Monday, April 29, 2013

Final New Media Thoughts

This blog has been a great tool for me in learning how to write and consume new media, though it is only one of several different mediums I experimented with throughout the course of this semester. Particularly durring the first section of this class, this blog was a point to come back to as we moved through different new media platforms. I had or created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace and worked with them for this class, but Blogger was something that I used consistently and frequently throughout this class. It was great to be able to link to and from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube with the blog as I wrote about the ways they shape new media.

By using both this blog and the class wiki to record thoughts and information related to class, I'm able to compare the advantages of both in a classroom format like this one. I preferred the blog durring the first half of the class while we discussed Levinson's book, and I preferred the wiki while we discussed Jenkins' book. Each medium had advantages for the type of writing I was doing. Levinson's book discussed areas of new "new" media that I was already familiar with, and most of my writing detailed my own experiences with things like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, ect. The blog format allowed me to structure my reflections  based on what those experiences were and seemed more appropriate for writing largely about myself and my thoughts. I still referenced Levinson frequently, but I had more personal input to add. For Jenkins' book, I had less experience with the topics he explores. While he uses some examples I am familiar with, like Harry Potter, Convergence Point focuses much more on critical analysis about how new media functions in society. When I wrote about his book, I focused on the points he brings up in the text to support his conclusions. The class wiki was a very good illustration of collective intelligence, a concept he discusses in depth. Having different students do closer readings of the text and write about them gave the entire class more insight into the chapter. Writing about American Idol on the wiki was different than what I would have written in a blog post about American Idol. With the wiki, I wrote in a way that presented Jenkins' concepts as clearly and accurately as I could, so my classmates could have a better understanding. The tone was more formal  for an academic audience. On the blog, I focused more on creativity, personality, and reader interest. For me, the blog was a better way to explore my own ideas, and the wiki was a better way to dig deeper on the authors' ideas.

I enjoyed and preferred writing for the blog, and I thought I made good use of it throughout the course of the semester. I published posts for all of the assigned prompts, and I wrote a couple additional posts related to new media and class discussion. I also experimented with personal blogging when we were away for Spring Break. I'd never considered doing a personal blog, but I found that when I have ideas to write about, whether class prompts or travel experiences, it is actually very easy to do.

Overall, I really enjoyed this blog and this class.
Peace out, girl scouts!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The World of Harry Potter

We didn't get to the chapter about Harry Potter in our English for New Media class discussions, but the Harry Potter universe is the fictional world that I am most familiar with. In class, we looked at the ways stories like Star Wars, Star Trek, and the Matrix expanded beyond their original medium into huge trans-media stories built by fans or the stories' producers. Since we didn't get a change to look at the Harry Potter word, I want to examine some of the different stories and mediums I know of as a fan of the book series.

  • The Harry Potter world starts with J.K. Rowling, and everyone is aware of the overwhelmingly popular seven-novel series. In addition, Rowling has written three short companion books and one short story prequel, all for charity.
  • Based on the seven books, Warner Brothers created an eight film adaption of the series, with significant input from Rowling.
  • At Universal Studio's Island of Adventure, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter recreates settings based on the novels and films. Both the film producers and Rowling were involved in creating a world that was consistant with the books and movies.
  • Fans have created a music genre called Wizard Rock where artists preform only songs based on the Harry Potter universe. At one point, I owned CDs by the bands "Harry and the Potters" and "Draco and the Malfoys."

I realize this list only skims the surface of what is available to Harry Potter fans and what has been created by them. I only included things that I had personal experience with as a Harry Potter fan. I know there are countless websites devoted to Harry Potter fandom and fanfiction. When I was growing up, I wasn't very aware or interested in any of that, but I did love dressing up for the book and movie premiers, and I was able to go to Harry Potter world durring my senior spring break.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Live From the TC: My first podcast

Check out (or don't) this very embarrassing St. Patricks Day podcast by me and my friend. It sounds really rough, but I promise we actually did this take quite a few times. Hearing our voices makes us giggle too much. 

If anyone knows how to actually upload the file to the blog instead of linking it, I would really appreciate some help.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Paper Is Not Dead

For everyone who is holding out on the paperless revolution, this video is for you. My dad sent me this yesterday, and I think he did find the one area where real paper has the advantage over anything else.

Check out the video on vimeo.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Smaller Potatoes

In class today we are talking about some of the less popular new new media platforms. Levinson calls these sites "smaller potatoes" and includes Myspace, Reddit, Digg, and Second Life, as well as podcasts in the category. This blog posts is basically just my responses to class discussion questions about those sites.

What is your experience with Myspace?
When Myspace was popular, I was young enough that my parents regulated my computer access. They wouldn't let me have a Myspace account. I didn't know why, but I wasn't that interested anyway. I think that they probably saw news stories about the darker side of Myspace and didn't want me online for safety reasons. I didn't know about any of those things at the time. By the time I started using social media, Myspace had lost popularity and I just joined Facebook.

Any "cyberbullying" stories you are aware of?
I don't know that anything I see in my News Feed would be considered "cyberbullying." I went to a tiny school where making fun of our classmates was really common because we knew each other so well. Occasionally I have seen people post comments on Facebook that have gone to far. Picking on people in person when they are in on the joke is very different from typing a similar comment online where people can't hear the humor and don't know the relationship between the two parties.

What is your take on the Lori Drew/Meghan Meier story? Especially the result?
No doubt, Lori Drew is a really terrible person. That said, I don't think she should be held legally responsible for Meghan Meier's suicide. It is within a person's rights to create fictional identities online and it is within his rights to say something mean to someone when he is conversing with them. Drew did not appear to have a plan to cause a suicide, and those same words said to another person in a similar situation would likely not cause such an extreem response. I agree with the court's decision, but I hope that Drew feels the weight of what her actions did. I wish more parents would monitor what their children are doing online or make sure their children are mature enough to deal with strangers trying to form relationships with them online.

Levinson notes that the Truth on Earth band provided some "medicine" for "cyberbullying" on the internet. What's your take on that?
I think Levinson's argument is very week there. "Cyberbullying" and the song he mentioned may be linked by subject, but I don't see the song functioning as "medicine." For it to be medicine, the song would need to be functioning in a way that was impacting the same people affected by the bullying, and from what I can tell, the song had a very limited impact. The only thing the example illustrated is that the internet can present both problems and responses to those problems. It did not show a solution.

Are you aware of any stories of musical success on Myspace? Check to see whether some of your favorite bands have Myspace accounts. Choose one a check some other sites for their presence there. 
I listen almost exclusively to country music, and as far as I know, Myspace hasn't launched any major county stars. I looked up my favorite country artist, Eric Church, on the site and saw that he had a profile with a some songs. There wasn't much to it. I often listen to my Eric Church playlist on Pandora, but I don't know of any other popular music sites he can be found on. He's a more old-fashioned performer, and I'm not surprised that he doesn't have a large new new media presence.

Describe your use of Digg?
Non-existant. Why bother?

Same answer.

Any spare minute! I pin lots of things I never get around to trying offline.

How much social media contact did you have with the election of 2012?
I think everyone on Facebook can agree that the number of political posts last November came close to ruining the site for the weeks leading up to the election. I once browsed the Facebook page of the Presidential candidate I supported, but the comments on it were so hostile that I was turned off. I would "like" political statuses that I thought were well articulated, and I sent out one tweet after I voted ("Voted early. America's Comeback Team!"). Everything else I looked at about the election came from print, TV, and online news platforms.

Finally, have you ever used Second Life? Podcasting?
I have never used Second Life. It doesn't really appeal to me. I have listened to podcasts from iTunes by speakers that I like. I haven't heard any in at least a year though.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Books and Monuments

Library of Congress
Today is a very old media day. I finally got to visit the Library of Congress, but I'll admit I was a little disappointed at first. Apparently they don't just let random people come in off the street and smell their favorite books, which, naturally, was my plan for the morning. The books are separated from the public viewing area, but after I overcame my initial disappointment and started looking around, the Library of Congress is still one of my trip highlights. It's the most beautiful building I've seen here, and I was able to see the giant reading room through glass dividers. There was also an interesting exhibit about Thomas Jefferson's library. I didn't realize that his personal library was the basis for the Library of Congress collection after the first one burned down. The exhibit recreated his personal library. I couldn't open (or smell) the books because they were behind glass, but at that point I was thrilled just to see some books, especially ones that old.
Lincoln Memorial
After the library I met up with my family, and we walked around the Mall together. We started from the Washington Monument and worked our way through WWII, Lincoln (my favorite), Korean War, and Roosevelt. I would have liked to have made it all the way to the Jefferson Memorial on the water, but I saw his library and that will have to be enough for today.

Tonight I'm making the sacrifice and going to watch the Wizards/Bobcats game with my brother at the Verizon Center instead of finding Georgetown Cupcakes with the rest of our group. Yet, the more I think about it, if we find a Chipotle before the game, I'll probably come out with a much better night. Laters!
And the game ended up being a trip highlight...

Friday, March 8, 2013

The day I ate the world's best hamburger and also did other stuff

Guess who's back at Starbucks writing away? This girl! Confession: this is actually my 3rd (!) trip to Starbucks today. I'm guessing that's the only thing keeping me up wandering around instead of passed out in our suite like the rest of my weary family. We've been walking all around DC today.

Holocaust Museum
This morning we walked down to the Holocaust Museum and spent a few hours going through the main exhibit. It was by far the most well-done museum exhibit I've been through and a very moving experience. As I was passing through, the exhibit had all kinds of objects and recreations, print, audio, and video media, but the most touching element for me was a short booklet put together from survivors' stories. The museum set out about ten copies in a small glass room set off from the concentration camp section. Maybe it's just my bias for reading, but hearing their stories in their own words really brought the history to life. Everyone told us the Holocaust Museum was the one museum not to miss, and I'd give the same advice to anyone coming out this way.
DeAnn impressed with my appetite
After the museum, we took a break for lunch at the Hard Rock next to Ford's Theater. I don't want to brag, but I did finish an entire 10 oz. burger. I hate for this to overshadow the rest of the trip, but the concept of putting ranch AND guacamole, my two favorite things, on a hamburger is, in two words, Life Changing!
Lincoln Museum

After lunch we hit Ford's Theater. The basement now houses a small museum about Lincoln's life and the Civil War. I was especially interested after the movie Lincoln revived my interest in the President. (If you haven't seen the movie, go! Lincoln is such an interesting character, and the movie is well done in every way.) Across the street from Ford's Theater, you can walk through the house were Lincoln died. It's not as interesting, but there are a few more exhibits there about his assassination and legacy. My favorite element is a three level tower of works written about Lincoln.
Alexandria waterfront

Tonight, I'm looking forward to taking the Metro to Alexandria and walking down to the waterfront. Spring break is going way to fast already, so I better get moving. Laters!