To sum up what I did this semester, I thought with my stomach when I came up with this project. I found that there were many different restaurants opening, reopening, or just not getting enough publicity in Bemidji for me to know anything about. I was curious about all the different restaurants in Bemidji and the classic technique of Googling information when in-lack-of failed. What I had understood from that Weblogs and Wikis Course was that blog pages and wiki pages were put in place to spread knowledge and to allow viewers to have some input, more so on the wikis then the blogs; so I aimed to fill where there was a lot of information.
My plan was to break down each week into a select category of food: Coffee’s, Hot Wings, Pastas, Burgers, and Desserts. I also aimed to eat at three different restaurants over the week and give a critique of the service I received, the presentation of the food, how delicious (or not delicious) the food was, and then the overall atmosphere of the restaurant. This gave me lots of different variations throughout the week and throughout the term of the five weeks. My aim was to network my blog to their websites to help build awareness of the restaurants and also linked to articles from the Bemidji Pioneer that informed about recent events at the restaurant/recent openings/management change/etc.
Why a blog?
Coming into the class I already knew that I was not going to appreciate all that a wiki has to offer to the world wide web. It was just a different format that I would need to take some more courses on to truly appreciate it’s value. While it is a simple information sharing tool there are a lot of other little formatting techniques that I would want to explore. That is why I chose a blog. I liked the format better, it was easier for me to upload pictures and I uploaded a decent amount of pictures for each of my blog posts. In my project proposal I also justified my choice in blog vs. wiki by stating that my project was not necessarily aiming to bring in a community critique of the restaurants but more of my own person experience that stirred conversation. I figured if I had left it as an open wiki there would be no place for people to edit what I said, simply because they were not there, or that the “wiki trolls” would come in and change my whole experience. Or in the goodness of people, they would just come to my page and comment on it; but I left the odds in my favor and stuck solely to the idea of the blog.
I would definitely say that this was an experience. I learned more about the blogging community and I have to be thankful for using WordPress because I found out late in the semester that one of my other classes were also using the WordPress site and I had a head-start on how to operate the site.
In my project proposal I had sketched out a schedule for how I’d be posting, but that fell through almost instantly. I had aimed to be very ambitious and dedicated by eating at a restaurant Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and then filling in the empty days with my posts. It did not work that way. Life definitely got in the way and the preparation for posting my blog took longer then the few hours I spared for this class. What ended up happening was I’d go to each of the restaurants during the week day, find all my links after I attended each restaurant and then worked on writing the rest of the time. Many of my posts were clustered together within hours on Sunday and Monday along with my weekly reflection post. I was relieved to hear at our one class meeting that I was not the only one falling off track on their schedule, but I can say that I ended up establishing a different schedule and sticking pretty close to that.
I learned a lot as I went especially in how I tagged my posts. I wrote about this in one of my Weekly Reflections, because my process started to fall on writing the text on my phone (because earlier this year my lovely daughter decided to push my laptop down and break the screen) and then getting on my broken laptop inserting my links and pictures (because I was smart and attached it to my desk top monitor), and then adding my tags. The struggle with this is that my phone couldn’t find a nice little WordPress app to make my life bearable, so instead I had to use the desktop version of the site and there were definitely complications. It would only allow me to continually work through my post and if I wanted to jump to part of my text three lines up that held a spelling error I needed to save my post, open it again then change just that word, save it, open it again, and then continue to write. It was definitely a process, but I found out how to write in different atmospheres. Point being, I would end up publishing some of my posts without everything included and they would (because I’m a procrastinator) would sit there for a day and accumulate no attention, but the moment I inserted my links and tags there were many different bloggers that came to view my posts, liked my post and on rare occasion commented on them.
Another thing that I learned to deal with throughout this project was how to deal with money. I don’t know what I was thinking when I proposed this, but apparently I was feeling rich that day. I didn’t even comprehend the idea of money, so some of my weeks had only three posts and the weekly reflection while some had the proposed four posts and the weekly reflection. I tried not to beat myself up to much, but I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to make every single restaurant that I had anticipated on making it too. Which made me realize that I actually found a slight passion to sharing my experience at these restaurants. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up because I had dreaded updating my wiki and all the little pages that I tried to make, but after finding something that was enjoyable and I felt I knew a little about it came easier.
One of the things that I found were troublesome for me, was that many of the different restaurants that I went to didn’t have their own website. So, I found myself linking to a lot of Facebook or Twitter pages. There was even a website for one of the restaurants that wasn’t even complete or accurate. During the tours week, it was suggested that I link to their menus so that there was more information about what there was to eat in case you wanted something different than what I tried. I thought that this was a great idea, the only problem was the fact that there were only Facebook and Twitter pages which didn’t allow me too. When the restaurant did have an actual website I did like somewhere in my post to their menu page.
Blogging in the Future?
The future of my blogging looks semi-lit. I would definitely like to continue my project, but I know that if I did continue it… it would not be nearly as tedious as the semester. I would probably only have one post a week, because honestly this is the most I’ve eaten out ever. I would also like to say that I would want to learn more about wikis, but that is a lie. I still don’t find them interesting and I don’t like to use them and I’m just not all that into the formatting. The idea that we read about, that people feel that by having an open wiki and allowing people to come and change things, that they feel they’re only going to mess up what they did- that I would like to know more about. I would like to come to that understanding and not be so controlling, because I can say that I fall under that category. I should try to contribute to a wiki page that I know about and see how it goes.