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Progress Report #2

1) what did you accomplish last week?

Well, the thing about that is that I spent all of last week sick with who knows what. I didn’t leave my bed for an entire week so obviously, not much got done. I’ve spent the last 48 hours working almost non-stop trying to get myself caught back up but missing an entire week really puts the pressure on. It’s still flowing pretty well and it’s just a matter of getting everything down.

2) What are your goals for next week?

The first draft is almost completed, so it’s now a matter of getting that done and giving it to as many people as possible to proofread and go through the editing process. On top of that, I’m trying to work in various images to help the text move along.

3) what’s going well?

The writing for the most part is going well. Information is plentiful and I almost feel like I have too much to say.

4) what’s not going well?

In lieu of having too much to say, I fear I may not be saying enough. I have about 6 pages and I’m not sure how important length is for the purposes of this project, while I feel I’m putting forth a great amount of analytical and argumentative information. Furthermore, knowing which information  goes where has been tripping me up some. I’ve found myself moving paragraphs around feeling that they fit in better under other subcategories. I’m probably making this harder on myself, but I’m kind of in freak out mode after missing out on an entire week of work.

5) what help do you need from classmates and the instructor?

Beats the hell out of me. If anyone could volunteer to to be a proofreader for me once I get my first draft completed it would help out immensely.

Progress Report

1) what did you accomplish last week?

After we discussed my outline, you had asked me to get down at least 5 paragraphs keying on certain points. I managed to do that and then some and am really feeling like the content of this is coming together that it might actually have some real substance to it in terms of the project goals.

2) What are your goals for next week?

To continue on in my writing process and have a complete first draft.

3) what’s going well?

As I said, my talking points are really coming together and I’m feeling very confident about this article now.

4) what’s not going well?

I’ve got too many ideas and my brain likes to stray from my topics alot. When I began my “Why Play?” section, I ended up with 3 paragraphs that I ended up being able to section off into my following talking points on the “social aspect” and others. So far it’s a lot of congested thinking and I fear that I may be getting a bit convoluted to where sorting it out later could be difficult; but I’m working through it. It’s categorizing my talking points and knowing what goes where and what should be left out all together that I feel I’m having the most trouble with.

5) what help do you need from classmates and the instructor?

I’m honestly not really sure at the moment. It’s all sort of flowing out of me at a nice comfortable pace. I might like to ask my fellow students that if they were reading such an article, what might they expect to see? Aside from that, I got the majority of the help I needed at the beginning and now everything is coming together quite nicely.

My Project Proposal

This was a difficult assignment to finally center on an idea. Eventually, after looking back on our previous assignments and the echoes of Gunther Kress still ringing in my head about semiotics, a constant theme in my pictures from week one became more and more clear. One of the best examples I was able to document and that continued to manifest itself for me was in advertisements and the various kinds of signs that are used throughout.

Ever since I started school some 3 years ago I’ve been slowly working on an entrepreneurial project with my parents. I even eluded to it in last weeks assignment – WoobieHouse.com. I have consistently been able to insert pieces of it into my scholarly projects where applicable and I see no need to sway from that path. As it stands, we’ve little left to get done before the actual launch of their site, but the things that need be done I am incapable of completing on my own. It still requires some extensive back-end coding and security implementations before it’s safe for going public. However, in lieu of that, I’ve decided to preempt the finish of the site and figure out a way to best let the public know of our site upon its completion. Therefore, I’m proposing to enact an advertising campaign for WoobieHouse.com.

Woobie House is an idea that I suggested to my mother after she had been making these personalized fleece blankets for charities and charity auctions. She would make them and donate them but in between she’d be barraged with constant requests from friends, family and strangers alike to make them one. She tried not to disappoint but requests were so many that she became overwhelmed and it finally dawned on us that with this kind of a demand, we could turn it into an actual home business; and so it began.

To what extent, however, is the big question? I’m still working on that and I hope to get ideas from you the professor and my fellow students throughout this process. On the other hand, I do have a number of ideas floating around that, with respect to our current reading, now seems a bit more clear, if you will. For example, Kress, in Multimodality continued to emphasize cultural relevance and the need to target your specific audience. So far, a lot of work has been put into this project and we’re well aware of our target demographic. Specifically, we’re dealing with…wait for it….mothers. More specifically, we believe that the majority of traffic we will receive will be mothers ranging from twenty-five to thirty years of age. But woobies are not age specific. I own one myself. So really it’s going to be mothers and friends and family of anyone who has children really. That’s one of the beauties of tapping into this particular and as of yet untapped market. But what kind of advertising would be relevant to fleece blankets?

Am I dealing with a budget here, or is money no object? For now, I’m proposing to approach it as if money were not an issue to be dealt with and try to commence with the full nine. I’m talking radio and television ads, newspapers (assuming they’ll still be in print), magazines, posters, web banner ads, business cards, sky writing, banners behind planes, on city buses, etc. To me, this goes to the very heart of our in class definition of multimodality — Multimodality can be defined as the production, study, and perceived meaning of modes used to communicate ideas, messages, and information. These different modes — images, alphabetic text, motion, color, texture, sound, smell — are influenced by social, economic, and cultural environments – verbatim. If an advertising campaign doesn’t scream multimodality, I don’t know what does.

Multimodality Examples

In keeping with the flow of our previous project and based on my understanding of the reading, as well as our current definition, I am using some of my own work to demonstrate multimodality.

First, is WoobieHouse

This is a website I’ve built/am building for my parents home business. My mother makes these custom made-to-order fleece blankets and I’ve been slowly putting together an e-commerce site for them to expand their clientele. I obviously didn’t realize it at the time, but as a web designer we embrace and utilize multimodality in virtually everything we do and this site is a testimony to that. It displays simple text and colorful buttons for those who wish to just get on with things once they arrive. But also contains contextual information about the site and the product right on the main page for anyone who likes to take things a bit slower. At the same time, it uses simple graphics and a mixture of warm and cold colors, indicative of the blankets themselves, to help keep people’s attention, but also boasts a flash based slideshow that helps to give each potential customer a feeling for the general use of the sites product. So in short, we’ve got text (and that includes the different modes of HTML, CSS, PHP and javascript that go unnoticed but play a crucial part in the presentation), color, standard web images and flash all working together to invoke emotions of down home, rustic kind of feelings that ideally make people want to purchase one of these blankets.

My other 2 projects are both flash swf files that I apparently cannot embed onto this blog site, so now I’m trying to find alternatives. I may still discuss them here and just bring them in on a flash drive but not sure yet.

McCloud’s Categories

Chicago is a multimodal town…

“Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs” – Signs by Tesla

Gunther Kress’ book Multimodality is specifically subtitled “A social semiotic approach to contemporary communication”. By semiotic, he’s referring to the philosophy of signs and symbols and their general function. You can tell as you read it that this is something he’s incredibly passionate about, sometimes to my detriment as I felt he was often speaking over my head. One point he kept coming back to, among others, was the emphasis that culture plays in semiotics. Much like the photograph above, a foreigner visiting this country/city for the first time might have no idea why the words “Go Bears” would be on the side of a building.

Similarly, this photo is performing the same function, in the same location, but with a completely different message. One that, surprisingly, even a good number of the Chicago locals aren’t familiar with the message being given. In this particular case, these buildings are representing CPD or “Chicago Police Department” and the badge numbers of officers who’ve recently fallen in the line of duty. Evidently, this is a sign whose content is conveyed by a specific sign maker to a smaller and even more specific audience; something Kress takes great pains to emphasize over and over again.

No Parking for street cleaning

The difference between these pictures points to the contrast of function vs bureaucracy, where the desires of the sign maker seem to trump the communication to a vast public. A slightly more simple version of this can be seen in the picture of the sign on the tree, where the signage is specifically catered to a target audience of the few people who might actually be parking on that curb. To passers by who have no intention of parking, the content of this particular sign is of no concern so the fact that it contains far too much information to read as one would drive by is irrelevant. Newcomers should take heed to notice it however because they could find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Furthermore, both of these signs are examples of using available resources, albeit in complete different contexts, to achieve their goal. Come to think of it, it’s also an example of what Kress was talking about when he spoke of globalization and technology changing semiotics over the last 30 years; where advanced technology (a skyscraper sign) vs old technology (a piece of paper wrapped around a tree), two completely different modes of semiotics, are still applicable while being completely different.

Old and New Technology working together

While certainly not encompassing everything he spoke of, these were the main points that really sank in with me. Kress seemed to continue to reintroduce these points over and over just using different language and examples. It’s likely this was done with great intention in order to drive home the point, so to speak. I’ll finish this off with the remainder of the images I took in documenting that Chicago is in fact, a multimodal town.

Windy City Gyros - example of a culture specific sign

RedEye Newspaper distribution kiosk

The seating chart of Wrigley Field posted outside the ticket office

Wrigley Field sign, an oldie but a goodie

Cubs insignia, another mode of semiotics

Advertisements on the CTA.

Route number and street displayed on the front of the bus

Bubba Gump Shrimp logos on the umbrellas outside the restaurant at Navy Pier.

Harry Carry's Tavern at Navy Pier, using not only the famous name but also the various signs/symbols of the beers they carry.

"Let's Play Two" engraved on statue outside of Wrigley Field

Contrasting image of one sign declaring not to climb on the big noodle, while the sign on the noodle only reinforces that you love it.

"Chicago Board of Trade" carved into the building

Sports Authority Store - All signs in neon, some to illustrate the level of the parking garage, the others to tell the world what kind of products they carry.