Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

UNL Water Fountains Final Portfolio

Commons Campaign Final Portfolio
Group Water Fountain: Brady Caverzagie, Zach McClintock, Jake Kingsley, Bryce Byman

1.Commons Campaign Proposal
Group Members: Brady Caverzagie, Zach McClintock, Bryce Byman, Jacob Kingsley
Exigence: There is a vast number of water fountains on campus and the quality of these water fountains are on both ends of the spectrum - from perfect to absolutely horrific.
Rhetorical Audience: The audience will consist of all students that spend time on UNL City Campus. Staff members can also be mediators of change in this case as well.
Constraints: 1. There are a TON of water fountains on campus.
2. There are many factors that make water fountains good/bad.
Affordances: 1. The testing resources are easily attained which will help the project go    
2. The water fountains are very accessible and will allow for grading to be the
   main focus.
3. Having four members to cover ground will make the grading process faster.
-We plan on testing the water fountains of two different categories of buildings on City Campus based on a prepared grading system. The two categories are the Residence Halls and other buildings on campus. The other buildings include: lecture halls, the library, the union, and the rec center.
-Residence Halls to be tested: Harper, Schramm, Smith, Village, Abel, Sandoz, Knoll, East-side Suites, University Suites, Neihardt, Cather, Pound, and Selleck.
-Other buildings to be tested: CBA, Beadle Center, Morrill Hall, Avery, Hamilton, Burnett, Teacher’s College, Henzlik, Brace Lab, Westbrook Music Building, Othmer, Nebraska Hall, Union, Love Library, Rec Center, Architecture Hall
-Goal: To test ten water fountains per building spread throughout the structure.
-Materials: cups, four thermometers, camera (iPhone), water bottles, distance measuring tool
-Grading Criteria: Five Star Water Fountain Rating
  1. Temperature: Temperature will be based on a set temperature range with the coldest being a five.
  2. Stream Quality (for drinking): The grading will consist of Height, Strength, Number of Streams, and whether the fountain splashes or not.
  3. Height of Fountain from Ground: The height of the fountain, whether a person would have to bend way down or whether it is at a comfortable drinking level, will be one criteria.
  4. Modernness/Cleanliness: The grading will consist of seeing how clean the fountain is, whether it looks new, and whether there is any mold.
  5. Ease of Water Bottle Filling: The ease to fill a water bottle will affect the grading. A separate water bottle specific filler will be a five.
Approach: The project is not creative in the way that an art project is creative, the project just doesn’t lend itself to that type of creativity. The creativity of the project comes from the interesting grading criteria and from the project being presented as a competition between fountains, halls, and buildings. An added creative touch for the audience will be pictures of the water fountains, so the audience can see exactly what was considered a five, a four, and so on. The project will be organized for ease of access for the audience. The most general information on building averages and best/ worst building will be the first and most accessible information on the blog and any other place the information is placed. For the more interested students, faculty, and hopefully the maintenance crew, the rest of the information about specific fountains and pictures of those fountains will be available. This is a fitting response to our exigence, as it will raise awareness for the situation and, hopefully, influence change.
Memorability and Style: The project will be memorable for multiple reasons; people like competitions, people are generally very picky about what they put into their bodies, and the hopeful effects of the project will can be seen for years. The project will be presented as a competition, in which people have the opportunity to be involved.Also, any project that has to do with something people ingest will always get a good amount of attention. Lastly, a hope for the project is that the maintenance crew will do something about the terrible fountains, which will be remembered in the fact that the fountains will not be quite as terrible any more.
The style of the project will be very clean and crisp. There will not be a huge amount of frills associated with the project, but all information will be accessible and easy to sort through.
Method of Delivery: We plan on making a blog with all our compiled results on an Excel spreadsheet and/or graph as the posts. In addition to that, we plan on having an alphabetized list of all the buildings with links to a google doc with all the water fountains documented with location as well as their rating within each specific building. This link list will eliminate clutter on the main blog page and make it appear more attractive for users. To spread the word not only about our results but our blog page, we intend to make flyers to hang up around campus to raise awareness on where to go to fill up your bottle and get a drink and where to avoid at all costs. The word and links to the information will be given to the UNL maintenance crew to see if they will fix the worst fountains.
Timeline: Our goal is to have the grading done by November so that we can begin compiling the results as well as spreading the word ASAP.  This is also good so that we are not pushed for time as the semester comes to a close.
Division of Labor: As of now Zach and Brady will cover the testing of the Residence Halls and Jacob and Bryce will take the other buildings.  Other than that we will have to see.  Brady will most likely design the blog, since he has the most experience with blogger. The rest of the group will also have input into the blog as well. Everyone will have to take a few of the google docs for the different halls in order to get that done.  We plan on meeting on an as needed basis to accomplish this project. We will meet in pairs to get the data collected and will meet a few times as the entire group to compile the data and upload it to our different methods of delivery.

  1. Explanation of What We Did
Research: Our group went around to a majority of the buildings on campus in order to research the quality of water fountains based on certain characteristics.  We tested up to ten water fountains on campus based on the following five categories: water temp., stream quality, ease of water bottle filling, height of the fountain, and overall fountain quality in terms of modernness and cleanliness.  
Analysis: We took our compiled data and entered it into an excel spreadsheet.  From this data we created top 3,5, and 10 lists for different categories such as best/worst lists for water fountains, dorm buildings, lecture halls, and buildings overall.  We also created average stats for the five categories.
Media Outlet: To get our data out into the world we created a blog.  This blog was organized in a specific way so as not to overload the viewer.  We put links to various google docs on the right hand side of the blog to streamline the process and clean up the blog.  The google docs contain the ratings of each water fountain we rated in addition to a picture of the fountain and its location.  The main posts on the blog are the different top lists as well as other pertinent information to the blog and our project.  There is also a link to a map of campus so that anyone whether they are a student or a visitor, they can find the location of any water fountain on our blog.
-In addition to the blog, we created a line of posters and flyers that you may have seen around campus.  These posters can be found at the top ten and worst ten water fountains around campus and in other highly trafficked locations around campus such as the union and the library.  All of these flyers have the link to our blog posted on them to entice people to visit our sight and increase awareness.
  1. Evidence of What We Did
Here is the email that Zach sent to the Daily Nebraskan. A message was also sent to the maintenance staff and to ASUN.
Dear Daily Nebraskan,
     I am a part of a group of students from a communications class at UNL. We were given a class project to do something that would improve the commons of UNL or Lincoln as a whole. Commons is defined by Google as "land or resources belonging to or affecting the whole of a community." Our group thought of ideas that would fall under this category and that we would actually be able to affect. We quickly came up with the idea of the water fountains around campus. Water fountains that look inviting for students, faculty, and visitors to drink from is very important. Students, faculty, and visitors making sure that they drink throughout their days on campus makes sure that they do not become dehydrated and helps keep them healthier.
     Some of the fountains are of high quality, while others are severely lacking. As a group, we traveled around campus and rated water fountains from most of the major residence halls, academic halls, and The Union. We set up a five star grading criteria for five different categories for each fountain. All of the data that was collected was processed and compiled to give a list of all the buildings and individual water fountains. More information and all of the compiled data can be found at the project's blog. We were hoping that the maintenance staff of UNL campus would be able to help improve some of the lowest rated fountains. Some of the fountains need some serious work for them to be easy or desirable to drink from. We wanted to thank you in advance for all of the help you can give.
      We know that your organization is highly publicized and read, so we were hoping that our blog link and goals could be mentioned in an article from you. The higher the publicity and the more people that see the blog will help put pressure on the maintenance staff to actually work on the fountains that need help. Thank you for your help.
     Sincerely, The Water Fountain Organization
We have finally hit the 2000 pageview milestone and counting!!!
  1. Reflection on How the Project Went
Overall the project went fairly smoothly.  I think we would change the fact that we took so long to get all of our research done.  We didn’t have as much time to get our info out before the semester end as I would have liked.  I’m sure the posters won’t stay up forever and many of them have probably been taken down already.  It would have been nice to have more time to come up with other ideas to spread the word about our research, blog, and results.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Roast of the Sophists

A long time ago
In 450 BC
There live a man named Plato
and the Sophists, you see

Now Plato was a hater
of the selfish Sophists
who didn’t preach for the greater
and forced an arete with schists

So on a day full of sun
Plato proclaimed
“My ideas have won!”
to which the Sophists maintained:

“Meet us at the agora!”
“We’ll have a battle of wits!”
“of which we have a plethora,
and virtue that acquits!”

The battle began at the agora that day
and so Plato stood tall and asked,
“Who first wants to play?”
And Prodicus emerged from the crowd, rather fast.

“I am the basis for this fortunate group!”
Truth can be found with only absolute truth!
we own our fate, this is no dupe
now go away, you incompetent sleuth”

Plato, not even a little bit miffed,
asked “how do we know what’s absolute?!
your whole theory has a big massive rift
for your muddled ideas render it moot.”

“Go away Prodicus, I’ve become bored
no, really, I literally almost snored”
And so Prodicus left the agora in disgrace,
tears streaming from his eyes, right down his face

Cue Gorgias the Great
(or so he believes)
He walked forth to his fate
albeit a little naive

“Gorgias, you fiend!”
cried Plato, ready for debate
“your speeches need to be cleaned
or else, who can negate?”

“But I understand what I write!”
Gorgias yelled out,
“Yes but the people think you uptight!”
Plato snorted, right out his snout.

“Your language is too elaborate,
sometimes moreso than an expert!
You take a word like ‘cabinet’
And turn it to ‘a lumberous girt!’”

“You treat yourself as a king,
but your ideas don’t understand their end
you’re merely a fling
now be gone and descend.”
“Oh I’ve saved one of the best for last!
exclaimed good Plato, excited
“Don’t you think for one second you’ve passed!
for I will take on you Sophists, united.”

Plato began: O’ Protagoras you Sophist teacher for hire,
your agnostic ideals have put your works up in fire
If there are no deities, then how may you ask
that I may stand here and take you to task?

Protagoras did not cower from Platos stings,
he dug in and returned his own quips
“Man is the measure of all of these things,
The fate of our persons is at our own lips.

For each man determines what’s truth and what’s lie.
There can be no divine intention that rains down from the sky
Although my people have banished me to exile
I remain steadfast with my ideas, like a ravenous reptile

Away from the agora, in a small little huddle
The Sophists convened, all in a fuddle
They murmured :“Oh Plato, the fool,
he’ll never realize that we’re actually cool.”

Taylor, C.C.W. and Lee, Mi-Kyoung, "The Sophists", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

The STEM Guys Portfolio

Christopher, Kurt, Nate, and Nolan

Commons Campaign Proposal

As STEM majors, we hear with striking regularity that there is a shortage of people willing to go into our fields. This is our exigence. The work done in the STEM field is important to society; infrastructure, medicine, energy production, the economy, food production, defense, and nearly everything else rests on the shoulders of scientists, engineers, the technology they produce, and the mathematicians behind their work. Humanity needs more people in the STEM field, and the sooner the workload can be matched by the workforce, the better.

We need to convince more people to go into STEM fields. Our target audience is the youth. Adults have generally decided where to go with their lives, whereas children often have yet to discover their passions. Children are also in a better position to receive the education necessary to enter a STEM field. Thus, their minds are both open to suggestion and more receptive to our rhetoric. The issue, however, is that there is a stigma against being a “nerd.” Regardless of how much science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are taught in the classroom, STEM still remains stagnant under the stereotype of being overwhelmingly boring. Students will continue to think that these fields are not worth the work unless they are shown how interesting said fields can be. It is our objective to convince the youth, our audience, that STEM careers are interesting and “cool.”

Understanding the exigence and having decided upon the best audience, we can begin to look at the constraints and opportunities afforded to us. The first, perhaps largest, constraint we must cope with is an issue of scale. Our project has to be small enough and short enough to manage in a semester without neglecting our own responsibilities. This audience also poses some difficulty. An argument predicated on the utilitarian significance of past acts like the Green Revolution and the propensity of similar acts occurring in the future would put our young audience to sleep. Our response has to garner the attention of our audience. We have a “burden of proof” to overcome; our target audience is those who do not already agree with us. The presumption that STEM is boring must be overcome if we are to respond to the exigence.

We can achieve our objective despite our constraints. We have access to the communications media (i.e. the internet) that we need to deliver our rhetoric to our audience. The media we plan to use is easily tailored to the short attention spans of our audience; the video format will keep the audience engaged and allow for a better reception of our message. In addition, previous experience has given us material to work with and draw from. We have projects from previous academic courses or childhood hobbies that can lend themselves well as “cool” demonstrations.

Given our constraints and opportunities, it occurs to us that a small youtube series would be a fitting response to the exigence. It won’t be so time consuming or resource-intensive as to prevent us from finishing on time or cause us to fail other courses. Youtube, as a site, is frequented by our audience, making them easy to reach with our message. Generally, videos allow us to be both entertaining and informative, giving us access to the majority of our intended audience, and being feasible under the constraints we have. A Facebook page that houses our series will help attract attention and will create a sense of continuity between the videos. It is also relatively easy for our audience to share our digital creations if we use this format. Thus, our work will reach a larger group of people and be more memorable, best promoting STEM education amongst youth.

Actualizing our project, we will employ the rhetorical canons as guidelines. After analyzing our exigence and sifting through our opportunities and constraints, we find creative and engaging videos to be our most rhetorically inventive method of delivery. Videos enable us to arrange our message in a way that will be memorable to our audience. We will ensure our project is memorable by creating awesome videos and doing awesome stuff. Catchphrases, witty punmanship, epic portmanteaus, oh-so-ubiquitous jump cuts, and much more will all go together to make our youtube series one you can never forget. By delivering the Youtube videos through a Facebook page, we ensure that the project’s results aren’t lost in a sea of noise after the class ends.

We will collaborate on every video, but most responsibilities, such as who will bring what supplies, perform which roles, etc. will have to delegated for individual videos. Certain tasks, such as playing characters and filming, will fall consistently on whomever we find to be the best at it, but others, such as who sets up the props and who handles whatever paperwork may need done, will be delegated as-needed. This will allow direct involvement by all of the group members, while ensuring no single person is forced to complete the project alone.

We intend to produce a new set of videos every two weeks starting today, 10/14. At the latest, the first videos will be posted by 10/28, the second by 11/11, the third by 11/25, and the final videos by 12/9. This leaves us with four days between our intended completion date and the final day of class. Given the amount of time and effort we are going to be putting into this project and the positive response we hope to elicit, we assert that this project deserves a maximum scale of fifty points.


Over the last few months, we have been able to meet the goals we set forth in the proposal. The aforementioned constraints did prove problematic alongside others that we did not and could not have foreseen. It was indeed difficult to find the right size for the videos; we settled upon making each video 1 to 2 minutes in length to alleviated an insurmountable workload while maintaining the amount of content needed to attain our ends. A particularly difficult constraint was illness (mostly Nolan’s). If any given crew member became sick, particularly with a disease that made speaking difficult, filming ground to a halt. With the cold and flu season in full swing this fall, it became a challenge to film when all members of the crew were healthy enough to be presentable. We were also forced into a rather steep video editing learning curve. Collectively, we had little previous experience and no access to software superior to Windows Movie Maker. This editor became a challenge in itself; it could not read the High-Definition video files produced by our camera. We were forced to convert them to a simpler format, one by one, before editing. Once the videos were edited, we sent a sample to the professor per request and posted to YouTube upon approval. We found that filming one video at a time and posting incrementally was actually more difficult than filming, editing, and posting in bulk. Ultimately, we posted two batches of videos: the first encompassed our videos on science, math, and eachs’ respective careers; the second consisted of engineering, technology, and their careers.

Were we to attempt this project again, we would approach the brainstorming phase differently. Over the course of the semester, we used the strategy of generating copia and picking from the best ideas possible. This took much more time than expected, and we did not upload until some time after we originally planned. We ought to have cut the brainstorming short; most of the ideas we kept were generated early one. We would also make an investment in a more intuitive, less obnoxious piece of editing software. This would have improved the editing process, allowing us more interesting edits and cuts as well as expediting the editing sessions from an hour per minute of posted video to much less. Unfortunately, the unforeseen constraints cut into the time needed to market the videos. As well, we should have made a more concrete plan to get the videos out to our audience.

We did make work easier for ourselves by delegating roles in the group. This is an aspect of our work that we would most certainly repeat. Nate and Nolan edited the videos; Kurt was in charge of the group’s “The Stem Guys” Facebook page, and Chris handled and operated all equipment related to shooting. All group members participated in shooting and co-wrote the videos’ scripts. With this cooperation, we were able to meet our goals and create what we believe to be a successful project, despite our foreseen and unforeseen constraints.

Check out this facebook page or this youtube channel to see our final product.

Humans of Lincoln Portfolio

Commons Campaign
Humans of Lincoln
Faith, Danny, Megan, Kelsey, Anjali, Kayla
Commons Campaign Proposal
For our Commons Campaign, the six of us will be imitating the successful promotion “Humans of New York,” bringing a new chapter to Lincoln.

Purpose and Scope
Exigence: Rarely are cities in the Midwest perceived to be very diverse, which is especially true for a town in which almost nine out of every ten people are white. However, like with many college campuses around the country, UNL is a crossroads for a wide array of people from different cities, states, and countries, all of whom have unique stories to tell. Unfortunately, not enough people in Lincoln are aware of all the diversity the city has to offer and have not had the chance to see the many facets of our campus, causing many of us to have a narrow, limited view of the people around us.
Fitting Response: Our response to the exigence at hand will be an effort to increase awareness of the present diversity on campus, create feelings of pride for a campus with so much variety, and instill ideas of unity in our audience through the creation of “Humans of Lincoln.” We’ll do this by interviewing students, faculty, and pedestrians, searching to find what makes every individual unique. In the end, hopefully we’ll be able to show our audience the humanity that exists around us, giving faces and stories to nameless strangers. This, ideally, will help people focus on what makes us different, interesting, and good.
Rhetorical Audience: Since we won’t be straying too far from campus, meaning that most of the people we’ll meet will be students or faculty of the university, the main rhetorical audience will be people affiliated with the school. However, because this campus is in the middle of the city, our audience can extend to any citizen of Lincoln that has access to social media.
Constraints: We’re only freshman, which could potentially cause an issue of ethos – we don’t have the authority or credibility of older, more experienced professionals, which may be a constraint while interviewing people older than us. Time will also be a limitation because we’re a group of six, all of us enrolled as full-time students; this may present issues of time management and matching schedules to work on the project. Also, technology won’t always be available to us – not all of us have professional cameras or recorders to bring with us, so even if we come across a perfect subject for an interview, we may not be able to take advantage of the opportunity. Lastly, because we’ll be asking some personal questions, there may be people that’ll be hesitant or reluctant to share their information.

Affordances: On the bright side, we are on a large campus that has plenty of diversity beneath the surface. Everyone has a story to tell, or something to say, so we shouldn’t be short on potential subjects. Another affordance is that we have access to a variety of social media, and many of us are well-versed in technology and able to navigate these sites. Also, although they may not be available consistently, we still do have broad access to equipment and resources we need to carry out this project, such as cameras, voice recorders, and photo/video editing software.

Rhetorical Canons
            Inventivenes: This is a creative approach to the exigence at hand because instead of merely claiming our campus is diverse, we’ll be proving just how unique our society is while tying in an element of humanity to the situation. By involving various forms of social media, we’ll be reaching out to a wide array of potential audiences – old and young, educated and uneducated, etc. – and use both images and words in an artistic form of marketing.
            Arrangement: We’ll go out in groups of two to three people and interview around four or five people at a time. Whoever is taking the photographs will upload the pictures and the descriptions onto our communal Google Docs account and designate which day each photo will be published (one photo per day). Every member in the group has been assigned to manage some form of social media, and so the person responsible for each website will visit the Google Docs account each day and post the designated photo with its corresponding caption. We’ve agreed to take a minimum of ten photos (with quotes and/or stories) per week so that we can choose the best ones for each day and have a bank of potential photos in case we fall short of our quota later during the project.
            Style: We’re hoping to approach this with a sort of artistic minimalism. Stylistically, we don’t want to overwhelm our audience with flashy photos and long stories; rather, we want to post what an average reader can view and think about at any moment in their day, whether they be on their way to class, standing in the lunch line, or checking their Facebook before they go to bed. We also want the project to seem contemporary and clean, sort of mimicking the style of “Humans of New York.”
            Memorability: Obviously, this isn’t a project that’ll take over the lives and conversations of everyone that participates in or views it. However, this should capture the attention of many students, faculty, and general citizens of Lincoln, making them at least question their preconceived stereotypes of the people around them. We’ll make this project memorable by designing something that is digestible for virtually everyone, hopefully spotlighting intense, unique stories that’ll work their ways into the minds of our audience. We don’t need to be flashy to be memorable. We just need remarkable stories and photos and a way of effectively transmitting them to our viewers.
            Delivery: We’ll be posting photos and their corresponding texts to a variety of social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. At the end of the project, we will make a behind-the-scenes video to post to YouTube that’ll hopefully expand the scope of our audience.

            Our first week will begin on Monday, October 13th. Every Sunday we will have a minimum of ten extra photos in our bank of possible posts. Each day, we will collectively post one photo on our three targeted forms of social media. Our last day of taking photos will be Tuesday, November 25th, as that is the last day before Thanksgiving break. Ideally, we’ll have enough reserved photos and quotes to continue to post through finals week. Breaks will not cut into our quota of 10 pictures a week, so by our final week, we should have over 60 to 70 photos.
Interviewing information:
            As of right now, we’ve resolved that ten photos need to be taken a week for the group as a whole. Groups of two to three should go out at each other’s convenience. If we begin to have trouble meeting quotas, we may adjust assignments so that people belong to specific groups and/or each member is in charge of a certain number of photos to assure that our goals will be met.

Project Summary

For our commons campaign, we imitated the successful promotion of “Humans of New York,” bringing a new chapter to Nebraska and calling it “Humans of Lincoln.” Similar to “Humans of New York,” we took pictures of different people around our campus and our city and asked them a few questions to capture their essence. Some of the questions we asked dealt with what their biggest goal was, what they consider to be their happiest moment, what would be their best piece of advice for others, and how they began working. We purposefully would ask broad questions so that the people we interviewed were able to interpret our questions in their own way. If we believed there was more to say, we’d ask more specific questions so that they could expand on their answer. We started “Humans of Lincoln” to connect the many people around the campus of UNL and in Lincoln, as well as to demonstrate the uniqueness of everyone living here. We were able to interview over 40 Lincolnites in the past two months and share their stories on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.


Below are some screenshots of posts of our Facebook page.
Below are screenshots of our Facebook page’s statistics.

Here are the links to the three forms of social media that we used.


Our overall progress on this project was successful in many aspects. Our Facebook page was liked by a total of 351 people; our most popular post reached 2670 people, meaning that despite our lack of promotion – we’d have to pay Facebook or our other pages to promote our pages – we still managed to reach a significant amount of people. Our Facebook page had over 40 postings, which was a good amount considering the two months that we have been working on the pictures. While interviewing the Lincolnites, we managed to connect with a large variety of people. Most of the people we approached were eager and gave us fascinating quotes that helped our page promote a sense of community. Our group tried to ask thought-provoking questions with the intention of successfully emulating Humans of New York, which we do believe happened.

However, despite our success, there were many things that we could have done better. For instance, it may have been in our best interest to make a more concrete schedule for obtaining quotes pictures, because we rarely had a safe supply. If we would’ve done that, we wouldn’t have been so pressed for time, since we would’ve had back-up photos. For example, when we had weekends off (or large breaks, such as Thanksgiving) over which we didn’t post or take pictures, we began to lag behind in our posts. Another thing that we could have done differently would have been to go out and interview people at a greater variety of places. The places at which we were able to find the most people willing to speak with us was the Student Union. While we did visit other places, we took too many at the Student Union; it would have been nice to have pictures from more around campus, or around Lincoln in general, such as outside Memorial Stadium on game day. Promotion was another issue. Our group reached out to people we knew and asked them to like our page; however, we could have done a more adamant job of promoting Humans of Lincoln by setting out flyers or reaching out to the local newspaper. Also, while most of the participants were eager, some of the interviews were a bit awkward, and at times, we were not sure which questions to ask to get the most interesting quotes.

Nevertheless, we found the project to be a success, and we are pleased with the overall results of Humans of Lincoln.