In this assignment, you will attempt to communicate using only VERY old media. T
You will then write about your experience by producing about 700 words of “web style” prose with an MLA Works Cited list.
Finally, you will complete a 10-question worksheet exploring concepts concerning embodiment, access, and more, and include it in your submission.
This assignment is a Project- it is due in Week 4.
Assignment At-A-Glance: Communicate by making something using very ancient media (see table below), write about it, and then answer the “Affordances and Limitations Worksheet”
To complete this assignment:
Create something using one of the ancient media formats described in the “discussion” section below.
Think of something to say, and someone you’d like to say it to (message and audience).
Then, try to make that message “happen” using ancient materials and methods (media).
This exercise is more fun if you think of the way you use media now (Twitter, TikTok, Facetime, YouTube, Tindr) and try to do the same essential task with ancient media.
Pay attention to what’s the same & what’s different – what’s easy and what’s hard, or what succeeds and what fails.
P.S.: getting it wrong, having it go badly, and ultimately messing it up are part of the fun. The important thing is trying and understanding, not necessarily “getting it perfect” or even “getting it right.”
Complete the Affordances and Limitations Worksheet
The Affordances and Limitaitons worksheet can be downloaded from the Course Resources module.
Write about 3 pages (informal, but cited – research & reference is expected) on what you did making sure to cite your reading (again, this is an informal academic paper). Please see below (“Explain the Project”).
Project must be “Web Styled” – images, text highlighting, “Chunked” content, and more, are expected.
Project must include an MLA or APA formatted Works Cited or References list.
There are three main components here:
Communicate, but only use VERY OLD MEDIUMS (see below)
Complete the Affordances and Limitations worksheet
Research and then write about your project
For the sake of clarity, and for an assurance of quality, you might consider part 2 (criticism) to be the actual assignment – while I want to see you attempt to use ancient media, I am not per se grading you on your ability to do that (although I AM grading your adherence to using truly ancient tools). Mainly, I am evaluating your ability to understand media and communication through a lens of the reading that we’ve been doing.
For part one, you will try to communicate (something you do every day) using only ancient media. You will be making a material object of some sort, and then you will represent that object digitally with a video or series of images.
“Ancient media” include media forms from prehistory and antiquity: oration, dance, cuneiform / clay tablet, painting, handwritten manuscript on homemade paper, and so on. Essentially, media technology that existed before the year 1,500 C.E.
In other words – imagine you had to tweet, but you only had your voice. Imagine you wanted to share photos, but only had clay and a stylus.
Think about what is *essential* to your communication – what are you trying to do once you take away the names of the forms / media? What are you really trying to accomplish? What is the *spirit* of the thing that you are doing?
For part two: complete the Affordances and Limitations worksheet – this should help you to situate your project in order to write about it in part three (below).
For part three, you will write an informal, but still academic, web-styled writeup of about 3 pages (~800-1000 words).
Cite sources – talk to me also about your reading and how it informs what you’ve done.
Research externally – it’s possible that the reading you’ve done won’t directly inform your old media task, but I can all but promise you that SOME scholar, somewhere, is working on an adjacent topic (Links to an external site.).
Explain the Project – your writeup should really give me three pieces of information via a very short essay.
What is this artifact and how is it historically situated? Explain the *thing* to me. Cite your research.
How does your artifact intersect with the criticism and scholarship we’ve been reading. For early projects this includes Plato, Benjamin, Haas – for later projects this includes Lyotard, McLuhan, Berlin, Dyer-Witheford. You are always expected to research on your own, and to cite that research.
Did your artifact succeed or fail? By what metrics? How did you determine success or failure? What do those terms mean? No citation strictly necessary here as this is essentially your conclusion.
This course seeks to contrast the “new media” we usually write in today with the “old media” to which it is compared – so let’s go back to older than old, and get downright ancient!
Think about how the first humans communicated – what did they have to do to send messages to each other? Walter Ong talks about orality (storytelling) and Angela Haas discusses Iroquois wampum belts. What other types of media have been around since before the written word? If you prefer, think about when human beings first began writing: what materials were used? What was going on?
The trick to this exercise is understanding how media have changed over time, and as a result, I want you to complete this exercise “with your bare hands.” Think about how you would communicate if you couldn’t just text someone, or even if you couldn’t go to the store and buy paper, pens, and envelopes to send a letter.
Think also about what it is you’re going to do and how you know how to do it. One of the media below, homemade paper, ink, & pen, would require some specific knowledge and you’d probably look that up online…what if you couldn’t? Similarly, a few of the media below (cooking, styling) are often taught by family or peers. Is that true of New Media?
What does this sort of communication ask of you that a quick text message doesn’t? What do you have to know? What skills do you need? What is “left out” in terms of knowledge and ability? Does this sort of communication ask more from you, or less? What role does your body play in this communication? What about cost – and not just what costs you personally have to pay…think about how expenses are shared in society and what that allows or limits.
Some quintessential “ancient” media can be found below – try the one that sounds best to you, and then write about it!
You will also attempt to “web style” your prose – a guide to writing for the web can be found at usability.gov (from your reading, and also linked here), but a lot of it boils down to using your text tools intelligently: headers, lists, tables, and also writing in an accessible style and “chunking” your content into short paragraphs for easy skimming.
Your critical filter is up to you, but I suggest talking about your piece rhetorically and / or poetically. Think in terms of sender-message-receiver, and also think in terms of aesthetics. Consider timeliness, audience, access, cost, and all other factors that go into communicative action. Again: put your reading to work. Make connections – and if what we’ve read doesn’t connect easily, get researching!
Sample “ancient” media:
Pantomime (simple sign language) / mimicry Speech / Orality / song / storytelling Music (ancient instruments)
Cuneiform Clay or stone sculpture Figure painting with homemade paints on wood or stone
Hair & cloth styling / dress / fashion Early paper & pen (homemade paper, quill pen, homemade ink) Food & cooking using local ingredients & methods
Submit the following:
A picture or video of the artifact you have created, for example:
A photo of your object (sculpture, cuneiform, textiles)
A video of you performing (oration, song, dance)
A completed Affordances and Limitations Worksheet
One process narration / metacritical writeup / explanatory essay:
Write about 3 pages (800-1000 words) citing your reading and research.
Include a Works Cited list
“Web style” your prose – see the “Web Writing – And YOU!” module notes for clarification. Whether you compose your write-up in Word, in the Canvas text editor, or post it online, it must look, feel, and perform as though it is written for the web.
Note that ALL Files must be Windows-compatible: images should be .gif, .jpg, or .png. Text should be .doc or PDF. Upload any videos to a video hosting service (YouTube, Vimeo, or similar).
One of the media below, homemade paper, ink, & pen, would require some specific knowledge and you’d probably look that up online…what if you couldn’t?
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