Showing posts from June, 2012

5 Things You Should Know When Giving a Presentation

You will have to give presentations for the rest of your life--throughout college and during your career--so here are some suggestions for making them count. According Dr. Susan Weinschenk there are 5 Things Every Presenter Should Know About People to get audiences informed, inspired, and motivated.

Here's an informative short animated video illustrating Weinschenk's points:

So what are the five points?

1. People learn best in 20-minute chunks. This is true for most mammals. I know that I can only make my horse work for twenty minutes before he decides to join the Rodeo and buck me off. Dog trainers say the same thing--well, maybe not the bucking off part.

2. Multiple sensory channels compete. Don't fill your PowerPoint slides with text--once your audience starts reading slides they stop listening. Here's what I do, I print off my slides and write my notes on them. I don't repeat what's on the slide, and I only put a small amount of copy of slides.

3. Wha…

Reading Beyond the Plot: 9 Graphic Novels

People often wonder how (and why) a college professor would assign graphic novels (aka comics) to a college classroom. Well, the folks over at The Best Degrees have provided some answers in their article 9 Graphic Novels That Revolutionized the Comic Industry.

Their post is not entitled the "9 Greatest Graphic Novels Ever" (I would then have to argue some of their choices), but rather it is a look at graphic novels that changed the way we look at comics. They include links (click on the pics in Best Degree's post) to some really exceptional analysis essays, essays that anybody writing essays (that's you) should look at as A+ examples of what can be achieved. These are not just book reviews--they go beyond rating comics--they analyze certain aspects of specific texts and critically explore rhetorical strategies you may not have tried before.

Best Degrees places Kurt Busiek's Astro City in the number 8 position because of the way it "showed the comic …

It's All Twitter's Fault

New hires (that's code for young adults) can't spell, use proper grammar, or write an intelligent memo. At least that's what some employers and grammar experts would have you believe in a recent WSJ article entitled This Embarrasses You and I* Grammar Gaffes Invade the Office in an Age of Informal Email, Texting and Twitter.

The article catalogs the extreme lengths some companies employ for a standard English image, such as having employee letters reviewed before mailing, 25-cent grammar fines, and in-house tutoring. Ruined advertising and a tarnished company image provide employer justification, but to me it seems a lot of this could be avoided by a good proofreading.

These examples triggered a couple "new hire" memories of my own. First, my boss wasn't worried about poor grammar, but bad language, so every time an employee dropped an F-bomb in the office, he or she had to pay the can. Secondly, my boss had spelling problems of his own and creat…

Ray Bradbury Predicted the Future

When reading or watching science fiction we often run across products or futuristic visions. But if one looks at the past works of science fiction, say from sixty years ago, we can see just how prescient a certain author or cinematographer is or was.

Ray Bradbury was one of those prescient visionaries that predicted among other things: spy satellites, automatic teller machines, cell phones and flat screen TVs. Many of his books are classics: "There Will Come Soft Rain," and Fahrenheit 451 are just two. As you look at this infographic from Ria Novosti, think about recent creators and their predictions. What do you see in science fiction that will become a reality for you or your children.

Personally, I want my hover car!

The Earliest Cinema

European Cave Art!

According to Open Culture, Marc Azéma came up with the idea that paintings in Paleolithic caves are the first sequential art (think flip books). Others compare these 30,000 year-old cave paintings that dot the European continent to comics (think panel-to-panel visuals).

In 2010, the award-winning filmmaker, Werner Herzog, created a 3-D documentary entitled The Cave of Forgotten Dreams where Herzog gained extraordinary permission to film the caves using lights that emit no heat. But Herzog being Herzog, this is no simple act of documentation. He initially resisted shooting in 3D, then embraced the process, and now it’s hard to imagine the film any other way. Just as Lascaux left Picasso in awe, the works at Chauvet are breathtaking in their artistry. The 3D format proves essential in communicating the contoured surfaces on which the charcoal figures are drawn. Beyond the walls, Herzog uses 3D to render the cave’s stalagmites like a crystal cathedral and to capture…

Film's Dark Predictions

Films set in the future often present a dark dystopia where people are barely surviving after a variety of catastrophes -- zombie apocalypse or global pandemic -- leaving society and people broken, alone, and in shambles.

Michael Hobson over at Tremulant Design created a beautiful infographic entitled "The Future According to Films" and records dozens of movies with cyborgs, underwater worlds, hell, precogs, aliens, anarchy, and shenanigans.

If you like science fiction, horror, and/or fantasy, here's a movie list for you....which are your favorites? How does this visual film timeline square up with your own vision of the future?

Think about your own essays. Can you see how a visual timeline can make material easier to place in history, making events easier to connect? Think about using one in your next history paper.

For essays where you have to make a prediction, say about the effects of a proposal, do you see how you can record the steps of a process along a …

Top 10 Most Read Books

Top 10 Books by Jared Fanning

1. The Holy Bible
2. Quotations from Chairman Mao
3. Harry Potter
4. The Lord of the Rings
5. The Alchemist
6. The DaVinci Code
7. The Twilight Saga
8. Gone with the Wind
9. Think and Grow Rich
10. The Diary of Anne Frank

Information graphics are great additions to papers, especially ones that look this good. They can convey a massive amount of information in the briefest glance.

Here's what I mean. If you wrote The Top 10 Most Read Books as a paragraph it would begin, "The top ten most read books in the world refers to the number of books sold, not printed. The number one book is The Holy Bible which sold 3,900,000,000 copies. The number two spot is occupied by Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, selling 820,000,000." You would have to read a whole lot more before you got to "The Diary of Anne Frank is the 10th most-read book in the world having sold 27,000,000 copies." See what I mean? This could be a reall…

The Great Depression: From Farmer to Tramp

"1927 made $7000 in cotton. 1928 broke even. 1929 went in the hole. 1930 went in still deeper. 1931 lost everything. 1932 hit the road.”

The Great Depression began on October 29, 1929 and lasted until America's entry into World War II.

During an economic depression farmers usually remain economically stable, but during the Great Depression the U.S. not only experienced an economic crash, but also an environmental disaster known as the dust bowl. It destroyed croplands and sent farmers packing up to look for work, like the man and his family in this photograph.

According to Open Culture, "the Farm Security Administration took on the task of 'introducing America to Americans' through photography. The FSA hired Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and other artists to capture images of ordinary Americans, specifically poor farmers."

Many of the Farm Administration's photographs have been missing for decades, but recently a NYC library curator …

Fan Fiction is Good for You

Do you write stories set in the universe of your favorite comic book, movie, or novel? Do you keep your fanfiction life a secret from friends and family? Well, it's time to declare your passion. Why? "Because [you]’re creating paracosms — an activity that, research is showing, builds creative skills that pay off in real life," says Clive Thompson over at Wired.

What is a paracosm, you ask? "Paracosms are the fantasy worlds that many dreamy, imaginative kids like to invent when they’re young. Some of history’s most creative adults had engaged in 'worldplay' as children." What's more people who engage in this kind of activity are more likely to be creative as adults. In 2002 researchers Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein conducted an elegant study. They polled recipients of MacArthur genius grants — which reward those who’ve been particularly creative in areas as diverse as law, chemistry, and architecture — to see if they’d created paracosms a…

"Truth Nothing But Shadows of the Image"

Plato expressed this idea in his "Allegory of the Cave" from The Republic. But what does it mean? If you live in a dark cave with other prisoners and suddenly you are released what would be your response? How would you see the world outside? Would you return to the cave with sun-dazzled eyes that slowly fill with darkness? Would you enlighten your fellow prisoners?

Franz Kafka's nightmare parable "Before the Law" asks, "Do you believe the law accessible to everyone?" Should it be?

These are questions asked in two short films from texts often assigned in college (or high school)--Plato's The Republic and Franz Kafka's The Trial. As you watch these animated images (Orson Welles narrates Plato's cave allegory and Kafka's parable) think about this: How is reality an illusion? Do you have an obligation to the unenlightened? How can you apply these parables to today's society?

Oh, yeah, what does this have to do with Joh…

2012 Summer Reading

The folks over at created a summer reading flow chart just for you! In between summer jobs, socializing, and sleeping, you may find yourself in need of a book - many of these texts are available free online, or even better free from your local library.

This list contains fiction and non-fiction books for all tastes. There are a few graphic novels, although I would add Watchmen if you haven't read it yet. Think about the classes you need to take in the Fall. If you have to take U.S. History, I can definitely recommend McCollough's John Adams. For you Administration of Justice majors, try Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Something to consider, even if you aren't looking forward to psychology, sociology, or English (how can that be?), these are all GREAT books that will keep you entertained.

So what's on your reading list?
Via and USC Rossier Online

Ray Bradbury R.I.P.

Ray Bradbury died Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at the age of 91. Remembered for his science fiction works such as Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, and The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury was a profilic writer who helped science fiction escape "pulp" status and legitimizing a whole genre.

In 2001, Bradbury offered twelve pieces of advice to aspiring writers. Even though most of your college writing will be essays which many see as not very creative, if you want your Professor to be engaged (and therefore entertained--that's a good thing) in what you're writing take Bradbury's advice from Open Culture:

>>"Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. 'Worth waiting…