A look back on my semester in ENRDG 221RW
This website is a home for the content I created in Professor David Morgen’s, New Media Writing Class in the fall of 2021 at Emory University. Throughout this website, you will find both personal and collaborative projects consisting of narrative work, a podcast, a game, various creative sketch projects, blog posts, and reflections. Personally, this website serves as an archive to my growth as a content creator and writer.
This was unlike any other writing class I’ve ever taken in my academic career. This class is unique, and places emphasis on not only being able to write, but being able to present different genres of information and translate it across multiple modes of media in an engaging and well structured manner in order to captivate a broader audience. In fact, one of the key components of this class was to reimagine the way that we write which contrasts the traditional, 5 paragraph essay common to academia. However, as a student who had grown accustomed to this formative style of writing, these concepts were all very new to me and something that was a struggle for me initially. Opportunities to really think outside the box and take risks as a stem major are minimized and sometimes even discouraged for the appeal of simplicity, conciseness, and reliability. Thus, a personal gratitude I have towards this course is that it gives students like me an opportunity to express ourselves in a classroom where creativity is encouraged and failure isn’t an end all be all. Therefore, through this class, I have not only gained many new skills which helped me develop as a writer, but have been given one more chance to express myself creatively in space where it actually matters.
While writing has been something I generally enjoyed in the past, it was never something I was particularly proficient in. Over the years, I’d begun to tailor my writing style to what I’d been taught in schools which usually was to satisfy list of content, grammatical, and page requirements. Because aspects relating to writing style weren’t emphasized, the most quick efficient way to complete an essay meant the writing could be very dry, formal, and straight to the point and still make do well as long as it meets the other guidelines. In this aspect, I was really just writing for the grade, and not writing to create an engaging piece of work. As this class is a major contrast to what I’ve taken in the past, I initially struggled to step away from formal writing, and had to find a way to add more life to my writing without overdoing it.
My personal inspiration for writing or anything creative starts with a cup of tea. Cupping a little mug in my hands and feeling its warmth as the sweet aroma rises and swirls around me puts my mind in a space for expressing myself through my work. Not only that, tea has caffeine and other qualities that keeps my active yet calm. Thus, it’s my go to beverage for almost any occasion. As I walk you through my work, you’ll likely discover that I am a bit of a tea weeb.
In some ways, I feel like I can relate my process of making tea to my process of thinking in terms of creating a piece of writing. I used this mechanism to work through our assignments consisting of: the literacy narratives, the podcast, a game, sketch assignments, reflections, and lastly this website.
The first major writing assignment we had was the technology literacy narrative draft. In this first assignment, we were to construct a piece pertaining to our relationship with technology and reading/writing/communication. While trying too hard avoid being too formal and add more personality, I actually overlooked writing a well structured thesis. As a consequence, I had a very chronologic approach to explaining how technology served as a medium to express myself creatively as opposed to following the ABT theory we learned in class. ABT or and, but, therefore is a writing technique developed by Randy Olsen used for writing a more compelling thesis. My and and and format was bland and needed a tighter thesis. Reading over my draft now, it honestly makes me cRinge. Though, I’m pretty sure I’ll feel that way about the second one too. I suppose it’s just a normal, awkward consequence of reading your own writing when you realize what you could improve.
Going in Depth on My 2nd Literacy Narrative
My second literacy narrative I titled “I was in toxic relationship, but we’re good now.” Clickbait is what attracts views and other insights, so I figured I would give the title a trick name as an experiment. Why was I in a toxic relationship you ask? Click here to find out.
Did it work?
This updated narrative details how despite the dichotomy of emotions I have for technology, I appreciate and recognize that its enhanced the way I create, communicate, and advanced my passions to the next level.
The writing process for this was much different than the first narrative, and now that I think about it, completely different from anything I’ve ever written before. The literacy narrative does take on ideas from the first, but it is essentially a whole new piece of writing. In fact, this version actually builds off the first two paragraphs of my draft’s reflection. The aim of the second narrative was to create an interwoven network of ideas from all the students in the class. I wanted to start out with a good background of ideas for how I could tie my writing back to that of my peers. Which started with reading each students narrative.
After doing so, I began free writing. After I had a couple paragraphs done, I realized, I’d forgotten to make sure I incorporated the ABT method to my thesis. However, after reading over my work, I realized, I didn’t forget anything! The ABT structure was already hidden in what I’d written without even using the words but(however) and therefore(thus).. This moment was very satisfying. I had shown to myself that I really did learn something and improve as a writer. I then went back and added the words but and therefore for extra emphasis. Keeping the advice from Professor Morgen from our meeting in mind, I did my best to really hone in on a more focused topic and tighten up my thesis as I continued writing. I then added references to Stella, Ashwin, and Bakai’s narrative. Finally, I reread over my writing made a few changes, and hit publish.
This assignment was full of collaboration in order to integrate other student’s text into my own. This writing assignment showed that writing truly is a process. While it is nowhere near perfect, I can say that it is much different than it was just a few weeks ago. I needed to revise, strengthen my argument, and collaborate over a period of time.
The next major assignments we had to take on was the podcast. Our class developed a series called Voices Through the Mask which covered topics from our opinions and experiences with vaccines to memes during the pandemic from the student perspective. My co-producers, Neil,Saketh and I worked together to produce 3 podcasts about memes, Zoom, and fashion. It was very new to me to figure out how to translate an argument which would traditionally be written in an essay, into an organized conversation for others to listen to. I learned the key to success for these projects was collaboration and keeping each other on track and in check as we record.
In our first podcast, Unmasking the Memes, we analyze COVID-19 memes, debating how they’ve shaped our thoughts and behavior during the pandemic. In our second podcast, Zooming Through Doom, we advocate for Zoom as an underdog for online learning and which the potential to change the way we learn even after the pandemic. In our final podcast, Infectious Fashion, we argue that the pandemic has granted an opportunity for individuals to upgrade their aesthetics.
Being someone who is stronger in written communication as opposed to oral for assignments, the process of actually recording podcasts were a challenge for me. While I provided significant insight and contributions to the planning and development of our argument prior to recording, I found myself frequently messing up while trying to make sure I was saying the right things– especially during our first podcast. Although I did improve with other podcasts, as you’ve likely noticed, my input in the final products are unfortunately limited. I found myself to be a stronger role in editing the podcasts, coming up with the topic and title name, and the cover image. Editing the podcast was a fun learning process that allowed me experiment creatively to find ways to improve the aesthetic appeal of our production. This was especially necessary during out first podcast. Despite having a well structured and informative argument, our dialogue was dry and sad which was ironic because it was about memes. I tried to season the podcast with some added music and sound effects.
Overall, Recording the podcasts was pretty fun, especially since I was able to collaborate with two of my closest friends. Recording sessions for the final to podcast became more relaxed after the first one. We were able to just talk and even make jokes, laugh, and show a bit of personality in something that you’d generally expect to be more formal.
If I thought making a podcast was new, I was in for a real trip when I learned we’d also be designing a game. As someone who has very little background in CS, but is very interested in learning, this project was a very useful learning experience. Using Twine, my team and I designed a game inspired by our first podcast to see how personal meme and media consumption (of polarized political views) can play a role in the confirmation bias regarding opinions and views towards the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe translating our ideas to an interactive game was a more effective method of getting our point across as opposed to writing, because it allows to player to experience the effects of the algorithm directly. Although, I do wish we could’ve done more to take our game to the next level by improving the story line and adding other embellishments.
I really enjoyed the sketch assignments. These assignments were a more direct example of how I could be be creative with a purpose. My favorite assignment was probably the first one, which was to design our own avatar. This among this website as a whole are a key example of creating my own unique digital identity.
Believe it or not, this wasn’t my first website. Back in the day, my brother and I used to make all kinds of stupid websites for no reason. Check our this cool site we made for my dog George in 2010.
However, I’ve definitely never made something as advanced as this website before. Throughout this website, you’ll notice bold, italicized words which represent my own thoughts & reactions to what I’m writing.
Writing reflections after each post seemed a bit tedious, but I’ve come to appreciate it now. Generally, we’re not really encouraged to reflect on our own work or even our peers for that matter. (Usually we just submit an assignment on Canvas and never see it or think about it again). In fact, we’re usually prohibited from seeing the work of others in fear of violating the honor code. Being able to collaborate and see how others have interpreted assignments has inspired me and shown the many different ways texts can be perceived. I never would’ve though to approach an assignment like Bakai has, nor would I have never known his cool ideas existed had we not had the opportunity to view our classmates’ work. Collaboration is so important to creativity and I’m glad it was emphasized in this course. We are stronger when we think together.
One of my greatest struggles in this class was a prioritization for perfectionism over being timely. If I could take the class over again, I would been more proactive on assignments and participate frequently in class and not worry so much about being wrong.
Of all the writing classes I’ve taken, I believe this one has helped me grow the most as a writer. I’ve not only learned how to produce my own arguments through digital, verbal, aural, and written mediums, but also how to translate these arguments from one mode to another. Regardless of the medium, whether it’s a game, an essay, a podcast, or even a spliced image, I can create a strong argument by focusing on my purpose and my audience.
As for the future, I have already begun applying course concepts to other classes. After learning about ABT, I used it to write a successful essay about the romanticization of depression among modern day teens in my Health and Humanities course. After taking this course, I can’t imagine writing another and and and essay without considering ABT.
Not to be cheesy or anything, this class to me was like a breath of fresh air. The class environment inviting and inspiring. With each assignment, I was constantly thinking of what visual image or media I should create to compliment or directly convey the message I want to share with my audience. I enjoy finding ways to express a certain feeling or message through visuals, which is exactly what we did in this class. It was so nice to have a class were we are encouraged to express ourselves artistically. In the past, I would always try to find a way to incorporate some kind of artistry or aestheticism into my work, even when it was unnecessary. However, extra time as student is unfortunately limited, and doing so now feels like a waste of time. In a way, this class has provided another opportunity to be creative when it not only matters but is appreciated. It means so much to me. I’m so happy I decided to enroll in this class and am thankful for the knowledge I have gained. So,
thank you, Professor Morgen 🙂