Reflections on #Virtual300

Reflection time

“If I would’ve had more time, I would’ve said less.”  It’s a quote/paraphrase that has been attributed to Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway  and Blaise Pascal. It doesn’t matter who said it. I heard it from Jill Falk, my online journalism professor, and it stuck with me throughout the semester. Perhaps that’s what inspired me from writing 1000+ word blogs and down to about 800 (and later, to the 550s+!). Live and learn, as it has been said. Now the time is up, and we are at end the semester. Did I say enough, and what did I say? What have I been doing for the past few months?

Theory (Book Larnin’)

First things first: the textbook. Sure, I didn’t really like it, nor did I really absorb a large amount of information from it. But it did make me aware of things I never really thought about: crowd-sourcing, for one. The other that stuck with me was the interactive side of ‘new media.’ The concept wasn’t new to me, but the behind the scenes, how-its-done details certainly were.

Our professor also showed us various talks and gave a few snazzy prezis herself. We learned that story-telling is key. You can be hip to the buzzwords and have all the latest gadgets, but without telling a story, they won’t be much use.


The Interwebs

The rest of the class was all “practical.” We had to do everything ourselves. And it hurt. We learned how journalists use social media (especially Twitter and Tumblr) not only get their stories out into the Interwebs, but to find stories as well. Twitter is more about shouting out what you’re doing (like in this youtube video from early 2009), it’s about being part of a virtual community of like-minded people.

We also had to follow influential journalistic sources on our RSS feeds, tumblrs, and twitter. We used Hootsuite (which thanks to Professor Falk’s Com130 in 2010, I had already) to keep everything in sorted. In theory we did, anyway. Hootsuite can still be overwhelming. It’s true, Jill, admit it). But I digress. Using twitter, we were able to follow individual bloggers, journalist, and even whole organizations (APnews, Wall Street Journal  NPR, etc.). And let’s not even talk about the Twitter Scavenger Hunt.

The most practical, and difficult part of the class was doing the actual stories. First, I had to come up with a story idea. After some generous assistance, I then had to do the actual legwork. Boots on the ground, prancing around from the Boone Home to pipe tobacco shops, taking pictures, asking questions, and getting out of my comfort zone. Which is a good thing. Comfort zones are stupid.

Then the even harder part: putting it online in a presentable fashion. Finding the right programs to put up slide shows, experimenting with SoundCloud to upload a choppy interview on SoundCloud, and my good ol’ reliable timeline program. Of course, there was the infamous Story 5 (thanks to this fine woman here), we had to edit with video. I put a lot of work into that only to find didn’t “finish the race.” I missed some part of the requirements. Which is ironic because my story was about a colorful race.

But in the end, the stories came together, the pictures eventually uploaded, and I did get some sleep.

Finally, all of the class became more familiar with WordPress. I only ever really used it to write blogs. I could hyperlink, post videos, and maybe even a picture or two. It didn’t take long in the Virtual300 to realize there was more to it.


I’ve worked on seven stories for this class. I missed out on story number 4, because, well, I was having a hard time with the class at the time. I wrote a story about the Boone Home, by spending several hours on the Boone campus. I filmed myself dribbling a soccer ball through augmented reality. Besides the stories, I gained followers on twitter, and became more proficient in various skills. However, in the end, my favorite accomplishment is on the story I flubbed up in the minute details: the Splash Dash.

I choose this video not because I think it’s fantastic quality, but because how much I went out of my way for it, and the new experience it provided me with. For this video, I used a Go Pro camera, and I had a blast. It enabled to get int he middle of the action, without damage to the camera (and thus none to my wallet). Sure, I may not have made the other pieces of multimedia to put alongside the video, but I made the video. And I had fun.

I am at 799 words. I would have said less, but I have no more time.


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