Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cory Maye

Innocent or Guilty...

Whether or not Cory Maye, a Mississippi man on death row, is innocent or guilty, he still deserves a fair trial. Did he get one? probably not. When you shoot the son of the chief of police, you better be rich, white, and have an unbelievable attorney to even have the semblance of a fair trial. Maye is a poor black man with an attorney that has no formal training. The police behaved questionably in many aspects of this case. They entered Maye's side of a duplex without a warrent for Maye, but only with one for the resident of the other side of the duplex. It is also uncertain whether or not they declared themselves police officers before they entered.

What would you do if someone broke down your door in the middle of the night? If you lived in a bad neighborhood and you were scared someone was trying to hurt you or your infant? Would you shoot and ask questions later? Or would you wait to see if they killed you and your baby first. Cory Maye has no criminal record, no history of violence. The officer he killed was probably not following procedure and Maye is paying for it.

The reason that Maye's situation was brought to my attention was due to a letter sent out by a college professor, and fellow blogger. Other bloggers, including Radley Balko, are trying to bring this story to the attention of the mainstream media. The more attention Cory Maye's case receives on blogs will prevent his story from being forgotten.

Cory Maye not be a popular news story, but he deserves a fair chance. Keep his case in the blogosphere.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Case and Molly Revisited

True Love or Just a Ploy

In William Gibson's science fiction novel Neuromancer, the romance of the two main characters is often questionable. Was it real? or like everything else in the ultra simulated version of reality, was it created? Case and Molly are two highly conflicted and messed up characters. Do they deserve happiness?

In the science fiction genre, who doesn't love it when the geek finally gets the girl? And one who can really kick ass at that. Molly seems to represent everything that Case does not have, but wants despite his own failings. But their relationship does not seem to be anything more than two people who are at the same place at the same time.

Molly is not someone that can easily be described, but at the same time she is predictable. She will not stay with Case at the end of the novel. She is too messed up to want to be happy. But what about the future? Do Case and Molly have a future?

I want them too.

Jill Walker

Hey you...Yeah, I'm talking to you, Watch out-You're being played

Jill Walker's article "Do You Think You're Part Of This? Digital Texts And The Second Person Adress" discusses the role of identification many people have with digital media. While other forms of print media have a less direct connection to the person, a book may draw in the reader, but it remains tied to a physical relationship. You can open and close it, but you cannot change the story. Digital media has the ability to create a world where the "you" is difficult to separate from a text or a game. Not only are you the player, but also the creator, the writer, and the producer (Jill Walker pictured above left).

Walker questions, "why we play games? Do you enjoy submitting to the code?" People like to be drawn into games for many different reasons. For me it is a method of escape. I may not be able to kill dragons in real life, but I certainly can on a computer game. The graphics allow me to feel like I am part of this magical world. But why is it so possible to be drawn into a game or into another form of digital media? Many are repetitive, but the quest to dominate and win becomes all consuming.

Walker postulates that the reason that people are so pulled into the world of digital text is that they are specifically marketed at creating this bond between the user and the "game". The direct line of separation between user and what is being used is lessened by the use of a simple word, "you". This method of using the second person address catches the attention of the user and creates an illusion of a relationship.

Instead of you playing the game, the game is really playing you. Companies know the way to market their products is through the consumer. As Walker says, it is all about maintaining that sense of connectedness, the routine that everyone knows that they are part of that is hard to break. Walker sets out to make people uncomfortable in her essay. Instead of following the usual formula of an academic essay, she writes in a less formal manner. She directly addresses the reader and pulls into question the authority of her own writing. She is attempting to show how easy it is to manipulate the emotions and ideas of the reader.

In my opinion, Walker was successful in her attempts to illustrate how easily we are manipulated by different medias. Her own use of the word "you" and the constant address to the reader bothered my sense of self as a reader. We do not like to consider ourselves stupid, but this is really how the corporate world sees us. Obviously we must be told which bottle of shampoo is really the best and which conditioner works the hardest. How do we know anything when we are constantly bombarded by information? What do you think?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

World Traveler

Studying Abroad...

Ever since I started college, I wanted to study abroad. I do not know why, but I always thought that going away would be like starting over, a new challenge or an exciting adventure. I like Fairfield University, but I wanted to see more...to do more...to get away from the Connecticut bubble. Before last year, I had never left the east coast of the United States, I had never been away from my family by more than an hour drive in my entire life. I thought that if I left for a semester, I would be able to find out if I could stand alone.

I decided to study in Florence for the spring semester of my junior year. I left my snug and warm house to catch my flight in late January. This was the day after a long blizzard, turning what would have been a long and annoying flight with a connector in Germany, into an even longer and more complicated process with all the delays and cancelations. But I eventually made it and arrived at my apartment in Firenze, Italia.

For the next few months, I had many adventures. I would roam around the city, get lost, and try to find my way back to the Duomo, my mantra being "all roads lead to the Duomo". Well that being said, they do, but it does not help anyone if they are going in the wrong direction. I loved being in a city where I could walk almost anywhere. I liked the girls I was living with and how easy it was to travel around not only the surrounding areas in Italy, but also to visit other countries.

On my blog, I decided to make a map (pictured above, the countries in red are the one's i have visited) to showcase the countries I was able to visit while I was abroad. Looking back, I wish I had traveled more. But it was not really feasible. While I like to tavel, I also liked to stay in Florence and really experience what a foreign city is really like. Yes the bars, the restaurants, and all the sights were part of the experience. But so was the tempo, the way that people communicated and espcially the atmoshpere. It is so different than what I was used to. I found that I could fit in and stand apart from my family and safety net back home.

Post Revisions

Succeeding in the Blogosphere

As a new blogger, I have made a lot of mistakes. In order to make my blog bigger and better, I have been working on some revisions. I have been adding pictures and making my hotlinks easier to access. I am experimenting with bold and working a little more with italics. Kind of cheesy, I know, but hey hopefully it works.

Mirror Article

How to Make A Quick $100,000...Sue My University

Well at least that's what William Rom, a former Fairfield University student, did. After Fairfield expelled Rom after numerous incidents involving unruly behavior and alcohol abuse, he sued the University for over $100,000 for lost wages and tuition. And ladies and gentlemen, he won.

Fairfield University's online newspaper The Mirror reported on this event. Kelly Sheehan writes on how the jury found the University lacking in not granting Rom certain rights. But as a private institution, how much control should the courts have over Fairfield's protocol? Did the court get a glimpse of the real Rom, the one that Sheehan writes,

he ran naked through the quad during a big-screen viewing of "Meet the Parents" two days after September 11th. He dumped buckets of water from a window on students walking outside. He broke a mirror with a football. He drunkenly rode a dolly down the hallway of his residence hall after throwing up.

The court system seems to have made a big mistake with Rom's victory. Since when does the world award bad behavior with a monetary settlement. Oh right, do not forget the United States is the land of lawsuits (remember McDonald's having to shell out millions for the woman who spelled coffee all over herself). However, the university might have the last laugh after all. Fairfield still has the right to appeal, and perhaps the settlement will be overturned.

New Additions to Site

Will I Continue to Be the Only One Who Visits My site...well at least now I will know if anyone besides me or my professors visit my blog. I added a site meter, a free tool, to my blog today. It tracks the number of visitors to my page. Right now I only have the basic type of meter. However, a blogger can really utilize this tool. It can be set to not count the visits of the creator. It can also track the url of the visitor.

I also added a few other new things to my blog. On the side under my profile, I have adopted a digital pet, a penguin named Popsicle. This is a fun addition to my blog. I think that it will draw people's eyes to my blog. I found the site for adopting digital pets by visiting another blog. You can throw fish to the penguin by clicking on the more tab. You can also push Popsicle off the iceberg if you keep clicking on him.

I also decided to link my classmates' blogs on my site as well. I thought that it would be good to keep updated on what everyone else is doing. I also thought it might improve traffic between all of our blogs.

War Blogs

What Weapons Should We Give Our Soldiers, a Gun or an Internet Connection with a High Powered Laptop?

This war in Iraq, has changed the world's view on military activities. Information flows so quickly that people are more aware about what is going on half way across the world than they are about their own accounts and businesses. Much of this information does not come from traditional news media, but rather from the internet and more specifically war blogs, written by milbloggers, soldiers in the military (U.S soldiers in Iraq pictured top left; on right new apple power book).

Should soldiers be given laptops? The Blogs of War , an article written by John Hockenberry for Wired, an online magazine, explores the freedoms and limitations that soldiers now have regarding war blogs. Milblogging has exploded overseas, as soldiers find that web communication allows them to connect with family and friends instantly.

But how far can milblogging go? The government does limit blogging and make soldiers register their blogs with the network so they can be watched, but many soldiers are able to write whatever they want about the war, their feelings about the military life, their complaints and their critiques. These blogs push traditional boundaries. How long will the government allow them? So far the world of blogging is not completely shut down for the military. But it is uncertain how long that they will be permitted.

I think that soldiers should have the right to blog. While it obviously makes sense that they should not be allowed to publish sensitive materials, if soldiers are not given the right to blog, they will lose not only their connection to their families but also their ability to express themselves digitally. In this day and age, we depend on the internet. We are trained from an early age to be digitally adept. While we have lost the art of writing letters, we have certainly learned the arts of email and livejournal. People, soldiers especially, may feel cut off from their web community as well as their families and friends if their blogging rights are taken away.

Gudelunas' Lecture - Are Blogs the New Method of Existence?

Blogs Take Over the World!!!! Are blogs the new vehicle of communication, replacing traditional print medias, as tools for information sharing and knowldege? Dr. David Gudelunas (see picture above), a Professor of communications at Fairfield University, says that they are. As Americans become more computer savy and literate, more and more people are entering the blogosphere, not only as readers but as writers as well.

The entrance of more and more bloggers to the web adds to the power of this new medium. Bloggers now have a voice in the news. Stories that would slip pass by the mainstream media stay in focus if bloggers keep them alive. Gudelunas reports "20% of Americans blog in some form." While he agrees that these numbers might not be completely accurate, they are still striking. If all Americans explore the blogosphere, they are able to project their own opinions and voice to the world, creating as democratic of a media as possible.

Blogs may be still criticized by traditional forms of media, but they are the "new method of truth and existence" (Gudelunas). As the numbers of people who blog grows daily, the importance of blogging in everyday life increases. The interconnectedness of blogging improves the validity of information as well as its ability to reach as many people as possible.

One example of bloggers influencing the rest of the population is, Radley Balko, one of many bloggers who is currently working on bringing the case of Cory Maye into mainstream media attention. Maye is currently on death row for shooting a police officer who entered his home on a questionable warrent. There are many circumstances in this case that do not appear to have been seen to his advantage. If bloggers succeed in bringing this information into the public eye, Maye has a better chance of getting a fair trial.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My Blog after Stone

To write or not to write...
After reading Biz Stone's Who Let the Blogs Out, I have been thinking about the future of my blog. This blog started out as an assignment for class, but I am unsure if I will continue it after I graduate this semester. A blog is great to have as a student, or even after I finish school, it would work well if I wanted to keep updates for family and friends if I travel (a trip to Thailand after graduation has been proposed by my friend). But what purpose does a blog have in the real world? I do not kid myself to think of my life as a student as experience for the scary beyond.

Biz Stone explores how the world of blogs can be seducing. It is easy to get sucked into posting three or four times a day, especially when one is supposed to be on the clock at work. I know that now that I am on facebook it occasionally becomes addictive to check new pictures and to search for people that I have not seen for years. Stone gives many examples of how blogs can be a great way to parlay your interest and expertise in one area into something that can expand and grow with you, rather than letting it take over your existence.

But Stone's stories of people who blog about their work and the consequences of providing too much information is, to me, frightening. Right now, I am a student. My work is completely caught up with the rest of my life. But what is ok to blog about now, will not be appropriate if I get a 9-5 at some company or other. My life in the corporate arena would not be alright to blog about. Stone writes that the lines governing blogging behavior are starting to become more strict. The web has opened up new opportunities for expressing opinions, but the popularity of blogging has created new rules and regulations as well.

I think that my writing falls at a point where blogging is starting to lose some of its freedom and gain restrictions. Blogging is no longer as secretive or as unusual as it was a few years ago. I do not know if it will offer me enough to want to continue. Does the ability to express my ideas and feelings on the web overcome the disadvantages that result from blogging as a grown up in the real world?

Stone vs. Bernstein

Biz Stone's book Who Let the Blogs Out is geared to helping people understand blogs, including how to make them, giving tips for basic blogging etiquette, and explaining why blogs have exploded in popularity the last few years. It is interesting to compare this book with Mark Bernstein's article 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web (pictured at left is Biz Stone, at right is Mark Bernstein).

Stone is obviously able to explore his topic with greater detail, as he concentrates solely on blogs in his book. Bernstein, focuses on different types of writing on the web. While they give much of the same advice about writing for the web or blog world; they both advise writing frequently and with a purpose, they seem to have a completely different outlook for an audience.

Bernstein advises writers to make enemies and develop relationships that do not have to be friendly. Stone goes against this idea. He believes that while the web is an arena that while is open for much opportunity, it also pays to be careful. A person can publish on the web by starting a blog, but even if it is an annoymous entry, people still are held responsible for what they write and what other people write through their blogs.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gibson question

Case and Molly have an interesting relationship. They become involved because they are working together, rather than due to any particularly deep love or affection. While they both care for each other in some way, both Molly and Case are still hung up on their old loves, Johnny and Linda Lee.

I think Gibson and other science fiction authors imagine women like Molly, who are highly desirable but dangerous because it is usually part of the genre. The main male characters in science fiction are often average in looks. Case describes himself as nothing outside the ordinary. The image of the beautiful and dangerous woman falling for the average Joe is appealing. However, in the case of Neuromancer and other books in this genre, the relationship between Molly and Case is not permanent. It is part of the fantasy and imagination of the readers.