Morgan’s pinboard for 16 Jan 2015 through 21 Jan 2015

 

Morgan’s pinboard for 9 Jan 2015 through 16 Jan 2015

Morgan’s pinboard for 2 Jan 2015 through 8 Jan 2015

Morgan’s pinboard for 30 Dec 2014

  • Fedwiki Happening: I Don’t Know How to Start, So Let’s Just Type | Hapgood – Hard? Since when does hard put us off? I read lit theory for breakfast, overthrow six well-won assumptions by lunch, have preconceptions for dinner. Bring it on! "Federated wiki is not hard like setting up a Jekyll instance hard, or the ten steps to embed a YouTube video hard. It’s not hard like “I have to learn to edit video” hard.

    It’s hard like Red Pill Hard." – (sfw social_software )

  • Reading list for graduate seminar in digital humanities (Fall 2014) | William G. Thomas III – It’s time to work on syllabi for Fall courses, order books, and prepare readings. With the DH2014 Conference in full swing I am thinking about assignments for my graduate seminar:… – (course DH syllabus )
  • Home · Introduction to Digital Humanities – January 23, 2014 Thanks for making our first day of class so productive and engaging. Just from listening to our initial discussion, I can tell that we’re going to have a lot of fun this… – (course syllabi DH )
  • Odyssey.js · Documentation – Odyssey.js is an open-source tool that allows you to combine maps, narratives, and other multimedia into a beautiful story. Creating new stories is simple, requiring nothing more than a modern web-browser and an idea. You enhance the narrative and multimedia of your stories using Actions (e.g. map movements, video and sound control, or the display or new content) that will let you tell your story in an exciting new way. Use our Templates to control the overall look and feel of your story in beautifully designed layouts. – (curating DH maps curation )

Morgan’s pinboard for 20 Dec 2014 through 26 Dec 2014

digital media: why think?

From The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan, 1967 (1951)

I just looked over two texts from Rutledge for possible use in digital writing and rhetoric courses, and came away disappointed. Saddened. Without anything good to say. Both books give an unintentionally clear look into the cold heart of darkness that is written mass media. Neither delivers what they suggest they will. Both have a distinctive ordour of journalism-as-marketing-the-brand shaping both the texts themselves and the advice they present as understanding.

Writing and Editing for Digital Media is misnamed. Its emphasis is on writing and editing for digital marketing.

Digital Innovations for Mass Communications has a similar problem in the title: There aren’t any real innovations in the book so much as continuations of the what McLuan critiqued in the 1940s. The Mechanical Bride haunts the interwebs.

Both texts myopically focus on readers as bored passive consumers and writers as lackeys to the market. While they both cover (rather than question) changes in media distribution, they do so superficially, and without concern for semiotic changes in affordances, rhetorical function or situation. They build their work on the purported commonalities: this web thing – it’s not that different when you get right down to it, and Good Writing is Universally Good Writing, as it was codified, variously, by StrunkNWhite, Orwell, and Confucius. Their own directive is poorly worded, oddly aligning “a person writing” with “the principles are”: “Whether a person is writing a news story, novel, letter to the editor, or advertising copy, the principles of good writing are the same.” (Writing for Digital Media, 1.)  Gertrude Stein is just below the surface:

Whether a person is writing. A news story novel, letter, to the editor or advertising. Copy the principles of good writing. The same.

Not far off from How To Write.

In keeping with the easy emphasis on The Universal, the text gives the typical (copy and pasted) lists of Advice (active! verbs!). What seems new are tricks of how to generate heads using Wordle, and how to lace up stories with words planted for SEO. But the goal of the advice betrays the mindset of a marketeer, c 1955: Drugstore shelf space and the cover photo used to be the magic for selling pulp; today, keywords are the new currency.

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION AND USER EXPERIENCE

An important role many, if not most, digital editors are now responsible for is search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines algorithmically find and rank digital content using key words, looking especially in headlines and subheads, in tags typically listed at the beginning or end of the story, and in the HTML’s metatags. When users type words or phrases into a search engine box, the computer tries to match those words with words it has found and recorded previously, and from that matching deliver a list of findings. And though search engines change their algorithms and, therefore, the ways they rank, basically they scan webpages to find repeated words and phrases. So, in terms of search, key words are the currency of the digital realm: you want your carefully determined key words to appear in the places the search engines are looking. Using popular key words will optimize even further the likelihood of your pages coming up in searches, and it is this process of determining and using these key words that is called search engine optimization. The better your key words, especially in your headlines, the higher your content will rank in search results.

And here’s how to do it

Take a look at the article or piece that you are trying to optimize in terms of search. Think about what people might type into a search box to find the story for which you are writing a headline. After you’ve written the headline (and you’ll get plenty of help with this in the next chapter), test out that headline by entering its key words into a search engine to see what comes up. You could also test by entering your entire headline into the search box. The findings will both gauge how “optimized” your headline is for likely searches for your subject, and it will turn up similar content from which you can glean key words to refine your own search engine optimization. Writing and Editing for Digital Media, Editing for Digital Media: Strategies.

You lace up your text, not to create a better article, and not to inform your readers, but to up the article’d search hits. The writers of this text are even chary of suggesting the search-engine optimized article is going to be read: the aim is not reading or any universal but to “further the likelihood of your pages coming up in searches.” Of course, works need to be found, (Morville at findablity.org, now retired, and Ambient Findability) but the aim in lacing up in search terms is to spoof Google into a first-page listing – and readers into clicking the ads.

As for readers: Here’s Digital Innovations’s simplistic sense of audience as content consumer motivated by desire: bored, superficial, but thrifty.

A media user has many motives—a need to be momentarily entertained, a hedge against temporary boredom, a quick accounting of the day’s news, a suggestion for a restaurant and a movie, a way of saving money, and no doubt many others. Content producers must be aware and prepared for several possible consumer incentives that dictate desire. The five chapters in this section use specially designed software that have the potential to satisfy most consumer demands. Digital Innovations, Section IV: Software-Driven Content.

And here is the obligatory nod to convergence culture – the very idea that makes both these texts untenable. Digital Innovations gives a nod to Henry Jenkins’s, keeping the focus on his head-shot rather than his ideas:

“We are living in an age when changes in communications, storytelling and information technologies are reshaping almost every aspect of contemporary life—including how we create, consume, learn, and interact with each other,” writes Jenkins. “A whole range of new technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content and in the process, these technologies have altered the ways that consumers interact with core institutions of government, education, and commerce.” He first called this new age, “media convergence.” Now he prefers, “cultural convergence.” Digital Innovations, 16: Transmedia Storytelling.

But with the next paragraph, they change the direction, away from Jenkins’s emphasis on the activity of the consumer driven by unnamable desire and towards the institutionalized presentation within museums.

As might be expected, Jenkins has much to say about transmedia storytelling. For him, it is “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” However, for our purposes, this definition needs a remix: Transmedia storytelling is a method to distribute the key audible, textual, and visual components of a narrative through digital innovations that enhance the learning experience. As such, it is a culmination of all the background knowledge, assignments, and tools previously discussed, but gets its inspiration from a much older form of presentation—the museum.

This is less a remix of Jenkins than a selective appropriation. Jenkins’s focuses on pro-sumer agency with “A whole range of new technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content and in the process, these technologies have altered the ways that consumers interact with core institutions of government, education, and commerce.” But there’s nothing like the institute of a museum to say Hands Off the Content! Stay behind the velvet rope, children. These artifacts are fragile. They need to be handled by the professionals.

Oh, and did we mention that the only way out is through the Gift Shop? <Click>.

Digital rhetoric is at cross-purposes with these examples of digital marketing-journalism. So where are these two texts useful? In courses that look at how the print market is driven. In courses engaged in media archaeology. In courses looking at digital rhetoric in order to question what is being presented as mainstream values. In courses that aim at authorizing the digital reader, that aim at giving the digital reader some agency other than consumption.

Morgan’s pinboard for 16 Dec 2014 through 18 Dec 2014

  • List of Physical Visualizations – Prime example of curation – open for additions and set up for remixing. Needs an astrolabe. "This page is a chronological list of physical visualizations and related artifacts, curated by Pierre Dragicevic and Yvonne Jansen. Thanks to Fanny Chevalier and our other contributors. If you know of another interesting physical visualization, please submit one! Or post a general comment. – (dh curation data_visualization visualization )
  • [toread] Some Idiosyncratic Reflections on Note-Taking in General and ConnectedText in Particular – "Looking back at my history of note-taking, I notice that there were two significant or radical changes in the way, in which I dealt with my notes or research information. The first had to do with the change from the analog to the digital ways of recording notes, thoughts, and ideas. I am sorry to say that this change led at first to a kind of disorientation and many false steps. I was searching for a new "paradigm" of keeping my research notes, but this search led to nothing–all I have from this time are Word files of papers I wrote. Notes, insofar as they exist at all, exist only on paper." – (notetaking wiki ple via:shannon_mattern )
  • media archeology – a conversation – CTheory.net – The important stuff is always in the footnotes. "Media archaeology is an approach to media studies that has emerged over the last two decades. It borrows from Michel Foucault, Walter Benjamin, and Friedrich Kittler, but also diverges from all of these theorists to form a unique set of tools and practices. Media archaeology is not a school of thought or a specific technique, but is as an emerging attitude and cluster of tactics in contemporary media theory that is characterized by a desire to uncover and circulate repressed or neglected media approaches and technologies. Its handful of proponents — including Siegfried Zielinski, Wolfgang Ernst, Thomas Elsaesser, and Erkki Huhtamo — are primarily interested in mobilizing histories and devices that have been sidelined during the construction of totalizing histories of popular forms of communication, including the histories of film, television, and new media. The lost traces of media technologies are deemed important topics to be excavated and studied; "dead" media technologies and idiosyncratic developments reveal important themes, structures, and links in the history of communication that would normally be occluded by more obvious narratives. This includes tracing irregular developments and unconventional genealogies of present-day communication technologies, believing that the most interesting developments often happen in the neglected margins of histories or artifacts." – (dh theory media newmedia )

Morgan’s pinboard for 15 Dec 2014 through 16 Dec 2014