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Community Analysis

Defining Community

As resident advisor (1992-1993), head resident (1994-1997) and director (1998-2000) of the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s Schools for Humanities and Visual & Performing Arts, I worked with a team of student life staff to develop the community of learners among our faculty, staff, and 400 high school students. We did this in a number of successful ways, including icebreakers, name tags, hall meetings, living arrangements, and the like. We called ourselves a community of learners, and all of us — faculty, staff, and students alike — lived in dorms on campus and called each other by first name. This experience informs my idea of “community” in several different ways.

Second Life screen shot

Online community in Second Life. Academia Electronica-Instytut Filozofii UJ (2013). CC BY-SA 3.0

Community is never entirely “built,” despite the use of the term “community building.” In an educational setting, community must continually be “being built”; intentional activities, communications, and rhetorical choices (like the use of first names or the common language of living in the same dorm) must be made throughout the entire experience to ensure that a sense of community remains. Brent (2004) affirms this concept of community as continually built: “Here incompletion is a dynamic concept – the dynamism which community has which no definable entity could possibly possess” (p. 219).

Community focuses members and potential/incoming members in a common goal. In Governor’s School, our community of learners sought to expand knowledge and understanding of the interrelationships among disciplines through guided inquiry. Teachers facilitated inquiry and participated with students in growing their understandings of concepts like body image, politics, economics, social structures, and more. All aspects of the experience — intellectual, interdisciplinary, and social-emotional; curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular — focused on growing knowledge and identity. Common, structured, facilitated inquiry shaped our community and represented Harrison & Vaughan’s (2007) interpretation of a community of inquiry consisting of cognitive, social, and teaching presence.

Community is ideally an egalitarian function of participants working toward a common purpose. I include the modifier “ideally” because Amy (2006) recognizes the reality of power politics within rhetorical communities, and because the teaching presence in a community of inquiry necessarily invokes a hierarchical power structure between student and teacher. However, to the extent possible, community is a function of equals working together. In the classroom, a focus on students working toward a common purpose is an important aspect of community building.

Blogs and Community

Given this concept of community, blogs can be useful tools for community development, especially when implemented in combination with other distance learning tools to continually maintain the sense of community. I would hesitate to privilege blogs over other writing spaces and online interactive tools, despite their potential interactivity, because other tools may help foster a sense of community more directly.

As our own class use of the interactivity of the blogs reflects, blogs don’t necessarily encourage ongoing conversation. Few writers responded, either directly or indirectly, to comments on their blogs. We tried to post comments to several classmates’ blogs, but few posts or comments generated any kind of give-and-take among writers and/or respondents. Since Blogger does not afford any sense of threaded conversation using visual design or verbal cues, respondents had to include explicit textual clues (e.g. “In response to your idea…”) in order to “respond” to one another. A comment can’t be addressed specifically to another comment, only generally attributed to the blog. The result is a flat list of comments that offers no hierarchy, more like a chat transcript than a threaded discussion forum. In terms of community building, blogs do little to help writers and commenters work together in a community of inquiry, and this is especially true of Blogger. Blog posts “talk” at other bloggers, but offer little to afford conversation, dialogue, or rhetorical listening among participants. For this reason I consider WordPress, which provides clues that afford limited threading in comments, a more successful blogging tool for enabling conversations.

Building a Better Blogging Community?

For blogs to be successful at encouraging conversation among writers and respondents, instructors need to provide clear guidelines and structure for posts and responses. Carefully constructed, scaffolded assignments accompanied by clear expectations for interaction enable students to respond with agency within the limits of those guidelines. While instructor-provided frameworks may be seen as opposing social constructivist learning and pedagogy, OWI requires a level of structured interactivity that f2f classes can allow to occur more organically. DePew & Lettner-Rust (2009), DePew (forthcoming), Danowski (2006), and Breuch (2005), to greater or lesser extents, all encourage OWI teachers to recognize this power structure while developing scaffolded, structured activities that encourage agency and ongoing conversations. These conversations engage students in communities of inquiry, and these communities of inquiry, as conversations engaging students and teachers, help maintain ongoing community building.

As a result, this assignment might have more successfully built a sense of community as a specific framework of scaffolded assignments. While a series of initial posts could remain focused on instructional tool reviews, each student could be required to comment on a number of reviews (perhaps 2 or 3), then write a full-length post that summarizes those three reviews, links to the initial posts, and reflects on one or more aspects of the initial review. Ping backs from those links could function to notify students that others have linked to their posts; the guidelines for responding could require the writer of the original review to respond to the summary post. Guidelines and requirements would have to be carefully detailed and written, but the result would be ongoing conversations about the effectiveness of instructional tools. As Breuch (2005) notes in relation to virtual peer review, assignments should “encourage students to think of virtual peer review in terms of concrete goals” (p. 149). In this case, the concrete goal might be to draft a final blog post that requires students to select three favorite instructional tools from among those reviewed, reflect on the conversations that surrounded that tool among all the commentators, and make a recommendation, with rationale, for one tool the student might recommend to other instructors in an OWI setting.

Where Community Really Happened

My experience of this class, and the other two classes I’ve taken so far in the PhD program, is that community really forms in various informal channels of communication. While scaffolded blog postings and responses and discussion forum posts and responses contribute toward a community of inquiry, stronger bonds form around informal channels like the ODU PhD and individual course Facebook groups, email and Facebook communications outside of class with classmates, and through the Webex chat (which I’ll refer to as a “front channel” to differentiate it from a Facebook group “back channel”).

As equals (students) working toward a common goal (success in individual courses, success in individual class sessions), informal community is continually formed and reformed around various struggles, activities, and challenges. For example, our class members united around the challenge of being unable to access readings in what we considered a timely fashion. We asked one another whether anyone had emailed the instructor, discussed whether texts might be available in open-source formats online, and generally bonded over our frustration. In Amy’s (2006) terms we recognized and capitalized on power differentials in our contact zone: a reference librarian held the cultural capital of quick access to open-source texts and shared that capital in our common goal of seeking resources; other members of the class held the cultural capital of temerity, willingly emailing the instructor to achieve the common goal of requesting access to readings in Blackboard.

Throughout the semester, community was continually built, refined, and reshaped (Brent, 2004), often the result of working through tensions in different contact zones (Amy, 2006). Two specific examples occurred when shifting out of Webex, first into Google Hangouts and again into Adobe Connect. In each of these instances, the backchannel took the forefront in alleviating anxiety as we wondered how or if we’d be reconnected to our assigned groups. Those with more experience held social capital and shared assurances with those with less experience; in my group, my own familiarity with Google Hangouts helped me assure others in my group and in other groups that all would work out, while Kristina’s familiarity with Adobe Connect provided assurance and instruction to those of us who had not used the tool. In both cases, our bonds of community were strengthened through tension and power differentials among ourselves — power differentials used to achieve common goals rather than forming around us-them rhetorical violence.

Closing Thought

Does community happen in the face-to-face video sessions via Jabber and Webex? Sure, but those experience are built around the instructor. Student community is built through informal communications that are outside the structured activities of the class. As a future OWI teacher, I need to remember my own experience with community development and understand the power of multiple communication channels.

References

Amy, L. E. (2006). Rhetorical violence and the problematics of power: A notion of community for the digital age classroom. In J. Alexander & M. Dickson (eds.), Role play: Distance learning and the teaching of writing (pp. 111-132). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Brent, J. (2004). The desire for community: Illusion, confusion and paradox. Community Development Journal, 39(3), 213-223. doi: 10.1093/cdj/bsh017

Breuch, L. K. (2005). Enhancing online collaboration: Virtual peer review in the writing classroom. In K. C. Cook & K. Grant-Davie (eds.), Online education: Global questions, local answers (pp. 141-156). Farmingdale, NY: Baywood.

Danowski, D. (2006). Anyone? Anyone? Anyone? Leading discussions in cyberspace: e-Journals and interactivity in asynchronous environments. In J. Alexander & M. Dickson (eds.), Role Play: Distance Learning and the Teaching of Writing (pp. 97-108). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Depew, K. E. (Forthcoming). Preparing instructors and students for the rhetoricity of OWI Technologies. In B. L. Hewett & K. E. DePew (eds.), Foundational practices of online writing instruction. Manuscript in publication

Depew, K. E., & Lettner-Rust, H. (2009). Mediating power: Distance learning interfaces, classroom epistemology, and the gaze. Computers and Composition, 26(3), 174-189. doi:10.1016/j.compcom.2009.05.002

Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2007). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles, and guidelines. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Individual Tutorial Notes: 3/19 (Or – Domain Thing is Not to Panic!)

This Week's Inspiration:

This week I am inspired by...

ME!

Okay, so at the risk of sounding arrogant, I am tooting my own horn here. Last week on March 19th,  I uploaded the scans of Inquisition to my WordPress site. I was toying with the different menus and widgets until I was pretty pleased with myself. I shared the site on my Facebook page and tagged three of the original editors in the post. By the end of the day, a librarian in Alabama included a link to my page from the university's underground press research guide.

It went like this:

  • 6:25 p.m.: Facebook post with link and tags
  • 7:52 p.m.: Paul Jones (Inquisition poet and Chapel Hill professor in Information Science) tweets page
  • 7:55 p.m.: Center for the Study of the American South retweets Jones's post
  • 8:15 p.m.: Jones posts on Facebook
  • 8:30 (guessing) p.m.: John McMillian, author of Smoking Typewriters, shares link to my page on FB with Laurie Charnigo (assumingly a share from FB from Jones)
  • 8:33 p.m.: Charnigo asks if he knows who created the page and he gives her my name, which he got form Jones who had met at a conference (I have since added contact information to the page)
  • 8:45 p.m.: Charnigo updates JSU library page with link to my page and reaches out to me with an offer to help gather publications for digitization

The Internet is an amazing thing. But I am inspired by my success. In a short time, I have made a lot of progress and have gathered a good bit of attention. It's terribly flattering and exciting. I am more motivated than ever to work on this project!

Tutorial Activities:

This week I decided I would dedicate myself to transforming my WordPress site into a BuddyPress site to allow for community forums. Little did I know that I was opening a can of worms. But let's start at the beginning.

I started by exploring BuddyPress.org and looking at some examples of BuddyPress sites like tastykitchen.com.  I was excited to see the community features and decided to push ahead with adding this feature. I started by clicking the download for BuddyPress. It downloaded easily enough, but the next step was to go to the dashboard and activate the plug-in (this terminology by the way was something I had to learn about on a basic definitions page). After many minutes of not being able to locate any such tool from the dashboard, I returned to the definitions page. I read there that plug-ins are not available on blogs hosted by WordPress for security reasons. Externally hosted pages can support this, so I would have to change my host to get BuddyPress.

At that point, I still didn't understand what hosting meant. I thought it had something to do with what WordPress was advertising from the dashboard, which was to register a domain. I understood domain to be a website and thought this would be what I needed to do for BuddyPress to be added. I paid the $25 and upgraded my blog to a website: southernundergroundpress.com. I tried again to find the BuddyPress plug-in to no avail. My website was still being hosted by WordPress. I learned I would need external hosting, and WordPress directed me to Bluehost.

I spent a lot of time here. I chatted online with a customer service rep who informed me of the difference between registration and hosting. Eli explained that I could host my site on Bluehost for $85 a year. I signed up for hosting and attempted to follow the "basic" instructions for transferring a domain.





I watched this many times. I was overwhelmed. This is the tutorial? The four things I am supposed to do before I even start the transfer was a complete foreign language! Unlock from my current registrar? Change privacy? Locate my EPP code? Point DNS to bluehost? Dear God! What have I done?

I called the help line, much like Tom Cruise screaming for tech support in the movie Vanilla Sky.

They walked me through how to find the place on the Wordpress dashboard where I could access these settings (Dashboard - Store - Domains - click on domain name to open domain manager). I got off the phone and set up a log in and password for the domain manager. I waited for a confirmation email then clicked on the link to verify the account. I went into the domain manager and unlocked it. I couldn't figure out how to change the privacy setting frustratingly. Nothing would happen when you click on that. Oh well. I requested the EPP code to be sent to my email. I even changed the DNS (domain name something or other) to the Bluehost codes or address or whatever "ns1.bluehost.com" is called. 

Now what? Hmm. Everything is still the same. Back to the website for Bluehost.

I discover that a new domain name cannot be transferred to a new host for 60 days after registration according to a federal law. Since I had just registered the domain on WordPress that day, I would be unable to transfer it for two months. But I need BuddyPress now! I was instructed on Bluehost that some registrars allow for cancellation, then the domain can be registered and hosted on Bluehost.

Back to WordPressBluehost to register the domain with them and get BuddyPress going!

Only, the domain is not available. I call. I am directed to who.is, a site that will let me know if a domain is available. When the domain southernundergroundpress.com is available again, I can get it. Apparently this can take days or even longer once a cancellation has occurred. I was also informed that if I had just waited 24-36 hours for the DNS change to take place, I would have been able to proceed. Nice.

southernundergroundpress.org is available and I have thought about taking that domain. I could just register that and get going, but it is more expensive to be a .org than a .com.

So what have I learned....

Reflection of Learning:

I have learned that patience is key and panic helps nothing. The domain registration (new concept) and the web hosting (new concept) will get sorted out soon enough. As soon as the domain is available, things will go smoothly.

The good thing about Bluehost is that they have unlimited storage space. Once I get going, I will be able to upload all the media and files I need.

I didn't get to enable the BuddyPress plug-in, but I am excited to get that going. I think this week, despite nothing to really show for it except some charges on my debit card, has been actually productive in helping me understand how the business of website creation works.

I also learned that interest and help is out there. Check out my comment:

http://southernundergroundpress.wordpress.com/posts/about/

and some other work in the field:
http://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/protest-history-underground-press-syndicate/


Closing Thoughts:

At this point, the tutorial activities are no longer required and the project work is to begin. I have a lot left to do and learn and need to continue working on various tutorial projects as I go, but I am excited to move forward with BuddyPress (hopefully soon, if the domain becomes available!) and try to build the community feature of this project. Bluehost told me once I import the blog, I will have to rebuild the theme and set-up and will probably have to reload the pdf files. I'd like to make some progress on obtaining the next set of papers to digitize. I have a lead on a collection in Greensboro of Bragg Briefs, a military base publication.

It's hard for me to summarize what I've learned. I've learned a lot about myself in this process, being fearless and jumping in to something new with both feet, despite the overwhelming amount of information that is new. However, I found that I can learn it - methodically - and practice it - even as a novice, which is a new thought. In the past, I felt like I would have so much to learn before I could have a tangible product, but the truth is that with only a bot of knowledge, a creation can come to life. The Internet is infinitely open to revisions. Nothing I post today can't be updated or added to tomorrow. That is a comforting thought. I don't have to roll out with a perfect finished product; it can and will move in stages of increasing functionality.

I learned about technology as well. The definitions and the business of publishing a website. The speed at which information is disseminated. The terminology associated with these things (my last phone call to Bluehost was so much easier because I was able to use the terminology to explain exactly what I had done with registration, hosting, and the DNS changes - actually, I was really proud of that conversation!).

All in all, I am thrilled and excited by the progress, and I can't wait to keep going.

Individual Tutorial Notes: 3/12

This Week's Inspiration:


Scan of February 15, 2012 Article on Charlotte Observer


I came across this article while looking through the newspaper a couple weeks ago. I clipped it out and put it on my refrigerator for inspiration. You can read it online here. I find it inspiring because the article describes a project that is very similar to what I envision.

The 573 letters exchanged between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett were previously only available to people who went to Wellesley College and viewed them in the library. However, in a collaboration between Baylor University and Wellesley, the letters have now been digitized and made public.

The whole world can now access the letters here: www.wellesley.edu/browning

The article continues to explain that,


"The website set up for readers to see the correspondence includes both the handwritten letters and transcriptions, as well as a zoom function for readers to try to decipher faded or illegible words. The body of letters will also be searchable by keywords."


I plan to explore this more in a deeper analysis in a separate blog post.



Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/02/15/3013203/browning-and-barrett-love-letters.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy
Tutorial and Project Activities:

The Project:

I began this week where I left off with my project. I couldn't rest until I figured out those menus across the top! I have trouble moving forward if things aren't just right. I used the WordPress "Support" page search to find a tutorial on making a static home page - also called front page - so the blog will have a more traditional web site feel. I found this page: Writing & Editing - Front Page.

I also finally figured out that the tabs across the top, with this theme, are not considered "menus," like I thought. Each "page" I create is tabbed across the top. I was able to create two tabs: one for publications and one for project updates. The publications now has tiered pages - a main page with the story of the magazine, then each issue has been uploaded as a link to a pdf. The updates tab will be where my blog posts are stored. I can use this to keep readers updated on progress. I converted the first post - a basic overview - into a static front page. This is important because it will prevent the overview from being replaced with newer posts.

I also figured out how to space the title, so I know have this:

Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink of southernundergroundpress
I'm still not happy with the widgets along the left hand side of the page. I like the search feature, but I am not sure if I should have more or different widgets and plan to work on that later.

Also on the agenda is to find out if there is a way to have the pdf files be visible on the post without having to link out to them. I need to add description to the pdf files posts and tags, so people can be directed to authors and content they are interested in.

The Tutorials:

This week I decided to investigate OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology. This technology is designed to take a pdf, or other text-based document, and create a file behind the text that recognizes the different words. This will allow the text to be searched  for words, show the reader where those words appear, and help the search engine locate the different texts containing the search terms. This is a major part of the project's functionality as I envision it, and it is what makes the Browning database so helpful to scholars.

My goal here is not only to preserve and archive these cultural artifacts, but to make them useful to scholarship in literary, sociological, artistic, and historical fields of study. If the user is unable to search for his or her particular topic - the draft, for example - then the archive is just an interesting read. I need it to be a tool. OCR is at the heart of that function.

OCR:

Being the novice (fearless novice, but novice nonetheless) that I am, I started this exploration on Wikipedia's page on OCR. As I tell my students, Wikipedia can be a good place to get some background information, but it doesn't replace further research. I needed a primer - something that would help me understand the vocabulary and terms surrounding these products.

OCR - technology that coverts an image or scan of text into machine encoded text, or computer recognizable characters. This allows data to be searched by key words and is required for text mining.

Text Mining - deriving information from texts with the ability to categorize and summarize that information. This is a function that may be useful in the future of this project when there are multiple publications to search and analyze for patterns.

OCR vs. ICR - An important concept for me was the difference between OCR and ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition). ICR is necessary for converting handwriting to machine encoded text. Many of the publications are a combination of handwriting and typing, so ICR capabilities will be something to have in a purchase of software.

Error Rate - There is a great variation of accuracy among the different OCR software. I expect that the more accurate the software depends on the quality of the image to be converted and the sophistication of the software. Since I have older texts in various stages of readability, to get a low error rate, I will need a more advanced system for OCR.

Digital Libraries - I fell into a bit of a black hole on WikipediaNC ECHO - North Carolina  Exploring Cultural Heritage Online. This could potentially be an excellent resource for assistance in the process of gathering texts and publishing digitally. They provide some grants, but like NEH, grants are only awarded to institutions and not individuals. However, I could certainly look into partnering with a local library or work through ODU to obtain this kind of funding. This site is one I will need to revisit when funding becomes more of an issue.

Edit vs. Search - One potential area for further research is in locating software that doesn't simply allow for the editing of a scan but for the ability to search within in. For example, there are free versions of software that will convert a pdf to a Microsoft Word document. I have used this before to take an older worksheet and put it into a Word document. In my experience, this process resulted in a high number of errors and no option to search the text. It is something to consider when shopping for OCR software.

Search on my Computer vs. Search on the Blog - I found one resource that at first seemed promising. It can be purchased from a company called Lucion. I was very excited when I started watching the videos about how it works. However, the problem is that it converts pdf files to tif files, which is not a file type supported by WordPress. WordPress will support odt files, so I need to do more research on software that will convert pdf files to odt files.

Zotero - A professor of mine suggested I look around the resource Professor Hacker. There I found the suggestion that I look into using Zotero to store and organize my pdf files. I downloaded the software and plan on exploring that in the upcoming weeks.

Reflection of Learning:

This week was very productive for me. I learned a lot about what kinds of problems I will need to overcome to realize my vision. In particular, I need to find a way to make my scans searchable documents - easy enough to do if I want to have that function on just my home computer. This becomes problematic when thinking about making this a function of a website or blog. I am on the trail though, and after looking at the archive of the Browning letters, I am reassured that it is possible.

However, I can't help but  feeling like I am trying to reinvent the wheel. How do I connect with the people who have already digitized and made texts searchable?

Ironically, I now have a follower on my blog. She is a librarian at Jacksonville State University where there is a very large collection of underground press publications on microfilm. There is also a tab where users can see a list of links to digitized publications. Here is what I saw:



I posted these scans earlier today. Later the same day, I find that I have been added to a college library research guide! It's so exciting!

But I see from the her guide, that several papers from the South already exist in digital form. Perhaps collaboration with many projects will be necessary in the future.

Individual Tutorial Notes: 2/27

This Week's Inspiration:

At the beginning of this semester, I have to admit that I had many fears about taking a course in New Media. I consider myself an adept user of technology, but I was concerned about my ability to be an adept producer of technology. With some limited experience with Microsoft Frontpage back in 2003, I knew just enough about writing code to be aware of how very little I knew about writing code.

Then last semester, a discussion of the term "digital literacy" brought up this notion that in order to be digitally literate one most be able to produce digitally. It stuck with me, and I know now that I have to overcome the fear and doubt about my abilities to become fully digitally literate for myself and my students.

When my mother found the photograph below, I felt rather inspired. There I am, blazing a trail on the TI-99 home computer in 1983. That girl was unafraid. She was ready for anything, and so am I.


1983 - Suzanne on the forefront of New Media!

Tutorial Activities:

This week I am working on developing a WordPress blog that I can use as a starting point for creating a database. The name of the blog is southernundergroundpress.wordpress.com. This domain name is also available (and hopefully will remain available), and I hope to eventually establish a website for the archive of underground press publications.

At first I thought I could just get started, like I have been learning as I go with Blogger, but I quickly realized that WordPress has far more customizations, technological capabilities, and advanced features. This week I have been working on getting myself familiar with the site. The first stop was this handy little tutorial located on the bottom of the home page:

Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink from http://www.wordpress.com/
This looked like a promising place to start, so I clicked on it and it took me here:


Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink from Word Press Article "Master the Basics and Beyond"
The article includes information on how to:

Get Started: This written and video tutorial walks the user through the creation of a WordPress account from selection of a domain name through to setting a password. I had been able to do this without the tutorial, but it was nice to know I didn't miss any steps.

Get Acquainted: This section is dedicated to the "Dashboard." This is described as the back-end, the part that the reader will not see. This is where I can control the blog, and it is also as far as I went before realizing I needed help. There are so many options from the dashboard, so I was reassured when WordPress told me:

"If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the menus here, don’t worry – you only need to know your way around a few key parts of the dashboard to start publishing content and personalizing your blog’s appearance."
Thanks WordPress! After spending time on the PHP.org pages, having technology that speaks to the novice is actually very empowering. It instructed me to find my way to the "Settings" controls and play around with the features and then repeat that exploration with the "Privacy"controls, which I did. I made the page able to be indexed by search engines and adjusted the tag line to:

"The Project to Archive and Rebuild the Communities of the Southern Underground Press"

Get Focused: This section is full of advice for choosing a blog topic. I just skimmed since I have a clear idea of my purpose here.

Get Customized: Now I am ready to give my blog a "unique personal design." The advice that jumps off the page is, "It may be tempting to choose a theme just because you like the aesthetics, but don’t forget about functionality." Since I want to have a home page with a description of the project then links to the database search and community areas, I decided to use the filter to help narrow theme choices that had a side bar. I chose "Greyzed," which has an urban, edginess to it that I like for the project.

Then things get difficult. After an hour or so of battling with widgets and menus, stubbornly trying to figure it out on my own, I decided to leave things be for now and look for further guidance on the subject in the support page - here. I chose to use Search, Archives, Categories, Pages, and Meta for now.

Get Published: I learned here that I can write "pages" as well as posts. These are not organized chronologically, but are suitable for stable content. I'm thinking that each publication could have its own page? For now, I used an edited version of last week's blog in the "About" page and used a portion of a paper on Inquisition on another page.

Get Flashy: Adding images and video works much in the same way as Blogger, but I like the Zemanta feature, which intuitively recommends images and articles that are free to use based on the content of a post as well as tags. Cool!

Get Connected: Here I found some general advice about how to find blogs I might be interested in reading and how to use tags to help readers find me. The Zemanta application I activated in the last step has already helped me with the tags, and I added a photo and a blurb to my profile.

Get Famous: This section has tips for boosting exposure and readers. I will certainly look into this more when I get the page more established.

Get Mobile: I can use my HTC phone powered by Android to work on my blog.

bookmarklet to my favorites bar, so I can automatically keep track of content on the web I might want to include in my blog. Way cool!

After the Basics:

I still have questions about having a static home page, menus, Buddy Press, and adding pdf files. I am continuing to work on learning about the various functions by using the WordPress Codex page, which is the online manual for the site.

Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink of WordPress

I still have more work to do of course, but I think I am off to a good start.

Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink of southernundergroundpress

Reflection of Learning:

This week, I have learned to stop being afraid. There may be some questions that linger (how do I get those menus at the top the way I want them?) and some frustrations on how long it takes to set something up, but in the end, I am excited to take these first small steps on this journey toward realizing such a grand dream.

Perhaps for some, messing around with a WordPress site would be no big deal, but for me this has been quite an undertaking. It is much more involved than this Blogger site, and it it has exponentially more functions than what I have been happily doing here. I learned that while it will take time, a work in progress is better than no progress at all.

I hope to continue to channel my fearless self and refuse to be intimidated by what is challenging and unknown.

Next up, I will continue to build the site, but I want to explore the world of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, At some point, I would like the uploaded publications to be searched by content and not just tags.