Paula Scher on Painting With Words

Paula Scher, designed by Natalie Crum at

Paula Scher, dubbed the “goddess of graphic design,” talks semiotics in a new Netflix original series, Abstract: The Art of Design. Scher defines typography as “painting with words” and weighs in on the power and process of technical communication through linguistic and non-linguistic ‘signs’ (e.g. words, sounds, images, and objects). Hankering for more Paula Scher? Then, navigate over to Netflix to watch this musing documentary exhibiting exquisite design set to foot-tapping-good music with humorous, thought-inspiring commentary from the goddess herself.

There’s an emotional aspect to it,” she says,design needs to take human behavior into account.” Paula Scher: Graphic Design, Netflix

Paula Scher, courtesy of


Chalkley, T., Brown, A., Cinque, T., Warren, B., Hobbs, M., & Finn, M. (2012). Communication, new media, and everyday life. South Melbourne: Oxford.


Health Insurance Marketplace: Creating an account online

You have probably heard talk of the Health Insurance Marketplace, a component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that debuted online in October 2013 designed to control the ever-growing cost of U.S. health insurance policies and improve access to healthcare.

(To understand how the ACA and Marketplace work in theory, please watch this very entertaining and informative YouToons video.)

Since the Marketplace opened, more than 13 million Americans have gained health care coverage. However, millions are still uninsured. If you are currently uninsured and interested in browsing the Marketplace for health insurance, take a moment to watch the video below. This screencast, intended for first-time non-business registrants, demonstrates how to create a account online in order to begin the health insurance application process.

Recommended media:  Next step — Marketplace Application Walkthrough, CMS/Health and Human Services


Kaiser Family Foundation. (2016). Key facts about the uninsured population. Retrieved from

​How to Use an OraQuick HIV Test

Please note — if you believe you have been exposed to HIV within in the last 72 hours, go immediately to your health care provider or an emergency room doctor and request post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). OraQuick does not give accurate results for recent exposures that occur less than 3 months before testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 1 in 8 U.S. Americans with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) don’t know they are infected. You can find out your HIV status from home in 5 easy steps using the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved self-test, OraQuick. The test does not need to be mailed in for results and is, therefore, completely confidential. In as few as 20 minutes, OraQuick can detect HIV infection 3 months after possible exposure to HIV.  Here’s how to obtain your HIV status:

  1. Purchase an OraQuick test kit. Go online or to your local drug store and purchase an OraQuick test kit, which costs approximately $40. You do not need a prescription, but you do need to be at least 17 years of age to purchase.

    OraQuick, courtesy of Cosmopolitan

    Important:  Do not eat, drink, or use oral care products such as toothpaste, whitening strips, or mouthwash before testing. If you have used any of these or similar products, wait at least 30 minutes before using OraQuick. Also, remove dentures, mouth guards, or retainers.

  2. Swab your gums. Using the test stick, swab your upper gums only once on one side of the pad; then, swab your lower gums only once on the opposite side of the pad.

    Swab, courtesy of
  3. Place test stick into test tube. Open the test tube, being careful not to spill any fluid. Place the test stick into the test tube with the test window facing you. Do not remove the test stick once it has been placed into the test solution.

    Test fluid, courtesy of
  4. Read test results. Wait 20-40 minutes (results are unreliable before 20 minutes and after 40 minutes). The C-line should appear, this assures your kit is working properly. If there is no C-line, obtain a new test kit and start again. If a T-line does not appear, the test has not detected antibodies and is negative. If a T-line appears, even a faint line, the test has detected antibodies and is positive.

    Test results, courtesy of
  5. Dispose of OraQuick test kit. Place the used kit into the disposal bag provided and seal it to help protect the privacy of your results. Then, discard the bag into a trash can.

    Garbage can, courtesy of

If your test is negative and exposure occurred less than 3 months from the time of the OraQuick home test, repeat the test at the 3 month mark or shortly after. This is because OraQuick looks for antibodies, and it could take up to 3 months for your body to produce enough antibodies for the test to detect. Therefore, if done too early, the test can result in a false negative. If your test is positive, contact a medical professional as soon as possible to confirm the results using a blood test.

Remember that HIV can be managed with antiretroviral therapy (ART) and proper primary care. The best way to protect your health and the health of your sexual partners is to engage in protected sex, have regular HIV screenings, and talk to your health care provider about reproductive health.

Recommended media:


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Talk testing [image]. Retrieved from
  2. OraQuick. (2017). Taking the test. Retrieved from
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). HIV/AIDS. Retrieved from

How to Stop Procrastinating Your Schoolwork


New media is sometimes given a bad rap in the conversation of procrastination. Video games, Netflix, and social media are often blamed for students’ lack of productivity. Let’s look, however, at the flip side and see how new media and other technologies can be used to avoid procrastination.


Many believe procrastinators to be lazy, but clearly they don’t realize the amount of work that goes into procrastinating. One does not simply loaf on a beanbag doing and thinking about nothing while procrastinating — if only! I once cleaned my apartment top to bottom (baseboards too … they weren’t really dirty, but you don’t want dust bunnies getting the impression it’s OK to just come in and take residence); drove my unlicensed friends all over town; and went back-and-forth for hours with an old classmate on Facebook about keeping quokkas as pets. (By the way, at the time I knew nothing about quokkas, so I had to do tons of on-the-spot research in order to maintain face during this very important virtual debate, which of course zapped my time and mental energy.) Though I convinced myself I was being a good home hygienist, good samaritan, and saving quokkas from domestication, I was only procrastinating — plain and simple. I finally realized … procrastinating is too much work! All the while, time wanes and a feeling of dread and impending doom hangs like an anchor from your conscience. Though procrastination is not necessarily lazy, it is certainly not a good feeling or practice. Here’s a few new habits to get into to avoid the drama of procrastination.

7 ways to avoid procrastination using new media

  1. Talk to your professors. Much of the time procrastination occurs when we over-complicate a task in our minds and become overwhelmed. Talking to the professor helps to get a better understanding of what is expected and what help is available to you. If having a sit-down convo with your professor seems intimidating, send an email or set up a Skype chat.
  2. Pepper boring tasks. If you’re procrastinating due to topic disinterest, make it interesting! It’s part of our job as students to finesse the project to fit our taste or to go about completing, sometimes, boring tasks in a way that steers our attention. For instance, if your eggs are too bland, what do you do? Put pepper on them, of course! (Maybe you’re a cumin kind of egg eater, but you get my drift here.) Spice-up boring tasks to make them more palatable (read #5 to see new media devices that can help).
  3. Plan ahead. The more time you give yourself to do a project the less work you have to do on it each day. Create deadlines for yourself and plug them into a calendar widget on your cell phone or into Google Calendar on your computer; then, set reminders. This ensures that you have plenty of time set aside for your project at the onset.
  4. Most importantly, spread it out. After budgeting adequate time, divide the project into small tasks and spread those tasks out over time. To do this, use a checklist app, such as To Do List by Splend Apps found at the Play Store on your phone. Completing small bits at a time makes the project easier to approach and gives you a sense of achievement that will help drive you forward.
  5. Use your resources. Use new media and its devices to make learning easier and more enjoyable. For example, conduct literary research on your cell phone or tablet at the beach. Incorporate art, such as film and music, into your project when possible to help keep things interesting for you and your audience. Try study apps with flashcards, like Quizlet or AnkiDroid. Watch screencasts, listen to podcasts, or join group chats and forums to facilitate learning. All are designed to make information sharing — and, thus, learning — easier!
  6. Visualize the finish. Let those who have been where you want to go be your muse. Read online articles or blogs and watch vblogs on pros in your field of study and visualize yourself at your own finish line. This gives you a psychological edge over procrastination, as you will be more motivated to achieve. Don’t spend all day and night doing this — because, at that point, you’re just procrastinating again — but do so as time permits or when a bit of motivation is needed.
  7. “If you build it, [it] will come.” There’s no need to run around chasing inspiration or loaf around waiting for it to possess you. Inspiration is most often triggered in the course of action. So, act! For reports, use the instructor’s requirements to structure your project. Start doing your research and moving from outline to draft. Creativity will, then, spur you to incorporate pictures, graphs, and charts using software like Excel, PowerPoint, and Photoshop or web-sharing tools such as YouTube or SoundCloud to improve your message. Voila, a self-inspired product!

Create, don’t procrastinate!

Give yourself a break from the anxiety, frustration, disappointment, tears, and exhausting avoidance tactics. Improve your performance and grades by using some, or all, of the tips listed here. If you want to stop procrastinating and are unfamiliar with some of the tools mentioned in this post, consider a course in New Media and Technical Communications at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee to optimize your overall college experience. See you at commencement! ∎∎∎

Recommended media: Educate yourself on the cuteness of quokkas at National Geographic.


  1. Karakotsya, Olesya . (n.d.). Small steps every day vector quote [stock image]. Retrieved from
  2. Costner, K., Madigan, A., Jones, J. E., Brown, D., Whaley, F., Liotta, R., Lancaster, B., … Universal City Studios. (1999). Field of dreams [Quote]. Universal City, CA: Universal.

Dating the Medium

Eller, D./

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it behooves me to touch on a different sort of connection made possible by new media. Set aside, for a moment, your digital genius and think not to the connection of signals between towers or devices, or to the connecting of messages between statesmen and voters or marketeers and consumers. Think, instead, to the dearest of connections — love connections.

Pardon me as I date myself (pun intended)

On a site dedicated to the subject of dating (e.g.,, or, my love connection may be described using euphemistic devices denoting a sense of datedness similar to descriptors used on this blog to refer to media of an earlier time, for instance “old media” or “traditional media.” On named dating sites, my love connection may be termed ‘old dating’ as a tech-savvy font slinger goes on to distinguish ‘new dating’ as that carried out online and mediated by sophisticated algorithms pairing millions of singles to one another without areal restrictions. And indeed he or she would be right, not only about the immense capabilities of online dating, but also about my love story being comparatively old-school, as I met my husband of 10 years the ‘old-fashioned’ way — on campus at university.

Cybersocial norms and narratives

Today, there are dating apps and websites that cater to those looking to flirt, date, or fall in love. Note the intentional emphasis on ‘or’ in the previous sentence, as flirting and dating are no longer on a linear continuum toward love. Maybe it was never perfectly linear, but it certainly isn’t now — Blindr being a case in point. However, any app or site where people are put together and allowed to interact will indubitably produce sparks, including on LinkedIn, Farmville, MOOCs, and other unexpected places.

Between sparks, occurs a lot of ‘noise,’ which is described by Chalkley et. al (2012) as a breakdown in communication caused by contextual, technical, perceptual, and cognitive factors resulting in distortions to the intended message. For example, consider technical errors introduced by new media devices. How often has the spellchecker on your computer botched a name you knew perfectly well how to spell? How often has your cell phone’s autocorrect ruined a witty retort? The authors of Communication, New Media, and Everyday Life affirm miscommunication is not always a bad thing.

Daters match or move on, navigating a new world of online social norms and verbal and non-verbal communications. There are unwritten and written rules to it (terms and conditions they’re called). As well, there exists a coded language, such as the initialism ‘NSA’ for no strings attached. Singles swipe through hundreds of pictures looking for — or missing — zillions of non-verbal cues. Playing a high speed game of catch and release, they are ever-building intertextual relationships — based partly in cyberspace and partly outside of it — woven together as a new-age form of reality.

In past decades, online society was believed — or feigned — a break from a stressful reality, but this is no longer quite true, or even possible. Online society is a creeping new reality. (In fact, paper job applications and bank statements have nearly ceased to exist.) The setting is spatially and conceptually infinite and foreign, those who brave it learn hard lessons and experience very real reward. To grasp the immensity of this emerging phenomenon, consider a few of the many virtual dating resources and activities available to net courtiers.

Cybersocial sweethearts have the option to:

Eller, D./
  • read online articles offering advice on everything, such as how to meet other singles, how to dress on a date, and where to take your date
  • share relationship status and updates with friends and family
  • produce, record, and ‘share’ their marriage proposals (some go viral!)
  • set-up an online gift registry for an engagement, wedding, anniversary, baby shower, and other celebratory events
  • crowdfund to pay for couple’s vacations, weddings, or honeymoons
  • offer virtual wedding attendance for invitees who are not able to attend due to distance or disability
  • commit to one another in a virtual online wedding (not, yet, legally binding)
  • attend online relationship counseling sessions
  • file for divorce online, if it all goes kaput

The cyber soap opera

Digital partnering is not exclusive to any demographic (age, race, sexual orientation, etc.). In the tone of Shakespeare, all the world’s an actor and spectator. Like it or not, we’re all a part of a sort of cyber soap opera. If one is not partnering or sharing their partnerships with others by way of new media, then one is witnessing the partnerships of others by way of media. And by “witnessing the partnerships of others” I do not mean porn or its new sub-genre revenge porn; however this, too, is new media.

Maybe, like me, you’re too uninterested to ‘Google’ Taylor Swift’s new beau (and accompanying love ballad); Kanye West’s and Kim Kardashian’s breakup, or a recent sighting of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Nonetheless, we all still know a little something about it. Whether you met your significant other online or on campus at uni, everyone everywhere is now taking part, actively or passively, in every relationship’s development. If there’s any doubt, change your relationship status on Facebook and see what sort of stir is caused.

Like a family historian, digital media stores posts, messages, videos, calendar events, photos, and vital records. It is no longer a mere tool for career and academic success, but — from beginning to beginning again — it creates, mediates, shapes, supports, propagates, and stores our love narrative. ∎∎∎

Happy Valentine’s Day!


  1. Chalkley, T., Brown, A., Cinque, T., Warren, B., Hobbs, M., & Finn, M. (2012). Communication, new media, and everyday life. South Melbourne: Oxford.
  2. Eller, D. (n.d.). Online dating concept-teenage boy [stock image]. Retrieved from
  3. Eller, D. (n.d.). Online dating concept-teenage girl [stock image]. Retrieved from

New Media Revolutionized Health Care Under Obama Administration

Selman Amer/

Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act

New media made possible President Obama’s 2009 HITECH Act, which is in turn credited for the rapid expansion of the Health Information Technology field. A main objective was to employ the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR). EHR have a tremendous effect on the accuracy and efficiency of health care. The HITECH Act reduces medical errors, saves on administrative costs long-term, decreases overall medical expenditures, coordinates patient care, reduces redundancy, and streamlines an over-complicated health care system. By no means is this an exhaustive list; however, patients will be able to: communicate directly with providers through email, view their health history online, access their personal wellness plan, and view and pay medical bills electronically. Also, information can be quickly transferred between providers. For example, EHR allow a medical specialist to access and exchange information (e.g. labs, x-rays, allergens, prescriptions, etc.) with your family doctor and vice versa. Clinicians, also, are able to interact with one another and consult evidence-driven best practices on a medical database for diagnosis and treatment. All of this translates to greater quality care and healthier Americans.

Conceptualizing HITECH as new media

New technology vs. new media

You may now be wondering where the line between new technology and new media splinters; indeed, it is tightly wound. To explain, it’s fitting to use the ol’ five finger adage: just as all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs, all new media is technology but not all technology is media. For example, though a new model Mercedes may incorporate aspects of new media — such as streaming radio — and may be media worthy, it is new technology and not new media.

Is Health Information Technology (HIT) new media?

Maybe you’re questioning whether the HITECH Act has a place in the discussion of media given that HIT communications are largely confidential transmissions from a person or group (health care providers) to a single individual (patient or other provider), rather than ‘open’ communications to a collective. Confidential or not, is this not the very nature of media? Consider a billboard. It communicates information to one passerby at a time, potentially amounting to thousands per week. In regard to the private nature of the HIT data transferred, one question: what’s on your cell phone? Maybe your cell phone is just a cat video library, but for most other users it holds very private information. (See Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal for police to search digital information on cell phones without a warrant due to the sensitive nature of information stored therein.) All in all, media is simply the message between messenger and receiver as well as any tangible or intangible tools used to convey that message (Chalkley et. al, 2012). Therefore, clinical communications are, not separate from, but a genre within new media.

HITECH as media:

  • Enables communication between patients and providers
  • Facilitates information sharing
  • Captures health and demographic information for scientific analysis and reporting
  • Educates practitioners and public on best practices for the delivery of quality care and the improvement and maintenance of health, respectively

Leave a comment below and tell me how you feel about the use of new media in health care. ∎∎∎

Recommended media: Guide to Privacy and Security of Electronic Health Information, Department of Health and Human Services.



  1. Kovner, A. (2011). Health care delivery in the United States (10th ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Company.
  2. Chalkley, T., Brown, A., Cinque, T., Warren, B., Hobbs, M., & Finn, M. (2012). Communication, new media, and everyday life. South Melbourne: Oxford.
  3. Amer, Selman. (n.d.). Web search [stock image]. Retrieved from

Purpose: A panorama of new media

What is the purpose of the Au Courant Communications blog?, as the URL suggests, is my new media portfolio. Included are projects from course New Media for Technical Communication. This ever-growing portfolio will include relevant essays on the topic of new media as well as an illustrated procedure and screencast.

Projects, herein, are excogitative applications of three subtopics:


  • New Media and Society
  • New Media Content and Culture
  • Using New Media for Communication and Control

Why is focus given to new media?

As a Public Health worker, I have used new media to assemble, enhance, and disseminate brochures, fliers, YouTube public service announcements, PowerPoint presentations, and all sorts of health education materials. New media, in Public Health, is essential for data collection, manipulation, and analysis. Moreover, it helps professionals to quickly package and deliver important health information to large populations in effort to control disease and reduce injury.

Ask yourself:

  • how did you first hear about a recent infectious disease outbreak (e.g. Zika, Ebola, seasonal flu, etc.)
  • how did you hear about a recent product recall (e.g. a toy, car part, food product, etc.)
  • have you received Amber Alerts to your mobile phone
  • how are you made aware of new traffic laws

These are all matters of public health and safety aided by the use of new media and, in large part, my reason for studying technical communications. If you have questions about new media in public health, please leave them below or contact me. ∎∎∎



  1. Da Silva Azevedo, I. (n.d.). Vector illustration of a street in New York City at night [stock image]. Retrieved from
  2. Stewart, J. (Spring 2017). New Media for Technical Communication [Syllabus]. Tampa, FL: English Department, University of South Florida.
  3. Kudryashka. (n.d.). City sketch [stock image]. Retrieved from
  4. Amer, Selman. (Year). Web search [stock image]. Retrieved from