“How to Read Like A Writer” & “…and by islands, I mean paragraphs” Notes

Summary (RLW): In the “How to Read Like A Writer” by Mike Bunn, readers get the insight on how to write a piece a writer and also how to analyze pieces like a writer. He starts off with a little of his own narrative that soon quickly dives into the main topic of this writing. All writings are a continuous string of choices that the author has to make by themselves. We work to identify the specific choices an author makes to gain a better understand not only in our part but on their part as well. We want to look at every single sentence and every single word the author has written down on their particular writing piece. From doing this, we can develop our own beliefs on what is the most important choices when it comes to writing a story or article. Continuing on, he focuses on reading—how to read like a writer. We look at questions the author has given us at the start or ending. We look for genre, purpose, and our target audience. Overall, this writing is to get more information about writing our own pieces and reading others.

Summary (Islands): The author, J.R. Carpenter, has arranged the writing pieces in an odd but particular way. Each paragraph of writing relates to an island. Whether the island is actually real or not may be the question. The writings focus on the island. Whether by giving information about the history or derivation or by expressing some sort of emotion that comes along with the island itself. The paragraphs change from time to time. Some change faster than others and some may change more words than others. It is a creative, but thought provoking way of writing that I cannot fully explain myself.

Main Idea (RLW): It takes precise planning and critical thinking to read and write like a writer.

Main Idea (Islands): Each piece of writing (whether long or short) takes critically thinking to fully grasp the true meaning.

Key Terms (RLW):

  • Writer: a person who has written a particular text
  • Technique: a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure
  • Choices: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities
  • Genre: a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter
  • Construction: the style or method used in the building of something

Key Terms (Islands):

  • Island: a piece of land surrounded by water
  • Geography: the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources, land use, and industries
  • Ocean: a very large expanse of sea, in particular, each of the main areas into which the sea is divided geographically
  • Paragraph: a distinct section of a piece of writing, usually dealing with a single theme and indicated by a new line, indentation, or numbering
  • Radical: (especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough

Commentary (RLW): Mike Bunn mentions about how an author makes specific choices when writing a particular piece. It makes me think that every single word has a purpose and a meaning behind it. The author choose to use another word instead another similar word close to the meaning but why? Why would the author use the word “rage” rather than “angry”. But, it all goes to back to the author making that choice. Writing is such a creative but a complex situation. When I was a kid, I thought writing was fun. There was no limit on where you could go. However, growing up I came to realize there are several factors that an author needs to consider to make something good. What Bunn is trying to get across is true. A well done piece of writing needs to have structure and meaning. With all those detailed choices, it ends up creating something magnificent. To read and write like a writer is to pay attention to the details and meaning and/or symbolism towards each sentence.

Commentary (Islands): I am confused on the meaning behind this island writing piece. Each paragraph tends to lean a different way from the others. However, I found a line or two that took my attention for a bit. Carpenter writes, ” The deserted island is ready to begin anew. It is this very moment that literature begins” (And by…). At a certain degree, we are all deserted islands. We are all on separate paths with different outcomes that are fairly unalike from one another.  From there, we can find our true selves and flourish. Like when an author sparks an idea and goes to be alone to write out those thoughts and brilliant ideas. With time to themselves, they can produce their best works. Another example would be going off into the world without the dependency of our parents. When we let go or get deserted by our parents, a new adventure appears. A new way of life emerges. Whether it goes well or terrible it is up to us to make that decision. We will have to write our own stories.

The Selfie Post

BRRRRRINNGGG. As I heard the buzzing of the school bell, I hustle to my class. Many newcomers, like me, were wandering around the school, lost in finding the right classes. Quickly checking the classroom number, I headed inside. Taking a quick glance of the crowd of people, who I presume were going to be my classmates for the rest of the year, I recognized only a few faces. The rest were strangers.

This was around the time I had bought my very own IPod Touch. It was a chance to explore the wonders of the world and get involved with my peers online. It was the start of self representation on the digital world. Moving into middle school and in a completely different environment opened up this need of belonging. I was used to the kids that I had grew up with in elementary school. Now, we were dispersed into the big ocean, and I felt a bit pressured to be apart of this big crowd. Though being quiet, I was able to express a more bubbly side of me to my fellow classmates during this years. Rettberg mentioned how filtering has become a more popular concept. Like in my selfie above, I used filters to merely get rid of my imperfections and hopefully, made me a “better” version of myself. This selfie reveals that I was a bit more confident and curious during my sixth grade year—that I was not afraid of trying new things. However, it showed that I was afraid not being liked by my peers. I had to use filters in attempt to make me more likable.

It only has been about five years at most, and these photos are the closest “selfies” that I could find on any my personal devices. If saying so myself, I have changed a lot during these years. I only like taking photos as a memory for my future self. Instead on focusing on my presence in the photo, I’d rather have the attention be on where and who I was with (when taking these photos or “selfies”). Also, another factor that played, and still does play, an important role in my “photography” skills is insecurities. With being a kid, it does not matter who you play ball with during recess. It does not matter who you sit with at lunch. You stand firm and tall through it all. However, for me, it only lasted till the end of sixth grade. I’m not going to go into details and all, but by the end of sixth grade, I kinda gave up. There were many things that were falling apart during those times, and I guess my style of selfies became a “result” of that. I try to hide myself by being by the edge, not wanting to be seen. However, most importantly, these photos have great value to me. Though they are not something spectacular to look at, it’s the meaning behind them that matters most. It’s similar to self documenting myself with digital technology.

Though the pictures I have chosen to look at were not around the same time, it shows the development of a person’s, in this case my own, attitude and personality. From a single photo, you could only identify only a part of someone. You would not be able to grasp the whole meaning of an individual from a single photo. It would be like listening to one side of the story and ignoring the fact that there was another perspective on the exact same story. These pictures does not only show where I have gone and changed, but also the potential for myself to grow and develop into the best person I can be.

Chapter 3 “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology” Notes

Summary: Rettberg starts out the chapter with her own story at an art gallery. She mentions a girl’s work about a series of selfies that was over the spam of fifteen years. This emphasized quantity and rhythm. Then, Rettberg dives into self-representation on social media. One’s feed, let’s say on Instagram for an example, consists of a continuous string of photos or posts that enables us to express a part of ourselves onto the internet. Moving on, we examine two similar time lapse videos. Though they were alike, one became more popular and successful. It figured that gender and race may had played a role. However, it made time lapse videos popular in society.  Rettberg continues about the topic of time lapse by giving another example—Rebecca Brown. Her time lapse was very much different from others. It told her journey of depression. It shows emotion and depth. Next, Rettberg goes into the topic of profile pictures and icons. It can be used as an identity marker. Overall, serial photos help develop self-representation onto the online world.

Main Idea: The series of photos, selfies, or posts helps an individual develop a more deeper self-representation onto media.

Key Terms:

  • Serial: consisting of, forming part of, or taking place in a series.
  • Icon: a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something
  • Time Lapse:denoting the photographic technique of taking a sequence of frames at set intervals to record changes that take place slowly over time. When the frames are shown at normal speed, or in quick succession, the action seems much faster
  • Identity: the fact of being who or what a person or thing is
  • Self-expression: the expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, or ideas, especially in writing, art, music, or dance

Commentary: In the very beginning of the chapter, Rettberg gives us a definition of serial. She explains that “to really understand social media genres we need to see them as feeds and analyse each post or image as a part of a series.” I totally agree on what she says. You cannot fully understand an individual by just looking at one post that they had recently posted. Yes, it gives a sense for who they are, but it does not show the bigger picture. It’s like a puzzle. You can have a few pieces and try to understand it, but you need to put it together as a whole to get the full understanding. All those little puzzle pieces, much like a series of photos, are needed to make a whole. They are mandatory to understand the final product. Do not assume one’s personality or intentions by looking at one post they had shared. We have to analyze and look at the other pieces.

Chapter 2 “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology” Reflection

After reading chapter two of Jill Rettberg’s book. Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, I have gotten a more detailed grasp on the concept of filtering. At first, I had never really paid attention to the social media aspects of filtering. The first thing that came into my head when I read the title of the chapter was about the human body and the kidneys, filtering the blood and waste. But now, my mindset has slightly changed. With filtering in terms of media, there comes several layers that we mask. Though it may show one’s individual creativeness or talent, we lose the authentic purpose of the original context. What is so wrong with the original photo or concept? Why do we filter things? We want the imperfections and flaws to be unrecognizable. We want to enhance its beauty. Why though? As little kids, we’ve been taught to accept everyone for who they are. Parents and adults emphasize the need to be yourself, but since technology has devoured much of our world, we have kept that advice in the the back of our heads and buried away. Now we have become “obsessed over what other users think” (Shearer). Most of the time we do not consciously think about it though. We have always been mindlessly seeking the approval of others. It follows through our entire life. When we were little kids, we seek the approval of our parents, trying to get their attention. Growing up, we seek for peers to like us. This younger generation will only come to know that beauty is making an alternate self with filters. Our doings are going to negatively influence the young. We created this horrible fantasy of perfect on the web. The celebrities and artists that we look up to also filter themselves. Their company or themselves may add filters onto their selfies or photos, and with that we are eager to be just like them—to be perfect. We see kids in elementary school that already have smartphones. They do not know much about it, but they’ll quickly learn how to apply filters onto their photos. As they age, they’ll be consumed with the technological expectations. They will have to live in a world that expects them to be perfect. It’s not just the filters and edits we put online, but also the “filters” we do to ourselves in the real world. We may on put on makeup or certain types of clothing. Though some of the motives may be because a particular individual enjoys fashion and makeup, but most of us, without knowing, are hiding our insecurities. We do not like being judged by anyone. With response to avoid pain, we mindlessly put on a mask that covers our inner beauty. Are we true to ourselves? 

Chapter 2 “Seeing Ourselves Through Technology” Notes

Summary: Rettberg starts out clarifying the many terms of filer. It can be technological, cultural or cognitive, or filters can be a combination of these three types. She emphasizes the importance of filters in our media and society. They are everywhere, enhancing the pictures we take in real life. Not only does filters are huge in the world of technology, there are some instances that Rettberg mentions. But in the end, in the variety of context that ‘filter’ is used, it all mean something similar—the removal of unwanted content. For example. Instagram and coffee. The Instagram filers get rids of the dullness of real life, and coffee filers gets rid of some coffee grounds but is primarily used to add flavor to by slowing its flow. Rettberg continues on to explain the sub-types of filters like genres, lens and cultural. She finally ends off with a little reflection of this chapter.

Main Idea: Filtering is widely common in this generation; it has allowed us to hide the imperfection and flaws of reality.

Key terms

  • Filter: pass (a liquid, gas, light, or sound) through a device to remove unwanted material
  • Lens: something that facilitates and influences perception, comprehension, or evaluation
  • Genre: a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter
  • Cultural Phenomenon: also known as the bandwagon effect, occurs when certain individuals behave a certain way merely because other individuals do as well.
  • Distortion: the act of twisting or altering something out of its true, natural, or original state

Connections: Living in this world of technology, I have seen many connections of using filters. Though I have mixed feelings about filters and filtering, I believe that many of us are mindlessly using it. It gives this sense of false happiness and in the long run, it damages our self-esteem. I see my mom download all those beauty filter apps onto her phone. She uses them to correct her pictures and selfies. I ask why she uses them, and she replies with an obvious answer—to make her look beautiful. This society has planted this idea of happiness through wearing this mask. I even get caught up with using filters on Snapchat. It is so easy to do. Everybody filters themselves into a “better” version of themselves. After all, we are humans.

The Folklore We Create

“No, no, no, no, NO,” he exclaimed. “This can’t be happening.”

As Dr. Gruzom scrambled to find his crimson flash drive, the laptop flashed with big fat letters that read “ERROR.” A frustrated sigh escaped from his dry mouth. For a split second, he was going to give up, but from the corner of his eyes, he spotted the flash drive on the ground covered by his fellow lab partner’s warm blood. He dashed to the floor and plugged the flash drive into the laptop. Before the transfer is complete, the whole world becomes dark. There was no more birds chirpping. There were no more children laughing. There were no more machinery operating. The only thing that lingered from Dr. Gruzom’s ears were the the silent cries of a few.

Years Later 

There has been a small team of archeologists, including myself, that has been stuck in this area trying to find clues about the society left behind before the destruction. We have came across a laboratory that was covered with ash and dirt just two years ago. We are still trying to unwrap this place.

“Any new updates?”

“Yes. We found this red piece plugged into this mechnical box. It comes apart.”

I take the red piece from Jim. I rush over to the tent and head straight to my computer system. It takes a minute for anything to happen, but then, random files start popping up.

“Take a look at this, Jim.”

He rushes over and glances at the screen. This is it. This is the key for finding about the society that was destroyed. I take a moment to think about what file I should open up. I click on the file named “President Trump.” The article was written and published in 2018. Jim leaves the room as I start reading. He has to continue his tasks. I scroll through the file.

From this, I concluded some (not all) things about this past society. For one, women are not as equal to men. It is still present in our current society as well. The leader of the time, mocked and doubted a women’s testimony at a campaign. Coming from a leader, it showed that the society, in terms of government positions, give little respect than they should have to women. Also, the file mentioned around fifteen accusations on the leader for sexual harassment. Society in that time treated women differently. However, there has been evidence that women was playing significant roles back then. I go back to the list of files and start clicking on random ones.

“Mechanical Bride” Notes

Summary: The author, Marshall McLuhan, starts out mentioning the increase popularity and questioning on local resources like the newspaper or daily “book.” One story in particular summarizes present society in one line—”a thousand and one astonishing tales are being told by anonymous narrator to an equally anonymous audience.” Though we are advancing in many new ways, we still have this natural tendency to be mindless on the web. McLuhan goes on to continue to explain that this society is greedy for much greater intelligence and increasing levels of personal and social integrity. Now, the ordinary human being is not only curious on local or national news, but also has interests engaged onto stories around the globe. He continues to explain industrial man has lost the concept of the beauty within. Our society is filled with a mask to cover the actually content of the news. He ends off with concluding that we are consumed by the wonders of technology and advancement that we had forgotten the meaning of its content.

Main Idea: With the advancement of technology, society has lost its authentic understanding of the content of news/writings.

Key Terms:

  • Irrationalism: a belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response
  • Discontinuity: a distinct break in physical continuity or sequence in time.
  • Newspaper: a printed publication (usually issued daily or weekly) consisting of folded unstapled sheets and containing news, feature articles, advertisements, and correspondence
  • Modern: characterized by or using the most up-to-date techniques, ideas, or equipment
  • Industrial: relating to or characterized by industry

Commentary: After reading this article, I’ve seen to agree on several points that the author was trying to get across. For one, McLuhan mentions that everything published and viewed is all anonymous. In the world of vast development, it’s easier to lie on the web. Aside from that point of view, an individual can post anything they want online and not be exposed for who they really are. Sometimes it is easier to express your bottled up feelings to a group of unknown people than to your closest friends. Another quote I found interesit in was “man would dunk himself in the newspaper than have any esthetic or intellectual grasp on its character and meaning.” Yes, we still do have some positive side of the web. However, we give into social media mindlessly without thinking about the details. We look at the overall big picture and become too lazy to analyze it. We come to judge on first impressions when we know it does not fully show who an individual really is. We have relied on the web and social media to isolate ourselves from the world around us. From the paying attention to the big headlines, we have forgotten to look at the smaller things on and offline.

“Imagining the Blogosphere” Reflection

After reading this particular article, I not only gained insight of blogging and the blogosphere, but also insight on myself. For starters, I never realized the amount of those that do not update their blogs, and those to the extent to never return back to their very own blogs. After reading about the research and surveys mentioned in the article, I could not stop thinking about how it accurately related to me. The article mentioned that the average abandoned blog only lasts about four months. I instantly thought about this blog. I only created one purely for this class. In two months time, I would not come back to use this again. There will be no need because this course will be finished (and hopefully I passed). Like many of you in this class, we will abandon our blogs and continue our lives without worrying about turning in our notes and reflections by three in the afternoon on a Friday. Though we were required to build a blog, I feel a bit sad to let it go soon. Yes, my excitement about this blog has dramatically died down since writing the notes and reflections each week, but the idea of blogging still sounds intriguing to me. Honestly, if I had a blog (not for school), I would completely stop utilizing it after four months tops. I have always been the type of person that does not stick to an interest or hobby for a long time. For example, knitting. I learned to knit around the beginning of middle school through watching five minute YouTube videos. I found knitting to be fun, and so, I continued to do it for a while. I even promised my sister I would knit her a scarf by Christmas. However, five years later, it’s barely a foot long. This instance is like having a blog. I would get too caught up with the life I have to live (school, work, extracurricular activities), that I’d never have time to go back onto it. Also, I’ll forget my password and become lazy to reset it. Like any hobby or sport, you have to commit time and actually enjoy it to continue (unless told by a superior—either by a parent or mentor). From the past weeks of blogging, I always felt the pressure to get the readings, notes, and reflections done, and from that, it takes the fun out of blogging. With juggling other classes and homework that goes along, I at first over estimated this blogging style for this class. Though it’s fun (at times) and unique, the stress of publishing  it on time is taking over the concept I originally thought. Now, it makes me ponder about the people whole blog for a living. How often do they face a situation similar to mine? Ending off, nothing goes on forever, our blogs especially.

“Imagining the Blogosphere” Notes

Summary: Though advanced technology is increasingly dominated the world, “The Blogging Iceberg” survey showed that many blogs are decreasing in their activity and updates. However, at the same time the act of blogging is increasing in popularity. A blogosphere is complicated to explain when there are two main sub-topics of blogging—informational/conversational blogging vs. personal blogging.  In each situation it differs on the perception on how blogosphere is interpreted. We find blogs that hyperlink to other blogs and information, but there is also another side of blogging that is filled with emotion and personal experience. The meaning of blogosphere is altered to these conditions. Anyhow, blogging has provided critical perspective and information that may have not been collected if not through the blogs (example: 9/11 attack). The article also claims that the diarist bloggers are to be useless to the general population and with the help of filtering, people can look at the more “important and useful” blogs. All in all, the human population has come far to develop such great advancement in technology to communicate and connect ideas and news.

Main Idea: Though blogging is a broad term, there are two main types—conversational/information and personal/diarist. Though diarist blogs share feelings and emotions, it has little importance to the population. On the other hand, informational blogs serve an important role for connecting and communicating.

Key Terms:

  • currentness: the quality of being current or up-to-date
  • blogosphere: personal websites and blogs collectively.
  • media: the main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the Internet), regarded collectively
  • community: a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common
  • filtering: to selectively remove something

Commentary: There were plenty of sources and materials in the article. Though conversational/informational blogs (and similarly this article) are ideal for obtaining knowledge, I felt the need to disagree that diarist blogs are useless. Yes, the author, Graham Lampa, did mention the need to encourage more diarist blogs to be appreciated, I felt like the article overall seen diarist blogs as something with little value to the population. However, they do serve importance to society. Diarist blogs should not be seen for only their uniqueness, but also their ability to bring people together. In the article, it mentions about using conversational blogs to debate with one another back and forth. In this way, these blogs stirrup controversy and hate. It has some negative effects with it, but with diarist blogs, it could connect others in a positive way. Rather than going against each other, these blogs can build stronger relationships. Society has greatly impacted our mindsets (especially with our mental stability), and with the help of diarist blogs, individuals can realize that they are not alone in this world. There’s no need to feel bottled up. Everyone around us is facing hardships and struggles that you are facing. Diarist blogs serve a great purpose to help individuals learn, grow, and inspire others.


Recently, we needed to add some sort of copyright onto our own blogs. Taking an easy and simple route, I picked to use Creative Commons. I feel the need to not be strict on having credit/copyrights on what I write or post. I’m simply using this for class, and if someone was eager to use my words (which is very low), I would not mind if they took what I had posted. We’ve all been in difficulty finding pictures or words to use without the issue of getting in trouble with copyright issues. Though I want people to use my things freely, I tried to use the bare minimum for copyright.