(optional) extra credit: social networking discussion tonight (Tu 2/18)!

danah boyd, a well-known researcher of teens’ identities, behaviors, relationships (etc.) in social media platforms, will be discussing her forthcoming book, It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, tonight, from 6:30-8:30pm, at a free event in Manhattan, at the Institute for Public Knowledge.

See here for more event details and to RSVP.

This event is very relevant to the themes of our course, and, therefore, I encourage you to attend the event. If you do so, and post a blog in response, you will receive extra credit (it will replace one missed blog, or count as an additional extra one, if you’ve done all of them). Just “comment” here if you are going to do so.

HW for Tu 2/18

I hope that you survived the snowstorm OK, and that you are enjoying the long holiday weekend!

As we discussed in class, please make a summary of “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” for Tuesday (2/18). You should create your summary according to the guidelines in my “Strategies for Summarizing” post, and post your one paragraph summary (no later than Monday night), categorizing it as “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

There is no new reading for Tuesday, though I expect you all to carefully re-read/annotate the previous three readings we have done so far. You should come in on Tuesday ready to discuss these texts, being able to point to Marche’s own claims/evidence in the article (identifying his argument) as well as being able to articulate your own claims (argument/analysis) in response to his article, along with evidence to support your claims.

Make sure that as you re-read the texts, you practice reverse outlining, and that next to every paragraph of the articles, you jot down what the main ideas are, not only in terms of what is being stated (the content), but what role/function it has within the author’s larger argument (the purpose).

See you all Tuesday afternoon!

HW for Tu 2/11

For next week, we will continue to build our active reading and summarizing skills as well as to explore how we connect/socialize in a technological/networked world. In preparation for next week’s class:

1. Review my “Strategies for Summarizing Post” as well as the handouts on “Annotating a Text” and “Guidelines for Writing a Summary” (which can be found at the top of the Writing Resources page on our OpenLab site).

2. Read Stephen Marche’s “Is Facebook Making us Lonely?” (don’t forget to print out the PDF from our online Schedule, actively read it, highlight, mark it up, and bring it to class with you).

3. Analyze your own social media activity (and that of your friends),make a multimedia blog post in response (categorize it appropriately, as “Is Facebook Making us Lonely?”). A multimedia blog means including not just text/words, so your post should include screenshots, photos, videos, etc. or anything else you find relevant/appropriate (while respecting/protecting the privacy of you/your contacts).

As always, you should begin your blog post with a brief (objective) summary of the article, and then from there move into your own analysis/response. All blogs are a minimum of 500 words, and are due no later than the Monday night (at 11:59pm) before class.

Some things to think about as you read the article and then look through your own social media sites and those of your friends:

  • How many “friends” do you have on Facebook (or “followers” on Twitter, or people in your “circles” on Google+, or similar connections in other social media sites)? Out of these “friends,” how many would you say that you are actually “friends” with in real life (someone you would feel comfortable calling up if you needed help, or whom you actually communicate meaningfully with)? Marche’s article discusses “real friends” (2), the “confidants” (3). Do you feel as if you have meaningful social bonds, friendships, and communication on Facebook, or only “ersatz intimacy” (6)?
  • What kinds of “communication” and “socializing” do you do regularly on Facebook or social media? What about “tagging” and “liking” and re-posting, and commenting? Do these activities serve to build community? What about status updates, with people posting about themselves and their lives all the time? Look through your news feed on Facebook. What kinds of things do you see people posting about? What do you post about?
  • How do you “[c]urat[e] the exhibition of the self” (9) on Facebook? What about the “constancy of the performance it demands”?
  • What kind of things do you use Facbeook and/or other social media sites for? What kinds of information do you get there, or post there? Do you engage in “composed communication” (5), “passive consumption” (6), and/or “broadcasting”?
  • Survey your friends, informally, and ask them about their usage habits too (and also check out their Facebook profiles).
  • Engage with the claims about Facebook and loneliness made in Marche’s article. Test them against your own lived experience using Facebook (and other social networking sites such as Twitter, Google+, MySpace, Instagram, etc.)? Consider this article in relation to Turkle’s “The Flight from Conversation” [where she claims, “We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true” (4)] and Megan Garber’s “Saving the Lost Art of Conversation” (Turkle’s ideas are actually discussed towards the end of Marche’s article).

We will continue these discussions going forward, as we move into reading Anderson’s feed, and upcoming readings on privacy/tracking/filtering on the Internet.

(You don’t of course, have to answer all of these questions, and certainly not in this order. These questions are discussion starters to get you thinking about the type of things you might write about in relation to this semester’s themes/topics. Your goal is to reflect, critically, on both your own and your friends’ social networking usage and its connection to Marche’s article–and other texts we have looked at this semester).

Strategies for Summarizing

We had some good conversation in class today about strategies for summarizing effectively. Thank you all for sharing your summaries and writing with the class and for asking important questions.

Here are some of the things we discussed about summary (as well as a few new additions). Please take some time to review them over the next few days, and use them going forward (remember, each blog post you do for this course should begin with a summary of the text/s before you move into analysis/response).

I also encourage you to continue the conversation by posting comments to this post (just hit “reply”) with further strategies (I’d love to hear your thoughts) and questions about summarizing. I’ll be checking in on this discussion over the next few days and am happy to continue this conversation online here to help you become more comfortable with the summarizing work we have done (and will continue to do) this semester.


-The length of the summary will vary depending on the length of the article you are summarizing, but in general, summaries for a short article should be one paragraph that are each neither too undeveloped (e.g., 1-2 sentences) or too over-developed (e.g., 12-15 sentences).

-Since you only have a short space to convey the main points of the article, you should get right into the text’s thesis right away (remember, the thesis is not the general subject–such as technology–but a particular author’s argument about a particular topic or idea). While it may be useful/desirable in other types of writing (creative writing, more informal writing) to start with generalizations and/or questions in order to engage your reader or ease into the topic, in a summary paragraph you want to immediately and clearly state the author and title of the text and the text’s thesis. Doing so in the first sentence of your summary will help you to focus your attention on the task at hand: summarizing the text’s ideas (not bringing in your own ideas and opinions). Remember, a large part of writing effectively and successfully is to consider your purpose and your audience. In this case, your purpose is to convey information, in as straightforward a manner as possible, to readers about the content of a text (what the text says). You are not asked to respond to that content, or evaluate it. You don’t have to worry about grabbing your reader’s attention. Your primary goal is to summarize a text.

-You should only include discussion of the main point (thesis) and essential supporting points of the text. You will not be able to mention every detail or example the author uses. Use active reading to help you identify key words, identify the author’s claims, and locate important supporting points.

Summaries should be concise, which means to-the-point. You only have a short space to convey a lot of information (a pretty difficult task!), so every word you write is precious. If a word or sentence doesn’t help to summarize the text’s main points, then it doesn’t have a place in your summary. Instead of spending time repeating ideas, discussing something generally, or beating around the bush, be direct and clear. State the author’s main ideas and stay grounded in the particulars of the text itself.

-Summaries should be written in the third person (she, he, it, her, him, its, they, them, their), not the first person (I, we, my, our, us, me) or second person (you, yours, yours).

You should not include your own experiences, opinions, ideas, interpretation, analysis, bias, etc. You are not writing a subjective response or giving your point of view/response to the text. Remember that, when writing a summary of a text, your task is to concisely and accurately state the text’s thesis and supporting points. Therefore, your focus should be on an objective discussion of the main ideas of the text you read. Writing in the third person will help you to maintain this objective stance.

-In your summary (and all essays), write about the text in the present tense. Even though the author wrote the article in the past, you still discuss it, always, in the present tense. Some examples are: writes, states, claims, argues, examines, discusses.

You may use quotations from the text, but these quotes should be used sparingly, be short, and be relevant to the point you are discussing. Remember if you use the exact words from the text, you must indicate this by using quotation marks (” “) around the word and to provide a citation for that quote. We’ll discuss citation in greater detail this semester, but for now, remember that we using MLA (Modern Language Association) style. For MLA citations, simply provide the page number in parentheses after the quote. E.g., “sacrificed conversation for mere connection” (1).

(When you are discussing more than one text, you will also need to include the author’s last name in the parenthesis, but for this summary, which only is on one article, you can simply provide the page number.)

As always, I’m happy to discuss summarizing with you in more detail during my office hours (we can look at your summaries then together as well). Please feel free to schedule an appointment to see me for when I return from my conference if you’d like some individualized feedback on your writing.

‘feed’ now available at City Tech Bookstore

The one text you need to purchase for this class, M.T. Anderson’s feed, has been available at the City Tech Bookstore since last week. We will be starting to read that novel fairly soon, so please go buy your copies of it now (they have limited copies there, so if you go to buy it and they are out of it, please just “reply” here and post a comment letting me know and I will get them to order more copies).

A little bit about Professor Belli :)

As promised, I’ll introduce myself here as well. So … I’m Professor Belli … hi!

    That's me, last winter break, in front of a big ol' rubber ducky (part of an art installation for a big festival) in Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia!

That’s me, last winter break, in front of a big ol’ rubber ducky (part of an art installation for a big festival) in Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia!

I did my doctoral work at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and my current research interests are in utopian studies, happiness studies/positive psychology, composition and rhetoric, digital humanities, American studies, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (feel free to ask me what any of these areas are!).

I played ice hockey in college (right wing), and have played the violin since I was two years old (and currently play in the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra). I love Thai food (the spicier the better!), kale, & tzatziki as well as watching old sitcoms from the 70s and 80s (some of my favorites are Maude, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Soap, All in the Family, The Golden Girls, The Facts of Life, & Family Ties)!

This summer I spent a few weeks wandering Scotland, and it was absolutely wonderful! I even visited Loch Ness, but didn’t get to see Nellie, the infamous Loch Ness monster …

I look forward your reading your Introductions and getting to know you, first virtually and then in person, as the semester progresses 🙂

Introductions; How to Add Images to Posts

“Introduction” Posts (HW for Tu 2/4)
In order to start exploring the site, getting comfortable with posting/adding media (blogging), practicing reflective writing, and getting to know one another, please make sure to create an initial post that introduces yourself to the class.

*This Introductory Post is due no later than the night before our next class on Tu 2/4, but I encourage you make this initial post as soon as possible to become comfortable with OpenLab and to give others a chance to learn a bit about you).

Content of Posts
Tell us a bit about yourself … what are your interests, hobbies, desires? Your year/major at City Tech? Career goals? What you did over summer break? What you plan to do this semester/winter? Share some photos of you (you can either pull a photo from the web if you have one up there, upload one from your computer, or … you can even take one with photoshop right now!) and your family, friends, neighborhood, etc.

At the end of your post, please address (in at least a paragraph) the following questions (not necessarily in this order):

  • What your strengths/weaknesses as a writer in general?
  • What do you enjoy/dislike most about writing (in general)?
  • What is your background with using technology (it’s OK if you don’t have any!)?
  • What are your thoughts on your “digital” identity, social media (sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), privacy online, authenticity online? Don’t do any research for this … just state what you think it is, prior to entering the course.
  • What are your expectations for this course (what you think you will learn and what you hope you will learn)? Any questions?

Categorizing/Commenting on Posts
Don’t forget to categorize your post as “Introductions” (and uncheck “Uncategorized” if it is checked already by default). If you forget to do so before you “publish” you post, you can go back and edit/update it after the fact.

I am about to make an Introductory post about myself (if I’m asking you to share some of your personality/background with the class, it’s only fair that I do the same!), so you can get to know me a bit better as well and also so you get a sense of what this type of post might look like/include.  Browse through everyone’s posts (if you choose the “Introductions” category for the right side of the homepage, you will be taken to all of these posts) and drop comments to get some conversation going!


*Here’s a quick tutorial about how to do add images:

1.  When you decide you want to add an image to a post, click either on the button with the camera/music notes and the words “Add Media” that is on the top left of the editing box. Remember that your image will show up within the post wherever your cursor is when you click “Add Image.” So if you want to insert the image in the middle of your post, make sure to put it there.

2.  If you are choosing a file from your computer, you can then browse for it (the same you would if you were uploading an attachment to an e-mail) by clicking “Upload Files” (if you add to the Media Library first, you can also select your image from there).

3.  Once you find the image you want, click “Select.”

4.  You can then edit the image (e.g., to rotate it) … make sure to click “save” after editing it.

5. You should re-title the image to make it easier to manage/find later on (ex: Jill Belli, Introduction Photo). If you wish, you can also add a “description” and “caption.”

5.  At the bottom of the screen you can change the “alignment” and “size” of the image.

6.  Don’t forget to click “Insert into Post” (NOT “Save Changes”) at the bottom.  If you don’t click “Insert into Post,” the image won’t show up in your post when you publish it (it will just be added to our site’s “Media Library” … more on that later in the semester).

7.  You can always click “Preview” before you click “Publish” to see what the post will like like after the images are added. Make sure, however, once you are satisfied with your post, to click “Publish” (you can also click “Save Draft” to continue to work on the post later, but no one else will be able to view the post–and I won’t be able to give you credit for it–until you hit “Publish”).

*Remember, if you don’t like something (either the post or the image), even after it is published, you can go back and change it (just click “Edit” and work away).  That’s the nice thing about blogs … you can keep revising 🙂

Blogging, Categorizing, Commenting

If you’re unsure how to get started posting (blogging) on our OpenLab course site, here’s a quick overview:

Once you’re logged into OpenLab and on our course site, you can easily make a post. Simply click the plus sign (+) on the grey menubar (the admin bar) at the top of the screen, and from the dropdown menu that appears, choose “Post.”  You can also go to your “Dashboard” from the same grey menubar, and this will take you to the “back end” (the control panel) of the site.  From there, you can post (in the lefthand menu, click “Posts” and then “Add new”) and do a number of other things.

Don’t forget to “Categorize” your post before submitting it (see below for more details on that), and then to “Publish” your post (if you only click “save” or “preview” it won’t be public).  Happy blogging 🙂


*A quick note about categorizing blog posts:

Just a friendly reminder to “Categorize” your posts so that it will be easier to navigate our site later on.  To do this, after you finish typing your post up, choose the appropriate “Category” from the right side of the screen.  For example, after you type up your “Introduction” blog, you should make sure to check off “Introductions.”  Otherwise the post will simply show up as “Uncategorized” (we don’t want that because it will just dump eveyone’s posts into one general place and our course site will become very disorganized/chaotic as we produce a lot of content throughout the semester).  You may have to uncheck the “Uncategorized” category (which is the default).

Oh yeah … and you should chat one another up!  How do you do this? By commenting on your classmates’ posts:

One of the great things about the blog is its interactive, networked nature … people post, others read and make comments, and then conversations happen and ideas get exchanged!  Please read through everyone’s posts and drop comments if you feel so inspired (you can comment in reply to another comment also).  To do this, simply type in a short comment in the “leave a reply” box at the bottom of the post.

Please note that you can respond either to the original post or a specific commenter!

Getting Started on OpenLab

To sign-up for an OpenLab account, create your profile, and become familiar with the system:

  • Sign in to your City Tech email account via the City Tech website link or Live.com
  • Sign up for an OpenLab account ASAP (no later than Friday, 1/31)
  • If you have trouble clicking the confirmation link in the email from the OpenLab, try cutting and pasting it into the address bar of Firefox or Chrome
  • Log in to the OpenLab
  • Join our course, ENG 1101, by requesting membership on its Profile
  • Browse through the OpenLab, noticing how people use it and what kind of materials they include
  • Click on People to see OpenLab members
  • Browse through a few pages of members, looking at the avatars and reading about the members in their profile sections
  • Now create your own profile, uploading an avatar and including a bio/profile

Questions? If you need technical support, you can always contact the OpenLab Community Team.