Author Archives: Emma's Blog

About Emma's Blog

Today I am a Master of Arts graduate with English from University College Cork, Ireland. Texts and Contexts: Medieval and Renaissance English, to be exact. I originally started blogging as a Final Year Arts student studying for a B.A in English and History. Admittedly, I wandered from my blog over the past year, only dropping notes here and there, when something intrigued me hopefully I will be a more dedicated blogger in time to come, but that is the beauty of blogging.

If it’s not broke don’t fix it.

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“If it’s not broke don’t fix it” was the cry of many of my online writing peers this week.

Inkpop!” the online social writing blog established by Harper Collins, this week announced its collaboration with a similar site “Figment.com“. The publishing company had established the blogging site “Inkpop!” and were successful in their aims to garner new talent from the world wide web users, as mentioned in a previous post.

However, this lead to controversy among writers who were worried about the copyright of their works. It appears that Figment, allows users to copy the text of the stories that are available on the site. This revelation lead to a number of users removing their stories from the site. This highlights the level of awareness that one has to have about them when they go about publishing anything on the web. It also says something about the level of trust that we have in our peers. The movie piracy advert springs to mind – You wouldn’t steal a purse”, “You wouldn’t steal a car” why should you steal intellectual property.

The writers that publish on these sites, do so the gain confidence, to explore a hidden talent and to get feedback. Stealing or copying, as the case may be, means that you are fooling no one but yourself. And in the end there is no way that you could recreate something that someone else put the whole of their heart into.

As a user of a number of online social media writing websites – Wattpad and Booksie to name a few, I was rather impressed with the layout of the Figment.com website, easily accessible, maneuverable and has an up to date interface. As of yet I do not have any of my own works on Inkpop! therefore I have not chosen to move over to Figment, and will not be posting anything on the site until this copying issue is resolved. We are all using these sights for the same reason – we enjoy reading, writing or both! Do not be the person that discourages good writers from sharing their work with the world.

I would also call on others that use these sites to use good moral judgement when they are reading the stories, if you would not like it to happen to you do not to this to others.

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Growing Popularity of E-publishing Websites

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Over the last few months, my interest in websites which allow users to publish their own stories, cost free and at their own pace has grown bigger, and almost into an addiction.

This addiction can be solely contributed to Wattpad. I am on Wattpad practically 24/7 thanks to the fact that my iPod receives automated emails everytime one of my favourite stories has been updated. Even when I do go out I am not without it, having stored my all-time favourite and current reads on my handheld device – both my phone and my iPod – (in case I run out of battery, obviously!)

I enjoy using Wattpad because of the sense of community that the site harbours and encourages. Getting your work recognised, creating a loyal and helpful fan-base and ultimately gaining new friends.

This website allows writers to gauge reaction to their stories and allows their confidence in their own abilities to grow. Not only is it a haven for writers, but for readers and budding publicists, illustrators and editors.

Today I came across this article online about the growth of Wattpad in the last five years, and it made me smile. I smiled because it made me realize just how important Wattpad has become to other people. When I started researching this kind of stuff last year I was skeptical as to whether there was enough power in such an industry to draw hard-core book lovers over to this new phenomenon! Now, I must say I cannot remember a time that I have actually read a proper book, with a cover and pages, and that new book smell. But I cannot say that I miss it thanks to the unlimited amount of talented authors that Wattpad has to offer.

We must look to websites like Wattpad, Booksie and FictionPress, as well as a host of others, that there really is too many to name of at this time, as the way of the future. For those of you skeptics that say they will never waiver from their faith in books I challenge you to find a reason not to accept ebooks and sites like this. Email is the new postal system, mp3s the new cassette or cd – depending on your generation.

Accepting ebooks, Wattpad or other sites like it does not mean turning your back on traditional methods of reading, it does not mean turning your back on the publishing industry, it is just another branch on a huge tree that leads you in the end to one ultimate goal – publishing your story, getting noticed, reading a great book. It is not meant to detract from the enjoyment of age old traditional, past-time that is reading just enhance the experience.

A Media Revolution

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The internet has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Constantly introducing new elements to enhance its own uses as well as enhancing old media, such as books etc. as has been explored in my Personal Project.  Recently, I was shown the video below by a friend, and after watching it I am more sure than ever that new media is not just a fad. It has infiltrated its way into too many areas of every day life to disappear. The video is based on a new book by Erik Qualman called: Socialnomics . More interesting information can be found on the website: socialnomics.net .

This video illustrates how widespread, diverse and popular the internet has become.

Review of “Electronic Scholarly Editions” by Kenneth Price

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As this seminar draw to a close the importance of Ken Price’s article Electronic Scholarly Editions in A Companion to Digital Literary Studies cannot be neglected. Price examines the usefulness of the electronic edition in this article. In doing so Price gives an outline of the term electronic edition. He then continues by examining the advantages and disadvantages of the electronic edition and attempts to forecast the future of the electronic edition.

Firstly, Price establishes that an ‘electronic edition’ is part of a wider initiative ‘electronic archives’, he gives the example of the Walt Whitman Archive, which he is involved in.

The Walt Whitman Archive utilises everything that is attractive in electronic editions. Especially the ability to move beyond the limitations of the page. The website consists of Whitman’s works, images of the original copies of the works as well as type-written reconstructions so that the texts are legible to people that have difficulty with the penmanship of others.

Walt Whitman 1872

Walt Whitman 1872

As well as Whitman’s own works the website gives links to critical essays which have been written around Whitman and his writings. If this is not expanding the limitations of the page the use of audio readings and pictures, which would be excluded from printed collections of Whitman’s works because of the inability to include them or due to high costs, should prove otherwise. A biographical section allows users to learn more about the author. Meanwhile, the ‘About’ section informs the readers about the aims of the website. Price’s argument is that there is so much more that can be included in electronic editions than paper editions.

Prices article focuses on the prospects of the electronic edition, of which there are many examples: NINES, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Jstor and Project Muse etc. all of which contain academic journals or digitised works of prestigious writers. These websites are a benefit to the scholarly world. They are available at any given time, with out the constraints of library rules and times. The biggest benefit to academics and scholars is that the period of waiting; the time that it takes for journals to be published in print is decreased. As well as benefits such as decreased cost and increased ability to include more in the electronic edition than in the paper.

However, with these advantages come disadvantages. There is a fear that the more advanced electronic editions and archives become the more adept and technology users will have to become. Price fears that the edition will lose its scholarly aspect because more people are handling the text and it is changed and edited to fit the electronic edition.

Advancements in the ebook industry have lead to greater uptake of the ebook, not only as an academic of scholarly resource, but for the ordinary reader too. In an issue “The Cork News“, an article entitled “Mercier embrace ebook technology” caught my eye because of the caption

“2011 is going to be the year of the ebook” – Clodagh Feehan, Managing Director, Mercier Press.

The Article highlights just how the ebook has incorporated itself into the every day lives of readers and scholars. Mercier is Ireland’s oldest Independent publishing house, they focus mainly on historical publications but do publish other genres too, and now they are breaking into the ebook community.

The article reminded me of Price, it shows how the ebook has advanced and developed from the use of ebooks for academic and scholarly use to use for any kind of reading. Ebooks are becoming increasingly more available on ebook readers like ‘Kindle’ and computer – websites dedicated to online publishing as the Personal Project section of this blog focuses on. Other examples of how ebooks are being embraced can my found in the Research section.

While Price’s article is relevant to the use of ebooks the advantages and disadvantages are should be considered in the making and use of ebooks as resources. However the hope, as ebooks become more widespread, is that the kinks and worries will become less prominent as the industry is developed.

Review of Aimeée Morrison’s “Blogs and Blogging: Text and Practice”

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Aimeée Morrison’s article in “A Companion to Digital Literary Studies“, makes it a welcoming and exciting new world, ready to be explored by anyone and everyone that has access to a computer and the internet. Morrison’s article is informative and helpful and makes the reader want to power up the computer and start writing.

Morrison’s article shattered all illusions that I had about blogs. Before reading the article I thought blogs were something unemployed writers and stay at home mothers used to occupy their time. Morrison’s article opened up a whole new world to me: the Blogosphere. Morrison’s introduction to the blogging community, from its humble beginnings to over 54 million blogs approximately ten years later shows the power of this medium. Morrison explains the growth of blogs has created a whole new community. In the early years, we learn that the medium was occupied by a small group computer whizzes but as the number of blogs has grown and access to blogs has become easier thanks to sites like wordpress.com and blogger.com and many others the community developed to accept all types of writers. Morrison informs readers there are many different genres of blogs out there in the Blogosphere. All types of people contribute to this online community; from journalists to political writers or just amateur writers hoping to be noticed by publishers, even academics take advantage of the less formal setting to interact with their peers and lecturers. It is fair to say, there is a bog out there for everyone.

Morrison talks about the benefits of blogging over traditional media. Blogging allows the writer to move away from traditional restrictions of the A4 page incorporating video clips, audio clips and images to enhance their writing and not worry about cost as one would with print media. Everything about the blog can be customized to suit the audience that it is directed at; from the background to the text even the length of the posts could determine who reads it. Morrison also highlights the benefits of subscriptions to help readers keep up to date with their favourite blogs and Blogrolls, which allow readers to find blogs of similar content that may interest them. The most fascinating aspect that Morrison uses to sell the blog is the idea of Comments. This feature allows readers to give the author feedback.

However, Morrison’s article is not totally one sided, she gives a balanced view of blogs. Though the Blogosphere is open to all who wish to enter it – the internet originally being established to give everybody a level playing field – this could also be its downfall. When reading a blog the reader has to be aware what they are reading may not be factual. In the Blogosphere there is no guarantee that the person that wrote what you read actually knows what they are talking about. One of the advantages of the blog and one of the many reasons that people are attracted to it is the anonymity and lack of regulations. Lack of regulations means that anyone can write about anything at anytime, therefore the reader has to be vigilant in accepting what they read as gospel. Morrison gives the example of Rebecca Blood, a journalist and blogger who tried to employ journalistic regulations when writing her blog, but this was when the blogging community was much smaller. Now people who had no journalistic backgrounds were setting up their own blogs meaning this idea fell by the wayside. Not only do no regulations affect the readers of blogs it also affects what people write about, the issue of libel and liability has to be taken into consideration by the author. Morrison tells us that there has been the development of another new word thanks to the Blogosphere; “Dooced” refers to bloggers who have been fired by their employers because of something that they wrote on their blog. This is on ongoing problem in the Blogosphere, as Morrison states to introduce regulations now would take away from one of the biggest appeals of the blog.

Before reading Morrison’s article I was unaware that there was such a big world out there at just the push of a button. The article shows that there was a lot more to blogging than I originally thought and there are lot of issues that still have to be worked out with the regulation and reliability of the Blogosphere as a reliable resource.

“For Better or Worse” Review of Alan Liu’s “Imagining the New Media Encounter”

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On first reading Alan Liu’s article “Imagining the New Media Encounter” in “A Companion to Digital Literary Studies” the only part that I could identify with was the native in the McLuhan example. So, armed with a pen, a notepad, a dictionary and a search engine I began to wade through Liu’s article. Liu presents his argument as the media having an effect on the people who use it, not as one may have thought, the reader or the writer using the media changing the media to suit them. “For better or worse, media changes us.”

This article needed several readings before I could even begin to understand it. The major drawback of the article was the language that Liu employed. The Alan Liu article throws readers in at the deep end. The reader is practically drowning under information on new media, as with this new medium comes a new language. A technical language. It is this technical language that is most disconcerting to the reader. The language, which Liu uses to describe the internet, makes it seem like an incredibly daunting place.

However, the tedious technical language that Liu uses to illustrate the “first encounters” with new media is interrupted by insightful examples of the ways in which people have accepted these changes in media. From Plato’s disapproval of the written media to the child-like acceptance of McLuhan’s native. Even from these two examples we can see the stages of encountering new media as Liu presents it. The initial moment when this new phenomenon takes its place in society and begins to change the world as Plato knew it. Plato’s fear that literacy would change the people; they would become lazy and not use their brains. Then we have the native, learning how to write, although he does not know what he is doing he attempts to write on the paper. We see here that new forms of media do change the people and we accept them begrudgingly, hoping for the best.

The fascinating thing about Liu’s article was tracking the development of media, from oral society to the digital age. Liu highlights the developments in media from oral media to paper media, paper media to digital media. These developments show that there is no “pure” media. Every type of media affected by the one that went before it. By taking this view Liu’s article illustrates that the form in which the media is presented to the reader affects how the reader sees the content that is being addressed. This in turn changes the reader. Liu argues that the media is central to how the message that it conveys in received. However, Liu’s article also embraces new forms of media as they incorporate the old media into them while advancing themselves. Sound, text, images and even video clips can be utilised to enhance the message.

Liu’s article although difficult to read, gives the reader something to think about while reading a newspaper article or listening to a report. The transition from oral to written society changed how the ways in which people are remembered historically. Literacy gives readers something perceptible rather than remembering or just hearing and repeating a story and maybe getting it wrong. Therefore people were more conscientious in the ways that they recorded information. Nowadays, news channels take advantage of all these forms of media. Using new media like the internet to project stories around the world. They use recordings of newscasters; which incorporate oral media; they provide visual media through the use of videos and images while they also include some text or written report on the story. The new media that Liu discusses also affects other areas of the media encroaching on oral and print media with social networking and e-books becoming more and more popular.

Hello world!

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Hello Blogging World! (And anyone else out there who might be reading this!). Just a few lines to let you know what’s happening here. This blog is for commenting and reviewing literature that I will be reading in my seminar, as mentioned in the “About” section. This is my very first blog and I cannot wait to get blogging!