For my MAP project, I chose to focus on advocating for agriculture. Many people understand the importance of agriculture, but it is something that is always in the back of their mind. Most people do not consider on a daily basis how integral the industry is in everyone’s lives. There are many issues that plague the industry and those that live in the lifestyle.
I am a part of this culture and I have lived the lifestyle. I was born in a small town in the Arkansas Delta region, I grew up on a farm, and my closest uncle was a farmer for most of my young life. I grew up feeding cows, and riding them, as well as driving tractors and caring for new calves. I have seen how hard it is to be a farmer, but I have also seen how much fun the lifestyle is. Looking back on my college career so far, if I could go back a change my decision on what to study, I am pretty sure I would choose agriculture and carry on a noble profession doing work that literally, feeds the world.
I chose to do a webpage because of my lack of technological expertise. I also did not have the time or knowledge to work with videos building software that I may have at my disposal. I also thought a more laid out style of information would fit my goals for the project better as well. I chose WordPress as the medium for my MAP because of the experience I have with it from my blog assignment. It has become an easy platform to manipulate and design based on my experience level. There were a few times when I really had to push the boundaries of what I knew, and my skills with finding things out, to get my MAP the way I wanted it, but I eventually got it almost perfect for my vision.
I tried to be as meticulous as possible with the design choices I made, from theme to color, to images, to placement of every feature. When I began working on my project, I wanted to find an image that really fit how I saw this project, and the fundamental vision I wanted to portray of agriculture. I found the image I use as the featured image on every page. It looks as if the corn and wheat fields side by side are almost a yin yang, and the light shining over the trees gives an ethereal feel to the image. This hints at the peacefulness, opportunity, and connection to nature that is essential in agriculture and farming.
I wanted to choose the image first, to have the best and most collaborative color choices. I chose the color scheme because of its unintrusiveness, but logical ties to nature (green and blue). I chose the fonts because I wanted two that complemented each other, but were a mix of serif and sans serif which follows the design guidelines from Business Communications.
I chose the information I did based on its appropriateness in informing readers of what agriculture does and is, the issues that burden people in the industry, and groups that provide support for the industry and the people who work in it. On the home page, I wanted a personal call to action to put my own views into effect on calling people’s attention to the issue. The video on the front page is one very close to my heart and makes a clear argument for the importance of farmers, so I wanted it front and center.
I obviously wanted an informational page, and a testimonial page. Compiling testimonies was a little difficult, but I finally got some really good, insightful things from people from a variety of places. I also wanted a page to provide more ideas on how much agriculture is featured on the internet, because I feel what is in the digital environment automatically has importance to the current generations.
My choice of agriculture as the group to focus on based on my personal experiences and the issues I know the industry deals with is what makes it the perfect digital project. In Huffington Post’s book about blogging we read at the beginning of the class says it is the mix of personal and political elements that make blogs so fascinating and important in our society. That is exactly what this project, and this class, is to me: personal, but also political.
Ine terms of how I presented information on agriculture, I unwittingly followed an idea given by Andrew Sullivan in his The Atlantic article “Why I Blog.” The ethos of blog is “collective and messy,” and that’s how my information became compiled. My information matches the blog style outlined in Sullivan’s article pretty closely.
I wanted to incorporate several kinds of information stlyes that match Robin Houghton’s “12 Blog Posts That Work” in my map. On my information page, I combine lists, story, and controversy. Where through the rest of the webpage, I focus on stories and my take. I felt these matched good blogging practices with the information I thought would get the reactions I wanted.
I chose to make my front page as uncluttered and straight forward as possible because of the above/below the fold idea. I wanted something that did not make viewers have to search or put too much effort into navigating the website, like Steve Krug suggests in his article “Don’t Make Me Think.” I wanted a high level of usability.
Lastly, I wanted to utilize the idea of prosumption that we have talked so much about in class. My audience is not very specific, all ages have some knowledge level, even if it is nonexistent, on agriculture. So I wanted to use information that was easy to read and consume, but also give opportunites for readers and viewers to learn unbiasedly and use the information to produce their own ideas and discourse on the subject. I also utilized prosumption in the process of building this project. I consumed the opinions of those I interviewed, and the ideas we learned about in class to then produce the webpage that I have. This, to me, is a large part of what we learned about, and the biggest perspective shift from the class.