Here’s my final project.
The e-lit portion is on a Prezi, which can be accessed here: http://prezi.com/cgprohbs2lz2/project-happiness/
Here’s my final project.
The e-lit portion is on a Prezi, which can be accessed here: http://prezi.com/cgprohbs2lz2/project-happiness/
He was a tiny dot in a room about the size of heaven. The back wall was covered with monitors that flickered every few seconds and Sirch clicked, absorbed, then changed to a new webpage. Sirch didn’t budge from his row of twenty monitors on the back wall of the Big Room. Maybe if he made no movement at all, she would stop calling his name and his headache would go away. And then he could sit and surge all day. And then -
“Doctor? Are you in there?”
The clacking of shoes approached. Sirch sighed, burying his hands in his sleek, jet black hair, trying to stop his headache and keeping his eyes glued to the screens.
Sirch drank a swig of backup juice for his head – the pain was starting to make his eyes water. Massaging his temples, he could feel the metal, the wires and the routers of New Brain, that he’d put in himself when he was five to keep his life while people plagued kids without cyberparts. Those were dark times. These were dark times. Twenty-one years had gone by and it had never ached as badly as this.
He absorbed and swung to the next set of monitors: the Void. He looked. Pictures of his father. His mother. His love, Demetria. The Void had taken them years ago. But the question lingered: Where were they?
Maggie, his assistant, pushed open the door without knocking. She hated when he took the Big Room, even though he insisted he was far more comfortable in wide spaces.
Time, Sirch thought, only half-listening, surging through the web pages on his one hundred monitors that lined the back wall of the huge white-walled room. Time was the problem. Because if there was more of it, he thought, massaging his head, his set of 100 monitors and his New Brain could help him surge frequently, and keep going, keep trying to find the Void -
“Doctor. Pierre Fander is here to see you.”
Sirch looked up.
The word slithered out of Fander’s mouth, making Sirch feel slimy.
He came with a stack of papers, forced Sirch to turn in his automatic swivel chair and pushed them into Sirch’s hands. Sirch saw a photo of a little girl shoved into the file with a brown bob and beaming eyes. She looked like a younger Demetria.
Sirch’s heart sunk.
“Fander,” he stuttered. “No. Please, no. Not her – ”
Fander paused, watching Sirch blubber as he realized who Fander’s next victim was.
“Alvin Sirch. Remember our little deal? I make you famous – the most famous researcher the world will see. I will do everything for you. The world will revere you. People will travel far and wide to see you.” Fander adjusted the claw on his right hand, which Sirch knew turned into a gun on command.
“Under one condition: you do all my research, exactly as I lay it out, which involves destroying the human race, child by child. Or your family and your girlfriend in my hiding explode into smithereens with the press of this button.” Sirch knew Fander wanted children just as every ruler of the Death did: because they didn’t have metal parts yet.
His New Brain pounded. He took a breath, unable to see clearly anymore, took the stack of paper and started netizen – searching all 100 monitors for the girl’s information, location, whereabouts. He felt sicker than ever. Surging the Void would have to wait.
It’s a bird’s eye view of mountains, each dotted with a spot of pure whiteness, patched with limestone-green tints that glisten softly. There must be hundreds of them down there, each in a natural tandem. They mold into one another effortlessly, transitioning from snow-capped peak to snow-capped peak. They know each other well.
The mountains know they don’t have to try; their beauty is obvious. As Google Earth’s tour pans up the mountain’s central snow-filled crevice, two steep and jagged walls greet our peripherals. They are stoic, just as the rest of their mountain counterparts, but with an ego: they know they make up the tallest peak, the Mount Everest itself.
They’re so high that they’re snow-filled and pierce the static blue sky. These mountainous walls seem to whisper, “Try me.”
The peak jumps forward on my screen. The look is exhilarating; it’s one that few have seen live. Just scores of jagged, breathtaking structures, nature’s skyscrapers. It overlooks eons and scores and galaxies of mountains, mountains of the small variety and the tall variety that have stitched centuries of human awe and confusion, mountains as jagged and diverse and glorious as the human race.
A pan out, as I scroll with my mouse and occasionally tap my arrow keys to reach maximum height. A feeling of insignificance hits me after noting the rolling field of mountains on my laptop’s computer, their extension into everything as far as the eye can see. I’m small. They’re large, larger in size than the 10 most powerful people running our world. How does that work? Isn’t bigger supposed to be better? Nothing makes sense when you take a look at the land’s vastness, a superiority unseen by most of the world.
I pan upwards and a blob of white-green-purple-black splashes in front of my eyes. It’s steep and continues to make me feel miniscule. I hit the top. A surprising feeling of satisfaction washes over me. Though I did no such thing, I feel as if I climbed a little bit of it. I saw the top of Everest; I saw the precision, the white-spotted beauty of the most famous mountain in the world.
And while the interface makes you feel like you’re there – in the crevices, on the peaks – I’d argue that it doesn’t feel inherently beautiful. That beauty lies in the hundreds of photos in icons lining Google Earth Everest. After all, Google Earth is a 3D map at heart. A map will show the precise details but isn’t meant to evoke beauty as a photo would – it has logistical aesthetics and simulates beauty, but does not have aesthetic values of beauty inherent to a natural wonder, such as quality of light, clouds, live details. I feel every part of the Everest experience – the idea of being small, awe at details of the structure, exhilaration at the peak – but I’m not struck by beauty when panning the area.
Compared to text virtualizations, Google Earth is very helpful in visualizing the space, its purpose and (most importantly) the feeling that runs through us when we see a site. Words can describe a space – just as I’m doing here – but when you really want to see a space, words cannot match up to the jaw-dropping force of images. For example, when I say “the mountaintop seemed to rise, its white-topped glory dominating the other babies in its midst,” you can visualize it, but Google Earth’s interactive 3D maps help you to feel it, too. Though I can’t see the exact way snow is falling on a mountain, I can understand the power of the space and why we’re drawn to it through elements of height and the panning features.
Morality is everywhere in RuneScape, the fantasy MMORPG that I used to play with my friends in middle school. Then, we all got hooked on MySpace and stopped playing RuneScape. Those were the days.
We would get on RuneScape after school to chat among each other with our nifty usernames and avatars, often playing in the same World and walking through the town together, often stopping to slay a chicken, deposit money in the bank or pursue a trade for a quest.
Looking back on RuneScape, at thirteen years old, I never recognized the major elements of the game: combat and murder. Possibly the largest element of morality in RuneScape is the harm/care feature. Killing is essentially the game – whether it’s killing chickens or killing other players. When dead, and often in a pool of blood, there lies an amount of gold or items possessed by the victim. Unlike in World of Warcraft, looting is allowed, diminishing the value of fairness/reciprocity: if you don’t immediately collect your treasure, tough luck – it can be easily taken by another player.
It’s a simple formula that allows no further movement in the game without some aspect of murder. Even if you don’t want to complete quests or be social in the game, without a food supply, you lose life points and eventually die. To even walk around in the game, murder of at least small chickens is necessary. And to increase success and levels, you must kill larger and larger things – including people.
Authority ranks into the heavy combat element in the game. Those who are stronger with more life points (gained by the consumption of food or drinks) obviously perform better when trying to kill, and players at higher levels will annihilate their victims easily. The lesson? Make sure you take on someone that’s your own size or smaller, because otherwise, it could fare badly for you. Also present are authority figures who distribute quests and are alienated because they are machine operated, and some of the only people in the world that are machine operated.
The purity element is not prevalent in the game as a good or bad factor, but more in the ironic element of the cycles of death and rebirth. You die because, typically, because you are not strong enough to tackle the other player. You are then reborn and keep skill points but lose some articles that you have with you because of your death. And then you continue to kill – just the way you died – and keep hoping to survive. It turns the entire game into a rather hideous cycle of murder.
It’s through this cycle that the essence of loyalty and in-group success becomes seriously diminished in the game. RuneScape functions as a purely individualistic game, fueling the mentality that you can be successful by killing alone – though killing will help the “achievers” side by furthering quests and the “social” side by spurring interactions and trades with others. For RuneScape, harm is the main moral function at stake – a dark purpose of the game that I didn’t realize when I was younger that’s perfect for killers.
These were the heaviest used words in Clint Eastwood’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30 – the same night that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would later speak.
Eastwood’s speech is now known for him lecturing an invisible President Obama, represented by an empty chair, which has spawned an entire meme culture based around “invisible Obama” and the metaphor of emptiness. It is also known for being hardly coherent but wholly hilarious.
The distant reading in fact proves Eastwood’s spontaneity and ambiguity, and possible confusion. The most used words are vague contradictions – “think” and “know,” for example, go against each other as opposing definitive forms. He also used the word “maybe” several times, also hinting toward lack of clarity and further confusion.
None of these words are at all complex. In fact, many of them would probably be in an eight-year-old’s vocabulary – save “bifurcating,” which may have come out of left field. This shows either unpreparedness, a lack of comfort when speaking in front of large crowds (though since Eastwood is in the movie business, that may not be the case) or a simple state of confusion.
However, this distant reading doesn’t even hint to the hilarity within the context of the speech. It is just funnier reading the transcript with the broken phrases, the dashes, the self-interruptions, or watching the video where he actually lectures the empty chair. The distant reading also doesn’t provide the context: the RNC, on a night after hurricanes throughout the south and just minutes before the highly anticipated speech from the nominee is due to happen. The distant reading misses out on this muddled speech in the context of the high-tension situation.
I wish there was a new distant reading tool in situations where the text is also on video (such as a speech, a reading or a monologue from a movie) that could piece together screenshots of the speaker or the scene and match it to each word used. For example, every time Eastwood said “maybe,” scrolling over the word on the visualization could bring up a series of screenshots from the video of the speech, which would be all the times in the speech that he said the word “maybe” and would have his facial expression when saying it. Or, better yet, if there was a video software that could recognize individual words in speeches and piece them together, so for the word “maybe,” you would have also a video of Eastwood saying “maybe” each time in his speech (just one-word videos all pieced together in chronological order).
For pieces of text that are not video format, it would still be nice to have the contextual element as part of the visualization. For long pieces of text, perhaps words could be linked to a list of settings where the word was said to give a better picture of why the author chose to use that word at a certain time, and give the reader insight into context, which is – as seen in the visualization of the Eastwood speech – a very important component of storytelling.
I also visualized Paul Ryan’s RNC speech, out of curiosity. The distant reading visualization is of Paul Ryan’s speech to the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29, 2012. Ryan spoke in a highly anticipated speech to the convention crowd the night before Romney was slated to speak at the convention. This is a convention that “competed” for national attention with hurricanes and storms in the southern part of the country, and was viewed on some news channels in a split-screen format – a move by the media that was criticized by many.
The visualization suggests that Paul Ryan’s speech wasn’t out of the ordinary in that of his typical political counterparts, using words such as “president,” “Romney” and “Obama,” but also “life” and “country,” signifying his speech was personal, as well.
My extra credit relates to the second Wordle I did about Paul Ryan’s RNC speech and looks into the Paul Ryan Gosling meme. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJfMEiVGl6M
“Goddaughter” by Kelsey Hughes
While seemingly a photo of an baby in a Maryland onesie, this picture is much more. It is the press photo of the baby, Audrey – the youngest member of the University of Maryland’s football team. Randy Edsall and his scouters have been trying to recruit her for months and were just able to clinch her for the 2012 season. Oh, other large football universities tried to snag her – Ohio State, Illinois, North Carolina, UMiami – but she picked the Terrapins because Testudo gave her a warm and welcoming hug at last year’s Maryland Madness event that topped hospitality at any other university. Her gray-blue eyes are determined even as she delicately posed for her photo in August – she knows the Terps are counting on her this year.
Even as she poses, she’s batting at the camera. It’s an effective mechanism for the new Terps linebacker as she sits in the Pennsylvania grass. It defines the one thing the Terps know about Audrey: she is always practicing. The white headband is a sweat protector that matches her uniform (Audrey rolls in style, people) and keeps her always ready for any pigskin that may come her way. Danny O’Brien may be gone, but ladies and gentlemen, Audrey is in the house.
“Text from my Dad” by Benjy Cannon
A text received at 9:37 p.m. on Oct. 10 by Benjy from his father instead had nothing to do with protesting issues in the Jewish community and being the progressive face of his student organization JStreetU. Oh, no. Indeed, Benjy’s protests were cruel and unbased.
An advertisement on the DC Metro (typically on the Green Line, but oftentimes on the Red Line as well) depicts former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a black suit, hands in his pockets, smiling nonchalantly toward the camera. Behind him are the several hundreds of issues for which he has taken a stance on a white background – everything from abortion to same-sex marriage to the economy. It’s common knowledge that Romney is anything but a flip-flopper and has a long list of his clear-cut conservative stances on every issue. It is not an inflammatory ad, merely an ad detailing the governor’s esteeming qualities in a bullet-point by bullet-point listing. The Washington Post ran an article about Metro’s good work in putting up these ads throughout its heavily populated lines. Voters are busy people, it reported, and often commuters, many of whom don’t have hours to devote to reading the issues at home or watching debates. For many of them, the Metro is the only time they can catch their breath.
But alas. Notice the “FORWARD” wallpaper on Benjy’s iPhone. Clearly, he supports the president in the upcoming election. And in his devotion for Barack H. Obama, Benjy has dubbed these simply informative advertisements as “blasphemous pieces of literature” and “abhorrent propaganda.” He demands they be torn down and replaced with photos of the president with a halo around his head. Judging by Romney’s heavy lead in critical swing states such as Ohio (in the most recent poll by CNN, Romney was at 89% and Obama at 11%), it’s no wonder Benjy is worried for the future of the incumbency.
1. My video from theater rehearsal in my junior year of high school: http://mith.umd.edu/arguing/admin/items/show/23
2. Pages of my high school newspaper: http://mith.umd.edu/arguing/admin/items/show/88
3. Interviewing Seth Meyers! http://mith.umd.edu/arguing/admin/items/show/89
4. My sister and me: http://mith.umd.edu/arguing/admin/items/show/90
5. The Beatles: http://mith.umd.edu/arguing/admin/items/show/91
CNN cut from the middle of a commercial to breaking news of the burning tower. There were solely shots of the tower burning for the entire 10 minutes (with the second one added when it was hit later), minus an eyewitness who was on camera. The content evolved from the idea that it might just be a plane crash into, when footage of the second tower hit came in just after 9, that it was no accident. It was the same repetition of facts and was repeated just as the hour changed and viewers were tuning back in. CNN was lucky to have a vice president as an eyewitness of the entire first plane hit, and he was the first source on the phone, who described the plane as a passenger jet. The coverage was panicky and uncertain, and you could hear commotion and chaos in the newsroom (which, I think, is a feature of 9-11 coverage, in that the noise is always heard). There were also glitches with signals and sources who had trouble hearing themselves or seemed tense and panicky, which made for tight interviews and increased panic on the viewers’ part.
The BCC had a schedule playing but cut from it to a more poised anchorwoman on camera telling people the news before it cut to shots of the two towers. At this point, just one had been hit. BBC also started broadcasting the news a few minutes after CNN, and mainly had one shot in the first few minutes. Its first minutes of broadcast were repeating facts that it had picked up from other sources and did not have eyewitness reports. BBC – perhaps because it was without the eyewitness sources and had an anchorwoman presenting the news instead of cutting to it – seemed less panicked and more poised.
Starts out with images of Americans, families, flags, very patriotic. The anchors are sitting in New York, in their studio with an American flag draped in the background. Diane Sawyer is wearing a red striped shirt. You see their faces; one anchor says that he hopes everyone had a good weekend and were able to process the tragedy. It’s the news anchors reaffirming their friendship and comfort with their audiences. What a contrast to the panic of just a week before and the frazzled newscast in a frazzled time. It then examines different factions within the story such as Americans going back to work, professional firefighters, Pentagon news and dealings with the Taliban. It’s all segmented and planned out, though, and all in the motion of going back to work.
NHK was one of the only international stations that had a 7:00 program, but it too had a shot of the middle of New York but one more gritty, the Ground Zero shot that ABC had not explicitly shown. It spent most of its program detailing Bin Ladin and even talking to people on the street in Afghanistan, again emphasizing the contrast between American and British television that have graphics of patriotic American images, while NHK Tokyo was really digging into it – perhaps less comforting about the issue because the target audience was not Americans but people who wanted the straight news who didn’t experience firsthand the disaster as many who watched other stations did.
In conclusion – the visual elements are always very telling in television segments. In the former scenario in the middle of a breaking news crisis, it was evident that there was panic – graphics barely changed, shots were monotonous and anchors were frazzled. But perhaps that was for the better, and reflected unintentionally exactly what the audience needed to see – shots of the sole focus, the Twin Towers, and a reflection that no one knew what was going on. That was the story it told, though not meaning to. And for the week after, coverage was American propaganda and pride, with many flag shots and shots of the streets, still remembering the events of just a week ago and yet, a cover of comfort for the very scary idea of going back to work and starting our country up again after sheer terror. The propaganda tried to sweep up the sentiments of fear, but because of the contrast, made them glaringly more obvious.
Beena Raghavendran [insert photo] (/biːnə rɑːgəveɪndrən/, born 1993) is a student at the University of Maryland [link to website] studying journalism and government and politics. She was born in Irvine, California [link to Wikipedia page] and raised in Mason, Ohio [link to city website], just outside Cincinnati [link to website]. She has been a student journalist since 2009, serving positions as writer and editor and currently covers the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center [link to website] for The Diamondback [link to website], UMD’s student newspaper. She has interned with the Hamilton Journal-News [link to website], the Middletown Journal [link to website] and the Pulse-Journal [link to website] through Cox Media Group [link to Wikipedia] in Ohio. Beena has been involved in community, high school and college theater [link to photos of previous shows] since 2003. She is the daughter of Raj and Uma [link to photo], who immigrated to the U.S. from India [link to Wikipedia] in the 1980s.
I blinked, peering outside, hand on the doorknob. I hadn’t seen the world in a while. It was glowing.
I brushed my flaming red hair out of my face, swishing it back, wishing I wasn’t about to go through with it. Reluctantly, I slid my melee into my left hand – my strong hand – and I set out, my favorite tan boots grazing the ground, the green and red necklace around my neck.
I passed the creek by my house for the last time for a sip of water among the greenery and ogled at my reflection, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. At twenty-one years old, I was gangly, stick-like. My green eyes glittered. My face was pale in the orange glow of Sunstrider, pale because I hadn’t left the house in six years.
I looked alone, just like everyone else.
My land, Quel’Thalas, was overtaken by Sunstrider years ago. My blood elf ancestors were willed over to evil by his force. Now someone else – The Monster – is penetrating our land, our land where blood elves used to run free in the day and night elves celebrated into the twilight.
“Good luck, Firella,” a neighbor whispered from a window solemnly as I passed by.
Ever since I could remember, children were forced to stay inside to avoid The Monster, watching the eternal summers of Sunstrider through covered windows.
I walked the unfamiliar path toward the white and scarlet Sunstride tower as shrubbery bloomed and hills rolled around me, drenched in a perpetual sunset.
I thought of my fiance Joquar’s blue eyes and how they’d glisten in the sun, and how my pet minidragon Verouge would have frolicked in the gorgeous weather, green and red tail flitting. He was lost now. They both were. I took a breath and looked toward the center.
She stood in front of the Sunstrider, clad in red, black and yellow robes, powdery blonde hair in a high ponytail.
“Magistrix Erona. My name is – ”
“I hope you are ready to get to work, because there is much for you to do here on Sunstrider Isle.” She cut me off curtly, gesturing to the rolling hills of pasture overlooking the sea.
I nodded, taking her scroll.
She told me I’d have to murder five blue minidragons.
My heart stopped. Verouge, I thought, insides churning. I wondered why I had to do it; she turned away before she could tell me.
I told myself it might be the only way I’d ever get out of Sunstrider to find Joquar.
My melee went to work, brandishing itself this way and that frantically. The dragons – flashes of blue and white – bit at me, yellow eyes clenched, wings stiff. Sharp blood spurts erupted throughout my face; gashes formed on my arms. But within thirty seconds each, every one became mine.
I took the glistening eye from the last one and put it in my rucksack, and my eyes caught the tail of the minidragon I had just slain.
It was green and red.
I had killed my friend.
I staggered away from the paved path and the greenery as lynxes and minidragons dabbled around me. Yes, The Monster was a threat. But the bigger threat was turning into a fearful coward with a coldhearted soul, ready and willing to murder without real cause.
I knew what I had to do. It was time to get out. Time to find Joquar.
Panting, clutching my rucksack, I ran toward the North Sea. I had to get to the city.