maddenGIFERATOR – The Wire version


I’ve been seeing these maddenGIFERATOR images in my Tumblr stream, so I thought I’d try one with a quote from The Wire. Apparently “I tell your wife, you tell mine” is an illegal use of words, so I had to censor it. Whatever. It’s all in the game.

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TV on the radio

One of the illustrious ds106 internauts came up with the idea of live tweeting an episode of The Wire. A very cool idea, especially for an online class, because it helps create a sense of community. So for Intro to Audio week, we’re playing episodes on ds106radio and live tweeting as we listen. It’s an interesting way to experience the show. So much of it is visual, and so much of the acting is in the eyes and expressions. All of that gets lost on the radio, but we get to focus purely on the sounds, and see (hear) just how much is going on in the audio track, and how much of the story it tells. Someone pointed out all the oldies in the soundtrack. That reminded me of the opening epigraph for the season, “Ain’t never gonna be what it was.” The nature of labor and its place in society has changed. In some of the characters, Frank Sobotka especially, I see a longing for the way things used to be. The oldies reinforce that. The epigraph has a certain fatalism to it though.

dock workers


Maggie Stough’s brilliant analysis of episode 4 ended with a photograph that seemed to have some significance. I was curious about it too, but didn’t think to look into it until she brought it up. Now, how do find out about a picture when it doesn’t have any information attached? I ran the URL of Maggie’s image through Google Image Search and found an article about the photographer, A. Aubrey Bodine. The picture is of men unloading a ship on Pratt Street in 1935 – Baltimore dockworkers from days gone by.

Getting back to audio, several of our wire106ers talked about the revelations regarding the complexity and impact of sound that they got from the Jen Ralston interview. I hope people take to audio, because we’ve been given the keys to the Tu/W/Th 9pm slot on ds106radio. It’s there for us to use, so let’s take advantage of it.

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What is digital storytelling?

There are lots of ways to tell stories. We’re used to words, spoken or written, and video, but there’s more. Pictures tell stories. Music tells stories. The web opens up a whole new territory. I stumbled upon Clubbo Records something like ten years ago, and it really changed my idea of what a story can be online. You can basically throw linearity (which some might consider the essence of storytelling – beginning, middle, end) out the window, and have the story take place across a variety of media, in a variety of places. The story behind Clubbo is that a musician wanted to write a novel about the business, and that idea morphed into a website for a fictional record label. There may not be an involving plot with a satisfying conclusion, but there’s a level of depth that you don’t find in traditional stories.



Bryan Alexander wrote the book on digital storytelling. Most people liked the chapter we read this week. The point was to get people to think about different types of storytelling. Really we’ve been doing that all along, looking at how pictures and sound tell the story of The Wire. There was mixed reaction to the WireScenes tumblr, and the consensus opinion seems to be that the Facebook page doesn’t qualify. That’s okay; disagreement can be healthy. But I think that all these are different ways of looking at The Wire. John Johnston’s amazing work on the Wire characters bulletin board and The Game super cut (YT) take it to a whole different level. These things add to the story, or they help us see it in a new ways. So does the Google map that Andrew Forgrave brought up. What is digital storytelling? It’s whatever we want it to be.

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Welcome to the machine

This week in The Internet Course, we will be looking at how the internet works. Members of the class have started collecting and connecting readings on the topic, and we’ll be discussing them on Tuesday and Thursday.

I’m going to throw a short video into the mix. This was done by Professor Michael Wesch and his class several years ago, and it looks at both how the internet has evolved and how it works, and hints at what that means for us.

We’ve actually all been looking at how it works, or at least part of it, through setting up our blogs and domains. The Web is made up of hyperlinked documents on the internet. When we blog and tweet and link, we’re building the web – more documents, more pages, more links. When we upload Cmaps to our domains, we’re interacting with the web at the server level. We put files in folders, making path names that make URLs.

The Cmap program generates HTML pages, which is another part of how the internet works. If we look at Dalina’s map, we can see the icons that indicate links back to the original readings and links out to further information. If we look at the source code behind it (CTRL-u in Firefox), we can see all the script and code that makes the page function. Most of it is pretty confusing if you don’t know the language, but if you scroll to the bottom you can see some a href tags that point to the hyperlinked documents.

The web is only part of the internet though. Where the Wizards Stay Up Late talked about some other fundamentals, like packet switching and servers. The readings cover topics like languages, search, the cloud, apps… I’m looking forward to where this goes.

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The Contest Somebody Should Win

For this assignment, I told myself I would pick something random and do whatever came up and make it about The Wire. So what do I get? The Contest Nobody Could Win (Video-Mashup Edition) The directions are to: Create a mashup of 6 video clips (either TV or Movie) no longer than 2 seconds each. See if anyone can guess your favorite films! Since we already know it’s about The Wire, it sort of defeats the purpose. So I picked an episode, not necessarily my favorite one, and tried to pull six clips that don’t give away which one it is. Can you figure it out?

I used MPEG Streamclip to grab the clips. The Edit->Select In and Edit->Select Out functions marked the clips, and then File->Export to Other Formats saved them. I did this for eight clips, then imported the six I liked the best into iMovie. There, I pulled exactly two second from each one and put them together. Here is the result:

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String’s Gonna Get You

Today’s Daily Create was to make a themed video montage. I took all the Stringer Bell clips I had saved from the first season and put them together with the song String’s Gonna Get You (YT) which I actually have on an LP. Youtube credits it to Rutabaga, but it’s really the legendary Andre Williams.

I made this with Audacity and iMovie. The song is about five minutes long, and it’s about a Texas sheriff, which doesn’t really fit the theme. In Audacity I cropped off the first few minutes with all the lyrics and applied the Fade-In effect at the beginning, then I exported it as an MP3. I imported that and my clips into iMovie. Since my clips only added up to a few seconds, I duplicated them over and over again until it filled up a couple minutes. I right-clicked on the clips and used the Detach Audio function to get rid of the sound. My sound file was still running longer than the video clips, so I cropped the end off. And there’s my String video, such as it is.

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Some Cmap help

I’m posting some links to earlier posts on Cmaps, just to make them a little easier to find. I also made a menu link on The Internet Course site for posts tagged cmap. Some of the posts aren’t there because they were tagged in the plural. This is an example of why it is important for people (including myself) to remember to use consistent tags. If it’s not spelled right, it’s not there.

Cmaps as web pages links to several help pages, and tries to walk through the process of getting a map linked in a blog post. Basically:
1. Upload the map JPG, GIF, and HTML files to your server using Cpanel and File Manager.
2. In WordPress, embed the JPG file in a blog post, like you would do with any image.
3. In WordPress, set the URL that the images links to to the URL for the HTML file you uploaded

Cmap Tools looks at a couple maps from an earlier semester as examples.

If anyone runs into trouble, let me or Jim know the problem and we’ll see what we can do to help.

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A new day in Bodymore, Murderland

01partyboat 02window

A new season begins, and right away we’re warned about where following the money might go. One place it goes is into the church, apparently. Why are people tripping over each other to give thousands to a church? I guess they want to make it into a monument to themselves, but it’s a mentality I don’t understand. I just like that shot. Somebody else blogged about the symbolism in it already.

05conversation 06conversation

I also like the way the conversation between Sobotka and the priest is shot, silhouettes in the stained glass window. There’s an interesting sort-of parallel in the images, except one’s looking up and the other’s looking down. Does that say something about their power relationship, or about their outlooks?

07missing 08missing

There’s another nice parallel between these two scenes. There’s supposed to be a shipment hidden in the car, but they can’t find it. There’s supposed to be some evidence in the storeroom. It’s missing as well. Both of those parallel the shipping yard, where one container is missing, and they try to lose another.

10alley epigraph

The architecture is different around the docks. Somehow it strikes me as being more run-down than the projects. Maybe that’s because it’s winter and no one is out. Maybe it’s because the projects are dying and the docks are dead. The epigraph suggests as much. That scene of the setting sun from off shore doesn’t exactly set a positive tone.


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Evolution of the Internet discussion



Tuesday’s panel discussion in The Internet Course took a while to find its rhythm, due to technical difficulties. Technical difficulties on my end, and between there and the class, made it difficult for me to keep up with it as well. But some good points were made in spite of it all.

We talked a lot about online dating, and while some of that might have meandered, it does touch on the way the internet has become entwined in our lives, how its a place where we live. In a way, we’re evolving with it.

The Wizards book talks about how they worked through the challenges of getting two computers to talk to each other, to connect. That grew into the ARPAnet and eventually into the internet as we know it. In that video from the 90s we saw how the internet had moved from connecting computers to connecting people, which, as Tim Berners-Lee says, is what the web is all about.

In the 90s video, we saw Howard Reingold talking (YT) about that very thing, people connecting in online communities, a nascent thing at the time. As online community has evolved, so has our sense of how we connect to each other, which we touched upon in Tuesday’s conversation.

The other thing that interested me about the video was the question of what makes the internet different from Prodigy or Compuserve. Brendan Kehoe responded (YT) that the internet is not owned by a company or a conglomerate. I think that’s been evolving in a way, as Google has an outsized influence on the web and how we experience it, along with other large online portals that determine what to show based on personalization algorithms.

I’m looking forward to where Thursday’s discussion takes us.

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The Red Queen


05redqueenWhen I saw this shot, I thought of The Manchurian Candidate. It’s probably something I’m reading into it rather than something the makers of The Wire intended, but there is a parallel in that they both feature a mother convincing her son to sacrifice himself for some alleged greater good – the family or the party. The red is the same as in the hat Bubs used with the Barksdale crew. Here it’s telling us, the viewers, that she’s an important player in the organization. That fence in front of the camera sort of makes it feel like we’re spying on them too.

06dangelo 07orange 09couch 01garage

Last time around, D stuck out like a sore thumb in the visiting room. Here he blends right in, like he’s resigned to being in jail. Then there’s that telltale orange again, in her little folder that’s plea bargaining everyone into prison. And then everything is different. The orange couch, empty at the end of the last episode, is gone and replaced by a black one. I just like that shot of the garage – the almost monochrome feel, the lines of the ceiling, the sense of perspective. It sets a sense of atmosphere.

04avon  02levy 03string

And then there’s the conversation – Avon is all about family, and Levy and String, internally, are having none of it. But it’s all in the game…


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