Friday, May 17, 2013

Writing the Living Web

In Mark Bernstein's "10 Tips on Writing the Living Web", he lists 10 different aspects for writing for the internet and how it can be effectively done. Below is my understanding of these ten tips and a summary of Bernstein's description of these tips.

1. The first, write for a reason, is pretty self-explanatory. If you are interested in fishing, write about fishing. Write a story about a fisherman. Write a song about how fun it is to fish and the excitement that you feel when a fish bites the bate. Writing without a reason is kind of like writing for an assignment; you're writing for a good grade, but you've got a million and one other things you would rather be doing. When you write for a reason, you write about something that is important to you or something leisurely like a hobby that you find fun.

In Bernstein's explanation, he expresses that it is important to bring details to life. He uses the example of artists having an extreme sense that this or that detail can make or break their piece of work. Using details and the reason why it is being written draws others' attention. Although there are many people bound to stop by your site, blog, article, etc., don't expect a certain person or group of people to take the time to sit down and read if their agendas are full. Writing with a purpose or reason promotes the importance of your work to you, and maybe even others who may come across it.

2. Write often is an important practice for getting better and getting deeper about your topic or reason. Getting used to the flow of writing can help you expand your writing style, and if it's something you try to spread out to online readers widespread, having multiple accents in your writing can help gain that attraction. Writing often is important because it keeps you in check and keeps your skill of writing in a comfortable pace towards improvement. As an example, I've played basketball a lot when I was in high school. I used to play with my cousins and friends, and I could easily say I could play pretty well. Now, since I don't play often, I suck. Simple as that. Doing something often is not entirely about practice, but it helps you enjoy what you like to do even more. In this sense, it helps expand your horizons on your reason for writing.

Bernstein tries to make it understandable that practice does not eventually perform perfection, but that practice (in the sense of doing things often) forms a state of meditation for a person. Writing often, as Bernstein explains, is a way to show consistency and reliability for updating content. Occasionally missing a post or work is "a small thing - rudeness, not betrayal", but by being inconsistent, readers can deem you untrustworthy of updating new content.

3. Writing tight makes a post more appealing to a reader, especially if its a topic that doesn't need many words to explain itself. If there is too much to read in one sitting, a reader can read halfway, plan to read the rest in the next day or two, and never return to the post. This destroys the purpose of your work and your writing can be easily forgotten. Be creative with what you are doing, but don't add millions of things that go on at once. It becomes too much for a reader to take and quickly exhausts their intuitive to read view the content.

"Omit unnecessary words" Bernstein exaggerates by putting the same sentence in the beginning and end of this section. This is possibly the most important part about writing tight to gather interested readers. Readers can and will notice redundant words and phrases and will become uninterested simply because the piece of writing is a bulk of unnecessary words.

4. Making good friends can help greatly the mission of what you are trying to write for the web. Making good friends means better networking options, easier forms of distribution and advertisement, etc. Making good friend means having to be a good friend. When your generosity is shown to a fellow writer of the web or just a reader, it is likely that their interest in your work will motivate them to help you on your expedition of exposure on your writing.

Bernstein explains multiple was of achieving this goal. Take good notice and acknowledge other writers' works, travel to meet people who may be interested in your writings and be generous to other writers or readers. finding different ways to make friends to help your mission is the same as making friends just to have a friend. There are many ways, specific and not as specific, to gain exposure through making friends.

5. Finding good enemies is like getting booed off a stage even though your performance was much more above average. In order to improve from the feedback of enemies, one must think of it as a motivation to do better the next time around. Create friends to create controversy for your work or what you are writing about and for.

As Bernstein said, "when its [disputes] over, try making good friends with good enemies. Let arguments and fights happen, only to learn why and how it happened. This can broaden your understand of what is being implied. He goes on about the process of having a successful debate and how you can keep yourself on top through planning of the debate's length and how you can end it at a certain period of time. Finding good enemies can engage other readers and make them more interested reflect more on the subject at hand.

6. Everyone wants to Let the story unfold. Everyone wants to see the story unfold. Keeping your readers in check of your content lets them know you want them coming back for more. Don't give them everything at once; it'll be too much to read. Don't give them everything because after all the excitement and intrigue for the content they were waiting for, they will easily lose interest. Let the suspense drag on, letting people wanting to come back to see the finale. It's what T.V. show directors do. And it works. If you're going to write a series of stories or chapters and post one every so often. give engaging detail and personalities, but don't go too far as to the length and the symbolism and metaphorical connections of your works. Being consistent and inconsistent of certain ideas and plots will create that "that's it? now I have to wait for next week's episode." rage that drives readers and viewers to attend the next event of exposure.

Bernstein puts three words in this section in bold font: foreshadowing, surprise and back story. Being able to use these ideas as an inspiration to wow your readers will make your readers more engaged and waiting for a boom or bam upon the climax of your work.

7. Stand up, speak out. Or in this case, sit down and write what you want. Say what you want, say what's important to you. Make it a point that people are listening to you through your writing by writing what's true and not something you can't detail or explain.

Bernstein focuses on the idea of putting yourself out their for other people to understand, not to judge. He talks about the best way to voice your opinion and not being whiny about it.

8. Being sexy is something many, if not all, people aspire to be nowadays. The media now always has something sexy to show its viewers and listeners. Some say sex is natural, so being sexy should be natural when that sexiness actually comes out. This concept can be made for writing as well. Having a sexy atmosphere can bring in an audience and tie them into what you are writing.

Bernstein explains that sexiness is indeed a natural part of life. He uses the example of "undressing" as a literal, figurative and emotional part of literature that binds people into your story.

9. Using your archive to spread out your work can be helpful, and other people might find it meaningful. Letting other people link to your digital works can mean more exposure.

In Bernstein's mind, keeping all the files or works used in your writing on the web should have a permalink (permanent [URL] link), that way people can link to your content and more people will have access to your works. He explains how using a permalink can help save the content from being unavailable on others' pages or lists.

10. Relax. Just relax. It's simple as that. Every person has their own way of relaxing. Just do it.

Bernstein says that taking things too seriously isn't good for the self, and especially not for your reputation as a writer for the web.

These points led by Bernstein are accurate as people are just people and this is how they work. By using these methods of writing, people become more intimate with your work and gradually enjoy it more. He uses many examples and similes/metaphors to help paint the picture on how this leads to successful reader subscription. I believe any writer that practices this list has vast potential to attract readers and to bring exposure to their writing.

"Why We Blog" and "Footprints"

People blog because they think it's fun. People blog because they think it's organizational. People blog because it helps them keep in check with themselves or with topics they are interested in. People blog because they think it's interesting, and others read blogs because they are interesting. There's no question as to why there were very distinct topics in Nardi and his colleagues' investigation. There is no major rule as to how a blog should be maintained that limits the amount of topics possible to post about. A blog can be considered as an open and personal or open and professional; open because blogs let others read what's in the blog, and personal or profession depending on the topic or topics and the intent of the writer. Some people like to read about other people's lives in attempts to find something interesting. Other's like to focus on the mainstream subjects of news, media and politics. This statement can be made based on the first two examples mentioned in Nardi's experiment: Evan posting about science education and health topics and Lara posting sentimental moments and looking back at her friendships made in her school's dorm. These however can sometimes end up simultaneously in a post or in the blog as a whole.

Nardi's (and colleagues) categorization of motivations are more specific. Some are much more inclined as personal and emotional and others more inclined to a more societal and serious tone. The specific motivation listed as "blog as commentary" can be considered both with talking about mass media topics, and others like it, while giving a "personal" input of how they feel or what they think on the subject.

Blogging can be a positive thing personally or as a community, but there is also the dark side of blogging. In some cases, more now than some few years ago, kids and teens are using the web as a more derogatory entertainment. As Richardson mentions in "Footprints" that kids at the age of 7 or 8 are playing online games while the teens are playing around with social media sites, its easy for these people to promote negative content through these items. Blogs are just the same. Blogging gives the blogger complete control within the kind of content he or she can post, unless a terms of service restricts them from doing certain things. The question is, how far can the terms of service keep kids and even the older ones from making their own content and posting it on the web. especially when it's derogatory?

Personally, blogging is like a process to keep you in check with a working routine. If someone does Youtube videos and start getting thousands and thousands of subscribers, that person would not want to lose the attention they are probably getting via his or her videos. It's like making a T.V. show like Lost or Big Bang Theory; you grab peoples' attention with your content, having them wanting more. Through this, it makes the author or poster want to attract more people to watch their video or read their works, thus making it a kind of weekly, biweekly or even a monthly routine to post new content.

Blogging helps people cognitively and creatively with the various ways a blog can be set up and how it can look, but in reality, many people don't care about it will look, just what they can put on it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Media Literacy

When people think of the word "literacy", it usually means something that is read or written. In Media Literacy, the word "literacy" is widespread to many different categories and genres. Unlike literacy's initially thought meaning, Media Literacy is a multi-informative function where a wide variety of methods are used to spread news and information that may interest an audience. When first going through the Media Literacy Tutorial, I realized that I knew what Media Literacy was, just the majority of the population, and myself, doesn't think of the term "Media Literacy". Literacy is a term so closely related to written and readable pieces that are more likely to be for academic purposes but also serve as a "reading for pleasure" or leisure.

As the Media Literacy Project stated, schools make use of students' skills that reflect upon the media. Who has felt better about being assigned a "project" rather than assigned an essay or paper? Very commonly, these projects that we end up with as a result are complete projections of Media Literacy. Having to find pictures that have to do with your topic, placing it onto poster board and presenting it in front of the class (which is most of the time) are forms of "broadcasting" or "narrowcasting" information. Personally, when doing a project that requires pictures, those pictures are found on the internet. The internet is perhaps the largest and easiest accessible source for media. The internet itself can be considered broadcasting or narrowcasting in a way; it serves to present information that other people who access the internet read or view. Both having a project on a board and having it presented are somewhat a form of advertisement. You are sending off information to an audience (perhaps a target audience based on the intensity and how advanced the information is and what topic is being presented).

In the Intermediate Concepts section of the MLP (Media Literacy Project), it is stated that media is most effective when it is presented in an emotional state. The tutorial explains that the two states in which information is given and processed through our thinking and analysis are "factual" and "emotional". Initially, because one of the two states is categorized as factual, the second state, emotional, usually covers the false or manipulative/manipulated information. Looking at media in this concept, I think that emotional media is more effective because the population is so hooked on media and entertainment, the television, news and such. In some instances, we can tell when some information is falsely being presented, otherwise, most of what we see or hear from the media is considered to be true until further proof of its falseness is presented.

Media is so strong that even though certain information is definitively and completely meant for factual presentation, it can become emotional and personal for some audiences such as specific race prejudice, gender specific messages or age group distinctions. Media is weak in that many details in the item's information can be skewed and some people still tend to believe these manipulations.

I think in some cases, if not all, blogs focus on media as explained in the tutorial and the Media Literacy Project. Such blogs take a topic that is (usually current) broadcast quickly or reaches a majority of the population's interests and depending on the way the author feels, he or she will react upon the details and information that they have gathered about that event. The way the author posts or reflects on issues and events that happen may end up influencing another person's views on the topic.

Subtexts can possibly be one of the most influential parts of media. Because people don't think exactly the same, each person can be affected by certain media differently than others, rendering these influences as good or bad depends on the person. This is interesting because media try to relate to the audience emotionally to advertise their product and improve the probability to sell the product. However, if for some reason a consumer is in anyway insulted or disagrees with the "positives" that the media is trying to present in a product, they may neglect the product instead of becoming interested in trying or having the product.

Both time-based media (television, news, movies, video games, etc.) and static media (newspaper, books, etc.) have their perks, but also have some negative aspects (or less efficient methods of presentation) when compared to each other. Certain categories within these two types of media are work better than others for target audiences. Think about this.

I think media is kind of like a drug. We are addicted to certain parts, if not all, of the media. Some of us play video games but don't really care about news, movies or T.V. dramas. Some of us love to surf the internet, but aren't interested in politics or video games. But ultimately, everyone has been effected by media, and as stated in MLP, we all create media.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Techno-Literacy Narrative Draft

When I was young, subconsciously, I thought art was just about pictures and drawing and colors. My parent's are deaf, and perhaps this influenced me on loving how things looked rather than what it meant. There wasn't much of a way for them to actually teach me English, and as I learned it elsewhere, reading wasn't really a practice of any kind in my household; we'd use Sign Language to communicate. I never showed interest in reading, and I probably never would have even if I knew how creative and well-thought the text was. I was more into creating my own "art", not reading someone else's work. I always focused on the design of the artwork and what it looked like. If it looked cool, I liked it. Though this kind of mindset hasn't left me, growing up in my young adolescent years has taught me about what art really is.

Writing is one of the most powerful instruments of communication. It explains truths,  manipulates lies, it can make someone deeply reflect on themselves and can affect a person both physically and mentally. When we write, in some ways more than others, is very expressive professionally, personally and emotionally. Some people use writing for personal benefits or for a societal and/or professional audience; it all depends on the writer's topic and audience. When I write, I do it initially for my personal benefits and in hopes to expand it to an audience. I always loved art and creating or editing things. I always thought of writing as an academic skill, but after becoming so stressed and mad on the inside all the time, I found my stress and anger management in writing. Writing now has more of a meaning to me than just "writing a paper".

My writing has evolved, and it has definitely been affected by technology, and most notably through media. After being introduced to Chinese music, writing became a leisure. Music, like writing, is a powerful form of communication. Music is not only about sounds and instruments (including the voice), but also with skills of writing. Lyrics are an important part to some musical pieces. I quickly became fond of Chinese music and gradually began to question the meanings behind some of the lyrics I was listening to. I read both the Chinese text and the English translations and eventually thought of writing my own. I moved from a general creative writing style into a more specific style. This is probably the biggest turning point for me as a writer.

Techno-Literacy Narrative Prompts

-I don't remember much about my first experiences with reading and books, let alone remember some of the first books that I've read. As I grew older, I looked at some comics such as Calvin and Hobbes and a Chinese comic series in which most things were understood by the pictures, as well as a few things like Richard Scary children's books. My parents didn't read to me or bother to tell me to read regularly; they are deaf. I personally thought it wasn't entertaining anyway. My parents presented more of an artistic personality, sometimes drawing random pictures, renovating the rooms of the house and other things that are crafted with hands. That, I thought was interesting. I guess the reason why I was caught into reading things like Calvin and Hobbes was because of the pictures or "art" represented on the piece of paper, rather than looking at a bunch of letters and words. The books I've owned when I was younger -and I rarely ever read when I was a kid- were mostly a collection of Calvin and Hobbes. As for other books I had since I was a kid, I don't even know where or when I got them.

-Considering that my parents are deaf and didn't have an efficient way of teaching English to me themselves, I wonder about who it was or were that taught me how to speak and write. As I reflect on myself today, I recall taking a "Structure and Origin" class for the English major. I was surprised to see how much trouble my classmates were having while, of course making a bunch of mistakes, the majority of the class's content seem like a review or refresher of what I've learned years ago. If I was to make a guess, it would seem that I would have done decent, at the least, at learning the English language when it was taught to me in my childhood. I never played with writing before I went to school. Writing back then really just seemed like a school thing to me. I wasn't prompted to write anything unless it was for some kind of schoolwork.

-I first started writing when I first had a huge breakaway from my family. I wasn't much of the letting-it-out person, so I coped with keeping it in. I learned a while later that it was easier on me by writing. That's when writing became an important factor in my life. At the age of 16 in my sophomore year of high school, I started writing poetry, initially to keep myself from staying angry or upset. But eventually, it became a hobby. I mean, I always had a thing for all things creative, but once I've learned the English language outside the school buildings, I played around with words, rhymes and metaphors. Now I always find myself noticing rhymes when they aren't intended by other people and try to avoid making rhymes in regular conversation due to the self-conscience level of writing as a hobby and being that person who has somewhat excelled at English (grammar, let's not get confused with the "English" we call reading for our courses in school) and writing. The "School versus home" concept did have an impact on my writing, but not in a thoroughly academic sense. In high school and down, we weren't really taught to write creatively, only critically. Why couldn't we learn, or should I say experiment with, both? As the high school continued to teach me "Language Arts" in school, I was learning true language arts at home or on my free time by experimenting with words and phrases, matching syllables and rhymes and the sort. Although we learned different methods of writing such as using metaphors, ethos and pathos, we would be forced to write on academic topics with these methods. This wasn't really how my writing developed. If I was to be honest, it was that drama that goes on every other second in high school. It was the emotion in that teenage part of a persons life where friends are right, family is wrong and relationships were better off not happening. I learned to deposit my emotion onto paper and using creative sentences and phrases to create pieces of works.

-We've always had a computer in our home. I used to think it was amazing when my father first had a laptop.  But I've been playing video games since I was very very young. Technology wasn't a sudden shift in my life; I've always dealt with it. From blowing cartridges for games that didn't work properly every time I turned on the game console to playing around with paint before Photoshop was created, I learned about technology without knowing what it was called. The major shift that I had was when I started to write. I became more aware of "technology" as I grew attached to placing emotions onto paper. In high school, technology was welcome (using computers to search articles for research papers and searching through library databases) and technology wasn't welcome (the use of cellphones and distracting items). Technology was basically an everyday thing to me. I used to enjoy being creative with fonts and sizes when typing, then changing the colors of the letters and the background. Early on, I wrote poetry with a keyboard, and, years into the future, I've become so accustomed to it that I don't really have a fair say in whether writing or typing is better. For the most part, technology had guided me through my writing years, so there's no reason really for me to give it two thumbs down.

-Regarding schools, I think most students don't become aware of how much we will end up reading in the future until we reach middle school. That's where all the "hard" word comes in. In elementary school, we definitely do read. We definitely do write. But sometimes, elementary school seemed like a sanctuary. It was a place to be with friends, doing all kinds of projects that seemed fun back then; we never really looked at it as "work". In middle school and onward, reading increased. Writing increased. Innocence decreased. We can definitely say that there are very mixed feelings about technology, the internet and the use of any of these things. We can definitely say that there are events in the world that have made people blame technology or personally hate it. This "innocence", just like the innocence we "lose" after "growing up", is the same. We don't do these handmade projects like we used to. We don't write on every since tests. We begin using programs allowed by the school for a computer science class and we begin using scantron sheets (dare I say "scan" and "tron" both make people think of technology in some way or form).

--Regarding friends, family and reflection on myself, I can say that these are the biggest factors of in my writing. Sure you learn how to write "properly" in school and end up writing a paper or two for almost every single class, but it seems so repetitive that the only difference is the books we "read" and the topics we write about. The style is ALWAYS the same. Five page paper. Five paragraphs. How about four lines? How about 4 stanza. Isn't that one of the basic forms of poetry? At least that's what I think. There are MANY forms of poetry and creative writing, but the only form of writing we learn is academic writing. This is where my friends helped me along my journey of writing. Being with friends, being with family, being without them, getting in fights, having awesome nights; This is what enhanced my writing ability, though my development of writing about different topics or of a different style hadn't start to bloom until years later in college.

-Personally, I feel as if digital technology doesn't have a major effect on my writing itself. The one thing I feel that this effects writing is that instead of writing on paper, we "type" words which is a faster but, unfortunately, lazier method. In terms of effectively accurately expressing what I want, I can use dictionaries and thesauri online to help me write when I'm looking for specific words or meanings.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Users Read on the Web by Nielsen

It is true that many people that read on the web "don't read". I am one of them. In my preference, I usually only look for the key topic that I am searching for just as Neilsen proposed by stating that people can scan the text  in an one idea per paragraph layout. As Neilsen said, as long as there is reliable credibility or some proof of accuracy within the topic, people will scan through the text to look for specific phrases or topic words that are of interest to them.
At first I scanned through this. As I scrolled along, I started catching longer groups of words and eventually read line through line. In this case, I thought the opening of the text was rather interesting. As for everyone, the more interesting a topic is, the more the person who is interested will read about it.
Reading online does not affected the way I read printed items. The biggest factor that affects the way I read online and print is the basis of its layout. If it is simple to find the exact topic or subtopic, it is inevitable that many people will skip over other parts of the text. In most cases, I will tend to look for two or three words that pertain to my greatest interest and move on from there. If not, I reread more closely to find relevant information.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Using Interrogative Reading Methods

Using interrogative reading skills can enhance a person's reading capabilities into being able to understand the text's message and linking it to a more personal (emotional) perspective and other text's (as well as other parts of the read text- if the text has separate sections). Reading without using interrogative methods make me feel as if I'm reading something off a paper that's probably better placed in the hands of someone who might actually be interested in the topic discussed. Especially when it is a topic that I have no interest in, I tend to have to read certain paragraphs, points or lines up to four or five times just to say it in the correct grammar in my mind. Don't get me wrong, I like English grammar and learning about its oddities and irregularities. Tediously however, these four to five times does not include the actual analytic reading that I would have to do to further my understanding of what is really being said in those excerpts.

By using interrogative methods, I can focus on what is being said as I am reading it. It may take longer intervals to move from one section or paragraph to another, but it saves me the time to read the same thing four or five times in a time span of ten seconds just to understand it.