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The end of the semester

December 10th, 2011 December 10th, 2011
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On Tuesday, we did an exercise that was familiar to all of us in Info Age: we got into groups, defined the “Information Age,” and shared what we decided. It was familiar because it was the first thing we did as a class, fifteen weeks ago, when a lot of us didn’t know each other and had no clue what the Information Age was or what defined it. Fifteen weeks ago, Brian Winston wasn’t enough to make us groan and most of us had never made infographics before–never mind full documentaries. So Tuesday was the same, but it was also different. As a class, we acted silly, cracked jokes, and went on tangents, but we did so in a way that furthered the class discussion and got us all involved in the discussion. We all pulled from what stood out the most to us over the course of the semester; for my group, that was the Vannevar Bush article from the beginning of the semester.

Dr. McClurken said in class that he was proud of everything we had done over the course of the semester, and when he stated it all out–shaping the class, student-led discussion both in person and on that crazy website Reddit, and making an infographic and then eventually a documentary (!), I realized that it really was a lot to do in one semester, and that it was such a huge experience–and I’m proud of us too. I’m so grateful that I got to be a part of it, and not only because I got to see an early 20th century bodybuilder and an enormous hockey stick-wielding polar bear, but because I learned so much about not only the history of information technologies, which I expected from the class, but also the world around me today. I’m so glad I took this class!!

Week 15? DS106 Documentary

December 2nd, 2011 December 2nd, 2011
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This week, we continued to work on our final project documentary. As we’ve previously mentioned, we’re doing our project on DS106. This week, Joe and Caitlin interviewed Charlie, Joe drove out to Richmond to interview Tom Woodward and Caitlin and I interviewed Martha Burtiss in DTLT. Our interview with Ms. Burtiss was today, and now I want to take DS106! It sounds like an amazing class. While interviewing Ms. Burtiss, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the early iterations of DS106 and Info Age: despite the differing fields of study, both courses have been interactive, had revolutionary (for me, anyway) levels of student involvement and power (including coming up with assignments!) and ended up being very different than we’d necessarily thought it would be. Like DS106, I think Info Age is going to continue to grow and change as new groups of students take the class and shape it, and might eventually even develop the sort of cult following/online community DS106 is known for.

Week 14

November 26th, 2011 November 26th, 2011
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This past week, Claire and I led discussion on copyright and “copywrongs.” It went incredibly well–the class took the discussion and ran with it, discussing the ins and outs of copyright, patents, and licensing. Several people mentioned having enjoyed the reading, even though it was fairly dense. Claire and I had planned a class activity on infographics, as well, because part of our week was meant to be discussing that, but the reading discussion went so well we ran out of time to implement it.  All in all, that seemed to me to be a resounding success!

Also this week, we continued working on our final project for Info Age, which will be the documentary on DS 106, a Digital Storytelling class taught through UMW. We’re going to be talking about the class itself, and the various “generations”–the first generation, taught by an assistant professor within the Computer Science department, differed greatly from later “generations:” later generations were taught by computer savant/tech genius Jim Groom, from DTLT at Mary Washington. From its original iteration as a class within the Computer Science department, it’s become a huge multi-user opensource website (a “massive open online course,” or MOOC) and program that has participants from all over the globe visiting the site, ds106.us, posting, and participating in the discourse. We’ll be tracing its evolution and how it became such a massive platform, and examine various aspects of the question of how it fits into a Computer Science education.

 

 

Week 12: First Documentary Finished!

November 20th, 2011 November 20th, 2011
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This past week we finished up our documentary and presented it to the class. Originally, we were planning our documentary such that we would have narration throughout, but we wound up not necessarily needing to, and decided that it was a less elegant solution anyway — that is to say, that it is more difficult to make audio narration sound elegant and professional. Our interviews wound up being comprehensive enough that we did not need to have narration providing the introduction, conclusion, and transitions. Our full story arc was depicted through the interviews, so we ended up using the narration at the end, as a sort of postscript, to fill in factual gaps such as what a card catalog is and when card catalog to digital catalog changes occurred. We decided to still have the narration because a lot of research went into it, and we felt it was valuable enough that even if we did not have it throughout the paper, we certainly wanted to include it. Overall, the documentary project was a lot of fun. It was definitely more work and more time-consuming than any of the previous projects, but it wound up being the one that was most unusual and novel for all of us in my group. AND–drumroll please!–we have decided to do a documentary for our final project, which will be on a class that was actually taught at UMW and wound up being a really unique class.

Week 11 / Documentary!

November 12th, 2011 November 12th, 2011
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This week we continued work on the documentary. We filmed several interviews, including Caitlin & Joe’s interview of Rosemary Arneson, and Caitlin’s & my interviews of Charles Balthis and Carolyn Parsons. The interviews with Mr. Balthis and Mrs. Parsons were fascinating–Mr. Balthis has been a cataloger at UMW since 1969, and we discussed the transition from card to digital catalogs with him on Wednesday. When he went to Library School in 1967-8, Mr. Balthis says that there was no sense of a transition to bed had anytime in the near future. However, by the 70s, Mr. Balthis was involved in helping with the transition. We discussed an entirely different set of material with Mrs. Parsons; although by the time she went to Library School in the mid-1980s, card catalogs were already mostly phased out, Mrs. Parsons nonetheless has some interesting experience with them. She currently works with the Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books at UMW, for which card catalogs are still used. Caitlin and I had an excellent chance to go over the ups and downs of card catalogs (and see some fascinating pictures of card catalogs at Mary Washington!) while meeting with Mrs. Parsons. Overall, those were both excellent and very productive interviews. Ashley has got much of our narration nailed down already, so we’re well on our way to an excellent & fascinating documentary!

Card Catalogs to Digital Catalogs: A Transition

November 8th, 2011 November 8th, 2011
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My group’s topic is the shift from card catalogs to digital catalogs in libraries, with a focus on its effect on librarians.

 

PRELIMINARY SOURCES

Title Searches in an Online Catalog and a Card Catalog (Ebscohost)

Online Catalogs and Library Portals in Today’s Information Environment (Ebscohost)

Card Catalog Conversation  (Ebscohost)

Catalogs and Catalogers: Evolution Through Revolution  (Ebscohost)

Catalog Dependency  (Ebscohost)

The Card Catalog Mentality or We Have Always Done it This Way  (Ebscohost)

Deciding the Future of the Catalog in Small Libraries  (Ebscohost)

Card Catalog to Com  (Ebscohost)

 

PRELIMINARY AUDIOVISUAL SOURCES

Audiovisual sources will be solely B-roll that we record and footage of interviews; no external audiovisual sources are going to be used.

 

PRELIMINARY OUTLINE

Introductory Image

Narrator establishes what a card catalog is, introduces topic (B-roll plays)

Interview (some B-roll, some interview footage)

– discussing using current catalog system

Narrator establishes when the transition began taking place (B-roll plays)

Interview (some B-roll, some interview footage)

– personal details of transition

Narrator addresses how the personal transition of the interviewee related to the overall transition

Narrator addresses how it affected librarians personally

Interview (some B-roll, some interview footage)

– how it affected that librarian personally

Narrator synthesizes and concludes

Closing graphic

 

Week 10 – The Documentary Work begins!

November 4th, 2011 November 4th, 2011
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This week we actually started to work on fleshing out the documentary project. Caitlin, Joe, Ashley and I are doing our documentary on the shift from physical card catalogs in libraries to “digital catalogs,” and how that change has affected historians–both librarians and those visiting libraries. We had to tighten our topic up a bit, due to the fact that Kyle’s group had already chosen a topic with which we could have potentially overlapped. We were able to avoid that though!

We’re going to have our documentary be a mix of narration and interviews. The narration will provide the introduction, conclusion, transitions, and necessary facts and data. The interviews will be used to provide individual experiences and to add some color to the story, as well as to further personalize it to Mary Washington’s switch to digital catalogs.

We were concerned about finding a card catalog we could film B-roll of, but this week we found out that UMW has card catalogs for some of its special holdings which we can film–a lucky break. We’ll be using B-roll during narration, as well as for smooth transitions when switching from narration to interviews, and to provide a change of “scenery” during interviews.

Overall, it should be a fun project!

Week 9 – Advertisement

October 28th, 2011 October 28th, 2011
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We presented on our advertisement this week, and explained to the class how each of us came to the decisions we did vis a vis the advertisement. For me, that involved discussing my thought process and how I analyzed the advertisements we looked at in order to decide on fonts and stylistic elements to include in the ad.

In choosing ads to focus on, I looked exclusively at a couple that seemed illustrative of ads from the 1930s and 40s, both of which come from The F Word blog.

Because the fonts employed in the image on the right were unique–i.e., did not appear in other ads from the time–I chose to mimic the fonts used in the advertisement on the left. Stylistically, the image on the right was otherwise more representative of the majority of the advertisements. A rounded, darker bubble highlighting the headline text was quite common, as was repetition of the word “Skinny.” The fonts I chose for the body of the text was the closest I could find to the serifed, old-style font used in both of these (and in many of the other) advertisements. The style of headings in a bolder font and the non-emphasized words in the headline being in a bolder font were also mimicked from these and other advertisements.

Week 8: Advertisement redux!

October 21st, 2011 October 21st, 2011
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This week we finished up and polished our advertisement. With our advertisement written and font-formatted, we spent the week delving into images to find ones that fit with the imagery used in our reference ads. Caitlin had several old family photos that fit the bill perfectly, so we took a look at those and figured out which ones we wanted to use. This last portion fell mostly under Caitlin’s section of the work division, which was handy because this last part involved working intensively with Photoshop, at which Caitlin is a master and the rest of us are mediocre-to-okay. We started off the image selection with a picture of a relative of Caitlin’s giving a really cheesy smile, and Caitlin isolated his head and made him a grinning “floating head” à la 1940s-50s ads. With that hallmark of period advertisements down, we moved on to establishing the individuals being advertised to/about. Because our ad targeted men, we decided to use a picture of Caitlin’s great-uncle–a skinny young man at the time the photo was taken–as the chief image. To reinforce that ideal, and in a reverse of the imagery of men watching a young woman in a female weight gain ad we looked at, we also added a picture of the stereotypical American girl–also a relative of Caitlin’s, a great-aunt perhaps?–sitting in a field with a dog. Overall, in my opinion the images we chose–and even more so, how they were altered to represent 1940s and 50s ads–wound up fitting our assignment perfectly!

Week 7 – Skinny guys don’t get the girl!

October 14th, 2011 October 14th, 2011
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This week, we’ve been spending a great deal of time working on the group projects due after Fall Break. This project assignment is to create a print advertisement for an historic product. My group–Joe, Caitlin, Ashley, and I–decided to create a weight-gain advertisement from the 1940s. Our focus in creating this advertisement will be less on the product itself and more on newspaper advertisements of this type from that period. This is because we wanted to emphasize the technology of communication, the advertisement, over the product advertised, since it wasn’t really a technology of the type that we’re focusing on. To that end, we have been looking at weight-gain ads from the period and analyzing specific aspects in order to recreate them in as historically accurate a manner as possible.

In order to make sure we can cover our bases, we split the project up roughly. Joe agreed to do the research on the product itself; Ashley to write the copy for the ad; me to format the advertisement in terms of background, spacing, and fonts; and Caitlin–as the person with by far the most Photoshop experience–to synthesize our work. We’re going to be working in separate layers, with each person having at least one layer to work in, so that we can make changes without causing changes to others’ work.

Because the majority of the advertisements we were looking at were geared towards women, and only two were geared towards men, we decided to create one that was geared towards men.


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