Required Readings

Here’s what I recommend you take a look at to get a better overview of my topic:

  • The executive summary of a study from the UK’s Government Office for Science that examines the changing nature of our identities due to the rise of online profiles and relationships. Solid research with intriguing scientific findings about this topic.
  • A recent blog post from the New York Times about online identities. I like how the bloggers structured this entry in question-and-answer format. It asks questions like “Are you the real you?” and “How Does Who You Are Online Affect How You Feel Offline?” They included outside resources too. Very informative piece!
  • An article from The Morning News that asks this question: “Who You Are and Who You Say You Are.” I think this gets to my interest: who do we think we are and who do we try to portray online?

I’m curious to hear about what you think of these resources. Did you find them to be helpful? What else can I post for you?

Now Accepting Recommendations/Advice/Help!

As you may already know, my project focuses on our online relationships. I’m particularly interested in how our online identities complement or greatly differ from our in-person personas. I anticipate for my project to include interview with my friends and family who will talk about how they communicate with others online, via text, and in person. I’m curious to see how they talk with me, face-to-face about themselves and their online habits and how this differs when we converse online.

I’ve done some research through MLibrary/Mirlyn, and they’ve given me some resources of scholarly nature. I’m wondering if you all know of any items that may be helpful for my project.

Thank you all. You are all great!


Such a funny word. It always seems upset at me. Here are my favorite ones:

Poynter | I love following the news and media industry. Poynter does a nice job in covering the ever-changing news industry, particularly how companies are adapting during the internet age. This site curates links and articles from across the web about this particularly area of writing.

Newsweek’s Tumblr | Newsweek will no longer be publishing a magazine in-print. Instead, the company will focus on its web efforts. I especially like Newsweek’s Tumblr–I find it to be quite accessible, readable, and enjoyable. They grab things from all over the web. Definitely check it out.

Slate’s The Slatest | This is a little bit more of a traditional news aggregators. I like the commentary they add to the news stories they include.

Of course, my favorite aggregators will always be Reddit, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post. Please don’t ever take those away from me, Internet!

Let me know what you think of these different sites.


Project Thoughts and Intersections

I have a few project ideas floating around, so I’ll do my best to explain them all and make some connections. Here we go…

First, I’m interested in how people portray themselves online. We have the ability to be selective in which photos of ourselves can appear on our Facebook walls, we add emoticons to our conversations, and we can comment on articles anonymously. The internet gives us the ability to assume new, different identities. I regularly chat with one of my good friends through Google Chat. When we’re communicating through this medium, he frequently jokes around, inserts many “lols,” “jks” and “:-).” In person, however, he’s more reserved and thoughtful. Why does he feel the need to act differently online? Is this what he’s like when he’s most comfortable and conversing in his home? I wonder if his online persona is what he truly wants to be but withholds that side of him in public. I’m interested in further exploring these questions.

Another idea: People love saying they’re busy, especially Michigan students. At times I feel that people get great joy from telling other people that they’re busy. Why? Does this phrase make a person feel better about himself or herself? Or are they actually busy and like to be busy? Some of the people that say they’re busy are the same folks I see out and about partying, browsing the internet, and socializing with friends. I don’t want to call them liars, but I will say that I feel they’re misrepresenting the reality. I hope to develop these thoughts, research these ideas, and write about it.

Finally, one of my friends likes to say, “It’s only awkward if you make it awkward.” I’ve since adapted and adopted his phrase as one of my own: “awkwardness is a choice.” I cringe when I’m in a somewhat uncomfortable situation and someone says, “Well, this is awkward.” YOU JUST MADE IT EVEN WORSE!! I would love to write about the history of the feeling of awkwardness. I don’t remember feeling “awkward” as a little kid. What makes people feel awkward? Are certain people more likely to feel awkward? Why does it feel like the worst thing in the world when we know it’s really not?

I see a connection between my second and third ideas; they both ask questions about what people say aloud and how that compares and contrasts to how they truly feel. I think they also both touch on common feelings among college-aged students: we’re busy and awkward. I’d be interested to see how these two concepts interact, too. Do people say they’re “busy” to an acquaintance so they don’t have to feel “awkward” at a lunch date the person invited him or her to? Not gonna lie–I’ve done that once or twice.

I’m still fascinated with online profiles and identities; I’d love to spend time delving into the social science research and existing literature about that topic. As I mentioned in class, I’m an information junkie. I can spend hours and hours watching videos, reading articles, and looking at photos on Reddit. I’m not sure why I do this. It’s not like I’m becoming smarter or more informed. I’m not even talking about everything I’m reading with friends or taking in this information to be a better conversationalist. I do it simply for myself. But why!? It’s such a waste of time. I doubt I would be doing this kind of reading and information gathering if I lived in the pre-Internet ages. I can privately consume this information in the comfort of my own home. I still want to answer this question: why do I do this? I have far better things to do. Is this my online identity? I can kind of see a connection between these two areas.

Well, those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear what you have to say. Any comments, suggestions, and questions will be much appreciated. Thanks!

Reflection Writing

When will my reflections show who I am inside? (And what I’ve actually learned?)


In many of my classes, I’ve had to do quite a few assignments that ask me to reflect on what I’ve learned in the class so far. Another popular question wants us to think about the take-aways from the course–how do I plan to apply what happened in the course to my other classes, student organizations, and work experience? I find these assignments to be informative and useful. I think it’s always important to think about what you just did in a class and how that will help you in future experiences. I find that too often we go through the motions of course assignments, papers, and exams without thinking critically about why we’re actually doing these tasks. These writing assignments that push me to consider the key takeaways assist in my fully comprehending my education outcomes.

On the other hand, I sometimes find these reflections to be repetitive and fake. Allow me to explain. I feel as though I’m repeating the same lessons learned over and over again in my reflections. For example, I had to write reflections for one of my political science classes. In this course we heard from various professionals in politics and government and then wrote about what we took away from these talks. Reflection after reflection I said how important it is for a person to pursue a career he or she is really passionate about. Moreover, I wrote in many reflections about the value in surrounding yourself around those who are smarter than you. While a majority of the speakers had interesting things to say, I do not believe all of them were as moving as I indicated in my reflection. This discrepancy might have been mostly my fault–no one asked me to exaggerate in my reflections. Still, to write a meaningful reflection (and one worthy of a check-plus or A grade), I felt motivated to be somewhat dramatic and deeply thought-provoking.

What do you think? How do you feel about writing that asks you to reflect on your experiences? Do you find these to be useful exercises? Or are you in the same boat as me and think they’re a little repetitive and at times encourage exaggeration? I’ve had to do a lot of reflection writing. I don’t really mind these assignments because, in some ways, they’re rather easy to crank out. But is that ok? Let’s reflect!

Another E-Portfolio

This summer I was a part of the Development Summer Internship Program (D-SIP). As a participant of this program, I worked at the University’s Office of Development with the Student Philanthropy Team. The student philanthropy team aims to instill a culture of philanthropy on campus among the students. Essentially, we try to show students the importance of philanthropy and how U of M is what it is today thanks to the help and support of many generous donors. Throughout the summer, I worked on  building a website that centralized existing and new resources related to student philanthropy such as class gift programs and student engagement programs. I did this work Monday through Thursdays. On Friday, I took a course about the theory and practice of philanthropy. We learned about the history of philanthropy, examined case studies, explored best practices, and talked about the future of philanthropy.

In the afternoon, the program director led the professional development component of the program. This consisted of activities such as conducting mock interviews, refining our cover letters and resumes, and thinking through our ideal work environment and when we are our best selves. In addition, we worked on producing artifacts that would later be housed on our e-portfolios. For the first artifact, I talked about the importance of my political science degree and what I have learned through courses in the political science department. The next one explored what I did at my internship, the skills I attained, and how I grew as a professional. My last artifact walked the reader through a consulting challenge that a group of D-SIPpers and I tackled. A peer and a professional in the U-M development community offered me immensely helpful feedback and supported me throughout the writing process. They both gave me clear guidance and unvarnished suggestions. The workshop format allowed them to talk with me about my writing decisions and gave me the opportunity to ask questions, clear up confusion, and refine my pieces. I liked how I had two editors: one of them a peer and the other a professional development officer. The peer understood what I was trying to say and was able to push me to write more succinctly. Meanwhile, the professional development officer has the experience to tailor my writing so that it makes sense to those in fundraising.

Overall, writing these artifacts, reflecting on my experience at Michigan, and workshopping my pieces with two amazing individuals, taken together, gave me an amazing learning experience. Feel free to check out my e-portolio here: If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me!

Back to Blogging!

It’s been a while, huh? While I haven’t been blogging for this site in quite some time, I have been blogging for other classes. I’m taking Sociology 454 (Law and Society) this semester. For that class we have to blog at least 3 times throughout the semester and comment on a classmate’s blog every week. I find that blog to be particularly compelling.  I love how topical the threads have become. Since the class focuses on how laws play out in the real world, there are tons of news stories to comment on. For one of my posts I talked about the collective bargaining laws in Wisconsin and the opposition they have received. One of my classmates blogged about voter identification laws–a topic that is of great interest to me. I think the blog works really well for that class since we all have something to say about laws and rules. One person posted about the age requirement of 21 to consume alcohol, and the class went wild with that one!

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Mark’s E-Portfolio

Well, here it is!

Mark Chou Writes.

All done...for now.

I’m very happy with how my e-portfolio turned out. At the beginning of the semester and upon first hearing about the e-portfolio, I expected to include my most polished pieces and favorite essays. However, as the course went along, I found I learned a lot more about myself as a writer by re-reading essays from first semester of freshman year. Yes, looking over papers I composed for English 124 proved to be quite painful. Did I really have the final paragraph of one of my essays start with “In conclusion”? Yes, unfortunately I did. So, I decided to throw those in my e-portfolio. I think my site shows my development as a writer and as a student.

The “Voter ID Laws” section of my eportfolio is home to most of the work I’ve done this semester. This component takes the reader through my entire writing process: from early drafts, to a podcast, to storyboards, and ending with a website. I hope you enjoy this comprehensive section.

At the beginning of each piece, I included a blurb with my reflections: what I thought I did well, areas for improvement, and what I learned while writing. These preface the text below them and, hopefully, give you the opportunity to get an idea as to what was going inside my head throughout the writing process.

As with all products, this is still a work-in-progress. I can’t wait to continue to add materials to this e-portfolio and share with readers my pieces from my final semester as an undergraduate at Michigan.

Be sure to read the homepage post for instructions on how to navigate the site and maximize your blog-viewing experience.

Thank you for reading this. I hope you enjoy my e-portfolio!

Helpful Criticism

First off, I love the theme and GIF that goes along with it. I know all the lyrics and corresponding dance moves to “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” from Mulan. If you ask me to perform, please understand that I give my best performances in the privacy of my own home.

Alright, back to reflections. I’m sitting here trying to think about what I learned throughout the gateway course. I believe my biggest takeaway will be the confidence in my writing that Shelley and my classmates helped to reinforce. As I’ve heard many times before, self-confidence needs to come from within–hence the self in self-confidence. But I do think that the words of positive encouragement from Shelley and members of my blog group gave me the reassurance that what I was doing was right. Professors and GSIs have to critically analyze the papers and assignments submitted to them for a grade.

Photo credit:

One of my political science professors told the class today there exists a difference between offering negative criticism and thoughtfully critiquing a piece. Too many times writers seem to happily to engage in harsh criticism rather than helpful critique. The professor went on to say that criticism that fails to prescribe solutions is rarely well-received. Instead, writers like to know what isn’t working, but also ways in which to improve the piece. I’m very glad my classmates understand this difference in criticism methods.

I didn’t think I would need those words of encouragement from my classmates and reviewers. But I have found that it really helps. When I get a paper back from Shelley that says “This is AWESOME!” I know that my work paid off and someone on the other side is listening. No pressure, though, to say anything nice back to me about this blog post.