“Tools” vs. “Weapons”

In John Cline’s article, “What Is a Machete, Anyway?” Cline talks about the multiple uses of a machete. A machete has multiple uses: to clear, to cut, to kill, and the use depends on whoever wields the machete. For example, a farmer could use a machete to cut down his crops, a explorer could use a machete to clear a path, but in the wrong hands, this tool could become a weapon used to kill. So, the person wielding the machete determines how the tool is used and the implications that it creates.  He goes on discussing how certain objects can have so many different uses which brings up the question: Is the object bad or is the person behind the object bad?



When ever there is a school shooting the debate of gun control always comes up. One side believes on stricter control of guns because of the violence that comes from guns, whereas the other side view the problem residing in the person wielding the gun not the object itself. Compared to the machete, it could be argued that the gun has less “practical” deer overpopulationuses outside of killing. They can both seen as tools, but the gun’s sole purpose can be seen for killing; however, the extremeness of killing might not always be seen as a bad thing. If a hunter uses a gun to kill an animal in order to control the overpopulation of an animal, it can be seen as a tool because they are doing what is believed is necessary to control an abundance of a certain animal. “Killing” might not be seen as a bad thing, which will make the gun be seen as a “tool,” rather than a “weapon” because the purpose is justified. Of course, the act is always interpreted differently by different people because of different views, which shows that determining if the object is a “weapon” or “tool” depends on both circumstances of the situation and also the interpretation of the situation.


In the end of his article, Cline suggests that the iPhone can have the same implications as a weapon can have to the environment. In its first life, an iPhone acts as a convenient tool for its user. This tool can allow a person to have more knowledge with them as they have easier access to the internet. Also, it can be a useful tool when lost or looking for suggestions. However, in regards to referring to this object as a weapon, it is not as obvious than a gun or machete may be. Instead, a iPhone, or smartphone, can act as the newest weapon against humanity.

The video above is a testament to how these smartphones can be a weapon just as detrimental as a machete or gun. And, just as a machete or gun, technology could be the newest subliminal weapon that we might now realize. How? Well, think about the convince of a smartphone: we always have directions, we always have opinions, we always are connected to our friends, but this convince acts as a weapon against humanity because it takes away from interaction. Think about the a recent, everyday experience–waiting for class for example. If there is ten minutes before class many people will just be on their phones. Now imagine ten years ago how much that setting would be different. The would be more spontaneous events because people are less distracted by the outside world and more focused on their surrounds.


Another example is asking for directions. Imagine the world when we went up to each other in the streets and asked for directions instead of looking them up on our phone. Maybe when asking someone for directions you spark up a quick conversation and exchange contact information. Now I know that this romantic idea of the time before smartphones did not always happen, but it was possible–more than it is now. And this is how technology can be classified as a weapon just as much as a gun or machete. Although it is not as obvious as gun or machete may be, it is as detrimental as them because it can bring harm to people lives.

In addition, technology can be a weapon against the environment. According to Chron.com, the average life expectancy of a phone is two years. That means that a object that costs over $500 that can fit in your pocket, can become a paperweight in as little as two years. It is not only detrimental to one’s wallet, but also our planet. The energy that it takes to build and use a cell phone and the harmful parts in it can be a weapon against our planet. According to an article by treehugger.com, “cell phones pose a serious burden on the environment, gobbling up power and precious materials before heading to landfill. In the developing countries where they are repurposed or dismantled, they can end up in the rivers and soil, where they help contribute to cancer, damage to the nervous system and to brain development in children,” and this shows up that technology is the newest weapon that is used in the world and although we might not notice it, it threatens us socially and environmentally.


Do you think that technology is a tool or a weapon socially and environmentally? How has the purpose of technology evolved since the release of the smartphone?

Object Description Draft


This object is round with about a diameter of two and a half inches, and no more than a .5 centimeter width, and is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. From the top down, the circle becomes slightly broken at the bottom possibly due to erosion, and at the top, it is also slightly bent. The objects consists of two sides: the front and the back.

The Front

On the front, the color is an “army green,” with microscopic brown spots that appear more frequently near the edges of the object. The color is not the original color, but is due to the lack of preservation because it was underground years prior to excavation. Near the center of the object is a spot of built-up rust with a length of about 1 cm. This area pops out of the object for about two millimeters. It is made out of a tough metal that shows signs of aging and rust, although is still strong.

The outer edge of the object slightly pops out for about 1 millimeter. The object displays a bald eagle on the front with the eagle looking to the side so only one eye is visible. The neck of the eagle is about 1 centimeter long and the texture of the hair on the eagle’s neck is very fine, but as the neck reaches the body, the texture becomes less fine. The body of the eagle slightly leans to its left with its left wing larger than its right. The right wing is about 1 centimeter wide and 2 centimeters tall, whereas the left wing is about 1.5 centimeters wide and 1.5 centimeters tall. Following the body, there are two legs that slightly pop out more compared to the body. The legs are relativity smooth compared to the texture of the rest of the eagle. The eagle’s right foot consists of four toes holding three arrows pointing upwards. The arrows are about 1.5 centimeters long and the bottom arrow is faded more than the top arrow. The left foot is holding a tree branch. The branch is very faded compared to the arrows. Between the legs is the area of built-up rust.

The Back

In the center of the object there is a bald-eagle

Front of belt buckle


Back of belt buckle–shows signs of decay



... Union Belt and Cartridge Box Plates | American Civil War Forums
Similar belt buckle in more pristine condition

Project 3: Manuel’s Tavern

For my project, I am more interested in choosing an artifact with Manuel’s Tavern. Manuel’s Tavern has a very popular reputation and I think that it would be more interesting to look at artifacts from this location, rather than the Phoenix Project. Although Atlanta has a rich history, I do not think that the artifacts would be as interesting as the ones at Manuel’s Tavern because Manuel’s taverns would be more “flashy” and interesting to work with. Based on the Phoenix Project article, it does not seem that the artifacts would be as obvious and interesting to talk about compared to the more historical ones at Manuel’s Tavern. Also, I would like to go to Manuel’s Tavern and have a beer while I choose my artifact.

Human Hair Accessories and Death Celebrations

Luke Fildler’s article “Impressions From The Face of a Corpse” talks about death masks, which, as Fildler states,  is “something between a creepy portrait and a contact relic.” He discusses the idea of death mask and objects related to death. In this blog post, I am going to discuss taboos–what makes a taboo a taboo. Also, I am going to talk about “death,” how it is viewed in different cultures, and how death is relative in different cultures.

Merriam-Webster defines taboo as “banned on grounds of morality or taste,” so with this definition we note that taboo is something that is not talked about among a group of people.  So what makes something a taboo compared to a normal, everyday act? Well, when looking at Collectors Weekly’s  article about hair jewelry as “mourning jewelry,” we can notice how a trend can become a taboo. This taboo started as a trend; however, over time wearing jewelry that has parts that originate of humans is now considered a taboo, and, obviously, this is due to the “human” aspect of the accessory.  Going back to the definition of a taboo, we note that it is not talked about because of “morality.” In Belk’s article, “Possessions and the Extended Self,” he talks about contamination with possessions and discusses that objects become contaminated when it is associated with a personal part of a person. For example, he states “secondhand clothing worn close to its former owner (e.g., underwear) does not sell and apparently enjoys a similar taboo against reuse to avoid contamination” (151). So, Belk would argue that, due to how personal this accessory is, people would be drawn away from it because it is”contaminated” (e.g., it was a part of another person’s body)–or is “banned on the grounds of morality and taste.” The human aspects draws people away from this because it represents a person giving themselves away through this product. The wearer of this jewelry would not feel as comfortable because it was “contaminated” with a personal part of another person.


So the “human” aspect is what makes this taboo; however, if we keep the hair aspect in the equation and takeout the human aspect, we can argue that it is not the “living being” that makes this object a taboo, but the “human.” Take the violin bow for an example. The string on the bows is made out of horse hair; however, many people accept this and view it as a beautiful aspect to the instrument. People are not uncomfortable that the bow has an animal’s hair; however imagine if the bow was made out of human hair instead of horse hair. Replacing the horse hair with human hair would then make it a taboo because we have contaminated due to the fact that it is coming from–as Belk says–the “formal owner.” The thing that draws people away from the hair jewelry is human aspect of it.


So, why would these items be collected and not worn? Well, to talk about this, I need to again refer to Belk’s article, “Possessions and the Extended Self,” because Belk specifically talks about collecting things when he states, “We may not be able to control much of the world about us, but the collection, whether dolls, “depression glasses,” or automobiles, allow us total control of our little world” (154). So when people begin to collect these things, they may recognize that it is a thing of the past that they are no longer able to experience, but having it in the possessions gives them that little moment in time and allows that fashion moment to be a part of the world. Belk would say that there would be a reason for a person to collect these specific items–maybe it was passed down to from mother to daughter and the daughter has memories of her mother wearing these items, so collecting them allows her to keep a little piece of her mother with her even after death. As the collection of this hair jewelry grows, so does the memory of her mother, which allows her mother to become stronger in her mind.


Next, let me talk about taboo and death. The topic of death varies from culture to culture, and how people mourn for their losses is experienced differently in different cultures. Karl Pilkington’s documentary “The Moaning of Life” goes over the idea of death and how it is viewed in different parts of the world.
 In this documentary Karl goes to various cultures to discover how they celebrate or mourn their dead members. In Thailand, he sees professional mourners coming to add a sad tone to a funeral service; in Korea he goes to a ceremony where groups “perform” funerals to hear what their friends have to say about each other while they are alive laying in the casket.  One of the more interesting parts of the documentary is when he goes to Ghana and attends a funeral where people are banging pots in the street, blowing whistles, and making as much noise as possible in a parade-like fashion to mourn their dead. They believe that the more people come out of their house, the better the funeral will be because more people will notice what is going on.


So, the thing that we learn from the documentary is that death is viewed differently in all parts of the world. In the United States, we have a bad relationship with death, we don’t like to talk about it; however, in this documentary we begin to see the shifting idea about how death is viewed in different cultures. Death is not viewed as a taboo, but as something to be a sad experience where everyone needs to mourn, or it can be a celebration of a persons life. What one person may consider a taboo, another night consider a norm, so many of these things just depend on where you are.


Another culture where we can study the shifting views of death is the country of Mexico and “El dia de muertos”.
According to the University of New Mexico this day is “when children dance with caricatures of death, eat skull sugar molds and learn to respect that life is brief, they learn there is a circle to life and to not fear death and then are free to enjoy and appreciate every moment.” On this day, Mexicans will celebrate death and the dead in the graveyard, while not to be scared of death. This holiday is celebrated around the same time as Halloween is celebrated in the United States. Just as I mentioned above, we can learn the shifting patterns regarding behavior towards dead things. We can see how even neighbors–US and Mexico–can have completely different relationships with death, despite being so close to each other. One way we can explain these differences is due to the history of the two countries. The two countries have different histories, so therefore they have different ideas about different topics.


 Overall, topics such as hair jewelry and death are intricate topics. Why one person does something and other does something else are all relative. Understanding the history of the culture is the first step to uncovering why they do what they do. As I discussed in my article, certain “human” factors can make something a taboo. Taboos vary from culture to culture; however, they are ever prevalent in our world and learning about them can allow us to uncover more information about overselves.


Cute Things Question

Marovich ends her article saying that “The sort of charming specialness that will earn you prime real estate in a window, or on a desk (or a job in cat café), may not actually be the thing that makes you indispensable to humans, after all.” In regards to this, is it the physical cuteness of the animals that makes them attractable to humans, or is it the mystery and “naiveness” of the objects that we are attracted to? We consider many objects cute such as babies, animals, or certain objects, and these different things cannot respond to us. Is cuteness related to non-responsiveness?

Twitter Essay Reflection

The thing that I enjoyed most about this project was the fact that it was short, simple, and to the point. I feel like a lot of essay that I wrote throughout my college career could have been done in 140 characters, but instead I was forced to write ten pages on the topic. Then as I was writing the pages, it was losing meaning because I kept repeating the same thing over and over again. Also, I believe that having such a short phrase to express something is just as powerful as writing a paper because it will make the reader more focused on the topic and allow them to interpret it themselves.

This assignment–and class in general so far–has made me realize that liking objects does not always have to do with materialism. I used to think that anyone who was obsessed with objects was very materialistic; however, as I was doing this project, I came to realize that objects are a part if who we are; they are the things that are important in our lives. Just because a person values a certain ring, necklace, or purse doesn’t mean that they are materialistic; instead, it means that they may have some certain memory attached to the object that brings them joy. To me, my guitar and my travel journals are the most important objects in my life. Does this mean that I am obsessed with them and they control my life? No. It just means that I have memories and experiences with them that bring me joy when I see them.

So as I was doing this assignment, I wanted to focus more on the sentimental and cultural aspects rather than the material aspects of objects. My goal was to express the fact that we all value objects and what we value says a little bit–not everything–about who we are. They tell a story about our personality, history, and what we deem important. Moreover, I wanted to show the beauty that come from objects as they become part of who we are and bring meaning to our lives.

What I learned while doing this assignment is how to use multiple modes when trying to express a certain message. As I said above, there are many times when I write papers where I believe that I can express what I want to say in 140 characters rather than ten pages. So with my tweets, I wanted them to have deep meanings and also make people think about what they are reading. I wanted them to have a power impact that would make the reader reflect on what I was saying and allow them to come up with their own interpretation–similar to the goal of a poem. As I was preparing for this assignment, I took the materialist aspect out of the equation and tried to focus on what objects personally mean to me and how I view my most important possessions. As I was creating the tweets, I avoided unnecessary words and used a thesaurus to figure out which words would have the most effect when reading.

For my first tweet I put a picture of an old-looking journal to express that objects hold memories just as a journal does. All of the words in the tweet are expressing that objects are a reflection of ourselves and our history, just like a journal is as it is written down memories of experiences. The picture was supposed to add a visual to conform the idea that objects are our memories and tell a story just as our objects do. Using these two modes allowed them to support each other, while still leaving room for the reader for their own interpretation.

For my second tweet, I benefited from the in-class peer review and used the advise to try to add more meaning to my tweet. I tried to show the evolution of how an objects brings meaning to a person or culture. I began with the phrase “people create objects” and then used an arrow because it became understood that the arrow would be in place of the word “create.” I added a bunch of other things that are “created” out of objects and then stated “culture creates beauty” to symbolize that objects create culture and culture creates beauty. It was as if it was an evolution of the effects that begin with objects. First, people create the objects, but as the interpretation of the object evolves, the objects end up “creating” the people. Below the tweet I incorporated a picture of a parade with many objects that are creating a culture. I think that the tweet speaks for itself and provides a power definition of what an object creates. Between the two tweets, I think that my second one provided a more powerful message of what objects teach us about ourselves through an example.

Overall, this assignment made me realize that a message is powerful–maybe even more powerful–when it is short compared to being long. The shortness of the message leaves room for interpretation to the reader. Using multiple modes allows the reader to come up with a conclusion that may not be as obvious when using words.


Post 1: Writing and Material Culture

In “The Secrets to Good Writing: It’s About Objects, Not Ideas,” John Maguire discusses why students are having trouble writing and attempts to set forth a new idea to help students improve their writing. Maguire characterizes student writing as focusing on “abstract ideas” rather than focusing on the content and details of the writing. They are often too focused on the “big picture” thus veering away from the content of the essay. He begins his essay talking about how many students come to college and are unable to write a good paper. He suggests that the main problem that students face is their inability to formulate content. As he explains, “One might naturally assume that giving good concrete examples is unteachable, that it’s just an aspect of a student’s thinking, and that a student with good mind will use good examples in his or her essays,” and with this he characterizes that writing students are not incoherently bad with writing, but they are just not taught how to formulate contents through their past teaching of writing. Students have trouble with writing because they cannot orderly display examples and content throughout their essay. He suggests that students need to add physical objects to the idea in order to create content.

In response to Maguire characterization, I agree when he characterizes new writing students in this light. I also agree with Maguire’s point that there is a lot of emphasis on the grammar aspect of writing, but formulating examples and content is often believed to just be “understood” be skilled writers. Drawing back to the Czikszentmihalyi reading, using objects that we value or objects of power would allow the writer to become more interested in what they are writing about, thus making their writing less “boring.” Also, using objects that relate to self can help improve this characterization that Maguire sets forth that would allow students to become more descriptive.

However, there are many holes in this characterization and idea of bringing physical objects in student writing. First, when Maguire is talking about the topics that writing students, he seems to act as if students are only faced with topics that one can imagine, such as history, policy, or experiences. However, college writing is often not about these topics. How can a student add physical objects to a paper on Aristotle’s ethos, pathos, and logos? How can a student add physical objects to a response to a reading on Marxism? How can a student add physical objects to a response to the reading “The Secret to Good Writing?” It is just too vague to say that students should imagine the physical objects because although this may work in writing for elementary or middle school students, college writing often veers away from these simple topics. He seems to act as if students are writing about very simple topics. Also, it might be too difficult or time consuming to add physical objects to topics like these. In English 1101, students may be presented with topics that they can imagine, but once students take classes on theories, it becomes much more difficult to bring objects to help construct the essay. This characterization about writing students is too vague because it will become more difficult to relate objects to writing as students encounter more advanced topics.

Moreover, in theory, I think that Maguire’s idea seems logical; however, adding objects to abstract ideas to create content can often be very difficult in college essays. If a student is writing about an experience that they can imagine in their head, then it is easy to bring objects to the essay; however, often when writing college papers this is not the case. For example, as I am writing this blog post right now I am not able to imagine objects to formulate my ideas better; instead, I am thinking about a theoretical idea, so there is no possible way for me to add objects to my writing. I cannot add physical objects to make this blog post more descriptive; instead, I have to think about ideas–not objects–in response to Maguire’s “abstract idea” on student writing. Moreover, since many college essays are about theories, we can not bring physical objects to the essay. Sure, if I was writing about my experience that I had going to the grocery store yesterday, then I could imagine the physical objects and be more descriptive, but I am not and this is often the case with college writing. It is hard to put this theory to practice because it is not as easy to put objects to certain ideas that a student writer will write about in college.

Overall, I do not agree with Maguire’s characterization of writing students because I think that college writing is much more than Maguire suggests it is. I would not say that I am offended by this characterization because I think that he is right to some extent; however, all students learn in different ways and it would not work for all students across all disciplines. All students find truth in different ways, and Maguire’s idea of adding physical objects to help write papers is one way that can help a student; however, as all students find truth in different areas, there is no one way that can help writing students.

Syllabus Quiz


`1. What are the major projects? In a bulleted list, provide links to the project descriptions for each of them.

Link for all projects: http://materialwordss17.rswsandbox.net/about/#ProjectDescriptionsAnchor||OD3DAnchor|0||BlogAnchor|0

  • Blog (5 Posts)
  • Twitter Essays (2)
  • Object Description and 3D Model Draft (1)
  • Interactive Timeline (1)
  • Multi-modal Object Analysis (3 stages)

2. How will your final grade be calculated?

  • Class participation, attendance, and projects. There are points for each part and the will be added up at the end of the semester.

3. What happens if you don’t complete one of the major projects?

  • It will result in a grade of a C- or lower.

4. What is the “submission form” and how do you use it? Embed the form below your answer (hint: Google “embed Google form” to find out how).

  • It is used to turn in every assignment. You use it by filling out the information and clicking “submit.”

5. Embed the course calendar and weekly overview below this question.

  • http://materialwordss17.rswsandbox.net/about/#CourseCalendar

6. Where on the course website can you find an overview of the grading policy and major project deadlines?

  • Under the grade calculation tab under the syllabus and course info section.

7. What is the best way to see an overview of what’s due each week?

  • Looking at the course calendar.

8. What is the attendance policy?

  • You must come to every class. If you miss a class you should make an appointment with the professor to see what you missed. Also, you will lose 50 points for an unexcused absence and 25-50 points for being late.

9. What is the one way that you can lose points?

  • Not showing up to class

10. What are my office hours, and how do you make an appointment to see me outside of class?

  • M/W, 9-11 am and by appointment. Email the professor to make an appointment

11. How do you earn participation credit? Provide a link to the instructions/guidelines for participation.

  • By keeping up with class preparation and engaging in class. Link: http://materialwordss17.rswsandbox.net/about/#GenPartAnchor

12. How many points can you earn by participating in or organizing a study group session?

  • 20 points

13. How can you be assured of earning an “A” in this course?

  • By completing all major class projects, participation, and accrue 4.242 points

14. What are the minimum requirements for earning a passing grade of “C”?

  • If you complete and earn the minimum points for all of the major projects, complete all of the class prep, and attend every class

15. What do you do if you’re not sure how to document your participation in order to earn points?

  • Your points will be recorded on Google doc

16. Where do you find the prompts for the Blog project? What is the title of the Blog Post 1 prompt? Which group are you in for the Blog project?

  • You find the prompts under the “due dates” tab of the blog section. The title of the Blog Post 1 is “Writing and Material Culture.” I am in group 1.

Why We Need things Things-1/11/17

In our discussion today we talked about material culture and how we identify ourselves with thing. Brown talks about material possessions and how we bring significance because what the object brings us.  One thing that is very important to me is my travel diaries that I used throughout my trips in various countries. The item is very important to me because it contains what I wrote on certain days and reminds me of certain memories that I experienced that I would have otherwise forgotten about. The object functions in my life because they are around my room and even when I look at the cover of the book, it reminds my of the experience that I had with it. It is not only about what I wrote in the pages, but the memory of the physical object brings joy and reminds me about certain memories that I had with it. The item in itself only consists of paper, but the memories that I had carrying it around and writing in it every day make it one of my most important items.


Another one of my important possessions in my classical guitar. This item is very important to me because not only because I love to play guitar, but it was given to me as a gift that was passed down in my family. The guitar gives me a lot of joy when I associate it with the memories that I have had with it. Also, the sound that comes from the guitar is very rich and beautiful that creates beautiful music. Like we discussed in class, the guitar is one of many of the same models, but once I played it day after day it because my guitar rather than just another guitar made in a factory. To me, the memories behind things give them importance, rather than the monetary value of the possessions.