Final Thoughts

It doesn’t take much to write about what you know. Calling on your knowledge of a subject you’re very familiar with is an easy thing. The amount of pages a paper has to be has never concerned me in the past because I always know what I’m talking about during the paper. But, as I found out, filling in the blanks on a wiki is something quite different.

The plan was fairly straightforward: take the Age of Fire series, a series I’m very familiar with and fond of, and use my knowledge of it to complete the wiki started by AMCAlmaron.  I figured that the most important and time-consuming part of the project would be filling in the red linked pages, as there were very many of those at the time I started. This certainly ended up being true, but there was work to be done on the existing pages as well.

AMCAlmaron’s knowledge of the series was sound, but the pages he wrote were far from enjoyable to read.  Besides being somewhat unorganized-especially on the character pages, which had no common structure between them besides the pages for the main characters-they ranged from being incomplete to simply being poorly written. Verb tense was a common issue and required a ton of cleanup, and he also had an unfortunate habit of linking everything possible at every possible opportunity. Linking to another character’s page is central to this kind of wiki, but it was unnecessary to do it five times in one paragraph or even twice in one sentence. This also ended up being a little demoralizing as a side effect. Despite knowing in my head that I was only looking at a handful of incomplete pages, the average page on the wiki made it look like there were hundreds of red links that needed attention.This became doubly problematic when I realized he was linking to things that were only mentioned-mentioned, not featured-in the story once or twice. 

Eventually, I realized that cleaning up after AMCAlmaron was taking too much time, and so switched my focus to adding pages. Reflecting now, I think I should have dedicated time to categories rather than individual books. One week would have been character week, another would have been lore week, another for locations, and so on. What I ended up doing was taking each book as it came. This worked fine while I worked on pages for people or places that only related to that book, but eventually characters and events started crossing over, and I was creating more red links than I was filling them in.

As far as the content itself went, that wasn’t too much of a problem. As I said, I’m familiar with the series and had it handy to review anyway. Referring to the books themselves ended up being more necessary than I thought, especially in relation to minor characters and events from individual books. The major parts of the story were easier to remember and easier to write about, beyond the occasional “OK, this happened before this happened, and then this happened, right?”-style of book-checking.

I didn’t really see any need for a partner or anything like that until I started covering some of the earlier books. The first three in the series of six happen congruently, with each of them being a separate adventure told from the perspective of one of the three main characters. I remembered too late that I had actually read them somewhat out of order, and had gotten to like certain characters more than others before I had even read their books. This lead to me only reading the first two books once back in high school, and reading the following three-featuring my favorite character more prominently-much more often. This left the sixth book, which I also only read once last year. This was the conclusion of the series, and the passion was clearly gone. It was very poorly edited and difficult to read, not to mention having an unsatisfying ending. With my split familiarity of events in the story, I could have used a partner to handle the other half of things, though I would feel bad about forcing them to re-read the last one.

I soldiered on anyway, though.  I made the most edits to the books I knew about, and those were simple to make since I was so familiar with them.  My familiarity was eventually challenged however, by AMCAlmaron himself, who popped up on the talk page for one of the characters I’d added. He suggested that I had perhaps gotten her fate wrong, even though I hadn’t, and that I should change it. I was surprised by how much I had to hold my tongue. Even though I hadn’t started it, I felt like it was my wiki at that point. He hadn’t updated it in years and I had added more pages than he had at that point, so it felt a little like he was encroaching on my turf.

Looking back now, that territorial attitude seems ridiculous since wikis are a community project. Had I been working on the site in my free time as opposed to as part of a project, I think I would have been a lot more open than I was. In the context, though, it felt like someone was just walking by and critiquing me when I hadn’t asked for it in the first place.

Beyond the absurd anger I felt at a simple suggestion and my own personal blind spots on the series, the project went well. I think I might actually continue it over the summer, assuming I don’t bite AMCAlmaron’s head off. 

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Hockey Parents (ENGL 4861)

Jamee Larson’s Hockey Parents tells the story of a nervous father and his son’s first hockey game. Over the course of the story, John-the father-watches his son Brian do his best at being a goalie, despite the heckling of a man behind him. The story touches heavily on the feelings of guilt that an over-zealous parent might feel after pushing an innocent child too hard. While not all of us have children, Hockey Parents is an entertaining enough read to be relatable for just about any reader, be they parents nodding in agreement, or formerly innocent children shaking their heads in disgust.

Looking Glass (ENGL 4861)

Distortion is a beautiful thing. From Picasso’s paintings to Eddie Cochran’s overdriven guitar to Jennifer Von Ohlen’s thoughts on the surface of the sea, distortion, if nothing else, makes things interesting. Beginning with a simple description of the sea, Looking Glass then moves to describe how the surface of the water distorts the image of the things below it. This distortion lends a new perspective on things that may have once been mundane. Whether you like distortion or you just like water, this pleasant poem is undeniably peaceful.

Squid Poems (ENGL 4861)

War leaves its mark on everyone even slightly involved. Christopher Lee Miles displays his own marks in his Squid Poems. In a stream-of-consciousness style of writing, Miles tells of noise, distrust, death, sex, and confusion. The poems themselves are very confusing, and suggest memories too potent for one reason or another to be properly put into words. Whatever they may mean, the poems are something for us fortunate enough to have stayed out of the crossfire to wonder about, and something for those in the thick of it to nod at.

Aurora Borealis (ENGL 4861)

Aurora Borealis by Sean Hill immediately sets a melancholy tone. Telling of a viewing of the northern lights and its lasting effects, it displays a scattered mind as words. Images and memories flit through the story as rapidly as they would in one’s own head, and the feeling it gives off is at once unsettling, hopeful, peaceful, and sad. This kind of poetic prose is the sort of writing that leaves everyone with a different feeling after reading it, and that alone makes it worth reading.

Furry Confusion

Nothing is safe from satire. In our younger days, we might have believed all things on the screen to be possible. From parent-worrying stunts on Tom & Jerry to talking animals across all children’s movies, nothing that was presented to us seemed impossible. So with that in mind, it wouldn’t be any surprise for a child to wonder who trains these animals to talk? Kori Flowers answers that very question in Furry Confusion. Set in a training ground for animal actors to hone their craft with the help of human guides, the story follows one of the hapless humans on a typical day at work. The story’s fantastic setting is immediately rebuked by the feeling of a 9-to-5 grind that covers the narration. The clash of a magical plot with the harsh realities of boring jobs make Furry Confusion a wonderfully entertaining read for anyone with a sense of wonder as a child.

Nana’s Door (ENGL 4861)

As life inevitably moves forward, people start to try to develop a connection with something. Whether a group of people or a cause, everyone needs to feel grounded in something. Anne Sinote writes about finding a sense of lichama, a sense of home, in her grandmother’s door. Taking it with her on various moving trips throughout her life, the door helps make her feel grounded and focused despite varying conditions of living. For anyone who feels like they need a little lichama themselves, Nana’s Door will surely open to new ideas.

One Last Time

Boy, I hate this series now. There’s way too much stuff in it to talk about. I’m doing all I can to cover the major points. I had a brief altercation with the originator of the wiki, who challenged my recollection of events in one of the books. After considering how best to tell him to mind his own fucking business, I eventually settled on acknowledging that I could have been wrong and went back to check. I wasn’t. 

Other than that, it was much the same this week. Adding and adding and adding. I now realize I’m not going to be able to complete the wiki. There’s just too much going on. Each new page leads to five more red links. But then, I was never trying to complete it, just complete as much of it as I could. And I’m well on track for that. The major characters are all present and accounted for, so now it’s mainly filling in the blanks with characters that are specific to individual books.

Studio Tours

Matt Adams

I have to admit, I was a little confused by what the purpose of the project was, and it didn’t get much clearer after I opened the wiki up. It made sense on paper that the wiki was supposed to be used as a collection of the thought processes used to create a master’s thesis, but the description of the project made it sound as if it would be about how other people write their masters theses.

After re-reading and analyzing the wiki a bit more, I was able to understand what the purpose of the project is, however, and once I did, I started to dig into the wiki proper. I immediately noticed the note-like format of the pages. Each held well-organized information and displayed it in a linear way of summarizing or quoting pages and then a self-contained discussion of the information on the page. I particularly liked the notes about the notes, listing which bits of information weren’t used in the paper, or which ones needed revising before being put to use. There seemed to be a split of some sort when it came to which notes were more important. Some were italicized, some bolded, and some underlined. I wasn’t sure which were supposed to be more relevant, but the wiki as a whole gave a stream-of-consciousness vibe, so it ended up fitting.

The proposal claimed that the project would describe not only the thought-processes behind writing a thesis, but the actual writing as well. Beyond a few mentions of notes needing revision, I didn’t see too much of that. It might be too early to judge, however, as Matt may still be in the information-organization stage, and not ready to record all of the thoughts yet.

Overall, it seemed more like a collection of notes than a wiki. The proposal stressed the interconnected nature of wikis, but there were only a few pages, and none of them linked to each other. It may take more shape later, but I’m not sure what to make of the current state of the project.

Matt Buresh

 I was pretty intrigued by this project. I enjoy a casual game of Magic myself, though I’ve never been an avid player, so the quest to improve one’s abilities in the game sounded interesting to me. Checking out the blog, I was pleased to find it well organized, with a categories sidebar that ended up being very relevant to the content of the posts, and to what was proposed for the project. 

I checked out the analysis posts first, and saw a good use of graphs and charts to represent Matt’s wins and losses in various competitive settings.  One thing that did turn me off somewhat was the repeated use of Magic lingo. As I said, I enjoy the game on a very casual level,  so I was unable to make sense of some of the posts more often than I’d like, and anyone who doesn’t play at all will understand it even less than I was.

That said, it becomes obvious very quickly that Matt, at least, knows what he’s talking about. Paragraphs detailing information about his decks and performances, as well as thoughts on how to improve both are everywhere.  It’s an especially good move in this case to utilize graphs and charts to display wins and losses. This makes a summary of the month’s progress much easier to discern among the confusing language of the posts.

More entertaining, though no less confusing to the uninitiated, were the accounts of each game of the tournaments Matt entered. Each one is given its own paragraph and is written like the chapter of a story. All the while with notes about how his deck is performing and his game is shaping up.

Overall, I liked the blog. It was well organized and very detailed, if a little bit confusing in its content.

Jack Tuthill

Another interesting project idea. Being a human, I too enjoy music, and I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of use social media outlets get by famous people, musicians in particular. Reading the proposal, I liked both the ideas of using less-than-famous artists and of dedicating one week to each social media site.

Upon viewing the blog, I was treated to a very well-organized page. The blog encompasses many other aspects outside of the project, but doesn’t overlap thanks to handy categories on the front page. Besides the posts about music, there were other categories available, such as school-related things, and personal life issues. In the music category, each group of postings was dedicated to one social media service, as promised, starting with Facebook and running through Twitter and Myspace before this week’s posts about individual band blogs.  

The posts themselves cover a range of topics under the umbrella topic of that week’s social media outlet. This variety makes for an engaging read, and demonstrates Jack’s understanding of both the goings-on of social media and how the bands utilize these materials. The twitter week’s topics range from how many followers the various indy bands have, to their tweeting habits. In the Myspace week, he discusses the over-abundance of self-advertising in the comments section of other bands’ Myspaces.

The organization and amount of content here is impressive, and speaks well to the conciseness of the project proposal. Everything that was promised in the proposal is easily obtainable, and it shows in Jack’s blog. I look forward to seeing what next week brings.

Tired But Satisfied: Weekly Report

This is a larger undertaking than I thought. I got everything having to do with one of the books completed and in the process, took care of some stuff for the other ones. Most grueling were the characters. Every character seemed to relate to another one, so I felt as if I was making no progress. Some of the more major characters’ pages can be found here and here. As the project goes on, character and event overlap will eventually make completing articles easier. For now, I’m still focusing on one thing at a time, trying to make each article as clear and usable as possible. It’s an odd feeling linking articles. It’s a huge pain every time, going through the article and highlighting everything having to do with the series and linking back to it. But it’s immensely satisfying to see links that were formerly red now turn blue. I don’t want a single red link to be on the site when I’m through. The battle continues!