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Tag: social media

ENG 704: Choosing a Blog Platform

ENG 704: Choosing a Blog Platform

An earlier version of this post was done for an ENG 725 on “Teaching Writing Online.” I will be updating those posts to include what’s new since then and to better fit the new course. In my ENG 704: Teaching Writing Online class this spring, […]

Housekeeping post

  <a href=””>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>I’m using Bloglovin for my Teaching Writing Online class and thought I’d claim my blog in order to see blog stats for it. I expect to be depressed, because there is porbably no more insular blogger than me. I […]

Yes, Pinterest

This is a  post for English 704; Teaching Writing Online, and it may be a brief one. I want to make sure writing teachers think about social media as more than just social, even the ones that are so highly gendered at this point that the idea of an educational use for them seems laughable. To that end, I wish to examine Pinterest as an organizational tool for the classroom. Yes, Pinterest.

The self-reflective board, Very Pinteresting, points out some reasons why. First, Pinterest is not as skewed female as one might think. I’ve noticed in my newsfeed that most of the new Pinterest members that I know in real life are men. They may be coming later to the game, but they are coming–31.8% to 68.2% women, a ratio that seems fairly familiar to me from my early pilot study on LiveJournal in 2004, detailed in my dissertation, A Public View of Private Writing: Personal Weblogs and Adolescent Girls (available through Ohio’s ETD). At that time LiveJournal was heavily gendered female, 65.2% to 67.3% from April 2004 through April 2005. On the last day LiveJournal provided statistics (2/13/2013), the breakdown stood at

  • Male: 6103828 (45.1%)
  • Female: 7421258 (54.9%)
  • Unspecified: 3212792

with unspecified consisting of parakeet blogs, cat blogs, or otherwise ungendered blogs. What I am suspecting here is that over time, heavily gendered social media evens out.

Known for its obsessive use by party planners, recipe gatherers, and meme lovers, Pinterest is really a wiki in disguise, one that uses images and user-set categories (boards) as primary organizational features. The social aspect is clear. You are pinning images on virtual bulletin boards and if others find your interests engaging, they will follow you as an entity or one or more of your boards. Let’s look at this from another perspective. If you want to find something quickly that is “trending,” Pinterest is a great place to look first.

Here are some examples. One composition studies researchers who is currently taking Pinterest very seriously is Alice Daer, an assistant professor at Arizona State University. two of her boards, Royale with Cheese and Gives Good Face are a boon to those obsessed with modern-day royalty or in the second, that hard to define quality that makes an actor a star. I have used Pinterest for more mundane yet hard to define collections, such as Human/Nature Interface or Oddities. I have no idea what I’m going to do with these images, but I am intrigued with them enough that I want to keep them. My use is a good example of an inner-directed Pinterest user. I’m collecting pins for my own interest with no nod to potential followers. Daer decided to try Pinterest to see how many followers she could gain, and by choosing subjects well and using her fairly substantial research skills, her follower lists dwarf mine — 2617 to my 37. Ah well.

In a composition class, Pinterest could be used either individually or as a class identity. Within it, class members could build boards on assigned or self-selected subjects. The visuality of Pinterest hides a system for noting links to text. That great photo of Princess Diana in Royale with Cheese may be the pin for a Princess Diana site with otherwise hard to find links. Especially if you are researching a subject that has a strong visual hook, try Pinterest. Others researching the same subject will find your board and you will then be able to see what they’ve found. If you like the functionality of a wiki but dislike how it is so heavily weighted towards text, try using Pinterest for research. It may surprise you.

Sharing a recipe with Google Glass

One of the available categories of Glassware is Glass software that acts as recipe social media, one that allows you and many other people to make a recipe archive. That in itself is not new, but two of those archives, allthecooks and KitchMe also allow […]

Pick me!

i just signed up to be an Explorer for Google Glass, me and a gazillion other people. The form had a drop-down menu of choices for the reason why I wanted Google Glass, but hey! I’m a writer, so I want another chance with more […]

Against happy news

Good news is one of those things that no one at all can in good conscience come out against.  However, here I am, not even a curmudgeon in training, about to write about how good news on Facebook in the form of links from sites such as Upworthy makes me cringe.

I not only cringe, I also take a second look at the person perpetuating the link.  Why? Because these sites purposely manipulate our best instincts by taking deceptive headlines that promise much to lead readers to outdated and fairly ho-hum material, sometimes historical material that any well-educated person should know about, all for the purpose of generating hits for their site (and for the revenue also, one assumes). Worse, they often miss the point, all for the cause of being uplifting.

For example, on January 25, Upworthy offered a photo of Sojourner Truth and the headline “163 Years Ago, A Former Slave Rocked The World With These Words” followed by the teaser, “One of the most inspiring performances of “Ain’t I a Woman?” I’ve ever seen.” Let’s think about this. Sojourner Truth originated the speech. Another version of this headline, one that is more straightforward and would not get as many click-throughs, would be “Sojourner Truth made a cool speech–who knew who the heck Sojourner Truth was or what she said? It was all so  loooong ago.” No one is going to use that headline of course, but the one used pretty much says the same thing.

Click the link and you find a video of actor Alfre Woodard performing Truth’s speech, underneath a superficial intro that marvels that Truth spoke these words in 1851.

If my Facebook friends are truly that easily amazed or know so little, I’m sad. For example, does Sojourner Truth’s famous speech “surprise” and “amaze” you? If you have never heard of Sojourner Truth, perhaps so, but I hope the surprise is not based on the fact that she was black and a woman in 1851.  I first heard that speech in high school sophomore history class, and its foundational significance for the women’s movement was not lost on me. It is important to note where and why the speech was given as well as by who. It was given at a Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, and Sojourner Truth was an invited speaker, a respected part of the women’s rights movement.

Let’s apply this “uplifting link” trope to something else historical and see what happens.  “150 years ago a former bankrupt business owner rocked the world with these words.” This uses the same juxtapositioning of  powerful speech in unexpected places. Just like the Truth link, it uses manipulation to gain the desired “This is new and wonderful!” effect. You may not immediately identify that former business owner, but if I had played fair and given the title of the speech, “The Gettysburg Address,” you would have known, and I hope you would have wondered why I used such a misleading description for President Lincoln.

This is why I will no longer go to some sites frequently shared on Facebook, even if the headline sounds fascinating. It rarely is and I don’t want to add one more hit to their inflated tally. Make no mistake– Sojourner Truth’s speech was amazing, one of the most powerful speeches ever made. What I find reprehensible is masking its significance in order to use it as linkbait.

Enraged by memes

On the meme front, there is a long-lived trope where you are asked to pick up a book randomly from your shelves or desk and go to a selected page and give the sentence. For example, I liked the “Give the last sentence of your […]

It may be Kansas, but

…that doesn’t mean they’re crazy. The outrageous social media policy the Board of Regents enacted right before winter break could not stand.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed’s News Wire notes today that the Regents will be meeting to reconsider. Good. As someone born in Kansas […]