Friday, February 29, 2008

If only these firewalls could talk

*this post is for class*

Privacy in real life and privacy online are two very different things. In real life, it’s as simple as going into your boudoir and closing the door behind you. On the World Wide Web, everyone’s boudoir is public domain. Google and Facebook have essentially told “privacy” where to stick it, and as an aspiring writer and professional snoop, I couldn’t be happier.

Online, there is no such thing as a well-kept secret. Online, you don’t have friends, but rather hundreds and hundreds of acquaintances or as I like to call them, for the sake of this argument, "contacts".

In this biz, or so I’m told, connections are paramount. It’s not what you know, but rather who you know, and by knowing who you know, you can expand on what you know. And the internet, more specifically Facebook, knows everyone and everything.

Being inexperienced, young, and then by nature somewhat lazy, Facebook and Google have been fundamental to my learning experience in University. When my first feature rolls around, and I need to find a gaggle of girls who are willing to discuss the fortitude and necessity of sex toys, posting a mass cattle call for all sex toy aficionados on Facebook, where I know hundreds of friends (see: acquaintances; contacts) will see it, is a hell of a lot easier than walking up to people in Eaton Centre and saying:

“Hey, I’m from Ryerson. Do you use a dildo?”

Not only does the web threaten privacy in a technical/digital/.com sense (spyware etc.), but it also encourages people to sweep privacy under the rug for an average of 13.5 hours a week. Assume we’re back in the mall and I’m surveying people about their sex lives again – the number of people who will admit to owning an “NJOY Fun Wand 5001” to my face is far fewer than those who will admit it to my Facebook.

In December, when a girl passed away in Ryerson’s Pitman Hall residence and everyone’s lips were sealed, it appeared that no ones fingers were bound. It took all of three minutes after hearing the buzz on campus to double-click my way to the truth. On Facebook, a group was formed in memory of Adele Turcotte, 17, probably only minutes after her body was removed from her dorm room.

For whatever reason, the university was hesitant to release any information during the first few days, but her friends and roommates couldn’t wait to spill Pitman’s classified blather out onto the web for all to see. It was through Facebook that the Eyeopener (Ryerson’s better publication) was able to gather details and information on the death, and find people close to Turcotte who would (obviously) be willing to comment.

Journalists don’t like secrets. The entire job revolves around the belief that the public deserves to know. Facebook and Google don’t like secrets either, and that makes the job a little bit easier. With the web, it’ easy to find the story, or track down people who can find it for you. Lately, all we hear about is how our society is disintegrating into a heaving, creeping mess of voyeurism. The timing couldn't be better. I graduate in two years.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The HeMan Woman-Haters Club

My boyfriend has revived his blog, after two dormant years, and I refuse to be outdone. He and his cronies have decided to join forces -- and I'm mainly peeved because I was just informed that it's "an all boys project" and I can't take part.
Not that a blog, that was once aptly named after his Sunday morning bowel movements, is any big whoop, but let it be known now that it’s on.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Last night, I cut my hair.

So last night was Wednesday, and Katy was at work.

It was 11 PM and I had no homework, I'd already seen the evening's airing of Law & Order, and there was a Teen Vogue on my coffee table. I don't usually buy Teen Vogue, but a girl in my class insisted I take it home from class before dropping it in my purse.

I flipped it open and rubbernecked a few items, all of which were completely and utterly unattainable on my present budget. A parade of things I cannot ever have; A tawny yellow skirt-suit by Proenza Schouler (completely impractical, but one day I'll have a big-girl job that may or may not necessitate a skirt-suit by Proenza Schouler ), Blake Lively's legs, the red cap, that only Madleen C could pull off, on the first page of the 22 Spring Essentails Index – but then, I saw it. Something I could have.

Anja Rubik's perfectly cropped bowl cut inspired sensation of a hairstyle. I had to have it. And I would.

The scissors in the kitchen are used for two things in this apartment; opening bottles, and taking up space in the knife drawer.

I realise that these scissors are not for hair.

I also realise the risk, and remember being yelled at as a child for attempting to "grow out my bangs" using scissors. Obviously, that didn't work. Although, I did have the baddest horizontal faux-hawk on the playground that year. Respect.

Nevertheless, I took the scissors into the bathroom, made a ponytail and then cut said ponytail off.

Shortly after the point of no return, my good pal Mer called. Gleefully, I told her of my haute coiffure strategy, while she sat silently on the line. 10 minutes later, Mer was at my door with a Toblerone, demanding that I put down the scissors.
She was too late. By that point I had effectively executed the "Suri Cruise" and could do anything but cease and desist. Two hours, and a second pair of scissors later, I stepped away from the mirror standing on a shag carpet fashioned of my own descended mane, liberated.

Free at last. And with the money that I'll save on shampoo now, that suit is looking better with every passing minute. From my breasts to my brows in one night. Now that’s what you call a madcap decision. Pun intended. Snip snip!

Citizen Shmitizen

* this is post for class*

In the spirit of good "citizen journalism" -- I will pledge my allegiance today to the art, or craft, or, let's face it, hobby of civilian scribble, as a citizen as well as a student. How fitting.

The "definition" of citizen journalism as so conventionally cited on today's most citizenly-charged site,
Wikipedia (or as I like to call it, WikiPoodia in reference to content quality – starts with a c and ends in r-a-p) states that citizen journalism is:

"citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information,"

I'll begin as a journalist. I pay good money to sit in class and get my feet wet under the instruction of teachers and professors who are already knee-deep in the field. Naturally, it's a little defeating to know that any old joe can "publish" his work during his lunch break at his REAL JOB, whilst I toil away in 'Intro To Online JRN 112'. This raises a question, as well as some stewing concern regarding journalism in itself. Is it still a REAL JOB?

Why is it that I've sold my shoes, my clothing, my mini fridge, even my soul to the devil in hopes of obtaining at least a B in Cathy Dunphy's class, all in an effort to obtain that handy piece of paper that says, "yep, she's a journalist" -- while other people, who have no training at all, can sit back and watch the hits pour in.**

(**Yeah, that was a run on sentence, but so what? I'm a citizen, not a scholar.)

Why waste my time priming for a career that it seems everyone has a hand in? When it comes to citizen journalism, everyone wants a piece of the pie – and as far as the internet is concerned, everyone is welcome to as much flakey, fruit filled, freedom as they please.

However, from a citizen's perspective, I can understand the desire to blog and be heard.

Contrary to popular thought, I didn't come out of the womb with my Ryerson acceptance papers in hand. Nor did I come out of high school with them either, for that matter. I wasn't instantly granted the right to write, and before I was a student, I was simply just a "civilian". A civilian with opinions, quips and an insatiable curiosity. A civilian who needed an outlet, damnit!

On the first day of class in first year we're asked:

"What is news?"

Well, I still don't know what news embodies, or rather what embodies the news. What I do know, and always have known (even as a poor, unfortunate, untrained civilian) is that everyone has their own definition of that which is news-worthy, and it may not always coincide with the opinions of the great people at CanWest Global.

Therefore, in the case of "citizen journalism" – I'm afraid my jury is still out. As a citizen specimen of society, I can identify with those whose opinions do not echo after the wise words of CBC, CNN, BBC or any other tri-lettered mass media conglomerate. To those people who have been silenced by Wolf Blitzer, I say, "Write on!"

As a journalist, I'll just have to stand tall and prepare to share the spotlight with my fellow news-savvy critics who did not strive for an A in
"Info and Visual Resources JRN100".
I will bite my tongue every time beats me to the headline, deadline or punchline, because at the end of the day, the only line is the bottom line: I'll get paid for it, and they won't.

God Bless J-Skool.