Monday, June 21, 2010

Blog Post 10: Presentations

Now that I have presented my Prezi I feel comfortable with my subject and storyline. I still need to write my script and clarify what I want to say about Fairfax and the influence of movies on me growing up. Hopefully, I will have structured story with photographs that move the story along.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Digital Story

After much consideration I've decided to change my digital story. Reading Professor Fornes's post about keeping the story simple, and watching the digital stories on the new link, I think it will be best to stick to something simpler, especially since this is my first stab at doing this (digital stories). I have chosen to make a digital story about growing up in a small town and how I escaped this limited environment through movies, mainly older ones.

I want to use narration (I cringe at this) and old photos as well as old movie clips from movies that have inspired me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Digital Stories: Insightful and Thought Provoking

"Blacks on Youtube"

I found this digital story shocking and insightful. The story is an analysis of how blacks are represented on YouTube. Using only text and clips from YouTube videos, the filmmaker shows how when certain words are typed in the search bar automatically videos of black people turn up. Some of these words are: "big booty", "violence", "baby mommas", "pimps and hos", among many others with negative connotations.

I think this video is significant because it shows how blacks are stereotyped in the media. Alas, while users upload vids to put on YouTube, who is making the choice to show only blacks when you type in certain words? Is it due to the number of viewers? The author notes how any video with a positive black was viewed less than the negatives. How is this impacting our society when we are constanly viewing negative stereotypes of one group? Why are blacks only associated with violence and pimps and hos on YouTube?

"Peru's Coca Cultivation"

This digital story is a news wideo from the New York Times about the emerging coca cultivation in Peru and the ripple effects on society and politics. It basically pits the peasant farmer's against the Peruvian security forces trying to tackle this problem. Most of this cultivation is used in making cocaine. Peru is fast becoming the largest producers of cocain worldwide the video states.

This coca plant is harvested 4 to 8 times a year leading one development economist to state, "it is like an ATM for the farmers." The problem is not only is cocaine illegal, but the farmer's are supported by drug traffikers. Additionally, the cultivation has created environmental concerns as well as violence.

I found this interesting because of the intersection between the farmers who use the coca plants to support themselves with the government, backed by the US, trying to destroy the drug traffiking. It's sort of like the story of David and Goliath in a twisted way.

In determining which story is better I had to look at the provenance of the videos. "Blacks on Youtube" was created by a university student so the production quality isn't the same as "Peru's Coca Cultivation." However, the video's message still hits home without voice over narration and first hand film footage. It's sort of like David and Goliath again with a student and world renown New York Times. Ultimately, while both stories are important I am going to side with the "Blacks on Youtube" because it's shock factor and sadness, and that while we've come far, maybe we are still in infancy in terms of getting rid of white supremacy. Also, one always sides with David in "David and Goliath" that is why the story has lasted for centuries.

South Carolina's Waste Land

For my digital story I want to create a movie (slideshow) about South Carolina's political scandals so far this year, just in time for election season. I find this subject funny and relevant since we are about to elect the next governor during a time when our state is facing historic budget shortfalls. Also, to show how crazy South Carolinians are. Is it this heat or what? I mean really. Here are some story points courtesy of Michael Roston via Newsbroke:

1. Governor Mark Sanford disappears, and tells people he’s hiking the Appalachian Trail when he’s really down in Argentina seeing his mistress. I initiate the ‘Jenny Sanford 2012‘ campaign.

2. Senator Jim DeMint, now effectively the leader of Senate Republicans, promises to make health care reform Obama’s ‘Waterloo‘, forever branding the GOP in minority as an obstructionist party.

3. My friend Mike Rogers alleges that Bauer, the Republican gubernatorial hopeful, is a closeted gay man. Mike is often right about these sorts of things.

4. One name: Joe Wilson. Two words: ‘You lie’. ‘Nuff said.

5. DeMint gets praised by two Palmetto Republicans for being like a Jew with the nation’s money.

6. Senator Lindsey Graham gets censured by a county party in South Carolina for engaging in acts of bipartisanship in the US Senate, with Democrats. A couple months later, another county censures Graham for the same reason!

And all this happened within one year just about! 2009-10 will definitely go down in the history books!

Monday, June 7, 2010

News gatherer

Currently, I get news, nationally and locally, from the internet. Nationally, I like to go to the Daily Beast everyday and look at their "cheat sheet", which are "must reads from all over." Also, I look at Huffington Post and receive news stories from Common Dreams, a progressive organization. For local events I go to the webpages of The State and The Augusta Chronicle.

Very rarely do I watch television news. It mostly focuses on crime and weather. Around here, in the CSRA, the quality of television news is, sadly, pedestrian.

As for as how I perceive the world I suppose through a liberal, progressive lens by looking at Huffington Post and Common Dreams. However, their headlines are from major news organizations like AP and The New York Times, so I'm not sure if they're biased or not. I guess the reporter or editor does get to choose what's reported on, but sometimes issues scream for ink like the Gulf disaster, though what you choose to focus on in the situation may show your biases. On the otherhand, for the most part I can see the reporter showing two sides to every story in the majority of articles I read, sometimes to the detriment of the situations and people involved. Like currently, most new stories covering the oil spill have set up the us vs. them scenario: BP vs. gulf coast residents. Often there are three or four or even more sides to a story!

We defintely gather information differently then we used to 25 years ago, especially my generation, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean just because someone bought a paper didn't mean they read the whole thing. They could have just browsed the sports section. Like the internet we choose what we look at.

I pay a great deal of attention to the news, especially national, but also internationally, because I like to know what is going on and I feel I am in control when I learn all the facts about a story. I'm also interested in possibly becoming a journalist so that is another factor.

I recently chatted with Lesley Jane Seymour the editor of More(the lifestyle magazine for women over 40) on Facebook and here is what she had to share with me about journalism:

Look into digital. Print is going to dry up. Learn how to code and become a great journalist. Then you'll have it all. Columbia is offering interesting degrees in digital journalism or maybe it's a course you can take. That's the wave of the future. But it's a great profession if you love to write.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Information Overload

Wow! After reading the two articles by Baron and Carr I feel like I have information overload!!!

In Carr's piece I was struck by his discussion of the clock and how it made people manage to eat, sleep, work, etc. etc. around time. As he states, "...we stopped listening to our senses and started obeying the clock." Our brains became like clocks he alleges. Furthermore, in the digital age our brains are becoming like computers. I'm not sure if this is entirely true but Carr says, "... the result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration." Couldn't he just have ADD or something? The whole piece is a metaphor of how we are losing our ability to think in a way he finds satisfying. He thinks the world is going to end.

Anyways, while there may be criticism of computers, like the printing press - whose inception was criticized - computers have had a far reaching effect on our society for better and worse, and its easier just to change with times and go with the flow instead of being whiny about it.

I suppose in Baron's article the scroll and codexes are supposed to be text on the computer and ipad. But I don't understand the differences between the texts; isn't reading reading no matter what the format?? For me the internet is like a big dictionary and you choose what to find in it. Reading is reading is reading is reading. Some of the same problems can pop up with reading codexes and the ipad such as font size. The way we read can be due to individual differences. These people think too much!!!

Trip to Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Before reading the three articles I had never heard any bashing against Powerpoint presentations. I think Powerpoint can be a useful tool to inform your audience of the main points you will be talking about. However, I think one has to be careful not to let the Powerpoint become the focus. Instead, one should always make sure their topic is the focus.

The last article, for me, was the most informative. Especially, on the points of animation and photographs and too much text. I was in a class this past spring where we were required to give a presentation on a topic assigned by our professor. Several students, sadly, had too much text on their slides and read straight from them. Most of the information didn't mesh with the students vernacular. It was encyclopedia writing and they had a hard time pronouncing some of the words. While speaking they would stand still and silent when they came to a word they couldn't pronounce. Very awkward indeed.

The first article, written by Edward Tufte, sounded reactionary in my opinion. Comparing Powerpoint presentations to a prescription pill with horrendous side-effects was an extreme metaphor. If used correctly, as the last article details, Powerpoint presentations will not "....elevate(s) form over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch."

Clay tablet writing

Transciption: The unplugged assignment for Dr. Fornes was alot easier than I expected. Since I don't like to talk on the phone or text many people that was the simple part. Much harder was abstaining from the computer. I use the internet for so many things: checking email, facebook, news and entertainment.

However, I succeeded; one day was not hard for me at all. I found other things to do such as work , reading a new book, and eating.