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paper prototyping:

Audience à

–       potential social activists (or activist groups) who are looking for ways to utilize implement social media groups

–       anyone trying to know more about uncut

–       researchers trying to understand more about the impact of social media

–       people interested in social media

Why à

–       These groups will be interested in social media, grassroots activism, or the Uncut movement, itself. It could also incorporate any combination of these interests.

 

Actions we want our audience accomplish à

–       Learn about uncut and how they are successfully used Facebook to spread their message

–       gain tools to better utilize social media

–       understand how small ideas can transform into real action J

–       contribute // share // inform

What we found à

We had other group members look at our website and try to navigate through our paper prototype, and we found (happily) that they were able to easily complete simple tasks that we asked them to do. Such examples of our tasks were:

–       “If you wanted to find out more information about UNCUT where would you go?”

–       “If you wanted to find out more information about where UNCUT got started, where would you go?”

–       “If you wanted to find out more information about how UNCUT evolved where would you go?”

–       “If you wanted to find out more information about how to use social media to help your cause, where would you go?”

Audience Persona and Paper Prototypes

Our blog is geared towards liberal minded men, women, transgender and gender-queer individuals.  Some other markets include HIPS activists, student activists, LGBT/feminist activists.  Other people may come across our blog through a search engine if they are searching terms which are also tagged in our blog.  Thus the reasons for reading our blog would be: education, consciousness-raising, interest in sex workers rights/advocacy or activism in genderal, as well as accidental curiosity.  We hope that our blog will at least get people thinking about our issues and challenge their assumptions as well as dominant stereotypes. We want our blog to be an open forum for discussion.

Here are the paper prototypes for our blog:

We want our site to be user friendly and for our visitors to be able to easily:

*Access the world map and the information that it provides.

*Access our blog entries

*Leave comments

*Contact us if need be

Through our research using the paper prototypes, we found that our classmates were able to easily access all necessary information.  This exercise did raise a few questions such as whether we want the world map to be embedded or have a pop-out box. We are also considering having a submission form for readers to send us comments/questions.

Leslie’s LOA

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I have noticed how fast-moving and technology-charged my life is right now. There is a new medium to get information out faster than dialing the phone. My generation has many diverse ways to get things out into the world in a matter of seconds. I am living in this so-called, “new school” generation where I am constantly being bombarded with advertisements, texts, emails, tweets, Facebook, WiFi, blackberry messages (bbm), iPhone, iTunes, iPads, and so on. This was an exciting semester because I participated in a movement of social change with feminist scholars and thinkers of media. I was pleased to not use blackboard for once, but rather blogger, a public online site for class multimedia presentations, class preparation and review. Blogger, as well as storyboard helped me understand the different kinds on media available on the web today.  This Women’s Studies senior seminar helped me study patterns of knowledge across social sectors that I was vaguely familiar with at the start of the semester.

What skills did I learn from this class? I have asked myself a better question: Am I tech-savvy? Have I learned everything I wanted to learn? Have I learned the tools needed to express my concerns online? Have I done my best to challenge myself? This class has helped me learn how to use my abilities to solve problems in group settings, work in a team of people different from me, understand perspectives different from my own, and interact comfortably with people. I have learned to develop strong communication skills, teamwork skills, problem solving skills, and organizational skills. Connecting through social media can spark spectacular relationships by linking groups, communities, friends, mentors, and employees. I have strong interpersonal and social networking skills that will facilitate every job offer I will potentially receive, and friends I will eventually make.

Have I joined the circle of scholarship and practice with feminist visions? I think I have. My group members and I created a project based around the oppression faced by women in the University of Maryland first-year book “Half the Sky.” The women in this book are from all over the world and face multiple cruelty from genital mutilation to sex-trafficking. How were we going to promote this book on the web? Twitter, Tumblr, wordpress, storyboarding, and google docs. I suggested Google Docs to my group members because it is a useful tool to upload, share, and store documents online. This tool helps with storing and editing powerpoints and files on Microsoft word. The other major social media tools we used aided with completing a successful project used for communication about the book “Half the Sky” on the web. I am proud of spreading the awareness of International Women, moreover I am proud of the prototype we created for our project.

Jana Young’s LOA Packet

In this class we’ve talked about how women and gender intersect with social media. Throughout the class it has seemed that women using social media as a tool for empowerment has been a major theme. Social media has become a useful and far reaching tool. It spans age gaps and multicultural gaps. Through things like “Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out”, people have been able to transform media tools to express themselves, make a change, and create interesting and meaningful social and intellectual contributions. Social media has also provided an outlet and safe haven for marginalized and other wise oppressed groups in society. Social media has created social networks of support that span continents for members of the LGBTQQIA community who otherwise would not have the opportunity to connect and relate with a robust and supportive group. Social media has made being a marginalized population easier because it gives a voice and sense of agency to people who may not feel they have a voice.

Although social media has been a relatively positive tool for marginalized populations, there is an inherent power that accompanies use and knowledge of social media practices. As Saski Sassen mentioned at the “Theororizing the Web” conference, there is a power differential that comes into play when dealing with the internet. It assumes that the people using social media have privilege and access to these tools, but it does not mean that this knowledge is inherently better. Also, in the research included in “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out”, they mention that the number of computers in low income schools is disproportionately lower than in higher income schools. Although public library computers are available, the simple lack of access to social media may create a disproportionate representation of marginalized populations.

This course has been the culmination of several Women’s Studies courses and has reinforced ideas of intersectionality, post-modernism, and using technology as a means to further enhance the study and practice of all things women’s studies. In respects to this class, we’ve analyzed messages about how social media can be a tool for social justice (Zandt’s “Share This!”), the ecologies of social media and young adults (Ito et al. “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out”), and how social media is changing the face of scholarship worldwide (Theororizing the Web Conference). Through these critical analyses of social media’s impact on culture and gender, we’ve also incorporated ideas about defying binaries (Wilchins), public happiness and activism, and our own agency of women’s studies and social justice.

Over the span of the semester we’ve studied scholarly literature and critiqued the work in relation to ourselves and our beliefs. We’ve learned how to create coherent and logical arguments by connecting scholarly theories to one another and current events. Instead of regurgitating information we’ve been taught to bring a critical eye to everything we hear including and especially what is presented in class. We have also learned to be critical of ourselves. The projects we’ve been working on have been edited, redrafted, and added to several times to refine the message we want to convey and to merry scholarship and practice. By story boarding our progress and making weekly updates we’ve taken the creative process and made it tangible. We were able to present the early stages of our projects at the Theororizing the Web Conference that took place earlier in the semester. It was an intellectually stimulating conference that had speakers from around the country who had a varying set of interests.

Jojo’s LOA Packet

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So here is my LOA containing what I learned from the course and my opinion on the course fulfilling the department requirements. My partner, Rafaela, will post the answers and corresponding pictures to the list of items placed on the board last wednesday.

-Jojo

Jojo’s LOA

What I learned?

In experiencing this course I learned many things through the class itself as well as the development of our project. Both were inherent mechanisms to further my knowledge and education in my last semester of college. The project had me delve into and become intimately familiar with various forms of social media. While the course had me learning about the different applications of social media to various forms of daily life.

Working on my group project was a continual learning experience for me. I started off by learning about blogger. I had never used a blog previous to this project. This meant I had to learn about  formatting the page, privacy settings, posting settings, etc. It was tough at first and I know I made allot of mistakes. It was also frustrating when I had finally got it perfect because we then decided to change our project topic so I had to change everything all over again.
Once I had finally managed blogger I expanded to Tumblr. I was grateful I started on blogger because Tumblr was even more complicated. It took me a while to find a format for my tumblr that would display my content as clearly as possible. Also I had to again work on the privacy settings so the page would be accessible to as many people as possible. Finally figuring out how to link it to blogger to the tumblr was a puzzle for me. I wanted to show enough content to entice people to visit my blog but not to post verbatim the contents of the blog onto Tumblr. I also wanted the contents to upload from the blogger to tumblr as quickly as possible. This was harder to figure out but I finally got the delay between uploads to only be a few hours which I feel is a huge accomplishment.
Finally I learned about the new facebook groups. Which I have to say are alot less asthetically pleasing and efficient then then old ones. You can’t really tell what the group is about and you don’t get a choice if you join it or not. I wasn’t able to link it to the blogger either so I just had to post the blogger link to the group and hope that  people would get the idea. I have to say that coming to the end of the semester my knowledge and skill concerning the utilization of social media has expanded exponentially.
Beyond my personal work on the blog I also learned allot through the conference and classroom discussions. During our portion of the conference I got allot of feedback on our project concerning the blog giving me allot of ideas for things I hadn’t thought of. Such as various ways to better advertise the blog and other people to contact to contribute content. The conference itself broadened my knowledge of all the various ways in which social media can be used. For example the woman who talked about the marriage cast matching sites and how social media is being used to perpetuate the cast system. I had never though of expanding the scope of social media to that degree. Class discussion and the readings contributed to the expansion of my knowledge concerning social media as well. For example when reading Digital Media and Democracy I hadn’t thought about how much news people take from comedy central news shows such as The Daily Show. Also in reading this article I was impressed with how quickly news spreads through what they called the “blogosphere”. How in this new generation social media and the Internet are the mechanisms used to raise awareness and create a social outcry.
Did the Course fulfill the department requirements?
In class we talked about how this course is considered a scholarship in practice course by the university. The university has certain requirements that a scholarship in practice course must fulfill.
Such as the entire layout of the course was designed around being able to articulate the processes required to bring about a successful outcome. The course was broken into the steps of the process of completing our project. After the completion of each step we completed activities to show our comprehension of the step and to show our successful completion of it through our project. Also during our symposium we had to present our projects and what we had completed so far and what we had left to complete to others. We had to describe our process, revisions, and what steps we had left to go.
In completing our readings and class discussions we demonstrated an ability to critique existing applications of scholarship. In doing our readings we were learning about existing applications of scholarship. Such as how blogs and various forms of social media can be used as ways to raise awareness about issues much faster then people in the past were able to do. Then in our class discussions about what we had read we analyzed these applications of social media.
In having to work in groups for our projects we successfully demonstrated the ability to collaborate to bring about a successful outcome. In group work you have to collaborate and as we have accomplished our goals for our project we have come up with a successful outcome. The project we collaborated on to produce is a scholarly work that reflects a body of knowledge relevant to the course. This body of knowledge was the application of social media to our topic.
As our course was centered around social media and its applications in social change our blog was a reflection of these concepts. We utilized social media to create social change in the queer community. Our blog was also a communication of scholarship through ancillary material. As it was written and visual reflection of of concept.
All of these are various requirements by the university for this course. This course, in my opinion, has easily fulfilled this multitude of requirements.

Kara DeMilio LOA

  1. Identify and develop a coherent analysis of women and gender in relation to significant issues-in this case, social media: Through this class, I have come to understand the ways in which social media tools can be used for feminist activism. In particular, feminist blogs and other social sites such as facebook, twitter, chat rooms etc. can be used as vehicles to disperse feminist knowledge quickly, efficiently and cross-culturally. These spaces also help foster a sense of empathy and community among women.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of social and/or cultural differences, inequalities, and/or relations of power: When the internet was created it was praised as a site where race, class, gender issues would not be a problem due to the relative anonymity of users. The knowledge that I have learned from this course as well as the “Theorizing the Web” Conference has helped me to understand that relations of power are very much present on the internet. I have also come to understand the ways in which social media technology is limited. There is a fairly homogenous group that is in power (has the most voice) which is problematic for several reasons. Deanna Zandt notes in her book Share This, “diversity in the social network sphere is critical for generating fresh perspectives on old problems” (19). If we don’t give voice to diverse populations, we are only serving to perpetuate the problem by casting people out into the digital margins. It is necessary that we work towards mapping those margins.
  3. Draw appropriately on a range of work in women’s studies scholarship, creative work, and theory (both from this class and other courses already taken): One of my favorite readings from this semester was Share This by Deanna Zandt. Zandt discusses the ways in which social media is revolutionizing the way that we communicate as well as the way that activists promote their cause. Social media technology is so promising because we can connect and share our lives with a more diverse and wider range of people. Zandt notes that this allows us to “create bonds of trust and empathy that lead us away from” apathy (x). One of my favorite aspects of this course was that it was not just about learning what others know, but creating new knowledge of our own through course readings, individual research and synthesis. For this course, we were required to do a semester long project which made use of social media to promote some form of activism. Through this process and completing course readings, I have been able to think critically about the ways in which knowledge is created. How has social media changed the face of feminist activism? How are structures of power created both in reality and online?
  4. Know how to document evidence and/or research (make good arguments and use proper citation practices): One of my favorite aspects about this course was that we did not have very many formal, written papers. Professor King required us to post our thoughts and comments as well as document the entirety of our project to the course blog. For my course research project, I created a sex work advocacy blog which introduced me to alternative forms of social media as well as documentation. This was a nice departure from my other women’s studies courses. By this point in time, all student should know how to write papers/bibliographies etc. Social media is changing the face of feminist activism and I believe that the knowledge that I have gained in this course is important for all women’s studies majors.
  5. Show competence in presentation skills: writing and other forms of presentation: As previously mentioned, Professor King did not require us to write conventional papers as I have to do in many of my other women’s studies courses. Most of our research was documented and presented with the use of social media tools such as wordpress, blogger etc. Before entering this class I had very limited knowledge about social media. I am also not the most computer savvy person around, which made this aspect of the course a bit challenging. We were also required to create a poster to present our project research at the “Theorizing the Web Conference”. Since it is not visually appealing to have a poster covered in text we were required to think outside of the box and come up with creative ways to our thoughts and research visually.

idea 2 action: LOA feminist social media

LOA Feminist Social Media LOA Feminist Social Media

UMD NOW LOA (Tara, Charissa, Angie)

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LOA – UMD NOW (Tara, Charissa, Angie)

1)    Identify and develop a coherent analysis of women and gender in relation to significant issues — in this case, social media:

Our social media class has helped us to analyze women and gender in relation to social media . One of the most obvious demonstrations of this concept was guest speaker Tara Rodgers, who demonstrated the power of social media to connect people and to spread ideas. Through her sound art and tumblr account, she has been able to create allies in people from other countries that she had never met previously. By demonstrating the impact that women can have through reaching out with media, we, as students. were able to understand what kind of role we can play in social media movements, as well as how we can use social media and technology to create new media and activism movements. Further, we examined how social justice and feminist issues intersect with social media and technology, and took this understanding into our project development. Zandt’s book (Share It!, 2010) really illustrated the power of social media and and how it can be used to further feminist and social justice discourses, activisms, and work.

2)  Demonstrate understanding of social and/or cultural differences, inequalities, and/or relations of power:

We demonstrated an understanding of cultural and social differences in class discussions around Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out (Ito, et al., 2009). We discussed the different media usage habits of people based on age, geography, and culture and we shared our own experiences accessing to technology media, and what kind of information we seek. Also, we discussed the patterns of media usage in terms of the younger generation compared to older generations. In conversation with our professor, we shared our varying experiences now and in the past, when media was not as widely available as it is now. Boler’s Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times (2008) also illustrated how social media and technology can interact with feminism, relations of power, and social differences, and give us insight into how social media and technology are being used to effect real social change — which we witnessed in the revolutions in the Middle East.

3) Draw appropriately on a range of work in women’s studies scholarship, creative work, and theory (both from this class and other courses already taken):

Two members of our group were both in WMST400 with Katie King, which is a theory class (the third member took the same class with another instructor a few years ago). Our experiences in that class, along with previous women’s studies class, has provided us with a strong prior knowledge relating to analyzing, critiquing, and examining intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, age, and (dis)ability. These knowledges helped us explore how social media and technology impacts and relates to women’s studies, feminisms, and discourses. Creatively, this class has been a lot of fun, but exploring feminist scholarship through arts and crafts allowed us to approach issues we are familiar with in new ways, leading to brainstorming new ideas and new understandings of how activism, social media and technology, and feminist scholarships can relate and interact.

4) Know how to document evidence and/or research:

The research we did for this project was not typical research as we have experienced in traditional academic classes; in this course we experimented with different forms of social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. As we tried to figure out which forms worked best for our project, much of research was “messing around” and “geeking out,” which is difficult to document, but our readings lent themselves to our explorations in social media.

5) Show competence in presentation skills: writing and other forms of presentation:

We demonstrated competence in presentation and writing skills in a variety of ways. First we presented our project at the Theorizing the Web Conference, which required we present our vision and ideas in a professional way while interacting and networking with  people interested in technology, feminism, social justice, and/or activism. We were proud of our efforts and interactions related to the conference. We are also grateful for having had the opportunity to work in such a professional manner and found it to be a moving and unique experience in our educational careers. Additionally, we presented our ideas and plans to one another in our classroom workshops, offering feedback and encouragement to our classmates. We demonstrated proficiency in writing both this blog documenting our project processes, as well as the blog and site we developed as part of our project.

Old Blog and Entry

I started this blog before picking my current project focus. I was motivated to share class information from WMST488A with folks who could not take the class. It was motivated by how easy it is to upload things online and a history of sharing books and classes with people who did not have access to them. The two entries below are highlights from the blog.

Hello Internet v. 01101010 01101011

We live in an information saturated environment. We only pretend that information is free flowing and unstoppable. Acknowledging physical limitations is not enough. We must look at our hands and see the blood that drips from them. Every notebook gathering dust, every unrecorded lecture, every file tucked away into the recess of our hard drives is an act of involuntary manslaughter. We are engaged in the negligent destruction of boundless knowledge.

This blog is an attempt to move beyond the traditional hand wringing over the privilege of a higher-level education and the inability of others to get access to it. This is an attempt to share what I learn in WMST488A by using social media to catalog my class experiences. In the humanities, it is criminal to neglect the potential of social media in pedagogy. Most texts are available for free online anyway and the only thing that changes about classes is the collection of bodies paying tuition. We do a disservice by not letting people access this information, thereby denying them the chance to get some variant of a college education.

This blog is an experiment in chronicling and sharing one’s experiences so that others may benefit from them. It is probably doomed to fail, but I must at least try to scream before I give up to silence.

Reflection on ebooks

Last class, we spent a lot of time mulling over the ways in which we can now read books. We can read them in the traditional form, on a Kindle, nook, or iPad, and on the computer. I think our interaction with books, while important, is not the most exciting thing about ebooks. I have yet to see any discussion of their potential to function as both a free good and a well of knowledge.

Take your typical online transaction.

The paper book costs between $9 and $12 when you include shipping, while the Kindle edition costs $8. The ebook is slightly cheaper and, given that you have a way to read it and are not averse to the prospect of reading on new media, it makes the most sense to buy it.

The ebook transactional framework leaves out key options that paper book buyers have available to them. DRM makes sharing an ebook harder. It also makes stumbling on cheaper copies of your book almost impossible.  I looked over several online retailers for the Fanon book and each gave roughly the same price. I could easily buy the Fanon book from a friend for much But I didn’t. I found my copy of Black Skin, White Masks lying in a big box of unwanted books outside the Philosophy Library.

This acquisition made me wonder about the potential of free ebooks. Several online distribution spots for free ebooks exist already, but the use of free ebooks is not widespread. People seem to prefer paying for their ebooks and shun the free variants.  I can think of several reasons for this. Ebook users may want to support the author by paying for the book or they may see the free variants as somehow inferior, unfamiliar, or dangerous. Maybe if free ebooks were thought of as more like library books and less like dangerous knock offs, they would be more readily adopted by the general public.

Free ebooks as library books still face some conceptual challenges. Who would distribute these books? How would we compensate the distributors for the server and bandwidth expenditures? These are all very important questions to ask, but I think a viable alternative to the e-library system already exists. Suppose we do to books, what we did to music. We digitize them entirely and make them  available to rip, burn, and share without any DRM restrictions. Inevitably, worldwide book piracy would spring up and we could easily share thousands of books within minutes.

The potential of a global book piracy is exciting because it could directly impact millions of disadvantaged people ravaged by  unequal access to education. The widespread availability of new technologies and high Internet penetration rates makes learning through digital mediums much easier for some countries (see the case of cell phone learning in South Africa).  Those who do not live in countries with a similar infrastructure could benefit  from cheap and durable technology loaded with educational material. The One Laptop per Child project provides a model for how this technology could be developed and distributed.

Of course, there are legal and copyright problems with the piracy model but it shows the potential that ebooks have to be something other than just another way of looking at the same old text.

EDIT: Think giving laptops to kids is a bad idea? Check out this Colbert clip to see just how durable laptops can be.

Website testing and Older storyboarding

Website Paper Test

Older Storyboard