Category Archives: course info
Some of you asked about past projects, so I thought I’d post a few examples from last year’s class. Bear in mind that the assignment was a good bit different from yours…
Your final project asks you to work in teams of two or three to create a substantive meta-media object on the topic of your choice (which is to say, a media object that is about digital media). This project may take any of the forms you’ve worked in this semester — web pages, audio, video, Sophie — or any combination of the above. This project should demonstrate in a broad and substantive manner what you have learned in this course, both technically and critically, and its form and content should work seamlessly together.
You’ll present your project-in-process, in whatever state of completion it’s in, during the last week of class; we’ll use these presentations as a means of critiquing the project so that you can improve it. The final project will be due no later than 5 pm on Friday, May 8; you will turn in this project by posting a link on the blog.
I’ll walk you through the basics of Sophie today, making sure that you get the software downloaded and installed, that you can access the documentation and tutorials that are available, and that you’ve seen a few examples of what Sophie can do.
And then I’m going to turn you loose to experiment. For this project, I want you to take any of the texts that we’ve read together for this class and turn it into a well-designed, readable, interactive Sophie book. Which text you choose, and how you design the project, is entirely up to you. You may include work that you’ve created — whether your own writing, audio, or video — in the project as you see fit. The way you edit and design the book should work with the content of the text you select to elaborate and expand upon its meaning.
You should place your Sophie book project in your MyWebs space, and link to it in a blog post, by the end of lab next week (April 17). You’ll have a bit of time to finish the project during that lab, but you’ll want to reserve time to start thinking about your final project as well, so plan accordingly!
For your third project, we’re asking you to work in pairs again (again with one group of three*) to develop, produce, and post a video remix, of whatever variety you’re interested in. The art of remix lies in using the form as a mode of commentary on the source materials. Here are a couple of simple but effective examples: First, “The Last Lion King of Scotland”; second, “Shining.”
Ideally, your video should lead its viewer to think critically either about the ways video is changing — whether in distribution, or in format, or in content, or whathaveyou — in the wake of new networked technologies or about the source materials you use. All footage should be “borrowed” (and appropriately cited in the credits), and re-edited to convey the message you’d like to get across. Your audio can be borrowed and/or self-generated as can other images (visual stills, captions, credits, etc.) you’d like to include. The ultimate goal is to explore how the act of remixing can function as a form of creativity, and how it can offer a critical perspective on some of the issues explored in this course.
As an educational activity offering critical commentary, this is clearly an act of fair use – copyrighted material may be used without permission. If footage is taken from a digitally encrypted form (like DVDs), students should be aware of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention laws — using screen capture or other methods of video transfer are encouraged to avoid breaking this law, even though there is no doubt that the law itself infringes on your fair use rights.
We are going to walk you through the use of iMovie today; you’re welcome, however, to use whatever editing system you’re most comfortable with. You can produce this video on your own computer, if that’s feasible for you, or in the ITS multimedia lab, or in the IMS Production Center, in the basement of Scott Hall. I’m looking into getting you access to the Digital Arts lab as well, so that you can work there in the off hours.
Your video should be no longer than 5 minutes in length, should be encoded in an appropriate format and uploaded to YouTube** (or the video sharing service of your choice; we’ll show you a couple of them today). You should then link to the video in a post to the class blog, using the category “video.” You should provide commentary on your work in the blog post, and you should also of course comment on one another’s entries.
Your video and accompanying blog post will be due at the start of lab on Friday, April 3.
*And again, the group of three should plan on producing either 50% more material, or 50% better material, since you’ve got 50% more labor.
**Preferred settings for YouTube uploading are available here.
If you’re having difficulty finding a machine on which to read Michael Joyce’s Afternoon, you might try the computers in the English department library, on the first floor of Crookshank, which will be open at 8 am tomorrow. Afternoon should be available on both machines.
For your second project, we’re asking you to work in pairs (with one group of three*) to develop, produce, and post a short audio podcast that provides some critical discussion of digital audio. You should thus think about how you can use the audio form itself as a means of thinking about web-based audio; what can you convey with audio that you couldn’t convey in writing, for instance, or in images? The length of your podcast is flexible, but you should keep 5 minutes in mind as an upper limit; the point is to produce something polished that conveys significant ideas, rather than to produce your masterwork.
You are free to record audio wherever you like; microphones and portable recorders are available for checkout from the IMS Production Center, in the basement of Scott Hall. You are also welcome to use found audio clips — even copyrighted clips — but be sure to credit the sources of the material you use, either within the audio or in the accompanying blog entry.
We’ll demonstrate Audacity for you this week, a free program that allows easy editing and encoding of audio, although you are welcome to use other audio programs that you might know. Your podcast should be encoded in MP3 format and placed in your “MyWebs” folder in your userspace. You should then include a link to the audio in a post to the class blog that uses the category “podcast.” We can then all subscribe to the RSS feed for that category in an audio aggregator like iTunes to gather the files. You are also encouraged to provide commentary on the process in the blog post, and to comment on one another’s entries.
Your podcast and accompanying blog post will be due at the start of lab on Friday, March 6.
*The group of three should plan on producing either 50% more material, or 50% better material, since you’ve got 50% more labor.
For your first project, we’re asking you to use XHTML and CSS to produce a badly designed three-page website. Very badly designed: the worse, the better. (Or is that true? Is there a point at which design becomes so bad that it becomes good?)
To begin, first, read through the resources on DARPA’s guide to making bad web pages. Ponder what makes bad web design bad. When is a conventionally good-looking design actually bad? And when does really really bad push over into awesome?
Then, develop a three-page site that’s really, really bad.
For extra credit, using exactly the same code in your HTML files, and only changing the CSS, give us a good version as well.
This project will be due (by placing the pages in your MyWebs user space online and posting a link (or links) to your site on the blog) by the start of lab on Friday, February 20.
A quick note: my regular office hours for the next two weeks (Jan. 26 – Feb. 6) have been completely taken over by job talks being presented by candidates for the positions in English and Media Studies. Because of that, office hours will be by appointment only until Feb. 9, when the regular drop-in hours will resume.
This site is yours to make of what you want, a space for further interaction, for exploration, for testing out some of the ideas that come up in our discussions or in your papers. You’ll be expected to post your thoughts about our class reading here on the blog, but I also want to see you trying things out here for yourselves, thinking actively about how this blog might be made a useful space for thinking about and experimenting with the technologies that we’re studying this semester.
So any number of things might provide a good topic for a blog post. Here are a few suggestions (slightly modified from a similar list my colleague Meg Worley gave a class of hers):
- Isn’t it cool the way that Author X seems to predict technology Y?
- Aargh, I just can’t get my head around today’s reading.
- Does “jargonterm” mean P or Q – or something else entirely?
- Wow, Reading Z really reminds me of last week’s episode of Lost.
- I could use some feedback on this idea I’ve been wrestling with…
- Did she say A or B in class yesterday? I forgot to write it down.
- Hey, I’m in a play this weekend, and y’all should come!
You’ll no doubt find other things you want to post about, too – things you stumble across on the web that the rest of the class should see, things you find in your research that the rest of the class might be interested in. This kind of sharing is what makes group blogs exciting; I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with.