Too Late

“Running……………….Ruunning

……………….Bitttten—-…——fight……fightiiiiing..[][

Turning………………………………..Tuurninnng…/\\

…\\\\BRAAAAAAAINNSSSSSSS\][d…”

How did reading that feel? What did you think was happening?

Chances are good that the above passage did not give you warm fuzzy feelings. Chances are also good that you may have felt confused and  frightened. But to what degree did you feel these things? Reading the above passage may have given you a passing idea of what it feels like to lose all sense of self and slowly turn into the walking undead, but it probably didn’t fully immerse you nor did it give you the best understanding of this process…not like a visual story does.

“Too Late” is the story of one man and his short two minute journey into the depths of zombification, but with a slight, darkly humorous twist. Before you get freaked out by the very thought of witnessing a first-person account of changing into a zombie, remember this: it’s just make-believe. Everything you see is made possible through Hollywood special effects. So go ahead, give it a shot. Then check out my critique below using Jason Ohler’s assessment traits.

Trait Description Critique
Economy Was the information presented through the story sifted, prioritized and told without bird walking or detours, as described in Part III? The story takes off right away with a sense of urgency and mystery as we see a young man running frantically. It isn’t for long that we realize he is running home to treat a mysterious wound. The story progresses quickly with his physical appearance transforming over a series of choppy imagery. Instantly we see that this is a story of zombification. The mystery of the story reappears once the answering machine audio turns on, and we begin to wonder more about this man who has changed into a zombie. Within seconds, our previous perspective gets flipped upside down once we realize he’s no zombie, he’s just dressed in zombie makeup. Each scene of this story has been carefully selected and crafted to confuse, intrigue, and frighten the viewer. The flow of these scenes is presented choppily in order to keep the story moving at a rapid pace – the same pace that matches the frantic mood of our subject. The climax of the story ends in the same flurry of confusion, intrigue, and fright until the resolution of the story finally dawns on the viewer. The story never stops to answer questions for very long, but in this strategy succeeds in prioritizing scenes in the story to make it cohesive and understandable. 10/10
Execution Student used images to creatively tell the story behind the words. Student uses his or her natural speaking voice, as well as music (optional) and effects (optional) to support (without taking away from) the meaning of his or her story. The images in this story are unique in this story in that they show what appears to be a first-person perspective into zombie transformation. As previously stated, the flurry of imagery matches the frantic tone of the story helping the viewer to understand the desperation of the subject. The sound effects of the dripping sink, fast footsteps, and the subject’s desperate sighs help to solidify this same sense of urgency. On top of all of that is a layer of electrical, buzzing music that heightens the tension of the entire story until the exaggerated break at the climactic moment. During the great reveal of the story, the answering machine voice helps to reset the tone of the whole story, providing us with the much needed context of this story. 10/10
Content understanding How well did the student meet the academic goals of the assignment and convey an understanding of the material addressed? For all of the same reasons mentioned, the story meets the goal of effectively communicating what zombification is like. The creators demonstrate a solid understanding of how to make their viewers feel the full effects of this transformation through unsetting imagery and sounds. At the same time, the creators demonstrate that the viewers are in need of much needed relief from the intensity and horror of these gruesome scenes by bringing some comedic relief at the end. 10/10

The traits that I selected for this critique were based on the fact that this story relies heavily on imagery, sound effects, and choppy storytelling to build the much needed tension in this story. The above traits hep to analyze these particular storytelling elements and their effect on this tale.

This is the first digital story that I have reviewed that I don’t believe needs any modifications. The imagery, sound effects, and story all come together to communicate the perfect amount of tension, mystery, and humor. At the same time we are also provided with enough context through each scene to keep the viewer moving forward, asking questions, and getting their questions answered. Overall this is a 10/10 story as a result.

10 Secrets About Zombies the Government is Hiding

The zombie apocalypse is no laughing matter. It is not a story, a hoax, nor a figment of the imagination. It is real and it is coming. It is only a matter of time. Below are a few examples of zombies throughout our written history as well as some tips and tricks about how to deal with them.

P.S. The government does not want you to know about any of these!!!

  1. Zombies are everywhere (mostly in underdeveloped countries), but the government pays U.S. newspapers, book publishers, magazine editors, and other print and visual media sources a yearly stipend to wipe these stories from the public view.
  2. Zombies retain some of their human traits upon turning. Some zombies have been reported as being able to consciously turn on lights, open doors, smile, and even wave their hands in greeting. This is why many people fall victim to loved ones overcome by the zombie virus.
  3. People can carry the zombie virus for weeks and even months at a time without showing symptoms.
  4. While the zombie virus does not manifest symptoms in animal hosts, they can still spread the virus through physical contact with saliva and excrement.
  5. Pregnant women are immune to the effects of the zombie virus.
  6. The Miami face-eating attack wasn’t caused by the drug “bath salts.” There were no drugs found in the body of the man reported to have attacked and eaten a homeless man’s face off. Friends and family of the man reported him of sane mind and even temper. It wasn’t drugs or an aggressive personality; it was the zombie virus.
  7. The CDC has been trying to synthesize a zombie virus vaccine since the 70’s. No trials have been successful to date.
  8. The potent drug Krokodil is not actually a drug. It’s a failed attempt at vaccinating against the zombie virus which has been slowly spreading through Russia since 1952. The vaccine contains samples of the live virus that, when injected, cause the host’s skin to die and rot from their bones – the first stage of zombification.
  9. JFK wasn’t assassinated. Along the campaign trail, he shook hands with a foreign political leader who had been harboring the zombie virus without obvious symptoms. On November 21, JFK began exhibiting symptoms of turning. On November 22, he fell victim to the virus and, after trying to attack and bite his wife, was put down.
  10. Area 51 was never a top-secret research facility for extra-terrestrial life. It was designed as a bunker and safe house in the 40’s for the President and other government officials to hide out when the zombie virus overcomes the general population.

_________________________________________________________________

Special Features:

How?: This post was created with the use of an online tool called “Portent Title Generator.” The generator asked me to input a single word, in my case “zombie,” and it spat out an interesting title using that word. My title was “10 Secrets About Zombies the Goverment is Hiding.” From there, I popped open my blog and began to write 10 made-up facts about zombies and fake zombie encounters throughout history.

Why?: This week’s daily create was inspired by my love of zombies, my distaste for clickbait articles, and DS106’s assignment: Blog Post Title Generator… and write that post! Since my focal theme for this blog is zombies, I began by first using that word as my title generator word. The first listing that popped up was the perfect definition of clickbait, and I couldn’t resist writing a fake article about it. I am the first to admit that I cringe every time I read a clickbait title. I cringe even harder when that title gets me to click on its link and read the article. In my opinion, clickbait is the worst kind of time waster, and most of the time it is completely sensationalized. So, of course, I thought about what types of things a zombie clickbait artist might write about and concocted 10 extremely fake and useless bits of trivia to engage the person who clicked on my clickbait title.

#ds106 #ds106dc #INTE5340 #tdc1717

Whistle While You Work

“Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.”
-Plato
This week’s create is brought to you by the ds106 assignment: Can’t Get It Out of My Head. Tune your ears in and listen closely. Can you guess the song? It is one of my favorite pop songs, because of its conflicting melody and lyrics. Post your guess in the comments below, then take a look at the music video for the actual song. The video is a digital story in and of itself.
Special Features:
How?: This recording was created by using my headphone’s microphone to record myself whistling on Audacity. The recording was then exported to a WAV file and uploaded to SoundCloud.
#ds106 #INTE5340 #AudioAssignments #AudioAssignments1526

Remix, Rediscover, Reinvent

As an artist, I have spent many years struggling so hard over the idea of “remixing.” It is a topic that I never approach lightly, because of how close its boundaries hug the line of plagiarism within the realm of creativity. I think the reason that I struggle with it so much is because of my aversion to the original art history movement that started this idea of remixing – pop art. I thoroughly dislike the ideals set by artists such as Marcel Duchamp (mentioned in the chapter) and Andy Warhol. To me, their works are unoriginal, because in a sense they were producing copies of things that already existed in our world and claiming them as art since they were created with art materials and an artistic audience in mind. While this was a revolutionary idea in the art community for its time (forcing the viewer to confront the mundane and over-marketed images with an artistic view) the works themselves are just replicas of everyday objects such as soup can labels, toilets, bicycle wheels, pipes, and other objects. After studying this movement for many years in college, I never gained a greater appreciation for this movement, only a bigger distaste for it. The other reason that it challenges me is that I often find it difficult to separate my own work as my own when I rely so heavily on other people’s resources and creations for inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I do look to other works of art to become inspired, but what I’m saying is that if I spend more than half of my time remixing someone else’s work it never truly feels like mine. For these reasons, the chapter “Music Remix in the Classroom” from this week really challenged my perception on what it means to be inspired by another work of art.

The sentence that really set my mind at ease about this new idea of remixing music in this chapter stated the following: “However, remixing is not simply taking somebody else’s intellectual property and putting your name on it.” This is what I have been trying to say for many years. As I studied artists like Warhol, who decided that his signature was the work of art and by placing it upon whatever he pleased the image would then also transform into art, I became disgusted by the pretension behind this act of taking what’s not yours and making it only slightly different for the sake of making a statement. So when the chapter opened up with this sentence, I realized that there can be more to remixing than simply copying. Instead, it should be thought of as a conversation. The remixes exist not as a way to copy someones work, but to show an understanding and appreciation for the original while also allowing new artists to add to the conversation that was started in the original. To me, this makes a lot more sense, and brings value to the educational table through students engaging in interpretation, communication, and collaboration skills. Something I eventually realized about myself through this reading, too, is that I’ve been enjoying remixing for quite some time in my music library without even realizing it. The following are examples that I have identified to be appropriate remixes without overstepping the bounds of the original works of art.

Original Remix
Rehab by Amy Winehouse

Toxic by Britney Spears

Rehab/Toxic Remix by Anonymous
Down with the Sickness by Disturbed Down with the Sickness by Richard Cheese

Over the the course of my life I have learned the difference between using a resource to become inspired and copying a resource without adding my own flair, but the question I keep hitting a wall on over and over again is “how do we teach this skill to students?” This is something I still haven’t answered for myself, but I am seeking input and responses so that I can lead my students down the path that delicately balances self-expression with inspiration.

Chapter 3 of this text did not provoke as much of an emotional response from me as Chapter 2 did, but I wanted to recognize it within this post, if only in a small way. I have been listening to many podcasts for a long time (as you may have noticed in my blog post titled, “We’re Alive.“). I really see the power of engagement in them for myself, and I would one day love to try using podcasts in the classroom. I do not, however, have any particular ideas in mind about how to do this in math, but if anyone has ideas for me I would be glad to read about them in the comments below.

Value

Who determines the value of a human life? You? Me? The government? God? We all have rules that govern our lives whether they come from within ourselves or from outside sources. In our head and heart we call them core values, at home we call them rules, in our country we call them laws, in church we call them scripture. Whatever it is that we choose to follow, we all have different beliefs that guide our actions and dictates the direction in which our lives move. These beliefs and actions also lead us to make decisions on behalf of those around us, to cause us to place value on each other and the lives we lead. So when the world breaks down into anarchy and chaos, it will be those ideas and beliefs that will help us to reestablish order…or keep the world order broken.

The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game, is more than just your average zombie video game; It’s a meta cognitive experience that forces the player to face decisions that places value on the lives of different human beings encountered in the game. I say meta cognitive experience, because in most games the outcome is predetermined for you, but in this game you are the one making the hard calls; you are in control of the fate of these people which are determined through the examination of your own beliefs. The plot of the game becomes altered as a result.Let’s take a closer look at what this all means (and feel free to take a closer look yourself, here).

The game starts out the way most zombie games start – the world has gone to hell, we follow the story of a ragtag group thrown together by fate, and a lot of terrible things happen along the way. It isn’t until about 15 minutes into the game that the player starts to realize this digital story’s unique twist: you have the power to allow some characters to live and others to die. The real twist is that you aren’t just deciding when good guys live and bad guys die, but you may end up deciding the exact opposite. Even more twisted, it all depends on how you decide to play the game and/or how your core values influence the way you choose to play.

The game is a unique blend of interactivity and immersion, and stands on its own as a form of digital storytelling. For this reason, I have chosen to critique this particular work on Jason Ohler’s assessment traits that speak to the story and audience involvement in this work.

Trait Description Succeed
Story How well did the story work? This trait can address structure, engagement, character transformation or any of the other qualities of story. The story worked well for being one that relied on user input to help the story unfold. The feelings of helplessness at needing to decide the fate of a character (especially characters that you’d had a chance to grow attached to) in 30 seconds or less really transported you into that reality. The clawing feeling of guilt that ensued once a decision was made, and the feeling that you could have done something differently gnaws at you every step of the way. The story itself is quite fluid, moving along at a moderate pace. It is divided into chapters so that time can skip ahead eliminating any unnecessary visuals or plot lines. There are a plethora of character types, and the player has a chance to form emotional connections to them through the interactive elements of the game. Character development is a huge success in this game and it can take many different paths depending on the user input. (10/10)
Sense of audience How well did the story respect the needs of the audience? In order for this story to truly be felt by the audience, it needed some component of realism and interactivity. It delivered on both of these fronts in two really big ways. In terms of realism – sure the zombie apocalypse isn’t a reality (yet) – it provided the player with scenarios that could be felt in any other tragic incident. Tough, but real questions such as “Do I save my best friend or do I save my family member?” were asked and forced to be answered by the player. The player could never take a back seat to what was happening on screen, because there was always one more dialogue box requiring input from the user. In this way, it engaged the audience to participate and live with the choices they were forced to make throughout the entirety of the game. (10/10)
Media application Was the use of media appropriate, supportive of the story, balanced and well considered? A video game platform was the media used to communicate the story, but I don’t think it was necessary to make the story work. The whole tale played out more like a movie and the main reason to have a controller in your hand was to move the cursor to answer the questions or make choices. However, having the ability to occasionally walk around and choose the people to talk to and the places to interact with were components that relied heavily on the use of a controller. So in some regards the media supported the story, but in others it felt unnecessary (7/10)

Overall this digital story is one of my favorites in the zombie genre for its complexity in character development and its ability to let the player make some decisions on behalf of the plot development. If there was anything I would change about this particular digital story, it would be the media used to present it. I am not completely dissatisfied that it was presented as a platform/PC game, because having a controller made me feel in control of the character. However, the heavy viewing parts of the game made the controller feel really unnecessary. If I were to change the media to something different, I would want this to be on a virtual reality headset and keep the game strictly first person at all times. To me, this would lend to a more natural viewing as well as physical engagement.

@itsuhrapp #ds106 #INTE5340 #NickiRapp

Your Brain on Stories

Think about the last time someone told you a story. Not just a time where someone told you something about their day, but a genuine story. A time when someone became so animated due to their excitement to share their side nothing else mattered but the every detail pouring forth from their lips.  How well do you remember it? What details do you remember? Did you relate to it personally? Have you ever retold the story to someone else? If you can provide any level of detail about the story or you answered yes to the last two questions, chances are good that your insula was being activated as you engaged in that person’s story.

What is insula?

I’m so glad you asked.

Insula is the part of the brain that activates in order to help humans relate to the same experience of pain, joy, disgust or else shared by another human. One of my interests over the past few years, besides exploring new tech, has been studying how the brain works especially when it comes to learning or relating to something new. Since story telling has begun to transform my teaching practices, I’ve begun to dig into the depths of research based in why story telling is an engaging teaching practice. My latest discovery has been an informative article posted by Leo Widrich titled “The Science of Storytelling: What Listening to a Story Does to Our Brains.”  This particular reading brought a lot of insights to the things that I thought I once knew about student engagement.

My previous perceptions on story telling in the classroom involved the understanding that story telling was fun which is why students are more eager to engage with it thus learning more with their increased interest. However, it turns out to be a bigger, more physiological reason. To understand this, let’s first look at an anti-example. Let’s look at what happens when a student listens to a generic presentation. The presentation hits the language processing parts in the brain where word decoding happens, but that’s all that happens. Now let’s look at what happens when someone is told a story. Again, the language processing parts of our brain are activated, but so are the parts of our brain that we would use if we were experiencing the story ourselves. Our whole brain is engaged. This is such a game changer for how I have been looking at using digital story telling in my own classroom. I no longer see it as a way to just get my students interested in the concepts; I see it as a way to make learning more meaningful to students in terms of their personal learning styles. My personal philosophy has always been to incorporate as many teaching techniques as possible in order to cater to the different ways students think. Now I have a way to bring all types of learning styles to the table, but with just one strategy – storytelling.

It’s not just about me though, it’s about other teachers who follow my lead on trying these different pedagogical practices in their classrooms, too. Though I work in a very progressive school where experimentation in teaching is encouraged, I know from working in different schools for the last 5 years that not every school works the same way. For me, to teach math through the use of art, storytelling, physical activity, or any other methods rarely gets questioned by students, parents, or my administration. For others, there needs to be a solid justification for the need to bring these things into a math classroom – where they have commonly seemed out of place. This article provided not only a logical explanation for the need of storytelling in the use of learning, but it provided research based evidence for why the brain learns best through the use of storytelling. If there’s one thing that is hard to dispute, it’s research. My hope is that by showcasing this to others, more and more teachers will feel comfortable utilizing story-based projects and lessons into their contents as well. If not to shake things up a bit, but also to help more students discover new ways to connect with their learning.

Get the Body You Deserve

Rule #1 of Zombieland: Cardio. Exercise is the main component to staying alive once the world ends and the dead start to rise and feed on those that survived the event. Whether you’re being chased down by a pack of ravenous zombies or fleeing from a corrupt group of survivors, it is essential to have built up your cardiovascular and muscular strength in order to prepare for whatever life in Zombieland has to throw at you…unless, of course, you’re this guy.

Dead Island 2 is a video game that premiers this year on a variety of consoles and platforms. It is an open-world gaming experience. This means that instead of having a main story that the gamer is forced to play through in a linear fashion, the gamer gets to walk around the world and engage and interact with the people, environments, and objects in whatever way they want. While the game itself lends itself naturally to the creation of story-telling through this open-world format, the advertisement presented above also serves to highlight this aspect of gaming by presenting us with one person’s viewpoint within this fictional world.

Since this is a digital story with the intent to market a product to its audience, I will be engaging this critique with traits that I feel work well in assessing a piece of persuasive story-telling.

Trait Description of Trait Succeeds Fails to Capture
Met assignment criteria? Length, number of elements, audience consideration (poem vs. essay) etc.? Considering that this video was produced as a way to advertise the video game Dead Island 2, the criteria for engaging their intended audience would have to include the following: a compelling reason for the audience to want to buy the game, a way to tell/sell their story in 3 minutes or less, a brief description of the game highlights, a sneak peak of game play, and their branding. In terms of giving the audience a reason to want to buy the game, this story takes this criteria marker and excels at it greatly. Most video game advertisements are presented as quick snippets of video game walkthroughs or highlights of in-game features with a generic voiceover announcer. This particular ad, instead, takes into account that consumers of the zombie genre need more than that; they need a story. In 3 minutes and 14 seconds we are presented with the perspective of a young, fit, cocky, and oblivious man that quickly goes from living in the normal world that we all know to suddenly jogging through a maze of zombies. Here, the use of humor was effectively used to highlight the downfalls of a person with these types of strong personality types especially in a situation such as this. This humor also plays to the majority of their audience (video gamers) who are most likely quite opposite in personality of this character. At the same time, we also get a sense of this new macabre world of gore and violence. The story also serves to highlight a few of the game’s playable features (such as weapon choices and environments), but not many. It leaves a little mystery behind about what the game will actually be like to play, since this aspect is not once shown, which keeps the audience curious enough to want to buy the game to find out. We, as the audience, are then given the game information at the end to make this final decision about purchase. This trait does not fail to capture this particular trait, because this trait works well to assess a piece of marketing media. In order to convince an audience to purchase a product, there a few key criteria necessary to engage the audience in this fashion. In my opinion, it is perfectly fine to assess a story such as this by this success criteria.
Flow, organization and pacing Was the story well organized? Did it flow well, moving from part to part without bumps or disorientation, as described in Part III? This story was well organized in every sense. In 3 minutes and 14 seconds we are presented with enough snippets of visual information to keep the story understandable yet move it along in a timely fashion. The story scene is automatically set from the get-go when we are introduced to this man by seeing each part of his body and getting a sense of his intense fitness guru personality. Immediately he takes off running to an upbeat song about being “the bomb,” which we can automatically assume shows off his self-confidence level. Quickly we realize another connection to this idea of being “the bomb” in that he has been bitten and he is a ticking time bomb of zombie conversion. Within seconds of his jogging, we see the breakdown of his world around him and how it has no effect on him. Quite rapidly, it all catches up to him and we finally see how it directly affects him from a first-person perspective – allowing the audience to finally have empathy for his situation. The scene ends with his death, as a survivor is seen running him over with a vehicle and taking his shoes. We are then left with the irony of the billboard that becomes revealed once the vehicle takes off. The dead jogger is seen portrayed as a personal trainer with the tagline “Get the body you deserve.” This is another bit of humor that also helps us to come full circle from the start of the story, providing us some context for who this man was and leaving us with a lasting impression that his cockiness helped him to deserve the body he got – that of a decomposing zombie. This trait does not fail to capture this story, because in an advertisement such as this it is imperative to have timelines while communicating its point of view.
Originality, voice, creativity How creative was the production? Did the student exhibit an original sense of voice and a fresh perspective? This story had a very original perspective on the apocalypse. The story starts off in a generic way of showcasing the beginning of the end of the world – the typical downfall of humanity through poor choices. However, instead of spelling these facts out from the perspective of one character, we are invited to witness these events happen around our main character in the background. Not only do we get a sense of the violence during these scenes, but we also get a taste of the humanity of it all. One minute these people are fine and going about life, and the next they are zombie bait. The production also brings a new aspect to the zombie genre: humor. Many of the constructed scenes have a touch of irony to them, such as the billboard about getting the body you deserve, or the guy excited to take new shoes off of a dead and decomposed body. This trait fails to capture this story in that originality in voice can sometimes be misinterpreted to mean “completely new” or “never been seen before.” However, this production does a wonderful job of showing us the standard breakdown of society in a zombie event while also adding its own style of subtle humorous story-telling to the mix. In my opinion, taking something that has been done before and giving it just enough of a unique twist should classify the story as having a fresh perspective.

If there was anything about this advertising story that I think should be changed it might be the shifting of perspective that happens throughout the game. We start at third person observing and trying to understand who this man is. Half-way through we transition to first-person and witness the changes that his body is going through from his eyes. Then at the end, we switch back to third person to see him become a zombie, get hit by a vehicle, and get his shoes stolen by a survivor. To me, the switch wasn’t very necessary in helping me to understand the story or the character. From my point of view, it actually had the opposite effect of not letting me empathize as much as I could have with him, because I wasn’t able to see his facial features during his zombie transition. However, maybe this was the intent, because, after all, in the end we see him get “the body that he deserved” from his cocky behaviors in the story.

#ds106 #INTE4350

Dozen’t Stop Me

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
-John Steinbeck
This week’s daily create called for a dozen. A dozen of what? A dozen of anything as long as it wasn’t eggs. With my mission in mind, I set out to find some interesting places where a dozen may be hiding in my home. Jumping up from the table, I immediately saw my board game shelf, and I began to rapidly count each shelf for the perfect amount of twelve. Low and behold, 3 shelves down I spotted the proper row. *Snap* Excited that there may be more dozens lurking in my house, I ran up the stairs and flung open my bedroom door. Turning slowly, 360 degrees, I spied my next twelve. Out of the 4 bookshelves in my room, there was again only one case with one shelf that held my precious number. *Clack* Satisfied and ready to return to my computer to begin my post, my boyfriend yells up to me, “dinner’s ready!” As I galloped back down the stairs, I smelled the sweet and savory scents wafting from the kitchen and decided that my post could wait until later – that is, until I saw that he had made me exactly 12 dumplings for dinner. Out popped my camera again. *Click*
Though you can see a variety of dozens within my photos, you may not have  realized there are more hidden within this post. See if you can spot the hidden twelves and post a reply in the comment section with your thoughts. Who knows? Maybe, I’ll get 12 replies.
Special Features:
Why?: This posting was inspired by the true story of finding twelves in my home.
How?: The photographs were taken on my Nexus 5x phone camera and then cropped in MS Paint to more obviously showcase the dozens presented in the photos.
@ds106dc #ds106 #tdc1709 # #INTE5340

We’re Alive!

“Da…duh…da…duh…da…duh…da…duh…da…duh…da…du…da…duh…” The sound of dramatic and melancholy music sets the tone for an intense story of survival horror. A striking piano chord suddenly cuts through the rhythmic melody followed up by the words, “WE’RE ALIVE!” There are no visuals – no pictures, no illustrations, nothing but the sound. “We’re Alive,” is a classic style radio drama that focuses on a group of survivors in a world on the brink of collapse. For this post, I will be focusing on their first three radio broadcasts appropriately titled, “It Begins.”

Depriving the audience of the most basic of senses – sight, smell, taste, and touch – “We’re Alive” relies solely on the ability to story tell through the sounds of the characters, their environments, and the events portrayed throughout the narrative. The entire first chapter is told from the point of view of Michael, a young military man savvy to the events of war and thrown head-first into the chaos of an apocalyptic event. As far as the zombie genre goes, this radio drama sticks out as a refreshing break from the typical depictions. A lot of popular zombie media banks on the use of shocking imagery, visual effects, and the expressions of despair and grief on the faces of the survivors. Instead, “We’re Alive” has to creatively circumvent these visuals through the use of sound to inspire the same terror and confusion that a visual zombie apocalypse carries.

Trait Trait Description Succeed Fails to Capture
Sense of audience How well did the story respect the needs of the audience? The story does an incredible job respecting the needs of the audience. Relying only on audio can be problematic to a zombie story – which usually uses visual imagery to arouse fear and anxiety. However, this story understands the importance of balance between character conversations and mood-setting background noise and music. To provide its audience with the setting, the main character’s narrations help to fill in the gaps between what the story is unable to provide sound for and what we can’t physically see. I do not believe that this trait fails to capture this story. The whole point of this story is to engage the audience with as many senses as possible described through sound. It caters completely to the audiences imagination and fills in as many gaps as possible to allow for the imagination to take over and immerse the audience in the story.
Media application Was the use of media appropriate, supportive of the story, balanced and well considered? The use of media is incredibly appropriate in supporting this story. Through the creative use of sound, the audience is able to conjure up images of the hell that the main characters have been suddenly thrown into. The narrations and character interactions are highly descriptive, the background noises match the tone and setting of the environment, and the audio special effects enhance rather than distract from the overall story. In this first chapter of the story, some of the audio effects (such as zombie noises and background noises) have not been as fully developed as others. At times, this can pull the audience out of the authenticity of the story.
Project planning Is there evidence of solid planning, in the form of story maps, scripts, storyboards, etc.? Though there is no physical evidence to the planning behind this production, solid and thorough planning is evident in the quality of the radio drama. Great care has been taken in the crafting of character interactions and narrations. The characters are written as smart, critical thinkers with enough common sense to keep them alive among the doom and gloom. Each character acts appropriately to their personalities for each event in the story. The flow of the story also moves along at a suitable pace – keeping the listener interested at times and on the edge of their seats other times. The narrator, Michael, also adequately describes each scene and location in the story to allow the audience to build up the map within their own heads – placing the listeners into the story alongside the characters. I don’t think that this trait fails to capture the story. The high quality of the storytelling elements all come together successfully which is a sure sign of solid planning.

I have listened to the entirety of this radio drama which took the producers 7 years to completely tell and 1 year for me to completely binge. Over the course of this listening adventure a large amount of finessing was brought to this tale. It has been years since I had listened to the very first few episodes. Listening to the beginning made me appreciate the evolution that the story had gone through over the years in terms of quality and audience immersion. For instance, as previously stated, certain sound effects had not been totally fleshed out. Zombie effects were quite amateur and could rip me out of the story at times due to the fake sounds of zombie breathing and running. Another modification that I had initially wished for and saw come true throughout the story was a more in-depth explanation of where the zombies came from. Many undead tales never bother to tackle this story element for fear of doing it incorrectly or complicating the story. With a purely audio reliant account such as this, I really feel that some explanation needs to come about at some point in order to add some much needed complexity to the narrative.

#ds106, #INTE5340, #WereAlive

Conditions for Knowing

In 2010 I created my very first Flickr account with the intent of becoming a refined photographer. How exactly was I going to accomplish this? By challenging myself to post one picture every day for 365 days. The idea was that I would get better at seeing the world in new ways with every snap of my camera. Days 1 and 2 proved quite promising. I woke up on both of these days with the excitement and fervor of a kid waking up to Christmas morning, snapped my pictures, quickly edited them for quality, and posted them to my account. Days 3 and 4 proved more difficult as I struggled to find the time in my busy schedule to snap and post photos, but nevertheless I accomplished this small feat. Day 5 came and went with no photo evidence to be found. That was the day that I never touched my account again. Six years later, the remnants of this challenge can be seen on the same Flickr account that I have begun using for my graduate studies classes today. The photos sit there like a tombstone on a dead project – a reminder of a goal left unfinished. What exactly went wrong? How could a simple “post a picture a day” challenge get derailed in as little as five days?

In reading Chapter 4: Visual Networks: Learning and Photosharing by Guy Merchant, I believe I have finally discovered the reasons for my 6 year 365 day failure. When I originally set out to accomplish my challenge, I had only one thing in mind: take photos and make sure they got posted. This was the only way that I interacted with Flickr. I thought of it as just another way to display my images; it was nothing more than that to me and that was my first mistake. A large part of the chapter focused on the use of Flickr not just as a tool for photo sharing, but as a social networking and learning environment. Merchant placed a heavy emphasis on this idea and referred back to it frequently in relaying his own experiences and the experiences of others with Flickr. He labeled Flickr many times as an affinity space -“social contexts that are guided by purpose, interest or content.” For him, Flickr was a way to invite meaning to his graffiti project by allowing people to comment on and engage with his photography. He not only collected a fan-base from his public galleries of art, but he also started conversations. In one of my earlier posts, I talked about how new forms of digital storytelling have begun to evolve the idea of literacy and its involvement with social learning. My thoughts from that previous post tie in perfectly with the ways in which I read about Guy Merchant’s use of Flickr, because he wasn’t just posting pictures, he was telling visual and written stories and inviting others to do the same. He talked about multi-modality – “the visual and verbal modes work together to establish and develop meanings” – and how this incorporated literacy through the use of photo tagging and adding descriptions and interesting titles along with the images. During the five days of my photo challenge so many years ago, I never once bothered to personalize my images in this way. To this day, you will see no tagging, no titles, and barely any descriptions on my photos. I never bothered to really talk about my own work, and, because of this, no one ever bothered to talk to me about it either. I inadvertently closed off communication with others; I closed off my own learning. I stopped caring about the project, because it didn’t engage me fully.

As I sit here writing this, I realize just how important social learning has become in my ability to process information. Merchanct writes, “seeing can transform into attentive noticing when we begin to label things in our environment.” While this most certainly applies to the idea of visual languages like photography, I can’t help but feel connected to this statement in another way. Reflecting back on my failed project and relating it to the things I’ve been reading in this course have forced me to start labeling my learning behaviors. As a result, they have helped me to see clearer what really motivates me to keep exploring and learning. These things have started to set the stage for attentive noticing and conditions for knowing myself better as a student and a teacher.

Moving forward, I am extremely intrigued in the idea of using Flickr to motivate my students in math. Reading some of the examples for how Merchant had seen students using photos to engage with literacy and learning has sparked a few ideas for me. I would like to design a semester long Flickr space for my students to upload the imagery that they encounter throughout their day that they interpret as relating to the math concepts we cover in class. A requirement of uploading their images would be that they have to tell a story in their description and use appropriate tags to convey their meaning to the world. I need to think a little bit harder about the rest of the details surrounding this project, but I am excited to begin trying another new avenue of mathematical exploration with my students. I am wondering how they feel this will impact their learning at the end of the semester? Check back later for my report on this exciting new development!