Watson Analytical Report

User Diary

Thursday (March 11)

11:00 am – Webmail
11:15 am – Online Banking
11:30 – Facebook

6:00 pm – Webmail
6:20 pm – Check Class Wiki
6:30 pm – Google Search
7:30 pm – Wikipedia

Friday (March 12)

10:30 am – Webmail

7:00 pm – Webmail

Saturday (March 13)

No Internet Use

(Note: Internet use on Friday and Saturday were much more limited because of Spring Break. Being out of state for most of the week prompted me to spend my time away from home and internet and outdoors with friends and family.)

Sunday (March 14)

11:00 am – Webmail
11:15 am – Scholar
11:45 am – Victoria’s Secret Online
12:15 pm – Facebook

12:30 pm – Aventuras (Interactive Site for Spanish Class)

Monday (March 15)

6:00 am – Class Wiki (Post Essay 1 after momentary panic because I’d forgotten)

2:00 pm – Webmail
2:30 pm – ChicagoManualofStyle.com
3:30 pm – Facebook
3:45 pm – Scholar
4:00 pm – FreeDocumentaries.org
5:00 pm – ZeitGeistDebate.com
10:00 pm – Webmail

Tuesday (March 16)

9:00 am – Webmail
9:20 am – Weather.com

12:30 pm – Webmail
5:30 pm – Guess.com
6:00 pm – AZLyrics.com
6:10 pm – Online Banking
6:30 pm – Class Wiki
6:40 pm – Aventuras (Interactive Site for Spanish Class)

10:30 pm – Webmail
10:45 pm – Facebook

Wednesday (March 17)

9:30 am – Webmail
9:45 am – Weather.com
9:50 am – Facebook

2:00 pm – Scholar
4:30 pm – Lulu’s.com
5:00 pm – ChicagoManualofStyle.com
5:30 pm – Webmail
5:45 pm – Filebox.vt.edu

8:00 pm - Webmail

Analytical Report

Throughout the semester, I have continuously commented or joked about the fact that I believe I am more “disconnected” than most of my classmates because my use of web 2.0 technologies is not as intertwined with my daily life. With this in mind, I was not surprised to see that my internet use in general revolved almost entirely around school related requirements. Additionally, however, it also made me realize that, no matter how much I may object, I could not function or stay connected with my life overall without the web.

My class load alone revolves around having a constant connection to sites such as Scholar, Webmail, Aventuras (interactive Spanish tutorial site which coincides with the textbook), and many others less directly associated with the syllabi, such as Freedocumentaries.org, Zeitgeistdebate.com, and Chicagomanualofstyle.com. Without my email and Scholar, I would not know when the schedules were altered, such as deadline changes and class cancellation; certain grades would be a mystery until the end of the semester, as many of my professors post this information rather than returning work as they used to; and I would not have access to the many readings that remain entirely unmentioned in class but are instead placed on Scholar, a program which sends email notifications to students alerting them of any changes made on their particular sites with subject lines like “New Resource Posted” or “Spanish 1106 Announcement”. Truly, sometimes I wonder why we have class at all since we seem to interact with professors so minimally and become more and more collaboratively connected with our peers.

In the same way, sites like Aventuras allow you to remove the printed textbook entirely by placing all of the activities and tutorials needed to pass the class on the web. The class began with half of our work submitted online while the other half was turned in during class; not surprisingly, after the first paper submission, our professor announced that these assignments would henceforth be completed online because carrying and manually grading all the papers completed by her 90 students was “tedious” and “unnecessary.” While I completely agree with the professor’s logic, it is a perfect example of how the web provides more convenient and efficient methods for completing daily tasks and, what’s more, how we easily become dependent upon them and how that dependence makes us lazy. It’s as Elliot said in class today, “Why should I have to learn to do what the computer can do for me?” Similarly, my African Religions class is abstract and has nothing whatsoever to do with technology (refreshingly, it revolves around the ancient thinking and interconnectedness that has been interrupted and damaged by western concepts like globalization [global interaction and connectedness] and continuously touches on what is sacrificed in the name of modernity and homogeneity.); however, without the internet, I would still be lost. Our eccentric professor rarely makes our assignments clear, and the TA is continuously sending emails outlining which readings are required, when class is cancelled, and which documentaries to watch and where to locate them (Freedocumentaries.org, Zeitgeistdebate.com). Even though the subject matter is not technologically centered, the way we are expected to study it is. Even my undergraduate research is more digitalized then I would have expected. Ironically, we are preparing a manuscript for publication, but our fact-checking methods are a disconcerting blend of digital photos of print documents, online articles, digital archives, books, papers, magazines, and maps. During the reorganization of citations, the stipulations and guidelines were so complex that I subscribed to the online Chicago Manual of Style because I could access it anywhere without having to remember or carry a book. This coincides with multiple points discussed in class: the subscription was free for a period of time, which encouraged my decision not to buy a printed manual but may also encourage me to pay for the information later; the site created a faster, more efficient way to search for specific information; and the digital subscription allowed me to have universal access without the inconvenience of carrying a book.

Additionally, I am now taking classes that revolve around technology, collaboration, and digital work for the first time. It is not surprising that these classes are offered, but it is interesting to consider (especially now that most of the information has been covered) that these classes are necessary because they are teaching us how professionalism and business are changing and what we need to be aware of if we want to be successful in the future. The two classes which exhibit this most blatantly are Writing for the Web and Managing Knowledge and Information. Each focuses on the collaborative nature of professional writing in the work force today, whether it be constructing websites and writing for the internet itself or the composition of proposals, collaborative essays, and other print documents. I have finally started to grasp that this will be a part of my life in the future, whether I wish it to be or not. Not only is written work increasingly collaborative in nature, but employers expect our generation to be technologically inclined and able to work with and understand programs that older employees have not been exposed to (this was stated quite bluntly during my internship last summer). If nothing else, I feel the presence of classes such as these represent a shift in learning – a shift in what types of knowledge our society values as well as a shift in the way this knowledge is presented and how we are expected to process it.

Separately, the most interesting – if not shocking – thought process provoked by keeping a user diary was the fact that, were I less socially inclined, I could live my life from the safety and solitude of my apartment. What surprised me was not that I used sites like Victoriassecret.com, navyfcu.org (Navy Federal Credit Union), and Weather.com, but that I’d stopped using the traditional mediums as I became increasingly comfortable with using the internet for such daily tasks. At first, online shopping and banking were more of a necessity because my bank does not have a location anywhere near Blacksburg and my favorite stores were either a half an hour away or not an option at all. However, upon considering how my internet use has changed over time, it occurred to me that I can’t even remember the last time I was inside a bank. Additionally, I made plans to go shopping with my sister this weekend and suddenly realized, as I was chastising myself for being giddy about a silly girl’s shopping spree, that it was because I haven’t been to the mall since I was in Australia over Christmas break. The weather was no less a revelation. I have a balcony; I could easily walk out on to my porch to feel the temperature, but instead – like all my friends – I log onto Weather.com, which will not only offer me the exact current temperature but also the changes expected throughout the day. Because of the internet, I know what to wear, whether or not to bring a sweater or an umbrella, and even if it’s safe to leave my home. Without expanding on the concept of the effects these changes may have, it’s entertaining to think about how pissed off everyone would be if they actually had to take chances like they used to (but even more reminiscent to think that, just maybe… we’d get the chance to remember how beautifully vitalizing it can be to get caught in the rain).

In conclusion, while I realized that I wasn’t as absorbed in the current web 2.0 culture and trends as many of my friends and peers, it’s quite possible that I didn’t realize how the internet had affected me in other ways. Throughout the semester, I became increasingly aware that I’d made some sort of conscious effort not to be obsessed with interactive sites like Facebook and I knew, to some extent, that it was because I saw living tacitly and only connecting with people through a machine as the worst way I could cheat myself. But I too have been slowly and unknowingly adapting. I was aware of my academic dependence on technology; however, I easily excused it by saying that that aspect of my life couldn’t be helped. But during this project, it occurred to me that I may be much less active than I perceived myself to be. Comparatively, I still often do things in person that I could do digitally because I want to get out and see people, but I have to wonder why I didn’t notice some of these things without the help of an assignment. The only possible answer has to be that we are all adapting because if we refuse to move with the current, we are inevitably left behind…what choice, then, has society’s un-protested shift into cyberculture left us with aside from the choice to follow along?

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