Today we will be busy setting up WordPress, talking about emotional+sharable content, and practicing Caulfield’s first move by finding previous facts-checks and Wikipedia notes.
As some of you remember from Intro to Writing Arts, WordPress is a popular blogging platform, also known as a content management system (CMS); depending on who you ask, it is the software that is responsible for supporting 20-30% of all websites. In WRT you will compose several fact-checks using WordPress. Here are some examples from previous semesters: [Actual Facts] [amandaswrt17] [domenicawrt]
- Go to WordPress.com. (Note: if you already use WordPress, you can log in and add a site.)
- If you’re making a new site, don’t worry about any of the screens until you get to one that asks you to create a URL (coolname.wordpress.com). ***STOP*** Before you decide on one and cause irreversible harm, hear my rant about this.
- Copy and paste it next to your name in this spreadsheet. Note: your URL does NOT start with wordpress.com; it starts with your blog name (i.e. coolname.wordpress.com). Adding your URL to the spreadsheet allows me, and others in the class, to find your blog easily.
- Decide on a theme and customizations, which control most of the options for the overall design of your site.
- Design content — site pages v blog posts.
- Creating a custom banner
- Add a new site page and create an About Me page (see “How to Write a Perfect About Me Page With Examples” for help)
- Format text
- Add links
- Add images, gifs, and video
*I’ll begin to show you how to build your own site in class today. However, one of the consistently great resources you can use this semester is LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), a high-quality, video-based tutorial site that Rowan pays a hefty fee to subscribe to. The fact that you can have a free account to LinkedIn Learning is a real perk of being a college student here. To use it, login with at LinkedIn Learning using your Rowan email. Once you’re in, you can search for different videos, courses, and other content. If you are new to WordPress, or want a refresher, I suggest using the “WordPress.com Essential Training” course.
Check your emotions.
Before we get too far into this unit, it’s important that we discuss this piece of advice from Mike Caulfield in Chapter 3:
“When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a “fact” with others, STOP. Above all, it’s these things that you must fact-check.”
What does Caulfield mean by this? How does it work in practice?
Looking for Previous Work: Fact-checking sites
Of Caulfield’s four fact-checking moves, his first is to see if anyone has already done the work for you. To begin this move efficiently he shares a handy way to site search on DuckDuckGo. This method essentially uses specific search language to crawl multiple fact-checking sites at once to see if there’s anything relevant on the issue (you can search specific sites with Google, but only one site at a time). For example, here’s a site search for information that discusses Donald Trump and the impact of Hurricane Dorian on Alabama. As you might know from reading the news, the president Tweeted that the storm could be devastating to Alabama, which turned out to be false:
Looking for Previous Work: Using Wikipedia
Wikipedia: Included in Caulfield’s first move of looking for previous work is checking in with Wikipedia. Why? How do we use Wikipedia? Let’s look at an example with Hurricane Dorian.
Activity: Looking for Previous Work with Political Memes
Activity: In this folder I have collected screenshots from several memes that a relative of mine shared on Facebook in the last year. Once I assign you a number, take a few minutes to use both of Caulfield’s methods in the first move — (1) look to previous fact-checking sites using DuckDuckGo and (2) use the notes in Wikipedia — to see who has already researched the supposed facts within your assigned meme. Talk with your group and compose a pretend FB comment for this person — let’s call him Jim — that includes facts and links to sources.
- How many supposed “statements of fact” did you research?
- What did you learn? How confident are you in what you learned? Where did this info come from?
- What would you still research if given more time? Where might you look?
Homework for next class:
- Finish and publish your “About Me” page in WordPress. You can look to mine as one model and read about other approaches and tips from “How to Write a Perfect About Me Page With Examples” (note: this is an opportunity for me and others to get to know you better).
- Draft Fact-check #1 (500-700 words) in your WRT Google Drive folder. To do this you’ll find a political meme on social media like the examples we looked at today (or use one of them). As you approach this post, you should (1) Summarize the context or situation by helping readers understand it. (Think: Why was this meme produced and shared? What’s happening in the world? (2) Make explicit the sources you found and your research process. Tell readers not only which previous fact-checking sites, Wikipedia entries you accessed, but how you found them using specific search terms. (3) Make the facts clear — that is how your choices in (2) led you to a consensus among trustworthy people in the know. (4) Finally, consider links and media that you might embed in your WP post site (images, video, etc.). Discuss: How might these help readers understand your sources or strategies?
- Read about Move 2: Going Upstream (Caulfield, Chapters 7-11.)