Archive for January, 2008

Immersive Interaction

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2008 by kcalhoun

As we look to the future of interaction, we have to consider the eventual realization of so-called virtual reality, virtual environments like Second Life, and game worlds, where innovations in visualization, simulation and visual entertainment combine to create screen-based realms that offer their own rich brand of immersion. In these environments, interactivity is driven by real-time responsiveness and, in the finest examples, reward systems that encourage innovation and creativity.

Game designer Will Wright is an important figure in the game world. As the creator of The Sims games, he has successfully leveraged the technology to create “toys” that teach, entertain and inspire. Lately, he has been working on a new game that allows players to create working models of the universe, taking the “doll house” concept of Sims to cosmic levels. Watch this video about this new project, called “Spore,” and pay special attention to Wright’s views of the power of games as teaching tools.

Then post a response to the video here, explaining how interactivity sits at the heart of Wright’s and other game designer’s’ creations. How does this level of interactivity define these game experiences? Could these kinds of experiences existed ten, or even five, years ago? Where do you see this all going?

Here’s the video

A Blog Of Your Own

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2008 by kcalhoun

Tomorrow, we’ll create blogs for each of you. To prepare for that, please read this guide to blogging.

Also, tell us about any blogs you visit with frequency and link to them. Why do you regularly visit a particular blog? Do you participate or just lurk in the shadows? If you don’t participate, what’s preventing you from getting in on the action?

One blog I check every other day or so is the blog of my friend, writer Felicia Sullivan. Her blog is a mixture of journal entries, plugs for her upcoming book and radio show and journal and events and readings and appearances (Felicia’s busy), food talk and very real confessions. I started reading just to see what she was up to, then got hooked. Now it’s part of my weekly/daily Internet rounds and I have a complex list of reasons why I return again and again. Just a few: I simply enjoy Felicia’s voice and ideas; I learn a lot about publishing a first book; I learn a lot about the NYC writing scene; I learn a lot about food; I learn a lot about green living; I learn a lot about Gossip Girl.

Do you have a blog like this in your life? Tell us about it.

Web 2.0

Posted in Uncategorized on January 14, 2008 by kcalhoun

Today we did a review, and update, of digital media convergence. The discussion, which covered ideas by Henry Jenkins (participatory culture, the Black Box Fallacy), left us at the doorstep of Web 2.0. In our quest to understand the Big Picture of interactivity, participatory culture has to be addressed, and to do that one needs to spend some time understanding this thing called Web 2.0.

A good start point is this widely-viewed video by Professor Mike Wesch of Kansas State University. Described as “Web 2.0 in under five minutes,” the video demonstrates the Internet’s evolution from a source of services to a platform for a wide variety of content and communities. Please watch the video below, then find another video or explanation of Web 2.0 online and post the link. Tell us what you understand Web 2.0 to be, based on your viewing of these materials. Why is it relevant to our study of interactive media?

NOTE WHAT HAS ALREADY POSTED HERE BY OTHER STUDENTS AND SEEK OUT DIFFERENT MATERIAL. It’ll be a richer conversation if you are coming at it from different vantage points.

Participation vs. Interaction

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12, 2008 by kcalhoun

Something to think about as we move into the “Present” segment of our educational journey. We have spent the first week looking at the origins of interactivity. Now it’s necessary to examine today’s interactive landscape—an environment driven by digital media convergence and the so-called Web 2.0 trends and technologies (or rather, new applications of existing technologies).

So first let’s attempt to get our heads around convergence. One of the leading voices on the subject is Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture and Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program. In his writings and talks, the word “participation” is frequently used. In the context of our class, I’m compelled to ask, “How is participation different from interaction?” Ask yourself this question as you listen to this podcast, featuring Henry Jenkins. (Click on the link, then click on the grey play button arrow on the top left of the page, right above Henry’s picture.)

After listening, write a post in which you attempt to get at the different between “participation” and “interaction”. Please don’t research your response. I want you to think through this and intuitively arrive at an answer.

Why It Works

Posted in Uncategorized on January 8, 2008 by kcalhoun

For this assignment, please find an interactive presentation online and share it with the rest of us. That is, link to it from your post. Given the reading (“Interactivity and Its Effects”), and your own responses to the piece you choose, tell us why the interactive aspect of the production works for you. How does it enhance your experience? How would the impact be limited if it wasn’t presented in an interactive format? And, also, would could be done to further enhance the experience using interactivity?

You can go to any source of your choosing, but a short cut might be the Past Winners of the Flashforward conference festival. We have already looked at some in class, but please explore the winning sites more deeply and find one that you really like. Please check below, noting the posts of others, so that you do not write about something that someone has already covered.

To post a link, use the common HTML tags. That is, type the following where you want your link to appear:

 <a href=”FULLURL”>TEXT</a>

NOTE: BE SURE TO TYPE THIS IN. DON’T CUT AND PASTE IT. If you encounter problems, email me.

Okay, happy hunting. I look forward to your posts.

History of the Hyperlink

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2008 by kcalhoun

Today we talked about many different kinds of interactive experiences—both digital and non-digital. In discussing the digital realm, we identified environmental, non-linear navigation, avatar-based games and community/collaborative interactive types.

Probably the most pervasive source of interactive experiences today is the Internet. And at the heart of those experiences is the hyperlink (in the form of hypertext and hypermedia). What’s the story behind this important innovation? Let’s research and document it together.

First, read this article by Vannevar Bush, a visionary who, in this very essay, plants the seeds for hyperlinks.

Then I want each of you to research an aspect of the story, which involves technologists who were inspired by Vannevar Bush’s essay. You have each been assigned a person or project that contributes to the hyperlink story. Please research your subject and post a 2-3 paragraph summary, emphasizing the hyperlink story.

You can use Wikipedia as one source, but cross reference with others. List your sources at the end of your post. DO NOT simply cut-and-paste text. Write it in your own words.

Here are the assignments:

Eryn: Vannevar Bush
Shenee: Ted Nelson
Lauren: Douglas Engelbart
Scott: The Mother of all Demos
Janus: Tim Berners-Lee
Hillary: CERN
Bethany: Hypercard, Apple Computers

Also, please watch “The Mother of All Demos” (parts 1 and 2 below).

Welcome to Your Class Blog!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 3, 2008 by kcalhoun

So this is where we’ll be having some interesting discussions throughout the semester. It’s hip, it’s new, it’s INTERACTIVE, and all the kids are doing it. It’s blogging!

Blog, as I’m sure you know, is short for web log. The name reflects its common use as an online diary or journal. All posts are displayed in chronological order, with the most recent postings on top. Older posts gradually drop lower on the display list as new posts are added.

During the next three weeks, I will be giving you numerous blog assignments. These will be counted as part of your participation grade. One thing that you should keep in mind is that a post must have some substance. It can’t just be a single word response. More specifically, I’d like all our posts to be a least three sentences long. Also, use proper grammar and spelling; please, no textspeak or emoticons. Ours is what is sometimes called a “literates-only” blog. I will have the opportunity to approve every post, so if I find that your post falls short of our high standards, I will ask you to revise and re-submit. This site is live and open to anyone, so we want to make sure we are well represented.

All right, let’s get started:

As we discussed in class today, “digital media” can be broadly described as communications that are either created with, or converted into, digital code. They can be mathematically described. According to writer Lev Manovich’s Five Priciples of New Media, these objects are programmable—manipulated with a computer. With that broad definition in mind, please tell us in a brief paragraph or two the extent of your experience working with digital media (digital imaging, video editing, desktop publishing, audio editing, etc.). Please mention specific tools. Thanks!