Verse to Voice Weblog

A writer who reads for enjoyment, inspiration, ideas, and the need to nurture her creative voice

Paul Newman and A Writer’s Memorable First Sentence September 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 3:32 am

Paul Newman is on my mind.

Mostly, that’s because the 83-year-old actor died Friday. I didn’t hear about it until Saturday, first from the Web and then from the non-stop television news channels filled with images of his face – always with close ups of his arresting blue eyes – from young man to older, young actor to older.

 I enjoy Newman for his screen work – his portrayal of title character, “Hud,” made me like him even when I didn’t. His “Cool Hand Luke” could not show a clearer definition of what cool looks and acts like faced with soul-squelching circumstances.

Yet it is Newman’s appearance in a novel that has me thinking and writing about the late actor, activist, husband, father, race car driver, and philanthropist. The book is “The Outsiders,” and its author is S.E. Hinton. She was a teenager writing in the late 1960s who used Paul Newman to open her story and to let the reader first hear the voice of her narrator – a 14-year-old named Ponyboy Curtis.

“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home. I was wishing I looked like Paul Newman – he looks tough and I don’t – but I guess my own looks aren’t so bad.”

I have that first sentence memorized. I read it for the first time when I was in third grade and one of my older sisters had the book. At the end – to come full circle – the reader discovers that Ponyboy is writing about what happened to him, his brothers, and their friends for an English term paper that he begins: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

This world of teenagers, left alone by adults because of death, disinterest, or long hours working to pay bills, and the battle between the Greasers and the Socs (social set) read real to me then, and it resonates with readers still. The Outsiders is listed on numerous book lists for young readers. There are those who challenge the book or work to have it banned, too.

Francis Ford Coppola, an Academy Award-winning director and a supporter of writing with his “Zoetrope: All Story” literary magazine, made “The Outsiders” into a movie in 1983.

Hinton’s story is about responsibility and coming of age and trying to fit in where there seems to be neither room nor place; about family and ties that exist beyond blood relations; about money and social standing and those who have it and those who don’t; about expectations and stereotypes and just wanting to be understood. It is about friendship and hard knocks; bravado and courage; doubt and perseverance.

S.E. Hinton has said she was inspired to write The Outsiders, published in 1967, because of what she’d witnessed going on around her. She did what most how-to instruction books tell writers to do: Write what you know. Hinton found her voice and in so doing, she created a work of literature – that includes a Robert Frost poem that is pivotal to understanding her theme – that continues to speak to generations of young readers more than 40 years later.  

I don’t know whether Paul Newman ever read The Outsiders. I don’t know if he ever talked with the author who used his name to open her story and to end the book.

I like to think that Newman would appreciate the connection to a good story that will keep him on the minds of generations of readers to come.

 

 

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What I Have Learned from my Classmates: The EOTO Project November 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 3:21 pm

“Each One Teach One,” is a class project for Journalism 713, which is one of five courses offered in a graduate-level online certificate program at the (University’s name corrected 11/08/08) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

 

For two weeks, my classmates in J-713 and I have explored topics of our choosing that shed light on a problem or issue about global communication technology. Here are the goals of the assignment:

 

  • Identify some global communication technology issue(s) or problems(s) that concerns you
  • Discover Web resources that will help us know more about the issue or problem
  • Share and discuss these issues and problems in an effort to find a solution

 

In the assignment’s second part, we were asked to read the blog postings of our classmates’ EOTO projects, and choose five to review and comment about. This exercise is a great opportunity – beyond our interaction on the discussion boards via BlackBoard – to get to hear from my classmates. In a previous post I discussed one classmates’ project about digital imaging and photo manipulation on the Internet. In today’s post, I will combine my thoughts about four other classmates’ EOTO projects, in no particular order.

 

“Guilty until proven fair use,” is Kennedy’s project, and it is about the Web hosting service YouTube, created in 2005. At issue is copyright and the Fair Use Doctrine. She talks about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and she introduced me to a new term, “remixers.”  Her information supporting her thoughtful argument gives me more to think about YouTube, which I access often. As a consumer/user, I go to YouTube hoping and expecting to find whatever it is that I’m looking for, and copyright infringement isn’t first – or even on my mind at all. That changes now. Also, I appreciated the point made about the “lack of privacy protection for those wanting to file a counter-notification for reposting the alleged infringing material.”

 

“Healthcare 101: Basic Health Literacy as a Basic Human Right,” is Windye’s project. I’m drawn to her topic about the health illiteracy problem because of the literacy advocacy aspect. My EOTO project explored the gender digital divide and what it means to literacy globally. “Our first concern should be how to achieve universal access to basic healthcare on a more individual level; mainly working towards the primary goal of improving health literacy to all global citizens,” she writes. I appreciated the definition Windye provided for health literacy: “…the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” Also, I liked Windye’s use of repetition to introduce her five fears (and to emphasize the point): “In a larger and faster digital information society,….”

 

Bobby chose as his topic, “Facebook as a Catalyst for Improving Thoughts about the Candidates.” I appreciated Bobby’s openness in describing his approach to the EOTO project. He revealed his thoughts and the process he used, via social networking on Facebook, to evolve in his ideas about the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. “I’m centering this project on how Facebook has served as a catalyst for me to develop my own thoughts about the candidates in the 2008 elections,” he wrote. In his conclusion: “The hope and promise of internet debate – the two-way street of blogs – is that each person may arrive at a more nuanced, factually-correct understanding of the candidates.”  His experience really defines what, and why, social networking like Facebook, is popular and works. He did a great job chronicling his progression, and providing Web sites that helped shape his thinking.

 

Another classmate, Betty, chose as her project to look at the U.S. presidential race and online information for voters. In her post, “Are Voters Getting Accurate Information?,” she tackles “…inaccurate and misleading information about U.S. presidential candidates and their running mates.” Betty consistently adds to the discussion about politics and parties in her blog. I enjoyed her evaluations of the Web resources that talk about her EOTO project subject. Her attention to the “About Us,” sections, and her detail about how she dug deeper when they came up short or were non-existent by using other Web resources (Google, for example) helped prove her point about the need to dig deep for accurate information. She communicated her fears well. I also liked the links in Betty’s possible solutions. In her ending paragraph, Betty writes: “None of these sites are 100 percent reliable and no candidate is perfect.”

 

EOTO Assignment Feedback: What’s Wrong with this Photo? November 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 11:56 pm

For two weeks, my classmates and I have worked on a two-part assignment called “Each One Teach One,” for our Journalism 713 class in technology and communication. The aim of the EOTO project is to research a communication technology issue or problem and share background, concerns or fears, Web site resources, and recommendations about how to change or fix the problem. The second part of the assignment is to read each other’s posting and offer comment on at least five.

The EOTO project of my classmate, Alex, whose blog is Digital Imaging and Photo Ethics, explores the effect of manipulating digital images/photographs and the harm it can bring for news media that use the Internet increasingly to get out their messages and information. The quickness with which an image can travel and spread via the Web can be a problem if that image/digital photo is doctored in a way that distorts, or outright lies, about the content, the activity, or the person featured.

Alex offers a strong argument for why it is imperative for news organizations (and others who use digital images) to adopt standards that safeguard against manipulations and distortions. She presents good numbers and statistics that explain why it is problem. Her Web sites offer diverse perspectives from the subject-matter experts. Her presentation is compelling.

Also, as a former print reporter, I respect the ethics that guard against presenting something that isn’t true. I think of how I felt as a journalist about quotation marks – what is written inside the beginning and ending quotation marks is sacred and should not be changed or manipulated. A reader should feel confident that when something is quoted and attributed to a speaker, then that person said it exactly as it appears.

I understand and agree with Alex in her concern about how software and technology advancements make it easier for someone to manipulate photos. How users take advantage of the good that comes with digital photography without abusing or misusing the technology is an important discussion.

 

 

My Five Biggest Fears: EOTO J-713 Class Assignment November 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 10:54 pm

Gender, the digital divide and literacy: Why Communication Technology Must Help

 

  1. A lack of resources: The money will not be made available to make the needed impact. The hardware, software and instruction will not be made available to those most in need. Access to the Internet and the World Wide Web will be limited in developing countries; and not used to its fullest potential by some women in developed countries.

 

  1. Not everyone who can make a difference will see the immediate need for a solution to the problem. Women in more advanced countries will continue to be consumers, but will not be at the table as innovators and producers of the new communication technology in numbers that make a difference.

 

  1. The problem will grow faster and reach wider than the current solutions proposed to address it.

 

  1. In early education, girls will continue to be steered away from technology as a viable field of study and career choice. Science and technology suffers from this lack of diverse perspective; the earning potential for women decreases because they are not in the higher paying jobs and positions.

 

  1. Gender will keep the digital divide thriving in the traditionally male-dominated information communication technology workforce and the lack of role models, mentors and support system for women will perpetuate the gap that exists and possibly widen it more.

 

 

My Three Recommendations to address the global technology communication issue of women at the extremes of the digital divide – Gender, the digital divide and literacy: Why Communication Technology Must Help

 

 

1. Network – Talk about the problem. An issue or problem that is voiced is on its way to a solution. Talk amongst yourselves, at work, in the community, in your place of worship, to your local, state and federal government policy makers; talk with educators at learning institutions, to activists at community nonprofits and to business owners. Open someone’s eyes to the problem and help get them motivated. Seek the support that you need. Get involved in the solution. Understand the problem at the global level and what it means to the individual woman.

 

2. Study – Advance your education and career with opportunities to learn, gain skills and get certified. Sign up for the technology and communication classes – and follow through on taking them – whenever you can at all levels of your education journey – elementary, middle and high schools, college, employee on the job training and night classes, senior adult classes.

3. Support an initiative, a nonprofit, or anyone/anything else with a viable solution to address the problem. Support the effort with money, service, ideas, and high expectations that the problem can be solved.

 

 

 

 

Six Web Resources for “Each One Teach One” J-713 Class Assignment

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 10:52 pm

Gender, the digital divide and literacy: Why Communication Technology Must Help

Here are some sites that will help explain how communication technology can help women globally to close the digital divide.

 

 

(1)“Women’s Literacy and Information and Communications Technologies: Lessons That Experience Has Taught Us,” by Anita Dighe and Usha Vyasulu Reddi

Commonwealth of Learning Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia

 

This site is an excellent resource of the 57-page report. The information includes background, history, recommendations and several examples (anecdotal case studies) of programs and approaches that have worked. The authors know their subject matter. They reference other studies and information, and include statistics of global breadth and importance. The piece is copyrighted November 2006, which means its information is still relevant and useful now in November 2008. The report contains extensive information and documentation. A listing of extensive references about the subject is provided.

 

(2) Practical Action – Women’s Voices        Technology Challenging Poverty

 

This site offers perspective on projects and efforts globally to help women connect with communication technology so that they are in charge of telling their stories. The site is easy to navigate and its headings give a clear indication of where to go to find more about the subject. Several case studies show what is being done and what can be done to make an impact on women’s access to communication technology. The site includes video, too. Practical Action calls itself a development charity and has been around since 1966. The charity says that it uses technology to change the world, in particular, the lives of the poor. Their approach includes work in four key focus areas, and one is new technologies.

 

(3)Women and Media – Section J    WomenAction 2000

 

This site is great because it is extensive; it is generated from an online discussion (Nov. 8, through Dec. 17, 1999) that took place about women and media. Women Action is described as a “network of national, regional and international organizations focusing on Women and Media or Section J of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA). I like that it uses technology – the Internet – to get the needed participation. The site says that 113 women and one man from 42 countries posted 233 messages.

 

(4)“Women Tapping Technology,” by Marcia G. Yerman, Posted August 8, 2008

 

Another timely example addressing the topic, and because it is part of the Huffington Post blog, the piece contains several links to other interested articles and information. The site offers good perspective on the situation.

 

(5)Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology

This is an excellent site with great resources, article topics, references and links to other sources. The site is easy to navigate and is up dated. It provides information about how to get involved and make a difference. It is a good networking site. This particular article, “How does technology improve the lives of women and their communities?” is by director of research, Caroline Simard.

 

(6)Questia Online Library – “15 of the Best Books and Articles on: Digital Divide as selected by Questia librarians”

 

The site is an excellent resource for research about the digital divide. Questia.com gives the researcher some recommended readings which is helpful. The site is easy to use. There is a subscription fee for the service ($7.95 monthly for access to one collection and $14.95 for access to the entire collection (psychology, literature, history, education, philosophy, religious studies). However, a free trial for 72 hours is available, too. Here is how the site describes its service: “Questia is the world’s largest online library of books, with over 67,000 full-text books, 1.5 million articles, and an entire reference set complete with a dictionary, encyclopedia, and thesaurus. Your subscription to the entire Questia academic library also includes digital productivity tools for highlighting text, taking notes, and generating footnotes and bibliographies in sever different styles.”

 

Gender, the digital divide and literacy: Why Communication Technology Must Help

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 10:49 pm

I love books and my ability to read and write is a gift that continues to enrich my life. I want that experience to be available for everyone, but it isn’t.

 

The digital divide along gender lines is an issue that a global society, open to what the advances in communication technology can offer, should not ignore.

 

When her gender puts her at a disadvantage and causes a young girl or a woman to experience lack of exposure to, and use of, communication technology, her family, her community and the global society lose, too. And that is where the aptly named “digital divide,” or as some call it, the continued knowledge gap, is problematic to individual empowerment and group advancement.

 

Estimates from the United Nations say there are 771 million illiterate adults globally – 18 percent of the world’s population. Women, the study says, “account for 64 percent of the adults worldwide who cannot read and write with understanding.”

 

I believe the availability and use of communication technology can impact literacy. A woman who knows how to read and to write gains not only for herself, but she can better pass those skills along to her children – male and female – to her extended family, and in some cases, her village or town. A literate and educated community increases economic potential, helps to shape societal norms and civic responsibility, and gives voice to those who otherwise might be excluded.

 

A few years ago, I heard author Ray Bradbury speak about writing during a literary festival. Bradbury said that for him, walking into a library is a bittersweet experience because when he sees all of the filled shelves he thinks: Look at all of the books that I’ll never have time to read.

 

For Bradbury the sole barrier to reading is time – the finite amount of a lifespan that all of us have. For a girl or woman who is illiterate; lives in poverty and does not have access to technology; is excluded from giving her input, or who does not have an advocate or voice fighting for her at the technology resource table, the barriers beyond time multiply.

 

That at-the-table resource is where we see the other extreme of barriers caused by the gender digital divide that affects women who do have technology education and access. Women continue to be under represented in the traditionally male field in employment, study and teaching. That lack of female presence impairs the ideas and connections that could better bridge the effects of the gender digital divide.

 

Women bring a needed perspective and should be present and have a voice in the decisions, policies and innovations in communication technology going forward. That way, everyone benefits when working toward a happily ever after for all.

 

There is Something to Like About the About Pages October 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 12:06 am

I’ve discovered that I like reading blog “about” pages. I like an entry that is short and a bit reserved without holding back on sharing interesting information about the blogger. I like an entry that is long and effusive with sharing the blogger’s intimate thoughts or motivations. The “about pages’’ communicate what one can expect to read in future posts , and why the person posting has the unique approach needed for the blog’s subject.

I found something interesting in all of my classmates’ entries and could write about each. As part of our assignment, we were asked to write something about a few of our classmate’s blogs. Here are my comments on selections from the “About” sections of some of my Journalism 713 course classmates:

“They are bits knowledge—practical things like how to make biscuit dough and pie crusts, thread a sewing machine and cut out a pattern, fold freshly washed sheets into crisp squares, can fresh vegetables, create flower arrangements, grate fresh coconut. As a child, I viewed these little rituals as beautiful and uniquely feminine. They were approached with a sense of craftsmanship and artful execution.”

I love this list of memory makers from my classmate, Tyler Ritter’s weblog, “Lost&Found.” Some of the activities that she describes in such an artistic way are ones that I experienced with my grandmother and my mother as a little girl. I like Tyler’s approach to taking a look at what is happening with women today by using ties to the past and describing what life was like for many women. Who do we consider to be our domestic role models when measuring ourselves and our choices? I look forward to reading more.

Dick Barron’s career as a journalist is a great connection for me. I am a former print journalist. I was born in the city where Dick is now business editor for the local newspaper. I do miss aspects of daily journalism and the newsroom and reading about Dick’s experiences helps keep me connected without actually being at a paper anymore. He’s using his journalist’s skills to blog about political blogs in the well-named Political Blog Blog.

Also, I care about the changes that I continue to see in some newsrooms that seem to reflect an erosion of print journalism as I knew it, and as I learned it. This one sentence of Dick’s says a great deal: “Now I’m trying to keep myself from becoming obsolete along with print media by learning to put good journalism

Betty Dishman’s “about” pages speak to her passion for politics and I appreciate her forthright tone and approach. Here’s how Betty describes her research topic and what her class blog, “Election 2008: Transpartisanship Movement in American Politics,” is about: “For purposes of this assignment and this course, I’ve chosen to focus on the global impact of blogs pertaining to the 2008 U.S. presidential race. I’ve chosen this topic because I’ve had a lifelong interest in politics and world affairs, and because I believe that what affects one nation affects everyone. We live in a global, multicultural, interconnected society.”

 

 

 

 

 

To Add, or Not to Add: “What” Becomes the Question October 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — mywritevoice @ 1:45 am

With my apology to the Bard of Avon and Hamlet’s soliloquy, but I think my title is apropos for this post about creating a blog roll.

For a class assignment we were to create a blog roll and include links to our classmates’ weblogs. For me, that part was easy and enjoyable. I have 12 classmates in my Journalism and Mass Communication Course 713 – an online class in the graduate-level certificate program in Technology and Communication offered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Their diverse topics and interesting choices of subjects to blog about make for good reading.

Here’s what I mean: Two blogs are about politics (and oh, what an interesting time in America to be writing about that topic); others include personal health and how to take charge of your own; appreciation of the guitar and those who play the instrument; an examination and celebration of the creative process; the ethics of digital photography; an exploration of the English language; the value of running a marathon – for oneself and to raise awareness about a disease; pulling forward what’s useful from the past, celebrating it and using it in the present; questioning what to write about in a blog that won’t come back to bite; addressing education and asking the question of what it means truly to provide the best for children; and sharing the joys and toll of caring for aging parents.

Now, having added a blog for J-713, I needed to add at least five additional blogs or Web sites to my blogroll – a class requirement. And that’s where my borrowing (with a bit of bending) of Hamlet’s words come into play (unintended pun, but I’m writing this post after 1 a.m. and I’ll leave it there).

I did take seriously the role of gatekeeper for my blogroll. I found great (numbers of) blogs and Web sites that relate to my topic, which encourages reading for pleasure as a writer, and reading as a connector in this global 21st Century world of technology. My topic area is titled: “The Web, the World and the Writer as Reader.” I found so many great resources that offered free access to literature online, and writing critiques, tips and support groups. I found global voices and booksellers and publishers from several countries. I found literary criticism and literary journals and lists of favorite books and authors, and audio recordings of poets and their works and the list goes on and on.

How then, does one choose what to include? Too many and you risk bogging down your blog. With too few listed, you risk not being seen as a knowledgeable resource. After all, a bloggers blogroll is supposed to indicate something about his or her preferences and personality. I’m satisfied with my choices, but it’s nice to know that I can add – or if necessary take away – others.