New Media Writing: The Semester Portfolio

As a student part of this semester’s New Media Writing, at first I expected that I would be taught some form of journalism writing or creating a blog, etc. but there have been several aspects to this course that I have never been introduced to before or even considered. Some of the ideas that were introduced to us as a class, more towards the beginning of the semester seemed to be quite straightforward; discussing the significance of writing online and maintaining a website. However, as more of the assignments revealed, there was a learning curve to be discovered.

 

A clear principal when it comes to media and writing online is that many online writers/bloggers not only strive to publish original pieces but commit to creating an identity, which can usually be accomplished by exploring various creative avenues as we have done so through many of our sketch assignments. This philosophy of one’s virtual presence is analogous to a key learning outcome of digital citizenship/identity that we discussed in class and I believe our very first sketch assignment to create our own Avatar was meant to establish our identity not only for the course but for the creative processes that we were to explore through the semester.

 

There seems to be a sort of a rising niche market on the web which caters to an artistic crowd when it comes to incorporating any form of media. This philosophy of artistic expression was required for almost every sketch whether it was stitching photos or generating one by engineering a video. Throughout this reflection portfolio, I’ll be outlining certain pertinent sketches that exemplifies my outlook on the creative process that I had developed and executed. When it came to the work that I had created through the semester, it can be said that a great majority of it required me to create/build an image and interpret it in a way that I’ve never thought to. For example, the movie montage sketch of American Psycho was quite a striking assignment as it allowed us to think about the entire nature of the film just by creating one single image. While simply watching the movie, there are innumerous thematic instances that I notice but was never quite able to qualitatively describe it in one simple depiction as I had with the montage. On the other hand, creating the Humument was one of few assignments that required us to physically illustrate a sketch, specifically a page of a novel by outlining particular words and phrases to deliver a meaningful message across. Although my artwork is limited, it allowed a sort of deeper introspection in a commonplace instance. Creating these sketches followed by coherently describing these thoughts through writing brings together another key learning outcome that is: writing as a process. Although quite apparent, it is important to understand that describing the thought process while designing these sketches is just as important as creating them.

American Psycho montage
pg. 109 from Ragged Dick

One of the first reflective pieces that we individually worked on was the Literacy Narrative which emphasized the significance of web literacy and our understanding of it. It prompted me to think about my first interactions with technology and the internet and how that progressed and became a highly prominent part of my life like many others. There are aspects of the literacy narrative that reinforced the critical thinking and reflective aspect of the assignments in this course. Contemplating and formulating one’s learning from past experiences can be a difficult task but it highlights the importance of realizing this process of learning and development through the years of exposure to technology. Consequently, we are also constantly evaluating our classmates’ work as well which gives each of us and one another a new perspective to appreciate. These lessons embody two more vital learning components: Critical Thinking and Collaboration.

 

Other major projects that underscored these collaborative efforts were Media Nouveau, the Podcast Series, and the Equality of Opportunity Project. Media Nouveau was a weekly podcast series that allowed each group to investigate aspects of new media by taking instances from daily prominent media culture. Our group analyzed and investigated the influence of Snapchat, Betches.com, a lifestyle website and the Verge, a tech-centered news platform. Creating these podcasts were comparable to writing essays as each member of the group had contributed to the planning and execution, yet there were other factors that differentiated this task from solely writing. Podcast recording is an active form of describing and synthesizing information to deliver a clear message to the audience. There is usually a degree of background noise and redundancy in an essay which might skew the intended message or dilute it, however podcasts, I believe, manage to keep the ideas concise. Specifically, I had been the executive producer for the installment that unfolded The Verge. At first, I had wanted to look at the luxury lifestyle catalog known as Uncrate, however there was limited information on their background and what the company really stands for. Hence, our group then settled on the Verge a tech-news effort that was established in 2011 by Vox Media company. After addressing multiple points of evaluation like the extent of spreadibility and features of narrowcasting, etc, I had more so realized that these assignments not only catered a creative but also an explorative aspect.

Podcast graphic logo

The Equality of Opportunity project was another substantial collaborative project that required the class to quantitatively analyze and interpret the data in terms of college mobility rates, college characteristics, demographics, and other multiple factors that measure the ability of a college graduate to attain a career with an income greater than or equal to that of the generation prior. After multiple analyses conducted by the entire class in directed groups it was exhibited that there was systematically a very marginal mobility rate in the national population. My group was responsible for accounting for tracking growth in the Southeast region and the verdict remained the same. Education is a privatized commodity today which seems to favor the applicants that are able to afford it than ones who cannot. In order to observe real socio-economic growth there should be a fundamental shift in the access to education. Tackling and acknowledging these issues by creating a website is powerful enough to start movements across campuses. Although the class had only spent two weeks or so, the message imparted was clear. Personally, using media and technology to create and spread awareness is an effort well spent.

EOO sample visualization of mobility rate data

As a final thought, I’d emphasize that it is ever so crucial to be able to embrace technology by being able to amend your own knowledge of the subject. As a Biology and Chemistry major, many of the assignments and sketches were outside my realm of comprehension and my involvement resulted in an experience that I hope to continue to work on and explore through the years to come.