Lesson #1- Anything you put on the internet is there FOREVER.

Which I suppose means that this blog, whether I continue it or not, will have a home somewhere in Social Media Land.

Social Media Land is like Gilligan’s Island—your three-hour tour turned into a shipwreck on an uncharted desert isle, or maybe the place Powers described in Hamlet’s Blackberry—where everyone taps you on the shoulder while you search for the door that doesn’t seem to exist. And as I eat my last coconut, I ask myself the question…

Was it worth it?

Do I really like the idea of sharing my opinions and musings about the world, with the world? And does this change my opinions about the value of social media?

Yes and no.

We looked at the good and evils of social media, and talked about how it changed the world landscape. And like Powers I can see the distraction and “busyness”—how makes us more connected but at the same time disconnects us. If I counted the number of hours I spent IM chatting online with someone instead of actually going to see them in my fragmented time scheme—sigh! Social media almost makes it too easy, I suppose.

I don’t think there any harm in temporary escapism. And aside from my occasional rants about certain aspects—it’s definitely made my life easier in several respects, and I leave this class with a new found respect for what’s possible.

So, was it worth it?

If you’re asking if I see the world a little differently—then yes it was worth it. I’ve learned some people will only see social media at face value and never really tap into its potential beyond posting the occasional status message.

Status: everything’s a-ok

Others will use it to form new communities, spread a message, police the information, turn into journalists, activists, spectators, political commentators and the like. It’s a mad mad mad mad world and right now, I’m just drifting around in it.

Who knows…six months or a year from now, you may find me still sending smoke signals and tinkering with the radio to send an SOS, or maybe I’ll have been rescued from Social Media Land—on a life raft while I tweet about my ordeal.

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In the spirit of the season (bah humbug…lol), I thought I’d end on a fun note. Since this is a social media class I thought to myself–self, what kinds of gifts would be great for the social media guru.

So I’ve picked out (virtual) gifts for all of you.

Brendan— since you just became a Twitter convert (in my creepy cult voice--“join us”…just kidding!) You get the official “Fail Whale” mouse pad. SN: I assume most of you know what the Fail Whale is.

Erin, I believe I remember you saying you were also new to Twitter as of this class and so, I gift you, your own official twitter handle necklace.

Dan— easy pick…a Flip cam, to help with the video blogging.

For Jessie–the Philly fan gets a Philly App for iPhone–to keep up with all things Philly even while you’re enjoying DC.

Zaria, our fashionista gets the Twitter “Follow Me” Tattoo Tights.

For Laura, the Wine 2.0 Logo Charms. You can mix an match any six wine glass charms (featuring logo charms from Facebook, Blogger, the RSS logo, Pandora, Hulu, Twitter,  YouTube and others)

Tara–(don’t hate me…lol) After the discussion on games, I couldn’t resist–your virtual gift is Golden Eye for the Wii. Perhaps shooting some of the James Bond bad guys–minus being fragged repeatedly by your brothers will alleviate your fears.

For Daniela, The Complete Guide to Growing Tomatoes for Kindle (by the way, I love a good tomato soup)

Madina, the traveler and picture taker– a subscription/upgrade to Flickr Pro, so you can upload and share more of your adventures.

Ashley–your gift is the Garmin Forerunner–a watch with GPS, heart rate monitor and all sort of gadgets which not only track your training, but let you upload and download your training wirelessly–for the next time you run the marathon.

Cathy— couldn’t resist picking out a baby gift:

photo and link from etsy.com

To Kate who I think is not only prolific, but a brilliant blogger–this lovely shirt bearing a slogan which I find so fitting…“Those who can blog. Those who can’t, network socially”

For Erika… the Oscar de la Renta designed iPad Clutch, ’cause if you’re going to talk about social revolution, you might as well be stylish while you do it.

Tiffani–since many of us seemed to relate to the post you wrote about missing your alma mater…how about, custom computer and phone skin designs so you can take Hampton with you (the link here is for the Georgetown design).

Amanda– a gift of a Pug themed iPod/phone cover so you get you fix of dogs while listening to the country station on Pandora

David…I’ll go with the “Facebook Social Mug” from CrowdedInk–now (per the website) also available in “Twitter”…lls.

Mike– …the most awesome social media hat ever…

photo from cafepress.com

Last but not least…

Garrett–since you always joke about us not knowing certain old school programs/games and the like…(by the way I’m older than you…lls), I started to gift you my first computer… an Apple II complete with such awesome programs as Turtle and Oregon Trail

photo from apl2bits.net

notice the extra awesome manual knobs and floppy drives

But…instead, I opted to keep it simple…your virtual gift will be the Nook

Well, that should cover everyone. My apologies that my poor broke graduate school status don’t allow me to gift you these things in reality, but it’s the thought that count right?

I do want to say, thank you all for making this a rather interesting class.

Happy Holidays!

Weekly #11- Djibouti

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

(*so resisting the urge to write a funnier headeryou know you want me to…go on admit it. Or if it suits you, add your jokes to the comments section)

Here’s what I knew about Djibouti prior to Global Voices:

1. It’s a small African nation on the central eastern coast kind of smashed in between Somalia and Eritrea.

photo via howstuffworks.com

2. The “D” is silent

3. The capital is also… Djibouti

4. It’s name lends itself to becoming the, ahem, butt of about 1,001 jokes (ha! you LIKE how I slid that in there.)

Here’s an interesting blog I found about Djibouti.

In reading, what I find fascinating is that though you hear little to nothing about this nation, it finds itself in a relatively unique and potentially perilous situation–and this ties into the theme of tonight’s class discussion.

First, it’s a very tiny country (slightly smaller than Massachusetts). As I mentioned earlier, Djibouti is stuck between Eritrea and Somalia, which not only are suffering from their own internal government turmoils to say the least (general lawlessness, internal instability and piracy), but those two nations have at points over a period of decades been at war with each other, thus Djibouti has a huge population of Somali refugees.

Djibouti also effectively land locks Ethiopia. By that end (even though they are in a position to compete because Ethiopia is larger and more populus and has plenty of  farmland) Ethiopia has negotiated strategic port/trade space for military troops for protection to ward off Eritrea and Somalia.

If all that wasn’t enough–Djibouti sits just across from Yemen–which is increasingly making the news for  terrorism related incidents (including being the country of origin for October’s failed cargo plane bomb plot).

Having said all that, by all accounts Djibouti is fairly stable. It went through a period of civil war in the early 90s, but has pretty much been quiet since then. In fact, tying this to tonight’s discussion on Iraq, Djibouti has been the base of France’s military operations in Iraq. It is also the home of the United States only military base in Africa.

As it relates to social media and blogosphere, Djibouti has a relatively small presence because the government controls and monitors the major news outlets and media. Those I did find were mostly travel blogs or those written by ex-pats or are written in French (I can only partially translate).

Here is another blogger from Global Voices which mentions the spike in blog mentions after Djibouti recently sued France via the International Court of Justice for treaty violations.

I’ve been meaning to respond to this for a few days. I am a travel junkie! So when I saw Madina’s blog post with her travel photos ahhhhh suddenly I got the urge to hit the road… AGAIN.

Ok, a little background…I’ve been enthralled with the world and travel since I was little. Before I got into technical and academic writing, I wanted to be a travel writer or a foreign correspondence journalist (the latter was nixed when it occurred to me I really didn’t want to get shot or shot at).

Abroad–I lived in the UK for about 6 months and did a little travel in Europe. Domestically, I’ve seen all but 13 states– all except the odd ones like Wyoming or Vermont (sorry Garrett…lol). I’ve driven across the country three times.

sunrise in Arizona- Christmas Day 2009

Sometimes it’s to visit family and friends (the majority of my family has relocated to the West Coast).

Sometimes, it’s show related–I usually tour twice a year…

yo...adrienne! pre-show in Philly

Sometimes, I just want to get away. I have stories from everywhere– like the time I drove the ENTIRE state of Mississippi… by accident!! Or the time my cousins drove me out to the middle of the Nevada desert at night to watch the car races (imagine the Fast and the Furious).

There was the time our ferry got smashed by a giant wave on the way to Martha’s Vineyard and we had to spend the next few hours walking around the island soaking wet. The trip to Nebraska for real Omaha steak and the poetry slam I should’ve won. And then there was that infamous spontaneous trip to San Diego which lead to me getting lost in Mexico for several hours.

As you can probably guess travelling with me is always an adventure.

And thinking about travelling has renewed my thinking about my dream trip.

Where to, you ask?

Well I’ll tell you…combining my love of world travel with a twist of nerdiness, This is my dream trip:

National Geographic’s Around the World By Private Jet

24 days, 5 continents, 13 countries…and a hefty price tag of $65,000.

*Sigh.*

For right now, this falls into the realm of “one day,” but when I go–I’ll be sure to send you all postcards. I’m sure it’ll be some adventure.

What website am I most thankful for?

The Butterball Turkey website, because I can’t cook. I’m JOKING.

I would have to say I’m most thankful for general search engine sites like Google or Yahoo, just because over the years they’ve made finding things or locating information (in a lot of cases obscure information) easier. I also have email accounts with both of them so in that respect they’ve helped me stay in touch with folks and organize messages, writing and music files.

I think that fact that they both are fairly easy to navigate through and organize around is part of the stickiness–that, and I will also note that the ability to change background graphics on the Google homepage to make it more “personal” is rather a nice touch.

I think it also helps immensely that with technology changes even prior to the latest generation of “smart phones,” at least with Yahoo! anyway, you were able to bring it with you. Whether via email or IM chat windows in mobile browsers (if i remember correctly, Yahoo! IM was pretty much the default chat broswer for most phones prior to Google entering the market).

On top of that–in just general usage, I’ve watched videos, listened to music during my work day, played games, booked travel and gotten directions, found books–for usability you really can’t beat that.

So that said, I’m thankful for good search capabilities.

And now to go back to butterball to figure out what to do with all these leftovers…

Personal #2- Games for Word Nerds

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Iroically after our discussion about online games, I happened to come across a couple of free online games geared towards poets–or perhaps just the poetically inclined or people who just like to play with words.

The first is Haiku Hero. It’s a pretty neat little set up actually if you’re any good at haikus.

Another fun one is Magnetic Poetry. The company that makes the poetry refrigerator magnets has a place where you can play with the “magnets” online. You pick from any one of their word kits (I’m partial to the “Genius” kit), pick a background color and have your way with words.

Last but not least, one of my personal favorites–the game that every poet in the universe should play as their (w)rite of passage SCRABBLE.

and speaking of which…I am headed upstairs now to grab my game board.

Weekly # 9- The High Score

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

Quick…

Tell me the last two video games you’ve played.

Tetris Battle and…Galaga. (That was yesterday by the way)

Hey, don’t judge…lls. We play in between rehearsal time and I am vicious with the “fire” button.

I think I’ve said it before, but I’m kind of old school, but definitely tech savvy. I’ve played every gaming system from the Atari to NES to PS. I spent my youth eating dots on Pac Man, shooting at laughing ducks on Duck Hunt and some of my adult life rockin’ on Guitar Hero and making my way through Final Fantasy. Not a stranger to multi-player realms by any measure. I’ve even pulled a few crops in Farmville, though I’ve now shut my farm down (timing my life around when my cows needed to be milked just seemed a little excessive).

That said… I’m so not a video game junkie–just a girl with a wicked aim who happens to be pretty good at games (hey that rhymed…lol). And I think MMOGs are great IF and ONLY IF taken in moderation.

So for purposes for this post–I thought I’d check out Second Life. My alias: Genesis Nobilis (kind of sounds like a James Bond bad guy).

I’ve played games similar to this, but my overall opinion is that I like my “real life” far better than my “Second Life” minus the cooler name. It all just seemed a bit creepy to me. Actually it reminded me of this:

Plus I got hit on several times within the first 15 minutes of actually getting anywhere in Second Life–in Spanish no less. All and all it was an “interesting” experience. I may play with it a little more just to get a better feel for it, but meah!

I think I have a better perspective on online gaming–I think it has the potential to change the social landscape more than it already has–so parents think about this the next time you yell at your kids about spending too much time playing video games.

Addendum: If you’ve never played, here’s a link to the game Zuma –it’s pretty easy