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Digital Storytelling Blog

This portion of the touristbytrade.com website was done for my ED677 Digital Storytelling class through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Enjoy!

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Remixes and Mashups

At the end of the semester I still have to ask myself, what is digital storytelling. The example above proves that humans aren’t the only animals sometimes unsure of where the line is drawn between what is a story and what is real… or are they the same?

ED 677 Digital Storytelling has proved to be a much different class than I thought it would be when I registered at the beginning of the year. This isn’t a good or a bad thing, it just is. I originally had envisioned a class where we were going to be making our own stories (maybe every week or so) using video, audio or any other digital means. I think I’m glad that it didn’t turn out that way. Instead we covered the theories and technical aspects of digital storytelling. “What does that even mean?”, you might ask… Well, that’s hard to say.

I originally wanted to use this final assignment and take pieces of work from my other colleagues to mix and mash into something else, but I’m not sure I have that in me at the moment. This assignment asked us to be introverted, in this digital age we’re becoming extroverted introverts.

Introverts Unite - http://www.mooneytheology.com/2013/04/things-i-wish-others-understood-about.html

Introverts Unite – http://www.mooneytheology.com/2013/04/things-i-wish-others-understood-about.html


Digital storytelling continues to expand as traditional storytelling seems to be blending in or fading away. I say that because I don’t see that many examples of purely traditional storytelling anymore. The vision in my head of traditional storytelling is one person, surrounded by a group of others, telling a tale. That tale could be about a hunt, or a political event, a religious sermon, etc. Most of the stories I tend to hear, these days, is over the internet. They come to me in a Facebook feed, a YouTube video, or a Hangouts session. Are they still stories? Definitely. Do they have to be long and follow the traditional forms of storytelling? No, digital stories can come in many forms as we, as a class, have identified in previous assignments.

As the divide between digital and non becomes more blurred and hard to define, there will be new stories told, stories that were not tell-able until the technology evolved. Starting in the 1990’s with Jurassic Park (and probably even before, but not quite as mainstream), people have begun to expect computer graphics to fill in for what cannot be created in reality. There is at least one generation now grown up (18+) who have only lived knowing about the ability for humans to create worlds (as real as second life) digitally. The potential creativity of a person who knows no physical bounds must be amazing. I think we will see more evidence of this in the near future.

Strangely (or not) our lives, in many ways, have become digital stories… Status updates.

Untitled-2

This post was from someone I have known for years, but don’t really know well. I have many friends like this. I am a part of their lives in a way I would never have been without modern technologies. I am part of their story as much as they are of mine.

When I think of technology in our lives, I’m often reminded of these words from a Sage Francis song:

“Conveniently religious on Easter Sunday and on Christmas.
The television went from being a babysitter to a mistress.
Technology made it easy for us to stay in touch while keeping a distance,
’til we just stayed distant and never touched. Now all we do is text too much.”

Storytelling has changed with technology, and it has changed us. As Macklemore says in the song A Wake,

“…Rodney King was getting beat on
And they let off every single officer
And Los Angeles went and lost it
Now every month there is a new Rodney on Youtube
It’s just something our generation is used to”

Due to the massive amounts of information coming in, and due to the explicitness, we’re becoming numb to real life. Digital storytelling allows us to express our creativity in ways not previously available, and in turn, we’re pushing that creativity to the boundaries (if there are any).

Comment boards for online news sites were very popular for a few years. It was amazing to have the ability to attach your thoughts about a topic to a news report that people around the world were looking at. Until it backfired, people began fighting against each other. Using the anonymity of the internet against each other to say things that they would never say in real life to another person. Feelings they might have had but were subdued now come to the forefront and are released without the thought that words have real life meaning.

Where is it going? My hope is for equilibrium. I trust that at some point, this new ability to push things to the limits will get boring and people will “censor” themselves and refocus on meaning of things instead of just hyper-reality (i.e. ultraviolence, ultrasex, etc.). What does that mean for digital storytelling? I think it means that we are currently in the wild west phase, there are no police or law enforcement here (of course there are, but what are the laws?). Anything and everything is fair game. People are experimenting as they did with hallucinogenic drugs in the 1960s and 70s, but eventually the fun went away and people grew up. I do believe the extremely rapid growth of digital story ideas will eventually slow down, the fun of the online and offline memes might get old. Equilbrium. People will have adjusted to a new way of life… Until the next thing comes along.

To be continued (forever)…

Things that were useful (to me) in this course:

Chris Lott’s Yahoo Pipes page (http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.run?_id=3e8ef82bab432d0dd97eef41f872c03a&_render=rss) was extremely helpful to see when fellow colleagues posted their work. It was much easier than frequently checking each blog URL from the class cohort page.

Google Hangouts sessions were helpful to meet up and talk about what was going on in the class. I did like the asynchronous course, but I also liked having occasional meetings. I actually think it would have been nice to have at least 2 or 3 mandatory Hangouts. I say this because even at the end, I’m not sure who’s still in the class based on the original cohort list. It would be nice for me to know so I can look at and comment on other peoples work. I’ve noticed that some people on the original list are no longer posting (even if they did post the first assignment), but I don’t know if that means they have dropped or if they are just taking their time thinking about how to develop their assignments.

The ED677 Google Site was a great resource that I could refer to during the course. Also, when discussing my degree (focused on Technologies for Distance Education), I was able to use this site as an example of how things could be done differently. The fact that the site is searchable on Google was nice because I didn’t have to memorize the URL or have to login to anything to find it. I could quickly pull up the page and show others the cohort page, the syllabus, etc. It was also nice to have access to the previous cohorts assignments. I used these a few times, especially in the beginning to see what was expected of us and how they had answered the same questions we were being asked.

The assignment due date being listed on Google Calendar was a helpful way for me to plan out my semester. I realize the due dates were loose, but it still helped me to see when you expected us to be at a certain point. I realized if I hadn’t even started yet, but saw that date coming up, I had to get to work.

The Google+ page turned out to be much more useful than I had anticipated. I have to admit that I’m not sure I’ll use Google+ outside of class, but it was nice to have a place to post questions and comments and to receive notifications about those posts. Being my first asynchronous class, the notifications and message board helped remind me that I was in a class with other students who were likely going through the same thing I was.

WordPress blogs as a system for assignments was a great choice. I think it is easy enough for even a beginner to learn and yet versatile enough to fully express ourselves.

Things that weren’t useful (to me at least):

Diigo. I found it to be a chore to log into my Diigo site to tag my assignment. I also didn’t really grasp the purpose behind tagging our assignments, other than making it easier to find them. I think Chris Lotts Yahoo page was more successful at compiling the published assignments in one place (that didn’t require a login).

Remnants of the past cohort on the Google Site. For instance, when I visit the 2014 cohort page, the only thing I generally looked at was the blog. Having additional links in the table was confusing because I thought I was missing something that I should have done. Also, keeping assignments such as Peer Review listed in the left-hand menu was confusing because I didn’t know if it was required until I asked.

Refrences:

Potomac SecretAgent (2012, August 13). Pissing off a frog… Retrieved from Facebook on April 24, 2014 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3649169309116

Anonymous (2014, April 23). Death of a parent. Retrieved from Facebook on April 24, 2014.

Francis, Sage (2010, May 11). “The Best of Times” from the album LI(F)E. ANTI-/Epitaph records.

Unknown (2013, April 23). Introverts Unite. Retrieved from Mooney’s Theology Blog http://www.mooneytheology.com/2013/04/things-i-wish-others-understood-about.html

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (2012, October 9). “A Wake” from the album The Heist. Macklemore LLC

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Technologies for Distance Learning in Alaska

Websites discussed during presentation:

http://www.breining.edu/USDEDistLearning.htm
http://wcetblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/ipeds-reality-check/
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/nov/13/human-interaction-distance-learning
http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.org/resources/best-accredited-online-colleges/
http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf

WordPress Example – https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/ed677sp14/

Final Project Handout 4.4.14

Final cover inside

Blackboard_Collaborate_Web_Conferencing_Moderator’s_Guide_PDF

RD 492 – Adam Kane – Intensive Method

RD 601 – Adam Kane – The Economics of Distance Ed Final

RD 601 – Adam Kane – The Economics of Distance Education Presentation

RD 650 – Adam Kane – Distance Education Technologies

RD 650 – Adam Kane – Presentation

RD 651 – Adam Kane – Consultancy Report

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Participatory Storytelling

What were we thinking when we (a collaborative class effort) came up with the story of Ren, Kye, Niko, the bear and a three legged cat?

My best guess… we were looking for the spotlight. My initial thoughts of our collaborative storytelling project,even while it was occurring, was that we were all looking to draw attention to our own posts. The interesting thing about our story (or probably most collaborative stories), as compared to one which is written by one person, is that we all wanted to make the most impact we could with our individual contributions. This differs from a story written by a singular person because they wouldn’t need to make each sentence count as much as the one before. Each line wouldn’t have to change the plot, add/remove a character. Their sentences would probably build up towards the greater good of the story as a whole, instead of the sentence as a whole.

For instance, if every sentence of a story added another plot twist, we would probably have very strange stories (similar to our collaborative effort). In a “normal” story, descriptive information is told. Things that set the scene, explain the past, present and future. I’m not sure if every collaborative group effort would have the same results, but it seems likely that they would. Not many people want to contribute the mundane sentence, the filler in the paragraph, the way to connect one thought to the next.

collaborative mural (unnamed) by Wil Yee CHURCHILL SQUARE (2012)

collaborative mural (unnamed) by Wil Yee CHURCHILL SQUARE (2012)

 

As you can see in the photo above, when each artist has a chance to express themselves in the mural, they often choose to make their contribution as unique as possible. It can make for interesting art, but as far as telling a story it seems to fall short.

Similar results also occur when considering collaborative music. When you listen to a band playing prearranged music, it is cohesive and understandable. Sometimes, when a band or group of musicians begins to freestyle or jam, something else happens. The musicians often share pass the “spotlight” around highlighting each others talents.The difference between this type of jam and a prearranged song, is that the prearranged song often tells a story and the jam is just an opportunity for musicians to show off, take the lead, change the plot (rhythm/tempo/etc.).

This is not always the case, however, and the results might have to do with the size of the collaborative group. The band The Postal Service consists of two people who created an entire album sharing their contributions through the mail. One would make a beat, the other would add vocals and send it back, the first would remix it and send it back to have more work done to it.

One beneficial use of collaborative storytelling is in gaming. This seems to be the case, in my opinion, because players can’t make up their contributions. They are required to play the game according to the predetermined framework. This means they can express themselves in their game playing style, with talent, expression, etc, but they cannot necessarily add anything entirely unique. Is a multiplayer online game capable of telling a story? Yes, as we’ve established earlier in the semester, games are definitely capable of conveying a story though it is generally when a game is played

So, can a collaborative story actually tell a meaningful story? Obviously that depends on your definition of the word meaningful, but my opinion is no. I think that without having an editor/director/planner/organizer or whatever else is necessary to point people in one direction, a story will come out much like our Twitter story. Contributors will be continuously introducing new characters, plot twists, settings, etc. This doesn’t mean the results won’t be interesting, what it means to me is that there won’t be a beginning, middle or an end.

One example of this is the movie 4 Rooms. It is centered on a bellboy at a hotel, each of the 4 rooms depicted in the movie is directed by a different director, resulting in each having it’s own style. The common link is the bellboy and his story, but ultimately there was an editor who made sure all the rooms and the bellboy were connected in a meaningful way.

Excerpt from Room 3 (NSFW Language)

Excerpt from Room 4 (NSFW Language)

One of the more interesting outcomes of the participatory storytelling assignment was when fellow students took the storyline and presented it the way they saw it. That is how I envision participatory storytelling to work best, the same with any participatory or collaborative art piece. They require that final editor, director, mastermind to take all the pieces and put them together in a way that presumably makes sense.

These are some great examples:

Heidi Olson (thoughts/ideas/experiments/videos) http://olsonid.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/participatory-storytelling/
Victory Avery (video game) http://www.victorialynnavery.com/participatory-story/
Kendell Newman (choose your own adventure) http://www.kendellnewmansadiik.com/?p=272
Katie Harrison (video/news cast) http://katieharrison.org/2014/04/06/participatory-storytelling/
Nicholas Evans (theater) http://nmevansblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/twitter-in-translation/

References:

Unnamed Mural (2012). collaborative mural (unnamed) by Wil Yee CHURCHILL SQUARE (2012). Retrieved on April 6, 2014 from http://www.calgaryartsdevelopment.com/files/collaborative%20mural%20%28unnamed%29%20by%20Wil%20Yee%20CHURCHILL%20SQUARE%20%282012%29.JPG

The Postal Service (2003, July 8). The Postal Service – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, Subpop records (2003). Video retrieved from YouTube on April 6, 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUIBnmdJJ50

Strelokgunslinger¬†(2013, September 13).¬†Four Rooms – $1000 for One Second’s Work. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBV2swjhQm0

jodhve515 (2010, February 7). ‘Four rooms’ – Third room. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rIOCb-MFUg

 

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Augmented Reality

There are three elements to be found in this Aurasma AR scene. Image created by Adam Kane.

There are six elements to be found in this Aurasma AR scene. Image created by Adam Kane.

“Reality is independent of the individual accidental element of thought.” – Charles Pierce

When I tried to describe Augmented Reality to a friend, their first response was, “like Google Glass? or Terminator?”. My answer was, “yes, sometimes.” Augmented Reality can be the integration of external information with present information. External information can come in the form of images or videos as seen in the example above, or it could be audio or any other form of data. Some example of where this is already being used is museums, where visitors can receive an electronic guide that can display additional information (audio or video) for each object they are viewing. This is almost the same as the deconstruction element of our assignment. How did we come about doing what we did, and why.

So why did I create the scene above? I don’t really have a specific reason, but as we were discussing the assignment in our Hangout session this idea came to me. I thought about portraying a scene where something had obviously happened, but still vague enough to allow viewers to come up with their own ideas. I initially wanted to include the QR code on the confidential folder so that you had to follow the clues to find out what happened. Step one notice the QR code and scan it, then use the Aurasma Auras to tell the story step by step.

Creating the scene was actually pretty difficult. It started with some thoughts about what kind of story I wanted to tell. I wanted to tell a mystery of sorts, a crime scene, a dead person, etc. I then took a lot of pictures and mashed them together in Photoshop. The different pictures include the airplane, the mountains, the dead body, the folder, and the briefcase.I originally wanted to have the QR code on the confidential folder, that would be the starting point. As it turns out, due to laws of perspective or some other artistic reasoning, I couldn’t fit it on there and put it in the corner instead.

case

crash

plane

mountain

folder

I then cropped the created scene to focus on the image I wanted to use as a trigger. I saved each trigger separately and thought about what I would use for a overlay. I searched the internet for different things, often thinking the NSA was going to kick in my door at any moment. Especially when my searches were for plane crashes, dead bodies, most wanted fugitives, etc.

I also wanted to experiment with sound, so I tried to find a way to share the music that can be heard when looking at the mountain. Interestingly, Aurasma will not let you use music as an overlay. I had to find a website that was streaming the particular song I was looking for, which turned out to be more difficult than I previously imagined so I had to settle for a preview.

Once the scene and Aurasma was created, I was able to make a QR code to link them all together.

I found it difficult to use pre-existing information (videos/news stories/images/etc.) to create a new story. I think it could have turned out better if I would have told the story of an actual, well documented event. The alternative would be for me to make my own corresponding information (videos/news stories/images/etc) to help tell my own story. This is much more difficult and would likely take a lot more time.

Augmented reality is an interesting idea that will almost definitely become more prevalent in our society as Google Glass and other similar technologies gain traction. What this means for reality is hard to say, the additional information presented through the augmented channel would have to be created by someone and that someone could have biases of their own (or their government or corporation). In the future, will we have to decide which reality we trust? The real one or the augmented one? This brings me back to the quotation I started with…”Reality is independent of the individual accidental element of thought.” – Charles Pierce

Refrences:

Aurasma.com

The Maple Creek Badger (2011, January 3). King Air runs off the runway in Saskatchewan. Retrieved on March 5, 2014 from http://rainaviationblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/king-air-runs-off-runway-in.html

Jones, John (2012, September 19). Audi S4 and RS6 Armed robbery 62million dollars. Retrieved on March 5, 2014 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAJ0wO92cpQ

Padilla, Anica (2014, February 16). 3 found dead in plane crash wreckage 1 mile west of Telluride Airport. http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/private-plane-disappears-from-radar-in-telluride-area-sunday-morning

Focusing on Law and Business (2013, February 7). The importance of confidentiality agreements. Image retrieved from http://www.i-infocus.co.uk/confidentiality-agreements/

King, Deroy Jr. (2014, March 5). Wanted by the FBI. http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/additional/@@wanted-group-scroll-view?selected-uid=4a559cece0f91c7cd532de7855eef64b

QR Code Generator (2014, March 5). QR Code Generator. http://goqr.me/

http://stockphotos.com

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