Challenge Journal #4: So much noise

You know the best thing about creating a podcast series, other than having deep and heartfelt conversations with your friends?

The hours upon hours spent editing the transcripts for them.

 

 

So. much. fun (as an aside, THANK GOD for canvas having a transcription feature).

I’m slowly chipping away at these, and should have them done by the end of the week (hopefully before the March Madness game on Saturday!). I’m excited because that’s all of the mindless work done; no longer will I have to sit at a computer for hours and listen to a file, pause it, and edit the transcript accordingly.

Now I get to sit at a computer for hours and listen to a file, pause it, and edit the audio file accordingly.

Such a big improvement.

Here’s the thing though: I actually get to be creative with the audio files. I can add my own zany and wacky effects to them to really individualize and distinguish my podcast above all of the others. I can now begin to explore incorporating my voice in a way that is not necessarily written, and it is a prospect that I am happy to start diving in.

At the same time, it is the part of the project that I am most fearful towards.

While I enjoy the abundance of creative liberty that is granted to me with this project, there are two concerns I have. The first involves deciding how exactly I want my voice to be understood with the podcast; not my literal voice, but the one as a podcast creator. How loud do I want my presence as an editor to be known to the listener, and what tone should it take? I’m leaning towards having it be comedic, but I don’t want to inundate the listener to the point where the valuable lessons to be ascertained from the podcast will be lost with the laughter. My other, equally worrisome concern is that I will go down a metaphorical rabbit hole of editing, and that I will not be satisfied with my project until it is what I consider to be the epitome of a podcast, which will involve me spending literal days hunched over a computer instead of enjoying my last few weeks here as an undergraduate (unbeknownst to some readers, I’m a wee bit of a perfectionist: I spent roughly five weeks editing a paper for an English class I’m taking now until I thought it was acceptable).

It’s a similar problem I had with my gateway class and the initial major project we had to do (I think it was the repurposing project?). I knew I wanted to do some form of satire, but I was not exactly sure how to strike a balance being comedic and being informative. So I looked up multiple examples, cycling through various multimodal and written pieces of satire, eventually falling in love with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

I loved how he was able to include humorous quips into his piece that did not obfuscate the main point of his message, which almost always turned out to be very informative. To that end, I decided to mimic my project to be of a similar nature, and this decision proved to be essential in helping me come up with the editing decisions and script I made for the final project.

Even though there were a couple of podcasts I listed as being potentially useful for my project, I haven’t really been enamored with them. They are fabulous podcasts in their own right, don’t get me wrong; it’s just not something that I am really resonating with. To that end, I think that’s what I got to do for this project. I’ll keep cycling through different podcasts until I find one that I really latch onto. From there, I’ll analyze it thoroughly, try to understand why I find it so captivating, and subsequently attempt to incorporate their editing techniques into my own project.

At least it will give me something else to listen to other than my own voice.

Writing and Rewriting

All writing is rewriting.

My professional writing professor last semester drilled this idea into my head and, at first, I didn’t see the connection between that statement and the question of “what counts as writing?” that we discussed during class.

However, after the readings by both Ong and Brandt as well as the gallery composed by our class, I’ve found the multifaceted and totally ambiguous answer. What counts as writing is constantly in revision, which is why it is so difficult–I’d even argue, impossible–to narrow down what “counts” as writing.

Writing, to me, has always been a form of communication. The physical act of putting pen to paper or writing code on a computer is in an effort to relay a message. When I write, I have some sort of audience in mind, whether it’s myself when I’m writing in my five-year diary or my boss when I’m crafting a blog post for work. What distinguishes writing, for me, from other forms of communication is the physical nature of creation, which Ong iterates. “There is no way to write naturally.” Ong explains, “…writing is completely artificial” (81). Whereas oral speech can come about organically, writing requires agency and action. The gallery showcases this “action” in the form of videos, Google Maps, and recipes–things I wouldn’t usually think of as writing–and supports the artificiality and physical nature of writing Ong presents.

Another aspect of both Ong’s and Brandt’s readings that challenged me had to do with the idea of trust that the reader instills in a writer. Academic institutions constantly reinforce how unethical plagiarism is and the consequences of carrying out such an act. Still, plenty of students copy and paste sentences from papers they find on the Internet or even take another student’s paper and submit it as their own. Clearly, this paragraph mention in the syllabus isn’t working. However, as Brandt points out, “Plagiarism is a form of material theft but what makes it so morally egregious is that it betrays the trust fundamental to the act of reading; it interrupts the moral transfer of the good from the writer to the reader” (143). This idea of trust and lack thereof places writing on a moral pedestal and requires us, as writers, to think of our obligation to the reader, which is something that I have never considered over the 15+ years I’ve been writing.

When I write, I am telling my reader that I can be trusted. I am telling my reader that my words and thoughts are my own and that, even if they don’t agree with me, they come from a genuine place of communicating.

What I look forward to most about this course is being challenged. I believe that it’s easy to get into the habit of agreeing with others because the potential for failure exists and being vulnerable is unnatural. I feel that the minor will challenge me to take my preconceived notions, my vulnerability, and my passion and create work that provokes others to push themselves out of their comfort zones.

#STYLECHALLENGE: Navigation

From the very start of my remediation project, it was a goal of mine to incorporate the “journey”/”travel” feel that my repurposing project consisted of. After deciding to create a website for my remediation project, however, I knew this would be a bit more difficult than it was for a magazine spread. How was I going to incorporate this journey/travel aura on a multi-page website? I needed to find a way to string all my pages together, in a way that would allow the users of my site to feel as though they were traveling to different places in the world.

After meeting with Professor Silver, she gave me great insight into how to fix this problem. Instead of simply having a menu at the side of my site with different tabs, I figured out how to link the different pages under particular tabs together. For example, one of my tabs is a review of different restaurants in Ann Arbor that serve unique and tasty salsas. When you click on the tab, which is called “HOT” SPOTS, you are taken to an introductory page about Ann Arbor in general, and how it houses many Mexican restaurants. Then, instead of putting information about the three restaurants I chose to include (Isalita, BTB Cantina, and Chipotle) all on that same introductory page, I created hyperlinks that takes users to separate pages, each with information on just one of the restaurants. This also solved the problem of having too much text on a single page. The “HOT” SPOTS page now looks like this (the red words are the links):

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 4.39.38 PM

In addition, Professor Silver also mentioned that instead of forcing users to click on the tab menu each time they wanted to get back to the introductory page or read about a different restaurant, that I should string the pages together. At the bottom of each page, I put a link/button to help users navigate through, or “travel” to the next restaurant. This way, they can move back to the previous page they were on, or move ahead to the next page, without having to go back to the introductory “HOT” SPOTS page and search for the link for the restaurant they want to read about. An example of this new style feature on my site looks like this (the links are in yellow):

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 4.43.40 PM

Technology Challenge: Exploring Lynda.com

I really enjoyed my experience on Lynda.com. From my perspective, tutorial videos have always been an interesting and fun way of learning. As a Communications Studies major, my coursework often requires I watch “TedTalks,” or videos that consist of a researcher or knowledgeable person giving an informed speech on a particular topic to an actual audience. The tutorials I watched on Lynda.com reminded me of my experiences watching these “TedTalks,” in terms of the interactivity, images, charts, and voiceovers included in them. One thing I particularly liked about Lynda.com was how it was broken up into different video categories, including Business, 3D, Design, Photography, etc. This made the website easy to surf through and figure out, being that it was my first time on it. Additionally, each tutorial was broken up into sections, almost like chapters. The video would start out with an introductory clip/voiceover, and transition into its subsequent sections.

One particular tutorial that struck me was called “Photoshop Color Correction: Dark Color Cast” with Taz Tally. Photoshop is a technological application that I have always been interested in learning how to use. In fact, there have been times in my life where I wished I knew how to use it, for project or other academic purposes. That being said, this tutorial taught me more information in a short period of time than I ever thought I could learn from an online video. Particularly, the video featured a behind-the-scenes user navigating and working on Photoshop. You can see the mouse controlling different features of the program, such as shifting and creating color schemes through histograms, contrast and brightness buttons, and color tone removal scales. Personally, I am a visual person, and this was an easy way for me to learn about a very complicated program.

Another tutorial that stuck out to me was called “Google+ For Musicians and Bands” with Bobby Owsinski. This video was of particular interest to me because I love listening to and sharing music with others- it is a hobby of mine. The video outlines the ways in which Google+ is the “rising kid on the block” in terms of a social platform for up and coming musicians. It acts as a brief marketing tutorial for those who wish to grow their fan base online and connect with other musicians. Although I am in no way, shape, or form a skilled or talented musician, let alone part of a band, I do use the Internet for musical purposes. I am an avid user of various websites that connect me with those who listen to similar music to me. In the same way, I felt this tutorial gave me great insight into a Google platform that connects music-lovers across the world. It included images, brief, visual outlines, and a model, interactive computer screen that enabled me to learn about Google+ from the perspective of the music industry.

Challenge For You- Taking for Granted.

College is really tough. I think we can all agree on this one. There’s a million things to do and never enough time.

But it’s time has become a real issue for me lately. It’s really starting to set in that I only have 2 years left here; that half of my journey at this University, with these people, is half way over. [Part of this impending doom feeling is probably coming from the fact that I’m exiting teen-hood in 2 months and turning 20 on November 25th… but regardless, it’s stressful.]

Last week an advisor at my work announced that he had accepted a position, at OSU of all places, and that he would be leaving us. Now, before I get started here, I am very happy for him. It’s been his dream job forever and he’s finally got an opportunity to take his life by storm. But change has never been something I’m good at. And then he dropped that he’s leaving this Friday. He gave us just over a weeks heads up. It really tore me up because he’s been in the office since I started here as a Freshman in 2011. I always looked to him for a smile and for encouragement.

However, the situation made me also realize that a lot of people I’ve met here are gone. They graduated or got better jobs and now they’re out doing amazing things around not only this state, but around the country. Although it really sucks to have people you get attached to seeing every day leave like that, deep down you know that’s just life and you move on. But now, I’ve been thinking that’s a boring way to look at it.

So here is a quote from me to you that this advisor who is leaving for OSU on Friday inspired me to create and live out every day without knowing it until now:

“People are placed in your life for a reason whether you know it or not. Take something from each of them, but give something of yourself as well. Even if it’s only a smile.”

I would like to challenge you to see the reason for the people in your life and to stop taking those people for granted.

Haunted Bell Tower. Staff shot. Event presented by CCI on North Campus each October.
Haunted Bell Tower. Staff shot. Event presented by CCI on North Campus each October.