The Prezis from the second half of the semester

Posted in Reading with tags on December 2, 2014 by mlenos

Are located here!!!

Denim From The Beginning

The Most Popular Popular Literature…


YouTube, Convergence and Remix * Post due by 8am on 11/20/14

Posted in Question with tags on November 18, 2014 by mlenos


I was talking to you all about how this is probably the part of the class that changes the most every time I teach it.  Back in the day, when I created this class, there were a few basic types of YouTube videos. They were:


Video Blogs (“vlogs”)



And new creative content… I showed a bit of Lonelygir15 but there are TONS of examples of this, including The Guild, which I showed last week when we were talking about gaming and The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which got Issa Rae hired to write a comedy for HBO

Anyway, in the years since I started teaching this class, there are SO MANY other kinds of YouTube videos, including two kinds that I absolutely DO NOT UNDERSTAND. They are

Haul Videos

And Unboxing Videos


What am I missing/forgetting?  Let’s try to think of genres of YouTube videos. What are some you can think of? What do they do? Who are they for?

I’m also thinking a lot about the idea of Remix Culture (which I think is best represented by artists like Girl Talk and “video essays” – particularly those of kogonada, who I love:

Let me know if you can think of other examples of “remix” as defined in the readings.

Gaming posts (PLURAL!) * due on 11/13/14

Posted in Question with tags on November 10, 2014 by mlenos

Remember – we won’t be meeting as a class this Thursday, 11/13 and because of this, you’ll be required to make multiple posts, including at least ONE during class time (between 1:10 and 2:25 pm).  I know the time stamp settings on WordPress are messed up – do not worry about that.  I receive post alerts that are stamped with the correct time. The post that you make during class time will count as your attendance for 11/13.

The goal here is a conversation – commenting on each other’s comments and having a substantive discussion about gaming.  Respond thoughtfully to each others’ posts – just as you would respond to each others’ comments in class.

We’ve been talking about games and “real life” – how gaming might impact our view of the world, our behavior, even (through avatars and agents) how we see ourselves.  We’ve discussed whether gaming is addictive and the possible pros and cons of gaming as a hobby.

We’ve also talked about gaming demographics (including the surprising statistic that the gender split is nearly 50/50) and the economic impact of video games – remember that it is now two and a half times the size of the Hollywood film industry: the games industry generated around $31 billion in 2011 (that was the last year I could get accurate, consistently cited numbers on).

The gaming industry trade conferences – which used to ONLY be attended by people who actually worked in the industry, now have outrageous attendance.  E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo, held yearly in Los Angeles) had nearly 49,000 attendees this year. PAX (The Penny Arcade Expo, created by the creators of the popular online comic strip) had over 70,000. gamescon in Germany had 335,000.

Since the Dawn of Games (we’ll mark that spot with 1972’s Pong, which was the first popular, widely played video game), we have an industry that’s exploded in popularity and impact, worldwide, eventually developing its own competitive sub-culture, esports. Where prize pools have exploded to over $10 million.

In your first comment, tell us which game you chose to play. Give us an estimate of how long you spent playing over the past two weeks.  Talk about whether your game of choice used an avatar (or an agent) and how you did or did not connect to it.  Talk about whether you game regularly, or this was an unusual experience for you.  What do you think of gaming as a culture?  Has this conversation changed your opinion?

Your follow-up posts should be comments on your classmates’ posts.  Have a conversation.  How many posts should you make in total?  I don’t know… how many posts does it take to have a good conversation?  That’s up to you all.

See you on November 18, when we’ll start talking about YouTube and Convergence Culture.

Advertising post * due by 8am on 11/6/14

Posted in Question with tags on November 4, 2014 by mlenos

Link to a commercial or ad that you love (OR HATE) and discuss what methods it’s using to appeal to the viewers.

If you don’t watch tv, use Ad Report Card or the Clio Awards to get ideas.

Here’s one I like from last year, and I love it most of all for its absolute absurdity.

I’m not likely to buy a big Volvo truck, but that is impressive precision steering. This one is using the feature we talked about early on today; connection to celebrity.  For people who love action movies, Jean-Claude Van Damme is instantly recognizable, and that makes the ad enjoyable.

Here’s one that I hate so much!  It makes me very angry:

It’s weird and nonsensical (why is his wife a puppet?); it’s weirdly outdated (who cares about marionettes in 2014?); it’s almost unbelievably sexist and just creepy. I am not the only person who feels this way (FYI that link contains profanity).

Fashion, Anti-Fashion and Halloween

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 31, 2014 by mlenos

Gawker rounded up this year’s most offensive Halloween costumes so that I don’t have to.

Another thing to keep in mind: we live in the 21st Century. Note that the tipsters sending in these pictures are identifying the people in the offensive costumes and, in some cases, where they work and go to school.

In past years, at least one asshole dressed as Trayvon ended up losing his job for wearing the costume – which can and should be interpreted as a racist act and would violate a lot companies’ policies regarding conduct and sensitivity. If you’re about to complain that what we do on our own time shouldn’t be grounds for getting fired, I partly agree with you, but also partly think that their organizations are now posted online as being associated with racist idiots. That’s a lot of bad press for the company or college in question.

A good rule of thumb: if you’re at all unsure about whether your costume is offensive, then it’s probably best to dress as something else.

Fashion Post * Due by 10/30/14 at 8am

Posted in Question with tags on October 28, 2014 by mlenos

Here are a TON of fashion sites. Pick one.
Or pick one that you read on your own.
In the comments, tell which site you chose, and which particular post appealed to you.
Talk about a fashion trend (or fad?) – past or present – that you found interesting or participated in.
What did the trend communicate, in your opinion?
Start to take apart the SEMIOTICS of the trend in your comment.
Here we go…

Consumer Culture Post * Due by 8am on October 23, 2014

Posted in Question with tags on October 21, 2014 by mlenos

I want to start this post by saying something I meant to say in class today: people should spend their money on whatever makes them happy.  I am 100% in favor of you all doing just that – spending your hard-earned money on the things you want.  There’s no judgement here on other peoples’ taste or preferences, and we should continue that in the comments, please.

What I’m interested in, is HOW the things we buy make us happy.  Why do we prefer certain products over others?  How do we determine what makes us happy?  And – do purchases make us happy over time?  Or does that happiness wear off?

Okay – the reading for this week suggested that “we are what we buy.”  In class on Tuesday, we talked a lot about what we WOULD buy, if we had unlimited money, and also the things we already own.

I have about 8 million questions for you guys – mostly because it’s been shown that your generation – Generation Y or “Millennials” – see shopping almost as a form of activism – that’s how important brands and consumerism are for Gen Y.  For example, in that article I linked to, one Millennial says that brands and corporations have more influence in our lives than elected politicians do – at one point she said that Pepsi (the company) is her “friend.” According to marketing research, your generation – more than any other – feels very strongly about brand loyalty.  When you brought up #TeamAndroid versus #TeamiPhone, that’s the research I thought of right away. When I just now searched the #TeamiPhone hashtag on Instagram and Twitter… I saw an awful lot of people posting pictures of their new iPhones. Again – that’s a ton of free advertising for Apple… but we’ll save that for next week when we talk about advertising.

Okay okay – I need to get to the questions, I know.

1. Do you find yourself feeling more loyal to certain brands than others?  Are there brands that you WANT to be associated with?

2. What causes you to prefer those brands?

3. Who does it benefit when you build brand loyalty?

4. HOW does that brand loyalty happen?

5. How do you feel when you buy something that is branded in a way that you like?

6. How do you feel when you’re not ABLE to get something that is branded the way you like?

7. Whatever product you’re talking about… how often do you feel compelled to “update” it?

I mentioned today that I have an Apple computer – a MacBook Pro, to be exact.  My past three computers have all been Apple.  I prefer Apple for a couple of reasons – first off, I do a lot of work with film and still images, and Apples tend to be better for those kinds of projects.  Secondly, my last PC died quickly and had very poor customer service when I needed help.  I’ve taken my MacBook to the Apple store in the Plaza a few times and they’ve always been able to fix whatever is wrong. The past two times, they haven’t even charged me for the repairs.

So, on the one hand, my brand loyalty has to do with quality.  That said, I do love the way Apple computers look. I think they’re sleek and beautiful in a way that many PC brands can’t touch. So, I’m absolutely willing to pay more for a really good quality computer that is reliable, and that has good support if I need it, and bonus – I like the way it looks.

I also have an iPad mini, but I didn’t pay for that (thank you, Donnelly College Soccer Team raffle!!!) and I tend to use it as a little laptop.  For example, if I’m working on writing about a film and need to watch the film on my computer for some reason (if it’s only available online, for example), I’ll type up my notes on the Mini.

I can’t afford an iPhone, and that makes me a little sad sometimes.  I tend to be pretty hard on phones, though, so I can’t even begin to justify the kind of expense an iPhone would involve (the phone itself, a good-quality case, Apple Care insurance, paying for the repairs when I inevitably drop it, and so on…)

Frankly, it makes me sadder that I want the phone that bad.  I try to think hard about why I want it so badly… so I’ll think about that now. Here are my reasons

1. Most of my friends have iPhones, so I see them all the time

2. They’re beautiful – the design is much nicer than my ancient Android

3. It’s a status symbol. Having a relatively recent iPhone looks good. So even though I hate to admit it, I’m definitely guilty of conspicuous consumption, too.  When I can afford it.

I should maybe pause here for a moment and say WHY I hate to admit that I’m guilty of conspicuous consumption.  I’ve spent the past 20 or so years of my life studying media very closely.  I am hyper-aware of how things like advertising and marketing work – so much so that I can’t ignore it.  I know when an ad is targeting my demographic (which Apple does, flawlessly) and I know when advertising is prompting me to be wasteful – to get rid of a perfectly good phone that does everything I need it to, and buy a new one so that… what? None of my reasons are very good, when I stop to think about it.  Additionally, I’m a person who cares a lot about the environment, and I know exactly how much damage we cause when we treat our cell phones as disposable. So it’s not so much that I judge others for their conspicuous consumption (like I said, everyone should do whatever makes them happy [within reason]).  It just happens to be a trait that I try to avoid, or at least be thoughtful about.

Anyway, even if I’m silly and wish I could have an iPhone, I NEVER update until I absolutely have to. I’m from a different generation than you all – most Baby Boomers and many older Generation Xers HATE to throw things away.  We tend to be  hyper-conscious of waste and when we buy something, we want it to last.  I’ll replace my MacBook when it stops working and not a moment sooner.  I still use my pink iPod mini to listen to music when I run. That’s ten years.  A ten year old iPod. Is that a record?

All right, folks – now you take it.  And I’d REALLY like to see some commenting on each others’ posts this time around.  Ask your classmates the hard questions, and we’ll have an awesome conversation on Thursday.