Organzing an Essay (Website??)

So I am honestly very excited for the possibilities that arise from using a website as the final container for my project. I really am. Really.

trump, believe, lie
I’m just not used to organizing my life this way. And when I say “my life” I mean my writing (feel free to laugh tragically right along with me).

So my project started as a way to make a “book” that would have originally just been for my eyes to revisit the research from my final architecture studio design project, into something actively accessible by the populations for which I’m theoretically trying to design. But what is a website if not one of the most accessible platforms? Why am I have an issue?

I’ll tell ya, it seemed good on paper to combine the efforts of my courses like this, but there is a bit of difficulty. Mostly in my own headspace categorizing. My professor in my studio course is all for the website instead of a book because the argument of access makes sense. My difficulty is organizing.

In trying to develop the thesis writing I’ve done in my architecture course into something more for capstone, I’ve been working in the mode of essay organizing. It help keeps me focused on what I need to be saying, how to transition between topics, and what I’m not doing. But websites are different, right? I don’t think that paragraph transitions between topics need to matter as much when the space between them becomes an “tab” which doesn’t even need to be accessed in any particular order. We have seen examples in class that have been very ordered, somehow, but I find myself wanting to branch out from the linear essay format and explore how to make it more of a web.

bill murrary, pun, facepalm
#cantstopwontstop making puns

How can I start? It feels like I might definitely be overcomplicating this, right? Because removing transitions (my heart just stopped a bit) or at least lessening their importance should make organizing easier, right? Storyboarding for the website was really helpful to figure out what I thought I needed, but I think I could’ve gotten even more specific. I am a sucker for well-developed plans. What I did was try to plan out, via tabs. But now that we’re work shopping project samples, I’m finding that the organization of my writing is not particularly reflective of that storyboard. Is that a personal problem? Have I just been making poor decisions? And yet, maybe I’m overlooking how website have their own style of transitions between tabs?

Any and all of these could be the truth.

I wonder if this is an issue that the MiW godcreators thought of when making a website be a requirement of the final product. The issue of form-finding. And comfort zones. I think I’m losing my train of thought.

The Terrifying Fear of Not Being Funny

As somebody who is constantly making snarky jokes on facebook, I didn’t think that writing a Daily Show/Last Week Tonight-esque bit for my remediation project would be too difficult. I was very very wrong. Since attempting the storyboard and subsequent script writing for this piece has caused to me to gain a lot of respect for the Daily Show writers. The Daily Show does two major things really well:  it informs and provides a political critique of current issues andalso it’s hilarious. The hard part is balancing the two. In my attempt to write a similar script on the topic of corruption in banking, I constantly found myself one of two questions:

(1) Is this even funny?

(2) Is this even informative?

The second question is easier to address. When content seems too driven by humor, you can add more serious facts and boring words like “sub-prime mortgage” and “collateralized debt obligation.” But when you’re not sure if something is funny, it’s not to objectively make it funnier. Humor is, after all, a very subjective thing. So about half-way through writing in my script, I started to question if any of my jokes were actually funny, which is a pretty demoralizing feeling. Luckily, this didn’t last long as I ran them by some friends who thought the content was hilarious. I learned that the best way to approach the content was by outlining the big-picture arguments seriously, but finding the most humorous anecdotes to provide as evidence. For example, the topic of investment banks disregarding client interests isn’t inherently funny at all. However, the famous allegation made two years ago that investment bankers at Goldman Sachs often referred to clients as “muppets” in emails is undoubtedly hilarious. Even without context, the following picture (of Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and everyone’s favorite green puppet) is pretty funny in my opinion:

blankfein-kermit

As I begin to finalize my script, here is what the first two pages look like: (with clips and quotes indicated in red)

Capture

 

 

Hopefully, if everything comes together nicely for the final cut, I’ll have a product that’s both informative and funny.

 

Storyboards and Mock-Ups…

Storyboards and mock-ups, mock-ups and storyboards…oh what tantalizing fun. For my remediation project, turning a short story into 2-3 film trailers, the storyboards are crucial. Having an outline of the kind of shots I want to have and what I want in the shots gets me decently far along. Making my mock-up for the ePortfolio was another really important process, giving me much clarity into exactly how I want my website to look. Read More

Mock-Ups

A mock-up is supposed to be an outline for a media project. And this accurately describes my experience creating a mock-up for my remediation project. I got out a pen and paper. I thought about the exigence for the photo campaign that I decided I was going to create. And I got drawing. I mapped out what I wanted to take photos of, so that the photographs I include would evoke the necessary emotion. I’m no artist. My drawings are basic. But this wasn’t frustrating for me. I knew that when I took the photographs the mock-up would come to life.

Remediation Mock-Up

 

My e-portfolio mock-up experience was different. It wasn’t like I was creating an outline. I had started working on my e-portfolio without a mock-up. Clicking this to change that. I must have went through hundreds of changes before I came up with a design layout that fit with this exigence. I found that clicking around and having the changes manifest immediately was the best way for me to deliberate on a design. It was the best for me to begin an outline. Had I just created a mock-up for the first idea that came to mind, by the time I was actually editing online, my mock-up be present in my actual design. Getting the design just right was frustrating. It took so much time to make such insignificant changes, but I think it paid off. I am really happy with the “outline” I have created for my e-portfolio.

My e-portfolio mock-up

My digital e-portfolio mock-up

 

Overall, the two experiences were very different. I think that working with web design lends well to fooling around with the capabilities, then going back and creating an outline. Maybe this is just because I was unsure of the web design capabilities. Or maybe this is because the changes made within web design are instant, while the changes made within a photography require a lot to manifest. Regardless, the mock-ups have been proving helpful and I am glad we were required to use them.

Remediation & ePortfolio Mockups

For my remediation project, I made a very basic mock-up of my brochure. I didn’t have a clear vision for what colors and themes I wanted to use so I just drew a very simple layout for each page. It made me realize that I definitely want to explore online brochure templates so that I don’t have to create my layout from scratch. The Brother Creative Center offers a lot of free brochure templates so I’ll have to look into those for the next phase of my project. I’m sure I’ll start running into problems once I start using the templates, but so far my project seems like it will be fairly straightforward.

photo1-5

For my ePortfolio, I found a template on WiX that I love so I based my mockup entirely on that. For the main page, the layout has a simple title and background photo without any explanatory text. I like this template because it allows me to ease the audience into my ePortfolio without first becoming immediately overwhelmed with text. There are tabs at the top that users can click on to navigate, including an “About” button that will link to an explanation of my portfolio. Certain features of editing have been a little frustrating but for the most part things are going smoothly. My only concern is how I plan on displaying all my writing from this class. I can’t decide if I want each project in a separate tab or if I should put all the pieces under one general category and do sub-tabs.

photo1-6Eportfolio screenshot

Storyboarding My Remediation Project

Seeing as how I made the brilliant decision to use a yellow colored pencil, rendering my eportfolio mock-up essential impossible to see, I will instead focus on my remediation storyboard for this post.

Storyboard
Storyboard for my Remediation Project

Luckily, because I am going to be doing a podcast, I was able to avoid any drawings in my storyboard. The rough storyboarding process went really well, and helped me think of a few different ideas that I hadn’t thought of up until that point, including adding a commercial to break up two of the segments, as well as come up with opening and closing statements.

One of the biggest obstacles I am having right now is finding about 2 or 3 hours of time where both of my guests and myself are willing and able to sit down and record all of the audio that I need. Even though I am planning on a 30-45 minute long final product, I’d like to get around 2 hours of audio recorded so that I have plenty of material to work with during the editing process. During the storyboarding process, I realized that only my “1st period” requires both of my guests in the room together. After that, answering the questions sent in by “listeners” (I’ll most likely make these up myself or ask other friends to come up with a few) and discussing life after hockey doesn’t necessarily require answers by both guests. This might be the answer I am looking for on how to overcome scheduling conflicts.

During the storyboarding process, I found it frustrating that I haven’t really decided how scripted I want this project to be. Ideally, I would be able to give each of my guests a note card with the major themes and goals I aim to cover in the podcast and just let the discussion happen naturally. The problem with this is that neither myself nor my guests have ever recorded a podcast, and I fear that our inexperience will lead to a lot of awkward and unusable audio. After creating my storyboard, I think that I am going to leave the details of my guests answers up to them, but I am going to write up a script of how I want the discussion to progress. Hopefully doing this will keep my podcast sounding like a natural discussion between friends, but also make sure the exigence of my project is adequately covered.

Every Setback has a Silver Lining

My Remediation Project has changed so much since the very beginning.  For my storyboard, I originally planned to do a comparison of students in Chicago versus students in Ann Arbor (since I was in Chicago this past weekend).  I wanted to interview a lot of individuals and do a couple in-depth interviews to get a broad base from which I could draw from.  I was very excited with how my storyboard planning went; I had it all planned out with the various angles I wanted to film from and which parts I would have a voice-over for.

My hope was to find similarities and differences between these students and give a comparison to the viewer.  It was very frustrating, though, to have such difficulty filming in Chicago.  First and foremost, trying to film on a game-day weekend is never an easy accomplishment…especially when you are extremely sick.  It was so frustrating!  I went there with hopes of feeling better, but to no avail. As I sit in my bed writing this, I am still extremely annoyed at how my body cannot seem to shake this fever/sore throat/congestion.

But every setback has a silver lining, right?

Being sick has given me time to think of how I want to change my approach: I have now decided to do a comparison of students in Ross versus students in LSA.  Since I am a student in both programs, I thought it would be interesting to see if there are similarities/differences among the two studies of individuals at Uofm.  This change in thought has also shifted how I am thinking of setting up my ePortfolio; I want my ePortfolio to be representative of how I am a student in both since they make up who I am.  Luckily, my planning for my ePortfolio has not been nearly as frustrating  since I have a pretty clear idea of how I want to set it up.

My storyboard for the Remediation project will stay almost exactly the same since I am still doing a comparison of two groups of students, which was my original plan. I am even more excited now since the topic hits closer to home.  I can’t wait to feel better and get filming this week!

Storyboard pg 1
Storyboard pg 1

 

Storyboard pg 2
Storyboard pg 2
Storyboard pg 3
Storyboard pg 3
Storyboard pg 4
Storyboard pg 4

Two Technology Projects Later…

So far for my remediation project I have only created my storyboard. I am in the beginning process of getting done my interviews because I had to first set them up. However, I have faith in my storyboard that I will be able to put together my iMovie fairly easy once I do get my interviews done, along with my supporting evidence/examples. I am more or less worried about finishing up my interviews in time for the rough cut because I traveled this past weekend to California for a tournament and I get stressed when we travel because I do not get a lot of time for work/planning of my week. But because my storyboard is pretty detailed regarding what I need for each scene, I know I will be able to piece things together once I receive the right information needed from my interviews.

Now for my e-portfolio… I am SUPER stoked to get this ready to go for the public to see, but the timing of everything is stressing me out. Also, I feel like I am not ready for these two pushes of technology for this one class, but I am going to try and knock things out this upcoming week. I have been able to balance a lot of things all at one time so I know I will be able to figure out these to projects (although they are out of my expertise). I love the layout of my e-portfolio:

However, I am having a hard time of how I want to represent my three projects on my front page. I am still trying to brainstorm something different and unique, so we shall see what my brain creates. I honestly cannot wait for the final product for this project because I know I will be very proud of my self of figuring out how to create something like this.

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.47.04 PM
I do not like this format right now… so hopefully I can think of something more creative to get my audience engaged.

You never know unless you try

I slightly underestimated the difficulty of creating a storyboard for my remediation project. My repurposing project was a storyboard, so I figured the storyboard for my remediation project would be basically the same. But my repurposing storyboard was for a printed children’s book, and my remediation project is digital (a video). So there had to be some differences between the two. The difficulty was discovering those differences. How did I want to change my repurposing project to become a storyboard for a digital project? Did I want to merge some of the illustrations together to make fewer more detailed illustrations? I thought about this because, in my video, I’ll be talking as I draw, so I can still highlight all the important aspects even if they aren’t given their own pages. But my other option was splitting up my illustrations and text into more “scenes”. I chose the latter because it allows me to add more detail overall and really set up my project as a video with “scenes”. I can draw a scene and then zoom in and draw just a character to show his facial expression, for example. So, I spent most of my storyboarding time deciding which illustrations to break up as well as where to build the background music. I still need to decide if I can/want to add sound effects like splashing and whacking to my video.

As you can see below, I don’t have much of a vision for my e-portfolio. I just can’t picture what I want it to look like.

Photo of e-portfolio mock up

 

I know certain aspects I want my portfolio to have – clean, simple navigation, very visual (barely any text on the home page), not a lot of in-text links – but I still can’t really picture the design I want. At times, I feel like I have too many competing ideas floating around in my head, and at other times I feel like I don’t have enough workable and cohesive ideas. Will all of my ideas work well together? I really think that I just need to start trying my different ideas out with my chosen template to answer that question. I just won’t know until I try.

 

Let’s mock it up!

My remediation project traveled a long way before it becomes what it is right now. In the beginning, I wanted to create a Podcast station to broadcast about shopping experiences of UM students. Basically, my plan is to make it  a free style station, which would include casual interviews and conversations. However, I found Podcast is not the best choice for a theme like shopping. The final project would be much better if it could have some visual elements. Therefore, I turned to Instagram with the suggestions from my group members. There my ideal is to make an instagram gallery that includes UM students street fashion images and also interviews from those people, but I learned there was words limit and I couldn’t create a long About page to introduce the project, thus, made it harder for the audience to understand my exigence. Looking through previous students’ remediation examples, I figured out the best medium for me should be a website. Though we are doing another website for eportfolio, I think there is potential and room for me to express my idea and create a more focused platform about shopping. My final decision is to create a Wix website since I am very familiar with it, and the design and functions can better deliver my messages.

It is always a story of choices, from planning to taking action and observing the growth and final results. I started to create another site for my remediation, and it automatically direct me to choose template. To be honest, I almost went through all of the templates and chose the one appears here under thousand times of comparison. One thing I really like about Wix is that you could see the actual appearance of the website as you move things around. Because I’m a detail-oriented person, I couldn’t bear any tilt or weird structure of the website. Although I very much enjoyed the designing process, it really took much longer time than I expected. I chose a template originally designed for a tailor company because the style is simple but close to my theme. I named my website Happy Closet, which intended to emphasis the relationship between shopping and happiness; in addition, I put a UM logo on top of the website title to narrow the group of the target audience. Then comes the layout, the paragraph position, the image position, the font, the size, and a lot more details. I have learned to add feedback, add anchor to pages, etc. I love to see the result comes out successfully when I apply my learning. I should say remediation is much more fun than simply writing, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s  final works because they are the presentation of our great efforts.

Mock-up 2 web pages of Happy Closet website
Mock-up 2 web pages of Happy Closet website
Mock-up web pages of Happy Closet website
Mock-up web pages of Happy Closet website