Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chapters 3-4

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; everyone looks at computers and has a different perception. The beginning of chapter 3 talks about how new media designer approaches the computer through many different cultural filters. The possibilities are endless. In this chapter Manovich wanted to talk about understanding the language of new media; software programs enable new media designer and artists to create new media objects, and at the same time realize another filter that shapes their imagination; the possibility of what an artist can do with a computer is mind boggling. The book gives great examples for me to really understand this concept, digital media players such Windows 98 Media Player, or RealPlayer all inmate the media machine of a VCR. They both provide similar commands such as play, stop, and rewind and fast forward; they make new media simulate old media” I feel like this can apply for ITunes replacing consumers purchasing albums. You can both purchase songs, and burn CDs of tracks for you own personal usage. Apple is really testing cultural filters, the Mac computer has a program called Garage Band that inmates a recording studio; anyone and everyone can be an artist or a producer. According to the book new media objects are rarely created from scratch they are made from ready made parts.

Also I want to talk about how illustrations are so life like these days. For examples Zeuxis’ paintings lifelike grapes that birds in the sky believe that they were real fruit. If a painting can cause something like this to happen; image the possibilities of 3D graphics on computer games. My freshman year I had a roommate that didn’t attend classes, and didn’t even leave the room for any social events because of his intense gaming experience. He was lost in the virtual computer games world; he will wake up and put his headphones on and play an online game for hours. Technology is simply amazing, and limitless.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chapters 3-4

What really caught my attention in this week's chapters, as being something that I had not considered before, was the inability for people to become utterly original and creative by using new media.
We use programs like photoshop, cool edit or various other sound and image editing and processing programs, feeling creative, but in essence we are just applying a series of filters, thus altering the original product. True originality has become extinct nowadays. it is almost never the case that a new form of media or art is created from scratch. It is usually a new combination of pre-existing forms. There is certainly though a lot of variability. The range of options when it comes to using technology to create, is seemingly infinite. Although it is simply a modification of previous signals by applying several filters to it, the result is so fundamentally different sometimes, that we come to think that it is original and in no way related to the source product.

Reflection: The Language of New Media

The Language of New Media by Lev Manovich was not an easy read for me. The introduction through chapter three seemed a bit repetitive, however, I was able to understand that Manovich believes that new media works like film, which I don't quite agree with, and the computer and culture both influence eachother, which I do agree with. As the book progresses, it begins to become a bit unclear to me as to what Manovich wants his audience to exactly take away from his book when we are finished reading. His five principles: numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability, and transcoding were pretty self-explanatory, however the next section, "What New Media is Not" relies heavily on comparisons between cinema and new media, which were not as easy to understand. The beginning of chapter six also proved to be a bit confusing, because it changes to the past tense, and it is basically a reflection about the first five chapters. I was not expecing Manovich to begin to explain why he emphasized the certain structure of his book, but I did think it was pretty interesting that he did include one chapter of explanations. Overall, I thought that Manovich had interesting points about cinema in comparison to new media, however I am not too sure this book is worth another read, in my opinion.

Chapters 1-3

I found the majority of the reading a bit difficult to understand. There were certain parts I had to re-visit to make sure I understood correctly in the first place. What I did get out of it is that Manovich has a distinguished view of new media, along with what I presume most older people do. As someone practically raised along with the growth of the internet and new media I think that nothing has changed much except for the enhancement of information and ways to gather it. The computer can be used for so much now that there isn't such a huge necessity to have to go out and grab a newspaper or watch the nightly or morning news. Almost everything you need to know is right at your fingertips.

As the newer generation makes its way and begins to take over whatever "new media" is, I believe that the evolution will remain constant.

New Media 5-6

In chapter 5, I was really interested in reading about video games that I am familiar with. Growing up with a brother that plays them, I understood the detail that he gave about them. According to Manovich, the most important forms of new media are database and navigable space. Databases permeate modern life as everybody is engaged in indexing and organizing data. Stating that each medium imposes certain knowledge structures, Manovich compares 20th century cinema, which employs narrative, to the computer age, which uses the database as general organizing structure of sense-making. Differently from narrative, the database does not create a story for which sequential cause-effect relations and actor's experience of events are crucial. Although, it was an interesting read, it was also a little technical and I found myself having a difficult time on some sections of the chapter.

Overall, I definitely thought that this book was an interesting read. I enjoyed the historical references as well as his precise observations about technologies today. He describes most of his arguments very well by providing examples from his own practical workings rather than images. Sometimes, it would help in certain explanations, but in others it would have been helpful with an image to picture the world he was describing. Although sometimes he was a bit philisophical, some of the technical parts were refreshing.

New Media 3-4

In chapters 3 and 4, we learn about every thing from synthetic realism to interactivity. I found this to be one of the more interesting readings in the class thus far, because it discussed the differences between a primitive illustration (paintings) and today's illustrations (3-d). Manovich write of the differences by saying:

"Despite this difference, the ability to generate three-dimensional stills does not represent a radical break in the history of visual representation of the multitude comparable to the achievements of Giotto. A Renaissance painting and a computer image employ the same technique (a set of consistent depth cues) to create an illusion of space -- existent or imaginary. The real break is the introduction of a moving synthetic image -- interactive 3D computer graphics and computer animation. With these technologies, a viewer has an experience of moving around the simulated 3D space -- something one can't do with an illusionistic painting."

I believe Manovich did an excellent job at stating plainly the main difference which is of time and space. When I read the last sentence about "moving around the simulated 3D space," I immediately thought of the interactive game system, The Wii. With the Wii, one can exercise in a different environment from where they presently stand. One can box a competitor who is not even in the same room, or go through an outdoor obstacle course while standing in their living room. This is where synthetic realism is at work. While performing these tasks with the computer system, one actually feels like they are in a different environmet. Not to take away from the beauty of an old illusive renassaince painting, but it can in no way compare to the illusion proposed by 3D.

New Media Chapters 3-4

I was immediately interested in “The Illusion” chapter of the book. Manovich started out with an example of the legendary Greek painter painting grapes of such quality that birds were deceived, making them think that they were real grapes. I have seen many examples today where artists aim to replicate real life as closely as possible so its interesting to see the early examples. Manovich separates the chapter into three different sections: Synthetic Realism and its discontents, synthetic image and its subject, and illusion, narrative, and interactivity. His approach seemed philosophical at first, but the detail made it interesting. Usually his detail is very technical, but I found that he tried to simplify the explanations of the generated digital art, like the Computer Generated Imaging.

I enjoyed the Jurassic Park comparison with Socialist Realism. It was interesting to see his perspective that although Jurassic Park was a huge movie in the 90’s we “shouldn’t be too impressed.” Now knowing that photorealistic computer graphics first appeared in the 1840’s, his opinion does seem understandable. Explaining that Social Realism wanted to show the future by projecting the perfect world and comparing it to Jurassic Park seemed really out there, but as you read on somehow I seemed to understand the comparison. Here is where Manovich makes the connection: Just "as Socialist Realist paintings blended the perfect future with the imperfect reality, Jurassic Park blends future supervision of computer graphics with the familiar vision of the film image." These chapters were a very interesting read for me, especially because film is a definite interest for me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Media - Chap 1-2

Manovich begins with listing the various technologies that are most common and most often tied to new media, like the computer. I, too, associate the computer with New Media like some of my other classmates. Manovich goes on to question how we can define media as “new” if it just simply store information more efficiently. He begins by looking over the history, first section of the chapter asking the question, how media became new? I found this section quite interesting, as this was the first time, I read about media that went as far back as early 1800’s. From a process called daguerreotype to Analytical Engine, which contained most of the key features of a modern computer, examples that were very interesting. Manovich also mentions that the development of computers and modern media run parallel, despite not crossing paths much of their history. Manovich reaches a conclusion that media becomes ‘new’ the moment these two parallel paths crossed for the first time, with media becoming computable. I found this a little difficult to understand, but when I did I knew I would never think this up on my own. Computers have become these ‘new media processors’.

The rest of the first chapter was a bit technical. At some points, I found myself researching some of the concepts in order to understand. He first focuses on digital media that data has to be represented in numerical form, in short, to be programmable. I understood this part fairly easily. Modularity, automation, variability, trancoding were the rest of the concepts that were a little difficult to grasp. I liked this chapter because it had somewhat of a scientific approach rather than theory. It was more of a technical, fact-based foundation than the first book we read.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Brief History of the Zoetrope

A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words "zoe", "life" and tropos, "turn". It may be taken to mean "wheel of life". This wheel of life was one of the first devices that was used to create moving images. In a way, this device and its affiliates were the precursors to cinema.

Of course, my name being Zoe, I was interested in this aspect of the last section of The Language of New Media. As the nineteenth century obsession with devices that moved images intensified, these devices were pushed and pulled into new dimensions of thought. From these twelve or so images, arranged in a circle we have evolved into cinema, into other circles within circles, and into other representations of ourselves in new media.

Today the zoetrope seems to have gone out of mainstream society. It could be considered a 'lost media' in a way even though concepts of the design are apparent in cinema and media representations. However, as I was traveling along the subway in New York City recently I noticed something strange. The regular posters and advertisements that you ride past between some part of the blue line, I cannot remember which part, seemed to work together into a pattern.

The history of my discovery is that in September 1980, independent film-maker Bill Brand installed a type of linear zoetrope he called the "Masstransiscope" in an unused subway platform in Brooklyn. It consisted of a linear wall with 228 slits in the face. Behind each slit was a hand-painted panel. Riders in subways moving past the display saw a motion-picture within. After falling into a state of disrepair, the "Masstransiscope" was restored in late 2008. Since then, a variety of artists and advertisers have begun to use subway tunnel walls to produce a zoetrope effect when viewed from moving trains. There is another zoetrope along a section of the PATH.

So, even though there is new media, old media, and the media in between, in a way everything is part of our media.

Just like the zoetrope...everything is cyclical.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chapters 3-4

I find it interesting that Manovich compares a "pure computer" to an "innocent eye."  He talks about how the culture filters what you see and what you create.  This is the same way with a computer.  When a designer starts designing new codes there is a culture that they are supposed to follow. The internet "is one gigantic library of graphics,photographs, video, audio, design layouts, software code and texts; and each and every element is free since it can be saved to user’s computer with a single mouse click."  

I also find it interesting that he talks about Film, video and photography.  These are things we are so used to now that thinking about when they were first invented they would be completely new.  Now they are things we look over.  We also do not take into account the sound that when film was originally released did not have sound.  We can go see a movie and get immersed into the images and sound that is presented to you.  The videos and images brings you into a new world.

RealityEngine is a fascinating way to for video games to be produced and designed.  But there is something interesting that Manovich said about how art has rejected the art of illusion.  I find that statement fascinating.  In art the perspective and illusion is made in many paintings.  To think that illusion is not used now is interesting.  Then illusion made the paintings interesting and creative.  When art became a modern form the illusion was lost and something that was so vital is now lost to flat images.  Because art lost its illusion, film, video, and photography, have taken over.  Art used to be the way to document history and to show imagination.  Now film, video, and photography can record the hear and now and create an illusion that people love to see.  Now animators are concerned with the illusion of making movies real.  Toy Story and UP create real worlds that are very realistic.  In the latest Tron they made Jeff Bridges look like a 30 year old man again.  Virtual Reality has become a huge part of our world. 

Language of New Media Ch. 1-3

When I think new media, I automatically think computers. This is the case for most people. Language of New Media, reinstates the theme of remediation that was ever so prevalent in “Windows and Mirrors.” New media is the result of improving upon older media to increase efficiency. This process has caused a technological revolution and one of the most prominent traits being picked up along the way is being digital. There was a time when one would have to awake early in the AM, go to the local store, and pay for a newspaper. Today the newspaper has been revolutionized. Most newspapers are available online for free. Not only can one get the news, but not he or she can comment on the articles, get updates throughout the day on featured stories, and search classified listings up to the minute. The example of the newspaper shows that old media is not being left behind, but instead being revamped.
            Manovich see the cinema as being more prominent than real time technology such as the telephone. He believes the cinema is easier to become immersed into. I think this opinion is entirely subjective. I concentrate better on a movie and experience it at a higher intensity when I watch it at home. The television size has nothing to do with my experience, nor the dark theatre. I believe a person’s movie experience depends on his or her comfort level. The more comfortable you are, the less distracted you are, and the easier it is to be immersed in the movie.

chapters 1-2

People think that the definition for new media revolves around the use of a computer and its distribution and exhibition.  It also says that anything electronically published on paper it is not considered new media.  Now if something is published on paper it is not considered to be new media.  It is funny when new media was when new media was when the printing press was invented in the fourteenth century.  Both forms developed the culture and the society they lived in.  Now computers have become a necessary part of school and out daily life.  Almost every college student has a laptop.  We are in a "media revolution" where we are shifting into using our computer to perform different forms of production, distribution, and communication.  "This new revolution is arguably more profound than the previous ones and we are just beginning to sense its initial effects."

This revolution began in the 1830's with Babbage's Analytical Engine and Daguerre's daguerreotype.  New media became graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and text which became computable.  Babbage in the 1830's designed the key components of the modern day computer.  I find it fascinating that a man during this time could create key components to a computer that really hasn't become popular until the end of the twentieth century and early twenty first century.  During his time steam power became an important part of civilization at that time.  It seems basic now, especially in the heavily electronic age that we live in, that a punch card was a very advanced form of computing who came to work that day.  This basic process was used in the 2000 presidential election.  Now we use computers to create digital effects for movies and people are praised for their skill in creating realistic visual effects.

In the 80's Macintosh started releasing their computers.  The GUI, Graphical User Interface, helped popularize Macintosh.  It showed the clarity and functionality of a computer.  The screen was made up of straight lines and rectangular windows where there are smaller rectangles.  Now computers have windows of rectangular boxes that people use to get their information.  Creating different windows makes people happy because it helps them keep their information together and organized.  The computer used to be white and black and when it progressed it started using colors.  This gives people the chance to customize their background.  "The computer interface acts as a code."  When you use the Internet anything you access will pass through the interface of the browser.  The interface links you to the internet.  I think is is somewhat uncomfortable when an interface can remember what you have accessed until you have personally gone and deleted  it and even then it isn't completely deleted. 

New Media

All media were once “new media”. To understand what can be considered as emergent media we have to distinguish new media from traditional media. Most technologies described as “new media” are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, net workable, compressible, interactive and, allegedly, impartial. New media is not television programs, feature films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications unless they contain technologies that enable digital interactivity, such as graphic tags containing web-links. The main threat to traditional media will be its ability to understand, implement and embrace these new interactive tools. The Internet gives people the opportunity to share their knowledge; blogging, micro blogging, social networks and web streaming are revolutionizing the publishing world.

The abundance of personal choices in communication is slowly draining the traditional mainstream media. Communicating through traditional media, professional journalists gather and report the news they believe is newsworthy, publishing content through large corporations, “new media” alternatively enables the audience to become the media themselves. The emergence of a new medium is always the occasion for the shaping of a new community or set of communities, a new equilibrium. A new medium offers positive and negative possibilities, instances of both risk and potential. Overall “new media” is an evolution of existing practices with the objective to create and distribute content.

Reflection of Ch. 7-9

Chapters seven through nine discuss Terminal Time. Termianl Time is a cutting edge, audience powered history engine. To better educate its participants or viewers on human history, the engine combines mass participation, real-time documentary graphics, and artificial intelligence. The effectiveness of the engine is mainly due to its ability to customize its lessons to reflect the values, biases, and desires of the participants or viewers. I think this is a really cool advancement in technology because it manages to teach people through learning from those same people. The machine learns the values, biases, and desires of the same people it is teaching in order to better service their needs and teach more effectively. I also think this advancement is a bit spooky. I don’t think I can get used to the idea that a machine is picking my brain. I feel like in humans’ attempt to advance technology, we are crossing to many boundaries in terms of reality and fantasy.
The text refers to the allegory of Plato’s cave. I found this allegory to be appropriate for how I feel about the digital world. We are getting so engulfed in technology and in escaping reality that we are losing pieces of reality every day. The main goal for children after getting out of school is to no longer go outside and play, but now it is to grab a seat in front of the computer or in front of the Nintendo and “live” through the characters in their fantasy world. I believe that if this continues people will eventually lose sight of reality all together and will become completely engulfed in virtual presence. This is what I believe was meant of Plato’s allegory of the cave.

Ch 4-6

Chapters four through six concern remediation. Remediation is the act or process of correcting a fault or deficiency. In the case of new media, it is the act of improving upon older, already existing media. Examples of this are paintings to photographs, letters to emails, and telegraphs to telephones. All new media is based on an older form and the term remediation pays homage to and acknowledges the qualities and overall existence of older media. Mediums are constantly borrowing from one another, combining, or mimicking one another in order to advance technology and communication. An example of remediation is the cell phone. Cell phones are modified house phones. House phones are a mean of instantaneous communication based on telegraphs. Most cell phones, now have computer functions. By computer functions, I am referencing internet access, Word application, and everything a computer can do. Cell phone can even project PowerPoint presentations. The cell phone serves as one complex medium whose entire existence is based on that of several simpler mediums.
These chapters also discussed new interactive technology that remediated old remediated old book. The example of the Magic Book was interesting because it is a very big advancement on the traditional book. However, I don’t think the invention is all that great. I think it required a lot of intelligence and hard work to create and is an amazing invention, but I think it discourages its readers from the essence of reading a book. I love to read, but that is because I like to create the characters in my head. I like to use my imagination and I think that the Magic Book is suppose to encourage imagination but could actually discourage children to use their imaginations.

Windows and Mirrors Ch.1-3

The first three chapters of “Windows and Mirrors” concerned the process of communication. In these chapters we learn that the process of communication includes three vital aspects. These aspects are sender, receiver, message, and medium. However, the founder of media theory and communication scholar, Marshall McLuhan, expressed the belief that the medium is the message. He also suggested that the medium serves as the environment. I found both of McLuhan’s assertion to be very eye opening and even clarifying in the process of communication. Today a very popular, most likely the most popular, means of communication is text messaging. Before I will pick up a phone to call someone or write them a letter, I will reach for my phone and send them a text. McLuhan’s suggestion that the medium is the message, opened my eyes to what “texting” represents or the message it conveys. For one, the receiver cannot hear what I am saying so it is a bit more difficult to convey a tone with texting as opposed to mediums such as talking on the phone or face to face, because the receiver cannot see my expressions or hear my voice. This is often the cause of much confusion and miscommunication, because the receiver cannot convey the tone of the message. The fact that I am just sending a short instant message rather than talking to the person by phone, a letter, or face to face conveys the message that I do not have the time or want to take the time to speak with the receiver.
            The medium serving as the environment makes me think of people getting engulfed in the media. Many people are on the internet for hours doing work, sending emails, playing games, and much more. This has caused the internet to become the environment or the place where the activity is taking place.

Chapters 1-2 manovitch

I found it pretty exciting how manovitch highlighted the thoughtlessness of some individuals when it comes to the evolution of certain forms of media, some things that people perceive as "new" are really an old form of media in a new coat. The evolution of say, books,to plays to movies to Television .

In fact the part that I found interesting (in my own personal experience) some of the games today (like The Legend of Zelda) are based off of old tales originally written in books. The legend of Zelda was new back in 1987 but certainly the books and tales and themes that are present in Zelda games come from books and plays that are far older than the game itself. There's a constant blurred line between old and new since many forms of new media have elements from older forms of media.

Language of New Media Chap 1-3

What is new media? This is an area that is quite hard to define. At one point in history the written word was considered new media. Then came the ability to electrically transmit messages through telegraph, telephone, phonograph radio and television. Now new media has taken on another new identity. Many people link new media to the computer. Immediately you think social internet media. Why not call it digital media? Today, it’s gotten to the point where just about all media is created or organized with the help of a computer, so you can’t single out new media as digital media because just about everything is digital. Radio, television and film have all said goodbye to the days of analog production. Even newspapers, although printed on paper, were in all likelihood written on a computer based word processor. Even the wire news services such as the Associated Press transmit their news through digital means. With all that being said it is definitely hard single out exactly what constitutes new media.

The new technologies associated with new media make the production and transmission of messages so much more efficient. It’s even gotten to the point where computer hardware and software can handle creative tasks. As mentioned in earlier posts, I’m a big fan of animated comedy TV shows. For instance, South Park was originally created with construction paper cut outs using stop motion animation. The creators of the series, Matt Stone and Trey Parker say they animated this way because it was all they could afford. Now that show is successful, it is animated solely on computers. Yet, they kept that original style. With all of the technology available, the animation is still based on the construction paper and stop motion animation. Thanks to the new technologies available the South Park Production team can spend more creative time on content rather than the animation.

Does technology take away from creativity? No, I believe it adds to it. In the world of animation there really is no need for your traditional pen and paper animator. Well, now you feel bad for the animators who are out of a job. But, in reality it’s evolution. Without the time constraint of analog production, more effort can be spent in other creative areas, like writing or editing. New technologies open up many possibilities creatively for media. Like James Cameron’s Avatar revolutionized 3-D motion picture technology. Now new artist can take advantage of new media technologies and create something newer and better for the future.

Chapter 1 and 2 New Media

Media convergence is basically what new media is, before the modern digital computer was developed to perform calculations on numerical data more efficiently for scientist and government usage only. For example the Analytical Engine, Babbage’s invention, he started a innovation, but never really completed his mission. His vision of his massive brass, steam powered, and general-purpose, mechanical computer couldn’t be used to its highest potential due to a lack of current electricity, but his mechanical computer inspired some of the great minds of the nineteenth century. Back in the fourteenth century, the printing press had a revolutionary impact on the development of modern society, now the computer is having a major impact on new media today. Almost anything can be found and view on the computer. The computer is a means for exhibition and distribution. Now the computer is use as venue of creation, imagination, and alteration making it a form of new medium. According to the book, “computer media revolution affects all stages of communication, including acquisition, manipulating, storage and distribution; it also affects all types of media.” Working as a Publicity Executive for Student Life I use the computer to create flyers and magazine covers. My computer proves me with a paper-like interface image, giving me that virtual feel of how the flyers is going to look once its printed out, giving me the transparent feeling.

Human computer interface HCI stands for: the way the user interacts with their computer. You can manage files, organize your own documents according to you preference, and express one on written computer documents. In this chapter it talks about how “we are no longer interfacing to a computer but to culture encoded in digital form.” When I read this it made me realize how users really get lose in the virtual world of computing. The interface these days are remarkable, for example computer games. A user can play a computer game for hours; they get lose in their own virtual dimension.

The Language of New Media Chapters 1-2

It is fascinating to see how we see and consider certain media as a whole, unified concept, when it can be broken down to numerous individual elements. This what is so interesting about the second book, along with the fact that it provides a thorough analysis of media evolution, especially of the computer.
I would like to focus more on a specific element of new media, which is also mentioned in the book: automation. It is true that we have come a long way since 1985 for example, when as the author mentions, design software programs could draw 3D objects only out of certain geometric forms such as cubes, cylinders etc. The response time of the computer to process the user's request has rapidly improved as well. We now have ready to use 3D templates of flocks of birds flying in the sky or waterfalls. It is most obvious, at least to technology inclined people, that in movies such as "The Lord of the Rings", which depicted all those massive herds of beasts, technology has contributed a lot in making it look realistic. The production company made an extensive use of 3D technology, because they would not probably be able to have so many actors performing at the same time for a single scene. They would literally need a sea of people.
But doesn't all that automation take so much out of creativity? And given the rapidly increasing rate of automation in any technology related activity, where will it lead?
Although humans have still a significantly important role in the whole process, I think that it is reduced entirely on an intellectual level. Maybe, it is just that we have transitioned to a different type of creativity. Maybe we could even go to the extent of saying that creativity could be considered a "meta-attribute", in the sense that new kinds are born out of old kinds.
To sum up, I just want to say that sometimes it is kind of frightening to see all that automatization happening. And why is it so impossible that automatization would reach a point, where machines are going to be individual non-dependent beings, having a mind of their own?

Reflection: Intro, Chapters 1-3

Manovich states, "It is my hope that the theory of new media developed here can act not only as an aid to understanding the present, but as a grid for practical experimentation (pg. 10). Manovich, in my opinion, develops that theory, and also focuses on the development of new media in the present, and future of new media. In the prologue of the book, Manovich touches on the early use of cinema, and the cinematic ways of seeing the world. I thought it was really interesting that Manovich pointed out the fact that editing and/montages actually create fake realities, which the use of two techniques. He states, "The first technique is temporal montage: Separate realities form consecutive moments in time. The second technique is montage within a shot. It is the opposite of the first: separate realities form contingent parts of a single image" (pg. 3).

In chapter 3 of The Language of New Media, I enjoyed how Manovich suggested that modern media technologies have developed along two distinct trajectories. "The first is representational technologies-- film, audio and video magnetic tape, various digital storage formats. The second is real-time communication technologies, that is, everything that begins with tele---telegraph, telephone, telex, television, telepresence" (pg. 162). He continues to state that the technologies of real-time communication have actually became subordinated to the technologies of representation. I am not sure if I exactly agree with this, however, with everything in our world being digital, it does seem to make the most sense.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Media Operations & Creativity

Is creativity born or developed? According to a Harvard study 85% is learned knowledge. So why don't we feel creative? This thought and question guided me to the following thoughts and discussion...

New media objects are rarely created from scratch. In many ways we build upon what is originally created. Essentially we are recreating digital art all the time. One of the examples used in out text talks about layouts. I think about all of the creative layouts, brochures, pamphlets, and other paraphernalia for the Office of Student Life. 100% of them are made from layouts. Layouts that were pre-made by my Mac designers.

Now, it isn't that I don't have the skills to create my own layouts, but it is so much easier to just go online, download a template and input the data. The operation in itself makes the process more efficient and although we don't make the ideas from scratch, we still feel like 'authors' of our own media objects or experiences.

The Renaissance Artist brings a completely new world into existence. The modern artist or consumer may only be reproducing these worlds, but through digital media we are modifying and creating. So in a sense we are creative through our experiences. I learned recently about a syndrome called the Pike Syndrome.

The pike is a fierce carnivorous fish that eats smaller fish. In the experiment, scientists placed the pike and its smaller fish that it eats in a tank with an invisible plastic barrier between the the fishes. The hungry pike smashes itself against the class attempting to eat the smaller fish. After many attempts it becomes discouraged and sinks to the bottom. Even after the barrier is removed from the tank the pike doesn't move and eventually dies of starvation.

This phenomenon is known as the Pike Syndrome and it shows that we can become paralyzed by imaginary barriers. We may not even consider a whole set of possible solutions due to fear or some other made-up obstacle. It also helps us realize that we need to respond to changes in the environment. If the pike had simply responded to change once the barrier was removed, he would be fat, dumb, and happy. Instead he starved to death since he held onto an assumption (the smaller fish were unreachable) even when the realities of the situation had dramatically changed.

It is up to us to unleash creativity. We have the means, tools, and the opportunity. Media portals give us these opportunities.

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see

I want to ask you to help me correct an inaccuracy out here on the net, an inaccuracy that amounts to an injustice.  Here’s the story:

Neil Postman wrote, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”  This is the first sentence that opens his book, The Disappearance of Childhood, which was originally published in 1982 by Delacorte Press.

I can remember being a young doctoral student in the old media ecology program at NYU, I was just 22 when I started there in 1980, and seeing Neil writing the book with a black felt tip pen on yellow legal pads.

Neil Postman wrote “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see” as the first sentence of the Introduction to that book, appearing on p. xi.  Here, take a look:

 The Disappearance of Childhood  was the second of Postman's major works providing a critical analysis of television's influence on culture.  It was preceded by Teaching as a Conserving Activity, and followed by Amusing Ourselves to Death.  And if you find Postman's media ecology scholarship at all interesting and valuable, and especially if you've read Amusing Ourselves to Death and you haven't read The Disappearance of Childhood, then you will find The Disappearance of Childhood to be a delightful companion piece, a well-crafted extended essay, and important work of cultural criticism.

Postman begins by writing that “children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see,” because he was writing about communication, which involves the sending of messages through a channel to a receiver.  In the case of messages sent to the future, the receiver may be unknown to us, but the basic idea still applies.  This view originates in the post-war era with the Shannon-Weaver Model:

 The Shannon-Weaver Model was modified by communication theorist David Berlo circa 1960:

But the important point is that Postman was writing about communication, and thinking about children, and childhood, in terms of communication.  The idea that children are our legacy, a way of projecting something of ourselves into the future, is a time-honored, traditional notion.  But thinking of children as messages, as part of the process of  communication, is a relatively new orientation.  

And as any good media ecology scholar knows, in 1964 Marshall McLuhan declared that "the medium is the message," by which he meant (among other things) that the messages we send are influenced in significant ways by the medium that we use to create and send them   And The Disappearance of Childhood is all about how children as messages are influenced by the media that they use, and that we use to prepare our children to carry on for us in the future.  And it is about how childhood is a message that is influenced by the medium that we use to create it. 

Yes, create it, because childhood is a cultural construct (albeit one based on an underlying biological reality), a message we send to ourselves about biological and social reproduction.  In print culture, children came to be seen as special and innocent, and in need of extended protection as they were cloistered away in schools, while television culture has returned us in some ways to a view of childhood that does not allow for much distinction between children and adults, hence the title The Disappearance of Childhood (which also signals the disappearance of adulthood).

But you really have to read the book to get Postman's argument.  And I only provide this cursory summary to underline the fact that Postman's quote, “children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see,” with its particular emphasis on children and communication, originated out of a very specific set of circumstances, and its meaning is quite clear in that context.  But it also has a wonderfully poetic quality, evocative and compelling, and works quite well standing alone.  Some might even be fooled into thinking it is some kind of ancient proverb, despite its clearly contemporary sensibility.

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see” is Neil Postman's most famous quote.  So what's the problem, you might ask?  And I'm glad you did.  The problem is that when you Google the quote nowadays, you get something like this:

How did this come to be, you might ask?  And I'm glad you did.  You see, this John W. Whitehead wrote a book entitled, ironically enough, The Stealing of America.

And this book was published in 1983, a year after The Disappearance of Childhood.  Just to be clear, here's the copyright page from Whitehead's book:

And here's the copyright page from Postman's book:

And just to dispel any lingering doubts, here is p. 68 of Whitehead's book, where he specifically cites Postman:

The Disappearance of Childhood also is included in the list of references that appear at the end of the book.  

So, are you ready now?  Ok, here is how Postman's quote appears in Whitehead's book, starting on the bottom of p. 116 and continuing on to p. 117:

Ah ha, you may be saying!  Caught red-handed! Well, the problem is that the circles that Whitehead travels in, and the readership that he picks up, is quite different from those associated with Postman.  So who knew?  It would have been quite the coincidence to come across it back in the 80s, or even the 90s.  But, the quote being so poetic and memorable, it got picked up from Whitehead's book, and reproduced all over the place with the wrong attribution.  It appears in some baby book, which probably amplified the error significantly.

Who is this guy, anyway, you might ask?  Well, you can read about him on this page from the Rutherford Institute website:  About John W. Whitehead.   And you can read about the Rutherford Institute on their Wikipedia entry:  Rutherford Institute.  

Not that it matters much.  I am writing this, and asking for your help, not to cast blame or level accusations.  Postman was certainly the easygoing, forgiving sort of person who would not have made a big issue out of this.  But speaking for those of us who honor his memory, and who believe in credit where credit is due, we would like to set the record straight.

The problem is that it is very hard to set the record straight on the web.  It is very hard to get the content of websites changed.  You can send a message, but it may be that the site is no longer active, or no longer actively supervised, or it may be that the individuals associated with the site just don't want to be bothered, or just don't care.  Believe me, attempts have been made, and met with no success.

But, the main thing to do when dealing with problems like this is to accentuate the positive (see my previous post, Digital Damage Control).  So, I am asking you to help to get the word out on the web, anyway that you can.

 Please feel free to repost all or part of this entry on your own blog or site or elsewhere on the web.  Or write your own post about this situation, using any part of this post that you care to, it is entirely open and available for copying and revising.

If you do post this or a similar message anywhere else, let me know, and I will add an acknowledgment and link at the end of this post.

And/or, please link to this post.

And/or, spread the word and the link via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.  If you tweet, Neil Postman wrote, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see,” that will be less than 50 characters, so you can add, please retweet, include a link to this post or another one, and/or note that we want to remedy an injustice.

 I ask that you please help me to get this particular message out there, get more positive posts and listings out there, and at least we can start to set the record straight.

Neil Postman did not live to see this time of Google and social media, but today, March 8th, 2011, is the 80th anniversary of his birth, and if he were still with us, he would joke about how what we are doing here is launching Operation Childhood, and probably ask if there wasn't some better way for us to spend our time, like reading a good book.  But deep down, he would be very much appreciative of the messages that we now can send on his behalf.  

So I ask you to be a living message now, and for the future.