This past quarter for Writing with New Media II, our emphasis turned from specific themed analytical hypertexts to conceptual remixes in both written and visual form. In the fall quarter of Writing with New Media I, my hypertexts were based on specific themes of my choice derived from books read in class. For instance, in the book Nickel and Dimed, a prominent theme was low wage jobs and the inequalities and dangers that are present within them. Using that theme for my hypertext assignment, I chose to write on migrant farm workers and report on the dangers along with the inequalities in the living communities of the migrant farm workers. The first project I did in Writing with New Media II required me to do an analytical hypertext similar to the task of the migrant farm worker hypertext in that my theme would have to be derived from a novel. However, the theme for my new hypertext would be an interpretation and extension of a theme presented by Cory Doctorow in the novel. For this project, I chose to base my hypertext on the theme of a failing prison system in the United States as well as the correlation between youth, a failing education system, and prison demographics. This hypertext for me posed the greatest difficultly because it required me to critically analyze Doctorow’s position on the subject and understand the novel on an abstract level, pulling from the many themes in Doctorow’s novel to create a thorough hypertext. After the analytical hypertext, we continued working with Cory Doctorow’s novel, but we transitioned from hypertexts to visual media. We first worked with “Bitstrips”, an interactive website that allows you to create comic book strips, and used it to create our first remix of Cory Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother. A remix as we learned in class was an altered version of a book, play, song, or anything media while still keeping some of the core elements of the original work. For my bitstrips remix, I chose to keep the theme of the power of technology, but I changed the context it was used in and exaggerated the scenario. Our next project was another form of remix, called “machinima”. In machinima you use 3D software, such as video games or virtual online worlds, to create a short film that is a remixed form of a script. As individuals, our class came up with a remixed script for a screenplay and after class critiques and revisions we each had a final script. From our final scripts our professor chose 3 to be turned into animated films through the use of the interactive website Second Life. As our groups began the production process, we first assigned roles: director, producer, editor, sound, and props, and from there turned to creating the characters and settings for the scenes. Once the setting and characters were gathered we began filming, which required a lot of cooperative action from each group member, patience, and some knowledge in technology usage. After our filming, we recorded the voiceovers for the characters on a separate voice recorder. Finally, we began editing, which required the cutting and mashing of scenes together to work in unison with the voiceovers. Fortunately, my screen play was chosen to be filmed and I was able to watch my written work turn into a visual composition. Our last project of the quarter was another hypertext, however it was different in that it was not analytical, but rather was a hypertext based on a remixed version of Little Brother. For my final hypertext, I chose to write a poem celebrating differences on the theme present in Little Brother that explores how differences can bring positive change. Along with my poem, I included different forms of media: video, song, and written word, to make it more visually interesting as well as go along with the theme of the class: writing with new media.
This past quarter in Writing with New Media II I have learned many things. The first thing I learned was the skill to better critically analyze a piece of literature. In reading Little Brother, there were many themes that were subtle and some of which were interconnected. Through discussions in class as well as the assignments, I was able to better recognize key concepts in my readings and to see the broader context of the literature. The second thing I learned was a greater appreciation for screen play writers as well as movie film crews. Before writing my screen play, I had the impression that it would be an easy task because it would be similar to writing normal everyday speech. However when I began writing my screen play, I realized how difficult it was to keep an interesting plot continuous through casual speech as well as the difficulty of writing casual speech. After production started, I only grew to appreciate movie film crews more because I became familiar with the hardships of filming. Filming required many more aspects than what I had believed to compose of simply an actor in front of a camera. Along with character positioning and backgrounds kept in mind, camera angles and movement were key factors that were crucial to good production. Aside from just the shooting of the film, the editing is also a difficult and time consuming task that is vital to the end look of the film.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed this second quarter of Writing with New Media because although the tasks required more time and effort on my behalf it exposed me to the many different media forms of expression and gave me a greater appreciation for the different media forms.