Read & Respond week 4: Crowds and links

January 29, 2015

This week, we’ll be talking about connections: The in-person links that create crowds, and the digital ones that create, well, the Internet. Briggs talks specifically about “crowdsourcing;” the term “the wisdom of crowds” was popularized by James Surowiecki, but it’s been around for a while. Some take issue with the idea that crowds actually have any particular wisdom. Here’s a little tune on the subject from Nova:

Moving on to links and linking, consider some ideas from these posts:

Remember to respond to this post by 10a on Monday, February 2. Keep it concise, relevant, and don’t forget to integrate Briggs!

In-Class #1: HTML1

January 28, 2015

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 (or another text editor), 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

To view a webpage’s source code

  • Chrome: View > Developer > View Source
  • Firefox: Tools > Web Developer > Page Source
  • Safari (why are you using Safari?): Develop > View Page Source

Assignment #4: Talking Back

January 26, 2015

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 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 2

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 (Feb. 2).

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: 10 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4

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)

Read & Respond week 3 – Origins of the Internet

January 22, 2015

You might want to read/watch this week’s links before delving into Briggs as they provide some historical context to what he’s talking about. First: Two video clips!

1981 Newscast about “THE INTERNET”

History of the Internet

Supplement these by SKIMMING one or more of these links (they’re meaty, reference-heavy sources, so just get an overview):

Is the Internet something invented by an individual? What’s a specific surprising event you found in the timelines? Remember, your response (to these links AND to Briggs) is due as a comment to this post no later than 10a on Monday, January 26.

Assignment #3: Start Following!

January 21, 2015

So far, you’ve introduced yourself and determined a focus for your blog. This week you’ll solidify that focus and identify sources of information that will contribute to your writings.

Part 1: Refine your focus

This week, you created an “About” page with your blog’s mission statement. In class today, we assessed these focuses. Based on my and your classmates’ feedback, refine your “About” page and add some depth. Remember these points from our readings:

  • It’s not about you. Make sure your focus is a larger conversation, not a diary or “expert advice” (you’re not one) or “my crazy life” blog. How can you connect with a larger community?
  • It’s not about everything. Avoid being too broad (e.g., “pop culture”) – if you say you will write about something general like “sports,” you’ll need to spell out what a reader might get out of reading your site compared to the countless other sports sites out there.
  • It’s not just links. Links are necessary, but a successful blog needs to add something to the information it synthesizes from elsewhere. Linking to a bunch of stories about the Pittsburgh Penguins is not blogging.

Part 2: Identify sources to help you

Blogging isn’t something you have to do on your own. With your focused topic in mind, it’s time to identify some sources to help you on that path. You will identify at least 10 blogs to follow. Each of these blogs should be a spiritual cousin to your own – they do something related to what you hope to do. They may be individual bloggers or group blog sites; they cannot be non-blog sites (e.g.,, although you may link to an individual blogger on such a site (no more than one from a site).

You’ll need to complete the following steps:

  • Add a blogroll (Links > Add New > Create a “Blogroll” category) and add your 10 blogs to it (5 pts for blogroll)
  • Write a blog post explaining (in 1-2 sentences each) how each of these blogs will inform your own blog – don’t forget to include links to each blog in your post! (5 pts for links)
  • Yes, this counts as one of your two weekly posts (5 pts for compelling, coherent writeup)

Due: 10a, Monday, January 26

  • This post must be published on Monday
  • Post a link to the post (with a short description) in a comment to the Assignment #2 blog post (this one)

Read & Respond week 2 – Getting Started

January 15, 2015

First, an overview of how these will typically work. Just about every week has an assigned reading from the Mark Briggs textbook, Journalism Next. In addition, I’ll typically put up a post here (usually by Thursday) with some links to online readings. You are required to post a response to these readings no later than 10a on Monday (before class; in weeks with no Monday class, your response is due at 10a Tuesday). You’ll post your response as a comment in reply to the Read & Respond blog post (like this one).

Your response MUST address the week’s Briggs chapter and should add some elements from the online readings. You don’t need to cite all the links, but you need to connect them (or other examples) to Briggs for full credit. Keep these short and to-the-point (they’re only worth 2.5 points), but do cover your bases.

Now on with this week’s assignment.

As the syllabus says, you’ll be reading Briggs’ introduction and chapter 1. As you work to develop your blog’s focus, Briggs offers some suggestions. Chief among them: “It’s not about you.” What can you write about that gets beyond yourself and meaningfully adds to the ongoing conversation? See what examples you can draw from the links below to bolster your ideas.

Why blogs and journalism need each other (note: This is OLD – from 2003! – so consider how its argument has held up over time)

The Case Against News We Can Choose

Why you should blog

How NOT to blog

You will need to respond to these readings in a comment on this post no later than 10a on Tuesday, January 20 (no class on Monday). A few things to make sure of:

  • Post as your WordPress identity so I know who you are.
  • Specifically address the readings, but don’t just summarize – build on them!

Assignment #2: The About Page

January 15, 2015

Your new blog needs a place for readers to find out what it’s about. You could do this as a first post, but over time, this will get hard to find – nobody likes scrolling, after all. Instead, you’re going to create an About page. Have a look at this read from blogtyrant on what makes a terrific “About Us” page – they include examples, too! With those ideas in mind, get started.

In your dashboard:

  1. Pages > Add New
  2. Title: “About” or “About This Blog”
  3. Write some appropriate “about” content (you can update this as your blog grows)
  4. Publish!

Some things you’ll need to include:

  • What’s the blog about? Well DUH. But this means you’ll need to know that yourself, and that means spelling out the specifics of what readers can expect. You might add some links to similar blogs (while explaining what will make yours different)
  • Who’s the author? Tell us your background. What are you studying? What are your interests and accomplishments?
  • Where can I find you? You’re cultivating an online presence, so let interested readers know where they can hear more from you. You needn’t use an email if you don’t want, but at the very least put up your Twitter handle.

When that’s all done, send me the link to your About page in an email, and I’ll add it to the blogroll on our course blog.

Due: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20 (email me link by this time)

DON’T FORGET: Tweet the link to your first post (not this About page) using the #WVUblogJ next week too!

Welcome to JRL 430 (and Assignment #1)

January 12, 2015

Here we are: Another exciting semester of blogging and interactive journalism. In this class, you will learn to use social media (a term under which I include blogging for its often-interactive nature) as a tool rather than a toy. You will create and curate a personal, media-focused blog (this is the College of Media, after all), pursue and create stories using various social media, and design a focused group blog on a topic of significance.

Some things to know:

  • You’ll be creating your personal blog next week (Monday, Jan. 18) using WordPress. If you have an existing blog, you may use it as long as it meets the course requirements.
  • This blog is a kind of living syllabus. It’ll be the home for assignments, reading responses, student work, and more. If you have questions about what you’re working on, check here first.
  • You’ll need a Twitter account if you don’t already have one – sorry, holdouts. If you’d prefer to keep this separate from an existing personal account, feel free to create a new one for this this class. Our course hashtag is #WVUblogJ. I’ll use it to share course material, and you should be using it too.

Assignment #1: Getting started

Part 1: Pick a topic

Write up the focus of your blog (about a paragraph) and post it as a comment to this post by 10a Wednesday, Jan. 14. Your blog must have a clear MEDIA focus that goes beyond your own opinions – it can’t just be a diary or your movie reviews. To that end, some restrictions:

  • No diaries
  • No cat/dog/cute animal pictures
  • No recipes (yes, I’ve gotten this)
  • No sports, entertainment, fashion/health tips, and so on. You CAN use these subjects if your focus is clearly on their media angle – for example, if you covered issues in sports journalism – but your opinions on the Dallas Cowboys are not relevant here.
  • No pink dragons

Also: Don’t forget to give it a title!

Part 2: Write your first post

Write up a good first post for your first blog, print it out, and bring it to class on Wednesday. You might describe the different arguments being made about a subject relevant to your topic, linking to each. Don’t just list, though. Provide evidence and synthesize something new: What are the bigger themes going one in these posts?

Some more requirements:

  • At least one high-quality link is required in every post for full credit. This means links to CONTENT, not links to Wikipedia, Facebook, or the CNN homepage (yes, I’ve gotten all of these).
  • The key here is to report on the conversation. What’s being said? Can you get at the discussion and tell us something new about it? Use links and evidence strategically – it doesn’t need to be long.
  • Mark links with the URL in brackets, e.g., “Miranda July’s newest novel is getting some good reviews [].”
  • Don’t forget a headline – try to make it something that would catch YOUR interest.

BOTH are due by 10a Wednesday, Jan. 14.