Josh Keys Media Studies

Lessons Learned Analysis

The project allowed me to practice the theories of new media that we learnt in class throughout the semester in a variety of ways. The objective of the project was “To make connections between several of the issues and problematics raised during the semester on the diverse and complex topic of “new media.””, as you can tell, this is very open and therefore gave me almost too much space to practice the theories of new media. Having pondered for a while on how to go about tackling this project, I decided to take a look at the project “forms and examples” that were provided to us: 

  • A community research project– your group studies a particular online community in-depth, participating in it over time and analyzing its organization and use of digital networked media.
  • A web 2.0 story – a narrative deployed in online space, using hyperlinks, interactivity, and/or staggered releases to maximize its reception by your audience.
  • A digital game (text-based or 2D) that highlights some aspect of digital networked media.
  • A series of videos (video essays, podcast, mashups, remixes, etc.) that use multiple media forms – motion pictures, sound, and the web/interactivity – to make an argument or tell a story.
  • An alternate reality game (ARG) design (implementation would not be evaluated for this assignment).

I went with a “Web 2.0 story” because it gave me the opportunity to use a timeline as a tool to educate and entertain my audience at the same time. My topic was the “History of Military Communication”, I enjoy History and therefore this project format gave me the opportunity to practice the theories we learnt in class through a subject I enjoy.

The project offers a student of new media the chance to take what we learned from course material and apply it a real setting. For example, I took what I learned from Janet Murray’s reading about the usefulness of the digital medium, saying it is “procedural, participatory, encyclopaedic, and spatial” therefore I have learnt the benefits of this medium and applied them to producing my own project. Furthermore, other students in the class, used other readings like Nancy Baym’s , and applied it to real life fandoms and online communities. On the other hand, the only limitations that I can see would be that the topic of new media is what our course material provided for us, which was a wide variety- and therefore not really a problematic limitation.

The experience of researching and implementing my project helped me understand how new media influences our daily lives. The research aspect showed me that the relatively new media of the computer and the internet was essential for me to find the information I was looking for, therefore I relied on these tools massively. On the implementing side of the project, I learnt that the simple medium of a screen can influence our lives incredibly. I used a projector screen for my project presentation. It helped the class see my project  and gave me the platform to show them what I wanted to see, through screen shots and my power point. Furthermore, the timeline tool (TimeRime) I found online gave me the medium to present my project in manageable, ‘bite sized’ chunks to my audience.

The course readings affected my understanding of that experience in a variety of ways.  The Janet Murray reading was the most relevant reading to my project as well as the most clarifying one. Murray’s reading was relevant because it summarised my reasoning behind using the timeline medium; “procedural, participatory, encyclopaedic, and spatial”. This clarified why I used the timeline tool to present my project. Furthermore, you could argue, it  illuminated the benefits of this tool to other people in the class when I presented my classmates with my project and Murray’s supporting evidence. Another example of a reading that illuminated my project was Tom Carmody’s reading, who talks about the “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books”, one of which being the “printing press”. The printing press was a major event in the development of communication and therefore held a place of my project timeline. Therefore this reading gave me the illuminating evidence to  support the reasoning behind putting it on my timeline.

My project, in my opinion, shows an interesting underlying statement about society today and it’s future. My project showcases the development of military communication through time, starting with the basic instruments of the Roman Cornu and Tuba and closing with the recent antics of ISIS’s use of the internet to spread fear and hatred. We, as a society, have gone from fighting face to face with the use of basic tools to communicate to now, very rarely meeting in the flesh  and now using the new digital media to communicate and cause conflict with each other. I believe this says a lot about aspects of our society (not the whole of it) today, that although we are now more connected through the wonders of new media (Facebook, Twitter, Etc.) we have grown apart. I see many people today wishing their online friends happy birthday etc but won’t say it to them in person. A slightly less relevant and loosely tied analysis you could gain from my project would be that we, as a society, have and always will find a reason to engage in conflicts with each other. Wether it is fighting off a Roman invasion in Gaul, or dealing with terrorism in the Middle East (and globally), we sadly seem to not be able to live in a peaceful and happy environment.

To conclude, this project has been a great way to express what we have learnt from the course materials into a fashion that we enjoy. I believe my project does a great job to prove this, I took what I learnt from class and applied it to another academic topic that I really enjoy- History. This gave me the opportunity to have an enjoyable experience with a project because I was able to fulfil the purpose of the class (to learn about new media) while displaying what I had learned through a filter of my own liking, military history.


Project Timeline: Conclusion Post

The objective of the project for my Media Studies class was to “To make connections between several of the issues and problematics raised during the semester on the diverse and complex topic of “new media.”” as you can see, and as it says, this project was very open to us and provided us with an incredible amount of freedom.

I was inspired to do something similar to a “web 2.0 story” which is described as  “a narrative deployed in online space, using hyperlinks, interactivity, and/or staggered releases to maximize its reception by your audience”. I thought this was a great way to present my project as it allowed me to be creative and more importantly I thought it would be an entertaining way of being informative  for my audience. 

One of the readings we were assigned in class, by Janet Murray, summarises the usefulness of a digital timeline- “The computer is procedural, participatory, encyclopaedic, and spatial”. This means that the audience can participate actively in their learning of my project (the History of Military Communication), while the timeline offers a visually pleasing look of images and very little text, which upon being clicked on, breaks the “spatial” plane and opens up to a more “encyclopaedic” look as it gives the audience the full information on the topic.

I believe Murray summarises the benefits of a digital timeline perfectly when she says “all of these characteristics are appealing for storytelling” which my project is aiming to do by telling the story of the development of communication, specifically military communication through history.






Timeline Reading Post 1: Kevin Kelly

Language in its simplest form is a method of communication.

And in class, we focused on pages 21-41 of the Kevin Kelly reading, where he discusses the human race and how we evolved into an “animal” (p.g 22) race with the language of “not-animals” through our development of communication.

Kelly describes that how “Early humans employed rough-and-ready lumps of rock with sharpened edges to cut, poke, drill, or spear” (p.g 23) until something happened “50,000 years ago” (p.g 26) which was the “invention of language” (p.g 26). Kelly draws upon Richard Klein who says this invention was “a change in the operating system of humans” which then allowed humans to “articulate speech” (p.g 26).

This use of language allows us to think and question ourselves, as Kelly puts it “a magic mirror that reveals the mind what the mind thinks; a handle that turns a mind into a tool” (p.g 26) which will, as you will see later in my timeline, lead to technological discoveries that will in turn lead to developments in the uses of communication for military purposes.


My Project

Below is a hyperlink to my project Timeline. I recommend zooming in towards the end of the timeline as it becomes fairly cluttered.

Applied Media Analysis

P= paragraph L= Line

Janet Murray’s article covers many aspects of “game story” (P2 L1), like the types of narrative structure that I covered in my text response. For this Applied Media Analysis I would like to compare Murray’s findings to the structure of the new video game Battlefield 1, which is unique in many ways, but mostly in the way it is the first World War One first-person-shooter game to come to Playstation and Xbox.

Murray says “We need a new medium to express this story, to practice this new game, and we have found it in the computer” (P8 L1) the computer is also a game console and therefore gives a platform for “game story”s to take place, through games like Battlefield 1.

However, Battlefield 1 isn’t like a normal “game-story” structure where you progress level to level at the rate the game designers dictated. In Battlefield 1, the “game-story” is displayed on a world map:


Here we can see that the “game-story”, or “war stories” as they are called in Battlefield 1, are presented in an interactive map where the user can switch and play any of the stories at their own will. Murray’s article alludes to this possible layout when she says “The digital medium is the appropriate locus for enacting and exploring the contests and puzzles of the new global community” (P8 L2) the user is enacting the battles of the Great War through this medium with exploring a variety of scenarios and battlefields such as tanks in France and horses in the Middle East.

Furthermore, Murray quotes Espen Aarseth (1997) who coined the term “ergodic literature,” which he defines as “open, dynamic texts where the reader must perform specific actions to generate a literary sequence, which may vary for every reading.” (P8 L23) This applies to Battlefield 1 because the game acts as the “text” and the users are the ones who must “perform specific actions”, like selecting a war story, in order to “generate literary sequence” to then play, and this may vary “for every reading” because the user may select a different order of war stories.

Like most video games, Battlefield 1 is also a “replay story world” where the user can “experience all the possibilities of a moment, without privileging any one of them as the single choice.” P14 L12 Furthermore it is a game that enables it’s users to “retell the age-old stories in new ways, to imagine ourselves as creatures of a parameterized world of multiple possibilities, to understand ourselves as authors of rule systems which drive behavior and shape our possibilities.” (P16 L6) this is because the user can relive the “war stories” of soldiers in those battle and survive those battles through their own methods.

To conclude, Battlefield 1 is a solid example of the medium that Murray describes in her article because it possesses a “game-story”, or war stories, that provide a platform for the user to relive the old battles

Design Document

My project will focus on how the methods of military communication has developed over time through technology. My analysis, will serve as a statement about an aspect of new media and cultural change because it will show my audience how the different media of communication has changed through the technological and cultural developments surrounding it. For example, the invention of the radio by Guglielmo Marconi in 1895. As well as highlighting aspects of the course we’ve learned such as the print revolution, brought to us by the Tim Carmody reading.

The project will highlight major events in the development of communication media and could draw upon authors from the readings and external sources to help explain and support my analysis.

My project will be a vertical timeline that unfolds down the years as the reader scrolls down the webpage. The top, and start, of the timeline will further back in history starting around the ancient history period and the bottom will be technology of today. The following list is what is likely to be featured in my final project timeline:

  • Roman Cornu
  • Banners, Flags, Drums in Medieval Period
  •  Visual Telegraph System (Claude Chappe)
  • Royal Navy Flag Signals (Popham)
  • World War One Homing Pigeons
  • Radio in WW2
  • “Code Talkers” in WW2
  • Cyberwarfare today.

I will present these media through major battles that they were utilised in, almost like little narratives. There will be images and potential text to support my presentations of the events and media.

A very brief example:

Royal Navy Flag Signals.

The system was created by Home Riggs Popham. Utilised in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). Lord Nelson conveyed message like:


This helped him win the battle against the French and Spanish in order to defend Great Britain from invasion.

The timeline that these little narratives will be presented through will be created via the timeline maker from iSpring Solutions. It looks like this:


This example, provided by the company, shows an interactive timeline at the bottom of the image that the viewer can click and be presented with a different US President.

Text Response to Janet Murray’s “From Game-Story to Cyberdrama”

For quotations: P= Paragraph L= Line

Janet Murray’s reading describes how stories and games are very much intertwined with each other and even games like “checkers” (P2 L5) have some sort of story to them. She coins these games as “game-story” (P2 L1), which means “the story-rich new gaming formats that are proliferating in digital formats” (P2 L2) such as “atmospheric first person shooter” (P2 L3).

A big question that she asks regarding these “game-story” media is “which come first, the story or the game?” (P5 L8). She argues that it is “the story that come first because storytelling is a core human activity, one we take into every medium of expression, from the oral-formulaic to the digital multimedia” (P5 L9). This is a concept that I immediately concluded, story always comes first. If you think of your typical shooter-game, take Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, the campaign mode starts off with an intro video that sets the missions that follow in context. Therefore this supports the concept that story precede game because the player has yet to literally play the game and he has been introduced to the game through this contextual cinematic.

I would argue that this is the norm as many game-stories are configured this way, certainly in  “digital formats”, however once past this introductory sequence, it is the other way round. Once you are in the thick of these games you must perform actions (as this walkthrough displays) in order to progress further in the game, this then unlocks more cinematic story moments (also displayed in that walkthrough). Therefore you could argue that, despite the opening contextual scene, game does come first as you must literally play the game in order to trigger the story aspect of the video game.

However, not all games follow this process. Take “checkers” for example. This game is commonly played physically (but can be played digitally, through apps etc) where the pieces are lined up opposite each other, at either end of the board. Here the game commences by a player physically moving a piece in a diagonal direction (left or right) and the game is won by a player taking the opposing player’s pieces (by doing a hopping over them motion). In this type of game the story certainly follows the game(play) because the story is somewhat open and written by a players actions.

To conclude, for the most part I would agree with Murray as stories do precede game in most aspects of story-game life. Yet there are alternative examples to argue against her point.

Project Proposal

I will work alone to produce a Web 2.0 Story describing the development of military communication through history, most likely starting with ancient warfare (maybe Roman), to then something like Royal Navy flag codes, to World War 1 runners, WW2 radio and (maybe) finally “cyberwarfare” and the use of the internet. This narrative will be complemented by major technology development ‘side stories’ such as the development of the printing press and the radio etc.

I hope this will enlighten people of the path technology has taken in changing/ advancing military communication. As well as highlighting the struggles/ benefits each medium provided.

This will educate people on the roots of technology, yet through a hopefully more interesting dialogue.

I will produce a website that has an interactive timeline of the progression technology has taken in relation to military communications tools. This will most likely draw upon specific battles, such as the Battle of Trafalgar, where the technology was prolifically used.

I will produce a timeline using the “Timeline JS3” produced by Knight Lab. I will require my laptop and an internet connection to complete the timeline as well as to conduct my research.

Text Response to 10/11-10/13 (or even a New Media Analysis?)

P= Paragraph L= Line

This week we came across three authors who all discussed technology, while highlighting three different usages and aspects of the medium. Danah Boyd discusses the youth of today and their love for MySpace, Dan Gillmor discusses how the spread of social media has led to the uprising of unsavory usage of such media and Chris Ritter describes his experiences playing the video game “World of Warcraft” and the troubling resemblance to racism it has attached to it. As you can understand, having read these quite eye-opening readings, I can’t help but think that there really is a sense of “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” attached to Technology and in particular, social media.

THE GOOD. Boyd describes how the youth of today are flooding onto MySpace as it gives them a platform for “socialization” (introduction P4 L1). This is a good use of social media as it provides users (especially young) with a chance to interact with their “peer group” (Digital Publics P9 L2) upon a platform where they are free to do as they please, away from “control at home” (Digital Publics P3 L2), where they are in control of what their environment looks like, such as their profile page. This is a ‘GOOD’ usage of social media as it connects us with our friends in a positive manor to keep in touch with them during our ever-busy lives.

THE BAD. Gillmor draws upon numerous ways in which technology and social media has developed opportunities for ‘BAD’ usages. Firstly, he draws upon the opportunities to mislead the public, through the use of “Photoshop” (New Ways to Mislead P3 L4) and other tools like “phony press release(s)” (Who’s Talking, and Why? P1 L1). There are many prolific uses of these tools such as the classic North Korean propaganda attempts that conveniently bring “phony press release(s)” and “Photoshop” together in not too sweet harmony.

THE UGLY. Ritter makes an alarming discovery in WoW, where what seemed a simple and enjoyable game, has been shed a new light (or shadow) when he illuminates the ‘UGLY’ racist undercurrent within the game structure. This is predominantly seen through the different “race options” (Manifestations P3 L5). There are 10 races and all of them provide benefits and limitations. This is where the racism surfaces. For example, the Orc race is depicted as “Barbaric Warriors” (Racism P3 L9) while speaking in “Caribbean English” (Racism P4 L7). On the other hand, the human race is almost all “fair-skinned” (Racism P6 L14) they speak “standard American English” (Racism P6 L16) and are described as holding the “honor and might of humanity in an ever-darkening world” (Racism P6 L18). This may be an unintended depiction of the different ethnicities, but it is obvious once hightlighted, and is clearly an ‘UGLY’ and wrong depiction of the black ethnicity. Therefore displaying of an ‘UGLY’ use for technology.

To conclude, technology is a tremendous thing that gives us the chance to engage and communicate with each other, regardless of time or distance. Yet, as our authors have showcased, this technology can be used for the wrong thing such as manipulation or racism.

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