Friday, December 5, 2008

Last Blog

On the whole, I am very content with the English education I've earned at UNCW, but in my senior seminar this semester I've noticed there is a missing link between me and some of my classmates. As we face the task of creating an online portfolio to reflect our accomplishments in the department, many of my classmates are in panic at creating even the simplest of pages. I am no expert web-page maker, but I'm confused that the levels of technological literacy are so varied among professional writing majors.

I am lucky to have taken classes on technical writing, design, writing and technology, classes that have taught me to maneuver technology with confidence. I have learned to tools of design and layout, such as the CRAP method, as well as how to implement technology such as Camtasia Studios to create an effective tutorial to teach others something. I am thankful for these tools because as I go out into the "real world" I feel confident that I can achieve tasks effectively and in a timely matter.

As for several of my classmates, I wish that they had been encouraged to take some technology classes so they would feel more confident in their degree. The times are changing, and more and more writing is being done online. Magazines hire writers, editors and design staff for strictly online work. One must be proficient in a wide range of softwares, and be able to manipulate his or her writing in a way that can be converted on paper and on a screen. I think that the Professional Writing program should require students to take more technology classes to augment their technological literacy, so that they can be better suited for the working world.

Second-to-last Blog

I have always loved to take pictures, but this semester has brought me closer to the issue of how technology serves our memories and the way we see the world. I like the way that, through a camera lens, I control how others see the world. If I choose to shoot from a downward angle, high above the subject or scene, I can provoke a completely different sentiment in those who view my picture, than if I decide to lay down at the base of a tree and photograph up its long, slim trunk.

Our photo project this semester was a refreshing change from the reading, and I'm grateful that I was forced to go out into parts of Wilmington that I wouldn't normally have gone, and observe and snap photos. I was proud of the pictures I took, and I felt that each were unique to me, despite the fact that another class member may have taken a similar photo. Working backwards, I'll first discuss the image on the far right (of the above three) that I took at the playground at Greenfield Lake. This picture has a lot of meaning to be because I will always remember that I took it while crawling around a jungle jim, and sliding through plastic tubes on my stomach. I am no small girl, so the sight of it was probably rather alarming, but the experience was priceless. I was alone on the playground, except for two small children, no older than four, so I was free to play like a kid. I swung on the swing set, slid down the slide. I'm graduating in a week, and it was so refreshing to play and take pictures that reflected the childlike simplicity of an empty playground. The photograph I showed here is of the inside of a multi-colored slide. I like it because, somehow, through the lens of the camera, the fact that it is a slide is lost. It could be anything, it could stand for something significant, something meaningful. For me, it is a daily reminder not to forget to play a little bit every day.

The second photograph represents the summer of 2007 which I spent abroad in Dijon, France. I lived with a kind widow Madame Devoux, and her cat whose name I can't remember. My time spent in France was the most enriching of my life. I have studied french for the last ten years, and can speak it fluently. It was my first experience overseas, so my senses were piqued and I wanted to take everything in that I could. I had classes every day except Saturdays and Sundays, so it was hard to find time to travel and I'd often beat myself over not going into Paris enough, or visiting surrounding countries due to my schoolwork, but I realized toward the end of the trip that the quiet, simple moments were what I would remember most. On sunny afternoons, I used to sit with my host mother in her backyard and discuss literature and politics, and she would hum and play with her cat. She had a beautiful garden and we would pick cherries from her cherry tree for dessert each night. This is a photograph I took of one of the flowers in her garden against the slate-colored sky of an on-coming storm. Each time I see it, I am back in Madame Devoux's garden, where I find beauty in simplicity and peacefulness. 

Finally, the first picture I chose to discuss is a photograph taken in 1989 of me and my father and my two older sisters. We're standing on a beach in Massachusetts in the wintertime. I love this photograph because it's one of those childhood photographs that depicts only contentment and love. Though I often complain about how technology ruins some of the "magic" of family moments or making memories, a camera is to thank for this beautiful image of my father and sisters that brings me comfort, and makes me happy. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's In a Hologram? Response to TIME magazine article "Whiteboards Out. Holograms In"

In TIME magazine article, "Whiteboards Out, Hollograms In," writer James Poniewozik addresses the re-illumination of election-night news and its anchors through their use of some rather off-the-wall, new technologies. The everyday news-viewing experience is often littered with plenty of techie gadgets, but the 2008 election saw some remarkable, occasionally overwhelming methods of providing (or, sort of providing) the news.

Poniewozik's thesis is driven in the line, "On the other hand, the election night also showcased how T.V. has successfully used technology to explain complicated subjects." Before this particular statement, he discusses "the special effects" of election night, such as "3-D graphics sprouted out of studio floors," and holograms, and seems to be asking, is all of this really necessary? In the aforementioned statement, he captures his thesis by taking in all of the information, and asking why it works or why it's a waste of time. His suggestion that the technology helps to explain complicated subjects is certainly true--at least, it is in my opinion. Though I took AP Government in high school, I am still shaky on the calculations that go in to the electoral college, and the issue of House/Senate seats and percentages confuses me beyond explanation. With the assistance of certain technologies, though, I am more easily able to comprehend this information. On CNN, for example, I was able to watch the anchor touch and color the Senate/House seats as the results came in. A 3-D image of the seats appeared on my T.V. screen and it was as easy as counting colored boxes in a line. Technology also allowed me to see the breakdown of city/county votes of every state in the United States. (After learning that my home state Virginia had gone blue-- I was able to see, within seconds, that my hometown had gone blue as well. This gave all the more reason to celebrate.)

As Poniewozik draws his article to a close, he acknowledges that we lived in a different world than the Tim Russerts, and Walter Cronkites did. Chalk boards and whiteboards have been phased out, and been replaced by newer, cleaner technology that offers three times the convenience and no hassle of markers that run out of ink. All that said, the election is now over, we have a new president-elect, but it's no easy time. We cannot pack up the holograms, shut off the computer screens, and tune out, but instead, must stay focused on the task at hand. This country needs healing in many ways: economically, socially, environmentally, and it's time that we turn our attention, energy and all of this amazing technology to get some real answers, and get to work.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Our recent photography assignment has propelled the issue of pairing writing and photography to the forefront of  my mind. Somehow, despite the fact that I am a writing major, I have never seriously considered the role of photography as it pertains to written text. But where are we without images alongside our words? Would an expose be as effective if there weren't pictures of the starving children, or the storm survivors that are central to the piece? In my English senior seminar with Dr. Huntley, we just finished reading Jed Horne's Breach of Faith, a journalistic exploration of what happened in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. After reading, we viewed Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke" and have 
begun to delve into why these texts are so insightful when placed side-by-side.

In Breach of Faith, Horne strives to provide an objective and detailed account, including
personal accounts, meteorology, politics, and engineering, to highlight why and how the natural
disaster of a hurricane, either before it hit, while in the eye or in the aftermath, became unnatural.
Lee's documentary, while just as objective as Horne's text, seeks to achieve something vastly different.
The story of Lee's "requiem" lies in the voice and on the faces of Katrina's victims. When put together,
the viewer is given a complete pan of the disaster, how it grew to such a high caliber, and why it didn't
have to be that way. 

When comparing a written text to a piece of photography or film, I think the fundamental
question that needs to be asked is, what are the roles of investigative journalism, and documentary
film? Are their objectives that different? In the instance of these two texts, I find they share a subject
matter, but seek to effect their viewers/readers in different ways. There certain aspects of tragedy 
that are better told from the mouths and faces of the survivors, and other points that are 
explained more fully from a removed, strictly factual point of view.

Though my reading illuminated a lot of political, and socio-economic aspects of pre- and post-storm
Katrina, I preferred the connection I felt to "When the Levees Broke" due to visual stimulation. As I
watched men, women and children wade through chest-deep water, as I saw bits of the great city of
New Orleans float away, I was emotionally shaken to tears, anger, and guilt.

I realize that I am rambling, but I am just slowly learning that photography and film play a big role in the realm of writing. I am also realizing that in instances where images are unavailable or irrelevant, the written word must be strong enough to stand on its own. To create images so vivid that readers don't need a picture to imagine what the situation is like. I am looking forward to taking more photographs, letting my words tell the stories they cannot, and letting pictures bring my words to life.

You Can Find Me Skypin'

A few weekends ago, my best friend and I were complaining about missing one another, and never getting enough time to spend face-to-face. This is normal and quite frequent conversation for us. We can catch up by phone but distractions alway seem to pop up and interrupt our conversation. So, we decided to replace our usual complaining with action, and stumbled upon Skype. We are now addicted to Skype, a web-based software that allows us to see each other while we talk through internet calling. The thing I have discovered about Skype, especially its video feature, is that somehow it is easier for me to schedule a Skype session than to orchestrate a successful phone call.

Most members use Skype for its unlimited, free Skype-to-Skype calls, but it has many other features. Users can get great rates on national and international calls, text messages, voicemail, an online number and call forwarding. These allow users and their friends to contact each other anytime, anywhere. Skype is also great for businesses, because conference calls can become actual conferences where ideas can be transmitted in a simulated round-table discussion. Skype is offered in 28 languages and is used is nearly every country in the world. 

As I think about this web technology, I am reminded of today's group presentation on GrandCentral, because, as noted in the presentation, GrandCentral was already outdated when it was released. Skype, which was introduced in 2003, and others like it, have been offering similar if not better services for quite some time. 

I prefer the video-calling feature because I love to see the faces of the people I love. With Skype, my best friend can show me her new apartment, and she can see how big my dog has gotten. Though these things seem insignificant, they are important to me. I have been over 400 miles away from my friends and family for the past three years, and it's difficult for me accept that our daily lives have very little to do with one another. I am the first to acknowledge when a technology is extravagant or unnecessary, and I don't think Skype is one of these. It's hard enough to stay in touch with loved ones to then have to worry about ever-increasing phone rates. Instead, all we have to do is log on and we are instantly connected.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thank You!

Dear Ian (Last Name?! Eek!),

Thank you so much for visiting our class last week. Forgive the fact that we aren't the rowdiest bunch; we are, after all, in a writing and technology class!

I enjoyed your talk last week due to the fact that it was both informative and informal. It's rare that a guest speaker visits one of my classes and sits (at the class' level) and talks with us about common interests as if we were having a conversation. Your approach to a sometimes confusing and alienating topic made it all the more inviting. 

The topic of writing and technology is an odd one in my mind. I must admit that I resent technology at times. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate all that it has done and continues to do to expand the possibilities for every facet of life, but sometimes I wish I could cut out all the background noise--even the click of my own fingers typing--and just write. A pencil, a sheet of paper, and pure inspiration, I assume, would be all I need to create the perfect line, the most compelling story.

I keep coming back to a theme of both your talk and the material we have studied this semester, that technology is constantly evolving, being molded to fit the needs and desires of an ever-changing world. I am thankful, for example, that medical-technology advancements are being made to meet the rise in breast cancer in recent years (now one in seven women said to be affected), but I'm not so cheerful about all the new gadgets that are labeled necessities. My boyfriend, who used to be notorious for leaving his cell phone at home, recently purchased a BlackBerry and was instantly attached to its buttons. He doesn't leave home without it--in fact, he doesn't do much of anything without it. Now, in the evenings, a time which he used to spend reading or writing, he spends clicking and scrolling away on his BlackBerry. My point? I'm not sure I have one except to ask that these technologies help us, give us directions when we're lost, but how do they limit us? This was also brought up when we talked about security devices and monitoring devices, such as a the crime-trackers, as technology to be considered. When do we reach the point where we pause and ask if this technology is helping or hurting us. There may not be an answer, perhaps not yet, but I wanted you to know that your talk has propelled me to continue thinking about these things. 

I may not always be up-to-date with the newest software and technologies, but I do keep my eye on them. I will never stop asking questions, whether in my head or aloud, because I think they are important. In my opinion, there are aspects of our lives to be experienced without all the strings (or PDAs) attached, but at the same time, there are elements of technology that improve the quality of our lives in many ways. I feel a little bit like I am on one of those radio call-in shows--they would label me Weary of Technology in Wilmington-- but I simply want to challenge the notion that we always need to be "well connected" to get by. I hope there is at least a small sliver of hope for those of us who still like the feel of real paper between our fingers.

Thanks again for visiting! Good luck with all that the future holds!


Lia Kerner

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Posting Blogs and Taking Names: Obama's Fancy, Flashy "Cybergenic Edge"

I have to admit that I discovered ABC News writer Paul Saffo's article as a result of countless Google searches involving phrases such as "today's hottest technology" and "article on technology." Needless to say, I wasn't feeling too inspired or creative. When I found Saffo's "Obama's 'Cybergenic' Edge" I was immediately interested--most likely because John F. Kennedy's name appears within the first sentence, but because I felt the topic of technology should be a crucial issue in the 2008 election. It is nonsensical to suggest the leader of our country need not know how e-mail works, or how to conduct a simple search in Google. Paul Saffo addresses this very point by suggesting that Barack Obama has a "cybergenic edge" over John McCain.

Cybergenic, Saffo explains, is today's equivalent of what Kennedy and Nixon strove for in 1960-- to be mediagenic, the ability to "reach through a T.V. camera and grab the attention and votes of passive voters" ( As mass T.V. media fades, it is being rapidly replaced (heck, it was long ago replaced) by the media of the Web and cyberspace. According to Saffo, a political candidate now must be able to "surf, blog, IM and twitter their way into the hearts of activist "netizens."" A fact that hurt Hillary Clinton in her campaign for the Presidency. While Clinton's campaign was too heavily focused on mass media of T.V., Obama's campaign moved in swiftly, conquering "the world of cyberspace," a large part of why, in Saffo's opinion, Obama won the nomination. Saffo credits much of the record-shattering numbers in fundraising money leveraged by the Obama campaign to its web span--reaching to cyber-junkies all over the country.

The discourse of the importance of technology is also a study of the evolution of technology. In a section entitled, "From Firesides to Firewalls," Saffo discusses how each President has had his own personal technological shtick. For Franklin D. Roosevelt it was the the radio, for Lydon Johnson it was his "green vinyl helicopter pilot's chair with a built-in ashtray" that he used as his desk chair. History, then, reveals in plain speak that technology plays a role in the legacy of each leader, and in the 21st century, this idea cannot be more true. Even in his campaign, Obama has not only covered miles on land, but endless territory in cyberspace, spreading his name through the popular "Yes We Can" YouTube video, and his energetic and attractive website.

Some may cast the issue off as "no big deal," and true, it's certainly not as important as which candidate possesses the leadership skills to pull our country away from an economic depression. But the issue of technology should not be cast aside in this election. If so many forms of our everyday lives are being turned digital-- our relationships, our books, music, movies, all of our interests-- shouldn't the leader of our country be at least familiar with the jargon of it all? Shouldn't he be able to send an e-mail? When it comes down to it the real issue is that if one candidate-- who just so happens to fit the profile of John McCain-- is unfamiliar with these things, could he also be quite out of step with society, one that is teeming with talk of technological advances and their products? Saffo admits that he will be very surprised if Obama isn't elected President on November 4th, and I have to agree. "Let us hope," Saffo writes in closing, "that Obama's cybergenic instincts enable the first cybergenic president to govern as effectively as he ran" (


Monday, September 29, 2008

Kindle: You Too Can Rid The World of Books for Only $359.99

Kindle hits close to home. I am an avid reader, and I have devoted all of my studies to writing and editing. After college, I want to go into book publishing-- that would be real books, with covers and real pages. As if the the why-read-when-you-can-WATCH-reality-television mentality and the sad economic state of our country as of late weren't enough, Amazon's newest technology, Kindle, is at least toying with the idea of ruining my future--and my day.

Introduced in November of 2007, Kindle is marketed as a convenient, portable reading device that is able to wirelessly download more than 170,000 books as well as national and international magazines, blogs and more. According to Amazon's website, Kindle was created to provide a reading experience like none other, with its electronic paper, a technology that gives readers the natural feel of reading off of real paper without the strain or glare of reading from a computer screen.

Kindle is available anywhere because it is wireless and doesn't require a computer for syncing or downloading. With 3G network, material is delivered from source to Kindle via a wireless delivery system called Whispernet anytime, anywhere. Great, right? Want to read a 600+ page book but don't feel like lugging it around? Kindle weighs only 10.3 pounds and is roughly the size of a small novel. 

Even as I write this, I must admit it sounds pretty enticing. If you finish a book while on vacation and don't have access to another book, you can download another onto your Kindle. You can download a book in the car, while doing dishes, even in the shower. What more could avid readers want? Toni Morrison supports Kindle, so why can't I? 

When I was young, me and my sisters trailed along after my mother to the public library every week to check out books. So, since a very early age, I have experienced the wonder of reading, and the excitement of exploring a new book. I love cracking the spine of a brand new book, I love the feel of the pages, I love holding a book between my fingers. It sounds dramatic, but it's true. The act of flipping the pages, skipping forward and back at leisure, is all part of the experience. Books are important! They must be saved!

Some would argue that if a Kindle will encourage more people to read, it has served its purpose, and this is true. I just don't think our society needs another technological crutch, this one ensuring our personal educations are not only sound, but available 24/7 in 6 different fonts, in varying sizes. Perhaps Kindle is the future of books, and a more successful avenue to develop readership than real books are, but as for me, give me a paperback any day. My reading shouldn't be affected by a battery-life or an available server. Plus, a book can be dropped without its screen cracking, and when is the last time your favorite book malfunctioned? I am resentful of technologies like Kindle because I think they feed into our society's Veruca-Salt-like tendency to scream "I want it nowwwww." If you ask me, as big of a book worm as I am, there is a time for reading, and a time for being outside, a time for interacting socially, a little time for movies. It's even biblical, there is a time for everything. I just don't ever want to make time or what little room is necessary for a Kindle in my life. I'll take my books and my paper cuts and I will like them just the same.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

4D Sonograms, Pregnancy: Not Just For the Ladies Anymore

I was fascinated after reading Kelly's blog about 4D sonograms. I am one of eight children,  so I am familiar with the apparently "old school" black and white fuzzy images that my mother used to present to us proudly with every pregnancy. (We still laugh about the sonogram picture of youngest brother Aidan that bore a striking resemblance to Elmer Fudd.) The idea that expectant parents can see their babies in such detail may seem excessive or unnecessary at first. But to some, like Kelly's husband who is serving in Iraq and is able to see digital images of his growing baby girl from thousands of miles away, the 4D sonogram technology is both heartwarming and beneficial.

My only question is why the FDA wouldn't fully approve of the 4D sonogram--could it pose any harm for those who chose to get one? Is it not officially approved just because it has no medical relation and neither helps nor hinders the mother?

To be honest, I replied to this particular blog entry because I have pregnancy on the mind. Good gracious, not for me, personally, but because I recently heard that it is physically (and medically) possible for a man to carry a baby up to 3 months of a pregnancy! As I looked into it, I found myself on the website of the RYT Hospital-Dwayne Medical Center, the center treating the first pregnant male, Lee Mengwei. According to the website, the RYT Center has been working to establish a viable method for successfully impregnating males ever since the first "test-tube baby" was born in the late 70s. 

First, doctors administered oral hormones to ensure Mr. Lee's body would be receptive to the pregnancy. Then, using in vitro fertilization, an embryo and placenta were implanted into Mr. Lee's lower abdominal cavity, where he currently carries the healthy, growing fetus. Anyone interested can log onto the website and see recent photos, read Mr. Lee's pregnancy journal and even check his recent vitals. Though a due date has not been released, the delivery will take place in the form of a Cesarean C-Section open surgery. Removal of the placenta is said to be one of the most dangerous procedures, and can lead to hemorrhaging and serious damage to internal organs.

The RYT Center is not accepting any new patients for the procedure, explaining that "male pregnancy is still in its experimental phase and will not be available to the public in the immediate future." A big relief, because I know a few guys who are just dying to experience child birth, no matter the form. 

Honestly, do men need to have babies? Is it essential? Whether you are an Evolutionist or a Creationist, you must believe that somehow human females were deemed the child-bearers, why mess with nature? If you ask me--despite the fact that it's kind of cool that Arnold's "Junior" may be becoming a reality-- any time, money and energy put into this kind of research is not well spent. With the statistics of diseases such as breast cancer--1 in 8 women experience the disease-- our society cannot afford to pour money down the drain just so working women can side-step morning sickness. It's all part of the beautiful and scary process of pregnancy, its its raw, natural form.

Most of all, it looks gross--sorry guys. Spend your time paying for your wives to get 4D sonograms and you can continue to enjoy the wonders of pregnancy from at least a few feet away rather than inside your own body. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Campaign Strategy: A few quick clicks

Name: David Dangelico

Race: Caucasian

Gender: Male

Age: 21

Hometown: Wilmington, North Carolina

Education: Senior, Political Science Major, UNCW

Current Occupation: UNCW Campus Chair, Students for Obama

                                        Volunteer, Obama for America

L: How big of a role would you say technology plays in your everyday life, as well as currently with your career in campaigning?

D: I'd say it plays a large role in every aspect of my life. Especially in the campaign process, as a lot of what I do is centered around constantly being in contact with my superiors, other volunteers and being up-to-date on the most recent developments.

L: What would you say are the top two most valuable pieces of technology to your career and why?

D:  I would have to say the VoteBuilder program is the most valuable, then definitely my BlackBerry.

L: What is the VoteBuilder program?

D: The VoteBuilder program is a database that political campaigns, and specifically the Obama campaign, use in order to access up-to-date voter information. A large part of my job is voter registration; getting people registered to go out to the polls in November, as well as voter persuasion. When a person is registered to vote, and he or she puts down their political affiliation as either Democrat or Unaffiliated, his or her information is put into VoteBuilder. VoteBuilder keeps track of e-mail addresses and contact information for those who have expressed interest in Obama's campaign. Our volunteers as well as myself then log into VoteBuilder and make phone calls, and use the information found on VoteBuilder to acquire volunteers, grow support and easily distribute information, such as where one-stop early voting takes place, to voters.

L: Where did this program come from, and why do you think it was created?

D: VoteBuilder is part of a series of programs called Election Central, created specifically with political campaigns in mind. What I like about it is that each page of the program can be customized to fit just my needs. If I'm in charge of making phone calls one week, it can be arranged so that all the names and phone numbers I need are displayed clearly for me.

L: You identified the second most important piece of technology as your BlackBerry. What role does it play in your campaigning schedule?


D: While I am a new to my BlackBerry--or if we're on the street, Crackberry-- I'm already addicted. It's essential because it keeps me in touch with everyone 24/7. If something happens on the campaign trail, I don't have to wait to get to a computer or T.V. to get the news. My BlackBerry has Wi-Fi, so it doesn't depend on typical cell phone service coverage. Wherever I can connect to a wireless network, I have immediate access to my e-mail, the internet--VoteBuilder in particular. With the two, I can make important campaign calls between classes, or while walking around BestBuy.

L: How do you think technologies--like VoteBuilder and BlackBerry--have changed the way political campaigns are run? Have they made campaigns more or less successful?

D: I think that they've both made it tremendously successful in every way. VoteBuilder makes it easier for us to know who to reach. Before programs like that, it was knock on every door, call every number--which really wasted a lot of time. It has allowed those of us who work in the campaign field--as well as many other occupations--to reach more people in less time. BlackBerrys--cell phones in general--give us a mobility that we never had. I don't have to sit at my desk and make calls on a phone that's connected to the wall. I can go anywhere and still be able to reach and be reached by whoever I want. We also reach voters via text message, with alerts and information, so with a few easy clicks we can contact supporters in the community and around the country without ever actually talking.

L: In what ways have they changed your personal experiences as a campaigner?

Well, I'd have to say that internet in general opens so many doors for getting the truth out there. As made obvious by my occupation, I am an Obama supporter whose father is a staunch Republican refusing to consider putting a Democrat in office, for fear of many things, but namely an increase in his taxes. The other day one of my superiors gave me the web address for, a website that allows viewers to input their own personal tax information and an e-calculator then calculates the amount of money that Obama's tax cuts will provide for them. I sent my father this link via e-mail on my BlackBerry and within minutes, he was texting me about the website and how it calculated he would actually save almost a thousand dollars with Obama's plan. His response was, "Well this certainly makes Obama more appealing." That fact is ground-breaking coming from someone who has argued politics with me since I was sixteen. It astounds me as I think about how easy we have it now, compared to how difficult it must have been for die-hard campaigners of the past. But, I'm just glad we're able to get the Truth out, and that people are getting excited about the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.