Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rescuing the Remix

RiP: A Remix manifesto offers a profoundly philosophical thesis on the creative process and its role in societal advancement. Surely culture builds on the past; it takes what is and constantly seeks to improve or enhance it. That’s progress. While technology constantly changes, the values that drive innovation seldom do the same. Too often that value is profit, and it seems a crime that record companies, which have utilized technology to make the music business so lucrative for themselves, now seek to limit the way the common man (or woman) may utilize that same technology.

The Muddy Waters example seemed to effectively demonstrate the way art builds on itself; whether it be a single song note, a word or just the way someone moves their brush, inspiration takes what it knows to create something new and different. Similarly, the film noted how nearly much, if not all, of Disney’s early work was simply an animated and modernized adaptation of some other story, without which Disney could not have enjoyed his monumental success. There is clear irony in the way the Disney Corporation fights so vigorously to keep others from using its characters, as Disney devours other franchises like Marvel and Star Wars. It is only that irony which will continue to compound on itself.

Lawrence Lessig’s Creative Common’s movement seems to be a step that should be taken to restore the freedom to be inspired and to channel that inspiration, for at the heart of remixing is inspiration, and if the freedom to channel inspiration is infringed upon, then record companies would have far fewer artists to leech from in the first place. While the illegal distribution of music is unfavorable to the profit-driven corporations that associate with artists, one can’t help but wonder why publishing companies and those who represent them are so adamantly against the free exposure that comes with a shared remix. Perhaps these corporations are embroiled in a fight to remain relevant in a ring where anyone can use modern technology to present themselves and their music to the world from the comfort of their own home. But in this fight it’s only a matter of time before record companies go the way of the vinyl record, and I sincerely doubt they’ll ever resurface as vintage collectibles.

by Nina J. Easton of the LA Times    
Talk about irony

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

And We're Off...

A link to the site where I'll be working on my 4-week independent study project "Understanding High Functioning Autistic Teens" In the end I hope this will be video compilation of what my son's life is like, the pros and cons of his diagnosis, and facts about HFA teens.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Welcome To My Life - as an autistic teenager

I got it.... a digital media presentation of what it's like to be a high-functioning autistic teenager, like my amazing, wonderful, delightful, son!



Creativity, Inspiration & Procrastination

Great ideas do typically just pop into my head and once I have an idea, I tend to follow a similar process as James Webb Young's principals for developing an idea (A Technique for Producing Ideas).  However my process happens pretty quick as I am like a dog with a bone and/or because I am a horrible procrastinator.  For whatever reason, once I have the idea or the "it" I work at 100mph doing my research, thinking, discussing, and working on "it" until it develops into what I want/need (or it will fizzles out and dies).  That being said, it's the initial idea that I often struggle with and the longer it takes me to figure that out, the more stressed I get, the less creative I get and typically just want to give up.  (Thus the reason I'm getting my BFA at 40 and not 24 because giving up used involve dropping a class and vowing to take it the next semester and year - procrastinating - until it's too late).

Back to Young... I like the idea of Young's principals, but he doesn't address how to get that original thought.  The first step in his process is investigation, but investigation of what?  In advertising, his field of expertise, the "it" was given to him by a client.  Toothpaste, coat, restaurant, book, jewelry, etc. were his "it" and once he had that he could apply his principals for developing a good idea or pitch or commercial or print ad, or whatever it was he needed to do with the "it".  However, what would he have done if the "it" wasn't given to him.  If he were simply instructed to, "create a great advertisement" and that was it.  I'm sure his first question would be "about what?" 

That's where at.  I'm struggling with this first independent study assignment because I don't know stuck at the starting block.  I'm thrilled to have a plan of action for developing my idea and turning it into a finished project.  I'm excited to try Young's principals too, but I can't seem to find the gun to start the race.  Practical just doesn't apply to me.  I'm not an artist (by the true definition of the word).  I like the idea of being an artist, but when I try something artsy, I just get frustrated at how imperfect it is, so I try to avoid putting myself in that situation.  That leaves social, but what?  Hmmm... gotta keep thinking on this.  I've done some research and have a few ideas, but I'm just not really excited about any of them.  Next step will involve calling on my friends.  Brainstorming is almost always a good solution when I'm stuck.
what it should be about.  I don't know what my "it" is going to be and so feel

Regardless of my "stuck-ed-ness", I really enjoyed Young's book.  Articulating a creative process in such a succinct and understandable way, is not an easy thing to do.  Being a process person myself, I really liked reading about a process to be creative, a skill I struggle with.  Young's process is very intellectual and I'm excited to apply it to my project.

So, I'm behind because I can't tell you what my project is going to be yet, but as true procrastinator, now that I'm behind, I'm sure brilliance will strike at any minute.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Play is needed for creativity...

For the past 4 days, I've been on vacation.  Actually it was more like a "Cele-cation" because I was celebrating my 40th birthday and my husband and I were celebrating 14 wonderful years of marriage.

The two of us have always wanted to do a trip to New York, where we saw as many shows as possible and so that's what we've done.  Our goal was to see 4 shows in 3 days.

Arriving at JFK from Raleigh on Thursday morning, we started our cele-cation off with our top choice show, The Book of Mormon. Then on Friday we went to TKTS and were able to get discounted tickets to Pippin for that night at Once for Saturday matinee.  That made 3 shows and we'd planned to see Sleep No More on Saturday night, but they were sold out.  Thinking we wouldn't reach out goal, we happened to be passing the Gershwin where Wicked is playing, just minutes before the front row lottery was going to start. We put our names in and hoped for the best.  We'd met a couple from NJ while we were waiting in line and made an agreement that if my name and my husbands name got selected, they could have 2 of the 4 tickets we'd have and they agreed to do the same for us.  Unfortunately neither my name nor my husband's name was called out, but luckily both the husband and wife from NJ got tickets (2 each), we paid them for the 2 extra and saw Wicked at 8pm, in the front row.


We'd seen 4 shows in 3 days and the next day my husband had to fly home to be with our son & foster son.  I'm still in the city for work and will return home on Wednesday (leaving the hotel at 530a, for an 8a flight, driving directly to work, then driving to meet my boys at church for Wednesday night programs and THEN FINALLY driving to my house and then returning HOME).

All of that is to say, I've had zero opportunity to create my video since I've been on cele-cation all week. However now that I've had all this fun, relaxation and exposure to theater, I'm sure it will inspire greatness when I do get my video done over the weekend (10/5-10/6).

The Language of New Media by Lev Manovich

Lev Manovich (2002), in The Language of New Media, writes about the concepts of the new media in society. He explains his concepts using five principles, which include numerical representation, transcoding, variability, automation and modularity. These principles help in distinguishing old from new media.

Numerical representation explains the manipulation and programming of new media objects to their mathematical form. Here, converting data into the new numerical form entails sampling and quantization. These steps help in making continuous data measurable, distinct and numerically defined into ranges. In making animations, numerical representation is used to create motion.

Modularity involves the use of independent elements, which are modified when doing other kinds of
works.  In Adobe Photoshop, an image can contain more than one layer whereby each layer is distinct from another. In addition, the World Wide Web consists of various websites, which are distinct media and web elements.
Automation is the process that uses built-in computer systems and software to perform its processes. It depends on both numerical representation and modularity to minimize human intervention during its processes (Manovich, 2002). Automatic processes are used in new media for example using software like Microsoft Word, which has designed templates for document design or the use of grammar and spell check, which automates corrections

New media exists in different forms, which explains the principle of new media variability. Unlike old media that needed manual assembling, new media uses automated systems, digital storage media and the chronology of events and steps. For example, with a single click on an icon, on an interface,multiple versions of processes may be performed.

Transcoding entails converting media from one format to another and the manipulation of media to be compatible with various devices. The computer layer generally affects the cultural layer (Manovich, 2002). New media enables transcoding whereas old media does not.
Based on these principles, a person is able to differentiate between new and old media. The differentiation may be based on measurability, automation, variation, distinction and consistency with the devices.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Internet = Salvation?????

The internet isn’t just a global network of computers connected together. It may have a much higher purpose. Many experts argue that the internet may enable us (as human beings) to move forward as a civilization. 
 For instance, Kaku (2010), a physicist, argues that we are trending towards a Type One civilization, from a Type Zero. Currently, as a Type Zero civilization, we harness energy
from oil and old plants. As we our society advances it's technology and ability, we are moving towards becoming a Type One civilization, which is a planetary civilization, where we'll harness all the energy output of our planet. If we become a Type 1 civilization, Kaku believes we will also be a more multicultural, scientific and tolerant society. He also believes that the internet is an example of a Type One telephone system, where we have the ability to connect with every single person in the world.

Similarly, Rifkin (2010) argues that the internet can help us empathize with

the whole world, as if they were our brothers and sisters. For instance, when Haiti was hit by an earthquake, within three hours the whole world was getting real-time news through the internet and people around the world were able to empathize and began taking action to help the devastated areas and people.

But why did people react?  Research suggests that we are soft-wired with mirror neurons. This means that we tend to mirror the emotion that another person is feeling and this helps us empathize with them. During the

initial stages of civilization, our empathy only extended to our blood ties and our tribes. Later, our empathy extended to religious associations. Since the industrial revolution, our ties have been extended based on national identity. Rifkin argues that we have the technology to extend our empathy to the whole world. 

Is it possible that the internet can help us extend our identities, understanding and empathy to the whole human race? Looking at where we are now, with terrorist attacks in shopping malls, Sarin gas being used on fellow humans and the simple ignorance of not allowing two people who love each other to marry, it seems like we are a long way from that happening. At the same time, I'm the daughter of a somewhat closed minded and (dare I say it) racist family (on my Dad's side), yet I am not myself, close minded or racist. So maybe there’s hope, one generation at a time, for our species to connect and move to the next level.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Can New Media = Social Acceptance?

There's no eye contact
Silence or slow responses are ok
Even ignoring people is more socially acceptable

This is all great news for my almost 14 year old son who is High Functioning Autistic.  He's so high functioning that at first glance you'd never know, but when his peers spend just a little time with him they realize something is "different", but they just aren't sure what it is.  My son is socially awkward, but social networking may save his teen social life!


I'm really struggling with this week's assignment and don't see how I'm going to have it completed by Tuesday.
The assignment is to select an issue related to new-media that we've talked about in class over the past 3 weeks AND which I am passionate about. Therein lies one of my problems... I'm not passionate about new-media... it's there when I need it and that's it.
I've tried to explore how my passions are related to or impacted by new-media AND then to try to find images that would allow me to put together my composition, but the two attempts I've made have not worked out at all.
My passions are (in no particular order)...
My Family
Child Advocacy (I'm a Guardian ad Litem & Foster Parent)
Organization & Efficiency
My first attempt to was to do an image composition of the family dinner, showing images of the past moving to the present and so I started collecting images... but then what. How can I say in pictures why sitting down to dinner with your family is so important to our society?
So I switched my thoughts and focused to how "new-media" impacts children in the foster care system and went looking for images for that, but came up empty. New-Media hasn't affected any of the kids that I've worked with in the system. That might be because they are younger (2-10 years old), but for the most part it's just not part of their lives. They are concerned with if/when they'll get home to their parents, back to their friends, if the family they are put with is nice, understanding, etc (not all foster homes are good ones). New media just doesn't play a part of their lives.
I have some ideas about why I'm struggling...
1. I'm not an artist... I'm a manager of artists/people. I'm an organizer and coordinator of creative thoughts, ideas, plans, etc. The "artists" come to me with big ideas and plans and I break them down into small, achievable pieces connected with dates, times and costs so that their big idea gets done on-time and within budget.
2. I'm a very WORDY person. I communicate with my words so I feel like with this assignment my tongue has been cut out. I feel mute and I don't know how to connect new media with my passion, primarily using images.
3. I've spent about 6 hours this week on this assignment and I'm out of time. I have a full time job, a troubled teenage foster child and my own high functioning autistic teenager in my home and am about to be gone for a week of traveling for work.
If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan is a Canadian philosopher who confounded the theory of communication. His work is believed to have formed the foundation for studying media theory and making it applicable in the television and advertisement industries. In a nutshell, McLuhan is well known for several things: making a perfect prediction of the World Wide Web and for positing the terms “global village” and “the medium of the message”. Below is my personal opinion of how McLuhan uses “the book” as a medium for uttering his message. Also, I will critically assess whether McLuhan’s idea of the modern society still has relevance (McLuhan, 2008).

According to McLuhan, “the book”, as a medium, gives man the potential to detach feelings from thoughts. He also says that it is “the book” that results in the fragmentation of knowledge. He supports his argument by illustrating how the “the book” allowed Western societies to specialize as well as to mechanize (McLuhan, 2008). I agree with McLuhan’s position because “the book” was among the first medium to be created by man. People printed their ideas, which enabled transfer of knowledge from individual to another and from generation to the next (McLuhan, 2008).

McLuhan has used his book “The Medium is the Massage” to utter his thought to his audiences in very exceptional way. His style is demonstrative and explorative, probing and analytic in nature. The book is also humorous and insightful, which makes his audiences understand his thoughts and message in a precise way.

On the question of modern society, McLuhan saw a society in which print medium will dominate as

the most suitable. He did not at all support social change or innovation. According to him, the modern society would neglect print medium and embrace electronic mediums such as computers. Personally, I think that though McLuhan was opposed to the realistic modern world’s situation – change and innovation, his ideal world is not in existence. However, the world he was against is very much alive, thus his ideas of the modern society is still very relevant.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Media and Gen X

Media has been in existence for a long time. Different forms of media have been used effectively over and over and have proved of a great assistance to mankind. New forms of media like televisions, mobile phones and magazines provide information, although at different magnitudes. As compared to older generation, “Generation X” has proved more aggressive in using the media both for educational and non-educational purposes (Donaldo, Pereira, & Shirley 2004).

 Masterman, in his article “The Media Education Revolution”, presents media education in three paradigms.  The first, called the Inoculative Paradigm, is described as a cultural disease that affected children and so media education was designed to counter it.  The second is called the Popular Arts Paradigm and taught that pop culture could be just as authentic as high culture.  Finally, the third is called Representational Paradigm and questioned politics and power.

Masterman’s article lays an effective foundation for media teaching in the 20th century and presents media education, as still essentially protectionist.  While that may have been true when Masterman wrote the article in 1997, media education today has changed and now encourages critical autonomy, increased student motivation and developing life abilities which encourage independent learning (Donaldo, Pereira, & Shirley 2004).
Douglas Keller& Jeff Share in their article “Critical Media Literacy, Democracy, and the Reconstruction of Education” analyses the different approaches of teaching media. They argue that media has a very distinct role in deepening the understanding between potentiality of literacy education and the importance of critically analysing relationships between media and different audiences.  In this article the author says that media expands the understanding to include different forms of mass communication and popular culture.  This article concurs with Masterman that media education helps discriminate and evaluate media content.  The development of media literacy important, as it can be used positively by teachers to teach a wide range of topics. Media literacy can also provide multicultural literacy as well. It can also equip learners with skills that help them promote democracy (Jeff, 2002).

New media has greatly impacted my generation, “Gen Xers” as we are called.  We were the first group to experience the Internet as a part of our daily lives.  We are avid consumers of online content and use social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter (eMarketer, 2013).  Media has greatly contributed to the career choices of Gen Xers, as online/tech jobs dominated the workplace market (Jeff, 2002).  Gen Xers use media for almost everything, from connecting with friends and family to finding jobs and improving their careers; from making purchases to finding our soul mate.  We are a sceptical generation to begin with (remember we are the generation that saw the cool commercial for a cereal with an amazing toy in the box and begged, pleaded and harassed our parents until they bought it for us, only to discover it was a puny, plastic, piece of crap).  So we use every media outlet we can to investigate research and study before making any purchase, decision or choice.  We remember our life and world without email, internet and mobile phones, so can appreciate the balance between waiting and getting “it” (whatever “it” is) instantaneously.  Gen Xers are the perfect in-between of the Millennial Generation who are used to having everything at their fingertips and therefore lack patience and the Baby Boomers who tend to struggle with the fast changing pace of technology.  We willing to try new media as it’s created, use it if there is benefit, discarding it if it’s rubbish and have enough patience to wait for (or just develop) what we need.      

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why Attend Class At All?: A Mini-paper on the article " Actually Going to Class, for a Specific Course? How 20th-Century"

“Nontraditional Education””, Blended Teaching/Learning”, “Flipped Classrooms”, are some of the names for a new way of teaching and learning that many schools, from elementary to higher education, are using these days.  This method is anything but the normal lecture/test model that’s been used for decades.  While there are many variations of this new model, the overarching theme is that lectures are done outside the classroom, either by watching a video of a previously recorded lecture or reading an article, handout or book before arriving in class.  Then, while in class, students work together on projects or discussions regarding what they saw or read.  The idea of flipping the classroom is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning by allowing active, cooperative, collaborative and problem-based learning to take place in and out of the classroom. 

“Why go to class at all?” is the question asked in the article “Actually Going to Class, for a Specific Course? How 20th-Century”.  While nontraditional classrooms allow students to get the information they need outside of class, it’s the second part of the process that makes this method of teaching successful.  The interactive, project based work prepares students for leadership in a fast-changing world, by teaching them to work alongside fellow students and experts to tackle complex challenges.   Just flipping a classroom so they lecture is done outside the classroom, only to take a test or turn in a paper within the classroom, is not the point.  This is the main reason I disagree with Dale Stephens statement, "there's not really much need for teachers anymore, since so much is online”.  Stephens’ idea of the Un-college, where students pay $100 per month for access to information and mentors takes this new teaching method in the wrong direction and misses the point entirely. 
The most valuable part of a student’s learning experience at college takes place outside the traditional classroom (The National Survey of Student Engagement, an annual study at Indiana University at Bloomington).  By “Flipping”, teachers bring the most valuable part of a student’s learning into the classroom.  Allowing teacher to help the students learn how to approach issues from all sides, work together as a team, and critically argue a point. All of those skills will help students develop strategies that will better serve them in today’s workplace much more than just taking a test or writing a paper.

Technology, globalization, politics, and other realities are reshaping our world and changing the role of education. Schools and universities must adapt, but not to the point that students never attend a class or interact with their peers. Teachers and students, together in classrooms, are vital to a good education and that is “why they should go to class”.  That being said, the quality of education a student gets will depend on what happens in that classroom.  Traditional teaching versus nontraditional can be the difference between a student truly learning the information and applying it to their career or life versus forgetting almost everything as soon as they get their passing grade.   
-Amy Crum