On Wednesday morning, classmate Miguel and I stumbled over to the Student Union to catch a session at this years Department of Writing and Rhetoric Symposium. I had never been to this event before, or any event like this really. We decided to check out a session entitled, “Which 90s character are you online?: An introspective look at social media personas”. I am currently in a class called Literacy and Technology and am doing research on the relationship between peoples core and digital identity, so naturally, it seemed fit.
The session went on to showcase seven students work in their final Capstone project. Essentially, these seven Writing and Rhetoric Majors had done extensive interviewing and coding of social media pages in order to draw distinct differences between online personas. After this research was collected, they had to decided what the heck they were gong to do with all this raw data they had. After collaboration and discussing the ways to create “something that matters”, they decided on taking the research they had to establish five different online personas and relate them to a 90’s TV character. From there, the students created a Buzzfeed quiz that would allow people to classify themselves amongst the five online personas, as well as tagging them up with a 90’s character.
Overall, I was SUPER impressed with this research project and the presentation of their research. They were eloquent speakers and you could see how passionate and happy they were to have accomplished this work. I found the process of “coding” to be the most interesting, because I had never before thought of coding in this context. Prior to this experience, I always associated coding with gaming or computer writing; not research on language and social theories. The students mentioned multiple times how tedious the coding process was and said it took over a month just to process all the data. They had to spend a month collecting the data before they could even develop research and theory. This was most interesting to me because it opened my eyes to a new realm of research.
The symposium as a whole was very cool. Many of my teachers had been hyping it up and I wasn’t necessarily sure if I was going to attend, but most defiantly glad that I did. Not only did I get to watch a really fascinating research project presentation, but I also learned more about the Writing and Rhetoric Department.
My only major suggestion is that Writing and Rhetoric professors should collaborate with the Symposium and have their class attend at least one full workshop/presentation together each year. I think that would really spark a lot of interest and creativity amongst the students and department, as well as expose the students to the Symposium if they were like me, and did not realize what a great opportunity going was.