Definitely a #Tech(Challenge)

As I continue to fluctuate between creating a video or a website for this re-mediation project, I decided to head to an actual Mac lab and test out iMovie more in depth.  Basically, I wanted to see if it would be worth it to travel to a mac lab to complete this project, and unfortunately I really liked the tutorial on (making my decision even more difficult!).  I also watched a tutorial video for Windows Live Movie Maker on my laptop using some videos I have saved, and found that the system just doesn’t give me enough features or freedom to create the type of video that I want.  Here’s one of the final products on Movie Maker — I worked through the tutorial editing the clips (but didn’t use any special effects) just to see the barebones results and practice posting to Youtube:

However, the iMovie Essential tutorial was really great and so comprehensive!  Anything that I had a question about before starting was answered in different videos — specifically I really benefited from the videos on voice overs and adding titles.  Both are features that would be very important for my project if I chose to do a video.  I really enjoyed working with the program and its exercise files, especially because I am not the most tech-savvy person and really enjoy walk-through tutorials.  It is amazing that provides all of these amazing videos for free (woo, thanks U of M!).

A screenshot of an iMovie tutorial on
A screenshot of an iMovie tutorial on

Overall, this tech challenge has succeeded in confusing me even more about the platform/medium that I want to use for this project — which really stinks since I need to start my story-board ASAP.

Re-Mediation Worries

As of right now, I’m a little freaked out.  I originally wanted to create a video for my re-mediation project centering around different resources on campus, and it’s proving to be just as difficult as everyone has been saying.  First, I don’t own a Mac (and barely know how to work one), but was planning to use the computer labs and iMovie to create the video.  This being said, I don’t really think that plan is very feasible, since it would be really annoying to have to travel to the computer labs all of the time to work on this project.  So, I started looking into other platforms for Windows and can’t find any that I like/will do the job I want to do.  Windows Live Movie Maker just doesn’t cut it… especially because I can’t figure out how to add a voice-over to the video.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to make it to the Tech Deck last week, so I’m cutting it really close.  Does anyone have any suggestions that might work?  At this point I’m even considering changing my proposal from a video-based project to a website, but I’m not sure about the details.  I guess I will see what I’ve decided by Tuesday when our storyboards are due…   Goodness, I don’t like choices!

How Can Writing Change the World?

Okay, so this popped up on my Facebook wall and I just had to share it:

The Tedx talk embedded in the page is definitely worth the sixteen minutes it takes to watch — while I usually can’t sit through Ted talks, this one really spoke to me.  I really love to use creative non-fiction to write about different experiences and identities that I hold, and the program that Adam Falkner (UM grad! Woo!) talks about is amazing!  Combining creative writing with examinations of social justice and social identities is definitely something I am interested in and something I would love to look into working with in the future.  Since being a part of IGR my freshman year and beginning to write about experiences with privilege and oppression, creative writing has been the one thing that keeps me grounded.

The quote that really spoke to me throughout the entire video (so much so that I paused the video and wrote it down on a sticky note_ was when Falkner said “we need to learn each other, and we need to learn ourselves.”  It’s very similar to something I wrote in my first “Why I Write” piece — writing helps you make connections and grow not only as an individual, but as a community.   It’s amazing to think about how much writing really can impact the world for the better.  

…I wonder if this program has internships available?  🙂


So of course, the ONE day that I have to actually sleep in past 7am and relax a bit, I get called in to work at 8am.  What’s even worse is that I was already scheduled to work from 2-6m, but my manager thought “Hey, let’s just call in Alyssa and have her work a lovely 9 hour shift!”  (Well okay, that’s not exactly what she said, but that’s what I imagine her thinking…)  Anyways, this kind of put a damper on my being able to attend the Write-a-thon on the Diag last Friday, which I was very bummed about!  I like creative events like that where people can just drop in and write something (I went to one last year and thought it was so awesome!), and of course, I loved the pins we got in class (pins are my weakness).

Chalk Writing on the Diag
A work of art found on the Diag!

I ended up getting out of work early at about 4:30, but by the time that I made it down to Central Campus there was nothing left but a whole bunch of chalk writing all over the Diag.  It was actually really cool to read.  I walked around all of the families in town for Parent’s Weekend reading what people had wrote.  The picture above is something I took on my phone, it made me smile after an incredibly long day of work.  It’s just a testament to how awesome writing is.  It can make a difference in the lives of others who are reading it — and you never know who you’ll be reaching out to!  🙂

Crunch Time

The thing that has been particularly stressful to me this semester has been actually finding the time to sit down and write.  Actually write.  In the past, I feel like I’ve been able to carve out time to enjoy my writing — to plan ahead, revise, and take my time — but this year, not so much.  Especially when it comes to a project like our Re-Purposing assignment, which is totally interesting, I wish that I had made better choices and had more time to do what I want to do.  (But there is time to turn in revised drafts, which is great!)

As for the assignment, I’m writing a kind of essay that is designed for college freshmen at U of M, which has been interesting to write.  My problems have been that

1.  I haven’t had enough time to write a quality first or second draft, so I have a ton of work to do revising and editing the paper to sound the way I want it to


2.  I’m still conflicted about how I want my tone to sound.  The paper that I’m basing my structure off of is very much a professional article with lots of facts and data — but I don’t think that would be the most effective way to reach my audience.  So right now I’m torn between writing to reach an audience in a more colloquial (but still professional) style, or going a completely different direction and using my “model article” to try a new style of more academic writing.

And what’s worse is that it’s crunch time, so I have to make a decision — quick!

Portfolio Beginnings…

So here’s the problem I see happening as I begin to create my Gateway portfolio — I have all of these visions for how I want it to look, but I am extremely technology-challenged.   In looking at all of the awesome pages that I’ve found not only from past cohorts but also just ones that I’ve stumbled across on the internet, I feel like the challenge for me is going to be forcing myself to not spend hours and hours trying to perfect the way a picture looks or the style of tabs at the top of the page.  I think I need to set realistic expectations for how this portfolio is going to look and turn out.

Also, I don’t know if anyone else is feeling this way, but I feel like I’m probably focusing too much on the look of the page instead of the content — something I am just now realizing as I write this blog post.  While first impressions are important, I think I’m going to start exploring some more content-based additions (hopefully ones that are easy to add to a portfolio) instead of just focusing on layout and aesthetic appeal.  Hmmm… now to explore some more….

Reading and Writing — Tierney and Pearson

In my group’s reading for this week, “Toward a Composing Model of Reading,” I really liked that the piece was straightforward and provided actual examples of what it was trying to convey through comments from readers and writers in different situations.  The reading starts off very openly with the authors’ viewpoints on reading and writing, saying “at the heart of understanding reading and writing connections one must begin to view reading and writing as essentially similar processes of meaning construction.”  Being a pretty dense piece of writing at times, I appreciated the way that the information (very organized and analytical ideas about planning, drafting, aligning, revising and monitoring) was set up and utilized.

Some key points from the reading that stuck out to me:

1.  “A reader might scan the text as a way of fine tuning the range of knowledge and goals to engage, creating a kind of a “draft” reading of the text.”  Under the topic of planning, I had never considered the role that a reader plays in terms of understanding reading through prior planning.  I think it’s really interesting how previous knowledge and perceptions go into creating meaning in a piece — a very different interpretation of planning than a writer might be considering, which usually deals more with structure and organization of text instead of personal mental collection.

2.  “What drives reading and writing is this desire to make sense of what is happening–to make things cohere.”  What I think this piece does a great job of is helping its audience to understand more of the similarities and connections between reading and writing and the processes that go along with it.  And I really do agree that readers and writers usually read or write to gain clarity, to make sense of something that is happening through mental stimulation.  Writers may challenge ideas through writing, and readers can develop and challenge stances based on responses and analysis of writing processes.  Either way, they want to make sense of something through text.

3. Also, I thought that the concept of “aligning” was interesting to think about in terms of  both reading and writing.  The thought I immediately had when beginning to read this section was the rhetorical concept of “pathos” or emotional appeal, and this certainly plays into that idea.  Aligning goes both ways however, in both the writer trying to relate to his or her audience as well as the reader aligning themselves with interactive thoughts and sympathies throughout a text.  It’s a two way street, and (at least for me) has gotten me thinking more so about how alignment could play a part in perceptions of my writing in the future.


While I was a little unsure about this reading beforehand, I actually think that I got some interesting information out of it!  Reading and writing are both very interactive processes — more than I had actually imagined!

Writing on my mind…

It’s coming.

We are about three weeks in, and the school work has surmounted any level of writing I have been forced to do in my college career.  And it definitely doesn’t help that I’ve been having a major problem with writer’s block this weekend.  Next week I have three papers due, and only basic ideas for the first two — and this level of unpreparedness and lack of organization has been really hurting my motivation to sit down at my cold, messy desk and type away an outline like I usually do.  Everything that I think of doing gets over analyzed by my brain, and I end up erasing the few words that I ended up jotting down.  But hey… it’s normal for this to happen, right?

Take for example, my first linguistics paper.  It’s due next Tuesday and I really need to start.  The problem is, there is no topic for it and I am HORRIBLE at open-ended assignments.   The idea is to pick any form of mass media and write about how language is used in it.  So naturally, I can’t decide between analyzing one of my favorite TV shows (Orange Is The New Black/Scandal), or the way that diction changes for artists who transcend multiple genres of music, or how race and identity are represented in Disney films (see:  The Lion King, The Princess and the Frog, The Jungle Book, etc.), or about three other ideas that have been floating around in my head surrounding news outlets, the function of radio and audio in the modern world (Welcome to Night Vale, anyone?), etc.  The multitude of choices is so overwhelming to me!

I’m sure with classes beginning to pick up, a few of you might also be feeling this way too.  So does anyone have any tips to beat the old  “writer’s block” demon?  They’d be greatly appreciated!  Here’s hoping all of our future writing projects go well!

“Thin-Skinned” Blogging

I’ve never really thought about the essence behind a blog.  They’re definitely fun to read, and I enjoy hearing others’ perspectives as well as reading things that obviously matter to them, but I’ve never sat down and thought about the structure or real reasons for someone to write a blog.   And for this reason, I absolutely loved reading Andrew Sullivan’s essay “Why I Blog.”  I actually learned a lot about the origin of the blog and its uses (blog=web+log… didn’t know that!), and I was particularly interested in reading about Sullivan’s experiences with blogs and his take on the writing process and feedback that they provide.  I felt like he was honest and to the point– something I appreciate when I’m learning about something new!

Two different ideas stuck out to me the most:

1.  “As you read a [log], you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages—the opposite of a book. As you piece together a narrative that was never intended as one, it seems—and is—more truthful.”  When I thought about this, I realized that this is definitely true for a lot of the blogs that I have taken a personal interest in, and enjoy reading.  I don’t find it interesting to read a flowery personal outlook on life — I enjoy honesty and introspection.  The pieces just seem to… come together.  And while it’s not necessarily a linear backward motion when reading through a blog, I feel like there is a certain amount of chronological variance that needs to happen in order to better understand yourself as a blogger, and what you’re trying to say.

2.  Writers can be sensitive, vain souls, requiring gentle nurturing from editors, and oddly susceptible to the blows delivered by reviewers. They survive, for the most part, but the thinness of their skins is legendary.”  Sullivan’s phrase here totally hit close to home —  I’m often very sensitive when it comes to my writing for various reasons, probably because it’s such a personal experience.  And this might be why I’ve never been committed to maintaining a personal blog… I’m afraid of how people might criticize.  It’s funny to Sullivan’s thoughts, because I think that every writer knows and understands this “thin-skinned” syndrome, but most of us still can’t shake the private, vain feeling of keeping what we write to ourselves.

I think overall that Sullivan’s article has made me think a lot more about the social aspects of blogging, especially with my personal connection and hope to use writing as a tool for activism in the future.  Hopefully I’ll be able to jump in to blogging, and maybe even thicken my skin a bit while doing it.  It’s worth a try at least!

Serving Up Some SJ!

Apart from my half-hearted attempts to create (and maintain) blogs about myself and my passions in the past, I have had a lot less experience with blogs than probably a lot of people.  It’s still a big goal of mine though, especially when I read really interesting stories and blogs that make me think.  I work for Housing as a Diversity Peer Educator (DPE), and love to read and write about social justice (which I usually always abbreviate “SJ”) topics and articles that can really show other perspectives that I might not necessarily ever think about!

From My Brown Eyed View 2.0

Over the past few years, I have been becoming interested in blogs with SJ spins, such as blogs like From My Brown Eyed View.  This site was just started a few months ago, but I became interested in it when a fellow DPE posted a blurb from the site on our group Facebook page.  I love the collection of written perspectives, as well as the simple links to videos that deal with a broad range of social identities, such as race, ability status, or mental health.  This sort of mix makes it interesting to read and links to some really amazing ideas — like this amazing video  performance showing the intersection of race and sexual orientation in spoken word form.  (It’s really an amazing video- you should check it out!)

Just as well, the blog might not be the flashiest or most respected, but it gets a lot done with a few months of posts under its belt.  Each post is really meaningful and really makes you think about who you are and about what our society is telling us in terms of social equality (or the lack thereof).  I really encourage you to check it out if you’re interested in current events, social justice and multiculturalism, or pieces that will make you think differently about the world around you!  Who knows, maybe it’ll even spur you to begin sharing your unique perspective — the part of you that is so valuable to others to learn and grow as well!


Also, I absolutely love this other blog The Big Girl Blog, which deals with a few more SJ issues as well (namely race and size).  It’s another amazing blog that sheds light on the oppression that people of size and racial minorities are facing today, and has a lot of engaging and interesting experiences, fashion tips, and advice to look through!  🙂