November 10, 2005

New Reading Assignment: Anda's Game

Read Cory Doctorow's "Anda's Game" on Salon. Doctorow contributes to the popular blog Boing Boing and is the author of several novels. This short story deals with the economic and cultural effects of online gaming. The story appears in the America's Best Short Stories 2005.

Posted by Alex Reid at 12:13 PM | TrackBack

October 17, 2005

General comments on web projects

Here are three general observations about your web projects. None of these things directly affected your grades as they are common errors when starting out with web design.

1. Designing vertically rather than horizontally: look at your website. Is there a fair amount of space in the upper left and right hand corners of the page? Does the main text area of your page begin with an image centered in a column surrounded by blank space? Does the viewer have to scroll even to read the first full paragraph of your website? If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, then this is a problem for you. Screen space at the top of your website is at a premium. You don't want to waste it. While "negative space" (the art/design term for blank areas) is important for visual organization, you need to use it prudently.

2. Images and text that are too large. Generally speaking, 12 point text is large enough for any header. Usually 10 point text will work for most text areas. As a general rule, images don't need to be much larger than 200 pixels in any direction.

3. Inconsistent navigation. A less common problem, but still many of your sites lacked a consistent navigation bar carried from page to page. A Nav Bar helps your readers get around on your website and helps convey as sense of unity between your pages.

You'll be receiving specific individual comments from me in class.

Posted by Alex Reid at 9:35 AM | TrackBack

October 10, 2005

This Week's Reading Assignment

Having had some interesting conversations regarding "The Long Tail." Here's another Wired article that has recently been expanded into a book.

Daniel Pink's "Revenge of the Right-Brain."

Pink's article addresses the changing demands of the American workplace as we move (or so he argues) from the Information Age into the Conceptual Age. This new age will require more creative, big picture (i.e. "right brain") thinking. The slogan associated with this analysis is "The MFA is the new MBA," meaning Creative Writing style graduate programs (like a Master of Fine Arts) will be the model for the type of education necessary to be successful in business in the future.

What do you think? Good news or bad news?

Posted by Alex Reid at 12:31 PM | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

Neovox Article

This is the first draft of my neovox article. It's on Martial arts and its perception in the sports world. I feel like it is weak or errant and wwould appreciate even the most brutal and crippling honesty to help me out.

Martial Arts and the World of Sports

I feel as though I should be writing an article in the sports section here. Partly because I am attending a greatly sports-oriented college, but mostly because it’s the section where I feel most qualified. Ironically enough, I don’t do any sports. However, I do take martial arts and I believe that they belong here.

The only time that people would disagree with the idea of martial arts being a sport is when they are thinking of a specific martial art which they believe is different from the generality. In light of this, I feel that an explanation is required for these people. The explanation is that there are, in actuality, several different divisions of the martial arts. Martial arts as a whole are generally separated into traditional martial arts and sport martial arts. There are other classifications, which will be discussed later.

Traditional martial arts, as the name implies, are the classical and ancient arts passed down through the ages. They are often unarmed, but also include melee weapons in later training. Some examples of traditional martial arts include: jujutsu (sometimes seen as jujitsu), tai chi quan (also taiji chuan), pankration, aikido, and karate. Keep in mind that this is a microscopic list and that the amount of traditional martial arts is immeasurable. These are just some popular arts to show the example.

Sport martial arts usually started as traditional martial arts, but the competitions using them became so popular that they became the main focus of the art. Some of these sports martial arts were created strictly as sports. Sport martial arts generally have a true combative effectiveness, but it is usually more of a byproduct of learning to be good at the competition. Some sport martial arts include: boxing, fencing, judo, sumo, and tae kwon do.

Now, some people may be thinking that arts such as karate and other traditional martial arts should be considered sport martial arts because they are seen in competitions. Well, it’s an understandable thought, but not quite right. There are several organizations that hold tournaments and other competitions for traditional martial arts, but these are supplementary to the training of those martial arts, not the primary purpose.

Generally in a discussion of martial arts, a smart-aleck likes to bring up “gun jitsu” or “bomb fu.” While they are stale jokes, they are perfectly legitimate martial arts to think about. Since a martial art is literally an art of war, it is foolish to ignore our modern methods. Modern, or contemporary, martial arts are the ones used in the present day, generally by the national military. Now, these arts being used for war are generally not considered a sport, mainly because they are not being done leisurely like other sports, but the average citizen who trains in contemporary martial arts the same way one trains in traditional martial arts gives the quality of a sport to them.

The other person to come into a conversation is usually one of the ever-growing number of professional fighting fans. Those who have seen shows like Ultimate Fighting Championship or Pride Fighting Championship are generally noted to say things like, “I’ve seen the UFC, what kind of martial art is that?” The short answer is that it isn’t. The long answer is that it is a competition whose rules are under those of mixed martial arts. These fighters have studied several martial arts and compete under a rule set created by the organization. The term “mixed martial arts” is not actually a martial art of any kind, but more of a broad description of the rules that are allowed in the competition. Since mixed martial arts are only competitions, a mixed martial artist would thus be a sport fighter like a boxer.

For a sense of validation, I’ve asked several of my friends what they think a sport is and if they consider martial arts as part of them. The results were three groups of varying rigidity. The narrowest group acknowledged only adversarial games. One person or team plays against another person or team and the winner is the one who beats the other. This includes baseball, football, and basketball. The middle group expanded to include point competitions where a single person goes for the best score or stat such as pole vaulting, javelin throwing, and running. The broadest group added on competitions of style such as gymnastics and ice skating. The interesting thing is that the majority of people asked didn’t consider martial arts as a whole a sport. Several people cited sport martial arts, but did not consider the traditional martial arts as a sport

Most people see martial arts as just a system of fighting or learning flashy moves, but not a sport. Out of curiosity, I checked dictionary.reference.com and searched for the definition of “sport.” The first three definitions were:

1. “Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.”
2. “An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.”
3. “An active pastime; recreation.”

With these definitions, I believe that all martial arts can be considered a sport in the literal sense. All arts are governed by a set of rules or customs; there are techniques that are in the art and techniques that are not and sparring has predetermined rules for safety of fighters. For definition number two, one can obviously see martial arts being physically exerting and realize that fighting is always competitive. The third definition is the broadest one and certainly applies to any martial art as well.

In the end, it seems to come down to a matter of opinion. People tend to live by their own definition of a word more than the one fund in the dictionary. Some martial arts will always be seen as sports, which is a good start. I hope that the whole world will see all martial arts as a sport and a practical activity with beneficial skills that are learned. When the ideas of superhero warriors, flashy gimmicks, and bad movies from the 1970’s are eliminated from the minds of the populace, true martial arts can be seen and appreciated in every form and not just televised tournaments.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=sport

Posted by Kevin Bahler at 6:25 PM | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

Personal Web Site Assignment

• Description

As we have discussed in class, the personal website may have any content you wish. That is, you can make it about yourself, your friends, and family or you can devote the site to a hobby or favorite band/movie/author or perhaps to some social or political interest. The content is entirely up to you.

What I am interested in seeing is your ability to make use of Dreamweaver and some of the principles of layout/design we have discussed and will be discussing in the next few weeks.

• Requirements

Your website must include a minimum of three pages. It should include text, images, and links, and should use tables to create a visually appealing layout. In addition, your site should include a menu bar that allows for navigation between the three pages.

• Evaluation

You will be evaluated on the following criteria:

o Working links and images
o Use of tables in design
o Readable color combinations
o Aesthetically pleasing design
o Rhetorically effective organization

Posted by Alex Reid at 10:11 AM | TrackBack

September 7, 2005

NeoVox Assignment

A printable version of the NeoVox Assignment can be found on the Course Documents page.

Posted by Alex Reid at 10:21 AM | TrackBack

NeoVox Assignment

Your first writing assignment for NeoVox is due in two weeks. To begin the assignment you should go and check out the website. You will see that there are several content-specific sections.

1. Stadium: sports and sports culture.
2. Wire: current events.
3. Dorm: college life and culture
4. Libido: sex and relationships
5. Revue: reviews of books, music, film, tv, video games, etc.
6. Studio: creative writing
7. Vox: a special monthly theme section

The themes for this semester are:

September: The war on/in/from/about terror
October: Mother Nature as Medea
November: Conspicuous Consumption
December: What’s mind is mine

The war on/in/from/about terror: four years on from September 11, 2001. A marking of 9/11 and its impact on U.S. and international politics. Terrorism in daily life. How has the Bali bombing affected Australia. The costs of the war on domestic and international life.

Mother Nature as Medea: The Tsunami, earthquakes, hurricanes, blizzards, floods. What is the impact of natural disasters on people and the environment? Where does the aid money go? Do rich countries do enough? Did the tsunami really bring people together? Did the west only care because rich westerners were involved? Does anyone remember other major natural disasters in recent history?

(NOTE: we came up with this theme several months ago, far before Katrina. Obviously there are a whole new set of questions to ask now)

Conspicuous Consumption: In the month leading up to the annual buying orgy, another opportunity to reflect on materialism, consumerism, and the quest for “more” and “better.”

What’s mind is mine: The future of intellectual property. Copyleft, copyright, Creative Commons, file sharing, plagiarism. Is plagiarism an international problem? It’s endemic in American universities and
public life. Who owns an idea? What is an idea worth? What is parody?

(NOTE: December's theme is very closely related to topics we will discuss in class--something to keep in mind.)

Posted by Alex Reid at 9:16 AM | TrackBack

August 10, 2005

course schedule

The schedule lists assignments for the lab days. I expect that you will have reviewed the material prior to coming to class. You can’t just read the material for the lab; you will need to work through the lessons on a computer. The library Mac lab has extensive open hours and all the software you will require. In addition, you can work on Tuesdays and Thursdays during classtime in our classroom. The schedule also lists weekly readings for the online portion of the course. Please read the material and be prepared to discuss it during the week. This list may be amended during the semester. In addition, you are expected to keep up with the news listed in the news aggregator on the course website.

8:31 Introduction to Dreamweaver

9:7 Read McFarland: Introduction, Chapters 1-3
WEEKLY READINGS: Lessig, Introduction and chapters 1-5

9:14 Read McFarland: Chapters 4-5
WEEKLY READINGS: Lessig, Chapters 6-10

9:21 Read McFarland: Chapters 6, 8, & 9; NeoVox article #1 due
WEEKLY READINGS: Lessig, finish book

9:28 Read McFarland: Chapters 14-16 & 18
WEEKLY READINGS: Mark Dery (on reserve)

10:5 Read Meyer: Introduction and Project One; Personal Homepage due
WEEKLY READINGS: Katherine Hayles (on reserve)

10:12 Read Meyer: Projects Two and Three; Revised NeoVox article #1 due
WEEKLY READINGS: Lev Manovich (on reserve)

10:18 Mid-semester Break Class Cancelled
10:19 Read Meyer: Project Four
WEEKLY READINGS: Michael Heim (on reserve)

10:26 Read Meyer: Projects Five and Six; NeoVox article #2 due
WEEKLY READINGS: Howard Rheingold (on reserve)

11:2 Read Meyer: Project Seven
WEEKLY READINGS: Paul Miller (on reserve)

11:9 Read Meyer: Project Eight
WEEKLY READINGS: Michel de Certeau (on reserve)


11:16 Read Meyer: Project Nine; Revised NeoVox article #2 due

11:23 Thanksgiving Class Cancelled

11:30 Read Meyer: Project 10

12:7 Final Lab Day

12:13 Last Day of Class; Professional Portfolio Due

Posted by Alex Reid at 4:35 PM

Course Syllabus

SUNY-CORTLAND ENGLISH DEPARTMENT PWR 209: Writing in Cyberspace I

Course Information

Credit Hours: 4
Semester/Year: Fall 2005
Meeting Time: TR 1:15-2:30
Lab: W 10:20-12:20
Room: OM G-17

Professor Information

Prof. Alex Reid
Office: Old Main 115A
Phone: 753-2069
Office Hours: TR 12:00-1:00
E mail: reida at cortland.edu
Website: web.cortland.edu/reida/cyberspace

Required Texts

David McFarland : Dreamweaver MX 2004: The Missing Manual O'Reilly
Eric Meyer : More Eric Meyer on CSS New Riders Press

Available free online: Lawrence Lessig : Free Culture http://www.free-culture.cc
Other readings may be made available online and on reserve.

Course Catalog Description
Introduction to the relationship between traditional conceptions of writing and contemporary theories of new media. Three lecture hours and a two hour lab. Prerequisite: CPN 101 or 103. (4 cr. hrs.)

Writing Intensive Course
As a writing intensive course, you will be required to write a minimum of 15 pages (or equivalent) of graded work. There will be opportunities for you to revise this work.

Additional Course Description
Writing has always been both a threat and a foundation of civilization. Writing allows us to organize complex, abstrat thoughts and share them with others across time and space. At the same time, writing predates history , science, and philosophy--obviously, since it was necessary to invent writing before inventing these forms of knowledge. As philosophers have observed, this fact places writing outside of the bounds of civilization. Technological developments such as better paper and binding, printing techniques, and later the typewriter have all expanded the effects of writing on society.
Today, of course, we deal not only with writing, but with a range of recorded media: sound, image, video. We not only exchange massive volumes of printed work but communicate via electronic, often wireless, networks.

This class examines the technology and practice of writing. This examination includes learning the basics of contemporary web design (html, css), as well as the latest web applications (blogging, rss, podcasting). Understanding these technical matters is important to understanding new media rhetoric, just as our implicit, often unexamined, understanding of the limits and functionality of print informs our practice of print rhetoric (writing linear prose). The course will also include an introduction into the topics surrounding rhetoric and composition: how do communities form online (in the blogosphere for example) across cultural differences? how do we balance the demands of commerce and security with the possibilities of creativity and privacy?

Course Goals
• To learn basic web design, including:
o An introduction to Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 (web design software)
o An introduction to Adobe Photoshop CS (image editing software)
o An introduction to XHTML (eXtensible Hypertext Mark-up Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
o An understanding of networks, file transfer, and file management
• To learn to write for the web, including:
o Writing for web audiences
o Writing in a non-linear, user-directed environment
o Writing on blogs
o Conducting web-based research
• To investigate cultural issues surrounding web-based technologies, including:
o Copyright and fair use
o Ubiquitous computing and privacy
o Internet as a global, democratic commons versus the internet as a private, commercial enterprise
o Implications of the internet for the production and distribution of cultural knowledge

Organization of Course

This course will be organized as a hybrid of an online and a traditional course. On Wednesdays, we will meet and have our lab time. During our labs, you will learn various elements of the technical side of web design. Doing this together in a common physical location is advantageous as you will all be doing similar work and will benefit from my being present to see what you are doing.

Our Tuesday and Thursday regular meeting times will function as extended office hours. That means that your attendance is not required. However, I will be available during this time to work with you on your projects. I will also use this time to schedule individual meetings to discuss your writing assignments.

In lieu of meeting during our class times, you will participate actively on our course blog. You will be expected to post three times each week on the various topics we are discussing. If you wish, you can come to class during the regularly scheduled time and use it to read other people’s messages and respond in kind. Or write at some other time that is convenient for you.

NeoVox.Cortland.edu

NeoVox is a web-based magazine produced by students at Cortland in collaboration with students at several universities around the world. The magazine addresses current events, college culture, and a monthly theme, as well as publishing fiction, poetry, and visual art. NeoVox provides an excellent opportunity for Cortland students to learn about new media, to develop a professional portfolio of published writing, to work with other students around the world, and to visit our international partners through our Study Abroad programs.

Through this course, you will be participating in NeoVox. You will be introduced to the magazine’s publishing practices, research and write articles, work with editors and designers, and finally see your work published. Of course, you will also be reading the magazine.

Grading

Online discussion 30%
Personal Homepage 10%
Personal Blog 10%
Professional Portfolio 20%
NeoVox Articles 30% (15% each)

Online Discussion

As noted above, the online discussion is a substitute for regular class meetings. On our course website, I have noted several blogs that I would like you to read regularly. I will also assign various readings over the course of the semester. I expect you to respond to these and to one another in your blog posts. We will meet during the semester so that you can receive feedback from me on your performance on this portion of the course.

Personal Homepage

This will be our first web design assignment. As a personal homepage, you will be free to determine the content of your page. You will be evaluated on your use of web design principles and practices.

Personal Blog

You will establish a free blog at blogger.com and you will post to it three times a week. As a personal blog you are free to write about anything you wish. The posts do not need to be long. However, if all your posts are only two or three sentences, I will wonder if you are keeping to the spirit of the assignment. The purpose of this assignment is for you to gain some experience with the basic challenges of writing for the web. Essentially, if you meet the expectation of writing on a regular basis, you will receive full credit.

Professional Portfolio

This will be your second web design assignment. The purpose of the portfolio assignment is for you to create a professional identity and presence online. You will be evaluated in your ability to this, as well as your use of web design principles and practices.

NeoVox Articles

You will write two articles for NeoVox. Each of these articles will 1200-1500 words in length. The purpose of this assignment is for you to gain experience writing for the web and for a web-based audience. You will work with NeoVox editors and designers in the publication of your article.
Policies
1. Late paper policy:
a. You must inform me prior to the due date of a given assignment (e.g. during the class before, in my office hours, leaving a message on my phone or email) that your assignment will be late. At that time, you will give me a revised due date, which will be FINAL. I will not accept your assignment after this revised due date and you will receive a zero on that portion of your grade. Generally I will give you an extra week without question.
b. Assignments handed in late without prior warning will be reduced in grade according to the following formula. Assignments handed in within one week of the original due date will be reduced one full letters. Assignments handed in within two weeks of the original due date will be reduced two letters. Late assignments will not be accepted more than two weeks past the due date and will receive zeros.

2. Attendance Policy

The college attendance policy in the College Handbook states “Penalties for excessive absences … shall not exceed one-third of a letter grade per class hour of absence” (53). You may miss one meeting without penalty.

3. Academic Dishonesty

Plagiarism, the act of claiming another’s writing as your own, is a serious form of academic dishonesty. Students found guilty of plagiarism may expect to face the consequences described in the College Handbook.

4. Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability and wish to request accommodations, please contact the Office of Student Disability Services located in B-40 Van Hoesen Hall or call (607) 753-2066 for an appointment. Information regarding your disability will be treated in a confidential manner. Because many accommodations require early planning, requests for accommodations should be made as early as possible.

Posted by Alex Reid at 4:32 PM