Fabio’s Classroom Introduction, Dan Schiffman at the Intersections, Paul Wright’s Recognition, Brown Bag

Fabio’s Classroom Introduction, by Ken Rosenberg

Fabio Monticone, a former Italian journalist, graduated in 2011 with a BA from our department. Drawn by his deepening interest in documentary, he decided to pursue graduate studies. In the Fall of the same year, he joined our MS (Design & Production) program.

As a design and production graduate student, Fabio knew that he would be called upon to handle labs and discussion sessions—but not in the very first semester!  As circumstances would have it, in Fall of 2011, the very semester Fabio entered graduate school, the department was short of associate instructors who had the relevant expertise to handle discussion sessions of T206: Introduction to Design and Production. He was called on to step in and help out the department.

At first fazed by the fact that a few months ago he was an undergrad and now he was donning the role of an instructor, he soon found his footing.  The masterful way he introduced himself to the class set the tone for the semester.

He realized that one of the most important things a teacher must do is maintain control of the classroom. Sometimes, this means dealing with the elephant in the room. “Just get it out now,” he told his students last semester, after putting up a PowerPoint slide with a familiar face—the famous “Fabio” (Fabio Lanzoni, the brawny Italian fashion model and actor who has graced many magazine covers, calendars, TV commercials, etc.).  He told the class he was not “that.”  In effect, he first declared who he was not before acquainting the class with the real Fabio they would be dealing with.  “He (Lanzoni) ruined my name,” our Fabio said, jokingly. After coming to the States, he was often subjected to the comparison. By the time he was ready to lead his first discussion sessions for T206, he knew it was only a matter of time before an undergrad would snicker—so he beat them to it.

Having taken the class himself as an undergrad, Fabio eagerly prepared to make T206 an enjoyable experience for the students, one with his personal stamp. In addition to the required weekly posts, Fabio created his own structure for the discussion sessions. Fabio is interested in making documentaries, which helped when planning a project for his students; in groups, they made movies. Though teaching in a language other than his mother tongue made things “kind of hard,” Fabio still had an advantage that most international students do not have in their first semester as an AI: experience with the grading system of U.S. universities, which he gained firsthand, as a student here at IU—in the same class, no less.

Our Fabio certainly has his own style.

Dan Schiffman at the Intersections, by Mike Lang

MS student Dan Schiffman likes to turn ideas into reality.

Schiffman opens his laptop and pulls up his latest project—a visualization tool designed to track trends on Twitter. Schiffman clicks on the search field and plugs in “JeremyLin,” and from the digital abyss a slew of words emerge, appearing and disappearing with the trendiness of modern Web 2.0 applications. By gathering bits of informatiom from Twitter with the help of hashtag search terms, the program gives the user a feel for what the Twitter world thinks about a certain subject. Ultimately, Schiffman hopes the program will be able to answer questions about trends.

Nestled somewhere between a designer, the folks who come up with ideas, and a developer, the folks who put those ideas into action, Schiffman has positioned himself for maximum flexibility.  “I’m not a developer and I’m not a designer. I’m somewhere in the middle. I try to make things happen.” Taking courses in Informatics in interaction design and experience design in order to learn the relevant languages and tools used by designers, and courses in SLIS in order to learn the developer side, Schiffman gets the best of both worlds without being pigeonholed into either category.  At the same time, he has positioned himself to handle the turbulent waters that periodically rock the field. He has learned two very different languages, and can serve as a bridge connecting one side to another, transcending the barrier which often stalls the process that takes an idea from conception to realization, and for Schiffman, it’s all about getting things done.

As an economics major at the University of Colorado with an eye for venture capital, Schiffman has also studied the business aspect of his projects. Taking MBA courses at Kelley, Schiffman has worked to understand one of the biggest hurdles entrepreneurial ideas face—the pressure of securing funding and turning a profit. In one of his favorite courses so far, business negotiations, Schiffman learned the ins and outs of handling and understanding complex social situations, a skill not often taught in school. Likewise, he has worked extensively on drafting business proposals in his class on venture capital and in Telecom’s T505: Media Organizations.

At the moment Schiffman is currently working on a way to partner media with social outreach programs. One of his proposed projects includes SMS microloans as a tool to expand information networks and increase economic development in areas suffering poverty. (Check out a recent interview with Netsquared for more details).  In addition he has partnered with a contact in San Francisco to work on a new venture. But he also talks about couch surfing after graduation.

Schiffman’s trajectory in the program has landed him somewhere between business, design, and development, and equipped him with the ability to navigate different fields quickly and efficiently. With that kind of ability to navigate, Schiffman likely won’t find himself couch surfing for too long.

Paul Wright’s Special Recognition, by Mike Lang

Last semester starting center for the IU women’s basketball team Sasha Chaplin enrolled in Wright’s T314 Processes and Effects course.  As the semester progressed, Chaplin sought out Wright for additional help. Once a week for the entire semester, Wright would meet with Chaplin for an hour to review everything they had gone over in class. “She was just a great person, great personality, very sharp,” says Wright. As a result, she ended up with a really good grade in the class.

In the middle of February Wright received an email for Chaplin. The team had a home game coming up against Wisconsin and in was both a senior night and a faculty appreciation night. Players were asked to invite one faculty member who had contributed to their academic success. Chaplin chose Wright. As a huge basketball fan, Wright had planned on attending the game anyway, as he had been attending games for some time. So, he happily accepted. At halftime, the team trotted Wright out onto the court and presented him with a certificate acknowledging the impact he had on Chaplin’s academic success. That night, IU won its first conference game after going 0-14.

Paul Wright on the Jumbotron

Recognition for excellence in the classroom comes in many different forms. Being recognized on the floor of assembly hall has to rank as one of the coolest.

Brown Bag

Love, Loss, and Leeeeeeeroy: Aesthetic Interaction in World of Warcraft

Jeffrey Bardzell (Presenter), Ted Castronova (Discussant)

In the 1980s, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) emerged to develop more productive, less error-prone, more learnable, and more pleasing systems. These criteria would come to comprise the concept of “usability” and help define what makes a “good” workplace computer system. Since the 1990s, however, computing has moved beyond the workplace into everyday life. Usability, though important, is no longer sufficient to define good systems; increasingly, aesthetic considerations have come to the fore in both academic and industry-based HCI. Yet understanding and designing for aesthetic experiences remains a difficult and unfinished project in HCI, partly because of disciplinary divides between the arts and sciences.

In this talk, I will explore ways that both critical and empirical research of World of Warcraft (WoW) can contribute to HCI’s understanding of aesthetic experiences. I will summarize research conducted by the Cultural Research in Technology (CRIT) group in the School of Informatics on three aspects of WoW. First is intimacy, romance, and friendship in WoW, understood as a contribution to research on user experience (UX). Second is progression raiding, understood from the perspective of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW). Third is the emergent visual language of WoW machinima, understood from the perspective of creativity support software. I will also share some of our efforts to find strategies to combine critical and empirical methodologies in the first place, and then subsequently to articulate our findings in ways that can be heard in HCI and influence practice.


Jeffrey Bardzell is an Associate Professor of HCI/Design and new media in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University – Bloomington. Having done his doctoral work in Comparative Literature and Philosophy, Bardzell brings a humanist perspective to HCI and is known for developing a theory of interaction criticism. His other HCI specialties include aesthetic interaction, user experience design, amateur multimedia design theory and practice, and digital creativity. Currently, he is using theories from film, fashion, science fiction, and philosophical aesthetics to theorize about users and interaction, especially in the context of user experience design and supporting creativity. He co-directs the Cultural Research in Technology (CRIT) group: http://crit.soic.indiana.edu.

Edward Castronova (PhD Economics, Wisconsin, 1991) is a Professor of Telecommunications and Cognitive Science, Indiana University. He  is a founder of scholarly online game studies and an expert on the societies of virtual worlds. Among his academic publications on these topics are two books: Synthetic Worlds (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Exodus to the Virtual World (Palgrave, 2007). Professor Castronova teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the design of games, the game industry, and the management of virtual societies. Outside his academic work, Professor Castronova makes regular appearances in mainstream media (60 Minutes, the New York Times, and The Economist), gives keynotes at major conferences (Austin Game Conference, Digital Games Research Association Conference, Interactive Software Federation of Europe), and consults for business (McKinsey, Vivendi, Forrester).

The audio for last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag 7 (March 2, 2012 – Jeff Bardzell and Ted Castronova)

More Cooking with Telecom, Sparks Wins at CMF, FC Telecom Season Opener, Intellectual Circuits: Production, and Brown Bags

Cooking with Telecom, Part 2: Geng Zhang

For grad student Geng Zhang, cooking is part of her identity.  It combines three important aspects of her life: design, photography, and creativity.  “If you have the time and energy, cooking puts you in a good mood.  Happiness is what I get out of cooking.”  Geng’s earliest cooking memories date back to her childhood.  When she would get home from elementary school and her mother was still at work, Geng would sneak into the kitchen and conduct small cooking experiments.  Most of them involved playing with eggs.  Typically Geng “played” with 5 or 6 eggs a day.  And her mother was not very pleased.

When she came to America, she had to learn to cook for herself.  “All of my roommates were American and the funny thing was, I was the worst cook out of all of us.  They sort of made fun of me and I felt bad about giving bad examples of Chinese cooking.”  She learned to take guidance from one of her roommates who cooked great Mediterranean food and made delicious desserts.  Geng is thankful for the time he spent working with her in the kitchen.  As Geng’s culinary skills began to grow, she decided to invite Telecom students over to her apartment for a birthday dinner.  She spent the whole day making bacon-wrapped dates, jumbo pasta, and amaretto chocolate cake.  “When everything turned out well, I was surprised.  But people said I had talent, I just didn’t want to believe it.”

Geng’s cooking philosophy entails making meals with fresh ingredients and working with ethnic recipes.  “When you cook something that’s not originally from your cultural background, you feel less guilty when you make a mistake.”  For Geng, it’s about playing with ingredients.  For example, instead of making regular french toast, she adds different ingredients every time, like shredded coconut, just to see  how it turns out.  This is one reason why her blog is focused on cooking for the “adventurous soul.”

Geng’s blog combines her two passions of cooking and photography.  As an undergrad in Beijing, she would take her camera everywhere.  But her picture taking was put on hold when she got wrapped up in grad school work, seminar papers, and deadlines.  “I got an awesome digital camera from my relatives right before I came to IU, and it was just sitting on the corner of my desk.  One day, I was looking at it and thought, ‘Hey, maybe you and I should do something together.’ So I charged it up and began shooting again.” Her blog brings together her three passions – cooking, photography, and graphic design.  Choosing the plating, utensils, tablecloth color, and incorporating raw ingredients are all important for the final shot.

Check out Geng’s blog by following the link here. Also see Geng’s favorite food blog, TasteSpotting, which aggregates beautiful food photographs and recipes from all over the world here.

Sophie Parkison and other Telecommers Take Top Honors at Campus Movie Fest

Grad student Sophie Parkison and several other students from the Department of Telecommunications have reasonto celebrate.  Their short film, Sparks, won the award for Best Picture at these year’s Campus Movie Fest (CMF).  Developed by Telecom senior Gesi Aho-Rulli, Sparks is about a cyborg who receives a heart and falls in love.
Sophie explains that Sparks demonstrates the power of creative colloboration and pre-production.  It combined the talents of Telecom senior Ed Wu (cinematography and principal editing), Telecom junior Joseph Toth (stereo audio mix), and Billy Van Alstine (original music score).  Sophie served as writer, assistant producer, and extra.   “It’s been rewarding to work with such a talented team and producing something we are proud and excited to watch over and over again.”What happens next?  CMF selects several entries every year to go on to the Cannes Film Festival.  Because IU has had strong entries in the past, the CMF staff saved a spot for one IU film.  Sparks was chosen and has been entered in the Cannes Short Film Corner.”  The movie also won Best Cinematography at the IU Campus level and now moves on to the CMF International Grand Finale June 23-26 in LA.
Several students on the production team plan on attending for workshops and to see the final results of the contest.  Congratulations and good luck to Sophie and all of the Sparks crew!
Watch Sparks here: CMF Movies: Sparks
Photo Courtesy of Campus Movie Fest.
FC Telecom Gears Up for Spring Season
Spring is in the air in Bloomington, and with it comes the sweet smell of a victorious season opener for FC Telecom. The team kicked off its first game of the Spring soccer season with a 6-4 victory.  The preparations in the off-season seemed to have paid off.
Many team members participated in indoor soccer during the winter months. “The buzz is that the indoor thing was kind of our practice gearing up for outdoor domination,” explains Professor Mark Deuze. PhD candidate Matt Falk explained that he and other team members have been bulking up by training with P90X and other fitness videos. “It’s been 5 months of training, and I’m confident that I’m in better shape than last year,” says Matt.
New faces are joining the team this season. MS students Brendan Wood and Siya Africa will be dressing out for many of the games, adding youthfulness and enthusiasm to the roster. FC Telecom, which has been around for aboout 7 years, is usually the only team made of members from an academic department. “There’s people who have played on high school soccer teams and at college, and some people started playing soccer when they joined the league,” Professor Norbert Herber explains. “We don’t have any ringers, but we’ve always had a competitive team, so that bodes well for us.”
Perhaps the biggest change this year will be the debut of new FC Telecom uniforms, bright orange jerseys designed by (Netherlands native) Mark Deuze. “With 2 Dutch players on the team, I think the orange really helps, and other people like the color too,” Mark claims. “I’m pretty sure the jerseys have ‘pure awesome’ woven into them, so it should give us an advantage,” says Matt, who has updated his kit and switched from purple socks to new orange ones for the occasion. “It’s still all about the socks, really,” explains Norbert, who plans to purchase matching orange socks in the near future.
The team doesn’t have a set motto, but many players have thrown out ideas for one this year. “Don’t get hurt,” suggests Norbert. He also adds that their unofficial motto when everyone slows down at the end of a game is “Keep running!”, a battle cry commonly belted out by Mark when the outcome of the game starts looking grim. Mark also adds that age doesn’t really slow down anyone on the team. “I think I’m actually getting faster,” he explains. “In FC Telecom, the older you get, the more ferocious you are.”
The team plays most Thursdays at 8:30 in Karst Farm Park on the west side of town. Grab some orange and head out to support the team in the upcoming weeks.
Intellectual Circuits, Part 3: Design and Production

MS (Design and Production) brings together the theory and practice of making films, games, and creative apps. “It’s all about the creation of media but also the reflections on the process of creating it,” explains 2nd year MS student Jenna Hoffstein.
For 2nd year MS student Mary LaVenture, many Fine Arts courses were a great complement to her production courses in Telecom, as they allowed her to gain new perspectives. “Telecom courses are often designed to create work geared specifically towards commercial projects or jobs, but Fine Art emphasizes art for the sake of art and self-expression. I think we sometimes box ourselves into a way of thinking, and it’s great to get a fresh perspective on content and subject matter,” she says.  Other courses in areas like SLIS (School of Information and Library Sciences) and Informatics can provide design and production students with new approaches to what they already study. “I’m not justdoing game design,” explains Jenna. “I’m learning about media in a larger context.”

MS (Production and Design) students testing out iPhone and iPad games they developed for an independent study course.

By combining Telecom and outside courses, the design and production students can develop programs of study that are tailored for their interests.  “Classes in each department are structured and taught to emphasize and enhance a certain thought process and stepping away from that helps to create a more well rounded, critical thinking student,” Mary explains. First year MS student Dan Schiffman adds that seeking courses wherever they are available helps one stay ahead of the curve. “Our field is changing so drastically and so quickly that it’s important to understand where things are headed. Studying design theory is relevant everywhere because it will remain useful even as technologies change,” he says.
Regardless of the specific path design students choose to take, all current students agree that self-motivation and cooperation are critical for students in this area. There’s a lot of freedom due to the small number of required classes, so you have to create your own degree and start your own projects. “Take advantage of the independent studies and get to know the other minds in the program so you can collaborate,” Jenna advises.
Suggested courses:
I590: Interaction Culture
I544: Experience Design and Criticism
IDP541: Interaction Design Practice
— Fine Arts courses in MAYA design
— SPEA courses in Arts Administration
Brown Bag

Framing Politics in Science Fiction Television: Problem Solving Through Altered Time and Space

Katie Birge, PhD student, Department of Telecommunication, Indiana University, Bloomington

Abstract:  Many scholars of political communication have used framing as an approach to examining the presentation of societal issues and political events. Much of the existing research has relied solely on news content and political coverage to make a case for the ways in which these issues are framed for public consumption. This presentation will argue that framing of political issues occurs beyond the reaches of the news, using science fiction as its subject of inquiry. Through three case studies—Star Trek: The Original Series, Battlestar Galactica, and V—this presentation will explain the framing techniques used in science fiction television to address key political events or issues: the Cold War, post-September 11th terrorism, and the ongoing immigration debate. By highlighting the ways in which each series addresses the issues prevalent in their time, this presentation will also validate science fiction as a unique test space for framing political issues in new ways as a result of distancing from the real world through altered time and space. This research serves as a starting point for extending framing research beyond news coverage and intentionally politics-themed television.

Birge Audio

The Impact of Visual Attention on Sexual Responses to Same- and Opposite-Sex Stimuli in Heterosexual and Homosexual Men

Lelia Samson, PhD candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University, Bloomington  

Abstract:  This research study investigates how the cognitive and affective mechanisms involved in visual information processing influence men’s sexual responses and preference for same- and opposite-sex erotic stimuli. Barlow’s working model of sexual function and dysfunction (1986) is used to hypothesize that differences in how heterosexual and homosexual men respond to same- versus opposite-sex stimuli may, at least in part, result from differences in affective and attentional reactions to such stimuli. The impact of visual attention on such responses is experimentally tested, using a novel method that allows researchers to simultaneously assess visual attentional selection and experimentally manipulate it while measuring men’s choice-behavior and psychophysiological responses.

Samson’s research was funded by the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant 2010.

Samson Audio


Nicky Lewis:  Cooking with Telecom and Sophie Parkison

Katie Birge:  FC Telecom, Intellectual Circuits, and Brown Bags