New Media Faculty Dev. Seminar – FA2010

"Awakening the Digital Imagination" – a Networked Seminar

Post source: mccmktg

My reaction to Laurel’s article comparing dramas to video games is that plays provide a level of  communal activity that is not provided in video games.  (I admit that I never play computer games so that certainly colors my thinking.)  As soon as you read this you might be thinking “oh, yes it is communal — we have online game “communities.”   But is it really the same.  There is something personal about gathering in a theatre and to experience a play.  Furthermore, theatre is so much more personal than gathering for a movie because of the humanity shared by the actors.  I think plays offer so much more than computer games and hope technology will not result in the demise. But has it already?

I found the article most informative as a way to analyze why a play or book falls flat. I could definitely relate to those examples in the article.  When a mystery is solved with information not shared with me, the reader, I resent it.

The Star Raiders article was completely foreign to me since

Laurel: Where’s the Hardy?

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Post source: publicintellectual

Oh, That's Right It's in the Humanities!

It's argue ably not the first approach that we've seen from the Humanities, both Nelson and McLuhan have some pretty humanistic undergirding. However, Laurel makes no excuse for her roots AND their usefulness in the realms of the digital.

It's the Story, Stupid!

Consider me biased, but I think that throughout all of the reading to date a large quantity of great ideas have been given, a lot of these ideas have been tied to potential ways of seeing the world of work and thinking in new and original ways. What has been missing, and I think Nelson was pointing to the to a degree, has been the ability to analyze and critique these stories of the digital age.

It is to here that Laurel brings her thinking and from whence that I think people like Tom Chatfield and Jane McGonigal draw their ideas for their, relatively recent TED talks, Found here, where they begin to draw out some interesting potentials for human-computer interaction.

What's It To You?
Well, to me, it's nearly everything in terms of research but also filters down to my teaching to a large degree. The concept that the interaction between agents involves their actions and also the motivations and beliefs behind those characters and actions is a powerful one. It clearly filters into any number of situations: advertising, politics, history, and even science. The structure of the narrative affects its meaning.

In almost every class that I teach, I give at least one example of how looking closely at the form of something can give us an understanding of how it works. This hierarchy, or should I say hierarchies, presents a method of analysis that not only goes beyond the efficacy of something being studied but also can contain and explore the discussion of efficacy itself.

In other words, it gives a process for both the exploration of the process but also for the reasons behind the processes that is not always available to more scientific approaches to phenomena. In this way a researcher can employ a transmedia approach to interactions that could be analyzed as narrative.

An Example?

Really? I'd love to.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you were interested in the changes in characters/agents that one might commonly call "detectives". Let's say that you want to also look at agents that seem to border on the definition of that character based on their actions, language, or motivations.

Well, traditionally, one would need to do literary analysis on the literary examples, applying film theory to the cinematic examples, and mass media approaches to the televisual sorts. Additionally, techniques might need to be formed for musical, video game, comic, and advertising examples to name a few.

Applying Aristotelian approaches to narratives and ins that we agree on as narratives is not new, but the idea of applying them to non-narrative characters and interactions is very valuable. now, we can compare the driving of a character in a 1940s noir to the use of a controller in playing Max Payne. We can unpack the agency of the characters involved and compare the different modes of thought and ethical questions behind them in a way that more resembles the ways that individuals use media and engage in narrative.

The modern human agent does not really differentiate between computer time and movie time and TV time and Video Game time. it's screen time and needs to be studied as such.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Laurel: Where’s the Hardy?

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Post source: publicintellectual

Oh, That's Right It's in the Humanities!

It's argue ably not the first approach that we've seen from the Humanities, both Nelson and McLuhan have some pretty humanistic undergirding. However, Laurel makes no excuse for her roots AND their usefulness in the realms of the digital.

It's the Story, Stupid!

Consider me biased, but I think that throughout all of the reading to date a large quantity of great ideas have been given, a lot of these ideas have been tied to potential ways of seeing the world of work and thinking in new and original ways. What has been missing, and I think Nelson was pointing to the to a degree, has been the ability to analyze and critique these stories of the digital age.

It is to here that Laurel brings her thinking and from whence that I think people like Tom Chatfield and Jane McGonigal draw their ideas for their, relatively recent TED talks, Found here, where they begin to draw out some interesting potentials for human-computer interaction.

What's It To You?
Well, to me, it's nearly everything in terms of research but also filters down to my teaching to a large degree. The concept that the interaction between agents involves their actions and also the motivations and beliefs behind those characters and actions is a powerful one. It clearly filters into any number of situations: advertising, politics, history, and even science. The structure of the narrative affects its meaning.

In almost every class that I teach, I give at least one example of how looking closely at the form of something can give us an understanding of how it works. This hierarchy, or should I say hierarchies, presents a method of analysis that not only goes beyond the efficacy of something being studied but also can contain and explore the discussion of efficacy itself.

In other words, it gives a process for both the exploration of the process but also for the reasons behind the processes that is not always available to more scientific approaches to phenomena. In this way a researcher can employ a transmedia approach to interactions that could be analyzed as narrative.

An Example?

Really? I'd love to.

Let's say, hypothetically, that you were interested in the changes in characters/agents that one might commonly call "detectives". Let's say that you want to also look at agents that seem to border on the definition of that character based on their actions, language, or motivations.

Well, traditionally, one would need to do literary analysis on the literary examples, applying film theory to the cinematic examples, and mass media approaches to the televisual sorts. Additionally, techniques might need to be formed for musical, video game, comic, and advertising examples to name a few.

Applying Aristotelian approaches to narratives and ins that we agree on as narratives is not new, but the idea of applying them to non-narrative characters and interactions is very valuable. now, we can compare the driving of a character in a 1940s noir to the use of a controller in playing Max Payne. We can unpack the agency of the characters involved and compare the different modes of thought and ethical questions behind them in a way that more resembles the ways that individuals use media and engage in narrative.

The modern human agent does not really differentiate between computer time and movie time and TV time and Video Game time. it's screen time and needs to be studied as such.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

RE Brenda Laurel

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Post source: JoMama Meets the New Media

Laurel’s description of the development of interactive theatre tied in so well to Viola’s work from our reading the preceding week.  Along with her mention of John Cage, she could/should have also cited Viola’s work with the rock concert La Mer.  The visual effect on the audience was profound.

I was also reminded of a wonderful play (light opera) presented here at MCC several years ago – Help Help the Globolinks! – in which the shrouded & spooky Globolinks came out and interacted with members of the audience.

When my grown daughters were small, long before computers or video games had made the scene in our home, we enjoyed the interactive books that were popular at the time – the “choose your own adventure” series.  In these books, a child could make choices throughout the story regarding how they wanted the adventure to unfold, and could experience a different outcome each time.

I see the bridge that she constructs between interactive theatre and video games, but if indeed “enactment can potentially involve all of the senses”, then do video games fall short of expectations?  Such attempts seem to have flowered and faded, leaving us with less.  But I’m not complaining!

some Viola videos

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Post source: JoMama Meets the New Media

I am attaching the collection of Viola’s videos that I showed in class today, including a couple for which we didn’t have time.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to view the embedded video.

More about McLuhan

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Post source: mccmktg

Post source: publicintellectual

As I prepped for teaching a course on short stories this term, I struggled a great deal with where to begin. The longevity of a "short" story is well recorded, with myths and folk tales, as is its potential to become ephemera, with "You'll never guess what happened last week." Because of the vast distances that stories both can and cannot travel, it grows difficult to ensure relevancy beyond the discipline. Sure, short stories are a form that rose to popularity with the growth of subscription publications like newspapers and magazines in the early 19th Century, but they are more than that.

Viola's "Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space" gives perhaps a perfect example of the relevance of the short story in his use of the fable at the end. While it is told as a personal anecdote, this, combined with the personification of the porcupine and the merging of the "I" with their car, has all the hallmarks of a folktale or fable.

As with many of Aesop's fables and those collected by the Grimms, the location is both described but also vague, "Late one night while driving down a narrow mountain highway." Additionally, the players, porcupine and the man/car, each take on aspects of society or human nature. The porcupine is proud, stubborn, and natural, while the man/car is large, powerful, kind, and technological. The conflict is obvious and reflects the conflicts that Viola traces throughout his writing. It is a call for progress and and acknowledgment of the limits of personal perspective, but the framing as a fable has additional importance.

GK Chesterton writes, in his introduction to a translation of Aesop's Fables,
This is the immortal justification of the Fable: that we could not teach the plainest truths so simply without turning men into chessmen....by using animals in this austere and arbitrary style as they are used on the shields of heraldry or the
hieroglyphics of the ancients, men have really succeeded in handing down those tremendous truths that are called truisms.


To us, this means that Viola's use of a nearly universal and ancient narrative form communicates and demonstrates the points about tradition and technology that he seems to point out at various places in the chapter that there is

the importance of turning back towards ourselves...The sacred art of the past has unified form, function, and aesthetics around this single ultimate aim. Today, development of self must precede development of the technology or we will go nowhere


This reminds me of some recent trends in sacred spheres to return to more traditional forms of representation in order to recombine and recreate the now, including the monastic walk/prayer labyrinth:



and the both ironic and non-ironic appreciation of religious icons:



Interestingly enough, a friend of a friend's blog gives a very simple explanation of why icons look they way they do, and its theological importance. Not unsurprisingly, it has a lot in common in the discussion of space and ideas that comes up in Viola's chapter.

Note: I somehow lost the two posts that I did for last week. I'm going to recreate them from my notes and post them on Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Post source: publicintellectual

As I prepped for teaching a course on short stories this term, I struggled a great deal with where to begin. The longevity of a "short" story is well recorded, with myths and folk tales, as is its potential to become ephemera, with "You'll never guess what happened last week." Because of the vast distances that stories both can and cannot travel, it grows difficult to ensure relevancy beyond the discipline. Sure, short stories are a form that rose to popularity with the growth of subscription publications like newspapers and magazines in the early 19th Century, but they are more than that.

Viola's "Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space" gives perhaps a perfect example of the relevance of the short story in his use of the fable at the end. While it is told as a personal anecdote, this, combined with the personification of the porcupine and the merging of the "I" with their car, has all the hallmarks of a folktale or fable.

As with many of Aesop's fables and those collected by the Grimms, the location is both described but also vague, "Late one night while driving down a narrow mountain highway." Additionally, the players, porcupine and the man/car, each take on aspects of society or human nature. The porcupine is proud, stubborn, and natural, while the man/car is large, powerful, kind, and technological. The conflict is obvious and reflects the conflicts that Viola traces throughout his writing. It is a call for progress and and acknowledgment of the limits of personal perspective, but the framing as a fable has additional importance.

GK Chesterton writes, in his introduction to a translation of Aesop's Fables,
This is the immortal justification of the Fable: that we could not teach the plainest truths so simply without turning men into chessmen....by using animals in this austere and arbitrary style as they are used on the shields of heraldry or the
hieroglyphics of the ancients, men have really succeeded in handing down those tremendous truths that are called truisms.


To us, this means that Viola's use of a nearly universal and ancient narrative form communicates and demonstrates the points about tradition and technology that he seems to point out at various places in the chapter that there is

the importance of turning back towards ourselves...The sacred art of the past has unified form, function, and aesthetics around this single ultimate aim. Today, development of self must precede development of the technology or we will go nowhere


This reminds me of some recent trends in sacred spheres to return to more traditional forms of representation in order to recombine and recreate the now, including the monastic walk/prayer labyrinth:



and the both ironic and non-ironic appreciation of religious icons:



Interestingly enough, a friend of a friend's blog gives a very simple explanation of why icons look they way they do, and its theological importance. Not unsurprisingly, it has a lot in common in the discussion of space and ideas that comes up in Viola's chapter.

Note: I somehow lost the two posts that I did for last week. I'm going to recreate them from my notes and post them on Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Condominiums in Data Space?

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Post source: Gail'sNew MediaBlog

This reading made me think about things in a different way. Bill Viola actually makes a lot of sense. I was intrigued by thinking about life as an “unbroken thread” and that we “have been living this same moment ever since we were conceived”, that it is only memory, and sleep that make us feel that our lives are made up of discrete parts or sections instead of one connected, unbroken whole. He uses nature to demonstrate how everything is connected. He gives the example of creating a jigsaw puzzle by first starting with the whole, and then dividing it up into little pieces. The puzzle worker feels that they are creating something when putting the puzzle together, when in reality the whole already exists and  is “out there” somewhere.

Getting back to how this relates to new media, Viola describes the 1980’s era phenomena of the computer merging with video. He describes what sounds like todays video/computer simulated games, “the ultimate recording technology” of “total spatial storage, with the viewer wandering through some three-dimensional”…”prerecorded or simulated scenes”, with “possible pathways, or branches”…which the user chooses and which “must already exist at some place on the disc”… but which “may never be encountered”. It exists in “data space” somewhere.

Viola describes the shift from constructing something piece by piece in a temporal sense, to the process of carving out many possible programs in data space dependent on the user and his choices.

Viola writes: “despite the anti-technology attitudes”…”the present generation of artists, filmmakers, and video-makers”…”who continue to ignore computer and video technology, will”…”find that they have bypassed the primary medium, not only of their own fields, but of the entire culture as well”. This could almost be true today as some of us continue to resist technology instead of seeing its possibilities.

Marshall McLuhan

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Post source: Gail'sNew MediaBlog

I enjoyed the clips shown in our group this week: Woody Allen and Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall and the Mad Men clip spouting  “the medium is the message.” I did not realize Marshall McLuhan and his writings were such a large part of the cultural/social landscape back in the day. 

As I told my group, when I read the first part of  “The Galaxy Reconfigured”  excerpt, I really thought McLuhan must have been on drugs when it wrote this.   More probably, it was over my head. The latter part of the excerpt, however, made more sense to me. He put the history in perspective when he pointed out, “that every generation poised on the edge of massive change should later seem oblivious of the issues and the imminent event would seem to be natural enough.” … “It is felt at those times, that the future will be a larger or greatly improved version of the immediate past.”

The second excerpt, “The Medium Is the Message” was interesting. While we must, of course, pay attention to the content of messages, McLuhan was correct, in a sense, that “the medium is the message”. He said “the ‘message’ of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs”. The adage McLuhan pointed out “if it works, it’s obsolete” rings doubly true today than it did then.