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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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.

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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.

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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)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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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.

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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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Week 3 Reading Review and Questions

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

Jenkins’ chapter on Spoiling Survivor went to great lengths to describe the new interplay and blurred roles between producer and consumer, and how each influences, plays with, and sometimes frustrates the other with their new interactions on discussion boards, fan sites, and conferences. Bill Hilf‘s article on the reinvention of the World Wide Web talks about the ease with which we analyze and plan new medium with the limitations of the old in mind, and the ways in which that can bring the limits of the precedent media in new forms to the ‘successor’ medium. Hilf goes on to talk about how the advent (now current practice) of semantic web building through XML and the DOM will allow for new, not yet imagined mediums to reuse and make portable existing content that has traditionally been locked together with the medium and fixed to it (inked words and page, exposed film and images, etc).

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

1. Consumers and producers roles are becoming increasingly convergent and interactive.

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2. Thinking of new media in terms of its relationship and similarity of old media is tempting, but we should resist the urge, as it may color our interpretation of the new media.

3. Choosing highly structured ways to encapsulate content will allow for the automated and spontaneous use of it in not yet imagined media formats which will make use of them.

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

Jenkins described the online spoiling activities of ChillOne, firstly a consumer of the show Survivor, secondly a producer of insider information about the show, and thirdly an expert because of his personal relationships with people who had information about the show. Jenkins contrasted this with Mark Burnett, an actual producer of the show, who watched the online spoiling discussions, actively worked to throw out misinformation about the show he knew to not be true, and therefore participated as a producer and consumer in the spoiling community. Burnett was an expert in that he had first hand knowledge of the show’s production. Both ChillOne and Burnett were part of a collective intelligence that participated in creating a collective truth that may or may not be the actual reality.

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Hilf indicated that looking at the internet simply as an extension of television, or seeing the internet as a black box where radio, television, and all other media are replaced and converged is too simple a way of looking at things, and also negates the other possibilities of what the Internet can be. By focusing mostly on what comes before, we may have blinders that block innovations in media that eclipse what the previous mediums were capable of.

XML and the DOM will allow highly structured content, such as news stories, blog posts, and other data to be easily connected with other related data, and also be far more portable in the future. For example, if blogging goes the way of traditional web sites, the content in those blog posts will be much easier to move to new mediums and destinations because the content was built using XML structures and the DOM, which will provide an easy path to a new destination, placing the actual content in the new system unaltered, but changing the look, feel, handling, treatment, and usability. An exampe is when highly structured content in a blog post is automatically reformatted for a cell phone browser. That’s a function of XML, CSS, and the DOM.

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 feel that as more and more work is done by large production companies to prevent their ideas from being unearthed and their productions from being interfered with (the Big Brother tennis balls) it makes it far more difficult for the comanies to stay focused on the entertainment’s quality because all of the distractions. Also, I feel like the fan community and spoiler community which is arguably a production company of its own becomes less and less able to produce effectively, because of the imposed restrictions of the primary production company. I feel like this situation needs mediation, but I don’t think that it will be easy to arrange, nor likely to occur.

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

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Who in the class participates in a spoiler style community, and in what ways does it affect the producer in the relationship?

Can anyone explain some of the benefits of XML markup and Cascading Style Sheets?

Do you belong to any groups that act as a production company? Is your office a production company of sorts?

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)

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I feel like my interactions on Netflix, Facebook, my blogs, LinkedIn, and Flickr all have a potential effect on those or other creative communities. Spoiling Survivor goes into the details about just one of those relationships. On my beer blog, for example, I’ve often had the opportunity to speak with Brewers about their brews, gotten compliments on my photography, gotten critiques of my critiques, and met quite a few people who are interested in the same things I am.  I’m both producer and consumer, interacting with both producers and consumers of the content, the object (beer, photography, writing, etc.). The Hilf article talks about how because of the way in which I’m publishing, the content I’m creating becomes part of the Semantic Web, is auto-related to other content, highly portable and re-useable, and won’t be stuck when and if blogging dies sometime in the future in the same way that static web sites are now.

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