My Favorites

Over the course of this semester, I have really enjoyed reading all of the different posts by so many different types of people. I have also found it really interesting seeing people work with mediums other than the written word.

The post that I admire for its quality of the prose is Sara Reuschling’s piece called Information Overload. My favorite part of her response was: “In that sense, I have multiple faucets running but I still choose which faucets to fill my thimble and later bathtub”(Sara’s piece). Earlier in the response, she quotes Carr who uses that metaphor. I really enjoyed how she used Carr’s own words and spun them for her argument. When I read this response and especially that specific line of Sara’s piece I thought it was very clever, and it definitely stuck with me.

The post that I admire for how the writer has moved beyond writing is Ellie’s remediation. Ellie took a very personal poem and turned it into a video. The power of the words in her poem spoke for themselves, but I thought the way that she edited the video was very impressive and impactful. She used found videos with a voiceover to convey her poem. I thought the choice to not have music in the background was very important and allowed her voice to really stand out. Overall, with the use of video, Ellie made her poem have a much greater impact and really resonate with the audience.

 

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Favorites

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!

Remediation: Unity

As I stated in my Concept in 60 Video, unity has always been a very interesting concept to me. It has managed to be a driving force throughout every generation and is extremely powerful. It seems as though that every generation has had a movement that has created an immense amount of unity. For example, civil rights, gay rights, and women’s rights. These movements all started a long time ago, but continue to be a prevalent part of our society. I have watched in my lifetime as these movements brought together millions of people. Unity is extremely powerful, and with that carries the power to create disunity. It’s no secret that this country is very disunited right now. It is easy to see this lack of unity when people come together for things like the women’s march. The opposition is made clear, and a solid divide between the two ideologies is put in place. When people unite together for a cause, they are often alienating themselves from another large group of people. That is why this concept of unity is very confusing for me. I don’t see how there could ever be such thing as unity. Unity really only means disunity and vice-versa.

I think that these causes are still really important to fight for but there needs to be an understanding about what is being created. Unity has the power to bring together millions of people but it also has the power to disunite millions of people. However, disunity is necessary. Conflicting viewpoints are needed in order to point out flaws in each other’s thinking. I think the media plays a large role in creating disunity among people. On news channels like CNN, they bring in people with completely opposing thinking and have them basically yell at each other for hours. This type of show is highlighting the lack of unity that we have and isn’t trying to facilitate productive conversations. The new problem that we face is being open to other people’s views. There are certain movements I strongly support, like the three listed above, but with each of those movements comes opposition and in order to understand each other we need to have thoughtful and productive conversations. The 60-second video I made briefly explaining my thoughts on this subject can be here.

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

A New Digital Writer

The person I have chosen to write about is my sister, Elaina Strong, who is fairly new to the idea of “digital writer” as she has recently started a new public Instagram account under the name “minimalistwithkids” where she posts pictures of her minimalistic lifestyle with 3 children as well as a score of DIY crafts, chemical free products, eco friendly habits and gardening and nature hobbies. I thought she would be interesting to interview considering how she created this account about 3 weeks ago and has already seen an influx of followers from people who share her interests. It’s unique to see the difference between her usage of her private Instagram account and her new public one and how it has influenced her as a new digital writer.

I start by asking her what inspired her to create this new, minimalist account:

Elaina: “Honestly, I’m a stay at home mom. Everything I do is for my kids and I’m also a minimalist, I needed something for myself. I do a lot of DIY and crafts, I know a lot about de-cluttering and simplifying your life and I wanted to broadcast, not necessarily my ways, but show people how I live and how simplifying helps you live a happier life.”

So this simplistic lifestyle, this is the story and the message that you want this account to emphasize to your followers?

Elaina: “Yes, I actually, I have a lot of nature on my account. I take the kids on a lot of nature walks, I try to teach people that being outside is good for your health and your body and to also be very eco-friendly.”

Would you say that, compared to your private account, you take more time to plan these pictures or to choose what to post or what to say?

Elaina: “Absolutely, I do take more time to plan out what I’m going to post to write about it, some of the posts take a lot of thought and time, sometimes they, you know, are DIY, they’re crafting. I teach people how to make things like deodorant, and I’m actually coming up with a post on how to make a lice spray. I have children in preschool and elementary school and sometimes we get letters that lice has gone around, so I’ve made a lice repellant with essential oils.”

So, how do you think your use of hash tags has changed since you started this account and what kind of response have you experienced because of it?

Elaina: “I’ve become more detailed with my hash tags. I have to think of everything so that I get more views, I usually go a little crazy with the hash tags and if I use more hash tags I actually get a lot more people looking at my Instagram page.”

I took this time to notice that she has received comments on several of her pictures by Instagram users with similar public accounts, some of whom have thousands of followers. I asked Elaina how this kind of reaction effected her

Elaina: “A lot of them are moms, and I feel a huge support network. We’re all moms or we’re all minimalists or, you know, zero waste or eco friendly users so I feel a huge support.  I feel like I’ve got so many people backing me up and I’m backing up a lot of people and we all have bad days, you know, we try to build each other up. Bad days with the kids or bad days just in general or someone just forgot their coffee, we’re cheering people on so they can make it through the rest of their day.”

My last question for her was then: What would you do differently to relate this story through other mediums if you had chosen something other than Instagram, like an online blog or twitter of Facebook?

Elaina: “Yeah, I think I would have a blog, but I think a blog is a lot of work so that’s why I felt an Instagram was a little easier for me. I feel like, with a blog I would be sitting in front of the computer a lot and would be typing a lot and I wouldn’t have a lot of time. Instagram is a lot easier for me. I snap a picture and I type it up real quick and I use the hash tags and people see it a lot easier. Also moms are super busy, I personally don’t have a lot of time to read blogs, but I do have time to read a quick little Instagram paragraph.”

Here are some examples from her Instagram

Expression Through Instagram

I decided to interview and profile my best friend Francheska Kola. She contributes to digital media through her Instagram profile. I have always enjoyed her Instagram and thought she would be an interesting person to profile since she isn’t the typical idea of a digital writer. She has been active on Instagram since 2012 and has posted 233 photos. Throughout the many years I’ve known her, I know how much effort she puts into her Instagram and I thought it would be interesting to ask her some questions about it.

What is the purpose of your Instagram? Do you think you are able to express yourself through your Instagram?

 Francheska: The purpose of my Instagram is to express myself in a way that I want people to see me. I think that I express myself in my best form, and that also might not be my truest form. Instagram is like an art portfolio where you show your best work. I obviously only post good pictures of myself because I want people to see me when I look good rather than when I look bad, and when I’m doing fun things rather than doing nothing. I think Instagram is a good way to highlight the good parts of your life and good experiences such as going on vacation and being with friends and family.

What goes into posting a photo? What is your process?

 Francheska: If it’s a scenery then I will usually take a few pictures and then edit it, make it clearer, change the coloring, and sometimes put on a filter. I’m not really that into filters. I’m more into adjusting the contrast, brightness, and sharpness. If it’s a picture of me with people, then usually that’s just a one take thing. Sometimes it is candid, sometimes it’s not. If it’s a picture of just me usually there’s a bigger process because I will take a few and then pick my favorite one, edit it, and post it. Over the years of being on Instagram, I realized that timing is important and depending on the time of day you will get more likes or fewer likes. I tend to post a picture later in the day around 9 pm or 10 pm which will get more likes than a picture posted at noon.

How do you choose which photos to post?

 Francheska: It depends on what the picture is. If it’s a picture of me, the angle is important. Specifically, for sceneries, I usually post them in landscape. The lighting is very important with all photos.

There are some unwritten rules pertaining to Instagram. What do you think of them and are you conscious of them?

 Francheska: I usually am conscious of them. I try to evenly spread out how many scenery or object photos I post versus how many pictures of myself that I post. Looking at my Instagram now, sometimes I don’t follow that rule, but I personally think your Instagram as a whole looks better if you break it up. I also don’t ever post two black and white photos in a row.

How much do you normally edit your photos? Why do you edit your photos?

 Francheska: Sometimes a picture will just come out really well and not need that much editing. With a picture that I want to get a lot of likes on and I want to be perfect, I like it to look a certain way. I feel like it all depends on the picture. If I think I look good in it, I won’t edit it that much. If I like the picture, but I don’t like the way I look in it, I’ll edit it and then post it. I also think it’s fun and I enjoy the process of editing pictures. I think I spend more time than the average person editing photos.

Do you think your Instagram does a good job representing who you are?

 Francheska: Over the years, I just post whatever I want and I don’t really care what other people think. I feel like it’s a good representation of random things that I do, how I look, and the friends that I have. It’s nice to have a platform where you can document interesting things, and then either you or other people can look back on it. I consider my Instagram a display of art that I have created through photography.

 

 

 

 

 

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!