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Blogging this semester has been a strange experience. Not only have I had to keep one for this class, but I’ve also had to keep one for my Intro to Tech Communications class. So going from never having blogged or anything before to trying to remember to keep two separate blogs has been strange to say the least. I have a terrible memory to start with, so this really didn’t help my case.

When I first started blogging, I’m not sure I completely got what blogging entailed. I started off blogging as more of a personal soap box than anything else. I didn’t do much with it aside from just talk about a single topic. Then again that may have been the nature of the topics that we started with. They were more focused on just describing something we had read or whatever. Even with our open post, I just kind of talked about whatever I wanted to with no regard for the audience that blogging opened me up to. In my later post I started taking more of the audience into account. I started talking about things that not only I cared about, but also what I thought others would want to talk about or at the very least interest them enough to read it at the time, even if they weren’t going to comment on my post about it. The first post I noticed this in would be my post about the supposed ‘Bacon Shortage’. I knew it was a topic that people may find funny and want to comment on. Most of my topics from that time forward had a fair amount of comments on them since I started talking about stuff I thought people would care about.

One post that surprised me with the amount of attention that it had gotten was my post of “Is Youtube Becoming Internet TV?”. The article I had read talked about Youtube securing deals with specific channels. The idea behind this was that these channels would post their content on a set schedule in the hopes that people would then come to Youtube at those times to view the content, almost like they would a standard television channel. The content would still be available afterwards, but they wanted to see if it was possible to get people to show up to Youtube at certain times to watch the content. This article fell into a special interest to me. I’m a big fan of podcasting and some internet television stations already. I’ve been viewing a lot of them since I was in high school. Most had started out as just guys talking about a subject that they were passionate about and going. I always like some of those shows because it was less about the station they were on or anything but their show and their field of interest. I wasn’t that surprised that it was one of my less commented on open post, but it was something I wanted to talk about.

Throughout the semester I have found myself subscribing more and more to not only sites and news sources talking about Digital Humanities things, but also things that just talk about technology in general. I always subscribed to a few just to read whenever I would have the time throughout the week, but thanks to the post in this class I made time to read the ones that interested me in order to make my post. While looking at these I found myself more intrigued by the technology post. I hadn’t realized how often they can fall into line with the Digital Humanities disciplines and how often I can make them fit into the blog post. I liked reading a lot more of all the human interest pieces. They tended to focus more on the Digital Humanities disciplines and how people were dealing with the technology or whatever the post happened to be talking about. So now I’ve subscribed and read a lot more about the disciplines, and I tell myself that it’s for class even when I’ve already made my post for the week. Things like Digital Humanities Now and CNN’s Technology RSS feeds have worked their way into my regular weekly readings now.

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As many have said before me, the semester is coming to an abrupt end.  This is the time of the year that the Christmas music is playing in every department store and the colors of red and green side the streets. This also means, finals. As finals quickly approach, so does reflecting on my past four months in English 335 and telling about everything that I learned for the good as well as the bad. Throughout the past four months I have been blogging every Friday about current events that the class would talk about with one another as well as something relevant that was from my own personal thoughts. As all of this seems like fun and games, it was really helping me keep involved with new things going on around the world everyday by reading something I wouldn’t normally read.

When it comes to blogging, I wasn’t a big fan going into the whole idea. When I took ENGL 121 my first freshman semester we did a lot of blogging and when we were told that we would be doing it for 335 as well I was not to thrilled. However, this class took blogging a different direction and we were given more direction from the professor. Blogging has changed my writing in more ways than I realized. When it comes to my writing before blogging, I would write in very detailed ways. I wrote in such ways that would bore a blog reader and make them probably not want to read again. As I read other students work I knew where to take my writing styles from. I wrote my first blog post for this class about blogging! Surprise I know! I realize now that I wrote way more than I had to and what I wrote did not have much strength to it. Now when I look at my blogs I realize that I have more body to what I’m saying. For example one of my first posts was written like this, “I did however find it quite difficult to write a blog once a week because I’m not the kind of person who likes to tell people about my life and experiences.” 09/12/12. That post makes me sound very rude and to outside viewers who don’t know me, may think that I am stuck up and stuck on myself. Which is not how I am. As for improvements one of my latest posts looked like this, “This past week I was able to learn the differences between a good and bad webpage!” 11/29/12. I found out that as the semester went on I kept my sentences more choppy and shorty keeping a blog reader more interested.

            Currently I am in ENGL 125 and for our final paper we need to pick any topic we wish and, well, write about it. My topic is, “Is texting hurting younger generation’s grammar?” Why I mention this is because I feel like what I have done in ENGL 335 has helped guide me to this question. Question number five asks about how writing this semester has affected life beyond school and I think that with having 10 people blog each Friday about something going on in the world has opened my mind to what really is going on. For example, there was an article that I read that talked about only 8% of people use Twitter in the world, when here I thought it was only I who didn’t use it! When it comes to writing with this class and the outside world, I text and use Facebook. This class shows me that I keep my texting and Facebooking posts crisp and to a point. I don’t venture off onto something that doesn’t need to be talked about. I understand that Facebook is much different than writing a paper, but I feel like this class has helped me understand writing.

            Feedback: the negative stuff no one likes to hear! One way that another student’s feedback has helped me is on October 21st I posted that Mean Girls politics meme. It was said that I need to give credit to the person I got it from and I realized after I read that I should have and that from now I should quote where it is from. I mean, I know this however I realize that I should for everything that I post so I don’t get in trouble in the long run. My classmates all did a great job posting throughout this class, and I am happy to say that I was taught so much from reading everything I read. 

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The first day of Digital Humanities for me was actually the fourth day for everyone else in the class. Early this year I questioned my (Business) major, and in a frantic rush, before the add/drop period expired, I switched my entire major without very much research at all into what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even know what a blog was at the beginning of the semester and I was very afraid of the learning curve I thought I would be experiencing. To my surprise, it seemed everyone else knew very little about Digital Humanities and I wasn’t the only one in the boat. I was quickly brought up to pace and after a semester of playing in the blogosphere while trying to find my path through what DH really is, my decisions on this major were definitely solidified. Blogging has influenced the way I write as well as how I analyze everything on the web, ranging from my own posts to unique info graphics.

The medium of blogs has taught me a lot about both writing and analysis. The way I see blogs, they are both informal and formal at the same time. What I mean by informal is that that blogs are more of a casual atmosphere where personal statements and phrases such as, to quote myself, “I loved that line” can be written. I think blogs are a much more opinionated place to express oneself. On the contrary to this, however, is the fact that there are very professional blogs out there. Blogs can be used to reach an interminably large audience so professionalism should always be considered in the back of the author’s mind. It would not be a credible post if the author used language and internet slang such as “lol” or letters like “u” to represent the whole word “you.”

The weekly blog posts, both in this class and my personal blog created for English 121, has really encouraged me to be active and engaged with the habit of consistently reading and publicly reflecting. When reading a piece, whether it be another student’s or a professional’s, critical thoughts and possible responses often run through my mind. Blogging has encouraged me to write organized, thought out, and structured responses. The fact that I know other people will see my written work almost obliges me to write in a manner that is clear, concise, and logical. Blog responses, I believe, have significantly increased the level with which I am engaged in another’s writing. I’m coerced to find the strengths, weaknesses, arguments, and counter-arguments within any given piece. To accompany increased engagement with material, a common theme enforces depth of development.

For this class, we studied Digital Humanities and so consequentially every weekly post forced us to delve a little bit deeper or in a slightly different direction of the Digital Humanities field itself. Another example of repeated theme is within my personal blog, centered on “good ideas.” The common theme forced me to discover and learn new things happening around the planet that are good ideas. To illustrate this further, I turn to my open posts within the Digital Humanities class.

In one of my open, free choice blog posts I discussed World of Warcraft, a virtual world. This open post was reflective to class content and the result of the post enriched my own (and hopefully my classmates’) understanding of the significance of virtual worlds by utilizing an info graphic. I also wrote a small personal blurb about why I chose to do this type of research as well as arrive at some of my own surprising conclusions saying, “never before have I considered WoW (World of Warcraft) as a topic of scholarly study!” I went on in the following week to continue my interest in virtual worlds and point my fellow classmates to another interesting article that I found. The open posts really broadened our conception as a class to the varieties of topics that Digital Humanities can cover.

Despite the fact that the semester is coming to a close, I have no intentions to stop blogging. I plan to continue writing a weekly blog post in my personal blog, and expect to become a stronger writer as a result. I want to be able to look back at older posts and see a literal post-to-post increase in the quality of my writing. Over this past semester I have learned that an active and consistent engagement with writing has broadened the way I analyze the world itself. I’m attempting to adopt the mindset of digital humanist as I look at and discover how technology is playing a role on our society in a very fundamental way. Hopefully the future will see me learning about and discovering new ways in which technology can be implemented in modern society and sharing these conceptions with others via refined written skills. 

And, in light of the medium of writing that is the blogosphere… 

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As the end of the semester approaches, it is time to reflect on all the things I have learned in this course and try to reiterate and take it all in one last time before finals arrive, brain turns to mush, and I continue on with other DH courses. Throughout this course, I have been blogging twice a week.  Once about Digital Humanities and and how it relates scholarly work and to my interests: fitness, social media, pop culture, and coffee.  The open posts  (about my interests) on each virtual Friday (and the means of communication—blogging) helped to improve my knowledge of blogging, public writing, and the connection between writing and my life.

Before taking this class, I had never blogged before.  I had read blogs from friends, explored Tumblr, and Pinterest.   Although these blogs are more visually focused and do not pertain much to the writing focus in my education, it helped to build a foundation of what comprises blogging.  When I began blogging for this class, I felt like I was just writing a paragraph to cover a topic for class; however, as the semester progressed, I felt that my writing/blogging became more personal and I was writing with a specific purpose for an intended audience.   As I began to write with more purpose for my audience, I also tried to communicate my thoughts in very simplistic forms.  Since my writing was going to be placed in a public setting, I became more aware that the people reading it might not have background information on the field or topic that I wrote about.  For example, I am very passionate about fitness and always search the Internet for new workouts; within the last year I have become interested in Tone It Up (TIU).   In this post, I talked about how TIU is a DH fitness company, but before I could explain how it all connected, I needed to briefly describe the company.  Being able to understand the importance and when to use this explanatory, simplistic type of writing has been crucial for me to understand because in future careers I will need to be able to relay difficult, lengthy information into content that is applicable to a general audience.

Aside from focusing on the purpose and audience of my writing, I have also seen improvements in the creativity in my writing.  I’ve noticed that I pay more attention to my audience and try to incorporate more first person experience in my writing because I can tell that it draws more students in and makes them want to comments on my posts. Towards the middle of the semester, I tried to pick topics that were interesting and exciting for me to research.  Choosing topics on my open posts that related to Facebook, Twitter, coffee, fitness, and pop culture were not only interesting for me to research, but it also grabbed the attention of my fellow students and I could tell that more students were commenting on these posts.  My post from last week had a lot of comments—I think it had so many comments because it combined social media and coffee into one big, visual infographic.  Since these topics were interesting for me to read and I could easily relate to them, it made it much easier for me to incorporate the creative writing; these are topics that I am passionate about and interested in.  They make me excited to learn, which is then reflected in my writing.

As I continue to write about these topics that interest me, I think I have gotten much closer to deciding what I would like to do after I graduate.  I’ve been debating between social media marketing, public relations, and multimedia production.  The open posts on Friday helped to show me what I am most passionate about—fitness.  I think I would like my future work to encompass something fitness related.  I’ve found that it is the topic that I enjoy writing about the most and I genuinely enjoy learning about fitness related topics and interacting with people—it seems to be the perfect fit.  Being able to write freely for the Friday open posts really helped to clarify this decision.  Aside from making this decision, the open posts also helped with my communication in general; I’ve noticed that when I am trying to relay difficult, lengthy, and detailed information that I really think about how I can best clarify and communicate the information using the least amount of words/least confusing combination.  Improving communication skills in my writing during the blogging related to being able to communicate more effective verbally in other areas of my life and has been very beneficial.

For the future, I would like to continue with this writing process, but focus more on the fitness related writing.  Throughout this semester, I’ve found that I am most interested in that field and would like to explore this various types of promotional writing, design, and social media aspects of various areas in the fitness field.  I think being able to experience all aspects of the public relations sector for the field that I am most interested in prior to graduation will help me decide if this s truly the field I am most passionate about and want to continue to work in.  I am hoping that once I take the 480 class, I will be able to focus in on this field and continue to progress with the writing improvements that I have already begun in this class.


I really enjoyed exploring my chosen data source ‘Envisaging the West’. I was intrigued by the historical focus of the data initially, but I also gained a greater appreciation for the time and energy that went into collecting and saving so much data. I had no idea such a large amount of information could actually be contained on a website so effectively. With so many high quality interactive maps and letters, one would expect the site to be slower and less easy to understand, but it was organized very well. I think one of the most effective parts of this data site was the ‘browse by name’ tab. This would be very useful if you have only the name of the person you want to research and need documents of primary source. It was great to see the other project presentations, and I really enjoyed the different ways in which people handled their presentations – audio narration, script, powerpoint, and prezi.  The range of ways to present will be a reminder to me for future presentations in other classes as well.

http://www.slideshare.net/theresaptak/theresa-ptak-mdhprojlewisandclarkpresentation 

 

 


Social media explained through coffee?  Can’t complain about that!

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