Author Archives: pcef91

Final Thoughts

Overall, this has been both a challenging and rewarding class for me. As I’ve demonstrated a couple times this semester, I tend to be pretty incompetent when it comes to technology, so there were definitely a number of frustrating moments. That said, one of my few concrete goals for this class was to become more comfortable with computers, and I definitely feel I’ve accomplished that. Beyond becoming familiar with the technologies used in this class, I believe I will be more confident when trying new programs and software in the future.

I agree with what others have said about the major strength of the class being its attention to both theoretical and hands on methods of learning about digital media. When reflecting on the technologies and projects we worked on this semester, I tend to judge them based on how well they worked alongside our readings and discussions.

Having worked for many hours now with Sophie, I will say that it has a lot of potential but is still kind of a pain to use. I feel that it is the most effective tool we used for analyzing texts—which helps its case for connecting well to our readings—but still has a lot of shortcomings. I’m actually pretty interested to see if those issues are overcome in later versions.

The thing I’m probably happiest to have learned is basic web design. This more than anything else is something I can use in the future. Though I only managed to learn the basics of html and css, having done so will give me the confidence to learn more later on.

Though I had some doubts about blogging process earlier in the semester, I’m very glad I had the experience. It’s definitely a very different type of writing that I’m not that comfortable with, but I have come to appreciate its potentials and have a lot more respect for bloggers in general.

I didn’t mention all of the technologies, but these are the ones I have the strongest feelings about. That, and I’m trying not to write yet another long and convoluted blog post. A couple more things: I’ve really enjoyed having class with you all this semester. I think it was a really great group and I enjoyed our discussions immensely. Professor Fitzpatrick, you’ve been great. It’s a shame you won’t be around next year. Good luck with the rest of your finals, everyone, and have a great summer!

Final Project

Here it is!  I hope you guys enjoy it. Please let me know if it isn’t opening properly in Sophie, not that I’ll know how to fix it.

Sophie Question

Did anyone happen to figure out a way to make the cursors disappear when they were working with Sophie? It’s not that important but they are kind of annoying.

Does the Supreme Court Need Technical Support?

This blog post from DC Dicta, which was cited in the Wall Street Journal, describes some really bizarre technology-related questions asked by Supreme Court justices during oral arguments in the case City of Ontario v. Quon. Though the post and the article are mostly just poking fun at the justices, it is actually very worrisome that the individuals responsible for setting legal precedent for disputes related to digital/communications technology have such a poor understanding of its functions and significance. It seems that the years of legal experience required to become a Supreme Court justice may have the negative consequence of appointed justices who are not particularly aware of many of the hugely important trends we’ve discussed in this class.  This has frightening implications when considering cases such as City of Ontario v. Quon as well as inevitable court decisions regarding net neutrality.  Net neutrality already took a blow earlier this month, and it’s hard to feel confident that the right decision will eventually be made when Justice Roberts is asking what the difference is between email and a pager…

Sophie Project


Reactions to Jenkins Reading

While reading Henry Jenkins’ “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?: Digital Cinema, Media Convergence, and Participatory Culture,” I was interested by the fact that, in spite of all the talk of diversity of “theme, approach, and quality,” nearly all of the fan-produced Star Wars films have been comedic. To explain this fact, Jenkins discusses the disparity in available production tools between big movie studios and amateur filmmakers, which may account for a feeling among amateurs that they can’t compete with the effects or production value of big budget films. Amateur filmmakers may therefore choose to go a different direction with the material, so as to avoid direct comparison. One such direction is towards comedy.

While this is definitely a contributing factor to the comedic nature of much of this fan-created media, I think there is probably something else at work. While Jenkins and others predict that the increasing availability of digital effects tools, powerful personal computers, etc will lead to a greater variety of genres explored by these amateur films, I don’t think that this variety will come naturally.

My belief is that the nature of fan-movie dialogue with movies is intrinsically funny. Whether the makers of these amateur films are conscious of it or not, their works will most effectively capitalize on the nature of fan-movie dialogue if they use largely comedic content.

The most common theory about humor is that it is derived from an incongruity between one’s expectations and the outcome. In a joke, these two parts are represented by the lead-up and the punch line. My argument is that the dialogue between popular movies and fan-created media made in response to these movies follows a relatively similar pattern.

The makers of these amateur fan films work off of the existing storyline, characters, and/or culture of the original films, all of which provide their own set of expectations for viewers. These fans then enter into the dialogue with their own creative contributions, which, because of the differences in plot, theme, length, etc. are automatically going to contrast with the expectation associated with the original films. The result is something deeply related to humor, which makes it difficult to create a media response to the film that is not kind of funny.

This is obviously not the whole story. I’ll admit that it might not even be a part of it. My belief, however, is that it is not a coincidence that a huge portion of the dialogue with popular media, be it formal criticism, fan film, or a conversation as you leave the theater, utilizes humor. Reading this chapter, I found myself thinking about fan films as conversations I’ve had numerous times about movies, taken to a creative/productive extreme: “wouldn’t it have been hilarious if so-and-so had done such-and-such?” Thanks to fan-created media, many of these important questions can finally be answered.

Eliot and Bryan's Video Project


So after overcoming a number of technological setbacks and some major last minute revisions, we’ve finally finished our video project.  Our video looks to analyze how the goals and philosophies of Wikipedia and Britannica are represented in the structures and content of their websites, and how well these goals and philosophies mesh with one of the major trends in digital media.  We used a combination of screen recordings, still images, and short video clips to creatively accompany our thoughts on the issue.  Our goal was to use our visual content to enhance the points in our discussion, rather than distract from them.  We used windows movie maker, which, I think it’s fair to say, we have mixed feelings about.  But while there were some frustrating moments, the video turned out to be something we’re both pretty proud of.  We hope you enjoy it.



Encyclopedia Britannica

Professor Wikipedia

Weight Lifting Fail

DBZ Clip

4/7/10 Reading Thoughts

I enjoyed the readings for today about social networking sites, in particular the two about FriendFeed. I wasn’t, however, overly impressed by the survey of adult social networking site users and I will briefly explain why.

Part of the problem was the use of questions like this one:

“How easy do you think it would be for someone to find out who you are from your profile on a social networking web site?”

What exactly does this question mean? In what context is this person trying to get information about me? Does this person have my name and now wants to learn other things about me, or do they have information about me and want my name? How can you claim that these answers demonstrate anything important about the issue of privacy when it isn’t at all clear what is being asked? This was probably the worst question I found in the survey, but it wasn’t the only one that I took issue with.

I think the other part of my issue with the survey comes from knowing that this information could potentially be gathered directly by the sites themselves, rather than relying on the more subjective strategy of phone questionnaires. The combination of vaguely worded or leading questions and answer choices, and the common issue of dishonest responses gives the information in the survey results less validity, in my mind, than actual use statistics similar to those gathered by Google. That said, the survey is obviously still effective in demonstrating the rise of SNS use among adults, which was arguably its main objective. I also don’t know why sites like Facebook would want to release their user information, so I should probably stop hoping.

Adding Tags to Our Posts?

I’ve been looking through the blog recently and thinking that it would be really nice if we each went back through our old posts and tagged them. I myself have not been doing it so far but I honestly don’t think it would take very long, and it would make the blog a lot easier to navigate. Given all the emphasis in our discussions on linking information, it would make sense for us to utilize this method ourselves

It would help if we could all agree on some general guidelines for how we would do it. Obviously it would be useful to be able to look back at everyone’s response to a certain reading or see every post that has made a reference to Apple, but that will only work if we can agree on how we would tag those sorts of things. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THE DISCUSSION!

Ownership Response: Renting Things That You Don't Own

Taking a page from George Lakoff’s book, it’s easy to see how the metaphor of media as property has shaped both the rhetoric and strategies of media companies in response to internet “piracy.”

Particularly given the rise of digital media, there are many clear differences between “intellectual property” and other entities that we might refer to as property. From an object-based perspective, digital media can not be entirely sold, given, stolen, rented, or borrowed, as after any song is “sold,” “given,” “stolen,” “rented,” or “borrowed,” the “owner” still possesses the song themselves.

The ease with which media can be copied and redistributed in this new digital environment undoubtedly contradicts the metaphor of media as property, which developed when there was always a physical quality to the media being distributed. I can’t imagine there would be as much stigma associated with borrowing your neighbor’s leaf blower and not returning it if that leaf blower were actually an identical copy that your neighbor created instantly, for pennies. I would argue that this is no longer borrowing at all (It’s not as if your neighbor will want the leaf blower back).

What’s interesting is that, in order to combat piracy, media companies are trying to promote a type of “renting” system for entities that I believe cannot really be borrowed or rented at all. DRM systems look to limit the ways that consumers can interact with content, as well as how long they may do so. While in some ways this restricted use is similar to renting property, they are not the same. Returning to my silly example, it’s as though my neighbor tells me that I can only use the leaf blower for 20 minutes, I can only use it to blow certain leaves, and I have to pay him. These rules would be more reasonable (though still pretty unreasonable) if it were really just the one leaf blower in question. Then the rules about property clearly apply, as he can obviously sell, lend, or rent out his one leaf blower. Even if he were the only one who could reproduce leaf blowers in this way, he might be able to effectively charge me and limit my use of the copied leaf blower.

Unfortunately for my neighbor, he isn’t the only one with this fantastic leaf blower reproducing technology (this is really getting silly). My neighbor on the other side is offering a leaf blower with no restrictions and at no cost (he does have to put advertisements on the roof of his house but he seems to be okay with that). Like my hypothetical neighbor, media companies are struggling to eliminate competition that is charging nothing at all for “their property.” It seems to me like this effort is doomed to fail. And perhaps it should. Media is clearly not property in the classic sense, so it makes sense for it not to be treated as such. Obviously there are a lot of very complicated issues regarding incentives and whatnot, but I feel comfortable saying at least that this metaphor is outdated and should be reevaluated.