Until I had completed my final website for DGST 101, I didn’t realize how much I had truly learned this semester. While creating my digital portfolio I went back through all of my past projects and was reminded of how many interesting lessons I had learned and how many of them were applicable to real life. I was also very surprised at how adept I was at writing html for my final website. I am very proud of the final website I produced and wrote by hand. I never would have thought that I would be able to create something like that without another platform like WordPress. This class has shown me the importance of the internet, how to decipher fact from fiction, and how establishing your online identity in a positive way is so important going forward in life.
The hardest part of the mapping process was trying to figure out what I wanted to analyze and map. I was originally going to map all the places I have been to, but that seemed boring to me and very tedious. I decided on the journey Alexander Hamilton took when he immigrated from the British West Indies to the British American Colonies in the late 18th century. I had recently read his biography by Ron Chernow, and I realized that immigration in the 1700s is not so different from today.
By using Chernow’s references to places Hamilton lived and worked, I was able to create an interactive map using Storymap. At first the website seemed easy to use, then I ran into issues when trying to preview the map outside of editing mode. I liked the look of this interface but almost gave up on it because the points I has plotted weren’t showing up with the corresponding slide. I decided to just finish researching and writing the information in the slides, included pictures, and embedded the link into my code. Miraculously, once embedded into my website it worked for some unknown reason!
For the final module in DGST 101, I have decided to complete the mapping module. I was initially interested in this methodology module choice because next semester I am taking an intro GIS class, and I thought this would be a good way to ease myself into that mainframe. I have never worked with any mapping software to create my own kind of map, so I’m excited to experiment with an activity I’ve never done before.
This module is a little different because of the individual aspect of it, but I find that slack and class time are great places to discuss different ideas and strategies with my group. I like this individual project more because you don’t have to rely on others to finish their share of the project, it is all your responsibility.
The research for my DigiPo claim was fairly straightforward. We chose the claim “first born children are more intelligent” and then started Googling. There were several news articles all from the beginning of February this year. Each news source looked reliable to me, but it wasn’t enough to substantiate the claim. No article had any variations, and they all mentioned a University of Edinburgh study, so I followed the links to that. This was the first published article (February 8, 2017). This short article gave more information about the actual study, which was conducted in conjunction with Analysis Group and the University of Sydney. The actual study analyzed data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and determined that because of more attention to the first child’s cognitive development and first children helping teach their younger siblings, first children were generally more intelligent.
I thought this was a great exercise in reading laterally and getting to the original source of a claim. I actually thought it would be harder to find the original source, but maybe this specific claim was easier to find than others. I had a little trouble posting on DigiPo, but eventually resolved it. I wrote the original summary and added to the origin and prevalence section of our DigiPo page. This project is very relevant today because claims and sources are not always reliable, and this gave me great tools to be able to decipher what is true and what isn’t.
Mike Caulfield’s talk, Teaching Digital Literacy in a Post-Truth World, was a seminar to inform students and teachers how misinformation is very pertinent on the web, and how to distinguish between fact and fiction and everything in between. In other words, how do we know what we see is true, and if it isn’t, how do we go about finding the truth?
Throughout the entire presentation I couldn’t help but to think of today’s political environment and how the use of “alternative facts” has become a cornerstone of communication with the public. I was also aware of the fact that most, if not all, of the news I consume is from social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. I have my own assumptions about some sources’ biases, but this talk showed me how break down that bias and ultimately decipher what is true and what isn’t, by using a new method called lateral reading. Caulfield essentially debunked the CRAAP model that I, and many of my peers, use and was taught here at UMW. Using radical examples like white supremacist’s websites illustrated how the authority pillar of CRAAP can easily be unreliable by whoever is writing an article. Of course the source is always going to say that they are trustworthy. Also, the currency and relevance of a source cannot definitively tell if it is reliable or not. Caulfield also brought up how the CRAAP model encourages people to stay within whatever source they are evaluating. Most likely, one needs to step outside the source itself and research it from what other sources say so a more unbiased view can be developed (this is lateral reading). I will be using Caulfield’s newer model because I believe it is more effective and efficient at determining if sources are reliable.
The social media aspect of this talk resonated with me because of how much I use it every day. Whenever I share a post on Facebook or retweet something on Twitter, I never look into if the source is reliable or if what I am sharing is even factually correct. One of the themes Caulfield touched on was how Facebook has become a platform for people to share posts and videos that construe a certain view that the poster wants their followers and friends to perceive about them. It is not about true or false, which is a major way that misinformation can spread very quickly. People share things that promote their own agenda, and most of the population is not looking into the claims they are perpetrating.
I feel like deciphering the news is a critical asset that more people need to have, especially in today’s United States. There always has been and always will be bias, but current times have seen blatant lies from different public figures and the general public just accepts them because of the authority of the figures behind them. This talk has given me tools to quickly determine what is true and if sources are reliable, and how to tell if something might not be 100% accurate. I can use these tools in every day life and in academia.
After dismantling the iHome iH5, one of the earliest models, I began my search for the origin of its components. I was assigned the control panel buttons and the radio station knob potentiometer to research. After a quick Google search of the part numbers printed on my components yielded nothing but Yu-gi-yoh cards, I decided to look further into the logos I could decipher. The logo was the same on both of my components and it looked like a square with an upside down triangle inside of it. I used the West Florida Components link that was provided to us, but after checking the long list of logos three times, I still could not find anything. At this point I was feeling frustrated and turned back to trusty Google, and searched “who makes iHomes.” After reading a brief wikipedia page on the subject, I discovered that the company SDI Technologies produces iHomes.
I visited the SDI Technologies website and found that they were originally branded as Realtone Electronics in 1956, changing in 1963 to Soundesign, and then again to the current name in 1994. This was and is still a family owned private company. SDI Technologies also contributes to children’s electronic toys and the Timex brand. The company “about” page is virtually the same as what is given on the iHome website as well. Their corporate office is in Rahway, New Jersey, and there are “six offices and facilities throughout North America and Asia.”
I could not find anything more specific about what part of Asia these components were made from so, like any true millennial, I took to social media. I contacted iHome directly through Facebook and asked if they could give me any specifics and they directed me to the customer questions page on the iHome website. I then used that avenue and again asked where the parts were made, and I received an email about four days later saying “This product was made in China”, and that was as far as I could get. Thank you, iHome customer service page, for telling me what I already knew.
Using #activism has purpose in real life protesting and activism. Social media activism can sometimes be perceived as vain and not useful nor effective. From my personal experience and research through this project I have found the exact opposite to be true.
Social media tags and campaigns first and foremost bring issues to light. These issues can be local, national, or even global, because of the scope of the internet. Bringing awareness to an issue is something that social media has increased exponentially. Some current topics that hashtags bring to light are the conflicts in the middle east (particularly Syria), political debates and policies (The Wall, the Immigration Ban, etc.), and the Flint Michigan water crisis. These are three examples of global, national, and local issues brought to light on a massive scale because of #activism. Social media is also a news source for many, especially teens and young adults who don’t read newspapers or watch news on television. There are many news outlets that have social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where #activism is most prevalent. Many people I know would not be informed about these issues if it were not for hashtag trends.
Once a large population has been made aware of an issue, many people want to help. That may be donating time, money, resources, or simply just retweeting and sharing to further spread awareness. A huge success story is the ALS ice bucket challenge. This trend went viral in the summer of 2014 and raised awareness plus millions of dollars for ALS research. This campaign allowed research to accelerate and become so much closer to finding a cure. Because of the awareness #activism can spread, it can lead to larger groups of more informed protestors. It also allows people from all over the world to gain insight on what specific populations are going through. By promoting activism and protests, it has become easier to plan and execute successful protests with many passionate people participating.
#Activism can also promote dialogue and educate people on different perspectives. Twitter and Facebook can be great platforms to share opinions and see those of others, maybe resulting in a changed viewpoint for one of the parties. There is also the other side to that, in where people become more ingrained in their views, but in my opinion somewhat unproductive dialogue is far better than no dialogue at all.
For this module Google was a really nice tool, as were the articles linked on dgst101.net. Since this area is so internet based it wasn’t difficult to find information on #activism. I saw a lot of suggestions in slack which was a really nice way to get a lot of information from one site. I found both TAGS and NodeXL to be confusing and I ended up not using them. Including another option or directions on how to track a hashtag might be better.
Now, a personal anecdote about how powerful #activism can be: in the winter of my junior year of high school (2015) there was a snow storm and the roads were icy, but the schools in my county (Fairfax County Public Schools) didn’t close or even delay. There were several bad car accidents, with a few students ending up in the hospital, and major traffic delays. This rightfully sparked an outrage with students and parents (but mostly students). Thus started #closeFCPS. By the end of the day, my county became a worldwide trending hashtag. One county in Virginia made a worldwide impact in just one day. Since that day, snow days are deliberated much more carefully and the school board airs on the side of extreme caution with all their current weather related school closing decisions. Imagine how much more attention and impact can be made about even more important issues like politics, inequality, genocides, and so much more, if people worldwide raised awareness as fervently as Fairfax County students did in just one day.
When deciding to choose a culture module it was not hard once I saw the #Activism module. In today’s political climate, both in the United States and globally, hashtags are our way of dissenting as a large, worldwide group of citizens who do not agree or want change. I believe hashtags truly can make a difference, especially in brining awareness to issues, which can be half the battle. Today’s technology allows social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to be very easy and accessible tools to spread information and awareness worldwide instantly. I am looking forward to delving deeper into what makes a hashtag successful and how specific hostages have been used over time.
Creating a game requires patience and resilience. First you need a vision and a platform in which to achieve that vision, and then the drive and ability to carry out your goal. Most of the time the first try making a game doesn’t live up to expectations. I have learned to try new things and to not get frustrated when things don’t turn out the way I imagined.
I found Ian Schreiber’s Fundamentals of Game Design to be extremely helpful in learning about games and gaming because there was so much information in one place that was easily accessible. Having it be a course is a great idea for anyone who is more serious about learning how to make games. I used Sploder to construct my game because it matched my vision the most. I wanted something where there was a player running and trying to get through the obstacles of a level and then leveling up, like Mario Bros. I didn’t want a story game, like many of the options provided. Sploder was the easiest to access and use in my opinion.
One of the greatest takeaways I got from researching gaming was how psychology and gaming fit together. Flow is a psychological concept where a person is engaged in an activity that perfectly balances that person’s skills and the difficulty of a task. If something is too easy, it becomes boring and the person loses interest. If it is too hard, the person sees no reason to continue to try and succeed if all efforts are futile. Some examples of flow include participating in sports, having an engaged conversation, making art, and yes, gaming. Some “side-effects” of flow include losing track of time, loss of awareness of physical needs (i.e. hunger, pain), self confidence boosts, and increased happiness. Gaming can induce a flow state and therefore make a person happier in theory. The way games integrate flow into their designs is by implementing levels. Levels to a game give a reward by leveling up, they teach the player strategies, and they get increasingly more difficult. Levels cater to flow perfectly. It builds skill and gets harder at the same time, so the player doesn’t get bored and will continue in flow. Gaming communities also contribute a lot to the social impact of gaming in a positive way, and games can build decision making skills as well. Gaming can have a really positive impact that I had never considered before this project.
As I began my research for the gaming module I just clicked on the links provided, as I had no previous gaming experience and didn’t know where to look other than Google. I first read Ian Schreiber’s Fundamentals of Game Design. Going back through all his posts made me realize that analyzing and creating games is more complex than I first thought. The first question “what is a game?” caught me off guard because I had never thought of that simple question before. I immediately thought “a game is something fun” and further reading made me realize that was far too simple. For one, games aren’t always fun and can be frustrating. Secondly, I never knew how many different definitions of “game” there are. Each new definition I read made sense to me, and I couldn’t pick a favorite. This made me think up my own definition of gaming which was “something interesting, fun, and interactive.” After reading Schreiber’s list of definitions I should add that games are outside of real life and that they have set rules. Those were the big takeaways I had from my first impression with gaming.
One thing I found interesting is the debate whether you have to be able to win or lose for something to be classified as a game. Schreiber brought up role playing games and I thought of games I used to play where you could build and grow a civilization. There was no winning or losing, there was just playing, and I consider that a game. Another gaming aspect that was included in Schreiber’s definition was that games involve conflict. I was first surprised when I read this and then I thought of any game I had ever played and realized that no matter how juvenile or easy a game is, there is always a conflict against something. (Mario vs. Waluigi, you vs. the other team/ player, etc.)
After learning a small amount of what a game actually is, I dove into the process of creating them. I first used sploder.com and was just making things up as I went and realized maybe I needed more information on how to create a game first. I decided to look at genres and fundamental gaming concepts before continuing to make my game.
The main concepts that stood out to me were that all games must have a strong core. In other words, what is the purpose of the game and what is it trying to make you feel. The mechanics (rules) of a game must support the core in making sure that everything helps to point to the core and meaning of a game. When these mechanics are put into motion, aka playing the game, it leads to the dynamics and aesthetic of a game. These are the mental and emotional impacts of a game on the payers. Each piece of the game must be intimately connected to produce a quality game. The core must be well thought out and supported by the mechanics, and that will lead to the player experiencing the dynamics of a game how they were intended. The core and subsequent game all point to a genre as well.
It was at this point in my research that I realized I had no core for my game. I then decided that my purpose was to create an easy and fun game similar to Mario Bros. I chose a core like this because I thought it would be easier to make than other games. That may be so, but easy it was not.