140 Character Stories

Twitter is such an interesting device. I use it, mainly, to follow friends and favorite authors of mine. Among them is Maureen Johnson, YA author and resident silly-person. She actively fights for gender equality and basic human rights, as well as posting silly pictures of her puppy, Zelda.

She’s one of the main reasons I stay and visit Twitter often.

And when I had to contact a professional in the field, I figured it should be her. So I did!

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I haven’t heard back. But I’m still hopeful!

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Technology and the Future of Writing – Prezi

I made a Prezifor our class. Below, is the narrative!

The auto advance should be at 10 seconds, but it doesn’t sync with the prezi after the second “slide”. It goes to the Bolter slide too early and I was unsure of how to fix it without having to  upload multiple recordings and make it so that it went along with each path.

Once upon a time, there was a princess. The princess had a story to tell about her cat, so she had a scribe come to the castle. She told him her story and he wrote it down and gave it to the bards so they could sing the story to the whole kingdom. Today, that princess has access to Facebook, Twitter and blogging sites like WordPress or Weebly. So when she wants to get the story of her cat out into the world, she can pick and choose any medium she wants.

So how do we survive in the world wide web where we have dozens of choices for writing technologies? The trick is that there’s no need to survive. We’re doing better than we ever have before in terms of publishing our stories. With millions of books and stories published annually, we’ve come a long way since the days of scribes and bards; the literacy rate has taken huge leaps in the last few centuries. As J.D. Bolter states in his article “Writing As Technology”, “…oral poetry is no more natural than writing, just as writing with pen and paper is no more natural, no less technological, than writing on a computer screen….It is not the complexity of the devices that matters so much as the technical or literate frame of mind.”

Bibliophiles will argue to their final breath over whether the printed book is superior to the ebook or not. But when it comes to getting a story, a message, or a lesson out into the world, what does it matter? When someone has something to say, they’ll find a way to get it out to others through any means necessary. So when a princess wants to talk about the silly thing her cat did, what does it matter if she calls the scribe or opens up Facebook? If Facebook gets the message out quicker and easier, it’s clearly the best choice.

So wouldn’t that make her her own scribe? Wouldn’t that, in turn, make every person who has ever posted to Facebook or WordPress a writer? That answer is yes. Our technologies are changing, literacy is becoming more and more prevalent in the world, so the definition of a “writer” changes too. Not everyone who uses Facebook or runs their own blog gets paid, but then again, not everyone who publishes their own book gets paid either.

No one can deny that things are different now in the reading world than they were ten, twenty and even thirty years ago. “On the Go” meant something completely different in the 20th century than it does now. Who would have thought that I could check my email, read the latest news articles, learn that we’re out of milk while I walked to my next class, all on the same device that weighs less than five ounces? I can buy and download five new books in under 2 minutes while stuck in traffic on the interstate. I can check any updates from any websites that I like through services like Zite or  Feedly. I can save things to read later with the Pocket app; I can share it all with Twitter. It feels like anything is possible now. And who knows what we’ll be able to accomplish in another twenty years?

Technology: What will they come up with next?

I made a Prezi, which for those who don’t know is a PowerPoint, but just a little more entertaining for my class.

The entire project provided background on what I think writing has come and changed to. Throughout the class we had to make Twitter accounts, for those who didn’t have them, and put it to use. I’ve always heard about Twitter and how useful it was but never took the time to find out for myself. This class has introduced me to a whole different world and I am thankful I’ve had the chance to do so. Here’s a sample of the things discussed within my Prezi.

-We as a society sometimes cannot handle the amount of access we have when it comes to information  and writing through technology. Technology is growing and slowly changing our meaning of what the definition of writing is to us.

-Throughout the years we’ve seen writing as something hand-written on a piece of paper or something that could be transferred through a type writer.

-Now-a-days our technology has taken over and replaced, in a sense, these old techniques into something most of us find much for complicated, but easier quicker and more useful.

-We came from old techniques such as going to the local library looking through many books in order to find certain information that you are looking for …

…Now simply going to the internet on either your computer at home or your cell phone and looking up information on your topic and having access to anything that relates to that particular thing.

-This fact that technology is growing has advanced our research techniques as well as ways to connect to people.

-We now have these things called social networks. I was not aware that we have as many social networks as we do. Some of which consists of : Facebook, Zite, Primastic,Twitter, FourSquare Linkedin,and many many more.

-I believe their goal was to create a community into specific topics, which are the ones we research, while connecting their social networks. This is a sort of message Nardi & O’Day express in their article “Information Ecologies.” The idea that participants of an information ecology can establish the identity and place of the technologies that are found there.

-We also now have places we can store these articles or information we have gotten a hold of for our pieces. Instead of notepads and voice recordings we have programs such as Storify or Feedly.

 What will they come up with next?! I will admit I am a little scared, but at the same time excited about what else can come from what we already have.

Tweets to/from Literary Agents

On February 15, 2014, I tweeted at 15 different Literary Agents/Agencies, asking “What is the best background to have if I want to become a literary agent?” 13 ignored me. The two who responded to me, Jessica Faust from Book Ends and Red Sofa Literary, were helpful and also short.

Jessica Faust answered my question point blank with the advice to get an internship at a publishing company. When I asked where Book Ends was located she just said New Jersey. Book Ends‘ website also only lists “New Jersey” but does not say where.

Red Sofa Literary, however, tweeted back many times and eventually gave me the website bookjobs.com, where I could find not only jobs in publishing but also internships.

Evolution of writing: from paper to digital

Throughout my class: the future of writing in technology, I have learned many valuable pieces of information about not only writing itself but being a writer. By learning about the history of writing and how it’s been shared, I have learned about the impact writing really has on people. I have also learned about what a writer means and how it has changed over time. What I’ve learned and my opinion on the future of writing and writers can be found in my prezi that I’ve created.

Twitter as an educational tool!

While browsing through my news feed on twitter, I have noticed a lot of teachers that I have followed, posting incredible articles and ideas that I can use in my future classroom, and I have really enjoyed this part of twitter. I’ve always thought of using Google to come up with creative ideas for my future classroom, but never twitter. I have been told by many teachers that you will find your best ideas from other teachers and their classrooms. Twitter has now opened up a whole new venue for me to find ideas and information on things I can use in my future classroom. One person who’s tweets I was drawn to specifically was Charlotte Murphy, who is a teacher in Dubai. Her tweets are always about using and encouraging creativity and technology in the classroom, which I am a fan of as well. One specific tweet I saw after browsing through her page that I was interested in was one where she posted about an article that discussed different ways to look at intelligence. Many different ways were discussed, and they are all important for a teacher and especially someone like myself who is planning to become a teacher in the near future. It is important for the teacher to understand each child and their intelligence and what in their life has contributed to their intelligence. I have tweeted her, but unfortunately she has not answered me.  This may be because of how busy teachers are on a regular basis, and that’s understandable. I was very happy, however, with the information and ideas I found on her page and many other educator’s pages.

Twitter!! Something I Never Thought About

When it came to Twitter I was never a fan. Many of my friends tried to convince me to get an account and join the world of Twitter, but in my eyes it was just something else to add to my addiction list. When I thought of Twitter it was always just the thought that I can connect with my friends and see what they are up to.

It was not until entering this module of Intro to Writing Arts that I seen what Twitter was “good” for. I had a chance to see how it can benefit me with my future. I began to follow other educators as well as websites that gave me more information about the world and anything about education. For example, I seen a post by We Are Teachers that read:

#PreK to 2 Teachers: Take a dance break and teach #firesafety at the same time with @Stevesongs http://owl.li/u1htP  #edchat #earlyed

As soon as I took a look at this post I was engaged and knew it was something I could use for my future students considering that I want to be an Elementary School teacher. I was able to views lots of profiles from educators or article websites; although I’ve tried to contact a couple of them and they have not responded. I notice that they are posting things all day and may not be able to take the time out contact me back, which is okay.

Without the knowledge that I’ve gained within this classroom about Twitter there is no way I would be able to use these great ideas that others have to include in my classrooms.

Sochi and the Sexism Olympics

In a tweet Yesiris  posted a few days ago, she linked to an article about the screen time between male athletes and female athletes in the Sochi Winter Olypmics. It’s the Olympics! What better way to show off how great every country is by showcasing our most talented athletes in everything they do! Oh wait, except they don’t show us every athlete. While TV’s primetime only lasts for so long during the day, cable networks are stretched for the amount of coverage you can give to each event. That’s all fine and dandy, but in the article, it’s said that men receive almost twice the amount of screen time that women do!

I know what you must be thinking. “But more men probably compete!/Men are more likely to win and bring home medals!/They’re stronger and better suited for sports!/It’s a man’s game!” WEEOOOWEEEOO. That’s my sexist alarm. In 2008, 42% of all athletes were women. That was in 2008. In 2012? 44%. Women brought home 58 medals that year (29 of them were golds!)– which was more than what men ended up winning in London. The gender gap between athletes has gotten much smaller since women were first able to compete in the 1900 Olympics, where only 22 women competed in total.  That’s quite a jump.

But what’s so wrong about the screen time female athletes do receive? Other than it being much less than what men receive (who are not only televised while they’re competing but they also have a higher chance of being interviewed and able to talk about their performance afterward), when women compete, it’s usually in the more “socially acceptable” sports for women – i.e., figure skating. (Which, even then, according to the article, men received 2/3rds of the total screen time for figure skating than women.) But there’s also a problem with the way the commentators react to the women competing. NBC commentators would refer to the women in the skiing halfpipe as “girls”, but all the men would be referred to as “men” or by name. When in regards to other sports women competed in, they were said to be doing that and “all of that while in a Lycra suit, maybe a little bit of makeup—now that is grace under pressure.” As if women’s sole purpose in the Games are to be visually appealing and not kickass and victorious in their sport.

Image credit to Matt’s Gifs

So why the sexism, friends? Why not give half the screen time to women, especially if they make up half the athletes? Why not show off wonderful athletes in their element and focus on their technique, execution and effort put into perfecting it?

Religion and Gender Roles

In Samantha Eyler’s article, “Why I Had to Lose My Religion Before I Could Support Gender Equality”, she talks about how she was taught, as a child, to conform to rigorous gender roles. She, as a woman born into her fundamentalist religion, was to remain quiet and subordinate. That sort of brainwashing worked for her for 16 years. It wasn’t until she went off to college and devoured religion and philosophy courses and other holy books and scriptures, did she realize where her religion went wrong.

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She realized that her personal values and her religion’s morals didn’t line up. Why should she, someone who wanted to be a doctor or a senator, have to remain on the sidelines and do nothing except what her husband wished? Her tale of finding herself and then wanting to find religion all over again is near and dear to my heart.

I’ve been brought up in a strictly Catholic household. In Poland, where my parents are from, religion is the biggest and most important thing in everyone’s lives. At least, in my family. So when my parents came across the Atlantic, they brought their strict morals and guidelines from their religion with them. As a child, I followed along. I didn’t know any better, right? Maybe my faith started to break when I was told by my instructor in CCD that because I was a girl, I couldn’t be a pastor. I wanted to talk about my love for God and the love God had for me to people all the time. I wanted to share the word of God with people, so why shouldn’t I be able to be a pastor?

I started noticing the inequalities in my religion throughout high school but I would never be able to outright call them straight gender inequalities until I came to college myself. It angered me to see my religion treat women, who are just as devout as men, the way that they did. I wouldn’t stand for the hypocrisies I had been spoon fed since I was little. So I called off my religion. I stopped going to church, I stopped praying. I adopted the idea that if I led a good life and did good unto others, then I’d be okay. If I needed to talk to God, or gods or any other higher being, I could and I didn’t have to limit myself to the rituals of the Catholic church. I want to be able to do good in the world not because my religion has told me to, but because it’s the right thing to do.

And it may have torn a rift in my family, but there are much worse things to tear families apart than differing views on a religion or wanting to be treated as an equal.