Week Two Summary

As Professor Bond said it would be, this week was a challenge. In a lot of ways, it felt like getting dropped into the deep end of digital storytelling (hopefully that was the goal, or else this is going to be difficult semester!). I’m getting a better feel for the course, and so far I’m really enjoying it, despite its challenges. The Daily Creates proved to be fun, but they were an added difficulty on top of everything else.

My first Daily Create this week was to stack books and come up with unlikely and creative titles and to come up with a lead-in for the story.

I

loved this Daily Create, because while not specifically asking for a book cover, I had some inspiration from seeing a lot of mediocre paper-back spy novels at bookstores and grocery stores. The name I had generated was way too dramatic and goofy not to use for this.

T

he third Daily Create I did was more goofy. I found a picture of myself making a weird face that reminded me of Shaggy. I used to watch Scooby Doo all the time as a kid, so this one took me back.

The assignment banks were definitely more of a challenge. That said, they were really interesting, and I loved the huge variety of choices. I actually felt that there were too many choices, but I was able to find some posts that fit my personality, and I’m looking forward to doing more.

The First “Problem”

 

The first assignment bank I did was to subtitle a GIF. I chose a clip from Sherlock that I thought was pretty fitting.

Alexander’s March, or, How to Break a FitBit

 

The second assignment bank I did, creating a map of the travels of a fictional or historical character, might have been my favorite as far as how interesting it was. It wasn’t easy, but I did have fun working on it.

 

House Hawkins

 

The third assignment bank I did was the create a house sigil in the style of Game of Thrones. I loved this one, too.

Creating an assignment was definitely hard. Although I am very much into creative writing and have written quite a bit of fiction, coming up with a prompt that related to the spy theme was difficult. Luckily my hobby of collecting fortune cookies came in handy! The fortune cookie generator I found is pretty useful for coming up with short story prompts.

Hopefully next week will be a little more manageable but just as fun!

 

 

 

 

House Hawkins

For my third assignment, I decided to do the Create a Game of Thrones House assignment from the visual assignments. Game of Thrones is definitely one of my favorite shows (PS – all of your fan theories are probably wrong), and as a huge nerd for medieval history this assignment also attracted me from the start. HBO luckily provides this nifty tool to create your house sigil. There are a LOT of combinations of text, background layouts, colors, and emblems to use (you can be pink cupcake on a yellow and blue sunburst background, for example). Coming up with my motto was one of the more difficult parts of this, but I chose a Latin approximation for “liberty or death.” I chose to use alternating birds and bows and arrows for my emblems. The sigil actually looks fairly similar to actual medieval sigils that knights would put on their shields, banners, and surcoats. When I was fairly little, I started getting into etymology, heraldry, and genetics, and I found out my family name is English and comes from the profession of “hawking,” or hunting with hawks, so I thought it was pretty cool and fitting. I wasn’t super satisfied with the way HBO’s tool works (it’s kind of buggy) and it wasn’t as personalized as I wanted it, so I messed with it a little in Photoshop. I turned the birds and bows inward to face each other so the overall design didn’t look too repetitive/boring. I’m pretty big into graphic design and art as well, so this was   a super fun assignment for me.

Alexander’s March, or, How to Break a FitBit

For my second assignment, I decided to do the Google History Maps Web Assignment. Here I’ve created a rough map of the path of Alexander the Great using Google Maps’ MyMaps tool. The MyMaps tool doesn’t give an HTML code or a file to embed, so I’ve included the following link and a screenshot:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WhFuQvcJIa5lWYwQQDtGPQKk5YE&usp=sharing

My first thought when reading the assignment description (to recreate the travels of a literary or historical character using this tool) was to do Alexander the Great. Very few historical figures before the modern era had travelled as far as Alexander. In fact, he marched a total of about 22,000 miles! Most people today have trouble getting in 3 or 4 miles a day. Imagine marching with an entire army on foot or horseback without a phone, computer, A/C or heat, or even basic medicine! The map I’ve created here actually only includes a total of about 9,000 miles, so needless to say I’m very far off. Like I said, I didn’t exactly want to turn this assignment into a history essay, so I used the timelines available from the Encyclopedia of Ancient History and SoftSchools.com to sketch out his travels. The information available on each site is actually pretty sparse, which was probably the biggest difficulty I had with this assignment.

As a history major and someone who’s a huge nerd for ancient history, I found this really fun. It took me about 45 minutes to complete, but after I got the hang of it, I was able to add place after place pretty easily. A lot of the names of ancient battlefields or cities were hard to find because those places have changed hands over time and have been renamed. I also didn’t want to crack open a textbook or biography, so I guessed the general straightest route from place to place (except southwest Iran, where Alexander also stopped – I just forgot to add the city). Looking up the names of cities in online encyclopedias solved that issue quickly, so it was really more of a nuisance than a real problem. Overall, I really loved this assignment. I did something sort of similar to it in History Colloquium, where my class mapped major battles of the French and Indian War with Dr. Sellers. MyMaps actually offers layers of depth beyond what I did here. Although ideally I would have included descriptions with links and pictures for all points on the map, there were so many and each with its own huge significance that I excluded a couple for the sake of time. But, the fact that I got to pick my own favorite person for this assignment was a big bonus, and I hope more people choose it and have fun with it in the future.

The First “Problem”

The first assignment I decided to do for the course was the “Subtitle GIF” assignment. I’ve seen tons of subtitled GIFs on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, pretty much everywhere. Some of them are good, some of them aren’t. The first thought I had when I saw this particular assignment was, “Oh, I’ve seen that lots of times. I can do that easy.” But as I thought about it for a minute, I realized my favorite subtitled GIFs are the clever or funny ones, and that it’s actually pretty amazing that a GIF can convey something we normally need to hear actors saying in order to appreciate. As I was doing the assignment, I figured out the only way to really make that work is through timing. Insert a line of dialogue a little too early or a little too late, and it’s no longer witty or funny – it’s a bit like stepping on an actor’s lines or being off on the timing of a joke. I’m proud to say I think this one actually worked pretty well:

 

The first thing I need was use GIPHY‘s GIF maker to create a gif from a YouTube video. In this case, I used a section from a sort of “greatest moments’ video of BBC’s Sherlock (one of my favorite shows). There are a LOT of awesome moments of dialogue between characters, especially between Sherlock and his arch-nemesis Moriarty. Choosing a moment from all 4 seasons was hard for me, but I remembered this subtle one, and some other Sherlock fans might have too (and will hopefully get the joke in the title of this post).

One of the harder aspects of this assignment was actually inserting the dialogue into the GIF. GIPHY has a pretty cool subtitle tool, but it only works if you want your text to be seen throughout the entire length of the GIF (this would be useful for animated memes, for example). What I needed was a tool that let me insert dialogue at different points in the video, preferably with different colors, as if you were watching a movie. Enter GifNText. So, I used the .gif link from GIPHY and inserted it into the GifNText tool, trimmed the length of the subtitles here and there, and viola. Like GIPHY, GifNText gives you the option of copying HTML or a .gif link for embedding. I especially liked this one because Sherlock, while not specifically spy-themed, does include a lot espionage and subterfuge, and with that, a lot of tropes from the spy genre. Really, go watch it if you haven’t.

Week One Summary

So far, I’m liking this course. I’ve taken more traditional types of classes (I’m a History major), so this is going to be interesting. Nothing has seemed very hard yet, especially since most of my classes have to some degree incorporated social media, blogs, etc. There were a couple of small hurdles for me (just in signing up for a couple of the sites), but really, everything seems interesting at the very least. Needless to say, based on my lengthy post before, I think the spy theme is great. I’m also not the most extroverted person in the world, so I like that we’re getting a good amount of creative freedom while working in a theme that lends itself to mystery. I like that we got to introduce ourselves creatively and that we’ve gotten a lot of great advice. I’m definitely looking forward to this class.

Mission 106

I am a pretty big fan of the spy genre (although probably not as much as some people), so I’m pretty excited so far for this class. (Side note: I love movies, art, and books, so I’ll be referencing those a lot in my posts I’m sure). I’m not really a Ludlum or a Mission: Impossible type of person. For all their faults, I’m more of a fan of the classic era of the spy genre, especially where it overlaps with the noir genre. Two summers ago I listened to the audiobook of A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler, I love Hitchcock thrillers like The Man Who Knew Too Much (both the original and remake) and The 39 Steps, etc. I’m a fairly big James Bond fan, which I get from my dad, and I appreciate the way that modern films have looked back on and played with the tropes (like in Austin PowersKingsman: The Secret Service, and the Daniel Craig films, especially Skyfall). I’ve also been to the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.*

Anyway, to get more to the point, this is a really cool theme to have for the class. I think it will be good motivation and a source for creativity for future assignments.

I am also thinking of taking on a cool spy altar-ego. If so, it’s going to be Richard Hannay (Google it). I may or may not incorporate it into some of my future assignments.

*It’s really awesome and definitely worth the price, but be prepared to do a LOT of walking.

Show Your Work

Austin Kleon’s lessons from his book Show Your Work really refreshed me on some things that will be helpful to me in this class and in my personal life. I’m still getting a feel for what this class will be, so his tips will hopefully help when coming up with ideas. Some of this stuff seems pretty self explanatory, like “Don’t Turn into Human Spam” or “Learn to Take a Punch,” but then again, it’s easy to forget those things, and it’s still a good reminder for anyone trying to promote their own content, whatever that may be.

Number 9 in Keon’s list, “Sell Out,” was one of my favorites. I get tired of people who think they are “above” marketing themselves, especially when it comes to unconventional occupations like writing, making art, making music, podcasting, crafting, etc. Something that Kleon regrettably didn’t expand on is that markets and social media are adapting to the more creative side of the economy, whether it’s through sites like Etsy or through platforms like SoundCloud. Today, it’s probably easier than ever to get one’s name out there without totally sacrificing one’s passion and message.

I also really appreciated number 10, where he says to “Stick Around.” I’ve noticed that some people who put out content quit before they’ve really reached their potential. David Bowie released 27 albums and 121 singles over his career, releasing his last one posthumously, so I don’t really think there’s an excuse. But, some people feel that after they’ve hit their peak, they don’t need to keep producing anything. In this course, I am hoping to put Kleon’s advice to good use, whether that’s “sharing something small every day” or “telling good stories.”