Monday, May 14, 2018

Time to Say Goodbye

Well netnarr, it's been a really fun semester. I've been so excited to relive the Digital Alchemy and Networked Narratives experience with a new group of students, and I cannot believe that May has come so quickly. It's been simultaneously a very long and a very short semester-- although I can look back and remember the first week, it also feels as if January were years ago. We've experienced a lot this semester and played with a variety of digital tools which have allowed us to see the world through a new lens of digital storytelling. Memes, gifs, games, and sounds all contribute to a greater story which expresses the story of life in the 21st century.

If you go to this link, you will see a comprehensive account of all of my blog posts for this semester. It's crazy to look back at all of the different worlds that we have explored. You will see that there are 16 blogs for this semester, although many more date back to my netnarr life in past semesters (and past worlds). Likewise, if you click here, you will see an account of my Daily Digital Alchemy responses. This has always been one of my favorite parts of the course, as it fosters creativity in digital spaces.

Another netnarr tool that I have always appreciated is the TAGS explorer tool, because it offers an incredible way of tracking participation within a network. Every handle that has ever been included in the netnarr conversation is a part of the TAGS explorer trail. Those of us who have been highly involved in the conversation are harder to pinpoint in the thick of the network, but those on the outskirts have also contributed to the conversation. For example, there have been a few instances where I have dragged my fiance @hemingquay into the class, and he appears in the TAGS explorer as well.  I have screenshots of both of our participation below.

^Grayson (@hemingquay)

^Me (@rissacandiloro, now @rissaverona)

In comparing my Twitter presence from the beginning of the semester to the end, the account analysis tool, I noticed that my activity increased greatly. The first screenshot below is my Twitter presence from the beginning of the semester. The second screenshot shows my current Twitter presence. I have highlighted key differences between the two charts:



I'm surprised to find that I am one of three leaders on the Make Bank leaderboard (shoutout to fellow leaders Hailey and Tiffany)! I really like the Make Bank as a way of submitting projects for this class, and one of my favorite Makes was the progress GIF: mine was about the process of nail art. I was also very interested in the redlining project we did. I studied TMobile reception in Newark NJ, and was pleased to find that TMobile seems to be free of any redlining implications. This was one of the harder Makes this semester, but I enjoyed the process and I enjoyed assisting other students in completing the project. 

I have expressed this before but the largest challenge in my semester was using Audacity to create audio files. I had a rough time with the endeavor last semester, and doubted that this semester would be any different. However, I'm excited to say that I learned a great deal more about Audacity, and I'm quite proud of my projects. They can be found on my Soundcloud account (am I a Soundcloud rapper yet? Are you proud, mom?). I'm particularly proud of Seasons Transition. I look forward to using Audacity in the future and can see incorporating it into a classroom in the future. After all, aren't all the kids on Soundcloud anyway? 

All in all, I have very proud of this class and happy for the experiences I have had this semester. The digital world can raise important questions about life, access, and privilege, and I think that exploring these questions is of the utmost importance. If any other students see this, please know that I am proud of your work and am glad to have met you this semester. You have all done so well, and I hope you feel that you have learned a great deal about the digital world. To any future students who take this course, come in with an open mind and expect to have a lot of fun-- there is so much more to the digital world than just memes although, as we've learned, memes can be very important. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Does T-Mobile Redline Newark, NJ?

This class was interesting because we discussed an unfamiliar concept: redlining. Redlining is the practice of marking an area to call it out, usually as a place to avoid. The concept was introduced with a discussion of undesirable neighborhoods, and we were shown a redlined map of Newark, NJ from 1939. I was interested to learn that even in 1939, areas in Newark were considered undesirable places to live, and I would love to understand why in more depth. From what I know of this area, Newark has always been mainly immigrant neighborhoods and, from what history indicates, immigrants have often been on the outskirts of society. This led me to wonder which groups were causing issues in 1939.

Redlining can be tricky because it can be hard to tell why it is done. For example, I live in a great neighborhood in a city that has a bad reputation. My neighborhood is perfectly safe, but for a while Amazon Prime would not leave packages for fear that they would be stolen. Although this practice has been rescinded, it was quite annoying and totally unnecessary, as I do not remember the last time something was stolen off of our doorstep. However, I understand why this was done in my city-- Elizabeth has a dangerous reputation, and the dangerous parts are quite bad. If redlining is done for general safety and security, is it a problem? I suppose I don't know enough to say.


I chose to look at T-Mobile cell phone towers in Newark, NJ, and T-Mobile does not shy away from Newark:

As I mentioned in my write-up, I have learned in the past (actually, from New Media Studies with Dr. Zamora) that T-Mobile was formed to be a lower cost option in urban areas, which is the opposite redlining! The map proves that this is still the case, with tons of towers in the urban area. I think it is really cool that such an excellent company purposefully targeted underprivileged areas, and is now one of the biggest cell phone providers.


I really think that I have learned a lot about Audacity this semester, which is so exciting! I was dreading the sound editing assignments the most, but I finally feel comfortable enough to edit audio, I guess practice really is the key! I think that with more work, I could be decent at audio editing. This is something to add to my skills :)

I chose to talk about a game created by a student named Merna, in Professor Maha Bali's class in Cairo, Egypt. Merna's game is about single motherhood in Arab societies, and how single mothers are often treated poorly by their peers. Merna dedicated her game to her own mother, who raised Merna and her sibling as a single woman. I appreciated how personal this issue is to her.

The background sound in my audio clip is a mixture of two sounds, light piano music and people talking. I wanted a cafe vibe, because I wanted the final piece to sound like a casual conversation. I'm very disappointed that Merna did not answer my questions, but I did my best to draw conclusions. I'm quite proud of the final result, I didn't think I could possibly piece together a valid-sounding podcast clip, but I think it came together well!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Playin' Games (and making sounds)

I really enjoyed class this week, after all, who doesn't like playing games? I have a great deal of respect for people who analyze video games for their merits, as well as for the skills required to play them. Although the Internet Archive website was a cool idea, I had absolutely no luck playing the old games. As I've said before, I'm not a gamer (I have no patience and no attention span), so it was hard to figure out the controls-- most of which didn't work. However, if you put an old pinball machine in front of me, I'd be on cloud 9! 
I had so, so much fun playing Board Game Online with Hailey, Alan, Kelli, Vanessa, and Justin, I wish we could play it again! It's fun to play a game with a bunch of people, and I see why people enjoy it on a bigger scale. Board Game Online was such a weird experience, and I want to share it with all my friends, because words simply cannot explain it. 

Audacity Project Preview:

To show that I'm working on the Audacity project, here is my work so far! I've found ambient noise and music to be the backdrop of my sound clips, and I've downloaded the questions that I have for Merna, the student in Egypt that I will be interviewing for this project. Merna's project is an empathy game about the condition of single mothers in Arab countries. 

I have some DDAs to catch up on so....:

This one stumped me! I couldn't figure out what the firelit room wanted from me! I'd love for someone to explain to me how this simulator is supposed to work because it seems interesting but I couldn't get anywhere....

I remember this DDA from last year! I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it just as much now. Book titles are fun to manipulate.

I hated living through this the first time....

I stand by this opinion. Hemingway is painful and this is a controversial opinion that everyone, including my fiance, can fight me on. 


After trying multiple games to no avail, I looked again at the Software Library and miraculously found one of my FAVORITE early computer games, Digger! I did not see this the other day, if I had, I'd still be playing it right now...and maybe I am.

I actually really enjoyed playing this game because it was familiar and I could figure out the controllers. When I say that I tried several games before this, I'm not kidding. I tried Tamagotchi, The Oregon Trail, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mortal Kombat and had no luck figuring out the controls. Pac-Man was a success, but I wanted something that interested me a bit more.

According to the video we watched, I believe that this game is a practice game, because it's the sort of game that you need to play over and over to get it right. Also, there is not one correct answer, so different ways of practicing the game will lead to different ends. 

As for a story.........

Once upon a time there was an alien named Digger. Digger was a small truck, and all he wanted to do was his job, which was mining for sparkly jewels. However, Digger was constantly followed by bad aliens who wanted to steal the jewels that he collected. They ran after him day after day, and Digger was tired of running. So, one day, he decided to set a trap. He took a bunch of large stones and tied them up in a big bag with a dollar sign marked on it. He knew that the greedy aliens would not be able to resist the "money." Then, he went off to work.

Sure enough, the aliens began to follow him, but Digger was prepared. He went about his day collecting jewels, and slowly approaching one of his "money" traps. He spotted a greedy alien behind him, approached the bag, and cut it free of its tied. He watched as it fell down toward the unsuspecting alien, pinning it to the ground.

Digger knew this brief victory wasn't enough, and that he must plan his next attack. The bug-like aliens were milling around their fallen comrad, and Digger had to load the cannons for the next attack. He collected all of his money traps and sent them down the chute one after another. He listened and there was silence. He peeked over the chute....all was still. He won, he finally did it!!! Then....suddenly...what's that? Bright flashing lights strobed across the sky.....

Game Over....Game Over.....Game Over

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Are video games the problem?

Few things annoy me more than the "violent video games" argument, which has been volleyed back between Republicans and Democrats since the early 2000s. Although I do think that parents should moderate which games their children are playing, I don't think that running someone over in a car in Grand Theft Auto is a sign that a person is secretly a psychopath, and I certainly think that uninformed politicians should stop making it a talking point. It's hard to explain why games are fun, and it's even harder to rationalize why fighting or war-based games can be appealing, but I stand by the fact that they don't create murderers. Now, if there was a game where the player was required to dismember or violently and purposefully murder a character for the sake and pleasure of doing so, I might concede that games have gone too far. Following the standard that "video games create murderers," you might wonder how the 1965 release of the popular board game Operation didn't create a generation of doctors.

Ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their interests and actions, and video games have simply become the latest bogeyman. Plenty of people love horror movies, but few people dismember corpses in their basements based on the latest thriller. Likewise, an interest in detective stories has not led the vast majority of fans to recreate their favorite macabre murders.

Now, the question still exists, if empathy games promote empathy, why shouldn't video games promote violence? I argue that this is for the same reason that good books inspire a love of reading. Excellent, moral books inspire feeling deep within a reader that inspires them to act. In a similar way, empathy games make one think about the thoughts and feelings of others. On the other hand, "violent" video games tend to be about strategy-- not feeling. You act based on goals, which inspires a different kind of thought process that has nothing to do with emotion, and that's not a bad thing. It's just different. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy-- and the opposite of empathy games isn't violent video games, it's active hateful games.

Do you think this is a [*************] game?

In class, I played Spent, and it was so interesting that I showed a friend over the weekend. Spent is a thought provoking game because it shows the player the hard decisions that a less fortunate person is faced with on a daily basis. The idea of an empathy game that gives you a look into another way of life is powerful, and it made me think about how reading a book can help the reader to understand a different point of view. This also happens through documentaries and movies, so why not with games? People love playing games, and I think they can be the next frontier of meaningful communication. In playing Spent with my friend, we were able to talk through choices and implications, and it really made us consider the way other people live their lives.

You have the Audacity to ask me to edit sounds?

Here is the link to my Audacity project. The assignment was to work with a transition-- Alan's example was life- from birth to death. I thought a lot about transitions and the idea of seasons popped into my head. There are sounds that are distinctly associated with certain times of the year, and these sounds evoke memories that are dear to the listener. For spring- I thought of running water, in the form of melting snow and rain. For summer, I thought of waves, which evoke memories of summer at the beach. For autumn, I thought of crackling bonfires and wolves howling-- a nod to my love for Halloween (and my belief that we should change the name of the season from "autumn" to "Halloween." Finally, for winter, I used the sound of footsteps crunching across a snowy field. Backing all of this, I chose a light classical track that matched up conveniently well with my clips, and I worked the clips in by fading them in and out. I had a great time finally cracking the Audacity code, and I'm proud of my result!

Where the idea began

The process!
Collaborating with Cairo:

After looking through the projects being developed by the students in Cairo, I have chosen to work with Merna, whose empathy game in on the topic of single mothers in the patriarchal Arab society. I am already impressed by the work that Merna has done toward her game, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring Break Was Nice....

....and now we're back!

I'll be honest with everyone, I'm at a point in my semester where I have stress piled on stress piled on stress. Looking for jobs, and working on my thesis consumed every moment of spring break, so I apologize for running on Empty.

Regarding last class, I'm very happy with our conversation on the topic of games. I think people's favorite games tell a lot about them, and we had a great discussion about what we like and look for in games. It's interesting to me how many people get addicted to mobile games, and the different reasons they give for getting pulled in. Eni, in particular, mentioned Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a game that I also was sucked into a while back. It's crazy how even silly-seeming games have the power to pull you in.

When I was a child, video games were so important. I remember hours of playing Animal Crossing on my Nintendo DS with friends (with or without multi-player options), and bonding over the husbands and children we had in Harvest Moon. Kingdom Hearts is still my favorite game, and I have many fond memories of taking turns playing with my best friend. What strikes me about games like I've mentioned, is that they're still relevant today. The slightest mention of one of these games can turn into a full-blown nostalgia-fest with the most unexpected people, and I treasure these conversations. Although I was never a gamer, I understand why these bonds are important.

On a small scale this past weekend, my dad and I bonded over a hidden pictures-esque game he found on the Play Store (the name of which escapes me). We had a great time playing through and finding the hidden items, and it was a cool experience to bond over a multi-generational game taken to a mobile platform.

In class, I had the time of my life playing Little Alchemy 2, and it seems like others did as well. It was amazing to combine different elements and see what could be built, and remains an apt analogy for our class. Katherine's progress in the game was admirable, and I still can't figure out how she created life! I may have to go back and play some more, when I have time (hah-- what's "time"?)

I'm happy that I was able to participate in the studio visit with Remi Kalir and Keegan Long-Wheeler. As you will see in my first DDA response below, I am not well-versed in video games. I enjoy them, but I haven't played in years (although I'm coming out of retirement for Kingdom Hearts 3-- FINALLY). Our conversation regarding the importance of games made me ponder how they might be incorporated into the classroom to evoke responses from students. We live in a time where everyone is so jaded that we cannot take fun for granted, and I believe it should be integrated in every way possible. I'm excited to see the games that Professor Maha Bali's students in Egypt are working on, and I look forward to communicating with them!

DDAs: 3/13 through 3/19/18

My caption sums it I've said, video games are fun and important and cool but am I a gamer? Not whatsoever.

As Hailey and I have discussed, there's really no way of making eyes look normal in this kind of picture. But "artsy" was my goal so.....

In conclusion, I'm nervous for this week. Sound editing is not really my thing, so we'll see how it goes! I have a lot of admiration for people who do it well. Last semester, I was quite impressed by Brooke, and I can't wait to see what this semester brings!

Monday, March 5, 2018


I love digital art. I've been interested in the digital world for as long as I can remember, from, to, to my discovery of YouTube when it was a relatively new platform. I have always been interested in the different ways that people express their art, and I appreciate that GIFs are finally being given the recognition that they deserve.  

One of my favorite types of digital art are YouTube videos. I've loved YouTube for years and years, and it's my default for entertainment and news. I have a collection of favorite makers, some of whom I have followed for years, and I've learned so much. For example, one of my passions is makeup and, as a young girl, I used to watch Michelle Phan and Julia Graf, and that's how I learned to do makeup! It's also cool to me that, despite the fact that time has passed and much has changed, I could still find the videos I loved so long ago. By growing up in the digital age, digital art became my culture and I am grateful for it. 

GIFs are interesting to me because process GIFs, like the ones we worked on in class, aren't that different from videos. They show steps in a process and, if you're a visual learner, they might be even better for you than YouTube videos, which tend to have a lot of talking and explanation. 

Show your work:

Here are my syndicated blog posts. I seem to have10 from this semester.

Here is the link to my DDA responses, but for some reason nothing will load. Alan, thoughts? I've certainly been participating :) I haven't been as responsive as Kevin (@dogtrax) with his 51 tweets since January 1st, but I'm a top runner with 14 responses. 

Watch me go on TAGSExplorer at the above link! It's amazing to watch the course interactions mapped out. Netnarr really is a complex organism. Do you see me right in the center of it all? Let's play "Where's Waldo."

As for my place on the leaderboard of Makes, Hailey I'm coming for your title!

GIF a Process Make:

Showing off one of my favorite processes! I'm re-doing my nails tonight, so I will try to remember to take pictures in order to re-do this make. I'd like it to reflect the process a bit more, rather than just showing the components.

GIF if all Together: Digital Art / Digital Life Make

I had so much fun with remixing this GIF! I love reaction GIFs and the reactions I included are some that made me laugh quite a bit!

DDAs: 2/27 through 3/5

In a recent development, I am no longer able to embed my tweets here because I have made my Twitter account private-- at least for the time being. I am applying to teaching jobs and I don't want potential employers looking through my social media. Obviously there's nothing bad, but I can be silly with my friends and I need to attempt a professional persona ;) I'll make it public for the sake of Twitter chats and class events and, from now on, I will post screenshots of tweets. 

I love to share these photographs because I was quite proud of them. I've never seen such a beautiful rainbow!

This was so much fun! I made a QR code that links to my Twitter. I didn't know it was so easy to make one, and I'll keep this in mind for future projects. Of course I had to include glitter, it's my favorite!