Overwhelming Options

There are about 101 ways to upload your artifacts onto the E-Portfolios. You could just paste the text directly in, you could link to an upload, you could link to a page, you could link to just about anything.

Why I Write on E-Portfolio

I’ve tried a couple of different ways to do this with my Why I Write and the Re-Purposing essay. The Why I Write is a creative piece and isn’t that long so I pasted that one right into the page. I think it’s working pretty well so far. I’m not sure if I’ll add any media to this page; although if I do, I might have to move some things on the page around. Due to it’s pretty short length though, I thought pasting it directly in would be most user-friendly.

Unfortunately, my Re-Purposing is a 19 page research paper about Views on Body Image and Sexuality. There was no way I could just paste this into the page. I thought for a little while about what would be best for this. I also thought about generally how research papers are presented on Google Scholars or on the library’s website. Usually, you get a little tidbit, like the abstract or a paragraph from the intro, and then you are linked to downloading the rest of the paper or to a pdf. Therefore, on my re-purposing page of my E-portfolio, I decided to paste directly the Abstract section and the first paragraph of the Introduction. At the bottom of that info, I put a hyperlink that says “Read More” that links you to a GoogleDoc of the entire paper.

After looking at some other E-Portfolios and getting some other ideas of what others are doing, I’m not totally loving this idea anymore. I think you have to log into Google to read it (maybe) and that’s not the most accessible it could be. I’m thinking potentially taking screenshots of each page and uploading them into a slideshow on that page might be better. Potentially I would still keep the link so that a reader could also see the whole thing on a doc. Does anyone have thoughts on that?

Click here to see exactly what I’m talking about. Choose the Projects tab and then subsequently “Why I Write” and “Re-Purposing.”

7 Things I Learned From Ann Arbor Awesome

“Hi, we are doing a project for our Minor in Writing course. Would you be willing to answer two questions and get your photo taken?”

“Yeah, sure”

“What inspires you?” “Is there a moment that you wish you would have appreciated more?”

1.    Ann Arbor is awesome

Ann Arbor is more than a city; it is a community. The people of Ann Arbor are brilliant in so many ways. They’re innovative, successful, intelligent, unique, and most importantly, invested.

The fact that every single stranger we asked to participate in our project shared genuine thoughts is astonishing. Not only did they answer our questions, they were curious and interested in us and what we were doing. We heard, “Good luck with your project!”, after almost every photo was snapped. For that, I would like to thank everyone who made Ann Arbor Awesome possible.

2.    Music is the universal language

One of the first people that we interviewed was an older woman who was tightly gripping the hand of her husband. He would periodically glance in her direction with a loving smile. We walked up to them and explained our project. Then Beixi asked, “What inspires you?” The woman smiled and looked down. “Music,” she said. “It is the universal language.”

We made small talk with the couple for a few minutes, asking them about their children and how long they had been together. I snapped a photo and Beixi and I headed across the Diag towards State Street.

Soon after, we stumbled upon a group of middle schoolers hanging out in the grass. Although Beixi won’t agree with me, I’m convinced that they were on a date (it was two boys and two girls and they were sitting awkwardly far apart). Again, Beixi asked, “What inspires you?” After about 20 seconds of blank staring, one of the girls piped up, “Music!” followed by something along the lines of the freedom and emotion that her favorite artists express. I took photos of the kids and we thanked them.

A number of other participants of varying ages and demographics had the same answer: “Music.”

Music is universally understood and appreciated. The power that music has, to relate to so many people, is insurmountable. Music is inspirational in many ways, but to me, it is inspiring because it motivates and intertwines such a diverse range of people.

3.    Smile at strangers 

Beixi and I spent a Sunday afternoon walking to Main Street interviewing people. Well, at least that was the original intention (we ended up doing more window-shopping than originally anticipated). However, we did take up an interest in the store employees. When we walked into The Peaceable Kingdom, I was frazzled because it was freezing outside and my backpack was getting heavy. Beixi could barely type on her phone because her “fingers were going to fall off”.

A young woman smiled at us from behind the counter when we stumbled in. She was wearing cat-eye glasses and bright pink lip gloss. We approached her and explained our project. She answered, “I am inspired by people who take the time to care about strangers. People that you don’t know the names of and never will. A friendly smile can go such a long way.”

Kindness makes the world a better place. Her warm smile made me feel welcome and comfortable. I never learned her name, and probably never will, but her impact was stronger than that of people that I’ve known for years.

4.    Youth is valuable

The second question that we asked, “What is a moment you wish you would have appreciated more?” garnered a very diverse set of answers.

From each unique response, “kindergarten” to “elementary school” to “high school” to “my wedding day” to “watching my kids grow up”, a theme can be drawn. Appreciate youth.

This premise has led me to ponder the concept of time. I am 21 years old, and I have this theory that every year, every day even, we actually have less time. Is the thought of time relevant to how much we have had already?

When we were children, each day was such a giant fraction of life as we knew it. Every waking moment was something huge, even monumental, in comparison to a moment in present life.

The concept of a day a week a summer and a year is not the same. A day is disappearing into a miniature fragment of my growing time on this planet. A week carries no substantiality, let alone a weekend that flies by faster than the wink of a stranger. A summer gets lost amidst a few days near the water and many more in an office. A year is like reading a page without processing any of the words. Where did it go?

The concept of time is deceiving.

Ten years ago I spent my days raising havoc in my neighborhood.  Now, I am raising hell in a college town. It seemed like a lifetime ago. Will ten years into the future seem like five? Will twenty seem like six?

I am 21. But in the relative scheme of life and time, am actually much older?

5.  Education is important

Beixi and I were turning the corner from State onto Liberty when a man sitting on the sidewalk interrupted us. “How are you girls doing today?” he asked. Beixi responded, “We’re doing well. How are you?” The man smiled and Beixi walked in his direction. At this point, I hesitantly supported her as she began explaining our project. The man agreed to participate.

“I am inspired by intelligence,” he immediately answered. “People that know what they want, work hard, and never give up. Intelligent people have the power to change the world.”

I was shocked by this answer. A homeless man had eloquently described the importance of wisdom.

I often find myself stressed, angry, and wanting to just roll over and quit. However, this man inspired me to push myself. He led me to think about how fortunate I am to be a student at the University of Michigan and that I should take advantage of every resource and opportunity possible.

6.    Say “I love you” more often

After I asked, “Is there a moment that you wish you would have appreciated more?”, I would often notice a glimpse of sadness fill the eyes of our befriended strangers.

One particular young man with a sleeve of tattoos peered back at me for an instant after I asked him this question.

“My little brother died a few months back,” he said. “We went to this concert together the week before. What I would give to have another hour with him there. Even twenty minutes. I just miss him so much.”

After I got home that evening, I called my mom to tell her how thankful I am to have her in my life, that I was excited to see her the next week, and that I loved her.

7.    Follow your dreams, not what you think will make you rich

While every response about inspiration was thought provoking and unique, I found the answer of one young woman particularly relevant to my life right now. She was a junior in the Ross School of Business and had an interesting perspective about people.

“When I want to get to know someone in my classes, I start out by asking them what their dream job is,” she said. “I love to hear how excited people get about it.” Then, she smiled and looked away before continuing on her train of thought. “The next question I ask is what they are going to do when they graduate.”

I replied, “Why do you ask people these specific two questions?”

“I only get to know the people who are actually chasing their dreams,” she responded. “Anybody can dream of being the owner of their own record label but plan to pursue a career in finance. I want to know the people who are actually taking a risk and doing what they love.”

As an upperclassman, my fear about the future is perpetually growing as the uncertainty rises. But as far as I’m concerned, you’re only a failure if you don’t try to follow your dreams.

 

E-portfolio updates

I’ve always liked art. Whether I am standing for hours absorbing its beauty and pondering its meaning, or creating it myself through different mediums, I am always sucked in. Like school projects that required posters, or putting together pamphlets, I become so involved in the art that I lose all track of time.

I have said in one of my first blog posts here that I never liked the idea of blogging, being on the internet, or this new form of writing that didn’t involve a paper and pencil. That pencil- it has been something that I’ve always loved and its been one of the most important things in my life. Writing, sketching, or losing myself in some kind of project with my hands is what I am used to -being able to feel what I am doing. Internet, blogging, website design-not so much.

So I never expected to like it this much. Just like any other project, this e-portfolio is very new to me. Unlike sketching where I know my tools very well and can erase and create whatever comes into my mind, there is another language here that I am just learning. Html codes, widgets- this is my first time with them. But unfortunately I am a bit obsessive and tend to let a project take over me, and now all of a sudden I am looking how to find the perfect color by googling it rather than blending paints or color pencils. That’s probably the biggest obstacle so far.

My portfolio is really a depiction of my imaginative creative self. Kind of magical in its own way, I’ve been trying to give it this almost fairy tale magic appeal to it. I’m not sure how much it is working-mostly I think I am getting the colors wrong but once again thats the language barrier again.

In an unrelated but somewhat interesting note, I don’t know what I want to do when I graduate- at all. But I think it might involve something like this, something fun and creative and a way for me to play around and work on a project for hours. Below is the link 🙂

http://carokow.wix.com/dreamcatchers

Intro to Eportfolio

The theme of my portfolio is really focused on slowing down time, living in the present, being aware of all the incredible day to day things that are happening all around us. I’ve always had people tell me that college passes like no other and I’ve never really stopped to give it much thought because I’ve been too busy rushing by. When I stop to look back there are so many moments I can’t remember clearly or times I wish I had enjoyed more. All my pieces and work emphasize this bit and really try to make readers see the world in a new way and to understand from different perspectives. My goal is to get people to stop in their tracks when they’re running to that next class, that next meeting, and to really take time for the world.

I am really excited by the way I can design and mold this website to my message. I want it to be visually stimulating and I want people to feel like there’s a mystery to search for. I want it to be a calm, reflective tone, giving people the time to absorb and think about how it is similar to or different from their own experiences. My layout is centered on simplicity. No extra bells or whistles, just visuals and prose to bring a message to life. This new way of web writing has really intrigued me. It is so different from the way I normally write that I am challenged to find ways to mold my personal style to the new medium–and it is so exciting. There are now so many ways to pair communication and I find myself spending countless hours on tweaking out the best ways to combine writing, listening, and watching to get viewers to see the point I’m trying to make.

Given this new medium, it has also been a challenge to find new ways to present my thoughts. I’m a traditional writer who sits down and does reflections, but who isn’t necessarily so good at twitter or quick bursts of information. Through this process, I’ve been testing myself to see how varied I can make my pieces and how creative I can be in my presentations. Everything that I’m posting relates to my central theme of stopping and looking around, enjoying. But the eportfolio also calls for a reflection on each of the artifacts to explain why we wrote the pieces that we did. My eportfolio tone tends to be more subtle, and one of the obstacles I’m trying to jump is figuring out how to tie this reflection into my layout. I think I may end up doing a side link that offers this information for those who are interested in looking into my thought process for each of the artifacts, and for those who aren’t interested, they can just enjoy what I have presented to them on the surface level.

 

If you’d like to take a look, my eportfolio can be found at http://beixili.wix.com/livelaughloveshare

Revision Process

I found myself doing A LOT more revisions for these papers/projects than I thought I would or normally do. To be honest for most papers and projects that I’ve worked on in high school and college, I usually bust out the bulk of it in one sitting and then just come back to it the next day to finish it up, read over again, and make some final small edits. And bam, I’m done.

But our Re-purposing and Re-mediation projects demanded a lot more thinking, creativity, and time. The freedom we had with both projects allowed me to incorporate a lot of ideas and in some ways, that freedom made it more difficult to narrow down and focus the final product, which inevitable makes progress extremely slow and frustrating.

I’m focusing my attention on my re-mediation project right now and I did a lot of revision before the first draft and have done a ton of revision since then. I’ve revisited my ads countless times, each time shifting the placement of the text or photos, changing the font, changing the text color, or adding more text. It can be frustrating to have to keep changing things, but I actually don’t mind for this project. One strategy I like to use is to put time between each revision. During that time, I’ll jot down more ideas and think about the things that can be improved/changed, but I won’t look at the actual project. When I finally open the file/doc again, I can look at it with fresh eyes and fresh ideas. This strategy helps figure out what’s working, what’s kind of working but needs some changes, and what’s not working at all. Working on a project in pieces instead of finishing it all in one sitting is much more productive in my opinion. You get a more thoughtful, cohesive, and successful final product.

Admitting Defeat And Starting Anew

intervention

Two nights ago was a turning point in my e-portfolio journey. Since the beginning, I had been excited about the customization aspect of the project. I chose to be ambitious and code it myself, building off a bit of HTML/CSS knowledge I had acquired through Codecademy tutorials. In my head, I saw a glorious display of minimalism, complete with a flashy title and and a simple table of contents that would link to my artifacts. As I began to bring my website dreams to life, the progress was slow, but the small victories kept me going: centering an element, changing the font. There were tough times, too. My lacking coding knowledge led to me to believe that including an overlay feature would be a good idea. It wasn’t. One class I spent the whole time trying to make the title a cool GIF. Also probably not a great idea. But through the good and bad, my determination remained steadfast. I wanted my e-portfolio to be as personal as possible (and, honestly, to stand out) and coding it completely myself was the way to do that.

That was, until two nights ago. Coming home from a long day I sat down at my desk and decided to show my computer science-majoring roommates my website concept. It makes more sense now, but in fishing for compliments, I was hit with some pretty harsh critique. Quotes heard include, “I’d rather watch replays of the Michigan State game than look at that” and, bluntly, “This is what computer science over the past decade has been working to prevent.” They even hated on the purple white-noise background. At first I tried to defend it. A few tears welled up. But then I began to accept that I needed a change, and through the veil of criticism there was a glow of encouragement. Their intervention forced me to grapple with the truth of the matter, that I was at an impasse and that this was keeping me from accomplishing more important parts of the project. We reasoned ways I could move forward, such as using a template like Wix, or even still coding it by hand but using a template like these Bootstrap ones. Overall, the experience was less traumatic and more constructive. Now I can still apply my original structural ideas without stressing over more superficial aesthetics and formatting. Sometimes, in our personal quests for achievement, we lose sight of reality. This e-portfolio intervention was a much needed reality check, and I, as well as my instructors and transcript, will be more thankful because of it.

brain pickings

Disclaimer: this post has nothing to do with our e-portfolios…

I know people say that you can carve out time for anything if you try hard enough, but I think as students we’re constantly processing so much information that I know even when I have actual spare time, my brain just wants to relax (and my stomach wants ice cream). I do think there’s a little space in there, though, and my friend recently sent me to this site that provokes some inspiration on a daily basis without asking me to watch a 20 minute TED talk that’ll Change My Life.

The author of Brain Pickings describes the site as a “human powered discovery engine for interestingness” and I think that sums it up better than I can. I just subscribed to the newsletter so I can’t vouch for that quite yet but the site’s daily articles span topics from writing to science to art to politics to all the little things in between and seriously, everything is just so freaking interesting and well put together. Just browsing a few articles gives so much food for thought and has really got me thinking about the importance of being genuinely curious in the world. I hope you guys check out and enjoy the site too and try to stay sane through these last few crazy weeks 🙂

PechaKucha Enrichment Challenge

This week I went to an event in North Quad’s “Exposure Series,” which takes place one night a month. Each event takes the form of something called a PechaKucha Night, where people give presentations consisting of 20 slides, shown for 20 seconds each. The presentation format was originally designed for architects as a way to keep presentations short. At the one I went to, all presenters were University students and staff. The theme was International Night (there’s a different theme each month).

It was definitely a unique event. The format was one I had never seen before, and all the presenters took very different perspectives on the same topic. One of the presentations that stuck out to me was from a grad student who talked about time she spent traveling abroad. I could tell she was very passionate about her experiences and had a lot to say – but was limited to only 20 seconds per slide/travel story. Her presentation was mostly visual, with many pictures of her and her friends, and much of the speaking time was spent explaining the photos, why they are significant, and how they represent her travels.

This reminded me of my remediation project, which is very image-based. It has been difficult to construct an entirely visual argument, because I am used to using images only as additions to a text-based argument. I like the possible solution that came out of attending this event: using visuals to tell my story and adding words only for context and analysis.

Overall, this was a fun event that I would definitely recommend to you all!

ALSO: Check out the official PechaKucha website to learn more about the format, and watch a lot of awesome videos. I liked this one on the myth of productivity

A Very Jazzy Christmas Indeed

Christmas guys. I’m obsessed.

Buddy the Elf jumping for joy
This is what happens as soon as I see the lights and wreaths go up on the trees and streetlights downtown.

I think I have mentioned before my affinity for jazz music as background to my writing, so obviously I was so excited to find this playlist on 8tracks. Jazz+Christmas=One Happy Writer.

Sometimes when I am listening to this, though, I get a little sidetracked thinking about the holidays (Bah Humbug to all who read this and don’t think that the season starts until after Thanksgiving). I love so many things about the holiday season, but a lot of them include taking a break from academic writing and really enjoying the writing process.

Writing During the Holidays

  • Catching up on reading (all of those novels and magazines and blogs that have been on the back burner during school)
  • Keeping a gratitude journal during the holidays of all of the things I am thankful for
  • Checking things off of the ridiculously long “To Do Over Christmas Break” list
  • Journaling with a cup of cocoa in your pajamas while watching the snow fall
  • Scrapbooking events and memories from the year
  • Making New Year’s Resolutions

 

How do you all write during the holidays?

#STYLECHALLENGE: Navigation

From the very start of my remediation project, it was a goal of mine to incorporate the “journey”/”travel” feel that my repurposing project consisted of. After deciding to create a website for my remediation project, however, I knew this would be a bit more difficult than it was for a magazine spread. How was I going to incorporate this journey/travel aura on a multi-page website? I needed to find a way to string all my pages together, in a way that would allow the users of my site to feel as though they were traveling to different places in the world.

After meeting with Professor Silver, she gave me great insight into how to fix this problem. Instead of simply having a menu at the side of my site with different tabs, I figured out how to link the different pages under particular tabs together. For example, one of my tabs is a review of different restaurants in Ann Arbor that serve unique and tasty salsas. When you click on the tab, which is called “HOT” SPOTS, you are taken to an introductory page about Ann Arbor in general, and how it houses many Mexican restaurants. Then, instead of putting information about the three restaurants I chose to include (Isalita, BTB Cantina, and Chipotle) all on that same introductory page, I created hyperlinks that takes users to separate pages, each with information on just one of the restaurants. This also solved the problem of having too much text on a single page. The “HOT” SPOTS page now looks like this (the red words are the links):

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 4.39.38 PM

In addition, Professor Silver also mentioned that instead of forcing users to click on the tab menu each time they wanted to get back to the introductory page or read about a different restaurant, that I should string the pages together. At the bottom of each page, I put a link/button to help users navigate through, or “travel” to the next restaurant. This way, they can move back to the previous page they were on, or move ahead to the next page, without having to go back to the introductory “HOT” SPOTS page and search for the link for the restaurant they want to read about. An example of this new style feature on my site looks like this (the links are in yellow):

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 4.43.40 PM