May 8, 2008

Day X: The Reflection

Well, class is over, and as part of my project, I wanted to write up a little something that explained how "successful" I thought the blog was.

First, I do think it was a success. When I wasn't writing about wanting to microwave my dog, it was fun and interesting to document what went on in class. For professors I know it can be hard to keep track of exactly what went on and what students thought about the class periods individually, so this blog offered some kind of permanence as to what happened (through my eyes, of course).

So let's look at a few things that happened as a result of the blog...

It made me pay attention in class. Way, way too much attention, perhaps, but this is probably a good thing. After all, I paid far too much money. What better reward for paying far too much money than having to pay far too much attention?

It also encouraged me to be in class. Now, I admit this probably a moot point since I'm a big fan of 100%-attendance (after all, I pay far too much money, remember?) But still... it's one more reason, right?

If I have one big regret, and it is a big one, it's that not enough people responded to the blog. I think I should have pushed a bit more to encourage students to reply. I sort-of blame students in some ways for not responding because the blog link was in the Announcements page of WebVista, though I fully admit the Announcements page is a disaster (Thanks, U!) I appreciate that Dr. Stern read the blog and responded to various postings (the whole point of the assignment!), but it would have been really great if students had partaken as much. I had just one student replying to a post, and it was a really interesting response, too. I can only wonder what other replies might have contained... If I am to be honest, it wasn't really for other students' benefits anyway, but it'd still have been nice...

I firmly believe this blog is much more useful than the silly feedback sheet which are given out at the end of classes. Those forms are so dead and devoid of any meaning. I'm not suggesting that all students blog each class period as a means of teacher feedback, but can anything really particularly useful be obtained from those sheets? I understand if you have 70 students complaining about a professor fondling their bottoms while they enter the classroom, then this feedback sheet can find such trends and help fix problems, but as far as structure and specific topics go, I don't see students taking the time on this sheet to say that one particular specific class was more interesting than the other classes in a given week.

So there you have it: The key to this blog being a success is that it became a journal to document how each individual class progressed, how each held (my) attention, and the affect the class had on me. Hopefully Dr. Stern can use some of the information from this blog to shape her future class! I wish her the best of success in doing so.

Day 14: May 8, 2008

Today... last day!

Thank you! Thank you! No, no please. No more kisses! Thank you!

Dr. Stern won't be here today (personal reasons), but we're doing student presentations!

So, if you were expecting some amazing final entry, well.... ummm...


May 6, 2008

Day 13: May 6, 2008


So today is going to be interesting. Why? Because on the syllabus it says we're doing something "fun." It's the last week of school (woohoo! Yeah!! W000t! Weee!! Ahem.....). My concern is that the doing something "fun" is a pretty bold statement. Let's say, for example, everyone shows up for class. That means 150 people, give or take. To say something is going to be fun for ALL 150 students is a bold, bold statement.

So, as I said, this will be fun. Maybe.

Today, we have a guest speaker! And he's a photographer teacher person who has lots of experience. Dr. Stern introduced him well, which went something like this:

"I'd like to present guest speaker person! He has a lot of years of experience in things that are swell, and he's done lots of things like take photos and teach and stuff like that there!"

OK, so in truth, his name is David Husom, and he's a pretty big deal (just not to me, - big surprise!).

He's showing us lots of photographs in a PowerPoint. It's a good thing for me that I really, REALLY like photography, having gotten into it in (in an admittedly amateur way) late 2007. So for me personally, this is fun! For others, though, who knows? In any case, he's quite enthusiastic, which gets a big thumbs up.

This has been really fun. It's not necessarily completely related to "New Media" but it's good stuff nonetheless. For a wannabe photographer, this is great stuff.

This will be a shorter entry, mostly due to my trying to pay attention to David Husom.

An easy way to end the semester! Also a surprisingly large number of students here today. At least half of them, anyway!

Till the next time! (The last time!)

May 1, 2008

Day 12: May 1, 2008

Wow, it's May already. Crazy. That means there's probably not very much time left this semester, not that I'm keeping track or anything... (7 days, 1 hour, 26 minutes from when I type this, it's over! OMGBBQ!)

Anyway, today we have two guest speakers who are speaking about...something. I admit I forgot what it is. It's that time of year...

Class has started. And the first speaker is Catherine/Kathryn/Katherine/C4therin3 Somethingorother (I'm bad with names) who's now talking about the Internet and how people didn't have it etc etc. Oh boy. I hate to be a downer, but all she did was talk about how our technology has changed, and how parents never had the technology we have now etc etc. Puh-lease. Really?

Zzzz. Big zzzz.

I must say, nobody looks thrilled...

And the second speaker - John Richard. Oh boy. Round two. Apparently we're going to have to wait longer and longer to get through to people on telephones because of the automation process now employed by his business. This means fewer actual people, and more automatic-answer systems... Uh huh. Really? And people without education etc are going to be left further and further behind in this digital divide.

Please....tell us something we don't know. Please!! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND MERCIFUL IN THE WORLD!

I know Dr. Stern is going to be super polite as always, but she HAS to be disappointed by this talk. It's nothing she hasn't talked about in class. Actually, if truth be told, Dr. Stern did a waaaay better job than these two when she discussed these things in class, AND she had nifty PowerPoint slides. I feel like kind of an ass writing this entry, but I think it's probably just a testament to how much better Dr. Stern's classes are than when we've had a guest speaker (or in this case - two of them). Anyway, it's a real shame. I want to leave, but that would be rude.

And Catherine is YELLING AT US THE WHOLE TIME, LIKE SHE THINKS WE'RE DEAF OR SOMETHING. It's not as if there's a microphone at the podium or anything...

I didn't buy Catherine's example about New Orleans and how people who had cell phones or other IT devices were able to get out of town before the floods hit and that this digital divide was a major cause of the catastrophe. This was CLEARLY a governmental issue and a lack of response, especially given how much time there was to actually take steps... There could have been some army vehicles with loudspeakers, and people would have been heading for the hills, so to speak. AND as we well know from countless tornadoes and hurricanes etc, even when people DO have the information, some of them are too stubborn (read: stupid) to get out of harm's way even when they HAVE the means to do so. And actually, cell phones would likely have been useless to warn thousands and thousands of people at the same time. Do we all remember the bridge collapse in the Twin Cities? Nobody's cell phones worked! Lines busy.... the networks couldn't take it. But anyway...

....I'm disappointed with this class, especially given that the only interesting discussion came from a few smart students' questions actually provoking it, and not originating from the speakers themselves.

I suppose, credit where credit is due, it was interesting to hear about the developed CTCs these two are involved in. But..., so dry....

Well, class is done. In the words of the great Charles Dickens: "I'm like, totally bummed, dude."

April 29, 2008

Day 11: April 29, 2008

He barfed during the night. Twice. Both times he had to make it known that he was going to barf by heaving quite loudly prior to barfage (I realize that's not a word). This gave me enough time to be startled awake and fling him off the bed. Anyway, if he had barfed at, say, 11pm and then at 11:30pm, I'd be just fine.

But no.

He barfed at 2:45am, and again at 4:45am. If he weren't so cute, I'd probably be eating shih-tzu casserole tonight. Especially since there'd be no more barf to worry about.

Focus. Focus.

There's more people here than I expected, especially given Grand Theft Auto IV was released today. Color me surprised.

Today we start with an audio clip about the digital divide in India. More of a little study along the lines of oh-my-goodness-some-people-don't-know-what-a-computer-is, than anything else, but still an interesting piece.

Globalization and Narrowing of the Digital Divide - the title for today's PowerPoint presentation. This will be a good discussion class, I can tell. We've spent so much time talking about media in all forms, but not about places withOUT. The usual suspects at work, economic ramifications, political ramifications etc etc blah blah.

We're talking about how to bridge the digital divide in Africa. We've spent about half an hour on one slide which proves (probably) how useful a good slide is.

Wow, just a few slides sparks such discussion, though as is usual, there's a small group of people who tend to want to answer, and do so with aplomb. The rest of the students are a more passive bunch, which is typical.

Class is getting done a little early today because there are class-feedback sheets to hand out. Hah! Isn't this blog a class-feedback blog?

April 24, 2008

Day 10: April 24, 2008

Before I begin today's entry...

OK let me start again.

I want to kill my dog (not literal). So it thundered again during the night, and, once again, my head was clambered upon. So I'm delirious, and my sentences will probably trail off into something completely unintelligiblereeewmmk gimmet?

Oooh the class is empty today, and Dr. Stern is PO'ed, for good reason. There's about 90 people not here (KeanuReevesWoah), and let me say it's NOT because of Dr. Stern. It's mostly because they're lazy bums. It's a gross, wet day out, so why bother coming to class? It's not like school is expensive or anything...

Rants aside, today, we're studying how the Internet is used in Global Social Movements. The case of the Zapatistas as an example of using the Internet to continue a war against the political system. Web sites were set up by people sympathetic to the Zapatistas, and hackers even hacked the Mexican government website.

Class exercise time! We're supposed to "be creative." How we would use new media and new media communication technologies to further our cause, and we have to *be specific.*

My group has come up with this totally awesome suggestion of getting the editors-in-chief of every major news publication in the United States, and have them sign unreleased pictures/stories etc for the web, on the atrocities of the Iraq "war" which the current administration has forbidden to be released. The best thing thing about this Web site created to show these pictures is that it would be untouchable because of the backing behind it (*cough* in theory *cough). After all, is the U.S. Government going to shut down ALL major publications because of the editors' behavior? Freedom of the press! Freedom of the press!

Well, it sounds good in theory anyway...

So, the two judges (our TAs) are going to decide which of the ideas was the best. I think it's ours, but our TAs probably don't think so...

And the winner is.....

My group!!!! OK, so it wasn't my group, but everyone's a winner. OK that's a lie. But I'm trying to make myself feel better.

And the winner gets lame CDs. I can say lame because Dr. Stern called them lame, so it's safe to insult her music collection (which she admitted was going to Goodwill anyway...).

Well, class is done. Slightly bummed I didn't win a crappy music CD I'd never listen to, but what can you do?

Another day with a nice job of keeping the class (what there was of it, that is) interested. Not an easy thing to do when the end of the semester is ever looming.

April 22, 2008

Day 9: April 22, 2008


April 22. Almost end of semester. Must stay focused... must.... stay...... oh look a cat!

A few announcements, and the chance for students to ask question. Good, good.

Ooh.... we're watching an episode of South Park. Sweeeet. It's the episode with the Internet that's gone down. Amusing stuff.

After the episode (with some explicit stuff skipped!), we're now talking about globalization.

Glazed donuts. I really like them. I could eat one right now. And I'm tired. And you know WHY I'm tired? My dog, whenever there's a thunderstorm, likes to clamber all over my head during the night. So there's me, all grown up, being a good student by getting a good night's sleep. And then there's my dog, a 9lb Shih tzu, with no respect for the sleep deprived, doing the clamber dance on my noggin, trembling all the while. So my sleep became a continual de-leeching of my dog from my face throughout the blustery night.

Well, after a discussion of globalization, interspersed with some video, we're done. A dryer class, to be sure, but definitely went over quite well with the South Park episode to lighten the mood. Appreciated.

April 17, 2008

Day 8: April 17, 2008

Another day, another entry. I suppose that's a redundant statement, since obviously.... it's... a... new entry?

11:15am, and Dr. Stern is calling everyone's attention. And she has it. Which is a good thing.

Today's the last day of identity discussion:

We're talking about the 3rd person chatting phenomenon back in the 80s/90s. Something like this:

"Tithian the Great ordered coke, without ice, like everybody else.
Gemini is jealous because he can't play roulette."

It's kind of funny since in World of Warcraft you can still do this....
People really did fall for each other in the 3rd person. Har har!

OK so during this discussion we're talking about meeting people online versus real life. I guess I should point out some facts.*

*This means they're facts to ME, not necessarily anyone else.

1.) OK, so for the LAST TIME, yes, it IS possible for people to find love online.

2.) If the person you meet in real life isn't the person they were online, this is probably NORMAL. I, for example, am much cooler in real life.

OK, so we've had that out. I feel lots better.

Does language matter? Yes it matters. To what degree? Does it matter if I say "I could care less" vs "I couldn't care less?" You know what I mean in both cases, right?

I think it matters. I tend to judge people's intelligence based on their quality of speech and text. Should I not be so judgmental? Bah. Rediculous. Theirs definately not a precident being set, and you should judg people on there spellings. So they're!

Bad jokes aside, I think it's REALLY funny which students addressed this point: the students who are capable of well-spoken English! After all, it would be pretty ironic if people discussing language were speaking junky English.

Overall, an interesting discussion class. Perhaps not anything particularly new, but it's always good to get students involved. Usually the first thing I think of when it comes to my fellow students is my favorite word, - apathy! Perhaps journalism students are just more vocal? I know I am.

April 15, 2008

Day 7: April 15, 2008


So, I wonder how Dr. Stern is feeling today. Hopefully not like an extra from House of a Thousand Corpses. Not that I've seen the movie. But my imagination is running rampant. Even if it's completely off.


Dr. Stern has walked in, and I can hear her chatting to other students. She sounds alive once more! Amazing what a weekend will do for you.


And class is in session!

Today, we talk about gender, identity and new media! Yes!!!! A dream come true. I'd like to thank my parents, my friends, my dog, and... and.... world peace!

Actually this is useful stuff. There's definitely a bias here in regard to women's identity (online, we're talking). Definitely an interesting discussion going on here, with regard to sexuality and online promiscuity. This is clearly a discussion that's close to Dr. Stern. Heck, she's written a book about it so it'd better be!

Sex, sex, sex. Interesting talk going on here. I keep hearing the word "slut" being bandied around to describe girls who post pictures of themselves in questionable poses to garner attention, and my hand is up to say, "No! Not necessarily slut!", but Dr. Stern has already called the point out. What is considered slutty to Americans (which, it seems, an opened box of cornflakes is a total brothel), is not necessarily slutty to other nations. Let's not forget you can watch people getting blown apart on TV, and that's A-OK! But show a boob? Gosh-run-for-the-hills! Ridiculous. Not that I have an opinion, of course. I'm glad this point was brought up. Now, I'm not condoning girls being exploited (if they ARE being exploited - by themselves or the media itself [the Internet]), but let's not forget we're all nude underneath our clothing. Is modeling slutty? Apparently not, since you're getting paid and are officially recognized. Uh huh. That's fair.

Ooh Dora T. Explorer. We're talking about representation here. I've always found this funny. Now Dora is a Latina I believe, but she's clearly forced into this persona. I wonder what percentage of the crew behind creating Dora are actually Latinos? Is it fair representation, or is it FORCED representation? On the other hand, does it help kids to realize there's more than Snow White out there? Other cultures DO exist!

Great discussion. Really enjoyed this class. Wheee!!

April 10, 2008

Day 6: April 10, 2008

Dr. Stern has a cold today. Actually, she had the rumblings of a cold on Tuesday, but today it's out in full force, terrorizing her immune system with a brash and maniacal cackle. I hope she feels better soon.

Today we're watching a Frontline video on self expression, called "Trying On New Identities." Parts of this program really show what the Internet has done to adolescent girls. I say "done" as in it's the Internet's fault, but maybe it's more accurate to say it's what adolescent girls have done to themselves. I know it's sad, - at least it's sad to me -, but some of these girls enjoy the attention they get. One point I never saw brought up in the video of a girl who posts pictures of herself online for the attention, is who was taking the pictures? Just never talked about... Hmm.

An interesting concept is the idea of shying away from your parents because they're, well... your parents, and chatting to all those people online who are willing to listen or... take advantage.

More of the program describes online bullying and its effects on some children who use the Internet. I think this just shows how sad a place the world can be.. Some quite harrowing examples, including one parent who had to deal with his son who hanged himself because of encouragement from the Internet. It's so easy to say things online and not even think about the consequences. Conversely, I suppose, it's so easy to say things online and watch the consequences with glee. Evil, evil people..

Some eating disorders are mentioned, though I'm not sure this was as significant a point as the previous bullying/predator examples. Eating disorders, for one thing, were a big problem before the Internet. Sure the Internet can exacerbate these things, but still, I think this could have been a separate program dedicated to eating disorders, online and offline related.

Well, Dr. Stern really can't talk. She sounds like Haley Joel Osment saying, "I see dead people," in The Sixth Sense. But a discussion has been provoked! I always appreciate a professor who tries to keep it going even when she's not at the top of her game. But, seriously, get some rest and feel better!

April 8, 2008

Day 5: April 8, 2008

A new day, a new blog entry.

From now on, though, I intend to focus more on teacher/student interactions, which may be less fun, but probably more useful.

And I can't do that today, because we have a guest speaker! Doug McGill, who is this..... guy. He's the author of the McGill Report, which is (probably) a big deal. He was formally a reporter for the New York Time, which IS a big deal. And most importantly, he writes articles for the Rochester (MN) Post Bulletin! And that's a big deal because I live in Rochester at the moment. I can't imagine what it's like to go from the NYT to the Post Bulletin in Rochester, MN. I also can't imagine WHY you would do that.. Maybe he was drunk that day?

I'm feeling a discussion coming on, as he's already written some questions in big AND bold lettering in a Word document which I spied on the not-so subtle projector screen at the front of the room. Mmm... interaction is good. There's even a fair number of students here, today.

Yes! He says he's going to speak for 20 minutes and (the magic words) "open it up." Sweet!

Here we go. The reason why he accepted a job at the Post Bulletin. He grew up in Rochester. I knew there had to be a reason (other than liquor).

Ooh, he was also Bureau Chief at Bloomberg London (my home-home town). This guy has certainly been around.

OK. Depressing. He's talking about people being laid off, especially highly-paid, well-respected journalists, because of news stations trying to save money. That's the reason, it appears, why he moved back to Rochester; because he didn't see a future in NY. I'm so, so glad I don't want to be a reporter. Mind you, it's not exactly comforting to know that I got a degree in broadcast journalism and I don't want to be a broadcast journalist. But let's not make this about me...

Uh oh. It's the Power Talk. Be careful with power. Power makes rich people richer, and poor people poorer. He's telling a sobering story about the Anuak genocide in south-west Ethiopia, which leads to a question: How much weight do you give an "ear-witness?" Definitely an interesting question...

Alright! Questions opened to the floor, and as usual, the guy sitting behind me (whose name I don't really know), asks a question. It's a question on objectivity in journalism. Now, I don't know about you (whoever "you" may be), but this objectivity question has been done to death. Is there objectivity in journalism? I'm so glad McGill thinks of it as a "dead letter." Because it really is. Nobody is objective. It's a method, sure, but NOBODY is objective. There's no such thing as an objective article. But, as McGill is saying, you can TRY to be objective in the way you APPROACH your article.

I asked a question something along these lines:

"If citizens need good methodically objective news to be better citizens, surely a picture tells a thousand words. Then how do you balance sensitivity to the audience when discussing what pictures to print? Surely the discussion itself is as far from objective as is possible, since people are giving opinions based on their feeling - whether a picture should be printed?"

I got a round-about answer about the lack of true objectivity, so I suppose it's jut as I suspected. There is no "organic" objectivity in journalism.

Overall, this was a great speaker to have in class. A good, solid pick, and definitely some choice moments given for people to ask questions. Which, I'm glad to say, they did.

Class over: 12:30pm.

April 3, 2008

Day 4: April 3, 2008

Woohoo!! Lots of people are here today! Well, sort of. A lot of people came in, turned in their proposals for their projects, and left. Perhaps they think there isn't a sign-up sheet. Well have I got news for them...

Today we watch the rest of Blade Runner, sans professor Stern because she's at a conference today.

Blade Runner, if you didn't already figure it out from Tuesday's entry, is an awesome movie. An absolute example of postmodernism/cyberpunk, and a must-see for everyone, including your grandma who won't like it.

Once again, not much else to say since I'm engrossed for the nth time, but there really isn't a better movie to show in this particular class. Kudos to Stern.

(And no, I'm not a replicant, despite being emotionless at times.)

April 1, 2008

Day 3: April 1, 2008

Another day, another class. It's April Fools Day, so I was hoping the fact that class was scheduled was a big kid, but, alas, t'was not to be.

But really, I don't mind, because I like this class. Really. (No seriously)

In all seriousness (for serious), I've taken some bad classes, and this isn't one of them, thank goodness, or I wouldn't bother showing up.

Today is Blade Runner Day (BRD). BRD is a special occasion that doesn't take place too often, but when it does, there's much rejoicing all round. Let me explain BRD: It's when...we... watch Blade Runner in class. Does that make sense? I thought so.

As usual, class starts promptly, and there's actually a good number of people here. A movie is a good way to get people in, methinks.

Anyway, this will be a short entry since I'm ... watching.... TV..... ..must..... watch.... TV.

*starts dribbling*

March 27, 2008

Day 2: March 27, 2008

OK. So class hasn't technically started yet (it's only 11:05am), but I'm tired, grumpy, and not in the mood. So this doesn't technically count as "class" blogging, but since it expresses my feelings towards classes in general right now, it works. I think.

Dr. Stern walks in at 11:10am. She has a habit of doing that.

Also, I guess I won't need to eat my laptop today. The class is looking preeeetty empty. About two-thirds of the class is here, which, I admit, is more than I thought. You'd think that paying loads of tuition money would be encouragement enough to come to class, but...

I think I know what the problem here. It's because most students aren't actually paying any money. It's all loans, so they don't feel like they've really lost any money, yet. Well, it's a theory anyway.

What? It's only 11:17am now? How did that happen? Seriously, I like the class, but... today... no... please?

Ahhh Dr. Stern is talking: "Due to William's absolute insistence to cancel the class, class is... adjourned for the day."

Alright. Dreaming over. Getting started. Today's class is on Postmodernity and Postmodern Thought.

Modernism: associated with the Enlightenment.

Postmodernists say there's no real truth. Which maybe isn't true. Because they said it. Oooh confusion!

Jean Francois Lyotard: Modernity = constant pursuit of progress, whereas Postmodernity = constant change is the status quo.

Simulacra/Simulacrum: an image or representation of something.
Hyperreal: something has been superseded by the signs of its existence.

Ahhh now we're talking about pastiche. I think everything is pastiche nowadays.

Ooh examples of postmodern! Gwen Stefani! My heroine.... Not. But good examples of postmodernism, even if she's totally weird. But then again, now that I think about it, isn't ALL postmodernism weird? I sort-of think that's what makes it post-modern. Heck, most modern stuff is weird. The post stuff just has to be weirder.

More big words: Post-structuralists: Can't exist outside discourse. More confusion ensues. I can live with that.

Wow. Nobody did the reading for today, so class is dismissed early. Just.... lame.



March 25, 2008

Day 1: March 25, 2008

Dr. Thiel Stern walks in at 11:10am, prompt, as usual. Not that I'm keeping track. Also, a surprisingly large number of students, though I expect this to be a one-off thing. Let's see if all 135-ish students show up on Thursday. I'll eat my laptop. Not that I'm judgmental. Really.

11:15 am. Class starts.

Today, we're talking about cyberpunk. And Snow Crash. Learned something new! Apparently, a Minnesotan named Bruce Bethke coined the term "Cyberpunk." See, and there was me thinking that Minnesota invented snow, you betchas and the Coen brothers, and there's a ball of twine somewhere, too. But no, Cyberpunk is there, too. Apparently A Clockwork Orange is considered cyberpunk, which is probably as debatable as the definition of "new media." Probably.

Oh boy, there's that expression again: Post-apocalyptic. You know, I always thought that meant something along the lines of life after the apocalypse, but it seems that in conversation, it means life-after-something-or-other-that-happened-at-some-point-sometime. Right. About as easy as defining "culture."

Is cyberpunk dead? Has technology caught up to it? Is cyberpunk just modern writings, now? Perhaps.

Nobody's said much of anything. Not really a discussion class. That's fine. Most of the students look like they crawled out of bed not too long ago. I feel their pain.

Class is getting out early, today. We're done. 11:46 am.