Archive for the ‘Assignment 1’ Category

Jaws Response: Bioshock

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

My response is available here:

What’s great about Bioshock is that I am able to fully submerse myself into the very riveting story. I am able to do more than just watch idly; in the game my choices affect the story’s outcome. It was really only after this game that I started to think about and appreciate how much a video game can truly be a work of art. Although the game is rather graphic, it’s impossible to find a story like it anywhere but at the bottom of the sea.

“Greatest Story Ever Told”

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

After the first class, Professor Groom shared with us a link to what he called “the greatest story ever told”– that is Robert Shaw’s Jaws sililoquy. While that post was not necessarily an assignment, I believe the ability to respond to that thought and have it “count” within the academic sphere, as well as the creative freedom that this forum called the internet allows, speaks to the message conveyed in our first “real” assignment– Garder Campbell’s Cyberinfrastructure (or “the bags of gold”) lecture.

Therefore, I will begin this post with one of my favorite movie moments that captivates me every time. It might be the Michael J. Fox/Michael Douglas combo. They aren’t necessarily telling a story in the clip, per Robert Shaw, but the clip itself tells a story about a citizen’s responsibility to both question leaders and be prepared to differentiate between good and bad leadership.

Lewis: “People want leadership, Mr. President. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”

Andrew Shepherd: “We’ve had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn’t find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty. They drink it because they don’t know the difference.”

I feel the responsibility to know the “sand” from the “water” is especially important as rapidly growing technology creates faster, easier access to information regarding what issues we choose to engage and which leaders we choose to represent ourselves as individuals and as a nation to a world that is ever-connecting.

We have a new alphabet.

This is, perhaps, the most revolutionary part of Campbell’s lecture for me. Maybe it reflects my relative immaturity in regards to all things computers, that the most elementary of concepts helps me to understand the most complex of concepts as we tackle and engage the web this semester. For a long time, though, I’ve  considered myself merely a consumer. Google is something you do to get information. But to give it? To express my own ideas, with my own identity? Certainly that is too complicated for me to approach.

Then again, I wouldn’t say “no” to a bag of gold, would I?

So I am reaching out my hands, that they might be filled with a new currency. Complicated as it may be at first, this is the stuff of relevance and change and revolution. Gardner Campbell’s theory of personal cyberinfrastructure is, at its core, the invigorating message that I have something meaningful to share. Servers and domains and webspaces may sound confusing, but somewhere in there is an identity I have to be willing to claim for myself. The web already knows who I am as a consumer– it is just that good. It is high time that introduce myself to the web as a producer.

What  I already love about the structure of this class and Campbell’s vision as the framework is that it basically exists to introduce us to a new alphabet and provide thought-provoking prompts. We choose the words we form with the letters and I am confident that will prove to be a diverse collection of ideas. Isn’t that the point?

I believe Campbell would agree– and have something much smarter to say about it. It is time to explore the expressive capabilities at our fingertips and appreciate the ability to do so within the academic realm. This is the alphabet of higher education. And while mine might not be the “greatest story ever told” (I assure you it is not), I am excited to learn a new forum through which to tell it and to hear from others through their own design.

Assignment #1

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Well, a little late I admit but I finally have everything working! So now is the time to actually put my blog to use!

To get the Reflection part over with I have to admit that watching Gardner Campbell’s presentation was really interesting. Not only did I learn more about where this class is going, the article/presentation got me thinking about where the internet is headed. It has most definitely changed from the days where we contacted each other through email or AIM. Now that a variety of social networks have come up our social life has become intimately connected with the internet. So it makes sense that school should also follow that path.

The thing that Gardner discusses in both his article and presentation is the idea of giving us room to create our own personal space, to create our own work and be able to access it later. Most papers that we write are thrown away or stuffed in a closet somewhere, never to be looked at until you decide to do some spring cleaning. (Not that I would ever stuff my old papers in a closet!) I really like the idea of creating your own space to publish your work, and believe me as soon as I am done writing this post there will be some major revamping of this blog layout. I will create my own “locker room” space.

Granted not everything I write will be Nobel Prize worthy, though this post will be a major contender :D , but at least I can call it my own work. Because of that I will have a certain amount of pride attached to it.

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Gardner Campbell Presentation

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Personal cyber infrastructure is an extremely interesting concept. Our world now obtains the tools (widespread internet access, abundant computer usage, etc) to create an online infrastructure much more complex than websites such as facebook. This infrastructure could be a place for both academic and social purposes. One idea is to give newly enrolled undergraduate students a domain for them to create, explore, invent, and connect.

While the thought of having a place to post all academic work is great, instead of merely tossing it at the end of each semester, I see several drawbacks that may occur with these new domains as a whole. I believe that Campbell has this idea that these sites will be completely unregulated and that students will be able to add, post, and comment at their own will. If these domains are issued through a University there will undoubtedly be regulation. This will hinder the effectiveness of these domains, as student’s imagination and expression will be monitored for inappropriate content or possibly “non-University” related things. Because the sites will be in plain site for the entire world to see, each University will only want positive, clean, acceptable items on these sites. This will significantly reduce the success of these pages as a whole. One suggestion would be to not issue the domains through universities, but have the students purchase them on their own. Removing the ties from an educational source would allow more freedom for the user, overall creating a much more interesting and diverse cyber infrastructure for the entire world to share.

Response to Gardner Campbell’s article and presentation

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Having no prior experience with computer science, I have to say, reading Gardner Campbell’s article and listening to his presentation was quite a different experience for me.  Some of the technical jargon made it a little difficult to follow parts of the article, but I think that’s just something I’m going to have to get used to for the semester; and that’s okay, I’m willing to try it.

I think Dr. Campbell makes some valid points about the need for students to create “personal cyberinfrastructures,” particularly when he discusses the need for self-expression in a digital space.  I have had few classes where online interaction—let alone creative online interaction—played a role in coursework.  However, in the one class that I was required to “blog” (Blackboard-style), it was nice to participate in a space where students could collaborate beyond the traditional classroom environment.  To put this experience some context, it was for an education class, so students were required to share student teaching experiences in online discussion groups.  I truly think the opportunity to collaborate in a digital environment enhanced the challenging process of learning how to teach.  It was easy to learn from everyone’s experiences as we constantly shared interesting tips and anecdotes from weekly or bi-weekly practicum sessions.  That being said, considering that an environment as stifling as Blackboard could induce productive student-driven discussions, I think a more creative and versatile cyberinfrastructure could only improve on this means of sharing ideas.

Speaking of development as a student, I was interested in the notion of building on a personal cyberinfrastructure from matriculation to beyond commencement.  I think of how I have changed as a student at UMW and all of the “data” that I’ve produced in the last three years.  The type of environment Dr. Campbell describes would be the perfect space to track my personal and academic development since freshman year—much more satisfying and revealing than a boring GPA or standardized test score to “prove” how I’ve matured since matriculation.

I was also interested in the notion of being a producer and user of data.  Dr. Campbell used the game Little Big Planet as one example.  Although I’ve never played this game, he mentioned tagging user-created game levels for other gamers to use.  This tagging reminds me of a website that I use ( for tracking the music I listen to with iTunes and my iPod.  Similarly to Little Big Planet, users (i.e. music data producers) can tag artists according to user-created genres so that other users can use these tags to listen to artists relevant to their musical tastes.  Data acquired from your account is also used for suggesting artists you might like.  I wonder if this kind of tagging could work for students’ ideas, too?  It would probably make sharing ideas easier, as well as connecting with people with similar interests.

If nothing else, perhaps creating personal cyberinfrastructures will redirect students’ energy from constant Facebooking and toward more productive, but similarly engaging, environments.

Gardner Campbell’s “A Personal Cyber Infrastructure”

Monday, August 30th, 2010

The ideas Gardner Campbell presents in his essay and presentation were very interesting topics I have never really thought about before.  We brought up a lot of good points in class, such as students being able to produce info and data, rather than just receiving it from teachers. I really like this point because it allows the classroom to be more interactive rather than a normal lecture with students copying notes from a powerpoint. Along with this point, we discussed how people put their information out in the world willingly, yet are paranoid about “Big Brother” and surveillance.  I just thought this was a really interesting thought to discuss. Another point Campbell makes in his essay is that the personal cyber infrastructure allows students to get connected and interact with other students. I consider this important to the classroom because it allows students to open up to others and express their opinion outside of the actual classroom. Overall, I believe Gardner Campbell’s essay and presentation explains very thoroughly and thoughtfully on why this personal cyber infrastructure is the best way to conduct a class and how it is going to change the way we work forever.

Campbell Reflection

Monday, August 30th, 2010

I’ve taken 102 credits during my time as a student at UMW, and the class that I remember most is the one that promoted the type of digital learning environment Gardner Campbell presents in his article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” and presentation “No More Digital Facelifts: Thinking the Unthinkable About Open Educational Experiences.” While I can only name a single course (excluding Digital Storytelling) that encouraged students to become managers of their own space and data, I also consider it one of the favorite and most memorable classes of my undergraduate career.

As Campbell notes, higher education’s version of the “digital facelift” appeared legitimate. The environments he references-online class registration, grade displays and forums-are certainly convenient in education, but Campbell got me thinking, “What do these digital environments really do for me long-term besides save me from a trip to Lee Hall to register for a class or save some paper by posting an assignment only the professor will probably read to a Blackboard forum?” I benefit from these online services in the short-term, but when they’re compared to the personal Cyberinfrastructure Campbell presents, their advantages fade, and I realize the real digital environment all of higher education needs to embrace is one that gives students the freedom to “discover and craft their own desires and dreams” (Campbell).

I like the direction Campbell points academia toward as he discusses the personal Cyberinfrastructure and explains, “[Students] would become, in myriad small but important ways, system administrators for their own digital lives. In short, students would build a personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career—and beyond.” The work we do as students (and beyond) would retain its value and always be available, a feature Blackboard forums and class web pages fail to provide. There would be more opportunities to connect, customize and produce, even after a course ended or a student graduated.

As I viewed Campbell’s presentation and read his article, I continually thought back to the single class at UMW that seemed to understand the validity of the digital education environment Campbell urges higher education to welcome. Professor Zach Whalen gave students the opportunity to begin building their digital lives in his Spring 2010 Writing Through Media Course. We purchased our own domains, and over the course of a semester, began crafting our digital identities. In those fourteen weeks, I was able to explore several creative possibilities in the way I presented my digital content, which included the subject of my blog and myself. In class projects posted to our websites and through my blog, I had many opportunities to explore topics through audio, video, text and/or images. There were few limits to the way I could appeal to and/or interact with my audience and classmates.

As a student, I loved my experience in Whalen’s class because it allowed me to feel creative about a topic of my choice and think outside of the typical “what the professor wants” attitude. In this case, the professor did as Campbell suggests and was able to “…lead by example—to demonstrate and discuss, as fellow learners, how they have created and connected their own personal cyberinfrastructures” (Campbell) by giving us a tour of his own digital identity, introducing us to HTML and CSS, assigning us digital projects we could design around our blog’s focus and showing us the digital tools available to expand our digital lives. And now, like Campbell foresaw, I am continuing to modify my digital life through my college career, and am confident I will continue to foster it well beyond my graduation date. I see where the personal cyberinfrastrucutre has value because of the educational experience I had in Whalen’s class, and I want to continue learning and exploring how to become an “effective architect, narrator, curator and inhabitant of my own digital life” (Campbell).

At the same time, I can’t imagine some of my past and current professors (and perhaps even some of my classmates) endorsing the idea of a digital identity, and I wonder if higher education is currently “stalled” in some ways regarding the idea of personal cyberinfrastructure because not everyone is past the “digital facelift” stage. Rather, they are content with connecting through Blackboard or Eaglenet and may not know how to lead by example when it comes to a digital identity. Campbell concludes his essay with, “Those of us who work with students must guide them to build their own personal cyberinfrastructures, to embark on their own web odysseys. And yes, we must be ready to receive their guidance as well.” This sounds great in theory, but in some cases I wonder how certain professors and students in higher education will even meet at and then eventually emerge successfully from this point.

Assignment 1 – Gardner’s Cyberinfrastructure

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Cyberinfrastructure is something more specific than the network itself, but it is something more general than a tool or a resource developed for a particular project, a range of projects, or, even more broadly, for a particular discipline.

— American Council of Learned Societies,
Our Cultural Commonwealth, 2006

This opening had me far beyond confused, but after reading Gardner Campbell’s article, I think I have a decent understand of his idea of a ‘cyberinfrastructure’ (though where that word comes from I don’t know) and how it can relate to my life and the lives of those around me, both in college and out of it. Speaking with friends who have already graduated, every now and then they talk of an assignment or project they worked on, were proud of, and wish they still had access too. I feel the same way about some high school papers, and of course with hindsight 20/20, wish I had saved them somewhere other than school computers. All the work they expected me to do was finished, but once it was done it didn’t seem to matter anymore. A personal space, one for each of us to call our own, would be helpful in not only preventing some of that regret, but also show our personal growth over time. And what is more, we would be able to do so as a community of people – aka the entire human race. Watching youtube videos from Japan and Ireland and Australia, facebooking with friends met years ago and sharing in those experiences, twittering with people we have never and probably will never meet – all these interactions create a community, and communities lead to progress. As the possibilities for growth increase exponentially, so too should our motivation to seize those opportunities.

However, with growth comes new responsibilities, and with responsibility comes the potential for downfall. Fifty years ago, there was no such thing as ‘identity theft’ and hacking into email, facebook, bank accounts online was not a fear because they simply did not exist. While the advantages of a cyberinfrastructure are tremendous, so too are the possibilities of it falling apart. The psychology major in me says today’s youth are already lacking the abilities to communicate well with each other due to the abilities to hide behind computer screens or obsess over video games, and having too much of our lives focus on computers does not necessarily lead to progress. This ‘bag of gold’ as Gardner calls it, may also come with a few rusty pieces in it and we need to be wary of them.

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