Author Archives: MrsAforcer

3/31/10 Reading: Thoughts

Y’know, it’s weird… When it comes to controversies regarding technology and its (mis?)use and (il?)legalities, I tend to be really liberal and progressive. I really like to see technology move forward, unshackled by capitalism and corporate corruption, but at the same time, this YouTube issue has always been one that I’m kind of on the fence about.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always seen a difference between television/video and music/radio/MP3s. Perhaps its because one’s commonly more expensive, one was more accessible to me as a kid, I dunno. But I’ve always seen the pirating of television shows/movies as far worse than downloading MP3s illegally.

It’s probably just because I don’t do it as much. I mean, I can see the benefits of it, and I by all means appreciate the ability to watch entire movies I don’t particularly want to actually buy on YouTube, but at the same time… I don’t really make a habit of it, and there’s a tinge of guilt every time I do it.

So I feel pulled between both sides. Does anyone else feel this way?

3/29/10 Discussion: Video

I was looking up Mac vs. PC commercials tonight before bed, and ran across this on that gave me a bit of a chuckle (and was also related to what we discussed in class today!)

Enjoy!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UNSfm4Of80[/youtube]

I’ll update with a more conventional blog this Wednesday, I promise, guys!

3/24/10 Discussion: Thoughts

Ahhhhh, I’ve gotten ultra-behind on my blog posts due to a rather large art project I had to do over the course of the past week, so right now I’m going to make an effort to at least catch up. Expect regular updates again from me after tonight, though!

In any case, concerning the discussion of Wikipedia and other such sites on Wednesday the 24th, well… I was going to post a link to that video “Professor Wikipedia,” but it looks like the facilitators for that day kind of beat me to the punch. I suppose that’s my fault for being tardy with this post, though…

So I guess instead I’ll just post how I personally use Wikipedia, and also invite others to discuss their uses for Wikipedia. I use Wikipedia for a variety of reasons; first off, it’s a great spring board when looking for sources and scholarly writing. If you’re researching a topic that you happen to know has a fair amount of scholarly writing on it already (i.e. topics like the Civil War, Napoleon, etc.), you can bet you’ll probably find at least a few of them in the “Works Cited” section of the topic’s page. Naturally, it takes a bit of discretion on your own part to sift through the good essays/articles and the bad ones, but for the most part, it’s a good place to start. And to think — your teacher never needs to know that you were using Wikipedia for your term paper (gasp!).

It also functions well as a spring board in the sense that it can relay to you general facts on the subject to get you started — things like names, dates, locations, quotes, etc. are all fairly accessible and trust-worthy, but it’s still good to verify the information you find with another source. Nevertheless, Wikipedia can help you find that source by giving you a term or a keyword to search for.

Also, my second, and probably more primary use for Wikipedia (for better or for worse), is music. Wikipedia is chocked full of categories, lists, and other conglomerations of information based on topic or genre. Like a band, but want to find others like it? Wikipedia can help you do that! Just figure out how it categorizes the band you like, and chances are it will have a list of other bands that fall under that category (and if they have a category for Viking metal, I’m pretty sure they have a category for, like, anything else).

It’s also great for trivia concerning bands that you may not even be able to find on the band’s website, but unfortunately that information is less likely to be as reliable seeing as there’s no concrete way to verify it.

Nonetheless, I think Wikipedia is an amazing resource. I feel it deserves a lot more recognition, though, especially in the scholarly realm, because honestly, I don’t think it will ever meet up with the scholarly standards if the scholars simply refuse to accept it because of its anonymity, lack of renowned authors, etc. Wikipedia can’t help these factors — in fact, it doesn’t want to help these factors. Opposing these sorts of standards is what Wikipedia stands for, and I’d bet money that even if Wikipedia met the scholarly standards, people wouldn’t accept it in the same way they do Encyclopedia Britannica.

It has nothing to do with the information or the reliability, though — it’s all about a social stigma that is going to take a very long time to change.

3/22/10 Reading: Thoughts

Lots of readings for this week, so I’ll start off with what I thought of the Sullivan reading! It served as a nice introduction and a good solid definition of “blogging” (along with a comprehensive comparison between it and more traditional writing). Once again, I found myself nodding and smiling at a lot of his points — things like “In fact, for all the intense gloom surrounding the news-paper and magazine business, this is actually a golden era for journalism” and “On the Web, one-sentence links are as legitimate as thousand-word diatribes — in fact, they are often valued more.” Amen a thousand times, my man, Sullivan — couldn’t have said it more concisely myself!

Reading this made me think back to some of the discussions we had last week, though — questions of why? Why do people reply to blogs? Why do people comment with helpful links and tips? Why do people feel the need to essentially play the role of editors online, tearing apart some bloggers’ spelling, grammar, and citations? Is it self-importance? Charity? Boredom? I dunno — why do you do these things? Maybe it just depends on the person…?

Tying this back to (what I imagine is) the main point of the readings for this week, though, I can really respect that blogging is starting to pull the author down out of his/her chair of authority over the reader (a point that Sullivan addressed briefly, but concisely). Honestly, I wish traditional text was more like this in the sense that I as a reader feel like, well… the author’s “friend,” as Sullivan said. I hate feeling patronized and uninformed when I read. Maybe I just lack confidence, but a lot of the time when I read texts for class and stuff, I find myself feeling like the writer is very clearly the teacher and I am the taught. Am I the only one that has a lot of opposition to this power relation? I find it a little insulting, seeing as it’s more than likely both the teacher/author and I both know more about something than the other, so why is one awarded some sort of higher authority? Why does one get to treat the other as essentially… stupid (I know some of you will disagree with this word choice, but I’m using it quite deliberately here, because a lot of educators/writers do let their authority go to their head and start treating their audiences/students like some sort of unintellectual scum).

As for the next reading, the Jay Rosen blog, once again, I couldn’t agree more. Also, I feel like this reading managed to finally explain to me why I hate watching the news. My beliefs tend to hover in that sphere of deviance when it comes to politics (not saying this for the sake of sounding like an “edgy and cool teenager,” because to be honest, it keeps me from enjoying a lot of debates, discussions, etc. with friends and family that would otherwise be fun and involving — in my case, though, I often find myself just sitting at the end of the table or in the back of the group wanting to say something but knowing that if I did, I’d be completely chewed out or outwardly hated for thinking a certain way, but what can you do?), oftentimes resulting in m suppressing an frustrating build-up of rage anytime I turn the television on to some news broadcast. It’s pretty instantaneous, too — if it’s not at the politics on the screen, it’s on the notion that if the news isn’t talking about politics, it’s usually talking about Paris Hilton’s new plastic surgery or some other grossly irrelevant story put out to keep Americans distracted from what really matters. But that’s a matter for another day, and I’ve digressed far too long.

The article reminded me of something I learned last year in my Intro to American Politics class — you don’t have to debate something if you can just reframe it. Echoing to some of the points made in this blog, the teacher basically explained that a popular strategy in news stories and political debates is to not actually discuss controversial issues, but rather re-frame them to be irrelevant. In other words, politicians and reporters will shrug off controversial subjects as self-evident or too extreme to actually talk about (but they do it in such a way that people are so impressed by the jargon and authoritative style that the authors use that the forget to question the absurdity of it all).

It’s absolutely mind-boggling, and if you point it out to anyone that’s just eating the bollocks up like cake, they’ll tear your face off for being too pretentious or trying to hard to be a devil’s advocate!

Enough of this, though, on to the next reading… Shirky’s post reminded me a lot of the Long Tail article we rad awhile back — except in this case it was applied to journalism instead of the music industry. Let me explain: let’s compare record companies to large-scale newspaper companies — both are terrified of change and clinging to an old (and significantly more expensive) economic model of distribution. Despite how loudly the consumer is shouting at them, “Switch over to this new method! It’s much cheaper and will make us all a lot happier,” they’re just straight-up afraid to make that leap. Why? Because the “chaos” (as in the “chaos” Shirky cites that occurred after the creation of the printing press — oh how history repeats itself!) they have to bridge to get there is… too scary, I guess? This just solidifies the point I’ve made time and time again in this blog: people are afraid of change!!

So you see the connection I’m making here, now? I couldn’t help but chuckle a little condescendingly at the newspaper companies after reading this text — I mean, it really didn’t say anything I didn’t already know, but it re-affirmed a lot of things I had already heard and reminded me of just how silly it all is.

And it is silly.

Does laughing at that make me a sadist?

3/9/10 Reading: Thoughts

Y’know, I’ve always been curious about LINUX and its origins. A good handful of people on the message board I regular use LINUX and are always boasting about how great it is for open-source. I knew the general idea behind it, but I never quite completely understood what it entailed, and I’m grateful that this text finally clued me in — now I don’t have to pretend to know anymore and not my head in blind affirmation when they comment on how great LINUX is, ha ha!

Anyways, I have to say, a lot of the texts we read in this class really seem to align perfectly with things I personally believe, and this reading was no exception to that. This idea of freeware/open-source software being on par with if not better than costly, professionally-produced software. This doesn’t only apply to LINUX vs. PC/Macintosh, either — I’ve heard many accounts of free antivirus programs like Avast being far better than the “standard” McAfee, etc. Programs like GIMP and PaintTool SAI are also easily just as good as photo-editing software like PhotoShop, yet significantly less expensive.

I think this is really great, and kind of makes me feel privileged to know so much about where and how to get this open-source software. It makes me wonder, though — do other people know of this free stuff? I’m curious to know how much money companies like McAfee make off of people’s ignorance and trust…

Jackie and Allison: Podcast

Jackie: “After we decided on what to podcast about (Second Life and the article about the man cheating on his wife), we thought of creating a newscast to simulate what would happen if the interview had occurred on a radio show. We searched for newscast theme songs, and found one to add to the beginning and end of our podcast. After creating our newscast script (using quotes from the interview), we decided to add Sue as a character in our radio show. Allison recorded her own voice, and then we used Audacity to edit her voice so it sounded a lot deeper and more distinct.”


Allison: “We looked through the syllabus for something that piqued our interest, yet something that not everyone would be doing their project on — and this article in particular really seemed to fit the bill. In short, it’s a news story talking about Ric Hoogestraat’s alleged online “affair” in Second Life, and the article (along with the accompanying texts) debates the idea of whether or not the act could really be considered “cheating” on his wife or not. He never called his “Second Wife,” or met with her offline, and the whole issue brought up some questions that both Jacke and I really related to earlier in the class (about how words are more or less analogous to actions online). When I was choosing the music for the background audio of the majority of the file, I wanted something that wouldn’t be too overbearing or emotional, but still get the point across that this was supposed to be a laid-back interview on a somewhat hip topic. I hope the soundtrack gets that feeling across to the listeners — it took me awhile to find something down-low enough to not be distracting from the actual content. I also want it to somewhat encapsulate the raunchiness of the subject we were adressing. As for the actual production of the MP3, Sue’s voice was really fun to generate. It still makes me laugh when I hear it, and I really think it fits the way she looks (that’s not mean to say, is it? I should probably feel terrible!)”

Audio Sources:

WIS-TV Newscast Intro 1990

CNN Breaking News Intro

best background music

ABC 7 News close with extended theme music

Text Sources:

Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?

Press Enter to “Say”

LINK

3/8/10 Reading: Thoughts

Y’know, I feel like the stuff said in the article is the same thing I’ve been saying for years now. My father and I used to constantly get into arguments about whether “the internet killed the record store” or not? This quickly branched out past just the record store and turned into did “the internet kill the Blockbuster down the street,” too, etc. Needless to say, it was a little sad when almost all the media-related stores (i.e. movie stores, CD stores, etc.) around my house went out of business, but being the computer-savvy little kid I was, I quickly discovered the internet. Suddenly, I was wondering hwy I hadn’t used this to begin with.

I tried to introduce this brave new world to my father, but admittedly he’s never quite got it 100%/ He uses MySapce and occasionally downloads things off the internet, but in the end he’s still going to the (few and far between) music stores and getting his CDs there. To each their own, I suppose, but I’ve always been a fan of, well… really obscure music.

And trust me, it is obscure. People always challenge me and ask me what bands I listen to now (I don’t know why — I guess it’s become something to brag about now when you like “obscure” stuff), and inevitably people only know 10~30% of my “favourite” stuff. I guess that’s what comes of liking fringe, Scandinavian Viking/Pagan/Folk metal. Ah well, I digress.

I look around now and I see that this notion of “the internet killing the record store” is not completely true. It actually only seems like the one’s that went under were the ones that only invested in “hits” and things they knew would sell no matter what (i.e. stores that couldn’t cater to people like me) — in other words, one’s that obviously couldn’t compete with online music distributors like Rhapsody. However, I see music stores like Rhino Records, Penny Lane, Amoeba, Rasputin, etc. (kudos to you if you’re familiar with all those stores!) actually thriving in this environment.

Why? Because it seems like they’re investing in the same sort of strategy the online music distributors are. With lower prices, more obscure music, and also alternative ways of gathering income (i.e. live music, events, etc.), they can actually keep up in this more open world of music.

So, getting back to the original question of “did the internet kill the record store?” No, I don’t think it killed all of them; however, it killed off the one’s whose prosperous existence was questionable to begin with — one’s that were thriving simply because people blindly bought anything that was popular and those music stores kept plenty of it in stock. I don’t see the question as really relevant, though — it was never relevant to me. I never liked the music stores, and hoenstly, I think this movement towards a more diverse music world is a good thing. The same goes with movies (Netflix is a great resource for watching foreign films and documentaries you’d’ve never found at Blockbusters) and games (all I can say is thank God for the XBL Arcade and Indie Gaming!).

Okay, okay, yeah, if you’re a 54-year old man mother or father that has three kids and a full-time job, maybe it’s not that efficient to you because you’re not very techno-savvy. The question is, then, though — is that your fault, or the fault of the industry?

I’m thinking the latter.

3/4/10 Reading: Thoughts

Y’know, I think it’s really cool that we’re doing a project on the temporal nature of memory during the exact period of time I was working on an art project which dealt with similar themes. The finished product somewhat resembled Re:Agrippa, and oddly enough, I made it after seeing the video.

I have to say, I appreciate the idea behind Agrippa, and I thought as a piece of art, it was pretty well-thought out. The content, however, left me a little less than thrilled. You’d think I’d have enjoyed it considering I do like literature, but I found a lot of the actual poem kind of stale. I feel like if it weren’t for the novel presentation of the text and the way its self-destruction tied in with the themes discussed in the text, I really wouldn’t have enjoyed it at all. Did anyone else feel this way? Maybe I’ve just become jaded by “memory” based literary pieces or something.

Nonetheless, drawing up a presentation for this set of readings was really engaging. As an art major, I had a lot of questions about choice of medium and the element of this being more a form of performance art than static, unchanging art.

I always find it very interesting how often this class and my art classes (unintentionally?) overlap.

2/24/10 Reading: Thoughts

First off, yowzers! That was a lot of reading! I trucked through it all, but, man was that tedious!

So, this time, instead of addressing each reading individually, I’m going to try something new — today, I’ll be talking about my reflections upon completion of the readings more so than my direct responses to the texts themselves. Cool? Cool. Okay, let’s go.

First off, I’d like to reference my last blog post. In it, I mentioned my hypotheses on the misunderstanding of hypertexts and my personal reasoning behind their fringe popularity. Long story short, I figured hypertexts’ lack of popularity was primarily do to resistance to change and the dauntingly¬† massive amount of potential that leave many writers wondering, “But how do I use this right?” A lot like Google Wave, right?

Well, seeing as the texts we read almost seemed to directly re-affirm this, I was a little saddened by how utterly befuddled I felt with Afternoon.¬† I was hoping that upon experiencing a hypertext, I’d have a sudden understanding of the medium and be able to speak of my love of this innovative and unconventional idea — and yet…

I can’t really say I liked Afternoon. Not to say I disliked it, I was just so confused and lost that I can’t really say I enjoyed it. Perhaps this was the intention of Afternoon? Perhaps I’m getting my old-school, conservative literary ideas of beginning-and-end muddled in with my experience of a profoundly different thing? I really don’t know. I don’t doubt that I couldn’t enjoy Afternoon if I played around with it long enough, but at the same time, I don’t know if I want to. Maybe it’s just the dated interface, but I feel very little motivation to get really involved in Afternoon.

So, as you can see, I felt a little underwhelmed. We had all this discussion about Afternoon, and I read a bunch about it, and when I finally played with it, it honestly felt a little anti-climactic. I felt gypped, and yet, it got me thinking…

This idea of hyperfiction — I know I’ve experienced elsewhere and in a less outdated and confusing fashion…

That’s when it hit me! Visual novels (link redirects to a Wikipedia article about what a “visual novel” constitutes for those that aren’t familiar with the term)! I haven’t played that many of them, but I had some experience playing one released a few years ago titled Animamundi, and while I do notice that there are some significant differences between the Afternoon of the late 80s/early 90s and the visual novels of today (i.e. images, minigames, voice acting, etc.), the sentiment still appear to be there as far as I can tell.

Let me explain: both feature multiple paths, user-based choices that determine the path of the storyline, the ability to “wander,” good/bad endings, and in the end, require an audience to both read and participate. They are both effectively interactive, I believe.

So does this mean perhaps visual novels represent a new era and a rebirth of the hypertext? Also, it raises the question of what defines “hypertext” and “game,” and whether they overlap within this realm? Are they really mutually exclusive? I personally think they have plenty of room to overlap. Whether they do or not, they are incredibly popular in japan and have a growing fanbase here in America and elsewhere. Despite popular belief, not every visual novel is explicit/pornographic, though admittedly many are.

Discuss, and, oh! Here’s some examples of visual novel gameplay. These are from Animamundi, the one I mentioned playing as a high schooler:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMVCewB6SIs[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f54oP0F8MU8[/youtube]

Some visual novels even feature internal clocks that correspond with what goes on in the game/story. Here is an example from Kanon, which is an incredibly popular visual novel that spawned an anime in Japan:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp_d7ntMZg8[/youtube]

2/22/10 Reading and Discussion: Thoughts

Sorry that this post is a little belated, but I had one hypothesis concerning the content of the reading and discussion yesterday, and that’s the issue of hypertext phasing out regular text (or not?) All these people keep guessing that someday hypertext is going to make regular text completely outdated, but at the same time (as people were observing) regular text is still going strong. It’s not really showing any hints of wavering, either, and I think I know part of the reason for this.

It’s kind of like when Google Wave was released, no one really knew what to do with it. It was a cool system that had a lot of potential, but no one really know what that potential was. Instead of trying to figure it out and really play around with it, a good number of people just stuck to what they were used to and instead of doing, say, collaborative note taking viaa Google Wave (which is perfect for such a thing), they opted to send a Word file back and forth via AIM, or something. Less effiicient, yes, but what they were used to.

I think the same can be applied even to aspects completely unrelaated to technology — another example being our standard system of measurements here in the US (i.e. inches, feet, etc.). Is it efficient? No, not in any conceivable way — but it’s what we grew up with and what we’re used to, so we really don’t want to switch over.

The same I believe is true with the shift to hypertext. The issues of resistance to change and also the confusion about exactly what sort of potential such a thing holds keeps it from really becoming the dominant form. Yet.