All Rabbit Holes Lead to Food

I have a tendency to get myself very lost in “rabbit holes” on the internet – I can spend hours clicking from one page to the next and the next – so I sort of thought this would be a terrible assignment for me before I even began. I have also used the Research Guides before, strictly for finding databases and at times when I knew exactly what sort of information I was looking for, but being familiar with the site allowed me to choose what sounded interesting, without thinking too much about where it would take me. Once I got to the Research Guides page, I clicked on the International Studies tab. One guide near the end stuck out: Unique Collections on the UM Campus.

Did you know we have an amulet collection? It’s at the Taubman Health Sciences Library, which is unfortunately closed for renovations (I couldn’t find if the amulets are on display elsewhere until the building reopens). However, I didn’t see this helping me with my capstone project in any way, so I backtracked a bit to look through the library’s special collections.

I found that there’s a culinary archive of American cookbooks and related materials from the past 400 years. The archive’s description mentioned the strong connection between food and culture, which I find very interesting. Still, I was unconvinced I had found my topic, so I went back to the Research Guide and clicked on Social Sciences. Lo and behold, there is a category on Food Studies. It gives suggestions on how to research food technology, culture, history, and even government regulation. I started thinking of about a million different ways I could explore food in my capstone project. Although I did not come up with any concrete ideas, and I still have no idea what I’ll be doing for this project, food seems like a good place to start.

Portfolio Perfection

Well, not quite perfection, but I’m pretty happy with how my e-portfolio turned out!

I spent a lot of time on the layout, which I like a lot. I wanted the site to be clean and easy to navigate, and I feel I accomplished my goal.

I also wanted to show how I have changed as a writer. I tried to accomplish this through having a lot of different artifacts from freshman year until now, but I think this aspect could use more work.

I want to continue working on the portfolio, adding more context to the work I have uploaded, especially pieces from outside the writing minor. I currently have a few sentences about why I’ve included my academic work, but I do not explain why I like each individual piece. As I have more time to work on the portfolio, I may write intros to every essay, rather than just the general section.

I’ll definitely make changes to my portfolio in the future, but right now I’m proud of what I’ve created this semester. It does a good job representing me and my personality, which is all I need my portfolio to do!

Here’s the link:

Blogging Style

My blogging style started off very academic. I would treat each post as a class assignment, spending a couple hours writing and editing each post to make them perfect. It was hard to get past the idea that people I didn’t know very well would be reading all of my posts and that blogging counted as part of my grade.

But as the semester went on my blogging became less formal. I try to write as if I’m speaking, and try to make my posts like the start of a conversation. I tend to use this blog to ask a lot of questions. I like connecting with others about class assignments and thoughts about writing, and all the feedback I’ve received has been very helpful!

My blogging persona has changed a lot, and I’d like to keep working on it after this semester. I want to keep working on sharing things that are not class-related. I love reading what you all have posted about writing in general and all the random, awesome things you’ve found on the internet or in life. I still hope to become more of a “blogger,” not just someone who blogs for a class.

Web Writing

As I’ve been uploading documents to my e-portfolio, I’ve tried to make my papers more like true web writing.

First, I uploaded my resume. I decided to put all text straight on the webpage. I was also able to input links to the companies I’ve worked at, some of the work I have completed, and a photo of myself. I’ve worked at a lot of small companies, so I like that my online resume makes it easy for a reader/prospective employer to understand my previous experience.

Then, I started on academic papers. Many of the papers I’ve written are long, so I tried breaking them up into several pages. It was very easy to create new webpages and link all the parts of my paper together. But, I quickly realized that I was going to be using A LOT of webpages, for just a few essays. And for the reader, it would be extremely annoying to see a “Read more” link at the bottom of almost every page, having no concept of when the paper will end.

Web writing has been a challenge, and it’s one I’m still trying to figure out. At first, I wanted to put all my writing directly on webpages and was against using pdf documents, but now I’m thinking pdf’s may be the best way to showcase my work.

Does anyone have any advice? How have you been uploading longer papers to your portfolios?

Revision: A Necessary Evil

I’ve never liked revising my work. When I spend a long time on a paper and turn it in thinking it’s perfect, I don’t like somebody telling me all the things I could improve. This is especially true when there is no incentive for revision, like a better grade. I always think, “Why cause myself stress about what I’ve done wrong, when nothing good will come out of changing it?”

But then I think about my experiences at my high school newspaper. When I started sophomore year I was given no training on writing news articles. I would spend days writing one short article, get it back covered in purple pen marks, revise it, turn it in, get it back, revise it, again and again and again. I would re-write every article at least 4 or 5 times. It was exhausting. But by my senior year, I hardly needed to make any changes. I had come a long way, and had learned a lot about writing journalistically.

I notice the same things in Writing 220. With each draft my writing improves and my argument strengthens. Revision was especially important with the Why I Write paper. I spent a long time on my first draft and did not want to make any changes. I thought “revision” would mean writing the whole paper over again. But, my peer group was able to show me where my writing was not clear, where I had made connections between points in my life they did not have enough information to understand. In the second draft, I knew to provide more details and explanations so the reader did not have to guess the significance of each point.

What I’m trying to say is, I have a love/hate relationship with revision. Though I don’t like my hard work being criticized and critiqued, paying attention to my teachers, my peers, and my readers is the best way I’ve found to improve my writing.

Tech Challenge – Changing Fonts

I’ve been working with Tumblr for my Remediation project and have been frustrated that I couldn’t control every aspect of my theme’s design, especially the fonts because they were chunky and italicized and awful. The things I wanted to change were all in HTML/CSS/something I don’t understand, so I went to the Tech Deck earlier this week for help.

I had a few problems finding someone who could help me with coding (so if anyone needs help with this in the future I would suggest going to the Tech Deck far before the project due date), but once I found the right person it went pretty smoothly!

The girl I worked with was extremely helpful. She explained a little about coding and showed me how to find and change what I wanted. She also helped me understand how the code works and affects different parts of the webpage.

It’s nice to know more of what goes into making a website – it’s a lot more complicated than drag-and-drop sites like Wix or Weebly would have you believe.

Though I can’t code for myself, I’m sure that understanding some of the basics will be a useful life skill. It also helped me get the perfect look for my Remediation project!

PechaKucha Enrichment Challenge

This week I went to an event in North Quad’s “Exposure Series,” which takes place one night a month. Each event takes the form of something called a PechaKucha Night, where people give presentations consisting of 20 slides, shown for 20 seconds each. The presentation format was originally designed for architects as a way to keep presentations short. At the one I went to, all presenters were University students and staff. The theme was International Night (there’s a different theme each month).

It was definitely a unique event. The format was one I had never seen before, and all the presenters took very different perspectives on the same topic. One of the presentations that stuck out to me was from a grad student who talked about time she spent traveling abroad. I could tell she was very passionate about her experiences and had a lot to say – but was limited to only 20 seconds per slide/travel story. Her presentation was mostly visual, with many pictures of her and her friends, and much of the speaking time was spent explaining the photos, why they are significant, and how they represent her travels.

This reminded me of my remediation project, which is very image-based. It has been difficult to construct an entirely visual argument, because I am used to using images only as additions to a text-based argument. I like the possible solution that came out of attending this event: using visuals to tell my story and adding words only for context and analysis.

Overall, this was a fun event that I would definitely recommend to you all!

ALSO: Check out the official PechaKucha website to learn more about the format, and watch a lot of awesome videos. I liked this one on the myth of productivity

E-Portfolio Introduction

The first goal of my e-portfolio is to show how I have changed as a writer throughout college. I have tabs across the top of each page for work I have completed in Writing 220, and for other academic classes. I hope to show work from every year of college, but will privilege my Freshman year and my current Junior year.

I decided to present a wide range of work while I was looking at all my potential artifacts. I noticed there are some topics I have chosen to write about over and over again, but in different classes, styles, and contexts. I especially noticed common threads between my writing for English 125 and the work I am doing for Writing 220. I want to showcase these two points in my life to illustrate how I have developed and matured as a writer.

Showing my work and progress over time will help with my second e-portfolio goal: being professional. I hope I can show my portfolio to prospective employers, both as writing samples and to display my personality. My portfolio has a white background, black text, and a grid-like layout. But, it will also have many images, to add color and be a little more informal. I want my design to show that while I tend to be serious and reserved, especially in professional settings, I am still able to relax and have fun.

I am most excited to upload artifacts and the descriptions of each section. I have already picked out many of the things I want to include. I’m very close to bringing my portfolio from a skeleton to a full composition, and I cannot wait to see this happen!

However, I’m still struggling with how I want to display my papers. I know I want the text directly on the webpage rather than uploading a pdf. But, I am not sure if I want my artifacts to be in a digital, web writing format, or if I want them to be more static, text-only compositions.

I am also struggling with the types of images I will include with each piece, and what each image will reflect. For example, do I want photos or clipart that directly describe the content of the writing? Or would I rather use visuals to represent my feelings about a piece of writing? If I choose the second option, where and how do I explain this so the reader understands the purpose of the images?

Although it’s definitely still in-progress, here is a link to my e-portfolio!

#StyleChallenge – Whitespace

While researching graphic design and website layout principles, I found white space to be a common, positive element. I am trying to make use of this principle in my Remediation project, for which I am creating a Tumblr.

The challenge comes in with finding a layout that has the desired white space, but that will also accommodate my content.

My current layout uses a plain white background with three columns across. There is plenty of space around each post. And, captions are kept close to their accompanying images so readers can tell they are supposed to go together (in some themes I looked at, there was too much white space between photos and their captions). Also, being able to see multiple images at a time will keep the reader scrolling down.

There is one main problem, however, with fitting a theme to my content: animation.

I am using a lot of animation in the images for this project. Seeing multiple things move at once can distract a viewer, which defeats the purpose of focusing on white space. I am trying to alternate animated and non-animated posts, but this has not always been easy because I want to lay out my argument in a certain order.

Does anyone have tips for balancing space and animation? Am I the only one who thinks multiple moving images are distracting, or do other people feel this way, too?

How I Write, with Lorna Goodison

Last Tuesday I went to Lorna Goodison’s book reading, as part of Sweetland’s How I Write series. She read several poems from her latest collection, Supplying Salt and Light.

I really enjoyed the event! It is always interesting to hear directly from an author, both to gain insight into the author’s inspiration and to listen to a piece as the author intends it to be heard or read.

What fascinated me most about Ms. Goodison’s work was the way she chose to write about her experiences. Many of the poems she read were about a trip she took to Spain and Portugal. However, instead of transcribing the trip as it happened, which is what I would have done, Ms. Goodison created beautiful stories that truly seemed to capture the feeling of the place she was in.

A few poems that stuck out to me were about African immigrants, such as the individuals who sell goods and souvenirs in public plazas. Rather than writing about these experiences as she observed them, Ms. Goodison added her own interpretations, creating stories about the people she saw and how they may have ended up there. Her poems, overall, were a very pleasant mix of real life experiences and the author’s imagination.

I usually am not very interested in poems, but hearing Ms. Goodison’s reading definitely made me want to read more of her work.