Where has the time gone?

Eons ago (also known as the beginning of August) when I first met the rest of my iMediates at the student orientation, Professor Copeland had some words that continue to stick prominently in my head: This will be the fastest and slowest ten months of your life.

I remember tilting my head to the side and thinking to myself, “well that doesn’t make much sense. Doubt both of those are true.”

Fast forward to today. If you look at a calendar, you’ll notice that it is just over a month until graduation and I am left to wonder where on Earth all the time went. Copeland was a prophet in a way: these past nine months have indeed been the fastest and slowest that I can ever remember.

The opportunities iMedia has given me are incredible and numerous.

Let’s start with the speakers, where we have been able to listen to everyone from Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project, to activist and former NFL punter Chris Kluwe (a discussion I was lucky enough to lead).

Chris Kluwe speaking with iMedia

Chris Kluwe speaking with iMedia

The class projects we have worked on have been great. I have been able to create a motion typography for one of my favorite movie speeches: for the American president at the end of Independence Day. I have created websites, both for computers and for mobile devices, for one of my favorite local bars/restaurants. I am currently working with Walkers Shortbread on their social media and SEO and trying to figure out the best ways they can improve those – which is something I’ve grown to love and hope to do on a full-time basis for a career some day soon.

I owe the program for one of the best and life-changing weeks of my life. As a part of iMedia’s Fly-In projects, I was able to spend seven days in Costa Rica, five of which were spent living with the Terraba tribe and learning the ways of their people (as well as being reminded just how fortunate people like me are).

Just enjoying waterfalls in Costa Rica. No big deal.

Just enjoying waterfalls in Costa Rica. No big deal.

Heck, I even owe iMedia for 90 percent of the items on my portfolio (shameless plug of it goes here), from the aforementioned Independence Day motion typography to a white paper on how colleges and universities should be teaching their student-athletes about social media and how to use it. I have also made several new connections in various industries, from public relations to digital content and everything in between.

Do I regret anything about the program? Absolutely not. I have grown both as a student, a new age storyteller and (as cliché as it may sound) as a person.

It really is amazing to think about how much all of us in the iMedia program have changed over the past nine months. Who knows what the next nine have to offer.

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An Sneak Peak at the Spring Schedule

By Russell Varner, iMedia ’14

It is scary to think that we are already one-third of the way through the spring semester. Seriously, where did the time go?

Well, our time nowadays is taken up mostly by work either for class, our capstone projects or our personal portfolios. As you can imagine, it’s quite the busy time for everyone. Welcome to grad school, right?

Since I am not far enough in my capstone yet to share it, I thought I would give you a better idea of exactly what we are doing in our classes this semester. After taking more broad courses in the fall, Interactive Media is offering us more specialized courses in the spring. And as busy as we are, I am genuinely interested in and loving everything we are doing in these classes.

Media Management: Students are starting to learn about Google Analytics. At the end of the month, they will be taking a test to become Google Analytics-certified, which would look great on any resume.

Datamining and Visualization: Students are learning how to use Google Fusion to display data and are also beginning to brainstorm about our final projects. For these projects, students will have to display information in a variety ways including video, infographics and interactive websites. 

App Development: Students are currently learning about geolocation and how it applies to applications. Next up, they will learn about capturing videos and photos like on Instagram.

Public Opinion in New Media: Students here are going over media theories and new technologies and how they apply today – for example, how Facebook helped create a revolution in Tunisia. Students will also be writing a white paper on a topic of their choosing for this class.

SEO, Analytics and Social Media: Students are doing everything from learning the basics of search engine optimization and working with local companies to improve their SEO to keeping up with popular blogs on the subjects and writing blogs of our own. For a list of the blogs and links, click here.

Multimedia Story Telling: Students are taking a look at some of the more groundbreaking multimedia story pieces (such as The New York Times’ ‘Snow Fall’), learning how to use websites such as Zeega and Scroll Kit and planning their own multimedia story project for the class.

A look into the iMedia classes

Seeing as how last Thursday was the day that students will sign up for their spring classes, what better time to give people a look into the classes we take than now? Often, people ask what exactly iMedia is and what classes you take in the program, so why not answer at least one of those questions. You want a look into the Interactive Media program? Well here is your chance. Let’s take a look at just three of the courses being offered to iMedia students this spring.

Public Opinion Through New Media

Public Opinion through New Media is a course that centers on the relationship between public opinion and communication with an emphasis on persuasion. The course focuses on digital communication and how its myriad elements, from virtual environments to social media, influence publics and vice versa.  Although the course is grounded in theory, it is equally rooted in practice. By the end of the semester, students will be able to identify and explicate terms related to public opinion and have familiarity with key theories and concepts that guide public opinion research.  Students will also understand the role of the media in both forming public opinion and reflecting it.  Finally, students will have a good grasp of the relationship between emerging technologies and public opinion, and an understanding of how new technologies can galvanize publics to organize and coalesce around key issues or topics.

Among topical areas the course will cover are virtual worlds, branding, flash mobs, smart mobs and astroturfing; the power of blogs and microblogs; and the science of polling and how to read polls for hidden meaning. We will also study propaganda and how its symbols of influence are still relevant today.

Application Development

Application Development introduces students to the basic concepts of Xcode, Eclipse, and other app development software.  Students are granted an Apple educational developer license, which allows us to set up phones and tablets for testing (same with android, but you don’t need a license for that).  We’ll build fully-functional Web apps, and create a drawing app in class.  We’ll also explore using Google Maps with custom markers, maps, and geolcoation / geofencing.  Our final project will be a hybrid app, using Phonegap or an alternate framework.  Hybrid apps allow you to access the device’s API (the still/video camera, contacts, accelerometer, notifications, audio playback) and do something with it.  Please note that this is not native app development (i.e. we’re not learning Objective-C), so we won’t be making words with friends.  In other words, this class won’t necessarily help you if you have a killer app idea, it’s intended more for making your first app.

Social Media Analytics

SEO, Social Media and Analytics is a new course designed to give iMedia
students facility with using the measurement tools available on the web to
make strategic decisions about content. We’ll have a combination of theory
and application as we learn the principles of optimizing a site for SEO,
some best practices for planning content to serve both users and search
engine bots and, most importantly, how to keep up in this frantically
rapidly changing field. We’ll be bringing in several guest speakers from
the front lines of content creating and marketing, working with real
clients who need help making their sites the ones that rank and getting
our hands dirty creating content, measuring its receipt and recommending
strategies based on what we learn.

Want more? Then click here for even more class descriptions so you can get a better idea of what to expect from the Interactive Media program.

NFL punter speaks with iMedia

Chris Kluwe could very well be today’s perfect “Renaissance man.”

He is arguably best known for his time in the National Football League, where he was a punter for the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings (he holds most of the team’s punting records) and Oakland Raiders. Image

He is the bassist for the band ‘Tripping Icarus.‘ He is an avid video game player – his Twitter avatar is a close-up of a miniature World of Warcraft figurine. Speaking of Twitter, he is an avid user of the social media site; as of this writing, he has 177,619 followers. He is even an accomplished author, thanks to his latest book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies.

But, he thrust himself into the national spotlight when he wrote Maryland politician Emmett Burns defending gay marriage (Warning: there is some choice language in the letter). His letter spread through the Internet like wildfire and earned him spots on numerous talk shows, including Ellen and the Colbert Report.

Mr. Kluwe was nice enough to Skype with the Interactive Media class of 2014 last week, giving them advice on how to handle themselves on social media, dealing with the compliments/backlash of something like his letter to Mr. Burns, gaming, activism and, yes, football.

Among the words of wisdom he gave:

  • Everything that is posted on the Internet stays there forever. Remember that.
  • When using Twitter, read over it at least three times. Once you say something, you cannot take it back.
  • Always stay focused.

In addition, he answered a few questions for the Eye on iMedia blog.

1. How exactly did you get started in social media and what forms of it do you use today?

I first got started with Facebook, mainly to play some online games, but stopped being active when it got too annoying with the constant changes to privacy settings and whatnot. Then I began using Twitter at the urging of some friends, who thought I would be perfect for it. Apparently they were right, I guess. Today I mainly use Twitter.

2. What are your favorite and least favorite parts about social media/the new online community?

Favorite parts are the interactions with people that I would have never otherwise gotten the chance to meet or talk to. Least favorite part is the casual ignorance afforded by anonymity – people take advantage of it far too much to say spiteful things.

3. How has social media changed you, if it has at all?

The main way in which social media has changed me is that when I see something funny/interesting, I now think of sharing it with a bunch of other people.

4. What do you think the future of social media/online interactivity/etc. will look like?

Augmented reality glasses (Google Glass is a transition phase) will allow people to share literal real time experiences with each other. This could potentially be very entertaining.

5. What advice would you give people about their social media use?

Make sure that whatever you put out there is something you’re ok with people seeing for the rest of your life. Nothing on the Internet goes away.

6. Anything else you would like to add?

Social media can be used to impart valuable information about a wide range of topics, or it can be used to post cat pics and bowel movements. How you choose to use it is up to you, but we all affect society with our choices.