Archive for September, 2008


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.


Design Intervention

September 12, 2008

As we explore the technical side of design, we can’t lose sight of the aesthetic aspect. We talked about the four basic elements of design: line, shape, text, texture. We also looked at the four basic principles: balance, unity, contrast, value and color. For this post, go online and find design examples that you admire. Post links to two of them here, explaining why you chose them. Reference the design elements and/or principles that seem to apply.

Keep in mind your banner assignment. Remember that I want you to come up with three possible solutions for our design problem. These preliminary designs, or “comps,” should be significantly different—an adjustment of text or background color won’t cut it.

So, when looking for designs to post here, keep in mind the horizontal orientation of a banner, like the one we’re working on. Look at how other designers handle the challenges of the wide-but-narrow layout. Even borrow elements from their approach—after all, a good way to learn how to do something well is by studying the pros and using their tricks, until you develop your own. The challenge is recognizing good design to begin with. (While you’re at it, start thinking about a fake DVD cover you want to make for an imaginary product–like a documentary or behind-the-scenes video of something you’re really into as a FAN).

Remember that when posting links, type in the HTML code, rather than cut-and-paste it.

<a href=””>Some Name for the Link Goes Here</a>

Finally, for extra bonus points, find one example of the overused design trends we looked at in class, referring to this link.

Thanks. I look forward to your examples. Here are some sites I look at for design inspiration:


Say Hello to Photoshop!

September 10, 2008

Okay. We now know that there are two kinds of digital images: bitmap and vector. We also know that Photoshop is the most popular tool for creating bitmap images. Yesterday I introduced you to some bitmap file formats: jpg, gif and, the Photoshop development file, psd. 

So now we begin our journey into the realm of Photoshop. As you may already know, there are plenty of Photoshop tutorial materials online. Some are better than others. I think this one is useful, providing us with a high level look at Photoshop, particularly the tools in the toolbar, and helping us all start from the same place of knowledge. Of course, actually using the tools is a more effective way to build working knowledge, but this is a good way to quickly gain a basic understanding of the interface layout, the tools and their functions.

So the assignment is: Please watch the first 23 minutes of this video. Then write a post describing a tool or feature and its function. Make sure you don’t write about a tool that someone has already addressed in their post.


Bitmap and Vector

September 5, 2008
Yesterday we learned about the two types of digital images: bitmap and vector. Bitmaps are pixel based; vectors are mathematically derived. These image types are found throughout the Internet and in all digital media productions that contain graphic elements. 

For this series of posts, find and post links to an example of each—one vector-based production and one that uses bitmaps. Or, find one that appears to use both and identify in your comments how they are integrated in the piece. Tell us why you believe the graphics are either bitmap or vector. What characteristics do they exhibit that demonstrate your understanding of these two image types?

Include links in your posts. To do that, simply TYPE (NOTE: DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE FOLLOWING LINE OF CODE—TYPE IT) the following and insert the complete URL of the page you want us to visit between the quotation marks (including the “http://&#8221; part).

<a href=”URLgoesHERE”>link</a>

You can put any words you like where I have “link”. Happy hunting!


Welcome to Your Class Blog!

September 3, 2008

So this is where we’ll be having some interesting discussions throughout the semester—our very own class blog.

Blog, as I’m sure you know, is short for web log. The name reflects its common use as an online diary or journal. All posts are displayed in chronological order, with the most recent postings on top. Older posts gradually drop lower on the display list as new posts are added.

I’d like you to post to our blog regularly. In order to keep the quality high and provide you with some degree of flexibility, I’m allowing you to pass on posting three times this semester. Choose wisely. If you don’t have a lot to say, or anything interesting to add to a particular discussion, maybe wait until the next topic is posted to do your thing.

One thing that you should keep in mind is that a post must have some substance. It can’t just be a single word response. More specifically, I’d like all our posts to be a good, solid paragraph, least three sentences long. Use proper grammar and spelling; please, no textspeak or emoticons. Ours is what is sometimes called a “literates-only” blog. Posts will be given a score with a range of 1 – 5. For a 5, the post has to be thoughtful, relevant and generally outstanding. Most posts will probably receive 3’s or 4’s. Posts that are off-point, not well thought out, riddled with typos and other errors will earn a 1 or 2.

All right, let’s get started:

As we will learn in class tomorrow, “digital media” can be broadly described as communications that are either created with, or converted into, digital code. They can be mathematically described. According to writer Lev Manovich’s Five Priciples of New Media, these objects are programmable—manipulated with a computer. With that very broad definition in mind, please tell us in a brief paragraph or two the extent of your experience working with digital media (digital imaging, video editing, desktop publishing, audio editing, etc.). Please mention specific tools and applications. Thanks!