Proscenia Newsletter

Volume 4 Number 10
October 1, 2005

Up Front

• On The Desktop

Feature Article

Random Links

Site Visit


Events Calendar

Career Guides


Lighter Side


Service Directory

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Eugene Indie




"Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein

Up Front NW
By Gary Ferrington

The days, weeks, and months all seem to merge into a colorful blur of quickly changing seasons from winter to spring and on to summer and finally fall.
    With the coming of shorter days and the hint of autumn in the air, it is time to welcome back our many student subscribers. May the coming academic year be both a productive and rewarding one for you all.

Exploring the earth's surface using the new can sometimes reveal interesting surprises.
    While scanning a segment of Highway 66 near California, I zoomed in to see a close-up view of the desert landscape. I was surprised to discover the image of a jet aircraft flying over the road. There appears to be a shadow of the plane on the ground suggesting the height of the aircraft. Check it out and see if you too can find this airplane.

We live in an age of instant imaging be it by live camera phone sending reports from a bombed London subway or being a passenger watching your own plane's fate on a seatback TV as it prepares for an emergency landing. Such was the case with a recent flight in the United States. Just after take-off from Burbank's Bob Hope airport the pilots realized that the front
landing gear had a serious problem. The flight turned back and flew south to the Long Beach airport about 30 miles south of Los Angeles. A fly by the control tower revealed that flight 292 had a stuck landing gear and that it was turned at a 90 degree angle to the body of the aircraft.
The plane was then diverted to the Los Angeles airport that had better
crash recovery resources if needed.
    As the media began to gather and broadcast live views of the circling plane, onboard passengers were able to view their aircraft in flight by the use of seatback TV sets. There was something surreal about passengers watching their own fate via live TV reports from the ground. Fortunately, the plan landed safely, but few were looking at the screen as they braced for a possible crash.
    In the past coverage of events would have been delayed by hours if not days given the technology of the time. But today, we have instant reporting by citizens with the digital tools for documenting events as they happen. Read more about the flight of Jet Blue 292 online.

This month:

Feature Article: SIGGRAPH is an annual gathering of computer graphic and media professionals from around the world. It is one of the largest conferences on the subject of digital media and it is an event most designers should attend at least once in their lifetime. This month, Proscenia's Ken Loge disucusses the value for designers in attending a SIGGRAPH event.

Random Links: We can learn much from those who work as media professionals. Interviews provide insight into how those working in the field first got their careers started. Interviews also help us understand how professionals work as designers and producers. This month we feature several online compilations of interviews with filmmakers, web designers, photographers, illustrators and others.

Site Visit: Offering to share your work under a Creative Commons license does not mean giving up your copyright protection. Learn how you can let others use your work and yet retain control.

Lighter Side: Unless we are away from family for an extended time, their familiar faces seem to change little with the passage of years. But photographs, those snapshots of time, make visual the aging process as anyone with a family photo album knows. The Lighter Side this month presents the photographic history of the Diego Golberg family of Buenos Aires, Argentina. From young couple in love to the arrival of their first children and their growing family becoming adults, the Golberg family has documented their family's life over the years.

On The Desktop: News from world sources about film, video, multimedia, and technology in society.

NW JOBS: Current postings of career opportunities in: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and occasionally other nearby states.

Commentary:Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit

When I was in grade school we rarely saw a classroom film and when we did it was shown more as a recreational treat than for learning purposes.
   We did have radio instruction and often phonograph recordings were played in class. For example the Standard School Broadcast, funded by the Standard Oil Co. of California, was designed to encourage music appreciation and cultural studies.
   It wasn't until the late-1950's that television programming became a part of daily home life and later in the 1960's school-based learning.
   To be literate at mid-20th century, meant that you were able to read and write and that was it. There was no visual literacy, media literacy, computer literacy of information literacy discussed in the classroom. Just reading and writing.
    Today's youth is immersed in non-print media. Their world at the beginning of the 21st Century is one of screens - movies screens, TV screens, computer screens, phone screens, and game screens. Their world, and ours, is filled with an array of images and sounds.
    In this digital age we all receive information, and are entertained, by imagery and sound in such quantities that multimedia may form the vernacular of our time. If an individual can't read or more importantly communicate meaning with the audio and visual language frameworks now available, he or she may indeed be the new illiterate.
    The digital age is nowhere more evident than in today's classroom where kids growing up in a "techno-drenched atmosphere" are more likely to come to school with "...cell phones, laptops, and iPods than with spiral notebooks and #2 pencils." (1)
    University of Southern California educator Elizabeth Daley, writing in the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of UrbanEd, quotes George Lucas as asking her a provocative question."Don't you think that in the coming decade students need to be taught to read and write cinematic language, the language of the screen, the language of sound and images, just as they are now taught to read and write print?" He asked.(2)
    Perhaps the time has come, as Daley suggests, for everyone to be learning the basic principles of media authorship along with learning to write. More importantly, she notes, is the need not only to make media - but to communicate meaning through the media that is created.
    "A Global Imperative: The Report of the 21st Century Literacy Summit." is a ground-breaking document that includes five identified priorities designed to stimulate, model, and encourage the use of twenty-fist-century skills and methods.
    This report came out of last spring's efforts by the New Media Consortium, working with Adobe Systems and The George Lucas Educational Foundation, to convene a summit of thought leaders to spur the expansion of literacy across K-12 and higher education.
   This summit group and others have begun to define a set of 21st Century Literacy skills that overlap and reinforce each other. These include the ability to understand the power of images and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms. Specifically the group identifies these as aural, visual, and digital literacy skills - a concept well articulated in Kathleen Tyner's insightful book, "Literacy in a Digital World: Teaching and Learning in the Age of Information". What follows is a summary of the summit's efforts to extend the concept of literacy.
   "All of us understand, almost on a visceral level, the power and immediacy of imagery and of sound. Art, music, film, photography, drawing — all have the potential to transcend traditional language and evoke an emotional response. These media, and images and sounds in general are powerful communication tools. The ability to understand this power as it relates to imagery, to recognize it, to manipulate it and to put it to use involves a set of skills referred to as visual literacy.
   Visually literate individuals have an imaginative ability to see the messages communicated with images, and to understand them, as well as to create, modify, and use visual cues and images. Visual literacy implies an understanding and sense of design. It is also a concept that is not yet fully formed, and related areas like visual/graphic representation, visual communication, semiotics, and iconography overlap with it in compelling and interesting ways. Aural literacy involves a similar set of skills related to sounds and music.
   Digital tools, ever more capable, are playing an increasingly important role in advancing both aural and visual literacy, but these literacies are not limited to their digital expressions. Digital literacy compliments aural and visual literacy, and adds a set of skills that draw not only on creativity, but also design. Digitally literate individuals have the ability to manipulate and transform the images they see and the sounds they hear, to distribute them in new and compelling ways, and to easily adapt them to new forms.
   These literacies, while increasingly seen as critically important, are not replacements for, but rather extensions of the more traditional verbal literacies -- reading, writing, listening, and speaking."(3)
   Tomorrow's media designers will come from a generation who have grown up knowing how to operate video cameras, edit photos on a computer, create web pages, and compose music using digital programs. The analogue world of their parents will have long ceased. Yet one thing will remain consistent and that is the need to tell cohesive stores, express ideas clearly, and inform others.


(1) McHugh, Josh, Synching Up With The iKid, Edutopia, October, 2005.
(2) Daley, Elizabeth, "Why Multimedia?" USC UrbanEd, Spring/Summer 2005, USC Rossier       School of Education, Los Angeles, CA. pages 15-17.
(3) New Media Consortium Report can be downloaded from the NMC site.

Proscenia Newsletter. This publication is dedicated to news about events, activities, careers, jobs, and technical information of interest to the multimedia community. This is a free monthly web-based publication made available without commercial advertising.

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