Author Archives: blitz

Old New Media

Here is the link to our final project!

Please use the navigation bar to the left of the video for clarification of our baking/new media metaphor.

A Little Reflection

So.  My final post.  Most of us would agree that we’ve had a lot of fun with the blog this semester.  It’s been one of my favorite aspects of the class.  It’s enabled us to augment in-class discussions with references we remembered after we separated, draw each other’s attention to various internet oddities, and enrich our understandings of the class’ texts through reading others’ thoughts and analyses.  I would’ve liked it if, occasionally, we had been more critical of each other’s ideas, specifically each other’s reading responses.  For the most part, though, we sustained an intriguing dialogue.  In fact, the blog is the first icon on my bookmarks menu, which I click on nearly as often as my Gmail and Reader tabs.  Absentmindedly accessing the blog is almost as automatic as typing in ‘facebook.com’ after opening my browser window.  Seeing no new updates will feel pretty weird for awhile.

I’ve learned more in this class than in any other this semester.  I’m pleased to report that I’m now familiar with HTML coding, the history of online communities, and copyright law, all of which I will be of great use to me in the future.  By the end of my first day of class (others’ third or fourth class, if I remember correctly—I came in late), I could define ‘the Internet’ and ‘the World Wide Web’ without any external aid (perhaps this sounds insignificant, but it’s not—I had attempted to distinguish the difference between the two terms multiple times before, and, each instance, left the webpage or encyclopedia entry I had accessed without a definitive answer and slightly more confused than before.)

Class discussions continually excited me. I especially appreciated viewing YouTube videos and Internet memes as a group, then thinking critically about them.  Out-of-class work was engaging, too.  I thoroughly enjoyed many of our readings.  My favorites were those regarding online social networking.  Many of my daily activities, from checking Twitter to sharing links with friends, are conducted differently thanks to our studies.  Clive Thompson’s explanation of ‘ambient awareness’ and propositions on close versus weak ties stuck with me, and I’m now much more conscious of how online engagement affects my relationships.

Most significantly, perhaps, our labs have been challenging and fun.  Not only did they foster a deeper understanding of our readings, but, for me, they allowed for a much-needed creative release.  The web and video projects, especially, I loved.

Thanks for an awesome semester, everyone.  Perhaps we’ll come together again after Professor Fitzpatrick returns from her sabbatical!

What websites/blogs do you frequent?

Before we bid our adieus and all our entries stop trickling in, I wish to pose a question I absolutely cannot believe hasn’t yet been asked yet on the blog:

Aside from the obvious, social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook) and message-delivery services (Yahoo, Gmail, hotmail, etc.), what websites/blogs do you visit most often?

Please include a little explanation as to what the blog or site is about and why you like it.  It could even be a sentence.  Just as long as our classmates have an idea as to what they’re being linked to.

For those of you who use an RSS reader, this will be easy.  Just list your subscriptions.

While stating that you, too, frequent a site that someone else has already listed is fine (I’ll keep a tally system going!), try to list at least one that hasn’t yet been proposed.

I’ll start!

Here are a few of my subscriptions.  The list of sites I follow is actually much, much longer.

PSFK

Self-described as a “New York City based trends research and innovation company that publishes a daily news site providing trends research”.  Basically, find awesome news stories from around the ‘net and put them in one place.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOM

Blog featuring unusual and fantastic art.  Most of my desktop wallpapers come from here.  Few words, lots of images.

The Impossible Cool

A single-post-a-day tumblr featuring a person its creator thinks is ‘impossibly cool’.  I’ve agreed with most posts.  Usually includes breathtaking black-and-white images.

KK Lifestream

Kevin Kelly’s blog.  We’ve read a few of his pieces in class.  He continually presents thought-provoking theories on technology.  Check out his Cool Tools blog, too.

Magic Molly

The blog of Molly Young, a hilarious freelance writer.  Her posts on daily life in NYC often make me laugh aloud.

We Love You So

Blog started by Spike Jonze.  Aggregates stuff from his artist friends.

Mashable

Self-descibed as “the social media guide”.  I’ve been visiting this site far more often this semester, as so many of its articles relate to what we’ve been studying.

HipsterRunoff

Snarky (albeit unintellectual) commentary on the ‘alt music scene’.

ThisRecording

Daily commentary on literature and pop culture from sharp-writted bloggers from around the world.  Plus, free music downloads.  Score.

Can’t wait to see your favorites!

Ultraviolence + YouTube

Innocent users featuring copyright-backed media in their short films for educational purposes aren’t the only ones getting their content yanked off YouTube; it happens to the pros, too.

After YouTube pulled M.I.A’s video for ‘Born Free’ off the site due to violent content and sexual imagery, the Sri Lankan rapper ‘took over’ Pitchfork’s Twitter account and told hipsters and music snobs everywhere what she thought: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO▬►▬► ♫ ♥ ♥♥♥♥♥!!

Much in contrast with what happens to lesser-known artists when their work is stripped from YouTube, it seems this action was a positive thing for M.I.A.  Since, the blogosphere has gone wild over her new album.  Vimeo is still hosting the video, which I’ve been linked to at least five times today.  If you haven’t yet, now you have.

—-Warning: this video is not safe for the workplace!—–

Truthfully, “Born Free” shocked me little more than Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”, the last music video that caused this much commotion.  For those who haven’t seen it, “Telephone” is a gritty, colorful 9.5 minute short featuring Tarantino references, Batman, and Beyonce.  It, too, is explicit.  However, YouTube hasn’t yet removed the “clean” version of the video—deemed “clean”, apparently, merely because Gag’s private parts are pixelated.  Doesn’t seem too different than the original to me.

So, a few questions: Do you approve of YouTube’s decision to remove M.I.A’s video?  What do you think about this recent crop of extended-length, super-explicit music videos being produced?  Artists have long since used violence and sexual content in crafting visual narratives to accompany their music, but do videos like these go too far?  Or, rather, is this simply one of the few remaining ways in which an artist can create buzz surrounding his or her work?

(Btdubs–sorry if you read this thinking it’d have something to do with A Clockwork Orange.  I just watched the movie again and merely had it on zee brain.)


Does Wark's repeated misuse of the contraction indirectly communicate that his work has aroused greater reader interest than it actually has?

While Gamer Theory’s complex metaphors fascinated and confounded me, many of its other peculiarities made me think, too.  One particularly confused me: its grammatical imperfection.  How isn’t it flawless by now?  This is version 2.0!  Shouldn’t Wark have worked out the kinks?  Not only did Wark have professional editors’ aid (assuming Harvard Press required that a proofreader double-check everything before the book was published in the physical), but that of numerous commenters.  Yet, still, he hasn’t replaced the word ‘loose’ with ‘lose’ on card 212, and I noted at least three instances where he’s withheld the apostrophe in between ‘it’  and ‘s’ that’s needed when ‘it’ and ‘is’ are combined.  It’s plain to see these imperfections in the comment section beside each card—why does he ignore them?

One potential reason Wark doesn’t simply make these changes and take these comments down: he’s keeping count.  He wants as many comments as possible.  Sure, when someone points out a mistake, Wark’s being corrected—in a few instances, it seems his commenters are even chastising him—but he’s also getting feedback.  Feedback conveys interest.  If people weren’t interested, that would be an embarrassment.  Wark and the Institute for the Future of the Book hyped Gamer Theory as being a revolutionary literary work, a networked book that takes advantage of new media technologies allowing readers to interact with it.  Could readers’ lack of interest lead to less funding for such projects in the future?  As I don’t have access to the Institute’s financial information, I can’t say for sure.

Given, it’s true that many authors have to learn to deal with the fact that few people read their books.  But printed books don’t bear marks of their unpopularity within their pages.  With its paucity of commentary, Gamer Theory does.

That Wark allows for criticisms on content to remain attached to his project doesn’t surprise me much.  As we’ve addressed in class, bloggers who directly and publicly address their readers’ concerns are more trusted than those who ignore (or worse, delete) them.  In almost every instance, Wark comments back, defending his work and the decisions he made in its creation.  Impressive.

Connectedness and Coachella

All weekend, my friends’ tweets and Facebook status updates largely revolved around happenings at Coachella.  Every few minutes, I was clued in as to whose sets were especially good (Local Natives, Thom Yorke) and whose onstage personas were ridiculous (frontrunner of Florence and the Machine took the cake with her angel costume).  Complaints about the expense of food were rampant, as were onomatopoetic tweets like “YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAH B!” (most likely a reaction to Beyonce’s surprise appearance during Jay-Z’s set) and “Ouch!” (probably resultant of someone being squeezed in the pit at LCD Soundsystem).

Most who go to Coachella don’t go because it delivers the most superior audial experience ever.  As most Coachella stages feature open sets and large, screaming crowds, many Coachella bands arguably sound much better in smaller venues.  Instead, people go to Coachella to enjoy the music with other people.  By not paying the $300ish dollars it cost for a ticket, I missed out on this bond-building experience.  Or did I?

While I wasn’t actually present to hear the music, nor did I camp out in a tent with twelve of my friends, having updates throughout the weekend gave me the semblance of being at Coachella.  More significant than that, though, when my friends returned this morning, I didn’t feel completely out of it when they recollected at lunch.  Because I had been so well-informed all weekend, I was able to laugh along with their comments.  Plus, I could spur more dialogue by cross-referencing friends’ interpretations of various shows (Tommy said Beach House sucked, but Ari said they were amazing—discuss!)  In a time before instant updates, this wouldn’t have been possible.

Each day, as most of our friends separated in efforts to see their favorite acts, they ended up re-tweeting and commenting on each other’s statuses to keep in touch.  A weird phenomenon: one Coachella-attending friend thought for sure that I was among the group who was there.  I attribute this to my Twitter and Facebook activity during the festival.  Because I had been retweeting and replying to his and my friends’ updates all weekend, his sense of closeness to me wasn’t much less than to those actually present (of course, this doesn’t account for all the times when he would’ve been eating and lounging around with the group—perhaps I had a Coachella doppelganger!)

All this hearkens back to our discussions and readings on social media, especially Clive Thompson’s “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy”.

Did you experience something similar this weekend?  Also, on a related note, are you headed to any music festivals this summer?

Classification Confusion

Response to Alexander Galloway’s “Gamic Action, Four Moments”

Over winter break, my little cousin Ben begged me to play Xbox’s Bakugon Battle Brawler with him.  The experience was surprisingly enjoyable.  The game’s menus were slick.  It was simple to start and to stop, to save and to quit. The hardware wasn’t stubborn like the controllers of my youth.  There were no stuck buttons (though sticky buttons there were—at five, Ben’s wont to spill sugary liquids on his toys).   These nondiagetic elements, the parts of the game “still inside the total gamic apparatus yet outside the portion of the apparatus that constitutes a pretend world of character and story”, make my little cousin’s gaming experience far superior to mine at his age.

As Galloway states, since ‘the nondiegetic is so important in video games, it is impossible not to employ the concept.’  I see how this classification could be helpful, but it seems some gamic aspects don’t fit neatly within this system.  When talking about Final Fantasy X, Galloway classifies combat as diagetic and the process of selecting how different aspects of combat will unfold as nondiagetic.  The diagetic aspect is narrative, while the selection is not.  But what happens when most of one’s game play time is made up by choosing, when choosing becomes part of the narrative?  Is the selection process then ‘diagetic’, too?

As I wrote about in a previous post, I was obsessed with The Sims as a kid.   For me, the most fun part of the game was choosing my characters’ personality, appearance, and residential settings.  Technically, thuogh, these are contextual aspects surrounding the game, mere settings determined before ‘play mode’ where the Sims take actions.  It’s pre-narrative, and, therefore, nondiagetic.  Something doesn’t feel right about classifying my Sim selection process as nondiagetic, though.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  Perhaps it’s that most things determined nondiagetic in this piece are non-gamic.  Non-playful.   Yet The Sims’ choice mode is arguably both gamic and playful.  “A game,” says Galloway, ” is an activity defined by rules in which players try to reach some sort of goal.”  Selection mode has a goal: creation of the perfect Sim (or, at least, the Sim that will perfectly conform to your wishes, be they creating a Sim that looks like your mother or crafting and sabotaging a doppelganger of the stupid kid across the street who always jumps on your backyard trampoline without asking).  Plus, while one might not consider selection a playful act, for me, this was ‘play’ as Callois defined it:  a “voluntary activity…  having its aim in itself and accompanied by a feeling of tension, joy, and the consciousness that it is ‘different’ from ‘ordinary life'”.  However, later in the essay, Galloway indicates the setup act is separate of play: “There are many significant aspects of gaming,” Galloway states, “that happen completely outside play proper (e.g. the setup act)…” I spent hours in the selection mode—if I wasn’t playing, what was I doing all that time?  Planning to play?

Methinks I’ve confused myself.  If I’m misinterpreting Galloway’s definitions in some way, please enlighten me.  Also, for those of you who are avid gamers, what improvements have you noted in the nondiagetic features of gaming?  If you *had* to choose, would you rather improve the nondiagetic aspects of your favorite games, or within-gameplay features?

(Blake's) Quentin Tarantino's STAR WARS? !

Surprisingly, Sophie came through.  Step by step, she allowed me to save my project—that is, until I made my last addition: the ‘next page’ button.  It seems Sophie simply will not tolerate the presence of the little arrows I intended to appear on the right hand corner of each page.  The user experience would be much better if you could navigate with said arrows.  Instead, you’ll have to get through the book using the preview palette.  Sorry.

As I reduced the opacity on my text boxes, it might be tough to tell when the text has a link.  Here’s a list of the extra Sophie-ish stuff that I’ve added.

1: Movie: ‘Opening scroll’ (plays when you click on the triangle.  Allow it to load first.)
2: No links.
3: No links.
4: Images: ‘Digital postcard’, ‘famous poster’
5: Movies: ‘The trailer’, ‘feel-good music’, ‘The Saga Begins’
6: Website: ‘assumption
7: pdf: ‘small number of transnational…’; links: ‘stakes in these transactions’, ‘technological integration’
8: No links.
9: text box: ‘transformation’ (If you click the text box, it’ll open to MySpace’s Terms of Service)
10: text boxes: ‘photocopier’, ‘audio sampling technologies’ (Click on the text boxes and you’ll be linked to different webpages)
11: images: ‘added elements’, ‘original contributions’, ‘rewrite and update’
12: image: ‘sexually-explicit stories’; text: ‘does not produce any x-rated Star Wars’: text box (click and you’l be linked to a webpage)
13: text box: ‘elaborate feedback loop’ (click and you’ll be linked to a website)
14: click on zee numeros
15: FIN!

Hope you like it!

(Blake’s) Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Sophie Book!

Sorry if these bubbles burst your bubble.

Yesterday, I was talking to a friend from back home when she told me how much she loves her Rhapsody subscription.  As Rhapsody gives its artists a chunk of the amount its users pay in subscription fees, she said, using the service has lessened her guilt surrounding not purchasing CDs or downloading from iTunes.

Her guilt might return when I show her this graphic I stumbled upon this morning.

[Click, then zoom in!]

As it makes clear, just because these subscription sites require users to pay upfront doesn’t mean artists are getting a significant cut of the profits.  In example, according to one article, after ‘Poker Face’ was played over 1million plays on Spotify.com, the site reimbursed Lady Gaga with a whopping $173.  That’s not even enough to pay for 1/10th of her diamond-encrusted Alexander McQueen armadillo heels!

Just as Courtney Love (baha) mentioned in her article, the graphic’s accompanying data sheet reminds us how little artists get (usually around 15%) after the record labels take their share.  Regardless of the means by which their music is distributed—via CD vendors, iTunes, or streaming websites—most artists aren’t getting rich from album/mp3 sales.

With Coachella coming up this weekend, we’re reminded of another way artists can make a profit: performances.  If artists can’t deliver a good show, they’ll probably struggle to make ends meet.

This is a good opportunity, methinks, to present a few questions:

Do you use subscription services like Last.fm or Rhapsody?

Were you one of the many who shelled out nearly $300 for a Coachella ticket?  Does such a ridiculously high upfront fee make you feel less guilty about streaming or (gasp!) illegal downloading?

Imperfection, Reinterpretations, and Total Awesomeness

I loved this article.  Er… book chapter.  It’s filled with ideas I’ve pondered but never put into words.  How odd that two seemingly oppositional movements (increasingly fewer conglomerates turning a profit from entertainment production and the rise of participatory culture) work simultaneously!  Plus, it referenced Kablam’s Action League NOW, thereby inspiring me to plan a 90’s Nickelodeon-watching marathon.  Thanks, Jenkins.

One point that particularly interested me was the embrace of “imperfect cinema”.  I’ve noted this with still images.  Websites like Flickr are replete with “imperfect” photos—otherwise mundane pictures made interesting with manipulations of light leaks and (seemingly sun-induced but probably Photoshop-induced) desaturation.  However, I don’t recall having seen many films with these effects.  Evan Mather’s films are an exception.  A friend linked me to his website a few months ago, and his accompanying message indicated that Mather’s films were ‘totally awesome’.  As Jenkins tells us, Mather’s website is professional and self-promotional, yet his movies are characterized by their old-school feel.  Many of these imperfections were added post-production.  If these weren’t added, would his films still be ‘totally awesome’?  Would their new-found polish cause them to be deemed mainstream and, thus, boring?  One of my favorite quotes from the article relates: “…the ‘low-res’ movement’s appeals to avant-garde aesthetics and its language of manifestos and its focus on film festival screenings may well prove as elitist as the earlier film movements it seeks to supplant.”  Jenkins spends little time exploring this, but I’d be interested in seeing the degree to which this is true.

The importance of the “books, hooks, and looks” concept Jenkins describes certainly still applies.  Recently, Spike Jonze and the marketers behind his Where the Wild Things Are film did an arguably brilliant job getting people excited about the movie through exploiting this idea.  One could cover an entire house with all the Where the Wild Things Are-related stuff that was generated.  Months before the film was released, people were writing with WTWTA pens and notebooks and lining their walls with pictures of the film’s monsters.  Its Karen O-crafted, Grammy-nominated soundtrack was quite popular.  Not only did copies of the original children’s book fly from the shelves, but Dave Eggers whipped out a young adult novel to complement the film—Wild Things—and released it right around the time WTWTA premiered.  The fact that Urban Outfitters sold most of these products encouraged the association of WTWTA with ‘cool’.  The brand Junk Food for UO created a throwback dancing Max t-shirt (‘Pre-worn’, of course—if at least ten of my friends hadn’t worn the shirt within a month after it was put in the shelves, I might thing that someone found it in a bin at the back of a vintage store.)  Together, the popularity of these seemingly ancillary products contributed to the film’s huge turnout.

Unlike after Star Wars was released, though, we didn’t see many WTWTA spoofs.  Unless you consider donning a wolfsuit on Halloween night spoofing.   While it did seem that many experienced a renewed interest in building forts out of blankets, I can think of no average, non-profit seeking citizen who adapted the narrative for their own purposes.  Why was this?  If the film had as much substance as it has striking visuals, would turn into a massive franchise just as Star Wars has?

Perhaps the film didn’t spawn its own line of fan-fiction because it’s already reinterpreting something that preceded it.  While its larger-than-life production costs separate it from the hand-made movies that Jenkins describes, Where the Wild Things Are itself is, in a way, a fanfilm.  At least, its director aimed to present it as such.  In multiple interviews, Spike Jonze paid homage to the writer of the original Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, saying that he loved Sendak’s book growing up, and he aimed to reflect his boyhood fascination with the work through the film.  Of course, as the project doesn’t fall under fair use, Maurice Sendak could’ve easily reacted negatively toward Jonze’s proposal to reinterpret his book.  He didn’t, though, stating that he himself was a Spike Jonze fan.

Speaking of artists as fans-of-fans who are other artists, I loved the bit on the new crop of “video store filmmakers”.  References to cross-references in Tarantino’s scripts, especially, gave me a good laugh. Before seeking out old Hey Arnold and Doug episodes for my upcoming Nick marathon, I think I’ll re-watch Pulp Fiction.  Then, when someone asks what I’m up to, I can say I’m conducting follow-up research for my digital media studies class.  Muahaha.