Finding New New Literacies Tools – Week 14 Response to Chosen Text

*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO SCHOLARLY TEXTS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.

Comics are awesome tools for promoting new literacies in the classroom – I have found plenty of evidence in the form of scholarly text this semester that support that stance. I feel that the application of comics in the classroom for students to read is natural and something that I have already implemented throughout my teaching practice. What I have found is that I don’t have a grasp of yet is bringing comics into my practice for writing. I have always supported students that want to turn work or narratives into comics but this generally occurs when the students already see themselves as artist and are drawn to illustrating. I have evolved my thinking about teaching  comics as being most beneficial in a classroom for just reluctant readers but for the whole class  and have been looking for ways to open the options for writing comics for students that are not just “artists”. I found a EdTechReview article that highlights an intriguing web 2.0 storyboarding/digital comic tool – StoryboardThat.com.

 

I am excited to find a tool like this for two reasons, one I want to find a user friendly tool for students to use to create new literacy projects and two I want find tools that will fit my focus of graphic novels and can use with my final digital story for my master class.  A few weeks back I did some research into crafting reviews of books for the same reasons and have been more critical of other reviews that I have read. The EdTechReview gives a nice overview of the this tool and provides useful analysis of how to use this tool in the classroom with children. Both as a tool for delivering content and for students to use in their creation of narratives. EdTech also does a great job of providing practical information about StoryboardThat by including pricing plans and a walkthrough for setting up an account and launching a comic strip.
Finally this article’s final recommendation was particularly well crafted. The author not only told me that this is a powerful and user-friendly tool but connected it to my classroom practice by highlighting specific competencies that this tool could be used to support. I am looking forward to experimenting with StoryboardThat with my own digital story and determining how I might use this tool in my practice.

Finding New New Literacies Tools – Week 14 Response to Chosen Text

A Networked TV Commercial – Digital Story Critique Week 14

*I HAVE BEEN READING AND CRITIQUING DIGITAL COMICS, FOR MY MASTER LEVEL STUDIES, IN A CONTINUING SERIES TO DEVELOP MY EXPOSURE TO AND UNDERSTANDING OF THIS NEW LITERACY

I found something that is so much fun for my digital story this week. I have been thinking of interactive digital comics sense reading the Alexander chapter about networked books and have been searching for a comic that is more interactive. I also wanted to explore what is being done with comics on media platforms. I was drawn to Instagram as a possible platform because of its natural connection to static images. Also for some reason I feel more connected to social media I access from my phone. Maybe It feels cozier because I can read it on my couch. What I found was not what I expected. I thought I would find a lot of one off comic strips that set up and deliver a punch line in one panel, much like Gary Larson’s Far Side but did not find as many as I thought I would, what I found blew my mind, and surprisingly it was a promotional comic for the Adult Swim cartoon Rick and Morty.

Story

This is one impressive advertisement. By setting up multiple user accounts on Instagram and then linking those accounts through tags, Adult Swim has created a choose your own adventure set in the strange universe of Rick and Morty. This piece is full of Easter eggs that showcase the non sequitur humor of the show. The narrative is not overly developed beyond finding the hidden Easter eggs but with vast number of worlds to explore and user participation this promotion frees uses to build their own narratives on the foundation of rick and Morty’s zany university.

Project Planning

The attention to details in Adult Swim’s promotion is impressive. There are so many pictures that are unique but match seamlessly with the the pictures from the next stages in the chosen story line. Animation was strategically used as a reward for finding hidden Easter eggs. Finally the trailers that were hidden in the worlds to explore were subtle reminders of who was producing this awesome simulation but not so over powering to make the project feel like a commercial trying too hard to be cutting edge. I also found a similar example of this type of choose your own adventure Instagram feed from Old Spice but it was not as robust as the Cartoon Network endeavor and never shook the advertisement feel.

Media application

Adult Swim has done a great job creating a digital story that is entertaining and convey their product in a favorable light because they use the tools of the Instagram platform in a creative and new way.  This is such an engaging way to use the Instagram platform and inspires me to develop my digital story in a way that uses established web 2.0 tools in unconventional ways.

A Networked TV Commercial – Digital Story Critique Week 14

Newlz; Using Digital Tools to Look into the Future – week 13 Digital Story Critique

This week I am looking at a comic, by Stuart Campbell, that has combined static images, text, sound and subtle animations to create a comic that is could the the definition of digital. The content of the comic is futuristic and the revolutionary use of digital tools gives the whole story a cutting edge feel. Nawlz is a science fiction story that focuses on Harley Chambers as he uses futuristic dregs and technologies to experience dream like hallucinations while awake. This comic is most definitely for adults with lots of profanity and some nudity and may not be for readers that will feel uncomfortable from ambiguity in the narrative created by the dreamlike images with the electronic music and flashing animations enhancing the stories atmosphere. But for readers who are comfortable with it the ambiguity adds to the intrigue of the story.

Story

The story of Nawlz is very confusing at first, author Campbell, drops the viewer right into one of Harley’s dreamlike hallucinations, or castings, providing little information about what is happening or why, the vivid static images and the interplay between music and animations makes the casting state very surreal and adds to the tension of not being sure about what is happening. I found the uncertainty of the plot added to the dreamlike atmosphere of the narrative, because like a dream it made sense and was nonsense at the same time. After the first chapter Campbell included a recap which helps make sense of what happened before and highlights some important events that the viewers saw but did not understand in the first chapter. The ambiguity followed by a sublet description that let me make the connections was very engaging for me and made me an active participant in the preceding chapters of the Nawlz.

Media application

There are strong voices in the discussion about comics moving into the digital world that say that animation and sound is a slippery slope leading to animated cartoons. These voices see the need for static images and text to be the foundation of comics. And I agree with this sentiment, but I have found that when applied to enhance the static image or text – in order to set a mood or to make a strong point – both sound and animation can work in digital comics. Nawlz is the perfect example. The piece still founded, as a comic should be, in static images and text but the author uses both a sound track and subdued animations to effect the mood or in rare but powerful instances, pound home a point. Campbell also uses animated text boxes to present text and let viewers navigate the comics, which feel seamless in the digital future that Nawlz takes place in.

Sense of Audience

Nawlz has a very specific audience and Campbell knows how expertly engage them.  Lovers of digital future science fictions,  the cyberpunks, will be overjoyed with this work because everything from the music to the text boxes invoke a future where community members are sounded by digital communication and information 24 hours a day. People who loved Neuromancer or the Matrix will be right at home with in Nawlz.

Newlz; Using Digital Tools to Look into the Future – week 13 Digital Story Critique

The Networked Book In a Digital Story – Week 13 Response to Required Reading

I was drawn to chapter 8 in The New Digital Storytelling because I wanted to find out more about the concept of the networked book. Alexander states that the networked book will “actively embrace networking” through one of two approaches. First the networked book will strive to link to other media that support the narrative and will seek to be linked from other sources. Secondly, and for me the more engaging process, are networked books that are characterized by the digital interaction between creator and audience.  The idea of a networked book fits very nicely with how my perspective of digital stories has developed. Before I would have focused on digital tools as the definition for digital storytelling, but as networked books illiterate, the digital story is more about reaching and embracing a specific audience though digital communication. 

This communication can be in the form of real time commentary and discussion by the audience or communication that leads to shape the developments in the narrative. Real time commentary plays out in the comment section of networked books where people share points of views about the creative work and debate points from the narrative. These discussions become part of the narrative itself because the discussions not only because they are attached to the piece in the comment sections but because as the audience reads or participates in the discussion their perspective and understanding of the creative work will alter and their overall experience will evolve. The interactive nature of networked books also means there is an opportunity for direct communication between abundance and creator. I have experienced this phenomenon in my studies this semester, in the critiques of digital comics I have done I have tried to mention the author. This has been a nerve-racking experience because I am fearful what they will think of my opinions, but despite my concerns I have gotten one like and one retweet. This contact felt awesome and has given me a new connections to each of those digital stories. The next level of this interaction is to not only acknowledge the input from the audience but for the creators to further develop the narrative based off communication from the audience.

I while looking for digital comics to critique this semester I came across a webcomic that is attempting to create a networked book through audience participation. In Dice With the Universe viewers are asked to roll a die and post their results in the comment section. The comic is interesting and the concept has far reaching possibilities, I do think that the quick turnaround – between the end of a strip and the update with a new strip – is too short and it limits the directions this webcomic can go. I believe the stories could be more robust by implementing two ideas. First give more time between episodes, so that audience ideas can be fleshed out more and fit more seamlessly in the narritive. Second invite more audience participation and elicit more detailed suggestions for plot lines or even character dialogue.  

The Networked Book In a Digital Story – Week 13 Response to Required Reading

Simply Digital – Week 12 Critique of xkcd: Click and Drag

*I HAVE BEEN READING AND CRITIQUING DIGITAL COMICS, FOR MY MASTER LEVEL STUDIES, IN A CONTINUING SERIES TO DEVELOP MY EXPOSURE TO AND UNDERSTANDING OF THIS NEW LITERACY

I found a surprising digital story this week. I was surprised because I found it as a single installment of the continuing xkcd web comic.  xkcd is a well known comic strip that is housed online. The drawing are usually simple – stick figures and line drawings, but they provide a strong delivery of the witty and poignant dialogue from writer Randall Munroe. I love this strip but do not see digital features that transform xkcd episodes from traditional comic strips into digital stories. The digital environment provides a great format to deliver this excellent comic strip to a wide audience, but the narrative and way the story is told is the same as if xkcd were published in a newspaper. What surprised me was the exception, an installment titled Click and Drag. This strip  uses an element of the infinite canvas to turn a single panel of the strip into a window that shows a portion of a large and sprawling drawn world. Viewers click and drag the image within the panel to change their view and explore Munroe’s world.  For a critique of Click and Drag I will look at Munroe’s story, media application and project planning

Story

The simple message of Click and Drag is shared with the text and then brilliantly illustrated with hundreds of static images on an (almost) infinite canvas. The technology, text and images all work flawlessly work together to share a simple but universal message. The simple story supports the exploration of the Munroe’s huge digital world, because if the story were complex and the digital world vast the combination would have been overwhelming. With a simple message the exploration is carefree and facilitates all the narrative features working together.

Media application

Looking at the sprawling world thought the panel/window make the images you find surprising, because you stumble upon them without any warning. This enables Munroe to spring jokes and poignant thoughts on the unsuspecting viewer. I even found myself laughing out loud on a few occasions. The panel as a window also enables the viewer to have a unique experience when using the click and drag features, because that viewer is in control of how they explore the digital world, and gives the viewer an interactive reading experience.

Project Planning

I would be interested in seeing what Munroe’s Click and Drag world would look like fully zoomed out. The picture must be massive. While I was playing the digital world seemed to go on (at least left and right) forever. I thought eventually the world would complete a circle and I would be back where I started but it never happened nor did I find an end.  This world must have taken considerable planning to create, not only is it a massive world but in every nook and cranny of the ever changing landscape are figures interacting, philosophizing or cracking jokes.

 

This is a really simple comic strip that is both fun to play with and has a useful as a message about the world we live in. I also see it as a metaphor for interacting with the digital world. Through our computer screens we view the constantly changing landscape of the sprawling digital world and just like the figures that populate the world in Click and Drag, the citizens of the digital world have engaging and surprising stories to tell. The more we explore the more stories we will be exposed to.

Afterword

I decided that there must be a way to see the whole massive drawing from Drag and Click so I searched the web some more and found a zoomable picture. I have only one word: impressive.  

Simply Digital – Week 12 Critique of xkcd: Click and Drag

Digital Storytelling Project: the Research – A Response to Chosen Text Week 12

*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO SCHOLARLY TEXTS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.

For my digital storytelling class I have begun developing a digital project of my own, I don’t know the final way that I’ll deliver my message but I want an ongoing series where I review graphic novels and make suggestions for viewers based on their hobbies, interests or preferred genres of literature or entertainment. I often have suggestions for my friends and family for graphic novels they should enjoy based off their other preferences and I want to offer that to a larger audience. I do not have a background in the reviews will need to write so I took the opportunity this week to to research some articles about creating book reviews to support my project.  I found four particularly helpful pieces that I am going to use to support my crafting of the graphic novel reviews in my series. These articles are:

Each provides text information on the how or the why of reviewing books, by synthesizing these lessons I can create engaging and informative graphic novel reviews. Summarized below are the lessons I took from each article.

How to Write a Book Review

Asenjo’s article is mostly a list of questions to what a reviewer should ponder to support in the development and writing of a review. The questions are organized by the steps of the writing process and aim to keep the review informative and engaging. These questions will be very useful for keeping in mind before, during and after reading my chosen graphic novel and during the prewriting and writing of the review. It was especially good to be reminded to preview the book (something I always tell my students to do but never bother doing my self) and develop opinions about what the title means, what I can learn from introductions or prefaces and how the book is organized. For my reviews this would also include previewing some art work and determining what tone it sets for the narrative.

Book Reviews Hanout

This handout from the University of North Carolina provides some background on what a review is and made a point to highlight that a reviewer’s purpose is to make an argument not just to summarize the author’s points. For the university writing center this means determining if one agrees or disagrees with an author and providing evidence as to why, in my reviews I will argue why my viewers should read a particular graphic novel and then support my claim by connecting the narrative with my viewer’s interests, hobbies or preferred genres.

Tips for Writing Book Reviews

First I want to state that I did not realize, until linking to Luisa Playa’s article above, that it is written for teen writers. Playa’s article, however, is concise and is a useful outline for making sure that a review is covering all bases the intended audience will be expecting.  Also I am using this project as a springboard for having students create their own reviews of graphic novels and so it is nice to have manageable reference guide that they can follow and to have created exemplars that follow the same model. Playa’s tips are to start with a brief description of the first half of the book or so, no spoilers! Next share what you liked, anything you disliked and a wrap up with an optional rating.

Writing Book Reviews

This how to guide from the Writing Tutorial Service at Indiana University provided similar tips as the UNC handout but had a great reason for why reviews are useful for the reviewer. In education it is important for students to understand why they are participating in a learning task. So I want to share this quotation with my students and keep it in mind myself when I am writing graphic novel reviews. “Reviewers answer not only the WHAT but the SO WHAT question about a book. Thus, in writing a review, you combine the skills of describing what is on the page, analyzing how the book tried to achieve its purpose, and expressing your own reactions.”

The ideas I found in these four text have given me plenty to think about and use to scaffold my own graphic novel reviews now I have to apply what I have learned to take the next steps in my digital project.

Digital Storytelling Project: the Research – A Response to Chosen Text Week 12

Triangle Rex – Daily Create week 12

I have a little cartoon I like to draw and his name is Rex Patrick. When I saw today’s daily create challenging us to create a drawing using Triangulart I knew I would have to try to make Rex. I like the simple nature of this program and it was fun to experiment. I wish there was a way to move groups of triangles around the canvas, because I started my picture to high up and I ran out of space to make his hair. Beyond being to squished on the canvas the hair was hard to render in the way I normally draw it. With more room I would have experienced with a more standard haircut.

triangle rex

Triangle Rex – Daily Create week 12