Saturday, January 05, 2008

Blogaday 7 of 20

Day Seven - Still Truckin'

Tonight may be the hardest night so far. I find myself in a similar situation as last night; I'm fine to stay up as late as I want to writing, but I don't necessarily have one specific thing that I want to say.

I am confident that something will materialize, and I hope that its quality will be fine. I'm starting to think that I'm going to need to make some changes to the way that I do things if I am going to succeed here though. I think that if I'm going to write something worthwhile, I'm going to need to spend more time during the day thinking about what I'm going to write.

Because some days inspiration just hits, and I'll make a mental note and then come home and write it. Thinking about that, I might have actually had a beam of inspiration today. But I've forgotten it. Moments of inspiration are amazing for posts, but I can't necessarily count on them to just appear every day. I need to be thinking more, and engaging in more activities that lend themselves to inspiration.

By all means, I could go another 13 posts without any real insight. I will finish blogaday, even if the rest of my posts are devoid of any worth.

But see, I'd rather not do that. So, I go seeking inspiration. It'll be a fun adventure.

Along those same lines though, if there are any requests out there, I'd be glad to take them. I don't guarantee an answer, but if ever there was a time where you'd have a great shot at me writing a post about what you really wanted me to, now would be it. I'm not about to officially request requests, and I don't necessarily feel like a questions thing. I'm just letting you know that if there's something you've been dying to see a post about, I'd be willing to give it a shot.

I went through a phase a few months ago where I stopped posting inspiration, and instead I would just write inspiration down on yellow half-legal pages. That was really good for me I think. It also means that I've got a backup of ideas, in case I need them. A few of them really mean a lot to me, so maybe one day they'll be published here. It's difficult though, because I'd like to do them justice, so they'll take some work and preparation.

Do you ever get the feeling that all this is just one extended self reflection like the ones we've done in English? Who knew that every blogaday post would be about blogaday?

Speaking of English though, I am pretty excited to talk about my essays next Thursday. I've received absolutely no feedback on anything I've "officially" written this year, except that Mwo thinks they're intimidating. Apparently intimidation is a common theme among the ladies and I. But I digress. It'll be good to see what I've done well and what I need to improve upon. I'm pretty excited, because I really love feedback. It's a great feeling to hear that you've done a good job, but it's also very beneficial to hear where you've got some issues and need work. I'm a big fan of appropriate feedback.

I think I may start branching out with these posts. I've got one thing I know that I want to try, and I might try my hand at a few things I've done in the past but not for a while. We'll see, eh?

So what's the news? I think I want to talk about layers.

See, I think that everything is presented in layers. Let's take a poem for example. A poem, in its simplest form is probably just a paragraph of free-verse. It is nothing but words. It works to present its message, and probably does a fairly decent job at it.

But one can add more layers to that poem to make it more effective. If the poem was about injustice, you could add a bunch of irony to the beginning and end to illustrate how very unjust it is. That way you have words that tell the story, as well as irony that backs it up. Irony is an additional layer on the original piece to effectively convey the message.

One could go even further, and arrange the words and text of the poem on the page to represent a symbol of sorts. If the poem is about the injustice of the death penalty, and the words were arranged in the form of an electric chair, that'd be one more layer to get the message across. It's still the same message, but now it's got the basic words, some irony, and some ASCII art to make sure we don't miss it.

One could go further. I'm not going to, because I'm out of ideas for the poem. But you get the idea.

I think that's the same way that we present everything though. Very little that we do or say comes out in only one layer. Not to encourage Adult Roles, but we talk about communication, and the impact of our nonverbal communication on conversations and relationships. We've talked about how our posture, gestures, facial expression, tone of voice, eye contact, distance from the individual, etc. etc. all play a role in the way the message is sent and received. It's the same message, but as communicators we've all adapted more ways of backing up the message we're sending. We send multiple redundant messages to ensure that there's no way they can miss the idea. We're waving our arms wildly and shouting and doing various other things which all really mean the same thing. They come together as layers to complement each other and effectively convey our message.

This stuff is incredibly important in video editing. The effective creation of a video, at least for me, is all about layers. The documentary I made last year was risky. I chose to present an outright lie as scientific truth. I brainstormed for a very long time to find out what I was going to actually do my documentary on. I finally decided to do the leg shaving for a lot of reasons. I wanted, first and foremost, to show that documentaries can be a serious load of tosh. I can make any person say anything I want them to say. Nothing that I showed in that documentary was based on truth, to be honest. I wanted to make that point above all else. But I also wanted to poke fun at the leg shavers, stand up for the old school hair and all that. I wanted to have some fun and make some people laugh. I wanted to experiment with my own film-making and see what I was capable of. It was a style I'd never done before, and I was pretty happy with the result.

In making the film, I couldn't just come out and say that leg shaving was going to bring about the end of the human race as we know it. I had to start out with pseudo logic, by quoting a long-since assassinated politician. I used him to lend credibility to what I said. I manipulated quotes from classmates, and showed up later with image-based evidence. I busted out a few graphs, made in MS paint. Throughout all of this pseudo-logic phase I backed everything I said up with bulleted lists on screen. Behind this I put music to fit whatever we were currently doing. The tense intro music definitely plays on emotion, at least for the guys in the room. 70 percent of all guys recognize the halo 2 theme song immediately, and yes, I made that statistic up. When we were talking to patriots who love leg hair, we played good oldschool colonial style music. When we talked to terrorists, we had very ominous bad stuff. I made very liberal use of the American flag as a backdrop to show what a true American I really was. When it came time to make my conclusion, I shocked the audience with a picture of the Arlington National Cemetery, and the incredibly emotional "Better Days" by Goo Goo Dolls.

All of those layers came together to make my point. I could go on for a lot longer, analyzing what I did and why I did it. It reminds me of AP English in junior year. We analyzed rhetorical strategies for the whole class. I absolutely hated it for the first half of the year, but grew to love it like crazy as time went on. Rhetorical strategies aren't necessarily the most important thing, but they do teach a good lesson about layers. We could take a piece of writing and see all the strategies, or layers, that the author used to get their message across. We were looking at a very small sample, being relegated only to literature, but we still learned about layers.

We can take what we did in AP English and put it everywhere. Every message we send comes in layers. He who is good at manipulating layers is good at sending messages. And he who sends the best messages convinces the most people. Once you've got people convinced that you're right, you can get them to buy your product or be your friend or give you a ride home from school.

I do like layers, yes I do. I really like the way things have been coming together the past few nights. It seems that everything I've been writing about comes back to a common theme: Everything we do is connected. Tonight it's all about how our messages and signals are connected, and the more connected we can make them, the more effective we'll be. Last night was about how all my history connects itself to make me the person that I am right now.

So maybe that's the moral of the story. Or at least the thing that I've been thinking about. Connectivity is beginning to be more and more important to me. My future is coming faster than ever, and one can't help but worry about it. I've got college to pay for, a mission to prepare for, and then a life to pay for. The only way I can make it happen is by playing as connected as possible. I'll need every skill that I've got to be successful in the real working world. I'll need every credential and experience I've ever had to convince people to give me scholarships. I'm finding more and more often that one single event won't necessarily mean the difference between success and failure. More likely, it will be the precipitation of many events over a long period of time that make me the person I'll be.

To put it in terms of basketball, which I think would be appropriate, would be to say that when the game is tied at 75-75 with 12 seconds left, and you've got a chance to take that last shot to win the game, that that shot is not what makes the game. That game has been made by every single play down the court since the tip-off. Every point and possession has been important. They have all come together to put you in the situation that you're in right this very minute. The game would not be tied at 75-75 had you missed just one of the shots that you made previously. The situation would be entirely different, and even if you did make that buzzer-beating shot like you wanted to, it wouldn't give you the edge, cause you wouldn't be tied, you'd be down. Fourth quarter play is incredibly important. Most will make the argument that it's the most important. But I disagree. Every single play is important. Expanding, every layer is important. Every job we do and every choice we make will indeed factor in to the final score. We will find ourselves in the position we find ourselves in, no matter what quarter or time of day, because of what we've done before.

One could accuse me of pontificating. And I agree. But it's the only way I can really write right now, so here I am.

Yes, I do think that will do for tonight's post. I learned a bit more about layers, and I'm pretty happy about that. I must say before I go though, that blogaday is incredibly c0ol because I learn so much about myself. I had a long talk with Olsen today, talking about scholarship stuff, but then just shooting the breeze with the guy for a while. My post last night came up. Of course, he hasn't read the post. I didn't tell him about the post. But we talked about my experiences programming in VB, and what it did for me. It was cool to have that on hand when the conversation called for it. I wouldn't have had that had I not written it last night.

So here I am, learning. It's a very good feeling. I've made it through one week. My first post was a little weak, but things are moving right along. I'm glad I made this decision.

Well, once again, I hope things are going well for you all. Let me know what's on your minds and if there's anything I can do for you all.

Have a dandy existence, friends.


Nathan said...

In all this, I couldn't help being reminded of a classic dialog involving onions, ogres, and parfait.

The documentary I made last year was risky. I chose to present an outright lie as scientific truth.

You mean it was f... fake?! I based my whole shorts-wearing survival this summer on that documentary! :-o

Jaron Frost said...

Ah. I am once again reminded why I like reading your posts. Sorry if this comes off as frightening or whatever, but your writing is pretty inspiring. I agree with what you said about layers. I think you've got a pretty good handle on what it takes to be a good storyteller. That documentary was downright nearly believable. It all seemed like such solid and undeniable proof, and all because you knew what you were doing with the music and the graphs and all of that. I still love that video. I'm glad you're doing blogaday. It makes me want to do one too.