Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Idea Outlines for my Portfolio's Reflective Introductions

General Introduction:
- Central Idea: A well-written thesis like statement that demonstrates what I am trying to demonstrate to the reader with the presentation of my web portfolio as a whole.
> All of the artifacts included within my web portfolio are reflective of my growth as a writer operating in electronic enviornments. At the beginning of the semester I had little to no experience of skills writing in electronic enviornments, however each indivudal artifact included in this portfolio represents indivudal steps in the overall progression I have made over the semester as a writer in what once was a foreign and unfamilar writing enviornment to me. Very similar to the growth that characterizes any of the thousands of enviornments found in nature, my semester in this course can be best characterized by a pattern of consistent growth.

Project- Based Reflective Introductions:

For each of my individual reflective statements for each project or "artifact" included in my web portfolio, I plan to follow the same formula for each. By doing this I will be able to increase the cohesiveness and consistency of my entire web portfolio. For each project's reflective statement, I plan to do the following:

-Discuss how this project represents a step in my overall progression/growth as a writer in electronic enviornments. At this point I think I will be using the thematic concept of Enviornment/Growth as the backdrop for my entire portfolio, so it will be critically important for me to demonstrate how each individual project in my portfolio ties into and is reflective of this overarching concept.
- Discuss the struggles/ difficulties I encountered in each project
- What I learned specifically in each project
- The ways in which what I learned in each project will help me in the future

I plan to follow this structure for each of my projects individual relfective statement. Now that I have created what I believe to be a good, functional outline/format for my reflective statements, I plan to begin writing the drafts based upon these outlines, which will hopefully result in a set of cohesive and well-written reflective statements that serve the overall purpose of demonstrating my growth as a writer in electronic enviornments.

Potential Themes for my Web Portfolio

Having reviewed all of my process blog posts and post writes from over the course of the semester, I was able to pick up on several connections/recurring themes from them that I think I will be able to translate into a cohesive theme for my web portfolio. I had the following initial ideas for potential themes:

1) Enviornment/Nature/Growth Theme: Throughout this semester in my process blog and post writes I write alot about my growth as a writer in the electronic enviornment. This entire course is focused upon learning to write in a new enviornment which is gaining increasing significance in our society as a primary medium for all sorts of writing. I was thinking I could take this word/idea that this course is focused upon, enviornment, and make it the focal point of my web portfolios theme. By making enviornment/nature the theme of my web portfolio, this idea also connects to the idea of growth, as everything within any sort of enviornment is always growing. The growth that occurs within enviornments in nature can be easily compared/reflective of my own personal growth as a writer within the electronic enviornment.

2) Ecology Theme: This idea is somewhat similar to my first theme idea. Throughout the semester one of the main themes of our work was participating in information ecologies. I was thinking I could make Ecology the theme of my web portfolio. Perhaps I could also just tie the idea of ecology into my first theme idea of enviornment, as I feel I could combine these two themes into one, cohesive theme that focuses on a theme of ecology/enviornment/nature/growth as it relates to my progress as a writer over the semester.

3) The Concept of Struggle/Effort: As I have stated, one of the major recurring notions highlighted throughout my process blog posts and post writes is my continous struggle and effort to become a more skilled writer in electronic enviornments. Most all of my post writes and process blog posts discuss my lack of experience/knowledge/skills as an electronic writer, and how each project we have done in the class has gradually helped me improve my skills in this field. Furthermore, my enthusiast blog revolves around my personal, intense struggle to quit smoking cigarettes. As of right now I am unsure of how exactly I will portray the concept of a struggle thematically, I will continue to brainstorm about how I could do this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2 Project Revisions

1) Project # 1: Enthusiast Blog: The first project I am going to revise for my final portfolio is my enthusiast blog. While I am yet to receive a grade for my final blog, I will be basing my revisions on feedback I received on my initial 4 posts, as well as improvements that I feel can be made. There are several areas I will focus on in revising my enthusiast blog. First will be the aesthetic component of the blog. Throughout the semester I have always felt that my blog could be more pleasing aesthetically, even by taking a simple step like changing the primary colors. However, I have always felt that the content is more important and never took the time to really work towards my desired aesthetic arrangement. This will be an area that I will be focusing on explicitly in revising this blog. Furthermore, I intend to add more pictures within each blog post. While my posts are long and informative, I realized that their length may initially make the reader feel overwhelmed. I plan to add pictures within each post to break them up and make them seem less overwhelming and long. Finally, by changing my description and About Me, I am going to try to make my blog give off a vibe that is more inclusive to any given reader. Finally, I will work to make sure that my grammar is consistent throughout my entire blog. All of these revisions are based off the feedback I received for my initial 4 blog posts. I like my enthusiast blog alot, but I know that with some work it can be much better overall.

2) Project # 2: Writing for Wikitravel: The second project I plan to revise is the Wikitravel project. For this project I wrote about the Back Bay region of Boston. I got really good feedback and earned a good grade on this project, but I believe I can improve it significantly through revision. One negative piece of feedback I received on this project was that my Before.doc did not include the Mark up. Right now I am confused as to how I will go about fixing this, but I plan to clarify this with Ms. Portman. While I earned a good grade on this project, I did not include any pictures despite the fact that I discussed many beautiful, breathtaking landmarks. I think by adding pictures I will bolster my Wikitravel page greatly. Finally, I will add some more posts and content to the site. I realized that I have a lot more to contribute with my extensive knowledge of the region.

Response to Kimball Chapter On Portfolios

I found Kimball's chapter on portfolios to be an in-depth, well-written, and highly informative piece. I find this reading is a great starting point for the process I am about to begin in creating my own web portfolio. Kimball begins by giving the reader an idea of exactly what a portfolio is. Kimball defines a portfolio as a "reflective collection of work that is designed to full fill a specific purpose and presented for feedback." Throughout the entire article Kimball focuses on what characterizes a good portfolio. First and foremost, Kimball points out that the author, with their portfolio, should be able to show the reader what he/she has learned in the process of creating the portfolio itself, and revising the portfolios "artifacts." Kimball refers to each individual piece that comprises the portfolio as an artifact. These artifacts should serve to collectively show the author's development and growth over time. Kimball throughout her article also makes clear that a good portfolio is reflective, meaning the author explains the context of the included artifacts, challenges that were faced along the way, and what he/she has learned. Furthermore, a successful portfolio is not just a mix of artifacts; it is a coherent collection of artifacts that together serve a specific purpose, and serve to satisfy certain goals. Portfolios should also show concrete proof of abilities, and be a demonstration of the authors abilities.

In the latter half of the article, Kimball focuses explicitly on web portfolios. I anticipate that reviewing the content of this section of this chapter will be extremely helpful to me in the coming weeks as I prepare my own web portfolio. Kimball begins his discussion of web portfolios by introducing the elements that a typical web portfolio follows: A home page that introduces the web portfolio as a whole, a series of pages linked to the homepage that introduce and reflect on the individual artifacts within the portfolio, along with a series of digitized examples of the authors work. (Kimball 11) Kimball next moves on to discussing what constitutes a good web portfolio. He points to the successful practice of rhetoric as being key in the process of creating a good web portfolio: "To create successful portfolios,then, authors must practice rhetoric- the art of convincing someone about something" (Kimball 21). I liked hearing this, as I am a Writing and Rhetoric major. I hope to use this final project of creating a web portfolio as an opportunity to improve upon the skill set necessary to be a successful student within the Writing and Rhetoric major. Kimball goes on to state that in creating a good web portfolio, the author must use textual as well as visual components to be successful. Kimball highlights 3 primary rhetorical forms that are important in a good web portfolio: Textual, visual, and structural. The textual component of the web portfolio must use words to convince the given reader that the author has fulfilled the readers standards of quality. Good web portfolios also use text to introduce individual artifacts, and explain the context of them, and the process by which they were developed. Kimball also states that it is important for a web portfolio to include the authors own, honest opinion of the content of the portfolio. Finally, the portfolio should contain clear, concise, and professional writing throughout.

Next Kimball discusses how a good web portfolio is visually rhetorical as well. The visual presentation of the web portfolio should help the reader see the content better, not distract them from it. Kimball presents the following as key visual characteristics that should be employed by any author looking to craft a good web portfolio: - Subtlety - Consistency -Clear Navigation -Straight forward page layout - Legibility and Ease Of Reading -Thoughtful Use of Emphasis -Careful Use of Color

Finally Kimball states that a good web portfolio is structurally rhetorical as well, meaning that the manner in which the website is structure (linear, hierarchical) works to best serve the portfolios overall function, purpose, and appearance.

I thought this was a great chapter, and I know for a fact it is going to be helpful for me. Upon learning what our final project in the class was going to be, I was very nervous because it is the type of thing that is definitely my weakness. I am not good at website design, but after reading Kimball's article my confidence has been boosted. I think this chapter is going to be beyond helpful for me to look back to and essentially use as a guide/rubric in the process of creating my web portfolio.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Social Networking for Social Change: Reflective Post # 3

Upon completion of this project, I am fully satisfied with the product my group has produced, and I am also satisfied with my own work and felt I definitely made positive contributions to our Causes page. I felt my blog post was informative and well written, and I also wrote the welcome note for the site. The welcome note is intended to provide any person visiting our site with general information about our cause, and what our purpose/main objective is as a group. Furthermore, the welcome note is intended to inform visitors about the function of each specific component of the site (Blog, forum, events calendar, etc.) Below I have included my welcome note. I feel not only does it demonstrate some of my best work from this project, but it also explains my groups main objectives we aimed to fulfill over the course of our project:

Welcome to Stop The Scams. We invite anyone and everyone to join our cause, whether it is to assist us in spreading awareness, prevent people from falling victim to a scam, or to increase your knowledge about the scams that exist in our society today. We hope that our site will serve as a useful resource to anyone looking to educate themselves and make a difference in a world where scams have become so prevalent. This is the main purpose and goal of our site, and we hope that all of it's applications and features will contribute towards the successful achievement of these goals. Anyone who reads our blog and will surely gain knowledge about some of the most common and dangerous scams out there. Our site will also include an events calendar consisting of regional events relating to our cause. Our discussion forum will open the floor to anyone wishing to comment, share, and discuss their feelings/experience/knowledge relating to any type of scam. We feel that if all users utilize our site properly, we can fulfill our motto, "Together, we can Stop The Scams."

I believe that my groups page and its content fulfills everything outlined in this welcome note. Every component of our site serves to its overall function/goal of helping to inform and protect people from different types of scams. This past Monday's class was a peer review session, during which another group offered their critiques of the draft version of our site. Unfortunatley due to car problems I did not get back to school from Thanksgiving break until late on Monday night, so I missed this important class. However, I communicated with my group via the Sakai forum and they told me that our peer review group had suggested we condense my welcome note draft for the final project. Keith was able to successfully condense my draft in a way that we all feel better serves the site. My group worked extremely well together and we are all satisfied with the outcome of our collective efforts.

This project was a very useful learning experience for me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I do feel very strongly about the potential social networking sites hold as a means of mobilizing people towards any kind of cause/effort. I hope that in the future I will be involved in working for a cause/effort that I feel passionately about. When this time comes, the skills I have learned concerning utilizing the powers of social networking sites will be extremely helpful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Social Networking for Social Change: Reflective Post # 2

The next step in this project was each member of the group decided a specific type of "scam" that we would each focus upon. Our topic of scams is very broad, and there are countless types of scams out there. I decided to focus explicitly upon identity theft, which is one of the most prominent scams in American society today (it is estimated that around 9 million Americans have their identites stolen each year). I did alot of research on this topic and eventually wrote a blog post which can be found on my groups Ning page. In this post I included some background information along with six simple, easy tips anyone can (and should) take to protect themselves from identity theft. Next we all posted our preliminary blog posts to the Sakai forum and offered each other feedback. All I got was positive feedback from my group so I felt satisfied with my blog post, so I uploaded it onto the Ning page. I felt that this post was definitely a helpful contribution to my groups central purpose which is described at the top of our home page: "Our mission is to inform and motivate those with sincere concern for various scams, as well as empower them to take action for our cause. " At this point in the project my group was working very well together, I was confident in the work I was doing, and I was confident that my groups project was going in the right direction.

Social Networking For Social Change: Reflective Post #1

When this project was first introduced, I liked it alot. As a preface to the project, we read two articles in which two different authors discussed at length issues concerning technology in today's society, social networking sites, and the effects all of these are having on young people in our country. One main point both authors made that I agree with is that social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Ning, are not being used to their full potential. These sites on which billions of people worldwide present themselves truly do have the potential to serve as a platform for social change, progress, and the mobilization of people towards a common goal. However, young people tend to disreguard or do not embrace these uses, and use Facebook primarily to fulfill social desires, and jump at the oppurtunity to customize a personality as they like in this forum.

For these reasons, I was excited for this project. I recognize the power social networking sites have as a vehicle for social causes and social change, and I looked foward to using this project as an oppurtunity to learn how to successfully do this.

Next we were put into groups. Each group would choose their cause that would be the focal point of the groups Ning page. My group decided our cause would be scams of al sort. This was not one of my ideas that we had thought of on our own prior to the project, but I liked the idea as I agree that scams are a major problem in our society that millions of Americans fall victim to each year. At this point in the project I was looking foward to researching and learning about scams, and furthermore contributing to my groups page in ways that would be helpful for anyone looking to learn about and protect themselves against different scams.

The layout of Ning initially confused me, however the "Ning tutorial" that was posted on the Sakai page, as well as help from Ms. Portman helped me understand the way Ning works much better.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Potential Blog Post Ideas

Group Topic: Scams Of All Types

Potential Topics I could write a blog post about:
1) Identity theft
2) Pyramid schemes
3) Telemarketer Fraud

Monday, November 16, 2009


I created a Ning account and this is definitely an interesting website. I was a bit confused at first about how to navigate it and how it worked exactly, but the Ning tutorial on the Sakai homepage helped me familiarize myself with the site better. I'm sure my knowledge and abilities with Ning will increase drastically as we use it over the course of this project. I definitely see the potential this site has as a useful social networking site.

Comparing and Contrasting Boyd + Bennett Article

Both of these articles by Danah Boyd and Lance Bennett discuss and assess the emergence of social networking sites in relation to the effects they are having on young people, and our democratic society as a whole. Both authors agree fundamentally that these sites (such as Facebook and Myspace), have led to a generation less involved and interested in participating in mainstream, traditional avenues of civic participation and democratic activity. Bennett even goes as far to list the characteristics of what he sees as the two distinct groups of people in our society today: Dutiful citizens, who represent the old generation, and Actualizing Citizens, who represent today's generation. Concerning SNSs, both authors agree that they are not being used to their full potential as a network for the spread of democratic and useful ideas. Rather, Boyd believes that youths are far too enraptured in using the sites as platforms to display and draw attention to themselves from a large community of "friends" to ever use the sites to their full potential for creating serious actions/changes. Similarly, Bennett believes that the majority of today's young people generally use the sites for a means of self fulfillment. Both authors point to a lack of motivation within this generation as the reasoning for such a decline in traditional civic participation. Boyd concludes his article by stating this lack of motivation problem, and makes clear it is a problem that needs to be fixed, but never really offers any potential solution. Bennett suggests that we figure out ways to combine the defining characteristics that typify a Dutiful Citizen and Actualizing citizen in order to encourage more motivated behavior in large forums amongst youths. He states that the old generation of Dutiful citizens must embrace the influx of new social mediums like facebook rather than reject them, and furthermore within our education systems begin to educate youths on how to utilize social networking sites to their fullest capabilities.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 Issues/Causes That Interest Me

1) Suicide Prevention: When I was 17 years old my best friend killed himself. Last spring, another one of my close friends committed suice. Since 2004, six teenagers total from my hometown of Needham, Massachusetts have killed themselves, a disturbing trend. This is an issue that hits very close to home for me and suicide prevention is a cause that interests me alot.

2) Teenage Depression: This is closely related to me first issue, as clinical depression is the leading cause of teen suicide in the United States, and was the primary causal factor in the suicides of my two close friends.

3) Child Abuse

4) Domestic Abuse

5) The Sticker Policy in Narragansett Rhode Island/ Rights of Students: I strongly disagree with the tactics of the Narragansett police in the way they control and manage party prevention in Narragansett, especially with their Orange sticker policy, which I feel violates many basic, constitutional rights.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Project 3- Website Redesign: Reflective Post 3

My main task in the project now was to create a revised site map based upon the changes we as a group made to the URI SEC website. As I discussed, I had trouble in creating my first draft site map, but after talking about it with my group mates and Ms. Portman, I felt I would be able to do a good job in creating a revised site map. I started by creating my site map outline in Microsoft Word. Zach's "Before" site map had been done with a pen, and Ms. Portman advised that the revised map be done through Microsoft Word. After about an hour of playing around with various drawing tools in Microsoft Word, I created what I felt was a great structure for my site map. I realized that it would be extremely difficult to fill in the content of the boxes on my map (the boxes represent different pages on the site) in Microsoft Word, so I printed out my template and filled in the content of each page by hand, and also drew in my key. I felt that I had created a pretty good revised site map, but was still anxious to see what type of feedback I would get at the peer review session in class.

In class, I received no negative feedback, or even any suggestions for my site map. My group mates said they thought it was well done, and I received no criticism/suggestions from the group which looked at my map. I received nothing but positive feedback all around. For this reason I felt that my site map was fine as is, and I did not revise it any further.

As we approach the conclusion of Project 3, I felt it was definitely a positive learning experience for me. I will admit I did not enjoy it as much as the other projects. I am a Writing and Rhetoric major so I like projects that allow me to focus upon and hone my skills as a writer. This project was focused upon redesigning a website, and not so much writing, and this was something I did not like that much. Despite this, I still felt it was a valuable learning experience. One of the underlying themes of our class so far this semester is the fact that as time passes, our world and society, and in particular writing, is becoming increasingly electronic as an explosion in technology continues to pervade all aspects of our society. I'm sure that the website redesign skills I have learned in this project will come in useful somewhere along the line in my life.

Project 3- Website Redesign: Reflective Post 2

The next step in this project after we were assigned groups was settling on a website to redesign. I was actually the one who stumbled across the website we would end up using: the webpage for the University of Rhode Island Student Entertainment Committee. This website was a mess. It was in stark disagreement with all the major elements of a quality website that we read about in the Non-Designer's Web Book, lacked key information, and was just overall an unpleasant website to look at. It was in fact very painful to look at in many places. Me and my group mates agreed that this would be a good website to give a makeover. The next thing we did was we each posted our own design analysis of the website on Sakai forums. These analyses were based upon the major characteristics of a successful website (Alignment, Proximity, Repetition, Contrast). Secondly we all posted a Rhetorical analysis of the website, in which we evaluated the site's target audience, purpose, stance, genre, and media/design. I found both of these forum posts to be extremely important in the process of our redesign of the website. For me personally, these two posts allowed me to become increasingly familiar and comfortable with the idea of re-designing a website. I think I would have had a very difficult time if I had to jump right into the process of actually re-designing the site without first completing these posts. Furthermore, I think these posts allowed my group as a whole to establish a unified set of objectives and course of action into how we were going to tackle the problem of redesigning this site. This aspect of the project I feel allowed us to organize our thoughts and establish a clear-cut plan for redesigning the URI SEC website.

Soon after this we met in class with our groups to discuss our plans. We looked at our site together and discussed further details of how exactly we would approach our problems. During this class we were all given the task of completing a draft of a site map for the next class. We would then choose the site map that we felt was the best done, and that would be further revised for the final draft of our project. I struggled with the site map. I was thoroughly confused about the proper way to go about making one, and the product I ended up producing showed this. My site map was disorganized and hard to read, and was highly reflective of the confusion and frustration I felt in creating it. Ultimatley we decided that Zach had created the best site map draft. His way organized, easy to look at, and just made the most sense. Next in class we decided who would do what for the final draft of our redesign project. It was decided that I would be responsible for creating a revised site map based upon Zach's draft. I was initially a bit concerned due to my troubles with my site map draft, but I was confident that with more time and focus I could do a good job on creating a revised site map.

Project 3- Website Redesign: Reflective Post 1

At the beginning of this project, I was a little more worried about how I was going to be able to do on it than I have been on any other assignment in the class. I felt this way because while I am fully confident in my abilities as a writer, I have little to no experience in the field of website redesign. For this reason I was a bit nervous coming into this project. The first step that helped alleviate these fears were the readings we did in preparation for the project, in particular the readings from the "Non-Designer's Web Book." This book is extremely helpful and easy to read, and reading the chapters we were assigned helped me alot in becoming familiar with key terms and concepts that I would be dealing with over the course of the website redesign project. Key terms such as proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast, were all terms that I was completely unfamilar with previous to the reading, but after finishing the reading I really felt like I had established a sound foundation and now had a much better grasp of how to critically assess any particular web page. These readings were the first major step that allowed me to gain confidence and move forward as a productive, and helpful participant within my group.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Examples of Websites that Work Well and Dont Work Well

1) A Website that works well: www.uri.edu

This is URI's main websites and probably one of my most commonly visited websites. I have always felt that for such a massive, complex site, it is extremely well organized and easy to use. Due to its size, I believe it employs the style of Combined Organizational Structure and it works very well. The site is very easy to naviage and also works well aesthetically.

2) A Website that needs Work: http://urisec.tripod.com/

This is the Website for University of Rhode Island's Student Entertainment Commitee. I think this website could definitely be better, especially because the SEC is such a great committee that brings so much great talent to URI. The website is simple and easy to naviagate, but is very tacky looking and is overall extremely aesthetically unpleasing. I think this site has potential but could use alot of improvement.

Response to Palmquist Ch. 17 Reading

Personally I have little to no experience designing web sites, so this article was very informational for me and I think I will be a helpful resource for me during Project 3. As Palmquist points out at the very beginning of the article, in order to be a successful web designed it is most important that "you must have some familiarity with the range of websites you can create, such as informative websites, articles for web-based journals, magazines, and newspapers, business websites, personal home pages; and blogs, to name only a few of the genres that can now be found on the web." I think this article will absolutley be helpful for me as a begin to familiarize myself with the ins-and-outs of web design.

The first main concept introduced by Palmquest are the 4 primary characteristics of websites: Purpose, Audience, Design, and Style. As he expanded upon these four characteristics, he makes clear why each is critically important in creating a good, well-functioning website. I felt the best point that he made in this section was about Style and Audience, which I actually found to be interconnected ideas. He states that in designing your webpage your style "must reflect standards of the sponsoring organization and the characteristics of the target auidience. Voice and tone range from informal to formal." I felt this a valuable piece of information, as I feel that in designing a web page, the writer must always write in a style that is in complete coordination with their target audience at all times.

Next Palmquist discusses in detail the primary elements of digital design that set digital design documents apart from print documents. These key elements he lists are: -Links - Informational Flags -Pop-Up Windows -Digital Illustrations. I agreed with alot of what Palmquist was saying in his discussion of the function/proper usage of these four elements in web design. One point he made that I agree is a critically important component of any web page are pop-up windows. One of my biggest pet peeves web visiting a particular website is when I click on a link on the main page, and it navigates me away from the original page completly. I agree with Palmquist that Pop-up windows are important. I also agree with him that informational flags are extremely helpful too. I have always really liked websites that offer a preview of any parituclar part of the page by simply scrolling over it with the mouse. I feel this contributes to the overall efficency and ease of use of any website.

Next Palmquist discusses at length the three main organizational structures used in web design: 1)Liner, which is similar to a series of pages in a book 2)Hierarchal, where pages are linked together according to their hierarchy 3)Interlinked structure- Page is linked to most/all pages in the site. Palmquist makes a good point in stating that "each organizational pattern offers advantages for writers, depending on their specific purposes and their readers needs or interests." He also states that there is a fourth structure that is commonly used in web design, which is the Combined Organizational Stucture, which is essentially a combination of the first three structures mentioned. I feel that most major, complex websites employ this style.

What I found to be the best part of Palmquists article was the checklist at the very end. Here he essentially tied together everything he stated in his article and provides the reader with a clear-cut, easy to read checklist that outlines what are the essentials in creating a good,functional web site. I know for a fact that during project three my group and I will be referring to the checklist asd a guide.

Monday, October 12, 2009

3 Potential Wikitravel Entries

Focus Location: Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts

1) The Public Garden: The Boston Public Garden is a large park located in the heart of Boston, in the Back Bay region of the city. It is the largest and oldest botanical garden in the United States. Established in 1837 by Horace Gray, the 24-acre garden was formerly an enormous salt marsh, and was designed by George F. Meacham. The Public Garden is a great starting point for any tourist or person who finds themselves in Back Bay. The Garden features a plethora of diverse plant life, including a wide variety of native and foreign trees, and a rotating arrangment of flowers that changes with the seasons. The Garden also features numerous statues and fountains. In the center of the rectangular-shaped garden is a 4 acre pond, which in the spring and summer seasons is home to 1-2 swans, along with multiple other bird species such as ducks, comorants, and herons. Multiple turtles also live in the pond. From April-September, this large pond is also the home site of the Swan Boats, a famous Boston Tourist destination (See "Do" section for further detail on the Swan Boats). In the center of this pond stands the world's smallest suspension bridge, built over 100 years ago. In the corner of the park closest to Charles Street, tourists can view the famous duckling statues, based on Robert McCloskey's famous children's book, "Make Way For Ducklings." In 1987, the Boston Public Garden was declared a national historical landmark.

2) The Swan Boats: Located in the 4-acre pond sitting in the center of the Boston Public Garden, the Boston Swan Boats are one of the most famous and traditional icons of the city of Boston. Founded in 1877 by British immigrant and engineer Robert Paget, the Swan Boats have been preserved for over 130 years by the Paget family for tourist pleasure and enjoyment. There are six swan boats in total, which can carry the weight of 15-20 adults each. Each boat is pedaled by a Swan Boat worker (usually a high school-college aged student) who sits behind a large, white swan made of fiberglass located in the rear of the boat. For a small fee ($1.50 for children, $2.75 for adults, $1.70 for seniors), anyone can enjoy a relaxing 15 minute trip around the pond and take in a beautiful tour of the Boston Public Garden.

3) Newbury Street: One of the most famous, reputable, and popular shopping destinations in the United States. There is truly something for everyone on Newbury Street, which is located directly adjacent to the Public Garden.

3 Important Tips From the WikiTravel Manual Of Style

As we begin our second class project of creating our own "WikiTravel" page, I believe that the WikiTravel Manual of Style is a critical, useful, and highly necessary resource that I know I will use as a guide for creating a properly formatted article that works in accordance with the overall governing principles of WikiTravel as a whole. While I found the Manual of Style to be incredibly useful in all of its facets, I picked three tips for the Manual that I find is particularly important for Wikitravel writers.

1) Structural Style: In this section of the manual, aspiring Wikitravel writers can learn the rules and guidelines that are in place for the overall structure of Wikitravel as a site and travel resource. While I found all the tips in this section to be useful and important, one section that I think is crucial for all writers looking to create a Wikitravel page to view before starting their project is the section of this part of the manual titled: "What is an article?" This section guides writers on how and when to start new articles, and what constitutes material/information/locations that should and should not have their own articles. This part of the manual begins by laying out the 2 "competing principles" that dictate when a subject deserves its own article:

1) Articles should be relatively self-sufficient so that travelers can print them out, put them in their back pocket, and use for traveling around.

2) At the same time, articles should not be so long that they're impossible to read, print, and use.

While these principles alone are too vague to educate an aspiring Wikitravel writer on what exactly deserves its own article, this section of the Manual continues to expand in further detail upon this matter, explaining clearly what does/should get its own article (Geographical units on the geographical hierarchy, ex: continents, cities, districts, etc.) and what does not/should not get its own article (Individual attractions).

I find that this section of the Manual is particularly important for Wikitravel writers to carefully read as it provides very important tips and guidelines for writers in the earliest stage of development of a Wikitravel page. In order to get started on the right foot in creating a page that works smoothly as part of Wikitravel as a whole, the tips provided in this section are very important.

2) Formatting Style>Use of External Links: The "Formatting Style" is the next major section of the Wikitravel Manual of Style. This section provides a multitude of important tips concerning rules/guidelines in place for laying our and creating individual articles. This section provides the process through which Wikitravel works to take information and put it in a format that is readable and easy to use. One tip of this section that I found to be important for Wikitravel writers is the section that works to inform writers on appropriate and sensible usage of external links, and how/when they should be used. This part of the manual states, "In general the Wikitravel policy is that external links should be kept to a bare minimum, and only links to primary sources should be used." I think this is an important tip because Wikitravel writers who were not familiar with the Wikitravel policy towards external links may be inclined to use lots of external links, which they may think will bolster the quality of their page as a travel guide. In fact, this is far from the truth, and it is important for Wikitravel writers to know that anything more than minimal usage of external links (to primary sources strictly) is discouraged within the realm of Wikitravel as a whole.

3) Writing Style> "Don’t Tout": The third major section of the Wikitravel Manual of Style is comprised of a plethora of information/guidelines concerning the intended Writing style that Wikitravel writers should aim to practice. One tip from this section that I found to be important is the idea that Wikitravel writers should avoid "touting" their location they are writing about in describing/discussing it. By this Wikitravel means that in writing about a given place, writers should avoid being an "advertising brochure." The tone of the writing should reflect this. More specifically, this section states that writers should 'Try to avoid language that urges or pushes the traveler to do this or that. Instead, give the traveler the information they need to decide on their own."

I found this to be a particularly important tip because I know without reading this, I would have definitely written about my place (Back Bay Boston) in a tone that indicates how much I like this place, and even if I did not intend on it, I would have "touted" Back Bay in my writing to some degree. This policy of strictly informative writing is in accordance with the policy of writing for Wikipedia, which aims for complete neutrality and a continuous striving for an unbiased tone throughout the website.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Potential Ideas For Wikitravel

Having explored Wikitravel and how it works, I have arrived at my top 3 choices for the focus area of my personal Wikitravel project:

1) Back Bay, Boston (Boston is a huge city, so I will be focusing explicitly on the district within the city known as Back Bay)

This is my first choice for several reasons. Firstly, after examining the page that already exists, I noticed that there are several things about the page that could be improved with my personal knowledge and experience in this area. As an informational and helpful travel guide, I feel that the page that exists now is lacking in many areas. This part of Boston is a mere ten minutes from my home that I grew up in and I have lots of experience in this area. Since sophmore year of high school, I have spent almost my entire summer working at a business called the Swan Boats which is located in Back Bay. I have a broad range of information and advice I could see myself contributing to the already existent article: from places to see, things to do, places to eat, drink, along with the best means of transportation in the area. Back Bay is an awesome part of Boston and I think I could definitley improve upon the article that is up, moreso than my other two potential focus reasons. I am not yet sure if I would work on improving this article or creating an itinerary for spending a day here.

2) Needham, Massachusetts (My hometown)

Needham is a suburban, residential town just outside Boston where I have lived my whole life. It is my second choice because it is the place in the world that I know best and am most familiar with. There is little information on the existent page so I feel I could definitely expand upon it. However, the reason I don't think I will be doing my Wikitravel project on Needham, is because as a tourist destination, it is a very lame place. There are many good things about Needham. There is little to no crime, it has a tremendous school system that is improving still, as well as equally tremendous athletic and recreational programs for all ages. It is a great down to raise kids in, and I loved growing up there. But as a tourist destination, Needham is definitely not a hot spot. It is the type of town where on Saturday night at 9 pm, you won't find a single soul in the town center, which is a part of town riddled with an unnecessary amount of banks and lame shops. While I do think I could add to what exists on Needham's Wikitravel pages, I would be hesitant to do so because I would never really recommend Needham as a tourist destination for anyone.

3) Wellfleet, Massachusetts- Wellfleet is located near the Southern tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It is an amazing town and an extremely popular tourist destination in the summer. I have vacationed there every year for 1-2 weeks since I was a kid. I put it on my list of top three choices because I have so much personal experience here. Wellfleet is rich with beautiful beaches, amazing resteraunts, and elegant art galleries. There is something for everyone and Wellfleet, and I love it there. However, the Wikitravel page that is already in place for Wellfleet is highly informative and extremely in-depth and overall well-done. Looking at it, I am not sure if I could add any truly substantial, useful information. If I do decide for some reason to do Wellfleet as the focus of my project, I could perhaps create a day-trip itinerary.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reflections On Creating An Enthusiast Blog Pt. 3

The first round of peer revisions took place in an online setting, on the Sakai forums. This review was based on our blog's "rough draft." Both my group members gave me positive feedback and said they liked my blog very much. They also offered me some tips. Both of them told me that perhaps I should shorten my posts, as they were extremely informational and may overwhelm the reader. While I valued their advice and could definitely see where they were coming from, I decided not to shorten my posts. As I stated before, I intended for my blog to function as not just a documentation of my struggle to quit cigarettes, but a truly useful resource for people who want to or are trying to quit cigarettes. I felt that I inculded a substantial and highly informative content, and even though it was long, was necessary to include all the information that I wanted to present. One piece of advice I did take from this forum was to make my pictures smaller. At this time they were definitely too big. This peer review session was very helpful, even though it didn't translate into many changes in my blog. The positive encouragment from my group mates gave me confidence in my blog. Previous to this I had been nervous about the quality of my blog, and that it may not be very interesting to read. Now I had confidence in it. As we learned before starting the project, confidence is huge when creating a successful blog of any kind.

Next came the Peer Workshop in class on Monday, where we were to have ready a polished, essentially final draft of our blog, complete with our four example posts. Here I received more positive commentary on my blog, and some more minor tips that were helpful. Basically my group mates said they liked my blog, found it interesting, and that it just needed a bunch of grammatical work, which I fixed for my final draft of my blog.

With the aesthetic design of my blog, I decided to just keep it simple. I added pictures that I felt would add to my blog and relate well to the content, but I tried to keep it relativley simple. I didn't want to overwhelm the reader with the aesthetic appearance.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating an enthusiast blog. It was fun, interesting, and a great learning experience. As the explosion of technology in our society continues, our society will become increasingly viewed through the electronic medium. Due to this drastic shift, I feel it is definitely important for me to become familiar with how to use things like blogs and other methods of electronic communication that are beginning to dominate our culture. I see this project of creating an enthusiast blog as a valuable learning experience that has enlightened me to the world of blogging.

Reflections On Creating An Enthusiast Blog Pt. 2

Now that I had decided on the topic of my blog, it was time to begin customizing it. This began by creating a blog title, description, and authoring an "About Me" paragraph that could not exceed 500 words. I decided upon the title 'Up In Smoke" because I thought it was not boring, and may draw in a reader. For my blog description, I decided to keep it simple. Even though our this description could be up to 1200 words, I feel that the four words I chose to use ("Its My Time To Quit) perfectly describe what my blog is all about. Also, my "About Me" section provides more information to the reader about my blog. It tells why I decided to quit, and what the intentions of my blog are. I also tried to convey my personality to the reader through my this section.

As I prepared to author my first post, I considered who my target audience would be with this blog, and how I should tailor my blog accordingly. I wanted to make my blog interesting to all people; smokers, non-smokers, and in particular people who have or are trying to quit smoking. Based upon this broad target audience, I decided that the content of my blog would be a combination of information/material. I would document my own personal struggle with quitting, detailing the methods I was trying, how they were working, etc. Hopefully this documentation of my struggle would be interesting to people, but it would also provide structure and continuity to my blog. My posts and their content were to be based on my day-to-day experience in quitting.

I also decided that with my blog I could create sort of a resource center or reference for other people trying to quit. I felt that if my blog simply recounted my own daily efforts to quit, it may be kind of boring and wouldn't be very useful. I decided that in addition to documentation of my process of quitting, I would post detailed information about the options that exist for people trying to quit smoking. This way, not only would my blog detail my effort, it could potentially be useful for an audience of people who share my struggle and goal to ditch nicotine.

I feel my blog reflects this "two-pronged" function. It contains both details of my efforts to quit, and I also feel it is extremely factual and informational concerning the function, effectivness, and worth of quit-smoking options that exist. If my blog were to exceed 4 posts, it would continue to be presented in this manner: a combination of a documentation of my efforts, along with researched, scientifically-based information. Furthermore, in authoring my blog I aimed for a writing style that is clever, funny, interesting, and not too dry. I also included pictures that I found to be funny and sensical in relation to the content.

After creating a "rough draft," of our blogs, which featured our title, description, and About Me, it was time to enter the revision, fine-tuning, and completion phase of creating an Enthusiast Blog.

Reflections on Creating An Enthusiast Blog

I have completed my first project, and have created the beginning of an enthusiast blog. Creating an enthusiast blog was definitely an interesting and enjoyable experience. Coming into this project, I had no experience with blogs at all; reading or writing them, so I was slightly nervous that I was going to struggle in the process of creating my own blog. In the end though, it was a great learning experience that I took alot out of and also truly enjoyed doing.

Before we began crafting our enthusiast blogs, we read the article by Stefenac which served as an introduction to clubhouse/enthusiast blogs and how they work, what they are all about, and the critical components that make up a successful enthusiast blog. In the article Stefenac stated that the true success of an enthusiast blog comes with the passion the writer feels for their particular topic: "They are authored by individuals with an honest love of their topics and who take delight in cultivating both their topic areas and their audiences." The article also included excerpts from a real enthusiast blog written by Mr. Jalopy. This article was extremely helpful in familiarizing me with enthusiast blogs, and it really gave me a good feel for how they work and began to give me ideas for what I wanted to do with my blog. Reading and analyzing Stefenac's article laid the foundation for the process of creating my own enthusiast blog.

The next step was brainstorming a potential topic for my enthusiast blog. I knew that I needed my focus to be something that I felt passionantley about and would be a topic through which I could convey certain aspects of my personality to my audience. My initial five topics I came up with as potential topics did not actually include the topic I settled on. Around the same time as this brainstorming process was going on, I was undergoing my own personal struggle: quitting smoking. Just as it was coming time to settle on a topic for our blogs, I decided that quitting smoking could be the perfect topic for my clubhouse blog. My desire to quit smoking was something I felt passionatley about, and by documenting my struggle I felt I could portray my personality to my audience.

I concluded that quitting smoking would be the focus of my enthusiast blog. Now that I had taken this first major step of picking a topic for my blog, it was time to begin constructing my enthusiast blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Enthusiast Blog

Topic: I have decided that the topic of my enthusiast blog will be quitting smoking cigarettes. While this was not one of my original topic ideas from my first brainstorm, I think this will be a good topic for my blog that will also be interesting and helpful for me personally. I feel that this topic is specific enough, but not too specific.

Audience: I am honestly not sure what type of audience I would like to attract. I intend for this to hopefully be a blog that will be interesting for anyone to read, although I think it may be difficult to intrigue non-smokers to reading a blog about quitting smoking. Perhaps my primary audience will be people who can sympathize with my struggle and who share a similar enthusiasm and determination as myself towards quitting, this would seem to make the most sense.

Personality: Quitting smoking cigarettes is a process I have struggled with for almost a year now. I have made serious, concentrated efforts towards kicking the habit but have repeatedly relapsed. I truly want to quit smoking. It is a dirty habit that will have very serious, even possibly deadly, health consequences if I continue. But it is extremely difficult as nicotine is crippling in its addictive nature. Smoking is not only physically addicting, but it is habitually addicting as well. While I am still deciding on how exactly my blog is going to be arranged and formatted, I intend for my enthusiast blog to focus on the options that exist out there for people to quit smoking. Furthermore, I hope to include informational articles on this as well as on the extreme negative consequences that come with the habit of smoking cigarettes as well as updates on my own personal struggle with quitting, and details of the various methods I am employing.

Possible Titles: -Up In Smoke –Quitting Smoking –Beating Addiction –Smoking Addiction –No More Butts

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Potential Enthusiast Blog Ideas

1. Boston Sports: Perhaps my primary passion in life is sports. I grew up playing all sports, and have always loved playing, watching, writing about, talking about, and being around sports. I would narrow this down even further to Boston sports, as I feel most passionantley about Boston sports teams. I may even narrow this down further to focus on one Boston sports team in particular (Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins)

2. The City of Boston: I have lived in the city of Boston my entire life, and I love the city. Perhaps I could focus my enthusiast blog on some aspect of the city.

3. Food- I love to eat. All kinds of food.

4. Movies

5. Televison

Response to Stefenac

I found Stefenac's piece to be a fascinating insight into the world of enthusiast blogs, a world completley unknown to me. The article was interesting, humorous, and I know will be helpful as I work to create my own enthusiast blog. Stefenac illustrates how enthusiast blogs are the perfect settings for people to discuss and share their personal passions, no matter how quirky or strange they are, and also as an oppurtunity to put their unabashed selves on display. She in fact states that this willingness to do just this is perhaps the most important step in creating a successful enthusiast blog: "the enthusiast blog earning the most plaudits are those that not only highlight the author's obsessions, but that also serve as showcases for their personalities." I have no experience as a blogger, and I believe that Stefenac's piece, particullarly her "Tips for enthusiast bloggers" will serve as extremely helpful guidelines as I create my own blog.

The interview with Mr. Jalopy was a fascinating look into the world of an enthusiastic enthusiast blogger. He fully illustrates what it means to be a blogger and how you must go about this to be successful. I also liked what he said about why he prefers blogging to more traditional forms of print, media writing: "There is a big responsibility to be accurate with the facts in print media. If for no other reason, it is difficult to revise once the magazine is on the newstand. When I am writing for Hooptyrides, I am writing for my buddies. Fast and loose, peppered with dirty words and outrageous statements." Here Mr. Jalopy highlights what I truly see to be the biggest advantage of blogging: the oppurtunity to offer your unbridled, uncensored opinions on anything; an oppurunity most mainstream media outlets lack.

Before this class, I was very skeptical about the world of blogging and honestly thought blogging was kind of stupid. However now after reading Blood and Stefenac's pieces on blogging, I admit I am beginning to see increasingly the positive and useful aspects of blogging. I think this piece by Stefenac in particular will be extremely helpful in my creation of my own enthusiast blog.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Experience with Blogging

My personal experience with Blogging is little to none. This blog, which I have only created because it is an integral aspect of this class, is the first blog I have ever even though of authoring. To be honest, I have never created a blog because I never really thought anyone would be interested in the dissension of my daily activities, which generally consist of not very overly exciting events. Furthermore, as I stated in my previous post in response to Rebbecca Blood's article, the virtual world of blogging has always been extremely overwhelming to me. If I decided I wanted to dive into this world, I honestly wouldn't even know where to begin.

As a reader, I also do not have very much experience with blogs. I believe that I definitely use the internet less than the average person my age. While I check Facebook regularly, aside from this and school purposes, I do not spend very much time browsing the web. I suppose my only real experience as a blog reader is the occasional browsing through one of my favorite websites "barstoolsports.com." This website is a Filter-style weblog, authored by one man from my hometown of Boston who refers to himself as "El Presidente." On this site he posts a broad range of material: Funny Youtube videos, ridiculous news stories, Boston sports stories etc. In conjunction with all of the material he posts, 'El presidente" offers his own, often hilarious, often ridiculous opinions. My reading of this blog is more for mere entertainment and comedy purposes, not for the absorption of any real, useful information.

I hope that during this course, I will become increasingly enlightened in the world of blogging, perhaps even leading to an increase in my activity as a blogger.

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

To be perfectly honest, I have always been extremely skeptical, at best, about the relevance and usefulness of blogs. I was intrigued by this article because I hoped it would help shed some light on why blog's are becoming increasingly prevalent in every day society, and perhaps provide some arguments supporting blogs as a legitimately useful tool.

Blood's article provided a detailed account of the evolution of web logs. In concurrence with the rapid explosion of technology that has occurred in the past decade, the development of blogs was rapid. As Blood points out, in 1999, there were just 23 known blogs in existence. By September of 2000, there were thousands of them. As I stated before, the popularity of blogs is something that has always baffled me. Blood's article however, allowed me to understand a bit the function and attractiveness that blogging possesses. Throughout her article, Blood points out how blogs allow the public to be active participants in the daily media. Before the internet, the public received their media through a limited number of mainstream outlets, controlled by larger, corporate America. Blood's article pointed out to me the fact that the increasing prevalence and significance of blogging in the past decade has created a whole new element to mainstream news in our country, and the sources from which the public absorbs news. "Web log editiors participate in the dissemination and interpretation of the news that is fed to us every day. Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as the file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand" (Blood). Here I feel Blood best illustrates the main power the bloggers possess: The ability to provide thousands of alternative viewpoints and opinions to the mainstream outlets of the media that has fed our society essentially up until the creation of the internet. Furthermore, Blood points out how blogs have created an oppurunity for thousands to become active participants in our country's media. Blogs have made the dissention of information in our country to be an interactive process, and empowered everyday Americans to put their own spin on the world they see around them.

While Blood provided ample support for the benefits of blogging, she also illustrated the potential downsides of blogging. I believe that many people, like myself, feel a certain hesitiation or uneasyness about diving into the world of blogging. "But the average reader, hopefully clicking through to the Eatonweb portal, found herself faced with an alphabetical list of a thousand weblogs. Not knowing where to begin, she quickly retrated back to ABCnews.com" (Blood). here, Blood perfectly depicts my hesitance towards relying/using blogs as a regular source of information, and my continued reliance and trust in mainstream news outlets such as ABCnews.com. While I do understand that SOME blogs may be accurate, useful, and intelligent, I f eel the overwhelming ammount of blogs on the internet are mindless, useless, and more concerned with the viewpoint of the particular author, a viewpoint that I believe may often be more narrow-minded than traditional news outlets. Furthermore, the world of blogs is an overwhelming one. Its size and confusing nature alone is enough to steer me away. Furthermore, Blood points out the corporate power will always reign supreme over the media, and assure that the true power and significance of bloggers remains minute in comparison to major corporate media powers.

As a person with very little knowledge about the practice of blogging, Rebecca Blood's article was enlightening and interesting. It not only provided me with detailed information concerning the historical evolution of blogs, but also pointed out the pros and cons that come with blogs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What is Writing?

Writing is the expression of thoughts, ideas, emotions and feelings using words as the means of conveying these things to the reader. 

Home, Library, Workplace, Classroom