Warning: This is an archived course website that is part of my teaching portfolio, so some links may no longer work. Please contact me with any questions about this site.

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
19 comments on “Welcome to Writing and Digital Media!
  1. Jonathan says:

    Hello world! My name is Jonathan, I’m a junior in Professional Writing. I hope to go onto graduate school and eventually teach at a college level.

    Here is a link to my Twitter: https://twitter.com/WandertheMtns

    (1)I spend too much time online each day, around 2 or 3 hours during the school year, less in the summer when I have a full-time job. (2) When I’m online, I generally check email, browse Facebook and Tumblr, and read articles in The New Yorker, Huffington Post, Wired magazine, and many other news sites. I also use Youtube a fair amount, but not daily.
    (3) I think I should probably spend less time online and more time reading printed words, but I don’t really see that happening because so much of what I do revolves around replying to emails and reading a lot from online sources. I really have no problem with my online habits, aside from that I do think I spend a bit too much time on my computer.

    • Hi everyone,

      My name is Chelsea and I am currently a senior Communication major at Virginia Tech. I am also working toward and English minor and Marketing cognate. I expect to graduate this December.

      I currently work for the Collegiate Times as the web editor and I am also a Marketing Associate for the VT Marketing Department.

      This summer I worked for Nike in Beaverton,Oregon so I got a taste of the west coast. I absolutely loved it and hope to go back there. Nike is actually moving 70% of their budget to focus on digital, so I think this course is going to play a key role in aiding my digital literacy. I have somewhat of a digital background, but I hope to expand upon the knowledge of the applications I already use and learn new ones as well. Sounds like it’s going to be a fun semester!

  2. Victoria says:

    Hi guys–

    My name’s Victoria, my Twitter is @victoriazigadlo, and I think an easier question for me to answer is how much time I DON’T spend online each week. Both of my jobs and my major require a lot of online time, and then I usually go online to read and relax after work. So I’m basically constantly on the internet, unless I’m sleeping or it’s the weekend. Or, you know, my internet’s broken.

    That being said, most of my time is spent on work-related sites, reading articles and doing research, with social media/email always open in the background or on my phone.

    The time I spend online for myself is actually very similar. I read a lot of blogs and articles, usually those I find on social media sites like Twitter and Tumblr. And then I write and blog on my personal sites to relax. Also Netflix is sprinkled heavily throughout. Not sure if that counts as online or TV time, but either way it’s there.

  3. Liana says:

    Hello! My name is Liana. I am a senior graduating in December (scary!). I am a double major in English (professional writing) and Spanish. You can find me on Twitter @lianabayne_, which I use for a plethora of things including my internship at the Roanoke Times newspaper. Eventually, I want to work in print journalism as a reporter. I’m comfortable writing about almost anything other than sports at this point.

    I feel like I’m online almost constantly. The first thing I do in the morning is check my three email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, three or four different newspapers, and about half a dozen different blogs. When I am at work I am constantly online doing research and sending email, and even when I am going between classes on campus or having lunch I check my email on my phone. This summer I was working 40-hour work weeks at the Free Lance-Star newspaper so I was online for probably more than 10 hours per day. This semester I’ll be working between two and four hours per day because of classes, so I guesstimate maybe a total of six to eight hours online per day (on a computer, not counting between-classes emailing on my phone). I even use an online alarm clock.

    I already covered the second question a little. But I am definitely a news brain so I’m constantly looking at Twitter. My go-to newspapers in the morning (front pages of their sites) are my previous internship’s paper and my current internship’s paper and the Washington Post. My major social networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. I also like reading young professional blogs that talk about women’s fashion but also other issues for young women — I like the blogs at the Levo League’s site and I also read The College Prepster and Capitol Hill Style religiously. I read and send a lot of email. I also use Skype and yes, I still use AOL Instant Messenger, to chat with friends (because Facebook chat isn’t always the most reliable). I use things like YouTube and Wikipedia, etc, as needed. I love Gmail, Google docs, Google maps, looking things up on Google, etc. I’m trying to work on my own WordPress site to showcase my writing work (still very much in progress). I use the internet to download magazines and books to my Nook Tablet.

    I feel like I could be online less, but I don’t think the amount I spend on is necessarily bad. Mainly it bothers me that if my phone dies or if for some reason I can’t check my email for long periods of time, it makes me very anxious. It seems bad that I feel so tied down to the internet, so I guess if I could change something I would make my email and social networks not take precedence over other things.

  4. Marcus says:

    I’m Marcus. I’m a senior CW writing major. My Twitter page is this >>> http://www.twitter.com/Snarkus666.

    I spend about an hour online per day for recreational purposes. School work and stuff obviously takes more time. I check the electronic mail, FB when I have it, and tumblr to infinity. I also like reading about music on pitchfork(p4k). Dis Magazine is pretty cool too. I’m fine with the amount of time I spend online. I just wonder if we can understand our cyborg nature as a culture. It would be interesting to see a more self aware approach to the deeper effects of cyborganization.

  5. Jess says:

    Hey hey! I’m Jess, and here’s my Twitter:
    I spend a couple of hours on the computer every day. So….a lot per week. I’m on Facebook quiiiiite often, and I also frequent YouTube, Reddit, and my email accounts. I have a fundraiser called Beads for Bellies, which I manage online.
    I have a blog, http://www.indigestibly.com, so that takes up a good amount of my time. I should really focus on updating it more frequently!

  6. Sarah says:

    Hi there! My name is Sarah and I am a senior, Professional Writing major NOT ready to leave beautiful Virginia Tech. Follow me @sarahebrown13 (my account for the course).

    Activities I enjoy online hmmm…well EVERYTHING to be honest! I pretty much find myself engrossed with the Internet whether it’s through social media, reading online articles, or job searching and getting an idea of how companies represent themselves. I use to enjoy Facebook, but deactivated my account finding Twitter to be MUCH more productive and a great networking tool. Youtube is saved as a bookmark on my laptop, not for just music purposes, but also for teaching/tutorial videos on different design software’s.

    I’m pretty satisfied with the amount of time I spend online quantity wise, but quality is another story. Let’s be honest everyone here as at least “that one professor” during college who just reads off of PowerPoint’s leading to students playing bubble-shooter or Facebook chatting. It’s pretty hard not to be online, especially since 99.9% of students have Smartphone’s in their pockets and purses.

  7. Dylan Amick says:

    Hey Gang,

    I am Dylan, I am a last semester senior studying Theater Arts with a focus in Lighting and Projection Technology. Basically I’m a behind the scenes kind of guy.

    Here is the link to my twitter:

    I would say I spend approximately 10 hours a week online for recreational purposes, and something like 6 more hours for school work. I check my email about every ten minutes, and I have all my social updates like twitter and Facebook sent to my phone. I also spend my time reviewing tech websites like stagecraft.com, backstagejobs.com, and looking at funny pictures on reddit. I basically live in a non-stop party…

    I don’t feel bad about the time I spend online, or how I spend-in our current age even socialization has gone digital. In a perfect world I would spend more time on the internet learning and bettering myself rather than socializing, but I do feel there is nothing wrong with using the internet as a form of entertainment.

    Looking forward to the class with you guys!

  8. Katie says:

    Hello, I’m Katie, and I am a senior Professional Writing major graduating in December – hopefully. I actually transfered to pro-writing from animal science, so I am a 5 year senior, rather than the traditional 4 year students. I am a life-time animal lover, and have two cats, a dog, and two horses at the moment. I have ridden and competed horses for 17 years, and have my own horse training business and small scale Thoroughbred horse rescue. I work at the Inn at Virginia Tech as a part time server/hostess, and love my job – which I would think is mostly unusual for a part time gig.

    My twitter is as follows: https://twitter.com/MagicEventer

    I would say that I spend a few hours online every day, aside from homework and other types of work related ventures. I do not keep track of exactly how much time I spend on the internet, but I am very connected, through both my phone and my computer, so that I generally will get on to check things several times in an hour, but only for a minute or two at most. My most consistant activities generally consist of checking social networking or communication sites, such as Facebook and my Gmail account. I generally enjoy Facebook because I like to post pictures and make plans with friends. Email keeps me connected to my parents, and teachers generally, as well as horse people from my business. I also enjoy perusing Craigslist for business opportunities and to keep tabs on the horse market. I have no complaints about the way I spend my time online.

  9. Kyle says:

    Hi, I’m Kyle. I’m a senior Professional Writing major graduating in December. I grew up in Richmond, but I’m not quite sure where I want to end up.

    I spend an insane amount of time on reddit.com. Do not go to reddit.com, Whatever you do.

  10. Erin says:

    Hello, I’m Erin. I am a senior English (professional writing) major. I occasionally tweet @erinvt. One of the main reasons I love Twitter is because of the amount of information that I can get quickly. Usually the first thing I do in the morning is check my Twitter feed. I can see weather updates, local news, national news, and entertainment without visiting a bunch of different blogs.

    I am also very attached to my smart phone, I am constantly checking my email.

    I’ve found that over the few months I have started using the internet more productively than I have in the past. Instead of spending all my time on Facebook or Youtube, I am using the internet more to research grad schools and jobs in my free time.

  11. Eli says:

    My name is Eli and I am a Professional Writing major. I spend about two hours a week on YouTube. Sometimes I feel like I could be spending more time on schoolwork, so if need be, I devote all my time to the important things before I go on leisure time.
    My Twitter account is: https://twitter.com/EliHeilker
    I look forward to using Twitter, which I have never used before, along with Facebook and Dropbox.

  12. Augusta says:

    Hey everyone,
    I’m a senior majoring in English with a concentration in Professional Writing. I am taking 18 credits this semester while also studying for the GREs and applying to grad schools! Recently I have not spent much leisure time online. Instead, I’ve been researching master’s programs at different schools. I still check Facebook once a day but usually not for longer than five minutes. I check my email constantly throughout the day and find that most of my time online is, unfortunately, consumed by Scholar. I am satisfied with the amount of time that I spend online. I spend very little leisure time on the internet and instead use it primarily for educational purposes.

  13. Alex says:

    Hello everyone!

    I’m Alex and I’m from The Dark Side–Charlottesville. But I made the right decision and came to Tech! I’m a junior English major on a Professional Writing track and Business Leadership and Psychology minors. I want to go to Boston for grad school…if I can afford it. And eventually I want to be a book editor or publisher.

    You can find my Twitter at https://twitter.com/arae_ofsun. This is my personal account…I tweet fairly often, but not excessively.

    I would say I spend about 10 hours online per week, depending on the amount of schoolwork I have to do. I find my laptop time decreasing since I got a smart phone. It’s so much lighter and more accessible. Like a lot of my classmates, I’m constantly in touch with my email (school and personal accounts), Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Kindle all connected directly to my phone.

    Most of the websites I previously mentioned are my most frequented sites. I am starting a small obsession with Craig’s List…I just want a Jeep Wrangler really badly, so I stalk the car classifieds. Pinterest is awesome, but I use it more for practical purposes–if that’s at all believable. If I’m specifically looking for an idea for a gift, recipe, or DIY project then I will search it, but the pinning gets pretty redundant after a while. I am on Facebook fairly often, again, mostly on my phone, although I am definitely on the downhill slope with my use…too many advertisements and spam! I love Tumblr…I tend to use that more during the school year when I’m procrastinating. I am also thinking of creating a new one that I feel comfortable putting on professional resumes if a personal website is requested, as that time is quickly approaching!

    I use social networking a lot less during the summer because I work full time. I think I use the internet more when I have more free time. That being said, I am fine with my amount of internet use!

  14. Ethan says:

    Hello everyone,

    My name is Ethan, and I’m a 5th year professional writing major. I spend a decent amount of time online each week, mostly on youtube and 600rr.net, a motorcycle forum. I also like online magazine sites like surfermag.com. I’m pretty happy with the way I spend my time online, I don’t think I would change much.
    You can find me on twitter @bordshorts2work.

  15. George says:

    Hello class I’m George. I’m a senior Communication, multimedia journalism major with a minor in English PW. My twitter account for the course is @GeorgeTillerson To be completely honest, I probably spend around 100 hours a week online. It’s bad, really bad. A developing problem for sure. Half of the problem is since I do have an IPhone, I’m always on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, etc. Everywhere I go these apps are right at my fingertips so it’s difficult to not be on them. I also am the Director of PR & Social Media for Aurora Events so I’m constantly online updating the website, tweeting, etc. all day, everyday. I will say I am happy with the way I spend my time online. In this day and age, it’s tough to not always be online. I consider myself a very sociable person, and I’m a pretty popular guy so socially I feel as though it’s essential for me to always know what’s going on. On the other hand, I have to be all over social media for my job, so the professional aspect forces me to be online all the time as well. I do a good job at juggling the two.

  16. Molly says:

    Hi guys!

    I’m Molly. I am a senior majoring in Marketing Management and minoring in Professional writing. You can find me on twitter @mollz_w .

    It’s hard to pinpoint how much time I spend online daily since many of my classes revolve around using the internet – sometimes more than I’d like. Aside from schoolwork, I will check Facebook a few times a day, Twitter every other day and Pintrest a couple times a week ( let’s not forget how easy it is to get sucked into Pintrest for hours :) ). Other than those sites, I regularly check email and try to stay updated on the latest news and a online.

    I try to limit my time online, I’d much rather be outside doing something active, yet I still spend a lot of time on the web, probably more than I should. As long as my online time isn’t interfering with my schoolwork and other priorities, I’m fairly okay with the time I spend online vs not online.

  17. Astleigh says:

    Hello again! I am Astleigh, a fifth year with a-double major in English: Professional Writing & Psychology and a minor in Leadership & Social Change. I will be graduating in December, and because I am from this area, am super excited to get out of town and venture elsewhere, at least for awhile. Follow me on twitter @amrhobbs …. I am new to this so bare with me.

    My time online is spent on a mixture of things; most of things might just happen to be for fun. A specific amount of time is unknown, but I would guess quantitatively it’s a lot. Granted there is a chunk of time dedicated to email and other academic sites. My enjoyable time on the internet is mostly spent on Pinterest and the corresponding websites that I am led to. Yes, it’s a guilty pleasure and yes I may spend too much time on it. I frequent Facebook and now Twitter (so curious about how it works!). Other than that, I don’t use a lot of other sites. I feel a little naive about everything there is out there on the world wide web. I’d love to explore more and know what’s out there. And while I’m at it, I would like to spend some of that internet time working on a blog, but that will come in due time and when I figure out a topic worthy of blogging about.

    Overall, my time on the internet really varies. Whether it is on my smartphone or on my laptop I am generally always connected. And if there is no purpose for my internet browsing, I am on there due to boredom or procrastination. I am happy to say, though, that being online, no matter the amount of time, doesn’t interfere with what’s going on around me.

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.