Monday, April 28, 2014

Insites on Text Analysis Tools

Here is a word cloud and text analysis that I quick conducted on Voyant Tools for the Edgar Allen Poe short story The Cask of Amontillado. I made a word cloud on Wordle because Voyant would not let me remove the stop words for some reason, the site is fussy sometimes. The story is about a guy sealing his friend in a wine cave after chaining him up when he was all hopped up on wine from the cave. Just from the quick glance at the word cloud and commonly used keywords, I definitely know that the story takes place in a cave, by use of words like catacombs, recess, vaults, and crypt. There is also the use of a great deal of Spanish or Italian words and names, which would make someone determine that the story takes place in one of the two countries, even though we are never really told where they are at.

If someone were to conduct a distant reading on this though, that would be about as far as they get. There is nothing in the Corpus to suggest what the story is about and what the outcome of the story is. So, in reality these are good tools to understand different things within a text, but it is always better to read the text before you dig in and analyze it. Below is some screenshots of Voyant and Wordle.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Useful Perspective from Adam Hammer

On Friday I went to two separate presentation from Adam Hammer, who is the Director of Media Relations for Outlook Magazine at Saint Cloud State University.  He is also a singer songwriter that travels around the region performing his art. You can check out his website at

I got a great deal of insight about what it takes to get into mass media professions in today's world, and what classes I should focus on while in college. From what he said I should get my hands into a little bit of everything having to do with writing, audio and video editing, and web design. The biggest thing that he put out was that we need to focus on the written word, in other words we need to know how to tell a story. .

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Commodification of Kurt Cobain

When I think of music now days, I compare it to a factory assembly line, in that with the shows like American Idol, The X Factor, and The Voice just seem to keep pumping new music stars out on a monthly basis. But is this really different than what has been happening in the music industry since the times of Elvis Presley? Well yes and no. America has been commodifying music to people's tastes since the onslaught of rock and roll and probably even before that. It always seems that one or two bands were discovered at any certain time and it began a craze for whatever type of music. Some good examples are bee bop bands of the fifties, the surfer and psychedelic rock of the sixties, punk and disco in the seventies, and post punk and hair bands in the eighties. God was there ever going to be and end to the bandwagon of dudes in lace and makeup that sang like someone had clamped a vice grip on their family jewels? And the there was our savior, Kurt Cobain.

When Nirvana hit in 1991, it was like a breath of fresh air. Finally the death of the hair scene. Everything seemed to change overnight. Suddenly the record companies were scrounging for bands from Seattle and the west coast to sign. Other good music from the likes of Pearl Jam, Sound Garden, and Alice in Chains came along. Life was beautiful, for a while anyway. Back then the demon was MTV, which got ahold of the grunge scene, and everything else that was different and lumped it into "alternative music" which really did no justice for all the different bands and musicians that were lumped in there. If you want different we'll give you all kinds of stuff that's different. Unfortunately this was all a commodity, and once again crap music started to permeate the scene. Factory assembled copies of the original, might be good in the automobile industry, but sucks in music. Eventually Cobain died in 1994 and the scene pretty much imploded on itself. Around 1997 we saw the first Brittney Spears video, and just like the utopian scene began, just like that it is gone. A great deal of those bands never went away like the hair bands did, but the feeling was never the same as it was in the early nineties.  


Friday, February 28, 2014

Mobile Devices and New New Media

When you look at new new media and the place that mobile devices play in the big scheme of things, one thing is for certain. Mobile devices have made communication universal, in that they allow almost anyone to get on the internet and post, or tweet, or load a video at any time and anywhere. There really is no more finding a computer if you don't have one or finding internet service because it is all right there in the palm of your hand. This in turn has led to an eruption in the amount of media that is constantly being exchanged, which in turn brings about constant growth to data and cellular systems. All of the sudden we are watching videos from around the world and seeing more of what is going on in the world. The down fall is that it has taken away interpersonal communication and really made us that much more lazy.

Friday, February 21, 2014

YouTube Promotes Obnoxious Fruit

A friend of mine, by the name of Kelly Chrisman, turned me on to The Annoying Orange one night at a little watering hole I used to frequent.

According to Wikipedia,

"The Annoying Orange is an American comedy web series created by former Minnesota film student and MTV production assistant Dane Boedigheimer in 2009. It stars its creator as an anthropomorphic orange who annoys other fruits, vegetables, and various other objects by using jokes, which are sometimes crude-humored. The YouTube channel "Annoying Orange" has over 3.5 million subscribers.

Despite the show's negative critical reception, the show's popularity after its first episode led it to become the subject of a TV series, a video game, a range of toys, and a t-shirt line. Other accessories, such as costumes of the series characters, have also appeared on the market for the company."

This is just an example of how YouTube can make average everyday people that produce small projects into rock star status overnight.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stop Motion Film

Here is a small stop motion film I created with text from the Grateful Dead song Scarlet Begonias. I like the first half, but I was getting tired with the second part so I kind of rushed it, but since I created it on Movie Maker, I can always redo the second part. This was a fun experience with stop motion, as I have never created any before. I will definitely try to integrate it with future projects.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

140 Characters

Mass communication at 140 characters a pop. I used to think that Twitter was just exactly like Facebook, so what was the point of being redundant? Why would I want to pump out the same information 5 different times to the same people, whether they be followers, friends, or whatever the newest thing is. So I did a little research on Twitter to figure out what all the hype was about. The biggest thing that separates Twitter from the rest of the social media sites is its simplicity. With keeping Tweets limited to 140 characters and only allowing links on posts the speed at which Twitter moves is unreal. Pretty cool if you are wanting to comment on what gibberish Bill O'Reilly is spewing out on Fox News, or what Botox Barbra has to say on The View, or even to announce your thoughts on a particular show on the tube; all showing up on the bottom of the screen in real time. Mass communication at its finest. My one major problem with Twitter though is people's stupidity at the speed of light. It is bad enough on Facebook, but only certain people can see it. Even if you have your security settings on, all it takes is for one person that doesn't have any security settings to re-tweet a post, and you are done. Embarrassment by the masses. So here's to the many politicians, and stars who have got themselves in the hot seat or even ruined careers all because of 140 characters.   

Friday, February 7, 2014

Strange Maps Success

Strange Maps is a blog in which Frank Jacobs comments about strange maps that he has collected over the years. According to Jacobs, "some of the maps are real, some are fiction, and some are what if maps." Either way, he has very good insight and an interesting way of dissecting different maps into the reality or fantasy of what they are or could be. Jacobs began this blog on WordPress in 2006 and now writes for Big Think, and has wrote 645 posts thus far. His most famous post is  "US States Renamed for Countries with Similar GDPs" has been viewed more than 587,000 times. There has been a book published by Penguin Books in 2009 that contains a compilation of his many blogs called, "Strange Maps, An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities."   

Jacobs is not actually a cartographer, but has had a fascination with maps since he was a kid. Most of the maps that he posts about are old maps that were hand drawn, and he views them as more of an art form. In an interview with Jacobs on Public Radio International, he explains that a great deal of the maps that he writes about now are ones that are sent to him by viewers of his blog, which accounts to how successful his blog is and to how many people there are out there that are also fascinated with old maps.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Getting Doug with High

This is a Podcast that I found on YouTube called Getting Doug with High, made by a pro-marijuana advocate/comedian named Doug Benson. There are many different episodes already made, with a new weekly Podcast every Wednesday at 4:20 PM... go figure. On this Podcast, Benson interviews different comedians for forty five minutes while they sit around and smoke pot. It is very funny, that is, if you get into that kind of humor.

Ok, let's get to the point. There has obviously been a changing attitude towards marijuana use in the United States in the last ten years as we have seen with the medicinal marijuana laws, and most recently with the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in both Colorado and Washington. But why the extreme shift and changing attitude about the drug/plant? I think that social media has a great deal to do with it. First of all the grass roots movements like NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and SAFER (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation), have taken up shop with all the different social networking sites and used them as a base for informing people about the truth with  marijuana laws and use. But it hasn't stopped there. There are posts all over different sites from the average everyday Joe that discredit the federal government's demonization of marijuana. I think that this has really opened the eyes of many Americans to the realities of the war on drugs, and how one sided and flawed it truly is, especially in the case of marijuana. This is a good example of how new media can present the truth in the form of direct democracy.    

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Spark Notes

So I was thinking the other day about websites that I already use that fuse English and New Media together, and Spark Notes came to mind. I used this site quite extensively with my Early American Literature course, because obviously some of the early American literature can be very hard to follow. I would always read the summary and analysis before I read the different reading assignments, not to get out of reading the material, but because it would give me more of an idea what to look for in the text and gave me better understanding of what I was reading. Another really cool page on that sight is No Fear Shakespeare. Personally I did not know that I liked Shakespeare before I found this page, because I could not follow the old writing in the plays. In No Fear Shakespeare, the original text is on the left column of the page, and in the right column is the translation into contemporary text. So, not only does it have the contemporary text for us average everyday readers to comprehend what is happening, but since the two texts are side by side anyone can compare the two and get a better understanding of how to read that old crusty text.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Experience with New Media

I have had extensive experience with the Microsoft Office platform. I am very proficient with Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint, and have some experience with Publisher and SharePoint. I have basic knowledge of code writing with Visual Basic and with C, and have had training in In Design. With the military I work a great deal with Acrobat and Lotus Forms to fill out the ungodly amount of forms that we work with in our quaint bureaucratic system.

When it comes to Social Media, I tend to keep things as simple as possible. I do have a Facebook account just like the rest of the planet, but I do not use Twitter, Pinterest, or any other Social Media sites because I find it redundant. I am a member of two different forums. I am on the Grateful Dead forum on, so I can discuss all things Grateful Dead with like minded Deadheads. I also belong to a forum called S1net that deals with military personnel issues, like questions of how to complete certain paperwork, or discussing new policies that have recently been implemented. I do have a YouTube account and am kind of a junky when it comes to watching stupid videos. One other form of media that I use quite extensively is Sugar Megs and to download live shows from many different groups. I actually have an App on my IPhone where I can stream almost every Grateful Dead show that was ever recorded. I like this App a lot!

Some of my favorite sites for the convergence of English and New Media are the interactive sites found on many of the news organization websites, like New York Times, CNN, and believe it or not, even Fox News. Another site that I have played around with is an interactive site put out for Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday at anyone can go in, browse through, and read about his many different accomplishments. I am also being introduced to various sites in my Informatics class that deal with word clouds and analyzing different texts. I find it very interesting that I can analyze and break down texts or websites with just the click of a mouse. I think in the long run, these sites will be useful in analyzing and improving my own writing.     

I used to use MySpace before I joined Facebook. I'm sure the website is still there, but since no one really uses it anymore, I don't use it either. I don't really think I've tried to open up that account in probably three years. Maybe it's still there, who knows. One site that I used to use extensively was called This was an stupendous site where you could upload, or look at, examples of how certain military paperwork was supposed to be filled out. This site saved my hind quarters on many an occasion. Unfortunately I think some idiot put classified information on there, and the site was shut down, which still really ticks me off to this day.  

I guess I am not totally old fashioned after all...


Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Hello, my name is Dustin Drew and I am an English for New Media major at Dakota State University. I chose this major because I have always enjoyed reading and writing. I have a fascination with the novels and poems of the Beat Generation, mainly Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. I hope to use this major to pursue a career in multimedia web design, as there seems to be a fast growing market for people with these skills. I also chose this major to hone my own writing skills and eventually write a few books of my own.