For my final project in History of Photography, I was assigned to put together a collection of images that I would choose to put in a museum exhibition. All of my photos were united by the theme of nature, and how mankind has been (generally) so terrible and exploitive to the land, the earth. One photographer whose works I have been particularly influenced by is David Maisel. He photographs the land from an aerial perspective, capturing land that has undergone mining, chemical intervention, and human impact. A lot of times, it’s hard to tell exactly what he is photographing because the vantage point is so surreal. What’s so strange is that the photos are absolutely beautiful, but of something so destructive. I’ve directed you to his webpage, but check out his different projects (on the left-hand side)…some really cool ones are “Oblivion,” “Terminal Mirage,” “The Lake Project,” and “The Mining Project.”
Here are some more articles on #amazonfail, one of which is a blog post by Mark Probst and the other, an article by Bill Thompson, which discusses the effects that the incident had on Amazon’s reputation.
I found the second article particularly interesting. While I assumed that #amazonfail could only be detrimental to Amazon’s reputation, this article shed light on the fact that Amazon was, in essence, making their website more family-friendly. Yes, they broke the “bond of trust” that existed between them and their consumer base, but they “aren’t violating the First Amendment or even, I suspect, breaking the terms of their agreement with publishers by doing it.” Additionally, Thompson contends that “the error was in the algorithm” which is, to him, not really a source of comfort. There is something unnerving about placing our trust in a company, and allowing online recommendation systems to dictate many of our decisions. He writes: “The consequences of living by the algorithm do not just affect Amazon, they affect all of us as we increasingly rely on recommendation systems to suggest books to buy, friends to add on social networks, emails to take notice of and places to visit. We have put our faith in Google PageRank and ‘Amazon recommends’, and found them wanting, yet we do not have an alternative.” Kind of a scary thought.
Found this interesting, if not humorous, article about the font “Comic Sans MS” which is considered one of the most disliked fonts.
For as popular and up-and-coming as these articles made Machinima seem, it is surprising that so few of us have heard of the craft/genre. To think that, “there are people out there who would never have heard about Halo without ‘Red vs. Blue'” (Thompson) is odd to me – I feel like the opposite is true. It is interesting too that major corporations like Microsoft have utilized Rooster Teeth, despite the fact that Rooster Teeth “ripped off Microsoft’s intellectual property.” Rooster Teeth has provided Microsoft with a “whiff of countercultural coolness, the sort of grass-roots street cred that major corporations desperately crave but can never manufacture” (Thompson). The broader implications of productions like “Red vs. Blue” would suggest a furthering of technology toward the usage of virtual space. In the video clip, “This Spartan Life,” Katie Salen comments on the nature of Machinima and video games. She is asked if video games are like early training for the virtual life of the future, to which, she replies that it is indeed. There is this idea of inhabiting multiple spaces (both real and virtual) simultaneously, she says. People are coming to view the real world and virtual space as blended. This sort of reminds me of when we discussed the “Rape in Cyberspace” article, in which we distinguished between cyber-rape and rape, and how (if at all) the two should be treated disparately. There are some who view cyber-rape as such a real experience that it deserves to be treated as such, and thus cyber-rapists should be punished in much the same way that a rapist would be. But then, should an offender be punished in real life for an act that was committed virtually? The lack of parallelism is bothersome, and is something that Salen speaks to in her interview clip. That people are beginning to see the real world and virtual space as blended is a curious if not dangerous concept.
Also in “This Spartan Life” was an interview clip with Malcolm McLaren. In a rather irritated tone, he asks rhetorically, “Can you imagine a world in which 13-year-olds are in control?” He is bothered by this prospect, and by the fact that the “video game industry is suddenly being infected by rock n’ roll hooligans.” I’m intrigued by his commentary, largely because he was the manager of the Sex Pistols and seems to be a boundary-breaking, provocative, bold figure. It’s surprising to me that he meets these strides in the video game industry with such distaste. The idea that thirteen year olds have the capacity to create Machinima reminds me of the article we just read by Henry Jenkins, “Why Heather Can Write.” Both instances speak to the concept that young teenagers are, with the advent of recent technologies, permeating the internet and virtual spaces with their own insight. Fan fiction has enabled young writers to publish their material, and the relative ease of Machinima has enabled young cinematographers to do the same. Adults, like McLaren, see this as a threat to the status quo, an alarming shift of attention to society’s youth. But are they capable of achieving, with the same amount of professionalism and experience, that which adult creators (writers, filmmakers, artists) have achieved? The question is still being debated.
I had not heard of Susan Boyle prior to last class, and now I’m starting to see her everywhere! This article popped up in my Yahoo newsfeed…
I had no idea that the Harry Potter presence online was so huge and, furthermore, not just a presence revolving around the fetishizing or worship of the series’ characters. It amazes me how such young individuals are utilizing the internet – a phenomenon that didn’t even really occur when we were 13, 14, 15 years old. Heatehr Lawver was only thirteen when she launched The Daily Prophet on the Web – I hardly remember using the internet at all when I was this age. That fan fiction has caused the active engagement of not just adult readers, but kid readers is remarkable.
Jenkins mentions an online user, by the name of Flourish, who published her first online novel at the age of fourteen, a somewhat amazing feat, to say the least. Interestingly too, most people assumed she was a college student. This indicates several things: the capacity for anyone with computer access to publish something; the potential for kids to share their material and not have it immediately criticized because, after all, they are kids; and the idea that, on the internet, it is relatively easy to mask one’s identity (whether it be intentional or unintentional) – no one knows you’re a dog. I like the idea that Flourish was able to fool readers into thinking she was someone who had undergone higher levels of academia – indicative of her writing prowess as developed by her interest and engagement in fan fiction. The beta-reader service, for example, has helped people “refine the overall quality” of their writing, Jenkins asserts. That kids are able to attain this publishing experience at such a young age is great. Additionally, the promotion of creative writing should be welcomed, especially considering the fact that students are so often pigeon-holed into writing critically, analytically and about things that may not actually stimulate them or incite ideas.
It is refreshing to think that “these teens are finding something online that schools are not providing them” – and perhaps something that schools cannot provide them. Jenkins claims, and I think he brings up an excellent point, “We often act as if schools had a monopoly on teaching, yet smart kids have long known not to let schooling get in the way of their education.”
So this is totally irrelevant, but pretty cool. Jimi Hendrix made out of the tape from a cassette!! Kind of like sculpting, kind of like drawing – needless to say, a creative approach!
Despite its benefits, one of the more worrisome things about Facebook is the fact that it can jeopardize real-life relationships. Clive Thompson discussed this thoroughly in his article “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy,” highlighting the idea that Facebook causes sociality to explode in “weak ties” (loose acquaintances).
Thompson poses an intriguing set of questions in regard to Facebook “friends” when he asks, “What sort of relationships are these? What does it mean to have hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook? What kinds of friends are they, anyway?” Robin Dunbar, anthropologist, theorizes that every human has a “hard-wired upper limit on the number of people he or she can personally know at one time” and that this number was about 150 social connections on average. Does Facebook enable the Dunbar number to grow? Or is it simply an example of how one cannot possibly be maintaining strong relationships with 150+ people, despite the digital ease of Facebook? Thompson argues that, while weak ties can “greatly expand your ability to solve problems,” he also contends that, “if you’re reading daily updates from hundreds of people about whom they’re dating and whether they’re happy, it might, some critics worry, spread your emotional energy too thin, leaving less for true intimate relationships.” The concept of parasocial relationships is a somewhat frightening one when applied to Facebook. There is the idea that some people we are friends with on Facebook are so peripheral to our lives that we are engaged in nearly parasocial relationships with them – relationships that, though they may not be emotionally powerful, drain us and take up space in our Dunbar number. The ease of writing on someone’s “wall” or sending them a message in some cases obliterates the need to go see a friend in person. Danah Boyd asks this question of herself: Why go and visit the newborn child of one of your friends if you can just see pictures of him or her on Facebook? In essence, while Facebook has the capacity to keep us connected with friends, it also has the capacity to destroy (though it may be slowly and stealthily) part of what makes us human. I hate to think that the ease of communicating online is in some ways debasing the value of communicating face-to-face, simply out of mere convenience – in much the same way that the cellphone and text messaging have, but to a much greater degree.
Another interesting idea that Thompson brought up was that “our modern awareness tools reverse the original conceit of the Internet,” a statement that I don’t think is entirely true. Thompson quotes sociologist Zeynep Tufekci: “You can’t play with your identity if your audience is always checking up on you.” But you absolutely can toy with your identity given these circumstances – if anything, there is a greater incentive to tweak your identity with the knowledge that someone, somewhere is always checking up on you. People who aim to be someone they are not on the internet (whether it be something as obvious as changing a name or something more subtle such as creating an information profile that makes you seem “cooler” than you really are) aim to grab the attention of others. They strive for an audience. Thompson hypothesizes that, “In an age of awareness, perhaps the person you see most clearly is yourself” – and yet, people so often try to be someone they’re not (in real-life and on the internet) that I hesitate to think people are seeing themselves more clearly.
While I found the data in this article to be well-reflective of the internet’s impact on teens, I also found it irrelevant, if not obsolete. Given the fast-paced progress of the internet, even information that was recorded but several years ago is relatively void. The data used in this article were compiled in 2004, 2005, and 2006 – a time period when Facebook had not yet reached the popularity that it has amassed today. That the data cites MySpace as the primary venue for online social networking indicates its archaism. Additionally, the data missing from this article was the data that I think most critical to any study of social networking websites: data relevant to the college student demographic (ages 18 to 22, give or take). I am shocked that enough substantive information was found in the demographic of youths ages 12 to 15. I don’t think I even knew what MySpace was when I was twelve. While I understand that this article is a presentation of factual survey information, I hesitate to say that it makes a definitive statement about the “social impact of the internet,” the supposed intent of the Pew Internet Project.
To lump 12-year-olds with the social group labeled “teens” is a stretch. And furthermore, to make a stronger argument about the nature of teens and the internet, why not include a study that incorporated 18 and 19 year olds? I would venture to guess that college students use Facebook/MySpace far more than middle schoolers, who, up until recently, were not even allowed to have Facebook accounts.
I think I was dissatisfied with the way the article presented this information because their was no coinciding argument. Though I understand that the intent of the article was to present data rather than analyze it, I was disappointed by the fact that there were no conjectures made about the affects of the internet on “teens.” And to fatten the data pool with statistics reflecting 18-22 year olds would have only provided a more robust opportunity to put forth an hypothesis.