“Digital Life”: an augmented music video parody #edcmooc final artifact

For the final assessment task in the “E-Learning and Digital Cultures” MOOC (#etmooc) we were asked to, in the form of a digital artifact/artefact

“express a question, an idea, a problem, a hope, a worry or a provocation that the course has raised for you. Consider how you can express something of your own context as an educator, student and/or technologist. What has the impact of this course been on your understanding of e- learning?”

I was suddenly and overwhelmingly inspired to get back in the History for Music Lovers saddle and develop a parody music video. One song called to me – “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. Not only did this have the early 80′s vibe I yearn for, but it was in fact the first video to appear on MTV – an entity which defines my generation. Moreover, the original lyrics center around nostalgia, change, and technology – all elements I wanted to revisit with my new lyrics.

Bare-bones version:

“Pop-Up” augmented version


***you will need to pause the video and explore the hyperlinks

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 5.44.39 PM


1. Lyrics

One afternoon after school I hashed out the lyrics- some lines flowed while others I labored over for 3o minutes or more. I wanted the song to be a social commentary on how “digital life has (fundamentally) changed who we are”. I’m a bit of a technological/media determinist and great fan of Marshall McLuhan, so there’s a lot of influence there. But primarily the lyrics were derived from personal observation of myself, my students, and friends. They are more a reflection of “it is what it is” than a judgement of the negatives. Of course I held fast to my usual cheekiness.

We’ve had the Internet since 1992

And now I never have a sense of “what to do?”

Because  we’re all just nodes- connecting- me and you

Oh-a oh

We wonder if all information should be free

And with our education – how “tech” could it be?

..If our devices might change our biology

Oh-a oh

I’ll get my Mac Pro

Oh-a oh

and go to Google

Digital Life has changed who we are

Digital Life has changed who we are

We’re bi – nary in our hearts

Oh-a-a-a oh

And now we tweet and blog and hashtag all our thoughts

Our children start to play with personal robots

Nothing is real until we Instagram our shots

Oh-a oh

You gotta post it

Oh-a oh

that makes it Le-git

Digital Life has changed who we are

Digital Life has changed who we are

GPS to drive my car

my phone finds me restaurants and bars

Oh-a- oh


Digital Life has changed who we are

Digital Life has changed who we are

Sometimes I think it’s so bizarre

I’m with you but my mind is far

Distraught when I lose Wi-Fi bars

just want to be a YouTube star…..

…a viral video star

2. Recording.

The next day I recorded all the vocal parts using my trusty snowball mic and Garageband. After listening to my exported file in the car for a few rounds I was satisfied that I could start filming.

3. Shooting and Editing

Back when my creative partner and tech guru Herb Mahelona were in full swing with History for Music Lovers we would take a few hours to film a video (several times through with different angles, costume changes, and a hi-def camera). He would then use his magic Adobe After FX skills to craft some elaborate footage. But this time I had no camera and no Herb – I knew I needed to shoot everything with my little iPhone4 and edit in iMovie. Thankfully, the look I was going for was lo-fi vintage ’80s cheesy music video, so it worked (with the help of some contrast altering, disco balls, windy fan, and raster effect).

4. Augmenting in Popcornmaker

From the get-go I know I wanted to release 2 versions – one just-video version and one “pop-up” version augmented with explanations and resources. For this I used Mozilla Popcornmakerwhich unfortunately cannot be embedded (iframe issue) in WordPress. I used my Diigo lists to locate articles and videos I’ve saved throughout the years that would be relevant to the lyrics (some specific ones I had in mind while writing the lyrics).

5. Reflecting

I am really thrilled to have completed this project in a relatively short period, and to have branched out from my usual song topics. More than that I surprised myself in doing everything myself (perhaps I’ll now tackle some Historyteachers videos we’ve had on the backburner). When I released the first version, I received some great feedback from my PLN on Twitter, Facebook, and G+. Someone must have asked their students to compare the original with mine because I happened upon this series of blog posts.

We’ll see what happens with the assessment, but for now I’m pretty pleased. Hope you enjoy it too.

By the way, my favorite line is “Nothing is real until we Instagram our shots” – what’s yours?

Filed under: edcmooc, etmooc Tagged: Buggles, digital artifact, digital life, edcmooc, marshall mcluhan, mozilla popcornmaker, MTV, music video, parody, technological determinism, technology, Video Killed the Radio Star