Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What is Style? Part 2

Honestly, my perception of what style is has not really changed. I still think that someone's style is a term that shoudl eb used to describe the way that that person writes. However, a few more kinds of styles have been brought to my attention aside from informative or narrative.

I never really viewed comic writing as being a writing style. When we did the project about Scott McCloud's book "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art", it made me see comics in a new light. I am not saying that I completely enjoyed reading his book, but it definitely gave me a new respect for the people who read and write comics. I also never looked at YouTube videos as a form of writing. I never really thought about what was being said could have been derived from a script.

I also learned that there are many easy ways to make your writing better. If you use examples of the rules that we covered in Williams and/or Strunk and White, you can clean up your writing with ease. There were definitely some things that I found myself to be guilty of, like being too wordy at times, which I plan to remedy in my future works of writing. Even though the books were a little dry and boring, there was a lot of valuable information inside their covers.

I had never considered writing to be a technology, either. It never really had occur ed to me that writing was something that had to be developed over time since it something that I have always done. In Baron's "From Pencils to Pixels" he chronicles the journey of the written word. It is really amazing how far everything has come from the origins of writing. I guess I kind of developed a new respect for writing as well. I never realized that there used to be people who feared it or even hated it like Socrates. It is hard to imagine what the world would be like without having all of the knowledge that we have at out fingertips being so easily accessible. Thankfully, we will never have to find out.

Peer Review Recap Part 4

Peer review was more useful to me in the beginning of the course. I would present an actual draft of my work and have my peers critique it. However, as the semester went on, the helpfulness of peer review kind of went to the wayside. It is really hard to get attempt to provide a meaningful draft when your peers are not going to. Add in the pressure of having things that would actually be due to turn in for grade due on the same days as peer review essays, and you have not much motivation to complete a full draft.

I think that I have learned to be honest with other people about their writing. If you sugar coat it for them, they will not learn anything. Fear of hurting someones feelings can just lead to them turning in a piece of bad writing, which would probably be more detrimental to them in the long run. If something sucks, let them know!

I have learned to take my classmates' advice into consideration. There are a lot of good writers in your classes when you get to this level in your education. Some are really insightful. Granted, there are still those that don't know what they are doing or talking about, but there are not too many of those.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Looking @ Past Readings >>> Forward to Essay

Walter Ong discusses the "garbage in, garbage out" complaint about computers in "Writing is a Technology that Restructures Thought." The same can definitely be said for short films. There is plenty of garbage out there...the dude that farts onto a flame seeing if it will explode, people doing stuff to their friends after they pass out at a party, etc... chances are, those people did not set out to make something meaningful. While we may enjoy those crappy videos, we understand that they are purely entertainment. In other words, we WANT the garbage. However, we just might not want it all the time. For the times we don't want it, there is good, deep stuff out there, too.
There is a an excerpt from Baron's "From Pencils to Pixels" that really sums up how I feel about this video technology: "as old technologies become more automatic and visible, we find ourselves more concerned with fighting or embracing what's new. Ten years ago, math teachers worried that if students were allowed to use calculators, they wouldn't learn their arithmetic tables. Regardless of the value that parents and teachers still place on knowing math facts, calculators are now indispensable in math class." I think the same definitely goes for low budget videos. There are definitely people, like Alexandra Juhasz, who feel these low budget videos are dumbing down out culture, but you can already see that they are becoming more of a staple in the education system today. How often does a teacher show a YouTube video in class? Most do at least once throughout a semester. I'm not saying that These videos should be used ALL THE TIME by teachers, but I think they can definitely help make things a little more interesting in the classroom.
There is a relationship between comics and short movies as well. When shooting a short movie, it is done in pieces, kind of like a comic is done in panels. Each piece is a little story, but as a whole, they accomplish something much bigger. If pieces were removed, the whole would be completely different.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Low Bridge Videos: Good or bad?

The actual process of making a simple video is pretty fun. Its nice to get to do a project and have very little limitations put on it. Its also nice to be able to work with other people on a fun project rather than the typical, horribly boring collaborative assignment. There are definitely a few connections between the making of a video and the writing process. Although the actual mechanics are different (you don't normally need a video camera to create a piece of writing) the processes are almost the same. First, you start out with a basic idea. After you decide what you will write about or make a video on, you do some brainstorming. Whether you rite it down or just do it mentally, it always happens. Then you create the work. Next you edit. In writing this is proofreading and revising; in film making its actually editing. Then, you share your work and await its review.
I can see why Anderson would advocate the use of low budget media. I think it definitely does help students to be more create and break way from the "repressive and undemocratic" ways of the education system that is in place. When we sat in our groups today, we were all trying to figure out what we were going to do for our videos. I have never seen so many people actually engaged in what we were doing. Everyone seemed to be excited to have a little freedom. I do also agree with Juahsz, however. There is definitely more crap on YouTube than useful, informational works. I think it is a great idea to use it for a fun project, but not much more than that. It is definitely a medium that should be viewed as entertainment, not education.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Peer Review Recap Part 3

There really weren't any similarities between my posts. The first I was just talking about Google Docs and the second I was discussing the Wetpaint Wiki. It seems that my opinion hasn't changed about Google Docs. I still really like it. It is so much better than the Wiki. The only thing that makes the Wiki better is that the Wiki allows you it view more people's papers, which gives you more examples to examine. I like that Google Docs lets allows you to put in a direct comment to someone. It is much better than having to put a thread in at the end. It seems that Brittany Reed and I feel the same way about peer review: our views really haven't changed that much. We also agree on the fact that people tend to sugarcoat things while doing reviews of their peers' papers. This can cause for people to do things wrong and never really be told, which makes the process of peer review useless. Susan McCraken and I seem to disagree: she likes the Wiki better than Google Docs. She thought that Google Docs was more complicated, which i completely disagree with. Setting up the Wiki was a nightmare! Google Docs is so easy to put together and edit. One thing her and I did agree on was that when you don't get much of a draft done, it is hard to really get much out of peer review. I have had drafts ready for both peer review sessions before this, but this time around I really didn't have much ready because I had two other huge assignments that were actually do on this day. To be honest, I probably won't even out what I submitted into my paper.
As a whole, I think peer review is extremely helpful. It makes it easier for you to see mistakes that you may have made. When someone else reads your work, they always see things that you as I writer do not see. It is also really good to have other examples of work to look at. The best things people can do to get the most out of peer review are to bring a good draft with them, be completely honest about the work that they review, and to not take the criticism of others to heart. We are all just trying to do the best we can!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Reading Comics w/ McCloud Part 2

I looked at Jeff Gerding's pick, "Slim" which can be found at This comic is actually pretty funny. It might be short, but it manages to make you laugh in under five panels, which I think is pretty impressive. I agree with Jeff's observations. It is obvious that the artist has a very deep knowledge and understanding of comics. The way that it is drawn definitely gives an accurate portrayal of the old mobster comics. Jeff hit the nail on the head when he said that the style of art could be called iconic. He said, "there's enough detail that the images are able to clearly convey what the artist wanted them to: anyone who is even remotely familiar with the detective comics of the 1930s will recognize this as a pretty faithful parody."

The comic is a good example of of scene-to-scene transitions. It moves from setting to setting, not moment to moment. It is also easy for the reader to gain closure. It is clear that Slim has eaten the box of hamburgers in order to mask his identity, which allows him to get away with whatever he has done. Ambiguity is definitely lacking, as Jeff pointed out. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out what has transpired in the "gutter," or the empty white space between the panels.

The color scheme that is used in this comic stays pretty true to what McCloud was talking about in chapter 8 of Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. The color of Slim's clothing is what the reader associates with him, which is what allows the reader to understand that the fat mobster is Slim at the end. If the artist would have changed the color of Slim's clothing, the reader would probably have ended up confused. McCloud wrote, "while comics colors were less than expressionistic, they were fixed with a new iconic power. Because costume colors remained exactly the same, panel after panel, they came to symbolize characters in the mind of the reader." (188)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Understanding Comics 1

I chose a comic entitled "Copper" which can be found at The comic follows a working man and his dog on an average day of work. The companions stumble on a clock that isn't working, so they decide to fix it. After doing so, they realize that they will have to come back to rewind the clock very so often. The dog points out that they will have to work more overtime than usual and he is not happy about it. The owner doesn't seem to mind though.

The first concept that i saw that reminded of me of McCloud was the concept of what happens in the "gutter" of comics. We see that the man is attempting to move some screws around on the clock. The next frame shows noises being made: "kchunk! tok tok tok!". Even though it doesn't show exactly how the guy fixed the clock, we can assume that he did something to make it work.

Another McCloud concept is the layout of the comic: it is action to action. Each frame represents the action that occurs next: first they stumble upon the clock, they ponder what is wrong with it, the reach in to their tool boxes, etc.