(This Blog Posts alternatively titled “How to Pass English 101 with Professor Morgen”)
As per usual, I decided to test how I could possibly turn an assignment into a humorous and perhaps unrealistic approach to storytelling. With this particular assignment, I decided that I had to recreate my thought process for most my assignments this semester (and to be fair, it isn’t very far from the truth). Looking back at all of my work this semester as a whole was very interesting because I realized that I did some work that I actually really liked and had forgotten about, Horny the Elephant and my Red Highlights Found Poem being the standouts for me. If anyone really wanted a blueprint for how I created most of my work this semester, this is probably the best thing I could give them. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised as to how in depth I went with the steps in the assignment.
I made this assignment while still hungry so of course this the direction that I went in. I tried to think about foods that could be broken down and reassembled. Naturally, the American classic cheeseburger came to mind. When assigning which parts of the burger correlated to which parts of the class I tried to think about what each aspect adds to the burger and see which parts of our class had a similar impact. For example I see Maus as the pivotal and majority of the class so naturally it would be the meat.
Throughout this project, I was concerned that the act of consciously collecting data would actually alter the outcome of the data. The fact that I knew I was recording my actions would probably lead me to increase or decrease that behavior based upon my preconceived notions of whether that activity was positive or negative. Instead, I looked for data that had already essentially been collected and logged. This led me down a little bit of a rabbit hole where I became more mindful not only of the abundance of data that I create, but the amount that companies like Google and Facebook are able to take advantage of that data. I decided to focus on my browser history since I utilize the internet almost constantly. I also believe in being somewhat unbiased with my hypothesis when first starting out with research. I didn’t want initial interests blocking me from finding something intriguing that I wouldn’t have expected. In the course of my searching for a program that could go through my internet history and collect some numbers, I found a browser extension called Web Historian.
These are some heat maps describing my clicking activity versus dates and times.
These are some word clouds constructed from my unique search terms.
This graph describes the amount of time I spend on certain webpages.
As a result of seeing this data, I am most concerned about the times of day I am using the internet. Most of the heat maps show that I was active online in the late evening to early morning. I know that looking at a screen will make it harder for me to fall asleep. An erratic sleeping schedule has also been linked to numerous health issues. I will probably look into another browser extension that limits the websites I can visit during a set window (when I should probably be sleeping). I will probably be looking into other ways to monitor the data I am sending out into the internet in the hopes of being more cautious about companies monitoring my information.
In the future, it will become exponentially easier to track almost every data point you could ever want about your life due to better technology. There is something paradoxical about using technology, something that is definitely not human, to gain a closer understanding of humans / ourselves. I have been thinking about these things more so than I would usually due to this project. Another question I have been thinking about is how technology has affected our lives. I cannot really be a subject for this because I realize I have never really existed in an age where knowledge and computing power have been scarce.
Link to Sketch 10: Data Visualization From Everyday Life Assignment
For this sketch, I immediately starting of things in which many parts comprised one whole item. For some reason, I thought of the way that Thanksgiving dinner is made up of many different dishes. The dishes actually began to relate with assignments we did in class, which I find to be somewhat pleasing. Even though it seems silly, I feel like it makes sense and the idea of our semester of ENG 101 being a Thanksgiving dinner actually seems kind of cute.
I remember looking around the vibrant room, as I sat in a little chair in awe over the drawers filled with arts and crafts supplies, bins that overflowed with toys, and shelves lined with inflatable letter dolls. Each inflatable doll had an expression, action or symbol that was paired with a letter to match. Ms. T had big teeth, Mr. E liked to exercise and carried weights, Mr. N had an elongated nose, and so on. The letter dolls were not only an effective way of learning how to read but also incorporated fun and creativity. I have the letter dolls to thank (and I guess my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Brodie) for my ability to read and write. However, I owe my love and devotion for reading to my grandma and my mom.
My grandma was an English teacher and taught Russian immigrants how to speak, read and write in English. Through her dedication and commitment to helping her students assimilate into American society, I developed an appreciation for the importance of language and my ability to communicate. She showed me how language can be utilized as a tool to find a common ground between people of all backgrounds. My mom was able to witness this firsthand and would tell me stories about my grandma bringing her students back to the house to have some conversations (in English) over a home cooked meal. They would sit in the dining room surrounded by bookcases lined with shelves of books. My Grandma always stressed the importance and value of reading to her kids, and my mom did the same for me and my brothers.
When I was younger, each week after school, my mom and I would go to the library and I could pick out a book for us to read that week. I remember going to the children’s section and looking around with such excitement as I scanned the aisles filled with countless picture books and stories. But the library wasn’t even the best part of it all. Once I picked out my book and signed it out of the library, with my very own library card might I add, I brought the book home to read before bed with my mom. I would get all ready for bed and call her name as I got under the covers. She would come in, turn on my bedside lamp and begin to read to me until I fell asleep. But then suddenly, there was a plot twist in our narrative, and a new character appeared. The worst villain of all: cancer. Along with many aspects of life, our nightly tradition was altered and our roles were suddenly reversed. I would come into my mom’s room, turn on the bedside lamp and begin to read to her. If I could take her mind off of things for just one minute, I would. She fought as hard as she could, but it was relentless. The villain had won, and our story ended far too soon.
I loved our bedtime ritual. I looked forward to it and depended on it. I knew that no matter what happened, I had something and someone waiting for me at the end of the day. Sometimes I go to my mom’s graveside and read to her, but it will never be the same.
For this assignment, I decided to map the book by counting the number of pages with yellow elements. In the book we see that the author used white and purple to illustrate everything; however, on some pages, there are either yellow elements or the whole page is yellow. The use of this color may be a sign of some important event in her life, good memories, or even just light in the room. When I was reading I thought that she used yellow to show only all of the happy moments. However, while I was going over all the pages again for this assignment I noticed that there may be various reasons for using yellow elements. Therefore, as it was mysterious, at least for me, how in some chapters there can be more than ten yellow pages, while in the other chapters there are only three, I decided to focus mainly on this fact. When I started counting all the yellow pages in the book I realized that I have no idea how to visually represent it. After visiting Infogram, I decided to choose this chart as it is the best way to illustrate my assignment.
For this sketch assignment, I decided to simply show which steps we took to complete the class. For sketch assignments, I decided to show 11 bubbles that display 11 separate assignments, which are not related to each other but at the same time they are all in one harmony. For Literacy Narrative assignment I just showed a book as a reference to the whole topic. Comparing Palestine and Pyongyang is also simply illustrated by two books. Mapping Spinning is shown by the recreation of a map with dots that are connecting. And the Reflection letter is also just a simple drawing of a letter.
Every step seemed easy and challenging at the same time. They seemed challenging when we first heard about them but as we were working and discussing, it became clear and possible to do.
Throughout this semester, our assignments have been highly unique and unconventional. For that reason, each assignment presented a new challenge. As someone who was unaccustomed to visual writing and thinking, I noticed that with each task I faced a recurring obstacle. And that obstacle was forethought. Again and again, I found myself at a standstill when trying to conceptualize what I was going to draw, or design, or conceptualize: all while remaining within the assignment guidelines. I found that the harder I thought, the further I became from an idea. Which is why I chose to use the “tip of the tongue” theory as a metaphor for my experience in this class. Ultimately, I realized that most of my ideas came to mind when I stopped thinking. Moreover, when I kept the eventual goal in the back of my mind, and observed stimuli naturally, than I could clearly and decisively conceptualize a connection between them.
My life has never been prioritized by a particular sport or passion. So when reading this novel, I was astonished by how much skating consumed Tillie Walden’s everyday life. Let alone at such a young and impressionable age. So almost immediately, I knew that I wanted to map the novel’s depiction of her time spent skating. I wanted to visualize how often she was on the ice, and how often she was elsewhere. But, I immediately figured that the majority of her time “off the ice” would still be spent near the rink, so I wanted to include time spent near the rink in addition to time spent outside it.
I decided to dummy code the variables: assigning each of them numerical values. I coded a “0” for time spent outside the ice rink (at school, at home, etc.). A “1” for time spent near the rink (locker room, benches, etc.). And a “2” for time spent on the ice (practicing or competing). So for each page where Tillie appeared skating, I recorded a “2,” and followed suit for the other two variables.
My first impression of the original data map was that it looked like a barcode. My second was being surprised by how little time was recorded outside the ice rink. I was also surprised to gather that the majority of the pages depicted Tillie near the rink, and not actually on the ice. I was most intrigued, however, by the gaps in the bar graph, which symbolized time spent outside the rink. In developing my final data map, I uncovered that nearly all of the novel’s major events took place during these periods, including: Tillie meeting Lindsay, Tillie spending the night with Rae, and Tillie coming out to her parents. Furthermore, it seemed that each of these moments symbolized key developmental stages in Tillie’s life. Nearly every positive interaction within the novel took place outside the ice rink. Meanwhile, events that occurred on and around the ice largely consisted of ruminations, frustrations, and negligible banter.
These quantitative and qualitative findings led me to conclude that Spinning is not really about skating, but about stages of growth in adolescent life. Among the most important of these stages being a struggle to discover, accept, and embrace one’s identity. I have gathered that Tillie’s confinement to the ice rink was more or less a metaphor for her inability to embrace her homosexual identity.