Ramblings


Final Project Link

Here is the link to my group’s final project!

http://genderinavatars.wordpress.com/

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Portfolio Reflection

Carolyn O’Hearn
ENG 239
Portfolio Reflection

My interest in this class has roots that stretch back several years. All the way through Jr. High and High School, I had an interest in designing things for the web using technology. I taught myself web design and built my first website in Jr. High, and throughout High School I would play around with Photoshop and became pretty good at editing images and digital coloring. I even experimented with simple animation programs such as Macromedia Flash. I signed up for this class with the hope that we would get to do something similar, trying out a variety of different ways to get ideas across through the web.

I was glad to see this class live up to my expectations. Not only did it expose me to new ways in getting my voice heard online, but it also opened my eyes to just how far the web has come in a few short years and what it could possibly mean for the future.

It seemed like the first few classes were designed to put me in awe of the potential at my fingertips. I had always known in the back of my mind that the world is changing and the way certain ideas and media were presented would likely change to a digital format, but I was unaware to what extent that would be. I did not think that the world as I know it has been set up to vanish in a few years. I believed that print would keep its dominance. Perhaps this was wishful thinking on my part. I’ve always dreamt of being a published author and writing books for a living, so it was pretty discomforting to face the fact that the way fiction was published was probably going to undergo some dramatic changes in the next decade or so. It reminded me a great deal of that video from Kairos we watched, in which the antagonists were clinging desperately to print, out of fear that it was slipping away.

But once I overcame my discomfort, I realized the opportunities this could provide. Publishing may become more open, and more effective at finding a target audience with the use of the internet. I know of several works online that have achieved popularity with little cost due to proper marketing, such as the film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, several webcomics, and other works that have been independently published. Also, my options are more open in web publishing. If I publish a novel online, then what is to prevent me from adding sketches of characters and scenes along with the text? What is to prevent me from creating and adding music to suit a chapter’s mood? Why can’t I go a step further and use animation in addition to the text? None of these things can be done in print, and using them in addition to my text may help enhance my work. Perhaps the most amazing thing about all of this is knowing that this only the beginning, and there are more possibilities I haven’t even considered.

Not only are different genres of media being affected by the accessibility the internet provides, but they are becoming easier to create. For example, back when I made my first website, I had to teach myself HTML. This was a daunting task for me at the time as I had never had any experience with writing code before, and there was quite a bit of stuff for me to memorize in order to make a simple page. Now there is XML to make coding easier and websites like WordPress that will give you a fully functional blog in a matter of seconds. All this in less than a decade. Now those who wish to create websites do not need to struggle with a complex coding language as I did in order to be heard. The web has become far more democratic, where anyone who wants to can put something out there, be it a blog on WordPress, a video on YouTube, or pictures on Flickr.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this class was fact that we were required to keep a blog. Any attempts I’ve made to maintain a blog over time have ended due to my failure to maintain it, growing bored, and pursuing other projects. This class forced me to stay involved with my blog with various assignments and weekly required updates. While it restricted me from running around and simply playing with whatever program caught my eye, it did force me to commit to one project, something I need to work on.

The only problems I had with this class involved the lack of actual hands-on learning that we did. It seemed that a majority of our assignments before we reached the final project were to read some rather dry PDF files, or to write up new blog posts. While maintaining the blog was important, I would have rather been touching on programs and websites that would help me in the process of making my multimodal works. I feel that I and my classmates might have benefitted from learning about the basic use of some image editing programs like Photoshop or video editing software like Windows Movie Maker before the final project showed up. The blog posts were a good way of keeping us focused on the class, but they never seemed to have much of a purpose until we got to the final project and wrote up our proposals.

In fact, I think that was the biggest problem I had with the class: it seemed like it was all just buildup to the final project. It was only then that we got to actually try out some of the programs that we had talked about in class, but at that point there was no chance to play around with them or to try out other methods. Basically my group and I did all our work in Windows Movie Maker and never even looked at another program except when I did some minor image editing in Photoshop.

For a class devoted to multimodality, it seems we were quite limited in what media we worked with. Admittedly much of this issue probably came from the fact that our project consisted almost solely of video and text, but my earlier point about seeing a greater variety of programs early in the class still stands. It was mentioned in the syllabus that we would be learning to use multimodality to enhance play as well as work. This was an aspect of the class I was greatly looking forward to, as I enjoy experimenting with new programs and playing around to see what I can create with them, and I was saddened to learn that this was not a major focus of the course.

Still, overall I enjoyed this class. If nothing else, it made me excited about the possibilities that the web and new technology have to offer. I did learn from my final project, particularly about editing and about cutting to the heart of a topic in order to conserve time and make my arguments more effective. I do wish I’d gotten a chance to mess around with other programs a bit, but I am happy with how my last project turned out, and how this class affected my perspective on the internet and what it really means for the future. We are reaching point where different media and modes of communication can merge seamlessly, and I can honestly say I can’t wait.


Peer Review

Carolyn O’Hearn
9/30/2009

Dear Editor,

I chose to respond to the video of the students responding to the Thomas R. Watson conference. The main focus of the video seemed to be how technology was affecting the classroom as well as the student/teacher relationship.

The creative aspect of the video shone through most clearly at the beginning of the video, in which the opening appeared to be a spoof of the TV show ‘The Office’. However, it didn’t last very long. The majority of the video consisted of the students simply speaking into the camera. I understand that this is traditional when giving interviews, but it did get a little monotonous. Also, the outside of the interviews tended to be simple shots of generic classrooms. I also thought the students were basically repeating the same thing over and over again about the use of technology. It seemed like the students being interviewed all shared the same opinions, and I would’ve liked some variety.

The conceptual core of the video was the discussion of how technology has impacted how students learn and interact with their teachers. Most of the student responses seemed positive, with students describing how they are able to interact with their teachers on Facebook or email, or how they are able to take online quizzes and do assignments completely on the computer.

The credibility of the video wasn’t that strong. I had a hard time just taking the narrator’s word for it that the teachers were not addressing the needs of the students properly. I think it would have done much better if some of the teachers had actually been interviewed, or if there had been specific examples given of teachers not addressing the students’ needs.

The audience seemed to be the teachers who also attended the conference. It seemed that the students wanted to make it clear to them that technology in the classroom can be highly beneficial, and that the students are capable of speaking for themselves.

The video’s timeliness seems to work well, considering technology’s new impact on academics and some university’s rush to embrace it. It is a format alternate to print, showing that a new age is coming, while simultaneously getting the point across about the benefits of technology in the classroom.


Contract

As a team, we plan to have completed the project to the best of our ability by November 11, 2009.
1. All team members will meet (preferably weekly) to discuss the progress made, and collaborate for further development of the project.
2. If any member of the team encounters obstacles in their attempted completion of the project, will contact other team members for advise/help.
3. The group will collaboratively assign roles as necessary when tasks need to be delegated to individuals.
4. All work will be assigned in one week intervals, as to keep group members on a timetable, and provide deadlines to guide the completion of all work.
5. The team contract can be revised at any time, but all team members must agree to any changes.
6. Team members will adhere to this contract, and the timetable set in advance.

Date: __________________________________

Name: __________________________________

Name: __________________________________

Name: __________________________________


Timeline

Rough Timeline
• Sept. 30-All team members sign Team Contract
• Oct.7- find people to interview
o Viola-different gender WoW
o Carolyn-same gender WoW, same gender SecondLife
o Craig-different gender SecondLife
o Each team member create questions that could be asked to the individuals interviewed about their choice of avatar gender within their online environment.
• Oct. 14
o Gain some insight into video editing software, and decide which to use. Each team member will be assigned different software to research.
o Hone video capture skills, so that everyone is able to do an in-game interview.
• Oct. 21
o Conduct interviews with players of avaters, and screencapture
• Oct. 28
o Have a plan for how things are going to be put together
• Nov. 4
o Have video assembled
• Nov. 11 is the workshop due date. You need a functioning version of your project ready by the beginning of class on this date
• Nov. 18
• Nov. 25 Thanksgiving Break
• Dec. 2 Final Project muct be put together


Project Proposal

Student:
Carolyn O’Hearn
(630) 433-7146
ccohear@ilstu.edu
731 Dale St.
Normal, IL 61761
Instructor:
Dr. Cheryl Ball

I would like my project to be focused on webcomics, specifically webcomics that use art in addition to other forms of media, such as music and animation to enhance the comic and make it more appealing to its readers. While most webcomics still stick to traditional graphics, a few have begun to experiment with new kinds of media. Some of these are within the comics themselves, including animations in the panels and interactive comics, while others are programmed within the website itself, such as music set up to play once the comic loads, or animated versions of individual comics. Some webcomics have even had short animated series based off of them, such as PVP.

Some have even turned each comic page into a multimedia piece, such as Legendary Frog, who makes his comic as a flash animation complete with sound effects, and Holy Bibble, who changed from a traditional format into making each comic a flash animation, along with interactive actionscript that allows the viewer to interact with several hidden ‘easter eggs’ within each comic. I feel this not only enhances the comics, but begins to show signs of redefining them, by including new forms of media to reach the reader. While most webcomic creators have stuck to the traditional way of posting simple comic pages, a brave handful of artists have begun to try new ideas. The point of this project would be to discuss how the different media affects the quality of the comic, or how the very idea of what makes a comic could be changed by this.

I would like to present this project as either a comic, through a series of pages posted to my blog. Or, I could make a simple flash animation representing a comic book, complete with moving pages and sound effects, and show the comic pages that way.


My Top Idea

After reviewing the three ideas I came up with earlier, I decided that I like my second idea best: creating a short webcomic. I already have experience with digital coloring and assembling comic pages, and while my art is not the best, it is coherent enough to carry ideas well. I could make several pages and put them in order on a website or my blog. I would use the comic to discuss the growing trend of online comics that achieve an audience online with free achieves, rather than getting traditional deals with publishers. I feel this is a prime example of how the development of the internet is affecting traditional methods of getting information and entertainment to the masses, something I think Kairos would appreciate, particularly in the Topoi category.


Three Pieces of Digital Media

Obama Budget Cuts Visualization: I like how this video uses simple visual representation to explain a complex topic to it’s viewers. I also know that the person who created the video runs a reputable finance website (I Will Teach You to Be Rich) and has a solid understanding of money, making this a credible source.

Penny Arcade Comic: The Origin Of The CD-Keys, Part Three: This webcomic centers mostly around video games, and it is a well-known fact that the two creators have been gamers for many years and are well-versed on the subject of digital rights. The comic effectively uses art (as well as a great deal of humor) to inform the reader, and this end to a three-part section of the comic was specifically created to explain the topic to its readers.

Information R/evolution: I got to this video by going off of “The Machine is Us/ing Us”. I feel it does an excellent job explaining how freely available information has become due to the advent of the internet, and how the lack of material restraint helps information flow and develop more freely.


Project Ideas

  1. As I mentioned in class, I could do a video detailing the different forms of entertainment being affected by the advent of the internet, such as film, comics, video games, etc. I’d like to focus specifically on how this affects how these works are published. I know that this is a very broad topic, so I wouldn’t be able to go into much detail with an individual topic. I would have to briefly give the basics of each one.
  2. I could also explore the growing trend of online webcomics. Since I already have experience drawing and making comics in Paint Shop Pro, I could make a comic book on the topic and detail the way these comics are run today and how they could impact the industry. (I think it would be especially interesting to look at how quality control could be determined, as there are no publishers determining what gets put online.) I could even put my comic on my blog or on a website and see what kind of feedback I get.
  3. I could also examine how websites like youtube open up more options for filmakers by allowing them to expose their work to a vast audience and get immediate feedback for free. I could do this by setting up a youtube channel and creating some short videos discussing the topic. If I’m lucky, I may even get some feedback from viewers or from my fellow classmates.

Syllabus Response

I’m actually really looking forward to this class.  I’ve always loved working with technology, and I already have some experience with video editing from high school, and other forms of digital art. So when I learned from the syllabus that we would be exploring  composition in different media I began to really get excited about this course. I’ve always loved traditional writing, but finding new ways to carry a message really interests me.

The goals of this course and what I take away from it, are things I fully intend to make use of after I graduate. My dream in life is to be a writer, but at the rate technology is developing I realize that old ways of publishing books may soon become obsolete. In order to keep up with the new world, I will need to understand and be able to use a variety of media to get my work out there. I’d also like to work with a wide variety of media, such as video and art, and I’d like to learn more about that. I also feel being required to keep a blog will help me stay diligent in my writing and maintaining a website. Not only that, I have already begun to learn new ways of using the internet that will help me every day. (I learned how to use RSS feeds from just the first lesson.)

Out of the projects I see ahead, I’m really looking forward to the minute-long video project. Because of my previous work with video, I think understanding the process should be fairly easy, which should allow me to exercise my creativity a bit. I think I’ll focus it on how more and more forms of media are making their way to the internet, such as news, comics, videos, and prose. Finally, I’m also looking forward to having my work held up for review by my classmates and my instructor so that I may move ahead in ways I could not do on my own.