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December 9, 2008
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INFO390 Final Project

Christopher Magiet


Writing Across Media

INFO 390 Final Project Response:

Community Ideals in an Ongoing Discourse

The general focus of the video project was to analyze through a fictional discourse the way in which communities function, if so, in a virtual setting. In order to formulate our points, we used the article written by Nessim Watson, “Why We Argue about Virtual Community: A Case Study of the Phish.Net Fan Community,” along with other topics discussed throughout the duration of the course, to create a cohesive discussion on the topic. In a sense, the video as a choice of media seemed to be a good idea since it can subtly incorporate elements of audio, text and typography, and sequential properties. Also, our group for the project experienced success with video previously.

Initially, our group thought that the best way to present the ideas found through our own discussions and effectively respond to it was to show one side of the argument that could be considered the stereotypical or “easy” conclusion. Our idea was to exhibit through an office or work setting the somewhat overly conventional idea of participants in online communities having some social inadequacies, and that these inadequacies serve as the reasons for widespread gravitation to online forums mimicking community atmospheres. We had figured that if we showcased this viewpoint in a satirical fashion, the more critical viewpoint might become evident, the one that Watson seemed to be advocating in her article.

We were going to have different characters that might illustrate different social archetypes that would find different and even alternative avenues for online interaction. The stereotypical viewpoint as to why and how online communities grow prevalent and gain potentially massive levels of user interaction is based upon the idea that such a gravitation results from a deficit in the person’s intimate and social interactions. From these assumptions, we planned on filming different characters exhibiting some sort of escape behavior, and then portray that as the reason for their involvement in online/virtual communities, the reason so many of these communities have grown in the online world.

After letting these ideas stew a bit, and then talking to our instructor, Mark Barnes, we had to start questioning the effectiveness of this project idea. Trying to show the exploitative qualities of the stereotypical viewpoint in a satirical way would not have come out the right way.

We realized this after taking a critical analysis of our own project in order to account for the cohesiveness of the video as a whole. It turns out that the difference between the stereotypical and critical viewpoints is due partly to the fact that the critical viewpoint is necessarily evident, even when the converse is satirized. While it would have been interesting, as what may have been partially influence by NBC’s “The Office,” and funnier to try and present this proposed situation, the overall effectiveness for the sake of argument would have been lost. So, as a group (haha, and a community) we restructured to focus of our video to accommodate a more clear, possibly less confusing viewpoint.

We then decided to show the parallels between online/virtual communities and communities functioning in the real world. We decided that a classroom type of setting would work better in showcasing the different roles present in a general social or community setting, a significant part of how communities are formed and function. We intended to created a quasi online forum using a physical setting in hopes of using elements of the online/virtual world to show how communities formed in the real world transfer indirectly to the internet, and in such a fashion that they seem like alternate forms of communication.

Often times, this alternate communication can be perceived as invalid, or even hokey and pointless because in the greater scheme, things associated with the internet seem lose a great deal of credibility. We thought if presented with a certain amount of care, we could show that the importance of communicative elements in communities of all mediums is evident in developing online communities in forums. We still wanted to use a humorous video approach with subtle gestures to communicate our ideas, but the satire may not have been as obvious as we wanted, as may have been seen during our in-class presentation. We wanted little things added to the plot to exhibit some of our ideas without explicitly saying “this, this, and this” about community straight in the camera, though we realized that some of that needed to happen in order for the video to be viewed with more clarity.

Along with those certain subtle satirical qualities in mind, we thought it might be beneficial to incorporate some meta-fictional elements into our video for several reasons. After taking in what Watson discusses regarding language and roles on the internet and our own observations about Facebook and Myspace, we thought that quasi meta-fictional things occur when online communities grow and function. People talk about online communities in real life, such as commenting on what happens on facebook, or a conversation on a forum, with peers. The converse happens online, where larger communities can adopt for intimate settings, though physical proximity fails to be a factor, for the sake of communication and general interaction.

We had many of these ideas in mind while filming, but I think much of it was lost with different scene cuts, and the filming process in general. A different medium may have been more effective, or maybe a synthesis of different media outlets. Perhaps combing the video with a sequential element and a pseudo online forum would have helped to illustrate our ideas.


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The Ghost of the English Building

November 6, 2008
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In Response to Video Projects

November 6, 2008
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In Response to Group Filming
For our group project we decided to make a mockumentary about the rumored ghost of the English Building on the quad at the U of I.  Our group of four figured that none of us really knew anything about ghosts, ghost hunting, or the “paranormal” in general, so we thought it would be interesting project if we explored this field from a humorous and satirical fashion.  With the basic concept and themes in mind, we tried to plan out how we wanted our video to be perceived and the nature of the footage that we would collect.
Having worked on similar group projects before at this University, I had some preconceived notions about how the project in general would get down and eventually turn out.  There seems to be a widespread general stigma regarding group projects that require a significant amount of work to be done collectively outside of class because so many factors besides the actual work contributing to the project hinder to a great extent the entire collaborative process.  In thinking about the article, “Intertexts,” discussed in class, the problems considering collaboration in the article focus a lot on authorship, ownership, credit, and basically money.  I would say that the main problem facing collaboration in undergraduate study hides not within the issues of grades (credit, payoff), but rather with time.  In a professional context, the work being done is the singular priority of the parties involved.  That fact alone eliminates problems regarding ability and competence to contribute to a greater work.
In student group projects, the projects are almost always hindered by a plethora of nuisances generally unrelated to the work itself.  Schedules are almost always incompatible.  A quick solution might seem apparent, such as, “Just move our schedules around.”  The problem with this assertion is that they are schedules.  Schedules are made with the intention that they remain set for the sake of reliability.  Also, schedules are constructed around other schedules, and so on, and so on.  Work schedules depend on class schedules, and group project schedules depend on both of those.  Add another group project into the mix, and that project depends on three different factors solely related to time.
Fortunately in my situation, our group managed to get at least three out of the four members together at each meeting time in order to collect enough footage and content so that a coherent final product could be achieved in the end.  With a group project that involves video, or even media in general, the work cannot necessarily be divided into equal, quantifiable chunks that can be pieced together into what might be called a collaborative effort.  Collaborative work seems to more and more require a nonlinear progression of construction, where the workload cannot necessarily be allotted to set duration.  The work must be interwoven.  After filming half of our footage, we decided that none of it ended up having any significance towards what our goal was.  We needed to reconfigure how we were going to show our message without compromising it for the sake of time.  Projects such as this one seem to often require some trial and error.  Trial and error often leads to a better final product, but it also necessitates extension.  Luckily, sometimes an instructor will exercise some leniency for sake of quality work.  Regardless of the situation, important factors regarding the quality of the work get compromised for reasons outside of the work in an undergraduate setting.

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Mediation and Remediation

November 4, 2008
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In another installment of the Bolter and Grusin article, they make the bold claim to compare high new media as seen in avenues such as MTV to high modernist art.  While MTV uses mediation/remediation/hypermediacy in order to create pure experience, can you analyze it under the lens of art if it’s just selling a product (corporate television for ratings)?

“No medium, it seems, can now
function independently and establish its own separate and purified
space of cultural meaning” (55)

Does culture necessarily play a part in media?

“Photography, film, and television have been constructed by
our culture to embody our cultural distinctions and make those distinctions
part of our reality; digital media follow in this tradition” (62)

While the traditional media were constructed by “culture,” can we necessarily say that digital media is the product of culture and not industry, capitalism, or something else?

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October 28, 2008
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Since “Intertexts” addresses the concept of collaboration, it is only fitting that the article itself stands as a product of collaboration.  And since the quotes referenced seem to show favoring towards collaboration, the negatives seem to be somewhat overlooked.  Besides legal and credit issues, what are some problems of collaboration?

Do problems in collaboration change when the goal changes, meaning the difference between publishing a texts and completing a group project for a grade?

Since “Intertexts” is a collaborative effort about collaboration, the text, in a sense, doesn’t always recognize itself.  The format and construction of the article is rather experimental or alternative.  Does this make collaboration a form of experimentalism?

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Response to Audio Project

October 16, 2008
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Chris Magiet
INFO 390
Mark Barnes

Casual Dialogue Contrasted with Inebriated Behavior

In creating an audio essay, the choice of form and its function takes on a greater significance of weight than one might predict.  Yes, the form may be labeled as simply as “audio” or “aural,” but the specific voices, background noise, timing, and sound level are all choices of form in themselves; just as word choice enhances or degrades the validity of an argument in a traditionally typed essay, the elements of sound function with the same value.  When writing the traditional essay, one concentrates on formation of words into points/arguments/evidence within paragraphs, and the form is already decided for you.  In an audio essay, the sensory medium is implied (ears, hearing) as with written essays (eyes, seeing), but the form of what types of sounds and voices to be used bear more weight on constructing form than the content (what is literally said or heard).
In my audio essay, my goal was to present an informal conversation among peers about a prevalent topic in the university student body.  Originally, I figured that using ambient noise from the location of the conversation would invoke meaning given the topic.  The topic was set to be drunken behavior and topics of conversation at bars and parties involving the typical college student.  I was going to use the background noise of a bar or restaurant around dinnertime as fodder for meaningful accessory sound, with the clanking of glasses, music from the jukebox, faded banter from elsewhere in the establishment, voices of bartenders and servers, and whatever else could be noticed in the ambiance of a bar.  After further contemplation on this choice of form, I considered a different avenue for showing meaning through sound outside of the actual main dialogue.
I managed to record sound at a friend’s birthday party, where alcohol consumption was probably in excess, and captured conversations, rants, and interjections.  I figured that superimposing more directly captured ambiance next to a direct dialogue would exemplify my points more thoroughly.  The dialogue focuses on how informal conversation or discourse compares to inebriated versions.  In one sense, the audio piece as a whole could be viewed as in a single location, where there is a sober conversation occurring within a chaotic slew of drunken rant.  Interestingly, the issues addressed in the dialogue mimic the content of the party atmosphere in the background.  In another possible interpretation, one could perceive the two audio samples as engaging in a conversation or discourse between themselves.  As I moved further along in editing the sound clips and arranging the levels, I noticed somewhat of an unexpected phenomenon in which due to spikes of sound intensity on one track some content seemed to bleed into its counterpart, sounding like it belongs in the other line of sound and creating an interwoven aspect of parallel progressions of audio.
Within the different layers of my goal, I wanted to show the aspects of “essay” as we know it traditionally, and how they can be applied to different modes and mediums of various calibers.  The functions of essay to engage in some sort of discourse and show examples has seemed to provide worth when applied to various modes, as we see with newscasts, television shows, radio broadcasts, podcasts, internet videos, blogs, text messages, and so on.  While not trying to show the effectiveness of one method over another, I wanted to illustrate the great potential for effectiveness in various modes once the concept of what the traditional accomplishes is realized.  Perhaps this is somewhat hinting at a remediation of concept in addition to remediation of tangible content.

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Audio Essay

October 16, 2008
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click on the link to either download or listen to the essay.

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October 14, 2008
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Does the quality of a documentary change, whether it is strictly planned out or with an ending in doubt, if the equipment is “insufficient” for either situation?

Is non-fiction film necessarily documentary?  What exactly is the difference if there is one?

If there is concern for “truth versus reality” in reality videos and shows, shouldn’t the same concern be applied to traditionally made documentaries?

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On Shipka

October 7, 2008
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Shipka claims in his article, “Asking students to
imagine two or three ways of responding to a task helps to underscore the point that rhetorical
and material soundness is not about producing the perfect text (i.e., one that works equally
well for every audience or in every context), but about being willing and flexible enough to
think beyond, or to think in addition to, the repertoire of choices one eventually commits to as
deadlines approach and texts are due.”

In response to this, wouldn’t many students instead of trying to explore different multi-genre modes rather try to figure which will be most compatible with their strengths when considering deadlines?

In response to Dan’s press package project: Since his goal was to entertain listeners about the the OED subject, doesn’t this contradict the idea of rigorous academic point-making?

Doesn’t this just contribute to the notion that multi-modal composition reflects the “playing” of students in multi-genre academics?

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photo essay

October 2, 2008
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To be viewed in order:

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About author

Chris Magiet is a blog editor for TrainSignal Training, writing about the new things going on at TrainSignal. He brings news on training releases, industry updates, and more exclusive content. A recent Liberal Arts grad from the University of Illinois, Chris joined the TrainSignal team to support a great experience for the users of TrainSignal Training.