But They’re All So Pretty…

Wow, time flies incredibly fast.

I’m starting to look into/solidify a template for my final capstone portfolio, which is proving to be more difficult than I imagined. I am just so indecisive. Some templates are really visually appealing but don’t necessarily match the material I want to showcase. Other templates I could see being easy to use but I’m not as obsessed with their layouts. At least I have decided that I will be using a Wix template. I’m also concerned that I don’t have enough pictures to fill my portfolio. A lot of the formats have these beautiful, high resolution images, and yet I’m not entirely sure how or if I should incorporate my own images? It may be interesting to go around campus (with a rented, high resolution camera) and take pictures of things I like/describe my interests. I think that actually may be a goal of mine for the capstone portfolio.

I think I’m most excited about finally having an online space where I can direct others to my work. I always say to people that “I love writing” or that “I’ve taken so many writing classes,” and now I will have a professional display to back it up! On that note, I want to make sure my portfolio is professional enough where I would feel comfortable attaching its link to my resume or forwarding it along to a desired employer. Not many people have numerous writing samples to share and I want to take advantage of that!

Sorry this post was some what of a rant 🙂

 

Interactive Timelines

For my new media skill I am going to learn how to make an interactive timeline on Tiki-Toki. I think this would be a really great way to visually document my three-week withdrawal from social media. Each day of the timeline would include the aspects of connection/conversation that I am recording, along with any commentary I want to include.

What’s great about the Tiki Toki platform – besides from it being very clear and easy-to-use – is that you can embed images and videos into each “day” or “post.” The user can easily scroll through the timeline by dragging their mouse over the days they wish to read more about. The only downside to the platform is that I may need to pay a small amount to upgrade for a better version of the timeline. Karly and I took some time today to go over the platform (she will be using it for her comedy in film project), and we believe the upgrade may be worth the additional features it provides. Below is an example of one of the timelines:

beautiful-timeline

On another note, after meeting with my mentor on Tuesday (yay!) I learned that my project is not really an “experiment.” Instead, I will be referring to the method as an auto-ethnography. An auto-ethnography is “a form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experience and connects this autobiographical story to wider cultural, political, and social meanings and understandings.”

That’s all for now!

 

 

 

 

The Medium of my Message

I think what excites me most about my writing at this point in my life is my ability to no longer see my writing as just 3-7 sentence paragraphs and black and white pages. The mediums through which I can convey a message are more unique and tailored than ever before. I guess this falls under a similar category as employing new media in my writing, something I wish to explore as much as possible throughout the semester. Whether it’s by making a website, Tumblr page, videos, or BuzzFeed top ten lists, I always try to brainstorm all options before deciding what medium could best highlight a specific piece of my writing.

On this note, one of my favorite assignments during the Gateway Course was my re-purposing project. I took a traditional, argumentative essay on unpaid internships from my English 225 class – about 8 pages in length – and transformed it into a 500-word opinion-editorial piece intended for the Michigan Daily. Although challenging, I love how I was forced to re-examine the points of my past work, and determine the key components necessary to relay my argument to a wider, undergraduate audience.

I think it’s very important to embrace all of the different forms of writing that are now available to pretty much anyone with access to a computer and a desire to learn. So why not try and take a past essay you’ve written and turn it into a twitter news feed? Or what about taking recorded interviews and making a Prezi out of them? These types of transformations excite me.

 

Thinking Outside Of The Box

I think one of the most interesting things I’ve taken away so far from working on the Capstone Project is how personal topics can be looked at (and written about) in an academic light. My Capstone Project topic stems from my personal social media use, but I will be analyzing it with a critical lens.

I believe this writing mixture will shape my Writers Evolution essay because I no longer have such strict boarders between different genres of writing. I think my best writing has been when I have been able to combine creative work with research and strategy. I think two main pieces of “evidence,” if you will, to show this progression will be the work I completed in my Argumentative Writing class and then also the Capstone Project.

Along those same lines, the Capstone Project has been a type of final hoorah in terms of “thinking outside of the box.” When entering college I would have never thought I would be writing papers on plastic surgery, or my nickname to name a few examples of my past essays for class.

think-outside-the-box

JoJo Moyes

Last summer, one of my favorite authors, JoJo Moyes, was working on the novel, The Girl You Left Behind. The book is about a dangerous and complicated attraction between a French woman and a German Kommandant during World War I coupled with a modern-day story of a young woman struggling to get over the death of her famed architect husband. Moyes “manages to bring in the issues of war reparations, enemy lines, and class differences, all in one joyful human package.”

Normally, Moyes enjoys writing romance novels that many may find typical of the genre. However, this time around, she sought to conquer new territory and incorporate historical tensions into her work. One of the novel’s most noted characteristics is how it puts characters from drastically different worlds next to each other. I commend this branching out decision of Moyes. I too have never written about my current proposal topic – something that can be intimidating at first.

One of the biggest challenges Moyes faced while writing The Girl You Left Behind was gathering information from the era since there are very few survivors today with whom she could speak with. Additionally, she found that a lot of information about life in France under the occupation was destroyed due to the expansive nature of bombings in World War I. Because of this, Moyes relied heavily on photo and journal archives she found on the Internet.

One of the most interesting/useful parts of the interview for me was when Moyes commented on how she wasn’t sure if she could bring anything fresh to books already published on the World War I topic. Moyes watched documentaries and discovered that she hadn’t realized how extensive the German occupation of France was. Drawing from this discovery, she began writing. The idea of “freshness” has really been something I have been struggling with regarding my own project. I want to make sure that I am not simply regurgitating past research on social media impacting feelings of loneliness.

Anyone have any tips on how to ensure your project is taking on a unique perspective?

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Measuring Loneliness Through Social Media Withdrawal Experiment

Hello!

After my meeting with Julie yesterday, one of the biggest proposal revisions was to create quantifiable measures to my project. But before I go into improvements, let me recap what it is that I plan on doing!

I am currently enrolled in a class on the social consequences of mobile communication, which sparked my interest on how peoples’ current obsession with social media may or may not contribute to feelings of loneliness. At first, I was going to create diary-like blog posts that described my own experience with giving up three different social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. However, after our meeting I realized that I need to have more quantifiable measures that I can look back on, analyze, and compare to pre-existing literature on the subject.

I am going to extend my “withdrawal” period from social media for 21 days (3 weeks), based on studies that show it takes that amount of time to break a habit (or in my case, an obsession with checking these platforms multiple times a day). Each day during the experiment, I will be tracking the amount of conversations I have (what a “conversation” entails will be defined beforehand). I will also be tracking my daily levels of connectivity (based on 6 factors that comprise what connectivity is).

After the three week period, I plan on graphing the data I have collected and examining the ways in which my experience matches or doesn’t match up with theoretical explanations of mobile communication and loneliness.

Wish me luck!

Check out this article on a self-proclaimed social media addict who gave up social media for 7 days.

Social Media and Loneliness

I am currently enrolled in a class on the social consequences of mobile communication, which has really got me thinking. Are social media platforms encouraging the feeling of loneliness by creating superficial connections? For my Capstone Project, I seek to explore this idea further, delving into why in today’s society it is so difficult to “unplug” ourselves from social media technology. Even right now as I write this blog post am I checking my Snapchats, instagram feed, etc. Its completely encompassing!

The idea of being alone together has been studied by Sherry Turkle in her book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. The Vinmeo video –The Innovation of Loneliness – explains the concept really well. With my project I seek to combine both theoretical perspectives on the matter with personal analyses of my own social media usage, hopefully arriving at some sort of conclusion on the effects of social media usage on connectivity satisfaction.

Some overarching questions I have come up with:

  • Do social media platforms actually help to solve the problem of isolation or do they simply mask deeper issues?
  • How do people feel before, during, and after using social media platforms?
  • What trends over the past decades have led to an increase in a feeling of loneliness?

 

Feeling Nostalgic…

After reflecting on two memories from different periods of time in my life, I’ve realized how much I’ve changed over the past two years. For some strange reason, my initial thought when reminiscing about my semester of Writing 220 was the process of writing/revising my resume. I was so anxious about whether I had enough experience or even the right kind of experience to land my first public relations internship. At first, I had no idea why fixing my resume was my most prominent memory considering its not all that interesting or unique. But then after the second reflecting exercise, I saw a parallel between the selected memories and my personality progression throughout my time at Michigan. But I’ll get to that part in a bit.

When asked to think of a more recent memory, my brain immediately flooded with images I wanted to re-live again: my time in Las Vegas, football Saturday pregames, Christmas parties, etc. After a minute, I was able to focus my thoughts on my recent trip to Aruba, particularly a day when I unexpectedly decided to go off-roading on ATVs with my sister (you know, those really manly looking 4-wheel cars/trucks).

Normally, my sister and I are lounging on the beach type of people when we go on vacation. But we decided to switch it up this time. I specifically remember us on dry dirt roads surrounded by big ocean waves. The temperature was extremely high that day and I could feel it even more than usual because of my sunburn. There was a strong breeze due to the speed of the car that kept my hair back from my face while riding. It was one of those things where you don’t feel like you have complete control over what you’re doing but keep going anyway. I never took my eyes off of my sister in front of me who was following the tour guide to our various locations. The roads were bumpy and the machine was hot. But I felt so liberated going fast down the dirt roads. And I realized that relaxation could come in other forms than just laying on the beach tanning and listening to music.

I believe now, as I come closer to graduation, that I appreciate and value my experiences so much more. I can’t help but feel nostalgic about my time at Michigan because I’ve progressed as a person so much more than I expected. My first memory was at its core a girl intimidated by what she didn’t know (the scary professional world). The second, reflected a confident and adventurous woman ready and excited for all the amazing things life has to offer.

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The End of the Beginning!

I just completed my online portfolio and I could not be any more proud! I had previously written a blog post- I believe around three weeks ago- explaining how I wanted to see my completed portfolio and have a BAM moment. This moment is me now looking at my work and really liking how it reflects who I am as a writer. I wanted the theme to be clean and feminine. It is crazy to think how much more familiar I am with wordpress now than I was at the beginning of the semester. I have even been telling my friends outside of the class that they should make websites showcasing their work!

With that said, although this is the end of our Writing 220 class, I can’t wait to further develop as a writer within the next couple of years and then come back to take the capstone course! I can only imagine how much more work I will have to incorporate into my portfolio.

So without further ado, here it is! Enjoy!!

Alexis Biaggi’s Portfolio

Nicholas Sparks, I Love You.

I recently watched an interview with another one of my favorite authors, Nicholas Sparks, and I was pleasantly surprised at how normal he is for having produced some of the best romantic novels of all time. He kept reiterating that writing well will always be a challenge, especially if you want what you write to last for a while. He explains that more often than not it doesn’t go well. When asked why he loves to write he explains that he loves the challenge. He then asks the interviewer, “Why would you climb Mount Everest twice?” It is because you want to keep improving, climb it faster. I definitely can apply this to my own writing. I want to be able to express my thoughts clearer, reach more people, and overall just keep improving. I love how he emphasizes writing as a continuously growing thing.

And to top it all off… he wrote The Notebook – enough said.