So in the blue are my contributions / edits to the Prof Comm Charter.
I’ve largely focused on learning from your peers and working with them. I don’t think we should just be accepting of diversity but we should move past it and embrace and learn from it. There are a variety of ways to do any one task and seeing an alternative can help you better understand your own methods.
Championing independent thought is good but it certainly shouldn’t come at the expense of your ability to work with others. The best works are ones where people with strong ideas come together to create something great.
Finally doing a course that is a bit of a mash-up most of us have different strong points. Teachers are great resources but sometimes it’s easier to learn from the skills of your peers. Anyone working in solitude is missing out on a wealth of skills at their fingertips.
As for the process of using Google docs to collaborate it’s great. It’s the way I run my comedy night with my friends. It allows us to easily up date and access the line ups we have booked. Having a communal resource online for everyone to be able to view and alter easily.
E-Books, much like E-Mail simply refers to an electronic copy of a book. In that sense, ever sense reproducible digital type has existed so too has, at least the concept, of E-Books. What has changed in recent times is how easily digestible these E-Books have become. Reading an E-Book from a PC isn’t at all practical or convenient as it’s not portable or comfortable, even a laptop doesn’t or mobile phone doesn’t really have the right size and dimension to make reading and electronic copy of a book something that is easy and comfortable to do.
Thus the invention of E-Book readers or Ereaders, most notably things like Kindle. These are devices made specifically to read E-Books. Entire books are downloaded onto an Ereader, multiple books can be saved on the same reader and they are a size that is convenient to hold, to take on the train and read with or take to bed. To that end, they allow you to read an E-book in the same way that you’d read a traditional physical book.
Obviously, due to the diverse nature of both books and Ebooks an Ereader isn’t required to read and E-book, this could just as easily be done on your smart phone or tablet. However as Ereaders are designed specifically to read on, they have design features that are more ideal for it, from ease of use to lighting the make reading on an Ereader less harsh on your eyes.
The use of an Ereader to read E-Books is largely about convenience. You save space in terms of having to physically store books that can often be pretty large. It’s easier to carry a single Ereader than multiple books which can often be quiet heavy and it’s easier to download a book from wherever you want at whatever time you want than it is to go to a bookstore to try and find a book.
On the other hand the arguments for physical books are based in romanticism. We still live in a culture that likes having ideas linked to physical objects. The same sentimentality is reflected in the film vs digital debate in cinema. People still tend to link a physical item with to having a connection with the original idea, where as digital copies are still perceived as more objective and detached. Ebooks also make the idea of conspicuous consumption harder. Again in the same way Mp3’s have made showing off your music collection harder, and digital films will make showing off your collection of movies harder, so too Ebooks will make it harder to show off your impressive library. Up until recently a function in favour of the book was your ability to annotate, with that said it is a function the Ereaders are now replicating.
In point form
The interactive nature of online media opens up a world of possibilities for storytellers. The first and most obvious reason, is that interactive media allows for optional diversions. Whilst audiences experienced traditional storytelling in a linear nature, online media can be interactive and therefore give more control to the audience. The second door opened by interactive media is that audiences are more accustomed to reading hypertexts, again giving storytellers greater flexibility in when and how the divulge information to their audiences.
I looked at three different examples of digital stories that used those elements in different ways. A story that uses online information to put the audience in the story quiet literally. A story that uses interactive media to create a choose your own adventure song and a trailer to a film which has created a vast online world to enhance the story. All three stories are different and make great use of the freedom allowed by interactive online media.
This piece is a short interactive digital horror film; it makes use of the Facebook app feature, which asks users to allow the app access to certain information from their Facebook profile. As this is a common occurrence most users won’t think twice about clicking the accept button. What follows is a pretty confronting and highly effective piece of horror filmmaking. Without any gore or violence the film would have most users petrified, simply because it puts you, the audience member as the central victim in a horror story. Using the information on your Facebook the story goes through the photos you’ve uploaded, searches your news feed whilst creepy mistimed music and an increasingly unstable Facebook stalker goes through your information, touching your photo on their screen. The stalker then uses Google maps to find your address and comes after you, leaving a warning note that one of your friends is next.
It’s a really good example of how digital storytelling can be individualized, making the story about a single audience member and placing them in the center of the story makes it much more confronting. A horror movie about a Facebook stalker would be written off, by most, as simply fiction. In comparison seeing your information, your details, your face in that movie suddenly makes it all the more real and personal.
One addition to the piece that would be worthwhile is a link to information on how to make your profile more secure. The piece creates such a real awareness of the need to be secure with your information online and I’m guessing a large amount of viewers would have taken the opportunity to be re-directed to that information.
One fun night is the first time I’d seen a really original use of interactive storytelling. Melbourne Comedy duo Anyone For Tennis combined the logic of Choose Your Own Adventure stories to a comedy song. The song is the story of a fun night out and after a minute the audience is asked to make a choice between theatre or dancing. The choice made by the audience determines how the next bit of the song goes. True to the tradition of Choose Your Own Adventure books all choices result in calamity and in this case result in one of two equally hilarious but tragic endings. The story doesn’t divert greatly from traditional song style, but it has enough interactivity to make it interesting and novel.
The trailer to the independent film Sound Of My Voice is the richest piece of digital storytelling I encountered. The trailer is simply the first 12 minutes of the film. However this is intermittingly interrupted by giving the audience the chance to click on a link to a piece of extra textual information to enhance what they are watching. In some cases these links are very directly related to what is happening in the narrative, but don’t really add to the story, for example a link to a video on how to escape zip ties. In other cases they are used to create mood, but most significantly they are used to create a sense of mystery around whether the story is a documentary or a film. There are a number of links to seemingly real characters and initiations to the cult being explored in the film and it creates a really tangible blurring of certainty about whether the trailer is fiction.
The story as a single linear narrative is intriguing and visual well crafted on it’s own, but the added hypertext features really shift the mood in certain places. They create a greater sense of intrigue and mystery. In this case the narrative is strong enough to hold your attention and the extra-textual information creates a sense of mystery that leads you back to the story. However there is a risk involved in breaking a fictional diegesis by directing audience out of the story. If the story hasn’t fully captured an audiences attention you risk them being distracted and choosing not to come back to your story. However when it’s done right it is a risk worth taking as it really enriches a story.
So I used Adobe Illustrator for the first time, I realised something I already knew, I am not a visual arts kind of guy. None the less, it has balloons. I am sure most will see this and think it is simple and boring, but it took me four twenty minute tutorials and a heck of a lot of patience to get done.
Over the last 12 years mobile phone subscriptions grew by a whopping 5 billion, from less than a billion in 2000 to over 6 billion currently. So it’s safe to say it was always going to be a race to figure out the best way to optimize content to be easily digestible on the mobile platform. Enter a man who app-lied his app-titude and app-ealed to with the app. We all app-roved and app-lauded… ok I’ll stop now.
The answer to making content more tailored to smart-phones was apps and it is very big business. With over 6 billion mobile phones there are over a million possible apps to download. These apps are downloaded at a rate of 1 billion per month and apple alone (roughly half the market) has passed 25 billion downloads. The reason apps are so popular are that they are tailored to the individual phones operating system (apple ios or android) and are condensed and easily manageable as opposed to a website that more often than not stores a lot more data.
It seems strange then that almost half of businesses still don’t see mobile apps as a necessity. The most easy explanations of that would be that mobile apps are only of value to your business if your consumers are often looking up content on the internet. Things such as movie websites, radio stations, shopping centers and public transport are all things were an app to make content easily accessible for mobile phones is clearly important.
However even if you don’t need an informative app, or an app to make your web content easier to manage on the go, there is still a business benefit for making use of apps. From a marketing perspective apps can help enhance your brands personality and a strong brand personality creates a strong brand relationship. Who knows if you are creative enough with your app it could go viral earning you exposure that you had anticipated which ever way you look at it, there is value in doing apps right. Hungry Jacks have recently combined advertising with their phone app. The idea works on multiple levels. The first of which is it has a gambling or game like feature, you shake your phone it comes up with a random item you get for free, however to redeem your free item the app posts on your Facebook wall advertising Hungry Jacks to your friends.
Of course in the future that’s likely to change again, as mobile optimized websites and phone operating systems continue to improve, it’s predicted that in the future mobile optimized websites will be the best way to make your website available to consumers online, as it will give the full range of information and functionality of a website to a mobile phone user.
There is still a lot of room for apps to make information more concentrated or even fun. In fact most of the apps I think of off the top of my head are silly fun games and there is certainly the chance to enhance your relationship with your consumers or audience by coming up with an app that reinforces your brand personality or profile.
Apps obviously have their limitations, for one it’s a market that is cluttered and getting more cluttered every day. To breakthrough with an app you will need to either have already had your audiences attention, for example movie or public transport timetables are things people would be checking anyway and therefore the app doesn’t really add traffic, alternatively your app will need to be very original and need the luck that goes with getting anything to ‘go viral’. Another limitation of apps is that they often have short life-spans things like ‘Words with Friends’ or ‘Draw Something’ are examples of the fact that apps tend to grow rapidly and then drop off just as quickly.
As for apps I’d recommend.
The Rotten Tomatoes app – simply called movies the app offers movie session times, synopsis, cast information as well as an aggregate reviewer score and links to the individual reviews. This has made last minute movie going an easier experience.
Fainting Goats – A friend of mine developed this fun and addictive game, it’s really well created and a pretty funny concept. I certainly enjoyed playing it.
Urbanspoon- Urbanspoon is to food as Rotten Tomatoes is to movies. Great in detail user reviews of restaurants as well as aggregated scores. The random selector is also a fun way to pick a place to eat.
As for the app that I’d steer clear of
My Rmit – I don’t know what I expected when I downloaded it, but I did it anyway. It’s not that the app is difficult to use, more that I really have no reason for it.
Having previously only used Google and Yahoo I was interested when set the task of comparing Google with two search engines I hadn’t heard of, DuckDuckGo and Instagrok, my main intrigue was trying to figure out a point of competitive advantage that a search engine could have, after all the only alternative to Google I had seen was Yahoo which is a lot like Google, in the sense that it’s exactly the same. So the idea of alternative search engines seemed a lot like alternative air or alternative water…. oh wait, that’s actually a thing, anyway you get my point. Below are my results when searching for the Melbourne International comedy festival.
Google as I am sure you are all aware ticks a lot of boxes. The results are seem to be organised in order of relevance and are segmented. Youtube and news results are filter into categories of their own making it easier to find if that is what you are looking for, and filtering them out of the result if it is now what you are looking for. Whilst it was not the case in this particular search, the one area where Google searches are less than ideal is when sponsored results appear at the top and side of the search as they can be a tad confusing or distracting.
DuckDuckGo by comparison was much more streamlined but less organised. Videos, images and news are not filtered out meaning that you have to sort for that information yourself. However a wikiepedia blurb appeared above the search results meaning if you wanted a shallow definition it was very easy to find. It was difficult to work out exactly how the results were ordered. In comparison to the Google result there was certainly more blogs and independent material high in the results, whereas Google had official pages, partners and websites of performers. DuckDuckGo offered search suggestions, which featured similar things that may be of interest. There are pro’s and con’s to the DuckDuckGo search engine, but it’s limitations means it’s hard to imagine myself using it. The main problem is if you ever wanted to search in depth you’d have to rifle through much more results than Google. The main positives being that it is much more streamlined and a simple definition or site maybe easier to find.
Lastly Instagrok was the most unique and therefore difficult to learn. The centrepiece of the blog is a big mind map with actual website links off too the side of that. These results are organised in an even more specific fashion then Google with different tabs for glossary and quizzes. This system is far to confusing and time confusing for a basic surface level search. After spending time clicking on the different graph headings it was pretty clear that Instagrok would be particularly useful when covering a dense and multifaceted topic. By using the graph headings you can find the results for a specific area of interest on a broad topic or quickly read the heading dot points on a each area. The information is organised in a way that would make finding exactly what you are interested in a bit easier.
From this exercise what has become apparent is that whilst it seems almost second nature to ‘Google‘ something when searching their are alternatives which maybe useful in specific circumstances, with that said Google’s one size fits all approach does the job most times and therefore I don’t see myself ever using DuckDuckGo (unless I am nostalgically longing to play duck duck goose) and only ever see myself using Instagrok in the even that a Google search is getting to convoluted.