Zainab Sulekha

Gosh! I absolutely hate this part. I never know what to write. Well, my name is Zainab, I’m 25 (I wish I could say I was younger) and completely new to blogging, so excuse me for any blogging faux pas I may commit. I live in England, well to be more specific I live in London, which I absolutely love!!! If you’ve never been to London, you must visit. At the moment I’m studying for an MSc in Social and Cultural research. Outside of my academia, I enjoy socialising with friends and family. I love travelling; I always try to indulge in the local’s cultures and traditions, which I believe has enriched my understanding of other people’s values and beliefs. My hunger for adventure has seen me scuba dive in the Red Sea, walk through Kokum rainforest on a suspended canopy and sky dive in the state of New York. I am also crazy about pretty shoes, I have so many shoe boxes stacked up against my bed room wall; I could potentially run a shoe shop out of my room.
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So this is my last entry blog for my ‘making web cultures’, and it is time do some self-reflecting. Well I can definitely say over the short 5 weeks the module was running, I definitely learnt a lot! Coming from a Bsc health background, this module was very different from any other lecture I’ve ever done. My overall experience of the module has been an incredibly positive one and exceeded my expectations. I particularly enjoyed the dynamics of this lecture; its use of wikispace and its non- traditional approach to teaching made it both very educational and very engaging.  My only objection is that it was far too short, I don’t feel 5 weeks was long enough, I think it needed to be a module that ran at least the whole semester, in order for it to cover the vast amount of information in depth.

Although, I’d come across most of the content taught during the spread of the lecture, I was completely ignorant to the actual workings of them. If somebody had asked me back in November, what’s the difference between the web and the internet or what is HTML, I wouldn’t have been able to tell them. As it was only when we had our first lecture did I actually learn there was an actual difference and HTML is the makeup language of the web. As far as I was concerned so long as I could find and do what I wanted online, I couldn’t have cared less how it worked.

That first lecture with Dr Sharma was undeniably my most enlightening lecture of the course!! Like I said back in my first blog entry, I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t know the difference between the web & net.  Only yesterday I got a message from my mobile network provider saying I’d used up almost all of my data allowance for the month, so evidently I spend a hell of a lot of time online whether it be on my: phone, laptop, at uni or at work , on an average day I probably spend around 5-6 hours on the web. So really I should have known the difference since I consume so much of it. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to Google it, as I Google everything else.

I’m now fully aware of the difference; that the web is an abstract space full of information that sits on top of the internet which is made up of computers and connections (Berners-Lee  cited in Sharma’s lecture, 2011).

 Dr Sharma’s ‘The Internet-The Web’ lecture could not have come at a better time, as I recently started working for a website; I don’t deal with any of the coding and programming side of things, but it has made it so much more convenient  to not be completely in the dark when protocol abbreviations are being thrown around.

In all honesty, I’ve really found writing these blog entries a little challenging, as this is somewhat out of my comfort zone, it is not something I would choose to do. I’ve never kept a diary or journal before; it’s never really been my thing to want to write my personal feelings or thoughts down. Although I’ve been told it’s really therapeutic to write them down, whenever I’ve tried to express them in writing I just get a complete mental block. So having to do it as an assessed module has certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone.  It has definitely been interesting!! This assignment has opened my mind to all the different types of blogs out there and I can safely say that not everybody who blogs is self- conceited. I don’t think I’ve mastered the art of blogging just yet, so I’m not sure whether I’m going to continue to ‘try’ to blog or not for the moment. Only time will tell so watch this space!!!

Reference:

Sharma, S (2011) The Internet- the Web [Lecture presented to MSc Social and Cultural Research and Media and Communications] 17 November

The second component for my ‘making web cultures’ class was to develop a group web page using wikispaces. As soon as Dr sharma mentioned web page I nearly cried, okay… I’m exaggerating a little, but for a moment I actually thought  we were expected  to learn HTML (web makeup language ).  In all honesty the idea of group work always seems like it has potential for disagreements or one person being left to do all the work. You see, from previous experiences I’d always ended up being the person responsible for putting together the PowerPoint. The constant emails; having to always check them to see if  anybody’s emailed you their share of the work; whether they’ve made any changes and having to amend them on the PowerPoint  if had, and  all the while having to stay on top of your own share of the group work. It was the bain of my life when it can to group work. The concept of this assignment was to identify an issue or debate concerning the use of social media and produce a group wiki page on our chosen topic. As a group we decided to look at the role social media played in regards to social phenomenons that occurred in 2011. The topics we chose to look at were: The Arab Spring; Occupy Wall st/London; The London Riots and the viral video titled ‘My Tram Experience’ and the role social media played.

As there were 4 of us we split the topics evenly, I covered the topic ‘the Arab spring’. I searched through old Facebook, twitter tweets and relevant news reports, to try to ascertain how social media played a part, as significant importance was placed on the role it was playing at the time of this social revolution. Some went as far to say this was a revolution that started on Facebook (Ghonim, 2011).

For those who don’t know, Wikis were first invented in 1995 and are toolkits used for creating pages online (woods and Thoeny, 2007). Wikis: are tools that can be easily used for collaboration. In the words of Leuf and Cunningham (2001); The wiki way. Quick Collaboration on the web and that is exactly what we did as a group. We collaborated our information using of wikispaces. The most amazing part of using a wiki page is how easily understandable it is. As all the coding is done for you, it was just a matter of finding the edit and save button. The wiki page allowed us to effortlessly drag; drop; insert; type: edit; and customise with almost endless possibilities. We were able to communicate our thoughts via the images and context we uploaded on to the page.

The use of wikispaces allows us to edit and update our wiki page individually, meaning we are all in charge of the presentation of our page. From my perspective I feel the use of wikis has revolutionised the way group dynamics work and it’s eradicated that issue of one person been solely responsible for the presentation of the work while doing their own share. It has created an equal playground for all of us to contribute to.

If there were any negative points I suppose it would be that it encouraged secular behaviour and reduced the urgency to meet up, as it was almost unnecessary once work had been delegated and uploaded, we knew exactly what stage each of us was on. But as it was so easy to edit posts and communicate it wasn’t really an issue.

However, the dynamics of working in a group on a project like this have been interesting. Who knew it would be so easy to work so cohesively while being in several different locations across greater London. With the absence of video conferencing we have been able to communicate and collaborate with relative ease through the use of wikispaces.

 P.S. I was going to end with a video as usual, but as I couldn’t embed it so I’ve posted it in a separate post.  So please visit the post bellow to have a look J

Reference:

CNN (2011)Activist Wael Ghonim credits Facebook for starting the revolution that resulted in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.Available at:
http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2011/02/11/exp.ghonim.facebook.thanks.cnn?hpt=T1 (Accessed: 6 December 2011)

Leuf, B. and Cunningham, W. (2001)  The wiki way. Quick Collaboration on the web. USA: Addison-Wesley 

Woods, D. and Thoeny, P. (2007) wikis for Dummies . Wily publishing Inc: Indiana 


I always try to find a decent youtube video to help me depict the topic I’m blogging about. As I feel it makes the experience much more enjoyable than to just continuously read. As I’m blogging about group work using wikispaces this week, I found this amazingly coordinated  video that optimises the practicality of using wikis. Enjoy watching!!

So a few weeks ago, Dr Sharma (my Making Web Cultures lecturer) broke the news to us that one of the assessment component for this module would be to post 4 blog entries. To some people this may sound tolerable or even enjoyable but to my dismay it’s an area I knew very little about. I have a few friends who are religious bloggers and I’ve read a few of their posts, however as interesting as it was (heavy sarcasm), it’s never been of any interest to me to start one of my own.  You see the problem is I’m not much of a creative writer, in fact anybody who knows me knows I’m pretty hopeless!!  Academic writing is more my forte. 

One of the first blogs I ever read belonged to a friend of mine, the content wasabout a conversation she had at work, followed by detailed entry about a TV series; I couldn’t comprehend why she’d not use her time doing something more valuable than write a blog. The thing is, my assumption about blogging was not particularly high, before being assigned this task. I found bloggers to be pretentious, absorbed and rather self-conceited human beings. Why else dedicate so much time and effort blogging about idol minded matters and mindless observations?  You see I couldn’t shake the sense that this assessment was going to turn me into one of the masses of absorbed, pretentious, and conceited individuals who spend far too much time writing about themselves online.

So as soon as that lecture was over I headed off to find myself a copy of ‘blogging for Dummies’ and one of the first sentences I read was “if you can write an email then you can write a blog” (Gardener & Birely, 2010). I write emails all the time at work, so surely it wasn’t going to be all doom and gloom after reading that sentence. I also remembered an article I read a while ago about a 13 year old fashion blogger named Tavi Gevinson, who apparently has the fashion world at her feet because of her blog (guardian , 2009). So if a 13 year old could do it and make an impact, how difficult could it possibly be to start a blog of my own?

I’d soon be eating my words, as it hasn’t been smooth sailing at all!!

Before I settled for ,

I tried using first and then to start my blog, but to my surprise they were not as easy to use as I’d anticipated.

The first thing I had to figure out was what the actual definition of the word ‘blog’ was and not the definition I’d created in my head. According to Gardener and Birely (2010) the word blog at its simplest term is just; chronologically ordered series of website updates, which are written and organised much like a personal journal or diary. That definition right there, had already put me off the idea of blogging, as I’ve never been one to keep a diary or write personal thoughts.  But regardless it’s a task that one must do, so here I am writing my second blog entry. And to be fair it’s not half as bad as I’d imaged.   

I posted my first blog entry a few days ago and I’ve not had any real interest, I’ve only had two likes so far. If honest I’m not even sure how people would find my blog, I’ve attached tag words to my blog; apparently, they help people find your blog. According to Jacobson (2009) while blog types may vary there are a few pointers that remain universal for all and they are:

·         Keep it focused

·         Keep it consistent

·         Keep it personal

I’ve tried my best to stick to these fundamental rules, in order to try and keep it consistent, I’m trying to publish 1 post a week to create some regularity on my tumblr page. I’ve also decided to post the URL link on my Facebook account in order to try and create some traffic on blog page.    

 After browsing some blogs put up by other tumblr users and from my own experience of blogging I can safely say that not all bloggers are self- conceited, pretentious t***s that I originally thought they were. I’ve come across many highly educational blogs (such as economical, health and political blogs). If I’m perfectly frank, I’ve found this experience of blogging somewhat difficult in comparison to writing a traditional academic essay. I feel much more under pressure to be constantly witty and entertaining and since there is no strict guideline to follow when writing a blog, I feel somewhat lost as I’ve become so accustomed to the authoritarian way of academic writing. And what is worse I had originally posted this blog entry 2 weeks ago to only find today that the context I had originally wrote had completely disappeared; whether I deleted it accidently or it was technical glitch I’ll never know. Anyway thank goodness I’d saved it on a word document or else I’d be in a bit of a conundrum.

I think I’ll finish up with another video this week, as I’m blogging about blogging this week, I found a pretty neat video about the concept of blogging. Enjoy watching!!

 

References:

Gardener, S. and Birely, S (2010) blogging for Dummies 3rd edn. Wily publishing: Indiana 

Jacobson, J. L. (2009) 24 rules of social media for small business. California: Super Star Press

Wiseman, E (2011) ‘Tavi Gevinson: the 13-year-old blogger with the fashion world at her feet’ The Guardian (20 September) [Online]. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/20/tavi-gevinson-new-york-fashion  [Accessed on 28 December 2011].

Recently at university I had my first ‘Making Web Cultures’ class, it was definitely an educational session, as I can safely say I left that lesson learning something new. The lecture was about the emergence of the internet, before that lecture I was one of those sinners who constantly referred to the ‘internet’ as the ‘web’ and vice versa, well if I’m perfectly honest I probably thought the ‘web’ was a synonym for internet. I must say I am a little embarrassed that I didn’t know the difference, as I religiously browse the web. I spend a ridiculous amount of time online; between work, uni and my personal life so I should really know the difference.

Dr Sanjay Sharma’s morning lecture revolutionised my perspective on this modern day tool. Who would have thought this device that’s used so regularly can have its origins linked back to Sputnik 1. Sputnik 1 was the first man-made object to be successfully launched into space by the former Soviet Union on 4 October 1957 (NASA, 2011). It is believed that this event raised concerns of a missile attack by the Soviet Union on America, in order to preserve America’s leading technology. 1958 saw the birth of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency); DARPA’s fundamental mission was to create advanced technologies and revolutionary systems for the U.S. military (Van Atta, 2008).  DARPA or ARPA (as it’s also known as) facilitated the development of a large scale computer network in order to speed up knowledge transfer; this was done by linking time shared computers into a national system (DARPA, 2011).

This network would become the ARPANET. It was only when the development of three other fundamental concepts were combined with ARPANET, that the foundation for modern day internet was created (Leiner et al, 2011): the Rand Corporation (U.S military network), National Physical Laboratory (NPL the commercial network in England) and Cyclades (the scientific network in France).

 In 1969, shortly after the creation of the ARPANET System the first host-to-host message was sent from a UCLA computer to a Stanford Research Institute (SRI) computer; connecting the first two nodes (computers). A further two nodes were added; one at UC Santa Barbara and the other at University of Utah. Thus, connecting all four university computers using the original ARPANET system by the end of 1969 (Leiner et al, 2011).


The following years saw the ARPANET grid grow rapidly, by 1972 there were fifty universities across America using the system. In 1973 the first ARPANET connection was established outside of the United States; connecting NORSAR (Norway) and University College of London (England) to the ARPANET grid (Sharma, 2011).

Before the launch of ARPANET there were only two primitive models for distributing communication through either a centralised or a decentralised network. In a centralised network, all nodes are connected to a single centralised hub; all information sent from individual nodes are sent to the hub and then rerouted to its original destination. If the route between a node and the hub is damaged, the node is cut off, and if the hub is destroyed, all communication is lost.  A decentralised network functions by using several centralised hubs which are joined together; however each node is still very much dependent on its hub (Sharma, 2011).

In 1964, Paul Baran introduced a third alternative - a Distributed Network- a communication network with no centralised hub. However, each node is connected to its neighbouring nodes in a lattice-like framework, which allows nodes to transfer information through a number of possible routes. In the case of a node or route being destroyed, another pathway would be available to pass information through. Baran’s notion was a communications network topology that was constructed around redundancy (Rand Corporation, 2011).


With the contributions of Donald Davies (British scientist from National Physical Laboratory) led to Baran’s idea of packet switching. Packet Switching is the term used to describe the method used for transmitting data through the network.  Any message that exceeds the network’s maximum capacity is broken down into smaller units, called packets. The packets travel through any given pathway through the network to reach their destination, where they are reconstructed back into a coherent message (Barn, cited in Sharma’s lecture, 2011). Both Baran’s packet switching and distributed network systems were adopted for the 1969 ARPANET project (Rand Corporation, 2011).

By 1982, with integration and development, these four models (ARPANET, RAND, NPL and Cyclades networks) were standardised and Internet Protocols were established; Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP). TPC/ IP verify the correct delivery and the transfer of packets. A number of other protocols (referred to as the Internet Protocol Suit) were developed; I have listed a few in the table below.  

Well I think this blog has gone on far too long! So, to conclude it was only when we covered internet protocols that I understood the difference between the internet and the web. The web was in fact a protocol (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) like the SMTP protocol or the FTP protocol and not the Internet itself. The HTTP protocol is used to transmit and receive information via any other protocol; by using a unique URL (Universal Resource Locator) (Sharma, 2011).  In the words of Tim Berners-Lee the Word Wide Web (www) is an abstract space full of information, on the web you find files and connections are made by HTTP links. Whereas the internet is more of a concrete abstract; you find computers and connections are made by cables (cited in Sharma’s lecture, 2011).

Before my first Making Web Cultures lecture I don’t think I even knew what the correct term for URL was (but I knew where to find it, though). I don’t think I ever stopped to think about where this magnificent technology derived from. But now that I’m conscious of the difference I will no longer use the word ‘web’ as a synonym for the ‘internet’, I am now fully aware that I am using web to write this blog.

Thought I’d finish up with a youtube video our lecturer showed us during class as I feel it makes the experience much more enjoyable than to just continuously read.

Reference:

 

Barry M. Leiner, B. M.,  Cerf, V. G.,  Clark, D. D., Kahn, R.E.,  Kleinrock, L.,  Lynch, D. C., Postel, J., Roberts, L. G. and Wolff, S. (2011)Brief History of the Internet. Internet Society. [Online] Available at: http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/internet-51/history-internet/brief-history-internet#Origins [Accessed 15 December 2011].

 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (2011) Image of the Day Gallery. [Online] Available at: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_924.html [Accessed 10 December 2011].

 

Rand Corporation (2011) Paul Baran and the Origins of the Internet. [Online] Available at: http://www.rand.org/about/history/baran.html [Accessed 19 December 2011].

Sharma, S (2011) The Internet- the Web [Lecture presented to MSc Social and Cultural Research and Media and Communications] 17 November.

Van Atta, R. (2008) Fifty years of innovation And Discovery [Online] Available at: http://www.darpa.mil/About/History/History.aspx Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, USA.  [Accessed 16 December 2011].