Podcast Reflection

Once you have each completed your podcast episode, the Producer and Assistant Producer should each write separate reflection posts, published to your own sites. Link to the podcast episode post on the course site as part of your reflection.

Your refection should be 250 – 500 words and should be in the form of an essay with complete paragraphs, not as a list of bullet point answers.

Reflection Questions

Include a brief description of your process for developing the podcast. How did you and your co-producer divide up the tasks involved and how did you structure your collaboration? In what ways does your episode respond to the other episodes in the series — in other words, compare your episode to the ones before it, explaining how you gained inspiration from, adapted, or resisted something that your peers did in their episodes.

Please describe your primary goals with the episode that you produced and explain the strategies that you used to achieve them. You’re producing these episodes under a number of time and technological constraints, so it’s likely that there will be some goals that you just cannot accomplish within those constraints — address what challenges arose for you and the choices you made to meet them and/or describe what you would have done differently had you more time/resources available for your episode (in other words, what are some aspirational goals that were perhaps unrealistic given the constraints of the assignment but that you would have liked to have tried to accomplish if circumstances were different?).

How do you see your work on the podcast episode helping you to achieve the learning outcomes for this course? Explain how you met those outcomes with your work on this assignment.

Make sure you address the sets of questions above and then also consider some of the questions below and address them in your reflection (you definitely won’t be able to answer all of these, so go through the list and pick some that seem to be most of interest for you and write about them):

  • Were the strategies, skills and procedures you used effective for this assignment?
  • Do you see any patterns in how you approached your work on this episode? How was producing a podcast similar to or different from writing more traditional essays?
  • What have you learned about your strengths and areas in need of improvement?
  • How are you progressing as a learner?
  • What suggestions do you have for your peers as they go about working on their episodes to come?
  • How can you apply the skills you used in crafting this podcast episode to future writing projects? Where can you use these skills again?
  • What are you most proud of about the episode that you created?

Side Quest 8: A Human Document

Due: 3/22

Tag: sq8

For your eighth Side Quest, you're going to play a collaborative writing game in which you collaborate with a published novelist to write a poem.

The British artist Tom Phillips is probably best known for a project that he began in 1966 and which he has continued ever since–he set himself the challenge to buy the first book he could find at a secondhand bookstore for threepence and to alter every page using drawing, painting, collage, and cut-up techniques to create an entirely new version.

He found W.H. Mallock’s A Human Document and combined the words in the title to create A Humument. Phillips not only created new art works from each of the 367 pages but has now completed five different editions of this altered book.

You can view pretty much the complete series of pages on Tom Phillips site here. You can choose pages, view the original and then view different versions of that page.

For this week’s assignment, I want you to create your own visual poem-thing. You can find your own page to alter if you’d like, but I’ll bring in an old used book that you can take pages from too. Think of it as sort of a collaboration between yourself and the book’s original author or think of it as a game where you get to create new text but within the strict confines of the text available on the page.

Obviously, Tom Phillips has been doing this for almost 50 years and I’m not expecting you to produce work that is as polished or complex as his – nor that is necessarily as visually compelling. And it will probably feel very strange to you as you begin, but just let yourself be playful and experiment with your task. You do not need to be a professional artist to make these pages, but you probably do need to be able to relax your desire to be in control of what you produce and you probably need to turn off the self-critical voice that will tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

Alter your page using whatever methods or tools you prefer, then scan the page in color at a high resolution as a JPG or PNG file and load it to your site. You might or might not include in your post the text of your altered page.

Side Quest 5: Sunday Sketches

Due: 2/17

Tag: sq5

This week let's play a game with drawing! Sort of like last week, when you combined two different photos in order to make a new thing, this week you'll combine an actual physical object with something you draw on a sheet of paper -- it's a game that invites you to see the objects in the world around you in a new, more creative manner.

Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author whose work regularly appears in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. He’s got a mixed media series that he calls “Sunday Sketches,” in which he takes some object from his surroundings and creates a sketch on the page around it. Some of the best such works he’s included in his book entitled Sunday Sketching.

Some examples from Niemann’s Tumblr:

headphone gorilla

paperclip beach chair

cat book

ear bud pipe

avocado mitt

toilet paper tank

You can see that each of these pieces is an actual three-dimensional tangible object placed into a drawing on paper to transform that object into something new. Niemann then photographs the resulting sketch to create a two-dimensional artifact.

For your fifth side quest assignment, I want you to create your own Sunday sketch in a similar style.

  • Take a picture of your sketch and publish it as a post.
  • Give your post a funny or witty title.
  • Write a paragraph or two in which you explain the process whereby you came up with the idea for your Sunday sketch and the choices you made in realizing that idea as an actual sketch.
  • Include a link back to this prompt and tag it “sq5

Side Quest 4: Combophoto

Due: 2/10

Tag: sq4

Let's play a game with photo editing this week! For this week, you'll make a combophoto, which combines two different photos to create a new image.

Stephen Mcmennamy is an Atlanta artist and Creative Director at the advertising firm BBDO. He first came to my attention when I saw his series of “combophotos” that splice together two different images to form a surreal new creation.

Here are a few examples from him:

cauliflower + poodle

paintbrush + spaghetti

bridge + guitar

Take a few moments to look through the images he’s posted on his site linked above or on his Tumblr or his Instagram. Then create your own square combophoto and publish it to your site. You can take your own photos, but probably you’ll want to use CC_licensed images you find on Flickr — make sure you give credit to the originals that you modify to create your combophoto.

The level of technical aptitude for this assignment is actually relatively small, just simple cropping and resizing. The greater part of the challenge is thinking creatively and finding images that you can work with. That said, note that Mcmennamy comes up with ideas and then specifically stages photos to combine, and he seems to often spend significant amounts of time shooting and selecting his images. You won’t have lots of time, models you can hire, or expensive photo equipment to work with, so I don’t necessarily expect your final images to be as polished and perfectly aligned as his are. More important is for you to be playful and come up with images that combine to create something funny or witty or striking.

To edit the two photos together, you can use whatever photo editing software you’d like. Pixlr is a good free web app, as is PicMonkey. Adobe Photoshop is also available for you to use on the computers in the Media Library on the 4th floor of the Woodruff Library.

Once you have your image, publish it in a post on your class site. Don't forget to give it a funny or witty title! Tag your post "sq4"

Write a paragraph about how you went about choosing the two images you combined and why. What challenges did you face as you created your combophoto? What do you think your final image conveys?

Games Podcast: Further Details

Overview

This post contains lots of additional information that will be useful to you as you work on your podcast episodes, mostly focused on nuts and bolts issues like equipment, editing, and so on.

Check out the assignment prompt for conceptual guidelines and roles and for information about what I am expecting from you.

Equipment

The Writing Program has purchased 4 Yeti microphones and placed them on reserve with the Music and Media Library. If you check out one of the Yeti mics, you might want to skim over the manual here.

There are a number of other microphones available for checkout as well, so if the Yeti mics are not available check out something else.

Audacity

Audacity is a good, free, open-source audio editor (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). It’s pretty standard software for mixing podcasts, so I recommend you give it a shot.

There is a very good tutorial wiki for Audacity online — this basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast. It’s not terribly difficult, but there is a learning curve to it and you should definitely make an extra copy of your raw audio files before you start mixing and editing them. Expect for it to take longer than you think it should to do the sound editing and build time for mixing into your plans. There are some students in the class who have a fair amount of experience working with Audacity — make friends with them and ask them for help (make sure to give thanks for their help in your episode credits!).

Exporting as an MP3: Note that probably the most complicated part of using Audacity will be configuring the MP3 encoder. Because of copyright laws, Audacity does not come with a native MP3 encoder so you can’t export as MP3 straight out of the box. You’ll need to download and configure an extra plugin to do so.

Other Software

If you’re already very comfortable with using GarageBand or another sound editing software, you can use that instead.

Student Digital Life also has lots of resources that should be of use to you with this project. If you want to use more advanced software, the Media Lab has the full Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe Audition, available and student assistants who can help you in using it. The Tech Lab is also a great space for you to go to get ideas about how to approach these projects. There are also gaming consoles available in Cox Computing, so if you want to explore games as new media you might stop by SDL and see what you can do.

Recording & mixing guidelines

As I say above, Audacity has a very good tutorial wiki. There is tons of information included there, but this single basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast.

Transom is “a performance space, an open editorial session, an audition stage, a library, and a hangout” that seeks to spread good ideas and practices for public media, especially focused on audio. There’s lots of good stuff there and I encourage you to check them out.

Of special note: “Using Music: Jonathan Menjivar For This American Life.” Menjivar is a producer and music supervisor at This American Life and his essay is a fantastic breakdown of different methods for incorporating music into a podcast episode.

See also, the other pieces in the Transom “Using Music” series.

Podcast hoster Buzzsprout has a pretty good “Podcasting 101 Guide” with some useful tips, including about where to position yourself with regard to the microphone.

Music

You need to be careful when using music to not violate copyright law. Here are 2 really good sites to find Creative Commons licensed music that you are allowed to use:

Free Music Archive. Mostly more contemporary music types, searchable by genre or by other methods.

Musopen. Public domain and creative commons licensed classical music.

Side Quest 3: Liveblogging Gone Home

Due: 2/3

Tag: sq3

As you play through Gone Home for class on Tuesday, I want you to liveblog your experience playing. Liveblogging is an informal  sort of freewriting — while you are in the midst of playing the game, just notice whatever seems interesting to you and pause periodically to note those observations in your blog post.

The game begins on the front porch, with a brief puzzle to get in the front door, and  sets up a little background for the main character and serves as a simple tutorial for basic game mechanics, so launch the game and play through that opening section, then pause the game and open your dashboard. Write a new blog post which starts by announcing that you’re beginning to play through the game and links back to this post (not just the course site, but this specific post). Tag your post with “sq3,” “gone home” and “liveblog” plus whatever other tags you’d like. (You can add tags in the post editor page, in the section labeled Tags, which should be in the sidebar just beneath categories and just above the featured image area.)

Write a paragraph (or a few sentences) responding to that opening sequence. Again, whatever is interesting to you about it — visual and audio style; emotional reactions; how the game establishes setting, time, and character. Perhaps especially think about how the game establishes character given that there is only one person present in the narrative and it’s the first person narrator — without dialog and other traditional methods of defining character, how do the game designers go about doing so? You might make predictions or note expectations for where this game will head.

Publish the post. Once you’ve published your post, you might check out the other students’ posts and see how they responded to the opening sequence — please leave comments on their liveblog posts responding to observations they made!

When you’re ready, go back to the game and play on. When you find a scene that seems particularly cool or beautiful or interesting, take a screenshot and/or write up a brief note about it on your liveblogging post — either leave a comment on your own post or edit the post and add a timestamp plus a few lines of commentary on the end of your post.

Check in periodically with your peers’ responses to the game and pay attention to whether you have similar or different reactions. Leave comments on your peers’ posts too, responding to their observations.

Side Quest 2: What’s in Your Bag?

Due: 1/26

Tag: sq2

Find a relatively large empty space. Take your backpack, messenger bag, or whatever sort of bag you carry around with you regularly, empty all the contents out, and arrange them carefully so that they represent a visual snapshot of the stuff you tote around with you on a normal day. Then take a clear photo showing your bag and the stuff and upload it to your site.

Note that like the avatar or the literacy narrative, this too is a type of autobiographical composition. If you have something in your bag that is private, embarrassing, or for some other reason you don’t want it in the picture then make the editorial decision not to include it. Or vice versa: if you would like to assume a certain kind of persona then you might consider including items in your catalog that might be less than fully true.

Add some text to your post listing the items represented in your photo, preferably adding in a bit of explanatory and/or funny commentary along the way. This can be a paragraph of text or a list or whatever format seems most appropriate for you. When these sorts of posts are done by publications, like say The Verge or Timbuk2, they are often not so subtle efforts at product placement but for our purposes there is no reason for you to engage in such advertising games.

Along with the photo and your description of the items, include a paragraph reflecting on what it was like to craft a self-portrait through this photograph. How actually representative is this image of you as a person? What sorts of choices did you make in order to create the image? What was challenging about this assignment? Is representing yourself in a catalog of the stuff in your bag a type of writing? Why or why not?

Side Quest 1: Avatar

Due: 1/19

Tag: sq1

Objectives:

  • Very basic photo editing
  • Introduction to the concept of Creative Commons
  • Uploading and publishing to your new WordPress site
  • Visual images as representations of complex conceptual topics

Avatar

Once you’ve created your web site, you need an image to represent yourself and/or your site for the class: an avatar. Your avatar can be whatever you want it be but try to create something that both reflects your personality and speaks to the topic for this class in some way.

Start by choosing one or more of your own photos as the basis of the avatar, drawing something yourself and scanning it, or finding one or more CC-licensed images on Flickr that you can modify. Make certain to keep a note for yourself of the URL for the photos you use if they are not your own.

Crop and otherwise edit the photo(s) in a photo editing application (like Photoshop or PicMonkey or Pixlr). You can create a layered or collage effect, if you’d like. Add your name on your badge in such a way that it’s legible — it can be your full name, just your first name, or the nickname you want to be called this semester.

Your final badge should be square and at least 512 pixels wide and high. Please make certain your badge is square so that it will fit into the design on the student sites page.

Publish

When you’re done, you’ll need to put the image two places, with an optional third:

First

Load the badge into your Media Library and publish it to your site in a blog post. (If adding it as a feature image means that the entire square image won’t display, then also insert the image into the post itself.)

Image showing where to add tags and a feature image

Include information and links in the post about the source(s) for images included in your badge.

Write a paragraph or two about why you chose those images, what aspects of yourself and your interests are represented in your badge, and/or what difficulties you faced in creating the badge.

Please tag your post with the tag “sq1,” plus with any additional tags that you think are appropriate.

Second

Go into your dashboard to Appearance > Customize > Site Identity. Load the image as your site icon.

Finally

If you do not already have a gravatar, create a gravatar account and load your avatar there. From then on, your avatar will show up as your picture when you leave comments here and on other students’ sites.

Kickstarter Proposal for Empathy Game

Your group will design a game that aims to make the Emory community better. Then you will create a Kickstarter-style proposal for your game, in which you explain the problem that you have identified, the strategies your game will employ to alleviate that problem, and why this game is a worthwhile intervention that should be developed further.

Fiasco

In groups of 3-5 players, you will play the role-playing game Fiasco. Each of you will receive an email assigning you to a group based on the times you told me you were available to play. You’ll need to find a place where you can meet and play where you can be sitting around a table together.

As your Fiasco group plays, make notes about which playset you chose, the setup information, the dice rolls for Tilt and the Tilt details chosen, and the rolls for the Aftermath and the result from the Aftermath table. This information will help you to reflect on the game session.

Reflection Essay

Length: 500-750 words

Due: 3/3

Then after the game is completed, each of you should write your own Fiasco reflection posts, in the form of an essay with complete paragraphs, not as a list of bullet point answers (500 – 750 words total). I’ve divided up the questions below along two lines, but structure your essay however is best for your argument. Your essay does not need to start with part 1 and then move to part 2. Ultimately, your reflection essay should be an argument where you explicate what you observed in the process, rather than a narrative.

As you reflect on playing Fiasco, I want you to think about the game session itself as a kind of writing while also thinking about the reflection on the experience as a writing exercise. In other words, for this assignment the primary text that you composed is the Fiasco game session and now you’re writing a reflective essay about that writing. Think about and explain in your essay how the game session itself and the reflection you are writing about it bring you to fulfilling the learning objectives for this course.

Note that there are way too many questions below for you to address all of them. You should read over all of them and spend some time thinking about each, then choose to specifically address the ones that will lead to the most thoughtful reflective essay.

Describe the Experience

Without just recounting the narrative in briefer form, describe what the game session was like. Identify some of the key choices that you made (for example, you should definitely indicate which playset you chose and identify the relationships you defined with the two players to left and right, at least) and give a sense of the type of story that you created with the other players in your group. Instead of retelling the story that your group wrote collectively, step back and consider the shape of that story and describe it:

  • What sort of story did you tell?
  • What sort of characters and conflicts did it contain?
  • How did the plot unfold?
  • What sorts of narrative moves did you all make together?
  • How did your Aftermath montage play out?
  • Are you proud of the Fiasco story that you crafted?
  • How was the experience of playing a tabletop RPG similar to, or different from, playing a video game RPG?

As you describe the experience, you should also explain your own feelings and choices during the process:

  • How did you feel at the start?
  • What were you expecting and were you surprised by aspects of the game session?
  • What sorts of roles did you individually take on during the game session?
  • Were there certain times when you were more active or more forceful versus other times when you sat back and invited others to drive the plot forward?
  • Did you take on particular roles during game play (were you the one always turning the story towards comedy? or the one always bringing darker elements in? were you the one keeping the group focused on moving the plot forward or always pulling off towards digressions? were you consistently narrowing or broadening focus?
  • Were you more interested in role-playing your character directly (acting the part) or in describing scenes from an outside perspective?

Pattern Recognition and Learning Outcomes

In your reflection essay, you should also identify patterns that you noticed in your own behavior and thinking and the story that you created. Identify which of the learning outcomes you fulfilled during the process of game play — name the specific outcomes, while providing at least a sentence or two explaining how this composition speaks to that outcome.

You might also address some of these questions:

  • Were the strategies, skills and procedures you used effective during gameplay?
  • Do you see any patterns in how you approached your role in the writing of this story?
  • How was playing Fiasco similar to or different from the other work you’ve done this semester?
  • What have you learned about your strengths and areas in need of improvement?
  • How are you progressing as a learner?
  • How can you apply the skills you used in crafting this Fiasco story to future writing projects? Where can you use these skills again?
  • What was the most interesting aspect of writing a Fiasco story?