Digital Storytelling: An Interactive Adventure.

For this task I worked with classmate Dan to produce a choose-your-own-adventure, non-linear youtube video. We were inspired by this blogpost which puts into words a girls struggle when forced to choose between two men: one representing time and the other money. Dan and I reconfigured the storyline, stylising it to have a more comical, satirical feel. We decided that three videos would be produced: one whIch introduces the storyline and then at the end of that video two annotations would appear which link to another video, continuing and concluding the story in the way which the viewer decided.

We filmed and edited the whole thing in one evening and given the time constraints, the outcome was fairly good (if you ignore the fact that my acting skills make Kirsten Stewart look outstanding).

We took note of the various digital stories we had researched, and tried out something new. Neither of us had produced a non-linear YouTube video before.

We both promoted the video on our personal FaceBook pages and on Twitter (using the #netmed hashtag). Internet fame here we come!


Locative Media: A Very Short and Awkward Story

Last Monday at 3pm, Michael, Mar and myself started our radio show on SYN. Since we were all quite busy with assessments, we didn’t find time to meet up before the first show to prepare discussion topics and structure. We were confident in our ability to ‘wing it’.

Michael had the task of writing up a short intro to the show, which we would read out at the beginning to inform listeners of what the show would be about. It went a little something like this:

Welcome to ‘The Solo System’, a show where we will discuss the ups and downs of being single. It’s kind of like Sex and the City but theres three of us, and one of us is a guy.

We arrived at the studio a bit before 3pm and decided Michael was going to play the role of panelist and read out the intro. We sat down with our headphones in, ready to get the show underway. As a song was ending, Michael was getting ready to hit play on an ID, turn his microphone on and read out our shows intro.

He was about half way through reading the introduction when I realised I could hear nothing in my headphones, meaning that he hadn’t turned his microphone on and we had just started our show with a good 10 seconds of dead air. He promptly turned his microphone up but I had caught a case of the giggles. I tried to turn away but it was too late: Michael caught them too. He passed the sheet of paper to Mar who attempted to finish reading the intro but caught the giggles as well, throwing it to a song. I exclaimed “Oh my god” in embarrassment, forgetting my microphone was still on.

After the song, we got back into the groove and redeemed ourselves. We moved forward and surprisingly, our first show didn’t turn out so bad!

I placed a QR tag in the studio which links to this blog post:




Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...
Cover via Amazon

An e-Book is…

… Well, simply that. It’s an ‘electronic book’ which allows you to read a book from your smartphone, computer, laptop screen or even an electronic device designed specifically designed for e-Books (see: Kindle).

Despite popular belief they have been around since 1971, when Michael S. Hart launched “Project Gutenberg“, digitalising the United States Declaration of Independence (this became the first e-Book in the world).

E-Books really began to take off in 2007. This was the year that Amazon launched the Kindle and Apple launched the first generation iPhone. In 2010 Amazon reported that for the first year ever, electronic books sales outnumbered that of hardcover books.

For every 100 print books sold through the site, Amazon said it sold 114 titles for its Kindle e-reader device. –BBC News

Now, libraries are even trying to monetize off of a development called e-lending. 

I can definitely understand why e-Book sales have skyrocketed in recent years.

They compress huge amounts of data: Carrying around one lightweight, electronic device is much more efficient than lugging around a bunch of heavy novels and textbooks.

They make books easily accessible around the world, instantly: You don’t have to wait days for a book-order to arrive in the post, clicking a single ‘download’ button gives readers access to material almost instantly. There is also no limit on copies, so you won’t be disappointed in not getting in early enough to purchase the latest release.

There are free books: old classics that are no longer under copyright and are now in the public domain are free for anyone to own on their e-reader. Plus, lots of publishers are employing a marketing strategy that is releasing sample segments of their books for free in the form of an e-book. So, you can try before you buy.

Nobody knows what you’re reading: This is good news for the horny housewives- 50 Shades of Grey and other erotic novels can be read anywhere you go, no judgements by passers by! (Disclaimer: I’ve begun to notice the “I’m reading something I shouldn’t be reading in public but I’m getting away with it thanks to this e-reader” face) .

However, there are still drawbacks to this ever-growing development.

Loss of sentiment: I’m going to be super old-fashioned in saying that I do enjoy the smell of a new book, and actually having a tangible novel is kind of nice. Having the ability to place it on your shelf once you’re done, lend it to your friends, underline your favorite quotes and so on.

The screen: For some, a small digital screen is hard to read and after a while it can be painful to the eyes.

Battery life: Although the battery life for Kindles is fairly long, the good thing about a paperback book is that you can read it for as long as you like, wirelessly. You can take it away with you without having to worry about a charger, or the possibility that the technology might falter.

Nobody can see what you’re reading: I mentioned this as a pro earlier but with some books, I want to own the fact that I’m reading it, because I’m proud. It’s also a conversation starter… not that I’m the type of person to approach a random person on the train to tell them that ‘that’s a great book’, but it’s nice to have the option.

There are pros and cons to owning only an e-Book. In some situations it’s nice to carry around a single paperback book but when you have a bunch of books that you plan to transport great distances, then e-Books is the obvious option.


My Favorite Digital Stories

So, I just finished reading Kristi Barnett‘s first twitter horror movie, ‘Hurst’. Actually, I’m not sure that ‘reading’ is the right word- because it was also a visual and audio experience. I watched, read, listened to and viewed the digital story- I consumed it. That’s what I love about all these new innovative developments in digital storytelling… it’s all about consuming the multifaceted media.

Screenwriter Kristi Barnett Breaking New Ground, Preparing to Unleash a Horror Experience ... on Twitter

‘Hurst’ follows the story of @KarenBarley who is sent to Croham Hurst for her job but is faced with supernatural obstacles. Her experiences are recorded through twitter updates, pictures, audio recordings, foursquare check-in’s and camera phone recordings. It takes place over 3 weeks, and through this time, the character Karen Barley replied to tweets, interacting with her followers.

I think its a novel idea and was executed fairly well. I was surprised at how much I got lost in the narrative, at times I was genuinely scared (good thing I watched during daylight). I can understand and appreciate how consuming it in real time as it unfolded would have been a different experience but unfortunately for me I consumed it in one hit, scrolling up and down, having multiple browsers open and often losing my spot on the twitter page. On top of this, most of the links didn’t work so I had to copy the URLs into a separate browser. It would have been great to be able to expand the tweet and view the image or video embedded into her twitter page (however I have a feeling twitter developed such plugins after 2011). Still, I really enjoyed the project and was inspired by it.



Another digital story I consumed was ‘Take This Lollipop‘, created by Jason Zada. It is a interactive horror short which uses the Facebook Connect application to access the users Facebook information and thrust them into the story, making the viewer feel as though they are being watched or sought out. Viewers watch as a creepy old man sits in his barn-like home at his desk, browsing through their Facebook page. He then discovers their location and leaves his desk to seek that person out. It’s pretty scary and realistic. I think it’s a good way to teach Facebook users that the internet is a public place and that stuff like this actually happens. There is minimal interactivity but there still remains a strong sense that viewers are a part of the story.



The last digital story I consumed was a non-linear, interactive series of YouTube clips. Created by Michael Gallagher, the Totally Sketch channel uploads new sketch comedy videos weekly. This particular example, ‘You Stole My Boyfriend‘ is from the choose your own adventure series. A girl has just discovered that her best friend is dating her ex-boyfriend and it is up to the viewer to decide whether she should act happy or annoyed, the viewer clicks an option which takes them to a video that follows the action and so on. It’s a fairly silly series but still quite funny. I often find myself going back to the start to explore the outcomes of different choices. It’s a light watch (in a subtly disturbing way) and the user interactivity makes it stand out against other YouTube based sketch comedies.

Six Degrees of Seperation

This BBC documentary unfolds the science behind the idea that you are no more than 6 handshakes away from any individual on earth. The documentary explores networks, social and otherwise, and how this breakthrough could change the way we view the world.

The documentary illustrates how instinct, passion and our ability to connect can help us gain access to results if we are involved in a form of network or group (which we all, in some way, are)- whether it be in the form of a sporting group or club, mother’s group, charity group or a home business network, each ‘hub’ is connected to another ‘hub’ in some way or form.

The documentary discusses how through knowing someone who moved overseas, or even knowing someone who knows someone who moved overseas, we are connected to people all around the world. Social media networking has been on an exponential rise since the creation of this documentary and it seems as though more and more people are creating more and more connections with people all around the world. At the click of our fingertips we could be instant messaging someone on the other side of the world. So surely the degreed of separation are decreasing?

Well, yes they are. According to a CNN article, each Facebook is only 4-5 facebook users away from any other facebook user.

Note to self: put the 1993, Six Degrees of Separation film on my to-watch list.


Creativity and Changing the World

In a world where technology is at our fingertips, it’s becoming easier for us to rely on these mindless objects to satisfy our creative needs. In turn, it’s harder for us to apply ourselves offline. Everyone can relate to those times where we favour Facebook over an important assignment. I relate well to what John Cleese says in his lecture on creativity. I almost always gravitate towards completing trivial tasks I know I can get done before tackling those more complicated and more important tasks. So, how do we get creative and apply ourselves?

According to Cleese we need space, time, confidence and humour. From a writer/producer, this is intriguing and valuable advice but then again apart of me keeps thinking that there is no formula to cultivate creativity. Everyone is different. I feel most creative when I’m sitting on a bus… without my iPhone, that is.

Steve Johnson suggests that good ideas come from a slow hunch. Over years a hunch will develop and collide with other hunches- hunches that belong to other people. So good ideas come from the collaboration of separate minds and their thoughts, apparently.

My point is, everyone has a different opinion of where good ideas come from.

2057: The City of the Future

So, in 45 years time, everyone’s going to be old, we’ll be friends with 3D projected animations and leaving the house will be, well, unnecessary? I don’t really understand there is a push for responsive holograms to take over keyboards and monitors. Apparently touching things is overrated. This documentary also suggests we will all be living to the age of 100+. Which is interesting… considering how weak our immune systems would be.

As cool as an automated house would be, such a heavy reliance on technology is inherently dangerous. That Simpsons episode comes to mind – (Treehouse of Horror XII) – where the family purchases an upgrade to their house, the ‘Ultrahouse’. Needless to say, in ends in havoc- the house (voiced by Pierce Brosnan) falls in love with Marge and seeks to murder Homer. As responsive and interactive as technology is, I still think its a far-fetched idea that technology is getting increasingly closer to have a mind of its own.

Another conceived idea that could be a product of the future is the bionic contact lens. Such an idea is a little scary. I feel like such a development would mess with our minds- we would struggle to differentiate reality from virtual reality. Google has already got Project Glass underway… it’s like a smartphone in your eye. I just don’t think we’re ready for it yet.

iPhone 4S will do just fine for now

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I subscribed to the LifeHacker RSS feed to add some spontaneity and spice to my Google Reader. LifeHacker is a productivity tool/ technology guide type website. Today I was lead to an article which gave readers tips to:

Make your old iPhone feel like new this weekend

…Which is good because I’m starting to get a little lime green jelly of the people who have obtained the new iPhone 5.

After reading the article, these are the steps I have taken to make my 4S feel snazzy as new:

  • Cleaned the screen. Luckily I’m yet to crack the screen so a little spray and wipe has given the phone a brand-spanking-new shine.
  • Updated the software. So, it’s basically a (shorter and fatter) iPhone 5.
  • Cleared and Organized my apps. I deleted the apps I don’t use anymore (Draw Something, Words With Friends etc.) and created folders for the ones I commonly use. This gives me more storage space and in turn makes my battery last longer.

Glad I read this article because now I’m not $800 poorer. Thank you Life Hacker!

Comparing Search Engines: Google VS. Duckduck go VS. Instagrok

Today, as I was surfing the web, I found myself daydreaming about being in New York once again. Brooklyn in particular. I decided to research ‘Tourist activities in Brooklyn’, using three different search engines to see what I would find. I’ve never really used Duckduckgo or Instagrok before so it was interesting comparing the results.

Due to familiarity, Google is probably the easiest to use. The search yielded ‘about 5, 110, 000 results’ in ‘0.28’ seconds. Nifty.
The thing I like about Google is the suggestions that pop up as I type a phrase into the search bar. I enjoy discovering what popular searches are because it helps me to find (what I assume are) the most reliable results. Google suggested that I search for ‘attractions’ or ‘top attractions’ for more results.
Google lead me to a great website, that has intensified my desire to visit NYC:

Duck Duck Go
Duckduckgo was a pleasant surprise: easy to use, yielded relevant results and also offered suggestions. The top search result was VisitBrooklyn again. Duckduckgo suggested that I search for reviews. If I were non-hypothetically planning a trip to New York, this would be useful. There’s very little recognizable disparity between Google and Duckduckgo.

Wow, this search engine is not like the others. It’s interface is a bit confusing, and the search didn’t direct me to the kind of thing I intended to find. Instead of taking me to travel websites immediately, it gave me facts about New York. It’s a fun site if you’re interested in delving into a topic, but not if you’re looking for quick search results.

And the winner is…


Duckduckgo was a close second but Google wins on account of its ability to infer what I want to search before I type it in. Google is also a good site to keep as my homepage because it connects me to News, Mail and Youtube.

‘Girls’ Season 2 ?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of HBO’s new comedy ‘Girls’ that wrapped up it’s first season a few months back. As much as I loved the first season, it flew by fast, being comprised of only 12 x 20 minute episodes. Ratings weren’t as good as they should have been at the beginning of the series, but as it progressed, the plot and quality of the show definitely improved. With each episode I laughed and loved it more and more, and just as I was getting really into it… boom! season finale. This left me wondering whether there actually would be a season two. Reviews were mostly good but then there were the not so good. Critic Curt Wagner dubs the show “frustrating to watch” in this article on RedEye.

With all this ambiguity surrounding the shows reputation, I signed up for a Google Alert. Turns out, there definitely will be a season 2, coming out around January 2013. There’s also been word on guest stars, which should be interesting given the fact that Season 1 seemed fairly big on putting underrated actors in the limelight. Maybe familiar faces is what the show needs to gain the recognition it deserves?

Rita Wilson will be playing Marnie’s (Allison Williams) mother. I’m intrigued and excited to see how their relationship will play out. I feel like season 1 glazed over the secondary characters, highlighting their flaws and raising questions without delving too deep into what they are all about. Hopefully season 2 answers some of these questions, transforming the show from being a sitcom about one girl and her friends to being a sitcom about four girls.

Girls HBO

SNL’s Colin Quinn will also play a role in the upcoming season. I look forward to discovering what another comic personality can add to the already hilarious (in my opinion) show.
You can see the article detailing the confirmed season 2 cast additions here.

In other Ellyse’s Google Alert news…
Mike ‘Sugar Bear’ Thompson, the lovable father in TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, is in crutches. (Yes, I created a Google Alert for ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’… what of it?)
The Article