Finding Sanity in the Madness

Exploring Social Media

Back with a new flavor! February 27, 2012

Filed under: Education,Random,Teaching — karch10k @ 5:52 pm
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Well, I suppose it is time I start posting again. It’s been a while! I believe I left off with the conclusion of the TECH621 course with Dr. V. So, what am I doing now? What will this new mystery flavor be?

My misadventures in teaching, of course!

Long story short, I graduated with my M.S. in Science. Pretty cool, right? Right. Anyway, after graduation, I secured a teaching job in the Communication department here at Purdue, located in Beering Hall. My first course to teach was the dreaded COM 114. It’s the course that pretty much everyone has to take. I enjoyed teaching the course, and my students were wonderful as usual. Few hiccups here and there, but I made it through.

So what am I doing now? Well, I am still currently in the Communication department, but now I am teaching a single section of COM 114, and two sections of COM 217. COM 217 is Scientific Writing and Presentations. I absolutely love this class. I feel like I can take the knowledge and practices that I JUST got done with myself, and help students with my experience. They do a lot of research into scholarly journals, writing, and presenting in a scientific manner. I feel like I can relate very well with the students, and the repertoire I have built with them seems to be a good one.

In terms of my own research, it is complete for now. I do wish to continue on and achieve a Ph.D., but I simply wasn’t ready to start this fall. Either way, getting a position as a limited term lecturer in the COM department has given me some great experience, and I love what I do currently.

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#Tech621, A Reflection April 27, 2011

So, we wrapped up our final class meeting last night for Tech621, and I have decided to sort of reflect back and give some thoughts on the class in general, what I have learned, and some general comments on the topics throughout the semester.

When we began this class at the start of the semester, I honestly wasn’t quite sure how the structure would be. I could get an idea by looking at the syllabus, but one can only get so far by reading a timeline about the course. When this class began, I also was oblivious to some of the many SNSs out there, as well as their usefulness and conventions. You could say I started with a less than positive feelings towards blogging and Twitter. Blogging, in my opinion, was something like this: “people who have an online journal and think that others care about what they think”. I felt like it was some pretentious effort in getting attention. With Twitter, I felt like it was just some silly online status update, where people, once again, felt like everyone else needed to know their every move. I do not believe either of those cases anymore. It took time, but through the course of this…course(?) I have come to appreciate blogging and Twitter. There are other uses for them, great uses that can empower, enlighten, and provide insight to ideas that one might not have had. You can be exposed to these ideas as well as engage in meaningful and thoughtful conversation with people that you would never have the chance to otherwise. There are real benefits with these two methods of communication, and I now see that.

My AA #5 involved a RQ that asked what the correlation is with students who take a course in social media and positive feelings towards social media as a strategic communication tool. Unsurprisingly, there was a positive correlation. Students who took a course in social media were more positive in their feelings towards social media. I think when people like myself have these negative feelings initially on a new type of media, it really stems from the unknown. Change is hard, acceptance is hard, and with the volley of new media being thrown at us every day/week/month, how can we ever hope to keep up? Consider the TAM (Technology Acceptance Model) where one weighs the perceived usefulness, and the perceived ease of use. Where something like Twitter fell short for me initially was the perceived lack of usefulness. I didn’t see how it would benefit me. For others, things like blogging might be a daunting task. The perceived ease of use for someone younger might be why typically the demographics of people who actively blog are older. New technologies such as Twitter (I hope) consider the TAM when designing and creating interfaces, uses, advertisements, etc. Could this be a reason why people get angry when Facebook changes? The perceived ease of use changes because they have to learn a new interface.

Lastly, I want to just mention some thoughts about the course in general. I have some more thoughts on social media and the Elaboration Likelihood Model, but I think I will save that for another post. I am thinking now that I could have divided this up into at least 2 posts, but meh,” sounds too much like work” (Miller, 19XX-present). The course this semester was very interesting. I find myself getting more and more interested in combining theories with social media (as evidenced above). ELM, TAM, etc. My favorite lecture was when we had the long discussion on Technological Determinism vs. Human Agency. The theoretical and sort of logical/philosophical debate we had on this topic was fantastic. I am the type of person who loves to discuss ideas such as this (maybe that explains why I LOVE talking/debating topics such as politics and religion?).  The readings throughout the course were a bit much, but I think I could have managed my time a little better. I could see the clear purpose of each paper, but I wonder if focusing on maybe 1-2 fewer papers per week if we could have been more in depth on some and really focus on the ideas they present. I believe we accomplished this with the paper talking about how Google is “making us stupid”. That is, I believe, the paper that lead us into the Technological Determinism vs. Human Agency discussion. The week we had that lecture, I talked about that and debated with my running buddy for hours during our runs that entire week. So much fun.

To close, I just wanted to say what a nice surprise this course gave me. I came in excited and oblivious, but I feel like I am finishing with insight and a wealth of new knowledge, as well as a much more interested outlook on social media. I look forward to my next opportunity to do research in this field, play with Radian6, or even consult friends on some of the topics we discussed. It’s been a fun ride.

Take care, #Tech621, have a safe summer 🙂

 

Future Experiment with RRR April 23, 2011

Filed under: Random,Sports — karch10k @ 4:07 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Last weekend, I took part in a race I have done for the past 2 years called the River to River Relay (RRR). In this race, a team of 8 runners join up together and run a relay from one side of Illinois (Mississippi River) to the other (Ohio River). This is an 80 mile race, and each runner covers around 10 miles each throughout the day (I covered 10.7 miles). Each runner has 3 seperate legs of the race to run. So Runner #1 will start the race, hand off the baton to the Runner #2 at the exchange zone, Runner #2 runs his leg, hands off to Runner #3, and  so on. While the runners are racing across the state, the guys NOT running at that moment on the team are riding in a van from exchange zone to exchange zone to keep ahead and have the next runner out and ready for when the next guy comes in to hand off. It is a frenzy of flying down country roads, jumping out of the van to cheer on the guy coming in, and to also cheer on the guy who is taking the baton next. Getting back in the van, and heading to the next exchange zone (all while cursing and taunting the current runner when the van passes them back) so we can do it all over again! The process of going from Runner 1-8 happens 3 times, so you race 3 times throughout the day of a distance around 3 miles. This race, for the lack of a better term is EPICLY awesome. There is plenty of downtime between races to recover, eat something and relax while you cheer on your other teammates, which is where I think I will be when I try out my “experiment” next year.

During the race, and especially during down time, people are sitting in vans and many of them are on the phone (texting, etc, etc). I think next year I want to try to advertise a Twitter hashtag to use by runners and officials during the race. This race provides a unique opportunity where people can use something like Twitter during the race to trash talk, give updates on the course, express feelings, and probably just be silly. I can imagine me tweeting about how we are catching the team ahead of us, maybe warning racers behind us of a fallen tree over the road, or even of hostile dogs to watch out for. People could see this, and be ready for it. I think it would be extremely interesting to test something like this out and see how much response I could get from people. The only thing I worry about is cell service. Many times throughout the race, I didn’t have cell service since we were in the middle of nowhere half the time.

To get something like this off the ground, the easiest thing to do would be to push the RRR officials to endorse the hashtag and advertise it. Maybe have it on the registration site or something. Tell the teams at the team meeting the night before the race, maybe. This is something I will have to think more about, but I hope that next year, I can make this happen!

Also, if you are wondering about the picture: Yes, that is an Optimus Prime piñata. We bought it ($20, but SO worth it!) at Wal-Mart and he was our mascot. You would not believe how many comments we had on that thing!

 

Staying Focused, Being Oblivious to Weather Change April 11, 2011

Filed under: Random — karch10k @ 4:20 pm
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This weekend has been a bit rough for me, but I can begin to see the light at the end of tunnel for this semester. It is nice to be able to put everything into perspective, know what I need to get done within a certain time frame, and focus on them one by one. I spent the better part of this entire weekend (which so happened to be the nicest weather we have had this year) in the West Lafayette Library across the road from Einstein Bagels. The place is nice, the tables are big, and the atmosphere is conducive to getting a lot of work done.

Saturday and Sunday mornings, my friend and I meet to go for a run. Typically somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour of running, and normally around 7:00 mile pace (this probably means little to you unless you run). We cover anywhere between 6 and 9 miles on said run, take a stroll through the trail at the Celery Bog, and sometimes take a loop around the cross country course. Saturday morning, it was nasty outside. It rained on us the entire run, and was just not very enjoyable (running enjoyable? crazy!). We finished our run, headed back to our respective homes, got cleaned up, and met back at the library. Now, at this point, it is still nasty outside, and even raining. We walk into the library with jeans, long sleeves and coats on. It was somewhere in the mid 40s when we ran, and is probably in the 50s now. About 5 hours later, we walk out of the library, once again tired, and crashing from the coffee wearing off. To my surprise, people are walking all over, shorts, tank tops, sandals, it is 75 degrees outside. I have a full regalia of fall/early spring attire on. What happened out here!?

During this time of year, everyone is stressed, everyone is short on time, and everyone really wants to just go outside and forget about all the work. My duration in the library this weekend helped me more than any trip outside would at this point. Getting a LOT of work done right now makes the stress disappear quicker than escapism, because escapism is similar to how alcoholics deal with issues. Sure, by going and doing something fun, you can postpone the stress and dread, but it all comes back to you after the fun is over. I am attempting to keep my head above water and make the final push to finish off the semester, and also attempting to do it with more dedication than in semesters past.

To finish up, I want to post an image. I was looking around online with some of my favorite links and places to go in between work periods. I found a comic that works perfectly for my experience with the weather this morning as well as Knoy 374 (where I hold office hours, will refer to it henceforth as “the dungeon”). The comic is taken from Ph.D Comics and is awesome. Enjoy!