Saturday, April 30, 2016

Harry Potter Horcrux Timeline

For the final project for our Foundations of English for New Media class, a classmate (Tanner) and I decided to create a comprehensive timeline of the Horcruxes from Harry Potter. This project is titled "The Horcrux Timeline."

Screenshot of the timeline's header

As both of us are Harry Potter fans, we knew we just had to do something Harry Potter related; and as we both were fuzzy on the details surrounding the Horcruxes, we decided to tackle this, not only to create a project but also to answer our own questions about them.

A brief synopsis on the function and creation of Horcruxes: in order to achieve immortality a witch or wizard can remove a piece of their soul and put it into an object or another person.  To do this, a life has to be taken by the Horcrux maker, as part of the soul dies when one commits murder; instead of the soul dying, they merely transfer it elsewhere.  In order to kill the witch or wizard that made these Horcruxes, one has to destroy each soul fragment first.  This is the case with Voldemort; the heroic trio had to find and destroy each of the Horcruxes made by Voldemort in order to defeat him.

In the timeline, we explore major life events of Tom Riddle (AKA Voldemort) such as his start at Hogwarts and his discovery of Horcruxes and major plot events involving Harry Potter.  We also describe the Horcruxes themselves, when they were created, who was killed in order to make them, why those certain objects were chosen and the manner of their destruction.  Listed and explained were key characters in the discovery and destruction of the Horcruxes.

Originally, we had planned to create the standard interactive timeline; however, with the amount of information we wanted to include, this wasn't possible.  Instead, we created a blog on Tumblr, each post serving as a notch on the timeline, in a way.  While the formatting was not what we initially wanted, we are proud of the results, as it still offers the information we wanted to share in an easy-to-read format.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Inception: How It Should Have Ended

My favorite movie, Inception, has been parodied/spoofed by the extremely popular "How It Should Have Ended" YouTube channel.  This channel parodies countless media types, ranging from movies to TV shows to video games.  The channel creates animated shorts, altering the stories of popular media to fit their ideas of how things should have gone. Typically, these "ideal endings" are utter nonsense; everybody dies, disliked characters do humiliating things, a character from a completely different film/show/game enters the story, etc.

In the parody "How Inception Should Have Ended," the creators take important plot elements, the rules of dream altering, draws attention to the poor judgement of Arthur Cobb, and pokes fun at certain events that happen during sleep as well as common dreams.  Characters unrelated to the film are also drawn in; the character of Bleeker from Juno who starred as the other half of Ellen Page's (playing Ariadne in Inception) character Juno as well as Freddy Krueger from The Nightmare on Elm Street films.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Queen of Hearts or Queen of Grassroots Creativity?

Alice:Madness Returns - American McGee (game)
Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel, Through The Looking Glass have been adopted and adapted in many different platforms and to fit many different agendas. From video games to books to film with topics ranging anywhere from drugs to personal identity to embracing the nonsense, Carroll's creation has proven to be tale inspiring content creators worldwide.

Alice - Syfy (film)
Alice in Zombieland  - Gena Showalter 
So why Alice? Carroll's Alice is a story filled with "literary nonsense," taking us back to a time where nothing made sense and we were fine with it. The tale also took place in fantastic environments; a beautiful garden owned by a bloodthirsty queen (that she eventually stood up to - girl power!), a lengthy filled with doorways to different locations (metaphor for different paths of life?) and even a clustered, messy table occupied by insane characters (life gets messy and crazy). Not to mention the oh-so-popular view that Alice's trip in Wonderland is a metaphor for a drug trip - hey, the Caterpillar was smoking that hookah with all his might.

Different creators have taken Carroll's Alice and used it as a foundation for their works. As an Alice fan myself, I have encountered dozens of adaptations of Carroll's original creation; one of which is even inked into my skin. Listed below is the Alice-inspired media that I've
encountered. For every one adaptation that I've discovered, there are hundreds more. 

  • American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns
  • Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
  • Syfy's Alice
  • Disney's Alice in Wonderland
  • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass 
  • Gena Showalter's Alice in Zombieland series

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lit Genius - Poetry for Dummies?

Sample Leaderboard
Last week, the Foundations of English for New Media class explored Lit Genius, a site where readers can post entire works or excerpts for others to annotate. Users can examine song lyrics, poems, short stories, etc. This site brings in experienced readers that, through their annotation, assist fans in understanding a work.

Lit Genius contains a large database of works that have already been annotated; however, users are able to create accounts and upload text that is made public for other users.  In order to be able to annotate, users have to rack up "IQ points." This can be done by exploring the site, updating the profile, and providing useful or accurate annotations. Users that earn the most IQ Points can make it onto the Leaderboard and even become the "Top Scholar."
Sample Annotation

The site is user-friendly and lacks the standard insulting comments, creating an intellectual environment for those that are searching to understand. Linked is the work that I annotated, William Wordsworth's "Written in March."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Media Usage over Spring Break

While most students packed up and went to exotic places to enjoy the sun, I was trapped in windy Redfield, South Dakota with a cold.  Over the week(ish) that I spent sick, I consumed media more than I had in quite a while.

  • Multiple hours of Netflix (nothing like a mind-boggling marathon of Lost to drive away the sniffles) - TV, computer (laptop)
  • Mindless Tumblr-, Facebook-, and Pinterest-ing with Netflix as background noise - Computer (laptop), cell phone
  • Video games - Computer (laptop)
  • Games - Cell phone apps
  • Reading - Print books
  • Online CNA training - Computer (laptop)
  • YouTube videos (mostly puppies) - Computer (laptop), cell phone
  • Texting (Mom, Tanner, roommate) - Cell phone
Featured is the video that melted my heart as a former corgi owner. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Market Mavens

Zoella. Michelle Phan. Ingrid Nilsen. Bethany Mota.

Most of us know who they are or have at least heard their names. These women are some of the top "beauty gurus" on YouTube. They are best known for makeup/hair tutorials, monthly/yearly favorites, and haul videos. They are also experts at making us want to buy certain products.  Hence the term "market mavens."

Market mavens are defined by Ashlee Humphreys as "actors who gather and disseminate marketplace information about prices, products, and consumption practices." As viewers, we don't always see their potential as marketing experts.  However, after looking at this definition and rewatching a video or two, their power as marketers in astoundingly obvious.  The ladies name their favorite products (usually high-end and expensive), leading viewers to the belief that if they buy said product, they too will be beautiful and live fantastic lives like the gurus the watch daily.  As they gain popularity, they become endorsed by certain brands and, in turn, encourage followers to purchase from said brand. They also eventually release their own beauty lines; makeup, nail polish, clothing, etc. 

While their power is something to be admired, viewers should keep the gurus' status as "market mavens" in mind when they click play on their videos.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Some notes on digital inequality

Digital inequality is defined by our textbook (Social Media: Enduring Principles by Ashlee Humphreys) as "the difference in access to social, cultural and material resources necessary to access, use, and interpret digital information and technologies."  This inequality is largely based off of the differences in economic, social and cultural capital between users.  Economic capital is, of course, money. Social capital consists of the connections with other people that could be used as resources. Finally, cultural capital is the standards that create affiliation between you and others that fit in the same class.

So how does these things equate to digital inequality? Certain classes have more access and association to each of these different forms of capital while others are lacking. As a result, social media is used differently by these classes; the lower classes use media out of necessity, whereas the upper classes use it for self-expression and creativity.