From what I've seen on Ning.com, 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!
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.
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
5. The Green Movement -- I'm not hugely involved or passionate about it, but I fully support it.
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!
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.
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.