Show Me What You Know

If you watch the video, PLEASE be kind enough to leave me very harsh and critical feedback in the comments section. I cannot improve simply by getting feedback from my wife, who obviously thinks that this is a great video (thanks Sweetheart, I love you).

My professor (Joe) has given our class the task of creating a Media Asset that shows him what exactly it is that we know/have learned since the commencement of our graduate studies. I am assuming that he doesn’t really mean “Show me what you know . . . like, everything.” because I know a whole heck of a lot. Not as much as Emily . . . or Libby, or Michael, or Melissa, or Renee, Lisa . . .

Ok I’m going to stop with that list because I’m starting to get the feeling that I don’t really know that much more than anybody else. Anyway . . .

One among the many things I’m paying tens of thousands of dollars for in my graduate studies is the opportunity to have a Gi-nourmous digital playground to experiment in. And in those experiments, I have come across some activities that I particularly enjoy and have chosen to play with more and more. One of those things is creating/editing video, and another is creating/editing music.

Most, if not all of you, know that Michael Jackson was my favorite musician and entertainer. Some of you know that I always wished to take dance lessons and my parents could never afford it, so I finally decided to teach myself and part of that education involved coming home from school and popping in MJ’s videos and practicing for 1-2 hours a day. He has had a huge impact on my style of entertainment and performance, and long story short, I just can’t get over his genius. Besides listening to all of his songs in alphabetical order, I have been way to busy since his death to really delve into all of his contributions to Pop music, so I took this opportunity to do so.

I did not create this music, but I did edit it, in that I put some of my favorite songs of his into one big mix. I did not create these videos, but I did edit them to showcase some of my favorite videos of his. I won’t detail the order of the videos because there are 140 clips. I would like to explain only a few pieces of the music where what I’ve done isn’t obvious. The intro of the song combines the intros to “Is It Scary”, “Thriller”, and “Unbreakable”. I combined VanHalen’s guitar solo in “Beat It” with the chorus so they occur at the same time. At the end of the guitar solo, I brought in Slash’s introduction to “Why You Wanna Trip On Me” but I raised it a half step to put it in tune with the end of “Beat It” and the beginning of “Man in the Mirror.” The rest I think can be discerned by listening. To do this project I used the following programs (among others) in this order:

iTunes, Garageband ’08, Adobe Soundbooth CS4, iPhoto, iMovie ’08, Handbrake, MPEG Streamclip, iMovie HD, and Quicktime Pro.

Sources

Barron, S. (1983). Billie Jean. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Chilvers, C. (1988). Smooth criminal. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume II. DVD. Sony, 1998.

Garret, S. & Ballard, G. (1987). Man in the mirror. Bad. [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Giraldi, B. (1983). Beat it. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Jenkins, B. (1995). Carmina burana. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 1998.

Jackson, M. (1991). Who is it. Dangerous. [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Jackson, M. (1987). Another part of me. Bad. [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Jackson, M. (2001). Streetwalker Bad (Special edition). [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Jackson, M., Botrell, B. & Riley, T. (1991). Why you wanna trip on me. Dangerous. [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Jackson, M., Daniels, L., Jerkis III, F., Payne, N., Smith R., & Wallace, C. (2001). Unbreakable. Invincible. [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Jackson, M., Harris III, J. & Lewis, T. (1997). Is it scary. Blood on the dance floor: HIStory in the mix. [m4a]. New York: SBMG.

Jackson, M. & Jackson, J. (1980) Can you feel it. [Recorded by The Jacksons]. Triumph. [m4a]. New York: Epic.

Jackson, M. & Kellog, D. (1992). Jam. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, Dangerious – The short films. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Jackson, M., Riley, T., Gibson, T. & Henson, J. (2001). 2000 watts. Invincible. [m4a]. New York: Sony.

Landis, J. (1991). Black or white. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Landis, J. (1983). Thriller. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Pytka, J. (1987). The way you make me feel. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Remembering Michael Jackson [Online Images]. (n.d.). Retreived July 10, 2009, from http://gs0007.photobucket.com/groups/0007/JE638GEUUS/

Scorsese, M. (1987). Bad. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Singleton, J. (1987). Remember the time. [Music Video.] Michael Jackson, History on film, volume I. DVD. Sony, 2001.

Knock Knock (Chapter 2)

Jenkins’ second chapter in Convergence Culture reveals the history behind American Idol and the huge PR machine it really is. I have never watched American Idol because a.) I don’t have a TV and b.) I don’t like to hear people sing at the top of their lungs constantly, which I have noticed to be the case when hearing excerpts from the show played on the radio. Don’t people sing softly anymore? That’s one thing that MJ was killer good at. You know who else could sing softly really well was Karen Carpenter. Alas, digression . . .

Advertising has come along way since it started out with a goal to sell more product. I’m sure that at heart, all advertising will serve that purpose but it has evolved since then. According to Jenkins (and other sources I’ve read long ago and forgotten the names of), the goal of advertising now is to make you feel warm and fuzzy all over when you are confronted with a given brand name. “Coke! I remember that Coke used to sponsor American Idol. Man I loved that show! I’ll never forget that time when. . .” or “McDonalds! Man, my dad used to take me to Mickey D’s every Saturday to get the Big Breakfast. Man that was awesome! Sometimes he would even let me get a Danish! Dang I wish they still had those things . . .”

Being confronted with a successfully advertised brand will bring warm fuzzy feelings of nostalgia. Hopefully. You may have your occasional outliers who, you know, found a chicken head in their McNuggets, or something like that. Jenkins mentions that AT&T received a bit of backlash when people realized that American Idol was pretty much fixed from the onset (at which point I’m thinking, “Seriously people, did you really think you had a say? Why? Oh wait, the TV told you . . .”), but then AT&T got the iPhone and at that point Satan could have become their main spokesman and no one would have cared.

The main takeaway from this chapter was that Madison Ave realizes that most of us don’t really want to be advertised to. Or do we? Here comes the next move in the chess game between consumers and advertisers. “Well! We’ll just figure out some slick way to make you come to us!” and my how it has worked. Sure, we watched the Superbowl for it’s commercials, but that’s not what we’re talking about now. Jenkins references The Apprentice as the perfect incarnation of this strategy. Here, Donald Trump assigns the contestants the task of figuring out how to promote a real product, and the real product gets promoted before our very eyes! And this is the show, not the commercials. And we love it! Jenkins references a Proctor & Gamble exec who observed that not only was their toothpaste promoted on air, it was woven into the plot in such a way that the viewer actually ended up rooting for the new toothpaste for the sake of the contestants. Genius!

But is any of this really new? I suppose that Donald Trump has taken product placement to a whole new level but it has been around a while. Neither is it a new development for brands to seek to capture the consumers’ hearts. Disney has long been the master of this game. The Disney brand name has been invited into the homes of consumers for decades. They have protected the image of that brand name meticulously and few if any have anything other than those warm and fuzzy feelings associated with it. And their work has paid off to the point that now they have built quite an empire for themselves. (This is a list of the companies Disney has 100% of ownership of, in addition to being part owners/large share holders in GE, TiVo, a petroleum company, etc.)

Who else are you inviting in?

Sources

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.

The 4th Screen Video

Here is a video that my professor asked us to watch for our Media Asset Creation Class. I just finished watching it, so am still “marinating” on it (as my good friend, bass player John Turner would say about music that he hasn’t learned for my show yet).

I’m really not a Luddite at heart, I swear it. Still, I wonder where all of this technology is taking us. Many, while conceding that technology has had a tremendously positive benefit to all of us, have noticed the deleterious effect that technological advancements have had on the human race. None have put it so succinctly as Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, which should be required reading for all Seniors in high school and was one of the several reasons I decided to get rid of my TV (I’m not a Luddite though).

Postman blames technology, more than anything else, for people leaving their front porches and retreating to their fenced in backyards. The front porch represents communal living. Talking to people as they walk by. Building relationships with our neighbors. The backyard represents a heightened sense of individuality. A retreat from community into a self-focused vacuum. As the video above illuminates for us, TV happens to us in isolation, unlike the cinema. Sure TV has given us more fodder to toss out for conversation with those in our community, workplace, church, etc. Whereas we used to talk about little more than the weather, now we can talk about little more than the weather and [substitute your TV show of choice here]. But does anyone else get tired of talking about TV shows all the time? Isn’t there anything deeper?

A sad realization for my wife and I has been that, as non-partakers of the TV culture, we have little to add to public discourse. It’s like being shunned by 99% of society. I sit in the teachers lounge at school to eat my lunch . . .

“Did you see Lost last night?”

“No I didn’t,” I say. “Was it good”

“Heck yeah! What were you watching?”

“I wasn’t really watching anything, I guess.”

“Oh man, you should really watch it next week. It’s good.”

“Well, I don’t have a TV.”

[cue crickets]

“Good for you,” they lie.

Why is it that every person who knows my secret tells me I’m smart for not having a TV, but yet I’m the only one I know without one?

Every morning (seriously now, EVERY morning), my students come into my classroom to hang out before school starts. Without fail they talk about what they watched on TV last night. They don’t really talk to me about it because (after confirming with my wife that I was indeed telling the truth) they have gotten over the shock of me not having a TV. I often marvel that my students know more about the problems happening in far-off Africa than they do about the problems in their own town, county, or state for that matter. By “know” I guess I mean “are aware of” because, thanks to TV, none of my students (or coworkers) really understand the factors that have led to AIDS plaguing most of Africa. As Neil Postman points out,

“Television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information – misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information – information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.”

So here we are with the 4th screen. The iconic symbol of Web 2.0, if you will. Is it reversing the effects of the 3rd screen? In some ways, I think the answer is yes. Now I have the ability to bring real news into my computer instead of watching the drivel coming from any and all of the networks. The downside to this is that while I download real news, some are now downloading the drivel. So sad. We live in a world where the “tweet” of a teenager can spark a revolution. The “tweets” of an oppressed people can alert the world of voting fraud. How beautiful! We have democratized the news, and for that I say “Bravo.” The unfortunate thing is that to read those tweets, I have to momentarily ignore those sitting next to me on the train. To keep up with all of my friends blogs and facebook posts I have to take time from other things. It’s true that the 4th screen is making us feel more connected. But connected ≠ community.  I have a great online community, but who among them will come to water my flowers when I go out of town?  How about collect my mail, or invite me over for dinner, or watch out for my daughter when she’s old enough to run around the neighborhood?  We still need to develop relationships with those in our physical community.  If the 4th screen isn’t helping us do that, then I’m hoping the 5th screen will.

Sources

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.

Postman, N. (1985). Amusing ourselves to death: Public discourse in the age of show business. New York: Penguin Books.

Response to elWray @ Media Asset Creation

TUESDAY, JULY 7, 2009

Props Props for Everyonegroup

Some of the most amazing things to evolve during my 8 months in the EMDT program have been my relationships, both personal and professional, with my fellow students. I’ve enjoyed each challenge we’ve met and overcome through synergistic collaboration. And while everything hasn’t always been babies, butterfiles and rainbows, I can’t say I’ve had a bad experience working with this group. Every obstacle has been a chance to grow and learn.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how HARD it is to form a group each month. It’s difficult to balance the desire to stay with the friends you’ve made versus the desire to see what everyone else has to offer… It’s tricky! I almost wish there was some sort of revolving grouping system that randomly assigned us to groups each month, ensuring that we work with everyone at least once. There is so much to learn from the experience of working with new people.

That being said, I’d like to give a couple of shout-outs!

First, to all my EMDT colleagues… I hope this is just the beginning of our career networking. I’ve posted links to each of your blogs in the right-hand navigation menu. Show em what you got!

Second, to my group members this month…

Libby Perry – We’ve worked together many times over the course of the program! I am continually WOWed by the professionalism of your work and always so excited to see how you step it up each month. I know I can rely on you as a group member and as a friend.

Nick Briscoe – This is just the second time we’ve worked together, but I have again sought you out for your tremendous work ethic and candor. Striking up a friendship with you has been the easiest part of this program!

Abram Siegel – We’re long time comrades too! Ever since our Month 1 PB&J Project… Ahhh the PB&J song! There’s no denying your mad musical skillz and your generosity in sharing that gift with all of us. You know I think you’re rad.

Chris McHugh – This is our first time working together and I am more than excited about it! I have long admired your artistic contributions in previous courses and can’t wait to see how our similar tastes (remember Dr. Repp’s class???) translate into a group project.

Julia Mckinney – Last, but certainly not least. You have been a confidant and guide to me through the program. I sincerely appreciate the honest feedback and support you’ve offered in projects past.

Now that I feel like I’m writing in everyone’s yearbook, there’s only one thing to say – Stay sweet and KIT!

Image Credit: Individual images combined and posted with the express permission of Libby Perry, Nick Briscoe, Abram Siegel, Julia Mckinney and Chris McHugh.
POSTED BY EL WRAY AT 6:30 PM
LABELS: COLLABORATION, EMDT, GROUP
2 COMMENTS:

JuliaChancey said…
I must say I am glad to be working with this group also. I *think* I have worked with everyone in here at least once, the only one I am not sure about is Abram. I have been in so many groups its hard to keep them straight.
I am looking forward to working with you again, Emily, and I have a feeling in the upcoming months I will be asking for your feedback (on the media project and such).

JULY 8, 2009 8:58 AM
addogaudium said…
I hate forming groups too! I usually just wait and see if anybody invites me, but that didn’t really work last month, so I went crawling to a group that had some slots left and begged my way back in. How humiliating! To the best of my knowledge, and I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong, the only person in this group I have worked with previously is you, Em, and thankfully that has been on many occasions. You rock.

Chapter 3 (What was the Matrix?)

Apparently, it was the best example we’ve seen yet of transmedia storytelling. This according to Henry Jenkins in chapter three, entitled Searching for the Origami Unicorn. Here I must pause to admit that it has been more than a decade since I saw Blade Runner, and back then, in my young and tender years, the movie made no sense to me whatsoever. Thus, when Jenkins references Neil Young talking about an origami unicorn, it didn’t make sense to me either.

That being said, I did get the basic point behind the reference which was to illustrate “additive comprehension.” This is the way that directors shape and mold the way viewers perceive the film. One “origami unicorn” can change the entire way a film is perceived. Remember the way you felt when you discovered that Bruce Willis was really a dead person for most of Sixth Sense? That knowledge changed the way that you viewed the movie the second time around. An origami unicorn is such a moment, only more subtle. It may be a prop that a character uses, or it may be the way a director chooses to construct a shot in the film, but it is something that drastically changes the way an audience member interprets the film.

Going back to The Matrix, Jenkins details the ways in which the Wachowski brothers used many forms of media to tell the whole story. They utilized film, animated shorts, comic books, and video games. Jenkins explains that to really understand The Matrix, one needed to have pursed the story line through each one of these mediums, to which my response was “What the Heck?!?”

I, though a latecomer, was totally blown away by the first film installment when I watched it with some friends on DVD. After viewing the second film at a pre-opening day midnight screening, which raised an almost infinite amount of additional questions, I could not wait for Revolutions to hit the theaters. I again waited in line to see the third installment at midnight before opening day and left feeling like a hollow shell of the man I had been before seeing it. I had no answers, only more questions. My main question to those who were with me was, “Are we sure that thy aren’t coming out with a fourth one? I mean this one didn’t answer any of our questions . . .”

So, getting back to our text, I again felt empty (and mad) when I realized that I could have gotten more answers. I could have had a deeper and broader understanding. It really would have been nice if the Wachowskis had taken the initiative in one (of their plethora) of interviews to say, “Hey y’all. If you don’t want to be pissed after watching Revolutions, it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and watch our animated shorts, read our comics and play all of the video games.” Better yet, they could have delineated the order in which we should have done these things. I doubt I was the only person in the world who thought that it was unfortunate that “they” were going to pimp out The Matrix franchise to turn out some cheap video games and comic books and animated shorts. If only I would have known . . .

The Wachowski brothers are geniuses. I don’t begrudge their story telling strategy at all. I admire it. I only wish I would have known. Jenkins touches on the fact that most fans aren’t ready for the transmedia experience (particularly movie critics, who I think were irrelevant 15 years ago anyway). He also mentions that many media houses are ill-prepared as well. Who leads first, the gamers or the filmmakers? The TV producers or the comic book writers? I agree with Jenkins when he indicates that certain players are better poised than others to pull the transmedia gig off. Warner Bros, who housed the entire Matrix franchise, owns half of the world, including every aspect of production needed to exceed even the Wachowski’s expectations. I would like to see somebody else come along and use every single tool at their command to accomplish this exciting way of storytelling, but I fear that 99% of consumers would find it too much to bear.

Sources:

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.

Reading Intro and Chapter 1

This week: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins

iGottaGo by imagarth, http://www.joe-ks.com/archives_jan2007/iPottie.htm retrieved on 7/7/2009

iGottaGo by imagarth, http://www.joe-ks.com/archives_jan2007/iPottie.htm retrieved on 7/7/2009

I  have the intro and first three chapters under my belt. Right when I took a break from reading the intro, I came across this article on Reuters which speaks directly to the rock/hard place that our Media owners find themselves in. I almost get the impression that our moguls almost dislike the developments that convergence is bringing. While I do understand that the status quo is bringing profits, I keep thinking to myself that whichever media conglomerate figures out how to exploit these current trends first is destined for MAD money!

In Chapter 1, Jenkins spends time detailing so called “spoilers” who take it upon themselves to figure out the final results of various reality shows before the results are revealed on the program. I couldn’t help but wonder (as Jenkins does) what the world would look like if thousands of people were bent on uncovering government corruption instead of Survivor results. Jenkins cites the guru of cyberculture, Pierre Lévy, and his knowledge about collective intelligence. to explain how it is that thousands of people can coordinate their efforts to arrive at a correct answer.

From Jenkins’ description of the Survivor spoilers, it seems that those involved in the spoiling effort got an intense thrill from the whole process. I suspect it has as much to do with working in a team as it does finding the answers. Indeed, when a poster known as ChillOne figured out all of the answers, many were disappointed. ChillOne had robbed them of the true underlying joy of spoiling: teamwork.

Having just finished a 10 day trial run of World of Warcraft, the concept of being motivated not so much to achieve as much as to achieve as a team is still fresh in my mind. Teamwork makes the game infectious and multiplies the amount of satisfaction that I get from playing it. The challenge I now face is how to employ this as a teaching strategy. I need to create a problem that will force my choir, either as individual choirs or a collective one, to embrace this idea of collective intelligence. Something that no one choir member can solve on their own. Don’t get me wrong. My choirs already have a great sense of community, but for me it’s bigger than that. I believe that teamwork and collective problem solving will serve as intrinsic motivators for my students to achieve more than they ever dreamed.

So . . . any ideas?

Sources

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York: New York University Press.