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

Snow Globes with Annie, Londontown, FC Telecom vs Travis, and Prof. Boczkowski’s Brown Bag

Objects in Offices, Segment 4: Annie Lang and Snow Globes

As a grad student in the department, you will more than likely spend some time in the Institute for Communication Research, or ICR. Along with various research labs, offices and equipment, you will notice an interesting collection in one of the rooms. It is a snow globe collection and it is about 15 years in the making.  Professor Annie Lang explains that it acts as a reminder of where ICR researchers have traveled in the past.

Now that the collection is maxing out, new rules are in place for those wanting to add to it.  Annie says that they used to bring snow globes back when they went anywhere, whether it was a conference or vacation.  Over time, they collected so many snow globes that the rules had to be adjusted.  Now, you can only bring a snow globe back if it is work related, as in when you went to conference, presented a paper or gave a talk.  In addition, a rule of triples was enstated.  Once two or three snow globes have been collected from a particular city, you are not allowed to add anymore.  This is mostly because conferences tend to happen in the same cities and this rule keeps the collection unique and eclectic.

See Annie explain more about these snow globes, what other objects have been brought back from various locations and what object has officially been banished from the collection.

Jenna Hoffstein and the Londontown Project

This fall grad student Jenna Hoffstein became the executive producer of the Londontown project. Londontown is a concept for an MMORPG set in an idealized version of Victorian England. The team is currently working on creating a vertical slice of the game, or a much down-sized prototype of a small portion of the game.

Since its inception as a concept by former IU Telecom faculty Lee Sheldon, Londontown has been student-driven, and the project gives students the opportunity for hands-on experience in game design. As an incoming grad student, Jenna was encouraged by Lee to sign up for the project over the summer and in her first semester landed the role of Londontown’s lead writer.

Currently, the Londontown team consists of around 25 grad and undergrad students from Telecom, Informatics, English, and other departments working in various task groups—production, audio, design, programming, and writing. “There are really a lot of different ways people can get involved in the development,” Jenna says. The teams meet individually about once a week, and the group comes together every three weeks to discuss their progress. The end goal in creating a vertical slice of the virtual world is ultimately to pitch Londontown to video game publishers. “In an ideal world, we’d love to get it in front of publishers and move the project off campus and really turn it into a game.”

Jenna, who spent last summer developing an iPhone game about jellyfish called “Castaway Jelly,” hopes to complete her grad studies next semester. From there, she aims to move to the east coast to work for game developers, hopefully getting to use her experience to develop virtual worlds. “Really big, thorny problems that develop in creating virtual worlds are a lot of fun,” Jenna says.

FC Telecom Falls to Travis and Man Down

Last Thursday FC Telecom faced off against “friendly” rivals, Man Down (with the department’s Travis Ross as a longtime team member), in a fierce battle of athleticism and sportsmanship. In spite of a fearless and unrelenting effort by Telecom grad students Lindsay Ems, Matt Falk, and Peter Blank, Professor Mark Deuze, and other teammates, FC Telecom was defeated under the stadium lights at Karst Farm Park.  But the team is still optimistic about the future.

Both sides acknowledge a noble victory, though FC Telecom suggests that under slightly different circumstances, the outcome may have favored them instead.  “Games against Travis’ team are always fun and important,” says Mark. “Unfortunately, FC Telecom had to miss our fearless leader—Steve Krahnke—and tireless defender—Norbert Herber. This put us at a severe disadvantage,” he says.

Grad student Peter Blank notes that, despite the rough first half, the team rallied quite a bit to finish strong. “If you ‘zero’ the score from the first half, the second half must have turned out 3-4, which means we made big progression during the game,” Peter says. Of Mark Deuze’s presence on the field, Peter adds, “It’s hard to believe that he never played professional league.”

Despite the loss, FC Telecom’s spirit remains high, as Travis didn’t get away with 4 goals against them this time, as he had done in a previous encounter. Summarizing the game, Mark says, “With heroic efforts by Lindsay, Peter, and Edgar, we managed at times to keep the pressure on Travis and company, and put away several passes and goals. Ultimately, their team’s youth and coherence as a team prevailed. It was a deserved win on a glorious evening at Karst Farm Park.”

To get a better idea of what went down on Thursday, check out this slide show of photos from the matchup:

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Pablo Javier Boczkowski (Northwestern University) Brown Bag Presentation

This week, we were excited to have Professor Pablo Javier Boczkowski from Northwestern University to present at the T600 Brown Bag.

When Supply and Demand Do Not Meet: The Divergent Online News Preferences of Journalists and Readers and What They Mean for the Future of Media and Democracy

Abstract: In this talk I will report on a series of studies that bridge my recently published book, News at Work: Imitation in an Age of Information Abundance (University of Chicago Press, 2010) and a new book that I am writing during the current academic year.  These studies focus on the existence and magnitude of a thematic gap between the news that journalists who work at elite online news sites consider the most newsworthy ones and the stories that attract most attention among audience of these sites; the factors that shape this gap; and, what this gap means for the economic viability of these news organizations and the quality of democratic life.

See the highlights of his discussion here:


Nicky Lewis: Snow Globes and Brown Bag

Katie Birge: Londontown and FC Telecom vs Travis

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:


Brown Bag

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



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:


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

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

Telecom Intramural Sports and Sailing with Jim Krause

The first week of classes were underway last week, but the summer weather hasn’t given up on Bloomington yet. In honor of the warm days, we celebrate fall intramural sports. Several Telecom grad students and faculty participate in fall IMs here at IU, and this week we’re featuring those athletic academics.

We also feature the first segment in a forthcoming series on objects in faculty offices.  We bring to life the huge coastal map in Prof.  Krause’s office.

Intramural Sports

This week marks the beginning of intramural soccer season at IU, and the department’s team is ready for action. Featuring faculty and graduate students from Telecommunications as well as a handful of players from other academic units, the team has been improving over the course of the last two seasons, according to grad student Peter Blank.

Peter adds: “The team has some outstanding new players that add to the strength of a solid core group.  FC Telecom would be invincible if maybe one or two new players could harmonize the team even more.”

The weekly games, which are played on Thursday evenings at Karst Farm Park, are competitive any given week, but the department’s team eyes one particular game with even more zeal. Current PhD student Travis Ross, who plays for another team, Man Down, admits that his continued affiliation with a rival team has made for an intense rivalry.

Travis, who received his master’s in the School of Library and Information Science, was already playing for Man Down when he joined the department.  The problem, from FC Telecom’s point of view, is that he hasn’t considered leaving his original team. “I’m too attached to my team to switch now, and it’s fun playing against people you know,” Travis says of the decision. Fun, perhaps. But how much has the rivalry grown since its inception? During the department’s summer game against his team, Travis scored eight goals and boasted 4 assists, although Telecom has been victorious in the past.

What’s in store for this fall’s match up? Peter suggests, “If Travis’ team would start using their feet more instead of their hands, they will not stand a chance against Telecom.” Travis is hesitant to say who will come out ahead but notes that he’s been training heavily all summer. His main concerns are bulldozing Professor Mark Deuze, who Travis describes as “a rough guy and competitor” and Professor Steve Krahnke, who has “a real eye for talent,” a proclivity to pick up talented players from rival teams as the season progresses. We’ll see who comes out ahead this year, but in the meantime, catch up with the team (and sure, you can also watch Travis play if you want) on Thursday nights at Karst Farm Park.

If soccer isn’t your thing, you can still catch other scholar-athletes from the department in intramural sports later this fall. PhD student Lindsay Ems, who joined her first intramural team at IU in 2003, co-captains a team in several sports, including flag football and basketball when the weather cools down a bit. Lindsay’s team, Collective Action, was originally formed in 1999 and was comprised mostly of students from Sociology and Communication and Culture departments. Today the team consists of other departments, Telecom grad students, and more recently a group from IU’s nursing school.

Over the course of the past two years, the team has reigned victorious in both women’s flag football (2008 Champs; 2009 Runners-up) as well as Division II women’s basketball (2010 Champs). The team, which still has some of the original members from the 1999 team, has also played dodgeball, extreme dodgeball, and ultimate frisbee. Below is a photo of Lindsay’s 2010 Championship Basketball Team, with Telecom graduate students Satina Stewart and Anne Morningstar.

Graduate students Lindsay Ems, Satina Stewart, and Anne Morningstar with other teammates from Collective Action following their 2010 Div. II IM Basketball victory.

Objects in Faculty Offices, Segment 1: Coastal Map in Jim Krause’s Office

Professor Jim Krause took time this week to share one of his great joys in life: sailing.  Jim began sailing around the age of 16 at a music and arts camp in Interlochen, Michigan.  A self-taught sailor, he describes sailing as a multi-faceted experience.  More importantly, he loves that sailing can take you to incredible places that you couldn’t normally get to. Jim has spent an extensive amount of time sailing in the Pacific Northwest exploring remote islands and wilderness.  When he comes back to Bloomington, he spends time boating  on Lake Monroe watching sunsets and falling stars.  Jim considers Bloomington a wonderful place to live because in addition to sailing on Lake Monroe, he does a lot of trail running and kayak camping at Hoosier National Forest.  Check out this video tour of his office and hear Jim talking about his beloved map:

Thereafter see the map come to life in the majestic footage from his travels in the Pacific Northwest:

Sailing Montage

In addition to being an accomplished musician, Jim is a talented videographer who has documented many of his adventures.  Jim says the best thing about sailing is that is both technical and challenging.  You have to be self-sufficient to succeed.  These skills are needed to be successful in life in general.


Katie Birge:  Intramural Sports

Nicky Lewis:  Coastal Map in Jim Krause’s Office