Post #10: Information Architecture

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Overall, the information architecture of the first year writing website isn't too terrible. The site does contain the most important information on the first page. The only problem is with the layout of that information, which has the most important part, the first year writing requirement, underneath the fold. They could do a better job of chunking the information into logical parts. For example, the links for the websites that fulfill the first year writing requirement could be organized under one link, which would lead the user to information about the different classes. Maybe a link titled "Courses Fulfilling the FYW Requirement" would be more helpful.

The website does do a good job of being consistent with the headings and titles throughout the site. Every time you follow one of the links, the heading on the corresponding page is at least consistent with the name on the link. I just think that the link names could be better by substituting the course titles for the course numbers. All in all, the information architecture isn't the main concern for my website revision, this could be due to the limited amount of information contained throughout the site.

Post #9: Website Headings, Illustrations, and Links

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The First Year Writing website I have chosen for my final project has some definite problems with the headings, illustrations, and link names. The biggest problem with the headings on this website is the main first year writing banner on the first page. The cursive text in the heading is incoherent and runs together. Many visitors to the site might waste time trying to figure out what the meaning of the cursive writing is, like I did. Also, the heading "First Year Writing" that accompanies the main text on the homepage is just a repeat of the "First Year Writing" heading that is located just a few inches above it with no text inbetween. The second heading is not needed, or should be changed to something like "About First Year Writing."

The main problem concerning illustrations on the home page is the lack of illustrations. There isn't one picture to be found on the home page. This site could definitely look much more professional if it was accompanied by a picture, possible students engaged in the writing process. The links on the first year writing website are also somewhat confusing. First of all, it is hard to notice that the box on the left of the page even contains links. It isn't until you run your cursor over them that you realize they are links. The color of the link box should stand out from the background color of the page. Also, the link titles are confusing. Unless you are familiar with the course number lingo, which many prospective and new students are not, you do not know what these numbers mean and where the link will even take you. Changing the link titles to course names instead of numbers will clear this problem up.

Post #8: Website Revision

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The website I have chosen for my final project is the First Year Writing website. I think this is a good candidate for a web revision because there are many problems that could be addressed. The three pages I would choose for the revision are the home page, the page titled "WRIT 1201", and the "Student Writing Events" page. All three of these pages have some key issues that need some fixing. It would be very helpful to revise this page so incoming freshmen are aware of the first year writing requirements.

The home page could use a lot of help. First and foremost, the page doesn't communicate with the user like a conversation. There is a large paragraph describing the purpose of the website. I think this information could be condensed to a bullet point format to streamline the reading. Also, the "First Year Writing Requirement" section on the home page seems to me to be the most important information on the page. However, only the heading is viewable above the fold. Condensing the summary information and the first year writing requirement information could make it possible to fit it all above the fold. The heading at the top of the page could be revised as well. The graphic with the random cursive letters running together needs to go.

The WRIT 1201 page seems out of place in this website. It is the first tab on the list of links on the left side of home page, but when you navigate to this page the first thing you read is "This course does not fulfill the first year writing requirement." This could be very confusing for students. The first links should be courses that actually do fulfill the requirement. I think the page should be re-titled "Writing Studio" instead of the course number. Many new students and potential students might not be familiar with the course number system.

The other page on the first year writing website I would revise is the "Student Writing Events" page. This page just offers links to writing activities that students can participate in. However, you don't know that until you actually click on one of the links. This page could use some better headings with a short description of what is offered on the page. Also, one of the pictures on the page seems to be a random shot of students filling out a survey. Better pictures showing students involved in the writing process could be used.

Post #7: YouTube

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When I think about writing on the web the first things that come to mind are news stories, blogs, and articles. Videos uploaded onto websites, such as YouTube, don't immediately register as web writing. However, after thinking about it briefly it is easy to see how YouTube is web writing in its own sense, and for a few reasons. There is writing that is involved with every video on some sort of level. Some videos have scripts written out before any video is ever recorded. Scripts are the most obvious form of web writing that is involved with videos on YouTube. Most of the time the scripts are carefully crafted to make sure the creator gets his or her message across. Even though the information is being delivered in a video format, there was still writing involved in the process.

How about the videos that do not have a script?

Many videos you find on YouTube are not pre-planned, or have scripts drafted before they are filmed. These videos are captured spur-of-the-moment and this is partly what makes them so entertaining. Even though scripts are not specifically written for these videos, there is still web writing involved in the process. First, the video must be given a title. This could be as simple as one word or a short phrase, but somebody had to write the title. In addition to a title, the creator also writes Tags to help in the searching process. Tags and titles might sound unimportant, but they are crucial for getting your video to be viewed by others. Another way web writing is associated with YouTube is in the comment feature of the website. Users are able to write comments about the videos and share their opinions with the world. The comment feature gets the users to interact with the videos, as well as each other.

It is clear that YouTube is responsible for making you take a second look at how we use writing on the web. The internet allows users to mesh all the different types of media available into new formats. Even though there isn't a lot of reading required to watch a YouTube video, there is still writing involved in the process. The writing might occur before the video is created, as in a script; or, the writing could happen after the video is created with titles, tags, and comments. Either way, the writing is an important part of the process, and the videos wouldn't survive without it.

Post #6: Website Case Study

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The case study Redish describes on page 46 of Letting Go of the Words is a good example of what is wrong with a lot of the websites out there on the Internet. The case study describes the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and shows the short comings of the site. The biggest problem with the site is that it looks like the main function is a news providing site, when that really isn't the case. The main page provided news headlines as a main focus instead of providing topic based information. I think websites like to put headlines on their front page to look more current. They want the viewers to know that someone is working on and changing the site daily, causing attention to be drawn away from the real purpose of the website.

I find it fairly easy to distinguish good websites from bad websites while exploring on the Internet. For the most part, the websites which are "good" use the Internet and their website as a major part of their business or organization. The websites I usually find to be "bad" are the ones that are trying to transfer information they already have available to the web. In these websites, it is clear that the author's are trying to recreate original styles of writing instead of adapting to writing on the web. These sites will have too much text and long passages to read, as opposed to skimmable material and quick links.

Another website that doesn't follow the requirements set up by Redish is the First-Year Writing website for the University of Minnesota. The first thing you notice when you navigate to this page is that there is a whole bunch of writing in the middle if the screen you have to sift through. Also, the links on the left of the screen do not quite explain what they are for. They appear to have course numbers on them, but no explanation for why anyone would need to go there. The site doesn't send the user on the right way effectively and efficiently because one would have to spend the time to read the two paragraphs and explore the links to find out what they have to offer. All in all, this site could use some help.

Post #5 Linear or Non-Linear Reading

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When it comes to reading on the web, I am definitely a non-linear reader. I think this also applies to when I read dense material like text books for certain classes. However, I believe that I am a linear reader when I am reading something for fun. When I want to enjoy what I am reading I make sure to take the time to read it all. Unfortunately, most of the reading I have to do isn't for fun and is for school or learning purposes. With more and more reading being done on the web, it is easy to see how we are changing the way we are reading. The internet relies on speed and convenience, so being able to understand the main messages quickly and move on is crucial.

In Neilson's Reading on the Web it is discussed how people usually don't read every single word on the web page, but instead they scan the page for key words. I agree with this idea because it is definitely what I do in my own experience of viewing web pages. The faster I find what I am looking for, the better. I like when web pages are organized so that the most important information is located near the top, or easy to find. It is easy to get discouraged quickly and move on to a new site if you don't find any helpful information on the website in about the first thirty seconds. Neilson says close to the same thing in Information Foraging, when he states that web sites should support short visits. "Be a snack, not a meal."

Post #4: Is the Book Here to Stay?

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In chapter five, Bolter discusses the digital technology of electronic books. With full texts available on our lap tops and hand held reading devices, it is easy to see how the book might be in danger of becoming obsolete. However, I believe that actual printed materials such as books, magazines, and newspapers will survive for many generations to come. Magazines and newspapers will face extinction long before books are ever threatened because the Internet is much more effective at instantly providing the most up to date news. Still, many people agree that there is just something more enjoyable about holding the actual object in their hand as opposed to reading off an electronic screen.

I do think that we will see a shift towards more people using digital technologies for reading as they become more widely availiable. Devices like the Nook could be very helpful for college students. Instead of having to buy and sell back books each semester at the bookstore, not to mention having to haul them to and from class, students could rent the materials they needed for the semester on to their Nook. I can see this becoming a reality for students in the not so distant future. Personally, I find it much easier to read and take notes from a book compared to reading articles off the Internet. There is just something about being able to physically handle the material that makes it more substantial.

There are a lot of people that agree with me about having a better reading experience with books instead of digital technology. This is why the book is here to stay. There are many physical qualities a book posseses which are not available through electronic readers. You can quickly toss a book to the side if you need a break from reading. You can actually feel your progress as the weight of the book shifts from unread pages to read pages. You can show off your book collection by displaying them in your home or office. These are just some of the characteristics that add to the aesthetic appeal of reading a book compared to reading electronic texts. All in all, their sales and printing numbers may decline, but the book will withstand the digital revolution.

Blog Post #3 Technological Determinism

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In this week's readings, especially in the Chandler reading, the idea of technological determinism was discussed. This concept revolves around the idea that new technologies determine what people do, think, or say. For example, because of Google, now people don't memorize as much information because it is so easy to search for what we need from Google. The fact that this technologly is so widely available to everyone, a technological determinist would argue that Google has actually caused a change in how we recall information.

Personally, I disagree with the technological deterministic viewpoint. I believe we create situations in which these new technoligies become a demand. For example, Google was created because of the high demand for being able to search all the information on the internet. The internet got so advanced and large that we needed a technology that allows us to easily find what we are looking for. Google came along and provided this service that we greatly needed.

Carr discusses this idea in his article "Is Google Making us Stupid?" I don't think that using Google to search for information instead of going through the memorization has made us less intelligent. I actually believe that being able to be connected to tons of information at our finger tips has made us smarter. We might not be able to recall as much information of the top of our heads as other generations, but we have access to much more information and instantly.

Post #2 What Does Hypertext Refashion?

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The main point that I think Bolter was trying to get across is that there have been a large variety of different writing formats and methods over the course of history. Each new technology finds a way to improve upon, or completely change the writing processes that preceded it. Written text refashioned spoken word and was considered an amazing achievement when it was first developed. The ability to physically preserve somebody's words and ideas onto some kind of surface completely changed the way information was passed along to one another. Hypertext is taking the refashioning process to a whole new level.

With hyptertext words, pictures, videos and sound have no boundries. On the web we are able to combine all these different forms of communication to create completely new and exciting forums of information. The most amazing part is that all this information is instantly available to anyone in the world, as long as they have a connection to the internet. Hypertext is doing away with the boundries that hinder some forms of communication because now it can all be transfered electronically in seconds.

Before hypertext, if someone wanted to let all there friends and family know what was going on in their life, they would have to call everyone or send out a bunch of letters. This could be very time consuming. Hypertext has refashioned the spreading of "personal" news. Social networking sites such as FaceBook allow for instant access to this kind of information. However, you can still find places within hypertext that still try to embrace the older communication styles. At PostSecret you can mail in a secret message on a post card, and it will be scanned and placed online for everybody to see.

Post #1: Digital Natives & Digital Immigrants

After reading the article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants it is clear to me that I am a digital native. It is completely true that I have grown up surrounded by technology and multimedia. I found that the article hit on a good point when it talked about students of today, the digital natives, being much more adept at multitasking. I believe this is particularly true in my own experiences. My parents always thought I wasn't being very productive when I would complete my homework while listening to the radio and watching a ball game on tv at the same time. I still use those same study habits today, so they must be working well.

The article made a very good point about the teachers of today "speaking a different language" than their students. I can see how this could cause a big problem when it comes to properly educating the students of today. If the teachers aren't able to communicate with the students effectively, then the learning process will not work up to its potential. I believe it is crucial for the teachers to change and adapt their teaching styles to better suit the students of today. By doing so the students will have a much more satisfying learning experience, and the teachers will become more accustomed to the high-tech world we live in.

I definitely use digital technologies more than classic pencil/paper writing methods when enganging in writing activities. The majority of my writing is done on my laptop on Microsoft Word. This is where I complete all my writing assignments for my classes. Microsoft Word is the application I use for writing all my scholarly pieces of work. I also occasionally use digital technologies to communicate with long distant friends through facebook messages and facebook chat. In addition to facebook, I use a lot of text messaging as well. Texting is a good way to quickly convey a message without having to set aside the time to place a phone call. I'm sure there are more digital technologies that I use but can't think of off the top of my head, but Microsoft Word, Facebook, and text messaging are the big ones.

Recent Comments

  • Lee-Ann Breuch: I see what you mean. It's great that the link read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Dan, I will give you full credit here for read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Nice points about how YouTube might resemble or involve writing, read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Good plans for the Writing Studies Web site. I'm excited read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Nice job commenting on Redish here. The First-Year Writing web read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: That's right, the "information foraging" idea suggests that people are read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: You bring up an interesting point about textbooks: even though read more
  • John Carlson: I think the price of bringing books to market read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: You articulate a firm stance here, and you make an read more
  • Lee-Ann Breuch: Hi Dan, Nice reflections here on Bolter. I agree with read more

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