Author Archives: kmjensen

fans versus fandom

I agree with Jenkins that convergence culture brings in another level for the engagement of fans.  It is particularly interesting to contrast the fans of American Idol with more hard core fandom like Star Wars and Harry Potter.  While all these fans are more actively engaged in media convergence than our culture would have imagined them even 10 years ago, I think there is still a divide between what really defines fandom.  While the American Idol fans are interacting with the program to vote, it feels a lot more like corporate driven fan culture.  Fox is trying to build brand loyalty and their sponsors are trying to build fan loyalty with the main goal of producing purchases:  album sales, Coke, and Ford.  However, the Star Wars and Harry Potter fans are actually producing their own media products (videos and newspapers) and expanding upon the existing universe of the product.

There’s the conundrum.  How much do you want to encourage fans as a corporate media maker?  American Idol fans are more “appropriate” as the literally buy into the brand, whereas those other fans (Star Wars/HP) aren’t necessarily going to be bringing in a profit for the corporate creators.  From and industry perspective that seems like a liability, however, from a cultural studies perspective, that sounds fantastic.  Jenkins analysis of HP fans learning to take control of their own means of production is hopeful, that fandom can train people to gain skills and in the case of  Photoshop Democracy use it to become actively engaged in politics.  However, how much of this kind of fandom exists?

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

YES! we need Cybercultural studies

Charting out what the texts and methods in cyber studies is extremely valuable in the consolidating and legitimizing the study of the internet. There are many people in different fields who are studying cyberspace, because it is becoming,(or maybe already is) a key element in most of our lives. We need to know what conclusions people have made, especially different approaches, but maybe I’m just biased as an interdisciplinary-type person.

Additionally, we need to understand technology and its role in our lives. This article is also pertinent to last week’s discussion, but using robots in the military just go to show that we are using technology as a substitute for tasks previously defined as human. I think we definitely need to consider what kind of ethical and social consequences this kind of technology for human swap is creating.

If you’re interested in our conference…

Here’s the website with our schedule for “What Can I Do With Asian American Studies?” if anyone is interested.

Gaming Can Make a Better World

I know this isn’t from our discussion this week, but I’m afraid I’ll lose this video. Interesting connections between life and games, along with a little history.

minds and bodies

In The Body and the Screen, Michele White brings up some ideas that really caught my attention:  theorizing photography and male bodies.  As someone interested in photography, I found it interesting that White theorizes that the way we view photography must change because we are no longer manipulating light, as photography is digital, and created “photographic” images no longer even use the processes of light.  I think photography has been in turmoil for a while about how to define itself in the face of the digital landscape, but theorizing about our view because of the change in our apparatus was interesting.  We no longer frame and craft, but create from scratch.  My brother frequently manipulates digital images as an animator, and whether he creates them from scratch or uses a real life image to start, and appropriately I consider them more along the lines of paintings than of photographs.  Additionally, the theorizing the male body as seditary and flabby in the face of new virtual freedom is interesting.  I think fan culture, or at leas those who ridicule fan culture have made these kinds of judgments for a while.  I think the fact that remains, is that no matter how much digital freedom we have, we are still the product of real life bodies.  Unless we think Surrogates is our next reality:

Can we generalize the cyberworld?

In all the readings we discussed, I think it important to note that the authors are coming from specific geographic and cultural locations, North America, in particular.  Assessments made by Nakamura in particular really affect English speaking users, and probably  most specifically American English users.  I don’t know about everyone else, but because English is my native language I spend 90% of my time on English sites and very few on sites in other languages, which means I’m definitely not experiencing the majority of the web.  However, I think it is important to think about American internet users, since there’s a lot.

While I agree that the internet is no utopia, I think we have to be careful about making generalizations for all users, and even all white users, and all users of color, all male users, all female users, etc.  Cultural differences are not just between the U.S. and other nations, but between regions of the United States.  I think it would be interesting, but probably impossible to find out what users are the most to cybertype, by region, gender, age, or other categories.  Because my real world culture and experiences comes with me online, different real world cultures might act different online.  However, I do notice that different places online also promote different kinds of behavior (like lots of racism on YouTube), perhaps different websites themselves make it easier or harder for cybertyping.

Is multiple personality really a disorder?

In the selection we read from Sherry Turkle, she theorizes about the post-modern split of the self that takes place online and with user generated computer content.  I agree that there is a break down between the “in real life” and life online (facebook and youtube, not just role playing games), but my question is whether we had an undivided self to begin with.  Technology and the post-modern only facilitate the ability to think of the “self” as multifaceted and performatory.  I am simultaneously a student and a teacher, someone who loves Harry Potter and Shakespeare, shy and assertive, etc.  Of course I act differently when I’m with my grandparents than with my best friend. Shifts in identity or self construction aren’t merely property of virtual worlds, and for that matter, there are plenty of people who (mis)represent themselves in the real world.  There are also plenty of people who mediate themselves in the real world  (alcohol or drug use to ease social situations) as well. While I am undoubtedly influenced by my post-modernist leanings, I don’t think it’s bad to have multiple selves.

Another question related to this online/IRL discussion by Turkle, is why do people prefer online to real life in the first place? Is it possible that we are no longer connecting to other in traditional communal patterns as a result of the industrialized/post-industrialized society we live in, and therefore have to create online social substitutes to what our ancestors had in real life?   Perhaps alienation?  Has specialization turned us into the machine, just as Marx theorized?

For those interested in technobodies:[youtube][/youtube]

Global Communication and the Long Tail

I just wanted to add a few thoughts that I didn’t get to bring up in class from the Lister readings.  Lister et al spend a substantive portion of the text discussing the background of  the world economy in discussing capital’s impact on communication technology.  When we talk about the flow of communication and its link to capital, it is no surprise that entertainment, news, and information have traditionally tended to follow money.  What does it mean when a company that both reports the news and manufactures your television are one in the  same?

The consolidation of media corporations, I think, is particularly alarming especially when we look at news media, where 8 corporation control all of the mainstream news media in America.  I think that we can draw up the idea of the Long Tail and apply it to news coverage.  With the rise of independent news online and news and political blogging, there are so many more voices and sources that are available to the whole range of internet users.  While many people still rely on mainstream news outlets, there do exist the alternatives and they are read.  We can see how the internet can be a tool for niche journalism and niche news.  I no longer have to buy the newspaper that is in my city, and especially I don’ t have to only watch television news (which I hate).  In fact, if one is not bound too much by language, we can even get international news from another nation and increase our  awareness of what’s going on in the world, since international press coverage has been on the decline in the U.S.

I thought that the use of twitter in Iran’s protests were and excellent example of this:

what is progress?

The concept of technology as linear progressive versus intersecting, I think is particularly fascinating.  Teleological as both the study of the technology itself and the way we view technology is something that I have only marginally considered.  As someone who is well versed in film studies, but newer to “new media” I think the application of both the study of the object itself as well as the theory of how we view the object is something that I find missing from a lot of film theory.  For example it is mentioned that we have used different kinds of cameras and editing overtime, but you’d have to be more of a “practical” practitioner like a professional cinematographer or editor to really consider technical changes.   Very little happens in the way of discussing the technology of the medium, more what’s on the screen, or as Patrice Flichy discusses the French habit of thinking “cinematographically”.

Questions about technology and progress then take on a more metaphysical aspect when we think of teleology.  Do we believe ideas and technology always build on what came before or do we think a lot of accidental connections and perhaps even reversals happen?  I’m inclined to think of Thomas Kuhn here and say that things progress to a certain point within a paradigm, but an overall direction and culminating knowledge of history creating a kind of destined greater technology is not a feasible.

I also wanted to point out the significant amount of space Lister et al, place in the debate between McLuhan and Williams.  I know that Lister wants us to re-examine McLuhan in light of his dismissal by the more academic media studies circuit who have heavy believers in Althusserian Marxism, who focus more on ideological structure and content.  I do think it is good to consider McLuhan, and ideas about the medium and the technology, as I said previously, are frequently missing from more traditional media debates.  I think of McLuhan as offering theories that help us examine how our thought process or cognition changes with the introduction of a different medium.

While I agree with McLuhan to a degree, that the introduction of technologies changes the way we perceive, I have to point out that McLuhan’s view on primitive cultures and visual cultures seems incredibly Western/Euro centric.  I’m not a history expert or a linguist, but I think 0ther societies writing systems did not necessary progress in the same way  that Romanized languages did, I’m specifically thinking about Asian languages here (Maybe someone can speak to that, about how different writing systems affect thought).  This seems to have a little linear progressive thinking behind it.