In Defence of Media Studies

Heads up: this is not an April Fool. Thought I’d better add a disclaimer in case of people thinking I’d spend 500 words taking the piss…

I only got two A*s at GCSE, and I say ‘only’ because I went to a grammar school, and as far as senior management were concerned I was too low on the food chain to bother with after my year nine end of year exams. I’m quite proud of them, though, because I worked hard for them… mostly. One was for English Literature and generally required candidates to read stuff, which was, you know, really tough. The other was for Media Studies.

Don’t look at me like that, subject snobs. I also took three whole humanities and I wanted to take something colourful for balance. It turned out to be one of the smartest things I ever did, because now I use what I learnt in my job. How many of you use your entire Maths GCSE every day? Thought not. (Incidentally I have a tax return to file soon and I regularly calculate how much money I haven’t earned, so I do use snippets of Maths Unit Whatever. But now’s not the time for Francesca’s Thoughts on What Children Should Learn About Money.)

I’m writing this now because last week it was announced that the eduction official people have cut a load of subjects from the curriculum, but left in the ‘often-maligned’ Media Studies. I never thought I’d say this, but good for you, Ofqual.

If I hadn’t taken Media, I would have no idea how to use Photoshop. I wouldn’t know what a press release or Google Docs or a sans serif font is, I wouldn’t have such an interest in the media, this blog wouldn’t have continued in the vein it has and I wouldn’t have my internships/commissions/shop. I might actually have gone to university to study a humanity – or, God forbid, English Lit – instead of setting up as a freelancer. When I was in school I got to take a break from essays and learn how to make things – and I still did pretty well in my other subjects (A*-C all the way, thank you very much). Of the four grammar schools in my area, mine was the only to offer Media, and a lot of teachers, students and parents looked down on it.

Joke’s on them, though, innit, because if our school system’s going to make everyone in it a miserable grade-obsessive, it might as well show kids that at the end of the misery their skills are still relevant. And if that’s not academic enough… I don’t care. I really enjoy my job and I didn’t even build a massive debt to get it. Plus, writing this counts as part of my working day.

Spoon Keyboards and Snakes Being Freaky

I am typing this on my new computer and using an ergonomic keyboard which is curved like an upside-down spoon. It has lots of short cut buttons that I’m eagerly anticipating using in my quest to become a Serious Writer Person… new computer, new start and all of that. Except I don’t have Microsoft Office or Photoshop and I spent about 75% of today asleep… also the spoon-keyboard is a little bit daunting. But I have a cup of tea, which is a necessity if one is to become a well-respected artiste, so all I need now is something to talk about…

Okay so first of all, my friend Hollie who hangs out here sometimes has started a blog of her very own. She only has one post so far but it shows promise of greatness. If you could all leave a comment and say hi it would be great, not only for her as a person but also because, as I understand it, female gamers are seriously under-represented and Pixel Scum is evening the playing field!

Right now down to business. Did you guys see this news story? Holy bats. I mean, the snake basically looks like the average human just after New Year…


… but snakes get to unlock their jaws.


Argh it’s been a week since I saw that and I’m still freaking out that Nagini will slither round the corner and eat my face.

In the interest of grossing you out further, a few years ago a Python tried to eat an alligator and exploded.

(I solemnly swear to never complain again when Fred or Donnie yawn in my face. Dog breath is bad but snake breath sounds like it should be toxic.)

[Insert snappy, eye-catching title here]

I’ve been working on the design of The Webways recently, and had a thought or two about here. I’ve got a few ideas, but mostly I know what I don’t want to do. Like have a background full of sparkly GIFs. Or go back to luminous font. Or cram the sidebar full of advertisements. Or display a hit counter.

I think all those things are pretty basic pet website hates, which one can build a portfolio of – especially if one uses a site regularly. It’s not just websites’ content that has the potential to get to me; I nearly had a fit when changed its layout (it didn’t change completely. But enough to make me feel like I’d had a bad haircut). WordPress has updated itself this month too, going for a more ‘simplistic’ layout on the front page. It’s not bad, per se, but I liked the organisation of the previous one because I like detail. The BBC website, on the other hand, really grew on me even though I wasn’t sure about the slide-y bit at first.

So, I want to know what your pet website hates are. (‘Pet website hates’? ‘Website pet hates’. ‘Aspects of a website that make you want to shoot the designer’.) Include examples. What do you wish people would never include on their page? What do you wish they would? Do you prefer image-based sites or text-based ones? How do you feel about infinite scrolling? Don’t just leave it at websites, now I think about it… what’s your opinion on #hashtagging every other #word when you Tweet #something? Should one really never link up one’s Facebook and Twitter/Tumblr/YouTube/etc.?

I’m quite curious to see what people think. I mean, I like my websites, but I’m fully aware that – for The Webways at least – readability has to take precedent over what I think is pretty, because otherwise people won’t read.

And you thought that title was because I couldn’t think of what to say.

It was.