Sunday, May 1, 2011

Visual Symbols in Daily Life, Part 2

There has been an incentive over the course of the semester to find the coolest and best use of technology or visuals for the week. These posts ranged from film clips and trailers to poetry and music to skits and still images. Our ideas of visual literacy were expanding, and we used themes to enrich each other. Whether it was perusing classmates' blogs or creating informational visuals for presentations, I was having a good time.

Some clips were for fun:
The Crater Face Video,
Minimalism - Kinetic Typography Poem
The Red Balloon (below),

Some were informative:
15 Sexist Vintage Ads,
Sir Ken Robinson speaks on Creativity (below),

-but all were cool new ways of expressing and understanding what the author, composer, or speaker is visually presenting to their audience.

My terms of Visual symbols have expanded over the semester to include: poetry, body movement, non-verbal cues and the use of words as graphics (to name a few). I understand why visuals within presentations and art are used and when it is appropriate to use them with an audience. I learned about means of using visuals such as propaganda and video games to creatively enhance a message.

I feel that without visuals or teaching the world to be visually literate, our communication and education would be greatly lacking in emotion and depth and we would be less comprehensive to our audiences. And I also think its our job to expand means of visually communicating, while assisting others to understand them correctly. We're bombarded daily with images and data, if we're not reading them correctly, we could be missing something important!

Aha Blog #5: A Dead Car

Saturday, I was involved in a car accident that turned my already lemon of a car into a piece of smooshed plastic and metal-and it was NOT my fault. Having just fixed my car two days before (for the fourth time this winter), I was more than just a little ticked to find I now had a compact car- literally. Temperamental car as it was, it got me to where I needed to be and without major injuries- but as of today that is gone! Now my vehicle was sub-par, and one might say resembled a dying toad, yet I still was upset when I had to say goodbye.

The interesting and fun part will come now in choosing a new vehi
cle. Perhaps one with power windows AND locks!?! Or maybe even TWO working windshield wipers! I feel like a Maybach Excelero or a Rolls Royce Phantom is not very feasible at this time, but I'll settle for a station wagon as long as it gets me where I want to be!

I'm intrigued at all the technology they pack into vehicles today: mp3 players, SYNC computer systems, and dvd players! The only entertainment my family's first van provided was a dried booger that hung from the ceiling from the previous owner's kids. Even the slightest wind could have sent my sister and I into screams of a possible booger invasion. Though a brand new Ford Edge or Cadillac Escalade is not in my near future, I'll appreciate something with an air conditioner and consistently working speakers (No boogers, please).

*Photos taken from:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Aha Blog #4: Technology Everywhere

A few weeks ago, a classmate posted a video: A Day Made of Glass, showing what the world would be like if everything were an interactive interface and we used these to shop, communicate and learn. Even though the technology is not here yet, the video exemplified what a typical day may be like using technology like this. Rather than excite me, it kind of made me nervous! I enjoy working with technology, but a world where a computerized system knew you so well seems a little intruding. I’m a fan of my privacy! It is probably a little premature and unnecessary, but it is a possibility.

Today while researching new technology, I came upon a video from Reuters showing a new giant touch screen and the technology behind it. The massive screen allows several people to work on the same screen at the same time while communicating with each other. This shows we are closer than I thought to becoming a digital world- though they mentioned that regular applications had to be redesigned to work on the screen. In smaller steps, I think I could get used to this technology. It is amazing what technology can offer us now!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Week 10, March 25, 2011

This week in Visual Literacy class we watched a TED Talk from author Chimamanda Adichie. She spoke about her experience as a writer and the importance of multiple stories. Adichie argued that if there is only one side of a story being told, so much information could be lost or misrepresented. She gave examples of her life upon coming to America where her roommate assumed she knew nothing of America and was surprised she knew English.

Adichie stated that if we continue to think in this same way, we will be basing our attitudes on much of what we assume is true instead of what we know to be true and what we’ve experienced.

This was definitely something I hadn’t thought about before and it was an interesting perspective to consider. I’m guilty of it myself. Many times we see stories over the media telling one part of a story or a specific instance, and we believe its true of a whole people group or culture. It is our responsibility to inform ourselves and compare what we ‘know’ with what is truly happening so we don’t end up misrepresenting others.

Click here for the link to Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk.

*Photo from:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Aha Blog #3: Safe Technology for Kids

Sometimes I scan the internet for new types of applications or technology that are on the market today. While researching social networks I came upon this article on the Today Show's website that I found interesting (Family-friendly social networks take aim at Facebook). The article mentioned two new social networks called: Neer and Everloop. They both offer privacy and are pre-teen friendly, which is very important today. I knew nothing about either program, so I decided to dig in a little deeper.

Neer ( works as an application for phones that lets you share information about where you are located. You are able to easily adjust which of your contacts see what you are doing. Though its not intended for use of ages 13 and below, this program can work well with parents trying to keep tabs on their children through the program’s updates. While Neer compares more to Twitter than Facebook, its GPS qualities can give parents reassurance about their children’s safety.

Everloop ( compares more with Facebook. It is an interactive social looping site for pre-teens between 8 and 13. It incorporates collaborative learning options for school projects, email, IM, chat and voice chat, video uploading, games, and Goobs (or pranks).

Kids are able to customize their own pages in a safe environment. Parents are notified when a child tries to expand their loop of friends and can monitor their site via a parental console page. Safety is definitely a priority. Everloop’s terms of use note that if a user is suspected of lying about their age or have questionable content on their page, they will be deleted from the system.

Example Everloop Page from:

It is good to see that these companies are taking safety seriously when working with kids and teens. I think its very important to encourage this type of technology use so that kids can create and share in a safe environment with their peers. Click on the links to view more for yourself!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 7, Feb. 21, 2011

I need to catch up with technology, but is that even possible? For my Online Journalism class, we’re taking a few weeks to learn to upload our video creations to various online sites and formats. Linking and embedding them to blogs was easy since I’ve already done it, so that wasn’t a problem. As a class we’re pretty familiar with YouTube, so the next step in preparation for our final (which is a live newscasting) was to create our own channel on and manage our videos there.

Now uploading videos of others is one thing, but recording myself online LIVE is another! Luckily our assignment was just a simple 5 minute interview with someone else over any topic, so we could focus more on creating the storyboard and messing around with the various options Livestream Studio offers. Thank goodness for tutorials. At first glance I was extremely confused with all the options and gadgets, (like how to turn the camera off) but continual attempts at creating a webcast proved to be successful.

I can see how this would be handy for tutorials or webcasts within a classroom and can be easily incorporated into Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I don’t know how interesting my own channel would be, but learning a new skill is always helpful. After watching some extra tutorials on YouTube I realized that I’m far from knowing all types of technology and as soon as I learn one program, there’s another one to replace it!

Click on the to link you to their site. I hope to get a link to my own channel set up here soon.
* Photo from

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Week 6, Feb. 17, 2011

Last Tuesday I was able to go to a public screening of an upcoming documentary called “Abused” by Luis Argueta. The film covers the close to home Postville, Iowa incident in 2008 where 389 undocumented workers were arrested. The film covers the past two years and follows the individuals as they go through trial, imprisonment and the journey of returning to their home countries.

It was an emotional showing and the film proved to be an intense viewing of these worker’s lives. Though often in Spanish, their stories told of the frustration and unfair treatment they were receiving while working as well as after the raid. It was sad to see them uprooted as many had children born in the U.S. and had acclimated to life here. In an interview of a woman sent back to Guatemala, she mentioned her daughter didn’t grow any more since there was no milk to drink there as she did in Iowa.

The film’s two year span shows the before and after effects of the raid and where the workers and Postville, Iowa are today. I appreciated the extent that the director went to to follow up with these individuals. Argueta noted that he’d been back to Iowa 30 times since the raid and that he called it his second home despite of what happened here.

I think it’s an important film to watch that covers the issue of illegal immigration but also the families behind it. I’ll leave the link to the film’s website here:

*Photos were taken from the Abused promotion pamphlet.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Aha Blog #2: Killing Us Softly 3

In my Visual Literacy class we recently watched the short film ‘Killing Us Softly 3’ by Jean Kilbourne. After watching this intense short film I found myself questioning the advertisements I see everyday but don’t pay much attention to. I realized just how much we are being bombarded with images- and how many of them I don’t seem to notice! I think now is a time when we’re having an overload of images thrown at us.
Part of the statement made in the film was that society doesn’t see these images as harmful because we’re not thinking about it. We’re not focusing on the message behind the ad, but looking for the next image to come our way.

I found an interesting article through the New York Times by Louise Story called
: 'Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad' explaining “sensory overload” and where that’s taking the marketing industry. The article discusses that now there are more ways in which products can be advertised (ie: the internet, to small children, cell phones and through product placement). It made me realize that while reducing the number of images I see everyday may not be in my control, I can
be more mindful of what I’m watching or reading and learn to decipher these messages.

*Image from

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 3, Jan 30, 2011

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

I was recently introduced to a video that gave me a different perspective not only on how to find visuals in everyday objects or architecture, but also the art of creating a visual story through various materials. Its a video essentially of a video camera capturing light, motion, and shapes in new ways through the lens. When first watching it, I was totally captivated by the angles and perspectives in which the artist uses ordinary objects to show details and still life. For instance, the photographs suspended by clothespins are an ordinary event in a darkroom, but the closeness and detail the artist focuses on changes the perspective in which the audience sees it. He is in charge of what we’re looking at and we’re decoding his message.

I think one of the most outstanding things about this video is that its not really a video at all. It was done almost completely with computer graphics (and a lot of talent) and in most sections, you can’t even tell. I think this is one example of how graphics and technology has expanded over the last 20 years. Compared to the 1982 movie, “Tron” whose computer graphics were considered great at that time, this 10 minute video greatly surpasses that technology.

Breaking down these elements is teaching me to decipher what the artist is truly intending and how I can apply this to understanding more graphics or visual symbols in society today. I think its definitely important to incorporate an almost deconstruction of the graphic message so that we can experience it from all angles.