the way and disaffiliate my criticism of the film and the book from the actors, the author, the director and the screenwriter involved. I'd also compareTwilight's vampires to the vampires in other works of film and literature. Yet, the mainstay of my posts would be those which examine the scenes and dialouge attempting to answer some of the initial "why's" I've said above. There are specific scenes I could analyze in a post. Though this might mean, to my trepidation, renting a copy of the book... as well as recalling the film...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Five Potential Ideas

Five potential ideas I have for my own clubhouse blog:

  1. stream-of-consciousness novels
  2. perceptions of male/masculine beauty
  3. novel writing; novel reading
  4. campus oddities
  5. non-art major's sojourn to good art

A Moment of Response, II

I agree with Stefanac that bloggers are dismissed as “dilettantes” and “amateurs”--as individuals without any knowledge of that which they write about. Yet this overlooks the deep life experience of individuals who simply might not have the paperwork to prove the time they’ve spent thinking and articulating their ideas about a given topic. Blogs cannot become popular overnight, fellowship and the admiration of other bloggers cannot be one through fraud and misinformation. Bloggers do well if they are able to precisely articulate their knowledge, and that knowledge has a factual or relevant basis. I will cede, though, even a fool can have his followers.

Mr. Jalopy and I both enjoy the “[f]ast and loose” ambience of blogging. Sometimes I’ll write a blog post that turns into a promising short story or something I could better use for class, just because the swift and lax setting of the blog brought out my perfect pith or pathos. Such entries I secret away instead of casting them off into the ether, I’d rather publish them in print than let them languish online which puts my own perspective of “on print vs. blog writing” in a very interesting place.

Mr. Jalopy also wrote that “I am writing for my buddies.” I understand this is what he might bear in mind while he writes for his blog. But, with a blog so successful, and with such a massive following, it might be more accurate to quote Gertrude Stein: “I am writing for myself and strangers…”

There is also the mentioning of being “un-Google-able.” This is an alarmingly intriguing remark. On one hand, it expresses the consequences of having personal information out on the web, and on the other it also expresses a technology which would let any user find that information. It’s interesting Google is synonymous with this invasion of privacy in this statement.

Stefanac highlights several components that go into a good blog, including “personality.” I hope to use his recipe for my own blogging success in this project. I think my personality is too loud for this life, it certainly won’t be muffled or blurred over by virtual realtiy.

To the blogosphere!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Moment of Response

Rebecca Blood’s blog entry “Weblogs: A History and Perspective” ( gives some insight and background into the internet phenomenon of the weblog. Interestingly enough, I was only ten when she wrote this, and I think of all the weblogs that have probably emerged since which have populated and interwoven the internet even further. I have had more experience with personal blogs than meta-filters myself, though I once saw one such blog feature an animation I had made some years ago.

However, I find myself in disagreement with Blood and Greg Ruggiero’s ideas about definitions of media, and what media should be. I think that definitions of media are not limited to the desperate either-or of “corporate” or “public.” These two words seem very deceiving to me. Who is dependent on whom? Is a corporation all powerful? Especially if it is fed on the consumer’s money?

If one’s alternative views aren’t catching “mainstream” attention one might aim one’s displeasure at the public than the corporations. Corporations are not to blame, the public’s demands are. If people want to watch Montel instead of Marlowe then why should one blame the corporation if there is no TV version of Doctor Faustus? Changing the shape of media isn’t a crusade to adjust definitions, but desires.

One can take over the media and replace popular programs with poetry readings but people might decide to turn off their television sets. When people are willing to pay for something more than tedious talkshows and bleak sitcoms, then there will be a media revolution. The question of course being, how does one persuade others from Oprah to opera?

As for "consumers" and making them "creators." Consumers can be creators already. Everyone who has “made it” was once a consumer. The truth of people's passivity might be that not everyone is inclined to be a creator.

Being a creator is a risky business in any given society regardless of who “controls” the media, or what its definition happens to be. Being a creator involves time, effort and confidence. It involves sticking your neck out, showing a little leg and not being guaranteed a success. How many people jump at such a barbed opportunity?

Disagreements aside, I do understand and empathize with Blood’s interest in blogs and blogging. I only just started my own process blog here, and I do have a “livejournal” that I still frequent.

I keep my own journal, primarily because I like to read the blogs of my friends. I especially enjoy turning back through the posts, to see what they’ve said of themselves or others in the past. You catch phrases like “cigarettes are disgusting” written in dated entries by your smoker friends, and you laugh. I fall in and out of the habit of authoring my own posts. I don't like posting too often as it is, I like to remain somewhat of a mystery...

I do not lurk often, but when I do it is to catch up with people I am far out of touch with. I might not have “friended” them, but they still cross my mind.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What is writing?

Writing is a wonderful thing to do to words. Writing is a way to take thoughts and feelings and describe them. Writing is a way to use your words wisely, unlike the spoken word, writing lets you backspace or erase your words and tailor them exactly. Writing is a way to experience old memories, the last good kiss or the dawning of a new personal revelation. Writing has everything to do with taking words, some of which are used daily and some which are used rarely, and saying something brilliant. It's a way to tell a good story, pass advice or wink at somebody. Whether in a journal, or on this blog: writing is, above all, what I do.