Capstone Portfolio & Project

My capstone portfolio houses work that I have done throughout the Sweetland Minor in Writing. I view it as a disparate continuation of my gateway portfolio. While my capstone portfolio does include a link to my gateway portfolio, I very consciously decided to keep these two portfolios separate. I identify more with my recent works, but I also acknowledge that my past works (however cringe worthy) have helped to shape my current identity as a writer. On my capstone portfolio, I explore this idea more thoroughly in my writer’s evolution essay.

Of all the works showcased on my capstone portfolio, I am most proud of my capstone project—a blog/online educational resource duo that documents my journey to culturally conscious global eating. Here’s a teaser:

My journey to culturally conscious global eating began the moment that I tried Cold Skin (“Liang Pi“) Noodles for the first time. It was during the summer of 2016 at Biang! restaurant in New York City, and let me tell you, it was love at first bite. The tangy, salty, sour, and slightly spicy sauce that coated the noodles was intensely flavorful yet subtle and delicate at the same time. The noodles were cool, chewy, and refreshing. The intermittent pieces of seitan throughout the dish acted as sponges, soaking up the chili oil and providing sporadic additional bursts of flavor. It was unlike any Chinese food that I had ever experienced, and I had just spent the last four months studying abroad in Hong Kong and traveling throughout Shanghai, Beijing, and Yunnan. Fueled by the Cold Skin Noodles, my mind ran wild with questions: Why didn’t I come across this dish during my travels? What is it that makes this dish so special? Are there any other traditionally vegan Chinese dishes out there?  

I ate Cold Skin Noodles at Biang! restaurant many more times that summer, which satisfied my hunger but not my curiosity. I felt compelled to research the dish and to learn its story. A quick Google search revealed to me that Cold Skin Noodles are native to the Chinese city of Xi’an, which is the capital of the Shaanxi province. There, they are commonly consumed as street food, starkly juxtaposing the modern sit-down interior that I had encountered at Biang! restaurant. However, this was the only information that I could find about Cold Skin Noodles on Google. 

As someone who was raised keeping kosher before ultimately becoming vegan, I have always had to be mindful of the things that I eat, inquiring about ingredients and preparation methods. It was not until this experience that I realized how mindless I actually am when it comes to understanding the historical origins of and cultural contexts surrounding the things that I eat. Inspired by this realization as well as my frustrations with Google’s inability to provide answers to all of my questions, I enrolled in a course offered at the University of Michigan called Asian 258: Food and Drink of Asia. 

I invite you to join me, a vegan millennial and lover of all things ethnic food, as I embark on my journey to culturally conscious global eating! 

If you decide to explore any of my works, I suggest my capstone project. Let me know, what elements did you find the most compelling? Was there anything that you hoped I would expand on? As the reader, what did you think of the blog formatting?

Writing Communities — Equity Research Reports and My Journal

Hi all!

I’m a senior here at Michigan, majoring in business and minoring in writing. One writing community that I am a part of (or that I will become a part of after graduation) is the equity research writing community. What does that mean? It means I’ll be looking at both quantitative and qualitative factors to analyze stocks, come up with valuations, and then ultimately write reports about them. The audience for these reports are investors at various financial institutions, so my writing style is expected formal and to be to the point. This past summer, as an intern, I got a taste for this writing style. At first, I wasn’t used to this financial writing style. I wondered how writing so straightforward would capture anyone’s attention and keep them reading throughout the report, and I struggled to find the balance of how much detail to include. I was struggling because didn’t fully understand the how the audience (the investors) used the reports. Some would be interested in the company as a whole, and they might read the whole report. Others would be only interested in one specific business unit or how the company was reacting to trends in the industry, and they might just read a paragraph or two from the report. To easily find what they’re interested in, investors rely on headings and concise writing. Although this no-frills, equity research style of writing does not feel completely natural to me, it became easier to write in way once I understood why it was needed.

Another writing community that I am a part of is the community people who journal. This is possibly my favorite writing community that I am a part of… Or maybe, I should say that it is my favorite type of writing (because I don’t really interact with the “community”). I write about my days, my travels, and things that are bothering me or one mind. I write lists of things that I have to do, want to do, or things that I dream of one day doing. In this setting, my writings are both records and motivators. I am the audience, though sometimes, very rarely, I’ll choose to share bits and pieces. One challenge that I face in writing in my journal is consistency. There’s always so much to do in a day, and I find it challenging to set aside a few minutes to write.

To close, here’s where I’ll introduce myself a little bit more–what might I be doing for pleasure ahead of journaling? Cooking, reading (if you have any good recommendations for fiction, let me know!), listening to a podcast, watching New Girl, Modern Family, or Fresh Off the Boat, playing chess, hanging out with friends, taking a workout class…

I’m looking forward to getting to know you all throughout the semester.

 

Completing My ePortfolio

For me, a reflection on my ePortfolio is very much a reflection on this entire semester of Writing 220. So what stands out most to me? What should I include in this final blog post? Exigence. Throughout the course of the semester, defining my exigence has become more important to me. Let me explain. At first I thought specifically defining my exigence was unnecessary; I knew where I was going, so why write it down? I didn’t reaaaaaaaaally see the value. While working on my ePortfolio,  there came a time when I had to make a decision. The result of this decision, I knew, would effect the entire purpose of my ePortfolio.

The decision? I needed to make a decision about my “about me”. What I had written described me as a person, not as a writer. And the feedback that I had received from my peers was critical. My peers were looking for an “about me” that described who I am as a writer. Originally, I didn’t write this about me because I didn’t feel that it fit the purpose of my ePortfolio, but after receiving the feedback I was confused. Should I write about myself as a writer? Was that something my ePortfolio needed? I thought about this for a long time and couldn’t make a decision. Finally, I decided that maybe I should explore my project proposal to clear my mind. After rereading my proposal, my exigence was clear again. I was reminded of the role that I wanted my ePortfolio to play. And after this, I decided not to take the advice. I decided that my about me should not describe who I am as a write.

To me, my ePortfolio isn’t really for someone to get to know me as a writer. It’s more for someone to get to know me through my writing. Had I not had a clear purpose written in my proposal, I might have taken the feedback. It would have changed the entire frame of my ePortfolio. I’m happy with the decision I made. I’m happy with my “about me.” I’ve learned the importance of defining exigencies, and I plan to apply it across my coursework.

Dear Future Writing Minors…

Coming into Writing 220, there were so many things about the minor that I didn’t know. I knew I would be writing… that was about it. I wish someone had given me some advice–tips on what to expect. Here goes:

1. Know your exigence. Knowing why you’re writing whatever is it that you’re writing will make things so much easier in the long run. At first, I didn’t think this mattered that much. As long I had an idea of my purpose, why did I need to define each element of my reasoning? The thing is, if you change you’re struggling to move forward in a piece it helps to be able to look back on specifics. A vague idea won’t direct you further, so do yourself a favor and know your exigence.

2. Seek feedback. In Writing 220, there are required peer review sessions. Think about your peers tell you. I’m not saying their advice is always the right direction for your work, but hearing a new perspective can be inspiring. Further, I encourage you to seek feedback beyond these sessions. Is there a professor who might have a unique perspective? Is your roommate always brutally honest? After gathering feedback from various points of view, you’ll see the value. Seek feedback.

3. Write about things that excite you. Writing 220 is unique because of the level of freedom you will be given. You have the opportunity to explore about whatever! You can’t fake passion in your writing; if it’s not there, it’s not there. The act of writing will be easier if your topic interests you, and your interest will come through. With all this freedom why choose a blah topic? Write about things that excite you.

 

Best wishes,

Lia Salmansohn

E-Portfolio Other Writing

As I have been working more on my e-portfolio, the question of what I will use for my other writing section has been haunting me. I want to add writing that will further display my identity, but I legitimately do not know what else to include.  I’ve decided against history papers. They don’t say anything about me. For the same reason, I’ve also decided against psychology and sociology papers. I want my other writing section to further showcase me, not just other papers that I’ve written.

When I think about writing that showcases me, I think of my journal. But obviously my journal will not be making a debut on my e-portfolio. The papers that I wrote for English 125 come closer, but they still seem too personal to make so public.

There is one paper that I can think of that might work as other writing. I wrote it for English 125, but it incorporates a lot of themes from a sociology course on nationalism that I was also taking at the time. The paper basically compares patriotism and nationalism, arguing that they’re the same thing just with different connotations. The paper analyzes a few of my personal experiences with nationalism/patriotism, but overall it is rather academic. It’s personal too, but still probably more academic.

I think that I could use this paper in my other works section, but for it to work I would have to properly frame it with reflective writing. I also plan to include the paper that I repurposed in my other works section. For this paper too, reflective writing will be key to framing it’s inclusion on my e-portfolio.

A Commentary on Commentary

Clark’s article on digital imperative was one of those that forces the reader to self reflect. I mean, after reading detailed analysis of the general trends in digital writing, how could you not reflect on your own habits? I won’t bore you with the details of my self reflection.

What I found most interesting in Clark’s article was the bit on “marginalia”  aka commentary. Clark explains that with the development of new technologies, commentaries are going public. No longer confined to the notes scribbled in the margin of a book, blogging takes “marginalia” to a new level. Clark also noted that there is the possibility for these commentaries  to become more influential than their primary sources.

My thoughts? I agree and disagree. I don’t think that widespread commentaries are really all that new. Take the Talmud for example, an ancient Rabbinic commentary on the Torah. This commentary was widespread way before the 21st century.

I do see the Internet as a means of making less important commentaries more widespread. For example, had I only scribbled these thoughts in the margins of the article, no one would ever see them except me. But because I’m writing them on a blog post, it is possible for anyone to access these thoughts.

Yet, I can’t imagine these commentaries ever becoming more influential than their primary sources. By that I mean, I think digital commentaries that do become more influential than their primary sources would have also become more influential than their primary sources independent of digital technologies.

I believe that degree of influence comes from quality of writing and novelty of ideas, not from ease of transmission. What do you think?

Mock-Ups

A mock-up is supposed to be an outline for a media project. And this accurately describes my experience creating a mock-up for my remediation project. I got out a pen and paper. I thought about the exigence for the photo campaign that I decided I was going to create. And I got drawing. I mapped out what I wanted to take photos of, so that the photographs I include would evoke the necessary emotion. I’m no artist. My drawings are basic. But this wasn’t frustrating for me. I knew that when I took the photographs the mock-up would come to life.

Remediation Mock-Up

 

My e-portfolio mock-up experience was different. It wasn’t like I was creating an outline. I had started working on my e-portfolio without a mock-up. Clicking this to change that. I must have went through hundreds of changes before I came up with a design layout that fit with this exigence. I found that clicking around and having the changes manifest immediately was the best way for me to deliberate on a design. It was the best for me to begin an outline. Had I just created a mock-up for the first idea that came to mind, by the time I was actually editing online, my mock-up be present in my actual design. Getting the design just right was frustrating. It took so much time to make such insignificant changes, but I think it paid off. I am really happy with the “outline” I have created for my e-portfolio.

My e-portfolio mock-up

My digital e-portfolio mock-up

 

Overall, the two experiences were very different. I think that working with web design lends well to fooling around with the capabilities, then going back and creating an outline. Maybe this is just because I was unsure of the web design capabilities. Or maybe this is because the changes made within web design are instant, while the changes made within a photography require a lot to manifest. Regardless, the mock-ups have been proving helpful and I am glad we were required to use them.

Tech Challenge? Tech Desk

Today, I went to the UGLI in search of something. But unlike every other day, it wasn’t an open table on the third floor. I was searching for the Tech Desk. A magical place where computer savvy volunteers are just waiting to answer all of my Photoshop queries. But here’s the thing, I didn’t know the first thing about Photoshop. I didn’t have any specific queries. Photoshop was  (and maybe still is) one big question mark. So when I finally found the Tech Desk, a glass office space within first floor of the library, I was intimidated. I was scared that I would look stupid for not knowing. But I pushed my reservations aside.

Turns out the Tech Desk really is as great as it sounds. This one experience didn’t turn me into a Photoshop expert. Or intermediate. But I was shown some basic functions that I plan to use for my remediation project.

The Tester Photoshop Image I created

So what did I learn in order to create this masterpiece?

1. Layers are key. In Photoshop, every addition to the blank page gets it own layer. Each photo needs it own layer. Each text box needs it own layer. I’m not sure if this is exactly the reason, but I observed that the editing functions are applied by layer. To be able to edit pieces individually, they need to be own their own layer.

2. Eraser. To get the diagonal cut between images, I first inserted both images on different layers. Then used the eraser tool to clear out half of the top image that was covering the bottom image. I know the straight line is impressive. No I don’t just have really steady hands. I was taught that by holding the “shift” key and clicking from one point to another a perfectly straight line will materialize, connecting these points.

3. Text Tool. Inserting text was easy with the text tool. But I kept forgetting to add a new layer first, so I would need delete the text and start over on a new layer if I wanted to move the text around. What’s really cool, but not shown in this image, is that you can add text on a curve. How? Create a new layer. Click the path tool to craft desired squiggled line. Then type.

Overall, I feel like I learned a lot. But then I think about things and I realize there is so much more to Photoshop that I am not even aware is possible. If I’m still getting frustrated about forgetting to add a new layer, I can’t even imagine what a professional would get frustrated by. In short, I will definitely be back to the Tech Desk.

Digital Rhetoric

It seems a little weird to be writing a blog post analyzing an example of digital rhetoric. While you read, are you just going to analyze this digital rhetoric? As I write, I wonder if I should I be more focused on rhetoric devices of my own blog posts. Well here goes.

The digital rhetoric of an Elite Daily post:

Elite Daily website screenshot.
Elite Daily website screenshot.

What do we see here?

We see a title that includes the reader in the claim. This indicates a very casual style. Like talking to a friend. This style is enhanced by the direct connection to social media. Above the image I see 11 ways to share this article with my friends. On the image I see the option to “Pin it.” And underneath the image, I see all my Facebook friends that “like” Elite Daily. The connection to social media furthers the friendly, casual style. It makes the writing feel more familiar. It feels closer to me because I have the ability to share it verbatim.

And the photo above. This is also digital rhetoric. The photos speak. The  photo shown in this screenshot speaks to a modern generation. A younger generation. My mom uses a lot of the apps included in this article, but this article does not speak to her. The digital rhetoric makes this very clear.

At the very bottom of the article is a comments section. This leaves a space for anyone to speculate. To create their own post with a different digital rhetoric. Unique to their needs. Unique to the idea they want to get across.

. . .

What do you think?

 

Writing Together

For another one of my classes, I am working on a collaborative research paper. At first, I thought this going to be just like writing a research paper, but easier. I figured, more people means less work. And at first it did.

To begin, we split up researching responsibilities. One group member would research X, while another researched Y. This worked out nicely because we all had the opportunity to explore one topic in depth, instead on a bunch of topics superficially.

But now we’re actually writing the paper. And I’ve realized there are a few drawbacks to working with a group. Forget about scheduling out times to meet–that’s the least of my worries.

1. We all have different writing styles. How on earth are we going to make this paper sound cohesive?

2. I’m very particular. If I want to rewrite a passage, how do I do so with out offending anyone?

3. I don’t like to save things for the last minute. How do I encourage my group to get working in advanced?

 

Please leave advice in the comments!