Remixes and Mashups

My Remix/Mashup for ED 677

 


Reflection on my Remix/Mashup

Before I completed a couple of readings on remixes and mashups, I already had an idea in my head about what they were. If you had asked me to define each of these terms, I would have said that remixes take an existing artifact and present it in a new way. Mashups take multiple artifacts and combine them into one artifact. The readings I completed supported my simple distinction. For example, Gil (2017) described that “a ‘mashup’ combines services from different websites into a single website.” According to the Wikipedia mashup article that focuses specifically on education, remixes have two or more data sources. Remixes re-create an artifact in a way not originally intended by the user. So, in my mind, in the most basic sense, this is how remixes and mashups differ.

So what do they have in common? The key to both remixes and mashups is the evolution of an artifact’s meaning. Murray (2015) describes that, “artists have consistently challenged the idea that meaning ascribed to objects is permanently fixed. All cultural artifacts are open to re-appropriation. As with much else, technology has made this process easier and more visible.” The tools we have available now make it easier to assign new meanings to existing artifacts to create remixes; combining old artifacts together with different meanings to create mashups. With both remixes and mashups, we can use existing content as a springboard for new ideas and new content. We can create with old creations.

I think the animation I created for this assignment is somewhere between a remix and a mashup. It’s a remix in the sense that I took a lot of my own work and presented it in a new way; it’s a mashup in that I took all of the semester’s work and condensed it down into a 2 minute animation. Rather than being a commentary or a parody or an artistic process, I envision it more as a curation or chronological display. This adds meaning to the pre-existing artifacts because it puts them together in one place where they were previously disparate.

Reflection on the Process

Even though this video ended up being less than 2 minutes long, it took me a really long time to create! I wanted to have the opportunity to be brief and to really drill down to the heart of each of the past semester’s assignment. I wanted to create a mashup of the content and ideas that I will remember and take with me after the end of this semester. Consequently, deciding what content to include and how to present it was a fairly time-consuming process.

Moovly was also a new tool for me, so it took a little while to learn it. I initially tried Video Scribe (which was used by a student in the 2016 cohort), but decided it was a little too complicated for my purposes and the learning curve a little too steep. Moovly allowed me to create my moving infographic and ended up being a great tool for what I had in mind.

The reason I wanted to create what I would call an “animated infographic” was twofold: (1) I hadn’t had a chance to use an animation tool yet this semester, so I wanted to pick a technology that would challenge me, and (2) I wanted to challenge myself to tell a “brief” story instead of my usual long story. I always have a hard time being concise, but the participatory storytelling project in particular really reminded me of this particular tendency. So I chose a different approach to storytelling (brevity) than I have used in previous assignments. My story, then, is a story of small epiphanies. Each assignment gave me at least one “a-ha!” moment, and I think that in the future, it will be useful to me to have all of these discoveries curated into this brief chronological display.

References

Gil, P. (2017, April 21). What exactly is an internet mashup? Lifewire. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-an-internet-mashup-2483413

Mashup (education). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_(education)

Murray, B. (2015, March 22). Remixing culture and why the art of mashup matters. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/22/from-artistic-to-technological-mash-up/

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Participatory Storytelling

Media Presentation

Click on the image below to visit my media presentation of our participatory story.Participatory Storytelling


Deconstructing the Process

Choosing the Form of Media

I knew before I began that I wanted to pair our Twitter story with some form of images. I think that, in part because it was Twitter-based, the cohort spent a lot of time “setting the scene” or developing descriptive passages. Consequently, I wanted the opportunity to create a graphically-rich representation of the story. I imagine that we were all picturing some sort of scene or item or object in our heads when we read or wrote these descriptive passages. Taylor and Williams (2014) explain that, “McCall Smith… cites the critical role of the reader’s imagination in bringing these miniature tales to life,” and so I wanted to try and capture the imaginative scenes we were thinking about as we wrote the descriptive passages.

I wasn’t quite sure how to do that, so I started by brainstorming what kinds of tools would allow me to neatly integrate images into the already-crafted narrative. I considered doing some sort of “timeline” feature (such as the one here), as I remember a classmate used it in one of her posts in my summer Digital Citizenship course and I thought it was very visually appealing. However, it did seem more appropriate for a project with a clear chronological organization, so I kept looking. I found that another student in last year’s ED 677 cohort used a very interesting tool– Adobe Spark. Since I’d never used it before, I thought it looked like the perfect tool for what I was hoping to accomplish.

I found Adobe Spark very easy to use– and actually pretty fun! It was very simple to integrate Creative Commons licensed photos- although I spent probably more time than I should’ve browsing through the images to try and find ones that matched what I was picturing in my head. I experimented with the different themes as well as the different ways to display text so that the end product offered visual variety.

Reflection on the Twitter Storytelling Process

I had a hard time with this project initially, and this blog post and media presentation through Spark came together much easier for me than did the weeks of tweeting leading up to it. Logistically, I struggled to fit in two tweets per week because I primarily work on classwork over the weekend. I would login with the intention of completing my second tweet, but wouldn’t be able to because I would be breaking the “no consecutive tweets” rule. I also often found myself confused about what was happening in the story, which made it difficult for me to write tweets that I was confident wouldn’t derail the storyline further or cause even more confusion. Thus, the process of coming up with two tweets a week was sometime frustrating.

In general, I also think it was difficult for me because storytelling as a whole is outside of my wheelhouse, and this form of storytelling even more so. According to Taylor and Williams (2014), “Mitchell says crafting stories for Twitter requires a completely different approach to novel writing. Above all, he says compression is the key, and modification of the narrative is often required.” If you look at any of my previous blog posts (this one included), compression and brevity are really not my strengths. I always prefer to use more words rather than fewer words, so the shortened nature of each Twitter contribution was a challenge for me. In addition, I am much more comfortable with nonfiction than I am with fiction. I do think I’m a creative person, but not when it comes to telling stories or creative writing. I liked what Alexander (2011) said about this type of storytelling: “The social media world has made the outer frontier of stories porous. Where a story begins and ends, what the container is that holds a narrative: these questions are more difficult to answer than before” (p. 125). I found Twitter to be a challenging “container” with which to hold a story– I like continuity, order, organization, and a plan… which is tough with 140 characters and 10+ authors!

I do like what Alexander (2011) said, though, regarding “collaborative spaces.” He explained that, “One model for understanding storytelling in a social media world, one where content and audience interaction is distributed over multiple sites and across time, is that of the networked book,” and that we should think of the networked book “…as a platform, whereupon visitors build materials in a collaborative space” (p. 127). Twitter became a platform for collaboration, and it is kind of neat to look at my Spark presentation above and consider that it all started with one tweet and was created solely through collaboration.

References

Alexander, B. (2011). The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Taylor, A. F. and Williams, M. (2014, Sept. 30) Alexander McCall Smith on the art of Twitter fiction. ABC.net. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandartsdaily/beta-nav/alexander-mccall-smith-on-the-art-of-twitter-fiction/5777056.

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Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality in Action

According to Davis, “Augmented reality, at its most basic form, is defined by the incorporation of something virtual into something pre-existing, thus amplifying the experience.” Augmented reality offers us an opportunity to enhance natural experiences or static images with virtual experiences and additional information. In other words, the Auras below allow us to link digital content to something physical, which enables the information to be displayed and the story to be told in ways that were previously not possible (Mills, 2012). 

Disclaimer: make sure you follow vmw1925 on Aurasma so that you can view the following Auras! I also recommend you click on the image to enlarge it before viewing it with the Aurasma app.

Map of US national parks, indicated with tree icon

This first image is a map of the location of US National Parks. When you view the image with Aurasma, you’ll see two arrows appear: one for the past, and one for the future. Clicking on the arrows will take you to a YouTube video about the history of the parks, and a Ted Talk video about future potential for the parks.


 

Vintage poster advertising Grand Canyon National Park; depicts a sweeping canyon and sky.
A short video opens, showing a time-lapse of light coming up over the canyon.

 

Vintage poster advertising Yellowstone National Park; shows the geyser Old Faithful spewing up into the sky.
Links to “10 Things You May Not Know” about the park, and links to the park’s frequently asked questions.

 

Vintage poster advertising Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Links to top attractions in the park, and opens a PDF with hiking trails.

 

Vintage poster of the American Southwest desert scape, advertising Arches National Park.
Opens a video of the park taken by a visitor to the park, using a drone.

 

Vintage poster advertising Glacier National Park, shows a mountain reflected in a lake.
Discusses the history of the park; opens images of the building of the Going to the Sun Road and a video with a Park Ranger explaining the road’s construction. Double tap the second icon to view the Park Ranger video.

 

Vintage poster advertising Mt. McKinley National Park, shows a Dall's sheep in front of a mountain.
Opens two news stories about the park.

 

As evidenced by the auras above, AR can be used to integrate all kind of digital information into the physical world. User generated content, news stories or current events, hiking guides or visitor information, historical facts, and fun trivia can all be a part of an image with the use of AR technology. I will leave you with this one last aura to end your virtual experience of the story of US National Parks (click on the new image once it appears):

Image that says "Find Your Park."


Deconstructing the Process

Augmented reality is frequently applied to travel experiences (Graham, 2010), and so that is why I decided to explore that concept further in my AR post, just to see what kinds of materials could be integrated. My husband and I have traveled to quite a few US National Parks, and I appreciated their story in the broader story of US history. I noticed that over the past few years, the iconic “vintage” posters of each national park have been more popular, and I think it’s partly because they capture a particular feeling about the park and/or convey the park’s particular story. Since education (along with preservation) was one of the original intentions of the park system, I thought it would be fun to use these vintage posters as the trigger images for my auras. I tried to attach different kinds of information to each trigger image, so that I could practice adding various overlays and actions.

While I think that AR has exciting potential, I struggled with the technology in its current form. As the ASTE Presentation (2012) describes:

The biggest drawbacks to AR, right now, are access to technology and complexity. While there are a handful of platforms that lower barriers for participation, many exciting new applications of AR may be out of reach for many educators due to the level of technical skill required to build on many platforms.

I tend to agree with this quote. I believe that good instructional design seeks to limit extraneous load, but the extraneous load for AR is quite high  for both the creator of the content and the user. I know that I spent much more time learning the technology and trying to overcome glitches than I did developing the educational content, which is not ideal– the educational content, not the technology, should be the star of the show. Similarly, I think AR can also limit what kinds of materials we use. Trigger images have to have specific characteristics, so if the best image educationally doesn’t work technologically, you will have to use Plan B (which again, is not pedagogically ideal). I would also have some accessibility concerns, since it isn’t easily apparent to me how my above auras could be transformed into something equally accessible to all students.

Because of these experiences, I think there is a danger in AR becoming the use of technology for technology’s sake. As with all kinds of design, we must be intentional in our use of technology and in our technological choices to make sure that the technology serves to support and enhance the content and does not make it more difficult to access the content or distract from the objectives of learning.

References

ASTE 2012 Presentation (2012). Seeing more: Augmented reality. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/disruptingtheinstitution/seeing-more.

Davis, M. (n.d.). Augmented reality. Retrieved Aug 20, 2012, from http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~mcd332/Augmented.htm.

Graham, S. (2010, Nov 12). 7Scenes: Augmented reality authoring for digital storytelling. Electric Archaeology. Retrieved from http://electricarchaeology.ca/2010/11/12/7scenes-augmented-reality-authoring-for-digital-storytelling/.

Mills, M. (2012, July 19). Image recognition that triggers augmented reality. Ted Talk. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frrZbq2LpwI.

 

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