Kim’s Reflections on Tablet App Writing

I enjoy writing on my tablet. I did not particularly enjoy writing in the Microsoft Word for Tablet application.

Allow me to elaborate further. I don’t dislike Microsoft Word, save for their ridiculous-to-me pricing. The app was free, so I figured that they’d gotten rid of my only dislike about their product. I was wrong. The app is fine, but it’s just not for me.

When I write on my tablet, it’s almost exclusively in a Google document. I’ve expressed my undying love for Google Drive elsewhere, so I won’t go on. But there is a lot more convenience in the Google app than I was able to find in the Word for Tablet app.

First thing’s first: Opening a document doesn’t take much effort, but immediately I encountered problems.

Can you read that without clicking?
Can you read that without clicking? That’s exactly how big the text was on the tablet.

Text size isn’t a big problem, but it took me a bit of messing around until I was able to find a text size that made it easier for me to work. (There is an option to zoom in, of course, but I like to see all my text in a window if possible.) I prefer to jump right into writing a document, so this was a little unfortunate.

Writing many words on a tablet can be tricky, but I have a bluetooth keyboard that took most of the struggle out of it. As a result, I was able to finish within about an hour.

My setup. Tablet's a lot smaller than the keyboard!
My setup. Tablet’s a lot smaller than the keyboard!

I don’t like to use tablet apps to write more than a few hundred words, not even Google Drive. This isn’t so much because it’s not easy to do with the right app, but because it’s slower. Even when using the bluetooth keyboard, typing in a tablet app is a lot slower than typing on a computer, and it takes a bit more effort to make corrections quickly. I believe tablet apps encourage quick, short pieces of writing. Longer pieces should be written from a computer. (Since Microsoft Word for Tablet connects to a cloud drive of its own, short pieces can be expanded with ease.)

Aside from the annoying initial text size issue, the Word app was a lot like Google Docs’ app, so it felt pleasantly familiar to me once I adjusted things to my liking. I would probably have enjoyed the experience more on a computer.

There are a lot fewer distractions in the Word for Tablet app. Since it’s an app and not a website, it’s harder to multitask (or procrastinate) while working unless you’re using a different device at the same time. This is probably why, despite tablet lag, I was able to finish so quickly. This adds to my opinion that quick-and-short pieces of writing are best for this sort of app.

To get the text from the app to WordPress, I had to save what I’d written as a .docx, upload it to my Google Drive, and then copy + paste it and make my edits. This was by far the easiest part, and I’m very glad I chose an app that made saving documents and moving them elsewhere incredibly easy. (I chose not to use Microsoft’s cloud, due to my preference for having all of my documents on my Drive.) This shows me that my writing is never really finalized until it’s in the place where it’s going to be published.

A screenshot of my initial draft in the Microsoft Word for Tablet app.
A screenshot of my initial draft in the Microsoft Word for Tablet app.

In conclusion, I think that the Microsoft Word for Tablet app is worth giving a shot, but if you aren’t in love with writing on a tablet already it may not do much for you. I’m still adjusting to writing with a tablet (which I’ve tried to do in the past), so it was sort of annoying for me. It did offer me a lack of distractions, though, which was nice.

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Kim’s Reflections on Tablet App Writing

We Need Diverse Books and Tumblr – Analyzing the Social Networking of a Hashtag

The social networking spaces most associated with We Need Diverse Books (and, as a result, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag) are Twitter and Tumblr. Sites such as Facebook and Google+ have pages for the movement, but they are not very active and not much communication occurs there. Twitter and Tumblr, on the other hand, are hives buzzing with book-loving activity.

Since a great deal has been said already about We Need Diverse Books on Twitter, I chose to dig a bit deeper into the We Need Diverse Books community on Tumblr.

This is what a Tumblr user's dashboard looks like. (Sidenote: Rainbow Rowell is a great author, and her books often contain many diverse characters.)
This is what a Tumblr user’s dashboard looks like. (Sidenote: Rainbow Rowell is a great author, and her books often contain many diverse characters.)

I’ve been using Tumblr for about 3 years, and I’ve noticed that it has some similarities to Twitter. Posters have the ability to “reblog” posts that they like, similarly to the “retweeting” function on Twitter. The major difference in the function and its uses is that reblogging is often one of the only ways that a person can reply to a post. (It is possible to directly reply without reblogging, but this is a function that a user has to enable, and many Tumblr users do not allow direct replies to their posts.) As a result, Tumblr conversations are also much, much longer than conversations on Twitter.

Tumblr is known for being a site whose community is very friendly to people of different races, sexualities, and disabilities. Many, many Tumblr users are also young people, usually in their teens or early twenties, concerned with social justice issues. They are also generally very nerdy, and many of them love to read books (mainly YA). Since there is a considerable overlap on the site between YA audiences and the sort of people who want to see more characters like themselves in books, it doesn’t surprise me that Tumblr has been very conducive to a lengthy discussion of diverse books.

We Need Diverse Books' Tumblr page.
We Need Diverse Books’ Tumblr page.

We Need Diverse Books, Gay YA, and Disability in Kidlit all have Tumblr pages that get many notes (this is reblogs and likes, and sometimes just replies). The conversation on these Tumblrs is often in-depth, and even more often willing to discuss real life issues that affect many “diverse” people.

An example of a post on Disability in Kidlit's Tumblr page.
An example of a post on Disability in Kidlit’s Tumblr page.

From observing the social networking site that discusses it most, I can gather that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks community knows exactly what sort of audience it wants to reach, and how it wants to reach it.

We Need Diverse Books and Tumblr – Analyzing the Social Networking of a Hashtag

Kim’s Thoughts on the Diary of Writing Technology Activities

For an assignment for my Writing, Research and Technology Class, I was asked to track my phone usage for 48 hours. Each time I picked up my phone, I had to write down the activity I was doing, how long it lasted, and what (if anything) I interrupted to check on my phone.

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I started my assignment at 6:00 PM on Monday, February 23rd, and ended it at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, February 25th.

During the course of this assignment, I picked up my phone 56 individual times.

Activities:

Phone calls: 2 times (social) (1 minute)
Text messages: 15 times (social/textual) (2 minutes)
Facebook: 5 times (social/textual) (10 minutes)
Google Survey: 1 time (social) (2 minutes)
Spotify: 5 times (social) (4 hours)
Other social websites: 3 times (social) (15 minutes)
Google Sheets: 1 time (textual) (2 minutes)
Google Docs: 2 times (textual) (10 minutes)
Email: 2 times (textual/social) (5 minutes)
Browsing the Internet: 3 times (social/textual) (10 minutes)
Tweeting: 10 times (textual/social) (4 minutes)
Playing games: 3 times (social) (30 minutes
Miscellaneous social activities: 4 times (social) (10 minutes)

Total time spent on phone: 5 hours, 41 minutes.

It wasn’t all that difficult to take note of each activity… except when I was walking around. Unfortunately, most of my periods of heavy phone usage occur when I’m walking somewhere. In these instances, I had to make sure I only checked my phone when I could get to a flat surface to write on, or to make mental notes to write the information down the minute I got to one. The little Field Notes book was easy to carry it around as I walked, and I was able to write down all the phone activity that took place.

Things filled up rather quickly at first.
Things filled up rather quickly at first.

I feel as if this activity connects to technological determinism because, well, tracking technology on paper is sometimes horrifically inconvenient. While I was conducting the assignment, I often wondered if it would be easier and more efficient for me to keep the log in a Google Sheets document instead. I definitely think technological determinism is a spot-on perspective; the more new writing technologies come my way, the less I like writing by hand.

I decided to lessen my phone usage during the 48-hour period. The main reason for doing this was so I didn’t have to write down a note every five seconds. Fortunately, since I don’t get a lot of texts and have other methods of communicating with my friends (mainly from my Chromebook), no big problems occurred. I wasn’t acting against societal pressure to use technology so much as plain ignoring society’s pressures by doing things on my own terms. I’m not into text-based communication due to its awkwardness and lack of direct emotional expression, so it wasn’t very hard to do.

Sadly, though, there were times when more important things got interrupted.
Sadly, though, there were times when more important things got interrupted. (Sorry, Professor Wolff!)

Considering how I still logged a considerable amount of time spent on my phone, though, what does it say about my phone usage during a normal week? In a 48-hour period of more typical phone usage, I suspect the numbers would double.

I wasn’t all that surprised to find that other apps took up the rest of my time, since I don’t text much. Most of my phone usage was when listening to music on Spotify… which totaled up to 4 hours of my total time because I spent all of my time scrolling around on the app. I also spent a lot more time on phone games than I thought I would; though it only totaled about 30 minutes, that’s twice as much as I expected. This tells me that I’m more interested in music and interactive media than participatory culture.

In her book Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Nancy Baym says that “People, technologies, and institutions all have power to influence the development and subsequent use of technology.” (p. 47) I agree wholeheartedly with this assumption, and believe that our society has fully changed the way we do things, and has created a boatload of technological advancements. But that doesn’t mean I feel the need to O.D. on them just because others around me do.

I love my phone, and I feel it plays a vital role in my life, but I wouldn’t say it’s been fully domesticated into my life yet. It’s an incredibly convenient tool in many ways, but not something I can’t live without. It does, however, offer me things that a lot of other devices cannot: considerable portability, relatively quick ability to interact with others, and a lot of interesting other bits of interactivity. The way that my phone use changed reflects my fight against the current technology overload in the world: I don’t particularly care about what the “societal norms” regarding technology usage are. I do either what I have to do or want to do when it comes to my technology usage.

I’m not sure I’m as digitally literate as I thought I was before this project. I know how to navigate the spaces I enjoy, but not so much how to branch out beyond them. Interacting on social networking beyond close friends sites like Facebook is still a profoundly bizarre experience; self-promotion and “selfies” are things I try to avoid like the plague. It’s jarring to see others around me who are so accustomed to using technology already and how the world changes to make us even more tech-friendly–this is part of the social shaping phenomenon where tech and users feed each other’s changes–but I’m slowly coming around to changing as well.

Here's the back of my Field Notes. I drew my phone, which I nicknamed Harold.
Here’s the back of my Field Notes. I drew my phone, which I nicknamed Harold 3.0 as part of a running joke.
Kim’s Thoughts on the Diary of Writing Technology Activities

Kim’s Reflections on Google Docs and Draftback

Here's proof that my post was composed in Google Docs/Drive.
Here’s proof that my post was composed in Google Docs/Drive.

I’ve been using Google Docs to compose writing since 2011. It’s by far my favorite writing tool, and I use it virtually every day. Since I can use it on my phone, Chromebook, and Android tablet, it’s incredibly convenient. It also has a nice layout and multiple different ways for me to adjust the text size, color, etc. to my liking. I also like that the background in the “print layout” view is a pale grey, which is easy on my eyes. Basically, it’s my ideal writing tool and I use it whenever I can, and I’m glad it came to my attention when it did. (I have years of writing stored on my Google Drive!)

Unless told to do otherwise, I write anything and everything in here, from paragraph-long responses to, on one occasion, a 150-page NaNoWriMo project. The infinite space that Google Docs allows makes its uses limitless. It’s so much easier to write on here than anywhere else because I can go back and edit what I need to edit by scrolling or using ctrl + f on any device. I could do this on Microsoft Word as well, but not from my phone!

After composing in here, I copy everything, paste it into WordPress (or, for my personal blogs, Blogspot), and add images and links as I see fit before publication. I only really use Drive for drafting purposes if something is going to be published online.

When I watched the Draftback of my blog post, I was surprised that it had as many revisions as it did (though most of those were individual keystrokes). I learned that I often add a lot of information in the beginning of a post that I cut before publishing, and that I make a lot of revisions while I’m still typing (changing word choices, correcting typos, etc.) I’m a linear writer, but I often jump around to fix things while I’m working.

Aside from being one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed, the Draftback of my blog post draft showed me a lot of things about my writing process that I otherwise never would’ve thought about. I might set these up for some of my longer writing assignments and personal projects, now that I think about it…

Watch it here!

http://draftback.com/embed/cce3c940c31ef4e8523553753c69d5ab?autoplay=true

Kim’s Reflections on Google Docs and Draftback

Blog Post #2 – WeNeedDiverseBooks and Its Associated Websites

A great deal of the material in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag consists of linking to other sites, books, and so on. Fortunately, my extensive involvement in YA literature communities gave me some familiarity with these websites before the project began; I’ve been following We Need Diverse Books’ website on my Tumblr page since December, and followed Disability in Kidlit’s Tumblr page for several months before that for specific diversity-related reasons.

While working on this blog post, I decided to look around at some of the other sites that I knew less about. This took me to the website Gay YA, which is dedicated to the discussion of YA literature involving LGBTQIA+ characters.

Gay YA’s site contains book reviews, posts about LGBTQIA+ related issues in literature, and guest blog posts from writers. The majority of books reviewed have gay and lesbian content at the center (which can mainly be attributed to there not being much YA literature about the other letters). They’ve been running since 2011, but went on hiatus in 2012 and only began updating frequently last year. While I was browsing, I noticed they had a review of a book I picked up at the library earlier in the day, and I was delighted to see that they fully recommended it.

Fun fact: If you want to read books about characters who have diverse sexual identities, Julie Anne Peters is a great author.
Fun fact: If you want to read books about characters who have diverse sexual identities, Julie Anne Peters is a great author.

Another site I didn’t know much about before was Tu Books. Tu Books is an imprint of Lee and Low books that focus specifically on publishing books for young readers that are diverse in every sense of the word. (Their official Twitter account began following me at the start of my hashtag study.) I decided to take a screenshot of their page, which contains a mission statement that really brings home the importance of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement.

How cool is that, huh? (I may have preordered some of these books after reading this...)
How cool is that, huh? (I may have preordered some of these books after reading this…)

How cool is that? (I may or may not have pre-ordered some of their titles after reading that…)

After looking at some of these sites, I learned a few things. Primarily, I learned that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks community is, indeed, very diverse. Its members are of all different races, sexualities, disabilities, and more. However, one thing I noticed is that though they all want diverse books, there’s still not much discussion of intersectional diversity.

Since I’ve used this term often, let me explain: A book dealing with intersectional diversity would involve a character who is a member of two or more groups who would be considered “diverse.” (A book with a character who is black and dealing with depression would be intersectionally diverse.) Each site seems to be discussing books about one specific kind of diversity, and they don’t often interact with one another.

There’s probably a good reason for this. This post by Malinda Lo illustrates the problems some reviewers have with books that are diverse. In the third section of the post, she describes the problems that books containing intersectional diversity face in the hands of reviewers. Since they’re more likely to be reviewed in a lukewarm manner, publishers tend to shy away from books with more than one sort of “difference” involved… so there’s not as much to talk about.

I’m a little disappointed by this. There’s so much conversation that could be happening! I guess it’s time for the industry to change…

Blog Post #2 – WeNeedDiverseBooks and Its Associated Websites