Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 25: And that's all she wrote!

So, it's our last day together.  *sniff.

We made it!  It's been a crazy adventuresome pace, but you guys hung in there like champs.  Thanks so much for that.  Kudos to you for all of your hard work during this very quick semester.

So... what's left?  A couple things...

Your final multimedia projects are due by Friday at midnight.  You should play each other's scavenger hunts; they're going to be EPIC!  You also need to e-mail me a two page response paper that reflects on making your project.  This paper is fairly informal, but I want to know what you did, how you did it, and how it was working in your group.  This is also the space to let me know if there were any slackers.

I'd also like one quick last blog post summarizing your experience with this online class!  Say goodbye.  Reflect on how it went.  Wax philosophic.

I'll send you a wrap up e-mail in the next few days that responds to your work covering a couple bases to summarize things.  I'll be posting all of your final grades in the next few days and over the weekend.

I'd like you all to fill out the student evaluations of the class on Blackboard so that I can be a better teacher; I always want to keep improving that as much as I can.

Finally, I'll leave you with this.  I've been asking you to write, to compose, all semester, and I know that it's not easy, that it asks impossible things of you, and yet you've braved the storm, you've fought the good fight, you've finished the race.  Old Bukowski says to leave it alone, but I'm your English professor, and I say press on, keep writing, and have fun along the way.  Good luck with your future endeavors, whatever they may be!  Thanks again for a surprisingly wonderful online semester.

so you want to be a writer?
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.
don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 24: A Crisis Moment

Hey everybody.  It's penultimate day as one of my favorite professors used to say.

Today, as I do every year, we're going to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk.  He's a knight, so you'd better listen to him.

But, I want to talk about why we’re here.  What are you doing here?  And you're not here with me, especially since we're in this virtual class, but you are at Clemson.  Why?  You're going to spend nearly 100,000 dollars and 4 years (or 5 like I did) to get a degree.  Then what?  This is one interesting thing that you can do with 100,000 dollars and four years of your time, but you could do lots of interesting things, you could build an orphanage in Uganda, you could start your own business, you could do lots of things.  Now, I haven't had a student drop out of school yet, but school as a concept has been limiting to a lot of folks.  You're here to pay to learn something.  And that's fine.  I just want to make sure you're doing what you want to be doing.  It's good to question this investment, and ask yourself what you think you're doing here.  College isn't for everybody; our culture just thrusts people into it after high school so that...

Well, let's listen to Sir Ken.


Interesting, right?  My good friend Mark Twain is known for having said: "Never let school get in the way of your education."  I heartily endorse that message.  This time is for you.  Use it.

So, today your daily assignment is for you.

Write a letter to yourself.  Handwrite it.  Don't post it to your blog.  This is for you and you alone.

Tell yourself what you're doing here at Clemson, spending this money, and this time.  Take a minute and seal it up.  Put it someplace safe--your sock drawer.  And when you graduate, whenever that is, take it out and read it.  Remember what your doing and why you're doing it.  

Otherwise, finish up your multimedia assignments in your groups!  Let's make them due on  our examination day rather than the last day of class along with your two page reflection papers on the projects.  So, instead of tomorrow, you've got until Friday night at midnight to finish up those beautiful little projects.  I can't wait to see them.

I suspect that you'll let us know a trailhead someway... somehow...
In otherwords, post them to your blogs and e-mail them to me.  :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 23...

Today... just work on your stuff.  You know what you've got to do.  E-mail me if your group is having any trouble.  I'll keep checking in on your public Google documents.

That's easy enough, isn't it?

Your Minimovies should be on your blogs by midnight.  We are getting so close.  I mean, it's almost August!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 22: More with Multimedia

Today, I just wanted to share a couple more examples to inspire you.

I love this example, because it deals with an issue using a particular medium, which is closely related.  It's clever, and the concept is simple; although, it wouldn't be simple to make necessarily.  It's a video that basically uses a poem, and some text, and some images in interesting ways.  

Television is a drug. from Beth Fulton on Vimeo.

Here is another narrative based game with nodes using Youtube for the television show Homeland

Heck, some sixth graders made this an alternate reality game:  If sixth graders can do this, you can do this.

Here is a run down of the elaborate Dark Knight viral game/scavenger hunt where The Joker even asked the participants to purchase cakes with cell phones baked in them hidden around the country...

Or this crazy site-- was developed for the Super 8 film.

These are rabbit holes into really wonderful and complex worlds that do something to us.  Why is it that a secret is so persuasive?

Media are amazingly powerful rhetorical tools.  Use them well!

Your Daily Assignment:

Keep working on those projects.  Our last day of class is coming soon.  They'll be due on then at midnight, which will be here before you know it!

Finish up your own little minimovies for Monday, and they aren't due until midnight.  

And the extension for your final draft is for today.  Try to get it to me before the Olympics opening ceremonies tonight!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 21: Digital Resources and Copyright

In chapters 7 and 12 in your Envision in Depth books, there is a healthy discussion of copyright issues.  You know by now that you can't just borrow someone else's work without asking for it or without citing them.  This is also true with digital works, but there are places where you can borrow images, sounds, and videos online.  You might want to use these freely available sources instead of going out and taking some pictures of your own with a camera; though I'd encourage you to do that too!

You can look for freely available works using Google, if you specify a labeled for reuse license in the advanced search.

You can also search at a site called  They're a great organization that has pursued creating special copyrights for digital materials since they're shared so much more freely.  Whatever you make, you automatically own, but some people may want to share their work with others.  Here's a fair overview.  But you may want to check out that site for images, audio, or whatnot for your alternate reality games.

Another good resource for free digital materials is  They have old movies and such, which is where I got the old Nazi footage and the educational audio for The Gradgrind Society video.  So, you may want to look there too.  Also, now, the allows you to search for videos licensed under the Creative Commons attribution that you could remix into something new.  

Remix is a new culture of possibilities.  We remix all the time.  Even your essays remix other writers' ideas.  Heck, Disney is the worst for copyright protection--don't borrow their stuff--but they've remixed old ideas as well.  Hip Hop uses remix.  And viral videos remix memes that create funny, or interesting, or new ideas.  

Lawrence Lessig is famous for talking about remix and shared culture and has a book called  Free Culture that's really interesting.  Here he is at the TED conference (which stands for Technology, Education, and Design), where they get the best speakers from around the world to talk about really interesting ideas.  You can check out more talks at

So, try to be creative with your projects and generate your own work, but borrow when you need to or when it makes sense.

Your Daily Assignment:

First and foremost, you should be working with your groups on your multimedia projects!  Time flies.  I hope you're enjoying this project.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what each group comes up with!

But also, I'd like each of you to post a video on your blogs describing your writing process.  You can use iMovie, or Windows Movie Maker, or just the Youtube editor and webcam capture.  Most people then host their videos on or and post the links or embed them into their blogs.  It doesn't have to be long; 30 seconds is fine.  I'd just like each of you to think about what your writing process was like and compare it to something else.  I'll actually give you a few days to finish this since technology can be a little tricky, so have it posted by anytime on Monday.  This gives everybody in the class a chance to at least play with video.  Here are a couple examples you can see here, here, and here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day 20: The Final Countdown.

Okay, I'm sorry about all of the confusion that happened with Blitzkrieg Criticism.  That's gone down a little funky, partially because some of you are behind.  Ultimately, I want you to do what you can today by giving each other feedback, but don't stress out over it too much.  I'm not going to worry about it, so neither should you.

Now that all of you are finished (or almost finished) with your writing, I thought you would probably appreciate this:

Now, without further ado, I want to give you your final major project for this class!


This is a group project, so I've taken the liberty of dividing you up into three teams, and I've already created a collaborative space for you to start working.  Get each other's e-mails, phone numbers, etc.  If you want to meet in real life, great.  If not, great.  But this is a group project, and here are the groups:

Blue Team
Brook Alexander
Jake Nicolopulos
Dax Triplett
Onebeh Kim

Black Team
Mary O'Kelly
Thomas Jones
Ryan Cook
Sara Kennedy

Red Team
Grace Arney
Elizabeth Rogers
Kit Smith
Daniel McCarthy

This assignment requires students to collaborate in groups of about 4 people and develop an extended argument using multimedia composition strategies.  The argument should deal with an issue that is usually ignored by our culture, such as environmentalism, health, or depression.  Wake us up.

You are going to create something related to a genre known as alternate reality gaming, or chaotic fiction, viral marketing, or transmedia storytelling.  This beast goes by many names.
The Wikipedia article for alternate reality games might be helpful, or it might be confusing and overwhelming…  And this article actually is an all right overview:   

And a quick overview of how the genre works in general can be found here:

In your groups, you will create a fictional narrative to address a real issue.  It works, essentially, like a digital scavenger hunt, where one clue leads to the next.  You have to create the nodes, or clues, and lead your audience from one to the next.  Your own game projects need to include 5 nodes or five places that lead from one to another.

Here is an example project that creates a fictional world dealing with the No Child Left Behind policy:  The creators of Halo, Lost, The Dark Knight, and BMW have made time-based examples.  I made this example because there wasn’t that great of a permanent example out there in the world already, but I know that you can do even better! 

Business cards, labeled with the website, were left in business journals and other clever places to lead people to the trailhead, the website.

I’m giving this away, but essentially this is how The Gradgrind Society game works.  You still might want to play through it though to get a feel for it.  

**** Don't read below if you want to play through the game without knowing what happens first.*** 

Okay, so, the business card led to the website.  The website ( used an old Nazi video borrowed from and audio from another educational video there put together with Windows Movie Maker, along with an e-mail, and a phone number set up using Google Voice.  The e-mail auto-replies and also forwards to, which also aut0-replies using gmail’s vacation settings.  The e-mail from Aletheia--which is Greek for truth--sends you to Twitter account and a document hidden on an account at  The document sends you to a Flickr feed which is the end of the hunt.  

You will have several self-determined qualities to your final projects, but all of you must use the following components which can be split up among your group members:

·       A Video: (I know, you’re totally freaking out right now, but it doesn’t have to be long or complicated.
You can use iMovie if you’re a Mac person, Windows Movie Maker if you’re a PC person, or you can capture video with Picassa which is free software, or even using your laptop’s webcam through Youtube here:  You can also edit video with Youtube here:
·       A Social Media site, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, or whatever else…
·       A Document Design: A pdf, Word document, Google document, or something else.
·       Some form of website, which might be a blog, which you’re familiar with already.  You can also create free websites at,,,,,, and, as well as other places.
·       An e-mail account set up especially for this project.

I actually don’t care if you follow my format from The Gradgrind Society by replacing the content with your own.  Just make some interesting scavenger hunts; you’ve got a week!

Think about what you care about.  Then, think about what resources your group has and go from there. 

Each student will write his or her own report detailing your project’s rationale and process, which should accompany the final product and will be due to me on midnight on the last day of class.  Tell me what you did, why you did it, and how it was working in a group.  This is also a place to tell me if one of your group members was a slacker.  The report should be about 2 pages and does not have to be MLA formatted this time.  Use whatever fonts you want!

The project will be shared with the class on the last day of our course. 
And finally, have fun with this project!  That’s always a goal of your education.

Finally, I’ll close with two quotations from individuals who led the way with digital media as a means of communication…

"A new form of 'politics' is emerging, and in ways we haven't yet noticed. The living room has become a voting booth. Participation via television in Freedom Marches, in war, revolution, pollution, and other events is changing everything."
-Marshall McLuhan, the patron saint of Wired magazine

“When people talk to me about the digital divide, I think of it not being so much about who has access to what technology as about who knows how to create and express themselves in the new language of the screen. If students aren't taught the language of sound and images, shouldn't they be considered as illiterate as if they left college without being able to read and write?”
-George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars

Grammar Review:  Grammar is for losers.  (This is a joke and should not be taken otherwise... If I see a comma splice in your final report, you will fail this course... This is also a joke and should be taken as such... but seriously... no comma splices please.)

Your Daily Assignment:

Group up and get started on this project!  We've only got about a week to finish it!

I expect a little confusion as you begin this project, but please e-mail me with questions.  I'll also be lurking on your Google planning pages to help and give feedback.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 19: Blitzkrieg Kriticism!

There's been a  little concern about your rough drafts not being finished enough.  It's okay. They're rough drafts; I'm not expecting them to be finished.  But we're going to play around with those little unfinished beauties today.

Today, we're doing peer review, but not just any peer review criticism... this is...

Blitzkrieg Kritik! 

Basically, I just want you to take a minute and look at ALL of your classmates' rough drafts and give them a little love, a little help, a little something special.  In other words, make their papers bleed with corrections because you're doing this anonymously people!

You can start with mine:

Meanwhile, you can listen to "Blitzkrieg Pop" by the Ramones.

Or, you can listen to my fantasy metal station on Pandora... which is essentially made for this activity!


I've also received some questions about citing the other sources for your papers.  You can check the MLA sections in your DK Handbooks, or you can go to the Purdue OWL (which I always Google to find).  OWL stands for Online Writing Lab, and this site is my go to place when I want to look something up for MLA really quickly.

Here's the link:

Grammar Review:

How about this classic, little gem?

Your Daily Assignment:

Make sure your draft is posted to Google Docs, set it to public editing, post the link on your blog, and then take a minute or two on each of your classmates' papers to comment by tomorrow at noon.  This is a chance to see what other people are doing, and to use all of your collective skills to help each other as writers.  EVERY SINGLE CLASSMATE GETS TO READ EVERY OTHER CLASSMATE'S PAPER!  IT'S LIKE MAGIC, ONLY BETTER!

Your final draft should be e-mailed to me by tomorrow at midnight as per usual.

I know that the syllabus says something about posting a link to your favorite game on your blog; hold off on that, we may get there.  At this point, time is of the essence.