Mark Deuze Says Goodbye

By Edo Steinberg

Prof. Mark Deuze has been at IU for nine years, first as a visiting professor in Journalism and Communication and Culture for one year, followed by eight years in Telecom. He is now leaving for the University of Amsterdam, but will remain associated with IU and may return one day.

“I’m sorry to be leaving,” Mark says. “I really like being here, but home is calling. I have an elderly mother who needs support and all my friends and family are there. I need to be there for a while and then I’ll see what happens next.”

Mark will continue to follow developments concerning the merger between Telecommunications, Communication and Culture and the School of Journalism. “I’m obviously very interested in IU and the new school,” he says. “It could be something really amazing.”

“What I’ll remember most is freedom,” Mark says of his experiences in our department and in the United States. “Freedom to live your life, to build a home, to work on your career, to teach your own classes, and to work with students that you like. There’s a lot of space and freedom to do your own thing. That is very rare, especially in Europe. That’s definitely what I’ll remember and what I won’t find where I’m going.”

“I’m very grateful to the university and this department for allowing me to do my own things, like T101, which is a really crazy course. To be able to develop that in freedom and to remodel it and to make it the way it is now, that’s a lot of trust,” Mark says. “I’ve learned so much. I really feel like I’m going back to apply the lessons learned.”

Mark’s signature undergraduate class, T101, will now be taught by Amy Gonzales. “She’s fantastic, so I’m really excited that she’s going to take it over. She’s a wonderful new professor with an amazing research track record, so the quality of the course will definitely improve. I think it will fit better with the rest of the curriculum. Right now it is its own weird animal, and with Amy teaching it, it can become the benchmark course for the new school.”

T505, Mark’s core MS course, also has new possibilities in its future. “Steve Krahnke has taught it in the past and that went well. Maybe Robby Benson can teach it. That would be cool. Maybe somebody with a production and management background, more so than me, would teach it. I’m just a researcher. That would be very beneficial to the MS students.”

“It’s good that professors don’t own classes,” Mark says. “It kind of happens, when you develop a course and you teach it every year. But it’s good if there’s dynamism and rotation.”

Good luck in Amsterdam, Mark, and hopefully we’ll see you in Bloomington again!

Mark and Miek – A Mediated Friendship

by Ken Rosenberg

Mark presenting with Miek, at her exhibit in the Grunwald Gallery of the Fine Arts building.

Professor Mark Deuze met Miek van Dongen when they were both 19 years old. They would become lifelong friends, eventually inspiring each other to create brilliantly imaginative works – but their initial common ground was much less intellectually lofty. Of course, though the details of the various paths Mark has taken differ: everything began with him up on stage, an aspiring rock star. On this occasion, he was actually playing rock music; he was in a band with a mutual friend who introduced him to Miek. Mark had an upcoming interview with Michael Gira of Swans (a post-punk, experimental-industrial rock group) in Amsterdam and Miek, being a huge Swans fan herself, asked to tag along as a photographer. Mark had a destination, Miek had ideas, and they worked together to bring it all to fruition (and to have fun, naturally).

Miek is an artist. She is also a casual student of many other disciplines – everything from philosophy to physics – who seeks an “intuitive understanding” from books and articles that catch her interest. Keen to share, Miek would always come to Mark with some new revelation in a stack of paper, hoping he would be inspired as much as she was. One such work was an essay from theoretician Hakim Bey’s book Immediatism. It is about the pervasiveness of media and its impact on our lives – or, correspondingly, our very existence is mediated to some degree. As the degree increases, people experience a loss of intimacy because technological mediation dilutes the closeness of firsthand sensory experience. The concept is not without precedent, but Bey’s unique wording and framing would truly inspire Mark – eventually.

For the next 20 years, the essay would sit in a folder at the bottom of a box, but, more importantly, it remained in Mark’s possession. As he finished his education and traveled around the world, Bey’s writing managed to survive the journey to each subsequent destination. Mark’s friendship with Miek endured through the next couple of decades, as well. They would write each other at least a few times each year, meet whenever possible, and maintain the strong bond over similar worldviews that first united them. When Mark began working on his latest book, Media Life, he serendipitously stumbled upon the essay, understanding its words as he never had before. In his book, Mark also espouses the perspective of existence as an ever-mediated experience:

“Who you are, what you do, and what all of this means to you does not exist outside of media. Media is to us as water is to fish. This does not mean life is determined by media – it just suggests that whether we like it or not, every aspect of our lives takes place in media.”

The main difference is that Mark believes the only way to reestablish intimacy and become empowered is to become more aware of, more proficient with media. Since efforts to escape media are futile – and eschewing them all is impossible – the best people can do is to become aware of the mediated enviroment in which they are living.

‘media love’ – by Miek van Dongen
“It’s quite intense and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous, in a weird sort of way.” (Mark, on Miek’s art) 

Shortly after having his epiphany, Mark contacted Miek to thank her, and to ask her if she would like to create the art for his book. Miek was glad to hear that her recommendation had proven inspirational, albeit belatedly so, and was intrigued by Mark’s ideas. She accepted Mark’s offer and, in turn, was inspired to create some intense pencil-and-watercolor drawings that capture the essence of embodied experience and ever-mediated communication. Of the collection, sixteen drawings were chosen to be featured in the book, two for each chapter: one at the beginning of each chapter, one at the midpoint. Interestingly, the drawings were chosen and placed without any purposeful connection to the adjacent passages. Furthermore, the two creators worked somewhat independently – at first. However, as Miek’s drawings came, Mark was influenced by one of her strongest artistic propensities. “It’s all about body parts: dissembling and reassembling, infused with technology,” Mark said about her art. “She would constantly make me aware, even though that wasn’t her plan, of the body. As media scholars and theorists, there is often a tendency to almost ignore blood, sweat, and tears. You talk about emotions to a certain extent but, basically, there’s this clean proposition of how media fits into everyday life. Everyday life is a mess. It’s emotional, it’s smelly, and it’s blood, sweat, and tears – and that dimension is often lacking in media theory, in most social theory.”

Having done book tours in the past, Mark knew he wanted to do something different when debuting Media Life. “It’s tough being on the road all the time,” he explained, “and you’re traveling around just to get ten minutes in a lecture hall. Sometimes, there are people who are excited to hear from you but, other times …  it’s sort of hit-or-miss.” Because the project is much more personal, this time, Mark thought it would be exciting to share the unveiling of his book with Miek, to try art galleries as the settings for his book-tour talks. Mark and Miek began their book-tour this past Wednesday with a talk at IU’s Grunwald Gallery. Miek’s drawings and other interactive media are currently featured in the left wing of the gallery:

Miek also defied expectations on this project. As a former web developer, she has done plenty of digital work. As an artist that dislikes the cold, impersonal nature of the traditional gallery aesthetic, she even decided to enter the art herself, by incorporating projected animations into live performances. Miek still views the computer as an important medium for her art—but more for means of presentation and dissemination, instead of production. Her website is a way for people to access her art at their own convenience, allowing them to create their own context. “I like that people could go and check out my stuff in their underwear,” she said. Additionally, technology is what allows her to sell prints, making the prospect of owning her art easier and more affordable to as many people as possible. But, despite her propensity for computers, she decided to create this collection with pencil and watercolors. “I like the dirtiness of drawing,” Miek said. “I find, now, that the body is really important to me. I like the dirtiness of the body, how it farts and sweats… and so I like the hands-on approach to making art, as well.” So, for her work on new media, Miek returned to more traditional art media. Mark and Miek hope to replicate this gallery experience in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, where Miek lives.

After 24 years, their friendship continues much as it began: mutual interest in art, a sharing of minds, and professional collaboration. These two quirky friends met because of music, stayed in touch with letters and email, and reunited because of a joint writing-drawing project. Mark and Miek have, unquestionably, a highly mediated friendship, based on and sustained through media… but, then again, we’re all living the media life. The only choice we have is to become aware of it, to appreciate the forces that connect us. Mark and Miek figured that out and then shared it with everyone else. Now, through media, we are connected to a piece of what connects them.

You can listen to both Mark and Miek at the Grunwald Gallery, talking about media philosophy, artistic inspiration, and friendship.

Media@IU, Brown Bag

Media@IU Reception, by Mike Lang and Ken Rosenberg

On April 4th Media@IU  held its first reception. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, and hosted at the Wells House the reception drew over 100 people from departments and schools across campus. While a strong contingent of scholars from Telecom, Communication and Culture, and Journalism were present, the event also brought together enthusiasts from Education, SLIS, Informatics, SPEA, Business, Political Science, Archeology, Anthropology, and a host of other departments and schools. We’ve already highlighted the initiative’s background and some of the players responsible for doing most of the legwork, and in this iteration, we are excited to bring you the sights and sounds of the event.

MS students Geng Zhang and Jennifer Talbott prepare for the Media@IU reception.

Geng Zhang, “the fun one” explains why Media@IU is so important and highlights the Media@IU team’s international flavor in her address to the audience.

Held in the beautiful Wells House, attendees walked through the main floor in order to get to the meeting room in the back.

Signing up for the email listserv or liking Media@IU on Facebook entitled attendees to a free shirt in either black or blue.

Danqing Liu talks about her involvement with Media@IU and traces the evolution of idea into reality.

Finger foods and an open wine bar set the stage for a night of friendly chatter.

Christy Wessell Powell, a PhD student in Education, talks about the resources Media@IU offers, and encourages faculty and students to develop collaborative research projects.

Built in place of the old pool, the meeting room’s windowed walls, and dramatic ceiling set the stage for evening’s transition to night.

Jennifer Talbott talks a bit about how widespread media research is at IU.

Danqing takes a picture of Mike taking a picture of Mark taking a picture of Mike. Reflexive, reflexive reflexivity?

Mark Deuze welcomes everyone to the reception, recognizes those involved, and explains Media@IU’s mission.

Provost Lauren Robel made the rounds, chatting with the attendees.

Provost Lauren Robel spotlights the fundamental intersectionality of media research at IU.

An attendee of the paint filled dance/party at Dunn Meadow found his way to the Media@IU reception.

Make sure to keep your eyes open for upcoming Media@IU events, and if you are at all interested in helping, head over to the Media@IU facebook page or the the Media@IU website.

Brown Bag

The Impact of Social Media on Agenda-Setting in Election Campaigns: Cross-Media and Cross-National Comparisons

Gunn Enli

The rise of social media and the digital technologies that facilitate them have been accompanied by a growing interest in participation and user-generated media. Issues related to the impact of social media on democracy and public debate raise significant questions of global interest, both in academic and popular arenas. Although social media like Twitter and Facebook have been characterised as tools for individualistic self-expression or social networking, these arenas also play increasingly significant roles in the public sphere and for political agenda-setting. Social media are interlinked with mainstream media, and should be understood a part of a cross-media environment or a hybrid media ecology.

The project will examine the following main research question: What characterizes the dynamics between social media and mainstream media in political agenda setting, and how does this dynamic impact the relationship between national and global public spheres?

The talk will present a newly started project, in which the main goal is analyze how the interaction between social media and mainstream media influence agenda-setting and public debate. The analysis will be comparative and aims to investigate to what degree the hybrid public sphere evolves differently in countries with different media systems, different political systems and population of different sizes. The selected election campaigns is the US Congressional and Presidential Election campaigns 2012, The Australian Federal Parliamentary Election campaign 2013, The Norwegian Parliamentary Election campaign 2013, and the Swedish Parliamentary Election campaign 2014.


Gunn Sara Enli is Assistant Professor at Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway. Her PhD-dissertation The Participatory Turn in Broadcast Television (University of Oslo. 2007) examined institutional, editorial and textual changes in the digital cross-media environment. She is co-editor and co-author of three Norwegian books, including Digitale Dilemmaer in 2008 (w/ Eli Skogerbø), and TV- an introduction (transl.) in 2010 w/Hallvard Moe, Vilde Sundet and Trine Syvertsen). Enli has contributed with book chapters to several Norwegian and international anthologies, and her work has appeared in journals such as Media, Culture & Society, Television and New Media, Convergence and European Journal of Communication.

The audio from last Friday’s seminar can be found here: Brown Bag 11 (April 6, 2012 – Gunn)

Media@IU, Castronova’s Gamer-Friendly Grading, Ted at the Sweet Sixteen, Brown Bag

Media@IU, by Mike Lang

Gathered in Mark Deuze’s office, Mark Deuze, Danqing Liu, Jennifer Talbott, Geng Zhang, and Adam Simpson bounce ideas off one another as they plan for the upcoming Media@IU reception at the Well’s House on April 4th.  Projector to project the Media@IU website on the wall? Check. Microphone and sound system? Check. Facebook event page? Check.  Preparations for the hush-hush VIP after party? Check. Attendance is a bit light today, as team members Christy Wessel Powell and Maria Fedorova are unable to make it, but the ideas still keep flowing. Every Thursday from 1-2 the Media@IU team convenes to discuss progress and plans, but as the buzz builds, so to do the questions surrounding the initiative.

Over the last few years, Deuze has noticed an increase in media related research and creative activities across campus including research projects in other departments, courses, speakers, student clubs and organizations, and graduate reading groups. As such, the original goal of Media@IU was simply to raise awareness of these activities. Two semesters ago, Liu, working as an RA for Deuze, was charged with one of the first awareness-raising jobs, collecting information about courses around related to media. A huge project with lots of potential, Liu recruited Talbott and Zhang to help out. Setting up a T575: Directed Group New Media Design Project under the supervision of Deuze, the three embarked on creating a database on media-related activities on campus. As Talbott explains, the trio searched for classes, talked to faculty in various departments, went to the career development center, talked to career advisors, looked up student clubs, located facilities on campus that could be useful for media projects, identified UITS classes that offered media related skills, and did some research on companies affiliated with IU that could potentially offer students internships or jobs. Along the way they recruited students from SLIS and journalism to build the website that would house all of the information.

In the beginning most of the initiatives were organized around undergraduates. Because media is such a broad topic, many students need a road map of sorts. Liu explains that when Joe Schmo freshman goes to register for classes or pick a major, Media@IU can help him navigate the many facets of media scholarship and gain a clearer view of what he wants to do. They also hope that the site would facilitate faculty collaboration.  This semester the team has shifted its attention to graduate student resources such information on funding sources for research, and small snippets on projects going on around campus.

The culmination of all this work will be the first ever Media@IU conference in October. Held in the Union, the conference will bring together students and faculty to present and discuss their media related work, provide opportunities to network, and facilitate collaboration. In addition, the conference will be  spotlighted by a rock star keynote speaker selected by graduate students. Although the team takes it one step at a time, it hopes the conference will grow to the point it can resemble the old Big Ten Media and Communication conference that died out years ago.

Throughout the process, the team has gained new members from around the University, some who may only come for a meeting or two, and others who stick around for longer. Zhang says that finding new recruits in the beginning was hard. However, as their ideas evolved into a more tangible product, people were more receptive and helpful. So much so that when the team put out an advertisement for website help, they received inquiries from individuals all the way in California willing to contribute at no cost.  Although the original trio is graduating this May they hope to recruit some new members to carry on the torch after they leave.

Fundamentally, Media@IU is a ground up exercise; an initiative driven by the desire and willingness of students and faculty to collaborate in the spirit of doing more with media. It’s hard to predict where it will go, or what it will look like, but with the full backing of the provost, and a team of dedicated individuals willing to put in the work, everyone gets to reap the rewards.

The Media@IU reception will take place on Wednesday, April 4th from 8-10pm in the Well’s House and refreshments will be provided. Stop by and learn what the future of media research at IU looks like. Did I mention free T-shirts and a wicked after party? Check out the Facebook event page here. Check out the Media@IU Website here.

The Media@IU Team: Danqing Liu, Jennifer Talbott, Geng Zhang, Christy Wessel Powell, Maria Fedorova, Jihoon Jo, Jin Guo, Vasumathi Sridharan, Adam Simpson, Todd Chen.

Media@IU Logo by Todd Chen.

Castronova’s Gamer-Friendly Grading, by Ken Rosenberg

Like many of my generation, I went through school wishing it were more like a video game. When I found out that this is not just a personal fantasy, but a widespread and serious movement that needs researchers, I knew I would stay in school forever. Gamification is the use of game-like systems to structure and enhance real-world behavior and its proponents often list education among the most important institutions in need of such a shift. Games are neatly designed experiences that are logical, iterative, skill-based, egalitarian, and always potentially winnable—a perfect formula for learning. Professor Ted Castronova’s grading of undergraduates resembles a leveling system common to games, one that originated in the role-playing genre.

Students must write 500-word essays, which are graded on a pass-fail basis. Though many games have point systems—or even, ironically, letter-based grading systems—at the end of a level, the most important measure is still the “level clear” screen; either you won the game, or you didn’t.

They can submit as many times as it takes to earn complete credit. There is no limit on how many times you can try to win a game, and the only thing that matters is winning. The previous attempts do not count against you—in fact, if anything, they prove beneficial. Studies show that some failed attempts can ultimately make victory more emotionally rewarding. Punishment for failure only discourages effort.

It takes a bit more to earn each next level. Gamers know that all levels are not built equally: 1 through 20 is nowhere near the grind that takes a player from 20 to 40. Essay requirements for the next highest grade work on a +1 additive progression. Earning a “C” requires two more essays than a “D”-level performance, but going from a “C” to a “B” takes three.

The grade breakdown:

  • 1 essay   =   D
  • 3 essays  =  C
  • 6 essays  =  B
  • 10 essays = A

When Ted told other teachers about his system, they assumed that most students would earn an “A.” In fact the class still keeps the typical “C” average. Ted believes that students pick their grade from the beginning and decide to do a set number of essays. (Regardless of when or how students determine their grade, they still turn in most of them at the end of the semester.) Despite the unfortunate conclusion that game-like systems will not push everyone toward maximum achievement, there is one enormously significant upshot that all teachers can appreciate: nobody complains about their grade.

Ted at the Sweet Sixteen, by Mike Lang

Ted Jamison-Koenig was never a basketball fan. Then he moved to Bloomington to attend IU. For the last 5 years, Jamison-Koenig has sat through the worst years of Indiana basketball, yet cheered the Hoosiers on with ferver regardless. With the Hoosiers having a better than expected year this year, making it to the Sweet Sixteen, Ted road tripped to Atlanta to watch the fabled matchup with IU’s rival Kentucky. Edward Jones Dome, home field of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, may not have been the best suited for a basketball game (especially with all the good tickets going to alumni and high roller donors).  But that didn’t stop Ted from having a good time, as he was just happy to be there. Unfortunately IU lost the game, but the proclamation was loud and clear. IU basketball is back, and Ted was there to witness it.

Brown bag

Dynamic Motivational Activation in Media Use and Processing

Zheng Wang

A mathematical theoretical framework called Dynamic Motivational Activation (DMA) will be described. DMA models help reveal how we attend to, process, respond to, and are affected by the ever-changing information environment in an adaptive way. The models tease apart the influences of the exogenous vs. the endogenous variables (e.g., communication variables vs. audience physiological and cognitive system variables), and allow the study of their dynamic interactions. A few DAM studies will be discussed. They examine the dynamics of real-time processing of entertainment and persuasive messages, and also longitudinal communication activities in daily life.


Conceptualizing Flow, Presence and Transportation as Motivated Cognitive States

Rachel Bailey

Flow, Presence and Transportation will be discussed as the outcome of the motivated cognitive dynamic system settling into different attractor states. Conceptual definitions from the literatures concerning each of these states will be discussed and translated into motivated cognition variables. Data from three experiments will be presented in support of this reconceptualization. Implications for taking this dynamical, complex approach to studying these states, and media processing in general, will be discussed.


Zheng Joyce Wang (Ph.D. in Communications & Cognitive Science, IU-Bloomington, 2007) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University, Columbus. One of her research foci is the use of real time data (e.g., psychophysiological measures, real life experience sampling) in conjunction with formal dynamic models to study how people process and use media. In particular, she is interested in the dynamic reciprocal effects between media choice/use behavior and its impact on emotion and cognition over time. Another research foci is to understand contextual influences on decision and cognition by building new probabilistic and dynamic systems based on quantum rather than classic probability theory. Her research has been supported by National Science Foundation.

Rachel Bailey is a third-year doctoral student at Indiana University. Her research interests focus on understanding how motivationally and psychologically relevant variables come together in complex ways to influence and constrain how information is processed in mediated contexts over time.

Random Search Term of the Week

One of the search terms that led a viewer to the grad blog was: “a stone with bryant substance”!

And the viewer was treated to last year’s February 28 story on Bryant Paul’s Rock Tumbler.

Audio Books Cure Boredom, October Glory in the Rugby World Cup, Kinsey Brown Bag

Multi-tasking with Audio Books

Over the past few years, general availability and ease of use have increased the popularity of audio books.  Professor Annie Lang is an avid “reader” of audio books.  She shared with us some of her personal experiences with audio books.  She has been listening to audio books for over ten years –first on cassette, then on CD, and now digitally.  She joined around six or seven years ago and has since accumulated over 475 books in her personal library, books she can pass on to friends or choose to read again.

Annie has noticed several things about her reading habits since embracing digital audio books.  First, she admits she is more than willing to read “trash” on paper, but doesn’t have time to listen to it in audio book form.  Conversely, she explains, “I’ve been reading better-quality books on audio.  Classics that I’ve never had a chance to read because they were on paper – the beauty of the language ties you up.  It’s a different experience for us media folks.”  Second, Annie finds herself listening to audio books whenever she is involved in an activity that doesn’t require a lot of cognitive effort.  Now that she is “reading” while walking, gardening, and knitting, she is reading more books than ever before.

Her productivity at work has increased too.  She has been scanning work and course-related readings into .pdf format and uploading them to Amazon’s Kindle converter so they can be transcribed to audio.  It is important to note that the converted audio file is a text-to-speech algorithm that generates an automated voice and not a human one.  While this might be off-putting for some, Annie says she has been listening to it long enough that she can no longer tell that it’s a computer-generated voice.  “My brain fills in the gaps and I don’t notice the automation or the words that it mispronounces.  My brain just fixes them.”  You can listen to a text-to speech sample, one that Annie has completely adjusted to, below.

Doctoral student Bridget Rubenking didn’t start listening to audio books until she started taking long road trips by herself.  One of her road trips is an annual event, a family reunion of sorts that happens every summer in Ogden, Iowa.  Every July, her family would make the 12.5 hour drive from Cleveland, Ohio to Ogden and now, as a graduate student, Bridget has been making the trip from Bloomington.  “It’s a 9.5 hour drive from here.  I listen to audio books on the way there and back, with some music mixed in.”  Bridget explains that audio books are versatile, as you can choose one for whatever mood you are in.  She usually chooses more light-hearted selections, if only for the reason that she has listened to some books that have left her in tears while driving.

As for her book selection process?  “I posted a Facebook status asking for suggestions this past summer.  I got a dozen good suggestions and confirmations of the collective favorites.  Also, I always ask my mom because she knows good books and what I like.”  Her favorite audio book to date is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which she found to be funny, thoughtful, compelling, and satisfying her penchant for precocious children.  When it comes to actual readers of the books, she has enjoyed self-narrations by David Sedaris and Chelsea Handler, but her ultimate preference is for readers with accents.  “It doesn’t matter from where.  I just prefer to hear people with lovely accents to read me lovely books.”

October Glory: The Rugby World Cup

October is here. In the American sports world that means two things: football, and playoff baseball. Between stadium shaking upsets, fantasy football frenzy, and ritual Saturday tailgates, no other month offers such sweet sports satisfaction. Yet, amidst the coverage of Peyton Manning’s neck injury, the record-setting collapse of the Boston Red Sox, and the collective groans of fantasy owners who took Chris Johnson in the first round, the world’s fourth largest sporting event is unfolding in front of a rabid international fan base. The Rugby World Cup, trumped by only the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, and le Tour de France in terms of global popularity, is largely swept under the rug by American sports media outlets and ignored by Americans too occupied with the big two. However, a few in our department are displaying their rugby spirit, providing a brief look into one of the coolest sporting events in the world.

Count me among the Americans who had never paid attention to Rugby. Outside of a brief introduction by my English co-worker over the summer, the sport hadn’t crossed my mind until MS student Craig Harkness walked into T505 wearing an English rugby jersey only to receive a ribbing by Professor Mark Deuze. Inspired by their zeal (and the deer in headlights look of the rest of the class, myself included) I figured the fourth largest sporting event in the world needed a little bit of American recognition.

For the uninitiated, a Rugby match is played by two teams, each fielding 15 players on a field roughly the size of a soccer pitch. For two 40 minute halves, players from each team attempt to score points by moving the ball into the team’s in-goal area (think running into the endzone), or kicking the ball through a set of uprights in the team’s in-goal area. Players move the ball by running, passing and kicking. Blocking is not allowed, and players can only pass the ball backwards or laterally. If you’re a football fan needing a visual reference, think the classic hook and ladder play from the 1982 Stanford vs. Cal game (when the marching band prematurely went on the field), but for 80 minutes. Opposing teams attempt to stop the advancing team by tackling the ball carrier. For this reason, Rugby is largely recognized by Americans for its brutality. The fact that most Rugby players match the biblical description of Goliath doesn’t help either. Tack forty pounds of solid muscle onto your prototypical well-conditioned soccer player, and have them smash into each other at full speed with no pads. And you thought football was dangerous. According to Deuze, looks can be deceiving. In football, pads provide an illusion of protection which encourages players to do dangerous things. Conversely, the lack of pads in Rugby encourages players to play fundamentally sound with an emphasis on protecting their body. While injuries do occur and it is still quite violent, Rugby isn’t the bloodbath that some make it out to be.

The Rugby World Cup, which started in 1987, takes place every four years and features twenty teams from around the world. Much like the FIFA World Cup, the first round consists of a pool phase. Five teams are assigned to a group (Groups A, B, C, and D), and each team plays every other team in their group once. Two teams with the best record from each group advance to the knockout stage, where the rules shift to single game elimination. The last team standing is awarded the William Webb Ellis Cup, which is popularly known as the Rugby World Cup.

While Harkness shouts for England, Siyabonga Africa, Mark Deuze, and Betsi Grabe all root for South Africa. Unfortunately, over the weekend, England fell to France, and South Africa fell to Australia, effectively ending their world cup dreams.

There is an old saying, “Soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by hooligans, while Rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” For Grabe, this saying embodies what makes Rugby so special. Despite the violent nature of the sport, and its potential to turn ugly at any time, Rugby players often possess a commitment to the game, and a level of sportsmanship rarely seen in other major sports. It’s not uncommon to see one player absolutely bury the ball carrier only to help him up a minute later. Team captains aren’t necessarily selected for their athletic prowess, but for their ability to manage a team. Individuals may shine as stars, but the concept of a team, and playing as a team, trumps any kind of individual accomplishment. This type of behavior is reflected in the ways the referees manage the game. According to Deuze and Africa, refs like to keep the game going. Therefore, when penalties are committed, it is not uncommon for the ref to let the play continue and scold the offenders with a line something like “come on guys, you should know better, play like gentlemen.”

Rugby is more than a game. For countries like South Africa, rugby has the power to bring a country torn by racial tension together. Grabe, originally from South Africa, comes from a rugby family. Both her father and her brother played rugby competitively at a very high level. Growing up, sports were largely the territory of race. Cricket was the sport for white Englishmen, soccer the sport for blacks, and rugby the sport of Afrikaners. In 1995 post-apartheid South Africa was welcomed back into the international sporting world, and President Nelson Mandela saw an opportunity to show the world that things had changed. Recruiting François Pienaar, the big blonde captain of the Springbok rugby team, who would represent South Africa on a global stage, Mandela went to work convincing the country that the South African Rugby team was everyone’s team. Mandela sent the Springbok team into the streets to play rugby with black children. The team learned the old song of black resistance, now the new national anthem, Nkosi Sikelele Afrika (God Bless Africa), and belted it out before each of their games. By the time of the final against New Zealand, the entire country was behind the team and after their victory, the entire stadium, regardless of race erupted into furious chant of “Nel-son! Nel-son!” While the racial tensions still exist, for one day, on the platform of the Rugby World Cup, the entire country came together as one. To this day sports in South Africa still serve the same function, providing its citizens an opportunity to experience national pride when the country is at its best. In the words of Grabe, South Africa does a good job rising to the occasion.

For those looking to watch the rest of the Cup, NBC currently owns the broadcast rights, and while it did broadcast USA matches (Yes, America does field a rugby team, and yes it did lose all of its games) on national television, the rest of the games are available in a pay-per-view format, usually for $25. While the pay-per-view option is available, many fans have taken to more dubious methods, usually P2P streaming services, for watching the Cup.

Brown Bag

This week’s brown bag presentation featured Erick Janssen, Senior Scientist and Director of Education and Research Training at The Kinsey Institute.  His presentation provided an overview of The Kinsey Institute’s workings as a research organization with an emphasis on how collaborative efforts with other schools, departments, and scholars can advance sexual health and knowledge. Telecom doctoral student Lelia Samson served as the respondent and talked about how she had benefited from her interactions with Erick and The Kinsey Institute.  She offered thoughts on how Department of Telecommunications and The Kinsey Institute could collaborate for research on issues related to media and sexuality.  For more information about Erick’s research, click here.  You can also visit the Kinsey Institute’s website at

Listen to the full audio of the presentation:

The Kinsey Institute: Erick Janssen and Lelia Samson     


Mike Lang:  October Glory – The Rugby World Cup

Nicky Lewis:  Multi-tasking with Audio Books, Brown Bag

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

T101 Redux, Steve Krahnke’s Award-Winning Films, Betsi and Lelia in the News, PhD Prep

T101: Highlights from Media Life

It could be pretty easy for Professor Mark Deuze to structure T101: Media Life as your average 100 level introductory course.  With over 400 students enrolled, it presents major challenges in how to keep the students engaged.  With help from his Associate Instructors (AIs), Mark has revamped T101 into a highly participatory and exciting class.  Associate Instructors Peter Blank, Lindsay Ems, Mike Lang, Gayle Marks, Lelia Samson, and Daphna Yeshua-Katz not only lead their respective discussion sections but also help with course development.

Instead of a grading system based on attendance, discussion activities, and written papers, Mark has developed a new method for grading – Social Representative System.  Similar to YouTube star rankings and Ebay seller rankings, students are responsible for building their reputation in the class by participating in lecture and discussion activities and by contributing to the class Twitter feed.  AIs distribute experience points to students based on their performance on written papers and discussion activities.  Students are responsible for keeping track of own their attendance by assigning personal star ratings for themselves.  The in-class attendance exercises are related to the topic discussed in the lecture that day.

As a result, students are more involved in the course.  The T101 twitter feed has been extremely active this semester.  Under the t101medialife tag, both instructors and students openly post content for discussion.  You can check out T101’s twitter feed here: T101 Media Life

Tuesday’s lecture  focused on past technological innovations, current smartphone technology, and predictions of what the next technological innovation will bring.  The attendance exercise required students to get out their cellphones and participate in a massive ringtone display.

Steve Krahnke’s Films Receive Awards

Recently, two of Steve Krahnke’s film productions were named recipients for awards. Blacking Up, a film about race in the hip-hop music industry, was selected as one of the 2011 Notable Videos for Adults by the American Library Association, an honor bestowed on 15 films selected every other year by the organization. Harp Dreams, a documentary about the international harp competition on IU campus, has received a CINE Golden Eagle Award for Fall 2010.

Steve’s work as executive producer for Blacking Up began more than 7 years prior to the film’s completion. “When we started the project, Eminem was a breakout artist,” Steve explains. The  film was also in production during Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction, meaning the footage had to be edited even more to be “cleaned up” for airing on public television stations. Blacking Up was produced with the aid of former CMCL graduate student Robert Clift, who helped craft the narrative. Steve advised him to tell his own story during the process. “I told him, ‘anybody can say anything they want about hip-hop, but you have to own this for yourself and tell the story your own way,'” Steve recalls. The award received from the ALA for Blacking Up means the film will soon be found in most libraries across the country.  Watch the trailer here: Blacking Up

Harp Dreams, a more recent production, was produced with the help of several undergraduate students who spent considerable amount of their time collaborating with executive producer Steve and producer Susanne Schwibs of CMCL and Radio Television Services. More than 100 hours of raw footage were shot for the project, and the editing work was slow-going. “It’s a tedious process,” Steve explains. “In some ways, it’s like making bread by grinding your own flour.” The final product had the honor of airing nationwide on PBS last June and now is a recipient of the Golden Eagle Award.

Betsi and Lelia’s Study Garners Media Attention

A study by Professor Betsi Grabe and PhD student Lelia Samson has hit headlines in a number of news outlets this week. Originally published in a top journal Communications Research, the experiment measured recall and credibility perceptions from audience members viewing neutral or attractive female newscasters. The study found that male viewers were significantly less likely to remember news content when the female news anchor’s appearance was more sexualized, and men found the attractive version of the news anchor to be less credible when covering political and economic news stories.

Of the recent press attention, Lelia notes that it’s rewarding to see their work make an impact outside of the research realm. “It’s impressive to realize that people actually care what we do. It’s good to know that people who aren’t academics are reading it,” she says. “We’re in a little bit of a media frenzy right now,” Betsi adds. The study has received additional attention from the Poynter Institute over the past week.

For Betsi and Lelia, the publicity is nice, but the most important outcome of the recent coverage is that the implications of their findings have gotten to women in the news industry. “This study helps female journalists understand the pressures from their organizations to sexualize themselves on air. If the study provokes debate and attention, it’s doing something,” Betsi says. Lelia explains that it’s likely the study got picked up by media outlets for its social relevance. “It’s surprising to see the comments on the websites discussing the study and the conversations started because of the research,” Lelia adds.

Betsi and Lelia, along with other graduate students, are working on a follow-up study that examines female audience reactions to sexualized and non-sexualized female anchors. From their initial findings, Betsi posits that it’s likely women feel more competition with the sexualized version of the female anchor, and their upcoming work will delve deeper into this issue. For now, Betsi cautions that the findings aren’t meant to solve problems for women in the news industry. “There aren’t solutions in the study. The best advice is to use these tiny insights for empowerment,” she offers.

For more information, check out some of the news coverage of Betsi and Lelia’s study:

Miller-McCune, The Star, Forbes, Politics Daily, IU News Release, Wall Street Journal

Brown Bag Presentation

In a panel discussion moderated by Rob Potter, members of the Search Committee (Nicole Martins, Annie Lang, Barb Cherry, and Ted Castronova) shared insights from the recently concluded search.  Here is the description that was included in the announcement for the brown bag:

Abstract: This colloquium is intended for PhD students who are considering a career in academia. This seminar will offer specific advice for those students who intend to enter the academic job search this year but also to students whose job search resides several years in the future. Members of the recent Department of Telecommunications search committee will be on hand to address questions such as: what makes a candidate a good “fit”; what information should be included in a personal statement; and what a strong CV looks like, to name a few. Students planning to attend this T600 are encouraged to come with questions to ask the search committee.


Nicky Lewis:  T101 Highlights from Media Life

Katie Birge:  Steve Krahnke’s Films Receive Awards, Betsi and Lelia’s Study Garners Media Attention

Special Thanks

Elizabeth Crosbie: Photo Credit for Lelia Samson