Thursday, November 19, 2009

Discussion Forum Topics

1.) Personal Experiences from Real Scam Victims
2.) Anybody Know a Person Who's Been Behind a Scam or Identity Theft Program?
3.) Examples of Scams in the Movies, TV, or Other Media

3 Potential Blog Post Topics

1.) Hints to Help Identify Scams Before You Get Trapped in Them
2.) Common Types of Online Scams
3.) How Identity Theft Has Increased in Recent Years

Monday, November 16, 2009

Compare + Contrast

The gist of Danah Boyd's article:
Social networking sites cause attention whores to be hypocrites. Everyone is in their own little world where they are all-knowing and all-powerful and it is complete BS. Women put up slutty poses and then talk about their deep concern for the environment -- how can they be taken seriously?

The gist of Lance Bennett's article:
Social networking is the new form of being a dutiful citizen. While some may say that us younger civilians are not as involved in these causes and less likely to join activist groups, they are merely ignoring the new medium for doing such things -- the Internet. Its time for these old bastards to wake up to this changing phenomeonon, take the reins off and let the young'ns go nuts because they are capable of great things.

The winner of this argument? Danah Boyd. I really believe that the main purpose of SNSs is for people to create their own ideal identity. These Facebook causes don't actually make any difference in the world -- they are simply a way for its users to say 'Hey, look at me... I care!' I think Mr. Bennett came off as overly optimistic on this one, while Boyd got at the larger truth.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Social Networks

Boy am I sick of social networking sites. I thought going away to college provided me with the opportunity to leave all the people from my hometown behind and start to meet some new and interesting people instead. Now, in this age of social networking, not only can I not escape these douchbags, but they know everything about me! They know where I went last night, because some dumb broad snapped 1000 pictures and posted them already. They know who I'm talking to, the inside jokes that I have with my REAL friends, and everything else in between. A huge part of me wants to rid myself of Facebook and all of the other online bullshit that's a complete invasion of my privacy. But I can't do it. Why? Because it's an enormous part of society. No Facebook is comparable to no cell phone, no debit card, no driver's license... NO IDENTITY. So that's out of question.

But getting to the article here, I liked how they broke everything down. Every definition and explanation they gave was extremely detailed, and although it became tough to decipher everything with one read-through, when you picked out key sentences and read them over again, there was some great information there. I even learned a bunch of SNSs (ooh, how trendy) I'd never even heard of before. When you take a look at the history of it all (mostly from the Mainstream MySpace section to the part about the emergence of Facebook), it's extremely interesting at how this whole phenomenon caught fire. These networks caught on so fast that it's difficult to document off the top of your head all the changes that took place. Facebook went from uppity Harvard pricks to college students to high school kids to now my freakin mom and all her sisters stalk all my pictures. How awesome is it when your Mom knows that you're going on a drunken bus trip to Providence before you're even sure you are? Good joke, it sucks. Thanks pop culture.

My only question: What's next? The landscape of these social networking sites is so fast-changing that it's tough to say. As they say in the 'Future Research' section, the discussion is ongoing and extremely difficult to quantify. All I know is that eventually it's going to get to a point where I'm gonna lose my mind. When I kick the addiction, I'll let you know.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Issues & Causes

I'm not your typical kid when it comes to opinions, viewpoints, etc. By reading some of my comments and blog posts, you may have noticed that by now. Either way, when it comes to listing issues that concern me, just know that these probably aren't going to be common answers. A lot of 'popular' causes that pop up (abortion, animal rights, Liberals vs. Republicans), in my opinion, are just ways for people to bitch about nothing. Some people live in a fantasy world, and when you hear them talk about these 'causes', it's quite evident. Did Michael Vick deserve two years in prison? I sure don't think so. But doggies are so cute!

This is not meant to undermine or disparage the upcoming project (I actually think it's gonna be fun to do), it's just my two cents on these common activist causes. So without further ado, my picks:

1.) Fatherless Homes -- Do you know how much more likely it is that a kid (boys mostly) will grow up to be a fuck up if his dad is not a part of his life? I've seen so many examples of this, and it bothers the hell out of me.

2.) Reverse Racism -- Due to the fact that white people are continuously playing catch-up with black people, some of the ways blacks blatantly discriminate against US go completely unnoticed. Trust me, I played high school basketball in northern New Jersey for 4 years -- you should hear some of the things East Orange fans would say to us when we walked into their gym. But hey, slavery/civil rights/Rodney King/affirmative action gives them the right! Yeah right, what the fuck did I have to do with any of that?

3.) Corruption -- The rich fucking people over to get that much richer. Bernie Madoff. Enron. Local governments. Judges with lifetime tenure. The whole thing is just sleazy, incredibly unethical, and it'll never stop.

4.) Age Discrimination -- Prime example: The town of Narragansett, Rhode Island. Not only do 19-22 year olds keep the entire town's economy afloat during the fall and winter months, but they feel the need to create bogus laws to squeeze every remaining dime out of us that they can. And what are we gonna do about it? Nothing, because I'm 21. So that gives them the right to fuck me over. Makes perfect sense.

5.) Unemployment -- Everybody should have the opportunity to earn a living and support themselves. Not everyone has the drive to sustain it, but they should at least be given a chance. Hey Rhode Island, if your unemployment rate is so high, why don't you start turning some of your gas stations into full service? I know Steve my alcoholic neighbor wouldn't mind pumping gas all day for $9 an hour.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Learned Something Today

So the project's done. The URI Surf Club website has been dissected, criticized, trashed and brought back to life in a matter of two weeks. It was a long and trying journey. Students who had never met one another had to come together on a number of ideas and work to achieve the goal of a more improved website. So what's the moral of the story here?

It ain't that hard to make a good website.

I think what we've learned here is that effective site-making, while there is a lot of technicality to it that takes a hell of a long time to learn, is theoretically simple. You need varying sizes of text to effectively emphasize things. You need your color scheme to be aesthetically pleasing and clear. You need a menu that's easy to find and access. And you need to simplify your organizational hierarchy as much as you can. Images, videos, anything else that enhances the site -- that all depends on the subject and the creator. It varies. We're not talking about being spectacular. We're talking about being EFFECTIVE. And sticking to those main points will most likely assure that a site will come off as effective.

Now if the URI Surf Club is halfway intelligent, they'd take a few pointers from our project. But based on their current website design, and the fact that they're surfers, they probably won't do anything to improve it. Goddamn kids...

Jazzin' Up a Site Map

So back when it was a class assignment to do your own site map, I took a glance at what everybody had brought in -- just to compare them to mine, see if I'd done the right thing, ya know. And much to my surprise, my shitty little sketch with arrows and scribbles everywhere turned out to be pretty nice by comparison. Everyone's looked a little sloppy, to be frank. So once I was assigned to do that for my group, I immediately decided that I was going to have to differentiate mine from the chicken scratch that everyone else was probably gonna hand in.

When I was a senior in high school, I dropped my 1st period advanced biology class so that I could take freshmen word processing instead. Why? Cuz fuck it, that's why. I wasn't gonna waste my time studying about cells and plants during my last year of HS when I could just smoke pot before school and race a bunch of 14 year olds in WPM every morning. I even convinced my two best friends to switch in with me. It was awesome -- we must have looked like such scumbags, but we ran that class.

But the point of this story is that I actually benefited greatly from taking word processing as a senior. I learned so many different little tools and tricks for Microsoft Word that I've been using all the time in college. I'm a friggin master when it comes to Word. I can format that shit like no other. So when it comes to drawing and putting symbols and creating something like a site map on the computer, it really comes easy to me. It looks SO much neater and more professional. Anytime a situation presents itself in which I can gain a leg up by using all the different Word features to impress a teacher, I jump on it. This was one of those situations.

The Dynamics of a Group Project

So for our website redesign project, my group decided to completely split our tasks up (definitely the right decision). Everybody is responsible for their own thing, and based on my perception of my fellow group members' competencies, I'm not worried about a thing. Since this is approximately my 547th group project of the semester, I've grown accustomed to distrusting these random johns that I'm forced to work with. Maybe it's because I'm in the business school, where being a lazy piece of shit is apparently a requirement for admission. But in this case, I got paired up with some people that are really on the ball. Becca and Christine have really done a fabulous job with doing the major site redesign -- we collaborated on a plan, they communicated it, and they executed it very well. Matt talked about his skills in persuasive writing, and based on the proposal memo he brought into class on Wednesday, my man was right on about that. He did a great job. As for me? Well, since I was apparently able to grasp the concept of a site map, that became my responsibility. The feedback was good on what I prepared for Wednesday's peer review, so I'm gonna keep rolling with it. I trust that when our project is complete and handed in by Monday, it'll meet all the requirements and turn into a good grade. I just feel fortunate that this process of group work was tremendously less painful than most of my experiences. Was it the luck of the draw with my partners? Was it Sakai? Was it the layout of the project? Don't know, and quite frankly, don't care. As long as everyone has the same goal and can produce, it works out for everyone in the end.