Read & Respond week 7: Data

September 22, 2016

This week we delve into data. You’re surrounded by it, but do you know how to use it as a blogger? As a journalist? As we discussed in our Mobility week, we’re increasingly devoted to technologies that track our movements, habits, and preferences, and these trackers produce a wealth of data.

Consider Wikileaks, arguably “The game-changer in data journalism.” Approached with this massive wealth of data, The Guardian compiled phenomenally complex accounts of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a collection of cables (communication dispatches) from the U.S. Embassy. Not only this, they made the data itself available to readers to make their own stories out of it. Today they’re leaking data about the Democratic National Committee and its candidate, Hillary Clinton; some have praised their “radical transparency” while other have criticized their unwillingness to obscure private information such as email addresses and credit card numbers. Even fellow leaker Edward Snowden took some issue with this:

What can you do with data in your own writing? What, if anything, have you done already? Here are a few more supplements to give you some ideas:

Be sure to post your response to Briggs – note: There is a syllabus error, so please read chapter 8 (on data) rather than chapter 9 – and the readings as a comment to this post by 1159p Sunday, September 25.


Assignment #7: Blog-a-Day Week

September 21, 2016

After blogging for several weeks, you should have a feel for what works, what doesn’t, and how to plan your attack. So far you’ve been doing sprints, but this week will be a 5K. Beginning on Monday, Sept. 26, you will post something EVERY day to your personal blog for a week (yes, this includes Saturday & Sunday). This will not be easy, but you can do it, and at the end you’ll have a newfound respect for those who do this every week.

Some rules and tips:

  • The first rule of Blog-a-Day Week is: We do NOT talk about Blog-a-Day Week! This means no posting about how hard it is to post every day, or other such metacommentary.
  • Likewise, no posting about how you don’t know what to post. Use the skills from previous challenges, ideas from your blogroll, synthesis posts, comments from other students … ANYTHING that leads to a substantive post!
  • As always, good posts will have rich content (links, videos, images, maps, etc.) and be connective. Now might be the time to check out that “Add Poll” button up at the top of your New Post window.
  • Scoring (10 pts total): Your Monday and Thursday posts count for your required weekly posts (5 pts each) and are NOT part of the assignment. The remaining five posts are worth 2 pts each.

DUE: Every day from Monday, Sept. 26 – Sunday, October 2 (seven posts in all)

So that’s it. Daunting, but I promise you’ll survive and learn some new skills. THIS is what a full-time blogger does. I strongly recommend writing a few posts in advance to keep from going insane. You might also want to check out the National Blog Posting Month website for advice and support – you can even sign up to win prizes.


Read & Respond week 6: Mobility

September 15, 2016

Here’s a vivid thought from @GeorgeBray on that everpresent device in your hand.

The concept of Mobile First is informing considerable mass media practice. One of the up-and-coming areas in mobility is wearable technology, and some newsrooms are looking for ways to incorporate it. Its poster child was once Google’s Glass, whose “failure” we’ve discussed in class.

Do you find this fascinating, or do you want to slap the guy? The company pulled the plug on Glass in early 2015, but wearable technology is not going anywhere (get a load of the hedgehog-like iGel). Consider these perspectives:

Naturally, there are naysayers as well:

So how do you see wearable tech influencing the future of mobility? Be sure to post your response to Briggs and the readings as a comment to this post by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, September 18.


Assignment #6: Storify

September 14, 2016

In Monday’s scavenger hunt, we used Twitter to report. Today, we’ll use another app, Storify, to condense that content into something that can accompany a news story or serve as a stand-alone narrative (this assignment is adapted from Dave Burdick’s tutorial)

The Assignment

Storify your scavenger hunt with the following:

  • An introduction
  • Informative text throughout (so it’s not just 10 tweets with no connective tissue)
  • All your own Tweets
  • Your top three favorite Tweets from classmates
  • Don’t just add all this content and think you’re done! You must also include a narrative (text) about the experience. Make it interesting, and make it worth reading.

Due: 10a Monday, Sept. 19. To receive full credit, you must publicize with the #WVUblogJ tag and post link in a comment to this assignment post.

The How-To

Getting Started

  1. Go to Storify.com and log in with your Twitter handle
  2. Browse through the stories there to get a feel for what’s possible
  3. Click the “Create Story” button at the top right of the screen and create a Storify page (choose Public Story) of your team’s scavenger hunt – each member creates one.
  4. This must be curated – not just a list of tweets – so include explanatory written detail, links, maps, and other information that fleshes things out

Adding content

  1. In the left panel, add a title and description for your story in the blanks, then write some intro text in the main frame.
  2. In the right “Media” panel, click the Twitter icon (the little blue bird) and type in “#WVUblogJ”
    • You can search users and keywords too, but start with this for now)
  3. Drag tweets and images from the right panel to where you want them in the left panel
    • You can click “Images” to just display images to use, “Timeline” for tweets a single user sees, and “User” for tweets from that user
  4. You can also include elements from Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram & Google by clicking the relevant tab on the right panel
  5. You can embed links to specific sites as well – just click the little chainlink icon, enter the URL, and drag it to your story (OR highlight the text to link, click the chainlink icon, and paste in the URL)
  6. Add text by mousing over blank areas before or after your content links. A yellow bar will appear. Click on any of these to enter text

Publishing your story

  1. At the top right of the left-hand window is a big, friendly blue “Publish” button – click it
  2. You’ll get a window with a Publicity message that lets you send this to Twitter or Facebook and also inform people you quoted
    • You can change these from their defaults to something better
    • You can skip this and send it later by clicking “Notify” at the top of your story panel
      • This is a great way to publicize what you’re doing to the people who helped you do it!
  3. If your Storify is associated with an actual news story (e.g., something in the DA or WVU News), and you’re embedding the Storify at the end, switch the default link to that of your story
    • NOTE: You can’t embed this code in a WordPress-hosted blog, but you can post to there by clicking “Export” (at the top)
    • To embed: Click “embed” (below the headline of your story) and copy/paste the resultant text to your story (or blog post).

Assignment #5: Twitter Scavenger Hunt

September 12, 2016

It’s time! Every year, our class takes to the streets for a Twitter scavenger hunt. Thus far you’ve probably only used Twitter for personal posting (and some of you haven’t used it at all), but it’s a powerful tool for reporting and newsgathering, and the best way to learn about this is to do it. For the remainder of class today (Monday, September 12), you’re heading out into the world in teams of two (at least one of you needs a phone with the Twitter app) to find 10 things. You’ll need to complete the bulk of this assignment by the end of class.

IMPORTANT: To count, each tweet MUST include:

  • The number you are doing (e.g., 1. Joe Smith: “I love WVU”) – Without these, I can’t guess which entry you’re checking off (which means no credit)!
  • The hashtag: #WVUblogJ
  • EXAMPLE: “3. Prof. Biggins (Econ): It’s made protesting easier, but also more identifiable. #WVUblogJ”
  •  Restrictions: No College of Media students, and please don’t all mob the same professor. No more than half can come from the same building, so don’t just hang around Evansdale Crossing or the Rec Center – try heading downtown!

FIRST!

Each member of your team must post an introductory tweet or two with a photo of your team so readers (and I) know what to expect. Don’t forget the course hashtag!

And now … the list!

  1. School spirit! Photo and quote from someone (not you or your partner) revealing school or civic spirit (what that means is up to you. Be creative.)
  2. Eating Up: Photo and quote (not you or your partner) from your favorite eating spot or watering hole on or near campus.
  3. Professor on the street. Photo and quote from a professor on campus. Ask them what role they think social media plays in our society today. Be sure you include the professor’s title and department.
  4. Student on the street. Photo and quote from a student (not you or your partner). Ask them where they get their news and if they use social media to keep up on the news. Be sure you include their year in school and major.
  5. Academic excellence. Photo and quote that reveals (you are going to have to be creative) how your school contributes to cutting edge research and/or learning.
  6. Scenic spot. Photo of your favorite scenic spot on or near campus. (2016 rule: No photos of Woodburn Hall! We know! We’ve all seen it!)
  7. Little-known fact. Photo and quote of something you think many people might not know about your school or campus or city.
  8. Fanatic fans – Photo/quote from somebody asking for their prognosis on the remainder of the basketball season, or other sport of your choice.
  9. Extracurricular extravaganza: Photo and quote that exemplifies some of the huge variety of clubs, organizations, etc. available to students at our university.
  10. Freestyle: Your very own final unique tidbit of information/photo about our campus or city. Be creative.

Extras! (for +0.5 each – only your first use gets the extra credit. These must also include both hashtags):

  • Use a microvideo app like Vine to provide interesting/funny/relevant information about your school .
  • Post 3-4 photos in a single tweet.
  • Incorporate other social media in meaningful ways to add value to your tweets.

Storify

We’ll start this in Wednesday’s class, but if you’d like to prepare in advance, it will include the following: a) All of your own Tweets, and b) Your top three favorite Tweets from your classmates. In this Storify, you’ll reflect on what you learned and observed from the experience.

DUE:

  • Scavenger hunt: You need to make most of your tweets during our regular class time (10-1115a), and your team must be done by 1p today (one or two stragglers are acceptable)
  • Storify: We’ll make this in class on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

A Few Tips:

  • Think like a reporter. Have an eagle eye for the interesting, the important, the relevant, the unique, and the immediate. Double check your facts.
  • Think like a public relations professional. Show other people what’s cool about WVU.
  • Think like a storyteller. You may only have 140 characters in each tweet (actually 120, minus the 20 for your hashtags), but you can say a lot in a few words or using an image.
  • You may use more than one Tweet for each of the items below. Don’t overdo it, though, and don’t forget the #WVUblogJ hashtag!
  • 140 characters isn’t much. Try using other apps like Vine  to make it easier.

This is going to seem a little strange to some of you, but the goal is to reveal to you the journalistic applications of Twitter. You need to be an observer, a reporter, and you can’t be afraid to accost people on the street for their opinions. You’ll provide perspective and voice, and you’ll tell a larger audience something about your subject (WVU, in this case) – make sure you’re thinking of them!


Read & Respond week 5: Microblogging and Twitter

September 8, 2016

This week is about all things Twitter, so Briggs’ chapter on microblogging fits nicely with a platform where you’re limited to 140 characters or less. You’re probably familiar with microblogging but may never have heard the term. Many of you have been doing it for years – did you know?

Twitter’s the most widely known venue for microblogging, so poke around in some of these links:

Finally – don’t skip this step! – you need to get ON Twitter. You’ve got three things to do:

  • Create an account if you don’t have one (or want to use a different one for class), and make sure it is public (not hidden).
  • Follow me (@thebobthe) so I can follow you back.
  • Tweet something useful to our class to our course hashtag #WVUblogJ

As always, post your response as a comment to this post (and finish your Twitter duties) by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, September 11.

 


Assignment #4: Talking Back

September 7, 2016

This week you built and annotated a blogroll to follow in your own blogging pursuits. The Read-Write Web isn’t simply about taking what you need, however – you also have to become part of the conversation. This week you’re going to make your voice heard.

Part 1: Start talking! – DUE: All comments made by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11

You must post at least 10 substantive comments to the blogs in your blogroll (one per blog). Be sure to include your email and blog address when you post, or it won’t count!

To verify your work, you will provide a printout of each comment with a URL to the story and turn it in at next Monday’s class (Sept. 12). To save on paper, you can also take screenshots and print those.

Note: A substantive comment goes beyond saying “Great ideas” or other spammer-speak to build on and extend the conversation. Run with their ideas! This brings us to part 2 …

Part 2: Synthesis post – POST ON: 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14 (note that this must go up ON Wednesday for full credit)

Since the blogs in your blogroll are all aimed at your focus, you should be able to synthesize several of the ideas they present into something new that takes their ideas further. For this assignment, you need to identify an ISSUE that’s currently being discussed in your chosen blog community. You will construct a blog post that brings together posts on the subject from at least three members of your blogroll AND adds your own voice to that discussion.

Post a link to your post (not your main blog page) with a one-sentence description to the comment section of this assignment by the due date.

Wondering how to get started? Here are some ideas:

  • How is the issue being covered in the news? What are other bloggers saying?
  • Do you agree with these other perspectives? Disagree?
  • How can you fit the different voices you’re hearing (news, supporters, opponents) together to say something NEW about the issue?

Note: Although some summarization will be necessary, that’s NOT the point of this assignment. Instead, you must build an original discussion or argument upon these others’ ideas. Be sure to link as needed in order to give credit where it is due.

(yes, this counts as one of your two weekly posts)