Saturday, January 14, 2012

On Why I'm Taking New Media Theory and Practice

One of the courses I’m taking this semester is English 866 at Old Dominion University.  This class is New Media Theory and Practice I.  I have been interested in taking this class for a few semesters now and am really happy I’m finally enrolled!  The scope of the course covers both new media scholarship as well as programming languages.

My primary interest in this class comes from its emphasis in programming languages.   I first took an interest in programming when I was an undergraduate at Virginia Tech.  I took a Medieval literature class that required a group website project.  My group, for reasons I believe I have blocked out, decided to build this website using…wait for it…Microsoft Word.  It was ugly; it was buggy; it was deeply flawed.  It drove me crazy that I couldn’t control the way the page resulted on the web as well as I could control it’s look in Word.  The next semester, I took another class with the same professor and, given the chance to make a website again, agreed to use Dreamweaver.  The lack of control still bothered me, so I resolved to teach myself to code.  By the time I completed my Master’s degree at Virginia Tech, I had taken four classes with that same professor.  In that last class, I created a website from scratch using HTML/CSS.  It was the first one to make me happy!

In short, I enjoy programming because it allows me to be in control of media with which I am working.  I prefer applications that allow me the most control, particularly of the visual display of materials.  Unfortunately, being out of school for a number of years and being in a teaching position where I’ve been teaching a 5/5 load of composition classes, I have found that my programming skills have been left behind as technology has rapidly advanced.  My CSS skills are rusty and my HMTL/XHTML use has been limited to what is necessary to make Blackboard heed my commands.   More importantly, however, HTML5 is now on the horizon and I want to be prepared to work with it and the flexibility for which it allows.  Perhaps more importantly, I’m terrified, yet intrigued by object-oriented programming languages.  I have yet to teach myself one of those.   

Therefore, during the space of this class, I want to take some time to explore these two languages in particular.  I want to be able to understand the expanded potential that HTML5 brings to the web and begin to explore the differences in it and the XHTML I am comfortable with currently.  Additionally, I am excited to begin exploring Ruby (not just because it’s my birthstone…) and beginning to consider what types of things I might be able to build that would be particularly suitable to that language. 

While I’m not sure which language I will devote my individual project time upon, my hope is that I can use that project as the foundation for my new media project for my Research Competency within the PhD program. 

In addition, I must say: my first love as an English major was Science Fiction, so it is with great joy that I’m embarking on this class journey with a Phillip K. Dick novel as a primary textbook. 

In connection with this first post, our class has been asked to play with the resource ZooBurst.  This was my first time playing with the pop-up book resource, but I found it fairly easy to learn quickly.  I’ve embedded my first Zooburst below.  It will come as no surprise to you that, while I thought the tool was interesting to play with, I was frustrated in creating my pop-up book because the options were so limited!  There are a number of things I wish it would allow you to do, but that it doesn’t!  For example—I’d love to add text, by itself, to the book itself.  However, only images can be added to the pages and text is regulated to the space at the bottom and the dialogue boxes that can be attached to each image added in the space. 


  1. Cool! I didn't know you could make the book spin like that...

    By the way, I'm really into DIY myself - do you have a blog for that, or are you on Pinterest?

    Also, I'm fascinated by street art, and I think it's really neat that you study its rhetoric...

    I'll follow you on twitter... thanks! :)

  2. Hey Laura! Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    I do have a Pinterest Board specifically for DIY, actually! Here's the link:

    I'll have to return your follow on Twitter as well!

  3. I didn't know you could spin the book?! LOL. I appreciate knowing your history of how/why this class. I too am long gone from the days of HTML (w/a little CSS); but I am very much wanting to play w/HTML5 in terms of mobile interfaces. Whew...not enough time.