Final Project Assessment Criteria

April 11, 2011

How will we be assessing the Creative Project? Ed has noted a few guidelines to keep in mind while developing and creating your project. Have a good read through, and think about how your project addresses each of these.

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Week 7: Reimagining Today’s Media with The Manifesto

April 11, 2011

Ed has written up a great post about the manifesto (“a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature”), and how they can be useful in framing the way we use (and create) contemporary media:

“Think about how your creative work reflects your principles and values; and if it doesn’t, what values is it projecting? Are these the values that you want to be associated with?”

Task: Research the manifestos below (and others listed by Ed) and make a note of any points that inspire you. Write a blog post that describes how these points might relate to contemporary media making.

Example Manifestos:

Futurism Manifesto (1909: “Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.” )
A Short Manifesto on the Future of Attention (The more information, the less attention, and “the need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”)
RIP – A Remix Manifesto A movie about remixing. What is their manifesto stating?
The Freeculture Manifesto “We believe that culture is a two-way affair, about participation, not merely consumption”
Portishead’s new music ‘manifesto’ “There will be no… ”
Locative media manifesto “cyberspace leaking into the real world.. an era of the ‘internet of things’.”
Slow media manifesto “Slow Media are not about fast consumption but about choosing the ingredients mindfully and preparing them in a concentrated manner.”
Dogme 95 Manifesto – A set of strict rules to create film-making based on story rather than special effects or technology.
A DIY Data Manifesto.. Decentralising the web with DIY servers.
Anti-Web Manifesto A plea for ‘rejecting the modern web’ and the way it is designed.
A ‘Web Thinking’ Manifesto “We will let go of control… we will consider it a sign of success to see our brand or message distributed far and wide in ways we could never anticipate.”
The Assembled Web: Notes Towards a Manifesto “Success on the web is no longer about driving traffic to your site, or keeping eyeballs there once they arrive. It’s about engaging audiences everywhere they already are. ”
The Photoshop Etiquette Manifesto for Web Designers “Guidelines intended for any group of people looking to standardize web design in Photoshop”
The GNU Manifesto for free software: “..if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it{
McKenzie Wark’s Hacker Manifesto: “The class interest of hackers lies in freeing information from its material constraints.”
Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction”
Even more? 100 years of Design Manifestos, and via comments to the Post Media Art Manifesto, an amusing automated Manifesto Generator

Today’s group exercise :

Create a mini manifesto for musicians and internet technologies. This should be a short list of points for a musician to consider as guiding principles for 2011 onwards, when they are seeking to create, distribute or publicise their music. We will have a series of brief presentations before the end of the class.

Availability of Mac Labs

April 5, 2011

Via Kipps, here are PDF timetables for the Mac labs in rooms 24 ( level 4) and 27 / 28 ( level 6 ).

 

 

 

Scanning the Field: Australian Music Blogs

April 4, 2011

The Concept Development group blog posts have yielded a nice list of Australian music blogs. I’ve gathered some of these below, and will add to it as others publish. Although these blogs are made by a wide spectrum of people (artists, labels, radio stations and media outlets, music journalists, music critics, general fans), there are some common threads to within the blogs listed below, some common benchmarks that help each of these succeed – good (web appropriate) writing, clarity of design and a good understanding of their audience /readers / network.

– What are some of the writing techniques used? (within blog posts, comments and the wider site. Voice? Style? How do they include links? How do they maintain or develop interest and sustain desire to return and read more? How often do they write? etc)
– How do they use and prioritise available screen space? What do you notice first?
– How do these blogs include / involve / engage their readers and peers? (Using any novel techniques?)
– What other bloggers and artists seem to be included within their inner network / community / fanbase / set of peers? How does this shape your perception of this blog?

Which of these blogs would you be most excited to see reviewing your music? Aside from directly writing to them, in what other ways might you engage with them and become visible on their network?

via Helise ( who mentioned these blogs, but didn’t link to them) Waycooljnr (discusses music, marketing and social media – and includes a reminder for songwriters to join APRA), The Empire Ship (artist blog), The In Sound From Way Out (EMI blog).
via mickeywsy Cut Copy (artist)s, Open Your Eyes (reviews, gig listings)
via Siblog thetempertrap (artists), entertainmentdepot (news) exp-melb.blogspot.com (experimental music)
via Morganblack Electrorash (also a member of Grindin, a network of blogs ) TheMusicBlogs (collaborative blog with writers all around Australia). The Temper Trap’s blog.
via Crystal Rainbow Pyramid – Cyclic Defrost (electronic music), whiteboydancefloorStoney Roads
via radioblaster – ALIA – Australasian Lighting Industry Association, Channel [V]Triple J version “Home & Hosed”
via Piper at the Gates of Dawn – Fran and Daves Musical adventureCamden Sounds (gear review), Twenty Songs(weekly countdowns of different genres), Who The Hell (event promoters), The Drones (tour diary blog)
via BlogEugene – Momentary Shelter (well networked in rural Victoria), Electrotrash (Aus club scene), Two Bright Lakes (artist+label blog)
via OGMartin – New Weird Australia (NWA coming straight outta Compton Sydney: ‘is a not-for-profit initiative designed to promote and support new eclectic and experimental Australian music.’), Mountain Fold music journal ( Melb based journal), life is noise ( Perth events)
via Starkyblog – Canberra Jazz
via Lucasskinner – Tone Deaf ( Melbourne music), Mess and Noise (National)
via nikkichook – whothehell.net (tour, artist info), electrorashausindies.com.au (awards site)
via alexlikestotravel – Audio technology, The Music Blogs (collaborative blog, anyone can submit reviews).

UPDATES:
via Fight the MCP – The Melbourne Deepcast (Melb tech / house), Everybody Loves a Buzztech (tech / dubstep), Open Your Eyes (band reviews)
via Tashalloyd – New Weird Australia(experimental), Polaroids of Androids ( mostly Sydney)
via Glapeshhh – auscore (Aussie ‘core), Spoz’s rant (Adelaide music), mess+noise (indie)
via Coltdebango – Woo-Ha!! (Melb DJs), There’s Nothing Like Australia (not an Australian blog, but an L.A. music perspective of Australia..), Northside Records (Melb store).
via FisherfisherfisherTONE DEAF (gigs), Rock ‘n’ Rollerdex (contacts), Who The Bloody Hell Are They? (news, reviews)
via TheElectric StrangerPogomix, a DJ/VJ from Perth who remixes tracks by sampling snippets from existing popular films.
via Madddg – Oceans Never Listen (reviews), Who The Hell?  ( & the other blog wasn’t Australian..)

Blog Post Feedback Compilation

April 1, 2011

Scanning the collective blog posts, reveals quite a diversity of interests, some interesting creative projects and a sliding scale of usefulness in the blog posts that are course relevant (the better posts add insight, context, personality, references, links – the less useful posts merely state their approval of a site or idea, but offer nothing further).

Patientau writes about the unusual usbari project, which is a kind of chain-mail USB stick type adventure:
“I thought it might be a good idea to try and bring a little more attention to this project, and maybe get some BA Music people involved. Daniel has recently updated his website, adding some more content to the info page, and a nice faq to the homepage.” Any takers?

Starkyblog offers an excellent post with their perspective of the Gunkel reading on ‘mash-ups’ and remixing. Good? Plenty of reflection, provides comparisons, and is a quite personal response to the reading. Problematic in an academic blog context? Unauthorised used of copyrighted images ( It is relevant for many C.D. bloggers – to re-read the Copyright section in the course document ).

Set Sail & Conquer notes some free software for easy creation of time lapse videos, and (importantly for network dynamics) mentions where they was originally discovered it – over at the blog of Lucas. It’s hard to overestimate how crucial links are to engagement within blog networks.

After we’ve tallied a few more Aus music blogs, I’ll do a compilation post to put them all in one place, which should make for an interesting snapshot, and we can have a look at some of their habits and techniques.

Using HTML Editor Software

March 28, 2011

After learning to write HTML ourselves, and understanding the structure and rules we can now graduate to using HTML editor software, which allows us to use a range of short cuts for generating relevant code.

Mac : PageSpinner (available as unlimited trial version) (Pagespinner support page)
PC : Try the free Notetab Light.

WSYIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) software such as Dreamweaver or Frontpage cannot be used to create your project. We emphasise the use of simple HTML editor software so the rules and structure of HTML are absorbed as much as possible.

To Install Pagespinner
Create a new folder on your desktop called ‘Other Apps’. ( We do not have permission to install applications into the official applications folder)
Download Pagespinner. (See also The Pagespinner FAQ)
find your downloaded application, double click, and drag the Pagespinner folder into your ‘Other Apps’ folder. Go inside the folder, click Pagespinner and explore.

Some PageSpinner Tips:
The Opening menu offers suggestions for :
New Empty HTML page – which gives you a blank page, with the necessary tags, to start a page from.
New Page Assistant – choose an example template ( eg a page with some tables in it, or a page with a long list of sample editable links included )

Or, from the menu at the top of the screen, clicking File and ‘New Empty Page’ will also get you started..

– Choose ‘Window’ then ‘setup’ then ‘select browser’ and choose Firefox. This will allow you to test your page in Firefox by pressing the navy icon in the far top right of the Pagespinner code window.

– Generally you will work within PageSpinner using page for writing text and code within, and keep a smaller ‘HTML Assistant’ window open beside it. Find this using Pagespinner -> Window -> HTML assistant. The HTML Assistant can also be used to easily insert necessary code for transforming parts of the page.

– When starting a new page, use the pull-down menu in the HTML Assistant window and choose ‘document body’. This will give you options for defining the text colour, background colour or a background image for your page.

– Want to quickly change the colour of particular text? Highlight your text, then from the top screen menu choose ‘text’, then ‘text colour’ and ‘other’ if you wish to use a colour other than the ones they suggest.

– Want to quickly formatting text or photos to be centred? Highlight the text, then click on the ‘centre text’ icon. Change the code from ‘center’ to ‘left’ or ‘right’ if need be.

– Note, to delete any code or text from a page, you need to highlight the text, then press ‘command + delete’.

The Concept Development Blog Network

March 28, 2011

Because we are studying the same material, and have similar set goals (the assessment), and because all of our blog posts are gathered in one place and are easily accessible to all classes via RSS feeds, the three separate classes doing Concept Development effectively form a network. What can we learn about online networks, from observing this network? What sorts of writing make sense in this network? What sort of social behaviours make sense in this network? In what ways does the technology influence or shape our group conversations? What technical limitations do we have? What are some interesting possibilities for expression, dialogue, sharing? What makes a good or bad post in this context? What adds value to our network?

Related: Here’s a review of student blogs by Ed, noting that a) many haven’t yet fulfilled basic blog functionality criteria, and b) many are currently failing their participation component by contributing so little to their blog. Next week is week 6, which should represent half a semester’s worth of participation on your blog.

Homework Task:
Identify 3 key blogs in the Australian music industry (including only one by an artist/band). Explore and explain why they are significant, successful or unique. Describe their sphere of online influence, and their strongest online affiliations. Note any unusual or interesting techniques of engagement.

Write a music post and include ‘Aus-Music Blog’ in your blog post subject title. Given that we have 50+ students across the 3 classes, this task should yield a very interesting map of Australian music online, and we should start seeing this reflected in our RSS feeds this week.

Presentations in Week 6 and Project Development

March 28, 2011

Ed has written up a very useful guide for the Presentations which happen next week.

Why are we doing these presentations? They help emphasise a few project management skills – time management and communication.

–  By Week 6, it’s important that your ideas are refined and that you’ve budgeted enough remaining time in the semester to produce and refine your project.

– Being able to clearly describe your project to peers and potential audiences, increases the possibility of meaningful feedback, collaboration, further interest in your project and importantly – it helps focus your own ideas about the project’s development and priorities.

You have a small amount of time to do your presentation – so prioritise the delivery of your ideas. What is most important and interesting about your project? Why would anyone be curious or excited to explore your project? Being mindful of these questions will help shape your project in worthwhile directions. With a good project underway, part of the challenge for anyone in a creative industry is framing their project in a way that will attract interest and attention. The old advertising phrase – ‘Sell the sizzle, not the sausage’ – suggests that selling sausages can be done more easily by selling people on the idea of an enjoyable BBQ, or the memorable sensations surrounding it, rather than the product itself. In what ways might web viewers be lured deeper into your web project? In what ways might next week’s presentation audience be lured into your project?

Ongoing Project Development

1. Clarifying and refining project idea. (Is it feasibly scaled? Is it framed well?)

2. Storyboarding and mapping out your overall site plan.

3. Developing media assets:

– Write any needed portions of text

– Create any needed photographs, graphics, navigation buttons, background images etc

Create necessary Time Lapse video. A time lapse video is a series of images / frames / photographs taken over a long period of time. We will delve into the technical specifics of creating this video later, at this stage your idea matters most. What is it that you wish to document with the passing of time? ( A journey to a destination? Movement of people, objects, clouds?) Think about what will work well with this special effect, and think about how it can relate to and enrich your project. What would be an ideal setting and composition? Learn from the network: research timelapse videos and techniques within vimeo. How many photographs will you need to produce a 1 minute time lapse video? What size and format should they be?

Create necessary 1 minute Soundscape from Melbourne. What is an appropriate / interesting / provocative / evocative soundscape that would add richness and depth to your web project? Where do you need to record this? What will be the web context of this soundscape, and it’s relationship with onscreen imagery?

4. Building website with all of the above, and testing, refining, getting feedback, testing, refining.

Week 5 – HTML Formatting + Design

March 27, 2011

Having already learnt a little about the structure and principles of HTML pages, this week we will explore techniques for controlling the layout and design of a webpage. But first, via w3schools, let’s examine the context of HTML in 2011.

HTML = Hyper Text Markup Language (designed to display data)

XML = eXtensible Markup Language. (designed to transport and store data.)

XHTML = a stricter cleaner version of HTML, eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language. It combines everything within HTML 4 with the strict syntax of XML. (Unlike HTML, XHTML documents require all coding rules to be adhered to, for pages to work properly. This makes it ideal for running on mobile phones which do not have the resources or power to interpret documents with poorly formed code).

RSS is written in XML and stands for Really Simple Syndication, and defines an easy way to share and view headlines and content.

HTML 5 = is the next generation of HTML, and although most modern browsers have some HTML5 support, it is still a work in progress. Notably for those interested in sound, it introduces a new standard for playing audio in a web browser page. It also does the same for video, and offers a new way to draw graphics on a webpage with javascript (a scripting language to add interactivity to webpages). (We will be having a much more detailed look at the issues around the embedding of sound and video during week 9)

CSS = Cascading Style Sheets. Whereas HTML defines the content and structure of a document (eg it states which part is a heading, or a paragraph, using appropriate tags), CSS defines how these HTML elements are displayed (eg what font + font colour should be used etc ).

That’s our context above.

Given that this isn’t a web design course (we have a much wider focus than just the technicalities of building webpages, including analysis of the social, cultural, legal and economic dimensions of the online environment, as relevant to the music industry), and given that we have limited time – we’re focussing on learning a foundation of HTML to build webpages and just a little CSS to control how those pages look. If later desiring to pursue web development in more detail, the above context should help. And so, onto lay-out and design – which means HTML + CSS.

HTML Lay-Out – Introducing HTML Tables

The W3Schools HTML examples page hosts a large and useful series of examples all on one page. These range from the basic structure of a document through to links, images, advanced form functions and our focus today – tables. Tables allow content in a webpage to be arranged within grids of rows and columns. By creating tables of certain sizes, and putting content within specific table rows or columns, and leaving other rows or columns empty if we wish, we can control where content appears on the page, eg:

Column 1 text

 

(empty column) Column 2 text

TASK: Construct a html page which includes a table.
Your table should have 3 columns, 2 rows and some example text.
Adjust your table so it is 800 pixels wide. Experiment with the width of each column. (table width/

– Have a look at the code for a basic table at W3Schools, try altering some of the code, then press ‘edit can click me’ to see changes. Then move onto this table tutorialand use this to help build your html page with table. Name your new page table1.html and upload to your server with Fetch.

Using CSS to Control Colours + Fonts

There are 3 ways to use CSS to format a document in a particular style:
1. An External Style Sheet. This is a separate document with the extension .css, which lists the styles wanted for the document ( eg font colour, background colour. If a .css file is linked in the head section of a HTML document, that HTML document will be displayed according to the style rules of the .css file. This is the easiest method to style many pages.
2. Internal Style Sheet. This method inserts a list of style rules, using the style tag, inside the head section of a HTML page. This is an easy way to style a single page.
3. Inline Styles. This method inserts a style into a specific HTML tag, by using the style attribute.

How colours are classified on the web. Complete HTML colour chart. Colour Schemer (helps pick compatible colour schemes).

CSS TASK: Experiment with the 3 methods of CSS formatting.
Use your previously saved HTML page to experiment with the following:
Changing the colour of the page background
Changing the colour of the text
– Placing an image in the background
Adjusting your table.

Interesting Web Project Case Studies

March 22, 2011

Below are a range of online projects that might generate some ideas for your projects – or perhaps some questions, some challenges to consider. Many of these are quite advanced projects, the result of many more hours effort than we have available this semester. There is still much we can learn from them though. When browsing these projects, ask yourself about the techniques they use. Which of these techniques might be suitable for your project? Which of these techniques demonstrate, and take advantage of, the web’s affordances? What can you learn from each of these projects, about how to better make your project more ‘web native’, and less like a linear, print based project? What can you learn from each of these projects about how to create a more engaging and compelling project, that draws the viewer/ reader / listener into the world of your making? What new creative problems do these projects suggest about your project?

Interesting use of navigation, non-linear design?
Wax Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees is the first independent feature film to have been edited on a digital non-linear system. It is also the first film to have been re-formatted as hypertext and posted on the internet.

Media Relationships?
Example projects that feature interesting relationships between image and text? ( Online comics are often innovators here.. See also, Scott McCloud’s discussion of image and text relationships.) Image and sound? 10 tips for effective web sound design. Gamers have long been thinking about non-linear uses for sound and issues that arise. Some of these game desig thoughts about interactive audio might be useful in thinking through how sound could work on your website.

Collaborations and crowdsourcing?
Projects built by engaging with an audience / promoting during development / aggregating content?

Star Wars Uncut – Features a constantly changing version of a the film, constructed with 15 second clips made by anybody, with the highest voted clips at any time, being included in the current playing version. See the CNN profile about the project creators
White Glove Tracking – volunteers isolated Michael Jackson’s white glove in all 10,060 frames of a video clip, so that this data could be used by anyone to create remixes or special effects.
Webcam Sour project – “The cast were chosen from Sour’s international fan base and filmed entirely via webcams.”
Where is Gary? Using social media and the audience to track down a scammer, and build a documentary around this.

Episode Based Productions
Taking advantage of subscription based technologies and social media to develop projects and build audiences over time…
Hometown Baghdad
The XKCD comic ( now a book, like many webcomics that’ve gained popularity )
Rocketboom ( daily 3 minute video news )
Ze Frank a whole range of ideas and projects, many collaborative.
thejuicemedia Satire and hiphop meets current affairs in the Melbourne based ‘Rap News’.
Ask A Ninja

And Bringing it Back to Basics
We’ll be exploring some more project management and multimedia storyboarding ideas next week, along with our next dive into HTML (bring along some sample text and images for use). Below is some useful reading in regards to framing and designing your project.

Tips on building portfolio sites, “Your site is a frame: A frame exists to hold its art. It should compliment your work, but never overshadow it. Think of your portfolio site as a frame for your work. Keep it clean and easy to navigate. Don’t let your site get in the way of letting me see what I really came for.”

Advice for designing your website layout.