Touch the firehose of ds106, the most recent flow of content from all of the blogs syndicated into ds106. As of right now, there have been 92166 posts brought in here going back to December 2010. If you want to be part of the flow, first learn more about ds106. Then, if you are truly ready and up to the task of creating web art, sign up and start doing it.

  1. mitchellwoll

    Digital Storytelling Portfolio

    Here is a link to the Digital Storytelling Portfolio, my last assignment of this course.It highlights some of my favorite pieces from this quick 8-week semester. for following!
  2. mitchellwoll

    Week 8 Reflection: Final Reflection

    "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."- SenecaThe Digital Storytelling course was different than all of my other graduate courses because it was not hosted within an LMS. Instead, the course was "hosted" on social media, specifica...
  3. mitchellwoll

    Reading Response: Chapter 8 – “Social learning and new literacies in formal education” / War of Art, Forward

    Reading through Chapter 8, I see that many of the strategies used in the Master's coursework and Quest 2 Learn were used in this Digital Storytelling class. In this course, students were asked to develop “a digital media artifact of a kind they previously knew nothing about" (Lankshear, 2011, p. 232). Huh, sounds familiar.

    Firstly, to confirm mine and other classmates’ assessments of the “push” and “pull” models of instruction last week, Colin Lankshear and Michele Knoble write that some push is needed, saying “naturally, there has to be some ‘push’” (2011, p. 232). I agree that in most instances of instruction, there is some element of ‘push’ required. In high school there is a lot, as student are required to takes certain curriculum. In undergrad programs, students must complete certain courses listed in their “general education,” or, as in my case, their “liberal arts core.” Lankshear and Knoble write the some push is required in this Master’s program. My sister who is currently pursuing her doctorate says she is influenced by push as well. In my new job, I experienced some push during the onboarding process.

    After reading Chapter 7, I think readers of Lankshear and Knoble want to vilify push because A.) it’s technique can be rather ineffective, and B.) we’ve all experienced forms of push, and it doesn’t feel very good! Nevertheless, I think if it is used in limited quantities, push can be helpful. It should be used as gentle guidance, rather than forcefully jamming facts, practices, philosophies, etc. into brains. Instruction should, as Lankshear and Knoble write, “try to promote as much immersion as possible in the logic of ‘pull’” (2011, p. 232). Unfortunately, trying to pursue pull in certain situations, like high school, may be met by barriers of standardization. Circumventing these barriers may require a lot of creativity on the part of teachers. (I am not a teacher, so I cannot precisely examine or critique how this could happen, but I am sure it could be a difficult process.)

    Moving on, Chapter 8 really describes many of the strategies and outcomes of this summer’s Digital Storytelling course, especially in the way Lankshear and Knoble outline the the Master's coursework: “1. To address the theme of ‘new’ literacies… in theory and practice,” and “2.) To provide an introduction to literacy research” (2011, p. 233). Additionally, they write of Q2L that the learning was facilitated through “sharing, reflecting, responding to and providing feedback, evaluation, and distributing knowledge and understanding” (2011, p. 248).

    Altogether, I think Lankshear and Knoble accurately describe what I think  transpired in the Digital Storytelling class; students became “full participants in… social practice, acquiring deep kinds of learning… where participants learn to do and be in ways of competent insiders of practice” (2011, p. 252). We may not have become exactly “Digital Storytellers” – if there is such a Discourse – however, I think we learned deeply by “doing” new literacies in the form of telling stories digitally.

    The final chapter was kind of funny to read, because my Week 6 reflection for this course described how ‘meta,’ or self-referential this course – and even this program – feels. This chapter really affirms that. At certain moments, I commonly murmured a popularized phrase, “Ah, I see what you did there.”

    The War of Art, Forward
    In an effort to follow this notion of being self-referential, I thought instead of trying to find another piece of text online about writer’s block, I would read the Forward to The War of Art by Robert McKee. In it, McKee describes his impression of Steven Pressfield and his book.

    McKee summarizes each of the three parts to The War of Art, as well as his personal experiences with the book and other books that Pressfield has written (The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, Tides of War). Of the first part, my favorite part, he writes “Pressfield labels the enemy of creativity Resistance his all-encompassing term for what Freud called the Death Wish – the destructive force inside… that rises whenever we consider a though, long term course of action” (2003). He writes about how Part Two is about the “campaign of the professional,” and how Part Three informs us that inspiration is divine (though McKee disagrees, saying inspiration manifests through talent).

    Reading the Forward prompted me to reflect on how The War of Art is constructed to influence the reader to pursue their creative goals, and how much of Pressfield’s advice about beating Resistance, and “turning pro,” is a form of “push” instruction. McKee writes that Pressfield demands “preparation, order, patience, endurance, acting in the face of fear and failure” (2003). This type of insight can be interpreted as the guidance creators need. However, the remaining methods that the reader can implement to achieve their creative goals follows more of a “pull” model.

    It could be a stretch. At times, its been hard to relate New Literacies and The War of Art. Still, I wonder how self-help books, like The War of Art, could be interpreted in the forms of “push” vs. “pull” models of instruction. (Or even cook books!) They have a proclivity to stuff the mind with practices and philosophies, however, they are sought after, and can be open-ended.

    Lankshear, C. & Knoble, M. (2011). New Literacies: Concepts and Theories. In New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed., p.232, 233, 248, 252). New York, New York: Open University Press.

    Pressfield, S. (2003). The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Forward). New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing.
  4. mitchellwoll

    ds106 Writing Assignment: The Enemy is a Very Good Teacher

    The Enemy is a Very Good Teacher

    ds106 Writing Assignment:

    This quote from the Dali Lama is the epigraph of Part One of Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. I pay special attention to epigraphs (the quotes at the beginning of chapters, novels, even films) because they represent the story thematically. Of the three parts in Pressfields book about breaking through creative blocks, Part One is my favorite because, as this quote signifies, it identifies an enemy which we can learn from.

    Part One personifies writer’s block, or creative block, as “Resistance.” Throughout the first 57 pages, Pressfield describes Resistance’s traits in such a manner to which it becomes a character. While reading about Resistance, a struggling artist (for brevity, I’ll say "artist" though it can be a writer, musician, entrepreneur, etc.) no longer blames himself or herself for feeling uninspired, or procrastinating, or inventing obstacles. Instead, he or she can visualize these problems as being the influence of a conspiring enemy. An artist can then re-align his or her motives to conquer this devilish Resistance.

    I like this method of transforming the abstract and often difficult to decipher concept of creative block into a concrete and understandable persona. Often times menacing incidences or concepts are made more concrete using personification, like evil as being the Devil. Think of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hell, even hurricanes get names! As with Pressfield’s characterization of Resistance, we use these concrete personas to better learn and understand their influence and implications.


    To conclude my ds106 assignments this semester, I figured I should select a writing assignment. After all, my focal theme is writer's block, so it felt natural. Throughout this semester I have been consistently referring to the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield because I selected it as my additional text for the Digital Storytelling projects. Logically, I wanted to use a quote from this book and to write about what it meant to me.

    However, weirdly, I did not use a quote from Pressfield himself, but rather a quote he used to convey his personification of Resistance. My interpretation of this quote (as remixed by Pressfield), as well as the rest of Part One, was an idea mulling around in my head since the first time I read The War of Art several years ago. Pressfield's personification, I think, is a brilliant method for motivating his readers. They become vengeful about their creative process, rather than self-deprecating.

    In addition to my three paragraph explanation of the quote, I went a bit outside the requirements of the assignment. I thought I should include a energizing graphic to further my interpretation. I chose angry wolf eyes as the background to the quote because I felt this visage could be perceived in two ways: either viewers identify the angry eyes as the enemy standing in their way and who must be destroyed, or they identify the eyes as their own resentful and ambitious glare toward the enemy. In either case, I think it gives the quote, "The enemy is a very good teacher," by the Dalai Lama more grit.

    Writing is something I am very passionate about, hence why I chose writer's block as my focal theme. I felt as though this assignment came rather naturally to me. I can always write decently well about something I feel strongly about. In fact, the writing portion of this assignment was the easiest part. Creating the visual was actually more difficult; I had some troubles manipulating the font.

    I feel really good about this assignment. The visual looks great, and I think I explain my interpretation of the quote well enough. I did surprise myself while writing for this assignment. The part about personifying entities like the Devil, and the Grim Reaper was not something I had thought about until I started the assignment. So, Pressfield is correct in that if you put in the work, inspiration will take.
  5. mitchellwoll

    ds106 Visual Assignment: Tied Down

    Tied Downds106 Visual Assignment:Adapt a Artist's Work"Tied Down" describes how the internet can be a distraction from our goals. The message of the image may not completely align with the content we are covering in Digital Storytelling, after all, we ...
  6. mitchellwoll

    Digital Critique 9: Honest Trailers – Gone Girl

    *Disclaimer: This digital story and its critique contains spoilers for the film Gone Girl.

    Digital Story:
    Honest Trailers - Gone Girl

    Honest Trailers is a series of YouTube videos that parody movies trailers while critiquing and teasing movies for their plot, acting, special effects, etc. I was hesitant to select Honest Trailers as a digital story to critique, because it can be interpreted as mean-spirited (and sometimes it is for the especially terrible movies). Yet, I also figured that if Honest Trailers wanted to criticize movies, the series could also face some criticism of its own.

    There are many Honest Trailer uploaded to YouTube, ranging from fairly older movies (I saw Terminator 2: Judgement Day – and early 90s film) to more recent movies. Movies are mainly selected by the Honest Trailer creators by request, as seen at the start of the trailer. I picked the Honest Trailer for the film Gone Girl, because I personally really liked the movie for its story, acting, and direction.

    Remix Practice:
    Movie Trailer

    The title says it's a movie trailer, but this one has a different kind of spin. You could argue that Honest Trailers is mean, and does not express any type of affection for the movies it critiques. However, perhaps this level of criticism, or poking-fun, does require some amount of love for the movies. At the very least, the creators of Honest Trailers express a fandom of movie-making in general. Luckily, the Honest Trailers creators seemed to have liked Gone Girl, so they were not heavy-handed in their critique.

    • Expressing a fan identity & expressing enjoyment of a movie – Judging by the fun tones and exclamations of the video, the makers seem to be fans. Or, as noted, they are at least passionate about movie-making. Furthermore, they are appeasing fan requests to critique Gone Girl.
    • Translating an enjoyed narrative from one medium to another & expressing a movie director or movie maker identity – The makers of Honest Trailers do express some enjoyed narrative and identity as movie makers explicitly by referencing the director of Gone Girl David Fincher’s methods and mannerism. For example they make fun of his use of “smooth camera pans, cool color palate, a dank abandoned building, nihilism, sociopaths, low-lite interiors, ambient music, haze, and general fucked-up-ed-ness.”

    Because on the video editing, as well as the humor, I am assessing Honest Trailers - Gone Girl on Jason Ohler’s criteria of Story, Originality, Creativity and Voice, and Sense of Audience.

    One noteworthy thing about some of the Honest Trailer videos is that they do not exactly fit to format of a traditional movie trailer. These Honest Trailers actually provide a silly synopsis of the movie, rather than provide an actual trailer. In fact, as mentioned, this Honest Trailer spoils major plot twists in the film. It’s okay though, because they did provide a “Rated S for Spoliers” rating at the beginning. Of course, the trailer relies heavily on the movie’s own story as Honest Trailers tease and parody what it covers.

    Originality, Creativity, and Voice
    Although the Honest Trailer is more of a summary of Gone Girl, it does hit some of the beats of a traditional movie trailer. It uses quick cuts of different scenes just as a movie trailer would, and the deep, gravely, “in-a-world” narrative voiceover, as well as some of the typical language of a trailer, like "settle in for a film," "experience a story" "based on" and "starring..."

    The humor is wonderful (in fact, this is the first purposefully humorous digital story I have critiqued so far). I think humor requires a great deal of creativity. Aristotle has a quote “the secret to humor is surprise,” and I think it takes quite a lot of creativity to surprise people these days in such a saturated world of remixes. I think my favorite line is at the very beginning of the video: “Based on the book everyone’s mom read on the beach comes the best-acted, coolest-looking, most well-written Lifetime movie ever made…”

    Sense of Audience
    The makers of Honest Trailers have a great sense of audience as they took up their fans requests in critiquing Gone Girl. This is evidenced at the start of the movie when it displays multiple Twitter messages by fans. One fan even asks if they could be in the intro. The video also makes funny remarks about the movie’s audience too, saying “settle in for the film that had audiences everywhere wondering if their significant other was planning to kill them,” and “experience the film that critics are still debating for being pro or anti-feminist.”
  7. mitchellwoll

    Reading Response: Chapter 7 – “Social learning, push and pull, and building platforms for collaborative learning” / War of Art, Pages 149 – 165

    In Chapter 7, Colin Lankshear and Michele Knoble describe how the internet can be utilized as a platform to establish social learning. So far this semester we have discussed literacy, Discourse, social practices, remixes, and collaborative literature. To me, social learning really culminates many of these ideas together.

    Although the concept of social learning has several conceptualizations, I think the one with the best foundations is what Lanksher and Knoble write about Brown and Adler; “By social learning… learning based on the assumption that our understanding of concepts and processes is constructed socially in conversations about the matters in question” (2011, p. 218). Lankshear and Knoble later write that social learning can be leveraged by virtual environments, giving learners chances to “participate in ‘flows of action’ where they get ‘encultured’ into a practice” (2011, p. 229) Clearly we have experience with this by taking courses online in the Learning Technologies program, but this also reminded me of two major assignments in two classes I’ve taken so far in this program.

    First, I was reminded of the Digital Culture and Social Media course I took a few semesters ago, where we built an online environment for social learning. More specifically, these were called PLNs, or personal learning networks. I built a discussion forum using Google Groups for a budding book club at my company. It survived a few months, but it eventually withered away.

    For this PLN, the learning objective I established was “After the first month of the book club, the book club’s readers will be able to interpret, evaluate, and state opinions about the text.” I was going to achieve this by having the club’s readers post recollections, assessments, and arguments about our selected books in the forum.

    After reading Lankshear and Knoble, I see that posting on the discussion board were social practices of a book club member Discourse. By posting on the forums, the book club members were successfully demonstrating their literacy as readers. I even had a table listing Overt and Covert Objectives; Overt being the social practice of posting, and Covert being the internal human elements Lankshear and Knoble describe in Chapter 2.

    This chapter also reminded me of affinity spaces, a concept I covered a bit more in depth last semester in my Games and Learning class. In this class, I followed a fan-made discussion forum surrounding the video game Skyrim. I assessed the forum under the criteria of an affinity space. Here are the characteristics I felt applied:

    • Affinity spaces are a ‘fuzzy concept’ in the logical sense that they are defined by fuzzy boundaries and not necessary and sufficient conditions. – Gee& Hayes
    • A common endeavor for which at least many people in the space have a passion – not race, class, gender, or disability – is primary. – Gee& Hayes
    • Affinity spaces are not separated by age. – Gee& Hayes
    • Newbies, masters, and everyone else share a common space. – Gee& Hayes
    • The development of both specialist and broad, general knowledge are encouraged, and specialist knowledge is pooled. - Gee& Hayes
    • A view of learning that is individually proactive, but does not exclude help, is encouraged. – Gee& Hayes
    • People get encouragement from an audience and feedback from peers, though everyone plays both roles at different times. – Gee& Hayes
    • Not everyone must contribute, but all must believe they are free to contribute when ready and what they contribute will be appropriately valued. – Jenkins
    • Affinity spaces are distinct from formal education systems in several ways. While formal education is often too conservative, the informal learning within popular culture is often experimental. – Jenkins
    • We want to argue that human learning becomes deep, and often life changing when it is connected to a nurturing affinity space. -– Gee& Hayes

    Through this criteria, affinity spaces seem to demonstrate, as Lankshear and Knoble point out, “not only ‘learning about’ the subject matter but also ‘learning to be’ a full participant in the field” (2011, p. 218). Although I was only playing a video game and sharing my thoughts and experiences with other gamers, I was finding my own place in the community of Skyrim fans.

    During the Games and Learning course, I often compared online affinity spaces to PLNs. What I’m now interpreting is that PLNs and affinity spaces fall under this umbrella of social learning. They both seem to be products of the leveraged uses of social learning online.

    The War of Art, Pages 149 – 165
    The final pages of The War of Art do not concern much of the content about social learning that Lankshear and Knoble cover in Chapter 7. Most of Pressfield's book deals with literacies, Discourse, and social practices of being a creator. Steven Pressfield closes the book writing, “Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action” (2003, p. 165). His book acts as the encoded text for this creator Discourse, but does not provide a social learning environment. A writer, painter, scientist, etc. most definitely could find this type of environment online.

    Nonetheless, Chapter 7 does make reference to this interesting notion of “grit.” Lankshear and Knoble write that “grit” is “a disposition that combines ‘persistence plus passion,” (2011, p. 223) and a “perseverance and passion for long term goals” (2011, p. 223). The last pages, and the entirety of The War of Art for that matter, are all about grit. Page after page, grit, grit, grit. Although, much of this grit is not for the “social, economic, ‘globalizing’” reasons that Lankshear and Knoble describe. Pressfield writes “to labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution” (2003, p. 151). Yet, the whole concept behind Pressfield’s The War of Art can almost be best summed up in a few words in Chapter 7: “Pursuing mastery requires ‘thousands of hours of practice’ in addressing issues and problems, in trial and error, learning how others do things, and so on.” (2011, p. 224).

    Lankshear, C. & Knoble, M. (2011). New Literacies: Concepts and Theories. In New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed., p.218, 223, 224, 229). New York, New York: Open University Press.

    Pressfield, S. (2003). The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (p. 151, 165). New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing.

  8. mitchellwoll

    The Daily Create No. 11: “M”

    MThe Daily Create Assignment:Make a support poster!Much of the imagery on the Public Domain Review Web site is rather complex, and could potentially be visually overwhelming if tampered with too much. Because of this, I figured adding a simple quo...
  9. mitchellwoll

    Week 5 Reflection: A Rough One

    This week seemed more difficult than previous ones to find the kind of mojo to complete assignments. Even now as I write this, I struggle to find concise thoughts and the words to explain them.

    I think the biggest struggle was when the book I’m using as the linchpin to my focal theme, writer’s block, could not be related in my mind to Chapter 5 of Lankshear’s and Knoble’s New Literacies in my reading response this week. One classmate did find a relation, and it was a great one about how artists, musicians, and other creators collaboratively push the boundaries.

    I felt as though my ds106 mashup assignment was lacking in creativity this week. It was nearly a re-creation my video assignment. I’m starting to wonder if I should abandon my focal these for the remaining assignments. The concept feels a bit used up at this point. Maybe I should try something else that will inspire me more. After all, I have completed the minimum amount of assignments for the focal theme.

    The subject of my critique was also maybe not the best choice either. I selected the Green Day drum remix because of my fascination with John Phillip Sousas encouragement of amateur musicianship. As I was explaining my critique to my girlfriend, she asked “but how is it a story?” Of course she isn’t as familiar with the Digital Storytelling class, but she had a point. This remix did lack a story. I thought I could have probably found a better example of a musical mashup that did provide story.

    Even when it came to responding to other classmates’ critiques and reading responses, I struggled to formulate feedback. My responses felt very obvious (“no duh” I like to refer to them as), or off-base. I don’t know – I really slogged through this week. It was a rough one for some reason. Maybe someone could explain why.

  10. mitchellwoll

    Reading Response: Chapter 5 – “Blogs and wikis – Participatory and collaborative literacy practices” / The Ethos of the Internet and a Culture of Innovation

    In Chapter 5, Colin Lanskear and Michele Knoble examine collaborative online literature, highlighting mainly blogs and wikis. Their dissection of the Blogging Project Runway blog reminded me of some of the blogs I currently follow, and some others I used to follow. These blogs are as formal as economist and columnist Paul Krugman’s blog on The New York Time’s website, or the All Things Avs blog on the Denver Post’s website. More informally would be BloodyElbow, or a blog I have since grown out of, Mile High Hockey. Each range in the way they are written. As Lankshear and Knoble note, a blog is a medium, or a “channel through which people can communicate or extend their expressions” (2011, p. 144) Different writing practices can be done on a blog, like journalism, or writing a diary.

    Krugman’s blog, for example, is hosted on The New York Time’s website, so, Krugman, a widely respected economist and Noble Prize winner, only uses it as an extra avenue of expressing his opinion. The All Things Avs blog is perhaps a tad less formal because it’s content has to do with the Colorado Avalanche hockey team, yet because it is hosted on an esteemed newspaper’s website, the beat sports writers use it as a way to provide extra notes on the team which would not normally warrant their own published story.

    BloodyElbow, an MMA blog, and Mile High Hockey, a fan-made Colorado Avalanche blog, are more informal. Today they are more formal than they used to be seven or eight years ago when I first started reading them. Nonetheless, they have since become more journalistic, but compared to The New York Times and the Denver Post, these blogs are used more casually. Both blogs have established their own affinity spaces. Whereas people may ready Krugman’s blog or the All Things Avs blogs more for news, blogs like BloodyElbow and Mile High Hockey have established their own fan communities. Lankshear and Knoble point out that blogs can be written and considered “in terms of interactional features and readers’ experiences” (2011, p. 147). For example, on BloodyElbow, readers regularly leave comments expressing their opinions or humorous takes about the blog entry. Sometimes these opinions or jokes are recycled in other entries, and sometimes they become so common in the blog that they are an established opinion or joke of the blog.

    Lankshear and Knobles examination of wikis also reminded me of wikis I have used, like Wookiepedia (love the name), A Wiki of Ice and Fire, and Muse Wiki. But the collaboration in these websites reminded me of some of my professional experiences using collaborative literature. They already mention Googledocs at the end of Chapter 5, saying Googledocs “enable all manner of collaborative writing practices” (2011, p. 172). I used Googledocs at an employer to document the statuses of projects and keep co-workers involved in their progress. I also used it once academically to write a couple reports with two other students (here and here).

    My current employer is using Salesforce like a wiki, providing all employees access to create and edit articles which can be used to help customers with technical questions about their software. Similarly to wikis, these articles are a “basis for further explanation and extension of knowledge” (2011, p. 164). Through constant changes by other employees, technical documentation becomes adaptable and consistently up-to-date. I can see how the collaborative ethos is being utilized more and more in the professional world.

    The War of Art, Pages 118 to 148
    The Ethos of the Internet and a Culture of Innovation
    Unfortunately, I could not relate the concepts of online collaborative literature with the next few pages of Steve Pressfield’s The War of Art. It was my goal each week to do so, but I simply cannot make this comparison this week. In these pages, Pressfield describes how inspiration comes from outside sources, and do not originate from a person’s Ego. Often times artists, authors, musicians, etc. say that their ideas “just come to me.” Pressfield asserts that any real artist does not selfishly take all the credit for their creations. They have a sense of humility because they know the struggle of creative effort. The best I could do was maybe align this notion with online collaboration, can how collaboration acts as an outside source from the Ego, but it’s too much of a stretch for me.

    Instead, I found this short article titled “The Ethos of the Internet and a Culture of Innovation,” by Elizabeth Lupfer. I chose it while I was searching for something that talked about collaboration as being part of the ethos of the internet, and how it could contribute to inspiration, or innovation. This may not relate completely with my focal theme of writer’s block, but Pressfield does mention that his idea of Resistance effects anyone starting “any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise” (2003, p. 5).

    In her article, Lupfer first mentions that the internet has fostered collaboration, just as we’ve read about. She then makes this jump to how businesses should nurture an "innovation culture" within their companies, writing “an innovative culture is a combination of the right technology, culture and people, working together seamlessly.” At first, I was confused by her article, and her connection between collaboration and innovation.  It’s very brief – and I think she should of spent more time on this factor – but I think when she writes “innovation culture, of course, is likewise an expression of people, their past, and their current beliefs, ideas, and behaviors,” she is asserting that the collaboration of a employee's knowledge and experiences is what can inspire innovations.

    For the record, I think “innovation,” “innovative,” or any other variable of the word has become an overly-use buzzword in the business world, so it can be difficult to understand what exactly is meant by “innovation.” In the article, Lupfer makes reference to companies like Google and Apple, which developed new inventions that have changed the way we live. So, these types of inventions are what I will consider as innovations.

    Yet, after reading Lankshear’s and Knoble’s book New Literacies, we could consider these inventions or innovations as remixes. It is interesting to think about how the beliefs, ideas, and behaviors that Lupfer references, and what we call the human elements and social practices in this course, are being utilized together to create new inventions, which spawn new social practices, and new paradigms. Really, these innovations and their effects on people are like collaborative remixes.

    Lankshear, C. (2011). New Literacies: Concepts and Theories. In New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed., p. 144, 147, 162, 172). New York, New York: Open University Press.

    Pressfield, S. (2003). The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (p. 5,). New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing.

  11. mitchellwoll

    Digital Story Critique 8: Green Day: A 5 Minute Drum Chronology – Kye Smith

    Digital Story
    Green Day: A 5 Minute Drum Chronology - Kye Smith

    One of the most interesting and thought-provoking sections of Colin Lankshear’s and Michele Knoble’s book, New Literacies, was the one about John Phillip Sousa and his encouragement of amateur musicians. According to Sousa, amateurism was what was going to preserve, and progress music. Amateur musicians would learn to play the classics, and then use their skills to create their own music. With this in mind, this week I wanted to critique an amateur musician's music.

    I can across this mashup medley of Green Day songs. The drummer plays only seconds of the more recognizable drum riffs of each Green Day song off of each other their studio albums (so far). It takes a lot of practice to play drums, and replicate one song by a popular band, but this drummer, Kye Smith, managed to replicate nearly every song in Green Day’s catalog, and mash them together under five minutes!

    Remix Practice:
    Music video

    Looking at Lankshear's and Knoble’s definition in New Literacies of the practice of making a music video, Kye Smith’s medley fulfills some kinds of involvement and literacy dimensions required.

    • Expressing fan identity & expressing enjoyment of a particular song or music track – Kye Smith expresses his fan identity through playing unique drum sections from each Green Day song. So this particular music video goes beyond the enjoyment of a particular song, but a band’s entire discography. Kye Smith also shows his enjoyment (and literacy) of playing the drums, highlighting more complicated drum fills, as well as switching time signatures. There is an obvious logical connection between each section, as he starts from the start of Green Day’s career and follows each album’s track order until their latest works. If you are familiar with Green Day’s catalog, you can also recognize that he purposefully selected the more distinguishable drum beats.
    • Expressing a music video editor identity – Aside from being very proficient at playing the drums, Kye Smith shows that he has some video editing skills too, switching camera angles, presenting the albums and songs at the bottom of the screen, and even showing a smaller video of his bass drum, and foot work in the bottom right of the screen. He also layered the sections from the original tracks onto his drum playing to provide listeners some context to what sections he was performing. Kye Smith clearly shows he can fine-tune video and audio to best display his medley.

    There are a couple other kinds of involvement absent from this video that Lankshear and Knoble describe. Green Day is a very popular band, and whether or not people can agree whether it is punk, or pop music, I don't think Kye Smith’s video overtly expresses support for indie music, or for music that is controversial in certain circles. His video does not express support for an issue or injustice either.

    Because of the level of know-how in producing this musical mashup and video, I am assessing Green Day: A 5 Minute Drum Chronology on Jason Ohler’s criteria of Story, Originality, Creativity and Voice, and Sense of Audience.

    The video lacks any real story. Instead, it acts more as an anthology of Green Day drummer Tre Cool’s performance. Because of Kye Smith’s selections in drum riffs, and his self-imposed limit of five minutes, the audience does not see any progression in Tre Cool’s drum playing either. The video is uncomplicated in its intended goal, and executes exactly what it suggests. Otherwise, story is absent in the video.

    Originality, Creativity, and Voice
    Based on our new definition of “remixes” provided by Lankshear and Knoble, there really isn’t such a thing as originality. Everything, as I understand, is a remix of prior cultural artifacts. We interpret and filter these artifacts with our minds, and when it comes time to create something, we mix, or remix, all these artifacts together into our own artifact. So, with this in mind, I will exclude Originality from this assessment.

    Although his video is a collection of a popular band’s work, Kye Smith was very creative in how he mashed them together. His selections had a clear purpose in being the more identifiable drum riffs in each song. But, because Kye Smith was emulating Green Day, there is a lack of voice in this video. Perhaps the only unique voice present in the video is Kye Smith's video editing choises, the decor in the room, and the fact that he played the medley in five minutes. Nonetheless, Kye Smith’s intended goal was met. This video wasn’t meant to present much voice, but rather to replicate.

    Sense of Audience
    Kye Smith has a strong sense of who he is performing for. You can tell because he could have easily recorded this video of him playing and uploaded it without any video editing. Instead he helps his audience by layering the tracks onto his drum playing, allowing the audience to hear the other instruments and singing which helps the audience understand what parts he is playing. Furthermore, he provides an image of the album and the track name at the bottom of the screen. Without these indicators, Kye Smith’s drum performance would look and sound like an unrecognizable, seemingly off-beat, crazy drum solo.
  12. mitchellwoll

    Week 4 Reflection: Whoa, We’re Halfway There!

    To quote Bon Jovi:
    “Whoa, we’re half way there,
    Whoa, livin’ on a prayer!”
    We’ve already conquered four weeks of class with another four to go. I have to admit that I have felt very flustered by double-time pace of this course. But it has been very rewarding!

    This week was about remixes. In my reading response, I summarized what Lankshear and Knoble describe as remixes. Essentially, they could be nearly any type of cultural artifact. Today, the internet is a huge resource for these types of remix artifacts. Yet, in my response, I ask whether remixing can also lead to decay in the quality of said artifacts.

    I didn’t give an answer in my response, hoping to prompt some classmates' responses. But, I think quality is very subjective. Whether art or music is getting “better” lies in the eye, and ear of the beholder. Lankshear and Knoble say that remixing progresses culture. And again, whether we are progressing “the right way” is also subjective.

    Nevertheless, I think remixing has progressed culture the right way, overall. Yes, we may have what we consider bad music, or bad art, or bad film, etc. yet – talking big picture – culturally we have less violence, and more freedoms than ever in human history. Remixes in cultural artifacts has also lead to remixes in thought, and changes in the zeitgeist (sorry, I had a chance to use the word, so I did) for the betterment of all peoples. Right now, we’re at our best remix!

    For my design assignment this week, I created a minimalistic book cover for the book I selected to read throughout this Summer semester in conjunction with New Literacties. Unfortunately, I’m finding it more difficult to relate the two books, as I noted in my reading response. What I did relate again translates to the idea of remixes changing people’s thought. Pressfield uses quotes from ancient Greek figures, remixing them to push his philosophy. This has been done throughout history in literature, as well as politics. Whether by outright quoting major figures, or adopting their ideas, political thought has changed, and progressed by being remixed.

    Finally, my critique this week was of a character summary video profiling Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow. Now, this doesn’t have the major effects on culture as I was explaining, but it was a well-constructed video that explained the character Jon Snow extremely well. I started to wonder if creating videos like this would be a good substitute for book reports. I mentioned this to another student who critiqued a character video about Severus Snape from the Harry Potter movies/books.

    Creating these videos could fulfill the students’ reading comprehension curriculum, while also teaching them to be literate in video editing. Still, this relies heavily on movie adaptations, and students could get away with not actually reading the books.

    I'm excited to see what the next half of Digital Storytelling has to offer. So far, this first half has really reshaped the way I look at people's creations. Really, nothing is completely original. And that's okay. It's all the same, just through different filters called our minds, and remixed.

  13. mitchellwoll

    Reading Response: Chapter 4 – “”New literacies and social practices of digital remixing” / War of Art, Pages 87 – 118

    In Chapter 4, Colin Lankshear and Michele Knoble describe what remixes are in these new digital literacies, as well as, what a “remix” actually is. According to Lankshear and Knoble, every artifact is a form of remix. They write “’remixing’ involves taking cultural artifacts and combining them and manipulating them into new kinds of creative blends and products,” (2011, p. 95) and also the remixing is “a necessary condition for cultural sustainability, development, enrichment, and well-being” (2011, p. 97).

    Everything we know about cultures is derivative of other cultures before, and cultures before that, and so on all the way back to, who knows? Cavemen? Maybe a caveman made a spear out of sharpening a stick, and another remixed it by adding an arrowhead. The Iron Age was a remix of the Bronze Age. The Renaissance was a remix of the Dark Ages and Ancient Greece.

    What I really liked about Lankshear’s and Knoble’s assessment of remixes was the Read-Only culture versus the Read-Write culture, and the Read-Write culture’s ability to remix as a means of progressing culture. They write that the Read-Only culture, or RO culture, “emphasizes the consumption of professionally produced cultural tokens or artifacts,”(2011, p. 98) meaning these cultures only read, view, or listen to cultural items, like art, performances, or music. The Read-Write, or RW culture consumes these cultural items and “wish to ‘add to the culture they read by creating and re-creating” (2011, p. 98). Or remixing.

    They cite composer John Philip Sousa as a proponent of this RW culture. He said amateurism helped progress music as musicians became more practiced by replaying musical works. These musicians could then compose their own works (in remixes). However, he was against the recording, and mass production of music in player pianos and phonographs because he believed these technologies established an RO culture. People would only consume music, and none would practice it in order to reproduce it. Writing and performing music would be left to a few professionals.

    Although I appreciate his argument, Sousa was wrong. Mass production of music has inspired many people to create their own music. The classic example would be a young group of aspiring musicians listening to their favorite albums, and deciding they want to be rockstars too. Today, because music, and other medias, are so proliferated through the internet, there is a massive level of amateurism.

    Yet, now we have a new argument of what could deemed “music.” I imagine Sousa may struggle with understanding some of today’s genres, like Rap, Metal, or Dubstep. Perhaps he would argue that mass production, and mass consumption of music has led to a musical decay. And I’m sure everyone would agree with him in some way. We all have our preferences.

    Artistic decay could also be a consequence of remixing, as this video suggests.  What do you think? Could remixing be leading to a gradual decline in the quality of art, music, etc.? Or is remixing the  "cultural development, enrichment, and well-being," as Lankshear and Knowble suggest?

    The War of Art, Page 87 - 118
    This week it was very difficult to find some parallels between the content presented in Chapter 4 of New Literacies and Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. According to the little schedule I outlined in Week 1, I was only meant to read to page 102, but I continued a few more pages to see if there was any more content I could scrape off and apply to Lankshear’s and Knoble’s notion of remixes.

    I apologize, but the best I could do is relate remixes and Pressfield’s use of quotations. In this particular section, Pressfield quotes Xenophon (an ancient Greek historian), Plato, and Agathon (an ancient Greek poet). He uses quotes from these figure’s works, and remixes them with his own writing to further push and persuade the reader of his philosophy’s ethos.

    I won’t re-write these quotes – the Plato quote is particularly long – but I will conclude that using quotations from major figures is a common form of remix. For example, in a class assignment a couple semesters ago, you could say I remixed a John F. Kennedy speech. And in that speech, JFK also uses quotations, one from William Bradford (pilgrim) and another from George Mallory (first man to climb Mt. Everest), to further push his message of traveling to the moon.

    I know I may be grasping, but if the next section of The War of Art does not yield much relation to New Literacies’ Chapter 5, I may set the book aside and find a new scholarly item.

    Lankshear, C. & Knoble, M. (2011). New Literacies: Concepts and Theories. In New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed., p. 95, 97, 98). New York, New York: Open University Press.
  14. mitchellwoll

    Digital Story Critique 7: Jon Snow | The Last Watch

    *Disclaimer: This digital story and its critique contains spoilers for the HBO series Game of Thrones.

    Digital Story:
    Jon Snow | The Last Watch

    Jon Snow! Why?!
    By now you may have realized I am a Game of Thrones fan. I am also one of the smug book readers, who knew about the fates of most of the show’s characters beforehand. Jon Snow was no exception. Still, I knew his death was going to rattle the fanbase. This video is one of the projective consequences.

    “Jon Snow – The Last Watch” is a fan-made video that profiles the Game of Throne's character Jon Snow. The video did a nice job of highlighting his role, his relationships, and his motivations, some of his key characteristics being his role as a bastard son, and a member of the Night's Watch, his romantic relationship with Ygritte, and his discipline of working for a greater good. The clips in the video span from the first season to the most recent fifth season. This is done in no chronological order. Instead, the creator of the video, a YouTube user named “Zurik 23M,” orders the clips to most effectively profile Jon Snow.

    In addition to editing the video, Zurik 23M also added music, a song by Peter Roe called Last Reunion, according to the video's description. The music is rousing at points, while also sentimental during other parts, giving the video a spectrum of emotion, and allowing the video to feature many different themes surrounding Jon Snow’s character.

    Remix Practice:
    Movie trailer

    Although in a conventional sense, this video would be too long to be a trailer at four and a half minutes, I think it fits more into this practice than perhaps a Fanfic movie, which it may be too short for. Looking at Lankshear's and Knoble’s definition in New Literacies of the practice of making a movie trailer, The Last Watch fulfills the kinds of involvement and literacy dimensions required.

    • Expressing a fan identity & expressing enjoyment of a series  – Clearly, the creator of this video is a fan of Game of Thrones if not Jon Snow specifically. He’s a strong enough fan to understanding the intricacies of Jon Snow’s character and is able to identify these through five seasons (50 episodes!).
    • Translating an enjoyed narrative from one medium to another & expressing a movie director or movie maker identity – Zurik 23M was able to cut video footage from one medium, whether DVD or digital copy, edit it, and upload it as a YouTube video. The creator was also able to include music, and edit the video's audio (sometimes character’s voices spoke while an entirely different scene was visually presented). In doing so, he fashioned the combinations of video, audio, and additional music to effectively summarize the narrative of Jon Snow’s character.

    Because of the level of know-how in producing the video, as well as the understanding of the series and its characters, I am assessing Jon Snow – The Last Watch on Jason Ohler’s criteria of Story, Research, and Flow, Organization, and Pacing.

    The story of Zurik 23M’s video is Jon Snow’s character, ranging from his early relationships with his father, siblings, and step mother, to some of the later relationships he fostered as the series progressed. Additionally, Zurik included insight to Jon Snow’s traits by presenting other character’s assessments of him. At one point a character says “you’re a good lad,” and another says “you have a good heart, Jon Snow. It’ll get us all killed.” Finally, the video includes major plot points of the show, including battles, and deaths. Basically, if a new fan of the show needed to be quickly caught up, this video would do a good job portraying the type of character Jon Snow is and what his plot is.

    Creating this video must have required a lot of effort to revisit 50 episodes, marking important moments in each as they pertained to Jon Snow, and then cutting these moments out to place in the video. This also requires a lot of planning, and content understanding, to identify where each of these clips would fit among one another, and as they correspond to the selected music. Additionally, the final episode, along with its climactic ending, only aired two weeks ago, requiring the video’s creator to be researching, planning, and executing fairly quickly. Major kudos for the amount of work put into producing the video.

    Flow, Organization, and Pacing:
    As I mentioned, the organization of the clips used in the video do not follow the chronological order of the series, however, they are utilized effectively in portraying the character. I do not think that the clips are definitively categorized into segments as in for the first minute we are shown Jon Snow’s past, in the second minute, we are shown his motives. Instead, I think a major factor in organizing and pacing the clips has to do with the music that accompanies the video, Peter Roe’s Last Reunion.

    The song has moments where it builds, as well as lulls, and I think the creator used these moments to narrate his clips. For example, when the music becomes quieter and more sentimental, the video highlights Jon Snow’s romantic relationship, whereas near the end, when the song builds, and starts to crescendo, the video presents some of Jon Snow’s battles. I think for a video like this, it's best to allow the music to dictate the flow of the video, as music has an influence on emotion, and can greatly strengthen the impact of the video overall.
  15. mitchellwoll

    ds106 Design Assignment: The War of Art Book Cover


    The War of Art Book Cover

    ds106 Design Assignment:
    Minimalist Book Cover

    What inspired my focal theme, writer’s block, was Steven Pressfield’s philosophy of overcoming what he calls “Resistance” or the mental block that prevents people for attaining their goals. Resistance, by the way, takes many forms, and Pressfield writes about how you can overcome these forms, defeat Resistance, and achieve your creative goals. In my previous three ds106 assignments, I examined the writer’s struggles and achievements (but mostly struggles). But, for this design assignment, I decided to step out of the writer’s journey, and pay some attention to Pressfield’s manifesto, The War of Art.

    Already, The War of Art has a rather minimalistic book cover. It is white, and aside from the title, subtitle, and byline, there is a lone brick with a flower growing out of it. It conveys the message that something beautiful, and living can grow from something hardened and barren; that creativity can persevere. I like this cover. I wouldn’t change it. I think it embodies most of what Pressfield’s book is about. However, I felt I could convey my own message experimenting with minimalism.

    The message I wanted to convey was “breakthrough.” Every time I’ve read The War of Art (three times now), I feel like I have many breakthroughs, whether about how Resistance manipulates me, or how I can manipulate Resistance. Additionally, the book is also about breaking through this Resistance barrier, barring you from your goals. So, I figured my minimalist illustration should show a broken hole in a wall.

    What happened next was by accident. My original plan was to show a broken hole, and nearby a discarded sledgehammer, suggesting that some individual – perhaps the reader – smashed through this wall, crawled through, and left the sledgehammer behind. I search the internet for a few patterns of broken walls. When I settled on one, I saved it, imported it into Gimp, resized it, and then copied it onto my main canvas. The accident happened when the image was not resized for whatever reason, and was pasted onto the canvas oversized with much of the image flowing off the canvas. I liked this image’s overflow so much that what you see in the final product is very similar to this mistake.

    I referred to ADI Books, a book printing company, for the dimensions for my book cover. This set some parameters around what I could create with my book cover. I decided on standard novel dimensions of six-inches-by nine-inches, which, according to book printing, restricted my cover’s color palette to four colors. Knowing this is a minimalist illustration, I figured that was probably okay. Actually, it was probably better for the design.

    I played around with some of the colors. I wanted the wall to be a dark shade, to convey the cold un-nurturing properties of Resistance. I tried using gray, but thought it was too boring, and I wanted to introduce more color. I picked this blueish-gray because it’s a decently vibrant color, but still looks callous. The yellow was the easiest to settle on. I wanted a bright color to shine through the hole, signifying success on the other side. I picked red for the words “War” and “Art,” because clearly they are the most important words of the title, and I wanted to use a color that would highlight them against the yellow.

    For the fonts, all of the text except for “War” and “Art,” I chose Franklin Gothic Medium. It’s a nice sans serif font that complimented well with the other font. For “War” and “Art” I used Playbill. Maybe I was influenced by the color palette I chose, but while I was constructing the cover, I was reminded of spaghetti western movie posters. The Playbill font seemed to fit right in, giving the cover an almost wild-west theme.

    I’m very happy with the way the book cover evolved. Maybe its spaghetti western nature could give the reader an outlaw sense of manifest destiny. Against all odds, he or she can wrangle, rob, and gunfight Resistance, and finally accomplish their creative goals.


  16. mitchellwoll

    Week 3 Reflection: Sighs of Relief

    This week felt like a month. I started my new job, and on top of that, I needed to keep up with class’ double-time pace. Luckily, I had the foresight last week to begin my video assignment early, and have it completed by the start of this week. Nevertheless, it has felt like a constant scramble. So, as I sit here, looking back on the week, I can breathe a sigh of relief.

    The video assignment was easier than I imagined. Ever since reading about it on the syllabus, I was worried about it. I had a concept of what I wanted to create (which is what was produced, more-or-less), however, previously my version of Microsoft Movie Maker had problems crashing while I was in the middle of creating a video. These previous videos only incorporated pictures, so, the thought of including movie clips was daunting.

    Much to my surprise, Movie Maker worked perfectly! The only hiccups during the production of the video assignment “Journey at the Keys” were finding the appropriate scenes – an undertaking that took two weeks of scouring YouTube – and then finding a way to download these scenes. I was able to use a really easy to use Mozilla Firefox Add-on to do that.

    Later on, Movie Maker did crash one time while I was making my first daily create of the week, “Banana$,” a short movie trailer that jokes about what if we weren’t paid money to do our jobs. I waited until the last minute to put together this daily create. One frustration about daily create assignments is you are not afforded much choice. Throughout the week, none of the daily creates appealed to me, except or the “Where I Stand” assignment, but I skipped this one because I already accidently have a similar theme in “Recede.” I was able to take a few pictures of bananas and splice them into a video of spliced music I acquired from the Inception soundtrack. (I had to include the now conventional, and overused Inception “Bwaahs” into my trailer.) I was able to put all the elements together somewhat late on Thursday, nearing the end of my daily create deadline.

    The reading was many the most time-consuming assignment as it was the longest chapter we had read to date. Toward the end, I wasn’t sure what topic I wanted to focus on. I settled on examining what I call the “3Ps” of the “ethos of the internet,” Proprietary, Projective, and Participatory. The book paints a relatively rosey picture of these 3Ps because of their potential to transform learning, as well as our paradigms in general. And I agree with it all. However, I thought it was worth it to look at some of the problems that the new ethos of the internet can cause. I was worried about whether these were valuable points to make, or if I was having a “no duh” moment. I was pleased to see a fellow classmate respond to my entry with some encouraging feedback. Then, in reviewing other student’s reading responses, I saw that many had similar concerns
    This week challenged my confidence. I admit there were times where I felt like I was going to fail, or look dumb, not only in class, but also at my new job. Yet, somehow, I was able to pull this week out. So, the effect of this week’s scramble was just the opposite. I now feel a bit more confident in my abilities.
  17. mitchellwoll

    Digital Story Critique 6: This Land is Mine

    Digital Story:
    This Land is Mine

    “This Land is Mine” is an approximately three and a half minute YouTube animation that summarizes the history of the region currently known as Israel. This region has been highly disputed and fought for throughout history as this video shows. I take some personal interest in this video because I have visited Israel twice, and was there during last year’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (If the opportunity presents itself, I may incorporate my footage of the rocket attacks and Iron Dome defense system for an assignment.)

    The video presents each of the known cultures which conquered the region, slaying one after the other, excessively. This shows the amount of war for the region, and that recent conflicts in the area are part of an unending narrative of death backward through history.

    Because of the amount of cultures profiled in this video, as well as the animations, I will assess This Land is Mine based of Jason Ohler’s criteria of Story, Research, and Presentation and Performance.

    The animation is set to the music of The Exodus Song (This Land is Mine), sung by Andy Williams. Characters throughout the video are shown singing the song, and as each one is slain, the killer continues the song. The implications of the lyrics are that each one of the characters believes that they have a right to own the land, conveying the message that the region was fought over because of religion, or imperialism.

    The story starts at the beginning of time, where a caveman is shown settling the land, and is quickly killed by a Canaan, who then claims the land. He is then killed, and so begins the successive killing and conquering. Finally, as the animation reaches modern times, it concludes (and climaxes) with a portrayal of Death singing the song, conveying that the land is actually ruled by death itself.

    The story of the land is portrayed objectively, which is refreshing, as many online artifacts try to persuade their audiences toward a pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian agenda (or perhaps anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian). It ends on something we can all agree upon, that the region is occupied by conflict and death.

    A lot of research went into developing this video since each of the major cultures throughout known history is represented.  A YouTube user, Beni Habibi, broke down each culture, each with a time signature. Here is the list:

    0:17 Caveman
    0:27 Canaan
    0:37 Egypt
    0:47 Assyria
    0:54 Israel
    1:06 Babylon
    1:10 Greece
    1:17 Macedonia
    1:21 Egyptian Ptolemaic
    1:26 Alexanders generals
    1:31 Israeli Maccabes
    1:47 Rome
    1:56 Byzantine
    1:58 Arab Ommayads
    2:01 Christian Crusaders
    2:04 Mamluk Caliphate
    2:07 Ottoman Turks
    2:09 Bedouin Arabs
    2:12 British
    2:19 Quasi-Palestine Arabs
    2:27 Israeli resistance against British and Arab
    2:39 Arab coalition
    2:46 Israel
    2:52 Palestine and Gaza
    3:00 Death

    Still, this list is argued, and other users have produced their own lists. Again, because this region is so highly disputed, commenters have debated over what each culture is, how they’re represented, and the messages the video presents.

    Presentation and Performance
    As noted earlier, the presentation of the story was done objectively, showing that the real “ruler” of Israel is everyone’s actual nemesis and fear, Death. I think the animation was done fantastically. The artwork looks regionally appropriate. Each culture is portrayed uniquely. The Death character is recognizable. The colors are vibrant. And even as the characters are killed, they die in a rather PG way – some had the cartoonish Xs over their eyes and tongues sticking out – which sort of eases the harshness of the video with a sick, satirical humor, making it a bit more accessible and digestible.
  18. mitchellwoll

    Reading Response: Chapter 3 – “‘New’ literacies: technologies and values / War of Art, Pages 61 – 86

    Late in the third chapter of New Literacies, Lankshear breaks down three forms of the new ethos of the internet: Proprietary, Projective, and Participatory. As a mnemonic device, I will submit these to memory as the “3Ps.” I agree with these classifications as being the “new ethos stuff” of Web 2.0, but I think some of the stuff that makes up the stuff isn't as utopian as we'd like it to be. As Lankshear notes, the 3Ps are “not ‘pure,’ self-contained, or mutually exclusive modes” (2011, p. 85). And I would agree that each is not certainly “pure.” In fact, they can get pretty messy.

    Though Lankshear references this particular P lastly, I will refer to it firstly, because I have some familiarity with the participatory culture of the internet. Last semester, in my Games and Learning course, we were assigned the task are participating in an affinity space. Lankshear defines an affinity space as an area that instantiates “participation, collaboration, distribution and dispersion of expertise, and relatedness” (2011, p. 68). I participated in an affinity space in the form of the Skyrim Forums, an online fan-driven discussion board surrounding the video game Skyrim. (To watch the video, follow this link.) Lankshear makes note of “peripheral” participation, which is how I participated when I was initially “lurking” the Skyrim Forums, until, as Lankshear says, I felt “confident enough to take on more ‘elaborate’ forms” (2011, p. 85).

    Back to the first P Lankshear defines, proprietary. Here is where I think this ethos stuff can get messy. Lankshear writes that we as users of online applications like Google, Amazon, Facebook etc. are benefiting from the powerful tools that each provide, while each one of these providers is benefiting from our “value addition.” These value additions would be the data these applications collect and use to retrieve advertising revenue. Most users are okay with this because they value the providers' services much more than are concerned with being tallied. However, there are some cases where users want to have their cake and eat it too.

    The “value addition” reminded me of a Radio Lab podcast I critiqued earlier this semester. This podcast was about how Facebook exploits user monitoring and user data to perform social experiments without the users’ knowledge. Facebook’s reasoning for these experiments was they are trying to research and construct online social norms (which contrasted with face-to-face social norms are relatively nonexistent). But, once news got out about the unknown social experiments, users back lashed. Even though users agreed to use Facebook under its Terms and Conditions (we know we all click through those), users did not want act as Facebook’s lab rats. Lankshear noted that some of this reciprocity “might be ‘unfair’ or even ‘exploitative’” (2011, p. 81) and that “users should become aware of the extent to which… they are implicated in proprietary collaborations” (2011, p. 82), yet this is difficult when these proprietary collaborations hidden or done in secret.

    Finally, the other P, projective. Part of this ethos stuff is that people want to produce artifacts on the Web for many reasons, whether personal, or to further a purpose on their affinity space, etc. Nevertheless, people have created content and are willing to share this content. This content has also been exploited.

    Aggregators, like BuzzFeed or Stitcher Radio, pull content from many different sources, sometimes repackaging them, and then earn advertising revenue for artifacts they did not produce. YouTube users copy and re-upload popular videos and also earn advertising revenue. Some of these actions may qualify under Fair Use and its permissions (commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving, scholarship), however, because content is so difficult to police online, users’ content may be fueling huge advertising profits without return. Television shows like Tosh.0 or @midnight are based on such online content. Most likely they fall under the Fair Use permissions of commentary or parody as comedians make jokes about the content. Still, they seem exploitative, leaving the originality to people willing to provide content for free. (I am a fan of these shows too.)

    When I first read about the “ethos of the internet,” it seemed so optimistic. Lankshear first made reference to it in New Literacies on page 29 as being ““more ‘participatory,’ more ‘collaborative,’ and more ‘distributed’” (2011). And early on in Chapter 3, after Lankshear likened the growth of new literacies and its ethos as an ascending paradigm like to the transition from the Modern to Post-Modern paradigms. But after contemplating the 3Ps, I can see that the ethos of the internet can also be cynical, and messy.

    The War of Art, Pages 61-86
    I’ve entered Part 2 of The War of Art called Combating Resistance, Turning Pro. This section of the book coincidentally aligned with Lankshear’s assessment of ascending paradigms. As with a switch from Modernism to Post-Modernism, Pressfield describes the switch from being an amateur and becoming a pro. Last week, Pressfield touched on this comparison of the amateur and the professional as he defined “Resistance,” and I analyzed these two roles as Discourses. In this section, he digs deeper into the topic, adding more definition to the amateur, as well as its ascending paradigm, the pro.

    First, Lankshear notes that when changing a paradigm, “it is more like a transcendence , in which elements of an earlier state of affairs are carried over and reshaped to become parts of new configurations” (2011, p 52). Pressfield carried over the state of misery of Resistance (writer’s block) into the misery of an artist, writing “the artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for Hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation” (2003, p. 68), as well as “He has to love being miserable” (2003, p. 68). In many ways, Pressfield’s embracement of misery this is a more evolved, transcended version of misery than that the misery of writer’s block.

    Most of what Pressfield defines between the amateur and the professional would be classified as the human-elements of these Discourses (beliefs, interpretations, desires, etc.). But, during a paradigm shift, practices can change too, as Lankshear wrote there “obviously, are not just shifts in ideas and beliefs; thy entail changes in practices” (2011, p. 54)

    While making his distinctions of the amateur and the professional, Pressfield also makes references to changes in practices. He describes how simply sitting down and beginning the work can bring about some inspiration. Pressfield writes “the mundane physical act of sitting down and starting to work… set in motion a mysterious but infallible sequence of events that would produce inspiration” (2003, p. 64). He also notes that a pro asks for help whereas an amateur thinks he or she can figure it out, writing “he seeks out the most knowledgeable teacher… The student of the game knows the levels of revelation that can unfold” (2003, p. 85).

    Lankshear, C. (2011). New Literacies: Concepts and Theories. In New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd ed., p. 29, 52, 54, 68, 81, 82, 85). New York, New York: Open University Press.

    Pressfield, S. (2003). The War of Art: Break through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (p. 64, 68, 85). New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing.

  19. mitchellwoll

    Digital Story Critique 5: The Object – Short Story

    Digital Story:
    The Object | Short Story

    My last four digital story critiques evaluated non-fiction (mostly journalistic) works. I decided this week I would try something fictional. I found this video “The Object” accidentally by perusing through Reddit. The video “The Object” is a hand-drawn slideshow depicting a story written by Eric Lange at 30secfantasy is an idea inspired by 30 Second Sci Fi, a challenge made by Philip Trippenback to write a new short science-fiction story every day. This story would have to take approximately 30 seconds to tell (or be no more than 250 words). Eric took this idea and challenged himself the same way. “The Object” is one of his 30 second stories.

    YouTube User Artifexian took Eric’s 30 second story and drew pictures for it, which he used to create the video. Therefore, I have an interesting schism in how I will assess this video. Firstly, I will assess Eric’s story on Jason Ohler’s criteria of Story and Writing. Then, I will assess Artifexian on Presentation and Performance.

    Eric covers a lot of ground within his 30 seconds. He presents the conflict in the form of a mystery. This object is careening toward Earth and has the capacity to annihilate the entire planet (as seen by jettisoning Jupiter out of orbit). Then, things go from bad to worse, when the story suggests that the object is being chased by something more ominous. I really liked the technique that Eric used here by presenting one problem, but then creating an even more sinister problem by making the original look like a victim. This works very well in the unknown expanse of space. So much is unknown about space, giving you the chance to create a good sense of mystery and foreboding.

    My only nit-picky issue is that the science of this story could be incorrect. How would such an object arrive undetected for so long? Science and technology has advanced enough to the point where we can observe objects in space way beyond the solar system. Is the only way to detect the larger object by seeing an absence of stars? And the comparison to a gazelle zig-zagging while being chased seemed inorganic to the story, and the analogy had me wondering if there really was a specific route gazelles run when escaping a predator – I don’t imagine there is one. Nonetheless, after suspending my disbelief, I enjoyed the effect these points create. Also, there is only so much you can do with 250 words, especially when you give yourself a day to write them.

    Presentation and Performance
    Artifexian drawings are really fun. His depiction of the object is great, looking more like a cosmic monolith than an alien space craft or celestial beast. I think this gives the object an indifferent demeanor at the beginning of the story, as it floats through space destroying planets in its path. The additional animations and sound effects were used well. We were not distracted by an onslaught of noises. Instead, Artifexian used them sparingly, at points where they could amplify the point or enhance the sense of dread. None of the sound effected overshadowed the narration either.

ds106 in[SPIRE]