4.05.2006

Jeff Gralnick

Jeff Gralnick is a consultant to the President of News on Internet and new media technologies at NBC News. A graduate of New York University, Gralnick began his journalism career in 1959 with CBS News and transferred to ABC News in 1972. Gralnick currently works for NBC news, and besides consulting the President of News on Internet and new media technologies, he writes the peacock blog on MSNBC.com.

The question I would like to ask Jeff Gralnick is: as a veteran journalist who now specializes in web journalism, do you find web journalism to be as fulfilling as traditional journalism?

This question interests me because I feel that it may be more difficult for a web journalist to feel as connected to his or her audience through a piece than a mainstream journalist may. Through Digital Writing I have treaded some of the very shallow waters of digital journalism, however I have no experience in mainstream journalism and therefore have no basis of comparison. Someone like Jeff Gralnick, with his vast experience, will be able to answer my question easily.

3.01.2006

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue


What's Old: using blogging to express your political views.
What's New: gaining support and readership through blogging on an important subject such as a
man who may be wrongfully situated on death row.
What's Borrowed: a group of people sharing information regarding an inmate who may be
wrongfully accused and rallying in support of him (not a new thing).
What's Blue: the legal system is too conservative to accept information passed between a bunch
of bloggers as anything relevant- the man will most likely stay on death row.

Has Radley Balko begun an online revolution?

Radley Balko has been researching Cory Maye's case, a man sitting on death row for shooting a police officer who entered his room during a drug raid. Not so interesting, right? Consider the fact that Balko has blogged about it for all to see. Getting better? Here's the best part: Balko has succeeded in gaining the interest of a wide variety of readers, including political conservatives and those situated on the left wing of politics.

Is all of this blogging regarding Cory Maye's case simply banter? Is this a trial run to see what sorts of important issues can be brought into the limelight through blogging and online chat? Will Radley Balko be successful in bringing Cory Maye's case into the media spotlight and getting the most important attention of all- the attention of those who have the power to change it? If he is successful, Radley Balko will be the first person to have someone's death sentence overturned using blogger as his medium, a gigantic step for the world of blogging, web journals, and for technology itself.

If Balko is indeed successful in bringing Maye's case into the media spotlight there will be both rewards and consequences. Balko will have proven the unrestricted power of blogs and the internet. The popularity of blogs will likely increase tremendously. Many important issues will be debated and brought to light. Unfortuanately, however, it may become hard to sift through what is really important to discuss and what is not. There will undoubtedly be people trying to replicate Balko and begin a blog that will thrust them into the limelight. Lastly, because people can post whatever they want on their blogs, it is impossible for those reading the blogs to know that the information comes from a credible source.

Note: to read more on the case, go to the Cory Maye section of Balko's Blog.

2.28.2006

To Fairfield, From Student: Get Your Priorities Straight!




Kate McGann published a well written article in the Feb. 9 issue of Fairfield University's independent student newspaper, The Fairfield Mirror. The article, "Kelley Building Takes Shape," is well researched and informative. The Kelley building, it tells us, will be finished in the spring and set to run smoothly by the start of next school year. The completion of the building will allow students access to the Registrar, Financial Aid, Residential Life, and Admissions all in one place. It will also "serve as a welcome center for prospective students and their families."

As a concerned Fairfield student, I have to ask: why in the world are our valuable resources being spent on a new administrative building? The admissions office is currently located in the most beautiful building on campus. It certainly doesn't hurt when the best looking building on campus is the first one etched in prospective students' minds. The Registrar's office is not in an inconvenient location being that it is right in the middle of one of the busiest classroom buildings on campus. On top of its location, the Registrar's office is furnished nicely and is warm and inviting.

These issues however, as important as they are, are overshadowed by one question that just begs to be answered: WHY ISN'T THE NEW KELLEY BUILDING A DORM? The new building may look nice from the outside, and it may act as a "welcome center for prospective students," but the second those prospective students learn they will have to either live in a forced triple or in a lounge as freshmen, they will likely walk right out those new, welcoming, mahogany doors and be prospective students no longer.

In my eyes, the solution is simple: build a new dorm, or stop admitting too many freshmen for the school to handle. The Kelley building has been planned since 1995 and will be finished in 2006. At that rate, freshmen at Fairfield will no longer have to live in lounges by 2017. Print that in the brochure for prospective students and the problem will likely solve itself!

Rage, Anger, and Hate- Dispensable Emotions?


Question: In Gibson's world, what is the purpose of rage, anger, and hate? How does case benefit from these feelings/emotions?

Answer: Case experiences extreme feelings of rage, anger, and hate in the beginning of William Gibson's Neuromancer. He struggles with uneasiness, depression, and dependency. These feelings are too encompassing for Case to overcome.

Later in the book, Case's cerebral cortex is replaced. This action may sound outrageous now, but in the society in which Case lived, putting chips in people's brains was fairly common. Once his cerebral cortex has been replaced, Case's emotions change very dramatically. Although they are still represented in Case throughout the remainder of the novel, Case's emotions are severely muted. Rage, anger, and hate are no exception. These three emotions, although they still remain a part of Case until the end of the book, do not encompass the main character like they did in the beginning of the novel.

Some may think that replacing the cerebral cortex to mute negative emotions is just the answer to the world's problem with violence. I think it's just plain creepy.

2.22.2006

Tracking Torino The Easy Way


I have been tracking the winter Olympics daily since its start 12 days ago. I can tell you which countries have won gold in most of the sports, and I can tell you that Germany is in the lead overall with 9 gold medals, and America is close behind with 7. No, I have not shunned the outside world and been holed up in my house watching every second of the olympics. I have been tracking every event using the offical Olympic web site, ncbolympics.com.

The Olympic website does not simply deliver scores and results. It is a fully interactive website which allows the person navigating the site to view videos and pictures of events and performances. The viewer can navigate through the athlete profiles, one of which is featured every day but all of which are archived for viewing at any time. There is a daily poll which allows the general public to test their knowledge place their bets on who will win gold in a certain event.

There is a downside, however, to the website. It can be avoided, but it does take self-control. Because of the time difference from the US to Italy, all of the scores are posted on the website before anyone in the US gets to watch the events. Knowing who wins while you watch can take some of the excitement out of the viewing. However, if you don't wish to see the scores, there is a well-visible link that offers this luxury, and if you simply click on the link, you won't have to see any of the scores, just for your viewing pleasure.

The best part of the website, however, are the blogs. There is a blog on the site that is written by producers, commentators, and best of all, by gold-medal winners themselves. Most of the gold-medal winners don't talk about their own performances but rather their teammates' performances or the performances of their teams as a whole. Salt Lake City gold medal winner Sarah Hughes is featured in the blog talking about how different the olympics will be for her sister Emily, a Torino competitor, than they were for her. The producers and commentators have very interesting things to say about what goes on "behind the scenes" at the olympics, one of the funniest blogs being the lack of laundry service that is actually provided but always promised.

If you are any sort of a sports fan or are interested in how your country is doing compared to other countries, than this site will be a very helpful tool for you. It is easy to navigate and delivers up-to-the-minute information on the olympic games. Enjoy!

From Me To "U"... How The Narrative Voice Is Changing



The most compelling part of Jill Walker's Do You Think You're Part Of This? Digital Texts And The Second Person Address concerned the ways in which technology has changed our view of "you."

Narratives in the past have employed the word "you" to address the implied, or "virtual" reader. These days, such a thing as a "virtual" reader actually exists. The virtual reader can respond instantly to texts he or she reads, can ask questions about the reading to the "implied author" and may sometimes even control the story himself.

Technology these days strives for its participants to achieve active participation. Many technologies, including video games, computer games, and online forums have had success in achieving active participation by the technologies' participants. According to Walker, this action represents a pinnacle of success for these technologies.

Recently, the line of narrator and narratee has been blurred. The blurring has occured due to this new, technological "virtual reader." Blogging itself has largely contributed to this new pheonomenon. Jill Walker recognizes this pheonomenon in her essay, and so do I.

READ WHAT ELSE JILL WALKER HAS TO SAY AT WALKER'S BLOG

2.15.2006

Blogging Back From Iraq



I have now been blogging for a month and have never given a thought to the fact that there may be soldiers blogging from Iraq. “The Blogs Of War” opened my eyes to this new phenomenon and added just another notch to the “what blogging can do” belt. The fact that events that are happening in a war half a world away can be instantaneously read by anyone connected to the internet is mind-boggling.

There are two huge advantages to blogging from Iraq (or any future war, for that matter). One, soldiers are able to stay connected to their families, an invaluable tool. Soldiers’ blogging comforts families because being in contact with their soldier enables them to know that he or she is safe. Before computing and the internet emerged, soldiers could only contact their families through snail mail. This system forced families to wait for weeks between letters wondering whether or not their soldier was safe. Daily blogging from Iraq eliminates this worry and allows the soldier and his or her family daily contact- an extreme luxury when you consider the ways of communication from previous wars.

The second advantage to blogging from Iraq is that it allows the rest of the country, those who are not directly involved in the war or family members of those who are, to stay updated and even involved in what is happening in the war. Commenting to the soldiers on their blogs and offering support makes those people not directly involved feel that they are helping the soldiers in some way. And I’m sure it helps the soldiers to be reminded that those of us who aren’t in Iraq truly appreciate what they are doing for us and for our country every day. The soldiers are able to maintain direct contact with the American people in this way- the very people who they are fighting for- a brand new phenomenon and an excellent one at that.

To Comment Or Not To Comment..

What are the benefits and drawbacks of allowing comments on your blog? There are a few, important ones that Stone mentions in his novel Who Let The Blogs Out?

The benefits of allowing comments on a blog are simple. When allowing comments on your blog you will receive feedback from your readers on posts that they like or dislike. Although no one likes to get a bad review, it is good to know which stories and opinions are pleasing and appealing to your readers. A good comment can always boost your blogging esteem and encourage you to share more with your audience (this is especially true for those just breaking into the blogsphere). Allowing comments on your blog also encourages dialogue between your audience. This dialogue has the potential, depending on the topic, to be extremely interesting and constructive.. and may keep your entire audience’s attention for weeks!

The drawbacks of allowing comments on a blog, excuse my French, suck. Unfortunately, when a reader has a strong opinion he is sometimes not able to draw the line between what is appropriate and what is not. A reader may send you a nasty comment or remark for all to see. Stone says that it is up to the blogger whether he keeps the comment, edits it, or totally removes it from his blog comments. But really, who wants a nasty comment about him in the blogsphere? On the upside, comments like these can also encourage a dialogue on your blog page. It is just essential that the dialogue be monitored and any inappropriate content be removed from the blogsphere… after all, there are kids out there!

RCADE Photoshop Workshop- A Response

If I can do it, then you can definitely do it too. The Adobe Photoshop workshop, instructed by RCADE, an important computing resource for students here at Fairfield, taught me a whole lot that I would have never known without attending the workshop.

First, each workshop participant is given his or her own individual Apple computer. Having never worked on an Apple computer before I was instantly apprehensive, however the instructor's detailed instructions on how to navigate to what we needed calmed me worries almost immediately. I also became aware almost immediately that I was not the only beginner in the class, which added a level of comfort to my experience at the workshop.

Once we were all settled into Adobe Photoshop, we were taught how to manipulate a photograph, a scanned picture, and a computer graphic to our liking. There were general directions for everyone to follow so that we would all be doing the same things, however when I looked around I noticed most people experimenting with their pictures to see what else they could do.

Not only did I learn how to blur entire pictures, I learned how to blur some parts of a picture and keep other parts sharp. I learned how to manipulate color photographs and graphics into black-and-white images and how to manipulate and change a picture's entire color scheme. A normal color picture can be made into a picture containing only reds, only blues, only magentas, only yellows, or only greens. Color photos can easily be made into black and white, and patterns can be imported onto the picture so you still see the same picture but in a zig-zag patter instead, for example.

I no longer consider myself an Adobe Photoshop beginner. For those of you who no longer wish to be a beginner either, I highly recommend the RCADE workshop!

Gude's Two Cents Make Sense


Dr. Gudelunas, a well-read and very knowledgeable communication professor here at Fairfield, certainly had very many things to say (in very little time) about the brand new and ever-changing world of blogs. The majority of our conversation was centered around the question “why blogs, why now?” We (the class) were satisfied with the simple, typical answer: because technology is now advanced enough to support the blogsphere. Gudelunas, however, was not satisfied with the simple, typical answer. Are blogs really just now becoming popular because of advances in technology? Are people simply logging onto the internet now more than ever? Are programs becoming much more user-friendly so that even the average Joe (or Jane!) can participate? Or are blogging programs suddenly popular because people are getting used to the idea of exposing their thoughts over the computer through programs like e-mail and instant messaging?

My personal theory is that technology has changed the field of communication forever, which has contributed to the popularity of blogs. It is much easier for one to express his or her feelings through the computer; when doing so on the phone you can hear one’s response through a change in voice, when doing so face-to-face you can monitor one’s acceptance or disapproval of your feelings through their facial expressions. Over the internet, however, one can say whatever she wants without abandon- and increasingly, many people are choosing to do so.

The only thing that I disagreed with Dr. Gudelunas about is the amount of blog use that is actually happening. Gudelunas suggested that about 20% of people are blogging, and included the use of facebook as a blogging spot. I disagree that facebook is a blog spot because the person hosting the page (the one who's profile one would be looking at) never writes anything on his or her own page, only other people write short messages. And there is never dialogue on the person's "message board," but instead just one-time notifications. Not one of my friends, when I have told them what I have to do for this class, has even had an idea what a blog is, which tells me that blogging has just not quite hit the mainstream yet.

1.31.2006

Why Read When You Can Surf?

Why are we reading a novel in a digital writing class? Easy.

First, needless to say reading and writing are very closely intertwined. Engaging in all kinds of texts exposes the reader the vast array of writing styles and techniques that are used today. This exposure encourages the writer to experiment with his own writing, and spawns creativity.

Second, Neuromancer is based solely on the subject that we will be studying for the entirety of this semester: computers and the internet. Although somewhat abstract, the ideas and terms portrayed in Gibson's novel are an important part of technological history and a foreshadowing of events to come. These ideas, terms, and appeals will be able to aid us in our learning for the next four months.

Science fiction as a genre is used to engage one's imagination by using scenarios that largely involve the world of science. In this way, Neuromancer is considered a sci-fi novel because it is based in the future and forces its reader to imagine what the use of the technologies it describes will be like in the years to come.