What is the Author’s “Text Message”?


This past weekend I attended the Young Authors and Storytellers Festival here at SUNY Geneseo. The children in the community were invited to attend the festival and enter their own poems into the poetry contest. It was a great day full of learning and appreciation for children’s poetry.

Literacy for this generation is defined differently than from even five years ago. The keynote speaker, an artist from Arkansas, showed the children a slideshow explaining ekphrasis, a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art. She began by showing what I thought were random shapes, and she went around the room and ask different age groups what we thought the image was. The adults had no answer, the college students labeled the image “art”, and the younger children yelled, “GOOGLE!” After looking at the image a little harder, I could make out the word “Google”, but the parents could not. I found this interesting and concluded that the children knew it was Google because of technology, whereas if the woman showed a blurry picture of Webster’s Dictionary cover, the parents would recognize that, while the children may not.


Because the keynote speaker was an artist, she related poetry to her favorite paintings to show that every piece of art has a story. As she went through the poems, she would ask the children, “what is the text message the author is sending us?” I was very confused by this question. Text message? This poem is from the 1800s, how could the author send me a “text message”? In that moment, I felt very old because the kids did not find anything wrong or strange with that question. She continued to teach the students about how each poem has a text message the author is sending to you to explain what is happening. This interpretation was bizarre to me, but it was an effective strategy because the students knew exactly what they were being asked.

The term literacy is constantly evolving. I think that as long as children are reading, it shouldn’t necessarily matter what they are reading from: a book, a magazine, an iPad, an iPhone, or a Kindle. Reading is a vital part to survival in our society and in the classroom. It is our jobs as teachers and role models to find what makes children excited about reading in order to ensure their interest in being life long learners.


Social Media in the Classroom


After reading the article “5 Unique Uses of Twitter in the Classroom” by Ryan Lytle, I thought about how beneficial Twitter really is in a classroom setting. The article discusses the use of Twitter mainly in universities for the purposes of conveying messages to students, to broaden their technological ability, and how to expand businesses. Although the article focuses mostly on how to build a business over Twitter, I think one important takeaway is the importance of social media etiquette. Because social media is still relatively new, we have not created a social etiquette of what is appropriate and what is not including when you should and shouldn’t use social media, and what is and isn’t appropriate to post.

In our class, we use Twitter during and after class using #engl340. This, in my opinion, is a great resource to continue the conversation out of the classroom setting. It enforces the fact that learning does not end once you leave the class. The article discusses the importance of maintaining a professional Twitter in order to spread your ideas as well as become more marketable.


I think that this topic is now relevant to all ages, whether it be in a college or a high school. Technology is a topic that must be taught, and well, in order to maintain an appropriate social media image in future endeavors.


The True Definition of Happiness

I think it is very difficult to define “happiness” in today’s society. Typically, people believe their happiness depends on their income or whether or not they have the latest version of technology or how they look. The amount of money a person earns in order to buy new technology or the latest trends is becoming the root of all happiness.

I recently watched the documentary “Happy” which follows various people in different regions of the world to see how happy they are. One story in particular made me question the true definition of happiness. Manoj, a rickshaw driver, lives in a slum in Kalkata, India. Although he lives in extreme poverty and pulls a cart of people everyday, he is considered to be as happy as the average American. He lives in extreme poverty, works through intense heat and monsoons, and has little to eat, and yet he thinks he is one of the richest people in the world because he loves his family and friends.

While watching his story, I felt sorry for the conditions he was forced to live in, but as his story continued, I realized he was rich, just in a different way than the typical American would agree with . He has the love of his family and friends, he considers his neighbors as a part of his family, and he considers himself lucky to have any shelter at all. If any American had to live this way I highly doubt they would consider themselves “rich”. I think that this is the perfect example of how peoples’s happiness today is too dependent on social conformities. People are in constant competition with one another to prove whose life is better, rather than living deliberately and for themselves. I believe this is what Henry David Thoreau’s ideologies were founded on: the concept of living for oneself and un-materialistically.

Manoj seemed happier than many people I know, and he has so much less. Because he feels that he is not in competition with anyone else, he works to provide for his family, but not so they can buy the new iPhone or latest trend, but rather so they can continue to live their lives. Thoreau would believe that Manoj’s lifestyle is ideal in order to live his life for himself instead of for the approval for others. Manoj is rich; he is rich with love and happiness for the life he lives.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.24.49 PM

Private Becomes Public?

While reading some of the possible ideas for this blog post, I thought about the importance of technology in our daily lives. The biggest being our smartphones always in hand. We live in a society where our daily lives depend on technology. Our smartphones store important dates, our pictures, contacts, and confidential information. This made me think about just how confidential the information on our phones is. Sure, you can put a passcode on your phone, and now you can even download apps that are locked with a password to store credit card information or your social security number. But just how well is this information protected?

On iPhones, Apple uses a storage system called iCloud. According to Apple, iCloud, “gives you access to your music, photos, contacts, calendars, documents, and more from your Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Windows computer. iCloud stores your content and automatically keeps it up to date on all your devices” (Apple Website). The majority would say that iCloud is the ideal storage unit for your device’s information.

Many of you probably have read articles about leaked iCloud accounts of celebrities. In September of 2014, many celebrities found their photos from their iPhone online. The majority of these pictures were naked photos belonging to more than 100 high-profile singers, actors, and celebrities. The list includes Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and many more. The photos were uploaded to a public photo sharing website called 4chan and anyone could download them. The accessibility of these photos made others question how easy it would be to hack anyone’s phone.

While Apple’s iCloud has been known to be safe and secure, resources claim that hackers could have attained this information indirectly such as, “guessing users’ passwords or simply resetting their accounts by finding their email address and then answering traditional security questions” (Vincent). A fault with Apple’s “Find My iPhone” at the time did not restrict the number of password guesses, resulting in unlimited guesses for the hacker. Other experts argue that this could be the result of Dropbox, another image storage, leaking photos, but sources are convinced Apple is at fault.

Apple did not comment on the series of events, but has since changed the security measures of the users’ iCloud accounts. Now, you must include a capital letter, a number, and another character such as an exclamation mark in your iCloud password. Apple did not comment on the series of events.

This raises the question: how private is our information to the public, and who has access to our accounts? Apple has taken many new security measures to ensure the trust of its customers. Experts are telling people to turn off iCloud in settings to guarantee the security of your information for the future.

Article About the Safety of iCloud