July 25, 2012 by Philip Basnight
I got my first turntable when I was 13 years old, but it’s only now dawning on me how the medium had avoided technological extinction. My turntable was a birthday present that I mostly used to play my mom’s old Beatles’ records on. Eventually, I started buying my own vinyl, usually used, just to say I had a record collection and occasionally hang the album art on the walls. Now, I will often re-buy my favorite albums on vinyl but for very different reasons.
I have been a paid subscriber to Rdio, an online music subscription service very similar to Spotify, for about two years now but the more I use it, the more I find myself wanting to switch entirely to a vinyl collection. Recently I found a video online that was part of the TED talk series by Barry Schwartz called, “The Paradox of Choice.” In this video, Schwartz details the way that having too many choices creates a sort of mental paralysis. The talk comes to a head as Schwartz argues, “the more options there are, the easier it is to regret anything at all that is disappointing about the option you chose.” The bad is amplified by comparison, while the good becomes more easily ignorable. It’s like eating while you’re still in the grocery store; of course you’re going to wonder whether the food on the shelves is better.
This video clicked with me immediately. I had been using Rdio to eat in the grocery store. Maybe this explained the romance of vinyl. Setting up a record is nothing like clicking “play,” or even finding the track on a CD. People often argue that turntables create a personal experience where they lack in efficiency. But the inconvenience of changing a record might just be the key to its appeal. When the choice is eliminated, the details start to come through. Once you relax and settle into a record, songs start to present something exciting and subtle. It was that inexplicable “better” that music snobs – myself included – always assign to vinyl. Not to say that something is better, or even worth listening to, just because it is on vinyl, but when choices are limited, those in motion start to come alive. I bet that finding those hidden melodies and building that personal relationship is the inspiration behind most music anyways.
I still use Rdio but I try to limit myself to exploring new bands and albums before I buy them and, since the service is low-cost, I’m trying to make the best of both worlds. Yeah, the Internet may have a world of music to chose from, but sometimes settling in (not just settling) is the key to enjoying your experience.
July 19, 2012 by Karthik Ilakkuvan
One of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is the uninvention question – “throughout history, there have been a lot of inventions that have changed the world. If you had the power to uninvent any one thing, what would you uninvent?” It really gives you an idea of what they find important, and it’s also a great way to see the inner workings of a person’s mind.
By far, the most popular answer I get is Facebook. I guess it’s the fact that we’re part of the technology generation or the idea that you take our internet away from us for one day and we go through withdrawal, but it kind of surprised me – the ability to uninvent anything, and you choose Facebook? The more I think about it, though, it makes sense.
Have we lost the importance of face-to-face interaction because of Mark Zuckerburg? Or do we appreciate it more because it happens less often? Have birthdays become less special because it’s no longer impressive to “remember” the day someone first cried their way on to Earth? Has Facebook chat and stalking people completely taken the joy out of actually getting to know another person? Are we quicker to judge because of what people put on Facebook? Or are friendships more superficial because you are now “friends” with anyone you meet for 12 seconds on a subway? And what about relationships – after all, we all know “something isn’t legit until it’s Facebook official.”
But imagine a life sans Facebook – would there be more “real” friendships? Or would we just find another outlet to procrastinate our time? We may not be as easily “stalked,” but I can’t imagine our time would be any more productive. Would keeping in touch actually become harder? And how would I be able to see those embarrassing pictures of you from the ninth grade? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I will tell you this – without Facebook, I don’t know how I would have come across something this awesome:
So after much contemplation (and the occasional SVU break so as to not make my head hurt), I have come to the conclusion that if I could uninvent anything, it would be those silly, unanswerable, fake-philosophical questions people put in their blogs.
July 16, 2012 by Kristina Venieri
As college students in the 21st century, I think we can all agree how vital technology and the Internet has been to shaping our outlook on life. Everything should be easy, fast, and convenient. If it’s not, then we probably don’t want to be bothered with it. Our primary mode of communication? – texting. Think about it – when was the last time you talked on the phone with someone under the age of 40 (a generously arbitrary number since our parents still prefer to hear our voice every now and then).
I just read an article about the increasing use of technology in the classroom, with over 90% of teachers reporting they have computers in the classroom. The cartoon pictures of elementary school kids naturally led me to recall how frequently, or infrequently, we used computers during my K-5 years. With computers still an exciting tool, we would all look forward to media class during which we would play math games on the computer and learn to type without looking. It was an especially exciting media day if we were allowed to play Oregon Trail for the first ten minutes.
Those days are gone. Not just for our generation, but Generation Z and those to follow. Never mind practicing typing on those computational keypads (so annoying that you couldn’t see your entire document). Nowadays, kids play Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja instead of connect the dots and color inside the line drawings to pass the time.
When I think of college education, I certainly agree that students should be integrating various technology and software into their learning programs. It’s important to excel at common programs used in daily business – we know how vital Microsoft Suite is to following along in that “Computers in Business” class. But is it also necessary for K-5 students to learn math problems from a PowerPoint slide, have access to calculators, dictionaries and hundreds of irrelevant non-educational applications on tablets, and use etextbooks to read daily lessons? Some days, I feel overloaded with the abundance of technology available at my fingertips. I already type all my papers, do most of my research, communicate with friends, professors and other school departments, buy textbooks, listen to music, read news, and network all on my computer. There are so many distractions on the computer, from scrolling through pictures, playing games, and of course – the Internet, it’s almost a miracle I didn’t get side-tracked while writing this. But alas, there are some choices I make to avoid the severe infiltration of technology in our lives.
Thus far, I have deferred getting a smartphone. Sure to change soon, as I have begun to succumb to wanting access to every part of my life (all those important emails and notifications) at my fingertips. I take hand-written notes (which actually reinforces what you’ve learned better than typing notes). I keep an assignment book, and don’t rely on iCal to tell me when my paper is due. I avoid checking my phone during meals, and certainly turn it off on dates. I still print directions because I like to know where I’m going before I get there.
What am I embarrassingly guilty of? Carrying my phone with me everywhere around the house. Using my cell as an alarm clock in the morning. Not having a regular watch. Relying on music when I go for a run. Checking the weather five times a day to plan ahead. Asking Siri silly questions on my sister’s iPhone. Texting, rather than calling, friends to make plans.
Imagine a world where K-12 students are required to have iPads or other tablets instead of filling their school desks with pencils and crayons. It’s coming soon to a school near you. As we increasingly turn to technology for the most basic daily functions, I fear for ours and future generations’ ingenuity, creativity, fitness and social skills. As important and prevalent as technology is in our daily lives, I’m not convinced that young children should be so highly exposed in the classroom and jeopardize their excitement in hearty child’s play.
March 29, 2012 by Admission Ambassador
Today, my schedule for the Fall 2012 semester was created! I am really excited to be taking six business courses towards my Accounting major. Even more exciting is that all of my classes are in Miller Hall!
Miller Hall is the beautiful and new as of 2009 academic building which houses both the undergraduate and graduate schools of business here at the College. Some of the building’s perks include a business library, the Boehly Café, a career center, and a financial markets center. Additionally, the lounge on the first floor with the big fireplace is one of my favorite places to study on campus. Next year, I’ll never have to or will want to leave!
My freshman year, I took Principles of Accounting in Miller. The classroom was amazing and was filled with state of the art technology. On the way to class, I would pass by a dozen study rooms each equipped with a television making doing group projects an easier task. One thing that the business school stresses is working as part of a team. During the Integrated Foundation Semester (first semester in the business school), you are placed in a group. You take all of your Foundation classes with your team and do all of the group projects together. From the feedback I have been getting from juniors and seniors who have completed the Foundation, I am really excited for next semester!
When constructing the building, William & Mary wanted to keep it as green as possible and as a result, Miller uses 23.5 percent less energy as compared to a similar sized building. Equally as impressive, Miller Hall has received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council!
For potential business majors or minors, I suggest taking the video tour. Prepare to be amazed!
January 23, 2012 by Chuck Bailey
One of the courses I am teaching this term is Earth Structure & Dynamics (GEOL 323), a second-level geology course, and a required class for all Geology majors. This course combines structural geology, tectonics, geophysics, and a pinch of historical geology. Thirty-four students enrolled in this year’s class, that’s plenty, and free seats are hard to come by in the classroom.
As you might guess from the course title, I want students to be well versed at recognizing and understanding how earth structures form. What is an earth structure? Anticlines, reverse faults, half-grabens, stretching lineations, and boudinage (to name a few). This requires three-dimensional thinking, and 3D thinking requires much practice. On Friday, I projected an image of a craggy mountain side in the Needles Mountains of southwest Colorado and asked the class to 1) sketch the geology, 2) identify the salient geologic structures, and 3) work out the temporal history of the geologic events. I annotated the image such that different rocks and surface landforms are illustrated. Talus is rocky debris that has accumulated at the base of the cliffs: I want the students to “see through” the talus to visualize the underlying bedrock structures.
The limestone crops out above both the gneiss and quartzite, and it is the only one of the bunch that’s not been metamorphosed, therefore it is the youngest rock in the scene. But which of the metamorphic rocks is the oldest? The class struggled with this one. From the image alone the age relations are not discernible, but notice the quartzite is weakly metamorphosed (in contrast to the gneiss, a well-metamorphosed rock) and the original layering (bedding) is evident. Based on this information the quartzite is younger than the gneiss.
The boundaries between the different rock types are structures (referred to as geologic contacts). The limestone overlies the older metamorphic rocks along an unconformity, whereas the gneiss and the quartzite are juxtaposed across a fault (but just what type of fault?). Many students overlooked the significance of these geologic structures, but with practice, these abominations will stop!
The photo is two dimensional, but how best to help bring out the third dimension? Google Earth to the rescue—we zoomed from space into the Needle Mountains to about the same vantage point as the field photo was taken. With the tilt, pan, and zoom function it was easy to see the steep slopes of talus and that the limestone forms an erosional cap above the older metamorphic rocks. We will use overlays and tours in Google Earth to hone our visualization skills in the coming weeks. I want the Earth Structures students to translate from 2D to 3D without a hitch, by the end of the semester they’ll be dreaming in 3D!
So what is the temporal history of the geologic events? Here is my interpretation from oldest to youngest:
- formation of the protolith for the gneiss
- burial and metamorphism to form the gneiss
- uplift and erosion
- deposition of sand that forms the protolith to the quartzite
- burial and metamorphism affects the gneiss and creates the quartzite
- faulting juxtaposes the gneiss and quartzite
- deposition of the limestone
- minor tilting
- erosion to form the modern topography
- I take the picture
What the Geology 323 students worked out was the relative timing of geologic events, a fundamental skill for earth scientists. The next logical step would be to determine when, in absolute terms, these events occurred—that comes later in the semester when we delve into geochronology.
February 19, 2011 by Adreanne Stephenson
What? There is one of those? I know it’s hard to believe because stress lives on all three floors of Swem Library, especially the third which is too quiet for my taste. However, in the basement of Swem lies the solution to all problems, well at least for a little while.
Though I am revealing one of the most coveted secrets of my junior year, I feel compelled to share this little known fact with you. In the basement, there is a media center where you can book a studio equipped with microphones and recording software.
My friends use it to record our lovely voices to all types of songs, from country to Disney to rap and R&B. It is hilarious and great stress relief. Who knew singing was so much fun. Sometimes we sounded good but most of the time we sounded not so good. We still have those tracks in our iTunes and every once in a while it will play and I just smile.
There is bonding between those laughs. You learn about background sounds that you never heard in the original song—because nine times out of ten they do not exist. You learn that half your friends really can hold a tune and if you all really tried, you all could sound phenomenal. However, it is a lot more fun if it sounds horrible, not record label worthy. So, what usually happens is you mess up and try to hit the high notes of Mariah Carey just because you will surely get a chortle or two. We had good times in Swem’s basement…now it is time to make your own good times.
February 15, 2011 by Admit It!
Admit It! You’ve been a bit perplexed by our mascot’s lack of legwear. Last spring, William & Mary revealed a new Mascot; the Griffin. The mythical creature has the head of an eagle (a nod to William & Mary’s American history as the second oldest college in the United States) and the body of a lion (a nod to our British heritage — the College was founded by royal charter by King William and Queen Mary of England). Well, shortly after the Griffin’s unveiling, alum Jon Stewart ’84 was quick to joke his alma mater saying “Griffin” was ancient Greek for “rare pantless, tailed eagle”.
Well, Jon’s quote was what, in part, inspired W&M’s most recent example of historical innovation, something we’ve been perfecting for over three centuries. Today, the College’s Office of Creative Services unveiled the Dress the Griffin app for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches and Android phones (the app is free). Now prospective students, current students, faculty, administrators, alumni and Griffin enthusiasts worldwide can dress the Griffin in shirts (including one with President Reveley’s likeness), hats, gloves, shoes, and most importantly, pants. Accessories, backgrounds and sound effects are also available so the Griffin can go from colonial merchant to hula bird to Elvis impersonator (or would that be im-bird-ator) with a few clicks and drags.
Want to attend a college with premier academics? We’ve got great faculty for that. Want to walk past one of the most romantic spots on a college campus everyday on your way to class? We’ve got the Crim Dell Bridge for that. Want to be inspired by a list of historical firsts as long as your arm? We’ve got 318 years of history for that including the nation’s first law school, first collegiate honor code and first fraternity for that. Want to take a class in the oldest academic building in the United States? We’ve got the Wren Building for that. Want to spend four years with a wonderful diverse, eclectic, engaging and intellectual student body? We’ve got 5,800 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students for that. Want to dress our mascot? Now we have an app for that.
Wendy Livingston ’03, M.Ed. ’09
Senior Assistant Dean of Admission
September 21, 2010 by Gloria Oh
In addition to our biweekly classes that meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays after our internship, otherwise known as our “9 to 5′s,” we also have site visits on Friday. “Site visit” is really just a glorified way of saying field trip — at least that’s how I see it, and it’s fine by me — anything that keeps me feeling young is cool.
So far we’ve visited the Gelman Library at George Washington University, Library of Congress and its Packard campus for Audio Visual Conservation, C-SPAN, National Archives, and Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting. This coming Friday, which is Family Weekend, we’ll be having our site visit at the Newseum. During these site visits, we go on a tour of the institution with an employee while engaging in active discussion. From these talks, we learn a lot of valuable information that not only concerns the organization at hand but also issues that impact them.
Because we’re studying new media and culture, there has been a steady stream of keywords that continue to pop up during our visits and our class readings. We’ve come across issues such as digitization, intellectual property, copyright and fair use, the switch to HD, upgrades in technology, the integration of social media, and the use of new media to provide more access to consumers. Sometimes we pack the day with two site visits which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but surprisingly drains most of our energy!
We have been extremely fortunate enough to spend time with professionals that are passionate about what they do. Here are the names of the people we’ve spoken to–through the art of networking, we’ve come across some alums. Speaking of alumni, we also had our Annual W&M Reception alumni event at the Embassy of Australia just last week for the greater metropolitan/Northern Virginia area. It was pretty sweet listening to President Reveley discuss why the griffin wears no pants (it’s not gender specific). This was of course during candid conversation. Reveley, more importantly, addressed how W&M is going through tough financial times, with 88% of our funding coming from private sources. He talked about how our College can no longer depend on the state of Virginia to help us out, etc.
Back to the subject at hand. Here were the professionals we spoke to and some of their key points they made:
Gelman Library, GW:
- Ann Brown, Reference and Instruction Librarian: Brown discussed GW’s project on digitizing media (VHS, DVD) and making them accessible on Blackboard for students. She said their streaming services was a major hit at GW, with the library receiving 12,000 hits in one semester versus 1,500 circulation items over the course of a year. Some of the challenges their staff faced while streaming media included intellectual property rights, breaking encryption, and experiencing copyright issues.
Library of Congress:
- Abby Yochelson, Reference Specialist: Yochelson informed us that the LOC has recently amassed all of Twitter’s tweets for archiving purposes so that future generations can look back at what we are tweeting today! Worth it? Only time will tell. Although, speaking from my internship experience, I know that the world of television and DC politicians love Twitter. It’s the new bathroom wall, Pete Williams, NBC Chief Justice Correspondent told us interns over lunch today.
- Patrick Loughney, Director of the Packard Campus: Patrick engaged us in an active discussion on whether film is considered art. Is the medium itself art? Or is it only what is recorded on to the medium that can be so? What items are preserved and what constitutes the canon in media archiving? He also showed us sub-zero chambers where historic media pieces were stored, including Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.”
- Brian Lamb, Founder and CEO of C-SPAN: Lamb discussed how C-SPAN maintains a lot of independence because it is not for profit. Not fueled by money, the public service channel is free to work on projects they think are relevant. Lamb talked about the power of change and choice that has come with new media, stating that during his youth, there were only 3 channels — Now viewers have the choice to watch what they want. It has changed the relationship and perception viewers have of news media.
- Mark Farkas ’83, Executive Producer of historic programming documentaries covering the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court: Farkas stated that the news paradigm has changed much since the internet, and that with these new media changes, producers must react accordingly. C-SPAN manages change by leveraging the multi-platform of tv, radio, web to reach out to viewers in more ways.
The National Archives:
- John Powers ’89, Civil Work Group II Leader- Classification Management of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO): Powers described that an archivist works with agencies to determine which records are permanent or temporary. They are responsible for archival processing and reviewing records for restriction. He stated that the National Archives is first and foremost an institution that protects the rights of citizens by archiving documents of national interest. There are currently 10 billion pages of paperwork that are classified to be permanent records of the government. Yet this only makes up 3 to 5% of the archive collections!
Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting:
- Ann Peters, Director of Development and Outreach
- Summer Marion ’08, Special Projects Coordinator
- Peters and Marion, together, approached topics on journalistic ethics and standards. They explained that their news organization operates differently from other news outlets because it funds international projects that are under covered in main stream media. Some of their news projects include the water crisis and Lord’s Resistance Army. Marion stated that Pulitzer Center strives to transform journalism from information to engagement. She mentioned that the reality of main street news was that “covering Britney is cheaper.” In regards to conforming to main stream media, Peters commented that “regardless of how the media landscape changes, we have to focus on what our ethics and standards are.”
September 5, 2010 by Gloria Oh
This past summer I interned at the local CBS affiliate, WUSA 9 News Now in DC. Prior to starting this internship, I had an interest in working at a local news station in order to gain exposure to the world of broadcast journalism—a field of media I was curious about.
Although I was officially the assignment desk intern, I was unofficially allowed to work with pretty much everyone in the newsroom. This included the assignment desk editors, producers, reporters, editors, writers, and photojournalists. On any daily given basis, I could be seen flitting about different parts of the newsroom, always learning.
The assignment desk was not without its perks. Situated above the row of producers, assignment desk editors are constantly scanning, or “ripping” the wires and radio for news. You could argue that it is the generator and heart beat of news. It’s where news begins. Communication is key here. While some may point out that assignment desk editors merely transfer phone calls to the “right people,” a true journalist, or producer for that matter, will know just how invaluable a good assignment desk editor is.
A great assignment desk editor will not only be good at talking on the phone but will know how to reach out to people to get them to talk what the news station wants to hear. In other words, they have personalities and can get the right tips for great news leads. They also seem to know everyone, and by everyone I do mean EVERYONE. Because assignment desk editors field phone calls from left to right, they know many contacts and are the starting point for many reporters looking to start a story. They speak with the public, reporters, unit crew, media, police and fire departments, and other PIO’s.
How does WUSA 9 communicate? Well, that depends on the time of day. You can usually tell when shows are about to air in correlation to the noise levels in the newsroom. The closer it is to deadlines, the more organized chaos you’ll see, an oxymoron if there ever was one–but it seems to work for this field. Producers frantically call in their reporters to make sure all their blocks are ready to go. Reporters send in last minute tape, SOT’s and whips. Executive producers can be seen on their blackberries, getting information from other sources and the assignment desk periodically shouts out new information. It can get pretty tense at times. But there are also the standard methods as well: phone transfers, toplining (which is a term used for short messages sent through Avid iNews), meetings with the manager and Executive Producers, and constant email updates. I think one of the producers told me he goes through about 200-300 emails a day! The work dynamic is definitely interesting.
Communication is the name of the game here, and there are many ways to go about it. My personal favorite? When a reporter is out live somewhere, and the microwave or control room has a live feed on them. The reporter usually has an earpiece hooked in, and it’s really amusing to see the last couple of minutes before they’re on air. Before all the graphics go up on the TV screen to make news look like, well, news, all you see is the reporter and the raw footage around him or her. I think you know when you’re in the TV industry when you see national CBS correspondents muttering under their breath, practicing their teases and tags, or when you see unexpected things happen—like the time strong winds from a beach blew a sound/lighting screen and almost hit a reporter during his opening lead! Now that’s entertainment for you! But in all seriousness, it is quite exciting to observe the constant interaction between reporters/producers out in the field and the relaying of information back to the newsroom. Without effective communications, there would be no news, which in turn would mean a less informed viewership.
Some important lessons I learned about journalism this summer? I’m not going to get into the whole bandwagon debate on how journalism is changing because that would take quite some time to elaborate upon. Not to mention that every reporter, producer, and editor I talked with had differing opinions on how the industry was in flux. However, I will tell you that in order to survive or “make it” in this field, you must be extremely aggressive and self-motivated to find work for yourself. No one waits for you because everyone is so preoccupied with their own deadlines and projects. So it’s important to take strong initiative and be vocal about expressing your ideas. Because of the rise of digital media, you must be willing to learn and know everything despite your specialization. That being said, the only reporters that seem to be hired these days know how to shoot, edit, and write their stories. There are different titles for them, but WUSA-9 called them MMJ’s, or multimedia journalists. Producers, too, need to know how to research and edit. Journalists and those in the news industry must always have an insatiable curiosity and willingness to find and break news—added points for doing it creatively. It’s also tremendously important to be current. If you’re not willing to adjust to changes, whether it is technological or logistical, then this definitely is not the field for you!
In retrospect, I appreciate the broad scope of knowledge I received while at WUSA 9 because it allowed me to understand how news works as an organization. Going in, I had my own preconceived notions about how TV worked, and this internship allowed me to see the real deal. Another great bonus? I know that everything I learned at channel 9 will help me during my fall semester internship at the NBC Washington Bureau.
June 9, 2010 by Admit It!
Clearly communication between applicants and admission officers has been on my mind of late given my past few blog posts on the matter. Over the past several weeks I’ve discovered another communication disconnect between admission offices and students; a failure to find a medium on which we can connect. Raised by a Jewish mother who was herself raised by my Jewish grandmother meant no invitation went without an RSVP, no gift went without a thank you note, and no message went unreturned. However, then we had only snail mail and land-line phones. There was no email, no social networking, no cell phones…and before you assume I’m ancient I’m only 29. But man what a difference a decade can make in terms of the means by which teenagers communicate and the mediums open to them. There’s email, Gchat, Facebook, Twitter, College Confidential, text messaging, cell phones, and probably a whole host of other arenas that I’m not even familiar with. Not only are we sometimes unaware of how students prefer to communicate but we are also confined by standards of professionalism and decorum.
For example, we realize that many applicants do not check answering machines or voicemail (often indicated by the fact that many do not record personalized greetings for their voicemails) and many do not check email on a regular basis. We know that Facebook and texting are more instantaneous and popular but we as admission officers cannot leave confidential information (an offer of admission from the waitlist for example) on someone’s Facebook wall and the character limit on text messages would make leaving such a message difficult, not to mention less-than-professional looking. So we still use what might be viewed as stone-age technology (voice messages and emails). Yet oftentimes these messages go unreturned and the messages are often of critical importance to both the school and the student.
Some might say the solution is to reach out to an applicant’s parent(s) but the college search process is a growth opportunity for the student and colleges treat it as such. We purposefully communicate with students about everything from application status to admission to grades and bills because we want students to start asserting their independence and to take responsibility for their lives in such a way as to prepare them for adulthood.
I think that for now, until there’s a happy medium of communication which allows for popularity with students and professionalism and privacy to all intersect, students simply have to commit to checking and responding to voicemail and email. You wouldn’t want to miss an important message from one of us and we’ve found no better way to send it. Please just be responsive. We promise to be waiting by the phone.
- Wendy Livingston