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lindseyhuston

I'm a strategic thinker with an eye for design. A recent graduate of Wofford College, my liberal arts background in Philosophy and English provided me with extensive writing and analytical skills. I’m adding to my skill set at Elon University learning as an MA in Interactive Media student. Teachable, driven, with an affinity towards networking, I hope to utilize my skills in a career in advertising and interactive design.
lindseyhuston has written 47 posts for lindseyhuston

Transmedia and the Future of Fiction Storytelling–Interactive Version

My interactive version of my research can be found here.

Logical Distrubutions

A response to Michael Beirut’s 79  Short Essays on Design

 

I love fiction storytelling when its text truly resonates with its reader. What’s behind this has always interested me: what makes stories relatable, how do humans empathize with fiction characters, what makes a good story. Lately, I have become interested in how the framework of stories effects its effectiveness to tell the intended story.

I just turned in a research paper on transmeida storytelling. Its simple definition is storytelling which involves multiple platforms to tell one story. Hypertext, on the other hand, was a precursor to transmedia storytelling involving references to other texts which are accessible. This is usually executed using hyperlinks. I find am fascinated by how the redistribution of stories can enhance the way stories are told.

Michael Bieuret discusses Vladamir Nabokov’s 1962 Pale Fire, and it’s relevance to design. To me, this vocalizes how I look at design as a manifestation of storytelling. In order to effectively tell his story, Nabokov titles the separate sections of his book being by different fictional authors, even though they are all written by himself. The sections all refer to lines in other sections, creating a cohesive world for the reader. Working with this framework would not be ideal for every story, but it was groundbreaking in creating new framework which others, such as ARGs and transmedia storytelling, derived from.

Design is storytelling, because the designer always has to logically plan how they will best tell their story. Its those willing to think outside of the box, like Nabokov, that make way for future innovation.

A Layout to Make Content King

A response to Edward Tufte’s iPhone Interface Design

 

The other day, my boyfriend told me he couldn’t remember a time before my iPhone was my constant companion. Initially I didn’t want to acknowledge the dependency I’ve developed on my handheld device, but his statement made me think how much has changed in the past couple of months.

Before last summer, I didn’t have internet access on my cell phone nor was I active on Twitter. I didn’t have any phone apps, and the pictures my friends sent in text messages usually were unable to be received on my good ol’, pink Pantech Impact. My friends spent idle time on their new iPhones, and I didn’t understand why the birds on their phone screens were so very angry.

I also noticed many of my friends spending time on mobile Twitter, as opposed to Facebooking, to procrastinate. The dialogue was altered from “I posted it on your wall” to “Did you see my tweet?” At this time, my perception of Twitter was not a positive one. I told my friends that they were giving in to the very worst of Facebook’s feature, manifested into one, narcissistic network. Why did I want to join a social network comprised entirely of the equivalent of Facebook updates?

But I upgraded to an iPhone in June, and my perceptions all changed. While I still tune in to my favorite news programs, I no longer browse the internet for news. Every top headline this Fall, ranging from political to entertainment, I’ve learned about from Twitter. I found out that most don’t use Twitter as merely updating the world on their mundane activities, although some of my friends still do include a rundown of their day’s activities, but people use Twitter to share real news and to network. 95% of my Twitter use is on my iPhone, and it capitalizes on its ability to allow users to “retweet” news as soon as it happens.

Not a fan of digital reading in the past, I didn’t think I’d use my iPhone to read as much as I do. The screen is not particularly large, but the design of many iPhone apps and of the iPhone itself is brilliant. Edward Tufte offers both praise and criticism of the iPhone interface desgn. However, he hones in on the most critical aspect of its success: “the content is the interface, the information is the interface.” Apple has done a good job thus far at effectively laying out design for the iPhone to show as much content in its screen as possible without clutter. The admin features disappear when users are interacting on sites, and sliding allows users to easily understand navigation.

Apple designed the iPhone and created dependent users, like me, with its clean, effective display of information. Social media sites have capitalized on this, and Twitter has become a main forum for political, entertainment, and job networking discourse.

Portfolio Pursuit

In tackling my portfolio site, there are a lot of elements to consider. What design aesthetic do I want to portray? Should I write my own code, or do I use a CMS? What projects should I include in my portfolio?

In getting inspiration for my site, I’ve been browsing portfolios on the internet. Some site are clean, and some sites are busy. Other sites are professional, while other sites embody pure professionalism.

I have made a list of things to regard when creating my own portfolio site. One, I want my career focus to be clear. I want my goals and interests to be clear in both my text and site design. Also, I want the projects I include in my portfolio to reflect the kind of work I want to continue to do. Second, I want my site to have a clean design. The first step of my site sketching will be picking a color scheme, and then I will draw out every page I plan to include in my site. This will begin with an outline planning the logical structure/flow of my site.

Most importantly, however, portfolio sites are a reflection of one’s self. It’s important to be inspired, and include personal interests. Whether this is reflected with text including personal interests or innovative style, I see it as a positive to reflect personal style and humanity in a portfolio site.

Illustrate your imagination

Always plan a good color scheme.

Augmented Reality: Blending Worlds

Over the weekend, I thought a lot about the blending of worlds. My research paper is on transmedia fiction, and I decided the more worlds are blended for the reader, the more effective the storytelling experience is. Authors of transmedia have a lot of space to work with. They create a fictitious space with characters, but they can also distribute content throughout the real world. The goal of authors is for readers to connect with their content. When content becomes a part of the readers real world, they are likely connect more with the entire story.

I believe this same theory can be applied to augmented reality. As a child, I fell in love with Star Wars. I remember pretending, with my school friends, that we were Star Wars characters. We would “fly” around the playground, and make up of own adventures within the fictitious Star Wars framework. There is something that captivates the child imagination when children blend the real world with fictitious worlds.

This is what interests me about transmedia, but also why I’ve rejected video games. I’ve always held the opinion that video games are too removed from the real world. Being removed from the real world is okay when watching movies. To me, movies are means of escaping. However, when I interact with a game it to be a part of my world. I loved sports, board games, and imaginative playground games as a child.

I believe my negative opinions regarding video games has painting my perception of augmented reality games. Unaware of what they really are, I wrote them off as yet another waste of time. However, if Star Wars augmented reality games existed when I was a child, I would have been a devoted player.

How could you not be a fan of a franchise with characters this cute?

The Star Wars augmented reality game, Falcon Runner, is sold in the iTunes app store for $4.99. The screen of your iPhone shows the 3-D immersive Star Wars world, compatible with the real world around you. What I like about this experience, is the player is able to feel as if the world they are in actually becomes the fictitious world.

Similar to some transmedia experiences, augmented reality allows users to  blend their world with a fictitious world. Going back to the make believe Star Wars games I played as a child, I remember loving to pretend my real backyard in the suburbs of Ohio was a part of a planet world in Star Wars. Now, we can use our iPhones to see this imaginative world.

Create Story

Pete Docter’s segment entitled “Storytime” intrigues me, because it is told as a story. As a viewer, I entered this video in a point of tension. The first shot features Pete Docter standing on the edge of a tall building’s roof. The camera is shooting from a low-angle, and it is a wide shot. This gives the illusion of that Docter may actually fall to the point of the camera, producing tension for the viewer as well as drawing in initial attention.

I love the definition Docter offers that applies to both design and story. He states, “Design is the purposeful arrangement of elements to produce an intended reaction in the viewer. Well, that just tends to describe story very well.” Docter thought out this segment well, and his physical and verbal explanations coalesce. If someone were to tell a story with tension, a situation with a character in a dangerous situation, such as Docter in this segment, works. However, design can also tell this story by placing Docter in a particular place on the roof, using particular lighting, etc. A photograph of this opening frame would evoke tension.

Docter’s “Up” Animation, 2009

Although I could never dream to animate something close to the quality Docter produces, I appreciate his perspective. I also believe all creative production is a story, and this is something that should be remembered. Animation is nothing without appealing to human emotion. And human beings are drawn to stories.

Create Story

Pete Docter’s segment entitled “Storytime” intrigues me, because it is told as a story. As a viewer, I entered this video in a point of tension. The first shot features Pete Docter standing on the edge of a tall building’s roof. The camera is shooting from a low-angle, and it is a wide shot. This gives the illusion of that Docter may actually fall to the point of the camera, producing tension for the viewer as well as drawing in initial attention.

I love the definition Docter offers that applies to both design and story. He states, “Design is the purposeful arrangement of elements to produce an intended reaction in the viewer. Well, that just tends to describe story very well.” Docter thought out this segment well, and his physical and verbal explanations coalesce. If someone were to tell a story with tension, a situation with a character in a dangerous situation, such as Docter in this segment, works. However, design can also tell this story by placing Docter in a particular place on the roof, using particular lighting, etc. A photograph of this opening frame would evoke tension.

 

Strategy, Design: Creative Process

Listening to employees of Troika Design Group describe their creative process reiterated the message my classmates and I have been learning all semester: The execution of design is about taking the time for strategy and breaking down the process. The employers of Troika are described as designers or animators, the designers taking on the intellectual process I just described and the animators being the masters of technological tools. Its insightful to hear from employers of a company that are “paid for process”. With clients as well known as Starz, its comforting to hear employers of Troika still find their creative tasks as intimidating.

In order to accomplish such large tasks, such as branding for Starz, it’s helpful to hear these employers focused on “breaking down a creative challenge into manageable pieces.” Although blank pages, or the start of a project, may appear daunting, small tasks are always easier to accomplish.  I also found it interesting to hear how much a company like Troika cares about the culture of their company. The employees spoke of “cross-training”, where employees would cultivate their creativity by learning new programs and skill sets that may be outside of their particular field.

Finally, I was struck by the strategy Troika emphasized in its branding. In regards to Starz, Troika set out to produce an emotional attachment between people and Starz as a brand, similar to how people have emotional attachments to particular movies. It’s important to hold on to the strategy behind creation and remember technology is merely a “pen or pencil”.

New Tools for Production

I have mixed feelings about leaving Flash behind this week. At the beginning of the semester, Flash was the tool I dreaded using the most. Some people took to it quickly by excitedly delving into basic animation. However, after eleven weeks with Flash I realized I began to love Flash for a different reason: it made me slow down and appreciate design. I thoroughly enjoyed my second Flash project, because I took my time while planning a color scheme, illustrations, textures, etc.

This week, we left Flash behind and jumped into jQuery and JavaScript. This is something I’ve looked forward to learning since the beginning of the semester, and I realized the skills I learned while tackling Flash will translate to my learning process now. In order to create any good website, time must be put into strategy and design.

I wish I could combine my coding and design skills to create a portfolio like this.

Picking up some jQuery skills this week, I’m excited to start planning for my portfolio site. I spent a day scanning various sites, paintings, photographs, for visual inspiration. Going into designing my portfolio site, I want to have a clear plan. I’m now able to view the skills I learn as skills, while still getting help from my professors, and it’s important to remember the importance of planning.

Take Advice to Heart and Look to the Future

By Lindsey Huston, iMedia class of 2012

My classmates and I are in week eleven of fall semester and, although my mind is cluttered with all I have left to do in the semester, I find myself even more excited about all that’s ahead in the iMedia program. Outside of my course work this semester, I’ve had a gamut of other things to plan and contemplate. Dr. Copeland spoke recently about next semester courses. I’m looking forward to my fly-in to Reykjavik, Iceland, where seven classmates and I will work with The Citizens Foundation during the month of January. Also, several area professionals have take the time to give me career advice, reminding me of my passions and goals I’m working towards.

Although it’s important for my classmates and I to submerge ourselves in our course work for the year that we’re iMedia students, it’s also important to remember the relevance our new skills will have in our future careers. This is why I’m thankful for the insight I’ve received from area professionals during this semester, because seeing their passion has driven me to find my own niche in the field of interactive media.

Bettina Johnson

As Maggie mentioned in her blog two weeks ago, Bettina Johnson graduated from the iMedia program in May of 2011. She happily found a place at Pace Communications in Greensboro the summer after graduation, working as an interactive content editor and online community manager. I was lucky enough to discuss her time as an iMedia student and her career during an informational meeting we had back in September. Bettina initially interested me, because her undergraduate degree, from Elon, was in journalism. As someone interested in writing, I was curious as to how Bettina transitioned her skills from traditional journalism to working in the field of Interactive Media.

After working for print news, at the Gaston Gazette in Charlotte, and in web development, at Newfangled Web Factory in Carrboro, Bettina decided to add to her digital skills by returning to Elon to get her MA in Interactive Media. I was struck by Bettina’s openness and enthusiasm for her career. She shared, “It’s great to have a job you enjoy and put all your energy into!” Bettina took advantage of her time as an iMedia student, and it’s inspiring to see someone with similar interests as me doing what they love.

 

Ryan Helmstetler

I met with Ryan Helmstetler in October. When Ryan was an undergrad, he had plans of becoming an accountant. He realized his passions fell elsewhere, however, and he is now an account executive for Texas Pete at The Sales Factory in Greensboro. Ryan loves his job as an account executive, because it enables him to “touch every piece” of the Sale Factory’s relationship with Texas Pete and he is able to travel. Curious about advertisement agency life, I was thankful to hear a perspective from work at a smaller agency.

The atmosphere at the Sales Factory was both lively and intimate, and it was beneficial to hear the pros and cons of working for small and large agencies. Ryan also discussed social media strategy, and specifically how beneficial Facebook is to Texas Pete. In 2009 the Sales Factory launched a Facebook campaign with 10,000 samples distributed through Facebook engagement ads and the Texas Pete Facebook page. The Sales Factory projected the samples to be distributed over four weeks, but the campaign gained so much popularity the samples were gone in six days. Ryan emphasized, “You can’t generate sales without research.” It is clear to me that the Texas Pete Facebook campaign was well researched, and that Ryan is passionate about his job. Interested in advertising, I am thankful to have received insight into the world of an advertising agency.

  

Jessica Byerly

Two weeks at ago, Jessica Byerly discussed with me all she does at G-Force Marketing Solutions in Greensboro. Jessica is a digital marketing strategist who considers herself somewhat of an anomaly. Although she is the often viewed as an IT resource at G-Force, she happily lives on a farm with her husband and child and is passionate about both farm animals and Twitter. I was pleasantly surprised to get the chance to hear from someone living out multiple passions, both in lifestyle and career, and I got to see first hand the time she puts into account analytics.

Similar to my interest in Bettina’s journalism past, I was curious when listening to Jessica’s story because she transitioned from a career in traditional, print journalism into a career in digital technology and analytics. Jessica loves her job, and is persistent in keeping up with her field that is “constantly changing”. She describes her main responsibility at G-Force as dealing with numbers, and she showed me the pages and pages of reports she produces to confirm the best return of investment for clients, in regards to how G-Force is marketing their brand. Jessica told me, “There has not been one morning I have woken up and not been excited to come into work at G-Force.” This is the kind of passion I’m looking for in a career, and it has been refreshing to hear from so many individuals passionate about their careers in interactive media.

As we are now in November, my classmates and I look ahead to final semester projects, papers, etc. However, it’s important to look even further ahead. Although we should live consciously in the moment, in order to soak in as much as we can from iMedia, I also can’t help but to have hope for a future career, using my skills from iMedia, that is as fulfilling as the careers of the professionals I’ve received insight from during this past semester.