Archive for February 14th, 2008

Joe’s Techno-biography

I graduated a Music Major with a Minor in Applied Mathematics, which translated means I switched majors and wanted two years of Electrical Engineering to count for something. In my final year of college I discovered IRC and Pine-mail, which allowed me to communicate with other students I had met on the road while traveling with my a cappella group without a ridiculous phone bill or stamps.

Before leaving college I bought my first computer, a Macintosh G3 tower with a 3GB hard drive, and started building a cappella websites. I would spend hours a day, browsing sites and communicating with people from around the world who shared my passion. Email and newsgroups were my primary forms of communication. I stated working with php and MySQL,, while venturing into digital video editing, translating what I could do with sound wave forms into manipulating frames.

Over the past year, I have taken a special interest in virtual worlds, and specifically SecondLife. It’s my intersection of video, audio, animation, im and voice chat. I’ve even started an a cappella group, made up of members from three continents.

Twelve years and 90+ technologies later, I get to teach other people how to use rich media applications and social software at a small liberal arts college in Vermont. This helps, as my wife’s family owns an apple orchard and farm market about one hour north of here. Quite literally, our roots are here.

Techno-Bios Joseph Antonioli 14 Feb 2008 No Comments

Change your environment

We mentioned that the blogging platform we are using is WordPress MU, the same application that runs It is a flexible system that seems to have a better learning curve than most blogging platforms.

One of the advantages is that we can change the look and feel of a blog in real time by applying a theme. The theme defines the layout of the page (2 or 3 columns, full or fixed width), font types and colors. Some even come with background images. Content, like text and embedded videos stay the same, what changes is how they are displayed.

The limited number of themes available in our version of WordPress were pulled from a list, where people have created thousands of custom themes. Here are two lists that I use:

Jason and I are not fond of the theme we are currently using and we want you to choose a new one. The only criteria is that it must be 2-column, widget ready, and display sub-pages. Check out these lists, or others, and let us know your favorites by commenting to this post. In fact, I’ll take the top 10 choices and make them available to everyone who makes a blog with our WordPress.

Class business Joseph Antonioli 14 Feb 2008 3 Comments

Slate Video – Hillary’s Inner Tracy Flick

Hi everyone,

Here’s a link to a video at that I think ties in pretty well with the course. It’s essentially a mashup of a speech by Senator Hillary Clinton and the film Election (starring Reese Witherspoon). I’m not sure if I can embed it directly, so just follow the link for now I guess. There’s a quick ad at the beginning, and the video starts directly after that.

Hillary’s Inner Tracy Flick

Videos Derek Long 14 Feb 2008 No Comments

Reading Response – Derek

It would seem that a real-life implementation of Jenkins’s comments on literacy depends on an interpretation of media that incorporates all three of Meyrowitz’s levels; examining any one of these levels in a vacuum opens up criticisms, some more valid than others, to media as a tool of social education and participation. For example, Jenkins’s media literacy “skill” of play, which he defines as “the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving (24),” necessitates a definition of media similar to Meyrowitz’s “Media as environment” level, since the context in which one plays is quite important if the goal is to encourage participation (as shown, a teenager might become engaged with ancient Rome much more readily through a computer game than through written text). However, the expression that comes with the experimenting of play requires some sort of coherent grammar that the “player” can understand. Without this grammar, there might simply be too much abstraction for the average person to be able to, again, enjoy participating in it. The grammar of a computer game like Civilization–the layout of a world map, the sounds and animations associated with in-game game units, and the expressive meaning of building a city–is infinitely more interesting and engaging than an abstract reading of the game’s source code. If we were simply to think of a computer game in the context of Meyrowitz’s level of the conduit–the level that most people see first and never see past–we would be severely restricted in terms of how we thought of the game and of “play” as a skill. Because the discourse of “education” does not operate in most computer games at the level of the conduit, they are often dismissed as mindless diversions. (When I was a child, my mother always made me play a “learning game” like Reader Rabbit or Outnumbered before I could play Monkey Island…yet the grammar, the particular form of Monkey Island was much more engaging (the player has to solve logic puzzles in a kind of narrative form) than simply solving math or vocabulary problems in a designated period, as most of the educational games of the early and mid-90s did. This is not to denigrate those games–I enjoyed playing them, if not as much as Monkey Island–but to speculate on how the levels of grammar and environment can drastically enhance their participatory power.

Reading Responses Derek Long 14 Feb 2008 No Comments

Presidential Platforms

This New York Times Article compares Obama to Hillary using a Mac vs. PC analogy. It also mentions Obama’ s use of blogs and social networking sites. Apparently Obama is also proposing to “make all public government data available to everybody to use as they wish.”

What do you guys think?

Politics Ernest Russell 14 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Reading response Brian

I enjoyed reading the section in Meyrowitz’s article about grammar (language) of media because it brought up some points about how the structure and syntax of the medium sometimes help our collective understanding of the medium. There are conventions that we as a society (or consumer) expect from those who create medium. For example, when watching a movie, we expect that if a character looks off to the side, the next shot should be what he is looking at so we the audience can see it too. These little “rules” have been established and reinforced over decades—we expect movie makers to follow them to avoid confusing us.
Jenkins writes about the way students learn, specifically talking about how they interact when playing certain types of games. Those who play games regularly will find loopholes that they can exploit, and once they become familiar with the structure of how the game is designed, they can take advantage of these rules. Sometimes this is called strategy, but if you are playing against the computer and you continually employ the same tricks because you know the game cannot stop you, I think you have broken the structure of the game—the programmer has followed a specific convention and you are going against it.
For example, I have been playing the football video game Madden for several years, across all types of systems, although I started on computer back in high school. I have learned that the best way to complete a pass is to put your best wide receiver in the third receiver’s spot and just wait for a linebacker to guard him. For those that are not as familiar with football, basically I am putting a fast player in position to exploit a slower defender. The game typically does not make the appropriate adjustments because it will put its best defenders where my best receiver should line up (the number one spot) but since I have my best guy in the third spot, I score lots of touchdowns. I feel like I have gone against the structure and “rules” of the game because this really would not happen in real life—and if it did, a human coach would make an adjustment.

Reading Responses Brian Sommers 14 Feb 2008 No Comments

Jackie’s Techno-biography

I must admit that I am not very technology savvy. I was three when we first got a computer at home. I was one of those children that always had to be doing something. So, in order to get me out of her hair, my mom sat me down in front of the computer and told me to figure out how to use PC paintbrush. I think my encounter with technology at a young age has almost made me take it for granted, not truly appreciating what exactly it can do. My computer use is very constricted, in the sense that until recently the only thing I really used it for was for homework and social networking. For me inventions such as AIM, Facebook, Cellphone texting, and Skype are one of the greatest inventions ever. As you will come to learn, I am not the most talkative person. But, with AIM and texting, it is a completely different story. I know that many people say that this form of communication is less personal, but I feel that texting and im-ing has enabled me to communicate better than I normally would.

Growing up, I always thought that I wanted to major in Chemistry. And up until about three years ago, I thought that was what I would do. But then, my senior year in high school, I decided to take a media literacy class for fun. I was told “Oh, all you do in that class is watch movies!” That sounded like a good idea to me, seeing as though the rest of my schedule was full with intensive science and math courses. But, what I did not know what that class would open up my eyes to and entire aspect of life that I normally disregarded – technology. I have become fascinated by the way technology is used to communicate.

Techno-Bios Jacqueline Faillace 14 Feb 2008 1 Comment

cellphone commercial

Hi all!
I find this commercial relevant to what we are studying

it is part form a campaign in Argentina called “cellphone conscience”. i think it is kind of funny that a cellphone company decided to start a campaign making people realize that maybe they are using their cellphones to much. i really don’t understand what they would gain by doing that. does anybody knows how this works?
what is written at the end means something like “Let’s not let communication isolate us”
and the cellphone is called “Personal, and it is slogan (“Primero estas vos”) means “you are first”.
let me know if you cannot watch it.

Videos Micaela 14 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Mica’s Technobiography

I don’t remember when I first used a computer, made a phone call or wrote an e-mail. And it is not because I’ve been doing all these forever, but mainly because I honestly don’t get excited about the technological changes in my life. I use my laptop only when it is strictly necessary, I reply to e-mails only if there is a question I need to answer, I call people when I need to tell them something specific, I don’t have facebook, I don’t read blogs. don’t get me wrong: i am not “against” technology or would like it to disappear. i just don’t find it as entertaining as other people do.
my technobiography would have been an extremely boring one if there wasn’t an exception in my relationship to technology. I remember very well the first time I watched a movie on our brand new VCR, I remember when i first held a camera, when i first used Final Cut Pro. I remember how amazed I was by all these technologies. Through film I found a way of becoming friends with something i had never cared much about. I can spend hours trying to figure out different ways of editing a short video, but i usually get bored when my brothers ask me to play videogames with them.
I am extremely interested in studying how media affects the way in which we communicate ideas and values. Changes in media technology have made communication more immediate, powerful, and at times scary. I want to use technology to express my own ideas, to create. that’s it. mica

Techno-Bios Micaela 14 Feb 2008 No Comments

Derek’s Techno-Bio

I suppose my techno-biography until I was about 19 was fairly typical. I remember playing the LucasArts computer game “Monkey Island” (the game Jessie mentioned below) on my dad’s PC circa 1991, and that it was a big deal that the game came on a…(gasp)…CD. It had a full MIDI score and everything. Playing that game was one of my earliest technological memories, and when I got my own computer at 8, I used it primarily for gaming, although I felt pretty snazzy using it to write middle school reports on topics like Greece and Mountain Gorillas.

My first real exposure to Web 1.0 was actually eBay…I used it mostly to buy and sell Magic and Pokemon cards, but I think I also got a Homer Simpson poster that still hangs in my room to this day. That was also about the same time I started to get into film, making relatively silly videos with my friends. I actually had to use an analog video editor-one with sliders that you plugged into your VCR. My extremely amateurish skills with the technology as a 13-year-old resulted in awkward, seconds-long frames of blue VCR image between cuts, but I thought I was pretty cool. Eventually I learned Final Cut Pro, as well as such sophisticated cinematic techniques as framing, multiple takes, and placing the camera on a tripod.

When I was in high school, I used the web the same way most everyone else did: purely as a consumer (apart from my production of email, the occasional blog comment, and other ephemera). At college, however, I had my first real experience as a producer of web content, when I became involved with the radio drama group here on campus. I learned how to upload, edit, and podcast recordings of the group’s live performance. The first time I actually podcasted a show, I remember feeling like I was giving a magical permanence to that performance – odd, since the vast majority of the classic radio dramas of the 1930s and 1940s have been lost simply because of their ephemerality. I think that odd transformation of media that has occurred in the past few years due to the influence of the web was one of the things that attracted me to this course…”radio drama” is so often associated with a kind of golden “lost age,” but the advent of digital technology means that no one has to “be there” at the right moment to capture an otherwise ephemeral broadcast. Everyone becomes a possessor and owner of a copy of some “moment” – whether “moments” become somehow cheaper as a result of that sheer ease of capture remains to be seen.

Techno-Bios Derek Long 14 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Affinity Spaces: a growing list

We should create a list of the “Affinity Spaces” that we utilize.

I use DIGG, as well as The Hype Machine .

Digg is a fully democratized news site. Anyone can submit an article, picture, video or mp3. People browsing the site can “digg” a specific page and increase its popularity rating. Each page functions as a message board for a particular submission. Comments on each message board can also be dugg.

The hype-machine utilizes a web-crawling robot that trawls the Internet for the most popular music blogs. Every few hours, hypem adds music to its homepage based on these blogs’ most downloaded mp3s. All the music is streamed from hypem but the site provides links to all the blogs hosting the mp3 files. A huge amount of music on hypem is remixed by independent artists.


Reading Responses &Uncategorized Ernest Russell 14 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Sites DOT MiddleburyThe Middlebury site network.