Monthly Archives: April 2010

Is the death of the Author overdue?

It seems that collaborative nature of acquiring and producing knowledge in science and technology disciplines has to transfer to “more traditional” disciplines.  If the Author stands for the authority, and knowledge creating is an evolving process that incorporates knowledge developed by others, how can we really say that only one person is the authority on a subject?  Is it possible that the Author died a long time ago, but no one really noticed?

Simulating Stress

Wark’s GAM3R 7H30RY explores the gaming world and the motivations of its inhabitants. In this piece, there is an interesting debate over whether or not there is inherent parody in the design of the game itself. Sims’ game designer Will Wright says: “If you sit there and build a big mansion that’s all full of stuff, without cheating, you realize that all these objects end up sucking up all your time, when all these objects had been promising to save you time…. And it’s actually kind of a parody of consumerism, in which at some point your stuff takes over your life.” The game scholar Gonzalo Frasca disagrees: “Certainly, the game may be making fun of suburban Americans, but since it rewards the player every time she buys new stuff, I do not think this could be considered parody.” I happen to disagree with both…I think that the actual ‘parody of consumerism’ occurs as soon as you begin to play the game (whether or not you fill your mansion with ‘stuff’) because the ‘reward’ (as Frasca calls it) is ‘succeeding’ in this virtual world. Even if you are not accruing stuff, the game itself is ‘spending’ your time. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with choosing to play but it is fascinating that those wishing to escape reality for a few minutes, hours, days (depending on your level of commitment) would seek to do so in a virtual simulation of the everyday pressures and social climbing.

More Power to Heather…

This week’s reading was quite interesting because it addresses our society from the media perspective; this text details what’s happening in every realm of our society- it is a reflection of our society from the new media perspective. Jenkins used case studies to illustrate the struggles of today…There is a need to give voice to the powerless, yes it is the right thing to do, yet it is offensive to hear the powerless use the voice. Heather epitomizes what we aspire to be, to be engaged, creative, and be a leader. These are qualities that one acquires as a participant. Convergence culture captures the conflicts between corporate media and grassroots. It captures how participants are no more passive, but active. The lines are increasingly blurred and this can be attributed to collective intelligence, media and participatory culture. In the text, Jenkins uses the case of star war fans creating stories and sharing with other fans to illustrate the power of convergence culture. I am particularly encouraged by Heather’s story, a home schooled teenager who found pleasure in reading and writing. She shared her passion with her peers and in so doing embrace the constructivism theory. The participatory culture in this discourse speaks to what every educator wants from their students in the classroom, learners learn best from their own experiences. It encourages creativity and promotes learning collaboration as demonstrated by Heather and her writers.

Game Life Replicating Real Life

In GAM3R 7H3ORY, I was particularly interested in Wark’s theories about replicating real life in game life with Sims.  Personally, I’ve never really been interested in games like Sims or Second Life because I feel like its too much like real life to be a game.   Why create a person or persona who has to go to work and buy a house and go to school when you have to do all those things in the real world?  Wark’s conclusions are interesting, both the gamer-as-god idea as well as the game space as kind of idealized space: “The game can also work as an atopia, where play is free from work, from necessity, from seriousness, from morality. Kill your Sims, if you want to. Play here has no law but the algorithm. ”  I’d never really thought about these simulation games as a way to control or be in control of life, or should I say some kind of life.  A close to real life that can be manipulated perhaps give the player more a sense of control of real life than a pure fantasy game because they can see the connections?  Maybe, I’m not sure, I’m no psychologist.  But I do know, and it has come up in class, that real world contexts effect our interactions with technology.   If we live in a world where our lives are so stressful or so out of our own control that we replicate lives in games, which are very popular,  so that we can be in control, it must mean that some thing(s) in our modern condition is pushing this  need for this type of game.

Unfortunately, becoming too involved in game life as therapeutic release from real life can disastrous consequences.    I do think that these cases are isolated, that not everyone would be capable of doing this, but perhaps a few individuals are susceptible to these kinds of problems:

Couple Nurtured Virtual Child While Real Baby Starved

From a non-humanities point of view

Wow, this read was an eye-opener for me. I never knew the complexities of academic publishing in the humanities. Mathematical and scientific writing is completely different! I didn’t know some of the basic details like the fact that most tenure processes in humanities centered on books rather than articles. That’s pretty absurd considering the publishing process described by Fitzpatrick in Planned Obsolescence. I’m also surprised at the focus on individual writing and lack of collaboration that she writes about. Most of my work in the scientific field has been collaborative and I hardly ever read anything that has only one author. The culture seems to be very different between the humanities and the sciences. I read the quote by Roland Barthes that said each text is a “multi-dimensional space in which are married and contested several writings, none of which is original: the text is a fabric of quotations” I feel like this especially relevant in math because every theorem and law has either been proven, disproven, or left for someone else to prove. Every paper that is written in mathematics is based on some type of previous work. We just pick up where someone left off and go a little further. Am I wrong in saying that humanities is less collaborative? Can someone correct me?

Peer review is especially important to catch mathematical mistakes and wrong assumptions, and that is why I really enjoyed the formatting of both assigned texts, especially reading comments about each section of text. I really like reading the ongoing conversation that both texts were encouraging and providing a platform for. I found it frustrating to read Planned Obsolescence because I feel like higher education is really holding back a new and exciting format. Fitzpatrick says “until scholars really believe that publishing on the web is as valuable as publishing in print – and more importantly, until they believe that their institutions believe it, too – few will be willing to risk their careers on a new way of working, with the result that that new way of working will remain marginal and undervalued.” I think this is one place where the humanities and sciences share a common roadblock. My only concern about the online format is that one has to devote a much longer period of time to editing and addressing posted comments than they would if something was published in print. When I’ve published an article in the past, I wanted to move onto something new right away because I was sick of my topic after writing about it for months. Most people probably don’t think that way though and are eager for ongoing conversation.

Civ % breakdown – GAM3R 7H30RY

In Civilization, you, as a government leader, can put your economy to work producing technology research, espionage, or culture. All three together are given a % value and the total sums to 100%.

While reading GAM3R 7H30RY today I began to wonder what our %s would be over the past 100 years. I would like to think that we are spending a significant amount on technology research although in terms of America, the lines between espionage and tech research blur. It would also seem to me that we are spending at least some part on culture but that may be a focus of individual areas and not necessarily nationally supported.

Please forgive my very short and naive summary of these decades…

1911 – 1920 – War and Women’s Suffrage. Technology 50%, Espionage 50%, Culture 25%
1921 – 1930 – Roaring 20s. Technology 25%, Culture 75%
1931 – 1940 – Depression, war (but the % still need to add to 100). Technology 40%, Espionage 40%, Culture 20%
1941 – 1950 – War. Technology 45%, Espionage 45%, Culture 10%
1951 – 1960 – Space Race, War. Technology 45%, Espionage 45%, Culture 10%
1961 – 1970 – Space Race, Cold War. Technology 45%, Espionage 45%, Culture 10%
1971 – 1980 – Space Race, Cold War. Technology 45%, Espionage 45%, Culture 10%
1981 – 1990 – No big war?! Technology 40%, Espionage 20%, Culture 40%
1991 – 2000 – Explosion of the web and New Media. Technology 40%, Espionage 20%, Culture 40%
2001 – 2010 – War, more tech, some culture?. Technology 40%, Espionage 40%, Culture 20%

Media Convergence

The chapter 2, Buying into American Idol, discusses media convergence providing the successful story of Survivor and American Idol. Actually these two television programs are the first killer application of media convergence. According to the author, through these cases we should rethink previous assumptions regarding passively watching television. Instead, these cases mean shifting from real-time interaction toward asynchronous participation. Also new models of marketing were introduced indicating consumers’ attitude changes on purchase. Rather than making single purchase, consumers prefer to have long-term relationship with a brand participating at design or production. From this phenomenon, I see consumer’s buying behavior is changing with time. In my opinion, it can be an example of convergence culture between producers and consumers.

Another example of convergence culture was addressed in the book and that is the convergence culture between advertisement and entertainment. I find this case from the commercial song of cell phone in Korea. Indeed, the convergence between advertisement and entertainment was successful. As a result, the cell phone and the song became very popular. I agree the music is good, but the content is just a new model of cell phone. It seems like something is missing in the song. Personally I don’t like to sing a song for the product. This topic is really encouraging me to think and rethink.

New Business Model of Publishing

The article, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, addresses a kind of interesting issue in the information age which according to Eisenberg (Eisenberg, 2008, Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age) indicates that information and technology skills are required for success in personal achievement. As author mentioned, there are publishing issues on the traditional model of academic publishing. Although, it was not dead, it seems like moving toward to new mode of publishing system. The blogs, as an example, are created every day or maybe every moment by any internet users. Through the blogs we share opinions with internet users. Can we say these bloggers are authors ? I think the answer is yes if we rethink authors in broad sense. In my opinion, we are watching the creation of new way of authorship in internet.

The impressive concept was addressed in this article. The author states new business model regarding publishing practices. According to her, the new business model means more focusing on services than objects and this new thinking is needed for publishers. I think this is very innovative thinking outside of the box.

Personally, I like book better than electronic books although book is an old media. If we consider our natural environment, however, this is the time we need electronic books. Anyway which one would you rather read, a book or an electronic book ?

The Fanboys Strike Back

The sections on fan culture really resonate with me on both a hobby and academic level.  The convergence phenomena greatly increase the ability for fans to reinterpret the mythologies they love.  But more importantly, convergence allows for fans to reinterpret the mythologies they hate.  This can come in the form of commentaries like Riff Trax, (a Mystery Science Theater type of film commentary) or in spoofs like How It Should’ve Ended (where plot conflict gets resolved via an alternate and more logical/likely set of choices).

But my favorite demonstration of convergence is when Star Wars fans refused to embrace The Phantom Menace.  Soon after the film was released on DVD and video, an alternate version of the film began to circulate. And professional cinema persons and fanboys largely deemed this phantom cut as superior to George Lucas’ imagining.  This example of convergence was not embraced by 20th Century Fox, even though the phantom director made no money off the film, having refused to sell it.  Property rights are property rights, I guess.

Convergence, in this instance, seems to bring together the author and reader in a way perhaps less noticeable in other eras.  I’m not entirely sure this is something that future professors are being trained for.

Embracing the digital book

Here is a interesting take on the digital book that includes a little bit of crowd-sourcing

Let’s not talk about video integration.
Or new ‘interface paradigms.’
These aren’t CD-ROMs from 1993.

Let’s talk about text.
Let’s talk about the digital book.