Purple Buddha Project

Purple Buddha Project is a sweet large-scale upcycling project directed by Forest Curran, in which local artisans in Cambodia and Laos will turn bombshells into jewelry. This is an incredibly important endeavor not only because it will help to clear over 5 million tons of war waste from the country, but also because the jewelry produciton will create opportunities for disadvantaged and disabled artisans to receive fair-trade wages.

There is an informational video from their Kickstarter page as well. (I’ve tried to embed it in this post, but something keeps going wrong and I’m not sure why…) Luckily this project has raised enough money to be officially funded on March 5th.

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Week Six Reflection

This week we moved on from reading about and making observations on wikis to actually working on a wiki. We created our own personal pages, then formed groups to practice creating and editing content in a collaborative setting. This assignment was a lot easier for me because I already had some experience working with this particular wiki as I had taken Elements of Electronic Rhetoric with the same professor last semester, but it did surprise me a little to find how much I had un-learned over Christmas break. While I would still consider myself adept at using WikiWords and basic formatting such as bolding fonts and using bulletpoints, I had to re-learn the [[URL | Title]] format for off-wiki links, and I gained several new skill such as using block quotes and inserting/editing pictures. This was also the first time I used the wiki with the understanding that I and anyone else could edit any page, as last semester we could only edit our personal pages and those we created from them using wiki words.

My group chose to work on WikiAsPersonalNotebook and WelcomeRitual. Most of my participation revolved around taking what others had previously written and elaborating on it. For example, I took one portion that read,

“A great approach to GettingStarted on a wiki would be to learn how to use the wiki. This includes everything from editing pages and entering code to wiki etiquette. When it comes to the technical aspects, you may want to spend some time practicing editing pages in a SandBox.
Once you have some sort of almost-idea of the Wiki and the WikiPurpose, try to find a WikiNewbie Page or a page OnFirstEnteringAPage. Also, FormattingRules change from wiki to wiki, so learning our wikis guidelines is helpful helpful helpful”

added my own content and did a little bit of editing, which resulted in,

“A great approach to GettingStarted on a wiki would be to learn how to use the wiki. This includes everything from editing pages and entering code to wiki etiquette. When it comes to the technical aspects, you may want to spend some time practicing editing pages in a SandBox. Play around with headings, font effects such as bolding or italicizing, creating bulletpoint lists, and adding links and pictures to a page.
Once you have some sort of almost-idea of the Wiki and the WikiPurpose, try to find a WikiNewbie Page or a page OnFirstEnteringAPage. Also, FormattingRules change from wiki to wiki, so learning our wikis guidelines is helpful helpful helpful! It would also be useful to have a look around at pages that other wiki users have added, so as not to be out of the communication loop.
After you’ve done such reading, the fastest way to transition from “Semi-Lost” to “Not Lost” is to simply jump in and start adding and refactoring material. Unless it has been stated otherwise, any page is fair game, and you are welcome to create your own by using WikiWords. The only rules are whatever WikiSocialNorms have been outlined by the users, and these are usually very loose guidelines such as “don’t be totally rude/disrespectful” or “try to stay sort of on topic.” Other than that, do whatever you want! Add whatever content you believe is relevant. and feel free to edit other people’s pages. Don’t just complain about a page being full of typos or incorrect information. On a wiki you have the power to fix those things.”

A complete list of the changes to the pages can be found here for WelcomeRitual, and here for WikiAsPersonalNotebook.

Week Five Reflection

This week was… challenging, to put it lightly. We started a brand new topic, moving from blogs to Wikis. I thought it would be easy. I mean, I already knew how to navigate Wikipedia, and I had used a Wiki in the E-Rhetoric class last semester, so it couldn’t be much harder than that, right?

Well, not quite.

It turns out that Wikis are a part of a much more massive system than I had anticipated, and their much more varied and adaptable than the few purposes I was previously acquainted with. Basically, if you need to communicate with a group in any way, it’s possible to adapt a Wiki page to suit whatever your communication needs may be. Using a Wiki can be simple, but studying them is difficult, for the highly varied uses make the overall system a complex, or even baffling. Trying to grasp it was such an arduous task that I didn’t manage to post anything this week besides my Notes on Wikis.

I had the most trouble with some of the reading, especially Meatball Wiki and the c2 visitor’s page. With so many links and so little straightforward explanation, it was difficult for me to figure out simple things like the basic purpose of those Wikis. I think they’re for disseminating technological knowledge, but I’m not completely sure. Throughout the week I tried to simply read everything, even though I didn’t understand all of it, and try to get as much information that I DID understand out of the readings as I could. Luckily it was only the Wikis themselves that I had trouble understanding, and not the material explaining how Wikis work in general. The Wikis in Plain English video was incredibly helpful in understanding the basics for editing a Wiki and how Wikis are designed to be useful in many different situations. Brian Lamb’s article elaborated more on the social functions of Wikis and the public’s various objections, along with why those objections may or may not hold ground.

I don’t really know why this assignment gave me o much trouble. I’ve just got this general feeling of confusion floating around my head. I’m hopeful that some in-class discussion will help clear it up, or at least make specific questions more obvious to me so I can ask for clarification.

Notes on Wikis

I just want to make it clear from the get-go that, despite being competent in finding information on Wikipedia, Wikis in general are apparently confusing to me, so I apologize if my notes don’t seem well thought out or deeply intelligent.

How Wikis operate as social spaces for collective / collaborative work:Wiki activity 2

Wikis are changing constantly as users provide updates of various sizes and content types. As you can see in the picture to the right, popular Wikis such as the Homestuck Wiki may be updated many times throughout the day. What really makes it a social space, though, is that the audience can not only add to and change the work, they can also leave explanations for what they’ve done, like this gem I found while perusing the Homestuck Wiki’s recent activity.

Wiki activity 1

Communication between infinitely large groups is made easy because everyone can see everything that happens (every alteration, addition, message, etc.) as it happens, as well as being able to see a log of when things happen. No one is left in the dark unless the make zero effort to keep up.

How content creation gets done:

I think it seems to go something like this. (Start typing and see what happens. Trust me, it’s worth it.)

Differences in reading and writing from what we are familiar with:

Reading Wikis can be confusing. As Lamb said, Wikis often lack explicit organization. For example, I have no idea where to start or what I’m even looking at on Meatball Wiki. It doesn’t really even seem like a website so much as it is a giant collection of links. Where is all the content? What is this site even used for? Looking at it hurts my brain.

Writing on a Wiki seems very similar to writing a blog post in the technical sense. However, writing a blog or a book or anything where the discourse is one sided or can be commented on but not changed by the audience is very different from writing in a space where you know your work will be revised or added to. A traditional author or blogger will try to have their entire discourse laid out, typed up, and polished before it’s presented. In a Wiki space, on the other hand, one can post ideas at any stage of development to get input from their peers.

… whatever else comes up

“SoftSecurity” is effective because every reader is given a certain amount of power. Did someone add something incorrect or offensive? No need to try to contact admins, you can just remove or correct it yourself. This system also waives some of the formality usually associated with these actions. The readers are not officials of any sort, so they can get away with making remarks with more attitude such as calling offenders smartasses, while admins (such as the moderators on discussion forums like Reddit) are expected to posses an air of politeness and formality, which is easier for offenders to simply shrug off. Also, there is power in numbers. It’s like having an entire team cleaning up the messes of a few people.

Week Four Reflection

For this week’s assignment I chose to talk about the Invisible Audience of social media. It is definitely an interesting topic, and I wasn’t expecting to get the results I found.

When I read the instructions for this assignment stating “quote a passage from the chapter that challenges your conception or the common conception of blogs or social media” I was honestly a little anxious about it, because it is usually so easy to pick a topic from such a well-researched book and find that Google results simply corroborate what the textbook says. I was pleasantly surprised that the presence of the invisible audience (online and offline) is much more well-known that Rettberg leads us to believe.

I think this ties in to last weeks topic of shaping discussions because the blogs I found who wrote posts addressing their invisible audiences have tried to shape the discussion in a way by attempting to draw the lurkers out of their, um, lurking. Including such previously silent readers could also play in to the topic many others have written about this week: the echo chamber most social media platforms create. The invisible audience may have opinions that differ from the bloggers they follow (not on everything, or else why would they follow them? But perhaps on a couple things) which could bring new information to the discussion.

As always, the production of original posts has been lower than ideal, with only two that weren’t related to the assigned topic (Wednesdays are the Worst and Being Less Wasteful at Work). However! While looking at my classmates’ blogs I’ve noticed that this isn’t far from the norm. I think perhaps the definition of participation must include comments and discussion as well. If we’re counting comments, then I’ve actually done seven things this week. As always I shall continue to strive for daily posts, but I won’t beat myself up over a lack of posts so long as I continue to participate.

Being Less Wasteful at Work

Currently I’m working as a janitor in one of the academic halls. Glamorous right?   Anyway, one of my tasks is to wipe down tables in the classrooms, which for a long time we were doing with the crappy poster towels like those in  public restrooms. A couple weeks ago I realized, why am I using so much of this when I could be using washable towels?
That Thursday and Friday I brought in my own hand towels (which I got from a hotel I had worked at, who couldn’t use them due to stains or tears) and used them instead. I was curious to know how much paper I’d be saving by doing this, so I did some math. I estimated that I was using about 3 times my height per day, which is 16.5 feet. That adds up to 82.5 feet per week. From the first full week I started using washable towels to the end of the semester, I will have saved 1237.5 feet of paper towels.

Wednesdays are the Worst

The way my class schedule works out, most of my class time is MWF. Tuesday’s technically longer, but more spread out. Thursday is the second easiest day, and Friday is the first. Monday and Wednesday are identical.
So why is Wednesday the Worst? Because on Monday one is somewhat refreshed from the weekend, or at least they’ve gotten a little more sleep. Wednesday, however, is right in the middle. You’ve already suffered through two days, and you have another two after.
I think we could all use a mid- week nap.

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Invisible Audiences

In the blogophere, this metaphorical “room” is actually full of people reading everything you post, you just can’t see that they’re there.

“When you imagine who will read your Facebook or blog posts, you are more likely to think of the much smaller group of active Facebook than the large group of invisible lurkers.”

Rettberg asserts that, on social networking sites, it’s “easy to forget about all the invisible readers.” On the one hand I can agree completely. It took forever for me to even notice that I have 75 followers on Tumblr, and I often forget while writing more personal posts that one of those followers is my brother.

On the other hand, such an assertion (although made very recently, the second edition of Blogging is copyrighted 2014) is somewhat outdated. The idea of an invisible audience isn’t exactly new, and is a common phenomenon both online and off, as Ryan Holiday explains. Preteens, teenagers, and young adults often operate under the pretense that they are being watched and evaluated at all times by their peers and the public. Brittany Johnson describes how this can affect college students academically (in regards to presentations and such) and provides some tips for overcoming the effects of what she calls Invisible Audience Syndrome.

Today’s bloggers (with the possible exception of those who are new to the social media scene) are usually well aware of the fact that they have an invisible audience and little control over who sees their posts. Unlike Dooce, who posted her complaints about her job on her blog and was subsequently fired for it, most bloggers are not only aware of the possible vastness of their readership, they openly acknowledge it. Many bloggers such as the authors of Hurray Crochet and The Chalice Well write posts specifically aimed towards the lurkers of the blogosphere, usually to say something along the lines of “hey, I know you’re out there, thanks for listening to me ramble about shit on the internet.” One blogger who goes by the username blondeambassador even went so far as to give her (I’m assuming she’s female based on the posts) blog the title “Letters to an Invisible Audience”

The author of NDloveNY gives a brief yet accurate explanation of how the knowledge that one has an audience affects how a blogger writes and what they write about. She elaborates on the fact that she tailors her posts so as to avoid angering her audience or hurting their feelings. Had Dooce considered the possibility that her employers could read her blog, she might not have written what she wrote. The influence of the invisible audience is quite pervasive. Rettberg states that it can be easy to forget you are friends with certain people on Facebook if you don’t interact with them regularly as they disappear from you’re news feed. I have to disagree with this. Even though I don’t always see them in my news feed, I am all too aware of the fact that I am friends with a lot of moms from when I was in 4-H, and I usually censor myself accordingly so as not to have their opinion of my character marred. This has been changing though, as I become more comfortable in my stance on inflammatory issues and better able to defend my stances.

Week Three Reflection

This week’s assignment was enjoyable, but it wasn’t without some difficult aspects. I chose shaping discussion on blogs as my topic, which I considered interesting to research. It was challenging for me to find posts that best exemplified how discussion usually functions and how shaping it can be difficult for the blogger, especially while keeping such examples strictly to “blogs”. This is why I expanded my definition of a blog to include Facebook, which Rettberg also considers very similar since (as Halie pointed out) it is a frequently updated sites with entries in reverse chronological order. I think that this ties in well with what we’ve been learning in general; what is a blog and how do they work?

I definitely feel that more could have been said about this topic (though in all honesty, one could always say more on every topic. There is always more to be explored and investigated), but I consider the work I’ve done to be fairly adequate in giving the audience a concise explanation of the topic. If I were to do it again, I would spend more time delving into a wider variety of blogs to see how they personally handled discussion with the audience. How do they contribute to the discussion, other than providing the starting point? How do they deal with troublesome followers? What do they do when an all-out internet fight breaks out?

Over this past week, I’ve sort of been in “lurker” mode. I’ve only actually made three other posts, which admittedly had nothing to do with this weeks work. I have been watching what everyone else has been tweeting, and I’ve read several WordPress posts as well, but my focus has been directed mostly towards my other 4 classes, especially my 4000 level wildlife management class, so I haven’t been as active in the discussion as I would have hoped.

So, improvements to make for next week:

  • Try to manage homework better so I have more time for discussion
  • Investigate topics more thuroughly
  • Communicate more during the week via Twitter