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The Internet: Chopped & Screwed

by | Posted March 19th, 2014

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. (more…)

PW Student-Run Website The Culture Bubble Launches

by | Posted March 17th, 2014


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.

From Write to Done: How to write funny

by | Posted March 15th, 2014

Source: Write to Done

Source: Write to Done

Is there a sure-fire way to make someone chuckle? A secret word? A fancy structure? Maybe there’s an equation? Nope. The truth is that humor isn’t funny. You’re backpedaling now and re-reading the title aren’t you? Well, don’t worry because this is, in fact, an article on how to write funny. But the point of this is that if you look too closely at humor, jokes, and comedy skits – it isn’t funny. Most humorous statements are implausible and plausible at the same time, but the catch is that it must be more implausible than plausible.

Comedy is usually inappropriate for the situation and outrageous in context, but it keeps your audience from realizing that humor isn’t funny. Humor is downright logical. For example, most knock-knock jokes are about word play and have a strict structure about them. “Knock Knock!” “Who’s there?” “Doris!” “Doris who?” “Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.” Knock-knock jokes revolve around the identity of the person or thing knocking on the door. The absurdity comes from the mash up of the announced identity of the knocker and the prodding additional question “Who?” of the one who answers the door. Now, doesn’t that take all the fun out of knock-knock jokes? I’ve stripped the jokes of their humor by looking too much into it. Humor is logical because it’s all about the undeniable truth. Exposing the nugget of honesty in the bowl of absurdity. Read more about funny writing at Write to Done.

Fake It Till You Make It

by | Posted March 14th, 2014

Does your confidence change when your writing receives a rejection? That shouldn’t be the case. Instead bounce back by following The Renegade Writers advise: 5 ways to fake confidence in your next article pitch. It’s better to fake confidence, rather then to appear as if you have no confidence. It is important to eliminate wishy-washy wording, such as “I could interview mothers of twins who developed this common condition.” Versus “I will interview mothers of twins who developed this common condition; I’ve already lined up some moms who are willing to talk.” If you have no confidence in yourself and your work, why should others? Focus on the positive, and ditch the negative. You want to tell an editor what you can do, not what you can’t. So never expose what you can’t do by making excuses for what you haven’t done. It’s okay to fake it till you make it.   

Avoid Wearing P.J.s When Working At Home

by | Posted March 13th, 2014

UntitledIf you are planning to be a freelance writer, here are some words of advice, “Do not dream about working in your pajamas.” A common misconception is that writers sit at home sipping coffee or tea in nightclothes and write. But your P.J.s don’t work, and actually can decrease productivity.

Make a Living Writing explains why the freelance dream of working in P.J.s is total B.S. Staying in bed and not getting dressed equals no transition. Even if you’re going to stay home all day, still get up and dress up. I promise, you will feel how much it changes your productivity. Make your home an office and treat it like an actual work setting by dressing for work. Save the P.J.s for casual Fridays.

Culture Shock: Moving Accounts of Teaching and Learning

by | Posted March 11th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 2.48.16 PM“You must be in culture shock, right?” Miss Hass’s teaching intern meant well. My steely look somehow convinced her to go on: “I mean coming to this place must be so different.”  She knew I had just arrived from upstate New York the month before to sit in the first class of my senior year at San Bernadino High School. Picture Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club anticipating Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice— that was me. Grim. Disengaged. Pissed at the world.

When our rust-belt poverty resulted in a second eviction notice in 4 years, Mom read this as an invitation to southern California’s sun-belt opportunity. So we packed what we could into a UHAUL (sleeping accommodations on the roof), and we drove the 2673 miles from Corning, New York to 29 Palms, California. My brother, a Marine stationed there, put us up until we could get on our feet. Mom found us a home in San Bernardino a few months later, and I began my senior year of high school, the only white-looking, punk girl in my English class. These superfacial differences aside, I was checked out of school, felt under-challenged, and dropped out for a month or so before eventually going back to finish.

I began to resolve my culture shock after two years of working at the Jack in the Box on Baseline and Waterman. I enrolled full time in California State University, San Bernadino, an open enrollment university, and worked my way through, mostly in fast food and retail for 25-30 hours a week.

When I did get into classes, my writing was awful: fragmented thinking led to equally fragmented writing. Ideas dolloped on the page like layers of a bean dip. With similes about that bad. But I loved reading, and words helped me make sense of my experience. So I began paying attention to the writers who were turning phrases in ways that made sense to me. I went through more writing styles than Madonna identities. Eventually, during my junior and senior years when classes got smaller, a few encouraging professors listened to what I was trying to say and I began to improve.

Over the years, that idea of culture shock has begun to make more sense to me as a teacher and learner. It has influenced my faculty development workshops and teaching philosophy.

More importantly, culture shock as a theory, can help us make sense of the struggles that come with loss and migration. It can help us put words to the foreignness of coming to a new country, region, or college. It can help us tell the stories behind the steely looks. Professor Cheryl Caesar developed a site that does just this. Students writing for this site voice their struggles when coming to a place like Michigan State University, help each other find resources, and share their stories. Visit: caitlah.cal.msu.edu/divein for more stories.

Visit Ellen’s website for the full post: “Culture Shock

Social Media Afterlife

by | Posted March 11th, 2014

Source: themarysue.com

Source: themarysue.com

As the age of technology grows older, more of us face the question: what do we do with a person’s social media accounts when they’ve passed away? Many families and friends choose to continue to post pictures and memories on the person’s wall in order to help keep their memory alive. However, Facebook has made it possible for people to request to memorialize an account so it is impossible to login. As a form of closure, the person’s Facebook wall becomes a sort of memorial, collecting all the thoughts of friends and family. Although it’s a bit morbid and slightly haunting, DeadSocial allows one to create a message or a series of messages through various social media sites that will only become published after they’ve passed away. The site states that its purpose is to allow people “to say goodbye in their own time and their own unique way.” Although this may be jarring in the wake of mourning, it’s also quite startling when a dead friend or family member starts liking pages on Facebook. However, this is just a sad reminder of how little control we have over our social network data. Companies will continue to use our information to make money even after we die. To learn more about social media in the Afterlife, check out Readwrite’s article here.

Traveling Through Digital Spaces: Digital Rhetoric

by | Posted March 10th, 2014

DR123WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric is a course offered to students in the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) department, which allows students to dip into different styles of digital spaces. This course is designed to help students gain knowledge that is essential to the study and practice of digital rhetoric. I had the opportunity to take Digital Rhetoric with Professor Liza Potts in Fall 2013. In the four months I was in this class I learned how to use three new Adobe programs, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and InDesign. I also had the opportunity to experience online programs, such as Camtasia, Joomag, and easel.ly.

I wasn’t the only one who got the opportunity to improve my digital skills. This course allowed my peers and I to explore different spaces on the Internet and analyze how individuals communicate and build audience through these spaces. In analyzing these spaces, we were able to create projects and present them in different ways, with the common goal of delivering our findings through the digital world.

Liza encouraged us to step outside the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and to choose from other delivery options that best fit our projects. She wants her students to “explore different tools and different delivery modes. These projects are their opportunity to learn new tools, practice skills, and explore issues of audience and persuasion.”

WRA 415 Student Projects?

Carly Mangus, a senior in Professional Writing with an emphasis in editing and publishing, used Weebly to delivered her final reflection paper, which was “Defining Digital Rhetoric”. Weebly is a web-building tool designed to offer step-by-step web development instruction to help anyone establish a website. Carly chose to deliver her project in the form of a website because she felt that it made the most sense, if she is discussing digital rhetoric it makes complete sense to apply the concept of digital rhetoric visually.