30 Minutes of Word-Searching

I am sitting here with my rose-flavored bubble tea in Sweetology (formerly Momo Tea), searching first for the examples of writing I see around me. There are:

  1. Stickers on the wall that say things like “Café” and “fresh breeze” that add to the homey ambiance of the shop.
  2. The menu, which describes all of the different milk teas, coffees, lemonades, smoothies, frozen teas, and desserts, all of which come in a variety of flavors and can be combined with a slew of fruit jellies or tapioca bubbles.

Next, I turn to my laptop and observe which applications are already open:

  1. iCalendar, which I use religiously. Color-coded by event-type (i.e. class, office hours, fun), it looks like a rainbow mess, but keeps my life in order.
  2. iChat- where I can communicate by text message with other iPhones. Open right now is a conversation with my brother about a painting I got him last year. Our conversations are always speckled with emojis and smiley faces when sometimes words aren’t enough to communicate playfulness J
  3. Writing 200 Syllabus- I like to keep all my syllabi on my desktop for easy access.
  4. iTunes- Earlier today I was updating my “Blue” playlist, which is home to my mellowest indie rock. Most of my playlists are named after colors that match the tone of the songs.

At this point I go to one of my favorite web applications, “Stumble Upon” which takes the user to lots of different interesting websites. This is the evolution of my stumbling:

  1. First, a website that describes “25 words you should know,” my favorite being, “Mamihlapinatapai- a look shared by two people, each wishing the other would initiate something they both desire but which neither wants to begin”
  2. A list of websites that allow for the legal downloading of a variety of eBooks (I bookmark this to check out later)
  3. A poem called “Welcome to Society” by Erin Hanson, which I interpret to be about the many contradictions society poses and the inescapability of them all: “We’ll tell you that you’re worthless/That you shouldn’t make a sound/And then cry with all the others/As you’re buried in the ground”
  4. A romantic but questionably newsworthy story about a man who proposes to his girlfriend by writing a children’s book about a gorilla and a giraffe who fall in love.
  5. A poster titled “the brain of a Serial Killer” which includes data and short facts about the patterns that emerge in the lives and brains of serial murderers. As it turns out, Jim Fallon, a neuroscientist who studied the brains of serial killers for years found that they often have a low orbital cortex, which is the part of the brain “believed to be involved with ethical behavior, moral decision making, and impulse control.” I find it interesting that there is a science behind all of our extreme emotions or lack thereof.

This exercise has brought me to think about the adaptability of writing and how it can be used in ways ranging from communicating what food is served at a particular restaurant to scientific journalism.

2 thoughts to “30 Minutes of Word-Searching”

  1. Kaitlin,

    Stumble upon was a great idea for this! I fondly remember many boring nights where stumble upon kept me sane. I like the point about how versatile writing is, ranging from restaurant advertisement to scientific journals. One thing I was thinking about while reading your post, and doing my own search, was how the internet is shrinking the more conventional forms of literature. Or maybe the internet is breathing new life into writing by making it more accessible and expanding the ways to present writing. I feel like the new modes of writing are replacing the old, and new genres are crowding out more traditional ones. I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing, and is probably just the evolution of writing alongside technology. Thought provoking post!


  2. Kaitlin

    I love your approach to this assignment, starting in the physical world then moving to the internet to find more examples. I think it really allowed you to find a wide variety of writing. I think the most interesting thing is the contrast between using writing to communicate things like menu options and using writing to create a website like the list of places to legal download eBooks and, even further, contrasted with words that people should know. These pieces of writing all have such different functions, but they’re all writing. I just think the options for writing are all so interesting. Because, in all of your examples, thought had to go into the writing. Even while writing a menu, I’m sure a great deal of thought gets put into deciding what to write, how to describe the options, and where to put everything on the menu. I think it’s so cool that all of these pieces, although they are different, are all just various words strung together, but they all serve such different functions. I loved the reflection at the end of your post. It really made me think.


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