Author Archive

Copyright

While creators may have gained more rights, I think the public has lost them. 120 or 95 years from creation, with the possibility of renewal, seems rather ridiculous to me. I can understand the case for infinitely extending the copyright for a corporate logo, like Mickey Mouse… but what benefit does it have to keep the copyright of a book or music for 120 years? The author/creator would be dead and their descendants would be making any money, which probably isn’t much after 100 years. The transfer of copyright by buying or selling also seems somewhat farfetched. What motivates copyright terms to be so long except profit and greed?

I understand that creators may feel ownership over their work and want to control its distribution. This seems like a very human impulse, however, sharing with anyone brings its own risks. Perhaps you took a picture and shared it with a friend that forwarded it onto half a dozen friends because it’s pretty. Suddenly it shows up posted on a social networking site and used by a few dozen people as pretty wallpaper… This seems fundamentally different than deliberate plagiarism from a book into a school paper, which I think copyright exists more for this kind of example.

Where does digital storytelling fit into this? I think we need to consider the limits of ownership in the way of seeing things and also the culture of DST.

Changing the Storyboard: Part I

With the feedback I received, I realized that my concept still remained very broad… and decided to add some more specific elements. Overall, I want to ask my audience about their opinion about the space program and encourage some thought with some arguments for/against it. Therefore, new elements will include:

- Quick mission profile, actual costs versus projected, perceived benefits (like Hubble)

- Opinion pieces from news sources, editorials, blogs, etc.

- Polling data that shows opinions about funding and importance of the space program

These will become the evidence incorporated into my existing framework of asking why we explore to stimulate some thoughts from the audience about what side they might take (pro/con federally funded space exploration… since the private/public debate is an entire other arena).

Category: W12: Final Project Progress  Comments off
Interactivity!

Storytelling seems to become more fluid in a digital and interactive environment. As much as we might want to structure a story by beginning or end, an online story or website doesn’t necessarily have the same structure when it becomes interactive that you intended. For example, while website designers may expect the home page to be the first page a viewer sees, sometimes Google or an emailed link lands them on some random inner page without the “introductory” info your home page intentionally provides.

Arguably, the digital environment may improve or worsen academic writing and argument depending on its contributors. For example, many people complain that correct spelling, proper grammar, capitalization, or other writing conventions have disappeared in the digital age. On the other hand, the attention span of an online viewer seems much shorter and an argument might have to become much more concise in an online environment. Beyond the question of better or worse, digitally published academic material still seems to have less credibility to other academics than print publications, unless the topic is digital media.

What does space exploration mean?

Note: Sorry I completely forgot to actually post this instead of draft it. :(

I went to a conference presentation a few years ago and the topic stuck with me because Dr. John McNeill (Georgetown University) insisted on defining space exploration in the context of human exploration. Satellites and scientific missions counted as something else, not exploration, because it did not involve something like humans setting foot on the moon.

As a result, the central question that my digital story will revolve around asks:

What does exploration mean? Does exploration necessarily imply human exploration, as opposed to robotic exploration?

The answer to this question provides some context for the “so, what?” in my dissertation on several space science missions, including Voyager and the Mars rovers. Because my research will delve into the imagery and public relations efforts surrounding the missions, the digital storytelling format may prove advantageous for analyzing the importance of this question. As a result, I expect the digital story to remain somewhat abstract as a thought provoking piece. I expect the primary audience for the story to be myself, as a way to organize some of the visual material and ideas, but would appreciate any feedback or reactions to the concepts presented.

While the research questions may remain my own, the elements of the digital story will be taken from actual sources such as news releases, images, and publications. Although the publications may be under copyright, the images usually reside within the public domain and careful usage should prevent major copyright infringement.

The following paragraph in the conclusion of the essay, “Gigantic Follies? Human Exploration and the Space Age in Long-term Historical Perspective” by J. R. McNeill in Remembering the Space Age, presents an interesting scenario that may end up as a quote within the digital story:

“Space exploration may survive on one or another basis, but it still will
not loom large in terms of human history unless something really new and
interesting happens, the sort of thing people in the space business probably
dream about—finding intelligent and agreeable (or at least neutral) life out
there or colonizing new corners of the universe—or probably have nightmares
about—developing effective space-based weapons suitable for use against
earthly enemies or finding intelligent but hostile life out there. If any of these
things happen, then the first 50 years of space exploration will look like the
beginning of something of epic significance. If they don’t, it will look like
a small step for mankind that led nowhere, and did not amount to much in
the balance before being consigned to the dustbin of history. It is indeed too
soon to judge whether the whole enterprise is a gigantic folly diverting money
and talent from more urgent applications, a noble calling consonant with our
deepest nature, or something else altogether.”

Category: W6: Final Project Topic  Comments off
Show and Tell

Anyone else having issues with Animoto? It seems to eat my creations by never coming out of the processing, analyzing, and rendering page. I tried twice… :(

Ok, apparently it takes forever to get the videos done. Like more than an hour each. So if you hit the edit button wrong… you have to wait some more…

Updates pending…

Ambrosia Remix

DST allows a more visual teaching opportunity in this case, which I cobbled together after my first attempt rendered for too long that it seemed lost. Revisions still pending because my “story” seems too literal and less allegorical… but wanted to get something up before the deadline since it takes at least an hour for me to render each revision. :(

If you’re curious, here’s what I was constructing for my first attempt (which doesn’t have the text yet).

Experiment Incomplete

The biggest problem I had seemed to be the lack of control. I couldn’t reorder the images and had to use additional software/hacks/websites to get video clips that I wanted from YouTube. When I finished rendering, I found the result to be a total surprise with the funky transitions and appearances. In addition, I found it difficult to create a coherent story without planning every little detail because of the inflexibilities within Animoto. The result perhaps seems too straightforward and simple than something truly interesting…

Category: W5: Animoto  One Comment
Murder mystery… gone wrong?

The file Murder at Harvard tells a story about a historian that attempts to explain the past using creativity and imagination, as well as evidence. The film makes history look more fun as an engaging murder mystery than a traditional documentary with only facts and mild speculation by experts about the past. It seemed more cohesive and entertaining than reading the book because  the actors could reenact multiple scenes of the same potential event without losing the audience over timeline issues. Going back to the question of whether people dream in “movie time” or movies have encouraged people to think this way… I think seeing something occur makes the possible events more real than simply imagining the different scenarios. Therefore, the film reaches a larger audience to become excited about exploring history in a way they might readily understand without prior experience or training.

History presented in less traditional formats seems to be threatening to the traditionalists if it includes a non-academic sense of entertainment. For most traditionalists, “popular” and “academic” a.k.a. “real history” appear to be diametrically opposed in the history field. While this seems unfortunate, the bookstores hold many books written by non-historians (often journalists) and famous historians examined with more criticism for their popularity (like David McCullough). Ironically, Bancroft Prize winning books exhibit similar qualities to these popular books such as readability  to a general audience or some kind of relevance to the present that might make the topic interesting. Perhaps the lesson drawn from these thoughts is making the “mystery” accessible to more than just fellow historians and engaging of the largest possible audience no matter what the topic might be. Murder and medical mystery shows abound on television… history becomes another mystery that deals in the realm of real past events and evidence that the historian plays a starring role in.

Category: W4: Murder at Harvard  Comments off
Digital Storytelling

Digital: multimedia (video, animation, presentation, etc) often widely available (online, cds/dvds).

Storytelling: narration of an event, person, place that might be real or fictional for a number of possible reasons (educational, remembrance, entertainment, etc) that usually follows conventional guidelines (characters, plot, climax).

Digital storytelling: a uniquely creative form of sharing that tends to be available online for both a specific and general (since anyone might stumble upon the website) audience made by amateurs and professionals of all ages/gender/race/groups. This creative form might be entirely user generated, copied bits and pieces put together (like fan videos), recorded from a live event (presented in a constructed manner), etc.

Challenges of digital storytelling: includes accessibility, temporality vs. permanence (especially in an online environment), copyright.

Ultimately, defining digital storytelling becomes difficult because either the author or the potential viewer might label a work as a digital story while others might adhere to more rigid definitions. A digital story is a digital story depending on the eye of the beholder.

Astro

Giny Cheong

I feel like I’ve been at George Mason forever since getting my MA and continuing into the PhD program in American History. My interests lie in twentieth century history of science, technology, and the environment with a cultural/visual media focus on these topics. For my dissertation, I would like to analyze several NASA science missions for their impact on the general public… “impact” being a bucket term for looking at the images released and their meanings, the dissemination and public understanding of science, and other themes that will emerge in the dissertation prospectus I’m supposed to be writing this semester.

If you look me up on social networking sites, you may find that I dislike pictures and tend to put up images of my two cats… so other random details include that I adore kitties, spend far too much time on the computer, actually have played World of Warcraft despite being of the feminine persuasion, nicknamed McDonalds as the “place of food evil” and Starbucks as the “crack house”…

Category: W2: Bio  Comments off
Cirque Du Soleil

I started by typing “digital story funny” into Google to see what would come up and this caught my interest in the middle of the first page. “9 Things Digital Storytelling Can Learn from Cirque Du Soleil” by Larissa on January 28, 2009. Looking generally at the website, ANidea seems to be a blog created by the employees of Agencynet, which seems to offer marketing, multimedia, and other technological services targeted towards an online environment (with a really cool interactive multimedia company website, by the way).

Back to the article, I scanned down the page to see if it included examples and figured that it would still work for this assignment… plus I get to see Cirque clips. :)  The article also included links to other digital stories, which included more interactive multimedia experiences as opposed to just watching YouTube clips.

The second Cirque clip, the Cry Wheel Act, got me to think about live performance versus recordings. How does the recording detract from the authenticity of the event or do you lose anything in making a recording as opposed to being live? While the acrobatic dance and music seems a bit more abstract than a person talking about their story, the way that the clips get framed create their own mini stories from the larger performance going on. This particular clip reveals a nice transition into the Wheel Act and something going on with a couple (man and a woman) plus a bunch of other male performers. They spin around in circles within their giant circles… first the woman alone, then the man alone, then more men join, and finally all four performers. A costumed donkey with two men inside of it stand off to the side. It seems like a journey scene, but I’m not entirely sure how they manage to keep a story going because the audience tends to be fascinated with the sheer artistry of the performers. Looking up the show information, Corteo is about a festive parade imagined by a clown…

Are these clips representative of digital storytelling because they’ve been digitized or do they not really fit an acceptable definition? I think there’s some sort of story being told in this act… but my inability to interpret it doesn’t seem to negate its status as a story because the web probably had plenty of bad examples of digital storytelling leaving confused viewers behind. I would argue that the dance/acrobatics would fit in a nontraditional definition of storytelling, which brings up the question of accessibility. For example, how do vision or hearing disabled individuals reap any benefits from this flowering of digital storytelling?

On a side note, it also reminds me of how movie trailers want to create interest in a story, but not give away the whole thing and still remain coherent enough to stand by itself.

Category: W2: Digital Story  Comments off