So, I changed my idea around quite a bit. Rather than starting with the question, “How has new media changed us?”, I take two quotes by Marshall McLuhan and seek to synthesize the ideas into one concept and represent it through this video.

Using the quotes that bookend the video as direction, I tried to steer my piece towards a unity between the two ideas. To be literate, our brains seem to have to act schizophrenically. We must break texts down into their singular elements in order to interpret them. Yet, we must also be able to dissociate each element’s individual “meaning” from the meaning of the whole; yet even the whole must be treated as necessarily incomplete. Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” provides a good example of this idea of incompleteness: Krapp’s story is presented as incoherent, littered with fragmentary voices and images. We cannot tell which voice is the most important, and it eventually becomes a futile endeavor to try to construct a coherent understanding of the text. We must accept the schizophrenic quality of literacy, brought about by the schizophrenic nature of text.

But we still want to draw those connections, to make sense of the whole, and to find a unified interpretation to a text. We want to do what we cannot do, by necessity. The logical connections between one image and the next may not exist, but we will fight to create one. Thus the second quote explains a second part of our literature nature: we use artistic means to create connections where, arguably, none exist. The men covered in paint and the bloody man’s body become significantly connected due to the work’s aesthetic pairing of the two images; the cigarette glows red hot as the music swells; the two shots of the Korean detective, separated by the shot of the woman in red, create a sense of unity when viewed together; the voices in the song and the people singing on the traincar seem to be one and the same, for a moment. Our mind seems to be a powerful tool for drawing these logically unwarranted, but aesthetically satisfying, connections.

I would argue that new media studies treats these ideas as fundamental. As an example, consider these images in the video: the first gunfight and the second are opposed in their brutality and their numbers; one man fighting many, and the many annihilating the one. The mind is quick to equate the two, just as it is quick to associate the shot of the men drenched in paint with the preceding shot of the blood-covered body. The connection is disconnected from each individual meaning, totally entrenched within the medium’s juxtaposition of the two images; the medium becomes the message. As a backlash, as a resistance against becoming totally schizophrenic, we move from the realm of logical association to aesthetic association; we use the methods of art to get at interpreting the seemingly incomprehensible texts.

What does this mean for the writer of new media, or more specifically, the writer of electronic media versus print? I would argue that it means we must appreciate how the mind works as a tool of association and dissociation if we are going to write effectively. Especially in an online context, where mediums shift as rapidly as ideas, the writer must be aware of how their text is presented. Each blog post, for example, contributes to the whole blog; but, as an audience, we make a conscious effort to disconnect our understanding of the single post from the rest of the blog. As a blogger, it thus becomes necessary to treat each blog post as the primary interpretive mode of the text rather than the blog as a whole. Our interpretive scheme, in this instance, tends towards schizophrenic, dissociative actions that are reinforced by the aesthetic design of the blog. On the other hand, a website may act as a single text; each webpage, then, must be designed artistically to accommodate the entirety of the work, or to prompt an association with the whole of the work. The interpretive scheme here fights against schizophrenia, towards unity. In either instance, artistic design plays a large role in matching the text to its audience by prompting certain interpretive actions. The blog posts, separated by their titles, prompt the reader to dissociate one from the other, or treat them as only loosely connected at best. A webpage design that remains consistent throughout a website, on the other hand, prompts the reader to connect each webpage together and interpret the website as a whole (even if it is never truly possible to do so).

Thus the point of my video is to say exactly what McLuhan said: the medium is the message. The significance of this statement to our class’ overall goal is immense; if we are to learn how to write for new media, we have to understand the interpretive possibilities, and inevitabilities, of new media. To understand the interpretive choices available to the audience, we must understand what interpretive choice(s) the medium allows for, and what each different artistic choice provides the reader as interpretive tools or clues. Each text must be deciphered in a particular way, according to its medium.

I began this project with my focus being, “How has new media changed us?” I abandoned this focus halfway through the project, but I believe this question is still addressed in the project. I don’t think new media has changed us at all; there are those who argue that “Google is making us stupid” because they believe we are being catered to like petulant children. All this great technological progress is actually dumbing us down by reducing our ability to draw deep insight from dense material. I disagree with this view, and argue that, instead, the period of new media requires more of us intellectually than any period before. Both artist and audience require a new type of literacy, one that treats its schizophrenic quality as more beneficial, since our texts are becoming more multi-voiced and fragmentary while simultaneously becoming more pervasive in our culture. We are constantly invited to interpret text throughout our lives: coffee cups, iPhone apps, t-shirt designs, etc. etc. etc. We live in a world of texts like never before; the Google age is not making us stupid, it’s actually pushing us more than it ever has to find meaningful interpretations of the texts of our lives. As a result, our literacy comes to value immediacy, the ability to quick connect and disconnect images from one another, and the ability to understand what interpretive mode we are supposed to be in when interpreting each individual text. This, of course, places a burden upon the artist to adapt his work towards this new understanding of literacy; the writer for new media must know the interpretive qualities of his text more acutely than ever before. Unlike a book, which presents a pretty obvious interpretive scheme, electronic media can easily mislead the audience away from the point of the work if the artist is not careful. Plenty of the sites we looked at suffered from this error, at least to me. I think of this as an example of a website that is poorly suited to the (assumed) interpretive scheme of the work:

To conclude, consider this page: More than any other site we looked at, I found this one the most useful in the discussion of how to write for new media. This is an electronic media writer’s path to victory; by understanding the particular facets of interpretation that the audience uses in an electronic setting, the electronic media writer can successfully form their work specifically for electronic media publishing. All of the suggestions on this website help to make a webtext more accessible to its audience by putting the text into a more understandable interpretive mode. That is what writing for new media is all about: making intelligent design choices that promote the audience to read the work more effectively. Essentially, writing that promotes literacy rather than hinders it. As we have seen, that requires an appreciation for the schizophrenic nature of literacy, as well as an appreciation for the power of artistic design to inform our interpretation of a work.

With regards to source material:

Quotes by McLuhan are taken from:

McLuhan, Marshall. The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man. New York: Vanguard Press, 1951. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962. Print.

McLuhan, Marshall and Fiore, Q. The Medium is the Message. New York: Random House, 1967. Print.

Audio: pg.lost – “The Day Shift”

Ghost in the Shell

The Story of Film: An Odyssey

Video: The Story of Film: An Odyssey


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Memories of Murder

The Headless Woman

Songs from the Second Floor

Requiem for a Dream

Concept in 60 Update

So, I’ve been working out how to further my concept in 60. The basic idea of this project is to present a video about my perspective on new media, in 60 seconds.

So what is my perspective?

New media does a lot of things. It brings together old media forms and shows them in new ways; the blending of one or more older forms of media can bring about new understandings, not just from the newly created media, but it can also create novel understandings of older media. Hence the gunfight scenes contrasted together alongside ‘Paper Planes’.

New media also connects us. A major factor, or attribute, of new media is its ability to bring together audience and author in new, previously unimaginable ways. I need to explore this attribute in my video; I’m considering a collage of video clips from: (a) an original video, and (b) its accompanying parodies, in order to show how new media enables the community to respond to the creation quickly and purposefully.

I intend to speed up my video’s segments, make them shorter and more rapid-paced to express the ephemerality of new media. I am considering intentionally distorting and speeding up/slowing down my audio tracks as well.

I don’t have a new draft ready yet. Time, school assignments, and some troubling personal issues have placed my energies elsewhere. By the end of this week, however, I will have a new draft ready in full, and by next week I will have my finished product done, hopefully early in the week so I can submit it for a final review before we present to the class.

Rough Cut of my project

My central concept in this project is: What Has New Media Changed?

Has it changed us, or are we still the same people we always have been? 

As a result of this concept, I’ve started with a rough idea that’s pretty simplistic: show how media has grown, but the ideas and the people have not. Hence the shootout scenes, one from a Western and one from an Anime.

With that said, here’s the rough first ~27 seconds of the project. I’ll be editing the transitions along the way.

Footage and sounds used come from: Akira, Ghost in the Shell, The Good the Bad and The Ugly, and M.I.A.’s Paper Planes”

And so I don’t seem like a psychopath, I don’t plan to have a full video of people shooting each other.

A Short Response Post I Should’ve Done Yesterday

So I like this post because I think it hits on the point that, for many, Skype is a necessary evil that will eventually get meted out amongst better alternatives.

You say it can be used for gaming, but I know, like any good gamer, that Teamspeak/Ventrilo/Mumble is the way to go there. Because they’re geared towards that type of interaction.

The advertising component is, of course, a money grab; Skype began with free-to-use, now they have to supplement their free-use with some sort of revenue. It’s ok, but perhaps poorly implemented.

At the end you say “they won’t find [perfection] if they continue to ignore what needs to be fixed,” to which I agree. But I think Skype’s done, and it’s time for a new champion of the 1:1 audio/video online program. The essence of innovation is figuring out how to do it better, and someone will eventually, and Skype will die a horrible death (which, honestly, I think it’s already doing).

So yeah, cool post, I agree with you.

Peering into the Future

Of the two readings for today, this was the more interesting one because it wasn’t all about what to call new media/digital media/multimedia/chexmix/multimodality/jackinthebox. It was also more interesting because it posed large questions.

Where is all this media taking us? Are we in a position to control it, or are we merely going to watch as the world changes around us? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

The author here points out just a few things to consider: the growth of a global space for media distribution and consumption, especially in places like Asia, Africa, and Latin America; the current progress of Internet capabilities and the near future’s increasingly diminishing language barriers; the growth of mobile devices as a standard medium, etc. All of these sort of coalesce into a broader picture, but it’s not clear what that picture is. Are we moving into a world that’s going to be more or less diverse? We’re going to be more connected, but does that translate into a more global focus? On a political level, once these technologies start working into all levels of society, and all geographic locations, will there be a paradigm shift with regards to how national sovereignty is viewed?

I would argue that this last questions has great bearing on the current situation regarding the US’s surveillance of foreign countries. In fact, it might be the most important of these questions for our time. Is the growth of new media technologies going to be taken as a good thing or a bad thing, especially when we consider that so much of what enables us to be the digital/social media world is also what enables our total loss of privacy to these types of information-gathering organizations? 

We’re in a sort of Wild West scenario (or we were) with regards to the Internet. Fifteen years ago our perception of the internet was as a wild, dark, creepy place; my father would continually harp that you can’t trust anyone on the internet.

Now we’ll give our SSN out to whoever wants it; we’ll tell Facebook everything they want to know. We’ll let Google into our secret lives, and they’ll use that information to give better advertisements for products we really want. 

Here’s an article that made a particular story famous about a year and a half ago:

Target figured out a teenage girl was pregnant. How? They studied statistics, matched up the girl’s buying patterns to those of expectant mothers, and bam, they knew she was pregnant and started sending her pregnancy related coupons and deals. 

Here’s a great quote from a Target employee regarding their totally legal, somewhat creepy advertising practices: “But even if you’re following the law, you can do things where people get queasy.” See, Target didn’t do anything wrong; the girl bought a lot of stuff from there, they tracked her purchases, and they suggested other items. Nothing wrong with that; it’s downright genius.

The problem, of course, is that Target’s a company using data collected from within the company; that is, Target’s gathering data from its own sales. With regards to the Internet, there’s not just a few companies trying to see what to sell you; there’s multiple large information collection schemes at work, each attempting to construct an image of your life and assess that image for…some reason that’s not entirely clear. The transparency of Target’s scheme is such that, even if it is voyeuristic in many ways, they can explain their reasoning and not look like creeps. These surveillance operations being enacted by multiple governments across the world don’t do that. They admit to their actions, but can’t justify them. There might not be a way to justify them.

Of course, that’s peripheral. Whether or not they can justify creeping on you is irrelevant; it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission. We’d never let them in if they simply asked us to, right?




We willingly given up our information because we’re caught in a dilemma: we don’t want governments and clandestine organizations snooping through our personal lives, but we do want the rest of the world to do that! And the problem becomes one of permeability: how do I structure my social media/digitally-connected life so that only those that I want to see me can see me and interact with me? The truth is that you can’t: it’s all part of the package. The more our world becomes socially connected through Internet media, the more we open ourselves up for data collection and analysis.

This scares me, because I believe it will negative consequences with regards to national relations. The US is already being lambasted by European nations for illegal spying; China’s internal (and external) surveillance schemes are well-known. But these are just the things that we know about; the idea that other governments besides these are not participating in the same sorts of activities is foolish at best. The entire world is in the process of figuring out how best to monitor themselves.

Which, I think, will lead to a fragmentation of the social media/Internet media world. The more we work on connecting ourselves, the more we find that we’re being watched and scrutinized; the more we’re aware of this monitoring, the more we want to stop it; the more we want to remain private, the more we remove ourselves from social media/the more we seek alternative, less connective forms of social media. The more we’re watched, the less we do.

This is a fear of mine because I want a world that’s interconnected, but not one that’s under the eye of Big Brother (I knew I’d get a 1984 reference in here somewhere). But I can’t help looking at what’s happening in our world, what this author is perceiving as they peer into the future of media, and seeing our privacy being put up for sale to those that can pay the most for it. They can track our movements, they can track our interactions, they can track our monetary habits, our employment habits, our political involvement and our social lives very easily; we’re moving to the point where they can even keep track of our physical and mental health as well.

My father likes to play devil’s advocate when I say these things; his great adage is, “If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear,” but I don’t believe that, and I doubt he does either. Privacy is about more than covering up illicit actions, though even that is a justifiable need for privacy; laws are imperfect and transient, and the idea that privacy shouldn’t be desired because it might lead to the circumvention of some laws is rather authoritarian; our forefathers would not approve.

Beyond that, the matter of privacy with regards to this debate about media is much more contentious. Saying “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” assumes that: 1. Things you want to hide are by necessity illegal, not simply shameful or embarrassing; 2. The people who are watching you are able to correctly interpret your actions as not illegal (which many, many, many, many lawyers will inform you is simply not a realistic possibility); 3. Your actions are solely evaluated with regards to their legality.

Privacy is about being able to live without fear of being scrutinized. We’re like children in that we don’t want to do what the grown-ups tell us to do, and especially not when they stand there and watch us, expecting us to do it. But then, our social media lives are so open and informative, we basically are like kids being watched by the grown-ups. They gave us a Facebook  and a Twitter to write about ourselves and keep track of who we hang out with; they gave us a mobile phone to track where we are and makes sure we’re never out of reach. And we accepted these gifts because we didn’t truly appreciate how we were opening our lives to them. I think there will be a backlash with regards to this kind of behavior, and I don’t know how large or small that backlash will be, but the focus on privacy will ramp up, that’s a certainty. And perhaps a new form of media will emerge that focuses more heavily on privacy, and another paradigm shift will occur within our Internet media world.

And a Not Late Response Post


I pretty much agree with you here, and I think YouTube’s gesture is indeed very nice.

I don’t know if taking steps to ensure your content is approachable by all, etc. is necessarily going to strengthen multimedia. I view our senses and capacities as opportunities, each one giving you the chance to further express something. So, you know, using one media form over another is an important stylistic choice; not making use of a form of media in order to make a piece more accessible might weaken the true strength of the piece.

In my mind, a media project should have a singular goal to accomplish: presentation. I think factoring in every disability/accessibility could lead to a fragmentation of the work into its various mediums in an attempt to present the work to as many people as possible; by the time it’s presented, it’s too far removed from the original conception to be considered a genuine representation of someone’s work.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t aim for accessibility; YouTube’s pretty cool for what they’re attempting to do, and if a show on Netflix doesn’t have captions I actually will not watch it. Who can’t put up captions? Assholes. But as artists I think the purpose of a work is full self-expression first; full accessibility second

Late reaction post

So we had these accessibility/disability readings.,,,

Well, I have really nothing inspiring to write about these things.

I think, on the one hand, that disabled people should have the same access to information that any other person does. This leads me to say how abysmal it is that regular people have such limited access to a lot of information; how much worse for the disabled, who often have an even more limited scope of information to access. But, uh, I don’t think there’s anything particularly debatable about this stance. Disabled peoples should have the same ability to access information as any other person.

But, I think that there might be a distinction to be made between informative content and artistic content. By necessity, some forms of art are not accessible to certain peoples; visual art to the blind, music to the deaf. I think that those using new media for artistic expression, a medium where accessibility has become a major, major discussion, might be exempt from these concerns about accessibility. After all, we don’t tell the musician to make sure he has a non-audible version of his work for the deaf. That’d be mental. With that said, I will conclude by saying that I don’t think those groups that implore new media users to make their content accessible to all should stick to their guns in every instance. Obviously, if someone’s work is a visual representation of a concept, then a visually impaired audience could simply not experience the artistic value of the work, and no amount of accessibility-ing will change that. That’s not to say that artists shouldn’t strive for accessibility, but I do say it to give them some leeway.

Like I said, I didn’t really have a super strong point to make this week. These articles were really informative, but I can’t find myself too absorbed into the discussion. I think new media’s ability to assist the disabled in promoting a more functional, more connected lifestyle is commendable, but I can’t offer significant insight into how effective or ineffective it is in doing so, nor can I offer advice on how to make it better. I also think our ability to make information more accessible to more people is, in fact, one of the greatest aspects of new media. So I’ll leave it at that.