New Media Faculty Dev. Seminar – FA2010

"Awakening the Digital Imagination" – a Networked Seminar

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.

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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.

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.

On Marshall McLuhan

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Post source: JoMama Meets the New Media

The film clip with Woody Allen and Marshall McLuhan that someone posted on the networked blog was both amusing and  applicable.  ”Why can’t life be like that?”  Well, if the medium is indeed the message, then I would think it often is.  After plowing through the pages in McLuhan’s two selections, however, I can easily imagine McLuhan being the fellow behind Woody Allen in the line, pontificating about Joyce, Rimbaud, Ruskin, Pope, and Rousseau.  I have to admit that most of this was lost on me, but I get the reality of psychic transformation taking place since the time of Gutenberg.  The timing of this particular reading is serendipitously close to our recent experience with Mark Taylor, who spent the afternoon last Friday talking about the rewiring of the human brain over the past couple of decades.  I have been following with fascination the faculty response to his talk.  Most educators with whom I have talked agree emphatically that students today think/behave/study/respond/learn very differently.  The spirited discussion begins at the point where we ask the question “So what then?”  Do we put our energy into the technology (the medium) or into the content (the message), or do we do both, with neither suffering neglect?

I carry with me some lessons that I learned way back in my years as a storyteller, at a time when there wasn’t much (if any) real storytelling going on in our area.   Telling stories to young children without the aid of any props at all – no puppets, no flannel boards, no pictures – I found that children would listen with rapt attention.  Why?  I believe it was because they were hungry (dare I say starved?) for something that they rarely got -

  • eyeball-to-eyeball communication
  • total involvement with the speaker
  • nothing to come between the story and their own imagination

These were children who were being raised with Sesame Street, wonderfully illustrated picture books, beautifully animated movies, bright bulletin boards at school, and endless TV – who rarely were asked to listen, simply to listen.   It isn’t hard for me to imagine that their minds, with only a steady diet of the visual, might just undergo a kind of transformation.

I was also interested to read about McLuhan’s response to the misprinting of his book’s title – being The Medium is the Massage. He saw that as a good mistake, because he thought that the medium does indeed have the function of massaging the content.  I often take exactly the opposite stance – that when surrounded by such super-spectacular media, students lack the ability, the motivation, or the inclination to massage the material, to dig in and work with it.

Post source: JoMama Meets the New Media

I love it that the test group for the interim Dynabook was composed of children. It is humbling to know that while I am today being wowed by the capabilities of Sketchup, a fourteen year old girl was programming just such a thing back in 1977!

The section on music capture (OPUS) piqued my curiosity about where that is at this point.  Having read this but knowing nothing more, I am quite sure that it must be possible to play a new composition on a keyboard on the computer (or ipad) and have it immediately appear as written in musical notation.  My thirteen year old grandson installed a cool piano program on my ipad, so that I can practice piano anywhere I am – so now I want to see how I can transfer my playing to written notation.  Who knows how?

Some Ideas About Tech…

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Post source: publicintellectual

I'm going to take a break from discussing and interacting with the readings until later this week. Don't worry, I have plenty of things to say about Nelson's "Computer Lib/Dream Machines" and Kay/Goldberg's "Personal Dynamic Media", and in some ways, I want this post to bridge between my Nelson-esque rant from last week to a discussion of implications for actual use.

All of this ties into the fact that...
I got an iPad!

This is fascinating to me primarily because I have always had to be supremely self-motivated in my technological direction. Other than my father's devotion to the sadly overlooked and under-appreciated Commodore Amiga,



most of the technology in my life has had to have been self-selected, vetted, and thoroughly argued for/purchased with my own money.

From my alarm clock to my numerous Walkmen, personal cd players, laptops, desktops, pager, cell phones, iPods, flash drives, home theater system, video consoles (PS, PS2, Wii), Kindle, and anything I might have left out, I have spent hours talking to people, checking out Consumer Reports, surfing the web, all in the service of not purchasing something that I would not get solid use out of.

This iPad gives me to opportunity to interact with a media technology on a different level, a reactive level, which has been quite informative.

I want to give one negative aspect and then a bunch of positive things.


Bad- Difficulties of Output
The abilities of the iPad to connect, combine, store, and access a wide variety of media is fabulous, but the difficulty of getting things off of the iPad. I assume that these will be corrected/simplified as things progress, but I would love a couple things: higher quality audio/video output, easier wireless printing, and data/file transfer via bluetooth/WiFi.

Yes, before you start inputting comments, I know that these all have workarounds that are ok, but for my use, as an educator who goes to different rooms with different set-ups (often of widely varying decades of equipment), I'd like to have one thing that I can carry with me with my presentations, online encyclopedia, Kindle access, gradebook, streaming audio/video, etc. all in one. Right now, I have to install Silverlight/Kindle on the computers that I use in the classroom (assuming that the priesthood allows such things), have a selection of flashdrives, and a connection to Google Docs.

I have to say that it's not bad. I like it much more than making overheads/copies, tapes, VHS, posterboard and so on that was the norm when I was learning to make presentations, in undergrad, but how nice would it be to walk into a classroom with my iPad, have the projector automatically recognize the iPad, establish a connection (with log-in), and allow me to type, draw notes, show videos, play audio, all without cords, remotes, or a big console?


Good- Community of Discoverers
One of the most exciting parts of new technologies is the growth of supportive communities towards the use and maximization/enjoyment of their use.

I remember the weekly Amiga BBS/SysOp meetings at the University of Delaware campus that we'd attend. We've all seen the continuance of such communities for longer periods too (motorcycles, HAM radios, classic cars). The iPad seems to have some potential towards these sorts of connections, and I'd like to share a couple:

One, is the TWIT network's iPad show, "iPad Today" (if the link is not active, it's because it is blocked by Websense, which is causing some problems). The Twit Network is an interesting podcasting network helmed by Leo Laporte, who I first saw 10 years ago on Tech TV. More interesting than the weekly show alone is the establishment of live, chat communities, wiki's, Buzz's, twitter accounts, blogs, and other outlets that grow up around it.

Second, is the "ideaplay" website that a friend at the tech and Ed, PhD program at Michigan State turned me on to.

These sorts of discussions and communities not only serve to teach one the rules and possibilities of the central subject, but they also test those rules and abilities. We can weigh the costs of "jailbreaking" an iPad without having to put yours at risk (not that there's really a big risk). In other words, they establish boundaries but also push against these, or at least they do in the best of potential worlds.

Mobility

The potentials to move and interact with content is really excellent with the iPad. The screen is clear, sharp, and just begs to be touched. I don't find the keyboard overly difficult to type on for most purposes, although I do wish a wider shift key and more ready access to number keys. I'm sure that different keyboards will come in time. The sheer portability and design profile of the iPad make it very easy to pop into a bag, even more so than a laptop or netbook.


Accessibility
The use of the iPad is very simplistic (overly so in some's opinion). There are a select number of apps per page arranged without much variability. Clicking in and out to single applications fits most uses on a daily basis and simplifies a work-thread in a way that might be advantageous for a creature that cannot truly multi-task.

Pure Potential
There is nothing really innovative to the iPad. As many have said, the tablet PC is not new, and others have actually done it better in some ways. What Apple provides is a a convergence and synergy that makes the iPad a potential and simple locus for almost all connection/access, in a similar way to what some Microsoft people have seen with the XBox 360 with Zune-pass.

I cannot wait to see where things go and test out trails going forward.