New Media Faculty Dev. Seminar – FA2010

"Awakening the Digital Imagination" – a Networked Seminar

Turkle, Video Games, and Flow

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Post source: Gail'sNew MediaBlog

I’ve played a video game twice, I think. The first was Pac Man, which I remember as being kind of fun, although I felt that I was not very good at the game. The second, I think, was Grand Theft Auto. I remember trying and failing miserably, to keep my car from crashing into things. I felt very out of control. My kids laughed and explained you were supposed to crash into things, not try to avoid it.  I didn’t enjoy that game at all.

So, I’ve never experienced the “altered state” while playing a video game that Turkle described. However, I can understand what she described as “muscle memory” or “flow” as being similar to sports when the mental and physical come together, and the body knows what to do without one being aware of the mind telling it what to do. I had a good friend who was an excellent golfer and he explained that feeling while playing golf. I used to play the piano and remember that feeling of “flow” — like my hands and fingers were moving on their own without my thinking about it.  

I can understand those who play video games and experience this feeling and use the game to kind of “self medicate” in order to unwind, de-stress, or feel in control of something. With me, it just won’t be video games I use to do this. I’d rather be reading a good book! To each his own!

Laurel-Computer as Agent

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Post source: Gail'sNew MediaBlog

One of Laurel’s points that I related to was her question “Can computers think?” Of course not, but the author describes the Aristotelian point of view that an agent, is “one who takes action” , and the more accepted legal definition of “one who is empowered to act on behalf of another”. We accept that our computers are our agents, performing actions at our request. However, it is easy to forget that momentarily and to attribute the action to the computer. I find myself doing this all the time. In fact, I did it during the day’s discussion of this reading. I was complaining about my ipad “doing this” and “not letting me do that” when I was confronted by a fellow seminar participant (Thanks, Stephen), and was brought up short and realized, “Oops, yes, I’m doing just what is described in the article” .  What an illustration of the author’s point!

Post source: publicintellectual

A bit of background is necessary before I get into my belated discussion of Turkle (which I thought I had put on timed release but did not, I suppose).

First, I love games of all sorts. One of my favorite things to do with my family has always been to play games. My brother and I used to fight over the monthly arrival of the Games magazine. We love crosswords, computer games, arcade games, car games, and any other sort of game known to mankind.

I believe that this game-centric lifestyle has warped me to no end. I constantly play games in my mind at almost all times. One of my favorites is to take things that people say and try to think of songs or quotes from movies/TV that fit or follow from this. "Come on!" almost always elicits an internal completion of "Eileen" and a subconscious break-out into "toora loora toora loo rye aye" etc. (Albeit, my version is the Save Ferris version rather than the Dexy's Midnight Runners').

Second, I did not have a console gaming system for a long, long, long time after all of my friends had one, other than an Atari 800, which was ostensibly a computer. So, Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation systems were always a bit of a fetish item for me. I did eventually buy a PS1 and a PS2 after they went down in price, but by that time, it was not cool.

This means that my sort of my gaming came a series of fits and starts that depended on what my friends had and were playing. It meant that I never got really good at any of the games that other people played and would constantly have to submit to the query of, "Do you want to have me help you through is part?"

Conclusion
Combining these, I feel a polarity that I'm not sure I see in Turkle's work, although I might see it reflected. It is that gaming, whether it was a form of social connection and/or mental expansion and challenge, was never, for me at least, a matter of this zen-like connection that Turkle observes.

For me, it was a battle with the movable parts that Turkle claims to not exist in video games, despite my battles with sticky controller buttons, high ping/lag, or have the less-than-modern mouse or joystick. it was a battle with not being able to devote the time and energy to claim some social status.

Even in the faculty seminar with the fact that I'm more gamer than most of my colleagues, I am noob of all noobs in comparison to those around me. My student toss off their kill ratios and ask me about whether I've played the new Fallout (no), and I'm left without a response. A couple years ago, I taught a mass media intro class and had a day on identity construction in video games. I brought in my PS2 and Guitar Hero II, a wonderful example of mastery and the zen-like meditation that Turkle describes, and I was pawned in ways that I'm sure you can imagine.

Fortunately, now, I can retreat to my farm and enjoy a leisurely time of planting tomatoes.




Or, better yet, I can turn down the lights and watch "Dory" mate.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Post source: publicintellectual

A bit of background is necessary before I get into my belated discussion of Turkle (which I thought I had put on timed release but did not, I suppose).

First, I love games of all sorts. One of my favorite things to do with my family has always been to play games. My brother and I used to fight over the monthly arrival of the Games magazine. We love crosswords, computer games, arcade games, car games, and any other sort of game known to mankind.

I believe that this game-centric lifestyle has warped me to no end. I constantly play games in my mind at almost all times. One of my favorites is to take things that people say and try to think of songs or quotes from movies/TV that fit or follow from this. "Come on!" almost always elicits an internal completion of "Eileen" and a subconscious break-out into "toora loora toora loo rye aye" etc. (Albeit, my version is the Save Ferris version rather than the Dexy's Midnight Runners').

Second, I did not have a console gaming system for a long, long, long time after all of my friends had one, other than an Atari 800, which was ostensibly a computer. So, Nintendo, Sega, and Playstation systems were always a bit of a fetish item for me. I did eventually buy a PS1 and a PS2 after they went down in price, but by that time, it was not cool.

This means that my sort of my gaming came a series of fits and starts that depended on what my friends had and were playing. It meant that I never got really good at any of the games that other people played and would constantly have to submit to the query of, "Do you want to have me help you through is part?"

Conclusion
Combining these, I feel a polarity that I'm not sure I see in Turkle's work, although I might see it reflected. It is that gaming, whether it was a form of social connection and/or mental expansion and challenge, was never, for me at least, a matter of this zen-like connection that Turkle observes.

For me, it was a battle with the movable parts that Turkle claims to not exist in video games, despite my battles with sticky controller buttons, high ping/lag, or have the less-than-modern mouse or joystick. it was a battle with not being able to devote the time and energy to claim some social status.

Even in the faculty seminar with the fact that I'm more gamer than most of my colleagues, I am noob of all noobs in comparison to those around me. My student toss off their kill ratios and ask me about whether I've played the new Fallout (no), and I'm left without a response. A couple years ago, I taught a mass media intro class and had a day on identity construction in video games. I brought in my PS2 and Guitar Hero II, a wonderful example of mastery and the zen-like meditation that Turkle describes, and I was pawned in ways that I'm sure you can imagine.

Fortunately, now, I can retreat to my farm and enjoy a leisurely time of planting tomatoes.




Or, better yet, I can turn down the lights and watch "Dory" mate.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Deschooling

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Post source: mccmktg

There are certainly merits for de-institutionalizing education. However, I could not get past the idea that the system described would be incredibly disadvantageous to children of lower socio-economic households.  I wonder if Illich had spent much time with children and parents who live in multi-generational poverty.  Those households are in constant chaos.  Parents for the most part have no interest/ability to guide their children in education.  Along these lines, in Outliers, there is a report on Annette Lareau’s research on parenting styles.  She found the styles divided along class lines  and cited examples like coaching children to speak up, finding resources and opportunities for children and interacting with people in authority.  Lareau concluded that children from wealthy homes are taught attitudes that are “suited to success in the modern world.”  Illich mentions the role of parents, but does not address how to overcome the wide disparity of abilities.

About midway through, the article on deschooling hit me as an article on home schooling.

One of Illich’s indictments of educators is their desire to keep knowledge a secret. This made me think of our discussion of the apparent unwillingness of the IT guys to share their knowledge.  But really aren’t most professions guilty — doctors, lawyers accountants?  I’m reminded of an email this week referring to a mechanic’s keeping secret the location of a radiator drain plug.  Maybe this desire to keep secrets is actually the very reason a system of education has developed.  The experts are not willing to share!  IF that is the case, Illich’s entire scenario would fall.

An Aside — Is it just me, or do articles in electronic form have way more errors than articles in print?

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Back before television and radio people learned from books. A book was read by one person at one time. They were in limited supply. But radio and later television information became available to everyone at the same time. With the exception of a few close races we know who are politicians will be before we go to bed election day. “Dewey defeats Truman” just doesn’t happen much anymore. On March 30, 1981 in was announced on network television that James Brady was killed by John Hinckley in the attempted assassination of President Reagan – which was instantaneous – but wrong. But this is not the norm but an exception to the rule. We get our information quick and usually accurately.

Has the television cost our society their social skills. Did reading books and writing and mailing letters make us better communicators. I don’t really think so. We are much more likely to reply instantly to a text message or phone call or reply within a day to an email. When I have received written letters and had nothing more than an address to reply to it has taken me months to get back to that person. This is probably a personal flaw on my part – at least as far as ‘months’ but I do think it takes people much longer to sit down and collect their thoughts when writing a formal letter. Will we loose history with the lost of hand written letters. We have a President today that forced the Secret Service to deal with his need for his Blackberry. If you go to the White House home page to find an address to contact the President you find a link for email. Knowing President Obama that is probably the most effective way to communicate with him. But are these emails being saved. Our history is founded on the written words for thousands of years. How will we maintain our collection in the future. They are collecting Tweets for the Library of Congress – but that is probably the worst thing to be collecting – but it is probably all that they can get their hands on.

Television has had a huge impact on our society. What ended the war in Vietnam in 1973? Nixon? Number of deaths? No – Walter Cronkite brought the war into the living rooms of every American. They showed the war in a way no war had ever been portrayed before. Television has had a huge impact on our society. Today rapists have their victims shower and wash any bed linens before leaving – they watch CSI also. With the good comes the bad – they never travel alone.

The television has been entertaining us since its first introduction at the World Fair in New York. Franklin Roosevelt was broadcast opening the fair in 1939. The American people had no idea what they were in for. For over 60 years the television has been a source of entertainment with Gracie and Allen, a source of sorrow with the assassination of John F Kennedy and the death of Princess Diana, a source of information as Wichita Kansas was the second city in the nation with Doppler radio in an area where tornadoes are a normal occurrence, and a source of horror on 9-11 2001. It has been an integral part of our lives.

Growing up with an entertainment box in our home has force education to take on a role of entertainment to a certain extent. I constantly make references to authors like Jules Vern and Tom Clancy, shows like NCIS and CSI, and performers like Rock Hudson, Michael Jay Fox, and Christopher Reeves. Television (yes even for authors) has made the American public aware through entertainment and I tap into that entertainment. How many people remember the interview with Tom Clancy three days after 9–11 where he expressed remorse over his book “Debt of Honour” where he writes of a 747 passenger plane deliberately crashing into the Capitol Building killing the President, along with most of the Senate, House, and Supreme Court. Tom Clancy did not create the idea of using a plane as a weapon but 9-11 hit too close for comfort. Television isn’t going anywhere, nor is technology, we can either embrace it in the classroom or become obsolete.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Computers were once just machines that could calculate equations. They initially had no role in our day to day lives. This obviously changed and at the same time there was a transition in our society from books to television. Was this the first transition of its kind? – no. If you go way back stories were not read but instead told. People questioned the reasoning behind loosing the emotional input of an oral story telling and instead relying on written words alone to create the image. So as we put our books down and reading became almost obsolete for some, television took hold of our society. Instead of talking about what book they read or what was in the paper, people talked about the show they watched last night or the pictures being broadcast from the war in Vietnam. So has this lead to less intelligent people – no intelligence is not gained or lost by life experience. We do have a different society one that has most recently traded the television for personal computers, tablets, iPads, iPods, iPhones, etc. It is different but is it bad?

Does the computer and the internet stifle learning. Some would argue yes others would agree no. I think it depends upon the individual. Some teachers use the internet very effectively in their courses while others allow it to be a baby sitter of sorts. Some students push the envelope and learn new and fascinating things while others hang out in chat rooms. Is this any different from what other generations have seen?

Students are looking for hybrid courses where they can have the best of both worlds. When sold correctly hybrids have been quite successful. Student use varying forms of technologies in lectures today. I have students who follow my notes and take additional notes on their PCs, others go to Blackboard and make hard copies of the notes and bring them to class, and students even bring up my notes in lab on their phones to reference what they are studying. Students do not want to be bored. They surround themselves with this technology to stimulate their senses.

But one common mistake is the assumption that all students today want the technology and understand how to use the technology. When one book publisher did a study with 2000 students they show that less than half of the students wanted eBooks. They wanted a book to hold in their hands instead – thus my students who make hard copies of the notes. Their study also show very few students – less than 20% – want school related materials sent to their smart phones. They said that their phone were for more personal use not work. We need a more accurate picture of our entire student population not just the one’s being classically discussed as “Generation Next” – because a lot of the 18-21 year olds at this school missed the “Next” lecture and don’t prescribe to the stereotype. We have to look at all students not just the very intelligent vocal ones. You know the loud minority.

One last thought – is the internet providing valuable information? It completely depends upon where you go. I am not impressed with Wikipedia. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can edit that information. I edit chapters in textbooks on endocrinology and reproduction because I have spent many years studying these area. But I can go to Wikipedia and change sports statistics – I have never watched more than 10 minutes of any game even when forced to sit in the stadium. Should I have this power – I think not. We have to educate our students about how to utilize good internet sources and have good internet sense. The CDC is a wonderful website that is a great supplement to use in Microbiology. There are also photographs and information provided by many zoos that helps us in zoology courses where we do not have enormous specimen library’s. The internet takes us to some terrific places, we just need to be aware of its limitations.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Are we moving toward a “Brave New World”? Theatrics has always been an art form just like photography. And although computers have enhanced both forms of art we have to be careful not to replace the human talent with computerized simulations. This article talks about plays with odors as part of the performance and how this idea was dismissed because it was a distraction. Well with the food network would it be such a distraction – Emeril always says “we need smellivison”. Although is sound really cool it would most likely not be marketable and the market drives the technology.

“Tina and Tony’s Wedding” was an interactive play. Are we still doing this? – yes. Murder mystery’s are quite popular because people like to interact with the art form. This is further illustrated in computer simulations. We have come a long way since “Duke Nukem”. We can laugh at the graphics we started with and can be amazed at the graphics we now have on our phones. Interactive games have evolved with the technology but not necessarily for the better. “Myst” actually required you to use your mind to solve puzzles to reach a goal. Today’s “World of Warcraft” takes little skill and less intellect. You are doing menial tasks. Yes it is a form of social networking – but 10-14 hours a day – get real.

A different form of interaction is seen with the “Wii”. Here you actually move as if you are actually performing. It has been interesting to see all of the people who have flocked to this technology. I would be more interested in virtual reality games – with true “virtual reality” technology. I want the complete host of sensations not just the movement and its effect on a 2-D television screen. 3-D is much more exciting. On a more practical note in graduate school we would section organs (0.005 mm thick) and look at them under a microscope. We would photograph the tissues. And we could compare the tissues and see a pattern across the organ. We thought it would be perfect in we could digitize these images and reconstruct the organ on a computer screen with 3-D qualities. We were about 15 years ahead of the technology. Today we can do just that. If only we could have been the one’s to initiate it.

Finally I look at film and where we are today because of this technology. In 1963 Alfred Hitchcock made “The Birds” and everyone was so impressed. Today we look at that movie and laugh and the quality of the images. In the 21st century we digitally enhance our films on a regular basis. We have created images that are astronomical. In 1977 George Lucas made “Star Wars” which was a very cool visualization but in addition it was the beginning of what would become THX the next generation of surround sound. Theaters used to be very large. Today we make them small and close to the screen to bring the viewer in. The sound is now Dolby and surrounds us completely. People even have surround sound in their homes. It is a totally different experience. Where Hitchcock spent his efforts to build the suspense today we concentrate on the technology that will woo the audience.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

I knew that Xerox was around at the beginning of computers but I had no idea the important role that they played. My first laptop, many computers ago, was a xerox computer. I always thought Microsoft was the only big computer hijacker, but now I have found out that Apple stole the technology from Xerox first. Of course where would we be today if it had not been for the contributions of all of these companies. Computers have evolved to the laptops, and now tablets, that Kay and Goldberg were suggesting. They are in the hands of all people and not just and isolated part of the math and science world.

The other thing I found very interesting was the role that  they played in the creation of WYIWYG – and for the young crowd we affectionately know this as “what you see is what you get”. These was a technology that we were so excited to see. We could finally make our projects look professional. Before this the fancy fonts and graphics were left to artist and graphic designers. I remember spending hours working on my commercial art projects creating fonts with pens and later pen that today I use everyday typing in Word.

The thing that they did not predict is how we have applied this computing technology to our entertainment. We have smartphones, iPads, and iPods and many other pieces of equipment used for entertainment. We have remote controls that control everything in our homes. We have computers in our cars that are used now by mechanics. Computers are everywhere they are ingrained in our society and we don’t want to live without them. Y2K put an entire country into panic over something that never even happened. It was nice though the influx of money lead to the advancement of coprocessors that was at somewhat of a stand still.

Post source: mccmktg

I’m still considering our discussion/disagreement about “what is art?”   I thought some of Viola’s work was artistic, but I could not quit thinking about the experience of seeing lots of works in New York art museums this summer that left me thinking”this is not art — how did those artists convince the curators that their work belongs in the Guggenheim, Met or MOMA???”  I went in search of some I remember, but could not find them.  I did find this candy art.  It is literally a pile (sculpture) of candy.  Hmmm.

The $30,000 Cameron Park willow structure funded by the National Endowment for the Arts is now complete.  I need to visit it and ponder about its value as art.  I think I will go on one of these beautiful fall days and enjoy the art of the river and park as well.