Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Get your Groan On

I’ll admit, I am known to browse pretty carelessly through Wikipedia from time to time. I even use it in my work; when trying to define a concept or add context, I’ll do research via Wikipedia.
It’s an ever-flopping internet goldmine of facts, definitions and information and it’s simple and much more precise than typing it up through Google. You could even make the argument that because Wikipedia is constantly monitored by teams of dedicated geeks, it’s likely more accurate than most of the first page results Google will cough up. In this age of academic restrictions, which often forbade listing Wikipedia pages as sources, you can always just click through the list of sources that are typically listed at the bottom. I’d to say that Wikipedia is the Quiznos of the Internet: by no means is it “fast food” cheap, but it’s not exactly a high end bistro either.

I try to turn to old-fashioned books to do my proper research, but it’s just so hard when all your needs are at your fingertips, when the precise required chapter can be found within several clicks and a minute of skimming.

Still, Wikipedia really isn’t an end all to research, and will never find widespread recognition from the intellectual community: the information offered, some encyclopedia experts argue, is too one-sided and is far too heavy in fan-based material. Basically, that which is more historically relevant is outweighed by that which is popular. There’s no greater fact behind this belief than the acknowledged “Art of Wikigroaning”

If you’ve never heard of this before, I highly suggest clicking my hypertext. Wikigroaning, essentially, occurs when you pair together two Wikipedia pages side-by-side: one page containing hard-line, real world, educational material, the other matted with useless nerd trivia.

The catch to Wikigroaning is that two pages must be linked either verbally or topically, and the geek fandom page has(b) is to be the longer of the two. You might be surprised just how one-sided some of these topics are, here are some examples I’ve conjured on my own:

Rock band
Rock Band (video game)


Andrew Jackson
Ron Paul

Taylor’s theorem
Sean Taylor (American football)

Sailor Moon

Doctor of Medicine
Doogie Howser, M.D.


A Nightmare on Elm Street

Carl Bernstein
Hunter S. Thompson

Fun, huh? I could probably do this for hours. If you’re looking for a special challenge, try grouping together Wikigroans: multiple important topics, all of which are smaller than the useless trivia page. Ch-ch-check it:

Dragon Ball Z

Equilibrium (film)

Thomas Paine

Libertarian Party (United States)

Video of the Day:
BAND: Animal Collective
SONG: Peacebone

This is a pretty good music video. It’s stylized, offbeat, and flaunts its high quality production, even in an era where music videos have taken a back seat to shitty reality television. The song flows along nicely with the video; we are given what we want when we want it, and I’m proud to say it delivers. This is a good video. But I’d hope that a band as offbeat as Animal Collective would be able to drum up something completely different.

I want music videos that are just completely different. It’s not impossible to do, really. The general concept of weird isn’t that hard to capture; I suppose I’d just like to see something completely different. No, it’s not easy to pull off, but I felt like this video wasn’t even trying to make that gap. Gnarly alien beings and speed-blur lights just don’t do it for me anymore.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Final WEBSITE Reflection

Okay, after a little confusion, I am delivering my Final Website Reflection about this pretty pony of mine.

The purpose of this website was for me to flaunt my news writing and my experiences with specific articles. By linking the articles from each page, and then discussing in detail the trials and tribulations I faced with each one, I have accomplished what I intended.

My readers may not be fans of my work, but they would still log on to this website if they were curious about specific articles, and what it was like to write them. Constantly, I find myself curious, as a reader, to hear the “story behind the story.” Everyone loves the classic exciting tale of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and their exposure of the Watergate Scandal. Personally, I’d love to know how Seymour Hersh manages to develop sources in such hard-to-reach spots, or so he says. But that kind of lesson is kept pretty guarded honestly. I provide my readers with a puny version of such tales, but it still manages to serve that purpose to those who would be interested by describing the focus of the article and the side stories that came along with the article that never saw print.

My site makes precise use of linkages, and takes full advantage of the archiving function that is basically required of all newspaper websites. By using Google Page Creator, another newer piece of web-technology, I was able to more easily develop my website without having to struggle entirely through HTML code, as I did when I created my Geocities website.

Google Page Creator, however, also happened to be my curse. Far too often did I struggle with my website’s coloring. Often, I’d assign a color to, say, a link and then preview the page, heartbroken to see that my change had not occurred. After a several experiments of the trial and error variety, I finally managed to make it all work. Or so I believe. A few times, a page which had an orange link originally in the preview version would turn grey when I refreshed the page. This shouldn’t happen again, but if it does, then I place the blame entirely on Google Page Creator.

It was a mixed experience for me to look back on the work that I haven’t even thought of for months and months. While I, like any other self-respecting journalist, always enjoy patting myself on the back, there are quite a few articles that I would like to forget. Each Mirror article dragged up the acres of unpleasant memories of UNC, even if they had nothing to do with the article itself, or wasn’t even included in the writing. I could’ve gone on for pages about what was going through my life at that point, about my emotions and all that bullshit, but I’d rather not delve any deeper than I had to. Keep the thoughts on the surface when the water’s black, that’s what I say.

Video of the Day
BAND: The Notorious B.I.G.
SONG: Juicy

The ultimate kickback song/video. The semester is done. It's good to be alive. God bless.

Online Writing Reflection

Overall, I enjoyed this course. I found it to be challenging yet stimulating. I actually learned things from this course, things I'm likely to retain many years (or at least months) after this final week: the workings of the blog, the Web 2.0 concept, the Semantic Web, and probably most importantly, HTML basics.
I feel pretty confident in saying that somewhere down the line of my life, I will encounter HTML again, and having some knowledge of it (or at least knowing where to find codes that I can copy/paste from) will undoubtedly benefit me. I've also enjoyed blogging and plan on making a consistent effort to actually continue this blog for many days to come. We'll see; there's always that chance that it will blow future career opportunities for me, but for now, I'll have fun with it.
That said, the one thing that absolutely drove me insane about this class was the projects and the grading. I felt consistently cheated when I turned in a paper that had been shined to perfection, following all of the criteria asked for on the original assignment rubric. But the paper was returned to me, it would always seem like I was being graded down for criteria that never really existed until the instructor decided to add it on during the grading process.
Also, I found the peer-review sessions to be completely worthless. For this last project, I told my reviewers to suggest anything at all for my website, and out of the six or so comments, only one actually made a suggestion. All the others said "this looks nice." I would've gained so much more from just sitting down with the instructor for five minutes, hearing what she had to say about the website just from glimpsing over it, and then I could do my best to fulfill those requirements instead of trying to guess EXACTLY what she wants as I am doing with my final project.