Sydney Berger’s ePortfolio

Well folks, it’s official. My ePortfolio has been touched, retouched and while it may need to be updated soon, for now, it’s complete. I am pleased to share my ePortfolio with all of you here.


It was a pleasure seeing each and everyone of your ePorts during the editing process, and I am very excited to see how they all turn out. Thanks for a great semester, everyone!

The End

I’m feeling incredibly nostalgic right now. It feels as if it was just yesterday we all sat together for the first time as a group at the Angel Hall computing lab. Today, our class is over – I just left the remediation workshop and our first course of the writing minor is officially over. I am thankful I had the opportunity to join this program. Looking back, a lot has changed: I am more confident in my ability to produce new media texts, I learned how to make a Prezi (not just a simple Prezi), I “read” extensively about writing, and I even discovered why we use the citation styles we do (depending upon the context of the work).

As I sift through my excel spreadsheet, attempting to calculate my points, I see how much we’ve accomplished this semester. From writing our first “précis” to leading individual technology presentations, to hearing speakers such as Dr. Sheila Murphy, and continuously trying to perfect our ePortfolios – it has been a pleasure taking this class. I hope you’re all as thankful as I am!

United Way TEAM NFL Initiative

Hi Writing Minors,

I need your help. United Way has partnered with the NFL for over 35 years. I was one of 32 college students, selected nationwide for United Way’s Team NFL Player Partnership. This is an ongoing initiative to lower the high school dropout rate nationwide. My goal is to recruit 1,000 pledges for Chris Canty, Super Bowl XLVI winner, and defensive tackle for the New York Giants by December 1.

Together, Chris Canty and I are trying to recruit 1,000 volunteer readers, tutors and mentors, in an attempt to help United Way achieve their goal of reducing the number of high school dropouts in half by 2018. The number of dropouts nationwide is staggering, and we can each do something to help.

Sydney Berger with New York Giants’ defensive tackle, Chris Canty

As I said, Team Canty set a goal to recruit 1,000 pledges by THIS December. Already, Chris and I have recruited 426 people to join our team. We need your help and support – please take the pledge below to join our team: PLEASE SIGN – we need each and every one of your signatures to reach our goal!

The difference between a graduate and a dropout could be you – Chris Canty and I CAN’T do this without you!

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Speaks at U of M

I was fortunate enough to hear Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo speak on behalf of the Ford School of Public Policy and the School of Information at the University of Michigan. On Friday, November 16, Mr. Costello addressed a large crowd of students and faculty at Rackham Auditorium, where he discussed the history of Twitter, the significance of Twitter, and where he sees Twitter going in the future.

Photo by: Sydney Berger

Twitter is a revolutionary platform because it enables every user to express his or her voice. Regardless of who you are, where you come from, what your profession is, or what your opinion is, you have the power to voice “or write” your thoughts in 140 characters or less. Mr. Costello said the concept of “140 characters” is magical, and provides “a super low barrier to publishing.” He said, “We’ll never change it.”

Twitter allows us to instantly connect, instantly respond, and instantly share what’s important to us. As a writer, reader, or a viewer, “If we have a shared experience on a second screen,” Costolo says, “There are all kinds of other cool things we can do.”

“How I Write” Event with Dr. Sheila Murphy

On Tuesday evening (October 23), I attended Sweetland’s “How I Write” event with University of Michigan Screen Arts and Cultures’ Associate Professor, Sheila Murphy. This wasn’t the first time I heard Professor Murphy speak. Professor Murphy was one of a select group of guest lecturers for UC 225 (22 Ways of Thinking About The Games We Play) during the Winter 2012 semester earlier this year.

It was easy to relate to Professor Murphy. She told very personal stories about why she writes, the process of how she writes, and how she continues to motivate herself to write more – even though she doesn’t need much motivation (just comfy pants, good snacks, and some pre-writing music). She also has a new book out, which I’d like to read, “How Television Invented New Media.” 

As an aspiring writer, one thing I struggle with is eradicating jargon. Professor Murphy discussed why she gets frustrated and annoyed with jargon in the field of writing. Murphy said it should be, “legible and accessible.” I agree with Murphy in the sense that writing should be legible and accessible, but sometimes there’s pressure to establish your ideas in a certain way. Writing should be a way to convey an idea or a message – so, why complicate it?

One thing that really struck me, which prompted my question at the end of her presentation, was why, as a child, “Was she discouraged from asking people ‘Why’”?

Often times, people unnecessarily ask the question “why”. But, there is nothing wrong with being inquisitive if it serves a useful purpose. For me, I frequently find myself asking others… “Why.” Whether it’s in the professional setting, in the classroom, or with my friends – there’s always more to discover. That’s why I ask the question.

Professor Murphy ended with wise words of advise to individuals looking to improve their writing: She says be invested, be committed, and avoid jargon (especially for undergrads), use your brain, even if it gets reformatted, and never take what you’re doing too seriously.

Deborah Brandt Reflection

There is something magical about reading; the way it enriches the reader, the shared beliefs it instills, the values it creates, the tastes it develops, and the identities it establishes. Without writing, there would be no beauty of reading.

Deborah Brandt, argues in “The Status of Writing,” and “How Writing is Remaking Reading,” the collision between the “moral economy of reading” and the “commercial economy of writing.” It used to be that the value and perception of writing depended on “high cultural values of reading,” however, now, it’s suggested the value of reading comes to depend on the transactional status of writing in contexts of commerce, production, competition, private subsidy and surveillance.” I cannot fully attest to this idea, because to me, there is still an in-between. I wouldn’t say one depends solely on the other and vice versa.

Brandt claims, “Writing has more direct transactional value than reading,” but I would say it could be the same for both. When I write, I tend to value the reading and the writing aspect equally. Brandt says that writing is valued and protected for what it can do for readers, not so much what it does for the writers, but I would say otherwise. Brandt suggests that writing literacy take a different course from reading literacy because of the ways it has been sponsored and valued, and how it might alter the ways literacy develops throughout society. Although both courses are changing, we will still “learn to write by writing and by writing to other people who also write…” and “We will read in order to write.” Ultimately, everything ties back to writing, but I would not go so far as to say that reading is being undone by writing. If anything, when I’m writing, I’m doing even more reading. I use reading to create my writing, and I’m constantly reading my writing. It’s an endless cycle.

Writing About Writing in the NY Times

Hi all,

As I was in the midst of completing my blog post on the status of writing, I came across an interesting Op-Ed in the New York Times, by Verlyn Klinkenborg, who recently wrote “Several Short Sentences About Writing.” In this article, Klinkenborg suggests that when writing, you make sure to take a step back, and read your sentences “literally.” He says it’s helpful to pretend you didn’t write the sentence you’re actually writing… to “practice reading your own sentences the way the reader does – with no advance knowledge of what they say.”

The New York Times

Wanted to share this with all of you with hopes it will help you complete your final drafts of the “Why I Write” essay and this week’s blog post.


The Writing Process

I’ve never had to write a written “reflection” on an essay I’m in the midst of creating. The process is significantly more difficult than I had expected. At the moment, I am working with two drafts of “How I Write” — from two different perspectives.

My first draft is generated through the standpoint of a narrative. It begins with a reflection — starting at the time I first heard the phrase “confidence and conviction,” which is now the premise of my writing.

The second draft has a more “formal” structure. With an introduction on my thought process as a writer, a thesis which is, “To become a successful writer I must do the following: take various perspectives (other than my own) into account, conceptualize my thoughts in a way that is orderly and concise, and articulate my ideas with confidence and conviction;” followed by three or four body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

It’s been easier for me to articulate my thoughts through the formal structure rather than a narrative. There are numerous ways to begin a narrative — especially if it’s about you. However, planning this particular reflection on myself (how “I” write) has me questioning myself: how do I know if I’m writing it “right”?

For starters, with the narrative, I’m having difficulty keeping my thoughts in the proper tense. Should it be in the past or the present?

“I planned to arrive at Weill Hall promptly at 5:15pm; 15 minutes before my first interview was scheduled for the Michigan Daily.” It was a crisp day in October of 2011, and things seemed to be going smoothly.”

How descriptive should I be before I dive into the “how I write” element?

To write a narrative, or not to write a narrative, that is the question… At this point, it’s early in the minor. I think I’m going to structure my essay in a way that “mounts an argument” and builds from a thesis to a conclusion.

Mission Statement: Curlspiration

The New York Times articleMaking Waves, With No Apology, by Judith Newman, has been my favorite piece of writing since the day it was published: August 5, 2011.

Olivia Harris/Reuters (taken from NY

I believe Judith Newman wrote this article for the curly-haired women of the world; to encourage women, like myself, to embrace and nurture their curls. To me, like Newman says, curls represent more than just hair; they are my identity.

Newman’s descriptive examples, such as the one below, prompted me to imagine myself as the “curly head” she was referring to…

“What curly head hasn’t had the Pantene Fantasy, where she shakes her head, and a glossy curtain of light-reflecting hair swooshes behind her?”

I envisioned myself as “that girl,” in the commercial, who defines herself through her hair.  Newman emphasized the importance of individuality through one’s appearance, specifically one’s hair, and how often times, in the professional sphere, women feel obligated to conform to the norm… “straight hair.”

Newman posed multiple questions throughout the article; one in particular that stuck out to me was the following below:

“What will it take to make a big head of curly hair truly acceptable?”

I felt this tactic, of posing open-ended questions, ironically enough, emphasized the points Newman was trying to make, and made me (the reader) more engaged.

More often than not, us curly heads are more comfortable when we don’t try and change the way we naturally are; this goes back to the theme of Newman’s article: identity.

What I Learned

I learned from George Orwell that the experiences we have continue to affect the ways in which we tell stories. I found that the experiences each of these authors had, have heavily factored into the work they produce. However, what I found most interesting were the four “great” motives for writing that Orwell says, exist in different degrees in every writer.

 The four great motives are: sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose.

As I read each of the three readings, George Orwell’s, “Why I Write,” Joan Didion’s, “Why I Write,” and Andrew Sullivan’s, “Why I Blog,” I compared myself to each author, and found similarities between their writing habits, and my own.

These four motives made me question my intentions, and why I truly want to become a journalist. Day-in and day-out journalists are faced with the daunting task of eradicating personal biases and remaining as impartial as possible. One statement that stuck out to me in particular was the effect that an individual’s life stage and experience has on his or her work. To me, Orwell believes every individual’s experiences have shaped his or her views in one way or another, subconsciously imparting innate personal biases.

You cannot fully assess a writer’s work without knowing his or her background or reasoning. Orwell says, “I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development;” this is something I firmly believe as well. In addition, I learned that regardless of the platform you choose, be sure that the content you produce is presented in a way that will allow the readers to understand the context and the tone at which you are trying to set.