All posts by ludwigvan968

Texas A&M Media Lab

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This Fall, the winds of change blustered throughout the Aggieland Communication community. While new Freshmen shuffled throughout the halls of Bolton, eagerly finding their place among within this great university, a new force emerged in Bolton 113 as the Department’s New Media Lab took shape. Spearheaded by Associate Professor of the Practice, Joey Lopez, PhD and implemented by First-Year Lecturers Jonathan Guajardo and Xiaofei Song, the lab drew students from a variety of majors to the department to engage in all manner of media production and exploration.

A NEW SPACE FOR A NEW TYPE OF STUDENT

While utilized previously as a makeshift flex-space room, Bolton 113 now serves as a place for students to work on their creative works outside the classroom, connecting and collaborating with other like minded creatives from all majors. Having spent a good portion of the summer transforming the space from its original studiously ornamented decor to its current maroon digi-styled existence, the Lab currently features a plethora of advanced equipment for students to experiment with. Over the summer, Joey Lopez secured a $10,000 Academic Innovation Grant grant to help equip the fledgling Lab. This grant provides the students with access to a wide assortment of industry-standard media equipment such as two 4K Sony SLR cameras, several 4K video monitors, as well as a variety of microphones and video recorders. As part of the Lab’s pedagogy, students are encouraged to check out the equipment at their discretion and make creative works, both as part of their COMM coursework as well as for their own personal growth and development. 

The first official New Media meetup took place on October 15, 2019 at 5 PM in the newly converted Media Lab. Unlike in other classes or organizations, students who participated in New Media meetups were never told what to do specifically with the equipment. Help would be provided to anyone who desired to learn more about any particular device, however, the Lab’s moderators would always encourage the students to think outside the box and make something they would be proud of and something they are passionate about. This philosophy is part of the core values that the Lab was founded on: Make Stuff, Take Risks, and Be Awesome. 

Organized into two parts, the meetups would begin with a facilitative discussion proctored by Dr. Lopez where the students in attendance would have an opportunity to share any projects they may be working on currently. Constructive feedback would then be provided by both their peers as well as the faculty members in attendance. 

Part Two would consist of an instructive portion led by Jonathan Guajardo who spent his time teaching the students the basics of the equipment the lab has to offer and would then let the students have in-meeting time to use the new gadgets they just learned about. Wandering throughout the expanses of the university grounds, the students would take the equipment all around Aggieland, telling stories, making media, and building a creative community wherever they went. Three of this year’s meetings (Oct. 15, Nov. 12, 19) were held on campus and one (November 19th) was held in the trendy Downtown Bryan area. At the last meetup, students were given the opportunity to walk around in a small urban setting and shoot video and photos of what they encountered along the way. 

NEW FACES FOR A NEW PROGRAM

Jonathan Guajardo and Dr. Xiaofei Song

Two new faces joined Joey Lopez, Ph.D. this year to build up the New Media program within the Communication Department: Lecturers Jonathan Guajardo and Xiaofei Song. Hired, in part, to implement the New Media curriculum proposed by Lopez in his first year as a Lecturer at A&M, the new faculty members taught two sections each of the 200-Level Communication Technology Skills course (COMM 230) with Guajardo teaching one additional section of New Media and the Independent Voice (COMM 250).

Jonathan Guajardo came from San Antonio where he earned his B.A. and his M.A. in Communication Arts from the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW). An understudy of Dr. Lopez during his tenure as an Associate Professor at UIW, Guajardo completed his Master’s Capstone project in the Alternative Pedagogical Methods of Black Mountain College and analyzed how they were implemented in the former ACTLAB at the University of Texas at Austin and the Convergent Media Program at UIW. Bringing 10 years in professional media production experience to Texas A&M, he also owns his own media production company, GA Media. A lifelong Texas Aggie fanatic, he currently is living a dream by teaching at Texas A&M and strives to teach his students to dream big and never stop innovating in their field regardless of what their career goals may be. 

Xiaofei Song came to Texas A&M from Pullman, WA, where she earned her Ph.D. from Washington State University (WSU). Xiaofei has a research background in socially constructed meaning of intimate relationship, nutrition literacy, and health communication with Indigenous population; and she has teaching experience in digital content creation and intercultural communication. Xiaofei believes the creation of digital contents not only help individuals to further understand a phenomenon, but also allow them to explore a way of communication that can better tell their stories. 

LOOKING FORWARD TO A NEW SEMESTER

As the semester wrapped to a close, the New Media faculty found some time to reflect on all that had been accomplished this semester. In total, we established and outfitted an entirely new lab within the Communication Department for our students to use, organized four well-attended meetings, and met numerous students interested in working on projects as part of the New Media Lab. For the coming semester, we anticipate a New Media student organization to emerge with several students vocalizing that they would like to have one created and others who are currently working on drafting out a constitution and by-laws to present to the TAMU Student Government Association in the Spring. We are also looking for new opportunities to collaborate with other departments within the Texas A&M community and seeking new avenues for growth. All in all, TAMU New Media is on the rise. See everyone in Spring 2020 and Gig ‘Em Aggies!

Follow the Media Lab on Facebook: Click Here

Student Projects from COMM 230 and COMM 250 Courses taught by Jonathan Guajardo, joey lopez phd and Xiaofei Song Ph.D.

SanArte

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As many of you all may know, I co-own and operate a HiFi store on the Westside of San Antonio called Dreamonoid’s located at the intersection of Trinity and Guadalupe.  Being part of the neighborhood is something of a family tradition as my grandmother’s uncles owned a bakery just a couple blocks down from our shop and many of my ancestors are buried in the San Fernando Cemetery.   

It has been awesome to familiarize myself with the space, whether it is riding my bike around the neighborhood and down to the mission creekway or going to Linda’s for a family breakfast, the space has a feeling that is unique and brings back memories and feelings of my wife and I’s cultural backgrounds, her being from Crystal City, TX.

I was recently contacted by a colleague of mine, Clarrisa Ramon who asked me if I could attend a non-profit event at the Avenida Guadalupe Plaza.  I had no idea what the event was but said yes immediately as I knew it would be just a few blocks down from the shop.

When I showed up I learned it was SanArte, a community organized Health Clinic series.  SanArte is a collaboration between multiple community leaders and the City of San Antonio’s District 5 Council’s office of Shirely Gonzales.  The idea stemmed from a community concern regarding the fencing of Avenida Guadalupe Plaza which was erected roughly 2 and a half years ago due to concern for public safety.  The concern for public safety stemmed from frequent loitering which resulted in drug use, public intoxication and prostitution.  

As someone who has a business two blocks away I can attest to these issues in and around Plaza Guadalupe.  

I was able to interview two of the organizers. Rebel Mariposa and Vanessa Quezada PharmD.  Both provided some great insight into SanArte and how they worked with District 5 council office of Shirely Gonzales to develop 5 clinics, one each month starting in May 2019.  

SanArte’s approach to their Health Clinic amazed me as an anthropologist, a community member and as someone with health issues.  When you enter SanArte as a community member you are greeted by volunteers who have you fill out some health information and take your vitals.  You are then able to participate in traditional Latinx healing sessions such as dance, music therapy, massage, Limpia’s, engage with pharmicists, licensed mental health professionals, as well as obtain food bags, partake in cook tutorials and  enjoy a fresh hot meal.

I look foward to future events put on by the community.  It’s amazing to see people come together and offer something unique yet very needed in the Westside community.  Thank you!

For the full scoop check out the interviews I was able to conduct:


CMC Goes to Texas A&M

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Howdy and greetings from College Station, Texas! While it’s been a while since our last post on the Convergent Media Collective website, it is not for lack of engagement. As a matter of fact, the previous months have been some of the most jam-packed in recent memory, and we haven’t had time to update the website as much as we should. So, here is a little recap of some of the major changes that have taken place within the Collective:

As you may be aware, in the Spring of 2017, the Convergent Media Collective lost its academic home at The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) when Dr. Lopez left the institution. However, following the secession from the university, the program didn’t falter and kept expanding throughout the expansive limits of San Antonio. Meetings continued to be held at locations such as Dr. Lopez’s HiFi store, Dreamonoids, which he runs with founding CMC member, Christian Rios. In addition, we held events at other select locations around town such as Launch SA in the Downtown Public Library. 

Jonathan Guajardo & joey lopez phd

2018 and early 2019 brought with them some amazing changes for Joey Lopez, Ph.D. as well as founding CMC member, Jonathan Guajardo. After serving as a Lecturer in Texas A&M University’s (TAMU) Department of Communication in the 2018-2019 Academic Year, Dr. Lopez will officially become an Associate Practicing Professor and Director of the New Media Lab at Texas A&M in the Fall of 2019. In addition, Jonathan Guajardo will be joining the TAMU faculty as a Full-Time Lecturer and will assist in building the New Media Lab while teaching new media and traditional communication courses in the Department. 

Having some fun with joey lopez phd’s alma mater .

The scope of this news cannot be underestimated, as these appointments in College Station provide our Collective with a new home base and provides a unique opportunity for inter-city networking. Over the coming months, here is what you can expect to see from the Collective:


  • We hope to expand on Dr. Lopez’s and Professor Guajardo’s research in the fledgling field of Entrepreneurial Communications, which they will be conducting both at Texas A&M University and within the greater Central and South Texas area.
  • We will be hosting BarCamp San Antonio in 2019, which will provide scholars and citizens a unique opportunity to share their research and ideas with like-minded individuals outside of the restrictive nature of a traditional academic conference.
  • As alluded to above, we will be developing a New Media Lab at Texas A&M whereby students, faculty, and staff can be empowered to collaborate and create projects that have far-reaching implications beyond the proverbial brick and mortar of an academic setting.
  • In the Spring of 2019, Dr. Lopez received a $10,000 Texas A&M University ITS equipment grant which enabled him to acquire necessary full-scale production equipment to facilitate the Department’s vision of new media-centric academic pursuits. This equipment will be able to be used by students and other CMC members who want to “Make Stuff, Take Risks and Be Awesome” (as per the Former ACTLAB’s motto). 

With all these changes taking place, it is necessary to note that the work of the Convergent Media Collective transcends our new academic home. Over the following months, we will be circling back and highlighting more of our members’ current endeavors. Many integral CMC folks have gone on to become highly successful both artistically and professionally, with many also choosing to venture into the realm of advocacy. So, stay tuned for more articles, video updates, and social media posts, because not only is the Collective alive and well, we are in fact venturing to new heights and making advances every day to live out our mantra. So, in the words of Yebediah The Converger, “Keep on Converging!”