Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Great Communicator

I feel so completely lacking of focus, which sucks because week one of my spring slate of classes was pretty great.

I put the course descriptions up last time amidst my last entry, but now I have the wealth of knowledge of at least a course syllabus and a bit of face time with the three professors.

Monday’s class, interactive media projects…won’t lie, it will be a challenge. I’m spoiled and bias in a sense as both my parents were educators, so when someone steps in front of a class and is lacking the ability to teach, it’s tough. And there is a difference between an inexperienced teacher and an individual who lacks the capability to lead a course effectively. The final project in the interactive projects class is merely a set of website prototypes, not a fully-functioning end result. An experienced professional doesn’t always make for an effective instructor and given that the reviews from fellow students from last quarter (this professors first teaching, ever) were less than stellar…it’s rough. I don’t want to take classes just to take them and finish my degree faster than being patient and wait for a different option, but this class SHOULD be a solid option! 

I entered Tuesday sour from my day in general, tired but my New Media Market Strategy class re-energized me. It gave me hope academically (anywhere else in my mere existence doesn’t matter at this point) and made me want more. Throughout the extensive readings, weekly papers and a quarter-long project that will have me create a business model for a non-existent piece of technology, I can see myself wanting more and wanting to achieve MORE. The professor is not only highly experienced but filled with energy and optimism.  As we went around the room to say a bit about ourselves, she was beyond supportive and pouncing on potential options beyond the classroom for every individual, regardless of the various backgrounds the New Media Studies program brings together.

Upon mentioning my interests in web analytics, the professor interjected almost instantaneously, stating that she knows people at Nielsen, and repeated such connections (and more importantly) a sincere interest in helping create networking possibilities for anyone who desired such. I felt mad at myself for feeling tired come the closing portion of the class at 9 p.m., as the potential of possibility that I feel I can create for myself is endless.

A momentary pause in my class synopsis, as I am somewhat taken aback by the presence of that word I keep typing. Create, create. I used to pride myself on my creativity and ability to view situations from different vantage points, but that inner tool feels dried up and festering, if such is possible. 

I had a meeting on Wednesday where I was essentially told that progressive thought and innovation are far too risky and not worth potential finger-pointing down the line.  Such sentiments were displayed back in January, too, but hearing such again hurt. I walked home from work and wanted to feel cold instead of solely feeling slightly numb as I do most days. 

I started this graduate program with the greatest of intentions. Simply put, I love watching people connect with content and want to be better in achieving that interaction than anyone else around. I don’t know if that means making money or just inner satisfaction down the road, but the links and the patterns are there for the taking. We are human, and fairly predictable; why not capitalize on that? Why not re-tool how things are done in a slightly radical, but in line with what the viewer/consumer wants sorta way? No…because what if it doesn’t work, an undefined benchmark that’s far too frightening to pursue.  

 To exist in an environment that is so far shriveled up and beyond removed from the energized passionate world I entered over three years ago…that’s what hurts the most. 

My class tonight, taught by a PhD candidate at good ol’ UIC, will see me put together a social media plan and intact it, learning tangible theory along the way. Excellent. Figuring out exactly what I want to create and promote within social networks is a bit of a challenge. My first thought led me to assisting a friend who is in the midst of expanding a business to the Midwest, but I’m somewhat unfamiliar with the wares he provides.

I want to write/create about something I know. I feel like all I know right now is cats, but maybe it’s because I’m watching 30+ lbs. of felines wrestling each other like there is no tomorrow. There’s gotta be something more/else…if not, I probably am about seven cats deficient of the level of cat lady I will eventually evolve into…help…
 I cleaned off that multi-colored carpet yesterday. They have no care or concern for my pet hair removing prodcuts...
only a desire to show off the fuzzy destruction they provide my rugs. Damnit, cats! I don't live that close to IKEA anymore! Have you no decency??
 
These next ten weeks have a multitude of eye-opening possibility attached. I’ll more likely than not be posting my writing efforts for class(es), in regards to reading responses and perspectives on here as well.
I need to update this layout, too. Sigh, so much to do…so much anticipated chalk dust this weekend. 

This rambling, enhanced this evening by an always delightful lone bottle of 312, shall now come to a close.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why is weather.com in Centigrade all of a sudden?

Not going to skirt around the issue, haven’t been in a great place lately. The last entry was the last time I ran, and now it’s almost April. Suffice it to say I have yet to run since.

I’m currently in the midst of my spring break, so it appears—I finished my winter quarter up last week with another set of As. Really odd to just have them pile up like that, especially given my history of a lack of stellar grades. I really thought I would have been able to take a few days off this week—softball is moving away from solely weekend travel and now transitions into midweek and weekend play; such will be the case until mid-May.

I would have liked to have gone to North Carolina, the site of my displaced gentlemen friend for the next 24 days, at least. I’ve been very sullen about his situation (he was sent off to work on a month-long power plant outage with four days warning) and I have nowhere to displace my anger.

The only thing that claims my interest (both literally and figuratively) is school. Three more classes greet me starting next week until early June.

Mondays: Interactive Projects.
Description - This course will introduce students to the process and issues involved in creating interactive design projects for clients. We will look at strategies to understand clients’ needs and reactions to our proposals, as well as strategies to remain flexible and focused when doing difficult projects or when working for difficult clients. We will investigate how various project stakeholders, contractors, employees and outside consultants engage with the life cycle of a project. We will also be putting interactive projects in a historical context, looking at how we got where we are today, particularly over the last fifteen years which have been so critical to the development of the industry. Areas covered will include theoretical developments, changing technology, and current and past 
definitions of successful projects.

Tuesdays: New Media and Market Dynamics
Description - This course will examine the changing dynamics of consumer-media-marketer relations and the impact of digital interactivity on content production and distribution, advertising, and commerce.   Students will explore each of these areas in order to understand the emergence of new business models and the reshaping of traditional connections between consumers, media content, and advertising. The course will use real-time market case studies, problems-solving assignments, and entrepreneurial strategies to examine marketplace challenges. The course seeks to provide students with an analytical context for their individual pursuits and studies.

Thursdays: Social Media Content Strategy
Description - The course examines practices of crafting social media content and designing social media writing campaigns.  Students will explore best practices for social bookmarking, blogging, microblogging and social news with an emphasis on how the structural features of the technologies can be leveraged for targeted message creation.  The course will then examine the convergence of social media writing genres, and provide students with tools to discern which platforms to use for specific rhetorical situations.  Finally, students will review current trends in social media campaigns, develop frameworks for the creation and production of a social media campaign, and assess its impact within a target network.

It’s really frustrating getting to absorb useful information in class and not have the means to enact such professionally. Near the end of last quarter in my graphic design course, I really started to question if gaining this degree is really worth it, especially when my skills and abilities are unwanted and will be “severely reduced” moving forward.

I know and have been told I take things too personally. I wish that was a trait that can just be shut off. It makes the hard times hurt more, sucks the life out of the room. I feel like I’m writing at a fifth grade level, if that. This blog layout is horrible. May.be my social media class will force me to write with purpose, at least academically.

I’m going to go on a run tomorrow. Maybe such will spark the mind.