Category Archives: Week Three

Interactive Communication

Martin Karlsson, in “Representation as Interactive Communication”, writes about how politicians should be reaching out to citizens by using social media to bridge the distance between the people of the state and the people that govern the state. In today’s society, citizens are doubting the legitimacy of the government more than ever as they feel increasingly distant and less trustworthy in political parties and those who are associated with them. Karlsson writes that it’s increasingly important for politicians to communicate with citizens on a more personal scale, to ensure their full understanding of the government in the state and the position their elected authorities have. To regain this sense of connectivity between government and citizens, politicians shouldn’t forgo the norms of the government but rather find new strategies to follow old norms. With the emergence of social media on the internet, the perfect opportunity for politicians to develop those new strategies has surfaced. Karlsson said that with blogs especially, politicians can convey their thoughts and messages to the public with an option for anyone in the country to reply and respond with their own opinion, in turn that said politician can read and reply to.

I agree completely with Karlsson. What he didn’t go over however was why we the citizens are feeling our government and politicians are losing their legitimacy as we lose our trust. I’d argue the creation of the world wide web, specifically social media websites, have opened up the eyes of many Canadians and offered them enough information for everyone to formulate a solid, factually based opinion rather than subjective arguments based off what they see on television or hear on the radio. The internet, as biased as it can be sometimes, is absolutely completely unbiased in the right places, which is where the true light is shed on controversial issues, especially those regarding the government. With an entire country armed with knowledge, the government isn’t the most intelligent force any longer. They’re the authority still, but the minds of those authorizing and the minds of those electing are on a similar page now, leading people to figure different, better ways (in their opinion) that the country could be run. This is why the legitimacy of the government isn’t as strong as it used to be, and this is why politicians have to reach out to citizens and bridge the physical gap between the two groups. If we know we can be just as smart as the people who run the country, we should be able to communicate directly with those who run the country. It gives citizens a sense of power and control over the land they live on, even though the old norms of sovereignty aren’t being changed.

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Social Media as Research Tools

Group: Cristian Medeiros, Ian Smyth, Alejandro Flores

Social media has existed before the internet age and so has the ability to use is a research tool. However, with the inclusion of the world wide web, our access to research has grown exponentially as new avenues into social media have opened up. Here are four examples of using social media as a research tool.

1. Television/Radio – Television and radio were ground breaking mediums to deliver content and information because of the fact that the audience was able to see and hear what was happening rather than visualize it for themselves through the newspaper. Although both deliver enormous amounts of documented information all the time, the content being delivered is often biased. Media is not fully liberated on these mediums, as channels on them are owned by corporations, both publicly and privately. It’s up to those corporations as to what kinds of news they’d like to deliver and how they’d like to portray it. It’s up to the audience to pick apart what news is objective and what news is subjective and be able to gather research off of that.

2. Twitter and Facebook – Twitter and Facebook are excellent sources to look up people and learn a ton of relevant information. However, this information is not necessarily professional and credible. It’s important that for those looking for documents and information relevant to what they are looking for, that they check the credibility of the user posting and cross reference using a search engine. Make sure the post is credible and has sources, and make sure the user posting is legitimate and not just someone posting trash to throw people off. Information could also be restricted to people under a certain age as they may be too young to sign up for a Facebook or Twitter account. In a lot of cases these young adults lie about their age to gain access to the social media.

3. Newspapers – Newspapers are incredible sources to get information from, and they even include a chronological recording that can be found online. They’re one of the oldest forms of social media, and one of the most credible. Newspapers, although possibly biased, are usually much more objective than subjective. There’s less room to elaborate on stories so publishers tend to write much more facts than opinions, which serve much better as research tools. Although the popularity of physical print is dying, the majority of newspapers publish their articles online which can be accessed by anybody. Articles on newspapers also always have a visible author and the company they are published from is usually very credible, such as the New York Times or the Toronto Star.

4. Blogs – Blogs are great sources for research since the researcher has direct access to the author’s line of thoughts, ideas, and chronology. However, most authors have no commitment to maintaining their blogs and as such over time certain blogs could become discontinued. Also, blogs tend to be much more subjective and opinionated than other forms of social media research tools. It takes a lot longer to read a blog and shift through the relevant information than to find other information from, say, an online newspaper article. Also, if the blog doesn’t have citations or sources at the bottom how does the researcher even know the information is legitimate? Professional blogs are fantastic forms of information for research, but there’s a lot less professional blogs than amateur blogs. In summary, with the inclusion of new forms of social media the ability to access information for research is absolutely incredible. Never before have we had so much access to so many types of objective and subjective types of information and data. The ability to shift through the internet and social media to find relevant and credible forms of research is an important skill to learn and have, but once obtained makes researching things quick and efficient. Everything that happens in the world today is now written and documented, by tons and tons of people, from amateurs to professionals. They can use newspapers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, television, radio, and all sorts of social media to deliver information. We really do have an unlimited source available for research.

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What Makes a Good Blog?

Group: Ian Smyth, Cristian Medeiros, Alejandro Flores

There are many things that make up a good blog and many are very easy to do. A good blog must have a lot of context but it should not be over-worded because the quality of the blog is a lot more important than the quantity. This also means that the blog should be written properly and in paragraph form, rather than one long paragraph. For a blog to be good you need to be able to grab peoples attention and to do that you need to be passionate about what you are speaking about and in turn you will have people interested in your blog.

An added touch to any blog can be to add visuals to further attract readers and get them to read what you had posted. If the blog includes all these elements then it would probably make a good blog. As a group we researched many different types of blogs and decided to compare two photography blogs. One blog was from the Toronto Star (http://thestar.blogs.com/photoblog/) showing many different pictures that cover a wide range of topics. This blog features many eye-catching photos, however these photos are specifically accompanied with context so that readers understand the background information of these pictures. This is a good trait in a picture blog because it adds to the effect the pictures have on people and keeps them interested. The blog shows many different types of subjects varying from sports to disease making the blog very diverse and open to a wide range of audience. The diversity of the blog helps to diversify the audience as well because everyone has different interests they would like to know more about. Overall the blog is very well laid out and is easy to navigate. It shows very well composed images with articles to add context, hence keeping people interested.

When it comes to research, Tumblr is a good example of a bad blog. It consists of many pictures that people reblog but since each user could easily alter the information, it makes it hard to retain the quality and the consistency of the information being spread. Also the lack of restrictions and the considerably large amount of freedom given to Tumblr users make it difficult to filter the content of the blog. This leads to many rudimentary and non-quality based posts by young bloggers. Having said that, generally it may seem that Tumblr may not be a good research blog. However, there are some Tumblr blogs that actually value the quality of the research and giving the credit where it’s due. This is an example of a good research blog: http://nadine-fattaleh.tumblr.com/. The blog specifies a particular interest; being art and demonstrates this interest using different pictures that the user has found intriguing. The pictures are also given credit and are cited. The owner of this blog focuses on quality over quantity and enjoys photographic innovation.

Taking http://jonnysgotaboomboom.tumblr.com/ as an example, the blog displays a large amount of interests. It does not focus on one subject. Although the general aroma of the blog could be distinguished as comedic, a specified interest is not followed through. The blog’s background makes it difficult to focus on each individual picture and it’s difficult to navigate through. Comparing this blog to our first example of a good blog, which is the Toronto star, we can see a huge difference. The Toronto star’s interface can be easily navigated through which makes the research experience more enjoyable and user-friendly. The researcher will want to use The Toronto star again because of its easy accessibility and ease of navigation.

All in all, these two picture-blogs give examples of bad and good blogs. A good blog needs to have different types of visual aid, it needs to focus on a specific topic, and it needs to favor quality vs. quantity. The Toronto star bears these different attributes whereas most Tumblr blogs do not.

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Group Work

My group experiences within the class in high school have varied from a pleasant experience to plain terrible, as I’m sure most people can empathize with. Group projects can be difficult to accomplish, especially in high school where a good number of people don’t have the attitude to work productively together. There’s always another option if you fail a credit in high school; be it night school, summer school, grade 13, or online courses, and most of these other options are undoubtedly easier than the fist time trying to get the credit. Some people adopt a mindset of “well, I don’t really have to try hard here because I can always try it again easier later”. Being put into groups with these people can be extremely frustrating, especially since most of them also don’t want to work through group skills either, such as equal portions of work and setting up times to meet.

The good news is I’ve found that this is only a niche of people and being put in a group with them is a bad coincidence that doesn’t often happen. Most other times I’ve been in groups everyone’s wanted to finish on time. Yes, more times than not one person takes more work than the others, but I believe that to be a fact of group work in high school where in some cases the only common part of the day people have is the fact that they’re at school for the same number of hours. Some people have par time jobs, some people have much more difficult courses, and some people have time consuming extra curricular activities. I don’t look at one person doing more work as an unfair problem, I look at it as working for the mutual benefit of the group. If, in a group of three, two people have 4 hours of free time after school and one person has 8 hours of free time after school, it stands to reason that one person taking a sightly larger workload will actually benefit the group in the end, because the other two will not be stressing to finish, which can affect work quality. This is something that has to be talked about and decided upon within the group, but unequal work portions (especially when larger portions are given to someone who has a legitimate interest in the work) can benefit the group.

This all comes down to the communication within the group, which is the most important part of working with people. People within a group need to communicate; to decide who’s taking what portions of work, to decide who’s putting all the work together, to decide when to meet, how to communicate, etc. This is absolutely essential to ensure the common goal of the group is reached. I’ve been fortunate enough in high school to be working in groups where all of these things are taken into consideration and so far in university group work hasn’t lacked any of this at all. I’m looking forward to meeting and collaborating with new people.

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

I feel as though I’m very experienced in all areas of the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, which have been developed as I grew up with computers. “Remembering” is a skill drilled into my head by an endless number of rudimentary Google searches, word document creations, and endless hours of social networking. Everything else follows like clockwork, with “understanding” becoming second nature, and “applying” being the natural conclusion for anyone who actually wants to get work done on a computer. “Evaluating” and “creating” then became second nature to me as well. With all the other lower order thinking skills behind the higher order ones, it’s incredibly easy to evaluate pretty much everything I come into contact with and learn new skills in creation. I’d like to work on computer programming however, as it’s one of the only computer skills I only have basic knowledge in.

I have an issue with the step of “analyzing” though. Reading through what the step is I’m still having trouble understanding what it is or why it’s a fully formed step. “Analyzing” and “evaluation” are what I believe to be, especially online, to be two halves of the same thing. When I come into contact with information online I fist analyze it then evaluate what I’ve analyzed, they’re essentially both together. The way Bloom described the step is with a bunch of synonyms that didn’t really describe it. I could say that I may be lacking skills in this area since I don’t seem to know what it exactly is, or that I just don’t think it should be a fully formed step.

21st Century Skills

I, as I’m sure the vast majority of people in my generation can say, is that we have most of these digital literacy skills and have honed them long ago. We grew up alongside the development of the world wide web, almost simultaneously enough that it’s eerie. As our brains developed and our neurons forged new networks, the internet and technology grew from basic operating systems and Web 1.0 sites to advanced operating systems (in different form factors; desktops, laptops, phones, televisions) and the social web, Web 2.0. From growing up with Google and literally watching the birth of social networking websites, my ability to survey a large amount of information and pick out what’s relevant and what’s spam is second nature now. We as a generation were born into this developing technology and, as such, have trained our brains to easily work with it and hone our skills in digital literacy.

However, I believe we may have gained these skills at the expense of others. The way we focus our attention is much different than generations behind us. We’re wired to pay attention to many different spurts of information rather than one thing in front of us. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google have all paved way for our brains to experience information in a different manner. As such, when it’s time to focus on one thing, a lot of people  (including me) can have a hard time giving it our undivided attention. In an era where any piece of information is readily accessible, if we find ourselves watching or reading something that’s uninteresting, we don’t have to continue doing it, at least not fully. If I find a class boring, I can easily unlock my phone and engross myself in other types of information and media. The ability to focus on one thing, especially something that I don’t find particularly interesting, is something I’d really like to work on.