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Digital Portfolio

Digital Portfolio

Here is an online resume. Hopefully it will be an interesting way to present myself to future employers and/or graduate schools.

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The Human Element

Just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s bad.

Technology is certainly redefining relationships. But that’s not to say that it’s destroying them. Technology has existed for centuries. But so have interpersonal relationships. And using the internet for cybersex does not replace someone giving you a hug when you’re sad.

Virilio seems to constantly understand the emotional side of humanity. His whole argument is based on the assumption that humans choose convenience over fulfillment, and that’s where I think he’s wrong.

We need each other. I, personally, would never let myself lose touch with other humans while I hid behind a computer screen. That is not a life, and Virilio gives no reason to explain why humans would want this.

He also explains how technology allows cybersex, which undermines the institution of marriage. I don’t agree with this at all.

Marriage is a branch of Religion. And Religion, like art, is the embodiment of the human element. Both have been around for centuries. We are in a digital age where almost anything can be created on a computer. But we still have struggling artists. You can download pretty much any show or movie on the internet, yet people still flock to the theatre.

Religion has been around since the beginning of humanity. And technology on earth does not replace concerns for the afterlife, or the soul, and I certainly don’t think it will just make people forget these things.

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Digital Entrapment

I’ve often shared the same worries Virilio expresses. I am not as intense about it, but still.

I give thought to the fact that I’m so completely “on-the-map”. My cell phone, laptop, even my home computer and land line can all be monitored and tracked. I don’t think that anyone currently has any reason to do so, but it can be done. What if I don’t want anyone to be able to find me? What if I want to be off the grid?

In today’s digital age, that’s not really an option. Sure, if you’re James Bond, maybe you can escape, but the rest of us would have a hard time doing so. Data is collected constantly through modern technology. Our credit card transactions, location of phone calls, our names on any online purchase, and even footage from cameras everywhere could be used to find us. 

Now Virilio warns that the government can take advantage of this. They can tap us, track us, trace us, etc. So the question becomes is it worth it? Is it worth having access to all of this technology, at the price of giving up your total freedom?

For most of us, I think the answer is yes. Virilio would probably not appreciate that judgment, but honestly, how many of us have to worry about being tracked by the government? Realistically, there are millions of cell phones in the US. Unless you are a major criminal or top secret spy, why would they target you? Why should your life be the focus of the government? It’s unrealistic that the government could or even would monitor the millions of internet accessible devices in the country.

So what do we as (hopefully) law-abiding citizens have to have paranoia about? If it came to the point that our country was monitoring our lives via technology for their own tyrannical purposes, we’d have a lot bigger problems than the question of whether or not to use that technology. The use of technology does not affect the effectiveness of our government. That is for us to decide, and technology is just a tool that can be used by anyone for anything. 

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Open Sky

In the first 3 chapters of Open Sky, written by Paul Virilio, he discusses our society’s change in interpersonal communication. He emphasizes the importance of changing the ways in which our communication is deteriorating. One thing I thought was interesting was Virilio’s concern about face to face interaction. Virilio would agree that in order to retain traditional communication we must protect the sanctity of these interactions.

New technology has made communication possible without ever seeing the other person’s face. Transportation, cell phones, and the internet have all helped foster a world in which you can no someone without having ever met them.
 
Transportation has changed in that it is no longer needed. It once took months to travel to a new place, then weeks, then days, and now just hours. But why would someone travel to a new physical spot, when they can accomplish the same thing from their own home?
 
Cell phones have enabled people to communicate without ever seeing the other person’s face. You’ve probably all been in a situation where you met someone for the first time and thought “wow, they don’t look like what I imagined on the phone”. We are able to envision a person, and even know a person very well, without ever having laid eyes on them.
 
The internet is even worse than cell phones. With the internet, you aren’t just lacking a face to the name. You could be fooled about a person’s appearance, or it could be hidden from you. The internet enables anyone to create an identity, and this cyber world lacks the intimacy and reality of a face to face conversation.
 
These new technologies are taking away something valuable- they’re removing our appreciation of the physical. We no longer require a face to a name; we will take the virtual form. Virilio’s concern is that one day; our value of the physical will disappear.
 
Do you agree with that? Do you think that modern technology, especially the internet, erases the need for physical contact with other people? Or do you think that technology just paves the way for physical contact to be made?
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It’s All About the User

This article is essentially outlining what the focus behind every webpage should be- the user. A webpage can not be about what the author wants, it must be a combination of the author’s message and the user’s experience. 

There are seven general aspects of adapting to your webpages’ audience:

1. List your major audience

 
This literally means to make a list of your intended audience. Who are they? Redish emphasizes the human element of this exercise- he advises not to list departments or institutions, but rather groups of people. This means teachers, mothers, day laborers, etc. 

2. Gather information about your audience. 

This particular device requires more sophisticated techniques- consulting marketing departments, analyzing communication from users, and collecting data from surveys. 

3. List major characteristics for each audience.

This is another list-making technique, this time to more thoroughly analyze the goals, needs, and desires of your intended audience. It involves taking into account experience with your subject matter, emotions, values, technology, culture, and demographics. 

4. Gather your audience’s questions, tasks, and stories. 

This seems a lot like step two to me, I’m not sure how you would collect this information without using techniques given in that step. It just means specifically gathering information about what the user wants from your site.

5. Create a persona

A persona is essentially a user profile with a fictional name and picture attached to make the profile into an actual character. I think this particular step is a little strange, as the author treats it as some sort of ritual- he specifically says not to give the character a silly name because it’s disrespectful. I get the point of this step, but does it really have to be so intensely intimate with a fictional person? I mean, he suggests putting their face on placemats or on a giant cardboard cutout- am I the only person who thinks that would be more distracting than helpful?

6. Include the persona’s goals and tasks.

As the persona is supposed to be a collection of the data from all your users, I think this is redundant. This step just means stating the goals of your persona, but since the persona is a compilation of the goals of the user pool, wouldn’t this be the same as step 4?

7. Create scenarios.

This step is another that involves fictional character writing to better understand your site’s audience. You write out a scenario where a user has a particular goal, and then figure out if your site can help them find that goal. 

 

 

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Heller Fall Fest Video

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Getting it Right

Talk about a high pressure job. Brian Carroll makes print editing look like a walk in the park compared to online editing. I got a feeling that he wrote this chapter just to turn me away from that career…

But in all seriousness, it sounds like a good online editor must be a jack-of-all-trades. A renaissance man, if you will. They have to have not only the organization and time management skills of a type A person, but also the creativity and flexibility of a type B person. 

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How can one person be both?? An online editor has to be. 

To describe an online editor’s job in one word, I would choose consistency. Not only in writing style and skill, but also in aesthetics and technical details, the editor must ensure flow and continuity.

This incorporates some of the things we have learned about in class:

The last link, for navigation, includes some great examples of clean, easy to navigate websites and is definitely worth a look.

The responsibilities listed above are just a few that fall under the umbrella of “checking copy,” a term used for when an online editor thoroughly reviews everything  about the actual writing- the grammar, the spelling, the flow, the facts, the ethos, the logos, the pathos, etc. But that’s just the tip of the iceburg. An online editor must also be prepared to write multimedia, which is where the creative side comes in. They must be able to produce logical, pleasing, well designed multimedia to their audience. This includes video, photos, interactive maps, games, and quizzes, and the list goes on. 

But that’s not all. The online editor must be able to actually investigate what they are covering. This doesn’t mean wikipedia that jazz. This actually means go Sherlock Holmes on your business to get the info you need. 

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Maybe not quite the online editor yet…

Doing all of this at once seems next to impossible. But thank the lucky stars for Content Management Systems. What’s that?

Content Management Systems are basically systems that organize data to be published on the web in an especially efficient manner. As Brian Carroll argues, “A good CMS can do many of the functions of print editors, freeing up human resources for the more important tasks of fact-checking and copyediting” (Carroll 131).

An online editor must not only be familiar with all of the above practices, but efficient. They must not just know how to use these systems, they must perfect them. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I will never be an online editor.