Web 2.0

December 2, 2008

According to Wikipedia, the term Web. 2.0 “refers to a perceived second generation of web-based communities and hosted services — such as social-networking sites, wikis and folksonomies — which aim to facilitate collaboration and sharing between users.” Classic Web 2.0 sites and services include Wikipedia, YouTube, the orginal Napster, BitTorrent, Flickr and blogs.

With that in mind, please watch the video, “The Machine is Us/ing Us”. One of the most widely viewed videos online, it was produced by Professor Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. The video both explains and demonstrates Web 2.0. After viewing it, please write a paragraph or two commenting on the points made in the piece. Why is this relevant to digital media convergence, especially as we build sites with HTML?


One More Story

November 7, 2008

(Banner by Meaghan Britain)

Okay, now we’re almost at the summit of our attempt to scale Mt. Multimedia. We started with digital imaging, moved on to digital photography, storyboarding with text and stills, then entered the world of audio and motion with our digital stories. Ahead we have the video project which will be our most sophisticated production yet. (And waiting around the corning is building your personal website, which will tap all of your newly acquired skills, knowledge and sensibilities).

So a video project requires that all-important ingredient for production — an idea. More specifically, it requires a story. That’s the non-technical, artistic side of any kind of production work. We have made some progress in this area. In fact, many of you have demonstrated a strong grasp of it with your digital stories (which I’m enjoying). You have one more chance in this class to hit on something solid.

Your blog assignment is to write a 1 – 3 paragraph concept summary of an idea you’re considering shooting for your video project. Be sure to use language to really sell the idea. Follow these instructions:

1) Write your piece so that it’s Third Person POV (no “my,” “I” sentences).

2) Start the piece with a high level, thematic statement (“One thing people all never seem to have enough of is time.” “Human beings are born with an innate fear of darkness.”)

3) Say how this will be a story told, and describe a little bit about the flow of the piece.

4) Give us a couple good details that really help the reader visualize some important scenes in the piece.

As always, contact me if you’re confused or want to try out some ideas. if you’re having trouble getting started, here are some suggestions:

1) Retell a myth, fairy tale, legend (even an urban legend) or joke. All of those things usually have built-in story shape.

2) Think of a story that uses these familiar themes/devices: fish out of water (the struggles of a person who is out of his/her element); the quest or journey; the odd couple (people who see the world differently suddenly thrown together); stranded (people reacting to being stuck somewhere); revenge (someone wronged looking for satisfaction).

3) Remember: You can always do a news-style story, or a non-fiction profile of person, place, event, etc.

Good luck. I look forward to seeing your ideas.


The Stuff of Good Stories

October 24, 2008

(Note: Banner by Mark)

This week, I introduced you to some of the basic principles of digital storytelling. More specifically, we’re turning our attention to stories that have the following elements:

1) Still photos as key visual element

2) A linear timeline (hit play and it goes)

3) Voice over narration

4) Interview audio (quotes and sound bites)

5) Music

6) Sound design

7) Transition effects, pans and zooms

Now I want you to find online stories that have these qualities (not full-motion video, but stills), and post their links here. I also want you to write whether you think the piece succeeds or falls short of its potential. Explain why you have arrived at either conclusion.

In your search, try the following sources:



This American Life video podcasts on iTunes (just search in iTunes)

Magnum in Motion video podcasts on iTunes (just search in iTunes)

Some suggestions: Check out the multimedia section of newspaper sites. Try YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe, or other video sites. Check other podcast offerings on iTunes. Try advertising agency sites; film festivals; movie or TV show sites.

Remember that to post a link you can cut-and-paste the link directly into your post. If it’s too long or you want to specifically label it, use the HTML tags:

<a href=”URLgoesHERE”>anytextyouwant</a>

I look forward to your discoveries.


What’s Your Story?

October 3, 2008

As we discussed in class yesterday, there are some key qualities that are found in successful stories:

1) A narrative arc (conflict, crisis, resolution)—especially in fictional stories. Another way to think about it: a beginning, a middle and an end.

2) An angle (some specific point or response to a specific question)—especially in journalistic stories.

3) Specific details that illustrate universal themes—found in all stories that resonate with wide audiences.

With these qualities in mind, as well as the basic requirements of Project 2 (15 images, text), share your story ideas here in one or two paragraphs. Just describe your subject and tell us how you intend to craft it into a story. Or give us a short summary of your story and describe the pictures you will pursue.

Do this as soon as possible so I can respond. Also, let’s treat this like a workshop. That is, read the other story ideas and comment on them if you feel you have something to contribute.

Remember, the project is due next Thursday so it would be ideal to shoot this weekend! I will give you feedback publicly, on the blog, so be sure to check back for my response. 


An Eye for Composition

October 1, 2008

To summarize what I said in class yesterday about this next project, there are three aspects of new media production involved:

1) The technical (being able to create these slides in Photoshop and use a digital camera).

2) The storytelling skills (creating a compelling story, with a narrative arc, using images and words).

3) The aesthetic (taking good, well-composed pictures and placing them in appealing slide layouts).

This exercise will address the latter item; specifically, it will look at composition. There are many compositional devices and principles used by photographers as they shoot: the Rule of Thirds, Symmetry, Balance, Diagonals, Disappearing Lines, Patterns, etc. The following links explore and define these devices. Please read these pages closely and study the examples. Then, find 2 pictures that are posted online which demonstrate one or more of the compositional approaches. Post those links with a brief description.

Basic Composition Guidelines

More Good Guidelines

Fill Your Frame!

Find Fresh Angles!

When looking for examples to post, DO NOT SIMPLY GOOGLE “LOWER THIRDS” OR SOME OTHER KEYWORD. Instead, let’s go to sites like Flickr (click on the EXPLORE tab) and find them.

Remember the tag code for posting links:

<a href=”http://blahblahblah.com”>Some Name for the Link Goes Here</a>


Convergence is a State of Mind

September 23, 2008

There are many provocative ideas raised by writer Henry Jenkins (Founder and Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT) in the opening chapter of his book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. I hope by now you have had an opportunity to read it. Titled “Worship at the Altar of Convergence,” the introduction reminds us that convergence is more than just the notion of various media technologies evolving into a single apparatus. Jenkins states:

“I will argue here against the idea that convergence should be understood primarily as a technological process bringing together mulitple media functions within the same devices. Instead, convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content.”


“Convergence occurs within the brains of individual consumers and through their social interactions with others.”

To begin building his case, Jenkins discusses “participatory culture,” “buzz,” “expanding the storytelling experience,” “the Black Box Fallacy” and “fandom”. He says, “I have watched fans move from the invisible margins of popular culture and into the center of current thinking about media production and consumption.”

After our discussion in class today, I wanted to hear from more of you. How is this statement about fandom real for you? I suspect everyone in this class considers himself/herself a fan of something—a band, a movie, a series of books or writer, a TV show, a sports team, etc. Certainly, we are all the “individual consumers” mentioned above. For your post, tell us how your experience as a fan has changed. How have new media channels and formats allowed you to participate as a fan in a variety of contexts?  Has this participation somehow changed/impacted/influenced the experience of other fans or the object of your fan affections? Most importantly, how are you creating convergence in your head by seeking out the fan-related media you want and cobbling together a unique experience?

Tell us about it.


Photoshop Stuff

September 16, 2008

Here are a bunch of decent Photoshop tutorial links. There is no need for a response, unless you want to make recommendations to your classmates. If you have other tutorials or anything that may help them design good banners or DVD covers, please share the links.

Of these links, I found the tricks offered in the first two especially useful (fade images together and extract filter). Remember, there are many ways to do any one thing with Photoshop. These are just suggested approaches that, in my experience, get pretty good results if done right.

How to Fade Images Together
Cut Out Items Using the Extract Filter
Learn the Basics of Curves
Create a Zoom Effect
Easy Way to Straighten Images
Change Eye Color
Leave One Color in a Black and White Image
Type on a Curved Path

Whole Bunch of Photoshop Tutorials (some repeats)

Be sure to try at least a few of these out! Thanks.