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.