It is only the beginning.

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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Time to reflect…

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.

An Experience Worth Sharing

Although this class has taught me a lot about blogging my career in public writing did not begin here. The first time I ever blogged was in Matt Livesey’s class freshman year. We had a choice of where we wanted to blog and what we wanted to blog, he was happy as long as we posted one paragraph each week and commented on a few others as well. I think that this type of freedom definitely allowed us ease into the world of public writing and flourish on our own time. Here is a link to my Blogger account where you can find multiple blogs I posted all throughout my first semester in addition to one in particular about a soda company commercial. (http://fuax-promises.blogspot.com/2011/10/not-for-women.html) I think this post is a good example in general because of how I wrote it. I stated that “Since the commercials first started airing at the beginning of October the perception ratings of Dr. Pepper have decreased detrimentally and not just from women although their ratings went from 32.9 to 18.4 (which if you didn’t notice is almost a 50% decrease.)” Although, I did do research on the subject and posted a fairly good analysis I think that it is lacking professionalism and content that would make it much more interesting to readers who may be concerned with that kind of stuff rather than just some students in my class. I believe that I simply added too much sarcasm, for example asking, “Did Dr. Pepper have a death wish here?” I relate this blogging to this class because I think it helped me develop from semi-serious writer to the more professional writer I have become this semester. In the few months that I have started blogging on wordpress I think that my content and professionalism has increased a lot. I also think the subjects that I talked about definitely improved as well.

For example, in this Post (https://engl335digitalhumanities.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/the-effects-of-social-media/) I talked about the effects that social media had on the election. I found articles relating to my post and discussed important topics that matter to people. Such as “I’m pretty surprised that twitter didn’t crash with the overload of opinions, thoughts, and ideas all coming in at around 65,000 tweets per minute.” Although, it doesn’t seem like this would be that important to some people I think that to people who are involved with social media and care about its effects on events would find this really interesting and important. I also think that I kept my post more interesting and professional than the other example that I provided. It is definitely one of my favorite posts from this semester just because it means so much to the world, in relation to the elections. One of the most important quotes is this “If there is something to know or something to see all it takes is a simple click or a share or a retweet for anyone to be caught up and see what is going on. Social media now has such an impact that it can either make or break the way people are perceived not just by people on the internet but by people who dont use it too.” This is important and factual and I think it demonstrates how much the internet effects everything. I wrote this post on the 12th, which was less than a week after the elections with an awe-inspired mind because of the article I found. I cant even explain how it was written because I think I did it so fast I hardly recognized what I was writing. The subject matter of the post was just so interesting to me that I wrote down my findings and my opinion into one content crammed interesting post. The article I read stated that this election was the most tweeted, blogged, and posted about election that has ever existed. I found this intensely interesting because I’m pretty much interested in anything that is remotely web related. Re-reading this article I think I’m actually pretty surprised at just how excited I was about this new idea that the web can decide how an election goes. This is such a new concept that I’m pretty sure everyone had to step back and realize how far the internet has come and where it may be going in the future. I really liked how I commented on the fact that President Obama had a better chance of winning because of his involvement on the internet. By doing this I think he connected with people my age and allowed us to see what he was all about. Its funny to me how social media pretty much relates to anything these days and can be used for almost any purpose as well. I learned these lessons in this class this semester and will continue to learn these things, I’m sure, as time goes on and I further my education. I think that this important distinction between my professionalism and subject matter was definitely influenced by this class and what we have learned. If not for this class my content may have continued being about nothing instead of blogging about interesting world events that make a difference.

I think the thing that surprised me most about this semester was how much I learned about blogging. Blogs don’t just have to be personal diaries for people who have nothing else better to do. They can, in fact, be very useful and full of interesting content that can help enlighten people about new world events or just provide an insightful thought about the subject. I surprised myself by coming up with interesting blog subjects that weren’t about me personally but about other worldy topics that were still interesting and fun to write about. Honestly, in the beginning of the semester I was worried that blogging would be boring because we had to stick to a certain criteria and blog about what the professor told us to blog about. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I had fun blogging and commenting on others work even without it being my own personal diary that I wrote about. I had a lot of fun this semester writing for this class and seeing what everyone else wrote and I hope that we can continue blogging and having fun while doing it but also posting interesting subject material that can be viewed by everyone and liked by everyone too.

 

All Good Things Must Come to an End.

One of the main requirements for this class was to write a weekly blog. Often we were requested to write a structured post and an open post. I mainly blogged about social media, specifically Twitter. If it was for my open post it would be my opinions on Twitter, my personal tweets or things I’ve learned from Twitter. If it was for my structured post I would blog about studies done involving Twitter. I’ve blogged about studies, infographics, and surprisingly politics. My writing has improved over this semester and it has affected not just my school life but my personal life too.

 

My writing has definitely improved over time and it’s mainly because I became more specific with my writing. I did this by learning how to insert links. In my first blog post “Testing, Testing 123 (Hope I’m doing this right!)” I wrote, “I created my own blog on blogger and wrote whatever came to my mind.” I should have linked to that specific blog in that sentence but I didn’t, I didn’t even think of it. When I began to insert links I just copied and pasted the URL into my post but eventually I learned how to link it to a specific word and have since gone back and fixed all of them. I used to find all of my information on Pinterest, in my blog post “Why Every Digital Humanist Should Own This Book” I wrote, “Then one day, on Pinterest where everything magical happens…” There is not a whole lot wrong with that except that it’s not effective to get all of your information from one source even if the information being contributed is from multiple people. Eventually I learned to search for other sources, and I learned how to work WordPress and I even blogged about things I never thought I would.

I do not like politics it is the last thing I want to talk about. But I surprised myself this year by actually blogging about it a few times. Honestly if it wasn’t for the election I probably wouldn’t have, but it was the first year I could vote and tis the season right? Of course it wouldn’t be a post of mine if it didn’t involve Twitter. My post #election2012 analyzed the connection between Twitter and the election. I noted “Tuesday evening I did not watch T.V I didn’t have to everything I wanted to know was being posted on Twitter. In I only found out Obama won because of Twitter.” Which is all completely true. My mindset was I don’t care about the speeches and the policies, I don’t want to watch CNN I just want to know who wins. With Twitter that was possible. If I was going to blog about the election I was going to blog about the social media side of things. I loved that this election was the most tweeted about subject in the history of Twitter. I loved all the memes that came out of it. I even found a study filled with inforgraphics on how Obama was reelected. The use of social media made this election bearable for me. Being able to write about it showed how much I’ve changed this year.

 

My writing this semester has grown from opinion based to research based. I’m so used to the easy way out, I didn’t mind writing the open posts, especially in the beginning when I was on Pinterest all the time and blogged about whatever DH thing I came across. I went from doing the bare minimum to actually digging for topics to write about. It effected my life beyond school because it made me see Twitter in a new light. For me it was always just a post whatever is on my mind sort of thing. Now I realize that Twitter is useful in many ways. Whether it is documenting trends, finding statistics, or stimulating conversation. I’ve used social media more for classes this year than personal life; I tweet for homework! Whenever people hear that I’m tweeting or using Facebook for school they become skeptical as to whether I’m actually learning or not. My mother definitely does not understand it. What people don’t realize is social media is useful for more things than just socializing. We use it to document life today. I never even thought blogging could be used for school until I came to Stout.

 

I would think that my writing goals for the future would be to get people to understand what digital humanities is and how we can use social media for more than just pleasure. Though, that may ruin it for a lot of people. This course taught me a lot of things including how to write for an audience. I’m pretty sure someone who wasn’t even in this class commented on my blog. I will definitely continue to blog in the future.

Until Next Time

Over the course of this semester, my classmates and I have been posting on this blog, referring to the assignments given in our Critical Approach to Digital Humanities hybrid class. This was not my first time blogging for a class, but I still had/have much to learn about it. For my open posts I mainly chose memes, websites, and news articles that related to my knowledge of the Digital Humanities. My most important goal is to make a definition of what I think DH is, and this class has helped me get closer to reaching my goal by forcing to do my own research, but the blog helped me see what my classmates were discovering and I found that to be very helpful. Using the blog for class assignments was also helpful in improving my public writing and developing my voice.

A few of my beginning post were not very detailed and it resulted in comments that had questions asking me to further explain what my post is about. After “practicing” posting and reading other’s post, it became easier for me to see what type of information was necessary to have a blog post that was brief but still very clear about the reasoning and idea of the over all post. This open post from the beginning of the class is an example of somewhere that I really could have gotten into depth. Instead I just assumed that my audience would know where the image came from, what my thoughts were on it, and how it relates to DH. The image was simply from a Google search and I was drawn to it because I saw it as a visual definition what I think to be Digital Humanities. The photo is representing a classroom and the volume symbol is showing that it is virtual. I could have expanded even further by relating it our hybrid class that is participating on this very blog. Those that go to class and those who are online students never meet, but on the blog, it feels to me at least, that we are all the same. For example, I am just as likely to comment on an online students post, as I am to comment on someone’s post that I see in class. When learning is cybernetic, everyone is essentially equal and this reminds me of the open and sharing attitude of the Digital Humanities. Later on I started to find things that reminded me of DH and that also related to my life, like this post with a “Y U NO?” meme. It may not be my prettiest post, but when you read it, you know exactly why I chose that meme. In this post, I made myself vulnerable and shared tweets from my personal feed and account to help demonstrate what I was talking about. In both my open posts and directed post, I slowly built up my voice and also raked through my interests that relate to the Digital Humanities.

When scrolling through my blog posts, there really isn’t much sense of a theme besides the common subject of the Digital Humanities.  I am really still in the beginning staging of understanding the field, but I know that it is right for me because I find almost every part of it fascinating. The multitude of opportunities it has the potential of presenting me, gives me security for the future that I am comfortable with. What interest me the most are the projects that we recently studied; they are what I find to be the most important part of DH. I see social media being a part of DH as well, but I think that it kind of fits into the category because of the big data that it creates. DH has much more potential than just counting the amount of pictures on Facebook and weeding through all of the tweets about an event. Sure these are important aspects of DH and they help us learn about us as a society, but I feel that it almost “cheapens” if you will, the definition of Digital Humanities and it has not yet been set in stone. I see the networking to be an outlet for discoveries. Websites and blogs like ours that are collecting history and information is what drives the success of the field. Being an admin to this blog helped me work on my public writing, but it also helps clear my personal pathway to the definition of Digital Humanities.

My Final Post!

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.

The Bravest Map Ever!

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.”