Setting Up My Domain and Social Media-
Before taking this class, I already had a domain set up for my job as a peer mentor for incoming freshman in fall of 2017. The name “the open reading frame” is a biology reference (an open reading frame is a portion of genetic information with the potential to be converted into a protein), I chose this because I will be the peer mentor to students hoping to major in biology. Setting up my social media accounts was relatively simple, I already had a youtube/google account as well as a twitter account, although I chose to make a second twitter account. To make my Flickr account public, I added a few photos that I took using my 35 mm film camera. The main challenge in the set up of my social media accounts was that I had a lot of trouble using Gravatar. I tried again and again to activate this universal avatar so that it would be applied to all of my social media accounts but the program did not work. Although I do have a Gravatar account with a photo selected as my universal avatar, I had to set most of my profile pictures myself. I was unsuccessful in setting a profile picture for my WordPress account.
For my introduction, I produced content on Soundcloud, Flickr and Vimeo and created a kind of scavenger hunt using a format that was trending on twitter several months ago. In this format the user tweets to call to the attention of their followers a hidden message in a photo. Once the message is discovered, they will be sent on a journey of links to reach a final, digital destination. In this case, my tweet leads my followers to my header image, which tells them where to find a link to my first Soundcloud playlist. Upon reaching the playlist, they will find another link in the description to my first video on Vimeo. At the end of the video, viewers are instructed to locate yet another link that finally leads them to my first album on Flickr, completing the hunt. Feel free to follow the trail, but I will also link the content from each site in this summary:
To get to know a little more about me and my online presence, zoom in on the upper left corner of my header photo & then follow the links!
— Sarah Roche (@saradigitellsit) July 2, 2017
Customizing My Blog-
For the most part, this was a really enjoyable process for me. At first, there were many aspects about WordPress that I found frustrating and difficult to maneuver. I was confused about how to assign a specific post to a particular page, and I did not understand the concept of categories. After some research and tutorial videos, I have finally managed to set up a well organized system of categories and I am able to funnel posts directly to the pages that I want them to appear on. I decided to use the 2017 theme mostly because it allows for YouTube videos to serve as the homepage header. The aesthetic of my website is pretty much what I would like it to be, both the video and photo version of my header are beautiful elements, and I included widgets like the audio-player that give my page a little of my own style. I am not particularly fond of the way that posts appear on my pages, they are not easy to differentiate between and I don’t like that they appear in narrow columns. Additionally, for my “About” page, I used a plugin called BeaverBuilder which advertises itself as an easy to use tool that allows you to place content anyway you like. However, this tool is not as useful as it claims to be and I have again been stuck with a very linear page when I would much rather see the content of that page in a more unified layout. I installed plugins like Jetpack and Askimet and watched tutorials on moderation of comments.
1. Photo Reflection and Readings/Video Reflection:
My reflection on the two pieces on photography and watched a video on visual literacy was in combination with a reflection of my photography produced so far.
2. Photo Safari and Reflection:
My photo safari and reflection were combined into a single post.
This week I completed four Visual Assignments from the ds106 Handbook:
1. My Very Own Spubble: “What a Hike”
For this assignment, the student is tasked with captioning a photo of themselves with dialogue that somewhat contradicts the visual representation within the photo. This was a frustrating assignment for me for several reasons. I debated for a long time over what photo to use. I had hoped to think of a pose and a take a brand new picture for the assignment, but I was having trouble coming up with an idea. As I searched through old photos of myself for inspiration, I found the picture of my sister and me on the mountain and immediately had my idea. Another point of frustration in this project was how difficult it was to implement a speech bubble into the picture. I really am new to all things digital and I don’t know of many of the tools that are commonly used for projects like this. However, the ds106 handbook led me to GIMP and that was somewhat useful. However, I was stumped by a lot of the tools and spent a while researching the program. I was fully annoyed by the time I was finally able to complete the task, using the advice from the assignment itself to use a site called Picnik (which apparently no longer exists) and Aviary, which is very basic and did not have the tools I wanted. It’s becoming apparent to me that I don’t really have much of an aptitude for digital studies, and I will need to work my way through a serious learning curve. This project had a star value of 2.
2. GIF Animate Your Day Like Ben: “A Truly Endless Summer”
This project requires the student to take footage of moments throughout their day and convert them into animated GIFs. I absolutely loved doing this assignment, it is my favorite of all the work I produced this week. As I mention in the content itself, I am somewhat obsessed with memories. Now that I know how to make GIFs, I think I’ll have a way to satisfy my extreme nostalgia. Not only did I enjoy seeing those moments of my day become infinite loops, I had a lot of fun with writing up the assignment. Writing about these moments was cathartic, and made me realize just how powerful a simple GIF is. Even though creating the GIFs was extremely straightforward, I am unabashedly proud of myself for these little creations. This was a project I was excited to share with people when usually I like to keep anything artistic I create to myself. I think I want to continue creating GIFs like this, perhaps even set up a second blog purely for my own fun. With future GIFs that I make, I want to attempt to take the videos so that they are more ideal for splicing in a way that makes the video really appear succinct and without transition every time the loop starts over. Because I shot all my footage before I had any experience making a GIF, I didn’t record videos in a way that would make the editing process simpler, so this is definitely a point I hope to improve upon. This project had a star value of 4.
3. Not Quite Norma Jeane: “Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
This was a fun and simple project that required the student to recreate a classic Marilyn Monroe poster. The prompt simply requires that the student recreate each picture and then compile them into a collage that mirrors the original. I had intended to complete the assignment in that manner without straying from the assignment, however as mentioned in my blog post, I felt like the unedited photos came out so nicely that wanted to be able to show them off. I converted the post into a sales pitch for several poster varieties, going along with the “not digital truth-telling” concept discussed in the first videos. I’m not hugely interested in fiction as a consumer or as a producer but this was an interesting experience and I’m glad that I gave it a try. I’m also pleased that I managed to do something a little more unique with this project rather than just following the guidelines. I definitely want to work more on my photography skills in the future. While I think the quality of these photos are good, I am not terribly impressed with their likeness to the originals. I had hoped they would be more similar, I could not quite figure out how to manipulate the light in the setting I chose to create more accurate recreations. This project had a star value of 2.
4. Unlikely Intersections: “A Mutually Exclusive Intersection”
As is my style, I took a simple project and over-thought it. I have a tendency to overthink things a lot, which may be obvious from the lengthy blog post for this assignment which required no actual writing. However, I am impressed by just how much the concept behind this tiny task caused me to think. I was completely struck when I recognized the contrast between the two street names and realized that it could be of some use to me. It felt fairly serendipitous to have stumbled upon an intersection that represented a conflict that I spend a lot of time deliberating over. I think what I discussed in my blog post is fairly important and references some very compelling topics. As a scientist, I am thrilled that I was able to pull my passion into one of my projects. It’s always a challenge for me to intertwine science and artwork because I become extremely invested in anything that I work on, and I can really only focus on a discipline at a time. Part of the reason I am taking this class over the summer is because I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to produce quality artwork during a semester when I am trying to simultaneously produce quality lab reports and research papers. But in this project I was able to have a bit of both. This assignment had a star value of 2.
Additional Activity This Week-
This week I was fairly active on twitter. I not only sent out tweets to spread the word about my blog posts but I also interacted with a few of my classmates and received some feedback from the international ds106 community:
— Leni W. (@leniwstory) June 29, 2017
— Sarah Roche (@saradigitellsit) June 27, 2017
As of now, I have not received any comments on my own posts but I look forward to replying to them as they appear! I did, however, comment on the posts of some of the members of our class:
This week has put me through the ringer. Creating digital content was far more difficult than I had assumed it would be. I’m not tech savvy, I spend very little time on the internet and I don’t follow any blogs so I often felt a little lost. On top of the practical difficulties I faced was the issue of creativity. Recently I haven’t had any prompt to create anything at all, I’ve been completely without assignment for two months and while it felt great to be free from stressful deadlines, I realize now that I’ve been rather lethargic in the past weeks. Without any serious work to complete, I became a little dull which truly made the development of these ideas a challenge. However, after this week of hard, honest work I feel rejuvenated. I’m excited to have share my work and begin receiving feedback.
Visual storytelling in particular has been really exciting for me because I’ve always loved to take photos, but I’ve never received any guidance on how to improve my work. Additionally, I’ve never been prompted to create anything like this before, so it was a brand new experience to be creating images with a specific goal in mind. I think I have learned a thing or two this week that I will hold onto for my future work. I almost wish this week could have lasted a bit longer because I really enjoyed producing this content. I definitely think my best piece is “A Truly Endless Summer,” the visuals can definitely be improved upon but I think I was successful in conveying the mood of the day. The main thing I hope to do differently this upcoming week is to take better notes as I work through my tasks so that I am better prepared to write up a weekly summary. I’m excited to see where my newfound creativity takes my blog in the coming weeks.