Digital Headbutt

A sports blog about stuff…stuff that involves things.

JOMC 711 In Review

Posted by Mike on December 10, 2006

Taking this course has been quite an enlightening experience for me. I have had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow students as well as writing for this blog, and I feel that I will be able to apply much of what I learned into real life. I want to thank all of the students and my professor BC for making this great experience possible.

How my writing has changed and what I’ve learned that is most useful:

  • Writing for an audience. When writing any piece it’s vital to have a specific audience in ind to write for. Before this class I was already conscious about writing for an audience, but often I would write for a very specific audience: the person who was going to critique my work, usually someone in academia. It would sometimes be difficult for me to escape that mindset when trying to write for a wider audience (in my case, Tar Heel fans like me). This class has forced me to break from that line of thinking, and fundamentally it has made my writing much better and less cumbersome. I am now much more comfortable when writing for an audience, and I think that my work has improved dramatically as a result.
  • Writing in a web-friendly format. I was a novice at writing for the Web, also because I was accustomed to writing for academic print. Therefore a lot of my early blog work would compose of long, visually straining paragraphs. Over the course of the semester I have become very conscious of writing to better suit the format by using smaller easy-to-read paragraphs, bullet lists like this one and simpler language to say more in less space.
  • Semiotics: The design of the webpage greatly impacts the reaction netizens have to your site, and it’s important to design the page in a user-friendly manner while paying attention to audience. For example, I began this website with a design which I thought looked cool, but ultimately made it difficult to navigate the page and eye-straining to read the articles, so I ultimately settled on this efficient, no-nonsense design. You never get a second chance at a first impression.
  • Integrating multimedia. The Web may be text-based, but it has so much more to offer, and thus netizens demand more than just text from online articles. I now try  to integrate multimedia into my articles whenever possible, including photos, videos, flash animation, and links to relevant outside information.

A few unanswered questions:

  • How does a blogger more efficiently advertise and/or drive traffic to their blog?  How do you get search engines to find you first without writing solely for keywords or altering the subject of content with the intent of attracting search engines?
  • What are some effective strategies in using viral video as a means of advertising for your site/business? Viral advertising brings a lot of attention to a business. How do you use it to get the attention of the right netizens?

What could be changed about the course:

  • Blackboard Discussion Boards. The discussion boards of this course was the digital equivalent of attending class, and I gained a lot of information from the boards. However the lack of organization made me have to sift through many postings that was of little relevance to the main discussion. There has to be a way to efficiently find more pertinent posts.
  • PDF Articles. Some of the PDF articles for this semester were either badly scanned or photocopied. This made them very difficult to read on top of the fact that some of them discussed concept that did not seem to have real life applications.
  • Study Book. The Study book offered a good general view of the course and was a good reference for details on assignments, but I did not use it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps it should include a deeper discussion of concepts that might not be discussed in as much detail on Blackboard.

I had so much fun this semester writing about Tar Heel Athletics that I created a new blog mostly dedicated to the Heels, Tar Heel Mania, which I hope my classmates will visit regularly. More than anything else, this semester has laid the ground rules of writing online so that I can simply set my mind free when I write, and the result is a much better product.

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