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Week 15 and Finals Week: Wrapping Up the Online Advocacy Project

This is it, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the final website update of the semester! For the past 14 weeks, you have impressed me with your willingness to be pushed out of your comfort zones, your insight into our readings, and your enthusiasm for experimenting with digital media. This new class wasn’t perfect, and I will definitely make some changes to the syllabus based on our experiences, but I hope you feel a sense of accomplishment about what you’ve done this semester. You should be proud of your work; I know I am!

We don’t have much time left, so all of your attention for this class should be directed toward your Unit #4 project. Here’s how we’ll spend our time between now and our final:

  • On Monday, we won’t meet in our regular classroom, but the lab will be available for you to meet with your teams, so please feel free to use that time to make progress on Unit #4. I will hold team conferences with each team in my office (coming to the conference will count for Monday’s attendance), so please be ready to show me what your team has accomplished so far and discuss what you plan to do during the following week. If you have questions about anything related to Unit #4, this conference is the time to ask those questions and make sure you are on track for this project.
  • On Wednesday, we will hold a peer critique session. Each of you will work with several members of other teams to share ideas about the strategies you have used to promote your projects and get feedback about what you might change during the final days of this assignment. I will also introduce the individual memo of transmittal for Unit #4, which will be due at the beginning of our final exam.
  • On Monday, December 17, we will meet during our final exam (3:25–5:25 p.m.) to hear brief, informal presentations about your team projects. There are just a few simple guidelines for these presentations: each team should plan to speak for approximately 10 minutes, and every member of the team should take part in the presentation. Other than that, I encourage you to be creative and show us something that will inspire us. Before you come to the final, please make sure that your team has shared your Dropbox folder with me and that each member of your team has submitted his/her individual memo via Google Docs.

And that’s it! The first iteration of Writing and Digital Media will be done, and you will hold the distinction of being a pioneer and/or guinea pig, depending on your perspective. From my perspective, you will always be a group of intrepid explorers, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors, wherever they may take you!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 14: Open Source Culture, Creative Commons, and Remixing

Going into our day of team conferences on Wednesday, I was a little nervous about what types of projects you might propose. This assignment is totally new for me, and I wasn’t sure you would share my vision for what it means to “change the world” using the Internet. But after seven conferences, I was completely blown away by your ambition, your enthusiasm, and your focus on the hyperlocal. Simply put, you nailed it. Nicely done, everyone!

Now comes the fun part: implementing your plans. By this point, you should have finalized a name/title for your project and created the appropriate accounts/pages. During Week 14, your project should be in full swing, with regular updates to your social media accounts and frequent team check-ins. If you have any questions for me about what is (and isn’t) appropriate, or if you’d just like to get an outside opinion before you try something, stop by during my office hours (M 8-11, T 1-4) or send me an email.

During our class sessions, we will explore a few topics we have briefly discussed throughout the semester, and we will apply these ideas to your Unit #4 projects. Here’s how we’ll spend our time and what you need to do to prepare:

  • On Monday, we will discuss the open source movement, copyright, and Creative Commons licensing. To prepare for our discussion, please read two short articles in The Social Media Reader: “The People Formerly Known as the Audience,” by Jay Rosen (pp. 13–16), and “Open Source as Culture/Culture as Open Source,” by Siva Vaidhyanathan (pp. 24–31). In addition, please get familiar with the Creative Commons website, especially the “About” and “History” pages.
  • On Wednesday, we will talk aout remix culture. Before you come to class, please watch Kirby Ferguson’s TED talk, “Embrace the Remix” (9 minutes), then add a comment to this post that answers the following questions: In a world where media can be copied, modified, and redistributed without destroying the original, does it still make sense to grant copyright protection to artists, authors, musicians, etc.? If you think it does, how long should individual works be protected before they are released into the public domain? (Defend your answer! Engage your classmates in discussion!)

I’m looking forward to another great week of lively discussions, and I can’t wait to see how your Online Advocacy Projects are coming along!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 13: Online Advocacy and Team Conferences

I trust that this weekly update finds you taking a well-deserved break from the rigors of college life. Our peer critique exercise last Wednesday left most of you in good shape, so you shouldn’t have too much work to do to finish your instructional comic. That project is due before you come to class on Monday, so please review the guidelines for submitting your comic (and the evaluation criteria!) and follow them closely as you revise your comic.

With Unit #3 behind us, we will be ready to move forward with the online advocacy project, which will take us through the end of the semester. Here’s how we will get started:

  • On Monday, we will discuss what makes a web-based advocacy effort effective and examine several successful projects that might serve as models for you to follow as you develop your own project. Before you come to class, please read “Understanding Digital Civics,” by Ethan Zuckerman, and be prepared to answer the questions I posed in the “Evaluation Criteria” section of the Unit #4 guidelines. By the end of class, your team should settle on a single, specific idea for this project and begin drafting a plan of action for implementing that idea.
  • In place of our regular class session on Wednesday, I will meet with each team for 20 minutes to discuss your proposed topic for Unit #3 and refine your plan of action for this project. (I will distribute a sign-up sheet for these conferences in class on Monday; participating in the conference will count as your attendance for Wednesday.) Please come to the conference with a written plan for your project that all members of your team support. This plan should include a list of deliverables you intend to create, a description of each team member’s proposed contributions, and a refined list of evaluation criteria you would like me to use when I evaluate your project. (Please use the Plan of Action template to draft this document.) In addition, your team should find at least two “model projects” that you hope to emulate as you work on Unit #3. If all goes well, your team will leave this conference with an approved plan that you can set in motion.

As always, if you have any questions about these plans, please let me know. Otherwise, enjoy the last few days of your break and come back on Monday rested and ready to change the world!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 12: Humor, Internet Memes, and an Equally Hilarious Peer Critique Session

I hope our analysis of several educational/instructional comics has helped you think about your Unit #3 projects, and I hope you’ve been making good progress on your comics. At this point, you should have a solid idea of (1) what you want to teach or explain in your comic, and (2) how you plan to use the genre conventions of comics to accomplish that goal. This weekend is the time to finalize the written script for your comic and collect pictures, take screenshots, generate cartoon characters, etc., to illustrate your comic. (Don’t forget about the long list of helpful websites on the Resources page!) If you have questions about your comic or need help refining your ideas, please come see me during my office hours next week (M 8–11, T 1–4).

Here’s how we’ll spend our time next week:

  • On Monday, your Teaming Inventory results for Unit #4 are due at the beginning of class. (I will use these to form teams that I will announce on Wednesday, so this is your one shot to influence your team assignment.) In addition, please read two short articles in the Social Media Reader: “Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls,” by E. Gabriella Coleman (pp. 99–119), and “The Language of Internet Memes,” by Patrick Davidson (pp. 120–34). When you’re done, add a comment to this post that links to your favorite internet meme. If you aren’t familiar with memes, you might want to start looking at Know Your Meme, MemeCenter, or Greg Rutter’s “Definitive List of the 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced on the Internet Unless You’re a Loser or Old or Something.” Oh, and just in case this wasn’t obvious: out of respect for your classmates, please keep it clean.
  • On Wednesday, we will conduct a peer critique session for Unit #3. Please come to class with a complete draft (i.e., 3–4 pages, all panels filled) of your instructional comic in PDF format. When our peer critique session is done, I will introduce Unit #4 and give you a few minutes to brainstorm ideas for that project with your new teammates.

If you have any questions about these plans, just let me know. Otherwise, I’ll look forward to a lively discussion in class on Monday!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 11: The Genre of Comics and a Comic Life Workshop

I’m glad we took a slight detour in class yesterday to discuss how social media is affecting the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As usual, your comments gave me a lot to think about, and I hope you’ll keep tracking some of those Sandy-related resources over the next couple of weeks. (They might even serve as helpful examples in your Unit #3 projects.)

Next week, we will take a break from our standard reading assignments to focus on instructional comics. If you haven’t already installed Comic Life on your laptop, you should do so this weekend. (You can find links to Comic Life and other helpful items on the Resources page.) When we meet again in class, here’s how we’ll spend our time:

  • On Monday, we will discuss the genre of comics and familiarize ourselves with the conventions of the genre. Before you come to class, please read the following items:
    • Chapter 4 of Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud (print this one out and bring it to class)
    • Comic Book Grammar and Tradition,” by Nate Piekos (don’t worry about printing this one out — just make sure you know the concepts)
    • The Google Chrome online comic (again, you don’t need to print this one out)

      When you have completed these readings, add a comment to this post that answers the following question: What can comics do that purely written texts cannot? After our reading discussion, we will spend the remainder of class in a brainstorming workshop for Unit #3, so please come to class with several ideas related to your assigned topic.

  • Our entire class period on Wednesday will be dedicated to a Comic Life workshop, so I encourage you to bring your laptop to class. (You can also use Comic Life on the lab computers, but it will be helpful to have all of your resources for Unit #3 in one place.) Your homework is to outline your comic, determine how many characters you will need, and think about how you can develop a compelling story to illustrate your topic. In class, we will begin moving those ideas into Comic Life. If you would like to get a jump start on your project, you should create a new file in Comic Life and begin adding text and images to it. [Update: Here are the comics we will be analyzing in class: (1) Bound by Law?, (2) Misunderstanding Markup, (3) The Influencing Machine, and (4) The Google Chrome online comic.]

If you have any questions about what you should be doing to make progress on Unit #3, please let me know. I’m happy to meet with anyone who wants to discuss their topic during my office hours on Monday morning or Tuesday afternoon.

Posted in Weekly Updates

Hurricane Sandy Links

Here are a few starting points for exploring how social media and collective intelligence are influencing an event happening right now:

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weeks 9 and 10: Oral Presentations and Finishing Net Smart

I think our intense focus on peer review during Week 8 is going to pay off when you submit the final drafts of your Unit #2 projects; I hope you feel the same way. Next week, we will enjoy your mini “Ignite” presentations, then you’ll have a well-deserved break while I attend a professional conference.

Since I’ll be traveling for most of next week, I’m taking this opportunity to share our plans for the coming two weeks. You’ll be completing some of this work while I’m gone, but if you have any questions, I will be available by email. Here’s a quick overview of the next two weeks:

  • On Monday (10/22), your finished Google Site for Unit #2 is due before you come to class. In addition, your PowerPoint file for Unit #2 should be submitted no later than Sunday night. Please review the evaluation criteria and the assignment details for Unit #2 before you submit your project. In order to fit all of the presentations into a single class period, we will try to start a few minutes early, so if you can get to class by 10:50 or so, that would be great. (If not, just sneak in the back door to the lab.) Here is the presentation order we will follow on Monday: Dylan, Alex, Katie, Augusta, Marcus, Ashley, Brooks, Kyle, Sarah, Liana, George, Ethan, Joshua, Erin, Jonathan, Molly, Astleigh, Eric, Chelsea, Eli.
  • On Wednesday (10/24), I will be gone, so we will not meet as a class. However, the reading assignments for the following two days of class are substantial, so I would encourage you to get a jump on the readings for Week 10.
  • On Monday (10/29), we will discuss Chapter 4 in Net Smart (pp. 147–89) and “What Is Collaboration Anyway?” in The Social Media Reader (pp. 53–67). Before you go to sleep on Sunday (10/28), please leave a comment on this post pointing to something from the reading assignments that you want to discuss in class. After our discussion, I will introduce Unit #3.
  • On Wednesday (10/31), we will finish Net Smart, so please read pages 191–253 before you come to class. If time allows, we will spend part of class completing a hands-on workshop for Unit #3. Update: Remember to bring your ranked list of four topics for Unit #3.

And that will take us through the end of October. If you have any questions about these plans, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 8: Peer Critique Extravaganza!

Our plans for next week are incredibly simple, but incredibly important: help you finish both deliverables for Unit #2. In order to do that, we will spend most of our class time conducting peer critique sessions. I know these activities can be awkward and frustrating, but trust me when I say that students who take peer critique seriously are students who do better on their final drafts. I cannot stress this next point strongly enough: Resist the urge to take one of your “freebie” absences or to show up with a half-finished draft on Monday or Wednesday. Whatever you need to do to complete your drafts, do it. Trust me: it will be worth it.

I have cleared the syllabus and modified the Unit #2 due date to give you ample time to put the finishing touches on your project. Here’s how we’ll help you get there in class next week:

  • On Monday we will conduct a peer-critique workshop focused on your essays in Google Sites. You should come to class with a finished website, which means no “coming soon” sections and no empty placeholders for images. Your site should be live on the web and viewable even by those who aren’t logged in to Google. In addition to your peers reviewing your site, I will check your site for completeness, so if you haven’t emailed me the URL for your Google Site yet, please do so before you come to class on Monday. (If you sent me your URL last week, you don’t need to send it again.)
  • On Wednesday you will rehearse your oral presentation with a few of your classmates. Again, this means that you should come to class with a finished PowerPoint file (using the template on the Unit 2 page) and a solid script for your presentation.

And that’s it — your only work for this class during the coming week is to make your Unit #2 project sparkle and shine. If there’s anything I can do to help you accomplish that goal, please come see me during office hours (M 8–11, T 1–4). Otherwise, happy writing, designing, and revising!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 7: Thinking Multimodally with Google Sites and Pecha Kucha

Now that we have collectively critiqued Twitter and several word-processing applications, your attention should be squarely on your assigned application for Unit #2. At this point, your preliminary draft should be complete (or nearly complete), and you should be thinking about how you will focus and refine your essay during the coming week. Although we will be in workshop mode for part of each class during Week 7, much of your work on this project will need to happen independently, so please pay close attention to the schedule and don’t let yourself fall behind on these checkpoint assignments.

Here’s a quick overview of these checkpoints for next week:

  • On Monday, we will consider the concept of “multimodality” as it applies to our Unit #2 projects, focusing on the differences between printed essays and web-based essays. Then we will spend the remainder of class in a Google Sites workshop. Before you come to class, please complete the following tasks:
    1. Read pages 1–54 in Understanding and Composing Multimodal Projects (the thin blue textbook by Dànielle Nicole DeVoss).
    2. Leave a comment on this post that addresses the following question: Are schools (K–12) and universities adequately preparing students to communicate multimodally? Provide examples that support your stance and/or offer suggestions about what schools should be doing differently.
    3. Create a rough draft of your Unit #2 essay in Google Sites, including both text and images. Send the URL for your site to email hidden; JavaScript is required and be ready to share your draft with your classmates when we meet.
  • On Wednesday, we will think about how to translate your essays into oral presentations and consider the affordances and constraints of each format. Before you come to class, watch a few Pecha Kucha presentations and tweet a link to your favorite one using the #engl3984 hashtag. There are lots of places to find these presentations (just search for “Pecha Kucha”), but two sites in particular have great collections: PechaKucha Night and Ignite. [Update: Here is the PowerPoint template we will use for Unit #2.]

As always, if you have any questions, send me an email or stop by during my office hours. (Top-secret hint: students who come to see me before they submit their projects almost always perform better.)

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 6: Writing about Technology

I hope our Twitter critique activity on Wednesday helped you think about how you can analyze your assigned application for Unit #2. Next week, we’ll take a brief break from our readings in Net Smart to focus on writing about technology. Even though the readings for Week 6 are all online, please read them deeply (and remember that a couple of them are quite long and will take some time to complete).

Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class:

If you have any questions about these plans, or if you want to discuss your Unit #2 project, please feel free to stop by my office (427 Shanks Hall) during office hours (Monday 8–11, Tuesday 1–4). Otherwise, happy interface interrogating!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 5: Participatory Culture; Interrogating Twitter

With Unit #1 behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to Unit #2 and the process of using technology to write about … well, technology. Here’s how we’ll get started:

  • On Monday, we will discuss participatory culture on the web. Please read Chapter 3 (pages 111–45) in Net Smart no later than Sunday night, then add a comment to this post with a specific passage you’d like to discuss in class. (Bonus points for extending or refuting one of your classmate’s comments!) Don’t forget that Sunday night is also the deadline for emailing me with your list of preferences for the Unit #2 project. I will do my best to make sure that everyone gets one of their top-four choices, and I’ll announce everyone’s specific assignments in class on Monday.
  • On Wednesday, we will spend the day “interrogating” Twitter’s official interfaces and several third-party Twitter applications. Before you come to class, you should install one of Twitter’s official applications on your laptop, your tablet, or your phone, then install at least one third-party application on one of these devices. (There are lots of ways to find third-party applications. You can start with Wikipedia’s list, or you can search for “Best Twitter application for [insert your platform]” to find recommendations from other Twitter users.) This should probably go without saying, but just in case, you should come to class with whatever device (laptop, tablet, or phone) you used to install these Twitter applications. [Update: Here is the Google Doc we will use to compile our critiques.]

If you have questions about these plans, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 4: Peer Critique, Wrapping Up the Digital Literacy Narrative, and Crap Detection 101

We’re in the home stretch for Unit #1, so your digital literacy narratives should be nearly complete by now. Between now and next Monday, when we will critique one another’s narratives, you should complete the following tasks:

  • Go to the InnovationSpace in 1140 Torgerson Hall to record the final version of your narration. If you plan to combine music or sound effects with your narration, you can get help with this at the InnovationSpace. You should leave with an audio file that is ready to be added to your video.
  • Rehearse your PowerPoint presentation while listening to your final audio file in order to get the timings for each slide correct.
  • Add some type of title slide at the beginning and some type of “Credits” or “Works Cited” slide at the end.
  • When you are confident that your slides are timed correctly, export your PowerPoint file as a movie. (Instructions for Windows; instructions for Mac.)

(Those of you who are using a different software program for this project may follow different steps, but the outcome should be the same: an exported movie that will play on our lab computers.)

In order to accommodate our peer critique activity, we will swap our discussion and workshop days next week. Here’s how our class sessions will proceed:

  • Monday’s entire class will be devoted to a peer review workshop. In order to participate in this workshop, you must come to class with a finished, playable video containing your complete literacy narrative. If you arrive with a half-finished PowerPoint file and a rough audio track, I will ask you to leave and mark you as absent for the day. I don’t enjoy being a stickler, but in order for this peer critique session to go well, everyone needs to be on equal footing. Showing up unprepared is disrespectful to your peers who have put in the work to finish their projects. If you need help exporting your video, you can come to my office hours on Monday morning (8–11 a.m. in 427 Shanks Hall), but postponing your work on this project until a few hours before class starts is a very risky strategy. (P.S. — Don’t forget to bring your headphones to class!)
  • On Wednesday, your Unit #1 projects are due before you arrive in class. (This means I should receive a Dropbox notification email from each of you no later than 11:00 a.m.) To submit your project, please follow the instructions on the assignment sheet. In class, I will introduce the Unit #2 project, then we will discuss Howard Rheingold’s concept of “crap detection.” Before you come to class, please read Chapter 2 (pages 77–109) in Net Smart and explore the Hypothes.is website. (Be sure to watch the introductory video on the “What Is It?” page.) Sometime before Tuesday night, leave a comment on this post containing a passage from the Net Smart reading that you want to discuss in class.

As always, if you have any questions about our plans for next week, drop me a line via email or Twitter.

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 3: Do I Have Your Attention?

In class this week I shared some tips for using Twitter, but if Twitter hasn’t “clicked” for you yet, I recommend reviewing the following sites:

We’ll check in on our Twitter adventures on Monday, so here’s a mini assignment to complete this weekend: follow at least five new people who regularly tweet on a particular topic. For instance, if you want to use Twitter to keep up with campus news and events, follow a few of the accounts on the university’s list. Or use a hashtag search to find out who is regularly tweeting about your favorite sport, television show, band, etc. And remember, when you tweet about something related to our class, be sure to use the class hashtag: #engl3984

Next week, our class discussions will focus on the digital literacy of “attention” and our workshop sessions will help you polish your digital literacy narratives. Here are a few more details for each day:

  • Before you come to class on Monday, please read pages 35–75 in Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart, and Nicholas Carr’s Atlantic article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Following the pattern we established last week, leave a comment on this post that contains a passage from one of these texts that you want to discuss in class on Monday. (Leave your comment no later than Sunday night, and if it’s relevant, connect your comment to one of your classmate’s comments.) You other assignment for Monday is to record a rough audio file of your digital literacy narrative and to collect the images you plan to use to illustrate your narrative. You don’t need to arrange the images in PowerPoint yet — just save them to a single folder, keeping track of your sources as you go. You’ll find links to public domain and Creative Commons images on the Resources page. Try to find images that are at least 1280 pixels wide — we’ll talk about why resolution matters in class on Monday.
  • On Wednesday, we will spend most of class in workshop mode, so you should have a complete draft of your digital literacy narrative before you come to class. (“Complete” means that all of your images are arranged in your PowerPoint file and your revised narrative has been recorded.) [Update: Remember to bring your headphones, too!] We will also discuss one short article, “Gin, Television, and Social Surplus,” by Clay Shirky (pages 236–41 in The Social Media Reader), so be sure to read it and bring your SMR to class.

If you have questions about these plans, or if you need help with your literacy narrative, please come see me during office hours (Monday 8–11 and Tuesday 1–4) or send me an email. (Big hint: it’s much less painful to have me look at your draft during office hours than to be surprised by my evaluation of your project after you turn it in.)

Posted in Weekly Updates

Week 2: Literacy Narratives and PowerPoint Experiments

I think we got off to a great start during our first two class sessions, and I hope we can maintain the same level of participation and interaction throughout the semester. Next week, we’ll make sure that everyone in class is up to speed with our reading assignments, then we’ll dive into our first project, the Digital Literacy Narrative. Here’s a breakdown of how we’ll spend our time in class and what you need to do before we meet:

  • On Monday, we will discuss the reading assignments that some of you weren’t able to complete this week. If you haven’t received your copy of Net Smart yet, please download, print out, and read this PDF of the Introduction (pp. 1–33) before you come to class. If you haven’t received your copy of The Social Media Reader, please contact one of your classmates (our class hashtag on Twitter would be perfect for this) and borrow the book so you can read danah boyd’s “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle” (pp. 71–76) before you come to class. When you have finished the readings, add a comment to this post proposing a quote or argument from one of the readings that you would like to discuss in class. (Please add your post no later than Sunday night so I can see them all before class.) Last but not least, come to class ready to share a rough draft (not a complete essay, but more than a few sentences) of your Digital Literacy Narrative with your classmates. If you have multiple ideas for this project, that’s great — you can sketch out two or three ideas to share in class.
  • On Wednesday, we will begin thinking about how to turn a written essay into a narrated video slide show. By the time you come to class, you should have a complete draft of your literacy narrative that incorporates the feedback you received in class on Monday. In addition, please read the following short articles about PowerPoint:

Finally, consider this one last reminder to sign up for Twitter, create a Dropbox account, and add a comment to last week’s post if you haven’t done so already.

If you have any questions about our plans for next week, please stop by my office hours on Monday morning (8-11 a.m. in 427 Shanks Hall), send me an email, or contact me on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Welcome to Writing and Digital Media!

Welcome to ENGL 3984: Writing and Digital Media. This website will function as the online headquarters for our class this semester. Each week, I will post an update to the website with details about coming week, deadline reminders, links to helpful resources, etc… I plan to use Virginia Tech’s Scholar site to record your grades, but otherwise, everything related to this course will be posted here.

A bit about me: This is my first semester at Virginia Tech, and I couldn’t be happier to be here. My research focuses on how people use rhetoric in online environments, and all of the classes I teach have something to do with technology. I love experimenting with new digital tools, and it blows my mind to think about what we can do with technology that we couldn’t do 20 (or 10, or even 5) years ago. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love to cook, read, and spend time with my wife, a brilliant freelance writer, and our two daughters.

After I gather your input in class on Tuesday, I will finalize the syllabus and add it to the website before our next class. In the meantime, please complete the following tasks before you come to class on Thursday:

  • Read pages 1–33 in Net Smart.
  • Read “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle,” by danah boyd (SMR, pp. 71–76).
  • Create a Twitter account, if you don’t have one already. (We’ll talk about using Twitter in the coming weeks, but for now, you just need to create an account, add a photo, and customize your profile.)
  • Create a Dropbox account, if you don’t have one already. (Again, we’ll talk about how to use Dropbox effectively as the semester progresses.)

Finally, a quick note about this website. Throughout the semester, we’ll be holding class discussions on this website. To help you get comfortable with that process, please add a comment to this post that introduces yourself, links to your Twitter profile, and answers the following questions: Approximately how much time do you spend online each week? What types of activities do you typically do when you’re online (email, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc.)? Are you happy with the way you spend your time online, or is there something you would like to change (quantity, quality) about your online activities?

Before you post, a couple of warnings: (1) Your classmates will see what you write, so don’t include anything intended just for me. (2) This website is public, so we will stick to using first names only. Also, please be sure to use the same email address every time you post to the class website. Once I “approve” your first comment on the site, you will be able to post comments for the rest of the semester without waiting for me to approve them.

Posted in Weekly Updates
Where am I?
This is the class website for English 3984: Writing and Digital Media, taught by Quinn Warnick at Virginia Tech in fall 2012.
Worthwhile Reading
The links below are the most recent additions to my collection of bookmarks that are relevant to this course. You can find a complete list of ENGL 3984 bookmarks on Pinboard.

  • Buffy vs Edward Remix Unfairly Removed by Lionsgate
    A long, carefully documented saga about fair use. Great case study.
  • The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy
    Nice guide from Lifehacker: "First, we'll walk through the basic privacy settings that determine what you share, then look at a few lesser-known settings you'll want to tweak, and finish with a few third-party tools that will help keep your Facebook information private."
  • The enduring mystery of Roberto Clemente's bat
    Great writing by Kevin Guilfoile, but also a beautiful example of multimedia storytelling.
  • tapestry: a new way to write
    John Borthwick explains what tapestry is and collects some examples of great tap essays: "When we started developing tapestry it struck us that there weren’t many native reading experiences on the iPhone or iPad. Our goal is to build such a tool. A space to slow things down and let you create or experience, short, tappable stories in a simple, clean, distraction free reading environment."
  • All You Need Is (Facebook) Love: ‘Compliments’ Accounts Go Viral at Colleges and Universities
    Time magazine reports on an encouraging trend: college students setting up Facebook pages to collect compliments for/from their fellow students.
  • Demand a Plan
    Online effort to improve gun control, started in response to the Newtown school shooting.
  • Causes.com
    "Causes is a free online platform that provides easy-to-use tools for driving change. We help passionate people share ideas, find supporters, raise money, and make an impact."
  • What Ancient Greek Rhetoric Might Teach Us About New Civics
    Ethan Zuckerman: "If we want to prepare people to be effective citizens, we need to think about teaching this new civics as well as older forms of civic participation. Citizens need to do more than watch or read about the issues and then vote. They need to know how to report, to advocate, to coordinate, to propose and test solutions."
  • SPOT Survey - Fall 2012
    Students: If you haven't completed the SPOT evaluation for this course, please do so during class on Wednesday. I take this feedback very seriously, and I use it to revise my classes each semester, so please be specific about the aspects of the course (and my teaching) that you found successful and unsuccessful.
  • Popcorn Maker
    New web-based app from Mozilla: "Popcorn Maker makes it easy to enhance, remix and share web video. Use your web browser to combine video and audio with content from the rest of the web — from text, links and maps to pictures and live feeds."
  • The People's Bailout
    David Rees explains how the Rolling Jubilee works: "OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)"
  • Understanding Digital Civics
    Ethan Zuckerman: "I’m beginning to think that certain types of civic participation are simply organic to the internet. Once we have the ability to create and share our own information, we create and spread media to promote the causes we care about and raise money to support the causes we value."
  • Google Docs Stories Builder
    Fun little tool to create text-based stories in which various characters interact within a Google Doc. (Sound confusing? Yeah, you kind of have to see it in action.)
  • Twitter Is A Truth Machine
    John Herrman: "Twitter is a fact-processing machine on a grand scale, propagating then destroying rumors at a neck-snapping pace. To dwell on the obnoxiousness of the noise is to miss the result: That we end up with more facts, sooner, with less ambiguity."
  • The Fallacy of Digital Natives
    Amen to this: "Sure, there may be a larger percentage of Millennials that tap into technology first compared to their elders, but oversimplifying the division of generations to suggest one prefers an all-technology learning style whilst the others use it when necessary is preposterous. Learning and technology has nothing to do with generational divides."
  • Click and Drag
    An amazing, endless xkcd comic.
  • Nice piece in Transom explaining Cowbird
    Annie Correal: "Our goal is to build a public library of human experience, so the knowledge and wisdom we accumulate as individuals may live on as part of the commons."
  • Being Online Has Become So Common That Some People No Longer Identify It As Being Online
    Techdirt, quoting a study by Forrester Research: "Our analysis revealed that 'being online' is becoming a fluid concept. Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to 'using the Internet.' In fact, given the various types of connected devices that US consumers own, many people are connected and logged on (automatically) at all times. The Internet has become such a normal part of their lives that consumers don’t register that they are using the Internet when they’re on Facebook, for example. It’s only when they are actively doing a specific task, like search, that they consider this to be time that they’re spending online."
  • Reddit's balance of power: community values are tested as a troll is unmasked
    Links to all of The Verge's coverage of the Violentacrez debacle.