Author Archives: Jennifer Smoot

Waiting until the last minute, as usual!

web-design-service2If I have learned anything in my 3 semesters in this program it is that I will use every last minute of a deadline!  I hate that I do this but I work better under pressure, I guess! Anyway, I have really enjoyed this class this semester and feel that I have learned a lot from both the course content as well as from all of your posts.  It always amazes me how you can get to know the different personalities of your classmates through this type of setting. I would have thought this would have been lacking in an online environment but I have been pleasantly surprised throughout this program.

For my final paper, I took my past experience as a web designer and took a look at the different design principles: creating a site optimized for the search engines versus a site that just designed really well but may not be optimized.  Can the two design styles meet in the middle for the benefit of the clients involved? The answer I found was  – sometimes.  There is still a lot of debate and tension between the two different professions. Site designers think their sites are optimized but complain when they don’t rank higher in search engine results. SEO’s think their sites are well designed but they are not typically winning any design awards.  There are, of course, plenty of designs out there that accomplish both but it is surprising how many sites really are not paying attention to what the search engines are looking for.  Granted, it is a constantly changing field but if you are in business to attract new clients/customers, you need to pay attention or else you might as well ditch the site.

The up and coming trend in both design and SEO is the integration of social media.  I actually think this can benefit some smaller businesses.  I have a friend that owns a boutique clothing store that her and her daughter run.  Megan (the daughter) is really good at posting to Instagram and Facebook, sites that are both free to use.  In order to have the same interaction on their website, they would have to pay an hourly fee to the designer to update the information and it would not be done in an instant (more like 2-weeks at least). According to a lot of the SEO experts, this integration is going to make or break you in the search engine rankings.

Well – off to study for class #2 and then finish the paper for class #3.  I am looking forward to the break, that is for sure!  Anyone taking 730 – User centered research or 750-Qualitative Research next semester?

Have a great holiday week and enjoy your break!


Aaaa Haaa Moment

www.facebook.comIn many of our conversations this semester we have discussed the multitudes of social media options in this digital age.  While we have not exactly discussed trust or privacy as an individual topic before this week, there have been definite innuendos about the trust we each place in these sites; some of us have shown it by the desire (or lack thereof) to use a particular site, others have pointed out the flaws in some of our readings that can lead to a distrust of that author as well as the information in the article itself, and others just aren’t interested in sharing their personal lives.  Both of the chapters this week got me thinking about why there is such a variance, even in our small group of, assumingly (based solely on the fact that we are all interested in the same field), similar beliefs and personalities (ok, I am probably stretching it a little but just go with it!).  In particular when you take into consideration Facebook, there always seems to be a huge debate over what is posted and why people want to spill their life stories (and, at times, very personal information) out to all these supposed “friends”.  Even when we read articles about how Facebook is changing their privacy setting again and releasing more information (you need to see this visual – I can’t download the image), some of us are still frequent users, or know of people who are.  In Schofield and Joinson (2008), when I read the following quote, it all started to make some sense to me:

 “. . .we found evidence that trust and privacy interact to determine disclosure behavior, such that high privacy compensates for low trustworthiness, and high trustworthiness compensates for low privacy. Clearly, privacy and trust are closely related in predicting people’s willingness to disclose personal information, and the relationship may be more nuanced than simple mediation” (p. 25)

We may not trust Facebook, the company, but really, that is not who we are communicating with.  We are communicating with our FRIENDS whom we place a lot of trust in.  Therefore we continue to use the site even though we know our privacy is at risk.  In fact, when Facebook makes style changes, I have read comments that make it sound like “how dare you change MY site”.  The users seem to have almost hijacked the site in some ways – they seems to ignore the fact that there is an actual company associated with this site and they are in business to make money. They are quick to forget the most recent privacy concerns and continue to use the site and still revealing very personal information  – again because they are communicating with trustworthy friends, not the company itself.

The ethical principle in Katz and Rhodes (2010), the Being Frame, also plays heavily into the use of Facebook, on both sides of the screen.  Facebook, the company, Enframes its users:

“In the being frame, not only machines, but humans as well are Enframed, and considered a standing-reserve – not only for use by the organization [Facebook], but also by the machines to which we must adapt” (p. 237)

But the users themselves are becoming part of this “being frame” as well:

“The digital and the technical has become the personal (e.g. Blackberry devices, Facebook), and extend around the wired world.  We exist everywhere with technology as a technology; we stand with the resources as a reserve” (p. 238)

I believe it is because of this thought process (along with the trust aspect of their friends) that users are willing to look past well-known privacy issues and continue to spell out their entire lives for all to see.  Right or wrong, they are one with the machine.

Parlez-vous français?

. . . . I sure don’t but I had interesting experiment last semester communicating in a language I don’t know the first thing about! To clarify, I am talking about ENGL-712 Communicating in Multilingual Environments. As part of the final project for the class, we had to find a foreign language site and use Google Translate  to try and not just write a post or comment on the site, but get actual responses back from the other users.  I chose a French site thinking that since two kids are learning French, they might be able to help me out if I got in a bind. Wishful thinking that was, but it was still a fascinating experiment.  This was just a small part of a semester long class in understanding how a company that  has international clients that don’t speak English as their primary language, communicates with these clients.

I ended up enjoying this class so much that when I took ENGL-637 this summer, I focused on a small local company that had found themselves becoming an International company without really planning on it. They are a manufacturing company and they have quite a few instruction manuals that they are in the process of updating.  I went in intent on finding out how they handle (or take into consideration) their international clients as they are updating the manuals. Do they translate them? Do they do any adjusting for translation on the other end? What special things do they need to take into consideration as they write manuals with  non-native English speakers as their end users?  The answer I found out pretty quickly was – NOTHING.  They found translating to be cost prohibitive (which it is even for large companies) and since they are selling their machinery to a middle man – a distributor – they seem to be legally covered safety-wise without needing to translate the documents. I also found their attitude to be similar to Thatcher’s (2010) comment:

“Unfortunately, this kind of ethnocentrism—assuming that another culture will simply use digital media the same way as your own—is actually quite common in much U.S. research and theory, a point I discuss more thoroughly elsewhere (Thatcher, 2005).” (p. 170)

When I asked more questions about their lack of translation, the comment was, (I am paraphrasing here) “Oh we don’t need to worry about it,  Everyone we deal with speaks English really well”.  I was pretty shocked!  Interestingly enough, when I posed a similar question to my husband, whose company is also International, he said almost the exact same thing.  When  I asked my husband about translating legal documents, he said they have the plant in that location hire a translator to do that. Similarly, the company I worked with this summer relies on the end user to do all translating.  When I asked my husband how they know the document (in his case usually contracts) says what they want it to say, he kind of stared at me with a blank face.  When I pointed out to the summer company that their distributors may be able to speak English but (a) it is probably British English (and there is a difference) and (b) just because they can speak it doesn’t mean they can read it well enough to put machinery together,

they stared at me with blank faces (I love stumping people with an attitude!). In both cases, they just don’t know what they don’t know.  The company from ENGL-637 is just now venturing into putting all of their documents online in digital format with the intent of eventually having it be an interactive online-help system. If their digital literacy is anything like their  (albeit, currently being upgraded) manual-writing-system literacy where international clients are concerned, they will need more help than they realize.  Digital literacy is still a new and expanding field even in our own country, much less understanding how other countries will use this form of communication. Unfortunately, our embarrassing ethnocentric attitude may get in the way of ever being completely digitally literate where foreign clients are concerned.

What is this “Second Life” thing?

second lifeThis week both Qualman, in Socialnomics and Salvo and Rosinski, in Digital Literacy for Technical Communication, bring up the virtual world “Second Life“.  This is not the first time we have seen it referenced by Qualman but since it was also referenced by Longo, I felt it was time to take a hard look at this site.  They both seem to think we are all moving away from real life and going head first into these virtual worlds: “Those of us living in Western cultures based in technoscientific knowledge economies increasingly find ourselves thrust into virtual worlds where we inhabit avatars and interact with other simulated beings.” (Salvo & Rosinski, 2010, p. 155); “If you still don’t believe that some traditional interpersonal communication skills may be suffering, then maybe this example will make you a believer” (Qualman, 2009, p. 215).  I will say his (Qualman’s) commentary about the courtship and then marriage of Second Life players Amy and David was a little  . . . . creepy.  If that was a one time example of people moving from reality into the virtual world than I am not worried.  If, on the other hand, this is just one of many similar examples, then I can see where he is coming from.

The strange thing is, if this is such a popular game, one that is transforming the world around us, why haven’t I ever heard of it before?  I found a blog post that described the phenomena a little more in detail than the site itself does. According to The Verge’s Chris Stokel-Walker, this game was launched in 2006 with a ton of fanfare and media coverage (again, I did not have my head in the sand back in 2006 and I still don’t remember it!).  While the novelty wore off, in particular for the media and businesses using it to, of course, advertise, there is still a hard core group of around 1 million users. On any given day the popular Zynga game, Farmville 2 (also available through Facebook), can have as many as

farmville2 8 million users and this game does not involve a parallel world where you can re-create yourself.  It is mostly just a silly game that other friends can help you play (in a limited, Facebook,  sort of way).  So is this idea that we are all going to become avatars a real threat or a hyped up one because both books were published within a couple years of the time this site first became popular (and I am sure their research and planning stages were even closer to the sites’ start date)? The best information I have is coming straight from the mouths of those most apt to play any sort of online games – teenagers.  After a very (very, very) informal survey of about 20 of my kids and their friends (all between the ages of 17-20 about 14 were boys and 6 were girls), none of them had heard of Second Life, the boys had all played other sorts of online games (such as Call of Duty, or World of Warcraft – both 3d virtual world style games but not as involved as Second Life), and the girls could care less about anything involving gaming. By no means is this scientific but it always gives me a little bit of the pulse of what is happening at least in our region, and a little peace of mind that I have one less thing to worry about!  I don’t think we are heading in the direction of a grand scale replacing real life with virtual worlds anytime soon but I guess it never hurts to be made aware of the future possibilities.

You don’t know what you don’t know . . .

web-design-service2How embarrassing.  I knew when I first started designing website that I really, no I mean really, did not know what I was doing but I thought my boss would teach me, which he did. Sort of. For the most part I taught myself. And then I am reading “Information Design From Authoring Text to Architecting Virtual Space” and realize just how much the two of us really had absolutely no clue how to do what we were doing, we just did it and customers seemed to be happy.  To be fair, my (old) boss started this business on his own five years before I came on with little to no training himself and was (and still is) doing quite well.  I think back on some of the sites I designed from scratch (none of which are still up and running due to businesses going out of business) and realize that there was always something missing.  I knew it back then but could not put my finger on it. I was not a graphic designer (nor would I ever be one) so I always blamed it on the images just not being quite right and therefore the effect of the site not being what I had hoped it would be.  I did at least always pride myself on my sites being easy to navigate with the appropriate information in the perfect locations. Now I realize that the reason the sites were not all they could be had so much more to do with the actual text and placement of information than I ever would have thought possible.

“Gurak and Warnick argue that to engage in digital literacy, one must have not only an ability to use new media technologies, but also a critical self-awareness that questions why and explores purposes digital communication technologies serve in culture.” (p. 103)

This quote would have never in a million years been something that I would have understood back then.  My job was more about getting our sites onto the first page of Google and manipulating text for that purpose based on the SEO standards of the time. We wanted the sites to be navigable and to have the information that was pertinent to the business (we would track page views through Google Analytics) but I am pretty sure we did not take into consideration the thought process of the users or how they were actually using the sites in the first place.  Again, kind of embarrassing to admit that those sites were public for a long time!  It does help to know that the early 2000’s were still a time of transitioning and exploring in the area of web design and its content.

The information in this chapter about “Technical Communicators’ Unique Contributions to Information Design in Industry”
(p. 106), is what can make the difference between a “professional” site and an amateurish one.  I think the fact that I was ignorant to design practices didn’t hurt me as much as it could have is because I have always been very visually aware of what looks right and what doesn’t.  We all have had plenty of experience browsing websites and you just know what looks right versus when something is just not settling about a site.  That being said, the fact that technical communicators are becoming more aware of the importance of the combination of visual design and content and the businesses they work for are taking it more seriously as well, is a great step forward in the field of web design: “Historicizing genre is significant, because it reminds writers that the ways in which emerging digital documents and virtual spaces are designed transmit values and reinforce or disrupt ways of working and communicating with one another.” (pg. 106-107).

This summer I worked on a small technical writing project for a company as part of ENGL-637. One of the first comments made by my connection at the company was how, at his previous place of employment, he was so tired of technical writers focusing more on design than content that he pretty much eliminated the department. I think this was very short-sighted of him but it also stresses the importance of technical communicators having balance between content and design and making it clear why the two are so heavily connected these days. “We are not merely writers any more. Now we are editors, information architects, usability analysts, interaction designers, project managers, client liaisons, and more.” (pg. 134)

I love that the world of technical communication is one of constant change – it is why I decided to take a second look at a career in this field (first look was


2o+ years ago), and started in this degree.  Little did I know just how important of a role technical communicators can play, especially during my naive years as a web designer. I can’t help but wonder, if I had known how all encompassing web design really was, if I ever would have stepped foot into the arena in the first place?  I would like to think I would have.  If not, I would have missed out on a great opportunity, no matter how high the learning curve was!

The Art of Rhetoric

There has been many a conversation throughout my time so far in the MSPTC program about Rhetoric and its purpose in today’s world of Professional and Technical Communications.  Some of my former classmates would like to see the topic, or at least some of the textbooks, tossed off the nearest cliff.  I cannot deny that I have had those feelings once or twice myself. In fact, I had to laugh in agreement at this definition of rhetorical analysis: “This category is, by necessity, only a loose grouping of related types of work that share a common goal: complicating common-sense understandings of technologies by analyzing them from a variety of rhetorical perspectives that demonstrate their immersion in social and rhetorical processes” (Spilka, 2010, pg. 92, emphasis added) Finally, the combination of our readings this week along with some more modern day examples shows me how rhetorical theory can add value to companies, especially through the use of social media.

napter_main_logo.pngIn particular, the discussion of the music industry not understanding the value of social media and embracing it instead of fighting it, is really what made it all sink in: “Instead of actions that disenfranchised their customer base (some of the largest numbers of downloaders and sharers were made up of music fanatics), the music industry should have been rejoicing that their distribution, production, and packaging expenses became almost nonexistent!” (Qualman, 2011, pg. 153).  I remember vividly when this topic was a hot button (pre-iTunes).  I also remember being very willing to pay for songs but I was tired of buying whole albums when I only liked one or two songs, which was one of the major benefits I saw of downloading the songs (along with being able to add them to an MP3 player pre iPod).  Since iTunes has come along with the ability to pay per song, I will say my own personal music purchases have dramatically increased.  I continue to be so confused by some musicians still resisting this new modern format.  I am PAYING for songs and buying more than I ever had before.  If I am doing that, aren’t a lot of other people be doing the same thing? Aren’t musician’s songs only becoming more popular through this version of social media and therefore their revenues going up?  Seems logical to me but as Qualman points out “. . . the real reason they didn’t embrace the model is that they didn’t understand it” (pg. 153).

Hence the need for Rhetorical Analysis. If the rhetoric of technology were more prolific early on, and had been able to show through research and theory the value of this transformation in how we purchase music, the music industry may have started listening sooner.  Now, rhetorical theory for social media can be invaluable.  Timing and Twitter graphicFrom understanding the why, when and how of social media usage, companies can maximize the effect of how they use it in their business models.  Social media is such a study of psychology and technology combined, the opportunities for rhetorical study of this booming technology are booming, adding value not only to the companies utilizing the theories but also to the profession of rhetoric for technology, in particular for “Technical communicators, who are by their nature intrigued by new rhetorical possibilities . . .” (Spilka, 2010, pg. 85).

Where are they now?

socialnomics coverSometimes, while I am reading through actual books (versus articles) in my classes, I wonder how fast the author has to write his book in order to go through the editing and publishing phases to get it out to the consumer before it becomes “old” information.  These days I would say they have to write with lightening speed because of how fast technology changes and how constantly new forms of social media seem to be introduced (and then disappear again).  In fact, I also often wonder if we are going to see a shift away  from paper books in classes specifically because of how fast information changes.  Don’t get me wrong, I still learn a lot even when the information is becoming dated, as it is in Socialnomics.  It almost becomes more of a history lesson – sometimes you can laugh at the information and other times it is scary how true some of their future predictions have become.  For this week I thought it would be fun to explore some of this older information and see what it looks like today.

Chapter four focussed heavily on Barack Obama’s use of social media for his elections, toting is as incredibly forward thinking: “Perhaps due to his widespread appeal to younger audiences, but more likely due to limited funding at the outset of his campaign, Obama embraced social media from the beginning – knowing he had a chance to dominate this medium over his democratic opponents” (Socialnomics, 2009, p. 62).  And this quote:  “If not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president or even the democratic nominee” as quoted in Socialnomics on pg. 65 by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. Eric Qualman was probably correct in this assumption, especially with regards to the younger followers being the ones who were using social media very heavily at the time.   Out of curiosity I looked to see where the “follower” counts have gone since this book was written.  Obama has gone from 3.1 million fans on Facebook (Socialnomics, 2009, p. 62) to 36 million today.  His Youtube channel has gone from over 20 million views, per Socialnomics (p. 63) to 291,711,299 views today.  While I did not see mention of how many Twitter followers Obama had at the time this book was written, he currently has 37,736,062 followers. Considering Twitter was a very new medium during his 2008 campaign, we can probably assume that there were far fewer followers back then.

What is interesting is that “Obama has pledged to involve Americans in his decision making, by giving them five days to comment online on any nonemergency legislation before he signs it” (Socialnomics, 2009, pg. 74) but yet I have searched numerous different Obama internet sites and have not found any such options.  I have also seen that many of his sites have not been updated with events or activities since 2008.  In particular, the Youtube channel has not had a recent video from Obama since the beginning of the year.  I think we were all excited to hear that a fresh young President was going to make such great changes – it made him seem more down to earth.  It is just unfortunate that his ideas have not taken off like he had said they would.  Maybe because he found out how time consuming social media can be and his job is a little bigger than he thought?  Haven’t we all been there done that?!

In either case, another topic that Qualman brings up is how Google can predict future trends by looking at its own search trends and advertising click-throughs.  This is still something that Google is promoting.  I found this fascinating and would love to learn more about it.  It still seems that the privacy concerns brought up in Socialnomics are still an issue today and this information is not readily available to the public.

Finally, according to Qualman, “One thing that is surely inevitable is the introduction of online voting” (Socialnomics, 2009, pg. 83).  Well, his prediction is still not reality almost 6 years later.  Not that it isn’t still a topic of debate among those who are interested, especially Internet security types, but it still seems quite a long ways off.  Even Canada is farther ahead than we are in this debate.  I, personally, would love to see this one come true!

Books may still be valuable tools but time will tell if their ability (or lack there of) to keep current, without costing the consumer an arm and a leg, will devalue them in the future.  Might we see a real digital version that can get updated on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis without buying a whole new book?  Wishful thinking on my part, I suppose!

“Facebook and social media actually makes you more productive”(1)

funny-facebookHmmm.  That was a very provocative statement to make to those of us always looking for an excuse to be on social media of one sort or another!  It is also probably the first time I have ever heard the words “social media” and “productive” in the same sentence.  In either case, while the author may be stretching it, it does not hurt to look at how social media can make you more productive.  The grocery store example on pages 4-5 of Socailnomics might be a little on the over exaggerated side but there have definitely been times when I have put out a request for help on Facebook and have gotten quick and great responses – especially when looking for help when something goes wrong with my house, car, computer, etc.  Referrals from friends for services are some of the best out there, especially when you know and respect the person the information is coming from.  While shopping for a prom dress for my daughter last year, she would have me take pictures of her in it.  Then she would sit there and goof around on her phone, or so I thought.  Little did I know that all her friends were on Twitter commenting on which dress she should pick.  I guess a mom’s opinion just doesn’t count anymore!  Needless to say, the responses were within a minute of posting so it really did not take any time at all for her to make her decision – a HUGE time saver for me!

I also loved the comment “We no longer search for the news – it finds us” (Qualman, 2009, p. 9).  This is how I look at Twitter these days.  I am following companies or news sources that I find interesting.  As long as I have my feed open, I will get the news as soon as it is posted.  If the post sounds interesting, I will click on the link to read the full story.  While some might find it distracting, I have learned to filter out what I really don’t want to look at, or I can tune it out altogether when I am focusing on other things.  At the same time, when I am able to glance at it, I can easily pick the stories I want to read more about and ignore the rest.  When I search through regular websites, I most definitely spend a lot more time trying to find the news I really want to read.  I will take the hand picked twitter feeds any day.


If there is anything we can learn from our readings this week it is that the world has been and always will be a changing, dynamic place.  I am eternally grateful for any and all forms of technology that have come along in recent years.  If a company, or a career/technical field cannot keep up with the changes, then evolution has done its job. Survival of the fittest at its best!

(1)  Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, NJ.

My own social network footprint

I have been using Social Media “forever”, or so it seems, so my curiosity got the better of me.  How long have I actually been using different forms of Social Media?

Baron, N. (2008) goes in depth into AOL and it’s instant messaging service, AIM, this is one area I skipped over entirely.  I am not really sure why except I think the  comment from Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007) “While people were already flocking to the Internet, most did not have extended networks of friends who were online” (p. 214) fits me to a tee.  I was definitely one of the earlier adopters of anything Internet related among my group of friends.  Many of them found chatting to be more intrusive than productive.  My kids were also still pretty young when AIM and other IM services first came out so I did not have much of it going on in my household at all.

I do remember signing up for My Space as one of my first attempts at entering social media, so, down in my archives of password and user names I dug up my My Space account info to see if it was still active.  Sure enough, it is. But since My Space has changed and transformed so much since I last visited it, any history of things I have done on there is long gone (although, I am pretty sure I did absolutely nothing on it anyway).

Facebook, which I joined on October 22, 2007, is the one I participate in the most and have the largest circle of friends also participating.  I definitely go through phases of more or less activity but I absolutely love keeping up with old friends.  I also am “friends” with my kids and while I don’t comment on their pages (or I will get the “don’t be creepy” lecture), I have pulled off and saved so many images I never would have seen without Facebook.  I also like to see what they are doing every now and then.  Interestingly, all three of them use it far less than I do.  This is also about the only site I do any sort of active chatting on, again, primarily because I have the largest circle of friends on this site.

www.twitter.comTwitter has been a friend and a nemesis for me!  I posted my first tweet in March of 2009 but I probably hawked the site for at least a year before I understood it well enough to participate.  At that time I was in real estate and was trying to find a way to make connections with people I wouldn’t normally connect with. For this reason, I would have to disagree with Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007):  “While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC)” (p. 211).  Twitter is one of the Social Media sties that I think is used for actually networking quite a bit (LinkedIn would be the most active networking site). With it’s more “open” concept of followers instead of friends, you can interact with anyone you want to , not just those that allow you to.  Where I struggle with Twitter is you really need to be a prolific poster and SME if you want to actually meet and engage with new people.  It was too much of a time suck to make it work for me!  I still use Twitter as a sort of real-time news site.  My daughter uses Twitter more than Facebook and I love that I can snoop without her even knowing!

Linkedin_Shiny_Icon.svg_Finally, I am also on LinkedIn (ok – I really need to change that profile picture – it is a little outdated!).  Until recently, I really did not go on LinkedIn very much but I am currently networking and doing research for a new career so I am on it almost every night.  I do not use this as a social medial platform but rather strictly as a job hunt and networking site.  I also have found the “Interests” and “Channels” options which allow you to read posts from other experts.  I find this extremely useful in my job hunt.



While I thought some of the readings were a little outdated, I do think there was some valuable information to be had about habits of those who use social media.  At the very least it gives a great historical background to some of the beginnings of social media.  Probably my favorite part was reading about Bill Tilly and how this 83 yr old not only uses social media, but uses it to improve his way of life by looking back on his posts and changing his habits.  I think we can all use a little but of Bill Tilly in us! (Qualman, 2009, p. 51)

Baron, N. (2008).  Always On, Language in an Online and Mobile World. New York, Oxford University.

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.

Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Hoboken, N.J., John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


The “Art” of blogging? has always been intriguing to me but, at the same time, has never been something I really felt comfortable doing.  First and foremost, I never felt like I had anything interesting to write about. I have a very normal (sometimes very boring!) life with kids who rarely give us trouble and aren’t at that super cute stage where they are making major milestones on a regular basis.  Those milestones takes much longer to appear now and blogging once a year didn’t make much sense. After all, isn’t that what the obnoxious braggy holiday cards are for?  When I was working as a Realtor, I tried blogging as a “Subject Matter Expert”.  Well, I learned pretty quickly that even after 10 years in the business, you will never feel completely like an expert so why in the world would anyone ever want to read what I had to say? And then, of course, is that obnoxious fear factor side to blogging.  What if someone makes a comment on what I post and it ends up being a nasty comment?  Real Estate brings enough toughness into the world, I didn’t need to introduce another source for potential nastiness!

So imagine my surprise when last semester I had Engl-700 Rhetorical Theory with Dr, Pignetti and found out we would be blogging on a weekly basis.  I definitely had mixed emotions at first.  A little bit of nervousness and also excitement.  Sometimes we (well, I do for sure) have to be forced out of our comfort zone to do something that we found intriguing but never tried.  Those first couple of posts were pretty torturous!  To think that this blog wasn’t just the safety of the class members on the D2L discussion boards, it was a blog that anyone can find and comment on (that fear factor was screaming loud and clear!).  And . . . that is exactly what happened to another classmates blog post.  After the initial shock of the comment from the “outsider”, and several comments back and forth asking the commenter to have some blogging manners, my worst blogging fear had come and gone.  To my surprise, the world didn’t end.  And the blogging continued.

I still envy those who can just write about simple everyday things and make it sound so elegant and effortless.  Blogging isn’t as much of a challenge for me as it was in the beginning but I don’t think I will ever master the “Art” of casual written conversation in the public sphere where posts from years before can come back and haunt you.  I think I will leave that to my annual Christmas card letter.