In addition to the timeline, where I explain and evaluate my projects throughout this semester, I also created an infographic of a theme that I realized was very prevalent throughout each of these projects.
We just talked about visual literacy last week, but it was something that was necessary for every project this semester. Visual literacy is not a new concept that is only necessary for understanding infographics today. This was necessary all the way back when cave painting and Native American paintings were being created. For our early communication project, we had to include a key so that people could understand the symbols. And visual literacy will continue to be necessary in the future, for example, Equilibrium. Even the broadcast and the twitter project had aspects of visual literacy in them. The broadcast alluded to the assumption that everyone had some type of visual literacy when they talked about sending their listeners to their website to view pictures of the disaster and told them to interpret what was happening. Even on twitter, although it is words, there is an element of visual literacy because the posts are so short. People need to look beyond the words to truly understand what is going on. Humans will always try to convey messages through more than just human speech and because of this visual literacy will always be a concern.
Our discussion for the week of November 17th was on digital history and it’s future. The readings the discussion leaders (me being a part of the discussion team) chose to explain digital history focused on the rise and development of private and public databases. During our discussion we were only able to graze over the differences between the two, and differentiate the positive and negative aspects of each. I found it profound that access to private databases carries the perception that all sources available have more academic integrity than those provided on a public database. This sense of added academic integrity to sources is supposed to make up for the difficulty in actually finding sources for specific topics when using private databases. However, if you type any topic into Google, one gets thousands of results instantaneously. The adverse consequence of having such an abundance of different types of sources is that it calls for an increased awareness to the level of credibility each source contains. Public databases allow you to see the “good” and “bad” representations other people have attempted at representing whatever the topic is. This is where I found the dilemma between private and public databases to be interesting. It can be hard to find sources for a specific topic sometimes on private databases such as JSTOR or Academic Search Complete, so most people resort to public databases to get at least a sense of what has been written on their topic. However, not in all cases, but a majority, with the switch from a private to a public database comes the loss of credibility with sources. As I stated earlier, with public databases the user is allowed to see the “good” and “bad” representations of what has been written on their topic, so they are called to critique their sources more rigorously than if they had found the source on a private database. I call it the “Big Trade Off”. You trade in some credibility for the access to more sources.
I chose to create an infographic representing the geographic digital divide in the United States. When I conducted my preliminary research on the digital divide in the United States, I was struck by how few scholars focused on geography and population density. Understandably, they primarily studied contributing factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, income, and education levels. I decided to create an interactive map showing the percentages of households with Internet access per state, although a county-by-county map would have been more accurate. I used a gradient to highlight the geographic trends among the states. States with the smallest percentages of households with internet access are the lightest colors, while those with high percentages are the darkest. Each color represents a 5% increase in households with access. The viewer can see the exact percentage by hovering their cursor over each state.
The maps show that rural households generally have less internet access than urban households. Still, only 50%-75% of urban households have internet access. However, people living in urban areas also have greater access to internet outside of their homes. Primary factors impacting rural internet access include infrastructure and income, while income, race/ethnicity, and education level have a larger impact on urban internet access. The digital divide in America has huge implications. The digital divide makes it difficult for people without internet to access information quickly. The digital divide also impacts these people’s visual and digital literacy, affecting everything from their ability to deconstruct images in a political campaign to their ability to find a job in the 21st century–ultimately helping to reinforce income inequality.
I used Piktochart and a 2007 survey by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “State by State Internet Usage.” 2007. http://www.internetworldstats.com/am/USA_Internet_Usage_2007.pdf (accessed December 1, 2014).
Real, Brian, John Carlo Bertot, and Paul T. Jaeger. “Rural Public Libraries and Digital Inclusion: Issues and Challenges.” Information Technology & Libraries 33, no. 1 (March 2014): 6-24. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2014).
Warf, Barney. “Contemporary Digital Divides in the United States.” Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie (Journal Of Economic & Social Geography) 104, no. 1 (February 2013): 1-17. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2014).
For our final project, Jack, Emily, and I decided to make a documentary about digital identities. We decided interview UMW students and staff in order to see what people at UMW think a digital identity is and how their digital identity may differ from their “offline” identity. We conducted twelve interviews that involved about eight questions:
What is a digital identity?
How many different digital identities do you have?
-if more than 1 continue to question 3.
-if only 1, go to question 5.
Which digital identity is your least favorite?
Which digital identity is your favorite?
What is your digital identity (your favorite one) like? How would you describe it/them?
On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the same person to your real identity(personality) how similar is your digital identity to you?
Why do you make your digital identity this way?
Whom do you prefer? Your digital identity or your in person identity?
Our questions turned out to just be guide lines, however, since the interviewees tended to answer more than question within their answers. Once we had conducted our interviews, we edited the documentary together using iMovie and Final Cut Pro in the Media Lab in the ITCC. Since we had twelve interviews to go through, we could not use everyone’s answer for every question, so we picked the most unique or common answers for the final version of the documentary. We took on quite an ambitious task, and after about seven to eight hours of editing, it turned out great! We are very happy with the final product, and although the video is already sixteen minutes long, it could have been much longer.
We want to also thank Andy Rush in DTLT very much for letting us use all of the production equipment including a light kit, a lapel microphone, a camcorder, a DSLR camera, and a green screen.
The first assignment we received this semester was to convey some sort of message through an early form of communication. My group chose to use Native American symbols, from the Sioux tribe, to tell the story of our class. Each table in the classroom was assigned an animal to represent them in our project. We decided to present the message on our version of an animal skin. We glued many sheets of construction paper together and cut it into a shape similar to an animal hide. Each color we used has meaning. The background color of our ‘animal hide’ is yellow, which represents new beginnings. The outer symbols are painted in white to represent wisdom, as they represent the characteristics of the Thunderbird Nation and need to be exercised with wisdom. The inner symbols are painted in red because it represents summer and a time with no shadows, or that has clarity, as we are growing in our learning in this class together. All 5 tribes (there were 6, but one was killed) are united under the Thunderbird (McClurken). Our tribes are united in friendship as we work to weave the fabric of life together (which is knowledge). We must be wise as we do so, and that will give us bright prospects for the future. We felt it was important to convey a message that had meaning similar to how the Native Americans would have used the symbols as everything had meaning. In the end, our class did not understand the entire meaning of the symbols, which shows that communicating with early forms of communication is difficult if you do not have background information to help. You could end up coming up with a completely different understanding than what the original author intended.
The second project we were tasked with completing was Creating a radio broadcast of an event. My group chose to do a radio broadcast themed after the “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. Our broadcast begins with the song “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Suede playing. It then moves into me and Jess talking about how a city has disappeared. We end up taking phone calls into our ‘studio’. We eye witness accounts and the opinions that the other characters express get more and more ridiculous as time goes on. Our group used the program Audacity to create the recording and edit the music and the sound effects into the clip. Our project showed, one of the strengths of radio, access. In today’s world, almost anyone can have access to the radio. Radio can help spread information and it can be used to entertain. Also the use of the internet and phones allow people to spread both their thoughts and opinions, because many radio stations now have websites that they allow people to post on, as well as allowing listeners to call the station and speak on the air (the callers in our recording).
Live Tweeting a Historical Event
The third project our class completed this semester was to live tweet a historical event as if you were there. I chose to live tweet the assassination of Julius Caesar. I chose to do the assassination of Julius Caesar. I chose this event because I really wanted to use #weshouldtotallyjuststabcaesar. I did so successfully. I also thought this event would be a good idea to do, because I wouldn’t feel bad about making it funny. A lot of planning went into this project as I really had to think about what people could have said during this event. I made the event seem sort of silly, if the event had truly been live tweeted, it would not have been silly. In fact it may not have been tweeted about until after and those who participated in the actual assassination certainly would not have tweeted during the event like I did. Twitter and other social media is very important today. We have seen the use of twitter become so important in the last few months in relation to everything that has happened in Ferguson. Much of the information that we received about the situation, especially after the first few days was posted to twitter and other social media sites.
The propaganda project was probably the biggest project we did this semester. For this project we supposed to create propaganda campaign. My group chose to base our campaign on the regime in control in the movie “Equilibrium”. The movie is set in a futuristic society (it takes place in 2072) named Libria, where citizens take a drug called Prozium to suppress their emotions and foster obedience to the totalitarian regime. The regime incinerates contraband items that have the potential to stimulate emotion such as music, art, and literature. Citizens who possess contraband and do not take Prozium are known as Sense Offenders. The law enforcement, called the Grammaton Clerics, destroy contraband and execute Sense Offenders. We included a video in our project as well as posters that express the views of the regime. We had make a lot of decisions when putting together the video and the posters. The video is silent because in the world of “Equilibrium” art is banned, music falls into this category. The use of dark images helps to convey the dangers of emotions to the people who would watch this. We used quotes and screen caps from the movie to make the video with the regime that was in place. The posters center around making sure that each person is a good citizen and does not become influenced by art, whether that be music or books. There are also posters directed more towards children telling them that they should make sure to say something to someone if they see a person displaying emotions.
For our final project, we decided to make a documentary about UMW students’ thoughts and perceptions of the digital divide. While most of the people we surveyed have always had access to modern forms of technology, it was interesting to find that most if not all the students surveyed neither used school computers very often, nor had domains or blogs of their own. The only students who answered yes to having a domain were history majors, and it appears that history majors are one of the few programs at school who have taken advantage of UMW blogs on campus. It appears a self-imposed digital divide has developed amongst students at UMW. While all students have access to UMW blogs on campus, only those of us who are required to have the blogs seem to be using them (with a few exceptions of course). To gap our own digital divide, should more majors make UMW blogs a requirement?
James, Jeffrey. “The Digital Divide across All Citizens of the World: A New Concept.” Social Indicators Research 89, no. 2 (November 1, 2008): 275–82.
Warf, Barney. “Contemporary Digital Divides in the United States.” Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic & Social Geography) 104, no. 1 (February 2013): 1–17.
Carla, Katie, Lauren and I decided to make a documentary about the use of online databases and research for our final project. We started with the idea that the internet has increased access to information for research, and we narrowed our topic down from there. We decided to interview a professor who we know has done research for a book recently. We interviewed Dr. Poska from the History and Women and Gender Studies departments about her experience as an academic and as a professor with online databases. Dr. Poska talked a lot about how digitized primary and secondary sources has made her research easier because she no longer has to go to every little town to access their records (she can now research in her pajamas). As we have discussed in this class before, the internet has increased accessibility to a lot of information, and databases that offer primary and scholarly secondary sources are among the most best the internet has to offer to college students and scholars.
United States National Archives and Records Information. Case against Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. http://blogs.archives.gov/prologue/?p=8644.
Titanic (1997). Performed by Kate Winslet, Lenoardo DiCaprio. United States: 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, 1997. Film.
Titanic (1997). Music from James Horner. United States: Sony Classics, Sony Music, 1997. Soundtrack.
“Biblioteca Virtual Miguel De Cervantes.” Biblioteca Virtual Miguel De Cervantes. http://www.cervantesvirtual.com.
Derose, Steven J. “Navigation, Access, and Control Using Structured Information,” The American Archivist 60, no. 3, Special Issue on Encoded Archival Description: Part 1-Context and Theory (1997): 298-309. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40294439.
Coleman, Alison Colman. “Net.art and Net. Pedagogy: Introducting Internet Art to the Digital Art Cirriculum,” Studies in Art Education 46, no. 1 (2004): 61- 73. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3497096.
The week before Thanksgiving break, we interviewed roughly 10 people about digital identities in general and about their own digital identities. Our line up included students and staff, particularly staff members on DTLT since education technology is what they do. We even got Audrey Waters (the wrtoer who visited our class) to sit down with us for an interview. Our set up was much more elaborate than anything I had used for a project before. Andy Rush let us use the green screen in the incubator classroom, light kit, lapel microphone, tripods, a camcorder, and a DSLR camera for our documentary. It was fantastic seeing him get excited about students using all of the equipment he makes available for students to use.
We filmed for 4 days and then began to edit the documentary using iMovie. In order to share all of the video files with Jack and Emily, I had to take all of the files we transferred from the memory cards on to my back up drive and upload them to Mega. I could not use Dropbox since it would not accept more than 1 file. As I discovered, Mega gives users with their free account 50GB, which was awesome since our video files were all over 500MB.
We aren’t finished editing yet but I’m very excited to show the class what we have done for this final project.