Posts Tagged ‘writing’

And On That Note…

May 7, 2009

The semester has ended. The blog will probably not be updated or read for a while or ever again, which is sad 😦 but it’s okay. For those of us who are taking the summer off, don’t forget to write! You’re going to be doing crazy things–getting a mean sunburn while on a yacht, poison ivy while hiking up the Palisades, maybe getting burned after your friends dare you to jump over the bonfire at  a party… either way, crazy things make great stories. 

So, not to sound like a Mom, or a nerd, or your sophomore English teacher, but enjoy your summers! Read some wonderful novels, and write anything; if not for educational purposes, then just simply to soothe your soul.


Packing, packing, packing.

May 7, 2009

Well, the time has come, my friends, to saddle up and hit the dusty trail. One thing a backpacker needs to know more than almost anything else is how to pack. This is a skill I still need a bit of work on.

Being an aspiring travel writer, I usually wind up packing way too many guidebooks and notebooks. This is silly. It is impossible to get lost in Europe, as long as you stay in the main, touristy parts of the city–and that’s what the guidebooks detail, anyway. But if I am going to become a real travel writer someday (I hope so), I have to go off the beaten path. I think that the most valuable resource you can have with you is another person.

I’ve always valued traveling alone, but if I am really going to sink my fingers into my destinations, then I’d better grow a pair and skip the changing of the guard (overrated). I’ve done a lot of bizarre things in my travels, and I’ve noticed that simply being with another person gives me the strength to venture into so pretty unusual situations and places. Fortunately for me, I will not be traveling across the continent on my own this time.

This list is a good starting point for any aspiring traveler. My advice, however, is to pack what you can–and cut it in half. The sage wisdom of my fellow backpackers is finally starting to rub off on me. My biggest problem my first few times around was that I packed like I was going off into the wilderness. Like I said… it’s Europe. In some ways, they seem a lot more civilized than we are. I may have to bring a few Moleskines with me, though. I can’t resist.

Can’t wait to go make some stories.


The Remediation of 3 Personal Writing Spaces

April 9, 2009

Thinking about it, the writing spaces I actually use are not nearly as varied and diverse as the ones covered by Bolter and Grusin in their essays, Writing as a Technology and The Double Logic of Remediation. Primarily (or at least academically), I compose most of my written works in a word processor. The advent of the word processor was an evolutionary step in the technology of writing, as it was simply the next step in the technological progression of how works are composed, although nothing overwhelmingly revolutionary came about. Editing and going back to change a work has never been easier and some may argue that there are advantages to digital archiving over material archiving, although this is debatable.
The largest advantage to word processor technologies is the fact that the text on the screen is completely malleable and re-shapeable at the mere click of a mouse. Older technologies like that of the pencil and paper and typewriter discourage such flexibility, as to go back would require one to start over or laboriously touch up a work with whiteout or an eraser. Although word processing and its flexible nature may encourage the act of thinking while composing instead of thinking then composing, this is actually a much more natural progression of the thought/composition relationship. This is also true because one can generally type faster than they can write by hand and as a result, the writer’s stream of thoughts and ideas can immediately be translated onto the page—a much more natural process.
Physical paper and a pencil is another writing space that I commonly use. As a non-mechanical medium (mechanical pencils aside), the paper/pencil combination is much simpler and can be taken anywhere without the need of electricity or any significant space requirements, unlike the typewriter or desktop computer. On paper, works are easy to produce and easy to archive, although they lack the ease of editing ability that electronic writing provides.
The most significant shortcoming of writing by paper and pencil in the information age is the fact that it contrives a situation where the writing, itself is completely off of the grid; the grid being the digital nature of computers and the Internet. No matter what, unless the work is retyped on a word processor, it will remain digitally inaccessible. This is fine for most works, whether they are academic or personal, but the works are incapable of entering the revolutionary spectrum of not only the web, but web 2.0, which revolves around the collaborative nature of the internet. In this, writing on paper remains a solitary act, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, so long as you want it to remain that way.
Lastly, I must include the quick and convenient, albeit impersonal and truncated writing space of the text message. By nature, the text message is a writing space that revolves around direct communication with other individuals as opposed to something that is considered published for the masses to read. Nonetheless, text messages are a valid writing space. The medium is quick and direct and seems to be taking s significant communicatory chunk out of the once revered phone conversation. In a world where media and information exposure is at an all-time high, the text message fits in nicely with its simple and direct manner with less time constraints and for better or worse seems to have ingrained itself in the culture of my generation.
In its less-than impromptu nature, the text message provides time to construct a response, whereas verbal communication does not. In this, it has crossed a bridge from other writing technologies like the pencil and paper and the word processor to that of on-the-spot communication, although more time is not only given for a response, but is expected.
The word processor is a clear remediation of traditional writing technologies, but borrows mostly from the typewriter, but makes up for its editing and convenience shortcomings. Both revolve around the concept of writing mechanically (with buttons) and discard the concept of the manual construction of letters. This concept of remediation by introducing writing through mechanical means extends to text messaging on a mobile phone.
One would be hard-pressed to find a correlation between the content in an essay written either by hand or by computer and the content of a text message. The text message’s informal and commonly shortened nature is a direct remediation of instant messaging technologies, which evolved alongside the internet, many years after word processing technologies were already in place. It seems to me that at the heart of text messaging as a writing space is the very essence of the electronically-written word. As I mentioned before, words on paper could now be considered isolatory, although equally significant. Something written on paper can never be sent to someone’s mobile phone (yet). After the advent of the word processor and the eventual coming of the Internet, words were easily made into electronic data, which is easily transferrable. This transferability was the revolution, whereas the actual eletronification of such writing technologies was merely a case of evolution.
When the communications revolution of the Internet and electronic text came about it was only a matter of time before our huge array of mobile, electronic devices such as cell phones, smart phones, Palm Pilots and etc. got swept up in the action of instantaneous communication. By nature, such devices are (or I should say were) limited by their actual design. The small keys and clunky text entering techniques that they entailed gave way to truncation. Text messaging became direct and short, simply due to technological limitations, although it represents a direct remediation from electronic text on computers, borrowing both from writing on the internet and the word processor—both of which find their roots on the humble piece of paper.

Remediation and Writing Spaces

April 9, 2009

Every book I read is usually written in the same writing space. The words are evenly spaced over white paper and printed in clear black ink. The font is usually at least 10 pt. The messages written in these books are always different, but the way they are displayed on the page is inviting.  As a writer, I have many personal writing spaces. The contents of my school notebooks are one, and my personal journals are another. My writing space consists of letters that I’ve formed by carelessly mixing cursive with print. They are usually written in black ink, and they have some sort of doodle around any given word.  My most frequently visited writing space, however, is electronic. It’s where everything I write is finalized. I may structure a piece of writing using the more traditional writing space of a ballpoint pen on a sheet of paper, but when I’m sitting in front of my MacBook, typing something into my word processor, for some reason the piece of writing at hand seems to automatically become more important than something I’ve scribbled on a piece of paper. The Webster’s dictionary definition of the word remediation states that remediation is the process of correcting an error. Bolter and Grusin’s definition is more the idea of taking something and refining it to make it more up to date. Handwriting and electronic writing, I think, are remediated by each other. For example, some handwriting can’t be deciphered at all-so the word processor becomes an instant remedy for poor handwriting. On the other hand, when you look at the different fonts that a word processor has to offer you will find many that imitate handwriting (Bradley Hand ITCTT, and Handwriting- Dakota, just to name a few). The two writing spaces must incorporated some parts of each other in order to build and develop.