Got a secret? Halp.

Stressed! Such an overused and cop-out word, but that is definitely what I’m feeling. It’s blizzard-ing. I can’t get out and I have no supplies.

How do I possibly put this together? I think part of it is in the nature of my topic. Literally what is a secret. AND how can I narrow down such a large, personal idea. I’m writing this blog post in somewhat of a panic, because I’m quickly realizing that people aren’t going to want to tell me, a stranger, their biggest secrets. This was the original idea, to get people to talk to me about their secrets and what came of their situation. But they’re not going to say it to me. I mean who even am I?  A crazy girl on the street asking for people to tell me something they’ve never told anyone.

Thanks to Mollie and Christina, however, I’ve come up with a different idea. Instead of making podcasts that are just one person, and asking them about their secrets, I’ll collect secrets anonymously. Then, I’ll have other people read the secrets and record them. I’ll compile the secrets into podcasts with around 15 per podcast, and then pick out a theme. I still plan to interview people about secrets and get some stories from those who are willing to share, but my original plan is simply not realistic.

I’m wondering if anyone has any other ideas for podcasts that I can make? Or if I can somehow still do my original idea? So far I’ve only interviewed my friends, and I had a hard time getting anything out of them. Granted, I think it might be harder for me to get secrets from people I know than from strangers, but maybe I should just be giving it another shot? SOS. Still snowing.

Let me know if you have any other idea! (Please) Thanks friends. You rock. Never change.

What I’m worried about!

Honestly, what am I not worried about, amiright?

I’m feeling pretty excited about my topic. I think the overall theme of “secrets” is going to be absolutely fascinating to research. My project will involve plenty of audio editing and interviewing which I’m actually quite comfortable with. For so many of my communications classes I’ve had to interview people and turn them into podcasts with sound effects and music, plus I’ve done a lot of music editing for my dance team, so I’m looking forward to that. Although I’ll be honest I’m not sure how long to make them, but that’s a minor detail. Same with photographs: I’ve had plenty of experience taking and editing photos (although I’m certainly no expert) so I think that part will be fun and interesting.

I’m most nervous I think about what it (my project) will actually turn into. In my production plan, I talked a lot about a ~website~ I’ll be making which will house all of my podcast and photos, but what does that even mean? Aesthetically and content-wise, I think I’m just going to have to kind of figure it out as I go, which of course makes me a complete wreck considering the size of this project. I know everyone is worried about that, so I’ll also say I’m worried about the research of my project. How much information on the psychology of secrets is too much? Is just discussing historical and famous examples of secrets interesting? What can I do to make it more interesting?

So many questions! I guess I’ll just have to try some things out and see how it goes.

Reflection

If we’re being completely honest, I’m still struggling with the focus of my project. This is not the best place to be with the production plan being due Thursday, but alas, here I am. Once again, with complete transparency, I usually have no idea what I’m writing until I’m in the middle of writing it. Take this blog post, for example: I’m just typing. For any formal assignment, I’ll go back and delete all of the crazy things that fly off of my fingertips, but if I’m allowed any freedom at all, odds are I’ll leave it.

For my English 325 class, “The Art of the Essay,” this method has worked relatively well. It’s creative nonfiction; tell a story about yourself, talk about how you were feeling, reflect on it. This kind of thing, based on how I write, comes naturally. I word vomit. I make a nice little story. It comes full circle. “I did this, this happened, I learned this, now I am forever changed.” It makes sense because this is what people like to read. There is an art to this, so the course title, too, makes sense. In any case, this kind of writing is familiar to me. It allows me to write how I like to write.

This style of writing has not been working for my capstone project. Of that, I’m sure. For my pre-production plan and production plan, I allowed the words to fire off onto my keyboard rapidly. I went back and did a little editing, but I wasn’t worried about narrowing my focus at that point. In fact, I wasn’t worried at all, so I just kind of let everything happen. I rattled off a list of questions I wanted to answer and then I turned that into something I thought I could make happen. But you can’t just word vomit a capstone project, or so I’m finding out.

And so begins the production plan. My topic, which is “secrets,” definitely allows for plenty of creative nonfiction writing, but it has to be so much more thought out than other assignments. You might thing, “obviously, Kelly, you work on it all semester you better think it through,” but my ability to translate the words that fly across my brain into words on a page has worked for many large assignments before. So what makes this one different? When I go back to edit the word vomit, I can’t find a concrete theme, which is a problem. So my process for this project is to write as much as I possibly can until I can find a small portion to grasp onto and turn into something significant. Fingers crossed!

Project Proposal

Since originally coming up with the “secrets” idea, my project has changed quite a bit. That is most likely due to the fact that I had zero idea of what I wanted to do with “secrets” when this all began, and now I sort of have a concept for what I want my project to look like. Hey that’s progress, right?

At any rate, while trying to decide what tangible “thing” I wanted to create by the end of the semester, a lot of issues came up. How was I going to make this different than PostSecret? Was it starting to resemble Humans of New York? How could I make this my own, and not a worse version of something that already exists?

When I landed on the idea of mini podcasts – many thanks to my peer review group! – I got pretty excited. I definitely had some things to work through: would other people be able to post, or just me? Is it just podcasts, or can I include other mediums (photos, text, etc.)? Content wise, I also had to work out a few kinks. Sure, secrets are interesting inherently, but I want to look at the consequences of keeping secrets. How does keeping someone’s secret affect the secret-keeper? I’ve been narrowing my scope in order to make this different from other sites. The psychology behind secrets has become the focal point as I move forward with the project, due to many hours of self and peer questioning.

Capstone Project Idea

For those of you who don’t know me from the gateway course, I am the girl who claimed she wasn’t interested in anything. For those of you who do know me, you know that this is not true. When first discussing this project, a predictable topic came to me very quickly: dance. I have been a dancer since I was six years old and still continue to do so – quite vigorously – here at Michigan.

I’ve done countless projects on dance at this point in my college career, whether these be in my gateway course or in my Communications classes, and I’m even enrolled in Dance 100 this semester (senior year, amiright?). Considering this fact, I decided it was time to try out something new. I want to challenge myself this semester and think outside of the box. That said, I can say that I didn’t want to get too crazy or too out of my comfort zone because I still want to focus on something I’m interested in and can stand to study for the next three and half months.

What has always been of interest to me are the things that people are the least willing to share: secrets. I love secrets. In a more general sense, I just really love people, so the more I know about a person the more excited I am. I need to know everyone’s business all the time. Coincidentally, I’ve somehow managed to become a “trustworthy” person (as told to me by those around me *insert hair flip*) so people love to tell me their secrets. It works out wonderfully. An avid reader of Post Secret, I look forward to Sunday mornings when the next round of secrets have been posted. I haven’t missed a single post since junior year of high school. What I want to do with this project is learn more about secrets. How are they projected? What constitutes a “secret”? How do people value or measure secrets? Who do people tell their secrets to, and why do they chose to do this? Do some people do the unthinkable and actually KEEP their secrets? Is there anyone who actually doesn’t have any secrets?

How exactly to turn this into a project is escaping me in this moment. I am obsessed with creative non-fiction, and I think this project lends itself to that style of writing. I’m unsure of what direction to take or how to give it a unique spin so that this is something that only I have done (ideas welcome). I definitely want to interview people (of all different ages), do some research, and write from personal experience. I’d also really like to do audio and work with podcasts because I think significant anonymity can come with only using a voice, but it also gives just enough of a hint to who the person is that will keep you hooked.

Discipline: Psychology, creative non-fiction, creative writing, sociology

Focal object: Secrets, regrets, individual people

Confounding variable: Age (is this interesting enough?). Does someone’s age affect how they view a secret, or is it more about something else? How do secrets and definitions of secrets change with age?

Three Lists

In class on Tuesday, we were tasked with completing lists of the skills we already have that we need in order to complete both our re-purposing and re-mediation assignment. After this, we were asked to identify what skills we still need improvement on in order to finish the assignments. Here is what I came up with:

Skills needed for re-purposing
– Writing (letter formatting) 30%
– Dance 40%
– History 10%
– Media Studies 5%

Skills needed for remediation
– Dance 30%
– Film 25%
– Film editing 10%
– Journalistic approach 15%
– History 5%
– Media Studies 10%

Things I still need to learn/work on to finish my remediation
– Interviewing skills
– Sound equipment use
– Documentary formatting
– Selecting sources

Most of what I need to learn will have a big effect on the overall formatting of the assignment, which is the essence of the assignment itself so it’s imperative that I figure this out – and quickly! For now, it helps to recognize what I know and what I still need to work on.

University Resources

So I think I’ve pretty much sold myself on doing some kind of video. I’m still working out the kinks on what exactly I’ll be doing, but I feel like I have a general idea regarding the kind of equipment that a film is going to require. Last semester in one of my Communications classes, we utilized LSA’s Instructional Support Services (ISS) to rent out an audio recording device. We were assigned to make a podcast, so we all rented them out and also had a tutorial class that day in the library where we were taught how to use the technology. ISS is an excellent university resource, as they simply make you fill out a form when you check out the device and then make sure all of the pieces are there when you return it. I had to check it out for a few extra days, and they were very much willing to let me continue coming in and extending my time with the recorder. That being said, it was also a little annoying to have to physically go to the site (there’s one on the second floor of the MLB and one on the ground floor of Angell, to name a few) to renew my checkout, but that still wasn’t a big deal. ISS is something that I see myself utilizing a lot for this project for a few reasons.

1) As mentioned above, students have the ability to rent equipment from ISS. I already have a video camera that I have utilized for many projects in the past, so that’s not something I have to worry about, but I do imagine I’ll need to rent that same sound equipment to ensure that I can hear what my interviewee’s are saying.

2) According to their blog, the media lab also has camera lenses, lighting, tripods, filters, among many other things. These are all available by checking them out using my MCard, so I plan on using some of these as well.

3) Additionally, the ISS offers many tutorials and classes, as well as consulting for specific software. I have a pretty decent working understanding of iMovie so I most likely won’t need these instructional meetings, but it’s nice to know they’re there should I get lost or confused.

4) On a more personal standpoint, I plan to videotape some of the older dancers here at UMich that practice at the posting wall. Simply having a lot of footage of dancers in general – regardless of age – is important. Along these same lines, I may interview a few people from such groups as well. It might offer some older perspectives that aren’t my own, but also aren’t those of teachers. People my age may have some insight that I didn’t touch on.

Anyways, that’s what I’ve found on campus so far! There may be more but I’ll have to do some more digging. I’m interested to see what everyone else has found!

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Remediation Possibilities

Unfortunately, just as a few other classmates seemed to express in class on Tuesday, I also am disappointed and uninspired by my re-purposed draft. While I was writing it, I had one topic in mind, and then I completely changed topics because I got inspired by something else. My piece ended up being a Buzzfeed-style listicle and that is just a little sad to me. There’s nothing wrong with these articles, but I’m not sure that’s the direction I wanted to take.

My draft was a “9 things young dancers must know” open letter to the youngest generation of dancers who are just beginning their training. I wrote it from a perspective of someone who’s time as a dancer has come to pass, sharing the problems I see occurring in the dance world and how we can embrace change in the community without letting dance become an overly-competitive and unenjoyable experience.

If I were to re-mediate this draft, I would most likely make a Buzzfeed-style video. I’d try to make it appealing and humorous, filming young dancers from my studio back home and narrating with text, as well. If I’m really feeling ambitious, I’ll even go to some conventions (big, weekend-long dance events in hotel ballrooms where you take classes all day) and film and/or talk to some dancers there. It’d hopefully be entertaining but also get a real point across and be a little inspirational.

Another thought would be to literally make a Buzzfeed listicle. Change the formatting, maybe make it a scroll-kit, add some gifs and funny captions. People love gifs, it’s just a fact.

Also, I could re-mediate my original piece which was a final project blog post about dancers and how they use YouTube. The original post was intended for a non-dance audience and it simply showcased the ways in which dancers utilize YouTube to aid them in their dance careers. I think it would be really interesting to do a “making of” a dance YouTube video. I could do a documentary where I film one of my friends learning choreography off of YouTube, and then follow her as she edits, posts, and continues checking on and sharing the video. It can be a “how-to” or maybe a behind-the-scenes look at how these videos are made, and how they become successful.

Clearly I’m a little jumbled. So many ideas, so little time.

To, at, and about: Who ya talkin’ to?

I actually recently (probably five minutes ago now) decided to change my topic for this re-purposing assignment. I was incredibly bored of the “social media is bad” thing I had going on, so I revisited a few other pieces I’d done in my college career. I pretty much have settled on an assignment I did in my Communications 439 class, in which we were instructed to pick any topic we wanted and talk about the future. I chose to focus on how dancers are using YouTube, and what implications this might have on the future in both individual lives and the dance community as a whole.

The original audience for this piece was non-dancers. I approached it having the notion that my audience knew nothing about dance, YouTube-famous dancers, or the dance community at large. This time around, I think I’d like to direct my point at dancers. The focus will not be on how dancers are using YouTube, but perhaps how dancers should be using YouTube as well as other social media platforms to further their careers. So, here’s who I’m talking to, at, and about:

To: dancers. Specifically, any dancer that wants to dance professionally at some point in their lives, although all dancers at any age can more or less relate to the topic being discussed. The goal of talking “to” someone is to elicit a conversation and involve the other party in a meaningful way. I want to talk to dancers I know and see how they’re using social media sites to their advantage, picking their brains on the do’s and do not’s of the industry.

At: dancers/individuals that are doing it wrong. Talking “at” someone means you’re not intending for them to respond, you’re just sharing your thoughts. Often times, talking at someone can be seen as unpleasant. In my re-purposing assignment, I’m talking at those who believe there’s no advantage to dancers having social media accounts, and those who are going about using them in an inefficient manner.

About: successful social media techniques. These are the success stories. I’m talking about the people who have gained popularity or gotten more jobs and attention because of what they’re putting out on social networking sites. I’m also talking about those who have failed. I’m talking about the people who have tried it and gotten results, while also suggesting techniques based on these accounts.

Always good to change your mind completely the day before the assignment is due, am I right?

The Two Paragraph Dilemma

It’s interesting to examine the difference between two paragraphs that are saying the same thing but in entirely different ways.  Simply changing the mode in which the writer addresses their audience can have a large impact on the relationship between the two, as well as the overall tone of the piece.

The first paragraph, because the language speaks directly to the reader using personal pronouns, makes the paragraph more informal by nature. The author speaks of themselves as “I” and the audience as “you”, personalizing the argument so that the reader feels the writer is speaking directly to them. In my personal case, being able to refer to myself and the readers in this way, and unifying both groups using the word “us”, allowed for a greater sense of audience awareness. Due to my topic being the use of social media, calling out the audience and their particular use of these platforms makes the paragraph more personal and allows for the audience to feel as though they are supposed to be reading it. Being explicit about your audience and what you’re trying to say makes an argument clearer and more direct. If the relationship is explicit, the reader can better feel that they are the intended audience and perhaps then, in turn, better relate to the topic at hand. A downside of this explicit relationship is if the reader does not relate to the material. Then, it is possible that they feel that the opinion of the author is being pushed at them, or that the author is making assumptions about their beliefs. Additionally, the tone becomes much more casual and sometimes makes the argument seem less intelligible.

On the other hand, having the relationship between speaker and subject be implicit has its positive and negative aspects as well. In contrast to a more explicit relationship, a more implicit relationship will typically have more sophisticated language. Such paragraphs make more general claims about society in general, or refer to “you” and “I” as “individuals.” Without mentioning personal pronouns, the tone of the paragraph seems more research-based and perhaps more intellectual for this reason. Alternatively, implicit language can seem impersonal. The reader may have a tendency to assume that the piece was not intended for them, as calling the reader out directly may have a greater effect.

Overall, both implicit and explicit language have their effective and ineffective elements, and the writer must decide what will more appropriately express their intended message.