Seeing as how I had very little clarity about my Capstone project, any sort of activity or aid that might help spark some inspiration in my brain was more than welcome. Receiving this assignment to browse the web for possible topic ideas proved to be just what I needed, as it helped me to hone in on areas that interested me, and on subjects that I definitely wanted to stay away from.
Initially, I was drawn to the broad headings of “Business,” “News & Current Events,” and “Social Sciences”. Since a lot of my undergraduate career has revolved around social sciences and business, I would love to do a project that would actually benefit my professional goals, but that would still allow me to stretch my talents and learn new skills such as graphic design and Photoshop. Because of this, I thought it might be interesting to do some sort of ad campaign for a new product or for, say, a new and upcoming musician at the University of Michigan. Being able to work on something from start to finish that would be along the lines of what my career goals are could help me to test the waters and gain relevant experience. I want to do something completely different from my gateway project, and this type of campaign could be just the thing.
Alternately, the anxiety that the headings like “Engineering” and “Government, Politics, and Law” gave me was sign enough that no project of mine would ever revolve around these fields. Although I may not have entirely figured out my project through the rabbit hole search, I have definitely narrowed down the list and found glaring subjects to avoid.
Overall, through this process I have come to realize that I would like to stick with a subject area that is relevant to me and not do something completely random that will not be applicable or useful to me in the future.
Looking forward to seeing where the semester leads and what kinds of ideas everyone comes up with!
Well here it is. The culmination of a semester of work. The entire process is completely and utterly done.
The writing of the portfolio was an interesting process as I had to reflect on the entire process of me as a writer. And so far I am pretty happy with the results. However, there are a few things I know I would like to work on:
For one, if I do video again, which I fully plan on doing, I know I need to start working from a script. It makes the presentation cleaner and I do feel as though it is helpful when it comes to keeping your thoughts organized. It also probably severely brings down the time of the editing process as you are not editing out as many mistakes.
I also want to continue to write stories the way I wrote my re-purposing project. This project was probably the most enjoyable piece of writing I have done, as it allowed me to not only reflect on the history of something that I love but to really hone in and find the story that is presented there. The story is honestly what makes writing sports pieces so fun for me.
Lastly, I hope that the theme of my blog is easy to follow. I want the world to know I am attempting to become a sports writer, which is something that I have not yet fully mastered. However, this was a real attempt to try and throw my hand in at sports writing while reflecting on my writing in general. I hope that the presentation came across the way I was planning.
Okay, so does anyone else feel like throwing up (in a good way maybe?) when they think about this project? I really hope I’m not alone on this one, because this project is scary.
Anyway, here are the 3 ideas I copied from the email I sent Ray last Thursday night:
1) Exploration of New and Social Media as a “playground” for fiction writers (I’m particularly interested in supernatural horror fiction and “strange tales.” Research could lead to a number of projects, but I’m thinking of a fiction piece that would be designed similar to a viral marketing campaign or something similar that makes use of a variety of media and modes of transmission.
2) Riffing off the theme of supernatural/horror/speculative fiction, criticism has been made about the lack of a monster that resonates with contemporary audiences: we keep appropriating monsters from the historical past (ghosts, demons, vampires, zombies, etc.) rather than creating ones of our own, that belong to our present. So, what would it take to for a monster to have the same cultural impact as the aforementioned enjoyed? What would this creature (is it even a creature?) look like? Why would it engender fear on a widespread, cultural level? What societal anxiety would it speak to, and to paraphrase Jeffrey Cohen’s 7th thesis on monsters and culture, what would it say about us? These questions could drive research that would culminate in an academic paper or maybe even a piece of fiction
3) Working again from the idea of new modes of fiction production, it may be really rewarding and interesting to try to conceptualize, design, and potentially even implement a sort of magazine or ezine (or maybe even a hybrid) for writers experiment with new methods of narration and storytelling to submit and publish their works. Maybe a generalist approach would work for this, or maybe I could even narrow it to a particular genre or type of experimental writing (likely horror or spec fic related).
Now, I’ll come right out and say that I crapped out that third idea because we had to have a third idea. Fortunately, in the shower on Friday before class, I remember I really enjoy gaming in all of its forms (board/card/video/mobile/flash/whatever) and that got me thinking that maybe I could do something with games related to idea 1, and I think I mentioned this in class already. So this is where I’m currently at with my conception of the project, and it’s admittedly vague.
To simply what’s going on in idea 1, I’m interested in the ways we can use things like New Media or non-traditional media (like board and card games) to tell stories in ways that haven’t really been explored that much, in ways that force a reader to change how he or she reads and experiences a work of fiction, that is specific to the medium or various media an artist/writer/developer/designer constructs for him/her. While people have written flash fiction with the help of Twitter, for example, the endeavors I’ve happened across have felt forced or gimmicky, and I think this is because these writers are trying to adapt social media to the ways the already know how to write. This makes perfect sense and I don’t begrudge them for doing things they way they tried. But I’m interested in how these new and rarely explored avenues can shape the way we write and more importantly, tell and experience stories. I want to create something like Ted’s Caving Journal (which will terrify and anger you should you choose to read), or Journey, or Marble Hornets does.
This is where project 4 (also known as shower project) works its way into the post: I would like to look at some successful (and not so successful) attempts to create these news ways of telling stories, and perhaps design a story of my own. I foresee a number of challenges that come along with this project, including but not limited to technology and personal learning curve limitations, available time to commit to the project, the issue of creating a convincing story and then presenting it in a convincing medium, avoiding gimmicks and other negative buzzwords that rear their heads in scathing reviews of bad movies/music/tv/anything/everything, etc. It may even be possible for me to work bits and pieces of idea 2 into this project; a monster story where the medium is the monster could be an interesting (the more I write the more pretentious this gets) way to approach the “story” of the project. Who knows? Gotta start somewhere. At the end of the day though, I’m interested in the intersection of narration, reader experience, story, and new and non-traditional media.
For me personally, being able to design, write, implement, and publish a horror story through something like a cooperative/collaborative flash or mobile phone game that makes use of a variety of media to not just help the story move along, but to create the entire experience, would be a really cool way to end this minor and my time at Michigan; it would combine some of the most important experiences and thoughts I’ve had in these last four years into what I could honestly say would be a capstone. In retrospect, every step I’ve taken in my long, winding, and oft frustrating journey through my undergraduate education has pointed me toward this project. But that doesn’t make the idea any less terrifying. I’m happy with the seeds of ideas I have here, but anything anyone can add to help them grow would be greatly appreciated.