New Blog: MKT 595

September 13, 2010

I will again be taking a graduate course that requires I update a blog. However, we will be using the Blogger platform instead of this already-created WordPress site.

To follow my blogs for MKT 595: Internet Marketing, visit me here:


Final Portfolio

June 4, 2010

The project’s final portfolio is located here: This includes a process explanation as well as a full catalog of materials delivered to the client.

For just a taste, here’s the video.

Project Report: Week 8

May 20, 2010

This week, I finished up a design for St. Joseph’s letterhead, as well as filming Sister Theresa from the Daughters of Charity for the St. Joseph’s video. This was the only time I actually ran the camera for this project, as previously I’d just been kind of a PA and conducting the interviews. Honestly, it was nice to get on that side of the lens for a change.

The video is going both well and not so well. We’re getting a lot of great footage, and the shots are getting done, but I’m concerned about the time it will take to edit into something that we’ll be proud of. I’m confident that we’ll get it done – this group just does it. I’m just expecting it to be a lot of work right down to the wire.

My goals for this week are to finalize my part – and the whole – of the graphics standards manual and get that approved by St. Joseph’s. I’ve got the trial version of CS5 now, so hopefully I will poke around with that a little more. Brooke, Hannah and Joe have been very helpful in lending a hand and showing me a few tricks, but I’m thinking the next step may be to try out

Project Report: Week 7

May 13, 2010

This week, I have been assisting in the production of the video for St. Joseph Services. Though I had not planned on doing much video work, I’m putting in more here than with the logo/graphic standards team because of my schedule (available in the afternoon for filming) and because of the other group member’s superior design skills. Of course, with the recent developments that may be derailing the logo redesign, I’ll likely continue (like today) to work with the video team. Last week, our three person team worked quite well – Amanda as camera operator and set design, working with Brian C. on lighting; Brian C. on audio; and me on PA duty and interviewer. We’ll have a similar setup today.

I did gain some pretty useful resources and guidance from Brooke and others on the design team this past week. Not quite enough to really surpass their years of expertise, but some cool tips and tricks. Still tricky is getting everyone available at convenient times for the client. Busy schedules and interruptions make for tricky collaborative work. Once filming gets done today, I’m hoping to focus on starting a mock-up of a graphic standards manual (using a blank filler for a logo, of course). The group has been good with feedback on art, and I see the same thing happening this week.

Project Report, Week Six

May 6, 2010

This week was a busy week for the St. Joseph Services group. We’ve set deadlines for the completion of all tasks. The group has already met a few of these, most notably: beginning filming interviews and starting the logo remake vetting process.

I feel more comfortable in my group this week, which was my goal from last week. I think trying to stay out of the way of the video team while trying to learn things from the logo/graphics manual team was a poor idea, so essentially volunteering wherever help or expertise is needed has become the modus operandi of the group. As such, I’ve probably done more with the video team than I have with the logo team. Also, the switch to Basecamp instead of the Blackboard message boards has made a world of difference.

Honestly, there is very little that isn’t going well. It’s a lot of work, and coordinating schedules between group members and the client has been stressful at times, but things are getting done.

For next week, I hope to have the logo finalized and begin mockups of the graphics standards manual. I’d like to shift my attention there, as I still have plenty to learn in graphic and document design.

The group has done a great job getting resources in front of everyone, such as some ideas for graphic manuals and standards from professional sources. As we’re planning on discussing the logos tonight in class – that was about the only area where I feel we could use the class’s help.

Project Report, Week Five

April 28, 2010

As for what’s going well, believe it or not, I’m actually enjoying the reading. Kress was a bit tricky, and I’m not sure how much I’m really retaining, but that will be a decent book to keep on the shelf and revisit later. Design Writing Research is nice and practical – I’m looking forward to connecting it to the projects.

Not so well is just my place in the project in general. Thusfar, I’ve tried to stay out of areas where I have a bit of knowledge and experience (that’s why I chose St. Joseph’s instead of the City Farm project, and why I’m not working very heavily with St. Joe’s video team) and instead focus on areas where I have little or no experience but want to learn more. In short, I’m good with audio/video, business, and ‘people’ related stuff, but I really lack artistic background. Now I feel like I’ve jumped in too deep and taken on an area where I can’t add anything constructive just yet.

My goal for next week is to really solidify where I fit in with the whole group.Right now, as I mentioned, I feel a little bit lost and overwhelmed with my place in the group. I botched the beginning of logo design, and I’m starting to think maybe it would be best just to stick to areas where I have expertise. But that’s not really going to give me any new knowledge. Getting that straight – while keeping my head above water with my group – is my goal.

From the class/team/instructor, I’m just hoping to get some guidance into the project areas I’m interested in. (visual art/design) I haven’t pulled the trigger on the tutorials yet for a couple reasons. Mainly, money. The tutorials wouldn’t quite break the bank, but I don’t have the proper Adobe software on my own computer, and even with the student discount it’s pricey. Secondly, I tend to prefer learning in a classroom-style setting. That’s why I chose a Masters program that applies art and design to communication theory as opposed to strictly just learning some software.

Multimodality – Part 2

April 15, 2010

This one’s a thinker.

Reading Response: Kress, Multimodality 1-102

April 8, 2010

I had briefly touched on the concepts of semiotics and multimodality in a prior course, reviewed in this previous post.

In basic terms, Kress wants us to see signs as making meaning through three parts: writing, image, and color.

Just looking around my room and work area, I can see a multitude of examples that demonstrate the same concept of the car park. My computer or phone’s on/off switch gives me visual cues via images and lights. My chair has a somewhat complex adjustment system that’s explained with only a couple words, but mostly pictures and bright color on the most basic of tasks.

Another interesting concept that Kress brings up is calling classical grammar “an obstacle to necessary action”. (7) Semiotic demands replace ‘grammar’ as a true way to make meaning from communication.

Though this may be a bit of a tangent, it brings to mind a conversation I’ve had quite a few times. I am not multi-lingual. I took a few years of Spanish in high school and college, and can speak and understand bits and pieces of very basic phrases. I was always disappointed at the amount of time that was spent on verb conjugation. At the time when I was in class, I did halfway decently. I doubt I could still conjugate irregular Spanish verbs, but I do remember some of the language: vocabulary that has visual or auditory cues. Putting a foreign language into practice, I was better able to use vocabulary and other semiotic cues to communicate than I was by using only flawlessly executed language. As Kress says, “No degree of power can act against the socially transformative force of interaction.” (8)

But signs have often relied on culturally available resources. Again using the example above, translating language is often not the only step in understanding communication. Kress brings up the issue of translation across cultures, not languages, as the key hurdle in true universal communication. Though the specific culture escapes me at this moment, the first thought that comes to mind is an example I read of a soccer match overseas. Even the simplest communication such as clapping can mean different things to different cultures, as was the case with this particular soccer club. It had gained some bandwagon supporters after some surprising upsets, but was appalled to hear fans clapping at them when they ran onto the pitch. Clapping, to them, was a negative cue. The real rhetorical question is: do we, as creators of communication, seek out globally recognized cues and avoid all others, or do we as a global community decide on set standards?

Kress goes on to explain the concept of prompts in communication. That specifically, it’s only a prompt when it’s received and acknowledged. If you, as a communicator, ‘prompt’ me to do or understand something, but I do not necessarily receive the intended message, Kress believes it’s not truly a prompt. But going back to the soccer team analogy, is clapping not a prompt when it’s improperly received? On the surface, I would think Kress would agree; however, in true multimodal communication, other cues could likely be used to make meaning.

Does social media redefine neighborly interaction?

December 14, 2009
It's a jungle out there.

It's a jungle out there.

I like social media.  Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.  I think it’s a valuable tool for communication, and can even be a source of entertainment.  It’s definitely increased the flow of information between people.  But I don’t think that social media is radically changing the way that people communicate.

As Ivor Tossell points out in his audio piece in this article from Canada’s Globe and Mail, there seems to be an equally ridiculous prevalence of people on both sides of the social media spectrum:  a) the so-called Social Media Experts who are regular people who just really, really like playing on Facebook and Twitter, and b) the Get-off-my-lawn brigade, whose “underlying philosophy is that social networking websites…are one big frivolity and anti-social distraction.”

The dichotomy between the reality of the situation and the drivel that both of these camps spout off brings to mind this chart about political coverage on television:

US Political Belief vs Media Attention Given
US Political Belief vs Media Attention Given

And just like the never-ending political debate, rational thought is really somewhere in between.

Here’s where I get defensive about social networking.  Because online networking is done in front of a computer, there are those who equate the decline of western civilization to the abundance and prevalence of online friendships.  The hypocritical people who decry social networking practices as information overload or invasive of privacy are often the same ones who shake their heads and grumble about how it’s a shame that people don’t know their neighbors anymore.  How is communicating with an acquaintance on Facebook that different?  As Tossell notes, the get-off-my-lawn camp “…operate[s] on the presumption that online friendships are fraudulent or somehow debased, as opposed to the kind that are maintained over telephones, or nurtured in stoic silence, or maybe those extra-special friendships that are maintained by sending stacks of Christmas letters once a year.”  For the vast majority of us, our online networks are filled with real people who we know and care about at least on some level.  Of course, there are the few people with 10,371 Myspace friends that raise a red flag to the get-off-my-lawn folks.  But really, they’re no different than the guy from the early 80’s with the massive black book of phone numbers:  nobody is taking either of them seriously.

The most common complaint I hear about why Twitter (or any status update) is trivial goes something like “I don’t care that my college buddy in Omaha is making a sandwich.”  (Yet millions of Americans tune in each week and get emotionally tied to the contestants – most of whom the average viewer does not know personally – on American Idol or any other reality show.) Even the most independent of us – I’m definitely included in this camp – still naturally crave a certain level of human interaction.  The behavioral information you pick up about a person – whether through status updates on Facebook or through picking up her subtle body language out of the corner of your eye – pretty much tells you the same thing.  Social scientists refer to it as “ambient awareness,” as defined in Clive Thompson’s New York Times Magazine piece “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy.” So maybe deep down, on a subconscious level…you do care about your buddy’s sandwich.

So what’s my point in all this?  It’s that there is a point to all of this.  Social networking isn’t radically changing the way that human beings communicate and behave.  It’s simply opening another avenue to allow real people to do what they’re going to do anyway:  group together in little bunches, make friends, socialize, and share their lives with each other.  We’re just doing it a little faster now.

Response – Video Editing Project

November 12, 2009

I realized I never posted the reflection on my video editing experience. Here it is:

I’m a Mac guy. Not a snob like many of my friends, but I’ve been a Mac user for about 5 years now, and only used a PC at work for email and MS Office kinda stuff. So…my first impression is that iMovie blows away Windows Movie Maker in terms of functionality and usability. Thus, most of the beginning of the process was aimed at figuring out how to use the interface to make it do what I wanted it to, and in turn, exploring its features and limitations.

I’ve done some video editing before, and as a video geek and musician, I noticed that I was naturally looking and listening for transitions in the audio track to synch up my video cuts. This is not something that’s completely out of the ordinary, but if you’re someone who had not done video editing before, this is not a sure thing that you’d know to look for in creating a compelling video.

My biggest complaint was not being able to use two audio tracks. I wanted music throughout, but WMM only allows one audio track. Thus – no commentary from Shaun, and my short video was rendered even more artsy because it contained music but no spoken words. Edgy, man. The other pet peeve I had: why are the title screens blue? And only blue? What gives?

As soon as I get near a PC again, I’ll upload the video.