(For this month’s Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers, I am aiming to do Six Word Slices most days, with some extended slices on other days.)
Context: I wrote the other day about the ways my sixth graders were making design plans to create Interactive Fiction stories inside Google Slides. Since then, they have been working hard to bring the stories to fruition, and by yesterday, many were finishing up the writing and proofreading of their stories. I enjoy this time of reading the finished game/stories, after so much work with conferencing on narrative ideas and technical assistance.
You can read a few of their stories (It’s best to go full screen to experience the pieces … use the hyperlinks to move along the narrative choices):
This week, in Networked Narratives, the theme is on games and one of the challenges is to use audio to tell a story, and the audio should be game-themed. I decided to try to make a short song loop, with game sounds. No story except, there’s always a “game over” moment in a game.
By the way, if you want to join me in annotating the video hangout session that the NetNarr folks and guests did on the topic of gaming and learning, come into the Vialogues with me. I’m slow-watching it and adding comments off to the side.
I could not attend the online Google hangout the other day for Networked Narratives, which featured guests Amy Burvall and Michael Branson Smith on the art of the animated gif, and the possibility for expression with the social media photo formatting. My friend, Wendy, suggested on Twitter that we make gifs from the hangout video, and well, that sounded like a fine idea.
I did all of this within Giphy itself, which has stickers (which I keep forgetting about) and a drawing tool (ditto).
Here is the original video:
And then I went a little nutty. First, I found a neat shot of the Alan, Amy and Michael, and added … a few special guests to the hangout.
Original Patent: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/16972882
The folks over at Today’s Document surprise me now and then when they slip an animated gif into their RSS feed, usually in the form of an item about one of the patents in the Library of Congress. (They also will regularly convert video archive moments into animated gifs, but I find these illustration remixes to be the best to enjoy).
Original Patent: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6277655
I’m always fascinated by the old drawings in the patent applications, so the animated gif is another fun way to bring history alive. The animations are more whimsical than informative, to be frank. More entertainment, than educational.
Original patent: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/6858602
It’s still nice to know there is always a chance to inject some fun in the dusty archives of history.
And the Library of Congress itself even created a GIF to show the construction of its building. This is more educational than entertaining, showing the construction of a national treasure (which holds national treasures).
And finally, there are those out there in the wild world that take vintage photos and … well … spook them up a bit.
Created by Kevin Weir via http://fluxmachine.tumblr.com/
Over at Networked Narratives, the theme is now shifted into GIFs, and all the wacky things you can do with them. Alan’s assignment calls for a GIF storm of sorts in the #NetNarr hashtag, including GIFs that connect with the Digital Life underpinning and finding narrative points in the clip from the Western movie The Big Country to pull out as animated moments.
First, I went in to the clip and found the dramatic scene where the rider and horse are trotting away (later, the men will join the solo rider in a dramatic turn-around.) I use the Gif It add on for Chrome Browser, in case you are curious. The function gets built right into YouTube video viewer. Easy peasy.
Finally, this morning, a student in the NetNarr Universe had shared some time-lapse movie making, and I grabbed a gif out of Roj’s work, just to see what might happen when a time-lapse becomes a gif. It’s interesting.
Thanks to some sharing of an article by Wendy in Networked Narratives a few weeks ago, I stumbled on this 1990 film about where hypertext might be going, with novelist Douglas Adams.
The Internet Archive site explains a bit more about Hyperland:
In this one-hour documentary produced by the BBC in 1990, Douglas falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, examining (then) cuttting-edge research by the SF Multimedia Lab and NASA Ames research center, and encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson. Looking back now, it’s interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn’t: these days, no one’s heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super-high-tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted – for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web…
In a time when so many of us bemoan a seemingly apparent decline in writing and reading in young people, this video reminds us that maybe we are looking and observing in all the wrong places. Check it out. Candice Faktor shows us where and how young people are engaged in stories and fiction.
This is part of a cool video series I found that dovetails nicely with my thinking of how to use technology to transform writing and literacies. I’ll sharing out other videos in the coming days, too.
A group of us who are in the Wide and Wild Open Community of Networked Narratives decided we want to put into practice the elements of those networks and narratives with a collaborative transmedia project. Transmedia concepts involve various forms of digital media, and digital platforms, connected together into one larger story thread.
We’re calling this project “MediaJumpers”, and our tagline is “Every Object Tells a Story.”
We’re using the concept of the magical “Alchemy Lab” as the setting for the backbone of our narratives, and folks like you who join in will have their own digital art and stories connected inside elements of the lab. We’ve got a cool idea brewing in the background for how this might all work as a final project.
We hope the students in the Networked Narratives classes (Mia Zamora and Alan Levine are professors in the US and in Norway this semester, and Maha Bali will be joining in later from Egypt) as well as friends and collaborators from other networked spaces — like CLMOOC and DS106 and beyond — will join us.
We hope YOU will join us.
The first step is to play the invitation … then sign up at the form at the end of the game … the Master Alchemist will be in touch in the days ahead with further instructions (basically, create some digital work).
It’s going to be a blast! And the more, the merrier.
A Networked Narratives hangout last week with digital artist Emilio Vavarella provided some keen insights into how an artist might use digital tools and technology to make statements on the connected world. I popped the video of the interview into Vialogues so I could watch at my leisure and add comments/ questions/ observations as I went along.
Emilio has done some pretty interesting art endeavors and museum installations, including:
We’re exploring the art and act of Selfies in Networked Narratives, as Mia Zamora and Hannah Kelley are researching the impact of selfies and plan to curate a public art exhibit under the banner of #SelfieUnselfie in Norway. Both are on Fulbright Scholarships right now and focused on digital literacies (I think).
Take a look/listen to their project and their invitation:
True story: an hour after watching that video by Mia and Hannah and thinking about the idea of the Unselfie the other night, my wife and son and I sat down to watch an episode of the Modern Family sitcom, which opens with the parents berating the older daughter for laying around all day, taking selfies on her phone. (Later, we learn she’s been building a blogging site for fashion and making money of her images of herself and her fashion choices).
My 13-year-old son pointed to the television.
“That’s what the girls do,” he observed, “at school. All the time. Selfies, all day long. It’s annoying.”
Not boys, we asked?
“Some,” he admitted. “Not like the girls. It’s like they want their image everywhere.”
There are a lot of layers to the act of creating Selfies — from identity in the digital world, to capturing moments as memories, to connecting in social media with others, to artistic choices that get made (or not). More and more apps now help you “touch up” the Selfie, which seems at odds with its original intent to me (which might say more about me, as a middle aged white man, than many selfie takers.)
I went into my own Flickr account to search for “selfie” and only a few popped up. Either I haven’t done many, or I don’t save them. I suspect I don’t often think enough of the Selfie itself to put them into my Flickr for saving. Selfies seem more … momentary, temporary, fleeting. Interesting.
Some of these I found (like the eyeball image at the top) are from DS106 prompts, I realized. And a few are from an old webcomic site I used with my sixth grade students. In it, they would create avatars as representations of themselves.
Remember that year, those movie stars at the Oscars created that famous group selfie? Suddenly, everyone knew what a Selfie was.
I used that a visual prompt for students that year to create webcomic selfie collages. I did one, too. Some of the characters in here are avatars of friends from the Connected Learning MOOC and other social spaces.
And my students did their own Selfie collage activity, with friends avatars joining them.
The SelfieUnselfie project asks us to create an unselfie, so the other night, I did.
They also ask for an Artist Statement:
With my comic, I was trying to capture the idea that instead of us using our technology to capture an image of us as Selfie, it would instead be the reverse: our technology using us, on a Selfie Stick, to capture a representation of it for the world. Sort of like a cultural mirror. And of course, the devices wants to know how it will be perceived on social media.
Underlying the lightheartedness of this comic Unselfie is the real concern about technology driving our agency for us, instead of the other way around (us, making decisions with technology as a tool for expression), and how our devices seem to become a larger part of how we sculpt and curate our digital identities. Are we pushing boundaries or are we falling prey to our devices?