Without a doubt, the learning outcome of the class that best applied to me was rhetorical composition; I made a deliberate effort to loosen my serious tone throughout the semester. In High School, I practiced almost nothing but rhetorical analysis and argumentation in my essays, two skills that are absolutely crucial to develop in order to assert authority and professionalism in your writing. Without some emotion or authenticity, however, some of the meaning can be lost. In rhetorical situations that require human connection, such as relating an opinion or an experience, my writing tended to come off as robotic and cold. I firmly believe that finding a balance between analytical and emotional and being able to adapt that to different rhetorical situations is what writing effectively is about. I may need to write analytically to explain a regression model or the outcomes of a survey, but I may need to strike a fine balance between analytical and emotional for an application to an internship or job.
I first tackled this objective through my Technology Literacy Narrative. When I first wrote it, I tried venturing away from my normal tone, but I found that some parts of the essay just sounded bizarre. I’ve repeatedly reviewed it and have consistently found new areas in which I could’ve improved it. In the section where I talk about discovering GameSpot, for instance, I realized that I could employ some imagery or descriptive language to make that experience more relatable.
I think that the main reason I’m able to create this sort of analysis is because I’ve been directed to reflecting on everything I’ve done, from podcasts to data visualizations to photoshop creations. Creating a habit of self-correcting and pinpointing areas of improvement absolutely helps you become a more effective writer, and I would argue that it’s one of the most important steps in the process.
Another tactic that I found useful was trying to keep an audience in mind while writing in order to maintain a sense of direction. In “Running”, I thought I had done a decent job of articulating my thoughts and and was mostly satisfied with the finished product, but in later posts, like “Pulp Fiction”, “I will carry out great Vengeance”, and “DK”, I focused progressively more on writing what was on my mind as though I were talking directly to a friend and found that it helped relax my tone a tad.
The reflections felt like a relatively safe place to experiment with tone because the grading criteria was based on content and the only people who were reading these posts were my classmates and my professor. This more relaxed platform gave me the liberty to write what was on my mind while maintaining a standard, which was perfect for experimenting with tone and establishing a personable but dignified Digital Identity.
For future projects, I plan to take my audience into consideration more deliberately to keep my writing more focused. Since audience plays a role in establishing the rhetorical situation, I think that keeping potential readers in mind can help establish the correct tone.
I’m also going to emphasize the review step of the writing process since I think that I’m capable of better quality work and believe that applying what revisions was what my work needed. I drafted and edited reflection posts on the spot, but in hindsight I should’ve written a draft and reviewed it at another time before posting it. I typically review larger works, like the Technology Literacy Narrative thoroughly, but I think that giving a gap between finishing a draft and revising it can help make revisions more effective.
As a whole, Media Nouveau as a podcast series felt pretty cohesive. I only skimmed through a couple of the podcasts, but I felt like the integrity of the podcast series was maintained throughout. The structure of the episodes varied from group to group: in some I could tell the producers were reading a script, but I could also tell that they had put a lot of thought into what they had to say; in others the producers spoke without a script and had to come up with some of their content on the spot; in others still I heard some people use the interview format to helped facilitate their thoughts. I think that this variety underscored the fact that this podcast series was the result of a diverse groups of students contributing to a project in their own ways, so having a rigid format probably would have limited most of the groups in this regard.
My group tried both the scripted and interview formats. For our first two episodes, we wrote a script together in order to avoid having to worry about mistakes or extensive editing. The scripts were well-written in my opinion and certainly helped us get our point across effectively, but I felt that we sacrificed a little bit of authenticity when we followed this route.
When I was the producer of an episode, I tried mixing in talking without a script and interviewing Olivia, but there I felt we ran into the opposite problem: not making a cohesive enough argument. It would’ve helped to flesh out the points I wanted to cover and have more questions to ask Olivia. Regardless of its flaws, however, it was good enough for a one-take and gave me the chance to spontaneously assert a point.
Content-wise, connecting both Casey Neistat and Philip Defranco to the content we covered in class was actually kind of fun. Neistat and Defranco are both YouTubers who are making a major impact on the platform, so seeing how everything from the timing of their starts to the audiences they targeted made for thoughtful podcast episodes. Because of my prior knowledge of both YouTubers, researching and condensing were my favorite parts of making the podcasts. We both looked at how other writers from Nerdwriter to the LA times had broken down these two YouTube giants, and we were able to create a cohesive argument from this information. Critical thinking and reading applied to the podcasts the most out of anything I did in this class, potentially barring the Equality of Opportunity project.
The Equality of Opportunity Project was the only project I worked on that really left me unsatisfied. I tend to value structure, so the fact that the formatting and content across pages was inconsistent bothered me a little, but the individual components of the finished product were very solid given the lack of structure and time. I think that what I could’ve done better was establish either a question to answer or an end goal with measurable benchmarks for the “Unsung Heroes” group before jumping in and searching for data and talk to the other groups on the first day. In spite of this, we all collaborated on Facebook once Megan had posted her personal narrative by letting each other know what we were working on so the next person could build upon that. Amidst chaos, we were able to collaborate to create something that was easy to follow and insightful to read.