Thursday, December 15, 2011

Not Your Momma's Gift Guide

Here at Georgia Tech's College of Computing, we never do anything like "normal" people. Meaning, we like to step it up a notch. For the holidays, the communications team came up with a new spin on the traditional holiday gift guide. Trust me, you want to check out what we made (hint: it includes a super cool robot).

LinkCheck it out:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

10 Things 90s Kids Will Have to Explain to Their Children

Corey sent me a link to a truly brilliant post, which I feel I must recreate here because I am jealous that I did not think of it first. I tried to select a few excerpts from Chelsea Fagan’s original post (which she describes as “ a primer for when your future children want to know what the hell you were doing with your boxy, multicolored electronics”) but, alas, I couldn't choose between them.

10 Things 90s Kids Will Have to Explain to Their Children

1. Topanga was at some point in human history considered not only a legitimate first name for a human being, but the kind of name that would inspire in malleable teenage boys a life-long infatuation. Topanga, in our day, was leading lady name-material. Topanga (pronounced Tah-payne-ga, for those who will have only ever seen in it written down) is the name of the quintessential girl-next-door who will live, along with Feeney, in our hearts forever.

2. At some point, we carried around little plastic eggs with tiny screens on them — in these screens lived our hearts, our pets, our raison d’etre, our very own Tamagotchi. We loved them, we listened to their tiny electronic screams of malnourishment, and we occasionally forgot to pick up their poop for long enough that they died a tortured, poop-filled death. They were perhaps our first foray into the life-consuming world of electronics and self-absorption, later to be fully manifested by Facebook.

3. The black Power Ranger was black and the yellow Power Ranger was Asian because…we were so completely ahead of our time and beyond the capacity to even think in terms of something as inconsequential as race that… uh… I don’t know. Casting directors were racist in the nineties.

4. Long before he was spending his days foisting his mediocre children on us, Will Smith was actually the perfect human specimen. He also undoubtedly holds some world record for saving the world the most times while simultaneously delivering flawless catchphrases and giving cool guy nods to the camera. The Men In Black rap song, at the time, was created and received by the public without the slightest trace of irony. Really. He was that good.

5. In some inevitable shift of the time-space continuum in which James Cameron continues to rob humanity of all that is good and sacred in this world, Fern Gully will be known as that movie that ripped off Avatar. It will be up to us to crusade for what is right. It is up to us to explain that Fern Gully was not only a predecessor to Avatar, but far better, in that it contained both Tim Curry as a singing pile of molasses and Robin Williams rapping about animal testing in the pharmaceutical industry. (As a side note, if you have not recently listened to the full lyrics of the “Batty Rap,” I recommend you do, as they are horrifying.)

6. A neighborhood boy who completely disregards your family and puts a ladder directly under the teenage girl’s window to climb up at his discretion is not only acceptable, it’s charming. It’s the kind of stuff that would make said family take the ladder boy under their wing and into their heart. The nineties were a simpler time, one where we didn’t have to worry about things like breaking and entering. Clarissa today would have steel bars on the inside of her window and her father would continually remind her that the next-door boy with his ladder and his touchy hands have no place in his household.

7. Though on the surface, they are the exact same thing in every conceivable way, whether you liked The Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC said more about your character than all of the terrible macaroni art you could ever make for your child psychologist. Essentially, liking *NSYNC meant you liked Justin Timberlake, as he was clearly the Seabiscuit in that race from the get-go. You even liked him with his terrible, icy-blond mini-fro. Liking the Backstreet Boys gave you a bit more of a cultured palate, as there was no clear Diana in those Supremes. Nick was kind of the wholesome, if northern-Florida-redneck safe choice (save for his humiliating younger brother, Aaron). Brian was the shy, sensitive type. AJ was the hottt, dangerous meth addict. Kevin Richardson was mute with sexy, sculpted facial hair. No one liked Howie. Choosing between the two groups was like choosing between two beloved children, but once that line was crossed–there was no going back.

8. “I wanna really really really wanna zig a zig ahh,” has a meaning, and all true nineties kids know it, but we must never share it. Like the Illuminati, it must remain between us, the keyholders. With great power comes great responsibility.

9. Lisa Frank is not the name of a woman, it is the name of a movement, a culture, a way of living. It is a theory, a concept, a belief in something greater than yourself. It is the belief that all girls are entitled to dolphins covered with rainbows, jewel-encrusted frogs, and unicorns in acid-trip colors hugging each other. It is the ideology that no notebook is complete until it literally hurts your eyes to look at from so much color saturation. It is the hope that no school supply, no matter how insignificant, will be left un-bedazzled. It is the knowledge that your eraser cap, and that of your granddaughter’s, and her granddaughter’s after her, will not be some boring little nub–it will be a diamond covered with butterflies in a rainbow of colors. It is the dream of a better tomorrow.

10. Incredibly depressing women in Indiana covered in cats and glass figurines they buy at The Hallmark Store used to troll the web 1.0 to invest thousands of dollars in tiny stuffed animals filled with plastic beans. That happened. Beanie Babies were not just significant, they were the first example most of us had of envy, greed, and wrath. If someone messed up that little heart-shaped Ty tag, so help you God, that was the end of whatever contact you had with that monster of a human being. That tag-less Beanie Baby was now trash, and you had to deal with the consequence. It was at that moment, that de-valued Beanie Baby moment, that most of us accepted the truth… we’ll never have nice things.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Update on Corey's Activities in Iraq

I'm very proud of my brother, Corey Thomas. He's a Georgetown graduate who is now serving his country as a 2nd Lieutenant Platoon leader for the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He is currently stationed in Iraq as leader of the 2nd Platoon, B Troop.

He's been working in a city that Time magazine once dubbed "the most dangerous city in Iraq." As troops pull out of the country, Corey and other soldiers have been assigned the important task of protecting passing conveys on their way out of the country. The groups look for IEDs and signs of enemy activity while working as a deterrent to enemies who might look to harm the passing convoys.

Today and yesterday, two articles were published that quoted Corey. I've included links to both below so you can see what he's been up to.

The Fayetville Observer:

Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System:

The office of public affairs for the 2nd Brigade Combat team of the 82nd Airborne Division has a website where you can read more news, look at photos and even watch videos:

Monday, October 17, 2011

A way with words

My mother has the ability to paint with words. Whether she uses a paper canvas or crafts her pictures on a conversational mural, she is able to produce striking images. A few days ago, she wrote the following nugget on my Facebook wall and I wanted to share it here:

I go with you to our favorite spots.
Levines bakery and later sledding in Central Park.
We fall to the earth with the snowflakes laughing.
You are here, still, in every waking hour. - Shari Thomas

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Family in One Picture

If I had to describe my family in one picture, this one would definitely be in the running. I love them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This is Anthropology

This week, Florida Governor Rick Scott said that he wants to increase support for science and technology fields by shifting money away from social sciences.

On Monday, in an interview with the Herald-Tribune, Scott said "If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education then I’m going to take that money to create jobs. So I want that money to go to degrees where people can get jobs in this state. Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so."


Later, in a radio interview, he said "[anthropology] is a great degree if people want to get it. But we don't need them here."

Alrighty, Governor Scott, time for a smack down. We've decided that the best people to deliver it should be anthropology students from within your own state. University of South Florida students have responded to Governor Scott's comments in the following way:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cute Animal Pictures of the Day

I should probably post something on the intellectual side, especially after that last video post. Instead, I'm going to post cute pictures of otters because they make me happy. I love otters; sea or river, it doesn't matter. I got to go on exhibit with the sea otters when I worked at the Georgia Aquarium a couple of times and it was wonderful. I miss them incredibly.

To the left, you is one of the most adorable animal pictures I've ever seen: an Asian small-clawed otter holding its little baby. This picture is so cute sometimes I can't even stand it. Awww...

More pictures below.

A sea otter mom with her baby

Baby Asian small-clawed otters

Monday, October 10, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Success in a MOOC

This is a great video by Dave Cormier, one of the facilitators of the #change11 MOOC. As a first-time MOOC participant, I'm very excited to be in a MOOC that he's facilitating!

#change11 - Growing Pains

After having just graduated with a master's in cyber anthropology, I am very excited to be a part of Georgia Tech's MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) or #change11. My excitement also speaks to the fact that I am once again in the working world and, inevitably, miss being a full-time student.

Anyway, I'm trying to dive into this MOOC but it's a bit overwhelming. However, I get the sense that that's kind of the point. By nature, a MOOC is constantly evolving according to the instructors and (mainly) the students. Participants heavily affect the flow and substance of the course and, in doing so, produce a large amount of content. Being raised in a fairly traditional education system (as I'm sure most of us were), a MOOC's dramatically different approach to learning will naturally produce some growing pains (emphasis on the word "growing").

My first instinct (as the "good" traditional student that I was) is to try to digest all the information that this MOOC is producing. However, attempting to stuff myself with the vast amount of content coming out of #change11 soon leads to a stomach ache. I'm trying to adopt the advice of the course facilitators: namely that it will be impossibly to read/watch/listen/respond to everything out there. That being said, I'm going to try to post blog reflections on how I'm interacting with the course and what I am learning. Also, instead of brushing a wide surface by trying to read/interact with as much material as possibly, I'm going to attempt to go deeper with a smaller amount of material.

I think one education's challenges in the 21st century is going to be whether they can change and adapt to new technology. Moreover, whether education can embrace new forms of technology to drive different types of learning and increase international collaboration. I think #change11 is going to be a fascinating experiment for all involved.

(note: the picture is from - a great blog to learn more about MOOCs and innovations in education)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I joined a MOOC/#change11

So I just joined a MOOC, or a Massive Open Online Course, at Georgia Tech called #change11.

Just to catch everyone up, I recently accepted a position at Tech as the PR & Social Media Officer for the College of Computing. One of the new things coming out of this college is C21U or the Center for the 21st Century (they just LOVE their acronyms around here). This living laboratory is examining the changes in higher education and the incorporation/disruption of technology in the classroom. One aspect of C21U is this online course, #change11, which is open to the public.

Anyway, being the lifelong learner that I am and a lover of all things new and innovative in social media/technology, I decided to enroll in this class. One of the ways to earn participation is to interact with the course content via your blog. So that is exactly what I am doing. We'll see where it takes me.

Speaking of C21U, Georgia Tech is hosting a launch event for this living laboratory on Sept. 27. It is open to the public and anyone who is interested in higher education, new media, technology, etc. should definitely attend. There are going to be some amazing speakers and opportunities for people to get involved.

More to come on the rest of my life later.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Thesis is Out!

I officially hold a Master's degree! Be sure to check out my thesis, entitled "La Vida Online: The Parallel Public Sphere of Facebook as Used by Colombian Immigrant Women in Atlanta."

You can download it here:

I am so very excited. Thank you to everyone for their support!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Social Media Isolates People?

Corey just sent me this article on the backlash of the academic community towards social media:

Facebook Privacy for Dummies

There has been an increasing backlash in the media, among academics, and my own friends regarding the information that people disseminate on Facebook. It harkens to a social fear surrounding privacy and the over-sharing of personal information. While I will be the first to admit that social media is increasingly problematic, I think it can also be empowering to many people in a variety of ways.

On that note, I want to laugh and yell at the same time whenever I see people complaining about Facebook and, yet, they have enacted NONE of the privacy settings available to them. While nothing posted on Facebook is completely "safe" there are certain precautions you can take to limit who can view your information and profile.

MA's Guide to Privacy on Facebook:

1. In the upper right corner on Facebook, click "Account" and select "Privacy Settings" from the drop down menu.

2. Start with the first option, "Connecting on Facebook," and click on the hyperlink "Account Settings." This section allows you to control who sees the type of information you share on Facebook.

3. Select the information you want certain people to see, from the most restricted (selecting "only friends" for every option) to the most open (selecting "everyone" for every option"). My current settings allow everyone to search for me or send me messages but the rest of my information is restricted to friends only.

4. Once completed, click on the button at the top that says "Back to Privacy."

5. The "Sharing on Facebook" section contains more detailed privacy settings.

6. To edit these settings, select "Custom" from the blue side bar and then click the small, blue hyperlink that says "Custom Settings."

7. You may now go through and edit each one of the options by selecting who is allowed to view your pictures, posts, and comments, as well as who can interact with you on Facebook and how.

Stay tuned for version 2 of Facebook privacy when we will discuss how you can organize groups of friends and select which group can see what. This is an ideal function if you have Facebook friends who are co-workers, bosses, professors, parents, etc.