Blogger FTP

Unless you hid under a rock – like me – then you probably know Blogger is discontinuing FTP support of personally hosted blogs. What does that mean? In short it means I’m moving all of my content – four years worth – from one directory to another on this domain. That doesn’t sound to bad, but I have to go through each post and categorize it, date it, and add tags.

I imported old posts using Stephanie Leary’s HTML Import plugin. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be really lost without the plugin, but there is only two options for post dates: now and last update time of the file. Blogger doesn’t have categories and tags are Labels (if you bothered to label). I FTP’d files (to backup) in November so every file has a November timestamp.

To say the least it’s several hours of work. When it’s over I should about double the number of posts on this blog. Stay tuned.

Social Media Effects On Student Writing

In September I wrote a blog about Twitter’s influence on writing. In March, an article was published in the Texas A&M school news paper, The Battalion, that checked the belief that grammatical errors have increased because of social media outlets.

Texas A&M University Writing Center Executive Director Valeria Balester says it does not have an effect….”Any teachers who are assuming [errors] are increasing don’t have any evidence for that. It’s just anecdotal,” Balester said. Source: Facebook Affects Student Writing | The Battalion.

I still hold to my belief that writing style (not necessarily grammar) and communications in general have changed because of social media. The article goes on to say that kids today are schizophrenic writers (my term): they write one way in social media outlets and another way for formal papers/class assignments. That is interesting. Now I want to know how are they going to write at their jobs? Will they use the formal style or the informal?

The article also mentioned that one difference with writing today compared to 20 years ago is that students don’t care as much about making errors – either in the formal writing or social writing. That could be some of the difference I’ve noticed. The errors mentioned are grammatical like wrong word choice. They use spell check but they don’t use grammar check correctly or the grammar check isn’t smart enough to distinguish the plethora of homonyms in the English language.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is the “dumbing down” of writing: smaller words and a shrinking vocabulary.

Twitter is faster than natural disasters

The comic strip,  xkcd: Seismic Waves, echoes what was buzzing around Twitter on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010. Tweets from people in/near the epicenter where arriving at places before the shaking began. Now that is powerful communication.

People also turned to Twitter for pictures of damage.

We turned to Twitter for a closer look at the earthquake’s impact on the communities along the Pacific. These photos of the damage in Mexicali and other locales were shared via Twitter and TwitPic this afternoon by people who experienced the earthquake first-hand. Source: Mexicali Earthquake Photos | Mashable.