Daniel Dalonzo, Founder of moxieTODAY
10th Annual New Jersey Writing Alliance Conference
Roundtable Discussion, May 25, 2010
What does it mean to write in the Age of Multimedia?
A year after their involvement in a two‐week immersive course in multi‐media composition, four instructors reflect on the challenges and the opportunities that arise when one begins to think, teach, and write using images, sound, resources drawn from YouTube and iTunesU, podcasts, and vodcasts, as well as print.
It’s important to remember that video is not meant to replace text. The ability to incorporate engaging multimedia within presentations, articles, essays, and resumes is a relatively new idea. I have developed an online resume which allows me to broadcast myself to the world instantly, which makes me more accessible and connected. This has the potential for privacy concerns, so be aware of the information you’re making public. I recommend you develop an online portfolio for yourself as well. This presentation can be found on both my websites, moxieTODAY.com and danieldalonzo.com. Being that this roundtable is about “what it means to write in the age of multimedia”, I thought it would be most instructive if I designed my presentation as an example of how I compose meaningfully in the WEB 2.0 ERA.
At the end of the two week immersive I was referred to a New Brunswick community activist organization by one of the Plangere Culture Lab mentors. I immediately got involved. Watching these resilient students and community members come together and fight for democracy inspired me to use the tools I learned in “Writing as a Naturalist”. I thought about what I could do to get involved with the community. Then I came up with the idea of starting a blog named moxieTODAY. The blog quickly turned into an online newspaper where students, organizations, businesses, and residents post meaningful content about New Brunswick arts, government, culture, sports, and entertainment. I hoped by providing interactive information in a common space that it would establish cohesion among the readers. I did not know how to create or maintain a website, so I searched Google for instruction and had my site up within a few weeks.
Through investigating the City of New Brunswick for the class, I found out there was a lack of information regarding the city government, how it functioned, and how to get involved with the community. I made several attempts to get interviews with the mayor, city council members, and city employees for information about the city. I got a call from the city’s public information officer informing me the elected officials were instructed by the mayor to not give me interviews. Needless to say this was problematic for the quality of my work. It was difficult to study the dynamics of the campaign when only one side was giving me information. The secrecy I sensed from the city propelled my work.
I began filming every City Council meeting to try and hold the elected officials accountable.
Now I understood why the city was not giving me interviews. I was attempting to bring transparency to the city government. At one meeting, a concerned resident asked the council if the city could begin using both spanish and english text on the information they hand out. The response about voting rights speaks for itself.
After understanding the dynamics of the city government, I realized I was going to have to change my approach. I had police cars shining their spotlights in my windows late at night, nobody who worked for the city would speak to me, and there were anonymous harassing comments on moxieTODAY ridiculing the website for not being a real newspaper. That’s when I decided to change the name of moxieTODAY “the newspaper”, to moxieTODAY “your community network”. Changing the name signified our growth into a new phase of the project. I was narrowing in on exactly what the function of the site was.
Through networking with community members I began to see the art scene in New Brunswick was struggling. I watched many artists move to Jersey City and New York City to find a place where they could survive while cultivating their creativity. I wanted New Brunswick to be a place where the arts could flourish. So I began organizing and documenting the art scene. I became an organizer in a group named HUB CITY REVIVAL. The group hosts events in the tri-state area and is based out of New Brunswick. In April we had a public screening of a 45 minute documentary I produced for the group, we hope to market the DVD this summer.
moxieTODAY was evolving and I had to take on more people to assist in the development. To over come this obstacle I hired 9 interns for the spring semester who all received 3 credits towards graduation from the Rutgers Writing Program. We had weekly collaborative meetings at the Plangere Writing Center and communicated through Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Gmail.
Moxie wouldn’t have grown to what it is now without the interns, but I soon realized not all interns are reliable. Five of the nine interns worked hard, always completing their assignments, the other four were interested but didn’t put much time into the project.
On a positive note, during the heart of the semester we were getting up to 500 hits/day on the site. We then decided to run our first advertising campaign. We charged businesses $35 for the semester in exchange for advertising space on the website. We also composed promotional articles about the businesses, and we put their logo on our new t-shirt. With the help of the interns we were able to sign 13 businesses. Establishing relationships with business owners has been vital to our progress.
Unfortunately, I did not know how to get involved with my community until the end of my college career. Since then I have dedicated my time to building community relations between the town and the gown by cultivating my own creativity and innovation.
It is common for students to not know what’s going on in the community their university resides, and the residents of the town don’t usually feel welcome at the university. I knew I had to create something that bridged the gap between student and community.
The process of working hard and not recognizing my progress has been discouraging. However, through the process of preparing for this presentation I am beginning to realize my growth as a human and the growth of the business. moxieTODAY is a place where everyone brings what they are passionate about. It does not compete for any market or replicate any other entity. It is an ambassador of meaningful hyper local content. moxieTODAY is a certified corporation registered with the IRS who can have up to 100 shareholders of stock. The business has been incubating the last 10 months in the Plangere Culture Lab and now may be ready to take on partners. We hope to have our first board of directors signed by the end of this summer. Investors? Could be you!