Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Free Hugs campaign

The web site

From the creator, Juan Mann:

"I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven't compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time."

And the video (more than 50 million views):

MadV's "One World"

A YouTube collaboration of significance (reportedly generating the most responses in YouTube history, at least up to that point), involving just web cams, Sharpies and personal messages that people wanted to share with strangers:

Technology of the future ...

Some of the technological developments we have identified to watch:

Eduard Nagornyy, Google Wave: intro

Jon Perry, voice recognition: article

Ernie LeDuc, silent "talking": article

Ashley Gonder, health monitoring: article

Aida Koric, "skinput": intro

Audio projects

Here are the final versions:

"A Predicament"
by Nic Wilson, Erik Cummings, Terri Mason and Eduard Nagornyy.

"The Importance of Being Earnest"
by Alyssa Andersen, Andrew Rajigah, Rick Fisher and Geoffrey Wallace.

"A Christmas Carol"
By Ashley Gonder, Cathy Manwell, Rebecca Fraser and Ernie LeDuc.

"The Scarf"
by Henry Ortega, Jon Perry, Aida Koric and Elena Mahrt.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Fiore

The first to work in animated video.

Here is a sample, from via YouTube:

And the start of a recent piece about him (his work originally was banned from the iPhone by Apple):

Update: Since this story ran, Apple has reversed its original decision. Mark Fiore’s iPhone app is now for sale. Full post is up here.

This week cartoonist Mark Fiore made Internet and journalism history as the first online-only journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize. Fiore took home the editorial cartooning prize for animations he created for SFGate, the website for the San Francisco Chronicle.

I spoke with Fiore about his big win and plans for his business. Fiore is not on staff at the Chronicle, or anywhere else; since 1999, he’s run a syndication business, selling his Flash animations à la carte to TV, newspaper, and magazine websites for about $300 a piece. (The price varies by size of the outlet.) In a typical month, he might have about eight clients. Before 1999, he ran a similar syndication business for his print cartoons, using a lower-price-per-image, higher-volume model.

When I asked about the next phase of his business, curious if it will include a mobile element, Fiore said he’s definitely hopeful about mobile devices. “I think the iPads and anything iPod to iPhone — to maybe a product not made by Apple — will be good or could be good for distributing this kind of thing,” he said.

But there’s just one problem. In December, Apple rejected his iPhone app, NewsToons, because, as Apple put it, his satire “ridicules public figures,” a violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which bars any apps whose content in “Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory. ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

More audio resources

Crazy Dog Audio Theater
(Including this helpful piece on the basics of writing for audio theater)


Radio Drama Revival

The largest broadcasting company in the world, The BBC, still invests heavily in audio theater. Some of the best modern pieces are coming from here. There are three channels producing this kind of work:

BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4 generally offer drama and more serious fare.

While BBC Radio 7 offers sci-fi and comedy as well as other miscellaneous programs.

The Wireless Theatre Company

Example 1 from WTC (banter, character development and sound effects, including silence): The Importance of Shoes

Example 2 from WTC (language and communication): Laying Ghosts

Example 3 from WTC (framing): The Fun Tom Menace

L.A. Theatre Works (We heard a clip from its version of "Pygmalion")

The Mercury Theatre (Orson Welles's troupe, which created the infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast

"Art" by Yasmina Reza, three characters talking about a white painting,

From the Rick Emerson side project, "A.Z.," an action piece about when zombies take over the world,

Episode 6: "No Mercy"

And a big list of all sorts of radio theater on the Web

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

WSU Vancouver Research Showcase

Again, the details:

Thursday, April 15, 2010
9:00 a.m. - 8:45 p.m. in the Firstenburg Student Commons.

Highlighting Faculty and Student Research, Scholarship and Artistic Expression through posters, oral exhibits of research projects, digital artwork, and scholarly publications

This event will provide an opportunity for the campus community to celebrate the achievements of individual advancement of scholarship, research, and the arts. Nearly 100 participants will display their work throughout the day.

The School of Engineering and Computer Science invited speaker will be Terry Oliver, Chief Technology Innovation Officer for the Bonneville Power Administration (CTIO). Mr. Oliver has worked globally to advance sustainable energy and re-engage the electric utility industry in critically important research and development (R&D). He has worked for Bonneville power Administration (BPA) since 1981. Mr. Oliver led the world's largest residential conservation program and ground-breaking research in community-based conservation, designed the first Demand-Side Management programs ever undertaken by a developing country, created linkages between sustainable energy, jobs, and the local and global environment with non-government organizations throughout Asia, South Africa, and the Middle East. As Chief Technology Innovation Officer, Mr. Oliver has tripled BPA's investment in R&D. He has transformed BPA's executive and staff engagement in defining and managing a research portfolio; and he led the creation of BPA's first public and formal research agenda. Terry advises the Electric Power Research Institute, Carnegie Mellon University's Electricity Industry Center, and the Smart Grid Policy Center. Mr. Oliver's speech begins at noon. Click here to view a pdf version of the 2010 Research Showcase schedule.

The Research Showcase is free and open to the public

Contact for additional information: Tammy Bailey at
or 360-546-9159.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sound examples provided by Erik Cummings

Erik brought up these three examples that relate to our readings, edited by Cox / Warner:

Stomp! an exploration in found sounds

Team Fortress II - Gun Symphony

Joshua Bell in the subway

What are your reactions to them?

Sound studies

Hindenburg coverage with/out sound

Without sound:

With sound:

What does music look like?

Some attempts at music visualization:

The Music Animation Machine -- Beethoven's Fifth

DFR - Music Animation

Here are a few great resources to hear high-quality radio theater:

L.A. Theatre Works (We heard a clip from its version of "Pygmalion")

The Mercury Theatre (Orson Welles's troupe, which created the infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast

"Art" by Yasmina Reza, three characters talking about a white painting,

And a big list of all sorts of radio theater on the Web

Friday, April 9, 2010

History of Location Technology

In a quick graphic form, by Shane Snow, for Mashable:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Visual communication systems

Continuing our thoughts on visual communication systems that are non-alphabetic, I ran across a couple of interesting examples today in a 2007 article by Lester Olson on visual rhetoric.

Olson, L. (2007). "Intellectual and conceptual resources for visual rhetoric: A re-examination of scholarship since 1950." Review of Communication 7(1): 1-20.

In that, he mentions:

A fresco found in the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan (at one time the largest in the Americas) that showed "a rain priest walking or dancing in profile and wearing an elaborate headdress and costume." More importantly, at least for our discussion, "his speech-scroll, adorned with seashells and plants, indicates that he is praying for water and agricultural prosperity, which were highly valued in his society."

Also, Olson mentions wampum belts. Here is a separate reference I found about that:

"Important matters such as treaty agreements were likely to be marked by an exchange of Wampum belts, with designs in two colors, which thereafter served as visual reminders of the event itself, and to call to memory the arrangements agreed on" (Russel 1980: 185).

Here's one that shows an 1863 agreement between the Hurons and Jesuit missionaries.

Those obviously didn't hold up well when dominated by a heavily biased U.S. court system operating with an alphabetic bent, but does that make them inherently inferior, or simply the unfortunate system on the losing side of a major power struggle?

Reflection paper deadline extended to 04-21

Per our discussion in class on 03-31, your Research Showcase project reflection paper now can be turned in as late as 04-21, to give those participating in the WSUV Research Showcase on 04-15 a chance to include material from that experience as well.

- Prof Brett

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nonfiction remediation examples

Elena Mahrt's graphic representation of a bat call:

Jon Perry found this fascinating journalistic piece by a teenager:

"In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack."

Some fiction mixed in here, but Geoffrey Wallace found this example that mixed music and food preparation:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Research poster resources

When working on your research poster, start with these judging criteria in mind. Those should guide your design decisions, based on the content you have to support them.

Here are some helpful poster design sites:

Swarthmore College This site includes a poster gallery on Flickr and various other visual examples, plus numerous handy links. I also like the irreverent voice in which the author writes about the poster sharing process.

University of Buffalo site has many links and a straightforward explanation of the process.

The Cain Project, at Rice University, also is well done.

Here are a few recommended by the WSUV Research Showcase site (although I'm not as excited about these):

"Creating Effective Poster Presentations: An Effective Poster."
by George Hess, Kathryn Tosney, and Leon Liegel
A fairly detailed discussion about what a poster is meant to do and how to go about developing one.

"Communicating Your Research and Results Through a Poster Presentation."
by Duke University's Visible Thinking
An extremely effective discussion about creating posters, with examples and terrific suggestions. Practices what it preaches!

"Creating Posters for Humanities & Social Sciences."
by College of Arts and Sciences at Eastern Oregon University
Another looks at developing posters, but specifically aimed at humanities and social sciences scholars. Web design is circa 1996.

WSUV Research Showcase schedule

WSU Vancouver Research Showcase schedule
Thursday, April 15

9:00 a.m. - 8:45 p.m.

Highlighting Faculty and Student Research, Scholarship and Artistic Expression
All Showcase events are free and open to the public.


9:00am-5:30pm Poster and Exhibit Viewing
Firstenburg Student Commons

12:00pm-1:00pm Keynote Address: Terry Oliver
“Innovation vs. Insulation—Energy Innovation in the
Pacific Northwest”
Administration Building, Room 129/130

2:00pm-3:00pm Engineering and Computer Science Open Labs
4:15pm-5:30pm Awards Ceremony and Reception
Firstenburg Student Commons
The 2010 Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award,
Library Research Excellence Award, Best Undergraduate and
Best Graduate Student Poster/Display Awards will be
announced and recognized.

6:00pm-8:45pm Undergraduate and Graduate Student History Research
Oral Presentations
Library, Room 240

Friday, March 26, 2010

Follow-up notes from class on 3-24

Collective Intelligence:

Here is a link to the eye-opening Wired article about the writer who tried to disappear in today's ultra-connected America: Where is Evan Ratliff?

That piece inspired another set of runners, connected to the release of a new movie, called Repo Men:

"Last week, Wired, Universal Pictures, and Lone Shark Games launched an alternate reality game combined with a manhunt. It’s connected to the upcoming March 19 release of the movie Repo Men. In the futuristic movie, characters who have received replacement organs from “the Union” fall behind on payments have to go on the run from Repo Men. In the new game, four real people have gone on the run, and it is the job of the public to find them. Read More.

On American Idol as participatory culture:

Looking back at Jenkins' chapter on "Buying into American Idol," he doesn't make a specific connection between American Idol and participatory culture, but it does make sense to me, I think, as we talked about it in class. The voting certainly is participation, and by picking the people who advance, the voting certainly gets people involved in the "creation and circulation of new content." So in a broad sense, yes, it is. ... While rereading the AI chapter, I found this interesting paragraph, to further develop some of the discussions we had:

"Here's the paradox: to be desired by the networks is to have your tastes commodified. On the one hand, to be commodified expands a group's cultural visibility. Those groups that have no recognized economic value get ignored. That said, commodification is also a form of exploitation. Those groups that are commodified find themselves targeted more aggressively by marketers and often feel they have lost control over their own culture, since it is mass produced and mass marketed. One cannot help but have conflicted feelings because one doesn't want to go unrepresented, but one doesn't want to be exploited, either."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Remediation and Jenkins

Starting a list here of material related to remediation and Jenkins

Tipped to this by Michael Wesch of KSU:

Tipped to this by classmate Terri Mason:

Sketches of the story, "Alien Vs. Pooh"

Mary Poppins, like you've never thought of her:

The Rum Tum Tugger, as visualized by Andrew Lloyd Webber

The Rum Tum Tugger music video

Experiments and instruments to conduct those

Let's all just wait until the next class meeting, March 24, to begin experimentation on our research projects. I would like to test the instruments that day, which will give you a chance to refine them, before using them on test subjects. If you think you need to get started before then, to meet your deadlines, then please let me take a look at the instruments you are using via email. That way you can have a sounding board outside of your group to highlight areas of concern.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Examples of remediation

From short children's book to feature-length movie:

"Where the Wild Things Are"

(Thanks to Linda Wylie)

From book to audio / textual presentation:

"V for Vendetta"

(Thanks to Shawn Kepfer)

Electronic Behavior Control System (clip mentioned on page 103 of the course pack):

From musical performance to video game:

The Beatles RockBand video game

Beatles RockBand trailer

(Thanks to Yasha Kehn)

From video game to video / animation:

BioShock bedtime story

Once Upon a Pixel Video Game, Bioshock | Game Trailers & Videos |

(Thanks to Aaron May)

Obama on health care reform

A look at language use by President Obama to discuss health care reform (starts about 3:00):

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another great map resource

Google Earth pedagogies: Making the Most of Map Databases

From Viz. -- a Visual Rhetoric, Visual Culture and Pedagogy blog.

Forwarded to me by Dr. Rich Rice of Texas Tech University.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An example of a cellular hot spot map

Stumbled upon this map of Haiti cell coverage, which could be helpful to those working on a campus map of cellular hot spots. Thought I would share.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Avatar as Pocahontas

The mashup video by Randy Szuch:

CFV 426 - Avatar/Pocahontas Mashup FINAL VERSION from Randy Szuch on Vimeo.

Disaster coverage via mobile devices

Professor Sree Sreenivasan (@sreenet) of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and contributing editor at discusses the impact of new media with Daljit Dhaliwal.

Video from just minutes after the quake, by a former music editor for The Source Magazine and Vibe, Erik Parker, who captured this on an iPhone and uploaded it to YouTube.

More from Parker:

Examples of traditional news operations responded to Haiti, through social media:

CNN's Tweet collection

Reuters list

Twitter's Haiti Feed

Global Voices Online -- "aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore."

Global Voices' coverage of Haiti
Global Voices' coverage of Chile

How an iPhone helped to save this American filmmaker's life:


From the March 3 Washington Post:

"Authorities said hundreds of people are feared to have drowned. All told, the death toll in the quake stands at 795, with about 2 million people left homeless.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Santiago on Tuesday bearing satellite phones and the promise of extensive additional assistance."

From the Feb. 27 Huffington Post:

"The U.S. Geological Survey says eight Haitian cities and towns – including this capital of 3 million – suffered "violent" to "extreme" shaking in last month's 7-magnitude quake, which Haiti's government estimates killed some 220,000 people. Chile's death toll was in the hundreds.
By contrast, no Chilean urban area suffered more than "severe" shaking – the third most serious level – Saturday in its 8.8-magnitude disaster, by USGS measure. The quake was centered 200 miles (325 kms) away from Chile's capital and largest city, Santiago.
In terms of energy released at the epicenter, the Chilean quake was 501 times stronger. But energy dissipates rather quickly as distances grow from epicenters – and the ground beneath Port-au-Prince is less stable by comparison and "shakes like jelly," says University of Miami geologist Tim Dixon."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nazi rhetoric and remediation

This clip from the film "Downfall" has generated many remediated parodies on a variety of topics, including the Apple Cup in 2008, right after the Cougs surprise victory (which made them only the second worst team in college football history); if you are a Cougar fan, I think you'll find this to be quite clever:

Another remediation example relating to Nazis; see visual references to "Triumph of the Will" (as well as Busby Berkeley). ... From Mel Brooks' "The Producers." The two main characters in this piece try to oversell shares in a Broadway musical as part of a scam. The show is supposed to be so bad that it will close immediately, and the guys can skip town with the investors' money. But they need a piece that absolutely will flop. They think they find the perfect script: "Springtime for Hitler."

Here are some examples from the political / commentary sector:

From (Aug. 6, 2009):

"Over 10 years in Congress, U.S. Rep. Brian Baird has stayed tethered to his district, flying back to Southwest Washington for more than 300 sometimes-bruising town hall meetings during Congressional recesses.
But this year, he's literally decided to phone it in.
Instead of appearing in person, where "extremists" would have "the chance to shout and make YouTube videos," Baird said Wednesday, he's holding what he calls "telephone town halls" instead.
Baird said he's using the new system because he fears his political opponents may be planning "an ambush" to disrupt his meetings, using methods Baird compared to Nazism.
"What we're seeing right now is close to Brown Shirt tactics," Baird, D-Vancouver, said in a phone interview. "I mean that very seriously."

"Star Wars Uncut"

"You and 472 other people have the chance to recreate Star Wars: A New Hope. Below is the entire movie split up into 15 second clips. Click on one of the scenes to claim it, film it, and upload it. You can have up to three scenes! When we're all done, we'll stitch it all together and watch the magic happen."

"Star Wars Uncut"

An example of both remediation and participatory culture, which we will discuss later in Jenkins --

Star Wars: Uncut Trailer from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

What's your favorite scene so far? Why?

All about the Eyeborg ...

Per my mention last week: Eyeborg

I will bring the original article this Wednesday.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Schell on "experience design" in games

Jesse Schell has taught game design and led research projects at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center since 2002. His recent talk at the DICE conference covers a lot of ground, offering fascinating insights into the future of gaming, technology business models and, in particular, "experience gaming," or games that mix with the real world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ways in which mobile technology is changing us

A few examples of how mobile technology has opened up new ways in which we can experience the world:

Amsterdam RealTime, collected over two months in 2002; click on "view map"

Kim Possible, a new attraction at Disney World that incorporates mobile technology.

Cell Stories, a daily story delivered to cell phones ... and only cell phones.

23rd and Union, a locative experience based on a particularly interesting street corner in Seattle.

Parallel Kingdom, a mobile location based massively multiplayer game that uses your GPS location to place you in a virtual world on top of the real world.

Also, mobile technology can subvert media and government monoliths:

This footage, shot with a mobile phone, of a young woman in Iran, Neda Salehi, protesting the questionable elections there in June of 2009:

Her death, but also this footage, turned her into a martyr around which the Iranians have rallied for dramatic changes in their government.

Technology on the way:

Look past the thin surface of this video promo piece for mixed reality, and what do you see?

And this sort of research is being done at the University of Washington, by Babak Parviz, with computer-enhanced contact lenses:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Students helping students -- Think about it. What can you do?

New video produced by Michael Wesch, a national professor of the year, and students of Kansas State:

"Created by the Spring 2010 Class of Digital Ethnography to get the word out about K-State Proud, an organization that helps students help students."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

WSUV research showcase

Read all about it, here!

First step is to create the abstract.

"Abstract Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be no more than 250 words, and should include the following elements:

Purpose of project and goals/objectives
Brief project description
Results (if appropriate)
Submit your abstract through the online Submission Form. Submission deadline is March 1 by 5 p.m."

You group will need to send me a copy of this draft abstract by Feb. 17 to earn your Prompt 1 points. Please send that to, with all of the names of your team members.

Censorship of Snow White, use of the word "retard," offensive poster at Kelso High?

It has been a busy week for symbol-analytic discussions in the Northwest, related to topics relevant to our class.

Here are a couple of links we will talk about Wednesday:

Kirkland Elementary alters Snow White

Rahm Emanuel / Rush Limbaugh using the word "retarded"

Limbaugh: “Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards,” Rush said, adding that Rahm’s meeting yesterday with advocates for the mentally handicapped was a “retard summit at the White House.”

Palin responds

Washington Post column on the term "retardation"

Poster in Kelso gym sends wrong message?

Response from the Longview Daily News

Friday, January 29, 2010

Server space at WSUV

Per our discussion on Wednesday, here are the details for getting access to your own server space via WSU Vancouver's DTC program (please thank Dr. Grigar for this service, if you use it).

Anyone enrolled in a DTC class this term will have 15 gigs available to them. To upload material to that server, open up your FTP client (Cyberduck for Mac, Filezilla for PC) and connect to the domain:

Log in: first initial of your first name + last name (e.g. dgrigar)
Password: The last 4 digits of your Student ID

From there, it's a similar process to moving files around on your local computer. In Filezilla, for example, you will see a list of local files on the left-hand side of the screen and places to put those files on the DTC server on the right. Just highlight where you want the file to go on the right and then double-click on the left. You should see the file appear in the new spot as well as remain in the old.

Please try this out and bring questions about the process to class on Wednesday. Thanks!

- Prof Brett

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

David Sedaris on language and symbols

This David Sedaris audio excerpt, from a piece called "Six to Eight Black Men," provokes thoughts about language, stereotypes, foreigners, small talk, onomatopoeia and traditions, including the stories we pass down from generation to generation. And it is really funny.

Memory exercise on video

Alyssa Andersen
Erik Cummings
Rick Fisher
Rebecca Fraser
Ashley Gonder
Aida Koric
Ernest Leduc
Elena Mahrt
Cathy Manwell
Terri Mason
Eduard Nagornyy
Henry Ortega
Jon Perry
Geoffrey Wallace
Nicolas Wilson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Full pdf of "The Medium is the Massage"

Ran across this posting of a full pdf version (we are reading just a portion) of "The Medium is the Massage" by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore. If you want to look over the rest of it, try here: "The Medium is the Massage".

Did You Know 4.0

An "official update to the original 'Shift Happens' video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist. For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit and"

Created by XPlane consultants, based in Portland, OR.

A Vision of Students Today

This video -- created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University -- suggests that modern classrooms need to evolve with the times and technology.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Opening survey

Please take this quick survey to help us get to know each other better. Thanks!


- Prof Brett

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcome to Language, Texts and Technology!

This blog will be a clearinghouse for all of the basic material related to our spring 2010 class at Washington State University Vancouver. It will be essential for you to check here regularly to access your assignment instructions and keep up with current events related to our discussions. I recommend that you "follow" this blog, by clicking on the button on the bottom right of the page, which will alert you when new content is posted.

I will be using Twitter, too, to share links of interest, and the Google group, linked to the right, will be incorporated in our asynchronous class discussions. It is most convenient with Google to have a gmail account, so I highly recommend getting one of those and a Twitter account.

I highly recommend that you "follow" me on Twitter at @ProfBrett. If you want to follow my other Twitter account as well, which focuses more on mobile and new media, and is optional, that is at: @BrettOppegaard.

Looking forward to a great semester,

- Prof Brett