Updated Draft: Anderson

September 5th, 2010

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. 3d ed. New York: Verso, 2006.

Benedict Anderson argues that language is the crux for fostering the idea of nationalism. Through an analysis of the rise of nations and “print-capitalism”, he defines nationalism as an imagined community, a large group which shares a common language and connections that is shared through printed material. He covers the entire history of nationalism, which he conceives as a modern phenomena of the past two hundred years. His theory of nationalism is both ground breaking and persuasive in its wide scope of analysis yet has two weaknesses: divergence towards nationalism’s effects and the use of foreign language sources without translation.

Although divided into chapters, his work has three distinct sections. The first section (chapters 1-3) deals with nationalism’s birth, first through the fall of universal religions claiming imperial status (e.g. the Holy Roman Empire) and then deterioration of dynastic reign; he details the rise of newspapers and print-capitalism as a major stimulus for nationalism. In the second section (4-7), he traces four waves of nationalism from the early beginnings in the Americas and newspapers to the rethinking of languages and identity in Europe, the reformulating of empire to include nationalism, and finally the previously colonized areas modifying nationalism for themselves. In this section, he demonstrates how nationalism is inherently flexible, deriving its flexibility from print-language. The third section focuses on the effects of nationalism. He answers questions of intense loyalty to one’s own imagined community, nationalism’s place in the past few hundred years of history, and issues of collective memory and forgetfulness in a nation. This final section seems oddly divorced from his focus on print language as a nation builder. Although the effects of nationalism is an important aspect, his expounding of such did not add anything of significance to his argument.

Early Draft Review : Imagined Communities

September 5th, 2010

Benedict Anderson uses language as the crux for fostering the idea of nationalism. Through an analysis of nationalism and “print-capitalism” Anderson questions Marxism’s inability to define nationalism. In Anderson’s work, he defines nationalism as an imagined community, a large community which shares a common language commonly shared through printed material. While his theory of nationalism is ground breaking, Imagined Communities has two weakness in terms of structuring his argument and the use of foreign language sources in his text.

While only divided into chapters, his work can actually be grouped together to make three sections. The first section consists of chapters one through three and deal with the nature of nationalism’s birth, first through the fall of universal religions claiming imperial status (e.g. the Holy Roman Empire) and then deterioration of the dynastic reign; he details the rise of newspapers and print-capitalism as a major stimulus for nationalism. In the second section, he describes four waves of nationalism from the early beginnings in the Americas and newspapers to the rethinking of languages and identity in Europe, the reformulating of empire to include nationalism, and finally the previously colonized areas modifying the West’s ideas of nationalism for themselves. In this section, he demonstrates how nationalism is an inherently flexible, deriving its flexibility from language. The third section focuses on the effects of nationalism. He answers questions of intense loyalty to one’s own imagined community, nationalism’s place in the past few hundred years of history, and issues of collective memory and forgetfulness in a nation.

Anderson argues very persuasively, backing his argument with a wide range of examples from nearly every corner of the globe. He covers the entire history of nationalism, which he conceives as modern and discusses in terms of the last two hundred or so years. Although his examples have excellent breadth, his discussion of each locality lacks depth. Anderson also weaves other aspects of nationalism’s development into his theory. For instance he includes matters such as economics and racism involved in selecting a language of the state.

Anderson’s two problems include a heavy use of foreign documents that lack translation in the form of footnotes or an appendix and a only tangential related final section. His final section on nationalism seems oddly divorced from his focus on print language as a nation builder. Although the effects of nationalism is an important aspect, his addition of such did not add anything of significance to his argument.

American Film: Myth and Reality

August 24th, 2010

In a world filled with movie stars and red carpets, the dirty, seedy money of Hollywood flows unchecked. After years of big name assassins murdering the work of scholars throughout the country or producers blackmailing historians into bitter silence, a group of young students have risen up from the other side of the mainland US. This is a group hell-bent on giving directors the finger, this is a group willing to dissecting the mutated demons of “Historically accurate films”, This is the University of Mary Washington’s US History in Film Course, a mindbending thriller that will send chills down your spine.

Critics claim, “This film is more frightening than a bad lit review!”

“It sings of some lost concept of ‘Digital Humanities’.”

“It bashes Disney so bad, that I can never look at Pocahontas or even the Little Mermaid the same.”

Test Post Provided by Joe Calpin, UMW blogs, and of course Viewers like you!

Beginning Semester (1/2)

August 23rd, 2010

At first beginning as a stream of conscious writing for tonight, I scrapped what little I rambled and considered, in a list, what I really wanted to say. I happened to steal that method from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in order to break whatever I want to say down to a simple level, a welcome to a new semester and a series of questions about projects and moving forward. Today at the University of Mary Washington we had our first day of classes, a rather stressful and hectic time for both students and professors. Unfortunately, this has been the worse (or at least roughest) start I have yet to encounter since starting here in Fall of 2007. As a history major, it has been next to impossible to find classes that will move me closer to completing my degree in a timely fashion. I did at least sit in on many other classes that I might not otherwise have seen had I settled all of my classes. I cannot blame anyone for the frustrations I am experiencing, we have an increasingly large number of history majors as compared to our current staff of history professors, who are already overworked as it is. Despite a number of setbacks, I am following a recommendation from one professor to keep trying for what I want, which will of course be worth all of the trouble and headaches.

I’ve already hit the main issues with this semester, overfilled classes and no wiggle room for students. There is no need to rehash any other issues, because matters such as being overworked or overwhelmed really don’t start on day 1, much more of a day 2 problem. It’s safe to say that this semester, from an administrative standpoint has already been painful.

But rather than dwell on an issue that I have no control over, I would rather like to focus on more interesting questions, namely how to schedule my side work and projects, absorb materials and gain understanding of foundational skills. I list side work, because I have opted to take less than a full load of credits to pursue my own interests that the school is not able to accommodate at this time.

My workload this semester falls into the category of coursework, stand-alone language training and club work. The main focus of course should be the actual coursework for the semester, yet it is hard for me to set aside my language training for normal classes. As I have been reading through other language blogs, I am no longer convinced of language being akin to riding a bike. Especially in the case of Chinese, use it or lose it. Yet I have noticed, as it is already nearing quarter past eleven, the day only has so many hours. Unlike last year, I am no longer actively leading clubs, and instead use that time to make clubs a relating hobby or find a way, like with the radio station, to link it to my language studies.

Thinking Goals

Over the summer, I read Adler Mortimer’s How to Read a Book. I am still in the process of self-training but feel I have come a long way in understanding how to further develop reading skills. The author makes an interesting observation in the differences between reading to absorb information and reading for the explicit purpose of enhancing knowledge. Now according to him, and I find his list quite narrow, very few books honestly qualify for the reading to enrich understanding. Yet the distinctions set forth in the book caused me to realize I have set the bar far too low for my classes. It seems as if the class is a place to finish the work and call it a day without the material really grasping your mind or your heart.

With that in mind, I want to truly engage material in a way that I just haven’t done prior to this semester. Honestly, dig into the materials and follow what I am reading closely. This of course is a well-recommended goal but would be easily dropped at the first sign of overloaded work in the semester. You have to back it up with something a little more solid. So why not say keep an active reading journal and throw your thoughts online. If I have to write a paper on the material I am reading anyway, why not just start writing now on every bit I read. Perhaps take a bit of time and set up a nice form for articles, who is the person, what are the themes of his/her argument, how is the argument crafted? and also write out a thumbnail sketch of the article with some reflections. It sounds like an overall good, although time consuming plan. Yet it doesn’t have to be, a few paragraphs would suffice. Goal number 1 start writing out reading journal more thoroughly.

Goal 2: Dealing with side projects

I tend to be a lover of all the things that you want to do but is not quite related to your main line of work. I think that working on the projects you really love is far more beneficial and perhaps even a great break from the mundane work of a class that you are unfortunately stuck taking. For me my main side work involves continuing Chinese language studies. This unfortunately is a rather big and not so easy to pin down. Good language study takes up more time than most people would expect, but in terms of a big picture I need excellent Chinese for potential grad school, and with competition supposedly being more fierce due to bad economy, I need to be at the top of my game which means great language skills and a solid handle on proper academic writing. In my mind the coursework itself will take care of the latter. It is up to me, however, to formulate a plan to handle my Chinese. Of course that needs to be further broken down to define what sort of training is appropriate and how to approach it. Where do I find time and people to work with on my material? Frankly, I need to man up and accept that as a sideproject my training will be considered “treading water” unless I find some other method to make the training more intensive. I just won’t see the level of progress that I managed in Harbin.

The side project gets more complicated if there is more than one, yet I am trying to make projects either similar in theme or somehow weave together so I am working on two things at once. Case in point, I am putting together a radio show for the campus that is focus on Chinese music, podcasts, language and culture. It fits with everything else I am doing so why not? How can you draw your experiences together and not kill yourself with lack of sleep? This is always the big question, how do I get sleep?

A Break

This subject can be continued on for quite a while, but for now it is good to leave it here and practice the art of patience. I can always write more tomorrow.

Spaghetti Project-Urban Art

August 22nd, 2010

I love to walk through downtown Fredericksburg and do a bit of window shopping. I never considered that just window shopping does not help a business to stay afloat. While showing a newly arrived freshmen the downtown area, I walked by a store that I had walked by many times before, Spaghetti Project. I noticed that in the window of the store was a sign indicating they were moving out of their currently location. After a talk with the owner, I found out that on September 11th they will be moving down to a new location in Richmond just outside of VCU. I couldn’t just let the matter sit at a nice goodbye and asked to walk inside and take some pictures. The store provides anything and everything awesome from clothing to interesting figurines. With the whole Mary Washington community returning today (Sunday) for the beginning of a new semester, I would love to see students (including myself!) go down to Spaghetti Project and say hello. Maybe there is something neat with your name on it, waiting for you to claim it, a piece of urban art that not just calls but sends you texts too. While all of us are well aware of the “broke college student” circumstance, helping a unique shop open up is awesome. The Following are some photos I took of merchandise that struck me as over the top awesome.

spaghetti project

Aren't they cute?!

I personally dig the amazing brainexplosion of interesting figurines here are some of my favorites that I found.




Being a China fan boy this and the below photo of the Monkey King are by far my favorite items lurking in Spaghetti Project. When I stumbled upon them I had to stop and gawk for the appropriate amount of time. The owner tried to bring in fresh items to the Fredericksburg area based on his own love of collecting odd, unique items that he would inevitably have to travel to New York City to get his hands on. When setting up shop, he started sharing that passion for the cool thing; the cool thing being of course that mysterious object that although has no seeming utility absolutely attracts your eye. “Now that I set up shop” he explained, “I could finally get stuff down my way without having to drive all the way up to New York all the time.” He’s bringing the good stuff down this way.

So as a finally hurrah for Spaghetti Project, I decided that a little post to attract your attention to the store was in order. Down on Caroline Street, past the Tea and Spice shop towards the Central Library, it’s a store you might pass by after seeing long rows of antique shops where you can buy back your grandma’s record player. But what we really have here is a shop, like the handful of shops like it in Fredericksburg, trying to call out to the “young blood” to check out cool stuff, see something a little different. Since, the store is moving out of Fredericksburg on September 11th, why don’t you go ahead and check it out!

Spaghetti Project can be found online on facebook as the Spaghetti Project as well as their current space on blogspot .

Small thought: written on the iPod touch

August 15th, 2010

Alright, since I really have not blogged, a far project update is in order. Actually I am in palm coast florida with my girlfriend and best friend; with the next semester starting in about two weeks, I really wanted to get some vacation time. Lucky for me my mom recently moved down to the palm coast area to get away from the rest of us crazy kids, you can tell how well that worked! Anyway, I have gotten little reading done, but I have been waking up nice and early to workout on the neighboring Flagler beach. Standing out by the water and practing my basic stance drill (基本功), I could just concentrate on something small, breathing and thinking about the position of my spine, my feet. It was and is beautiful. What I found was that I can just step back from being an academic wanna be or a bava impersonator. Rather, I allowed myself to just be a quiet bakhtinjali. I often wonder how I should proceed with my day, does one really have the power to balance being an eager and ravenous scholar and the quiet meditator? Perhaps without both you miss the point .

Alr

Start Moodling!

August 6th, 2010

I am all for shameless plugging of whatever I happen to be working on at a given point in time, and for this week DTLT sent me packing through the web to figure out what all the moodle non-sense is about. What I found was an LMS (Learning Management System) that is open source and does not give me the willies or cause me to gag. I spent this week looking through screencasts, playing with an instance of moodle, and reading a download manual. With all of that in mind here is a brief review of what I liked about moodle and how I would use it if I were one of those funky teaching types.

To begin allow me to point you to a video put out by the creators of moodle themselves which covers how awesome their LMS is over everybody else:

Now if the sweet and touching guitar music did not make you want to download this LMS right away, you have no heart! Okay, no in all actuality LMS are a company and want to package their product as the best thing on the block. With overlords of CMS LMS whatever you want to call it floating around, I can understand wanting to put out a strong impression as your first and foremost goal. However, I found that the level of documentation on the website to be quite helpful and beyond that a number of users independently putting out screencasts to help with the initiate or technophobe. A website that offered some pretty decent and straightforward tutorials was target”blank”>moodletutorials.org.

I hear that there is supposed to be a big upgrade to Moodle 2.0, but I have not had the opportunity to play with a beta so I can only speak for my experience with 1.9. I had no troubles getting my teaching website off of the ground and if you look at the site, it is pretty but at least it is up and doing what it should be. Now I would like to give you all a look at the little site I had been playing with, but unfortunately I have yet to figure out how to get guests into the site despite having selected “allow guests without a key” any number of times! I must admit to you all that I am not exactly the most technically inclined member of DTLT. I usually have to fumble my way around, but be ready for an updated post so I can give you access to all the juicy details of my imaginary class. Frankly it’s like playing house for me : P

So to give you a good breakdown on this whole moodle thing. I dig it. I like the options and features it comes with, but most of all it is about usability. I suck with setting things up, but I really managed to work my way around the interface and get a feel for it very early. I may have a few snags in creating the perfect site, but for just getting it off the ground and ready to use it is a snap. With loads of drop down menus and small question marks around any option that might seem the slightest bit confusing, the website is very easy to navigate. I have been working from a system administrator perspective, but upon seeing a whole host of helpful websites and videos it seems that most teachers and students can quickly get a feel for this LMS. As a big fan of simplistic layouts, I am very happy with how moodle lays out activities and assignments on an easy timeline on the main page of the course.

So what did I like about moodle?

I really enjoyed moodle’s glossary module, which once you turn on, gives you the option to set up course dictionaries, a main one designed by the teacher and also a secondary (or you could say weekly) glossary that can be student built. What’s even sweeter is having the autolink function, which will link to your definition of a word anytime a student comes across it on the course site. So, if I define “historigraphy” and then have it appear in a document or anywhere on the state, it gives the students a link to the dictionary page also on the site. Is it a simple tool that other LMSs might have? Yes, but I think that it is a powerful tool, especially when student made.

Example

This glossary module is particularly handy for a language class. I started looking into using the glossary to have students (imaginary ones) suggest mnemonics for a new word or phrase as well as give example sentences. Also the addition of a keywords function allows for students to select synonyms of the word which when clicked allows students to jump right to the other word’s definition. Students building their own dictionary will cause them to remember the words more distinctly as they debate or see how other students are remembering symbols and sounds. A student built dictionary is far more meaningful than a one-to-one correspondence dictionary within the text books themselves.

In terms of my foreign language example, I have found that moodle does not seem to read the Chinese characters as anything other than “special” characters. If it weren’t for playing with my iPod touch lately I would not be complaining, however when I switch my iPod’s language to Chinese, my iTunes re-categorizes all of my Chinese songs into alphabetical order despite them being written in characters. If it weren’t for that I would have a nasty unordered list of Chinese music artists.

How are other foreign language instructors in the States dealing with that?

Conclusion!

I am by no means finished with this whole moodle thing, but a post has to end somewhere. Moodle has a host of useful functions that easily will integrate with any class setting from wikis to inbuilt quizzes, and a fairly easy grading interface moodle offers a wide variety of options. It seems as if one can actually submit essays into moodle where teachers are able to grade and leave comments all in the same space. That’s sweet! But like all things in life there are obviously problems with this sort of program, but with my use only being a test run I am less than certain what those problems would be. However, they are most certainly there, because no program is perfect and each has their own specialties. For instance, Moodle’s blogging platform just doesn’t touch wordpress in style. And now since I’ve made a scene about this whole “having issues” matter; I think that something like an LMS that is an all in one package has one major flaw, it does everything, but really specializes in nothing other than managing the content. Yes, it rings of jack of all trades and master of none, but don’t get me wrong, moodle’s set up gets a big thumbs up from me.

Slow Progress: The People Who Correct My Approach

July 28th, 2010

As an intrepid, young DTLT-er, and not to mention a slight overachiever, I tend to take on far too much to chew in terms of projects. The fact is that DTLT is filled with people like Jim Groom, Martha Burtis and of course Andy Rush who are constantly blogging and making an impact on the web. So, I have to admit it is a lot of pressure to be the young upstart without having Serena Epstein like skills and drive. To counter all of the above, I recently began exploring coding with an emphasis on the very basics for HTML and then digging around php. In essence, I attempted to massively accumulate whatever knowledge I could to feel useful. Especially with having a full-fledged computer science major as a roommate, I definitely feel under equipped to do instructional technology. After a very thorough talk with Jim Groom about the nature of WordPress and everything that goes on behind what the visitor to the blog sees, I realized that the sort of project I embarked on is nothing short of a lifetime work that does not get started in finished even within the same month.

From the very beginning I had the wrong premise about what I needed to do. On my first week into this matter, Professor Zach Whalen mentioned that I’m a big fan of learning as you go (with software especially), so I’d probably choose a “real” project, if it were me. (personal comm) Well obviously, I should have listened to that advice and thought about how the available technology of web 2.0 could suit my own learning needs, but instead I became increasingly fixated on just mastering the tech out there.

Now, another word of advice came in the form of an older article by a man I still consider a great mentor, Gardner Campbell. He discusses the nature of the digital medium that is a matter of much discussion in academic circles as the lines, although not clearly drawn, at least tends to divide academics; Gardner Campbell’s main focus is the nature and benefits of web 2.0 for the university and students. At this point I must lift a few quotes from his article linked above. This statement particularly captured and spurred me:

Students with this kind of digital fluency will be well-prepared for creative and responsible leadership in the post-Gutenberg age. Without such fluency, students cannot compete economically or intellectually, and the astonishing promise of the digital medium will never be fully realized.

I read this line a few times over and considered my own status of, well frankly not having digital fluency. In my opinion, using wordpress, being plugged into twitter and other social networks does not make for digital fluency. In reality I think that having some deeper sense of technical skills is what makes for digital fluency. I dashed into a week or two of slow progress studying code and trying to even figure out what I wanted to do with that training. I might have been gaining fluency in something, but as I began to feel my own willingness to look through training manuals diminish, I had a suspicion that I approached this problem from a very wrong angle. I became a fanatic for instantly mastering or reaching the fluency level, and as I heard about DTLT members’ projects or saw the amazing work and thought processes over at Cog Dog’s space I’ll admit I felt inadequate. I worked harder and harder until finally I broke down to have a chat with the Bava. He surprisingly hashed out WordPress’s from a nuts and bolts perspective. Now I am staring at a white board filled with airs and diagrams tracing out how a wordpress blog works once put onto a server and uses LAMP. At the end of his lecture (late chat?) he simply asked “what are you trying to do?” At that point I could only respond that I had no idea. Well, that is hardly a good situation. I started to explain that I wanted to be well-equipped and helpful in the office. However, Martha Burtis made a solid point, you gain the skills as you need them. And in all reality the needs should shape what technology that you use and your grasp on it. There are far too many tools available to use that I am skeptical that any one person could make use of even the larger majority of them. Look at a list on lynda.com, you’ll find that there is a long list of software that one could learn. How does one sift through all that? Well, my previous approach was to ignore the volume and keep learning everything, but I do not have that sort of time, and that sort of method is highly impractical. As I listened to Martha explain how she acquired her mad skillz, I was reminded of Gardner Campbell’s article again:

Just as the real computing revolution didn’t happen until the computer became truly personal, the real IT revolution in teaching and learning won’t happen until each student builds a personal cyberinfrastructure that is as thoughtfully, rigorously, and expressively composed as an excellent essay or an ingenious experiment. This vision goes beyond the “personal learning environment” in that it asks students to think about the web at the level of the server, with the tools and affordances that such an environment prompts and provides.

Forgive a poor interpretation, but I severed the IT revolution from the teaching and learning. Sectioning off technological advancements from my own personal interests, I created a chore rather than an indepth and possibly meaningful change in the way I develop as a student. I agree that getting a solid handle on the environments we are using is a crucial element, however becoming so obsessed with it forgets that these are tools for communication and development of ideas. Campbell refers to this movement as a moment in time labeled “post-Gutenberg age”, and this is the key question, why was the Gutenberg printing press key, not because of technology for its own sake, but how one could promulgate ideas. So, while now I am taking it easy, I vigorously learn tools that are attached to what ever it is I want to do and what piques my intellectual curiosity.

Projects Galore

July 22nd, 2010

This week’s projects have had no really progress of which to speak, but at the very least I felt an update appropriate. My main goals for this week have been moving into my apartment with roommate Matt Keaton and getting myself further orientated with a range of technologies. So here is the general overview of the week:

  1. The apartment is getting more and more unpacked but still in rough shape
  2. Still clueless in HTML
  3. Working with audacity is now a breeze (with some kinks).
  4. Doing some research on recording and Skype
  5. What in the World is all this CMS whats it and how are they different?

The HTML has been a huge challenge for me, not because it is particularly to learntags but rather knowing what I need to know in order to get what I want done. As I debated over this past week on how to proceed with learning some basic coding languages, Professor Whalen mentioned that it is best to have a “real” project and build skills as you progress or hit barriers in your work. For me, learning in this fashion is a bit undirected, and I need a foundation or framework to know what I am looking at and have a sense of what I need. It seems that the skills I need involve HTML、PHP and MySQL. With those three I ought be able to dig around into WordPress and Drupal with only the normal setbacks and swearing at the computer screen when code explodes. As umwblogs is going to get hooked up with the awesomeness of WordPress 3 I want to be prepared to take part in as Jim Groomwould say “re-imagining the framework of the system.” Or something like this? Either way, the point is to get myself well equipped as an active member and not just using WYSIWYG! What I really need is some guidance on how I should be learning all of this material. Right now I cannot even quite imagine how my projects could shape on a widespread publishing platform. Submit thoughts!

This week (granted this week isn’t over yet!)I have devoted the majority of my time working with Dr. Kennedy’s students on their final communication projects. I mostly just keep an eye on equipment or help look at some of their editing work, but like most small projects, my student aid skills had some severe holes. I was entirely uneducated on how to use audacity. Frankly, it’s silly because audacity is awesome and easy to use. I found that a little bit of research and just playing with the program was enough to get acquainted with the program and how the program could meet the students’ needs. Since starting at DTLT I have not had a lot of opportunities to work directly with students on recording projects, but I hope to have some more of that type of work, especially with librivox’s project still in progress.

Helping other students record has recently sparked my interest in creating an audio blog for Chinese recordings, I am still not sure how to accomplish that task. I would need a place to store the files for my blog to grab. As I started fiddling with audacity, I realized that even using something like garageband would suit me well enough. What I really need is a solid microphone, because just using the built-in/headset-mic combo does not cut it for my tastes. For the purposes of language training, conversations with native speakers should be an important aspect of the journey to language mastery (but in all reality that is a cover word for competency). Thus, I started research recording my skype conversations with previous Chinese roommates and friends. I found that the crew for the amazing program headed by Dan Cohen,Digital Campus, had some great suggestions for at least getting started with this project. I downloaded a demo copy of a skype call recorder for the mac. I’ve done a conversation or two with the program, but it won’t be until tomorrow that I can start really cranking out some good work with New Media specialist Andy Rush.

Finally, I have a meeting with Jim Groom tomorrow on WordPress 3 and hopefully gain a fundamental understanding of how to start screwing around with wordpress templates, plug-ins and making the whole thing more customizable. But, Drupal is still out there waiting for me to make use of it. Your selection of CMS (if WordPress can qualify as one) really depends on what sort of content you are trying to connect together. So, who knows maybe a good brainstorm on projects is the next course of action. How do you internet literati work all this out?

While I’ve Been Gone!

July 16th, 2010

Since I left for China back in February I cut myself off from the internet and, save for a few skype calls with my mom and girlfriend, kept my computer use to an absolute minimum. While that really benefited my language learning, I have missed big developments in the tech world and have also found I am not satisfied with a WYSIWYG approach to writing posts and working the web around me. As it has been forever since I have blogged, I will be taking some time to get back into the writer’s seat.

Since my graduation from My CET 哈尔滨 Program I have been pondering over different projects to start publishing. I unfortunately am still in the planning and brainstorming stages, but hopefully I can start putting up some concepts for others to pick apart and critique.

Now while all of that is nice, I found that Word Press came out with a major upgrade while I was gone, namely Word Press 3. The big features for this upgrade is the addition of custom posts and custom taxonomies. To me, and perhaps I am mistaken, wordpress is moving away from pure blogging to developing a solid CMS. No longer are we restricted to the division of posts and pages or the markups of tags and categories, an awesome move. However WordPress 3 does not come out of the box ready for this type of work. First you have to dig into the default template (the snazzy twenty ten) to start adding functions. Cogdog does an amazing job at providing step-by-step instructions to bringing out the full potential of a much more powerful wordpress blog. Unfortunately, being a layman in the blog world, I felt a little bit overwhelmed looking at the coding to add all sorts of customization. I am sure that in no time there will just be a quick plug-in to take care of all the extra work.

But this got me thinking…

Why aren’t I really diving into the messy world of ripping open templates and playing with WordPress? I’m just not satisfied with using a template or settling with the out of the box product. As a student aide of DTLT, my own work philosophy should reflect the sort of edgy and groundbreaking work of my colleagues.

So I’ve started at the very basics like I should have years ago and am working with HTML. I say all of this rather reluctantly since I feel like I should be embarrassed for starting HTML so late in the game. Well, everyone starts somewhere, and I can’t really complain. So my main resources are O’Reilly’s HTML Definitive Guide and the A W3 School’s Chinese HTML guide. So after a little bit of readings I am finally more comfortable with doing basic work like adding my own links and hand writing a few things here and there. What’s even better about this process is I am learning it in Chinese. It’s nice knowing that 浏览器 is browser and that 链接 is the word of link. If nothing else it is fun knowing that my language has reached a level that I can learn slightly more difficult information.

Aside from my HTML work, I’ve been looking at lynda.com to start doing some audio and visual work with Andy Rush. What I am really gearing up for is a project involving Chinese recordings to work on those terribly monsters we language learners know as tones!

Lastly! Since this is my first week back at the illustrious DTLT office I can’t help but drop a line about our recent set of talks about the iPhone debacle. In our office, I sit right next to New Media guru Andy Rush and have been consistently pestering him about Apple’s recent upsets with their iPhone 4. While I don’t have the cash to get a hold of a defunct product, our talks about the company’s response to the problem have been very stimulating. You can check out some of our topics over at the Rush Headquarters.

Let’s see if I can’t get myself back on the blogger boat and come up to the forefront on this whole educational technology thing.