Wuthering Heights
Mere Christianity
Madame Bovary
Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Crime and Punishment
The Forgotten Garden
These Is My Words
The Help
Ella Enchanted
Princess Academy
The Goose Girl
The Kite Runner
The Great Gatsby
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
The Giver
A Wrinkle in Time
Lord of the Flies
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ender's Game

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ebooks. what kind of content?

I should have thought about what I was getting myself into when I signed up to do this research. Very little straightforward information has been given on the internet [at least where I'm looking] about what is produced specifically to be an eBook or literary works that have been reformatted so they can be read on a Kindle, iPad, etc. 

As you can see, our class finally decided on a final project. We're still working on unified content between all of us, but it's been decided that an eBook is the answer. Each of us was assigned to do some research about eBooks-- publishing [like on Goodreads-- a great idea by Ashley Lewis], formats [by Bri and Nyssa], length [by Taylor], use in education [by Amy and Carlie], consumption [by Rachael], . My assignment-- types of content. 

Because there was so little research already, I did some analysis of my own. I went to  Amazon.com Bestsellers in Kindle Store to see what audiences have been choosing. Of the top 20 paid bestsellers, one is a game, two are autobiographies, and the rest [17] are popular novels. Of the top 20 free bestsellers, one is a collection of biographical short stories, one is a cookbook, one is an iPad how-to, four are games, and 13 are novels. A good number of these novels [both in the paid and free bestsellers] look like trashy romances.

Obviously, our class is not going for a game, a cookbook, or a trashy romance novel, but a good number of the popular eBook buys are autobiographical. Especially as a child I would go through LDS magazines to get straight to the stories sent in by every day people. And even today those autobiographical stories are the most engaging. I don't know how we as a class could make our literary works relate to our own lives, but I feel that for many audiences, including autobiographical information in relation to whatever we're writing would be much more exciting than plain literary criticism. [This may go against my hope for "legitimate literary criticism" the last paragraph of this post, which I never thanked Dr. Burton for so completely addressing.]

Friday, May 27, 2011

antiracist pedagogy in Huck Finn using project muse

Bri Zabriskie, one of my classmates, is researching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I decided to try to help her out in her research because there are many similar themes in our two books. From what I know, she's interested in relating Huck Finn to education, so I used the database Project Muse to look for an article that may help her.

In the advanced search boxes, I put "Huckleberry Finn" AND education and after looking through a page or two of results, found this article:
Barrish, Phillip. "The Secret Joys of Antiracist Pedagogy: Huckleberry Finn in the Classroom." American Imago 59.2 (2002): 117-139. Project MUSE. Web. 27 May 2011.
This article talks about the difficulty for white liberal professors to teach in an anti-racist way in classrooms with mostly white students. In a way, while trying to be anti-racist, racist backgrounds and sentiments are very likely to arise, generally subconsciously. He talks specifically about the "oft-discussed dilemmas" brought up by Huck Finn, especially using the n-word in classrooms.

Hopefully this relates in some way to Bri's research. I found it especially interesting to read a professor's personal thoughts on the subject and the way he was dealing with the issues he bring up. There may even be an opportunity to contact this professor, if Bri is interested.

[bri, i'm not sure that this is exactly what you're looking for, but it's an idea. i hope you get something worthwhile out of it! also, while i was looking i found an article by Kenneth Kid called "Boyology" that talks about the problems young boys have and how we should educate them. it only barely mentioned huck finn, but i thought you might be interested because you are having a boy :)]

harper lee's south and the LRC

After finding my first article [read about how i did it here], I am confident that I will be able to find more information about the white Southern reaction to To Kill a Mockingbird through LRC. LRC, or Literature Resource Center, is a database that I have never used before. It focuses mostly on the most-studied authors with biographies, bibliographies, critical analyses, and other online resources.

To make sure I'm doing the search right, I'm using the Advanced Search mechanism [second tab over on the top] to search for "To Kill a Mockingbird" AND Harper Lee AND South*. Few results have come up, but at least there are more than five to look through. Under the "Literary Criticism" tab, the fifth result down is this article:  
Erisman, Fred. "The Romantic Regionalism of Harper Lee." The Alabama Review 26 (1973): 122-36. Web. 27 May 2011. 
[i used RefWorks to create the citation. i highly recommend it!] 

Erisman claims that the Maycomb of TKM is in many ways a microcosm of the South, reminding readers that many Southerners have a way of holding onto the past. Erisman focuses specifically on the social structure ("keeping blacks in their place"), the "power of the sexual taboo" (focusing on the way empirical evidence is overridden by the caste system), and the white class distinctions (and the subtleties of those distinctions). This is what Erisman calls the romantic regionalism, and states that Harper Lee used these specific levels to show that the South has the potential to transform into a region of functional romanticism. The main content of the argument is how the everyday man, represented by Atticus, can make this change in spite of harassment and mistreatment. Erisman concludes by stating that the South can no longer stand alone. Reaching out and realizing it's place will be difficult, and there will be change, but at this point it is necessary. 

This article is an older one, but for my topic I believe it will be helpful. The article was written 9 years after TKM was published, and comments on the Southern social system at the time. The perspective of a critic not too long after the book was published, and the way that he thinks, is telling of the focus of critics in that time period.  

Thursday, May 26, 2011

putting To Kill a Mockingbird back in its time with JSTOR

Welcome to Aly's step-by-step guide of using BYU's online databases! Are you ready? This is a type-as-I-go kind of deal. Be prepared for twists and turns.

To find my first article, I will be using LION, or Literature Online, which is an index of English and American poetry, drama, and prose, as well as journals, criticism, and other resources. I chose LION because it is completely available online [which is helpful for when I'm not on campus] and it also has a specific focus on American prose and criticism.

Because I don't have anything particular that I am searching for, my initial inquiry is simply "To Kill a Mockingbird." I have found here a book of critical essays. There is a link right on the site for exporting the citation directly to RefWorks, where I am able to immediately get the full citation. Unfortunately, I am now hitting a roadblock with this particular site. The chapters from this book aren't online. Even after searching in the MLA and EBSCO databases and doing a general search, I haven't able to get what I want without going up to the library, which at this point is out of the question.

Start over.

I'm frustrated, so I'm moving on to JSTOR, which focuses on humanities, social sciences, and more recently other sciences. Once again, I enter "To Kill a Mockingbird," but these articles aren't exactly what I'm looking for. Enter my recently acquired Boolean skills: "To Kill a Mockingbird" AND South*. Immediately more of what I was looking for was on the top of the list.

The first one that caught my attention was this one:  
Chura, Patrick. "Prolepsis and Anachronism: Emmet Till and the Historicity of to Kill a Mockingbird." The Southern Literary Journal 32.2 (2000): pp. 1-26. Web. May 27 2011.  
This article is putting TKM in historical context, showing some of the conflicting dates and then comparing the trial of Tom Robinson to the circumstances, emotions, tensions, etc. around the murder of Emmitt Till. Chura uses comparisons between these two events to make claims about Harper Lee's perception of the Southern and the racism prevalent especially in that time. Scout's narration is used, in Chura's opinion, to show the kind of sleepy, dream-like, not completely aware state of many Southerners.

Finding this article has been a really helpful resource for the direction I think I would like to go in. I've been looking at putting TKM back into its historical context and figuring out how a white Southerner would have read this book. Of course, this article was written 40 years after the book was written, but it has given me hope that I may be able to find more about the history of the time period and the reaction of Southerners to this book.

it's time to get serious. an lds ebook?

I'm searching for a subject on which to focus in my blog. It's still hard for me to even choose a subject to begin researching for To Kill a Mockingbird because I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be doing with it. Maybe I should start with the artwork [both professional, amateur, and student work] like classmates Amy Whitaker and Rachael Schiel, to bring some unity into our ideas. But I also really like the approach that Taylor Gilbert took when he found a scholarly article to help me with my research; I've been thinking about the idea for a while now, trying to read the book from a Southern perspective. Unfortunately, as I've been researching there is very little to do with Southern reactions when the book was first published or anything of the sort. It's been frustrating. Anyway... back to the real content of this blog post...


In class yesterday, we had conversations about what we would like to do for our final project. The general consensus was an eBook. Now... what in the world would we put in an eBook?

Before I give an idea of the content that should be included, let me give an overview of my vision of the layout:
  1. An introduction co-authored by the whole class 
  2. 1-2 pages for each member of the class (focused on their specific literary work-- check out their selections here)
    1. Within each class member's "article" of sorts, should be different types of media, such as video or audio. It is an eBook, after all; why not use the unique opportunity to include the interesting, non-text sources or things we do ourselves? [such as al gore's ebook that dr. burton mentioned during the first week of class. here's a link to a review in the new york times.]
  3. A conclusion, also co-authored by the class
I mentioned in class yesterday that we have a very unique opportunity to be here at BYU and be able to bring our LDS religion into the classroom. Taylor Gilbert made a comment while I was talking to him about this idea that was really interesting. I'm paraphrasing his idea a little, but he said, "Most of us are not experts in very many things. But we are experts at being LDS; most of us have been LDS our whole lives. Why not use the assets we have?"

Obviously getting the rest of the class's approval and feedback on this idea is key, but, Taylor is right. One thing most of us know for sure is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Using the religious knowledge we already have, we could connect each of our literary works to some type of LDS concept [especially the three pillars of eternity: Creation, Fall, and Atonement], and then put it together with videos of our testimonies [i'm not sure if that would be completely appropriate, but i like the idea] in the conclusion. We could market it to not only the LDS community, but those looking for different views of literary criticism.

One thing I was hoping to get from this class is learning to effectively write legitimate literary criticism that would deserve attention. So far, I haven't seen much of this instruction. As I begin to focus my blog and write a little more formally, I would really appreciate feedback on my writing and advice for improvement. And at least a paragraph or two of legitimate literary criticism should be included from each of us in our eBook.

What do you [especially my classmates] think?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

eeeekkk!! somebody answered!

The past couple of days I've been looking for websites where I could start a thread on a forum [and actually get some response] about To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm still not positive exactly what I wanted to know from people, so I started with posting the following note on BookCrossing and a slightly different one on an African American Forum on Topix:


I imagined opening up my inbox to find hundreds of beautifully written answers to my questions. 

Well, by the end of the 1st day my hopes were lying lifeless on the floor. I understand that my note was not the most beautifully written thing, but  I thought that some lover of TKM would surely see it and take just a minute to answer my simple questions. To say I was disappointed would be... very true.

 But I opened my inbox the 2nd day and I felt like this little kid [i may or may not have made this very face]:
via godisthere.wordpress.com
A woman! Who would be willing to answer my questions (but only by email). I stalked her BookCrossing profile a little bit, and to be honest, there was not much information. But her picture... That was a clue. She's a teacher! So I sent her the questions via email along with a plea to tell me about how she taught TKM. This was her response [questions in italics]: 
Why do you think this text is important? Or do you think it's important? 
Like Atticus I suppose I think that just because you won't win, doesn't mean you stop trying. The message of TKAM is timeless, ideal, and necessary-- perhaps more today than ever. If we could truly live like Atticus, not just say we live like Atticus, it would be a better world. The text is important because we all have a character in the book that we can relate to. As close to perfect Atticus is, he still isn't perfect. But he tries to do his best. 

When was the last time you read it? 
I last read the book when I taught it, about 8 years ago or so. 
Do you remember the first time you read it? 
The first time I read it, I was in college and it was during a summer. I had never read it in high school-- but I never read much in high school. I think I was supposed to read it, but I must have not been ready to understand it. I do remember that the first time I read it, I was mad at Harper Lee for convicting Tom Robinson. I was so sure that he would be acquitted. 
How many times have you read it? 
About 12, probably. 
What were your assumptions of the book before reading it and what were your thoughts after reading it?
I think I had a lot of the assumptions that a young person growing up in the North would have. I had never really seen racism, and in my house we didn't use racial epithets at all. I never heard either of my parents use any derogatory comments against people. I guess I grew up thinking that we were better than the people in the South because we had won the Civil War. But I wasn't conscious of that at the time at all. Only now do I understand the whole picture-- and how i really do need to get into the shoes of someone else to understand life from their point of view. 

Do you feel like it stands up to multiple readings? 
Oh yeah. I believe, and tell my students, that we never step into the same book twice. A classic will give us the opportunity to see the book differently because we are different. Today I read the book as a parenting tract. Atticus is one of the best literary parents ever. I especially like his patience. It goes a long way in parenting. I also appreciate the humor much more every time I read it. The snowman chapter cracks me up every time. 
Do you think this book deserves to continue to be taught in schools? Why or why not? 
Definitely. I can't think of another novel that does, other than Huck Finn and maybe 1984. I know that it must be valuable because people still want to take it out of the English curricula. I also think that, in general, we need to include more reading in our classrooms. The patience and critical thought it takes to read a novel is a skill that my students need. We must show them that they can't just click away from a page if they get bored... but I digress.  

The best project I did with my students was to have them create bag collages. Outside the bag, they include images of what they show the world about themselves. Inside the bag, I ask that they include one thing that not everyone knows, but that they could share with their classmates. I like to think they learned a bit about each other for one day. It works as a great writing prompt, too.
I couldn't be more pleased about her response.
She gave me just what I was looking for [although i wasn't looking for anything in particular] and more.
Included in her answers were a couple of great ideas that I hadn't thought about looking at before. Parenting by Atticus? I'm leaning toward looking into that.
Also, did you catch her comment on digital culture? Read it one more time: 
"The patience and critical thought it takes to read a novel is a skill that my students need. We must show them that they can't just click away from a page if they get bored... but I digress."
As of yet I haven't written her a thank-you/followup email, but I'm considering asking her about that comment and what she feels about the digitization of books and that sort of thing.

Do any of you have any thoughts or questions?

Friday, May 20, 2011

i wish i had thought of this first

You know those ideas that you practically die over once you find them because you know you could/should have thought of it? 

Let me introduce you to my "I-wish-I-had-thought-of-this-first" idea:

The very first one was merely two months ago, March 5, 2011. 
Guess what happened? 
1,000,000 books were given away (40,000 copies of each of these 25 titles).
The idea is that a person reads the book and then passes it on to someone else who might enjoy it. You can track where the book has been on the website, along with have discussions about the books that have been passed around, etc. My fiance's father was in England at the time and was given one of these books [and from what I know, has really been enjoying it]... That's how I found out about it.
Pic from this blog (one of the 20,000 people chosen to distribute 48 copies of a book)
The next one is planned for April 23, 2011. I'm planning to participate in some way [If I can't actually participate, I'll at least read a couple of the books on the list and get into the discussion].
Golly. If only I could do something like that for my project. If I had my way and all the time in the world, I would give away a million copies of TKM. Then I'd create a website all about the thoughts people had as they read the book this time around. Wouldn't it be interesting to see interpretations from across the world? from different age groups? and races? and genders? 

Ahhh... I'm dying. Someday this will be me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

now what?

I finished TKM today. I haven't read it since 8th grade, so it was good to get back into the story.

But now what?

As I've been reading my classmate's blogs I'm amazed at what they have come up with, the people they've contacted, and the ideas that simply seem to flow.

I'm not feeling the flow. I really like the idea of trying to read the book as a member of the "authorial audience," or reading it in the way Harper Lee intended it to be read. But what's the point? I've been trying to find something meaningful to do, like Bri's idea of making a website based on her book for others to use, but my idea hasn't come to me yet. I'm stuck at the moment, so I apologize and just ask you to bear with me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

thank you, dr. burton

In his introduction to Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed [now on my to-read list], Richard Shaull writes: 
Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes "the practice of freedom," the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.
I don't think I've ever heard this idea put into words more concisely. When I read this, it struck a chord and I immediately thought of my favorite teachers, from kindergarten to today. They all have at least started me in a direction of critical and creative thinking that have started me on the path to at least thinking of ways to connect and create with those around me a better world in one way or another.

It's not very often that I get excited about a school project. In this class, however, I've found myself thinking of things I never would have thought about and learning the skills that might actually make that possible. Thank you, Dr. Burton for choosing to do something different with this class and helping each of us to find a way to "transform our worlds."

So, here's a shout out to all those teachers [and future teachers] who will change the world vicariously, through their students. THANK YOU.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

i just had an idea

Remember this post on reading TKM from a different perspective? I've been reading an article about Postmodernism for my 251 class and thought of something a little different today as I came across this quote:
I believe... that we, as a race of people, will see progress, but only if we all cooperate. ... Cooperation among scholars from all fields is vital. Gone are the days of individualism. Gone are the days of conquest. Now is the time for tolerance, understanding, and collaboration.
Since our knowledge always was and always will be incomplete, we must focus on a new concept: holism. We must realize that we all need each other, including all our various perspectives on the nature of reality. We must also recognize that our rationality, our thinking processes, is only one of many influences that can lead us to an understanding of our world. Our emotions, our feelings, and our intuition can also provide us with valid interpretations and guidelines for living. 
And we have finally come to realize that no such thing as objective reality exists; there is no ultimate truth, for truth is perspectival, depending upon the community and social group in which we live. Since many truths exist, we must learn to accept each other's ideas concerning truth, and we must learn to live side by side, in a pluralistic society, learning from each other while celebrating our differences. 
We must stop trying to discover the undiscoverable--absolute truth--and openly acknowledge that what may be right for one person may not be right for another. Acceptance, not criticism... must become the guiding principles in our lives. When we stop condemning ourselves and others for "not having truth," then and only then we can spend more time interpreting our lives and giving them meaning, as together we work and play.
Sorry, that's a little long. We have been studying so many different theories and methodologies of literary criticism and, to be honest, I have no idea which one I believe works the best. I find that while I'm reading an article on Formalism I completely agree, but then when I read something on Marxism I immediately switch over. So maybe it's simply because I just read an article on Postmodernism, but the above quotation is something I believe in. Still not quite sure how I feel about it pertaining to literary criticism, but at least it's a start.

Where can I get views of those who are different than I am? I'm not sure how I would do this, but my first thought was having a TKM marathon on a Saturday with people of different backgrounds, ages, races, political views, etc., and then having a discussion. Honestly, I don't think this will happen, at least not in person. But maybe using the skills I have learned from this class and trying some new things I could put together a forum and somehow get people from all over to read the book at the same time and then collaborate on the internet.

And then what could this group of people do together to make a change? I'm still working on this part. But I think it could be something worthwhile. Any ideas?

my first prezi find... scottsboro trials and TKM

This isn't much, but of the presentations I've seen on Prezi, this one is the most concise and informative.

hooray for diigo! and getting married!

Well, it's on Facebook, so that means it's official.
Saturday night my best friend and I got engaged!! We're so excited! 

What, you are asking, does this have to do with anything on this blog? 
#1-- It's my blog. And when there's news this big... I get to share it!
#2-- We're planning a wedding. And it's hard to get everyone in on my ideas. So now I'm using my digital skills that I've learned in this class and putting them to good use and I just wanted to share what I've learned [yeah, it's really basic. but it's a good start for me!]

It's been really useful for me as I've stalked wedding blogs to use Diigo to just bookmark and take screen shots of what I like. 
I've created a Google Doc so we can make notes and start putting together a guest list. Also on the Google Doc are flower, photography, and other ideas to show to the florist and photographer without having to bring my own computer. 

It's making putting together a wedding in a couple of months a lot easier! Does anyone have other ideas for making the planning easier?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

how to read

In class yesterday, Dr. Burton told us to read our novels [i'm doing To Kill a Mockingbird by harper lee] in a different way. I was not quite sure how I was going to do that, maybe looking through the index and reading sections looking specifically for how they relate to a certain subject. Today I was reading an article called "Actual Reader and Authorial Reader" by Peter Rabinowitz and came across this sentence:
"[I]n the case of successful authorial reading, the author and readers are members of the same community, so while the reader does in fact engage in an act of production, he or she makes what the author intended to be found."
Obviously, I am not from the deep South of the 1960's. And I'm not exactly sure who Harper Lee was hoping to have read her book. And I know this isn't necessarily reading the text in an explicitly different way from how I usually read a novel, but I think I'll start by trying it this way: reading it as if I were a member of the white middle class in the deep South in the 1960's.

What do you think? Is this going to be any different from the way I read now?

it keeps popping up...

Now that I'm thinking about life as How-can-I-turn-this-into-a-blog-post, ideas have been popping up everywhere. 

I've been brought back to Rainbows End as I've watched the Australian who sits next to me in my Eng251 class play on his computer all through class. Most the time he's shopping or checking email or Facebook while taking notes and participating in class, but there have been a few choice moments when he's looked up something useful. Who says the Epiphany haven't already been invented? Today it just comes in the form of a portable personal computer. 

Yesterday, in that same class, someone brought up Science Fiction 2000 and RiffTrax, both of which do commentaries on movies. Science Fiction 2000 showed the movie with their shadows on the bottom of the screen and their comical commentary over top of the movie's script (A REMIX!). Unfortunately, they ran into copyright issues and have been stuck with the awful public domain movies from the 50's ever since.  
RiffTrax, on the other hand, have created mp3s that you can download on their website and play along with the movie. Here is a sampling from one of my favorites to make fun of...

Ta-Da!! Fun, right? And a great example of remix. Now, go and have some fun with it!

Friday, May 13, 2011

final review of Rainbows End

Rainbows EndRainbows End by Vernor Vinge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting read, but not my favorite.

When I was assigned to read Rainbows End for a class, I worried about re-entering the realm of sci-fi after a long hiatus. Fortunately, there was only a minor struggle to get back into the mindset. I was pleasantly surprised by characters I could relate to and "science" that wasn't too far out of my realm of thought. Vinge brought up legitimate concerns with the advancement of technology, but left the reader to deal with and come up with answers to the problems he presented [which I feel like he should've at least addressed]. Fiction-wise, Vinge left me sitting on my bed wishing there was more, not necessarily in a good way. It was difficult for me to fit together the two stories that were finally connected to each other in the last couple of pages. Overall, though, I enjoyed reading this book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

guest blogger: michael davis on Frindle

Mr. Michael Davis has been reading books for the better part of four years.   While perusing through his Father's library, he stumbled upon this modern treasure.  He picked it up and read it in one sitting.  Since then, Frindle has been one of his favorites.  "I read it every year just as summer break comes to a close to prep myself for the upcoming school year.  I find that it invigorates my mind and inspires me to set out to accomplish something worthwhile," Davis says.  "If we don't wake up everyday with a purpose, then that day might just slip away."

But, in reality, he has been someone I have bounced ideas off of and who has given me a little extra umph when I've felt inadequate to blog. I joked about having him be a guest blogger, but then it really happened! So here he is. Michael Davis on Andrew Clement's young adult novel, Frindle.

Creation.  Legacy.  Every human longs for these two things.  To leave our print on humanity. To create a wake in the sea of history.  Whether we are born with it, or if it is something that is gained as we grow and live and love, we all have the desire to create something of worth. 
Chances are that if won't be easy.  Perhaps others will tell you that you cant do it.  And perhaps, even on occasion, it will be yourself casting unspoken doubts on your dream.  What ever the challenge may be,  the resounding cry, "Yes!  You can!" can be heard.  And if you listen closely  the encouraging cry can be heard anytime, anywhere.
That is why I adore and take courage from Andrew Clemons' classic Frindle.   A young boys dream  to accomplish and create something comes to life in this lively young-adult fictional masterpiece.  Even when others told him he couldn't follow his dream, he didn't give up, turn back, or let go of his dream.
I hope you enjoy this beautiful story of a young man's dreams.  And that you, too, remember your dreams. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

my "remix" experience

My first, and honestly almost only, experience with what Lawrence Lessig calls “remix” was putting together a simple slideshow of pictures of my high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz. We showed it at the cast party and a couple of kids asked us to put it up on YouTube. No one was expecting to go make money off of it; we just wanted to show off our awesome costumes, set, and memories. After going through hours of editing and cutting to make it fit the 10 minute time limit, we pushed submit.

The next day, we found that our video wouldn’t be posted because it contained the song “Home” by Switchfoot. We were frustrated to say the least. Switchfoot should have been honored that we wanted to put our favorite memories to their song. I would’ve been if I were an artist, even if I were rich and famous.

Well, in the end it wasn’t worth the time and effort of going through and trying to find song that fit as perfectly with our pictures as this one did, and a song that would be allowed on YouTube. Our video was never posted.

As you can see, my experience with "remix" has been very limited. My family has never been one to get into the “Remix” culture, so I haven’t necessarily connected personally to the book. Lessig, however, makes sure that his reader is engaged, no matter who they are or what their opinions are.  I am one who is engaged, and consequently learns, by real life stories. So, the stories behind Amazon, Google, and other top websites have piqued my interest. Once I've gotten a little bit better idea of how this idea of "remix" works, I'll let you know.
[p.s. i’ve found it really interesting reading about the power of using the people who use your product to make your product better. therefore, my next book to read is Crowdsourcing by jeff howe. who knew? my next book to read of my own choice is a digital culture book. we're turning over a new leaf!]

creating content daily

My attempt to create daily content has failed already.

I had the honest intention of coming back to my apartment after FHE and creating a beautiful, insightful review about RE on Goodreads and then recommending that site to you. As you can see, this isn't that post I hoped for [maybe tomorrow?].

Intentions of a beautiful, insightful review were foiled when I walked from my boyfriend's King Henry apartment out to my car to find note on my driver's side window and a boot. A BOOT. That is an easy $50 right there. An easy $50 that I do not have to freely give away. But I was so frustrated and tired that after waiting for 30 more minutes than they said, I handed over my stinking debit card and walked away.

Why didn't I say, "Was a boot necessary? Why not the [more reasonably priced] $10-15 ticket? Where do you expect visitors to park if they can't park on the streets after 10:00 and there's no visitor parking?" Does anyone have the answer? Please comment, if you do.

Lame excuse, I know. But my content for today [well, now i guess this content is for yesterday] is now simply a frustrated half-rant. I apologize, readers. Hopefully something better will come along tomorrow.

Friday, May 6, 2011

more about Rainbows End

After finishing reading RE, I couldn't exactly put my thoughts into words. I wasn't completely enthralled with it, but didn't mind it either. Ben Wagner is one of my classmates who I think viewed this book as I did. Check it out!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

i have a confession...

"Welcome to the English major. 
You will read about 800 pages in the space of a week. Go."
That's not really what my professors said, but it feels like it. 

If I were about 12 years old, this wouldn't be out of the ordinary; I'd probably eat it up! And at first, I did. But sitting inside staring at a computer screen quickly turned me into a zombie. I would like to tell my roommates and their boyfriends that I'm not just a lazy bum when they walk in the door and I'm in the same spot they left me 6 hours ago.

I was so sick of reading the assigned stuff [not that i didn't like it, i was just in a bad mood] that I picked up my roommates copy of The Time Traveler's Wife. I did something last night that I haven't done in at least two years. At 8:00 p.m., I started reading, and closed the book 5:00 a.m. When I did this as a kid, I'd get grounded from books. Now, I have no one to punish me except for myself; which I'm sure will happen when I start dozing off in the next couple of hours.

Can I be honest? I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Maybe a different book choice would have made this a more gratifying experience [there were far too many swear words and sexy scenes for my liking]. So why did I continue? My reasoning went something like this: 
  • Love the movie
  • At least this is something I have picked
  • Can't stop now... 
Reading so much of what I wouldn't necessarily choose myself is probably a good thing; it gets me thinking and looking in directions I wouldn't otherwise. But I don't remember the last time [besides last night] I read a book just because I felt like it. And as I hurried through The Time Traveler's Wife I couldn't help but wonder if I will ever again enjoy just sitting down with a good book, with no time restraints, and letting myself enjoy every word.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


"A blog isn't a monologue." 
Dr. Burton made us say that out loud in class today.

There's something I don't love about that. 
I'm not much of a writer. I began blogging to get myself writing about daily life; I've never been much good at keeping a journal. Up until this point, my blogging has not really been anything for people to read. It's just for me as I try to think things through. Now, it's different. I have a professor and other brilliant students who I sit next to every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday looking at my thoughts. My mind is screaming, "I WANT THIS TO BE A MONOLOGUE! Nobody else has to care." Honestly, this mindset could be rooted in deeper insecurities that may or may not be running through my head: "I'm not going to be able to write about anything in a powerful way, anyway. Even if I come up with ideas, someone else in my class has probably already said it and said it in a more beautiful and moving way."

There's also something I do love about that.
I love the idea that I don't have to be the only one contributing to this blog. Someday I hope to influence someone to do a little bit of their own research on a topic I have written about. I hope to attract other researchers with whom I can share insights and information. There are just a few problems with this. I don't see how I'm going to do that if I'm not the most beautiful writer or if I don't have anything new and exciting to say. Also, I'm sure my fellow classmates are brilliant, but they probably don't have the time to do research on To Kill a Mockingbird while they research their own book. Nyssa Silvester voices my worries and also is showing a way she's reaching out.

So, please, if you have something to say, say it.
And have any of you found a way to connect to others with the same interests?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

let it be made known: The Rainbows End experience.

Let it be made known, fellow classmates, and whoever happens to stumble across this blog, 
Today, May 3, 2011, I, Aly Marie Rutter, finished Vernor Vinge's Rainbows End in a marathon fashion.
 Yes, I'm proud. And I will brag about it a little bit, because it was harder than I thought it was going to be.
[wondering what this book is? i'm not going into much plot detail, so check out sam mcgrath's summary and analysis of the first couple of chapters... i thought it was really concise and insightful. or wikipedia is always a good source :)]

Let's talk first about my "reading in a digital format" experience.

I estimate that I spent about 9 hours staring at black Times New Roman font on a white screen [fine, it wasn't all in one sitting. but it might as well have been]. Whoever says that aesthetic is not important, try reading a 368 page book like that.
Never before have I finished a book in a digital format. I started Anna Karenina on my dad's iPad, but my patience, eyes, and time ran out. Staring at a computer screen isn't as exciting to me as turning the physical pages of a book. Honestly, getting used to looking at word after word on a screen got boring [but i suppose you could make the same argument for word after word on a page...]. I didn't know how far I was or how long it would take me to finish. I couldn't take it outside to read in happy sunshine... You can't see the screen if it's an exceptionally bright and beautiful day [like today, for example]. Until books get shredded up by the Huertas of the world, I will read them in the paper format. 

Anyway... let's continue. Sci-fi hasn't been on my "to-read" list for a good five years, but that doesn't mean I can't be entertained by it. Yes, I did read [and thoroughly enjoy] the whole Ender series by Orson Scott Card. And I found myself enjoying RE enough to keep reading without being miserable. Cool ideas [that i don't necessarily think will happen], but more than anything, an escape.  

As I saw my scroll-bar near the bottom of the screen, I started to look for one-liners that explained the theories behind this book. Many of them correspond our world as well as the futuristic one. Here are a few:
"For a weird instant Tommie looked like an old rake with some sweet young thing. Just another image from the past that had nothing to do with the truth."
Ideas, assumptions, preconceptions, science, the things that we think make us who we are so often become obsolete. 
"So often that I think the others were using me to generate some questions for inspiration, and then warping them to their own purposes. In the end ... I came to treasure these bizarre interventions. My dear hijackers were asking questions I would never have conceived."
My first thought is, "Ah... why can't the smart people just be good? What could be accomplished if we just harnessed that questioning power?"
"I got a new life, but the Alzheimer's cure ... it destroyed my talent."
     Not only is this a powerful statement about what could happen with the advances of certain technology, it is Robert Gu admitting his weakness. I hardly noticed the change in Robert Gu; it was almost imperceptible. I found myself wondering if he had changed at all until he was alone with Miri in the tunnels.

For the first time since he lost his marbles, he was creating something that others valued.
In my experience, correct me if I'm wrong, if the things you are doing are not appreciated or at the least understood, there is no drive to continue doing what you are doing. I think a lot about this and related ideas.
"I don't need this. I am happy with the new me!... And hovering immanent all around him were the worlds of art and science that humankind was busy building. What if I can have it all?"
This is the last line in the book. And it wasn't what I was expecting in the slightest. High-five to Vinge for surprising me and making me think, but truthfully I was angered. Robert Gu was brought back from the dead. Cured of Alzheimer's, which caused the death of my own grandmother and whose frequency has increased 66% between 2000 and 2008. What a selfish way of looking at the miracle that has been gifted to him.

But wouldn't I want the same?

And don't I say things very similar to that most days?