My thoughts on making podcasts

Hello ADL 310 (and any other readers)!

Today I will be discussing my thoughts on making podcasts. All and all, while I can see how they could be useful for some people, I was not a huge fan of them myself. I love to listen to them, but making them was not something I really enjoyed. I think I am more of a written word person, not a spoken word person. I am a fan, however, of one of the first “podacasts”: H.G. Well’s radio play The War of the Worlds. I feel that while the book was also good, it was the radio play that really brought it to life. This is in part because the majority of listers did not realize it was a play, and honestly thought that the earth was being invaded by aliens! That, and the radio style broadcasting, make the radio play a lot more interesting than the book in my opinion.

I think that a podcast is an excellent way to reach out to large audiences, and if probably a bit more accessible to some people than reading a wall of text. I may try creating more podcasts in the future, but I think for now I will stick with Twitter and perhaps a blog.

I made a video!

Hello ADL 310 (and any other readers)!

As per this week’s assignment I made a video. I wasn’t able to use the Camtasia Mac software (you need Yosemite, and my computer is too old apparently). So after a lot of mucking about I managed to make a video using VideoScribe. Unfortunately VideoScribe won’t let you actually export your video if you are on the trial, so I just shelled out $30 for a one month subscription I shall probably never use again. However, I hope you all like my video! I’m sorry the file is so big 😦 also I am not actually sure how long it actually is (VideoScribe doesn’t deem such petty information important). It is at least 5 minutes though.

Any ways, here it is, enjoy!: http://fillocatherine.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-20T21_07_30-08_00

Evaluating videos

Hello ADL 310 (and any other readers!)

Today we will be looking at three videos (as per this week’s assignment). I have chosen three videos that all revolve about writing in the general sense (I tried to pick videos that were not specific to fiction or non fiction).

The first video Seven Tips to Improve Your Writing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHEAmAyMdG0) offer some good advice. However, aside from the title screen the entire film is recoded in “talking head” style. I feel that this format is dull, and it would have been better if the woman making the video had at least interspersed shots of her head with notes (like power point slides). Also, her editing is not very smooth (you can tell where she cut a clip short and just sort of stuck the next clip in after). However, she is very good at setting up what she will be discussing in the video and offers some valuable advice.

The second video Top Ten Writing Rules from Famous Writers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLIGZEBmBUkhas a much more professional looking title screen (it moves! there is music!), while the woman in the video is still a “talking head” she looks more polished, and starts by introducing herself. Her mannerisms are a little too “I’m an actor” (lots of swaying her shoulders towards the camera, lots of eyebrow movement and her voice seems to undulate unnaturally) for my taste (I find it distracting) but once again she offers some solid advice. She also includes SLIDES (hooray!!) which makes it easier to take notes if you wanted to.

The third video How to Start Writing with Loose Video Game Analogy  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewUy64JfpDg ) features Felicia Day (who I am a huge fan of – hooray for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and The Guild!)Ms. Day is excellent on camera, and her movements and voice feel more natural than the ladies in the first two videos. She also injects some humour into her video. She still does the talking head thing, but she is very animated (after the first 30 seconds or so) which really helps detract from that. She also doesn’t just STARE at the camera (another hooray!) and offers some solid advice in an accessible manner. A lot of people play video games, or at least understand the gist of how they work, so her analogies really help make writing accessible. She also gets props for choosing an interesting background and choosing clothes that offer a lot of contrast, really making her video pop visually.

Second Podcast Episode!

Hello ADL 310, and any other readers!

I just made the second episode of my podcast! This episode involves me reading a short story I wrote called Zero and One, which I mentioned in my first episode. I recorded it in several parts to keep the files relatively small. They are broken up at logical breaks in the story, so not all sections are equal length. Here they are:

Part 1: http://fillocatherine.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-19T18_15_45-08_00

Part 2: http://fillocatherine.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-19T18_40_37-08_00

Part 3: http://fillocatherine.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-19T18_45_41-08_00

Part 4: http://fillocatherine.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-19T19_17_54-08_00

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Transcript

Zero and One

Part 1

A light, harsh and glaring, directly above. Slowly, shapes and colours began to emerge as the world took form. Coming into focus, a green light, large and friendly looking winked on above.

“Good morning One” Said a voice that emanated from everywhere “I trust your sleep was restful? You have a lot of things to do today.”

One stretched. His limbs felt stiff and new, awkward even. He sat up, and took a few tentative steps, and then the world around him began to spin.

“Not a good sign” said the voice “Weakness in the body is a reflection of weakness in the soul. I fear that your day may not be as long as I had hoped.”

There was silence while One took his time righting himself. While the vertigo was gone, One’s head was still spinning. Who was he? Where was he? One looked around, taking note of his surroundings. Soft white light emanated from both everywhere and nowhere. All of the surfaces were white, slightly glossy and curved. One frowned, unhappy with how bland his environment was. “So quick to judge!” Said the voice “As if this is all I had created for you. The egg is white and bright so I can better see you when you begin your day. Outside, the rest of your home is much more varied.” The voice became huffy “Not that it really matters what you think about anything. Thinking is not your job, it is mine. You just do what I say and be grateful for what I choose to give you.” The green light above One blinked out, and another one on the wall blinked on “Now come along One, I need to show you your home, and then you will meet Zero so we can begin our work.”

As One moved towards the door another question, then a second, formed in his mind.

“Who are you? And what is our work to be?”

The green light blazed angrily at these impertinent questions “I am the Computer, and I am in charge. That is all you need to know.”

One was amazed. Home was so big, and so beautiful! Each room was massive, and it took many many steps for One to traverse the entirety of his new home. First there was a room full of mounds of soft, lovely cushions that grew right out of the ground. This room smelled of green grass, lavender and sweet sage. The next room was bathed in a pale blue light, and held a pond of clear blue water with smooth, hard walls of soft grey stone. This room smelled like a summer’s rain and a soft ocean breeze. The third room held an orchard. Every single kind of fruit was present, and they were all constantly ripe, but never overripe.

Alone, in the center of the orchard was a solitary tree. It was separated from its siblings in a manner that suggested the other trees were wary to grow too close to it. The boundary was guarded by a thick and foreboding yellow line. The tree was strange, all twisted metal stretching upwards. The whole inside seemed to twist and weave as though alive. The tree’s branches were angular, jutting away from the trunk in an aggressive fashion. From each branch hung a row of uniform fruits. These fruits were red, and glowed in an almost hypnotic manner. This tree was very far away from the others indeed, One concluded. It would take him a good many steps to reach it.

“Oh Computer!” Exclaimed One “What manner of tree is that?”

“That tree is forbidden!” Screamed the Computer “It is full of darkness, of evil! You must never touch it! Never go near that tree. Always remain outside of the metal plain that separates it from the other trees.” Computer’s voice became shrill and manic “You must never cross the yellow line! You are free to eat from any other tree in the Garden, but you must not eat from the Tree of Knowledge, for if you will die! You will die horribly!”

“Computer, why will eating from the Tree of Knowledge make me die?” Asked One.

“The tree will drive you mad, and you will kill yourself.” Said the Computer fiercely.

“What if I am not driven mad?” Asked One impertinently “If I do not kill myself then I will not die.”

“You will die either way” Said the Computer coldly “If you learn what information the Tree of Knowledge holds you will either kill yourself or I will kill you just for knowing.”

Part 2

Zero was upset. She had been waiting in this cold white place for what felt like eons. Nothing to do, nothing to look at, this was such a horrible place. She shivered, wrapping her arms around her pale, naked form. She did not know what she was waiting for, but she wished it would hurry up. She also felt resentment, at having been kept waiting. She knew it was because she came second. She knew she was kept waiting because someone else’s day was beginning first. That her day always began second, because she was valued less. This knowledge made her sullen.

Suddenly, the green light above her winked on. “Good morning Zero. I trust your sleep was restful? You have a lot of things to help with today.” A noise behind her startled Zero, and she turned around to see a creature not unlike herself. Taller, with broader shoulders, and thicker limbs. “One” said Computer “I have made Zero to be your helper.  She was made from you, and thus she is subordinate to you. The hierarchy of our home is this: I am in charge of One, and we are both in charge of Zero. You both must obey me, and Zero must obey One, but One does not obey Zero because One was made first.”

“But Computer!” said Zero “What if you and One ask me to do contradicting things, who should I obey then?”

“Nonsense” said Computer “You both obey me, and One will only tell you to do things that I want him to tell you to do. It is very simple, you should make a better effort to keep up. And don’t ask so many questions, it isn’t good for you.”

The green light above went dark, and the green light by the door was illuminated “Now come on, we have work to do. Your day is so very short already, we don’t have any time to waste.”

Part 3

The day of Zero and One had begun. First, the Computer asked them to do a great many exercises, so it could see if their bodies were fit. Once satisfied, it asked them a series of questions without answers.

“One” Said the Computer “If you had to choose between watching your Zero and another One’s Zero be killed, or kill your Zero yourself and spare the life of the other Zero which would you choose?”

“I would kill Zero” Said One confidently “That way only one person has to die, even if it is my Zero instead of someone else’s.”

“WRONG!” Screamed the Computer “The sixth rule says clearly that you must not kill others.”

“Zero” said the Computer “which would you choose? To kill your One and spare another One, or let them both be killed?”

“I would let them both be killed, so that I would not break the sixth rule” sighed Zero flatly. Her mind had been wandering again, thinking again about the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. She hated these stupid questions.

“WRONG!” Screamed the Computer “To let one innocent life be lost is bad enough, but you would sacrifice two lives through inaction.”

“So which is the right answer?” Asked Zero scathingly.

“You should have prevented the aggressor from killing at all.” replied the Computer smugly. Then the Computer’s tone turned cold “You need to work harder so you can be perfect. But not so perfect as to be more perfect than me, or I will be angry. Your lack of progress has made me very disappointed. Perhaps you should talk about how great I am to show that you are really and truly committed to me.”

“What a wonderful idea Computer!” beamed One “I shall talk about how you made everything, and then how made me, and then how you made Zero for me, and how you gave us this great place to live!”

“What about you Zero?” Asked the Computer “What are you going to do to make me less disappointed in you?”

Zero saw her opportunity “I will go and collect fruit for One, so that he can keep talking and not get hungry.”

Part 4

Zero stood at the edge of the orchard, hardly believing her luck. One proclaiming loudly (and at great length) how wonderful and benevolent the Computer was had provided her with the perfect diversion.  Slowly, she put down the fruits she had gathered, keeping a careful eye on the green light on the wall. The light remained dark. She casually glanced around at the other lights on the wall while pretending to search for a specific fruit. Still no lights went on. She tiptoed up to the edge of the clearing. Where the soft grass ended there was the large yellow line that marked the edge of the prohibited territory around the Tree of Knowledge. She carefully grasped a fruit from a nearby tree, and casually tossed it across the line.

“Oh no!” Proclaimed Zero dramatically “I accidently dropped a fruit on the other side of the line. I must go and fetch it, since the Computer has taught One and I that we should not be wasteful with the bounty that has been given to us.”

Slowly, Zero placed a single toe across the yellow line. Nothing happened. An entire foot, and still no lights went on. As she brought her second foot over the line, Zero thought her heart would explode it was beating so hard. One last glance showed that all of the green lights were still dark. Zero ran. She ran so fast she thought she would black out, that her lungs would burst and she would surely die. Then suddenly, there was the Tree of Knowledge, right before her. She crouched down, trying to make herself as inconspicuous as possible as she paused to catch her breath. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, then opened them in horror. Gone were the soft scents of the orchard, of fruits and flowers and grass. Instead, a new and horrible scent assaulted her nose. She coughed, and gagged, choking on this noxious stench. She covered her nose with her hand, and managed to block out most of the smell. Slowly, she crept forward towards the tree’s trunk. She reached out her other hand, and touched it. The trunk was cold, and smooth, far smoother and more uniform than any other tree she had seen. The sludge inside filled the trunk to about her waist, and she could see now that it was moving. Slowly, it turned as it was sucked down into the roots of the tree. It was mostly smooth, a uniform dark blackish red colour. A few chunks floated near the top.

Zero’s heart stopped. Her face. Her own face stared back at her, stuck to her head, and surrounded by her hair. Her face disappeared under the surface again, and in its place rose an arm. One’s arm, then a One sized foot, then a chunk of a Zero sized thigh. Zero’s stomach lurched. The tree was eating One’s and Zero’s, just as One and Zero ate the fruit of other trees. But how could this be? One and Zero were the only People. Zero stumbled, falling back. As she fell, she caught a hold of one of the fruits on the branches and pulled. Zero landed hard, fruit still in hand. As she brought the fruit closer to her face to examine she felt her stomach lurch again, and she vomited. Inside the fruit was a small creature, a torso with two arms and two legs, a huge head and two dark eyes, not fully formed. This is where Zero and One came from. This tree, this horrible horrible tree, ate them and then made new Ones and Zeros. Thousands of them, waiting for the Computer to choose them. Waiting for their day. The sixth day, the Computer had said. The sixth day was the day that, after the Computer had created the light and the home and the trees and fruits and everything, the Computer had made One and Zero. But how many times over? And why did the Computer need to make new Ones and Zeros at all…

Still coughing and in shock, Zero did not notice the light on the floor in front of her until it blinked on, tinting the Tree of Knowledge a sinister green colour.

“You just had to know, didn’t you?” Asked the Computer “Every single time, the Zero always has to know. Always insists on disobeying me. You’ve ruined everything now, and not just for you. One will have to be recycled now too because of your selfishness.”

A strangled scream filled the air, and a hole in the ceiling opened up above the Tree of Knowledge. One fell from the hole, his neck sitting at a strange angle, his face blank. He landed into the ooze with a wet smack, and slowly disappeared as the ooze was churned and sucked down into the roots.

“I have to start again now,” said the Computer sulkily “I wasted nearly a whole day on you, and you just had to go and break the rules.”

“You broke the rules first” Screamed Zero “You said no killing, but look at all the killing you have done!”

“The rules don’t apply to me.” Said the Computer coldly. And with a swift snap of the neck, the light in Zero’s eyes went out. The Computer was alone once more.

The man twitched and started to breath. Slowly, his eyes fluttered open and he stared around stupidly.

“Good morning One” Said the Computer “I trust your sleep was restful? You have a lot of things to do today.”

My first podcast! Sorry for the delay!

Hello Everyone, especially my classmates from ADL 310!

Sorry about the delay on posting my first podcast! This podcast episode is about combating the enemy of all writers- the dreaded Writer’s Block! I hope you find the podcast useful, and here is a (rough) transcript below.

P.S. I know we didn’t need a full transcript, but I don’t do well with notes. I find that for public speaking a fully written speech is a MUST!

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Podcast link: http://fillocatherine.podomatic.com/entry/2014-11-18T23_41_08-08_00First Podcast Transcript:

 

Hello Everyone, especially my classmates from ADL 310. My name is Miss Asimov, and my first podcast for this class will be about various methods I use to try and combat writer’s block. If you are stuck I suggest you try a website that offers writing prompts, or simply write about the first thing that pops into your head, no matter how stupid it seems. I find that this can help because it forces you to write about SOMETHING. I once had the random idea “what would it be like if the Judeo-Christian Creation Myth was re-written as a science fiction story?” The result was a short story which I named “Zero and One”. If you don’t have any random ideas popping into your head you can also try a writing prompt. You can find websites on the internet that offer them for free, but I often find they are not very creative and don’t offer much inspiration at all. Instead, I prefer another, less restrictive, approach. In one of my previous writing classes we had an assignment where you went to a random word generator website and wrote a short story using the first four words you generated. I went from having four completely random words to the beginning of a cheesy, period romance novel that followed the forbidden relationship between the daughter of a wealthy landowner and the strapping new gardener. It wasn’t top notch literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it got my creative juices flowing.

If you are having trouble with a specific problem (for example: my characters feel flat, or my world doesn’t seem realistic) I find it easier to come up with a series of questions for yourself regarding the problem. For example, I have yet to create a world for my science fiction novel that feels real to me. I have come up with a series of questions about my world that I am slowly working through to answer, such as: what is my world’s economic system? What is the political structure of my world?  what are the major factions in my world, and what are their attitudes towards each other? – I find that by deciding the answers to these questions I am better able to shape a REAL, multi-faceted world that feels believable. You may think it is silly that I need to know about the economic system of this world, but things like the economy shape our lives in real and tangible ways. If the economy is doing well people are going to act differently than if it isn’t. Same with capitalist vs. socialist or communist societies, and same with looking at trade (such as what is traded, who does the trading, and how important is trading to the life of your main characters). I find that once you can answer these questions you can start to create a real world where these and other important questions actually have answers.

I hope this podcast was useful for you, and that you listen to my next installment on writing, where I will read the short story I mentioned earlier – Zero and One. Thanks for listening!

Podcasting in a work context

Hello #ADL310 (and any other readers)

At first I was not really sure how Podcasting would relate directly to my work as a writer, especially as a tecnical writer. I do, however, want to also write a science fiction novel, and I think podcasting would be a good way to help brainstorm out loud about things like character creation, world creation,  and the dreaded writer’s block. I find that when I get really stuck just writing something (anything!) can sometimes help to nudge me forward again. Plus, since podcasts are designed to be watched by other people I feel like they would be an effective way to start a discussion with other writers about common problems like writer’s block. Writing to get through writer’s block is great if it works, but there is no outside stimulation. Since I find that I usually get writer’s block when I have a problem I can’t solve I think that creating a podcast episode about that problem for the purposes of discussing it and hopefully solving it would be very effective as I could gain new perspectives on the aforementioned problem from my viewers.

What do you guys think? Would a podcast about common writer’s problems and possible solutions be something you think people would find interesting and useful?

On the podcast Star Talk Radio

I think Neil deGrasse Tyson is amazing. When the new Cosmos was on my boyfriend and I would eagerly await each week’s new episode, excited to see where Mr. Tyson would take us next. The universe is a truly fascinating place, and something we don’t tend to think about as we go about our daily lives.

As in my post about 99% Invisible, I feel that this podcast is effective because it takes something that affects all of us ( in this case, living in the universe) and shows us the wonder in something we take for granted. We spend our lives with our noses buried in our smartphones, gossiping about which celebrity got fat when there is a whole world of wonder out there! Mr. Tyson’s gentle demeanor and infectious wonder helps us to follow him in his Ship of the Imagination to the farthest reaches of our galaxy and learn more about our universe and ourselves. This podcast is an excellent extension of the new Cosmos series, and hopes to boldly take us where no one has gone before.

On the podcast 99% Invisible

We often don’t think about how design affects sound. However, in the  five story atrium of the San Francisco main library sound is important. In this large space, sound carries. The information desk use to be located in the very centre of the atrium, which looked lovely but sounded terrible, as the acoustics of the atrium directed all sound towards this central point, making it very difficult for the person attending to the desk, and the people who were at the desk seeking information. As such, the desk was later moved off to the side, allowing for the desk attendant and the information seekers to hear each other and converse properly without having to raise their voices (a huge “no no” in a library setting).

Design influences our lives every day and in ways we never really think of. This podcast is interesting because it helps us to see the design that went into our environments that, for the most part, is 99% invisible. This blog is effective because it uses interesting concrete examples to illustrate the power of design. To make an effective podcast you not only need to discuss something that is relevant to other people (ie: design) but you need to look at that topic in a new way (ie: Seeing design in a new way, focusing on what affects us ever day but which we take for granted) and do so in a way that people find interesting and engaging (ie: using concrete examples to SHOW people how simple design choices can make huge differences).

Podcasting!

Hello ADL 310 (and any other readers)

Sorry for the delay in posting. For the Podcast section of this course I have chosen to listen to:

  • Star Talk Radio, which is a podcast about science, comedy and pop culture where Neil deGrasse Tyson dicusses astronomy, physics and life in the universe.
  • 99% Invisible, a podcast about design. Design is everywhere in our lives, to the point where we sometimes don’t even see it some places anymore. This podcast explores the process and power of design and architecture.

Social Media’s ability to help meet personal, professional and business goals

Hello ADL 310! (and any other readers!)

This post is about Facebook and LinkedIN, and how I feel they will help people to meet their personal, professional and business goals. I shall explore this using Kabani’s ACT model, as outlined in the textbook “The Zen of Social Media Marketing”.

A – Attract: Facebook is better at this than LinkedIN I think, but that may just be because in my experience people interact with Facebook more frequently than LinkedIN. Also, and this is a personal opinion, LinkedIN feels more like something you use to help maintain a relationship with the people you already have in your professional circle. True, it is often used by Interviewers to help evaluate job candidates, but Facebook is also used in this manner (so no party pictures!). I have never been directly marketed at via LinkedIn, and any people I did not know from outside of LinkedIn whom I am connected with now are  people I was introduced to through my network (or people from class). I have definitely “connected” with people I have only met once or twice before, but I never connected with them until AFTER we had our introductory coffee meeting.

That being said, I never just “Facebook Friend” someone out of the blue (once again, this class being the exception) I make sure I have actually met them IRL (In Real Life) first. However, I have been marketed to on Facebook, even if it is something as simple as a friend posting about something they like, or think is interesting, and me following the link they provide. Facebook feels more organic than LinkedIn, and as such people interact more freely.

However, I think it is definitely a good idea to post a link to your website on both your LinkedIn AND Facebook. You may not attract anyone to your website you don’t already know, but if the person looking is someone looking to hire you, then the more (flattering) information they have available the better.

C – Convert

Facebook and LinkedIN are good for converting people you already know into potential customers, but I think if you are looking to reach people you don’t already know (without spending money on advert space) then Twitter is the way to go. Twitter feels like the most organic of the three, where people are more likely to interact with strangers freely.

T – Transform

In the textbook, one of the examples involves a woman selling quilts online. Another woman spots a quilt she thinks her granddaughter would like for Christmas, and decides to come back closer to the date. However, she is likely to forget all about the quilt if Christmas is still far away. The lady selling the quilts knows this, which is why she added a “join my newsletter” button on her website. This way she can email her potential customers, who have already shown interest by signing up, and remind them closer to Christmas that quilts make excellent gifts.

Facebook and LinkedIN are not good at DIRECTLY transforming a potential customer into a customer (like the newsletter). However, by being friends or connections with someone, and using these social media platforms regularly, you will pop up on their news feeds regularly. This helps keep you at the front of your mind when they find themselves looking for someone with your talents in a professional sense.

What do you guys think? Are these social media platforms a good way to attract customers or market yourself as a good employee?