December 11, 2007

blogging to learn: reflections on the semester (ci.5410.14)

As I look back at my various blog postings for CI 5410, I would have to say that they all forced me to look at issues of digital writing that I might not otherwise have considered. I think specifically of my entry on voice thread, and box logic. Both represent approaches that were completely unexpected, but have so much potential for multimodal composition. I can see myself having students use Voice Thread or compose some box logic project on their own.

What have perhaps influenced my thinking the most, are the blog postings related to video composition or image mashing in some way. These entries include MANY of my postings, since my line of inquiry often brought me there. But to highlight the posts I feel most represent my thinking, as a result of this class, I choose the three following posts:

1. My first "Vlog" entry: process and product

The Cummings Books video was my first attempt at mixing sound, still and moving images to creating a coherent text. Making that video gave me first hand experience with multimodal composition, which has enhanced my understanding of all I've read about video composition since making that video.

2. Reflections on my first podcast

Making this podcast was hard work, but so helpful in thinking about all the decisions involved in composition, especially when bringing multiple modes into the mix. When putting this podcast together, I had to make many editing decisions related to narrowing the focus and maintaining a coherent narrative. Editing the 30 minutes down to 5 minutes took close to 5 hours.

3. Launching Nonikwe

This wiki, that I created earlier this semester has become an integral part of my thinking. Not only does it serve as a portal to my online navigation, it allows me to bookmark online sites in a more meaningful way than de.lic.ous would in that I am constantly reconfiguring how these fields of thought are related to each other. I am so glad that I started that wiki.

Pedagogically speaking, I find the blog to be a nice medium to publish product but also showcase process. I will continue using it as a tool to push my own thinking, such as with this research blog. Also, I hope to keep using them with my students as an entry point to thinking about digital writing.

online response to writing: a whole new ball of wax (ci.5410.13)

For the past year and a half I have been a writing consultant at my university's writing center. My consulting occurs in different ways: face to face; asynchronous response; and synchronous chat. I would say that each setting brings about different writing practices on my part.

face to face consulting:

I would have to say that I prefer face-to-face consulting for two reasons: 1) because of the personal connection you establish with the person, made possible through seeing them, body/facial expression and all, and 2) because I feel that we can get so much more done.

Face to face consulting allows me to "adapt" my practices to the writer and writing situation. This is probably because I am able to communicate more quickly and am better able to "read" the person and situation. Having the person right there I am able to gauge whether I am understanding what they asked for and whether I'm giving them the feedback they were looking for, or if I need to modify my style of delivery to be more or less directive.

asynchronous feedback:

Because I'm given only a few written directives from the writer, and not nonverbal feedback, I find myself slipping into a more directive style of feedback. When I say "directive" I don't mean that I tell the writer what to do, but rather, I notice myself asking fewer questions than I do in face-to-face, probably because there is no one to answer them in the moment. Instead I find myself taking on a more reader based form of feedback in that I narrate what I think the writing is saying and where I am confused in my reading of the piece.

While I think this works most of the time, I feel that it doesn't work well in situations where the piece of writing is very poorly organized, because then it seems that all I am saying is that I don't understand. There have been two instances where I have reviewed papers where I made many comments about organization, in essence voicing that I was very confused. In those instances, the writers never showed up for the second part of the consultation, which is the live chat. My hunch tells me that my response style offended them in some way and they did not want to return.

This is where I find the online consultation to fall short of the full experience of f2f consulting. My comments on the papers mentioned above, were not stated in an offensive way, yet they may have come off that way because there was no person, not even the blinking cursor (like in the live chat experience) behind them to soften the delivery.

synchronous chat:

I find live chat feedback to be a blend of the above two forms. While I cannot see the writer, I can constantly ask the writer questions to see if I'm missing the point. Chat, because of its spontaneous form, also allows for more play with language for purposes of humor or lightening the mood of what may get too serious. Asynchronous feedback does not have that same tempo. It feels so much more formal, and as a result, the feedback comes off formal, even if I try to create a warm feel with opening and closing comments.

In thinking about my future practices of online feedback, I think I might start making fewer comments on the student's text and more comments on a separate screen, as notes to myself to address in the chat. This would allow me to familiarize myself with the text, but at the same time, it wouldn't create this formal mood, that at times may offend students.

As you can see, I'm still thinking about a lot of this.

MWP website in need of a makeover (ci.5410.12)

One of my upcoming projects involves redesigning the Minnesota Writing Project (MWP) Website. While I don't know code, I will be involved in researching the website needs and wishes of those in MWP. Designed in 2001, our website (see screen shot below) exemplifies the internet practices of web 1.0, where people used the internet as a glorified yellow pages. While this worked swell for the time, we currently feel that our site does not accurately represent who we are as an outreach organization, Nor does it do much to invite new teachers to join our network. Thus, the CI5410 task of analyzing wesite usability seems an appropriate time to begin my research on writing project website design.

To guide my inquiry into content, formatting and organization of web content, I'll be using the design questions presented in Anson, et. al (2008) Engaging Students in Digital Writing.

*** What kind of info. is present and where is it positioned?
*** What is the relationship between images and words?
*** What types of icons or navigational tools are present?
*** How accessible are other forms of information?

Minnesota Writing Project

MWP page.png

Above is a screen shot from the current website for MWP which I'll be using as my example of poor design. I say this for a variety of reasons. First of all the content is organized for a general audience, instead of geared specifically for teachers or administrators. In this sense, our identity as an organization is largely underdeveloped. Content explaining who we are, what we do, and why teachers might be interested in us is available but not explicit. I think image placement and/or navigational icons could help with this.

For example, the primary navigation bar, shown now as purple blotches of paint, could include the major component of who/what we are, yet the Summer Invitational Institute one of our most important programs is not there. While the institute is discussed front and center, this would be the perfect place to have a photo, or better yet, slide show of photos, showing who we are or what the summer institute is.

So overall, I would say my main complaint with the MWP site is that it lack identity and purpose in that 1) the content doesn't accurately represent our organization 2) the placement of content, especially photos placed in lower right hand corner of page, does little to spur interest in our organization, and 3) the lack of a heading system that cues organization of content, makes it very easy to get lost in the site.

Red Cedar Writing Project


For my example of "good" design, I've chosen the Red Cedar Writing Project's website. What jumps out at me about this website is it placement of the teacher front and center. The image almost functions as a hook into the site, by leading you to the story about the teaching consultant who is working on the podcast. This placement of image and content, speaks volumes about what the Red Cedar project is, teachers teaching teachers.

As for organization of content, there are two main navigation bars. The top bar placed just above the photo, seems to be geared toward those outside the writing project, including info. on the summer institute to recruit new teachers. The bottom bar, placed just below the photo, seems to be geared to those teacher consultants already in the writing project, with icons linked to pages related to news, events, and related networks. There is not spatial organization cues like this on the MWP website.

This organizational formatting continues with similar black tool bars and headings continuing into the following pages, with headings at the top of each page to remind you where you are.

New York City Writing Project


Also worthy of mention is the New York City Writing Project's website. While it is very web 2.0 with various interactive options, such as blog and wiki features, its placement of info. on the home page is so busy, which intuitively I find off-putting. Even though I am an NWP insider who feels quite comfortable playing and browsing online, I feel like an outsider in need of orientation, to do anything on this website. If their purpose to to attract new teachers to their project, this site doesn't seem to me like it would be very effective in doing so.

December 10, 2007

screen lit logic (ci.5410.11)

The challenge for the composer, then, is to capture that memory-laden thrill for the viewer, inventing a uniquely visionary world from carefully chosen fragments of the existing one.

from "Box Logic" by Geoffrey Sirc in Writing New Media

Reading Geoffry Sirc's description of what he calls "box logic" has opened up new ways for me to think about video composition. First of all, it is his description of the writer not as creator of text rather as the selector and collector of statements (p.116) and his use of the box as a space to see text as a collection (p.112). In seeing text as a box, we move away from the linear norm of prose and "renew existence" (p.121) of objects by placing these words, phrases, images, sounds, etc. into new settings.

This focus on collecting as composition highlights the interpretive work that goes into choosing and layering different forms of media together such as the intermixing of sound, image, and text done in video composition. Much like in writing, Sirc claims that there is a material desire involved in this practice of collecting. (p.1190

This focus on desire, helped me to realize when I was tapping into the box logic and when I was not. For example, my first attempt was this box logic composition on ice fishing. Unlike Jen Budenski's box logic on Princesses as a cult of womandhood, my piece captures no "memory-laden thrill" and displays no interpretive insight, or as Sirc would call it "poetry" In fact, I had little desire to revise or revisit this piece even though I was interested in the topic.

All that said, I did experience much pleasure when picking and placing the material statements for the video composition below, which I argue is a form of box logic in itself. While it probably doesn't offer any interpretive insight, I do feel that it pulls together different semiotic forms to construct and capture a "memory-laden thrill" at least for those related to my son, Oliver.

In "Papie, Pizza & Poop" all of the video clips were randomly filmed. By themselves they offer no coherent narrative. Yet, pulled together under the guise of "first words" they become a collection of sound bites. The music, with its nostalgic feel, also plays into this collection of sound and adds to the memory thrill.

Papie, Pizza & Poop

words words.png

Overall, I would say that my mommy blog, Oliver Haiku, is a form of box logic. It is here that I use technology to scrapbook. In so doing, I renew the practice of scrapbooking. While the materiality is different, in its digital rather than physical presence, it is still material. Most notable is the power of sound whether voice, or music and how it impacts the body via emotion. I surely could go on and on about this, but I'll stop here for now, certain to return later.

November 20, 2007

podcasting 101 (ci.5410.10)


While I'm not as enthusiastic as Mike Dionne, who claims that podcasts come close to being the Holy Grail of utility in the classroom, I would agree that podcasts hold much potential in terms of increasing our awareness of the persuasive impact of sound in the multimodal messages we consume and produce daily. That said, I think we need to be critical of how we implement podcasts into our curriculum.

Evans, discusses using podcasts to supplement readings and analysis of literature. I'm sure that the new medium was motivational for students. Yet, I wonder how much the potential of the podcast mode of expression and genre of information delivery was harnessed.

What I worry about is that we will use this new tool only as a glorified voice recorder to produce and share vocal performances of text. While recording the voice has benefits in terms of language awareness and comprehension, it does not address all of the many other sounds that layer in between and on top of the voice to influence its meaning and delivery. Through a thoughtful consideration of the podcast genre, its community defined conventions and uses, we can better understand how podcast distribution is changing cultural flows of information.

Voice Thread: Composing with sound stitch by stitch (ci.5410.9)


I am very drawn to the simplistic sound and image layering made possible through the interactive software at Voice Thread. I think the site has much potential in terms of a classroom tool for composing, publishing and sharing work. It is one of the few sites that allows one to work with images, sound, and video in a way that is interactive. Unlike video composition which requires a camera, and editing software, it takes very little equipment to create these multimodal voice threads beyond a computer with a basic microphone. There are many different ways this software could be used. Listed below are just a few possibilities to get the wheels turning.

Layering Voice and still Images:
-- personal memoir -- students could chose 3-5 images from a significant event. They then could write small voice over scripts for each image.
-- expository slide shows -- students could chose images from a historical event and then do research to write short descriptions or narrative vignettes to describe the event. (See Hurricane Katrina Example)
-- literature response -- students could choose images to describe characters, scenes, emotions, symbols, etc. in literature. They could then use the voice recorder to document an paragraph explaining the significance (see Favorite Poems example-- This voice thread is composed of a collection of students reading their favorite poems aloud. while the image does not change, the voices rotate.)

Interactive Video Share:

video doodle.png

Video Doodling -- this new feature, which allows one to upload small clips of video and then comment and doodle on them has huge potential for sharing video for feedback. I can see small groups of people sharing their videos with each other via this site. Unlike YouTube, Voice Thread allows one to directly engage with the video by doodling on top of the images/video. Plus there is the ability to give feedback via voice and/or video instead of print comments.

Voice Thread goodies:
What is a Voice Thread? demonstration
Jen' Budenski's posting on Voice Thread--an excellent example of archiving oral histories
Voice Thread Forum -- a space where educators and other users meet up to post questions on the practicalities of using and implementing Voice Thread into their classrooms.

Sound Writing: Reflections on my first podcast (ci.5410.8b)

As I look back on my experience composing a podcast for the first time, (check out my podcast interview with Larissa Anderson) there are few observations I have to share.

My focus kept changing. Pre-interview, I started with three questions that contrasted print writing with radio writing. Yet as we got into the interview this whole idea of storytelling emerged and the aspects of sound that play into that storytelling process. So I ended up adding more and more questions about this storytelling process. Then, as I was editing the tape, yet another focus emerged, which was "treatment" of stories. While I had enough tape to have a forty minute podcast, I decided to focus specifically on the writing process in terms of treating the story.

Editing is a long and involved process. Just as Larissa described in my interview with her, listening and logging the tape is a long monotonous process. Our original interview produced 31 minutes of tape, which I didn't think was very much. Yet it took me just under eight hours to edit that half hour down to 5 and a half minutes.

Pacing and Tone:
During my eight hours of editing, I encountered some problems with pacing and tone. As I whittled away at quotes to include, I noticed that the pacing was choppy. In some pieces, Larissa was talking very fast and with an animated voice, while in others her voice is more relaxed and reflective. When these pieces are put so closely together they sound a bit shifty. I tried to break up this pacing and tone contrasts by inserting my own voice connection pieces.

"Talking into the Tape"
Larissa talked about the process of talking into the tape, or having a conversation with the tape. I found myself doing the same, especially towards the end of my editing when I had to re-record my questions to better connect the voice pieces. I had to really listen to the words Larissa was using in her responses so that I could then use some of her concepts, her visuals, to bridge the pieces together.

How does this relate to video editing?
Overall, I've found this process to be very helpful in thinking about the process of visual composition. Much like a specific image my drive my video drafting, a sound or a phrase drove my editing of this interview. This sound and image driven process is a bit unwieldy for me. I'm so use to harnessing my ideas down onto the page in the form of an outline. Yet, an outline doesn't work with words and sounds. So then how do we organize our ideas that come to us outside of language? Maybe I need to start using other scaffolding techniques such as storyboard, etc. to organize all of these layers. Whatever it may be that I need--I still have yet to figure it out--as teachers we need to discuss these differences in process. The writing process as we know it doesn't fully capture all the layers involved in these multimodal compositions. It will be interesting to see how the writing process is reconceptualized to better incorporate these modes.

Talking into the Tape: The Craft of Radio Storytelling (ci.5410.8a)


An interview with MPR producer Larissa Anderson:
Click Here to Listen to the Interview (5:30 minutes long)

In this interview, I ask Larissa about her experience working on the MPR show, In The Loop. Larissa shares with me her writing process from interview, through sound editing, to final product. Of interest is her discussion of radio's treatment of stories and how storytelling serves as a conceptual framework for inquiry and drafting.

To learn more about Larissa's work, and her show In the Loop, visit her people page at

Also of special note is her work with songwriters documenting the creative process involved in composing songs. Check out more at "Songs from Scratch" a radio show she produced in Summer 2007.

songs from scratch.jpeg

October 16, 2007

Who's meaning is it anyway? author intention vs. audience reception (ci.5410.6)

Clicking through flickr, I stumbled on the photo collection of BrittneyBush. Reaching near 3,000 photos, this photography participates frequently in posting photos and comments. I was taken in by her eye, "making strange" the normal objects our eyes gloss over daily. Her photo collection is quite stunning.

Also of interest were the different groupings she had of her photos under the heading "Best of." Below are two shots I decided to feature, for reasons I'll got to below. In the meantime, take a moment, to indulge in some short slide shows to get a feel for how other's view her work and for how she views and her work.

Yes, It's A Glamorous Job -- from Best of...Other's Favorites
Britney Bush photo.png

Access Denied -- from Best of...The ABCs of Brittney
Brittney's chairs.png

What is interesting to me about these two collections is how each has its own character or style. What BrittneyBush likes best about her own photo style is not necessarily what others find most appealing about her work. The photo "Yes, It's a Glamorous Job" seems to involve BrittneyBush making a statement about the irony in societal depictions and expectations of women. Yet, when you read through the 140 comments posted to this photo, only a few address this possible meaning. Most people focus on the subject's body and accessories and make little note of the conflicting images (toilet bowl, rubber gloves) even though BrittneyBush's tags for the photo suggests some sort of social critique. Tags include: me, self portrait, housewife, righteous feminist indignation, it's not that I'm unhappy, it's just that somehow, this is not what I had planned on, sexy.

I don't mean to say that the other viewer's interpretations are wrong, rather that meaning is fickle. Although we put so much effort into our production and presentation of ideas, we can't control what happens to them once we put them out there. Others will receive them and us how they will. All that said, even though "Yes, It's A Glamorous Job" isn't one of BrittneyBush's personal picks, I love this photo for its irony, and would place it in her best of.

October 8, 2007

wiki as a pedagogical tool: problems and possibilities (ci.5410.5b)

As I prepare to work with preservice English teachers this coming spring, I've been thinking a lot about how I want to use different interactive software such as blogs and wikis.

I have a pretty good idea how I plan to use blogs. Last year I had students create and maintain indivual professional blogs. Some students told me that visiting and comment on each others' blogs was the first time that they were able to interact with their classmates ideas. So, I plan to do something very similar to the profressional weblogs.

My concern in writing now is to explore the wiki as a writing tool. I used the wiki this past summer with practicing teachers as part of the Minnesota Writing Project's Summer Invitational Institute. We used the wiki as a space to collaborative engage and write about books that we were reading in small groups. While collaboration was the goal of the wiki, I don't know how much this actually happened. My hope was that the groups would use the wiki to gather and link online resources and perhaps post comments and questions about the book. Then, I thought they'd actually sit down to collaboratively write, making decisions together on content, voice, and examples. From the feedback I gained, it seemed that most groups just devided the task among people. So rather than working collaboratively to create meaning, the group members worked individually on similar content.

What was a beautifly example of collaborative work were the final projects that the teachers presented about their book's. As a group, they needed to decide on what ideas to focus and how to present the material in an engaging way for the rest of the institute participants.

With this is mind, I'm trying to think about how I can restructure the book club reading responsibilities in a way to promote this collective problem solving. What are my goals, and how does the wiki meet these goals? These are the questions I need to think about.

to be continued...

launching nonikwe (ci.5410.5a)

Victoria Davis, from The Cool Cat Teacher blog, calls her classroom wiki a "virtual hub of all classroom activities". In an attempt to herd together my many straying and fragmenting research interests, I have started a research wiki. I hope that this wiki will hub together all my digital musings, teaching, and play.

In the meantime, take a peek... Nonikwe's Rabbit Hole

October 2, 2007

comic thoughts: an experiment in spacial processing (ci.5410.4)


Here lies my attempt to use a graphic organizer to organize my thinking. Inspired by how Krista Kennedy's students were "transforming text" with Comiclife to map out content, I decided to try some of the visual options and sounds effects for myself. I enjoyed the sound effects, especially the stretching sounds, that accompanied my movements of text bubbles across the page.

Sounds aside, however, I actually felt hindered in my ability to think through my ideas. In fact, when I finished I felt farther from my topic than when I started. I admit that this may have nothing to do with Comiclife. Maybe what this reveals is my dependence on the pen and paper to process through the initial stages of writing. I may be a digital native in some aspects of composition, but definitely not in terms of digital brainstorming.

September 25, 2007

my first "vlog" entry: process and product (ci.5410.3)

dinkytown screenshot.png

So here it is--my first attempt to produce some type of digital narrative beyond a photo slide-show. Already there are so many things I would revise. But alas, a deadline forced me to publish it as is. Thank you for deadlines. While the final product is not much to be excited about, I am very interested in the process that lead to this process.

(For a product that I think is worthy of viewing check out Carlos Virgen's Dinkytown Steak House. This is a "product" that I'd eventually like to play with--especially in terms of his use of diegetic sound and voice.)

... in terms of process I can't help but think about how much the images drove what I decided to focus on. Eventhough my interview with Jim contained much more information on the internet's impact on used book stores, I feel that the images and footage I had reflected more the "feel" of the store. So, I found myself playing up that aspect in my final product.

Continue reading "my first "vlog" entry: process and product (ci.5410.3)" »

September 24, 2007

Depicting Dinkytown: collaborative inquiry (ci.5410.2a)

My experience researching about Dinkytown for our collaborative wiki project started out with some informal Google searches, which resulted in pretty much the same links that everyone else had found and already added to the wiki. Another obstacle for me was figuring out what I wanted to focus on for my research. Knowing that we would eventually turn our research findings into some form of a video blog entry increased the stakes in terms of process and audience. It’s one thing to throw words up onto the screen and another to weave together sound, image, and text to create some cohesive narrative. For some reason the fact that it will be a video makes the sense of audience seem larger and less forgiving.

Anxieties aside, I finally decided to “write what I know? and do a feature on Cumming’s Books, an independent, used-book store where I used to work. Focusing on something I already knew, allowed me to reallocate my energies to the actual research and production process.

Articulating how this research unfolded is somewhat difficult considering I’ve never researched with a visual end-product in mind, which is something to keep in mind as I consider assigning a similar project to my students. Some of my questions include…

To what extent did images influence my research question?
How much did that desired image or mood influence what data I gathered?
To what extent is there a visual discourse or grammar already shaping how I view my topic?
Will my images convey the same depth for the viewers that they contain for me?
How will I use language to project meaning into images and vice verse?

While I still fumble in my attempts to answer these questions, I’ve found Jason Ranker’s (English Journal, 97.1) description of fifth graders’ digital video production to be a helpful start. In his case study, he describes the literacy practices involved in video composition/production as moving “markedly into the visual realm? (2007, p. 78).

Much like the students in Ranker’s study, my reading of online texts was nonlinear, a navigating from one site to the next via a network of hyperlinked texts. McNabb et al. (2005) describe this type of buffet reading as requiring the reader to quickly evaluate the “value, sufficiency, relevancy and validity? of information in order to filter and sift through various sources. I don’t know how well I was able to evaluate the sites I visited, but I would agree that my clicking through sites was an attempt to move through the enormous amounts of energy. Furthermore, knowing that my end-product would be visual, influence my evaluation of these sources. For example, some sources did not have very informative text, yet I found the images to be helpful.
See also my other explorations in online inquiry...

my research wiki, nonikwe's rabbit hole, devoted to digital literacies. I just started this wiki this month. My hope is that it will keep me organized.

(Below is the product of a new feature I just discovered, wherein I can link articles directly to my blog at the click of a button, while I'm doing research using the university databases/indexes. I don't fully comprehend the utility of this, but I'm sure it will come in handy eventually.)

Designing Meaning with Multiple Media Sources: A Case Study of an Eight-Year-Old Student's Writing Processes

Author: Ranker Jason J
From: Research in the teaching of English
Date: 20075
Volume: 41
Issue: 4
ISSN: 0034-527X
Pages: 402-434

September 8, 2007

Ken Burns and the art of digital memories (ci.5410.1b)


There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you. --Maya Angelou

Art is the transfer of emotion from one to another. --Tolstoy

both quoted by Ken Burns on 9/5/07

This past Wednesday, I had the fortunate opportunity to go see Ken Burns preview and discuss his new documentary film, The War. I knew that I was in for a treat. I had been enchanted by his work, The Civil War, the way in which he layered still images, music, and voices reading poems and letters of Civil War soldiers and survivors. Also, I had heard him speak on NPR and was impressed how articulate he was about his craft of using film to archive memories.

The power of memory and emotion in film came up again last Wednesday, when Burns described the role of documentary filmmakers as "emotional archeologists" who collect and our "greatest inheritance", memory in order to avoid preventing historical amnesia. This focus on emotion got me thinking a lot about the co-presence of auditory modes such as music with visual modes such still photos and moving images. Layered together, these two elements are very powerful for evoking emotion. Then when you add the voice over, narrating related content the experience is intensified. No wonder, YouTube and videoblogging have been so popular.

So I guess you could say Burns pushed my thinking on videoblogs and video sharing sites like YouTube. Videos, or "vids," allow writers/composers to capitalize on the various rhetorical resources that surround us such as the emotional potency (pathos) of music and images. The presentation of info. using these elements has a very different effect on viewers. Those who watch Burns' documentaries (or any documentaries for that matter) will experience the Civil War in a very different, perhaps more visceral way than if they were to only read an illustrated book recounting the same content.

I don't mean to say that video will replace writing, because it won't. Writing will always have it's specific form and purpose. However, if we are to consider the fairly easy distribution of video files for communication (e.g. the YouTube forum), we can't ignore that this medium is becoming an increasingly preferred mode of persuasion.

So how does this all relate to Ken Burns? Well, first of all, we all have memories, something Burns takes very seriously. Secondly, we and especially adolescents are drawn to consuming and composing multimodal texts. So, how can we as educators better tap into the multimodal draw of video composition/blogging to get our students to more deeply examine memories and related issues to write expository pieces?

With this question in mind, I spent three hours trying to find some good documentary vlogs that might serve as models for use in the classroom. My search was not very successful, but I hope to find some in the future. In the meantime, I'm going to try making some documentary shorts to play with the medium myself.

September 5, 2007

Videoblogs/"Vlogs" (ci.5410.1a)

Well, my search for a good documentary vlog, inspired by recently seeing Ken Burns, was unsuccessful. That said, I know they are out there and I intend to find one. In the meantime, I have made a list of some of the blogs that I stumbled upon. I've listed them here for different reasons. They all have a different voice. What exactly I mean by voice when dealing with multimodal texts is still undeveloped--a concept I hope to explore more throughout the next few months.

If I'd have to choose a favorite at this point it would be pouringdown because of its artistic play with images. I feel that the vlog's writer is really trying to re-see things through his camera. I suppose most filmmakers are trying to do this. Also, this vlog features some videos that use extensive voice overs, which get me thinking a lot about how video composition might be used to motivate writing--writing being what you do to brainstorm and plan out a video. To get a feel for what I mean, check out this video "feverdream."

In terms of a vlog that I feel serves as a mentor text, I am drawn to Mom's Brag Vlog I love the way she takes short clips of footage and turns them into gifts for her family and friends, all the while compiling an archive of memories for her daughters growing up. See for example the short video "Telephone". I've been trying to do some of my own memory archiving of mine and my son's relationship. I really enjoy the process of making little videos or slide shows of him. The process of choosing images and music, or deciding what footage to cut and what footage to foreground really slows down my thinking about him and who he is as a little person. Everybody tells me that before I know it he will be going to school and then GRADUATING from school. Making the videos allows me to reflect on what is happening right now in his life. In some cases it actually allows me to better appreciate the little things, such as new words, diaper rash, dinner time, which any parent can say is a messy ordeal.

I'm currently working on a little video called "Pizza." I hope to have it finished and able to post within the next week. All of this play with video composing and editing helps me to better understand the process. Hopefully, it will make me better able to study and teach video composition. In the meantime, I'm having so much fun.


Vlog sites:
Minnesota Stories
(personal picks include: Video Haiku, schmlog,Vlog Dan)

pouringdown (Daniel Liss' vlog)
seven maps (video assignments completed while visiting Montreal)
Mom's Brag Vlog
karmagrrrl (older archives)
90 seconds of Dave

Discussion of Vlogs:

The Film of Tommorow
loaded pun
Henry Jenkins' YouTube and the Vaudeville Aestetic