Amazing

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Great long take, insane performance, just watch this:

“Fake” Commercials

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While doing research for my “Promotional Platform” final project, I stumbled upon the best fake commercial that I have ever seen. As (intellectual) Middlebury students, I think that you would all greatly appreciate this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NKXNThJ610

Final Portfolio

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PROJECT LINKS

Project 1 - Paper

Project 2Podcast

Project 3Remix

*Project 3 Disclaimer!* This was obviously not my “lucky project.” For starters, my partner did not let me know that he would not be returning to Middlebury in time until very late, so I ended up doing my project by myself and with very little idea of what to do since I could not implement my original idea. Now, it seems that I foolishly deleted the video from YouTube and naturally, cannot find my back-up copy because I deleted my portable drive and returned it to Ethan already. To refresh your memory, I did the music mash-up with scenes from Shrek.

Project 4Gaming

Project 5Final

SELF-EVALUATION

Class: To my knowledge, I attended every single class (and if I missed one, it was surely due to illness). I did all of the readings (some more carefully than others, if my interest in the subject exceeded the usual amount), I participated in class discussions, and completed all of my assignments in a timely manner. Surely, on the surface, all of these characteristics would deem be the exemplary student. However, I will be the first to admit that towards the end, my blogging diminished and the content of all of my work may have lacked intellectual depth. However, I will take credit in being the one who told Joe that I really wanted to go see the servers…that whole trip may have not happened had it not been for my childlike enthusiasm (just saying…) As for my final project, I put in a lot of time and hard work into it, the minute that I came up for the idea in class. I think my final project is more substantial than my previous projects. (Grade: B-)

Blogging: In the beginning, my blogging was “on-time” and somewhat informative. However, as the semester continued, I did not keep up with it as much as I could have. I attribute this to two things: 1) I have my own personal blog that I started this January that I write in every day (www.DawsonDanger.com) and 2) I didn’t come across as many “technical” things in my every day life that merited to be written about. At the expense of a better grade, I would rather not write than write something pointless simply for the sake of adding posts to increase the amount. (Grade: C-)

Twitter: If there is a redeeming facet to my academic achievement in “Media Technology and Cultural Change” it is my Twittering. I think I was just about the best Twitterer. I tweeted about necessary things, unnecessary things, funny things, personal things, re-tweeted the greats (Ebert, Colbert, Cavaliers…) I think my participation in Twitter was stellar and few can disagree. I think Twitter (especially if you have it in an easily accessible form, for example as an application on my phone) is a great tool to quickly and easily mass-communicate. (Grade: A+)

Overall Grade: B-

The Next Polaroid Revival

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Though I do not own an iPhone, I’m always looking for new cool applications for my iPod Touch.  The limitations of the Touch keep me from having a lot of the good applications is the only problem.

I stumbled upon this application called ‘The Best Camera’  which is a great combination of multiple capabilities of the iPhone.  It is to a certain extent a photoshop type application where you can edit photos that you’ve taken on your phone and then save them.  The aspect of it that really intrigued me though was the sharing community that it brings to the table.  After you have gone through the array of filters, vignettes, frames, contrast settings, etc., you can then upload to the internet.  With the click of one button, it is linked to your Facebook, Twitter, email, phone memory, and ‘thebestcamera.com’s online interactive gallery.

On the website there is a live feed of pictures that people have taken and uploaded.  You can look at all the pictures, pictures of the hour, pictures of the day, and pictures of the month.  It really encourages people to put their work up for recognition across the globe.  I feel that this is a new sort of technology that is really encouraging the use of the cell phone camera for arts sake and for sharing inside of a community.  The website was inspired by a book that the creator put together called THE BEST CAMERA is the one you have with you.  He created the book completely of pictures taken with his iPhone to demonstrate that it is not as much about what camera you use as it is what you take a picture of.  With new applications coming out that focus on the community built around the app, I think that even simple things such as being able to put a filter on your photos will expand because of the ability to share and compare.

So grab your iPhone and get THE BEST CAMERA application if you want to make it on the top photo of the hour/day/month chart, until I get an iPhone, I will be content with Paper Toss and Duck Hunt.

http://www.thebestcamera.com/app.html

youtube costumes?

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For every freshman’s first a cappella concert, they must dress in accordance to a theme that us older members have decided on. I wasn’t a part of the conversation last night when the group decided on a costume theme, but I found out tonight that the Freshmen are required to dress as Youtube videos….

WHAT?! How do you dress as a video? My first reaction was, well that’s dumb… themes are only fun if people in the audience understand what the theme is. Then I realized that viral YouTube videos are probably one of the most recognizable things in our generation. The frequency of YouTube videos being quoted on a daily basis is ridiculous. And the fact that someone can randomly say as much as one word (ex: “Charlieee”) or a phrase in a specific accent (ex: “my son is gay!”) and everyone in the room immediately knows it and chimes in.

Our freshmen will be dressing as: Nobody’s Perfect, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, I Like Turtles, Justin Beiber Girl, Sassy Gay Friend (Romeo and Juliet version), and Things I Hate. YouTube ‘em to check ‘em out.

I still think it’s going to be hard to recognize the videos from our freshman’s costumes alone, because obviously what is SAID in the videos is most recognizable. Still, it’s pretty crazy to see how media technology influences today’s society in the weirdest ways.

HBO imagine

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I think the idea behind HBO imagine is very cool. However, I’m not sure how effective I think it is. In terms of creating an interactive “movie,” I don’t like it. The way the scenes are shot, to show how a scene changes when viewed from a new perspective, is really cool. I especially love the scenes that are on the spinning cubes. Those I found to be the most fun to play with. What I don’t like though is having pauses between each scene of the “movie.” I don’t like seeing it out of order either. I understand that the whole point is to be interactive and “unlock” scenes and put it all together yourself, but I’m not into it. But then I also had an interesting thought …. if I think of this as a “game” and not an “interactive story,” i all of a sudden become much more interested. Calling it something different obviously doesn’t change what it is, at all, but it changes the way I look at “the interactive experience.” I don’t like the idea of changing the movie-watching experience, but I might be up for a interactive video puzzle.

My friend the mash-up artist

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After all our talk about remix culture and looking at different mash up artists, I decided I wanted to give mash-up a try. I figured I could put something together, even if it was simple and sounded shitty, but sure enough I couldn’t even pick two songs to put together from my itunes. Hunter, on the other hand, has been working on some of his first mash ups, and has been much more successful. He’ll warn you “it’s just his first attempt” as to not get your hopes up before hearing it, but I’m entirely impressed with what he’s produced. We make the argument that with today’s technology, anyone can produce music, etc. from their own lap top. But knowing what software is best and then knowing how to use it and putting it to use, is a whole other story.

Since Hunter wouldn’t blog about it himself, I’m putting it up for him.

Enjoy  - “Tik Tok In Spain” by Hunter Nolan

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_3766672

Façade

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I quickly played “Façade” today and I must say that the concept is fancy but did not really interest me. It is quite fascinating and at the same time scary, to imagine that computers could recreate a human conversation. Hopefully, Façade fails in this task as I obviously tried crazy things right at the beginning and reached the limits of their “realist” speech abilities. I was surprised though that after a good five minutes of obnoxious behaviour, the guy decided to throw me out!
On my second attempt, I tried to steal the woman from her husband by helping the situation to deteriorate but suddenly I encountered a bug and I was locked outside the flat and could not go in anymore.
I don’t think I could have managed to accomplish my evil goal and therefore I am a bit sorry that the game sticks to conventional attitudes. Once again, I do not see the interest of having to play games that exactly copy our reality. It is so much more fun to be able to do something that we are enable to do in the non-virtual world.

Wait What.. You’re Taking It Down?

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Wait What is a mashup artist that I recently found through the website.  www.themusicleak.com who did a full album of mixes between Notorious B.I.G. and a band called The XX.  I saw his videos on youtube and loved the mixes that he was making, very simple but still musically stimulating.

As always, I wanted to download the music so that I could have it and even mix it up  little when I found time.  Upon reaching his website I tried to find the download link that the blog had talked about.  The DL link had been closed because the company that owns the rights to Notorious’ music had found out and sent a letter demanding for the music to be taken down.

Screen shot 2010-05-04 at 4.46.56 PM

I understand the fact that they don’t want their copyrighted material to be downloaded freely but at the same time, all of the videos on youtube are still up.  Not only this but on his Soundcloud.com account, you can still individually download every track that he’s mashed so far with Notorious.  Is it that they just haven’t found out yet that it is still online or do they not care that it is available elsewhere.

After Patti said that her soundtrack had been taken down from her youtube post, it doesn’t make sense why youtube would not take this down as well.  Or if not youtube, why the people from the record company would not go after every form that he has his music being shared through.  It is just as much of an infringement of the copyright and isn’t parody so I don’t believe that it could be considered as something that falls under the creative commons license.  This line is still something that seems to be blurry in our online and media culture.

There are definitely places that copyright infringing work can be hidden online but I wouldn’t expect youtube to be one of them.  Is it fair that youtube doesn’t get in trouble for hosting this and not taking it down or is it the responsibility of the uploader to realize their (dead)wrong-doings and take them down?  Also, is it likely that certain record companies are much more keen on where their music is being shared and stopping it or is it a matter of someone reporting it to them?  I’d like to know how it is that they come across these things that they aren’t alright with and how they go about getting it down.  I also would like to see an overhaul to a certain extent to the copyright laws that makes it legal for people to use other work as an inspiration of their own artistic creations without repercussions (wishful thinking but hey… The Sky Is The Limit[Biggie reference!])

Have a listen and enjoy, I love Juicy-R and Island’s the Limit.

Waking up in the same place every morning is boring.

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That is the “slogan” of the company that has started this Software/Hardware interface and design.  I stumbled across this and was at first confused to exactly what it did but once the video get going, it shows you how it works.  I think that integrating a digital HD reality “outside” of your windows is a really cool idea that would definitely confuse people who didn’t know and get them intrigued when they realized that the Golden Gate Bridge or International Space Station wasn’t really outside.  It reminds me a lot also of the computer/projector that Joe showed me that works based on where the necklace sensor is in relation to your fingers.  None of these things are fully functional or without hinges yet but I can see them becoming contenders of a new market in the future.  The integration of the iPhone into this Winscape product is also very good strategy because it is building off of an already existing hit that millions(?) have at the moment.  With HD, 4K, and all of the stunning new video resolutions, these might be more believable than I could imagine in the near future.  I think I would wake up in the Bahamas every day, now just to get the snow to stop and the sun to come… digitally.

Grace and Trip’s Big Night In.

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In exploring Façade, I found it to be a very interesting “game”.  From my first experience of watching Torren knock on the door and start to engage with both Trip and Grace, I was very intrigued by the typing recognition.  The fact that it is able to discern what you are saying by picking out different pieces of what you type is something that I haven’t before seen incorporated into a game or interface.  In exploring what they say and respond to, I had a desire to try to push its limits with words that I wasn’t sure it would recognize.  In asking for different types of drinks when he offers one and chatting with Trip about his trip to Europe, it was apparent that there definitely were surprising results and boundaries.

Sometimes the game would move on as though you hadn’t said a sentence and sometimes your sentence would stop him mid conversation to branch off into something that he wanted to talk about.  In a game ( I use the term loosely) that incorporates you into the way in which the plot pushes, I also wondered if it would be possible to recreate the same experience twice.  It seemed to me that there was a “web” that it followed as you trickled down into more specific experiences until you either got kicked out or helped them resolve their differences.  When Molly said that she was very nice the whole time and just asked about insignificant things around the apartment, they still fought.  It seems that the role the game asks you to play is mediator to the two of them.  You can either help avoid a fight, push for a fight, or do nothing and they still fight.

I think that this game opens up a new window and could easily be built upon to make the overall experience more immersive and less restricted.  Having won the Grand Jury Prize in 2006 at the Slam Dance Independent Games Festival, it certainly shows promise and the possibility of future inspiration.  Weird to think that soon enough computers will not only be able to recognize text but also understand what it says and respond with an answer.  Will the roles be switched someday where we are in the position of Trip and Grace and the computer acts as mediator?  Hopefully not!

HBO Imagine

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So after discussing HBO Imagine today in class I wanted to and fully plan to explore it more in depth than I did. That said I would like to share my thoughts on what I did think.

I thought it was an interesting new form of media and a bold and probably ahead-of-its time brand building technique by HBO. With the exception of crappy choose-your-own adventure books, which do not even compare to HBO imagine, I have never seen anything like it. The idea of the viewer having such control of what they take in information, what order they take in that information, and even how they take in the information is totally new to me and really cool to see. I thought the visuals were very cool and overall production quality was also very respectable considering the online and free-of-charge nature of the content. That said I did see some problems.

From the very start I did feel a little unsure of myself on how to actually run/watch/play (what should we call it?) the media. Of course, I rushed in without reading the introduction or instructions and so I didn’t know about the web button at the top of the screen until I had been on for 20 minutes or so. This meant that I was taking in content by blindly clicking on pictures in the background of the graphic, I had no idea as two how I was supposed to follow the narrative. This was not the best means of doing it. I think my other major problem was my ADD in terms of taking stuff in. I would be into videos and then bored by things like newspaper clippings. I would also be eager to see what else was on the Imagine and had trouble watching entire videos before wanting to click and see what else there was.

I think that the reason HBO did not find as much success in Imagine as they thought they were going to was because most viewers are not necessary literate in this type of media. I wouldn’t be surprised if more attempts like this pop up in the future, but I think in this instance (as there is always the case of new media/innovation) that this early attempt was a little bit ahead of its time.

Hannah’s Final Portfolio

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Welcome to my final portfolio for Media Technology & Cultural Change. Below you will find the four projects we put together through the semester, and a final project to wrap up the year. Through the semester we studied how today’s technologies affect society and how we interact with other people and media, differently from how we did before certain media were available.

PAPER

Paper1

Our first project was to use the medium of paper, to make an analysis, or statement, about paper. Guillaume, Hunter and I decided at the beginning of our brainstorming that we wanted to make an argument contrary to what many people were saying in class – that paper was such a limited medium compared to computers, and other new media which incorporated the ideas of paper in a modern form. We wanted to somehow show how versatile paper is, but at first struggled to figure out how we would do this on just one sheet of paper. We were working just after reading McCloud’s book on comics, and found ourselves inspired by the reading to make the design of our paper similar to that of a comic book page. We decided that by incorporating a narrative, we would be able to show multiple uses of paper, from a global perspective. We used the time line of a traveler to display paper in its many forms. We started first with three definitions of paper, hoping to allow our audience to understand that this was a project about paper’s different capabilities. Then we began our paper adventure across the world to Paris, and we showed paper as a passport, map, photograph, currency, e-mail, newspaper, map, and paper airplane.

With our final product, we wanted to show not only these different USES of papers, but also the different PROPERTIES of paper. Properties that our project demonstrates is that paper is tactile, tangible, manipulative, transportable, moderately delicate, and flexible.

We used as much original material as possible to collage, so the notebook paper, photograph, newspaper, e-mail, and currency were all real. By doing this, we were able to show that paper can also be different in terms of it’s style of make, and its finish (glossy vs. matte).

Unfortunately, putting this project on an online blog to display, takes away the ability for an audience to see some of our main points, because so much of our analysis has to do with the physical properties of paper and how it feels to hold it in your hands and interact with it. After flipping through the project sequentially, the paper opens up fully and you can see the different components in their comic book-like layout. Please go to http://sites.middlebury.edu/littleepstein/2010/03/10/paper-project/ to see the FULL project!!

PaperFull1PaperFull2



PODCAST

I really enjoyed this project, because I love working with audio and had an opportunity to do lots of mixing for my and Shane’s podcast. I think I also found it to be one of the most difficult projects. Although putting together what we have was quite time consuming, it wasn’t the writing, recording, or editing that was the hardest task. Coming up with the initial project idea was very challenging. For all the projects in this class, the hardest part was not coming up with what analysis or critique you want to make about a medium, but how to convey that message without explicitly stating it in the final piece. I think I struggled with this more on the podcast than any other project. I’m also not sure though that I was aware of this struggle until we presented in class for our critiques. I am still very pleased with our final product in terms of craft, and I think it still makes valid points about what media has become today, but I do wish I had thought more outside the box for how to present our idea. I think the moment that this project really clicked for me was when we heard Mark and Guillaume’s podcast (listen here: http://sites.middlebury.edu/mwhelan/2010/03/07/podcast-project/). Some people in class argued that while the project was very well done for those of us who knew the assignment, I thought it was spot on for any audience. I thought it made a classic argument about how strongly different audio can effect us, and was presented in a great way which required no explicit explanation.

REMIX VIDEO

When Toren and I initially came up with our idea, we thought it was a good one and were excited about it. Then as we continued to gather YouTube clips of Justin Beiber and Tay Zonday, I started to worry that we were focusing too much on the narrative of YouTube fame, and not enough on the concept of remix culture. But then I realized that what we were doing was making a documentary, and really the whole genre of documentary filmmaking is remix. Documentaries use film from varying sources, and cut it together to tell one cohesive story. I hope that Toren and I were successful in doing this with our video about YouTube stardom. We pulled over 30 different clips from YouTube to create a remix video, and chose to tell two contrasting stories of YouTube fame, allowing us to incorporate some of the other ideas we’ve talked about in class, in addition to the remix style. I think this was my most successful project this semester in making an analysis without making any explicit statements of my own. I think the media really makes the point itself, and that an audience from outside our class would also understand.

GAMING


The statement we wanted to make with this project was that people become so involved in their games, that they enter a second life through their avatar. Video games become a way for people to escape (get away) from the real world, and do things that would have too severe consequences in their first life. We chose the song “Get Away” to help establish this theme and make the timeline a cohesive piece. We also wanted to make a B statement about the art of machinima. We chose Grand Theft Auto as our game to escape into because it allows the player to control the camera angles. We worked hard to choose specific shots from distinct camera angels so that it wouldn’t just look like a simple video game image. Then we cut it all together and intercut with shots of Hunter playing the game to show the juxtaposition of the avatar second life, and Hunter in real life with the game controller in his hand.

I think this was a successful project in making our analysis clear through the media itself. People in the class seemed to have a clear understanding of our argument, as did friends outside the class who I showed it to.
Unfortunately we didn’t find time to shoot new scenes to add, but I think adding a more finalized ending would have made the project better. We could have ended with a shot of Hunter putting down the controller and walking out of the room after the game ended.

FINAL PROJECT
Since our group really enjoyed the video game project, we wanted to play with that idea more, and expand on the concept that we displayed in the previous project. We were initially going to do our final project with a more general theme to say what the class was about as a whole, but decided that was too broad and going to be too difficult to put into one self explanatory project. We wanted to make sure we incorporated different media and made a more in-depth analysis of how people interact with video games.

Similar to my and Hunter’s gaming project, Hunter, Shane, and I wanted to have that same analysis embedded in it, while also elaborating on how people can not only get away, but also become whoever they want. From the comfort of their bedroom, they can be anyone from a professional football player, to a snowboarder, to a guitarist. We also chose to use footage of the real professionals to show how video games mimic real life. For music we chose to use “Tribute to Ms. Lonely” by Milkman because we spent so much time on the remix culture in class, and because the structure of this project also demonstrates the craft of a remix video. We also wanted to have a “mash up” song for our music because a song like this is always changing, using various components but still acts as one independent unit. This is just like Shane in the video, who as a gamer can play as many different people and imagine himself at the professional level of any career, but behind the controller he is one independent human being, potentially lacking all of those skills in real life.

In terms of making the project better, I wish that we had each dressed as video game characters for the final shots down the hallway. Our point for using that sequence was to show Shane as himself, and then as different versions as if he was morphing from all his different games. We each wore his t-shirt to try to link each person to Shane, but I think each dressing as a video game character or at least holding a prop (football, snowboard, guitar) would have made this point more clear, and wrapped up the project with a stronger ending.


Photojournalism

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This past weekend, the New York Times had what they called a “Moment in Time” challenge, which invited readers across the globe to take a picture wherever they were on Sunday afternoon at 11 AM.  They had several thousand submissions and are apparently in the process of sorting through them all now, though they have published a few.  This is a perfect example of the democratization of popular culture, as now, everyone has the chance to become a NY Times photographer, at least to some extent.  What does this mean for the medium?  How will the hierarchy of artistic talent be changed by the newly opened door?  This are questions I ask regularly and continue to hope that our standards won’t change too much.

see http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/readers-13/

Foursquare

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Has anyone heard of or used the new-ish app, Foursquare?  It’s one of the zillion new “startups” coming out of New York.  It works like this; you arrive at a restaurant or bar or a party, and you “check in” on Foursquare rather than sending a mass text to a bunch of friends telling them where you are.  Then, instead of responding to and receiving a bunch of mass texts from friends telling YOU where THEY are, you peruse Foursquare to see where everyone is.  A recent New Yorker article commented, “Foursquare is also useful if you want to let everyone know that you are.”  In short, it’s a new kind of “ambient awareness,” the phenomenon we talked about in our conversations about Twitter.  At the same point, the new app to have a slightly more complex function as it does more than just tell the world where you are at a given moment–it’s a time-saver, it’s convenient, and, as the New Yorker put it, “Foursquare is essentially an urban network of hipsters, their favorite haunts, their favorite food and drinks—a marketer’s dream, in other words.”  Aside from letting your friends know where you are, you’re also giving marketers access to your social patterns, which is extremely useful information that can and likely will improve advertising strategies by providing agencies with easy and instant access to market research.