Blog 7: Remediation Station

I would like to preface this blog post with a personal complaint about the state of my laptop, which is currently horrible. Apparently my “startup disk is full” and I’ve been putting off dealing with this for ~6 months now, and so I’m basically watching documents crumble and crash right before my very eyes. I should probably get to the Apple store, like, yesterday. On a semi-related note of remediating my laptop files into versions compatible to store on an external hard drive, I turn to the topic of remediating my project. I’ve been thinking a lot about my theme: humor, and how it’s emotional connotations are easy to connect to humans and their personal stories. That being said, my original idea for the remediation project actually came to me before I had completely honed in on what I envisioned for my repurposing project.

Considering human emotion and effective storytelling, I immediately thought of a blog I feel truly captures both of these concepts impeccably: Humans of New York. My idea for my remediation project is to take the way the photographer, Brandon, conveys such a deeper/ more meaningful story behind the blurbs and still shots he posts on his blog and mimic that. For my project, I’m thinking of doing a “Humors of Ann Arbor.” Originally, I thought I would be able to run around Ann Arbor, eavesdrop on conversation, listen for a cue of laughter and ask what the person was laughing about. However, after fleshing out this idea with several other students and myself, I realize this might not be the most effective way to extract the “story behind the story” idea that I’m going for. Instead, I’ve started compiling a list of questions surrounding themes that deal with humor such as comedy, laughter, etc. As of now, my idea is to roam around Ann Arbor, explain to people what I’m doing, take their photo and ask them one of the following questions:

1. What makes you laugh?
2. When’s the last time you laughed?
3. Do you have a fake laugh?

4. How do you make others laugh?
5. When’s the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?
6. Who makes you laugh the most?
7. Tell me about the time you laughed so hard you cried.
8. Tell me about the time you laughed so hard you peed.
9. Tell me about the time you laughed when you were uncomfortable.
10. Off the top of your heard, what’s the funniest joke you know/ have ever heard?
11. Tell me about how you feel about the idea that, “laughter is the best medicine?” Do you agree/ disagree, and why?
I’m not sure if these will be the most effective questions in getting people to open up and reveal things deeper within their psyche, rather than just the surface level answers some of these questions elicit. However, I’m planning on further researching how exactly Brandon goes about asking people things and how he gets them to admit to such interesting snippets of their lives. It might be mostly in subject selection, or perhaps he has a formula for getting individuals to open up. Whatever the case, I hope to be able to capture and project the emotions and stories of individuals in Ann Arbor, with humor as a guide, but uncovering emotion beyond that.
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
Gif courtesy of giphy.com
My audience will be fairly similar to the one it reached in my repurposing project, in that I plan to create either a digital blog or Instagram account or both. (Mirroring Humans of New York.) It will reach the millennial audience of my repurposing project, but this audience may stretch a bit beyond millennials into both younger and older demographics who utilize Instagram or surf the blogosphere. I’ve never really had much experience photographing or interviewing people, so I’m excited to challenge myself with this task. Hopefully, it will further benefit both the quality and caliber of my writing and my writing experience for the future.

Blog 6: Digital Rhetoric (Humans of NY)

To be completely honest, I was and still am a bit unclear as to what exactly constitutes as digital rhetoric. However, from what I can gather, it’s creating an argument or a message using technology and digital media. Here’s hoping this is at least somewhat right, because based off of that assumption I’ve selected what I consider to be a super compelling piece of digital rhetoric: the Instagram account Humans of New York.

While the account itself isn’t rhetoric, it’s the images and captioned stories that make up the account which I find to be both compelling and intriguing. You can find the account complete with dozens of photos and captioned stories hereI think this account and how it provides insight into the human psyche works for a number of reasons. For starters, it greatly utilizes the visual aspect. Even without the caption, each photo tells a story, and all of the pictures are clear, vibrant and captivating. Moving on to what I find to be most compelling, the captions, each captioned picture provides a simple quote from the person being photographed, but that simple quote says so much more than the words written. Whether it be a little girl expressing how she “Wants to be a fairy” so her and her friend can “fly around together,” or an old man’s recounting of his beloved wife who passed away, both the pictures and captions expose the raw emotions of each individual.

I think this account is so captivating and moving because it perfectly depicts the complexity of the human species. It’s clear from both the emotions reflected in the photos and the stories behind the stories being told in each caption, that there is so much more to each of these people than what they’re concretely speaking or presenting to the world. The account itself seems to be making the argument that as humans, we often think we might know someone. We might look at an individual and assume one thing, or we might hear something about them and think something else. However, until you take the time to sit and attempt to have genuine conversation with someone (as the person running the account does), you can’t possibly understand who they are or where they’re coming from. You need to hear their stories, and their stories behind their stories to get a better understanding of how an individual became the person they are. Looking and assuming won’t allow you to uncover their layers, but asking them to tell you something just might.

Commercial + Personal = Professional?

No blog outside of academia is something everyone should read. I don’t even have a favorite blog. But I do follow too many Instagram users who have beautiful blogs. Asiyami Gold is one of them.

Asiyami has a good ratio of text to media (usually video or high quality photos). But what makes her blog accessible is the range of topics she covers. This accessibility may be tailored towards a demographic of 16-35 year old females (considering she’s 23 year old woman).

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She is the quintessential twenty something who got famous on instagram (33k followers), because of her eye for photography, ability to travel, and connections built along the way. She is the woman that aesthetic art heauxs of tumblr want to be. At least in terms of her online/social media presence & authenticity.

She posts about fashion, hair, recipes, others artists, etc. Asiyami keeps most texts posts relatively brief when they are solely about her daily musings. She is very fond of visuals, and refers to herself as a visual storyteller on instagram. Thus, she triumphs visuals as a medium over words.

That being said. I think there are two kinds of blogging: those based on content and those based on visuals. We are intrigued by an image and then start to care about the people in or behind the photo. Or we relate or laugh at text and care about the person behind the words. For Asiyami, the pull is visual. She uses media to do a little of what Sullivan mentioned: hyperlinking. I would label it a form of networking though.

Below is an image of Asiyami’s collaboration with Allison Rhee of Flower Crown Society and Sawyer Baird.  Asiyami / Sawyer Baird / Allison Rhee of Flower Crown SocietyIts a beautiful image that exemplifies what most “popular” blogs do: advertise. Most popular bloggers are constantly photographed with products or writing posts referring to products they use in their daily life. So a “good blog”, is one where we care enough about the people behind the words, behind the photographs, and even behind the advertisements. If popular is mutually exclusive with good is a whole other topic.

Asiyami ties her personal stories and musings in with the advertisements though, in a way that is both convincing, entertaining, and, thought provoking. This video on hair, confidence, and cancer is an example. You don’t have to watch it.

She even did a post about collaborating with Merit, who once had roots in Ann Arbor! The interview actually touches on her childhood memories. Her ability to fuse the commercial with the personal is in its own sense professional. Which leads me to my next point.

I categorize her blog as a lifestyle a) because she labels it as such, and b) because her blog is a holistic reflection of the kind of life she lives. Asiyami fits into that young yet uncharacteristically wealthy creative type,  that internet users frequently encounter. Because she capitalizes on what a large percentage of my generation seeks to do: profit off of the intersections of our personal, professional, and social media identities, she serves as a model. Her blog is inspiration for these models of success that are fairly new and quite nuanced, yet somehow ubiquitous due to the world wide web.

The Quintessential Blog

Before taking Writing 220, I was overwhelmingly unaware of the vast blogging world. I knew a couple students from my high school who began blogs, but usually was uninterested considering they didn’t provide much substance (one girl posts every day describing what she makes for breakfast or how she “feels” on her way to class – like, who cares?) Anyway, as you can tell, prior to this course I was cynical about blogging. However, after some research and discovery, I’ve realized that blogging can be an outlet for emotion and provide a plethora of advice ranging from fashion to food to how to relax.

The quintessential blog that I have found is called In The Frow. I found this blogger – Victoria – while scrolling through my Instagram feed, particularly noticing her most recent post from a TopShop fashion show during London Fashion Week. After traveling to London and Paris this past summer, I’ve become really interested in European culture and fashion. However, after browsing Victoria’s blog, I realized she provided so much more, ranging from fashion, beauty, life, food, travel, news, and shop. Under the “Life” tab, for example, Victoria has a section entitled “advice” where she has posts about how to relax as well as “reflections” where she gets personal about her own struggles and endeavors.

Don’t get me wrong, I love beauty and fashion. I subscribe to Birchbox and receive beauty samples each month, and may or may not have a slight addiction to online shopping. Victoria’s beauty tricks and tips as well as photos and posts about London Fashion Week are what drew me into her blogging world. She appeals to an audience of women who value their self-care and presentation. But, what keeps me around is her deeper connection with readers on topics such as life – advice and reflections – as well as travel and food. This widens her audience appeal to women who don’t necessarily jump at the chance for new beauty products but are curious about the world and traveling it. Additionally, the ease with which the site can be navigated makes it appealing to readers who have never blogged before but are willing to try it. By providing insights in all these categories in an easy-to-navigate fashion, Victoria or “In the Frow” formulates the quintessential blog, even for a new reader like myself.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvictorialondon fashion week

What Counts as Writing: Captions

I sat in awe as my friend ordered a pickle at Zingerman’s for the sole purpose of captioning her instagram “It’s kind of a big dill,” (pun very much intended). As a form of writing, “the caption” stuck out to me because it of its elevated level of significance in this day and age. When I did reports in elementary and middle school I was always taught that photos needed a caption. However, until recently, if I were to use a picture of a woman sitting in a chair, the caption “Woman sitting in a chair,” would have sufficed.

Now captions are expected to be creative and catchy, with word play as a very much encouraged aspect. The increased amount of effort that goes into captioning truly does effect how much a photo resonates with you. For a semi-goofy example, I follow a lot of food instagram accounts, and I will never forget when the caption on a really good looking bowl of mac-and-cheese was “I hope that one day someone will look at me look at me the same way I look at mac n’ cheese.”

Captions are a unique type of writing because even though they are significantly shorter than most other forms, they often are able to communicate the same message in often a more efficient manner. For example, on father’s day I instagrammed a picture of me and my sister and captioned it “Daddy’s girls <3.” The longer message that the caption was supposed to convey was that my sister and I were at a family dinner on father’s day at my grandparents house and and it was such a beautiful night that we decided to take a picture together to capture the moment. Because of the concise caption and the information that the photo gives the reader/viewer, the longer explanation is unnecessary.

Are short captions taking the place of long articles? Absolutely not. Is one better than the other? Although longer pieces are certainly more respected, there is something to be said for a particularly clever or savvy caption.