Portfolio and Portfolio Cover Letter for this English 439 Blog


To Whomever It May Concern,

During the course of this semester I knew coming into it that I already had higher than average exposure and experience with writing in digital spaces so what I, along with Shelly’s advice, wanted to do was try to apply my knowledge in new ways. Drawing five of the course objectives from Richard Jenkins’ article Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century I’m going to show you how I’ve pushed myself and how I’ve taken concepts and lessons from this class and applied them to augment my existing knowledge. Of these outcomes the ones that I’ve found most helpful are Play, Transmedia Navigation, and Appropriation while I feel like I need to work on Multitasking and Collective Intelligence.

Playing around with new software and ideas this semester was one of the funniest things that I got to do. Especially in my Hypertext Project where I created my own professional resume website using Adobe Dreamweaver. This built upon my original knowledge of just knowing base hypertext code and allowed me to expand my ideas and reach to incorporate things like CSS rules which really expand what you can do with your hypertext. This, however, wasn’t just an easy journey; one does not just simple walk into using Dreamweaver. It took a few hours of me banging my head against the table before I actually go the hang of making table sin HTML and having them com out in the correct dimensions and formatting. I also had to play around with the links and embedding of documents into raw HTML. Not all browser types support certain kinds of iframes; therefore I had to make sure that my content would be able to be seen across a multitude of browsers. In this way I had to think of what I did in my hypertext directly to allow my audience the optimal view in which they would desire. This kind of harkens me back to the Soft Architecture Design article I read in the New Media Reader. It’s not the theory behind the article but more of the overall point of the article that stuck with me and really applied here: no matter how useful the software is, you have to understand the base elements that make up the software in order for it to be helpful. I would have been lost if I didn’t take the time to really study some code before I hopped in Dreamweaver. Anyone can click around but it ceases to become productive if you lack the inherent knowledge base which the software is working off of.

Timothynorton.zxq.net header and tab bar: made to represent the idea of transmedia navigation by using GIMP to create files for an HTML document.

My website brings me to another idea: Transmedia Navigation

Playing especially led me to the idea and execution of Transmedia Navigation. For instance in the aforementioned project I had to overcome a lot of technical hurdles but, as I wanted to use this site outside of class, I wanted it to look it’s best. I didn’t want to just have boring elements of plain hypertext. Instead I used my previous knowledge of making images in GIMP for my video resume from last semester and created images to use as tab buttons. I liked these because they showed how I could create images and balance those images through design elements while implementing a separate work within a larger piece. I feel like it represented my work on two separate but intertwined levels. This throws me back to the Augmenting Human Intelligence article I read in the New Media Reader. In the article it discussed how we could make ourselves smarter and more productive through the application of technology and new media. This, as it turns out, is exactly how I used these new skills and cross weaving them with my old skills to create something wholly new and more perfect than it could have been with my previous experience. I used a similar method when approaching my video project for this semester. I felt like it needed something more definite and I also wanted to tie in the visual elements of the design scheme of the website to the commercial for the website. Therefore I put in my own transition graphics which were much more fitting towards the theme and went beyond what the initial software limitations in Final Cut Pro.

Throughout all these project’s I had to focus and use some elements of appropriation. A quick theoretical note on appropriation comes from the cut up method. Although I disagree, still, vehemently still, to the purposes behind the cut up method and it’s logic there’s a really neat idea that there that says that we can cut up things and re order them to make sense (if you take out the random element of the original theory). In this way I created my Website, Commercial, and Image Project. By separating elements of my life, work, and the work of others I was able to refuse them to make something new that also made sense. In my website resume I had had to individually separate elements of my professional and personal life and refuse them in a way that would make sense and also be entertaining to my audience: the prospective employer. In my commercial I attempted something a bit more off the wall: I wanted to appeal to an entertainment audience with an informative yet entertaining video. That required me trying ot find the most engaging and interesting content on the website to catch their interest. I feel like this succeeded in a few ways but failed in others. I still want to work on trying to represent the best and leaving out the worst without feeling like I’m completely dishonest.

I am absolutely terrible at multitasking on the other hand. It’s not that I lack ability to multitask altogether but it’s more of the fact that I can’t focus on an individual thing while I multitask. It’s interesting that articles in the New Media Reader say that the input comment take out a lot of work that’s done therefore multitasking is essentially constantly being done in the background as to alleviate necessary multitasking when computing in the Personal Dynamic Media article. I was specifically surprised to see that, even after reading the article, I still can’t multitask really well even with the dynamic media model making work easier. It normally takes me locking myself in a bathroom, turning on the fan and turning the WiFi off to work on two or three things at a time. I think it just dilutes my focus. I want to improve this by maybe trying to correlate project and work on two things at time that way it’s more of a give and take between two ideas and I don’t let myself stray from a concept for too long without having to reapply it in another sense. A good project description of this would be the reading assignments as a whole. Reading then sitting down and doing them is easy for me but when I wen to go put in the multimedia elements I got really sidetracked and lost my focus and it took me forever just to finish them. It ended up being that Id’ have to read, grab the multimedia elements first, and then focus my understanding of those articles around the media I found in order for it to work. If I really needed to use a project example it’d probably be the Image Manipulation project. I hated having to go back and forth between windows and then losing some things and losing track of concepts.

Steve Jobs' head on a little girls bodyl

Steve Jobs doesn't approve of multitasking!

For Collective Intelligence I really can just say that I’m more of a solo worker. Theory on this, at least how the technology I use has developed, actually contradicts the entire notion of individual creation. If we look at one of the first article from the New Media Reader we can see in Man, Machines, and the World About that the evolution and even creation of new media evolved from a collaborative basis. By collaborating during World War II with other scientists the idea of human computers spurred forth the creation of new and dynamic systems. But for myself I can’t really connect to having to rely on someone else. I feel like it dilutes my overall vision as a creator and stunts my creative process. While I feel this I can honestly say that, during projects like the commercial, the collective intelligence of the people I enlisted to help, my co-host and my friend who created the beat for it, really did enhance the project on a production level. That commercial wouldn’t have been the same without the music in the background and the inclusion of another writer on the website; it would have felt to solitary and base line. In the future I’d like to create more specialized teams and work with them. Normally my problem comes in when I know a lot more about what I’m doing than the people I work with. So if I create teams where I’m not the only specialist but other people have talents that can’t be replicated (like music production) then I think the overall bar for possibilities of that project reaches a new height.

Overall I have to say that this class helped me out a ton. It allowed me to mess around and play with more things and get more experience with software i may not have had the projects to learn on. It allowed me to navigate through different software to create more complete and interesting content. It even allowed me to take a step back and look at projects differently to analyze and create something bigger from smaller parts I may have looked over. I think that through these objectives I’ve been able to learn how to work more effectively and who to work with to create better projects.


Timothy Norton


Final Projects:

Image Project

Video Project

Hypertext Project


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NMR Notes Part III, Part I

This week I’ve decided to read Put That There by Richard A. Bolt as my primary text this week. It’s really interesting to find out that all the way back in 1980 they were trying to find ways not to put computers with people directly (as it seemed with earlier theorists) but to have people and computers act simultaneously towards one another. One of the most glaring examples that I can see of this doesn’t come out of the manufacturing world or architect design world but out of the world of video games. The example I’m speaking of is obviously the Kinect for the Xbox 360.

One of the most interesting applications I’ve seen of this type of theory of direct interaction with the Kinect would be Kinect Labs. This is a game which allows individuals to create their own projects and designs for gameplay with the Kinect. What’s more interesting is the types of things people have built (virtual open houses, sports games, etc) harken back to earlier theory about computing being able to directly simulate and compliment human life. This evolution shows the want of humans to have  direct experience with their computing hardware; we’ve long moved past the part of technology where we are idle where our computer is dynamic. Combining dynamic functions on behalf of both parties, the computer and the user, allows for a more intimate and reciprocity based computing cycle.

When we travel down the rabbit hole a bit further we get into the ideas behind what actually created this. I think this is something that the original philosophers and theories of new media would have really found interesting. What created this technology wasn’t built for any altruistic motive to satisfy the chagrin of scientists curiosity it was built merely as a competitive move in a capitalist society to rival the Nintendo Wii. It’s funny to me that all these articles generally have some kind of idea that their theory will be used to help better the human race, cure aids or cancer, or stop war. Really what it all comes down to is being able to compete in a capitalist society.

An Ad for the Kindle; an e-reader offered through Amazon

The second article I read, Proposal for a Universal Electronic Publishing System and Archive, is another feat of the future that we’ve passed. The kindle and things like it have already begun the process of publishing online and being able to share documents with one another. This, however, is strictly from the capitalist perspective. This commercial system only sells from one aspect to another. What’s more interesting, and more true to the theory of the article, is Google Documents. In this way we can share selectively, collectively, and privately between one another using a free service. While this may not be the ideal way in which Nelson would have liked his literary machine to work it’s the closet thing we have. The hurdle that needs to be jumped for this theory to truly come true would be for the need for paper based products and publications to go extinct. This, I don’t believe, will ever happen. There are paper trails for a reason and the issue of internet security will always be the greatest challenge to a truly free Electronic Publishing System and Archive.

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NMR Part II, Post III

The two articles I read for this part of the book were Constituents of a Theory of the Media by Hanz Magnus Enzenberger and Requiem for the media by Jean Baudrillard. What’s interesting about his article, as with a majority of politically directed technological theory, is that their ideas are outdated but still stay relevant. When they speak about political change and the uprising of socialist ideals, especially Enzenberger in this case, that a shared access and knowledge of political ideals and change can inspire and spark revolution. While we haven’t seen our new media make serious changes in any of the major developed nations we can certainty see the tide of young individuals in the Arab and other socially underdeveloped country take charge of their political future.

How Facebook and Twitter inspired the Arab Spring

In our own country we can see waves of this on both sides of the political spectrum. In 2008’s election there’s a wide consensuses that social media played a huge role in getting President Obama elected. By commanding the twitterverse and Facebook field Obama was able to spread his message to more people than his republican opponent. What is really surprising about this is that this is the subverting of technology, an idea of Enzenberger’s, of the system at large. Because the media is controlled, at the very least somewhat, by the political systems the media can never truly reflect people but with the emergence of youtube the people

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Hypertext Project Cover Letter

HERE IS A LINK TO MY PROFESSIONAL SITE: timothynortonresume.zxq.net

The topic of my website is one of my favorite topics in the world, and is something very dear to me: MYSELF! Kidding, of course. What I mean is that my website is a representation of myself in a professional manner and my experiences laid out in a website format. It’s goal and purpose is to attract perspective employers to hire myself and engage interest about my expereince. All information, pictures, videos, and content were created by myself. I addressed ownership issues within the written content that accompanies all media used.

I wanted the website to look clean and professional but also show off what I’m like. So I chose white on black. I really like the layout because I feel that it’s simple and professional. It allows itself to be eye-catching without overbearing. I chose the width dimension of my web pages to be at 660 (640 – borders) because that’s what all my research (random google searches) said was safe for most laptop sizes and browser windows. What really struck me the most when learning Dreamweaver, which was the designing tool I used, was that it still left me completely in the dark. I had to fall back on a lot of my own rusty knowledge of HTML and reinforce it with tons of youtube tutorials to find out exactly how to operate in Dreamweaver. What ended up happening was that I used my base HTML code with CSS style rules to get the desired effect that I wanted. One of the major challenges I faced was getting my tables to line up with my header, which I had already designed as the standard 660 Pixel length. After taking 3 hours with Ashley messing around with percentages I found out that there was a simple code drop I could use, table layout: “fixed,” that basically made me infuriated that I had wasted numerous hours trying to get things to work when it really was that simple. Story of my life.

When it comes to applying three chapters I have to say that the way that I applied the cut up method to my last project works well here also. Where the cut up method only prescribes to just cutting up and randomly reassigning place my version is cutting up and purposefully reassigning place. I’m taking my collective experiences over the past four years, cutting them up, and placing them in a way that would be most desirable to a future employer. The typography article, Seeing and Writing, also worked in here well. It was interesting having to balance how my stuff looked like on the page with the actual hypertext coding I had to apply to get it that way. So even though I’m seeing all this code I have to realize that my written word will act completely different when finished and have to know what that code means for my content. Through the process of actually making the website and using these tutorials to lean and apply other peoples tactics to my own product I think that the GNU Manifesto is at work a bit here. Although it’s not like sharing freeware dev software I think that my website wouldn’t have ever been able to be more without a community of hypertext awareness thought.

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NMR Notes IV, Part III

For my main discussion this time around I’ll be focusing on Seeing and Writing by J. David Bolter. What drew me ot this article was, obviously writing. As it’s a big part of my life and what I want to focus on to get a career eventually I figured that this article would help me along the way to understanding how exactly the design principals work with typography and layout in a theoretical sense.

The "Talkin' That Shit" website logo screen caputred from talkinthatshit.net: black background on white text closely cropped.

An example of how I use my favorite font, futura medium.

One of the things that really interested me was the concept of how we relate ideas through the typography and methods we use in portraying it. It never really co cured to me the reasons typography developed in the electronic sense and, tracing it back to it’s origins, it became really interesting to see how much it focused in on relating the message to the reader even way back in Victorian times. Then, when considering the push and pull of typographic change, it became even more compounded when we came to the modern instances of typography in our environment. Hark  back to the beginning of my usage of typography on the internet and you’ll see the kind of basic centering and usage of space saving when I was making signatures and writing theories on games back when I was 14 years old cooped up in my mom’s computer room. This turned into me learning basic design principals of this kind of typography, both seeing and writing, and how the two interconnect, through tyring to relate my own message in a way that’s appealing and interesting to others.


A nice little history on Typography.


The mechanical side of this, being the evolution of HTML and wrangling text into shapes and sizes that we want, is a study all it’s own. I think that the evolutionary of this contributed more to web page design than any other single factor. Especially when we look back to websites in the mid-nineties to the early 00’s. The evolution of web page popularity and clarity of message, even more interesting when dealing with the new type so online news and media publishing, is directly tied within the mechanical function of how we layout our own text for others to see. For instance when we rap text around a table it’s because we want out viewers focus to be firmly implanted there, instead of it scrolling across the entirety of the dimension of the window which their browser shows.

The other article I read, You Say You Want a Revolution? by Stuart Moulthrop, is particularly interesting given the Arab Spring. Although Moulthrop seemed to be despondent about how hypertext could be used, or to what level of effectiveness, we’ve seen (through Syria, Egypt, Libya, etc) that social media sites through the internet are giving voices to the marginalized of today’s societies. These marginalized have been able to organize and rebel; so in some way Moulthrop wasn’t completely correct about the majority of hypertext being able to be used by the power to be to control; it’s simplicity has been able to be harnessed by every day individuals (including groups like Anonymous and Wiki Leaks) to subvert the media and show their own message instead.

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HTML Project Comment/Peer Reviews

Comment on Rachel’s (awaiting approval)

Comment on Liane’s Final Project

Comment on Emma Wolfe’s project

I also did a fourth one; but I did it as a bonus because other people had less comments and I wanted to spread the love.

In my site I’ve realized (Because I haven’t gotten any reviews yet because I spaced and just posted it today) that what’s lacking in other people website is also what’s lacking in my own. I want to re-write all of my content so that it flows more naturally on the screen. I want to have not necessarily a logical progression but a logical collection of information that allows the reader to take some meaning from my website (Which will hopefully be a lasting impression in the minds of employers).

If I had any comments on mine I’d probably be surprised at how awesome they are and how everyone thinks my website is the best. Naturally. Of course I’m just kidding but if I did have comments I’d expect them to note the lack of content on two pages, the resume page being messy and unorganized, and a lack of color. I agree with all of the above except for the lack of color. I prefer black and white: I feel like it’s simple and allows me to highlight elements in the web-page easily without my readers getting distracted from a barrage of colors.


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HTML Project Draft

April 21, 2012 5 comments

Check it out here



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NMR Notes Part IV, Part I!

The first article I chose this week was The Fantasy Beyond Control. I was foolishly hoping for an article about Final Fantasy but instead I got an article about non-linear thinking paths merged with video and gameplay to form the first interactive ‘art’ experience, Lorna.

Catherine Video Game Trailer – the closest modern relative to Lorna I can think of.

While the article discusses the virtual  interactive media named Lorna there’s something similar that was just released on the American market about a year ago: A Japanese port named Catherine. In this game you take the role of Vincent Brooks who’s dealing with cheating on his girlfriend, Katherine, with a mysterious new girlfriend named Catherine. In the game, like in Lorna, you’re forced to make choices and interact with these two women and decide what Vincent does directly. You can request advice from your friends and other patrons of a bar you frequent each night.

The game, like Lorna, puts you in the shoes of the Vincent Brooks and gives you full choice over his life.

However what Lorna missed out on, largely due to the limitations of the computer software of it’s time, was the chance to connect the way you progress through the story (AKA the gameplay, which at the time was a simple click yes or no, click a, b, or c, for choices, etc) with the story itself to enhance the meaning and create a layered metaphor. This happens in Catherine as the main gameplay of Catherine, outside of visiting the bar and balancing how you talk and proceed to converse between your two girlfriends, is navigating giant puzzles in your nightmares that reflect the inner struggle Vincent is having in his day to day relationship issues. The connectivity to his dreams and how it relates to Vincent’s overall struggles is what ends up creating the system which the game progresses on. Instead of just following a path the game descip0hers and breaks down your decisions to base the overall morality of your specific Vincent. This is what I think Lynn Hershman was discussing when he said that, “Choices are facilitated by means of a keyboard, mouse, our touch sensitive screen. As Technology expands, there will be more permutations available, not only between the viewer and the system but between elements in the system itself Some people feel that computer systems will eventually reflect the personality and biases of their users.”

The Dialogue Wheel used in the Mass Effect Franchise also mirrors this kind of response based concept which influences how hypertextual stories work out.
Image Taken From:

The next article I read was The End of Books by Robert Coover. While I disagree with his wild claim that books will become obsolete I found myself surprised that I didn’t disagree with anything else. This is the true idea behind hypertext fiction that The Cut-Up Method and all it’s bastard children didn’t understand: true works of written art are made with purpose and intent. This theory of hypertext fiction works not because it subverts the original ideas that go into creating a piece of fiction but works because it allows those tenants to be transported to a new arena.

NMR Notes

For this week I chose to do the two chapters: The GNU Manifesto and Video Games and Computer Holding Power

Let met start off with Video Games, although what I have to say about the GNU Manifesto will probably tie into the end.

One o fmy favorite games when I was growing up.

In the video game article by Sherry Turkle I was really moved by her dedication to capture the real story behind what gaming is and how it effects people. What really struck me, in a personal way, was when they started describing Jarish. He’s a kid who came from a divorced home and didn’t have much control over any aspect of his life so he retreated into a fictional world of video games. That was pretty much my childhood in a nutshell. but beyond just that one factor it was really neat seeing the author give the medium the respect and analysis it’s due. While we often hear about the average age of gamers being 35 – 40 I don’t think we can really comprehend the fact.

CC Image found on Flickr; originally posted by quirkybird.

I mean why would these individuals choose to play video games instead of go out on weekends and have fancy cocktail parties with their law clients? I think what Sherry really got to was the heart of the nature of video games: the challenge and order to the game itself. While I often argue that story is the most important aspect of a game Sherry offers up great evidence for the actual challenge and order of the formatting for being what really motivates players. I can’t say that I disagree with her here. Jarish and I both had something in common with our childhoods: we were in situations where we didn’t have much control over things we wanted control over. That could very well be why video games are a particularly excellent way for me to deal with stress and aggravation. It could be because I’m still longing for some form of control that I can’t get somewhere else but I end up happening to find in video games. It’s a medium that allows the interactivity to take center strange and places the player in a world that is strictly governed by certain rules.

In the GNU article I thought it was quite a funny coincidence that I happened to read this especially considering all the freeware software development that’s going behind some of the biggest games that are being developed in the app store today. One of those, perhaps the biggest and most obvious example, is Angry Birds. Although the GNU article asserted that freeware should be free to advance the entire culture and programming nature of computers there is no such thing as true altruistic.

When looking at the Angry Birds case they used a freeware physics engine for their game, a basic one used by a lot of flash-based gravity slingers (believe me, Angry Birds was far from the first to come up with the idea) but never granted attribution to the design team that made it. It was ok in their eyes because they actually did have an altruistic motive when designing the freeware. Then again it could have also done a lot of good for their carreers. So when Angry Birds presented at this past years E3 the devs were in the crowd and offered a question up to them as to way they didn’t get recognized by the game. There was no response, naturally. So in the end, although The Manifesto of the GNU may be a wonderful, beautiful concept of how freeware should work there’s always going to be angst between creators and innovators that take the creation and make something great out of it.

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HTML Post 4


Welcome to Timothy Norton’s Web Page Resume – blah, blah, blah, general cover letter going over basic skills briefly, what I’m interested/looking for. Explanation of how to navigate the site.

I plan on having 5 main tabs/tabish things at the top: Bio, Writing Experience, Video Production, Audio Production, and Resume. These tabs will link individually to the pages with content that descirbes them.

On the three production/experience pages I plan to have a brief description about my experience with the particular pieces, what I did to create them, and then embed them within the body of the page. I plan to use my video resume for the video production, because it also shows off my image creation and manipulation experience, use my podcast as an example for Audio, embed an audio player there and link out to the iTunes page, have the logo for the podcast there, and for writing experience detail my blog/website with images from them, explain how they’ve helped my copy-editing skills and how I’ve grown to understand online publishing.

On my resume tab I just intend on trying to embed my scrib’d resume if that proves to now lent itself to an easy transfer than just link out to it.

My bio will be kept probably under 500 words; I don’t want to bore people. Just go over my experience, how I’ve grown, what I’m interested in, and where I hope to be and want to learn in the future from careers.

As far as website design I’m a bit conflicted. I tend to stick to black-background/white text but I think that would get too boring after a while. I want to leave an impression on my reader, obviously because I want them to hire me. I think I’m going to go around and look at some other people’s professional websites before I settle on a color/page layout scheme.

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