Author Archives: kfitz

A Very Quick Farewell from Me

The end of class yesterday came in that weird rush that always happens when the course evaluations come out, so I wanted to quickly post here to say a more proper (and more appropriately digital, I guess) goodbye.

It’s been an absolutely amazing semester working with all of you; your projects have been inspiring and creative and fun, and your use of this blog has been energetic and engaging. I’ll miss talking with all of you, miss your updates on what’s going on out there in the world of the web.

But, as blitz noted yesterday, perhaps we might all get back together year after next, when I return to campus. I’d love that, if it happened.

Good luck finishing up your semesters, enjoy your summers, and please keep in touch…

Cantina Crawl

A million years ago, when I first showed you “Fett’s Vette,” I mentioned there being a video that used the form of the machinima music video to relate the history of the conflict between Sony (who were behind Star Wars Galaxies) and the players who had adopted the performance professions within the gameworld. The video had originally been posted to YouTube, but at some point had the audio stripped because of assumed copyright violations. I’ve rediscovered it elsewhere, though, so for your viewing pleasure, Cantina Crawl 12.


Final Project

Your final project asks you to work in teams of two to create a substantive meta-media object on the topic of your choice (which is to say, a media object that is both composed of and 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 7; you will turn in this project by posting a link on the blog.

Publishing Your Sophie Book

Hi, all. In order to finalize your Sophie books, you need to take a few steps.

First, be sure you’ve saved your book in its most current form, somewhere safe.

Next, delete the version of Sophie you’ve been running. There’s been a new version released since we started this project; go to the Sophie website and download the most recent version. (It was released on April 6, so if you’ve downloaded since then, you can skip this step.)

Once this new version is installed, open it, and then open the book you’ve been working on. Be sure you’ve given your book an appropriate title by selecting File > Book Properties.

Once that’s done, under the File menu, select Export Book As > Sophie Package. Save the file in a good location, and be sure that it’s named [Your Title].pack.s2.

That file, the one ending in “.pack.s2” is the one you want to upload; it’s got all the resources for your book included with the book itself.

Let me know if you have problems…

A Reminder, Yet Again

Those of you who are turning in your video projects, please remember that the assignment calls for you to (a) embed the video in your post, rather than simply linking to it, and (b) assign that post to the “video” category, such that I can find it when I sit down to grade them.

Seriously: embed; category. Reminder number two.

Project 4: Sophie

For your fourth project, each of you will work independently to create a multimedia book project using Sophie.

You should be aware that despite being a 2.0.4 release, the software you’ll be working with is very much in development, and so you will want to take adequate precautions; save and back up your work frequently. I should also let you know that there’s an older version of Sophie available — Sophie 1. (Sophie 1, if you’re interested, was written in Squeak, a language based on Smalltalk, one of the original object-oriented programming languages. Alas, Smalltalk has fallen out of common use, and so Squeak doesn’t have a huge following. Sophie 2 is thus focusing on rewriting Sophie 1 in Java. As a result, Sophie 2 will be more flexible for most purposes — a Sophie 2 book will be embeddable in a web page, for instance — but some of the features of Sophie 1 have not yet been added to Sophie 1.) You’re welcome to work in Sophie 1, if you prefer; I’m going to show you some projects from last year that were built in Sophie 1, though I’ll be attempting to demo Sophie 2 as well. Be aware, however, that Sophie 1 books are not currently openable in Sophie 2.

I’ll walk you through the basics of Sophie today, making sure that you can download and run the software, 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 start of lab on Friday, April 16.

Project 3: Web Video

For your third project, you will work in pairs again to develop, produce, and post a short video (aim for 3 minutes, but certainly no more than 5) presenting and exploring some key concept from our class thus far.

You will again need to produce a script for your video, and to create a plan for production and post-production (i.e., shooting and editing) your video. Equipment may be reserved and checked out from the IMS Production Center, in the basement of Scott Hall. Additional cameras may be available from the Foreign Language Resource Center in Mason Hall.

You may use brief pieces of “borrowed” footage in your video, provided that it is appropriately cited in your credits, and provided that you are using the footage in a “transformative” fashion, as a means of critical commentary. Under those circumstances, and as an educational activity, this is clearly an act of fair use, under which copyrighted material may be used without permission. If footage is taken from a digitally encrypted form (like DVDs), however, 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. There may be other available production spaces as well.

Your video should be absolutely no longer than 5 minutes in length, and preferably shorter, and should be encoded in an appropriate format and uploaded to the video sharing service of your choice; we’ll show you a couple of them today. You should then embed 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 2.

From the Agrippa Files

Hi, all. As you read through The Agrippa Files for tomorrow, try to leave yourself some time to watch the video of the original “transmission” of Agrippa — it begins with a fascinating interview with the project’s publisher, which winds up touching on many of the issues we’ve been discussing with respect to hypertext and digital media, and it’s a pretty astonishing snapshot of thinking about these digital media forms in 1992.

My Mea Culpa Moment

After nearly 20 years of intensive email usage, without once ever having made the reply-all mistake, it finally happened. It’s more than a little mortifying that it happened in a class in which I’m supposed to be teaching Good Internet Practices and stuff, but, well, I suppose it provides the opportunity for a little object lesson.

What is that lesson? Well, “don’t be in such a hurry” might be a good one. Or “check the address line twice, especially if you’re working in a relatively unfamiliar interface.” Perhaps also “check the Google Group settings to be sure you really want every single reply to go to the entire group” (they’re now set in a way that gives you the option to reply to the message sender or to the group).

But mostly it’s just a reminder about how easy it is to slip up online and let private information wander where it shouldn’t. So, let it be a lesson to me, I suppose.

My apologies to all of you. See you in class tomorrow.

Rape in Second Life

An article popped up this morning in Inside Higher Ed on the ongoing issues with harassment and sexual assault taking place in virtual worlds, with a particular focus on the responsibility of educational institutions making use of those worlds to confront and discuss those behaviors online as well as in “real life.” I’d be interested to hear your reactions!