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…
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.
This class was the first one I’ve had to take that has required the students to write blog posts each week. We’re not only writing for our classmates and professor but for everyone on the web as well. I think this has improved my skills as a writer because this is the first time I’ve had to write for a wider audience than just my professors and classmates. I think writing in blogs gives you the opportunity to show more of your personality in your writing than you would for a normal assignment that only your professor would read. I think I’ve always shown my voice through my writing. One example of this is for the DH project evaluation paper. I chose to examine the September 11th Digital Archive site. For this paper we got put in groups and had to edit and proofread our group members papers. I remember one comment from one of my group members said that he liked the way I let my voice show through my writing. I think in some ways this is effective, especially writing in blogs, because it allows the reader to connect with the writer on a deeper level than a more formal assignment.
I think blogging is more relaxing to write than a paper that is for your professor. Even though my professor, classmates, and other web users read what I posted, I think blogging is more personal; it takes some of the pressure off. Blogging has changed the way I write because I feel more comfortable to sound more like myself in my writing and let more of my voice show through. I think professor Pignetti did a good job at allowing this because of the open posts we had to do each week along with our other post that was about a specific topic. The open posts could be about anything related to our course goals and I really enjoyed seeing what everyone else posted each week. I think for the open posts everyone let their voice shine through in their writing and I think this makes the blog seem a little more inviting. Another thing I liked was that professor Pignetti would also do blog posts and would comment on our posts. In her posts and comments, and even teaching in class, she would talk to us in a casual tone and I think this also helped put everything at ease. Writing in the blog didn’t seem like an assignment sometimes because I usually always enjoyed what I had to write about and share with others for the open posts. And since our professor would do blog posts too that also helped make it seem like it wasn’t an assignment sometimes.
This link takes you to my very first blog post for this class. I couldn’t tell you what the assignment was about but I think this is a good example of sounding more personal in your writing. One thing that I would change now that I have reread it is in the last paragraph I talk about how I like Bobley’s definition of Digital Humanities. I wish I would’ve said what that definition was and explained why I liked it because now that I’ve reread it I don’t remember what his definition was. For most of the blog posts I just wrote it on the spot, read over it once for any spelling and grammar errors and then posted it. Normally I would write something, let it sit for a few days and then go back to it and make changes. I think writing for blogs forces you to be better at writing on the spot and writing something good the first time. Blogging is definitely good practice for that. For my editing class I think about how my professor was telling me how reporters would sometimes have to write stories and they would get proofread once and get sent out to the press. I always wondered how they could write something so good so fast and get mostly everything right the first time. Now that I have a little blogging experience under my belt I’m not too intimidated by writing something on the spot and still feeling confident about it.
I received this email from Lady Gaga’s mom today. Seriously. Well, it’s because I’m on the Born This Way Foundation email list…
Anyway, we didn’t spend much time this semester discussing Maps and Spatial Visualizations or Geographical Information Systems (GIS), although I know several of your project evals featured sites with maps. Here’s one that you can contribute to with the intent of “highlighting places that inspire and encourage bravery and kindness.”