Excuse the moody feature picture, I found irony in a literal ‘look-back’ over the past few weeks of writing practice in BCM241. For my other readers, who may not have followed the series, BCM241 is a second-year subject I take at the University of Wollongong; a study of Media, Audience, and Place. Over the past few weeks, we were encouraged to blog about the topics discussed, everything from media space to television, audience research, cinema, public space, regulation and attention; all of which you can read here.
Truth is, I really love blogging. I have had blogs here and there since I was around 14 years old, and was required to manage a university blog, from when I first enrolled in 2016. For a very long time I yearned to set up a blogging space that I really loved and that was a true reflection of myself, and so knowing I was to start BCM241 in August of this year, I set out to upgrade and improve my university blog previously hosted on WordPress.com. Purchasing themes, and moving to a self-hosted domain service on WordPress.org, claudialouisemuller.com was born. It is the perfect space to create content and aggregate into some form of portfolio, that is not only relevant for future employment but showcases my actual ability to produce and edit. Over the past weeks in this class, I have thoroughly enjoyed fine-tuning and editing all aspects of my digital space, and am extremely grateful that I can enjoy a university assessment to this extent, while other peers are scattering through essay after essay and exam after exam.
These tasks have encouraged a simple, yet valuable, approach to education and learning, asking students to practice writing – in public. The thing about creative work is that you will only get better by actually putting the act into practice, and sharing it in public will force greater detail and caution around the quality of your content. As a researcher, and more importantly – a learning researcher, writing in public about topics and media concerns forces deeper thought, and the formation of an opinion, rather than accepting whatever may be fed to students in a lecture. Blogging adds a personal attachment to what you’re producing, and so I have become much more aware of the ethics surrounding personal research, considering I am solely responsible for this corner of the web.
A large motivation and inspiration for me in this practice is a short film I found many moons ago in the depths of Vimeo staff picks, detailing an interview from fellow creative Ira Glass, on a piece often labelled The Gap: “The most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” The gap explained visualises the problem of not practising public writing very well and has resonated with me for longer than I can remember.
With this practice of public writing, I have noticed a sudden surge in personal interest in Media and Communications. I am obsessed. This new-found obsession has seen me searching for TED talks related to class discussion, finding myself in intellectual conversations about media use to peers and non-communications students, relating the topics covered to other subjects and drawing theories from other areas of my life into the subject, and most strongly – a love for author William Powers and his novel Hamlet’s Blackberry. In the past, I would not have been found reading academic articles for L E I S U R E, yet here I am, saving PDF journals to read for later on multi-screening – who am I? And where did Claudia go?
Truth be told I have found great interest in the attention that media demands, the networked home, and the digital space we have integrated into our everyday environments. My favourite blog posts being Memories in Technicolour, Alright Stop, Collaborate and Listen, Media Space, Public Place – a Digital Case, and An Attention Span the Width of a MacBook Air. They were not only topics that peaked my curiosity but involved actively engaging in a task; past typing on a screen. I loved the idea of conducting research through this little self-tasks, and not on such a serious and large scale that other university assessments often demand. I feel there is much to be learned from ethnographic styles of research when it comes to audience response, engagement and observation. While I struggled to fully invest into the Regulation blog task, I also was challenged to meet deadlines and battled with the idea of forcing creativity. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the task of blogging and can see much improvement in my writing style, and in the passion felt towards the topics covered. Public writing goes much deeper than the practice itself but in the collection of knowledge and the forming of one’s personal opinions.
While it can be painstaking to force the production of content, I found comfort in the engagement with fellow peer’s blogs, and much encouragement in the comments made by my tutor Susan Maloney. I hadn’t realised how I had disregarded the quality of my own work received some lovely feedback from Susan on our last assessment, where she very kindly stated that I have “created readable discussions of high quality” with “insightful text” that “sets your work apart from others“. I believe the use of all my own images and links to sources of information that I found helpful contributed to the quality of my writing and motivated me to continue to create. In an effort to experiment with engagement I refrained from tweeting the links to all of my blog posts, to see how it altered visits to my blog. I found that there was only a slight dip in readership, with a steady 7 to 8 visits to my sights each day.
I look forward to continuing this practice, and without a doubt, you will hear from me soon.
POWERS, W. (2010). HAMLET’S BLACKBERRY. NEW YORK: HARPER, PP.1-215.
Sax, D. (2014). The Gap by Ira Glass. Vimeo