Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bits: Majoring in Facebook, Russian Muslims & Traveling Online


"About Facebook! Forward March!" by Monica Hesse, from the Washington Post

Leaving the silly headline aside, this article is about schools, specifically the Rochester Istitue of Technology, Cornell and University of Michigan, expanding and developing their computer sciences program into the new frontier: online social networking. Or, as Hesse puts it: "You can now major in MySpace, sort of." There is even a scholar in the field: danah boyd (intentional lower-case), a graduate student who is an expert in all things Facebook, MySpace, Friendster (oh, 2003) and whatever else is out there. Hesse also delves into the voyeuristic characteristics (poetic, I know) of these sites, because you outrightly present yourself to people without having to physically do so, and say things to people that you know others will read (the Facebook wall).


"An overflowing of Muslim pilgrims from Russia for the hajj" by Michael Schwirtz, from the International Herald Tribune

Considering how the Russians (or Soviets at that point--my history is kind of rusty in that respect, I need to read up more on it) were courting Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries for arms and ammunitions sales, it's weird that Russian Muslims wouldn't be allowed to perform hajj, (one of the five pillars of Islam--you undergo a religious journey to the birthplace of Islam in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. My father was going to go in March and take me with him, but alas, it was too expensive. It would've been great because you can't enter Saudi Arabia legally as a tourist, only religious, work or family reasons. My dad's brother also lives there, and my father used to live there too.). Practicing Islam in Russia used to be forbidden too, but now, it flourishes, with mosques and head scarves everywhere.


"Travel guidebooks expand online presence" by Eric Pfanner, from the International Herald Tribune

My problem with online expansion in this case is, why would you want a guidebook online? If you're traveling, you don't want to be glued to your computer (this says a lot coming from me), you want to be out there, in the country, experiencing everything there is to experience. Having more online materials, therefore, would be detrimental to that experience. I love having an actual guidebook with me because I can whip it out whenever I need it. And Pfanner brings up the point of short trips to a region where you don't necessarily need the entire country guidebook, but I say that it's an investment. But this is probably just my love with print talking.

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