Polka and Mocha

[WARNING: Long post ahead]

For my digital story, I chose to make an online story book with my main characters being a couple of eggs cooked sunny-side up. Initially I had considered using Storybird  but I found the structure and process to static and I wanted to be in control of more of the changes. I had also considered simply putting the pictures onto my Facebook or Twitter but using either of those as the main way of publishing would give me zero reach so I decided instead to use them for marketing. I’ve been using Tumblr and uploading silly drawings of mine, for 4ish months now and I thought I could use my existing account to utilise what I had hoped would be the loyalty of my Tumblr followers. I didn’t have high expectations though.

Production and Design

I’d like to think I’m pretty above average at drawing stick figures. In mid-August I had posted a picture to Tumblr based on the fact that ‘yolk’ rhymes with ‘folk.’ My enjoyment of my own silly rhyme lead me to choose these as my main characters and to decide that my story would be told in rhymes. I also thought that simply doing still pictures would be too boring and ordinary so I decided to animate gifs on Photoshop – also another way to appeal to kids.

I did attempt to take onboard the advice of the guest lecturer. So, I tried to be as colourful as possible to appeal to children but without making the colours too overpowering and also picking a neutral and suitable background colour. I also kept the layout very conventional  and the text was kept under ten words per line so that it would be easy to read.

Marketing and Dissemination

To market my digital story, I used Facebook and Twitter (follow these links to see the Yolk Folk pages and posts).

My target market for my initial story was 5 to 7 year old kids but it didn’t make sense because I would be marketing online. Hopefully, kids that age aren’t using Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr, although I know there are children writers on Storybird. In any case, I tried to encourage anyone who saw my posts to show kids they knew but I’m not sure that worked. I made a new Facebook page but kept my own Twitter account because I won’t be able to reach anyone on Twitter without followers buuuuut no one really responded or reacted on Twitter anyway. Facebook seemed to work better but it was only my friends my friends of friends responded to that but I did like that I could spread the word easily. What ended up working best was simply tagging my post on Tumblr was enough to get some attention.

And without further ado, here is the link to the Tumblr post.

You might notice that my name is everywhere. Something I’ve learned since using Tumblr is that you should always make sure your stuff can be attributed to you. I highly doubt anyone will want to claim my stuff as theirs but better safe than sorry!

I’m thinking I might do a second. In the meantime, enjoy!

-insert clever signoff- Christine

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

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

Apple-lications

Two years and a thousand falls later (no kidding), mum finally let me get a new phone. My trusty old Nokia was probably one of the brand’s very first “smart phones.” This just means it was utterly horrific with the most basic of smart phone functions and a sluggish touch screen. During those two years, I did play relentlessly on iPhones and iPods of my friends and family.

So anyway, boring sob story aside, I got a Samsung phone with some outstanding Android functions. It’s very obvious that with its dominance of the market, Apple is undoubtedly the more popular supplier to Applications, these thingos on your phone that can be games or services. My phone even came with some Apps already installed; mainly ones that related to the phone provider. For me, it was ones like ‘My Optus’ and ‘Optus Zoo.’ These actually came in handy, but aside from these, almost, mandatory Apps, once I figured out how to connect to WiFi, I went on a downloading spree! And that was when I realised how important Apps have become in everyday life.

From timetable and planning Apps, to games, to GPS, to social networking Apps and reference Apps, there is no end to what Apps can help you with. BUT THEN, you have Apps like the one from Hungry Jack’s. Now, to my understanding, this is only for Apple users, but what you do is, you access the App, check-in to that specific restaurant on Facebook, shake the phone, and you get free food! This is crazy! The marketing opportunities you can get from just having a useful App with perks is freaking fantastic. And so all these companies are now releasing Apps; some celebrities even have one. From Pizza Hut to Britney Spears, there’s no end to how people are choosing to market themselves and give updates to their fans/followers/customers.

Pros Cons
  • Marketing options
  • Super convenient
  • Boredom buster
  • Extreme time consumption
  • Over-reliance on technology
  • Lack of actual human interaction

There is so much importance held in the use of smart phones. If you walked onto a train carriage, I can guarantee you that 90% of people in that carriage who are either staring directly into the brightly lit screens of their smart phones or hooked with their iPod earphones. But you know what? I love ’em and for now, I’m super obsessed with Apps called ‘Timetable’ and ‘Bubble Shoot.’ If you have a smart phone, regardless of phone type, you can use ‘What’s App’ or ‘Viber’ to call or text for free! As long as you have WiFi. Awesome.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Trains

Oh Google, how I love you. I love you and your fabulous engine. Your engine that has nothing at all to do with trains. I hate trains.

When I was in primary school (and I’d like to think that that really wasn’t very long ago), they forced us to do, I’d say about a million research projects. From Tasmanian Devils to Italy, there were endless amounts of information we were told to look up. Naturally, everyone flocked to Google but we were also encouraged to use alternative search engines such as KidCyber and AskJeeves (Now, just ‘Ask‘). Who would’ve thought that websites like this wouldn’t even exist if not for predecessors like Yahoo! and Excite. These two, were in fact the first two search engines. Ever. Yahoo! sorted all websites by category, as many as its two creators could find. Excite didn’t, but if you looked at it now, you’d think differently.

Yahoo! and Excite were neck and neck in terms of users and then along came Google. No one was really interested in Search at all and from what I learned from this documentary, it didn’t even matter that they were in the most prime place for technological development, it took a while for the Google guys to get off the ground. Losing more and more money, Google, couldn’t decide if they should just have ads. Eventually they chose to use these ads to the advantage. Not only were they getting revenue from these companies, they also devised a plan to track people’s search results to provide them with more relative ads. Creepy but useful, but still very creepy.

And so began the journey of my beloved Google becoming the fantastical search engine and online giant that it is today.

Here’s how I see it, it was inevitable that someone, well some tech genius, would come up with a convenient way of browsing the internet. Google just did it best. And if you think about it, how did people even find websites before Google? Or any search engine for that matter. Did they rely on website that were advertised to them on the street? On TV? On the radio? In billboards and on bus shelters? Did they type in random web addresses hoping something would come up? Well maybe. But according to this, it really just depended on what was available to them, what they were capable of doing and whether they chose to do it. At least, that’s what I got from it.

-insert clever signoff- Christine

Ultimate destruction

My cousin told me the other day about what a tyrant Steve Jobs was before he died and how so many people were coming out to talk about how he had been mistreating them as well as how the only nice thing people seemed to be able to say about him was that he managed to change the world technologically. That super long sentence aside, I thought it was sad that there were people in the world mouthing off about him after he had passed and I kinda didn’t really believe that he could be that bad.

A fun fact that I’d always enjoyed was that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were actually friends. Insane rivals, but friends nonetheless. Anyway, that’s just going way off track.

After watching this documentary, ‘Browser Wars,’ I really feel like whipping out the ol’ Nintendo and playing some Super Mario Brothers so I can defeat Bowser. I also think that if Steve Jobs was at all as ruthless as Bill Gates, then he most certainly was a tyrant. I guess since this uprising of Apple products, no one really pays attention to Bill Gates anymore. The attempts that Microsoft makes to keep up with Apple is kinda sad. I highly doubt that Apple will ever come close to an untimely demise like Netscape did, especially not at the hands of Microsoft. Microsoft is still a force to be reckoned with but as Apple‘s rapidly growing popularity, who’s to say Microsoft isn’t doomed? I’m kidding, I know some very avid PC lovers, and this is just this silly opinion of a very non-tech-savvy kid anyway.

I suppose that it’s due to the fact that he’s now so philanthropic now that no one really remembers to cares to remember that he was a crazy slave-driver. Keeping an eagle-eye watch on Netscape‘s activity and making sure to outdo them at every opportunity, shouting degrading remarks at his employees when they couldn’t code the way he wanted them to. I mean, they were the best of the best and if Bill Gates still didn’t like what they were producing, he’s got sky-high expectations.

The issue was that Microsoft was basically stalking Netscape‘s ideas and it was pretty much considered illegal. They had identified Bill Gates’ intense desire to take down Netscape because Bill Gates was all like “KAPOW” and  Netscape was like “Oh no! Leave us alone!” Naturally, the US government stepped in and charged him, because you know, that’s what governments are for, breaking up feuds between major companies.

I’d like to think that Microsoft would’ve released their browser anyway… Eventually. They were just a lot more motivated to get it done faster and better because Netscape managed to do it first. I mean, Netscape did come out of the blue. Bill Gates can’t help that he was blindsided by some College students and taunted by their success.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know what Netscape was until I watched this video. I knew the logo (and was very proud that I spotted it in The Logo Quiz App on iPhone) and the brand name but I had no idea what they did. So this was definitely an eye-opener.

I almost feel sorry for Microsoft at this point, no one even uses Internet Explorer anymore. Well, not many and I’m pretty sure most of the people who do are not tech-savvy and are using it because it’s the default browser on their PC. IE is so incredibly slow and I almost feel stupid for not transferring my allegiance sooner. You should know by now that I have an undying love for Google and I especially love, love, love Google Chrome. In fact, I’m so attuned to its functions that I get confused when I use Firefox or Safari. Up your game, Microsoft. IE is terrible. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

-insert clever signoff- Christine