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Center for Media Innovation and Research

19 Apr

Even though the CMIR Lab has only been a part of UF’s College of Journalism and Communications since September of 2010, it is already making groundbreaking progress in the quest to explore our media possibilities. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about innovative journalism and report news in the facility.

The grand opening video shows the vast array of media opportunities with the CMIR lab and the direction the world of journalism is moving toward.

This semester I’m taking Advanced Online Media in the lab. In class, we’re able to bring colleagues’ blogs, sites and videos up on the multi-screen display and on individual Mac laptops at the round-tables in the lab.

And last semester I got to work on WUFT’s first-ever election team. We meshed print, TV and online media for the best coverage, plus had a LIVE broadcast on election night for local TV and radio stations.

Working on one of the laptops (see picture above) and getting ready to report live on the amendments


The Tipping Point

7 Apr

Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point is a very interesting book. I like it for two main reasons. First of all, he brings up many points that I have never specifically thought of, that I have seen to be true in many situations and relationships in my life. I also enjoy reading the book because I disagree with some of his points and reasoning. Maybe I have not researched and lived and experienced to his level of understanding, but I find it refreshing to read his well-written opinion of social epidemics without blindly agreeing with every point.

Honestly, the whole idea of having one main tipping point doesn’t sit well with me. One point that turns the snowball into an avalanche? It starts with the momentum. Even a racecar takes some percentage of a second to get from zero to 60. It can’t happen in literally one point. Although this is the whole premise of the book, there are many phenomenons he writes about, that I agree with.

On Thursday, February 10th, a YouTube video was uploaded of a 13-year-old singing a song lacking strong lyrics, acting, and substance in general. Seven weeks later, the music video “Friday” had more than 75 million views and young Rebecca Black was being talked about in Time magazine and hosted on Good Morning America and the Jay Leno Show. It seems almost physically impossible that a video of an unknown artist could circulate that quickly, with that kind of response based on how bad it is.

Gawker’s Adrian Chen has followed the Rebecca Black story and is pretty much an expert on how people become Internet-famous. She writes, “Basically the content doesn’t matter at all. Only the fact that other people are sharing it.” The majority of viewers rate “dislike”. Yet it still spreads like an epidemic.  

On a more serious, yet equally applicable, note is the issue of human trafficking. Gladwell writes that a tiny percentage of the people do the majority of the work. While a very small percentage of the people in the world are trafficking human beings to be slaves, it is still the fastest growing crime in the world. How could so few people be running such a powerful and profitable business that defiles human beings, no less? These traffickers are exceptionally motivated to keep this operation running- they make an incredible amount of money in this business and once they are in, their lives are at stake if they want to get out. And just like the Queens woman Gladwell writes about who was killed while 38 people stood by, the same happens daily with the issue of human trafficking. And people do not realize that they are bystanders actually hurting the problem, not “innocently” not helping. It is certainly easier to spread an epidemic than stop one.

An observation I made while reading Gladwell’s many examples and thinking about my own experiences is that most of these epidemics are negative: syphilis, AIDS, suicide, bad music.  To be sure, there are positive epidemics, such as underprivileged children’s literacy through Sesame Street and the spread of delicious restaurant recommendations. But why is it that “bad” spreads so much more quickly than “good”? Why are we fixated on these things? I did not pose that question to lead up to a sophisticated answer. It is just an observation and I will be interested to observe after reading this book.

Fabulous Food & Fun Fitness

28 Mar

So, if you haven’t been to my Photo365 blog in a while (or ever), I’ll give you a quick rundown of the past week.

When my family came to town, we enjoyed a delicious, vegan dinner at the Reggae Shack Cafe (YOU MUST GO THERE ARE ORDER THE CURRY TEMPEH) then headed to Maude’s dowtown for dessert and Pictionary. All of this delicious eating makes me think of Daniela Perallon and Lee Ziesche‘s excellent taste in all things food and blogging.

But of course, eating giant cupcakes has consequences and I made an effort to combat this by going to Advanced Step, taught by my dear friend, Kelsey.

I’d like to think Katie Keene, UF Fitness Instructor and colleague, is supportive of this decision. Her Gator Fitness blog will motivate you to get up and get moving! Take advantage of UF’s many group fitness classes while you can! There are so many different formats- you’re sure to find one that fits you!


Kendall McCrory’s Life Thus Far

23 Mar

A biography is a large task to accomplish in any format, for anyone. But I will attempt to give you some highlights of my crazy, yet ordinary, life in this one little blog post.

The family at Universal Studios, Orlando

Hi! My name is Mary Kendall McCrory, but I just go by “Kendall”. First of all, my faith in Jesus Christ is absolutely my foundation. He is my hope, strength, joy, love and purpose for being alive. Family is another huge part of my life, responsible for shaping so much of who I am and bringing me continuous joy and blessings. I was born in Pensacola, Florida where I lived for 18 years until moving to Gainesville, Florida for school. At West Florida High School of Advanced Technology I had a wonderful experience studying Sports Medicine and thought I would go to school to become a Physical Therapist.

Live Election Coverage in the CMIR Lab

Finishing up my last semester as a Telecommunication-News major at the University of Florida is a surreal experience. It has been a privilege to be in one of the best journalism programs in the nation. I have learned an incredible amount through all of the hands-on experience; working in the WUFT-TV news station on campus and collaborating to pioneer online and TV coverage for the Florida’s 2010 Elections in the new CMIR lab.

Besides Telecom, my theatre interest was sparked with Theatre Strike Force‘s alluring improvisation, which I enjoyed participating in for a time.

One major aspect of my college career was the time I spent working for UF’s Department of Housing and Residence Education as a Peer Mentor and Resident Assistant in Trusler Hall. This was an invaluable experience working with the housing staff and my floor of 52 residents. These relationships allowed me to share wisdom I’ve learned in my time here and, in turn, learn even more from those around me.

Some Trusler 1 residents see "Cats"

When I’m not focused on school or work, I love to fill my days with friends, great food and outdoor activities…and photographing all of the above. This could be just about anything, but some of my favorites include playing Ultimate Frisbee, tennis or riding bikes on the Hawthorne Trail.

Cooking and baking have become passions of mine and I admittedly spend entirely too much time drooling over recipes and pictures on Joy the Baker and The Pioneer Woman.

My attempt at Joy's Peanut Butter Fudge Treats. Success.

Traveling- whether to another part of the state or world, whether by bus, train, car or plane- fuels a passion deep inside of me. I think that being part of the news industry and having a heart for other nations feeds my desire to see and experience what’s really going on around the globe. Speaking about what’s really going on, I am especially passionate about being a voice for those who are victims of human trafficking and sex slavery. International Justice Mission and Project Rescue are two organizations making great strides and restoration to combat this growing crime. After graduating, I hope to use my skills to serve these victims and those who are seeking to offer them hope.

100 pictures = 1 movie

10 Feb

Yes, this post contains 100 emotional pictures (of my face), to produce what may look like a video.

It’s a series of pictures (that’s what video is, anyways, right?) you take on a webcam and as you take them it loops them together to create a series.

I learned how to use Toonloop in my Interactive Storytelling class this week.

Oh, the possibilities 🙂

*If you download Toonloop, here are some pointers:

1. First download Processing, which Toonloop must be opened in
2. Download the older Toonloop version (“Lite” for Mac users)
3. When you open Toonloop, it will have all of the program writing in the box, but when you click the “play” arrow, a screen should come up and your camera should come on, and you’ll see yourself.
4. Click the space bar to capture a picture.

Don’t Make Me Think

10 Feb

Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” did just the opposite. It has me thinking of how I can make usability easier for my blog readers. His bottom-line agenda is to eliminate question marks that may form when someone is using a website. The edgy, conversational tone and funny footnotes make the book an enjoyable and rather quick read.

Krug gives the reader some basic ways that even a college student, like myself, can simplify a site without spending a pretty (or even ugly) penny. One of Krug’s biggest points is to make choices OBVIOUS. If a link is clickable, set it apart somehow from the normal text with underlining, coloring or using a bigger font.

Another way to make a site’s options obvious and visually appealing is to create a visual hierarchy, which does not necessarily mean from top to bottom. This can be done by prominence, grouping or nesting information. This is why I find “categories” on blogs helpful because it allows viewers to look at what interests or applies to them. I have a serious addiction to food blogs and Joy the Baker is my current favorite. Her categorical index helps a ton whenever I’m trying to decide on a recipe, because I’m often baking for a certain event or looking for a recipe with specific ingredients (hello, “Peanut Butter Meets Chocolate”. So dangerous).

Simplifying the site does not mean dumming it down. In fact, having a site that is straightforward will allow consumers to feel competent when using it. They will appreciate the ease of use. And that ease will more readily bring them back to your site again. It is important for the viewer to know – right off the bat – what the site is about and how it will help them. From that point, it should be obvious where to go for their specific needs.

Eliminating words is a great way to simplify a site. Marrying every word on the first draft is just asking for a nasty divorce. You will need to cut at least half of them off before you reach a final product…and a happy user. Having fewer words on the screen to choose from makes options more obvious and cuts opportunities for question marks to pop up.

Another interesting part of the book is Krug’s emphasis on testing websites. He cannot recommend it enough (the fact that that’s how he makes a living might have something to do with it) and insists it doesn’t even have to involve hiring a professional. Just having one outside person take a usability test could iron out many errors you and your colleagues overlooked.

One of the biggest problems company’s sites have is the point, use, message is not made clear. The company knows the material inside and out, so it can be a challenge building the site from a clueless (or clue-few) consumer’s perspective. If people do not know how a website can help them or what it is used for, why shouldn’t they click away? The trick when fixing the site is ironing out issues without creating other wrinkles.

Overall, Krug’s website wisdom is very applicable, even when using an already-formatted blog. It has helped me think about my site from the user’s perspective and how to make it more accessible for them. Thanks, Steve!


Very short stories

26 Jan

This is my Interactive Storytelling class in the Digital Arts and Sciences building at Norman.

Awesome, right?

We’re learning a lot about, well, telling stories interactively.

Earnest Hemingway’s (and now my professor’s) CHALLENGE: can you write a six word story?

Hemingway’s was “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Used.”

It’s amazing how telling six words can be.