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!|
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/|
Screen Shot by Suzanne Sink from Word Press Article "Master the Basics and Beyond"
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.