Archive for the ‘Class Topics’ category

War 2.0

April 9, 2009

Good morning! I realize that we didn’t spend a ton of time last night talking about Chinese censorship, so here’s a good James Fallows article on China’s Great Firewall, as well as an interview on the same subject.

Our subject this week is going to be the war in Iraq and the unique stories that have come out of it—the first war fought since Web 2.0. Remember how I said last night these tools are open to everyone? Here’s a story from today’s Washington Post about the Taliban’s website—that was hosted on a server in Houston!

The depth and breadth of this war’s coverage is unlike anything we’ve ever seen—particularly because of who is covering it. Feeling the traditional media wasn’t covering Iraq went and using VOIP technology, Swarthmore college students started putting together a regular news show interviewing Iraqis. Here’s an NPR story on it and then go listen to some of the podcasts.

The newest aspects of Web 2.0 in the war is how it allows us on the home front to hear from soldiers and civilians in the war zone in real time. Salem Pax was one of the first Iraqi bloggers in Baghdad, and the Baghdad Burning blog actually ended up being turned into a book. Its author, Riverbend, is still unknown.

Here’s a roundup of the best military blogs (or milblogs) right now and a site that rounds up milblogging. Army of Dude is one of the biggest. The military isn’t sure exactly how to deal with the bloggers (but then again, it seems to be like John Kerry: Both for and against the same things). Colby Buzzell‘s blog ended up launching a successful book (it won the Lulu Blooker Prize, for best blog to become a book) and he’s continuing to write for GQ. I recommend picking up the book if you want a good soldier’s memoir.

One of the biggest controversies to break out online is over Kevin Sites, who was an independent journalist in Iraq and videotaped what appeared to be a soldier shooting an unarmed wounded Iraqi. He now has a book/documentary out about his career. You can also see his Flickr feed. Here’s an interview that discusses his offbeat path.

Of course Sites isn’t the only one in Iraq with a video camera—the troops have them too and seem to spend a lot of time mixing patriotic videos (WARNING: some of this is graphic war footage). Dig around on YouTube and see what good videos you find. Controversial videos have also surfaced of private contractors shooting at civilian cars. This week, at least one YouTube video of the war.

The web is also being used to rally veterans to oppose the war. But is that a good thing? And remember games and the internet are how the military is signing up its new recruits.

This week, dig around, read a few blogs, and write about what surprises you. Is seeing and reading about war a good thing or a bad thing? Should we have this much access to the front lines?

UPDATE: This is your second-to-last response blog (which means it’s #11). Cecilia points out that while I’ve said you should have 13 response blogs total, you’ll actually only have 12 since I didn’t assign a blog post during spring break week. Thus, you’ll only need 18 blog entries total—12 responses and six additional—rather than the 19 the syllabus says. Congratulations—everyone starts off with a two point bonus!

You can’t do more than two additional blogs per week, so if you don’t have two extra blog posts already written you’re in trouble. Get blogging!


Welcome to the Wild World Web

January 22, 2009

Congratulations to everyone tonight for setting up a blog! You’re all journalists now, believe it or not. That’s all it took. I know I threw an incredible amount of information at all of you in a short period of time (and we had lots more we didn’t get to). We’ll cover more on the craft of blogging in coming weeks, so don’t worry if you’re still feeling a bit lost. For next week, you have a boatload to do:

1) Email me the link to your blog so I can start reading and can add you to the class blogroll so you can start reading each other. A reminder that each week’s blog posts are “due” by 10 p.m. on Tuesday the day before class to give me time to read them and choose some points for in-class discussion. Also, since this is our first email communication, make sure to tell me in your email whether you want me to use any email address other than your designated email address. If you have a personal or work email you’d prefer I use to communicate with you, let me know now.

2) You’ll find in the column to the left, by the blogroll, the link to the class feed as well as some Georgetown resources. Make sure you start reading some blogs this week and start posting items—almost anything could be relevant on the feed, from news articles to YouTube videos to favorite podcasts. And don’t forget to to tag items with your name so you get credit for them. You can go either to the website to post or you can install the browser buttons. I recommend the latter and, as I said earlier night, I also recommend switching to Firefox as your browser if you don’t currently use it. The username is socialmedia09 and the password is the class designation, mppr850. DO NOT SET UP YOUR OWN ACCOUNT.

3) Read Scoble—he has some great background on the web and blogging. He’ll also give you lots of tips on blogging and “voice.” Remember the Cluetrain Manifesto!

4) Get blogging! Read that post on blogging tips and the related articles that I posted in the feed and then take your new blog out for a spin and kick the tires a bit. I expect a lot of this is going to be difficult at first, so feel free to ask lots of questions via email or give a call. Next week we’ll spend a lot of the class on blogging tips, voice, tone, and what makes a good blog entry, and Scoble has tons of tips too. Also keep thinking back to Gillmor and the Cluetrain Manifesto, which along with the “Long Tail” and “Here Comes Everybody” (we’ll get to those soon) will be the foundational texts of the class.

5) For your first blog entry for next week’s class, write about whatever aspect of Dan Gillmor’s book you found most interesting. For this and all future “response blogs,” please start your blog title with “RESPONSE #1:” and then the title of your post. In future weeks, use “RESPONSE #2:” and so on, through #13. This is to delineate for me which blogs are in response to questions and which ones are free-form blogs.

6) If you don’t have an account on Google, please make sure to set one up before class next week, i.e., make sure that you have a address. You won’t have to use this for email, although it’s the best of the free email programs on the web.

I promise that future weeks won’t all include as much outside work; we just have to cover these important texts to establish the base on which to build the rest of the semester. As we used as a rallying cry on the Dean campaign, “To the blogs!”

(P.S. As you’re reading about blogs here and there over the coming week, think about what I purposefully did wrong in this entry that’s a blogging no-no. A bonus point next week to whomever can figure it out.)

In the Beginning

January 15, 2009

Good morning everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed the first class last night—we’ve got a lot to cover this semester but if you ever feel like we’re moving too quickly or you want to spend more time on a certain unit, please let me know.

Remember, for each class, you’re responsible for doing the readings assigned under the class title by class time. Each Thursday morning, I’ll post some additional background, reading, and notes here for the following class as well. Please get in the habit of reading this blog on a regular basis since important announcements will appear here as well. The syllabus is also posted as a PDF off to the right here in the blog roll, so if you’re ever out and about and want to it, just come here.

As general background, I wanted to provide you with some readings on the history of the internet. You don’t “have” to know these, but I’d encourage you to at least page through them (as ugly as they may be) and familiarize yourself with the background. Vannevar Bush’s essay “As We May Think” became the founding essay of the internet idea. We’ll cover this very briefly in class next week.

Remember your assignments for next week:

* Create a Facebook profile and “Friend Me.” You can search for me or click on this link to my profile (then click on “Add Garrett as a Friend”). We’ll get to Facebook later in the class in more depth but if you want to know what you’re getting yourself in for, read these articles: Wikipedia, Fast Company’s profile of the founder, Jeff Jarvis’s column, Fortune’s take, and Mashable’s company profile. And stay in touch with the latest on Facebook’s own blog.

* Create a LinkedIn profile and “Connect” with me (find my profile then click on “Add Garrett to My Network”). You may have to enter my email address. Use the Georgetown address on the syllabus. For background, LinkedIn is a more business-oriented social networking site and will be particularly useful for thos who are more PR-oriented as it is increasingly heavily used in the industry. Here’s some background: Guy Kawasaki’s take (you don’t know him yet, but another pioneer), some general background, and someone who didn’t like LinkedIn.

* Figure out a domain name for your blog. If you want to check whether your idea has already been taken, go to and enter in the domain you want to purchase—you can choose any ending available, from .com to .tv to .us to .org, etc.

As for the reading for next week, concentrate on the Cluetrain Manifesto and We the Media. I’d encourage you all to email me if you have questions during the reading. Dan Gillmor is a great thinker, one of the real pioneers of this new media world, and I think you’ll find We the Media very engaging and exciting. In future weeks I’ll try to post some questions to help guide your blogging, but for this week just think about this questions/thoughts:

* The Cluetrain Manifesto may seem a bit dated today but the sentiments and ideas expressed in 2000 when it first came out where mind-blowing.

* As for We the Media, some questions: What’s the impact of the changes Gillmor lays out? How does this affect your job and your life? What’s the appeal of citizen journalism? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the traditional media and of citizen journalism? How do you use media in the course of a week today? How much of what you read is traditional media versus something like Gawker or Pink is the New Blog?

Anyway, enough for one week—welcome to the wide wild world of the web! See you next Wednesday at 7:45. Don’t forget a laptop and a credit card. I’ll generally encourage you, as well, to email me whatever thoughts and questions you have over the course of the class. I’d love to hear from you all more rather than less.

Thanks for coming along for the ride—this’ll be fun.