Truth About Writing

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this semester, it’s writing about truth. Writing about what’s real, and making it the best evidence a writer can have to substantiate her claims. In this ePortfolio, it’s a compilation of a lot of original content, which I value a lot in being able to take away from this class.

More than ever, I want to continue to grow my ability to create a message that lasts, both professionally and creatively, in all senses. I’m definitely not playing around with my writing. To articulate in shorter, more concise sentences. To be more honest on what I hate, and what I like. That being said, I hope I can add a lot more original content that will prove to readers the value of writing has for everyone, and the value it has for me as a skillset to forever hone to this ePortfolio all the way to the capstone.

https://www.katherineqiao.com/

Social Media Stories

In the span of the 7 years since 2010 when I first opened my Facebook profile, I have not made a single extended post. On the other hand, like everyone else, I’ve seen my fair share of the self-inspiring, reflective blog-like statements. Personally, I think they’re actually more interesting than the quick selfies, indignant one-sentence status updates, or endless meme tags (which, as much as I find them amusing, it’s only for a split second). Maybe it’s because the big load of text looks more like a story that it catches my eye more easily. Though, I know that’s the majority opinion for people, but these kinds of long, introspective posts are becoming more and more ubiquitous.

 

Requirements of a Facebook Post:

Have an attention-grabbing first sentence: If you’re flipping through Facebook newsfeed, presumably on a phone, you need something that screams for attention under your thumb. Stop. Click on the blue, See More to hunt for something a little bit more contemplative. And usually it is.

Example #1: “Freshman year wasn’t what I was hoping for and it wasn’t what I expected.”See More

You click, and there’s the rest of the story. If you want your friends to notice your monologue, you better have something to tie them down amongst all the memes and other not-so-special snowflakes littered in social media.

 

Know that it’s very, very public: This is a key difference between a Facebook post and the more formal writing settings I’ve worked in up till now. With essays or short stories, the audience always ends up being people who inevitably seek it for themselves to some extent: professors grading my papers, poetry and fiction enthusiasts who pick up literary journals where I’m published in, people who like reading blogs that I’ve contributed to. In essence, they’re interested based on the subject, and genre of the work I’m doing.

But now look at Facebook. Assuming I’m not a celebrity with a bookmarked public profile, my audience is simply anyone who has taken the grace of FB friending me. Some of these people are high school friends who haven’t seen me in years. Some are old middle school teachers. Some are people in my Tue-Thur ACC 301 class. My audience is characterized by my network, not so much by their interests.

Rather, they’re more characterized by mine, by which communities and spaces I’ve chosen to engage in. So I need to know that, in being open with my opinions of stereotypes of the people around me, it’s subject to the judgment of all those whom I’ve ever said a passing hello to on the Ann Arbor streets, back home in Troy, or have had the deepest heart-to-heart low-key therapy sessions in the car with.

Do I care about them?
Yes.
Especially if it’s something personal about my life.
Which it is.

Especially if the opinions I voice are about the people I see every day. I need to tread carefully, for risk of offending them. Depending on how much I care, that is, again.

I had a friend who came out as bisexual on Facebook last year. At the time, one late evening, I was doing homework, had fallen asleep at my desk, then woke up to blindly scroll through newsfeed. Then I see the his post through half-blurry vision. “Obligatory Social Media Post About A Closet:…”

Example #2. Also with an interesting opening sentence. And subject to the opinions of his family, relatives, friends (old, new, and those flirting the gray areas between acquaintance, okay friend, and confidante), and any other random person he’d allowed his profile viewable to.

Knowing that, I have to know that in a Facebook post, I have to be cognizant of what people might think, (or what I don’t care what they think). It’s directly tied to my image among people at my level. Personable. Real. Direct.

 

Be candid: Again. Be personable. The people you address in a thoughtful Facebook post are people you may see on the streets in an hour or two. If you falsify yourself, there is always someone who knows that you lied. That it’s a façade. Granted that social media is already a melting pot of 75% fakeness anyways, with the prettiest things at the top of the page earning 50+ likes and the most boring scattered among the memes with 1-2 likes each.

The ugliest also get a lot of attention, but again, they come up in these kinds of posts often. That’s the kind of relatability that garners a lot of likes, loves, reacts, etc. too, depending on how you word it.

Example #3: “SINCE everyone has something to say or jokes to make from ill-informed people or reading past statuses without asking questions. Maybe because you think you know something about me or just want to live in ignorance…”

Calling out other people’s BS is always one kind of “ugly” that I can respect. Hats off to you, #3.

 

Have a conclusive, What now?: To finish off, you want to sound completed by the end of it. You need something that says to all the random readers of your life, yes, I got a motive for posting this to the social media realm. With me, perhaps I receive the satisfaction that by calling out to the people whom know me, the people who are immersed in the exact environments and stereotypes in cultures I speak of, I’d tell them honestly a truth, just mine. Not fact, but just an opinion. Or if I don’t have quite a definitive positive ending, I can complete it by admitting my incompleteness, my unsureness of the future or how that affects my days going forward. In that sense, I have another kind of conclusion.

“I don’t know what’ll happen after this…But I know that I’ll be searching for new things. And I will be okay.”

 

Proposal: For my experiment, I want to attempt writing a Facebook post of my experiences going through different communities while in college, in a rather objective way. Kind of like an extra short critique of the kinds of stereotypes I see in each space I’m familiar with (business, art), and where I see myself personally fitting in with it, and where I feel the distance. Conclusively, I want to make a statement on whether I feel, at the end of the day, if it is okay that I don’t fit in any place completely. Hopefully, other people can relate to that reality.

Art Essay

I love black and white Chinese ink landscape painting. I started learning in 6th grade, bringing in years of sketching, drawing, acrylic painting, and digital design. But because it is dark ink on feathery thin rice paper, the water and ink liquid bleeding through the material, you can’t redo anything. Not like with drawing and acrylic. There’s no CTRL Z. So you make every mark count.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in this 2nd experiment, I want to explore encapsulating my theme, people-watching in different settings, through visuals. While there isn’t necessarily an existing convention for this genre, I’ll give this a shot.

The art essay will incorporate both a visual and a written description.
Because this genre incorporates multiple mediums, I’ll set the standard to a visual paired with a short, mini-essay I’ll call it, about what I observe in this setting, and what I believe that says about the general stereotypes present. For instance, I want to focus on different areas of U-M: Business, Art, Engineering, Pre-Med, and the like. I have varied levels of knowledge of being personally a part of these environments. Taking what I’ve observed about the types of personalities there, and as well as the stereotypes often swimming around in conversation and embodied in the cultures, I want to reflect that in the visual (a photo, a sketch drawing, collage).

The art essay will have a disclaimer of viewpoints:
I plan to state in what lenses I’m speaking from, i.e. as a business major myself, or an artist in LHSP. Or simply an observer with many friends in Engineering, to state what level of credibility I hope to reflect. Together, I hope it’ll be a compilation of both art and writing that works succinctly in capturing the audience of both people interested in the visual and written word.

The art essay involves two modes to view.
Because it breaks up the trend of just one form, an art essay provides variety in the modes reflected, filling the halves that each of the forms lacks, and the other possesses. Art has the picture, the details set in the details of the 2-D screen. Yet there are no words, no voiced explanation from the creator itself. On the other hand, writing has the words, and the words are the only vehicle that readers can utilize to create some picture in their head. By pairing them, I hope to capture both sides, a fuller image of what I see in the people around me, and what that says about how we socialize in cultural norms, stereotypes, and trends within the scope of personal observation.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean that I’m an expert by any means.

Multimodal Communication for Creators

I used to love making presentations, Prezi presentations in particular. My first was for an assignment analyzing a lyrical poem about broken love and how to mourn it. I went picture by picture, each “screen” dictating a certain poetic quality (allegories, metaphors, sonnet rhyme, AABBAA ABA etc.) I conveyed the linguistic mode, capturing all information that needed to be written and spoken to the class for the purposes of the five-minute-long presentation. In the scope of each small screen, the class only saw the important parts of the subjects I needed to cover for the English class assignment. Prezi takes advantage of the spatial mode; the fact that I can move from slide to slide wherever I please gives me freedom in how I want to set up movement throughout the presentation. The “travelling” from one screen to the next seemed completely random. But at the end, I zoomed out, and the shape of a large broken heart came into view, constructed by each of the content “slides” deliberately arranged so. Not only did the words involved relate to the subject at hand, but the design scheme itself embodied the theme I wanted to make clear in my project.

Multimodal calls in a variety of ways to express an idea, and this is apparent in all corners of the world, not just in the “designated” creative spaces. In the end, it is people you communicate to, pitch an idea to win their favor. There’s no one right way to do that through expression; in the same line of thinking, there’s no one wrong way either.

 

 

Business cards are often multimodal. Everyone, from the potential recruiter to the U-M Alumni Association cares about how polished your professional card looks, because a successful one speaks to your professional image. It conveys the linguistic aspect because it gives all the important information: name, title, notable positions, year, contact info, website links, etc. It tells the receiver of the card who the card’s subject is from a single few concise lines. Moreover, the visual mode plays a large role. The design must be good, eye-catching, and clean. Majorly, it shouldn’t be overcrowded that it distracts them from the actual information given. I noticed the professional layout of the Alumni Association’s cards, as well as many of the professional designs online, and my own card. They’re all different; the Alumni Association’s speaks to the University of Michigan’s brand name, the cards I found online went for geometrically-pleasing simplicity. Mine, more on the artistic side, went for black and white.

 

I lived in Hong Kong over the summer, where I got to live within the hot, crowded city bustle of subways, buses, and people walking over crossways in morning commutes. People struggled to get through gateways of the subways, pushing and shoving themselves, no “standing in line” etiquette involved, all to save a matter of a couple of seconds. The photo I included is a picture is a couple sitting next to each other on a crowded subway. The lady is looking at her phone, while the man beside her is studying diligently some piece of board or mechanism, presumably with some interesting text or other detail on it. He peers over to her, and yet she barely pays attention to him. By the visual mode, it’s a likely assumption that they are a couple. The telling details of her looking at a phone and him studying some appliance is also visual description. By the gestural mode, their differing facial expressions, hers of uninterested and his of inquisitive, tell of their general dynamic as a pair, as well as the greater trend of electronics stealing people’s attention whenever there’s a free moment or not. I see this apparent in the many people surrounding, all of whom are equally absorbed in their devices. The spatial mode plays a role in the entire Hong Kong city environment, and thus the proximity that the picture finds the couple in.

 

My last example, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” music video, incorporates all five types of modes. Her music video tells a story, where she makes fun of all of the people who’ve ever trashed her in media back. She incorporates all the stories, including that of of her ex-boyfriend and her revealed pen name on a gravestone, representing how that image she portrayed is now dead. She parodies other celebrities who’ve she’s come into conflict with, subtly pointing out the awards they lack that she holds claim to in ways that are visually extravagant and flashy. In these instances and more, she makes commentary on each of these, including parodying herself in all the various innocent and pure images that she’s ever played in her earlier years as an artist. Moreover, there is linguistic mode where she consistently uses analogies and colorful words to describe each of these stories. “Tilted stage”, “I don’t like your kingdom keys / They once belonged to me”, “You ask me for a place to sleep / Locked me out and threw a feast” all have a lyrical quality that plays on her storytelling ability to say something that is musically catchy. Woven into this is the aural mode, where, given that the video features a song, the background music substantiates the words that she says. Moreover, there is deliberate haunted quality to the first 30 seconds of the music video, where the story begins in a gravestone, contributing to the overall video image. Throughout, the gestural and spatial modes are represented well with the dancing segments, “I couldn’t care less” facial expressions she and the others present hold, where she pretends to take on each of the horrid images that the media has created of her.

Multimodal expression creates limitless avenues for greater communication, depending on the method used and the audience targeted. Overall, it is very much up to the writer, the artist, or creator to choose their way wisely with what modes they wish to explore and combine, so that they may convey their messages in the best way possible to their viewers.