Random Pictures of the Week

Happy Halloween everyone!  These festive pictures are shared by Mark Bell and feature the elaborate and scary decor from his family’s front yard.

Mark Bell: Authority on Online Deception

by Ken Rosenberg

Mark Bell, an esteemed member of our cohort, was recently quoted as an authority on online deception. The piece, which ran in the Fashion & Style section of The New York Times, is about the recent spat of falsely-reported celebrity deaths. As Mark pointed out, online deception is an extremely low-cost endeavor, in all respects: financially, morally, and legally. Spreading death-related rumors through media is not a new occurrence (see Mark Twain), but the Internet makes it easier for anyone to spread falsehoods.

Mark’s wife, Sarah Smith-Robbins, works for the Kelley School and has been interviewed by the The New York Times on a few occasions. This time she recommended her husband as the appropriate expert. “It just came through connections,” Mark said. “I was lucky, it was a fun opportunity and I’m humbled by it.” His advice for those of us who have yet to be interviewed for The New York Times? “First, do good work. Second, don’t be afraid to tell people about the work you’ve been doing … it always starts with good work, though.” Mark credits his dissertation work for enabling him to answer questions as an expert.

The article, “One Comeback They Could Skip,” can be found online.

Super Sundays, Mark Bell’s Teaching Honor, Russell’s Movie Collection, Brown Bag

 A Sunday to Remember, by Mike Lang

On Super Bowl Sunday MA student Sean Connolly received a text message. In town for the baptism of his friend’s firstborn son, he jokingly thought he would be the only person in Indianapolis not at the Super Bowl. When the message sunk in, he didn’t know how to respond. Someone was offering him a Super Bowl ticket. A friend of his in advertising had purchased a block of tickets and overbought in case someone important might want to come along at the last minute. As kickoff inched closer and she realized nobody that fit the bill was coming she sent out an email to her friends back in L.A. “Do you know anybody in Indiana who might want to go the Super Bowl.,” to which she received the response, “Isn’t Sean in Indiana?”

Always looking out for others, Sean inquired about scoring a ticket for his friend. He was celebrating the baptism of his first born son after all and what better way to celebrate than with Super Bowl tickets. At 4 o’clock the call came in. They were both Super Bowl bound.

Inside the stadium MS student Sophie Parkison was hard at work. An opportunist at heart, Sophie had stumbled across an opportunity too good to pass up. In early October IU careers posted an announcement about a merchandising job at the Super Bowl. The details were vague. But the chance at getting to a hometown Super Bowl without the astronomical price tag was too good to pass up.

In January the company held an informational meeting. The team would man the merchandise booths inside the stadium during, before, and after the game. The day would start at 6 am and end 20 hours later, well after the teams had loaded into their buses and departed. Instead of an hourly wage, the workers would split 1% of the total profit. The math would work out well below minimum wage, but it’s the Super Bowl.

Sophie crashed at her sister’s place in Speedway Saturday night and braced for an early rise and the long day ahead. The alarm sounded at 4:30, and they left with enough time to catch the 6 o’clock shuttle from the airport which would bus them into Super Bowl Village. The morning was slow and allowed plenty of time for exploring the scene. She never had she seen so many different jerseys in one place. She even managed to talk her way onto the NBC set.

As the game inched closer Sophie made her way to her assigned merchandise booth where the line grew longer and longer. Expecting a bunch of well-off East Coasters willing to spend some money, she happily directed their attention to various products which they snapped up with fervor. One guy spent over a $1,000 on merchandise between two trips.

By the time Sean made it into the stadium, Kelly Clarkson was belting out the national anthem. Seated in Section 404, five rows back from the banister, Sean had a premiere view of the North Endzone. As one of America’s premiere cultural events, many of the attendees could care less about football. It’s a place to see people and be seen. The crowd indeed seemed a bit more placid than a typical regular season game.

For those disinterested in the game, the Super Bowl offered plenty in terms of multimedia entertainment. The Super Bowl commercials were pumped in over the jumbotron for those worried about missing them. Likewise, the scoreboard broadcast Twitter pics taken by fans at the game as well as brief shots of celebrities.

However, no Super Bowl event creates a stir like the halftime show.  Fans, as usual, took their halftime bathroom/food/drink break a few minutes early so they wouldn’t miss the show featuring Madonna and a slew of guests including Cee-Loo Green, LMFAO, MIA, and Nicky Minaj. They missed seeing Patriots drive down the field in the final four minutes of the half.  But the halftime show was worth it. “It blew anything live out of the water that I’ve ever seen. It was so well done.”

During the game the lines died down and Sophie had brief moments of downtime and she discovered the camaraderie among Super Bowl workers.  At the beginning of the game, the concession stand workers approached her and her team to let them know that workers get a free drink, and if they wanted one, they just needed to come and ask. A security guard told them they they could pop over to his section and watch the game. While she wasn’t able to watch much of the game, she did get to watch kickoff and halftime.

The final seconds ticked off the clock in the 3rd quarter and the place transformed. Sean, pulling for the Giants, joined the crowd as the dignity and the reservation disappeared and the crowd turned into a bunch of hardcore football fans. With every big play the crowd roared louder and louder.  Those not quite sure who to root for or why started feeling the tension and began pulling for a team. Down 21-17 with 9 seconds left Tom Brady chucked up a desperate 55-yard Hail Mary pass into the end zone. Sitting on the opposite side Sean heard the crowd erupt but couldn’t tell what happened. He was too far away. Had the Patriots pulled the upset? Had the Giants taken down the Patriots again? As the jumbotron played the replay, the crowd roared its approval. This was a Giants crowd.

Everyone stuck around for the Lombardi trophy presentation and the confetti dropped from the ceiling. Shouts of “Go Giants” echoed through the stadium as happy football fans filed out of the stadium. Even though broken hearted Patriots left with their heads hanging, they weren’t harassed by the Giants faithful. The crowd was overwhelmingly positive, a stark departure from most football games where visiting fans have to keep their head down win or lose.  “I was surprised. I was expecting Brady hate. I know Boston. I know New York. I was expecting a rumble” Sean said.

Sophie watched the confetti fall as she tallied up her credit card receipts and cash from her booth. It was 1:30 in the morning and the game had been over for hours. She descended the stadium steps to find a number of people in suits down on the field kicking field goals, drinking, and making snow angels in the confetti. It was an adult playground.  Following suit shedropped to the Lucas Oil field turf and made snow angels in the confetti commerating the Giants for winning Super Bowl XLVI.

With a Little Help From My Friends, by Mike Lang

Last Semester Ph.D candidate Mark Bell had the honor of serving as the instructor of record for T205: Introduction to Media and Society and his exceptional work in the classroom did not go unnoticed. In December Tamera sent out an email alerting Telecom grad students to the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award. Teaching has always been a source of pride for Mark, and figuring he had done a fairly good job in T205, he decided to apply. Maybe he could be the department’s nominee. That would be a nice line for the CV.

Because the application process required immediate attention, Mark went to work assembling his package as quickly as possible. He worked with Tamera to get his student evaluations back before the application deadline. He also leaned on friends and family. Working with his business professor wife and a slew of friends who have won teaching awards, he composed a teaching statement, something he had never done before.

He submitted the application and promptly forgot about it until Rob Potter, member of the Graduate Committee’s Awards and Fellowships Subcommittee,  sent him an email informing him that he had been selected as the department’s nominee. Mission accomplished.

Mark then got another email from Harmeet Sawhney, grad director. Don’t forget to have your video ready.  Currently an AI for T101: Media Life, he conspired with co-AI Ratan Suri and “borrowed” his class to record a short 10-minute video. He set up the video recording gear and proceeded to give his mini-lecture. By Mark’s admission it was just ok, he could have done better but at least he had his video. Sitting down outside of Ratan’s classroom he set his video camera to playback to see how had done. Nothing. He had forgotten to hit record. Sheepishly he approached Ratan after class and told him he needed to do it again. Much happier with his second take than his first, he rushed home to upload the video in accordance with the application’s strict instructions. He then moved on to other things thinking no way would he be a contender at the University level.

Awhile later, Mark had to attend a funeral in Columbus for a distant relative. He got home to an email from Tamera at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  The University Graduate School needed department chair Walt Gantz’s signature on his application form – an important detail he had overlooked.  No problem, he would be on campus all day Tuesday and could do it then. He sent out the reply, changed into workout clothes, and went for a run. He returned sweaty and out of breath to another email. Tuesday was too late, the form needed to be turned in today. The clock was ticking. Still in his workout clothes he jumped in his car and raced to campus. Tamera worked her magic and got the form signed, and told Mark the form had to be turned in to the graduate school, which was located behind the Union. Mark hopped back in his car and parked in front of the HPER. He cut through the Union and thought he would sneak through the back of the bookstore. No luck, that exit doesn’t exist anymore.  He ran back out of the bookstore and into the Union again. Time was ticking. The office closed at 5. He ran through the Union to the Starbucks exit. Relief, the graduate school was in front of him and he had 5 minutes.

As he exited the Union, the form flew out of his hand and flew down the street on the gusts of wind blowing that way like a scene out of a movie. Fortunate for Mark, IU is full of considerate undergrads who helped chase down that important piece of paper. He asked one of the undergrads for directions to the office and ran over.

As the clock ticked 5 o’clock he submitted the form to Yvonne Dwigans, fellowships coordinator in the graduate office. Completely oblivious to the entire procedure, he asked what the next step was. Surely the candidates needed to be evaluated and he could forget about this until then. He was told that the candidates had already been evaluated. He was confused. If the candidates had been evaluated why had he just raced around campus trying to turn in this form?  Much to Mark’s surprise, Yvonne informed him that he was the nominee, not just for the department but for IU. Out of all the talented grad students on campus he had been selected as IU’s nominee!

Soon Mark will get an email from somebody telling him he needs to go to somewhere to do something for the next stage of the competition where he has to compete with students teachers from 60 schools. Here is to hoping the process goes a bit smoother.

Russell’s massive movie collection, by Ken Rosenberg

If you want to talk about film history in a serious sense, or just rattle off your list of favorite productions, there is someone you should stop in the halls for some good discussion. Master’s student Russell McGee collects comic books and plays video games, but his biggest passion is cinema. As evidence, consider his movie collection, which he estimates contains somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 films and television series. Media scholars are guaranteed, almost by definition, to have more than a passing interest in audiovisual entertainment, but Russell takes this axiom to its furthest extent. “I easily spend over a thousand dollars a year on DVDs,” he said. Think of a classic movie, fun cartoon, or cheesy B-movie. Without knowing your choice, I can practically guarantee that Russell has a copy of it. He has almost everything with Dracula star Bela Lugosi, including the obscure 1923 film The Silent Command. Every available Hitchcock film is in this aficionado’s massive stock of movies, including various alternate versions from France and Germany.

Russell really likes Godzilla…

Russell’s first love, though, was with older horror and science fiction films; his favorite movie is the 1960 version of The Time Machine. With his grandmother, he would watch movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers on a tiny television at her home in New Jersey. Russell also remembers watching horror movies on Indiana’s Channel 4, during the “Nightmare Theater” block hosted by personality Sammy Terry, who would dress up as a ghoulish figure to introduce such classics as Godzilla and King Kong. “As a kid, they weren’t really that cheesy,” Russell explained. Of course, as he got older, the ‘quality’ of some of these movies became readily apparent. However, that does not diminish his love for these low-budget gems. In fact, it just gives Russell another way to enjoy them, by having weekly screenings with friends to enjoy the company, a drink or two, and the resultant roasting of campy flicks. For the past seven years, Russell has started off his Monday evenings by pulling out a stack of selections from his collection, to be whittled down to the night’s viewing list by his cohorts. Ironically, as a filmmaker, Russell is not interested in making anything related to horror or science fiction. As the artistic director of Starrynight Productions, he focuses on drama and other more serious fare.

Russell has engaged with films in a variety of roles. He started collecting movies in high school and cringed when he had to make the transition from VHS to DVD.  But now he has embraced the battle to keep his collection on the sharpest possible format – while still judiciously deciding which titles deserve the Blu-Ray double-dip. In his youth he worked for Suncoast Video, whose employee discount only provided further encouragement for his hobby. While at Suncoast, Russell vehemently explained that the widescreen format, while appearing to crop the image, actually shows more of the picture. “I did my part in the conversion,” Russell affirmed like a proud civil servant. As part of the projection and management teams at Spencer’s Cinema 67 drive-in theater, he got to know the owners, who allowed him to perform live tributes to Charlie Chaplin before screenings.

Russell (far right) and Emily (far left) on the set of “Popping the Question and Tying the Knot.”

Reprising his role as a lovable tramp earlier this year, Russell wrote and co-starred in a short film for a Hugo-related film contest. With the help of fellow graduate student Shannon Schenck, he edited a second of the film which he will use in lieu of the traditional “save the date” cards, entitled Popping the Question and Tying the Knot. This summer Russell will be getting married to opera singer and Ph.D. student in the music school Emily Solt. Their engagement photos will look like old lobby cards. She is definitely onboard with his stylistic choice. “I hit the motherload,” Emily thought to herself when first setting eyes upon Russell’s ridiculously large amassment of movies. She estimates that her collection of DVDs –impressive, but meager in comparison – has contributed a little less than 10% to their now-shared stock.

Those shelves are layered–there are twice as many movies than are visible in this shot. (Plus, there’s an entire third one off-camera!)

Upon merging both their movies and their lives, Russell set out to build the massive shelving system that houses their media. To make sure it was a lasting edifice, he eschewed nails and screws in favor of drilling holes and using wood pegs to lock everything into place—a laborious and time-consuming process that cost him almost six months. As helpful as those units have been, Russell might have to build more soon; they already have a surplus that has trickled into other rooms in the house. Off to the side of the home theater setup, Russell has resurrected a bit of his past: a “theater corner” of sorts where he keeps memorabilia, like his old hand-crank film projector from the 1920s and an old-fashioned popcorn machine. After making popcorn the “right” way at the drive-in for so long, Russell wanted something more authentic and better-tasting than the microwaveable stuff.

Movie buffs, beware – if you sit down with Russell, prepare to meet your match. After all, do you have the Laserdisc copy of the 1985 version of Godzilla? Didn’t think so.

Brown bag 

Where social and technological forces collide: New protest tools reveal authoritarian regimes fumbling to maintain political power

Lindsay Ems (Presenter), Hans Ibold and Joe DiGrazi (Discussants)

Due to the recent proliferation and impact of protest events in the Middle East, northern Africa, and the recent development of a worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement, scholars in a number of disciplines are beginning to examine the people, social structures and technologies that help give these social movements form.  Some theorists have focused on communication technologies, some on social forces and others argue that both of these two perspectives are essential to understanding recent phenomena. Interestingly, all authors (even those who call for a more holistic approach) view these two entities as separate. In this paper, it is suggested, that by side-stepping this distinction, a different kind of inquiry can occur – one which sees the use of a technology as a local artifact which reveals individual and institutional motivations. Aiding this analysis is the presentation of three 2009 cases in which Twitter was used as a tool for expressing political dissent by protesters around the world.

Bios:

Lindsay Ems is a doctoral student at Indiana University in the Department of Telecommunications. Her research topics deal generally with exploring how social and cultural values are expressed in the use of technologies in small groups of people. She examines media technologies and their adoption and impact on and in subcultures. Her recent work explores manifestations of political dissent, anarchy and systemic breakdown in the use of technologies in power struggles between protesters and governments. Her studies also aim to uncover cultural forces at work in shaping the use of technologies in groups of users like the Amish.

Hans Ibold is an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism in Bloomington. His research and teaching explore the ways in which the Internet is transforming journalism and social life. Previously, Hans was technology reporter for the Los Angeles Business Journal, arts editor for the Idaho Mountain Express in Sun Valley, Idaho, and online editor for the J. Paul Getty Trust¹s Getty.edu in Los Angeles. He earned a bachelor¹s degree from The Evergreen State College, a master¹s degree in communication studies from Shippensburg University, and a doctorate in journalism from the University of
Missouri.

Joe DiGrazia is a PhD candidate in the department of sociology at Indiana University and is engaged in research at the intersections of social movements, political participation, public discourse and the media.  His current research focuses on the Tea Party movement and the role of social media in organizing Tea Party activities and mobilizing participants.

The audio to last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown bag 4 (Feb 10, 2012 – Lindsay, Hans, and Joe)


The Year of Spinning, Three in a Row, 3D@IU, Brown Bag

Welcome to Annie’s Wool Land

Professor Annie Lang has a special activity in her life… and it has not only taken on a life of it’s own, but an entire room in her home.  While she has been knitting since she was 9 years old, it is only recently that she began spinning her own yarn.  Annie is now not only a dedicated knitter, but a confirmed spinner and fiber maker.

Once she caught the spinning bug, she became interested in not only making yarn but in following the process all the way back to the animal from which the wool comes from.  Her sitting room now holds containers of wool, fiber from animals besides sheep, and fleece in various stages of processing.  Her most recently acquired batch of wool came from a sheep named Scooter, a fleece she got for free. Once the wool is sheared from the sheep, it goes through a washing process (called scouring)

in order to “desheep”, or remove the oils, dirt, and vegetable matter from the fiber.  The oils in the wool serve to waterproof the fabric, so “desheeping” can clean the wool to a wide range of textures.  “The wool sweater that I knitted for my son was intended to be warm and somewhat waterproof, so I didn’t completely ‘desheep’ the fiber.”  After  the wool has dried completely, it can either be dyed or left as is.  Annie has used food coloring or Kool-Aid packets to dye her wool.  After the drying and dying stage, the wool must be carded, or brushed free of knots and debris.  This part of the process can be done with hand paddles or a mechanical carder.  Annie owns one of the simplest types of machine carders, called a hand crank drum carder.  After the wool is carded, the spinning can begin.

Spinning is the process by which single strands of carded fiber are twisted together to a desired thickness.  Annie has experimented with different fibers and weights to produce different textures in the knitted fabric, including beaded yarns that she strings by hand.  She enjoys working with silk fiber because it not only lightens and softens the fabric, but it also drapes much better.  The spinning wheel that Annie uses was a Christmas gift last year, which commenced the Year of Spinning.  “This year is the Year of Spinning.  Next year will be the Year of Weaving.  I’m interested in making woven rather than knitted fabric and in the fact that one can spin the fibers used to make woven fabric.”  She often spins projects while listening to audio books or while watching Green Bay Packers football games.  Yes, the spinning wheel is mobile enough to move in front of her television.

Annie is also becoming more familiar with the textures of a variety of fibers.  Wool, nylons, and plant fibers all offer varying weights and feel.  She also owns a book that details the differences in the weight, length, and feel of the fleece for many sheep breeds.  But, she’s not restricted
herself to sheep alone.  At the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival, she purchased a fleece for $20, wool that came from an alpaca goat named Stormy.  She explains that the investment will be well worth it, as alpaca yarn is often more expensive and much finer and softer than most wool yarns.  Annie continues her search for other interesting wools and fibers.  But what about the original, Scooter the sheep?  “I don’t know where Scooter is.  I know his parents moved to Indianapolis, so he may have followed them there.”

Fletcher Bell’s Three in a Row

PhD student Mark Bell always tells his students to finish things.  Unfortunately, doling out that kind of advice normally requires the one doling it out to actually follow it. As it applies to Mark Bell it also applies to his novelist alter-ego, Fletcher Bell.

Bell graduated college with an English degree and aspirations of becoming a novelist. He wrote a few books, but none really measured up. Motto in mind, he recently revisited some of his old writings. If they were good enough, he decided he would finish them. While most didn’t make the cut, one book stood out – Three in a Row, a detective story.  As Bell read through the pages, he was unable to put it down, even though he knew the ending.  In Bell’s words, “Oh crap, its not bad.” Determined to finish it, Bell had his book professionally edited, a friend of his designed the cover, and he recruited a group of students to put together a trailer to be posted on Youtube. Bell decided to take the self-publishing route largely because he wanted to test its viability and learn a bit more about the community. Much to his surprise, he discovered a huge community of self-published writers who were incredibly supportive and willing to help. In addition to finding a supportive network, he also found a willing audience. Thus far the sales of Three in a Row have largely come from those involved in the self-publishing community.

Three in a Row is a detective story set in a college town in Indiana. Ben Hudson, a campus policeman, discovers the body of a dead girl, naked, with a game of tic-tac-toe carved on her torso. Teaming up with professor Tristan Clarke, the two set out to find the murderer. The mood of the book is dark, incredibly dark. In addition to the story, Three in a Row has a corresponding soundtrack written by Bell exclusively for the book. Written in D minor, “because that is the saddest most depressing key of all time,” the music sets a mood familiar to anyone who has survived a Bloomington winter; cold, wet, and claustrophobic. In the process of writing, Bell would play the soundtrack over and over again for inspiration. As Bell states, “the book is meant to be read with the soundtrack playing.”

So why the pseudonym? The answer is pretty simple. Mark Bell has a publishing track record in both the academy and in the software business (he has sold over 25,000 books). Dropping his first name in favor of his middle name, allows Bell to separate work from play and prevent any confusion on part of his readers. That said, Fletcher Bell is not just a publishing name. With a website, and a twitter page that boasts over 1,000 Fletcher Bell has taken on a life of his own.

You can purchase a kindle copy of Three in a Row from Amazon here. If you feel inclined don’t be shy about leaving a review on Amazon. They are more important for the sale of self-published books than you might think.

An Update on 3D@IU

When not busy with classes, Chris Eller and Sean Connolly are busy turning IU into one of the premiere 3D destinations in the country. 3D@IU, their unofficial title for all the activities going on around campus that relate to the production of 3D, is slowly but steadily growing. In the spring the department once again plans on offering a special section of T452 that focuses exclusively on 3D production and storytelling. So far 28 students have been through the class, and their work has been featured at the IU Cinema, the Hoosier Heartland Film festival, ESPN 3D, and Beijing’s 3d China Experience Center.

Recently, Connolly was invited to serve on a panel at the 4th annual 3D Entertainment Summit with some of the biggest names in 3D including Bill Chapman, director of 3D production at Turner Studios, Buzz Hays, director of Sony’s 3D technology center, and Howard Postley, COO & CTO of 3ality Digital.

On the production end, Eller has installed a 50 megapixel video wall in the advanced visualization lab.

Brown Bag 

This week’s brown bag presentation featured new Telecom faculty member Paul Wright and Professor Bill Yarber from School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and The Kinsey Institute.  Their presentations focused on male pornography in the United States; what it is, how it is consumed, and what it predicts.  You can listen to the complete audio of the session here.

Paul Wright: “U.S. males and pornography, 1973-2010: Consumption, predictors, correlates.”

Paul Wright joined IU this year as Assistant Professor. Graduate education: California State University, Fullerton; University of  Arizona. Teaching interests include sex in the media, telecommunications processes and effects, media and health, and communication technology theory. Research interests include media effects and health communication, particularly sexual socialization and sexual health. Some representative publications of his work in this field have appeared in The Journal of Sex Research, the American Journal of Media Psychology, the Journal of Family Communication, and Sexuality & Culture.

Bill Yarber: “What is pornography?”

William L. Yarber has authored or co-authored over 130 scientific reports on sexual risk behavior and AIDS/STD prevention in professional journals. He and colleagues from The Kinsey Institute, the University of Kentucky, University of Guelph, and Oxford University are currently focusing on research concerning male condom use errors and problems. At the request of the U.S. federal government, Bill published the country’s first secondary school AIDS prevention curriculum, AIDS: What Young People Should Know (1987). His secondary school curriculum, STD: A Guide for Today’s Young Adults (1985), is considered to have set the standard for a new health behavior approach to school STD prevention education. He is co-author of the textbook: Yarber, W. L., Sayad, B. W., & Strong, B. (2010). Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, New York: McGraw-Hill. This text is used in over 250 colleges and university throughout the United States. Bill chaired the National Guidelines Task Force which developed the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten – 12th Grade, published by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Bill is past president of The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) and past chair of SIECUS board of directors. His awards include the Professional Standard of Excellence from the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists; the SSSS Award of Distinguished Scientific Achievement; the Research Council Award from the American School Health Association; and the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Graduate Student Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award at Indiana University.

Random Quote of the Week

“A dirty book is never a dusty one.” – Bill Yarber, at this week’s Brown Bag Presentation

Credits

Nicky Lewis:  Welcome to Annie’s Wool Land, Brown Bag

Mike Lang:  Fletcher Bell’s Three in a Row, An Update on 3D@IU

Speers Returns, Brewing with Telecom, Intellectual Circuits, Brown Bags

Guest Feature: Laura Speers Returns from London

It was great to come back and visit Bloomington after leaving 10 months ago. Catching up with friends and professors and attending T600 provided much food for thought for reflecting on my time as an MA student at IU and for drawing comparisons between the Telecom graduate program and my current PhD program at King’s College London.

The T600 seminar given by Harmeet last Friday was very poignant for me in emphasizing the key factors that lead to success in one’s program of study. It is easy to get lost in the demands and pressures of classes and the various responsibilities of being an AI or RA, so much so that you lose sight of the big picture of where you are heading and the crucial thesis/project/dissertation at the end of your program. Instead, we should be aiming for ‘flow’, a current that guides and feeds into the big picture of where we are going and who we want to be. Throughout our time in grad school, it is important to focus on the bigger, over-arching aspects of being a researcher. Questions such as what kind of researcher do I want to be and why? What are my motivations and what type of research do I want to do? This kind of meta-analysing and reflecting some people do naturally with no prompts but others need to be pushed to think about and answer those types of questions.

Professional and personal relationships are an important part of the graduate program. In Harmeet’s presentation, he focused a lot on the role of the committee and the graduate student, but one of the most crucial relationships is with the advisor. Choosing the right advisor in my opinion is the key to success. It is not just about liking a particular professor, because you have to be able to build a rapport and maintain a dialogue with that person, almost like a partnership. An ideal advisor keeps you on track yet provides the flexibility and freedom to pursue what you want to do. Having a committee (unique to the North American graduate system) offers grad students amazing professors, essentially there for your disposal so make use of them. The committee meeting isn’t something to dread, or worse a bureaucratic procedure, but a time and place where some brilliant minds are focusing all their attention on you and your ideas, research and progress. Relish it and make the most of it by being prepared.

Since leaving IU and doing my PhD in London, what I have really missed is the sense of community and collegial spirit of the Telecom department where there are an abundance of opportunities to be involved in different projects and to collaborate with others. As Harmeet demonstrated in his presentation, the ‘action’ of the graduate program is not necessarily in classes or the readings. The ‘aha’ moment or intellectual breakthrough happens in between classes, even outside of school, or at a seminar or conference, in a professor’s office, and talking to fellow students informally at the winery in my case. An openness to the opportunities and conversations around you results in the cross-fertilization of new ideas, new questions and different ways of learning. These tend to always be more enlightening and powerful when student-driven rather than top-down. This shared space cohabited by grad students pushes you intellectually but also provides support.

After experiencing this at IU, I’m working to create this kind of environment in my new department.  British PhD programs have no coursework, so from the outset you have to conduct independent research, which was difficult to adjust to after experiencing the highly structured US system. However, it is wonderful to not have the pressures of classes or teaching as it allows for freedom, reflection and flexibility in research and also time and energy to address the important over-arching questions mentioned above. Perhaps the American system could create more space and time to reflect on what constitutes success and how our goals feed into Harmeet’s idea of ‘flow’.

– Laura Speers

Brewing with Telecom

We’ve got more than just ideas fermenting here at Telecom. Two of our grad students, Nic Matthews and Lindsay Ems, have been trying their hand at brewing beer and making wine. For them, it’s a simple hobby that takes relatively little time and produces rich rewards.

Grad student Nic Matthews pours some of his homebrew.

After receiving a Mr. Beer home brew kit as a Valentine’s Day gift this year, Nic got started right away, choosing a lager mix from the kit for his first trial run. It failed. “Apparently sanitation is a lot more important that I initially thought. An improperly sanitized can opener might have killed my first batch,” he says. Nic recalls leaving the bottles alone for days at a time hoping the batch would get better with age. At first, he thought its unusual flavor might have been planned. “I asked myself, ‘Does this taste like wine, or is it a really sophisticated beer flavor?’ And then I determined that it was just really bad beer,” he explained. Nic’s second batch has been a success, and he hopes to upgrade to a bigger brewing kit in the future. “It’s kind of like brewing with training wheels, and I can’t wait to graduate from that when I’m good enough.”

Lindsay’s first attempt at wine about five years ago met a similar fate. Her grandmother grew Concord grapes, and she borrowed her mother’s juicer to use them for wine making. Her mother, allergic to grape seeds, broke out in a rash while helping with the process. Then Lindsay added too much sugar to the bottles, which made many of them explode. “A few survived, so I gave them away as gifts. I tried some of the wine later, and it was terrible,” she laments.

She purchased a user-friendly wine kit shortly after that, and eventually added a beer kit. “I’ve made about 4 batches in the year-and-a-half since I received it, and it’s turned out really well every time,” she explains. Lindsay’s beer kit is similar to Nic’s, but she’s modified the barrel to say “Ms. Beer” instead. She’s working through the last of the mixes from the kit, and then she plans to upgrade to a more complex system.

For both of them, the appeal of brewing is in the process. “There are steps to follow, and it’s fun. Six weeks later you have free beer,” says Lindsay, who will start brewing a new batch after has she’s worked her way through her last batch. “It’s a good sit-in-your-closet type of thing,” adds Nic. “You just have to check up on it from time to time, and then it rewards you with beer.”

Intellectual Circuits, Part 4: Kinsey and Social Informatics


The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction

Of all the inter-disciplinary links featured in the Intellectual Circuits series, the relationship between Department of Telecommunications and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is one that is seeing quantum development.  Its roots were planted with a Ford Foundation study on how sex research is covered in the media, where Professors Bryant Paul and Betsi Grabe served as advisors.  The study resulted in a mini-conference and laid the groundwork for further collaboration between Telecom and Kinsey.

While the relationship lacks true formality, Bryant Paul currently serves as a Kinsey Faculty Fellow and Appointee at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion.  Bryant explains that due to the sensitive nature of the content that Kinsey researches, they have to be extremely careful with whom they associate.  “The Kinsey Institute is an easy target for a lot of groups who are concerned with what they research.  They conducted mostly survey research over the past 10 years and  have steered recently towards experimental research, which opens doors for more criticism.”

In addition to its scientific activities as research center, the Kinsey Institute serves as a information resource.  It boasts an extensive library and art collection.  With regard to course work, the Kinsey Institute offers a minor in Human Sexuality at the undergraduate and graduate level.  Bryant’s Sex and the Media course is one of the courses in the minor. There is considerable potential for further growth in the collaboration between Telecom and Kinsey.  Bryant explains, “The Institute itself only has three faculty members, but it serves as a jumping off point for getting great research ideas.  I have had the opportunity to work with a number of people from different schools and departments.”

Doctor student Lelia Samson came to Kinsey by way of her interest in gender studies.  She took a course called ‘Concepts of Gender’ in the fall of 2008, which was held at the Kinsey Institute.  This opened her awareness to other Kinsey courses and research.  She was intrigued in particular by a course called ‘K690 Sexual Science Research Methods.’  It was this course that truly expanded her thinking about the scientific study of sexuality and useful employment of multidisciplinary research methods.  She saw how beneficial it is to approach a topic from a variety of perspectives and employ a variety of methods. “The KI researchers manage to overcome any tributary allegiances to their maternal field and collaborate across disciplines to better understand their variables of interest.”

Lelia was awarded one of the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grants for 2010 – 2011.  She says this grant had much to do with her ongoing collaboration with Dr. Erick Janssen, which started with a paper she wrote for K690.  Janssen, Lelia’s mentor at the Kinsey Institute, encourages students to think in creative and progressive ways.  He also serves as faculty in Cognitive Science, another program with strong ties to the Department of Telecommunications.  Lelia hopes that these connections with the Kinsey Institute are only the beginning.  “I hope that more and more students will pursue the studies of sexual mediated messages.  The research questions raised appeal to our basic drives as human beings and serve as socialization and information agents in today’s society.”  The Department of Telecommunications is indeed building on this collaboration with the addition of faculty member Prof. Paul Wright in the fall.

See more information about the Kinsey Institute Student Research Grant here.

Social Informatics

Social Informatics is a multi-disciplinary route for those interested in the way people interact with technologies and the ways those technologies interact with them. “The term ‘social informatics’ does not really exist outside of a few schools,” explains PhD candidate Ratan Suri, adding that the late Rob Kling, renowned scholar at the School of Library and Information Science coined the term.

The interdisciplinary nature of Social Informatics is reflected in the range of schools and departments whose courses are included in the PhD Minor in Social Informatics:  School of Library and Information Science, School of Informatics and Computing, Department of Communication and Culture, Kelley School of Business, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Education, Department of Geography, Department of Political Science, and Department of Telecommunications. “Classically, social informatics is the study of the computerization of social structures,” explains PhD candidate Mark Bell. “It’s a school of thought essentially brought about by Rob Kling, who thought people were getting hyperbolic views of technology and said, ‘Whoa. We need to take an empirical look at this.'”

PhD student Lindsay Ems explains that Telecom and SI are intrinsically linked to one another. “It’s really a better question to ask how the two aren’t related,” she says. “Social informatics is the nexus of technology and people, and everything we study in our own department falls under that.” In addition, the two complement each other by allowing a researcher to study the same phenomenon from different angles. “Telecom people might look at technology and media in a broader sense, CMCL (Communication and Culture) might look at technology and lifestyle, and people in Informatics might see technology and work, and by studying social informatics, we get to see all of that,” Lindsay explains. Ratan adds that it’s good to get a sampling of how each department approaches the study of technology.

The Social Informatics courses are good vehicles for extending viewpoints beyond what many Telecom courses offer, but having a background in Telecom classes also helps bring a unique perspective to a Social Informatics class. “I think that in Social Informatics, sometimes the quantitative side of research can get forgotten, and so taking my social science stuff from here helps over there. I also think that we live in our cave of social science too often, and it’s good to get out every now and then,” Mark says.

Recommended courses: S513:  Organizational Informatics, S514: Computerization in Society, S518:  Communication in Electronic Environments, C626: Digital Cultures, I709: Social Informatics, T551: Communication, Technology, and Society

Brown Bags 

Measuring Motivation Activation in a Virtual World: Predicting Individual Differences of Appetitive and Aversive Measures

Mark Bell, PhD Candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Abstract:  This presentation describes research that extends previous work on motivational activation systems linking Approach System Activation (ASA) and Defense System Activation (DSA) levels to media use, gender and age. This study collects individual Motivational Activation Measures of virtual world residents (N= 480), using the Virtual Data Collection Interface (VDCI) developed in the Indiana University Department of Telecommunications, and compares them to previous results. The results show the virtual world residents as higher in both ASA and DSA with larger than normal proportions of co-activating and inactive individuals. This work helps validate the MAM by expanding the pool of participants.

You can access the audio for Mark’s T600 talk here: Mark Bell T600 Audio

Applying a Socio-technical Lens to Study the Influence of GIS  on Historical Research Practices and Outcomes

Ratan Suri, PhD candidate, Department of Telecommunications, Indiana University

Abstract:  The last decade or so has seen the uptake and use of GIS (Geographical Information Systems) by an enterprising group of researchers interested in applying this technology to study historical events. This presentation reports the preliminary results of a two year ethnographic research study of a Community of Practitioners (Lave & Wenger,1991) using GIS for researching historical events from a spatio-temporal perspective. Using two case studies, ‘Ghettoization of Budapest, and ‘Role of railroads in shaping the spatial politics in wheat growing districts in California in 19 Century’, the study showcases how use of GIS is not only transforming how historical research is being done, but also tries to capture through explicit examples, how a spatio-temporal approach sheds new light on historical events.

You can access the audio to Ratan’s T600 talk here: Ratan Suri T600 Audio

Credits

Katie Birge:  Brewing with Telecom, Social Informatics Intellectual Circuit, and Brown Bags

Nicky Lewis:  Speer Returns and  Kinsey Intellectual Circuit

Special Thanks

Laura Speers:  Guest Feature

Visiting Scholars, Visiting Hometowns, Award Winning Book, and NCA

An Afternoon at Upland Brewery with Huy and Thien

Grad student Mary LaVenture wore a comfy and tan-colored sweater Sunday afternoon, to which Thien Truong commented, “You look like a mother bear.”  Followed by a burst of laughter, Thien and Huy Ky Do began to share their story of the past several weeks spent observing the Department of Telecommunications.   They are both visiting scholars from Hue University in Vietnam.  Before their trip to the States came to an end, Huy and Thien made the trip to Upland Brewery to sample some local brews and foods.

Huy and Thien first came to learn about IU from Professor Ron Osgood, who met them while traveling to Vietnam for work on his documentary.  They had the opportunity to come to Bloomington on a travel grant.  Huy and Thien are both fine arts instructors and plan to create a video production program in their department next year.  Asked what he will take away from IU experience, Huy said he has been most impressed by the people, culture and facilities here.

The classroom dynamics in the Department are much different from those at Hue University.  Huy explained that discussions are much more open here.  The environment allows for people of many different ages, races and backgrounds to interact.  Vietnam’s classrooms are much more formal.  In addition, the culture is one of respect.  Students in Vietnam, no matter what their age, always bow to the instructor as a sign of respect.

Outside of the classroom, a point of interest for both Huy and Thien is the local food culture.  The abundance of local markets in Vietnam makes it easy for people to use fresh ingredients and prepare meals in the home.  Some of the staples include rice, vegetables and fish. In Vietnam, food is something to be shared with family.  Coffee is also important to their culture, with coffeehouses and street vendors quite common.  Thien considers coffee to be more than a drink, it cultivates social activity as well. 

When asked to elaborate further on social activities, Huy explained he was too old for those kind of things, but Thien shared that he enjoys shooting pool and throwing darts with friends.

Huy was impressed with the easy access to museums, theaters and galleries compared to his native Vietnam.  While Huy and Thien explain that networks like CNN, BBC and HBO are quite popular, their nation’s news coverage is controlled.  Thien was surprised at the number of interviews in local TV news in the US.  In Vietnam, interviews are much more limited.

After spending several weeks in Bloomington, Huy and Thien have begun to miss their families.  Huy has two sons, ages 8 and 15.  Thien has a one-year-old daughter.  After sharing photos of their children, Thien shared another insight into their culture.  While Huy and Thien are both instructors in their department, Thien still calls  Huy ‘teacher’ as a sign of respect and friendship.

Sabbaticals Abroad and Returning Home

The student union at Cardiff University in Wales. Photo credit: Betsi Grabe

For faculty members, sabbaticals can be opportunities for travel and work, but for two of our own, the semester away from the department has been about returning home. Recently back from her travels abroad during her sabbatical, Professor Betsi Grabe says she spent much of her time reuniting with family and friends in and around her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. “Really, it was a trip about getting back to my roots,” she says.

For the beginning of her sabbatical travels abroad, Betsi was offered the opportunity to be a distinguished fellow at Cardiff University in Wales. “It was spectacular timing, and the invitation came right as I was planning sabbatical.” Betsi gave several talks on journalism at the university over the course of two weeks before heading to South Africa.

Once there, Betsi caught up with relatives and longtime friends before taking a short trip to the coastline of Mozambique, where her family once vacationed during her childhood. “I’ve travelled some in my life, and there is nothing like the beaches there,” Betsi says. “They’re so wide, and the skies there are so large, and there is no one in sight.”

Professor Betsi Grabe along the beaches and big African skies in Mozambique.

Fellow faculty member Mark Deuze, also on sabbatical, has spent much of the semester on a whirlwind tour to discuss media life and media work. Much like Betsi’s travels, Mark’s trip gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his homeland, as he spent some of his time in the Netherlands and visiting his hometown of Eindhoven. Mark presented at a special event at the university there, where an unexpected reunion occurred. “The event was in an amazing all-blue theater in the city where I grew up, so some old friends showed up by surprise,” he says.

Mark’s presentations and lectures spanned Europe, allowing him to check out several locations in the Netherlands as well as Portugal and Belgium. Many of the events focused on two of Mark’s current books and his forthcoming book Media Life, which will be out next year.

Award Winning Book: Image Bite Politics

Professors Betsi Grabe and Erik Bucy received the Distinguished Book Award from the Communication and Social Cognition division of NCA last week for their book, Image Bite Politics. The book also received the ICA’s Outstanding Book Award this year.

Grad Students at NCA

IU Telecom was well represented at the 96th annual Nation Communication Association conference in San Francisco. On Sunday Lindsay Ems (Ph.D. student) presented “Protesters use Microblogging Tools to Make Their Voices Heard in New Ways.” Then on Monday Nic Matthews (Ph.D. student) presented a poster on work done for Betsi’s content analysis class. Tuesday’s presentations included MA student Sanja Kapidzic (her work with Susan Herring) and Ph.D. student Mark Bell (a social media research panel).  Ph.D. students Matt Falk and Travis Ross (along with MA graduate Jim Cummings) also volunteered during the conference.

PhD student Nic Matthews presenting his poster on bathroom graffiti at NCA. Photo Credit: Mark Bell

Credits

Nicky Lewis: Visiting Scholars

Katie Birge: Sabbaticals Abroad and Award Winning Book

Special Thanks

Mark Bell: Photo and guest contribution for Grad Students at NCA


A Top Paper, Mark and the Janissary Collective, the Third Dimension, and the Market for Eyeballs

This week’s edition brings an array of happenings from all ends of the department:   conference honors for Travis Ross,  Wednesday meetings of  the Janissary Collective in Mark Deuze’s office,  Chris Eller’s 3D project “An Ancient Pond,” and the brown bag featuring Ted Castronova’s quest for the elusive eyeballs of video game players.

Travis Ross has a Top 5 Paper at Meaningful Play 2010

Doctoral student Travis Ross has received recognition with a Top 5 paper at the upcoming 2010 Meaningful Play conference.

PhD student Travis Ross and co-author Jim Cummings received top paper recognition for the upcoming Meaningful Play 2010 Conference. Photo Credit: Travis Ross

The paper, entitled “Optimizing the Psychological Benefits of Choice: Information Transparency & Heuristic Use in Game Environments,” was co-authored by Travis and IU Telecom grad alum Jim Cummings. Jim, who completed his MA here, is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at Stanford University’s Department of Communication.

Travis and Jim will present the paper at the conference, which will be held October 21-23 at Michigan State University. With regard to the top paper honor, Travis says, “I’m really excited. I knew our paper had some potential, but I thought it would lead to an empirical study, not an award.” The paper, along with the other 4 top papers, will be compiled into a special issue of the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations on meaningful play.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of writing this paper, according to Travis, is the opportunity to work with Jim, a former classmate. “Although writing the paper was time consuming, I really enjoyed it,” he says. “Jim is a great co-author, and it isn’t everyday that you get to produce academic work with someone you also consider a close friend.”

Mark Deuze and the Janissary Collective

If you happen to walk by Professor Mark Deuze’s office on Wednesdays around lunch time, you might notice a small group of students and faculty inside.  It is a constant flow with people popping in for minutes or hours at a time, crowded on the couch or sitting on the floor.  What they talk about varies from week to week, but it often revolves around works in progress, current research ideas, and life in general.  The meetings often include some variations of caffeine and sweets and the discussions range from popular culture to philosophy.

Mark explains that the group began last year, with just Laura Speers and Peter Blank coming to his office to chat.  Eventually it grew to the size it is today, with a core group of around 10 people, coming from several different departments on campus.  In addition to both graduate and undergraduate students from Telecom, the group includes students from Learning Sciences, Journalism, Informatics, and Communication and Culture. Professors Mary Gray (CMCL) and Hans Ibold (Journalism) also drop by regularly.

Recently, several  students from the Wednesday meetings collaborated to write a chapter for the upcoming Routledge Handbook of Participatory Cultures under the pseudonym The Janissary Collective (evoking the spirit of Ottoman warriors against theories, paradigms, and methods that dampen free thinking). This chapter focuses on developing a definition of participatory culture and situating the individual in it. The group is also collaborating on future writing projects, including an essay on authority and digital media in the British fashion magazine Under The Influence, and a chapter in a forthcoming NYU Press anthology on social media and dissent.

Last week’s meeting covered a wide range of topics, including: concepts of online identity, the idea that being delusional can lead to happiness (according to Woody Allen), and notions of what makes a culture unique.  Participants of last week’s meeting included: Siyabonga Africa, Mark Bell, Peter Blank, Watson Brown, Lindsay Ems, Mary Gray, Hans Ibold, Mike Lang, Nicky Lewis, Jenna McWilliams, Nina Metha, Brian Steward, Mary Gray and Daphna Yeshua-Katz.

See a clip of the discussion on the possibility that we all exist in our own Truman Shows and how the concept of delusion may hold an answer:

3D at IU Telecom

“An Ancient Pond,” a stereoscopic 3D short film project by MS student Chris Eller, wrapped up its filming over the weekend. The project’s shooting finished on Sunday with cast and crew recording final scenes in the IU Arboretum and in Telecom’s own Studio 5. “It’s a film about power, assassination, revenge, and innocence,” says Chris, who is filming “An Ancient Pond” as part of his final project, which will eventually include two other shorts in 3D. “This is the first project that Telecom has really been involved in. This has been in pre-production for three months.”

In addition to shooting his own work, Chris is also helping Professor Susan Kelly teach T452: 3D Storytelling. The course,

Chris Eller edits 3D video footage for "An Ancient Pond."

a pioneering one in the country, immerses 12 students in semester-long advanced 3D production work. The students were selected on the basis of an application process, and the high demand led to the addition of another course in the spring.  Chris is hoping to develop a course design for future 3D production classes through a special T540 project this semester.

Chris says that producing 3D film is really interesting because it presents unique challenges. “There’s the added complexity of the 3D camera rig. The two cameras have to work together,” he says. From a production standpoint, Chris says he’s gaining a new awareness for the techniques involved in capturing the magic of 3D. “You have to be much more conscious of how you frame. You have to reconceptualize everything, but then there’s a new sense of realism,” he says.

The finished product of “An Ancient Pond” will be viewed in the soon-to-be completed IU Cinema, which will be 3D-ready when its renovations are finished. Chris is also helping IU Cinema gather 3D content through both grad and undergrad projects. The IU Cinema’s grand opening gala will be in January.

Grad student Chris Eller makes adjustments to the stereoscopic 3D camera.

For the future, Chris has several other 3D projects planned. On the agenda for upcoming months are a thriller/comedy involving zombies and a documentary on the art of bookbinding.

In addition to talking with us this week, Chris was interviewed for a pair of 3D-themed stories in the Indiana Daily Student for the Weekender section. You can view one of the stories through the IDS website here:

http://www.idsnews.com/news/weekend/story.aspx?id=76926

Brown Bag

Professor Ted Castronova was featured in the T600 Brown Bag Presentation this past Friday:

THE MARKET FOR EYEBALLS

Abstract

Much has been written about the Attention Economy, yet there are not many conceptual tools for thinking about it in terms of Communications.  How does a game designer know how many monsters to put into a Facebook game?  Adding monsters costs money, yet more monsters – to a point – are needed to capture the eyeballs she needs to make a profit.  What is this market for eyeballs??  In this talk I start with a model of limited cognitive resources and end with a model of supply and demand for attention.  In other words, I walk the long, arduous, dangerous, difficult road from Annie to David.  I’ll need help on the way, so come with me!

Take a look at some of Ted’s presentation here:

Credits:

Nicky Lewis: Mark and the Janissary Collective and the Market for Eyeballs

Katie Birge: Travis Ross has Top Paper and 3D at IU Telecom