Friday, October 14, 2011

Inanimate Alice and the Future of Storytelling

One of my favorite sites for new media writing and storytelling, especially the creepy fiction variety, is Dreaming Methods, which hosts a wide variety of stories that use new media tools for building interactive fiction pieces.  Today's look at the site took me to a big project, a digital novel called Inanimate Alice, which appears to be even more interactive and ambitious than previous projects on the DM site.  The story is episodic, apparently, developing over time as young Alice develops into a game designer and animator.  It's supposed to run over various platforms, smart phones and the like, as well as the computer, using Flash animation.  I checked out the first episode, set in China, and it's got some promising interactive opportunities.  I've ordered an education pack to see how it turns out and what they are recommending for its use in the classroom.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Tricks Online--Scribd and Issuu

We tried last year to present the DSU magazine, New Tricks, in an online, smart-phone friendly format.  Here's the result on Scribd, which works okay . . .
New Tricks 2010
and Issuu, which leaves something to be desired. I think, with a little reworking the original, that it will be okay.

We're Midwesterners. No Tweeting!

A report from 9 Clouds indicates that not many of us are Tweeting.  To be exact, about .35%.  That's POINT 35 percent.  Not 35.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Social Media and Authors

From the article Social Media for Authors, in the latest issue of Poets and Writers:
When I work on a publicity campaign, I view my objective as twofold: to persuade someone to buy the author’s book—as opposed to all the other books competing for attention—and, more essentially, to speed up that sale and persuade her to do it now. In order to achieve this, an author needs that ever-elusive buzz. But what exactly is buzz, where does it come from, and how do you get it?
The article, by Lauren Cerand, describes her gradual move to using social media to promote literary work.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cell Phones and Researchers

This video, from the Wall Street Journal, suggests how the data from smart and cell phone usage is being used by researchers to explore human behavior.  Not just for commercial interests, the research explores new ways of examining how human beings interact and move.  The illustrations from various sources visually demonstrate how the collected data tells us something about our moods, movements, and interaction.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marshal McLuhan and the Internet

I've been reading some about the great media critic, Marshall McLuhan, considering the centrality of his four questions as a way of thinking about technology as a way to extend the reach of human beings.  There is always something lost when something's gained, he says, as we add tools (in this case, media) to reach out further. 

Key here is that McLuhan doesn't key on content, but rather on the medium itself.  Not the medium.  The message.   In Understanding Media, with its subtitle "Extensions of Man," he offers up some of the key questions that continue to provide a key for understanding media.  

Question 1:   "What does it (the medium or technology) extend?"  What in the human being is enhanced by the medium?  

Question 2:   "What does it make obsolete?" With this medium introduced, what does it "crowd out" or render unnecessary?

Question 3: "What is retrieved?" What element of humans is brought back to life as a result of the medium?

Question 4: "What does the technology reverse into if it is over-extended?"   If the medium reaches too far, becomes too important, makes too big a footprint, then what do people do to retrieve what they lost

Making Data Palatable

I'm intrigued by the NY Times story about the ways in which companies and individuals are making raw data into new and different things, making the numbers into something visual and compelling.  My favorite quote in the story:
“Statistics,” says Dr. Hans Rosling, a professor of international health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, “is now the sexiest subject around.”
Dr. Hans Rosling
Now that's worth paying attention to.

Rosling's attention to data has been a part of Gapminder, a group dedicated to illustrating the gaps between the haves and the have-nots.

The Hive Group has a data-driven visualization of the top 100 iTunes songs, among other things.

The most impressive of these is the Youtube video in which Rosling discusses his method and gives a demonstration on the connection between wealth and health.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Internet, and Web 2.0

Today we're taking the first of a couple of days to discuss the role of the internet in new media.  Whew!  Pretty daunting, right?  Well, we'll cover the chapter in the text and discuss . . .

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor--A Star from the Old Days

In my English for New Media class, we had been talking about the role of the stars in the old studio system, few of them around any more.  The reports about Elizabeth Taylor and the retrospectives on her life are reminders that the old star power still has legs.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Viral Video Contest

Viral Video Film Contest Scholarship - $1,500 Application Deadline- March 31, 2011 - To apply, applicant must create and submit a 90-120 second video based on the theme “Don’t Drive While Distracted” that helps create a positive safe driving message to viewers.  First place regional prize is a $1,500 scholarship, with scholarships also awarded to second and third places. For more information and to submit video visit:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Video Poem Contest at

Videopoem contest from MovingPoems. com

http://discussion. movingpoems. com/321/announci ng-moving- poems-first- videopoem- contest/

In order to showcase and celebrate diverse approaches to making
videopoems and poetry-films, Moving Poems is sponsoring a contest where
everyone will use the same poem in its entirety, either in the
soundtrack or as text (or both). Please join us! Post the results to
YouTube or Vimeo send us the link no later than April 15. Winners will
be published on the main site. Here's the poem, used by permission of
the author:

by Howie Good

A messenger arrived
from a country

colonized by magpies.
I have two sons, he said,

one whose name
means wolf

and one whose name
means laughter.

It felt like rain,
what’s called

a baby’s ear moon,
false angel wing.

They hanged him
in a cornfield.

The world is made
of tiny struggling things.


Howie Good is the author of 27 print and digital chapbooks and three
full-length collections of poetry, not to mention the 12 scholarly
books he’s written in his other career as a journalism professor, which
include several studies of film and culture. For a fuller bio and links
to some of his online work, see his blog, Apoclypse Mambo.

As stipulated above, all videos should include the complete poem. They
should be true videos or films — no slideshows, please. You should also
have permission for any images, footage, and sounds you might use, or
be able to make a strong case that (for U.S. material) your use of
copyrighted material is sufficiently transformative as to fall under
generally accepted definitions of fair use. Please include Howie Good’s
name and a link to his blog in the video description at YouTube or

For details about fair use and loads of links to free-to-use video and
audio, please refer to our new page of web resources for videopoem
makers. Of course, those with the means to do so should shoot fresh
footage, compose or mix your own music, etc. But if all you have access
to is some free video- and audio-editing software and lots of time and
imagination, you can still contribute.

You can enter as many times as you like. From all the entries, we’ll
select an indeterminate number of finalists to feature on the main
site. Howie has offered to give copies of his books Rumble Strip,
Anomalies, and Disaster Mode to his top three favorites, with the first
place winner getting all three, second place the first two, and third
place getting the last.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Smothers Brothers on Craig Ferguson

I'm an old enough codger to remember the Smothers Brothers when they used to appear on TV shows and then when they had their own.  Here's a little reminder of who they are, some classic Smothers as they are today on Craig Ferguson.

Newton Minow and "The Vast Wasteland"

Friday, March 18, 2011

Calling Mr. Bell!

The New York Times is reporting that the trend of telephone calling--actually speaking to another person on the phone, listening to their voice, and responding to them, is falling off.  Once a key connection between teen lovers, among others, the telephone is getting a more text-based workout these days, they report, in an article titled "Don't Call Me; I Won't Call You."  Of course, there are lots of other things that people can do with their phones these days, so why call someone and listen to the random things they might say.  Or not.  Maybe they don't want to hear YOUR rambling, either.

Robot Elephant Stop-Motion

Dr. Blessinger spotted this video, which takes its cue from a student taking biology notes.  Awesome.  Thanks, Dr. B!  From a site called Curiosity Counts, which specializes in finding off-beat media razamataz.

(notes on) biology from ornana films on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NY Times Makes a Move for Subscribers

My faithful news site, The New York Times online, is making its move once again to charge for its content.  It looks like it might cost about $4 per week, which will cause me a little worry.  They're trying out a model in Canada first, then moving to require subscriptions for people who want full access to their online stories.

Here's the deal--you'll be able to read 20 articles (or slide shows, videos, etc.) per month.  Beyond that, and they'll ask you to pay up.

It's a risky move, but they're the champs at offering good content, and there's a desire for that content these days, with the situations in Japan, Africa, the Middle East, and the US.  That demand might be able to drive up their subscriber numbers.  I hope so.  More subscribers means lower fees, right?  Especially for digital content, the cost of offering it to 1000 readers is virtually the same as offering it to 1,000,000.

It's a move they need to make to survive.  And they need to survive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ballistic Boatin' Beavers

I was impressed with the little game presented by one of the DSU teams for the Global Game Jam back in February.  It's a little rough, and the controls are a little funky, but the little beaver canoe works well, the crossbow shoots, and that down-home bluegrass music is worth paddling for.

Check it out here:

It's a Shoot-'em-up Beaver!  

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Media, Japan, and the Middle East

It's remarkable how much the world has been able to stay abreast of the events in the Middle East and Japan, with new media tools keeping people front row center on all the things unfolding there.  The videos, photos, and written and spoken reports continue to flood in, putting even us midwesterners in the flow of actions.  It's a changed world, dramatically different from the printed newspaper that brings the news of the day before, when the television or other media can show us events unfolding as they happen.

Watch, participate, and consider your own role in the media.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Poetry, Dance, Music, and Technology

Disappear - from the CD To Call Out in the Night by Pharmakon MTL from Ian Ferrier on Vimeo.

I'm intrigued with this video, the combination of poetry, dance, music, and technical innovation.  There are sensors on the dancers to initiate the movement of some of the text displayed.  Very cool, innovative.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Words from the Oscars

I like this simple little thing that Good Morning America does where they ask people to send in videos from themselves displaying three words that capture their sense of their situation.  Today's was a special edition from the folks who have been nominated for Oscars.  Here it is:

Monday, February 21, 2011

TV Joining Hands with Social Media

The NY Times is commenting on the use of social media sites to support the offerings by the television industry.  TV folks are talking about people watching their programs with friends whose TVs and living rooms and laptops are in different states.  The execs are seeking to make the experience of watching the shows deeper by offering more content on line and opening channels to allow people to chat and twitter and socialize as they watch the programming.  Oscars night will reflect a big push in that direction.  Read more here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Simple (Barely) Multimedia Site that Murmurs Its Cool

Check out the Toronto-based website Murmur that offers a collection of audio stories and ramblings with the barest of multi in its multimedia.  It's got some still graphics, but the centerpiece and focus is the audio recordings they offer.  Check it out.

Newspapers Online

I became interested in the news when I was in a World Politics class back at Black Hills State University.  We had to read Newsweek every week, cover to cover.  I had been a laggard and ignorant about much of the events in the world until then, even as race riots, Vietnam, Kent State, Watergate, and many other major events unfolded.  I was largely in the dark.  Nobody in my family much paid attention.  I did, however, take a lot of interest in the space program, especially the moon walk in 1969.  However, in about 1979, I got on board.  The semester of reading Newsweek got me in the flow, and I subscribed to the magazine for years.

That all changed again when The New York Times began offering its news for free in the 90's.  When I was at work, I could read that magnificent paper, but at home I couldn't--the slow, dial-up connection would take forever to load the pages.  Now many papers offer content for free, although this is bound to change.  Our own Trojan Times ceased its paper publication last semester and went totally online.  It had had an online edition previously, but it was rarely updated and hadn't been changed for years.  Some other papers worth checking out are here:
My old paper, The Sisseton Courier, has an online site.  Does your home town?  

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Newspaper Experience

My longest tie with newspapers was with the Huron Daily Plainsman, which I delivered starting at 8 years old in Ft. Pierre.  There was a local paper, the Ft. Pierre Times, and the Capitol Journal, and there were others that people could get, including the Argus Leader and Grit.  Some delivered the Reminder, a free publication that came out on Wednesdays.  I delivered the "Huronite" for about four or five years, every day after school and on Sunday mornings.  No Saturday edition, I think.  I collected on every other Saturday.  It was 90 cents for each week, I think.  Sometimes I had trouble collecting.

I used to write book reviews for the Wichita Eagle-Beacon (later the Eagle).  I wrote about one a month.  No pay, but free books.  That was a little nerve-wracking, as my reviews appeared in the paper with the largest circulation in Kansas.

I wrote feature articles for the Sisseton Courier in the summers when I lived there.  I loved doing that. I still write an occasional article for the Madison paper.

I edit and lay out a newsletter for the Lake County Historical Society and sometimes write articles.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Some Questions to Consider About Newspapers

As you're reading and considering the material in chapter 4 of the Media Now textbook, you might consider these questions:

  1. What, if anything, can newspapers do to recapture young readers?  Many papers have gone to free distribution and have provided other incentives to gain new readers.  Will these incentives work?  Keep in mind that some research indicates that many young Americans won't read a newspaper even if it's free.
  2. Newspapers are adopting a strategy of convergence--disseminating news over the Internet, television, cell phones, and other media--at the same time that many newspapers are reducing their distribution to just a few days a week.  Will readers pay for it?  Will convergence help?  Is the problem with newspapers the medium (paper vs. online) or the content (how they define and report news)--or a little of both.  
  3. What are the environmental implications of newspapers vs. online media?  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Young Hae-Chang Heavy Industries Does Text

You'll have to go there to check out these very cool text-based literary works turned into dynamic web readings.  Heavy Industries?  Sounds like trouble, but their many projects indicate they've got a cool vibe, dramatic representation of texts, and wild stories.  Check them out at  I watched Dakota, which mentions the Badlands and Sioux Falls.  It's a wild ride.

Publisher News

It's not a site, as an English teacher, that I often look at, but as a New Media professional, a person should look to Publishers Weekly as a place to get news about publishing and the industry.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Last Year's New Tricks

We've been publishing a literary magazine at DSU for a number of years, and last year we began experimenting with some options for putting the magazine online.  We've tried the web page approach, and now we're aiming for a more mobile, more friendly document.  We're not there yet, but we're making progress, as is shown in the document we've worked up and are testing on Scribd and Issuu.
Or embedding, as here:
New Tricks 2010
I like the way it looks here, but you'll note that the page numbers aren't right.

Open publication - Free publishing - More poetry
Want to help us build the new New Tricks?  Let us know.  We'd love the contributions of works and help!  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

English for New Media in Flowers

A Couple of Trials from ChromeExperiments

I tried a couple of the Chrome Experiments and thought these looked cool. Here's a super cool one.    Here's another one.  

The Unholy Spawn of English and New Media

I've been trolling for some good examples of what's happening to books and stories in the digital world.  The following are some of the places that creative writers with a visual/high-tech interest have been migrating to.  You think English, they think New Media.  Check them out!

Digital Storytelling (Non-fiction)

ENM at the Movies

My poll from yesterday shows that only one of us has seen two of the Oscar-nominated movies in the best film category.  "Winter's Bone" and "The Kids are All Right" got only one viewer in the class, and "The King's Speech" and "127 Hours" got none.  Of course, the latter film has only just opened, so most of us haven't had a chance to see it.  But "The King's Speech" opened on December 10, 2010, almost two months ago.  The most watched film is probably also the most hyped (and with the most special-effects)--"Inception," with 6 of 9 voters having seen it.  Other popular films include "Toy Story 3," which is not just for the kids, and "True Grit," which is a truly adult offering, with each getting five votes.

As consumers of media in all forms, and as media analysts and producers, it's worthwhile to consider why "The Social Network" hasn't had more viewers in the class.  What might explain the lack of enthusiasm for seeing the movie about the creation of a phenomenon that has changed the way people interact?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Trying out the "Poll" Gadget

You can see in the upper right today my first attempt at a poll on a blog.  We'll see what happens.  Please choose from the selected movies and let us know what you've seen!

I've also changed the background from a flowery fluff to some high-tech looking ones and zeros.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blogging Tool Testing

We're working with blogging options on the student blogs.  The course text is Media Now, 7th Edition.  It's got some online materials, but we're making some of our own, including some upcoming work on a wiki, and plenty of trying out of blogging tools.  Some things to try:

  • Commentary.  Text is the key to blogging, and it's no mistake to say that good commentary makes good text.  Adding to the accumulating knowledge of the world, especially as it relates to English and New Media, and we're good.
  • Photographs.  It's easy to snap some shots and upload them.  Again, you're helping make the world become better informed.  With the blog, you can link to photos not your own, but better yet, you can upload the great photos that you've got.  
  • Video.  It's like the photos above.  Upload your own or add links, embed ones worth commenting on from Youtube, Vimeo, or the many other sites where others upload the millions of hours of video being constantly uploaded.
  • Comments.  Write on blogs not your own, and promote some of your own posts on other sites.  
  • Links. Show what sites you're watching and reading (including, yes, Facebook, if you're a fan).  
  • RSS.  Build some blog feeds into your site.  Make your site a place where your followers get news from the sources you decide.
  • Surveys.  Add a survey widget and see what your readers think about some issue.  
  • Other Gadgets:  Try some of the many gadgets that are offered up by Google and their blogging team. 
Then, tell us about your efforts at building a strong presence.  

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    My Electronic Media Gizmos

    Okay, I have to confess.  I have some old crap.  I have the following from my days in the service, circa 1975:  

    ·         A Kenwood stereo amplifier, 83 watts (which was big in those days)
    ·         A matching Kenwood tuner (which hasn’t been plugged in for some time)
    ·         A Teac reel-to-reel SX-4300.  A sweet machine, still works great.
    ·         A Marantz direct-drive turntable
    ·         A Pioneer cassette tape deck
    ·         A Teac cd player hooked up to the stereo parts above (about 15 years old, probably)
    ·         A pair of Pinnacle speakers, kick-ass (but small, compared to the Pioneer HPM-100 speakers that I blew up.
    ·         About 1000 stereo record albums, all still good, well kept, with everything from Merle Haggard to Elton John to AC\DC.
    ·         A lot of cassettes, a few 45’s,  several dozen reel-to-reel tapes
    Midway between the old and new:
    ·         A portable boom-box, with a cd player, cassette, and radio
    ·         A hand-me-down component stereo in the garage, with radio, cassette player
    ·         A cell phone with one song on it: “Big Black Horse and a Cherry Tree”
    ·         A Sony PS-2 game console with several games, a guitar, and several Guitar Hero games, some driving games, and some 007 games (which sits in the basement and is almost never played)
    ·         A conventional TV, connected to an antenna (getting us about a dozen channels for free).  It’s on much of the time when we’re home.  We watch sitcoms, movies, dramas, the network news, and public television, including documentaries
    ·         A VHS/DVD player (one unit), plus another VHS and another DVD player in the basement
    ·         Two more TV’s never used.
    ·         A Kodak digital camera, now retired
    ·         A Nikon digital camera, now out of service.  I was using this a lot until it fell out of my bag and refused to wake up. 
    ·         A Sony digital camera, rarely used
    ·         A cheapo digital camera that will hold about 16 pictures, very cruddy pics, but very small
    ·         A radio alarm clock next to our bed and in the guest bedroom.
    ·         Our tablet computers, which we use for work, shopping, and communication
    ·         A desktop computer, used mostly for photos and a newsletter
    ·         An older Macintosh, rarely used
    ·         An old Dell laptop maybe 8 years old, not used
    ·         A Lexmark all-in-one printer, with a scanner and copier
    ·         A second-generation iPod with many songs
    ·         A Panasonic Lumix camera
    ·         A cell-phone with no music on it
    Relatively new stuff:
    ·         An iRiver music player with a 10g hard drive (maybe 5 or 6 years old, almost retired)
    ·         A small Creative Zen music player (with a radio and voice recorder).  I use this when I’m working out or riding my bike.  It’s got about 15 albums on it.  Sometimes, I play albums, sometimes random.  No playlists
    ·         A Roku unit for streaming Netflix to our TV. 
    My car has a radio, CD, and cassette player.  We mostly listen to the radio, but we keep CD’s in the car and play them when we’re on the road.
    My pickup has a radio and cassette player

    I do lots of stuff with my computer, everything from recording music to making videos to writing poems and stories.  Lots of stuff online.  

    A Qwiki on New Media

    I'm intrigued by the ambitious project that is Qwiki, a project provide automated multimedia presentations on a broad range of subjects, including New Media, as the video here displays.

    Media Inventory

    I'd like students to take a media/technology inventory.  Assess the ownership and use of communications devices.  How does your experience compare to that of your parents and grandparents?  How does it compare to that of students in other countries?

    Post on your blog.  You can take photos to accompany the inventory.

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    Obama and the Use of New Media

    Barack Obama was noted during the campaign for his adept use of social media and the internet in general as contributing factors in his successful run.  The activities of this President, more than any other, are being mined as material for new media activities.  It will be interesting to watch how the media, especially the online sites, will engage with the State of the Union address on Tuesday night.  Some sites to watch:
    • Federal Computer Week notes that will be providing online resources live as the President speaks. The article notes,  "President Barack Obama’s speech to Congress on Jan. 25 will be presented in a live video feed along with new features that include visual aids, charts, statistics and other enhancements at the website."  More here:  
    • The American Presidency Project has a site devoted to the State of the Union address and related information regarding it (press releases, what guests were there, what Congressional members were missing, etc.).  It's here:  An image  from their site showing the language used in the addresses is below:  

    Plenty of material to engage with the President's address.  

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    Plain English Explanations of New Media

    Here is the first of several videos explaining (in Plain English) some of the new media advantages.  By Lee LeFever.  They include topics such as social networking sites, wikis, twitter, and other media.

    New Media Literacies

    Some folks talk about the merging of new and old media forms and how the consumer is becoming the producer.

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Book Trailers

    Video is being used more frequently on sites like YouTube to promote reading and books. These products are called book trailers, and they seek to generate interest in the books in order to promote sales. Here's a great example, for the book, Going West.