Tag Archives: Writing

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.

Lecture Notes- IM 1 Week 12

The final week. The summary (?). The end of the road to which we held no map.

Well, not really. Integrated Media One (Won) is not really the kind of subject that has an ending and only in retrospect can I say what we travelled along was a road of any kind. We meandered through a thick web of information, theories and practice only to find at the end we’d been searching for something that doesn’t need to exist (closure). We can trace the path backwards, but it won’t shed the light on the way forward.

Future.

The future is shaped like this:

photo 1 (1)

Which basically means that I can be fairly sure of where I’ll be in one hour from now (still in front of this laptop, but working on an essay instead of a blog). It means I can be pretty sure of where I’ll be in one week from now, less sure of where I’ll be in one year from now etcetera and by the time we get as far out as five or ten years into the future, the possibilities are so wide it can be very difficult to know which point we will be standing at.

It’s sort of like a Korsakow film. When the film begins, the viewer knows they are at the “start SNU” (if one has been set I suppose), but as the film progresses, the choices for how it ends become wider and wider depending on the path they take. And that ‘path’ will change for each view or viewer. Old media is similar, a cinematic film for example has all these options, but the options are only available to the editor who then chooses which ‘path’ they want to give the audience who have no choice in the path they take.

k future

The digital revolution’s already happened. Its not about the digital any more, its about the network. We have to stop thinking in terms of ‘audience’ and start thinking instead of ‘communities of users’ who will interact with out work (whatever that work may be five years from now).

Adrian urges us to do things differently, in a way that makes a difference. “You create the industry,” he threatens (and promises). What a magnificent way to end the semester that began with “do cool things“.

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.

Ebooks

Ebooks are great, but I’m not throwing out my bookshelf anytime soon. I think this is a sentiment echoed by rational people the whole globe over. And I don’t want to write a blog post about how great ebooks are or how they spell the end of the world for the book industry. Instead I’m going to talk about an ebook I made once and what I learnt from the process. Ha.

So, in 2011, I needed a bit of extra money to fund a trip overseas to visit my family. I decided to create and publish an ebook to sell online to help me raise the extra money I needed. In the process convinced myself I could now be called a published writer. Not bad for the ego. Anyway.

So the book I made was a recipe book. And instead of typing it up and adding in a few pictures, I decided to paint and hand draw/write the entire thing and then photoshop it all into a pdf document. PDF documents are really useful for ebooks because they’ll work on any ebook device (eg Kindle, Nook, smartphones) without having to reformat the book for each device it will be used on. The draw backs of making it in a pdf format include limited search function (especially because mine were all converted .jpegs and had no searchable text) and the inability to reformat it to suite particular devices.

Next, marketing and selling. I chose to set up a simple eshop on my own website and promote my book to my blog followers and through Twitter, Facebook and a few forums. It didn’t work very well for me due to the following combination:

  • Priced too high (no-one wants to pay $15 for an ebook these days, unless you’re a famous author and you can get away with it)
  • Not enough blog followers/twitter followers
  • Didn’t build blog following to the right niche of customers
  • Didn’t really have a marketing strategy in place, just sort of winged it.

Any of these factors alone might not have impacted sales so much, but all together and I was destined for a bit of a flop. But that’s okay, I learnt from the whole experience! Next time it might be worth investing in multiple file formats and an account on Amazon from which to launch the book as well.

I’d like to make another ebook sometime next year but as yet I’m not sure what I’d like to make. Perhaps a follow up recipe book, perhaps something entirely different. But I know that if I do make one, I’ll be able to apply the lessons learnt from my last foray into the world of ebooks and self publishing, to create a better, more successful product.

Oh, and if you want a copy of the book, I’ll let you have it for free(!), just click here.