E-Portfolio – Check it out!

For my E-Portfolio I have attempted to display a variety of my works in different fields while also keeping it at a professional level. I have included my resume, some policy paper samples from my experience so far at the Ford School; my SWC 220 project of an original op-ed, a repurposed to a letter to President Obama, and a remediated video clip; an example (why I write essay) of my writing process by including my sketch draft, rough draft and final version; and my reflection on the significance and value from the style of new media writing. Creating this E-Portfolio has definitely been challenging (especially with understanding this technology), but it also has been very rewarding. I can now display my writing online and allow the reader to navigate themselves through the variety of works I have provided. I hope this E-Portfolio will enable future employers and interested readers to learn about my style and process of writing in a more engaging and fun environment.

 

Below is the hyperlink to my E-Portfolio. I hope you enjoy!

http://byshapiro.wordpress.com/

 

New Media Writing

Critics of “new media” may argue that this technology has taken away from the authenticity of writing and some will even insist that “new media” should not be considered a style of writing. I along with others disagree with these views. For me, writing provides me the ability to express myself and argue on behalf of my findings and beliefs. Regardless of the form it takes, writing is about communicating, persuading and articulating a particular voice or opinion.

 

Compared to writing in “traditional “ alphabetic forms, the novelty of “new media” has opened up many new avenues to enhance the art of writing. Not only has it created another style of writing, but it has also offered the opportunity to express and argue in a more persuasive manner. For me, I value this ability to be able to more effectively express my voice from “new media” the most.

I found this new style of writing and communication to be particularly beneficial when I chose to create a podcast on the addiction of gambling. For this project, I interviewed a fellow peer who did not believe in the addictions and risks behind gambling. My goal was to argue against his views and question his stance. By utilizing “new media”, I was able to incorporate my own voice, my peer’s voice, music, and sound effects. I elongated specific sounds, faded out the volume at certain parts and also learned to capture the advantages of an effective pause. This technology has enabled me to take my traditional my writing to a whole new level where expression, opinions and arguments can be conveyed in a much more compelling way. With “new media” I am now capable of capturing the realities of a story, which I think ultimately makes my arguments more practical and believable.

 

In my re-mediation project about drawing public a red line against Iran’s nuclear program, I found myself once again more freely and easily expressing my voice through this advanced technology. Unlike my podcast, I chose to incorporate visual aids to enhance my argument. Through the utilization of video clips of news reports and political speeches I could literally show the audience my thoughts. Additionally, by breaking up the video clips with slides that offered further analysis and posed significant questions I was able to successfully provide my insights and arguments in a persuasive manner.

 

Through my experiences in the Minor in Writing Gateway course, I have learned to value and utilize the “new media” style to write in a more effective and engaging style.  Traditional writing can only go as far as the chosen diction and structure of the words. Yet, I have learned that this new advanced technology can enable me to go further. I can focus in on more specific points and I certainly can now more easily establish a relationship with my readers and audience as I continue to write in this new style. Traditional writing will always be an important means of communicating, but sometimes incorporating elements of “new media” may offer new and more opportunities to achieve the intended goals of the author.

No Research is Waste

I was great to have the opportunity to hear Thomas Hager, a science writer, speak about how he writes. I was particularly fascinated by how much Hager spends researching the material and information that he will be writing about. He explained that for his books or publications he often spends far more time researching than he actually does writing. He also explained that he chose to write this way because he wanted to ensure that he was providing the full story and providing enough detail. By using this technique the audience is not only able to imagine the scene or story, but is actually able to feel apart of the story. I found one of his anecdotes to be very interesting where he described a trip he took to an island. He was planning to describe this island in his book and felt that he could not successfully portray the scene unless he had experienced island himself. It turns out that he only wrote one sentence about the island in his book, yet Hager did not regret this excursion at all. He emphasized that even though that one sentence may have been a small fraction of his entire story it played a very significant role in enhancing connecting the audience to his book.

I am similar to Thomas Hager in that I have difficult time writing about something unless I have actually experienced or researched it thoroughly. I also have to agree in the sense that I think researching could play a more key role than the actual writing process itself. The research of details provides the content and the foundation for attracting an audience. Without any use of specific details, examples or real material, the story behind the words is dull and lacks any potential to attract readers for a connection.

 

 

Examples, Examples and More Examples

In “Stylish Academic Writing “by Helen Sword, I particularly enjoyed reading the section titled “Show and Tell”. Sword explains that the mantra of stylish academic writing consists of “showing and telling” and that all academic writers provide their readers with “well-chosen examples, examples, and more examples.” The use of many examples enables the readers to fully understand the author’s perspective and grasp the key concepts.  Without examples the readers do not feel as connected to the writing and are often left struggling to comprehend the meanings and points behind the literature or abstract ideas.

I agree with Sword in the importance of use examples, specifically through the use of anecdotes. They are key elements of writing because they not only “effectively illustrate abstract concepts, they also satisfy our natural desire for narratives that feature human beings rather than merely ideas.” Anecdotes can provide amusement and humor to the audience and are often significant techniques to keep the readers’ attentions. With a short story provided as the main source of an example, the reader can feel a connection to both the writing and the author. I can definitely relate this strategy to my writing style. I love to use anecdotes whenever possible. I believe that sometimes using an anecdote can actually be a more effective and intriguing technique to convey a message rather than attempting to simply explain that message. Anecdotes allow the writing to extend past the piece of paper as they have the capabilities to capture all emotions and can sometimes be the best source of evidence to support a statement.

Question for Everyone to Answer

I am curious where on campus everyone in the class enjoys writing. Is there a specific location where you always go to get your best writing done or can you accomplish it anywhere?

In college, when we are faced with time constraints we cannot waste time looking for a place to study or work on a paper. For me, when I am pressed with a writing assignment I always find myself drifting to one place. That place is the stacks in the graduate library. So far it has been my most reliable source where I know that I will accomplish good writing for my assignments.

I know many people think that the stacks are extremely dull and way too serious and some even feel way too claustrophobic in a small cubical room. Yet, for me, when I am in the stacks I am in my own world and can let all of my writing out. In the stacks I don’t feel the pressure of anyone looking at me and I can really narrow in on my writing. I have worked at other places like at Espresso Royale or the second floor of the undergraduate library. However, I have found both to be too distracting. For me to accomplish great writing I need a quite and empty place where I can really focus in on my task. I think it could be really interesting to poll the different places where everyone else goes.

Setting a Time

After listen to Sheila Murphy speak the other day, I think that I can definitely relate to her presentation. I enjoyed hearing her insight on how she overcomes writing and how she always finds a time in the day to get some writing done. I can especially relate to how she prepares herself to write. Sheila allows herself to fool around for a little and go on the Internet, because that is clearly inevitable and is something that each one of us needs to get out. Yet, when she focuses on writing, she narrows in and only has her word processor open. She sets a timer for ten minutes and all she does for that period of time. While ten minutes seems so short, she explains how much you can get done and how it really helps with getting your writing started.

This is a technique I have also actually used. I too can attest that a great deal can be accomplished by really focusing in and investing yourself on a writing for a short period of time. Simply writing what comes to your mind without worry about the way it sounds or the structure can really help you get off the ground and get going. While the product of this writing may not be the most eloquent or perfect, it creates a needed foundation for you as the writer to further develop your thoughts and sentences. I look forward to continuing to use and explore this strategy with my writing in this class!

Engaging the reader

Before this class and reading Andrew Sullivan’s blogging piece, I always thought blogs weren’t really much of anything. I used to consider it something that people used to ramble on about their biased views. Yet, through the past few weeks in this class, I have discovered some new aspects of blogging. As Sullivan puts it best “the role of the a blogger…is similar in this way to the host of a dinner party. He can provoke discussion or take a position, even passionately, but he also must create an atmosphere in which others want to participate.” This has been far one of the most important and helpful aspects of writing that I have learned thus far in this course. Whether it’s a blog or an article you are writing, you have to attract the reader and have an understanding as to whom the audience is that you are targeting. I think this can really help me with my repurposing assignment. As I try to write a letter to a UN member or create an op-ed am I definitely going to have to keep in mind not only who the audience is, but also why the audience will care about what I have to say? Why will they want to engage in my points and even argue against them? For this assignment, as stated in my previous blog, I am planning to use an academic essay I wrote about a possible two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. I think that I could definitely try to create an atmosphere in which the audience will want to participate by explaining just how important this resolution is and also how time is running out and a two-state solution may no longer be a feasible option. I realize this can be a challenging task to create an environment that keeps the reader active, but I am looking forward to the challenge of repurposing my original essay.

Re-purposing Thoughts

For my re-purposing project I am planning to use an academic essay I wrote for another class. This essay was about the advantages and disadvantages of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. In this paper, I went into great detail (10 pages) on how long-term peace would not be a feasible outcome through a two-state solution. I described how extremist groups and current settlement issues would make this plan unlikely to actually work. For the re-purposing project I have been trying to decide between writing a letter to a UN member addressing the problems of the situation or writing an op-ed in a newspaper like the NY Times and arguing how a two-state solution would not work. These two options obviously have a different audience and how I would approach it would be different for both. The first audience would be the UN and the letter would have a professional manner. I would explain what I believe the UN must do and would look into recommending a solution (thought I don’t know what I would recommend yet).The latter audience would be much larger as it would pertain to people who read the New York Times and are interested in foreign policy and issues. Because people who read op-ed usually read on a train or bus on the way to work and typically don’t spend a too much time on one article in the paper I would need a strong introduction and title to grab in the reader. I would also have to argue against people who believe the two state solution would work. Both options could be very interesting to explore, and I am still considering the possibilities.

 

Yet I do have some questions about how to tackle this assignment. Do you think this is enough of a re-purpose of my original paper? How could I make a clear difference between my audience in my original essay and my new piece of work?

Social Contract

In The Craft of Research “Engaging Sources” I found the part about creating a role for the reader and audience to be an interesting concept. It is something I never thought about too much when writing in the past. In this reading it explains that it is not just the reader that judges the writer, but “a thoughtful writer has in advanced also judged her readers, by imagining who they are, what they are like, what they know, what they need and want”. Every writer creates a role for its readers because it is something that is inevitable.  While it is unavoidable, the writer is still left with freedom because, it is up to authors in deciding what role they choose for the audience and whom they are trying to target.  Yet, the reading also stresses the importance of the burden on the writer. If the author miscasts his/her audience then he or she will ultimately loose the audience and their willingness to read. In order to avoid this from happening, it is our job as the researcher and writer to establish a relationship with the reader that will make them want to continue to read. I found it to be most intriguing that this could be accomplished through the concept a “social contract” between the writer and the reader. As the writer, you must cast them in a role they are willing to accept, but at the same time you have to create a role for yourself that matches. If you do not do this then you are breaking the contract between the two of you and will also loose the reader’s attention.

Personally, when I write I do acknowledge the type of audience I am writing for, but I have never thought about the role I have created for them. Yet, according to this reading it is inevitable that I have established a role in my writing for my readers. However, I find this idea of the social contract between me and the reader to be something that could be helpful to keep in mind especially for the re-purposing assignment. I think it would also be interesting to reread some old writing of mine and look at the audience I was targeting and to see if I actually upheld my part of the social contract.

Not so easy

Answering the question “why I write” has been a challenging assignment. In fact, I am even finding it more difficult than writing a research or academic paper. I think this is because I am always so used to writing simply because I have to do it for an assignment. But this question and prompt is forcing me to really answer a question I probably have never even answer or even thought to answer before. It is definitely forcing me to really look deep into my writing and think about what I am try to get out each piece of writing I have composed. In my opinion, this question is not as easy as it may appear….

 

My plan with approaching this assignment is to investigate my relationship with writing throughout my past. I have already begun looking for common themes in my writings and for what purpose I wrote each different piece of writing. I plan to look a few specific scenarios from the past of when I may have struggle with writing or even an occasion when I flourished. One example that come to mind for me is describing my experience with writing and giving a speech for my high school graduation. I think by exploring this example, I can find out a great deal about myself as well as my reasons for writing.  I will try to capture my thought process and emotions while I wrote that speech. I also will try to incorporate what I hope to achieve in the future as a writer and areas of writing I want to explore and further develop in.

 

(In some ways, writing this blog has actually been a helpful resource for figuring out how to approach this prompt. By simply writing this out, I now have a better grasp on how to tackle this assignment. )