Category Archives: assignment

Brennen Byrne and Hannah Yung's Video Project

Here’s our project! Enjoy it!


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.

Video Podcast on Social Networking

Here is Drew and my project. Quality is kinda low, but its youtube so…you know. If you love it so much that you need a higher quality copy of it, arrangements can be made 😛 Anyways, the link is here:

Allison and Jackie's Video Project



Alright, so our video is about Wikipedia and its reception by students of the Claremont Colleges. We interviewed students and asked the following questions:

– Can you describe your feelings about Wikipedia in one or two words?
– Do you believe that Wikipedia is a reliable source for general knowledge or trivia?
– Do you think that Wikipedia is reliable enough to be used for scholarly purposes?

After interviewing students, we decided to start off the video with an introduction of Wikipedia, including screenshots (with a lot of Ken Burns Effect usage). We looked for “easy listening” music to accompany the video, and found some techy, bouncy music. The most painful part about editing the video was adding sound clips before adding video clips in iMovie (the audio clips get shortened to the length of the video clip). Okay, Allison wants to talk about the video, so I’ll stop now.


Awesome, my turn. Well, since Jackie pretty much already covered all of the technical aspects of the project, that leaves me with the best part — the editorial! As she pointed out, iMovie is a huge pain to use. Everything about it is set up for the lowest common denomenator of user, which is cool and all and I can respect that but things like auto-cropping music and not letting you click some things and edit others is a little frustrating. I feel like the interface of iMovie was made so simple that it became complex, and as much as I’d like to use Windows Movie Maker, I don’t really like my software crashing every three minutes.

So I guess you gotta pick your battles.

That aside, I really like the final project. Getting the audio in sync with the text/pictures was probably the most challenging aspect aside from struggling with the program’s defaults and restrictions. Also, I have to say, Dan and Diana are absolutely hilarious in the un-cut, but we couldn’t use all of the footage because of the time constraint (which crept up on us much faster than we expected).


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.

Project 2: Web Audio/Podcasting

For your second project, you will work in pairs to develop, produce, and post a 3-5 minute audio podcast that might serve as a lesson in an online “Introduction to Digital Media Studies” course.

To begin this project, you and your partner should choose one of the texts that we’ve read thus far, around which you want to focus your podcast. You’ll of course need to revisit the text to be sure you have a clear understanding of its argument and the evidence that it presents for that argument.

You’ll then need to produce a script for your podcast. Think both about what’s being said and how it’s being conveyed — both about your dialogue and about the audio background. What can you demonstrate with audio that you can’t convey in writing, for instance, or in images?

3-5 minutes isn’t very long, I know, and some of you may chafe at the length restriction, but 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.

You’ve seen a demo of Audacity, a free program that allows easy editing and encoding of audio, but 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 5 class on Monday, March 8.

Project 1: Basic Web Design

For your first project, I want you to use good HTML and CSS to produce a website with at least three linked pages, which will be served from your MyWebs user space online and will grow over the course of the semester to become a portfolio of all your work in this course (and in other courses, if you so choose).

A few caveats on this assignment:

  • I do not want you to use a template! You can borrow design ideas and code snippets from other websites, but I want the design of this website to be your own, and I want you to build it.
  • Following from that: I want you to build it by hand! Which is to say that I want you to use a text editor to hand-code your pages. No fair using Dreamweaver, Front Page, or any other web authoring tools, and no fair using the HTML function of a word processor.

Once your site is complete, email the link to our Google Group (so as to protect your semi-anonymity here); we should receive this email no later than the start of lab on Friday, February 19.

For extra credit, demonstrate that your site adheres to good web standards by validating your HTML and CSS and testing your site’s accessibility. (See the Web Standards Curriculum in Resources for more information.)


"As We May Think" Response

The entire time I was reading the article “As We May Think” by Vannevar Bush, I was repeatedly struck by the harsh contrast between the brilliant, spot-on accuracy of his theoretical analysis, and his completely inaccurate technical proposals.  His perception into the reasons that information storage, access, and exchange methods needed to be updated, as well as his foresight into how they needed to be changed border on the prophetic.  At the same time, almost none of the specific concepts he suggests has come to fruition as the primary means of interacting with information.  I understand that some of his specific technological predictions held true for some time (such as microfilm), but they have died out over the years.  By contrast, his basic ideas regarding the storage and retrieval of ideas ring as true today as when he wrote them down over half a century ago.

When he envisions “wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them,” he is basically explaining the theoretical basis of one of the most used resources on the planet, Wikipedia.  Wikipedia literally embodies and is built upon basically the exact idea Dr. Bush put forward and envisioned.  However, when it comes down to the specific implementation of this idea, Dr. Bush’s ideas of having these encyclopedias formatted on microfilm that was “ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified” was never realized, and is very different than how wikipedia works today, as it is centrally available via the internet, rather than stored on a physical piece of film within the user’s desk.

Dr. Bush correctly identifies the key problem with the then-current ways of dealing with information as being that a file or record is only in one place.  However, he incorrectly guesses that this will be solved with easily made copies of physical papers and films that can be replicated and given to friends or colleagues for their use.

His idea of translating speech to text is just now becoming a potentially viable technology, but in a way that is nothing like the machine he describes.  He correctly identifies ‘compression’ and ‘accessibility’ as key features of a new storage/retrieval mechanism, and we still use these terms today, but we apply them to machines and systems very different that those he spoke of.

There is no question that Dr. Bush was amazingly insightful in his analysis of the situation and the theoretical basis of his paper.  Almost none of this brilliance translates into correct long-term prediction though because of one thing:  the invention of the computer and digital media.  Digital media, accessed via computers, has completely replaced the devices he envisioned.  Though it has been developed to fill the voids he correctly saw, it’s logistics are entirely unforeseen.

The implication of this seems to me to be that no matter how well one sees a problem, the chances that their specific solution will be the one implemented in the long run are quite small.  Bearing this in mind, and turning to think about the current world predicament, this lesson can potentially be applied to the current energy crisis.  How likely is it, really, that the long-term replacement for oil (the outdated, soon-to-fail system we currently use) will be something that we see right now such as electric, hydrogen, etc?  How likely is it that the long-term replacement for our currently stagnant transportation methods (airplanes have remained largely unchanged for years) will be replaced by a technology we see on the horizon?

And, perhaps the most interesting, important, and most impossible to answer question is, what will be the next technology that will fill our societal needs in a way we never foresaw, just as computers and digital media did?