Sunday, August 17, 2008

Where We Live?

Hey everybody, come on over to my blog and check it out! The post is about my recent interview on Connecticut Public Radio talking about technology and its effects. Just click here: Where We Live?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Does anyone still read this? if so throw up a comment. I'm interested to see.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

In retrospect

After leaving class on Thursday my sense of relief and satisfaction at the prospect of leaving on good terms was marred by a sort of nagging feeling. Although I feel i did my fair share of participation in the course I felt that my blog entries were few and far between and didn't fully reflect what I wanted to contribute to the class. So, yeah I felt insecure about my status in the course and my contribution so I thought to my self, "I'll run home blog my face off to show I care."

As I started to type out my massive blog and began to recap past readings and class discussions we have had I started to realize that I had already said these things in person, I had already stated my opinions verbally. I then thought back to the last discussion we had that night concerning online education and how there needed to exist a method of control in which the professor could better implement participation by cutting back on online distractions. I've mentioned before that I strongly believe that online education should and could not replace physical class discussion and while taking into consideration what professor Strate said in terms of thinking of blogs as position papers I came to the conclusion that I just don't function that way...

I wake up go to work, come home, read for class, thinking about the readings a bit as i'm brushing my teeth and go to bed. My routine just never got around to including blogging because I didn't think of it as though my blog postings were papers they were just conversations I was going to have to reiterate in class. As I thought all this while preparing my final all encompassing blog that was going to include everything that i had already discussed in terms of the readings i decided it was better to explain my inconsistency in this digital platform - I just got to distracted.

I was distracted by my daily routine, by my other course that I was taking, by the sheer influx of information i had to synthesize that basically felt easier to discuss in person that to compound into typed sentences, i was distracted by my computer!... with that said I better understand my limitations and I do apologize if it felt I wasn't contributing enough. I think it only fitting to end my final thoughts with this discussion because it fits so well into our debate concerning the future of education. Hopefully the students of the future can function with less structure than I can. But hopefully you guys got a sense of what my thoughts were (in class) and wish you all the best of luck!

ps. Thanks Dr. Strate

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Great class everyone! thanks

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for a great semester. it's been a short, but memorable ride.

special thanks to PClark for being an eternal cynic who questions everything
noons for having a famous bf on tv
john for no particular reason
yamil for making it okay to pay into the corporate illumnati that shape our youth via viacom.
Prof Strate for being himself

new people for joining or eclectic but immensely satisfying program.

and Mary- for not being in our program, but pretending.

Godspeed and safe travels to those of you I'll never see again, and to those that I'll finish up with next session- Rock on.


A Community that Only Supports Ron Paul- In Texas

You heard it right. There is a community that only supports Ron Paul. The community is called "Paulville." This is not an online community but a real community. Overall we are seeing people moving to areas that fall in line with their own political beliefs. As a result people are not seeing the other side of a debate. If you are a conservative and live in a conservative town you will not be exposed to the democratic's viewpoint and therefore only confirming your own thoughts.

This has been a concern with the Web. As we are able to customize and control what we see and watch we can filter out any conflicting thoughts. The article I reference above shows how this is happening beyond cyberspace and in real life. I'm curious to see if this separates our nation even further.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Apparently more politicians are joining Twitter....

Here's a funny little clip from of a Congressman from Texas touting Twitter.
I think I should preface this entry by noting that I really enjoyed reading Windows and Mirrors and that I truly appreciate all the hard work and innovation that these digital artists put forth in order to create their pieces. That being said, the chapter on Magic Book really bothered me. While I think the concept of an interactive, virtual reality book is a novel idea (pun intended), I have to ask why there is a need to remediate books? My thought is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. For me, a future where books are no longer made of paper is scary.
I love reading. This could be because I was raised in a family where a huge emphasis was put on reading books from the time when my sisters and I were toddlers. It could also be because I attended a Jesuit high school that had an extremely strong English department and weaker Math and Science departments. For me, part of the fun of reading a book is being able to create images in my head of what the characters look like, sound like, etc. If Magic Book ever became the norm my power of imagination would be greatly debilitated. There would be no more pictures in my head, just pictures to look at while wearing a headset. I think that future generations would lose their ability to imagine. Magic Book almost makes things too easy—reading a book really becomes watching a movie. Again, I think that some of this has to do with individual learning styles. (My sister Tori is a tax attorney who is mathematically inclined so she might love Magic Book while someone like me, who is more verbally inclined, would hate it.)

But just because children have different learning styles does not mean that we should change the way children are taught. I suffered through learning math and science the traditional way in grammar school and high school and I am no worse off because of it. Sure, you can tailor the way you teach subjects to children so that they learn better, but I think it almost cheats children to do this. I learned at a very young age that math and science were not my forte and that reading and writing were. I think tailoring teaching methods to individual learning styles attempts to make every child do perfectly in every subject. It almost creates a world were everyone has the same abilities and I think that a world like that is a very boring place, a place where the future Albert Einsteins and the future John Steinbecks would just turn into people who were mediocre in all subjects.

Also, I read this interesting article in The New York Times last week that reminisces about a simpler time in American social history, a time where everyone knew there neighbors and no one was checking their blackberries every five minutes.

The Final Straw

Seriously, I am starting to hate technology. It doesn't work when I want it to. It always has bugs in it. I waste as much time trying to make it work as I do trying to accomplish what I am using it to do.

But here is the irony, in what way am I complaining about technology? On a blog!!! Yup, these days, I think for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, we are stuck with each other.

Technology offers ease and instant gratification. We are starting to get used to liking things done yesterday. Gone are the days of trying to find something to do, or searching for people to meet in person in the real world. Nope, we can just flip a switch and find something to entertain us and pass the time.

But, why do we do this? That is a question for someone smarter than me to answer? I'd thought I'd just ask.

A Political Debate. On Twitter?

Here is an interesting podcast about a Twitter debate that happen last Friday between a member of each party political party. Questions were asked in the 140 characters that can be used for Twitter and the answers were Twittered as well. Therefore, as the podcast mentions, it was very informal and forced both those asking and answering to be clear and concise. Additionally the podcast brings up an interesting question: If the framers of the constitution had the Internet at their disposal, how would this have shaped the constitution? and how do we re-define Democracy in the Information Age?

To find out more about the debate go here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Do you see What I see

I agree with others that Windows and Mirrors is a great book to end with for the class. This book made me think of numerous elements of the Internet that I had not previously connected before. Having a niece who is growing up in this age of over stimulation that the Internet provides, it is interesting to watch her navigate her way around the web. Because children use pictures to complete meaning, children's websites have a lot more information going on than I previously considered. The vibrant colors and what seemed like and over abundance of illustrations are all a part of the process of children putting the story together.
Earlier in the semester I posted that learning via the Internet for things such as history in which the children could potentially all be learning different parts of history depending upon their interests seemed like a bad idea. I still agree with this point; however, there are many children's books that do not have words. Think of the endless possibilities in creating a book of illustrations, and how each story is somehow tailored to the life experiences of the adult or child who is creating a story for this book. The older I became the more I skipped the pictures, but I think it would be interesting if we all took a look at a book that we loved as a child and simply looked at the pictures.
I am also wondering if when animated movies are updated if they are giving the younger generations visual meaning which is more in tune with their schema. While to adults it may seems as though they simply added more vibrant colors to a Cinderella movie, I am interested to know how these changes effect a child's understanding of the movie all together. I may be stretching this out at this point, but like I said this book sparked numerous rants in my head.

Stepping into Art!

I really enjoyed reading Windows and Mirrors because of the way it presented the computer. Although, I was quite aware before reading Bolter and Gromala that my computer meant more to me than say my toaster -something which Donald Norman would surely criticize- the book was a great resource from which to analyze and understand the dual existence of computers as both a (transparent)tool and (reflective) medium.

I found the concept of forming an "experience" through digital art really enlightening especially since I feel our culture is so thoroughly immersed in these digital art experiences: Movies can be created digitally, amusement parks employ digital techniques to immerse us into their environments - think the Jurassic Park or the Back to the Future rides at Universal studios. Places like Las Vegas and Time Square (taking a point from Mike) are artificially-digitally-created environments that we step into. This book really drilled the point home that computers or rather more specifically digital art is all around us - we're literally walking into digital art without having to wear virtual reality eye wear!

More and more our cities seem to be gravitating or changing into this landscape created through the mastery of digital technology. But I'm not saying this is bad thing, what I am saying is that this phenomena is the future - computers are an exceedingly powerful medium with multiple dimensions no matter what Norman said. Take into account the current trend of print newspapers and magazines. There is a major trend towards media integration in the form of digital art... every major newspaper and magazine in the country has a digital presence and more and more they're focusing on creating an "experience" for their readers - this trend has been going since the 1990s as suggested by the reading back when designers first started to fiddle with online programs

Taking into consideration other interpretations of Bolter and Gromala -such as Pat's argument concerning our capability of preserving and developing an imagination with the advent of digital realities created for us- its interesting to imagine the effects that developing digital technologies and environments may present to our cultural outlook and our social structures.....good book to end the class with

Transparency Example

Hey gang: Unrelated to this weeks reading but relevant to previous discussions. This morning in the NYT an article about cameras in the Middle East. Click.

"Had it not been for the camera — one of about 100 handed out in the West Bank by the Israeli human rights group Btselem for the purpose of documenting violent attacks — the June 8 assault may have ended up like many others that have occurred in these parts: unresolved. But the graphic images and ensuing attention by the news media seem to have spurred the Israeli police. By Friday, the Judea and Samaria branch had arrested three suspects from the nearby modern Jewish settlement of Susiya."

A fine example of how technology is being used for the good of security in an ever-long struggle for justice.

A Mirror is Hard to Hold

In this weeks NYT Week in Review Section an article questioning the meaning of current video games was published. The Shootout Over Hidden Meanings in Video Games

Here is a small snipit from the article. CLiCk above for full text.

If there’s a subject that’s as contentious as war itself, it might be a video game about war.

It’s been just over a week since the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the latest chapter in the popular video game series about a covert military agent named Solid Snake. And already, fans are exchanging rhetorical fusillades on the Internet, teasing out what the underlying political and philosophical messages of Metal Gear Solid 4 might be.

Encrypted within this discussion is a more sophisticated argument about the nascent medium of video games. Can it tell a story as satisfyingly as a work of cinema or literature?

Is the Sisyphean mission of Solid Snake — to rid the world of a robotic nuclear tank called Metal Gear — a parable about the futility of war or about its necessity? A critique of America’s domination of the global stage? A metaphor for the struggle between determinism and free will?

I'd like to offer a couple of points regarding transparency and new media. In our reading this week in Windows and Mirrors the idea that art can serve as meaning, specifically digital art, is proposed. One of the goals mentioned in the development of the computer medium was to create a transparent myth; to make something as real looking as possible. Mike used a great example in The Hulk. Some of the graphics where incredibly life like, from the rain falling off his shoulders to the moving shadows as his veins pulsed. If I didn't know that 10-feet-tall green men didn't exist I would have been convinced that he was a material being.

The same can be said for video games as they grow closer to videographic reality. With every passing year the graphics look as if we are controlling CNN video footage. The more life-like the graphics appear the easier it is to convey a convincing narrative, in my opinion. Ten years ago the graphics were not as good and therefore an easier time was had separating the game from reality. Now, with the complex artistry that is involved with the games, life-like becomes more closely achieved than ever before. If this is the case, doesn't the art imply subjectivity to a certain degree?

In Text Rain letters and parts of words would land on the silhouette of a person and funny sequences of nonsense would occur forcing the participant to find her own meaning. I would suggest that this is the case for all art. Even the most realistic art has a subjectivity about it when it comes to its interpretive meaning. Where one person might find Medal Gear Solid 4 too preachy when it comes to the sentiments of war, another could find no such meaning or perhaps just enough of a narrative regarding war. The point is, art is a difficult mirror to hold with regard to a culture as a whole because we may not like what we see and the image could continue to change on us.

It's Not Just About You Anymore

Windows and Mirrors provides an interesting way of how we should look at digital applications. As Bolter explains a digital application should include both a strategy of transparency as well as reflexivity. As he explains, digital applications always reflect the user in a way that is disimilar in other media. He does provide an example of a painting by Hans Holbein called The Ambassabors and explains that you cannot just look through the painting but you must become an active member of the painting in order to fully understand its meaning.

This is highlighted within digital art as he provides a number of examples. Through each he shows how art becomes a reflection of the self. The ability to customize digital art creates a unique experience for each person and therefore it is not just a representative of the artist itself (Window) but a representive of the viewer as well (Mirror). This is an interesting way of looking at new media. Therefore it is no more a oneway conversation.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Windows and Mirrors

Wow- I really enjoyed this book! Maybe because the authors' style seems to drip with a McLuhan-like sense that seems to be ingrained in our Fordham Comm department; or because I could just really get into it.

It was presented in an easily accessible manner, and the content was engaging. How better to enumerate 'The Medium is the Message' than to create a wooden mirror!? Absolutely brilliant!

Digital art, as demonstrated early in Windows and Mirrors, can be such an interactive experience that no other artistic medium offers, it is almost limiting to call it just 'digital' and not interactive digital media.

Digital art could be a collection of LOLcats from I can haz cheezburger, where fans generate comical captions in a stylized form that has evolved into a highly ritualized fashion - with its own stories, syntax, and plot lines, and eventually spreading out to include all sorts of animals.


its easy to see that the grammatical errors and designs are completely intentional- catering to those who 'get it'.

Another, perhaps less low-brow example of digital art could be something as simple as Times Square . With its carcophany of lights, who could possibly say it is not a digitally mastered environment meant to be experienced by active participants?

If its not a stock ticker that runs into the sidewalk and gives you the latest news headlines as you literally walk over it, or a Digital Toys-R-Us Giraffe that follows your gaze as you walk down the block of surreal lighting and atmosphere, digital art is a force that is certainly here to stay.

It would seem that advertising has probably the most readily identifiable application of this budding art, but it is not an exclusive relationship. Digital Art, has found a niche as a form of entertainment, to be appreciated by the masses.

I contest that CGI is also a form of Digital art. creating and mastering zeros and ones into a sequence that serves to amaze movie goers and spectators of all sorts.

sure The Incredible Hulk may not be art- (trust me I saw it) but the care and dedication that went into the design and execution of the movements of the 'hulk' were impressive. Immense detail was taken to emulate the human form in movements and muscle structure, although the detail was highly sensationalized.

Just because its commercial does not mean it cannot be art.

A whole Genre, I would say has come to be known for beautiful animation and emulation of the human form- that would be Japanese Anime. Often based on Manga- which could itself is an art form of story telling, great care goes into being accurate and beautiful with all the animation.

Here is a link to a series called 'Gunslinger Girl' - this particular anime is a few years old, but from the inclusion of musical scores, to the animation, to the website, and the desire to be as accurate as possible to the original story and development of subplots- it would be a press not to consider it a type of Art- even if a person does not enjoy this particular example.

Below is the opening sequence of Final Fantasy XI - sure its a video game, but these things are nothing short of impressive!

Now I know I focused on commercial examples of digital art- for which I apologize but our culture is so immersed in it we would be silly not to recognize it.

I know the book touches briefly on film in chapter 3 I believe and eludes to gaming in chapter 7, but there importance goes beyond a medium through which art can be expressed, because those commercial outlets drive the technologies that fuel digital art.

Also I realize this post says nothing of the Montage as an artform, or any of the other recent developments that have touched more on the musical aspects or sensory aspects of digital art; but then again this post is probably already too long :)