Blog 6: Digital Rhetoric

Digital rhetoric has been hard at first to wrap my head around. Obviously digital rhetoric exists everywhere for us. We’re constantly on our phones and laptops going through emails, facebook, working hard… or hardly working. What has been most interesting has been my changed perspective. I realize now that not only is everything manufactured on the internet (given, yes, but I’m not a tech person so give me a break) but it is visually prepared in a way that hopes to maximize appeal, influence, and affect. That is super interesting. Just how any essay is written to have the biggest impact on its audience, any digital media is formed through the aspects we’ve discussed to be as productive in its goal as possible. Online platforms offer literally a blank slate, and so the options are truly only limited, for the most part, by one’s imagination.

In thinking on what I will do to remediate my project, I am keeping in mind that I am by all means limited by many more factors than imagination. I don’t have all the technical skills or know-how to put together what I imagine (and my imagination could think of plenty of options…). I need to choose a mode, as well, that is recognizable to the audience; something that makes sense given the context, for the sake of productivity and effectiveness.

My goal for the remediation will be to give better perspective on the people, opinions, history and current events associated with neighborhood inequalities in New York and specifically Chelsea. This will help my hypothetical audience delve deeper into the lives of those on either side of the boundaries that exist in places like West 16th street. I want to focus on the personal/people aspect of the issues, but I also want to continue on with some of the rhetorical elements of ‘zooming in and out’ and providing a deeper breadth of context and information in order for the reader to then make better sense of the microcosm (in the context of the whole). This being said, I’ll need to incorporate information, like I wrote up there ^^, that will give this rboader context – and I can also do this through the lense of viewing ‘people’ not ‘things.’ Here’s an example, and something I am considering: focusing in on “the players,” which include journalists, politicians, community organizers, residents, and business owners, and more. I can focus in on certain people, or types of people, to create this network of knowledge and information that my audience can feel interpersonally connected to while they learn, so that it may stick with them on a more personal longer-lasting level. I envision doing this through the format of a NYTimes infographic or something of that nature. Here’s a cool example:

My work would be less statistical, but this provides a glance at the type of organizing of content I would want to have. Different perspectives and lenses on the same issue. There are pictures of people, there are interviews and slideshows, there are graphs, there is a ‘series’ involved, which takes the reader through different types of ways in which (for what this serious is concerned with) “Class matters.”

That’s what I’ve thought out so far!! Thanks for reading. 

Genre and Style

Inhabiting a new genre has been a fun and informative experience. Although this project is an experiment in style, it has also become an experiment with my own style. I have found that as I emulate this style of writing – investigative New York Times style journalism – I am figuring out more of what I can do with my writing, and the ways in which my voice can be heard.

For me, all of my beginning efforts were focused on the content of the paper, and how I wanted to project it. While before I had associated genre and style with the , what occurred to me was that style encompasses these aspects of content and structure as well. Looking through the examples I had found and were using as reference, I spent more time focusing on what the authors talked about, where, and why. This new lense helped me figure out the true nature of the genre, and how these pieces were able to have their distinct influence on their readership. This helped me realize that I did not need to include any personal anecdotes or any sort of explicit opinion, except maybe through conclusion, and based on facts and perspectives explored throughout the piece. This was more freeing, in a way, as writing the piece became far less open ended. There is obviously room to play around with it, which I will do, because this is a topic that is still very close to me and in order to reach my intended audience I will need to tweak the ‘projection.’

The structure has been a bit tricky upon revision, as I realize that a lot of my writing goes on longer than the NYTimes piece I have been emulating. It goes into more detail and the paragraphs are denser, which is not necessary for this style. In terms of new vocabulary, I do not think I have learned any new words, but I have definitely put to use different types of verbs. Trying to be assertive in my writing, yet still objective and journalistic.

Research for Repurposing

As I get down to the research, it is basically what I expected it to be. In fact, in many ways, it has been more interesting than I expected. My project hinges on my presentation of a topic through different types of rhetoric. I want to use my own voice and perspective, and I want to use research and data to backup my claims and add depth and ethos to my argument and perspective.

The research aspect has been a bit tricky at times, as finding information online about housing and incomes and rent prices is shaky and usually lacking credibility. New York City is vast and populous, and finding information on specific aspects of institutions within it, and especially in specific regions, can prove to be very difficult. As I try to find information on housing and incomes on 15th Street, I have come to realize that the task may be impossible to complete in a wholesome way,  although I have found some useful tricks in researching. I know of popular apartment rental or purchasing sights that I can reference, and I can easily find information and statistics on all public housing in Manhattan, for instance, and still use this research to contrast the average prices of other types of privatized housing at least around 15th Street. I have even found projects done by students within the city, on gentrification and the like, and have traced those projects to their sources, then used those sources for my own research.
The major roadblock up to this point has been deciding on a writing approach and intended rhetoric so as to ensure that the piece does not try too hard to be something it cannot be, like a fully comprehensive investigative article, but also allow it to be a powerful and provocative piece. I have struggled with this so far, but I know that with continued writing, I will be able to move forward until I reach a sound and perspective that feels right to me, and hits home (hopefully) with the reader. I will have a very rough draft done soon, and will go from there, reviewing it for its use of research and perspective, and what drives the argument and provocative nature of it. The more I write, however, the better I feel. It is coming together, I think! 

Rhetoric. Adventure. Project 1.

I think my idea for the repurposing project might fall under the genre of “expository” or “investigative” journalism. That genre brings to mind courageous acts of journalism like Andrea Elliott’s “Invisible Child | Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life,” or Eric Lipton’s series titled “Courting Favor,” both of which are products of the New York Times, the brand I want to emulate in my writing.

It is this type of writing that brings to light and exposes to the general public complicated situations or aspects of society that are not so obvious or have been slipped under the rug. What they expose is, by the nature of the writing, bad news. They should (at least try to) transform their reader into a truly informed citizen on the given topic, allowing them to create their own opinions and maybe even take action. The journalism, of course, remains objective. It is this writing that many successful journalists are given prizes for, and it is this writing that serves in most people’s minds as the quintessential form of good journalism. Those examples I just gave are expository pieces that have stuck with me and many others; they are pieces for which the author won or was snubbed a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism. I would love to win that award for Project 1 in Writing 220… But maybe  I can safely aim  a bit lower.

Taking Elliott’s works surrounding “Dasani,” a homeless child living in a run-down shelter with her family in New York City, and the everyday struggles she must face, pose interesting rhetoric. The author is clearly very close with the family and with Dasani, and the writing is extremely detailed. She depicts everything, bringing the reader into the room with her, while also providing the broader context of the situation, informing them on many key topics and issues surrounding Dasani’s situation, not just her life in a microcosm. Her audience is the inquiring New Yorker, the parent, the friend of a friend (of a friend) of a person who has struggled with homelessness (and in New York, this audience reaches just about everyone).

Her exigence is the most intriguing part of her writing: Dasani is 11 years old, and her life is a difficult one. As the reader gets farther into her story, the question arises of ‘what next?’ How will this girl fare? That in itself is powerful enough to kick the reader’s ass, as they realize how real and important this issue is. Homelessness now has a name and a face, and you cannot believe you never just took the time to turn around and look into the shadows and see what you’d find.
I want my writing to pull in the reader as hers does. I want it to show its purpose and its exigence without having to say it. I will not be there, but I have already done the on-the-ground sociological research. I can combine that with the research I will conduct, and hopefully hit home in a way similar to how Elliott does. I care deeply about my city, and more so, about those within it. I want others to care as well.

What Is Good Blogging? The New York Times’ “The Lens” and Others

This question is hard to answer, I think, because of the nature of what blogging is. For many people, blogging is an outlet of creative expression. Blogging for the blogger is personal, and for the reader, it can obviously be a number of things. If ever, I look at blogs because they show the personal insights and opinions of writers or figures I admire or whose opinions I value. Some blogs, like The Lens on the NYTimes, house unique information and storylines that can be found nowhere else, with historical context and insights to make them really interesting to read about.

Good blogging, then, is situational and depends on a whole number of factors. It depends on the purpose of the blog, first from the eyes of the creator, and then from the eyes of the audience. A blog should be open to what the audience asks, as an established audience of a blog is presumably one that is dedicated to the writing but also, its unique content and angle. Our readings for this week have some interesting ideas to contribute to this discussion as well. As Grant-Davie points out, exigence and the rhetoric it inspires is a focal point of blogging, and an aspect that makes the medium so uniquely appealing. Exigence is certainly a main reason why blogs like The Lens share the information they do, because it is relevant and there is an exigent demand for interesting updates, more multi-faceted and more philosophical than the news. 

The Lens, first and foremost, is visual. It is a collection of ‘photography, video and visual journalism’, according to the blog site. It is also a collection of stories, both personal and broad. If you read the article titles aloud, one after the other, it seems random, with no apparent theme of content (first entries I see: “Where Gay Love is Illegal,” “A Meditation on Race, In Shades of White,” “The Intimate and Infinite Along the 100th Meridian.” This is because each article is meant to appeal to an inquisitive and informed audience. I assume that the readers of this blog are somewhat like me: they find interest in the world’s events, in gaining insight on the human experience, without necessarily becoming experts, or being drowned in information about every aspect of a certain situation. I also love becoming more knowledgeable about the depths of topics I find interesting, but for the purposes of viewing a blog, I enjoy the lighter nature of viewing and absorbing.



What Is Writing? Wyatt Frank

Writing is many things. Everyone has their own definition of writing because writing, like many things, exists differently for everyone. It also connects with everyone differently. Poem-reading in high school english class wasn’t necessarily fun, but at least it taught us that meaning in writing is often up for debate and discussion, if nothing else. In conception, writing is total freedom to be creative, abstract, daring, or just straightforward and informative. It is the ability to have a voice – yours or whomever you want to emulate – and to add to a network of discourse, reference and thought. And as Brandt points out in her example of plagiarism insurance, the “commercial value of writing is nested within the moral economy of reading” (Brandt, pg 143). AKA: as readers and as appreciators of writing, we all value the individuality of each writer’s voice, and the essence of writing’s individuality and the freedom it invokes, even regardless of how we may feel of the content. Ong builds on this idea in an interesting way, posing the question of voice as one “for myself… or how I hope others will imagine me” (Ong, pg. 101).
At the end of the day, you can keep your writing for yourself (and maybe have it released without your approval, after you die: see Harper Lee’s, “Go Set a Watchman”) or you can share it with the world – and these days sharing your writing and your voice is marvelously easy, and as always but now in new and exciting ways, daringly permanent. Writing in that respect can be scary, as there is always pressure to truly put your best foot forward in your writing, representing not only yourself, but what you want to be imagined as, in reference to Ong’s point. That being said, it is important to note, I think, how much goes into and comes out of any given piece of writing. No writing is simply about information, or voice, or context, it is about all of the effects and possible impacts and impressions it can have on the reader, and ever the writer, looking back after time has passed, on the voice of a past self.