Final Blog

•December 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I feel that media and technology are impacting life and industries by demanding a much keener understanding of the technologies that consume our lives. We are constantly developing new software and technology, and as a result the companies that use those programs need people that can keep them up and running. This creates an interesting situation. It is creating a world where specialization becomes more important than overall knowledge. It seems like in the old days the more broad your education, the more opportunities you would ultimately find. But now, with innovations being so specific in their technology, companies need specially trained employees who have a focus on what that company requires. I also think that with media becoming such an integrated part of our lives, we must be careful how we approach and respond to what we see and hear. There have been a lot of scandals in the news in the past year and I think it is important to step back and really see what is going on. In this blog I will discuss some of the trends that are occurring in regards to technology and media. Hopefully it will spark some debate and get everyone thinking a little more on what they believe the future holds.

First off, the media world is merging rather drastically into the mobile world. I feel like people expected this to happen, for the most part. But what exactly does this mean for our generation and those to come? According to an article in small business trends, it means that we will be interacting more and more with mobile marketing. They provide statistics and facts about mobile phone usage from the year 2000 till now. And it is really quite amazing. The one that really blew me away was how “Over 130 Billion texts are sent each month, up from practically nothing in 2000.” This statement alone makes me wonder why mobile marketing hasn’t been implemented before. I guess it all had to do with the emergence of the smart phone. These devices have created an exceptional opportunity for marketers. It gave them the  ability to connect with their users, via their phone, over the internet. It seems like a great idea, maybe a little annoying at times, but it opens up a whole new career option for people interested in that stuff.

Speaking of careers, according to an article in the new york times there is an extremely high demand for people with experience and knowledge in  digital technologies. I feel like this means that we have reached a point where education as been outrun by technology. We can no longer learn as fast as we need to in order to keep up with the exponential growth rate of these new technologies. This seems to imply that specialization in these areas will emerge as we move further into the future. I don’t think that it will lead to the decline of the traditional college experience. But I do think that more “tech” schools will emerge as a way to train people on how to build and maintain these social technologies. These skills will be invaluable with the emergence of certain new technologies such as augmented reality.

What exactly is augmented reality? According to National Geographic, “this emerging technology superimposes computer-generated images on the real world, courtesy of a cell phone camera or special video glasses.” This would create a world where the possibilities truly are limitless. We would be able to have a constant stream of information floating around us. I can just imagine walking down the street in a completely unfamiliar city, with no worry of getting lost. I feel like AR would give people more confidence to explore the world around them. That is an interesting thought because there are people out there who view “technology” as the complete opposite of “nature”. But by augmenting your reality, you are fusing the two together to enhance the experience on all levels. And talk about an opportunity for mobile marketing! You could create ads that appear in the “digital space” that are uniquely tailored to each and every individual.

It seems as though that tailored experience is also evolving in other platforms. We have gotten to the point where creators have realized that it is inefficient to essentially spam people with their message and hope that the majority of the population will respond. They are realizing that it is wasteful and that they would get a better response if they narrowed the focus to find out what the individual viewer wants to experience. It is becoming more and more apparent with television. I feel like Jeffrey Hendrix hits the nail on the head in his video about the future of tv.

The Future of TV from Jeffrey Hendrix on Vimeo.

With all of these innovations in the world of video communication it was only a matter of time before they would find a way for you to give voice commands to your devices. Microsoft has recently added a feature, via an update for your xbox, so that you can give vocal commands to your game console. You can say “Xbox, change the channel to ESPN.” and it will change the channel for you automatically. This is quite a revolutionary idea. I remember about 7 years ago, a friend of mine was fiddling around with this program on his computer. I remember him saying “computer, open mozilla firefox.” and all of a sudden his internet browser opened. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought for sure he was playing some kind of prank on me, but I was wrong. He had just downloaded Siri, a voice command program that actually learns your voice over time. Granted, this was a while back when things were still a bit “glitchy”, but they have worked out the kinks and created a technology that will revolutionize the way we interact with our digital devices. This will also create an opportunity for employment. As these technologies become more mainstream, they will need more and more people to monitor their performance and keep them up to date.

Getting back to the idea of more target oriented television programming, we are beginning to see partnerships forming among some of the media giants. One example is the collaboration of Disney.com and YouTube. They are attempting to create a stronger web presence for Disney. I feel like this is somewhat of an attempt by Disney to “ride the coat tails” of the YouTube phenomenon. It seems this way because “Disney.com’s traffic has been dropping at an alarming rate. Unique visitors totaled 12.7 million in September, down from 17.9 million in June. This is an obvious sign that interest in the site is declining, so they needed to come up with something in order to get viewers interested in the site. Their answer: create a series of animated web shorts that will be featured on YouTube, along with a series of user generated content. I don’t want to sound narcissistic, but I don’t really see this saving Disney’s web presence. I mean, it might increase viewership, but I feel like they would have had more luck building a community around their own ideas.

So with all of these new technologies, whats going on in the big picture? Well it’s the idea of cross media interactivity. It’s creating a strong presence over multiple media outlets. According to an article on about.com, the future is in media that crosses the divide between tv, to internet, to your phone and etc. I feel that the coming years will give way to an explosion of opportunities in the field of interactivity in design. This is good news for me because I have dabbled in a little bit of everything. I may not know exactly how to create a television ad, but I for sure know that I have the resources at my disposal to learn how to do that. I think that’s what it’s really all about. We have gotten to the point in our lives where we no longer have to rely on person to person communication in order to learn. If you are truly interested in something, you have the means to find information and become an expert on the subject. And with all of the developments in augmented reality and mobile technologies, it will only become easier and more efficient.  I am excited to see what the future holds. And I hope that the knowledge that I have acquired during my time at Ball State will help me get involved with all of the exciting technologies that are emerging in the world of digital media.

Industry Leaders – Design

•December 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I feel that it is extremely important to keep up to date with what is going on in the design industry. It isn’t as important as say, the tech industry but it is still helpful, none-the-less. You see, design is in some ways a personal experience because it is ultimately an expression of your feelings. It is what you are feeling on a certain day, or how you react to a situation that ignites a spark inside of you. But at the same time, design is a very external element. It is all around us. We interact with it on a daily basis. No matter how much we may think that it is just “that way”, almost everything that we come into contact with has been carefully designed to catch our eye.

I chose to follow @DesignObserver, @Centernetworks, and @Printmag. These three companies are all in the same field; design. But they are looking at it from three different perspectives. One approaches it from more of an artistic design side. They look at how design is impacting media of all different types. Another is focusing on how to connect designers and integrate works between jobs. The last focuses on design in print media. The last one is especially useful to me because I am in the print media field.

@DesignObserver is important to my field because they post about current news from a design perspective. Since I hope to be a graphic artist someday it is necessary for me to be up to date on what is new in the field. They talk about new programs that are coming out, new techniques for interesting effects, and they even provide the occasional link to things like photoshop tutorials. I would not say that they are an industry “leader” per-say. But they definitely have some really good resources for what I am looking for.

@Centernetworks is focused more on the networking side of things. They tweet about upcoming events and things that might help a person get involved in programs to improve their portfolios. They also do a lot to inform people of what’s happening in the areas other than their primary focus. This helps because in the design world you need to know a little about a lot of things. It helps to know a lot about a lot of things, but just being informed plays a huge part. For example, a designer needs to know what resolution and size they need to design a flyer if they want to get a good print from the printer’s end. Without knowing those things they would receive sub-par results. That is why cross-industry collaboration is so important.

@Printmag is focused on the printing side of the industry. This would be the industry leader that provides the most useful information to me. Being a graphic arts management major, I deal with both the design side as well as the printing side. It is critical that I don’t fall behind on what is happening on the side of press capabilities and breakthroughs in press design. Printmag focuses on that end of things. They have a lot of great tweets that provide important news regarding the industry. They also link out to other sources that provide more specific information depending on what you are looking for.

It is amazing to me that these social networks, like twitter, have exploded into such a valuable resource. At first I didn’t really understand what all of the fuss was about but now I see how great it is. It’s nice to have so much information coming from so many people. The best part about it is that you can focus your searches to find only those that relate directly to what interests you. It cuts so much time out of looking for sites that provide the information you are seeking. I’m not much of a “tweeter” so I can’t speak from that end of the spectrum but being able to read others’ tweets and get their personal opinions is quite amazing. From the design end, these three are just a few, out of thousands of resources available to me.  I will continue to follow these and more in my quest to improve my skill-set.

Alternate Viewpoints – Paper vs. Screens

•November 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A big argument in the media technology area is which reading format is better? Screens or paper? This blog will examine several aspects of both mediums and discuss some pros and cons associated with both. These areas will cover comfort, focus, technology, and readability.

Comfort

Pros:

  • Paper connects the reader to the text
  • Screens allow for more file storage/less space

Cons:

  • Both have environmental setbacks
  • Screens cannot be used in all lighting
  • Paper is frail and can be damaged easily

In the case of comfort, it is completely up to the user. I personally feel that it is more comfortable to read a printed book rather than read from a screen. But my personal opinion doesn’t decide the outcome. I have many friends that swear by the Kindle. They see more functionality in it. One argument, among many, is that it is a better means of conserving space while they are on the go. I, on the other hand, would rather read in the comfort of my own home, rather than reading in the brief time between class changes. I feel like there will always be a demand for both printed books and digital texts.

Focus

Pros:

  • Paper books allow you to focus more on the text
  • Paper is easier to see in many circumstances

Cons:

  • Screens are a digital format which reminds the reader of other digital media
  • Screens are more of a “check-and-go” media

The world has become a much more fast pace place. It seems as though “reading” in general is declining because people see it as a past-time activity. They say, “I’ll read a good book when I can find the time”. But in our ever changing world there never seems to be any “time”. The fact is that there is time. People just don’t see it because they are constantly trying to stay connected to everything happening to everyone around them. It seems that our ever changing world is creating a breed of people who cannot stay focused on a past-time activity because they are so tied into the network that they can’t just sit back and relax. When you try to read on a digital device, you are only replacing one media with another. More than likely, you are not actually focused on the words, but more on the possibility of your cell phone ringing or your laptop telling you that you have a new e-mail. However, it seems easier to escape from the technology around you if you are reading an actual, tangible book. This would allow you to really see the meaning of the text and maybe spark a little imaginative creativity.

Technology

Pros:

  • New technology should be embraced
  • Paper should not be forgotten
  • Paper is a part of our history

Cons:

  • Too much technology, too fast, can lead to distractions
  • Paper is becoming an obsolete form of media

It is hard to say whether or not books will disappear and be replaced by digital media. But technological trends in history tend to support this idea. Moor’s law states that “the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year from the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 until 1965 and predicted that the trend would continue for at least ten years.” This theory has been correct as of our current decade, and some say it will continue like this until 2015. This essentially states that current technologies will become obsolete within 1 year of the device being created. Technology changes are occurring on an exponential trend. So, in 5 years, there will more than likely be new technologies that make this whole article and obsolete argument. Books and screens will more than likely be replaced with another technology that we can’t even perceive in our current world. So basically, if you enjoy reading hard copied books. Read them. And if you enjoy reading from an E-book, do that. It’s up to each person to decide. It’s nice to have a choice though.

Readability

Pros:

  • Paper can be read in most lighting, but not the extremes
  • Screens allow for more comfort in certain lighting environments

Cons:

  • Paper can become smudged and hard to read
  • Screens can break which lead to expensive repairs

It is easy to read off of a paper media. The only situations that would prove otherwise are if there is extremely bright sunlight or no light. These conditions make it impossible to read. They also put a strain on the eyes. Screens have had many breakthroughs in the past. The immergence of E-inks allows the text to be visible in most of the same lighting conditions as regular paper. If a screen uses a backlight it can be used in darker conditions. The only problem with backlighting is that it can cause irritation to the eyes.

Interactive Design

•November 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In class the other day, we had a guest speaker come in and talk to us a bit about interactive design. Being a design major myself, I found it very insightful. It is interesting to see how many things we interact with throughout our lives that are actually carefully designed. It seems as though we  are constantly studying one another. We are looking for ways to improve the usability of devices. The guest speaker gave us some examples of how we are doing this.

  • Eye Tracking: This involves studying the eye movements of people viewing websites. It allows the designer to get a better understanding of how people  perceive the content. By finding out where people spend the majority of their time looking, a designer can modify their layout to improve user satisfaction. This also helps in determining where to place content. Apparently people read in an “F” pattern so it is important to get your main content out first, near the top of the page.
  • Augmenting Reality: This concept blows my mind. I am not a smart-phone user, nor much of a tech-guy, but this is a fascinating concept. I used to wonder if these kinds of technologies would ever surface. Now that they have, I am very intrigued by how they work. It’s almost like were beginning to fuse reality with the digital space. By giving people the ability to access information, in real time, and be able to interact with that information, we open a doorway to an infinite amount of possibilities. My only scare is that we might try to take this too far. I don’t really want to live in a world where people are constantly connected to machines. Something about it just creeps me out.

The example below is more of a video game concept but it still uses an “in-game hud” to control the drone.

  • Designing for the non-user: I can’t remember if she covered this topic directly, but a lot of the information hinted toward this concept. This is more along the lines of designing for people who are unfamiliar with the product. Basically, making it so someone who has never seen it before could use it. The iPhone was the example provided. It is so well designed that a toddler could pick it up and figure it out. However, I feel like this concept goes way beyond phones and other digital devices. In the lecture, she mentioned how attractive color schemes “seem” to work better. This can be applied to almost any aspect of our lives.

Overall, I think the presentation was great! I am excited to see where we will be in a few years, both in design and in the development of new technologies. My guess is that they will be more interconnected than ever before. It’s not like “design” is a new concept. But the thought of using it to help aggregate information and increase usability sure is.

Go Go Gadget…

How to Fix the Music Industry

•November 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This blog is inspired by two videos that we watched in my ICOM 101 class. The videos dissected some of the issues surrounding the current state of the music industry. They were used more as a means of sparking interest in the subject.

I am not very involved on what is going on in the music industry, but I will talk briefly about what I took away from these videos and offer some of my own insight.

The first video was a vlog from Moby. He spoke a bit of where he sees the music industry going. He had some very interesting ideas. They are as follows:

  • Artists are becoming more self reliant. They are beginning to move away from the idea of being signed by a large record label. Technologies are becoming more readily available to the public. This allows artists to create their own brand and image. They don’t need a label to get their name out any more.
  • Record labels brought this “fallout” on themselves. They were so busy getting singles on top 40 stations that they never bothered to develop any type of band loyalty. They did not help with artist development and they almost emphasized this idea of a “low shelf life” for bands. They would pump out a hit single then move on to another band. They also treated consumers poorly. They continued pushing up the cost of cd’s even when the production costs were declining. It has become a bit of a slimy business.
  • The music industry is becoming more evenly distributed. With bands investing more in themselves they are able to increase their lifespan. It has become more of an “honest living” rather than the previous “get rich quick” scheme.

The second video was a documentary that took us around the world to speak with hot shots in the music industry. There were five main points that I took away from this video. They are as follows:

  • Radio provides the mediating position to expose users to what they like. People don’t want to have to go out and find new music on their own. They like tuning in to their favorite radio station and discovering new artists that way. Also, the music genome project offers a way for listeners to discover new artists on their own.
  • The consumer is always right and they know what they want.
  • People are beginning to promote themselves. (This ties into what I previously mentioned)
  • The industry needs less record label influence. The artist should be in charge of what they play and what their style is. This is where a fan base is built from. When a label forces a band to do things that they don’t want to do, they risk crippling the fan base. Or breaking the band apart.
  • Web applications are becoming more important. The web allows for the aggregation of information about a certain music type/ artist. Information is becoming more and more linked together. You can hear a song on the radio, go to the radio station’s website, find out the details of the song, find a link to the band page, find other albums from that band, find their influences, check out those band’s sites, and so on and so on….This helps create a much more dynamic industry.

I feel like the industry is going through some heavy changes…much needed changes. For too long the CEO’s of record labels have been cashing in on the talent of others. It’s time for the artists to take back the industry!

VIVA LA REVOLUTION!

 

The Protester’s Survival Kit

•November 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

For my project I wanted to create a promotional package that goes hand in hand with the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am not going to claim to be an expert on the matter but I want this project to serve as an educational tool to anyone interested in the protests. Hopefully we will all be a little better educated at the end of this project.

It isn’t really a secret that there is inequality in our financial institution. It’s been that way since the beginning. For the most part, we choose to ignore it. Most of us live modest lives and don’t worry, too much, about how wealthy another person is. But when we fall on hard economic times, that inequality starts to rise to the surface. You get enough people to realize that it exists and you get social unrest. People don’t like to be treated unfairly and they especially don’t like to know that they are being treated unfairly. I think we are setting the stage for some serious reform and I think everyone should learn as much as they can on the subject in order to make educated decisions when approaching the subject. I hope that my project will provide some of that knowledge and spark interest for people to spread the word and share their thoughts. It is important that we continue to have a voice in this country. If the 99% are pissed off and ready for a change then it is bound to happen sooner or later.

I remember watching “Capitalism: A Love Story” by Michael Moore about two years ago. For most of the movie I was in disbelief. I couldn’t understand how our country could be turning its back on the people. Knowingly and intentionally giving people the means to destroy their lives in the name of profits. It was disgusting. I had wondered how long it would take for people to get sick of it and rally against these huge corporations. Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of it. I was all caught up in school, trying to make good grades so I could hopefully get a better job out of college. But I forgot that no matter how high your GPA, it’s absolutely useless if you are entering a broken system. All you really have is a crystal clear understanding of how badly you are being screwed. So this project is a way for me to educate myself and get caught up on everything that is going on. I’m looking forward to it.

I will be creating a visually captivating promotional set which will be used as a means to pass on information. It will have facts about the protests, quotes, information behind the spark of the movement, and information on ways to get involved. I am making it to appeal to a younger crowd, but it could be useful to anyone interested in the movement. My target audience is anyone who wishes to learn a little more about what exactly is going on.

I will be creating the following:

  • Promotional packet with information
  • Poster that accompanies the packet
  • Flyers to spread the word
  • Other items that might serve a purpose

Here is a list of my current references where I am collecting the majority of my information.

Truthdig

Moveon

TheNation

Occupywallst

Huffingtonpost

Occupy Wall Street (twitter)

 

Lynda Training #2 – Flash

•October 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Here are the screenshots from the second training session.