User:JVbird/NMAC 5108 Journal

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March 5, 2019: Writing and Teaching with Wikipedia[edit]

I've long followed my school's "orders" to steer students away from Wikipedia, even though I love going to it for information, whether it's to find out how many Grand Slam tournaments Rafael Nadal has won (17!) or to quickly find out more about some new author I am reading. I know most English classes tell students that they should never use Wikipedia because it is "unreliable" but the more I read in this week's tour of the site, the more I recognize the power and potential of this site. I can see, for example, how encouraging students to investigate the reliability of information on Wikipedia could help them understand that no category of source type (academic journal, .edu site, or online article) is necessarily automatically "bad" or "good" and that they need to be more engaged with and questioning of whatever they are reading and integrating into their writing anyway.

I also want to investigate further the potential for using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in my writing classes. We've worked really hard to turn our first term writing class away from the traditional 5 paragraph formal essay, focusing on helping students see that writing is situational and that tone, voice, level of formality, and the information we include in what we write are all determined by audience and purpose. We now include a blog post assignment to build our students' awareness of audience, purpose, and main point, for example. It also serves as a bridge to the more formal and academic writing they also complete in the course, a bridge between what they are more familiar and comfortable with doing and what is more foreign and challenging for them to do. When I read Instructor Basics: How to Use Wikipedia as a Teaching Tool, I was really excited at the potential for building an undergraduate writing class using the resources that Wikipedia offers. It seems to me that it might help build student confidence in themselves as writers if they see themselves actively engaged with a large group of writers/editors who see the importance of sharing knowledge, being honest, and collaborating together. It has the potential to show them that writing matters, that it is powerful, and that they have something to contribute. I also think that if an undergraduate course includes some of the writing and exercises that the Instructor Basics information refers to, that students will, through contributing to the articles on Wikipedia's site, strengthen their ability to write objectively, cite information consistently, and at the same time help them learn some skills with digital platforms that they may need (no, will need) to survive and thrive in their professional careers.

JVbird

I can't help but agree with your sentiments here — especially those about writing instruction. I have long thought now that while the essay form is still valuable, we are doing our students a disservice by not expanding our notions of writing to more adequately address the literacy demands of the digital age. Welcome to the course. I look forward to working with you this semester. —Grlucas (talk) 12:20, 6 March 2019 (UTC)

@grlucas What do you think about using the Wikipedia Teaching Tool in a first term writing course, though? I keep wondering if it might make a good module but I also worry that first term writing students may face too high a learning curve, if they're trying to learn how to write and respond to others on Wikipedia while at the same time learning the basics of writing and research. JVbird (talk) 20:48, 7 March 2019 (UTC)

I agree with your assertions regarding students becoming actively engaged in an environment which promotes inclusion and collaboration. I had to overcome some trepidation in writing my first journal post but now realize how in keeping a journal, developing my writing skills on a digital platform will strengthen my ability to write objectively. The format of this course dictates active participation and provides students with the tools necessary to collaborate and share information in an honest, unbiased manner. Dillbug (talk) 20:22, 7 March 2019 (UTC)


March 10: My Best Writing Experience[edit]

Chapter 1, Chapter Activity 1


Audience: Classmates and professor, possibly talent scouts searching for the next best screenplay Abstract: This article defines how this is the writer's best experience with writing an adapted screenplay for the upcoming movie, The Thousand Autumns of Jakub de Zoet. It also examines the writer's upcoming retirement and move to Iceland. Keywords: Adapted screenplay, David Mitchell novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jakub de Zoet, and Iceland Tweet: Local teacher sets record for screenplay contract, retires to Iceland

So, my best writing experience is one that hasn't happened yet. About 2 years ago, I was telling a friend of mine how David Mitchell's novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jakub de Zoet is a masterpiece that she should read. She was working on a play about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald at the time, and she needed a distraction, a break from it all, so I told her she had to check out the Mitchell novel. Just like me, she had lived in Japan for a while a couple of decades ago, and we both bonded over costume dramas a long time ago, so it seemed like a perfect fit for her. The Thousand Autumns of Jakub de Zoet is set in late 18th and early 19th Century Japan, and it's an amazing novel with themes as divergent as midwifery, feudal Japanese cultural, naval warfare, mercury as a cure for various venereal diseases, and reincarnation.

I gave her one warning, though. Do not, I said, steal my ideas for a screenplay. See, I have read this book at least 10 times and I can envision it being a 5 part BBC program starring Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson. I told her all about how I'd start in the middle with this one very small but I think significant scene that I think can set up the whole movie perfectly, then move back to the miraculous first episode of the novel. I've created a vision board for this screenplay. But the reason it's my best piece of writing is that it's still perfect, in my head. I haven't put it down on the page yet, because I know if or when I do, it won't be what I want it to be. Heck, I've never written a screenplay, and truth be told, I'm not sure this is some blockbuster movie story line.

Were I to write it and were it to somehow be bought up by some production company with money to burn, and suddenly it's the best thing around and I win a BAFTA on top of everything else, I would, though, take those millions I would suddenly have in my bank account, invest them quite wisely, and then announce my (somewhat) early retirement. I would buy a house out in the countryside in Iceland. I would live in a small farmhouse and raise sheep, something from a landscape painting from one of my favorite artists, Louisa Matthíasdóttir. I would learn Icelandic.

Course, right now, since I haven't written this screenplay, if I had to say what my best writing experience is was, in truth, it would be a paper I wrote on Reynolds Price an American poet and novelist I met once, briefly, at a book signing. I love his novels The Source of Light and The Promise of Rest best of all (they're the last two books in a trilogy beginning with The Surface of Earth) and so I submitted a proposal to the Popular Culture conference a few years ago and when they accepted, I reread those novels, let my ideas percolate for a couple of months and then suddenly realized that the presentation (a 12 hour drive away up in Ohio) was in a week. I had all my research already done, and I knew in my mind what I wanted to argue, but like a lot of folks, I procrastinated. Really procrastinated. But once I sat down to write, it really came fairly easy, and it was actually a nicely organized, strongly argued piece of criticism. I got really good feedback on it at the conference and some suggestions for publication.

In case you're wondering, no, I haven't followed through. Not yet. Unlike a best selling, adapted screenplay, though, I know there's no potential for making lots of retirement money off some academic publication, but that's not my reason for not following through. The mood just hasn't hit me yet and I am otherwise occupied with job, family, dogs, chickens and bees.

But maybe I'll still somehow retire to Iceland. Maybe. JVbird

JVbird (talk) 23:13, 10 March 2019 (UTC)

@JVbird: Love it! You are a great writer and after reading this entry I am dying to read the opener to your screenplay. Do it and do share! And Iceland, huh, sounds cold though when I went to Climate of Iceland wiki link, it is not as bad as I had envisioned. Sure would be nice to see the Northern Lights! (Dmcgonagill (talk) 00:07, 17 March 2019 (UTC))
@Dmcgonagill: One night in Iceland, I was walking back to the hotel after a late dinner. I looked up to see the Northern lights. They seemed to be reaching down to grab me, so beautiful, so other worldly. It wasn't cold when I was there, but I don't think I would dare visit in January! You can get such good deals on plane tickets to Iceland. I highly recommend. JVbird (talk) 13:23, 17 March 2019 (UTC) talk

March 9, 2019: Writer's Block[edit]

I was planning on creating an infographic for this journal post (Chapter 2, Activity 3), but I seem to be having trouble manipulating the spreadsheet cells on Infogram.com. I can't quite seem to get my demographic information input correctly. While I was taking a break from the mess I was working on with the infographic (there's something about a template that does not love me), I remembered a statement from Chapter 1 of our Writing & Editing for Digital Media textbook that I wanted to respond to. Carroll writes that "writer's block does not exist. It is a fiction, a fabrication, a myth, a crutch, and an excuse" (21). I do get Carroll's point here, which is that we can write, if we see it as "a job, so we have to go to work" (21) but I've worked with too many freshmen students, mostly adult learners, whose struggle with writer's block seems real, to agree with Carroll's conclusion. Many adult learners lack a lot of self-confidence when it comes to writing, especially formal academic writing with sources. They feel they have nothing to say, or they just don't know where to begin. They stare at the computer screen and get frustrated and just quit. I wonder if admitting that writer's block is real, acknowledging that writers suffer from it, and letting writers that there are ways of getting past it (whether it's getting away from the computer and going old school and writing in a notebook, or watching 30 minutes of bad TV, or trying a brainstorming activity) might be closer to the truth and more helpful.

I often struggle with writing, and sometimes I have to spend days working through what I want to write, in my head. Sleeping on it, letting my subconscious brain work through problems, sometimes works, and I will find myself waking up at 3 in the morning having one of those A-ha! moments, thankfully. Writer's block seems real to me, though. Now if I can just figure out how to get past Infographic Block! JVbird (talk) 23:07, 9 March 2019 (UTC)


March 13: Reviewing Wiki entry, Norris Church Mailer[edit]

I honestly didn't know anything at all about Norris Church Mailer (and I know very little about Normal Mailer himself) before reading the Norris Church Mailer entry on Wikipedia. The entry did give me a brief overview of who she was and it seems to be a generally well written entry. It is objective, reports facts without taking a position or making recommendations or arguing her value as a writer. It includes citations for most of the information, although the information on when she married N. Mailer is not cited for some reason. I see most of my classmates have already noted that the sources cited, though, may not be the strongest.

It has a clear entry header and organizes information using subheaders with clear titles that let me know what each section is about (First Novel and Memoir; Personal Life...). The order of these bits of information (headers) wasn't quite clear to me, though. I thought it odd that the information on Norris Church Mailer's "personal life" before marrying Normal Mailer came after the section on Normal Mailer. There's also missing information in some sections. For example, the section titled First Novel and Memoir begins with a mention of "After her divorce.." without any clear reference to what divorce that refers to, or necessarily why that is relevant, that it happened after her divorce. The section titled Life with Norman Mailer seems incomplete. I left that section wanting to know more, things like whether Mailer influenced her writing, whether she wrote during her marriage to him, since after all the bio begins by identifying her as a novelist. Speaking of, we get little information about the novels themselves. What were they about? How were they critically received? That sort of information might be valuable to anyone wanting to know more about NCM beyond the few basic biographical facts given.

The page might be stronger if it included a picture and a brief thumbnail biography on the right hand side of the screen as well. I did check a few of the links and they are working. The talk page indicates that it is a low priority subject for a few wiki projects including WikiProject Women's History.

JVbird ~~~~ JVbird (talk)

I found similar issues when reading about Mrs. Mailer's entries on Wikipedia. In addition to organization, I thought any entries should be backed with credible sources and not information posted cited from a website or a newspaper article. After reading your post, I may have misunderstood the assignment as I made recommendations based on editing Wikipedia requirements and offered suggestions for improving the introduction. I focused solely on enhancing the introduction for this journal post. I completed writing my second journal post, but for some reason, am again, having difficulty with the editor allowing me to paste the information. I will overcome! Dillbug (talk) 00:18, 15 March 2019 (UTC)Dillbug
@JVbird and Dillbug: I agree with you both. Both of you pointed me to something I had not mentioned. Source credibility was one and order of sections was the other. They did seem out of order, but I assumed the focus was on her relationship to Norman Mailer so that is why not much attention was paid to the man before. Thanks for the insight y'all! (Dmcgonagill (talk) 00:28, 17 March 2019 (UTC))
@@JVbird: I also found those similar issues. I believe that if more brainstorming and planning were put into the layout structure of this entry it would fill the gaps of missing content and produce a better sequential order. However, the entry information has left me curious about her and her memoir.Ssimsjones (talk) 04:52, 17 March 2019 (UTC) ::::{{ reply to| JVbird }} Josef, you are spot on that NCM's entry would benefit from a photograph and more insight to her memoir (and the literary, artistic circles they ran amongst). I've just searched and only Windchill Summer is available at my county library. Dekalb doesn't have any copies of her memoir. The limited entry seems to suggest that NCM's talents took a backseat to her husband's accomplishments. Perhaps more contributions would offer a balanced perspective to Church Mailer's life before and after her involvement with NM. ~~~~ Mango Masala == March 15: New Editor-in-Chief == Activity 3 in Chapter 4 of Writing & Editing for Digital Media asks us to evaluate a website we visit regularly and make specific recommendations for improving the presentation of content on the site. To be honest, most websites these days are fairly well done. Gone are the days when websites were hard to navigate and poorly designed and visually appealing. Heck, in one of our classes in the fall term, we used Wordpress to create a website. The templates available in the free version make it pretty hard for even a novice like me to not design a good site, with some work and revision of the early draft version. I like most of the sites I go to, from Huffpost to Washington Post, to Queerty, to Foodgawker, Amateur Gourmet and dozens of other cooking blogs. I did imagine taking over [https://www.vanityfair.com/ Vanity Fairy] though, because while I still like the site, it has changed over the last few months. The magazine itself got a total makeover a few months ago when a new editor took over. I know they're going for a hip, young, fresh feel both on their website and the print version of the magazine, and maybe my response is to the fact that I was used to the prior version of the site. I do like the organization of articles, though, into the 3 categories (HIVE, HWD, and VANITIES). If you hover over the category, you can easily identify the focus of the categories and the content to be found in each section. It is kind of odd, though, that the site gives equal relevance to news items as they do with their material on TV and movies, but that has everything to do with their push to gain a younger audience and to no doubt compete with other sites. Advertisement has increased on the website itself, with huge ads showing up over the site Logo and it feels more crowded, with feature articles competing with the home page logo, Vanity Fair. Visual rhythm seems to be a bit frenetic, or at least a bit fast, again perhaps owing to the editor's focus on wanting to give the appearance of being hip and young. I wouldn't recommend a total revamp, just perhaps a trimming down of the site. It doesn't have to be so cramped and crowded. I will say that the site is strong in consistency in the various categories, both in color and font or typography (Carroll 109). I do think that since the site consists mostly of articles by various writers, it's challenging to have a consistent voice, but I think that the consistency in voice might be something to work on to strengthen the site. I think because the new editors are working to hit so many different groups of viewers (sorry, interactors), the tone or voice is a bit muddled. There's no doubt that the site has a more liberal bent than some other sites, though, something I would keep working on to control the structure, focus, and look of the site. [[User:JVbird|JVbird]] ([[User talk:JVbird|talk]]) 19:15, 15 March 2019 (UTC) JVbird [[User talk:JVbird|talk]] <nowiki>@waebo: JVbird you are absolutely right most website have been using a standard template that is easily to create. This new method of creating website allows everyone to start their own business or area online , but there is a down fall to this. When a task is hard at first the people performing this hard task are value must higher than when the task is no longer harder the person is not value as much. For example, a web designer before was a great job but then someone create templates that anyone can used and as a result web designer are very limited now. -- ~~~~ Waebo(talk) 17 march 2019

Getting Copyright Permission[edit]

I feel like I'm working at a detective Agency right now. No luck so far getting anyone to return my emails or calls about getting copyright permission for Andrew Gordon's article, The Modern Dream-Vision: Freud’s Interpretations of Dreams and Mailer’s An American Dream. This article was published in 1977 by the journal, Literature and Psychology.

So far, this is what I've done:
1. Googled and found his CV online and the University of Florida In Memoriam page.
2. Emailed University of Florida, Department Chair Dr. Dobrin
3. left a message with the English department secretary.
4. Tried going to the publishers of the journal itself, at Rhode Island College. Emailed the English Department Chair, Dr. Scott.
5. I also tried Gordon’s home number, retrieved from his CV, but the mailbox is marked full.

I’m still trying to locate Gordon’s son and hope to hear from UF soon. Tried going to the publishers of the journal itself, at Rhode Island College. Emailed the English Department Chair, Dr. Scott. I can't for the life of me find an obituary, though; If I could find an obit, I could possible locate his son and get permission that way. Anyone good at locating obituaries? JVbird (talk) 19:55, 16 March 2019 (UTC) JVbird

@JVbird: Is he dead? Have you tried his linkedin: Andrew Gordon LinkedIn?(Dmcgonagill (talk) 00:20, 17 March 2019 (UTC))
@Dmcgonagill: Hi Dana, he is dead, yup. I know how to pick em! But a lot of the essays are probably by now dead authors, so I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I'll keep trying. Thanks for the tip. I never go to linkedin.com for some reason, so I didn't think of it at all. JVbird (talk) 13:19, 17 March 2019 (UTC)talk