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Posts Tagged ‘new media’

Procedural Literacy– “Reading” Games

December 7th, 2009 No comments

Since I was introduced to the concept in the Summer of 2007, I have been smitten with the idea that games can make arguments.  After all, this was a seeming justification for a medium which I always believed was superior to film for entertainment purposes, but lacked the depth that writing enjoyed for more intellectual pursuits. Since then, I have learned to not think of which medium is better or worse, and instead have learned to think of what medium’s affordances can be leveraged best for a particular purpose. Our class has focused on how new media, broadly conceived, sheds new light on literacy or otherwise makes obsolete previous notions of literacy. Previous notions of literacy, based on an understanding of alphabetic text alone, do not account for visual mediums, such as videogames, which can certainly convey information.

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, presents a coherent approach to “reading” and interpreting games, based on his notion of procedural rhetoric. Ian Bogost argues, first, that games can be and are expressive human artifacts. He states that previous notions of rhetorical traditions, such as visual rhetoric, can only shed so much light on games’ rhetorical value; the notion of procedural rhetoric must be employed to explain rhetoric in games more fully. Procedural rhetoric, to the author, describes the computer’s (and in turn, the game’s) ability to simulate a rule system, which can be imbued with an ideology. When taken this way, the “games as container” metaphor can take on a new shape. Games are not simply a site for education, but a medium with real cultural currency, an abstraction of a real-life system that can be filled with any message the designer intends.
One book that discusses the rhetorical capacity for games is Ian Bogost’s Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. The book presents a coherent approach to “reading” and interpreting games, based on his notion of procedural rhetoric. The author argues, first, that games can be and are expressive human artifacts. He states that previous notions of rhetorical traditions, such as visual rhetoric, can only shed so much light on games’ rhetorical value; the notion of procedural rhetoric must be employed to explain rhetoric in games more fully. Procedural rhetoric, to the author, describes the computer’s (and in turn, the game’s) ability to simulate a rule system, which can be imbued with an ideology. When taken this way, the “games as container” metaphor can take on a new shape. Games are not simply a site for education, but a medium with real cultural currency, an abstraction of a real-life system that can be filled with any message the designer intends.
This sounds really abstract, so I played one of the games produced by Bogost’s company, Persuasive Games. His games have appeared on the New York Times website and various government agencies. The game I played, Windfall, discusses some of the challenges energy companies face.

This screenshot shows the game’s interface, which is present all the time. The icons on the left represent the various actions the player can perform. The information on the right shows the player’s funds, popularity, and the amount of energy being generated.
Because games are different from prior media forms, a new means of interpreting and critiquing them must be devised. Ian Bogost performed such a work in Persuasive Games. He argues that, “videogames open a new domain for persuasion, thanks to their core mode of representational mode, procedurality” (p. ix). This new rhetorical approach, procedural rhetoric, is defined as, “the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions rather than the spoken word, writing, images, or moving pictures” (p.ix). Bogost explains that “procedural rhetoric is a technique for making arguments with computational systems and for unpacking computational arguments that others have created” (p. 3). It is this trait of computers, procedurality, that “fundamentally separates computers from other media” (p.4). Thus, if we take this assertion seriously, we cannot ignore this element of videogames that make them unlike other media. It is a “form of symbolic expression that uses process instead of language” (p. 9). This lengthy summary is in place to flesh out this novel idea that may at first sound foreign to those with humanities backgrounds. It may be helpful here to discuss a particular game that represents these ideas, Windfall, a  “A strategy game about building wind farms to create clean energy profitably,” according to Bogost’s company’s website, Persuasive Games.

In this game, the player is charged with building windmills for particular geographic location. The view is top-down, like other strategy games such as Civilization. The player uses the mouse to pick and action, on the right of the sceen, to “Research”, build a windmill, build a power line, or “recycle.” The game’s recycle feature allows a player to buy back a windmill or power line that he or she bought for half of the original price. On the right of the screen are icons, which indicate the various actions the player can perform. There is an optional tutorial in which the game teaches the mechanics of the game. Normally, there is clock that runs for “three years” in the game’s time. During this time, the goal of the game is to reach a certain energy output. But, there are a few rules to keep in mind. First, that a windmill must be connected to a powerline, which must be connected to the transformer. Also, there are some places where windmills cannot be placed, such as on hills, sidewalks, touching bodies of water, or on other buildings. And there are suggested rules, such as, “Be careful. Nobody likes large windmills in their neighborhoods.” The player can, in fact build large windmills in neighbords, even next to houses. But, when that happens, people will protest, which will affect your company’s popularity. If your popularity decreases because the people are unhappy with your actions, namely, where you are putting windmills and power lines, they will protest, which will actually cost you money in the game. Popularity is tracked with an icon the right side of the screen. Under the icon, the player’s popularity (or lack thereof) will be translated into a loss in dollars if the when the player’s popularity dips below 100%.

Players can choose to make small, medium, or large windmills. The larger the windmill, the more it costs, but it will generate more energy. People, however, resent the larger windmills more, forcing your company to incur political costs, calculated in real dollars.

This shot shows how the “research” function works. Players can pay a small fee to conduct research on a certain piece of the grid. The “windier” the location, the more efficient a windmill placed in the location will be.

The player can perform “research” on a particular block, as the game is laid out in a grid-like structure. For a price, this research will reveal information about the earth, such as how much wind the area garners. Making this small investment is worthwile to player, which ranges between $100 and $200 dollars. By putting the windmills in the most advantageous places, the player will acrue the most revenue. The player essentially has to balance multiple interests. He or she wants to first, make money by building windmills. But there are times when the player must decide whether he or she will opt to build near neighborhoods if the land is particularly desireable or it he or she is better off keeping the people happy. When the people are unhappy to the extent where it is no longer politically expedient to keep a windmill and its adjecent power line in the same location, the player can recycle the item. This will provide the player with half the value of the item, and will raise his or her popularity in the game. The game makes a claim about the complexities of the energy business. Businesses have a job to do, and sometimes this upsets people. Those who run businesses must decide where his or her priorities are. However, when businesses realize that they are upseting people, they can compromise, to make the make the people happy, and improve the bottom line, even if this entails taking a momentary hit to the bottom line. Instead of being an overtly political game, this game, through the abstraction of a simulation, evokes the spirit of the real-world system, while keeping it simple enough that one can learn how to play the game very quickly.

A bibliophile nears a compromise with technology

November 26th, 2009 No comments

I have books all over my house – some are in large designated bookcases, some are tucked away in inconspicuous places out of sight. I have collectible books that are first printings of first editions (well defined in a paper written for another class – not all books that say first edition on the inside are true first editions). Most are books I have read and loved, some are books that I found interesting and plan to read. This scenario probably fits the description of many households of other bibliophiles.

This morning I clicked on a link in a tweet by Debbie Ridpath Ohi that took me to an enlightening article about ebook readers on Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020:

Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020

The article contains a fairly detailed discussion about ebook readers, starting with the Kindle. I took a trip on a link provided in the article to see the Barnes & Noble version of their ebook reader, the Nook.

Barnes & Noble Nook

I read a comparison of the features of the Nook vs. the Kindle on Barnes & Noble’s site that showed the features – of course in the Barnes & Noble comparison, Nook came out on top. However, the comparison does show indisputable proof that the Nook is a probably a better product than the Kindle.

So all of this set me to thinking, should I get rid of my books and get and use an ebook reading device? Well, yes and no. It’s easier to address the yes answer first: it would free up a massive amount of space in my house and lighten the load of overburdened bookcases. Also, carrying an ebook reader would allow me to have the availability of a book to read at any time of day, anywhere, without carrying a book that may be less portable. Now to the no answer: would I get rid of all my books? No. There will always be a place in my home for well loved books that I have read multiple times, as well as the collectible books that I would never part with. Another issue is cost. What if you download a book that you discover you don’t like? The money you’ve spent on the download is wasted money in this scenario. I wondered, does the yes outweigh the no? After all, you can borrow a book from the library or look at a book at Barnes & Noble and confidently decide if a book is worth reading before making a purchase of the ebook. Another discovery: the Barnes & Noble site gives links to download the ereader to an iphone, blackberry, or to your computer. More to think about …

So, I feel I am nearing a compromise. Perhaps it would be worth considering an ebook reader instead of maintaining my massive book collection. Still, it is hard for a person like me to let go of the feel of a book in my hands. This is a subject that clearly requires more research…

And Then There’s This: An Overview

November 13th, 2009 No comments

Bill Wasik in And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture states that one of the goals of the text is “to consider political smear, meaningless fads, perishable bands, momentary celebrities, and disposable narrative” in a more realistic and accurate light.  He begins with an example of what he describes as the nanostory.  He refers to Blair Hornstine, a high school senior and valedictorian from Moorestown, New Jersey who was scheduled to attend Harvard University. However, the superintendent of the district ruled that Hornstine must share her valedictory honors with the second place finisher, whose score was only lower due to a technicality.  Hornstine, whose father was a judge, sued to be named the sole valedictorian and for 2.7 million in punitive damages. The U.S. district judge ruled in her favor however a local paper “discovered that she was a serial plagiarist” and so “Harvard quickly rescinded” her acceptance (p. 2).   Wasik provides this example to show readers “the trajectory of her short-lived fame” or as he later describes it, meaning because of how her story was “fit handily into one of the various meanings imposed on her…” (p. 3-4).

Wasik continues on to talk about viral culture which he describes as seizing, elevating, and spreading ideas as meaningful, significant, or representative of “something about the moment” (p. 64).  He saids that “viral culture is based on a new type of sudden success- a success with 4 key attributes” (p. 8). These are “Speed”, “shamelessness”, “duration”, and “sophistication”(p. 8). Wasik explains that “success in viral culture is interactive, born of mass participation, defined by an awareness of the conditions of its creation” and is built “upon what one might call the media mind”(p. 8).  Further on in the text Wasik states that the media mind refers to when individuals market and promote themselves in the hopes of making meaning and gaining followers which would then change the way they speak, how they act, and how they see themselves (p. 12-13). Wasik explains his ideas on viral culture in the video Bill Wasik’s new book: The view from atop the spike of viral culture.

Wasik discusses his flash mob experiments which he states were brought on by boredom.  With the help of e-mail, Wasik was able to gather people together in specific locations and then on the day of the mob give them directions on where to go and what to do.  This idea he said would work because “it was  a self-conscious idea for a self-conscious culture, a promise to create something out of nothing” (p. 19).  Wasik’s mobs occurred in several different sites in NYC but inspired others to create mobs in other cites as well.  These mobs were described as meme: “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture” (p. 25).

Wasik goes on to talk for some length about an indie rock band called Annuals who was swept up in what Wasik calls niche sensationalism. The band’s rise and fall provided a perfect example of nanofame, with the added benefit of the band’s name itself accurately portraying viral culture. Wasik states, rather poetically, that title was a “melancholy vision of a beautiful band built constitutionally, to die” (p. 62) The author provides us with another experiment in viral culture in which he tried to “neutralize or reverse” the buzz of the band Peter Bjorn and John.

Wasik goes on to talk about the Huffington Post Contagious Festival in which he enters a site called “The Right-Wing New York Times” using the pseudonym Will Murphy and ultimately wins.  He acts as both a participant in the contest and a journalist interviewing the other prominent contests and so is able to show readers a more complete picture of the creation of a meme

The author continues on to corporate agents and word of mouth marketing.  Here companies attempt to engage consumers and turn them into proponents of the company’s products or services. The reward often times for this the agent’s feeling of being an insider.  Wasik talks about how this changes the individual’s relationship with the company and the product.  Wasik created Bill Shiller “the ideal viral consumer” to better show this point and had Shiller actively seek out companies and products to support and promote including giving demonstrations and recommendations of products to friends and family (p. 123).

The author finishes with a discussion of how nanostories effect politics. He shows how false or embellished information can “Swift-boat” a candidate’s campaign (p. 153) . Wasik also created a bipartisan cite called OppoDepot that provides “decontextualized negative stories” about the candidates (p. 159).  However the cite was not as successful as he had hoped.  Wasik points to the rise of Youtube and ads such as “Vote Different” and “Chuck Norris Approved” saying that the online 2008 political campaign was “defined by Youtube more than by blogs” (p. 175).

The book ends with a conclusion in which Wasik looks critically at how as a culture we have become hyper connected to technology.  He proposes that we unplug from our devises be it the internet, iphone, television, etc or at least come to some sort of compromise.  He warns that we should become less enthralled with nanostories and become more “judicious controllers of our own context, making careful and self-reflective choices about what we read, watch, consume” (p. 186).

Collaborative Essay Structure

November 11th, 2009 No comments

After sifting through the collaborative essay structures that you sent me, the consensus reveals itself in the below structure. I have summarized your ideas and added some further suggestions for subjects to be discussed in each section. Each section will, I think, require some additional research to make it thorough, but that is a good thing:

Introduction
general consensus that we should build on and revise Anthony’s introduction; here we also need at least a brief introduction/definition of new media

Literature Review
general consensus that this is where we introduce the frame texts (Selber, Kress, Brooke, Jenkins, and I would add Wesch on YouTube in here) to provide an historical perspective on the main questions: What is literacy? The goal of the rest of the paper is going to be to building to an understanding of how new media challenges that understanding.

Case Study #1: Blogging
Discussion of blogging and its literacy practices, including both examples of and—and this is the most important part—how one constructs such spaces. This is the largest of the case studies.

Case Study #2: Microblogging
Discussion of twitter and its literacy practices, including both examples of and—and this is the most important part—how one constructs such spaces (including the 3rd party app community, API, and cellular usages)

Case Study #3: Video and Remix
Discussion of YouTube and remix culture, including both examples of and—and this is the most important part—how one constructs such spaces (including copyright, intellectual property, Creative Commons, and idea of video as a text)

Case Study #4: Video Games
Discussion video games (1 video game would be best) and its literacy practices, including the games as texts but also how users construct such spaces through their interaction

Case Study #5: Information Processing
Here is the real Web 2.0 discussion, where we think about how we understand, organize, structure, and deal with the massive amounts of information out there. Examples to think about using are We Feel Fine, RSS readers, and so on)

Conclusion, or What To Make of This?
This is going to reveal itself after we put together the other sections, but it will also need to include a brief discussion of the kinds of things that are not covered so that readers understand that it is a limited discussion (that the limited space of the article does not allow for a lager discussion).

We’ll discuss this in class tonight and will divvy up the responsibilities for each section.

New Media Education

November 6th, 2009 No comments

The incorporation of new media in the classroom has been an ongoing process.  In the mid-1960s, bulky vacuum tube computers were establishing a presence on well-to-do universities, and smaller miniframes and minicomputers were starting to be used.   According to Catherine Schifter’s 2008 article, “A Brief History of Computers, Computing in Education, and Computing in Philadelphia Schools,” computers were often used in the 1960s for computer-assisted instruction.  Many teachers were hesitant to use this new technology and preferred educating with tools they knowledgeable with rather that this “alien” technology.

It wouldn’t be until the rise of Apple and their donations of computers to schools and universities would a class rely on computers as an educational tool.  In the 1980s, computer classes, or “labs”, became part of the curriculum.  However, the use of computers was still very constricted to the teaching of computer literacy.  This was so because computer skills weren’t needed in other classes, or if they were at all, they were used on a very basic level (simple math problems, science quizzes, etc).  Their use for higher level teaching was not popular outside of programming courses at universities.  Apple’s development of a decent word processing program, the Apple Works suite, became a common in 1984, but high school typing classes wouldn’t be until 1990.

Then textbooks began supplementing their material with 3.5in floppy disks and CD-ROMS.  The multimedia program, Hyperstudio, introduced high school students to multimodality in text.  Computer rooms in school were becoming more and more common as this “Internet” thing was slowly being realized as more than just a fad.

Now, computers and education have become integrated down to the elementary level.  The importance of computer literacy and teachers who are knowledgeable with computers have facilitated that integration.  A first grade teacher at Prairie South School in Central Saskatchewan, Canada, uses technology daily with her six to seven year old students.  They routinely use the Internet and even have their own blog, Blogmeister.  The following video was made by the class and is an example of just how fundamental new media has become in our schools.  (Pardon the music)

However, even though schools across the nation have created a multitude of computer classes and classes have worked computer use into their respective studies, there is still a need for a more systemic educational standards.  The participatory nature of new media presents many obstacles and questions that children, if left on their own, may or may not successfully navigate to became active and intelligent members of this new culture.  This is the argument Henry Jenkins et al. have constructed in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.  They stressed that young people need to develop a certain set of skills to achieve such a participatory status.  Those skills are play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, judgment, transmedia navigation, networking, and negotiation.

They ask and address three questions on page 56 to which the aforementioned skill set need be applied to:

  • How do we ensure that every child has access to the skills and experiences needed to become a full participant in the social, cultural, economic, and political future of our society?
  • How do we ensure that every child has the ability to articulate his or her understanding
    of the way that media shapes perceptions of the world?
  • How do we ensure that every child has been socialized into the emerging ethical standards that will shape their practices as media makers and as participants within online communities?

These questions raised by Jenkins and his colleagues are one that educators and scholars have been asking since computer technologies were seen as an important and ignored learning tool.  It would seem that teachers all over the world have been grappling with this problem and have been adjusting their courses accordingly, however new media have advanced incredibly fast in the last decade.  Administrations have be hard pressed to adjust so quickly and teachers may be more capable for impromptu adaptations, but the educational system is a slow giant.  We need to look at how schools are helping students become active participants in our “Web 2.0 culture” and determine what we can do to improve that transformation.

Perspective and Style

October 10th, 2009 No comments

In Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media author Collin Gifford Brooke invites readers to rethink the traditional canons.  He explains that the canons are not static and that they should be rethought in light of new technologies.  I was particularly interested in Brooke’s discussion of perspective and the canon style and how they influence our understanding of new media and literacy.

Brooke states that “style has probably been the most productive canon for explorations of new media” (p. 113).  He explains the important relationship between media and style and states that “scholarship has focused on the inextricable combination of visual and verbal elements within new media” (p. 113). Brooke asks us to “consider what style might look like when we consider it in terms of interfaces rather than static texts” (p. 114).  He explains that new media interfaces use the canon style to change our perspective on the text.  They “help us move from the abstracted, single perspective of the reader of a static text or the viewer of a painting to the multiple and partial perspectives necessary for many forms of new media” (p. 114).  Brooke suggests that we “restore style to its place in our ecology of practice” (p. 114).  He suggests that we “move style away from its place in an Aristotelian ecology of code” (p. 126).

He points us to “the desktop metaphor in most graphical user interfaces” as an example (p. 133). Brooke asks the question of whether “the desktop is something that we look at or through” and concludes that the answer depends on “where we look from” and our “level of comfort with the various metaphors operating there” (p.134).  Another example he uses is the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, World of Warcraft.  Brooke explains that the interface in this game changes depending on the level of the player and the function they are trying to perform.

Brooke offers readers some background on the understanding of rhetoric and perspective.  He does this to provide a “backdrop against which we might begin to explore what art historian James Elkins describes as the practice of perspective” (p.123).  This practice he describes as having been “subsumed by mathematical perspective and one that will prove important for reconceiving style for the interface” (p. 123).

Brooke goes on to invite us to look at metaphor.  He prefers Aristotle’s use of the word and states that using metaphor in that way “reveals some interesting connections- connections suggested both in the transmedial development of perspective and in more recent attempts to gather media under the umbrella of polymorphic or multiliteracies” (p. 125). Aristotle defined metaphor as a “movement (epiphora) or displacement, from one term to another” (p. 125).

Brooke goes on to talk about the other canons and how they should be revisited with new media in mind.  He ends the book on a humorous note with a list of questions that he attempts to answer about the book’s purpose and what research is still needed in this area among other things.

Rethinking the Canons

October 2nd, 2009 No comments

Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media by Collin Brooke inspires us to look at text and rhetoric especially the canons in the light of new media.  The rhetorical canons; invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, Brooke describes as being “more like a disciplinary heirloom then they are part of our core intellectual inheritance” (29).  This is because while those involved in rhetoric and composition view the canons, invention and style as crucial they may not place as much emphasis on memory and delivery.  The canons memory and delivery while once of great concern have evolved into less importance.  The canon arrangement “falls somewhere in between, embodying the necessity of discursive forms, but occasionally lapsing into formulae like the notorious five paragraph theme” (29) The canons are an inherent part of our understanding of rhetoric so much so that much of the time they go unacknowledged.

With the advent of digital media our understanding of the cannons needs to evolve.  Brooke points us to “Hypertext is Dead” as a prime example.  “Hypertext is Dead” was published by the electronic journal Kairos and is an “electronic essay containing the positions and ideas of some of the leading figures in the specialty of computers and writing and focusing specifically (as the title indicates) on the vitality of hypertext” (1).  “Hypertext is Dead” passed though three layers the town hall conversation format, the online component, and the worthiness of academic publication and while it is not the only work of this type one thing that does make it “distinctive is the fact that all three of these layers are made explicit on the front page of the essay: Its emulation of the “ideal conference session” supplies the motive behind its preservation” (3). Brooke explains that the notions of “Hypertext is Dead” are “symptomatic of broader changes in the range of informational, communicative, and expressive potentials embodied in new media” (5).

Brooke explains that we need to “locate the canons more centrally” within our understanding of rhetoric and composition (35).  Previously we have used then as a guide to composing written text.  However Brooke suggests that we should rethink the canons as an ecology and that in this understanding the canons would supply a set of categories that are somehow not static or limited, delineations that preserve the dynamic flexibility of an ecological model while providing us with some ability to distinguish one practice from another” (42). In addition to the canons Brooke offers the “classic trivium of grammar, rhetoric, and logic” (42).

Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media is a call to action, among other things, for education to change and adapt to the introduction of new media.  Brooke urges universities specifically English departments to emphasis this understanding in faculty and the knowledge they provide to students.

Cinderella’s Online

September 30th, 2009 1 comment

More and more people are changing the way they think of reading and text.  Tools such as The Kindle and sources such as Google books and Project Gutenberg allow us to access more titles more easily than ever before.  With digital text becoming more and more popular it is no surprise that other companies are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon.

According to the New York Times article Disney Tries to Pull the Storybook Ritual Onto the Web by Brooks Barnes The Walt Disney Company is launching a new subscription based website that will offer hundreds of Disney books. Previously Disney only offered a few titles on Kindle and Leapfrog.  Media analyst for Forrester Research, Sarah Rotman Epps, states “They are the first to say, we’re putting our whole catalog online in this one place, and we’re selling it straight to parents.” The site is organized into age groups and levels of reading skills.  Starting with a “look and listen section for beginning readers, where the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music, with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken.”  For children who can read on their own, there is another section and if they find an unfamiliar word they can “click on it and a voice says it aloud.” For teenagers there are chapter books and trivia.  The vice president of digital media, Yves Saada assures concerned parents that “this isn’t going to replace snuggle time with a storybook…We think you can have different reading formats co-existing together.”

Reading this I found myself wondering how this will affect future generation’s perception of digital text.  There is a certain romantic notion to the physical printed book.  People have libraries in their homes and refuse to throw them away.  But if we are conditioned to read digital text from childhood will these nostalgic notions still be there? What will that mean for printed books? Does it matter?

Some thoughts on Web 2.0

September 27th, 2009 2 comments

With the technology and design of Web 2.0 users can actively participate and produce content instead of just passively viewing content to create a more effective means to share information.  Such interactions have changed the way we think of our online space and perhaps media in general both new and old.  In his article “What is Web 2.0?Tim O’Reilly founder of O’Reilly Media attempts to provide us with a working definition of the term itself.  He states in an earlier article “Not 2.0?” that some believe that the term Web 2.0 is simply a “marketing hype — bumper sticker is a better way to say it” and in some ways it is.  It is a buzzword like most memes, but it does point the viewer in the right direction.  To gain a better understanding of this somewhat misleading term O’Reilly provides us with some examples of the themes that have changed with the evolution of the web from 1.0 to 2.0 DoubleClick, Ofoto, Akama, mp3.com, Britannica Online, personal websites, evite, domain name speculation, page views, screen scraping, publishing, content management systems, directories (taxonomy), and stickiness being Web 1.0.  (Some of these appear to have changed to embrace newer technologies this article was posted September 2005 which shows the increased effectiveness of Web 2.0) Google AdSense, Flickr IBitTorrent, Napster, Wikipedia, blogging, upcoming.org and EVDB, search engine optimization, cost per click, web services, participation, wikis, tagging (“folksonomy”), and syndication being Web 2.0.  O’Reilly explains that “Web 2.0 is the era when people have come to realize that it’s not the software that enables the web that matters so much as the services that are delivered over the web.”

Websites like Universe and We Feel Fine provide a whole new dialogue between users. We Feel Fine, by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, records when users type how they are feeling into their blogs to create a sort of map of human emotion.  We Feel Fine describes itself as “an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what’s on our blogs, what’s in our hearts, what’s in our minds.” Universe by Jonathan Harris allows you to track people, places, concepts, or anything else you can imagine.  Universe’s mission statement concludes that “In Universe, as in reality, everything is connected. No event happens in isolation. No company exists in a vacuum. No person lives alone. Whereas news is often presented as a series of unrelated static events, Universe strives to show the broader narrative that contains those events.”  The connections offered with both spaces are incredible.

In his lecture Michael Wesch a professor at Kansas State University mentions Youtube, and perhaps other social networks as well, as a means to “create connection without constrain.” Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, etc. allows users to share their identity, or the small slice of their identity that it is most effective for them to reach their goals at that moment.   Similarly danah boyd, Social Media Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, states, “What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks.” We can then use these new interactive services available with Web 2.0 to collaborate and interact with others to create meaningful conversation.

Blogging; Digital Media and Society Series

September 9th, 2009 No comments

Blogging; Digital Media and Society Series by Jill Walker Rettberg successfully attempts to provide readers with an understanding of blogs and bloggers and how this medium, and/or genre, has and continues to change and impact the way meaningful communication is viewed in forms beyond traditional media.  Rettberg offers a brief but comprehensive overview of the history, meaning, styles, exploitations, adaptations, and future of blogging.  As the line between journalists and bloggers blurred yet legal implications did not, defining the term “blog”, which was coined in 1999 by Peter Merholz, and “blogger” has become a more pressing issue. None the less, it is a daunting task because of their ever adapting nature and various participants opinions.

Through Rettberg’s work we gain a greater understanding of the purpose of blogs; as participatory forms of media that can function as a social network, a forum for self exploration, a type of journalism that may give firsthand experience, insight, or opinions, or a means of advertising and marketing, to name a few.  Blogs are created to be read by others even if those others are just a small group, fifteen perhaps, of family, friends, and acquaintances.   However, unlike diaries that can be burned or shredded blogs may leave a more lasting trace which can be problematic when usually separate networks, such as conservative in-laws and a wild social life, collide.

Unlike traditional media, blogs encourage direct participation by viewers through comments made to the page creating a sort of dialogue between producer and consumer and perhaps skewing the definition of each.  The blog’s creator can respond to the comments depending on their whim. The information covered on the blog is also entirely up to the creator there are no fact checkers or editors as in traditional media. Interestingly, many people say that they read blogs because they think that they are more credible perhaps this is due to the blogger’s obviously stated opinion or because most blogs are not meant to provide journalistic style information but a subjective personal view of that information.  However reader’s supposed acceptance of little “t” truth does not extend to fake blogs that attempt to trick the reader into becoming emotionally invested in an online personae only to find out that they were not real.  Rettberg concludes with a look at the future of blogging which she states will continue to evolve and change our understanding of media participation and communication.