I can't honestly say I didn't expect much from this class, because I entered the semester with high hopes for the class that brought together my two loves- technology and writing. Thankfully, it has even exceeded those high expectations and I have already learned more than I expected. The relationship between writing and technology has been looked down upon by many, what with the new language and semi-annoying internet shorthand, but after examining ways technology enhances the written word, I'm not sure anyone could argue the opposite.
I, personally, have grown most in the area of thinking about literature beyond just metaphors and symbolism. Through creating a playlist, I was forced to find emotion not only in the film I focused on, but also in the words of the songs I chose. Listening to the atmosphere of the music and translating that into words and feelings proved to be a challenge but it really added another level to my appreciation of music. Along the same lines, while working on the podcast project I found myself listening much more carefully for elements of poetry in all kind of music, not just light, acoustic, story-songs, but in heavy metals screams and rap beats. Literature, then, doesn't have to be stuffy and include only well-established works, but can include any work with emotion and meaning. The world of literature has expanded for me, from reading and analyzing out of a textbook to viewing the world through the passion and words of others.
Learning about technology has been the most fun part of the class, especially dealing with HTML and graphics. I have never been particularly fond of editing layouts, like we had to for the playlist project, but after a few minutes of working with spacing and color and design, I found myself unable to stop until it was perfect. Once I saw what a difference it made in the overall appearance and presentation of the information, I wanted to learn more, and through Google searching and playing around with different designs, I did. I found it pretty cool that I could edit anything on the page to exactly how I wanted it, and also found that I was never completely satisfied with what I had. With every change I made, there was another that popped in my head, to make my playlist original and interesting. This quest for perfection is really rare for me, typically I just settle for what I have, so it was nice to find a new passion and love for graphics and editing.
One aspect that I would really like to improve on would be recording and editing sounds, like we did in the podcast project. After realizing what a huge enhancement sound is to the reading and comprehending experience, I would love to be able to communicate my thoughts about books through sound more often. However, I found that I wasn't nearly as gifted or passionate about working with sound editing, because the volumes and imperfect speech just got on my nerves after a while. Unlike working with graphics, it takes much more than just an "undo" to fix mistakes with speech. You have to re-record over and over until it is absolutely perfect, then work hard not to mess it up when you finally have a good version. I would really love to improve my editing skills, to use for the future.
I've learned more about how technology enhances literature than I thought possible. Not that written works were boring beforehand by any means, but bringing together various artistic elements certainly makes it easier to find yourself in the middle of the story. Also, the communication benefits of computers have become more apparent in the context of discussing ideas. Between putting my opinions in a podcast that could easily be heard by half the world and helping publish an annotated version of a classic story, I see that it is not only professional analysists that add ideas to a work anymore, it is anyone with access to a computer and unique ideas.
Now that the semester is coming to a close, I have seen many, many sides of the ever-deepening connection between technology and literature. Never has their relationship been more apparent or more convenient, and I plan on using all that I've learned from this class to pursue, even further, the advantages of our technological age. "Well Jordan, what have you learned?"...Read on.
Playlist Version One: My playlist, based on the fictional life of Evey from V for Vendetta, was an incredibly fun project to work on. I started by rewatching the film, then decided which parts were important and which could be overlooked. Once I had basic themes, I picked apart my iTunes library and, in a few cases, the brain of my roommate, to find the perfect songs. Once the list had been made, I decided to enhance the appearance by adding screen-catured images from the movie and a colorful banner at the top. I am pleased with the turnout, but am sure it is not done.
Playlist Version Two: Indeed, my playlist was not finished, but needed a little tweaking. In this revision, I added a little depth to the explanations of the psychological changes Evey underwent throughout the course of the film. In my previous version, I briefly touched on the fact that Evey's family history had a big influence on her life, but for the revised edition I went into more detail about their impact on her decisions.
The podcast project was by far the most difficult project I encountered. Coming up with content was difficult enough, but it was much tougher translating that content into an enjoyable, entertaining, informative podcast. The biggest obstacle, though, was learning to accept the sound of my own voice as it played back to me.
Podcast: This version of my podcast on Christian band Audio Adrenaline was the original "finished product", after two weeks worth of hard work experimenting with Audacity. Though it was enjoyable editting the clips and attempting to perfect the sound quality, the topic was not one I was particularly interested in, as it was when I was making my podcast. Because of this, the quality of content was not my best work in my opinion.
Podcast Version Two: This is the revision of my podcast. I changed, most noticeably, the pops and clicks in my 'cast. I fixed these by rerecording a lot of the segments (and placing a tissue over the mic to absorb some of the sound) and going into individual segments to edit them by hand. Also, I changed a few parts that were awkwardly worded to make it sound more natural and unstaged.
Learning to use Audacity was both enjoyable and frustrating, depending on the time. I learned a lot about a program I'd never previously heard of and plan to use in the future. Also in the process of creating this podcast, I realized how much truly goes into the production of audio programs, from the speaking-to-music ratio, the volume adjustments, the copyright considerations to the tone of voice in relation to the target audience. The next step would be to improve the sound quality (i.e. more editing in Audacity) and think even deeper about the connections between Audio Adrenaline, the poetic nature of their music, and their roots in Christianity.
This project, meant to help readers better comprehend the short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce, was quite enjoyable. I was hesitant, upon hearing of the project, because I wasn't sure how I could add anything to a story that was not incredably difficult to comprehend in the first place. However, throughout reading the story, reading my peers' comments, and posting my own, I realized how much more there was to say. Having accessability to others' thoughts without have to actually discuss the story in person enhanced my own reading, and because I wanted to help others understand, I was able to post my own comments trying to point out minor but important details. Also, inserting film clips after the cooresponding paragraphs enhanced my reading experience, as I'm sure it will for others. Seeing someone's visual interpretations and seeing others' comments on their own interpretations opened my mind to perspectives I hadn't previously seen. This also aided in my understanding of film and how to analyze it, which before I hadn't given much thought to. A lot of planning and understanding goes into producing a film from a previously-established story, because the filmmaker has the added pressure of protraying the story accurately.
The collage project was by far the most fun project out of the class for me. I went into the project with a slightly cocky attitude, because I knew I wouldn't have to learn to use the image programs and whatnot, I could just dive into the project itself. Once I took that dive, however, I found that for this project, much thought was required before taking even the first step. I made probably six collages all total, then chose the two that I thought were strongest and most relevant to the project at hand. In making those many collages, I was forced to look deeper into the songs and characters themselves, to base my collage off more than just surface attributes and important plot points.
The biggest trouble I had while preparing these collages was not making the collages themselves, but finding the pictures I felt represented the song/character well. It seemed like the whole internet was out to get me as I went on my search, because sure enough as soon as I found a picture I liked, it was typically protected or far too tiny to really use.
After two versions of each of them, I am pleased with the outcome of both my collages. I am gald we were forced to take a closer look, even after submitting them, because I found a lot that needed to be fixed in both my graphics. This project definitely taught me that it's always a good idea to make things to the best of your ability, even if it means tediously editing layers and coloration and other frustrating aspects, because in the end it will be worth it. I also felt that this project helped me best understand the usefulness of critiquing each other's work. Everyone's comments on my first drafts really made the difference when it came to determining how to revise them.
The Age of Emo
The video project was a challenge, to say the least, but one I really tried to step up to. I had made videos in the past, for various high school classes, but was eager to learn to use Adobe Premiere, which was my original plan. After experimenting with the program in our “practice video,” though, I was really disappointed with the lack of user-friendly controls and complicated nature of simple tasks. The only real advantage I saw to using Premiere was the multiple audio track feature, which was easily replaced by using Audacity to work on the sound elements of the video. So, after a lot of tedious work in Audacity, I set to work with Windows Movie Maker. The project went along quite well, without many tech-related issues.
In the end, I am very pleased with my video. Thankfully, before I started I had a good idea as to how I wanted to lay out the information, which made the organization aspect fairly simple. The timing and transitions from slide to slide took quite a while to get perfect, but I truly think that makes or breaks a video, so it was worth it. Also, I was really pleased with the visual aspect. Thanks to a few websites, like www.emobucket.com, finding images to convey my point was not terribly difficult. I really enjoyed editing the audio track more than anything, which surprised me after the horror known as “Recording My Podcast.” Turns out when I am not the one recording the information, it’s quite fun to manipulate various tracks to make the music both effective (to prove my point) and pleasing (not choppy or disjointed).
I suppose, after it’s all said and done, I learned a lot about making things flow together in unconventional ways. In the process of taking tons of information and merging it with the seemingly endless library of emo music on the market today, I had to apply our original idea of weeding out junk to get to “good stuff,” and stuff that would help my point be made. Also, because I wanted my video to be as exciting as possible, I experimented a lot with Movie Maker and found lots of new tricks and effects. This proved a bigger point that no matter how simple the program, you can always use it for new and creative ways.
Blog Postings & Comments:
My first blog post was in response to the assignment about good “stuff” on the internet. I talked about Mental Floss magazine and the strange but factual information found there.
My very first comment *tear* was in response to Daniel's "Good Stuff" blog, because it was both true and hilarious.
This blog post was my original idea for playlist subjects. Luckily, I had a lot of success with my choice.
I posted this comment to tell Michael what a great job he did on his Scrubs playlist project, with the selection of music and images.
This comment was part of a discussion on the poem “We Real Cool”. I talked about how we shouldn’t pin a poem down to one theme or one mood, when it can mean many different things to different people.
This comment was also discussing a poem, “Hardware”, and the overall tone and meaning. Everyone had slightly different opinions on the poem, which was very interesting to see.
Here I discussed the literary qualities of Ben Folds Five's "Brick" and the history behind it.
I responded to Soham's podcast indecision with, well, even more indecision. But a few suggestions.
I commented on Dan's podcast outline about how excited I was to hear his podcast on Jack Johnson.
As an assignment, we had to give an example of a song that could easily be read as poetry. I chose Brand New's "Play Crack the Sky" because, since the first time I heard it, I have always thought of it as more of a poem.
This posting was the initial step in the podcast process. I was still in the brainstorming phase, but narrowing my options down.
After getting frustrated with my original podcast idea I decided to go in a completely different direction with my project. I switched to Audio Adrenaline and had much more success finding material.
I posted a comment on Kaitlyn's podcast because I was really impressed with the way she pointed out literary devices in simple-sounding songs.
In this comment I explained the reasons I loved Dan's JackJam podcast. It was so catchy!
I posted this comment to tell Soham how great his podcast was. His voice and the quality of the audio was what impressed me most, but the whole presentation was great.
This comment was remarking on Daniel's hilarious podcast on Chino XL. It really brought a rapper's work to a more literary light than it would usually be seen in.
Here I responded to Amanda's comments on my podcast, discussing Christian artists and how their label limits listeners.
This comment was in response to Graham and Colleen's Guns and Roses podcast. It was entertaining and pretty informative.
Here I responded to Soham's interesting ideas for the graphics project. He's thinking about basing a collage on a Chili Peppers' song, which I think would be a pretty big challenge.
In this comment I gave Michael feedback on his Donnie Darko collage. I really liked the black and white scheme he used.
I commented on Amanda's Fight Club collage. It was very dynamic and easily understood.
Kaitlyn's collage was definitely worth commenting on! She used a lot of images and a lot of color to blend together the live and times of Lynette from Desperate Housewives.
This comment is giving Rebecca feedback on her amazing collage. The placement of cartoon pictures of varying opacity on a black and white photograph was surprisingly effective.
Here I commented on Colleen's idea to use "We Didn't Start the Fire" as the basis for her second collage. It will be interesting to see the final product.
This response to Lacy's Stargirl collage was simply to tell her how great she'd done. The layers of the collage interacted well and the colors were vivid.
In this comment I told !!! how much I like his video proposal on protest songs. I hope it goes well for him.
Here I commented on Lacy's "Oh! Gravity" collage. I thought it represented the song very well, without being too obvious.
In this comment I told Soham how great his poem collage was. I love the perspective he used, most of all.
Here I told Dan how much I loved his Such Great Heights collage. It was, without a doubt, my favorite. The perspective, the colors, the 3-D aspect, everything just worked really well together.
This blog was to inform everyone of my topic for the upcoming video project. I decided to do a mock/documentary on emo muisc and the culture surrounding it.
This comment was feedback on Colin's Grim Fandango collage, which was excellent. The flow was by far the best out of all collages using the random object style.
Here I complimented Dan on his great Forrest Gump video! It was nicely put together and very effective at getting his point across.
This comment is in reference to Graham's video on great speeches. His use of text was very effective.
In this comment I told Kaitlyn what a great job she did on her Shel Silverstein video. The images were perfect!
I commented here on Soham's Social Commentary video, which brought up a lot of good ideas and referenced several songs that I hadn't realized were even commenting on social issues. Wow.
This comment was a nice way to sum up the semester, I'd say, because it was about Jonathan's video, based on all the work we have done in this class. It was pretty great!
It’s truly hard to believe I am already writing a conclusion for a class that seemed like it started last week. I, unsurprisingly, still have that feeling of anticipation I got over the summer after finding out I was taking a class that actually sounded fun. I suppose I still have that feeling because I have a desire to learn more and to get more in depth with the topics we discussed, not post them on a webpage and be done with it. I want to keep editing my video and tweaking my images, hearing feedback and using it to better the product at hand, to discuss each others’ work and think about what it means to combine the very different areas of English and technology.
In thinking about the connection between English and technology, I have decided that they are fueled by one another. The entrance of a World Wide Web to modern culture seems like it would destroy literature as we know it, doing away with the need to books or publishers or anything of the sort. Why read a book when you can find it on the internet? Instead, though, technology is simply used to enhance both previously-established works of literature and those currently being published. For current literature, web sites are used in the promotion of the book through exclusive sneak peaks and discussion boards. In older works, projects like our annotation experiment and podcasts help others understand and enjoy literature they might not have otherwise. The relationship between English and computers has truly been a beneficial one.
Upon looking at this now filled-out portfolio, I realize how much I learned without even realizing it. On the first day of class, as we talked about “good stuff,” I was so confused. I mean, that’s an extremely general idea. What makes something good or bad, useful or not? After reviewing my work, I see that it’s all about relevance to your ideas. There are millions, even billions, of images on the internet, plus billions of songs, on top of billions of videos, the list goes on. The ability to find good stuff is all about deciding what will best present the idea you see in your head, whether it is a certain sound for a podcast, an emotionally-charged image for a collage, a quote for an annotation, poignant lyrics to a song for a playlist, or a perfect combination of all of the above for a video. It’s about making the final product deliver an idea from your mind to the minds of all who view or hear.