CDM FALL 2017 reflection- Gabi Keane
I’ll preface my reflection with this: I got super sick the weekend before finals and slept (necessarily) through a lot of time I had blocked out to ‘make it great’ for all of my classes. So while nothing bad came of this finals week, I am exhausted, still kinda sick, and nothing is great. But there are finals like this, where I know that the work I’ve done throughout the semester is pretty strong, so I can get away with kind of letting things lie for the most part. So, thank you for saving me from another horrible ill finals experience, I appreciate it.
I am not going to lie, this was not my favorite class this semester, but only because I took ‘Readings in Contemporary Non-fiction’ with Jennifer Lee, and while I do love digital media a lot, I’m so at home there. I considered making my final for that class multimodal, and still may, as it was formatted as and based upon a webform. It was also super hypertextual, and it would have behooved me to just embed the videos I was describing rather than to try to explain their jokes. Maybe I’ll take that project up in my abundant free time. This was my second favorite class, and likely the most useful for any future money-making I’ll do.
I came into the course apprehensive about visual media, iffy on audio, and excited to practice my HTML/CSS skills. I’m now iffy on visual media, excited about audio (and possibly video), and prepared to teach some flex box. I’ll go through my goals with each individual project as well, but overall this has been an experience of growth.
Question A: what things helped the most? Karl Stolley articulated an ethos that is pretty commonly held among digital humanists. The only proprietary software I really love is oXygen editor—and even that wouldn’t be worth it if I had to pay for it myself. I hadn’t found anything yet that articulated just that, and a lot of the students we have don’t quite understand it. At least once a semester, we have someone ask why we aren’t using Voyant for our projects, after they get around to googling it. I’ve stolen Stolley and am adding him to Computational Method’s syllabus next semester, toward the beginning. I can’t say that this piece developed my thinking much more, but it was nice to see it all written down so neatly, I think, and sometimes that’s what we’re really looking for.
I was also a big fan of Writer/Designer’s chapter on proposing a project. I had never done a formal proposal before this, and I still don’t think I’ve technically done one. But I’ve pitched a lot of projects and anticipate I’ll be pitching even more, so it’s very helpful to know. Even though my HTML/CSS project took on a slightly different form, I really valued the step-by-step. I imagine this is the type of thing they teach you in business school (I have a difficult time imagining what one learns there), but maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to quote it, but my Amazon rental expired. I may email you separately asking for some illegal screenshots of those pages at a later date.
As I’m answering this question, I’m realizing that much of what I’ve taken away from the course is pedagogical. This isn’t a surprise considering my larger goals: ideally at some point someone will let me teach a Composing Digital Media course, too. I think that’s the biggest take away for me, more than the technical skills I learned. As with a lot of digital production, most of it is teaching yourself. But this course did a great job of giving a framework, resources, and time to teach yourself the things you need to learn.
The thing that most challenged me was the visual unit, as I expected it would. I can be visually creative, I think, when I’m involved with something tactile—so my room and notebooks are covered with collages. Photo collage does lend itself to digital work pretty well, but I think I lose something in the process of using my laptop to make it. Maybe this will become less true as I learn more and practice, I assume. We’re better at the things we’re comfortable with. I’m not unhappy with how my file turned out. I would have liked to have edited it this past week, but I think I may have pulled over my working copy on accident—which means I have the .png of what I turned in, but the .xcf is from a much earlier draft. Were I not completely exhausted at only ten pm, I might investigate this further. My goals for this project were not quite fulfilled, but I did gain a new experience and created something that mostly does its job and looks nice doing it.
*Since I used this song, it's added it. But this is my actual final audio, sorry.
I did edit the audio unit per your suggestions (remove the car horn, fix the fade out and volume balance). That took all of ten minutes, but was so rewarding. I feel intensely proud of that piece, as it’s lived a life beyond the small, in-class assignment I wrote it for. This makes me want to put more of my pieces into audio, but I really don’t love my own voice spoken aloud. Again, it’s all adjustment, it’s okay to be uncomfortable. But working in sound was not something I had done since I was in band in high school, so it was refreshing.
The HTML/CSS unit was a great opportunity for me to buckle down and learn to use flex-box styling, along with a couple other rules I had been neglecting. I should really also be using section, header, etc. But when you come from a markup that loves the TEI, divs are second nature. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I change any of my sites in the future, though, as those are useful. I was a little bit disappointed I didn’t get a chance to do media queries, but I did my research and I’ll definitely be able to figure it out. My strategy of ‘set insane, unreasonable goals so you still land on your feet’ works nicely—at the very least I’ve learned a lot of things.
I plan to be producing digital media for a long time, but in the immediate future I’d like to put more of my creative writing online. My entire academic presence online has only to do with research, and while I’ve been able to put a lot of creative energy into that, it’s not the only thing I do. Part of my reservation is that much of my work deals with queerness, and while I know it’s 2017, I’m publicly out, I worry about exposing myself to too much. Hopefully that will go away with time and exposure. If I have time next year, I might try to take Advanced Digital Media, so watch out for me there!