Saturday, April 28, 2012

Using Yola


 I will be using Yola.com to create an academic web portfolio that will showcase all of my work from WRT 234.  I just created a Yola account, and I’ve begun creating my site. So far, I think Yola is easy to use and navigate, since it walks you through creating your site step-by-step. Today, I will focus on the design and will try to upload some of my revised work. I didn’t think creating a final portfolio would be this enjoyable, but it is!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Helpful Reading About Putting Together a Portfolio



The reading offered a lot of helpful information and tips. I actually wish I had read this when I first started college because it could have really helped me with portfolios I’ve done in the past. The reading got me thinking about how I’m going to approach my final web portfolio for this class. Right now, I’m creating a storyboard to plan how I want to put the whole thing together. One part of the reading discusses the reflective letter, which I will focus on first. I have a lot to reflect on for each project, since I’ve learned so much and they have all helped me improve as a writer in different ways.  

Looking back at what I’ve done in this class, I think the enthusiast blog has been my strongest work. Not to mention, this blog has been my favorite thing we’ve done in this course. What makes it strong is the overall design of the site, the 90s pop culture and nostalgic topic, and I think my posts pretty well written as well.

As for my process blog, I’m not completely satisfied with it. I wish I had posted more for every project. In order to make up for those missed posts, I plan on doing reflective notes for those projects, so it won’t feel so incomplete when I incorporate it in my final portfolio.

Right now, I’m starting to put together my portfolio and analyzing all my work carefully. It’s actually interesting to go back and see the work I’ve done and think about the strengths and weaknesses of each project. I want to make sure I make the revisions necessary for the final product that will be put in my portfolio. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Project 4 is Complete

We finished Project 4, and I must say we are definitely happy with the final product. We added a lot after our peer reviews and their helpful suggestions of how to improve our site. I wish I could have contributed more written material to our site, such as posts to the discussion forum and blog posts, but it was difficult since I didn't feel I knew enough about our issue to write a lot about it. However, I tried contributing as much as I possibly could being an invasive species amateur. I did learn a lot about it, and I'm glad I did since this it's an important issue to address, and many people aren't aware of the fact that these invasive species pose a serious threat to our eco-systems. Not only did I learn about the issue of invasive species, but I also gained a better understanding of SocialGO, social networking sites (in general) and the all the elements these kind of websites entail. 

Project 4 Peer Reviews

We got a lot of great feedback about our SocialGo site from our peer reviews. Some of the suggestions they gave us to improve our site included adding more events, which is something we’re aware needs work. It’s difficult to find events concerning invasive species, as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, but we’re continue searching for some events that somewhat relate. Another suggestion was to add more videos and other types of media to our site. Actually we used their suggestion and we’ve added more media to our site since the review. One person suggested adding more topics to our discussion forum and writing more blog posts, which we already have planned on doing before the project is over. Lastly, someone suggested that we add more groups to our group page, which we will do as well. Overall, we are happy with our peer reviews and all of their suggestions have been incredibly helpful as we finish this project! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Project 4- Slight Problem

Project 4 is really coming along nicely. My group and I have found a lot of information about invasive species and great material for our SocialGo site. The only problem we've had is finding events related to invasive species, since it's not a well-known issue. If we can't find events concerning invasive species, we'll have to find an event that relates in some way- maybe something to do with agriculture or plants. Today, I'm going to keep searching for events that we could add to the site. I'm glad everything else is going smoothly with this project. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Project Four- We Chose Invasive Species


For Project 4, our SocialGo site is dedicated to the issue of invasive species. One of my group members chose the cause, and I had no idea what invasive species were, until now. After doing some research, I found out that invasive species are
“1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and
2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.
Invasive species can be plants, animals, and other organisms (e.g., microbes). Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introductions,” (http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov).

At first, I wasn’t sure if this was the greatest topic for the project, but I quickly found that invasive species do pose a serious threat to our ecosystems and it’s important to raise awareness about this problem. The more research and learning I- the more concerned I am about the issue. I’m glad that I’m able to help this cause with this project.

 So far, our site is looking good. My group members have been contributing a lot of great stuff. I’ve contributed some videos, a blog post, articles, pictures, and I plan on contributing more. Thus far, the project is going smoothly, and I think for once, we might finish early!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Experience with Social Networking Sites


Currently, the social networking sites I’m involved with are Facebook and Twitter. The first social networking site I was ever involved with was MySpace, but once Facebook got popular, I deleted my account. It seems over the past 5-8 years, social networking sites have exploded and it changed our culture and the way we communicate and connect with others forever. I believe these sites have provided advantages and disadvantages to those who use them. Take Facebook for example: You can express yourself and electronically scrapbook what’s going on in your life, communicate with friends and family at your own convenience, find and contact friends and family you haven’t talked to in years, and you can even organize events and join different interest groups. Facebook also has its setbacks: privacy has been an ongoing issue. Some users have not gotten jobs or lost their jobs due to inappropriate pictures, videos, or statuses that they posted on their profile page. Another recent issue is that Facebook has enabled harassment and bullying, and we have been seeing this especially with the younger generation on Facebook. As for Twitter, I actually just created an account, so I’m still learning how to use it. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Response to Danah Boyd and W. Lance Bennett Articles


“Can Social network sites enable political action” by Danah Boyd and “Digital Natives as self-actualizing citizens” by W. Lance Bennett, are two interesting articles that discuss the idea of whether social network sites could be used for political action and speaking truth to power.

Boyd’s article suggests that using SNSes for political action are nothing but mere “daydreams,” particularly when it comes to young people, who are more concerned about engaging with their friends and updating their statuses than they are with participating in a political cause. Boyd also suggested that it is “this lack of motivation that we need to understand and address to improve our democracy and government.” While Boyd sees this as an issue, Bennett sees it as “changing patterns of engagement and opportunities that will reshape the notion of citizenship in this new century. According to Bennett, the reason young people aren’t using SNSes as platforms for political action is because of the contrast between old century “Dutiful Citizens” (DC) and the new century “self-Actualizing Citizens” (AC). DCs (adults) “are unaware or unappreciative of the civic identity shift that has occurred among many young people.”  Bennett suggests that when adult-run institutions do attempt to build media projects, it seems that they “impose limits on what young people can and ‘should’ do,” thus these projects often fail.

Both articles suggest that we need to understand young people’s lack of motivation behind using SNSes for political action. Both discuss that the solution lies in finding a way of reaching all young people, or what Boyd calls the “unmotivated groups;” not just those who are already politically involved. According to Bennett, the DCs need to adopt and correctly utilize online environments as a way of reaching young people and successfully motivating them to get involved in all aspects of our democracy. Boyd makes a strong point that “the infrastructure is available for people to spread information, but the motivation is not there to either share or receive it. That’s the problem we need to solve, and we’ll know we’re successful from the messages that will be written on Facebook and MySpace.” 

Project 3 is Complete!



It’s official! My group and I have finished Project 3. Overall, I think the website redesign was a success. Compared to the original site, the redesign looks professional, clean and organized, and easy to navigate. It took a lot of effort and at times my group and I felt a bit overwhelmed with all that we had to do; however, at the end of the day, we are proud of the final product and it seems that all our hard work paid off in the end. Although this was a challenging project, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what elements make a website well designed and what makes a poorly designed site. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Received a Peer Review of Our Redesign


My group and I received a lot of helpful feedback from our peer review for project 3. Some of the things they suggested was to straighten the pictures, rather than have them slanted since it will help make the website more professional. Another helpful suggestion was to put the bar of links (about us, home, links, etc) on top of every page. Their final suggestion was to break up the writing content more so it doesn’t look like a huge paragraph. These are definitely some useful suggestions and I think my group and I will definitely take their advice.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Project 3: Redesigning the Contact Page


While creating the original site map, I’m starting to see clearly what needs work. In addition, one of my responsibilities for the project is to redesign the contact page. What may seem like an easy task for this project is actually quite difficult and complex. A typical contact page for a website contains basic and brief information, such as a phone number, maybe a fax number, an address, an email, etc. The contact page of the website we’re redesigning is anything but brief. In fact, it is more of a lengthy essay, with complicated instructions of how to make an appointment. Moreover, it’s somewhat repetitive with the idea of instructions- just worded differently. First, it says to call a certain number from a landline phone- it cannot be a cell phone that doesn’t have ID information, because they won’t answer. Then it says when you call the number they provide, you will be given another number to call to make the appointment, “so make sure you have a pen and paper handy.” In addition it says you can only call between 9:00am-10:30am if you want an appointment… An 1hr ½ to make an appointment? I’m not sure if it’s typo, but if it’s not, I really don’t know how this place gets any business. The whole contact page is very sketchy and it’s nothing like a well designed website contact page should be like. I am going to have to eliminate most of this, simplify, and clean it up. I will provide the only number they have, even if it’s not the only number they have to call (Clients will figure it out when they call the first number). I will also include their hours, appointment policies, and a helpful tip they give on the original, which is probably the only good thing they have on that page. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Found a Website in Desperate Need of a Makeover


My group and I decided on a website to redesign for project 3. The website is http://www.serene-naturist.com. This website is absolutely AWFUL- it’s perfect! Everything about this website needs work, such as the tacky graphics, the color scheme, the organizational structure, and the list goes on and on. Clearly, we have a lot of work ahead of us!

Getting Started with Project 3 (redesigning a website)


I think this website redesign project might be the most challenging project we’ve had so far in the course. It’s a pretty lengthy assignment and will involve a lot of hard work. In order to prepare myself for this project, I’ve been exploring the best and worst designed websites on the Internet. I’ve been taking notes on the design elements that make a website well designed. I’ve also been analyzing poorly designed websites and seeing what to avoid when redesigning a site. I’m eager to get going with this project. Although it may be challenging, I think this project will be a great learning experience in the end. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Where in the World do I Write About?


Picking a location for my Wikitravel project turned out to be more difficult than I thought it would be. I considered the following places.

-Somers, New York (my hometown)
-Providence, Rhode Island
-Narragansett, Rhode Island

Of course I considered Somers, New York because I grew up there and I know that town inside out. However, I decided it wouldn’t be the best location for a Wikitravel article since not many people are looking to travel there. It’s a small town- your average suburbia in Westchester County. This town’s only claim to fame is that it’s the home of the first American circus. There’s not much to do or see, or even places sleep in Somers, but there are some things in nearby towns. In the end, I just didn’t think it was Wikitravel worthy.

My next choice was Providence, Rhode Island. In the past 4 ½ years that I’ve been living in Rhode Island, I’ve become very familiar with its capital, the city of Providence. I go to Providence all the time since I have many friends that live there. My friends who are Providence natives have showed me all around the city. I lived there last summer and learned my away around even more, and I’ve also worked in Providence. In addition, when I was writing for Rhode Island Monthly Magazine, I contributed to the Guest Guide, which is a travel guide the magazine creates for most of the hotels and inns throughout Rhode Island. The guest guide is basically an extended version of a Wikitravel page. It offers places to eat, drink, stay, see, etc. I contributed a lot of information for the Providence section of the guide. Because I’m familiar with Providence and especially its attractions, places to eat and drink, etc., this might be a good location to use for this particular project.

Currently, I live in Narragansett, Rhode Island, which is why it’s my third choice. I saw that someone in my group already chose Narragansett for their Wikitravel location, so I thought I would be better off picking some place different.

I decided to go with Providence, Rhode Island for my Wikitravel project!

Getting to know Wikitravel


When I started the Wikitravel project, the first thing I knew I would have to do is familiarize myself with this site. Reading through the Manual of Style, I made note of the suggested format, tone, overall style and layout etc. In addition, I also checked out random Wikitravel pages to get a good idea of what my Wikitravel page should include and look like. I noticed that most pages contained the following categories of information:

-Get in
-Get Around
-Do
-Eat
-Drink
-Sleep

In order to achieve a well-developed Wikitravel page, I decided to include all of the above. When I felt that I had a good understanding of Wikitravel- the writing and format entailed- my next step was to find a location…

Sunday, February 26, 2012

3 Tips for Wikitravel Writers


1.    As a Wikitravel writer, it’s important to be conscious of your tone. Unlike Wikipedia articles, Wikitravel articles may be written in a conversational and informal tone. A lively tone is welcomed since Wikitravel encourages writers to share the excitement and fun of travel; however, avoid using clich├ęs. If you have a good sense of humor, don’t be afraid to use it in your articles, so long as they aren’t making fun of a person, involve any sarcasm, and you should avoid inside jokes. Finally, when you write an article, your tone should definitely not assume that the reader is an idiot. This means, you don’t need to offer advice that’s clearly common sense, since it comes of as disrespectful to the travelers that read your article.

2.   Follow the writing style rules according to the Wikitravel manual of style. Writers are allowed to address the reader, using “you;” however, writers should never use “I”, “we”, “our”, “my”, etc. After all, you are not the only writer contributing to the article. It’s important to be concise in your articles, which doesn’t mean you can’t include detailed descriptions of sights, but rather, avoid lengthy detailed explanations when offering advice. If you decide to make generalizations, be careful; meaning, avoid exaggeration and being too extreme.

3.   Wikitravelers check this site to find out places worth going to, not the places they shouldn’t go to; therefore, avoid negative reviews. According to the Wikitravel’s style manual, there are exceptions to this rule, since travelers may be led to the attraction from other information sources. Some of the exceptions include the following. 1) It is widely advertised. 2) It is commonly featured in other guidebooks. 3) It is prominently located, such as near popular tourist areas, across from a train station, etc. It is suggested that in these cases, you should create a listing of attractions you recommend, but in the description make note of why the place is not worth going to and explain why. Writers are encouraged to note in general unsavory aspects of a destination, so long as they are honest and fair comments for the traveler’s benefit. By general unsavory aspects that means unsafe areas that are high in crime, like drug-use and prostitution, unsafe climate, police corruption, etc. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Aha!

The topic I chose for my clubhouse blog is 90s pop culture and childhood nostalgia! I think my generation will enjoy this blog, since they'll be able to relate to it. I plan on covering various parts of 90s pop culture, including music, television, fashion, movies, toys and other fads. Because there was so much going on during this decade, I don't think I'll ever run out of things to talk about!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Clubhouse Blog Ideas


For a good 25 minutes, I sat doodling in my notebook, trying to think of a topic for my enthusiast blog. It’s funny how when you’re given the freedom to write about any topic, you suddenly can’t think of anything to write about. Anyways, I started brainstorming and came up with the following topics:

 -Fashion- the latest trends
-Pop Culture
-T.V. Shows- must sees and don’t bothers
-Last months as a college student
-Ways to still have fun when you’re a broke college student

I decided to cross out the Fashion topic because I’m not too passionate about it, as well as the T.V. show topic since, these days, I rarely have the time to watch television. I liked the Pop culture idea, but I think the topic is just too broad. I almost went with the last months as a college student topic, but I started thinking about the kind of things I could write about… Besides searching for a job and going to class, there’s not much else really going on. Right now, I’m leaning towards the topic on ways to still have fun when you’re a broke college student. As a college student with a tight budget myself, I’ve been trying to be creative, coming up with ideas to have fun without burning a hole in my pocket. With this topic, I can write about fun activities that are free or inexpensive, budget-friendly recipes, party ideas that are easy on the pocket, etc. I think this blog could interest many college kids since it’s a topic many can relate to and some might even find it to be useful.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Blogs as Clubhouses" Response


The article “Blogs as Clubhouses” discusses enthusiast blogs and offers some helpful tips for those looking to start one. The first tip concerns the focus of your blog to aid discovery. The author suggests picking a topic that is not too broad in order to avoid it from being “dominated by giants.” Moreover, the topic shouldn’t be too narrow either since it will be difficult to grow a decent fan base. The next tip involves how frequently you should be post.  “Don’t let too much time pass between posts or readers may et of the habit of visiting your site, but at the same time, don’t fall into the trap of posting drivel just to see another entry online.” In addition, the author says that the content of your blogs should be either useful or entertaining, and it’s a great blog if it contains both. The author also mentions the importance of writing style, suggesting that it should be friendly and conversational, and never in a way that seems to be demeaning or rude. Finally, the tip labeled “the most important” for enthusiast blogs regards personality. The author says that these blogs also serve as a showcase for the bloggers personality, and one that displays “strong tastes and well-crafted opinions” is more likely to benefit and succeed.

 Since we are going to create our own enthusiast blogs for this class, I thought this article was very useful with all the helpful tips. I joined the bloggersphere a few years ago, and for a while I maintained two different blogs. One of the blogs was mainly for displaying my creative writing pieces and seeking input from other writers in the blog community.  My other blog was more for free writing and a way for me to vent, expressing my thoughts and opinions about different current events. My blogs didn’t have a solid focus, which is why this clubhouse project will be a whole new blogging experience for me. One of the author’s tips involved posting regularly and to the point. I think that was my biggest challenge and still is. The last time I posted on the blog that I have outside of this class was probably in September. When school started and I got a job, I no longer had the free time to post, which caused me to lose some of my followers. I was thinking about shutting down the blog because of the fact I haven’t posted in forever, and I’ve had a case of writer’s block for the past 5 months. However, the author suggests sticking with it, “truly successful bloggers are those who weather these moments and build faithful readerships over time.” And so, I decided I’m going to stick with it. And who knows? Maybe this project will inspire me to keep an enthusiast blog too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Response to Rebecca Blood's "Weblogs: a History and Perspective"


            In the article “Weblogs: a history and perspective,” Rebecca Blood discusses the start of weblogs and how it quickly developed into a whole new means of communication and expression. Blood takes us back to 1998 when there were only a handful of blog sites available on the web. Before long, there were hundreds of sites after “Pitas, the first build-your-own-weblog too l launched.”  According to Blood, before this advance, weblogs could only be created by people who had the knowledge of how to make a website. But when sites, such as Blogger and Edit this page launched, people no longer had to be tech savvy to have a weblog. Blood says, “All of these services are free, and all of them are designed to enable individuals to publish their own weblogs quickly and easily.”
            The article also explains how people were finding more and more uses for weblogs. “In September of 2000 there are thousands of weblogs: topic-oriented weblogs, alternative viewpoints, astute examinations of the human condition as reflected by mainstream media, short-form journals, links to the weird, and free-form notebooks of ideas.” Blood discusses the impact weblogs have had on the media. She mentions how some weblog editors are “engaged in seeking out and evaluating the “facts” that are presented to us each day” by corporate news sources. I think she makes an interesting point about how weblog editors are beginning to “redefine media as a public, participatory endeavor. “
            Since this article came out in 2000, weblogs continue to thrive and offer people new ways of communication and self-expression. I think one of the most fascinating points Blood made in her article was about how the weblog experience can have a positive impact on the blogger on a personal level. Blood even reveals that she herself has had such a positive experience from the creation of weblogs. “I began to feel that my perspective was unique and important,” she said. I think the greatest aspect of blogs is that it gives people a voice and an opportunity to be heard and feel heard. As the bloggersphere continues to evolve, I believe this new form of communication will bring our great big world a little bit closer.