Capstone e-Portfolio Draft

Since I last posted about my capstone e-Portfolio, I’ve made major progress. I’ve created the actual site,  inserted text and images, and come up with a tentative theme. I’m really excited about the direction I’ve chosen for the site. Below is a description of the progress I’ve made, along with some questions I have. I’d love some constructive feedback!

I’ve decided to follow a travel theme. On the first page, the text reads:

“Welcome to LindaTell Airlines!

We’d like to take a moment to tell you a bit about today’s site.

First, you’ll notice two navigation bars. The top one is for site visitors who are traveling for pleasure.

The second is for those of you who are traveling for business—capstone evaluators—and can be accessed by selecting the three lines on the upper right.

LindaTell Airlines can take you to a diverse array of destinations, including the lush forests of non-fiction, the calming coasts of fiction, and the vibrant cities of multi-media. While you’re here, we encourage you to indulge your inner wanderlust.

To ensure full attention, please turn off all electronic devices at this time.

And remember, this is a non-smoking website. Tampering with the smoke detector in the restroom is prohibited.

Once again, thanks for choosing Linda Tell Airlines. We hope you enjoy your trip!”

The tabs are still split up as Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Multi-Media, as I wrote about in my last blog post (Mapping My Capstone Portfolio). Now, each page has a little blurb about each ‘destination.’ So for example, when you click on Non-Fiction, the text reads:

“Welcome to the lush forests of Non-fiction. Here you’ll notice nature in it’s truest form. There’s nothing artificial about Non-fiction, and that’s why travelers find it so appealing. So take a look around! You might just discover something new.”

I think that this theme will help me achieve a cohesive feel, and truly make the e-Portfolio an artifact in itself. I also think that this theme helps me convey the idea that I have created a diverse variety of genres. Each ‘location’ is a metaphor for each genre, which I hope will reinforce this idea of diversity.

I also think that the theme does a good job at explaining who I am as a writer — I’d like to think that I’m creative and quirky, two traits that I think usually shine through in my various artifacts.

Of course, this is just a draft of my e-portfolio, an outline of what is to come. But if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve created so far, the link is below:

Please click around and let me know what you think in the comments below! Is the theme working? Is it achieving the goals that I’ve stated above? What needs work? What should I add/change? All input is appreciated!

I’m looking forward to completing this project and I think I’m on my way to creating something unique, fun, interesting, and of course, representative of me as a writer.

Thanks in advance for the feedback!

Technology . . .

“I just don’t want my capstone podcast project to sound homemade,” I say, sitting in one of the fancy media rooms at the Duderstadt and talking with a peer media consultant about “amplifying” and “wav files.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like on a scale of bagels covered with cheese and ragu to a pizza lovely crafted by Italian immigrants- I want it to be Digourno. It can be different than professional but I still want it to be good.”

He laughs.

“No matter what you’re going to have to teach yourself some about audio recording- levels etc. And vocal performance too probably”

That’s the moment I realize that I may have bitten off more of this pizza than I can chew. In the Writing Minor, we like to talk about how we write, why we write, what we right. Yet with this podcast, I’m having to contend with technology and with performance. In fact, how I write it may be affected by these programs and how they work.

I am not a Luddite. I have been having a passionate love affair with Photoshop for the past three years, designing covers and booklets and posters. However, relearning a complex program, learning enough so I can make it sound professional, is that too high a goal?

I just want to do my ideas justice. I want to do any listeners justice. I don’t want them to be distracted from my content because of a voice crackle.

I also want to be realistic about my abilities. I want to be realistic about the time I have left as my senior comes to a close with a bang of work and a whimper from me. I also don’t want to engage the obsessive perfectionist qualities of my personality. The part of me that will tweak-tweak-tweak at Photoshop.

I want to do the best I can with my time and abilities, but will that be enough?

This American Life by Ira Glass has an episode called “Fiasco!” where he sayings that when everyone reaches just beyond their grasp that’s when greatness can occur.

I’ll settle for Digourno pizza.

Evolution of a Reader/Writer

The readings this week made me think a lot about how reading affects writing and the ways in which they are positioned and valued to us in society. How we learn and the level at which we master these two integral life skills greatly shape our life paths and what we do and contribute to the world. According to Brandt’s “The Status of Writing,” we’re switching from a nation of readers to a nation of writers, in part because we have the ability to read so much more than we used to with the spread of mass communication and information technologies.

I always have considered myself first a reader then a writer. I read to learn about something, I read for class, I read to borrow and steal techniques of good writing. Instead of reading exclusively for content, nowadays I look to form and function too, as my college education has instructed me to do. Before college, my reading/writing life was content-driven, simple, and largely taking everything at which I read at face value neglecting to reflect on and think critical of the text.

While reading the Penrose and Geigler’s “Reading and Writing About Authority” about the different methods in which Janet and Roger composed their reports given the same prompt, I was able to explicitly realize how much my own reading and writing habits have evolved since entering the University. When I track my growth as a writer, I’ll try to detect the evolution of my writing samples and how my writing has sophisticated over time. When I track my growth as a reader, I can pinpoint my shift from teen fiction to more nonfiction texts and then academic articles and reading for intellectual curiosity, as well as an abundance of online content.

By highlighting the study of the college freshman as an “outsider” to an “insider” in his domain, Penrose and Geigler have reasserted my own feelings I had as a freshman and how I used to feel when writing academically. Roger knows that knowledge claims can be contested causing him to write with authority. My graduated high school self certainly did not know I could formally challenge what published authors had written through my own writing. In fact, most of the ways in which Janet went about pursuing information from the article pool I would have done myself back then, heavily focusing on the content rather than the methods and form. Janet’s habits were so closely related to my own just a few years ago I thought I was reading an article about my own habits.

It wasn’t until last semester when I finally began to understand that reading an academic article (or anything really) relies heavily on understanding the claims the author is making. My International Studies course on development had us reading many articles on the different facets of the topic, and when my lecturer covered them in lecture, she consistently used the author’s names to describe arguments. While I didn’t remember author names as well as I did the content of their arguments, I understood that their words and writing was meant to be challenged and discussed in a constructive manner.

These readings have given me a lot of perspective on growth and the complex relationship that reading and writing share with each other. While I was always implicitly aware of how my reading affected my writing habits and styles, these authors shed to light more clearly my position in the context.

The Mulan Complex

via mediagirl

No, I don’t have a complex that makes me a compulsive rebel, or a complex that makes me lie in order to defend my family, or a complex that makes me save my country from invading Huns, or a complex that makes hunky war heroes fall in love with me. But I am uncomfortable with my reflection.

Reflection. I wish I could say I love that word, and I mostly do. In its passive form. I love the way the redwoods, their reflections interrupted by floating islands of weeds, are mirrored on the stock pond at the local country club. I love the calm patience in my mother’s reflection while she does my hair when I am at home. I love how my friends and I chuckle and shake our heads at our middle school selves during our reflections on old times.

But there are few things that make me uncomfortable the way active reflection can. My reflection becomes an object of criticism and correction when my concealer brush is in my hand. Team reviews after group projects are always an opportunity to reflect on the performances of my teammates and myself and provide a report on our shortcomings. Active reflection inevitably leads to criticism in some form, even if it is constructive, positive, or helpful.

All it takes is a little bit of context and the word “reflection” becomes an unwieldy beast I am most certain I am unable to conquer. Reflection becomes a long, drawn-out struggle with periodic breaks to complain on Twitter and console myself with chocolate. At one point during a peer review assignment for an engineering project, I realized I would rather sing Honky Tonk Badonkadonk in front of the entirety of Cru (the student ministry I’m a part of on campus). This peer review should have been incredibly easy, especially because my team was a well-oiled machine and I had nothing but good things to say about such amazing teammates. But even positive, constructive criticism makes me squirm.

Criticism in any form elicits in me an immediate defensive response. Criticism is a red flag that something could have been done differently and better, and should have been done differently in order to have been better. As a perfectionist, it takes a Herculean effort to get me to admit that I’ve made a mistake or that I could have done something better on the first try. Usually this dramatic overgeneralization applies more to my personal life than to my academic life. But I still have a hard time with my shortcomings when it comes to academics. I refuse to start a problem set until I know I can solve every part of every question; I simply cannot start typing until I know where I want to go with the piece I’m writing.

My defensive response to criticism, and therefore reflection, made me appreciate a young author Roy Peter Clark describes in his book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. The young author accepts each critique from his writer’s group with an open mind, eager to improve. The evaluation focuses on his flaws, but not in a derogatory fashion. The flaws in his writing become his focus points for improvement.

It’s no secret that the Minor in Writing places as much importance on reflection as it does actually writing. Reflection is built into every project prompt, every blog post, every class discussion. I know that by the time I complete this program, I’ll still be just as uncomfortable with my shortcomings and flaws. But my hope is that I’ll be more comfortable with reflection and that my response to my reflection mirrors the eagerness of Clark’s young author.

Learning to Say F*ck It

In August of 2012, I entered into a period of my life which I fondly refer to as The Age of Learning to Say F*ck It.  One month prior, I had gotten braces.  That’s right—I under duress voluntary became a brace-face at age 20.  Despite the fact that I needed them and the orthodontist—a good friend of mother—gave me a very kind deal, it was the first time in my life I had ever felt truly mortified to speak or smile in public.

Me in clear brackets & my mom as a much more cooperative model
Me in clear brackets & my mom as a much more cooperative model

I was standing in the kitchen waiting for a friend to pick me up for a Childish Gambino concert in Detroit.  My mom was sympathizing with my self-consciousness about the painful protrusions glued to my teeth.  The last thing I wanted was my photo taken, but my dad told me to kindly suck it up.  Hours later, after the concert openers and the excruciating gap waiting for the main act to start, I was dancing within arm’s reach of the stage.  While the lights pulsed and the heat rose, I kept catching myself every time I started to smile, hissing inside my head, “Don’t do that, stupid; I don’t want people to notice I’m a college aged brace-face.”  And then I got pissed.  While Gambino started into “Sunrise” I berated myself for caring what anybody else thought.  This was my experience.  I was so close to the front I could reach out and touch Childish Gambino, and I was letting some ridiculous fear of what strangers thought ruin it?  That was stupid.  The lights pulsed, the bass rocked through my chest, I put my hands up, swiveled my hips, and let my lips pull back into an enormous smile.  “F*ck it,” I thought.

Me being happy
Me being happy

Now it’s January of 2014 and my face is once again braceless.  I’m sitting in the makeshift vanity I made in my closet, listening to Pretty Lights and taking pictures to remember what I and this space look like right now.  I set my camera to snap pictures in succession, and at first I just sat there and smiled.  The photos looked like me, but they told you nothing of substance.  Then “I Can See it in Your Face” stared to play, and I thought, “Ah, f*ck it,” and danced around in my seat while the camera clicked.  I figured I would look a little silly, but the result was a snapshot of myself as I honestly felt: decently unconcerned with anything besides loving that song.  The Age of Learning to Say F*ck It produced in me a new kind of honesty where I can finally say, “I am what I am, you like it or you don’t.”  And that has been such a liberating experience that I hope everybody goes through, in their own way.  Entering the Capstone course, I hope very much that I can successfully carry that honesty over to make a new portfolio that abides by no one else’s expectations and that is purely, unapologetically me.

Portfolio Perfection

Well, not quite perfection, but I’m pretty happy with how my e-portfolio turned out!

I spent a lot of time on the layout, which I like a lot. I wanted the site to be clean and easy to navigate, and I feel I accomplished my goal.

I also wanted to show how I have changed as a writer. I tried to accomplish this through having a lot of different artifacts from freshman year until now, but I think this aspect could use more work.

I want to continue working on the portfolio, adding more context to the work I have uploaded, especially pieces from outside the writing minor. I currently have a few sentences about why I’ve included my academic work, but I do not explain why I like each individual piece. As I have more time to work on the portfolio, I may write intros to every essay, rather than just the general section.

I’ll definitely make changes to my portfolio in the future, but right now I’m proud of what I’ve created this semester. It does a good job representing me and my personality, which is all I need my portfolio to do!

Here’s the link:

Eportfolio Final Reflection

The whole process of creating this eportfolio throughout the semester has been a very long and arduous process, but ultimately an educational and satisfying one as well.  When we were first given this assignment at the beginning of the semester, I was reluctant to begin working on it because I had never done something like this before and I am far from tech savvy.  I thought the idea of creating my very own website was a daunting task.  What I came to realize, however, was that creating my very own website would actually be a fun, interactive, and ultimately fulfilling endeavor

At the beginning, I definitely struggled with formulating and organizing my portfolio.  In fact, after a few weeks of unsuccessfully working with WordPress, I decided to switch to Wix and start from scratch.  I liked working with Wix much more than I did with WordPress, but I still had trouble turning my page into what I had envisioned for my eportfolio.  I think meeting with my peers, seeing the progress they had been making on their own pages, and swapping strategies and ideas really helped me to develop my page and fine tune it to my final result.  I am really happy with my final product.  I honestly did not realize, until now, how satisfying it is to create something like that your own that so many people are going to see.  Yes, that same fact is also a little nerve-racking, but I am proud of my portfolio, and proud of all the work I posted.  I am looking forward to hearing any and all feedback.

why i write, revisited

After suggesting in class today that it’d be nice to go back and revisit our Why I Write essays, I figure I might as well put my money where my mouth is (that sounds awkward. sorry. just needed a nice idiom there).

I initially wrote my essay inching toward the idea of honesty, and how I find the transparency that comes with writing so useful and necessary in my thought process. I’m still drawn toward this central idea (a reason I didn’t make many moves to revise my essay completely) but I’ve definitely broadened my definition after playing around with different forms of writing this semester.

Coding the portfolio, visualizing my essay, and even writing for my Techcomm class (something I don’t think I’ve talked about very often, I guess because a decent amount of the 1-credit class consisted of resumes/cover letters and what goes into a Powerpoint…super dry albeit useful stuff) have all pushed my definition of writing and its capabilities. I’ve learned the different considerations necessary for these different forms of writing – visual rhetoric for my remedation/portfolio, and the kind of precise, structured language necessary for technical communication. These spanning topics have made me think further about the importance of writing as communication for external sources, not just for my own (almost selfish?) needs to figure out the world and my brain. I guess these considerations would result in more of an extension of my original essay than a total revision. I’m excited to write for future courses in areas and departments outside of my comfort zone to push these boundaries even more.


No, seriously though, I’ve been playing catch up like nobody’s business for the last 24 hours. It’s really pathetic actually and I’ve realized that I need a serious turn around in my life next semester. This has gone so far past procrastination. There isn’t much I can say for myself except that I need to do better. So backtracking on this semester and following with the theme of unhelpful things I’ve done in the last three months is Storyboarding for the Re-Mediation project. Because I missed not one, but two posts about storyboarding (somehow. . . I really swear I did at least one) I just wanted everyone to learn from a mistake I made.

This is my awful storyboard:

Photo of Storyboard Photo of Storyboard

Okay, it’s not totally awful and in my head it was the greatest thing I was ever going to create. Until it wasn’t.

Sticky notes are lovely. I embrace them every chance I get. However, when it comes to storyboarding, perhaps they weren’t the best choice. I thought it would be really interactive and different if I took sticky notes and drew out the plot for my video on the front and then when you lifted them, there would be details about length of slide, transitions, music, etc. Well here was my first problem. Sticky notes are large. They do not neatly fit on a regular sized sheet of paper. But, of course I am in college and too cheap to get larger paper, so I just did this layout on three different pages. Now the rainforest hates me and my storyboard didn’t really help at all either.

The only thing I can say that went well for this idea was that the textual ideas I wanted to include were on the sticky notes. . .

Literally, that’s the only thing this format helped for. The music was in theory a good thing to include on the storyboard, but until you’re actually in iMovie, cutting together pieces, you’ll never know what’s going to fit and how long you should make the slide so it can be easily read. There was just so much I didn’t take into account and in the end it would have been better to use another method that was more suited for a video project. This would potentially have been helpful if there weren’t so many small details that I needed to consider.

But that’s life right? Live. Make mistakes. Learn. Yeah, this semester really didn’t go as planned, but I learned a lot about how to deal with next semester. I thought that by Winter semester of Junior year I’d have had that figured out. But I guess I’m learning that, too. I will likely never have it all figured out. I’m pretty sure that’s a fundamental thing about this life. You can never have it all figured out. And if you think you do, then you’re doing it wrong.

Blogging Style

My blogging style started off very academic. I would treat each post as a class assignment, spending a couple hours writing and editing each post to make them perfect. It was hard to get past the idea that people I didn’t know very well would be reading all of my posts and that blogging counted as part of my grade.

But as the semester went on my blogging became less formal. I try to write as if I’m speaking, and try to make my posts like the start of a conversation. I tend to use this blog to ask a lot of questions. I like connecting with others about class assignments and thoughts about writing, and all the feedback I’ve received has been very helpful!

My blogging persona has changed a lot, and I’d like to keep working on it after this semester. I want to keep working on sharing things that are not class-related. I love reading what you all have posted about writing in general and all the random, awesome things you’ve found on the internet or in life. I still hope to become more of a “blogger,” not just someone who blogs for a class.