Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Digital Literacy & Me

I have just finished the Assignment 1 podcast for Comm 597. This is significant in a couple of respects: today is not the deadline day, so that is a novel feeling; and this was the first podcast I have made. I remember hearing about the podcast requirement for this course while sitting in on an elective presentation last spring. A student who had done the course recalled how bewildered she had been by the prospect of making a podcast, but also how she persevered and figured it out. That scene, along my finding the friendly voiced Annie in a Youtube tutorial, combined to give me the confidence to give it a try. Using memory and a Youtube link, I managed to fit myself into a little community of podcast-making supporters across time. I should also mention that I enlisted the help of my younger son, Michael, in the task. In his fingertips, the laptop seems to be an extention of his hands, whereas mine feels, at times, more like a bulky prosthetic attached to my hands.

It was certainly slow going at first. I had a number of false starts as I tried to figure out how I could best and most smoothly record my voice tracks. I tried to memorize, and then ad lib, and then reading a written script, but nothing worked. My time in television studios suggested some form or teleprompter, so that’s what we fashioned by tailoring the size of the screens so that a panel of an editable Google document was visubke just beneath the record button. With that infrastructure apprehension alleviated, I worked inside the mind of GarageBand.

I don’t use that term “inside the mind” lightly, because I did feel more than once as I dragged pics in from iPhoto or a tune from iTunes that, somehow, my project was being thought out by the software and those who had designed it. It was a fleeting thought, but I did tell my wife that I felt like I was wandering around inside Steve Jobs’s head. What was going to be a predominately audio podcast took a decided turn toward photos, as a panel of all of my iPhone pics going back two years appeared as a reservoir on the side of the screen. I take a lot of photos, and they became a renewable resource for this project. I took screen captures for other images. What was disappointing is that I could not figure out how to download Youtube video so that I could work with it. That certainly would have made my project more entertaining in the good sense of that word. I’ll try to figure this out -- without Michael’s help!

It is not a new concept for me, but it was reinforced how important pacing and rhythm and changes of mood are. I am not saying I succeeded, but I do know how important to the story these devices are, and that’s why I decided to pay the 99 cents and cut in a portion of the Cookie Monster’s singing, “C is for Cookie!”I also re-learned how important it is to the story when the technology takes a back seat and becomes infrastructure, (Partial Kubish Hyperlink [PKH] in my own memory to lecture by John Durham Peters at last year’s spring institute where he talked about “infra” meaning “below.” I wonder why that particular memory link fired when I wrote the word “infrastructure”?) that brings no attention to itself, allowing the illusion of a greater connection to through audio and video to the story. I’m not a pro, but I did make some tweaks in soundtrack editing to draw less attention to the tools.

What I would like to do in future podcasts is to simulate hypertext links, in a way. But that is another project.

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