Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's new or not so new....

Flurry of activity all around surrounding our readings for this week. David had an epic piece that rivaled the works of Homer and Dante. Julie had a most insightful post on the nature of the medium (though I agreed with much of what Jenna responded with). Ying-sin spoke of interactivity and how that facet appealed to her as a representation of new media. I cackled at Steve-o's wicked references (Menna and Meffrey - too funny) - all in all, it was exhausting to keep up with the crazy people in my class. After being critted by the massive wall of text (I apologise for the gamespeak, but it's the 'new'), I wonder if it really matters. The only constant theme in human life is change. What was new will be old, and what is old sometimes becomes new (Retro mmmm).

Amidst all the discussion of new versus old, I never felt as if there was much of an issue. Perhaps the media theorists and historians will hang me for thinking so. It seems to me that the discussion seems to center around how individuals and society deal with changes. So why the distinction between the old and the new? We can never leave what we know about the past, the knowledge is necessary to help inform/how to deal with unknown (or if we must, new) entities and experiences we encounter. I'd rather think of it as building blocks of knowledge - a constant synthesis of everything that goes on around us. Maybe I don't get it, or maybe I'm just too lazy to reflect on this properly. Maybe today's class discussion will help me ponder on the matter more - but as this juncture, this concern seems trite. New media is old, much of it is at least twenty years old, some are even middle-aged. Perhaps we should just leave the categories be. It's sorta old news.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Continuity or ... reflections on Gobo's first misadventure

I sat down with the other half this weekend, talking about Scratch and how useful it was for kids to learn the logic of scripting. I then showed him Gobo's story and traced an outline for Gobo's destination (i.e. the rest of the projects). I realise that the other projects have to be different in terms of genre, media and ideas, but the theme of Gobo appeals to me as Gobo, in my perspective, is the central character. Playing around with Gobo also made me realise how we take what we know for granted.

While my first project was simple, I went about it the same way I go about a lot of things. Tinkering and research, or as my friends would say, rtfm. I had also used the other projects as a springboard for my own interpretation of what Gobo's adventures would look like. Through experimentation, I realised that I liked the simple animations that tell a short story. I think in terms of skill sets, I merely appropriated a certain wave file - the Scratch sprite reminded me of an ogre which resulted in a quick Google search for good old ogre sounds.

Now, everyone knows that sorting through information on the net is like finding the contact lenses you dropped on a wet, white sink. It's wasn't necessarily difficult, but it was annoying and also meant discriminating between search results- which again, is a skill that most of us take for granted. Choosing the correct images was also important in telling my story. My protagonist was a cute little flame-like creature, and the antagonist was a big green ogre, which was necessarily ugly. Ah, the conventions of storytelling ... seems simple enough, but again, it involves certain literacies that we take for granted. Later, as I talked about Gobo's future adventures, I began to incorporate more fantastical popular culture, both for the sake of absurdity and amusement. Ah, the possibilities.

In the end, Scratch to me, seems to invoke the continuity that Dewey talks about in Experience and Education. The completion of one project is not the end of the destination, instead it opens up the door to more possibilities and more ideas for experimentation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Simplicity in motion

I have a vision... Correction. I had a vision. And with all great visions of mine, I had to temper it in light of time constraints and lack of expertise(sounds familiar, anyone?). Despite that, I liked tinkering with Scratch. Gobo had captured my heart the moment I laid eyes on him, and I knew I had to give the little guy a story. That's where it got all tricky. In my previous life, all I had to do was sketch storyboards or have basic concept art ready or rattle stream of consciousness to anyone who would listen (read: team members). Then, all I had to do was to hand it over to our team's artist, Henry, who would do beautific things to my stick figures and made my imagination come to life. But alas, Henry is back home working on other designs of grandeur and I'm stuck with my visions vegetating in my head.

With such a huge handicap, I had no means of translating the images in my head. With grit and determination, I set out to amuse myself with Gobo and let Gobo dictate the story for me. There was no method to my madness. I started out looking at projects. I selected the aquarium project, giggled at it, and later shook my fist at the sleekness of Daydream. Those two ultimately informed my own project on Gobo. Armed with scripts that the authors used in the other, I played around until Gobo's story emerged. And here it is. It made me laugh while creating it but I am easily amused. Enjoy my mediocre foray into digital storytelling.

Learn more about this project

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On lowering expectations - or - Getting pwned by Scratch

Mike's post on motivation and learning was illuminating and set me thinking about the intricacies of learning. While I won't rehash my comments to his post, flow theory helps explain the process of disengagement and immersion. However, Scratch as a construct depends on other constructs, on its own, it is not a sufficient resource. Arguably, for successful learning to occur, the tenets that Bers (2008) refer to are vital. While Mike disengaged and did not necessarily learn from Scratch, his reflections on his own process was 'learning about learning'. Perhaps not learning Scratch was the lesson after all.

In contrast, my re-engagement with Scratch was influenced by Charlene's actions. Had it not been for an offhand remark about the Bozo or whatever-it-was-called sprite dancing to the music that was playing when Charlene's name was presented, I would have still been obsessed about getting the Bozos to roll. Charlene responded to my comment by scripting the actions, which I then took up willingly and shifted my original design. Do I still want to learn how to get those things rolling and bouncing? Definitely. But in the interest of time and collaboration, I shifted my goals. While my original goal had not been achieved, I realise that goals are permutative. As learners, we can shift our expectations, depending on our current abilities and context. As a new learner, I lowered my expectations and was content with the existing result. At the same time however, the original goal still exists. I am still very much motivated to learn what I had originally intended. Being frustrated is part of the learning process, but as Bers pointed out, having an outlet, or the design journal allows learners to express that frustration and the community will act as a resource to help motivate the learner. In this vein, I urge Mike not to give up on his relationship with Scratch. I had glanced at what he had designed and would love to see his work in all its glory. Think of it as teething, it is beyond exasperating but necessary.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Introduction - Afterwards

The obligatory introductory post was actually listed in the 'About Me'. But in the interest of less clickages, here's a cut and paste.

Antaera, or Ant, as my friends usually call me, has my internet handle for over ten years now and is as much a part of me as the physical manifestation that some of you see around. Due to my immersion in virtual environments, I am interested in the many platforms in which individuals come together, either to collaborate or compete with each other.

As a child of sociology, I am interested in how communities form and maintain cultural norms online. This interest extends to the classroom setting, as norms are exclusionary in nature, which brings up issues of equity. Games have the potential to positively affect how students are positioned in the classroom. Instead of focusing on their socio-economic or cultural background, students have the ability to immerse themselves in roles that will help empower their sense of self and in turn, their learning.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Just a little update to fill up the emptiness of this blog. I have several blogs, which unfortunately, due to lack of interest, just fell apart. Primarily because I would use them as document repositories , rather than a platform to reach others. Privacy on the internet, imagine that.

One of the few things that crossed my mind when watching the Listening Post was the issue of privacy. While the data is mined from public chatrooms, the digital footprints that can be tracked still makes me uneasy. Google does it, data mining companies do it. I'm not a fan of having my information that easily tracked online, but that's probably the conspiracist and paranoid geek in me. Just a thought.

Edit: Blogger really needs a cut tag like LJ. I could probably fiddle with scripts, but that would take too much effort.