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This is an old revision of DraftingTheFinalReportBJR made by BonnieRobinson on 2018-04-23 09:01:29.


Pink Candy Floss

Looking Back At the Proposal

When looking back at my executive summary of the proposal, I feel I stayed on course with what I set out to do. In the longer description in the "Narrative" section I wrote, "Topics I expect to explore include: working in public, identity performance, presentation/representation, self-expression, communities, democratic spaces and others as they come up." I did touch on most of these - not always directly, and I was able to look at a few additional topics as well. I spent more time on the history of coffeehouses and blogs and wikis than I realized I would going in, but once I began the research, I thought the history and evolution of each of these spaces was pretty critical in understanding how they function today.

In the proposal I also wrote, "I hope to bring an awareness and an appreciation to my readers about the impacts each of these communities is having." This sentiment has now become really personal. I did not know how or even if I appreciated either of these spaces when I started this project. I had some preconceived biases about blogs and coffeehouses (I didn't know enough about wikis really). I understood that these spaces were important to certain people, but I wasn't sure how valid these people's opinions were and how valuable these spaces were for the common good. To clarify, I think my early bias was that these spaces are important to people who are rather self-absorbed, not the most productive members of our society... I mean, really quite awful presumptions I had back in the corners of my mind. What I learned was, just as with any stereotype, these ideas are formed when one is on the outside, looking in. One must engage with an open mind to see something with new eyes and see it for what it truly is. It was a really great challenge to put my preconceived notions aside when I went into these physical and online spaces and to try and see it through either the coffeehouse owner's eyes or the blogger's eyes.

I really liked using the wiki for note-taking and organizing. I appreciated how I could organize either by adding new pages or by using headings and other structural organization. It was great to be able to link directly to the sources. It was a little frustrating sometimes to format the wiki in a legible way - or to transfer data from the wiki to the blog, but overall, I thought this was a great method, and I plan on learning how I can keep my own wiki pages (or something very similar) just to organize my life after this class.

In the "Contract for a Grade" I wrote this about the first few weeks of the project, " In this initial stage, the posts will more closely resemble a scrapbook or a collection of souvenirs - still crafted and accompanied by thoughtful commentary - but more of a collage than a polished piece." In reality, I ended up doing the opposite. I found a fairly organized way to begin the project, and my initial posts were quite organized, focused and polished. It wasn't until the last week that things became piecemeal as I had several topics still in their germination stages. I landed on an organizational pattern right away. I think I was inspired by |Dani's Travel Blog. I decided I too would "tour" the shops and write about the shop from that viewpoint for my first post every week. The second post of the week was focused around a certain research topic that I had chosen, and the final post for the week was the interview portion with the shop owner. Often I was able to include some details from my outside research either from that week or from a different week in the project, but this pattern gave me a purpose and some guidance each week. I realize the downside of spending two full days on each individual coffee shop was that I ran out of time to pursue some of the broader ideas, but the advantages of doing this was that these interviews and in-depth tours gave readers a more intimate look and a real-life connection to the scholarly issues being researched. So, while I ended up crafting the posts differently than I anticipated, I was still able to meet my goal of 3 posts per week, plus the additional weekly reflection.

Looking Back at the Project

Before starting this class, and especially this project, I was very nervous about writing publicly online. I wrote about it |here. I think that this feeling went away almost immediately once I had set the parameters for my project and understood what my objectives were. I think my fear was that I would have to reveal something private about myself, but once I realized that I could be a catalyst to bring valuable information to an audience, that was really freeing. It also helped me to put a value to my role whereas before, when I thought of blogging as some personal endeavor to self-actualize, I wasn't really sure what kind of credit or merit I could place on that for myself. This confidence is pretty evident in the voice that I use for the post revealing |the launch of the final project. In this post, I write very directly and personally to the reader - like I've embraced my role as blogger.

It was challenging to move fluidly from post to post with each one taking on such distinct characteristics.
  • The |first post of the week was that touristy one where I would try to recreate the atmosphere and bring the reader right in to the space with me. I liked doing these posts because I would just sit in the shop and conscientiously take in all the sights, smells, sounds and atmosphere of the space. It was a creative writing exercise to think about wording, pacing and structure. This is also when I got to take the pictures and consider how these would be embedded into the post.
  • |The second posts each week were basically a scholarly article, and my job was to organize the material, summarize, synthesize, comment and cite. These posts have a different feel, but I think I still kept a consistent voice.
  • |The third posts each week were the interviews, and these were another completely different mode of writing and process. I would pre-write the questions on the wiki or the blog, type furiously while trying to maintain eye-contact with the shop owner and hoping my fingers were still on the home keys. After the interviews were over, I would stay at the shop and try to organize the material I had just collected. Near the end of my project, I found that I had improved at this task. When I wrote the |Fiddlehead interview post, I think I took several runs at it over the course of a day or two, but by |week 4, I was able to finish the post before I left the coffee shop the same day of the interview.
  • The weekly reflection posts were yet a fourth style. I used a template - one that I was inspired to tweak based off a comment made by Will. By |Week Three, I had incorporated two coffee puns into my headings where I previously only had one.

What I Would Have Done Differently

One thing I would have liked to have done would have been to spend a bit more time in the online spaces. I read a few bloggers and wiki writers for this project, but I didn't really get to immerse myself in their online space the way I did the coffee house. I may actually continue this aspect of the project just as a hobby because I ended up really enjoying blogging as a past time. I wish I had spent a week or two rooting around, analyzing and conversing with specific blogs, but then I would have had to eliminate some of my local coffee shops from the tour, and I would not have wanted to miss out on any of them! It will have to be a next phase type of thing.

Conclusions: observations about what this project means beyond its personal value to you.
what has your project revealed about writing, academic study, writing spaces, literacy...

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