Sunday, August 22, 2010

Basics of CLAM Shared at Greenville's 1st Pecha Kucha Night

On November 12, 2009, Pecha Kucha Night Greenville held Volume 1at The Huguenot Mill at The Peace Center. Clemson University's "Cultural Literacies Across Media" Instructor, Randy Nichols presented to the audience the challenges of communicating in a digital age - and what CLAM is doing to help students meet these challenges in "Helping Johnny Become Digitally Literate."

Pecha Kucha is an innovative presentation format that began in Japan, but is fast becoming a tool in favor with architects, educators, community planners, engineers and artists. Pecha Kucha Nights have sprung up across the globe, and Greenville, SC has now joined the list of progressive cities hosting this engaging communication event.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CLAM Gets Noticed by The Chronicle of Higher Education!

Dr. Constancio Nakuma
The July 22 Issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education featured a story on Study Abroad experiences, and highlighted the work of the students and faculty involved in our own beloved CLAM! The article features interviews from the instructor, Randy Nichols,  from students Meg Sparkman and Jennifer McAmis, and from Dr. Tharon Howard and Dr. Constancio Nakuma, who were instrumental in facilitating the development of the course.

You can find the article here:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CLAM Featured in College Magazine

The Cultural Literacies Across Media course, and the work of its students, are featured in the recent issue of AAH - the magazine of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. The article by Sarah Brown features original photos from our students, as well as links to samples of blogs and video. Check out the pdf for the full four-page color spread!

Dr. Constancio Nakuma, Associate Dean - CAAH, is quoted in the article as saying, "“CLAM is a way to teach students how to reflect on the permanent message etched into them while they study abroad, that they are part of a bigger picture. CLAM was designed to help our students learn how to paint themselves into that bigger picture consciously and as true to self as they can."

CLAM Hits Clemson's OIA YouTube Channel

Many of the videos from CLAM students studying abroad have been posted on Clemson's Office of International Affairs YouTube Channel. The exceptional work of our CLAM students is getting international exposure through this channel. Check it out!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow...

Our CLAMmers are wrapping up their Spring Term, but our CLAMmers will not really leave. You can click the links to the right to see some of their projects already posted in their own blogs. As soon as evaluations are done, and Clemson OIA's YouTube channel is updated, we will let you know and provide links. Congratulations, CLAMmers - you lived to tell the tale! (in multimodal fashion, no less!)

Friday, April 16, 2010


CLAMmers recently received some next-to-last-minute instructions and are putting together their projects. Some of the earlier blog posts hint at some very interesting projects in the works. These video projects will allow our students to share their newly gained cultural literacies with the greater Clemson University community at large.

Do we have grand expectations for these projects? Sure. But then again, we think we have some pretty grand students working on these projects. Watch here for announcements of their project postings on the Clemson OIA YouTube channel. These students are examples of how Clemson University is navigating the ever-changing  global and dynamic cultural climate in which business, education, and life will be lived in the future.

Oh, yeah. The future is already here. Welcome to it.
(CLAMmers might enjoy looking for indicators of culture in the video below.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The End of the Beginning (or the Beginning of the End?)

This week, CLAMmers will post more rhetorical analyses of media artifacts from within their cultures of focus. These should be interesting! But as they prepare to dig into preparations for their final projects, I offer a last resource for more last-minute video helps.

This link takes you to Media College's short, "basic video editing" tutorial. You may already know these things, but a refresher never hurt anyone. Maybe thi swill be useful as you dig into making the masterpiecesthat will be your final projects.

Again, those helps are here:

Expecting some great critical analysis from each CLAM students this week!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interview Challenge #9: Flop Sweat

How to deal with "flop sweat" - or stage fright, speaker anxiety, etc. Don't panic; take deep breaths. Put yourself and your guest at ease. Express genuine interest. Try to make the interview a "real" conversation. And whatever you do, don't come off like this:

And, to sum it up: Have fun; Enjoy the Interview; Do Great Work!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Inerview with a Vampire (or a Plumber or a Teacher or Tiger Woods)

The biggest news story of the week - the long-fought remarkable Health Care vote? or... the 5-minute Tiger Woods interview?

One element of the CLAMmers final project is the interview. This seemingly simple format (ask a question, get an answer, repeat) is a useful tool for journalists, ethnographers, students, and a plethora of other people who want to learn things.

I'm attaching a few links below to a site called Media College. This free site offers instructions on a variety of media concerns, but I refer you to the section on shooting interviews. Try the site here:

You will find helpful info on a variety of topics related to your video interviews, such as

So, get busy shooting more photos, more video, more interviews - your final projects should really start taking shape. Get busy with the new material, post your photos and vids, and do great work!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

And Now, For Something Completely Different....

A two-minute reminder to see your culture of study with fresh eyes! (Should ring a bell with your previous course materials - recognize a map in there?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Death and Rebirth of the RickRoll

CLAMmers and cultural new-media-meme-interested readers:
You may have heard that YouTube removed the RickRoll'd video. You may have been concerned that I, your ever tech-hip and culture-savvy instructor may have included an illustration that now appears dated. You may have wondered if I was somehow "behind the times" and if this was a sign of the end of the world.

Fear not. Only the naive and less sophisticated novices of pop culture jumped to the conclusion that Rick Rolling was over.

NEWS: The Death and Rebirth of the RickRoll

As always, CLAM students are just a little ahead of the rest of the world in many things. Critical appreciation and understanding of the cultural meme of Rick-Rolling is one of these things. YouTube has replaced the video back to its proper place. (They do not SPECIFICALLY mention the CLAM course as the reasoning behind the move, but c'mon, who are we kidding?)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why do you think they call it "Trope?"

CLAM students will be working with photos and offering critical analyses of the rhetorical choices that go into the "composition" of digital images. The choices of angle, inclusion, exclusion, etc. are paramount in "making meaning" with photographs! If you doubt that consider these photos taken at a recent speech by President Obama to a group of 6th graders. (These news photos were taken by Getty Images and are property of Getty Images. A small selection of their published images are included here for educational purposes under the Fair Use policy.)

Photo 1 - note the President's posture, inclusion of children, facial expressions, etc.

Photo 2 - note the podium with official seal, children's artwork in background, secret service agent, corner of flag...

Photo 3 - Note the two teleprompters, the three monitors, the classroom blackboard, charts, globe, etc...

Which of these photos is most effective? for what purposes? If you were photographing the President for this occasion, what decisions of Digital Tropos would come into play for you? Why?

These decisions are important considerations, not just for Presidents - but for each student composing multimodally!

Bonus: John Stewart comments on the impact of the visual rhetoric at play:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama Speaks to a Sixth-Grade Classroom
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Golden Arches of Culture?

CLAM students will be posting several really cool blog entries (see links to the right) over the next few days. Some of these entries will allow the students to display their cultural-critical chops by way of analyzing media rhetorically. Students will discuss the persuasive forces behind billboards, movies, websites, video, tv, etc. in their host cultures.

Students will also blog with a focus on McDonald's as a global presence. How does McDonald's reflect the culture in different countries or in different areas of the US? How does McDonald's shape or change the culture in different countries or in different areas of the US?

As recently as TODAY - I notice an ongoing conversation (argument?) among bloggers and newspaper columnists over McDonald's influence in other cultures.  You can find a summary of The McItaly Burger Uproar hear at The Week (a news digest).

Wow - talk about relevance to current events -  CLAM students, you are on the bleeding edge of cultural happenings! Work out those rhetorical analyses with gusto and focus. Look at the McDonald's assignment with keen critical eyes. And do brilliant work!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Looking Forward to New Literacies - and Backward to the "Other" in Comics

This week, CLAM students will be reading (yes, gasp! - reading!) two important contemporary articles: Nicholas Carr's "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" (from the Atlantic) and Kevin Kelly's "Becoming Screen Literate" (from the New York Times.)

When we say "multimodal" we do not mean to exclude reading and composing in printed texts - but only to add other modalities to the compositional mix. Print is still cool! (And while I admit that you will most likely read these articles from a digital source - I must say that I read Carr's article in an actual print magazine that was delivered to my home. It was so cool - like someone went to all the trouble to download and print out all the articles and photos on neat glossy paper for me!) At any rate - in the upcoming week the blogs linked in the column to your right will lead to to provocative and insightful blogs on new media and new literacies.

The last week's blogs contained  a number of students' comments on the concept of "Othering." A few months ago I visited a museum display about comics. Specifically, about Southerners in Comics. I will post a few snapshots to illustrate some things that caught my attention. Perhaps you will want to add comments or questions. Perhaps you will see similar "Othering" of sub-groups in your own cultural investigations. What are the ramifications of such "visual marginalizations" of specific groups? How do they influence public perception? How do they influence the group's own self-identity?


Friday, January 29, 2010

Help - I don't know how to BBQ Korean-style!

Last month, I returned for a visit to New York City - to visit friends, see the city at Christmas, and, of course, to do some research on visual rhetoric at the International Center for Photography. My wife and I saw some old friends, and visited some of our favorite places in north Jersey and NYC... but we also decided to try something new.

We went to Koreatown for the first time. We had been often to Chinatown, Little Italy, Hell's Kitchen, TriBeCa, SoHo, NoLita, Chelsea, Garment District, Bowery, Theater District, etc... but never to Koreatown. And boy, oh boy, were we in for a new experience. We went to a place called Wan-Jo which served barbeque, but not the pulled pork variety of SC lore...

The first obstacle was the language barrier. We spoke no Korean. The first several members of the restaurant staff apparently spoke only very limited English. We were offered a choice of seating, but - unable to get understandable details on what each choice meant, it was a coin toss for us. We chose upstairs, where we were seated and given menus. We chose from the menus and placed our order - one choice that had the word "beef" in it somewhere and another that had the word "chicken" in the description. In fast order the service began...

A square portion in the center of the table between us was removed to reveal a pit, which was filled by an attendant carrying (through the midst of the dining area) two rectangular metal boxes of flaming hot coals, like a scene out of the book of Revelation. This certainly helped us fend off the New York December chill! And then, plates of foods of various types, beef, chicken, onions, and a dozen things we could not identify with any certainty. The server put the meat on the grill for us and left us to our devices. Should we put other things on the grill? Should we take the meat off? Turn it over? What was that mushy white stuff? We asked a number of questions to a number of servers, each of whom was patient and friendly and had only the slightest clue what we were saying, but offered some bits of knowledge that varied in relationship to our question from "close" to "not even in the ball park." However, with no other diners nearby to observe, we cobbled each bit of knowledge into a skeletal guide to navigating the Korean food before us.

We were absolutely out of our element. We had no comfort level in analyzing or categorizing the elements of the meal. We were inarticulate. We were uncomfortable.And yet, we EXPERIENCED the experience. We have a grand memory of learning something that was "non-sense" in many ways, yet gave us a "new sense" of Koreatown that we couldn't have gained through a visitor's guide. As we watched our hosts flow through this world with complete fluency, we were enlivened by the complete "otherness" of ourselves as strangers in this strange land.

This week in my research I ran across an article entitled "Creating Real Presence: Displays in Liminal Worlds" by John Shotter, in which he says...

CLAM students - you will, of course and necessity, be involved in analysis through many of the experiences of this term. HOWEVER - don't let the "requirements of academic discipline" misdirect you completely from allowing these experiences to "speak to you" in uncanny, indeterminate, and "other" ways. From time to time, relax the limits you might feel constrained to impose - and take off your ethnographer's hat for a bit - and just EXPERIENCE the experience before you. (You can always write about it later!)

Have fun - and do good work!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Do I Digitally Connect with Thee? Let Me Count The Ways...

Our CLAM bloggers are entering the course with a wide range of experiences in "Composing for New Media Sites" - ranging from the greenest rookies to the most savvy social networking veterans. And the choices for engaging new digital media are many, as well - ranging from the blogosphere (like this one) to Facebook to Twitter to Skype and more. The "thing" that we call "New Social Media" is not a single entity, but rather a growing network of multiplied connections. I'd say that New Social Media is less like a Tulip - and more like a lawn - made not of a single plant, but of a interwoven network of strands, roots, and runners. (CLAMmers, beware! You will hear this metaphor again!)

This is a picture of me with that most marvelous of inventions, the Paige Typesetter! Never heard of it? Not surprised. It failed magnificently and spelled financial ruin for its main backer, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain.) Twain was ahead of his time. Way ahead of his time.That is not always a good thing. The technology of the day simply couldn't support the creativity of his vision.

Many educators have looked for ways students could share work across great distances with their classmates and instructors. They looked for ways whereby students could share not only writing, bu visual, video and audio with the greater academic community. Some of these efforts may have faced difficulty because technology hadn't caught up with the creativity of the vision. But now, technology is available to carry our most visionary ideas of composition and communication. Today's technology doesn't punish visionary creativity in composition. (It does, however, put to shame small, unimaginative, shallow or boring approaches and makes them seem all the more impoverished. So, dare to dream big in your projects!)

Kudos on all the CLAMmers for braving the frontier of New Media, and for experimenting with photos, video, links, prose, and other elements of New Media Composition! Keep "learning by doing" both in your cultural engagement, and in creative use of these new sites for composition.

(Photo taken during the Summer 2007 NEH Landmark Study at The Mark Twain House in Hartford Connecticut.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Out of the Blocks - and Out of the Box...

Congrats on your first posts, CLAMmers! You have gotten off to a good start - and some of our bloggers  are discovering an entirely new way to communicate, compose, and connect.

Check the links in the navigation bar to the right to see the new blogs of our Spring 2010 CLAMmers. CLAMmers should add a similar "My Blogs" gadget to link to this (CLAM Soup) and to the blogs of fellow CLAMmers.

Some good photos posted already - I'm looking forward to seeing more photos along with your posts. I do remind you of that great photo-posting tip in the last blog - some of you missed it! (

So, add those links, get into the new material, keep taking photos, shooting video, and spend time learning about your software and hardware - the pens and pencils of digital composition!

Looking out My Back Door - Sunrise in Pickens County  (R. Nichols)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Kids in the Soup!

Welcome to our new CAAH 201 (CLAM) students -  - Spring 2010 is here! Soon, new blogs will be listed in the column at the right and a new crop of bloggers will become part of a growing network of Clemson students who are critically engaging cultures in interesting, inspiring and provocative ways!

I will be posting some general comments here each week - answering questions, sharing tips, and highlighting some of the work from our CLAM students' blogs. Check back often, and, as the new blogs appear in the column at teh right, explore some of the work our CLAMmers are doing across the globe. (For now, you can still enjoy the ground-breaking work from our pilot CLAMmers.)

So... FIRST TIP! Students, you will be posting digital photos often to your blog, so this first tip is one you will put to use early and often. Don't post more picture than you need! A size of 800 x 600 with a resolution of 72 dpi is plenty! (OK - 96 dpi if you got a Mac.) Let Tommy's Joynt help explain...

I've posted two pics below of a cool restaurant in San Francisco. Do you notice any difference?

The first one is untouched exactly as it was downloaded from my iPhone. Go ahead, click it. HUGE Picture! Over a 1.2 MEG!*

The second one is the same photo - but reduced to 800x600 in size with a resolution of 72 dpi. perfect size for web viewing and only a fraction of the size - only 140k! (and a fraction of the upload/download time!)

Of course, I saved the smaller pic under a new name so I could keep the higher res photo for later use. This tip will save you lots of time in posting, so practice it early and often. (Deeper teaching on this subject will come later in the course - but this tip you need now!) You can do this in any photo editing program. I use PhotoShop on my lab computer, PaintShopPro on my home computer and GIMP on my laptop.

Don't have a digital image editing software? GIMP is free! Get a copy here now:

Welcome to the blogosphere, new CLAMmers! I'm looking forward to seeing your work on these blogs.

*(1.2M uploaded - conerted to 285k by blogger - still twice as long to download, and ten times as long to upload.)