Totally Worth It! – Dylan Mercer Blog Post 13

I was sceptical at 1st of the utility of this class. My schedule this semester is packed to the brim with 23 credits and preparation for graduation. So naturally I was horrified at the amount of work this level of creativity demands. Especially since I haven’t used a single program we learned in class prior and I haven’t a creative bone in my body. I’m all analytic all the way down. Luckily the class was designed for the folks like me. Nursing me to creative life with clear examples, in depth dialogue and truths about creative procedures that are easy to follow. In all it turned out to be an awesome experience and probably the only class of my 7 that I will actively use and improve the skills learned.

It all came together when I was creating the undocumentary. On the previous projects I was creating a script in order to satisfy requirements. In this undocumentary I was creating a script to maximize the effect of my piece. I really felt the effects of creativity and sharing (digital) my truly new composed media. Also the video project made me realize the true value and utility of Photoshop and audio editing. Maybe it was that adobe primer was so easy and fun to use, but man am I hooked!

At this point I’m all chips in. My roommates and I already have 20+ ideas of awesome original YouTube movies we can make (and none of them involving “vulnerability”, imagine that). My summer will definitely be spent applying all these digital editing techniques and ever increasing my web presence. You all better subscribe to my YouTube…. in order to receive your never ending supply of Magic the Gathering video documents (common, you know you want to learn more lol).

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Digital Design and Sovereignty

Instead of using my last post to review the projects that I made this semester, I’d like to talk about the way this class changed my perspective on the Internet and culture in general. I see the essential question that defines this class as: “Why should I choose to learn how to create rather than being a passive consumer?”. On first glance, there seems to be no real reason not to accept the role of consumer in today’s society. We live in a world surrounded by a seemingly endless amount of content. It seems that we could live comfortably without ever having to create or contribute to the broader culture. And there is a significant barrier to the making of new objects. There is no sense of the “local” online. Every digital object must compete with every other object on the internet for the attention of the crowd (with some segregation based on language).

So why should we create if our efforts are highly unlikely to be successful? I think I have an answer. The act of individual creation is a way of reasserting our own sovereignty in a world increasingly ruled by experts. Walker Percy describes this loss of sovereignty in his essay “The Loss of the Creature”: 

“This loss of sovereignty is not a marginal process …. It is a generalized surrender of the horizon to those experts within whose competence a particular segment of the horizon is thought to lie.”

The act of creation allows us to reclaim the world from the experts and corporations and view the world as it really is rather than as we are told it should be. That’s why learning how to create and learning how to be a maker is valuable.

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My Final Remarks

You know, I showed up to this class the first day expecting something totally different than what has come out of it. A little photoshop, maybe some iMovie, too? Boy, was I wrong. As a little bit of a computer geek I always thought I understood digital media and that I was decent at composing it, too. Little did I know though, that there is much more to it than anyone could ever believe.

When people say computers have languages, immediately I think, or used to think: Java, C++, Visual Basic, and all that other programming jargon. But joining this class gave it a whole new perspective. Digital pieces don’t have to be that hard code that not many people understand. It can be plain English, just like composing a paper essay, except on steroids or something.

I’ve learned that composing digitally is such a dynamic way to tell stories, give information, etc. You can tell the same exact story in plain text on boring white paper and get your point across, but you can make a digital masterpiece that is much more appealing to the eyes, and even can appeal to other senses like hearing that evokes true emotion– emotion stronger than anything a paper essay could make you feel.

To me, that is what I got the most enjoyment and fulfillment out of learning in this class– that is except for the people. I’m quiet when we meet every Monday and Wednesday, and this class has had the biggest workload out of ANY class I’ve taken here at the University of Pittsburgh, but coming to class is fun and interesting, and thats due in large part to the group that has partaken in it. This could have easily been a toughie for me, but our group is very innovative, creative, and not to mention extremely helpful which made all the difference.  Thank you.

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Eternal Marks

We all dream about being part of a revolution: making an eternal mark on the world. If we didn’t  we wouldn’t be human. We all hope to be remembered. This hope is like a tiny thread connecting us to the conscious world; cut it, and we are unhinged. Take away all hopes, and a human becomes something unrecognizable. All that we know and all that we are is defined by our hopes.

Imagine all religions are fictitious. After life, there is nothing. Everyone turns off like a spent light bulb, and there is no heaven or hell. In this world, a person is reduced to the ideas and feelings that he put out for others to experience. Those are his only eternal marks on the world. Ever since the beginning of man, we have been striving in new ways to carve these marks into the world. In the beginning, they were physical: a pyramid, a tombstone, a sign… but those were limited by physical proximity. Only those that passed these monuments were truly affected by their presence. Now, we create digital marks: eternal carvings in a non-physical space that is immediately and simultaneously accessible to any and all corners of the globe.

This class has given me the tools to become part of this digital revolution. It has given me the ability to communicate on a global scale. The inherent hope in me to leave a mark on this world has been fueled, and I am excited about putting that to use.

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No One Likes Forks, Stick A Spork In It.

Composing Digital Media is a great, no wait that’s an understatement, the best alternative to other intensive writing courses offered at the University of Pittsburgh. To be honest, I took this class with the specific aims of avoiding a traditional English class. I have never been fond of traditional English courses for two reasons: the teacher chosen readings crammed into your cranium and the type until your fingers bleed essays. There is an enormous lack of freedom in these classes. Composing Digital Media is none of that, it gives the student all of the freedom they could ask for and allows them to be their own creative outlet. F***ing awesome!

I entered this class confident that I knew most of the digital mediums that would be taught. Wow was I wrong. I learned so much more than I already knew and enjoyed every second of it. I thoroughly enjoyed that the class had a predefined layout; however, there was great flexibility within the schedule. I would definitely suggest this course to fellow students who are looking to an amazing alternative to traditional English classes.



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5 Things Learned About the “Virtue”

Composing digital media…. even though it seems self explanatory, it took weeks to define. I’d like to reflect on the things that I’ve learned about Patience Carroll during the past three and a half months or so.


1)      She has absolutely no idea how to “unlearn” things. Fact. She had heard the term “unlearn” before and thought… how is that even a word? What is the necessity of “unlearning” something? Well, learning HTML around the year 2001 and trying to figure out how to compose a decent website with CSS3 in 2013 unmasked that concept for her. No matter what, she kept leaning on what she already knew rather than taking the new skills and methods for what they were- something totally different. Although she became moderately confident in the end, getting HTML and CSS to “talk to each other” (as Trisha puts it) was unexpectedly difficult to comprehend. This is one of her ‘littlest in scope’ but ‘largest in psychology’ successes of the semester.

2)      She really misses high school! What? How did every single project in this class somehow come back to reflecting on high school experiences? The photo narrative was a given- over ten pictures of her high school and an emotional description of what that building signified. Then we look at the audio documentary, which is less obvious, but totally had an undertone of worrying about the future’s uncertainty. The undocumentary featured social media woes, basically stemming from her fear that all of those pictures that people she barely talks to snapped of her drinking underage at house parties in high school are now going to bite her in the ass. What an idiot. Last, the meme remix. This might be totally unrelated and consequently the most creative of the semester’s projects- kick rocks, high school! You are weighing her down! Graduating in 2009 and again in 2013 is a surreal, fantastic, stressful, and indescribable mess of feelings!

3)      She’s unoriginal. But wait- THAT’S OKAY GUYS! Did you know that almost everything is unoriginal now? Do you know the difference between unoriginality and inspiration? She realizes now that much of the things she thought were unique or creative ideas that she had “come up with” in the past were likely subconscious recreations or borrowed ideas from other things she had seen. However, she now knows that she can take those things and manipulate them in ways that the original authors had never dreamed of. You know what comes out of that remix? Something original. She’d also like to thank her classmates and professor for unimaginable bouts of inspiration, and also some of jealousy, over the creative ingeniousness that she was surrounded by.

4)      She is a fast learner! She might have already known that, but she never put it to the test. Dreamweaver, CSS, Audacity, the newest version of Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Mac computers, various websites – some people would take a semester long course on just ONE of these technologies, but she managed to become competent in all of them in just a few short months! (By the way, did you know CCAC offers a class on Pinterest? Just Pinterest… WTF). She’s extremely proud of not giving up on any of these programs and hopes to learn more about them in the future. Seriously, how fun is Premiere Pro? And forget the tutorials and Google… watch the ones that tell you how to open the program, then skip the rest and figure it out on your own! It’s so much more fun and rewarding!

5)      She is extremely lucky. Luck – not a new concept, but one not everyone believes in. Also fact. To be able to share the same space to bump heads and coexist with some of the most creative, intelligent, entertaining, and comedic people she has ever met is something that no university class can guarantee. It was truly a lucky experience to meet so many unique and well rounded people to work with and create with even when the tasks seemed unnecessarily stressful. There’s no way to “make your own luck” in a situation where you have a never-ending syllabus of work ahead of you and dull people to commiserate with, but with an environment that you look forward to being in every day the work becomes less of a burden and more of an experience.

I hope this is just the beginning of what we learn about her.

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I stuck an evil spork in it


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