Monthly Archives: December 2008

Wrapping it up

This blog was started to accompany my journey through Quinnipiac University’s Interactive Communications Master’s program. It was assigned in ICM501 by Alex Halavais, and I kept it around for the rest of the time at QU. Of course, later professors would try and make it so that blogging was required on a -separate- blog, naturally, but this remained my main squeeze.

On Saturday of last week, I finished up my coursework at QU for the degree. Anything beyond it is gravy in the form of an Alumnus Audit. I’ll probably make use of one or two of them. Maybe.There’s a lot to keep up with in this field, and a lot we didn’t cover in the curriculum while I was at QU. And lots of positive-sounding changes coming in with new professors and curriculum realignments.

But now, it’s time to go.

When I get settled elsewhere in the blogosphere, I’ll post the link here. But I think it’s time to head into different pursuits for a little while. Let my brain recover from the rush of new knowledge injected and processed over the past 18 months. Let the theory get applied to the business world and see what survives, what becomes more subtle, and what isn’t ready to flower yet.

Thank you for reading along with this journey. I’ve learned a lot, and more importantly, I’ve recalled how to learn and how to do thesis-type involved projects on my own. There’s lots of knowledge out there to be explored and expanded upon, and I do fully intend on continuing the quest forward as a thinking person.

Thanks once again, and I wish everyone luck in their own endeavors of growth and exploration. Peace.

Laid Off

In yet another repetition of one of the least pleasant work routines, I was laid off today. My company, which I no longer feel compelled to keep nameless, Colangelo, decided to really shake things up. They sliced through a major portion of their interactive team, and I was one of the casualties of war.

Next.

Actually, they were nice enough to give me a full day off tomorrow to finish up some of the other projects that need to get done. Like my homework for Visual Aesthetics.*lol*

So it will all work out well in the end.

I guess I’m back to “Hire me!” But I don’t feel sad. I’ll miss the crew I worked with, but I’m equally happy to move on. Now I can take those periodic freelance gigs and get more of a breadth of experience. I walk away from Colangelo with one massive accomplishment under my belt, too. I was Producer on developing and launching the Memorial Tribute pages for Paul Newman’s passing. We had to work against an open-ended deadline with utmost urgency, coming up with ways to ensure that the new site wouldn’t just launch within hours of Paul’s passing, that it would be able to handle the site visitors. And the site visitors were there aplenty. 1.3 million hits the first day. We had to work in utter secrecy, too, and against a budget that was practically non-existent.

Not too bad for the professional equivalent of waiting tables while finishing grad school.

Wrapping up the ICM program

In the beginning of ICM there was Halavais’s 501 Intro course. He started off by asking us if we had any sort of quick explanation for what it is we were studying. Interactive Communications, of course, is a bit conceptually redundant, since in order for Communication to take place there has to be some kind of interaction. It’s been an elusive definition for what the program is imparting, and it remains elusive. There’s no real simple way to describe it.

My own takeaway

After 18 months of working through the ICM program, I have to say that last night I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment in what I had done. People trash the internet because it’s unregulated. There’s no guarantee of quality of information, which requires a level of discernment that people often don’t want to have to be concerned with. There are whole new patterns of interacting with the information presented on websites, too, which means that simply taking old media of communications and using them in a different space doesn’t work very well. Kind of like trying to reproduce a radio drama on television. The internet has more to offer than standard media is concerned, and the patterns of usage which have developed require differentiated strategies of authoring.

We often look at the internet purely from the point of view of money and cashing in on the new medium. We talk about professional advantages that come from learning to adapt traditional business models to the new social and cultural movements which the internet has enabled, and we focus on the commercial aspects of the web. That aspect is certainly important, and it will be central to paying off the graduate student loan debt, so it’s good that QU imparts that awareness to its students.

Content is king

Yet in the greater picture, ICM has prepared me to generate content. Without the content, there’s no cash flow from advertising. Without the content on the web, there’s no draw for the users to be there. Quinnipiac has prepared me to handle the generation of content. Not always directly, and not in terms of an aesthetic education which would be acquired at a design school. However, ICM teaches us the way in which concept, content, business, and strategy combine to create and maximize the communication potential of the internet. Whether it is for our own ideas, for our client’s ideas, or even whether our role is simply to execute the plans of others, ICM produces businesspeople who are ready to populate the web with quality information.

So, Professor Halavais, while I can’t define ICM for everyone, for me it rests in that last bit.

The ICM program taught me to combine strategy, technology, research and execution to maximize the communication possibilities of the internet.

Where I go from here is all up to me.

Thesis: Posted live

http://rushmore.wingfoot.org/

Enjoy.

Thesis: DONE.

Done.

Done done done.

Done done done done DONE done done.

*happydance*

Still working out the hosting arrangements. Until the site is actually posted live, here’s a sneak preview of each of the major sections and how the design turned out. Overall, I’m happy. I’m still tweaking the bibliography, but that’ll be done by tonight. At midnight tonight my work stops on my thesis and I turn my attention to finishing everything else that’s due this semester. I’m aiming to have the whole semester wrapped by Saturday and all projects turned in, even though two projects aren’t technically due until NEXT Saturday. We’ll see how that all goes.

Homepage Screenshot

Homepage Screenshot

Timeline preview

Timeline preview

Who's Who preview

Who

Native American focus essays

Red: Native American focus essays

Anglo-American essay section

White: Anglo-American essay section

Essays for the future

Blue: Essays for the future

Bibliography Section

Bibliography Section

Thesis: Only the homepage left.

All of the rest of the site and content has been completed for the thesis project, including the basic bibliography. Now I just need to bang out the design of the home page. It may seem counterintuitive to have the homepage be the last piece, but for my site design it’s more of a gateway/portal to the contents of the site than it serves as a real destination page itself.

The Bibliography, Too

The other piece that can stand some extra work is the bibliography section. It serves a basic purpose in that it’s got all of my sources, and they’re all hyperlinked too. All 98 of them. But I’d like to add functionality. As I go through and do the proofreading for each page, I’m going to make certain to not just link to the Bibliography page for each of the sources, but drop to the in-page anchor tag so you end up (more or less) looking at the source quoted.

The other change that I’d like to make to the Bibliography is to add a second section which contains thumbnails of the Images used from other sites, hyperlinking each of them to their home websites, and listing whether it is pulled from the Creative Commons (in which case it will be attributed and marked with the Creative Commons terms of use specific to each image), Public Domain, or as part of Fair Use.

The One Regret

My one real regret for the entire site is that I didn’t manage to do any of the Flash work. But in reality, the content that I’ve assembled is in itself a large achievement. While American History and the handling of Mount Rushmore itself hasn’t been exactly ‘core’ to the program, the creation of an HTML destination site with sufficient content to stand on its own is certainly demonstrative of Interactive Communications. It’s an odd field, really, since it focuses on the ‘how’ and not too much on the ‘what’. So in that way, the ‘what’ becomes the vehicle for evaluation of the ‘how’.

Yeah, makes my head hurt too.

Still, I’m not all that well versed in Flash, while I certainly am better versed in doing in-depth research and writing about it. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the journalism side of the equation.

Too late now. I’m just overjoyed that I’ve got the damned thing written and (save the homepage) done. And I’m happier still to find out that my Developing Content for Mobile Media final project isn’t due until December 12th, not December 6th. Which gives me one whole extra week to finish -that- up. AND clears the way for me to finish up everything else with less stress. Not completely stress-free, just less. And that I will certainly take.