Author Archives: lrv02008

Women in Technology

For our final project, we focused on a largely under- and mis-represented group in media: women. We discuss how women have empowered themselves, escaped social conventions, and made their voices heard through blogging and fan fiction. We also discuss how active women are in gaming, what a big influence they’ve had on the industry, and yet how female characters  in games  are still exploited and objectified. The evolution of women’s involvement in media and technology is broad and complex, and couldn’t possibly be covered here. Women are becoming more and more involved, and are a huge determining factor in the direction technology is moving. It’s important to analyze this evolution  and evaluate where they are now, so we can better determine the directions we need to move in the future.

In working on this project, it’s been cool to compare our skills now with when we began the class.  For previous projects, we were learning the basics of the programs. In this one, we actually got to take risks and fine-tune our creations. (We added music to the podcast and worked on changing the amplification, fading, etc. We played with the videos and cut them to more specifically match the music. And we’ve definitely improved our website, embedding audio and video players and manipulating images and colors.)  


-Bianca & Lauri

“New Video Game Technology Finally Allows Rendering of Smaller Breasts”

Something that I was shocked by, working on our final project, was how women’s bodies are designed in video games. Think Lara Croft: not even Angelina Jolie looks like that. It’s definitely not your typical body type. There aren’t even slightly unattractive or overweight women. In many games, like SecondLife I think, you don’t even have the option of changing your character’s breast size. So it was ironic to come across this article on the Onion.

Illegally downloaded… books?

We’ve talked a lot about the copyright issues with music and videos, but haven’t touched on the legal issues of electronically reproduced books. I came across this article about Google Books and its issues with copyright laws. Under their plan to “create the largest library in the history of the world,” Google shows the full text of books old enough to have passed into the public domain, only a few pages of in-print books, and snippets of out-of-print books still covered by copyright laws.

Google Books has been great for readers, but definitely presents a threat to writers and publishers. Any time something can be accessed for free, obviously, sales rates for that product drop. How can Google create this amazing, huge online library for free? And without giving the final push to the tanking publishing industry?

Here’s what they proposed in a law suit settlement they reached with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers:

“Under the new settlement, Google would allow American users to preview 20 percent of any title it has scanned. Public libraries and universities would enjoy even broader access; users there would be able to see the entire text of any book in the engine. Google will display ads alongside the books, and it will also offer users the chance to buy a digital copy of books they find.”

But this doesn’t solve the problem. How much money will they  really  be able to make from this? And how much will writers and publishes be able to make? There are bound to be similar sites that will create their own versions of Google Books, providing competition. I think the process is going to be a lot like what happened, and is happening, with music and videos. There will be copyright issues, there’s no win-win situation, but ultimately books are going to end up online. The question is whether or not the publishing industry will find a way to profit from it.

final project presentation

Here’s what we’ve got so far.

“lil Susan Boyle”

Now, a Britain’s Got Talent 10-year-old contestant is a YouTube sensation. She starts off with a very elementary ballet routine, and then stuns the judges with her singing. The Susan Boyle buzz hasn’t even worn off yet. Coincidental? Hmm…  This is a little too ironic for me.

And the Pursuit of Happiness

I came across this art piece/article in the New York Times. It’s really interesting, though I’m not really sure what it means. Any ideas?

Internet phenomena

In response to the  articles about Susan Boyle and other such phenomenon:

Something inherent about internet phenomena is that they are completely unpredictable. It’s impossible to gauge when something like lolcats or Susan Boyle  is going to become a viral hit-or how long it will remain a hit. In Manjoo’s article, he points out that lolcats didn’t instantly become popular, then fade. Its popularity has only grown. Yet the basis of the site is extremely elementary and kind of ridiculous, and I think the people who read it know that, but they love it anyway.  

Which raises the question: are internet phenomena a good judge of what people genuinely like? Unlike people’s TV preferences, which are limited to what is actually produced and how many people watch it, websites can be made by anyone and don’t need a large fan base to exist. Consequently, they can start out small and explode into popularity. Or things from TV (like Susan Boyle) can become even more popular online. This kind of ties back into the machinima readings. If it’s the amateurs that know what people really like, then mainstream might be shifting towards incorporating more work from amateurs than from actual professionals.  

There are definitely dangers that come with this. Like Bergeron says in his article, this kind of instant fame can make and break a person. The popularity that comes with it isn’t lasting, like the popularity that comes from more seriously invested-in movies and TV shows (think the Sopranos or Titanic). But I don’t think it poses a real threat to quality media. People might be crazy about the latest YouTube video or website, but will always want quality movies and TV. I think the danger is more for those experiencing the 5-minute fame than the state of media itself.


To add to Aaron’s list:

This talks about memes, lolcats and Failblog specifically.

This is kind of just an example of how internet phenomena spread so quickly- how people use twitter and blogging to make things such a big deal.

Pirate Bay verdict

I did not expect this at all. Although interestingly enough, “The Pirate Bay’s spokesman, announced the news over Twitter Friday morning before the verdict was official.”

Machinima on the future

Thompson’s discussion of the makers’ reactions to “machinima” might foreshadow what is to come with mainstream video and music. The companies like Bungie, he said, are not suing Red & Blue, not even upset about it. In fact, the companies are utilizing Red & Blue for marketing purposes. They’re paying amateurs to produce commercials for a far cheaper price than professionals would charge. This is much like the Flight of the Conchords video contest, and other TV shows that are encouraging fans to send in clips. It benefits the company and the amateur, by at least getting their stuff out there and receiving recognition.  

Since video and music reproduction is inevitable, and only going to grow, video game makers are embracing it and finding ways to use it to their advantage. It’s much easier for them, since the advantages are much more clear cut and easier to tap into. (A clip of Red & Blue only raises awareness about Halo. It’s not like it gives the viewers free access to the game.) Video and music reproduction are going to have to move that direction eventually, too. Instead of spending so much time trying to find ways to prevent it from happening, they should invest in figuring out how they can profit off of it- which I’m sure they can.

What struck me the most in Thompson’s article was the fact that real soldiers love Red & Blue, and other similar reproductions. It’s interesting that they found Red & Blue to be closer to what it’s like in Iraq than Halo. This might signify that amateur reproductions are a lot closer to reality than mainstream productions, foreshadowing the direction our entertainment might be moving. Kind of like television’s overwhelming move toward reality TV.  

Regardless of the direction entertainments takes, gaming and machinima are definitely going to have an effect.