My youngest son (age 11) was watching an episode of Futurama a few weeks ago. In it, Richard Nixon (with his head in a jar) is talking to a crowd of people, about building a wall to keep space aliens out. A light when on in my son’s head. He remembered all the hoopla about Donald Trump building a wall.
So, he started to plan out this idea of a political remix, of meshing Trump’s call for a wall on the border with Mexico with Head-in-Jar Nixon’s call for a wall in outer space. I helped him get the videos he wanted to use but he knows enough about iMovie now to do the editing and mixing himself. I was mostly hands-off.
The result? Pretty cool political remix, I think, for an eleven-year-old kid who understood that he could make political commentary with pop culture elements. Of course, I am biased. He’s my kid. You’ll have to watch and see what you think.
The theme of this week at Letters to the President is all about spoken poetry. I can’t seem to shake the metaphor of the “walls” going up and wanted to try to counter that image. What if the walls came down and we build something new out of the rubble? (After I wrote the poem and made the digital piece — using the Adobe Spark app, if you are curious — I thought about the vote in Britain. So maybe tearing things down to rubble isn’t always the best political option.)
This second Make Cycle of this summer’s Letters to the President 2.o project (which invites teachers to make and remix all summer) is focused on art and remix of visual messaging. They give some suggestions for how to dip into the waters, but I used a DS106 Daily Create idea from the other day (around remixing old paperback novel covers) and then decided to use a Flowchart diagram as art canvas.
First, the book cover design. I took the book, A Bridge Too Far, and used its cover to make a point about the Digital Gap that still exists in many schools and community. These issues of access and equity are at the forefront of discussions at our local writing project, and are embedded into our mission statement. (I used the online PicMonkey to layer images and texts, in case you are wondering, and in case you want to try it yourself).
The Flowchart diagram is my attempt at making a political statement in a sort of artistic way. My political stance is probably pretty clearly stated, although I did not feel the need to name the candidate. You can figure it out. Instead of a direct critique, I wanted to explore the ebb and flow of the candidacy. (I used a program I have called Simple Diagrams to make the chart.)
As part of Letters to the Next President 2.0, we are being asked to annotate articles about the political sphere. The organizers suggest Hypothesis, which I already regularly use. Hypothesis is a web-based annotation tool. You can use the bookmarklet that you can install right in your browser (that’s what I do) or use direct links (see my invite below).
I was curious about how technology is changing politics, and dug out this article: Three Ways The Internet Has Changed Political Campaigns, and dug into it as best as I could. It’s short and I invite you to come annotate with me. That’s the beauty of crowd annotation — we can all dig into the same articles together.
The idea behind a public annotation activity is to get all of our voices into the mix. This summer’s Letters to the Next President seems to be designed to allow teachers to play and remix and use the tools, in hopes of discovering some ways to engage their own students in the fall when Clinton vs. Trump becomes loud and overwhelming.
Note: Hypothesis also collects annotations around common tags, so if you want to see/read all annotations on all articles with the #2nextprez tag, you can do that.
I continue to play around with graphs and data in order to make fun of the political season. This is all loosely connected to the Letters to the Next President 2.0 initiative underway this summer. My aim is to make fun of the politics and also, to show in a visual way what I see when I read the news and headlines.
Needless to say, there is no data there. Not even one iota of data to back up any of this.
All this talk of presidential politics and writing Letters to the Next President had me revisiting a song of mine called Woody Guthrie Lives Inside of Me. I had recorded this song a few months ago as a Corner Concert (where I turn the camera on and just sing a song), so I took that audio file from the video and used it in a Zeega for a multimedia project.
I aimed to celebrate the resurgence of Guthrie’s message, and to try to use Zeega layering for various images and movement. Some worked. Some didn’t. I also framed the Zeega as a multimedia letter itself.
In reality, the politics of Guthrie is “Left” of me these days (I am more Center, although where Center is these days seems less and less solid). Still, Guthrie’s notion of fairness and of advocacy, and of using music and song to connect and inspire action? That is something that has always stuck with me.
Special thanks to Terry for continuing to host Zeega for playing and tinkering and making.
I grabbed the template from the Make Cycle and tinkered with the wording (but kept the same image). If you hit the remix button, you can remix mine as another iteration. So, for example, my friend Michael created a poster that was a message about more localized politics in Arizona, and I remixed it with a larger message.
I like Thimble but wish you could easily embed or share the image of the page, once the coding is all set. Instead, you have to take screenshot or share the link out.
So, consider me intrigued … I just re-discovered the MediaBreaker tool by The Lamp as part of the Letters to the Next President campaign. MediaBreaker is like the old Popcorn Maker (I still miss you, Popcorn!) by Mozilla, in that you can layer media and text on top of video content. In this case, the idea is to make commentary on top of political videos.
I tested it out with a video from a Trump Supporter, and added some textual commentary as a counter propaganda move. I could not figure out how to publish/view the final edited MediaBreaker, nor how to create my own account in MediaBreaker itself (I did create a teacher account in its Studio). I did hit the “submit” button, so maybe it gets processed and reviewed before becoming public (I think that is the case). The MediaBreaker YouTube channel is here.
Ideally, the site would allow me to save and then kick out an embed code for sharing. But it doesn’t seem to do that. So, not only did I just lose all of my work (ack), I can’t share with anyone outside of MediaBreaker what I was doing. This may be intentional — a way to keep student work behind a “wall.” (Students have to be 14 years old or older to use MediaBreaker so that counts my students out).
I like the possibilities of MediaBreaker, but it still feels a little funky and clunky to use. You have to download a video to your computer and then upload it into the editing tool. I am not sure if students can upload their own videos, or if they can only use what the teacher has uploaded. I wish the video being used could be native to the Web itself, as folks with slow Internet speeds will be left out of the remix possibilities.