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Two Faced: DGST 396 Final Project

Project Trailer


Final Project: Interactive Timeline – click here to open timeline in separate tab


Timeline with Audio Narration


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Node #2 Reflection and Summary

  • Impressions of AI: A Progression

(1) As we have started talking about AI my first thought was of an old website my siblings and I used to play on called Cleverbot.com. I believe that this website would be considered a form of AI because like Shane talks about in the reading, it cannot itself understand human language but it can learn from input. The responses from Cleverbot are informed by what people type in to chat with it, and therefore its responses overtime become more believably conversational rather than very robotic, stiff responses. This example of AI technology has me leaning more towards the “not taking AI super seriously” stance.

(2) As we progressed in the unit however, the conversation about AI of course became more complex. Our discussion regarding Black Software and the Alert II system helped make me more aware of the real world dangers that can arise from AI technology (as opposed to those portrayed in movies). I think that a widely-held perception of AI is that it is more accurate or scientific than humans are, but at the end of the day humans are the ones programming this technology. AI is therefore susceptible to the bias and follies of humanity, so we shouldn’t just blindly trust that AI programming will be faultless. If anything, this discussion is a further argument against those who blindly praise AI technology without considering the many ways in which it still needs to be developed/improved.

(3) The “AI and Creativity” section of this node helped confirm this sentiment, but again further complicated the overall discussion of AI. The part of the discussion involving collaboration among humans and AI was positive in the sense that it allows new and interesting forms of art/creative expression to emerge. It is interesting to analyze how AI technology learns from input and furthermore how it interprets that input to produce output. Analyzing this process is more than just interesting though. It is critical to an honest understanding of how this input/output process need to be improved. The example of the messed up cats that the AI still recognized as cats demonstrates this point. The AI generated cats are funny only because their interpretation by AI is low stakes. One of the points from this discussion that has stuck with me the most was: “So if this is what an AI thinks cats look like, what does the AI in a self-driving car think I look like when I walk down the sidewalk?” The ability for AI in a self-driving car to accurately interpret input is incredibly high stakes. That is why it is dangerous to overstate the capability of AI today. Such actions could have devastating consequences.

  • The Trolley Problem

These are my results from the Trolley Problem game. I felt absolutely horrible about all of my choices. In some cases, I thought it would be “better” to lose the least amount of human life. But when that decision involved pushing someone onto the track who wasn’t in harm’s way to begin with, I couldn’t do it. Additionally, when that single person was someone I cared about, I could not sacrifice them to save more people. If the choice was that I myself could die to save a greater number of people, I would take that in a heartbeat. But I could not choose to let my brother die to save strangers. The graphics made the game bearable in the sense that the depictions of humans were not detailed. I can’t imagine how horrific the game would be if it was say a VR game. In the context of this unit, this game made me wonder what an AI system would choose each time. AI doesn’t deal with the complication of having emotion, so would it be easier for them to say always choose to kill the least amount of people no matter the circumstance? I guess if the AI was like that in the movie Colossus, it would just try and kill as many people as possible with the trolley.

The coding exercise involving inputting text was definitely challenging but very helpful in demonstrating collaboration between humans and technology. This exercise emphasized an earlier point about the responsibility human’s have in submitting input into a system. The output created is going to reflect the input (like we saw with the Alert II system). This exercise was no different. If you were to include significantly more text from one author versus another, the resulting output would reflect the voice of the book that the system had more information about.

  • Ultimate conclusion: AI cannot and should not be seen as impervious to error! Improvements are necessary and ignoring this fact has already and will continue to produce negative consequences.
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Arcade Follow-Up

Our trip to Reclaim Arcade was truly a unique experience. It felt as though we had been transported back in time to a different decade – a simpler time when technology was more unreachable (in the best way). The decor of the CD room made me feel like I was in an episode of Stranger Things, and added that much more to the effect of being removed from the modern day. The space was filled with the nostalgic sounds of classic video games – sounds that drowned out the reality of homework assignments and responsibilities and immersed us all in something pure, simple, and too often fleeting: fun. The game I chose to focus on more in depth was Galaga, and I recorded the third high score at the arcade.


Galaga – A Closer Look

Basic Details

  • The title of the game is Galaga (1981), and it is the sequel to the game Galaxian (1979)
  • Galaga was developed and published by Namco and was released in North America by Midway Manufacturing

Physical Design

  • The Galaga game cabinet was standard of the time, rectangular overall with sloped walls and a roof that surrounded the horizontally embedded digital screen.
  • The game includes 3 buttons: a 1 player button, a 2 player button, and a fire button. The player 1 & 2 buttons also doubled as the start game buttons. It also includes a large, singular joystick that allows you to move your ship.
  • Galaga employs a Standard Resolution Raster display.
  • It costs 25 cents per play.
  • The game’s attract mode consists of a screen displaying the high score, and instructions to “Push Start Button”. It also includes information about bonus point amounts that can be earned during gameplay.

Graphics

  • I would classify the graphics on this game as iconic. They are fairly representational – what you see is what you get. The enemies are colorful bugs of different shapes and types, each having unique flight patterns and abilities. The rockets they shoot at your fighter ship are all the same, and resemble matches (white sticks with red ovals attached).
  • Your fighter is white and red as well, however the appearance of the ship is dynamic in gameplay. If your fighter is captured, the red and white design on it inverts, and then reverts back if you are able to recapture it.
  • The action in this game is fast paced and requires multiple points of attention. This makes it challenging and requires quick and active use of hand-eye coordination.

Game Design

  • The Space genre best defines Galaga. It was a popular genre especially among earlier video games.
  • Galaga does have a high score list and I made it to #3 on the list during the time I was at Reclaim.
  • The mechanics of the game consist of a joystick and a fire button. You are only able to move your fighter left and right, and you do so in order to both shoot at the incoming enemy bugs as well as dodge their missiles.
  • The object of the game is to eliminate all enemy bugs in each stage. You can only advance once every bug has been eliminated. You get bonus points for reaching certain benchmark scores, and reaching certain score levels also rewards you with bonus lives. You lose once all your fighters have been destroyed by the enemy bugs.
  • I think that one of the principal ways the game encourages you to keep playing is through the bonus stages. In these stages, the bugs do not shoot at you or try and hit you, and you cannot lose a life. The only object of these stages is to shoot as many of the bugs as possible to gain bonus points. As aforementioned, bonus points give you advantages in the game like extra lives.
  • Clearing each stage in a fairly timely manner is common, and I believe this encourages continued play as well. It reduces fatigue on the gamer’s end and the sense of adrenaline/accomplishment after clearly each stage is addictive.

Interpretation

  • Literally, this game is about a space fighter attacking alien enemies (in the form of bugs) in order to protect itself. There is no obvious larger connotation in the game’s name/story the reveals that it might be protecting something, like the Earth. Therefore, it appears that the fighter is just traversing its way through space with only self-preservation in mind. Further interpretations can be made at the discretion of the player.

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Gaming Journal #2

Oh boy.

Firstly, this week was exciting because I was finally got to dive into some serious gameplay!!! I have been playing BioShock throughout the week and wow – if my anxiety wasn’t bad before it sure is now. I am playing on Easy mode because although I have played some first-person shooter games before, it was always with my brother and not traversing solo through a story mode. I tend to panic slightly when it’s just me vs. everything so this game mode should allow for a few seconds of said panic before instant death, so that’s a plus.

The controls to this game are fairly simple (I am playing on an Xbox One). So right trigger to shoot, left toggle to crouch, etc. are all familiar. However what has thrown me so far is that aiming in is not done with the opposite trigger but rather with one of the toggles, which has taken a lot of getting used to. Initially I kept switching between the electric bolt and my guns when I was in fact trying to aim in, but it is slowly getting better. Another big thing I have noticed in this first week is how critical the audio is in this game. Almost all of the instructions are given via radio and I have found it not only extremely helpful but necessary to be listening closely at all times for tips/guidance.

The graphics in this game are not scary – there is some gore, but no images/characters that are terrifying per se. However, I am very unsettled every time I play for some reason. It brings me back to the days when I would play the Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies game mode with my brother. I think I might have some unresolved trauma (not seriously) from that game – I get the same feeling of panic/adrenaline when the splicers run at me in BioShock as I did when the Zombies would do so at Nacht der unToten. I bring this up only to highlight the how the dynamic changes, at least for me, with this genre of games playing them solo versus with a partner.

I pray that my dreams are free of splicers, Little Sisters, or worst of all – Big Daddies. Until next week.


*I have continued to take note of the rhetoric within the script of the game as well as the “decor” of the levels, and so far the social commentary proposed in my first gaming journal has been supported. Will continue to research.

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The Soft Truth: Reflection

The soft truth is, as described by the author, a story about “the intersection of technology, popular culture, and the lived we have lived inside of machines”. The narrator/main character has just gotten fired from her job for something she said online, although exactly what was said is not revealed. She begins to see another version of herself in the world, and is fascinated by a thumbnail of a gelatin orb. The narrator professes that she often watches “satisfying” YouTube videos, yet she cannot find the actual video associated with the Thumbnail for a long time. She finally finds the video in the end when she views the video on her phone, as the format is different revealing the name of the clip.

At the end of the story, the narrator says that everything she knows suddenly makes sense now that she found the gelatin sphere video. These types of satisfying YouTube videos are said to be calming/relieve stress, so in one sense I can see how she gets that feelings after finally finding the long-anticipated video. I think that the narrator seeing another version of herself might reference the separate identities that come with creating an online presence. Online personas often present a picture of perfection that is not accurate to reality, so perhaps when the narrator finally finds that video she is experiencing a form of freedom/reconciliation between herself and that different online identity.

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BioShock Blog

Gaming Journal #1


This first blog is based more on just my initial impressions of the game from trailers and literature I’ve found online about it. I didn’t read spoilers about the gameplay itself, but rather just wanted some overall context about the game and the story.

I was interested to explore whether or not BioShock had any underlying social commentary/messages it was trying to present. It takes place in the 1960s – a decade with no shortage of social unrest and change. There are clear themes of technology and science fiction, however you have to look a little deeper to discover some of the social messages delivered through the characters and scene layouts. From what I read online and observed through the game’s introduction, there seems to be an overwhelming agreement that the game comments on the concepts of objectivism and communism within the Soviet Union.

The intro to the game displays a banner that reads “No Gods or Kings. Only Man.” This banner hangs in Rapture, a society created by Andrew Ryan that emphasizes objectivism and rejects communism. Theories online liken Andrew Ryan to Ayn Rand (their names are suspiciously similar) and explain that Ryan shares his ideologies about communism in Soviet Russia. Rapture was created to be a society in which the focus was on the individual and sacrifices were not made on society’s behalf to hold everyone up.

This background information has made me more excited to play the game and I am interested to see if I agree with that perspective on what the game might be trying to say. I hope to be able to uncover clues that either support this interpretation or reveal a different message.


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Audio (Week 5 Summary)

It’s Audio Week!

Radio Bumper

This bumper was created using Audacity. I recorded my voice and then found a free source music track to place behind the talking. I used the Envelope Tool on Audacity to quiet the background music behind the speaking part, and used fade in and fade out effects to clean up the ends.


DS106 Audio Assignments

Assignment #1: Funny Voiceover

Eminem is really passionate about his McDonalds. For this assignment, I used iMovie to add clips together of an Eminem rap battle but instead of his usually angry singing, Eminem is rapping the Mcdonalds rap song.

Assignment #2: New vs. Old

For this assignment, I took the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and remixed the original version with the Glee cover using Audacity.

Assignment #3: Tongue Twister

This assignment was to record yourself saying a tongue twister and layer a sound in the background. I recited a tongue twister about a woodchuck and then played nature sounds in the background to keep the theme consistent, and edited the tracks together using Audacity.


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Reading Movies (Week 10 Summary)

It’s Video Week!


Video Essay

This assignment tasked us to take a scene from a movie and analyze it stylistically, not by the plot. Our readings this week posed questions about why movie/video makers choose to shoot scenes the way they do. What effects do these choices create? What elements of the shot help create the desired effect? Personally, I found Roger Ebert’s approach to movie analysis most appealing because his process is to take a film shot by shot and delve deeply to discover what nuances each shot can reveal about the film. I think that breaking down the film this way helps to better focus the analysis rather than trying to glean something from the film in its entirety. Therefore, with Ebert’s article How to Read a Movie in mind, I analyzed a shot from the movie American Beauty and attempted to break it down as Ebert might. Below, I have embedded a video essay consisting of the shot I chose to look at with a voiceover analysis.


DS106 Video Assignments

Assignment #1: Period Piece Mashup

Assignment #2: Tik Tok It

The original assignment was to make a Vine video, but because Vine no longer exists I used Tik Tok.


Assignment #3: Put it in Reverse Terry


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Looking Back (Week 9 Summary)

This week, we were tasked with taking two of our old assignments and re-doing or remixing them in a new way. Below, you will see the results of that reflection and reinvention.

Revisited Work #1: Now Vogue

This visual assignment was to take a picture and turn it into a magazine cover. When I originally completed this assignment in Week 6, I used Instagram to edit a photo in order to create the magazine cover. This time around, I decided to use the photo editing website Pixlr to see how the two approaches compared. Overall, Pixlr had more options as far a design elements that could be added to the photo in making the magazine cover. I used a “Hello Summer” sticker from the bank and Pixlr had more extensive font choices. I think that Pixlr was the better tool to use for this assignment because you can create a more polished/professional looking final product compared to one created on Instagram. Here is the final work:

Revisited Work #2: Tell a Stellar Story

This web assignment was to create a story using the App Stellar. My original Stellar video detailed a vacation I took to Costa Rica, so for this remix assignment I decided to make a new Stellar project that detailed a one day long significant event in my life. I chose to make a commemorative video about my high school graduation. This time around, I used more of the features in Stellar like placing templates around each image so it looked like a digital photo album. I thought this was appropriate as the pictures within were ones I would put in a physical photo album, and it helped the Stellar to look more unique instead of an like an instagram story. Here is the final video:

https://twitter.com/lknierbein/status/1389069570913284098?s=10

Radio Reflection

While our radio show premiered on ds106 radio, my group members and I watched the tweets that came in throughout. Watching the live reaction was a really beneficial experience in that it gave us immediate feedback on the audience experience of our show, allowing us to see how it came across from the opposite perspective. The feedback we gleaned had a lot to do with what content engaged the viewers the most. Our radio show was about childhood memories, ranging from food memories, injuries, and childhood hopes and dreams. The audience response overwhelmingly showed that viewers resonated most with the stories about childhood injuries. Many of the Twitter responses had to do with people remembering their own childhood bike accidents and sharing them, as several of us talked about this in the radio show. With this in mind, if we had to revise the show I think we would focus it in more on childhood injuries in order to facilitate greater audience engagement. #radiolisten

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Final Project Submission and Summary

Embedded below (through SoundCloud) is my final project!!! I created a podcast titled “Netflix: Fact or Fiction” that is a podcast that combines history with pop culture/modern day TV shows that are inspired by history and historical locations. In this podcast, we take a look at some historical facts or other information about an area and then compare it to shows that have been created inspired by that history!

***Side note*** I truly want to apologize for the sound/dryness/poor quality of my voice on the recording, I contracted strep throat at the beginning of this week (perfect timing!) and wasn’t actually able to talk much until the latter half of the week which set me back. This led to a lot of coughing and therefore stops and starts so I could cut those parts out, my apologies.


Below, I will also include the logo I made for the podcast using an online logo tool and Pixlr:

About the Process:

  • Last week’s brainstorming time was really helpful in that I had a complete idea of what I wanted to accomplish, and so now all I had to do was try and execute it the best I could without wasting any more time not knowing what to do yet. That week consisted of conducting the majority of the historical I wanted to include in the podcast, but luckily I found a great website that consolidated my efforts in one place. I created a resource page that I will link here in this sentence as well as further down in this post that includes links to the sources I used for the historical research. I give all historical knowledge credit/information to that source!!!
  • The other aspect of the show was opinion based commentary, so it was easier to gather however it did need to be organized. Based on blogs I read and my own views on the show, I came up with points I wanted to discuss about each show (Outer Banks and American Horror Story Season 6: Roanoke) compared to the history I introduced each with (the Lost Colony and a broader look at the history and current makeup of the Outer Banks).
  • Now it was time to record. I had used the Voice Memo app on my iPhone and Mac in my previous audio project with my group earlier in the semester, and so I decided to do so again because the quality was the best i’m able to produce from where I am. I recorded 14 separate audio tracks that would make up the podcast: most of them were me speaking (Intro, Outro, Prelude section 1, Prelude Section 2, Main Story Section 1 & 2 etc.), then there was background music for certain parts of the podcast, theme songs for the TV shows discussed, sound effects, and memorable audio clips from the TV shows.
  • Voice memos are automatically saved as the “Filename.m4a” version of audio files, so I used iTunes to convert each individual audio file to an .mp3 file so they could be uploaded and edited in Audacity.
  • I used Audacity to edit together my entire podcast – the bulk of the heavy lifting happened there. One by one I uploaded the clips in the order I wanted, using the “Fade In” and “Fade Out” Effects between clips as well as the Envelope Tool to quiet background music when I wanted it to play behind a speaking part. It was a very time consuming and finicky process to say the least. But I like Audacity and had been able to practice getting my bearings with it earlier in the semester, so it was nice to use it again with some experience.
  • Once everything sounded the way I wanted, the podcast landed at a little over 40 minutes and I was pleased because there is not a lot of filler it is predominantly active content. I listened through it all together and when I was finally happy with it, I uploaded it into SoundCloud with an episode title and cover image. The last step then was to embed it here in this #finalproject summary post.
  • On another note, I referenced a lot of images/concepts throughout the podcast that I wanted my audience to be able to see if they wanted to, so I created a Podcast Resource Page that has pictures and descriptions about the things and ideas discussed throughout the podcast. This page is a separate blog post I created here on my WordPress blog and has media (mostly images) relevant to the podcast, as well as credit to the sources I used when researching the podcast. Please check it out. (P.S. All the media I included for the resource page is embedded directly into the resource page, not linked, just the sources are linked.
  • Finally, I wanted to give a specific shoutout to what the #outstory theme meant to me in making this podcast and how it relates to the final project. I actually speak this excerpt (copied below) in the podcast itself near the end but I will include the script of what I am saying below as I want my idea to (hopefully) come across clearly:

Our Story

“Looking back on history is a great way to better understand where we have come from, and how far we have come as a species. Right now, I’m sitting on the same ground under the same sun where Native Americans first settled the land, where colonists sailed across the sea to establish themselves, where Civil War conflicts erupted and where slaves ran for their freedom, where pirates smuggled jewels and where the first airplane took flight. And now I’m in the modern world and that all seems so crazy and amazing. The way that that history has been internalized, interpreted, and recreated helps show us how we have changed over time and how much we do or don’t understand the past. I think that our perception of history truly shows the mindset of our times, and how we tell that history will reveal if we have learned anything at all from the mistakes and triumphs that came before us. And today, Media is one of the tools we have at our disposal to reinterpret and create new art out of that history. That is why I love historical fiction, and why I created this podcast. The shows I referenced today weren’t the deepest examples of this concept in action, but there is something there in the ability for us to use online tools, cameras, editing software, production equipment, and every other tool we have in this new age to create entire TV shows that are a reflection of our moment in history. This is how we retell, recreate, and reimagine our story“.

~ and scene ~


I cannot believe the semester has almost come to an end and we are turning in our final project for this class. I have learned so much this semester and I truly enjoyed what we got to do and see throughout this class. Thank you DS106 for a great semester, and a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the digital world. Thanks for teaching us how to better listen to and tell stories digitally so that they can be fluid, dynamic, interesting, and meaningful.


As always, thanks for listening. I truly hope you enjoy. Bye for now.

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