Reflective Essay

My strengths as a student is that I am good at researching sources, and relating it to my personal experiences.  I also like writing, and I think that creating the portfolio helped me practice my research skills and writing for research purposes.  I think the best part of the writing process was getting input from everyone, and figuring out the rubric for grading.  I feel that talking to other people is an important part of the process, and helped me narrow down my idea and also pinpoint my argument.  I can get confused at times when I’m trying to figure out my argument and I want my thoughts to come across clearly.

The work in my portfolio demonstrates that I am good at finding information and relating it to other sources.  Since I have lived during a lot of the changes in digital culture, I have seen many of the changes that the authors have written about.  My topic papers are about blogging, something I have done for a long period of time, and have dealt with some of the ramifications of sharing my information through social networking. The way I typically work is to research a lot over my topic, read through as much material as possible, and relate the sources to my own experiences.

The DTC 375 class was primarily focused on digital culture and how trends in orality, literacy, social interactions, and social networking tools.  During the semester, I learned about where I fit within the generations and how my interactions influence digital culture, as well as how digital culture influence me.My expert group for the semester discussed the influence of digital photography on digital culture and in real life.  Lastly, I decided to write about blogging because it has become an ubiquitous part of cyberspace, even reaching corporate culture.  One issue that has come up due to the number of blogs and their power to influence people is whether bloggers should have some sort of ethics or rules to follow in order for people to understand if there are any underlying elements (such as corporate sponsorship) that could influence a blogger’s post.   Overall, I believe that I understand my motivations better, and also feel that I can relate better to different generations based on what I read in Tapscott’s and Shirky’s book.

The Orality and Literacy book by Walter J. Ong discussed the differences between oral and literate cultures, and is closely tied to our other book, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, a story about an oral culture.  I realized that I benefit from listening as well as hearing, which may be a remnant from my ancestors, who most likely was an oral culture at some point.  Since some skills are based on speaking and listening, such as memorization, auditory learning and having musical talent, it seems that oral traditions are not completely gone from our literary culture.  I would say that orality is becoming more prevalent with mp3 players that can store and play all types of information such as music playlists, podcasts and news broadcasts.  Even cell phones, as ubiquitous as they are, have features that are similar to old new messengers, the voice mail.  The Achebe book is almost a forecast of what will come to our generation with regards to technology, it is a pattern that repeats itself in different cultures and generations, where people will be split into traditionalists and early technology adopters.

Dennis Baron talked about the controversy related to the use of writing tools and how it has changed the way writing is viewed, both off and online.  I felt a lot of nostalgia remembering the days of the old electric typewriter, my first real computer and my first computer that I bought myself.  It reminded me that every time I upgrade my writing tools, I seem to improve my writing, and my technology skills because I was able to overcome my issue with writing with a regular #2 pencil.  I liked that Baron did experiments with his students, especially the one with the clay tablet.  It was strange to think of someone having to work so hard in orerto fulfill the request, but I’m grateful that I have the ease (and the speed) of being able to write out m thoughts in real space, as opposed to the few that read my blog or even the one sthat have to read my atrocious handwriting.

Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” was one of my favorite books in the class, because it outlined real examples of how digital culture was influencing real life events, and vice versa.  I am always interested in seeing how people apply digital tools to influence society, and I almost wish I could create an amazing application or web application that would be used by a lot of people, basically make something useful.  As a blogger, I am also interested in the perspective of sharing of information, both in group environments like virtual communities and also in single environments such as blogging, which can also turn into a community if people start to gather there.

My other favorite book is “Grown Up Digital” because it is an exuberant runthrough of all the differences between the generations of net users.  The baby boomer generation, the GenX, the Net Gen deal with social networks and tools in different ways, and the book taught me how to deal with the older and younger generations, especially how they learn.  This was also informative because it helped me peg myself as a mixed type, a GenX personality with Net Gen characteristics.  Since I want to start a business soon as a freelancer, I realize that a lot of the lists apply to me as a business owner, a employee to clients and how to control my privacy issues (or lack of).

My two issue papers deal with blogging, which is something I’ve done for over 6 years, maybe even longer, I’ve lost count.  Ethics is something that bloggers haven’t had to deal with since it’s a new tool but since blogs are so popular and continue to grow into mainstream media, they are starting to come under fire.  Corporations are also latching onto the link between bloggers and their readers in order to create new marketing opportunities, as well as providing products/services to bloggers for review.  This has caused some conflict because bloggers are not obligated to disclose whether they receive products for free or whether they bought them, which could be a conflict of interest.  As a blogger and a blog reader, I’ve seen people add new disclosure messages and it made me wonder how many bloggers are getting free stuff for reviewing products.  I don’t review anything, so naturally I don’t get any inquiries, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to deal with the ethical issues of reviewing a free product that you don’t like.

Lastly, my expert group in Digital Photography reinforced the ideas that I had about digital photography and also made me rethink how I want to sell my photography services as part of my web design/development.  Social networking plus digital cameras has created issues with people and the workplace, as well as created a need for ways to share their photos.  People are also using digital photography to find new markets, such as dentistry, research and development, surveillance, and crowd-sourcing for both amateur and professional photographers.

Overall, I think that I’ve become more aware of what is going around me, and how I can apply social networking to help me become a better web developer.  I think my favorite class was when we listened to the broadcast of the 10 best ways to create a good app, it gave me a lot of things to think about, and hopefuly someday my name will be on a really amazing app that educates, enables and helps communication between multiple types of people.