Tag Archives: Assessment

How to Start Your Own Cult in 7 Easy Steps- Response

The following blog post is my response to an article How to Start Your Own Cult in 7 Easy Steps, which was written by Steve Mason for Huffington Post. Due to copyright on the original post, only small excerpts have been included here for context. Excerpts are in italics and 72 out of 839 words were used, less than 10% . To fully understand my responses, please read the whole article, and importantly the seven steps at the bottom of the article.

Here are Steve’s seven steps to start your own cult, and my responses to them in regards to our own cult-like social media campaign and event.

1) Begin by creating your own reality.

We can easily create our own reality (Fuji the wise tells us that bananas are the key to greatness) but we can’t reasonably keep our members away from outsiders. We could impose a self-censorship such as avoiding oranges or pears (any fruit that’s not a banana).

2) Next set the leader and his/her inner circle up as the only link to paradise… only they hold the keys to the kingdom.

Too easy. Fuji is the leader, his word is law. We six are the inner circle, his trusted advisors and the only link members have to the great Fuji himself. Only we can pass on Fuji’s wisdom for a great life. More practically, only we can organise and give the information on how to set the world record that we intend to set.

3) …Make increasing demands.

Increasing demands? Yes! Start small, asking people to submit photos of stuff #withabanana and increase it slowly to include following the manifesto (eg. members must eat bananas for breakfast, members must take a banana on a walk, etc), more than just taking a photo with a banana. Leads up to #7- dangling the carrot, read below.

4) Keep turning out stories about the greatness of the leader.

I imagine we’ll be doing this mostly on the blog, with excerpts and links posting to our other accounts such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Photoshop and creative writing will be our main friends here. We can tell stories of adventures the Fuji went on what what enlightenment he gained from said adventures.

5) Remember to use your converts to bring in still more converts.

This will be key for us, encouraging our followers to share our pages and get us more followers. I think the silliness of our theme will help bring people on board this particular crazy train.

6) Keep everybody busy.

We intend on keeping everybody busy, not with hard labour, but with silly tasks. Taking banana selfies, eating bananas, talking to bananas, sharing our pages, encouraging more fans and followers of Fuji #withabanana. We could incorporate singing, in the form of the ba-na-na-na-na-naaaa song (make your body sing!) but we’d have to be careful of copyright infringement here. We could possibly invent our own song.

7) And finally, keep your flock fixated on the carrot.

The carrot here being Breaking A World Record, not Heaven or an Afterlife. And in a literal sense, only our followers will benefit from breaking this world record, they will literally be the ones doing it and getting the recognition. Speaking of recognition, perhaps we should think about setting up a page on the cult website after the event and list the names of everyone who participated? As a sort of Great Thank-you from Fuji Himself.

On switching off

My dad has this question that he rhetorically throws around whenever he’s with company and someone ask a Google question (for example, what’s the third flavour in a B52 shot?). He says “Oh gee, if only one of us had a small computer like device that we could carry around in our pockets that has access to all of the answers in the world…” and then inevitably pulls out his phone and Googles the question.

What I’m trying to say is that sometimes phones are great devices that can help out in certain social situations. For example a trivia question argument between two friends, or letting someone know you’re lost or running late.

Sometimes though, phones and friends don’t mix. I’ve heard that some people have a rule when they go out to eat with friends, that everybody places their phone face-down on the end of the table and the first person to pick up their phone to check it, also picks up the entire bill. Not a bad rule, but the fact that it exists surely reflects something about our society.

For our IRL 2013 event, we thought it might be difficult to ask people to actually switch off their phones for an hour and a half. I framed that time by suggestion to the planning team that it’s the same length as a short movie, and most people can go that long without checking their phone (although I know I am guilty of taking a phone call mid-movie, only once and I left the theatre, but still…). We were so worried about having to control the no-mobile-phone rule during the event that we even considered making one person the anti-phone police for the event.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that. In fact, we actually forgot to get everyone to turn their phones off at the beginning of the event! The switching phones off video that you can see here is totally staged. It happened right at the end of the event, and if you look closely, you can even tell that some of the phones weren’t actually turned off, just the screens switched to blank!

What I thought was amazing was that even though we all had out phones in our bags or pockets, not one person even peeked at their screen during the event. Nobody was tempted to check what was happening online because we were all too busy enjoy ourselves in the moment.

I think it helped that we didn’t all know each other too well. It’s easy to be rude in front of friend you know well, as you’d expect their forgiveness and even their understanding. With strangers you don’t know what to expect. I also think it helped that we had a lot of activities planned, and there was no down-time where people were wandering around wondering what to do. Boredom very quickly leads to checking your phone, seeing if maybe there’s something better happening somewhere else.

On not sticking to the timetable

Oh plans, how I love to make plans. I often don’t stick to them though, and in the heat of the moment, plans that don’t have flexibility will break or crack. Thankfully our plan for the IRL event was super flexible. We allocated one person to be the “MC” so to speak, to run the show, ne person to record audio, one person to record video and still images and the others to help the games and activities run smoothly. We had a timetable planned out:

 

But on the day, we went with an order that made more sense to us. I was the “MC” in charge on the day (a role I always seem to snatch up) so I just went with my gut on what we should do. We started with the pledges, partly as a mini ice-breaker, and mostly so that we wouldn’t forget to do them at the end of the day. After that we went straight into the egg and spoon race, because everyone was a little chilly and we needed to warm up and get a bit sill with each other. We then moved on to the picnic and talking games part of the day, dropping the act and react game completely.

What surprised me about the ice-breakers and word games was how much everyone enjoyed them, even though some of them were super cheesy. We ended up playing three rounds of the spy game (aka the pen and pencil game) and even had suggestions for items from our attendees, it wasn’t all just initiated by us, which I thought was really good.

We also got so carried away by actually participating in the event, that we forgot to ask participants to switch off their phone until the end!

I felt like having the flexibility to alter our timetable in this way made the whole day much more enjoyable. If we’d stuck to the timetable, it would have felt a lot more forced, instead the event flowed quite naturally.

Hot Chocolate on Soy

I’ve decided to start collating my favourite essays (and other written works) here on my blog. You can find them in the Essay page above. Here’s the first one I added, a creative response to an essay question that I wrote a few years ago.

Hot Chocolate on Soy.

This was a creative response to an essay question that I wrote for an Australian Literature course I was doing in late 2011. I have edited it to be a little longer than the original so that it incorporates some of the elements that make it flow better.

The essay question I was responding to involved looking at one of the fictions we’d studied during the semester and one of the stories/chapters from Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara in relation to this quote by Virginia Woolf: “There is much to support the view that clothes wear us and not we them; … they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.”

We had the option to write a regular essay or craft a more creative response to the topic. I chose to write a short fiction piece that’s a little more than autobiographical. The four characters are all elements of me (and not just the names) and are each wearing an actual outfit that I had indeed worn myself at some point in the 12 months prior to writing this piece.

Read the essay here and let me know your thoughts below.

Good Books

This post first appeared on Max-Gratitude.com

One of my favourite things about studying a literature course is being ‘forced’ to read books I’d otherwise not pick up. In 2011 I discovered The Lost Dog by Michelle de Krester, Metro by Alasdair Duncan, The Infernal Optimist by Linda Jaivin and Every Secret Thing by Marie Munkara. This year I’ve found  Sixty Lights by Gail Jones and In The Penal Colony by Franz Kafka (so far).

Actually, Sixty Lights is a lot like The Lost Dog. They are both written in a similar style, both feature poignant little stories/memories/descriptions of loosely related things that enrich the story being told, both feature Australia (in particular Melbourne) and India as places that drive the narrative. And I love the female protagonist in both; Lucy in Sixty Lights for her photographic way of seeing the world (both literally and metaphorically) and Nelly in The Lost Dog for her artistic approach to dressing herself and to life in general.

I’ve written an interesting fiction-non-fiction piece on The Lost Dog that I will endeavour to polish and publish here in the near future, and I’m going to write an essay on Sixty Lights in the next few weeks for assessment for my current literature subject.

Korsakow Film Reviews

I’m going to talk about four Korsakow films that popped up in my reader last week (that actually had titles!) and do a mini review of each. The point is that in watching other students’ work and identifying what I liked and what I didn’t, I’ll be able to create a better project for the second assessment. Unfortunately, two of the members of my live assessment group didn’t show up, so this is also my own kind of way of addressing what I missed out on there, which is looking at what other students have done with their k-films.

Starting with The Nature of a City (which is a really clever title once you’ve figured out the theme). What I like about Lauren’s k-film is the different interface backgrounds, I find that they help pull her overall theme together really well and make it more obvious to the viewer what direction they’re going in.  The interface is also nice and easy to navigate, and choosing the thumbnails feels almost intuitive. I also like the text she’s used because the fragments are lyrical and that makes them flow really nicely in any order that you read them in. I don’t really like to looping of the clips, but I am yet to find a k-film in which I do like the looping, so that’s probably just a personal preference.

Next is Life by Issy. First impression is the title slide? Title page? Opening credits? I’m not sure what to call this, and I didn’t know it was possible to do, but it sets the mood and theme for her k-film straight up. Wow. This k-film has one of the most creative ways of using text that I’ve seen so far. Issy combines text below the video which links to preview text on each of the thumbnails. It creates almost a mini narrative for each video, but then the “narrative” so to speak, changes once the thumbnail is clicked. Life also has a clear ending, which is nice to experience. The interface background is also fitting as it draws the theme together and presents the videos within the context of “life”. I’d say this is one of the best k-films I’ve seen so far.

Potatoes is a k-film by Elizabeth who also uses the title/credit/opening thingy, though not to any effect. Elizabeth’s interface is similar to mine, all grey scale  however her background image is really fitting. Not only does it physically fit, but it also helps create the mood for the film. The text that goes with the videos here are lines from a Sylvia Plath poem, Potatoes, which makes the haunting theme even more apparent. I will say though, that the text needed to be visually different, as I found that it tended to get lost against the background image and so I sometimes clicked onto the next clip without remembering to read the text. Perhaps a different layout would have helped with this too as my attention went from the thumbnails to the video without going above or below too much. Now, the thumbnails! They were both really cool and very frustrating. Elizabeth used the same image for all the thumbnails (a black-and-white close-up of an eye) which essentially took a lot of my choice out of the viewing experience, as the “choosing” the next clip was almost like a lucky-dip. If that was the feeling she was going for, it worked very well, but I didn’t think it actually quite fit with this project. Also, I was confused as to why some of the clips were in black and white and some in colour, I felt that if they were all in black and white the project would have been a bit more harmonious. And again, the looping clips weren’t to my personal taste, although I can see why they almost worked in this film.

Finally, Ben created Melbourne Unknown. Holy smokes, this one is scary, scary good! Not like, super scary, but I hate horror movies, and this definitely has that spooky, paranormal theme to it. It’s also, hands down, the best k-film I have seen. Ben has taken the restraints of the task and used them in unexpected ways. A good example of this is the thumbnails. Instead of square thumbnails where a detail of the next clip can be seen, Ben has made long rectangular thumbnails that stack underneath the main clip and are so zoomed in on a point of light that it’s impossible to tell what the clip is about. I hadn’t even thought to do something like that with the thumbnails! This k-film also has a clear beginning and end, even though there are many different paths to take in between. In fact, the beginning and end clip help to set the mood, theme and idea behind the k-film quite nicely. Another thing I really liked about Melbourne Unknown is how the clips ended. Each clip only played once and most of them ended by a quick pan or turn towards a bright light source, enhancing the creepy, spooky factor in the clips and giving the overall project a feeling of something outside the clips. The only thing that Ben could improve in this k-film would be the text. The choice of text was really good, but no attention was paid to how it looked visually, perhaps a change of font, size or colour is all the text needed to be taken to the next level.

So, what I took overall from these k-films is:

  • Carefully consider the interface in terms of layout, background colour, thumbnail size and text position.
  • Pick appropriate text that will create links between the videos but also be able to stand alone.
  • Push the boundaries! With text, thumbnails, interfaces and “story progression” (for lack of a better term).
  • Loop videos only if there’s a clear purpose that the viewer will understand.
  • Use title slides/opening credits to add value to the project.

Clearly the more thought that goes into a project, the better it is, and I think it clearly shows where a project has been carefully considered right from the start. Some interesting points to consider going into the second k-film project making stages.

Titles! They’re important too, remember?

My RSS reader was filled on Thursday and Friday with such exciting headlines as:
– K-film Individual Task
– IM- Assessment 1 – K-film
– Integrated Media K-film Explanation
– IM Assessment #1- Korsakow Film
– Korsakow film (with or without an ! at the end)
etc.

Haven’t we explored how useful it can be to give a title to your work guys? I remember an exercise I did in my first year of my teaching course where we had a hypothetical child in a hot air balloon and ten things they carried with them. We had to choose what to drop out of the balloon to let it rise high enough to avoid a hypothetical mountain. I don’t remember the whole list but it included food, love, water, shelter, a name etc. As first year students, the name was one of the first things we allocated to drop, but afterwards our tutor explained that experienced teachers always left the name in as long as they can, because a name is so important to a child’s sense of self.

Our projects may not be sentient (or, as Adrian would suggest, they may be) but that doesn’t mean that naming them isn’t important to their sense of identity.

Just some food for thought.

 

Mideatheire

Mideatheire is my first Korsakow project for Integrated Media 1.

I started this project by making an index card for each of my sketch tasks with the title of the task and the number of each task on it. Then I played around with different ways of sorting and connecting these tasks to each other. My first attempt at making connections sorted the films into four categories; movement, story, experiment, and short cuts. Then I linked the videos within each category and made links between the categories. I tested this as a draft Korsakow project but what I found was that I would get suck in category loops which was rather boring and there were a few videos that just kept coming up over and over (despite my limits on the links) which made the choices dull as well.

So I decided to think about it differently. I decided to think of this project like a poem. On each of my index cards, I wrote one word that described each task and linked it to a few other tasks. Then I wrote the numbers of the tasks I wanted it to link to. Some tasks linked to only three others, some linked to six or seven. My final step was to write the text that would make these links clear to the viewer of my final project. Considering the task that was to be shown, the tasks it would link to and the keyword I’d already identified, I wrote a few lines of prose on the back of each index card.

Now the project was coming together. I changed my draft project to use the new links I’d made and tested how it flowed when watched. When I was happy with that, I then put all my text links into one document so that I could see the outline of the project more clearly. That’s when I realised my subconscious self probably wants to commit suicide. Have a look at all the text as a sort of singular poem and make up your own mind…

With this slightly macabre overarching theme, I decided that I needed to make my Korsakow template reflect this bleak outlook as well, so I mixed greys and made all my thumbnails monochrome which achieved this reflection quite nicely. I debated making all the videos play in black and white as well, but not only would that take me way too much time to coordinate, I felt that the project overall needed a bit of lightness in it, and leaving the playing videos in colour made them seem more lively.  I used the template with the three thumbnails on the bottom and have placed the text in the middle because I want each element to be noticed in this order. First the video, notice what’s happening in each task, what’s the important part of it, and what speaks to the viewer? Second the text, reiterating something in the main video and providing a link to the thumbnails (and their videos) below. Third the thumbnails, notice in what ways they are the same, in what ways they are different and what links can be made between them and to the video and text above.

I’ll talk a little more about the text I have used to link the entire project together. Poetry occurred to me rather early on in the semester as a good way to link videos in a non-linear narrative because the lines of poems (especially the kind I often write) do not have to be told in a particular order for the overall message to make sense. And because I write poetry often, I knew it would be easy enough for me to come up with lines to use with this project. I didn’t expect the lines I wrote for the second draft of this project to be so perfectly able to link the first time round. But as it turns out, my subconscious is not only a fairly depressing place to be, but it’s also pretty ‘together’ so to speak, so the lines linked well right from the beginning. I did of course tweak them once I saw how they actually fitted with the videos, but it was easy to keep the theme of each line in tact.

I was wary of how I would be able to define my Korsakow project as ‘successful’ or not, what are the criteria of a successful project as compared to one that is not? For me the criteria was two main things; first, is the project something that I would enjoy and engage in as a viewer, and second, is the project something that I will be proud of telling people that I made? With Mideatheire, the answer is yes to both. My first draft of the project did not keep me engaged at all (even with the motivation of being the creator) and I was worried that I would create something that even I didn’t want to watch. However once I discovered my overarching theme, the project became inherently interesting and I wanted to test the connections and see what meaning I could make from them. I have shown versions of my second draft to my partner, a neighbour and a work colleague already and I can’t wait to share my final project with family, my social networks as well of course as my peers and teachers in Integrated Media.

The most important thing I’ve learnt in creating Mideatheire would be the importance of testing, testing, testing! In each draft I found something that wasn’t quite right, something that I could improve, change or delete entirely. Then once I’d made the change, it was important to test it again to see if it worked. The first time I thought I had fully finished my project I tested the export and found a missing thumbnail! That was a time costly mistake made only because I hadn’t properly tested my final draft export before considering it done. Testing also allowed me to constantly see the connections between my videos and discover the many, many ways they could link up, giving me a broader understanding of how other might view my work.