Finding Utility in the Jumble of Tweeted Thoughts –


But taken collectively, the stream of messages can turn Twitter into a surprisingly useful tool for solving problems and providing insights into the digital mood. By tapping into the world’s collective brain, researchers of all kinds have found that if they make the effort to dig through the mundane comments, the live conversations offer an early glimpse into public sentiment — and even help them shape it.

via Finding Utility in the Jumble of Tweeted Thoughts –


Critique of Urban Geography (Debord)


It has long been said that the desert is monotheistic. Is it illogical or devoid of interest to observe that the district in Paris between Place de la Contrescarpe and Rue de l’Arbalète conduces rather to atheism, to oblivion and to the disorientation of habitual reflexes?

via Critique of Urban Geography (Debord).

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...
Image via Wikipedia

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
Image via Wikipedia

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
Image by seiho via Flickr

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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A Brief History of the Status Message


Every time you change your status on instant messenger or send a tweet, you’re taking advantage of the simplicity and power

Mundu IM status messages
Image by BigBlue via Flickr

of status updates. How did status updates begin and how have they evolved since their first iterations?

For a brief historical analysis of how the status update as we currently know it has evolved from an early form of instant messaging in the 60s to the multifaceted, rich-media update of today, we’ll take you back in time and highlight some of the important milestones as short-form messages transitioned from static to status.

via A Brief History of the Status Message.

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10 papers you need to read | Science for SEO

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Here’s a list of resources about how information retrieval works. Considering our conversation last night about invocational media and devices and the use of Google searches to illustrate the concept, I thought this might be interesting to classmates, if a bit avocational. hehe.

This is a list of my top 10 freely available papers on the topic of information retrieval.  You will notice that they are rather old, but the techniques used described and the findings are not always dated.  Those that dated are important nonetheless because they provide a good foundation to understanding why things are as they are in information retrieval these days.

Source: 10 papers you need to read | Science for SEO from retrieved on Wed Apr 08 2009 09:45:36 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

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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.
Image via Wikipedia

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.

Address : <>
Date Visited: Sun Apr 05 2009 22:05:39 GMT-0400 (EDT)

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.

Address : <>
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.

Address : <;
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...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

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.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

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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