Homework: FaceBook Questions

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Better pictures of white boards have been taken, yet I hope these help you recall our conversation about “Death Proof”, FaceBook, digital writing, death, and culture.

Here are questions you suggested for your homework analysis of FaceBook (in no particular order). Please select a few, take notes, and be prepared to continue the conversation on Wednesday.

  • How would you want your online presence to be dealt with leading to and/or after your death?
  • How personal do people get FB? How easy is it to see peoples’ private information? Is FB really a efficient tool? (ETA: how do you see FB as a tool? What use does it have in contemporary culture?)
  • When looking at our news feed, of the statuses that you read, how many people have you actually been in more personal contact with, either via text, talking on the phone, FB messaging, or face to face conversation, in the past week (or maybe month)?
  • Explore Facebook  by creating a list of pros and cons to having such a public persona. Does this help or hurt one when it comes to jobs? Relationships? The real world?

Want to add a question? Leave it the comments, and we can add it to our discussion.


Digital Writing: Mapping 20 Great Fall Marathons

This collaborative project involves mapping out 20 of the best Fall marathons in the United States that runners can consider taking part in.  This project provides information about each marathon showing the readers that digital writing isn’t just strictly writing on a document, file or page.

We created an interactive map that has all the information about each marathon in one centralized place by using collaborative digital writing.  You can physically see where each marathon is located, and you can easily click on any marathon to check out the basic race facts that every runner likes to know when choosing to run a marathon.  This basic information about each marathon includes the address, start times, course time limits, interesting facts, field numbers, the month of year it’s held, and other races offered on the same day as the marathon.  From this initial information runners can quickly see if a particular marathon is the right fit before making any major decisions.  For example, if you have kids and would like to make your marathon day a family event, choosing a marathon with a kids race the same day might be more appealing.  There is also a link to each marathon’s home page, providing easy access to the rest of the information runners seek.

This project not only combines writing, mapping, and visual effects but it creates a cool project, as well. The interactive aspect of this project also makes it really fun to use.


Erica and Stacy combined their passions together to create this interactive project.  Although Stacy is not a runner herself, she finds marathons fascinating and was really interested in the idea of turning her love of writing into a mapping project by using Erica’s new passion for running marathons.

 Stacy Brunelle is a English Literature major at WSU and has a love for writing and dogs.  She shows that passion by writing a blog about her dog Kincaid and his adventures.  You can reach her through that blog: here or on twitter: here.

 Erica Flynn is a senior at WSU majoring in English Writing.  She has a slightly obsessive passion for running and has recently ventured into a whole new world of running marathons.  You can read about her love of this sport on her blog: here or follow her on twitter: here.

How to Write a Guest Post Pitch

Once you’ve invested time in the first steps to guest posting, you’re ready to write your pitch email. You’ve identified the blog, you’ve commented on it, followed the blogger on Twitter. You’ve brainstormed, mind mapped, free wrote…whatever strategy you love to get ideas out of your head on on to paper, you’ve done ’em.

What’s next? Get that pitch email written. Here are some tips:

1. Address the blogger by name: not “Dear Sir or Madam:” but “Dear Beverly,”

2. Show the blogger you’ve read their blog and connect yours to it: “I am a reader of PoMoGolightly, and I really enjoyed your recent post defining Ethical Elegance. The comments make it clear that your readers are ready to minimize their wardrobes and trade big-box shopping for shopping with indie designers. My blog XYZ explores ethical relationships with animals, including through purchasing choices.”

3. Provide samples by linking to your very best relevant posts: “Here are two posts I wrote that you might like: sample a and sample b (replace “sample a/b” with linked titles).

4. Pitch: “I would like to write a post for your readers about how I stopped buying and wearing leather shoes while remaining fashionable.”

5. Ask: “May I send the post over for your consideration? If so, please let me know if you prefer it as a Word or .txt file.”

6. Use your manners: “Thank you so much for your time”

7. Sign off, including your blog link under your name.

Unless you’re confident you can draft and revise quickly, you might want to get a rough draft of the post written. If the first blogger rejects it, you can try another, or post the piece to your site or to Medium.

Digital Humanities: Mapping the Hunger Games


Our mapping project shows every District from Suzanne Collins’ popular series The Hunger Games and places it on a map of the continental United States. Throughout Collins’ series, she leaves clues as to where each district may fall by telling readers what each District is known for. For example, District 4 is known for fishing, and Collins’ main character Katniss Everdeen makes mention that District 4 is west of her native District 12, so the reader can infer that District 4 would be located on the west coast of the United States.

Throughout this project, we found a fantastic resource that helped us immensely with this project: the Hunger Games Wikipedia website. The website has a page dedicated to each District in the Hunger Games universe, and puts together all the clues that Suzanne Collins has mentioned about where they may be located. This includes information from the books themselves, as well as from a Hunger Games computer game that Collins helped develop, and from any interviews she has given.

This project can help readers get a better idea of the atmosphere of the story by putting it in the context of something that we know. It also helps the readers connect to the stories a bit more. On the surface, the Districts are over-the-top, fictional places. District 12 is the poorest of the poor, where people are starving and even thankful for the chance to eat muddy bread. Meanwhile, the Capitol is full of people with have multi-colored hair and undergo a surgery to change their skin color. By relating these fictional places to their locations in the continental US (The Capitol would be in the Rocky Mountains, while District 12 would be in New Jersey), it makes it much more real for the readers.

About the Authors

Chelsea Nelson and Alyssa Bourke are senior English majors at Westfield State University. Although both are avid readers of Young Adult literature, this is the first time that they have done a project of this nature. Chelsea, a dog lover, writes about her puppy love at her blog “Dog Crazy”, and on Twitter. Alyssa, a self-proclaimed “theatre nerd,” blogs about her theatre experiences at her blog “All the World’s a Stage” and on Twitter.

Steps for Submitting a Guest Post

Here’s how to send your guest post as a .txt attachment to an email:

1. Write, format, and proofread your post in your dashboard, saving the post as a draft.

2. Click on the Text tab of your post-writing dashboard.

3. Copy.

4. Paste into Word document.

5. Save as .txt file using a relevant title to make it easier for your target blogger to identify.

6. Attach to your email.

A Blogger’s Check List

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande piqued my interest in using checklists. Having a list to ensure processes are followed is vital in fields like aviation and medicine. In blogging, they’re less vital, but still helpful. Here’s one for you to use when you post:

  • Will the title lure in the reader?
  • Did I write something that will help my reader and / or continue my discourse community’s conversation?
  • Did I link to resources?
  • Did I include a picture?
  • Did I credit images I did not create?
  • Do I invite the reader to participate in the conversation?
  • Did I proofread?
  • Is there a narrative arc if I’m telling a story?
  • Did I add tags and categories?

Not every post will warrant every item on this list. What would you add to the list?

Guest Posts: the First Steps

Pitching and writing guest posts can be an excellent way to build your online discourse community as well as your social proof. Here are steps you can take as you prepare to write your pitch:

1. Get familiar with the blog and the writer(s) behind the blog. Read it regularly. Leave thoughtful comments.

2. Follow the blogger on Twitter. Add them to your insider list and respond to their tweets in meaningful ways.

3. Cast a wide net. Does your target blog include a blogroll? Add some of those blogs to your weekly reading list and develop a stronger sense of current conversations in your discourse community.

4. Check out the Big Blogs. Many blogs with large readerships crave fresh material. Check them out to see if they have a page describing how to submit your pitch. Here’s an example from LifeHack, and another from Dumb Little Man, and another from Tiny Buddha.

5. Think hard and brainstorm about how you can help your target blogger’s readers. What perspective do you bring?

The guest pitch is due on 11/12/14. We’ll spend some time drafting pitches in class next week. To prepare, follow the above steps, build a blogroll, and identify your top three target blogs.