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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Really New Media

Prepping for the new semester, making improvements to the website students use to access readings, links to viewings and assignments this week.

Peaceful and calm, as the season is upon us, and we enjoy family and friends near and far.

It's hard to see the outline of every pebble from the window of a speeding train, and so it is for me as I watch the mediascape as my students and I travel through time together.

I started teaching in the 1980's when we used textbooks. No DVD's or VCR's in the classroom, no cell phones in students pockets. Presentations were on poster board using cut-outs from magazines and newspapers. Now my students have their own You Tube channels and most feel utterly comfortable using multimedia software that I can't even start up.

We teach in Mass Communication about the industry that I began working in during the 1970's in radio, television and the newspaper in Laredo, Austin, and San Antonio.

Today that industry has effectively been eclipsed by the Internet, in the manner of all mass media, according to McLuhan: the new kid on the block adopts the programming of its predecessor (radio did it to vaudeville, TV did it to radio) and the beat goes on.

Seth Godin, however reminds us that it is more than the-beat-goes-on, because the Internet is a game-changer.
McLuhan might have thought of it as a return to life prior to the invention of mass media, when our stories weren't for sale or selling something (the commodification of information).

Here is Godin from his post today:

"Lifestyle media isn't a fad. It's what human beings have been doing forever, with a brief, recent interruption for a hundred years of professional media along the way. That interruption is fading away, and lifestyle media is resurging. People publish. Instead of denigrating user-generated content (what an obscure way to describe human stories), marketers need to understand that this is what we care about.

We shouldn't be surprised when someone chooses to publish their photos, their words, their art or their opinions. We should be surprised when they don't."

Next to TED Talks, I count this writer as having the most valuable perspective on the Internet. I am encouraged and grateful for the impulses we humans have to share using media, whether via text, video, or the next platform.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

View from the Borderlands: Happy Feast Day, Virgen de Guadalupe, We Need You ...

View from the Borderlands: Happy Feast Day, Virgen de Guadalupe, We Need You ...: In villages all across Mexico, high in the mountains, in the desert and in the jungles of the coasts, people awoke this morning to honor th...

Happy Feast Day, Virgen de Guadalupe, We Need You More Than Ever

In villages all across Mexico, high in the mountains, in the desert and in the jungles of the coasts, people awoke this morning to honor the virgencita, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many are doing the same in the Southwest, in towns and cities.

The thought of this makes me happy inside. I like to imagine the many reasons we are getting up early on her feast day to celebrate. Some of us to give thanks for her help and guidance every day of the year's that's ending. Some of us to pray for a special reason for her protection and care. Some of us to mark the season, the calendar's march forward with a day of worship and thanksgiving; a tradition that repeats without our thinking of it like a heartbeat, a childhood rhyme or story that has become a part of who we are.

Here are the elements: Tonantzin, corn goddess of the Azteca; Juan Diego a peasant traveling to the city for medicine for his ailing grandfather; the apparition of the Virgin on the desert hill at Tepeyac; Juan's refusal to take the Virgin's request for the construction of a church to the bishop; Juan's avoidance of the Virgin; At the third request, Juan accepts her request and carries roses in his tilma to the bishop; the miracle, the tilma transformed from shirt to her delicate image, hands in prayer, standing upon a half moon, drafted into duty to persuade a new nation into Christianity.

Or here is another view. Was the Virgen drafted to emerge yet again?

Was her transformation from Azteca indigenous to Western ideal of beauty simply another way of revealing herself? Of providing us with protection, guidance and hope that fire up our spirits, lead us to do "important work" in the words of Seth Godin?

Have we people in the Americas, and also in Africa, Asia, Europe, the regions of China, India, the Arab world, everywhere we live on this chance planet, stepped forward to mark the end of the seasons for centuries before centuries were counted, to worship our protectors and providers?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Student Video Projects That Will Make You Smile

Students in my Mass Comm 1307 sections (Introduction to Mass Communications) were asked to view Simon Sinek's TED Talks presentation on "Why-How-What" vs. "What-How-Why"

Next, they were asked to read and extract the main ideas from an article that appeared last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the impact of cell phone texting on sleep, and effects of this on academic performance. From these two elements, the students were asked to work individually, in pairs or groups of three to create public service announcements for an audience of entering college freshmen.

The work was done in a total of three days! Some students created particularly fun projects to demonstrate their talents. Here are two examples:

The first is by an individual student, Fred Lindgren.

The second is by a group of three (Jorge Alvarez, Megan Fitzsimmons and Dallas Glowka) who have worked together all semester on projects.