Anthony’s Trip To Cornell

By Mona Malacane

If you’ve been looking for Anthony Almond lately, you may have noticed that he has been rather scarce around the department. Other than travelling to Las Vegas for the BEA conference last week, he has also been busy jetting up to Ithaca, New York to visit Cornell University, where he had been invited by Dr. So Yeon-Yoon to help set up a research lab in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis. At the recommendation of one of Anthony’s professors at Missouri (Dr. Kevin Wise), where he did his master’s, Dr. Yoon contacted Anthony earlier this year for his expertise with psychophysiological instruments. He has helped set up several psychophysiology labs in the past and, of course, works in the ICR, so Anthony has years of experience hooking people up to machines and zapping them (Just kidding, he would never do that.)

Dr. Yoon’s lab is the Design User Experience Technology Lab (D.U.E.T Lab) within the College of Human Ecology. She plans to use the lab to develop “an exploratory design/visual merchandizing research line using psychophysiological measures.” In other words, she plans to examine physiological responses to different virtual experiences of, say, a restaurant or a retail store. The lab is about two times the size of the grad lab, with a screen on an entire wall. This screen is used for an immersive, life-sized, 3D experience “… to test emotional [and] psychological responses to designed environments while controlling any visual variable.” As an example, Anthony talked about how the screen could be used to show a doctor’s office with a TV in the virtual office that displayed health tips and then this set-up could be used to examine the reception and processing of health information.

The first day of his visit included a tour of the beautiful campus, while the second day was more hands on. In the workshop, Anthony showed Dr. Yoon and others how to use the machine software, the correct settings for their machines, how to clean and analyze the psychophys data, what certain signals meant, and also how to organize and prepare their lab space to be efficient and comfortable. Although the machines come with instructions, they don’t include settings that are specific to certain experiments or they may just be unclear, which is why it’s necessary to have someone experienced to help, Anthony explained.

trying to understand

The instructions don’t make no sense.

Because he has had the experience of setting up labs before, Anthony didn’t need to prepare much for the workshops he gave. He did, however, make sure to bring Rob’s textbook of psychophysiological measures, a kind of bible for all the different ways to zap people (Again, I’m totally kidding.).

Creative Insites

By Edo Steinberg

Between his many artistic endeavors and research, Josh Sites has to stay imaginative. He has a few techniques to keep his mind fresh.

“The method I enjoy the most is lateral thinking,” Josh says. “You purposefully pull yourself out of the moment and reevaluate what you’re doing. I use it a lot when I’m working on music. If I’m in the mixing stage, and I’m stuck and I don’t like how it sounds, I’ll utilize it. It’ll completely pull me out of the moment and I’ll return to my problem either thinking about the thing that I just put into my brain, and that will give me a fresh perspective, or at the very least, I’ve taken myself off this track that was leading nowhere. Now I have a fresh set of ears and I can make new decisions.”

ObliqueStrategiesJosh often uses a deck of cards called “Oblique Strategies” to help him think laterally. “Whenever you’re stuck, you flip over a card and there’s a prompt on it. You do what it says, or not, but regardless, you evaluate the statement. For instance, it might say something like ‘what would your parents think?’ If I seriously entertain the card, I may still come up with nothing, but I’m now wasting brain energy on what my parents would think. It’s getting me unstuck. Other times it is very applicable, like ‘make it more blue,’ and that triggers thoughts in my mind about ‘blue, like the ocean, waves – got it! I should add some chorus effects, because that sounds like waves.’ Sometimes it’s very concrete and sometimes very abstract.”

You can also make rules to stay creative. “They are mostly arbitrary rules,” Josh says before giving an example from his painting, to which he adds the caveat that he isn’t very good at it. “When I decide to paint, I’ll give myself rules. Having all these paints and paintbrushes at my ready, due to my fiancée Alicia’s vast collection, it’s really intimidating. I can do anything right now, or at least there’s that pressure, because realistically I don’t have the technique to make whatever I imagine on the canvass,” Josh laughs. “For instance, I decide I’m only going to use four colors and two rectangles.”

The rules can be broken. “Since they are arbitrary, they’re there only as much as they’re helpful. If I’ve accidentally given myself too many rules or put myself in the corner with it, I can now break them, but it’s with purpose. It is no longer an infinite number of possibilities: I’m either following this rule or I’m specifically breaking it.”

Another thing Josh likes is random word or phrase generators. “There was a time that I knew what I wanted to say lyrically, but when I tried writing it, it just sounded cheesy. There was no art to it whatsoever. What I decided to do was to write everything, good or bad. Then, I copied and pasted parts that I liked into software that reorganized the words at random. Now I had all the right symbols in there, and I got to attach new meaning to them. They weren’t in an order anyone else had placed them in. It was combining different thought and different feelings just by jumbling these words around. I would edit it slightly, and then it would make sense.”

Hopefully, these strategies can help you stay creative, too!

Alfred Kinsey… Detective and Media Professor?

By Mona Malacane

It’s a real life game of Clue. A night of murder, mystery, and dinner fit for our department’s most theatrically talented individual, Mike McGregor. Earlier this year, Mike attended an annual murder mystery dinner fundraiser hosted by The Friends of TC Steele. The mystery incorporated local historical figures, such as Dr. Alfred Kinsey, some of Dr. Kinsey’s staff, Hoagy Carmichael, and Herman Wells. Set in the 1950s, the premise of the script is that President Herman Wells invited a group of friends to dinner to “discuss the work of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, and to generate financial and political support for his work,” Mike explained. But after the hors d’oeuvres, the night takes a turn … and the dinner guests are treated to an evening of live music, food, beverages, and a murder to solve.

whodunit

Mike played the part of Dr. Kinsey, a character he was already familiar with and somewhat familiar to … (see the pictures below). Because Dr. Kinsey plays a rather large role in the evening’s events, Mike and others who played the key roles were given their scripts before the dinner; those who wanted to play smaller roles were given cue cards at their seats that had conversation starters for table talk. “For example, among Kinsey’s staff there was a lot of partner sharing … So that became the fodder of the table talk. All sorts of reasons for a potential murder.” From that point on, everyone stayed in character for the remainder of the evening.

Don't they look a lot alike??

Don’t they look a lot alike??

So the night begins with a catered meal, Hoagy Carmichael at the piano, and a welcome introduction from President Wells. He is followed by a speech by Dr. Kinsey who starts to introduce his staff but realizes that one of them, Clyde Martin, is missing. At this point no one is particularly concerned about Clyde’s absence so he continues on to talk about his recent publication, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. As Kinsey is being criticized and critiqued by the dean of the music school, Clyde staggers in with a gunshot wound and clutching a note from the killer. President Wells can’t reach the sheriff so Kinsey recruits the help of his dinner guests to find the killer. Until this point, everyone at the dinner knew what was going to happen from reading the script. However, after Clyde staggers in, only two people know what will happen next – one of them is Mike and the other is the murderer.

The plot thickens throughout the evening as clues arise and guests try to figure out whodunit. As they are being served dessert, the dinner guests were instructed to write on a piece of paper who they thought killed Clyde and to provide a rationale. At the end of the night, awards were given to the guest who identified the killer, and also for the best performance. The evening was “filled with drama,” twists, and a grand finale!

Mike explained that one of coolest – and unexpected – twists of the dinner was that some of the guests actually knew the figures who were being played. For example, Mrs. Kinsey was played by a woman whose mother (who was also at the dinner) was friends with the Kinseys and was interviewed for his research.

Mike's award for Best Performance

Mike’s award for Best Performance

The dinner was performed/hosted on two weekends in February and Mike won Best Performance one of those nights. John Walsh also attended one of the dinners and played one of Kinsey’s staff; he won an award for correctly naming the killer. If you’re dying to know who the murderer was, I’m sure one of them could tell you …

Inventive Ways to Be Original

By Edo Steinberg

Jim Krause has many strategies to maintain his creativity. “My wife and I come up with prompts,” he says. “For instance, one of the things we do is tell each other about the strangest thing that happened to us that day. Sometimes your ‘strange radar’ isn’t on, but the moment you start looking for interesting things, you’ll start discovering them. It can be an interaction with another person or learning or seeing something new, something visually odd. ‘Oh, there’s a rooster, and it’s in downtown Bloomington.’ You don’t usually see roosters in downtown Bloomington.”

People lose their sense of wonder as they grow older. “For babies and children, everything is brand new,” Jim says. “Thinking of myself, my eyes were open with amazement at anything new. We were captivated by the smallest things, like rings hanging over our crib. As children, we go off to grade school and we’re encouraged to be creative. We finger paint and try to play instruments, dance, write a poem.”

This continues in high school and college, where people tend to peak creatively. “In college, you’re exposed to even more people and ideas. You hear opinions you may not agree with. All this new stimulation is fuel for your ideas.”

“Then, you get a job,” Jim says. “You find a partner, and maybe get a dog or a cat. Then a year goes by, two years go by, 10 years go by. If you’re lucky, you still have a partner, a good house, a good job, and a pet, and what happens is that all those new experiences become a routine. For instance, you must think about the easiest way to get from where you live to IU, and you know of a good way to approach your academic work. We all think of the best ways to impress our boss, the best ways to impress our partner, because we’re trying to find the best practices – what’s the easiest way for me to succeed in my life.”

Jim tries to push back against routine. “I always try to do something different. It could be small things: if you brush your teeth with one hand, try it with the other; if you shave with one hand, try it with the other.”

Another strategy Jim and his wife have is to tell each other something new they learned today. “It can be something small. For instance, I talked to three homeless people on Kirkwood. One of them was named Tim. I applauded the fact that they had this really cute dog to help them get money, partially for dog food. They said, ‘yeah, it really works to meet the girls.’ It was a fun conversation with three homeless people, really the high point of my week.”

Some other things Jim does: go to work a new way, eat in a new place, talk to a stranger, and always schedule “me time”, no matter how busy you are. Try to do something new during your “me time”. Jim likes to play music during this time. “Music can be a rut too. It’s important to practice on a regular basis, but you should also play different kinds of music or a different instrument.”  For instance, Jim, a guitar player, is nowadays playing bass just to do something new.

As a creative person who likes to go out of his comfort zone, Jim thinks that projects that other people pitch him are more interesting for him to work on than projects he comes up with on his own. “They’re usually something I would never have thought of.”

Tamera’s Take

She is the omniscient and omnipotent guru, who we would be lost without. The ambassador to our department. The fixer. The silent but powerful force behind almost everything that goes on in the RTV building. I’m sure you can guess who I’m writing about without reading the title of this post, that’s just how awesome she is. And for the first time in Telecom grad blog history, Tamera has agreed to share some wisdom with us on how to get through our graduate school years successfully (read: without having to bother her five times per day with questions because you already know the answers). No matter where you are in you program degree, this is a must read. In fact, you can consider it homework. Read it now people.  – Mona Malacane

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

By Tamera Theodore

Graduate school is hard. It’s a seemingly endless balancing act of deadlines, responsibilities, and pressures. There’s coursework and exams, paper after paper, grading, meetings, research, and projects, funding questions, bursar glitches, and registration annoyances, not to mention a bewildering web of administrative hoop-jumping and university rules & regulations.

All the things we juggle... Click for full effect.

All the things we juggle… Click for full effect.

But these things actually pale in comparison to some of the lesser known obstacles faced by Telecom grad students. Consider, for instance, the department’s graduate student mail boxes. Instructions for first-time users come with this subtle warning: “They work the same as a standard lock but just the opposite. Instead of right-left-right, they’re left-right-left. Right.” Even when the basic mechanics are mastered, best of luck actually getting the door to pop open on first or second try. The combinations themselves are elusive, or seem to be, since at least one student a week shows up at my desk having “misplaced” the number. I’ve observed all kinds of storage methods – entering the digits in one’s phone contacts list, jotting them down in Hello Kitty notebooks, scrawling them on the back of one’s hand (not recommended) – and none is foolproof. But do not fret. Help is just a few steps away. I can usually tame into submission even the most stubborn of locks.

Another brow-furrowing matter is under what circumstances and how exactly to arrange meetings with faculty members. Despite the annual circulation of Professor David Waterman’s almost-famous document entitled Guide to Arranging Committee Meetings, grad students approach the task with surprising and unnecessary amounts of trepidation. The truth is that faculty members do not bite. They may growl a bit, but rarely (maybe never) do they bite. Also, it’s much better to tackle one’s anxiety and take the necessary steps to get the program of study or the dissertation proposal approved sooner rather than later. This is a real opportunity for conquering fears and for bonding with one’s faculty advisors, not to mention graduating in a timely manner. Professor Quagmire and others welcome your (polite and grammatically correct, please) email request for a meeting.

On a somewhat related topic of email etiquette, here’s a short comment regarding the question of under what circumstances and how exactly to respond to email requests from me – the answer is always and by the stated deadline or as soon as possible if no date is specified. I will reciprocate in the same manner. There’s a certain beauty in the simplicity of this system.

A final vexation that warrants mention here is the set of physical and electronic forms commonly known as “Progress Paperwork.” Many students avoid these forms with the kind of procrastination typically reserved for making dentist appointments and filing taxes. It’s true that the sheer number of documents to be completed combined with the confusing specifics of when, where, how, under what circumstances and with whom (growling faculty members …) can seem exhausting and even unnecessary. But I would assert that progress forms are the student’s friend. They have the power to avert disasters like discovering two weeks before commencement that you’re three credit hours shy of the degree requirement. They can confirm that the Committee you’ve proposed makes sense and meets university guidelines. Equally important, they keep things organized and tidy and that makes the graduate secretary happy.

Congratulations y’all!

By Mona Malacane

 

We want to recognize everyone who has recently won an award for their work, or to pursue their work. Congratulations to everyone!

Daphna Yeshua-Katz — ICA Mass Communication Division Top Student Paper Award for her paper “Online Stigma Resistance: A Study of the Pro-anorexia Community”

Lindsay Ems — Received a $25,000 Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the College of Arts and Sciences and was accepted into the ICA Doctoral Consortium of the Communication and Technology Division

Nic Matthews — Received a $20,000 Dissertation Year Research Fellowship from the College of Arts and Sciences

Nicole Martins and Mona Malacane — ICA Top Paper Award in the Children, Adolescents, and Media Division for our paper “Liked characters get a moral pass: Young viewers’ evaluations of social and physical aggression in tween sitcoms”

Ozen Bas — GPSO Research Award for her project “Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Potential of Protest Photographs in Motivating Citizens for Collective Action”

Tamara Kharroub — GPSO Research Award for her project “Social identity and self-categorization in transnational Arab television: Identification with characters and adoption of their gender roles”

Random Picture of the Week

 

Tamera’s dog, Mr. Basil, looking dashing in his bow tie

Basil_bowtie2

 

HS: The dashing bow tie was made by Mona

 

 

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