Tag Archives: Opinion

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.

IM2.2

Integrated Media 2.2 ie. the second time I attempt to complete this course. I found it quite enjoyable last year, and only failed because I didn’t actually complete the report. The only thing that’s changed from last year to this is that the report part of the assessment is now also group and not individual.  So I’m not likely to fail again, considering how seriously I take group assessment. Yay!

When I say that it’s the only thing that’s changed, I’m not kidding though. The lecture content and assessment so far are all exactly the same (to the point where the introductory blog post about the lecture still states that the report is individual assessment… copy-paste). It’s okay though, the reason I didn’t complete the report last year is because I got to the end of the semester and realised that it would be very difficult to write a report when I hadn’t been keeping up with the theory all semester. So I made myself retake the course so I could actually learn the things I was supposed to be learning last year.

I realised that I needed something to remind me of that, a motto or a phrase, so that when I find myself tuning out because I’ve heard it before, I can remind myself to tune back in and learn. I noticed that in the job descriptions of SMPs (Social Media Producers) that Seth showed us in the lecture, a lot of them required evidence or proof that you actually know your way around a social media network. So I’m going to think of this course as helping me build some portfolio appropriate content. I’ll work out how to turn that into a motto if I need it later…

I’ve started brainstorming ideas for the event assessment already. I feel like having done this part of the course before is a huge advantage, and won’t bore me because we’ll be planning and executing a different event. It might even be more interesting this time around to make comparisons etc.

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.

Save Me!

Can I ask you something? When was the last time you used a floppy disk? Oh, you can’t remember that far back? Well how about this question, when was the last time you needed to save a file that would fit on a floppy disk (264kB)?

I can’t remember either. Actually, that’s a lie. My essays in their .doc format would fit on a floppy disk, maybe up to ten or eleven of them. Or just one if I convert the file to a .pdf, but none of my other work for uni would fit. My sound files? Not a chance. The videos I filmed for our next k-film? Ha! A single photograph taken with my DSLR? Not even close!

In fact, I remember when floppy disk drives became outdated and suddenly buying a computer with one in it became impossible. I remember this only because at the time my mother had an embroidery machine that could read patterns off a floppy disk and we had to use a very old (and very slow) computer to transfer the files onto the disks because none of our new ones had the drive for it!

So, when was the last time you saw a floppy disk? Or, say, an image of a floppy disk?

Save Me!

I saw five today. Five different ones (all the Microsoft ones look the same) I should say, I probably encountered about 7-8 all up.

The image of the floppy disk is synonymous with the ‘save’ button, and clicking that little outdated piece of storage hardware will ensure your work doesn’t disappear if you computer suddenly crashes.

It’s definitely a skeuomorph, but I don’t think there’s any harm in it. It’s just something that I noticed today and wanted to share.

And really, aren’t they just a little bit cute?

Many Floppy Disks Save Work

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.

Lecture Notes- IM1 Week 4

This week’s lecture was question based. My favourite question was asked by Pete who wrote: “A friend of mine is debating internally whether this is an Arts course or not? How do you define the difference between an Arts degree and a Communication degree?”

The friend was me (despite the doctor jokes that were made during the lecture!). I have, for most of this semester now, been worried that I’m stuck in an Arts degree that’s masquerading as a Communication degree. Not helped by the fact that I’m studying modernist literature and post-modern philosophy. This worry was not assuaged when Adrian said, “You are in an arts course” followed shortly with, “It is an Arts degree”.

But! But, Adrian then went on to tell us that the difference between an Arts degree and a Communication degree is that a comms degree is much more constrained, more focused. And we talked about going into professional landscapes that are not causal, but are full of what-if?s and how-about?s and maybe?s. I think a more artsy style of degree will help me navigate such a professional landscape much more effectively than if I was studying a plainer, comms style degree.

So I feel better about being an Arts student now. Hurrah!

More interesting notes that I took from the lecture:

  • “We are now living in an environment of everyday media.”
  • This course is focused on getting us to become “network literate”.
  • Media is the new black (or the new engineering) – it’s the industry that’ll be running the world sooner rather than later… perhaps it already is. “It’s all media”.
  • “The ability to earn an income from your professional practice is declining.” The problem is “how do I get people to pay me to make stuff?”

photo (11)

iPads are changing the way that media is consumed. It’s no longer the “spectacle” that cinema is, and it’s not the social activity that watching TV is, it’s something more like a novel, more personal, more intimate…

Finally, a note on stories. The web, according to Adrian, is not about story telling. He says there is no story in twitter, or on a blog. He wants us to move away from the hegemony of narrative because media can be other (remember week 1? Dirty, messy noisy, other?). There are other ways of making that make sense and meaning that don’t require narrative.

Windows and Glass

Today, in my Literature course (LANG1006 Literary Realism to Post-Modernism) we discussed narrative styles. We came to the analogy of a window. Naturalist narrative is like the glass in a window pane, you look through it to see what’s happening on the other side, but you don’t pay attention to the glass itself, in fact you rarely notice it unless you’re looking. On the flip side, Modernist authors are trying to stain the glass so that when you look through, you have to notice the glass as well, and the glass taints the view of what we are looking through to.

How can we think of this in terms of media making? It can be linked to the ideas in yesterday’s Integrated Media lecture about being aware as we create. Unaware media practitioners (or naive creators) make things using plain glass window panes, because that’s what they know how to use and it’s unobtrusive. Aware, sophisticated media practitioners can make use of the availability of stains to add to the glass, drastically changing the way their work is viewed. However, aware creators can also choose to create with plain glass, if they know that will be the best way to convey their message.

Perhaps I’ve taken this metaphor too literally, but I quite like it. It can even be taken further in terms of media once you start thinking of what the window frame might be made of, or what room the window is in, or what direction it’s facing, or whether the window itself is the subject when lit from the inside and viewed or experienced from the outside.

Perhaps the window is merely a window and the subjects/participants/viewers/collaborators can view themselves/each other from the inside and the outside.

So here’s my little bit of food for thought, what does your window look like and how does that impact your work? And for extra credit, what would happen if that window was altered…?

Broken window frame
Source: Eva the Weaver on Flickr

A Word About Fonts

I was never really interested in fonts, and to be honest, I still don’t get super excited by the thought of them. However, I do find the debate behind the use of fonts interesting, especially the use of Comic Sans.

Early in highschool, I discovered the joys of instant messaging and joined my friends online for almost nightly chats. Using MSN Messenger, I was able to control what font and colour my messages appeared in and my choice for many years was Comic Sans MS in bold and purple.

I stopped using Comic Sans when the IM trend died down (thank-you Facebook) and haven’t really thought about it since. Until, that is, I read a rant about the misuse of Comic Sans everyday courtesy of an interesting tweet I spied.

What I didn’t know when I clicked that first interesting tweet was that I was about to stumble into the dark and confusing world of font wars. A world where people either loved or loathed Comic Sans and vicious arguments were had over the font choices you made.

Okay, it wasn’t as scary and serious as all that. But it was confusing. I didn’t understand why Comic Sans was so hated. And then I was sucked in. I found this really helpful article that explained the background of the Comic Sans hate and in turn was pointed in the direction of this website dedicated to banning Comic Sans.

I am now one of the thousands (millions?) of people who hate Comic Sans. And I will judge you if you use it inappropriately (ie. ever).

I don’t want to end this post on a negative note, and I don’t want to appear one sided so I’ll leave you with this final link. A piece written by Mike Lacher as Comic Sans rebuttal toward all the hate (NSFW- strong language). You’re welcome.