“Fantasy Coffins” Story Critique


The Fantasy Coffins story produced by New Atlantis Tribes offered a new lens for refracting sadness to joy in my Digital Storytelling focal theme of grief. I am curious how such beautiful works of art might affect one’s experience of grief. With such brilliant colors and amazing craftsmanship, I imagine the ceremony to be quite a celebratory send-off into the afterlife versus a somber slinking away. In somber slinking away, I am referring to my North America experience of every funeral I have attended: same box, different color. There is no identity associated with the casket. In Ghana, it’s almost like the community is saying, “May all the positive actions you accomplished in this life, carry-over and continue to grow in the next life.” This cultural perspective on death suggests a healthy grieving process that does not rob a person of their identity.

I will be critiquing this story by New Atlantis Tribes based upon three traits from the Lankshear and Knobel’s Appendix: Some popular everyday remix practices.

  1. Translating an enjoyed woodworking art from one medium to another
  2. To maintain social relationships with friends and others
  3. For commercial entertainment purpose

Translating an enjoyed woodworking art from one medium to another

The fantasy coffin tradition began when a well-respected fisherman of the town, passed. His family wanted to honor him with a special coffin, so they asked master carpenters to create a big fish. This is such a beautiful metaphor of a community’s “big fish” inspiring a new tradition in his last moments.

In establishing this new tradition, the traditional coffin was “remixed” into a whole new creation. Of course, in my experience, most coffins are quite drab. They insinuate finality and somberness. Specialty coffins are an absolutely stunning rendition of the average coffins, which seems to be one size fits all. I believe that the West would benefit from such a colorful tradition.

To maintain social relationships with friends and others

Family and friends are able to have input on how to portray the person. The coffin’s make is an opportunity to reflect social relationships, how others’ knew the deceased, and what was important to the deceased. “When you die, you are dead. You don’t know where you are headed,” said Paa Joe, skilled carpenter of Fantasy Coffins. “If you are a plumber, you might be buried in a monkey wrench. If you are a farmer, you might be buried in a banana, pineapple, or cocoa bean. Everyone will attend your funeral to see your coffin.”

A funeral is not supposed to solely about the loss of life. It is about community, life, and hope for the deceased’s new future. Having such bright fantasy coffins at a place pervaded by death makes it impossible to be down.

For commercial entertainment purpose

Fantasy Coffins has a truly unique business plan. The coffins are not simply pretty to look at, they provide work in the community. The coffins seen in the story included a butterfly, bottle of beer, shoe, lion, chicken, and camera just to name a few. Every single coffin is made to perfection in order to honor the deceased.

Two of the carpenters, Daniel Mensah and Paa Joe offered their insight in the story. It would have been nice to learn more about the carpenters’ backstory of how they reached their level of mastery. I expect such a career is highly respected and coveted, because these carpenters took a mundane task and turned it into an art form.

Although there is an element of pervading social status here, it sounds like the funeral is a lively event that draws a festive crowd. It draws the community together to appreciate the creativity of the coffin as well as the person’s life. To conclude, this story really brought me to a whole new way of looking at death and grief. There is pride in one’s life work and how the community comes together for a celebratory event. These coffins simply make me smile and I didn’t even know a coffin could inspire such appreciation.

That Girl’s a Tramp

This Daily Create, tdc1280, assignment is to remix a trashy book cover, which is such a fun concept to me. I found the original Harlequin book, The Distant Trap, online and misread trap for tramp; hence the birth of a DS106 Tramp.

DS106 Tramp

I completely identify with this girl.

Who wouldn’t want to drink the Koolaid and dive into the magical abyss of DS106 land?

Week 5 Reflection: Hunker Down

squat+inventor(Photo Credit: http://lynskies.blogspot.com/)

Last week was all about feeling like I had face planted, while this week was all about hunkering down and doing my best possible work amidst the curve balls life sometimes throws one’s way. By Wednesday night, about 80% of all my concepts and the majority of my story critique, Lankshear and Knobel response, and mashup assignment were complete. However, Thursday morning, my boyfriend, Ben, needed to go to the emergency room and I have been with him at the hospital ever since. It’s a congenital issue that he’s been dealing with all his life, and it happened to get a little (or way) out of hand this time.

I am sharing this because it ties into my theme of grief. It wasn’t even six months ago that I was advocating and caring for my mother in the hospital as she battled cancer. Her struggle ultimately ended in death and I have been working to fully embrace the grief to become whole again. My current time in the hospital with Ben has re-opened those barely healed wounds and honestly scared the crap out of me.

It’s funny how the story I critiqued this week explored how terrifying joy can be. Brene Brown and Oprah talk about how it’s human nature to try and beat pain and vulnerability to the punch by assuming the worst when life is good. I was really starting to feel joyful again between pursing a masters, embarking upon a new relationship, and feeling like the worst was over. Then, through no one’s fault, Ben and I ended up in the hospital together and I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t play out all the most horrible possibilities in my head while in the waiting room. Is my vulnerability so great right now, that I can’t just sit with uncertainty and trust in Divine order?

My goal for this week is really embrace Brene Brown’s message: lean into the vulnerability and joy no matter what the outcome may be. This is the only way to become the whole-hearted person I long to be.

Week 5 Assignments:

TDC 1 Precious Budding Wings
Story Critique 1 “Joy: It’s Terrifying” Story Critique
Weekly Assignment 7 Days of Selfie Indulgence
L&K Response Chapter 5: Jane Goodall, the Ultimate Collaborator
Peer Story Critique 1 Mario Theme Song – Dub Remix
Peer Story Critique 2 Blank Space Moms
L&K Peer Responses 1 Meerkat vs Periscope
L&K Peer Responses 2 Lankshear and Knobel. Fith Chapter. Collaborative Practices.
TDC 2 Them Death Apples

7 Days of Selfie Indulgence

This week’s DS106 mashup assignment was to take a selfie a day for a week, then publish it. Of course, the effect would be much more dramatic with a longer length of time. A prime example being Noah Kalina’s 12 year long timeline, which continues to grow to this day.

Normally I’m not a huge selfie girl, but I have to admit it was fun. The Everyday App was a great resource, offering a facial grid and daily alarms. After I collected about 7 images, I exported my image timeline to My Photos. Then I imported the video clip to iMovie and repeatedly looped the clip to the beginning portion of the song “Be Brave” by My Brightest Diamond.

Using the Everyday App was very straightforward, but getting to know iMovie took a little more work. Youtube had a very helpful clip, How to Make a Movie in iMovie, by Daligoddess. It gave me a basic overview in order to make a very simple video.

New Literacies’ Chapter 5 Review: Jane Goodall, the Ultimate Collaborator

As I ponder Lankshear and Knoble’s observation of what transforms an online participant to a collaborator in their book New Literacies, I find the collective “we” as the catalyst for transformation. From this place, my mind keeps coming back to a world-renowned humanitarian that acts as the collaborative “glue” for chimpanzee preservation as well as other environmental affairs. I will draw a parallel between a Wikipedia participant’s progression to the role of collaborator to that of Jane Goodall’s evolution from chimpanzee scientist to activist.

goodall and chimp(Photo Credit: http://www.janegoodall.org/media/photos/gregoire-gallery)

The authors explain the natural progression of how a Wikipedia participant moves from participant to collaborator according to Susan Bryant, Andrea Forte, and Amy Bruckman (2005) in ‘Becoming Wikipedian: transformation of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia’. Lankshear and Knobel walk through the transformation starting from a novice consumer, to an occasional editor, to a caretaker of collections, and finally resulting in a skilled collaborator. In the following paragraphs, I will draw parallels between this transformation and Jane Goodall’s progression to become a global collaborator.

According to the Jane Goodall Institute, Goodall’s time with the chimpanzees began in 1957 in Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. This novice stage in her career consisted of following, observing, and tracking the behaviors of chimpanzees. This was an information gathering phase that laid an essential foundation for her scientific research. Even though the chimps were not allowing her to come too close, she made astonishing discoveries from afar with her binoculars. Goodall learned that not only do chimps eat meat, but more importantly, they use “fishing poles” or tools to extract termite snacks from their nests. As far as a novice Wikipedia participant goes, this parallels the discovery of incorrect information. Perhaps, even, that the Wikipedia chimpanzee page states that chimps are vegetarians.

Goodall began to form a clearer and clearer image of chimp society. This phase parallels the occasional editor in Wikipedia where a novice gains the confidence to change the incorrect statement that chimpanzees are vegetarians to chimpanzees are omnivores. This phase snowballs into more and more contributions being made. In addition to Jane’s formal science methodology for documenting observations, she began to document that chimps have personalities, minds, and emotions. This awareness led her to give chimps names over numbers in her scientific writings. Her confidence was growing and she insisted that her viewpoint and observations were valid. Then there was a breakthrough: Goodall’s observations were published in National Geographic.

The caretaker of collections stage blossomed after the National Geographic publication spread. With new support, Jane and her new husband, Hugo, created the Gombe Stream Research Center. Here, they built permanent buildings and hired more researchers. Goodall’s tools and abilities were becoming more advanced like a Wikipedia caretaker’s abilities expand to learn the Wikipedia “watch” function in order to watch over a collection. Goodall became better able to watch over and gather data for the chimpanzees in Gombe National Park.

Over the next couple decades, Goodall continued to learn about chimp feeding behavior, ecology, infant development, aggression, and consortships. As a result, Goodall was better able to understand the larger chimpanzee community, and she compiled 25 years-worth of research into her book The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior. Goodall attended the Understanding Chimpanzees conference in Chicago. This was an important moment for Goodall’s transformation. In collaborating with chimpanzee scientists from all around the world, it became clear that Goodall absolutely needed to become a chimpanzee activist. From this point on, Goodall became an increasingly skillful collaborator in activism for chimpanzees and she now acts on behalf of the collective chimpanzee community. In comparison, a Wikipedia collaborator has a bird’s eye view of the larger Wikipedia community and truly understands how it works.

At 81 years of age, Goodall is travelling 300 days out of the year, advocating not only for the greater chimpanzee good but for our worldly ecosystem. Lankshear and Knobel say, “The capacity to collaborate presupposes an overall conception of a community of practice such that one can act and respond in the light of a system as a whole—or at least, from a larger perspective than simply contributing ‘pieces’” (162-163). Jane Goodall now watches over and fights for our earth’s collective environmental rights. Lankshear and Knobel also say, “Collaborators provide a particular kind of ‘glue’” (161). Goodall is most certainly collaborative “glue” that the environment desperately needs. Lastly, Lankshear and Knobel express, “Most importantly, perhaps, the role and practice of this kind of boundary spanner can mentor as well as mediate the knowledge contributory efforts of others” (165). Goodall is mentoring environmental groups and mediating the global conversation. She is a collaborator in the truest sense.

Citations

Bryant, S. L., Forte, A., & Bruckman, A. (2005). Becoming Wikipedian: transformation of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. doi:10.1145/1099203.1099205

Early Days | the Jane Goodall Institute. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.janegoodall.org

Lankshear, C. (2011). New literacies.

“Joy: It’s Terrifying” Story Critique

As I have been exploring the complexity of grief, I have been asking myself, “How is grief integrated so one can have a “normal” life again?” My increasing curiosity around grief’s transformation into happier feelings such as joy led me to an Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) production of Oprah interviewing Dr. Brene Brown, an expert in the field of emotions. In the interview, Joy: It’s Terrifying, I was surprised to find Dr. Brown say, “Joy is the most terrifying feeling humans face.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKV0BWSPfOw)

I will be critiquing this OWN story based upon three traits from the Lankshear and Knobel’s Appendix: Some popular everyday remix practices.

  1. Having something to say that appeals to others
  2. May include writing contextualizing notes to known and unknown readers about the story
  3. Identifying how to convey a lot of meaning in a limited amount of space and time

Having something to say that appeals to others

I believe OWN’s production of Brown’s message is one that not only interests people, but might open people eyes to their potential patterns. Joy: It’s Terrifying explains that once we experience joy, then fear immediately sets in. It may make a person ask, “When will the joy will be taken away?” The fear of the loss of joy never really lets people enjoy a happy state.

Luckily, Brown offers an antidote to the fear of joy and vulnerability. It is authentic gratitude. Only those who allow themselves to be truly grateful for cherished moments are able to evade fear. These are people she identifies as “whole-hearted” people that live their lives to the fullest no matter what emotion they are feeling.

May include writing contextualizing notes to known and unknown readers about the story

Oprah does a great of job of contextualizing key points of Brown’s books. She begins with succinctly explaining Brown’s ultimate life goal: to be whole-hearted. Oprah explains for all levels of audience members that whole-hearted people have found their way to whole-heartedness through a cultivation of gratitude and joy.

Oprah and Brown thoroughly explained the concept of foreboding joy. It took repetition and several examples to fully drive home this point. Brown says, “When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.” She further elaborates that joy makes us feel incredibly vulnerable, so we dress rehearse tragedy in order to beat vulnerability to the punch. We would rather imagine a tragedy than feel vulnerable.

Identifying how to convey a lot of meaning in a limited amount of space and time

Joy: It’s Terrifying was able to explain foreboding joy, relate it back to the audience, and offer a solution to the audience in just over five minutes. This is attributed to Oprah’s phenomenal interviewing skills, Brene’s concise delivery of her knowledge, and OWN’s seamless production of the interview. I feel like this interview gave me invaluable tools for a happier life tools, awareness of foreboding joy and to combat fear of joy within a very short time span.

Citations:

Dr. Brene© Brown on Joy: It’s Terrifying | Super Soul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKV0BWSPfOw

Week 4 Reflection: This was a tough week

Joshua Wade Smith Faceplant, http://www.hamiltoniangallery.com/artists/joshua-wade-smith/
(Photo Credit: Joshua Wade Smith)

What can I say? I had a rough time getting all my assignments completed this week and I feel like my quality was lacking. Of course, last week I said I was finding my groove, so I might have jinxed myself. I commented on my classmate, Alicia Hill’s tweet, “As I read New Literacies, I keep thinking, ‘Man I’m so far behind the game!'” I had a very Pollyanna response in that moment, saying, “Remember Maguma’s humble beginning? I think because you’re putting yourself out there and trying, you’re ahead of the curve.” Then I read another classmate, Kirk Lunsford’s response to our New Literacies text. He eludes to how Maguma has a passion to really learn new applications and master his art of fanfiction. Kirk then says, “But what about people or students that don’t have a deep passion to dive in and participate in read-write social practices? There can be fear of failure, lack of ability to be creative, and lack of skills necessary to engage in the social practices of remixes.” My Pollyanna demeanor faded and I really thought about my read-write social practices.

I am feeling like I do not have the mastery of Photoshop, iMovie, Camtasia that I desire. Let alone the time it to takes to deepen my understanding of these programs within this course’s timeline. My classmates are creating some really innovative DS106 Daily Creations and Weekly Assignments. Through them I can see where my technical skills lie and it entices me to improve.

Another issue  I am struggling with is my focal theme of grief. I question whether I should be writing my stories with a grieving audience in mind. Should I just keep going deeper and deeper into exploring my own grief? Should I try to show a change from grief into life after grief? It feels like a delicate line of exploring grief, but not wallowing in it. As well as intriguing the audience without depressing them. I trust I will find clarity in the next couple weeks.

Here is what I accomplished in Week 4.

TDC 1 My friend on the beach
Story Critique 1 The Microscopic Structure of Dried Human Tears
Weekly Assignment Promotional Meetup Poster: Finding Joy in Times of Grief & Loss
L&K Response Rate That API’s Purpose
Peer Story Critique 1 Tale of Momentum and Inertia
Peer Story Critique 2 Titanic 2: Jack’s Alive!?
L&K Peer Responses 1 New Literacies Review (Ch. 4) – Mash-ups and Remixes
L&K Peer Responses 2 Ed Reform Remix: A Response to Lankshear & Knobel Ch 4
TDC 2 Happy 4th of July