Saved by Google

Maybe its my craving to know the answer to questions that nobody really cares about, but I am simply obsessed with googling. It is part of my daily routine and this week my google searches have ranged from “how many apples should I eat in one day” to “hannah montana transition music” to “location of best french fries in ann arbor.” To put it simply: google is my “go to guy.” For this reason, when I was experimenting with iMovie and struggling, it was only natural for me to turn to google. If any of you are doing an iMovie, I actually found some super valuable and useful info! Because a large part of my movie is incorporating clips from other movies, shows, and news broadcasts, I searched “how to download youtube clips. There were a few websites that popped up that did not work, however, a downloadable application called “Any Video Converter,” made downloading the videos i needed super easy. Essentially you just download the application, paste links of youtube videos you want to download into the app, hit download and they will appear in your “Downloads” folder. I then was easily able to transfer them into iMovie, and edit them to the length that was necessary for my movie. I continued to google any problems that I ran into, and found youtube videos for how to get rid of Ken Burns effect, how to make a song fade out at the end of a clip, and more. So far, working with iMovie which I am only familiar with from middle school projects, has been a good learning experience, and my video is coming along swimmingly so far!!

#techchallenge

I somehow missed the first challenge, so in this blog I’m going to talk about a few of the new technologies I used in order to complete my ReMediation project.

The first new technology I used for my project was Prezi.  Originally, I had planned to use PowerPoint to create a presentation for a guerilla marketing plan for my fictitious waffle house business; however, I had used PowerPoint countless times before, and I wanted to try something new and more challenging.  I had seen a few Prezi presentations before and I really liked the smooth, fluid transitions.  It was definitely something different when comparing it to all the PowerPoint presentations I had created and seen.  The only issue was that I had no idea how to use Prezi and put my vision on the screen.  At first, I decided to go it on my own.  I chose a rather appealing template and began adding my information.  The template was definitely nice, but it just wasn’t what I had envisioned for my ideal marketing plan presentation.  Luckily, Lynda.com was filled with a bunch of easy to follow videos ranging from how to get your Prezi started to how to customize it and make it your own.  That, coupled with the workshops we did in class, helped me to figure out Prezi and become more comfortable operating it.  As I kept working, I became more and more familiar with the ins and outs of my presentation.  I was able to create my own frames, make smooth transitions, and inset media into my presentation.  All in all, I am really happy with the way my project came out, and I think I definitely made the right decision to switch from PowerPoint to Prezi early on.  I will definitely use Prezi in the future when I need to present something.

Another form of technology I used for the first time for this project was the ScreenCast-O-Matic software Naomi used to record our meetings about our Re-Mediation.  I was unsure if I was even going to present my marketing plan, in part because I didn’t know how I was going to record it; however, Naomi suggested ScreenCast-O-Matic, ensuring me that it was easy to use.  She was right!  Besides the fact that I hate hearing my own voice, the whole process was extremely easy.  All I had to do was make the recording box wide enough to fit my whole presentation, press record, and pause it when I was finished.  Then, I just saved it as a video file and it was ready to be submitted.  I had to print out a transcript so that I could read along as I clicked through my Prezi, but luckily I didn’t have to memorize anything which made the process much easier.

Finally, I also used Photoshop to create a logo and T-shirt for my fake waffle house.  I have played around with Photoshop before, but I ‘m not that familiar with it.  I’m a little embarrassed at how long it took me to make something so simple.  My brother is a graphic design major and Queens College back in New York.  When I told him how I ended up with my final result, he explained to me how I could’ve done the same thing in a matter of two minutes.  Either way, my logo and T-shirt came out the way I wanted them too and I was still able to learn a little bit about Photoshop.

Who Knew?

This week, I would like to, yet again, blog about the process of my remediation process, however, this time from the technological perspective, rather than the writing, editing, structuring, or storyboarding perspective. Who knew that when I was accepted into the Minor in Writing program here at the University of Michigan, I would learn more about technology than I ever thought I could? When people think of writing, they often think of essays, papers, peer-editing, drafting and re-drafting, punctuation, sentence structure, and all things related to letters and words. However, I now have a entirely different perspective on writing, one that I would have never gained if not for the Minor.

Writing has a lot to do with technology. In today’s world, where technology is the center of mostly everything that we do, it has become the center of writing, editing, and publishing. Consider print journalism. Today, newsreaders use the Internet as one of their main sources for finding out about the world. Fewer and fewer people turn to print sources (newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, brochures, etc.). Instead, they simply turn on their computer and Google whatever it is they need to Google. Technology has made information-searching easy as pie. In this way, my remediation project in particular has taught me ways to take advantage of a world in which technology is so embedded and prevalent in our writing practices.

For my remediation project, I am creating a website on WordPress. Through this project, I have learned so much about presenting an argument through technological mediums. Not only has WordPress allowed me to insert text into its interface, but I have learned to insert links to online news stories, am in the process of creating an iMovie video for my site that will combine YouTube videos featuring cooking shows, and have uploaded a multitude of images to my site. All in all, my website has allowed me to use video, images, and links to create an argument, rather than simply text. Although this is not necessarily the most conventional way to write, and is far from the usual 5-page essay, my website has adapted to today’s version of what writing has truly become: technological.

Technology

Tech Challenge Follow Up – Not As Easy As I Thought

In my last tech challenge I thought I had it all figured out – animating a GIF wasn’t so bad! Then I tried to download it.

I don’t have Photoshop, so I made the GIF on a university computer and saved it in mfile. Earlier today I was playing with Tumblr as a possible change-of-platform for my remediation project (more about that later) and thought I should try to upload my first animation. But when I tried to get it from mfile, it would only download as frame-by-frame still images.

Oy vey. Back to the online tutorials.

I found the problem was that the file opened in a PDF viewer, which does not support the animation. I continued to download and save the file in about 12 different applications, and was eventually able to upload the animated file to Tumblr as a looping image, although I’m still not entirely sure which application worked in the end.

This was definitely a good reminder that learning how to use new technologies and new media is a process. There will be parts that are challenging and parts that come more easily, but I’m looking forward to being able to say that I have mastered (hopefully) a new technology by the end of this project.

Tech Challenge – Photoshop Animation

For my Re-Mediation project I will be making a Buzzfeed-type list using animated GIFs (the looping images or video clips that are popular all over the internet), so as a technology challenge this week I wanted to experiment with creating animation in Photoshop.

I’ve used Photoshop in the past for basic editing, so I’m familiar with some of the tools and the concept of layers, but I’ve never tried to animate anything.

I started by looking up a lot of online tutorials (I liked the ones here and here) and trying them out to learn different ways to create animation.

It turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be! I’m getting really excited that I can now create my own GIFs out of photos or drawings (using video clips may take another tech challenge).

Anyway, check out my first GIF:

MarleyK GIF

Technology Challenge: Exploring Lynda.com

I really enjoyed my experience on Lynda.com. From my perspective, tutorial videos have always been an interesting and fun way of learning. As a Communications Studies major, my coursework often requires I watch “TedTalks,” or videos that consist of a researcher or knowledgeable person giving an informed speech on a particular topic to an actual audience. The tutorials I watched on Lynda.com reminded me of my experiences watching these “TedTalks,” in terms of the interactivity, images, charts, and voiceovers included in them. One thing I particularly liked about Lynda.com was how it was broken up into different video categories, including Business, 3D, Design, Photography, etc. This made the website easy to surf through and figure out, being that it was my first time on it. Additionally, each tutorial was broken up into sections, almost like chapters. The video would start out with an introductory clip/voiceover, and transition into its subsequent sections.

One particular tutorial that struck me was called “Photoshop Color Correction: Dark Color Cast” with Taz Tally. Photoshop is a technological application that I have always been interested in learning how to use. In fact, there have been times in my life where I wished I knew how to use it, for project or other academic purposes. That being said, this tutorial taught me more information in a short period of time than I ever thought I could learn from an online video. Particularly, the video featured a behind-the-scenes user navigating and working on Photoshop. You can see the mouse controlling different features of the program, such as shifting and creating color schemes through histograms, contrast and brightness buttons, and color tone removal scales. Personally, I am a visual person, and this was an easy way for me to learn about a very complicated program.

Another tutorial that stuck out to me was called “Google+ For Musicians and Bands” with Bobby Owsinski. This video was of particular interest to me because I love listening to and sharing music with others- it is a hobby of mine. The video outlines the ways in which Google+ is the “rising kid on the block” in terms of a social platform for up and coming musicians. It acts as a brief marketing tutorial for those who wish to grow their fan base online and connect with other musicians. Although I am in no way, shape, or form a skilled or talented musician, let alone part of a band, I do use the Internet for musical purposes. I am an avid user of various websites that connect me with those who listen to similar music to me. In the same way, I felt this tutorial gave me great insight into a Google platform that connects music-lovers across the world. It included images, brief, visual outlines, and a model, interactive computer screen that enabled me to learn about Google+ from the perspective of the music industry.

portfoliopalooza

I didn’t think I’d get so excited about this portfolio project but my mind’s starting to get excited about the possibilities and freedom we’re given. I’ve been using technology in my classes for the past 3 years not as a tool for my own design but to learn the nuts and bolts behind computers, so it’s weird for me for the first time to be given so much creative freedom in a school project. I’ve been looking into hosting my e-portfolio outside of a traditional blog site, either a github repository (a site used for sharing and keeping track of code, either for projects across groups or just individuals, or as a dropbox sort-of thing…it’s super handy for CS projects) or through a personal umich site. I’m excited to mess around with HTML/CSS and create my own little corner of the Internet.

Something that has in the past felt too overwhelming but that I’ve started appreciating about my major is the sheer volume of what I don’t know. I feel the same way about writing, that there’s always someone else to learn from. Even though the technical side of writing gets a little too verbose for me at times (got a little lost with those grammar readings last week…) it’s a weird sort of comforting that I’ve never exhausted these subjects.

Tags and Tumblr

This is an example of a gif. Gifs are very popular on Tumblr.

I have a feeling this might make me known as “that weird Tumblr girl,” but the site is like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else on the internet.  If this is the first time you’ve heard of Tumblr or if you don’t really know what it is, here’s a quick explanation: Tumblr is best described as a “micro-blogging” site.  A user can create their own blog, customize it as they see fit, and follow blogs that match their interests.  (For more information, see their About page.)  Tumblr is fascinating to me for the people who use the site on a daily basis.  Bloggers on this site have developed their own miniature culture, complete with in-jokes, jargon, and certain styles of writing.

One of the peculiar modes of speech is the use of tags.  For those completely uninitiated to blogging, a tag is a word or a phrase that the writer can attach to a post in order to make it easier to find.  For example, if you wrote a post critiquing the Harry Potter series, you could tag it as “#Harry Potter” to make it simple to locate.  (When you copy and paste a tag, it will automatically include the hashtag and underlining.  I have decided to keep this convention.)  Furthermore, on Tumblr you can check and follow certain tags so you can see updates as they come.  If anyone tags a post a certain way, it will show up there.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the original post, but someone once called Tumblr tags “like muttering under your breath on the internet.”  People don’t only tag things as “#photo,” “#cat,” or “#nature.”  Quite often, tags are used to express strong emotions without having to insert text in the reblogged post.

For instance, one user wrote, “#WHY MUST YOU DO THIS TO MY FEELINGS” and “#AUAUAUAUAGGGGGHHHHH.”  Emotions can also be positive, such as, “#YOU ADORABLE BABUS,” “#I CAN’T EVEN YOU’RE SO CUTE,” and “#HUGS FOR EVERYONE.”  A post can be filled with up to 30 tags, so on occasion a user may end up writing an entire “essay” in the tags.  Putting long phrases here allows a user to reblog a post without clogging up the actual “text portion” for other users who want to reblog the post.

Interestingly enough, the tag system has influenced how people write in regular text posts.  Popular text posts are often written in the same style as tags – no punctuation and no capitalization.  After being on Tumblr or even the internet as whole for a long time, it’s a quirk you don’t notice until someone points it out.  It should be noted that a user named turnabout-taisa gets the credit for this theory on tags.  He or she writes, “This adaptation is actually pretty cool, I think, as it serves to communicate tone across a very toneless medium.”  Blogger crowleyaziraphale quoted someone else’s tags (appropriately enough): “#we’ve created our own language with its own set of rules and guidelines #based on the environment #that is cool #if you don’t think that’s cool you’re wrong“.  In short, communication on Tumblr is really very sophisticated, even if outside observers and the bloggers themselves don’t realize it.

Though other sites (such as this lovely WordPress blog you’re reading now) include tag systems, as far as I know there is no other site that uses tags in this way.  For those who were in my section of class on Friday morning, this is why I asked about the tags.  For me, tags aren’t just a way of cataloging posts – they are a way to communicate unto themselves.

Reddit = $$?

After the interesting presentation yesterday in class (I had never heard of Reddit before the presentation..), I just saw this article on Forbes talking about how Reddit is actually worth a LOT of money. For those you interested in business (or just learning a little more about Reddit), this is a pretty interesting article!

Has anyone visited Reddit since we talked about it yesterday?

Ma, This Blog Post is Going on the Fridge

Just in case my new blog group members have not read my previously enthralling posts, which is somewhat unimaginable (sorry I use a fair amount of sarcasm), I spent a lot of time lamenting the effect that technology is having on our generation’s writing quality. I was essentially arguing that in this day and age, with the advent of Twitter and text messaging, younger people are constantly ensconced in a brutish form of writing that disgraces the art form that it truly is. Read More