Posted in Announcements, Assignments, Resources

You know you’re done with Intro to PW when:

This week is about wrapping up loose ends and finishing projects.

Monday and Wednesday are studio days. I will be available to read drafts, comment on processes, answer questions, and help you clarify deliverables. I highly recommend you take advantage of this time to get feedback and work alongside your peers.

If you will not be in class, please send me an email letting me know why and how your work is progressing outside of class. Remember our discussion about rhetorical choices and email. Learn how to talk to professors, managers and colleagues about how you’re balancing multiple demands without communicating that too common “I have something more important to do” vibe. It’s an important skill and one worth cultivating. Important note: This isn’t about lying to professors, managers, etc. It’s about being clear, ethical, and rhetorically effective. Tough, but doable, and the hallmark of a good professional writer.

Friday is our last day of class. It is important that you are in class. We will do some brief discussion of what your projects are, what you’ve learned, and what’s next for you. You will complete your participation self-evaluations in class. I’ll bring treats. 

Your professional profiles and your final portfolio projects are due no later than Wednesday, May 3rd at 5PM. Electronic copies in your google drive folder and an email letting me know the work is complete is sufficient. If you would prefer to hand in hard copies, please email me to make an appointment.

All the required elements of each project are listed on the End of Semester Assignment Sheet (which I have updated to include the letter of transmittal for your professional profiles. Consult these guidelines for a letter of transmittal to help you complete this element of the assignment.

Final Grading reminders:

These two final projects represent a significant portion of your grade. They should represent the culmination of what you have learned this semester, and they should show your serious engagement with the assignments and with your own professional development. While there isn’t a rubric I think my expectations have been clear.

Your work should have a specific audience and a specific use case for final deliverables. You can return to my comments on your proposal drafts to clarify what my expectations are for your professional profiles. If you’re still not sure, we should talk during studio time or office hours this week.

For your final portfolio pieces: The work you’re doing here varies widely. I’m happy with the project you’ve chosen and know there will value for you in following through with them. Some of you have chosen projects where my feedback will be valuable in moving work forward if you need or want specific feedback from me on this work, please be clear about what you’re looking for in your reflections. 

Remember with your portfolio projects, there are two pieces: 

  1. The thing you are making
  2. Your reflection on the process, the rhetorical choices you made, and the professional writing skills you are drawing upon to complete the work. The reflection is as important to me as the thing you are making. Take it seriously. If you’re not sure what to include or how to approach the reflective work, let’s talk about it in studio this week.

When everything is handed in, you’re done. Please don’t forget to fill out your instructor evaluations for this class. They are important to me. 

Posted in Resources

Transcription Help

I’ve talked to some of you one-on-one about transcription strategies, but I wanted to put some of what we’ll talk about today in a resources you can access later. Here’s a few tips and instructions.

First, a resource: This is a transcription program with a text editor tht you can use directly in Crome. It has a free 7 day trial period before it will ask you to buy a license. There are other apps, services, and players out there you can use. Find one that will help you slow down and replay audio easily.

Now some advice:

  • Think about the purpose of the interview you are transcribing as you make editorial decisions about, for example, editing out speech patterns, or excluding part of an answer that wasn’t useful to you (or that the participant asked you to exclude.) You will want to communicate these decisions as part of your research data.
  • Think about format. I’ve talked to several of you about using a two column approach to transcription that is similar to one I recommended for observations: One column for the data, and one for questions, impressions, comments, and thoughts you may want to return to. Given the exploratory nature of your interviews, this might be an effective strategy (It is not a required strategy.)
  • Please include with your interview transcript a header that communicates the meta-data about the interview (participants, time, date, transcription date, etc). Along with the identifying data listed above you should also include a short description of the purpose of the interview and any editorial choices you made. For example: “this transcription focused on the substance of the participant’s responses, rather than speech patterns and dialect. Text may be edited for clarity in the following ways:….”


Posted in Uncategorized

Document design resources

For those of you who need to think about document design as part of your final projects (and really, this is all of you) Here are a couple of quick resources. I’ll be happy to have further discussion about these issues with you, either one on one or in small groups in studio over the next couple of weeks.

This is a web article I like about visual hierarchy. It focuses on screen design, but it’s discussion of how we read in in the Western world (from top to bottom, left to right) and how those reading patterns effect how we should design documents is useful. It describes some design layouts that break up text and help you to think about how to use headings, alignment, typography and whitespace effectively to increase readability.

Keep in mind the peer review exercise we did where I asked you to scan memos. Good document design takes seriously the 3 sec/30 sec/3 min rule.

The other resource that might be useful is a Powerpoint I borrowed from another instructor on effective resume design. All of the principles outlined in this presentation apply, not just to resume design, but to designing easily scannable professional documents across genres.

The CRAP design principles (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity) are useful for most kinds of visual design.

Finally, I’ll recommend a design book I like. It’s been a staple of graphic design teaching that is in its 4th edition. The Non-designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams is an inexpensive, useful primer. There’s a copy in the library, and I have one I’ll bring to studio time this week.

Posted in Creative Enagement

What Family Means To Me (and other sentimental stuff)

The challenge instantly piqued my interest. This was for two reasons. First off, stirring music seems to be part and parcel of ads about agencies and products that have to do with family, children etc. This made me wonder how the sentimental value of family and adoption could be brought out with purely images. The second reason was, in a way, the answer to the question asked. Although attitudes around the world are changing, it is still a commonly held opinion that deafness (along with many other, manageable disabilities) is an insurmountable obstacle. However, with modern technology and advancements, it is really only something that needs some measure of accommodation from time to time. A few adjustments and an engrossing class in sign language is all parents would really need to get started. So how to show this in 30 seconds? That too, without an appropriately treacly song?

“You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile!”

Here I thought of my own family and the experiences that stuck out from childhood. Many of them had nothing to do with hearing. In fact, the first and most vivid ones were to do with touch, smell, taste, sight. And that’s when the idea of amplifying experiences with the other senses came to me. Now, this turned out to be similar to the example in the book, but very different in its ultimate message. The intent of the ad I created was to show how easy it would be to bring a deaf child into one’s family and how wonderful life can be in a family. This required creating happy family moments that many people could relate to. Therefore, the phrase “There is nothing (more) [insert adjective/verb] than… a [noun]” was used e.g. “There is nothing prettier than… a smile.” This phrase would have accompanying images to go with the phrase itself. In the case of the “a smile,” caption, it was a picture of a mother and daughter smiling in a close-up shot. This continued for moments such as family meals, campfires, soft blankets, or simply smelling flowers. This was all figured out relatively quickly, since most of these things are so common as to be readily available when family and a certain sense is thought of in relation to them. The last phrase, “Nothing simpler than a gesture” was meant to encourage future parents to consider sign language and adopting a child who may need to use it.

After this came the decision as to what canvas/design process would be used. Here, Austin Kleon’s wisdom proved useful. The Analog side of the office was instrumental here, with the Digital only being used to find and print the right pictures for the project. After this, it was a mix of chart paper, sharpies, color pencils and glue, all the way to the finish line! Since the chart paper offered a clean and large canvas, it was uniquely suited to storyboarding such a short ad. It can be a bit disorienting to turn a page midway through imagining something, so having all 9 frames numbered and placed on one space was ideal in the case of pitching this idea. This project also called for creating a design that could be used for other media, such as billboards and print. Therefore, I decided to include that in how the frames were designed. In the ad, there will be a fade-in style, with the text at the top appearing first, then the video of the topic and then the final word that links to it. In a billboard, the text will be there with just a picture, like the ones seen on the chart. This would work for print as well. All this was made much easier given how dynamic the page made the work. Whereas my abilities where graphics are concerned are very, very limited, anytime text needed to be moved around, or something needed to be brought together, I was able to do so with ease on the paper. This was something Mr. Kleon refers to in the book as well, with paper creating more possibilities and opportunities to play around with ideas.

Early Inspirations…

Putting the right information in the descriptions for each frame also proved difficult, since specific details were needed initially. This all fed into the idea of how much detail is needed for even the simplest design to come together. Which leads me to the final idea, which was a logo and name for the adoption agency. I chose the name ‘HeartSign’, since the logo was four hands making the universal symbol for a heart. The logo was from a picture found online, while the color scheme and heart symbol on the outsides of the hands was done by me. Though an attempt was made to draw the hands myself, it failed spectacularly, so the printed picture with a new color and design became the final logo. The reason I chose to use the heart symbol and not a sign from American Sign Language (ASL) was that it was more inclusive if it weren’t purely ASL. For anyone who couldn’t use American Sign Language, the heart would be evident as a sign of love and compassion. The second to last frame also had a written version of the ASL words being shown by the hands in the ad. Universality was also channeled into the pictures used, since they include several races, with the final photo being of a diverse family. This was to show that family is a concept we are all a part of, and maybe inspire someone who may not have considered adopting, or adopting a child of color, to do so. Having felt the effects of identifying with a person on the screen myself, it was imperative in reaching as many people as possible.

The Final Logo and Name

This also fed into some of the considerations where language and inclusion were concerned. For instance, after doing some research, it turned out that the deaf community preferred the term ‘deaf’ to describe them and not ‘hearing impaired’. This was surprising to me, as ‘hearing impaired’ was a term I had been using for a long time, thinking that it was preferred. It was definitely a little embarrassing to think of any mistakes made in that regard, but also an illuminating look into how the deaf community views and represents itself. The use of diverse families was also important (although it was very difficult finding the results I needed for ‘mixed religion’ or LGBTQ+ families- Google isn’t always prepared, it seems!) Overall the results were good and could be expanded upon in the TV spot itself, since actors would have to be hired, allowing more control over the individuals in any given group.

Overall, this project proved much more difficult and intricate than I had imagined. However, it taught me a lot about how to use an Analog canvas and create a cohesive narrative from what was just a small idea. Hopefully, this blog post taught the readers a few things about how to create an interesting storyboard using Analog design concepts and tools (I’ll always swear by color pencils and glue!) and the detail that goes into even a 30-second TV spot without any sound. Most of all, I hope it got across my message of how love and family are universal, and can be created with all types of people, making us richer for having known them.

The Final Storyboard


Posted in Creative Enagement

Three times as hard

After reading every single challenge box, I picked challenge 13: Three in One.


So here I am on a Saturday sketching and thinking and stumbling but enjoying myself.  The first problem with this project wasn’t the creative aspect but the examples given in the book.  After reading a challenge I would look at the example and find that the example is either something I would have thought of eventually (like challenge 48, 53, or 57) or now anything I come up with looks like I just copied the example.


I was tasked with designing three print ads of an object I use daily and showing it in three different ways: positive, negative, and metaphorical.  Again, the example messed with me.  Dang it! I really would have been able to come up with those USB ads.  In addition, I found myself comparing my ads with those of the example.  DAMN, the examples are good and I can’t help but try to reproduce the style in my own ad somehow.

I sat down with my laptop, blank sheets of paper, a pen, a sharpie, and water.  Turned on Netflix and watched a new Netflix series: 13 reasons why.  (Really liked the show, recommend it if interested in deep shows that talk about not so comfortable topics)

13 Reasons Why

Back on topic

After some major brain storming I chose my wrist watch because I always wear it.  The easiest ad was by far the metaphorical one, I knew I wanted the ad to show a clock with numbers falling off the clock face – to represent how every second is important or how 24 hours in a day isn’t enough.  I went about sketching a clock face with the numbers 1-24 to represent the hours in a day, and then hours overflowing onto a pile on the ground.  Added some text and I was ready create a digital ad. I made the choice to digitally reproduce my idea because it was the only way I knew how to create my idea from paper to computer.


My first step was to find the right font type.  I wanted it to be similar to the way I wrote the text because I felt it would be more eye grabbing.  I went through all the fonts and picked four fonts that I thought were close to my sketch and found that Mistral was very close to how I sketched it.

20170401_114036 Finished up with creating a simple clock face and numbers spilling off the clock face.  Metaphorical ad done and done.  Only 45 minutes in and still needed to complete two other ads.

LUNCH BREAK be back in 20

And I was.

After my quick lunch break I had to figure out how represent a watch in a negative and positive way.  The book said you could give a glowing review for the positive and use another company for the negative.  It turns out the hardest part of this project was coming up with a positive and negative ad.   Negative I just ended up using my watch as a “crappy” style of watch compared to a fancier watch that was going on sale.

First thing I thought of for the positive, “what was the benefits of a watch versus a phone”.  Let’s face it why even have a watch when your phone can tell time and so much more.  This calls for a pros and cons list of watch vs phone! Yay

Watch Phone
longer battery


Cheaper (usually)

I like them


Games/Social Media


I need it …my whole life (sorta)

The list was mostly to devise a positive ad for the watch.  A phone can give you the time all while playing angry birds or candy crush.  That’s the point!  You go to check the time and then get distracted by checking social media, playing video games, or texting people.  3 hours later, you realize that you just spent too much time on your phone and not your homework because you went to check the time.  Here is where a wrist watch would prevent all that wasted time from being wasted.

So yeah, that was my whole process, sorry this was so long but I’m proud of my work.

This was really fun! But it was hard to come up with three different designs for the same product, it also didn’t help that my Photoshop skills are pretty much level 0 so I was pretty much left with using straight pictures.  Even with its difficulties, I learned that looking at an object and coming up with three different views can be challenge.   That how you spin something changes how you approach the task, similar to how you use rhetoric can change how the discussion goes.


Posted in Assignments, Uncategorized

Topsight Activity Systems Worksheets

A reminder that you are reading chapters 19 and 20 for class on Monday.

Spinuzzi has made PDF versions of the worksheets available on his website . Using these worksheets may be helpful.

You can also adapt this very bare bones (but editable) version of the activity-system-diagram.

These chapters show how to think through the Macro view of and organization by looking at culture, history and long term goals. Some of this information may come from your interviews, and, if you’re involved in an organization, your experience, artifacts and maybe observations. You may also need to incorporate some secondary research, looking at company websites, press releases, or research about the industries your companies or organizations are engaged in.

Activity systems are analytical tools. They are expected to help you think through the data you are acquiring about a company or a problem. The goal is to identify the parts of a system and consider the relationships between those parts– both in terms of the connections and the contradictions or difficulties.

As you are working on your research proposals, you should be thinking about how you will incorporate the activity system analysis into your research. Think about what questions it can help you answer.


Posted in Discussion Questions

Topsight Discussion 2.0

Hey guys, it’s me again.

While reading through the second half of Topsight I was thinking about some of the things that came up in the discussion last time. Mostly focusing on ethics and the ways that researchers can influence their findings.

In chapter 22, “Describing Systematic Issues”,  breaks down the differences between claims, reasons, and evidence. And while reading through this section it seemed pretty self explanatory, or something that shouldn’t need explaining, I thought again about how sometimes people believe things regardless of the reasons or evidence- or lack of. His chart with the Claim->Reason->Evidence looks simple, but I think it is very important to make sure that one has actual reasons and evidence for the claims they support and when discussing findings and their validity.

My questions on this are:

Can you think of any contexts where spelling out your reasoning and evidence is not important?

Is there anything that needs to be added to this model? Is it too simple?