Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Remember -

No class tomorrow night. Meet instead Saturday, same room, 10AM.

We'll have the first of our guest-speaker series Saturday: Hank Beaver—a software developer/programmer. He's lively. He talks really fast. And I think he's bringing visual aides.

We'll also talk about your magazine choices for the final project, take a look at the current sites for your chosen publication, and learn how to write a creative brief.
We'll also do some exercises on wireframing and web organization.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

why i love this job

Last night while we were talking about audience, I mentioned interviewing as a great way to really get into the heads of who you're talking to. Again, most times you're not going to be afforded that opportunity - unless you ask, beg, plead, threaten, etc. to get it. The place I work, however, has a uniquely editorial focus. Which means, as we're working on a project - from branding a country, to writing a book for a college, (as we're doing with Auburn University), to creating a set of print collateral or ads for a corporation or a product, I'm encouraged to get on the phone and call anyone and everyone connected, and get their perspective. It's a great tactic. The things you can get people to say to you about their lives, their businesses, their history, and about what they think about the brand or product you're creating is just amazing.

The moral: Get some good listening skills. Learn how to ask good questions.

(This is on my mind, by the way because I just got off the phone with a man who was, at age 14, an electrical engineer in hitler's ministry of defense, and who went on, later in his life to design portions of both the US's never-built national space stataion in the 70's, and the current International Space Station. Fascinating.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

three guidelines

From tonight's class: Three solid things to remember when writing for web:

1. Tell the Truth. From the Welder exercise: the best ones were the most direct ones, right? The ones that told it like it was - no spin, no marketing-y selling. The ones that said "welding is hard, and dirty, and you want this job anyway...here's why."

2. Get to the point. Attention spans are greviously short everywhere, but on the web, you're only one click away from a whole other world - and how enticing is that? Get out what you have to say early. And by early i mean immediately. Dont expect anyone to stick around a read more than a sentence or two.

3. Be specific. The welding exercise was hard partially because your audience was broadly defined. Without specific information, we default to guessing - and ultimately writing for ourselves, instead of our audience. The way to counteract that is to speak to a very specific person. Have him or her in mind as you write - and you'll get through loud and clear.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Something I remembered...

Years ago (5 years ago, actually) a marketing campaign for Stephen Spielberg's AI made use of the web in a way that was really, up to that point unheard of. Beyond posting a trailer and cast-site, a small team at Microsoft created, instead, a cloak-and-dagger ring of fake websites designed to both create interest in the movie's themes and characters, and, well, delight hoards of geeks who were anxiously awaiting the film's premier.

I don't remember how I found out about this, but I am a SUCKER for puzzles, secret links, easter eggs, etc. so, I started searching around.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about what the AI guys did:

The movie had an unusual publicity campaign consisting of a new type of "game" involving approximately 30 interlinked websites. This type of game has since become known as an alternate reality game (ARG). The A.I. game did not have an official name, but became known as The Beast by its most ardent fans, the 7000-strong team who called themselves the Cloudmakers. The Beast was wildly successful as a game, attracting a much more devoted audience than the game designers had expected. It set the tone for future ARGs, and defined much of the genre's terminology.

In the game, the interlinked websites purported to be sites for a number of organizations (universities, businesses, and personal home pages) set in the fictional world of the movie in the 22nd century. Hints to the websites' existence were contained in posters, trailers and other movie publhttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=35674314icity materials.

By studying the information on the sites, a story set in the world of the movie involving the murder of one Evan Chan became apparent. Solving various puzzles and hints, some involving email, physical meetings in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, telephone calls and telephone answering services, allowed the unlocking of more websites which gradually revealed the story of whodunnit and why.

It was fascinating. A complex web of company sites, family sites, fake government sites - all leading one to the next...if you could figure out the connection.

Visit The Cloudmakers and go through "The Beast" links on the side to see the old sites. Check the writing on each - they're very true-to-form. The biomedical sites sound incredibly real. The family sites are great self-publishing clones. And there's even one that opens up your email program and attempts to send a message.

Anyway, an awesome example of knowing your audience, and taking the web in a new direction.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Gold Standard

CBC Radio 3

(Go there, and then click on the "Magazine Archive" Link at the bottom of the page.)

This, my friends, is probably my favorite website of all time. For the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "Radio 3", this online music magazine went for a couple years before the creators decided to shut it down, and go to a more traditional blog-format. The new iteration (found here)is a sad, cluttered substitute that has you looking everywhere and nowhere at once.

Take a look at both, but make sure you turn up the sound on your computer and go through the old site for sure. It's a great example of how to present content in a very visual, and often emotionally poignant way. Compare it to other music/radio sites: WOXY (an indie-rock institution from Oxford Ohio - not a bad site in its own right, really, but more typical). Lite FM, Chicago (exactly what you'd expect, and maybe even a little freakier). And, of course, our own "Everything Alternative." Again, not too awful, but which would you rather go back to more than once?

Something to think about as you're asked to concept new ways to use the web. There's different stuff out there. Now - what have YOU seen that's above and beyond?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blog Assignment #1

Hi everyone!

Great to meet you all last night. Here's your first blog-borne assignment:


Read the long, overly-detailed job description that i've pasted here after these instructions. For our next meeting, re-write that description, in three ways:

- As if you’re speaking to an 8-year old child
- As if you’re talking to a female, college-aged student who is investigating career choices.
- As if you’re describing it to a very broad audience (working males, aged 18-35.)

AND Make each one 150 words maximum in length.

Type out your three 150-word write-ups and bring them to class next week. We’ll discuss. But also, I want you to take some time to think about (and record) your thought-process.

Write down, in addition, two distinct things, for each one, that you considered while crafting your answers. Be prepared to talk about why you made the choices you did.

(For example: I felt that leading off with a question was a good way to get college students with limited attention spans engaged.)

Thanks! And send questions to me in the comments.


WELDER: Welders use acetylene and electrical equipment in the fabricating, heating, welding, cutting, and brazing of ferrous and non-ferrous metals in accordance with standard trade practices. Generally, welding assignments are accompanied by blueprints, sketches, and oral instructions indicating the type of material to be used. Work includes performing mechanical repairs on heavy duty equipment. Work methods or techniques are left to the discretion of the employee, subject to inspection as to the volume of production and quality of workmanship.


* Welds shafts, cams, spindles, hubs, and bushings on automobiles, trucks,
trailers,well pumps, booster pumps, etc.
* Welds a variety of park, playground, and sports equipment and facilities;
* Performs mechanical repairs on heavy duty automotive equipment;
* Performs welding tasks in well fields and water and wastewater treatment plant
to ensure water tight integrity;
* Repairs airport hanger doors and performs welding operations on airport
automotive equipment;
* Creates and updates written of work accomplished
* Performs miscellaneous welding work required during the construction and repair
of City buildings;
* Welds storm grates and manholes;
* Straightens and rebuilds heavy duty equipment;
* Performs aluminum welding;
* Welds various traffic signal poles and utility poles;
* Welds fire trucks, water tanks, stainless steel, and brass fittings;
* Fabricates various objects from oral instructions;
* Demonstrates continuous effort to improve operations, decrease turnaround
times, streamline work processes, and work cooperatively and jointly to provide
quality seamless customer service.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Knowledge of:

* The standard tools, materials, motions, and practices of the welding trade.
* Ferrous and non-ferrous metals in relating to welding and brazing.
* Occupational hazards and effective safety precautions of the trade.
* Arc air procedures and equipment.

Skill in:

* The use of acetylene and electronic welding equipment (i.e., MIG, TIG, and
standard) and other standard tools and equipment related to the trade.

Ability to:

* Read and interpret blueprints and working drawings.
* Plan welding work and make estimates of materials required.
* Make precise arm-hand positioning movements and maintain static arm-hand
* Make fine, highly controlled muscular movements to adjust the position of a
control mechanism.
* Make skillful, controlled manipulations of small objects.
* Lift arms above shoulder level.
* Work in small, cramped areas.
* Work at heights or depths greater than ten feet.
* Climb ladders or stairs to reach objects.
* Clean equipment using appropriate materials.
* Move heavy objects (50 pounds or more) long distances (more than 20 feet).
* Remain in a standing position for extended periods of time.
* Learn job-related material primarily through oral instruction and observation.
This learning takes place mainly in an on-the-job training setting.
* Utilize independent judgment in the performance of duties.
* Work nights.
* Work in a variety of weather conditions with exposure to the elements.
* Measure distance using a tape measure or other measuring device.
* Observe or monitor objects to determine compliance with prescribed operating
or safety standards.
* Visually inspect welds to determine compliance with standards.
* Work safely without presenting a direct threat to self or others.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hello World

Greetings! And welcome to the inagural blog for the inagural meeting of Writing for Web, brought to you by the Porfolio Center, the lovely people at blogger, and me.

I'm Kendra, your instructor.

Apologies: Sorry I missed our first scheduled class. I was out of the country. But, we're going to make that up. In fact, let's use this as an opportunity to take a poll. In the comments, aside from saying hi, cast your vote for one of two things: "I'd like to make up class #1 in Studio Week" or..."I'd like to have a week where we meet twice." It's in your hands now.

Background: I was a PC student. Now, I'm a writer for this place during the day. I've worked a variety of other places too over the years, and one thing I wish they would have taught me more about at PC is how to write for other media. And how to interact with all the different people and programs and writing formats you will deal with out there beyond the school's doors. There is a world beyond headlines and taglines, visual solves and long-copy spreads. I promise. I also promise it's interesting and relevant and it'll help you look right good when you're out there peddling your book.

Assignment: Your first assignment is to do just what I've done here. Visit Blogger and sign up for your own blog. Even if you've already got one, get a new one just for this - one that doesn't already host your drunken ramblings about your estranged college boy/girlfriend. This new blog, we'll be using it throughout the course to comment on each other's work, do assignments, keep in touch, and just generally use this interweb thingy to its fullest potential.

To be continued Wednesday at 6. I look forward to meeting all of you!

Now...leave me a comment, so i know you've been here. (thanks)