Scavenger Hunt

Do this assignment AFTER you’ve done the readings for next week.

Find 2 online pieces of digital media that make you say “wow”– that might be wow in a good way (as in, “wow, that’s the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen!”) or in a bad way (as in, “wow, that’s total crap!”) or some combination. Both pieces shouldn’t be from the “bad wow” category  — mix it up a little, so you can have a variety of texts to consider.

Also, the examples you choose should vary in media and modes of communication in some way. iow, they shouldn’t all be animations, nor all web-comics, nor machinima, nor lolcats, nor webtexts, etc. This is to prevent you from getting stuck into one way of visualizing how a project might proceed.

Your examples may or may not have anything to do with writing studies. My main goal with this exercise is to have you explore different ways of presenting information/ideas/creativity using digital media and to ask you to think about WHY the pieces you choose make you say wow.

Read the pieces with the three sets of multimodal criteria in mind (posted in your homework Readings for next week; the 1-3 pagers)

Once you’ve read these pieces, you should Comment on this post and

  1. provide the citation of both pieces (as much as you think we need to figure out what it is and where to find it) and link to them
  2. describe the pieces (in 5-10 sentences/a paragraph each) telling us WHY the pieces make you say wow. Use as many terms/concepts from the multimodal reading criteria (from the homework readings) as seems necessary/useful. The point is to be explicit about how the piece is working and why you chose it as an example, using those criteria as a possible framework for that discussion/description.
  3. Finally, include any questions/concepts/terms that you wish had been included in the sets of criteria (e.g., terms YOU would have used, or did use, to describe the wowfulness of the pieces you chose but that weren’t listed in the provided criteria) and why these terms might be important to consider including when evaluating other pieces of digital media. iow, what’s missing?

These posts are due by noon, Wednesday, Sept. 21. Let me know if you have questions!

–cb

11 thoughts on “Scavenger Hunt

  1. Beth Keller

    First digital media: found online (http://www.juxtapoz.com/Features/a-tour-of-the-cosmos-in-bytes-and-atoms-by-the-imaginary-foundation) as an announcement for a new art installation opening up in L.A. A virtual gallery was created so users could interact in the gallery which is based on science and art. The virtual gallery is the digital media I want to talk about and it is found here : http://www.panomatics.net/theundividedmind/.

    All the text within the gallery is scholarly because it talks about important scientific discoveries such as the wormhole and Feynmann’s diagrams. With the use of aesthetics, the creators used the artwork “displayed” on the walls to show artistic drawings of the scientific discoveries. Some pieces of artwork include a video with an expert explaining the scholarly material. Even though this gallery is meant to be art itself, it presents academic material to whoever partakes in the virtual gallery. Linear text is an important mode within this gallery because it gives the explanation of the mathematical equation/scientific diagrams for less math/science savvy readers. But viewers can choose their own path as if they’re choosing their own path to discovery which is a great “A-ha” moment for students.

    I categorize this piece as a good “wow” because the multimodal elements work well for the content of the gallery. Some of the content is not information known by the general public so with the use of beautiful artwork, explanation videos, and the virtual realm, viewers feel connected and can understand the information in a different way. Overall, the virtual gallery is just really cool and creative, and I suggest to everyone to take the short trip around the gallery.

    Second digital media: I found this piece very interesting when I was looking through theJUMP for our assignment last week. The piece is in volume 1 issue 1 called NYC, Home of the homeless found here : http://jump.cwrl.utexas.edu/content/nyc-home-homeless.

    Anna Charles created this piece (video) to bring attention to the numbers of homeless people who live in NY. This is a great piece for anyone to see because some of us do not experience homeless people living in our towns/cities and some people experience it all the time but it does not affect them. The video allows the viewer to interact because the text within the video ask the viewer to count all the homeless people in the video. The video is short and does not have a lot of content but the message is very powerful and anyone can understand it. The linear text over the video correlates with what is happening in the video, but the music that plays adds a different affect. The character is walking around with her iPod and listening to Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t worry, be happy” and the viewer does not hear any other audio besides this song which symbolizes how people shut themselves off from the outside world by listening to their iPods. The media she used to create this project was very useful and will get a response out of people after they see it. The filming is simple, the linear text is straight followed, and the song is recognizable.

    This video was an okay “wow” to me just because of I was impressed by the simple message: there are a ton of homeless people (men, women, children) in NY. There is written text and explanation under the video but it’s from theJUMP’s editor’s board and I would have rather it been Charles’ account and explanation.

    Another concept I would have liked to include is based on the argument of using videos, sounds, and images because some say that it is a problem that people will get different meanings from them instead of a uniform explanation that should be in scholarly text. I believe that a scholarly, written piece that allows readers to get a different perspective than someone else encourages thinking outside the box and learning more on the topic. It is important for the reader to get the important information out of the text that will make them learn but I find it important for readers to gather their own understanding from an image or audio clip. An image is worth 1,000 words and many of those words can form cohesive interpretations of that image.

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  2. Chris Krueger

    The first digital media piece I found was http://www.thevenusproject.com/. It is a website dedicated to social change and gives guidelines about how they think this change should happen. I heard about this group from a few documentaries so I thought checking out their website could be interesting. I am only going to discuss the main page of this text because it is so large.
    The first things that stood out to me were the pictures that are the focus once you loaded the page. The pictures are very visually striking and futuristic looking which would intrigue me to look on if I didn’t already know what it was. After that, there is a brief and formal synopsis of what the project is trying to accomplish. There are embedded videos and text blocks that run to the bottom of the page that are introductions to the most recent news. I like that these nodes are small but can be enlarged if the reader wants more. It has both internal and external links that enhance the message. The design of the web text is easy to navigate and find the sections that one might be looking for. I would say this website is very successful because of its visual appeal and logical appeal in the text.
    The next piece I found was a random web comic page that I found. I am going to focus my attention on how a single comic looks among the rest of the media, so I’ll just use this one: http://www.invisiblehairsuit.com/school_lunch.htm.
    This comic page is a little disorienting because of its background image. It is hard to tell where to comic begins and where the background stops. There isn’t much of an introduction so it is hard to tell if these comics are supposed to have a point or are just silly. There are links at the top to different parts of the website but they are ill defined because of the background. If you click the comics tab it just says “select a comic below” but there are only three options that are very vague and near impossible to find a specific comic. I would say this website is not to my taste because of its difficult navigation and strange eyesore art.
    I am not too sure what else I would have liked to include except maybe a quantitative value of different types of media used. I don’t think more is always better but maybe there could be different classifications of text depending on its use of multiple medias.

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  3. Jess Krist

    First Piece: Found online: Harlot of the Arts No 6 (2011 Family Rhetoric) (http://harlotofthearts.org/index.php/harlot/article/view/83/73) A analysis on family rhetoric and how it functions in society.

    The piece is a video designed by a professor at Washington State University who explores the concept of “family” and what that rhetorically means in our society. The video introduces the idea of holiday cards and how as a common practice in modern day society people show off their families. Kristin L. Arola analyzes and concludes that the definition of family means having children, and how we as a society don’t deem other couples necessarily as a family unit unless they have children. The video incorporates not only her thoughts on the matter, but she also mentions google searches and displays typical images of what would be defined as family units.

    I thought this piece was a good wow because it helped me look at the idea of family a bit differently. Its kind of eye opening when you realize the social stigma of what is defined as family and what isn’t. Kristin mentions issues with infertility and how it plays out in society and family narratives. It allows the viewer of the video to see that the issue of family shouldn’t be looked at as simply black and white- that having kids is the main requirement for what defines family. Aside from that, the video was interesting because she uses a bit of sarcasm in explaining how her own life doesn’t follow the stereotype that society leads people into believing.

    Second Piece: I found online through The Jump (http://jump.cwrl.utexas.edu/content/sweet-interruption)

    This piece is an audio project that creates a social commentary on the notorious incident when Taylor Swift won a VMA and was interrupted mid-speech by Kanye West. The piece uses both a song of Taylor Swift’s and Beyonce’s and actual audio of her speech, Kanye’s interruption and Barack Obama’s thoughts on the issue. Along with the audio, there’s a transcript included and the students commentary of his project. The video’s title is “Sweet Interruption” in which Beyonce’s song “Sweet Dream” interrupts each piece of speaking audio.

    I thought the project was really well done and made a great commentary on the whole situation. Because Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift to praise Beyonce, it was only fitting that Beyonce’s song was laced through the whole thing to display the “power” her music displays, so to speak. I wouldn’t say this is the best thing I’ve ever seen, I wish the students commentary was a bit more in depth with what he was trying to do, because when listening to the audio I didn’t get his full intentions with using Obama’s opinion or why he chose the specific Beyonce song he did. With audio pieces I think its hard to get your full intention realized because the audience is only relying on the aural mode to interpret what the author is trying to convey.

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  4. Chris Snyder

    For this assignment I thought it would be a good idea to use a website that I frequent a lot. http://www.altpress.com/ It is an online publication that specializes in giving up to date information on bands in the alternative/hip hop/metal/hardcore/punk/pop genres. This is also a publication that is in print which I subscribed to in the past.

    When I read the description for this assignment and saw that the digital medias we should be using should demonstrate different modes of communication I immediately thought of AltPress. I have always been wow’d by this website simple because of it’s accessibility. There are so many ways to interact with this website in a quick and easy manner. In addition to that, their use of media to communicate with it’s readers is outstanding. AltPress uses all forms of media from video like interviews and music videos, to audio like podcasts, to webtext, and sometimes even interactive features that allow the reader to communicate directly with the bands via video chat or web chat.

    As I said before this the accessibility of this website is great. Even if one doesn’t particularly enjoy the content, it’s hard to deny that the AltPress web editors know what they’re doing. The page is set up in a form that makes it easy for the reader to navigate though and allows the website to easily express to it’s readers what it’s trying to do.

    The second digital media I chose was a website called Fifty People One Question. http://fiftypeopleonequestion.com/ It is a project based website set up by a filmmaker who is “Exploring human connections through time and place.” The simplicity in the form this website uses to convey its purpose makes in particularly wow-ful.

    The page itself is set up in a very minimalistic manner. Everything that the website is trying to represent is located on the one page but with links to other ways of following the project i.e. Facebook, Vimeo, etc. The Project itself is very interesting and uses only videos and a small amount webtext on the site itself but uses a great deal of webtext in the for of response to the project.

    What wow’s me about this site is that the videos overshadow the need for the website to have to be flashy and intensely media driven, other than the videos themselves to get the point across. It’s interesting to me that in such so little words, the project emits a great deal of emotion to it’s viewer whether you hate it or love it.

    I want to think that I understand the terms we were supposed to use for this assignment pretty well and even if I didn’t use the terms as much as I should have or even in the right context, I do feel I understand them. What I noticed about looking at these medias and trying to figure out why I liked them so much I found myself using the word “accessible” a lot. I think this is very important when working with any media. Websites, books, magazines, videos, they should all be accessible in that you should be able to find what you’re looking for when you have them in front of you but also that you should be able to find them easily when they’re not. Accessibility is very important to me because if something is too complicated or too “inaccessible” for what I need it for, I will probably end up looking somewhere else.

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  5. Brian Sorenson

    http://smarthistory.org/ is, as its “about” section describes, an “(online) art history textbook.” The site has an enormous catalog of art dating from the Paleolithic era until contemporary times. Users can sort by time period, style, artist, origin, and theme to find a litany of works of art.

    This particular piece of online digital media stands out to me because of the wealth of information the site contains and the intuitive way in which it is conveyed. The horizontal, tabbed timeline of art on the home page grants the user plenty of information while still managing to take up little space on the page and without being too flashy for its own good. When clicking on an artwork the user is brought to a page that details information on the artist, the context in which the artwork was created, and often a video review of the work by art experts.

    Smarthistory succeeds as a useful source of information because it elegantly combines multiple multimodal elements without going overboard. The site’s layout combines the classical, ornate paintings at the forefront with modern, understated website design to create a visually appealing library of information. So much information is available to users yet at the same time it never feels like there’s an information overload.

    “Mind Lab,” located at http://jvsc.jst.go.jp/find/mindlab/english/index.html, is an informative, multimedia-rich piece of digital media that combines images, text, and movies to explain how the brain works.

    Digital media such as this highlights how useful multimodality truly is in conveying ideas as complex and multifaceted as the ones the site expounds upon. The images are, by the very definition of the word, eclectic, piquing one’s curiosity to explore the media further. The bold design of the site draws viewers in and showcases ideas that would be hard to comprehend using mere static text alone.

    The site “wowed” me because of how successful it is in imparting knowledge of such a profound, intellectually taxing concept in such a relatively simple way. This, I feel, is in keeping in what our reading discusses when it mentions the importance of cohesion between text and visual designs.

    A concept I’d have liked to have been included in the sets of criteria used to judge how the media stands out to me is the appropriateness of the digital media given the information being conveyed. In other words, are there certain types of information that are better fits for certain types of media? Smarthistory is a website dedicated to art, so it seems like a logical fit for the site to be very image-heavy. Mind Lab is similarly multimedia-heavy because it conveys abstract ideas that mere text might not do justice. Yet might there not be certain data that would be overshadowed by such a flashy presentation?

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  6. Jenna Salak

    so the first media I have can be found at http://youtu.be/xHCu28bfxSI
    this is a video we watched in my visible rhetoric class that made me go, “wow” in a bad way. The video is a lady gaga spoof used to inform people about neutraface typography/font. The video is informative and academic but when you listen to the lyrics of the song, the language is geared toward a very specific culture, i.e. graphic designers who are familiar with terminology referring to typography. My professor showed us this video because we are working on a project using different text, type font, and so forth to come up with a creative design. Even though the video was a great way to get the class to engage and discuss on the topic of different typography, (multimodal process), the video was too weird for my liking. I think that the visual aspects of the music video were great in getting the point about the neutraface text across, but since I am just learning about typography and the different terms, I found it difficult to follow and the lyrics hard to understand. However, I will give the creators of the video credit for using all five modes of multimodal composition.

    Secondly, the good “wow” comes from http://www.coolinfographics.com/blog/2011/5/10/sitting-all-day-is-killing-you-infographic.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CoolInfographics+%28Cool+Infographics%29

    I came across this informative cartoon/poster series when exploring harlotofthearts.com. I thought the images were visually stimulating while the text was informative and also engaged the reader in further thinking about ways in which we can be more active. I think that the argument about how people are not active enough especially rings true to our society here in america because we have the most obese country. Many, in fact, most jobs in america involve sitting in a chair at a desk behind a computer for almost 8 hours a day. These images really hone in on the damage lack of movement and exercise can do to a person’s body. Personally, I have never heard of an infographic before, so this was a new type of multimedia for me as a viewer.

    Concepts I wish were included in these examples would be that the second piece has no designer linked to the image/information and it would be nice to know who it was so the reader could look up more things they have created. I guess I am not really sure how both of my websites/medias reflect popular trends/memes found online either. The only popular culture I could come up with is that the music video was made on youtube, which is a very popular website in today’s internet use. I have no idea how to make an infograph so this is an intriguing, new media that I think is teaching “new” technology but how to make one is very unclear to me.

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  7. Erin Lentz

    For my first digital media I found online was an interactive piece. This site allows you to learn how to use a camera hands on without actually having the camera with you. You can try this at: http://camerasim.com/camera-simulator.html

    This website is a simulator of the SRL camera that allows you to play with all the different settings the camera has and even lets you take pictures after you made the settings how you want them. This made me say “wow” because you usually don’t see a camera simulator to help you learn about the settings, it’s usually just a plain web text explaining what to do. This gives you the hands on experience even if you don’t have the camera with you. It also allows you to take snap shots so you can see if you did something wrong if the picture didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. This site is also helpful because it also includes web text about each setting and what it does so you are not lost when trying to learn how to work everything, making this good for both visual and hands on learners.
    I would have included new media when describing this because I feel like this is more cutting edge and not a lot of other websites have simulators for different products. Also whenever there is new media involved I feel like everyone is wowed because it’s something they are unfamiliar with so it’s very exciting.

    The second digital media I found online was a type of web comic. This website has a ton of web comics and funny pictures to look at and read. You can look at them here: http://9gag.com/gag/278259

    This piece makes me say “wow” on a more funny way than an impressive way. I thought it was funny because we talked about in class how we all don’t like comic sans and that is what it’s making fun of. It got the message across using text but incorporating it into a picture. Because this is not written out as just a web text it allows us to visualize somewhat of a story of how those signs were put on the door. Also with this visual you can see the different font types and makes you realize if you haven’t already that comic sans is not professional.
    I feel like these web comics are seen and done a lot so I think they need to somehow add new media and make them more interesting.

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  8. Kasha Henricks

    The first piece of digital media that I found online was from The JUMP webpage, http://jump.dwrl.utexas.edu/content/lp3girltalk. This piece discussed the artist Girl Talk and the legality of the music he is creating. The piece includes a video of a voice over of a man who clearly favors the idea of artists like Girl Talk and a series of slide show pictures.

    This piece gave me a mediocre “wow.” The visual aspects of this video were only okay. I found that while the voiceover was telling me information that I found interesting and entertaining the pictures that were being shown were not up to par. I found my visual attention wandering. At one point throughout the video I brought up my solitaire screen, while still listening to the piece I was temporarily distracted because it was not visually captivating. I felt that the piece did, however, effectively engage an issue. It was discussing the legality of creating a new genre of music by eliminating the use of copyright infringement. He appeared to use a variety of different sources and did a good job citing each of those sources throughout the piece. This piece does a good job of explaining both sides of the argument and then makes a good argument. It is clear which side of the issue the creator stands on and he makes multiple good points to support his opinion.

    The second piece of digital media I found came from the Harlot webpage; http://harlotofthearts.org/index.php/harlot/article/view/83/73. This piece is called Rhetoric, Christmas Cards and Infertility: A Season of Silence. This piece would be considered an audio essay that focuses on what makes up a family.

    I found this piece to be extremely moving and interesting. Throughout the essay the author suggests that couples without children are not technically considered a family. It suggests that children are essential to the idea of what a family truly is. This piece uses a voice over of an audio essay that examines the rhetoric involved in family and fertility. I felt as though this piece made me say “wow.” The visuals that went along with the essay were interesting. They were constantly changing and the pictures completely related to the words being spoken. It was clear that a lot of research went into this project and in the end the author does a good job of citing all her sources. This piece gave me better understanding of the word family and showed me that there are many more definitions than originally expected. I liked this piece because I felt that it opened the door to a new way of thinking, at least it opened my door to a new way of thinking.

    I feel that when examining these pieces I was wondering if video was the best way to display these topics. The idea of how best to present something is crucial to creating a good piece. How do you know if it’s right? Or how do you know if you’re even on the right track? Discovering the best way to create a piece can make or break it. It is important to understand what aspects of each piece are important to display and how best to display them.

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  9. Casey Kilroy

    The first piece of digital media that I found online is a website called “The Open University” http://www.open.ac.uk/openlearn/history-the-arts/culture/english-language/words-language-points-debate ; a site that is a mostly free online school that anyone with a curiosity to learn can access. The subjects that are available to learn and explore on the site include mathematics, science, natural history, environmental studies, politics, law, money management, psychology, and even foreign languages, among many other subjects. The following link http://media.open2.net/periodictable/body-chemistry.html is an example of an interactive chemistry diagram that shows the “student” which elements make up the human body; how much of each element is used, and where it can be found (brain, heart, lungs, etc.) This diagram also shows harmful and essential elements for the human body, a detailed description of those elements, where they can be found in nature, and what they are used for. Not only does this website feature interactive diagrams such as the “Body Chemistry” one, but it also is home to many instructional videos by professionals of various fields, PowerPoint-style presentations, audio recordings, and of course “old fashion” written text. I think having an “open” university style website like this is very useful and helpful to not only prospective students who might not be able to afford a “traditional” education, but also for those students in traditional schools who spend a great deal of time online and find it easier to learn on their own time in a more digitally interactive format.

    The second piece of digital media that I found extremely interesting and exciting is an interactive demo for the recently open to the public (as of 9/20/11) social networking site, Google+(Google Plus). This is the search engine giant’s answer to the dominating social networking sites of today; Facebook and Twitter. The demo http://www.google.com/+/demo/ boasts an interactive layout that gives users the ability to explore the new social networking site by guiding them through the new features (actually letting them preform actions as they would if they had a Google+ profile) as well as showing videos of users using the site and its features in various creative ways. I think that this method that Google used to give potential users an introduction to their brand new product (that is, let them explore its features in a hands on format on their own time) is a very clever marketing tactic, especially when it is geared to an audience that might be weary of switching over to another social networking site. Also, letting potential users preform actions as they would if they had a Google+ profile makes the transition from being a prospective user to an active user much more seamless.

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  10. Chris Monforton

    I don’t know if this counts as an example, but my first one would have to be http://mlb.mlb.com/index.jsp. This website is very interactive. In fact, I would have to say MLB’s website is more interactive and user friendly then any other sports website. I am constently on this site checking scores and updates. The interactive style this websiet gives us allows us to see basically everything we need just on the home page. It even has an interactive scoreboard on the side giving you details on everygame thats going on or is about to go on that particular day. So obviously this made me say wow in a good way. When you have almost everything you need at the very first page, you know you have a good piece that will make others say wow as well.

    The second piece I chose is http://www.gq.com/. Not gonna lie, I do enjoy reading GQ magazines. But since each magazine is around 5 dollars now, and since I’m too lazy to subscribe to the magazine, I use the website instead. The website also makes me say wow, but not necessarily in a good way, not bad either. The website is meant to make people more interested in buying an actual print subscription of the magazine. So a lot if the articles on the website either are just previews of what is in the print version, or random articles that aren’t found in the magazine itself. Still though, its a great way to keep up with men’s fashion and style by incorporating ease of use with great articles.

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  11. Bridget Clemens

    The “good Wow!” piece of media I found was at: http://harlotofthearts.org/index.php/harlot/article/view/85/65. It is a piece on the popular sitcom, “Modern Family”, and how its seemingly cutting-edge premises are actually reinforcing a lot of traditional family stereotypes.

    As someone who very much enjoys the show, I found myself challenging what the author was trying to prove. I wanted to believe the show is successful because it IS so true and relatable to today’s modern family. Had I simply read an online article or something printed on paper, I may have not been convinced by the author. However, the author made use of both images and videos to support her arguments, and in the end I agreed with her viewpoint. Though I still love the show! 🙂

    All in all, I liked this piece because it used other forms of media (image, video) to strengthen the author’s argument and make a point. The author would have had a much more difficult job proving her point without the use of other media.

    ———————–

    My “bad Wow!” piece of media can be found at: http://www.ehow.com/how_9191_program-rca-universal.html. It is a set of instructions for how to program a universal remote.

    The article makes use of one image (friends sitting on a couch, one looking perplexed at the remote), but besides adding visual “interest” to the webpage, it is useless. Though the instructions are pretty clear and would be helpful, it would have been easy to add a picture of a remote with important buttons highlighted, or it could have had a video (or link to a video) of someone actually SHOWING step-by-step how to program the remote.

    I do like that there is a place to leave comments/ask questions at the end so that there is interaction and more information for those who need it. The website is not the worst thing in the world, but it could have made better use of other media in order to be more helpful to its users.

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