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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Cultural Storytelling

The Curation


A Reflection on the Curation

The story above can best be classified as a “long form curation.” According to Content Curation Techniques, when you pull from multiple sources and tell a narrative or a story, you’re creating a long form curation. I’m not sure you can classify my curation as “storytelling,” because it doesn’t necessarily have the beginning, middle, or end that Content Curation Techniques describes, but it is also not the “short form curation” because of the abundance and variety of sources curated to create a narrative.

Kanter’s process of curation most closely resonated with what I worked for in the above curation. She describes content curation as:

“the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme.”

Rather than present my readers with a collection of links and allowing them to draw their own conclusions, I worked to “cherry pick” the content that its “important and relevant to share,” and put the resources in context with “organization, annotation, and presentation” (Kanter, 2011).

I found that most of the sources I curated in the above story did something similar to my process and to Kanter’s process. They chose an “angle” from which to discuss the topic, and then pulled in sources and statistics and content around that theme. This is the “sense” that Kanter describes: they chose to leave some things out, and chose to include other things. Most of them also chose a “side” almost in an attempt to persuade their audience that either the millennial generation indeed deserves this reputation, or that the millennial generation is treated unfairly. A few also chose to tell the story of the middle ground, pointing out that while a few common traits can probably be identified, it usually doesn’t work to vastly generalize a large group of people into a monolithic identity. In all of these, I found that they utilized the element of conflict: they juxtaposed what is “said,” or what “people commonly believe,” against what they say is “true.”


References

Content Curation Techniques. (2013). Retrieved from http://curationtraffic.com/podcast/content-curation-techniques/

Fry, R. (2016, April 25). Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

Hess, S. (2011, June 10). Millennials: Who they are and why we hate them. TEDxSF. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/P-enHH-r_FM

Hill, C. (2016, June 21). Millennials engage with their smartphones more than they do actual humans. Market Watch. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-engage-with-their-smartphones-more-than-they-do-actual-humans-2016-06-21

Kanter, B. (2011, October 4). Content curation primer. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Main, D. (2013, July 9). Who are the millennials? Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/38061-millennials-generation-y.html 

Rose, F. (2011, March 8).  The art of immersion: Why do we tell stories? Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2011/03/why-do-we-tell-stories/

Stein, J. (2013, May 20). Millennials: The me me me generation. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/ 

Steinburg, S. (2015, August 21). Millennial vs. Boomers: Habits and characteristics. Parade. Retrieved from https://parade.com/417128/scott_steinberg/millennial-vs-boomers-habits-and-characteristics/

Tanenhaus, S. (2014, August 15). Generation nice. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/fashion/the-millennials-are-generation-nice.html?_r=0

Taylor, T.C. (2016, March 23). Workplace flexibility for millennials: Appealing to a valuable new generation. Thrive. Retrieved from https://www.adp.com/thrive/articles/workplace-flexibility-for-millennials-appealing-to-a-valuable-new-generation-3-324

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Elements of Digital Storytelling

The Stories We Tell

What’s the point?

What is a story? Since that’s not an easy question, maybe it’s simpler to talk about what a story is not. A story is not a data point, an anecdote, spectacle, or even a simple narrative (Alexander, 2011, p. 13, and McClellan, 2007, p. 69). A story is not always fiction, nor is it always nonfiction. We see stories in literature, but also in business, journalism, marketing, and certainly politics. A common theme I found as I read and collected resources on this topic is that what separates “story” from “not-story” is simple: a story has a point or a purpose (Nick Montfort in Jenkins, 2010, Part 1; Alexander, 2011, p. 13).

This “purpose” and the progression of a story often takes a similar form. In Kurt Vonnegut’s lecture (Comberg, 2010), he points out that stories usually take a character from a low point to a higher point, with some sort of critical juncture, tension, or problem along the way that must be resolved. Stories have a particular arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement (Melcher, 2012). I studied music in undergrad, and one feature of music theory that always stuck with me was the importance of dissonance. A chord expresses tension, and then when the tension is released, the music (the story) is propelled forward. Stories have a purpose or a point; non-stories lack this purpose or intention.

Stories Connect Us

Among their many purposes, stories serve a social purpose: they connect us to others. Considering music again, I had a vocal instructor who always said that you can’t sing “O Holy Night” without going for the high note (in the line “Oh night, divine”… you know which one I’m talking about), because that’s what the audience is waiting for. They’re waiting to see if you will make yourself vulnerable enough to attempt it, and then they feel fulfilled by your performance and their participation in your performance when they connect with your vulnerability. (There’s also a bit of “tension” in here too, as I think they are also waiting to see if you’ll mess it up).

McLellan (2007) explains that stories can become a conversation between the storyteller and the listeners (69). In the video by Melcher (2012), the narrator explains how researchers identified specific brain chemistry changes that occurred in response to a story. In this video, a researcher monitored the brain activity of people as they watched a story about a terminally ill child and his father. As people watched the story, the researcher observed that viewers experienced the release of specific neurochemicals associated with compassion and empathy. People who watched the video, too, were more likely to donate money or take other action as a response to the story. In other words “stories transport us into other people’s worlds” and in doing so, help us connect with others, even if we don’t know them and will never meet them (Melcher, 2012).

Digital StoriesImage of sunset that says, "Digital Storytelling: Intimate yet Participatory"

Like traditional stories, digital stories also have a point and connect us to others. In many ways, the purpose and point of stories remain the same, whether they are told orally, in writing, or using digital means. According to scholar Tom Abba, “Homo sapiens has always been a storytelling animal; so is homo digitalis” (A.C., 2015). Digital stories, then, are simply the art of telling stories with digital tools (Alexander, 2011, p. 3). 

McLellan (2007) contrasts digital storytelling with digital spectacle, explaining that, in spectacle, the audience members are observers. She continues: “By contrast, digital storytelling is far more intimate and participatory, with less flamboyance, yet with deep and lasting power. Ultimately, digital storytelling seems to reach people more profoundly than spectacle” (69). I think the core difference between digital stories and traditional stories, then, is twofold: digital stories have the potential to be more participatory, but also more intimate.

Reaching Up and Reaching Down

I envision that an oversimplification of the history of story and storytelling could be divided into three overlapping and co-mingling eras. The first era is perhaps the era before our reliance on the written word, when oral stories among small groups of people were the primary means of storytelling. In the second era, we got books, literature, mass media, film, and radio. Now, in this third era, we have digital storytelling, which as described by Alexander (2011), relies on tools like blogs, Twitter, Wikis, social images, Flickr, Facebook, Podcasts, web videos, etc. (p. 47-91).

So what separates this third era of digital storytelling from the previous two? In my second “era” of storytelling, most stories (films, books, movies, etc.) were transmitted one-way, but this new form of digital storytelling has the potential to increase the participatory nature of stories. According to Dean Jensen, before, only a select few individuals had the means to craft a story and get it out. Now, “almost anyone can create a story and get it out to a potentially unlimited audience. The fundamentals of storytelling are beginning to change” (Jenkins, 2010, Part 1). Clay Shirky explains that, in digital storytelling, we have more stories that overlap, told in multiple times, with more users actually participating in the story (Jenkins, 2010, Part 1). Barriers that the typical “storyteller” used to face are being reduced, as “digital storytelling makes it possible to capture, archive, and retrieve stories with greater ease and flexibility than ever before. And digital storytelling techniques make it possible to present and share stories with exceptional power” (McLellan, 2007, p. 73)

I think that digital storytelling also reflects a desire to return to the first era of storytelling, when the experience between audience and storyteller was more intimate. Digital storytelling is an attempt to reach “up” to reach more people and participate with wider numbers of people across broader platforms and with less linear restrictions, but it is also an attempt to reach “down” in order to connect more intimately with specific personal stories on a human level. As Lambert explains, digital storytelling is an attempt to “bring back orality in the communal circle as a core human activity” (Jenkins, 2010, Part 1).

Digital Stories and Education

Storytelling is considered “the” original form of teaching by some, and has numerous pedagogical merits. Stories were are are often used to teach us lessons, beliefs, and digital storytelling boasts many of the same benefits (Educause, 2007, p. 1).

When students are the creator of stories, they’re empowered and have the opportunity to find their own voice. This fosters “a sense of individuality and of “owning” their creations.  (Educause, 2007, p. 2). According to McLellan (2007) digital storytelling helps students develop critical transdisciplinary skills such as mastery of technology, collaboration, self-direction, personal initiative, and visual literacy, which are transdiciplinary skills necessary for student personal and academic success (p. 68).

When students are the audience of a digital story, they’re asked to participate, which taps into emotional learning as well as logical, sequential learning (Educause, 2007, p. 2). Students will be more profoundly impacted by a lesson or a topic if emotional learning is considered; if both reason and emotion are required for engagement (McLellan, 2007, p. 71). 

References

A.C. (2015, November 23). The real future of electronic literature [Web log message]. Retrieved Nov 26, 2015 from http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/11/interactive-fiction?fsrc=scn/tw_ec/the_real_future_of_electronic_literature

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

Comberg, D. (2010, August 30). Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3c1h8v2ZQ

Educause (2007, January). 7 Things you should know about digital storytelling. Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

Jenkins, H. (2010, August 23). How new media are transforming storytelling in four minutes [Web log message]. Retrieved Aug 20, 2011 from http://henryjenkins.org/2010/08/how_new_media_is_transforming.html

McLellan, H. (2007). Digital storytelling in higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(1), 65-79. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03033420

Melcher, C. (2012, October 3). Empathy, Neurochemistry, and the Dramatic Arc: Paul Zak at the Future of Storytelling 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1a7tiA1Qzo

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