Archive for the ‘Camp Magic MacGuffin’ Category


Colleagues, Alan and Martha, LOST in MINECRAFT !!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
"HELP! Alan and Martha are Missing in Minecraft !!" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“HELP! Alan and Martha are Missing in Minecraft !!” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Our two Camp Magic Macguffin co-coordinators, Alan (@cogdog) and Martha (@mburtis), have gone missing in Minecraft. News is sketchy at this point, but it would appear that they vanished at or near the surface to a “ZoneStone Mine” at the border between our world and that of Minecraft, during a series of explosions at or about 19:20 EDT on July 30th. If you have not yet seen it, you may wish to view the news video feed embedded at the bottom of this post. (Caution: May upset some viewers.)

We are marshalling support for our colleagues at this moment. If you can provide assistance of any kind, please add your information to this form.

We are all hoping for the safe and soon return of our beloved friends.

The following news feed provides further details surrounding the disappearance of Alan and Martha. (Again, some images may be disturbing.)

We will be using the tag #106lostinminecraft in aid of the search proceedings.

12:03 PM July 31st Update: Close viewing of this artifact seems to reveal a number of “loops” in the video feed, frequently accompanied by an out-of-sync audio commentary. In the simplest explanation, it may be that our colleagues were somehow spirited away PRIOR to the apparent explosion, and their likenesses remained visible due to the re-played images. In a more chilling, yet possible explanation, Alan and Martha may have been caught within some kind of “Moebius effect,” often implicated within looping or repeating instances of time.

The Moebius Reflux Wave by <a href="">Stamp</a>

The Moebius Reflux Wave majestically sweeping over and returning Earth home. by Stamp

Solving the Mysteries of Camp

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I finished this just before I had to leave for the airport and can’t find the embed on my phone. Hope you can see it here anyway:

It was very rewarding to make!

Reflection coming soon…

Is Everything Good a Remix?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

So you want to be creative?

1. Copy
2. Tinker
3. Combine

In part 3 of Everything Is a Remix: Elements of Creativity, Kirby Ferguson states that

“creativity isn’t magic. It evolves by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing material.”

He expands this idea by explaining that no one starts out original and that copying masters in order to learn isn’t a new or bad thing. Emulation allows you to get to know and understand the art form. After that you can tinker with it and create variations to come up with something completely new. You can them combine the variations with something else to create something unique and original.

In part 2 of Everything Is a Remix: Remix Inc. Kirby Ferguson proclaims that most box-office hits rely heavily on existing material.

By way of example, any spaghetti western takes the standard elements of a western and appropriates them, transforms them or subverts them.

According to SG Newwave, the West­ern began in the 1800′s as tales from the frontier (e.g. The Last of the Mohicans) which were later turned into movies. The plot of American Westerns usually consisted of a town in the American west being ter­ror­ized by a group of ban­dits until a nomadic gun­slinger came to their res­cue. It ended predictably with a show­down between the pro­tag­o­nist and the antag­o­nist and good triumphing over evil. In most Westerns, Native Americans were generally depicted as savages. The first and old­est American Western film was the 10-minute silent film, The Great Train Robbery from 1903 (turn down the sound).

Spaghetti Westerns got their name because they were westerns made in Italy and some of the first were directed by Sergio Leone. According to swdb,  spaghetti westerns usually have an American-Mexican border setting and boorishly feature loud and sadistic Mexican bandits coming up against heroes with unusual names (e.g. Sartana, Sabata, or Django). Unlike traditional American Westerns, the story lines usually feature Gringos and Mexicans, but rarely Native Americans.

Posters to Wikipedia shared that

the Spaghetti Western stars a ragged, laconic hero with superhuman weapon skill who joins an outlaw gang to further his own, secret agenda. There is usually a flamboyant Mexican bandit and a grumpy old man who serves as sidekick for the hero. For love interest, rancher’s daughters, school marms and bar room maidens were overshadowed by young Latin women (sometimes mothers) desired by dangerous men. The terror of the villains against their defenseless victims became ruthless and their brutalization of the hero when his treachery is disclosed became just as merciless, or more – just like the cunning used to secure the latter’s retribution.

Since these films were not originally made in the USA, the morality of the American west was less clear-cut than in American Westerns. According to Fistful of Westerns, many of the heroes of the Spaghetti Western are in fact ‘anti-heroes’ and it is not uncommon for the all the principle characters to be killed off by the end of the movie. As such, Spaghetti Westerns tend to be more violent than traditional American Westerns and several of the original met with censorship problems upon their release in the 1960s causing them to be cut or even banned in certain markets. Given their origin in a strongly Catholic society, it is perhaps not surprising these Spaghetti Westerns were also often rich in religious allegory.

In terms of cinematography, Marylin Wong explains on SG Newwave that Leone’s so-called Spaghetti Westerns were characterized by long takes, extreme wide shots, extreme close-ups and com­po­si­tion in depth. The long takes with moments of silence and still­ness brought about both a slow rhythm and empha­sized the inten­sity of particular scenes. This “calm before the storm” long shot and silence worked effec­tively in stand­offs as it allowed the audi­ence to either admire the beautifully shot scenery, pay close atten­tion to the character’s body lan­guage or, rel­ish in the music play­ing in the back­ground. In addition, as in American Westerns, there was a recur­rent use of close-ups. Extreme close-ups were able to cap­ture the slight­est move­ment of the face and eyes and, thus, get into the mind of the char­ac­ters. Leone would cut from an extreme wide shot of the desert and jump right into an extreme close-up of the character’s eyes. In addition, he would make use of “com­po­si­tion in depth” by filming trains along the same axis as the train runs or showdowns by looking over the shoulder of one of the participants rather than shooting from the side. This provided a more 3-dimensional look to 2-dimensional film and allowed the audience to feel more as though they were part of the action.

Extreme wide shot

Extreme Close up

Composition in depth

Despite this, according to Swdb, Spaghetti Westerns tend to be more action oriented than their American counterparts. Dialogue is sparse and some critics have believe that they were originally constructed more as operas, using the music as an illustrative ingredient of the narrative. Ennio Morricone worked closely with Leone to compose music that was as unusual as the visuals. Not only did he use instruments like the trumpet, the harp or the electric guitar, he also added whistle, cracking whips and gunshots. Marilyn Wong adds that since Morricone per­son­alized each character’s theme music, occa­sion­ally alter­ing it to reflect the change in char­ac­ter or emo­tions, Leone ensured that the dia­logue and music wouldn’t overlap each other. This allowed the audi­ence to fully appre­ci­ate Morricone’s music and further build tension. Some say he was a key factor in the genre’s success.

As Marilyn Wong also points out, Leone took the traditional American Western plots and infused his own style into it, cre­at­ing a seem­ingly new and unique prod­uct. This cycle of reinvention continues.

In an interview with Quentin Tarantino that I watched on YouTube a few weeks ago (but can’t currently find) he said the best preparation for making movies is to watch a lot of movies. I suspect that he has spent many hours copying the work of masters (or at least looking at their work and dissecting it), transforming it and combining it. In my opinion, he is shockingly adept at fusing modern storylines with traditional genres and this it makes for some very good movies. In his films, he tends to stick to a specific genre or sub-genre but with very unlikely settings or very unlikely characters. I am looking forward to his upcoming spaghetti western about American slavery.

All this seems to uphold Kirby Ferguson’s hypothesis that everything is a remix but it also made me wonder if the converse is true…

Do non-hits also rely on existing structures or formulae or are they not commercial successes, at least in part, because they are not based on story-telling narratives that have stood the test of time?

Yesterday I had a chance to attend Elliot Grove’s Saturday Film School through Raindance Canada and he was certainly of the belief that without a good story, you have nothing. He illustrated that point by showing 15 second videos created with cell phones that were still effective because they told a good story. I need to remember that the next time I post a video!

I wonder, are there still stories left to be told? How did the structures we keep going back to come about? Can new structures be developed that others will emulate?

In the meantime, keep copying, tinkering and remixing. It leads to come great stuff!

Design Assignment: Hark! A Tapestry!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Tell a Tale on a Tapestry: Go to Bildwirkerey von Bayeuxbe at , where you will find the “Historic Tale Constrvction Cit”, a web-based app inspired by the Tapestry of Bayeux. Follow the directions to create your own tapestry, then be sure to share it with us!

I found the “Historic Tale Constrvtion Cit” at Bildwirkerey von Bayeux while doing some Tumblr surfing. It’s funny what you can find on the Internet when you’re not even trying.

The Cit you find at the site is actually a reproduction of a defunct web app created by two German students, Karnebogen and Jungbluth, using Flash. The app was apparently an early source on the Internet for memes.

The Cit was rebuilt in 2011 by Johannes Jander using HTML and Javascript. I dub him an Honorary D106 Internaut for his initiative in preserving a cool and unique piece of Internet history that otherwise might have passed some of us younger users by.

What happens where there is time

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Camp Magic Macguffin is the summer version of DS106, a digital storytelling class from the University of Mary Washington.  It’s given me a lot to think about in regards to the way I consume tv, movies, books, and music.  It’s given me a lot to think about in regards to communicating.  It’s also why I’m here.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the “domain of one’s own” philosophy and digital identity.  Do I have anything eloquent to say concerning the ownership of one’s digital identity?  Not yet, but those thoughts are taking shape.  Right now I’m interested in figuring out how things work and taking back a little control.

Had I not bumped into Camp Magic Macguffin back in May, I would’ve spent some time this summer researching comic books and working on the section of senior seminar I’ll be teaching in the spring.  The senior seminar class focuses on the DIY/Maker ethos in politics, music, art, technology, education, etc.  It’s pretty exciting.  I’m hoping the kids will be just as enthusiastic about it.

Summer.  It’s been a season for kicking around the parks with Joe, visiting the butterfly exhibit at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, grabbing the occasional ice-cream at Bev’s in Carytown.  It’s been a season for exploring creativity and tools for creation and interesting subjects like comic books and the maker movement.  It’s been day after day of unstructured time.  Time.  That’s a wonderful thing to have.

related reading: “Time for Students” by Jason Markey (tweeted by Helen Keegan — @heloukee)

Representing flight

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I took liberties with today’s Daily Create (tdc192):

Superman - Japoteurs

No rules, right?  Also, I misread (or didn’t read) the DC directions.

Also, I haven’t sorted out my .gif/Wordpress issues, so you have to click on the image to see it move.  Sorry.  Maybe that’s a project for tomorrow.

Representing the concept of flight through cartoons… So I found this old Superman cartoon at  I selected a small section and turned it into an animated .gif.  Only I can’t really tell that it’s an animated .gif.  Probably should’ve just trimmed the 10 seconds or so of the cartoon I used and uploaded that for the daily create.  Dumb, Barker.  Dumb.  Oh well.

7-day Daily Create Mash-up

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

About a week ago, I resolved to do some of the Daily-Creates for ds106. In perfect “make a resolution” style, I promptly failed and didn’t complete the first one on July 9! I was able to do the second and then in my Tweetstream I saw:

Now that I had started I surely couldn’t stop… So, for the past 7 days I have completed the Daily Creates. Most have taken me longer than the suggested 15-20 minutes (usually due to some random software issue or life just calling me to do other things…) However, all have been rewarding in some way and I am going to make it my goal to complete each day’s throughout the rest of my summer (except when I am travelling).

Truth be told I had forgotten that there was also a component to link them all together at the end of the week. Here they are, my 7 Daily-Creates linked into one story.

Take 1: My own work

I went outside to cut some herbs for dinner.

Herbs Not Humans

The weather forecast mentioned a risk of tornadoes and, when I looked at the dark sky, all I could think was “there’s no place like home”.
There's No Place Like Home

Thankfully, the threatening weather passed and all I could see was a single cloud that looked a bit like a horse.

When I returned to the house, the phone rang. On the other end of the line was an annoying telemarketer.

The only way to react to this was to use their own energy against them, like in karate.

I remember a time before all these impersonal robocalls.

But I certainly wouldn’t give up my iPhone that lets me take photos, make videos, draw, edit photos, record

All kickstarted thanks to ds106

Click image for ds106 logo
Anyone know how I can embed just a part of a video here???

The original work can be found here:

184 cloud photo (horse in the sky)
185 Tornado drawing (Wizard of Oz)
186 No human artifacts photo (herbs)
187 Cable 106 video (ds106 logo, keynote about UK)
188 Annoying telemarketing call (salesperson)
189 Tech you can’t live without video (old tech)
190 Flip the decibels (karate)

Now to mash-up the work of others as part of the Week 9 ds106 Assignments.

Bad parenting* (or how I got to watch great movies as a kid)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

When I think back to my childhood, I think about ice-cream sandwiches, playing Barbies, hours of swimming with my cousins, making clubhouses in a copse of spindly trees, the babysitter asking me if it was ok for her to smoke in the house (turns out it wasn’t), and watching some great, but entirely inappropriate, movies.  In my early years of elementary school I was watching Jaws, Halloween, and The Shining.  I discussed the merits of Nightmare on Elm Street on the school bus.  Jesus, was I eight-years-old when that came out in 1984?  I definitely didn’t see it in the theater, so maybe I was 9 or 10.  My point is that I was young.

It’s not like I was sneaking around to watch these movies.  My parents knew that my sister and I watched horror films.  My cousins’ parents knew what they were watching too.  It was all perfectly fine as long as we didn’t have nightmares.  It may sound like a totally insane parenting philosophy, but I’m thankful that I grew up that way.  There wasn’t a lot of parental oversight when it came to what I watched, read, or listened to.  If something made me uncomfortable, I stopped watching.  If a book was over my head, it was probably boring, so I stopped reading.  I appreciate that autonomy, and hope I can raise my son with some modified version of that.  I think I’d like to have more open discussion concerning the media and art he brings home when the time comes.

So here’s a short video on three movies that impacted the most.  They should’ve been terrifying.  They should’ve left me afraid of the ocean and afraid of the boogeyman, instead I’m left with some unforgettable memories of growing up free range with my sister and cousins.

* For the record, I don’t really think that my parents’ choice to let me watch these movies was bad parenting.  I think I turned out ok in the end.

In Praise of External Challenges

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

I have to say that when I saw today’s Daily Create I wasn’t thrilled.

Make an annoying 30 second pre-recorded telemarketing call.

It didn’t sound like something fun to do so I put it off for most of the day. Without Cogdog’s Seven Day Challenge for the Daily Creates, I may well have skipped this. However, since had already completed the first few challenges I figured that I should continue…

I know that editing is everything and that I went on for way too long but so do the telemarketers! I ended up enjoying this process much more than I thought that I would. Thanks CogDog for the challenge.

How I Did It

I wondered if anyone had created a real script for telemarketers to use. Indeed, existed. As I have experienced, they recommended using the callee’s name repeatedly, building a personal connection and, of course, explaining why they are so awesome.

I also found that the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecomunications Commission (CRTC) listed some common telemarketing scams.

Armed with this knowledge it took just a few minutes to write an annoying telemarketing script on my iPad. I thought that I wuold try out one of the teleprompter apps I had downloaded a while back but didn’t like them at all. I found another free one (Listec Promptware Plus) that allowed me to easily see my script while recording.

I did my recording in Audacity and added a fog horn from iLife.

I uploaded my final version to Soundcloud and created a quick image using Microsoft Word clip art and cruise ship from Bret Arnett’s photostream to accompany it.

Within minutes my Soundcloud was spammed with a comment – kind of funny given the topic of telemarketing and unsolicited information!!

Using Keynote to Make a Movie

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

I never intended for this to take as long as it did… those are turning out to be famous last words here in my summer of ds106.

As explained in the video description, The Daily Create #187 said:

Make a video of what is playing on channel 106 on your cable (or make it up).

Rather than completely make it up, I was inspired by a tweet I received this morning about a video posted to YouTube by CGP Grey

I have been wanting to make a video that explains something and this one was great! I wondered if Keynote could be used to create the bulk of a video like that so I tried it out with this one.

It’s not perfect and for some reason I couldn’t add any photos when I exported it to iMovie but I liked some parts of it (particularly the rotating ds106). It was an interesting experiment that was far more time-consuming than anticipated. Maybe it should be worth some visualassignment points!

How I Did It

1. Created slideshow with Keynote

The actions proved to be useful for video.
Don’t forget that you can order animations by opening the drawer.

2. Exported to QuickTime

3. Imported to iMovie

4. Split in a few places

5. Added beginning of CGP Grey’s video about The Difference between the UK, Great Britain and England

6. Added iLife sound effects, Hallelujah chorus and text