Storytelling Within the Web Assignment: How Cynics See UMW

Do you know anyone on campus who aaaallways has something negative to say about the school? In some cases what they say is true, but most of the time they just need something to complain about in front of their friends. It gets annoying. Wouldn’t it be simpler to transfer if you dont like the university? Apparently that concept is too complicated.

I created the How Cynics See UMW page by taking the original UMW homepage and editing the text to what is usually negatively said about the campus; “There’s no parties here!” “The food service here sucks!” ect. I do agree with a few of these, such as the small amount of diversity and the fact that our school’s slogan is cheesy, but I don’t complain about these aspects every waking moment! For the most part, I wouldn’t have selected any other college to attend.

Here’s the original UMW homepage

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And here’s how cynics see it
Picture 1

I was unable to change the UMW logo and slogan just by typing over the text because the whole space was an image. This was the only place on the site where I had to use GIMP, since everything else was a basic editable text area.

Check out the main page to see the text a bit clearer. And for pete’s sake, don’t turn into one of these people!! People like these make the school more unbearable than what they actually claim.

“Why Cant I Hold All These Photos!” Week 5: Photography

Captain’s Log…I’ve been sailing on the S.S.DS106 for 5 weeks now. So far so good. My crew continues to remain productive through these weekly storms, and no one has given up yet. This week for sure I thought we were going to have someone jump overboard because of the treacherous Photography Typhoon, but alas, all of the sailors stood their ground and fought through. This is why the crew is composed of only the most dedicated individuals who keep moving forward, no matter how rough the waters get.

This week I waved good-bye to my beloved audio week and shyly said hello to photography. At the beginning of the week I was worried because I felt that my digital camera wasn’t up to professional standards. But thanks to the following tips I learned from the storyfy collection, I learned that I didn’t need a professional camera to take beautiful pictures.

Tips that Helped Me This Week

1. Take your camera EVERYWHERE You Go! (http://www.photoble.com/photography-tips-tricks/tips-to-become-a-better-photographer)
Seriously, you’ll never know when you’ll stumble on something great as you’re walking to and from class. As I was walking to the dining hall, I saw this young deer grazing and was thinking “Man, I wish I had my camera. Oh wait! I do have it.” I would’ve never caught the picture below if I didn’t have it on me  DSCN0214

2.Explore Different Angles (http://www.brighthub.com/multimedia/photography/articles/952.aspx)

Taking photos at an angle is better in most cases than taking them head on. It adds a whole new perspective on life. The image below was taken in my room at my parent’s house. …I dont know what sort of label to give this image, all I know is that I like it.

dog

3. It’s All About Light and Contrast (http://darcynorman.net/2008/12/20/on-following-the-light/)

I think this tip helped me the most because it made me think about what a photograph is in the first place. The article explains how “Photography literally means “the process of drawing with light”,” not just taking pictures of random people and things. So I decided that anything could be considered a great photograph if the lighting gives it a stunning effect.I took this picture on a foggy day near one of UMW’s bus stops. In this photo, the eye is instantly drawn to the brightest street lamp.  Street

Photoblitz Assignment

This was pretty fun! I ignored everyone’s strange looks as I strolled around Campus Walk snapping only the best shots! Found Here!

I really enjoyed this assignment because it reminded me of a scavenger hunt, which I’m usually a pro at! I ended up getting weird looks from people within those 20 minutes because I had walked around the whole area at least 5 times searching for the perfect locations. Great photographers don’t give a duck if they get stared at, as long as they get the perfect shot!

 Daily Creates

I now don’t spend as much time on Daily Creates as I did in Week 1; spending only about 10-15 minutes on them. The 3 I did this week were: “A drawing of a place I’ve been, but never want to go back to,” “A picture of something new and shiny,” and “Cut something up and piece it back together.”

This is a drawing of my old high school. I couldn’t wait to graduate, and I do NOT want to go back there! These halls contained so much drama that you’d always get sucked into it without even trying!
A place I NEVER want to return to......

Crispy, red apples! Shiny AND new! Don’t mind if I do.

Crunchy,Shiny, and New

In this picture I cut a piece of paper in half and then folded them back into each other in the shape of a ninja star (or what you call a “shuriken”) I used to make these alot in middle school because I was obsessed with an anime called Naruto.

Transformation

Photoset of Best Shots

Check out the best of the best here!

Visual Assignments

This week we also had to do 10 stars worth of Visual Assignments. These ended being much more fun than the Daily Creates, and I started and completed most of them on Sunday! The ones I did were all 2 stars and here they are!

Makeup Your Pet
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Valentines Day Caption Challenge
BeachLove
Cropped Signs
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Optical Illusion
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9 Lives
passageofme

I think out of all 5 of these, Makeup Your Pet was my favorite because I made my dad angry for turning the dog into a drag queen! Priceless!

Comment Groups

As usual my comment group continues to shine with unimaginable Ds106 wisdom. It’s fun sharing advice with those who need it. I commented on Sarah’s Color Splash assignment giving her some advice about colorizing her photos in GIMP instead of a limited phone app. This advice ended up becoming a graphic tutorial for the rest of the class.

I learned this week that taking a picture does not just mean lifting the camera and shooting willy-nilly. You have to have some idea of what you want to capture in your photo to make it stand out.  Sure this week taught me a lot of interesting facts about photography and optimizing photos, but I’m kind of glad it’s over. Between the photoblitzing and visual assignments, I’m pooped! I did however enjoy seeing others creativity this week when they tackled their photo assignments and shared them on Twitter. These people never cease to amaze me. Oh! And I also forgot to mention that we selected our Radio Show groups this week! My wonderful group is composed of Nancy, Chelsea, Jennifer, Watkins, and myself and together we are…..uh….we’re still trying to decide on a name…(I myself really like the name “Digital Dynamite“) Oh well! We’ll figure it out!

DS106 Radio Bumper!

Best with headphones!!

 

Woah, this assignment was so fun that I started it immediately after it was assigned. I’d grown up listening to different radio stations (mainly the ones my parents and older sister played in the car,) and I would pay attention, not just to the songs, but to the commercials and promos; so much so that I began copying the ads word for word (driving my mom crazy.)

I created this bumper using Garageband, which is a program that comes with Mac computers, and all of the sounds were from the built-in sound library. I based the bumper after the general radio stations that say their station’s name like 3 or more times, sample a clip from one of their shows, and offer to connect with the audience online. There were 8 tracks total, each one having a different audio output or distortion. I also layered the recordings over one another to reduce the time in between. Radio stations do this to get as much time into their promo as possible since they only get maybe 15-20 seconds. The best way to learn the format of radio commercials is by listening to all the commercials whenever they come on (and not turn to a different station!)

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Week 3: I Haven’t Seen the Sun in Days…

What week is this again…week 3? Man time flies! It seems like it was only the first week of Bootcamp! This week was a mouthful, literally (see 5-picture story), and we all got a chance to learn new things about the endless aspects of Digital Storytelling. First of all, I had to figure out a way to put into words what Digital Storytelling was. This is actually more complicated than it sounds because it’s hard to define what we see and take for granted every day. (It’s like trying to describe what “sweet” tastes like. Impossible!) However, I feel that I came up with a successful definition that even gained cogdog’s seal of approval!

The Shape of Stories Assignment

The 2nd thing we learned was how basic stories are commonly structured. Using the brilliant mind of Kurt Vonnegut and his “Shape of Stories” method, I constructed a story arc using an episode of My Little Pony entitled “Sonic Rainboom.”After creating one of these, I started to realize that A LOT of movies and books use these same mechanics to structure their plots. I don’t know whether it is a good thing that I realized this or a bad thing, since I’ll never be surprised at how a story ends anymore…

Previous DS106 Students’ Projects

Tuesday was a time to pay tribute to our DS106 Ancestors by looking back at their final projects. This group was incredibly talented and motivated to provide their viewpoints on digital story telling! I skimmed through each of their final projects and admired how eager they were to display their visions. My favorite in particular was Kiersten’s Toy Story Mashup which sent me on a major nostalgia trip.

Daily Creates

And now the fun stuff! THE DAILY CREATES! I seriously love doing these every week because they give me a chance to take a break from boring 6 page papers to do something that I love to do; be creative. This week I did 4: The 5 Star Breakfast, The Rude Blue Screen of Death, My New Invention, and  My Biggest Fear. The 5 Star Breakfast consisted of my usual breakfast, burnt toast with a Poptart and water. When you have a class at 9am on the other side of campus, you don’t really have time to eat a fancy, gourmet, bacon and egg filled, continental breakfast. This is college; where healthy meals are scarce and homework is plenty! My version of the Blue Screen of Death is a  error message that clearly hates the computer it’s running on…and the user running it. My New Invention was inspired by an episode of Jimmy Neutron where Jimmy used this pocket sized storage cube to store everything. This would be a nifty device because it would never run out of space, so one could shove a convertible into it and still have room for a Hummer. Finally, my biggest fear is a bit unusual. Since I was younger, I’ve always been afraid of these harmless floating objects, to the point where when we had to work with them in elementary school, I would pretend to be sick to leave class. Even in college, these objects scare me more than spiders. I cant even look at this video without cringing a bit…. Oh no! I was busy having so much fun with these Daily Creates that I forgot my paper is due on Canvas soon! Ugh!

Picture 3

The next assignment was to compile 5 photos and create a story with them. Since I uploaded my own photo set, I had to tell my story only with pictures and no text. This is a key part of digital storytelling because it is using photos on an electronic medium to convey a message rather than reading a linear explanation. It allows the reader to mentally create their own stories using only the information given to them. I’m not going to explain what my photo set means, I’ll leave you to figure it out, or you can create your own story using them! I’ll just tell you that it is based on a true story of deep regret and anguish.

Comment Groups

Finally, all of us were placed into comment groups to analyze and provide feedback on each others blogs. I enjoy this system because it gives us a chance to have our material reviewed by fellow students who are learning about the topics at the same pace. I found some of the comments I received on my posts to be extremely helpful since some of them inspired me to change a few things on my layout. Likewise, I was able to offer some advice on ways to improve one’s design, such as making it easily navegatable so potential employers wont have to waste time figuring out who’s blog they’re reading and what their website’s theme is. I feel so honored to be in a class with so many creative people!

In the end there was a good amount of tasks to perform this week, so much so that if it weren’t for the “Weekly Summary Checklist” on the course blog, I’d be a lost puppy right now. But once you know the list of things you must complete, and if you can get them done early, you’ll get some downtime to add extra things to your blog and even make a few more Daily Creates for fun! I learned some new functions on Twitter that I can now use to my advantage, and I started dusting off my Skype. Speaking of Skype, next week is the week where I co-host on the DS106 Show . I’m excited and terrified at the same time since I’ve never discussed anything live before, and I cant edit out anything if I mess up. The most I can do is give it my all and attempt to feel confident about the topic. Week 4 is around the corner with a baseball bat, but I’ll be ready with an Ak-47!

Sonic Rainboom! The Story Structure

In the video we reviewed, Kurt Vonnegut discusses the common ways that stories are structured. I used his ideas and applied them to an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (don’t laugh! these aren’t your average ponies!) entitled “Sonic Rainboom.”

In this episode, Rainbow Dash, a blue Pegasus, practices for a contest called “The Best Young Flyers Competition.” The winner of this contest gets the chance to spend the day with the Wonderbolts, the greatest team of flyers in all of Equestria (also Rainbow’s idols) The central problem of the episode arises when Dash figures out that she can’t perform the legendary Sonic Rainboom, and she believes that she’s going to blow it at the competition. In the end, after a major minor inconvenience, she does eventually perform the technique and meet her childhood heroes.

I chose to start off Rainbow Dash’s story arch a little above the “average protagonist line” because Dash is a gifted pegasus who’s speed is nearly incomparably to any other flyer, which gives her character a small advantage. When she discovers that she cant do the Sonic Rainboom her position on the timeline goes down and continues to decrease until her friends arrive to cheer her on, which causes it to go back up slightly. Now here’s where the 2nd conflict arises; Rainbow’s friend, Rarity (a preppy fashionista,) is so busy admiring her newly acquired wings, that she completely forgets about Rainbow Dash’s nervousness. This new conflict reduces Rainbow Dash’s confidence once again, and even more as the episode progresses and Rarity gains more of the other ponies’ attention. Finally, Dash hits her lowest point when Rarity decides to enter the competition herself  to show off. (Some friend she is!) Miraculously, Rainbow’s luck changes when Rarity’s wings melt in the sunlight and she begins to fall to her doom! How does this boost Rainbow up on the timeline? Well this is the exact catastrophic incident that Dash needed to give her the wing-power to perform the Sonic Rainboom. After this incident, she wins the competition AND gets to meet the Wonderbolts, which propels her story to OFF SCALE HAPPINESS!

This episode is one of my favorites of the series and I encourage others to watch it! Sure, in most of the episodes there’s usually a happy ending for the mane main cast, but it’s not about the ending. It’s about the journey traveled to get there!

Side Note: This series is not just for girls anymore. There is a huge group consisting of millions of fans called Bronies, men ages 15-30 who enjoy the series. Not kidding! There’s even a Brony Club at UMW!

What the heck is Digital Storytelling?

At first I used to associate “storytelling” with just cracking open Little Red Riding Hood and reading it to a group of people. But now, after completing my Writing Through Media and Electronic Literature courses during my time at UMW, I can see that the term storytelling can mean much more than that. I believe storytelling is defined as any method used to convey a message to an audience. This is not solely limited to linear content such as a hardcover book that reads from left to right, but it can also include pictures, music, or even verbal discourse.

Now that we know that storytelling is not just about reading miles of sentences on a page, what could Digital Storytelling mean? I myself wouldn’t consider reading an ebook on a tablet digital storytelling, despite the fact that it’s stationed on a digital medium. Instead, I believe it is combining images, text, and other non-linear elements to narrate a story. Digital stories can include interactive content as well as visual effects to liven the presentation. Using this method, each person’s story becomes more personalized. Digital stories could also be conveyed through artgames, which use video game controls to keep the reader (player) engaged. This works well with those that are visual/kinesthetic learners (such as myself) who would rather play the story than read it. A good example of this sort of game is called One Chance where you literally have one chance to set things right.

Storytelling isn’t the same as it was 100 years ago. We now have computers, video cameras, and digital tools to help make our stories more than just words on a page. Every person is different, so wouldn’t it make sense to tell our own stories in a way that is unique?

The Django Stare

django

This was a clip from the trailer of the movie “Django Unchained.” (LOVED this movie!) I created this GIF by downloading the trailer from Youtube and singling out this section by trimming it in Quicktime. I then went to Photoshop, imported the clip into layers, and adjusted the amount of time it took between layers (0.05 seconds). Finally I saved it as a .gif by going to File–>Save for Web and Devices–>Save.

The challenge that sometimes occurs is getting the file size down to a certain number of MB; if the number is too high, it wont upload anywhere! Mine was originally 3.4 MB, but I turned it down to 1.5MB by changing the size and reducing the amount of colors. (You can adjust all these settings after you go to “Save for Web and Devices”)

You Might Want to Keep Your Receipt: Discovering Personal Information Online

Your Life
Ah…that dreadful time of year where you have to buy all of your expensive textbooks for classes. At the end of the year, you end up either stuck with them or selling them for prices that are much less than what you spent on them. However, there are those, such as myself, who take a wiser approach by renting their books from reliable websites like Chegg or College Book Renter and returning them when classes are over. This is not only a cheaper method, but it is also a way to not end up with a pesky stack of books at the end of the semester. However, there is always a few risks with this procedure, such as not getting the books on time, damaging them to the point where they cant be returned, having to re-rent them if their due date is before the semester ends, or worst of all, accidentally leaving personal information inside the book when you return it.

When I arrived back at my apartment, I sat down, cracked open my newly rented textbook, and began studying. A few pages later, a folded piece of paper fell out into my lap. I nosily opened it and realized that it was a receipt containing the name and address of the previous renter. I disregarded this revealing item and continued reading. As I read, my concentration was continuously being broken by thoughts of the receipt. Leaving a bookmark in a book is one thing, but leaving something private such as a full name and address?! Who KNOWS what could’ve happened if it had ended up in the wrong hands! I suddenly remembered one of my class assignments last semester was to Google the student sitting next to me to discover how much could be found about them online.  I looked at the receipt in the trash and thought, “I wonder how much I could learn about this person if I happened to be a threat to them…”  I put down the book, snatched the receipt out of the trashcan and opened Google.

It was now time to pretend to be a professional stalker, if such occupation exists. The experiment began with me typing in their full name. Within a flash of a second, dozens of websites that contained her name popped up! Her Facebook, Twitter, Youtube channel, and even her university blog that included her back story was now in front of me. This may not seem like anything significant, but I’d now discovered a new piece of information, her consistent username. If I were a genuine stalker (which I’m not!) I would utilize this username to find out every website she was active on. This was already getting scary because I’d found a good amount of information about her without even typing in where she lived yet. I hesitantly typed in her address, being afraid to see the results. In an instant, her home flashed on the screen, but that wasn’t all. Occupations, military records, past schools,  parents’ names and occupations, pets, sexual orientation, churches, family obituaries… I now felt extremely sorry for her–more so than when I first discovered her receipt–because she made this too easy for anyone to discover. I quickly shredded the piece of paper and tossed the scraps back into the trash.

I thought about sending her a message on Facebook telling her about the issue, but then I DEFINITELY would’ve seemed like a creeper. I just hope she doesn’t make this mistake again, or things could get dangerous for her. Just goes to show that sometimes all it takes is just knowing the first 2 numbers of a combination to open the locker.

The Begining: DS106

DSCN0452

Welcome to my new blog, ds106.missambermay.com! Incase you didn’t know, my name is Amber May (I also go by my alias “Foxy Lee”.) I came into this course thinking it was going to be totally rad, and, after a week of doing some of the projects, so far I think I was right!

I can see why the first week is called “bootcamp.” There was a good amount of content to be learned and a lot of adjusting to the new way of teaching (I’d never taken an online course before.) But now that I’ve had this period to adjust and figure out the type of assignments I’d be performing, I can now start exploring the things I can do with this material! I was already a step forward in the game since I’d already created a website for my Writing Through Media class. All I had to do was create a new subdomain to house my new course work. One of the other initial assignments was to create a youtube page to upload the Daily Creates. Once again, I was ahead in the game because I’d had a youtube channel since 2008 that I would constantly update. I decided to use this channel rather than creating a new one so that the other students in the class could not only see my daily assignments, but they could also take a small look at my voiceover work if they were interested.

Speaking of the Daily Create, after my first few experiences with them, I feel that I’m gonna LOVE them! Remember “Show and Tell” from elementary school? I like to think of these assignments as just that in the sense that it’s a chance for me to share some of my interests and goals with the class. I had fun with the first video assignment, and I think it gave a little taste of the type of person I am, but I ended up making 2 errors. The first problem was that I forgot to introduce myself, and the second problem was that the instructions were to “fabricate a story,” which I didn’t do…woops…

This week wasn’t too bad of a bootcamp for me since I’d had 55% of the content already done. I think the one problem that I’m going to have to learn how to overcome this semester is the fact that I have trouble managing my time, and I end up stubbornly trying to do all the assignments at one time instead of staggering them throughout the week. (This usually results in me burning myself out.) As long as I maintain a positive attitude and listen carefully to the instructions, I’m sure I can pull through. BRING IT ON, DS106! Amber “Foxy” May is gonna give it her best shot this semester!