Monday, December 7, 2009

Looking for Themes

When I look through my process blog posts and project post-writes, I do see a few re-occurring statements.

1. I talk a lot about my love and avid usage of the web. I'm pretty much a professional web surfer, blog reader, Stumbler, e-mail demon, always looking for what's new and customizing the web just for me. Computers are one of the most important things in my life, not only as a tool, but as THE tool, an outlet, a platform, and a machine that constantly fascinates me. The web has greatly shaped me as a person, as someone who needs to learn and to search, to post and to communicate, to collect and share information.

2. I tend to have apprehensions but always decide to "dive in" to new things. In just about every project I voiced some kind of worry in the initial stage, but through my work I became either accepting of what was going or finding it more enjoyable or interesting or doable than I could have imagined. This is probably very important for my portfolio, because it shows that with an interest in something and no previously knowledge of HOW to do something, I still make great attempts to do my tasks, mostly because of my love and knowledge of the internet itself. I do not fear it.

3. My apprehension for group work comes up a lot. I really dislike "taking charge," but I do it anyway because I dislike being quiet and complacent even more. I suppose this isn't really something I'd like to highlight, but maybe I can spin it in a way that makes it look like a strength and/or and obstacle overcome. Likely the latter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Projects to Revise

After a lot of thought, I've decided to revise my blog project and my Wikitravel project.

I want to revise my blog because it is the most important project to me. It is something I'm proud of and was basically the best part of this class for many reasons. As it is, I know there are things that I need to fine tune.
-I'll re-edit posts for errors.
-I'll re-edit posts for content and fluency.
-I'll work on the aesthetics of the site. As it is, there are a few inconsistencies with fonts and alignment, so I'll make them as polished as possible and present the best looking blog I can produce.
-I'll consider the feedback Johanna gave me to anticipate the audience and not just myself as the reader of this blog.

As for the Wikitravel, I wanted to revise this project for two reasons. One, it was the only other non-group project, so it was something I had total control over from the beginning and it is 100% my own work. I suppose that makes me more comfortable than editing a group project. Two, I know for certain there are improvements to be made.
-I will add pictures of some of the entries I added.
-I will revise the written portions I added to the page.
Ultimately I think I did good work on my Wikitravel page and I'd like to see it perfected, because that is doable.

I do not want to revise the Ning site because I think it is very good as it is. I don't want to revise the Google site because I think it's a mess and the group aspect makes it even harder to tinker with. I don't want to spend all my time totally re-designing to fit my aesthetic.

Key Points from Kimball

After reading through the chapter, I think I figured out what makes a good web portfolio and what should be in it.

1. First and foremost, the portfolio needs polished and revised works, at least the two we're allowed to revise.

2. A clear thesis/theme for the portfolio is extremely important so that it connects the introductions and the works themselves.

3. The selected works should show off my strengths, but also show growth in areas that aren't so strong. A good example would be the collaborative web re-design since I've never done something like that before, I can at least show what I learned.

4. As in all portfolios, what's most important is understanding and proving the purpose of the course and really knowing what I learned; In this case, what it meant for me as a writer and as a web user.

5. As far as the web portfolios go, my work will be way more accessible to people because it's on the internet. That's an important thing to consider in terms of what I put in there and how I will be represented.

6. My web-based work will highlight my strengths and literacy on computers, unlike traditional portfolios.

7. I will also need to employ rhetoric, both in design and with the writing appeals in my introductions.

8. I will present my work to meet my standards, which are very high. It will be a good representation of the kind of writer/student/professional I am.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Group Process

I think the group dynamic is working quite well. Everyone seems to be on board with the cause even though I'm the only one who is personally invested in it. I noticed this especially when I wrote my "rant" for the Ning blog, which was a personal editorial about the harm of joking about Jews. It did feel weird to put all of my personal emotions out there, but at the same time, I've always been a writer who puts my heart into my work. It's liberating to show your heart to others, and I think in the case of my rant, important to see it from my perspective.

One of the group members seems to be a loose cannon of sorts, but I cannot judge him too harshly. I appreciate that he comes to class and attempts to work, but he's sometimes wildly inappropriate or careless with what he brings to the table for our project. I hope that by the time the project is completed he will have made his proper contributions.

When I look at the Ning site, I'm very proud of it. Not only because of the cause, but the aesthetics and the content. It looks very professional and appealing and all of our writing and research has provided the site with rich content. Unlike the last project, the website re-design, I am pleased with the outcome. The Google sites template was just awful, and it didn't reach my expectations. Ning, however, has done that.

What I've Learned

I've learned quite a bit about the anti-Semitism in the world: on the local level, the national level and the global level.

I know that New England is likely the least anti-Semitic part of the US, and because our cause is based in RI, we didn't thoroughly research other areas in the US. I'm really horrified to think of the kinds of anti-Semitic behaviors occur in the South, which my parents have always warned me about (if I were ever to go there). It sounds stereotypical to judge, but I know that the South is highly Christian and doesn't take kindly to Jews. The clip from Borat that I posted on our Ning site proves that (Throw the Jew Down the Well sing-a-long).

What really knocked me out was the intense anti-Semitic behavior in the Middle East, due to Israel and the Palestinian conflict. Man, they really really hate those Jews. I'm going to Israel in two weeks to see it for myself, and I'm so glad I had to opportunity to prep myself before my trip. I won't be seeing with ignorant eyes, for sure.

I don't feel that I can really defend or pass judgement on what goes on in the Middle East because the situation is so fucked up and has been for so long that I am in no place to point fingers. What does sadden me is the intense hatred and lies being spread about a group I belong to, the false claims made about the evilness of Jews and their lust for power and control of the world. I know that's wrong. I'm glad I made this my cause.

Our Cause

I came up with the cause our group decided upon, which is anti-Semitism. I was really reluctant to vote for my own cause because I didn't want to dominate the group, but everyone complied. There were other great options as well, but since anti-Semitism is such a vast and relevant topic locally and around the world, we decided to go with it.

Anti-Semitism seems to be the most important topic to me out of everyone in the group, because I'm the only Jewish group member. Trying to end anti-Semitism is probably impossible, but I'm excited to take a stab at creating awareness and educating people about the wrongness of bigotry and prejudice against Jews. It's something I have certainly faced directly, but nothing compared to what others go through.

It also makes me think of the racism and prejudice against all other ethnic or religious groups -- the topic of our project has opened my eyes to how much injustice is in our society.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

3 Post Ideas

1. Teaching Tolerance in Schools

2. The Importance of Providing Knowledge (Speakers, Presentations) to the Public

3. Discouraging "Jokes" about Anti-Semitism 

Monday, November 16, 2009

From what I've seen on, Ning seems like a combination of Facebook and Blogger. Very cool!

I think that Ning seems like the perfect place to host the promotion of a cause on the internet. Unlike Facebook, this website is geared at people who are like-minded and focused. It seems to provide all the tools for a digital native to become a dutiful citizen and activist!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Boyd Vs. Bennet

I suppose I'll start my comparisons/contrasts of the two articles by commenting on the quotes I found most interesting.

From the first reading:
"We may wish to blame the technology for creating self-absorbed people, but more likely, egoists love social network sites because of their desire to exhibit themselves for the purposes of mass validation."
True. It's crazy to think that MySpace created MySpace whores, these whores just found an incredible social platform in MySpace. Even taking it way down from "whore," mostly everyone I know does put "their best foot forward" on their SNS because why the hell not? And when this topic segued into how musicians, politicians and the like use this same form of egotism to their benefit, I found it insulting how if I don't have a "cause," I shoud be criticised for flaunting myself on the internet. Who cares?

"Most users no longer seek out chat rooms or bulletin boards to discuss particular topics with strangers. Instead, they are hanging out online with people that they already know."
False. In the SNS world, maybe true, but that's a grand generalization and an insult once again to my generation. However, blogging is where this takes place, for sure. The most politically active and opinionated and EXPRESSIVE people I've encountered where in the blogosphere, where smart people write well-informed editorials about their political or causal opinions and equally well-informed commenters do their thing on the comments page.

In the second reading:

"perhaps we need to focus on the causes of alienation and disillusionment that stop people from participating
in communal and civic life. If we can figure out how to activate unmotivated groups, perhaps we can convince them to leverage their own networks and convince others to participate."

Here's your answer: Kids today have nothing threatening them. When I took a class about Rebels in American Film, we labored over the 1960s in the US and the wildly political and forcefully active ways of the youth. We debated this thoroughly, and Facebook "causes" or "groups" came into the conversation. Is this how kids rebel against what ails them, is this how they become activists? By uploading images and copy/pasting text into web templates and clicking about until "1,000,000 Must Join This Group To End World Hunger?"
Well, in the 1960s, consider the severe communication breakdown between generations, the youth and the adults, the new wave and the government, the JFK/MLK assinations, Nixon, fucking VIETNAM DRAFTS. Kids didn't have anything to do but fight back, and there were no PCs to sit back and fight through. There was the cosmic bonding of like minds, rock music, LSD and riot euphoria. Today, kids live a cushy life, waltz into college and are likely being taken care of by mom and dad or the government, and yet are the first to be apathetic and judgemental of politics and turn a deaf ear to it all and play video games instead of reading about what the fuck is going on in the world. Why should we care? We don't live in Darfur, we can afford gas for our car, we're not on welfare and we're not enlisted in the military.

Kids have nothing to fear, nothing to really threaten them, that's why they're apathetic, that's why they don't read the news, and that's why the Internet is used for collecting porn better than it is for youth civic action.

"Those environments should offer rich resources and peer training in the public communication,
organizing, and advocacy skills to help young people develop more effective voices and action."
Here's the solution. There is no doubt that youths today are motivation, opinionated, well-informed and well-equipped to become to dutiful citizens their parents want them to be. I know people like this here at URI. One of my best friends has become one of the most politically active and well-informed people I know, and she's 21 years old. And you know what she DOESN'T do? Rely on Facebook to get her message out there. Sure, she posts links, creates events, joins groups, etc. But she uses her actual, physical form, walks outside and talks to people, hosts live events, does research, attends meetings, listens, learns, and inspires people. If such an environment existed to train the hungry young people out there, then progress seems certain. I'm sure my friend would agree.

My thoughts on the two readings are basically that neither of these writers should make such rash generalizations about my generation, regardless of their research. They are mostly correct, but they can't assume that the opposite is untrue as well. I think Facebook isn't the way to go, because that's not what it's for, and they need to get over it. Blogs are where they should go to spread their message and gather their followers. And colleges shouldn't give up on their goal to train young people into adults. Go to seminars, talks, colloquiums. Dutiful Citizen professors and instructors should make this sort of live action available. The internet is not the starting point, but it can be the highway that spreads the information across the world.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

5 Causes

5 Causes that are important to me.

1. Awareness of and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism (dispelling negative stereotypes and fighting against anti-Semitism that still exists and is taught around the world today).

2. Promoting Modern Feminism (dispelling negative stereotypes of feminism, helping others understand feminism and why it's important and HELPING/SHOWING MODERN WOMEN WHY THEY SHOULD CONSIDER THEMSELVES FEMINISTS.)

3. Support of the GLBT community

4. Pro-choice

5. The Green Movement -- I'm not hugely involved or passionate about it, but I fully support it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Website Re-Design Part 3

After our peer revision, I felt that our group was able to grasp more control over our project. Hearing the critiques of other groups put our work in perspective, which a good thing.

Even though I personally am not thoroughly impressed with the Google Sites version of our website, our feedback was pretty good! They peer group that revised us didn't like the lack of neatness of our site maps, which I was responsible for. I personally didn't care to hear that criticism, because they didn't even give us their revised site map, while I provided 3 copies of the original and revised site map, clear enough to read, but too "sloppy" for their tastes. Whatever. I drew it by hand. Regardless, Kelly of our group is cleaning up the site maps for our final, anyway.

I noticed how different our approach was when we were reviewing group 6's website, the URI Surf Club website. They took a very different route from us. They dulled down the graphics from their original website, which to us didn't make sense. Our criticism was mostly based on the fact that since their target audience is college surfers, making the website look more wild and fun was a good thing, not a bad thing.

The only thing that bothered me about the peer review was the grading. We gave their group a 7.5, which I thought was tough but fair. That was based mostly on the fact that they did not include a revised site map at all, and they seemed to have degraded certain aspects of the website where they didn't need to.
They gave us a 7! Because they think we needed to change some colors and alignment. Clearly we're not all on the same page here!

I'll be happy when this assignment is over.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Website Re-Design Part 2

As it turns out, this assignment has become more difficult than I initially imagined. I'll talk about why:

First, I feel the time restraint. We have very little in class time to work on this as a group. Luckily, no one in my group is a moron, so we don't have to deal with that. It is difficult to quickly and succinctly articulate something, get everyone's approval, delegate tasks, etc, in less than 50 minutes. We have no time to be awkward around each other as strangers, or be overly-polite with our judgements and criticisms.

Second, Google Sites. What a fuckin' bummer. With all the knowledge we accrued from our readings, we were set and ready to go in order to create a kick ass, simple but nice looking website. And while we as a class decided to go ahead with using Google Sites to host, we clearly didn't know what we were signing up for. The templates interface are somehow both too simple AND too complicated. I have to dig around to find out how to alter something, only to find that I care barely alter anything. The website looks, with all of our work, like an example of a bad website! I'm so frustrated about that. I know we are capable of making something better, but I'm feeling now that Google Sites isn't really going to help us achieve that.

Third, I am sort of pissed at the project itself. It seems like we were doomed from the start. Even though I asked the questions I needed answered, the whole assignment really feels up in the air, and in a group that only makes things more difficult to secure. We're emailing, we're meeting in person, we're on Sakai, and nothing is really coordinated. We're just sort of blinding marching forward. I don't think this is a bad assignment, but somehow it seems to be failing to be productive.

Today's class is the peer review, where we can finally hand off our progress for someone else to critique. I'm expecting to hear good and bad, which is fine. I'm also expecting the same apathy that other groups are probably feeling right now, too.

Website Re-Design Part 1

For our most current project, we were placed in groups and asked to select a crappy website to redesign, using the knowledge we learned from the Non-Designer's Handbook, chapters 6 and 7.

I am a great fan of the web, and an avid user of websites. I have never really dabbled in web design, but I sure can appreciate good design and spot poor design. I felt confident with the initial assignment, I didn't feel like I was in over my head. I also really enjoyed the chapters and found the content interesting. It's always cool to read about something that usually isn't discussed unless one is talking about creating -- you don't think about what makes a good website, your eye and your brain just click and you know. Reading the chapters got me into the zone about what it takes to make a good website.

Working in groups often freaks me out, because I am weary to trust others. However, since the classes I'm taking have become more focuses, the same usually goes for the students: we're more focused, more mature. I tend to always want to "get shit done," as in, I won't sit and wait for someone to start planning, and if no one does, I take over. I refuse to slack off, to be unclear, or to not speak my mind.

In this case, I trust my group members. I communicate a lot, and if that's annoying, I don't care, because we're lucky to have SOMEONE talking and getting things moving. I don't want to power trip and be the "boss" so I always ask for everyone's opinions, ask questions, leave things open for discussion. Does everyone in my group take advantage of that? Not really. That's life, though.

We definitely had our work cut out for us when we chose the website for Scandinavian Sun Tanning. I actually go tanning from time to time, believe it or not, and while I'm not the "target audience" for a tanning salon, the subject isn't foreign to me and I can appreciate a good website for such a service.

The website is shit. It's yucky, hard to read and sloppy as hell. We had no problem identifying what was wrong and decided what we could improve. How will this work out? I don't know yet.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Google Sites

My reactions to Google Sites is not bad at all.

I can see why the more sophisticated website designer or whatever might be hesitant or dissatisfied with the website building software. It is basic.

But, I can see why. It's meant to be un-intimidating to the non-designer. I feel that it can create a fine looking website. It seems like the creator won't have much room for creativity but still, a good option for someone looking to create a legitimate website without much knowledge of say, Dreamweaver or HTML coding.

If this is the site we will be using to re-create our crappy website, then I don't think it will be a problem. The site is so bad as it is I'm sure anything we do will be an improvement.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Good Website and A Bad Website

I'll start with the bad website, and unfortunately, it's the official website of my favorite band, The Eagles of Death Metal (that's me with the lead singer in the avatar) .

This website needs a lot of work. It's so basic! There is about as little info on this website as possible for it to be considered a website. It acts more like a fan forum, which is fine, but numerous bands have tons of fan-centric websites that have message boards, fan photo uploads and the like. This is the band's official page! I need a band history, I need official lyrics, I need more legitimate information from this band, period.

Here's a website that's so good it's scary: The Internet Movie Database

I've noticed that this site has changed it's aesthetics over the past year or so and added a lot more features. However, I don't think this has deterred from the website (i.e., over-cluttering) but instead has just broadened its usability. Basically, it has a lot of info in easily digestible pieces, the formatting is clean and simple, the navigation is clean and logical but not "too" connected. It's also OFFICIAL, which is a huge plus. I has forums and message boards, but that's secondary to the real facts.

Palmquist Chapter 17 Reactions

As an avid and long-time user of websites, I found much of the information in the reading understood already. I have dabbled in web design and I work extensively in the Web format, for fun and professionally.

What stood out to me was the intricate diagrams of website organizational structure. I found that I had experienced this in designing DVD menus. Simple DVD menus use a linear format (like if I were to create a DVD for a short film I had made with few links) whereas more complicated ones (like the ones on professional consumer DVDs) use a hierarchal organization. Having seen the actual formatting of such a concept before, it really intrigued me when I thought of how it applied to something massive, like a website. It would be quite a task to design the linked navigation of a site's pages, if they have a "breadcrumb trail", if they use a navigational bar at the top of each page, or if one must click the homepage link to get back to where they started.

Other than that, I must say that most of this chapter was mostly common sense to me. I fully understand the importance of simplicity, not only for the sake of the user but for the sake of one's computer drivers working extra hard to load complex page designs. I'm a big fan of the informational flags and I wish every website used them. Consistency, clarity, and logic are the key values of creating a well-functioning website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wikitravel: The Bad

When first faced with this project, I must admit I was apprehensive. We were asked to list three places about which we felt knowledgeable. So naturally I thought of my hometown and the only place I've ever really lived, Warwick, Rhode Island. The problem was that Warwick is epically boring. I know that compared to probably thousands of cities and towns, Warwick is worthy of writing, but I checked out the Wikitravel page on Warwick and found it to be completely accurate. And boring. Needless to say, I wasn't going to go there.

Fortunately, I knew that Providence was the second-most comfortable place for me. As I stated in the previous post, the page for Providence is enormous but luckily I found plenty to write about.

I was very glad I didn't have to create a new page, that I'm not from a small, unknown town, because starting from scratch would have created a lot more work for me and who knows if I would have had anything to say?

I did run into one very unusual and somewhat bizarre problem with this project. Here's what happened: Like I said in the previous post, the "History" section for Providence was blank, so I knew that I would be taking on writing something for that spot. Naturally, I first looked to to get an idea for my entry. I took some notes based on what was written, like the chronological order of the information (starting from the city's inception, through time until current day) and major points of interest (dates, industries of notability, Buddy Ciani, etc.)

I then began to draft my own, condensed version of Providence's history. When I felt like I had enough info, not too long and not too short, I posted it into Wikitravel. I did this with the "Climate" section as well, using for important points and re-writing it to fit Wikitravel's audience.

Well, within about 2 minutes of posting in Wikitravel, I noticed a glowing red dot next to the "talk" link at the top of the Wikitravel page. Basically, some user named Peter something or other had flagged my posts as plagiarism of I was shocked and really personally offended. My posts which I had spent a good amount of time writing were instantly taken down.

I responded to Peterwhatever and said, "While I did reference for the basic information on my postings, I in no way plagiarized the webpage." Peter guy responded saying that the paragraphical format and certain words I used were too similar to the Wikipedia page of Providence's history. He said that it's a violation to do what I did, but probably tried to sweeten the scold by saying "We do want you to take a crack at writing your own history section because there isn't one!" I was very, very pissed. I had written my own. Accusations of plagiarism are not minor, not to me.

So I re-read my post draft and made as many modifications as I could, including shortening it considerably. I figured Wikitravelers really wouldn't care about a detailed history of Providence anyway. Ditto for climate. I re-posted, and with great paranoia stared at the top of the page for the glowing red dot to appear again. Thankfully, it did not.

Wikitravel: The Good

This Wikitravel project turned out well, in my opinion.

I chose to modify that page of Providence, Rhode Island. I enjoyed reading what the page had to offer and found instantly that there was room for improvement. For instance, pages of large cities and state capitols tend to have lots of information, of course. Providence, being both of those things as well as a city of early historical importance, needed a "History" section. The page as it was had nothing there! It was a great opportunity for me to take it upon myself to write up a brief history of Providence to include on the Wikitravel page. The "Climate" section was the same situation.

As I read, I noticed how much was missing from Providence through my perspective. I spend a lot of time on the East Side and in the arts/alternative scene and found only a bit of information in those areas. Mostly, the page included lots of stuff about the business districts and Federal Hill. I knew for a fact that at least 2 festivals and a handful of restaurants and bars were missing that young travelers like myself would like to know about. So, in this case, I was happy to include my own info with ease.

I also was excited when I saw that the page didn't include my favorite, little-known museum in Providence, the Natural History Museum and Cormack Planetarium at the Roger Williams Park. Not only is it fun, but it's EXTREMELY family oriented and would be a very valuable knowledge for families traveling with small children. It's small, under-appreciated places that need recognition on these Wikitravel places, so I was happy to contribute what I knew.

The page was so massive and full of info that it seemed almost overwhelming to add to. I also know for a fact that could have added at least 10 more entries, but I didn't have the time and didn't really need to make more work for myself. In total, I contributed:
A history section
A climate section
A museum and planetarium
2 Festivals
2 Restaurants
2 Bars

and like I said, I could have added so much more!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Post Drafts

1. Providence's History

Providence was settled by Roger Williams in June of 1636, making it one of the thirteen original colonies of the United States. The land was previously occupied by the Narragansett natives. Providence was created as a refuge for those persecuted for their religion, as Williams had been exiled from Massachusetts for abhorring Puritanism.

The British government impeded Providence’s growth in the mid-1770s with levied taxation upon the pivotal maritime, fishing and agricultural industries. An example is the Sugar Act, in which a tax was levied against Providence's distilleries that negatively affected slave and rum trade. Such taxes were the cause of Providence’s joining the allegiance against the British Crown. This led to the famous Gaspee Affair of 1772, in with the residents of Providence led the first violent attack of the American Revolution. Brown University’s University Hall was famously used as a barracks and military hospital during this time.

After the war, Providence’s economical industries changed from maritime enterprises to manufacturing, especially machinery, tools, jewelry and textiles. Once touting some of the largest manufacturing plants in the US, Providence was the country’s ninth-largest city. Such industries drew many immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, England, Italy, Portugal, Cape Verde and French Canada, all of which greatly contribute to the demographical populations of the state today.

The jewelry industry boomed in the 1920s, employing new immigrants coming from Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian backgrounds. The Great Depression hit hard economically, leading to population decreases and a decline of nationwide trends. The 1950s through the 1980s saw a tremendous rise in organized crime, of which Providence was notorious. Mafia boss Raymond L. S. Patriarca ruled the Providence mob scene. 

The “Renaissance City” got its nickname in the 1970s, starting with the investment of millions of local and national funds throughout the city, which helped stabilize falling populations. In the 1990s, Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Ciani Jr. pushed for an emphasis on the city’s strength in the arts and revitalized the city’s natural landscape. He uncovered Providences' rivers, relocated a large section of the railroad underground, created the now famous Waterplace Park and river walks, and sanctioned the construction of the Bank of America Skating Rink and the sprawling Providence Place Mall. 

2. Climate

Providence’s climate is between humid continental climate and humid subtropical climate. This means warm summers, cold winters and year-round high humidity. Providence, along with the rest of Rhode Island, is warmer than many other inland areas in New England due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean.  On average, travelers can count on January to be the coldest month and July to be the warmest. The record high temperature in the city was 104 degrees F in 1975. The record low temperature in the city was -17 degrees F in 1934.

Providence receives abundant precipitation year round, as do all populations along the seaboard.  Summers are rainy, but winter months are known for the powerful Nor’easter storms that bring copious snowfall and blizzard conditions, albeit lesser than the northern New England states. Providence’s location at the head of the Narragansett Bay creates vulnerability to hurricanes, but such events are rare. 


The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium at Roger Williams Park:



Founded in 1896, the Museum of Natural History is Rhode Island’s only natural history museum and houses the state’s sole public planetarium.  The museum is modest in size, yet houses an impressive array of local selections:  birds, marine animals, insects, floral and faunal species, minerals, fossils and much more. Exhibits specializing in the tools and textiles of New England’s Native American populations can bee seen here.  It’s quaint colonial style of architecture is history lesson in itself. See the museum for a quiet and intimate learning experience. This museum is highly recommended for children, as it hosts tons of fun, interactive activities and workshops.

The Planetarium is free to visit at any time for browsing. The shows, at a cheap cost, are well worth it: the Planetarium offers multiple programs such as Cosmic Collisions, Field Trip to the Moon, Our Place In Space, Sky Views, and much more. Shows rotate often and are offered to both general and family audiences.  The planetarium now features a state of the art Zeiss star projector and an enlarged domed ceiling, which is able to show the starry sky and the motions of the planets at unprecedented detail. 

3 Wikitravel Tips

After reading through the Manual of Style, I think three tips for a new Wikitravel writing are:

1. If reading all of the explanations and directions is giving you a headache, just "plunge forward" and starting writing. You can always go back and re-format or tweak your articles. 

2. Structurally, there are more than one way to create a Wikitravel page, which you an check out on the website.  

3. They included parts about where to add Queer information on WIkitravel, and why it doesn't have its own header or category. Basically it just says to add "queer" in the appropriate headings, (queer friendly restaurants under Eat,   GLBT parades under Do.).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

3 Ideas for Wikitravel

Honestly, I don't feel very comfortable with this assignment. I have a great knowledge of Warwick, RI, my hometown, and there's nothing special about this place and everything there is to be said about it already exists on the Wiki page. I am more interested in Providence, and know a considerable amount of info about the city, and there are many things in the Wiki article that I could elaborate upon or add. 

1. Providence, RI
2. Warwick, RI  
3 ----

I can't think of another place that I know enough about. Like I said, there's nothing much to add in the Warwick page, and there's much to add to the Providence page. I know of restaurants, stores, attractions, events and nightlife that currently isn't included on the Wiki page. 

Monday, October 5, 2009


My first reactions to Wikitravel was that this seems like a very cool concept and something that could be extremely useful to me. I don't travel a ton, but as I'm getting older I'm more interested in traveling with my friends and something like Wikitravel could really maximize the potential of a trip. I think that an open-source website that's created entirely of real people's real experiences is a fantastic tool in planning a trip. I found the tone to be light and playful within the text, overall a very friendly environment. Looks good!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Other Enthusiast Blogs

The peer review of the enthusiast blogs was a helpful experience and surprisingly gave me a lot to think about.

First, there was the response I got from others on my blog, Rock and Vogue. The people in my peer group were two dude-bros. Like the opposite target audience for my blog. However, they were really into it! They liked my About Me and my point of view, they liked my design. One of the guys told me to include my inspirations for why I like to write about what I write. I added that and I think it was a great observation. I don't know of they fully appreciated my posts but they liked my writing style. Hearing that from people who wouldn't automatically love what I do is a good sign.

Reading their blogs was also interesting. I like helping others think about this sort of thing because I think I'm very good at not being ethnocentric when it comes to others. I can keep a very open mind and try to understand where others are coming from. I enjoyed reading what I normally wouldn't, a basketball blog and a blog from the POV of the college male.

Something that came up in our review session was whether or not to write for ourselves and the (possible) audience it might attract. On the other hand, should we be more inviting to our potential readers and make our posts easier to understand for a wider audience? We decided basically that we shouldn't limit ourselves, but do keep in mind that some readers might not "get it."

Rock and Vogue is Tricky

I've run into a few small issues in this blog.

Post length worries me. I don't want to ramble, but I have a very overly-descriptive style of writing (and speaking) that concerns me. Summarizing or just scratching the surface in my posts is something I really want to avoid, because if I do that than what's the point of reading Rock and Vogue? I feel it's important to give insight, show the back story, and really set the tone.

I want to create an ambiance, a mood for the readers. Like they're coming to my apartment and we're looking at clothes and records and pictures together, and I'm giving you the dirt, a lesson in fashion, pop culture and rock music. But that sounds like reporting, which is no good. Should I leave room for commenters? I want people to comment. I want it to be fun!

Sometimes I worry that my choice of vocabulary is ... a turn off. I tend to use big words. I like big words because they are specific and significant, they help make the points I'm trying to convey. David Bowie isn't great, he's magnificent. The clothes aren't ugly and weird, they're obscene and outlandish. I wonder if it makes me sound pretentious. I wonder if it's something readers will like or dislike.

Ultimately, my greatest concern is that since I'm no expert on my topic, I might get the info wrong, or miss out on something I should have included and I'll find myself being disregarded by readers. That is, if anyone ever reads this blog and is able to make that accusation.

Anyways, those are the main things I've learned from this blog project that concern me a bit.

Rock and Vogue is Awesome

I love writing this blog and I'm having a great time with it.

I thought at first that having a specific topic would be constricting, but I realize now that it just requires more creativity on my part to come up with interesting post ideas.

I like doing the research that is involved with my subject matter. Since I need to back up my analyses with information and facts, I find myself scouring the internet, asking people their opinions and hitting up my mom and dad for info on the decades in which I was not alive. Since I love surfing the internet and love learning new information and love learning about topics of interest EVEN MORE, I find this process enjoyable, if a bit tedious.

I love my web page design and have received a lot of positive feedback on my formatting. My description blurb does jump around on each computer I view it on, though. I helped remedy that by omitting the border around the header. While I miss the color it added, it helps make the description look less fumbled and it's less distracting without it.

I really love reading blogs and I like using what works for me as a reader in my writing. Hyperlinks are awesome and a must for me. I reference other things a lot and it's not only helpful to hyperlink an explanatory web page, it's hella fun to click around and see more stuff (it is for me, anyways). Including videos and images is essential for my type of blog and I think it's really fun to watch and listen to the music I write about. I've also realized that videos can also be newsreels, interviews, and more.

Fun things I could do in the future are add a playlist section at the end that could highlight a few songs, selected by me, that I want readers to check out. They'll correspond to the genre in the post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Enthusiast Blog is Screwed

I'm having some issues formatting my enthusiast blog.

1. I manipulated the html code to change the layout. Now, every time I look at my blog on a different computer, the layout is royally screwed up.

2. I added an About Me section and it will not show up on my page.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rock and Vogue - About Me

Why should you take my word?

I was twelve years old when I became obsessed with rock and roll music. As corny as it sounds, something inside me burst into life when I watched those men and women scream and sing and pummel their instruments. Those artists oozed with confidence. Some of that ooze got under my skin. 

I failed an eye test at school and was sent to get new glasses. I went to the local Lenscrafters. I peered at my mousey face in the mirror, onto the silvery circles that framed my glowing eyes. 

I looked up at my mom and told her I wanted thick, plastic, horn-rimmed glasses. She laughed. I stayed steadfast and serious. "Why?" she asked. "Because," I replied, "I want to look like the lead singer of Weezer." Amused, my mother obliged, and when I put them on, I got my first glance at the girl I was about to become. 

By high school, I added the combat boots, the baby doll dresses, the studded belts, and the slashed t shirts. During 5th period my arms became covered in ballpoint tattoos. I put a few extra holes in my head. 

And without fail, I snatched the "Rolling Stone" magazine that fell through my mail slot each month. I'd run into my room and slam the door with my glossy Bible in hand. I would sit and read the whole thing, cover to cover: every album review, every profile, every artist on the rise, every photo spread, even the Billboard charts. I would tear out the pictures and plaster my walls with rock star style. There was Beck's dapper suit and tie/fuzzy hair and sneakers look, Gwen Stefani's strappy pants with crop tops and Bindi facial jewelry, Alkaline Trio's crisp white Oxford shirts splattered in fake blood and their piercing, dark lined eyes. 

My love of the music and its fashion kept growing and stretching, and I absorbed countless trends into my personal style like I was picking apples from a tree. I went through a metamorphosis every few months, until my classmates were thoroughly confused as to who I was supposed to be. 

And who am I? I'm the same lady I was then, except I'm much more polished than I was with the tattered pants and dog collars. I'm someone who isn't afraid of change, who's always dying to see and hear what's new and what's old, and who lives to be inspired. Read my blog and you'll see what I see. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Enthusiast Blog

I have decided that my enthusiast blog will be about rock and roll music and its influence in fashion.  

I found it really difficult to narrow my topic because I favored a more broad topic. Choosing a more specific topic worries me because I fear that I will run out of things to say, or be forced to pick some theme that does well in a few posts but doesn't hold my interest over time. 

Two of my greatest interests are rock music and fashion, and I personally take many of my style cues from the music I listen to. Rock music in itself created a fashion legacy; the former always tends to inspire the latter in unique ways. Many looks parallel a certain sound of a certain decade, from the 1950s till today and into the future. 

My blog will have equal emphasis on the music and the fashion trends it created. That way, it can appeal to readers that are rock fans who find the fashion parts interesting, or the fashion fans can learn about where the trends started, and the true music/fashion enthusiasts can dig right in. 

People will certainly want to see lots of photos of artists in their element, and I'd like to include videos as much as possible to incorporate the sights and sounds together. Photos of the rock inspired fashions will certainly be a major part of the blog. I'll do part personal commentary and part research-based writing to ensure accuracy. People would probably not want to see a lot of high-fashion, inaccessible  stuff because I'd like the focus to be on the everyday, what-people-wear style. I will also avoid cliches and really analyze what's popular and what has been popular in the past, where it comes from and what it means to dress a certain way. 

The writing style will be a mix of informal slang with polished and well-researched information. I can't help but write the way I write, and that will mean a light, conversational tone but also an analytical effect. I don't want the subject matter to be so fluffy -- I have points to make. Design will be important. I see black playing a major part of the color scheme, vibrant images that evoke the playfulness of the rock and roll aesthetic. It will certainly look good, give off a cool vibe and totally rock. 

Some post ideas:

The Nerdy Glasses Trend - starting from 1950s rockabilly to "nerd rock" or "math rock" bands: is this the antithesis of cool? 

Southern Rock Style: The First and Second Wave - How artists like the Kings of Leon, The Black Crows and others channel The Band and The Allman Brothers 1970s American country fashion.

Chrome - Why is silver the color of electro rock? Why artists are taking the robotic sound of their music so literally. 

The White Stripes are Fashion Icons - their look is just as striking as their sound. From their beginnings as fuzzy-haired garage rockers with a fuzzed-out sound, to their Red and White clothes only rule, to the mutation into country music and the obligatory dress code, to their sometimes Mexican influences sound and style. 

The Power of Leather - the lasting effect leather has had on rock and roll music and vice versa. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ideas for Clubhouse Blog

Some ideas for my clubhouse blog:

1. An entertainment/lifestyle blog with a feminist twist. Possible name - "Femenclature" or some other kind of wordplay. It would include links and commentary on the media, beauty and fashion through the mind of a modern feminist. 

2. A film blog that features reviews, critiques and fun analyses. From my POV, of course. 

3. "That's Rad!" - bites of my own personal style - things I like, things I want, things I have, things that other people have. Celebrating my own aesthetic in apparel, house/room wares, art, music,miscellaneous stuff, style icons, and any kind of cool design. 

4.  A "30 Rock" fan blog. 

5. Clever-titled rock and roll blog. Each post would probably highlight a specific song, artist or something thematic (guitar solos, southern rock genre, cow bell, etc etc.) My take on what I love about rock and roll music. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rebecca Blood on Weblogs

"I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from 'audience' to 'public' and from 'consumer' to 'creator.'" -Rebecca Blood, September 2000

To me, the most stunning thing about this quote is its date. Such an ability to see into the future! Rebecca's statements have held up well, nine years later. 

I basically agree with everything Rebecca said in this entry. I find her opinions optimistic and empowering for a blogger. I can respect her stance since she is practically a veteran in this world of the weblog and has seen the effects of the weblog platform. 

What Rebecca touts as the benefits of blogging - self-awareness, better writing skills, networking of like-minded people - inspire and encourage me to do it myself. 

I have found my own niche in the blogosphere as I read three to four blogs on a daily basis. I lean towards the first style of blogging that Rebecca talks about, linking articles, highlighting points, opening a forum for discussion. My favorite blog,, is like this. I'll describe it as a "post-modern" feminist blog with posts varying in topics (like fashion, TV, celebrities, news, world issues and everything in between) cast varying in feminist tones and contexts (from the staunch to light-hearted, and even inquisitive or absent entirely). 

When Rebecca said that her blog made her realize what her interests were, I instantly agreed. From the moment I started reading Jezebel, I was hooked. I was interested in what "feminism" meant. I learned about it, I talked about it, I thought about how I fit into this movement. I realized that I was, in fact, a feminist. It has since become a defining characteristic that bonded me with some of my like-mined, Jezebel-reading friends (males and females!). I like the variations and evolutions of "feminism" and how its unique to each man or woman. Blogging is responsible for this!

Blogging is almost a sigh of relief in the massive black hole that is the internet, in the vacuum of our personal environments, in that each person can explore a specific and special portal of information and communication with other like-minded people. Another personal example is when I stumbled upon a fashion blog in the thick of the internet. My heart melted as I devoured page after page of some Californian half-Japanese girl's blog about her life as a buyer and seller of vintage apparel, an amateur stylist and an appreciator of fashion/art/collage/photography. Her style was unique but also totally accessible - she was the style icon for me. I'd be lost in a sea of wackness without her. 

However, I have always remained a lurker in the blogosphere. Even though I read the comments on my favorite posts, I remain silent. I have also desired greatly to write a blog of my own. Even though I love to write and am bursting with opinions and topics of interest, I can't seem to convince myself that anyone would want to read me. That's my own insecurity. My high standards state that if you don't have something truly original to say, than no one wants to hear it.

I suppose this now changes because I do have my own blog and here I am writing my opinions. I agree with Rebecca, I think blogs are empowering and special once you find the right ones. Read what you like, ignore what you don't, and don't forget to appreciate that these web-based opportunities exist! 

Friday, September 11, 2009

What is Writing?

Writing can be defined as any abstract or specific kind of alphanumerical/textual documentation. It can be in the physical form or electronic. Writing is limitless in regard to its content. 

Writing environments which I frequent are:

Text Messages
Instant Messages