Monthly Archives: May 2010

Final Project

I finally finished all the revisions to my Critical Project. As I explained in my presentation, the project basically compiles a lot of the theories in Media Studies with an applied perspective of the topic of online mediation and interaction.

My particular focus was on the function of cyberspace, the racial aspects, whether it is hegemonic or democratic,  and the Zapatistas as a study case to prove its democratic value. Please feel free to read it and send any comments you would like. I’ll set up a blog during the summer, and I can email you all the link. As of now, you can find my paper titled Cyberspace, Revolution or Hegemony at:

Techno-reflections, closing thoughts

First, I just want to say thanks to all of you for making this class the fun, rewarding experience that it was. You are all awesome!

As far as the technologies we used are concerned, I found it very refreshing to be able to integrate theories about writing and digital media and the analysis of electronic literature with the practice of writing with hypertext.

Probably the greatest success for me was collaborative note-taking in Google Wave, which really enhanced my classroom experience (perpetual “shiny” crash-screens aside). I’m typically a very meticulous note-taker, so being able to take notes in a semi-social way really helped me to stay focused on our in-class discussions as well as work ideas out on paper. As far as the blog is concerned, I definitely appreciated the opportunity to reflect on our readings and carry ideas from the course outside the classroom. (I’m pretty familiar with the two-post-a-week routine from previous classes I’ve taken with Prof. Fitzpatrick.) I was a little disappointed with the “discussion” aspect of the blog, though. A lot of our posts (mine included) stuck pretty closely to the “one-page-reading-response” format we’re all used to cranking out for class, which is good for personal reflection/meeting quota, but not so great for inspiring discussion. Partly, it may have been that this was such a small class, and hence more of a challenge to maintain an active dialogue both in and outside of the classroom.

In terms of class structure, I agree with Jori’s assessment that the theory was a little too front-loaded. When we were discussing theory, I had a hard time envisioning how it could be applied, and by the time we got to looking at examples of electronic literature, I had a hard time recalling our discussion of the theory. I think the class could really benefit from a structure where the two were more integrated.

On the whole, though, I got a lot out of this class. It’s going to take me awhile to fully process all the ideas we’ve brought to the table, but I’ve become much more cognizant of the issues surrounding the practice of electronic literature, and, in the process, inspired to explore new ways of writing.

Again, thanks to all of you for a great semester, and good luck to the graduating seniors!

Art and Technology

In thinking about we feel fine I was conflicted in trying to figure out how I felt about the project, in terms of its function.  This desire to attribute some sort of purpose or functionality on this project is most likely embedded in this idea that our technology must be used for some sort of productive end goal.  The project of we feel fine IS doing something, it is creating a documented compilation of what we have coded as feelings all over the internet.  As users of the internet continue to blog and express what they are thinking, doing, feeling with the specific words “I feel,” it is an interesting concept to explore the internal and individual emotion through the written and shared word of “feel.”  Perhaps we can draw conclusions about the shared experiences and lives of the people who are using cyberspace to express these deep and heartfelt emotions with the world.   In recognizing this as being the work that we feel fine is doing, it becomes easier to understand the diverse role that technology and the internet can play in our lives.  Clearly there is the use of digital technology in an art space and atmosphere, which is easy to understand because the function in that work is not necessarily tied to producing some sort of object or completing a task.  However, projects that use technology in ways that straddle that line between art and machine are more interesting to look at, and ultimately open up our eyes to the multifaceted uses of technology.

Final project

Here’s the link to my final project:

The applets aren’t up there, but let me know if you want them sent to you!

Reflecting on Writing Machines-Spring 2010

This class was really one of my favorites.  I think there were a lot of things that worked really well in terms of how the class was organized and run, as well as the content of the class.

Google Wave turned out to be a really helpful resource for the class.  At first it took some getting used to, but it did allow for everyone to assist in putting up ideas from the class discussion and then have that as a resource later.  The class room’s physical layout and the fact that everyone had a computer to use was pretty key to the class and using google wave made it easy to keep everyone from getting too distracted on their computers.
The blog was really helpful and interesting and a nice addition to the class’s discussions, readings and goals, the only thing is sometimes two posts per week were difficult to keep up with.  Otherwise people brought in a lot of really interesting ideas and connections onto the blog, expanding our topics even further into our lives/cyberspace.  Also, leaving up the blogs even after the class is over is great and will allow us to constantly look back and check out the interesting connections we’d made all semester.

The readings were awesome – the progression of the topics made sense in a theoretical and historical way – with each topic building off the last.

This was really a great class and I think that one thing to not change though is in keeping it small – I don’t think the class would have worked as well or been as engaging if it were in a much larger setting.

Thanks for a great semester all!

My Final Project

Here’s the link to my final blog:

Semester Overview

This class has taken my on a writing mechanisms roller coaster.  Beginning the class with Marshall McLuhan’s work on mediums and our relationship to the machine, and ending with various example of Electronic Literature.  This class has not only redefine the way I think about the computer, but how I define literature as well.  Instead of passively interacting with the computer, I know think of the progression in writing tools, starting with the pencil, and coming full circle to the computer.  Even my definition machines has been reevaluated.

Also, for google wave, I was always one of those old fashion students who likes to have a notebook where I write notes, and initially I was really hesitant about google wave.  Turns out it was great.  It was a really helpful tool, and wasn’t too distracting either.   It added to the structure of the class, and was an additional way for us to engage with the material

Excellent Documentary

While reading Jori’s project titled Online Deliberation, I came across a documentary which really sums up a lot of questions and thoughts I had before and even during the semester. This is a PBS Frontline documentary titled “Digital Nation” and it raises a lot of questions on the effects technology has had in our culture, society, and even in our brain.

Some of the points I found fascinating were the effects that technology has had on children, and their socialization. The ways that families today have a different way of socializing and relating, even at the dinner table. Yet the statistics that most shocked me was that the average American youth spends on the average fifty hours a week using technology. This really got me thinking of the potential for indoctrination (see Mc Gonighan’s video on Jori’s website too). This means that this technology is actively teaching our children various ideas. The question then is what is it that children are learning? Can we say that they are being taught to be good consumers? or is there potential for activism and social change?

Finally, the other key point is the effects that the use of this technology has had on  our brains. There is an increase in activity, but according to Dr Small from UCLA, this activity increase may not necessarily be a good thing. Interesting research is being conduction on this. Be sure to watch this and post your thoughts, I would love to read what you think.

Concluding Thoughts

Once again, this semester was a very interesting one. The more classes I take in media studies, the more I connect the relevance with cultural studies in contemporary times. I really liked many of the theorists and their analysis of the way technology interacted with the way we socialize and our culture as a whole. One of my favorites was Manovich and his book The Language of New Media. Manovich kind of reminded me of the course of Marxism and Cultural Studies when he discussed how we can look at the way Marx would analyze media (65) and his analysis of “media prisons” (107),

Another author I enjoyed reading was K. Hayles. She brought some interesting points, though I didn’t agree with her in some occassions. I liked the chapter on the Future of Literacy. I think it was very valuable to have the theoretical background to then move and apply to the specific examples of hypertexts and electronic media.

I had a hard time at the beginning differentiating between some of the terms, such as difference between a cybertext and a hypertext, and electronic media in general. I think this is something we could have discussed in more detail in class. I really liked using Google Wave, for the same reason as Jori, because I was able to pull up all our notes and reference the material faster. I also enjoyed the blog, though doing two entries a week was hard for me because I didn’t know what to write about for the second post. I enjoyed reading other people’s blogs and learned a great deal from their analysis.

I would have liked to explore more on the social interaction with media. Jori’s project had some outstanding videos that discuss the effects of media in our society and how media and technology are changing us. I think that integrating more of these concepts would generate very interesting discussions.

This class has definitely opened my eyes to the vastness of new media and technology, as well as its dynamic characteristics. I realized how little I know about how to work HTML and building a website. I look forward to learning more on this during the summer. Great class, and great company, thank you all!

Technology Reflection

Technology played an important role in this class – through the use of Google Wave, the Blog, as well as the electronic literature pieces that we read online.

Google Wave: When writing my appendix paper for my website, I was grateful to be able to read through our class notes throughout the semester. I think that the use of GW worked best when there was one “lead” note-taker, with everyone else adding small notes if necessary. I think it was also helpful to have the first few minutes of class to look over the reading, adding questions and comments to the wave.

The Blog: I think the blog worked well for this class. Many of the discussions we had in class are occurring simultaneously all over the Internet. By having one blog a week on a topic separate from the reading, I felt motivated to search other outlets for similar discussion threads and examples of what we were talking about in class. This made our discussions more relevant and up to date with current arguments and conversations. For example, watching Digital Nation or We Live in Public informed that way that I started to think about digital culture, surveillance, and online identity – topics that were mentioned in class, yet discussed without much background information. The blog post about the reading was helpful to articulate my own thoughts on the material, as well as read through other’s responses before coming to class to discuss.

Electronic Literature: While I understand the importance of the theory we discussed this semester, I loved the last section of this class. Reading through online projects such as Flight Paths and We Feel Fine opened up a whole new arena of artistic electronic pieces online that I was not aware of before. Because this class discusses the digital narrative, I feel that technology should play a larger role in the beginning of the class. Also, by the end, when it was more technology heavy, I found myself unable to really integrate the theory. Maybe in the future the theory readings could be more intermingled with examples of electronic literature pieces that show what the theory is talking about? For example, contrasting older pieces like Afternoon with newer pieces, side by side, instead of weeks later.

Lastly, I was happy to create an electronic piece in lei of a paper. I learned more about code, the functionality of a website, and was able to think through how the Internet changes narrative structure and literature – far more than would have been possible through a paper.