Monday, September 24, 2012

Communication Arts

I am learning so much at work and I had to share. We are in a degree for Strategic Communications, but that communication happens as much with pictures as it does with words. I am responsible for creating these five minute PowerPoint based presentations that will have questions at the end to check for understanding.

I have the privilege of working with one of our professionals over in Interactive Media Services that also happens to be an instructor at Otis College of Art and Design. (Click here to check the school out.) He and I had a couple of meetings and then I was off to design my PowerPoint slides. Well, let's just say I did not do well my first time out. I thought I had listened to everything he said, but alas to put it mildly...I FLOPPED.

He has shared so much with me over the last week about communicating visually and I know that this is enhancing the coursework I am doing here at NU. I feel at times though like I am in TWO Master's programs, because I have to get what he is teaching me quickly because we are under some stringent deadlines.

I would like to recommend to those of you that have to do visual presentations to really not only consider the words that go on your slides, but the images as well. The backdrop however can make or break a presentation. With budgets being reduced, we may not have the graphic staff of days before to make our words look pretty visually and so as Moshe' (my tutor/instructor/mentor) has said it is important to know how to use the tools available to you.

Some recommended reading will follow. Who knew...but as the old saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words."

Duarte, N. (2008). slide:ology. Cambridge, MA: O'Reilly.

Reynolds, G. (2010). Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.

Williams, R. (2008). The Non-Designer's Design Book. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.

Wood, B. (2010). Teach Yourself Visually PowerPoint 2010. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publilshing, Inc.

A couple of websites he recommended were:

Powerpoint design tips for beginners (Read this first)

General design tips:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Finally back...

Last month was an interesting month and I am feeling the effects of my wonderful Master's program. Yesterday I turned the nifty fifty and so life has been quite busy for me.

Let's catch up...last month I took Communications in a Global Environment with Dr. Sara Kelly and thoroughly enjoyed the class. Looking at communications styles and how they affect us and the world in which we live was an eye-awakening experience. We communicate on a daily basis and never really take the time to think about the impact it will have on our life or the life of others. As I catch up on posting I will include more content from that class as it was a rich experience I want to share with you here.

This month my class is Content Distribution Processes and Technologies with Dr. Jill Thayer and it has me on toes already. Most of the posts for this class will be me pondering over a short, difficult read for the class called Simulations by Jean Baudrillard. It was translated from French in 1983 and let's just say it is like the Matrix meets Inception meets Star Trek!!!! Quite a read it will be.

Well it is a Friday afternoon and I would not let this day pass without posting on my blog again. Posts will be more regular now.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real Life

Last night I had the honor to do my 12 Step Inventory with my sponsor. What a wonderful experience. I do the 12 Steps for my issues with codependency & issues with food.

Writing out your issues in black & white, then sharing them with someone you love & trust that is trained to take you through an in-depth self-evaluation is communication at its highest form. Why? Because self-communication & self-knowledge are very liberating. The adage "know thyself" cane to mind over & over again in ny mind as I went through that process.

Nothing in my Inventory was new to me, but the way we were asked to evaluate each topic, had me dig deep in my gut for answers. This experience juxtaposed against my class this month made me think today I am the global environment through which these messages are coming through. In order to communicate to & with others effectively the first communication must come from our internal terrain. This is real life...the junk in our trunk!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I am loving my new class and I have been introduced to a new software called Jing. What one does is make a PowerPoint presentation and then Jing allows you to do voice overs explaining what the slides mean. So a presentation without having to video your FACE!!!

It is my favorite price FREE and I had a ball doing it. Simple to download, watched about five YouTube videos on how to work it and walah!!! Class is going well, the reading is KILLER, but I am holding my own. I love this topic of Communicating in a Global Environment. I am learning a lot about myself and what I actually believe about communication and communication styles. Who knew there was a belief system there, but by golly there is!!!

My classmates are articulate and we really have some wonderful discussions in our required threaded conversations...all those years sharing on Facebook make this a natural part of my learning experience. For my teacher last month, Theresa Collington, I promised on my last post to include the titles of the books we are using this month. So here we go Theresa with anchor text and all. The first text is Interpersonal Messages: Communication and Relationship Skills, Second Edition by Joseph A Devito. The second required test for the class is Intercultural Communication by Samovar, Porter and McDaniel. Both texts are excellent reads and while the first gives you a perspective of communication from a general framework, which I appreciate since my undergrad degree is not in Communications, the second does exactly what it says and provides an intercultural understanding of what I would call the new communication model that will be required in a globalized environment.

Back to work on my 750 word essay, due this Sunday...ahhhh, the rigors of graduate school.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A New Direction

I originally started this blog as a requirement for my first Master's class because we had to post our assignments in an online blog format. Over the weekend I decided that I want to use this blog to chronicle my Master's experience.

I have just begun my next class - Communication in a Global Environment and let's say that the professor, who also happens to be my faculty advisor, must think that we do not have full-time jobs with the amount of reading required for this class. I had her first online lecture last night and let's just say I am so happy to be doing my degree in the field of Strategic Communications. I am an avid communicator and am loving learning about the different ways that we get messages out to the world.

We have two huge texts this month...uuugggghhhh and sorry Theresa I will have to put some anchor text to the books in my next post as I need to start reading them now!!! I just wanted to say hi to anyone that may want to follow this blog for at least the next year (maybe beyond) as I begin my formal foray into the world of professional communication.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Final Analysis

Journalism 620 – Online Publishing
Professor: Theresa Collington
July, 2012

Bringing It All Together

Theresa Collington, journalism professor for National University, in her class Online Publishing (JRN 620), taught students the importance of thinking about what, how, why and how a journalist posts information in an online environment. The class was centered around weekly chats, three books, four quizzes and weekly writings used to show understanding of the material presented.

The first book studied was Steve Krug’s, Don’t Make Me Think. Krug simply instructed the reader to present content in such a way that it is intuitive and not a lot of thought should have to go into navigating the site.  In Jane Clifford Mickler's review of the book she writes "As he points out, part of the problem is with the people who create the sites. They are design experts and want their sites to be oh-so sophisticated to stand out from the zillions of other sites. Krug writes that they design “for” themselves." Though the site may be beautiful to look at and design worthy of several prizes, if it is not usable for the general public, then all the design savvy goes out the window. Mark Taylor's observations follow Jane's in that "Steve Krug, an advocate for concision and brevity, provides readers with an analysis that details just how much of a disservice websites are to the average Internet surfer." Tameeko Mullen's final comment in her analysis of the book was, "The reader does not have to do much thinking while reading this guide but at the same time is able to retain good advice on how to make their website as usable as possible without feeling like they just stepped out of a mind spinning class for developers learning how to code"

The next book required only one chapter of reading and that was Aim for the Heart by Al Tompkins where students dived into the type of material that should be included in these easily navigable pages. As the title of the book suggests, Tompkins believes heavily in online storytelling and the way you tell the story is drastically different then you would tell it in print or broadcast. Kirby Harrison succinctly summarized the required chapter's reading by saying, "A big part of attracting the readers to our articles are the headlines and the promise we make to our audience. Al Tomkins pointed this out using the main motivator to attract the audience, Money, Family, Safety, Health and Community. Using one or more of these motivators should attract a greater audience. Search engine optimization (SEO) is another great way to attract your audience." In Michael Simpson's review he shared this cocept well by saying, "Stories that pull at the heartstrings will not only be remembered but retold to co-workers, friends, or families. Then you’ve not only affected those who were there for the original story, but so many more as well." Nebo Uyanwah  also had an outstanding take on the concept of the book when she said, "The book doesn’t make me think of me being the writer it makes me think of me being the audience reading what I will be writing. I hope that made sense. Now when I will write I won’t write coming from my own point of view. I will write thinking I’m the audience with my perspective already known and given in the material." The perfect example of an online storyteller is to give the audience what they want and answer their questions even before they can formulate in their minds.

The final book required for the class was a lengthy, colorful read called, Linked: The New Science of Networks. Albert-Laszlo Barabasi's meaty 280 page tome breaks down to everything is connected to everything else and everything we do has a part in this universal play. Jerry McCormick said of Linked that " I love a book that opens your eyes to a new world. I’ve been going through the world and I had some idea that we are all connected in some way some how, but this book clarifies the connection.: The first half of the book laid a strong background for making coming to this conclusion with many scientific and mathematical experiments and resulting research cited and he concluded by taking this information into the practical world. Mark Godi's intro to his blog on the book is humorous as he says, "I wanted so bad the formula for sure network success when I finished reading Linked. I was disappointed." Sylvia Mendoza's response to the second half of the book was well put as she states, "However, Barabasi’s elaborate explanations showing the complexities of how a body’s cellular makeup and the World Wide Web are similar and depend on interior networks, links and nodes, became tedious and lost parallelism." To round out the discussion on the book, Hassan Alassaly's input was quite perceptive as he writes, "Albert’s best description line in chapter 14th “where we go from here? The answer is simple. We must remove the wrapping. The goal before us is to understand complexity. To achieve on the dynamics that take place along the links. Networks are only making our world hum. To describe society, we must dress the links of the social network with actual dynamical interactions between people. To understand life we must start looking at the reaction dynamics along the links of metabolic network. To understand the internet, we must add traffic to its entangled links. To understand the disappearance of some species in an ecosystem, we have to acknowledge that some preys are easier to catch than others are. To protect the things that become necessity for our daily life and we survive on it."

Linked while an excellent book could have been a class all its own to really understand the meat of the material contained therein. Don't Make Me Think was an awakening into the art of the simple and leave the complicated to other areas of life. But none of this matters if one is not able to tell a story online in a way that a consumer will digest and understand the meaning of the message as poignantly discussed in Aim for the Heart.

Linked: The Final Chapters

In Linked: The New Science of Networks, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi lays the framework for the inner working of the world’s interconnectedness through scientific and mathematical experiments conducted since the late 1920’s in the first section of the book. In the final chapters he applies that argument to real-life scenarios and how those links work in the real world.

Chapter ten begins with the how the now AIDS epidemic spread throughout the world killing millions, through the carelessness and narcissism of one man, Gatetan Dugas, a highly promiscuous homosexual flight attendant. Though not the first person to contract the then deadly disease, Dugas is considered a hub, because of the number of partners he reportedly had during a ten-year period. The chapter continues to give other examples of hubs, people that are do not have to be the innovators, though sometimes are, in the spread of fads and epidemics.

Next Barabasi tackles the genesis of the Internet and key figure Paul Baran an employee for the RAND Corporation. Baran, trying to keep this new method of communication from an easy attack proposed that the Internet be a distributed method of communication rather than centralized or decentralized. Ten years later a programmer at UCLA, Charley Kline was given the task of using a phone  line to deliver a computer to computer message to Stanford University. Though a slightly rocky start, success happened and now massive communication is done every minute of the day via this innovation.

The twelfth link as Barabasi calls is talks about the fragmentation of the web. In this chapter he gives a history of the web starting with old ever famous, now in antiquity Alta Vista. Alta Vista was the web’s primary go-to search engine as Google is today. He returns to the discussion of the nineteen degrees of separation on the web as opposed to the six in personal contacts and diagrams how a directed network operates. His theory states that there is a central core with in continents and out continents. The continents are connected by tubes and have tendrils dangling from each. Finally there are islands that are not connected in this directed network that still compromise the overall structure. He finishes out the chapter with all of the litigations and cyber wars that have been a part of this global landscape since its’ inception.

Moving from the Internet Barabasi then goes on to the map of life taking on the links in the human body. He goes into great detail about DNA, RNA, cells, and the web of life itself. He uses examples of social networks to lighten the discussion of the inner workings of the human body and to break down the complex interconnections that are a part of every facet of the universe just in different terms. His next link takes these same analogies and turns them to the business world and the global economy. He goes through how business and governments are structured and how this linked principle is present within their systems as well no matter what name they may call themselves.

We are one massive web, linked and interconnected in ways that we may never understand fully. The important things is to know that no man is an island and that everything in life has an effect on everything in life no matter how great or small the contribution.