Playing with my Banjo


I came back from a 12 day vacation in Mexico, high fever, congested, and really cannot function. Though I was tired and a little delirious, I made all attempts to get to an apple store because the day the iPhone was released was part of the 12 days I’m in Mexico. I was disappointed to find that the closest apple store from JFK closed at 8pm on a Saturday! Ticked off and sick, I tried to get over the fact that I have to suffer one more day without my most desired gadget. So the next day I get up, stuffed up, pounding pain in both ears, and swallowing was more painful than ramming chopsticks in my ear drums, I got dressed and woke up my trusty room mate who shares the same desire for the iPhone, but at the time did not have the funds for one. He was happy to just go to the store, and vicariously live through me as I purchased this new Apple product.

I get to the store and despite what has been reported about long lines and long waits, I just found a bunch of people oogling the product, rather than buying one. They are smart. I spent 89 cents more on the iPhone than my monthly rent. I felt kind of bad, but hey, I gotta have it. Like I posted back in January, “I want an iPhone.” My roommate have warned me about some of the things lacking on the phone but I chose to ignore them and reminded him that he is talking to a girl that owns 7 iPods because I just had to get each new generation that comes out. I own, the second generation, the first generation video, a mini, a nano, and the shuffle. I figured that if apple ever comes out with the second generation iPhone, I’m sure I will get that as well. So anyways, at the time, owning the iPod outshined practicality.

So I got the iPhone. I am still sick and now even more ticked. I don’t know about you, but upon getting a brand spanking new cellphone, one of the first things I do is check out the ringtones. The apple is an iPod–Phone… I figured this would mean it would have some good ringtones. Well it doesnt. I spent over $634 dollars on a huge, heavy, phone that goes online. I could do this on a laptop. When I thought that I was upgrading from a sony ericsson to an iPhone, I felt like I signed up for a verizon contract (blocking any type of file transfers from other phones) with a phone that could do the same stuff a phone back in say 2003 could… This phone can’t even take videos! Oh what am I gonna do with 8 gigs of space if I can’t take video, record music, or even open an mp3 file I sent to my email. I guess the iPhone isn’t really for me….it’s more for people who has never had a sony ericsson walkman or a Nokia6126, or even the razr! Don’t even get me started on the razr. That phone has next to nothing space-wise if compared to the iPhone, but it can receive and send files, take video, record audio, and all of these can be shared!!!

I want an iPhone

My countdown has begun for the iPhone. I WANT ONE!

Right to Privacy Online(Response #10)

It was my senior year of high school, and a friend and myself planned a Halloween party to be held at a convention hall in town. We booked a DJ, had light works, fog machines, and spent a good amount of money on decorations. The night of the party, there were three cop cars parked outside of the convention hall and were stopped before we could enter the hall by two officers who inquired about our nationalities. I told them I am Filipina, but then they became concerned when they found out that my friend is half Vietnamese and half Caucasian. Apparently, the cops were there to prevent an Asian gang war that was said to happen at our party. Two Asian gangs from Hartford were supposedly exchanging conversations on the net and came across an online invitation for our party and decided to settle their differences there. With cops in the parking lot all throughout the party, needless to say, nothing happened and it was a fun and successful night. During the party preparations, my friend and I were thankful of how easy the Internet will make it possible to advertise our party and the efficiency of emailing invitations. However, we did not think of the matters of privacy. In our case, the invasion of our privacy had a positive result since an alleged gang war was prevented, though I do not believe that any invasion of privacy usually provides the same positive result. While we are glad that a supposed gang war didn’t happen that night since our privacy has been breached it left an unsettling feeling how privacy online can easily be violated.

“Privacy for Sale,” by A.L Shapiro writes, “the privatization of privacy protection will create as many dilemmas as it solves, if not more” (160). Shapiro argues that privatization will only be beneficial to those who can afford it and those who cannot will continually have their privacy violated, hence creating a bigger dilemma socially, as opposed to solving the problem of the invasion of privacy.

Personally, I feel that privacy coincides with the advancement of interactive communications. Interactive communications is a fairly new media as compared to the more established ones such as print and broadcast journalism, film, and television. As people become more educated and come to find that whenever they log on, they will be giving up their right to privacy, more and more people will be turned off by it, hence becoming a hindrance in the medium’s success and development.

The Wonders Of Convergence (Response #9)

By the end of last week, my family and I were at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines. We were greeted by my grandmother, aunt, and uncle and then taken to our hotel. After a bite to eat and a quick shower we got into our rented van and made our way through endless traffic to my grandfather’s house. My little brother commented on the lack of traffic lights and asked if there are a lot of accidents caused by its inexistence. My uncle clarifies that everyone uses their common sense and accidents are not as frequent as one would think. When we arrived at my grandfather’s house we were greeted by swarms of neighbors, relatives, and family friends, many took pictures with their camera phones, and others took pictures with their digital cameras. They were very happy to see us because it has been years since they’ve seen us and all have never met my little brother and little sister since they were born in the U.S. My brother was video-taping and I held a digital camera. It was the last day that people can visit my grandfather after his passing before he is buried. That night, I imported all the images from my sister and my cameras and uploaded them on flickr for my Uncle in the States because he was not able to make the trip back to the Philippines. The next day we prepared for the burial. Unfortunately, my brother had left the video camera on and we have not left the house yet. Fortunately, my point and shoot digital camera also records audio and video so we made due with using a little digital camera with a 2 gigabyte memory card to record more memories for the rest of the family in the U.S. who were not able to come to the Philippines.

“Introduction: “Worship at the Altar of Convergence” by H. Jenkins claims, “convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about” (3). For instance, text messaging in the Philippines is a new cultural norm producing a social change. My fourteen-year-old cousin claims to have “text-mates” where they carry on a romantic relationship strictly through text messaging. I actually met a husband and wife with a five-month-old baby who said they have carried on a text messaging relationship for a year and then met in person and later got married.

While my stay here in the Philippines, I’ve had the opportunity to experience convergence at first hand. I logged on AIM and kept in touch with my friend who is dog sitting for me and I was able to continually receive emails on my gmail account. A couple of days ago, my family and I were in one of the provinces where the Wifi access is only available in the small towns, far away from where we were staying, but with my phone, I was able to browse through the internet.

With its convenience and its power to integrate multiple medias, convergence promises an efficient future where one can stay connected and make the most of interactive communications.

I Yahoo’ed Before I Googled (Response #8)

Before I ever googled, I was searching by keywords onAOL, and when I found out about Yahoo! I became a search fiend and I also became a fan. Then came Google. In the beginning I did not find it to be so interesting because it did not have the same content Yahoo! had. The page had no advertisements, no links, articles, or banners. The only similarity is the search box. But then I saw “I’m feeling lucky” as a search option. That was intriguing. From then on, I began googling and I never stopped. I never looked back because as I came to realize, the “noise” Yahoo! contains takes away from my ultimate goal, which is to find what I’m looking for. After reading the article “Boxes and Arrows: Defining Information Architecture Deliverables,” by Christina Wodke, I concluded that Google most likely utilized the conceptual Model.

Wodke writes:

“ User experience guru Don Norman defined three types of models that occur when creating a product

Implementation models
Conceptual models
Mental Models.

The implementation model is how the product works from a technical point of view. The mental model is how the user thinks the product works. The conceptual model is the message the designer or IA sends to the user about how the product works.

As a user, I find that I can clearly identify what the website is for because of its content. The search box in the middle of the page and the identifiable search buttons make it easy for me to search. Without the visual distractions advertisements, banners, articles and such on the page, Google focuses on my intent to search. The designer or IA visibly represents a site for searching and anyone whose goal is to search will truly appreciate the design. I believe it is a successful search engine because the straightforwardness of the site gets rid of any confusion that can arise even if the user is not an Internet wiz.

The article “Long Tails and Short Queries An Interview with Amanda Spink” explains the “complex search behaviors” of users. Spink writes, “ The Google and CNN text boxes may be a little bigger or longer than average, but not substantially longer. How about a structured textbox, like an electronic library catalog interface? How about a textbox that is 3 inches by 3 inches with lots of space for people to express themselves? If you give people a small text box, you’re probably constraining their expression of their information problem. People need to be feel they should play around with search and experiment” (Citation). Since user search behavior is quite hard to predict I agree with Spink’s idea to have designers experiment more with search techniques. A search box’s size and placement on the webpage and the simple design of the website is a great start for a search engine but getting the better results on the results page is even better.

Personally, when it comes to searches, I can say I Google a lot. It may not be as attractive and flash-y as your Yahoo! and MSN, but it gets the job done swiftly and easily.

Users have ADHD (Response #7)

Every type of media develops a type of eclectic audience with varying interests and to satisfy these audiences and to attract new members, it must continue to hold and captivate interest. For instance, a screenplay can be very good as a whole but the first ten pages is what the reader looks at. If nothing happens in the first ten pages, more than likely, nothing will happen to the screenplay. Next time you are watching a movie, time the first ten minutes of the film. This is when you will decide whether you’d like to continue watching the film or not. The first few minutes are critical in film just as in television. Think about the large sums of money spent on thirty-second commercial spots on television. A pilot of a new sitcom needs to be the best or one of the best episodes to grab a new audience, just as a thirty-second commercial need to be as interesting so the audience does not change the channel. The emergence in the popularity of the web as a new type of media must then accommodate the audience already used to the effortlessness of watching film and television to survive as a new medium. From what I’ve learned from the viewers, now referred to as “users,” Time or speed is critical and so is the content.

S. Krug writes, “ It’s the overriding principle—the ultimate tie breaker when deciding whether something works or doesn’t in a Web design. If you have room in your head for only one usability rule, make this the one. It means that as far as is humanly possible, when I look at a Web page it should be self-evident. Obvious. Self-explanatory” (11).

Krug supports the idea that users shouldn’t have to think when interacting online because the time a user spends thinking determines whether a web page is good or not. As a user, my goal online is for information and the fastest I get the information on a site, the more likely I will be returning to it. I am an avid television and movie-watcher and what makes me enjoy these mediums is the simplicity of the process of watching. For instance, to watch a television all I need to do is to power it on. I am then entertained and/or informed. As a web user, I need to experience the same effortlessness and a successful website, one that will not require me to think, makes this possible.

Public access show content with that of big-budget network-show content cannot be compared. They are in entirely different levels production-wise. On the other hand, a well designed website can be compared to a Fortune 500 company website just so long as they serve their main purpose. Users frequently filter and only click on links that made them go online in the first place. While web content can be overlooked at times, a busy site can make it hard to see the content or what you want to find. The time saved when a user is faced with a website does not require him to think is more favorable than a site that is very noisy.

I believe that the web is claiming a spot in the world of media and the way it will continue to succeed is the way it has established itself as an interactive form of communication. As technology progresses, it seems that audience attention span regress, and this regression can only be good for interactive communication because while television fights to grab attention, online users suffering from ADHD are surfing the web, clicking away, and taking advantage of all the information right at their fingertips.


Krug, S. (2000). Don’t make me think. Indianapolis: New Riders, 1-39

Free Time and Online Learning (Response #6)

About five years ago, I got ready for the first class of my college career. I walked to class, my bag strapped around my shoulder, pens in my pockets, and the sheet of paper that listed my class schedule and room number in my hand. Before entering the classroom, I set my phone to vibrate and I took my seat. Everyone waited for the professor and after some introductions he passed out the syllabus and started to lecture. I remember teasing my younger sister about her school schedule because since she’s still in high school, she had to be in school from 7:00 a.m. to about 2:00 p.m. I bragged how I’d have class twice on Tuesdays and I’d start at noon, so I can sleep in late and after my second class that ended at 2:30 p.m., I am free to do whatever I’d like. In those years, the time I did not spend in class is what I considered free time, now that I am working full time in an office and going to graduate school full time as well, my “free time” dwindled into an hour for lunch and some stolen time at the office to read the required readings for my courses. If I am not at work or at class or doing schoolwork, I am getting ready for work or commuting. The problem of the tremendous decrease in “free time” is what the technological developments resolve, because it ultimately expand and make the most of the “free time” an end-user is left with throughout a working day. Technological advancements continue to feed upon the response from end-users and the results are the emergence in popularity of online education and the increase in the usage of digitized memories. Both are products of the developer’s attempt to satisfy and make the most of very little “free time” an end-user has.

The article, “Education Goes Digital: The Evolution of Online Learning and the Revolution in Higher Education,” by Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff claims, “online learning is a new social process that is beginning to act as a complete substitute for both distance learning and the traditional face-to-face class” (60). This alternative way of learning accommodates the majority of people who are in the working world but would like to pursue a higher level of education. The time spent and the process of preparing for class and commuting to school can be spent on other things, thus expanding free time. Another advantage of an online class is its accessibility. In the past, students have brought in a tape recorder to record lectures in class so that they may reference it when studying for exams or writing a paper. With the class lectures and content available online, a student can easily access these course materials and spend all the time they need with them. In addition to course materials readily available online, communication with the professor comes easily as well: He can be reached by e-mail, blogs, or instant message. While there is a telephone etiquette that people should abide by, an e-mail at 2:00 in the morning is acceptable while a phone call at the same time is not.

“Digital Memories in an Era of Ubiquitous Computing and Abundant Storage,” by Mary Czerwinski, Douglas W. Gage, Jim Gemmell, Catherine C. Marshall, Manuel A. Perez-Quinonesis, Meredith M. Skeels, and Tiziana Catarci, explains, “time management, improving productivity at and away from the workplace; improving coordination among family, friends, and co-workers; and identifying relevant or proximate information, given the current context (including but not limited to location)” (46) is one of the reasons what someone might do with collected memories. The growing interest in online learning has a relation with the people’s increasing fascination with digital memories. The course materials readily available online usually consists of images, audio, and video that drive the online learning experience. The increased usage of digitized memories is a result of the technological advancements that make collecting, transporting, sharing, and storing of these memories quickly and efficiently. Digitized memories, which includes images and both audio and video can be imported to your computer, edited, saved, printed, e-mailed and uploaded online or downloaded by another, decreasing the amount of time spent in sharing these memories.

The subject of time is the most significant aspect of online learning and digitized memories. A focused and responsible individual can personally set the time needed for the course in accordance with his learning style and abilities. This person can view the materials uploaded or sent by his or her professor instantly, reducing process time. Online learning may not be suitable for people who require more motivation and maybe a face-to-face lecture will be better for them, but it does not hurt to have materials online to be easily accessed by these students as well. Problems with digitized memories, include privacy matters because as Czerwinski argues, “the more one stores, the more likely it is that personal information could be compromised” (47). However, I believe this does not differ from a person who hoards personal information in paper form. Ultimately, online learning has a bright future in education because of its accessibility and “free time” expanding capabilities.


Czerwinski, Mary; Gage, Douglas W.; Gemmell, Jim; Marshall, Catherine; Pérez-Quiñonesis, Manuel; Skeels, Meredith; and Catarci, Tiziana (2006). Digital Memories In An Era of Ubiquitous Computing and Abundant Storage. Communications of the ACM, 49(1), 45-50.

Hiltz, S.R. & Turoff, M. (2005). Education goes digital: the evolution of online learning and the revolution in higher education. Communications of the ACM, 48(10), 59-64.

Response Paper #5

“What if life was more like a video game…”

Check out this clip from Futurama. I thought it was perfect for this week’s topic of video games………This was one of the tales of interest from Volume 3 –“Anthology of Interest II”

click it

American History X dotcom/weblog (response #3)

More than a decade ago, I remember having to go to my town’s public library to research the country of Venezuela for a sixth grade report. With the help of the librarian, I was able to find a number of books and articles quite easily. I remember having access to a computer at school and at the library for research but it was not as user friendly as today. Looking back on that now, I am envious of the sixth graders today. Venezuela can easily be “googled” and pages after page on the country is a click away. One article can lead to another and the cycle is endless. In the beginning, authors of these websites containing all the information are created by credible individuals with years of experience and expertise on the subject matter. Years later, the growing popularity of weblogs enables a fourteen year old, who has access to a computer and the internet, to log on and become an author of an article. The emergence of weblogs generated new authors with very distinctive voices that do not always focus on facts but mostly on opinions. Since weblogs tend to be opinionated, its linking capabilities facilitate democracy and generate a development in interactive communication.

Donald Matheson writes, “Many webloggers also present a more radical communitarian view, drawing on idealizations of the Internet as a democratic space in which all social actors’ voices may be heard, and where audiences can become active publics” (452). While journalists aim to publish stories that include no partiality; facts are generally presented. With the materialization of weblogs, a person who had just read all the facts, and who also formed his or her opinions, can freely state them online for the public to read. The next step in interactive communication that weblogging makes possible proves to be a significant development because it stimulates different opinions and make them easily accessible for the public.

The purpose of interactive communication is to enable people to easily send and receive information with the use of a machine. There is no better way to send information than making it public or searchable on the Internet, and there is no easier way to receive information than clicking a hypertext. Both features are the frameworks of weblogs. Matheson writes, “ The weblog is a form of writing that is unique to the web, reliant on what is arguably its key characteristic: the hyperlink. It thus allows us to explore the adaptation of journalism to a new context, at some distance from the heavily print-dependent styles of much online news” (445). With the intention of comparing a weblog and a news article online, I searched for Mel Gibson’s recent trouble with the law. I was prompted to either purchase a news article or subscribe to an online newspaper. On the other hand, the weblog I found already had a link to a news article within the body of the log. The news article stated all the facts and contained no hypertexts while the weblog had a very opinionated tone with links to her sources and what I think had contributed to her anger.

As Cass R. Sunstein suggests that:

“As a result of the Internet and other technological developments, many people are increasingly engaged in the process of personalization, limiting their exposure to topics and points of view of their own choosing. They filter in, and out, with unprecedented powers of precision. These developments make life much more convenient and in some ways much better; we all seek to reduce our exposure to uninvited noise, and many of us like to read opinions we find congenial” (58).

Though personalization is a common trend on the Internet and other technological developments, I don’t believe that personalization is a cause of limiting exposures of points of views and I certainly do not agree that people only enjoy reading opinions that they agree with. I believe quite the opposite. In my opinion, personalization creates the unique voice usually stimulated by antagonistic views of those opposing their beliefs. Some people may “filter” but even these people will run out of things to say about their views if they are not reading what their rivals have to say. Despite the fact that some people may side with one faction and intensely oppose another, it should not be assumed that one group is filtering out the other just because their opinions differ.

The growth in popularity of weblogs as a way to interactively communicate information with its content usually based more on opinions than facts, may cause a possible hindrance to democracy by, as Sunstein suggests, polarization . For instance, in the film American History X, the story of a young reformed neo-Nazi advocate, Derek, played by actor Edward Norton confronts his mentor, Cameron, played by Stacey Keach, who tells him of the advancements on their organization while he was in jail. Cameron tells Derek of how things have changed. He says, “You talk about organization, wait ‘till you see what we’ve done to the Internet. We’ve got every gang from Seattle to San Diego working together now. They’re not competing anymore, they’ve consolidated.” The power of the Internet and the user’s potential to manipulate its content are directly connected, therefore the cause and outcome, whether it be a positive or negative development in interactive communication, depends heavily on the users. The Internet should be taken as what it is; an information provider and receiver. While the neo-Nazi’s are able to express their opinions, the opposing faction are also free to express their opinions. If they are curious as to what the other group is up to, they can easily find a link to their weblog.