Tuesday, December 8, 2009
- Central Idea: A well-written thesis like statement that demonstrates what I am trying to demonstrate to the reader with the presentation of my web portfolio as a whole.
> All of the artifacts included within my web portfolio are reflective of my growth as a writer operating in electronic enviornments. At the beginning of the semester I had little to no experience of skills writing in electronic enviornments, however each indivudal artifact included in this portfolio represents indivudal steps in the overall progression I have made over the semester as a writer in what once was a foreign and unfamilar writing enviornment to me. Very similar to the growth that characterizes any of the thousands of enviornments found in nature, my semester in this course can be best characterized by a pattern of consistent growth.
Project- Based Reflective Introductions:
For each of my individual reflective statements for each project or "artifact" included in my web portfolio, I plan to follow the same formula for each. By doing this I will be able to increase the cohesiveness and consistency of my entire web portfolio. For each project's reflective statement, I plan to do the following:
-Discuss how this project represents a step in my overall progression/growth as a writer in electronic enviornments. At this point I think I will be using the thematic concept of Enviornment/Growth as the backdrop for my entire portfolio, so it will be critically important for me to demonstrate how each individual project in my portfolio ties into and is reflective of this overarching concept.
- Discuss the struggles/ difficulties I encountered in each project
- What I learned specifically in each project
- The ways in which what I learned in each project will help me in the future
I plan to follow this structure for each of my projects individual relfective statement. Now that I have created what I believe to be a good, functional outline/format for my reflective statements, I plan to begin writing the drafts based upon these outlines, which will hopefully result in a set of cohesive and well-written reflective statements that serve the overall purpose of demonstrating my growth as a writer in electronic enviornments.
1) Enviornment/Nature/Growth Theme: Throughout this semester in my process blog and post writes I write alot about my growth as a writer in the electronic enviornment. This entire course is focused upon learning to write in a new enviornment which is gaining increasing significance in our society as a primary medium for all sorts of writing. I was thinking I could take this word/idea that this course is focused upon, enviornment, and make it the focal point of my web portfolios theme. By making enviornment/nature the theme of my web portfolio, this idea also connects to the idea of growth, as everything within any sort of enviornment is always growing. The growth that occurs within enviornments in nature can be easily compared/reflective of my own personal growth as a writer within the electronic enviornment.
2) Ecology Theme: This idea is somewhat similar to my first theme idea. Throughout the semester one of the main themes of our work was participating in information ecologies. I was thinking I could make Ecology the theme of my web portfolio. Perhaps I could also just tie the idea of ecology into my first theme idea of enviornment, as I feel I could combine these two themes into one, cohesive theme that focuses on a theme of ecology/enviornment/nature/growth as it relates to my progress as a writer over the semester.
3) The Concept of Struggle/Effort: As I have stated, one of the major recurring notions highlighted throughout my process blog posts and post writes is my continous struggle and effort to become a more skilled writer in electronic enviornments. Most all of my post writes and process blog posts discuss my lack of experience/knowledge/skills as an electronic writer, and how each project we have done in the class has gradually helped me improve my skills in this field. Furthermore, my enthusiast blog revolves around my personal, intense struggle to quit smoking cigarettes. As of right now I am unsure of how exactly I will portray the concept of a struggle thematically, I will continue to brainstorm about how I could do this.
Monday, December 7, 2009
2) Project # 2: Writing for Wikitravel: The second project I plan to revise is the Wikitravel project. For this project I wrote about the Back Bay region of Boston. I got really good feedback and earned a good grade on this project, but I believe I can improve it significantly through revision. One negative piece of feedback I received on this project was that my Before.doc did not include the Mark up. Right now I am confused as to how I will go about fixing this, but I plan to clarify this with Ms. Portman. While I earned a good grade on this project, I did not include any pictures despite the fact that I discussed many beautiful, breathtaking landmarks. I think by adding pictures I will bolster my Wikitravel page greatly. Finally, I will add some more posts and content to the site. I realized that I have a lot more to contribute with my extensive knowledge of the region.
In the latter half of the article, Kimball focuses explicitly on web portfolios. I anticipate that reviewing the content of this section of this chapter will be extremely helpful to me in the coming weeks as I prepare my own web portfolio. Kimball begins his discussion of web portfolios by introducing the elements that a typical web portfolio follows: A home page that introduces the web portfolio as a whole, a series of pages linked to the homepage that introduce and reflect on the individual artifacts within the portfolio, along with a series of digitized examples of the authors work. (Kimball 11) Kimball next moves on to discussing what constitutes a good web portfolio. He points to the successful practice of rhetoric as being key in the process of creating a good web portfolio: "To create successful portfolios,then, authors must practice rhetoric- the art of convincing someone about something" (Kimball 21). I liked hearing this, as I am a Writing and Rhetoric major. I hope to use this final project of creating a web portfolio as an opportunity to improve upon the skill set necessary to be a successful student within the Writing and Rhetoric major. Kimball goes on to state that in creating a good web portfolio, the author must use textual as well as visual components to be successful. Kimball highlights 3 primary rhetorical forms that are important in a good web portfolio: Textual, visual, and structural. The textual component of the web portfolio must use words to convince the given reader that the author has fulfilled the readers standards of quality. Good web portfolios also use text to introduce individual artifacts, and explain the context of them, and the process by which they were developed. Kimball also states that it is important for a web portfolio to include the authors own, honest opinion of the content of the portfolio. Finally, the portfolio should contain clear, concise, and professional writing throughout.
Next Kimball discusses how a good web portfolio is visually rhetorical as well. The visual presentation of the web portfolio should help the reader see the content better, not distract them from it. Kimball presents the following as key visual characteristics that should be employed by any author looking to craft a good web portfolio: - Subtlety - Consistency -Clear Navigation -Straight forward page layout - Legibility and Ease Of Reading -Thoughtful Use of Emphasis -Careful Use of Color
Finally Kimball states that a good web portfolio is structurally rhetorical as well, meaning that the manner in which the website is structure (linear, hierarchical) works to best serve the portfolios overall function, purpose, and appearance.
I thought this was a great chapter, and I know for a fact it is going to be helpful for me. Upon learning what our final project in the class was going to be, I was very nervous because it is the type of thing that is definitely my weakness. I am not good at website design, but after reading Kimball's article my confidence has been boosted. I think this chapter is going to be beyond helpful for me to look back to and essentially use as a guide/rubric in the process of creating my web portfolio.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
For these reasons, I was excited for this project. I recognize the power social networking sites have as a vehicle for social causes and social change, and I looked foward to using this project as an oppurtunity to learn how to successfully do this.
Next we were put into groups. Each group would choose their cause that would be the focal point of the groups Ning page. My group decided our cause would be scams of al sort. This was not one of my ideas that we had thought of on our own prior to the project, but I liked the idea as I agree that scams are a major problem in our society that millions of Americans fall victim to each year. At this point in the project I was looking foward to researching and learning about scams, and furthermore contributing to my groups page in ways that would be helpful for anyone looking to learn about and protect themselves against different scams.
The layout of Ning initially confused me, however the "Ning tutorial" that was posted on the Sakai page, as well as help from Ms. Portman helped me understand the way Ning works much better.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
2) Teenage Depression: This is closely related to me first issue, as clinical depression is the leading cause of teen suicide in the United States, and was the primary causal factor in the suicides of my two close friends.
3) Child Abuse
4) Domestic Abuse
5) The Sticker Policy in Narragansett Rhode Island/ Rights of Students: I strongly disagree with the tactics of the Narragansett police in the way they control and manage party prevention in Narragansett, especially with their Orange sticker policy, which I feel violates many basic, constitutional rights.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This is URI's main websites and probably one of my most commonly visited websites. I have always felt that for such a massive, complex site, it is extremely well organized and easy to use. Due to its size, I believe it employs the style of Combined Organizational Structure and it works very well. The site is very easy to naviage and also works well aesthetically.
2) A Website that needs Work: http://urisec.tripod.com/
This is the Website for University of Rhode Island's Student Entertainment Commitee. I think this website could definitely be better, especially because the SEC is such a great committee that brings so much great talent to URI. The website is simple and easy to naviagate, but is very tacky looking and is overall extremely aesthetically unpleasing. I think this site has potential but could use alot of improvement.
The first main concept introduced by Palmquest are the 4 primary characteristics of websites: Purpose, Audience, Design, and Style. As he expanded upon these four characteristics, he makes clear why each is critically important in creating a good, well-functioning website. I felt the best point that he made in this section was about Style and Audience, which I actually found to be interconnected ideas. He states that in designing your webpage your style "must reflect standards of the sponsoring organization and the characteristics of the target auidience. Voice and tone range from informal to formal." I felt this a valuable piece of information, as I feel that in designing a web page, the writer must always write in a style that is in complete coordination with their target audience at all times.
Next Palmquist discusses in detail the primary elements of digital design that set digital design documents apart from print documents. These key elements he lists are: -Links - Informational Flags -Pop-Up Windows -Digital Illustrations. I agreed with alot of what Palmquist was saying in his discussion of the function/proper usage of these four elements in web design. One point he made that I agree is a critically important component of any web page are pop-up windows. One of my biggest pet peeves web visiting a particular website is when I click on a link on the main page, and it navigates me away from the original page completly. I agree with Palmquist that Pop-up windows are important. I also agree with him that informational flags are extremely helpful too. I have always really liked websites that offer a preview of any parituclar part of the page by simply scrolling over it with the mouse. I feel this contributes to the overall efficency and ease of use of any website.
Next Palmquist discusses at length the three main organizational structures used in web design: 1)Liner, which is similar to a series of pages in a book 2)Hierarchal, where pages are linked together according to their hierarchy 3)Interlinked structure- Page is linked to most/all pages in the site. Palmquist makes a good point in stating that "each organizational pattern offers advantages for writers, depending on their specific purposes and their readers needs or interests." He also states that there is a fourth structure that is commonly used in web design, which is the Combined Organizational Stucture, which is essentially a combination of the first three structures mentioned. I feel that most major, complex websites employ this style.
What I found to be the best part of Palmquists article was the checklist at the very end. Here he essentially tied together everything he stated in his article and provides the reader with a clear-cut, easy to read checklist that outlines what are the essentials in creating a good,functional web site. I know for a fact that during project three my group and I will be referring to the checklist asd a guide.
Monday, October 12, 2009
As we begin our second class project of creating our own "WikiTravel" page, I believe that the WikiTravel Manual of Style is a critical, useful, and highly necessary resource that I know I will use as a guide for creating a properly formatted article that works in accordance with the overall governing principles of WikiTravel as a whole. While I found the Manual of Style to be incredibly useful in all of its facets, I picked three tips for the Manual that I find is particularly important for Wikitravel writers.
1) Structural Style: In this section of the manual, aspiring Wikitravel writers can learn the rules and guidelines that are in place for the overall structure of Wikitravel as a site and travel resource. While I found all the tips in this section to be useful and important, one section that I think is crucial for all writers looking to create a Wikitravel page to view before starting their project is the section of this part of the manual titled: "What is an article?" This section guides writers on how and when to start new articles, and what constitutes material/information/locations that should and should not have their own articles. This part of the manual begins by laying out the 2 "competing principles" that dictate when a subject deserves its own article:
1) Articles should be relatively self-sufficient so that travelers can print them out, put them in their back pocket, and use for traveling around.
2) At the same time, articles should not be so long that they're impossible to read, print, and use.
While these principles alone are too vague to educate an aspiring Wikitravel writer on what exactly deserves its own article, this section of the Manual continues to expand in further detail upon this matter, explaining clearly what does/should get its own article (Geographical units on the geographical hierarchy, ex: continents, cities, districts, etc.) and what does not/should not get its own article (Individual attractions).
I find that this section of the Manual is particularly important for Wikitravel writers to carefully read as it provides very important tips and guidelines for writers in the earliest stage of development of a Wikitravel page. In order to get started on the right foot in creating a page that works smoothly as part of Wikitravel as a whole, the tips provided in this section are very important.
2) Formatting Style>Use of External Links: The "Formatting Style" is the next major section of the Wikitravel Manual of Style. This section provides a multitude of important tips concerning rules/guidelines in place for laying our and creating individual articles. This section provides the process through which Wikitravel works to take information and put it in a format that is readable and easy to use. One tip of this section that I found to be important for Wikitravel writers is the section that works to inform writers on appropriate and sensible usage of external links, and how/when they should be used. This part of the manual states, "In general the Wikitravel policy is that external links should be kept to a bare minimum, and only links to primary sources should be used." I think this is an important tip because Wikitravel writers who were not familiar with the Wikitravel policy towards external links may be inclined to use lots of external links, which they may think will bolster the quality of their page as a travel guide. In fact, this is far from the truth, and it is important for Wikitravel writers to know that anything more than minimal usage of external links (to primary sources strictly) is discouraged within the realm of Wikitravel as a whole.
3) Writing Style> "Don’t Tout": The third major section of the Wikitravel Manual of Style is comprised of a plethora of information/guidelines concerning the intended Writing style that Wikitravel writers should aim to practice. One tip from this section that I found to be important is the idea that Wikitravel writers should avoid "touting" their location they are writing about in describing/discussing it. By this Wikitravel means that in writing about a given place, writers should avoid being an "advertising brochure." The tone of the writing should reflect this. More specifically, this section states that writers should 'Try to avoid language that urges or pushes the traveler to do this or that. Instead, give the traveler the information they need to decide on their own."
I found this to be a particularly important tip because I know without reading this, I would have definitely written about my place (Back Bay Boston) in a tone that indicates how much I like this place, and even if I did not intend on it, I would have "touted" Back Bay in my writing to some degree. This policy of strictly informative writing is in accordance with the policy of writing for Wikipedia, which aims for complete neutrality and a continuous striving for an unbiased tone throughout the website.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Next came the Peer Workshop in class on Monday, where we were to have ready a polished, essentially final draft of our blog, complete with our four example posts. Here I received more positive commentary on my blog, and some more minor tips that were helpful. Basically my group mates said they liked my blog, found it interesting, and that it just needed a bunch of grammatical work, which I fixed for my final draft of my blog.
With the aesthetic design of my blog, I decided to just keep it simple. I added pictures that I felt would add to my blog and relate well to the content, but I tried to keep it relativley simple. I didn't want to overwhelm the reader with the aesthetic appearance.
I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating an enthusiast blog. It was fun, interesting, and a great learning experience. As the explosion of technology in our society continues, our society will become increasingly viewed through the electronic medium. Due to this drastic shift, I feel it is definitely important for me to become familiar with how to use things like blogs and other methods of electronic communication that are beginning to dominate our culture. I see this project of creating an enthusiast blog as a valuable learning experience that has enlightened me to the world of blogging.
As I prepared to author my first post, I considered who my target audience would be with this blog, and how I should tailor my blog accordingly. I wanted to make my blog interesting to all people; smokers, non-smokers, and in particular people who have or are trying to quit smoking. Based upon this broad target audience, I decided that the content of my blog would be a combination of information/material. I would document my own personal struggle with quitting, detailing the methods I was trying, how they were working, etc. Hopefully this documentation of my struggle would be interesting to people, but it would also provide structure and continuity to my blog. My posts and their content were to be based on my day-to-day experience in quitting.
I also decided that with my blog I could create sort of a resource center or reference for other people trying to quit. I felt that if my blog simply recounted my own daily efforts to quit, it may be kind of boring and wouldn't be very useful. I decided that in addition to documentation of my process of quitting, I would post detailed information about the options that exist for people trying to quit smoking. This way, not only would my blog detail my effort, it could potentially be useful for an audience of people who share my struggle and goal to ditch nicotine.
I feel my blog reflects this "two-pronged" function. It contains both details of my efforts to quit, and I also feel it is extremely factual and informational concerning the function, effectivness, and worth of quit-smoking options that exist. If my blog were to exceed 4 posts, it would continue to be presented in this manner: a combination of a documentation of my efforts, along with researched, scientifically-based information. Furthermore, in authoring my blog I aimed for a writing style that is clever, funny, interesting, and not too dry. I also included pictures that I found to be funny and sensical in relation to the content.
After creating a "rough draft," of our blogs, which featured our title, description, and About Me, it was time to enter the revision, fine-tuning, and completion phase of creating an Enthusiast Blog.
Before we began crafting our enthusiast blogs, we read the article by Stefenac which served as an introduction to clubhouse/enthusiast blogs and how they work, what they are all about, and the critical components that make up a successful enthusiast blog. In the article Stefenac stated that the true success of an enthusiast blog comes with the passion the writer feels for their particular topic: "They are authored by individuals with an honest love of their topics and who take delight in cultivating both their topic areas and their audiences." The article also included excerpts from a real enthusiast blog written by Mr. Jalopy. This article was extremely helpful in familiarizing me with enthusiast blogs, and it really gave me a good feel for how they work and began to give me ideas for what I wanted to do with my blog. Reading and analyzing Stefenac's article laid the foundation for the process of creating my own enthusiast blog.
The next step was brainstorming a potential topic for my enthusiast blog. I knew that I needed my focus to be something that I felt passionantley about and would be a topic through which I could convey certain aspects of my personality to my audience. My initial five topics I came up with as potential topics did not actually include the topic I settled on. Around the same time as this brainstorming process was going on, I was undergoing my own personal struggle: quitting smoking. Just as it was coming time to settle on a topic for our blogs, I decided that quitting smoking could be the perfect topic for my clubhouse blog. My desire to quit smoking was something I felt passionatley about, and by documenting my struggle I felt I could portray my personality to my audience.
I concluded that quitting smoking would be the focus of my enthusiast blog. Now that I had taken this first major step of picking a topic for my blog, it was time to begin constructing my enthusiast blog.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Topic: I have decided that the topic of my enthusiast blog will be quitting smoking cigarettes. While this was not one of my original topic ideas from my first brainstorm, I think this will be a good topic for my blog that will also be interesting and helpful for me personally. I feel that this topic is specific enough, but not too specific.
Audience: I am honestly not sure what type of audience I would like to attract. I intend for this to hopefully be a blog that will be interesting for anyone to read, although I think it may be difficult to intrigue non-smokers to reading a blog about quitting smoking. Perhaps my primary audience will be people who can sympathize with my struggle and who share a similar enthusiasm and determination as myself towards quitting, this would seem to make the most sense.
Personality: Quitting smoking cigarettes is a process I have struggled with for almost a year now. I have made serious, concentrated efforts towards kicking the habit but have repeatedly relapsed. I truly want to quit smoking. It is a dirty habit that will have very serious, even possibly deadly, health consequences if I continue. But it is extremely difficult as nicotine is crippling in its addictive nature. Smoking is not only physically addicting, but it is habitually addicting as well. While I am still deciding on how exactly my blog is going to be arranged and formatted, I intend for my enthusiast blog to focus on the options that exist out there for people to quit smoking. Furthermore, I hope to include informational articles on this as well as on the extreme negative consequences that come with the habit of smoking cigarettes as well as updates on my own personal struggle with quitting, and details of the various methods I am employing.
Possible Titles: -Up In Smoke –Quitting Smoking –Beating Addiction –Smoking Addiction –No More Butts
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
2. The City of Boston: I have lived in the city of Boston my entire life, and I love the city. Perhaps I could focus my enthusiast blog on some aspect of the city.
3. Food- I love to eat. All kinds of food.
The interview with Mr. Jalopy was a fascinating look into the world of an enthusiastic enthusiast blogger. He fully illustrates what it means to be a blogger and how you must go about this to be successful. I also liked what he said about why he prefers blogging to more traditional forms of print, media writing: "There is a big responsibility to be accurate with the facts in print media. If for no other reason, it is difficult to revise once the magazine is on the newstand. When I am writing for Hooptyrides, I am writing for my buddies. Fast and loose, peppered with dirty words and outrageous statements." Here Mr. Jalopy highlights what I truly see to be the biggest advantage of blogging: the oppurtunity to offer your unbridled, uncensored opinions on anything; an oppurunity most mainstream media outlets lack.
Before this class, I was very skeptical about the world of blogging and honestly thought blogging was kind of stupid. However now after reading Blood and Stefenac's pieces on blogging, I admit I am beginning to see increasingly the positive and useful aspects of blogging. I think this piece by Stefenac in particular will be extremely helpful in my creation of my own enthusiast blog.
Monday, September 14, 2009
As a reader, I also do not have very much experience with blogs. I believe that I definitely use the internet less than the average person my age. While I check Facebook regularly, aside from this and school purposes, I do not spend very much time browsing the web. I suppose my only real experience as a blog reader is the occasional browsing through one of my favorite websites "barstoolsports.com." This website is a Filter-style weblog, authored by one man from my hometown of Boston who refers to himself as "El Presidente." On this site he posts a broad range of material: Funny Youtube videos, ridiculous news stories, Boston sports stories etc. In conjunction with all of the material he posts, 'El presidente" offers his own, often hilarious, often ridiculous opinions. My reading of this blog is more for mere entertainment and comedy purposes, not for the absorption of any real, useful information.
I hope that during this course, I will become increasingly enlightened in the world of blogging, perhaps even leading to an increase in my activity as a blogger.
Blood's article provided a detailed account of the evolution of web logs. In concurrence with the rapid explosion of technology that has occurred in the past decade, the development of blogs was rapid. As Blood points out, in 1999, there were just 23 known blogs in existence. By September of 2000, there were thousands of them. As I stated before, the popularity of blogs is something that has always baffled me. Blood's article however, allowed me to understand a bit the function and attractiveness that blogging possesses. Throughout her article, Blood points out how blogs allow the public to be active participants in the daily media. Before the internet, the public received their media through a limited number of mainstream outlets, controlled by larger, corporate America. Blood's article pointed out to me the fact that the increasing prevalence and significance of blogging in the past decade has created a whole new element to mainstream news in our country, and the sources from which the public absorbs news. "Web log editiors participate in the dissemination and interpretation of the news that is fed to us every day. Their sarcasm and fearless commentary reminds us to question the vested interests of our sources of information and the expertise of individual reporters as the file news stories about subjects they may not fully understand" (Blood). Here I feel Blood best illustrates the main power the bloggers possess: The ability to provide thousands of alternative viewpoints and opinions to the mainstream outlets of the media that has fed our society essentially up until the creation of the internet. Furthermore, Blood points out how blogs have created an oppurunity for thousands to become active participants in our country's media. Blogs have made the dissention of information in our country to be an interactive process, and empowered everyday Americans to put their own spin on the world they see around them.
While Blood provided ample support for the benefits of blogging, she also illustrated the potential downsides of blogging. I believe that many people, like myself, feel a certain hesitiation or uneasyness about diving into the world of blogging. "But the average reader, hopefully clicking through to the Eatonweb portal, found herself faced with an alphabetical list of a thousand weblogs. Not knowing where to begin, she quickly retrated back to ABCnews.com" (Blood). here, Blood perfectly depicts my hesitance towards relying/using blogs as a regular source of information, and my continued reliance and trust in mainstream news outlets such as ABCnews.com. While I do understand that SOME blogs may be accurate, useful, and intelligent, I f eel the overwhelming ammount of blogs on the internet are mindless, useless, and more concerned with the viewpoint of the particular author, a viewpoint that I believe may often be more narrow-minded than traditional news outlets. Furthermore, the world of blogs is an overwhelming one. Its size and confusing nature alone is enough to steer me away. Furthermore, Blood points out the corporate power will always reign supreme over the media, and assure that the true power and significance of bloggers remains minute in comparison to major corporate media powers.
As a person with very little knowledge about the practice of blogging, Rebecca Blood's article was enlightening and interesting. It not only provided me with detailed information concerning the historical evolution of blogs, but also pointed out the pros and cons that come with blogs.