Crunch Time

What’s interesting about this time of year is that it is often referred to as ‘Crunch Time,’ meaning you have lots to do in a short amount of time. But I think it has two meanings, also that you eat heaps (hence the crunching) while doing work and therefore gaining study weight… Well anyway, let me brighten your day, take your mind off of the terrible convolution that is your text book and direct your attention to this remarkable video that has more convolution that you’ll ever need but is super fun to watch.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Graphical information

My strengths and weaknesses, as indicated in the marking feedback for the Land of Destruction assessment tasks.

From my short but extensive research on infographics, I concluded that no one uses any outlines for anything, and so I didn’t. I also felt like it needed a booming statistic but it felt weird to be a statistic for my marks. The result was a silly but very accurate percentage.

Three designs later and a lot of rethinking and reworking, here it is. Do you think it’s obvious I like pink? *shudders* Stop being a stereotype, Christine.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Story fried

I am cheap. I mean, I’ll weigh the benefits for whether money will be well-spent but just to properly embed my Storify story onto WordPress, a probably one time only event? I don’t think so. Maybe if I get more obsessed with Storify (which is highly possible considering all the phases I’ve gone through with certain websites and games and just a bunch of stuff like that), I might but until then, I’ll just chuck on the link. It’s a Storify story I made that incorporating written pieces by people who are also doing Networked media. I have compiled the stories in an order that allows the themes to be explored progressively, as though you are walking along a timeline and experiencing all the chronological events.

Well, here it is:
http://storify.com/luongchristine/the-internet-and-his-story

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Waffle Reflection

Assuming you’re a regular on my blog, you probably saw the post I made a couple of posts ago where I designed a game that used QR codes and Twitter. First and foremost, you should know that it took me ages to wrap my head around my concept. This was in fact my third draft at the synopsis/story aspect of it and the second version of my decision tree.

I took the element that was Twitter and really heavily relied on the whole social side of it and I thought I could have the entire game revolving around the path to for lack of better words, networking enlightenment. I decided it would be easier for me to come up with the decisions for the decision tree after I’d figured out the story that lead up to having to make the decisions. It took me the first two drafts to realise that this kind of concept would be far to strange to occur in the real world. On my third attempt, which is the one you see on my blog, I created an alternate galaxy. It would make more sense for them to be farfetched. But beyond that, I wanted there to also be some common elements of what we do here on Earth, with the weirdness of regulations and especially with the idea of social networking.

I decided that rather than having all the usual social networking sites, that after the compulsory step of having a Twitter account and tweeting your progress, the player would be exploring other forms of social media. The ones I picked out were specific to their interests. One about books/reading, one about sports, one about art, one about cooking/food, one about TV shows and one about music/sound. But then I also needed to include the QR codes so I thought of having the game be like a scavenger hunt where clues would lead the player to a place that had items pertinent to the website and where they would find a QR code that lead them there.

Due to the fact that the whole idea of a decision tree is that you make decisions, I had to rethink my initial one. At first, I had more of a progressive road of activities and you really just didn’t make any decisions at all. The more I thought about it, the more confused I got about how to change what I had to something where the player had the opportunity to choose. So I broke it down for myself, I split the six website into two categories and from each major point in the game, the player was given the chance to choose what kind of site they wanted to explore next, whether they would prefer the site to let them be opinionated or just to experience a different side of a culture.

All in all, I think that my concept was fairly good. I liked the way that I was able to incorporate Twitter and QR codes. I also thought that my inclusion of various social media emphasised aspects of my story and how Waffles would be exploring the networks as well. I think my main weakness was that I could’ve worked out the decision tree better. While I think that the organisation of it is quirky and something I enjoy myself, perhaps it would’ve been better if i had made it more traditional style. I also think it could be improved through a better formation of decision-making, say if there were more options and more availability of information.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Media Students Charter

This is the charter before I got my hands on it (Red is original charter; blue is the first person who altered it):

This is the charter after I got my hands on it (Black is a merged version of the original and the changes; pink is my additions):

These changes were done entirely on Google docs, one of Google‘s many useful and wonderful creations. It is a file-sharing aspect of having a G-mail account where people can share documents of most kinds with whoever they choose. I’ve even heard of people collaborating on an essay while using Google docs. I think that first off, it is a really easy way to upload a file and have it be available to a large audience without the audience having to download the file. It is also useful because the users can be made aware of changes to the file and the users can make changes of their own. This is especially appropriate for group work because it allows for work to be completed without all members of a group having to be physically present in changing the piece of work. I guess this is easiest if you are working off of a Microsoft Word document. I also found it useful as a personal storage facility. Pretty sure it’s not supposed to be used in that way, buuuuut, it did allow me the access to images or files I might have needed from a separate computer. All up, I think that is a very simple way to having and keeping files on-hand, sharing them, and keeping up to date with the progress of your group. IT’S ALL SO CONVENIENT. EMBRACE IT GUYS, EMBRACE IT.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Waffling

Here is a silly game I designed that uses QR tags and Twitter. Guess it’s really only possible to play if you go to RMIT’s City Campus. Mah bad.

Marketing Image

Synopsis

Waffles lived in Naturalia, a world where everything was considered living and precious. All things from houses to cars were made from organic materials and were energy efficient because their scientists were very advanced in biology and ecology. Naturalia was a planet neighbouring Techtopia, a technologically advanced planet and Paperstan, a planet made entirely of paper. These and many other planets with in their galaxy, The Lunar System, lived in unity. Although each planet held different values and beliefs and were very set in their ways. While they respected the choices made on the other planets, there was a very obvious distinction and division of peoples.

Waffles was very adventurous. She would climb up the highest trees and attempt the most dangerous tricks on her leaf-board. Waffles was also very stubborn. She refused to believe anyone who told her something could not be done. If it was possible, she would explore all the possible ways to complete any challenge that was handed to her. During a history lesson about Techtopia, Waffles was introduced to the idea of social networking. Of course in Naturalia, they had very basic forms of technology. Everything was solar powered or used potato batteries and was made of vines. Waffles understood this concept of voicing her opinion online but she could not grasp its importance of using the Internet as a tool for networking. After all, in Naturalia, they hung imprints of their faces on leaves outside their houses to convey their mood to others, and they contacted each other by screaming through tubular vines connected from house to house.

On a trip to Techtopia to visit her great-aunt’s third husband’s second cousin removed, Waffles came across the opportunity to learn more about social networking. Due to the fact that Waffles was not a Techtopian, she was unable to fully embrace all the facets of social media. Fortunately, Waffles’ estranged relative was! This allowed Waffles access to many of Techtopia’s insider information, so long as she completed some other tasks.

Decision Tree

Or at least, my attempt at one. Considering that most decision trees usually look like actual trees, I thought might could be more abstract but still bearing the main aspects of the decision tree – which is to allow you to make decisions across the duration of the game.

Navigating the game, basically requires you to decide whether you want to veer more to being opinionated or cultured at that point in time. Following the clues will lead you to a QR code that will take you to a social networking website that is geared towards a certain hobby or interest. Tweeting your progress allows others to identify with your decisions and track whether you have joined the same sites.

[NOTE: CODES ARE NOT UP YET. THIS POST WILL CHANGE TO INFORM YOU THAT THEY ARE UP, WHEN THEY ARE UP:)]

Don’t know what a QR code is? See previous blog post for a picture of one. What you do is you download an App (Just search ‘QR code’ in App store or Google Play or whatever you have), scan the code and it redirects you to a website. FULLY SICK, BRO. And yeah.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Location revelation

Here is a recount of one of the silliest things I’ve done during my first semester at Uni.

It was a relatively sunny day following what was a considerably stormy night. I remember that it was a Wednesday because that’s the day that RUSU (The RMIT Student Union) has their ‘Chill ‘n’ Grill.’ I had planned to meet my friend, Huy Hoang so that we could chill by the grill. We had planned to rendezvous at an area I am known to believe is currently unnamed, that spacious synthetic grassy place with the huge pebble-y chess board. My class finished an hour or two before his so I was just sitting alone in the grass surfing the internet. About half an hour later, the smell of sausages beckoned me. I put my laptop away and just as I was about to stand up, I realised the warmth I thought I had accumulated just from sitting in one place for too long, stayed with me as I ascended. I stuck my palm to my face, groaned, and sat back down. The rain from the night before hadn’t dried out from under the grass since the night before. I texted a different friend of mine, Andy,  in an attempt to share my frustration and elicit some sympathy. Instead I was told to salvage my ‘JAFFY’ (‘just another f***ing first year’) moment. About half an hour later, Huy Hoang showed up and began to guffaw. Eventually he let me borrow his jacket to tie around my waist. Fortunately I didn’t have to do so because wearing it normally was long enough to cover what had been a ridiculous mistake on my part. Stupidity aside, I was very pleased that I have a wonderfully considerate friend like Huy Hoang.

Let me create a paradox by including the QR code that leads you to this very post. Relish as you will. It is placed in the location I was sitting and as I was taking this picture, I saw a lot of people sitting on the grass. Naturally, I was secretly wishing for last night’s rain to be as evil as them as it was to me but I’d like to think that I’m not really that sadistic.

You probably can’t see or scan that so here’s one that’s easier to look at:

Well I hope you enjoyed this silly, overdramatised story of me being an idiot.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Goldilocks and the three-headed dog lollipops

With the rise of what has been dubbed ‘Web 2.0,’ there is now a widespread amount of interaction through the use of the internet. Of course there are easier ways of doing this, like being an editor on Wikipedia… As long as you know enough information. There have also been an increasing number of ways to do so through use of multimedia. Through the use of media such as video, and through outlets such as YouTube and Vimeo as well as any other way to embed videos on webpages and converse with people, everything is so much more accessible. ‘Digital storytelling’ utilises this development in technology, encouraging people to collaborate by using the internet as a tool.

Let me offer you some examples, with commentarial feedback.

1. Take This Lollipop

This is a very confronting video showing how easy it is for people to access the information you have on your Facebook page. I was really suspicious at first and I didn’t use my real account, but a fake one my friend and I had made when we were 14 for gaming purposes. Anyway, to ‘take the lollipop’ you have to give the site access to your information and friends list. It shows all of these details in a video that depicts a creepy hacker dude in a basement who uses any information you included about your whereabouts to find you. It actually shows Google Maps of where you may have indicated that you are. Didn’t make sense for the fake account though. Neither of my friend and I have been to Ringwood, and if either of us was, I really don’t think we would be using this fake account to play games.
All in all, I think that it was a very inventive way of utilising participation. The fact that the user has to allow for the information to be used, already emphasises how easy it is for a website to fool someone into thinking something is safe. It really hits home what people can be capable of. I like the use of establishing shots and how emphatic the hacker’s face was. It was good that the hacking seemed so effortless. The music and the lighting also helped to portray the hacker as being sinister. I also think the progression of the story was very clear. From scrolling down the Facebook page to going onto Google Maps, it is a really obvious set of movements and lets the audience know exactly where the hacker is headed. For me, there were no weaknesses in this story. None at all. I mean, they’re using Facebook to advertise that Facebook is dangerous, by using settings from your Facebook account. The message is clear and the story is obvious in its attempt to convey this message.

2. Pottermore

I had ‘liked’ the Harry Potter page on Facebook and for a while they were posting a lot about something called ‘Pottermore.’ Clicking on the link took you to a site with a countdown and owls flying everywhere. It was all very mysterious and wondrous. What it is, is basically an online version of the book but with extra elements of fun! Yay! As well as including extra text and thoughts from J. K. Rowling, it also has being able to experience the story as a journey with Harry Potter himself. From collecting currency and house points, to brewing potions and casting spells, the ‘reader’ can essentially live the books. Considering the fact that this was released a significant amount of time after the last instalment of the series, it is a good way to reprise the popularity. I would consider this a more Web 2.0 version of the series, making it more appealing to younger audiences. Taking in elements of gaming as well as fantasy, it allows young people to also enjoy reading. The biggest audience of Harry Potter would now be in their 20s and possibly 30s, seeing as the first book was released in 1997. It is also a good way to make more money, utilising this new technology of e-books but with fun! The only negative is the possible takeover of e-books. It probably won’t end up being a big problem, buuuuut considering the fun bits of Pottermore, all other e-books are preeettty borrrring.
Overall, it seems that all that Pottermore is, is a different medium for the same story but with the incorporation of fun and exclusivity. Not being an avid reader myself, I would wonder how dedicated a Potter fan would have to be to already own all the books, but still pay again for this experience. I would also wonder if people would purchase the online story with little to no knowledge of the story, that is the new target market of young teens. I guess I’m just kinda iffy about how popular it could be if you take all of these variables into account.

3. Goldilocks

A series of videos filmed entirely on Apple‘s iPhone 4 and iPod, Goldilocks’ first episode features the demise of two of what I would assume are the central characters. There is no dialogue until the very end, but a lot of dramatic music as well as quick cuts and use of a fish-eye lens. I must be a bit late, seeing as so many of the episodes were already released onto Vimeo. Buuuuut, I have gathered as much to have concluded that by downloading the App, as suggested at the very end of the video, would allow the viewer to “be the first to see what happens next.” This element of exclusivity is a very new concept. The fact that you can be one of the first to see something because you have access to a specific type of technology, is an idea that stems from the use of several types of technologies. I don’t know anyone who uses Vimeo much but, the invitation to use your phone to be involved in a more personal way. What I mean is that, phones are much more personal than any other type of technology we would use on a daily basis. Being downloaded as an App has perks for the supplier as well as the downloader. They can use it to track information on the phone or device that it is downloaded onto as well as send alerts to the owner. By giving an incentive to downloading the App, this team has inadvertently asked for information and permission to be annoying, without actually having to be straight forward about their intentions.
I guess I would say that the strengths would be that there is a secret marketing tool but the weakness is that it’s probably illegal in some minuscule way. But otherwise, it is an interesting perk of having the App and it works as a semi-marketing-esque way of becoming well-known. This of course, all takes out of consideration, the fact that it is a pretty interesting story so far. The story itself is interesting as there are very obvious loose ends and it’s progression lies solely on whether you as the viewer chooses to download the App or wait for the episode’s eventual release on Vimeo.

4. Away We Happened

American phone company AT&T together with YouTube filmmakers, Wong Fu Productions created a webseries called “Away We Happened.” The series relies on the participation of viewers and a voting system. After filming the first episode and including some uncertainties and/or cliffhangers, the voting was open for a few days before filming commenced for the next episode, with six episodes in total. The story progresses as a direct result of what the majority of viewers have voted for. While the decisions are ultimately up to the filmmaking team, it is a very active use of newer technologies, including YouTube as a way to circulate and attract viewers. While YouTube itself can be a digital storytelling medium, this inclusion of viewer input takes it to a whole other level of storytelling. It is no longer completely dependent on the writer. It also builds some sense of rapport between the two parties’ input. It allows the viewers to feel involved and leads to higher willingness for audiences to want to participate and to want to view the next.
So, it really is just a good way of both getting ideas and maintaining a relationship online. Giving the audience some sense of control also gives the audience as a whole, almost an equal-ish contribution. This form of collaboration is essential to the ideal of how digital stories are produced. Entertainment for the people, with the people, by the people! The only problem I can see with this specific example is that considering the conventions of the love story it is telling, people will usually sway a certain way  in voting to achieve an outcome that will climax and end at certain points with certain situations being explored or ignored. Other than conforming, I think this is a pretty inventive way of being lazy in terms of story writing but proactive in terms of production time.

As you can see, digital storytelling is a very powerful medium. Not only does it incorporate elements that appeal to all types of audiences, allowing for all kinds of interaction and collaboration. Using media like film makes the story more visual and despite removing some aspects of imagination, allow for a different type of imagination that also includes the consideration for sound and the progression of the story. E’erbody workin’ in unity, bro. Making use of the technologies available to us to tell stories that are there to interest and entertain us and to teach us lessons. Oh, the magic of technology, how your progress has changed the way we tell stories.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

E-Z reading

They added an ‘e’ in front of ‘mail’ for the creation of ‘e-mail’ as in ‘electronic mail.’ And so this is how I automatically realised what e-books are. What I have come to realise is that anything that has been made to be electronic, is done so to extend a sense of convenience. Most all technology is based on the idea of improvement and making things easier.

E-books are essentially versions of a book that can be read on forms of technology. Although, I know that a lot of people end up veering towards reading books on their iPads anyway. They can be bought and downloaded, even onto computers as pdf files. So, it is obviously super easy to transport! All the books stored in one place. No pages, or actual covers. It also costs less per book. I suppose if you buy enough books, it evens out the cost of the actual device you’re using… Until it runs out of battery.

So you can see that there has been some debate over what’s better. Actual books or e-books… Well, I for one am not really a fan of any kinds of books. I’m not much of a reader. There’s something about huge chunks of words that make me sleepy beyond compare. But you know what? Even I prefer normal hard-cover or paperbacks. The screen glare would make me even more tired and it’s so annoying to recharge things. These books are even cheaper now since the introduction of e-books. I’ve even heard that some people just like the touch and smell of books. They must be pretty avid readers.

E-Books

Pros Cons
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Easy to read
  • Transportable
  • More expensive overall
  • Can run out of battery
  • Screen glare

Books

Pros Cons
  • Cheap
  • No eye strain
  • Store everywhere
  • Lots together are heavy
  • Uses lots of paper

For me, books win for sure but as technology progresses, there’s really no telling how far this will go. So many book stores have closed down and the ones that are left are selling books for more than 50% off. The convenience of e-books are too powerful. From the easy access to the transportability, its place in contemporary mediascape is becoming increasingly dominant.

-insert clever signoff- Christine