Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Paper Formatting

I forgot to mention that I'd like you to use MLA formatting for your foototes and bibliography. This is especially important for web sites you are citing. Here is a good site that runs down the formatting options for your sources:


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Yes Men

Final Papers and Presentations

Your presentations should be from 10 to 12 minutes long.

  • Start by giving a summary of what your paper is about. The first thing you should do is let the class know your thesis -- what theory you aim to prove, or what range of work you are analyzing and what questions you aim to answer about it. If you are reading your thesis right from your paper, be sure to rephrase it in more conversational terms after reading it. Your thesis should be about questions, not answers -- get us into it by showing there is a problem that you are seeking to solve.
  • Then, you should go through a few examples from your paper that support your thesis. For instance, if your thesis involves the fact that education in the classroom has been transformed, for better or worse, by the use of technology, you should have about three solid examples of this. You should have pros and cons -- you should try to look at your examples from different angles. If the examples are not answering questions for you, they will not be interesting to anyone else.
  • For your conclusion, you should return to your thesis -- rephrase it if you'd like once again to remind us what you said earlier. Then show how the examples support or negate your thesis, and tell us what you've concluded.
The easiest way to think about is that you are telling a story. Try to make it conversational. Make eye contact with the class, use your own speaking voice. Your presentations in class have been pretty good so far so don't worry too much about it.

New terms: it is a sign to me that you have done a lot of work on your paper if you introduce terms that we are unacquainted with. Sometimes, these terms might seem quite simple -- the term "cool," for instance, has a very different meaning for advertisers than it does for us -- so you have to let us know that you are using it in a different way.

If you are using multimedia: don't show any videos or anything that lasts much longer than 3 minutes unless necessary. Make sure it is well integrated into what you are saying about your thesis. Make sure you introduce the video properly, and also comment on the video after it is done. This also goes for long passages you are quoting, etc. Put the videos on your blog so you can access them quickly.

Hand-outs/PowerPoint: you can use hand-outs for items that need to be seen visually, or you could use a PowerPoint presentation, but don't rely on the Powerpoint to do the work for you. Don't use silly graphics with PowerPoint for the sake of it, only if you think it helps set the mood for your presentation.

Question and Answer Period: Every student in the class should pay close attention to the presentation and I expect everyone to have a question for the presenter. Please don't be absent for class on these two days. You don't have to ask a question for every presenter, but I'll be keeping track of who is asking questions during the two days of presentations.

Research Papers: These papers should be well researched and constructed like a proper paper, with an introductory and concluding paragraph, etc. The style need not be academic or dry, but should be thoughtful and coherent. These papers should be from 6-8 pages long (visual supplements do not count in the page count). Please don't use any filler; stick to your points and keep it lean. Put any visual aids for your paper on your blog so I can refer to them.

Format style: All papers should be in 12 point type (in Times Roman or similar font with serifs) with 1.5 spacing and 1 inch margins. They will be marked down if not in this format. Research papers should have the proper biography and footnotes where applicable.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On Worldbuilding

I found this on BoingBoing and thought it was interesting in relation to narrative and video games. It's from a blog by some guy I've never heard of:

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Links for Monday

Next week, we'll be covering web parady, hacktivism, memes, machinima, mash-ups, detournement, and other forms of unofficial "net art." "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" falls under this category.

Here are the presentations that I assigned last Friday, including the links that I've associated with them (but you can add other material if you find it):


Joanna: mash-ups
(there are tons of mash-up projects about this, but one of the most famous is The Grey Album http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grey_Album)

Alyssa: machinima
(again, there are tons of examples, but the most famous is probably Red vs. Blue -- you should plan to show some of them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_vs._Blue)


Melissa: memes
(find a few good examples to illustrate the concept and plan to show some -- this website actively tries to propogate them: http://www.fark.com/)

Danielle: detournement
(this is a concept that was conceived by the Situationists -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situationist_International -- but I don't expect you to report on them, just find examples of detournement that you can use)


Annalysa: hacktivism, "Blackness for Sale"
(try to talk about another example of "Hacktivism" that you find through the wikipedia entry, but concentrate on Keith Obadike)

Kathryn: outsider art
Outsider Art: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsider_art
(try to find one or two good examples of "Outsider art" that you find through the wikipedia entry)

Stuff I will probably talk about:

The Yes Men


Found Art at Ubu.com:

Hillary Clinton Meme

Snakes on a Plane Trailer

Final Presentations

Wed., 25
Ben Esser
Brian Sullivan
Tom McCarthy
Jackie Dunay
Melissa Garafolo
Megan Errickson

Fri., 27
Annalysa Coleman
Kathryn Tomlinson
Joanna Christen
Danielle Sanzone
Alyssa Machado

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Second Life and Education

From (where else?) Wikipedia:

Education in Second Life

Second Life has recently emerged as one of the cutting-edge virtual classrooms for major colleges and universities, including Harvard, Pepperdine, Elon University, Ohio University, Ball State, New York University, Stanford University, Delft University of Technology[32] and AFEKA Tel-Aviv Academic College of Engineering.[33] Second Life fosters a welcoming atmosphere for administrators to host lectures and projects online, selling more than 100 islands for educational purposes, according to a New York Times article.[34] The article quoted Rebecca Nesson, an instructor at Harvard who brought her Legal Studies class to Second Life in the second half of 2006. "Normally, no matter how good a distance-learning class is, an inherent distance does still exist between you and your students," she says. "Second Life has really bridged that gap. There is just more unofficial time that we spend together outside of the typical class session." Joe Sanchez, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin evaluated the use of Second Life in education in an interactive qualitative analysis, finding that once students overcome the technical and interface difficulties with Second Life, they "indicate a preference to social learning activites and find it enjoyable to interact with other avatars while learning in this space".[35]

Issues and criticisms

Because it is under constant development, and is an open environment that can be used by almost anyone with broadband internet access,[40] Second Life has encountered a number of challenges. These range from the technical (Budgeting of server resources) and moral (pornography) to legal (legal position of the Linden Dollar, Linden Lab lawsuit).

Prior to June 6, 2006, all Residents were required to verify their identities by providing Linden Lab with a valid credit card or PayPal account number, or by responding to a cell phone SMS text message.[41] (Residents providing information were not charged if their account type cost nothing to create.) After that date, it became possible to create an account with only an e-mail address; even standard verification methods such as e-mail reply verification are not used.[42] Access to Teen Second Life still requires credit card details. Linden Lab has the ability to ban Residents from Second Life based on a hardware hash of their local PC,[43] preventing them from returning with other accounts.

In January 2007, two articles were published on the Internet which compared the economy of Second Life to a pyramid scheme.[44][45] In the same month, a "virtual riot" erupted between members of the French extremist party National Front who had established a virtual HQ on Second Life, and opponents, including Second Life Left Unity, a socialist and anti-capitalist user-group.[46][47][48][49] Since then, several small internet based organizations have claimed some responsibility for instigating the riots.[50]