It’s over. Go home!

The past 4 days has been the longest 8 years of my life. It was a lot of work getting my final story done, and some of it (lookin’ at you, GIF) didn’t actually need to be done. I like to think it added to my story, though. I hope.

The Secret World of Arriet-flea | Five Final Tutorials

I think I can safely say that this is one of the most challenging courses I’ve ever taken. I can’t believe how stupid I was coming into this class thinking, “Oh, it’s just a 100-level class, it’ll be easy!” I’d been really kicking myself after the first week. It’s always hard to get adjusted to a new course, especially one that’s online. I’d consider myself an online-classinista; I’ve been taking online courses for something like 5 or 6 years now, but I’ve never had one like DS106. This was a HUGE challenge, but at the same time, it was refreshing.

SO!!! REFRESHING!!!

If I were to take this class a second time… I’d tell myself to have more fun. With a lot of my assignments, I set the bar way too high for myself, or I was too much of a perfectionist in trying to achieve what I saw in my mind’s eye. I’d want to remind myself that the class isn’t “Graphic Design 480” or whatever. It’s Digital Storytelling – STORYTELLING! Tell the damn story!

I’d also tell myself to pick a blog theme with a regular sized font. Once a week for the past 5 weeks I’ve gone deep into this crazy CSS and tried changing the font sizes for every little thing. I go to check if my changes have taken… and nothing. So I give up! Then the next day when I’m previewing a post I’m working on, my font is small and everything looks crazy. So what’s the truth, WordPress? How long does it take CSS changes to stick? My font is TOO BIG!

Of course there were a lot of technical things I learned in the past 5 weeks, like how to make a GIF using GIMP, and how much my computer hates gif attempts that go over 50 frames. For some reason though, I kept making 50+ frame gifs, especially in my goof gif post where I ended up including two Parks and Rec bloopers all gif-ified. I also like to think I got pretty good at navigating Audacity, after having to use it not only for week 3 but for weeks 4 and 5 too! I was hesitant to use my own voice in a recording, but one of the audio posts I like the most is my college radio ad one. I’m glad we had to make so many audio posts in week 3 to get us used to using whatever program we had. It’s like having to know how to walk before you can run – you need the whole foundation there!

However, I think that once all is said and done, I got better at using digital media to tell stories. This class is digital storytelling, after all. In week 2, reading the Vignelli Canon really opened my eyes to what I had been doing wrong. One of the things that stood out to me was the emphasis on intent. If the intent behind a design is clear, the design itself will make sense. This translates to storytelling using digital media. Before, I was posting whatever I made and saying, “Look at this.” After having read Vignelli, I understood that I needed to clarify why there was a reason to look, or at least why I made it.

I feel like I may have learned the most from week 3’s material on audio storytelling. I listen to podcasts and radio stories a lot, but the way they told their stories had never crossed my mind. (I’d say it’s like Vignelli says – a design done well is one that you don’t notice at all!) One of my favorite clips from the week was Dissecting Joanne Rosser, Papermaker. It was short and fun to listen to, and it helped me learn how to really listen to how sound helps carry the narrative along. I listened to that a couple times while I was working on my summary of the TED Talk about the robo-seals and the Moon Graffiti story.

Throughout the course, I definitely got reminders that not everything I make is gonna be good. Some of it is just gonna be crap. Some people won’t know what the hell it is, and sometimes it’ll be my fault for not telling its story! I made it all the way to week 5 before making the worst thing I’ve ever made, and I still put that in my final project.

But enough about stuff I made that sucks. One thing I made that I really love is my sticky note gif! This was another assignment that should have been quick but ended up taking WAY longer than it should, because of my issues with GIMP. But I really love that gif, regardless of the flaws that still show in the final product. I think my mom shared it on her facebook. I also really like all the things I did for my final project that aren’t the video. That video will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Anyway, that’s it for me. Blog over. Bye-bye. Thank you to everyone! 🙂

 

 

Week 4: Not for procrastinators.

Okay, well I didn’t really procrastinate the entire week… just Monday and Tuesday, and then we got hit with a poopstorm of unpredictable events. An emergency doctor’s appointment (all good now), an internet outage, and I fell down the stairs. It sucked. One of the assignments I had originally planned on doing was Where do your shoes take you?, but damn it if I didn’t roll my ankle at the bottom of the stairs and have a black and blue foot now. I’m sure a 90-something second video of me limping my way through life is not the most entertaining thing, though I admit it would have made for a good story.

Young Frankenstein is on Netflix now!!!! FRONKENSTEEN

But yeah, I did put stuff off on Monday and Tuesday, and it came back to bite me in the butt this weekend. I think I did okay on my assignments, but I know that I could have and probably would have done better if I had started on Monday instead of taken the day off to binge watch 30 Rock for the nth time. Side note: if Jack Donaghy ran NBC, would he let that Alex Jones interview air? Would Kenneth? Ugh. I also wonder what Jack’s reaction would have been to this past general election. He’d probably lose it. Same here Jackie D.

ANYWAY! This week’s material was REALLY fun – I really like picking apart movies, even if I might come to a totally wrong and dumb conclusion. If Roger Ebert had seen some of the things I’ve said about some big name movies, he’d probably be like, “oh my god, the poor girl’s simple.” But practice makes perfect, right? I’d like to try his technique of watching movies with lots of people and dissecting whatever scene someone chooses. What I said in my post about the Kids in the Hall sketch might be totally different from what someone else would think, and that’s pretty cool. Sure, there might be some really wrong interpretations, but there are also interpretations that are just different, and those are the ones I’m interested in.

I really loved watching everyone’s videos this week. Some of them were very personal, and some were really light hearted. I think with mine I stayed a little guarded, and having seen what everyone else was willing to share, I feel like a bit of a hermit-y bridge troll now. Below is a gallery of some comments I left for my classmates 🙂 In order, the comments are to Kirstyn, Jenna, George, and De.

Week 3: Audio… fun but frustrating

Assignment links:

I had a lot of fun with this week’s assignments. I did however have to cram them all into the weekend because I got caught up with the DELUGE OF POLITICAL NEWS! Not only American, but oh boy, that UK snap election. I’m glad that I’m seeing other people admit to C-SPAN addictions too, because I’ve been setting my alarm to wake up for those early morning intelligence and judiciary committee hearings since March. Release. the. peepee. tape.

 

Lmao. As if that’s the worst thing they’ve got.

Anyway! Onto this week’s actual stuff. Like I said, I had a lot of fun making the audio clips that I did. I made everything with Audacity, but even though I used the same program each time, that’s not to say I didn’t struggle. I can tell from some of the comments I’ve gotten that I have a volume problem. Some sounds were too quiet, some were too loud. I’m not really surprised about that, but I am disappointed that my volume problem was that obvious. I spent a lot of extra time trying to tweak the volume of each individual track so that nothing sounded too loud or too quiet to my own ears (through earbuds), but something still went wrong on my end!

Working with volume was one of my biggest issues this week. I don’t know if that’s important on a grander scale because hearing is not an objective experience – some people have super-hearing, others might be partially deaf. So my task as a person who creates audio is to make something where all of the sounds can be heard, but if you have to turn the volume up to hear the overall recording, there isn’t a single particular noise that ends up hurting your ear. So complicated.

Looking at other blogs this week, I noticed that everyone else gives a description of the assignment that they chose, as well as a star rating. I’ve just been linking to it like a total moron. I’ve written about why I chose the assignment, but I don’t think I described the requirements and star rating of the assignment itself. Additionally, a lot of people are being really clear about what program they’re using to make the things that they make. I don’t know why, but I keep assuming that the reader will just know. I have screenshots of my process, which include the program I used, but that obviously doesn’t count as much as “I USED AUDACITY!”

It’s tough to give comments that are more than just perfunctory “good job! I love it!” I have a real problem with giving constructive criticism. This week I only managed 4 comments. They were in response to Jenna’s Dear Jolene…, De’s One Last Breath Before She Goes., Mila’s Hearing Double, and K’s On The Radio.

My overall feel for the week: I thought it would be easy to do audio stuff. I was wrong. I’ve eaten my words 100 times over. At least it was fun. Additionally, the WordPress update made my blog’s text enormous again after 1 week of normal sized text. I don’t know what to do with my life anymore.

Shoutout to De for her kickass Weekly Summary style – I thought I’d try her format this week 🙂

Week 2: Design… is hard.

Assignments:

This week was tough. There was a lot of ground to cover, and a WHOLE lot of reading/viewing/listening material to take in. I was a little overwhelmed. My biggest mistake was waiting too long to complete the design blitz – I know I could have done better if I had started earlier instead of putting it off until the last minute.

This week I’m still trying to make clear the intent behind the things that I’ve made (thank you Vignelli for really bringing it home that if the purpose behind the design isn’t communicated, it’s probably a bad design). I’m working on trying to put stories to the images that I’m creating – I think the best “story” so far that I’ve done is from my Minimalist Movie Poster post in that it reads like a story. Some others read like food blog posts that I hate… rambling for a few paragraphs before the real party – the recipe and the pictures. I think the biggest missed opportunity this week was my Are We There Yet? image. I could have written something that sounds like a scary story that people post online about hearing rustling in the woods, so they put out a trailcam, and… wow, holy crap, there’s a goblin person with bad posture out there!!!

On a more technical level, I really had some issues this week with gifmaking. In the first assignment, Streamclip would crash after giving me 51 frames every single time. Always 51 frames. In the second, I couldn’t work out how to make GIMP export the gif I had edited to have frames with different durations (eg. the second to last frame was edited to be 1.2 seconds long and the last was meant to be 0.7 seconds. When I played it in the preview window it was fine, but when I exported it, all the frames had the same length.) It was frustrating.

I tried to come out of my shell this week and comment on other people’s blogs instead of just replying to comments on my own, too. Last week I think I only replied to comments that people made on my own posts – I’m really very shy, so commenting on other people’s things is a pretty big deal for me. Big thank you to my peers in this class for being so friendly and making such good work – even if I was scared to comment, the final products were so good I just had to say something 🙂

The first two are comments to Jenna on her posts  Star Donuts and Harry Potter and… Jenna, and the third is to De on her post I put my hand out and they swing.

Week in review… did I live up to my blog title?

Spoiler: I don’t think so. It’s been more like “I’ll show you a picture, and leave you confused.” Aaah!

It’s been a long week. Setting up the blog itself and connecting everything was something of a logistical nightmare… I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so many tabs open. I was hesitant at first to sign up for so many things and to have a bigger web presence. I’m not even active on Facebook, so suddenly registering for flickr and Soundcloud and making a Gravatar and connecting them all was a huge mental block that I had to get over. I hope I have everything connected correctly. My posts show up on the DS106 Blogs feed, so maybe I’m safe! The hardest part of it all was picking a URL. I like to think I got creative with mine.

I spent quite a long time working on customizing my blog. I’ve used WordPress before for a few other classes, so it wasn’t too bad. I’m just very picky! I’m happy with the theme, the background, and the colors. The font will be the death of me, though. Do you see how huge this font is? I tried to edit the CSS and everything to change the font size, but I’m no coder. I’m just a dingdong with a huge font.

What I’ve realized (through Prof. Polack’s comments) is that in my work, I’ve been spending more time looking at the how did I do this? rather than why did I do this?, and it’s the why that is the crucial point of storytelling. Storytelling is communication, and as it’s mentioned in this week’s video courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art, we’re in a new age of communication. The digital world is prime for storytelling, even if the conduit for the story is a 16x16px sprite of a weird looking purple cat.

I made the mistake in that post of not explaining why I made the sprite and instead choosing to detail only how it was done. I made the sprite because Animal Crossing is important to me. It’s something comforting, like putting on pajamas and having some hot cocoa. Bob is one of the most recognizable characters and one of the most popular villagers to have, and I’ve been his “neighbor” for years. We’re like friends, except he’s not real. Other people have other favorite villagers, and when they move away it’s kind of like losing a best buddy. In making the pixel art of Bob being Bob-ish, I think I was trying to communicate how important that game is to me. I’ve made a lot of friends because of it, and when I get to play with them it makes me feel like throwing my arms up and relaxing like that cool cat.

The same is true for my Crappy Font post. Why did I choose to redo the Washington Post as Neopets? I regret making it, because swapping WaPo with Neopets makes it seem like I think the Washington Post is as credible a news source as Neopets. I literally only made it because I thought it would be funny to see the title in the goofy Neopets font. There was no underlying “it’s fake news” agenda here. Just good old, “haha, remember Neopets?” The things that I make need to be explained. They have a story, or rather, the visuals are the story, but I’m the only one that knows the full context of why they exist.

One of the Daily Creates that I made this week referenced political events in its center panel. I do think that as we move forward in the class, some of the things I create might be more influenced by or reflective of current events. The Crappy Font post could be interpreted as political, but I’d really rather it not be. (The intent should have been made clear.) There are opinions of mine that have come through in my work, but obviously that hasn’t happened in the majority of the assignments. Many of them are context-free mysteries, and I need to fix that.

Overall, I feel like I probably didn’t meet the requirements for the week. My writeups for the Visual Assignments were lacking. As proud as I was of the things I made, I neglected to explain why I made them and what effect I wanted them to have. Some of them may have the opposite effect that I wanted, and the effect that I did want was never articulated. I do have trouble explaining why I made something that I’ve made, which will probably dog me for the duration of this class. I sometimes expect that people will just get the story or the message that I’m trying to send, and this week it’s been clear that that isn’t the case.