Meditating on remediating

I am very excited to begin working on my remediation project! The topic of my first project had to do with the nature of perfection in the arts and how the idea of ‘being perfect’ can be damaging to students. For the remediation, I plan on making a podcast that contains interviews with various SMTD professors.

I chose to interview professors over students because I would like to add another layer of “proof” to my argument; that is, when students hear from their own professors (who are all accomplished, fufilled individuals) that mistakes and instances of imperfect aren’t just okay, but sometimes necessary. This will not only provide comfort for my audience, but also bolster my own ethos (and the ethos of my piece?).

The two models for my source come from my educational/intellectual radio station of choice: NPR. The first model is the radio show This American Life. This American Life is an episodic radio show. Each episode follows a theme and includes a variety of narratives, essays, and even comedy routines that correspond with that theme. I love This American Life because of the way it ties seemingly disparate subjects together and the intimate way the show presents them (interviews, personal testimonies, etc.). Ira Glass is pretty cool too.

My other model is a specific episode from the radio show Fresh Air with host Terry Gross. The episode features alt-pop singer/pianist Regina Spektor. The interview is very personal and feels more like a conversation than a formal recording. Spektor outlines her life story, basically, and talks about how her past influences her present musical composition. I’m going for a similar tone in my interviews, although it may be a more formal because I am talking to my professors.

The process of the remediation project definitely won’t be easy, but I’m excited to get started!

Persisting Through Irrelevancy: A look at Myspace

I was too young to experience the hype surrounding Myspace during the early 2000s. I really only experience myspace through an ironic, joking lens. I actually probably couldn’t tell you the rhetorical purpose of myspace if you asked me right now. Is it a music sharing website? Is is a social networking site? Is it a place to post poetry about the dark spaces in your heart and your Naruto fanart?

I do know that, despite the confusing purpose of myspace, it continues to exist. Not only that, but it is still changing. There are graphic designers working to improve a website that, for the most part, is irrelevant. Why keep changing? Does this change help make poor old myspace hip again?


The New Myspace

We can glean a few things from this revamping. It would seem that myspace has clarified its purpose and narrowed its intended audience in recent years, gearing more towards musicians and music listeners. The site also functions more like a blog with social networking capabilities, instead of a site used primarily for social networking.

The evolution of myspace, however underhyped it may be, is a prime example of the flexibility of the digital rhetorical situation. The fluid nature of the Internet allows authors to readjust their purpose and exigence of their project with relative ease. On the flip side, once a project has been branded or established a certain reputation it is incredibly difficult to change/shed that image.


I really like to pretend that I’m a smart, successful, tweed-wearing British intellectual when I write my papers. This mentality has rarely been successful in reality, and generally that well-dressed, intellectual British professor-man is tossed out with run on sentences and redundant statements.

My first attempt at my draft was very much rooted in this British-professor-man style, and it was horrendous. I was unbelievably frustrated at the clunkiness of my words and the lack of clarity in my message. I also spilled Chai latte all over my laptop while writing it, so that didn’t help.

So, when I revisited my draft, I rewrote the whole thing from scratch in an entirely different tone. I attempted to emulate the thoughtful, consistent voices I had read in various New Yorker articles. I stopped trying to connect my ideas to grandiose metaphors and other figurative language. I didn’t use any words that would give the reader pause. My aim was clarity.

I felt so much better about my second attempt at the draft. The whole thing was much more readable thanks to simpler diction, a steady rhythm of simple, compound, and complex compound sentences (my favorite). Hopefully some of that translates to my readers!

Research and ethos

I am truly pumped to delve into my subject, the nature of ‘being good’ and talent in the performing arts realm, but I’m at a bit of an impasse in regards to research. It’s difficult to devise a paper championing the validity of everyone’s talent and skill when you also have cultivate your own ethos.

I am currently torn between two different styles of writing for this project. One style is the more objective, news-story based style of the Atlantic. The other style mimics the creative nonfiction-y, less structured style of pieces found in The New Yorker. Both have a number of pros and cons and both would be a lot of fun to write. With the New Yorker style article, I could derive more of the piece from my own experiences. But, in a weird way, I feel like that’s kind of cheating. In all of the hard hitting, longstanding articles I have read that have commented on current social issues there are a variety of sources utilized, rounding out the argument. Yet, shouldn’t my experiences be enough? Isn’t that what I’m arguing anyway: that you should be able to feel valid in your art without lots of awards and accolades? This train of thought has me feeling kind of like this:


I have had some success with finding more empirical articles thanks to the resources at the music library. Turns out there’s a pretty large amount of academic journals dedicated to the study and practice of music! However, this could limit my audience, something I’m particularly concerned about. I’ve also had some success with TED talks, which I did not expect. I’ve never thought of using a video as a source for a paper, but I’ve found certain talks on genius and creativity  in a general sense that correspond nicely with my topic.

As I begin to outline (my favorite thing to do), I hope to clarify the style I’m going to emulate for this project. Who knows, maybe I’ll come up with my own funky, pseudo – academic, emotionally riveting type of article that will convey my exact thoughts and feelings.



Defining better

The exigence for my project stems from every hour spent in a practice room, agonizing over the minutest quarter tone, wishing I could have anyone else’s voice. All the while, questions repeat like a bad refrain in my head: How do I compare? How do I sound to them? Will I ever get to the point where I can sound like (insert name here)? Will I ever get better? Will I ever be good? Will I ever be best?

My topic for the repurposing project has to do with the concept of “better” in regards to the performing arts, particularly music. I believe the concept of ‘better’ and what makes an artist ‘good’ is subjective and flexible. There are a myriad of artists in the world, all with their own ‘better’ or ‘good’ way, and they exist simultaneously. Young artists can and should look up to established professionals in their field, but keep in mind that the path they are making for themselves in one that is their own version of good.

I am trying to structure my project like an Atlantic article. Naturally, when looking for sources, I headed to the Atlantic website first. I ended up searching for articles that had to do with the nature of talent, because that seemed a little more concrete than “the nature of good”.

The article is called What is Talent? by David Shenk. Shenk’s article is centered around the rebuttal of an article with an opposing viewpoint. Shenk argues that talent and genius are more complex than “you’ve got it or you don’t”, contrary to the WSJ Article. As a result, Shenk’s audience comes off as more audience addressed rather than invoked. This seems to limit the number of people who would read Shenk’s article, which I am not aiming for in my project.

The genre reads more like an op-ed piece than most Atlantic articles. The context is a little difficult to establish here for some reason. It almost seems to connect with exigence a bit. The tension between these two writers sparked the article (exigence) and informs the tone and what is address in Shenk’s article (context) (or maybe vice versa?). The rhetorical situation Shenk established with audience is his biggest constraint as well, seeing as the Atlantic already has a specific niche of readers. Narrowing down that niche even more could be viewed as unhelpful.

As someone who is still grappling with the concept of rhetorical situation, I find mapping very helpful. Each component acts as a part of the “rhetorical situation” as a whole, making the entire idea of it a bit easier to digest and understand as opposed to attempting to encompassing the meaning of “RHETORICAL SITUATION” into one definition.

All Songs Considered

I’m going to preface this blog post by saying that I do have other interests besides music! I swear! I know I keep bringing it up in examples, but I am capable of thinking of other things!

That being said, the blog I chose is called All Songs Considered. It is an offshoot of National Public Radio and covers current musical artists, issues surrounding the industry, and offers musical reviews. This blog is interesting because it utilizes a variety of forms to reach its audience. There are ‘traditional’ articles, op ed pieces, and advice columns. There is also a radio broadcast of the show on the weekends (also called “All Songs Considered”) and an archive of interviews and podcasts on the website. The most notable – and my personal favorite – aspect of “All Songs” is the “Tiny Desk” concert series. Various artists come and perform for Bob Boilen, host of “All Things Considered”, at his desk (located in his office, which has enormous bookshelves full of books you wish you were cool enough to read). The concerts rarely last more than 30 minutes and feature artists like BanksDiego El CigalaLeon Bridges, and (most awesomely) T – Pain.

The wonderful thing about “All Songs” is the breadth of music it covers. Yes, there are a lot of hipster-y, neo-folk, ambient pop artists and albums that are covered. But, the writers at “All Songs” treat artists like Macklemore and Pink Flyod without a hint of irony or blasé. I have yet to encounter a review that oozes the amount of pretentiousness that competing music blogs display. Although All Songs is definitely aware of their target audience (articles entitled “Songs that Make Us Cry” and “How Can Parents Make Time for Music?” pepper the main feed), their genuinely informative, fun writing style and unpretentious, varied presentation of a myriad of music styles and artists make it a great blog option for any music lover.

(Included are some random tracks from my own music library in attempt to mirror the wide range found on All Songs Considered)



Consumption, Communication, and Creation

I had never even entertained the thought of reading and writing as two mutually exclusive activities until I read Deborah Brandt’s article “The Status of Writing”. For a long time, I assumed the act of writing was dependent on the act of reading. Brandt acknowledges this in her article multiple times, often pointing towards the economical value of writing based on the breadth and prestige of is readership. Yet, Brandt’s article and our discussion caused me to rethink writing, reading, and the connection between the two.

Brandt emphasized the stigma of control, moral value, and protection of the consumer while examining the reader. It seemed that Brandt felt that the writer, at least in our society today, was subservient to the reader. Of course, we know from our discussion and our gallery that, as a society, we write just as much as we read (if not more) due to social media and workplace writing. I feel as though that shift towards literate equilibrium redefines writing from something that derives its value from readership to something that is utterly necessary for survival in the modern world. To write is to be.

The old idea that authors were dusty old men holed up in mahogany studies is disappearing. Writing is no longer an esoteric pastime of the elite. Our class is an example of the diversity writing fosters: all sorts of majors and ages elected to take on a concentration in writing. The ideas of writing are as varied as writers themselves. Even the definition of communication, perhaps the most basic goal of writing (or is it?), differs from writer to writer.

One of the most wonderful things I read in Brandt’s article was the series of quotations on page 157 from various subjects in Brandt’s study. To see the positive effect writing had on people who may not even consider themselves writers was especially heartening. It further proves that writing is a universal form of creative expression that can be used by bank tellers and college professors alike.  I feel as though those quotations reflect the goals I have for the minor. Precision, thoughtfulness, and clarity are all things I would like to achieve in both my writing and myself.