How to Write an Open Letter

My origin piece was originally an academic research argument that examined racial bias effects the way people differentiate between graffiti and street art. Although the paper briefly touched upon gentrification and it’s impact on the development of street art, it did not dive deeply into the concept of gentrification (that could be a whole separate research paper and I tried to stay on topic and not exceed the 20 page limit). For this experiment cycle I aim to study gentrification, what it means, how it is effecting our cities and different view points on gentrification. Currently I do not have a strong opinion on the topic (because I feel I do not know enough to form one), but hopefully my research will enable me to form an educated opinion. For this cycle I am going to write an open letter from a teen growing up in Harlem.

According to my good friend Merriam-Webster, an open letter is a published letter of protest or appeal usually addressed to an individual but intended for the general public.

How to write an Open Letter: 

Dear People Reading My Blog,

If you are not a member of the Sweetland Writing Program, thanks for checking this out and being interested in what a bunch of college students minoring in writing have to say. If you are a member, Hi! Anyway here’s my letter on how to write an open letter. Here are a few things I learned from “An Open Letter To Anyone Thinking About Writing An Open Letter”. First I’m sorry you’re pissed off, upset, mad, or emotionally charged, but take that energy and turn it into passionate energy – get it all down on the paper because you can. This isn’t addressed to anyone specifically, but oh it is. All though my “Dear _________” is a general population, I know exactly who I am talking to and although I may or may not know you personality I want you to hear what I say loud and clear. My introduction of you may be harsh and objective but I am passionate and I do not mean to beat around the bush and be careful to offend anyone. I am going to say exactly what I want how I want (with all the emotions that come with it). When writing an open letter, be careful because you have just become subject to possible open letters. If you are going to ignite the flame be ready to fight the fire. Here’s some more things I learned from reading open letters. 

Open letters use a lot of “I” and “you” because although I may or may not know you. I am not going to explicitly say your name, or else the letter isn’t very open. Open letters can be numbered to organize thoughts like this or they can be a series of paragraphs, or one long one. Open letters often use bold or underlined words to emphasize their strongest points. Although not all have a valediction at the closing, or are signed by the name of the author, I believe the strongest most powerful open letters have an ambiguous targeted valediction (like the one used to sign this letter). Good luck writing an open letter in the future and I hope this helped.

Sincerely,

A girl attempting to write and open letter

How Tos & Digital Rhetoric

I have a midterm today on the communication revolutions–from the telegraph to the telephone, radio to the Internet so it seems only fitting that today’s blog post would be on digital rhetoric. As communicative technologies evolve, so does digital rhetoric. The Internet, though we think of it as indistinguishable from digital rhetoric, may also become antiquated like other forms of digital rhetoric. As a communicative technology, though, the Internet has completely changed the way we think about digital rhetoric and has opened the playing field for a variety of examples.

The form of digital rhetoric I’ve been most interested in lately are “How-To” videos by vloggers on YouTube. The one below is a “Working From Home” video, featuring tips on how to stay organized and motivated when you’re in a familiar/comfortable space such as your home.

The majority of the video features Ingrid Nilsen walking through a typical day working from home. She offers insight into how she stays focused–taking naps, keeping unnecessary technology out of reach, and creating to-do lists. The video is quite long at nearly eight minutes, but Ingrid incorporates aural, visual, spatial, linguistic, and gestural modes to keep the viewer engaged. This multimodality is also effective for viewers who prefer to learn visually or orally because, instead of having to choose between the two and missing out on content, Ingrid speaks and shows exactly what she is doing at the same time.

Throughout the video, a pleasant jingle plays while Ingrid is shown cleaning her apartment and typing on her computer. Even while Ingrid explains her day, the music continues. I’ve found that the music makes me stay focused on what she is saying. Though I do not have trouble focusing or doing work at home, I am always interested in hearing how other people organize their time and take small breaks during the day. Many viewers in the comments section state how helpful the video is, and even put out requests for future videos. Thus, the Internet and digital rhetoric have allowed Ingrid to remain in direct contact with her fans.

While it is not present in this video, most vloggers include a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of their videos. It can range from “liking” their video or posting a similar DIY on Instagram and tagging their accounts. While I prefer not to actively engage with How-To videos or post content from videos, many viewers actually do, which shows the pervasiveness of digital rhetoric in Ingrid’s videos.

Making such a basic topic appealing and engaging is difficult, and I think that’s what makes how-to videos successful examples of digital rhetoric.

 

How to add a new WordPress blog post

Hi All,

Here is a link to a short video taking you through the steps of signing in to your new Minor in Writing blog account and creating your first blog post.

One key point is to assign your blog post the appropriate categories and tags.  Please use the “2011 Fall Cohort” category for all of your posts to the blog, as well as any other categories and tags that will help your readers sort your posts and find them easily.

How to add a new WP blog post (video)

Please note that if the video window appears too large to view in its entirety, after clicking on the large arrow to ‘play,’ you’ll need to scroll to the lower right of the window to find the icon for viewing in full-screen.  Move your cursor over the bottom right corner to make the icon appear (it looks like a small screen or two rectangles).  Click on the icon to size the video to your computer screen.  Press ‘Esc’ to exit full screen mode and return to the blog.

Enjoy, and happy blogging!
Naomi