I have been a communication and media student at the University of Wollongong for almost two years, and over the course I have learnt more than I thought. Before I came to this university, my knowledge of communication and media was very limited, including journalism and television only. Going through the course, my mind was broadened as I learnt new things, such as researching. I have learnt about the matters, ethics, and methods, about people’s mind, about how to reflect myself in the research as well as to present research as a professional researcher.
In the last two semesters, I have been through two media-researching subject, BCM210, Research Practices in Media and Communication; and this semester, BCM240, Media, Audience, Place. The notion of media researching was very strange and difficult for me when I first did BCM210, unfortunately, it was not improve much when I started BCM240, due to the difference in methodology and presentation. I was questioning the concept of ethnography, the relation between blogging and researching, but the problem was gradually disentangled as I went further into ethnographic research.
One of the most interesting parts of research blogging to me is reflection, since it is when I can reveal my own conception and observation about a problem, and therefore, make it personal. In the past, I did not have a habit of speaking my mind, I tended to absorb, processing data and keep it for my own, rather than speak it out. Hence, my reflecting skill is quite limited, which is opposite to subject requirement. Though reflection is my favourite part in the posts, it is sometimes tough for me, especially with topics I find difficult to understand. However, since reflection is a criterion, in each post, I always try to add some personal comment or in some context, compare the issue in general with that of mine, if possible.
Another part of ethnographic research is it is not about researching, it is also about story telling. From what I absorb from nine-week blogging, each post is not just a story, it is a research report but displayed as a blogging story. Thus, it also consists of data analysis and critical thinking. Through practicing, I started to get used to evaluating the issue and comparing instances in different contexts to, as I mentioned, reflect.
Before writing blog for this Media, Audience, Place, I did and I still am writing blog for other subjects. They are, usually, short and highly personal blog posts, in both ideas and writing style, to consider, discuss about a matter or an angle of it. Since I’m used to write short posts, long blog posts with a bit of academic writing style is another constraint. I was in trouble finding a way to tell a story that meet the required length. And I understand that reading is the only solution. The more I read, the less it is troublesome. I was so happy when I got to know Giverny Witheridge and her blog, as I learnt a lot about writing from reading her posts. I also learnt from her about blog design, how to present a blog clearly, navigable and easy to read, like a real researcher. Posts should be classified in different categories, and contain tags so it would be easy to be tracked and to be searched on Google. A tag list on the side of the site would be great to track topics. Post title is also a point that needs attention, because the title would be the one that says the main idea of the whole post. A suggestive title is the first thing that attracts readers. Use of relevant images is a plus. Illustrations used could be statistic graphs, photographs shot by writers, or animations. Because an image is worth a thousand words, illustration is an effective way for attractive story telling.
An about page is a must for researchers. About page is a short profile; it is every thing audiences need to know about a researcher. It is also a part that displays who you are and how professional you are. It could be short, but it is essential. For some technical reason, when I submitted my sample post, my blog about page was hidden. Therefore, this time, I have updated my about page with a brief introduction of my biography and my interest.
The last thing I would like to consider is hyperlinks and reference. A good blog post cannot be a piece of plagiarism. It is not only the matter of law, it is an ethical issue. Hyperlinks broaden access of the post, reference makes it credible. It should be applied on not only ideas and quotations but also images. Hyperlinks make finding source easy for readers, but it make it easy for writers to search for sources afterwards. Since I applied hyperlinks in my posts, it was much more convenient for me to go back to articles I read before.
Although I have learnt so much through the course, there are a couple I feel lack of skill to perform, and these are what I need to bear in mind to improve in my future projects. However, the skills I gain from nine weeks of blogging was precious, not only skills of designing a good blog but content building also. These skills may be applicable for my final digital project as I am starting to brainstorm ideas for it.