In-Class Assignment #5: Storify

September 26, 2013

This week, we used Twitter to report. This week, we’ll use another popular app, Storify, to condense the best of those Tweets into a narrative that can accompany a news story or serve as a stand-alone narrative (this assignment is adapted from Dave Burdick’s tutorial)

Getting Started

  1. Go to and log in with your Twitter handle
  2. Once in, browse through the stories 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).

In-class assignment (9/26/13): Storify your scavenger hunt and publicize, adding #WVUblogJ and #JRLweb tags. Post link in comment to assignment post.

Read & (literally) Respond: Week 7 – Intercollegiate Crosstalk

September 25, 2013

In keeping with this week’s Twitter Mega-assignment, we’ll be reading up on the work of your peers from around the country and world. All of the links provided are to classes who will either be scavenger hunting alongside you, or who are about to embark on that selfsame journey in the near future.

The other participating schools and their hashtags are below. All are posting this week unless otherwise noted:

  • Auburn University at #AUJclass
  • University of Maryland at #J361JD
  • Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville (Mark Poepsel) at #MC202p
  • Utah State University at #JCOMSocial
  • American University in Cairo at #JRMC202

There are three parts to this assignment (the first two parts MUST use the #JRLweb tag to count):

  • Retweet at least five posts from students at these other schools. They can be scavenger hunt items or something else relevant to the course. It is preferable that you add some of your own (brief) perspective where possible, so you’re adding to the conversation.
  • Respond to at least five separate posts from students at these other schools. This is different than retweeting – you’ll need to make contact and open up an actual conversation.
  • Post a comment below describing the experience. Yes, you must still read the Briggs chapter in the syllabus for class this week, and if you can integrate that into your post, god bless you, but I won’t require it.

All these things must be completed by noon, Monday, September 30.

Social Media Challenge #5: Twitter Scavenger Hunt

September 24, 2013

The best way to learn about Twitter is to use it. For the remainder of class today (Tuesday, September 24), 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”)
  • The hashtags #WVUblogJ and #JRLWeb

And now … the list!

  1. School spirit. Photo and quote from someone (not you or your partner) revealing school spirit (what exactly that means is up to you.)
  2. Eating up. Photo and quote of/from somebody (not you or your partner) at your favorite eating spot on campus.
  3. Professor on the street. Photo and quote from a professor on campus. Ask them what they think the role social media plays in social change, such as in the Middle East. Be sure you include the professor’s title and department.
  4. Student on the street. Photo and quote from a student. 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 WVU contributes to cutting edge research and/or learning.
  6. Scenic spot. Photo of your favorite scenic spot on campus.
  7. Little-known fact. Photo and quote of something you think many people might not know about West Virginia University, even some of those of us that go to school here.
  8. Fanatic fans. Photo/quote from somebody asking for their thoughts on the general awesomeness of the rifle team, WVU’s move to the Big 12, prognosis on the remainder of the football season, or other sport of your choice.
  9. Personal favorites. Photo of you and a photo of your partner in your favorite spot on campus.
  10. Extracurricular extravaganza. Photo and quote that exemplifies some of the huge variety of clubs, organizations, etc. available to students at our university.

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 and #JRLWEB hashtags!
  • You will want to offer an introductory Tweet or two explaining what you are doing and introducing your partner. You may use either of your accounts or both. Doesn’t matter as we are using the hashtag to organize the Tweets.

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!

“In”-class assignment #4 – Twitter

September 19, 2013

Ordinarily we’d kick this one off in class, but as of this morning, my voice has completely left me. Instead, I’ll walk you through today’s exercis via the magic of the internet! In next Tuesday’s class, we’ll be doing a special project with several other schools – you do NOT want to miss class, for a variety of reasons – so today we need to get to know Twitter (if you already do, congratulations, this will be super easy). This “in”-class assignment will get you started (if you’re not already). The requirements are simple:

  • Create a Twitter account and post your handle as a comment to this page. You may use your existing account if you have one, or you may create a new account if you’d like to keep your existing account private. Due: In class (by the end of the day), Thursday, September 19.
    • NOTE: Your profile must be publicly accessible (because I have to be able to read it to grade you)
  • Create a Twitter Timeline widget linked to the account you’ll be using for class and add it to your sidebar (in your Dashboard under Appearance > Widgets – NOTE: Use the “Twitter Timeline,” not “Twitter” widget). Due: In class (by the end of the day), Thursday, September 19.
  • Start/continue following:
    • Follow me (@thebobthe) and each of your classmates (20 of them).
    • Follow ReadWrite (@rww) and Mashable (@mashable)
    • Find at least 30 other people/organizations/whatever to follow. Yes, that may seem like a lot, but in Twitter terms it’s really not. A good place to start is the blogs in your blogroll – most will have a Twitter handle.
    • Due: Noon, Friday, September 20.
  • Post at least 10 tweets, each incorporating one or more of the following:
    • links (if you don’t have an automatic link shortener, I strongly recommend tiny.url or (now requires registration)
    • hashtags
    • retweets
    • In addition, at least a few of these should include the #WVUblogJ tag (and be relevant to this class!).
    • Due: Noon, Monday, September 23.

Even if you’re an established Twitter user, this assignment should have you ready to tweet when you show up for class on Tuesday. See you then!

Read & Respond: Week 6

September 18, 2013

Note: This week’s readings are a bit of a slant rhyme with last, thanks to my inadvertent flipping of the scheduled online readings for microblogging and mobility. Read the assigned Briggs chapter and supplement it with the links below.

These readings have more to do with the idea of microblogging, but their on-the-go nature dovetails nicely with our previous discussion of mobility. First, what IS microblogging? Briggs lays out examples, but what does it mean to you? Here are 10 sites to get you started – some you’ll know, others are brand new. You probably realize now that this is something you already do, but how much a part of your life is the practice? Did it surprise you to learn you’ve been a microblogger for years?

Let’s talk about possibly the most widely known venue for microblogging: Twitter. First, a simple set of guidelines (from Twitter itself) for journalists and mass communicators using Twitter – start using these now. Next, a piece of research on how journalists use this tool (note: this is scholarly research, so SKIM down to the analysis and discussion – except grad students, who have to read it all). How significant are these changes in objectivity and other values? How do you understand the term “gatekeeping” (as used here), and what do you think of the changes it’s experiencing in a microblogging, social media world?

If you’ve been tweeting for a while, you know there’s an art to drawing responses, one that may still be frustrating you. You’re not alone. Check out these two pieces of tactical analysis: How to write “perfect” microblog headlines, and how to write “perfect” social media posts. As part of your response, I want you to apply some of these tactics to your posting. Experiment with time of day, wording, and posting at different times and on different platforms. Where did you see results? What form did they take? Views, likes, comments, retweets … what combinations might net you the interactions you desire?

As always, post your response a comment to this post by noon, Monday, September 23.

Social Media Challenge #4: Blog-a-Day Week

September 16, 2013

After blogging for several weeks, you should be developing a feel for what 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 Monday, Sept. 16, 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:

  • 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): Two of these posts obviously count for your required weekly posts (2 pts each; not part of the SMC). The remaining five are worth 1 pt each, and the overview post (see below) is worth 5 pts (so it should be a little more in-depth).

After these seven posts, you will then post an eighth: an overview of the blog-a-day week experience. What did you learn? What was difficult? What got easier over time? Post this by 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, and also post a link to it in the comments section of this assignment (this is the only link you need to worry about posting to the course blog).

DUE: Every day from Monday, Sept. 16 – Monday, Sept. 23 (eight 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.

In-class #3: HTML2

September 12, 2013

In this, your second round, we’ll be starting with the foundation from last week and adding lists and styles (you’ve already learned this in this week’s Codecademy module (Web Fundamentals: HTML Basics II):

First, remember these basics for coding and previewing your work:

To preview in TextWrangler

  • In Chrome, go to File > Open File… and open “index.html”
  • Command-Tab to select TextWrangler and write code
  • Command-Tab to select Chrome and Command-R to refresh your webpage

You’ll do the following:

  1. Use/create WWW folder; create “index2.html”; add structural tags
  2. Create a comment inside <body> that says “In-class assignment #4: HTML2”
  3. Create a first-level heading and an intro paragraph
  4. Create a second-level heading and an ordered list of your top three books, movies, or bands
  5. Create a fourth-level heading and an unordered list of skills you possess
  6. Create a nested unordered list inside item #1 of your ordered list (step 3) – make this reasons why it’s #1
  7. Add a fourth item to the unordered list (step 4) and add an image to it
  8. Change background color of page
  9. Change top headline to Verdana font family, a different color, and centered alignment
  10. Change style of your intro paragraph to 30px, a different color, and centered alignment

Read & Respond – Week 5

September 11, 2013

In these next few weeks, we’ll focus more closely on mobility. First, I want you to read up on two concepts we’ve discussed in class: Mobile First, and its relation to UX (user experience). The first linked article lays out some pros and cons, but what would you add to that list? I’d also like you to look at this week’s Briggs chapter as users as well as students. How up-to-date is he on the subject? Is he telling you anything new, or is this all old wisdom to you, the so-called Digital Generation?

Since we’re on the subject of the up-and-coming, let’s talk about one of the up-and-comingest of subjects: Google’s Glass.

Some of you will find this fascinating; others will be possessed of an urge to slap the guy. Is this what’s coming next (Glass, not slapping)? Even Vogue magazine has an opinion on the subject. My friend and colleague Jeremy Littau at Lehigh University is an early adopter (of pretty much everything – Hi Jeremy!), so naturally he’s been fiddling with Glass for the past few months. Have a look at these seven takeaway points. Based on what you’ve seen of it, can you suggest a few potential applications of Glass for journalists, advertisers, or PR professionals?

Naturally, there are naysayers as well.

Aside from hardware, we’ve got mobile apps to consider. Twitter can certainly be used from a landlocked workstation, but it really shines in how it lets you instantaneously publish from the field (a few death stories that jumped the gun notwithstanding). Check out this tandem of links from “Why journalists should break news on Twitter” and “What goes into a good tweet.” Useful information? Do you agree? How does it square with Briggs’ perspective and what we’ve discussed in class to date?

Finally, here’s a tweet from @GeorgeBray that sums things up perhaps a little uncomfortably:

Food for thought, yes? Be sure to post your response a comment to this post by noon, Monday, September 16.

Social Media Challenge #3 – Talking Back

September 5, 2013

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 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11

You must post at least 10 substantive comments to the blogs you read (I will only count one comment to an individual blog). The majority of these should be to blogs in your blogroll, but some outsiders are acceptable. 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 (one page each, so 10 pages total) and turn it in at next Thursday’s class (Sept. 12).

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 BY: 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12

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.

In-Class #2: HTML1

September 5, 2013

After completing your first Codecademy assignments in Web Fundamentals (HTML I  and Personal Webpage) and showing me their completion badges, do the following:

  1. Preparation:
    • Create a desktop folder called WWW
    • Open TextWrangler, create a new file called “index.html” and save to WWW
    • Save two images (ideally with short names) to your WWW folder
  2. Place your structural tags
  3. Create a title
  4. Add a first-level headline and one paragraph
  5. Bold a few words. Italicize a few other words.
  6. Insert an image
  7. Add a second-level headline and another paragraph
  8. Create a hyperlink to the SOJ homepage within this paragraph
  9. Add a third-level hed and another image
  10. Make this second image into a hyperlink

To preview in TextWrangler

  • In Chrome, go to File > Open File… and open “index.html”
  • Command-Tab to select TextWrangler and write code
  • Command-Tab to select Chrome and Command-R to refresh your webpage