Introduction to the minor

Hi everyone. My name’s Sam, I’m a junior at the School of Information studying user experience design (among other things). The usual order of labels I assign to myself in an introduction is as follows—designer, student, writer, and (sometimes) technologist. If I had to describe my interests in one sentence this is that sentence: I am interested in the intersection(s) between technology, culture, and society. 

Although I enjoy the process of writing, I find that I am often hampered by my inner critic. I’m hoping this program will help me break out of some of the counterproductive behaviors associated with self-criticism while allowing me to retain and even sharpen the helpful elements of my inner critic. I became interested in the Writing minor as I learned more about the program’s multimodal and experimental emphasis. I thought it would be interesting to develop my writing ability in the context of projects that also make use of other skills I have such as graphic design and coding. I also thought the minor could be helpful if it provided a framework for receiving feedback in combination with a structure for developing a consistent writing practice. 

All in all, my brief experience with the writing minor has been phenomenal. I am thrilled that we are able to take a more self-directed approach to our writing. I think this type of autonomy and creative freedom will help bring out a higher level of commitment and effort to my work.

The origin piece I have decided to work with is actually the piece I used in my application for the program. The text was originally constructed as a “self-portrait” wiki page that was accessible to the students and instructors for SI 410: Ethics and Information Technology. I thought this piece was interesting because it allowed me to reflect on my own self-image and relate it to the image of myself portrayed on social media. My piece focused on the implications of persistence on our Facebook timelines. These timelines have become a (semi-)public display of our lives, visualized chronologically in the Facebook timeline. The conclusion of my piece reflected on the act of self-censoring my own Facebook profile and irreversibly deleting hundreds of old posts and comments since they no longer conformed to my current self-image.

I thought the piece would be a good origin piece because the content was interesting to me and it generated a lot of interest from others. I think there are a lot of people who are grappling with the psycho-social implications of social media in our everyday lives, and I think we as a society are still trying to understand all of the effects associated with the self-generated data, broader audiences, and persistent “self-portraits” associated with social media. I would be interested in transforming my piece’s text into a more sensuous form, making use of my interest and abilities in layout design and typography

True Life: I’m addicted to Facebook

I never thought this would hit me so hard. I couldn’t even count the amount of times I visited this page because it was so many. I am addicted to Facebook. I looked through my history, and if I am not even on Facebook it is still open in my computer. Half the time I am stalking someone’s pictures while they’re abroad, the other half I am watching those Tasty videos (which I am also addicted to). Holy crap, I need to get off Facebook. I don’t even like it that much, that’s why I am so confused.

Another huge chunk of my search history was related to internship searching. I am currently on the search and it has honestly consumed hours of my time. This search is so much better because at least it might (hopefully) pay off in the long run. If there’s a policy internship in New York City, odds are I have already looked up the job description.

Lastly, I check the normal stuff: Canvas, ctools, netflix, and youtube. Neither of these websites have a particularly high amount compared to the other. I had a lot of exams, so canvas was used a good amount.

If I am being honest, my history scares me. Note to self: get the hell off Facebook NOW.

Social Media Counts?

I found it interesting how many people used social media as examples of writing. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram- it never really occurred to me that “OMG just saw a baby laugh at a puppy #cute” could really count as writing. When I think of writing, I suppose I conjure up images of the traditional books, poems, articles- the stuff of Kerouac and Hemingway. But it makes perfect sense- in this fast-paced modern age,  our writing should be much quicker and more concise. Social media really is an excellent way of keeping us on our toes as writers. Word and character limits force us to get our thoughts and ideas across in a brief, yet entertaining manner. Likes and retweets are forms of instant feedback from readers. I think it is a sign of how we as writers need to evolve to keep up with the new forms of writing that come with new technology. Social media adds pressure to the budding writer by forcing him or her to produce new, concise content that is immediately judged by the public and has a viewing span of a few hours or days at most, however, it also removes pressure from the writer in many of the same ways. Social media puts publishing in the control of the writer, it provides an immediate audience, and does not have to be extremely long to be appreciated.

I also found it interesting that calligraphy was mentioned as a form of writing. Obviously, it is based on written text, but it always struck me as more of an art form than pure writing, but I suppose that is my archaic, and rigid definition of “writing” holding me back again. Calligraphy almost seems to give more weight and importance to the written word. While social media is based on rapid mechanical typing, calligraphy celebrates the beauty of the words in themselves, as each letter is painstakingly drawn out with care. I suppose one would have to choose words more carefully when writing in calligraphy because it takes so much more time to write each letter. In a way, calligraphy almost has the opposite effects as social media does on writing. I guess the whole exercise of outlining what really counts as writing really shows me how narrow my previous definition of writing was, and how the different modes of writing can really have an effect on the content itself.