Why I’m Excited About My Capstone Project On Binge Watching Culture

Binge watching is something that it seems like everyone does. It has become a major part of culture, not just with millennials, who seem to be the target generation, but with a large part of general society. It seems like just about everyone likes to sit in front of a screen for hours and just watch episodes upon episodes of a TV show. The fact that it is so universal is what makes the topic so interesting. Even if someone doesn’t enjoy binge watching themselves, they almost definitely know someone who does, meaning they could still gain personal insight on the act of binge watching. It is also something that is personally important to me, because it is something that I do. I will spend hours upon hours just starting at my computer watching something on Netflix. I, therefore, want to know more about binge watching. I’ve never really questioned the act, I just do it. Now I’m curious about why it happens and what inspires doing nothing but staring at a screen for hours on end. There could be so much that goes into this and just about anybody could have a personal investment in it, from binge watchers themselves, to friends of binge watchers, to media industry workers who produce the content. I’m very excited to shed some light on this new culture of binge watching.

Gateway ePortfolio (Happy Summer)

After working all semester towards this moment, it’s strange that it’s finally here.  I’ve done all of the writing and my ePortfolio is finally done.  I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.  I have a couple different arcs throughout the portfolio.  I tried to keep a very digital feel to it, since many of the works were digital, multimodal projects.  I knew that wouldn’t work for the entire portfolio, however, so I just tried to keep a coherent theme through formatting.  Between the bright colors and continual circles, I hoped to make the portfolio seem like one coherent piece with a logical flow.

I attempted to make the portfolio have a logical path (by navigating in order through the top bar) but I also wanted all of the pages to stand alone in case someone goes onto it and just clicks around.  As far as navigation goes, I wanted my reflective writing to be on the same page as the piece of writing I was reflecting on, so I tried to keep it fairly short.  I didn’t want the pages to go down too far, so that someone reading the portfolio won’t get bored and stop reading before they get to the end.

Overall, I’m really pleased with the way my eportfolio turned out.  I wanted it to be fun and bubbly with a tiny bit of  professionalism and some personal touches.  I feel like I got the right mix of fun and a little professional and I got my personal touches in on the first page and the about me page.  So, without further ado, here is my eportfolio.

Although I’m sad for this great class to be over, I’m excited for summer (which starts for me as soon as I submit this blog post).  I hope everyone has a great summer doing whatever it is you’ll be doing!

 

Reworking my Repurposing

After meeting with Shelley last Thursday, my repurposing project now has a clear, solid direction and purpose behind it.  Instead of vaguely arguing something about marching band, now I know exactly what I’m arguing.  Back in January, sports reported Jim Rome posted the following Tweet.

I (along with a large number of others) was extremely offended by this for obvious reasons.  So my new project is a response to him and others who have the same viewpoints as him- that marching band is just for dorks or nerds who “run around” with instruments all day.  I want to let them know that marching band is more than that and that people who participate in marching band are not dorks or nerds.  Instead, they are performers, artists, and athletes (which are the three words I’m going to base my argument around).  My new plan is for this to end up being a blog post with links and tweets and videos, trying to use these modes to further my argument instead of simply using words (although there will be plenty of words too).

 

So, yeah, that’s where I’m headed right now.  It’s taking me a little while to get it done, since I’m pretty much starting over, but now that I have a direction, the writing process is going pretty smoothly.

The Drafting Process

I’m not even sure where to start, which is probably fitting, seeing as that’s also how I started my draft for the repurposing project.  Although I knew exactly where I wanted to go with the paper, I sat down and wasn’t sure how to start.  I thought I wanted to start with the definition of the word sport, since that’s one of the main focuses of my project, but when I looked it up, I found so many different definitions that I couldn’t even decide which one to use, which kind of threw me off, so I decided to take a different approach.

Instead, since I knew that I wanted my project to have different sections making different arguments, I decided to go ahead and just come up with the different sections.  Although I eventually added more, those initial sections were enough to get me started and get my ideas flowing.  I decided that, instead of starting with just one definition of the word sport, I would start with talking about my process in researching the definition- common words found in all of the definitions, etc.  Through this, I also changed my idea a little bit.   Instead of arguing that marching band specifically is a sport, I decided to argue that, while it may not be considered an official sport (underneath the athletic department), it requires the same amount of physicality and skill as sports.  I changed it because there are more elements to marching band than just the sport-like elements and to appeal to a wider audience.  Coming out with a forceful statement, like “marching band is a sport” might seem a bit harsh to audiences who may not be accustomed to marching band.  Saying that it is physically demanding and requires a large amount of skill is much less intimidating.  It also offers a unique perspective, since most other arguments on the subject are very black and white.

From there, I just started writing.  I stated my main argument in one section, then started supporting it.  Since my main focus is the Michigan Marching Band, I decided to go in chronological order, starting with summer conditioning and working through practices and game days.  I started writing each section and, instead of just writing an entire section at a time, I decided to go through and write a little bit in each section, to collect my thoughts about each before writing one entirely.  At that point, I started to get a little bored and distracted, so I started looking at pictures to put in the piece.  Although it might not have been the most important thing at the time, I claimed that I was still being productive by doing something for the project.  I looked through my own, personal pictures, as well as just searching Google Images.

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Some of the pictures I found while searching

 

I’m making progress and am much better off than when I started, but am I done with my first draft?  I’ll let some of my friends answer that for me…

Different Types of Writing

Approaching this prompt, I wasn’t sure where to look.  Writing is everywhere!  So to make the gathering a little bit harder, I decided to get a little bit more specific with it- I limited myself to only finding different modes/genres of writing within Buzzfeed.  Since most Buzzfeed articles are written in the same way, this initially seemed difficult.  Diving into my half hour, however, I found a lot more than I bargained for.  The following is a full list of all the different types I found, with links to examples of each.

News- Personalized, Celebrity, General

Advertisements

Quizzes

Movies and Entertainment

History

Health and Beauty

Cross-Genre

Videos- Entertainment, Informative

Valentine’s Day (Seasonal Entertainment)

Animals

And I’m sure that’s not all.  That’s just all I managed to find in half an hour.  It’s weird to think that whenever I go on Buzzfeed and flip around through different posts, I’m seeing such a wide range of genres.  While I think it would be a waste of time to discuss all of the genres, since there are so many and a few seem fairly self-explanatory, I’m going to discuss the ones that I think have the most interesting rhetorical situation.

The advertisements on Buzzfeed are written in a very interesting way.  They are disguised to look like normal posts.  If it weren’t for the little hyperlink at the bottom that says “Promoted by…”, they would be almost indistinguishable at face value.  Within the post, the advertisement doesn’t usually come until the very end.  Advertisements are clearly meant to still be entertaining and worth a reader’s attention, even though it is trying to sell something to that person.

I also find the quizzes interesting because, although they are not entirely unique to Buzzfeed, the quizzes on Buzzfeed seem to be some of the most popular, even though I’ve seen some as stupid as “Which letter in the title of the movie Frozen are you?” (I’m pretty sure I was Z, in case you were wondering).  Buzzfeed quizzes seem to be written like the author knows that the person taking it is probably just bored and looking for something stupid and mindless to do, not something that should actually be taken seriously.

Cross-Genre is another thing that I thought was interesting.  The specific article that I posted that shows famous paintings with quotes from the movie Mean Girls is a mix of entertainment and (loosely) art.  Although most people will probably look at the post to laugh about the Mean Girls quotes, they are also seeing the paintings in the post, which are all attributed by name and artist.  So, although it may seem mostly entertainment, there is also a (small) chance to learn about and appreciate art.

Buzzfeed videos are also an interesting genre.  There are a range of videos that serve different functions for different audiences.  The video that I posted as an “informative” video is clearly supposed to show something about culture and history.  Other videos, although still informative, seem to be made mostly for entertainment purposes.  The video that I posted as an entertainment example may hold some truth, but the main purpose seems to be entertaining audiences.  (Also, fun fact, I went to high school with the red-headed guy in the video).

Like I said, there are many, many other examples of different genres, but they are too numerous to be found in just thirty minutes.  Buzzfeed’s main purpose seems to be entertainment, but each article has a slightly different function as well.  And, with that, I will leave you with a picture from the last article I posted, “17 Unbelievably Tiny Puppies”.

Repurposing Inspiration

When I went into my partner group to discus my repurposing project, my partner already had an idea of what I already had in mind for my project because he is also in my blog group.   He helped to develop my current idea further and to create new ideas.  I’m going to discuss the new ideas first and leave my previous idea until the end, since that’s the one I think I am going to choose.

The first new idea that he gave me was about a paper that I wrote arguing that conservatives are nostalgic for the idea of the nuclear family which causes them to oppose marriage equality.  My partner suggested that I flip the paper and either argue for the nuclear family from the side of the Conservative or argue that liberals are nostalgic for an idea of their own.  While I really liked this idea, it would be very difficult and I’m not sure that it was my absolute favorite.

My partner also gave me an idea concerning a paper that I wrote about female stereotypes in the movie Wreck it Ralph.  For this paper, he suggested writing a short story with characters that embody the opposite of the stereotypes that I discussed in the paper.  I think that this was a good idea, but I was hoping to write more of a research based paper.

My original idea was to repurpose a short story that I wrote about a fictional character in the Michigan Marching Band.  I hope to turn it into an article arguing that marching band should be considered a sport.  My partner told me about an assignment that he had to do called a narrative research essay which combined personal experiences with research.  I like the idea of using this format for this argument to combine my love of marching band with the research that I hope to do for the assignment.  As of right now (although I reserve the right to change my mind), this is the idea that I plan to use for my repurposing project.

Am I More Self-Centered Than I Think?

As I read why other authors write and reflect on why I write myself for the first writing assignment, I’ve noticed a pattern.  The parts that have really resonated with me is the idea that I write for myself.  And, while that sounds like George Orwell’s idea that a “strong motive” for writers is “sheer egoism”, I don’t see it that way.  I agree that all writers probably write for personal reasons, but I don’t think that makes them egotistical.  It makes them human.  I mean, why write if it isn’t cathartic or at least enjoyable in some way?  If a writer doesn’t enjoy what he or she is writing, then why write at all?  What is the point of sitting down and writing something if you hate what you’re doing the entire time?  At that point, you might as well just get a job doing something else boring and monotonous (although I won’t say what, since something I find boring might be someone’s dream job).  But, as a writer, do you really want to look like this all the time?

My personal answer to that question is no.  I think that writing should be fun and entertaining and at least slightly self-serving.  When I write something, even if it’s just a class paper, I want to enjoy it and be proud of what I’ve written.  And, in my opinion, that’s not being too self-centered.  When a scientist makes a particularly exciting breakthrough, he or she is allowed to be proud of what was accomplished.  That scientist might present the findings at a conference or just tell their peers what a great discovery was made and they aren’t considered to be even the least bit conceited.  When I write, I feel like I should be allowed the same privileges.  I should be allowed to be proud of my work and happy about what I’ve accomplished and if I want to post on social media or tell my friend how good I feel about what I’ve accomplished, I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.  I believe that humans are inherently proud when they accomplish something they’ve been working on for a while and that doesn’t make them egotistical.  It makes them human.  So I guess what I’m saying is, although I agree with Orwell that people probably write for their own personal benefit, I disagree that it means they are writing for “sheer egoism”.  They are just expressing themselves and following their human nature.  So, in my opinion, feel free to be proud and do a little happy dance if you write something that you think it particularly brilliant.  Don’t worry, I won’t judge.

                    

Drawing Inspiration from Fiction

My name is Katie Lehman.  I could use this space to tell you about myself, to basically state my resume in paragraph form so you all know my areas of study and extra-curricular activities.  But I think that would be a waste of both your time and mine.  Instead, I want to get right to the reason we’re here: writing.

I believe that, in order for someone to truly be a fantastic writer, they must also be a reader.  Not only does reading help to keep your mind fresh, but it also allows you to learn new tactics for writing and to gain new ideas.  After finishing a great book or an exceptional article or any other amazing piece of writing, I find myself inspired to write myself, usually focusing on what made the writing I just finished so remarkable.

When I get the chance to read for myself and not for class (which is happening less and less these days) I usually enjoy reading fiction books.  I often choose books based on recommendations.  Many of my friends will let me know when they read a book that they really enjoyed and, when I’m looking for reading material with no ideas, I often turn to the internet and find out which books have people talking.  The books that really draw me in are the ones that create connections between me and the characters.  In my opinion, the mark of a truly incredible book is if I feel happy or sad when something good or bad happens to a character in the story.  If a book makes me cry or actually laugh out loud, I think it has done its job.

The translation of reader connection into fiction writing is obvious- create relatable characters that the reader can connect with emotionally.  I think finding this connection with readers should also be a goal of academic writing.  While the connection obviously cannot be made in the same way, since there are not usually characters in academic writing, the same principle of attracting the reader in by actually making that person care about what the writing says can still be applied, and that is my goal when I write.  While there is a great deal that can be drawn from various forms of writing, I believe that finding a way to make readers care very deeply about what a piece of writing says is one of the major lessons that reading can teach a writer.