My first video!

This is the first video I’ve ever recorded and edited! It’s a little rough, but I’m proud of it.

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Don’t trust everything you see

We’ve all heard it. “Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information; don’t use it!” But i’m not sure if any of us have actually thought about why it’s not a good site to base a research paper on. 

The Ithaca College Library provides a tutorial on discerning good sites from bad ones. The site lists a criteria for using the web wisely

  • Make sure you are in the right place.
  • When in doubt, doubt.
  • Consider the source.
  • Know what’s happening.
  • Look at details.
  • Distinguish Web pages from pages found on the Web.
There are activities on the site that take topics and five websites associated with them and tell you to use the skills from the tutorial to decide whether the sites are reputable or not.
One of the activities is concerned with Peak Oil. Here’s a breakdown about the five sites associated with this topic and whether or not they’re good:
  1. The first site looks suspicious right off the bat. I immediately get a “blog” vibe from it, which does not necessarily translate to a good website for legitimate information. Also, from the title, it doesn’t seem like this is a one-topic focused website.

    The article, written by Stephen Lendman, gives a lot of information without sourcing anything. It’s possible to hold a lot of knowledge about a subject, but Lendman is never painted as some professional and his occupation isn’t even provided.

     Verdict: bad

  2. Right off the bat you can tell what this site’s about: oil. The site being dedicated solely to the topic at hand is definitely a plus. As I delve into the article I see charts and infographrics with clear linking to their sources. The article provides a lot of information and even links to two previous articles on the website that relate to this content.

    On the site you can explore “staff bios” so I looked up Euan Mearns, the author of the article. His bio says that he has a Bachelors of Science and a Ph. D in geology from The University of Aberdeen. It briefly explains the work he’s done in the oil industry for many years. This has definitely convinced me he’s an authority on the subject.

    Verdict: Good

  3. The third site wouldn’t work and kept leading me to an error site, so I can’t deduce it’s legitimacy since it might not even exist anymore.
  4.  Already I know this is an authoritative site. Who doesn’t know the Huffington Post? It’s a recognizable name and a trusted news source.

    Verdict: Good

  5.  My first reaction to this site was that it probably wasn’t legitimate. With the tagline “News you won’t find on CNN” I could tell this was going to be mostly opinion – and mostly one sided. As I read more thought I realized there was a lot of information – and outside sourcing to up the reliability factor.

    While there’s some bias to the article, and a leaning to one side, it would be a decent resource for someone doing a paper where they needed to present two different sides of the topic,.

    Verdict: Good, but a bit biased and blog-like.

This is a great tutorial to read and exercise to do especially if you’re a student. Sometimes we want to take short cuts and use whatever site looks like it has a lot of information, but by doing that we could be getting wrong information. It’s important to assess the quality of a site, not just the quantity of information it provides. Lots of statistics and no outside sourcing? How do you even know if those are correct? You don’t – which is why this tutorial is immensely beneficial and I definitely recommend any of my blog readers to check it out.

SOPA or Soap Opera? The bill that launched a blackout

At the beginning of January the internet was up in arms about a controversial antipiracy bill: SOPA. Of all the bloggers and internet fiends who made it their job to fight the enacting of this bill, I have to wonder how many of them thoroughly understood what it was. I’ll admit that I didn’t until I delved into some deeper research.

SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act, whose companion is PIPA, the Protect IP Act. The bills were both intended to protect more thoroughly against “copyright infringement and intellectual property theft.” I say were because both bills are now being sent back to the drawing board after the internet “blacked out” on January 18th.

Thousands of sites shut down or showed their disdain for the bill on that day, including:

  • Wikipedia
  •  Google
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Twitpic
  • WordPress
  • Imgur

So why the blackout? What is so bad about wanting to protect copyrighted material? The broad language of the bills has many people concerned with its consequences. The vagueness could lead to many sites being shut down for using even small clips from television shows and movies.

“YouTube would just go dark immediately” one article states about potential consequences of these bills. The user created and uploaded “fan videos” and “music videos” could fall under copyright law violation for using clips of songs, TV shows, and movies.

So what else is so terrifying about the bills? How about the fact that you could serve jail time for streaming a TV show. Under SOPA streaming copyrighted video without permission would be considered a felony.

As a crazy obsessed internet user I’m not a fan of these bills. I think their vague wording could lead to more trouble than the good it could bring. On one hand, as a huge music, movie, and TV fan I want to see the people who create these things get credit and reward for their hard work. Obviously streaming something takes away from its value. It can also take away from the profit something could see, such as in the case of people downloading albums instead of actually buying them.

Will I say I’ve never downloaded and album? No, of course not. I live in the digital age where we all want things fast; downloads are right at our fingertips. But do I buy vinyl and merchandise from bands to support them? Hell yeah I do. I think this type of balance is what needs to be struck; not an all-out attack on those who download music and stream YouTube clips of our favorite shows.

Or maybe that’s just me wanting to have my cake and eat it too.

Maybe if more sites like ABC, CBS, and FOX included their current, as well as past, programming on their websites for free (including those obnoxious, but necessary ads) there would be less of a need for streaming sites. I realize these sites do provide some episodes for shows, but it’s usually for a limited time and only select episodes are available.

With music – well that’s a never-ending battle. There are many bands that don’t care about downloading; they’re just happy their music is being heard. Then there are bands that are outraged by the money their losing after they put in so much hard work.

I might not have a solution, but I definitely say that SOPA and PIPA are not the answers we’re looking for.

Welcome to my blog!

Who am I?
Hi! I’m Alexa Hoyle, a sophomore journalism student at UMass Amherst. I’m a voracious reader and passionate writer and have found that if I have to do anything for the rest of my life it’s going to be writing. I’m starting this blog as a way to hone my multimedia and writing skills…i.e. to try and get a job someday.

As a writer I should probably be a little better about writing about myself – but I don’t think anybody ever really gets used to that. A little about me is that I’m from Southwick, Massachusetts, a small rural town in Western Mass. It is not the place for me. Rural? Suburbs? Not where I belong. One of my biggest life plans is to make my way to Boston or New York someday. I know it sounds cliche, but I need to follow what’s right for me – and being in a small town is not right for me or my journalism aspirations

Why am I starting this blog?
Through the experience of starting and up-keeping this blog I hope to learn more about conversational writing and connecting with an audience. I’ve always prided myself on being a good writer, but my journalistic skills could use some help. I’m hoping that this blog can help with learning the responsibility of updating something regularly or meeting deadlines for blog posts – both skills I’m going to need for a future job.

What do I want to do with my future?
Speaking of future jobs, I’d really like to get one. But on a more serious note, I have quite strong convictions about what I want to do with my future. Ideally I would like to work for a magazine and find myself as an editor someday. I’d be lying if I said I could see myself as a reporter for a newspaper like The Republican in the future; I’d be much more in my element being able to take time on stories like a magazine allows. But, to be honest, as long as I’m getting paid to write and do something I love, I’ll be pretty happy.

That’s all there really is to say about me, if you want to know anything else just comment and ask! And feel free to follow me on Twitter!