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Sam’s Hudson River Blues perfectly demonstrates the advantages of the screen over written text. Sweet guitar twangs accompany a beautifully blue photograph of the peer while Sam begins his piece, “Peering off the end of the peer, I find so much wonder, and wonder why no one is here.” The ability to set tone and to give a precise emotional imagery to a work is a unique value of the screen. Perhaps he could have added subtitles to the video, similar to a lyric video, but the current iteration is moving and gets its point across. This piece is simple, straightforward, and effective.

Melinda’s “No Online Presence” is an excellent example of clear, rational writing. I enjoy this piece because her train of thought throughout is easy to follow with examples and personal observations aplenty. The piece is also quite personal and has a stream of consciousness writing style, which gives it a simple yet effective pacing:

“What I learned from this experience: not every tweet gets attention. Some things are overlooked, and probably should be. Some things instigate and demand a response, but for the most part it’s just people putting their thoughts out there. I’ve also realized that I’m not a very good digital writer. One of the main reasons for this is that I’m not very concise.What I learned from this experience: not every tweet gets attention. Some things are overlooked, and probably should be. Some things instigate and demand a response, but for the most part it’s just people putting their thoughts out there. I’ve also realized that I’m not a very good digital writer. One of the main reasons for this is that I’m not very concise.” (From Melinda’s Piece)

Explanation upon previous sentences, going from a broad idea to more nuanced specificities is what makes this piece ideal for me as a reader. Easy to follow, interesting due to examples and personal engagement, variation of sentence structure and no awkward sentences (run ons/fragments/overuse of prepositional phrases).

This is the level of prose I strive to achieve. I find myself often making sentences too complex with weird prepositional phrases or ordering: Melinda thinks she may not be a good digital writer, but I am sure she is a great writer!

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Contextual Gymnastics

As I sometimes struggle to start writing a paper, or to study for an exam, I find that I have to do some mental somersaults. I jump through some hoops, procrastinate a bit more, and eventually I come out ready to write. I find the most effective way to convince myself to start assignments comes in thinking about their context.

We respond, for the most part, predictably to stimulus. Someone suddenly jumps out from an alley way at night: we recoil. We eat our favorite food: we feel content and delighted. What’s interesting is if we think a bit more about the context surrounding the stimulus, we can approach or perceive it in a radically different manner.

The beauty of this is:

  1. It’s completely personal. I don’t need someone else to confer with. But, it can also be useful to speak with others to see a bigger or more detailed picture.
  2. I can do things outside of my ‘cage’. I can think about things in a different light, I can validate myself in pursuing them. Conversely, I can scrutinize and decide to continue or cease actions.
  3. There are so many ways to think about context, and none of them are wrong!

When I approach a paper I might not enjoy, I think through contexts in which I might be  bubbling with enthusiasm to begin. I may think more big picture: it’s worth doing this to get a nice grade, which means more opportunity, more success in the future! I might think more short term: I can get this out of the way and then enjoy some free time! There are many paths to traverse.

The qualities of the paper may cause certain innate responses. I might see the 50 page length and think, wow, how incredibly demoralizing, what a major bummer. Never fear! There are benefits in recognizing the contextual aspects that influence my perceptions. I can skew my thinking to view the aspects in a manner that is the most beneficial for me. There are infinite possibilities in perception.

Imagine your favorite movie as a different genre. I picture La La Land as a horror movie. Would it suck? Would it be even better? That’s tough to say. But in thinking of it in a different context I can appreciate the aspects of it that work and don’t work for me. I can understand why I feel motivated to sing along to parts of it, or why I always cry at the end. In understanding context, I understand myself.

There is value in realizing that context can be shifted. The application of this realization  has changed my life. I once struggled through certain activities I didn’t want to do. Some might think, ‘That’s called growing up!” I’m suggesting that you can do more than force yourself to get through something: it is possible to find enjoyment and reason to do anything through a shift in how you perceive and react to context.

 

 

Side note reflection. I remediated from video to text: translating the ‘big picture,’ and less the exact images. I think this remediation is a bit different from the video in content, but it is ultimately still on the same topic and I think gets at the valuable meaning of this concept (for me, at least).

Concept In 60 Seconds

Scientist. Occasional Tweeter.

My Mom is a Ph.D chemist: when I discovered she would be taking some marketing classes at UD a few years ago I was perplexed: how could that be valuable for her or her company? As a child I didn’t have the faintest understanding of my parents’ work. I barely do now! So to find out how their education shapes their work is of great interest to me.
I was surprised from our conversation to learn that her job consists of a HUGE multitude of tasks. Twitter handling was a minute aspect of her overall work. But her experiences as a digital writer were interesting nonetheless.
1.What sort of challenges are you faced with when writing or creating content for Twitter?
  • Preparing ahead of time to be able to easily reference more deep content (a link to more information, for example) while tweeting from a conference for example. 
  • Taking time out from engaging in the content of events and tweeting.
  • Experience.
2.What does the Twitter process entail for you: is there someone else editing or checking your work?
I can tweet directly or send to someone who is in charge of our company’s twitter account. Generally though, one person handles it. The scientists at our company have been slow to engage with Twitter–they are focused more on the science, their main job–but they will on occasion provide some content. I have some background from my MBA (marketing concentration) in Twitter so have done more with it, but not that much.
3.What lets you know you are effectively using the digital space: do you look to other Business Twitter accounts for inspiration? Which ones?
I dont check other accounts with this goal in mind for my company in particular. It would be a good idea, however. 
4. Any other details you find interesting/noteworthy about the job?
Generally, I think it is a fun and interesting way to get information and stay in touch with what is trending and potentially identify new clients.
Overall my takeaway is:
#1. Twitter and social media handling is core for every business.
While the individual social side may have questionable effects, the power and reach that social media gives to businesses is undeniable.
#2. It seems ill advised to mix business and pleasure, at least on social media.
Using an alternate twitter or Facebook account for work seems like a great idea. I come to this realization as I am imagining some of the Twitter accounts I see now trying to tweet for a company handle…which seems unlikely to say the least.
#3. Effective tweeting is knowing your audience more than anything else.
The twitter accounts I looked at for a variety of companies had distinct tones/styles that matched their audiences interests. For example, video game handles responded frequently to followers with memes/gif reactions. Highbrow banks and corporate companies refrained from the dangers of interaction. News corporations posted material representative of the bias that their followers would jump to promote.
Know your role to achieve the best results.
This was a positive experience. I think its very enlightening to discuss how others perceive problems/solutions in digital writing and I know the next time I’m stuck on a piece/problem, I will won’t hesitate to look for a fresh perspective!

Warning! This Post Will Be Public! Will You Proceed?

Reddit is like the front page of the internet in a sense. The high volume of user traffic and user created/posted content means that I can see a pretty good picture of what people are discussing online. I can get links to news, entertainment, books, movies… and cute videos of cats!

I have been using reddit for a while: but not as a poster/contributor. I’ve never been one to put my ideas or myself ‘out there’, I’m not constantly updating my media feeds, or taking pictures of my food, or even using social media publicly at all. Facebook is useful to message and join organizational groups, but I’ve not really felt the social media ‘itch’ that seems to have grabbed most of the networked world.

I made a reddit account for this post. Instantly the lens that I am viewing the comments and content before me shifts dramatically. With the new potential ability to reply to user comments, I find myself reading much more carefully, and I feel people’s comments holding a heavier weight than before. Feeling that open channel of dialogue; feeling the potential for discussion heightened my attention and my participation. They wrote all of this out so well and people approved of them and I can do the same? Incredible!

A large part of why I refrained from joining internet posting sites like reddit: it honestly felt like it would be a fruitless endeavor. Sure, I’m online while I’m getting breakfast in the morning, but I’m not really there to interact or attempt to impact a gigantic conversation. It feels honestly impossible to have any sort of power or steering on reddit.  Some of the comments were one word responses to the post. Some were making jokes about other topics. A few comments were talking about some other post entirely.

My comment was not uprooted or touched: maybe someone read it, maybe they didn’t. Here is the comments section of the post, Ele4te is the account name so if you search that you can find the post in context.

Here is the text of my comment:

At what point did Fox leadership decide, “Maybe this isn’t the best PR for us”. They certainly took their time to make this decision. “Only 30 have come forward” “Keep him on this’ll all blow over” “31 now, sir” “Get him out of here! We can’t sustain this image!”

Ultimately this has made me realize that people feel empowered and pay closer attention to issues that they are able to discuss online. The need to give a public, online forum seems crucial for any business. Without online discussion it seems you’re simply at a disadvantage. Communication is a resource, and being able to post, comment, share, like, up-vote, and participate in the online dialogue may not always be impactful: but, it certainly is valuable. Why else would people do it?

 

Internet Etiquette: Put Down Your (Pitch) Fork

The differences in the discussions of Ronson and Boyd focus on different aspects of a larger problem. They contrast in their focus, however: they both write about a common issue. The internet is an almost unavoidable, all encompassing aspect of our society today. While perhaps not fully ingrained yet, based on its evolution over the course of the 21st century, within the span of a decade, social media has changed the world wide web from a fringe destination into a hotbed of social communication and forum.

Boyd sought to discover how social media and networks were affecting teens. Certainly my generation was trained in offline social behavior and real-life social situations, as were those before me. But to expect that we know how to act on this new plane of existence and to think the internet is anything more than a wild, lawless Serengeti is a stretch. Boyd discovered that teens found identity and social groups through social media: they could express and live parts of themselves through the online space that they were barred from doing offline: this is new explorable territory. But it isn’t like there was some in depth walkthrough of the technology and applications they were using. The internet has many hidden challenges and aspects that if more people considered, especially in terms of social media, they might find disturbing. Teens and the rest of us face the challenges of social media, many of which are in our face such as hiding private information from parents, as well as more nuanced concepts: understanding that future employers may be interested in our internet history or our tweets. Boyd warns that the internet and social media may be more troublesome and complex than we make it out to be.

“The issues of persistence, visibility, spreadability, and search-ability…fundamentally affect their experiences in networked publics. They must negotiate invisible audiences and the collapsing of contexts (Boyd 203).”

The internet and social media provide us with challenges similar to real life but with certain twists. Knowing when to speak, what to say, understanding who my audience is: these are common skills in social etiquette. But when on the internet, its a whole new ball game. I think most young people now are extraordinarily cautious of what they post on the internet. I myself have been hugely reluctant to bite on social media for many reasons, but notably for fear that I might ‘mess up’ and cause a problem. It honestly boggles my mind that spokespeople for certain companies, or people affiliated with spotlight job positions think they can use a media platform so freely. How can they not understand the outcomes of their words in their position that POTENTIALLY could be created (even if it is a ‘harmless’ joke/tweet/post). People need to understand the realities of the internet. Sure, ideally, people don’t take things out of context, or journalists don’t post snippets of tweets or posts to paint a defamatory picture of someone: but this will and DOES happen. Boyd focuses on the challenges of social media and how teens interact with their peers through this means of communication. But she still focuses very much on the problems of etiquette, similar to Ronson.

Ronson focuses his work on public shaming through digital media. He sees that the affordances and constraints of the internet allow for a skewing of context and information, and for a shaming that would be otherwise impossible in this society. This skewing creates the destruction of people’s lives as it did in the case of Justine Sacco. Even when context is correctly established, such as in the Lehrer case, he still sees Draconian like responses to individuals from the mouths of the masses. Ronson calls for the horde, the sweltering masses of angry, pitchfork and torch wielding conformists to find another means of expression.

“How come people can come together, often spontaneously, often without leadership, and act together in ideologically intelligible ways? If you can answer that, you get a long way toward understanding human sociality. That is why, instead of being an aberration, crowds are so important and so fascinating (Ronson 105).”

Both writers seem hopeful that someday we will reach as a collective society an understanding of proper internet etiquette. If real life is any indication of internet society there is definitely potential that we may eventually get it right: no more public shaming, people free to act, no misinterpretations of context. Civil rights development and even political development took and is still taking quite a while to develop: so do your best to make the web a better place but don’t be a lofty idealist.

Choose Your Medium Wisely

We use language and communication to express ideas. When interacting with others, context of the interaction determines the medium and method of communication. When I meet someone for the first time in the flesh, I don’t write out a greeting on a piece of paper and then hand it to the confused and concerned looking recipient. So when I consider whether video or written text is more appropriate, I consider how the affordances and constraints of each impact my ability to communicate effectively.

In some situations, written text is clearly appropriate such as in a formal communication with a business colleague. Video is strictly necessary for television shows: reading the script would not be as effective as watching. So which aspects of these two mediums determine their value?

Time

Written correspondence allows the reader to absorb information by choice: the reader can choose which words to read and the pace to read them. Video forces reader attention more strictly than writing. If I don’t have the option to pause the video, I am forced to take in information at a set pace which I might find too fast or too slow. But even having control of the video cannot be enough. Amanda makes sure that each paper she shows in her video has enough screen time to be read. But video can sometimes convey information to rapidly causing confusion or too slowly, causing boredom. Writing can have this issue as well, but it is easier to slow or hasten our consumption of writing than it is for video.

Expression

Video impacts a greater number of senses as it is both visual and auditory. The nature of the visuals is also different as instead of imagining what a character in a story looks like, I can see them clearly on my screen. If I write the lyrics to a song I will have no idea what the cadence, pronunciation, background music, or feel of the song is. If I watch a music video, I can perfectly understand all of these aspects. Video can clearly establish tone to the audience whereas writing can be more subjective. James’ video simply wouldn’t work in a written format as he uses visual comedy that only video can convey his message effectively to the audience. Sure he could write out a step by step guide, but that wouldn’t have the same emotional impact on the audience as say a shot of him eating Pringles while holding a heap of snacks. Video can create deeper expression through greater sensory communication.

Specificity and Imagination

If I look at a video of the Grand Canyon with someone, I have shared that sight with them. If I read the same novel as someone else, it is more likely that we will have differing conceptions of characters’ appearances or the way events in the book unfolded. Imagination in the reader leads to differing understanding: what the writer meant may not always get to the reader. A ‘how to’ explanation in written form is less specific than a video in that it can be more widely interpreted. I can imagine the physical process of how to get dressed in the morning based on a written explanation. But when I watch Isabella’s video on how she chooses what to wear, I can see the exact process she is describing and my impact as the audience in changing or altering her message through my imagination lessens. Video often offers greater specificity of information while writing leads to deeper imaginative process.

Choosing the medium varies by context. Writing is more useful in some circumstances, while in other cases video is the superior modality. Understanding the technical limitations and affordances of each medium helps us to decide the best way to communicate effectively.