Let’s go out and eat hair: Week 5 Digital Story Critique

My digital story selection for this week is the product of lots of exploring and deep contemplation. Upon looking at the remix appendix at the end of Lankshear and Knobel Chapter 4, I noticed a remix type that I hadn’t previously considered: Political Remix. I have been a big fan of bad lip reading videos since discovering them a few years ago during the 2012 Presidential Election and became very excited at the prospect.

ted cruz

Okay, so this photo is obviously a remix too, but I don’t want to focus on that. In fact, I’ve tried hard up until this point to avoid political topics in my academic work because a big part of me considers it unprofessional. Political topics tend to inspire emotional reactions in people and they stop thinking academically (i.e. based on reason and evidence). I have no intention of turning this post into a “dinner table” rant-type discussion of politics. Rather, I shall focus on the kinds of involvement and literacy dimensions in remix below:

Kinds of involvement: This video provides a very effective commentary on American politics. Ted Cruz has vividly established a reputation (I wont say positive) for himself in Washington D.C. and has often been a target for satire and parody. The original videos portray a seemingly wholesome sycophant trying as hard as any candidate to present a positive image. Cruz is shown speaking, meeting with workers, shaking hands, and reading to his children. In the process (and they’ve done many bad lip readings), the author has clearly established a journalistic (or satirical) identity. Everybody (well, almost) has seen or heard of these types of videos and I suspect most people can easily identify the work of bad lip reading.

Literacy Dimensions: The author of this remix has a clear understanding of the political scene and uses the substitute dialogue very effectively. In short, bad lip reading is definitely up on political happenings. With nearly 8 million views, I also think it is safe to say that this is a topic that appeals to lots of people. By uploading it to YouTube, it is certain to get a lot of attention too (the perfect outlet). Furthermore, it is also clear that the author has a strong understanding of juxtaposition and video editing. It is perfectly edited and the words line up very smoothly. The only way in which the juxtaposition element falls short is the fact that it is limited to dialogue only. With more images and other media to contrast with the footage, this would have been much more apparent.

I am pleased to have found a new kind of remix to critique. Although I did my best to stay away from ranting, I apologize if I did so unintentionally (well, there’s a little…).


Stuck in my head: Week 4 Digital Story Critique

Another week, another digital story to evaluate (and I mean it in the best way possible). Going forward, my weekly critiques will include a different framework taken from the appendix of Lankshear & Knobel’s Chapter 4 New Literacies and Social Practices of Digital Remixing. For all of you who read my blog, this just means I will be making a more concerted effort to find digital remixes in new formats (movie trailers, music videos, etc.) for these assignments.


As usual (drum-roll), I had a tough time finding a digital story this week. I am not accustomed to searching for this type of content and I have yet to identify a digital remix “one stop shopping” outlet. However, it did occur to me that I’ve encountered a TON of unofficial movie trailers and music videos on YouTube (particularly library outreach music videos). I did a YouTube search for “librarian music video” and came across this annoying but unforgettable gem. I’ll embed it too just in case:

As you might have guessed, this is an outreach video from The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library  in which they parody Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” In this video, the librarians successfully highlight their collections and services in a silly and (admittedly) annoyingly catchy way. This video in particular caught my eye because it serves as the perfect example of a basic principle of marketing: get them to remember you. I will critique this digital remix using the following criteria (from Lankshear & Knobel):

Involvement Types: Despite my previously mentioned annoyance at the music, the librarians display a clear enjoyment of the Taylor Swift song. They supply lyrics that match up almost perfectly with the original and make it their own as they tell patrons to “Check it out”. Based on the high quality production value, it is also clear that they have established themselves as Taylor Swift fans (parody is flattery). I am reluctant to say that they are supporting “controversial” music since most people love Taylor Swift, but it certainly is controversial to my ears (okay, enough jokes, this isn’t Mystery Science Theater 3000). Lastly, they are showing support for social justice by promoting the empowering services of the library.

Literacy Dimensions: Although I was obviously not present for the making of this video, the high production value reveals that the authors knew how to locate the target song and determine how to properly edit it (with the right technology) and ensure they are not in violation of copyright law (see parody law). They also clearly understand how to properly sync video and audio with the right editing tools. Based on the perfect match-up between the lyrics and the images (stack, patrons reading, video games, children’s story time), it is also safe to conclude that the authors understand the need for a logical connection between the two.

Online Spaces and Sites: The only thing I can say about the online spaces in this video is the excellent decision to put it up on YouTube. This allows the biggest possible audience to access it. In fact, using YouTube as an outlet will ensure that librarians all over the country (or world) will see it and feel inspired.

Improvements: There are only a couple of ways I can think of to improve the narrative. The editing and content is excellent! By the end of the video, I had a clear understanding of all their services. I still feel that a few more captions to identify services would be helpful (and more accessible) and maybe adding some graphics and/or clips. These are not essential, but they might improve an already effective outreach initiative.

Searching for Celebrities in the Library: DS106 Design Assignment

When I first encountered the “design” category on the DS106 Assignment Bank, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Unlike the other assignments I’ve completed so far, this one does not specify which medium I will use. When I think design, I imagine audio, video, images, and just about every other form of digital output. In a moment of extreme bravery, I clicked the “random” button (even though the term bothers me due to it’s over misuse).


The assignment I encountered seemed like a lot of fun! I was tasked with designing a menu! I am a long time restaurant buff and have always imagined what might make a good menu. The assignment allows for any type of layout design software. Since I already have InDesign experience, I looked for another potential outlet.

A google search for “menu design” revealed a TON of tools that I could use. I took a look at imenupro as an option, but shortly after discovered it isn’t free! Same with menudesignshop. NEXT!

Finally, I found Canva. After some investigation, I learned that all it requires is a free sign-up and is very user friendly! They even offer free templates, images, and illustrations

Now that I have my assignment and tools, all I needed was a good theme. I could easily just list a bunch of food items, but there needed to be some unique “quirk” to utilize. After a brief period of frustration, I noticed that one of the patrons in my library was reading an article about the favorite foods of celebrities. An enormous light bulb went off in my brain. Why don’t I search the web for this topic and design my menu based on these foods?! Not exactly library related, but I discovered the article in my library!

I began by selecting a basic template for a diner. I liked the font and arrangement and felt it would be easy to put my own marks on it. Next, I organized the food categories and entered the favorite foods of celebrities. One of the best things about Canva is the “copy” feature that makes it easy to ensure all the sections are the same size and format. Once all the sections were complete, I added some free stock photos and images that fit with my theme.

Once I finished up, I downloaded a jpeg and Pdf. Overall, it was a very fun experience!

Perhaps better than any other assignment I’ve completed thus far, this one is an excellent depiction of typical library computer usage. People have the power of database searching at their fingertips, but they often choose to focus on seemingly trivial matters (myself included)




5 Problems with Social Media

I’m sure I can speak for many people when I say I have mixed feelings about these problems with social media. The ability to share anything requires a lot of personal responsibility. In a nutshell, people do not exercise their best judgement when posting something on Facebook or Twitter which often “destroys relationships”, “creates triggers”, or something even worse. Despite these issues, I am aware that there are many people who exercise control with their social media presence. These people share only appropriate things and possess a strong understanding of the consequences of oversharing.

In order to address the issues that “oversharing” poses, I have been keeping my social media presence very compartmentalized. For instance, I only use Facebook for personal material. I have a “no coworker” policy when it comes to “friending” people and am still cautious about what I share. For this course and my other professional activities, I use LinkedIn. I only have a small amount of overlap between my “friends” and my “connections”, but I need to keep a clear dividing line between business and personal. If not, I fear that I will overshare.

The observations in “Response B” definitely ring true for me. After reading this, I was immediately reminded of Louis C.K.’s views on cellphones: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/louis-ck-cell-phones_us_56043b77e4b08820d91c0661

My views on social media are not completely in line with the views presented by Louis C.K., but I see where he (and the author of “Response B”) are coming from. More specifically, I think that overuse (every second, or close) of social media causes an inability to be in the present with your thoughts as well as extreme difficulty with being alone. When seeing friends post the happy aspects of their lives, it makes one jealous, unhappy, and yearn for social acceptance.
Despite these problems, I intend to use my work to illustrate that social media can be a very effective tool and positive force when used properly. Instead of spending every free moment online, I devote specific blocks of my schedule to my social media assignments and projects. I only check Facebook once every hour or so and am reluctant to incorporate more outlets unless I see enormous benefit.
I think I will write about the merits of keeping your online presence compartmentalized.


I’ve recently done some readings by people like Steve Godin about tribes. When using the term”tribe”, he (and others) are referring to a group of like minded people who share common views and compassion for each other. I like to think of it as a “collective identity” in which all members identify with one another.

At this point in my life, I belong to many tribes: librarians, graduate students, alums of my college, members of my group of friends. By digging deeper, I can easily find other tribal components of my identity, but let’s just start with these.

In my current profession, I feel strongly connected to other library professionals through professional events, social networks, and even daily communication.

As a graduate student, I am frequently interacting with others in the course module as well as through email.

I communicate with other alums from my college on a fairly regular basis, but with there were more communication.

I see my friends as often as possible.

It seems to be the case that the moe connected we are, the happier we will be. I find that with all these tribes, I get out as much as I put in. I have benefitted immensely in some cases.



For-Profit Education

https://twitter.com/insidehighered/status/708367784389038080 (Links to an external site.)

I found this article on Twitter a couple of days ago and felt compelled to share it. Full disclosure: I worked at a for-profit college for almost seven years. During this time, I gained a lot of worthwhile experience, but also solidified my position against for-profit education.

I met all kinds of students. In some cases, they were motivated and bright but lacked the opportunity to attend a traditional college. This was usually due to financial reasons, time, or they just felt they would never graduate, However, many other students were admitted without the ability to complete the work.

Is it better to provide the opportunity to these students? This was a question I often pondered. More accurately, is it ethical to do so?

In recent years, a lot of major national newspapers have published articles on the high costs of college. Sometimes it is attributed to bloated administrations, other times it is explained by the fact that so many people are attending college.

I find myself growing increasingly worried about the status of higher education. More people than ever are attending college, but not all of them should be. Some solutions I have heard include the following:

  • Tighter legal restrictions on admissions (requiring entrance exams and standard levels of qualification)
  • Restrictions on student loans by career choice (seemingly fascist, but I understand the sentiment)
  • Requiring accreditation (another good idea).

Any thoughts are appreciated!