final peer review // blog post fifteen

well, I thought I was going to be writing a really positive blog entry about how peer review was actually great and I’ve grown to love it, yada yada yada. but after this last review, I honestly can’t. the other reviews have been helpful and I have grown from them, but this one was useless. it’s four hours from midnight, and I haven’t received any comments on my essay. also, the people in my group barely wrote essays. they were more like brainstorms. not only was there nothing for me to comment on, but there was also nothing to spark my thinking or help me make sure that I had done the essay correctly. I guess I can’t really blame the concept of peer review when this issue was really just the fault of other students, but it made me kind of mad because I was looking forward to feedback and haven’t gotten any.

overall though, I’ve enjoyed the requirement of peer review. I loathed the idea of it at first but in the end, it gave us more time to perfect our projects and helped us to see them through the perspective of other people. I’d say the most useful aspect of review was that we had a significant amount of time to review each other’s papers and then review the comments before we finally had to submit them. peer review wouldn’t make much sense if it was rushed or we didn’t have a chance to actually apply others advice.

working with peers this semester has helped me to become less of a grammar nazi, in that I didn’t just tear people’s papers apart and make them how I’d want them, but tried to stay objective and just make changes that empowered what they were saying. peer review is about helping your classmates improve THEIR writing, not getting your point across. I think that’s important to remember as some people who reviewed my work said things like “I would want this word here, but that’s just me.” well, great, I’m glad you have a different word in mind, but I chose this word for a reason. comments are more useful when the benefit the concept of the essay, not just the mechanics of it.

it was hard for me at first to take other people’s advice, but after the first review I saw that they mostly had good points and did catch errors that I was making. I usually don’t have people go over my writing because I feel I am so good at it, but now I know nobody is ever too good to need revision. I’ll definitely remember some of the advice they gave me and I’ll keep the skills I made in doing peer reviews for the rest of my career. peer review is something I will emphasize in my classrooms.

the only thing I didn’t like about these peer reviews were the google surveys. I felt like they were just added busy work and that if we really put effort into commenting, it was just repeating ourselves. also, I don’t like grading writing on a number scale. it seems impersonal and doesn’t really help the writer get a good sense of what exactly they were doing wrong or right. but that’s the only thing I would change about this course’s peer review process.

 

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hindsight & fortune telling // blog post thirteen

can it really already be time to write what seems to be the last blog post for the semester? wow. that honestly came out of nowhere. I find myself wishing I was more prompt with these blogs, and almost that there had been more of them.

in regards to thoughts that I’m compiling for my essay, I think the most effective piece that I will be referencing is wesch’s “anthropological introduction to youtube.” so many of his points transcended the concept of just writing, or just making your own media, that I should be able to connect them with my own experience. also, the style gurus will obviously be involved as our movies are basically based on them. but the other piece I want to bring in is my other favorite from the semester – dennis baron’s “from pixels to pencils.” his points about the ways in which technology have both grown with society and shaped society at the same time are ringing even more true after the different readings and projects we’ve done. even the fact that we are taking an online class and doing assignments such as analyzing youtube commercials show that technology has completely integrated itself into our lives and is forever evolving. and similar to baron’s discussion of the pencil or even the telephone, youtube was at first not a big deal and not respected. just like apple and the simple concept of the “www.” but here we are today, typing away at keyboards and living through pixels as if we never knew anything. because really, our generation hasn’t known much else.

with all of these things in mind, the angle I want to take for my reflection on the movie process is a classic compare and contrast concept. seeing the contrast in how different it may have been even a short time ago, such as 5 years: the equipment available to us has gotten better, the means of communication have flourished and the ways to submit them have changed. and then, knowing that some things are the same. group members are difficult, topics are based on ancient literary theory, and we will receive a grade. I guess what I’ve taken away most from this course is that writing, technology and style are entwined indefinitely, and although they are ever-changing, they will never cease to be related to each other in simple ways.

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the good, the bad and the writing // blog post fourteen

So, given that context, take a moment and reflect on the process to date. How has this process of simple videos going? What kind of connections and misconnections do you see between “the writing process” as we’ve studied it and as you’ve experienced it, and the “video making process?” Do you see the point of Anderson’s advocacy for the use of “low bridge” technologies like the ones we are using for this project? Or is this comparison between writing and multimedia/video making hogwash, comparing apples and oranges, etc., etc.?

apologies for taking so long to get this post done. my life has gone from a 45mph pace to about 110mph in only a few short days and I’m finding myself in the weeds, fighting through to the finish… that was almost poetic.

as far as the movie project goes, I have to start out by saying that our group is not really working out as well as it could. there is some tension between all of us because our schedules simply do not match up at all, so we really don’t know how we’re going to get things filmed. on top of that, I was the one who volunteered to write the script and because I’ve been so slammed, I haven’t gotten to it yet, which I feel bad about. but it’s really difficult to coordinate so many people, even with the use of technology. it almost seems harder. you’d think “oh, well if we can’t meet in person, we can just all skype, since we’re taking an online class anyways.” right? wrong. even though the class isn’t a go at your own pace type deal, it still provides freedom as to when you’re posting. and it turns out the time we have all been able to set aside for this class has been at different times for each other.

but I guess none of that really reflects on the process and the connection between movie making and writing, so here’s what I have to say about that. I think they are a little bit like peanut butter and jelly, that is, they go hand in hand but can also stand alone. or maybe a better comparison is a square and a rectangle. a rectangle can also be called a square (be definition), but a square is not a rectangle. in this way, a movie can be called a form of writing, or more specifically involve traditional writing in some way, but writing is not a movie by itself. I wouldn’t go so far as to say “apples and oranges” because writing and movie making are most certainly related and when used collaboratively can create great success. but they definitely have integral parts to each of them that are their own. for instance, an essay doesn’t have special effects. well, okay, it has ornaments and whatnot, but it’s not going to burst into flames to make a point. and movies don’t have works cited pages at the end… well okay, maybe they have credits that explain who did what and what songs came from where.

so wait. I think I just talked myself to a different point. movies and writing ARE similar. but they are two different types of the same thing. not apples and oranges, or a rectangle and a square, or even peanut butter and jelly. I’m gonna go with pinot grigio and roscato. both wines, both delicious, but both made from different grapes.

 

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final peer review thoughts // blog post twelve

in all honesty, I loved doing editing for the style project. both of the other projects in my group were great concepts and well done, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them. I felt that there wasn’t even much editing to do because people put so much thought into their concepts that they carried themselves really well. also, I think we’ve all grown accustomed to working with google docs and therefore editing with it has been easier. my brother recently sent me a paper to edit on gdocs, and I was actually really mad at  him for not setting it so that I could edit it. I had to email him and tell him how to do it, which is ironic because only a few months ago I had no clue gdocs even existed. it was frustrating that my formatting didn’t come out quite as planned with gdocs, but I’m going to work with it and try to make it still look how I wanted it.

one comment that I realized I’ve gotten consistently through all the reviews was about the use of the serial comment. I really seem to have trouble remembering to use it, but luckily my peer groups have always caught it and been able to point me in the right direction. I also have been told more than once to expand on a point so I will need to continue to try to use as much detail as possible in my papers. as far as comments that I usually give out, I tend to like to focus on flow and concept clarification rather than simple grammatical things.

I’ve actually grown to enjoy the peer editing process instead of dread it as I did at the beginning. I think using gdocs as a platform helped a lot, and I think that it was easier to do online than in person. I hope that this loss of aversion to peer editing can carry over to my other classes because I think once I got over the idea of other people telling me how to fix my writing, their ideas did help me write better papers.

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everyone else says… // blog post eleven

 

the first point I want to talk about is one that Amanda W. made (http://awagoner2011.wordpress.com/) in her entry comparing s&w to williams. she was talking about the concept of whether reading the style guides sooner could have helped us succeed in college more. she sums it up by saying “if we were better prepared would redundancy be less of an issue?” I think she has raised a good question, but I’m not sure what the answer is. it’s possible that by implementing style guides earlier in school, kids would have the advice imprinted on their brains by the time they get to college. but it’s also possible that they would adhere so strictly to the rules they would lose sight of how to write creatively. it might be a good idea to at least introduce the guides in high school so that students can have a knowledge of what kind of rules they’ll need to follow in the future, and to give them some practice working and revising with them. but its important to make sure they also learn how to integrate their voice into their work as well as formal style.

something that I noticed a few different people discuss was the concept brought up by both style guides of putting the emphasis of a point at the end of a sentence. Lisa (http://kassiopia26.wordpress.com/) and Diamond (http://djacks41.wordpress.com/) both talked about it. and after reading their posts, I have to agree that this advice is a really good way to easily make changes to your writing. I will  be using it in my revision for part 1 of the style guide. Diamond explained Williams point pretty easily: “you should set the reader up with information and then build on it up until the main point.” I’ve always done it the other way around by introducing my point and then building on it, but it actually makes to sense to try and do it the other way around. I kind of wonder why I never thought to do this before, especially because when they taught us the 5 paragraph essay structure in middle school, you were supposed to put your strongest point last so that it would stick in the reader’s head. why not do the same with sentences? and it makes even more sense when you connect it to one of the style guide gurus other main points – not being overly descriptive or turgid. I suppose sometimes I try to use strong words in all parts of my papers, but that’s probably where I can get to be, for lack of a better word, turgid. it will be a huge task to work through my writing and try to re-balance my points. but it will be worth it to improve my writing in a way I never thought of using until reading s&w and w.

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classic compare & contrast // blog post ten

after reading both guides, it seems that Willams and Strunk & White cover basically the same topics, just in different ways. Strunk & White stick to the rule based format, stating guidelines and giving examples but never discussing things in depth. Williams seems to enjoy full length explanations and historical reasons for the guidelines he is giving. because of the way that he goes about conveying his ideas, I think his guide may be better suited for truly understanding concepts of style while S&W are a better go to guide for quick questions about punctuation or word order.

I found myself liking William’s guide better simply because it felt like it had a little more room for interpretation. and although it was a little confusing, the chapter about “Elegance” (chapter 9) showed that he considered writing an art in some ways. while reading S&W, I sometimes felt like they were trying to make English into a science. however, an issue I had with both guides was the condescending air they both gave off. no matter how useful their advice is, I didn’t like that while reading it I felt like I was being corrected or looked down upon by the authors. Williams exemplified this more than S&W, in that he often mentioned things that were indeed over the reader’s head. one particular example I remember from the beginning is a statement he made about how he edited a paragraph – he basically said “I could have edited this even better, but that would have shown my super secretly awesome editing skills that only amazingly talented writers can learn so I didn’t want to go over your head.” I guess I just feel like if they really wanted their guides to be used, they should have been more accommodating and less condescending.

the area I found S&W most helpful with was punctuation. their rules and examples made it very clear how and when to use punctuation correctly. I think that it’s important to know this because it’s irritating to have to mentally insert your own punctuation while reading or have a sentence be broken up by way too many commas. I also think it’s important to know the correct way so that when you want to stray from it to make a point or inflect a certain type of style, you can do so.

as for Williams, I will from now on cease being TURGID in my writing. (as a sidenote, that is quite possibly one of the funniest words in the English language.) because I grew up doing a lot of creative writing, I think it is sometimes easy for me to get carried away and elaborate on parts of my essays that aren’t the important parts, simply because I can. I also think that something that was taught in high school is that using big, sophisticated words does help your paper. what wasn’t taught is that it only helps if they’re used properly and make sense. there’s nothing worse than reading a paper where you can tell that the writer used a thesaurus for everything even though they  may not have understood the meanings. being clear is an incredibly important part of writing because after all, the whole point of putting something down on paper (so to speak) is to get a point across.

all that being said, I hope my punctuation was good and I wasn’t rambling – otherwise I may not have learned anything at all!

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another examination of self // blog post eight

after having another go at the peer review process, I guess I am becoming more comfortable with it. using the google docs format makes it really easy to comment and highlight exactly what you think could use work, and it allows the writer to see their comments all in one place. I also like that two editers can kind of comment on a thread, agreeing or disagreeing with previous comments. I do wish that there would be a mandatory discussion part, to discuss all the changes rather than just give input and never see how it turns out. I think that would add another dimension to the peer review and help everyone involved have a better understanding of the comments being made.

the only pattern I can see between the suggestions for my first two papers is that I need to dig down into my points more. I often got “explain more” or “elaborate on this” and I agree that I tend to have a lot of ideas and briefly outline them but not really get into them. it will be a challenge for me to try to focus on a single idea and really make it count rather than bringing a plethora of points into the mix. sometimes I just have so many things I want to include I find it hard to eliminate them, but I could do a better job of explaining them to my audience.

I find that the comments I am giving are mostly about sentence structure and flow. to me, it’s really important that a paper moves and grows in the right directions, and I felt that a lot of the papers I was reading kind of halted or stalled at different points. it was like I was commenting specifically on the way they organized their ideas, not the ideas themselves. I think that everyone so far has had a good basis or thesis, but they just have issues in conveying that main concept.

finally, I thought the survey was an interesting way to gather the review data all in one place, but I was a little taken aback that everyone in the class could see all the comments. hopefully nobody was nosy and looked at all of them!

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