Author Archives: Tlali

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:

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!

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:

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!

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.


The two sites assigned for this week arose many questions in me which I’m very interested in discussing with the class tomorrow. The most interesting one for me is We Feel Fine. Beginning with the title, it seems as though the site is promoting a certain ideal among a particular Western-like population. The site is truly a work of art which was created by very talented experts in the field of computer science (which made me feel pretty inept in regards to my semester project). It is very easy to navigate and beautifully decorated with many colors and categories to investigate. The link available through the “News” icon provides a great description summary of the project (some of you may have seen it already).

We Feel Fine is an outstanding site which provides valuable and concise information about the feelings of people through the World Wide Web (not to confuse it with people all over the world). Johathan Harris and Sep Kamvar are young innovative artists who have clearly done a wonderful and fruitful job in marketing this website. The publishing of their book (from information obtain on the website) is a good indicator of the popularity of this site. Rather than focusing on the strenghts of this site, I decided to discuss some of the concerns or questions I had on this project.  My questions center mainly on the methodology, legitimacy, and privacy of issues.

What is the main purpose or goal of We Feel Fine? How quantifiable or legitimate are the so-called feeling expressed through out this site? How accurate is their methodology for collecting such data? Particularly when they are dealing with the combination of qualitative data in a quantitative form of analysis.

Do you think that the collection of such personal information violates or threatens the privacy of the informants? Do you have any concerns about your privacy after exploring this site?

Why publish a book about the project? What do you think are the strenghts and weaknesses of the book?

Can feeling be quantified? How are they different than emotions? Could they just be an expression of language or communication? Do you think that claimed differences in gender and age can be generalized?

Finally, the authors of We Feel Fine claim “This is a project about people. Blogs are just the medium.” Do you agree with this statement?

Twistori seemed to offer a shorter version of the the same site, but in a simplified way I was wondering what would be the differences and similarities of the two sites. What are the advantages of twistory?

What is the “Big Plot”?

After reading all the various aspects and characters of “The Big Plot” I realized that the question of the Big Plot was not necessarily what the site claimed. On the one hand, there are characters who criticize the effects of unregulated capitalism, such as consumerism.

Mark Savin had many statements which really got me thinking (unfortunately I lost my notes where I had compiled them). One of the statements he made centered on traveling and tourism. I love to travel and never before had reflected on the effects and complexity of our desire to travel. In this sense, Mark points out the consumerism and emptiness we have in our lives which makes us seek out exotic destinations. Yet, when we travel, do we really see the cultures as they are or are these just constructed cultures for our enjoyment and consumption? For example, as I have traveled to Latin America, I have been able to witness the way that indigenous people dress-up to play the part of “noble savage” so sought after by the tourist. I have also been upset when Americans go to Latin America and get upset that the local people don’t speak English well. As though if they are not doing “their job” of pleasing the tourist. I guess Mark was the character I was most attracted to due to his Marxist ideals, though I don’t know that they would be truly Marxist actually.

Another aspect of the Big Plot which I really disliked was the way that the authors used sensationalizing language on their site to attract a particular type of user. I think that it is deceiving and claims to do something which really never does.  “Love – espionage – sentiment – hate – politics – corruption – turmoil
are rendered in a form of fiction which doesn’t treat the spectator as a consumer, contemplating a completed piece of art in a tv-box, theatre or museum, but rather as something unfinished.” It plays on universal themes and yet does not deliver what it offers.
It also states that  “The Big Plot is an immersive Recombinant Fiction, which needs an active investigation by an audience, who must follow clues in several stages in order to compile the whole story. So now you can take the responsibility of creating your own show!” I agree that the audience has to look for information (not necessarily clues) to piece together the story, but I don’t know how the audience creates her own show? Maybe I was just missing something.

Finally, it is the message that I found most contradicting. The idea is to promote so-called Global Consciousness, yet it seems to do this through mediums which are infiltrated with advertising, such as: Facebook – Youtube – Flicker – BlogSpot – Twitter – MySpace – Linkedi. I wonder how effective is the Big Plot in achieving its goal? or could the goal be something different?

Flight Paths

It is quite interesting to learn about the various cases in which immigrants from Asia can be so desparate to find work that they would go to the extent that they did. The story and project Flight Paths describe the complexity and terror of such immigrants, who, in their desire to improve their lives go through various horrific actions that lead to their demise.

I like the way the website was created. It is very interactive, perfectly timed and with beautiful music and graphics. From the beginning, I felt drawn to the experience of Yacub in Dubai. Later the life of Harriet, which seems almost as uncertain and even empty. I like the way that the story overlaps when both “Paths Cross”  and the results of that. Overall, this is a great project, very nice and short as well as entertaining.

The Cave & Gamer Theory

When I read the title of McKenzie Wark’s book Gamer Theory, it reminded me of a theory which has become very controversial today, Game Theory. In a nut shell, Game Theory centers on the notion of individualistic concepts eventually driving the economy to prosperity. Yet this book seems to take a different approach. To begin with, the first chapter is titled “The Cave” and it makes reference to Plato: The Allegory of the Cave. Plato would argue that the “Cave” is the place where most people who have not reached enlightenment are found, operating mindlessly in their daily routine. It is mainly through education that people can emerge from the cave. Another of Plato’s ideas was that “education is not a process of putting knowledge into empty minds, but making people realize what they already know.

McKenzie further explores the concept of a military entertainment complex and its rules. The way in which violence and war become a game. Yet, the “digital game plays up everything that game space merely pretends to be: a fair fight, a level playing field, free competition” (20). In other words, the digital game transcends into an emergent cultural form. Digital games transcend the gaming experience by allowing networks to form and the ability to enter and leave the “game zone” at will. Perhaps it is because all these technological advances have been so recent that there has been an increase in the academic interest of this cultural phenomenon. McKenzie also explains how “The world outside is a gamespace that appears as an imperfect form of the game. The gamer is seen as an archaeologist of the Cave. Digital games are “ruins” of a lost future. Gamespace is built on the ruins of a future it proclaims in theory yet disavows in practice” (21). This part seemed very interesting but I’m not clear on the connection of the archaeologist of the future. It seems quite odd as archaeology has always been the study of past remain.

The concept of the gamespace as the future is explained under the chapter analyzing The Sims. McKenzie explains that games produce in the gamer an intuitive relation to the allegorithm for a future which may never come. Perhaps it is the desire or longing for equality for all what grants the Sims such popularity, their homogenity and lack of ethnic features may be calling on the future of humanity as free from hegemonic exploitation.

The Need for Narrative

Jill Walker’s text Distributed Narrative: Telling Stories Across Networks nicely aligns with the other works assigned for this week. I was disappointed to have missed class on Wednesday as I’m sure the discussion was very interesting. Jill Walker seems about contradicting in the first part of her essay, where she claims to stay away from formal, standard rules of narrative telling and yet repeatedly conforms to the standard by explaining the attempts of her paper. I really liked Julia Kristeva’s quote (p.4) “any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another” as it really got it thinking about the interconnection of the ideas that combined alter the message. This quote also reminded me of Rettberg’s Kind of Blue. Though at first it seemed confusing and odd to be reading a list of emails and try to find the narrative, I soon found myself embedded in the storyline and unwilling to stop reading. I think these works are not only creatively altering the narrative, but showing how the narrative has many dimensions and layers of complexity. As with the OBEY stickers, the focus should be in the way we engage with our environment as everything around us is a text, and many times, a text of another text, both fluid and dynamic.