Intro to New Media Studies, Spring 2009

Final Thoughts?

May 8, 2009 · No Comments

Gelernter, in his work, The Second Coming: A Manifesto, outlines 58 theses about the features of the new wave of technology. Two of these were especially resonant with Bush’s essay, As We May Think
36. File cabinets and human minds are information-storage systems. We could model computerized information-storage on the mind instead of the file cabinet if we wanted to.
37. Elements stored in a mind do not have names and are not organized into folders; are retrieved not by name or folder but by contents. (Hear a voice, think of a face: you’ve retrieved a memory that contains the voice as one component.) You can see everything in your memory from the standpoint of past, present and future. Using a file cabinet, you classify information when you put it in; minds classify information when it is taken out. (Yesterday afternoon at four you stood with Natasha on Fifth Avenue in the rain — as you might recall when you are thinking about “Fifth Avenue,” “rain,” “Natasha” or many other things. But you attached no such labels to the memory when you acquired it. The classification happened retrospectively.)
I feel that the two theses are intertwined and that they serve to clarify and define each other. In 36, Gelernter outlines that the computer needs to be organized in the same way as we think. In 37, he clarifies how we think, and how a computer could mimic that same organization format. Bush, though writing in an earlier era, mimics many of the same ideas as these two theses present.
Bush originally wrote his essay as an address to scientists post-World War II about new applications of science and technology to better the world rather than build weapons. He says, “Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now totally inadequate for their purpose” (37). He says that information is lost because people who can understand it are unable to access it. For example, Mendel’s concept of genetics was not widely published, and hence those who could understand and apply that theory never had access to it (37). “Truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential” (37) Bush says. These ideas are also present in Gelernter’s theses. If we cannot understand computers because they are organized improperly, not in the way we think, then consequently the information is lost to us. It is never able to reach our minds in a way that we can understand. In essence, the material never gets published. But Bush connects with Gelernter overtly when he says, “A record if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored and above all it must be consulted” (38). If one were to replace the word ‘record’ with ‘file’ it becomes clear how synchronized the two writings are. Both Bush and Gelernter seek to augment the mind by creating a computer that works as the mind does. Bush continues,
When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can only be found in one place…[t]he human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts. (44)
The ideas of these two authors are so patently similar. Both seek to recreate the way we approach technology, by creating technology that thinks as we do. Too much of modern day technology is organized like a library. There is such a great emphasis on taxonomy, as if that it the way the human mind actually works. We would like to think that there are simple, labeled and identified files within our brain that we can pull up at will, but in reality the mind is not organized that way, and our attempts to classify items in that manner is not conducive to the way we think. Taxonomies are fine for classifying the animal kingdom, but it is not a practical example of the way the human mind works. Science is still stuck in the Enlightenment era’s obsession with logic and organization. The era’s obsession with the physical world led the idea that taxonomy was the best way to organize and sort material.
However, the reason that Romanticism appeared in the first place is because after a while, logical reasoning grates on the human mind and suppresses creativity. Logical reasoning is counterintuitive because it does not follow the model of the human mind. It attempts to classify and file items, but the human mind is like a spider web, with various threads connecting to different areas and to each other. (Ironically, it was Diderot, an Enlightenment philosopher, and creator of the Encyclopedia, who outlined the idea of the human mind as a spider web in his work D’Alembert’s Dream.) To attempt to create computers that follow such an outdated system as a taxonomy is to create, in essence, a computer that is already outdated before it is even finished. The new wave of technology is the next Romanticism, an era where computers are not based on logic, but emotion. Where pulling up a file is not a matter of naming, classification and taxonomy, but a symbiosis of past present and future memories and associations. The way we actually think.

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized

Screencast #1

April 30, 2009 · No Comments

As part of my final project, I created 3 screencasts about Delicious and how tagging can be used as a learning tool.

#1

2009-04-29_1931

#2

2009-04-29_1947

#3

2009-04-29_1958

→ No CommentsCategories: Education · Technology · baylor_nms_s09

My final project: Music and Identity

April 30, 2009 · No Comments

The site I created: http://switchfootandidentity.wetpaint.com/

                For my project, I created a wetpaint (wetpaint.com) site on music and identity—concentrating on the band Switchfoot. A brief history of Switchfoot (This was actually written in a previous blog of mine): They are a band originally with a Christian foundation and now an American alternative rock band. Started in 1996 as Chin Up, Jon Foreman, his brother Tim, and Chad Butler were the founders of the current band. Then the band was signed into Re:think records. Because Re:think was originally a Christian giant called Sparrow records, Switchfoot’s music, at the beginning of its career as a band, was labeled Contemporary Christian music. The Legend of Chin, New Way to Be Human, and Learning to Breathe were albums created under Re:think. The band’s success launched it into major record labels, Columbia Records/SonyBMG and Lowercase Labels. The album, The Beautiful Letdown, sold more than 2.6 million copies, putting the band in mainstream competition. The group then went through a drastic change from a “Christian band” to a seemingly secular band with Christian values. They refused to do interviews with Christian organizations and declined offers to be in the CCM magazine. Jon Foreman, the lead vocalist, said that because their original intentions were to reach as many ears as possible, this needed to be done. However, now that they have a huge group of faithful fans, they are no longer reserved about their Christian faith.

                Before I dive into the written component of my project, I’ll tell you how I came upon this project. My original plans for this project were too broad and unrealistic. I desired to create an interactive website open to the public for religious discussion. Way too idealistic. After some questions and prodding from Dr. Campbell, my project idea was honed down drastically. Dr. Campbell realized I was interested in music after my blog posting on Gamelan music http://courseblogs.gardnercampbell.net/sahngeun/2009/03/23/gamelan-music/

Our discussion then drew attention to Christian music with questions like, what is Christian music? What bands are “Christian”? Of course, Switchfoot entered my mind. And bingo. My project idea gave birth.

               I enjoyed working with wetpaint to create a website. I found that I got the hang of it quicker than I thought I would. It reminded me of sites like xanga.com where you don’t have to mess with complicated html stuff. It’s very easy to use! I was even more intrigued to find out how wetpaint actually started http://www.wetpaint.com/page/about/ This all started when one of their friends had cancer. The diagnosed friend went online to find out more about his cancer but could not find what he really wanted—the experiences and input of those with the same illness. And the idea for wetpaint gave birth! They created wetpaint for social publishing—to provide something where you can create “websites that mix all the best features of wikis, blogs, forums and social networks into a rich, user-generated community based around the whatever-it-is that rocks your socks”.

                I chose the layout for this project based on what I thought best represented Switchfoot. Something modern and dark, “real” colors. For aesthetics, I also added a widget “New Gallery Photos”. The main page has the summary of who Switchfoot is and what I intended to do with the website. Below this summary, I created four different links to pages for interviews, music videos, lyrics, and outside readings.

                For the interviews, music videos, and lyrics, the format for the pages are similar. On the left side, I would have resources—youtube videos and lyrics. And on the right side, I would leave my commentary and analysis on the material.

                For the interview page, I stopped commentary after the second video because Tim Foreman explained the identity of their band Switchfoot in 45 seconds. All the other videos were derivations of the same material. From this material, I found that a lot of what Switchfoot members had to say reflected their Christian beliefs and had consistent Christ-like values like humility, desire for ultimate truth, and a desire to reach as many people as possible—not just people within the Christian community. One reason they are not strictly labeled “Christian” is because they do not want to be confined to a box. Tim says, “The moment you put any sort of label on your music, it could limit the scope of who you are as an artist”.

                In the music video portion, I ran into a problem. All of Switchfoot’s music videos cannot be embedded. Dr. Campbell mentioned that this might have something to do with intellectual property rights. But I went on despite this stumbling block and added my commentary to each of the three videos. For all the music videos I’ve encountered from Switchfoot, I was able to derive both a Christian and secular theme. I concluded that this was possible because it was one of Switchfoot’s goals—to be able to relate to a vast audience.

                I particularly enjoyed doing the lyrics page of the website. I got the lyrics from a website called songmeanings.net. I actually innocently stumbled upon this page a couple years ago when I was looking for lyrics to a song on google. I immediately memorized the url to site because I loved the idea. It not only had almost all the songs I could think of, but it also provided the opportunity to give input on the meanings of lyrics and the ability to see what others thought of the lyrics. This website started very much how wetpaint.com began. Here’s the about page http://www.songmeanings.net/about/ Someone was disturbed at the lack of information on the net for a subject. For this, it happened to be song lyrics. Users are able to not only comment but also submit their own lyrics.

Before writing my commentary on the lyrics I posted, I browsed the comments for the selected lyrics on songmeanings.net and found them very insightful. Just like the music videos, I (and fellow commenters on the lyrics) found both secular and Christian views for each song.

For the outside reading page, I just wrote small summaries of how I thought three class readings related to my project and Switchfoot. About the readings…was it just me, or were they dense and hard to read? I honestly had to plow through some of the class readings and read sections over to understand. I think it mostly had to do with technical vocabulary and a lot of things that we had to read were on subject matters that I was unfamiliar with. But class discussions helped me understand the big picture of the readings.

Anyway, that is my project in a nutshell. Again, here is the link http://switchfootandidentity.wetpaint.com/

Self evaluation:

Like most of my fellow classmates, I did not know what to expect of this class. I saw “youtube” in the class name and immediately was interested. I thought it would be more of a hands on class though. The readings were tough for me.

I started off on the wrong foot. I actually got in trouble for missing too many classes (But I did get better!) And I also was slow to catch on to other assignments like blogging, wiki participation, and delicious. Blogging was not new to me but wiki and delicious were. After some prompting, I believe I did improve on everything. I gave extra effort for the class.

I learned a lot from the class. My nature is to listen and observe, but this class required input and outward participation. It was honestly a bit hard for me in this area, but again, I did improve after some prompting. I also learned a lot about aspects of New Media—how there’s a lot more than what meets the eye in technology. I learned about great ideas from great people. I learned to appreciate the computer and web much more.

Overall, I do not regret taking this class. I feel like even my personal progression in the class was a learning experience.

 

 

 

 

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized · baylor_nms09

A Culmination of Everything I’ve Ever Learned, in Essay Form

April 29, 2009 · No Comments

At the beginning of this semester, I didn’t know what to expect from the class, having received a description from my adviser that was vague at best. What I did not expect however, was a computer and internet oriented class that would completely change not only the way I viewed new media and the internet, but the way I viewed the classroom experience. I went in thinking that blogging was a ridiculous pastime for people who were obnoxiously desperate to be heard, (while some of those may exist) but I have learned that blogging is a chance to share experiences through a medium that literally has the ability to change the world. As I looked back over my past blogs, it was easy to see the progress I’ve made over the semester. In the beginning, my blog post were just a regurgitation of whatever I had read. But by the end, I’d learned not only how to read ☺ but also how to blog. My favorite blog was the Alien Education blog. It was the first time that I thought through the reason that the reading was assigned. I had read it, and I was originally frustrated because I couldn’t think of anything to write about. But when I took the time to evaluate, not what the story was about, but rather, why it was important that I read the story, I suddenly realized the significance. Blogging has become a way for me to clarify my thoughts. Even if they aren’t clear on my blog, writing them out certainly helps clarify them in my mind. I’ve done reader response journals and the like before, but they were rarely augmented by meaningful class discussion. Furthermore, I didn’t ever read anyone else’s journal. But blogging helped me not only map out my own ideas, but also listen to the ideas of other students as I read and commented on their blogs. I plan to continue blogging when I study abroad next semester, and hopefully as I continue my education in other venues.
However, I digress. The main point of this post is to talk about delicious. When I originally thought about my project, I had planned to incorporate dictionaries. However, when Dr. Campbell had a moment of insight (what you blog about is what you think about, brilliant!!) it became clear that delicious and tagging was the avenue I should go down. Because I tag everything. In the beginning of the semester, I was hesitant to tags sites because I was unsure if they were related. But Dr. C assured me it didn’t matter. Because there’s no such thing as random. While the thought process may seem random to the outsider, it always makes sense to the person who is thinking it. However we go down the path, we know the paths we took to get there. So nothing is random, and that means that whatever I chose to tag would be relevant. So while some of my tags ended up being related to new media, for example, The Media Lab, but other things were not (i.e. Robert Frost poetry).
As I experimented with delicious, I learned new things. I experimented with some of the options delicious presented, like creating blog posts of my tags. (That one never actually worked). Every time I stumbled across something new, I tagged it. I looked at other people’s blogs, and the blogs that they had linked to. I explored tags, tag clouds, wordels. Everything that I found I explored. It added up to a lot of hours doing essentially nothing, but in truth every page I found was something new I learned. Before this class I had never heard of half the things and people I know about now. That’s part of why this class was such a learning experiment.
Delicious was the place where I got to catalog all of my randomness. It was a library, of sorts, for all of my “books”. But instead of paperbacks, my library was full of websites. And the beauty of delicious was that all of my sites were connected. I could click on the tag “education” and find sites about Siftables and stupid grammar advice. Even though the two sites were seemingly unrelated, they both concerned education. I could look up other tags related to education, or just focus on my ten most popular tags. I could subscribe to other users bookmarks, including people in my class. And I could set up RSS feeds in my blog for specific bookmarks.
Delicious was a place to experiment with everything. But the best part about delicious wasn’t bookmarking sites or making tag clouds. The best part was tagging a website. Not very monumental to the unobservant, but it is really a learning moment. For example, when I first came across the Jon Udell blog, I maybe read the first post before I decided to tag it. My first instinct was to tag it as “blog” but delicious also recommends tags: your most popular tags, and the most common tags by other users. Here is where the learning occurs. After tagging it blog, I looked at the delicious suggested tags. They included, among other things, “programming, web2.0, screencast, and technology” At the time, I didn’t realize that Udell was such a technology guru, but after looking at his suggested tags, I did some more research. I looked up web2.0 and stumbled across, among others, Tim O’Reilly. From there, I expanded even more. I looked up my other web2.0 tags, and they included everything from tinyurl.com to Tim Berners-Lee’s TedTalk and WorldCat (which is actually a real library).
The beauty of delicious isn’t the organization and the bookmarks, thought they are a central feature. The beauty of delicious is its ability to serve as a learning tool. To help the user realize that education is more than textbooks and Baby Einstein CDs. Web2.0 is more than twitter and facebook.
Overall, this class has been a major learning experience. Ironically, it was only as a senior that I started to learn about how to learn. The saddest part is that I won’t really be able to apply this knowledge to very many more classes, but I suppose we’re always learning, so there’s still a chance to apply myself. Being in this class has given me a chance to evaluate not only how I learn, but how others learn as well, and how education should be changed to allow for the best learning possible.

→ No CommentsCategories: Education · Readings · baylor_nms_s09

New Media Fantics- the struggle to get there and the experience gained along the way…

April 29, 2009 · No Comments

Well to start off, let me say that this class has not been at all what I thought it was going to be…it was focused a lot more on literature concerning new media than I anticipated. When I registered I saw that we were going to look at youtube and mmorpgs and I needed another honors course…so why not right?…so coming into it, I was expecting a lot more hands-on new media work…learning how to use youtube, flickr, social networking and the sort…but what I got was a pleasant surprise…focusing on the theory and philosophy of new media probably would not have been something that I would have found interesting before, but in the end, im glad I took the course (I guess this could relate to our metaphor of taking a path less traveled and finding unexpected things for ourselves…)

When originally thinking about my final project at the beginning of the semester, I was set on doing something with iLife and my brand spankin new MacBook Pro (spankin new at the time anyway…about a month after school started, they released the new macbooks…very frustrating to say the least)…all the commercials made it look fun and easy to use, so I wanted to try it for myself…i wanted to make a movie about something that interested as the class progressed…that didnt happen….i found that the concept of web 2.0 interested me and decided that a movie probably was not the route I wanted to take with it. Keeping my desire to work with video and wanting to emphasize the ease of posting content on the internet, I decided to create a facebook group. As the kids say it these days, epic fail…

All excited, I created the Facebook group Web 2.0/New Media- Your Thoughts…the concept was for my facebook friends (and I emphasize facebook friends) to leave video responses to various discussion topics that I proposed through video posts…and here my original intent to create a movie came back…after the mid-semester conference with dr. Campbell, I decided to make a sort of montage video of the discussions with their responses…the idea for the group was really something I would have liked to work out because I wanted to know what the general public thought of new media (or at least the theory and philosophy of new media and its effect on learning)….and I found out too- they could care less…i posted my first discussion topic and hoped for the best…turns out the best is two text responses and one facetious video response (and this is out of hundreds of friends mind you…)…and even after several pleas for contributions from my the online community, not much else happened…

So about a month and a half ago, after deleting the group, I tried starting up a wiki (i dont recall whether or not I actually made the class aware of it…) I made it through wetpaint and got everything set up…but that didnt go anywhere either…i figured that users werent very likely to leave a well established new media discussion website for my bare bones and essentially empty wiki…fail number two.

So with a month to go I started to worry about how I was going to get this project done…that is, until we had our project discussion days in class…dr. Campbell noticed that I was a visual person, posting videos and pictures to delicious, my blog, and the wiki and suggested I do something with flickr…and more specifically, with the group “Tell a Story in 5 frames”…and having nowhere else to turn, I went for it…
Flickr, I learned was an very well established online community…despite having only heard about it recently…and using flickr meant going out and taking pictures and getting to use iPhoto…so I got to use my super awesome mac (now an iMac) after all…

First to explain Flickr’s origins (as previously mentioned in my presentation to a whole 5 people…which was a load off of my shoulders…)-

Flickr is self described as “almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world” (quite a statement if you ask me, but so far, theyve backed it up)…it was founded in 2004 by the married couple Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake. Ludicorp was later absorbed by Yahoo inc…flickr was originally focused on FlickrLive, a chatroom with real-time photo exchange and later developed into an online community and additional features were added including the expansion into video.

Flickr’s goals (which have been somewhat if not completely realized) were to help people make their content available to the people who matter to them and to enable new ways of organizing photos and video. This means making it easy and appealing for people to use- they needed to make it fantic (coined by Ted Nelson in Computer Lib/Dream Machines…also, turns out my blog is the first result in google for “ted nelson fantics”)…and they have. Flickr is one of the easiest photo uploading services to use because of its extensive accessibility. I can (and have) upload photos from the internet, my iPhone (any mobile device with email would work), photo software (such as iPhoto, which I used to post my pictures used in my stories)…but we all know that posting them and having them on the internet is not enough…we have to share and engage. And we can do that through flickr.com, rss feeds, blogs, and email.

Flickr also uses its Organizr, a web app that allows users to organize their photos into sets (which are in essence, virtual albums- which helps if you take a lot of photos). Flickr also encourages users to further categorize and organize their photos through tags and relies heavily on the interaction of users within the online community through the implementation of comments, tags, annotations, and notes that can all be added by users to a photo.

I’ll save my favorite part of my experience to the very end and proceed with my actual project…I joined “Tell a story in 5 frames”…its rules were: limit of 5 photos per story; any subject, but should tell a visual story; a title is the only words that can be used. Rely on the photographs to bring the story to life. In the group, members respond by relating in their own words the story that they see, or critique the story and/or photographs and open the story up to discussion.

My first post was titled Information Consolidation, which was probably the most applicable to the literature weve read throughout the semseter (mainly the memex, and augmenting human intelect)…my intent of the story (which some understood and some didnt and had a different interpretation on which is the point of the group) was to show the flow of information both on a micro scale (opinions that are spoken then printed in newspapers, then into  books, and on the internet) and an overall scale (the history of information passing through spoken word, then into print, and finally through the computer/internet)

My second and third posts were simultaneous…a day in the Life of a college student was something I wanted to do since I decided to work with flickr…ive noticed that my own schedule has been sort of consistent with studying, interacting with people, and finding just enough time to sleep…so thats the concept behind that story (sorry nothing too profound with this one)

My third post is the one that I am most proud of- The Forgotten Side of Town…being involved with Baylor Students for Social Justice, I wanted to portray how privileged we are here on the Baylor campus and how the rest of waco is a heavily poverty stricken city…the first time I went downtown to get a picture of old, worn down buildings, I didnt expect to get pictures like the ones I did…when I took the picture of the homeless man I was also surprised how quickly I was able to find impoverished people…the picture of the 8th street bridge was a sort of “tunnel of oppression” that I wanted to connect the two polar sides of waco (I had intended the title to be “polar bridge”, but I felt that some would misinterpret it and expect snow or something…) I also made it a point to bookend the story with pictures of people (a fantic parallel- youre drawn in by people interacting with each other and left with a somber photo of a single wandering man)…what was also interesting was the way I successfully manipulated the concept of time… as scott mccloud would note, theres no way of telling how much time has passed between the photos, so I shot them all around the same time during the day…not on the same day, but at the same time to maintain consistency…

Finally (and this is what I really liked about the project)- the unexpected outcomes of my work…the comments on my stories were not all that profound or substantial but enough for me to discover a baylor alumnus that was also part of the group and had actually posted the pig and rhino story that won last month…i also tried to leave waco to get more “cultural” pictures, but found that I was more able to relate to the environment that I know…it was also easier getting pictures by just walking around with my camera, not knowing what I was looking for (also a past class discussion)…but my favorite part about working with flickr was the explore function it has- you can discover new photos and video by exploring them through a map, a calendar, a tag cloud, and my favorite- THE PANDA!…ill admit- ive become less critical of the idea that conncections can be made by happenstance and that “exploring” and following links and connections can increase learning…

*Note- more pictues would have been added, but unfortunately, the blog seems to want me to upload them one at a time, so instead, i’ve tried my best to provide all the links neccessary to see the photos and websites i mention…

→ No CommentsCategories: Englebart · Uncategorized · baylor_nms_s09 · fantics · flickr · learning · panda · research

The Mother of All Demos: An Animated Commentary

April 28, 2009 · No Comments

I decided to type this up in a word processor so I could keep track of the length, funny how it feels totally wrong to write in my ‘blogging voice’ when the page is MLA formatted. I never thought of my essays for coursework as being written in a stilted, unnatural style, but they’re certainly not how I write my blog, or emails, or posts on BricksInMotion, which tends to have more personality, and use contractions like a real person.

I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do for my final project for quite some time, though it didn’t really solidify into a clear, concise concept until we began discussing our projects in class. When I heard there was going to be a final project, I knew I would want to do something with video. I also thought the elemental, foretelling themes of Engelbart’s work would make for interesting subject matter.

Some time before this class I saw “I Met the Walrus” via a link on BricksInMotion and really liked the style of it, so when it came time to brainstorm for this project I wondered if a visual commentary of some kind of voiceover might be effective. I didn’t make the connection that I could use the audio from the Demo until later, however. From the standpoint of publishing it online, it was something I wanted to do but didn’t see much value in. My outlook on YouTube before this class was pretty skeptical; I use it a lot myself but primarily as a means of promoting my work to a larger audience, I didn’t think anything of serious, intellectual merit would be popular there unless for a reason other than this merit. For example, one of the most popular videos on my account is my short film “Unrenewable,” but most of the positive comments are about the visuals, it’s clear that a large portion of my mostly young audience (due to the use of LEGO) doesn’t understand the story. For every 10-15 comment asking about the technical process behind it, there is some kind of comment regarding the story or message behind the film, and there are a slim minority of well thought out, insightful comments. By contrast, messageboards where I’ve posted the film tend to have a more thoughtful group of people, who analyze it critically and discuss the themes (mostly stuff like capitalism and conservation) in it. I think part of this is due to the messageboard format being more conducive to real discussion, whereas on YouTube people are just looking for a bit of entertainment. Looking at the most popular videos on YouTube didn’t help my assessment of the site’s community.

I was a little surprised, then, that a video like ‘The Machine is Using Us’ had caught on, it’s certainly not pure entertainment and it’s not all that short either. It doesn’t enjoy the popularity of Fred or Charlie the Unicorn but the online video community clearly took some interest in it. I thought ‘The Machine is Using Us‘ was pretty inspiring and has an interesting concept and visual approach to it, it was certainly an influence on my own video project. I also thought Dr. Wesch’s Anthropological Introduction to YouTube was quite interesting, it did help me understand the YouTube community better, I had not thought of YouTube as much of a community website before. After all, many of the most popular videos became popular not through YouTube but by viral publishing on other websites –- the most influential being the smoke-filled back room that is 4chan, an online community of less than respectable reputation. (On a side note, Moot, the founder of 4chan, was recently voted the most influential person of 2009 in a TIME Magazine online poll. Guess they should have seen that coming. They didn’t honor the vote though, they ‘cheated’ him out of it instead.)

Avatars for an abandoned concept for a chat room sequence

Avatars for an abandoned concept for a chat room sequence

The in-class readings also helped formulate ideas for this project. Of course Engelbart’s work was important, but I tended to be more interested in the (briefly expressed) goals behind his work than the long technical explanations. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the Mother of All Demos itself would almost certainly not have any broad appeal, it’s 100 minutes of a computer scientist demonstrating highly technical processes and even though it is groundbreaking and impressive, the manner in which it’s presented is for the most part pretty dry unless you’re very interested in computer technology. I didn’t fully appreciate this until I watched the entire thing, at which point I became unsure of how I could condense it into 4-5 minutes. My solution was to try for a little bit of technical introduction to demonstrate how Engelbart’s system was similar to what we have today, but focus on the goals behind his work, something that’s important to emphasize because our use of computers has yet to reach the potential Engelbart had in mind.

Since early in the course I knew I would want my video to be based around some kind of animation; as the course progressed I realized it might be more meaningful with a modern, technological look – I wanted the video to look and sound like it was made on a computer, at least as it progresses. There is an emphasis on synthesized instruments in the music. The opening titles are modeled after the sloppy typewriter titles at the beginning of the original recording of the demonstration, followed by a Commodore 64 for the introductory question, the question that Engelbart asks very early in the demonstration and then answers for the rest of it: how much value could you derive from an augmentation system like what the HIRC was developing? Originally I had hoped to move the visualizations forward in time as the video progressed, but in the end I didn’t do this much beyond the intro and Commodore 64, going from there to a modern Windows look for the rest of the video. I didn’t want to rely purely on screencap footage, so I created animated transitions and some supplementary animated text (visually inspired by Worldle’s word clouds.) and of course the 3D at the end.

The decision to try to make the video look very computer-generated (normally the opposite of what I’m going for in my animated films!) ties into another important point of discussion in this class: it’s recursive! I wanted the whole video to be very tied to what it’s talking about, both in the visual / audio presentation and in the publication of the video to YouTube. Why?

The medium is the message. McLuhan’s words, but the idea in Engelbart’s demonstration is similar: he wants to show, rather than tell, what the HIRC has been working on. The whole demonstration uses an elaborate overlay system so that the viewers can see his computer system and him simultaneously on-camera. Having the video resemble what it is talking about isn’t just a neat gimmick it really does add another layer of meaning, or that’s the hope.

At the time of writing this post, the video has gathered 450 views and 15 comments. I joked before uploading it that my subscribers would probably be confused by it and make comments like “where are the legos,” but maybe I underestimated them. Most of the comments so far have been like the comments on Arturo’s images in that they’re short and not terribly insightful, but I am still surprised to see that these people were interested in my video and enjoyed it. I have 1,722 subscribers right now so hopefully this video will catch on a little more over the next several days, ideally I would like for it to get to an audience closer to what it was intended for. (I did submit it to Dr. Wesch’s account as a video response to ‘The Machine is Using Us,’ he had accepted two other video responses previously. Request still pending.) Then again, what Engelbart talks about in his demonstration is relevant to anybody who uses the computers on a regular basis, even if the HIRC’s goals have not been fully realized. If my video gets anybody interested in learning more about what Engelbart was talking about, then the (external, non grade-based) purpose of the video has been achieved.

The Mother of All Demos

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized

as things begin to wind down, everything seems to fall into place.

April 28, 2009 · No Comments

listening to Dr. Philip Long today was really interesting…his keynote adressed, although emphasized on undergraduate research, seemed to fit in perfectly with this semester’s class discussions. What was interesting was his scientific view on education and his opinion that using freshmen for researchers was the best way to innovate. he discussed the use of technology in education and that was nice, but what really intrigued me was his response to one of the questions after his presentation- whether or not our current education system could be retrofitted to promote true, out of the classroom learning…his response?…the entire system has to be redone and we need to start over and rebuild our education system from the bottom up…as i thought about it, my imagination took over and i began to reimagine the entire school system where research, application, and true learning took priority over grades, money, and politics…if we ever get to this point (which seems utopian at the moment) there’s no telling what we could learn…

my paper on my project is coming soon….

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized · baylor_nms_s09 · freshman · mit · philip long · research

Zero Hour

April 27, 2009 · No Comments

Left my computer with 3 and a half hours worth of rendering last night and it had some kind of error so I’m currently re-rendering that, once it’s done I’ll have just a little time to finish rendering the final cut of the video and get it compressed / uploaded.  It will be finished and ready to show by the presentation, but it’s been a hectic 48 hours or so to get to this point.

As I was working on the project I came up with ideas (the process of working on it changed my concept for the end result somewhat) and I ended up trying to draw modern parallels in technology to much of what Engelbart talks about.  Some of what he says in defining the HIRC’s goals couldn’t really be visualized so I went with some abstract, symbolic visuals in those places.  I edited the original audio a ton, sometimes just cutting out single words hear and there for clarity, other times removing pauses between words to give it a rhythm that would mesh with the music.  Hopefully the result will be something that is interesting and relevant not only to people already interested in the subject, but to anybody who uses modern technology.  That’s part of what made ‘The Machine is Using Us’ so good and I hope I can attain a similar feel in my video.

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized · baylor_nms_s09

Getting there…

April 26, 2009 · No Comments

All the formatting for the Identity and Music page is done. Now, I need to focus on the real, grimy stuff–commentary and analysis on interviews, music videos, and lyrics. I also added the “Outside Readings’ link and need to add commentary and analysis on that as well.

I should have everything done in time. Most commentary and analysis is already processed in my head; I need to organize and elaborate now in writing.

The paper should also be the same. Because the site I will have finished creating will be the object of my paper, I should not have too much trouble writing about it.

On a side note, I spent a little over half an hour trying to add music playlists to the site but with no avail. The widgets either did not work or did not have the songs I was looking for by Switchfoot.

You can check out the progress if you like:

http://switchfootandidentity.wetpaint.com/#mywetpaint

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized · baylor_nms09

Knowing is half the battle

April 25, 2009 · No Comments

I think the project is coming together now, I have about a minute of footage finished.  I also have the whole 4:30 worth of audio cut together along with original music I’ve composed to accomodate the speech.  Hopefully it’ll blend with the visuals, there remains a lot of work to be done but at least I’ll have finished audio to follow as a guide now…

→ No CommentsCategories: Uncategorized · baylor_nms_s09