Alternative to class meeting

Transmedia Blog Assignment

Because of the flu outbreak I’ve decided to restructure the course this week. We were going to meet tomorrow and continue discussing TV and convergence. I was going to show you more examples of transmedia narratives and remediated television.

Instead of meeting and swapping germs, I want each of you to think of an example of transmedia narratives and covergence that you are directly involved with as either a consumer, a fan, or a producer. Sharing this example with the class will be the topic of you blog post for Friday.

Okay, some of you may be able to think of several examples that directly affect you right off the bat. Others may not be able to think of any at first. For inspiration and an example of just how broad and flexible these phenomena are take a look at this post on Henry Jenkin’s blog. Jenkins asked his students to do a similar assignment and he posted the paper that one of his students wrote about a transmedia taco truck in Los Angeles. !!

We are all directly affected by transmedia narratives and convergence in some intimate way.

Be sure to explain in detail why whatever you choose to share is an example of transmedia and convergence. Also be sure to explain your involvement with it.

If you are sick, please stay in touch with me and let me know what’s going on. I will give extensions on blog posts.

If you have already written and posted your second post for this week, then you do not need to follow this prompt.

Stay safe out there...

ProfessorA Cyberstar

On November 5th, Carl Rosenfield will be leading us through the steps of designing an avatar in Second Life.

To prepare for that, I had to get my own avatar started today.

Meet ProfessorA Cyberstar! Now, I did not dress her like that; that's how she came. Over the next couple of weeks, I will modify her to prepare her to interact with the avatars each of you design. Let the doll games begin...

Blog Awards

It's time to talk about the end of semester blog awards. Here are the basic categories that I came up with:

Best Use of Images

Best Use of Links

Most Amusing Blog

Most Informative Blog

I think voting should work as follows: a week before the end of the semester, I will nominate 3-4 people for each category and send those names to the whole class. You will carefully look at each nominated blog and send me, via email, your choices. I will annouce the winners and present super awesome (cheap) awards during the last class meeting.

In addition to whatever cheap plastic thing they get, the winners will also get to apply extra credit of 1/3 of a letter grade to the grading area of their choice (participation, reading presentation, midterm, final, blog).

Comment here, or send me an email, or talk to me in person to let me know what you think of this plan. Let me know if you think of other appropriate categories. Like a blog, this is a work in progress, but the victory will be sweet.

Shelley Jackson Reading


So, we will not meet formally on Thursday, but as the syllabus states we will read Shelley and Pamela Jackson's The Doll Games and Shelley Jackson's Skin. Both of these works can be classified as hypertext fiction, a form that combines the database with narrative. If you do not have experience with either postmodern fiction or the hypertext literary form, you will probably find these works perplexing. That's okay. Please spend some time with them. They might surprise you.

To pre-empt all the confused emails about SKIN that I'm expecting (without spoiling it): read what you can read--that is, indeed, the point.

 For your blog posting: Concentrate on one work or the other, or compare the two works.

Address the following questions:

1. What are The Doll Games and/or Skin about? What stories do they tell?

2. How does The Doll Games and/or Skin use the database form? Use Manovich for your analysis.

3. How does The Doll Games and/or Skin illustrate the tension between narrative and database as forms of cultural production? How does this tension contribute to your answer for the first question?

Image credit: Shelley and Pamela Jackson, from The Doll Games 

Blog assignment for week of 9/8-9/10

Directions for your 2nd posting this week (due before 11:59pm on Friday). You will have time to work on this during class on Thursday.

1) Go to the Computer History Museum website. Historiographically speaking, what kind of history (teleological, genealogical, modernist, etc.) is presented by the Computer History Museum and why?

2) Go to the brochure archive “Selling the computer revolution” and choose a brochure to analyze. Describe, interpret and evaluate the images and text of the brochure in relation to how it sells “newness.”


Doc Edgerton and the “Right Instruments”

Last week in class, I asked students to consider Janet Murray’s thoughts the relationship between technology and consciousness. In her introduction to The New Media Reader, Murray writes, "The right instruments organize not just the outer world, but consciousness itself, a phenomenon that is feared by the humanists and embraced by the engineers." I think Murray’s statement is a good starting place for discussing a humanities-based approach to new media studies, such as the one this course takes.

I used a photo by Harold Edgerton of a detonation of an atomic bomb to discuss why one, depending on his or her perspective, might either fear or embrace new technologies.













This is a photograph of a new technology (an atomic bomb) taken using a new technology (stroboscopic flash photography). For a minute disregard the new photographic technology; Let’s just consider how the development of the atomic bomb as a new technology organized consciousness itself. When the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, it is safe to say that the consciousness of the survivors in Japan was entirely reorganized. Their sense of themselves in relation to the world around them must have been radically affected. For the scientists and engineers who developed the bombs and the authorities who made the decision to use them, they were the “right instruments” to end the war (to organize the outer world in a way that they wanted), thus they were embraced. But these “right instruments” also organized the consciousness of the entire world. The Cold War centered on who had these instruments and who didn’t. School children in the 1950s knew where the closest fallout shelter was. These effects on consciousness are not generally the concern of the folks developing the technology, but they are very much the concern of the humanists studying the technology.

Now, let’s consider the new technology that Edgerton used to take the photograph of the atomic bomb detonation. The divide between the engineers and humanists seems overdetermined in the bomb example, but stroboscopic photography does not have the same dramatic moral dimension. Edgerton’s super quick flashing light attached to his camera allowed him to make a realistic image of something that the naked eye could not see. When our perception of the world around us changes, how does our consciousness change, as well? To ask this question does not mean taking a side in a moral dilemma; it is more important to look for an answer than to hastily assign a value judgment to it. In other words, the ability of technology to organize consciousness often takes on moral dimensions in intellectual debate (for example, is Facebook good or bad for social development?). The point of humanities-based new media studies, however, is to back up from these goodtech/badtech binaries and really analyze what, if any, changes new media bring to how we understand ourselves and the world around us.

For more about Edgerton, visit this page at MIT about his inventions.

Quicker’n a Wink is a short film from 1940 about Edgerton’s photography directed by George Sidney. Its goofy humor can be read as an attempt to make the science of Edgerton’s visually stunning work more accessible to a general audience.

Image Credit
Harold Edgerton, Atomic Bomb ca 1952 (Joshua Trees), 1952
gelatin silver print 11 x 14 in.
Courtesy of Palm Press, Inc.
© Harold & Esther Edgerton Foundation, 2009

Citing Sources

The United States Copyright Office makes a point of warning readers that “acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.“ A judge may not be impressed by good documentation, but your teachers will reward you and your readers will thank you for providing it.


Copyright - Fair Use

The rights of copyright holders are not without limits, which are enumerated in sections 107 through 118 of the copyright law. One of the most important of these is “fair use,” which allows for the reproduction of a copyrighted work without permission for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.


Copyright - What's Protected (and Isn't)

The United States Copyright Office describes copyright as a "form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression." The laws protect both published and unpublished works, and grant rights holders control over the reproduction, performance, distribution, translation, and display of their works.


Copyright - Some History

Greetings. My name is Reid Larson. I'm a reference librarian who will be making a brief appearance in your class on Thursday to talk about copyright and documenting sources. During the next two days, you may see a few blog entries from me related to documenting sources and copyright. Feel free to ignore them until after I meet with you. They're meant to serve as examples of how you might document sources in your own blog entries and to provide you some background on copyright.

It’s somehow fitting that one of the initial posts on your course blog is devoted to copyright, since the first laws granting a copyright privilege were drafted in response to the emergence of a new medium in the fifteenth century—the printed page.


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