Prototype 1 Due: Thu., Apr. 6th, by 5 pm (category = multimedia 1)
UX Feedback/Comments due: Mon., Apr 10th before class
Prototype 2 Due: Fri., Apr. 14th, before you leave for break (category = multimedia 2)
Word Limit: 1000 words (max)
Category: multimedia

This post is a chance for you analyze how a specific form of media shapes a message, as well as to explore how your own use media affects your argument. In other words, you will learn by both analyzing and making media.

In his now famous 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLuhan argues that the media doesn’t just affect meaning, “the medium is the message” (emphasis added). In other words new technologies of media actually create new meanings by allowing new roles and modes of human association:

In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of our-selves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. Thus, with automation, for example, the new patterns of human association tend to eliminate jobs it is true. That is the negative result. Positively, automation creates roles for people, which is to say depth of involvement in their work and human association that our preceding mechanical technology had destroyed. Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and to ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out corn-flakes or Cadillacs. The restructuring of human work and association was shaped by the technique of fragmentation that is the essence of machine technology. The essence of automation technology is the opposite. It is integral and decentralist in depth, just as the machine was fragmentary, centralist, and superficial in its patterning of human relationships.

Notice how for McLuhan, the medium is the message because the medium alters relationships between people. And in altering human associations, the medium remakes communities. You can read McLuhan’s full argument here.

This assignment invites you to think about the relationship between medium and message in one of two different ways:

Option 1: Medium Analysis

Choose one of the assigned texts on the calendar under New Genres (Memes & Tumblr), Digital Poems/Games, or Cabaret (Isherwood’s stories and/or the musical). How does the medium shape the message? In what way could the medium actually be the message? How does a change in medium alter the community who receives the message? Since you are not the first person to write about the text or medium, make sure you are in conversation with another critic, scholar, or expert. Summarize that person’s position on the subject (“they say”) and then assert your own thesis (“I say”). Your thesis should go beyond the obvious or patently true, require evidence and analysis to be convincing, and provide a new insight about how the media form affects the message. Support your thesis with textual evidence from the text(s) under consideration and analysis of the evidence.

If you write about Goodbye to Berlin and/or Cabaret, consider doing a comparative media analysis. Focus on a particular character or scene and examine how they’re represented in two different media  (e.g. the book vs the Davidson production, or one of the many film versions).

If you are interested in new media, you may also choose one particular event (such as the Charlotte protests over the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott) or text (such as the photograph of Braxton Winston) and compare how the same event, image, or text is communicated on two different social media platforms (e.g. Twitter vs. Facebook) in order to make an argument about how the medium can affect the message.

Be creative in this post, incorporating media into your argument in order to illustrate your points most persuasively. This is your chance to create a multimedia post about how multiple forms of media work together or differ from one another.

Option 2: Re-Mediation & Analysis

This option invites you to be even more creative by taking a text or image and re-mediating it—that is, translating or remaking it in another medium or on another platform. For example, you might make a favorite poem into an animated video, or convert a short story into an Instagram photo story. You may also use a digital tool, like the poem generator, to transform an email message or college essay into a poem.

Once you have re-mediated a text, write a reflection essay in which you explain what you set out to do and why (750 words max). What question were you trying to answer? What goal were you trying to achieve? Then evaluate your success in answering the question and/or meeting your goal. Finally, analyze your own re-mediated text in order to explain how the new medium has altered or re-made the message. In this essay, you should get in conversation with another expert who has been writing about the same medium or question, and you should defend all your points with evidence from the text you remediate.

Comments/UX Feedback

UX design refers to the process of enhancing user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the resource. In digital design and publication, you must continually test your product on users to make sure they not only can make sense of it, but enjoy doing so. For this assignment, you will not only comment on each other’s posts, but also give UX design feedback, describing your own experience of navigating their work. What made you feel engaged? What confused you? Did you get bored or distracted? How can media be used more effectively to enhance your experience as a reader or user.

After receiving UX feedback from your classmates, you will have two workshops to work on redesigning your post/prototype in order to make your message more effective.

Multi-Mediation Rubric
  • 750 words max
  • Set up specific terms for the discussion (exposition), identifying the who, what, where, and when of the text(s) you’re analyzing.
  • Assert a clear, original intervention (thesis) in the debate.
  • Write in your own voice (except when representing other critics!).
  • Situate yourself in conversation with at least one expert by quoting and/or summarizing their positions accurately.
  • Defend your claims with specific evidence from the texts under consideration.
  • Incorporate media into your post strategically to illustrate your points and hold your readers’ attention.
  • Embed each piece of  evidence in a “sandwich,” introducing it to tell us what to look for, and following up with analysis of what we’ve just read or watched.
  • Analyze evidence to show how it supports your claim.
  • Be concise. Get straight to the point, and use shortest, fewest words possible to communicate your ideas. (Read Zinsser and thrive as a writer!)
  • Cite all quotations and paraphrases with parentheticals indicating the author and page # (when available and include a Works Cited in MLA or Chicago Style.

To be marked satisfactory, it must also meet the specifications for all analytical blog posts, many of which overlap with the above rubric. You may also earn the designation sophisticated by demonstrating exceptional originality and substance, and/or creativity and style.