Archive for February, 2008

McLuhan + Computers + Webkins = One Long Blog Post

So, I really enjoyed this McLuhan video we watched the last two classes. It was cool to actually see him in action as suppose to read his work. It was also interesting to gain insight on what it was like to be around him, hear him talk and learn from him. I feel like his brain was working so fast and he has so much to say that it would have been truely amazing to see him speak in person or better yet have a conversation with him. The video really helped for me to see what he was like, a man with so many ideas and so many things in his head that didn’t always make any sense to everyone else. I don’t know if its my recent facination with observing the inner workings of geniuses that are often percieved as crazy people, but I really enjoyed learning about McLuhan’s life that didn’t always make sense but certainly produced a lot of amazing concepts that were revolutionary for his time and even our time. And of course, I couldn’t help but feel the irony of watching this “cold” video on his life.

On a completely separate note, I wanted to say a little something about us having computers in class. I always find when computers come with internet theres always a distraction to do things you shouldn’t do ((facebook, internet games, ect)), especially when you are in class. However, I find that for that very reason it is extremely appropriate that we have computers. In our class we are studying not only the impacts of the internet and computers, but the possibilities that they create for us. By having the computers in class, we are making those possibilities a reality that is right in front of us. On that note, I wanted to talk about the final project some.

As I said earlier, Jess & I were thinking about doing our project on the Alice program. After discovering the world of webkinz, we threw away our idea for Alice (at least for the project). For people who don’t know, webkinz is the new huge crazy among the young kids that are simular to beanie babies for my generation. But to connect webkinz to just beanie babies would not be fair, the webkinz world is a combination of beanie babies, neo-pets, the sims, tamagotchi pets, and every internet game that you found addicting (like solitaire and mahjong). The catch is how the webkins have not only created this world surrounded by everything that little kids would find addicting, but its educational too? Yes. The webkins teach youngsters about responsibilities, love, managing money, common knowledge trivia, math, memory, and even gardening (just to name a few)….but it does this in an addicting way that keeps kids wanting more. For example, in order to make money for your little pet monkey ((named alfonzo)) more money to buy another plant for his garden, you have to play games or get a job to earn the money. No “rosebud” cheat code for this game, you have to earn the money. There are tons of more ways the webkinz world sneaks in things that makes you want to check everyday or sometimes every hour to see whats new to make your little pet happy. Okay, so I’ve been a loser and playing with webkinz a lot this past week & a half. But my point is, you buy this cute little monkey stuffed animal and now your trapped into this non-physical world that feels like a real world surrounded by lots of cushion (the word “gay” is not in the Webkin vocabulary when you play a word game). How could that not be addicting? For the final project, I play to not only be an expert, but explore ways why Webkinz is so successful at getting childrens (and apparently college students) attention with their connection to their physical world and the imaginary one they built through their computer. I have some more ideas…but nothing else worth sharing yet.

Published in:New Media Studies Class |on February 28th, 2008 |2 Comments »


So, as I’ve been doing my reading for class tomorrow, I can’t help but to keep thinking about our conversation we were having at the end of class regarding education. While the idea of having a computer system to teach students sounds great….it really lacks in a lot of the important things that students need. Each student is different. Each person is different. That means that they require different things out of a class. For example, I had a hard time learning how to read when I was little. I was just an average kid in second grade…except I had no idea what was going on in the classroom. By third grade my public school pulled me out of classes in their attempts to help me with a smaller class setting with other kids that had problems in the classroom. The only thing was I had a learning disorder while most of the other students that were pulled out had social or mental disorders. This made the environment even more distracting and confusing for me. The funny thing is that my public school was really advanced for that time…it wasn’t until recently that public schools started requiring more specialized help for other students. Anyways, I was fortunate to go to another school that specialized in students with learning disorders, while who knows what happened to the other students that were pulled out of classes with me. My point is that each student is shaped differently and requires separate attention that only a person can decipher. Having a computer system full of information cannot be the only medium to teach or correct information. That work is only something a human can do.

Published in:New Media Studies Class |on February 14th, 2008 |Comments Off on Nelson//Education