Experiment Three Reflection

I think that the photo essay genre is appealing to me because I appreciate the interactive nature of it, while leaving little to be interpreted by the audience. The image makes it easy for them to visualize exactly what is going on, and the words allow you to persuade the audience that what is in the image connects to the problems that are present directly. If I were to fully realize this project, I think it would effectively blend credibility and logic to successfully allow the audience to recognize the issues at hand. During the proposal stage I actually envisioned the project turning out well because it squashed all issues I had in prior experiments, while, at least superficially, not bringing forth new issues. My origin piece was a research essay about cycles of criminal activity, so the direction I’ve gone in has made it more of a casual life lesson that is more relatable for the typical viewer. I left behind the formal persuasive nature of my origin piece, and instead have chosen to persuade using reasoning and logic to replace facts and statistics that were initially incorporated. Although I felt nonfiction made my point feel serious and real, the relatability was low as it only applied to a small subset of the population in the United States. If I were to fully realize this experiment, I would need to learn about the most effective ways to tie up my words with the picture. Is the picture there to allude to or is it supposed to be a visual that gets the audience thinking prior to reading the words? It would also be necessary for me to make my verbiage sophisticated in order to establish myself as an intellectual source to speak on my topic. I have already taken the photo that I feel best represents the issues that I touch on, and have received my subjects permission to use it in my piece. The ethical issues behind using another person’s problem in a public piece were something I needed to consider, but after discussing with him it seems as though he approves of me using the topic as a means of making my point. If I were to publish this piece, I would likely do it on the website of a news source. This is where I found all of my mentor pieces, and is a place where I would have built-in credibility that would establish me as reliable in spite of my age. It was crucial for me to go through the process of planning experiments one and two in order to work through the kinks and come away with an understanding of the struggles I would face in the process of producing a piece that effectively released my message. All in all, contrary to my initial thoughts, it helped me to outline multiple genres, as I was surprised to find that my first two choices would have come with great obstacles that I did not see prior to going through the experimental process.

Experiment Two Reflection

I enjoyed researching and learning about the fiction genre. Going through this experimental process allowed me to realize the immense freedom that comes with writing within the fiction genre. The creativity the author is afforded makes it appealing in that it can be tailored perfectly to the writers style, being that the story and themes can be produced out of thin air with any reasonable or unreasonable basis. When I considered an open letter for my last experimental piece, I began to realize how detrimental to my argument it would be for the audience to know that a 19 year-old student with no experience in what he was discussing would be to the points I was trying to make and have heard. I think that while this genre has addressed my biggest concern writing about this topic, it does bring a new issue to the forefront. The story I am writing is fictional now, and fiction carries less realism than an open letter. My story will be made up, and my audience will know that, so instead of narrating a true story with real-life implications, I’ll be discussing a fictional story with themes that may not be taken seriously by an audience reading for entertainment purposes. I’ve left behind numerous aspects of my origin piece, most notably the reversal from nonfiction to fiction style writing. This has decreased the seriousness of my ideas, yet added a level of entertainment and youth to my stories. If I were to fully realize this genre, I would certainly need to learn to toe the line between making my story feel plausible yet keep it entertaining in an effort to subtly unleash my themes in the mind of the audience. I would also need to learn to write in a manner that appeases all audiences and a storyline that could be understood and related to by all types of audiences with a wide array of demographics. If I were to publish this piece, I believe the best step would be to find a true story that intrigued me, and base my fictional story off of it. This would provide a realistic feel and idea of relatedness in my story. I feel as though my story would be best understood in books if it were published. This would add a sense of novelty, and thus realness to the readers. This style of writing is far different than the open letter I explored for experiment one, and has allowed me to realize that my status as a 19 year-old prevents me from being able to deliver a logical argument regarding a phenomenon that I had never experienced. I look forward to the third experimental piece because my experiences with this experiment taught me that despite my positivity in regards to my idea, there are flaws I can recognize after being exposed to a more cohesive genre. My ability to adapt as a writer to changing genres hopefully can result in a final piece that reflects the culmination of my efforts.

The Decision

Working through my three experiments was a great learning opportunity because I was able to dive into the conventions of genres that I was unfamiliar with. After analyzing examples of photo-essays, food recommendation articles, and open letters, I have decided to fully realize a restaurant review article. This piece will be written from my perspective as a young adult who, while growing up, made frequent trips into New York City for the singular purpose of eating. I am writing about a restaurant called Pera Soho, and specifically exploring the brunch experience at this restaurant. I am writing to people who are looking for a place to dine that offers the trendy, aesthetically pleasing brunch that Instagram influencers often seek without compromising on quality food. What makes this recommendation more interesting is the cuisine–it is a Middle Eastern restaurant, instead of the usual avocado toast and green juice offered at most brunch spots. I want to lean into that aspect of the review because most popular restaurants on social media are essentially clones of the same whitewashed version of “good food.” I think that this restaurant, and many others like it, are underrated by the general public due to the more ethnic cuisine they serve.

This experiment honestly excited me the most because I like the flexibility it offers with inserting my own experiences into the piece. I want to be able to truly channel something that I am passionate about into the final product, and food in New York City is genuinely one of my favorite topics to discuss. I also look forward to being able to write in a narrative style for this piece and really transport the audience into a dining experience at Pera Soho. Overall, I think I will have a lot of fun playing around with the best way to tell a compelling story through the conventions of an article-style piece.

It is incredibly commonplace for people to search up restaurant recommendations on the Internet before the make a reservation somewhere. This article is framed as a restaurant recommendation and will therefore be proliferated in that context. As a result, I believe that my message about the world of quality, ethnic cuisine that exists on the fringes of American brunch culture will reach my intended audience, whether or not that was the message my audience intended to find. I would like to write this piece with the intent of publishing it in The New York Times in order to lend more credibility and weight to what is ultimately an opinion piece. Although the connotation of the NYT implies a more serious, adult readership, but the Internet would essentially make this review accessible to any demographic.

Fully-Realized Experiment: Making a Podcast

I am planning on making a podcast for my fully-realized draft. My podcast will use personal narrative and scientific evidence to explore the connection between music, memory, and emotion. I was inspired to take on this topic in a podcast format after realizing that, out of the many music podcasts on iTunes, very few gave a voice to fans for sharing how music has affected their lives. I thought that incorporating a scientific perspective into this theme would complement the emotion that dominates personal narratives, and add depth to my piece. I want to be able to explain and demonstrate, for instance, why a song can make someone nostalgic, why we keep revisiting sad songs, and why we often turn to music to express affection.

In terms of my authority as the host, I am aiming to establish myself as a peer to my audience. I am not an expert in any of the areas that I plan to discuss, but rather a storyteller who is aiming to make sense of why music affects us in the way that it does. I anticipate that my audience is equally curious in learning why and how people come to love music, and thus will aim to serve this interest through meaningful research and carefully-selected stories. I also think that my stance as a peer will be the best way to match the podcast’s personal and relatable subject matter.

I am very excited to make a podcast, but also very nervous! I have never done anything like this, and am worried that, at the end of the day, if I can’t figure out how to properly edit and produce, I won’t have a final product. Still, I believe in this project because I think that a podcast is a great format for giving a voice to a topic from which listeners can learn and empathize: the format will hopefully allow me to form a more intimate connection to my audience, as I am using my own, hopefully approachable, speaking voice in order to share a narrative on a rather personal/emotion-based topic. My other experiments, a mini graphic novel and a collection of music essays, seemed to not fit my goal of holistically exploring the emotion behind music as effectively as a podcast. It definitely would have been more of a challenge to include a scientific component into a graphic novel, as well as to authentically share an interview in the voice of its subject in either of these two remaining mediums.  I am also just overall a huge fan of many podcasts, and have always been curious about what it would be like to make one of my own, so that is certainly an added benefit.

Again, I think that a podcast gives me the ability to craft a narrative on my own terms, literally in my own voice. This will enhance the personal tone that I am trying to establish, and hopefully inspire listeners to embrace what I am saying as a peer rather than a daunting or overly-technical expert. I have found this to be the case in my own experiences listening to podcasts, as I am much more eager to enjoy and absorb an episode that includes discussion and friendly debate rather than a dry lecture. With this in mind, I think that I face two main challenges: avoiding to talk at my audience, and creating a cohesive story. I do not want to simply read off facts and then sign off, and I also do not want to leave the audience more confused than when they started by offering a final product that does not focus in on a consistent theme. If all things went according to plan, I would likely try to get this podcast published on iTunes, if I did decide to actually distribute it.

Fully Realized Experiment Rationale

For my fully realized experiiment, I am going to be pursuing my third experiment, which focused on interviewing journalists about journalism in the ‘fake news’ era as well as female journalists about their careers. My rhetorical situation is pretty straightforward. As a university student writing interviewing journalists, my background will impact the way audience members perceive the credibility of my work. I am writing to member’s in my own community as well as anyone interested in journalism in modern society, especially when its credibility as a craft is so under attack right now. I want to emphasize the importance of journalism’s place in a democracy. Likewise, what’s happening in the world will affect everything to do with my piece because current events are what inspired me to pursue this project.     

This experiment has been the one in the back of my mind since the start of this class. Basically, I’ve been itching to work on something like this since I wrote my origin piece last semester, and so my belief in this has been the strongest by virtue of being the idea I’ve always been the most excited about. Likewise, I believe in this experiment over my first experiment (satirical BuzzFeed post about podcasts) because I think it’s more engaging in terms of the focus and more relevant to real issues. Additionally, I believe in this experiment over my second experiment (making my own podcast) because I would not have to pick up on as many technical skills, and therefore my final product will be more put-together.

While I am not a student journalist, journalism has always been something I have cared immensely about. Likewise, I recognize that journalists’ goal is to tell the story, not be the story. However, I also think that achieving credible insight into the world of journalism from the source — the reporter’s I’d interview — would emphasize the importance of quality reporting, especially in today’s world.

The genre I’ve chosen to use the deliver my message, feature/profile writing, is a strong one because it’s the subject of my project. Initially, I had been hoping to write several traditional features stories, but realize that with the time allotted for this project in addition to other work that wouldn’t be doable. So, I switched my sights to a general ask and answer format. However, I think this could possibly be even more impactful because the information is streamlined for readers, and it allows more room for the interviewees’ voice, which is what I want to prioritize.

Potential challenges reaching my audience is a lack of interest and political affiliation. There’s a perception that the media at large is liberal and therefore is biased against conservatives or Republican’s. This plays into issues with reaching my audience because I am focusing on the problems associated with reporting in the era of “fake news;” something often associated with the right side of the political spectrum. So really, the issue of political bias common to most things today will probably be my main issue.

I’m hoping with the style of this it would fit in with an online publication like VICE or Buzzfeed (when they try to be more serious). The tone I am aiming for these pieces are straightforward and hopefully adaptable to any online publication.

FRE Decision

I’ll be fully realizing my Experiment 1. My FRE will be a guide to creating a character in the Pathfinder TTRPG. It will include an extensive rewrite of the current character creation rules, reorganized to better reflect how we go about designing a character. It will also include tips that will help new players create a character they enjoy playing and generally help them navigate through the thousands of options available to them. One reason I chose this experiment is because all of the Pathfinder character creation rules I’ve read through misrepresent how we typically create characters, and none of them really guide the player through all the possible options. These issues make an already complex process even more difficult to navigate and increase the barrier of entry for people interested in playing Pathfinder. My FRE would lower this barrier of entry and generally be a more useful guide to character creation for new players. As an experienced Pathfinder player, I’d like to enable others to join in the hobby I enjoy so much. I’d like to share these rewritten rules with current Pathfinder players so they can potentially use them to introduce new players to the game. I’d also like to try to find a venue that would more directly allow my guide to reach people interested in trying Pathfinder (e.g. a journal/website dedicated to TTRPGs/tabletop games).

I’ve been excited to work on this experiment since I thought of it. I’ve always emphasized and enjoyed writing very clearly, concisely, and understandably in my work. It’s recently gotten me interested in technical writing (e.g. writing instruction manuals and user guides). Rewriting the Pathfinder character creation rules allows me to try out technical writing and see how I feel about it. It also gives me a chance to work with one of my favorite subjects and gain a deeper understanding of Pathfinder. In particular, it will be very interesting to try to come up with useful tips for new players in character creation. The character creation system is very complex, so you really have to analyze the system deeply to determine how we make enjoyable characters. This FRE will also have a very reasonable workload – I don’t have to do a whole lot of research (I’m already very familiar with the system), and the actual instructions will more-or-less be paraphrased from other sources. The tips and formatting are the biggest challenges, but those should still be reasonably achievable.

I really enjoyed writing for my second experiment, but it would’ve taken way too long to fully realize it. I wanted to write a full-length farce (a play with absurdist comedy), but 2 hours of dialogue takes many hours of writing. My Experiment 3 (a Socratic dialogue) would’ve been more reasonable, but I didn’t find the genre as compelling as I had initially expected. It seems like a formal philosophy essay or a play might’ve been better fits for my idea.

My character creation guide will be in the form of an instruction manual. When you want to deliver instructions as clearly and concisely as possible, instruction manuals are typically the best choice. My origin piece interspersed the instructions for character creation throughout a personal narrative about creating my own character. Although it was interesting, I definitely wouldn’t hand it to a new player and tell them to use it to create a Pathfinder character. If you want to know how to change a lightbulb, you’re probably not gonna pick up a romance novel, musical, or horror film about changing a lightbulb – an instruction manual will deliver a far more focused message in far less time. You might watch the lightbulb horror film for fun, but you probably won’t want to sit through 2 hours and 10 minutes of lightbulb-based terror every time your lightbulb burns out. I want to deliver a clear, concise, focused guide to Pathfinder character creation, so an instruction manual is my best bet. I don’t think my genre would make it more difficult to reach my audience; sure, D&D short stories and memes reach a broader audience, but they’d do an awful job of delivering character creation instructions. I think if I publish to the right venues, my guide could still reach a good number of new players.

I could post my character creation guide on both of these forums dedicated to Pathfinder:  https://www.reddit.com/r/Pathfinder_RPG/ and https://paizo.com/community/forums/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG. From there, experienced players could introduce new players to Pathfinder with my guide.

Constructing a video essay: my fully-realized experiment rationale

For my fully-realized experiment, I am choosing to rework my origin piece, an autobiographical essay that examines my social media profiles, into a video essay. My decision to work on a visual essay came down to my interest in the rhetorical and structural elements of video essays, which I believe will make for an effective transposition of my origin piece’s content. To be more specific, I am interested in video essay’s composite of audio and video modalities as well as time-based structure. Both of these features would be complementary to the linear and evocative nature of my origin piece.

In considering an audience for this experiment, I would describe my target individual as young, technologically-savvy, and intellectually curious. This individual views a platform like YouTube not as a mindless pastime, but as a gateway to informational and cultural content which can be engaged with critically. For my piece, I hope to encourage a more reflective approach to social media use by drawing attention to the implications of content persistence on social profiles, as well as user interventions to counteract this feature. My origin piece attempted to bring this out through a critical reflection on my decision to delete hundreds of old posts in an order to override the “automatic” construction of my Facebook profile, which I thought was no longer an accurate representation of myself.

While my piece presented itself as a personal narrative, it also takes on a critical lens to general social phenomena within the information age. The piece was originally motivated by my interest in general concerns over privacy and self-image in social-information contexts. I believe the implications of content persistence is important to discuss as more and more data from our lives are integrated into these incomprehensibly vast information networks. As I rework the content of my piece for video essay, I may also try probing further into notions of privacy, data ownership, and “the right to be forgotten.”

In my proposal, genre analysis, and reflection papers, I discussed three characteristic qualities of video essay which include, a condensed presentation of information, subjective argumentation, and continuous narration. I argued that these elements would allow me to strike a difficult balance between contradictory experiences:

between the visceral and contemplative,
the critical and aspirational, and
the personal and universal.

I also explained that I could create a more compelling piece by reworking the original text into a format and style that would be better suited for a video essay. I had hoped that I could develop a script that would allow me to toggle between general or universal sentiments concerning social media and my own particular perspective based on my personal experience.

To execute this experiment, I will first complete a planning and preparation stage which would involve, writing a script, drafting a storyboard, gathering visual materials (e.g., footage and images), and acquiring access to a microphone for recording and software for video editing. I would then need to actually record the narration as well as create, film, or appropriate images and footage for the video. My editing process would involve recursively moving from feedback reception to revision. By the end of this process, I may consider publishing the project on either YouTube or Vimeo.

A Fully-Realized Blog

Through the experiment process I have tested the boundaries that accompany voice. In my origin piece, I utilized my voice in a less personal way to offer advise the future resident of my dorm room about the tremorous first year of college. I reworked this in experiment 1 to propose a manifesto that would eliminate the perspective of the future resident to really hone my own personal voice. In experiment 2, I decided to utilize a completely emotionless and factual voice to allow the photos of my proposed photo essay to speak for themselves. After going through this experiment process, I have learned my strongest tool while writing is my personal voice conveyed through emotional and credible appeals. Because of this, I have chosen to fully realize experiment 3. In this experiment, I proposed to create a blog which will allow me to channel my personal voice to articulate the various story threads embedded in my origin piece.

However, I have come to the realization there is no perfect way to blog. I envision my blog to be one where I am able to write and comment on a variety of topics embedded within the parameters of today’s society. My audience will be composed of others who are inspired or rather curious about focal points of my writing. Before beginning my journey as a writing minor, blogging has always been of interest to me. By fully realizing experiment 3, I will be given the chance to rediscover and pursue a passion I have let simmer inside of me. As I embark on this creative adventure, I will strive to always write with an open mind, as well as write from a stance of credibility. I will strive to write from a viewpoint of personal experience and do my absolute best to minimize any overbearing bias. Quite frankly, this is a project I am extremely eager for as it is something I have always wanted to do. I plan to publish my blog utilizing WordPress and if success is to come my way during my full realization of this experiment, perhaps I will continue blog for the remainder of my undergraduate career.


Julian Hansen
Tuesday March 26, 2019

Part I: Decision Blog Post

For my fully realized experiment, I’ve chosen to write an op-ed. I’ve struggled a lot with this decision (which I see as a good thing) because I could see myself realizing all 3 of the projects. I choose the op-ed, however, because I think it would be the most intellectually challenging, and beneficial to ‘force’ myself to really do research to justify and back-up my opinions.

My origin piece (an empirical research essay written in the IMRAD structure) was written out of frustration. I was frustrated that very few of my environmentalist peers and friends were taking collective action to fight climate change, and wanted to find out why. I am a person that dedicates a significant time to organizing events and actions around climate action on U-M’s campus, and found that despite occupying a variety of different environmental circles, few people showed up to these events, and even less were in the planning rooms.

I asked my environmental peers “what actions do you take to fight climate change on a daily basis” and found that many people were taking very individual actions (not eating meat, walking instead of driving, recycling) and few were taking collective action (education, awareness raising, organizing, event planning). Again, being born out of a sense of frustration, I realized that I wasn’t frustrated with the lack of environmental action, but rather the lack of ​collective e​ nvironmental action.

I want to write this op-ed to those who think of themselves as environmentalists but are absent in the planning rooms. I want to write this op-ed to those who think that recycling is enough, or who think that walking instead of taking the bus is enough. Is it needed? YES. Is it enough? No, well not in my opinion. I want to write this to convince those who don’t take collective action that collective action is ​necessary​. The issues of climate change are not being solved fast enough, and we need ​everyone​. Using collective action to change large-scale policy is much more beneficial and impactful than forcing the responsibility on individuals, forcing them to fix the problems and carry the guilt of not doing everything possible. We need collective action.

I believe in this experiment because I think it would challenge me to very articulately write out my beliefs, and also find fact to back-up these opinions. All successful op-eds use fact to explain opinion, thus forcing me to do research for exact numbers about the impacts of collective action versus the impact of individual actions. Again, both needed, but we can’t just have individuals doing individual action. I am excited to do the research so that I can both have more a more sophisticated and nuanced argument, both in my writing and daily life. I find myself talking about this a lot, so having figures will be very beneficial for me. I’m also excited to get the opportunity to carefully craft my opinion and get it down on paper.

This is a strong genre because fact and opinion is a strong balance, and, like previously mentioned, the op-ed needs both. One challenge is that people don’t like being told what to do, especially over writing, so it might potentially come across as accusatory or threatening.

I want to publish my peace in the Michigan Daily. I recently published one about my reflection on the March 15 Climate Strike, and it was a great platform to voice my opinion. It is easy to get it published, and is close enough to home that I can bring in specific examples of U-M collective action to back-up my point.

Fully Realized Planning

For my fully realized project, I decided to expand upon my children’s book.  This genre was one that I found very interesting as I will have the opportunity to present complex issues in a simple way.  This means limited text and vocabulary with illustrations. I want to explain to children that it is ok to be different, in this capacity I am talking about religious and ethnic differences, and that these differences should not be bounds for friendships. I think that due to the nature of the conflict, this piece will only be well received by the innocent mind of a child. I believe in this experiment more than the other ones because the audience is unique.  When presenting such a difficult topic, children are not usually targeted; however, the children’s book primes the readers with the skills they need to accept others’ differences. Additionally, I am excited to work on this project because this will be my first time working on a project like this and there is a lot to learn. I am also excited about the visuals and ability to work with color! I think the colored images make this genre a specifically good one to reach my audience because the children have lower reading levels and are more drawn to colorful images than text.  Furthermore, children’s books are great ways for parents to teach their children a life lesson or moral so they could use this book to instruct their children about the Arab Israeli conflict or about accepting differences in general. One website that I could publish my digital story book is storyjumper.com. This is a website where amature writers can publish their pieces. I used this for a lot of my research because it is one of the only places with free access to children’s books. The books I saw on this website were very engaging and effective in presenting their lesson.