Sunday, March 23, 2008

ghosts at the white house


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Identity Creation: Food for Thought For Facebook Fans

A week and a half ago at USF, Fred Stutzman (his interesting blog is here) academic/expert on Facebook in particular, talked about the Social Networking Site that has come to dominate teen/young adult social life.

I was interested to hear Stutzman speak for many reasons: Facebook is HUGE; identity creation/formation on Facebook has interested me- like how people create what they want people to think of them, like a sort of self- advertisement, which I thought of as a negative thing; and after reading a few blogposts of his I realized how Facebook is different from other SNSs, because it is situationally relevant, since it is rooted in an offline community (that community first being college campuses).

Danah Boyd, academic/SNS analyst (her interesting blog here), talks a lot of about identity formation on SNSs in her article Why Youth Love Social Networking Sites: the role of networked publics in teenage social life, which we read before Stutzman's talk for our Davies Forum on Digital Literacy class. In this article, she says, "...SNSs are providing teens with a space to work out their identity and status, make sense of cultural cues, and negotiate public life." She continues later on in this essay with, "the process of learning to read social cues and react accordingly is core to being socialized into a society...". The act of creating a virtual presence is surely different from creating one through our bodies- the digital process involves self-reflexivity through its articulation. So this was a new way that I thought about identity creation on SNSs before hearing Stutzman speak.

He said about identity creation that we are "writing ourselves into being," making decisions about what is going to represent us, and "creating commonalities," like hometown, interests, etc. He said Facebook is three things: a directory, a social management space, and a time- waster. He broke down the kinds of relationships SNSs create and what they mean. In our human relationships, we have strong ties, and we have weak ties. The strong ties are our family and close friends. The weak ties are our coworkers, acquaintances, etc. Strong ties are important of course, but weak ties are also important, he said.

He addressed the idea of the Social Network "friend." Who are these friends? How valid are our relationships with them? SNSs are changing the idea of friendship perhaps. Boyd says friends' profiles for teens provide a sense of what types of presentations are socially appropriate, and also that SNS friends are not just people one knows, but "public displays of connections. 'You are who you know'."

One issue users encountered with Facebook is that before the controversial introduction of the "mini feed,"users had one idea of what their "friendships" meant, and an idea of what their privacy was. Now, after the mini feed has been introduced, friendship means 'welcome to the stream of my life' (since the mini feed updates a user on the online Facebook actions of all their friends). So now a person would know everything that all of their "friends" were doing all of the time, even if they didn't necessarily want to.

Another issue Stutzman mentioned that Facebook users have is figuring out how to make the transition from college to the workplace, as far as what is appropriate to have on your profile. I am interested in this, as I have recently thought about the idea of "cleansing" my profile in preparation for job navigation. Stutzman said there are all sorts of "social negotiations" going on as we leave old friends and make new ones. Facebook allows for new opportunities for friendships to emerge as there are all sorts of "vectors for connection." This issue of transitioning social situations online and off is interesting too because his research shows when we create content on our profiles, we conceive that it is our close friends who are looking at our profile the most. But then the question looms in the air, 'what if my boss sees it somehow?' Cleansing is a precaution in these cases. But also, more interestingly, what if you are close friends with your boss?

So the whole idea of identity creation Boyd and Stutzman have a LOT to say about. Stutzman asked the questions, "Are we just ourselves? Are we creating new selves?" And Stutzman's company ClaimID lets you control your Google identity. Don't like what comes up when you google your name? Check this company out. Stutzman ended the talk with an eerie thought, "ID is interesting because it's sort of one of the last unclaimed territories." I encourage you to read more at Boyd's blog, apophena - making connections where none previously existed- and Stutzman's blog, Unit Structures.

Sweater Day

Mister Rogers, who believed YOU are special, would be 80 today. We should all be wearing sweaters today in honor of him. go here to find out more.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Foto del Giorno

Lorenzo de' Medici (1449-1492)
Indirectly ruled Florence from 1469-1492

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Photo of the Day

probably refreshing for some- graffiti across from the Adam's Morgan metro stop in DC

Monday, March 17, 2008

Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega 5B

Here's the plane Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic, and across the United States, both solo in 1932. Both were the first times a woman had made the flight. I was excited to view the plane at the National Air and Space Museum because for my voice for performance class I'm performing Amelia's acceptance speech for a medal awarded to her by the National Geographic Society after making the flight across the Atlantic.

"At 11:30 (pm) I plunged into the storm and met the roughest air I have ever encountered while flying completely blind. By blind I mean I could not see out of my cockpit at all. I had light there which of course, did not cast much illumination beyond the windowpane, anymore than a lamp in a house casts its glow far outside. For about an hour I could not keep my course absolutely. I was tossed about to such an extent that accuracy was impossible," Amelia said about her flight across the Atlantic, which took 15 hours.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Emira Woods and the Global Womens' Rights Forum

Tuesday night at USF, Emira Woods, native Liberian who works at the Progressive Think Tank- The Institute for Policy Studies- In Washington, D.C., spoke about the Firestone Tire company in Liberia, Africa.

In Liberia Firestone has their factory, because this is where rubber trees are. What is happening is that there is exploitation of workers in what can be seen as modern slave labor. The Institute heads the campaign against Firestone , which started in 2005, and has already made a difference, but is still waiting on a court date to see Firestone face to face.

Liberian Firestone workers are not paid enough for the work they do. They are given a quota to meet every day (in scraping trees' bark away to let the rubber drip out, letting it drip down, and then carrying 150 pounds of the rubber liquid in buckets for sometimes a mile). In order to meet this rate the workers bring in their children and wives to help them work- for no extra wage. Firestone is being charged with child labor and modern day slavery.

Their rebuttal to these charges is that they pay their workers the highest wage in the country. But this is no fair reply; there is no other company in Liberia that compares to Firestone. "It's an unequal lense," said Woods. Meanwhile, managers in the Firestone company live in Villas, and across from them live the workers in shantys with no running water, electricity, or plumbing. After being accused, Firestone has built houses for ther workers. They look great on the outside, but on the inside are not much different than their shantys. No running water or electricity or plumbing, and just one big room divided by a wall to make two rooms.

Woods was happy to be in the Bay Area, which she said is a special place for activism. For example, the Berkeley City Council, after hearing about this, voted unanimously to not support Firestone, and called the Institute to tell them this. The Institute did not even have to approach them, which is usually how it works.

Woods' speech was inspiring, hitting home about many important ideas. "Do we succumb as corporations gain more and more power? No!" She spoke about fighting corporate America, and understanding that: a different, better world is possible, where people are put first!; we are agents of change!; we have power as voters!; we can work together, seize our power as consumers to live our values (for example, can I see a diamond really as a symbol of love?) ; and mainly, Power to the People!

She said, "Governments are there to negotiate; they have to be pushed-which is the power of the people."

Among all these ideas is the important one of -connection-, a theme to this blog, and this semester, it is starting to seem. With stuff like this going on in Liberia, we have to make the connection to ourselves and be able to relate all as one people.

This is difficult seeing as how Liberians near the Firestone factory have only one place they can access the Internet: an expensive wireless cafe. But, in keeping contact with the institute, they do utilize other technologies such as: texting; Skype, in which they have a bi-monthly teleconference; podcast technology; a filmmaker (who made a short film about this); classic broadcast networks like CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera; and Youtube. "Youtube is huge for us," Woods said. You can view youtube clips of news reports on Stop Firestone's myspace page.

Delicious Meal, for the most part

For our Davies Forum on digital literacy class, the assignment was to make a delicious meal. I decided to make breakfast. I did my shopping at Trader Joes for this assignment. This first picture shows a main ingredient for the big dish of my meal. What do you think it is?

Correct! "Fresh Ricotta."

Trader Joes has a large selection of eggs. After watching the film by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Our Daily Bread in Sam Green's documentary class, now I always go for the cage free.

This is another main ingredient in my main dish:Portabella mushrooms!
With these three main ingredients, what do you think I am making?

Correct! portabello spinach frittata! hmmm difference between portabello/a? Maybe Lulu, a fellow Davies Scholar - who interviewed The Mushroom King- knows.

These are the ingredients for another dish in my meal (cinnamon, oats, canola oil, baking powder, nutmeg, applesauce, ginger, whole wheat flour, baking soda, vanilla, pumpkin, and two eggs).

What do you think it is?

Pumpkin spice muffins
! I got both of these recipes off of

Next up, smashed potatoes! Here are some red potatoes boiling.

When the skin begins to crack on the potatoes, you take them out and strain them

Then, lay them out on a dish towel.

Cover them with another dish towel,

And Smash them! (I just used my palms)

Then you will have what looks like this.

Then using a spatula, transfer the smashed pots to a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper as you wish, and bake at 425 -until they are done-. I think this might be about 15 minutes.

Back to the muffins. I have been searching for the perfect pumpkin muffin: healthy, dense with some oats, flavorful, and delicious. This recipe I found did not have oats, so I added some anyway and took out some flour. All ingredients together mixed, ready to go! bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Back to the fritatta. Slice up the portabella, only 3/4 cup

Some reviewers on said to saute the onions with the mushrooms first, and I took their advice. Then, mix all the ingredients together...

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes

...Et voila!

Et voila!

Et voila!

All in All, the meal was delicious. The frittata was great!
absolutely delicious. No notes necessary. As far as they muffins, I don't recommend and won't make them again. Perhaps, I will do what this woman, Tanya C, said to do. I wish I had seen it before I baked. I have been searching for the perfect pumpkin muffin recipe, and this was not it. It's largely because this muffin was so healthy- if it had not been as healthy it would have been more delicious. Though, I do believe a healthy (by healthy I guess I mean not a lot of sugar or butter), hearty and delicious pumpkin muffin recipe does exist. The potatoes were good too. But, I should have boiled them a bit longer and smashed them more, to enhance the crisp.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Speech Versus Writing

What I mentioned yesterday in a comment to Bryan Alexander, and also the listening of a podcast interview of a member of one of my favorite bands, and also the idea with fellow Davies Scholar Kelly about listening to historical accounts rather than reading, has made me think about this subject. I suppose the way I'm thinking about what follows is in a journalistic sense.

In one light, sound interviews can be so much richer than written interviews. Hear the intonation that may hint of sarcasm, the rising and falling of the voice, the dramatic pauses, the awkward silences, or excited chatter, the strength of the voice, the laughter, or giggles, the hesitation, and the sounds of the setting, etc. One can get a real sense of a person after hearing them. Physical voice has a lot to do with it.

But what about the art of writing? I guess the difference here is perspective. With the radio, you hear what you hear, what is there. Sure, people listen for different things, but there's a definite reality to sound. With writing, it's all perspective. Which is beautiful, because this is what art and education are- being exposed to someone else's perspective. And some people are great with description, and can use just the right words to create an image that is richer than what they would have heard from merely listening themselves. Writing also allows for clarity and deeper connection. With writing one has time to reflect and make sense of their thoughts in a linear fashion. One has to or it doesn't make sense. That's what writing is- making sense of things in a linear fashion. Speech is more scattered, except of course when the speaker is reading something out loud that is written, which often takes away all the beauty of speech anyway.

This makes sense in terms what's happening right now with the Internet, in one way. With people emailing more instead of speaking in person, and teenagers chatting more online to begin their adolescence rather than speaking, what is gained/lost? With web technologies increasing so much, videocasting and podcasting, and videochatting, maybe this isn't really a topic of conversation.

Written news will never die. Perspective is too interesting, too valuable.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Elephant Chase

-an elephant i had the pleasure to meet in menton, france

last night I had a dream an elephant chased me down a narrow winding stairway- but it was in good fun, I wasn't really scared. hmmm

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bryan Alexander, Web Wiz

I learned a lot from Bryan Alexander, including how to cut a crusty baguette properly. Baking bread is one of Alexander's hobbies apparently, so he knows what's up. (For the Davies Forum delicious food is a must along with our enlightening speakers, so Alexander shared the spotlight with homemade Chili from this fellow Blake and there was bread to go along with it). I know the bread cutting skill will probably be with me for the rest of my life, and I think some other stuff he said will be too.

At times it was hard to keep up with him, probably because I am new to some Web 2.0 lingo. Which is understandable. Alexander pointed out how Web 2.0 language sounds like Dr. Seuss language (Wiki, flickr, twitter, tweet, blog...).

The first thing that blew my mind was this website Twitter, and to tweet, are a noun and verb I did not know this context of. Anyone can sing up for a membership on and create "friends" like on Facebook, and then "tweet" to their online friends via cell phone or computer all day long. One tweets about anything, like how they're feeling at the moment, or their view on the latest news. And on twittervision, one sees a global map of tweets happening right now all over the world! AKA, someone can log on and see how people are feeling right now all over the world! Yesterday I learned it was raining it Amsterdam. I could have gone to and looked up the weather in Amsterdam, but why would I be looking up the weather in Amsterdam? I don't know about you, but I think this is pretty cool stuff. The world is changing.

Much of this change is due to collaboration, collective knowledge and research, and connectivism- the idea that we learn in networks. These are all large factors in Web 2.0. Think Wikipedia, blog and Flickr commenting, and things like twitter.

Connectivism is a part of Clay Shirky's very interesting article "Ontology is overrated: Categories, Links, and Tags," that we read last week for the Davies Forum on Digital Literacy. Shirky writes about categorization and the Internet, and he says, "the only group that can categorize everything is everybody." He points out that current ways of categorizing are out-dated in terms of the electronic world. The connectivism is everyone making sense of the Internet together, each having a hand in what it is. This is done in part by tagging. For example, i can choose what tags to put on this blog, and that changes the Internet a little bit. "By letting users tag URLs and then aggregating those tags, we're going to be able to build alternate organizational systems, systems that, like the web itself, do a better job of letting individuals create value for one another, often without realizing it."

Alexander works for NITLE,- a nonprofit initiative dedicated to promoting liberal education. Their organization is "dedicated to advancing learning through the effective use of digital technologies" ( and it seems like this is what Alexander is all about. Which is pretty cool. He mentioned the Pew Internet Study in December of 2007 about Teens and Social Media ( I think we felt cool telling him we had read this study already, in preparation for another speaker of ours, Mary Madden, of Pew). Anyway, Alexander mentioned from this study how more than half of teens are published authors now. He also said two years ago he thought by now most kids K-12 would have RSS feeds by now. Wouldn't this be great? Their feeds could be full of informational blogs about things they were learning in school. Alexander says he thinks kids don't have these because RSS feeds are "too geeky." I think the reason is that teachers don't even know about RSS feeds, so how would their students?

Alexander is also interested in Alternate Reality Games- computer games that involve real life and online experience to tell and create a story. One example of this is "Blood on the Stacks," a game created by Trinity University and their Coates Library. It was created in order to increase interest in the library and it has worked! It's a mystery game that takes place largely online but is also a real life treasure hunt. People have to be involved online to be able to enact the real life clues.

I asked Alexander how he thinks all of these new web technologies that enhance and multiply connection are changing the world. It seems he is positive about it but also recognizes that there are fears. Two of them are: Undermined traditional authority; and sexual predators. But that's a whole different blog post...