When working with audio, its all about details. The volume, the effects, the fade-in/out, the combination of tracks and sounds, the intro/outro music. They are all building blocks to create an engaging and pleasant-sounding piece of audio. What this assignment challenged me to do was not only make something engaging and pleasant, but to also retell a story written in segments of 140 characters or less. Therein was my biggest challenge.
The original platform for telling the story did not allow for much detail (and the collaborative nature definitely led to some serious plot holes and continuity issues). To recreate the story on a platform that requires so much detail required me engage with the story differently than I had before. In order to capture nuance, I had to put myself in Ti’s shoes. For example, take a look at the first five sentences of the story:
Ti gingerly inserted the last key into the padlock hanging from the rusted hasp. It fit. She turned the key. With a loud click, the padlock disengaged and fell to the dusty floor. The door swung ajar with a heaving moan.
Right away, we know there are several sounds that will happen:
The key being put in the padlock
The key turning
The padlock opening and falling to the floor
The door opening
But I also had to consider the things that weren’t directly mentioned; the sounds that were implied and the sounds I would expect to hear if I were Ti, standing at this door with a key in my hand:
The ambiance of being outdoors (perhaps she is trying to unlock a front door)
What Ti is mumbling to herself (by this point, she is inserting “the last key”…there could have been many before and she could be frustrated or hopeful)
The sharp breath of surprise as a heavy padlock falls to the floor and the door opens
This list of implied sounds goes on and on: the footsteps, the breathing, the resonance of the voices in the empty room, the creepy ambiances of the room and the appearance of the ghost (and the change of ambiance as Ti goes back outside), the rustling of pulling a cellphone out of a pocket, the clicking of bicycle gears, the tone of Ti’s voice, and so on.
Searching for nuance in the original story called for a lot of imagination and creativity. I found myself understanding and engaging with this story in ways that I hadn’t before. Instead of passively reading, I was interacting and choosing how to make the story happen next.
As you may have realized after listening to my radio play, I added sounds and dialogue that are not necessarily mentioned in the original story. In the planning stages of this assignment, I debated between using a narrator and just using sounds and dialogue to get the point across. As you hear, I went with the latter…a decision I’m actually quite pleased with. After listening to my final product, I think a narrator would’ve gunked up such a short story.
Also, there would’ve been more potential for confusion if I had been the voice for both the characters and the narrator. One of my biggest worries was figuring out how to make the voice for Ti’s grandmother different (and ghostly) enough so as not to be confused with Ti.
My audio play was created using Audacity (which is available to download for free), with the final product hosted on SoundCloud. All of the sound effects I used came from YouTube’s Audio Library, which features thousands of free audio clips to use for creative projects. The song used for the intro/outro music is called “Arid Foothills” by Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.com, licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License.
Disclaimer: To ensure you’re able to view the following Auras, be sure to follow hdbarger on Aurasma!
The bulk of this assignment took place over Spring Break, when I traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time. I knew before I left that I wanted to create something related to travel – this trip happened to be a perfect opportunity. I wanted to document my journey, particularly because it would be a first-time experience for me. I suppose you could say that I knew the story I wished to tell before I even knew how to tell it.
Then, amidst a class discussion, Skip mentioned something about postcards. The light bulb came on.
My five days in Vegas were spent documenting everything, taking as many photos and videos as my camera memory card would allow. The sights and experiences that caught my attention informed the types of postcards I chose while scouring through countless souvenir shops. What I found when it came time to actually tell the story of my trip, is that I actually created several stories.
In a very broad sense, the Welcome to Las Vegas postcard is a summary of my trip. It represents an overview of the things that I saw and experienced as a first-timer to Vegas. At the same time, this is a story of virtual tourism. As a viewer, even if you have never been to Las Vegas, this Aura brings Las Vegas to you. Tapping an image makes it full screen. Extensive use of Hotspots along the edges of each Overlay means you can also scroll through each image without leaving full screen mode.
Bonus: This postcard plays Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas!
I took a different approach in making the Hoover Dam postcard, using star icons to create a sort of map. Unlike a map that merely diagrams physical features, this postcard uses augmented reality to demonstrate the view from each icon. That is, what you would see around you if you were physically standing on the stars. Tapping each star opens a different Overlay. For the image Overlays, I manually edited an “X” in the corner to create a visual for a Hotspot with a “stop” action.
The postcards for Fremont Street and the Flamingo Las Vegas began to take my story on a different path for several reasons. I began to stray from telling stories based on experiences that were uniquely mine. What’s more, I began to use overlays from outside sources. This is not to say that I was unhappy with my story as it unfolded in Vegas. There were just aspects of my own experience that I was not able to fully capture, whether it was because I simply lacked the means…or because I wasn’t allowed to hold my camera while zip lining.
The stories of Fremont and Flamingo were told in ways that could be considered helpful by a prospective first-time Las Vegas visitor. Fremont Street uses icons to launch videos that give small insights into the Fremont experience – the hustle and bustle, the lights, and of course, the ziplines. The Flamingo uses icons that instead focus on background aspects of this historic Las Vegas hotel, including a brief history lesson, a hotel map, and a glimpse of the hotel’s namesake.
Tapping an icon on either postcard will open the Overlay they represent, and close any other Overlay that is open.
Once again, here is a postcard that teeters between informational and personal experience. The fountains at The Bellagio were high on the list of things I wanted to see during my trip to Vegas. I was able to capture great footage of one of the afternoon shows, however, I wanted the augmented reality of this postcard to be more than just a video. While it would’ve told a story by itself, I also wished for more dimension. I wanted this postcard to be useful. So once more, I used icons.
Not only does this postcard display the world-renowned fountains in action, but it also provides background information as well as show dates/times directly from the Bellagio website. The story told by this postcard can now take my Augmented Reality and make it their own, true reality.
I’ll admit I struggled when first presented with the concept of Augmented Reality. Although I was privy to the creation and use of Quick Response (QR) codes before this assignment, I had never before thought of them as a tool – let alone a tool for telling stories! To me, they were just funny-looking squares on things like advertisements and ketchup bottles. They were images too easily over-looked if the purpose was not apparent or if no QR code scanner was available.
I found the same issues in working with Aurasma. Auras are not visible if you do not have the Aurasma app. Even if you do have the app, there are no defining features that let the viewer know they are looking at an Aura (although, you could make it part of your trigger image). So, what is the point?
What I found in completing this assignment is that Augmented Reality is term that encompasses stories told with the help of certain digital tools. Augmented Reality creates a method of enhancing digital stories – not just in how we tell them, but how we can interact with them and use (and re-purpose) them into our own stories.
Smith, K. (1999). Mental hygiene: Classroom films 1945-1970. New York: Blast Books.
Sullivan, N. (n.d.) Post-war american life: Culture of the late 1940s & 1950s. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/post-war-american-life-culture-of-the-late-1940s-1950s.html
The changing american family (2001). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/18/opinion/the-changing-american-family.html
“To hell with facts! We need stories!”
― Ken Kesey
Amidst the vast amount of reading and collecting I’ve done for writing this blog post, I wanted to first ask myself something:
From my own experiences, what do I know to be true about stories and storytelling?
Stories affect us. We find meanings in stories, whether it’s the storyteller’s intention or not—meanings that vary from person to person. We distinguish between “good stories” and “bad stories” — good stories are pleasant and hold our attention while bad stories boring and easily overlooked. Likewise, these labels are affected by personal preference. Stories can teach us something, pass along a message, make an important point, or purely entertain us. They even have the ability to touch us on a deep emotional level because they offer up certain emotions or situations we can relate to.
Storytelling is a form of communication. As far as we know, every human culture on earth tells stories in at least one way, shape, or form. Stories represent a significant role in how we are able communicate with one another. Storytelling has roots in our most basic human ability to encode and decode. It is one of the many ways we connect the things that happen around us and make sense of them.
Stories are everywhere, and we all tell them. I tell stories. You tell stories. Your mom’s twice-removed, great-uncle Ed tells stories. The one thing that pretty much all of us have in common is that we construct our own stories every day. These stories could be built from any number of things (people, places, objects, events, experiences, emotions, etc.), but it doesn’t negate the fact that we are telling them. If you have the means to communicate and the consciousness to experience things around you, then you have the ability to tell a story.
In fact, storytelling comes so naturally to us that often we don’t even realize we’re telling them.
“Storytelling…is as natural to human beings as opposable thumbs, as upright posture.” -Jonathan Gottschall, from Why We Tell Stories (2015).
So then what is a story?
If a narrative is a sequence of events that is connected by time and causality, then a story is simply a narrative with a purpose (Martin, 2011). Stories are taking the noise that happens around us all day, every day, and reconstituting and reorganizing it into an understandable format. Author Frank Rose calls stories “a signal within the noise” (2011).
To simplify things even further, Bryan Alexander recognizes that “[s]tories are assemblages, storytelling is a kind of scaling up” (2012).
These stories (read: sequences) can occur in many different orders. Some people like to call these “shapes.” In a short lecture recorded on YouTube, Kurt Vonnegut recognizes three of the simplest shapes as “Man in Hole,” “Boy Gets Girl,” and “The Most Popular Story in Western Civilization (a.k.a. Cinderella Story)” (Comberg, 2010).
I believe it’s important to consider the existence of many other shapes that stories can take—some far more complex than others, and perhaps some that haven’t even been thought of yet. But on the most basic level, every story has three things in common: a problem, a transformation, and a solution. These three things are what Jason Ohler calls The StoryCore (2012).
Now I have to ask myself, if all of these basic principles are applicable to what we consider “traditional storytelling,” then are they also true for digital storytelling? Absolutely. A story is still a story—a means of communication, a vehicle for generating understanding. Throughout thousands of years of humans telling stories, the one thing that has truly evolved has been the way we tell the stories (Sabia, 2011).
However, simply stating that digital storytelling is “telling stories with digital technologies” is the understatement of the century! (Alexander, 2012). Sure, we are telling stories and we are telling them on digital technologies, but there is so much more to consider.
For one, we must make distinctions between “analog” and digital storytelling.
As a general rule of thumb, Bryan Alexander presents us with two criteria to consider something as digital storytelling: 1) it must be “born digital,” and 2) it must “be published in a digital format” (p. 15, 2012). If anything, this makes me feel even more confused. If a book is written in Microsoft Word before it’s published as a physical book, couldn’t it be considered digital storytelling? What if that same book is delivered through a Kindle? Or what if I watch a movie on Netflix that was filmed using digital cinematography and is edited with computer-generated imagery (CGI)? When all is considered, this working definition of digital storytelling is actually a bit of a misnomer.
I’d rather recognize digital storytelling from a different perspective.
“The internet is the first medium that can act like all media — it can be text, or audio or video, or all of the above. It’s nonlinear, thanks to the world wide web and the revolutionary convention of hyperlinking. It’s inherently participatory — not just interactive, in the sense that it responds to your commands, but an instigator constantly encouraging you to comment, to contribute, to join in. And it is immersive — meaning that you can use it to drill down as deeply as you like about anything you want to know about.” -Frank Rose, from The Art of Immersion (2011)
Digital storytelling represents the complex and increasingly participatory ways in which stories are being told. The intrinsic values of traditional storytelling are still present, but modern storytellers are now able to use digital tools, resources, and platforms to present and reshape their stories on larger and deeper levels. Audiences—who are also storytellers—can effectively immerse themselves by working through multiple, overlapping, and nonlinear threads (Jenkins, 2010) and engage with these stories by “carv[ing] out a role for themselves”(Rose, 2011).
As we continue to create new technology, so too will we develop new methods of storytelling. This doesn’t nullify the storytelling that happens on other media, it merely creates new pathways for us to present our stories.
Alexander, B. (2011). The new digital storytelling: Creating narratives with new media. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
I have to admit that I was a little intimidated by this project. My classmates (most of whom are already teachers) have already made beautiful projects applicable to their classroom. However, I let myself get caught up on the fact that I work in education, and yet I’m not an educator. I kept asking myself “How am I going to do this?” I needed to be flexible as I work with faculty whose expertise ranges from Fisheries Technology to Health Information Management to Law Enforcement.
So, I decided to make a model and use a standard Humanities course as the guinea pig.
College Success Skills is a 100-level university course with students consisting of dual-enrolled high school seniors and college freshmen. It is designed to give a basic introduction/transition to higher level education for people who have no prior college experience. A perfect time to go over aspects of Digital Citizenship!
I started by making an infographic using Visme. I tried to keep it simple, colorful, and pretty much blank because I found a fancy-schmancy new website to make my infographic interactive called ThingLink. You’ll notice that if you click or hover over the icons, pop up bubbles appear. I was able to add text, photos, and links to articles and YouTube videos.
Because I do not actually teach this class, these icons serve as example assignments that could appear under each section. I tried to be as comprehensive as possible, using topics that are applicable to my target audience. The beautiful thing about ThingLink is that this infographic (or any infographic) can be personalized to fill the needs of any class.
What you many not know about me is that I’m a very nostalgic person. It can be both a blessing and curse, but in the case of learning about Digital Citizenship I’m lucky enough to say writing Part Two of our Not-S0-Final project has been a positive experience. In some ways, this reflection feels cathartic.
It has been a little over two months since we explored Digital Citizenship as Nousion-unit. Since then, I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible about what it means to be a Digital Citizen. It’s a little overwhelming to think how much we’ve learned in such a short time (and don’t even get me started on the fact that we learned all of it during the Summer).
I could’ve gone off on an all-text, barbaric-yawp of a reflection, but instead I chose to organize my thoughts in a mind map. It’s meant to display my thoughts about Digital Citizenship before (at the beginning of this class) and after (at the end of the semester). You can see my thoughts have grown substantially:
Digital Citizenship has grown from being a set of technology skills you learn in school to being an identity, complete with a complex set of skills and a cohesive way of life.
Obviously this is a very broad way to put it. It might not even make sense to you, and that’s fine! When it comes down to it though, having the skills to use technology are minuscule in importance compared to being a responsible and conscientious person both online and offline.
I think the big difference between digital citizenship and just plain ol’ citizenship (aside from technology, of course) is a deeper sense of awareness. We are connected and can build and represent ourselves in ways not tangible face-to-face, and yet in the same ways we also leave ourselves susceptible. As a digital citizen, it is that awareness that keeps us well-rounded. It is the awareness I’ve applied to my own work and play that keeps me open to growth.
I want to engage more online. I feel a sense of urgency to shape who I am and be mindful of how I do so. I also feel super aware of how my actions online may affect others and that I should be considerate of online accessibility issues.
In my own life, being a digital citizen is an on-going process (as it should be in yours, and everybody else’s!). Being a DC does not have a conclusion and does not have parameters for where and when is must be learned. It requires practice every day, and should be practiced everywhere.
Be mindful, be curious, don’t intentionally break the law, give credit where credit is due, keep your mind open, and if you create something do it with purpose.
I know it’s not Thursday yet, but it’s time for a Throwback (Nousion style)!
We’ve just focused on a Collection dedicated to all things ADA. It was great fun, but I felt it would be more fun to go back and examine intellectual property. Namely, my thoughts compared to those of Dan Ho and Sarah Frick.
In my own thoughts of Intellectual Property, I kept everything very vague and simplified. In fact, I don’t even think I answered whether or not I considered it a friend or a foe because I identified it as being “situation-dependent.” The main point of my argument was how the name was misleading and that it was important to examine the different types of IP to better understand different situations.
Unlike Sarah and myself, Dan had a pretty solid stance defending Intellectual Property as form of protection, but also recognized the validity of differing opinions. Both Dan and I give hypothetical examples of IP. Sarah and Dan both expressed interest in how IP related to culture, however, in hindsight both arguments were related but were talking about different aspects of culture (therefore it eludes an inherently right or wrong answer).