Readings for April 21st, 2008


1. Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings (3 – 5 sentences) (8pts)

Loving the Ghost in the Machine ( is a beautifully written, poetic, if somewhat verbose, take on the ways in which electronic music, mixology, DJs, and other modern digital music artists are taking what was supposedly fixed in nature (records and other source material) as the starting point to exploit the glitches, and ghosts, in that material. There is some focus near the end on the idea of repetition of a phrase (as in looping) being used as a way to celebrate the small but important additional audio entries into a loop.

The Aesthetics of Failure: “Post-Digital” Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music ( argues that the medium that was the message is now replaced by tools. Moreover, it talks about the post-digital pro-failure aesthetic, one in which the traditionally ugly, the throw-away, the glitch, is set upon a pedestal, mixed with other glitches, and celebrated.  It talks highly of the seminal work by John Cage, 4’33” in which the sounds of life are amplified by the silence of the piano combined with the aural expectations of the audience, and many other organizations, sub movements, and ideas related to the glitch aesthetic.

2. Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

The glitch aesthetic is a rich source for examining new ways with which to appreciate and create sound.

Audio hackers are forefront in this aesthetic, and are using digital tools to manipulate sound, often as experimental amateurs, rather than as trained musicians or programmers.

The common idea here is the idea of the beautiful exposed and exploited glitch, and the celebration as music as that which is not created by manipulating musical instruments, or by redefining what a musical instrument is.

3. Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

A digital counterpart to the scratch is the often-mentioned glitch. A precariously vague term, which however captures some of the slipperiness of digital media. If analog phonography has led to some sort of metallurgy of sound, made sound malleable and mutable, digital sound processing approaches sound as molecules. The term microsound is very appropriate for the digital music of today. Or, if we take heed of Kim Cascone, we should be talking about post-digital music, since the medium of digital technology has become so transparent it doesn’t reflect in the expression of music anymore. Instead specific sound processing tools, such as Max, AudioMulch or SoundForge produce an auratic sound, as well as providing amazing detail and accuracy in manipulating sound.

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Date Visited: Sun Apr 19 2009 21:50:30 GMT-0400 (EDT)

A pair of Finnish producers called Pan Sonic—then known as Panasonic, before a team of corporate lawyers encouraged them to change their name—led one of the first forays into experimentation in electronica. Mika Vainio, head architect of the Pan Sonic sound, used handmade sine wave oscillators and a collection of inexpensive effect pedals and synthesizers to create a highly synthetic, minimal, “hard-edged” sound. Their first CD, titled Vakio, was released in the summer of 1993, and was a sonic shockwave compared to the more blissful strains of ambient-techno becoming popular at that time. The Pan Sonic sound conjured stark, florescent, industrial landscapes; test-tones were pounded into submission until they squirted out low, throbbing drones and high-pitched stabs of sine waves. The record label Vainio founded, Sähkö Records, released material by a growing catalog of artists, most of it in the same synthetic, stripped-down, minimal vein.

Address :
Date Visited: Sun Apr 19 2009 21:52:07 GMT-0400 (EDT)

Composers of glitch music have gained their technical knowledge through self-study, countless hours deciphering software manuals, and probing Internet newsgroups for needed information. They have used the Internet both as a tool for learning and as a method of distributing their work. Composers now need to know about file types, sample rates, and bit resolution to optimize their work for the Internet. The artist completes a cultural feedback loop in the circuit of the Internet: artists download tools and information, develop ideas based on that information, create work reflecting those ideas with the appropriate tools, and then upload that work to a World Wide Web site where other artists can explore the ideas embedded in the work.

Address :
Date Visited: Sun Apr 19 2009 21:53:48 GMT-0400 (EDT)

4. Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings. Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)Although I’m familiar with some of the artists that were mentioned in The Aesthetics of Failure, I felt confused about what some of the ideas being described might sound like. I’ve never yet heard a performance of 4’33”, but I imagine it would be an amazing thing to experience. I can’t quite fathom what the effect would be — awkwardness? Would someone who didn’t grok Cage get up and leave altering the respectful space?

5. Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

If we follow Cage’s lead and celebrate sound by amplifying what we commonly think of as silence, which he believes is unachievable, how might we use this in our leadership and communication roles in order to celebrate and amplify productivity, motivation, and clarity?

How can the glitch aesthetic be applied to organizational leadership — where is the beauty in failure in the workplace, and can it be brought to light?

How can we use some of these ideas (the positive aesthetic of ghosts, glitches, and failure) in order to influence the aural culture of our workspaces?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

As both a visual artist who has focused on the glitch aesthetic in my work, and a musician who has enjoyed and appreciated industrial sound and broken sound in the music I listen to and aspire to play, I really felt in tune with these articles. I am still gathering exactly how these ideas can be translated into my leadership roles.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars?


1. Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings (3 – 5 sentences) (8pts)

The Sims
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In “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars? Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry,” Jenkins walks the uninitiated through the ways in which media allows or does not allow for mashups, remixes, and collaborations with the audience. Specifically described are the ways in which Star Wars, Manga, The Sims, Online Gaming Universes, Modding and Movie production see audience collaboration as either a nuisance, a source for direction, an inspiration, prohibited, creative, or dangerous, and how the more restrictive the re-use of the media, the more limited its potential for adoption and longevity. The Lessig view of folk collaboration and read write culture is compared with the corporation as cornered and threatened by dilution culture, and while the writing is far from biased, it’s clear that there is a suggestion to producers to allow for audience collaboration in return for the many potential benefits of doing so.

2. Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

1. Media producers who decide that audience-as-collaborator is a threat to their creation are going to have a great deal of work keeping people from doing it and may damage their fan base in the cease and desist effort.

2. Media producers who allow or encourage audience collaboration may be able to gather feedback about new directions for the franchise, may gather stronger ties with audiences, may be able to discover new talent for their creative teams, and may be able to develop new avenues for their content.

A replica of R2-D2, an iconic droid of the Sta...
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3. While outright outlawing of audience media manipulation will likely result in an audience backlash, the audience as creator will often accept suggestions for what is legitimately allowed within the recreation of stories, ideas, and characters of the franchise. This can be done using media contest rules, community rules, and official sponsorship of media that respects the rules.

3. Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

“The Star Wars franchise has been pulled between these two extremes both over time (as it responds to shifting consumer tactics and technological resources) and across media (as its content straddles between old and new media). Within the Star Wars franchise, Hollywood has sought to shut down fan fiction, later, to assert ownership over it and finally to ignore its existence; they have promoted the works of  fan video makers but also limited what kinds of movies they can make; and they have sought to collaborate with gamers to shape a massively multiplayer game so that it better satisfies player fantasies” (p. 134)

“If, as some have argued, the emergence of modern mass media spelled the doom for the vital folk culture traditions that thrived in nineteenth-century America, the current moment of media change is reaffirming the right  of everyday people to actively contribute to their culture.” (p. 132)

“With the consolidation of power represented by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, American intellectual property law has been rewritten to reflect the demands of mass media producers — away from providing economic incentives for individual artists and toward protecting the enormous economic investments media companies made in branded entertainment; away from a limited duration protection that allows ideas to enter general circulation while they still benefited the common good and toward the notion that copyright should last forever; away from the ideal of a cultural commons, and toward the ideal of intellectual property.” (p. 137)

Lawrence Lessig
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4. Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings. Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)I am wholly personally invested in the idea of Creative Commons. I am a Lessig fanboy. I release most of my creative work under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license, which allows for commercial re-use, modifications, and incorporation of my ideas into projects, as long as I’m credited, and as long as the resulting work is licensed in the same fashion. My most challenging concept is why Lucasfilm, Wil Wright, and other creators who have given great breadth of creativity to the audience in remixing and collaborating with their brands won’t consider licensing some (or most) of their work in the same way. Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think it could do great things in terms of longevity and expansion of the brands.

5. Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

Padre de Familia, Star Wars
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In what ways have you participated in Popular Culture remixing? Has anyone here modded a game, written fan fiction, mashed up a scene from Star Wars, or made a parody of mass media?

Does anyone have an example of a audience created piece of media that affected their feelings positively or negatively about the original media that inspired it?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

I feel that the ideas presented in this week’s readings are reflective of my own feelings about the topic. I feel that media that have been commercially produced are enhanced, extended, and recieve benefits from mashups and remixes. The only one who can potentially lose is the original producer who sees the remix as a threat, and who does not embrace it as a way of promoting their own brand. By attacking fans who are simply trying to celebrate the work (even in the form of a critique perhaps) you might only serve to alienate other fans.

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Two Readings for April 7th, 2009


1. Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings (3 – 5 sentences) (8pts)

Image of a horse from the Lascaux caves.
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In Walter Benjamin‘s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936) he contemplates the ways in which art as a concept, and an object is fundamentally classified by several factors, including state of uniqueness, state of originality, reproducibility, aura, method of recording, method of modifying, and effort. For instance, Benjamin argues that there is inherently greater artistic value for the viewer in seeing an original painting on canvas than there is in seeing a plate of the same painting in a magazine. He gives a stunning and interesting history of the ways in which technological advances in recording and reproduction have changed between the Lascaux cave drawings and the films of 1936.

Why the Digital Computer is Dead by Chris Chesher looks at the problematic usage of terms like digital images, computers, and analog in order to describe the tools, ideas and functions that they represent, because they are in a disconnect with the actual items or ideas, e.g. digital images may simply be digital representations of analog produced source images, such as paintings. They may also be mixtures of analog and digital ideas, such as a digitally represented word (such as Switzerland) in an analogic representative font (such as Helvetica) and trying to use a simple blanket statement to say that both ideas are part of a single concept, such as digital or analog, may be lacking. Chesher argues that the analogy of ‘invokational media’ where we call upon, or invoke, services and applications to do our bidding, may begin to bring a stronger understanding to those who use it than ‘computing’.

2. Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

The reproducibility of a creative work increases its availability while decreasing its uniquity, making it more commonplace, more accessible, and perhaps less beautiful. Theoretically, in a world of Brad Pitt clones (or xeroxed Jasper Johns paintings), anyone of any different facial appearance (or a Bruce Nauman piece) would be either a precious beauty of the highest order or a wildly interesting, though socially (or aesthetically) ugly specimen.

The original representative words for computing concepts from the 1970s are often the long lasting words that we still use today to descibe and communicate those concepts, but Chesher argues that words such as digital, analog, computer, word processor, etc. may be inadequate for representing what those ideas have grown into today, yet the words hang on as representative nomenclature.

If we can move from the idea of computer as simple tool to Chesher’s invokational media as an interface to having your every need attended to (if only you can remember the commands or URLs or click sequence) we may be able to move forward as a technological society. If we envision services as muses asked to meet our societal and cultural needs, we may do better than to simply see the machine in front of us as a hammer, but instead as a microphone with a multitude of winged listeners, awaiting our commands.

3. Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

Grave of Walter Benjamin in Portbou, Spain
Image via Wikipedia

So the digital computer is dead. I have hopefully shown that invocational media are characterised not by digitality nor computation, but by calling things up. The first order of invocation is the fetch-execute cycle. By putting command and memory into the same circuit, the invocatory device becomes invocational. The second order of the invocation is the invocationary act. Users compose invocations to do things, but in doing so depend upon avocations and invocable domains that pre-exist that event. Finally, third order invocations are the concepts invoked to hold together invocational platforms.

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Works of art are received and valued on different planes. Two polar types stand out; with one, the accent is on the cult value; with the other, on the exhibition value of the work. Artistic production begins with ceremonial objects destined to serve in a cult. One may assume that what mattered was their existence, not their being on view. The elk portrayed by the man of the Stone Age on the walls of his cave was an instrument of magic. He did expose it to his fellow men, but in the main it was meant for the spirits. Today the cult value would seem to demand that the work of art remain hidden.

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Date Visited: Sun Apr 05 2009 22:07:41 GMT-0400 (EDT)

The consequent relationship between a human and an electronic invocator is a quasi-magical refrain of the ancient cultural form of invocation. When someone utters a properly formed command, the invocator seems to respond to the user’s command. A web page is summoned. A document curls out of a laser printer. A song begins to play. The general purpose of these devices is to mediate invocations. But like the Muses, invocators are notoriously capricious, not always producing what the invoker had hoped.

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Date Visited: Sun Apr 05 2009 22:10:19 GMT-0400 (EDT)

4. Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings. Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

I felt like the reading of the Benjamin piece was gratifying and interesting, but fairly difficult to read. Wrapping my head around concepts like the significance of the original when we are living in a world with YouTube where the original can not only be identically bit-for-bit copied but also transformed into a wholly new work when combined with other original works, or the significance of the role of writer being threatened by editorials in 1936 when we have editorials in the form of comments on virtually every web site, made it far harder to think about these concepts (originality, uniqity) in modern terms.

5. Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: A man holds his hand u...
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If a painting is unique, and the film exposed in a camera is unique but the print from the film is simply a duplicate, and if Benjamin’s argument that duplicates are of lesser value than that of originals, consider the following. In the case of digital video recorded directly to memory hich can be reproduced indefinitely without any difference between the original bit sequence and any copy’s bit sequence, is the reproduced work equal in value to the original or is the original lessened in value with each reproduction?

If you were to design a new interface for what we call computing, in which Chesher’s ideal of the invokational media magical analogy was the framework, what would the invoker look like while using it, what would she be doing, what peripherals would be used, if any, and how would the invokational devices be switched on.

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

I feel like the Benjamin piece puts blogging, digital copying, and digital video in a wholly new perspective. If I pause in the creation of my :30 second clip to consider Benjamin’s thoughts on the differences between a rendering of a hand, a photo of a hand, and a film of a hand, I can take my clip from the utilitarian to the sublime by a change in angle, in light, in lens, in degree of focus, and bring about a new, deeper meaning to the clip.

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If I discard the notions of computing as we know them, disowning the concepts of digital versus analog, and simply think of the interface as a point of invokation for my needs and my bidding to be done, I may become a more powerful, more spiritual, more connected user… er. invoker.

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Reading Review for March 17th, 2009

Blogger (service)
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1.  Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings  (3 – 5 sentences)   (8pts)

Blogging: What is it, and how has it affected the media is a broad scope article on blogging, and introduction with examples, counterexamples, and some effects of blogging on extant industries like the paper press. For someone who is wholly uninitiated to blogging, it gives a nice concise history, touches on some of the conventions and important notes (ease of use, early users, creators) and discusses some statistics and trends about the phenomenon.

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog is about the history and effects of a civic blogger on the Rockville Central blog. It talks about lessons learned, issues regarding censorship, impacts vs. scale, and lots of other issues regarding a small scale, wholly volunteer endeavor in order to support civic interaction using a forcefully unbiased blog.

2.  Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

One key idea is that a blog is simply a vehicle for content. The idea that the content is released chronologically is one special thing about blogging, but for the most part blogging is simply an easy, free interface for publishing any content to the web.

One key idea is that blogging can come with great responsibility, especially if an audience is involved.

One key idea is that blogging has very little in the way of thresholds. As each of us in this class has discovered, and as the Funny thing and What is it articles reiterate, there is no cost, very little learning curve, and wild potential for returns on investment while blogging, and it can be developed into a highly powerful platform for content.

3.  Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

My first idea that blogs are simply vehicles for content is supported in the following quote from What is it:

“(Blogs are) so very malleable that people are doing with it what they want to do,” Blood said. Her blag, “Rebecca’s Pocket,” is devoted to highlighting whatever catches her attentian, including the themes of media literacy, sustainability. Web culture and domestic life. She also pasts the occasional recipe.

My idea that blogging can be a responsibility laden venture is supported by the following quote from Funny thing from one of the blog’s readers who was questioning the blogger’s unilateral control of comment publication:

‘I fully agree with the need to keep the conversation civil, but any unilateral editing of comments gives me pause. It looks like both comments that were deleted were about one particular politician. I would like to get an idea of what was being censored to determine for myself whether or not it was appropriate. I want to know I can trust that this blog really is being neutral and not protecting certain people from public scrutiny.

My idea that there is very little keeping us from blogging and making an impact is supported in Funny Thing:

You don’t need an organization to have an institution. Rockville Central is literally two people who just spend time volunteering. There is nothing official about it, no phone number to call, no office to visit. Its only real expense is its domain name—about $6 per year. Yet it is enough of an institution that the mayor and some members of the city council have chosen to release statements through it. In city council meetings, office holders as well as citizens have spoken about something they have read in Rockville Central. It is unorganized, but it is still a community stay aloof from such things while still being relevant. It is a fine line to walk, and it takes willingness to resist flattery, threat, and cajoling.

4.  Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings.  Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

One of the most difficult and challenging concepts for me is why blogging isn’t far more popular than it is. For me the allure is in the free soapbox. For me, it’s a powerful way to connect with the world, start conversations, and participate, collaborate, and pontificate. I have heard many of my classmates bemoaning the required posting in their blogs, and I’m not sure why. I can’t stop myself from posting something here, and love the opportunity to get to do something I was doing anyway as part of a grading structure. What is the resistance about?

5.  Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

1. What will the next evolution of blogging look like?

2. What is microblogging and how is it different that blogging?

3. What other major popular social networking system is Evan Williams partially responsible for, and how does it relate to blogging?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response.  (8pts)

I’m doing a paper on Twitter, which is a form of microblogging. I see the posts that we are currently doing in blogs (such as civic blogging) as increasing in frequency, decreasing in size, maintaining attention, being sized for mobility, and developing a surge in interconnectivity. I feel like blogging is becoming more secondary to some of these kinds of primary interconnectivity networks, where we find out about the blog entries through our status updates, tinyurl links, and tweets.

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Questions for Readings for Tuesday March 10th, 2009


Article #1
Please read the article How the Web Polarized Politics and blog your answers to the following questions to our class on Tuesday March 10.

1. What does the author mean by political polarization?

The author is referring to the (possibly related to technology) move away from bipartisan or collective politics (e.g central, rather than to the right or left) to hard edged black and white, us vs. them politics. The phrase specifically refers to people moving further towards liberalism or conservatism in polar, diametrically opposed ways.

LONDON - FEBRUARY 12:  Queen Elizabeth II shak...
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2. What are your thought about the statement, “Governments feel they are royalty to some degree”?

I feel that this is but one example of a highly biased and unfounded view shown throughout the article. How can someone make such an unfouded, unsupported statement with such broad strokes? What part of the government are we talking about? Congress? Justices? The President? Post Office workers? Does it suggest that they are partial to robes? The Justices might be. I did not find this article to be especially grounded in scholarly backing or research, or especially supported in terms of facts. The author was likely thinking of specific examples when writing this, but I did not see those examples (the means) being represented, only the seemingly biased conclusion (the ends).

The author also says “I don’t see too many blogs on Government web sites.” Maybe the author needs to look at more sites. Ewing, NJ’s own municipal site, for instance, is running a blog (WordPress) and benefits from many of its blogging features.

3. Do you agree/disagree with the statement, “We’ve literally experienced an information tsunami-but more information does not mean better decisions”? Why?

I strongly and heartily disagree. Here is another of those seemingly biased examples, in which information overload and ultra simplification or polarization is the most likely possibility explored, whereas with proper filtering, datashaping, search engines, stream combination and filters, e.g. the right tools, the tsunami turns into a Las Vegas style fountain light show, with choreographed streams of information going just where they should, just when they should, and the inscalable wall of data gets beautful doors and windows.

4. The author states that “the very technology that is meant to solve problems merely makes people more emotional-not more reasonable”. Give an example of a real life digital convergence that can be viewed to make people more emotional.

An example of a real life digital convergence that can be viewed to make people more emotional is the ability to be inspired, become passionate, have a shareable idea, script it, record it, broadcast it, podcast it, put it on you tube, where people (friends, strangers, kings) get it downloaded to their phone, and your ideas get to the people who were most meant to hear them. I can give more examples of ways technology does solve problems, the ways it allows some people to share emotion, the ways it can help those same people to share reason. This article really just felt like an outright attack on the possibilities of technology to change things for the better, which is one of the places in which I see the most potential for it.

Article #2
Please read the article Digital Future of the United States: Part 1–the Future of
the World Wide Web and blog your answers to the following questions to our class on Tuesday March 10.

1. The Web has been a platform for the creation of a wide and unanticipated variety of services. Name one of the commercial services and how you apply the service to your daily/weekly routine.

Just one? That’s tough. I use Google services all day long. The first thing I do when I wake in the morning is to check my gmail account, my google calendar events, and might do a search on Google’s search engine in order to research a problem in one of the emails. I do this on my G1, a phone running Google’s Android operating system. Then later in the day, I might use Google News or Google Reader to find out what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in the technology sector, look at new devices and services, and discover the latest blog posts from my friends and favorite bloggers. I might use Google Maps or Google Earth to discover how to get to an appointment to present somewhere I’ve never been before. I will likely use Google Docs in order to actually give the presentation rather than having to rely on a USB key or email to carry the presentation with me. Then, I might record my presentation at the event in video und upload it to Google’s YouTube service. I would say that amongst all of the services I use daily, Google’s are the most prominent in my use.

2. What does the author mean by “Semantic Web”? How does this effect the future of convergence?

The Semantic Web is defined very nicely at but in a nutshell, the Semantic web is the next evolution of the way the web will work. The Sematic Web is a vision in which all of our data, our calendars, our photos, our documents, our media, our posts, our videos, our address books, our accounts, and everything else (our data) will be aware of each other and interactive. As a result, when we add something to one of our services, such as youtube, it might affect all of our other services. If the data is available from youtube about the geolocation where the video was taken, it might let Google Maps know that a video was taken at that spot, it might mark Google Calendar with the creation and upload dates of the video, and it might create a snapshot from the first frame of the video and upload it to flickr. All of my friends on each of these services might be alerted to all of the new information automatically. This will all be possible becuase of the way that the data is encapsulated, tagged, and accessible. We aren’t there yet, but it’s not science fiction… it’s happening.

3. The future of the web has created substantial privacy challenges which are barely addressed by our current privacy laws. What are your thoughts on new data integration? Is the thought of this legal?

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I don’t understand the question fully. My thought is that data is currently integrated in many ways, and we are continuing to trend towards more and more integration. I see it as a good thing to be able to have my data shared, open, and interactive. I make choices about what I make public and what I make private, and I doubt that I will lose that ability, because services that insisted that you give up your privacy will likely be opted out of by users. An example is Google’s service that allows you to share your geolocation using your phone’s GPS. You can choose to turn it on or off. You can choose to share it with everyone, no one, or 3 people. You can turn it off at any time. Many are saying that it is the beginning of the end of privacy, but since you can choose what’s private, I don’t see it that way. The thought of data integration is legal, if I understand the question correctly. Sir Berners-Lee is no criminal.

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Reading Review and Journal (for February 24th)


1. Topic for your final Paper

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How Google is making us brilliant; how Google, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other tools like these will allow us all to achieve higher collective intelligence on several layers and at several axes.

2. Thesis for your final paper. It is the central idea you would like to present in your final paper. The more specific the better. Please make sure to demonstrate how your thesis is related to the Internet and digital media convergence concepts, theories, or models we have covered in our class.

Google provides an interface to a growing collection of collective knowledge, which with proper training, can be tapped efficiently to help solve any problem that has been previously solved and shared. Twitter allows you to ask the world a question, and get 1,000 answers in an instant. Facebook allows for us all to interconnect on a visual verbal basis, actively or passively, allowing for a more comprehensive look at each other’s (constructed) profiles and provides a way to grasp deeper socio-emotional connections with others. Blogs allow us to quickly produce our own pieces of collective intelligence, feeding Google all the while, providing new fodder for Facebook and Twitter, and generally increasing the amount of known published knowledge with each post.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
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3. Two articles (academic or professional) that you would like to use in your paper.

Ivana Marenzi, Elena Demidova, & Wolfgang Nejdl. (2008, June 30). DSpace at Open Universiteit Nederland: LearnWeb 2.0. Integrating Social Software for Lifelong Learning. DSpace at Open Universiteit Nederland: LearnWeb 2.0. Integrating Social Software for Lifelong Learning. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from

L. Johnson, A. Levine, & R. Smith. (n.d.). 2009 Horizon Report. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from

Readwriteweb, S. P. (2009, January 30). How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook…Safely. The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from

Stone, B., & Stelter, B. (2009, February 19). Facebook Withdraws Changes in Data Use. The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2009, from

4. Brief summary of the two articles.

LearnWeb 2.0. Integrating Social Software for Lifelong Learning provides a theoretical framework that focuses on the sublime ability for social networks and technology services to enhance learning. This article brings to light some of the ways in which social networks can be particularly utilized in supporting and enhancing teaching and learning. This is in stark contrast to the idea promoted in “Is Google Making us Stupid?”

The 2009 Horizon Report is a yearly prediction of the ways in which current and emerging technologies will affect teaching, learning, and society in general. It is a strikingly accurate and thoroughly enjoyable read for a technologist who has faith in the ways in which technology can help us change for the better.

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The two New York Times articles focus on Facebook. One describes best practices for information sharing for the new user, how to avoid the pitfalls of sharing the wrong information or sharing it in the wrong way. The other article speaks about the recent flap in which Facebook changed its terms of service (TOS) to indicate that the content that users add to the system belonged solely to the company forever. A blog post on The Consumerist brought the change light and public scrutiny, and Facebook quickly reverted to its previous TOS language. This speaks to the concepts of collective intelligence, bottom up media vs. top down media, information ownership, and others that help define Digital media convergence.

5. Brief discussion about how the two articles are related to your thesis.

The LearnWeb 2.0 article shows a framework that could potentially exemplify my thesis that learning is enhanced and magnified with the proper application of Social networking tools.

The 2009 Horizon Report defines a long list of technologies and the ways in which they will theoretically affect learning spaces, learners, teaching, distance learning, mobile learners, portable media in learning, and other aspects of gathering and gaining intelligence.

An example of a social network diagram.
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The two New York Times articles on Facebook will help to bring to light issues regarding the broad increase in information sharing and the relevant importance of guiding new users to use the systems properly. It also helps to show the blurry line that exists between producer, consumer, content owner, intellectual property owner, and privacy in the shared online space.

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Week 4 reading review (for February 17th, 2009)

1.  Provide a quick over view or summary of the readings  (3 – 5 sentences)   (8pts)

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Is Google Making us Stupid talks about the idea that the way in which we gather information now is changing our ability to process information; it suggests that we are becoming less capable of processing deeper, longer works, and instead skimming along the surface of ideas, jumping from link to link, but never quite diving in.

Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? discusses the ways in which blogging is giving voice to progressive politics while potentially further quieting the voices of more disconnected, rural, and uneducated people.

The ‘podcastWhy Podcasting Matters for your Organization (which is not actually a podcast in the form it was delivered) argues that no matter what your role, business, segment, or product that podcasting should be either a part of your campaign as a direct tool for building an audience or as a way of reaching someone else’s target audience as an advertiser. It also talks about the simplicity with which a podcast can be created, using simple free tools, a basic understanding of RSS feeds, and a hosted space for delivery.

2.  Clearly Identify what you feel are 3 key ideas in the readings (8pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the key idea is that avid users of the service and others like it, as well as active users of the internet in general are having their minds and mental processes changed in the same way that the printing press, television, and other mediums have changed our expectations and interpretation of content. This author in particular is seeing a negative loss of the ability to comprehend and analyze deeper messages such as those found in reading tomes like War and Peace. Personally, I feel that the new skills and the old skills are both still necessary, and will greatly intermingle as we become more comfortable with the new skills societally.

War and Peace 1st part soviet poster
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In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the key point being delivered is that we need to continue to work to include those currently excluded from the new media, such as the uneducated, the rurally located, and those who are choosing to exclude themselves from new mediums at their own peril. Otherwise, we are simply making the audience for more traditional media (television, radio, newspaper) more segmented and only half-aware of the up to the second truths being delivered in the new media.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the main point is that podcasting is not just only for digitally oriented businesses, schools, and individuals, but for everyone, in the same way that blogging isn’t just for the “digerati” or “blogerati” but rather for everyone as both producer, consumer, and everywhere in between.

3.  Support your summary and/or key points with three specific references to the readings (7pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the author quotes a study that provides some evidence for the idea that our minds are changing as a result of using the internet:

It is clear that readers are not reading online in the traditional sense; indeed there are signs that new forms of ‘reading’ are emerging as users ‘power browse’ horizontally through titles, contents pages, and abstracts going for quick wins. It almost seems like they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense.

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the author poses the issues we encounter by seeing blogs as a true vox populi:

At a time when the visible digital divide may be shrinking as increasing numbers of Americans come online, it may be replaced by an invisible version that benefits those who are well

XO with Internet connection, Khairat (India)
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educated, well connected and organized.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the author talks very specifically about the idea that everybody should be podcasting, no matter how large or small their audience, no matter their intent. Click to hear the excerpt from the assignment that exemplifies this idea:

Excerpt from Audio assignment.

4.  Identify the most difficult or challenging concept for you from this week’s readings.  Saying “I don’t know” or “nothing was difficult” is not an adequate response. (8pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the author makes broad assumptions about users of the new media, and I always tend to bristle at the idea that any two people are the same, much less an entire society. The most difficult concept here for me is believing that technology can have dramatically negative effects when my own experience has been so much a means to the opposite ends.

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the most difficult concept for me is getting my mind around how we can invite diversity into the blogosphere. I personally have found that if someone doesn’t want to blog, sees a blog as a specific thing that is immobile in its definition, or if they don’t see their own view as publishable material, they simply won’t blog.  I also already have some white male guilt, so the fact that I’m such an avid blogger makes me feel like I’m somehow doing something wrong by adding to the statistic, and I don’t feel like I should feel guity for participating.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the most difficult concept for me was wondering how to help people get past the ideas of RSS, hosting, and media production in the execution of podcasts. I’ve tried many times, but the nomenclature, familiarity, and technology get in the way.

Koenig's 1814 steam-powered printing press
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5.  Provide 2 or 3 discussion questions for us to talk about in class (6pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the end of the article talks about how Gutenberg’s press, and even the typewriter have had a similar mind altering effect on the authors. With this in mind, would we be better off as a society without either of those things in the long term, or are we in the short evolutional space where using tools like Google are relatively awkward because we are SO new to them?

In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the idea that diversity needs to be introduced to blogging; just because anybody can blog doesn’t mean everyone will blog. How can we get the heretofore unheard voices and unpublished thoughts into the blogosphere so that we can enjoy a more complete cultural view?

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization the idea is introduced that podcasting has such a low threshold of entry that anyone can do it. Why isn’t everyone doing it?

6. Discuss how this week’s readings might relate to your upcoming presentation, paper or to the “real world.” Here too, saying “I don’t know” or “it does not apply” is not an adequate response.  (8pts)

In Is Google making us stupid? the concepts have strengthened my view that technology is a tool like fire, a hammer, or a calculator. It can be used to smash, burn, and cheat, or it can be used to cook a wonderful palate changing meal, build the most magnificent palace, or help us determine the calculations to send humans to Mars.

Manager of Mars Explor...
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In Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics? the charge is made that we are not doing enough to bring the diverse voice to the mic, and that we are not doing enough to create an audience for the myriad of bloggers that already exist. I’d argue that in past mediums, and in life itself, that media and species evolve according to the fitness of the species, the ability of the medium to transform content into audience thought, and a masterful execution. I think that it will work out in the end, somehow, and that we should stop worrying and just blog, already.

In Why Podcasting Matters for your Organization we learn that everyone should be using these tools. As an advocate of this idea, I know from experience that wanting others to use the technology isn’t enough. It has to be useful for them, it has to be easy to use, it has to be seen as a common practice, it has to be supported, and there has to be an intrinsic reward. Otherwise, consider it forced.

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