The medium I decided to choose for my Unit 3 Project was an Instagram page. I created an Instagram profile with the username @wrt205.project and added details and posts to make the page relevant to the Unit 3 Project rubric. In response to the inquiry writing and technology, the topic I chose to center my projects on is the intersection between the Internet and social movements. On the Internet, social media has specifically contributed greatly to the spawn and sustainability of social movements. While websites and chat sites were once used to the same effect as social media sites, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have facilitated the functionality of the Internet in relation to activism much easier. This is especially because social media has tools such as adding friends/followers who can see your posts, the ability to create groups with a subset of those friends or people online, chat features, private messaging options, and the opportunity to share photos, videos, and other forms of media with your friends or the entire world. In addition, hashtags allow users to locate posts on a particular subject. Thus, with these realities in mind, I limited the medium for my Unit 3 project to a social media platform.
After deciding that I wanted to use a social media platform, I focused on the three major sites Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I then thought about the benefits and limitations to each platform, according to the Unit 3 rubric. I wanted to be able to develop a project that incorporated a mix of text, photos, and videos. I wanted my audience to be able to interact with the content in several ways. Not only did I want my audience to be able to read, but I wanted them to be able to watch videos and see the importance of photography in telling a story and educating others. I also believed it was important to contemplate which platform attracted my target audience the most. Facebook has become a site for the elderly, or at least that is what my millennial peers joke about. (I still use the site quite frequently, but I am a unique individual). I immediately crossed Facebook out. If I wanted to attract youth and organizers, I would need a more engaging platform. The decision between Twitter and Instagram ultimately came from the opportunity to present photos in a grid-like fashion on Instagram, whereas I could not do this with Twitter. With Twitter, I would have been able to create threads (a series of tweets linked to each other by directly responding to the last tweet) that would have included photos and videos. While this was an attractive feature, I believe I would have had too much text and not enough visually stimulating content. Also, each tweet would have to be 140 characters or less. This means nearly one to two sentences per tweet, or about 10-20 words per tweet? This would have been a nightmare. The amount of time I would have writing this essay would have been consumed by typing threads too long for anyone to follow. With these observations, I concluded that Instagram, rather than Twitter, would be a better medium for this project.
I downloaded another application called “Giant Square” that divided images into blocks for me to post on Instagram. Using app, I divided memorable or otherwise iconic photos from each movement and posted them in a backward fashion. This was the only way to complete the project. The necessity to post backwards complicated the revision of posts, which made it difficult for me to post videos and tweets of other movements such as the Egyptian Revolution and queer activism in Latin America. Nonetheless, I planned the posts to an extent in which I would be satisfied and accomplish my project goals.
Because Instagram is a social media website, reaching my projected audience would be simple relative to other potential mediums. I can electronically communicate through email, text, social media, or websites and recommend my audience to follow the @wrt205.project account on Instagram. I can create flyers, print them, and post them in physical locations with my username and a preface to the page and recommend following the account. I can share the account username by word of mouth, while giving details about what it contains, to encourage audience members to follow and interact with the page. And last but not least, by using hashtags, I can expand my audience to an international scale. Hashtags allow Instagram users to look up posts that have specific concepts and ideas that are hashtagged. This overextends my targeted audience, which is definitely a positive.
As a result of me sharing this project with students, organizers, and everyone who has the opportunity to interact with the webpage, I would expect for audience members to reflect more thoughtfully on how they use social media and the Internet, if they have not already. I want them to always be mindful of how social media and more broadly the Internet can be used to accomplish social change. I also want audience to decentralize their notions and knowledge about social movements from a U.S. perspective and see their struggle as one that is global. By seeing the similarities between their organizing strategies and accomplishments thus far in the U.S. and comparing the international examples I detailed on the Instagram page, hopefully they will be curious to learn more about global affairs and connections between themselves and the rest of the world that we live in. Lastly, I would hope that they are educated in world events and developments, as they may very well be relevant to their lives, now or later.
A comment that I received on my source analyses for the Unit 1 Project was: “1) meets the criteria, 2) I think you are beginning to see the larger intent of this project 3) use of direct quotes, 4) consistent style in the way of presenting information […] you can trim down certain posts.” From this advice, there were several takeaways. One of the more prominent ways in which I improved my writing was by incorporating quotes. While my peer pointed out that I used direct quotes, it made me realize how it important it was to continue to use them and use them wisely. For example, in my Unit 3 project, I quote Maria, from the video set in Venezuela as she talks about what we can do as citizens in other countries:
“‘Social media is our only weapon. Social media is our voice. Social media is the only window to Venezuela’s reality. Share, share, share, share, share […] We need to raise awareness. We want the world to know.’”
This example was an important use of a direct quote, one that I believed enhanced the overall quality of my Unit 2 and Unit 3 project. The feedback also encouraged me to always refer to the criteria, which is something I did, but not dedicatedly as I should have. I would continually refer to the criteria in the following projects. And of course, through my peer’s support and encouragement, it seems as if I was motivated more vigorously comfortable with pursuing this topic.
Sources for Unit 3 Project:
Christiansen, Jonathan. “Four Stages of Social Movements.” Research Starters: Academic Topic Overviews. Accessed July 9, 2017. https://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/imported/thisTopic-dbTopic-1248.pdf.
Dreier, Peter. “Social Movements: How People Make History.” Mobilizing Ideas. August 1, 2012. Accessed July 8, 2017. https://mobilizingideas.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/social-movements-how-people-make-history/.
Gerbaudo, Paolo. “”We are not on Facebook, we are on the streets!’: The Harvesting of Indignation.” In Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism, 76-101. London, U.K.: Pluto Press, 2012.
REVOLUTION: The Role Of Social Media In Transforming Ideas And Movements. TEDPartners. March 26, 2014. Accessed July 10, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-J9TLBembw&t=232s.
S.O.S Venezuela (English Subtitles). NTN24 News. March 7, 2014. Accessed July 9, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nspFkRzY5FA.
“Venezuelan opposition renews protests against Maduro.” Al Jazeera, April 21, 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/venezuelan-opposition-renews-protests-maduro-170420173517381.html.
Friedman, Elizsabeth J. “Lesbians in (cyberspace): the politics of the internet in Latin American on- and off-line communities.” Media, Culture, & Society29, no. 5 (September 01, 2007): 790-811. http://journals.sagepub.com.libezproxy2.syr.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/0163443707080538.