The Dreaded (yet always exciting) Pivot

In my entrepreneurship classes, I’ve learned that people often pivot during their endeavors, meaning that they quite literally move in a completely new and different direction partway through their project. The scary part? This is often after a good chunk of work has already been done. I pivoted big time last week after having a discussion with my friends about my capstone project.

Hearing their comments and suggestions was humorous.

“Oh, we know you love to people watch, Kelly.”

“It sounds like you’re looking mostly at people on their devices. Why can’t you write about that?”

“You love watching people–both in person and on social media!”

This reaffirmed that I was in the right genre, but my topic needed a little tweaking. After some brainstorming with Clint in class, I made an executive decision and did a lot of thinking and working on my Wix website this weekend. I’m still observing people, but now I will be focusing on people who are using technology in public, even when they’re surrounded by others. I’ll explore the idea of if it inhibits social interaction or not through three creative nonfiction stories. Now, I’m even more excited about my project and I’m ready to really get going. I’m a dork when it comes to human behavior, and I don’t care who knows it.

I’ll also probably need some help from you guys soon. I plan on creating a Google Form that asks about your own technology/social media usage, and how you perceive it impedes on your social life.

As always, thanks for reading!

Seeing Rebecca Solnit with Fellow Minor

This past Monday, Shannon and I went to listen to Rebecca Solnit’s talk, “Hope and Emergency.” Shannon suggested we go listen to her speech after reminding me how helpful analyzing her video in class was at the beginning of the semester. As she mentioned in her blog post, I was also a little hesitant about watching the speech. Her soft-spoken nature did not come across very strongly to me via video, and I was worried that this would be the case in person, as well. After all, the video we watched for class did not positively impact my thought process about my own project until I discussed it with fellow minors.

Luckily, this was not the case when listening to her in person. Her soft, calm voice was extremely strong. And this strength in it was only furthered by the fact that she was standing in front of a completely full auditorium that was silent, listening eagerly to every word she said. Every so often, she would take a short moment to take a sip of her water…and it was at these moments that she allowed her last spoken words to linger a little longer. This smooth, natural execution is what made her in-person delivery that much more impactful.

What stuck with me the most from her talk was when she talked about shortsightedness being such a huge issue. She addressed this by speaking of recent protests and how it is important to deal with power by not solely focusing on the past or present. Rebecca commented on how the focus always has to be the future. And how what we do now DOES make a difference.

This particularly resonated with me with regards to my project.

I find myself focusing on my past research. I also find myself focusing on where I am now with it. Sometimes I struggle to get past my current frame of mind regarding my progress, and I feel as though what I’m doing now is not as important or groundbreaking as I would like it to be. But keeping Rebecca’s advice in mind, I know that the parts I am working on now ARE extremely important.

Sticking to my production plan.

Continuing my research and annotated bibliographies.

Preparing and delivering my presentation pitch.

All these items, although not in a final deliverable state, WILL help me get to my end goal. Yes, there will be challenges and obstacles that may alter my path I initially laid out for my work. But, as Rebecca spoke to, reminding myself that everything I am doing now has importance in my final deliverable will continue to drive me.

Remaining Objective in a Subjective World

One of the main objectives of my Capstone project was to remain objective. Journalism and news today is so biased and exists for so many different political, social, and personal interests, and I wanted to help inspire a new genre of journalism that put objectivity at the top of its priority list. This task, however, is more difficult than I thought.

Remaining objective is one of the most important characteristics in ideal journalism. Journalism exists as a source of information for the people of a democracy. This information is “supposed to” be unbiased, thorough, and come from all ends of the political and social spectrum. The people of the democracy are then tasked with reading all of this information and deciding which viewpoint they personally believe in. This was the sort of objectivity I was hoping to replicate in my magazine project.

Objectivity is not just important for the people of a democracy, but it is extremely important for the women of a democracy. Today, men in the government are largely responsible for making decisions about issues that relate directly to women. While this lack of say in such issues is demeaning to women, it also suggests that women need not inform themselves about such issues since they ultimately have little to no influence in the decision making processes. This is the reason why women need to be more informed. By educating women, they can take a stance on issues that impact their lives and hopefully have more control relating to such issues. This can only be accomplished, however, if the information that women receive is objective and honest.

As I begin to write about issues that are significant to women, I find myself entering territory that can be viewed as biased. This is the case especially when I talk about politics and politicians. I had planned to make Donald Trump a major part of my magazine, but after presenting my project to the class, I realized that there is a way to talk about Donald Trump’s relation to women without have him be the focus of the content. Instead of focusing on “Donald Trump and Women’s Reproductive Rights” and I should instead focus on just women’s reproductive rights, and Donald Trump’s legislation might be mentioned at times, but it does not have to be the main focus.

As a result, I have learned why objectivity is so uncommon in the news today. In theory, it is ideal and just. In reality, it can be extremely difficult to execute.

 

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face” (Draft Development)

I guess I’ll start in a completely “original” fashion by describing my project (but who knows? It may be helpful if anyone outside of our class fancies reading this post or I wouldn’t blame anyone for simply forgetting what my topic is). For my Capstone project I have decided to do a podcast interview with my incredible teammates about our experiences as women boxers and being in a sport traditionally dominated by men. I also decided for context reasons I would introduce the podcast with a timeline about the history of boxing for those who are unfamiliar. My thought process is that history will provide context and perhaps strike interest for those will little to no knowledge about boxing. My research was not necessarily genre based as I haven’t honed in on specific podcasts I want to use as models, but I listen to podcasts fairly regularly so I’m not concerned on finding genre specific models at the moment. However, my research hunt in the past few weeks has turned up some extremely content rich sources. For example, here’s a sample of some of the facts I’ve discovered about the history of boxing:

  • 4000 BC: Historical evidence indicates that boxing may have originated in Northern Africa around this time. The sport also spread to Roman and Grecian cultures. In Rome, the sport was utilized for entertainment of the upper class and often the matches occurred between slaves or prisoners with the winner earning their freedom. These bouts were often fought to the death.

  • 1743: Jack Boughton from Britain established the first set of rules for boxing after he killed one of his opponents in the ring. He is known as “The Father of Boxing”.
  • 1908: American Jack Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion and this created a lot of controversy. Many white boxers refused to take fights against black boxers. Racial discrimination in the boxing world was rampant well into the 20th century. Jack Johnson was harassed so frequently during his reign as champion, he was forced out of the United States.

  • 1936: American fighter Joe Louis was knocked out in the 12th round of a fight against Germany’s Max Schmeling. The next year Joe Louis won the heavyweight championship against James Braddock, but refused to declare himself a champion until a rematch with Schmeling. The rematch was seen as a confrontation between the US and Nazi Germany, with Louis representing African Americans and Schmeling representing Aryan culture. Even Hitler and President Roosevelt themselves made statements prior to the fight. Joe Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round creating a pivotal moment for black athletes in the US.

  • 1993: Women are allowed to fight at an amatuer boxing level for the first time and after many discrimination lawsuits against USA boxing in the 1970s and 80s.

 

These are simply 5 of the amazing stories I discovered after reading up on the extensive history of the sport of boxing. I, myself, a superfan of the sport did not even know boxing dated back to 4000 BC. I also knew women were not allowed to box until the 20th century but I didn’t realize the official date was as late as 1993 for amatuer boxing. I think this raises questions and concerns about how the sport’s man-centric origin impacts women in the sport today, which is why my next part of the project will be an investigation, an extensive look into how myself and my female teammates have experienced the sport. Topics in the podcast will include how others perceive us as women boxers, our favorite moments or memories of the sport, what makes us passionate about boxing, and probably most importantly, how we view ourselves and claim our identities as fighters.

I think since conducting my historical research for the timeline, I’ve been wondering if the manner in which boxing was established (as being a show of manliness, of bravery, a demonstration of a man’s ability to be strong and tough) has something to do with why women are not as respected as men in the sport. Everything about the sport goes against the traditional idea of a woman: a homemaker, a caregiver, a lover. Being a fighter contradicts the idea of traditional femininity in every aspect. A woman who fights is someone who makes herself known and makes her punches known even more so. But why is it that a woman who fights cannot also be viewed as someone who can  love or care? Why can a man claim to love fighting but when a woman asserts the same thing she’s seen as socially unacceptable, repulsive, or violent? Is our world so divided?

Now I just need to design the timeline for the history of boxing because that will serve as my project introduction. I’ve already begun designing the layout and have 33 different moments in history I hope to include as well as a picture correlating with each major event. I think I can definitely have a solid draft by March 10th as I have already done most of the work. ((Also, March 10th is the day I get to see my all-time hero, the 77-1 record fighter, 2 time Olympic gold medalist, and first woman to headline a professional fight card, Claressa Shields fight live in Detroit – joke’s on you if you thought I’d get through one whole assignment without mentioning her or the fact I’m going to that fight (See picture of the queen below this paragraph)). However, I need to begin scheduling my interviews for the podcast. I’ve already talked to my three teammates I will interview and they’ve agreed to be a part of my project, but the next step is scheduling these interviews and eventually editing them into a hopefully relevant and entertaining podcast.

I am actually planning on reading two novels over spring break while on the beach written by my patronus, Carrie Fisher. I’ve just placed them in my suitcase. I think that even though her novels are not genre or content based models, I personally learn a lot from her style of narration and how strong her voice is in her writing. She is the image of charisma in my opinion. I want to use these novels to help me think about the narration styles I want to use via podcast. I want my voice to come through as well as the voices of my interviewees. I want to talk openly and maybe too honestly. I think, like Carrie Fisher’s novels, this feeling of earning the absolute disclosure of details will make the podcast feel relatable even if listeners have no experience in the sport of boxing. My biggest goal is for the podcast to be three things:  real, relatable, and entertaining.

Seeing Rebecca Solnit

 

On Monday, Amanda and I went to see Rebecca Solnit’s talk, titled “Hope and Emergency.” As some of you may remember, we watched a video of Solnit speak at the beginning of the semester. That was well before my project had any direction, so I thought it would be interesting to hear her again now that I my project is taking shape. I was a little nervous to see her speak because I was worried that her calm demeanor would not make for an interesting event. But this was not my experience.

Seeing Solnit speak in person was very different than watching her on my computer. When I watched her on video, I thought she was hard to follow and her voice seemed to drag on. What she was saying was interesting, but it was difficult for me to follow along. But seeing her in person was much easier for me to understand. Sure, maybe I was just able to focus better because she was standing in front of me and there weren’t internet and other computer distractions. I’m not sure what it was, but I felt I understood her speech and train of thought much better in person.

That being said, there was one point that she made that has stayed with me since Monday. Among other topics, she spent a good amount of time talking about Standing Rock and the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is something I have been following for months now and I was happy that she brought it up given the recent progression in its construction. Personally, I’m with the protesters. And so is Solnit. I couldn’t tell where she was going with her points besides describing the current situation and current examples of activism.

Instead of calling for more action or a desperate hopeful cry for something extraordinary, Solnit admitted that it looks like the pipeline will be built. I hadn’t heard anyone who is against the pipeline say that before. I thought it was strange that she would be admitting defeat, but then she continued and I realized she wasn’t. She said that although this pipeline would likely be built, more pipelines probably wouldn’t. The delays caused by protesters cost billions, making future construction a less lucrative investment. Just because this one couldn’t be stopped doesn’t mean the protests and activism was a failure. Even though the goal was not technically reached, the movement was still a success.

I thought this was an incredible piece of advice that can be applied to almost anything. For the capstone project, for other classwork, for career goals and for personal goals. Maybe my capstone won’t end up exactly as I intended, but that doesn’t make it a failure. Something is bound to go wrong and I will have to make changes in my plans. As these challenges come up, I will remember Solnit’s words of wisdom and keep working.

 

Shameless Plug

I figured it’s about time to give a little update on my project. While I am very excited about the beginning design of my wix site, I still have a lot to do. I have done plenty of genre research on how the set up the educational site and I have realized that I want mine to be slightly more aesthetically appealing and to include more images than the traditional university resource site.

As far as other research, I am still waiting on students to return completed survey–as that is the most important component of my project research. While I have gotten a few surveys back thus far, I have found that waiting for people to complete them might be the most difficult part of the project. I hate leaving my fate (and also this project’s fate) in the hands of others, but I’m trying my hardest to be patient.

I have a lot of ideas about how I want to continue to design/organize my wix site, but I won’t be able to decide for sure until I get student feedback. Currently, I am hoping to compare student answers with university resource advice in a side-by-side format. If their advice is similar, I will be able to comment on that and show the connection; however, if the advice is quite different (as I am expecting), then it will be even more interesting to see the two side-by-side.

Additionally, I can’t really organize the basic tabs based on topic yet. I need to get a better idea of what the student advice is mostly focused on. I know there will be advice about academics because I asked about that specifically, but other general advice could differ. I am expecting advice about extracurriculars and general college/partying advice.

Basically, as the title of this blog post indicates….here is my shameless plug:

PLEASE FILL OUT MY SURVEY!!!!!

Draft Development Mini Assignment

When I sat down to take a stab at drafting an introduction, I felt a little bit terrified, or underprepared, rather. It felt like nothing more informed than a narrowed or focused free-write. That’s okay, though. Shelley said that the introduction can and is supposed to be, as Lamott says, “a shitty first draft.” While I was conducting this free write—I mean—introduction, I began formulating several questions about my capstone project: How do I articulate my purpose? How can I introduce myself to my audience, if they don’t know me? How can I effectively explain how personal this work is for me—that it’s entangled into my every day life and every minute thoughts. But these doubts aren’t really doubts—that is much too harsh of a word. They’re gaps in my knowledge, or better yet, my research. I say better yet because a lapse in my research takes the onus off of my person and on to my actions or behavior leading up to this project. It’s not that I’m inherently unknowledgeable I’m just not quite well-read enough to begin. I didn’t know these holes were there, and to be quite honest I might not have never known without doing this exercise. I may as well sat down to do my introduction after spring break and been SOL; I would have panicked. But now that these gaps are visible, I can conduct the research that will serve as the caulk for these cracks.

Before I started my research (at all) I thought I couldn’t pull off a project so personal to me, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to pioneer the laypeople’s sociology movement. But after having done my research (I’m still not done) I see that I’m not alone. There are plenty of people who have organized their most personal thoughts into writing that is as humorous as it is insightful; as playful as it is sociopolitical. Take Caitlin Moran’s book for example. She states, “Feminism is too important to be discussed only by academics.” Right there—that line—that is strikingly similar to my unarticulated mission statement. And it takes me close to conveying my purpose. Writers like Caitlin Moran nudge me closer and closer to being able to write a satisfying introduction. Thus, I must research more work that has the same effect on me as hers does.

That said, I still “need to know” how these people have written their introductions or author’s n
otes. In other words, how did they convey their personality (who they are) so that people could fully grasp the humor in their work? Which means I need to study more comical pieces. So for instance maybe taking a glance at David Sedaris’s openings. Or glancing at comedy writers pieces at the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker or BuzzFeed. I need to get a better grip on my tone—and how I can express it in a way that is aligned with my purpose. Does that make sense? Basically, my tone is my brand, and my brand has an affinity with my purpose. Therefore my purpose and my tone are not mutually exclusive so finding a work that is confident in their brand/tone will inform the other aspects of my rhetorical situation. And I’ll definitely be able to read some funny articles in time for my March 10th submission!

Cue the entrance of Joan Didion, my patronus. She’s not the Tina Fey I might need, but she has such a strong style—such a strong tone—that allows her to have become a strong brand. People want to buy her brand; people want to consumer her products (aka read her books). I can’t quite mimic the conventions of her tone. But I can be inspired by where it has taken her as a writer—she is so unapologetically herself.

Providing Crucial Context

After I met with my project mentor and gave my midpoint presentation on my Capstone project, I noticed that I keep making the same mistake: I consistently forget to signal the purpose of my project. When I talk about my project, I dive right into my analysis without giving a proper context for my work. This is ironic, considering that my project highlights the importance of context in examining Frank Ocean’s Blonde. My project is meant to be a cohesive review of the album that analyzes its political significance. When I do not indicate this, however, it may sound like I’m just examining the album without a specific agenda in mind.

My mentor suggested that I create a cover page for my website with an introduction to the project. By priming the reader for what is to come, I can ensure that my work is viewed and interpreted properly. This introduction will be especially useful for my project, since it has distinct parts to it. I’m approaching Blonde from both a micro and macro perspective, examining each track before I write my overarching essay on the album. Discovering how each song fits into the larger album has allowed me to find nuances that point to larger themes of Blonde; examining individual songs has greatly informed my overall perspective of Ocean’s work. The cover page for my website can explain the connection between the two parts of my project, showing that the micro-level analysis leads to the broader essay on the album.

My mentor also pointed out how the different parts of my project are interconnected, suggesting that while individual track “reviews” lead to the overall album essay, different parts of the album review could link back to the song examinations. In this way, he said, the project is “radial.” He showed me Sarah Spitery’s Capstone website, which also has an interconnectedness to it. I included a screenshot of her homepage below. The focal essay of her project is surrounded by supplemental essays that inform the final work. I plan to arrange my website in a similar way to Sarah’s, with the smaller analyses leading to the center album review. My introductory page, though, can clue the reader into how my project functions.

Text To Video And Back To Text

As I prepared for my class presentation, I got to work deciding how exactly I would piece this baby together. For my capstone project I am creating an 8-10 minute flash documentary, which will detail the rise of veganism into mainstream popular culture. It’ll be in the form of a video, using footage pieced together from various locations found around the web and with my own or a friend’s voice over, most likely.

Though having dozens of clips at my disposal, they weren’t necessarily, well, edited yet into a nice and neat coherent presentation. Lots of fragments, lots of b-roll with no audio. These clips and the messages I’m attempting to send with them would then need to be translated into text and still images in order for people to understand my presentation. Of course, this is where much of my video information originated; from written articles, charts, and photographs that I had adapted to fit into my video. And now here these figures were being re-rendered back into text, but this time in my own words, which is a whole other story.

This translation back and forth between mediums had be envisioning the whole process as some sort of academic form of telephone. How has the message changed from its original form of text or still image? Hopefully I didn’t screw it up too badly!

Dreams and Nightmares

When I was thirteen, I loved the Jonas Brothers. In particular, I loved Nick since he and I shared the same curse of having Type 1 Diabetes.

I remember dreaming that he and his brothers were visiting my family, and on their way out of the house, I stepped out of my comfort zone and boldly asked Nick if we could keep in touch and email each other, since I was terrified of telephones.

“Yeah, maybe”, his nonchalant voice threw back at me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Growing up, I was regularly visited by distinctive dreams. I don’t remember all of them, though I do recall several ending with me jumping off of a downtown high-rise. However, there is one dream, or nightmare rather, that I will never forget.

It was around twilight in my small suburban neighborhood in Wisconsin, and T-Rexes were invading our town and causing mass destruction. I looked outside through our family room window and saw dozens of towering dinosaurs prancing around the houses. Next thing I know, I was cornered by velociraptors in our same family room. They were led by a similar yet unidentifiable creature. I don’t recall whether he was a person or animal, or some hybrid, but he led the pack as they slowly moved in closer, closer, closer…

Then I woke.