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?