Are Google Glasses Rose-colored?

As the semester nears an end and everyone is busy with final projects, it’s hard to wind down and relax. When I do take short breaks, however, I find myself seeking comfort stimuli: pictures of baby animals, sweet and salty snacks, and funny YouTube videos.

To whoever is still reading this, I’m sure you’re like the rest of us — busy, busy, busy. If you don’t have time to read more, I encourage you to at least watch the video below. It’s short and funny. Credit goes to Machinima ETC, Feb. 2013.

Okay. So now to the somewhat educational part of this post. While the parody above was pretty silly, it also brought up some important concerns about Google Glass.

Maintaining relationships — will Google Glass distract people from face-to-face social interactions?

Cheating in school — will Google Glass facilitate cheating on exams in school?

Recording copyright material — will Google Glass make it easier for people to steal?

Pranking people — will Google Glass provide people who take pranks to the extreme a new medium to bully?

Compromising privacy — will Google Glass raise even more privacy concerns in this Internet age?

Multitasking too much — will Google Glass be a hazardous multitasking tool?

When I heard about working with Google Glass for class in the beginning of the semester, I was really excited to be able to test this new product. As I’m thinking more about the multimodal project and Google Glass in general, it seems important to consider how problematic Google Glass can be. I believe Google Glass has some remarkable features that invites positive-user outcomes, but as I continue my research, I will also try to think about the possible negative outcomes that come along with the whole package. The lesson seems to be that when excitement over something new obscures reality, it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses.

Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion

As I was trying to come up with a topic for this week’s “choose-your-own” post, I tried to think about something that has been relevant in all my writing classes this semester. What has appeared over and over is Aristotle’s three persuasive appeals: ethos, logo, and pathos. Whoever is reading now has probably already heard about these appeals once, twice, or maybe too many times to count, but I find it interesting how they are always applicable to writing, so they are worth mentioning over and over again.

Ethos — the appeal to credibility and authority

Logos — the appeal to logic and reasoning 

Pathos — the appeal to emotions 

Whether it’s for a print document, something online, a presentation, and so on, these rhetorical appeals should often be considered when creating something to persuade an audience to do something. In my science writing course, I’ve had to consider the appeal in the articles I’ve analyzed. Are the stories clutching at my emotions or are they convincing me with their scientific evidence and credibility? In my visual rhetoric course, I have to ask myself how images are persuading the reader to do something. Is it ethos, logos, or pathos? Is it a combination?

From my limited experience in becoming more aware of these rhetorical strategies, I’ve noticed that many articles seem to really rely on pathos (emotions) and ethos (credibility). For example, with the LSS class project, I’ve definitely considered incorporating the appeals within the project, with special emphasis on pathos since LSS seems motivated by its emotional drive to reach out to the greater community.

When I look back at assignment topics I’ve chosen or interests I’ve pursued, I feel like I’m mostly interested in pathos, which leads me to think I may have a bit of a bias toward that appeal. I think this is good to be aware of so that I can check myself in order to balance the appeals to the audience’s needs and not my own. From what I’ve noticed so far is that many great pieces of work have a combination of the appeals, and some even have all three.

However, as many of us know, how something is written is often determined by what the content and purpose is and vice versa. For example, if I were to write a manual on putting out a fire, I probably wouldn’t make it into a lengthy book that makes the reader feel all sorts of emotions. However, if the material was on a heartfelt memoir about a retired firefighter, then pathos is most likely welcome and encouraged.

I think Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals also cross over to my internship. For example, the purpose, audience, and appeals the material has, need to be considered within a publishing house when pitching, creating, and selling a book. Publishing, as I have been discovering little by little, is much more complicated than I thought. Maybe I can write more about this next time.

As I continue to write, whether it’s for school or work, I will refer back to my rhetorical toolbox and perhaps see ethos, logos, and pathos on the top shelf.

 

Professional / personal learning network

For this week, everyone in class revised their PLN from earlier in the semester. In my first PLN, I just tried to lay out all of my connections in my map, but for this one, I focused on potential career paths according to my past experiences and interests. Some of the contacts listed are ones I already have connections with, while others are ones I may want to become connected to in the future.

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I chose to use Text2MindMap again because I didn’t want to sign up to use Coggle, at least not now. I was actually trying to see if I could use Word Document’s SmartArt to create a visual that could better depict how each of my networks overlap instead of just being separate branches. However, I came across some trouble formatting and organizing in Word, so I went with Text2MindMap.

While I was making a new map, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could custom design some things, like the color, font, and the size of the connecting lines. I can’t remember if I saw these options during my first PLN draft, but I’m glad I’ve been able to change some things to my preference. For example, I made all the groupings relatively the same color, except for the main title. Since my career paths all seem to include writing in some way, I chose to keep those groups in blue, and the student affairs group is purple since it’s sort of the odd one out. The other design choice I did was to place the networks that I am already in contact with closest to the group title, like the UMN Press close to the Publishing title, and the organizations that I would perhaps want to become connected to are further away, like the MCPA of the Student Affairs group.

 

Working for a non-profit organization

  • Client – Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota 

Since I am not very familiar with LSS’ services and history, I often have to remind myself about their outreach across the state and what they strive to accomplish. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) is a large non-profit organization that provides services to youth experiencing challenges in their lives, people with disabilities, and older adults who may benefit from extra assistance. LSS serves in all of Minnesota’s counties, and it is one of the largest Minnesota statewide human service organizations in Minnesota.

  • Purpose – Host Homes for Youth

The purpose of my group’s project is to attract people into becoming a host home provider for youth by creating online content for LSS’ website. Host homes are temporary, safe places for people to stay who may be going through a difficult time in their life. Although this may sound simple, my group and I have had trouble sorting out the wide array of services LSS’ offers, especially since we were initially given very little detail about host homes for youth.

  • Audience – Active community member

From looking at profiles of people who have already become host home providers on the LSS website and from interviews the with current host home providers, I am able to understand the likely audience, but I think there is definitely more information that should be acquired. My group had trouble getting a lot of information, if any, from the interviews, so we ended up using a lot from the one interview I conducted. However, based on the current information from online and the interviews, I can say the likely audience is someone who desires giving back to the community, who has connections with human service programs, and who is between the ages of 35 to 65. To be safe, I think it should be assumed that the target audience is not completely web literate because this approach may help include everyone, no matter their web literacy. A web design that is simple but also professional-looking seems like the best way to go.

  • Brand and Messaging Guide – Style Matters

I have found the brand and messaging guide from LSS really useful as I have started creating potential content for host homes for youth. For example, instead of saying “homeless youth” it is preferred to say, “youth experiencing homelessness.” I have used style guides for assignments in different classes, but I like how I am working with a real client, using their guide as a model.

  • Personal Progress – Strengths

I think my strengths in this group project so far have been organization, communication, and editing. Since early high school, I’ve always been one to organize notes and information because it helps me become familiar with the material as well as to see what I may be missing. I consider myself an introvert, so reaching out to people can be difficult for me, but since entering college, I’ve realized the heavy role communication plays in school, work, and personal relationships, so I do my best to get out of my comfort zone and try to make sure everyone is on the same page. In terms of editing, I enjoy making suggestions and corrections that improve the message to the reader and suits a certain style guide, so I don’t mind copy-editing and proofing work.

It’s been tough organizing the LSS information and communicating with everyone involved with this project, especially with the relatively short time frame we have been given. However, I am happy to see some of the work fitting together, and my goal is to just provide LSS with useful suggestions and models for them to continue improving and referring to in the long-term.

Code editing thoughts

This week’s post may be shorter than the previous ones because I haven’t had much opportunity to dig into the code of my blog. WordPress may allow more control if you pay for the premium upgrade. Hannah’s recent blog post nicely discusses in more detail about this caveat. For the purposes of this short-term blog (at least I think it will be), I don’t plan to pay the fee. Perhaps I will upgrade sometime in the future with a new blog.

If I were to change my current blog, I would definitely want to move my widget items from the right side to the left side, since that seems to be the norm in most websites. I like staying consistent, if possible. I would also probably try to make the header circle bigger so my photo under the word, “Connecting, Creating, Changing” could be bigger. It would also be awesome to have my posts in more of a grid formation than stacked on top of each other, so it would be easier to display the collection of posts.

In any case, I plan to work more with code when I find the time. My progress has been small because of being so busy, but even if I don’t find the time until winter break, I hope to feel more comfortable with coding terms and design before I graduate, even if I don’t become an expert.

I will probably rely on Codecademy’s free tutorials because their style is really interactive and visually captivating. I may also take advantage of w3schools because their lessons are really simple, but I feel it may be too easy to just copy and paste their information and not actually learn it. Lastly, I think I’ll keep Khan Academy on hold as a great resource to use if needed, but for now, there’s way too much information going on since “you can learn anything you want.” If I want to just focus on coding, I feel better using a site that just focuses on coding.

A story of digital storytelling

Almost three years ago, I was enrolled in Digital Storytelling at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) with one of the best professors I have ever had. At that time, I was interested in journalism, and I loved creating feature stories. However, I didn’t want to limit myself to journalism, so I decided to explore other paths in English, Technical Writing and Communication, and Asian Languages and Literatures. Now it’s my senior year, and I have some big decisions coming up. Perhaps I’ll return to journalism, but for now, I’ll just try to give an overview of one of my past digital storytelling assignments.

Enter, the buddy project. I interviewed and featured one of my journalism classmates at UMD and made a story about his role as a mechanic at a bowling alley. Each of us were paired up and were supposed to make about a 2:00 min video about something the classmate did, whether it was work, volunteering, or a hobby. It was a lot of fun! See the video below:

Since the class was centered on journalism, we used many of the journalistic styles of writing and video-making. For example, anecdotal quotes from the person being interviewed as well as getting b-roll, like a background shot, and action of them doing something they were talking about was super important for telling the story. (As I’m writing this, I realize how long I can talk about what was involved with this project. I’ll try to just mention the really important things).

For starters, I came up with a few interview questions as a guideline, then set up a good time to interview and follow my classmate around at his job. Before interviewing, I had to set up my camera and adjust its settings. I used a Canon T3i DSLR, which was borrowed from the university. I’m saddened to say that I have forgotten a lot of the controls because basically, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Once the camera angle was set, using the “Rule of Thirds” guideline, I started the interview by making it more of a conversation than a strict Q&A. If he said something I wanted to know more about, I would ask questions that weren’t on my sheet. Many good follow-up questions are just, why and how, because they allow the interviewee to just talk from their perspective instead of me swaying them to say something interesting.

After the interview, I asked if I could get some footage of him doing his job. From time to time, I’d also have him talk into the microphone to describe what he was doing. When the field work was done, I went home, reviewed the material, and came up with a script. Then, it was the computer work. I used the campus computers because I didn’t want to purchase my own Adobe Premier Pro software, which we used for video editing. I learned to use the video editor by my instructor’s handout as well as just experimenting on my own. I may have also used Audacity to focus specifically on audio, which was the first component I edited together. Once my audio sounded uniform and smooth, I began to choose the video to go along with the story.

When I was satisfied with everything put together, I rendered and uploaded the video. I can’t remember exactly, but the whole project took more than ten hours, and I ended with almost a 2:00 min video! I have a whole new appreciation for video making, even if the professionals are probably ten times faster than me. In the end, this experience was one of my favorite assignments, and I learned many of the complexities of digital storytelling.

Photo essay: Study abroad in China

During the summer of 2014, I studied Mandarin Chinese in Beijing, China for 8 weeks. I’ll never forget this trip because I learned much more than the language I was being taught. I learned how to appreciate foreign culture, how to travel internationally, and how to navigate China as a Chinese American, to name a few. I’m happy to share more about my trip in the photo essay below.

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Anyang, China 2014

This first photo was taken in Anyang, China, a city I visited during my study abroad trip. After about an hour or longer of climbing the Wang Xiangyan Mountain in Taihang Canyon, we came across this spiraling staircase, which was probably two-thirds the way up the mountain. When I was climbing, I had one hand tightly clutching my over-the-shoulder purse and another hand firmly on the rail. I looked down maybe once or twice, but only for a brief second. It was a great achievement when I finally reached the top. Some of the students in the group chose to wait at the bottom, where there was a pretty waterfall to play in. I think this photo is a great representation of overcoming my fear of not only climbing this spiraling stair case but also of traveling to China. I was adopted from China when I was two and half years old, so I was afraid that returning to my birth country for the first time may be too emotional. Looking back, I would do it all over again.

 

Leighton Xiamen 1996

Xiamen, China 1996

Here’s a photo of my dad, mom, brother, and me when I was adopted in 1996 from Xiamen, China. My birth city is in southern, China, which I didn’t have a chance to visit during my study abroad trip, but I plan to visit the city sometime in the future. I made sure to focus mostly on my studies in Beijing , so when I make a trip back to my birth city, I hope I can really reflect on my adoption then.

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Beijing, China 2014 [Right: my Chinese roommate. Center: a fellow student from Texas. Left: the Texas student’s Chinese roommate]

The photo above is one of my favorites from my study abroad experience.The student from Texas (center) and I made “spaghetti and toast” for our Chinese roommates. They do not often eat this cuisine, so we were delighted to treat them to dinner. They had often cooked Chinese food for us when we were busy studying. I love how this photo shows how our cultures can be shared by good food and company, which is one of the most memorable things about being in China for me.

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Beijing, China 2014

 

Lastly, this photo of me was taken by a lake filled with lotus flowers at the Summer Palace in Beijing. This photo was taken close to the end of my program, so I think it’s a great piece to remember whenever I look back at my photos. Although Beijing was an enormous city, with bustling traffic, there were also some very serene spots that made you take a breath and appreciate the world. When I look at this photo, I can remember my amazing experiences in China as well as look to the future for more incredible opportunities.

 

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Photo essay comments: I chose to focus on my study abroad experience since it’s still very fresh in my memory, and it was a huge decision and accomplishment in my life. It seems ironic that looking back, I often most enjoyed the time in China when I was in nature, either hiking or gazing at lily ponds, and here I am now, writing this story, on a couch, with my laptop, in the city. Of course, this photo essay is just a tiny part of my time in China. I found it interesting that when I was creating this post, I could attach more meaning to some of the photos than I perhaps thought about when the photo was taken. I think it will be important to consider what images represent right away to a viewer versus what it represents upon further inspection whenever creating writing material that includes images. Additionally, connecting images together in a narrative and being mindful of audience is also very important when using text and images together.

As always, thanks for reading!