#ctpf22 course calendar

about the course calendar

Texts are to be read/watched/listened to for day they are listed. Homework in addition to texts will be presented in yellow. The schedule is subject to change; it is your responsibility to check it regularly.

Jump to a week: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Week One: Introductions

M 8/22: Welcome and Introductions; What is Communication?

Assignment for Wednesday, 8/24
Please read through the course web site carefully and post two questions you have about it to this anonymous form:


If you have yet to complete the confidential Start of Semester survey I emailed last week, please do.

Dr. Sullivan has asked me to remind you that she is holding required advising sessions for first-year students this week, Tuesday 8/23 at 11:00am and Wednesday, 8/24 at 2:00pm. Both will be held in the first floor Bronstein Hall. The content for each is the same, so you only need to attend one. The meeting will cover reminders and things to keep in mind about the first semester. If you have a conflict and cannot attend a meeting, please email Dr. Sullivan.

Otherwise, enjoy your first days of class and if you have any questions, please let me know.

W 8/24: More introductions; What is the COM major/minor and what do you want to get out of it? Mission Statement; Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4

Assignment for Friday, 8/26
If you have yet to do so, please read through the course web site carefully and post two questions you have about it to this anonymous form:


This Thursday, the Activities Fair is being held from 4:00-6:00pm on Curran Lawn (the big field in front of the Foley Center). The Activities Fair is where students can learn about the many clubs and activities SJU has to offer, so I strongly recommend you attend and if you’d like, sign up for a few things (like The SJU Community Garden!). Getting involved is an important part of college life and going to this will help you get started on that.

No readings or other work just yet. That starts for Monday.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

F 8/26: Syllabus questions
Hand out Reading Response Assignment

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Week Two: Writing as Technology

Assignment for Monday, 8/29
The assignment for Monday will get us started thinking about communication, focusing at first on writing. In preparation, I’d like you to read through the Reading Response Assignment, taking note of the various due dates and word counts.

Then, download and read the selections from Robinson’s book, The Story of Writing, which you can find on the Readings and Texts page (the password is in the email I sent last Monday). The reading ends with the Greeks, but you can see the continued evolution of writing in the below image created by Matt Baker:

For your first Reading Response, I’d like you to locate a passage in the reading you found particularly interesting or intriguing and using the GoogleDoc Bill shared with you on Friday morning, discuss that passage—why it is intriguing to you, what it makes you think about, how you connect it to the kind of writing we do today—that kind of thing. Please point to the page where it can be found, and if it is a short passage quote it. (If it is a long passage, you can just write something like, “see page 20, middle paragraph”). The passage you quote does not count toward the required word count.

Make sure your response is thoughtful and uses proper sentences, punctuation, spelling, grammar, paragraphs, etc.

Don’t forget to complete the both the Response and Reflection portions of the Reading Response, and use bolded headers to separate the two sections.

We will discuss the text in detail in class on Monday, very likely looking to your responses, as well.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

M 8/29: Robinson, selections from The Story of Writing, Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4; brain map
Reading Response 1 Due (required)

Assignment for Wednesday, 8/31
Please download and print the readings by Axelrod & Cooper (2006) and Bolter (2001) from the Readings and Texts page. Read Axelrod & Cooper first, then use their annotation techniques to annotate pages 14 – 21 in Bolter (stop reading at the Economies of Writing heading on page 21).

Bring your annotated version to class. (If you prefer annotate using digital annotation techniques, please try to adapt Axelrod & Cooper to the digital space you prefer to use.) Regardless of if you print or complete online, do not merely highlight the text; use Axelrod and Cooper’s techniques. I will check your annotations in class and we will discuss them, as well.

After reading and annotating, for your second Reading Response, I’d like you to respond to the following:

On page 19, Bolter writes: “The technical and cultural dimensions of writing are so intricately related that it is not useful to try to separate them: together they constitute writing as a technology.” Try to break that sentence down a bit. What does Bolter mean by “technical and cultural dimensions of writing”? Why and how are they so “intricately related”? Can you think of a present day example? An example from the Robinson reading for Monday?

Don’t forget to complete both the Response and the Reflection portions.

We’ll discuss Bolter (pages 14 – 21) in class in detail on Wednesday.

Wed 8/31: Bolter, “Writing as Technology,” pages 14 – 21; Axelrod and Cooper on annotating; Gutenberg printing press; Engelbart 1968: word processing and control devices
Reading Response 2 Due (required)

Assignment for Friday, 9/1
I’d like you to read and annotated Bolter, pages 23 – 26, starting with the heading “Remediation” and ending with the end of the chapter.

There is no Reading Response due on Friday, but you are still expected to have read the text carefully and be prepared to discuss the concept of remediation. (If I don’t think students are reading when no reading response is due, I will be forced to created pop-quizes.)

If you have any questions, please let me know!

F 9/2: Bolter, continued (pages 23 – 26) on remediation

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Week Three: Being a Com Student and Online Identity

Assignment for Wednesday, 9/7
This is going to be a big week for us.

First, we have current COM students joining us to talk with and answer our questions about what it is like to be a student in the COM department.

In order to prepare for this and no later than Tuesday 9/6 at noon, you are required to submit up to 3 questions for our guests using this form:


Second, we are going to start the process of creating our WordPress portfolio site. In order to do that, each student will need to purchase a URL and hosting account, and then install WordPress. To do each of these things, we will be using a company called Reclaim Hosting, a company created by academics to serve the needs of students.

This can be a confusing and complicated process. To help you through this process, I have created the following two videos.

The first explains what happens when you visit a website using a browser, what servers are and how they are used to host websites. You are required to watch and take detailed notes, which I will ask to look at in class on Wednesday:

The second video walks you through the process of choosing a hosting plan using Reclaim Hosting, choosing a URL, purchasing both, and then installing WordPress (which is free). Watch this video and go through the process along with it, pausing the video as you go through the steps. (Do not go to wordpress.com and create an account; as I detail in the video, we are using Reclaim Hosting to install software based on the wordpress.org platform, which is very different from wordpress.com. Follow the steps in the video exactly as described.)

You must have your URL purchased and WordPress installed on it by the start of class on Wednesday. If you have any questions along the way, email me immediately.

M 9/5: Class Canceled — Labor Day
W 9/7:
COM Students visit class to talk about being a COM student
URLs and WordPress Install Due

Assignment for Friday, 9/9
In class on Friday we are going to discuss the reading you had for last Friday, specifically focusing on Bolter’s ideas on remediation and technological determination. So, please remind yourself of those ideas and come to class ready to discuss.

We are also going to start thinking about your building your online presence through your WordPress portfolio site. Prior to the start of class, please add your name and URL to this form:


And please read and be prepared to discuss these two short articles:

If you have any questions, please let me know!

F 9/9: Remediation; technological determinism; creating a professional online identity; logging in to our WordPress sites

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Week Four: Typefaces and WordPress

Assignment for Monday, 9/12
The work for Monday is going to help move us into thinking about the design of our WordPress sites by focusing on fonts and typefaces. But, before we start choosing the fonts we want on out site, we need to learn a bit about the history and functionality of fonts and typefaces.

So, I’d like you to read the pages by Ellen Lupton on the history of type from her seminal book, thinking with type, and chapters 1 and 2 from Jason Santa Maria‘s wonderful book, On Web Typography (see the Readings and Texts page for both). 

For your third Reading Response, I’d like you to consider how type could be seen as a non-neutral technology that has the potential to impact, transform, and/or shape the message of a particular text. Quote or summarize ideas from Lupton, Santa Maria, and Bolter in your discussion.

In addition, I’d like you to start exploring the Dashboard area of your new WordPress installation. Unless you find how to delete the whole thing, you aren’t going to break anything, so feel free to look around.

I would like each of you to change the theme of your site to one that has a few more design-related options. Please follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Dashboard by going to http://YOURURL/wp-admin. (We did this in class on Friday.)
  2. On the left sidebar, hover over Appearance and click on Themes.
  3. You will see three themes that have been installed by default. I’d like you to Activate the theme named Twenty Twenty-One.
  4. Go to your website and you will see the theme has changed.

If you have any questions about any of this work, please let me know.

M 9/12: Lupton on the history of typeface; Santa Maria, ch 1 and 2; Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4
Reading Response 3 Due (required)
Hand out WordPress Portfolio Site Assignment

Assignment for Wednesday, 9/14
The work for Wednesday is going to continue to introduce use to the nuance and intricacy of both WordPress and typeface. You may complete the two parts of the assignment in any order you’d like, but please have them both completed by the start of class as we will be showing and sharing what we have created and chosen. There is no Reading Response due.

Part A. Typeface
I’d like you to read Chapters 3, 4, and 5, in Jason Santa Maria’s On Web Typography, paying special attention to the technical names of font body parts, the way he is pairing fonts, and how fonts exist within sentences and paragraphs.

Then, I’d like you to go to Google Fonts and select TWO Header fonts and ONE body font that you might consider adding to your site. One header you should envision as the main header, the one for your name. The other you should consider a second level header, say for the title of a page or post. The body font should be imaged as for the sentences.

For each you choose, I’d like you to have written down why you have chosen it, using Santa Maria’s terminology. That is, don’t write down “I just like it.” Instead, discuss things like x-height, serifs, descenders, readability, and so on. Readability is key; remember what he wrote in chapter 2: “Whether online, in print, or on the side of a spaceship, typography is the primary vehicle we use as designers to communicate our message. When we get it right, it’s powerful. And to do it well, we need to strike the balance between beauty and utility” (p. 14). In other words, just because you might think a font is cool or pretty, doesn’t mean it will help you get your message across or maintain readers.

Part B. WordPress (updated 9/12/22 8:05pm)
The next WordPress video is going to introduce you to and ask you to interact with settings, plugins, pages, brief theme customization, and menus. I’d like you to watch the video and complete each of the items that I complete in it.

This video introduces you to the WordPress dashboard, plugins, pages, and site customization. Specifically, it covers:

0:00: Introductory remarks and what you’ll need open, including the Some Important WordPress Terms document
3:22: Setting the theme so we are all working with Twenty Twenty-One
4:15: Publishing the site for the first time to ensure default pages are showing
5:30: Overview of the WordPress Dashboard
6:40: About WordPress Settings
8:10: About setting the Permalinks
8:35: Customizing the Reading settings
11:55: Installing various plugins
14:15: Editing the About page
19:10: Customizing the theme a bit
20:55: Customizing the Primary Menu
21:35: Closing remarks and to-dos

If you have any questions, please let me know.

W 9/14: Santa Maria, chs 3, 4, and 5; typeface-handout.pdf

Assignment for Friday, 9/16
The assignment for Friday is going to help us set up our WordPress sites a bit more, specifically by creating a contact form (using the WPForms Lite plugin) and embedding it in the Contact page and then loading in specific Google Fonts of your choice using the Fonts Plugin.

To complete that work, please watch the following short videos and complete exactly what is described.

Video 1: Creating and Embedding the Contact Form

This video introduces you to creating a contact form on a WordPress site using the WPForms Lite plugin. Specifically, it covers:

0:00: Introductory remarks
2:20: Creating and editing the Simple Contact Form
8:05: Adding the created form to the Contact page
9:05: Viewing the form online

Video 2: Loading in Google Fonts

This video will introduce you loading Google Fonts into your WordPress site using the Fronts Plugin. Specifically, it covers:

0:00: Introductory remarks
0:40: Getting started with the plugin
1:50: Loading in the Google Fonts
2:30: About the plugin Basic Settings
3:20: Editing a page to add the loaded in fonts

Once you have completed the work in this week’s videos, you should have your About page, Contact page, and Menu created, as well as fonts and contact form added, and a variety of plugins installed. These all need to be done by class on Friday.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

F 9/16: More on WordPress; blogs, DC Rainmaker
WordPress About and Contact Pages Created, Menu Set Up, and Plugins Installed

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Week Five: Inclusive Design and WordPress

Assignment for Monday, 9/19
This week we are going to be introduced to theories and practices associated with Inclusive Design.

To get us started, please read and take notes on the Microsoft Inclusive Design Toolkit (.pdf), which is part of the Inclusive Design section of their Design web site.

For your required 4th Reading Response, I’d like you to choose one of the design principles discussed in the Toolkit — Recognize Exclusion, Learn from Diversity, or Solve for One, Extend to Many — and look for examples of them in your daily life and activities. Choose two of those examples, take a photo or screenshot of each, and discuss how the examples make real that particular principle(s). Include your photos or screenshots in the example.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

M 9/19: More on blogging; for layout discussion: sample post 1, sample post 2
Reading Response 4 Due (required)
Hand out Design Blog Assignment

Assignment for Wednesday, 9/21
Please read through the Design Blog Assignment and come to class with any questions you have. Remember, your first blog post is due Friday by 11:00pm.

I’d like you to continue preparing for our inclusive design discussion Wednesday by reading “Inclusive Design for Social Media: Tips for Creating Accessible Channels” by Katie Sehl. This is an example of a list blog post and there is quite a bit of information here. It’s a great post to bookmark and keep handy because you can eventually use it as a reference for when you creating the kind of media described within.

If you are behind on your Reading Responses, please use this time to get caught up with either or both.

W 9/21: Microsoft Inclusive Design Toolkit; ALT text, color, and digital accessibility; computer voice over; inclusive design in video

Assignment for Friday, 9/23
Friday at 11:0pm your first Design Blog Post is due (on the subject of Typeface Selections), but I’d like you to come to class with what you’d consider to be the final draft. In class, we’ll share and discuss them with the class and provide you with revisions to make for the final one.

Also, as I mentioned in class, there was an unfortunate omission on the syllabus. Each of you will need a 16BG (or higher) SD card. We’re going to start using them next week, so please make sure you have one by next Wednesday. If you already have an SD card, there’s no need to buy a new one. Just make sure there’s plenty of room on it.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

F 9/23: Discuss blog post drafts; blog-post-checklist-f22.pdf COM students visit to discuss COM 202, COM 203, and Com 372
Design Blog Post 1 Due: Typeface Selections by 11:00pm

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Week Six: Photography Gear and Techniques

Assignment for Monday, 9/26
This week we are going to shift focus and move into photography and how we can use photographs to tell stories.

As long as the weather holds up, on Wed and Fri we’re going to be meeting at the Barnes Foundation where you will be able to practice working on your photography techniques.

To prepare for this, I’d like you to read the selections from David duChemin’s book, The Soul of the Camera, which is avilable on the Readings and Texts page, as well as this blog post by Barry O’Carroll on Composition Techniques.

There is no Reading Response due, but I’d like you to come to class with three things:

  1. A highlighted passage from duChemin you think was particularly revealing or interesting.
  2. A link to a photograph you have seen online or a photograph you have taken that you think illuminates one of words of wisdom duChemin makes.
  3. A link to a photograph you have seen online or a photograph you have taken that is an example of one of the composition techniques O’Carroll describes.

Please also see my email sent on Friday morning regarding the SD card purchase, which is no longer required.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

M 9/26: duChemin on photography (2017) and Composition Techniques; 2022 Photo Stats; First Photograph
Discuss Self-Assessment Assignment 
Hand out Photography Techniques Assignment

W 9/28: Meet in front of Bronstein Hall to work on photography techniques; photo-technique-exercise-f22.docx
F 9/30: Back in classroom to talk about photos
Discuss Photography Techniques Submission Details
Discuss Blog Post 2: Photography Techniques Reflection
Six-Week Self-Assessment Due by 11:00pm

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Week Seven: Midterm/Photo Conferences

M 10/3: Class Canceled for Midterm Conferences
Photograph Techniques Photos Due by Start of Conference
W 10/5: Class Canceled for Midterm Conferences
F 10/7: Class Canceled for Midterm Conferences
Photography Techniques Assignment Due by 7:00pm start of class
Wordpress Portfolio Site at Midterm Due by 11:00pm — Checklist (.pdf)
Blog Post 2: Photography Techniques Reflection by
Monday, 10/10 at noon

Fall Break 10/10 – 10/14

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Week Eight: Digital and Multimedia Storytelling

M 10/18: Student Digital Photo Show (each student shows their fav technique photo)

Assignment for Wednesday, 10/19
This week we are getting started talking about digital storytelling and then multimedia storytelling, leading up to the major project for the semester.

For Wednesday, I’d like you to read Joe Lambert’s “Seven Elements” of digital storytelling. Lambert is one of the first people to start implementing digital storytelling and he did it by asking people to compose autobiographical stories. So, his discussions are often asking people to look inward at themselves. We aren’t going to be taking an autobiographical approach, but his terms and ideas are still foundational for what we are going to be doing. So, we’re just going to apply them in new ways.

I’d also like you to watch the following short videos that past COM students in Nonprofit Communications created:

For your 5th Reading Response, which is required, I’d like you to choose two of the seven stages Lambert describes and discuss how you see them applied two of the three videos. Discuss one stage in one video and then the other stage in another video. When thinking about how they are applied, also consider the impact that application has on the story being told overall. That is, how you see the term interacting with and/or enhancing the other stages of digital storytelling.

We’ll discuss Lambert and the videos in great detail in class on Wednesday.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

W 10/19: Lambert on Digital Storytelling; video examples; notes-for-lambert.pdf
Reading Response 5 Due (required)

Assignment for Friday, 10/21
For Friday, our readings are going to ask us to consider multimedia stories. That is, stories that contain multiple genres—such as, text, video, audio, photo, graphics, and so on—brought together to create a unified story.

The first, John Branch’s “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” was the first multimedia journalism piece that truly took advantage of much of what is (or was) available online when it was published in 2012. It was and remains a revolutionary and seminal text. Please read at least the first two sections, take in the graphics (some take a little while to load), enlarge and look at the photos, and watch the videos.

The other two pieces I’d like you are read are multimedia photo essays published as part of The Black Gaze, which is “a photo series on the Black experience” by Andscape and Getty Images. The two I’d like you to read are Tamika Moore’s “Kickball” and Justin Milhouse’s “Detroit Bike Culture.”

As you read each of these stories, I’d like you to keep track of and bring to class with you in writing how the various modes of communication (texts, video, photo, audio, graphics, etc.) enhance the overall multimedia story. What would be lost if some of the non-alphabetic text modes were absent and replaced only with alphabetic text?

I’d also like you to try to determine the Point and Dramatic Question for each, looking back to Lambert as a guide. Take to heart what Lambert writes: “In well-crefted stories, the point may be a little less apparent than the moral of a fairy tale, and it might require some thought. . .” (p. 47). These are well-crafted stories.

We’ll discuss these in class on Friday.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

F 10/21: Branch, “Snow Fall”; photo essays: Tamika Moore, “Kickball“; Justin Milhouse, “Detroit Bike Culture“; notes-for-snowfall-photo-essays.docx; screenshot
Hand out Multimedia Storytelling Assignment

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Week Nine: Co-Creation, Extractive Storytelling, and Interviewing

Assignment for Monday, 10/24
In week nine we are going to consider ethical storytelling practices. We’re going to start this by learning about co-creation, a practice by which subjects and storytellers work together to tell a story.

I’d like you to watch the first 30:08 of The Art of Co-Creation: A Storytelling Model for Impact and Engagement, which is a 2018 panel discussion hosted by the Skoll Foundation and moderated by Tabitha Jackson, director of the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute. That segment includes a wonderful discussion among Tabitha Jackson and Katerina Cizek, Artistic Director, MIT Co-Creation Studio, MIT, and Fred Dust, Partner and Global Managing Director, IDEO LLC. While watching I’d like you to keep in mind the Start Talking SJU! stories you just watched.

This is the first week for optional reading responses. You are responsible for completing 2 optional reading responses. If you choose to complete Reading Response 6, please consider the following prompt:

At 5:08 in the The Art of Co-Creation, Tabitha Jackson says, “At the Sundance Institute we believe in story, we believe in storytelling, storytellers most importantly; and the importance of the independent voice in culture. We know that storytelling is a transmission system for values. That it is the most effective delivery system for an idea.  And so so the phrase ‘the power of story’ which is being used and commodified and its meaning has been lost to some extent—the phrase is correct but the power isn’t necessarily a benevolent one depending on how you exercise it.”

In your response, I’d like you to consider just how a story can be a “transmission system for values,” what those values might be, and if you can think of any stories that you know, have seen, read about, or heard that do transmit values of some kind.

When it is online (I’ll email you and let you know), I’d like you to read the Multimedia Story Assignment and come to class with 3 questions you have about it.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please let me know.

M 10/24: selections from The Art of Co-Creation video; Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Group 4, Group 5
Reading Response 6 Due (optional)

Assignment for Wednesday, 10/26
For Wednesday, we’re going to build on co-creation by considering one of the negative effects of not co-creating–extractive storytelling. Then, we’re going to watch a video by a great community-focused documentary photographer, Ruddy Roye, and then read an interview with the late Studs Terkel, one of the foremost oral historians ever, about how certain interview techniques allow for storytelling. So, bringing lots of ideas together.

So, please read, Darya Marchenkova’s, “Extractive vs. healthy storytelling: an interview with Jade Begay of Indigenous Rising Media,” watch  Time magazine’s 3:20 spotlight video on Roye, and read Terkel’s “Interviewing the Interviewer” (linked from the Readings and Texts page).

Please come to class ready to discuss how what you’ve read and watched can enhance our understanding of co-creation, ethical engagement, and storytelling techniques.

I’d also like you to find time to meet with your Multimedia Story Assignment group to start brainstorming ideas for a focus of your project.

W 10/26: Marchenkova on extractive storytelling; Ruddy Roye Video on engaging people; Studs Terkel on interviewing

Assignment for Friday, 10/28
There is no reading work for Friday.

Instead, your group will need to narrow down to THREE the list of what SJU-affiliated possible partner you are going to approach to see if they would be willing to work with you. Once you have done that, each member of your group will need to compose a proposal that takes the form of Blog Post 3. You can see the requirements in the Design Blog Assignment Prompts section.

In class on Friday will continue our discussion of storytelling ethics, in particular the (re)presentation of individuals in published photographs.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

F 10/28: Louis Agassiz, “Renty” (1850); Dorothea Lange, “Migrant Mother” (1936); Jacqueline, “Gadi at the Market” (2001); Frédéric Brenner, “Citizens Protesting Anti-Semitic Acts Billings, Montana“(1994); Greg Pembroke, “Charlie” (2013)
Design Blog Post 3 Due: Multimedia Story Proposal Due 

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Week Ten: Photography, Representation, and Affordances

Assignment for Monday, 10/31
The reading for Monday is going to challenge us to consider the ethics of the selection and (re)presentation of bodies in published photographs. In that way, it is going to build on the conversations we started in class on Monday. The online essay is long and involved. Though it is certainly not the most academic we have read this semester, it may well be the most involved. I recognize that the timing is unfortunate what with the Halloween weekend upon us. However, it is a significant reading and we must get to it.

Please read “Gordon Parks and ‘Harlem Gang Leader,’” which details Gordon Parks’ photographic approach to documenting the life of Leonard “Red” Jackson and the way that Life magazine chose to present that life. Gordon Parks, a Black man born in 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas, is widely considered to be one of the greatest American photographers. I encourage you to spend some time on his web site, learning about him, his commitment to social justice, and his work. (Life magazine, published from 1883-2000 was at it’s height considered by most to be the premiere photographic popular magazine in the country.)

I’d like you to read and bring to class a fully annotated version of the essay. I’d like you to compose 3 questions you have about the ideas presented in the essay. I’d also like you use the ideas presented in the essay to try to answer these questions:

Thinking about what we have discussed about co-creating and non-extractive storytelling, what is the difference between Parks’ engagement with “Red” Jackson and the magazine’s presentation of the images Parks made? Where are the ethical lines? Considering what you have learned about the story behind the photographs you were assigned in class on Friday, was the photographer acting ethically when presenting the body or bodies in the photograph? Was that photographer co-creating, extracting, or doing something else entirely?

If you choose to complete Reading Response 7, please address the above indented prompt in your response.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

M 10/31: Gordon Parks and ‘Harlem Gang Leader’“; Continue discussion of photos from 10/28
Reading Response 7 Due (optional)

Assignment for Wednesday, 11/2
There is no assignment for Wednesday, but if you are behind on any of your work, please use this time to complete it.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

W 11/2: WordPress themes

Assignment for Friday, 11/4
The work for Friday is going to introduce to two concepts that you’ll come back to time and again in the major: affordances and constraints. Affordances are characteristics of technologies that allow certain actions to take place. Constraints are characteristics of technologies that inhibit certain actions to take place. Affordances and constraints can be built into technologies deliberately or accidentally. These concepts exist within a framework that considers technologies to be social artifacts.

Jenny L. Davis, author of How Artifacts Afford: The Power and Politics of Everyday Things, writes:

Technologies are intrinsically social. They reflect human values and affect human behavior. The social dynamics of technology materialize through design features that shape how a technology functions and to what effect. The shaping effects of technology are represented in scholarly fields by the concept of “affordances.”

Affordances are the ways design features enable and constrain user engagement and social action. This has been a central construct for designers and technology theorists since foundational statements on the topic from JJ Gibson and Don Norman in the 1970s and 80s. With the rise of digitization and widespread automation, “affordance” has entered common parlance and resurged within academic discourse and debate.

To help explain these ideas further, I’d like you to watch a 5 minute video in which Davis introduces these ideas in more depth. (Interestingly enough, the web site constrains—that is, does not afford—the ability to embed the video and forces the user to turn on the volume.)

To further look into the nuances of the social implications of the constraints and affordances of a technology, and to consider a real-world example, I’d like you to read a 99% Invisible article called, Shirley Cards. Please watch the videos embedded in the article, as well. Shirley Cards were created by Kodak so photo lab technicians could calibrate their photo printers. Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, let’s see what happens when the social technology of a camera, people take photos, and photos get printed. (You can also listen to the podcast that the story is based on, but you will need to read the article and watch the videos.)

Please come to class prepared to discuss the video and article. (We may even revisit Bolter on remediation, so have that in mind, too.) I’d also like you to bring with you a list of the 3 most important individual technologies in your life, noting:

  • how each is social
  • 3 activities that each affords
  • 3 activities that each constrains

And as I mentioned in class, please come to class with a new WordPress theme selected and a link to the documentation for it.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

F 11/4: Davis (2022) on Technology Affordances; Kodak Shirley cards; Mobile Kits?

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Week Eleven: Themes, Jottings, and Gear Media Circulation and Memes

Assignment for Monday, 11/7
Please work on implementing your new WordPress theme.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

M 11/7: WordPress themes and project planning
Reading Response 8 Due (optional)

Assignment for Wednesday, 11/9
On Wednesday we are going to talk about taking notes in the field so you are prepared to compose the alphabetic text portion of your story with as much detail as possible. To prepare for that, please read Emerson, Fritz, and Shaw (2011) from the second edition their influential book, Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (see the Readings and Texts page). This is an academic reading, but the suggestions are so good and have worked incredibly well in the past when other students have completed similar projects.

Please come to class with the pages annotated and several questions you have about it.

I’d also like you to have in front of you a list that summaries the 5 procedures Emerson, Fritz, and Shaw have found “to be helpful in advising students how initially to look in order to write” (p. 24), as well as a list that summaries their 6 “recommendations that are helpful for making jottings useful for producing vivid, evocatively descriptive fieldnotes” (p. 31).

If you would like to complete Reading Response 8, please write about the settings you might find yourself in when completing your research for your story and the kinds of things you anticipate you might need to jot down. Please be as specific as possible and reference Emerson, Fritz, and Shaw’s recommendations in your discussion.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

W 11/9: Emerson, Fritz, and Shaw on jottings (taking notes in the field); notes-for-jottings.pdf
Design Blog Post 4 Due: Gear
Reading Response 8 Due (optional)

F 11/11:Multimedia Story Check-In: Audio and Video
Reading Response 9 Due (optional)

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Week Twelve: Remix, Copyright, and Research Ethics Disinformation and Online Hate

Assignment for Monday, 11/14
This week we are going to start considering how information and media circulates. We’re going to start with the idea of remix — that is how content creators “copy, transform and combine existing materials to produce something new” — by watching the most updated version of Kirby Ferguson’s influential series, Everything’s a Remix, which premiered from 2010 – 2012. We’ll be watching parts 1, 2, and 3, which were released in 2021 and 2022 (running about an hour total, but it goes very fast).

I’d like you to come to class with a list of 5 themes that you see running through the videos, and for each: include how Ferguson is defining or discussing that theme and a few timestamps where the theme appears throughout. I’d also like you to think about how Ferguson is challenging traditional ideas on creativity and media creation.

Last week skipped over Optional Reading Responses 8 and 9. So, if you’d like to complete Reading Response 10, I’d like you to discuss how Ferguson challenges traditional ideas on creativity and media creation, and possible implications for how you might consider creating content in the future. Don’t forget to complete both the Response and the Reflection.

Remember, everyone needs to complete 2 optional reading responses in addition to the required 5, so if you have yet to start on the Optional Responses, this is a good one to get you started.

M 11/14: Everything’s a Remix, Parts 1 – 3
Reading Response 10 Due (optional)

Assignment for Wednesday, 11/16
We will be meet in Bronstein Hall on Wednesday to practice with the gear and so some sample interviewing.

For Friday by 11:00pm, please complete Blog Post 4, which will be on the subject of moving from your jottings to a scene/story. See the prompt in Design Blog Assignment Prompts section. This post will be the first using the Blocks Editor, so please leave additional time to complete it. I’ve included a tutorial in the prompt.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

W 11/16: More gear and interview work; meet in Bronstein; sample-interview-f22.pdf

Assignment for Friday, 11/18
For Friday we’re going to consider a vital concept for media creators: copyright. I know, truly exciting. But, copyright, along with the associated concepts of fair use and creative commons, are going to be ones you spend considerable time working with, within, and around throughout your time in the major (and, if you pursue a career in media, in your future, as well).

Please watch the following videos, in full and in order.

As you prepare for class, I’d like you to consider how we are to understand the applicability of current copyright laws with contemporary practices of using media as described in Everything’s a Remix. That is, how does our remix culture challenge conceptions of copyright, ownership, and media usage?

Please have your notes and ideas written down on paper so you don’t need to have your computers or phones open in class.

If you choose to complete Reading Response 11, address those questions in your response.

F 11/18: Copyright and Fair Use
Reading Response 11 Due (optional)
Design Blog Post 4 Due: From Jottings to Scenes

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Week Thirteen: Multimedia Drafts

M 11/21: work on multimedia story
Multimedia Story Photos and Video or Audio Alphabetic Text Draft due
W 11/23: Class Canceled — Thanksgiving

F 11/25: Class Canceled — Thanksgiving

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Week Fourteen: Multimedia Story Work

M 11/28: set up subdomain; creating the story page
W 11/30: work on multimedia story
F 12/2: break down multimedia story; jottings connections; Lambert connections; openings with Danielle’s story and Snow Fall; notes-for-snowfall-photo-essays.docx; notes-for-jottings.pdf
Design Blog Post 5 Due: Layout Sketches
Multimedia Story Alphabetic Text Drafts Due

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Week Fifteen: Multimedia Story Drafts and Conferences

M 12/5: Class Canceled for Conferences
Complete Multimedia Story Draft #1 (including photos and video) due before conference
W 12/7: Class Canceled for Conferences

F 12/9: Last class of the semester; work on multimedia story layouts
Complete Multimedia Story Draft #2 due

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Week Sixteen:

12/14: Final Multimedia Story and Reflection Due by 11:00pm
12/14: Final WordPress Portfolio Site Due by 11:00pm
12/15: Final Self-Assessment Due by 11:00pm

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