Class project topic idea: The holidays

4 10 2009

I propose that our Web storytelling class project topic should be “The holidays.” We have the unique advantage during fall quarter to experience Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (preparations), Chanukah and a number of other American and religious holidays. Additionally, international students may celebrate their own or variations of the aforementioned holidays.

I believe this topic is broad enough that everyone can focus on something different and explore their own interests. Some ideas could be:

  • Costume shopping
  • Trick or Treating
  • Pumpkin patches
  • Thanksgiving dinner
  • Black Friday (holiday shopping)
  • Christmas bazaars
  • Student holidays away from home
  • Christmas tree hunting/decorating
  • Traditional holiday foods
  • Holiday food banks/non-profit events

Students should have little trouble accessing venues and events related to the holidays, as many of the above are public events. Students can also think about documenting their own family traditions or take a journalistic approach and join a family, group, or religious affiliation that interests them and report their experiences.

The holidays will be of high interest to broad audiences by the time the videos are finalized in early December. We could possibly attach these videos to holiday stories that university communications will be writing for the university Web site, which could gain the MCDM program exposure as well.


Shaping songs: Music distribution and its affect on the art

22 01 2009

Ever since Columbia produced the first vinyl record in 1948, the physical distribution of music has affected its form.

Albums of songs could only be as long as records could physically hold, which affected how artists wrote music. The length of songs and albums expanded with evolutions of vinyl and newer, popular distribution forms — from 8-track to cassette to CD and digital, which we have today.

What’s beyond digital and how will that affect songs and albums? By researching the cause and effect of physical distribution forms of the past, I hope to explore in my term project what the future may offer.

As Albin Zak says in The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records, “Even if rock and roll had its roots in live performance traditions, it was nevertheless… first and foremost a recorded music. Its rapid rise in popularity was a result not of live performances but of mass radio exposure, which was fed by records — primarily the new and affordable 45-rpm singles that were the staples of teenagers’ record collections.” These 45-rpm records were physically limited to holding approximately three minutes of music on one side. Thus, songs of the pioneering rock and roll era were written to be within three minutes — forever shaping popular music.

In contrast, digital distribution forms today free musicians from having to create music around physical constraints. For example, Nine Inch Nails last year released “Ghosts I-IV,” comprising of nine-track instrumental EPs, 36 tracks in total.

This freedom is not unchallenged. Within popular music, there is tension between artistic creativity and popularity, which continues to be driven by traditional song forms — shaped by distribution methods of decades past.

This term project will examine the history of music distribution and its affect on the art today and in the future.

Term project proposal: From wax to zeros and ones

13 01 2009

I’d like to look at the evolution of the music distribution.

I’d like to look at how music delivery moved from paper to wax to cassette to 8-track to CD to digital — and everywhere in between. I’d like to look at this through the scope of how technological advancements enabled new distributions. I believe I’ll have plenty of scholarly sources to draw from for this research.

Considering the long history of music distributions, I may look at “mass distribution” to narrow my scope, but would be open to any feedback about how else I can define this term project.

Initial source for term project

13 01 2009

As I am looking at the evolution of music distribution services, this article on the “Alternate distribution strategies for digital music” should be fitting. The abstract is short, but I hope this article will contribute to coloring how companies attempted to expedite the digital distribution of music after the turn of the century.

Abstract: “Digitization of music has created opportunities to reengineer the supply chain and improve its efficiency. But how will it play out?”

Premkumar, G. P. 2003. Alternate distribution strategies for digital music. Commun. ACM 46, 9 (Sep. 2003), 89-95. DOI=