Social Media Reflection

Facebook’s relevance as a cornerstone social networking app is quickly fading. Facebook is a great example of a permanent public presence online, akin to LinkedIn or Instagram. However, I believe that new social networking apps like Snapchat and Yik Yak, which utilize self-destructing and anonymous messages, respectively, have higher relevance today than Facebook, at least among students my age. People have become less willing to drag around an online persona with them wherever they go. The beauty of Snapchat lies partially within the fact that users don’t have to think too hard about sharing something. Sharing a post on Facebook implies that the content is there forever, or until it is manually deleted by the poster (who wants to have that burden hanging over their heads?) Snapchat ensures that the content shared through its app doesn’t stick around for too long. Personally, I find that Facebook is mainly effective only as a photo-sharing platform. It’s easy to tag people in posts and share experiences with other people. However, status updates and messages sent over the platform are just becoming less and less relevant for me. Most of the time, all my communication needs can be solved with iMessage and GroupMe. Snapchat and Instagram fill a void for instant photo sharing that Facebook doesn’t. Instagram is like the skinnier, more attractive cousin of Facebook. If you think about the amount of effort people go through to select, edit, and place filters on their photos, Instagram is the best of the best. It’s a modified, enhanced (some might call it fake) representation of the select moments that people want to share. Like most other people, I use Instagram and Facebook to share my happiest moments, and leave out a lot of the other “noise” in my life. However, I wouldn’t say that my Facebook or my Instagram encapsulates all of the happiness in my life. It’s merely a snapshot of the most portable and photo-documented experiences in my life, and it is merely scratching the surface on the things in my life that really matter to me.

The strangest part of this assignment was self-stalking my Facebook profile and worrying that one of my friends would stop by and notice what I was doing on the 1st floor of Berry. That would have been an awkward conversation!

I think that using social networking websites has helped me understand what types of content get people riled up and motivated. We spoke about the three main components of what makes a story go viral – that is an appeal to ones ethics, emotion, or logic. Some of those are tenets are really easy to see on viral Twitter or Facebook posts.

The way I communicate on social media has changed the way I communicate in real life with others. The key difference is that I can be aware of information about their lives before they tell me personally. For instance, if my friend posts on Facebook about what she did last summer, and then she brings it up to me in person for the first time, I have to essentially pretend to be surprised. Everybody does it, and it’s a strange gap that we have to bridge between the online and offline worlds. Nobody wants to be a Facebook stalker.

I have definitely made some deliberate choices in crafting my online persona. My modus operandi is to not post anything that I wouldn’t want my family or my future employers seeing. I have nothing to hide at all, and I think that is the right way to go. My online persona is somewhat generic by default, but that is because I’m a complex person and I don’t try to put all of myself out there online. I want to get to know people personally, in real life!

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My current Facebook profile photo (non-cropped version)

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Habitat for Humanity – Spring Break 2015 (one of many photos from this trip on my Facebook)

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I would be remiss if I didn’t include my cover photo as well, of the entire Dartmouth team on that Habitat for Humanity Trip. In my essay I explain this in greater detail!

“The American Promise” Remediation

Remediation made me rethink our audience in a few ways. Lyndon B. Johnson’s original speech was profound and inspiring, but was clearly targeting a different audience than ours. Lyndon B. Johnson was addressing Congress in his speech, “The American Promise” while our remediation is more directed towards the everyday American. A significant part of Johnson’s speech was a call to action to end the voting discrimination against African Americans. He presents a clear problem and a strategy for solving it. Our remediation however, is not suggesting that Black Americans lack voting rights, but that Black Americans are deprived of basic equality in this country to this day.

Something that made our presentation special was the use of the “We shall overcome” theme that Johnson utilized in “The American Promise.” President Obama also called upon those words when giving his remarks at the 50 Anniversary of the March at Selma. This theme is apparent also in the introduction of our film, as we start it with the “We Shall Overcome” song. We also highlight the importance of equality being a national problem. Johnson says:

 

“Now let none of us in any sections look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section, or on the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as in Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.”

 

Johnson’s words are so powerful because he elucidates the idea that inequality in one town is not only that town’s problem. He continues on, stating:

 

“This is one Nation. What happens in Selma or in Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities, and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists.”

 

Johnson reminds us that this is a national problem. And it can only be solved with the cooperation of all people. Likewise, we seek to inspire the same message in our project. There will never be true equality in this country if equality is only something that’s advocated by a few good citizens, or by a few righteous governors. It’s more than that. In other words, we need a deep-rooted solution to a deep-rooted problem.

The affordances of digital media affected our entire project. Instead of recognizing the wisdom of Lyndon B. Johnson directly, we draw upon his words selectively. In most cases, the people speaking in our project aren’t quoting his words directly but are reading an adaption that we have put together. We’ve modernized the parts that we have drawn upon, for instance, replacing the word “Negros” with “Black Americans.” But our remediation is more than that. And our speakers assert the issues of inequality in America today, as opposed to 50 years ago. But there are similarities that are clearly visible.  (e.g. “It’s a national problem”)

Our project contains interview clips carefully interspersed to put a face on the victims of discrimination. People can better relate to the issue of equality if they can sympathize with people who are harmed by it. Our project was limited by the number of these interview clips that we could include, because there were many more available that we wanted to include but couldn’t because of the two-minute limit.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5KvW3lHgpo\

See References:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8fIGMTqnunoYXBpVXFzaXF2ZjQ/view?usp=sharing

Mapping Dartmouth Faculty Parking

2013-09-13-ParkingWhen thinking about the mapping assignment, I knew I wanted to focus on parking at Dartmouth. However, I had no idea just how substantial the undertaking was. The project was complex for two main reasons, the first being that Dartmouth has an absolutely insane amount of parking. There are approximately twenty-seven lots and curbside parking areas reserved for Dartmouth faculty and staff. The second surprise with this project was that there is no parking map available on Dartmouth’s parking website. Although parking lots show up on Dartmouth’s normal campus map, I find it quite surprising that there’s not a dedicated map to quickly and easily view all of the lots on campus. Therefore, my map really fills a void, which is neat!

While I had a number of options for the map’s target audience, including students, faculty, the public etc., I chose to focus on the faculty because they’re the largest demographic, and they easily have the hardest time finding parking. This map should help them find convenient parking by revealing to them previously unknown options available to them. A secondary goal of this map is to convey an argument that Dartmouth relies too heavily on personal automobiles. We could certainly put the land taken up by parking lots to better use, if more people took alternative transportation, like carpools, bicycling, or Advance transit. Starting on a faculty member’s first day on the job, he or she will quickly realize how much a hassle it is to park on campus. Think about all the cumulative time and gas wasted searching for the elusive parking spot. We could be doing better.

I produced the map by referencing the campus map available here: https://dartmouth.edu/sites/default/files/dartmouth_campus_map_11x17.pdf. The sizes of the parking lots are slightly exaggerated, which allows for easier viewing, and supports my argument that parking can be re-envisioned at Dartmouth. Green lots represent the most desirable lots (that also fill up the quickest) because they are in such close proximity to the college’s main facilities. The orange lots are less desirable, but are closer than other lots. Finally, the red lots are easiest to find parking in, but are substantially farther away than others. Additionally, the red lots are available to the faculty free of charge, while the green and orange lots are available at a monthly fee.

My map was inspired by the readings that we did. Namely, my map is similar to the Mercator projection in that it is not a 100% accurate representation of reality. My map is making an argument and filling a specific purpose, so some creative liberties are acceptable and don’t detract from the function of the map. In fact, the enlarged sizes of the parking lots make it easier for viewers to comprehend the map. Additionally, the physical maps that we looked at in class inspired another important element of my map – the arrows indicating the direction of the parking on certain roads. This is important for drivers to keep in mind, because they can be fined or towed for parking their cars on the wrong side of the street, or for parking their cars on the correct side facing the wrong direction. The arrows on the maps in class were used more often to convey topography and hills. In conclusion, my map of Dartmouth’s faculty parking spots is a helpful and needed resource that also sends an important message about reducing our dependence on personal automobile transportation.

See my map in PDF form here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8fIGMTqnunoNDhFekZLa0h5ams/view?usp=sharing

Podcast – Spring at Dartmouth

I might have taken a different approach to the topic than other people. At first, the topic of Spring made me think of flowers, and warm weather, and students studying on the beautiful Green. But I soon realized that there was a more relevant and pressing topic to discuss – namely, the mission to improve Dartmouth. It’s clear that Dartmouth is at a defining moment in its history as a school. As history has taught us, the character of great men and women isn’t determined solely by their successes, but rather, their responses to great challenges. I want Dartmouth to be known as one that faced its problems head-on.

In creating my podcast, I drew on several rhetorical strategies. Repetition and exemplification are present throughout my podcast. Although the theme is complex and multi-dimensional, I feel like it’s really tied together well. I paid great attention to making sure that the transitions between segments of the podcast made sense, and that the structure of it flows well. I juxtaposition ideas that are clearly different from each other but have a uniting theme – I present obstacles that are preventing Dartmouth from reaching it’s highest potential. To be the best that we can be as a school and as a community of individuals, we need to act on these issues now.

How did silence or other audio effects function in my program? There aren’t really any gaps in the podcast as a result of it’s design. My podcast has a pretty quick pace to it – this is on purpose. The intensity and speed with which the podcast moves can be compared to life at Dartmouth – it’s fast and there are no breaks! The music at the beginning of the podcast (from the Dartmouth “Happy” Music Video produced by Jake Gaba ’16 and Yesuto Shaw ’15) serves to suggest that Spring is a cheerful time at Dartmouth, even despite our focus on Moving Dartmouth Forward, and tackling serious issues including high-risk drinking.

The pace and tone of my podcast suggests that it’s trying to convey a point and get a clear message across. The podcast is busy, multi-dimensional, and perhaps a lot to digest the first time around. Composing a piece that is heard has a few more quirks than composing a piece to be read. Some of the challenges I dealt with were technical ones, like problems with download MP3 audio off of videos, and even computer crashes (My Mac usually never lets me down!) Also, composing a piece that’s going to be heard needs to be removed of every technical slowdown (like a hiccup or sneeze or cough or interruption in the audio stream). Furthermore, people expect to be able to concoct their own visual depictions of the scenes they listen to. I listened to it several times to try to produce my own images of the podcast, and I was pleased with the images it brought to mind. I’m proud to present the final product below.

Arguing with Images

Click here to see my presentation

Our sessions in the Jones Media Lab got me excited about using images from the Dartmouth Flickr gallery in my project. Eli Burak ’00, is Dartmouth’s fourth college photographer and he’s credited with the many of the photos on the Flickr gallery. (A short background on Burak is available here: http://now.dartmouth.edu/2011/11/meet-the-new-dartmouth-college-photographer-eli-burak-00/) The photos he takes are tremendous works of art in and of themselves. One of the most impressive aspects of the gallery is that every photo is special. Every one has a purpose and a meaning to it. There’s a story that’s told in every photo you see online under the official Dartmouth gallery. Together, the photos represent an extremely active and talented study body. I believe that these photos exemplify the diversity of Dartmouth.

One of the greatest strengths of this school is the success that students achieve deep in their specialty field, whatever it may be. This was the foundation for much of my argument. Dartmouth is a diverse place because of the variety of talents and strengths people bring and contribute to this school. I knew early on that I would argue in favor of Dartmouth being a diverse place. And I think my argument developed well in the classroom time and fully matured when I worked on it on my own this weekend. Blair’s “The Rhetoric of Visual Arguments” informed my argument to the extent that my visual argument is not a proposition or a definitive stance. The limited text statements that I make add clarity to the definition of my argument.

Another plus of the Dartmouth Flickr gallery is that it leaves you wanting more. Typically only a few photos are posted each day. If the photos are from an event like a football game, there might be a maximum of six or seven photos. In this sense, the Flickr gallery works a little bit like a movie trailer – you see a glimpse of some of the most exciting parts of Dartmouth, but you know you are not getting the whole story. It certainly makes you want to experience Dartmouth firsthand. In my presentation, I was extremely careful not to overdo it with too many photos. It would be all too easy to make montage after montage and use as many photos in my argument that fit. But that is not always the most effective strategy. Only two of my slides contain more than one photo, and in those slides, each photo was carefully selected. In my one-photo slides, I paid particular attention to the message that the photo was sending. For instance, in the “something in common” slide, the students in the photograph all have their arms around each other’s shoulders.

PowerPoint was absolutely a tough constraint to work with – especially when we are limited to using only five slides. But as we learned from the TED talk, less is actually more in the world of PowerPoint. People have short attention spans, and they need to be reminded of the most important elements. In a good essay, the writer tells the readers what he’s going to tell them, then he actually tells them, and finally, he tells them what he told them. The repetitive use of the verb tell is meant to drive the point home that humans are imperfect creatures that forget and lose focus. My PowerPoint eased the viewer in with an introduction and opening statement. From the first slide, the reader knows my position and is ready to move on and see the argument take shape.

A Day in the Life

I produced a short film for the working with images assignment of the course. The video below represents a compilation of photos shot over three days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday). It was a fun and engaging project to work on! I’ve been a photographer for a long time, so it was fun to have an excuse to take photos 🙂

In making the film, I paid a great amount of attention to ensuring that the film told a story. I learned from my Dad, one of the best self-taught photographers I know, that photos can tell a very powerful story, and you often don’t realize just how moving that photos can be until long after the moment has passed. And the most important takeaway from my Dad about photography is to take lots of photos – because you need to take a HUGE amount of photos to get just a few gems. The order of the photos in my film is chronological, starting from morning events and concluding with late-night/early-morning studying. I ease the viewer into the scene with photos that provide background information, like the first photo with the “Dartmouth Ventures” Ad and my nametag from the event. And when I transition to the fraternity acapella show, I insert a photo of the “XRE” letters before photos from the show.

My two favorite subjects to take photos of are people and nature. So a great majority of my photos have people as their subjects. I didn’t do as much exploring in nature this week (but definitely this summer). Memorable about these photos are the ones with people smiling in them, especially the ones at the acapella show. I had the good fortune to snap a few shots right after someone in the back row of the audience cheered loudly and a bunch of students turned around to see who it was, many of them smiling.

What’s it missing? As a photographer, I do have a nice Canon 60D, but I don’t lug that around as much as I should. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you, and in this case, my iPhone was the one I had with me! It takes fine pictures, but the indoor lighting in the acapella show would have shown up much better on the Canon, as I could have adjusted the ISO and compensated for the low-light. I also end up taking more pictures with the Canon because it has instantaneous response time, and holds way more photos than my iPhone.

-KKN