Kathleen M Vogel
I took this Communications 495 course initially for two very basic reasons: 1) It was a Communications course that fit within my schedule 2) The title “blogging” sounded interesting to me. However, I realized that after completing all the assignments, readings, listening to the lecture-discussion leaders, and creating a blog that this course has enlightened me to the seemingly endless possibilities in web publishing.
One of the first assignments was to set up our Com 495 blog. This was such an eye opening experience to me. I had always thought that getting my own website would be hard to set up, and would cost money. However, both of these assumptions were wrong. I set up my account within a few minutes at the end of class and did not spend any money in the process. Although this “free with-out premium features model” was satisfying initially, as I invested more time in blogging, I learned that “free” on the web often meant “limited” as I wanted more designs, colors, and widgets.
Another assignment I completed was researching qualities of the better blogs on the web. This was another great moment for me as I figured out what I had been doing wrong. For instance, I noticed that some of the better blogs used bullet points and numbers to help readers follow along. From a practical standpoint this changed the way I wrote in the future. Instead of writing longer formal paragraphs I tried to simplify my writing so at a quick glance a reader could easily understand my main points.
One of my favorite readings from Com 495 was the reading on convergence entitled Your Television is Ringing. I thought this article was a great way of examine how technologies companies in cable, internet, land lines, and cell phones are converging together to provide bundle opportunities for customers. Before this class I assumed that bundles were essentially “good” for the consumer as it gave them a better deal. After reading the Television is Ringing, however, I developed a different perspective which promoted, instead, the need for competition and specialization of companies to provide superb customer service – not just a great price.
I thoroughly enjoyed lectures in this course because they helped develop my blogs in incorporating Youtube videos, pictures, and creative commons images, and obtaining content. Before this class my searching for content was done via Google search, which although helpful, was only one source of searching. After being engaged in lecture, discussions, and lab I now have learned the value of using sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Stumbleupon, Delicious, Digg, and many others to find content for my blog(s). Creative commons was also a helpful term to understand in creating content on the web. I learned how to do an advanced search in Flickr for only creative commons images to avoid copyright infringement. In addition, the implementation of the creative commons license discussion/lab helped me to inform web users to my policy on copying my content.
For my project I decided to create another blog at http://theartfan.wordpress.com. From creating and updating a blog I experienced many challenges and successes that opened my eyes to publishing my work on the internet. One of the difficulties I experienced was how time intensive the process became after initially getting the website up a running. For instance, in discovering content to write about I would search the internet for sometimes hours – obviously getting distracted along the way. Eventually, I would find something to talk about and then write another article which depending on length would also take an average of another hour to post. Then I would repeat this process. Meanwhile, marketing the blog became another whole dimension that due to my previous time constraints I only glazed the surface. For instance, I commented on other blogs occasionally referencing my own. Ultimately what I learned is that when I start another blog I will have a team of people discovering, creating, and commenting on content. For instance, I noticed in class that another student (i.e. Liz Lantz) was covering similar content and if we would have realized this sooner perhaps we could have teamed up. I think that organizing a blogging team would make the entire process more interactive and fun.
Another thing I learned is that in order to get exactly what I want with widgets, and designs I would want to buy software like Artisteer and obtain a different host. I really liked one of the sites shown in class with this software and I think that after experiencing the limitations of free web hosting by wordpress.com, I am better prepared to spend some money to enhance the look of my blog/website. In addition, by using other hosts I could have a blog supplemented by Google advertising which is a fantastic way to make some money with a blog.
Final Reflection Remarks
Upon reflection, Com 495 laid a great foundation for my future in online publishing. What seemed difficult and expensive to even begin, was an assumption that was quickly overturned. The assignments led me through a process of writing for the web rather than writing a formal research paper. The readings provided added material which explained concepts such as convergence and copyright in ways that made me understand the issues. Many different sites in lecture were examined and discussed which aided me in discovering and illustrating my content creation. Lastly, my project blog experience led me to understand that bloggers should definitely be respected for the time that it takes to discover content, create content, design the site, and market the site.
From this class I will take with me the desire to create more web content and explore what other digital technologies are out there. I now realize that I am excited to pursue not only consuming internet content but also creating it in the future.