Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ready for Repose

Happy week-before-spring-break, everyone! We've almost made it!

This is the first Google image result for the search "repose." It accurately represents how I'll be spending my spring break.

This week, one of our assignments was to explore Network Effect, which was a unique experience. The estimated 7 minutes of video presented a chaotic whirlwind of posts and experiences, the intent of which was to induce "a state of anxiety, trigger a fear of missing out, and totally frustrate any attempt at completeness.” I'll be honest, I made it about 2-3 minutes in both days that I checked it out. I felt sick from the constant stream of images and hated not being able to grasp any meaning from the experience-- which I think might be the point.

We are subject to so much information every time we pull up the internet- whether it be through social media or news sites. The stories might be interesting on an individual basis but, when we're overexposed, it can turn into too much of a good thing. I experienced something like this during the most recent campaign/election cycle, and had to disconnect from social media for a while to avoid the constant stream of ideas- on both sides. Being barraged by something, anything, can trigger anxiety and fear in anyone, and that's how I felt viewing Network Effect. There was too much information with too little explanation, and everything was presented too quickly. In the beginning I was interested in the idea, but by the end I was overwhelmed and wanted nothing to do with any of it.


Last week we used memes and GIFs as a tie-in to our conversation on chaos, order, and our participation in the digital world. This was such a fun exercise, and here were my contributions to the discussion-- and what a fantastic discussion it was!

The following GIF was made by inputing Howard Rheingold's video, Alchemagickal Lucid DreamBox into Giphy, and playing around with the controls until I was able to find the perfect video of segment, marry it to a clever saying, and the program did the rest of the work. This was a lot of fun! I use GIFs constantly, often as responses in text messages or chats, and I never knew it was so simple to create them. It's incredible that conversation has evolved in such a way, that we are now able to quickly find pre-recorded clips of video that perfectly express our emotions.

That being said, here is the GIF I created:

The rest of the images were created with imgflip. imgflip has every meme one could think of available for captioning, all I needed to do was come up with an idea based around our there, netnarr! Here were the results:

And, I've saved my personal favorite for last:

As a late addition to the GIFs, after class I decided to create usng Lala GIF, as suggested in the blog post. I've never seen a GIF with sound, and it seemed like a fun idea. Here's the result:


I'm quite proud of it, you definitely want to check it out.

Social Media Weekly Roundup:
Daily Digital Alchemy responses:

And I liked this last one so much that I tried twice!

I'm not going to be in class tomorrow so, unfortunately, I'm going to miss our first tour bus experience to Mexico, but I am excited to check in after the fact. I'm quite excited for break, it's been a long month and a half!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Did you hear that?


Did you hear that? Yeah, that. That noise, did you hear it? No, not the person walking by, the other noise. That humming, what is it? Oh, you didn't hear it before? Hah, good luck, now it's all you're going to hear. It's beneath all the other noises, but ever-present, underscoring everything else that goes on. Steady, constant crackling. And what about that other noise, that humming? Where's that coming from? Is it a machine running, running, running, nonstop? Doesn't it get tired? Isn't it tiring to think about?

It's interesting to stop and consider that we're never in complete silence, even when we think we are. Something is always going on around us, be it human or machine. It's almost frightening to consider what utter silence would consist of, because that would suggest a complete and utter loneliness that most of us have never faced. I once watched a documentary about prisons, and in the course of the show some  of the prisoners spoke about the ultimate punishment for acting up in prison; getting sent to solitary confinement. Of all possible punishments, this doesn't sound very threatening but, in reality, it is the most terrifying threat a person can face. People sent to solitary fight to maintain their own sanity, sometimes unsuccessfully. Most would do anything to avoid it. Interesting, isn't it? Obedience, in response to the threat of silence.


I tried out the #justlistening activity by watching the above clip from Fight Club. It's interesting what you hear when you listen with purpose.

In the clip, sound is used precisely to set the tone. Without watching, I hear the echoes people shifting uneasily in a large room. The sound is tinny, as if the walls don't absorb any of it-- perhaps a room made of cement. I hear coughing, echoes of affirmation from men, the cracking of joints, lighters being flicked on, cheering, and jeering. This is all outside of the main sound, which is Brad Pitt's monologue. Next, I hear grunts, fists making contact with skin, crashes, whoops, and then eerie, echoing music. Finally, footsteps and an upbeat track accompanying Pitt and Norton as they walk and discuss their dream fights. These sounds are all things that aren't meant to be heard but, if they didn't exist, the film would be empty.


The Truth podcast is fascinating, and I'm so glad it was recommended for this week's assignment. I was particularly intrigued by the episode titled "Dark Matter," and I'm glad I chose that one in particular because the use of sound is powerful throughout the episode. In many instances, I felt as if I were watching a TV show, but all of the images were in my head. Underscoring much of the dialogue was an eerie track, which heightened the mystery of the subject matter. In moments of dialogue, the characters didn't constantly speak directly into the microphone, some sounded closer, others further. When one person was speaking under his or her breath, you could tell. When two characters were speaking but a TV was on in the background, the illusion of dimension was powerful. The sound wasn't always crystal clear, sometimes characters sounded distant, other times there was an echo, building the illusion of someone speaking in an large room. It's amazing to consider this was done in a sound studio! What's more, I felt dragged into this story, as if I was fully immersed, as if it was much, much more than just audio. It was a dynamic and when it ended I found myself clinging to the last word. In short, I'm hooked!


You can find my blackout poetry exercise here. Check it out and let me know what you think, I had a lot of fun with the assignment.


I'm still loving the daily digital alchemies, in fact, below are the ones I have completed for this past week:


I was excited, beyond excited, to watch this week's studio visit with Howard and Mamie Rhinegold. We used one of Howard's books, Net Smart, a few semesters ago in New Media Studies, and it was an eye-opening experience to see how much the internet has expanded since its creation. We had the opportunity to Skype with Howard in New Media Studies as well, and it was such a honor to listen and talk with such an incredible mind and pioneer in the digital world. I am continually impressed by the amount he has accomplished in his career, and how much progress he has seen.

It was also very cool to listen to Mamie as well, as she spoke about how she was surrounded by her father's influence her entire life and at first reacted against it, until she got older and was able to understand how important his work was. As children, we don't often realize how much we are shaped by our parents, or how lucky we may be to be surrounded by the opportunities that we take for granted. I used to tease my father every week as he went off to supervise a high school robotics club. He has since been credited as an influence by kids who have gone to MIT and graduated as engineers. I myself am now fascinated by coding and I wish I had listened more back then!

Getting back to the studio visit, our reach, due to the Internet, can be far more powerful than we expect. Our "virtual communities" can be comprised of people that we have never met, and may never meet face-to-face, but these communities have radically changed our definition of the term "public sphere." One post on the internet can go around the world in the matter of a few hours. Once upon a time, "public" had much smaller implications. Now "public" can be global. Especially in this time of political dissent, public spheres and public opinion can be heavily swayed by virtual communities.
"Whether twenty people or twenty thousand people pay attention to you, the important thing is agency and participation. You are not just one of the millions of people who are fed what a few people create for you, you are, in some way, a creator of culture."             -Howard Rhinegold
We have been given such a huge opportunity with the technology that we have access to, and it's becoming more and more important to use it responsively and constructively. Now, everyone with access to the internet has a way to express themselves. This can either be used to help, or to harm. Why not use it to do great things?

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Dawn of Time- collab story of #blackoutpoetry

In reading the weekly roundup for last class/this week, I saw an exercise in which we were directed to choose other people's blackout poetry from Carlos Fuentes’ Terra Nostras. I looked through the results of our in-class activity, and I've come up with a spine for my story "The Dawn of Time." 

The dark imagery throughout the selection gave a decent basis for similar content but even so, this was a challenge. 

First up, I've found a sound to link to the story:

Next, you'll scroll through a few pictures that illustrate the story in my mind:

And finally, the tweets that form the backbone of the story:
#netnarr #blackedoutpoetry Incredible monstrous feet crawling through creation visited briefly ordinary waters. pic.twitter.com/G7dY3ZqX1G

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#4IconStory and #AltBookCover

I had to make another post for this part of my blog, because I love the results and don't want them to get lost in the midst of my weekly post!

loved the creative assignments for this week's class. I decided to do the Four Icon Story assignment, as well as the Alternate Book Cover. As I worked on these, it was interesting to think about how images can tell a story, in some cases, almost as well as words. For example, take a look at my #4iconstory:

Did you guess The Little Prince

I chose one of my favorite books, The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. My four icons are a crashing plane (from the beginning of the story), a crown (for the Little Prince), a rose (for his beloved rose), and a snake (for the sad, but meaningful, ending of the story). This was so much fun, although challenging, to come up with four icons to summarize the key elements of a story. To me, the story is quite obvious, but that's because it was my idea. I knew the elements, so the icons make perfect sense. We shall see if anyone guesses correctly. 

Once I created my #4iconstory, I had a brilliant idea for the alternate book cover assignment.  I'm going to wait until tomorrow (Wednesday) to tweet it out because it gives away the answer to my icon riddle, but, without further ado, I present to you:

Just a slight spin on the original, no? As for alchemical elements, I merged two ideas, The Little Prince, and Game of Thrones to create a new masterpiece. I entertain myself.
I used pixlr.com to create this book cover, and it was decently comparable to Photoshop. It took me some time to work with my buggy laptop, but I'm quite pleased with the end result. 

Isn't it interesting how a slight twist changes an entire story? This assignment made me think of a video that went around a while back:

Funny how music changes so much!

Stories, Arcs, and Fanfiction!

Time for the weekly roundup!


Confession time: When it comes to netprov, I ride to strugglebus straight to the end of the line, and then into the nearest body of water where I sink with the failboat.

Much as I love Whose Line Is It Anyway, I'm not an improv kind of girl. Whenever I see actors doing improv well, I admire them because I just don't think quickly enough. I'm much more the sort to think of a great comeback 5 hours later in the shower. Being behind a computer screen changes things slightly, in that you have more time to think through a story but, as we experienced last week during our Twitter netprov, it goes just as quickly. As the questions and guesses fired back and forth, we all had to be on the top of our Twitter games, ready to type and reply at a moment's notice. 

I think netprov is great for those who think quickly and enjoy creative writing and RPGs. If you have the ability to get into a character's head, than this is a fantastic exercise. 

Shape of Stories

I loved the inclusion of Kurt Vonnegut's Shape of Stories, in the NetNarr blog post. I laughed throughout much of it, but also saw that the man knew what he was talking about! Sometimes it takes someone to point out the obvious on a blackboard, but we all know the general shape of stories with their highs and lows. No matter the plotline, every writer and author knows the formulaic, predictable trend that readers want to see. In regard to the inevitable S curve, Vonnegut says, "People love that story, they never get sick of it!"

I don't think this predictability makes the story bad, however. While it's true that we can often have a general feeling for how a story is going to end, that fact doesn't discredit the story itself. Even in a story where the ending seems like a low point, in some way we know that there will be higher arcs, whether they're written about or not, because that's how life works, and life is the basis for our stories. We can find traces of reality in even the most fantastical works. Even so, it's interesting to see how the shape of a story forms and moves us, as we proceed through a work.

Recently, I went to the movies to see Fifty Shades Darker, and in this next section I'm going to outline the plot arcs the the sequel to E.L. James' thrilling bestseller.

Heh. ;)

In all seriousness however, I went to see La La Land, and that movie was interesting for a discussion of arcs. Fair warning-- spoilers ahead. 

As the movie begins both characters, an actress and a musician who are struggling to make it big in Hollywood, are in a pretty low place. Neither can catch a break and both are struggling to make it. However, things slowly climb for the positive as they meet each other and fall in love. In spite of difficulty, life is happy. Things go downhill once again however, when Ryan Gosling's character becomes successful and his subsequent absence takes a toll on their relationship. It climbs back up toward the end when, after a huge fight, Gosling shows up at Emma Stone's character's home and tells her that she received a highly sought-after call back. The movie is then at it's highest point, when time flashes forward 5 years, and we see that both characters have achieved their dreams...but are no longer together. Both are happy but, when they make eye contact across a crowded room, the feeling is bittersweet. 

I like this as a model of arcs because although the film is full of ups and downs, the ending is a decently shocking midpoint. I wonder how Vonnegut would draw it on a chalkboard?

Twitter arc

Moving along to a different kind of arc, I took a look at the shape of our @netnarr account, and my presence in it. This is what I discovered:

This is such a cool application! I think it's so interesting that the shape is ever-changing, as the interaction on our account thrives. It reminded me of a cell under a microscope, and I can confidently liken it to the image of a living being. In a way, it is-- it's comprised of all of us! 

Studio Visit: Fanfiction

Oh boy, fanfiction. I've read my fair share, and I think it's so cool to see it coming into its own as a field of literature. Fanfiction has an interesting presence on the Internet, because for a long time the perception toward it was that you either loved it, or you were severely weirded out by it's existence. Luckily, I think people are now moving toward a third option, fascination at it's existence and studying how it influences young writers. The studio visit this week with Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel was a fascination look into why many are fascinated with writing stories based on stories. 

Flourish and Elizabeth were so fun to listen to! It's so fun to see people talk about the thing they love, especially when the thing they love is an up-and-coming field. Not many people have explored the field from a professional stance, and there's so much to talk about. People's mind work in fascinating ways, and it's interesting to see how a writer twists another writer's writing in order to put the characters in non-canonical situations.

Pastiche vs Fanfiction-- there's so much more to this than I realized!

I think that the once-geeky-now-cool trend of the 2010s extends to the fanfiction realm in a big way. At one point in the studio visit, the discussion turns to the topic of fanfiction's past, and how it was once a thing that only the nerdy kids did. It was once considered nerdy to like shows like the X-Files, Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc., and so individuals who loved these things hid away in their fandom communities and wrote stories for each other. Now, with the advent of geeky-now-cool, such people are find more support once they come out of the woodwork. I'm not so sure fanfiction is ever going to be in the mainstream, but I like that it's getting attention. I also don't think that it's necessarily the worst thing for fanfiction to be on the sides of main stream society. After all, the main stream is boring! ;)

At risk of this blog qualifying to be a novella, I'm going to stop here. As usual, there is loads more to be unpacked, and I look forward to class discussion and hypothes.is threads!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Stories, Bots, and Netprov (oh my!)

Another week of connected learning! I feel like I have a deeper understanding of this term with each passing week. Buckle up, I'm about to break down everything that's happened in this past week.

Five Card Flickr was an fun and surprisingly challenging exercise. Despite my love of stories (and presence in this class), I'm not a great storyteller. In real life, I tend to go on and on (which you might be able to tell from the rambling nature of my blogs), and I'm not much of a creative writer, so being presented with a creative writing assignment was daunting.

I was also faced with the challenge that I don't know how to write a short, quick story. It is so deeply ingrained in my head that a story follows a particular structure, that I had to really concentrate in order to tie the photos together. I felt better about this, upon reading Sandy's post, that I'm not the only one who gets trapped in the structure.

That being said, I did my best. My first experience with the random photos yielded these options:

From these photos, came my story "Wanderer." 

For the second part of Five Card Flickr, writing a different story with someone else's photoset, I chose this beautiful collection:

Kelli wrote a beautiful poem based on these photos called "Lucid Dreaming," which can be found here. My piece based on these photos is based on stream of conscious thoughts I had while considering each photos. It's not a story in the same way that my first attempt was, but it's a compilation of thoughts. I can be found here, and is called "Illumination."

Another assignment this week was to follow the bots suggested by @KairosHotBot. I tried twice and was given four options:

Bots are an interesting concept and they certainly do raise questions about authorship, as Professor Flores spoke about in last week's studio visit.  I think they can be entertaining, and the programming behind them is fascinating, as I came to learn from reading Robotic Poetics by William Winder, which I came across in doing some side research into the Digital Humanities. However, I think that bots are a lot like any other kind of account, you like what you like so you follow it, and the rest are pretty boring. I'm looking forward to unfollowing quite a few of these accounts. Perhaps this comes from my general opinion that random doesn't equal funny, and I think that these bots rely on random combinations of thoughts in order to get a laugh. I certainly found this to be the case with @lawandorderexo. @WorstLastWords, @BMovieGenerator, and @monstersubtypes all made me chuckle from time to time, but that was about it.

I will say that in exploring bots to follow for this week's class, I rediscovered a great account called KimKierkegaardashian, which is a bot mashup of the tweets of Kim Kardashian and Soren Kierkegaard, which is endlessly hilarious to me-- perhaps because I know the source material that the bot is pulling. Another bot that I personally enjoyed discovering was Magic Realism Bot, which made me laugh more regularly than the others-- perhaps because magical realism is already absurd and the bot made it all the more ridiculous. I also enjoyed discovering Why Can't We Date?, which I discovered through Laura's post, so thanks for that!
In general, bots are pretty hit-or-miss, for me. It was great to discover a few new fun accounts!

To close out this week's blog, we were invited to experience a studio visit with Mark Marino & Rob Wittig, who taught us about netprov. I've been involved in one netprov here at Kean, Air-B-N-Me, which was discussed in the course of the video. Air-B-N-Me was hosted in the spring 2016 semester, and the premise was that participants got the opportunity to "check out" of our lives, and allow others to "check in," and experience the moments that we'd rather miss. The netprov experience was totally new to me, and it was cool to be involved with creating a story with other contributors around the world-- very much a digital storytelling experience. \\

Something in particular that stood out to me in this studio visit was the discussion on truth, and how we know when someone is telling the truth. The short answer is, we don't. In the world of netprov, we make up our own stories and tell them to others who, in accordance with the netprov, go along with it. This is great in the world of fiction, but it gets scary when we question facts in real life. I've linked the part of the discussion I'm referring to below:

I don't care to get specifically political because political discussions aren't my style, and I find that they make more enemies than they make friends, so I'm going to leave my opinion at this-- I feel we live in a time where truth is subjective to the side you're on. One side tells one panicked story, the other side responds with panicked responses. Propaganda builds on propaganda. What's terrifying in all of this, is that a true narrative does exist. How do we find it? How do we find truth when life has turned into a real-life netprov? It's frightening.

Journalism is quite important to me. I worked on my undergrad's student newspaper for all four years of my undergraduate career. We were a small publication, but we worked hard at our jobs, and we saw when a ripple went through the campus because of a story we ran. We went to student newspaper conferences and heard speech after speech about the importance of good, solid reporting. But in reality, in "the real world," I'm not so sure that "good, solid news" is really a standard. We have to question everything and honestly, it's tiring--- but tiring is the goal. Whichever news outlet is leading the discussion wants the reader/viewer to get tired, so they accept the story as truth and further the narrative, instead of questioning. Maybe we do really live in one giant netprov.....

There's so much more to unpack but I risk my blog becoming an actual book, so I'll save that for class/hypothes.is discussion. This was a fantastic studio visit, and I'm glad I was able to see the faces behind netprov. I look forward to our discussion in class tomorrow!