Screens or Pages

I have always cringed any time a teacher has asked for a video project in school. Taking videos of the things around me is entirely different from having to edit a video into a legitimate concept to present to an audience and it’s something that has always confused and terrified me. That being said, there are definitely some aspects about creating a film that made the goal of relaying my concept much easier than if I had been asked to simply write about it as video offers certain affordances that writing simply does not.

As anyone might guess, the ability to use visual and audio stimuli in videos can greatly enhance the quality of presenting a concept as well as the reception from the audience. When writing out a paper the only images you can use are through the descriptive language you put on the page, requiring the reader to imagine the concept being presented in front of them. This leaves room for all different kinds of interpretation, while when it comes to video, you can very clearly showcase and explain in your own words what you want to get across to the audience. This can be seen in several of the “How To” video’s such as with Alexandra’s “How to build a Cootie Catcher” or Jake and Sara’s “How to tip your waitress”. The simple style of going step by step through the process of the specific “How To” with a voice over explanation in the background really aids in the audience learning how to do what it is they are showing us to do.

There’s also a kind of connection between the creator of the film and the audience in these videos that is less prominent when reading their words on a page. In the videos by Ellie and Ashley, we never actually see the author but we can still hear their voice overlapping the images in front of us, and even though we cannot see them, there is still a part of them present in the film speaking directly to us. As a reader, we can only see the words the writer has left for us and try to decipher their own voice or intonations based off of what we read.

However, for video, there is this sense that it is not universally preferred as a medium for showcasing concepts and many people find it difficult to actually present their ideas this way. I noticed for this project that, despite how it takes less time to absorb the material out of watching a video than taking the time and energy to read a long article on the same material, it took me much longer to create the presentation for it. Certainly all of the Concept in 60 videos were well done and showcased their ideas nicely, I couldn’t help but hear how many people, myself included, had difficulty with the editing process, noticing how much simpler it would have been to just write it out instead of working with the online tools. Despite the fluidity that comes with a film presentation, there is twice the amount of effort behind even a 60 second video as there is with a written piece which can be daunting for future potential media users.

I also believe that when it comes to video, it is much easier to get distracted by other things. From a generation who tend to multitask and give only small bits of attention to any given piece, it’s easy to feel that because the text of the material is being verbally presented to us that there is no need to spend our whole attention on it. For example, when it comes to reading a book, most people will immerse themselves entirely to the contents, to be able to absorb all of the material it can require all of your attention. When it comes to watching videos online, some people may have several tabs open at once, merely listening to the audio of a video while scrolling through various other online mediums, thus missing any visual aids that accompany the concept and losing some of the meaning in it.

Overall, I think both methods of conveying ideas are entirely effective in their own ways, sometimes it may be more efficient to rely on visual and audio aids to get a point across, while other times it may be better to invite different interpretations to an idea.

Writing: The Affordances and Constraints of Video

What can you, as a student in this course, do in working with video that you can’t do in a written text? Conversely, what kinds of things is it hard to do with video that you can do more readily in writing? Affordances and constraints. Video and print. I’d like you to think about the relationship between these two modalities using the Concepts in 60 videos posted to this site.

Let me make an arbitrary rule: You should refer in your post to at least three Concept in 60 videos. Your goal should not be to evaluate these pieces, to say what you especially liked or didn’t, but to note what the medium of video seems to encourage authors to do and what it seems to constrain them from doing.

Deadline: Thurs, 3/23, 10:00 am. I’m eager to read your thoughts on this issue!

Writing: Tweeting boyd

In the next week or two, I’d like you to focus most of your creative energy on your Concept in 60 video. But I don’t want to lose track of danah boyd, whose It’s Complicated we all seem so far to have enjoyed reading and discussing.

And so, for your writing assignment this week, I’d like you to post at least five connected tweets that together form (or at least suggest) some sort of response to (or argument about) the second half of boyd’s book. You might want to quote, or summarize, or comment. or link to other relevant texts. I can also imagine two (or more) of you staging a kind of dialogue on Twitter about It’s Complicated, responding to each other’s tweets.

The form is open. Experiment. Have fun. My aim is to lighten your writing workload this week  a little bit (5 x 140 characters = 700 characters = maybe 150 total words?), while still asking you to continue to think seriously about boyd.

Please remember to use our class hashtage, #e397dr. And you might think about inviting danah boyd into the conversation. She tweets @zephoria.

danah-boyd-zephoria
@zephoria

 

Writing: Concept in 60 Video

 

 

Matt Marriott and Mike Moverman, “Who Said Brainstorming Couldn’t Be Fun?”, 2013.

Janel Atlas, “Rising Run”, 2014

 

Kiley Dhatt, “How to Be a New Teacher”, 2014

 

For next week I’d like you to make an original 60-second video that illustrates or explains a concept. Your video may center on any term, idea, or phrase that interests you. You may work with found texts—images, videos, audio files—as well as with materials you shoot yourself.  You can strike any tone that you want—serious, funny, angry, whimsical, lyrical, whatever.  And you can collaborate with other people in this class, if you like. Here are the only constraints:

  1. Your Concept in 60 must have both audio and video tracks. These two tracks may not be synchronous. (In other words, you can’t simply shoot a video of someone explaining an idea.)
  2. Your video must include a title and credits.
  3. Your video must run exactly 60 seconds—not counting your credits.

Some other things to keep in mind:

  1. Ask for the consent of anyone whose image or voice you record.
  2. Make it clear where any found images or audio/video clips you use come from. Document all texts authored by others. If you use found texts, it’s your job to make your perspective clear through the ways you edit and frame them.
  3. Feel free to get whatever technical help you need. But acknowledge that help in your credits.

I will be more interested in the idea behind your uses of video than in your technical expertise. My aim is to raise the question of how one might compose an “essay” about an idea in video rather than in prose.

When you have finished your video, upload it to Youtube, Vimeo, or any other videosharing platform. Then embed your video in a post on this site (or link to it if you have trouble embedding it). Title your post with the title of your video. Use Video and your group number as your categories.

Deadline: Thurs, 3/16, 10:00 AM. We will view as many of these videos as we can in class on Mon, 3/20, so preview and comment on as many of them as you can!

Acknowledgment: I’ve adapted this assignment from one created by Professor Cindy Selfe at Ohio State University. Cindy helped guide me through making my own Concept in 60 video  when I attended the Seminar in Digital Media and Composition (DMAC) in Summer 2010. Thanks Cindy!

I look forward to viewing and talking about your videos!

Losing the cultural self

The books we read, the dinners we eat, the times we enjoy with our friends: Human beings are a collection of events, a collection of laughter and indecision and so much more. What all of these have in common are the influence they have over our brain’s connectivity. Every time we experience something, for better or for worse, it becomes a part of us.

But what happens when we fray the connections to the outside world? What happens when we disconnect ourselves from the culture of living, which includes the spectrum of events, emotions, and built-up associations between personal reaction and physical event? The understanding is that when we avoid the grandeur of the real world and infuse ourselves with the online world, we begin to lose something vital to who we are. On page 197, Carr uses the last sentence to tie together these thoughts:

“Outsource memory, and culture withers.”

As Carr states, we must renew culture in our lives, using the enormity of living instead of the humdrum of the online world. Surely, the internet is fraught with excitement and possibility. To use the Web is to sojourn on an endless journey, where you dictate your travels, thereby creating your online presence and your culture. You, of course, create culture by what you store in your memory and what you give attention to.

If that attention is given to a medium predicated on speed and quick-reaction, we might be unable to build up certain facilities of our mind. That includes memory, attentiveness, and culture. The web, appearing as a benevolent creature, can drastically alter the content of our lives, both present and future. The entanglement of connections can confuse us; alluring as it may be, who we are and who we will become is hastily changing.

I think Carr provides a valuable point about culture here. On many of my walks around campus, I notice a trend of students with their faces down, locked to their phone screens, walking without a clue as to what is in front of them. This indicates an increasing reliance some have to their phones and their online, connected world. But as we know from this book, the more robust an internet user is, and the more robust their dependence on the online world is, the more likely a permanent alteration to their being will occur.

I feel a complete lack of culture in my life sometimes. Too many people I know are hesitant to discuss larger issues humanity faces, endlessly wrapped up in the shallowness of social media and what not. We are scared to set up a culture of culture, instead leaning toward a culture of lies and inner-validation.

The foundations of a culture prided on this hollowness are beginning, setting up a future where our kids indeed follow suit. So while I worry myself over this reality, I do believe there is a remedy. Engaging in socially active conversations and events, making a point to seek them out in the future, and repeating might blur the necessity we have to our phones. I like to think that there is a greater culture to subscribe to out there.

 

 

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A picture from my computer (I believe it was one of my wallpaper options), signifying that through a cluster of branches lies the sun, a force of hope breaking through a filtered barrier. In this case, the loss of culture represents the branches and the sun represents a break from this disintegration. Hope.

Becoming One with Technology

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr is all about how technology is causing our brains to change.  That change is making it harder for us to engage with each other in ways we used to in the past.  Carr seems to blame this all on our devices, but I don’t think that is very fair.  We are the reason for these technological advances.  Computers and phones wouldn’t keep advancing if we didn’t have such a reliance on them.  Carr introduces this idea: “Even as our technologies become extensions of ourselves, we become extensions of our technologies”(Carr 209).  Just as much as we need technology, technology needs us.  Every year Apple comes out with a new phone because the last generation iPhone no longer fulfills our needs.  Technology is only trying to keep up with our advancements.

Laptops, iPhone’s, and other technological devices have all become a part of our lives.  I 20170222_225502look at those types of devices as an extension of ourselves both physically and mentally.  The image that goes along with this post represents how we are becoming one with our devices.  I go everywhere with my phone in my hand, and if my phone is somewhere else I feel uncomfortable and like I’m missing something.  Phones have become extensions of our physical bodies in the sense that we can never put them down.  It’s as if they’re a part of our hands.  Mentally, technology has also intertwined with who we are.  Our devices hold so much information about our lives they are an extra part of our brains.  My phone holds hundreds of songs that feels like a personal diary, thousands of photos that preserve my memories, and millions of texts that allow me to connect with people regardless of where they are.  Technology may have consequences, but no one could live without it.

The second half of the book continues to address the idea that technology is changing who we are.  Carr suggests that technology has become an extension of us just as we become an extension of our technologies.  I agree with him in that sense, but if that’s true then why can Carr put so much blame on technology?  He describes it as being reliant on us meaning technology couldn’t thrive without its consumer.  Technology wouldn’t be advancing if it wasn’t for humans demanding and craving those new advancements.  Carr’s blame for our problems on technology is not fair.  We can’t blame technology because we can’t live without it.

Writing: Second Response to Carr

is_google_making_us_stoopid
The July/August 2008 issue of The Atlantic which published the article in which Carr first advanced the argument of The Shallows.

Your second writing assignment is in many ways the same as the first: Write a post of about 400 words or so in which you use your reading of Carr’s The Shallows as a springboard for your own thoughts on our digital culture.

There are, however, a few ways in which I’d like you to take on some new challenges in this piece.

  • Finish Carr.  Convince me that you’ve done so by responding to a passage in the second half of his book.
  • Try to move past saying, I feel the same way. We all do—and it’s perfectly reasonable that confessing to a Carr-like mood of impatience and distractedness was the principle theme of many first responses to his work. But if that’s all we can come up with, we will soon run the risk of boring one another. So what else might there be to say about living and working in the sort of culture Carr describes?
  • Embed an image in your response. See if you can use an image in your writing that does not simply illustrate but somehow adds to what you have to say.

A few more rules about images. If you use an image that has been created by someone else, you must:

  • Give credit to the maker of the image. (Use the caption function in WordPress to do so.)
  • Crop or alter the image in some way.

Or you can simply use an image you have made yourself.

Once again I will also ask you to read and comment on the responses posted by your group members. The deadline for your post is 10:00 AM on Thurs, 2/23. The deadline for your comments is the start of class on Fri, 2/24.

I look forward to reading your work!