Reflection On My Blog Posts Thus Far

Reflecting on my blog posts thus far, I noticed that the majority of my posts contain similar attributes. For the most part, I tend to “blog” practically how I talk. I know that people who I am friends with would agree, but since I did not know anyone coming into this class, it is interesting to think that when one of you reads my posts, that it is almost like having a conversation with me. It is hard to think that someone’s writing can be “real,” but, looking back at my posts, the writing is about as close to a verbal interaction with me as it gets (while sticking to the guidelines of the blog, of course!).

I tend to add humor or entertainment aspects to my posts such as YouTube clips or pictures. This is mostly for my own amusement. I also noticed that I tend to say “I feel like…” a lot, which is something an Israel soldier I became friends with in Israel this summer pointed out as a phrase that Americans often say. I thought this was a pretty funny connection.

My most satisfying post so far was my post “Show Your Personality” in which I explored 5 inspirational websites for my eportfolio. This post was the most fun for me to write and also gave the class a look into my personal life because it showed sites that I frequent outside of class. My least satisfying post was my first post, “Why I Write – 9/8/11.” Not only was the title boring, the post was boring. I’d like to believe this is just because it was my first post and I was not very comfortable with expressing ideas through this public of a medium yet. It took me a little time to adjust, which I think is evident in my posts.

I only received 5 comments and three are from yesterday and today, so I don’t think that those have been very effective. I am also to blame because I have been lacking on my commenting as well. This is something I am going to try to stay up-to-date on now.

Photo Editing – Testing Out Picnik

Photo editing is an interesting concept if you really think about. Why should we be able to change how things look in reality? Are we actually just perfecting the past by perfecting our present photos? We now have the ability to remove blemishes, make ourselves look tanner, crop parts out of photos, etc. There is an endless list of possible transformations that a photo can go through. I am not saying that I am against this because I personally love editing my pictures as well as changing the color scheme from plain color to black and white, sepia or enhanced colors, but there is just a lot that can be done with photos today. I decided to try out the photo editing website Picnik that was presented in the technology presentation last week.

I adjusted the saturation and contrast, applied a 1960s effect and blurred the outside of the photo except the focal point of tomatos.

Technology Project – Annotating – Joe Elliot and Dana Narens

For our technology presentation, we looked into various annotating tools that are available to us online. We were both only really familiar with RefWorks before we started our research. RefWorks provides a simple way to organize all of your citations and you can also import sources from Mirlyn and Google Scholar. The site can be accessed through the U of M library website, lib.umich.edu, but you will still need to create a user name and password. You will also need to know your school code. After that, you can create a bookmark for the site and then you just have to log in.  To go to RefWorks click the following link: http://bit.ly/p9RT6E For many of the sources that can be viewed through “M Get It” or Google Scholar, there is a “export to refworks” source button that will automatically import the source’s citation into your account.

Above is an example of RefWorks.

 

  • SIDE NOTE: For those of you who do not know about Google Scholar, it is a great substitute for the U of M provided Mirlyn. In order to change your settings, click the small gear in the top right-hand corner and you can specify which libraries that you want Google Scholar to search. For the majority of our purposes, setting it to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor library would probably be the most practical.

Another innovative annotating site is Zotero, which can be downloaded for free from http://www.zotero.org/. “Zotero collects all your research in a single, searchable interface. You can add PDFs, images, audio and video files, snapshots of web pages, and really anything else. Zotero automatically indexes the full-text content of your library, enabling you to find exactly what you’re looking for with just a few keystrokes” (Zotero website homepage). Another great feature is that you can easily convert from MLA to APA format automatically with just the click of a button.

Once you create an account, you can access your library from virtually anywhere! You can also add notes to anything that you add to your Zotero library, which is especially helpful for those who are writing multiple papers at a time.

This short YouTube click gives a brief demonstration of how to start using Zotero.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43-Ue6AuNrg&feature=related

We have also provided a link to Harvard Kennedy School’s Library and Knowledge Service’s YouTube channel, so that if anyone wants further information, it can be easily accessible. http://www.youtube.com/user/hkslibrary

Lastly, we looked at EndNote, which is available on all university computers. It is a paid version of Zotero, so it cannot be used on personal computers unless you subscribe to the service. If you chose to use EndNote, there is an “export to Endnote” button that is available on many online sources.

Dove Campaign For Real Beauty

Since I have been lacking on my blog posts, I decided to write a post to give myself some inspiration for the second draft of Essay #2. I am writing my paper on how popular culture sets an impossible thin-ideal for women to try to live up to. Advertisements in magazines and on television are full of beautiful 6 foot tall, 100 pound models who consequently make the average American women feel inadequate. Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty created a video that exposes what actually goes into making up a model for a photoshoot for an advertisement. I embedded the video in this post, so that everyone can check it out. Even if this topic doesn’t appeal to you, this is an interesting video to watch.   Dove Evolution Commercial

Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty

 

Show Your Personality

One of my favorite websites is fashion and cooking blog Cupcakes and Cashmere. This site is a great example of a lucrative and creative blog. The site’s author, Emily, provides insights into the latest trends as well as provides how-to guides for many DIY hair and makeup styles and fashions. She also provides her readers with easy and adorable recipes for both food and beverages. I particularly admire her site because it encompasses the author’s personal style and personality. It maintains a classy, organized feminine feel and the perfect ratio of photos and text. One thing that I do not enjoy about particular sites is if there is too much of either. Click the photo featuring Emily modeling a September 2011 Fall look to check out her site cupcakesandcashmere.com.

September 2011 Outfit Trends

A second inspiration for my eportfolio is the blog “Kiss The Groom” by wedding photographer Elizabeth Messina. This blog emphasizes love; love for husband and wife, love for families, and love for life. Her layout is a little bit more unique than my first example and shows the author’s artistic and creative abilities. Again, this site is nicely organized and easy to navigate.

http://www.kissthegroom.com/

I am a big pop culture junkie, so my third inspiration is a little bit unrealistic to model for this class. PerezHilton.com, the one-stop shop for celebrity gossip. Perez and his team are always on top of their game, getting Hollywood’s news first and exploiting it in anyway he deems hilarious. This site is again, easy to navigate and organized and it also has different tabs to go to various pages with different content. A good idea for the layout of an eportfolio would be possibly dividing each genre of writing onto a separate page in order to further organize my work. Click the picture to check out PerezHilton.com.

Perez's personality shine through not only through his site, but with his crazy hair

On a more serious note, my fourth inspiration is The New York Times website. I like that the website maintains a newspaper style, making the transition from print to web a little bit easier for older generations to adjust to. This site is easy to navigate and works just like you’re holding a paper. You can “flip” through the different articles and pick and choose different pages (links) of the paper to go to.

The link I am providing to the site is a link to the article highlighting Steve Job’s incredible life and achievements. He lost his battle with cancer today at the young age of only 56.  His impact on the world, such as inventing the computer mouse as well as building Apple into the empire it is today will never be forgotten.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/business/steve-jobs-of-apple-dies-at-56.html?_r=1&hp

Lastly, my fifth inspirational website is “The Everywhereist’s Travel Blog,” which was selected as on of Time Magazine’s Top 25 blogs. This blog catalogs the travels of the author as she travels around the world with her husband for work. She originally started blogging because she got laid off and went with him on his trips. This blog is a reminder of her adventures and a treasure for the world to read. She archives her work by month and year and maintains a clean, organized layout.

Where are you going? 🙂

Words Speak Louder Than Actions – Reaction to Ong

After reading the Ong piece, “The Technologizing of the World,” I was stuck pondering how people ever remembered anything before the written word. Before writing, after an event or interaction happened, if no one remembered the instance, did it really happen? There were oral records, but this required individuals to remember certain instances. Since it is clearly not possible to remember every moment of every day, how did one choose what was deemed important to remember? Personally, there are times when I cannot even remember what I ate for dinner the night before; let alone remember an entire lecture from a professor. It was a hard, almost abstract concept for me to grasp.

I had never thought of writing as a technology because it is second nature to me. Since I was a child, writing was internalized into my life. Whether I was doodling letters that I had just learned in kindergarten or stringing a few sentences together to tell a “story” about a picture I drew, I was writing. Most people know the cliche, “actions speak louder than words,” but when it comes to remembering something, to making something that happened in the past a permanent fixture of all futures, words actually speak louder than actions.

For example: A famous public figure, let’s say, a president, gives a speech to the citizens of his country, the things that he says and the gestures he shows affect the people who are there listening to him speak; They hear his words, they react to his opinions and thoughts, they form their own opinions and thoughts. But, what happens after this said president dies? What happens to his spoken words? Without written word, no one can hear those words of the past now. The citizens present at his speech has have taken away an idea or two or even three, but what if they did not understand the context of what he was actually trying to say? They have nothing to reference now, but their own memories or the memories of others.

Click picture to read an interesting article about memory

You could argue that the impact the words live on, but there are no words for further analysis. There is no way to remember life at that exact moment. The written word allows us to place ourselves at a different point in time and form evidence-based views and opinions on the context of the words. It is natural that humans will all eventually die, but with the technology of the written words, our thoughts, beliefs and opinions can possibly live forever.

Writing Out Loud

I chose to title this post “Writing Out Loud” because, to me, blogging feels like the writer is talking out loud and sharing something with you. In its unconventional nature, it allows a sort of conversation to occur between writer and reader.

Blogging has always been a genre of writing that I have struggled with. I don’t know if it is just because I am a perfectionist and I want my writing to reflect that or if I am afraid of fully exposing myself to the World Wide Web. I really enjoyed reading Andrew Sullivan’s article “Why I Blog” because it opened my eyes to many aspects of the “blogging” genre. The instantaneous nature of blogging requires a successful author to not only be open to criticism, but also to interact with his/her readers. The commenting feature of blogs allows anyone and everyone to be your “editor.”

Sullivan points out an important difference between a log and a book and that is “as you read a log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you more forward in pages…” This was something that I never thought about. A log or in this case, a blog, has an unknown ending because it is catalog history as it happens. This history may just be the writer’s feelings, but it may also be actual monumental events. Sullivan points out how blogs allow writer and reader to experience these events together. He mention how his readers and him experienced 9/11 together, “in real time.”

I think this friendship and/or shared experience that blogging allows between writer and reader is what is the most transforming aspect of this genre. Now, instead of reading a magazine or newspaper article and forming your own opinion, you can share that opinion with the writer. And, the writer will actually respond to you. Blogs allow for the writer to feel like an intimate friend opposed to a distant public figure. Personality is the aspect I find most rewarding about blogging. Unlike ever before, the voice of the author can be easily heard because there are no editors telling you to edit your voice.

The Reason Why “I” Write

The main idea of my essay discussing how each individual has a different reason for writing. It also distinguishes between the need to write and the desire to write. The difference between the two is extremely important to point out because a lot of people write, but most people do not consider themselves writers. I point out why I write is drastically different than why one of my roommates who is a pre-med student writes. She writes to explain facts, yet I write to get a message across, to share my emotions and my thoughts. As I mentioned in my previous post, I wish to emulate authors who have a powerful narrator and create some form of emotional transformation for the reader. I wish for my audience to be able to either sympathize or empathize with my writing, whether they agree with it or not. Being able to understand and appreciate other people’s view points, beliefs and ideas is my primary reason for reading and I think the opposite is my primary reason for writing. I wish to emulate J.D. Salinger in The Catcher and The Rye, Stephen Chbosky in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (who actually tried to emulate Salinger with his first novel), and Jonathan Safran Foer in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. All these novels have strong first person narrators who convey the emotions of the hardships of growing up.

 

Why I Write – 9/8/11

I found both perspectives of “Why I Write” touched home with me, yet in different ways. George Orwell mentions that he started to write because he was lonely as a child and would make up stories. Although as a child I was lucky enough to never feel particularly “alone,” I spent the greater majority of my childhood making up interesting stories. Even as a young child I always was looking to entertain. I wanted to be the center of attention and in order to do so, I always had something interesting to share with my “audience.” Both Orwell and Didion mention having a way with words and enjoying the way they sound when strung together in a specific way. This is something that I first felt with the spoken word. It was only as I matured that I began to realize that I found even more enjoyment with the written word. Orwell mentions “four great motives for writing,” which he believes that every writer has to some degree. I agree with the first three at face value the way he describes them, but the way Orwell describes the fourth motive, Political Purpose, stood out to me. It is important to point out that the “politics” Orwell speaks of are not just politics in the sense of government, the way we would normally or instinctively think of politics, but the whole politics of society. People write to share and most times persuade people to understand their view points and opinions. If I think of politics in this way, I believe this is my main motive for why I write.