Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Cow's Got Class

Oh how I wish I were dolled up in mascara and pearls and sipping wine.

THAT would be a cow with class.

But nope. I’m taking Topics in Professional Writing at Idaho State University this semester. This blog is an assignment for class. And to get in the blog, there must be a cow suit.

The College Market.
I loved coconut lattes & Italian sodas here
20 years ago with my engineering books.
Now it's an almond milk latte with no flavoring.
I miss coconut & the ability to consume
700 calorie beverages without a second thought.
The assignment is to (in a blog) discuss Ch 3 and 9 from our text. 

Wait. So in a blog? Does that mean I get to disregard virtually all protocol for proper writing and citations? Can I lace the text with my inner most thoughts about anything at all that no one really wants to read on the Internet? Might I dip in and out of first and third person and offer opinions with zero data to back them up? I'm not sure how to merge a class assignment and a blog. This could be an udder disaster.

The New Media Writer
The class text is The New Media Writer by Sean Morey. My verdict is still out on the book, but my first thought is that the choice of green, yellow, and orange for the cover seems old fashioned. They remind me of the 70's avocado, rust and maize which seems misaligned with a text on the latest software and media to produce an array of professional writings. But then...most college students today have no schema for the colors of 70's appliances or shag carpet.

Reading books like this is best at coffee shop tables.
Chapter 3 "Reading Visual Arguments"

The best part of this chapter is the opening paragraph which reminds me what I'm doing with the darn book in the first place. I like reminders, reframing and recaps.

"As mentioned in the preface, this text's primary goal is to have you making your own images for your own rhetorical purposes. However, an understanding of how to 'read' or view other people's images from rhetorical perspectives can help make you a better designer and producer of new media texts."

Most of this chapter and subsequent class discussion reminded me of the marketing classes I took years ago. The content wasn't all that new, but it was blissfully full of reminders, reframing and recaps.

It seems like a lot of my educational content through the years has entailed either snazzy mnemonics or concepts conveyed with shapes.  For instance, I learned the ordering of the planets from the Sun with My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nachos corresponding to Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. I also still visualize the checks and balances triangle representing the three branches of government. This text has followed nicely by introducing me to the rhetorical tetrahedron. (Sigh, I miss coaching the middle school math kids.)

Here's a little animated GIF that the author came up with to illustrate it.

The four faces include the following:
logos: the logic of an argument
pathos: an appeal to one's identity in which most people have an emotional investment
ethos: a writer's credibility
kairos: the timing of when a message is communicated

I was mildly disappointed that the GIF above doesn't include the edge labels that the author discusses in the book which are writer, audience, message, design, medium and genre, but it does offer a pleasant visual as we got started.

This entire chapter encourages the reader to assess visual arguments--ads, internet memes, illustrations, anything other than text that our eyes come across--and identify their elements corresponding to the rhetorical tetrahedron "edges and faces". After we are able to assess them, we'll be equipped to create good ones. Hopefully.

Chapter 9 "Scripts (Writing)"

The best line of this chapter comes on page 267:

"Writing in words has always been an important tool for writing in images, and this chapter will cover the ways that traditional writing can transfer to final outputs, which may not even contain words."

This is my first real look at screenplays. It makes sense to me as it pertains to movies or TV commercials, but our instructor asked us to specifically consider the content for directing or generating a comic, either a single panel or series of them. This was a little new for my cow brain.  I'm not artistic. I've never considered authoring or drawing any kind of comic since the "Design an Ad" contest I was forced to enter in elementary school. After this foray at learning something new, maybe I can try juggling on a unicycle in the homecoming parade.

I read about script formatting, dialogue, narration, storyboards, captions, and instructions as they pertain to movies, plays, commercials and shorts. The example movie script was from The Hangover. (OK. That's kinda fun.)  But, I'm still figuring out how to best apply all of this to a comic. Oh yeah. We have to make a comic. Luckily we'll get some time in class this week to discuss our comic and our scripts with classmates. Also lucky is that this professor touts revising as part of the writing process. I foresee a "Billie's Comic Script, Take 2" in my future.

I read most of this chapter AFTER turning in my comic script. Pft. The hard part in that assignment was choosing a piece of writing to adapt into a comics format, and harder yet, has now become turning off my cow brain to STOP imagining all of my weekly columns and cow blogs as comics. [FADE TO: cow on unicycle with pearls sipping wine.]

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