Read & Respond Week 12 – Images

This week is all about visuals (remember we’ve bumped back the syllabus a week after our guest speaker). In Briggs’ chapter 6 on visual storytelling, think about his advice and note the example experts he gives. Some of you have been incorporating visuals into your work from the start, and others have yet to do so. Regardless of your use of visuals so far, how might your blogs tell a story that is more visual than textual? Yes, photos are ONE possibility – what are others?

First, I’d like you to look at some photoblogs. What’s a photoblog? Find out for yourself; can you point us to an example in your response? A great home for this kind of thing is Tumblr. This site (and others like it) are becoming prominent examples of quick-hit, visual blogging (remember that Briggs refers to this as microblogging). Skim through these “30 Tumblrs you NEED to follow” and see what compels you. What ideas are here that we can use?

Next, graphics. We started down this road in our discussion of data, and you’ve already made some graphics with Google Maps. Skim through these examples and see what strikes you – what could you do with these resources?

  • Wolfram Alpha: We touched on this in class. Create an account and ask it a data-related question (e.g., “How long does it take to play Monopoly?“).
  • ManyEyes: This one might seem a little dense, but poke around for a bit. Look at the existing examples. Figure out how to upload your own data (past examples include things like data maps but also the full text of Grimm’s fairy tales).
  • Wordle: This is a simple tool for creating word clouds. What’s that? Have a look.

Finally, something a little lighter: GIFs. Yes, they’re light, often silly, and incredibly short, but can’t we say the same thing about tweets? Or Vines? As we discussed in our unit on microblogging, many of today’s formats have some pretty significant limitations on time and size built in (140 characters, six seconds, and so on). Rather than writing them off, consider how they could function as another mass communication tool. Have a look at this primer from Poynter on what you need to know. MediaBistro also provides a useful five-point guide for when (and when not) to animate. In what ways does this change your perspective? At the very least, they’re not memes.

Remember, your responses are due by noon Monday, November 4, as a comment to this post.

UPDATE (10/31/13): Bitstrips! Just for the hell of it, come up with an idea for how we could use these (or the idea behind them) for useful mass communication. No, you’re not allowed to complain about them being annoying.


29 Responses to Read & Respond Week 12 – Images

  1. A photoblog really is what a blog should be — in pictures. Most of them have a very specific focus (ex.Humans of New York). Taking from this idea, we can see that visuals can and should be used to help tell our stories. Visuals are easy for the reader. By adding some to our text, we can enhance our message by a great measure.

    I asked Wolfram Alpha how tall is the tallest man? tall is the tallest man. Apparently, he is 8.2 feet.

    Many eyes is very cool. I created an account because there is so much data available. I looked through data sets on smoking. Some of the information is outdated though.

    I’ve always loved word clouds. I first made one a couple years ago that showed me the words that I use the most on Twitter.

    Maybe GIFs are a fad, but if we can use them to help tell a story, why not? I like how one of the readings talked about how we can use them to combine still photography and video — and now I know that I can make them on Photoshop. Pretty cool.

    Finally, I know we’re not supposed to complain, but Bitstrips annoy me. Maybe I’m “beating a dead horse,” but I went out of my way to figure out how to block them on my Facebook timeline. Then again, the whole point of Bitstrips is to create your own comics. In essence, it allows you to tell a story via visuals. We could use these to reiterate our message with a visual.

  2. ryanglaspell says:

    I was reminded of our discussion on links as I read parts of Briggs’ chapter on images. Just as links shouldn’t be useless and leading the conversation to a brick wall, photos and other images should be contributing to the conversation. He says, “it’s more important than ever for anyone publishing a piece of photojournalism to make sure it reflects the scene accurately.” Images need to reflect the scene. He also mentions how photojournalism can’t be thought of as art. Not in a general context, anyways. So images we use should contribute to the story we’re trying to tell. He also gives a lot of basic (some are almost obvious, but maybe not at the time of publication), yet useful tips of photo taking, editing and publishing.

    I think photoblogs are useful because they are simple. They don’t rely on a greater context. They tell a story 95% solely with the image. Whether it is visually compelling and emotion-packed like NatGeo’s site, or funny like “Rappers doing normal sh-t”, photoblogs work because they’re nothing more or less than people telling a story via photos. I Wrote This For You appeals to the introspective artist. While it now focuses on poetry, it used to have a visually compelling photo paired with a short, sometimes pretentious, but still relatable, poem. My favorite photoblog that I discovered awhile ago on Tumblr is Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things. The photo captions are short and hilariously oversimplified.

    My personal blog allows itself to be very visually complemented. The music industry’s use of mass communication has many facets of data generated. Charts and graphs that highlight interesting correlations between subjects in the music industry could be appealing. I think avoiding an abundant use of images of music notes and microphones is a good idea, I don’t see how those provide greater context. Wolfram Alpha’s Facebook report for me was extremely interesting. It took stats that I wouldn’t normally be bouncing with anticipation to see, and presented them in a visual that drew me completely in. I could use that.

    I’ve seen a lot of GIFs, mostly funny fails and cute animals. But as the Poynter article mentioned, they’re a great middleground sort of media. For people with too short of an attention span for a video, but with enough invested interest to exceed a single still photo, GIFs capture the attention quickly and don’t waste your time. I’m sure there are a plethora of GIFs of Miley Cyrus twerking and Obama doing something contextually “cool” or “evil”. There’s something accepted about viewing these too. I feel like I’m made fun of less to look at GIFs of cats doing adorable things more so than continually hitting “replay” on a YouTube video of a kitten chasing a ladybug.

    Similarly I think Bitstrips are easily engaging. You don’t have to read a boring, text-only status update, but it is more contextual than just a photo. Although their are those Facebook users who have to have a Bitstrip accompanying every thought they have, they are still informative and entertaining. Before reading the linked article I assumed making a Bistrip was a lot easier. Knowing that it takes more time than I thought confuses me. But using this as a means of illustrating what we want to say without being abstract could potentially help any blog that isn’t too professional for them.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      The subtext to a lot of your response seems to be one of context. The Kim Jong-Il Tumblr, for example, changes the specific context of each individual image for the context of seeing a recurring theme played out over time (I suppose it’s a bit unfair considering it wouldn’t be hard to find pictures of ANY politician looking at a lot of things, but he was a dictator and now he’s dead so let’s laugh at him). Likewise, how you describe GIFs gets at the context issue: It’s a snippet of the world, over almost as soon as it begins, and in the case of animals especially, it’s colored by its surroundings (e.g., the headline the blogger has written for it).

  3. As a television journalism student, I’m always looking for a way to incorporate visuals. In my personal nonprofit blog, I think I could do a better job with the videos I usually post when I do my “Nonprofit Feature of the Week” post. Currently I just showcase video interviews with the organization executive or a volunteer. I think having other footage or interview clips from the people the organization affects would also be very effective. Real people would tell the story through a video interview. No text would even be necessary to be honest. Video can hold its own.

    A photoblog is way to share and publish photos in the form of a blog. My favorite photoblog is, “Lens,” which is the official photoblog of the New York Times. I love this photoblog because they use powerful images that can tell a story, yet leave room for imagination and creative stories. They title each photo and provide a short caption that provides a bit of context. The rest of the information is left up to the reader to fill in.The “Lens” blog really puts a face on the story. Seeing a “real person” affected by whatever the issue is tends to resonate more with readers than just words. Photos really help put a face on the story. They can be great in evoking emotion and engaging an audience. It helps the audience put the story into perspective.

    The Wolfram Alpha website is really cool. I ended up asking it several questions just because it was so intriguing. You could use this website for a lot of different data points in your blog. The possibilities are pretty much endless. This site allows you to focus in on a specific topic and answer a specific question that could be compared to other things such as a survey or an interview in your blog. The many eyes website was also helpful because it allows you to create a visualization of the data which is often useful when trying to explain data to the audience. The audience is able to digest data a lot easier when it’s shown in pictures, tables or charts. I also thought it was really nifty that you could upload your own data set to the site. I’ve always thought word clouds were interesting so taking a look at Wordle was right up my ally. I think word clouds are interesting because it really allows insight into a person or an organization. Word clouds can often showcase words that make you think of other possibilities. They allow more creative thinking because they involve word association. Word clouds could be used in certain situations when the blogger is showcasing a specific person, group, or organization.

    Just like photos and videos, GIFs help express emotion and provide something that the audience can relate to. Before reading the Poynter article, I never really considered GIFs a useful form of journalism, but now I understand how they can be used. I always knew they helped evoke emotion, but most of the ones I’ve seen are just silly and meant to lighten the mood. It never really occurred to me that they could be used journalistically. They can be used in connection with text to further the story or tie the story together.

    Just like GIFs and other images, bitstrips can be used to show emotion and further a story or even tell part of a story. I think it’s very cool that these comics initially helped in an anti-bullying campaign. They’re easy to share, can be done via mobile device or online, and can be shared on other social media platforms such as Facebook. We could use them in our blog to explain a situation or describe the person we interviewed or to describe a hypothetical situation.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Your point on GIFs – that we usually see them used in humor – is important. Are we trying to hard to make these “serious” communication, or is that trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

  4. ebuchman5 says:

    After reading Briggs’ and his discussion on visuals, I can absolutely see where my blog would benefit from the use of more visuals. Considering my blog is about television, I think videos would be more useful for me to incorporate more of than photos. While I try to use photos in every post, I don’t always include videos. My blog discusses citizen journalism, and I think videos could be a useful tool for comparison—to show what a news broadcast was like 20 years ago to what it’s like now, for example. Generally, I think people now are more into visual “things,” which is why there has been an increase in visuals on blogs and websites. Briggs discusses that the increase in visuals has opened up the world to new voices, which I agree with. Because of this statement, I believe one of the best ways we can create relationships with other journalists on our blog is to use visuals and allow them to start conversations.

    I was really intrigued by the “30 Tumblrs you NEED to follow,” most of them were really interesting! Not surprisingly, the ones that interested me the most were the two under “Art and Photo,” “Humans of New York” and “Postcards from America.” Both of these caught my attention because of their stark honesty and the contrast of personalities. Whether it was the difference in people, lifestyles, landscape or architecture, these photoblogs really piqued my interest. These photoblogs have had great success, and we could all learn something from them. For me, I learned that human interest stories are natural and compelling, and I should take this into consideration when I post photos in my blog.

    When I was skimming through some of the data and graphics websites, I thought WolframAlpha was the most amazing things, have all that data and information available to me so quickly. I asked the program “How long is a dollar bill?” and received a ton of feedback within a few seconds (for those wondering—a dollar bill is 6.14 inches long). Now that I know there is so much data available on this program and it’s not limited to just one specific area, this could be useful for all of our blogs. It offers comparison tools without even asking, which would make all of our writing even easier. Right off the bat, Many Eyes is visually appealing because of their use of charts. In WolframAlpha, everything is displayed in a plain looking table, while ManyEyes shows different styles of charts that can be used to track information. Charts are a nice way to keep information readable and organized, instead of something like WolframAlpha, in which the data would have to be incorporated into a larger text-heavy story.
    Wordle is a great resource to have, so that as writers, we can create our own content instead of finding a premade one on the internet. These make for great visuals, and can be used for many different purposes. Relating it back to my blog, I would use a word cloud to show keywords that pop up in research, or key words and themes that appear when doing interviews with someone.

    Admittedly, GIFs are an entirely new concept to me, and I’m not sure I completely understand the purpose of them. However, after reading Loker’s article on when to animate, I can see some communication value in them. I think what’s most useful about them is that with a GIF, you can slow it down to show more of a frame-by-frame shot of what’s happening, whereas in a Vine, users are trying to show more of the overall action. Also with a GIF, you can speed it up to make a time-lapse of sorts, which is useful for trying to show more information in a short amount of time. I can see the value in a GIF if it’s used correctly and at the appropriate times, but I personally can’t imagine myself using them anytime soon.

    And lastly, Bitstrips. They’ve exploded onto the Facebook scene in the last week, and personally I think they’re pretty funny. The way I see them, it’s a photographic status update. While some “updates” are more “useless” than others, overall, I think (with some tweaking), they could turn into a fairly successful tool for mass communication. The first thing that comes to mind is they would be useful on a Comics blog, but beyond that, I like the idea of matching photos with a thought. I don’t think they would come across very professionally in a traditional news setting, so I more see their success based in the spreading of messages on social media and the Internet. They appear to be a lot of work to make, so I don’t think it would be as useful for journalists, who are often pressed for time and on deadlines.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      My jury is still out on GIFs as well. Those were some interesting questions you had for WolframAlpha – anything there you can see using for your blog? I know you’ve shown a continued interest in information graphics, and now you’ve got the ability to make your own pretty quickly.

  5. kevinmduvall says:

    In addition to photos, blogs can use videos to tell their stories. For some stories, it might make a greater impact on the audience to see the story happening rather than reading about it. Vine and Instagram videos can also be helpful to supplement stories with brief clips when longer videos are not needed. Charts and infographics can be very effective methods of visual storytelling when complicated data is being discussed because a visual representation can be simpler for an audience to understand.

    I’ve not paid much attention to photoblogs, but they are interesting. They have the same storytelling capabilities as standard, written blogs, but they are centered on visuals. The 30 Tumblrs article showed a variety of uses for Tumblr. Some, like Al Jazeera America, were traditional “hard news” designed to keep readers informed. Others, like Humans of New York, had more of a public service angle. Several were entertainment-focused, such as the hilarious Emojinal Art Gallery. In all three cases, the visual aspect of the blog strengthened its content. Hearing about people doing nice things in New York is good, but the stories are more powerful when the audience can see them.

    Wolfram Alpha has great potential as (essentially) a data-oriented search engine. Rather than just finding out information on a normal search, Wolfram Alpha gives users the numbers to back up the answers, allowing journalists to gather data more quickly. ManyEyes allows users to visualize their data fairly quickly, so again, journalists could use them to write data stories more quickly. Further, the site’s relative simplicity lets virtually anyone visualize data for their own purpose. Similarly, Wordle allows anyone to visualize word use to strengthen one’s work. For journalists, this could mean highlighting certain words in a story or series of of stories. For a non-journalistic example, I once used Wordle to make word clouds for a faculty presentation that showed which words were used most in a discussion of emerging media platforms.

    Like Vine and Instagram videos, GIFs can supplement a story with a visual when a video is more than what is necessary to tell the story and still images are not enough. As the MediaBistro article mentions, GIFs can tell the story in a unique way that images and video cannot. As Briggs discusses, copyright protection of images is difficult online because copying is so easy; this problem is especially troublesome for GIFs, since they sometimes use multiple images that could be owned by different authors. Additionally, it may be unclear who owns a GIF and where the line between borrowing images for a GIF and stealing them should be drawn. Briggs talks about creative commons licensing, which helps, but the issue remains complicated.

    It’s a little annoying to see Bitstrips blowing up my Facebook feed, but they could be used for good mass communication purposes. They started in an anti-bullying campaign that let kids visualize their anti-bullying statements. Bitstrips could be used for other public service purposes. Nonprofits could use them to let people share their perspectives on issues and events in a way that would connect with other users. Seeing a message in a format they are already familiar with could elicit more attention from audiences than traditional organization-to-audience communication would.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      That’s an excellent point re: the role of copyright in GIFs. It makes me think of Vine as well, in which a series of images can be strung together, montage-style, from anything visually available. If I use one-second shots of Mickey Mouse and Optimus Prime in my Vine, am I at all at risk of copyright infringement? I’d say probably not, if I’m just shooting something publicly visible to anyone, but the ability to chain up such image is steering us to murkier waters.

  6. samanthacart says:

    First of all, the Cake Wrecks photo blog is really cool.

    Also, I personally really enjoyed this picture on the Humans of New York photo blog.

    I absolutely love that this blog’s main focus is pictures of random people in New York, but also incorporates a quote from them. It made me think of our Social Media Scavenger Hunt. While that one picture and that one quote may not be a “story”— if you find the right person and the right quote, it could turn in to one.

    What we can take away from the 30 Tumblr Blogs to Follow (and what we already knew) is that pictures can bring an element of emotion and context to a story that words sometimes cannot express. However, this (along with bringing in data and entertainment) can be done with other types of visuals as well.

    While Briggs’ chapter on visual storytelling deals primarily with digital photography, there are an infinite number of other types of visual aids, including charts, videos, maps, diagrams, calendars and more.

    My personal blog could definitely benefit from the use of more visual aids. While I occasionally use pictures to help enhance my posts, I think my audience would really enjoy a wider variety of visuals (especially to break up some of my typical, longer posts).

    Tumblr is a great example of photo blogging. I do have a Tumblr, but I do not use it to its full potential (admittedly, I use it mostly to fangirl without a lot of people seeing). However, a collection of pictures can really tell a powerful story, as with some of the example Tumblrs we looked at.

    Ultimately, (as discussed in this post) photo blogging and visuals are appealing in a society where we are obsessed with things that have character and time limits (tweets, Vines, etc.).

    Wolf Ram Alpha is a really cool website that bloggers and journalists alike could use to garner data, which could later be used to create visuals. I asked the database the elevation of Mount Everest (which is 29, 029 feet for those who are interested).

    GIFS, bitstrips and memes are visuals that I have not made myself very familiar with (aside from looking at them for pure entertainment). While they are hilarious and make it easy to waste hours of your life, as a journalist I have a hard time seeing how they would enrich a serious story. However, it was nice to see some serious GIFs in the Tumblr article and realize that this is just another way to improve journalism.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      They don’t immediately seem journalistically useful to me either, but as I’ve taught this course, I’ve tried to train myself to seek the utility in everything. I don’t always find it, but it’s important to look.

  7. frostedtsaar says:

    Photoblogs are great. They’re little slices of larger pictures, letting the readers get their fill of entertainment before betting bored with one thing. Briggs’s discussion on how visuals can give something print never can drives home a point I’ve always believed, and a photoblog is essentially carried by its visuals, whether they be funny, shocking or endearing. They can also be used to tell a story, as demonstrated by my favorite blog, Hyperbole and a Half. Maybe Hyperbole and a Half doesn’t exactly fit with our definition, but the majority of the blog is the author’s pictures, and while each post is longer than perhaps the standard photoblog, I still believe it is more visual than textual.

    I’ve used Wolfram Alpha before very briefly to look for population data before finding better resources. The results it throws out can easily be incorporated into any data story, and would definitely lend credibility to one’s work. However, I have a question regarding citing; because though I am generating the results myself, they are aggregated from disparate sources. I am not exactly confident in my ability to source it correctly.

    Now, ManyEyes I had never heard of before today. It’s comprehensive to say the least. Just for kicks, I searched for Pokémon, and came up with exhaustive charts on individual attack stats (of over 700 different species of Pokémon, it should be noted), likelihood of catching certain Pokémon, and even someone’s “Least Favorite … Pokémon by Percentage.” Again, I question the credibility of some of this data, as it all appears to be user generated, but one could certainly find a lot of statistics on here.

    Wordle: I love a good word cloud. It’s always a nice way to visualize textual information, and you can make some beautiful stuff.

    The GIFs. Dang it, Dr. Britten, I just wasted an hour reading that journalism problems tumblr you sent us to. That’s a low blow. Though, I suppose it sort of answers the question you posed. I mean, how many people get sucked into microblogs just like those and soak up one person’s opinion for hours? That’s more that I can say for my entire body of work in all media. Clearly, there’s something to be said for microblogging, and might be worth looking into for our own blogs.

    Bitstrips. I don’t—what? How do I…? Oh, I see, I think. So, these are the things that have been all over my Facebook recently. I don’t really understand what the big deal is. From a mass communication’s perspective, I suppose they can be used to visualize an event or story easily. A reporter could, instead of a traditional story, report on a small incident using Bitstrips. The ease of use make it a great resource for the armchair reporter.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Ha! The bite-sized nature of microblogs turns into a gorge pretty quick sometimes. Great point on sourcing with WolframAlpha. It’s essentially a (powerful) search engine, so citing it would be akin to citing Google, but it’s not always clear which of its data comes from which of its sources. When in doubt, leave it out (which doesn’t help the reporter on deadline much).

  8. ryanfadus says:

    Visuals can help make a post more entertaining as well as being appealing to the eye. Reading paragraph after paragraph without any visuals or any other form of information can be overwhelming. By adding visuals readers aren’t as overwhelmed and will continue to read on. Briggs talks about how you can also add audio, slide shows, graphs and other forms of media. Adding all these elements to a post make the information more interesting and more appealing to the readers. Without visuals a story can be dry and may turn off a lot of readers, many people like visuals and if all they see is words then they may not be interested in the story and decide to go elsewhere. If you can find a visual that sets your post aside from others, then more people may be inclined to click on your post instead of someone else’s.

    A photoblog is a blog that contains information about certain photos or has information that is complemented by photos. In the example given, it is all about different types and designs of cakes. It gives a brief description of the cake with a picture of it above. This is a simple way of doing it and this blog seems to work since the pictures are nice and clear and capture your attention quickly. With the Tumblr accounts it seems like they are pretty straight forward and talk about things that people are interested in. The pictures are simple yet compelling enough to draw you in to see what the account is all about. Some ideas I might consider using are humorous photos that will draw people into my posts and to read them and others. I write for a sports site and whenever I use funny pictures or GIFs for the cover photo they usually generate decent buzz.

    With graphics people can actually check to see any statistics included in your post are accurate. They can also see any other forms of data that you may have included in your post. Wolfram-Alpha is a great example of this and can provide tons of relevant information that can be essential to making your post more interesting. By adding forms of data or statistics readers can see how well something is doing and can make a post a lot more interesting. With ManyEyes, it lets you upload your own form of information and this can have readers know where you got your information from. It can also make you look more professional since you are uploading your own stats and information. With Wordle you can create word clouds, which is basically an image made up of a bunch of words. If you used this as a cover photo then you could probably draw people in and if they read the words on it then they could probably get a good sense of what your post is about. Something like this seems as though it would make it easier to connect with an audience without having to say too much.

    GIFs are much like tweets and Vines since they are short and usually to the point. However, by adding humorous ones to a post you can generate more traffic since people like to laugh and be entertained. While some may click on a post just to see the image or video, it still counts as a hit and some people may stick around to read your post. Sometimes by adding it at the end or somewhere else in your post you can almost force people to read it and then they may end up clicking on some of your other posts.

    Bitstrips are much like GIFs and can add a little entertainment to your post. They can show how a reader may feel about the subject or how the author feels about it. These are something that have been popping up a lot recently and it definitely draws your eye to it. By adding them to a post you can probably draw a lot more people in especially if they are memorable and appealing to the eye.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      With the nature of your personal blog, I think you could incorporate several of these data tools in your posts. There’s a lot of comparison potential there.

  9. iamoore says:

    From the beginning of my experience blogging, I always wanted to incorporate visuals that could tell the story I want the audience to read. I find nothing more boring than a blog post that is just paragraph after paragraph. In order to tell more visual stories I want to start taking my own photographs for my blog whenever possible. Along with photographs I have used other tools for telling the story visually. I have used maps before in blog posts, and I plan to incorporate charts and other visual means of portraying data.
    A photoblog is a blog that uses photos as the main tool to tell a story. Instead of incorporating photos in order to enhance the content, the photos are the content One photoblog that I have recently found and think is funny is Reasons My Son is Crying
    Something that we can learn from photoblogs is to show our audience something instead of always resorting to simply telling them. The use of photos and other visual tools gives us the freedom to get the reader information in many different ways instead if always having to rely on our own writing.
    Of the three resources I found Wolfram Alpha the most interesting, I typed in questions about movie budgets, box office grosses, and other data and easily found what I was looking for(and more) every time. This could be very useful to my blog for compiling relevant data on a topic I am writing about.
    Since I write about movie and television technology, I often have to include scenes from films that support my topic. I think gifs could be an excellent way to get this content to the audience in certain cases. If I need to show a small clip over and over again, I could create a gif of it and incorporate it into my blog. However, just like it said in the Mediabistro article, it has to be a subject that really deserves the animation of a gif, and one that would maintain the integrity of the piece.
    Before this assignment I was not at all familiar with bitstrips. I go on facebook much less than I used to and don’t spend much time there when I do visit. I think the origins with Stop Bullying Comics was an example of how something like this could be used well. By giving people the ability to personalize their content, they are allowing them control over something they can create. The visual element is also what makes them so eye catching, this is probably the most important factor, because it could get audience attention because of its large visual draw.

  10. trentcu says:

    The sayings revolving around the premise of picture carrying the value of a thousand word is very applicable to this topic. A photoblog can legitimately be described as a blog that depends largely on imagery to convey meaning and send a message, relative to the more conventional means of direct conveyance through text. Photoblogging also carries a somewhat open-ended dynamic to them in that the individual messages it conveys can largely be dependent on how a specific reader interprets an image or collection of images.

    Beyond the use of images, one can visually convey information through the use information graphics, such as graphs, charts and maps, which can greatly enhance the visual appeal of one’s work compared to regular text. The resources cited that aid one in devising information graphic are quite impressive. They obviously can meet a communicator half way in the graphic-construction process by taking the data he provides and transforming it into a visual form of communication, without him having to construct the graphic himself.

    The tumblr pages seem to really strike me as largely condensed visual communication pages. Where traditional photoblog pages are largely complemented with textual commentary, tumblr pages have the balance largely tilted towards the graphical. These types of pages seem to be growing in appeal due to an audience that want its information presented in a concise manner with as few words as possible, with the success of Twitter reflecting that.

    Though I’m not precisely sure why, I’ve never been a fan of GIFs, as they just come across as rather tacky and awkward to me; however, I can somewhat see the argument provided in the link that being somewhat of a hybrid between an image and a video, a GIFs may be ideal when the use of either an image or video alone doesn’t seem to quite fit, as the slow, still frame movement captures the essence of both.

    Bistrips are intriguing to me because they’re not limited to the realities of what is placed in front a camera. Animated visuals provide a communicator with a great deal of flexibility when trying to convey messages, which is commonly seen in political comics. With that being the case, they’re application in the realm of communication seems largely limitless.

  11. Visuals are really important for blogs–they can attract more people, break up the story, add humor, clarify, demonstrate, explain something that words cannot (or cannot do well), etc. They can also make it addicting. My last blog post was more visual that textual. I used Google Maps to create a map of Morgantown that included nine prominent neighborhoods that were best for Halloween trick or treating. Recently I also created a chart in Illustrator for my personal blog. I would like to use more visuals in the future, whether that’s another map and chart, or a GIF, video clip or word cloud.

    I really liked the Tumblr blogs. i think what makes them so great is that they are simple. They are typically one photo with a caption, and the reader immediately gets what it’s talking about. There doesn’t need to be paragraphs and paragraphs when one visual can do it simply. I particularly liked the funny ones like Reasons Why My Son Is Crying and Rappers Doing Normal SH*T. Their humor wouldn’t be possible without the visual. Ice T riding a roller coaster just isn’t funny until you see it. Similarly, other emotions are played up for certain blogs. Found radiates wanderlust without even reading a sentence. Randwiches makes you hungry without reading the recipe. Visual blogs are at their most basic and beautiful.

    The graphics are pretty interesting, too. Examples like word clouds are easy and attractive ways to display data (without it even feeling like data.) ManyEyes would be great for using charts, maps, etc. to display data, too because it is easy to understand even when the reader is just skimming.

    I think GIFs are also a great example of something that is shareable. It’s annoying to send a whole document to a friend, but a quick image is simple and easy. My boyfriend sends me stuff from imgur at least once a week (and then I usually show my coworkers). We used to send each other WVU memes when that was a thing. Tweets, Vines, photographs, memes, etc. are easy to send to other people, and typically people enjoy getting them. That’s something that is important for our work. Would somebody share it? Would it be enjoyed?

    As for bitstrips, I think they’re a nifty idea. I think it’s pretty cool that teachers have really started using them because I think it could be most beneficial for them. For serious journalists, however, I don’t think they’d be useful. They don’t belong in a serious news article or in a newspaper, but the idea of creating visuals to draw the eye in or using visuals to better tell the story and clarify is really good for all journalists and all forms of the media.

  12. acampb22 says:

    All visuals, GIFs, photos, and memes give a little something extra to any blog. These visuals make blogs and stories much more entertaining and can often add an element of humor. I personally find photoblogs to be highly entertaining. One photo blog I continue to find entertaining is one we looked at in class, Suri’s Burn Book. The photos tell the majority of the story with short amounts of text that drive the joke home. I really enjoyed the “30 Tumblrs you NEED to follow”, I think Tumblr blogs can be a huge time drain but are equally as entertaining.

    Another drain on my time are GIFS. Buzzfeed is one site that uses GIFS constantly and in a very entertaining fashion. I could scroll through GIFS for hours and find myself exchanging them with friends. These animated photos are readjusted over and over to relate to everyone and often represent what’s going on in society. Any blog that uses GIFS most likely gets more traffic because they are so addicting and most people can appreciate them.

    I see Bitstrips as sort of personalized GIFS. If you were to use them in your blog they would allow you to add humor in your own personalized way, however, I do think they are fad that will quickly wear out. In order for them to be relevant and entertaining they need to have content that everyone can relate to rather than inside jokes.

    Images can convey an entire chunk of a story that you could not otherwise be able to convey. I do think it’s important to know where and when to use certain images. Memes, GIFS, and Bitstrips are not appropriate for everything. Many times it would be more logical and appropriate to use graphics such as a word cloud or a personalized graphic from ManyEyes.

  13. dkrotz says:

    I think that in my blog, I could probably do a better job of using visuals to get the story across. Lately, I’ve been incorporating more some pictures in my posts, and I’ve also been using tweets, but I’m sure that there is much more that I could do. Like Briggs says in Chapter 6, “journalism without photographs is like writing without verbs.” Pictures allow the readers to visualize and actually see what is being talked about and they can do nothing but help a journalist.

    A photoblog allows people to express themselves through simply photos or in a visual way. It doesn’t necessarily require text to get the story or point across about you are interested in or what you’re talking about. I especially enjoyed the Cake Wrecks photo blog, and all of the creative ways in which the Boston “Red Socks” were portrayed. I also really liked scrolling through some of the Top 30 Tumblr sites. These sites are so popular because in many cases, a picture can tell the story better than words can. Many of these things are memes or are pictures to show funny things, and lots of people are drawn to that, just because of the pictures.

    The Wolfram Alpha site is really interesting. There wasn’t a question I asked it that it didn’t give me a specific answer to. Many Eyes is a huge resource of data and developing charts and graphs and other creative ways to showcase the data that you have. Wordle creates word clouds, which is a simply combination of words together on a page with the most common or most prominent words being portrayed as larger than the rest. All three of these sites could be a great resource to use in our blogs and provide much more data and a greater visual attractiveness to readers.

    GIFs can also be very helpful, if not silly. They allow for people to take a brief snapshot of something that happened in live action and encapsulate it for others to see on a continuous loop forever. Like Twitter and other forms of limited space communication, GIFs can keep a person’s attention because they show specifically something that people want to see, and they’re done in 5-10 seconds.

    Bitstrips seem to be a way that many people like to use to express things. I think they are so popular because it allows people to create their own content in a creative way and distribute it among friends on Facebook and show what they have made. I think these could be used, especially in our group blogs, because they could better grab the attention of readers and at the very least provide a visual of what is being talked about.

  14. There are many other useful visuals than just photos. Photography has been very important tool for journalists. Online media has changed many things for journalists, one being visuals. There are many types of useful visuals that can be incorporated onto online publications or blogs. Some of them being are maps, videos, vines, GIFs, text and even more.

    Photoblogs are blogs with the general purpose of serving a photographer or artist. The blogs uses little to no words, and generally has a clean simple layout. I have multiple photographer friends that use photoblogs as a well to display their work to be hired. My friend Pang, uses the visuals for the main page to draw viewers in, and then uses the photos as a link to more photos and an explanation of shooting the event or person. Here is her website:

    I use Tumblr a lot, and I strictly use it for photos and sometimes a video or a song. I would never use it for an actual blog, and I typically don’t read actual blogs that use Tumblr. I’m glad Humans of New York was featured on the top 30 blogs, because it has grown to be one of my favorites. I’m typically most interested in stories that use people and the “average human” angle.

    As far as graphics go, I don’t have very much experience. I think maps can be very useful in showing all sorts of data, so I’d like to incorporate it more if I get a chance. Wordle is something I think is silly, but I can see it being useful at some points. I think Wordle is fun to use in speeches to drag out someone’s main points or to almost see their flaws in public speaking. Wolfram Alpha was very interesting, and I liked looking at it for personal use on Facebook. ManyEyes is completely new to me, but I love the visuals. I think they’re clean and simple, but interesting enough to read the data on the charts. I also think GIFs and Vines are best for humorous situations, and add a lighthearted voice into the blog. For more professional writing, I would most likely choose to avoid those.

    This is me not complaining, but simply stating the Bitstrips are annoying. As far as being useful for mass media, it is a way to bring comics back to the mainstream. The blog also made a point that it could be useful in educational systems. It could attract to viewers because it is a cartoon of someone they know or look up to. It’s almost kind of cool like having a doll of someone you know. Or is that also annoying? As far as journalism goes, I have little to no ideas of how they could be potentially useful, but I am curious as to what others would have to say.

  15. .
    After reading this section of Briggs and the related links I realize how I have been slacking with my visuals on my blog posts. The visuals I use for the most part are simple pictures and there are so many more elements of visuals I can incorporate into my future posts. What I like about blogging and microblogging is how easy it is to tell a story and connect and share the story through a few clicks. Many blogs appeal to specific demographics, ideas, crowds, concepts, etc., and what they all have in common is that they tell a story that is enhanced by links and visuals. I plan to try to tell my stories by incorporating more visuals.

    Using graphics like Google maps is something we have already done in this class but I plan to use charts (with the help of tools and websites like ManyEyes) and word clouds (with the help of Wordle) to better my blog posts. With these free resources I can put information and statistics into fun, simple graphics that will make my blog more interesting. With the use of pictures, graphics, charts, and different visuals my blog will be able to translate a story that is more visual as oppose to textual.

    I am thinking that for a future blog post, for example if I write one about Tinder, a new online dating app, I can use visuals like GIFs and Bitstrips to help enhance my story and point. These short and simple visuals help provide emotion in a story. Using light and funny comics like Bitstrips will attract to readers because it is a different form of a visual that not all people are used to (even though many of us are sick of seeing Bitstrips on Facebook). Bitstrips and GIFs also add a value of emotion into the post whether it is to enhance an emotion or ease a feeling. Bitsrtips work well for the microblogging community because they are short, simple and full of content. We can communicate any messages, personal or mass through GIFs and Bitstrips!

    I will try to incorporate the idea of a photoblog into my blog posts from now on because I see how photoblogs benefit from the use of graphics and photos. Photoblogs publish photographs and share these posts among online users in the form of its own blog. Many photoblogs are found on Tumblr because users can like, favorite, report and share photos. Many times visuals appeal to more people and can tell a story in itself.

    After looking at the 30 Tumblr Blogs to Follow I realize that pictures, and a variety or theme in pictures can bring out any emotional element that plain textual context simply cannot. A picture can tell a story in ways that words can’t even begin to describe and combining text and pictures helps enhance any story or blog post.

  16. I never even heard of photo blogs until reading the read and respond. The cake wrecks one is hilarious, and the visuals makes it easy for you to just scroll through for a while without getting bored. When searching for a different photo blog, it wasn’t seamless. It seemed as if a photo blog got confused with a blog from a photographer. I played around with wordle the other class when you showed us a group blog from last year that used it, and it’s interesting. It’s made for sites with a lot of wordy articles or long standing blogs that can have a lot of substance with one word. GIFs are my favorite of them all. In slow motion, it makes a play in sports or reaction in entertainment much funnier. I don’t have Facebook anymore so I can’t really judge it that way but they look funny. It looks like a different way to express how you’re feeling about something in your life.

  17. rachelwvu says:

    Visuals are enticing! They grab our attention and keep us coming back for more. I’m always busy and don’t have time to read through a lot of pages to get to the point; so, graphics, photos, maps, etc. are good ways to present your story in a readable way.

    A particular photoblog that I find hilarious is
    People of Walmart.

    They have photos, stories, and video of the crazy things people wear to Walmart. You can even filter results by your state. After seeing WV’s, nothing surprises me anymore.

    In the “30 Tumblrs to Follow” link, Bobby Finger’s comedy blog was my favorite. He uses a lot of visuals and says the things most of are probably thinking.

    Worldle, Wolfram Alpha, and Many Eyes are good examples showing that show multiple aids in creating visuals of data. I found another site called
    Visually that is essentially a tool for creating info graphics and visual data.

    GIFs, like Vine or Instagram are alternative, fresh ways to tell convey stories differently. All the jump cuts bother me, but that’s my TVJ background showing! Briggs discusses legal problems that can arise with using photos and videos that aren’t yours, and many GIFs include a plethora of other’s work.

    Bitstrips are social comics.
    Facebook bitstrips are taking me on a trip into the “uncanny valley”. They look just like their creators, which is creepy; however, they could offer creative ways to present info in a blog. They might be more appropriate for funny, sarcastic-toned blogs. On the other hand, you bring a product review or experience to life this way.

    • aaaaaargh says:

      Oh, GOOD example of the Uncanny Valley! My cousin puts those things up, and although she’s a very thin woman, her BitStrips avatar is VERY thin, which makes it really unsettling.

  18. cricha18 says:

    I’ve always felt that I could use more visuals in my blog posts to add another element to what I’m saying. Pictures could tell story much greater than words in some situations, so I do believe having pictures in a post is absolutely vital. I’ve always believed that a photo blog site was a place that told stories mostly using pictures with a little bit of caption. I’ve always thought a photo blog site had a focus on specific aspects rather than a bunch of pictures of a variety of things. is a photo blog site that focuses on various landscapes around the world. The site has pictures of things like a line of Target shopping carts to pictures of standalone apartment buildings in different environments. The images are truly compelling and I hope that I can find images related to my topic that I can use that are compelling as well while highlighting points that I try to make.
    I believe graphics are extremely useful especially when it comes to a blog post. They provide useful information in a cool presentation. I believe graphics have the potential to make or break a presentation, or in this case, a blog site. People can gather all of the information they need from a graphic but stick around for the post itself. One site I really like, and it was actually shown to us by Professor Britten, is Even though the site only deals with sports teams the way the information is presented through their creative graphs and charts is absolutely incredible, in fact I want to buy one of their charts.
    As far as GIFS, I think they can be very useful as a mass media tool. They can be a way to get a point across much in the same way as Twitter or Vine (mentioned in the read and response guidelines). It’s short, simple and to the point that makes it a very effective communicating tool. It also helps that people absolutely loves GIFS. I have a friend who constantly texts me GIFS so the appeal and popularity for them do exist. I do believe, however, that GIFS will fade away with time much like other fads in previous years. In the meantime I do believe they can serve a useful purpose.

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