Monday, April 21, 2008

Advice to Future English 304 Students

My advice for future students in Angie's English 304 class is to make sure you keep up with all of your assignments. The assignments are not very difficult, but they can be easily forgotten. Make sure to always check the weekly to do list, and make a note to remind yourself what needs to be done. Especially during the weeks when the class does not meet in Second Life, it is easy to forget to do your blog post or weekly assignment. You need to create some sort of system to remind yourself to do everything on the to do list. Different things work for different people, but I always wrote down the list on a post-it note and checked things off as I did them. The major projects during the semester are done in groups. Make sure you get to know your group well, and make sure your group stays on top of the group work. It can be hard to coordinate schedules, so be sure to try to work in advance.

Most of the assignments are small and may not take a lot of time to complete. While the assignments seem small, you can get a lot out of them. Be sure to take the assignments seriously, and try your best in your writing assignments. The more effort you put into your writing assignments the better you will become at business writing. I have already been able to apply a lot of the advice and writing techniques I have learned in this class to things I do in other classes. Angie is very helpful, and be sure to pay attention to her feedback because it will not only help you in preparing your final portfolio but it will also help you in becoming a better writer.

Second Life will seem very strange in the beginning, and it honestly is still a very strange concept to me. While it can be weird having class in SL, it really is not that difficult. I would make sure to spend some time in SL on your own before you meet in class. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with the basics. Also, make sure your computer can handle a program like SL. I had to order more virtual memory for my computer to handle the program. If you have any problems with SL running on your computer, you should take a visit to CCIT. They were very helpful to me when I was having trouble with it. It is very different to be chatting online for a class. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and consider the effects technology has on the future in education.

Lastly, if you ever need anything you should never hesitate to ask Angie for help. She is available for help whenever you need her, and she is always willing to work with you. She has the best interest of her students at heart, and she really wants you to be the best student and writer you can be. It is obvious that she is passionate about what she does, which makes her class that much better.

Friday, April 18, 2008


The Watergate scandal is one of the biggest political scandals in US history. Watergate involved a series of events, but the scandal began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in the Watergate hotel. The break-in was found to be in connection with people at the top of the government. A thorough investigation of the activities revealed several other unethical activities that were happening in the White House. When tapes of recorded conversations from the White House were discovered, it was revealed that Nixon had known about these events, and he had tried to cover up the burglary. These tapes proved that Nixon had obstructed justice, and he was forced to resign.

I was unable to find any examples of written documents illustrating communication between those involved in the scandal during that time. The main sources of communication were through phone conversations. After reading through some of the transcripts from the tapes, I was able to see some repeating themes. These tapes obviously use different language than a written document would use because a conversation is much more casual. In the transcripts, there were several instances where the person speaking would just sort of trail off and not finish the sentence. They would start a thought and basically leave it to the person on the other end to figure out the rest so that they were not explicitly saying what was going on. Both Nixon and the people he had conversations with obviously knew what they were doing was wrong. They would not have been so secretive in their conversations unless there was something unethical occurring. There were many, many instances of the person saying, “um…” or “uh…” These hesitations again show that Nixon and the people conversing with him knew that had to be careful about what they said. They were obviously trying to cover something. The conversations were very hard to follow because there were a lot of unfinished thoughts.

What I did find interesting, though, was that there were also several instances where they suddenly would use specific names and be much more obvious what they were talking about. In reading the entire transcripts, it is quite obvious what that Nixon was trying to cover up the break-in, but some parts of the conversations were very vague and some were a little more specific. I found this inconsistency to be very interesting. Overall, they used very ambiguous language. In reading the transcripts, it was easy to see how the language was altered because they were trying to hide something. I could not get the audio to work on my computer, but I wish I could listen to the tapes because I feel like their voices and tones would also be a very large indicator that they were trying to hide something they knew was wrong.

I find it very sad that this corruption and scandal was so large. The President is supposed to be a leader for the country, and it is disappointing to see such a huge ethical lapse. It seems like many large ethical lapses come from people who have a lot of power and control. Once people have control, they will do whatever it takes to keep it. It is disappointing to see a strong leader engage in such activities because they set a standard for the nation. In my last post, I discussed the fact that once a small ethical lapse is made, it becomes easier and easier to make more lapses. The many unethical activities involved in Watergate help prove this point. Once someone allows one small ethical lapse, those lapses can lead to larger unethical acts. It is important to act ethically in all situations and not let any unethical act be viewed as something so small that it does not matter. An ethical lapse, no matter how large or small, is unacceptable.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ethical Lapses

After reading the article "Ethical Lapses Distract US Workers," I was very surprised to learn the statistics about the number of ethical dilemmas that are frequently faced in the workplace. It is actually sad to see so many people reporting that they witness ethical lapses on a regular basis. I guess one of the biggest issues is how our society should help solve this problem before it becomes larger. Since I have been at Clemson, I have seen efforts by the professors to instill good ethics in its students. In my accounting classes the last two semesters, we have had to write papers analyzing a hypothetical ethical dilemma. I personally do not feel like I get much out of these exercises because I do not think ethics is something that can be taught in a classroom. I think that professors can be a positive influence by demonstrating good ethics to their students, but I personally feel that the problem regarding ethics has to be tackled primarily by the individual companies in the workplace.

The article mentions that a company needs to educate its employees about what is appropriate. Different fields will require different approaches to ethics, and I think the company needs to stress the importance of ethical behavior to its employees. By showing employees that they take ethics seriously, companies may have more of an impact on employees. Additionally, the article presents a very good point when it mentions the need to address the smallest problems. I think that many times companies and employees tend to overlook small ethical lapses because they think that it is too small to really hurt anything. The problem is that once you allow some lapses in ethical behavior, people get used to that kind of behavior being acceptable. I guess you can view the problem by saying there will be a "slippery slope." Once small mistakes are allowed, gradually larger slip-ups are going to occur. To show employees that they are serious in the demand for ethical behavior, companies have to address even the tiniest issues. By addressing these problems first, companies can avoid having to encounter larger problems.

Again, I do not think ethics is something that can be easily taught. The best way to "teach" ethics is to lead by example. Companies have to set a good example for their employees to show the importance of demonstrating ethical behavior.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Writing on Paper vs. Writing on the Web

Writing on the Web is a lot different than writing on paper, but there are similarities between the two types of writing. For any type of writing, it is important to analyze your audience and purpose. The only way to write an effective piece is to make sure your writing is appropriate for your audience and purpose. The differences between writing on the Web and on paper come from the large differences in the audience and purpose for these two types of writing.

When readers are reading something on the Web, they tend to do more skimming rather than reading straight through an entire document. Knowing the reading style of the audience is important in determining how to structure the writing. Because readers rarely read everything on the page, it is important to put the main idea first in order to make sure your readers have not already stopped reading before they get to the most important parts. The book refers to this method as the inverted-pyramid method.

When I am reading information on the Web I know I tend to overlook things if I see large chunks of information presented at once. If the same amount of information was presented as several short paragraphs, I would be much more likely to read the information. Organization is very important when writing something on the Web. The layout should be easy to follow, and there should be many headings and subheadings. When there are headings, readers can see what to expect in the following text. Unlike reading something on paper, reading on the Web tends to be a lot less sequential. Readers scan for the information for which they are looking, and headings make it easy to do this. Also, the Web has the ability to include hyperlinks, which written text obviously cannot do. Knowing that readers may not read a lot of information on a page, a writer can give links to related pages. If a reader if looking for more information, he or she can follow the link.

The biggest differences in writing on the Web and on paper come from the layout and organization of the writing. When transferring a previously written document to the Web, it is important to adjust the layout to make it easily read on the Web. This can be done by making smaller paragraphs and including headings and subheadings. Also, writing on the Web should show separate parapraphs by putting a blank line in between them, while writing on paper would have indented paragraphs. Any changes made to a document that is posted on the Web should be properly noted, and it is important to gain permission from the author before posting a document on the Web.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

Over Spring Break, I read Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She takes a year of her life to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia. I really enjoyed her writing style. I felt that it was easy to read, and she included a lot of humor into her book. She takes the time to travel because she is searching for happiness in her life. Especially in India, she is searching for a deeper meaning in life, and she describes how she experiences God through meditation. Although her experiences and revelations were deep and full of meaning, she relates them to the audience in a light-hearted way that is easy to understand. I really liked her laid-back style. After reading the book, I felt like I should be on a first name basis with the author because I felt like I knew her so well from the way she communicated her experiences.

I liked the entire book, but I particularly enjoyed the section about her travels in India. At first, she really struggles with meditation. She finds that it is really hard to quiet herself to concentrate on the meditation practices. While she faces many challenges with this form of prayer, she pushes herself to overcome the obstacles. She endures physical pain while trying to sit through the meditation, but by the end of her journey, she comes to actually embrace the meditation practices. I admired her perseverance, and I think it shows an important lesson about how things do not always come easily. There are many things in life that require a struggle before you can reach the good part, and it is important to not give up as soon as something gets hard. I think she comes to love meditation because it was so hard for her in the beginning. Many times, something becomes much greater if you have to endure challenges to reach it.

Another part I liked about the book is that she focuses on experiencing God through her own spirituality and experiences with Him. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about religion. I think that sometimes people get really caught up in the differences in beliefs among different religions or denominations, and I think people need to take a step back to look at the bigger picture. It is not about your religious beliefs; rather, it is about striving to live the best possible life and striving to connect with God or whatever greater being you believe in. In her book, Gilbert does not try to interject anything about her personal beliefs. She simply relates how she reached God through meditation practices, and I really enjoyed the way she discussed the subject. While I do not see myself living at an ashram in India, I do hope that I can one day reach the depth of spirituality that Gilbert found during her stay at the ashram.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lying on your Resume

I think that it is very sad that it is becoming common to find people lying on their resumes, but it also does not shock me. Since I have not started applying for jobs and I do not have a lot of experience in the working field, I do not personally know people who have lied on their resumes. While I was reading this article, it made me think back to when I was applying to colleges. I knew a lot of people who embellished their college applications to make themselves appear more qualified than they really were. In most cases, people exaggerated the truth, which is still lying. For instance, people would join a club and never once do anything with it, but they would say that they actively participated in the club. It frustrated me to listen to the ways people would try to make themselves seem like a better applicant than they really were. I knew it was not uncommon for entering college students to lie on applications, but I would have hoped that people would be mature enough to report the truth by the time they are applying for jobs after college. After reading this article, I know that is obviously not the case.

I think the problem is growing because more and more people resort to lying about their qualifications. Honest and qualified job applicants feel like they have to make themselves look better because everyone else is lying to look good. The trend continues to grow because as more people lie about their qualifications, more people have to lie to keep up with the competition of the liars. While it is easy to see why this trend is growing, it is not right. Just because other people are lying to get jobs does not make it right for you to lie. Eventually it is going to catch up with you, and most likely, the consequences are going to be far more detrimental to a person's career than if she had simply told the truth in the first place.

I personally would not be satisfied knowing that I got a job using false information, no matter how qualified I felt I was for the job. I think it is wrong to lie about qualifications, and it is wrong to give employers a false impression of who you are. While lying could help someone earn a job, it is going to catch up with them eventually. I think it is sad that our world is full of so many dishonest people. It is sad that employers should even have to question the legitimacy of someone's resume, but changes in technology will help catch future lies. As technology continues to expand, it is going to become much easier for employers to check the validity of resumes. Integrated technology makes it easy for companies to receive access to all sorts of information, and people need to be aware of the risks they face by lying on resumes.

The site offered many tips to help people design an impressive resume. Many people may lie because they do not want an employer to see a large gap in their employment history, and the site gives advice on how to present the truth without emphasizing the gap. Their advice focuses on ways of presenting the truth in a way that highlights all of the good qualities, as opposed to the things that people try to cover up. Many times people do not need to lie about the things they lie about on their resume; instead, they need to change their resume design to draw employers to the qualities they want to highlight. I'm sure there are a lot of helpful resume sites that present the same advice. I hope more and more people are able to learn how to present the truth in a desirable way, and I hope the trend of lying does not continue. It's scary to think of a world full of dishonest people.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Group Business Plan

Our group has chosen to create a water sports business. We are going to sell equipment for a variety of water sports as well as offer rentals for the equipment. Additionally, we are going to offer lessons for activities like snorkeling and parasailing. The name of our business is going to be Snappy Shark Watersports.

Originally, our group was planning to place our business in Coconut Grove, FL. This area in SL seemed like a good place for a business. However, when we met this past week, our group decided to change our place of business to Key West. After exploring Second Life, we saw that a lot of people had established businesses on islands they had made up and created on their own. Most of the places we visited had very low traffic coming to the area. Obviously, low visitors does not help create a successful business. Then we visited Key West, and we noticed that this area had a lot of traffic. We reasonably concluded that people are more likely to visit places in SL that actually exist in real life. Key West is a well known tourist and vacation area, and people are attracted to it. People know about the attraction to Key West in real life, so they are also drawn to the area in SL. In reality, businesses in Key West receive a lot of business from vacationers, and we feel that the same is true in SL. Since our target audience is mainly vacationers, we decided that Key West is the perfect area for our business.

Key West already has a lot of businesses, so we know that competition might be difficult. For this reason, we have also decided to try to partner with an existing resort or hotel. By doing so, both our business and the business of the hotel or resort would benefit. It would greatly help our starting business because we could easily get business from their already established clients.

The businesses in SL seem to follow many of the same trends and patterns of businesses in the real world. Recognizing the similarities, we have made decisions that we would make in a business setting in real life. Our decision to create a partnership is definitely a trend seen in real life businesses. Based on our research in SL, I feel that our business decisions will be successful in SL.