CS92 Mass Media

GROUP MEMBERS: finn | justin | christy | ry


Download the Mass Media program for the PC (.zip file is 31MB), or for the Macintosh (.hqx file is 42 MB).

Meeting Notes


UPDATE: Today we demonstrated our project to the class again for the final time. We talked a little about our progress and the fact that we still have issues to be resolved as far as exactly how some things will get done as well as implementation and debugging work to be done. Our projector wasn't particularly stable, but it was the first time we had put together something which included intro screens and most of the major parts of the program. It could load an analysis and movie, play through in the appropriate ways, and people could create new markers and navigate between markers for the first time. It crashed a lot when people used it, but in general the response was good. Through watching people use it, we picked up a couple of interface details which seemed to confuse people, and Roger gave us some good comments at the end.

As of now, the network implementation is up in the air. We believe loading from and saving to a server is technically possible, but it does not seem to be a reasonable goal for Thursday. We talked to Roger about it and he thought that the core program without the network capabilities was solid and would certainly be good enough to turn in. He has advised us to figure out what it would take to get the network stuff working, and if we can't do it by Thursday, to describe in writing what it would take so that if Darrell wants it to be implemented in the future, it would be quickly apparent how much work would be involved. Our first reactions to this proposition were very positive, and we tentatively plan on adhering to it. So what remains is to get the 'core' program polished up and ready for Thursday.



UPDATE: The project proceeds apace. We will present a prototype to the class tomorrow, and expect to have the functionality of the playback mode in place by then- reading in a data file and a movie, controlling the movie, moving between the markers, displaying the marker information in both the marker index and the display fields, and generally having all the parts of the program talk to each other and play well together.

After this, the features which remain to be implemented are primarily the functions which are specific to the editing mode- namely, getting the 'Mark' button to stop the movie and activate the marker creation/editing fields and checkboxes, getting the new marker information from the text fields and checkboxes, saving it and updating everything accordingly, and providing users the ability to cancel a marker during its creation and change and delete existing markers. Aside from editing functions, we need to decide if/how the presentation of the example ('tutorial') analysis will differ from that of the ads to be analyzed by the students, how Prof. West's analysis of the ad in question will be presented to the student after s/he finishes the analysis, and finally, how the students' analyses will be saved and, once they're saved, accessed by other students, Prof. West, and the larger community.

At some point in the near future, we also need to conduct a usability study of some sort on a group of people similar to our target audience and incorporate the feedback into our project. This will most likely be done on friends of ours, some of whom are Political Science concentrators. We plan on doing this sometime this weekend or early next week.


From the initial meeting, we came up with several ideas for the project. As a starting point, we could present the students with a straight frame-by-frame analysis of a television campaign ad. However, we feel it is more important to allow the students to interact with the project. One way we considered doing this was via the apprenticeship model. This could involve the students going through a step by step analysis where the program does all of the work and then proceeding to more ads where gradually the students become more responsible for dissecting the ads themselves. Other ideas for interaction include the use of polls, where students could express their opinons and reactions to an ad, and then see how other students felt/reacted. Our impression is that the most important issue in the analysis of the television ads is not so much a cut and dry depiction of how an ad is deconstructed. Rather, we feel that the students' reaction to and critical interpretation of the ad is where the most valuable learning takes place. Since there will be a large number of students taking part in the class, we feel that the program may end up being a way for students to interact with each other and see how differentindividuals react to different ads. If students entered their demographics it might also be worthwhile to see how different demographics reacted. Professor West also expressed some interest in some sort of online quiz. Although this is feasible, our feeling is that it should involve more than would be possible via a standard paper quiz in the classroom. Rather than something to be graded on, perhaps this could become another avenue for the students to see other's thoughts on the material.

Another point we discussed, which may not be feasible due to the levels of bandwidth and available material, was a portion of the program where students could design their own campaign ads. Perhaps another way of approaching this would be for students to enter the various demographics they want an ad to target. Then, the program would be responsible for finding an ad that fit those criteria.

At this point, we feel that more discussion with both Professor West and the target audience would be helpful. We felt that discussing the different ideas we have presented with political science concentrators would be a good idea. That way we would have some idea as to how useful and educational our project as conceived so far seems to them.

TECHNICAL ISSUES/TOOLS: Since Professor West seemed most interested in having this program be web based and attached to the website which he is already maintaining, our deployment would have to be web based. In our discussion Director, Flash, and standard methods of interactive websites (backend databases and scripting, etc.) were all mentioned. Our final conclusion seems to be that the program may end up being a combination of several of these.




TARGET AUDIENCE: Brown Undergraduates in PS 111

SCHOOL & TEACHER WE ARE WORKING WITH: Darrell West, Professor of Political Science, Brown University

TARGET COMPUTERS: PCs and Macs (Cluster machines) Netscape & IE 4+

DESCRIPTI$ At this time, Professor West is somewhat vague in his ideas for the project. He is open to our suggestions, and seems to want us to come up with some of the subject matter as well as implementation of the program. The guidelines that he did give us were:

1. The project will be web based.
2. It will focus on the relationship of media and politics
3. A large part of the project will center around the deconstruction of a television campaign ad.