8 – The Database

Week 8 –  From Simple to Complex: Participatory Media Meets the Database

Work Plan

This week we look at how transmedia works and spaces are taking advantage of the power of the database.  In fact, you could argue that all of the work we have studied in this course is an emergent and vital new use of the database, what some are calling “database documentary” and of course, the database archive as a living dynamic entity to give three-dimensional and dynamically shifting views of a story.

These examples of participatory use around the database format move from simple and straightforward to complex and multi-layered. All three of these works have some powerful connections in the ways that they draw us in as participants, while keeping us distanced as observers. Please consider the qualities of data-driven journalism and how the database is changing our informational architecture, for the good and in the case of privacy issues, the disturbing.

Term Project:  Week 8 Benchmarks

  • Third week iteration of group projects’ public engagement phase underway — campaign continues through Week 10
  • Can you report on any surprising issues that have come up in this phase of the outreach?  What has been predictable?  What has been a challenge?
  • How has this outreach enhanced your understanding of getting the word out, getting attention from the audiences you want to reach, and stimulating shareability?
  • How could you (if this were feasible over the long term)  revise your site design based on what you are discovering now?

Reading Assignment

Gere, Charlie (2008).  Digital Culture.  London: Reaktion Books.  pp. 154 – 224.

Online Assignment: website immersion + viewing

La Buena Vida/The Good Life
Project Creator:  Carlos Motta

Hurricane Digital Memory Bank
Project Creators: George Mason University’s Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media and the University of New Orleans, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of American History and other partners

Post Secret Archive

Project Creator: Frank Warren



Monday, December 9

An individual self-reflection paper (400 – 750 words) that will include your role and work on the team; and how ideas from your course learnings influenced the structure of the final project choices you made.

Online Discussion:

Please continue the posting-discussion on the websites.  Spend time with these database-driven  sites to look at and discuss in terms that you wish to explore — based on the accumulated readings, debates, issues that have been brought up to date. And, as we begin to wrap up our survey of some (to be sure, simply a fraction of what is being created) of the kinds of participatory projects now in circulation online, what are your insights, questions and concerns for how you are connecting this sphere to your own practice as multimedia makers and communicators? You could arrange your commentary from values and aspirational questions to strategy and practical skills issues.

Public post + comment is due before Friday, 5pm.

Private Post-Essay:
In completing Charlie Gere’s book, “Digital Culture,” (published in 2008!) and using our standard format of factual description, interpretation, reflection and future pointing overview, summarize the key points you find valuable in these concluding chapters — to agree with,  to amplify, to question or debate.

This private 500 word min. post-essay is due to me by Sunday, midnight.

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