Second thoughts on the proposal

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about my capstone proposal.  It might be focusing too much on the general central question of the value of writing science-fiction and abstract concepts of the sort of research, while everything I outline in my production plan is very specific work related to the scifi novel that I’m writing.  Is there any way I can re-work my central question to make it more specific to what I’m doing, or does that defeat the purpose of the capstone project?  Is it supposed to end up being very general?

Also, in the time between submitting my proposal and receiving feedback on it, I have ended up focusing way more on certain concepts within the story I’m writing.  I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about the impact of technological progress on religion, womanhood, and the way humans interact with nature, and how those things intersect in my story.  I’m thinking of re-doing my proposal to center more on that realm of things and less in the general questions of the value of writing scifi.  Of course, that could come back to the original question — the value of writing science fiction is that we are able to conceptualize the social impacts of technological changes before they ever occur.

What do you guys think?  Is this project just navel-gazing?

What influences you?

So for my project I am doing a sort of family tree like structure (tentative to how well I can teach myself how to do this) that represents how I have created my perception of gender and the roles I am able to/should fill. I am starting off with showing how the roots of the tree represent some more distant and historically routed influences– things that are not always easily seen or directly associated, but are nonetheless still there. One section or ‘root’ I am looking at is how Polish women’s roles have been established throughout history. I come from a very polish family and the history of Polish women and how they interact in society has a great influence on my perception of myself and how I was raised whether I immediately realize it or not.

The last two sections– the trunk and the leaves are kind of stumping me. The trunk I thought I would use to represent some of the media that I currently experience, the foundation of the outside influences that I cannot avoid. I am looking at researching how television roles or magazines targeted at my gender and age group depict what is a good or bad woman.

For the leaves, I want to explore how people I have chosen to include in my life, decisions of friends, places of work, places I go to school, have effected me. I can’t decide if I should focus on groups of people for this or do individual leaves as individual people. I don’t know if this would be hard to interview my own friends about touchy subjects and if they would respond appropropiately.

Sorry this is long, just had a vision! What do you guys think?

On the Hunt for Sources…..

Hey guyz!

So far, my sources have yet to respond to me….or they’re just ignoring me. I’m feeling a little like this poor being:

poor boy


Anywho, I plan on contacting some other potential sources but thought I would ask for some tips from my fellow classmates first. My project’s quest is to provide the journalists’ point of view on the risks that come along with the profession. Background knowledge I’m hoping to acquire consists of journalistic ethics in local and foreign reporting, a definition of journalism this day in age, and its inherent risks. I know several student reporters but thought that interviewing people who have actually reported abroad may provide insight I, as a student reporter, obviously lack. If anyone knows of someone who has attended school for journalism specifically or has adequate experience in the professional “real world,” it would be appreciated beaucoup.

So…calling all:

  • reporters/ journalists in general (obvi)
  • even online journalists/ bloggers
  • graduate students studying journalism
  • professors who have been foreign correspondents/ journalists
  • people familiar with the basics of journalistic ethics

Just throwing this out there— suggestions more than welcome! Thanks!



Web Design Brainstorm

Hi everyone!

I’m going to be (hopefully) creating a website for my final project. I’d like to make it, both back- and front-end, myself though if that fails I might be able to settle for a WYSIWYG that has HTML editing available.

If you don’t remember, my project is going to be about wealth inequality, how Americans perceive inequality, and solutions for combatting it. I feel like this lends itself to a web format because I plan to make it so graphic heavy and I would like to allow for as much interactivity as possible.

ANYWAY I’ll soon be considering different design ideas for how to display my project material, so I have one question: what is your favorite website (design) and why? Alternatively or additionally you could tell me about your least favorite!

To start it off, I’ll tell you my favorite website du jour:

For one, someone has really done a great job with turbotax’s image over the past year in general. Their commercials are funny and their design choices are just generally spot on. I like this website because, for one, it makes great use of white space which means there isn’t overcrowding of ideas or options. Additionally, for most options that you do have (outside of the top menu) there is an icon representing the content of the page the button would bring you to. Rollover animations are nice. Embedded video is well-placed. Scrolling animation for comparative features of their products is fun. Generally it is just a very pleasant and straight-forward experience. Your turn!!

I Would Love Some Thoughts

Hellooo fellow capstoners. In the process of working on my project, I have found that our class discussions in small groups have been the most effective in helping me move forward and make progress in my ideas. So I’d like to continue that to the blog and see if I can get more thoughts from those I have worked with as well as new thoughts from people who haven’t heard my idea. So here it is:

My overall topic is mental health/illness and the stigma on campus at the University of Michigan. In order to do so, I’d like to understand further the line between talking about mental health with positive affects and talking about mental health in a manner that reinforces negative stereotypes.

I plan combine knowledge from research study research done at other campuses with my experiences at Michigan to create a comprehensive survey for University of Michigan students, portraying their overall experiences with mental illness, mental health stigma, and the University’s existing mental health initiatives.

I will then use this research and new knowledge to inform my creation of a mental health campaign, aimed to destigmatize mental health. My current ideas for this right now is somewhat of a photo essay, which would be used to share on social media to reach students. Or I could create a video (not sure of my capabilities for this). But overall, I think that doing something personal, that shows everyone what it looks like to be involved in mental health (whether that means experiences with mental illness or not) and that those people look just like everyone else.

Any thoughts/ideas/comments are appreciated!!!

Also a specific question: does anyone have ideas of how to get this survey out to more of the University of Michigan community than just my friends on Facebook, etc. I’d love to get a diverse participant base and people who don’t know me.

Habits worth breaking or NAH

So we’ve all realized how we’ve improved in our writing. But in that process, at least for me, there were some writing habits I became painfully aware of and I’m not sure whether I should be critical of them or embrace them. I’d like to address these on a couple of different levels:

1.) I ALWAYS want to incorporate music/lyrics in my writing or just straight up write about music. I’ve realized that for as much as I love to write about it, I don’t actually play instruments frequently enough. Sometimes I fear that yes, I’m faking it all. But the interest is there, I swear. It pops up in every piece of writing I actually value. Do you think that such recurring topics are ultimately a hindrance to exploration of other topics or further writing development? What’s up with being eternally caught up on one subject? Do you tend to incorporate a certain topic in much of your writing?

2.) I’ve realized that the quality of my writing depends on way too many external variables. How am I feeling today? Do I feel creative? Am I comfortable? Do I like the scenery? Can I work with background noise? What song should I play on repeat for the next five hours? And by the time I figure all of it out, an hour has gone by. Do any of you experience this? What’s your favorite writing environment/scenario/song? How much emphasis do you think should be put on creating the perfect writing environment?

And if you’re interested, here’s my current writing playlist (aka the biggest determinant of my writing environment) :

“Another Night,” Real McCoy

“If I Fell,” The Beatles

“Mr. Blue Sky,” ELO

“Tim I wish you were born a girl,” Of Montreal

La Voce

I wonder if I can make this sound more interesting if I write the topic of this post in another language.  Maybe, because you clicked on this, it did its purpose! For those who speak Italian, you know what I’m talking about. And for those who don’t, I’m talking about voice.

Not in the type of sound that you hear when you speak – like mine that has lately become so raspy and crackly I wonder if anyone will be able to hear me in the future. I’m talking about a writer’s voice. We hear this term all the time. English professors and any other discipline’s professors telling you that you need to find your voice as a writer. But, as I am tackling this evolution essay, I am trying to understand what this voice means. I can look it up, but this definition doesn’t seem to be what I am looking for.

So I am sending this off into this blogosphere. How would you define a writer’s voice? Can it change? Do you think you have one? Does a writer’s voice define their writing?

Writing Your Way to Happiness

I came across this article, Writing Your Way to Happiness from the New York Times and was intrigued by the title. The article discusses multiple studies done showing that expressive writing essentially does wonders for your mood. Most situations were getting out what you were thinking or feeling on paper and experiencing someone else wanting to hear what you have to say. However, one described “rewriting” your narrative and changing how things have gone/will go in the future. This I haven’t tried, but many students did better in school after writing about improving their future. Maybe I will give it a try.

I have always been a very expressive writer, which is a struggle I have in the writing minor or other classes when I try to make things less expressive. I’m wondering if everyone else feels like writing is or can be an expressive, mood-lifting experience or because we are MiW’s it has just become work and something we’re kinda good at.

Hard Work vs. Passion

Now that I actually realize what the assignment point pool tracking thing entails (I was not totally on board before), I’ve realized what a great idea it actually is.  Instead of being graded on how good our finished project is (which is a hard to do objectively), we are being graded on the little things that will lead up to a good project.

This has got me thinking about how different professors try different methods of motivation for big projects.  For instance, last semester I was in two classes that had large essays due near the end of the semester, one fifteen pages and the other 25-50.  The fifteen-pager was for a science class, EARTH 380, and most of my fellow students were Geology majors looking to get their ULWR credit.  I was the only one in my discussion section who seemed enthusiastic about my topic and writing the actual research paper, but the professor was very thorough in breaking down the assignment into manageable chunks spaced out over the semester, and was very clear on what his expectations were the whole time.  Not everyone enjoyed writing the paper, but everyone got it done, and had gone through at least four drafts by the time it was submitted.

In contrast, every single one of my classmates in my senior thesis-writing course was passionate about their chosen topic.  We were given near-complete freedom over the semester; the only concrete date was the due date.  Despite our passion for the subjects, nearly everyone in the class floundered because of the lack of structure.  The only reason I was able to succeed in writing my paper is because I met frequently with an advisor who gave me constant feedback on my drafts, and because I used the structure given by my EARTH 380 class to map out what I should have accomplished for my senior thesis at each point in the semester, rather than hastily writing the whole thing in the last two weeks of the semester.

For most of my life, I’ve assumed that passion for your work is the most important component for success.  Now, however, I realize that if passion can’t be narrowed and focused into consistent day-to-day work, it’s no use for anything more than a hobby.

Question for the comments: have you ever had a passion project that you just couldn’t get started on or finished?  Have you ever enjoyed a project you didn’t initially care about because you had enough external motivation to actually delve into the topic?


helpppp meee wahhhh

alright, so….

i think…

…i might know what i might be doing for this final capstone

eek. scary.

idea #1)

bodies. Specifically female bodies and the exploration of females being objectified by the media. More so, the experiences my peers and I have come in contact with as a result. Transform this into a poem or monologue and pair it up with some black and white images of female bodies, cut up (not actually, just by the camera). boom. mmm….


idea #2)

WORDS. WORDS ARE SO POWERFUL PEOPLE! Okay but how do i convey this. I want to go into PR because of how powerful words can be. Ok, so idea: have people identify themselves (maybe pick 2-3 words) and why thats so powerful. But there has to be more…

This word idea is just so complex that I can’t even really grasp my head around it. I am just so confused as to how I can convey the powerful power of words by giving great justice to these words. I have extended my research and I am still coming up dry. Suggestions?