MultiMemia Blog Archive

SUMMARY: MultiMemia – a brief journal-type record of my initial self-studies in multiple media – shares some of the historical development of two parts in my Opal Systems: (1) a series of personal discovery and assessment tools, and (2) the Opal Pyramid system for three-dimensional modeling of cross-cultural distances and intercultural connections.

MultiMemia was one of my four INKNOISE blogs from 2004-2006. Alas, INKNOISE is no longer, and all their blogs vaporized. So they are not available … other than the compilations I’d saved off-line. I’ve decided to resurrect some of the posts here. These may be quite dated, but do represent another part of the time capsule that is “futuristguy.”

00. Welcome to MultiMemia!

The MultiMemia category shares discoveries in my self-study plan to explore a broad range of media-based systems for delivering transformative content. This is designed to help me understand how to deliver content I’m creating on cultural studies, trends and futures, and Kingdom culture producers.

The media delivery systems I’m most interested in are: websites, web-based training; games, simulations, and “concrete media” (e.g., board games, action figures, trading card sets); and interactive multimedia that encourages learners to become cultural producers through implanting memes (“cultural DNA/viruses”) instead of just consuming the ideas and products of others.

Speaking of memes, I’m also working on how organizations can create plans for corporate-culture transitions that are multigenerational and multilayered. That involves helping an organization’s current leaders and workers adapt from their present into a preferable future when change represents a “second language,” if even that, while simultaneously presenting enough of a future orientation right now to attract younger generations for whom change is a “native language.”

I think those are memes worth producing, so it makes sense to study how to do that with creativity, sensitivity, and elegance!

What unique, Kingdom-building memes reside in you … ?

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A related category is MultiMemia Case Studies. It includes detailed case studies of interactive media that model imaginative perspectives, teamwork skills, and innovative technologies for presenting content that educates while entertaining … of course, all media does this, whether intentional on the part of its creators or not. The case studies consider implications of media masterworks in their historical context as the products of “paradigm pioneers.”

If I do have an opportunity to pursue these studies, here is a list of categories I may set up under MultiMemia. (Watch for a forthcoming resource bibliography that gives my top choices to study in each category.)

  • Accessibility
  • Clusters and Cohorts
  • Cognition and Data Patterning
  • Creating “Real Artificiality” Universes
  • Cultural Style Sensitivities
  • Individual- and Multiuser-Friendly
  • Interactivity that Produces Producers
  • Language/Lingo; Context/Coherence
  • Mentor-Knowledged; Pedagogy and Socratics
  • Navigators and Avatars
  • Security
  • Team Development Processes
  • Usability
  • User-Centered; Andragogy
  • Utopias and Dystopias
  • Web-Based Training
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01. Intro to “MultiMemia”

(April 2, 2004)

In the past year [i.e., 2003-2004], it’s become clear that I am more what’s called a “paradigm shifter” than a “paradigm pioneer” – although I am both. A paradigm shifter creates radical changes in perspectives: new theories, new approaches, new processes. Then a paradigm pioneer comes along, sees the possibilities in the shifter’s new ideas, and applies it in innovative ways that bring practical products into the culture.

I have new “shifter” ideas in the realms of cultural studies, social trends shaping our futures, and matching ministry and entrepreneurial methodologies to cultures. This shows up in the material I’ve been writing for years on how to analyze and interpret cultures, and what to do about it. (For instance, I’ve talked about frameworks for building theologies that answer new questions being asked in contemporary cultures.)

I have new “pioneer” processes for immersion methods in discipling and training people so they can participate in emerging cultures through producing, not just consuming. This draws in my life-long love of learning in general, and specifically learning through multiple different media – films, board games, simulations, musicals, interactive media and games, puzzles, comic books, etc. – even action figures!

My ideas and processes help people discover who they are, and what they can contribute to society and church.* So rather than just “downloading” into people my own conclusions about what society needs, somewhere along the line I realized I should focus on training people in thinking skills so they can produce creatively for where they sense a leading to engage their local culture. I’ve got a huge amount of content already developed, but I need to learn more about how to deliver it via media instead of just writing or teaching my detailed “stuff.”

The self-study courses I’ve outlined here in MultiMemia are guideposts for the conceptual and practical background work on different “delivery systems.” Sometime later, I’ll be working through more on the actual delivery systems themselves: website; web-based computer training; games, simulations, and various “concrete media”; and interactive multimedia. I have no idea how long this will take, nor how much I’ll blog about what I’m learning. But I plan to stick with it and see where it leads. So, hi-ho, here we go … !

Originally posted April 2, 2004.

*Note April 2010: Around 2004-2005, I did the initial work to create a series of assessment tools on information processing styles, teamwork styles, cultural fluidity, and other features relevant to an individual’s indigenous and cross-cultural ministry. I did some beta-testing then, and when an appropriate time comes, I plan to do additional field-testing before making them an official part of the Opal Systems.

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02. Launching Into Media

(April 5, 2004)

So, today I launched into some studies. I spent a couple hours working on avatars – visual navigators – for a game and/or comic book universe I’m creating. (Not familiar with virtual avatars? Think “Max Headroom,” or even the animated little “DNA Dood” from the movie Jurassic Park, who guides tourists through the basics of how dinosaurs were resurrected from blood found in mosquitoes fossilized in amber. Or the horrible, irritating, distracting “Paper Clip” character in MS Word …)

The sparks for thought on avatars were sets of WildC.A.T.s (Covert Action Teams) superhero action figures and trading cards. That’s the one major “immersion learning system” I’m focusing on “reverse engineering” to see how the creators put together a system of action figures, games, multiple comic book series, multiple trading card sets, a 13-episode animated TV program, etc. – and how they all relate with character construction, storyline development, and plot devices.

Anyway, I’m working on developing my own mega-storyline about some characters who can split themselves into multiple semi-characters (i.e., that embody only portions of his/her original characteristics and qualities), and later recombine the semi’s into the whole.

And it was intriguing, trying to come up with a new term or new device by which they split. I sort of liked something like “defractalator,” but that is too close to the “The Fraculator” (or something that sounds approximately like that) from the movie Mystery Men).

Surprisingly, this process of creating characters involves a lot of math about how to make the sets of semi-characters different from each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Also, I’m using geometric figures for a related multimedia training … Now, where did I put those multimedia training CDs on solid geometry, plane geometry, and visual trigonometry … ? Who would’ve thought I’d need to brush up on all my old math skills, just to figure out fractal patterns and meaningful mathematical symbols for a brave new world? I don’t even know yet about how to talk about the math concepts that swooped through my brain today. But they had to do with differentiating characters and game levels, and simulating realistic plot turns that depend both on providence and chance. That’s about as clear as I can express it at the moment.

Once I get the character set down, and the basic universe created, I’ll have more to say ’bout it, I’m sure.

This is amazingly fun stuff, and even more stimulating now that my voracious appetite for learning through reading seems to be returning after almost a four-year hiatus! So, I’m plugging away at how to apply my content into some systems that can both teach on and simulate twin sets of skills in cultural analysis and culture creation. And make it fun as possible!

Originally posted April 6, 2004.

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03. More Background on “The Plan”

(April 7, 2004)

I believe I’m on the right track with this self-study plan, because I find I’m very energized by digging in, thinking about, and producing both the training content itself, and working toward creating the best-fit system(s) for presenting that content! Some of my initial studies will take me through Interactivity in Action: Case Studies of Multimedia Masterworks, Innovative Games, and Other Successful Interactive Products. This is an amazing and fun book that covers the development of interactive/multimedia applications in games, music, arts, books, magazines, business, education, movies, and TV.

Amazingly, I’ve already collected about half the items that are highlighted in the book. Some I already had, such as over 20 editions of Launch, one of the first digital multimedia magazines on CD! I had gotten them in the late 1990s as a promo from one of the other magazines I subscribed to at the time – Vibe, I think – and I got about two years’ worth. Others I’ve acquired … where else … mostly on eBay. (Since a lot of these have been out of production for five to seven years, I consider this really providential.) Others I’m finding sources for and just waiting for the funds to git ‘em. Ah, the virtues of perseverance.

Anyway, it’s very fun, seeing if I can figure out from the actual product first how these paradigm pioneer creators did something, and then read in this interactivity book about how they did it. I’m fascinated by the process and the products, and know that I’m on the way to doing some similar things myself to “deliver” my own material on cultural analysis and contextualization.

Meanwhile, one of the other systems I’m most looking forward to “hacking and cracking” is the WildC.A.T.s “universe.” (It isn’t a case study in the interactivity book, but, oh well …) WildC.A.T.s – as in Wild Covert Action Teams – is a set of comic books, action figures, trading cards, animated TV series episodes, etc. The characters include men and women; aliens, humans, superhumans, and half-breed superhumans; and all the usual array of super-hero/super-villain natural powers, psionics, super-weapons, and other assorted techno-toy-things.

This may not make sense to anyone else, but I believe that these kinds of media are HUGE in passing along cultural values, for better or for worse. And they can also be the basis for establishing common ground to a biblical worldview – because every “universe” has rules it runs by … ours, created by a way cosmic God; theirs, created by wild comicmeisters. I’d like to understand these items as a unified media system, in part because I have some storyline ideas that could make a great comic book-game-multimedia series that is both intriguing, and conveys legitimate biblical morality, ingenuity, ethics, and mystery.

So I’m doing the best I can to immerse myself in how to create communication formats that connect with people from emerging post-postmodern cultures. Like multimedia, internet publishing/blogging, packaging books with CDs, graphic novels, ‘zines, etc. I wrote an article 7 years ago [i.e., in 1997] for a Christian writers’ magazine, talking about how we needed to consider these kinds of media as emerging ways to convey biblical knowledge and wisdom. Well, finally I’m taking my own advice!

I truly have no idea where this is leading – but it keeps unfolding into something bigger than I ever thought, even as little as two months ago. All I know is that I have a strong sense that this is the direction I need to be going, and that the results of what I’m learning are meant for at least two things. First, to help plant new churches, ministries, and business enterprises that are based in Kingdom principles. And second, to create a legacy of discipleship materials that find their forms in the “native language” concrete media/multimedia formats of the emerging generations, not in conventional print media alone.

And, to me, perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that this direction involves more of who I am than anything I’ve ever done before – studying, thinking, creating … and I am really enjoying the holistic nature of these endeavors. I’m thankful to my friends in Austin and Marin and elsewhere who’ve been making this opportunity to study and develop materials possible for me financially. You guyz rock!

So … nuff background stuff. Next posts should start sharing some of what I’m actually finding out!

Originally posted April 7, 2004. [Update 2008: Over four years later, and now I’ve got nearly all of the items in Interactivity in Action. Since some have now been out of print nearly 10 years, that is quite a coup. Also, a couple months ago, I got the elusive Launch Interactive CD #9, which puts me as close as I’m likely to get to the full set of about 53. Only four issues missing, and I haven’t found them yet in over five years, so perhaps time to call it close enough and launch into Launch … which is one of my MultiMemia Case Studies. Meanwhile, I also have begun collecting videogames featured in the book, Postmortems from Game Developer. Sort of like the Interactivity in Action case studies, only just with videogames.

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04. 2D or not 2D …

(April 12, 2004)

Over the weekend, I spent some time going through the first few chapters in a couple books on 3-dimensional art and animation. Actually, both began with 2-dimensions as their starting place. I was relieved to relearn that Adobe Photoshop is pretty much considered the industry standard for image processing and manipulation. Glad I already have a tutorial book on that for later. [Being geeky, but not techy-geeky, it isn’t always possible for me to afford the funds or time to learn new programs, so I still tend to stick with what I know or can get as open source programs.]

Meanwhile, a couple interesting facts on the first five dimensions came out in the readings, and some random associations. 1 and 2 are length and width, 3 is depth, 4 is time, and 5 is sound. Most of the time the average person considers two or three dimensions at a time … maybe four regularly and occasionally five. I’ve read elsewhere that theoretical mathematicians work with over a dozen dimensions. And macrohistorians – who examine patterns of how different individuals and cultures “put history together” – work with multiple formats, although they all work in the 4th dimension of time. So, some macrohistories are linear (like Hegel’s dialectic of thesis drawing forth an antithesis, and the best of both of which are eventually synthesized into a new thesis). Others are helicoid (the combination of a circle plus a line, moving through time), such as the seasonal cycles used in the fantasy book, Dinotopia.

I don’t know. I find that stuff interesting. And since I’m working in multidimensions, makes sense to think about it, since it came up in the readings.

Originally posted April 12, 2004.

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05. Projects Unfolding Themselves

(April 12, 2004)

Over the weekend, and today on the way to the post office (always a most prolific time of thinking for me), I was thinking more about how to configure my content. Which is what MultiMemia is all about. So, thought I’d blog a bit about what I think I’m seeing.

The biggest issue is that straight-up non-fiction writing tends to be very dense and technical when it first emerges out of my brain and onto e-paper. To get it to a place where it’s usable requires me to “aerate” it – otherwise, it’s so compacted that it’s like clay, which may be one of the most nutrient-rich soils, but which nothing much can grow in because it’s too condensed.

So, how to get it into other forms? One possibility is editing it with shorter sentences, hyperlinked glossary for those wanting in-depth definitions, adding charts or lists or other visual summaries of information, etc. That keeps it non-fiction.

Another way to go is to shift forms to fiction: storytelling, games, simulations, futurist scenarios. These all embed the same kinds of principles and information in them, but in a more holistically engaging way: conversations, questions, plotlines, dialog, and other devices that those reading or seeing it can interact with more than just a straight-forward article.

This likely means preparing my content in dual forms for each field of interest – a non-fiction version, primarily for use in web-based training courses, and a fictional version for use in games, simulations, and multimedia-based trainings.

It’s a hard pill to swallow in some ways. I’m SO-O-O-O-O-O-O used to the standard way of writing non-fiction that it could end up to be difficult for quite a while to switch tools to narrative. But I’ve got to overcome that challenge. I have too much I want to create for the “training trail.” Courses/games on cultural analysis systems, futurist skills, and perhaps even a virtual Celtic monastery. And I’ll keep looking for a team to work with who want to produce similar kinds of things. Hard to remember at times that I’m not in this alone, and I don’t need to feel alone. But I keep wondering where the team members are …

In due time …

Originally posted April 12, 2004. [Update 2008: The “training trail” was later renamed Tessera “Learning Trail” and launched early in 2008.]

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06. Making a System Learning-Style Friendly

(April 14, 2004)

Yesterday I spent some time working to understand halftones, and duotones (using two colors to print photographs and images), and holograms (using multiple angles to recreate the collision of light on/from an object). Later, perhaps today sometime, I’ll take a look at lenticulars (those plastic 3D cards that are really cool!).

Somehow, all of these will be of use, I think, in the one four-dimensional mega-project I’ve been working on since 2001 for a system to illustrate cultural analysis.

This system – The Opal Pyramid – works on some geometric principles by using four singular points, the connections of those four points by six lines, the connection of those six lines into four triangular shapes [faces], and the connection of those shapes into structures [surface], and the filling of those structures [volume]. And all color-coordinated to boot … which doesn’t help my cousin Fred, who is totally color-blind (sees black, white, and shades of grey – now there’s a story for another day on what he did with that unusual ability!).

So, I have to have parallel systems built in for those who have different learning styles and aren’t able to easily take in one or more of the other systems. So, by using geometric figures, I think that works for those who are tactile/kinesthetic and need to hold something and/or build it by hand in order to “get it” and remember it. The colors work for those who are “picture smart” (multiple intelligences) and visual in the way they remember things. The mathematics underlying it all helps those who are “logic smart” while the written descriptions appeal to those who are “word smart.” The system should appeal to those who are “nature smart” and need patterns to discern. Creating characters (for comix or computer games, perhaps) to represent the various locales in the system could draw in those who are “people smart” and need relational content in order to be engaged. Gotta add music somehow … “Culture: The Musical!” Uhh … maybe not …

Anyway, this may not make sense if you haven’t had much background in learning styles, but to me it shows how complex it can be to create something that has very broad appeal, based on the ways God has “wired” people to take in, process, and output information. And also take into consideration issues of accessibility for those whose sensory capacities are outside the norm.

It’s a challenge, it’s fun, it takes time. Lots of time.

Originally posted April 14, 2004.

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07. Covering the Learning Style Factors

(April 14, 2004)

Okay, so today was pretty much finish-up-those-tax-forms day. But in between, I spent a while jotting notes about how to cover the bases with whatever systems I develop for “navigating” people through my cultural analysis system when I put it into a format for CD/DVD-based training.

How do I make it memorable to those who remember best by what they say and/or hear? What they touch or move? What they see?

How do I engage aspects of learning they are already passionate about, and perhaps help activate new areas of interest – words, logic and math, music, pictures, motor skills, nature and patterns, relationships, and self-oriented reflection?

When I started charting out my ideas, it was intriguing that I had most of these bases covered. Whether through people stories or illustrations from cooking, through action figures or common geometric shapes, through poetry or imagery. That was kind of cool!

So that’s that. Should have three books coming in soon that I’ll be looking forward to digging in to – one on accessibility issues, and two on how to put together web-based trainings. Will enjoy going through an online course as a case study in teaching formats.

As a semi-sidenote, I find it amazing that I’m reading so much again. I’m sure I’ve said it recently, perhaps in another of my blogs, but I used to read about two non-fiction books a week on average, and back in the 1980s and ’90s, probably invested a couple hours a week reading through summary descriptions of new books available from academic publishers. (A good way to get exposure to a cross-section of important “big ideas” from all the academic domains – which is what futurists need in order to do “environmental scans” of culture to detect trends.) I stopped much reading for nearly four years, but … I’m baa-aa-aa-aa-ckkk! Harooh! Hoorah! Hooray!

Originally posted April 14, 2004. [Update 2008: The course I was thinking of taking didn’t happen. Oh well. This past year I’ve experienced several kinds of teleseminars and streaming video, so I’m finally getting up to speed … with what was probably cutting edge a few years ago!] [Update 2010: I’ve continued exploring how to use concrete media and multiple media items for an “immersion learning” environment. I still believe it holds much promise, and I plan to do everything I can to make the Opal Systems as learning-friendly as possible to the broadest possible range of people.]

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Reading Plan Bibliography [April 2004]

Content Categories

  • Accessibility
  • Anything Else & General Stuff
  • Clusters and Cohorts
  • Cognition and Data Patterning
  • Creating “Real Artificiality” Universes
  • Cultural Style Sensitivities
  • Individual- and Multiuser-Friendly
  • Interactivity that Produces Producers
  • Language/Lingo; Context/Coherence
  • Mentor-Knowledged
  • Navigators and Avatars
  • Security
  • Team Development Processes
  • Usability
  • User-Centered
  • Utopias and Dystopias
  • Web-Based Training

Accessibility

Clusters and Cohorts

  • (Nothing listed.)

Cognition and Data Patterning

Creating “Real Artificiality” Universes

Cultural Style Sensitivities

Individual- and Multiuser-Friendly

Interactivity that Produces Producers

Language/Lingo; Context/Coherence

  • (Nothing listed.)

Mentor-Knowledged

Navigators and Avatars

Security

Team Development Processes

Usability

User-Centered

Utopias and Dystopias

Web-Based Training

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