Poverty and Privilege

Yesterday, I read a Washington Post article, A Lonely Road, about a young, black, mother, who lives in poverty and the struggles she — and others in similar situations — face as she searches for employment.

This paragraph stood out to me particularly:

“The others in Scott’s life were largely out of touch. One of Scott’s siblings had just gotten out of prison; another was in the military. Scott’s old boyfriend — Za’Niyah’s father — was who knows where, out of contact for a year and probably for good. Scott, who long ago lost contact with her mother, spent many years in the foster system and several more with her grandmother, sharing the home Immediately after I read this paragraph, I realized that I was something I would have never considered myself — privileged. with 15 others.”

“A Lonely Road,” is a beautifully written long form article that made me hyper-aware of my own privilege as a child of educated, employed, middle class, parents. I have a vast network of employed family and friends, many of whom would be willing and are assisting me in various ways. I realized my situation would be much more similar to this woman’s were it not for that network. I’m very grateful.

Reading about the early feminism movement 

In my ample free time, i.e. time I should have been doing graduate school work, I’ve been reading Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman. It’s fascinating non-fiction about William Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, the women of his life (all of them were feminists and birth control advocates) and their influence on what later became the Wonder Woman comic strip.

They were all amazing women — all white, all middle and upper class. Continue reading

Weak Ties and London

I came across the term weak ties in Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson. Weak ties are people within your network, social or physical real, who are not your close friends. Thompson says,”In a world of status updates, tangential, seemingly minor ties become part of your social fabric. And they can bring in some extremely useful information.”

Reading about this made me think about my trip to London this past summer. It was wonderful, btw, and I can’t wait for an opportunity to return, but a huge part of that is due in no small part to my connection with an associate who was studying abroad in London at the same time.

I posted on Facebook that I planned to make an impromptu trip to London at the end of my own study abroad trip to Ireland. My “weak tie,” a former teammate from undergrad saw the post and responded, saying that he would be in London at the same time I was planning to go there. It was to most serendipitous thing!

Books and New Media: Super Sad True Love Story

My last post about new media and culture, RE: Mockingjay Part I, was well received, so I thought I’d do another one concerning my favorite subject ever… Books!

I read Super Sad True Love Story last year. It is so obviously a satire of our current situation as a nation that it’s more uncomfortable than funny.

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Everyone carries around these devices, äppäräts, the ultimate smart phone. They even can aggregate all the data produced by and about you, compare it to those around you, and spit out “hotness” and “compatibility” scores. The apparat then projects these scores constantly to all the apparats around you at all times. Imagine that your Klout score was taped to your forehead. Eek! If you haven’t calculated your Klout score… Don’t.

Needless to say this was another example of a possible path advanced tech can take that also freaks me out. The tech of itself seems fine i.e., not a weapon, but the characters dependence upon devices to determine other characters worth and value was terrifying! I was reminded of Sheryl Turkle’s Alone Together.

Reading this book, just like watching Mockingjay, made me wonder if society as a whole is really thinking about where technology is headed and if that’s a place we actually want to go. It’s the passive acceptance attitude of the characters in these works and in the real world that is just a little unnerving.

World AIDS Day 2014

Speaking of missing journalism, I was first introduced to World AIDS Day when fulfilling the last journalism requirement for my bachelors. I did a Storify of activities in the D.C. area throughout the day. Writing the story and compiling the Storify attached me to cause. It has been close to my heart for several years now.

You can find the link to my original story here.

To learn more about World AIDS Day or to donate click here.

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Surprise! I Miss Journalism

I never thought I’d say that. Ever.

I thought I had chosen the wrong major, but my scholarship wouldn’t pay for me to reroute and take a fifth year, so I trudged through. Once I graduated I never looked back… Until a month ago.

I have been participating in a Twitter chat with the American Copy Editors Society, ACES. (The hashtag is #ACESchat. They’re every other Wednesday. The next one is December 3, just FYI.)

I love them.

I look forward to them. They’re the highlight of my week. I love taking an hour out of my day to just talk editing with other people who regard it highly. That’s uncommon, even among journalists. I’m planning to attend their conference in March 2015.

Then two weeks ago a professor of mine asked my class to live tweet a political panel of journalists who’d covered the midterm election. My heart soared to hear so much journo talk. After, my professor told me that he could tell that I missed journalism.

I thought,

“no I don’t… Do I? I miss journalism? I miss journalism!”

I still can’t believe it. I’m slowly starting to accept it’s truth though and I’m making plans to get back in the swing of things very shortly. We’ll see how it goes.

Am I alone in this? Did you ever leave something you thought you’d never miss and then suddenly miss it?

The Key to this is Monopoly

New Media Studies is a very broad field of study; its students could end up just wondering through different classes without really creating a coherent set of skills for themselves. In order to avoid that, my professor challenged us to critically examine our plans for our time here at DePaul and present them creatively, by drawing a map.

Here’s a good time for me to make a confession. I am NOT creative. The simplest of creative tasks are usually quite challenging for me, so I’m quite proud of the creative spurt I had during this class.

An example of a plan of courses and skills for a student of new media studies

The Monopoly inspired plan I created for my Proseminar class. Please click to enlarge.

I was inspired by my favorite childhood board game, Monopoly. I turned each cluster of classes or skills into a square on the board. All the squares were given names based the cluster it represented plus a street, drive, circle, boulevard, etc. in in order to go along with the names of properties in Monopoly. It also includes a “DISTRACTION!” square which is the equivalent of jail and Internship and Graduation squares which are similar  to chance. Of course, I gave the Dream Job Boulevard the same space as the most coveted Boardwalk in the real game.

When I shared my design with the class a few of my colleagues found it interesting, so I thought I would share it here as well. My classmate Robert, of Robert’s Hilarious Design Blog, said the Monopoly game was a good idea because life is like it, a mix of good and bad.

I’m so glad for this assignment. It really helped me see exactly what my goals are. After feeling like I spent the entirety of my undergraduate career confused, clarity is a beautiful thing.

Drawing a Blank… I forget everything

So of course the week I volunteer to be one of the class discussion leaders I have nothing. The reading was not cool or interesting and I had the hardest time coming up with something dynamic to engage my class. Yay for me! The following is my attempt at questions to stimulate the discussion my class will have later:

Before reading this I had never thought of the computer as an encyclopedia, but now more than ever we turn to our computers whenever we have questions. Nine out of ten conversations I have with my mother at some point one of us says, “let’s just google it.” Our computers remember everything for us. I know only two phone numbers by heart, my mother’s and my grandmother’s. I have hundreds of numbers stored in my phone though. Not just phone numbers but email addresses and physical addresses as well. I don’t even try to remember things anymore. I just store them on my computer and go on with my day.

Do our computers allow us to forget everything?

In a different class we talked about the idea of trust. We just trust that our machines and networks will work properly although we don’t really understand how they work or know how to repair them if the malfunction. A primary example is an ATM. We simply trust that the ATM and its network will just know that we deposited $200 and our online bank account will reflect.

Do we trust these machines to remember forever?

We know these. They're all over campus. And when we see them we assume that when we use them they will work.

We know these. They’re all over campus. And when we see them we assume that when we use them they will work.

What happens on that God forsaken day when we wake up and the computers have decided to forget everything too?