Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Web 2 Assignment

I created a MySpace page, and although I thought it would be easy since I am already quite familiar with Facebook, I was surprised to find it didn't come naturally.  Now, after a week of playing around with it, however, it's become a lot easier.
First, I chose very conservative privacy settings because this is only a temporary account set up for the purposes of this class.  While in more realistic situation, there may be advantages to having lower privacy settings (and therefore making it easier to find and connect with friends, classmates, etc.), I do not actually plan on meeting anyone on MySpace, and so security was preferable.
Then I set about personalizing my page.  I did a lot.  I uploaded a picture and attempted to comment on it.  I added a lot of personal information about myself - where I live, what I do, which activities I enjoy, and so on.  I changed the color scheme and added some applications.  I also wrote a bulletin and a blog entry.  I found a photography group to join, and I was able to connect to a friend's music (his son posted it on MySpace for him).  He does Russian folk songs, by the way, and he's very good IMHO, so I would encourage you to listen to his song on my profile page.
To do all this, I used reading and typing literacies.  I also needed to understand how to use my computer and the Internet.  Beyond just knowing what URLs and hyperlinks are, I needed to have a basic understanding of this genre of website.  Facebook was good preparation conceptually, but the specific mechanisms were different and had to be learned individually by trial and error.  I could have gone to the "Help" section, but that's just not done.  
One challenge I experienced is actually finding myself on MySpace.  It took me a long time to figure out how to direct others to my page since for whatever reason I can't search under my name or email and find my profile.  Still don't know why that's happening, but I did at least find a way around it.  Mostly through poking about until I came across something that worked.
This project resonated with me in regards to several different literacy theories.  Fitst, Gee with his idea of learning through the living out of desired concepts.  I didn't read the instructions manual, I just dove right in and learned as I went along.  In addition, his note about recognizing genre seemed very apt since I was basing most of my interaction with MySpace off of my previous understanding of Facebook and of social networking sites in general.  next, I found Lankshear and Knobel to be relevant as well.  In particular, my experiment seemed to back up their theory that the impact of digital technology is not on information but on relationships.  The information presented on my profile is nothing new.  It has a little basic information about me, a picture, and a friend's music.  What's new is the way that this can all be put together and viewed by different people around the world.  It's the way that I can search for friends and keep tabs with them online.  This is a New LIteracy in the sense that this idea of communication had never been conceived of before.  Communication becomes far more two-way compared to the one-way communication of radio, newspapers, books, even post cards.  I can write my own thoughts and mass publish them with ease and without cost.  It brings up new issues of credibility and a new way of looking at printed information, often with more skepticism since one no longer needs credentials in order to get published.  On the other hand, it makes a lot more information available than ever there was before.  Finally, I feel that Street should also be included in this discussion because of what he wrote about the objectification of language.  This profile page was created as something to be studied, not used.  The personal information I add and the contacts I make are useless because they are mainly for show.  I can navigate the text and I can express authority over it, but the real meaning has been ignored.

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