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Cyberculture @ Swarthmore

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May. 1st, 2005 @ 10:12 pm
O my gosh---Action News is ridiculous..They really just filmed a news segment on a family of ducks that crossed a street in Philadelphia. What the hell. Anyhow, I think it's funny that someone decided to present a flash cartoon as media art--They are HILARIOUS. My friends recently got me into the flash cartoons on Ebaums world--my gosh they are ridiculous. I never really thought about it as art though. It was interesting to analyze the cartoon within the context of New Media. My friends and I watched a flash cartoon a high school student designed for a spanish presentation. He explained the importance of "AR" and "ER" verbs. I thought it was amazing. Not only did he talk translate a bunch of AR and ER verbs, but he also explained how to conjugate them in several different tenses. He used a mouse to illustrate. I've honestly watched it about ten times. And just the other day we came across another one about a talking strawberry and a baby who wants to eat the talking strawberry. The strawberry starts taunting and making fun of the baby until the infant becomes so enraged that he squashes the strawberry with his fist. LOL I'm sorry, that was hilarious. Here's the link: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/flash/strawberry.html----There is no question--This cartoon defines new media. I am really not sure what makes them so funny but I appreciate flash cartoons because it takes a lot of time to create them. Not only that, but the thought behind ideas and dialogues really take a lot of time and effort to fine tune.

May. 1st, 2005 @ 07:39 pm
Ok so online identity construction is probably the main topic we covered in class throughout this semester. Everything we discussed in class somehow traces back to perceptions of ourselves online and our ability to examine different aspects of our identity via online resources. I think this is all fine and interesting. However, I feel that the Internet does not provide us with a virtual utopia where we are completely free to test different facets of ourselves without having to consider the risks we would normally assess in our physical world. If anything, I feel like the Internet disrupts reality and may even facilitate dangerous enactments of identity. Sometimes I feel people are a little too free to explore different identities online. In Sherry Turkle's article, she describes a young man who talks about exploring very disturbing aspects of identity that he admits he would never consider displaying in the physical world. And I also think about these damn pedaphiles who lure kids in online chatrooms--this really disturbs me. Meeting new people from all over the world is fun and interesting. I understand that not having to physically put ourselves out there when we interact with others makes it easier for individuals to communicate with others but I feel like online environments are also havens for dangerous behaviors. There is nothing to keep people in check except their consciences. Physical reality forces people to come to terms with limitations. I dunno. I understand its important to explore different facets of our identities but many people abuse this ability.

May. 1st, 2005 @ 07:15 pm
Ok, so Bill did have a point last Tuesday during our small group discussion. There are benefits to commodification. Easy accessibility is also a tremendous advantage of the Internet. While images may lose "meaning" once they are online, we are still able to access an array of information via online resources. Furthermore, we are capable of becoming exposed to things we probably would have never been exposed to had they not become accessible via online means.I also undertand that commodification is what keeps businesses and corporatios afloat. While I feel commodification is essential, I feel we need to somehow weigh its costs and benefits. While on the one hand I am able to appreciate the fact that we can access so many different sources of information at the touch of a button, I cannot help but think about the images and icons that I come across while surfing the internet or going about my daily online activities. Sometimes we dont even think twice about the images we see online. We sort of take them for granted. This is what bothers me. I feel like meaning is important. I feel like I owe someone or something understanding. Meaning overrides convenience and acessibility. I keep drawing this conclusion. I mean, the fact that people have created websites to reconstruct conceptions of race and idenitity corroborates the fact that meaning has been lost somewhere. How can we create race? How can we buy pieces of bodies put them together and attach some sort of racial categorization to them without acknowledging the many races that each body part represents? Meaning is important! I cannot stress this enough. Commodification blurs meaning. I mean thats it--It either blurs meaning or gets rid of it altogether.

May. 1st, 2005 @ 03:47 pm
Just the other day in my visual ethnography class we were discussing how Che Guevara's image has become commodified to the extent that the significance of his revolution has sort of dissipated. Perhaps dissipate is too strong of a word but the signifance of Guevara's revolution and sacrifice is no longer as apparent. It's really a shame. Guevara represented so much to Cubans and people all over Latin America. When individuals use his image nowadays, many are unaware of the history of Guevara's revolution. It irks me when I see people donning Geuvara's face on shirts, hats, skateboard sneakers, pens, wallets, etc. Would they still rock his image if they were aware of his influence and legacy? Ok, anyway, what I am trying to say is that commodification has the tendency to prostitute an image, item or person without providing individuals with the context from which this image was created. I do not think commodification is the sole function of the internet. However, easy accessibility facilitates commodification. Whether commodification was an initial intent or not, the scope and influence of the inernet places all images at risk of losing the contextual meaning that contributed to the creation of the image. Perhaps I should think about this a bit more...

How To Deconstruct Almost Anything Apr. 28th, 2005 @ 12:01 am
Regardless of its validity, you'll definitely be entertained:

Other entries
» Discussion Questions and iPod Woes
Hey people.

So, somehow, in between LPAC and Kohlberg, the LCD screen of my iPod broke!! It's absolutely ridiculous. It cost me about $240.00 to buy the thing, and the cost to REPAIR the screen costs just as much. It's absolutely ridiculous. I'm looking for places to repair it, but it looks like it'll cost me about $160.00 or so to repair the screen. What do you think I should do? At this point, I'm kinda tired of all the expensive options . . . repairing it would be a waste . . . stupid capitalism. Anyway, I'm leaning on using the iPod until it copes out. Such crap.

Anyway, as for our discussion questions today, I'm been thinking about the Grokster case, downloading music, and such, and I'm would like to know if you all really think it's possible for the movie and music companies to stop the amazing amount of illegal downloading across the globe. Or, do you think they could come up with some type of alternative, that is cost effective, that would give people the option to legally downloading current movies and music? Also, I want to know what you think about copyrights, and whether the movie studios will just give in and allow people to copy DVDs in the way that people copy VHS tapes. Also, lastly, if the Betamax case is turned over, do you think that the it will not only stifle imaginative and innovative ways of thinking regarding software/hardware, but, what will happen to those companies who very existence is dependent on the legality of the Betamax case? Just a few questions to think about.

The only other thing that I thought abouty that we really didn't cover in depth was the issue of software patents in the European Union, and how that might seriously affect a lot of open source software that is being developed, such as the VideoLAN player (www.videolan.org) or Linux distrubutions such as Knoppix (www.knoppix.org)

That's my thoughts for discussion.
» the future of cinema
Here are my questions for tomorrow's class:

Scott Bukatman writes that virtual reality fulfills the drive toward Bazin's 'myth of total cinema,' while Lev Manovich writes of the advent of the (postmodern) 'macrocinema' as the harbinger of new cinema. If digital cinema is indeed moving toward Bukatman's and/or Manovich's conceptualization(s) of cinema, what will come after? If the desire for 'total cinema' is reached, which of our cinematic desires will be left unfulfilled, if any?

Perhaps these questions lead me to another consideration: what desires does cinema fulfill in the first place? What are the constraints of cinema? Virtual reality functions under the assumption that all our sensory information can be supplanted with artifice, that it is capable for the subject to function in a completely virtual world. If we reach that point, what is next? Virtual reality can only asymptotically approach true reality, so perhaps the future of cinema will eventually attempt to approach that reality, but never meet it.

If that is true, the future of cinema seems rather depressing.
» Orthonormal vectors
linear algebra is really hard. In any rate, I have spent a lot of time on the internet lately. I used the internet for numerous things related to the new game me darsh and penix have been playing. Its a good time. I was psyched today when one of the sites done in class was hungarian, thats cool. Ive spent a lot of time on ebaumsworld and I think it is a good example of how new media has developed. Back in the day all it had were these dinky games, but the newest ones that have come out have really been cool. It is apparent that complicated programming was involved, not just simple loops, although those still play an important role in even the simplest of programming. I am psyched for next thursday, I hope the rest of you are prepared to learn beer die, possibly one of the best afternoon drinking games ever created.
» film quality and the Internet
So during our discussion about oligopolies a few weeks ago, we more or less came to the conclusion that the quality of major motion pictures will decrease as oligopolies gain strength. Moreover, the number of independent film that will be produced will decline. In light of that, I wonder whether the sector of independent films will shift to the Internet. Perhaps as the quality of major motion pictures declines and fewer independent films are distributed, the Internet will become a haven for the next Scorseses and Tarantinos.

But how will directors subsist on making Internet films? If film is moving to an online format, will it become less of a commodity and more of an art form? What does this mean for the movie theater? In any event, if legions of people continue to flock to subpar, mega-budget films, perhaps the film industry will survive as an ersatz simulacrum of what it is today.
» TV Online
After the discussion of Red vs. Blue I began searching for other online media that continue as running series online. What I found was a plethora of online programming that was provided both free of charge and also for a monthly rate. For example Real offers a premium passs which enables you to see clips of sporting events TV shows online and many other options like music videos. Then I thought back to the new revolution of plama and HD TVs. In actuality they have been around for awhile in the form of computer monitors so why not create your online HD programming and sell it to internet users. I don't have the money to buy a TV at the exorbitant price but I do have a LCD monitor that came with my computer that is probably equivalent. Also I found annother form of new media related to TV programming and that is interactive TV shows. I love the Game Show network because it allows you to play along with the show by opening up an applet and competing against online competition. Who knows maybe someday your virtual avatar will actually be competing for a prize on the actual show.
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