EN3177: My Final Project Reflection

This is where grandma hides the cookies.

This is where grandma hides the cookies.

The Weblogs and Wikis final project was everything I hoped it would be going in. I knew it was going to be fun because the students were allowed to take what they learned from the class and use it in a way they wanted—meaning I was allowed to do my project on hockey blogging.

Looking back on my proposal, which most essentially was to create a popular hockey blog, I think I did as good a job as I could have based on my work situation, although I did stray from it a bit at times and went in different directions as I learned more.

While doing writing for my blog, I did a lot of outside reading on other blogs that were similar to what I wanted mine to become. The Missing Manual book on how to use WordPress allowed me to do everything I tried to do with it—which was mostly all about the layout (something I concentrated on for a week or so)—so that was helpful, but reading blogs like Puck Daddy and Russo’s Rants made me come to a few realizations for this project and those are the things I’d like to focus on for my reflection.

TWITTER
First off, it takes time for a blog to mature and gain popularity. When I was writing my proposal, I didn’t believe that I was going to be a famous hockey writer by Week Five, but I thought support would come more naturally than it realistically could have. My goal with integrating Twitter into this was to do it that way, but I also wanted to develop the account more before I publicized it.

Yes, I would post links to my posts, but looking at other well-known hockey  blogger Twitter accounts, I noticed that there had to be more. I wanted to watch every game and have some additional information that I wouldn’t necessarily blog about. There simply wasn’t enough time to do this on a nightly basis. The Twitter account was set up, but never really going because of this.

THE POSTS
When the idea of having a large quantity of quality tweets wasn’t very realistic, I tried to up my frequency of posting and I believe I at least accomplished that as it rolled along. Looking at other blogs, I saw that there were a lot of posts like the ones I was doing, but there were a lot of smaller posts on smaller stories. A majority (if not, all) of my posts were on the longer side and were well-thought-out and time-consuming to finish, which I felt met the criteria for earning my 250-point contract (several posts a week of 500+ words).

This was really good for me as far as developing my blogging and web writing abilities, but it didn’t afford me the time to do smaller stories. This is okay, though, because you don’t want to go without posting on the big things and fall out of the loop. Doing this project did get me more into reading anything and everything about the sport and enhanced my knowledge of the game.

ALL BY MYSELF
Looking elsewhere on the web made me think of something else. Every successful hockey blog has a staff and now that blogging has become more respected, some of these writers are being granted access to the press box at games. This is something that wasn’t available to me during the project. The really good blogs are done by bloggers that work at their craft as a full-time job. I go to school and have another full-time job of my own that involves loads of writing on a daily basis. If I could do it over, I would’ve liked to be the editor of my own blog, meaning I would have some hockey-crazy friends send me in a blog or two per week that I could read over and post.

If I really had it my way, it would be a full-time job and would consume my life.

I claimed that I would continue my blog in the future and after learning about this, this will likely not be the case to the extent that I implied it would in class. However, this is all because I have talked with a couple of my friends and we have decided to make a website in which I will be able to put this project to good use.

In short, we will be creating and maintaining a Western Massachusetts sports website. The local newspaper (which I work for part-time) there runs a site called masslive.com, which is currently the only place for Western Mass. sports coverage (it also has all other kinds of news that would be in a newspaper). We will be looking to overtake that site, sports-wise, with a site of our own, in which I will cover high school and AHL hockey. It will develop over the next year while I finish my work at BSU and could turn into more of a full-time gig if it pans out (the friend I am creating it with is unemployed, so there is an incentive there to get it going). I find this to be really exciting.

TIME NOT ON MY SIDE
One thing I wish I could change about the project would probably be the timeframe. There may be some projects that had enough time to run their course in five weeks, but I noticed in my studio tours and from our last face-to-face meeting that a lot of projects take a long time.

Going into the project and hearing ‘this is what you’ll be working on for the rest of the semester’ led my mind to believe I had all the time in the world and because I knew it was something I really wanted to do made my mind really ambitious (I tried to temper that with the proposal a bit, however) to get started.

I feel like this is something that—well, it could go on forever—would be better suited for a full semester project or something that could be taken into a Weblogs & Wikis II or something of the sort, where the sole focus is the project. It could be different if I only had school to deal with, but this is the way I started to feel after the first couple weeks.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Overall, the project really was what I expected it to be in that there were a lot of things I didn’t really expect (see all the above). If people make a living off doing blogs, it couldn’t be that easy. It certainly wasn’t.

I really did get a lot out of doing this, though. I have a much better understanding of what it takes to run a blog and that was my biggest internal goal going into it. I think my project turned out great and I did a lot of quality sportswriting. Another goal I had was to build a foundation for the future, and I definitely accomplished that. Before I move on to my Western Mass. sports website, I will probably try to continue on the blog I did for this class.

My biggest external goal, which was in my proposal, was to write about ‘all things hockey’ and I did that. I wrote on college hockey, the NHL, and the AHL. I had extensive posts on each category and I think I also did a good job using tags in all my posts. I used pictures in almost all my posts and ended up integrating video, too.

The one week that set me back was the week of the Boston Marathon Bombings, but I think I even made the most of that, despite working, traveling to and from Sioux City, Iowa on a bus and staying up for 50 hours straight at one point.

This project will be one that I won’t soon forget and will play a role in my future—the very near future. It was a very worthwhile experience.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

#EN3177 THE PROJECT: WEEK 5

This week flew by (don’t they all) and even though the project is ending, I’m still excited about my blog. I’ve learned a lot throughout this whole process and I know I can do this now. Work-wise, this entire semester has been ridiculous and I still blogged and tried out a bunch of stuff I wanted to try.

This week, my big blogs were an intro to the AHL playoffs and the second part of my three-part college hockey recap. The project may be over, but there’s no doubt that the third edition of that blog will come in the next week.

I have been reading around other blogs from the hockey/sports world and realized many things that I could apply to my experience. Here are a few:

  • This project was probably too short. One of the only things that can allow a big sports blogs to blow up quick is a big platform. Even then, it takes more than a month. That’s why WGHTC will have to continue on. You have to start somewhere and stopping now would defeat the purpose of the project for me. There is so much more to learn and so much more to improve upon. I wish this class was a two-semester class and that the project carried over the summer into the fall…but this was still a good start.
  • I could use a staff. How didn’t I realize this earlier? Every blog I read has multiple people doing the work. It seemed a little inappropriate to have other people help me with MY class project, so I didn’t risk it, but now that the blog isn’t just a project, maybe I can get some friends to help me keep the posts rolling in.
  • I don’t have to follow EVERY SINGLE game all over the world to write a quality blog. If I keep my finger on the sport the way I did, I can still use other internet sources to help get a better understand. I don’t know everything about hockey and never will, but the combined knowledge of everyone on the internet comes close to that and can help me get a fuller perspective.

In this last week, I added a third category of blogs with the AHL and I crammed a lot of storylines into my first post. After being glued to the action this weekend, I’m already excited to add more to the category this week (or whenever the first round ends). As far as hockey in North America is concerned, there major bases are all covered, which is pretty cool.

The college hockey blogs takes A LOT of time. Before writing last week’s first half summary, I didn’t realize how tough that was going to be. If you’re going to attempt to cover an entire season, you have to cover it from all angle and try to pay attention to everyone. I pay big attention to the WCHA, but I can’t have an attitude that “the WCHA is awesome and this is how the season went…oh, and two teams from the ECAC just swooped in out of nowhere and played for the national championship.” It was honestly a pretty fun challenge.

#EN3177 Studio Tours

My studio tour start off with Jordan’s and I thought it was an interesting idea from the get-go. When I was doing my project, I didn’t really consider going in the wiki direction, so this was a cool one to start with. The project focuses on using the wiki as a study aid. This is an interesting idea because if wikis do make good study aids, then it would be very practical.

The first thing I noticed about his proposal is that it was very thorough and structured. From what I can see by looking at the project site, it is going according to plan.

Just from clicking around the wiki, I think this is panning out very well. The notes section is jam-packed with notes. Having the notes online makes everything very accessible from just about anywhere. Everything on the site is well-linked and easy to find. I really think I could gather a lot of information the class teaches even though I’m not in it, which is pretty cool.

Another aspect that I like about it is that if there is a site for a course, it is usually made by the teacher. Because the student is making and actively maintaining it and doing things like listing and defining key terms on the side, it is likely very useful for the students in the class. Most students are in the shoes in the same shoes as other students and need to use some teamwork and this allows them to do it. It’s very simple to understand and if you don’t get it, Jordan’s contact info is right there.

I’m interested in seeing Jordan’s final reflection, but from my perspective, it looks like the goals are being met here.


My next tour was through Devan’s blog. Like Jordan’s project, this was another one I could get behind. I play one videogame and one videogame only and that’s NHL13, but I love the idea and could see myself doing something similar with with my own gaming experience.

Though I don’t really know anything about Runescape, I feel like reading this could give me enough background to get into it if I ever have the time. Looking through the posts, you see a lot of the nuances of the game and why it is so interesting.

One thing I admire about the project is that the posts here are very consistent and in-depth. The use of links is great, as well. After also looking at one of the blogs she said she was modeling her’s after in her proposal (Jax’s), I’d say I could learn more for Devan’s. The layout of the site is also really cool as it incorporates tweets from an account unique to the project and tags from her posts. The background and layout is also very appealing and gives me the impression it has to do with a game without even reading it.

I’m a big fan of this project and based on the contract from the proposal, I’d say she’s exceeding her own expectations. Great work.


Dennis’ project is one that I actually remember hearing about in class. When he said he was cleaning up an already-former wiki, I wondered how much of a project that could actually be because it seemed like something you could possibly finish in a relative short amount of time. When I saw his name three spots below mine on the list and looked into it, it was impressed. I guess I didn’t know how maintain a wiki as a project would work.

Based on his blog, I’m really impressed with his work. The Abarat wiki is looking very clean and I can pick up the plot of the story very well. The purpose of the project is being fulfilled in every way. I can see and learn about the characters and how the stories play out.

Dennis seems to be interacting with the other contributors to the wiki and that’s really what wikis are all about. The wiki’s details seem very refined.

Another thing I like is that he has integrated information and thoughts on the book into the blog, so I can tell he’s really into what he’s doing. The screen caps also help show exactly what he’s doing to help out.

I think Dennis, like Jordan and Devan, is doing a really good job and I am interested to see what the project looks like in a couple weeks.

Tagged

#EN3177 THE PROJECT: WEEK 4

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 8.09.11 PM

Massachusetts State Police Superintendent and Col. Timothy Alben. An East Longmeadow, Mass. (my hometown) native got a lot of face time on national TV last week.


That was probably the most memorable and crazy week of my life.

Given everything that happened this week, I’d say the blog turned out pretty well. My Monday plan to bang out a quick college hockey recap blog were completely derailed when a bomb went off at a place I’ve been to around a lot in my life and it took be all day to see if all my friends were okay. It turns out the closest I came to a friend being hurt was in the form of a high school buddy, who was DJing at the Marathon finish line and was about 150 feet away from the blast. A lot of friends also finished the race within five minutes of the explosions and a lot of them were pretty shaken up.

I scrapped the plan to start the week with the college hockey recap when I realized a lot of sports teams would be involved in helping Boston get over the tragedy. I decided to make a blog about that instead. I did my best to make it good and to use a lot of videos and pictures and links because the outpouring of support for Boston was great in quality and quantity. Of all my posts from this semester, that’ll probably be the one I go back to look at when I’m done. It was an emotional and intense time.

Thursday night, I was working on the college hockey recap and all of a sudden I was following police scanners and tweets on a 20-hour internet manhunt. I was working on my college hockey blog, but it came along slow and steady and was finished Sunday (I had to make sure my friends were safe). I set it up so I didn’t cram together a low-quality post. It’s going to be a three-part series.

The posts this week were some of my best even though I averaged about two hours of sleep per night this week (stayed up 40 straight hours thanks to the manhunt), and was stuck without the internet for a last-minute bus trip to Iowa. If I got through this past week, I can get through any blogging obstacles (hopefully I don’t though). The fact that they caught the bombers helped quite a bit with that. See you next week!

BostonStrongRibbon

#EN3177 THE PROJECT: WEEK 3

The blog entered a bit of a transition phase this week as the college hockey season came to an end. I made a few posts on the NHL earlier in the week because I knew I had a busy work weekend ahead and that the college hockey season was coming to an end. I will try to get some kind of in-depth season recap up early in the week and transition to the AHL (minor league hockey) next week. I am kind of following the route of other bloggers I follow in doing this, so at least I’m not alone.

Also, this week. I formed a Twitter strategy that I will begin implementing this week. I made a (private) list of hockey-related tweeters (bloggers, beat writers, TV and radio personalities, etc.) and will begin getting more into that in the next couple days.

Anyway, I posted five times in my blog this week in attempt to get my rhythm back after focusing more on cosmetics last week. I started with an NHL blog about how the Minnesota Wild made a big trade earlier in the week and gave my thoughts on the deal. In sports, there are important days in every season where big things are expected to happen and these are things that a blogger can write about for a week.

Because I started out with a Minnesota-focused blog during the week, I wanted to show my focus wasn’t just on my childhood favorite team, so I blogged about the Marian Gaborik trade to Columbus. Yes, there is a Minnesota connection in there, but that is not the focus of the article. I felt  my Massachusetts and Minnesota ties were reflected a bit in my earlier work and this was one of the headline deals (so was the Wild one, even from an unbiased point of view), so I got something out there on that.

After ending the previous week with NHL blogs and starting this week with more NHL blogs, I wanted to get the college game involved a bit before it ended. Obviously I was going to write about the Frozen Four, but I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen anyone else do, so I wrote about the college players who turned pro after their teams’ seasons ended. Just making a list of players is the typical protocol for this, but I went deep and made some breakdowns. I will also be able to return to this in a couple weeks when more players turn pro.

As expected and planned since the start of this blog, I made two blogs on Frozen Four, where I made predictions (albeit incorrect ones) on those games to finish off the week. Once you write three blogs during the first two rounds of the tournament, it kind of makes it a must to finish it off with the final three games of the season.

As I said before, I will work on recapping that season early this week and start focusing on both the AHL and NHL, as the seasons of those two leagues are getting to the exciting parts (the lead up to and the playoffs themselves).

I’m surprised that I have actually been able to continue making weekly progress to the extent I have and I’m happy to get the opportunity to do the same in the week ahead!

#EN3177 THE PROJECT: WEEK 2

Another week of the project is down and more progress was made.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 11.38.36 PM

The new grandascookies.wordpress.com!

Links: Where Grandma Hides the Cookies | WGHTC Twitter | WGHTC April Posts

First off, I changed the look of the website to incorporate more into the homepage. All the recent articles are there and the tags are now more uniform (so they at least look more organized) with a small, yet all caps font. There is also a tag cloud now, which is useful because I have been using tags much more. I also like the archive and categories subsections on the side because with my posts from this week, I now have multiple categories and have posted in multiple months. I know this blog is going to go at least into May and I will try to add a third category (AHL) this week.

Like I said I would last week, I made a Twitter account for a the blog, which took longer than I though to set up the way I wanted. I finally got it down and made my first post today and I think it goes well with the blog. Before I promote the Twitter account (@WGHTC), I have to sit down and figure out what I will be tweeting about. I have to fill my own timeline with something other than links to my own blog post, but can’t report on everything in the hockey world (obviously). I must find a balance. I do like the way the WordPress allows me to incorporate Twitter with my blog and I set up a bitly link shortener account, so my Tweets look better (literally).

The last thing my blog’s new appearance does is use the photos I put in there by displaying them all on the front page. I think that’s pretty cool.

My posts this week weren’t as long text-wise as they were last week, but I feel the quality still went up. I use photos and provided what I think is a comfortably heavy portion of links. I also used video and some other formatting techniques from Web Content Writing (ex: shorter paragraphs and bulleted lists).

This week, I will continue progress on making everything I do bigger and more read, although I did pick up some blog followers this week. I will also get around to changing the ‘About’ section and will look to continue/increase my rhythm.

Another exciting week of blogging awaits!

#en3177 The Project: Week 1

Finally, the time came to start this long-awaited project (link to that blog here). I come out of the first week very encouraged, but still with several goals to reach for in the next week.

The news was kind of slow early in the week and because I had so much work to do in previous weeks, the NCAA hockey tournament–my favorite sports event of the year–almost completely passed me by. Instead of focusing on the more minor details of the blog, I decided it was best to dive right in and prove to myself that I could get in a rhythm. By posting over 4,000 words of content in four blog posts for the first three days of the tourney, I think I did just that.

I found a simple theme with a lighter background that I wanted and it may just stick. With long posts I also made good use of the ‘Read More’ option so that site visitors aren’t overwhelmed by text on the home page. I liked my ‘About’ page from this blog, so I used that on my new blog–it’s still applicable. I made good use of tags in all of my posts and gained a follower or two even though I have done little to publicize it so far.

That’s where my goals for the upcoming week start. I will now start a Twitter page for my blog and try to get the word out. I didn’t want to start to do this before there was anything to read. While continuing to make daily posts, I will try to tweak the ancillary sections of the site (Twitter feed, blog roll, etc.). I will also tweak the ‘About’ section a little bit to describe what the blog will focus on instead of making it all about the author.

There are only a couple concerns I have now. First off, I noticed none of my links from this week worked I had to go back and re-link them–not sure what happened, but I went back and fixed it. Hopefully, this will be done by the morning. Secondly, I planned on using only photos that I took for the blog, but have realized that I only have a limited amount of those and will run out very quickly. I will incorporated more videos for next week though, so I’m not super concerned about this.

Overall, I will have consider this week a success and I think it will parlay into a successful week next week because there is enough to do and I’m having fun with it at the same time.

#en3177 Time Continues to Fly: Another Week In the Books

Down goes another week that makes me wish I had more time to sleep. I made my first of three business trips to the Twin Cities and watched my alma mater end my favorite women’s hockey team’s season, which hurt a little. At least I got to catch up with some of my Gopher men’s hockey friends, including a couple of my favorite players, who will be visiting Bemidji this week as I leave to watch the remaining WCHA women’s teams play for a league trophy.

Unfortunately, the thousands of dollars I paid to attend the University of Minnesota wasn’t enough to get reasonable parking all weekend or a consistent internet connection, so my plan to explore the class Wiki had to wait until Sunday.

As far as the Wiki goes, I started out by opening a few too many tabs to remember what I was trying to accomplish, so with the readings in mind, I just skimmed through the work that had already been done. When I was ready to make my first post, I was overwritten by another classmate that was on at the same time, but I finally ended up getting something on there.

My thought heading into the weekend, when I planned on being able to get online, was to edit my Wiki page to start and make it more like the one I have for Web Content Writing class as my Thursday/Friday contribution and then use the readings to do something else Sunday. Instead, I had to do everything Sunday, but it got done and I think I communicated what I wanted to, so I’m satisfied with it.

I would use this space to give more thoughts on the Wiki, but I did that earlier (link to the Wiki below). The one area that gave me trouble this week was finding where to dig in to the Wiki. As I mentioned earlier, I had a lot of tabs open and didn’t know where to start or to make my contribution, so I just went with my best judgement. I’m sure this will change as we go further with Wikis. It took a couple weeks to feel out WordPress too. I just wanted to write about the Wiki culture and what seems to be a type of etiquette. Just being on the Wiki and going through it is pretty fun and makes class more interesting.

Before I get rambling, I’ll end by saying that work and school has been a killer combination for me to this point in the semester. Though I hated seeing the BSU women’s hockey team lose, the good part is that I can finally blog/Wiki (is that a verb yet?) more and give more attention to softball, while sneaking in some more sleep. Nowhere to go but up!

With all that said, thank you for reading and here are links to my stuff from this week:

#en3177 Four for the Future

Last week, before getting into the wiki, our class posted about what’s next for the weblog. Here is a small clippings section of what stood out to me when going through other classmate’s posts on the subject:

  • Joe posted on how Twitter is the new job resume. As an SID, this is something we hope our athletes know–there are people that look up to them reading their Twitter accounts and there are also possible future employers. It can be frustrating to censor yourself sometimes, but it may be worth it.
  • Matt blogged about bloggers and the law. Within his post was a useful article on the subject that should help clear things up. It ends with a familiar question from this course.
  • Jordan made a post about the future of blogging, showing some perspectives from the book and from other bloggers he found online. There are several different directions blogging can go and many different ways to handle it.
  • I was afraid to do a timeline, but still hoped to see one of my classmates make one. Jack did that in his look into the future of blogs.

There were a few more good ones that I would include if we weren’t limited to four, but that’s what I got for now. On to wikis now…

Tagged

#en3177: Week No. 6

In terms of my life outside of class, this was a week I wouldn’t want to have to deal with–I am in desperate need of some sleep. After realizing this Monday morning after driving all the way home from Chicago overnight–this came after a sleepless two sleepless nights because of hockey and baseball work in Minneapolis–I realized it again when I noticed that I saved my posts from earlier in the week as drafts on WordPress instead of publishing them.

From a Weblogs and Wikis perspective, however, this was a week I’d like to refer back to in the future. Speaking of the future, the future of blogging is partially what the week was focused on.

The big question of the week was: what’s next for blogs? This was tough because there is no answer (unless you have a time machine). I did a notebook on notebooks last week and even though, in my head, I wanted to answer this using something more visually appealing like a timeline, I had too many thoughts racing on the subject. Therefore, I went the notebook route again.

This week I learned some more about blogs in general and learned about some terms for things I already use like CMS and formed an opinion (maybe more of a fact that we went over already): blogs are here to stay. The only question one that asks how they will change and evolve, which is what the whole class tried to answer. After doing the reading, nothing really caught my eye to give me the next genius idea that would change blogging as we know it other than simplifying the blog experience as much as possible and cutting costs.

I decided to post on the first two chapters of the reading because they were the most interesting to me and I wanted to go a bit off my normal radar, which is what I did by posting on fictional blogs. My observations on the chapter may have been simplistic, but the exercise helped me quite a bit.

After doing that post, I delved into rich media blogging, which is something I’ve tried to experiment and work with in the past, so that was fun for me.

The only questions that come up after this week are ones that will be answered by reading the blogs of my classmates because I’m interested to see what they think the future of blogging will entail.

Anyway, here are my posts from this week: