After mulling over this assignment, I decided to search on YouTube.com for “digital essay”s. After clicking through and watching several videos, I found this one, which I really enjoyed. It made a good use of the allowances of the internet, using both words and pictures to tell a brief (and perhaps overly simplified) summary of The Kite Runner. What I liked most though was the focus on certain words that this format allowed for. Powerful words such as ‘betrayal,’ ‘treachery,’ and ‘war’ appeared on the screen in complete isolation, strengthening both their meaning and resonance in the mind of the viewer. I thought it was incredible how much weight each of these words carried, especially when iconic (or just perfectly representative) pictures were shown on the next clip. Between the pictures and the music, I really felt like this is the epitome of the case where “less is more.” I really liked this technique, and I’m contemplating attempting something like this in my own digital essay.
I also found another clip, but while I think it’s a cool idea and worth watching, I wasn’t sure it fell into the “essay” category, as it’s more of just a poem being shown (“We Real Cool”) in concurrence with clips from a movie (A Clockwork Orange).
The Monday Life: While looking for digital essays, I was disappointed when I couldn’t find anything like the one we were shown in class. I did find a very touching Prezi for The Monday Life, and organization that’s been set up in order for people to donate to the Duke Children’s hospital. Aside from the intro, which is great, the hompage also uses the affordances of the web in a great way.
Fantastic Fridays: This summer, the other digital strategy interns and I had this blog, and it was a ton of fun. Check out the Fantastic Friday post at the bottom of the page. I felt as though our blog posts, especially the fantastic friday ones really leveraged the affordances of the web. We embedded videos, photos and hyperlinks all over the place to pack everything we could into our interntastic blog.
When searching for examples of digital essays, a Heart of Darkness Prezi repeatedly returned under my search results. I liked the interactive process of clicking in this example, but I decided to narrow my search and see what other Prezi examples I could find.
This brought me to a youtube video from 2009 that demonstrates how to use Prezi when trying to convince the government to give out free ice cream, what else? I like that this youtube video includes music which is something the Heart of Darkness essay lacks. I think the presence of music or a voice over adds a nice touch to a digital essay and makes the reader (or viewer) feel more involved.
I think this was a unique video because it is a digital essay about a digital essay. The tutorial demonstrates the extent in which you can use Prezi to create a story. I hope the program is as simple as they make it look because it is something I definitely want to consider using for my own digital essay!
You know when videos have that extra kick by actually applying the themes they discuss in the depth of their discourse? Yeah, good essay. You know the essays that try and talk about the dryness of the American modern education system and the ineffectiveness of lecturing….in a lecture? Yeah, not ironic. Not good.
This video espouses my every belief about the way we teach children and young adults today and why it is a failing system. I was shown this video in high school by a teacher and friend of mine. It is wonderfully creative and refreshingly unique. It discusses the need for interaction in a teaching process and does so in an interactive, multi-layered, multimedia endeavor that is both informative and witty. The voice of a kindly man and the simplistic yet seemingly professionally done animations come together to express a critical view of the archaic classroom, textbook school system. It calls for reform and does so by literally laying out an interconnected map of all the key players, important factors and and a chronological timeline with projected possible outcomes. It brings it all together in a cohesive, easy to comprehend graphic map that would give any Prezi presentation a run for its money. It even applies certain techniques we discussed in Microstyle by coining new terms, alluding to pop culture, and creating a friendly tone as opposed to one that is overly academic. This gem of a video can be found here and I entreat you all to please give it a watch. Maybe two. Maybe three?
The digital story i selected as interesting was is the “Plan of Chcago,” which studies the circumstances and events surround the planning and building of Chicago, since apparently it stands as a textbook exanple of how to do it right. What i like about the site is its navigation. It’s very blog-like, and i think i appreciate that. On every page but the main page, the text is riddled with links to other information located on the site as well as around the internet. There are also images that can me selected and blown up, examined. If there’s anything this site lacks, it’s sound, though, either in the form of video interviews or music; I understand, however, that this is a research project/essay, and that music wouldn’t exactly fit that bill.
A few years ago NPR started compiling recordings of the personal beliefs and philosophies of their listeners. Taking its name from Edward R. Murrow’s famous short essays about the politics of the 1950, the This I Believe campaign provided a platform for NPR listeners to share their ideas and experiences. Initially, the program started as only audio recordings; however, the phenomenon has moved to youtube in the form of digital essays. Some seem to rely on photos to focus on their life’s motivation, while others used live action recordings to highlight the life and tragedy of an important person; regardless, both essays incorporate more than one medium of communication. I find myself intrigued by how easy and inviting this form of a digital essay can be. While I hope to do something more elaborate for my essay, I hope to use a slideshow and audio recording within my essay.
So I’ve been looking for examples of digital essays, or articles, or something that does what we call using the affordances of the web, but I haven’t found much. It’s surprising how little combination there is of media to create a more comprehensive experience of information.
One good example is the iBook program. Apple has recently released iBook Author as well, which is like app development for their iBook app. The download is currently free because they need people to create a database. These programs don’t make use of the web so much as digital technologies in general. You can watch a video of the program in action here, and I can show you a nifty one about The Beatle’s Yellow Submarine in class if you’d like.
More in accord with the assignment, I found something called Scalar which is a platform for presenting scholarly papers with multimedia tied in. I found these pretty interesting set of essays that were created using this platform. They incorporate photos and mostly videos the enhance the scholarly article experience.
I found myself exploring the VuVox website we were talking about in class last week. It was an interesting platform I had never seen before, and I think it does a really nice job of combining pictures, videos, and texts. While it’s a little frustrating to navigate these essays at time (sometimes the scrolling feature isn’t quite as cooperative as I’d like it to be), but when I saw this I had to share it. I think it tells a compelling story through through words, pictures, and videos. I particularly found the part with the “military lingo” to be really interesting and displayed in a nonlinear way – it allowed me to learn about terms I didn’t know, but I could just scroll through once I got bored.
I don’t follow any particular blogs or read online news sites consistently, but when we talked about the digital essays I immediately recalled a website with a video I watched that was essentially an essay.
The website was called The Crisis of Credit, and it explained the most recent financial crisis using easy-to-understand graphics and very simplistic examples. I thought it was amazing how this video dissected an number of complicated terms and concepts into a form that normal people could read and understand. The content emulated that of numerous articles or books written since the Financial Crisis, but the addition of animation and other digital tools really helped maintain interest and increase the amount of information absorbed.
I think this type of digital essay is successful because it conveys the desired information (in this case, very technical information) in a manner that is neither long nor short, while simultaneously providing visual comparisons with which readers can immediately use to supplement what has been said.
A digital essay that struck me as interesting was the NYTimes.com article “Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey enforcer.”
The essay is a good example of a digital essay because it uses all mediums of the web to bring the story alive in a way a 2-D page could not. Embedded among the text of the article are images, videos, hyperlinks, and photographs.
The essay is formally and neatly presented (which is tougher to do with a creative digital essay than with a non-digital one), but it still retains the sense of creativity that makes digital essays appealing. One can approach the essay from any angle: maybe the video first, the photos second and then the text, or perhaps the text first then the video then the photos. In any case, it doesn’t matter in which order one approaches the material, the core of the essay is always prevalent in each piece of the essay.
Lastly, the essay is particularly successful because there is not an overload of information or interactive material in it, which makes the essay as a whole manageable to absorb.