October 22, 2006
I am almost sufficiently recovered to blog about the continued events I have been involved in over the special 12 day NMC Symposium on The Impact of Digital Media.
Slatenight hosted a four hour series of events which, despite a few technical hitches, went really well. I am so pleased with how it all turned out!!
I started off the events by speaking about The Avatar as Communication. You can listen to the podcast version here.
Following my talk was a special kind of fashion show, where people were invited to showcase their unique identities and discuss their decisions and reasons behind constructing the avatar that they did. The podcast of this event is here.
Following this, Christy Dena spoke about Imaging Space, podcast here.
We had a panel discussion with some live musicians in SL who spoke about the SL live music scene. Ironically, there were some technical hitches with the audio so the podcast is brief but here.
Then we were entertained by the musicians with some live music from each in turn:
and you can hear the music they played on the podcast here.
Next up was the incredible Dell Wilberg, who’s talk was entitled Future Perfect: Towards a Better Second Life. Using knowledge of trends in technology over the past several decades, Dell offered us an insight into what we might expect in our immediate future.
Very exciting indeed! Podcast here.
Finally we heard from Danielle Mirliss and Heidi Trotta who spoke about their work with Undergraduate students in Second Life: Engaging the Disengaged. It was fascinating to hear their experiences and to compare their thoughts with my own experiences with post-grads. The podcast is here.
And finally, at 4am, I gave a few brief closing remarks (podcast here).
In my closing remarks I mentioned that Christy was being interviewed in just a few hours time by the ABC media in Australia about Second Life, and here is the podcast for that (go Christy!!!).
The NMC blogging and recording of the four hour event was fantastic and my thanks go to Larry Pixel and CDB Barkley for inviting us to be a part of this very significant symposium. it was an honour and a thrill to be invited.
85 more photographs here, thanks also to Gary Hazlitt and NMC for many of the photographs in this set.
September 21, 2006
September 5, 2006
These are hilarious - little machinima with grammatical rules driving their plots
August 24, 2006
I couldn’t resist - in the regular University bulletin today came the following notice about some latest lingusitics research from the UK (what do you guys do over there??)
Cows ‘moo with a regional accent’
Cows moo with a regional accent, according to their farmers. Dairy farmers in Somerset noticed a local twang to the sounds made by their animals, and experts confirmed that different herds made different sounds. John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University of London,
said: “This phenomena is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. “This could also be true of cows. In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group.” Dr Jeanine Treffers-Daller, reader in linguistics at the University of the West of England in Bristol, said the accent may be learned from relatives.
(Apologies to anybody offended by the “b” word in the comic)
June 30, 2006
Yay!!!! The special edition of E-Learning that I edited is now published and available (free!!). Here are the details and contents:
E-LEARNING (ISSN 1741-8887)
Volume 3, Number 2, 2006
Guest Editor: ANGELA THOMAS
Editorial, pages 124-125
ANGELA THOMAS. ‘MSN was the Next Big Thing after Beanie Babies’: children’s virtual experiences as an interface to their identities and their
everyday lives, pages 126-142
SALLY HUMPHREY. ‘Getting the Reader On Side’: exploring adolescent onlinepolitical discourse, pages 143-157
BARBARA J. GUZZETTI. Cybergirls: negotiating social identities oncybersites, pages 158-169
REBECCA W. BLACK. Language, Culture and Identity in Online Fanfiction, pages 170-184
KEVIN LEANDER & AMY FRANK. The Aesthetic Production and Distribution of Image/Subjects among Online Youth, pages 185-206
LALITHA VASUDEVAN. Making Known Differently: engaging visual modalities as spaces to author new selves, pages 207-216
JULIA DAVIES. Affinities and Beyond! Developing Ways of Seeing in Online Spaces, pages 217-234
GUY MERCHANT. Identity, Social Networks and Online Communication, pages 235-244
JONATHAN PAUL MARSHALL. Categories, Gender and Online Community, pages 245-262
BOOK REVIEW E-Literature for Children: enhancing digital literacy learning (Len Unsworth), reviewed by Angela Thomas, pages 263-264
For all editorial matters, including articles offered for publication, please contact Professor Michael A. Peters (email@example.com).
June 28, 2006
In my quest to become an “insider” (an active citizen of SL and not just an outside commentator) I have become immersed in the wonderful world of machinima. As some of you will soon find out, I am presenting a keynote paper at the Australian Systemic Functional Linguistics conference on the semiotics of machinima called: The Machinima Explosion and its Transforming Potential for Innovation in Literacy Education with Frontier Technologies. So to understand it best, I am involved in shooting several machinimas (machinima, for those uncertain of the term, simply comes from the combination of the words “machine” and “cinema” and refers to 3D animated movies made with gaming technologies).
I have been working on this particular machinima with Kronos (the director) and Dell (the leading man) and above is a shot of us shooting at the set. Kronos teaches at a film and acting school in NY so has years of “real world” experience. Working with him has been a dream because I have learnt so much about the language and practice of filmmaking from all angles. (I could now tell you about way points, cycloramas, and infinity corners, for example!) I have also learnt a lot of neat tricks in SL about how to control the gaze and head movements of my avatar and so on.
So a few weeks ago, Kronos wrote a script - it is a short comedy called “Lip Flap”. We then started building the set. Well, Kronos built it, and I dressed and designed most of it. The action all takes place in a bedroom, though there might be some flashback sequences, depending on time constraints I believe. So I spent quite a lot of time hunting all over Second Life for some gorgeous bedroom furniture, right down to tiny details like tote bags, makeup boxes, jewelry boxes, hairbrushes, books and so on to place about on the furniture. Since some of my costumes were from Nonna Hedges, I also did a little subtle product placement with this gorgeous box from her store.
Then Kronos sent Dell and I a list of information we would need to know before the shoot. This included telling us that we had to keep idle chatter to a minimum (*grin*), and telling us that when the camera was rolling, he wouldn’t see our chat etc.. lots of technical stuff! He also sent us a shot sequence so we would know what order we would be doing things. (Kronos is extremely organised, so professional!).
The script involves me doing 8 costume changes. My costumes had to reflect variety and difference, so I spent a LONG time going through my hundreds of outfits to finally select my top 10 favourites. I made pre-shoot photos of each costume and sent the photos to Kronos for inspection, and he selected the 8 he thought would work best for the shoot. We ended up selecting clothing from: Nonna Hedges, Pixel Dolls, Rebel Hope, Simone, Luxe and Chaospire. The shoot starts out with me in my favourite Nonna Hedges outfit, and finishes with me in my favourite Luxe costume (this gothic gypsy one). Here’s the Chaospire gothic fairy costume that comes half way through:
So I pre-prepared the full costumes into folders so that I could drag and drop and do instant costume changes! While doing this preparation I finally realised (after 6 months of being in Second Life!!!) that I could make copies of my skin, hair, and manicure to add to each individual folder, to enable a complete avatar change in one move! The only difficulty I had was with my eyelashes, which were non-copyable, so I had to manually attach them every single costume change *groan* I also had key lights - like a spotlight - attached to my torso so that I would be adequately lit at all times, and these lights were also inside each invidual folder. In addition, Kronos had made folders for Dell and I with all of the animations we would need during the shoot. The preparation time actually took more time than the shoot itself!
So last night we began shooting. It was actually a kind of boring process when the cameras were rolling, but after each sequence of takes Kronos would go check the rushes to see if he’d got what he needed, and during those times Dell and I chatted and played games and amused ourselves with general silliness. We’re wrapping up shooting over next weekend, then Kronos will do the editing, and he and Linda (his wife) will be doing the voice overs and foley FX.
It’s a wonderful process to be involved in, and I have learnt an awful lot as I said. I could do this sort of thing all day long, its so stimulating. But alas, I must go back to marking 80 assignments on verbs and nouns :/
(PS: If you are one of my undergraduate students, never fear, I like your assignments, you did great work, but marking them is a tedious process!)
June 5, 2006
Yay!! I now have the complete set of gorgeous jewels, thanks not, I am afraid, to my own skills at deciphering clues, but to the skills of my now very favourite person because he is so clever and he found them when I couldn’t - Dell!!
here is my navel ring:
Here’s an earring and one view of my necklace:
here is a better view of the necklace:
and here’s me wearing everything in the set:
That was a very difficult quest but luckily I have the right contacts to help and voila! Gorgeous jewels are mine!!!! What fun. I do think there’s a lot to think about in terms of storying and gaming and the hybridity of the two in quests like this. By the end of this particular quest the story had little value or impact, and the game became more significant. I am wondering whether anybody has done a study of the schematic structures of game-narratives?
Anyway, huge thanks to the creator of this quest, Random, and to my riddle-solving questing companion, Dell!
June 3, 2006
Yesterday I attended a brilliant linguistics workshop on heteroglossia (presented by Sally Humphrey and Dorothy Economou). I can’t believe how much I learnt! We spent a couple of hours immersed in the analysis of texts and discussing system networks (all very technical) but the most interesting thing that happened was a conversation I had with Sally when we were working in small groups. I confessed to her that this is one aspect of the interpersonal metafunction that I wasn’t as clued in to as I thought I should be!! Sally told me that the reason is that because I am a narrative junkie I don’t come across realisations of heterogloss in the texts I research and teach with (it is realised much more evidently in persuasive genres).
I’ve been thinking about that remark ever since and wondering whether in fact new forms of narrative have much more explicit realisations of heterogloss - particularly the distributed narratives (or as Christy calls them “polymorphic narratives“). When we get narratives that are distributed across different voices, different spaces, different times, and which are comprised of multiple micro-genres, I am thinking that the current linguitic system to describe heterogloss just doesnt stand up to account for this. At the very least, I think there’d be a PhD in finding this out! I am loving this linguistics and semiotics seminar series - it really pushes me into new ways of thinking and imagining.
May 27, 2006
Yesterday I went to a fabulous research seminar by Betty Pun - the title of her presentation was:
Intersemiosis in Film: A metafunctional and multimodal exploration of colour and sound in the films of Wong Kar-wai.
I was so inspired by this presentation and loved working through the analysis of various film clips to uncover how the film maker underscored significant narrative moments using the interactions of various semiotic resources. I haven’t ever seen any of Wong Kar Wai’s films before but now I am going to borrow a whole heap of them from a friend to watch, as the techniques he uses are truly pushing and extending beyond audience expectations from the standard Hollywood fare. I love seeing innovative thinkers and creators of all art forms, but film is so rich with possibilities in terms of the semiotic resources it deploys.
I am deep in multimodal analysis of some films right now myself (getting ready for this conference presentation) and Betty’s talk crystallised a lot of issues I’d been thinking through and reading about in my preparations so it was incredibly fortuitous timing.
May 1, 2006
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I am preparing for my lecture next week on the Textual metafunction and it suddenly occurred to me: are my lectures overly feminine? I love using metaphorical images to push my students into thinking about things (and they report that the images stick with them and help them to remember things, like the gigantic volume knob I used when talking about graduation). But what do you think? Will the males (and females too for that matter) in the lecture theatre gag when they see this pretty picture of some weaving? I can use it to talk about lexical cohesion, repetition, collocation, synonyms, antonyms, patterns in text types, layering of meaning…… *laughing*