Final Project: The First Email Message

December 11th, 2011

When I was looking for a final project idea, I saw the post on the timeline titled “First Email Message received at Mary Washington.” The post included the original text and time stamp from the email, then an idea struck me. A documentary could show how the addition of internet and email affected a college campus, and I could use UMW as the case study. I used superfluous film gained during a prior interview with Dr. Ackermann, discussions with Sean O’Brien of the CIO Office, and information gathered through some research on the current email load ont he UMW servers. I edited the video into a 2 minute 40 second video. I rearranged the interview to actually tell the story, and I added affects, transitions, titles, and some information to be used as comparisons. Once I finished the film, I uploaded it to youtube( Link here), and I embedded the film into the post on the timeline that describes the first email message.


Link to timeline post here

New Documentary

December 10th, 2011

For my Final Project, I wanted to flesh out one of the stories of UMW. How did the campus get connected to the internet and what was the first email? I had several conversations with Dr. Ackermann of the Computer Science department, Deborah Boutchyard of Network and Communications Services, and Sean O’Brien of the CIO Office for information pertaining to my project. To create the documentary, I used film gathered in an interview with Dr. Ackermann, and I used the information gathered in other discussions to provide further comparison and analysis to the story. Dr. Ackermann received the first ever email message at UMW (At the time, the school was MWC…) I learned some interesting facts about the early days of the schools internet.

At first, the connection was a 56K transmission rate. At my home in King George, VA, I have a 56K internet connection through dial-up. I can recognize the speed difference immediately, but how would I express that to students of the modern era or future viewers of the documentary? To accomplish this, I did a little math, failed miserably, and then I found a wonderful resource to accomplish the task much easier. I first calculated the file size of John Mayer’s last album, then I put that number into this webpage ( I found out that at the original UMW internet speed, it would have taken over 3 hours to download the album. Now, the album takes less than 10 minutes to download.

Interesting facts like this will hopefully allow any viewers of the documentary to understand the changes of the information age, and how the connection of the campus to the internet exhibits these changes.

Should the Geneva Conventions Be Applied to Video Games?

December 2nd, 2011

A recent article with the same title as this post appeared on The question was of whether or not should the conventions be applied to video games was not posed by Mashable or its writers, but by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The committee now believes the realistic war video games should adhere to guideliens set by the Geneva and Hague conventions. The Mashable article author explained, “The Geneva Conventions are a series of treaties and protocols created after World War II to establish international law around the humanitarian treatment of victims of war. The conventions prevent, among other things, the use of torture, inhumane treatment, hostage-taking, and excessive violence.” The International committee believes that video games should state or only allow actions allowed by the many conventions governing wartime actions. Some games, such as Modern Warfare 3 have begun to not allow the killing of civillians, but should the conventions be applied to Video Games?

By applying the convention rules to video games and not performing the same actions in works movies, TV shows, books, or comics, the International Committee of the Red Cross comes across as hypocritical. The level of engagement with video games may be greater than the engagement with movies or books, but the concepts are identical. Video games represent the same forms or niches of entertainment as action films or murder mystery novels. Restrictions on video game creators means restrictions on the entire digital medium.

Reflection on Documentary Creation

November 18th, 2011

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary project. It was a nice break from writing papers. Also, I feel that I learned some valuable skills working with iMovie and other digital media software. I can foresee using the skills gained in other projects, other classes, and in other vocational applications. I also found the topic of our documentary to be very interesting. Being a student within higher education, I do not remember a time before the CommonApp or before having a laptop in every single class, but there was a time when these were not in existence or thought to even be possible. This documentary forced me to reevaluate the past, present, and future of higher education. Throughout the interviews, one question continued to come to mind, “What will higher education be like in 30 years?” Will there even be brick and mortar institutions or will everything be available online? I hope there will be, because I have thoroughly enjoyed my four years at the University of Mary Washington. I cannot imagine not actually attending classes, interacting with other students, or knowing my professor personally. It is a more comfortable learning environment to feel accepted and welcome inside of a supportive, academic community. How will students even be motivated to stay taking courses if they just log on every now and then and listen in on a Youtube video for class? They won’t be. In some cases, completely online courses work better for students, adult learners, or casual class takers, but the current model of higher education should satisfy a large majority of students for the coming 30 years. What do you think?

Are students less intelligent than they were 20 years ago?

November 13th, 2011

While working on our documentary(“The Affects of Technology on Higher Education”), a question was raised in an interview, “Are students less intelligent now than they were 20 years ago?” Media and news outlets continue to pick up stories about technology making people stupid. Is this true?

The Atlantic ran an article in 2008 titled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The author raises some valid points, but he is a little dramatic at times. According to the author, Nicholas Carr, deep thought or concentration no longer comes easily to him. His beliefs are supported by our interview with Dr. Ernest Ackerman of the UMW Computer Science department. Dr. Ackerman believes that focus is difficult to come by as well. Dr. Ackerman also believes that people no longer consume information and then think on it or dwell on it. Has the Information Age caused remapping of our neurons? Has the Information Age created a dearth of knowledge creation? People are no longer just thinking about topics or becoming experts in a through concentrated readings of books. This change from knowledge to information is false.

With the internet and increased availability of information,  people are able to find out more about any topic than ever before. The internet allows for a liberal arts education. No longer do we have experts in very narrow fields, but we have people that are knowledgeable in many subject areas. With this change, people can think critically about content and solve problems critically. A key principle of this problem solving is the ability to think “outside of the box.” If this is the case, then the internet, nor Google, are ruining our brains, remapping the neurons and causing us to become thoughtless parasites. Rather, these online services and resources are tools for us further our knowledge farther than ever before.

Jeff McClurken

November 8th, 2011
Jeffrey McClurken was born on a rainy day in 1972. His mother, a stay at home mother, and his father, a cooper, chose to have a child for tax benefits. Little did they know that he would grow up to be a Civil War-ish historian. His credibility is yet to be determined by peer-review.  His high school years were plagued by D and D. His college years at Mary Washington College resulted in a BA in History. He almost completed his BA in Physics. His mentor, Luke Skywalker, taught him the ways of the force, while at Mary Washington College. Dr. McClurken's metachlorian count was much higher than even Dr. Bill Crawley. It was soon discovered that Dr. McClurken had chosen the dark side. He was banished to the Johnny Hopkins College for Challenged Youth, where he finished his education. When he returned to the University, he had reformed back to the good side. He exchanged his light saber for a green one, and moved on with his life. He now helps youth better understand 19th century history.

Outline and Sources for Documentary

November 8th, 2011

Here are some websites I found from The Chronicle of Higher Education that might be useful:

Option A: Narrative from a Student’s start to end of the college career
I. Introduction
A. Technology has affected Higher Education drastically
B. Positives
1. Efficiency?
2. Greater engagement
3. Academic Flipped Classroom
C. Negatives
1. Distraction
2. Learning curve for staff and faculty
3. IT Issues
II. Admissions
A. Common App
B. College search easier
C Ability to communicate with counselors, staff, and current students
III. Academics
A. Engagement
B. Projects
C. New Disciplines
IV. Library
A. Research
B. Resources
C. Library itself
V. Student Affairs
A. Greater engagement
B. Student Club communication
C. Resources avaiable to students

Documentary Update

November 6th, 2011

My group and I decided to create a documentary that explores the impact of technology on Higher Education. We are specifically looking at the question with a lens on the University of Mary Washington. We have set up interviews with a faculty member in Computer Science( He has been with the University since 1980), a faculty member in Education, a Assistant Dean of Admissions, the Dean of Students( He has been with the University over 25 years and was student at the University before that), and one of the lead librarians. We are hoping to get a broad overview of the changes to Higher Education and where technology can take Higher Education. We have only conducted one interview so far, and it was intriguing to get their ideas and opinions about Technology. As a student who has grown up in a computer society and never remmebers a time not having the internet, colleges have had to change and evolve with the technology, but our interviewee does not believe that technology has dictated teaching in Higher Education, rather technology has facilitated and provided new tools for engagement. At the end of the interview, I asked if students were any different than they were 30 years ago at Mary Washington. I got an answer that I should have expected, but I didn’t. The faculty member stated that students are distracted now and have access to all of the information in the world, but they do not ponder on it. His answer seemed to be accidental, but may prove to be a profound way to understand the Information Age in this Modern Era. He also touched on the difference between knowledge and information. I doubt that our documentary will solve this issue completely or even anywhere close. Hopefully with all of the class documentaries, we can get a better understanding of the modern Information Age.

Information and Technology Overload

October 23rd, 2011

This week’s readings and multimedia discusses hackers, their culture, and their hacking. Part of their hacking culture is their code of ethics(or lack their of, depending on your own personal beliefs). One of their ethics struck me, Information on the internet should be free and accessible. I agree with this to a certain point. I especially agree with regard to free information’s applications to education and the liberal arts. Websites like Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg have greatly expounded upon the ability for personal education. Twenty years ago, someone had to go to the library to research something. I feel that people rarely would pursue an educational pursuit that just popped into their head. Admittedly, I would probably refrain from going all the way to the library just to look up what is “Moore’s Law” or what is a llama a closest relative to.

Today, our family dinners consist of debates on current events and completely random bits of educational gold. We ask questions and having a house of “know-it-alls” leads to bitter struggles for intellectual victory. Each night, the discussion ends with, “No, you look it up.” Rather than running to the nearest library, everyone pulls out their smart phones or tablets to search for the right answer. If one person finds the answer, the other people search to find that same source to discredit it. (Who knew that my younger years would accidentally provide me with a window into the academic world that professors find themselves in.)

I am able to remember a time before these smart phones, tablets, and computers. Our dinner discussions back then would end with “Dad, what is the answer?” Dad knew everything, or so we thought. Our nights involved reading books or going for walks. Now, we all sit on the couches with enthralled in our own devices. Every now and then, someone will email the other person a link to the article they were reading, but other times there is very little discussion. A recent article on Mashable asked the simple question, “Is Tech Too Damn Distracting?” The author answered yes, and I agree. At home tech is too darn distracting, but should we cast it out?

No. No. No. It will be impossible for society to turn its back on the new technology and everything that comes with it, most notably, an unlimited source of information. Tonight, I watched a video on TED by Liz Coleman, the president at Bennington. She discussed the new role of Liberal Arts in our society and the need for a broad understanding of knowledge. This broad understanding can lead to unknown answers to some of the greatest problems plaguing our country, such as sustainability and infrastructure. Liz Coleman believes that everyone has the responsibility to develop a broad education. This is the only way that their civic involvement can be helpful. How does the average person have access to Liberal Arts without going to a four-year institution like Bennington with a $40k tuition or the University of Mary Washington with a $17k in-state tuition? The internet is the easiest answer. Where does this leave us?

At home and in our daily lives, there is a proper place for the use of technology. We, as a society, cannot exchange social exchanges for a purely digital social media presence. We cannot exchange family time with engrossing devices. We cannot exchange information for knowledge.

Liz Coleman’s talk on TED

Hipster Wurlitzer

October 18th, 2011

I do not want to give away too much from our project, but I can tell you two words: Hipster Wurlitzer. They are connected. I had no idea either. Neither were my idea. I wanted to do Aunt Jemima syrup or something funny, but Charlie came up with a great idea, Hipster Wurlitzer. It was a random shot in the dark. Everyone know what a hipster is if they see one, but how do you define one. A little bit of research turned up two fairly recent articles in the Time Magazine and the New York Times. They discuss the culture of hipsters, and their surprising origin. I had no idea, but the term “Hipster” began in the 1940’s to describe people hip with the music of the time. With an idea in mind, we researched advertisements of Wurlitzer jukeboxes. We chose to go with a print advertisement. We staged a party, and I took some photos of my group mates. They made perfect models. You may say to yourself… “Where’s the jukebox?” I can not spoil all of our trade secrets.

Party fit for a Jukebox