Final Project Week Five Reflection

This week I focused on the presence of knitting in the media. I found several great stories of people doing impressive things with yarn; a doctor who knits hats for every baby he delivers, two women who started a program to help rehabilitate prisoners by teaching them to knit, several organizations that distribute knit items for charity, a woman who crocheted a fully functional innovative playground, an entire subculture of knit street art, and a group of human rights activists that organized the creation of a kilometer long scarf calling political attention to the thousands of unidentified bodies in unmarked graves in Peru.

 

Since this was the final stretch, there wasn’t much left to learn about the program and features or how to use it. I’ve been using this time primarily to stay on top of homework from other classes, but I’ve also begun to consider what I’ll be putting in my final report. When you get down too it, what were the benefits of using a wiki? Was it detrimental to my goal in any way? Did the forum suit the discourse in content and style? If asked about my experience, what would I tell others about using a wiki? I hope to be able to satisfactorily answer these questions, as well as any others that come up during our final face-to-face meeting on Tuesday.

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Final Project Week Three Reflection

This week on my wiki I created reviews for several different yarns; Fun Fur, Homespun, Merino 5, MountainTop Chalet, Softee Chunky, and Super Saver. I would say that this week has definitely been easier that previous weeks, simply because much of the content written was my own opinion. With the tutorials I had to constantly check that the way I had learned to do a stitch matched up with how other tutorials taught it, which is a complicated task because every knitter is slightly different. I looked over multiple tutorials for each stitch that I wasn’t 100% sure about, in text, picture, and video format.

For me it was fun to think through exactly how the different types of yarn felt, how they handled, and what they would best be used for. I was especially excited to review MountainTop Chalet, as it is one of my all time favorite yarns. This is definitely a section of the wiki I plan to continue after the semester ends, as I’ll continue to knit and try out different (fancier!) yarns, such as Berroco Ultra Alpaca and Rowan Belle Organic Aran. Frankly I just love talking about yarn, but I don’t have a lot of knitter friends to talk about it with, so my wiki and Tumblr have been my primary outlets.

Throughout this last week I have continued to discover new little aspects of the WikiSpaces platform. I suspect that I will still be figuring out new things until this project ends at least. This week I fine-tuned my image manipulation skills, as I now know how to align multiple images on one side, and have ALL of the text next to the images. I also learned that, while anyone and everyone can “add” a new page by typing in a WikiWord and telling it to “link” to a page withing the wiki while editing, one must at least be logged in to WikiSpaces in order to make said page actually exist by hitting the edit button on that page. Honestly I don’t believe this will be much of an issue on my wiki because it seems to have adopted more of a call-and-response flow of information (though the “response” part is lacking to say the least), but for a more active wiki like our class wiki or one used by a business, this could be wuite the hinderance.

Final Project Week Two Reflection

This week in my final project I delved into tutorials and information on various stitches beyond the basics. In knitting I made tutorials for increasing and decreasing the number of stitches per row, ribbing, seed, and moss stitch, cables, and fair isle colorwork.  In crochet I covered increasing/decreasing (including the wave stitch pattern), the popcorn stitch, and granny squares. Of course this isn’t anywhere close to an extensive list of different knit an crochet stitches, but it was plenty for me to make a new page every day, which means that I have continued to meet (and even exceed) my goal of 4 pages per week.

On a good note, I’ve found that Anna Hamann’s suggestion for creating pages by writing the title and clicking “link” while editing to be very helpful. Not only has it made page creation less cumbersome (and I mean A LOT less cumbersome), it has also made it possible for others to create pages, and I have altered my WikiGuidelines to reflect this new information.

Over the past week I have become more proficient in manipulating images on the Wikispaces platform. That being said, if I were to choose a wiki host based on ease of use regarding images, I would not choose Wikispaces again. The process of inserting the images is simple, but manipulations afterward are… tricky? Yes, tricky sounds like the right word. It took some trial and error to figure out that, if I want the image to align on one side with the text appearing next to it as on Granny Squares or Cable Patterns, I have to insert the image ABOVE the text first, not below. If I insert it below and tell it to align right, the image will align right, but the text remains above the image. Also, in trying to go to the next line after an image, it will often realign the picture to the left without being prompted to do so.

Uploading an image from my computer resulted in some interesting complications as well. I used my own image on Crochet Increases and Decreases. After I uploaded and inserted the image, all text following it was “styled.” I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it made it very difficult to edit the text. If I tried to make a certain line a heading, then the next line would automatically be aligned center. I tried to “clear styles” but that had no effect. The only way I could find to work around it was to type out everything, then go back and change the appropriate lines into headings.

Another frustration I had was with the home page. When I first began, the home page title simply read “home”. This seemed unprofessional to me, and I tried to to change the title to “Home Page”.  This, however, created a new page with all my home page contented, and reverted the home to the general welcome the the wiki information. When I announced the creation of my wiki on Facebook, I linked it to the home page I actually liked and didn’t think about it further, but upon reading Daybook entry regarding the first week I found that that was ineffective, and have since copied my content to the actual homepage and deleted the extra home page.

 

Overall I’m finding that Wikispaces is awkward to use in many aspects. It isn’t so problematic as to necessitate changing to a different platform for this project, as I’ve already managed to find a way to work around many of the issues, but I don’t think I would vouch for it in the future.

Final Project Week One Reflection

This week I began my final project: A wiki focusing on the various aspects of knitting and crochet. My goal is to create a place where beginners can find helpful instructions and advice, and crafters of all experience levels  can discuss stitches, yarns, patterns, and media representation.

Because I had my wiki mostly set up before we began this project, I tried to make the most of the first week as an opportunity to explore the functions wikispaces, which is the wiki hosting platform I chose to use. Editing text is somewhat different from the methods used on our class wiki page. It works more similarly to Microsoft Word in that changes to the text such as creating headings or using italics or bulletpoints are done by highlighting the text and hitting the desired button, rather than using various symbol combinations (like =====heading===== and **bold**)

I was incredibly pleased with the ease with which I could incorporate pictures from Google Images (with links to the sources!) and Youtube videos. It was a little tricky figuring out which buttons did what at first (pictures are uploaded via the “files” button, and Youtube videos via the “widgets” button), but once I had figured out how to do it, it was easy to put that knowledge into practice. Next week I hope to learn to incorporate my own images, rather than Google Images, and other widgets besides Youtube videos (depending on whether or not other widgets would be helpful/appropriate).

There were several things that I found frustrating about wikispaces as well, the foremost being in the creation of new pages. While I have stuck to the convention of using CamalCase WikiWords for all pages, wikispaces doesn’t seem to have the function of creating a new wiki page whenever a new word is used. I have to manually start a new page, then go back to the page I used the WikiWord on and link the word to the page. Also, I have to do this, as the only way I’ve found that MIGHT make it so that others can create pages is to add people as members of the wiki.

As for my goal workload for the week and how it compares to what I actually did, I’d say I was mostly on track. I did have a couple sections that I meant to do yesterday that didn’t get done until today because my boyfriend’s family was in town. Beforehand I had believed they would simply arrive, pick him up, and leave, but they ended up staying the night and I got dragged along, so almost zero homeworks were done yesterday. Since no such complications should be popping up this week, I should be able to remain completely on track.

Week Seven Reflection

This week’s assignment was a little more challenging than last week’s. We are still working on wiki collaboration, but we’ve had a slight change in topic, going more in-depth in our research. Last week we focused on more superficial topics (such as how to get started and the different ways wikis are used), but this wee we dove into what exactly makes writing on wikis easy or difficult, wiki literacy, social determinism, and the digital culture divide. I made contributions to the pages DigitalCultureDivide and WhatMakesWikiWritingSoHard. Records of the specific changes I made can be found on my personal pages, under DigitalCultureDivideMS and WhatMakesWikiWritingSoHardMS. While this week was a little more challenging, it was still fairly easy in that we can still produce content based primarily on our own ideas and experiences, and therefor don’t have to do very much additional research in order to contribute.

 

I had the most difficulty with writing on DigitalCultureDivide because my initial content was written under the presupposition that divide was based on whether or not wikis could be deemed credible, and that the divide could be placed on a generational line, with older generations on one side and younger generations on the other. It was pointed out to me by JennaLong that this was inaccurate, and that it was more likely to be a matter of the inexperienced vs. the experienced. Re-writing the content to reflect that idea wasn’t very hard, but it took me a while to get to it because I believed that what I had written could “hang with” what Jenna had said. It was my experience that, aside from a few exceptions, being wiki-inexperienced was congruent with being at least a generation above me. The only adult I’d known to trust Wikipedia when I was in highschool and my first years of college was my mom, and even then it was a wary sort of trust.

(Little side-story here; my mom is a tutor, and at one point the girl she was tutoring had to do a research paper. The rules for her sources stated that she could only have one online source (which in this technological age, where many academic journals are publishing their material online, is a tad close-minded). My mom suggested starting with Wikipedia, intending to use it as a method of finding other sources, and the girl FREAKED OUT. Her teachers at school had convinced her that Wikipedia was pretty much evil and should never be used for research ever.)

 

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.

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.

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.