Liza Potts on CHAT and NexUX

Our very own Liza Potts recently made a mark in North Carolina. After leading a workshop for NCSU PhD students in the CRDM program (Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media), she gave a plenary talk for both the CHAT festival and the NexUX festival.

The talk addressed WRAC’s new B.A. Program in Experience Architecture and Potts’ research on UX and disaster. “That was a great experience, because it brought together scholars working in the Digital Humanities as well as user experience designers and researchers working in user experience (UX) and human-computer interaction (HCI).” said Potts.

Live Unapologetically

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Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 4.02.01 PMStop apologizing, start accepting, embrace your beauty, and take part in the movement. This past summer (2013), two grad students, Katie Manthey and Rachel Seiderman, had the opportunity to experience an internship, and became part of an important movement known as, The Body Is Not An Apology (TBINAA). This is an online activist organization founded by Sonya Taylor. The Body Is Not An Apology is a GLOBAL movement focused on radical self-love and body empowerment. This movement encourages women to own their beauty, love their scars, and accept their appearance no matter shape, size or color. As women we need to stop being beholden to the beauty that society has labeled acceptable, and live comfortably with what we are blessed with.

On February 9, 2011, Sonya wrote a Facebook status following a picture of herself in a black corset. She posted this picture to make it clear that she defines what’s sexy.“In this picture I am 230lbs.  In this picture, I have stretch marks and an unfortunate decision in the shape of a melting Hershey’s kiss on my left thigh.  I am smiling, like a woman who knows you’re watching and likes it. For this one camera flash, I am unashamed, unapologetic.” This was the status that started the movement, ever since many women have taken part of the movement in various ways, such as posting pictures, writing statuses, and even interning to demonstrate that they are living unapologetically.

Katie Manthey, a 4th year PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing with a concentration in cultural rhetorics, chose this summer internship, because she wanted an opportunity to make a difference. Katie stated that she had been a Facebook follower of TBINAA for awhile, and had been presenting on feminist issues around the body at conferences, and was excited about the opportunity to write for a mainstream audience. As content intern, one of Katie’s responsibilities were to provide two weeks of blog posts. Her blogs had to be original, and related to the theme of the week. When writing these pieces she had a specific audience to consider, which were Tumblr and Facebook.

Rachel Seiderman, a 2nd year MA student in Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing with a concentration in fat activism/acceptance, discovered TBINAA through a spoken word poem on YouTube. Moved by Sonya’s piece, Rachel started following TBINAA on Facebook, and when the call for interns was posted, she knew it was the perfect summer internship. Rachel also held the title content intern, but her duties were slightly different from Katie’s. She was responsible for generating original content for TBINAA’s Tumblr, making suggestions for reblogs, and also providing images to be posted on the Facebook page. Continue reading

The Internet: Chopped & Screwed

A few years ago the Internet was introduced as a dial-up service, and it was an irrelevant tool that very few people had access to. Today, the Internet has become a requirement for communication and is accessible on any device in many places around the world. Corporate self-indulgence and the government has allowed the Internet to go from vibrant center of the new economy to burgeoning tool of economic control. Companies such as AT&T and Comcast have announced early this year that they plan to close and control the Internet through additional fees. The Verge expresses four simple ideas as to why the Internet is f**ked: 1) the Internet is a utility, 2) there is no real competition to provide Internet, 3) all Internet providers should be treated equally, and 4) the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to play a more effective role.

The Internet can be considered a utility, just like water and electricity. The difference between an electricity  bill and the Internet is that the Internet offers web-hosting solutions and search screens as evidence that they’re actually providing information. There is no need for fancy words or extra charges, Internet access is a utility that should get faster and cheaper over time for customers. Instead, Comcast customers pay extra against their data caps when streaming video on their Xboxes using Microsoft’s services.

There is no real competition to provide Internet service as it’s either cable broadband from a cable provider or DSL from a telephone provider. Since DSL isn’t nearly as fast as cable, and the cable companies are aggressive in bundling TV and Internet packages together, there’s really only one choice. On the other hand, the uses of cell phones have improved tremendously, because tech companies such as Apple, Google, and Samsung all had to fight it out and make better products in order to profit and build cliental. This is an example of  real competition. Without out any competition of course people will have no choice but to pay for certain fees for satisfactory Internet service. Continue reading

PW Student-Run Website The Culture Bubble Launches

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Sometimes, opportunity knocks. Other times, you have to chase that sucker down the street. This is what Richa Choubey, senior Professional Writing/Information & Media student, had to do. Michigan State University has a lot of great organizations and resources as does the Professional Writing program itself, but she saw room for something more.

“I was in a Visual Rhetoric class with Haley and I was looking around and I just noticed that everyone was on Buzzfeed half the time. Even I was on Buzzfeed… For whatever reason it just dawned on me one day that that’s a perfect professional writing thing for us to have as a club. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone was looking at our site instead?”

She saw an opportunity for students to collaborate, especially drawing on the versatility of PW students, and engineer a creative hub from the bottom up for student writers to publish their ideas. Together, Choubey and Haley Erb (Junior, Professional Writing) set out to gather writers and web developers to make the idea a reality. They focused on the idea of showcasing student’s work in an entirely student-made and student-run publication. Through word of mouth, the club grew steadily, surviving the summer break and gaining momentum through the fall. Thus, the Culture Bubble was born. The project, marketed as an opportunity to write in the style of sites like Buzzfeed and hellogiggles, attracted students for a variety of reasons, but most were drawn in by the opportunity to get real world experience and the freedom to write what they liked.

“I need a platform to launch the beginnings of a portfolio for my career and this is a great place for it.” Akshita Verma, a Sophomore in the Neuroscience (Pre-Med) and Journalism programs, explained. Similar to how the PW program strives to help its students produce impressive work for the real world, the Culture Bubble also provides opportunities for students to flesh out their portfolios and showcase examples of their work in a space made by students, for students.

The Culture Bubble has four sections that encompass their interests: MSU, Pop Culture, Sass, and Grab Bag. Where Sass includes snarky editorial-type articles, Grab Bag is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories. Created during the inception of the Culture Bubble, these sections were based on topics members wanted to write about.

“I like that I am able to show off my own work, the work that I choose to make rather than assignments,” said Professional Writing Sophomore and editor of the Pop Culture section, Alyssa Smith. “I just like that I am able to show off my own work. I can choose what I wanna write about and how I wanna write about it.” While the club keeps frequent deadlines for articles to be finished, it encourages members to write about their individual interests. This not only strengthens the overall diversity of the material, but it allows students to explore topics they might not be able to otherwise.

“It’s nice to be able get a platform to publicize the stuff that you wrote in that sort of regard. It’s a kind of stepping stone to get my work around,” said Shannon Roe-Butler, a Senior in Professional Writing and English and the Sass section editor for the Culture Bubble. By establishing a student-made hub for student work, the Culture Bubble provides an admirable space for students to exercise creative freedom and showcase their individuality.

Choubey also hopes that it will provide a stronger network among alumni, comparing her experience in Telecasters to her vision for the Culture Bubble. “I already had a network there from the work that I had been doing. I knew that there were people out there that I could look up to and reach out to and have something in common with and I wanted that for Professional Writing as well. Because our alumni network is amazing, and they’re reachable, but there’s nothing that really binds us together other than the major. And while the major is small, there should be this concrete sort of thing that we can all bond over. Eventually one day we can all be a big family.”

Laura Julier, Director of Professional Writing and advisor for the Culture Bubble, expresses her hopes for the club and its future:  “I’m very excited to support PW students in organizing and creating Culture Bubble. It’s yet another example of students listening to one another, identifying a need, and creatively responding. Richa and Haley have been really smart in how they’ve imagined this as an online publication, especially in the structures they’ve created to curate the writing that will be published. I think these writers are going to reach an audience way beyond MSU.”

The website officially launches March 31st.