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Monday, December 08, 2003

First semester of college has been a time of firsts, even including my English class. English 1101 has been a complex course containing information on arguments from Good Reasons, the effects of technology, and blogging. Besides two written papers, the majority of our assignments have been submitted in the form of blogs. Because of the informality of blogs, we were able to focus more on the content of each post versus the grammatical value of the assignment.

We have written on a wide variety of topics throughout this semester ranging from a personal introduction to a visual text to a political blog. The wide selection of material to write on made the class not only more interesting but more fair as well. After reviewing my own blogs and papers from the semester I noticed a general trend that the length and quality of my posts improved as the semester transpired, but overall the best written blogs were about the topics I was most interested in.

This blog is largely focused on communication and technologies including photography, film, and blogging as a whole. This class brought up these topics in a whole new light. Before Professor Tryon connected visual texts with storytelling, I would never have thought of photography, for example, as an effective way to tell a story. By being introduced to new ideas in this class, I have developed new interests and strengthened existing ones.

My passion for photography is well represented as I argue that photography is an effective form of storytelling. In this post I give two examples to support my argument, a personal one and a published one. The fact that I could relate this argument to a personal experience in my life helped me to become more involved with the argument.

I discovered through Rachel Lucas’s blog that pathos is the method of argumentation that is personally most convincing. Lucas writes a political blog in an honest and straight-forward manner. Because she so effectively uses pathos in her arguments, her audience easily loves her or hates her. Her informal manners make her more personable and easier to understand which may also contribute to her efficiency. I became interested in her blog because of her bluntness and use of pathos. She made me feel angry when she was angry and sad when she was sad. Through my own reaction to her blog I discovered what I believe to be the most effective method of arguing.

I surprised myself in my reaction to Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller.� Although the essay was difficult to understand, I strongly disagreed with those parts that I did understand. Through this assignment, I was able to take what I had learned about arguments and disagree with it; I was able to justify my opposition with personal experience. In our class discussion, I quickly learned that some of my classmates disagreed too. This was the first assignment that I was able to disagree with something and use my knowledge of ethos, pathos, and logos to confidently justify my disagreement.

The biggest improvement in my writing is apparent in the difference between my two written papers. In the first paper I wrote about a group-authored, political blog entitled Powerline. When I began my research I was interested in the blog, but started writing the actual paper I realized how little interest I had in the topics that the authors discussed. For the second paper I was more cautious with my topic selection, not only so that my interest would reflect in my paper, but also so that I would enjoy writing the paper more than I did the first. This topic had very few guidelines; we were to write about a visual text, to a specific audience, in a certain amount of words. I chose to write about the French film Amelie, which is also my favorite movie. We were also required to give a short presentation about our papers; my enthusiasm in my presentation not only displayed my love for the film but also how much I enjoyed writing this paper. The grades I received on the two papers demonstrate that there is a definite correlation between the quality of my writing and the interest I have in the topic I am writing about.

Another assignment in this class was a group authored blog which might have been the most educating of all of our assignments. Professor Tryon assigned us groups of four or five. We had to decide on a topic and blog about it for five weeks. My group decided to write about comedy movies. We all had different ideas of the definition of a good comedy, and this is mostly what we blogged about. By reading my group members blogs, I was able to find a whole new appreciation for humor that I never understood or I just did not understand. Being grouped with four extremely different people helped to make this an effective project, but also having kept individual blogs helped us develop our argumentative styles which are the basis for how much I learned from this blog.

I have learned more in English 1101 than I ever anticipated learning. I learned from Professor Tryon, my classmates, our readings, and also myself. Professor Tryon has an amiable way of making his lectures a class discussion. He is the exact opposite of intimidating which made the class not only easier to understand but more enjoyable as well. My classmates have taught me through our class discussions, their personal blogs, and our interaction with the group blogs. The readings have taught me more than I knew there was to know about arguments. I now know effective, sophisticated ways to prove a point and remain credible. I also learned from myself; I impressed myself with my ability to keep an open mind in arguments, with my usage of all available resources, and with the progress my writing has made through the semester.
Jignesh Shah, Raghav Kohli, Johnny Elton, Y-Thao Truong, and Xin Guo's group blog about college food is a great guide for knowing where and where not to eat around Georgia Tech. This blog is so diverse because the five different tastes and situations.
The diversity of the students working on this blog can contribute to the success of the blog. Jignesh is a vegitarian, as am I, and he focuses on the availibility of vegitarian meals at different restaurants, dining halls, and in the student center. Y-Thao and Xin do not have meal plans so they focus on how they satisfy their hunger without the convenience of the dining halls. Most freshman, especially those on Freshman Experience, can most easily relate to Johnny and Raghav because they have meal plans and are not limited to any certain diet restrictions.
The set-up of this blog is extremely effective because although it is a group authored blog, all the blogs by one author are grouped together. I also liked how the group rated each restaurant because it gave a general idea of if the place was enjoyable or not.
This blog also offers information like location, websites, and even pictures. This is enticing because it allows those who read the blog to enjoy and experience the food that the students are talking about. I really enjoyed reading this blog and would definitely rely on it for restaurant suggestions.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Tara McPherson brings up very many interesting qualities about the internet in her article "Reloaded."

McPherson specifies that television is a constant, with regular commercial breaks and a specific order. In contrast the internet has little order. The same shows that can be viewed on television can be viewed online, in any order, at any time, and with or without commercials WHILE a person is shopping or researching or doing another online task.

McPherson claims that by using the internet obsessively like many do, that people are becoming databases themselves. Because people are picking up random facts or just searching aimlessly for an interesting read, they are simply becoming databases for random information they pick up. I find this interesting because I am guilty of randomly searching the web for something interesting to read, but I do not consider myself a database. When I look over the internet, it is similar to flipping through a magazine or a library FULL of magazines with infinite amounts of information. Would this classify a librarian as a database?

McPherson notes that the use of search engines puts a limit on the amount of information that a person can access. Search engines are limited to only a small percentage of what is really posted on the web. By using certain search engines is one confining himself as a certain type of user? Does this help characterize people online? Because I might use one search engine and my friend might use another, are we giving ourselves, our identities as databases, classifications or character?

Monday, November 03, 2003

Roland Barthes defends many points in his book Camera Lucida including that that a picture is not a person, and does not do a person justice. He talks about posing and how a pose does not represent the person as a whole, just that person POSING for that picture for that second. He feels as if he becomes an image rather than a person.

I do not really think that one becomes an image in a picture. I think that a photograph simply captures a person at a certain instance. Just because it may not represent every quality of a person does not mean it makes that person simply an image.

Barthes also says that photography is "unclassifiable;" however, photography can be classified in multiple ways, as art, memories, and documentation. Photography can capture the beauty in an object or a person and be classified as art. A collection of photos can be bound and kept as a memory from a vacation or outing. Historians use photos to document events that can be looked back on as references. Photography is difficult to classify but that does not make it "unclassifiable."

Barthes raises valid points and valid arguments; however as photography becomes more and more common, it is a better source of information, art, and documentation as ever before.

Friday, October 31, 2003

The American Memory Project is an attempt to salvage early films. Because of the wear and tear over time, the film has become grainy and difficult to view, but through digital technology we are beginning to save these early documentations of societal interests.

Early films, similar to modern films, were created with the interest of the audience in mind. Many of the films I viewed in the American Memory Project archives had something to do with execution which seemed apparently popular with the people, or maybe it is just another way of documenting the event. The execution of McKinley's assassin correlates to the fascination that society had with electrocution. Although these films are sometimes difficult to see, they do give us insight into events of the time period and the interests of the people.

It is interesting to see these primal films with there limited camera angle and choppy movement. In comparison to modern films these early films are very unimpressive; however for the amount of technology that this era had, these films are actually quite respectable. For example, the film we viewed in glass with the ghost who came out of the clock. In order to make the ghost look like he was painting the subject very quickly, the film was played in reverse and really the ghost was painting OVER the already-painted subject. This tactic was extremely creative, effective, and entertaining.

Monday, October 20, 2003

The High Museum of Art is appealing to a wide variety of people. The museum keeps a permanent collection and filters through other temporary exhibits to keep things interesting and appease a wider audience.
The way in which art is organized can affect the way it is viewed or who views it. The permanent collection at the High is organized in a spacious, free manor which allows for roaming and wandering and not a strict path. Other of the exhibits seemed to have a structured setup that took away much of the appeal for me. I enjoyed being able to wander in the permanent collection without having to be told exactly which piece to go to next.
On the High's website you can view many of the paintings that are on display in the museum. I decided to look at these before I went. I picked a few paintings that I studied the online replica and the real piece in the museum. There was an obvious difference in viewing the piece through the computer and in person. In person I was able to see many details that went easily unnoticed when i viewed them online.
The Richard Meier exhibit was also very fascinating because there is no comparison to viewing three dimensional architectural pieces online and in the flesh. This exhibit was so incredible to me because it made me look at the pieces differently to be able to appreciate them for both useful tools and art; however, I really felt that I was able to see the art in practical things like furniture.

Friday, October 10, 2003

For my second paper I plan on writing about the film Amelie. This French film uses color and visual aspects to communicate with the audience. The scarcity of oral communication accentuates the visual appeal of the film.
I will have to go back and watch the film a few more times because I do not speak French; however, I will put up English subtitles at least one of the times that I watch it.
Few of my friends enjoyed the movie as much as I did because it was frustrating to have to concentrate on both the visual aspects of the movie while reading the subtitles. I've seen the movie four times and only once did I use the subtitles. The cinematography is just incredible. I have never been one to appreciate films until I saw this movie.
There is so much more than just the plot of the movie. This film has hidden clues and added parts throughout the movie. The wonderful thing about the movie is that all of the added hidden charm is in the visual aspects of the film, so even those who don't speak French are able to enjoy it.

Friday, October 03, 2003

My blogger is making me insanely mad because it won't publish my links that I've included, so I'll just write out their urls for you because they are wonderful...
Michael Abbott website is www.mabot.com
and the sundial picture that is my favorite is www.mabot.com/paw02/wk13.html.
I love photography. However cliche it might be, the statement, "a picture can say a thousand words" is completely valid.
I've always enjoyed taking pictures of my friends as my dorm room demonstrates. I would take pictures at events or just randomly whenever I had my camera. Late in high school I got the opportunity to travel to Europe a few times. In Europe I began to take scenic pictures. These scenic pictures told the story of my trips to my parents and friends when I returned. My mom has never been to Europe so instead of having to explain a building, a sunset, or a culture, I could take a picture of it and share my experience with her that way.
I still did not have a full appreciation for photography until I stumbled upon Michael Abbott's website . His website not only has pictures from trips he has taken, but it also has a "photo-a-week" section. Each week Michael would post am interesting picture online. The amazing this about this project is that the pictures are often just regular pictures, but somehow these "regular" pictures take on a new meaning when they are published here. If I were to view these pictures in the regular set with which they were taken, I doubt I would look twice at many of them, but when published alone, out of context, they become a story in themselves. My absolute favorite is simply a series of pictures taken at different times to get different lighting, but when placed in the order that Michael has put them, they become as he says "A found sundial: the view from my office window." I envy the way photographers can view the world through a lens twenty-four hours a day. I wish I were able to sum up a day, an hour, or just a beautiful moment in the same manner that, for example, Michael Abbott seems to.
Photographers are "picture-storytellers." My oldest sister got married in May of this year. The whole weekend seemed magical but so overwhelming that I was excited when the picture came back. After viewing the photo album, I got to be so much more a part of the wedding. I was able to see how the groom's party spent the morning of the wedding. I got to see the pictures taken of my sister and her husband on the beach that night when they mysteriously went missing for half and hour. Photography is a wonderful method of storytelling because it includes people that may not have been there, it allows for easy editing by removing certain photos, and with the addition of often just a few words, one or just a few photos can become equal to a three-hundred page novel.

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