Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What To Do?

As a digital literacy project, I have decided that is the worthiest site to get me involved in an online community of learners. As a rule I have never gotten involved in these types of online communities, making me an “outsider” in this setting, so this experience will hopefully be very educational. is my site of choice because I have an interest in the interaction a writer may have with other writers on the site; the main purpose is to offer helpful hints and techniques for writing fiction. That and it is quite snarky and fun while still being a compendium of knowledge on all things literary—whether they are movies, radio, text, games, and anything else that is fiction. At this point, I am still dipping my toes in the water as far as what to “get involved” with on the site, but I will try my darnedest to center on the work of Jonathan Swift. I plan to make edits to older posts, comment on people’s additions in scholarly ways, and possibly revive the thread in nefarious ways . . . :D

If that is too slow an interaction, I will shift gears to something else, like a forum on Game of Thrones, which is quite lively.

“What is this about?” is a question that asks right off the bat in reference to their purpose for existence. They claim to be a site for interaction amongst peers and a learning module for the writing community: “the tricks of the trade” to use their wording. However, I liked the question as well to begin a discussion of this blog because I am new to online participation, and it seems important to know the purpose of something before you study it!

So . . . that is something I am still thinking about, but I believe my purpose is to discover the value of peer-driven content within a space for learning. does not require anything besides interest and motivation to post edits, new material, or rants to their site. What they do require, however, is that the editors and contributors keep a professional tone, show respect to the readers and original authors of the works discussed, and post properly formatted text (this one is tricky because of the vast array of tropes and whatnot that link to new places in the database). The most interesting thing to me is the self-policing nature of the site. I commonly hear about the tendency for people to abuse the privilege of the internet and become bullies, conflagrant, or just ridiculous in their behavior. But this site seems to dispel that notion somewhat, which interests me. 


  1. Hello Zeb,

    I think that your blog project sounds extremely interesting, even though I know next to nothing about this site outside of having looked at it once. From your description, it also sounds like it will be a challenging project because of how vast and varied the information is. I am mired in a similar situation with my own site because an entrance into the conversation can be found at almost any point. To this end, I am not surprised at all that you have chosen to work with information concerning Jonathan Swift.

    I think that your site is interesting in terms of digital literacies because it seems to value a very specific kind of interaction (which is evident from your statement about self-policing). I also appreciate that as a participant, you acquire a certain digital capital (e.g. Merchant, 2007) by way of your ethos. Academically speaking, it would appear that you get out of it what you put in. In other words, by contributing to the community, responses of affirmation or agreement give you value in this space. Do you think that this would be an accurate statement?

    I took some time to read and reread the description of your site. In a lot of ways, you touched on some interesting things that I did not talk about in my own blog entry last week. As an attempt to clarify a few things from your blog post, I have a couple of questions that I hope you will find useful:
    1. What information is there about Jonathan Swift on I did not quite understand the connection between the name of the site and the author; they seem like completely unrelated things to me. Because you explained this site as a resource for writers, I think it might be helpful to consider how all of these genres work together in this capacity. You might look into Merchant’s (2007) theories about competing discourses or Fraiberg’s (2010) code mashing discussion when interpreting your own interactions and observations.
    2. Do you have a more specific research question going into this project? You state that your purpose is to “discover the value of peer-driven content in an online space.” While I think this is a good starting point, I wonder if there is any way to narrow this inquiry down? Are there specific types of communication you are looking for in answering this inquiry? I like the fact that your site is invested in the professional tone of writing and sharing, and this might be something to keep in mind as you research.

    I look forward to reading more about your project this semester. I would be happy to clarify any questions you have about my comments in this post.

  2. Zeb,

    I am so glad you are covering TVTropes, actually. This is a site that has existed on the periphery of my site, for quite some time. I've had several friends participate in both sites and find both of them rewarding.

    I think my biggest concern is what specifically you are trying to observe these writers do with one another. It seems you can observe people posting the tropes onto the website, but is there any valuing system to these entries to determine what people are finding of use? I think it would be important to discover what other writers are getting out of this site, and from your description of it, I don't see any way to value or record that, unless you plan on participating heavily in forums that the site provides. If there's possibly a rating system for the entries, that could be a way to determine their use, or perhaps you could track discussion of specific tropes across this community of writers.

    I also think Johnathan Swift might not be the best approach of focus, since tropes are a generalized, over-simplified tool in writing that allow people to make quick patches to get on with more important aspects of their stories. You might want to select a couple tropes to track, or attempt to participate heavily in the discussion of one trope in particular, or identify a trope that has not received much attention, or does not have a very good definition, and give it a bit more attention.

    I don't know if any of these suggestions directly correlate with what you have in mind for your project, so you tell me. Can you talk about exactly what you want to gain from participating in this community?