Archive for March, 2010

My New Media Class – So Far

March 31, 2010

This New Media class is different from other classes offered at Baruch College. That is because it some of the assignments (such as this one) allow students to include their opinions and personal input along with facts. Also, while classes such as Economics, Accounting, and Statistics are based on formulas and principles which barely change over time, New Media progresses and changes very quickly. New media ten years ago is now considered old media. Who knows what students will be learning in this class five years from now.

Sure, most classes require some group work to be done, but it does not compare to the collaboration of students in New Media. Students in this class contribute to a wiki which contains anything and everything related to New Media and can be viewed by anyone via the internet. I, for one, decided to create a page for New Media in the Food, Beverage, and Hospitality Industry. Also, after posting blogs on given topics, students must comment on their classmates blogs. When I read my classmates’ blogs, I get a broader understanding of each topic. Even when the class will be over, students will be able to create their own personal blog posts, if they discovered they enjoy blogging.

New Media in a nutshell is blogs, wikis, Facebook (Professor Friedman). Since most students are active participants in at least one of those (Facebook would be the most common I believe), the class seems more exciting. I’m sure so far, everyone has learned some interesting tid-bit that stuck in their mind (e.g. the term “debugging” a computer came about when someone had to literally pull a moth out of an old computer to fix it). If I may add, Professor Friedman likes to use a wide range of vocabulary* which I look up in dictionary.com during class. This is an inadvertent* benefit.

 In addition to learning the history and components of New Media, students can teach each other various aspects of the subject through their research for term presentations. I would describe this type of learning as synergetic* and dynamic. Not only do the students learn from the professor, but sometimes students can offer new insights to the professor as well. The class builds and progresses as New Media does the same.

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Blogs vs. Wikis

March 24, 2010
Twenty years ago, blogs and wikis were not even part of our vocabulary. Today they are valuable elements in the networked world we live in. Both forms of media are created, controlled, and accessed by the public, but they are different from one another in several ways.A blog is personal and usually has only one author. A wiki is collaborative and has many authors. That is the most basic difference which all the other differences stem from. Since each blog is created by one person, information is posted only as fast as that person types and hits the “publish” button. That means blogs are posted one at a time. Wikis, on the other hand, can be updated by several people which means multiple information can be posted simultaneously (given that two people aren’t editing the same section at the same time, in which case the info entered by whoever clicks “save” first will be posted). Another difference would be that a blog usually contains someone’s opinions about certain issues or facts, but a wiki contains only the facts. It doesn’t mean the “facts” are accurate, but the information is not subjective.

Also, not everyone who starts a blog constantly updates it, and if they do then they don’t go back to edit or delete their older posts even though the information is outdated. After some time (weeks, months, years), a person might stop using their blog because they don’t feel like posting anything or because they started a new blog. Therefore, since a wiki is collaborative, there is a higher chance that the information is up to date because it doesn’t rely on anyone specific to edit the information.

That is not to say that blogs can’t be used collaboratively. A NYtimes article by Michael Wilson called Brooklyn Blog Helps Lead to Drug Raid talks about a neighborhood blog (BayRidgeTalk.com) that helped police catch major drug dealers/users. Some members of the community posted comments in their blogs about suspicious activity going on in one of the houses in the neighborhood. Other members replied to those blogs with their own comments about what they observed. These comments (such as “I’ve heard loud fighting for almost a year now but did not realize until recently that it’s a crack house.”) became evidence for police to arrest 5 people.

That blog is an example of why convergence is important in society. The blog itself is a virtual meeting place for people who are part of the same community, but otherwise would never have actually met. Such blogs can serve many different benefits for those who edit them and others who just read them because it caught their attention.

The same goes for wikis. Ezra Goodnoe mentioned the following about wikis in her article called How To Use Wikis For Business: “They are intended to maintain a series of unique documents as their content evolves and to provide an organic means of organizing that information.” Based on this statement, it is safe to say that there are more potential uses for wikis which have not yet been thought of because as people and technology evolve, new content will need to be organized. As of now, wikis that are meant for public use can be edited by anyone. Wikis that are intended for specific groups of people are only edited by those people and even though the public can access them, they are of no use to the viewer. I would suggest creating a wiki that can only be edited by experts and intended for use by the public, which would contain highly demanded information that is credible. That would mean the public will know who the sources are. I’m not sure if a wiki already exists under these conditions. For example, a wiki which can only be edited by doctors (who must submit their identification number to prove they are real doctors) and perhaps patients living with certain illnesses (who are granted access by a site administrator who gets proof from the patient’s doctor and are only allowed to edit their personal experience with their condition). The different sections of the wiki would include various fields of medicine. Although there are regular websites which contain medical information supposedly posted by experts and used by the public, a wiki like this would become the only credible source for medical information. It would be edited by doctors nationwide which would rule out the possibility of someone promoting themselves to get more business (which is a flaw of some of those websites). Also, as medicine evolves info would be updated (as opposed to not knowing when info was posted). The convergence of doctors would benefit a wide range of people.

It is important to acknowledge blogs and wikis: understand what they are and know how to use them to our advantage (even though Microsoft Word still underlines blog or wiki in red indicating that you’ve typed a word that doesn’t exist).

Twitter experience

March 22, 2010

At this point in time (after just creating a Twitter account) I cannot say I am a fan of this website. Perhaps I have yet to discover the potential uses it has for me (or perhaps I will stick to the original plan to stay far far away). In order to actually have the desire to tweet and check other peoples’ tweets, I think a person needs to have the right set of followers and follow the right people. Of course “right” is purely subjective. If a person who tweets about their every move (e.g. “I’m eating”, “I’m laying down”) has a bunch of followers who do the same, then one can assume these people genuinely care about these little things. Chances are, that same person posts their entire life (hour by hour) in their FaceBook status’ and gets a zillion comments on each post from people who like to do the same. At least on Twitter, you can choose whose tweets to follow (i.e. whose posts to see).

This website is definitely one of a kind (for now) because it only allows short posts (140 characters or less) and it allows people to “follow” whoever they want. There is no such thing as a request that needs to be confirmed  in order to be able to see someone elses tweets. It is similar to Blackboard Discussion Board in the sense that one can post information, view other people’s posts, and reply to posts, but Blackboard can only be accessed by those who attend a CUNY college. Twitter, on the other hand, is widely accessed. Supposing an entire class is logged onto Twitter at the same time (via mobile phone, etc.), a class discussion on Twitter can take place more efficiently than an actual in-class discussion. In real life, people can only listen to one person speak at a time. On Twitter, everyone in the class can simultaneously post their (short) thoughts and read everyones’ posts within a minute (and then reply to them).      

Personally, I don’t make Facebook statuses too often, so I don’t see myself using Twitter to post my daily/hourly activities (especially since none of my friends are on Twitter and no one else actually cares). Although I guess I wouldn’t mind checking Twitter if everyone I followed tweeted something humorous, interesting facts, cool websites, or anything semi-useful. I can also see Twitter being a good resource for quick responses to random questions considering you follow many people and they are constantly logged on.