Wednesday, March 31, 2010

And now for something completely different.

Youtube + Education = RESULTS:

Tigers + Lasers = EDUCATION:

Epic Beard Man: (Safe for work version), (Not safe for work version)

Son of Epic Beard Man: (Not safe for work)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My New Media Class - So Far

As far as assignments go, I've been staying on top of them and getting things done by the due date. The blog works hasn't been too bad and the posts have actually been longer than I expected they would be when I started working on this blog. The Twitter assignment was probably the most memorable of the assignments because it had a more immediate feeling to it in the sense that I had to actively scan for new responses.

Wiki work is not progressing as quickly as I had hoped because of work in general keeping me from contributing as much as I would like. Proofreading and grammar changes are always useful, at least.

Research is difficult to an extent because a lot of the material I've found on Google Scholar is either irrelevant, boring, or a combination of the two. I did manage to find a few useful articles on that, however. The rest of my research was taken from reputable gaming info and news sites which, at least for the topic, are much more relevant and useful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Modeling Reality with Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds are limited only by what their users do with them. Their primary function is to provide a sense of community among users, whether the world is dedicated primarily to social interaction (SecondLife) or a combination of social interaction and an actual game to lure those who are not as keen on interaction into playing (MMORPGs).

Virtual worlds can provide an outlet for user creativity (depending on the creative options given to users). SecondLife, for example, has incredibly detailed scripting functions that people can use to make things ranging from simple clothing to vehicles and even games within SecondLife itself. Virtual worlds also provide places for users to interact with one another without regards to physical distance. For some people, as shown in the video about the disabled people in last Tuesday's class, virtual worlds can even let people experience things (to an extent) that they can't physically experience.

Another advantage of virtual worlds is their adaptability to their users' preferences. Because of the dynamic nature of virtual worlds, the creators have to follow their users' trends to figure out what needs to be changed, added, or removed just like how the creators of Twitter added functions such as linking to specific users or hashtags based on what their users were doing.

Virtual worlds aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread, of course. If a virtual world is unable to differentiate itself from its competitors effectively, there is little reason for people to join in the first place and leads to a cycle of people not wanting to join because nobody else is joining. For the more popular virtual worlds, maintenance is always an issue if the servers they have are not stable enough for everyone trying to connect to them. Another flaw with virtual worlds is that language barriers can be even more pronounced than they are in the real world because they rely heavily on text for any sort of interaction.

In the future, however, the issue of communication barriers may be solved. A few virtual worlds already have primitive translators capable of rendering text between users in different languages, so it is only a matter of time before that is developed. The text-based barrier, although alleviated somewhat by the avatars used in virtual worlds, might become a thing of the past as virtual worlds develop and allow for voice transmission (and possibly distortions to fit the avatar) between users.


1. Twitter Serves Up Ideas From Its Followers by CLAIRE CAIN MILLER, the New York Times, October 26, 2009. Available at:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reflection on Twitter Discussion

After actually using it for a discussion, I can see plenty of pros and cons for Twitter as well as the Blackboard discussion board.

Pros: Shorter posts means faster posts and less essays, condenses everything into what needs to be said without the fluff
Cons: Organization is hard even with the tags for both personal messages and messages to other people

Pros: Everything is more organized and permanent
Cons: Slow, hasn't been used since the introduction assignment, inefficient design

I can see Twitter being used more often almost as a chatroom-substitute (although an actual chatroom would be much more efficient) for discussion of immediate topics while the BBDB would be better used for actual organization and long-term planning for entire projects.

The interface of the BBDB is annoying to use, though, so I would only use that as a planning area as a last resort if the wiki somehow stopped functioning and access to ANY other sort of forum software was impossible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Uses of Social Networking

What are some ways (corporate and otherwise) that these technologies can be used? What are the benefits of these technologies to society? Be specific. Is there a "dark side"? Make sure to include your opinion of the way these technologies might evolve in the future.

The benefits of social networking technology are readily apparent. Although physical distance still exists, social networking has made it even easier for people from all over the world from different backgrounds and with different interests to contact each other as well as find people with the same interests even if they might not be living in the same state, country, or continent.

Social networking sites aren't just limited to friends and old classmates keeping track of one another, nor is it limited to bringing people with a common interest together. Today, social networking is used by businesses, researchers, and politicians to reach out to a younger audience. Businesses can use LinkedIn to find potential employees, researchers can use Facebook to study certain demographics, and politicians can use Twitter to garner support for their campaigns.

Cole W. Camplese, director of education-technology services at Pennsylvania State University, has shown that such technologies can even be used in the classroom. He did this by integrating Twitter into his classes, having one screen projecting class slides and another showing a direct feed of the students' notes that were being taken in class to encourage "new kinds of teaching in which students play a greater role and information is pulled in from outside the classroom walls."
Sites like Twitter have even been used to save lives. With the recent earthquake in Haiti, Twitter was used to help land a plane that was being blocked from providing much needed supplies to the victims.

This is not to say that social networking has made everything better, of course. Privacy is always a concern and, with sites like Twitter making it easier to send out information by reflex rather than with concious thinking, means that people have to be even more careful about what they do. In September of 2009, ABC News employees tweeted that President Obama had called Kanye West a jackass after interrupting Taylor West's acceptance speech. However, this comment was not made on the air, but when cameras weren't rolling and the President was just speaking his mind.

Furthermore, not all tweets necessarily hold useful information. According to Pear Analytics, 40.55 percent of all tweets are completely meaningless and hold no real information. For people trying to use Twitter as a source of news and information, it may be difficult for them to separate the useful messages from the junk.

I expect that in the near future, a cross between Twitter and YouTube might be possible in which people can post short videos to the Internet for rapid viewing. Cell phones are becoming more and more advanced with each generation of smart phones, so it's only a matter of time before something like this could become reality and helps with situations similar to the previously mentioned plane landing in Haiti.

"The Wired Campus: Professor Encourages Students to Pass Notes During Class -- via Twitter", by Jeffrey R. Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2009 (

"Twitter used to help land plane with aid for Haiti earthquake victims", by Helen Kennedy, Daily News, January 18, 2010. (

"Obama, Kanye West and the trouble with Twitter", by Matea Gold, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2009. (,0,3179288.story)

"40 percent of Twitter messages 'pointless babble': study", August 17, 2009. (

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Social Networking Sites

Target audience: Just about anyone, but geared more towards older teens and adults
Pros: Clean interface, fairly simple to use and customize, just about everybody uses it
Cons: No real control in terms of color scheme
Impressions: This is the only social networking site I actually use for the reasons mentioned in the pros. I don't care for all the buttons and games and random spam these games generate, but it's convenient for at least knowing that people from elementary school still exist.

Target audience: Younger teens
Pros: Lots of customization options, color scheme changing available
Cons: Color scheme changing available
Impressions: I have never used this site and I never plan to. Just because there are options to change the color scheme of a page does not mean that the colors should be changed in such a way that even a unicorn would vomit at the sight of it.

Target audience: Just about anyone (similar to Facebook)
Pros: Lots of easy customization options
Cons: Not very relevant in America compared to Facebook
Impressions: I haven't had much experience with this site, but it seems fairly similar to Facebook aside from not having as many people. Supposedly, the site is incredibly popular in Asia and is synonymous with the concept of social networking there.

Target audience: Professionals
Pros: More professional/business-like for finding employers/employees, more customization options for finding business news relevant to you and your contacts
Cons: Less casual, fewer customization options for personal pages
Impressions: I haven't had much experience with this either, but I do plan to make a complete profile on this site once I have more time to.