Q&A with Tommy Tallarico

Join Tommy Tallarico of Video Games Live for a question-and-answer session Friday, Jan. 25 at 4:30 p.m. in the Jonsson Performance Hall.

Tommy is a composer for games, co-creator of Video Games Live, and world record holder for most video games worked on. Tony will be here the day before Video Games Live to talk about the show, his experiences, the video game industry. and answer you questions.

About Tommy Tallarico

As one of the most successful video game composers in history, Tommy has helped revolutionize the gaming world, creating unique audio landscapes that enhance the video gaming experience.

He is considered the person most instrumental in changing the game industry from bleeps and bloops to real music now appreciated worldwide by millions of fans. Tommy is the founder, CEO and Chairman of G.A.N.G. (Game Audio Network Guild), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting excellence in interactive audio (www.audiogang.org).

Tommy was the host, writer and co-producer of the award-winning, cutting-edge television shows Reviews on the Run and the Electric Playground. An accomplished musician, Tallarico has been writing music for video games for more than 22 years. Tallarico was the first musician to release a video game soundtrack worldwide (Tommy Tallarico’s Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – Capitol Records). Tommy was one of the first person to ever use live guitar and 3-D audio in a video game (The Terminator), and was instrumental in bringing true digital interactive 5.1 surround to the gaming world.

He has won over 50 industry awards for best video game audio and has worked on more than 300 game titles. His score for Advent Rising has been noted as “one of the greatest musical scores of all time” by websites such as Yahoo, Gamespot and others. In 2008, he was enshrined in the Guinness Book of World Records with a two page feature article and interview and currently holds 3 Guinness World Records including the person who has worked on the most commercially released video games.

For more information about Tommy please visit www.tallarico.com.

Sculpting a Nano “World”

How many earths can fit on the end of a pin?  If your using IBM Zurich’s newest nano-fabrication tool apparently about a hundred. Or close to a thousand if you prefer your scale comparisons to a grain of rice. Using a heated atomic scale silicon probe, scientists at IBM have created a precise method for etching and even sculpting materials on the nanoscale.

More information can be found on this project at Technology Review, and for more information on how art is mixing with sciences, visit artandatoms.com.

ATEC CONNECT: A meeting space for the ATEC/EMAC graduate community

ATEC.CONNECT is a biweekly meeting in ATEC conference room where faculty and graduate students (and sometimes guests) gather together to discuss current topics and their current work/research. These meetings are held to brainstorm, solve problems, and share resources among the community. All faculty and ATEC/EMAC graduate students are welcome.

Joe Posada-Triana

In Spring 2013 ATEC.CONNECT meets every other Fridays from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the ATEC Conference Room. The first gathering is scheduled for February 8.

For more information, please visit the website at atecconnect.wordpress.com and join the Facebook group facebook.com/groups/448490221868448.

To sign up for as “discussion hosts” please contact Mona Kasra at mona.kasra[at]utdallas.edu.

Student Motivated by Leadershape Experience

This summer EMAC senior Joe Posada-Triana was selected to attend a national session of the LeaderShape Institute. A seven day immersive leadership training for students, LeaderShape focuses on empowering leaders “to create a just, caring, thriving world”. Joe’s attendance at LeaderShape was the culmination of his year long experience as a NASPA Undergraduate Fellow, a mentoring program for students looking to gain experience and knowledge in the field of higher education and student affairs.http://www.naspa.org/programs/nufp/

Joe Posada-Triana

Part of the LeaderShape Institute is to spend time working on a vision that has a positive impact on your campus, community, and even the world. Joe dedicated his vision to a non-profit that he has been working on for the past year:

“The whole week was just an amazing experience because it helped me learn new things about myself and also pushed me into fifth gear in my vision to create a non-profit that provides first generation latino/a student’s the resources they need to attend college.” See Joes post on the leadershape blog.

Joe and his colleagues at Great Minds are using blogs, Facebook, text messages, and more to create an academic support network for first generation Latino/a students. He plans to continue working on Great Minds for his senior capstone project, and hopes to see the project continue well into the future.

Students Explore Hacker Methods

Move over engineers, you’re not the only ones who can build robots.

That’s what students in Professor Andrew Famiglietti’s EMAC special topics class, which focused on hacker culture and practice, learned this semester.

“People often use the word ‘hacker’ to refer to a sort of digital thief, someone who breaks security with malicious intent” Famiglietti explained, “but it can also refer to anyone who plays with technology in creative and unexpected ways.” The goal of the class was to teach students both how to engage with technology in the “hacker” mode, and to show them how this method emerged over the course of recent history. To accomplish this, the class blended readings and hands on exercises to create a unique learning experience.

Students Wiring E.C.H.O. Project

During the first three weeks of class, students read some of the most important academic research and journalism documenting the hacker subculture. These included Steven Levy’s famous and influential “Hackers,” and selections from the more recent work of the anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. Based on these readings, students and instructor worked together to composed collaboratively authored documents that captured what they believed to be key principles of hacking as practice.

“We used a version of the open-source alternative to Google docs hosted by the Swedish Pirate Party, called piratepad,” Famiglietti said, “it’s the same site used by anonymous and other hacker organizations to write some of their collaborative documents. I thought that was a nice touch.”

With the theoretical frame of the course thus established, the activity of the class turned to putting this theory into practice. Students started working with the Arduino prototyping platform, a low-cost open-source computer designed to be connected to a variety of sensors and other devices to interact with the physical world.

“Arduinos were designed to be used by artists,” Famiglietti explained, “you don’t need an engineering degree to learn how to code for one.”

After an initial introduction to the Arduino, students participated in a week-long exercise called “Arduino Chopped!” inspired by the Food Network gameshow “Chopped!” Students were given a random bag of electronic parts and asked to design and build a device using these parts and their Arduinos. The device had to embody some aspect of the hacker principles they had previously enumerated in their collaborative document.

“They really impressed me,” Famiglietti said, “they came up with some really creative devices in a short amount of time. One group managed to build a sort of dead-reckoning self-driving toy car. They managed to solve some tricky problems in creative and unexpected ways.”

Students spent the rest of their semester working on group projects employing the skills they had learned programming for the arduino platform and the hacker principles. One group created an automated “noise music” installation that used the arduino to trigger different sounds based on different hashtags used on the twitter platform. The group hoped to reveal something new about how people used twitter, and re-mediate this experience in a novel way.

“It was a creative project,” Famiglietti said, “it showed me they had thought about how to ‘hack’ media affordances.”

Overall, students found the class to be a unique learning experience.

“It was a humanities approach to a topic commonly seen as tech-only. Very in-depth for such a broad topic,” EMAC senior Will Parsons said.

Professor Reflects on Copyright in the Digital World

International copyright is a thorny issue that creative digital projects are often choosing to “route around,” rather than directly engage with.

Visiting Assisstant Professor Andrew Famiglietti

That was the impression Visiting Assisstant Professor Andrew Famiglietti took away from his recent participation in the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) workshop on “Authorship Dynamics and the Dynamic Work.”

Dr. Famiglietti was invited to participate in the one-day workshop in Cambridge, England on the basis of his unique expertise on the culture and practices of the Wikipedia project, the subject of his dissertation
and further publications.

The workshop focused on the problem of updating copyright and other forms of intellectual property law to meet the needs of emerging forms of digital authorship and collaboration. “It was really eye-opening for everyone involved,” said Famiglietti, “the way we study digital production often has a US-centric slant we don’t even recognize. It immediately became apparent to me that, for European scholars, the problems with copyright in the digital environment are only compounded by international boundaries.”

“They had a phrase for the process of syncing up IP law across different countries in the Euro zone, ‘European Harmonization,’ and I very quickly came to recognize the sort of tone of exhaustion and disdain that always went along with it.”

In Famiglietti’s opinion, the discussions surrounding Wikipedia’s relationship to copyright law were some of the most fruitful. “There was a long analysis of how poorly Wikipedia fits into the categories assumed by existing copyright law. It never really has a ‘fixed’ version, and the potential pool of ‘authors’ is very fluid. I pointed out that, in my experience, this misfit had never caused much of a problem for the community because they used alternate licensing schemes that served to de-emphasize these issues. In some cases, they added to this with ad-hoc practices, like encouraging re-users to link back to Wikipedia articles to provide attribution, that also served to ‘route around’ potential problems.”

While these practices have served Wikipedia well so far, Famiglietti wonders if they may not represent a final answer for the problem of copyright in the digital world.

“These sort of private, contract based solutions are what we expect from a somewhat libertarian hacker community,” Famiglietti points out, “and they work well enough, but they leave larger public policy questions unresolved. They may even mask the existence of these questions from members of the community.”

Ultimately, he thinks that calls for a better understanding of how categories like “author” and “work” are evolving as digital collaboration becomes a more important part of the social and economic landscape. “I’ve been talking to some of the other workshop participants about using the work of Bruno Latour to start trying to frame some of these issues. Maybe if we stop thinking of works as fixed things tied to fixed authors, and start thinking about how they function as networks of associations, we might make some headway.”

Capstone Spotlight: Roach Coach Reviews by Jamie Field

If you live in Dallas, and you want to taste the best the food truck business has to offer, graduating senior Jamie Field has a website for you: Roach Coach Reviews

Roach Coach Reviews

Roach Coach Reviews was part of Jamie’s senior capstone, a project all seniors must complete as part of their last semester in the program. For this project Jamie combined her interest in sampling the culinary offerings of Dallas food trucks with the knowledge and skills she learned as an EMAC student.

The website Jamie built contains reviews, video blogs, and interviews with local food trucks. It also serves as one stop shop to find all of the food truck related news in the Dallas area. The site contains not only a calendar of upcoming food truck events, and a list of the local trucks, but also a way to find where your current favorite truck is.

More than a single website, Roach Coach Reviews reflects a whole enterprise, complete with Facebook page, Twitter account and a growing network of followers. “With an explosion in food truck popularity, the number of trucks is on the rise. Previously, only social media outlets were a resource for updates like new menu items or truck locations/schedules. We developed ‘Roach Coach Reviews’ to serve as your DFW food truck information portal,” says Jamie.

Jamie’s project is not only the best food truck site in the Metroplext, but also an excellent example of the kind of media-literacy EMAC students build in their years in the program.

Capstone Spotlight: The Quiet Struggle by Desiree Jacob, EMAC MA

In Fall 2012, Desiree Jacob completed her capstone project, The Quiet Struggle (http://thequietstruggle.net), as part of the degree requirements for the Masters of Arts in Emerging Media and Communication.

The Quiet Struggle

When Desiree began thinking about her capstone, she wanted to explore the impact of social media on adoption processes. She began by looking at scholarly research on the effects of adoption, particularly open adoption, on the adoptee. She then completed several case studies to examine what types of digital resources were already available on the topic. These two steps gave her a solid theoretical foundation and helped her realize that one of the areas that needed development was in telling the stories of all members of the adoption triad – the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adoptee. Thus, she began work on “The Quiet Struggle.”

According to Desiree, “Many adoption myths persist in our society. Understanding details on the topic of adoption is something that all members of the triad (adoptee, birth mom and adoptive parents) should be more educated and aware of before decisions are made.” On the site, Desiree collects testimonials from all members of the triad, blogs about her own experience, and shares news about adoption.

EMAC Assistant Professor Kim Knight, Desiree’s capstone supervisor, observes, “One of the things that is exemplary about “The Quiet Struggle” is that Desiree has used her passion to construct a project with social benefit for an audience with very specific needs. She has a growing pool of readers and people are coming forward to share their stories on the site, both of which speak to the quality of the project.”

Desiree will continue to work on “The Quiet Struggle” after her MA is awarded. In her final paper for the project, Desiree reflected, “knowing that there are others who have gone through similar experiences can provide reassurance that these feelings and experiences are “normal” (whatever normal is). I also believe that by more of us opening up and talking freely about our experiences, we can help bring an end to the secrecy and taboo that surrounds adoption and hopefully increase understanding of how complex adoption really is.”

You can access “The Quiet Struggle” at http://thequietstruggle.net and follow Desiree on Twitter at http://twitter.com/desireejacob

EMAC Professor and Undergraduate Student Design Study to Find Effect of Meetups.

Have you ever met up “in real life” with friends from an online community? Despite the fact that 75% of adults between 18 and 24 participate in online social networks and offline gatherings have become increasingly common in groups ranging from couch surfers to MMORPG gamers, there’s been surprisingly little research into the effect of these “meetups” on the health and function of online communities.

A visualization of the meetup network

EMAC Assistant Professor Cuihua (Cindy) Shen and undergraduate Chuck Cage designed a study to find out the effect of meetups. Using longitudinal data of both public and private communications in an online forum of science fiction fans, their study represents one of the first systematic assessments meetups’ impact on community participation and online social capital. Results show that the enhanced bonding social capital—the stronger bonds shared with closer friends—experienced by meetup attendees comes at the expense of bridging social capital—weaker relationships which connect dissimilar people, offer a source for new information, and glue together clusters of tight-knit members. They presented their study, “Exodus to the Real World? Assessing the Impact of Offline Meetups on Community Participation and Social Capital,” at the Annual Convention of International Communication Association in Phoenix in May 2012. Chuck Cage is also the recipient of the UT Dallas Undergraduate Research Award.