Persuasive / Documentary Video (about humanity and technology)

For your final media project, you will create a new media text that  engages some aspect of the question of what it means to be human in the contemporary digital age. In particular, your project will be a kind of critical or creative response to one of the key humanistic questions we have been discussing throughout this course:

1) How are digital technologies influencing the ways in which we understand our bodies, our identities, and our social relationships?
2) What are the relationships between “old” media and “new” media?
3) How are emerging digital technologies transforming the production and reception of “literature” and “art”?
4) What are the ethical and political implications of such new technologies as online video sharing sites and web-based databases?
5) How do communication technologies influence the social construction of gender, race, class, sexuality, and/or disability?

You will have the option to work individually or to collaborate with up to four people in class on this project. In composing your project, you must follow the requirements of one of the two options below.

Option One: Persuasive / Documentary Video

For this option, you will compose a 3-7 minute video that makes a scholarly argument about how particular technologies (or forms of media) are transforming our understanding of what it means to be human (e.g. how we communicate, how we act politically, how we interact with people, how we conceptualize our bodies and our identities). For example, you might focus on how internet technologies are influencing political action, or how social networking sites are transforming relationships, or how videogames are influencing education (to name but a few possibilities). Your video or slidecast will almost certainly contain some still images, titles and voiceover. It will also likely include some video footage that you either shoot yourself or sample/harvest from the web (following fair use guidelines).  In many ways, a good model for the video would be Michael Wesch’s Anthropological Introduction to YouTube–a text which carefully combines spoken voice and visual images in order to make a persuasive and focused argument about how a particular kind of new media is influencing social relationships.

In order to develop a unique angle on your chosen topic, you will conduct multiple kinds of research. For example,  you will need to search library databases and public internet sites for sources relevant to your chosen area of inquiry. In some cases, you may also want to conduct interviews with people about your topic. If you choose to employ interview footage in your video, you must ask your interviewees to to give you permission to include their interviews in a video to be published to the world wide web.

Option Two: Creative New Media Project

For this option, you will compose a creative new media work that has been inspired (at least in part) by one of the works of digital art, electronic literature or theory that we have read/viewed in class.  In this case, the choice of medium / software will be up to you–though your ultimate effort should be equivalent to what would be required for option one. Your creative new media piece will need to seriously engage some aspect of the question of “what it means to be human,” but it doesn’t necessarily have to have a clear “thesis” in the way a persuasive/documentary video would. If you choose the option, we should plan to schedule a meeting before the alpha draft is due to work out the details. 

Project Proposal: Due 4/10 (20 points)

In your project proposal (at least 400 words posted to your blog), you will describe the critical or creative media work that you intend to compose (following the requirements of option one or of option two). In your proposal, you should discuss the following questions:
1) How will your new media work address some aspect of the question of what it means to be human in the contemporary digital age? In other words, how will your video, slidecast, or other new media text critically and/or creatively engage with the key concerns, questions, and issues that we have addressed in this class?
2) How are you developing a unique angle on your topic / question? How will your critical or creative work be different from what already exists on the web?
3) What software will you use to complete your project? What (if anything) do you still need to learn about this software and how will you learn it?
4) What ethical concerns might you encounter in composing your project (e.g. intellectual property, representation of other people) and how will you address these concerns?
5) What research have you conducted about your topic (library, web, or person-based) and how will you draw on this research in your work?
6) Who is your intended audience and how do you want them to think/feel/act differently after they view your work?

Alpha Draft: Due  4/12 (15 points)

For your alpha draft, you need to come with a very rough draft–a kind of “proof of concept” of your project. To receive credit for the alpha draft, you need to have at least 3o seconds of video (or equivalent) that has been thoughtfully edited.

Beta Draft: Due 4/17, 4/19, or 4/24 depending on when you sign up (40 points)

Your beta draft (worth 40 points) must include at least three minutes of carefully edited video (or equivalent). It can still be rough in a few places, but it needs to be complete enough and polished enough for both me and your peers to offer you detailed feedback about it. Your beta draft will also be accompanied by a reflection (at least 300 words) in which you discuss your process and offer a rationale for your work. Some questions to consider in this reflection: What kind of feedback would be most helpful to you at this point?What is your rhetorical purpose or goal in composing this text and who is your audience? What is working well and your project and what do you still need to improve or add? Why have you selected and arranged your words, images, and sounds in order to convey a particular message or provoke a particular reaction from your audience? 

Final Creative Media Project and Reflection: Due 5/1 (200 pts)

During the exam period, you will present your final media project and also turn a reflective essay (at least 750 words) in which you discuss your process and offer a rationale for your work. Some questions you should address include:

1) What is your rhetorical purpose in composing this text and who is your intended audience?
2) How is your project critically engaging key concepts / questions about the relationship between humans and technology that we have covered in class?
3) How have you strategically selected and arranged words, images, and sounds in order to convey a particular argument or message? (give specific examples of particular rhetorical choices you made)
4) Have you included any copyrighted images or sounds in your work? If so, how can you justify your work as falling under the fair use criteria outlined by the center for social media, “Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video”?
5) What revisions did you make to this project based on feedback from peers and/or the instructor? What would you still like to change if you had more time?
6) What are the three most important things you have learned in this class (from this project or from other activities)?

Criteria for Evaluation

Successful projects will:

  • Exhibit  a well defined sense of audience and rhetorical purpose.
  • Offer a novel argument or  point of view about the relationship between humans and technology, pushing beyond the common wisdom and advancing the conversation.
  • Demonstrate rhetorically effective and purposeful arrangement of modalities (e.g. still images, moving images, voiceover narration, text, music of atmospheric sound)
  • Exhibit careful attention to the craft of video editing (ensuring that all layers / modalities are carefully choreographed and timed in order to achieve the rhetorical purpose).
  • Cite sources in credits for all images and sounds created by others, adhering to the Center for Social Media’s Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video
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