Category Archives: From the Web

What’s the Font About?

Mags Bryant ’16, Professional Writing and Rhetoric & Creative Writing

Typically, I’m a stickler for Times New Roman, font size 12, single spacing (or double, if necessary). Yes, I’m THAT person. Personally, I feel that in the realm of creative writing, there is no other way to hand off your work. Times New Roman looks professional, clean, and familiar. There’s no room for wondering if a G is a Q or if an I is actually an L. It is the standard. And yet, much like how Comic Sans has its place in the elementary school teacher’s letter to the parents, it seems that experts are finding the same to be true about my favorite font.

I use TNR for a lot of things, but my resume is not one of them. And much like your job experience, the font of your resume matters; it says a lot about you. Earlier this week, Natalie Kitroeff of Bloomberg wrote an article about The Best and Worst Fonts to Use On Your Résumé . There seems to be some controversy surrounding what is the right font for a good resume. Yesterday, NPR provided their thoughts on the Bloomberg article. After reading both, I’ve found that maybe the place for Times New Roman is in essays, articles, and cover letters.

What do you think of their font judgments? Do you agree or disagree? Did you learn something different? Do you use just one font or does your resume get two? Let us know!

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Condensation in Social Media: Where Are We Heading?

Similar to Monday’s discussion about social media changes, we will be discussing condensation within this realm and what such tailoring has done for our communication.

Famously, and sometimes notoriously, Twitter champions what we could call “tailored text”. Rather than have an unlimited amount of space to express one’s thought, only 140 characters are given. In an almost “Challenge Accepted” sort of manner, Twitter users reacted immediately, and tweeting has become an immensely popular form of communicating. theskimm

However, it seems like tailored text is no longer limited to tweets. News sources like theSkimm purposefully deliver the latest information in a compact, quick and simple e-mail. The Wall Street Journal describes the newer form of news as “a daily email newsletter that is transmitted to subscribers weekday mornings at about 6 a.m. Eastern Time. It delivers the news of the day along with a short explanation of the context and import in a just-us-girls voice that manages neither to patronize news junkies nor alienate infrequent readers.” Not to be underestimated, theSkimm is only in its second year and has already picked up 500,000 subscribers. Additionally, they report having a daily open rate of more than 45%, which almost doubles the average media and publishing email campaign  of 23%.

What traditional outlets like newspapers spend millions of trees and dimes on, or what televised media like CNN or Fox News spend all day trying to reiterate, is suddenly handled in a five minute commitment within one’s morning routine. As a user of most of these programs, I have been thinking constantly about such a shift and what it represents for the future of communication. I am one of half a million subscribers, and theSkimm is only a toddler in the social media school. Despite having been a subscriber for only a month, I have already found myself leaning towards the smart phone, rather than picking up a paper or changing a TV channel. Is this the way that things should be going? If we’re cutting communication, what happens next? What happens when there is nothing left to cut?

copyofskimm

Not to say that condensed communication is completely a crime (certainly not through that alliteration); critics often point out how unnecessary and repetitive modern news can become. Countless outlets cover the same topics, and spend massive amounts of time and money on issues that can seemingly be communicated in 140 characters. Is it better, then, to save energy and resources better spent on the next piece of news? Are we becoming more selective in our communication, and choosing to cut out the waste that creates miscommunication, disagreements and overall poor d?

What do you think, readers? Should conversation, particularly in media, be cut down? Or is lengthy and in-depth the way to go?

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The Power of the #Hashtag

Welcome! This week, we will be discussing social media and its power. Specifically, today’s post will relate to the communication, action and overall change of one commanding icon- #.

Within the last couple of years, social media’s pinnacle of communication has become the hashtag. Businesses and organizations alike have been using this symbol to communicate with their audiences. While a hashtag can serve many purposes, they can above all capture a viewer’s attention in a small number of words.

hashtag3

In recent news, hashtags have been called upon for their usage in social media activism. Movements for #YesAllWomen, #BringBackOurGirls, #Kony2012 and #Ferguson have all reinforced, strengthened and furthered their discussion with the use of general social media, and specifically with their hashtags. Suddenly, news is no longer limited to the newspaper over coffee or the radio on the morning commute; hashtags unify most social media forums and have transcended those traditional sources.

Yet, some critics argue that hashtags are overused and only serve to simplify complex issues that need deeper, concrete action. At her commencement speech at Dartmouth College, Shonda Rhimes argued that “a hashtag is not a movement”. She continues to assert that hashtags only involve someone sitting around at their computer, imputing a phrase, and going back to watching television. Others, from Forbes to the Huffington Post, have agreed and find hashtags to be fleeting, unimpressionable and distorted. Within the time frame of #YesAllWomen, tweets pertaining to Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus were just as popular. This discussion certainly serves for a deeper analysis about hashtags and their usage.hashbrown

Whether these symbols serve to create actual change or not, hashtags are infinitely useful for indexing. As soon as a hashtag is used on most forms of social media, it can be utilized as a forum or hub about a particular topic. Click on a hashtag, whether professionally or personally affiliated, and associated posts or discussions pop up. Being able to initiate or contribute to an online conversation has infinite power. Yet, having such freedom allows misspellings or inconsistencies to spawn limitless subtopics or conversations. If businesses does not champion consistency, usability and branding, a hashtag could quickly render them inaccessible and meaningless. As with anything, such power comes with the responsibility.

Should we start with these symbols in order to release the initial message, or does it oversimplify the message to the point of underestimating its importance? As simple as a hashtag is, are a few characters better than none?

#WhatDoYouThink? #HowHaveHashtagsHelped?

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Logos without Text: Modern or Missing?

Hello everyone!

To continue our week dedicated to the exploration of Visual Rhetorics, consider this: there are a number of logos used by uber successful corporations that are branded without text. What? How can this be? It appears that social recognition has been conditioned to the extent in which we recognize many brands by merely their visual based logos.

logo1Some like Starbucks and Chevrolet have recently removed text from their logos, whereas others like Apple have not had text in their logo since 1970. In certain approaches, Windows  has never utilized text in their particular form of visual branding! There is even a board game dedicated to the testing of one’s brand recognition 1! Interestingly, some of these visual based logos are manifestations of symbols that lead to obvious suggestions (apple for Apple, window for Windows, etc.), while some of less distinct and rely more upon social recognition (Chevrolet, Starbucks, etc.). It seems that Facebook and Twitter fall somewhere in the middle, in that their logos are recognizable for both the suggestive image but still rely upon the company context 2.

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With such an evolution of social recognition, it can cause one to ponder. To what extent, will companies utilize text in their future logos? Are text-less logos a way of the future? Is text an outdated element in visual rhetoric? Is the lack of text a suggestion for future endeavors, in that visual rhetoric will incorporate less text and more image recognition? As we create our own logos within PWR classes and for our own personal interest, it will certainly be interesting to see their progression and consider the influence of external companies. 

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Brand Renovation: Is It All About Timing?

Hello readers! Welcome to a new month and a new week of CUPID posts, all dedicated to visual rhetoric. Between traditional rhetoricians like philosophers and modern rhetors like politicians, rhetoric is often associated with speeches, written text, and other forms of oratory practice. However, the use of powerful images, well-used fonts and countless other visual stimuli are a necessity, particularly nowadays. A black and white resume straight from Microsoft Word doesn’t cut it, nor do forgetful logos or inappropriate professional photos. Successful use of visual rhetoric is just as important as traditional oral communication.

elondiningCompanies and organizations in particular utilize visual rhetoric on a regular basis, when creating and redesigning their personal brand with visual components. Yet, the timing of brand renovation can differ greatly, leading one to consider when and why renovation takes place. For example, Olive Garden (a part of the Darden corporation) released a new logo this week as a part of their “brand renaissance” 1. Also, Elon Dining Services recently released their newly designed website. Further, extensive visual reformations can occur on a regular basis (like Starbucks or McDonalds) whereas others take place less often with less changes (like Apple or Coca-Cola) 2.

A number of CUPID Studio and other PWR classes have composed logos and other visuals for many organizations on campus and within Alamance County. Visit the CUPID website to see some of those projects!

It appears that organizations pursue brand renovation for many reasons. Some, like Darden, recognize the necessity for Olive Garden’s revival after a year of less than favorable performance. Comparatively, Elon Dining Services utilized their update to continue delivering the best information to their audience, and embody its organizational culture. Whether out of necessity or for fun, visual branding is a necessary, creative component of organizational culture.

To learn more about visual branding, don’t miss the CUPID Associates’ Visual Branding Lunch on Wednesday at 12:15! Come out to the Studio for a free meal and a collaborative workshop on how to utilize visual branding in professional documents.

 

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Critical Thinkers Wanted? Sounds Like a Job for English Majors to Me…

Yesterday I ran across an article entitled Wanted: More U.S. College Grads With Critical Thinking Skills. In it, Professor Emeritus at Saunders of College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Eugene Fram discusses how the skill of critical thinking seem to be in low supply but in high demand from colleges & universities, employers, and the democracy of the American society as a whole. Fram also discusses how curriculum changes in primary and secondary public schools may play a role in the lack of developing the critical thinking skills of students.

What interested me about this topic is how this isn’t the first time the issue of “critical thinking skills” has appeared on Huffington Post. The previous article was published on Friday, November 8, 2013. On September 19, 2013, CEO of Suntex International Inc., Robert Sun contributed the article Critical Thinking and Our Children’s Need for Deep Practice. In the article Sun argues for the method of the deep practice found in sports to be applied to the learning of academics. Sun also stresses the difficulty of acquiring critical thinking biologically as well as psychologically. A month before that, on Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz contributed the post entitled A Society with Poor Critical Thinking Skills: The Case for ‘Argument’ in Public Education which relates back to Fram’s last contention on the affects poor critical thinking skills have in a democratic society. Especially one such as ours where we have both the freedom of speech and a freedom of the press.Unlike most countries we can hold an open forum on or offline to debate issues in public. Yet when apathy replaces the activity of argument, dialogue, or debate our democracy begins to deteriorate because its citizens cannot understand the valid contentions, information, or logic of those who are different from them.

So if critical thinkers are wanted by schools & universities, employers as well as the government…who could fill this demand?

Well it sounds like a job for the humanities of course, but specifically, it sounds like a job for English majors to me; and here’s why:

  1. No matter if English majors focus on Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), Literature, or Creative Writing critical thinking skills are necessary to successfully complete the major. In PWR we have to think critically about our credibility, audience, and message we want to convey. In the Literature concentration students have to think critically about why, how, when, and who wrote a body of work as well as its affect on society. Similar to the Literature concentration, students in the Creative Writing concentration also analyze the logic and credibility of others writers; their difference lies within their practice of recreating an atmosphere by strategically using words to set the setting, cause, effect, premise, contention, and overall experience of their readers.
  2. At Elon, only the English department has a class on Argument & Debate (shout out to Dr. Barbra Gordon).
  3. Besides Philosophy who else gets to analyze the dialogues of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Cicero, and Quintillion so heavily.
  4. Lastly, even though the Elon’s Philosophy Department is the only academic building that offers an actual PHL210: Critical Thinking class I would argue that English majors may be more qualified for critical thinking positions due to our focus on the application of dialogue in written form.

I understand that the last line of logic falls in to the arena of who’s better Socrates or Plato? This may then lead to analogies of which is “better” the chicken or its egg(s) to allude to how without Socrates we wouldn’t know Plato as we do today. Yet my logic is that Plato is better than Socrates because he decided to write things down instead relying solely on memory and the oral transmission of information. Without such, I could argue (in person or on paper) we wouldn’t have the “computer” nor the level of arts & sciences that we have today.

The above is just an example of argumentation, and critical thinking…not at its finest, but as it stands today. So as I have said before, not to brag or gloat, but when the world asks for critical thinkers I think that English majors are the most ideal as well as our best hope for schools, universities, employers, society and our democracy.

 

-Immanuel

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Your Audience Is Your Friend

A conversation in one of my classes brought my attention to the impact of audience and the significance that writing to a particular group of people has on your work. It drew me to the Highway 64 project that I am currently working on and the pieces that I must write that highlight my travels and my thoughts regarding them. Since these project pieces will be posted online, not only do I have to remain aware of the content will fit onto the site, but also how the genre itself will affect the people reading the content.

With that being said, audience dictates the writing style of a piece more than most people are aware of. Your audience determines the information that you will be including in your piece, the tone and formality, the structure, what ways to effectively translate your points and main ideas, and the genre in which you produce our work. Being cognizant of these elements and implementing the appropriate methods to approach them enables you to create the best content possible and satisfies readers, which should be a personal goal of the writer.

If you are having trouble creating a piece for a specific audience, try looking at the document from an outsider’s perspective. Think of what you would like to know about the topic if you were someone reading about it for the first time. Also, try establishing what the information the audience cares most about is and let that have precedence. Since the piece will cater to the needs of the audience, understanding what they would want to take away from the reading is important. Getting others to read your work and allowing them to ask questions can also help to make tweaks in clarity and gives you more of that outside perspective.

For more information on the best strategies for catering to an audience for academic papers, check out UNC Chapel Hill’s page on the topic.

Some questions to ponder: What Is the difference between an academic audience and non-academic audience? How can thinking of your audience hep you to express your ideas more clearly?

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Webinar: “Succeed Like an Executive: Insights from an IBM Research Study”

On Wednesday, November 13th at 7pm, the MAPC program will host a webinar presented by alumna Kim Stephens. This is their fourth webinar as part of the Alumni Webinar Speaker Series. The webinar is available to anyone who is interested, and it will “detail Kim’s research of over 630 women executives from IBM from a recent executive study on how to have a successful career.” Information will include how to be visible, plan your career, and integrate work and life. To read more about the study, please click here.

To attend the webinar:

  • Click this link: https://connect.clemson.edu/mapc_alumni at 7pm on Wednesday, November 13.
  • Select “login as a student or a guest”, and type in your first and last name.
  • Make sure that your speakers are on and your audio is working.
  • Enjoy an informative and interactive discussion led by an MAPC alumni!

kim_stephens_350x420Kim Stephens is the communications lead for the Advancing Women at IBM Research Study and is the co-author of the study paper. She works in Program Design and Development, IBM Diversity and Inclusion. In her more than 15 years with IBM, Kim has worked as a developer, accessibility advocate, technical writer, senior editor, and senior communications manager.

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Why The Ideal Major is English

What is the purpose of choosing a major in college?

Is it for entering students to:

a)   Be trained for a particular job, career, employer, or industry

b)   Discover/Realize who they are, can be or want to be

c)   Follow a purpose that is relative to the student’s personal motivations and aspirations

d)   All the above

e)   Both “a” and “b”

Think you have the correct answer? Think about if your answer is based your values or ideals.

Members of Elon’s English Department (and the CUPID Associates) may have different stances on what is an “ideal” English major; but if you’re considering becoming (or have argued why you became) an English major I hope that you check out the following article to strengthen your argument.

The Ideal English Major is an article by Mark Edmondson who is a professor of English at the University of Virginia. This essay is adapted from his latest book, Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education. In the article he discusses the value of the worldview an undergraduate English major gains compared to other undergraduate majors such as business administration, economics and the “hard” sciences; which seem to be in high demand by the current labor markets.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the article, and thought I should share it with those who may be on the fence about becoming/being an English major student, professor, or professional.

Here’s the link to the article: The Ideal English Major

Hope this helps!

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Making Social Media Work For You

Nowadays, it is highly unlikely to encounter someone who doesn’t have a social media account. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other similar networks serve as vessels through which people connect from all over the world, sharing common interests, personal information, pictures, and anything else that can be transferred through the web. Seeing as social networks provide a foundation for all of this activity, there is no surprise that handled correctly, your accounts could help with landing that awesome internship or job you’ve been eyeing for the past couple of weeks. While looking up that job or internship, it is important to note that employers are able to gauge who the person is that’s applying for a position with their company or organization, so altering your account while in this process is vital and gets you one step closer to landing whatever you’re after.

A place to start would be to highlight all of your relevant work, internship, or volunteer experiences that you find reflect your best skills on your profile. This lets employers know which of your most valuable assets can be offered to them. It is also best to clean up your profile (delete suggestive pictures, comments, etc.) or create one strictly for professional purposes.

Avoiding any desperate language is another crucial factor, as the Forbes article ” How Social Media Can Help (Or Hurt) You In Your Job Search” outlines. Do not just blatantly ask for a position but show interests in more subtle ways such as referencing an article that surrounds your field or provide others with helpful information that is relevant to that field. This not only shows that you are interested but willing to go out of your way to help others who show just as much curiosity about your industry. “Liking” pages or references is another way to highlight your attentiveness.

By enhancing your profile so that you are presented as an interested and credible candidate, you are able to connect more efficiently. Social media is the perfect arena for networking and creating contacts with the right people which puts you in a good position on any company’s  scale. Always engage in conversation with individuals from your industry, maybe by emphasizing the newest trends in your field and bringing that up on a discussion board or tweet. There are so many different strategies to utilize to make it work in your favor.

Check out the article from Forbes to read more into the benefits of social media or watch the  YouTube video below that also talks about this topic!

 

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