Archive for September, 2011

Rhetoric on the Town: Balance


Rhetorical Analysis:

The purpose of the billboard ad is, clearly, to sell Sharpie pens, but the genius of this ad is in the highlighting of the fact that Sharpie pens can be fun for everyone. I think that the intended audience would be primarily parents, with young children being a close second target audience. I feel as though parents are being targeted with this ad because it showcases a potentially mundane parental duty–making lunch for kids before school. This ad shows parents how much fun they can make their kids’ lunches with a simple drawing made by not just any pen, but a Sharpie pen. It also gives them a way for their kids to think of them while they’re at school because what better way to say “Have a good day, son/daughter” than a funny face on one’s lunch? For this reason, I feel like young kids are being targeted by the ad because of the potential fun that having Sharpie pens can cause. The funny face on his or her lunch is something that the kid can look forward to, or even make themselves, if their parents let them. The image prompts the reader to, if anything else, think about how useful Sharpies can be, not just for drawing on kids’ lunches, but also with the labeling of lunches, and why stop at lunches? Things need to be labeled all the time, so why not get a whole pack of Sharpies to organize your living space?

Design Analysis:

The design element implemented here is that of Balance. The ad is symmetrically balanced–although it seems that not everything is exactly centered/balanced on either side of the graphic, if you draw an imaginary line down the middle of the graphic, there are equal elements on either side. The elements of the graphic seem to be in a diagonal, with elements in the opposing corners of top-left and bottom-right in the overall graphic. The red Sharpie is still the focal point because it is so close to the middle of the graphic and because it it bolder than any other color used in the ad, except perhaps for the yellow highlight. Speaking of which, the ad balances itself out by having two parts of the corner elements highlighted with the yellow and with the white text in either corner. I think that the ad reaches its target audience because of the fact that it highlights the fun aspect of Sharpies for both parents and children. It sends a little message, almost, like “add come color to your life with Sharpies.”


White Paper Skills

Of the skills listed in the essay, I think that the three that I am most adept at using are: Play, Performance, and Distributed Cognition.

Play, because I love to do the whole “trial and error” thing with whatever I’m doing, unless it’s for a grad class…then, I don’t play. I think that trying different ways and playing with the methods used to arrive at a specific answer is fun. Take this course, for example: there are so many different ways to complete the homework and projects, I think it’s just a matter of playing with the technologies to find the perfect end-product. In my personal life, where play is concerned, it seems that I do nothing but play video games. As silly as it sounds, I think that video games are helpful to development in that they challenge players to “play” with problem-solving aspects in order to complete quests and win the game. In my professional life, which hasn’t technically begun yet, but I can imagine, Play is integrated into that area through what I want to do professionally (Public Relations). In that field, I would imagine that one has to use their ability to play with information and make it so that the information to be distributed to the general public reaches the target audience with the most appropriate message.

Play and Performance, I think, go hand in hand because when you perform a certain role or adapt to a certain situation, you are somewhat playing with your demeanor. I think everyone uses Performance skills in their everyday social lives because who we are slightly alters depending on what groups of people we hang out with. For instance, around best friends, people tend to be less guarded and more open with who they are, but around people they are just friends or acquaintances with, I feel like people have a tendency to put on airs and make themselves more guarded. I know that I do that a lot in my personal life, but to me it’s actually kind of fun. It’s exhausting at times, but that makes hanging out with people I’m close to more enjoyable. In academics, I think that Performance most comes into play during things like group work where there is one designated leader for two or three other people in the group. I generally like to take up the leadership role and be the go-to person for when group members have questions. Again, in my professional life, I would imagine that PR practitioners have to play with multiple roles during the course of their careers–editors, journalists, managers–roles similar to those.

Distributed Cognition, I feel, I also use a lot in my personal life because Henry Jenkins also touches on gaming here as a portal into this theory’s domain. Games such as Starcraft and Age of Empires have challenged gamers to know not only what is going on in their direct vicinity, but also to plan for what the AI or other players’ teams might be doing in undiscovered regions of a particular map. Getting away from the geek, in the academic world, it seems as though just by using new technologies, we are participating in Distributed Cognition. In this very class, even, I am using technologies I’ve never even heard about before in order to get a good grade on a project. That being said, I think that the Library’s Databases could be a type of Distributed Cognition, bordering on Collective Intelligence. And in my professional life, I feel as though in order to be a good PR practitioner, you have to be willing to experiment with different technologies and find out what new technologies work and do not work for you and your practice.


The three that I need to work on the most are: Multi-tasking, Negotiation, and Simulation. I am a horrible multi-tasker. I get distracted too easily by the smallest things and it takes me forever to finish a project with a reasonable amount of time to spare. I need to be more aware of what needs to be done rather than what can be done, and I think that I can work on this particular skill by making myself realize when I am getting distracted too easily or when I plan too many things for my days and say to myself “Hey, slow down. You need to focus.” Negotiation is something that I also need to work on because of the fact that I can be extremely stubborn when I am passionate about something. That unwillingness to listen is not conducive to a work environment and if I want to be successful, I have to be able to be compassionate not to just my viewpoint but to others’ as well and see where mine and theirs could meet in the middle. I think that I can work on this by keeping my temper in check and seeing someone whose viewpoints differ from mine as someone who has the potential to be an ally rather than the opposition. Simulation I’ve always had a hard time with because of the fact that I have a big imagination but when it comes down to it, I don’t have the ability to adequately construct with my hands what is in my head. I don’t think that it’s too much of a hindrance, but I would like to be able to create what I imagine. I think that this class will be invaluable in that because I’m already using tools I never thought I would, and I think that once you’re working in digital spaces and know how to move fluidly through them, you can do pretty much anything you imagine you can. That’ll be fun.


IMAGE FOUND AT: www.donttextdrive.comRhetorical Analysis: The purpose of the billboard ad is, clearly, to urge drivers not to text and drive, as the act of doing so could be and is often dangerous. I think that the intended audience would be primarily teenagers who have just gotten their licences to college students who frequently text and drive (so ages roughly 18-22). I feel as though seasoned drivers and adults would (or should) know better than to do so, and it is a Trauma Center who sponsors the ad, so perhaps the center wants to use the ad to deter young adults from doing any texting and driving so that they don’t end up at one of their trauma centers for having been in an accident, wrecking their bodies and the cars they just got, because they were texting. The image prompts the reader to, after reading the message depicted on the board, to probably put down his or her cell phone and drive carefully. Some people believe in signs and are superstitious, so I feel as though if I were such a person and I was texting and driving and saw that sign, I would put my phone down immediately and be like “Ok you win this one.”

Elemental/Design Analysis: The design element implemented here is that of “Contrast.” Within the image of the billboard, the concept of contrast is used to send a double message to the consumer. On the one hand, the text reads “Don’t Text and Drive” but because of the way that the dark green color works against the black asphalt in the background, the text also reads “Don’t Text and Die.” The fact that the D, I, and E are white also contrasts with the black asphalt background in such a way that it seems a though the “D–I–E” is somehow emboldened, and I think that this effect is also caused by having the R and V the dark green color because it seems as though those letters are somehow secondary to the D, I, and E. This element reaches the target audience, I think, because a lot of people our age are really appreciative of puns and optical tricks such as this. I think that the target audience would, or should, appreciate the frank cleverness of the billboard and how the message is both hidden and direct.

About the Others

I thought that most, if not all, of the videos made by my classmates were quite good; although, I do have to say that the one that stuck out the most to me was my own. No, just kidding. My favorite one, probably, was Becca’s because after watching the video, she told me that it was her playing the guitar for the music for her video and I think that’s really cool. There seemed to be a popular trend among the videos as far as the format of the video was concerned…most people used the “Water” video which I liked myself because it allows for more pictures than others. The one thing I didn’t like was when people broke up their picture shows with texts after every picture. Like, for example, if someone had a picture of a rainbow and then right before/after that picture it said “I like rainbows” or something like that. I like for pictures to tell the stories themselves, personally. Those videos were the ones that stuck out the most to me.

Animoto Introductory Video

Here’s the introductory video I made about myself…hope you enjoy!

My name is Zack Hill and I am a senior at ODU. I’m taking Digital Writing not only to fulfill the Technological Science requirement for my general education courses, but also because web design and just textual design in general fascinates me. I like being creative with the media I produce from my computer. I used to be an RA and the one thing I always prided myself on were my posters for the programs I had. I’ve taken courses before that caused me to use various medium to produce brochures and newsletters (making me think about design and layout), but nothing as intensive as this. I look forward to the semester. I hope that I am challenged as I learn the concepts presented throughout this course, although I am a little bit confused about the homework still, but I’m sure that will be ironed out tomorrow. See you in class!

Animoto Video

This is the video that I made for the first class period of Digital Writing: