Category Archives: proposals

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.

Project outline: punk and cyberpunk

Since I posted my initial proposal, I’ve decided to back away from the creative option a little bit in order to stick to what I know: blogging. I had fantasies about concocting a hand coded and structured site to host my project, but based on time constraints and the amount of research and writing I’d like to be able to do to really get my ideas in order, it makes way more sense to let a machine handle the back-end. I still intend to get creative with the style and execution of the posts, and I hope that the more informal and flexible structure of a blog will reinforce the ideas I present in ways that a traditional academic essay couldn’t. Here are some of the topics I intend to address:

I. The Story So Far

  • Issues raised by the original punk moment in the 70s
    • nihilistic/dystopian aesthetic
    • connection to avant-garde tradition
    • Punk and politics, esp. anarchism and upset in the social order
    • Impact on the music industry: seizing the means of production?
  • “post-punk” era of the mid-late 80s
  • late 80s/early 90s: cyberpunk! a new mutation of the punk aesthetic or faulty appropriation of the punk discourse?
    • as it pertains to the literary/artistic aesthetic, the “punk” in cyberpunk is hard to decipher
    • Critics addressing aesthetic links between punk and cyberpunk tend to misrepresent the history/ideology of punk
  • the present: an (apparently) decentralized, semi-anarchic DIY media environment online presents the defining terms for contemporary music and subculture, aesthetically and economically

II. Case studies

I intend this to be a pretty significant part of my project, but as such I’m having a hard time nailing down the specifics. The media objects/events I address will vary greatly depending on how the overall gist of my argument takes shape. However, a lot of the examples I mentioned in my original proposal still stand as strong contenders.

III. Unifying Themes and Analysis

  • The Society of the Spectacle
    • Ties between punk and the Situationist International, esp. Debord’s notion of “the spectacle”
      • Debord’s influence on postmodern theorists like Baudrillard
    • Cyberpunk ostensibly fills an emerging need for artistic response to the “postmodern condition”
  • Noise
    • exploring the aesthetic possibilities of noise (in music and to some extent in subcultural “style”)
    • “culture jamming” and playful subversion/subversive play
  • DIY ethos
    • decentralized media production challenging centralized authority
    • the risk of reinventing the wheel, resultant issues of ahistorcism/mystification

Apologies if the outline is somewhat obscure. Since a lot of this is building off research I did last semester, it might be helpful to check out my original project proposal for my Marxism and Cultural Studies term paper, and the subsequent revised proposal.

Project Outline

So here is a written map of the way I plan for my project to take form, I’m currently working through the aesthetic look of the interface.  All comments are appreciated!

I.     Initial Screen: Introduction to Web 2.0 and to four stories that lead to four different aspects of how one can use Web 2.0 as a tool for social change, selfempowerment, fun and education.

a.     The guide is meant to target youth and students specifically within communities that are often undrrepresented and denied access to digital media literacy tools.

b.     The program is navigated by pressing on certain words that are linked to another section of the program.

i.     i.e. by clicking on the section titled Video the user is directed to a story of a student deciding to create their own video utilizing Open Source Cinema.  The print narrative will then transition to a visual narrative of how one would use the program.

II.    The narratives are those of 4 students interacting with media through four different programs.  In each of these narratives as the student in the story decides to use each tool the user also learns how to navigate these diffiernt programs.

III.  Each narrative is modeled around four concepts of Video, Audio, Print, Play,  Within each level historical and legal contexts are included within the narrative to provide a theoretical component to the practical use of each program.  Below are components of each theme to be explored and coded within the program/narratives I’m writing in Processing.

a.     Video

i.     Objective: To provide a tutorial of using film to convery messages of interest and address the issue of representation.  As well as explore the concept of open source software and media as a tool for collaboration and community building with potential for positive real life consequences.

ii.     Progam to be instructed for use:  Open Source Cinema

b.     Audio

i.     Objective: To show and explain how music has been used historically and can now be digitally created with creative and social purposes.

ii.     Progam to be instructed for use:  OpSound

c. Print

i.     Objective: To show how literary traditions can be expanded through digital means.

ii.     Program to be instructed for use: Blogger and Blogspot use

d. Play

i.     The student in this narrative is modeled after me as the user of Processing creating a program and offering a basic understanding of how Processing works through an example of a simple pong-like game I coded.

ii.     Objective: To explore how learning these technologies can also be used for enriching one’s own experience with digital tools for fun AND for education.

iii.     Program to be instructed for use: Processing and A Force More Powerful

1.     A Force More Powerful is a video game that teaches non-violent strategies for social change.

IV. Once the user has navigated through all the paths within each section they are then offered the options of which narrative they would like to view/interact with next.

V.   Final Screen: A conclusion that will be derived from my the six page appendix, explaining the social relevance and motiviations for this project.

VI. Appendix:

a.      Critically explore the role of a mediated public sphere and how that impacts certain communities in different ways.

b.     Draw on our readings to explore how technologies have developed within our society.

i.     Within the context of the technical aspects of these tools as well as their relation to the greater shifts in thought occurring during that time period.

Ignore my previous proposal

The more that I have been thinking about my project, the more I want to change it. Originally, before my post about science fiction, I wanted to put my thesis online, in a format that would be more engaging that just reading a bound collection of text on paper. I was having a difficult time conceptualizing how I could successfully implement my thesis online, and felt that I might be sick of my topic if I focused on it for two classes. However, today I thought of a way that I might put it online and have decided to change my project back.

My thesis topic is on online deliberation. I am interested in a discussion of the public sphere outlined by Habermas, where in a successful implementation of the public sphere, individuals are able to speak freely with others, discussing issues and ultimately coming to a consensus. This type of public spheres allows for “deliberative democracy,” a type of democracy that is seen as more aligned with actual democracy than how we see democracy carried out today. The Internet is seen as a forum where deliberative democracy can materialize; the system of the internet, in theory, is open to everyone.

I wrote one chapter on online deliberation and e-democracy, a sort of lit review. My second chapter was on Twitter and Facebook and how users of social networks in devloping countries can use the internet as a medium for social change when organizing on the streets is prohibitive. I am working on a blogging chapter now where I am arguing that feminist blogs allow for women to participate in the public sphere with greater access and scope. My last chapter is on online education tools. I want to probe at the question of whether or not having educational tools available free and accesible online aids in online deliberation and more informed discussion.

SO, my project would be to put the text online available to read. However, the website would make the topic more interesting and engaging to a reader that didn’t want to sit down and read a 60+ page paper. Each section would have short “blog” type entries on the topic, links to my sources, links to similar websites with ideas on deliberation, and graphics. Finally, I would hope that I could set up an environment where online deliberation could take place about online deliberation and some of the theories and questions that I raise in my paper. This way instead of having a paper with a closed argument on deliberation, I could start an on-going discussion of ideas – sort of a free flowing of ideas about my topic.

My paper accompanying the website for Writing Machines would analyze how my topic changes from a paper in a traditional sense to being a paper published online. I want to analyze the differences and how as a writer I feel like my work changes when seen through different display mediums, using the readings of the semester as a tool to navigate these ideas.

Enlarging the Sum – Project Proposal

For my project I would like to enhance the sum total of all of my data. Don Delillo contends that “You are the sum total of your data. No man escapes that.” Instead of trying to escape this debatable truth, I want to embrace it by recreating my life digitally through personal essays with visual and aural accompaniment. Three days ago I began writing a blog ( that I would like to continue to format and develop; the posts already up exemplify (albeit very, very succinctly) the style of the writing I intend to do, but not necessarily the subject matter or length. The posts will be illustrated namely with my own photography.

The blog will pair original content with some level regurgitation (e.g. songs) in order to create an existence online. It will certainly explore McLuhan’s ideas in “The Gadget Lover: Narcissus and Narcosis,” in which he theorizes that people become so fascinated with technological extensions of themselves that this amplification of the self leads to “self-amputation” or numbness to other ways of perceiving oneself and others. Can I amplify my existence so much that I will self-amputate? Perhaps, but then I wouldn’t have much to blog about. I would also like to probe the concept of online morality – Ong claims that when writing a diary the writer fictionalizes the reader, writing for some other self and creating one’s own fiction. Is recreating oneself online a method of building an unstable personal fiction? Do we, as Manovich suggests, have a moral responsibility to recreate ourselves and the world around us accurately?

The analytical essay component will be a page formatted to look like a paper essay, a sort of remediation of the paper essay to the electronic essay. However, the essay will attempt to avoid the drawbacks found in Manovich’s work – namely representing new media through an old medium. All of the terms I use will have examples, so the essay will be in a variable “Choose Your Own Adventure” format where it can be read differently every time and requires interactivity.

Check out and let me know what you think of the idea. Thanks!

Project Proposal

So this is my working proposal, and I might adjust it a little bit.  My project is based around the idea of authorship and new media,  specifically focusing on blog content.  What I’m going to do is choose different blog at random each day – there’s a feature on blogspot that let’s you do so – and write a blog post based on their most recent blog post.  I’m going to mimic the form and style, and write commentary on the content of the blog.   Doing so, I hope look at the different ways that amateur “publishing” is achieved, while considering how we define the “author,” and how what creates legitimacy in writing.  Is it be published?  Are blogs consider a valid form of publishing?  etc

In essence, I’m making a blog about blogs; using the medium I’m analyzing as a tool of analysis itself.  I recognize that I’m partially limited by my lack of computer code skills.  However, this ties into what draws me to the blog.  Limited computer knowledge is necessary beyond the basic computer skills.  You don’t need to be a computer programmer or an academic to write a blog – it is accessible to anyone with a computer and the Internet.  The Internet is flooded with blogs about everything and anything, written by people ranging from all ages.  Through this I hope to gain a better understand of what compels people to write blogs, what they write about, and what makes us read specific blogs as well.

I’m probably going to expand on the form of my project over the next week, but as of now, this is my working idea.

A poetic freeway

For my project I was inspired, in fact, by the name of this course. Writing Machines—seeing as I consider myself a poet, I really wanted to incorporate my lyrical skills into this project. This aspect of my project reminded me of the idea that Landow brought up considering “poetic machines” and how they work according to analogy and association. Throughout the course, I’ve realized how much passive interaction is involved when it comes to machines and human beings—my goal in this project is to move away from that. I was also inspired by the website we had to explore for last class: “The Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot”.  I wanted to incorporate the idea of interaction yet not have it be one that’s as passive as clicking on links or pictures that lead to different sites. I wanted to use Landow’s idea that technology isn’t merely that which is digitally developed in today’s society.  

            For my project I plan to use a variety of different types of mediums, some of which we’ve come to disregard as mediums (writing) in order to compose a chain of poems that are all interconnected and linked together, although they won’t all be on the internet. I want my project to take my audience’s ideas and opinions into consideration. I will compose a series of poems, all of which are a part of one fluctuating and interconnected story, kind of like Afternoon: a Story , only they will all be written up in different forms of mediums. Think of it as one of those detective stories we all used to read as children, only instead of going on to a different chapter, you’ll either have to go onto a recording I did on tape, a site on the internet, a piece of paper I wrote a poem on, or a video. I wanted to come up with a project that’s almost “hyperinteractive”, if you will. After reading each poem, you’ll have to make a decision based off of your opinion on the poem that will lead you to a different one that will be on a different medium. By the end, hopefully, everyone will have gone through different readings of the story after having gone through different routes in my poetry. My goal is to see how the different mediums and different paths shaped my audience’s idea of the story.

Project Proposal

I would like to do a creative project that touches on three themes that I want to address: accessibility to these technologies, learning how to use media, and the functionality of these technologies.  I propose to design an electronic piece of literature that will essentially serve as a how-to-guide of using these technologies. The guide however will be targeted to an audience that does not usually have access to these technologies or access to learning how to engage with them.  The idea behind this stems from my interest in thinking of ways to bridge the digital divide while also being able to personally conceive and engage with technology in innovative ways.

My project will consist of an electronic piece of literature that through engaging with the technology the user will be introduced to content that explains the processes at work during the experience.  It will have technical explanations as well as theoretical concepts – framed within a historical context – to allow the user to understand the work that is being done with the technology. I plan on designing this technology through the technical skills I have with a program called Processing, which will have an interface similar to that of the cyber text literature that we had read, but it will be completely designed and computer coded by me and then put online for use.  This will allow me to exercise practical skill while being able to invent a new experience for myself and other users – keeping in mind that each experience is going to be different. My hope is that this literature becomes a tool that exemplifies theory in practice, a way of facilitating education through technology theory.  By clicking on different prompts the user will be directed to textual information that they will read to receive information or technological lessons, or they will be directed toward interactive forms of the text that asks them to use the instructions provided earlier to test their functional skills in the technology.  This guide will be fulfilling to me as a creator but also to larger communities as a tangible and interactive tool for education and social change.

Enlace Zapatista

For my project I plan to continue my exploration of the indigenous uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, the EZLN (Zapatista National Liberation Army). Last semester, I wrote a chapter of my dissertation which explores the theoretical aspects of the movement as a neo-marxist approach to the pursuit of social justice. This semester, I want to complete another chapter where I explore the use of media (mainly the internet website Enlace Zapatista, as well as several newspaper articles, videos/documentaries, and songs about the movement). I would like to explore the complexity of the incorporation of media to this revolutionary movement and whether or not it has been a more effective method of achieving social justice for the indigenous people who make up the majority of the movement.

I plan to review the content of the various letters and communiques sent to local newspapers by Subcomandante Marcos since 1994. The book titled Shadows of Tender Fury provides a list of the communiques since the public emergence of the movement, which will be a great source for the first part of my project. Secondly, I plan to explore other books, as well as the EZLN website (for which I have been a member for years) to explore the direction of the movement through the past years.

Finally, I plan to incorporate the Media Studies’ theoretical models we have been studying in this class to the analysis of the effects of the media in the development and evolution of the EZLN.  Using McLuhan and the effects of technology, media and society, and media and our thought processes. McLuhan also discusses the “global village” which would be very relevant to the strategies used by the EZLN to appeal to an international audience.  As well as others as our course develops.


My term project will be a piece of creative non-fiction exploring the question (roughly) of how we got from ‘punk’ to ‘cyberpunk’ and beyond. I wrote my term paper for Marxism and Cultural Studies last semester about punk rock and punk culture in the 1970s, so I see this project as a way to build on my research while bringing the subject a little closer to the 21st century.

Science fiction author Bruce Bethke coined the term “Cyberpunk” in 1983 as the title for a short story of the same name. Cyberpunk (a portmanteau of “cybernetics” and “punk”)  became a sci-fi genre in its own right, popularized by the work of authors like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, as well as retroactively applied to earlier work by J.G. Ballard, Phillip K. Dick, Thomas Pynchon, and even William Burroughs. According to the Wikipedia entry on cyberpunk, the cyberpunk narrative is characterized by “advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.”

I’ve always been intrigued by the various ways “punk” has become a catch-all term for an anarchic, dystopian aesthetic, and particularly in the ways this sensibility manifests itself on the Internet, arguably the space in which many of today’s major upsets in the social order are orchestrated. Cyberpunk hit its peak of cultural vogue in the early 90s and mercifully faded from the pop-cultural radar (until the Matrix trilogy came out and blew teenage minds worldwide, anyway) but traces of the sensibility linger tantalizingly in many aspects of digital culture today.

I’m still figuring out what form the project will take, but it will definitely include multimedia, fragmentary thought processes, some web code craziness, and otherwise depart interestingly from the standard academic essay format.

As a starting point, here’s a charming article entitled “Cyberpunk R.I.P.” by Paul Saffo, from the Sep/Oct 1993 issue of Wired.

Various other points of interest…

Cyberpunk in pop culture

  • Hollywood tries to make computers look exciting, hilarity ensues (eventually, the Matrix)
  • Cyberpunk in comics and anime. The future of cartooning, cartooning the future
  • In music, the subject of several concept albums, including Billy Idol’s universally-panned 1993 album Cyberpunk and David Bowie’s better-recieved 1. Outside
  • …and, more broadly, the futuristic aesthetic manifested in various post-punk musical genres including noise, industrial, and electronic music

Cyberpunk and cyberculture

  • The romanticization of the hacker as postmodern outlaw
  • Sci-fi goes postmodern, postmodernity goes sci-fi
  • Wired magazine and (post)cyberpunk ideology
  • Punk/DIY culture in the ’90s and its relationship (if any) to hacker/”maker” culture in the late ’90s and ’00s