Write Design Multimedia

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

'MySpace' by Cameron

My Space is a social networking website ‘for friends’ which allows users an interactive network of photos, blogs, user profiles, groups and an email system. It is the fifth most popular English speaking website in the world. It has had a huge impact on communication and digital technology. People don’t even need to pick up the phone; instead using MySpace they can have written conversations for free. MySpace has contributed to booming sales in digital cameras in the U.S.

It was originally an online storage website before it became the My Space we know today founded in July 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe. The site was bought by Fox Broadcasting in July 2005 for $580 million so its nice to know when we use MySpace we are supporting an American corporation.

Once you have signed up to the site you have to write a profile about yourself, there is no limit to how much you can write. The standard profile has a ‘about me,’ ‘who I would like to meet,’ ‘general interests,’ ‘basic details,’ ‘profile picture’ and ‘blogs’. This creates the allusion that you have your own personal ‘space’ among the billions of Internet and MySpace users. This is perhaps were the addiction begins were people hope to escape the troubles of the world. You then add other profiles to try and build up a network of friends. Then you and your friends put comments on each other’s profiles, which are conversational, statements, well wishes or complements. You can also comment on peoples profile pictures. This reflects the real world of social popularity, the more friends you have and comments the better you are, so it’s not much of an escape.

The good thing about MySpace is that gives a chance for independent artist such as musicians and filmmakers to publicly show their work in a cross media online environment. Filmmakers can put their films and screening dates on a ‘filmmakers profile’. Musicians can put their music on their ‘music profile’ and promote upcoming gigs. People can upload these films and tracks onto their own profile, which provides even more exposure.

The problem with MySpace is that you are able to customize your profiles text, background, images etc. using html coding. Most users aren’t experienced with html coding so when viewing their profiles it causes web browsers to run slow or even crash because they put to many high bandwidth objects such as videos and flash in their profiles. Some profiles are so badly coded that the text doesn’t even appear and has to be read by highlighting it.

It seems nothing is sacred in today’s world of technology. MySpace users provide detailed information of their lives in ‘cute’ surveys and write online diaries. People’s written conversations are open to every one to view ranging from love problems to meaningless chitchat. Although it’s your own space anyone can come in and look and comment. This has caused many problems in schools resulting in malicious gossip about students resulting in the banning of the website. Some schools have even tried to ban students from using the site at home.

Although MySpace is rough around the edges it is an excellent way to get your work viewed. It is also a fun way to have written conversations with strangers and a good way to meet unique individuals that you wouldn’t normally meet. It’s also a good way to keep in touch with old friends. MySpace is criticized for pervert and petafile offences but that will always happen online on any website. But MySpace breaks its own rules when in its online agreement that user must agree with before signing up. It states that you are not allowed to upload offensive material. This happens anyway but MySpace does nothing about it. MySpace can be addictive but if you don’t take it to seriously and see it for what it is the networking site can be fun at times.

• For an example of a Filmmaker MySpace profile follow this link:

• For an example of a Music MySpace profile follow this link:

• For an example of a Standard MySpace profile follow this link:

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Compact, detachable, private and shareable, this is a film festival like no other. Film for Apple iPod. Film for Sony PlayStation Portable. Film for 3G Phones. Download them, take them away with you. Plug them into your friend's TV.

The International Portable Film Festival is calling for challenging and inspiring film and video content for pre-selection in the 2006 IPFF Competition which will take place in July 2006. This is the perfect forum for new ideas and new directions in film and we actively encourage those filmmakers who are unafraid to venture into the deep, beyond the known boundaries of film and the cinema, to submit. We are not about rehashing old content for a new medium: those films that best express themselves through the portable medium will be considered for pre-selection.

Entry to the competition is free and is now open until the 28th of May 2006.
A range of prizes will be announced in late April. Films will be judged under the following categories:
  • DESKTOP EXPERIMENT:will explore new directions and innovations in animation, and digital filmmaking.
  • POSTCARD:will present short documentaries that look into the fascinations of real life on film.
  • NEW WORLD ORDER:will showcase short narrative films that charter new waters in brave new ways.
  • WATCH MY MOVES:will present independently produced music video clips that inspire this intriguing new genre of filmmaking.
  • GENERATIONAL EYE :will profile new work by filmmakers under the age of 18.
  • GENERAL : is open to all film submissions.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

' MYSPACE' by Nicholas

When the internet first came screaming onto our computers in the mid 90’s, earlier if you’re a nerd, it made great promises of offering us information and networking possibilities greater than our imaginations could possibly conjure even under the influence of the wildest mind-altering hallucinogens from the depths of the Amazon forest. What it delivered was vast ranges of pornography, pop-ups and episode guides (*SPOILER ALERT*) to TV shows we either couldn’t be bothered watching or were so enamored with, watching it once just wasn’t enough; we needed to read a digest version the very next morning before discussing it over doughnuts and Callipos in high school corridors across the planet.

Sure there were bulletin boards aplenty and newsgroups on topics ranging from ‘how to make an American quilt’ to ‘what happened to that old actress off Beverly Hills 90210 who wasn’t fooling anyone by claiming to be a teenager’, but let’s face it, you only access those sites when you have to, unless you have a problem with direct sunlight and a tendency to listen to more than one The Cure album a year.

But years of electronic evolution and vast amounts of funding being pumped into hypertext development have finally lead to Generation Y’s dizzying pinnacle and it’s name is My Space – http://www.myspace.com to be exact.

My Space lists its official purposes as:

• Friends who want to talk Online
• Single people who want to meet other Singles
• Matchmakers who want to connect their friends with other friends
• Families who want to keep in touch--map your Family Tree
• Business people and co-workers interested in networking
• Classmates and study partners
• Anyone looking for long lost friends!

So hands up if you’re mapping your family tree? Nobody? Oh wait… nope nobody. Thought so!

No, we diet Cokeheads aren’t interested in mapping our bloodlines so much as we’re into wasting time but more importantly, and the main purpose of this essay, is to explain how we’re using My Space to get our work out into the big bad world.

Singer/songwriters who claim they’ve been drawn by the muse to create music ever since they heard Joni Mitchell’s Blue at the tender age of 13 are no longer resigned to playing in the backrooms of Brunswick St bars on Tuesday nights. They can now put their mp3s on their My Space profiles and have their music heard across the Canadian prairies.. maybe even reaching the nicotine-muffled ears of one Ms. Mitchell.

Similarly, filmmakers (i.e. Dad owns a mini DV camera he bought duty free on his last business trip to Hong Kong) can create triumphant works of cinema, the likes of which are sure to have DeMille, Eisenstein and Spielberg rolling in their respective graves muttering, “why didn’t I think of that? One dude on his skateboard crashing into a brick wall while wearing a chicken outfit. Genius!”

As of March 2006, MySpace is, according to my dear dear friends at Wikipedia, the world's fifth most popular English-language website (no doubt behind www.bible.com and www.agathachristie.com). So where did it all come from?

MySpace started its humble origins as an online storage and file-sharing firm. Registration was free and users obtained a small online disk quota, which would increase if they referred new members to the site. It was like a cross between a Hotmail account and a Tupperware party… or Scientology. But the service was slow and nobody was foolish enough to put money into it so it folded in 2001.

But in July 2003, two young Californian college graduates, Tom Anderson and current president, Chris DeWolfe enlisted a small team of programmers and a newly rejuvenated MySpace was born.

Social networking pages are nothing new. Friendster and Hi5 are two such examples, or you could even look at a site such as Gaydar for all my fellas in the 10% minority. But what MySpace did that made it rise above the rest and ultimately led to its acquisition by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in July 2005 for $580 million, was its emphasis on career networking, particularly for artists all striving for their elusive 15 minutes.

Services include:

• User-supplied support forum
• User-friendly
• Blogging
• Community forums
• Instant messaging
• Exchanging comments
• Writing a personal profile
• Adding photos
• Customizing the profile -- background color or images, music, photos
• Rating/ranking users based on their profile, pictures, and written personality
• Allowing users to add friends from other services

There are 3 basic profile types:

- MySpace (the regular meet and greet profile – “Albino loving Goth seeks nookie in South Carolina. Likes Tori Amos. Dislikes Jimmy Barnes. Mail me now!”)
- MySpaceMusic (see below)
- MySpaceFilm (and below that)

So independent musicians, like our afore-mentioned Brunswick St dwelling, Big Yellow Taxi loving songstress, create their MySpaceMusic profile presenting themselves as they see fit, post example of their work and then invite people to see their work, slowly expanding their network until they reach the sort of world fame known only by icons such as Jesus or Paris Hilton.

For example:

Musicians can post their gigs, their influences, maintain a blog as to what esoteric gifts from the universe are currently inspiring them and send out bulletins to everyone on their “Friend List” (i.e. Please request my song on the Triple J Super Request show so that I can become rich and famous). Their friends can also post comments to the page such as “You rock!” or “Even your mama wouldn’t call that good!” Many artists now see MySpace as an invaluable tool, especially for local artists trying to tap into international markets without international distribution deals. As CD sales decline and online downloads skyrocket, MySpace empowers the artist to distribute their product on their own terms. Record companies who specialize in distribution, rather than licensing, may soon find themselves out of a job.

MySpaceFilm works in a similar way where people can post their shorts for the viewing pleasure of others. One filmmaker, David Lehre, posted his short, “MySpace: The Movie” in February 2006 and has already registered 6 million hits. This equates to about a third of the amount of people who have seen Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Not bad for an amateur filmmaker. All you have to do is make a film, do some quick networking on MySpace and it could be seen all over the world faster than you can say Atom Films.

The site earns revenue through advertisements though there are fears that our pal, Rupert, may introduce a charge for the service or some form of censorship so people are advised to jump in fast and make the most of it before it all goes to hell. For example, in January, all mentions to YouTube, another website dedicated to sharing online video content, mysteriously vanished. After much controversy from MySpace members, the links were returned but I’m sure Rupes isn’t done with his fiendish scheme for world dominations.

Other people who have benefited from the MySpace revolution are website designer/creator applications. “Do it yourself HTML” thrives on MySpace with people inserting animations, colours, sounds and quizzes – “Which Buffy character ARE you??”

So yes, it’s a pretty sweet package that can be useful for artists everywhere. But allow me to leave you with one downside:

On November 7, 2005 only 400 out of 3,000 students of Warren High School in San Antonio, Texas showed up after two male students posted that they were going to bring guns to school. Officials saw the threat and the students were arrested before anything could happen. Nice one Texas!


• Alexa Internet Alexa Web Search - top 500 English-language websites. March 20, 2006.
• The Daily News, Washington, January 22, 2006. The MySpace case.
• MySpace, http://www.myspace.com, March 20 2006
• Intermix Media, July 18, 2005. News Corporation to Acquire Intermix Media, Inc, March 20 2006

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Monday Class -- Photoshop sampler

Don't forget to bring along 1x scan of full colour continuous-tone image (eg colour illustration from a book, a photograph or a scan of analoge source material such as a painting or colour drawing, scan of objects etc from your environment), and 1x black and white line art (eg scan of a b&w drawing, engraving or etching, typography etc). Images should be at least 1200 pixels width or height.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

'Playing the Movies'

Checkout Helen Stucky's essay 'Playing the Movies' about the relationship between games and cinema and the development of machinima. This is the catalogue essay to the exhibtion which has just opened at GamesLab ACMI. Both the essay and the exhibition are well worth checking out -- esp. in looking at new forms of writing in and for digital media.
Essay on the acmi site

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Experimenta call for freelance writers

We are keen to hear from those of you who are artists and writers who would like to review Experimenta’s forthcoming national and international exhibitions. Regrettably, we can’t pay you but publications including RealTime, Broadsheet do pay for commissioned articles. Please call Maria on 03 9525 5025 or email maria@experimenta.org

Call for student placements, interns and volunteers
Need experience that can only be gained from working in a successful, dynamic and fun arts organisation?

We are currently recruiting volunteers to start immediately and students from various disciplines to start in second semester. There are opportunities for a number of dedicated people to gain experience in areas such as publicity & marketing, web authoring, image archiving, publishing & editing, and the development of innovative physical and electronic storage solutions. Projects are negotiable. Please call Maria on 03 9525 5025 or email: maria@experimenta.org

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Person 2184 -- machinima

Person 2184 is a three part machinima series running inside the game unreal tournament 2004 from epicgames. It shows strange happenings in an urban environment not very far from here and now. Gifted people, ubiquitous media and loneliness inside a crowd of people drive the stories behind these short visual tales.

Friedrich Kirschner’s machinima series Person 2184 won him awards for best Technical Achievement and best Visual Design at the 2005 Machinima Film Festival, and has been showcased at numerous others. Friedrich is one of the pioneers who is transforming the practice of machinima. His work breaks out of the game context and enters the realm of filmmaking.

Either watch in-game if you have Unreal or download the wmp or qtime files.

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Launch is at Sticky, Shop 10, Campbell Arcade, Melbourne

Uncommon tales from around the Commonwealth. Incommunicado is a collection of writing from young Commonwealth writers, published in a fold-out book-map format. Incommunicado combines tweaked cartography with super-short fiction to create a visually stunning, deliciously awkward literary treat.

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Portraits of Jerry Springer talk show audience members by Melbourne media artist/vj, Emile Zile

The waiting room is almost full. Everyone here wants to be on television.
Springer Audiences 84-04 is an exhibition of portraits.
I am so fucking excited. Jerry is a dude.
Springer Audiences 84-04 is made with video stills.
Here we go. We are moving into the studio now.
Springer Audiences 84-04 is Hillbilly Love Triangle: Update
You can see me if I freeze-frame here. I am sitting next to the woman in red.

opening March 24 6pm - until April 15
hours: 3 - 6pm Wed - Fri. 12 - 6pm Sat

Kings ARI
Level 1/171 King St
Melbourne Vic 3000

a flyer: an interview: directions:

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'Edublogs and their value as professional development tools for teachers' by Andrea

'A blog (weblog) is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. A blog comprises text, hypertext, images and links to other web pages and to video, audio (podcasts) and other files. Often blogs focus on a particular ‘area of interest’. Some blogs discuss personal experiences’. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Blog jargon
Blogger: someone who creates a blog, posts entries.
Blogging: authoring, maintaining, adding an article to an existing blog
Blogroll: list of blogs that a blogger reads-written on side of their blog.
Edublog: educational blog.
Sitemeter: meter that records where hits come from.
Post: a blog entry, blog post, post.
Blogspert: expert on blogging (‘I made that term up, can’t help myself.’ A.Hayes)

Blog history
• ‘The term ‘weblog’ was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997.
• Firstly broadly popular blogs appeared in America in 2001, followed by ‘How to ‘ manuals.
• In 2004, TV journalist Dan Rather presented documents (CBS show 60 Minutes) that conflicted with accepted accounts of president Bush’s military service record and many bloggers view this scandal as the advent of blogs’ acceptance by the mass media.
• ‘It is estimated there are now more than 28 million blogs in the world.’ (The Age 25/2/06)

Edublogs (Educational blogging)

There are many applications for Edublogs:
• Professional development for teachers. Eg., Discussions on curriculum, classroom practice etc (my interest).
• Way of introducing/ publishing new classroom resources to a specific audience (my interest).
• Students improving writing skills via blogging etc.

Case study
Interview with Jo McLeay, English Co-ordinator and author of blog,
http://theopenclassroom.blogspot.com 1/3/06.

What do you think is the value of blogs?
The value of blogs lies in them being an interactive space around which communities can form. They are a form of publication of content to a specific audience (decided by the creator) thus giving people a voice in important matters socially and generating a form of identity not possible otherwise. This is because blogs can be individualized by the author of the content in a way that discussion forums etc can’t.

How did you get into blogs?
Basically I read some blogs and I loved reading them because I could relate to them. Then just by chance I listened to an educational podcast by Steve Dembo (Teach 42). He referred to David Warlick and Will Richardson and they were the door into the edublogging community. I just kept reading them and their blogrolls. I came trust them so I knew I could trust their blogroll.

What’s the purpose of your blog?

It’s a great reflective teaching and learning tool. It’s been the best professional development I have ever done.
Whose the audience for your blog?
The audience for my blog is teachers, mainly English teachers and those in the edublogging community. I know who visits my blog by visiting my sitemeter.

Describe the process you go through before you post?
I saw a t-shirt once that said “I’m blogging this.” That’s how I feel.
Anything I read or do in school or my study could become the subject of a post. But so many of my posts are in response to the other blogs I read.

I’m often thinking for a day or two what I want to write about. Sometimes I jot down some notes. Sometimes I keep a running file of thoughts that could be developed as blog posts in a word document on my computer.

I always write a draft in word and copy and paste the links at the end of the post, and then copy it into Wordpad to get rid of formatting. Then I copy and paste into my blogger dashboard and put in the hyperlinks.

I would feel funny doing a post without hyperlinks although I have done one, I think. I would read it through at each stage and maybe alter it a bit but sometimes I go check it as it appears on the site and there’s still a typo, so then I edit it.

Does your blog site have any rules?

No, but as far as I’m concerned I don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do to someone’s face.

Edublogs can be valuable professional development tools for teachers.
They can be used by an international community to reflect on and discuss:
• Teaching practices
• Approaches to classroom problems
• Curriculum
• New/needed resources

Edublogs don’t cost money but you can spend a lot of time blogging and reading blogs –not all of which may be helpful. As with anything on the Net teachers need to check authenticity and not to assume that anyone who blogs represents an ‘expert’ opinion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Blog 2/28/2006
http://theopenclassroom.blogspot.com 20/3/06
email interview with Jo McLeay 1/3/06
The Age 25/2/06

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

'DEFINE INVENTION: What is Machinima?' by Claire

Machinima (muh-sheen-eh-mah) can be loosely translated to mean Machine Cinema or Machine Animation.

It is, moreover, film making in virtual reality. This revolution in 3D animation allows film making to occur in a real time virtual environment using 3D video game technology. Spawned from the once unpopular game replay videos, Machinima is now a legitimate art form and method of creating animation films with a wide cult following.

Using tools published by game developers designed to extend the playability of games (eg. to import new characters and create additional levels) Machinima uses these tools to turn off-the-shelf games into small Machinima studios.

Machinima developers have combined pre-existing game software with principles of film-making, animation and game development to hatch a formula allowing animations to be created whereby characters are controlled by humans, scripts and artificial intelligence within high profile computer game engines. The animation is recorded live, thus speeding up the production process.

One of the latest Machinima animations to be created is The Strangerhood, an ongoing series developed with the game software of The Sims 2 . Created by the Rooster Teeth Productions crew, famous for the highly regarded RedVsBlue Machinima, the team has developed their own production process and technique for creating the drama series. Using the multi player game technology, 3D characters are created and their basic movement animation, props and sets are designed.

In production, the dialogue is recorded, edited and then played back, acting as the script. The game ‘puppeteers’ match the action of the characters to this story as they play the game and record it live.

In post-production non linear editing software is employed to edit select takes and refine the character movement, position and camera angles.

This method is a rapid departure from the traditional key-frame animation process. Now animation directors can direct puppeteers as they manipulate the character models in real-time. This eliminates the need for the time intensive process of software rendering, amounting to a much more time effective and cost efficient way of making films.

To put this into perspective, the 3D Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) animation, pioneered in the 80’s and utilized in such films as Pixar’s Toy Story and Monsters Inc. is very labour and equipment intensive. CGI requires each frame to be rendered individually, meaning that each background is created separately, and the individually animated characters are added later to complete the shot. Due to the large amount of 3D model, lighting and animation information in each frame it requires a very fast bank of computers hours if not days to render each shot. Some frames in Monsters Inc. took over 90 hours to process using upward of 400 computers banked together. Hence the entire feature took 4 years to complete.

The real time aspect of Machinima eliminates the rendering process and allows total control over the representation and movement of characters. It provides an interactive environment where real world physics can be reproduced. Best of all, it can take place in individual homes. The recordings take place at data level negating the need to capture several gigabytes of video footage. In addition, hardware driven playback is independent of resolution and can playback within the game engine itself.

While the animation itself is not yet of highest quality, the continued development of this technology will mean that as more powerful hardware rendering becomes available, PC users will be able to receive Machinima films at the data level via the internet. The cost element of Machinima means that it can be used for complicated effects and historical recreation.

It is yet another way in which people can create visual stories and communicate digitally.

http://www.machinima.org/ Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences, Inc. webmaster@machinima.org, accessed19-03-2006
http://www.illclan.com/contact.htm accessed 19-03-2006
http://sh.roosterteeth.com/faq/ Rooster Teeth Productions, accessed 19-03-2006
http://rvb.roosterteeth.com/info/ Rooster Teeth Productions, accessed 19-03-2006
http://m3.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/strangerhood2.gif m3.typepad.com,accessed 19-03-2006
http://bwplanet.idnes.cz/.../tsvidea/strangerhood.html, accessed 19-03-2006

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'FRIENDSTER' by Callum Lukita

I first discovered FRIENDSTER on the NET over two years back when I received an INVITATION from a friend to join, sent to my e-mail address. At the time, net communities and chat rooms were already well established. Friendster entered the scene in a different and refreshing manner as it offered a more real expansion to the interactive net community genre. Significantly visual in presentation, real identities are posted worldwide as you, as the user, interact within Friendster as yourselves, not an anonymous.

Upon entering you are required to SIGN UP with a personal private password for LOGIN IN each time, then creating MY PROFILE of your own self with personal photos and fun details. This profile represents your true form, status, age, whereabouts, and interests. And whalla, quite simply you have your own little HOMEPAGE within Friendster.

Consequently, you are then able to view profiles in other members’ homepages within this online program, as you are now free to roam across friend communities, starting with that very one friend who invited you in the first place. The program today holds over 24 million members, or friends, that you are able to browse. That is, if you can find them all. Users are updated of their friends’ activities, birthdates, recent profile and photo changes.

You are expected to invite others in the community to become your friend, thus creating your direct friend relations located in your MY FRIENDS archive. This record is then displayed and stored on your homepage. To date I only have 136 friends ☹.
Another feature is where each member may write a TESTIMONIAL about a friend member who may or may not approve this text to be posted on their homepage. To date I only have 11 testimonials, excluding one or two I just had to reject. Accordingly, you are then able to read testimonial statements of others as you browse; getting a better sense of the people you are viewing.

Another prominent feature allows you to send and receive short text messages to and from friends, supplied in your own message INBOX – therefore combining a practical e-mail service to this program.

Also, in MEET PEOPLE there is a handy search engine that allows you to find missing or wanted friends.

Upon the first 6 months of joining, after getting the hang of it, and despite using a painstakingly slow dial-up connection, I went berserk – going through friends of friends of friends and of their friends, getting absolutely lost at times, tracking my way back, finding long lost friends as far back as primary school friends, inviting and sending messages all over the place. Exciting indeed. The program today has since been expanded in size and is constantly updated. Hundreds of personal pictures can now be uploaded into your photo profile, compared to the restriction limit of only 5 photos (jpegs) two years back. Furthermore, you can now create and view your own personal BLOGS, post BULLETINS, join DISCUSSION GROUPS, as well as upload and share personal VIDEOS (Mpegs) on your homepage.

Many similar communities have since been established in competition, making Friendster today not in anyway exceptional in its form and functions as an interactive net community program – Hi5 and Yahoo Messenger to name a couple.
Nevertheless, being as popular as ever, Friendster will still continue to grow with joining members (some members even own up to two or three Friendster homepage accounts), as it acts and serves an interactive social medium within a very social context. Thus it is self-reliant in its growth. As do thriving communities in real life gradually expand and develop, popular communities in cyberspace will also grow and span to all its ability.


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'What is a Blog?' by Yuko

Since its first appearance in 1995, blogs or blogging as a form of activity, becomes a very popular and alternative way to communicate and express ourselves. The word ‘blog’ derived from the words web log, which was found by Jorn Barger on December 1997, which then called blog by Peter Merholz two years later.

Basically, a blog is a website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. A blog contains of texts, hyperlinks, pictures, sometimes videos and other media related to certain topics. Same as other media, topics on blogs could focus on politics, food or local news. One factor that differs blogs from forums is, in forums we can only talk about one topic set up by the author or authoring group; whilst in blog, you can set your own topic and your own discussion. It is not difficult to create your own blogs, because normally website for blogs uses dedicated server-based system which allow users to access from anywhere on the Internet, and enable them to create blogs without having to maintain their own server. There are blogs used as online diaries, where people put their opinions, their daily activities and experiences, their thoughts, poems or their traveling journal into online blog, and open the chance for people to read and give comments on them. The main user for this type of blog is college students and teenagers in general. They use blogs to keep up-to-date information, also to communicate with each others.

One example of a website which dedicated its content for blogging is www.opendiary.com. This website was introduced in October 19, 1998, created by Bruce Ableson, the first blog that innovates allowance for other readers to give comments to others’ blogs. Seven years after the opening, online diaries recorded in www.opendiary.com reached 400,000 items. The success leaded the website to be featured in Net Success Interview, as well as the creator’s interview in "40 successful CEOs/founders of revolutionary internet companies." In this website, it is offered two types of services if you want to join the community, one is a free open diaries where you only need to complete the free join form. You will need to give your user name which rule is not to give your real name or anything that describes your identity, a password then some general questions such as gender, location and a valid email address then you can start writing your blogs. The other service, introduced in 2001, is a paid join diary, called “Open Diary Plus”, which gives users extra functions e.g. you can block other users from reading your diary, diary chapters and the ability to view other diarists’ notes.

On September 11, 2004, the online diary was attacked by hacker, losing its entire diary content started from July 2004 to the time of the attack. This tragedy leaded to the introduction of a new join facility in February 2006. It is called “Lifetime Membership”, which costs USD$100. The money will be used to support the website due to decreasing rates after the 2004 attack and put Open Diary into debt. The life of opendiary.com is still uncertain, as Bruce Ableson, a.k.a the DiaryMaster (his username) commented that "We are all working hard to pay off this debt, but what may happen is still up in the air."

In a nut shell, blog is another medium to express and cater the needs of human as social beings. Along with the growth of technology and digital media in the world, this community can indulge the practicality and efficiency of communicating.

• “A Maze that Leads to Healing”, MazeWalker, Lets Take A Left Here. Available at: http://www.opendiary.com/entryview.asp?authorcode=D636850&entry=10007 [18 March 2006] Access : 21 March 2006.
• “Blog” Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog [20 March 2006]
• “Open Diary” Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Diary [20 March 2006]

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'Collaborative Fiction' by Leisl

Collaborative Fiction is the process of multiple writers each contributing to a single story. This form of story telling has changed and evolved due to the introduction of the internet, but still maintains its traditional form. Collaborative Fiction now covers such mediums as Interactive Fiction, Hypertext Fiction, Storytelling Games, and Role Playing Games. In the process of Collaborative Fiction, each contributor writes a portion of the story, and then passes the story onto the next writer for further additions or a change in focus. There are no rules or enforced structures as the story moves from author to author, save for some forums adopting a set of guidelines on what is or what is not acceptable.

Interactive Fiction refers to software containing simulated environments in which players use text commands to control characters. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as computer games. Whilst there is theme and storyline the players must adhere to, the character development and actions are there own choice.

Hypertext Fiction is a form of electronic literature found mostly online, characterized by the use of Hypertext which provides a new context for non-linearity in literature and reader interaction. The reader typically chooses links to move from one group of text to the next, and in this fashion arranges a story from a deeper pool of potential stories.

A Storytelling Game is where two or more persons collaborate on telling a spontaneous story. Usually, each player takes care of one or more characters in the developing story. The “story teller” or “narrator” takes the roles of various supporting characters, as well as introducing non-character forces (e.g. a flood). The most popular story telling games originated from role paying games, where the game rules and statistics made it hard to create a believable story and immersive experience. In a storytelling game each player must play within their characters traits, and any wish to develop the action of the character must be put to the story teller, who sets the scene of the story.

A Role Playing Game is a type of game in which players assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create narratives. The game progresses according to a system of rules and guidelines already in place, within which players may improvise freely. Player choices shape the direction shape the direction and outcome of role playing games. At their core, role playing games are a form of interactive and collaborative story telling. Simple forms of role playing exist in children’s games such as “Cowboys and Indians”. Participants in a Wild West role playing game will generate specific detailed characters and an involved plot. Their goal is to reproduce the themes and enjoyment of a Western Film or a Western novel.
The most obvious form of Collaborative Fiction still exists in Writers Forums, where a story is begun and each contributor will take up a thread or a character and continue the tale. Many authors use this medium to take on suggestions from their readers, who may suggest new characters or subplots. This form of Collaborative Fiction is perhaps the most popular of all, being able to reach a wide range of contributors.

1. www.wikipedia.org

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'Online documentary' by Erin

Online documentary is an interactive form a documentary that is developed and presented online. Tradition Documentary is defined as ‘a work such as a film or television programme, presenting political, social or historical subject matter accompanied by narration’ and online documentaries both follow and deviate from this traditional model in a couple of ways.

Like tradition documentaries they can use the same primary and secondary evidence modes such as interviews, archival footage, and the same presentational modes such as dramatisation and voice-overs but due to the interactive nature of the internet, online documentaries can expand on these traditional modes by providing extra access to primary and secondary evidence contained within the documentaries interface and extra information such as links to other relevant websites, discussion boards, and email addresses for contact details.

Online documentaries can function like websites, as the user is able to navigate their own journey, and traditional narrative structures of documentaries can be played with. They can offer guidelines on how to read through the material, but the user can map their own journey. Some documentaries let you record your journey to make your own documentary, and some you can add your own story.

Excellent examples of Online Documentaries can be found at the Australian Broadcasting Corporations (ABC) website – abc.net.au/documentaryonline/defult.htm
They are developed through the department of New Media and Digital Services and were established ‘to encourage exciting and adventurous projects that exploit the possibilities of the Internet and challenge conventional documentary forms’ .

The ABC have produced documentaries that cover a broad range of subjects such has Long Journey, Young Lives, which though interviews with both Australian and refugee children, maps the journeys of young refugees from Sri Lanka, Iraq and Southeast Asia. A Year on the Wing, charts a year in the life of migratory eastern curlew birds as they travel from Russia to Australia.
The Wrong Crowd, explores police corruption in Queensland in the 70’s, told from the perspective of a young woman growing up with links to both sides.
The most comprehensive of these is Black Friday, which documents the Victorian bushfires of 1939 -http://abc.net.au/blackfriday/home/default.htm

The documentary is broken down into seven sections on the website, which is indicated by a line of ‘tabs’ running along the top of the home page. The first of these, The Story, is the most traditional part of the online documentary being a film told with narration, interviews and reconstructed footage that charts the history of the bushfires. The second section, Timeline, charts through interactive images, the bushfires that have devastated this region from the beginning of white settlement up until 2003.

The next is the, Interactive Map, which lets the user select a particular area of the region and hear and read more detailed stories.

Newspapers, lets you select by date or place both Regional and City newspaper, read the stories from that were being published, giving the user a greater understanding of the attitudes and feelings of the community and the country. Oral History, is further interviewed evidence of the people that remembered and lived through the Bushfires.Royal Commission presents detailed reports of findings from the enquiry and the recommendations that arose from it. The final section, Aftermath, contains scores of interviews with community group leaders and professionals involved with bushfires about their thoughts and ideas about how we can deal with this yearly concern.

Black Friday contains a wealth of information that extends beyond the normal bounds of a traditional documentary and for this reason online documentaries are seen as a great educational tool.

One of the challenges that this new mode of documentary brings is the break with traditional documentary continuity and narrative structures. With a film or TV programme the director/writer is able to shape the perception of the user by what they choose to reveal and at what time. Because of the users ability to self-direct their own learning, these structures breakdown and the question of authenticity arises. One can argue that online documentaries offer a greater sense of authenticity as the user is presented a greater wealth or wall of factual evidence and can learn at their own leisure, but because of this ability to pick and chose the user can miss pieces of information that may inform a different reading. However as history itself is always subjective, the medium of Online Documentary by its very form demonstrates this most effectively.

Online documentary offer an exciting way to play with the medium and to challenge old notions of presentation and narration while still telling real and important stories.

AFC- ABC Documentary online home page - abc.net.au/documentaryonline.defult.htm

Australian Film Commission website (2003) First Australian Online Documentary selected for HotDocs,afc.gov.au/newsandevents/mediarelease/2003/release_19.aspx

Beattie, D & Toadshow , The Wrong Crowd, abc.net.au/wrongcrowd

Beegun, P & Ferrier, S. A Journey through Central Asis – Detours along the Silk Route, waikato.ac.nz/film/student/hypermedia/silkroute/Pg1.htm

Design Interact, Week July 6 ‘Detours along the Silk Route’ designinteract.com/sow/070698

Fahy, M (2004) Black Friday, abc.net.au/blacfriday/home/defult.htm,

Goldi Dahdal (2004) Long Journey Young Lives, abc.net.au/longjourney

Lexico Publishing Group (2006) dictionary.com

Pockley, S (2006) Flight of Ducks, www.duckdigital.net/FOD

Reid, B & Smith, K, Hypermedia Analysis,

White, N (2002) A Year on the Wing, abc.net.au/wing/ayowflash.htm , Consuello PTY

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'Us Mob' by Suzi

Most people will never set foot in an Aboriginal town camp of Alice Springs. But that doesn’t mean you won’t ever get to visit one…..

‘Us Mob’ is Australia’s first Aboriginal children’s television series and interactive website. You are transported into the real-life Aboriginal town camp of Hidden Valley, on the outskirts of Alice Springs in Central Australia. You are embedded in the challenges and daily lives of Harry, Della, Charlie, Jacquita and their Aboriginal bush community friends and family. The site features 8 short films with multi-path endings, designed to be received once per week over 8 weeks to fit into a school term. The films are supported by video and text diaries, interactive forums, virtual self-guided tours, games and comprehensive info sheets on everything from Aboriginal history to skin names. The website was designed to create community and cross-cultural understanding between school children around the world (Ginsberg, 1).

Background: Cyber Storytelling

As this website features multiple different avenues for interactivity, the focus for this report will be on the on-line storytelling component, delivered via the 8 short films. The site is centred around these films, with the other elements supporting the content and encouraging discussion surrounding them.

Typically, on-line storytelling is created either as text or video, and requires the user to register before being able to access it. They then receive downloads of episodes. Interactivity commonly comes into play via ‘choose your own endings’ and/or web forums, games and email correspondence.

Meadows has observed the current, untapped potential for web-based storytelling, observing that most website designers seem to consider the internet as ‘little more than a globally-distributed brochure’ (Meadows, 2). Cloninger has also argued that a compelling, engaging ‘narrative voice’ is frequently absent from interactive media, and he considers this factor even more important than style and content (Cloninger, 3). Storytelling, he argues, is still the most powerful way of emotionally impacting people – whether the ends is to sell a product or service, or create a new art form. Meadows touched on the key to the potential inherent in interactive narrative when he commented that ‘the more power a user has to control the narrative himself, the more a user will ‘own’ that narrative’ (Meadows, 2). In other words, by creating an on-line story with compelling characters and narrative, then by involving users in the direction of that tale, they become a part of the story itself.

The creators of Us Mob drew inspiration from one of the world’s first on-line drama series, initiated by trailblazer UK organisation, XPT. Entitled ‘On-line Caroline’ (XPT), it focussed on the exploits of a young, hip English-Greek woman, Caroline. Remember how one of the first ever public film screenings, of an approaching train, prompted audiences to bolt from the theatre in fright? Quaint as those reactions seem, history repeats when it comes to embracing the Brave New World of cyber-technology. ‘Online Caroline’ featured an early episode where Caroline was being robbed, resulting in earnest people around the UK calling police to help their cyber friend, unable to offer more than her email address! This left Us Mob web producer Chris Joyner and director, David Vadiveloo, in no doubt as to the potential impact of this new storytelling medium (Joyner, 17/03/06).

Us Mob in Focus……

Whereas film and documentary traditionally created a ‘window’ into another world, Us Mob creates the window then pushes you through it and into that world.

Us Mob was created at a time when mainstream media discourses largely represent Indigenous Australians in the context of various Indigenous malaises – lack of health, lack of money, lack of jobs, lack of housing, and so on. It was created in the context of an education discourse in which Aboriginal culture, perspectives and history is still, quite often, not even represented at all.

Vadiveloo explained that the objective of Us Mob was to build a ‘dynamic communication bridge’ between Arrernte kids of Alice Springs, and children around the world (Ginsberg, 1). Us Mob derives its power not just from the engaging characters and realistic stories, but also from the way these tales are embedded so completely in an extensive range of additional interactive features. What better way to break down perceptual barriers, than to literally navigate yourself around an Aboriginal town camp home on a cyber-tour? You can travel alongside the kids in the films and they become like friends – you learn about their families and hobbies through their ‘scrapbooks’, watch their video diaries, email them letters and post your own info on the web. The discussion forum features messages posted from other Indigenous kids around Australia, from a Zibi in Poland and a Queensland Mununjali woman now living in Germany! The computer games such as ‘Bush Survivor’ drop you in the middle of the desert and challenge you to learn how to survive, Aboriginal way! (A refreshing alternative to the abundance of video games online, characterised by violence, competition and destruction.)

The website’s prime audience is school children in late primary and early to middle secondary years. It is, by nature, well-aligned with classroom use, as the shift from linear to interactive approaches in media is paralleled in contemporary education theory and practice as well. Students, like audiences, are no longer broadcasted or taught to, in a traditional didactic way. They are now challenged to access, interact and engage with knowledge as critical, savvy agents rather than as passive, unquestioning recipients.

The Flipside of the ‘Digital Age’

There are two flipsides to the emergence of this sophisticated technology, and the creators of Us Mob have created strong precedents for ways to address them both.

Firstly, as long as the Internet exists, there will be issues associated with unbridled access to information. How can digital storytellers ensure that their content is appropriately accessed and disseminated? When you’re providing content that’s free, how do you ensure that your work doesn’t get de-valued, by default? In the first encounter with the Us Mob home page, you are invited in but, as it would be if you visited the Arrernte kids on their town camp in Alice Springs, it notifies you that you need a permit to visit. Us Mob and Hidden Valley suggest another perspective on the digital age that invites kids from "elsewhere" to come over and play on their side (Ginsberg, 2). In other ways, Us Mob subverts the historically ethnocentric legacy of Indigenous discourse by foregrounding the Aboriginal experience and voice. The stories and content come straight from the community themselves – Vadiveloo’s community consultation had an overall gestation period of around 7 years. It is relevant that the elders requested that one of the films, which deals with the issue of petrol sniffing, only be accessed by people who have demonstrated a commitment to viewing the preceding films, so that they approach this particular film with a deeper understanding of the broader context in which this kind of substance abuse occurs (Joyner, 17/3/06). It’s an Aboriginal approach to knowledge which so much of the Internet is at odds with– where sharing knowledge is considered a privilege, a gift – not an assumed right – and there is the expectation that it’s given and received responsibly.

Secondly, despite the utopian promises of the ‘global village’ bringing people together, the flipside to the ‘digital age’ is the ‘digital divide’, creating further social stratification around the world between those who are ‘in’ the cyber community and those who get ‘left behind’ (Ginsberg, 1). In this more sombre light, projects like Us Mob which equip a highly marginalised group of people with the voice and skills to create the content and keep abreast of the technology, are of particular importance.


Us Mob exemplifies one of many exciting future paths for powerful storytelling using digital technology. It opens up many possibilities as to the future of media – and, for that matter, education - that is truly interactive in every sense of the word. Already, there is a whisper that in just a couple of years, classrooms will only exist in cyberspace, with students following internet-based curriculum from the comfort of their own homes. And just around the corner, we will find interactive storytelling replacing the television set on every home’s PC, where people will be able to choose from a range of stories (dramas, soaps, films, news) when they want and have the option of engaging with associated video games, correspondence and on-line forums, not unlike the current Us Mob site.

1. One of the Us Mob films is as follows:
On screen, an Aboriginal boy piggybacks a friend on an old bike past a sacred site near a golf course in Alice Springs. The sky is clear and the landscape beautifully lit as they stop at a tap to drink. Looking around, they notice a shiny, expensive bike, unattended. Together they make a decision that could change everything . . . fade to black (Ginsberg, 1). At this point, the user must choose from alternative endings. In one scenario, the police are involved and in the other, friends fight as one boy challenges the other. It creates instant engagement with the story and characters, and a strong place to launch discussion about consequences and community.

2. The creators of Us Mob are currently seeking funding for on-going employment of Aboriginal people, through Alice Springs’ Tangentyere Council, to be responsible for the maintenance and development of the Us Mob website (Joyner, 17/03.06). Additionally, they run workshops in communities around Australia on basic video and web production.

1. Clonginger, C., ‘A Case for Web Storytelling’, 13/08/05 in www.alistapart.com/articles/storytelling (Accessed: 14/3/06)
2. Debelle, P., ‘Living Next Door to Alice’, in www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/ 10/15/1097784032642.html?oneclick=true, (18.10.04)
3. Dorner, J., ‘Writing for the Internet’, Oxford University Press, 2002, UK. 1-20.
4. Ginsberg, F., ‘Rethinking the Digital Age’, in Flow, Critical Forum on TV and Media Culture; www.jot.communication.utexas.edu/flow/?jot=view&id=528 1, (Accessed: 13/3/06)
5. Joyner, C., Interview with Suzi Taylor, 17/03/06
6. Meadows, M.S., “Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative’, p2 exerpts available at www.pause-effect.com (accessed 16/3/06)
7. Telstra Broadband Fund Overview; www.broadbandfund.telstra.com (accessed 14.3.06)
8. Us Mob: www.usmob.com.au (accessed 20/03/06)
9. XPT, ‘Online Caroline’, www.onlinecaroline.com, (Accessed 14/3/06)
10. Zion, L., ‘Projecting its own Image’, in European Network for Indigenous Australians; www.eniar.org/news/usmob.html

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In this modern era of digital revolution, the continuous technological advances have created a wide range of possibilities that play a major impact in connecting society from different areas all over the world. Since the discovery of the Internet in 1969, the emergence of a variety of digital communication forms began to take place. Today, one of the online communication forms that have reached millions of users is referred to as online music community. This report covers aspects of the online music community in terms of its major defining features and how it differs from traditional basis, with special focus on one of the most active online music sites, “American Idol Underground”.

According to Bruce and Marty Fries in The MP3 and Internet Audio Handbook, music has long been an essential tool in ‘connecting people to the rest of the world’ , entertaining them and adding flavors to their daily lives. However, the book points out a problem that in traditional pattern, the music genres people listen to are determined by recording labels, since they support bands and singers who release their albums with song genres according to commercial demand and the popularity of the genre at that particular time. This disadvantages listeners with different music tastes and prevents new musicians from sharing their type of music to the public, considering the complex recording companies which only accept music that ‘sell.’

Driven by the necessity of an individual to share his/her thoughts with society, the innovations in technology and the availability of the Internet has resulted in the formation of music community websites. These sites are dedicated to music fans from different countries, allowing them to interact with other music lovers in an online message board within the site. It’s possible to discuss about a specific topic on the board, knowing there are different sections provided (for example: jazz, rock). In addition, band members and solo singers who wish to launch their career or are just enjoying their leisure time are given the unlimited opportunity to upload their work to the sites, sharing them with other users and may even be discovered by an independent recording company. The ArtistLaunch.com, team states that the website they provided offers a medium for new artists to showcase their music, which can be discovered by independent labels . The shift of this digital communication form from the classic antecedents is marked by the tendency of the online music community to unite music fans and create an active music club rather than leaving them as passive listeners with no connection to people who share their musical interests.

Following the worldwide success of the Idol contest (which, according to Jason R. Rich, is the largest singing talent competition on reality TV with over 33.5 million viewers every year ) is a site created by the producer of American Idol and other Idol shows, FremantleMedia (with assistance by Fluid Audio Networks, an Internet start-up company), known as “American Idol Underground”. Josh Grossberg from E-Online addresses that using the same format as the show, where the audience determines the success or failure of a singer, the site provides a medium for ordinary people across the United States and other worldwide regions who want to showcase their musical abilities without having to audition for national TV . The structure is flexible. They record their own songs or music videos, upload their work to the computer and transfer them to the site, in which their songs will be listed according to the appropriate category (if the genre is considered to be folk, the songs can be browsed in the Folk section by listeners). Submitting remake songs that have been done by other artists is allowed, as long as the artist/band obtains copyrights from the producers of the original track. There is a cost for every song submission. However, this is the professionalism of the site, so every artist has the copyrights to his/her work. The songs will constantly be on airplay on the online radio at the same site. Users may comment and rate the work of all artists. They are able to join a regular voting contest and also have access to a free e-mail if they register as members (no registration fee is required). Contacting artists directly is also possible (since the site encourages connection among users), and a message board for interacting with other users regarding any topic that deals with music is available. Regular contests are held, where a selected panel of celebrity judges picks the best artist/song at a particular time, and users who participate in voting will also have the chance to win prizes. The active and strong community within American Idol Underground is a factor that draws a large number of music lovers to the site.

To summarize, the online music community has been one of the emerging digital communication forms that attracts Internet users. The movement of the community from traditional formats allows music fans from all over the world to freely access the music genres of their choice as well as provides career-seeking artists, bands and musicians with unlimited opportunity to showcase their talents. This creates an active and interactive medium for music lovers, which reflects this era of digital revolution.

1. Bruce Fries & Marty Fries, The MP3 and Internet Audio Handbook, TeamCom Books, Maryland, 1999 (http://www.teamcombooks.com/mp3handbook/1.htm)
2. ArtistLaunch, ArtistLaunch.com, 1999-2005

3. Jason R. Rich, American Idol Season 4: Official Behind-the-Scenes Fan Book, Prima Games, California, 2005, p. 4
4. ‘Idol’ Going Underground Online, E-Online, Josh Grossberg, June 20 2005


Bruce Fries & Marty Fries, The MP3 and Internet Audio Handbook, TeamCom Books, Maryland, 1999 (http://www.teamcombooks.com/mp3handbook/1.htm)

Jason R. Rich, American Idol Season 4: Official Behind-the-Scenes Fan Book, Prima Games, California, 2005, p. 4

‘Idol’ Going Underground Online, E-Online, Josh Grossberg, June 20 2005

Idol Launches Online Version of Its Contest, Reality Blurred, Andy Dehnart, June 20 2005

Innovations: The Digital Revolution –Media, Think Quest Library, Oracles Foundation, March 14 2006

A Brief History of the Internet, Walt Howe’s Internet Learning Centre, Walt Howe, November 7 2005

Wire.Fm –Upload Your Music & Be Heard!, Jeroen, 2003-2004

Sonic Garden: The Online Music Community, Pine Beach Entertainment Inc., 2003-2005

ArtistLaunch, ArtistLaunch.com, 1999-2005

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'Machinima: Red vs. Blue' by Daniel

Machinima (a portmanteau word for machine cinema or machine animation) is both a collection of associated production techniques and a film genre (film created by such production techniques). As stated in the Wikipedia.

To the mass of the world’s population Machinima is a new form of film genre, which has been brought to our attention by a company called “Rooster and Teeth Productions”. For who are the creators of the highly successful “Red V’s Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles”. The creators Michael Burns, Geoffrey Ramsey and Gustavo Sorola thought they were the pioneers of this new evolution. Not knowing that Machinima had originated as far back as the 1970’s and 80’s. The genre really came to the fore when true 3D game worlds were created in the early 90’s. Games such as Doom, Star Wars: X-Wing, MechWarriors 2 and the popular Quake had all limited recording features with the use of a controllable camera. The term Machinima was not born until early 1998.

Michael Burns had a burning question that needed to be answered. “Do you ever wonder why they call it a Warthog?” This question paved the way for an idea of a movie inside a video game, that game being Halo. The success that followed has just gone from strength to strength. Now currently in their forth season of “Red V’s Blue” and have created two new shows for our viewing pleasure. “Strangerhood” which was born in the year 2004 from the game Sims 2 and their latest epic “P.A.N.I.C.” which emerged from the game F.E.A.R.

Not only has it created a whole new genre for which writers and gamers can explore. But the possibilities are endless, with websites galore and forums for the fans to voice their opinions. The most famous being “Sponsors V’s Freeloaders” which is a fan-created video series based upon the “RvB” series. The series started because there were a lot of fans who were complaining because they weren’t given as much access to the video files as paying sponsors were. The RvB message board is where in the first episode was created.

As I’ve was looking through the information I stumbled across Production Company called “Raven’s Eye”. Who are going to make a movie from the new game Max Payne 2. On their website I’ve found jobs in all categories of Machinima. There were jobs from story design/story writers and story boarders to male and female voices.

The genre has also created Awards Ceremonies which have been hosted by Gamespy Magazine (highly regarded computer magazine) and the up coming 2006 Machinima Festival. There is even an Academy of Machinima Arts & Science which is a non-profit organisation. In which the board of directors meet once a month to discuss the best way to promote and increase the growth of this new genre.

Just by checking out the website www.machinima.com you can see how much this new genre has grown. There are communities and forums for people with all kinds of interest. With the games graphics and use of 3D imagery only getting better by the game, you can only imagine that the story lines will also be just as impressive. There is only one direction that Machinima can go and that is up.



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Monday, March 20, 2006

'The Flight of Ducks' by Lara

Archived on Internet 'shelves' is the extraordinary online documentary The Flight of Ducks, a site chronicling three journeys into central Australia. The first journey details a 1933 camel trek undertaken by John Pockley, the father of site author, Simon Pockley. The second is the father's return to central Australia as a much older man, and the third a journey the author undertook with his children retracing his father's footsteps. The Flight of Ducks is also a journey across a database, and an exploration of original documents using digital technology.

Online interpretations of actual events using facts and original documentation are a natural, digital progression from traditional medium documentaries. The most commonly recognised traditional form is the film documentary, where moving pictures, narration, archival footage, interviews, photographs and shots of original textual documents (such as newspapers) are combined to create a subjective narrative of an event, person, phenomena etc. In online documentaries, parallel and interwoven narratives can be presented using the same or similar factual evidence as in film documentaries – photographs, newspaper articles, academic papers, and audio and video clips – but this evidence can be utilised and presented in different ways. For instance, an original newspaper article can be clearly viewed online and a user, not constrained by time or visual limitations, can choose to read the article in full (see below); and photographs can be animated to aid a story. For example, in The Flight of Ducks a photograph of a footprint in the sand illustrating the impermanence of events and memory disappears into nothingness.

Although the structure of an online documentary is created and limited by the site author, within the structure's boundaries the user has the flexibility to follow different narrative trails, and to approach the content of the site from differing angles. Simon Pockley has presented the narrative text of his father's journeys in at least two ways: as unpretentious, but tastefully designed web pages with hyperlinks directing the user to original documents (including scans of the pages of his father's journals and photographs) or as laid-out book chapters suitable for printing (which include photographs embedded in text and photo captions, see below). Simon also employs different forms of text such as transcribed journal entries, academic papers, emails, and media questions. He opens one story thread with a sonnet, cleverly placing himself within the story and establishing another link to his father, who is revealed elsewhere as a poetry aficionado.

The information within the site can be accessed from numerous directions: via the database index, by following threads joined by hyperlinks, and by clicking icons including a donkey linked to the overland trek narrative, a camera for photographs, and a duck to gain a bird's-eye view of site content.

Demonstrating an organic nature, The Flight of Ducks allows users to actively participate in the evolution of the site. Emails sent to Pockley are posted to the site with his responses, and media questions are also posted, giving a sense of transparency and inclusion. Pockley also addresses criticisms of the site and attempts to find solutions, as demonstrated by warnings he has implemented to denote sensitive cultural issues. According to Pockley, "Like the stories of journeys in oral epic poetry, [The Flight of Ducks] has evolved into a proliferating organism, shaped by its participants, [and] by a continuous refinement of the poetics of the medium".

At more than a 1000 pages, The Flight of Ducks is a substantial online documentary, not easily digested in a single sitting. It creates a participatory environment that supplements the users' physical interaction with perceptual interaction. It follows multiple narratives and themes, and archives digital images of original source material making it accessible to a wide audience. As aptly summarised by Simon Pockley: "It is no longer just about past and present expeditions into Central Australia. It has evolved into a journey into the use of a new medium for which we have yet to develop a descriptive language. It is part history, part novel, part data-base, part postcard, part diary, part museum, part pilot, part poem, part conversation, part shed".


Kendall, Robert The Hypertexts of Yesteryear (Accessed 1 March, 2006)

Leary, Pippa & Long, Benjamin "The Hype on Hyper Text” 21C, Volume 3, 1996

McGann, Jerome The Rationale of HyperText (Accessed 13 March, 2006)

Pockley, Simon The Flight of Ducks (Accessed 20 March, 2006)

Seigl, David Severe Tire Damage on the Information Superhighway (Accessed 20 March, 2006)

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'Hopkin Green Frog' by Nicole

In September of 2003 several fliers were posted around a district of Seattle. The flyers desperately appealed to anyone who had come across a lost frog. It seemed a young boy had lost his beloved pet. The plea was signed, ‘Terry’.

These fliers were noted in a couple of Seattle-based weblogs. On September 7th 2003, a blogger known as Samantha posted a picture of the flier at http://www.fotolog.com/gingerly/?photo_id=935490 . Several months later, on May 31st 2004, Jeff Sharman wrote in his online diary, ‘A poster next to the bus stop describes a lost pet, a frog named Hopkin.’

In November 2004, over a year after the flyer was initially seen in Seattle, people began commenting on the case of the lost frog on the community weblog, MetaFilter. Everyone seemed to have an opinion and, since these comments appeared in November 2004, hundreds of other comments have appeared on other sites. Terry’s little lost frog flyer created a blogstorm:
I've cried multiple times over this Hopkin thing, and have even considered sending him money.
posted by Ryvar at 4:14 AM PST on November 7

It's interesting that the kid chose to portray Hopkin visually in the style of a police mugshot.
posted by sklero at 2:44 AM PST on November 7

I say we buy like 100 hopkins and UPS them to Terry in Seattle. Someone here can set up a dropcash thingamajig; if anyone tells me where I can buy them, I'll be happy to pay for shipping.
posted by luriete at 6:14 PM PST on November 7

Around the same time a photo of the original flyer appeared on an online image sharing community. Others began to create unique and humorous images in reference to the story. The Hopkin saga had taken on a life of its own. A domain name – lostfrog.org – was registered by Harold Ike. Over 100 images are currently posted on the site.

This case is an example of the profound and immediate power of the internet and of blogging in particular.

Blogging began around ten years ago and soon became a popular way for online communities to share ideas and opinions on topics ranging from the mundane to the political. A derivative of online communications such as Usenet, email lists and bulletin board systems, early blogs were mostly in the form of diaries . In these online diaries, the blogger relates details about their life and posts it on a site for anyone to see. Today, blogs come in many variations. There are Political blogs, Cultural blogs, Educational blogs, Business blogs, Topical blogs, Collaborative blogs and the list goes on… Community blogs, such as MetaFilter, invite anyone to comment and lengthy conversations (‘threads’) regularly ensue. Photoblogs are often part of a Personal blog or online diary, where the blogger will take random photos, like Samantha did of Terry’s lost frog flyer, and post it on their site. The http://lostfrog.org/ site is an example of a purely visual blog site. Here, the postings are responsive but not in a written format. The site exists as a mystifying, absurd and amusing phenomenon unless you know the story behind its inception.

So, back to Terry and his poor lost frog, Hopkin. Mike Whybark posts an interesting development to the saga on his website, http://mike.whybark.com. A Seattle resident himself and frequent contributor to MetaFilter, Mike had become intrigued by the lost frog story. After learning (from another blogger on MetaFilter) that the frog was actually a free toy given away by McDonalds, Mike engaged in some investigative journalism. Bravely, he phoned the number on the flyer and, after several attempts, spoke with a David Chen, Terry’s father. David’s revelations were unexpected. Terry, his son, was, in fact, a 16 year-old boy with autism. When his toy frog was lost Terry was devastated. This explains the desperate and forceful tone of the flyer. When Mike offered a version of the toy he had bought on ebay, the father declined, saying the new toy would only stir up bad memories for his sensitive son. Mike had solved the mystery of the missing toy, but the bloggers weren’t satisfied.

Subsequent to Mike’s post on November 22nd 2004 , he received numerous comments on his site:
After thinking about this for a bit, i am annoyed that this couldn't be left as a fun mystery, a bit of absurdity.
Posted by: harold_ikes at November 22, 2004 07:33 PM

I think that it is more than absurdity which allows Hopkin G. Frog to attract us; I think it has something to do with the universal experience of loss… As adults, that loss is comparatively trivial, but as children, it's so powerful. How much more so it must be for Terry, that his father feels it necessary to protect him from the memory of it.
Posted by: onouris at December 3, 2004 02:40 AM

The father is wrong to think that "Terry has forgotten about the frog… I'd bet money that "returning" the frog would please Terry.
Posted by: clarifier at November 23, 2004 10:58 AM

The far-reaching effects of this tiny incident and the subsequent virtual buzz are amazing.

hi, i just want to tell you that Hopkin story came to europe, poland. i'm seating in a small mountain village in south-west of poland and wondering about Hopkin, Terry and whole this story... it's hard to belive how powerful internet is...
Posted by: michal stambulski at December 2, 2004 04:58 PM

The humble blog continues to evolve and develop in new and exciting ways.

Ps. I’ll find my frog, http://lostfrog.org/

Wikipedia – Blog, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog 18 March 2004

Jeff Sharman blog, ‘Lost Pet’ http://www.struat.com/here/002343.php 31 May 2004
and ‘Still Lost’ http://www.struat.com/here/002998.php 8 November 2004, at http://www.beansforbreakfast.com/

Samantha blog 7 September 2003 at, http://www.fotolog.com/gingerly

Mike Whybark blog, ‘Hopkin Saga Unfolds’ 8 November 2004 and ‘Hopkin Explained’ 22 November 2004, at http://mike.whybark.com

MetaFilter, ‘Him Name is Hopkin Green Frog’ 2 November 2004, at http://www.metafilter.com/

MetaFilter, ‘A Ribbeting Story’ 6 November 2004, at http://www.metafilter.com/

Punk princess: overly caffeinated, ‘ps. I’ll find my frog’ 19 June 2005, at http://www.punkprincess.com/

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Machinima by Pablo


Machinima a mix of word texts, cinema and animation, is a flourishing art form where videogame players use characters, scenarios and tools within games to create animated short movies. It’s a way of producing animation in real-time that is exceedingly flexible and cost-effective, and gives the audience a chance to collaborate actively in the creation of content with more possibilities than limitations. Machinima is possibly the easier and cheapest way of creating an animated film.


Machinima is filmmaking within real time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video game technologies. In an expanded definition, it is the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development. Machinima is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can be either controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence.
By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost- and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control.

Creating Machinima.

There are basically two ways of producing Machinima. One is that can be driven by script, where everything related to filmmaking as cameras, SFX, characters are scripted for playback in real-time. In this case the scripting is driven by the events, instead of keyframes.

The other way of producing Machinima is that can be recorded in real-time within the virtual environment. The majority of game-specific Machinima pieces are produced in this fashion.


Because Machinima can be shot live in real-time, it is way faster to create that normal CGI animation. For the animation director would be easier, as he wouldn’t have to rely on key frames. Many takes can be made in real-time or just a few depending on the director’s style.

As well instead of rendering frames of animation or video streams, Machinima can be recorded at data level. That means it can be edited at data level, where you can add characters, adjust camera angels and create camera shots, fine-tune the animation. It’s very like doing extra shots without the need of the entire crew.

Machinima gives you:

• the real-time recording of human/scripted performances and events
• the creative flexibility of artistic assets moved over time – akin to animation; allows total control over visual representation of characters, events
• an interactive environment
• Hardware driven playback is resolution independent

Also shooting with Machinima can reduce costs of production. And is a radical departure from the traditional key frame animation process. Animation directors can direct puppeteers as they manipulate the character models in real-time. An action director can relate what happens in real time. It reduces cost by eliminating the time intensive process of software rendering.


• Limited capability. because game engines were primarily designed for game-playing, not for making movies, the movie-making capabilities of game engines (and, consequently, the quality of the produced movies) tend to be limited, when compared to 3D animation software used by professionals
• High playback hardware requirements. Unless the entire rendered movie is distributed, in order to play a movie ,the viewer needs the same rendering engine as the one used by the producer, and a computer with capable hardware (to run the movie scripts to view the movie), depending on the complexity of the rendering engine (the game, that is) and movie.

Machinima will eventually become yet one more way to produce visually-based stories.

As Machinima matures, so will its market, its audience, and the tools that define it. However, it's the filmmakers that will ultimately determine its course. Based on the works that have been produced in the last few years (comedies, dramas, music videos, even documentaries), I would say that Machinima is well on the way to becoming its own form of creative expression.

Examples of Machinima.

No License (Short Fuze): A great short made with Battlefield 1942, No License focuses on a well-known international agent. Using pages ripped out of “how to create a great action film”, this team exploits machinima to its fullest, using the characters and environment as if they were shooting a live-action film.

The Journey (Friedrich Kirschner) – Falling into the “art house” machinima category is The Journey, a remarkable machinima film focusing on a lone figure who chooses a different path in life in order to find himself. Friedrich has made a unique machinima piece that looks very unlike the 3D game engine it was created with, Unreal Tournament 2004.

Game On (Game On): This recently-produced machinima short is the first to incorporate machinima with live-action film. Shot entirely in HD, this blend of live-action and machinima tells the tale of Larry, an architect who finds himself in the mix of a video game he has been obsessively playing.


Ideas Factory Scotland.

The Machinima FAQ Page.

Wikipedia Encyclopedia

O’Reilly Digital Media

G4 Feature. The Wonderful World of Machinima.

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