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Poet Posts...

I have several blogs, some public and some not-so-public. This blog is specifically for ramblings on "digital writing" and how we might use new technologies to improve the writing skills of students. My other blogs range from photos of my cats to updates on life in Minnesota so my friends can share in my adventures. In some ways, these are the same uses students have: vanity sites (who else cares about my cats?) and keeping in touch with friends. The question we need to ask is if using these technologies can improve writing in ways other tools might not. Or, are we merely entertaining students with new toys, deceiving ourselves into thinking what is more exciting must result in more learning.

I am a skeptic, having been a business owner, corporate executive, and college administrator. Technology might not only do little good, it might encourage bad habits and mistaken notions of what is acceptable when writing later in life.

My first required posts will be this weekend. I've never bothered with YouTube or online videos because video tends to hurt my eyes and cause literal physical discomfort. I have seen YouTube videos on television and wonder why people would seek out such things. Let us hope the video blogs I view are somewhat more appealing. Just seeing what is listed as "most popular" on YouTube and MySpace should scare any social critic.

I'm not sure asking students to frequent sites best known for videos of profane comedy and stupid stunts ending badly is wise. Maybe I can be convinced otherwise, but I am a skeptic.


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What I Studied in Graduate School

Lower case ‘a’ from Adobe Caslon Pro, superposed onto some guides. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Asked to summarize my research projects...

Curiously, beyond the theses and dissertation, all my work is in economics of media and narrative. I ask what works and why when offering stories to audiences. What connects with an audience and can we model what audiences want from narratives? (Yes, you can model data on narratives and what "sells" and what wins awards and what nobody wants.)

Yet, my degree research projects all relate to design of writing spaces, as knowing what works is also key to knowing what could be "sold" to users.

MA: How poor LMS UI/UX design creates online spaces that hinder the writing process and teacher mentoring of students.

Also: The cost of LMS design and compliance with legal mandates for usability.

Ph.D: The experiences of special needs students in online settings, from commercial spaces to games to learning spaces and which spaces are best desig…

Comic Sans Is (Generally) Lousy: Letters and Reading Challenges

Specimen of the typeface Comic Sans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Personally, I support everyone being able to type and read in whatever typefaces individuals prefer. If you like Comic Sans, then change the font while you type or read online content. If you like Helvetica, use that.

The digital world is not print. You can change typefaces. You can change their sizes. You can change colors. There is no reason to argue over what you use to type or to read as long as I can use typefaces that I like.

Now, as a design researcher? I'll tell you that type matters a lot to both the biological act of reading and the psychological act of constructing meaning. Statistically, there are "better" and "worse" type for conveying messages. There are also typefaces that are more legible and more readable. Sometimes, legibility does not help readability, either, as a type with overly distinct letters (legibility) can hinder word shapes and decoding (readability).

One of the co…

MarsEdit and Blogging

MarsEdit (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Mailing posts to blogs, a practice I adopted in 2005, allows a blogger like me to store copies of draft posts within email. If Blogger, WordPress, or the blogging platform of the moment crashes or for some other reason eats my posts, at least I have the original drafts of most entries. I find having such a nicely organized archive convenient — much easier than remembering to archive posts from Blogger or WordPress to my computer.

With this post, I am testing MarsEdit from Red Sweater Software based on recent reviews, including an overview on 9to5Mac.

Composing posts an email offers a fast way to prepare draft blogs, but the email does not always work well if you want to include basic formatting, images, and links to online resources. Submitting to Blogger via Apple Mail often produced complex HTML with unnecessary font and paragraph formatting styles. Problems with rich text led me to convert blog entries to plaintext in Apple Mail and then format th…