Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Death of the Novel

So I know we’ve talked a lot about the death of the print novel in class, but something I’ve been thinking about too is the death of the magazine.  More so than the novel and other academic forms of texts, I feel like magazines and newspapers have quickly been dying out, and numerous publications have gone out of print.  I think this is directly related to the rise blogs.  I wrote a post about it for my project, and decided to post it here as well:

Over the past couple of years, various music publications have been forced to downsize or have gone out of business, while music blogs have flourished, expanded, and sprung up all over the internet. How can we view the music blog as a new form of interactive electronic literature – as it builds musical communities, and transfers music based literature to the web. Katherine Hayles opens her book, Electronic Literature, by saying

“Is electronic literature really literature at all? Will the dissemination mechanisms of the internet and the Web, by opening publication to the public to everyone, result in a flood of worthless drivel? Is literary quality possible in digital media or is electronic literature demonstrably inferior to the print canon? What large-scale social and cultural changes are bound up with the spread of digital culture, and what do they portend for the future of writing” (pg 2)

These question correlate directly to my discussion of music blogs, and I argue that it is the audience that serves as the publishing filter. Only those blogs that are well written and that are engaging gain a large readership, and those that are less than are often abandoned. Electronic Literature has lead to the rise of peer review, whereas with print, editors at large judge writers on a set criteria. Now readers have taken on this role. Readers have become active agents in the writing process as the readers comment can relate to anything in the post – ranging from content to typos.

What does this mean for the future of literature? Who knows, but I hope to continue to explore these questions as I read more and more music blogs. I think the engagement of the reader is exciting, if nothing else, and this will shift the way writing is approached. Now writers truly know their audience, and can engage in a direct dialogue with them if they choose to. The possibilities are endless.

The Culture of Technology

After reading Jori’s page titled “Online Deliberation” I watched several videos which I found fascinating. I think we should all spend time reading it and exploring it. One video really caught my eye and got me thinking about the culture of technology and its effects on our culture. It is Frontline’s Digital Nation available in nine segments at:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/

This video discusses the effects technology has had in our societies and culture. One of the points raised which really shocked me was the amount of time children and adolescents spend using technology. On the average young people spend about 50 hours a week (though some other research shows it’s only 22 hours) using technology, which is a long time. This is in a way may be an effective way to socialize or indoctrinate children though it may have some negative effects. For example, in this documentary Dr. Small from UCLA explains the impact in our brain, which may not necessarily be a positive effects. Check it out!

Technology and Violence

In McKenzie Wark’s Gamer Theory this idea of the military entertainment complex is brought up a number of times.  Wark discusses a transformation of game play from a physical space to a virtual space; this shift is not limited to conventional games though this is also evident in war games.  As war becomes increasingly more digital, it becomes easier to remove the physical violence and human face of warfare.  This concept is interesting in the sense that frequently we hear of the digital age as bringing the ability to connect us all over the world.  Online social networking tools are growing as the primary choice for businesses, institutions and communities to connect people across the world.  How then is it possible to think of this technology as a tool of destabilizing the concept of humanity within our brains and facilitating violence into the lives of those we have never seen?

To consider how closely technology can be transformed from a tool into a weapon is a scary thought.  Just as we had read that many of the initial uses of internet and computer technology were for the purpose of military surveillance, it is only so long before we can no longer conceive of a global universe as being connected to the physical and emotional aspects of being human.  As the web and digital technology has the capacity to connect the lives of people across oceans perhaps there is a tragic loss of the human emotion that comes along with the loss of the physical being.  This brings to light the issue of as technology becomes more interactive will we become desensitized to more frequent and large scale uses of violence?

Serial Novels Changing the Role of the Writer

Scott Rettberg’s Kind of Blue provided a different take on what I had conventionally thought of as the serial novel.  The serial novel conjures up images of 19th century literature as being written and distributed in serial form and being compiled into long books that we currently read and wonder why they are so long.  Rettberg’s novel though is in the 21st century and is distributed through the form of e-mail, providing the reader with an ongoing experience of mystery and excitement for the next installment.  This modern take on an old phenomenon makes me wonder what it is that separates these two pieces of work and if it is tied to the form in which the literature is being written and distributed or if there is no difference between then and now.

The cost and time needed to print and produce print literature in a serial form is different than that of sending out an e-mail for free.  While, Rettberg isn’t getting paid for each installment that he writes it is clear that this is not about making a profit from these serial novels.  In the digital format the serial novel does more for the reader than it does for the writer, the reader is given full accessibility, convenience as well as intrigue without much work other than opening an e-mail. This changes the nature of the serial novel because the experience of print was focused around the consumption and act of procuring the next installment of the author’s book, while Kind of Blue is more about the reader being able to instantaneously experience the work that is being written.  If literature in the digital age works place the reader as the primary subject, then what happens to the writer?  Are they more appreciated in the world of print?

Body as Text

Shelley Jackson’s book Skin is an interesting concept because it brings the reader into this more sensory experience of reading.  In knowing that people can become words through the use of their skin it begins to do a lot to change this concept of reading, but it also does a lot to change the concept of our physical bodies as part of the reading experience.   This idea of investing one’s body into this piece of literature in order to consume and read the literature is the most corporeal experience of immersion that one can have when reading.  This makes me wonder if reading is an experience that needs to be bodily as well as mental in order for it to take on different forms and create different pathways into our cognition of the text.

This reminds me of this book called Tactile Mind by Lisa Murphy, which was created with the intent of creating pornography for the blind.  (Here is a CNN video about it) The $225 book is derived from images taken by photographer Murphy and then made the images raised of the page, with Braille text featured alongside the images.   This concept of using one’s hand to perceive a visual image is an interesting way to think about how our bodies and the text we read can become intertwined with one another in a number of ways.  If a body can become a book as in Jackson’s Skin and a book can become a body as with Tactile Mind it becomes increasingly more clear how easily our bodies and technology are evolving together.

Critical Project Draft

I finally finished my draft of the project. I apologize for the lateness, but I decided after much frustration using the blog page to switch to a 20-page paper. I will post it under Sakai for you guys to check out and feel free to post any comments or feedback here. I realize that we are all super busy with our projects so I’ll give you a brief summary.

My paper incorporates the theories we have learned about New Media and the internent, mainly using Lev Manovick, Ong, McLuhan, and a lot from Hayles book. The title is Cyberspace, Revolution or Hegemony, and my focus is on the way following aspects of cyberspace: the Techonological Revolution, the Fucntionality of New Media or cyberspace, Racial Aspects fo the Web, Hegemony or Democracy, and The Zapatistas’ Quest for Democracy. I explore the various aspects of cyberspace and use the Zapatistas as a model for the possibility for promoting democratic goals and creating change.