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:

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.

This isn’t extremely late or anything.

So, I’ve finally managed to get a solid first draft that won’t totally confuse all of you. I’m sorry this took so long, but it took me a while to figure out the format I wanted to present my project in. I’ve also been playing around a lot with transposing content through different mediums; i.e. computer voice through telephone, text through photographs, analog audio through digital video, etc… I’m not entirely finished yet, but here’s a sneek peak at what’s to come. This is only about 1/3 of my project. ENJOY and let me know what you think! I will definitely be taking all comments into consideration for the rough draft due wednesday!

Women and Social Networking

We have been talking extensively in class about the sharing of private information online. Missing from this conversation is the aspect of gender. I came across this article today on Jezebel, “Is Facebook ‘Girly?’? How Men and Women Use Social Media.” The article is written in response to a Forbes article that recently came out discussing “What Men and Women are Doing on Facebook.” The Forbes article cites that:

“the 400-million member site [Facebook] is 57% female and attracts 46 million more female visitors than male visitors per month. Plus, women are more active on Facebook. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says women on Facebook have 8% more friends and participate in 62% of the sharing. “The social world is led by women,” she concludes. And they’re leading that charge online.”

While women use social networks to share and connect, men only use these sites to increase their status. Jezebel responds by saying:

“So let’s say it’s true that women mostly use social media to share experiences — and, as the Forbes article has a duty to point out, be marketed to — and men to post on news sites and promote their careers. If we critique this as something that perpetuates women’s exclusion from influence and power, are we internalizing the belief that if a woman does something, it’s necessarily inferior?”

Does it matter that there are differences in the online behavior or men and women? Is it problematic that there are differences? Personally, I don’t think so. Not everyone uses the Internet for the same reason. However, I don’t think that we can chalk up differences in behavior to gender alone. Age, race, location, access, education – all of this attributes can make a difference in online behavior. Grouping people by their sex creates an incomplete picture.

Heavy Industries

The net art of YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES is different than many of the works we have discussed in the past weeks. The artists began working on these pieces in 1999, yet each work remains relevant ten years later. Each flash “movie” begins in a format we all recognize, the 10 second countdown and a screen with “Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries presents…” This iconic beginning gives the viewer a starting point to identity with – similar to many films we have seen before. Each work tells a different story using sizes of text, speed, and flashes of black to provoke emotion on an otherwise white canvas with black writing in a consistent font. The text moves at a rapid pace, a pace to fast that if you stop concentrating for a millisecond, you will miss something. With the many distractions of the the Internet and the way that we easily have five different tabs open simultaneously, consuming multiple pages on the Internet, the pace of these works keeps the viewer engaged on the Art, and only the Art. Unlike many works we have seen, these flash movies require no interaction, only concentration. We can decide which movies to watch, but the narrative is written and each piece is complete.

Each piece centers around a different theme – sex, surveillance, North Korean culture, politics, the Internet, technology, among others – and each piece seems to take a stance on these themes, relaying an opinion or statement. The artists translated the pieces into multiple languages, and while many of the pieces center on North Korea, they play off the Internet as a global epicenter. Underneath the loose narrative of each piece is a universal theme in which anyone can connect to. In one of the pieces “What Know?” they even state, “what now – our concerns become global.”

Each piece has it’s own score and the timing of each beat is perfectly tied to the display of words and sentences. As the words move quickly across the screen, the fast passed Jazz music keeps the viewer engaged and hyper attentive to the screen. It’s pretty amazing how perfectly timed every piece is. The importance of the music is reminiscent of film and the way both mediums of the Internet and film can create a full sensory experience by combining music and images. This was also central to “Flight,” in which the music added dramatic and urgent tones to the narrative.

The artists have also been able to present these works and others similar as installations in museums. Do you think this would add to the the experience (bigger screen, empty room)? Or is the web an integral part of the experience, making it more of an individual art consumption, rather than with a crowd.

The Era of Privacy is Over

Here’s a link to the LA Weekly article discussing the new facebook features, which gives users information to 3rd party websites.

While the motives behind facebook and the other projects are different, what really separates them.  In what cases do we allow others to peer into our lives, in contrast to other situations that we consider invasive.  Is it the commidification of personal information that we’re uncomfortable with rather than it’s accessibility?