Hey, all —

I wanted to let you know that, coming up on Friday, May 6th, is another “Alone in a Crowd” event (the one I invited everyone to attend in February, but you all copped out on me!).

As a refresher, the event is a live-art-concert-kind-of-thing associated with Lebanon’s First Friday Artwalk. There is live music, live poetry reading, live painting, and (this time) live dance, as well. It’s at the usual location this time: OnStage Theatre in Lebanon (NOT at MJ’s Coffee House in Annville, like last time), located at 515 Cumberland Street, Lebanon, PA 17042. It’s completely free. It starts at 7pm and goes for a couple hours–you can feel free to come and go as you wish. Also, they usually have some snacks-and-coffee-type-of-things during intermission, which are also free.

Alone in a Crowd Poster [May 6]

That link is supposed to be an image. It’s the poster for the event. I’m not sure why it will only upload as a link–I blame Justin for some faulty formatting…

Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, all of the necessary-relevant information is bolded above. It would be awesome if you guys could come.

I will not be reading poetry this time, but I will be playing music with some friends. So if that tickles your fancy, then I guess you should just show up!

See ya in class.

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[Coldewey, Devin. “The Dangers of Externalizing Knowledge.” 14 December 2010. TechCrunch. 21 December 2010. http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/14/the-dangers-of-externalizing-knowledge/]

This is the least “academic” article I have used, but (in my opinion) the most interesting. A friend of mine actually e-mailed this blog-article to me last December, and then when I heard in this class that we had to research topically digital/technological articles, I thought, “Oh, that one my friend sent me would be perfect!” But so far the blog article topics we’ve covered haven’t been relevant to the article, plus, like I said, it’s a blog, and thus not academic. But I’ve gone through enough statistical-analytical research in the process of writing these blogs that I think I deserve a little freedom to loosen my “professionalistic” restraints.

Coldewey, in his blog, reflects on what he calls the “externalization” (p. 4) of knowledge or information, by which he is referring to the fact that we have instant access to technology’s inexhaustible references, but do not necessarily “internalize”  (p. 10) the information that we Google and so on. He writes:

General knowledge seems to be following the path of locational knowledge, and the consequences are similar, but more dire. While consulting the GPS means you don’t build an internal map of your neighborhood, consulting the external knowledge engine of the internet means you don’t build a map of your entire of your entire intellectual world. (p. 9, emphasis his)

He admits, to use his word, that this fear seems “alarmist” (p. 10), but he also recognizes that “we are each of us… to a great extent a collection of data and experiences” (p. 11). But Coldewey believes that the sheer “volume” of data and experience “overwhelms our capacity to internalize” (p. 12). For the purpose of example, he proposes an experiment:

…if you have a blog, a Posterous or Tumblr or what have you, try to remember as many items you’ve posted as you can, right now, without checking. Write them down or something. I have a… blog myself, and I’ve posted hundreds of quotes, images, and such to it–but I have trouble picturing more than a few dozen. (p. 12)

As per a personal example: I myself have fallen victim to this same trap numerous times. The only phone numbers I have memorized are the ones I’ve known since I was a kid, and there are only a few. I find myself less and less able to remember (relating to the Google-syndrome) what actors played in what roles (I think) because of my reliance on IMDb.com–I used to be really good, too! And I have so much music on my iPod that I have found that I am almost unable to keep track of it all. Yesterday I listened to Bloc Party’s first album, “Silent Alarm” (I almost had to look that up–phew!) on the way home from class; I looked at my iPod to see the name of the song that was playing, and then, by the time the next song had started, I had already forgotten the name of the previous song.

“It’s become easier to acquire expertise,” Coldewey writes, “at the cost of insight” (p. 16). This insight, Coldewey defines as “the result of recombination, hybridizing ideas, internal accidents, emergent properties of ideas we never even knew were related” (p. 16). Admittedly, many would validly argue that this freedom from rote memorization of needless trivia allows us the mental space to develop more advanced ideas (p. 15). However, although this argument is valid, I personally feel that although the intellectual opportunities may increase (a big may, in my opinion), there is a depth to life and intellectuality that is ignored when we have to ground ourselves in the present–much like the “internal map” of our neighborhoods and “intellectual worlds,” which Coldewey describes in his introduction (p. 4).

Perhaps I’m as he claims to be, “old-fashioned” (p. 1), but, as similar to a computer as our brains are supposed to be, I find that our capacity to be human is far greater when we invest ourselves in the world around us and the thoughts within us.

[Kennedy, Ryan. “Digital Plagiarism: The Role of Society and Technology.” 9 January 2006. Orange Journal. 24 March 2011. http://orange.eserver.org/issues/5-1/kennedy.html]

I chose a bit of a different route this time regarding our blog-articles, and I thus have an article (finally) that is not merely a statistical analysis. I know, I know–please, hold your applause until the end the post.

In any case Ryan Kennedy’s article deals with the issue of academic plagiarism, although his article is unfortunately five years out-of-date. It isn’t totally uncontemporary, of course, but when handling digital media and technology, five years can make a big difference. I don’t think it has that great an effect in Kennedy’s case as yet, but I suppose I just wanted to point it out anyway. Plus, I don’t find it to be all that strong of an article, and only slightly informative.

The one crucial statistic (I can’t escape them!) in Kennedy’s article that I found startling is that the NEC Research Institute estimated “that there are more than 1.4 billion pages on the Internet with 25 new pages being added every second” (Kennedy 1, paraphrasing Dyrli 1, emphasis added). If one were to take this estimation and use the mathematics strictly (assuming that the amount of new-pages-per-second is a constant), that would mean, with 31,556,926 seconds in a year, times 25 new pages per second, times six years (Dyrli’s article was published in 2005), that today there are approximately 4,733,538,900 webpages in existence.

All that being said, Kennedy states that there has been a “noticeable increase in plagiarism and academic dishonesty in the realm of education” with this infinite increase of Internet technology, availability, and so on. Although Kennedy does not blame plagiarism on the Internet, but rather walks through the historical and societal implications of plagiarism which predate the Internet.

Although obviously not in support of plagiarism, Kennedy’s brief article consists primarily of justifications (or at least understandable reasons) why students today do not see why plagiarism as all that bad a thing.

Kennedy gets his definition of plagiarism from OnlineEthics.org, which defines it as “appropriate the writings, graphic representation, or ideas of another person to represent them as one’s own work without proper attribution” (2), but Kennedy is also quick to point out that “as opposed to copyright infringement,” plagiarism isn’t actually illegal–in part because it is “the stealing of ideas for non-profit use” (2). He argues further that plagiarism (of a sort) is accepted in the “nature of the culture” in which we live (2). He cites Disney as an example, taking preexisting ideas from “Brothers Grimm and Buster Keaton… as inspiration for their own animated films” (2). Kennedy does, however, note that while using “others’ ideas as a springboard for [one’s] own” is one thing, making a “carbon copy” of someone else’s work is not justifiable (2).

Another main “justification” for the lack of conviction about plagiarism is the “isolationism between reader and writer,” which has existed for as long as writing has existed (3). Kennedy tells the story of the “first recorded instances of plagiarism” in 561 AD from one Irish monk to another (3). “Prior to the development of writing,” Kennedy argues, “Colmcille’s plagiarism [of Finnian’s work] would not have been possible” (3). Continuing this theme into the present day, Kennedy argues that, unlike the tangible existence of a book or essay, “Internet pages… are found in the wide expanses of cyberspace among millions of other pages just like it. Because of their non-physical nature, these online writing can deny the reader the phsyical bond they share with a book” (4). In addition to this, Kennedy writes:

This gives the impression that the writing was mechanically produced without any human input. It is this perceived artificialness of writing on a web page that makes it easier for students to plagiarize, as it is an even more anonymous source than a book. (4)

Addressing the issue of digital plagiarism, Kennedy describes both the tactics of those who would aid in make plagiarism accessible and those educators who are trying to fight against it. He describes the many “Internet paper mills” which exist, offering “already written papers that cover thousands of subjects” (4, paraphrasing Dyrli 1). Apparently “seventeen states” have tried to combat this by making it illegal, which has forced online paper mills to “carry disclaimers that their papers are for research only” (4-5).

To fight fire with fire, educators have developed digital and technological methods of combating plagiarism, such as computer programs which “match strings of text from students’ papers to similar text in potential source works” and websites like Turnitin.com, which “compile[s] [its] own databases of source material and use[s] more specific search criteria” (5, paraphrasing Decoo 44).

Dr. John M. Barrie, founder of Turninit.com, claims that of all submitted materials, “nearly one-third is copied in whole or in part from another source” (6, quoting Hafner 3). However, despite this success, Kennedy notes that “many papers turned into [online] services… go unnoticed by the system and facilitates the belief in the student who plagiarized that they can do it again.

Somewhat abruptly, Kennedy concludes his article by proposing that “perhaps a better approach to hindering plagiarism could be had by stopping it before it starts” (6). He does not, however, develop this thought whatsoever, which I find odd.

Copes, Heith and John Kane, Kent. R. Kerley, Rodney Huff. “Differentiating Identity Theft: An Exploratory Study of Victims Using a National Victimization Study.” Journal of Criminal Justice (2010): 1045-1052.

Once again I managed to select an article that seemed somewhat interesting, but turned out primarily to be statistical analysis, leaving me, once again, with the job of seeking out further implications.

The article, “Differentiating Identity Theft,” by Copes, Kane, Kerley, and Huff, tackles (in a way) the ambiguity inherent in the crime of identity theft. This indefinitiveness is not merely an existential quandary (“What is my identity? How can it be stolen?”), but a definitional difficulty even among researchers and crime control agencies. “Not all investigators agree,” Copes et al. write, “on how best to define it or what crimes should be included under this umbrella concept” (1045). It is generally agreed upon that “the misuse of another individual’s personal information to commit fraud” is a key component of identity theft (Copes et al., 1045, quoting President’s Identity Theft Task Force). However, it is not even wholly agreed upon whether or not “using existing credit cards constitutes identity theft” (1045). The authors of this article admit that this differentiation may seem ubiquitous, but this question, among others, “could alter estimates of the extent of identity theft and impact of profile victims, complicating crime control efforts (1045).

The remainder of the article is broken, more or less, into two parts: first, secondary analysis of existing statistical research, and second, fresh statistical research from the authors’ own survey. I will spare the majority of the details from these portions of the article, but will include some statistics which I found interesting. First of all, regarding the “cost” of identity theft, a report from Synovate in 2003 concluded that the combined financial cost of both individual victims of identity theft and businesses was “over $50 billion a year” (1046). In addition, another kind of “cost” (which I may never have taken into account) is time necessary to recover. According to CALPIRG, “the average amount of time spent by victims to regain financial health was 175 hours, which took an average of two years to complete” (1046). One final statistic: in analyzing Anderson’s 2006 analysis of FTC’s 2003 data(tertiary analysis?) the authors noted that “those at the greatest risk of identity theft victimization are consumers between the ages 25-54, with higher levels of income…, who resise in households headed by women with three or more children, and who reside in the Pacific states,” while those at lower risk include “the elderly… and persons residing in the Mountain states” (1046).

Regarding the authors’ own survey, there is not much use in posting most of their statistics here (varying age, race, gender, education, income, etcetera of each victim surveyed, and the resulting implications). However, one point of note, Copes et al. took into account the usage of Internet into their research, discovering that nearly 70% of victims of identity theft use the Internet, and almost the same percentage use the Internet daily (1048). In trying to distinguish between different types of fraud, however, the authors describe that “combining existing credit card fraud with the others obscures the fact that frequent, daily Internet use increases the likelihood of becoming a victim of existing credit card fraud more than it does for the other identity thefts” (1050). The percentages of Internet usage in the “Existing Account Fraud” or “New Credit Card Fraud” categories were 10-20% lower than that of “Existing Credit Card Fraud” (1048).

Much like my last blog, the authors of this research seem to conclude only that their research will be useful for further research, rather than defining identity theft  (which I thought was the thing they had set out to do). In their conclusion, however, the authors bring up some interesting points about the increase in “media intention devoted to identity theft” and whether it “is simply a moral panic or a natural consequence of increased prevalence” (1050). All they can seem to say is that “it does appear that the number of identity theft victims has increased” and that “we will know relatively little about those how choose to engage in this type of fraud or about those who fall prey to it” (1050).

Again, disregarding the tediousness of statistical research, the fact that this research is taking place should, in itself, bring up a number of questions in our minds as 21st-Century-ers (or, I should say, it brings up a number of questions in my mind, anyway). First of all, is identity theft the correct term? Or, to take it back a step or two, is it actually my identity that is taken–is it me that’s being thieved? The (partial) definition which the group above provides is the misuse of personal information. Does that then imply that “personal information” is the same as identity? Although only certain types of personal information are stolen in credit card fraud, if you think about it, our identity is essentially collective of personal information–the things we know or think or feel or prefer or dislike or have experienced. No one can physically take any of those things from you (including bank account routing numbers, credit card history, online passwords, etcetera), but, having acquired the knowledge thereof, one can certainly misuse it for fraudulent gain.

This brings up another question about the physical versus the digital. The notion of stealing information is less and less about hardcopy and more and more about ones and zeros these days. It’s almost like dragging a Word Document from your desktop onto a JumpDrive. The information has not really been moved: it’s still on your computer, but it has been acquired somehow, it’s been copied onto another device and can be used in whatever way the owner of that device chooses.

If you think about it, any bit of information that we learn, or even gossip that we hear, is like stolen memory from some other harddrive. We take it and imprint it onto our brains, and we can do with that information whatever we like. Perhaps this accounts for the seeming inconsequentiality of online theft from the perspective of the thief. Take downloading music or movie piracy for example. You’ve seen those commericials: “You wouldn’t steal a car. You wouldn’t steal a TV. You wouldn’t steal a (fill in the blank)… Internet Piracy is illegal.” There is, however, a distinctive mental gap between physical looting and digital downloading. It doesn’t feel like stealing when there’s nothing in your hands.

Those are my rants (or, as I like to call them, “further implications”) on this article. I hope the information was somewhat interesting and that my philosophical meanderings were relatively cohesive.

Eynon, Rebecca and Lars-Erik Malmberg. “A Typology of Young People’s Internet Use: Implications for Education.” Computers and Education 56.3 (2011): 585-95. ERIC. Web. 17 Feb. 2011.

[Accessed through ProQuest.]

In their article, “A Typology…”, Eynon and Malmberg explicate a (very) thorough degree of research which they have performed about the various ways that people (in the U.K.) ages 8, 12, 14, and 17-19 use the Internet, specifically for the purpose of furthering research in the study of effectively using technology in formal education. This being an article based in statistical research, the bulk it got a little tedious for me (not to mention a bit over my head), and it didn’t have much conclusion in the way of actual practical use from the results. I guess I expected a little less “typology of young people’s internet use” and a little more “implications for education.”

Nonetheless, the research was (at least somewhat) interesting, and the questions proposed were intriguing, as well as necessary questions for our day and age pertaining to education.

Regarding the research, it essentially consisted of statistical analysis based on “a national representative face to face survey” (587). The objective was not to describe “an ideal ‘type’ of usage of the Internet” (594), but to construct various typologies, based on several specific contexts (which I’ll get into in just a second), as a basis for educational researchers to develop various ways to facilitate learning effectively through Internet technologies.

Eynon and Malmberg write, “This paper addresses two research questions. First, can we distinguish coherent profiles of young people’s Internet use? Second, how do these usage profiles relate to individual and contextual factors associated with the Internet user?” (586). First, let’s focus on the specific Internet activities that our researches mapped out. They chose “five a priori [Latin, essentially means “what we knew, decided, or what was given beforehand] constructs about young people’s Internet activities from previous surveys” (588). Those five constructs being “communicating, information seeking, entertainment, participating and creativity” (588). Each of these broad constructs had several specific activities in the survey which participants would rate their frequency in doing. For example, information seeking contained activities such as keeping up with the news or “buying products online,” while entertainment included “watching videos” or “downloading and streaming music” (588). In my opinion, the categories were somewhat arbitrary (activities in participating or creativity seemed interrelated, to me), but it is still necessary to set parameters.

Now let’s focus on those contextual factors briefly. Eynon and Malmberg assembled “four variables in the analysis to cater for individual characteristics: age group, gender, a problem solving approach to technology and perceived Internet ability” (588). Admittedly one of the main problems with this study, as with any survey-based approach to research, is subjectivity. A couple of these contextual factors, most especially the latter one, are distinctly not empirically verifiable. The way in which the survey handled the question of “self efficacy” was “measured on a four point scale where respondents were asked to rate their skills to use the Internet on a scale from Bad (1) to Excellent (4)” (588). There is not, of course, a better standard at present with which to effectively test an individual’s “Internet ability,” so this is understandably the simplest way to factor it into the equation at present.

Four measures were also used “to capture contextual factors both in terms of resources and people”; they were “home Internet access, the standardized index of Multiple Deprivation [I don’t have time to get into what that is, so check out the wikipedia link], parental regulation of Internet use and friends’ engagement with technology” (589).

Needless to say, although I believe I already have, one can see how this research can get a little tedious. They used all kinds of terms like “Chronbach’s alpha” and “latent profile analysis,” none of which I totally understood, and all of which was followed by complicated charts and graphs that had me not a little bit lost. However, after all of the complicated research jarga-jarga-jargon, Eynon and Malmberg revealed the results (the heading of which they aptly titled “Discussion”) of their analysis, which indeed prompt some valid (maybe even juicy?) discussion.

They set out for statistical typologies, and that’s what they got: four profiles of Internet users, now available for further research! They called the first group “the peripherals,” which make up 31% of the surveyed sample (of 1069 young Brits), and are “the least frequent users of the Internet” (591). The individuals in this profile are “likely to be younger, perceive themselves to be less skilled at using the Internet and less likely to have home Internet access” (591).

The next group is “the normatives.” They are the biggest group (not by much) at 32% and “exhibit average uses of three kinds of Internet activity–communicating, entertaining, and information seeking–and are engaging less in arguably more proactive uses of the Internet such as creating and participating” (592). The normative group tends to have less parental regulation, less technological engagement with friends, and are “less likely to employ a problem solving approach” to using the Internet (592).

“The all-rounders” are the third group, at 23%, “using the Internet for all five types of Internet use more frequently than the average” (592). As compared to the normatives, all-rounders are more likely to have friends engaged in technology as well as parental regulation (592).

The final group, called “the active participators,” are the smallest group of the sample, 14%. They have the highest frequency of all four groups of Internet-use in all five activities, and are more likely to contribute to a blog or wiki page more frequently (591). Eynon and Malmberg find that “the distinguishing variable” of Internet users in this group is that “they exhibit a greater problem solving approach towards using new technologies” (593).

As I mentioned before, Eynon and Malmberg devote only a small portion of their article to the implications of their research for education, but they do bring up some excellent points of discussion and further research. They contend that all five types of Internet-use that they described, “at certain times, facilitate learning,” and that the important thing in education is “to ensure that young people all have an equal chance to use the Internet,” not that they all “use the Internet in the same way,” but instead that they all are “supported to make the most out of using the Internet” (593).

As (honestly) comical as it was to hear statisticians boggle their minds to figure out how “young people” use that new-fangled Internet (I exaggerate, of course), it is refreshing 1) to see an open-minded objective, rather than a search for a specific, effective mode, and 2) to know that this research was intended as a factor and a resource (even as a problem-solving tool) for formal educators developing technology-based learning methods.

I don’t know personally that categorizing people into certain profiles is going to be the most effective way to gear technological learning toward them, but for the sake of analyzing statistical research, I understand that things simply must be categorized. To their credit, though, I admire and support their recognition of the individual (context, “attitude toward technology” (587), and so on) as a factor (an important one). I feel that this research is preliminary at best in the discussion of technologically accompanied education, but you have to start somewhere!

Hey, everyone. This might be unorthodox, as this blog was originated for class, but I wanted to briefly plug a few things in which I’m involved.

[For last blog assignment, see my last post.]

As I’m sure you’ve seen in either my first blog post or my links page, I’m part of an online writing group called “Silhouette Words,” the new season of which has just started up this month. It will run from February through April, and the first post, “Frozen Hallowed Ground,” by Justin Boyer (founder and contributor), is already up. So if any of you are interested in reading any creative nonfiction, fiction, or poetry from writers around the country, feel free to check in periodically, as a few pieces will be posted every week. Also, if you would be at all interested in contributing to future seasons of Silhouette, you can contact Justin at anytime through silhouette.words@gmail.com.

Also in my first post and links page (see links in above paragraph or just explore the blog) I’ve mentioned an even called “Alone in a Crowd.” This also was started by my friend, Justin Boyer lol. He’s a pretty active guy. Anyway, this event, typically in conjunction with the Lebanon First Fridays Artwalk, is a live art event. Several months out of the year, we gather musicians, poets, and painters (or visual artists) to perform together live, usually at the OnStage Theatre in Lebanon.

This month, however, we’re deviating a little. Instead of being on the first Friday of February, we are holding a special event called “In the Dead of Winter.” It is being held on Thursday, February 24th at MJ’s Coffee House in Annville. This is an official invitation for you all to come. Enjoy good art, good company, and good coffee (plus, I’ll be reading poetry, so if that intrigues anyone…? Feel free to come!).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

exc.

I have spent many frustrating hours in my life trying to find and download free creative software of many kinds–usually for my own creative purposes, none of which were related to web-design. However, with this research assignment, I have found that my limited experience might provide a little bit of insight for those of you who are or will also attempt to ascertain some free (high, or decent, quality) software. Also, through my briefest research, I have already discovered a few cool outlets which may allow for more fruitful searching.

Disclaimer: I am speaking as a PC-Windows user. It is possible that some amount of my discourse will not apply to Mac users, exchethera. (I like that: I think I’m going to do that from now on lol.)

First, I suppose, I want to strike preemptively against some paths which will lead to almost-certain demise in the world of free creative/editing software of any kind.

Imperative #1: If you google “free _____ software,” and the list of resulting links are all entitled, in effect, a word-for-word mimicry of your google search, that software will suck. Or just plain not work. From personal experience I can assert that that is nearly a guarantee. Whether it be audio-recording, video-editing, or whatever software, it will be rudimentary in function and appearance, extremely difficult to navigate and understand, and it will probably accomplish nothing that you want it to accomplish.

Addendum to Imperative #1: If a website appears poorly- or unprofessionally-made, it is incredibly likely that the software they provide for download will be equally poor or unprofessional. If you find yourself a website like this, especially one that results in the above mentioned google search, you’d be better off clicking the red “x” in the corner of your screen and going for a walk rather than enduring the stress and wasted time that would otherwise result.

Imperative #2: Free trials of more reputable, higher quality software are great, but (as they are a trial version) they will have limitations. For example, I have on a few occasions downloaded the latest trial version of a semi-professional beat-making program called “Fruity Loops,” or “FL Studio,” which was fun, pretty easy to navigate basically, and it even allowed me to upload audio from other sources. However, the one thing it would not allow me to do was save any of my work. So while I had a grand ol’ time working on a project for 3 hours, it was all for naught. So don’t assume because software is free you will necessarily be able to use it for your purposes. The point of a free trial is to have fun with the program and thus feel persuaded to buy the full version (which can get pricey: hundreds of dollars pricey).

Now there are a few programs that I have discovered in my searching that actually aren’t bad–and there are few.

In the world of audio-recording/editing: I recommend Audacity. It’s completely free and pretty straightforward, if you’re looking for a basic recording package. It’s not as involved as Garage Band, for example, but for Windows users who aren’t looking for something crazy-professional, Audacity works. It comes with a number of audio effects already (compressors, flangers, reverbs, and so on) and also allows for downloading of additional effects packages (free ones of which can be found online, as well). You can record multiple channels, adjust balance and volume, and even import audio from other sources (your iTunes library, your latest Fruity Loops project, etcetera). There are not preset loops and instruments like in Garage Band since Audacity is primarily for recording.

In the world of video-editing: this might sound lame, but Windows Movie Maker is actually a pretty decent program. It came with my computer, but you can download the latest version for free online (again, unless you’re a Mac user). The program is incredibly easy to use and figure out. You can upload video, audio, and images, and you can use and edit all three together in whatever capacity you desire: fade in, fade out, lengthen a clip, split an audio track, whatever you want.  There are a number of title/credit editing features (which I have to admit are at times somewhat limiting), as well as plethora of additional video effects and transition (between clips/images) effects. I have used the program for everything from slideshows to stop animation to music videos to short films.

Before I totally lose track, here is the little bit I’ve discovered in my research this morning.

I’ve not looked around much for image editing/image manipulating software before, but on this happy occasion, the first source I found seems pretty good. It’s called GIMP. The website’s header states that “It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring.” GIMP apparently stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program,” which prompted the question: “What the heck is a GNU?”

According to wikipedia (I know, I know–you academics, but this is an online blog about free software online, so whatever), GNU is an operative system developed by the “GNU project.” Apparently its name is a recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix,” which I find pretty funny. It’s called this because GNU is considered a “Unix-like” operative system, although it “differs from Unix by being free software and containing no Unix code.” On the FAQ page of GIMP’s website, it states that “GIMP is our answer to the current lack of free (or at least reasonably priced) image manipulation software for GNU/Linux and Unix in general.”

As I said, I just discovered this GIMP thing, so I’m not sure if it’s actually any good, but I imagine it is.

I hope that my little bit of research and my overadundance of experiential explication might aid some of you in regard to software for web (or personal, creative) development. Specifically, I think the “creative website” project we’ll be doing in this class might glean some benefit from the programs I’ve mentioned.

exc.

P.S. I’ve updated my links page and also added all the links from this post.

As it turns out, I was not “behind schedule” when I posted my last blog entry.

As per a brief update, I’ve discovered: a) that, in order to upload an mp3 or mp4 onto wordpress, one must apply for a “space upgrade,” which costs a minimum of $19.97 a year; and b) that changing one’s font is tedious and confusing. You have to create a TypeKit account (the trial version of which is free), which I have now done, but I don’t see any change to my editting capabilities. So I am still quite unsure how to adjust my font, but am honestly quite content with its current state.

Also I’ve started adding static pages. Pretty cool stuff. I’ve updated my “About” page and retitled it “Bio” and added a “Links” page, to which I plan to add continually. I’m also considering creating a page exclusively for short poems I’ve written. We’ll see.

See everyone in class tomorrow.

Well, it would seem that I am certainly not yet back into the swing of things regarding school–as evidenced by the fact that I just rushed through this blog-making process and have approximately 40 minutes to complete this blog assignment, shower, and eat lunch before I have to leave for the 40-60 minute school commute.

I am starting to familiarize myself with the site a little bit, but admittedly I would have liked to spend a little more time doing so. I guess I am going to have to do that later. Thus far I have essentially created my account, snagged a theme, editted my header, fiddled with a few widgets (now doesn’t that sound awkward), and configured a few other minor settings. Oh, and I’ve also added a few links to an online writing group to which I contribute (Silhouette Words) as well as the website for a local art space/studio in downtown Lebanon, where I live (Art Space 629). There: now I’ve linked them here.

I don’t totally have a feel for the way this site works as yet, and it’s a little more involved than I’ve cared to get with a blog since Xanga, which I haven’t used in four years or so? Widgets kind of freak me out, and I’m still not entirely sure what the “Gravatar” is or does, but it sounds like it could be the name of that pit-creature from Star Wars–the one that’s essentially a hole in the desert with teeth and tentacles (spare me, Jabba!). Anyway, it seemed as if the Gravatar was supposed to do something pertaining to linking information from other sites? Its first mention came to me when I was trying to link this blog to my Facebook page for the sake of verification. We’ll see.

I didn’t have much time to edit font or color, but again, I plan to do so. It seemed pretty self-explanatory whilst I was perusing earlier. I also haven’t messed with static pages yet… but I’ll get to it.

Hm.. I was going to try and upload a song, but it seems that WordPress doesn’t like mp3 or mp4.

More to come!