A Semester in Digital Communications

Wow – what a semester. I can remember sitting in class on the first day looking at the syllabus before me thinking, “Holy crap, how am I going to do all this? I don’t know how to do any of this!” It was a moment of second guessing myself and  my abilities – yet, I decided to stick it out and what a ride it has been. I’ve learned more about how web designers think than I ever knew… People don’t decide to make something look a certain way just because it’s pretty – there’s always an agenda behind it: some specific message they want to get across to the viewer. These designer tactics can be seen in digital literacies specifically the video and podcast my group produced as well as my personal video for my blog. Below is my group’s video and underneath that is my personal video for my blog.

A few things to remember when producing any type of multi-media:

  • Have a voice – show off your personality and who you are through your choice of writing, shooting, style, etc…
  • Be short and sweet – humans don’t have very large attention spans, so get your point across quickly and clearly
  • Use visuals – Especially if you’re blogging or producing B-roll for a video; you don’t want your audience to get bored

Regarding the digital literacies above, my blog has definitely given me a voice. Not that I didn’t have one before, I just got to see more in depth what my style is. The same can be said for my personal website – from the colors, to the paragraph I wrote about myself for my “about me” page, I got to paint a picture of how I want to be seen. With my team’s video, we used a significant amount of B-roll. This included action shots as well as moving stills just to change up the appearance for our viewers. We wanted to keep our viewer’s attention. The B-roll is where you can really illustrate a story for your viewers and my group had fun constructing our B-roll. As far as improvement goes – I definitely would smooth out the audio in both my team’s and my personal video. It can be difficult making sure that the different clips you piece together have an equal volume that makes transitions smooth. I am really proud of my personal website… I am an artist and designing my website on Wix was like painting a picture. I got to pick the colors, shapes, pics, layout – It was “my baby” and I loved every minute of it and am so proud that I have something like that to show future employers!

Digital Media is the Future

Digital Media is the Future

I have been forever changed by this course. Not only do I think differently when it comes to analyzing digital media, but I write and construct projects differently. I learned so many tools from our workshops in class that make digital media the art that it is. I want future employers to see that I am well-rounded in the digital world and that I know how users think and what they want to see. This knowledge will not only set me apart from other applicants, but will be a great asset to any business.

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Finding Beauty in the Mirror

Real beauty isn’t about symmetry or weight or makeup: it’s about looking life right in the face and seeing all its magnificence reflected in your own. – Valerie Monroe

In high school I definitely felt the pressure to look a certain way – there’s no denying that. However, the struggle still continues for many ladies in college.

My college – Furman University is no exception.

According to ANAD, 91% of women surveyed in college attempt to control their weight through dieting. 86% of students surveyed reported onset of eating disorder by the age of 20. 43% onset between ages of 16 – 20. ANAD says, “Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder.”

The battle between being hungry and being thin.

The battle between being hungry and being thin.

Page Empson so bravely shared her story from freshman year with me…

In the video above, Page talks about a complete stranger college guy approaching her in our dining hall at Furman, tapping her on the shoulder, and saying – “You know what? You’d actually be pretty if you lost some weight.”

Let me first just say that it’s a good thing I wasn’t there when this comment was made to my beautiful friend. I could sit here and use a ton of expletives to describe this young man who hurt my friend, however this story has a much greater, empowering purpose for our young women – and that’s exactly what I’m here for.

Girl looking in the mirror and seeing something that's not there. Eating disorders are not just physical - they are mental.

Girl looking in the mirror and seeing something that’s not there. Eating disorders are not just physical – they are mental.

TEENbeing Choice Magazine article “Body Bullies” by Lori Gottlieb paints a clear picture of body bullying in the context of high school for teenagers, however these components can be seen in colleges everywhere. Technically, college students may not be “teens” but we – especially girls – still struggle with body shaming comments (whether they’re from within or coming from other people).

Huffpost Healthy Living’s article “Please Stop Hating Your Body” starts off with “We live in a culture that HATES the body. Don’t believe me? Look around. We set unsustainable standards of physical beauty and enlist models to represent them. We then slather these models in oils and makeup, place them under “flattering” lights, and Photoshop them into oblivion.”

Eating Disorders are real and it is our job to start spreading awareness.

Eating Disorders are real and it is our job to start spreading awareness.

And might I just add that this brilliant article was written by a MAN! Thank you, Seth Adam Smith for preaching the truth. God knows we need more people like you in this world.

It’s A Networking World

Now we have so many more social outlets, so many ways to be stalked and bullied. If social media is too much for you to handle, then don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account. Just be yourself. Be who you want to be. – Khloe Kardashian

The power behind social media is that anyone, and I mean ANYONE can use it. Whether you are the famous Khloe Kardashian or the quiet kid who sits in the back of the classroom – you can have a voice online.

Kloe Kardashian

Kloe Kardashian

When you think of social media, what comes to mind? Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter

Jan H. Kietzmann‘s “Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media” pinpoints the foundation for social media’s success – IDENTITY! Identify = the extent to which users reveal themselves. What does he mean by “reveal themselves?” (No, this does not mean removing any articles of clothing!)

The revealing of an identity can be identified as giving information regarding your name, age, location, etc… and of course, people can abuse this by creating fake profiles. This makes me think of all the times my parents warned me in middle school to never get on a “chatroom” online… you never know whose on there.

Branching from the core of identity, there are six function blocks of social media: conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups.

Networking is at the tips of your fingers.

Networking is at the tips of your fingers.

David Dubois’s “Content Strategy is King in Social Media” talks all about how social media accounts’ primary focus is to hook its audience. For instance, Khloe Kardashian’s Facebook promotes episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians or her store Dash. It’s all interconnected where if you go on to any of these webpages, there are links that take you directly to their other sites. And like i’ve said before, anyone with access to the internet can do this too… you are basically creating a brand name for yourself – which is why it’s so important what you put out there on the internet!

Ethics in a Digital World

Have you ever downloaded music or a movie online illegally? When I was in high school, this was extremely popular and my friends would make fun of me for paying 99 cents on iTunes for the new Britney Spears song. But let’s face it – I knew what my friends were doing was wrong (even if I didn’t fully understand what illegally downloading was).

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Charles Ess‘s “Digital Ethics” Specifically, Chapter 3 compares the relevant examples of illegally downloading music online to stealing a CD from a bookstore. Back in high school, my friends would’ve disagreed with this – saying something along the lines of “I would NEVER steal merchandise from Barnes and Noble!” or “I’m not hurting anybody by doing this.” But the fact is – yes, you are hurting somebody. And that somebody is the artist.

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Importance of ethics in a digital world.

It doesn’t matter if you are illegally downloading music from a band who nobody knows exists or it’s off of Justin Timberlake’s newest album – you are literally stealing their hard work by not paying anything for it. To me, this seems ironic because wouldn’t you want to financially support a band or singer whose music you like? That band or singer has to make some kind of money to keep on producing the music that you like so much.. hence paying a price for their song on iTunes. It’s a logical circle.

The above video shows some of the serious consequences of downloading illegally online. Most people think, “Yeah, but I won’t get caught” or “Ha, it won’t happen to me.” I guarantee you the people that do get caught and punished every single day have thought those same exact things. Don’t be one of them.

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Body Shaming: Plus-Sized Models on Magazine Covers

There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Below is a slideshow of pictures I took that represent the dining experience at Furman University: Because Body Shaming can be initiated with food or dining experiences – especially at a college campus.

Fat Girl PhD is a blog addressing the issues that body-shaming directly leads to – such as eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. One blog post in particular states that 70% of adult women have felt pressure from television and magazines to have the perfect body.

Body-shaming isn't just about BEAUTY.

Body-shaming isn’t just about BEAUTY.

Body-shaming hits home a little closer for females because it’s not coming from just the media or tv… it’s coming from people you know and care about – or even yourself.

According to Walden Behavior Care, Body-shaming can be seen in different forms…

  • Criticizing your own appearance by comparison to other people
  • Openly criticizing someone else to their face
  • Privately criticizing someone behind their back

Above, Good Morning America reports on a magazine advertising naked, plus-sized women (with their privates being covered by pretty red ribbons of course). Normally, people would reject or even be offended by an “overweight” lady bearing all on a fashion magazine cover… but PLUS Model Magazine is challenging society with their “we don’t give a damn about what society thinks” attitude. Personally, I think this is fabulous.

Size doesn't matter.

Size doesn’t matter.

Body Shaming is real and just as powerful, if not worse than any other type of bullying out there… There are several Anti-Body Shaming Movements out there, but we need more. And awareness is a monumental first step.

It is our responsibility to protect the next generation from body-shaming.

It is our responsibility to protect the next generation from body-shaming.

The Motion Behind Story Telling: Video Production

The most amazing thing for me is that every single person who sees a movie, not necessarily one of my movies, brings a whole set of unique experiences. Now, through careful manipulation and good storytelling, you can get everybody to clap at the same time, to hopefully laugh at the same time, and to be afraid at the same time. – Steven Spielberg

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Story telling has been the human’s favorite way of communicating since Adam and Eve. With today’s technology, story telling is  so much more than just verbally sharing a story… Not only do we have the voice of a narrator, but we also have audio to bring in all other kinds of sounds. We also get to use images – such as still shots or live video. This combination of audio and video is what makes a story come to life.

Filming an interview

Filming an interview

Lynda Felder categorizes types of moving graphics:

  • Video
  • Animation
  • Motion Graphics
  • Software Simulation
  • Games
  • Photo Slide Shows
  • Digital Story Telling

In Todd Chappell’s “Video Production Primer,” he gives us some simple tips to keep in mind when shooting video:

  • Test your equipment before conducting an interview
  • Always shoot more than you think you need
  • You will NEVER use an entire clip of an interview – you will take out the main key parts
  • Be aware of background noises that may distract your viewers from the interview itself
  • USE A TRIPOD NO MATTER WHAT

Above, is a tutorial by Tom Antos with some extra tips on shooting video for first-timers out there (like myself).

Preparing for a shoot

Preparing for a shoot

Audio and Storytelling

Sound is arguably on par with video as the most important element to be able to manipulate and control during production and post production. Too often filmmakers focus all of their attention on video footage and ignore the quality of their sound. Interestingly enough, audiences seem to be more annoyed by poor sound quality than by poor cinematography. – Lights Film School

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Sound Equipment

I’ll just tell you right now – audio is so important to me. Hearing words, music, sounds, etc… creates a strong visual and understanding in my head. But that’s just me – everyone is different in the way they perceive and take in media.

Poynter.com has 10 tips for using audio more effectively in multimedia stories. These tips include:

  • Remember the basic
  • Know your equipment
  • Focus on the big stuff first
  • Minimize noise
  • Always monitor sound
  • Use sound to add detail
  • Vary the loudness of audio
  • Use layers to create richer sound
  • Avoid editing pitfalls
  • Use music with care

The above video may be “goofy,” but it has some great pointers on sound quality, PLUS it made me laugh.

SHHHHHHHH! Silence! Silence is a good thing, people. Quiet is essential  when interviewing your subject. Also, just nod your head when you are ready for your subject to start talking (in other words, don’t say “Go!”)

Don’t be afraid to use pauses for reflection, either. ———————— it can make a bigger impact. (See what I did there?)

In summary, audio is pretty awesome and without it, (in my opinion) the art of story telling wouldn’t be what it is today.

Sound Engineering

Sound Engineering

The Magic Behind Digital Media

The Theory of Gestalt holds that the whole is different from and usually more than, the mere mathematical addition of the whole’s constituent parts. – Writing & Editing for Digital Media 2nd Edition Brian Carroll

A huge part of web design is to reduce if not eliminate disorientation. This means don’t junk up your web page because, frankly, it’s overwhelming. I’ve visited a website before (and I won’t mention any names) that literally gave me anxiety because there was SO MUCH STUFF. I didn’t know what to look at first or read first… let alone what to click!

Types of Digital Media

Types of Digital Media

The picture above is a great example of utter chaos on a web page… don’t look at it too long. It might hurt your eyes.

Consistent visual design is crucial to having a “user friendly” website. So, if you like tons of different colors, fonts, oh, and maybe some zebra print and glitter – please, restrain yourself. Your viewers will thank you later, I promise.

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Each and EVERY page on your website should have a link to the main homepage. Don’t let your website viewers get lost! After all, you have a very important message to get across here and if your website viewer gets confused or lost… guess what? they “x” out of your precious web page.

Reading backwards is also a great way to proof read your stuff! (uber weird, I know) But give it a try! It forces your brain NOT to complete a word or sentence – which is where we miss our mistakes. There are tons of helpful tips out there on proof reading, so don’t be discouraged! You can do this.

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Invest in Digital

To Love or Loathe Your Body?

According to a CNN Opinion article, the perfect body is being advertised to people of all ages – “From children’s toys to TV programs, images of the ‘ideal’ body have permeated every level of our visual culture.”

The ReThink Beauty Campaign stresses the issue of the media brainwashing our women that in order to be beautiful, we have to look like the photoshopped bodies on magazine covers – saying “The female body is reflected and portrayed in the omnipresent media as an object of desire. Stick thin models are used in advertisements, which are then airbrushed and photoshopped to produce an unattainable image of beauty – and women around the world strive to fit into it.”

Being a college student, I am constantly surrounded by girls of all shapes and sizes. Every day I have to make the conscious decision to not compare myself to them – whether I am saying in my head “Ugh, why can’t I have a body like hers?” or “Man, at least I’m not THAT fat.” I make the choice to look in the mirror and not only accept, but embrace what I see. This is far from easy and I of all people know that. I struggled in high school greatly with body image because I went to school with extremely thin girls. I thought that no one would think I was pretty unless I looked like the other girls. And let me just say that it’s exhausting, and frankly tragic, trying to be something that you’re not. When I got to college and took part in a psychology study on women and body image, I was utterly shocked by just how many other girls struggled with body image – girls just like me. So here I am blogging about it because if I had been able to reach out to someone about my personal struggles with body image in high school – I wouldn’t have lost my confidence. And confidence is everything. This is me from my senior year in high school to my sophomore year in college… I definitely gained some weight, but I got my life back. And I got to focus on the real things that matter.

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Senior Year in High School

Sophomore Year in College

Sophomore Year in College

We can’t help each other without sharing our stories – In the video below, Cameron Russell gives a powerful message about the lies of looking perfect. More people need to do this – especially people in the lime light of the media because they are the role models for our girls – no matter what age.

Type: Beautiful and Useful

While audiences may view type on a slide as text to read, its shape, size, color, and texture also affect its meaning and the feelings the viewers interpret.

Image created by different types of typography

Image created by different types of typography

Choosing a type is sometimes, not only fun, but really powerful. A great example I can think of is this one time I visited a spa website and the colors were calm and soothing along with the fonts they used. Nothing on that website was bold, bright, or flashy… for a reason.

Always make sure your audience can read what you have to say – even people in the WAAAAAY back. So don’t be afraid to make it big. If you are presenting to a small group and you have a good bit of data to cover, it’s helpful to print a handout for your audience instead of junking up your slide presentation. It’s super easy to overwhelm your audience by piling on information and details on a projector screen.

Periodic Table of Typefaces

Periodic Table of Typefaces

Use restraint when using ALL CAPS… it can be useful in emphasizing a word or small sentence – but other than that, it can be intrusive and obnoxious on the readers eyes.

“Kerning” is also very important – adjusting the space between your letters. As a writer, you don’t want the spacing of letters to distract your readers from the point you are trying to get across. The same goes for lines… I guess there is a better reason for double-spacing your research paper besides making it appear longer? Who knew!

A good rule to keep in the back of your mind: when thinking about different typefaces for one design, stick to 1 or 2 (at most 3). It’s also sometimes good to have a text inserted on an angle on a picture – this can give a cool, dynamic effect to a picture.