October 2008 Archives

SNSG 13-wow, this book is getting interesting at last

| | Comments (1)
"censorship can take many forms, including:

-demanding prior approval of content by an advisor, publication board, administration, or others" SNSG 120

Ahh, the legal issue, Right away a memory stirred. I think in Newswriting, Dr Jerz spoke of a student we had here that wrote an article about how we didn't need a football team and he got threatened?

I always wondered though, if there was a different in censorship between public and private universities. I definately am glad that I picked a private school over a public one. I would hate having lecture classes and no time to consult professors. But the things that happen at my sister's school would never ever fly here. Just the other week, there was a huge protest over a radical group that visits the school every year and preaches hatred towards homosexuals. I'm not saying that the school in any way advocates what the people were saying-but the constitution allows them to say what they want. My point is, our unviersity has a different code of conduct and I don't believe they would allow a group that preaches intolerance to visit campus-after all, how would fanning hatred benefit the student body? It also allows the students to stag a huge protest. The codes of conduct are different at public and private schools. The rules are much looser in many areas of public universities-that's why they have police forces the size of regular town forces.

Use my story as an allegory of sorts. Depending on where you are, there will be different sets of rules. However, if you feel strongly that a story needs to be told for the good of the university, despite the fact that others would get angry or offended, by all means pursue it. Call attention to campus problems-just do it professionally and don't submit what is essentially a rant and call it an editorial.

I think the section on newspaper theft is a little irrelevant, since students here can take as many copies as they'd like. I can understand if a whole large section dissapears, because printing is costly. But if students want to take a ton of copies to read and distribute, don't charge a price.

Libel and slander-just don't open your big mouth and accusing people without suffcient evidence. Rumors and gossip are not reliable stories. You should generally always consult a person before you print a story about them, but chances are if it deals with a defamatory statement, they won't want to talk about it. Where do you go from there? That would be the time to discuss with the editor-in-chief if some more investigative reporting should be done.

Chances are, my cartoons are never going to get me sued. Sure, they're sarcastic and all, but I'm really just twisiting what the media or someone else has already said. The McCain/Bread cartoon-how many of us felt the election campaign was getting ridiculous. The bailout cartoon-admit it, Disney does own a good portion of the world. And the newest one-well, who isn't tired of the phrase "Joe the Plumber"?. Satire-yes. Offensive-hardly.

Obsenity is a grey area. The law gives a definition of obsenity, but the term is sort of subjective. I think a lot of things are obsene that others don't.

 



Holy time consuming, Batman

| | Comments (1)
Well, Flash is definately the most relevant tool we've learned this semester. However, it eats up so much of your time.

The downside to nearly completing one major in two years is that I haven't had a lot of exposure to the same types of programs as the rest of the class has. Though I must say that having Inform 7 a month prior to Writing for the Internet was a blessing in disguise.

Flash takes a lot of precise steps. They are pretty straightforward. But god help you if you screw up. Sometimes you'll save more time by starting over. That's what I did with the fading slideshow. That whole alpha step messed me up and I couldn't remember which keyframes I hadn't touched.

But I got through it. And someone, I'm going to survive the rest of this major.

I wouldn't say I'm getting "senioritis" a year and a half early, but in many ways I am looking forward to the end of the semester. I've driven myself up the wall for 4 semesters now. I'd like to relax now.

Flash animation

| | Comments (0)

IF Game-Slouching Towards Bedlam

| | Comments (1)
Slouching Towards Bedlam

Even in the first couple of minutes of play, there are so many choices over what to do. There were so many thing to examine that I had to make a list:

  • -desk blotter
  • -sandlewood box
  • -desk drawer
  • -phonograph
  • -black box on wheels

in examining the blotter, I discovered that a possible "key" to the game rests on finding "the mechanical assistant left by my predecessor". But these words are coming from the phonograph.

Instead of a standard response that says "drawer cannot be opened", I got a response that was as if I was hearing the character's thoughts-which happen to be narrating the entire story. Turns out that that voice is still from the phonograph.

It took me a while to figure out that the tin cylinders in the box were to be played on a phonograph. I was picturing three tin canisters for storing small items.

So from what I gathered from playing the cylinders, the previous superintendent was murdered (implied). The man speaking on the recordings is not sure if promoted is the right word to describe his new position. Perhaps doomed is a better one.

So from listening to the cylinders in order, I think a patient has gone crazy or the man has gone crazy himself. Maybe "her work is everywhere" refers to Bedlam as a whole; maybe the phrase refers to what being in the asylum does to people.

The conversation with the man at the desk, James, is weird because he speaks in a series of broken phrases meant to me a response to what I, the character, am saying. Here is a sample conversation.

"The dim light glinting off the small badge he wears-James-assistant
/(livinggrowthfrictionfurtherspreadingouttowardsstretchingyestouchingyes)\"

excuse me for using an AIM phrase, but WTF???

so I have no what the point of that conversation was supposed to be. Next I went west towards one of the sets of gates and west again into the circular chamber. Nothing too eventful happened here.

I went back to the lobby to see if talking with James was more coherent. Evidently, I was in some sort of accident, because James thinks I'm disoriented and haven't quite recovered yet

Now I go into the archives, but there's not much to do here except examine. I'm now losing interest, since all that has happened is some fragmented background information and exposition

The cab in the courtyard frustrated me. I could not seem to word a phrase correctly. He couldn't understand what I was saying.

So I went southeast, and I'm in some place called Moorsfield (town Bedlam is in?). The weird speaking from my initial conversation with James has returned. Perhaps me/the doctor is crazy himself.

/(yesbackhideyesnowonlyhide)\-I think the doctor may be a schizo. I guess I'm not well enough yet to go out into the public, because Reggie the driver pulls me back into the Bedlam courtyard.

And now I'm back where I started, because I've examined all the other places (I think). I kept hitting a button above my browser that keeps re-setting the game. Now I see where I missed something. I had to lift the blotter up to reveal a key underneath.

There is a manual in the desk drawer on how to operate the Triage machine (what I assume is the black box on wheels). The device is extremely intricate and complicated.

I guess that obtaining the rod allowed me to turn on the box, which I think is in the "analyze" mode. However, I don't know how to use it, and the manual isn't really helping me. I don't know where to go from here.

I am assuming that this game takes hours to complete, because I'm at the hour and a half mark. I don't even know how close I am to the end.



Grazia a dio, sono libera finalmente

| | Comments (1)
Krug 9-11

"people often test to decide which color drapes are best, only to learn they forgot to put windows in the room" 132

The great thing about usability testing is that you often get more useful feedback than you expected. While testing one section, the user may discover an entirely different problem with the site. for instance, I had no trouble theoretically booking a Greyhound ticket last November (when I had forgotten to buy my train ticket). I did not expect my test user to be told they had to physically go down to the station to obtain their ticket. -This is a serious convenience issue.

"after you've worked on a site for even a few weeks, you can't see it freshly anymore. You know too much...you realize that a lot of things that you take for granted aren't obvious to everybody" 133-4

"it's usually not a good idea to design a site so that only your target audience can use it" 140

We have others proof-read our papers because we see our work through a different lense. Sometimes, we think that what we wanted to say is clear. Your brain might think that a point or concept is in the paper, clear to you because the connection is already in your mind. But, others cannot look inside your head, so they may not understand what you were trying to accomplish. Our minds can blind us, which is why we had that feedback session two weeks ago. You are not the only one who will be using your website, so you'd better find out what other people need clarification on.

"use it yourself, then watch one or two other people use them and see what works and what doesn't" 144

I chose for my usability test two website that I had used before and continually had problems on. Essentially, I was comparing my own usability experience with that of my two test users. I wanted to see if they had the same issues with the websites as I did. If we all had the same kinds of problems, then maybe the webmasters  need to do a re-evaluation/design.

"some sites hide pricing information in hopes of getting users so far into the process that they'll feel vested in it by the time they experience the "sticker shock" " 164

Like oh-so-many used book sites. Sometimes, the relief that I found the right addition makes up for the fact that the book turns out to only be $5 dollars cheaper, and will arrive later than the book if purchased from amazon. The shipping costs are hidden until the end. The customer is already invested in the product if they've made it to the last step. What's one more? With a sigh, we click the "purchase item" button.

"Be upfront about anything you'd rather not be upfront about...you'll gain enough points for candor and for making it easy for me to make up the difference" 166

Especially if I am comparing prices. I want to have an easier time backtracking. I'd rather visit a price page than go through the entire pruchasing process and stop at the fianl step to review. Like buying a car, customers are not likely to buy the first one they see. There are many sites on the internet offering the same product. We browse before buying. A site that makes the experience easier for the customer will spread in popularity. It doesn't matter if another site has the product for cheaper-it also may be more of a hassle. Convienience is a cornerstone of e-shopping. The Amtrak ticket may be more expensive, but at least all you have to do is click a few buttons to get the ticket instead of getting in your car and burning up gas to physically purchase one at the bus station.

"If your site's not clear to begin with, making it Bobby compliant is like [insert your favorite putting-lipstick-on-a-pig metaphor here]" 175

BOBBY compliance isn't that hard -- it basically means "no flash navigation, please make your site with good contrast between letters and backgrounds, and please add tags to your images.

"Bobby" ,to me, means no extra, unnecessary additions, like Flash slideshows that do nothing to inform the users. Make the site clearer by adding helpful aids like tags and spacking/coloring text effectively. But, if the site is unclear to begin with (format/content wise), you are just tweaking, and putting window dressing on top. The appearance of clarity is misleading. The user shouldn't be surprised when they click on a link and are bombared with a millions different articles and additional links that are ambiguous.

"a single change in the style sheet can change the appearance of an entire site" 178

Well if that isn't the comment of the year, I don't know what it. Often, the entire time I was trying to figure out why an HTML commnad wasn't working, the problem was in the stylesheet. Many times, the issue of an extra space caused the text to format incorrectly. A missing quotation mark voids an entire command. One simple backspace or addition can magically turn the site into what you intended it to be.

Stylesheets kind of infuriate me.

Krug....I finished this book today

| | Comments (2)
Krug 7-8

wow, I just did a week's worth of HW in one day.

"Just when you think you've covered all the bases, there's always just one...more...thing" 95

We learned this through our website presentations last week. It was evident that everyone had spent a significant amount of time on their sites and was satisfied with the product. But when we spend too long working on a project, our vision becomes clouded. we skip over things. Though I did the week's homework today, it is certainly not ready to be turned in. I did everything in one shot, so it's to be expected that I missed some things. Revisiting your site after taking a break and usability testing will help you see those areas you forgot. The original site I created (the IF games one) had no links to the homepage on the sub-pages. I can't believe I made a stupid mistake like that. But these things happen. Others just might have to point them out to you.

"and given the tendency of most users to scan down the page just far enough to find an interesting link, the comparatively small amount of space "above the fold" on the Home page is choice waterfront property" 97

people.com is an excellent example. The most important.new stories are in the top left corner. As you scroll down, the material gets older: under the newest stories are day-old stories. Under that is a section that includes the week's most read stories. 

"If it's not clear to me what I'm looking at in the first few seconds, interpreting everything else on the page is harder, and the chances are greater that I'll misinterpret something and get frustrated" 99

have you ever mis-typed the address of facebook by one letter. You're led to this weird website. I can't honestly say what it's purpose is. The home page is ambiguous. A website should never be this confusing.

"for most sites, there's no need to use a lot of space to convey the basic proposition" 103

I got several comments from our website evaluation last week about the fact that I did not have information spread out across the entire page. I know that personally, text spread out across the entire page is tedious to read and off-putting. There's no need to fill up unused space with ads and other things that don't add value.

"Make entry points look like entry points" 107

Never make a picture a link unless there is a sentence telling the user to "click here." But doesn't that defeat the purpose.

"But what they really hate is Flash used badly: large, complicated animations that take a long time to download and don't add any value" 129

I hated that as of two weeks ago, the Flash video on Nike's homepage consisted of a panning view of shoes set to music. There was no real purpose. There were no words telling the user the name of the shoes, what they do, what makes them special, etc. It was as if someone filmed their closet. The video didn't even market anything specific. That is what annoys me about Flash. That, and the fact that takes forever to create a Flash video. 3 hours=1 1/2 minute animation.

What happened to "an hour of homework for every hour in class?".grrrrr...whatever, at least its done.


ehh

| | Comments (0)
Flash

Well that was certainly a tedious three hours.

By far the most frustrating part of exercise 5 was when I went to go and program the buttons, only to discover that I had created the entire movie in the wrong format (3.0). The instructions in the book only worker for 1.0 and 2.0,, so I had to go back and re-create everything.

Like HTML, flash isn't difficult so much as it is time consuming. I completed all the exercises and tuesday's assignment in a time frame that seemed to last forever. I was kicking myself for the whole wrong format deal.

I used to wonder why the "Potter Puppet Pals" only came out with a cartoon a year. Now I know why they switched to real puppets. One simple minute long cartoon (tuesday's assignment) took hours to make. And I didn't even have the characters move. All they do is talk.

I'm definately not doing a flash cartoon for my final project like I originally proposed. I don't have the time or the patience. Give me an entire week where all I had to do was work on the cartoon, sure. But I have other classes.

I see the potential for Flash to be beneficial in our field. For once, I'm not working through a program thinking "this is pointless." 

I never understood how they make money

| | Comments (2)
EOJ 10-12

"can a dotcom owner make money through Internet advertising?" 42

"some sit owners prefer to use hits rather than click throughs" 43

"advertisers can pick several keywords that their target customers might use and then display their ads every time those words are used in the search" 44

My uncle is a major web marketer. (In fact, he's one of those people responsible for pop-up ads). I never understood how he made money. All I knew is that he sat at his computer in his home office for most of the workday, and can afford to live in an ocean-front home in Daytona Beach. I finally asked him about his job once, and this is what he told me:

"I deal with ads on web pages. Companies pay websites to host ads. Every time a person comes from the origin website to the product website, it is assumes that this will result in bigger revenue for the product website.

It is assumed that if a person clicks on an ad, they are going to be converted into a customer. I never understood how sites like google and youtube have made billionaires out of their creators. I mean, both the services they offer are free: but, since both sites are extremely popular, the dotcoms see users as a marketing demographic. Millions of people use google and youtube every day. I was already on both before 11 am. Even the facebook creator is rich.

The google setup is genius. Each keyword =$$$, because the preferred and assumed sequence is:

keyword: wine--->Napa Valley wine ad----->Napa Valley site--->online purchase.

I don't know about everyone else, but I can count the times I've clicked on an online ad on one hand. I tend to ignore them, so the whole internet billionaire thing is still a grey area with me.
This is how I see it: theoretically, the ads should translate to bigger revenue for the companies. But, how many people just click and then leave? I still don't really get it.

I mean, each time a product is sold, shouldn't some profits go to the ad hoster? That seems logical.

But from how I see it and how the book explained it, the hoster profits come just when a person clicks on the ad, regardless of whether they actually buy anything. (???)

 




SNSG 12, 16-Photo/Design

| | Comments (0)
SNSG 12, 16

"photojournalism is about seizing moments, about showing readers what writers try to-and sometimes can't-describe" 106

Photos have the ability to capture the emotion on people's faces, their reactions to the world. Print can only tell us about events, whereas photos share. Seeing a moment captured makes the event seem more real. In our history, there have been events so gruesome that mankind can hardly believe they actually happened. Photojournalism shocks the world awake. Reading about the Holocaust is horrible enough, but viewing those camp photos brings the humanity to the issue. Photos are reality. Print is an explanation of that reality.

"photojournalists need sensitivity and intuition to find these moments" 106

Just as when interviewing a victim, the journalist needs to handle the situation with care. If the photographer is too in-the-face of a victim, the victim could possibly get violent. Grieving people do not need another added stress factor. Stand back from the situation and shoot; don't sit next to the victim and point the lense in their face. You do not want to interrupt at all. Just let the emotion flow and shoot from a distance.

"you want to capture life as it unfolds, not as you want it to look" 106

This quote reminds me of an assignment from Black and White photography. The subject for our final portfolio was people. We were not allowed to give the people instructions and had to shoot them as they lived their lives. I completed my assignment by keeping the camera near me at all times that week. Whenever one of my friends would start laughing (my angle was "laughter") I'd pull the camera out of the bag and quickly shoot. The photos captured the moments in real time. There was no imitation. It's a shame I never got those pictures back. What made them so compelling was the reality, the sincerity. Poses are for fashion magazines.

"though digital photography offers myriad opportunities for manipulating images, resist the temptation"

I actually had a person come up to me and say, "that class is useless now. Photoshop is more valuable." I've never used Photoshop or any photo-editing tool, but I know what it can do. Photoshop can completely alter reality, and construct a fake one. The Weekly World News does this in every issue. They print ridiculous stories with "realistic" looking photographs. Despite the subject matter, some people do believe these stories. WWN makes a mockery of everything real journalists value. But is that the point?

Do you really want to give people that much power to manipulate reality? 

"news happens, even on a seemingly sleepy college campus" 107

Well, after Wednesday's events, we all know this to be true. I'd love to see if anyone took pictures of the protestors, especially the little children holding up the anti-abortion signs.


Driving around and never getting anywhere

| | Comments (0)
Krug 4-6

"I think it's safe to say that users don't mind a lot of clicks as long as each click is painless and they have continued confidence that they're on the right track" 41

"people won't use your Web site if they can't find their way around it" 51

There's nothing I hate more than digging a deeper and deeper hole. During a website evaluation for another class, we had to find listed items with no guidelines. I think I spent a good half an hour trying to find the mission statement. Why? because I had no idea where to begin. Was it under "about the company"? Sort of. After clicking on about company, I began clicking on more links. The mission statement was at least 8 clicks away from the sub-category. There was a lot of unnecessary digging involved. I had no idea that I was even on the right track-the category labels were so ambiguous that I was guessing about 95% of the time. It sort of reminded me of this past summer where I drove around Lancaster city trying to find a gas station (by the way, there are no gas stations in Lancaster City). There was no rhyme or reason-I just kept driving.

"the decision whether to start browsing or searching depends on their current frame of mind, how much of a hurry they're in, and whether the site appears to have decent browsable navigation" 55

I use the search function only if I have no idea what category I should look under (on non-book sites). The site should be so easily navigatable (spelling?) that the search button should be a last resort. Of course, sometimes the search function can be a quick fix, especially when trying to find a back story on a newspaper site. I browse people.com because I'm reading it for leisure, to pass time. When I heard about the $8 million drug bust in my hometown last friday, I searched yahoo immediately. The issue was more important to me than who broke up or who got arrested for hitting an SUV: I sort of needed to know what happened, because the news was most relevant to me. Also, the local paper site did not yet have a news brief up. Yet I knew some other site would.

"it's very hard to know whether you've seen everything of interest in a site, which means it's hard to know when to stop looking" 57

It was very hard to know if I had already passed the mission statement in past pages. There were huge blocks of text, not to mention a million sub-categories. I found myself backtracking like hell to try and find what I was looking for. The assignment took 3 hours. I kept second-guessing myself:
 
  • "I already read this page.. but did I miss it?"
  • "I didn't notice that link before"
  • "that sort of looks like a mission statement, but I'm not sure"
  • "why would the mission statement be under that caetegory"
  • "that shouldn't belong here, it should belong over there on that page"

"weightlessness can be exhilarating, and partly explains why it's so easy to lose track of time on the web-the same as when we're "lost" in a good book" 59

ah, the dreaded youtube syndrome. How many times have you clicked on a video, read the related list, clicked on another, and another....and 2 hours have passed? Youtube is a blessing and a curse because so many options are presented to you at the same time. You don't have to go looking for them. The speed factor is also another reason. We have so much information at our fingertips-people today can now absorb so much more information in a short amount of time. IMDB, Wikipedia, and Youtube: they're all fascinating labyrinths. Sometimes I even forget what the original video I was watching was. Getting lost on youtube is enjoyable: getting lost on the Nike website was not. It's also easier to get lost when you're not looking for something in particular. Trust me: I ended up all the way across Paris due to browsing.

"Amazon was one of the first online bookstores (if not the first) to drop the title/author/keyword option from their search box and just take whatever I threw at them" 68

I hate textbook shopping time. However, amazon,com is usually the starting point from where I get all my information. They may not always have the best prices, but all I have to do is type the title in and I get the author, edition, ISBN, and price. What makes amazon so unique is its organization. It' s the wikipedia of bookstores: it may not be the solution, but provides information to help you find it somewhere else.

 

"journalism, when done right, helps us understand the world" 9

| | Comments (2)
Flash Journalism Intro/Part One

"flash is not simple, but you have mastered complex skills before this" xvii

This quote reminded me of what Dr Jerz said in class today about Blender and Inform. Neither are particularly relevant to the journalism field, but both were complex. So, in a way, I guess I could consider learning these two programs as flash conditioning.

"somehow the combination of photographic moments and on-site audio put me in the middle of the scene of destruction and pulled me close to the stricken people-in a way video on television never had" 3

"the scene in the photo might show something that cannot be adequately described with words" 6

There are some things, such as tragedy, that are sometimes best shown, and not told. The impact of a tragedy cannot affect someone if there is no human face to the story. Do print journalism stories, sans pictures, about accidents and deaths strike the heartstrings, as much as a video does? It's very easy to distance yourself from a story when there's no personal element to it.

When reading about Rwanda, I felt really said for the people who were affected by genocide. But, when I would see pictures (and the subsequent movie), was affected b genocide. I dare you to watch "Hotel Rwanda"  (or for that matter, that animal adoption commercial with "The Arms of the Angels" playing in the background) and not cry.

A photo slideshow can have the same effect. Images stif emotion. Articles can just blend into the background. There's less structure and formality with photos. 

"the company does not market the games as  journalism, but a company press release said "Kuma/War enables consumers to experience actual missions of real soldiers in the war on terror" 17

There are some subject I think should not be trivialized by games or movies.Does anyone remember when that 9-11 movie came out? Well, if you recall, the reviews were largely negative, because people felt it was too soon. Tragedies must be handeled with the utmost sensitivity. Documentaries are acceptable, I feel, because they show what really happened.

The reason i got upset at the Darfur game today in class was not necessarily about the content of the game, but was about the audience. As soon as I heard MTV, I pictured some idiot sitting at his computer laughing at the game with his moronic friends, purposely trying to get killed. As much as you'd like to deny it, you know someone out there is doing just that. Games are an iffy area of "journalism" that I'd like to stay away from. I don't want to be responsible for creating something that would allow a person to react like that. 

"...might typically create graphics in the familiar drawing program, then export SWF files for use in the flash application, where they can be animated quickly" 27

Does that mean that we could design characters and other images in paint/draw and then export them to Flash? I know that would save us a lot of time, especially those of us who don't want to spend hours in the computer lab.

Also, I noticed there is something called Adobe Illustrator on the computer lab PC's. Am I correct in assuming it is a draw/paint program directly connected to Flash?

"a skilled designer can bring short phrases onscreen (in large, legible fonts) timed to coincide with the appearance of a particular image, a very compelling combination that moves the story forward" 33

I immediately thought of the "Christian Children's Fund" commercials where "Jesus Loves the Little Children" is played during a slideshow of starving third-world kids. The two different aspects contrast dramatically.

I'm now going to reference my theater history notes on cycle plays:

"the method is to juxtapose two stories, two plot threads, and two sets of characters so that they reverberate with and thus reinforce one another" (Wilson and Goldfarb, History of the Living Theater Boston:McGraw Hill, 2008. pg 128)

Two different aspects join together to create one powerful image. The contradiction really brings to light the severity of the situation.

"to allow users to print specific text, the Flash author must make some adjustments in the FLA file before exporting the file. If the adjustments are not made, no text from the file can be printed" 36

Can entire web pages be created with Flash? I've tried to print a home page and all that has come out on the printer end is a couple ad images. The rest was missing.

IF Revision

| | Comments (0)
IF revision

I have decided to continue working on the game for my term project, so I will implement the proposed changes I mention below.

Being an author, I am of course blind to the difficulties my work might possess. Testing has allowed some of the flaws in my game to come to light.

I have three different paths in the story to get to the end. One of those paths includes 3 sub-paths, depending on what the player says to Snape. However, even to start down that path requires taking the map. However, when the player tried to take an item the first time, Snape appeared. What made me think that the player would possibly know to take the map again? I think I should mention something in the map's description about how it can come up with good excuses for Harry/the player. That way, the player would already have a hint.

The only other problem when testing occured when the player had gone down this path (I wanted to test this next command specifically, so I did give her a little hint). I worked hard on the 3rd path/3-sub paths section. It contains my most creative writing and responses. Snape is supposed to throw a hissy fit when Harry tells him to lighten up. The game does not accept "say  lighten up". The player tried about 6-8 different wordings of the phrase before she got it right. I couldn't even remember the correct command. What I need to do here is allow the game to accept multiple phrasings for that command.

The 3rd path is the section I spent the most time on. If I want players to find it, than I'd better make it a little less challenging to get to.

SNSG 10

| | Comments (0)
"Whoever makes the decision should look for these qualities in a top-ranking editor:

-maturity
-ability to deal with pressure
-good organizational skills
-strong leadership skills
-news judgment
-creativity
-excellent people skills
-ability to multi-task, to deal with many issues at once" pg. 78


The drawing on pg. 78 made me laugh. As organized as we want the Setonian to be, I don't think we'll ever have an editor hierarchy like the figure 10.2

The editor selection process was interesting. It sort of summarizes where I am right now in my position with the paper. For 1 1/2 years, I wrote articles under constant pressure and time constraints. Last year was hell, by far the most academically taxing semester I have had, and will ever have, at SHU.

Last year was all about proving myself. I will admit, one time last year, I didn't turn in an article. But, to be fair, I told the editor days in advance of the deadline that I wouldn't have time to write it. She had time to plan and avoid a layout crisis. In a way, I was being responsible by giving others an advanced warning. Responsibility is more than just turning article in on time. It is also owning up to your mistakes.

After last year, I think I've proved I can handle pressure. In fact, I thrive under it. I took honors ethics, contemporary christian ethics, a lab-heavy theater class, the most writing-heavy class in the entire journalism major, and was in a production all at the same time. And I still turned my articles in on time (sans the one time in the fall). After last year, I'm invincible.

Freshman, take initiative now. You're going to be taking our positions in a year or two. The editor in chief is going to look at your track record when deciding whether to make you an editor. Turn your article in on time, let people know when they will be late, and do not just mail your article to the Setonian and think that's it. There is so much more to do, and the editor-in-chief will take it all into consideration.

EOJ 4-6

| | Comments (0)
"today, anyone can become a media mogul even without a press office and an army of employees" 17

The iffy area of credible news:

I don't know if i would actually called "citizen journalism" necessarily credible. Yes, these sites may have credibility checks, but it all sounds like wikipedia to me. That site also has credibility checks as well. Yet, when I was searching the emo culture for a section in my IF game, I discovered information that was not only wrong, but also quite rude. There are wiki editors, but entries slip through the cracks sometimes. Do the editors of these citizen websites actually read every single article before they publish them?

Blogging is a grey area in journalism as well. Some people like Hank Green use the medium correctly and try to educate the public. However, it is also a prime breeding ground for trolls and flamers. So much so that the good outweighs the bad. A lot of people now consider blogs as inlone diaries or privare rant areas, rather than mediums for social change and education.

It's all about synthesis

| | Comments (0)
Participatory journalism and the credibility issue

Reviewing backlash

Games and Journalism

Investigative reporting

SNSG Chapter 10

EOJ 4-6

Considering we had that huge electronic literature assignment the same week in Writing for the Internet that I had a major paper due, its no wonder I missed a blog, which I have never ever done before. I cannot believe I did that. I have completed the missing two entries.

This semester is all about synthesis. Everything I have learned so far is finally coming together. I never considered before that games could educate people on world issues or draw people to a news site. (I see the point!!! New Media Projects has a purpose!!!)While we're learning the values of blogging in journalism, we're discussing them here. I don't consider blogs to be as credible as print, just because most don't have an editor who screens for content. Blogs reign the internet under Freedom of Speech. That said, offensive material you put on your blog (or submit to the paper) can get you in trouble, and there is no constitutional law to prevent that.

I also find myself reflecting on experiences past and relating them to current topics. The journey to being an editor has not been easy. I've toiled as a news writer, and now I've proven myself to be worthy of a leadership position. Having proved myself as a competant writer, I also have a little more freedom in my subject matter, Having my own column is fantastic.

back to class

You shouldn't have to think...it's common sense

| | Comments (0)
Krug Intro-3

Finally, a book that is as entertaining as it is educational. Krug realizes his readers don't want to read a tedious, overly-professional book. Whereas Kilian (I'm not bad mouthing) was dry, Krug mixes education with humor. The movie quotes, cartoons,and references to his own life, pop culture, as well as "Far Side" comics (I love those) make the book not seem like a chore to read. I'm surprised at how fast I read it.

"like a lot of common sense, though, it's not necessarily obvious until after someone's pointed it out to you" 5

We tend to be so blind to our mistakes. I know I spend a lot of time trying to perfectly craft every project I complete, only to sometimes be surprised at how people actually view it. I guess you can compare the creator-creation relationship to a parent-child-relationship: some parents believe their kid is perfect. But perfect is so subjective.

"If it's short, it's likely to be used" 6

Krug's taken his own advice and made his text short and sweet. We use the internet because it saves time. Most of us don't have time to spend hours in the library combing through books or reading entire newspapers. The world is fast-paced, and we're constantly on a time-clock: every minute counts. So when the internet doesn't turn out to the the speed demon of information we expected it to be, even more time is spent than if we were to do things the old-fashioned way.

"when we're using the Web every question mark adds to our cognitive workload, distracting our attention from the task at hand" 15

Last week, one of the assignments in CA 100 was to review a corporate website. We had to asses the usability of the website (Nike) based on the list of information we were supposed to find. Let me tell you, I spent a good hour trying to find the dang mission statement. The point of Dr Klapak's assignment was that the user shouldn't have to dig for the important information. Over half the website was flash-created advertisements. I understand Nike is trying to sell a product, but there is such a thing as too much "in-your-face". If I were Nike's web designer, I would make the product information more prevalent and wouldn't have a slideshow of a row of shoes as the central focus on the homepage.

here's a sample from my critique:

okay, criticism alert!!!!! This corporate website violates several guidelines as set forth in Crawford Kilian's Writing for the Web 3.0. The visitor should not have to dig and dig for information. A first time visitor should have no more difficulty navigating than a seasoned customer. Fluff is unnecessary-and Nike is full of flashy fluff. No one likes to download PDF files-they are really slow. There are way too many ads and not enough information about products (there's certainly superficial information). Also, there is not a link back to the homepage on every subsequent page, which is a cardinal rule. If going to point F, the customer should not have to have trouble getting back to point A. There is also a lack of blurbs, little 1-2 sentence teasers about what the page offers. The use of bulleted lists to state objectives and goals would also help break up the white text pargraphs. The Nike website would be considered a “hit-and-run”. There sure is information, but its at least 4-5 links away (real content).


"amazon.com, on the other hand, doesn't even mention the author-title-keyword distinction" 17

Who else gets infuriated when it's time to shop for used books? It takes a good 4 hours to find everything. There's all these search terms (ISBN, author, title, etc.) to take into consideration. Amazon doesn't always have the best prices, so I try some other sites. The books may be cheaper, but the other sites are often hard to use. I find myself using Amazon.com as a reference point for the book information because it is so easy to use.


"when we're creating websites, we act as though people are going to pore over each page, reading our finely crafted text, figuring out how we've organized things, and weighing their options before deciding which link to click" 21

And the creator bias rears its head again. Just because we spend hours creating something does not mean people are going to examine every inch of it. A website is not a research paper: the reader is not going to painstakingly comb over every word. I hate to use this phrase, but I think it accurately describes users:

"I don't care how it was created, I just care that it works"

many users do not care about the process of creating a website. They just want to use the end result. I'm not saying don't put all of your effort into creating a site-just don't marry your work.

"it becomes clear that some of them think Yahoo is the internet, and that this is the way you use it" 27

"once we find something that works-no matter how badly-we tend not to look for a better way" 28
I am one of those yahoo people. Even though google is supposedly faster and better, I always default to yahoo. And google is the default page on firefox. When I was first introduced to internet search engines back in 4th-5th grade, we were taught to use yahooligans. it became engrained that search=yahoo. "Googling" means yahoo.com to me. Maybe I would use google more often if it had a fantastic news feed like yahoo does (see? see the appeal of a flashy yet informative homepage???)

"the more important something is, the more prominent it is" 31
back to Nike: the flash slideshow that was the center focus of the homepage was just a bunch of shoes and clothes set to some pseudo-rock. It has since changed to a timeline of an athlete's life. Neither has much to do with what should be the mission of the site: to provide easy access to product/purchasing information. That is at least 3-4 clicks away.

"when a page doesn't have a clear visual hierarchy...we're reduced to the much slower process of scanning the page for revealing words and phrases, and then trying to form our own sense" 33

Dr Klapak said in class that the evaluation should take 15 minutes. Well it took about 2 hours to find everything (which proves the point the assignment was trying to make). After a while, all the information began muddling together. The back buttons were practicaly hidden, so it took even longer to return to a previous page and review something. I began to question whether I was even doing the assignment right. Much of my evaluation was constructive criticism, because Nike's site has some of the lowest usability I have ever seen.



Website link

| | Comments (0)

Investigative reporting

| | Comments (1)
SNSG 11,17

"you don't need a big staff to do investigative reporting...two or three reporters committed to doing professional journalism at a student level can get a lot done" 96

Sometimes, I feel this book speaks to bigger universities. And sometimes it hits home.

Our paper is small, but we've covered some important issues. Some that even caused controversy. I am speaking about two articles in particular: Andrea Perkin's article on the banquet for accepted students last semester, and Megan Ritter's article on caffeine pills being sold in the bookstore (two years ago?). Both of those stories delt with touchy issues, and writers were professional. They didn't run out and accuse anyone of anything.

The subject matter in investigative reporting may "afflict the comfortable", but as long as the reporters allow the opposig view to be heard, they did their jobs. That doesn't mean there won't be a backlash or consequences. There are several questions investigative reporters must ask themselves when deciding to publish a story:

1) can I look at myself in the mirror if/when this hits the stands?
2) is it worth it? Do the potential punishments outweigh the potential rewards? How important is doing the right thing?

Games and Journalism??? EOJ 7-9

| | Comments (1)
Elements of Online Journalism

"Games are mainly for entertainment, but given creativity and hard work, online news can take this to a higher level where people are not only entertained but also enlightened about issues" 25

I said earlier today in EL 405 that this semester is the first one time where I am seeing the point of taking the courses in this major. One area keeps pouring into another. I'm designing a campaign website in CA 100; last week, we had to evaluate a corporate website and its usability. I'm not bragging by any means, but I feel that I may have completed the assignment better than some others because I've had Writing for the Internet.

In EL 405, we have been designing games. Before that, we were learning how to create 3-D animation and environments in Blender. I finally see the point (I seem to be saying this a lot lately). 

I immediately thought of Kayla's IF game from EL 405 when I read the above quote. It took historical and current world events and integrated them as choices. I had a browser open during the entire time I was test playing, looking to make sure I made the right choices. Her game is an excellent example of integrating news and games. It made the player(me) think about what was going on in the world; by using the web browser, I was being informed as I was playing.

IF Games

| | Comments (1)
IF Games

Lost Pig:

This game was a bit of a challenge in the beginning. It took several tries before I attempted what was an obvious option. Examining the forest gave the player a clue as to what direction he/she could travel. It was my previous understanding that in these games, the player could only go south, north, east, or west. The pig was not that hard to find. It was just a matter of paying attention to the directions given in the text and making a guess. There is not a lot of puzzle solving. I would call this game fairly easy, since it is propelled by directional choices and little else.Obviously, I see I need to somehow light the torch so I can see the pig in the closet, But my 15 minutes are up for now. Maybe revisiting later.

Ecdysis: (as a zip file)

This game is a hypertext/interactive fiction combo. Instead of just typing commands, the player clicked on "links" which made text appear. What was a relief is that I the player didn't have to think about what parts to explore (for a while anyway). The beginning of the game, where all I did was click on links and text would appear all in the same window, was what I wished hypertext fiction would have been like. I feel this game was half IF and and half hypertext fiction. The computer did as much work, if not more, than I did. Just as in HF, clicking links leads you to dead ends and story paths. I see that the tunnel in the foyer is important. Maybe I'll come back to this one.

* I did finish this game, just by hitting links. Wow, that's kind of gross*

Tales of the Traveling Swordsman
:*I played this one for an hour*

*duh, run the program before you try to play the game*

Painfully obvious, the sword is meant to cut down the grass. However, it took me a good 4 minutes to realize this. "Swordsman", out of all the games so far, has made me think the most. You may think you are at a dead end in this game, but it turns out that you may have missed something earlier, like a key.The part where the player actually meets the daughter gave me some trouble.I thought maybe it was a giant dead end, but all other previous places kept leading me to the garden. I knew that somehow trying to get the apple down from the tree would get the girl's attention, but I didn't try "shake tree" at first because I thought the game wouldn't recognize the command. Don't underestimate: shaking the tree caught the girl's attention. Another obvious moment: cutting the hatch rope-but I was preoccupied with the girl to realize this right away. I think i got pretty far, but I couldn't get past the part after girl and her swarm of bees appears. I know that in order to continue the game, the player has to do something with the loft, but I can't figure out how to get the ladder down. Then, I figured I once again missed something earlier. I remembered the wagon that needs a wheel, which is down in the cellar. However, getting the wheel up the cellar ladder is perplexing me. Sure enough, the rope was the key. It only took about a dozen different wordings before I got it right. This is the point at which I stopped. This game makes you rely on your memory, so I guess there is an educational argument here."Swordsman" is an excellent example to use when trying to teach students the art of wording commands correctly.

Galatea: *also played for about an hour*

Galatea was actually my first IF game. I played it 3 weeks ago in New Media Projects. I wondering if I fare better now that I know how to play these games better.

This game is still pretty difficult.  I got to about the same point I was at three weeks ago: when Galatea tells the player that Pygmalion's ghost screams at her.

Revisiting: so Galatea, I gather, loved the ocean in Cyprus because it made her feel alive. I also think she was in love with her creator. She's obviously bitter ("it takes more than it gives"). the player keeps having to think of things to ask Galatea, since the game's action is conversation. The strategy is to pick certain words from her paragraphs (like love, death, child, and life) and keep asking. At one point, I asked her about death, and the life seemed to suddenly leave Galatea. The game ended.

I guess the ending depends on what the player asks Galatea.

Photopia

I felt really stupid at first because I couldn't figure out how to start the game. I thought the right arrow would, since there was a right arrow on the screen, seeming to indicate the start. But no. I think clicking left arrow finally started the screen. What was weird is that I had the player talk to Rob after running the red and the screen switched into another player. This game bored me because it was all about examining items and hardly had any "human" interaction. Games like Photopia are the reason my Harry Potter IF is so heavy on interaction: examining things gets real old real quick. I never got past examining the housing unit-I couldn't get the character back outside.






Beta test day!!

| | Comments (0)
EL 405

Well, my game is almost finished (at least all the action in the beginning room). I deliberately made 1 or three paths the player could take more interesting. In that path, there are several conversational options. Unfortunately, that leg of the game is not finished, and everyone who played my game today selected that particular path. All in all, people played as I expected, with some minor difficulty.

Of the changes I made, I made sure to mention Hermione's beaded handbag in the opening paragraph so they would know to check the inventory. Interacting with inventory items is the only way to continue on in the game, and I had assumed that one of the first things the player (at least a more experienced player) would do is check it. The other change I made to my original code was to add synonyms for trigger terms.

I'm going to continue this game for my final project. I'll work on the rest of this scene in EL 405 and the next scene in the common room for EL 236. Then I hope to combine them.

Oh God, here we go...it's IF time (ignore my cynicism)

| | Comments (0)
*Ignore my cynicism. I just feel I've spent the entire past week in front of a computer due to the unusually high onslaught of assignments. But, I digress...*

*Warning: you will spend the entire third of a future course talking about this stuff*

Storytelling and Computers

Introduction

Scott Adams Speaks

Parser fun

"Not everything worked, and the computer wouldn't always tell you how to make it work."

About 3 weeks ago, we started learning how to program interactive fiction. I wouldn't call myself ahead of the curve, because everyone else has had this class as sort of a prep step. The thing about programming interactive fiction is that it doesn't use intricate code (in a manner of speaking). The programming is done using plain old english words.-the issue being that Inform 7 (the program that creates IF) does not recognize all words. There's a certain style. The good thing about Inform is that it will tell you at least where your error lies and why. But you still have to figure out how to fix it.

Last year, in fact, when I demonstrated a text adventure game in my "Writing Electronic Texts" class for the first time, three literature majors dropped the class that afternoon.

-I've seen this happen many times here. Students drop this classes that deal with writing and technology because they don't wait until the part of the course where it actually makes sense. You think "when am I ever going to use this?" But I'm using HTML in Communication Theory and Technology in a couple of weeks. Wait it out. The content will synthesize at some point. Hell, Wednesday's 2-3 assignment just made me realize that a class last semester wasn't so pointless after all.

"The most extreme example I can think of that illustrates this parallel post-modern tendency"

I find post-modern characteristics popping up more and more this past week. Post-modernism is known for its experimentation. and IF is a far cry from a Jane Austen novel.

"This is the actual way the game plays and the idea is you go through the game; you have an adventure. You have a puzzle-solving situation. You'll meet a lot of things you've got to deal with...Your mind gives a much better picture than the finest artist. There is tremendous capability in the human mind"

Anyway, these early games helped you develop logical ways of thinking, since there were no instructions. You had to figure out everything by yourself, which meant that the games took longer to play than say, a Gameboy game that came with an instruction booklet (does anyone else miss that thing?) I sort of see the appeal, for I think it is the same reason people read books: we're given guidelines, but also create the world inside our minds. This is why so many of us are dissapointed by film adaptions of novels.

"The next one-third of the game literally came from the people I gave to to play the game. I'd watch how they played the game. I'd watch what they'd try to do with the items that I never thought they might try to do. [I said,] "Wow, what a good idea! I think I'll put that in the game." I literally did. So the games were written by the users."

well, we're doing this in EL 405 on thursday, so I will link here to the blog for that day.

I really don't have anything to say about the last reading, "Parser Fun". It is essentially a bunch of anecdotes and tips about playing/programming interactive fiction.


portfolio two-now we're actually doing stuff

| | Comments (0)

*For those who may just be joining in, this is my second portfolio for EL 236: Writing for the Internet. The first quarter of the class was spent learning the basics of HTML programming. Now, we're actually getting into the "why and how" we write for the internet. Among some of the things you must pay attention to is the audience: who are you writing for and how can you present the information you wish to get across in an effective way? Formatting does play a role. One cannot, (rather, should not) just post a paper they wrote online. Most people do not want to stare at a screen reading seamingly endless lines of text. Graphics and line breaks help make the page look more aesthetically pleasing. Here is where our "Sarah's Styles" skills can come in handy. Creating a Web Page with HTML was not supposed to teach us how to build a website more than it was supposed to teach us about effective ways to present information online. We're putting our skills to use now*

*I just had to do a review of Nike's corporate website for Communication Theory and Technology*

While Kilian does offer use invaluable information on style and appearance (such as formatting and presentation, and how people read web pages, and wording), it does leave some room for improvement. I do have a couple of recommendations:

I thinkwe can assume that the people reading/using this book are of the college level, or at least upper-level high schoolers. Chapter 4 largely consisted of (what was for me) a grammar and AP style review. I think that a lot of writers are aware of the perils of using cliches. Someone who is writing for the web probably already is an experienced writer, and maybe does not need so much of a review on active/passive verbs, avoiding cliches, and other grammar usage issues. Kilian, your book is an excellent styleguide, but I think you need to revisit this particular section and perhaps think a little harder about the skills your readers are already bringing to the table. However, grammar exercises would be right in place on the CD, the only other area I have criticisms about.

The CD, I found, was hard to navigate. especially when pg 121 (chapter 6) told the reader to find the corporate websites. I could find no such list and instead did the review on websites in other sections. A re-organization would be wise. I think the rest of the class would agree, since we all seemed to have the same problems.   


Coverage/Timeliness: all entries were posted on time and thoroughly covered the subject material. Most of the entries are at least a page.

Our Generations's Guttenberg-basically how much computers make our lives easier, and why we should thak god we have Lexis-Nexis

The Good and the Bad

Why I Thought I'd Die

I Feel Like I'm Back in High School

The Evil Research Paper and Other Things I've Learned

Politics: They're Everywhere

Peter Pan, purring and snarling

Jumping Around

Kilian-editing text for websites exercise 1-4

Kilian-editing text for websites exercise 2-4

Website Reviews

Electronic Lit. Part 1: 4 sample texts

Electronic Lit. Part 2-in depth

good lord, I finally see the light-an epiphany of sorts: I finally see the point of a "pointless" class from this past spring

University of the Yellow Wallpaper

Oh god, here we go....Its IF time

Interactions: People liked these (since there are only two, I suspect that I'm getting too lengthy to hold people's attention....the overachiever's curse rears its ugly head)

Politics are Everywhere

why I thought I'd die

Depth: I blab, but coherently (at least I think so). I take the entire reading and do not just use one quote, since there is so much to say.

Our generation's Guttenberg

the good and the bad

the evil research paper

peter pan, purring and snarling

electronic literature part 2

good lord, I finally see the light

University of Yellow Wallpaper

Discussion: I blabbed again...but on other people's blogs this time. We're actually starting to talk about why we write, not how to create the page. There are more thoughtful comments this time around, instead of HTML tips.

Aja:There's a Deck on my homepage

Jackie: what's behind your design

consumer power

hazy maze of mirth and muck

Jed: the not so beginning of a new book

Maddie: The lost boys are so lucky and cursed









University of Yellow Wallpaper

| | Comments (0)
The University of Yellow Wallpaper

I did Wednesday's assignment first, and the text I reviewed in depth was "The Body" (and essentially a close reading), so here's a link to that blog entry. I will say that it was a very affective way of demonstrating the medium. All the compartments fit together, yet could stand alone. "The Body" is a hypertext anthology of memoirs. It was almost as if I were reading a converted paper novel. Using the actual drawing of the body as a homepage was very creative. It set up from the start that the parts were connected. Out of all the hypertext novels I've read this week, The Body was the one I enjoyed the most because it was the closest to a traditional novel (concerning the actual text), and therefore an easier read than some of the more experimental electronic literature. Never once did I pause and wonder what a section was about. There was no ambiguous language. Because the content itself was not confusing, I was able to focus more on Shelley's use of the medium. Everything was perfectly intertwined with everything else. I would call "The Body" almost seamless. 

close reading:

White uses the "University of Yellow Wallpaper" to describe the nature of a hypertext fiction through the metaphor of a person gone mad (heavily influenced by the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper"). Hypertext does not have a starting point, but several. It is difficult to locate the origin, because all points are connected to one another. The use of hypertext to tell the story adds to the madness and suspense because of the un-linear nature of the medium. White is aware of the fact that the branching off is confusing, that the reader is trying to search the text for the point to seemingly useless existential comments (White even references Beckett, the father of existentialistic theater). Medium aside, White's use of ambigous language furthers the suspense.

"I have as yet said nothing or, rather, said only the ambiguous, and in the end the logical thing would be to give up"

Rather than telling the reader to continue, the language, by being vague, but not too vague, is peaking our curiosity. Just as Beckett did in Endgame. The language makes a person thinks, and it is ultimately up to them to decide what the story is about and what happened. In this sense, Beckett was a forerunner of hypertext. His plays do have an end, but the purpose of the wording of the text, the "meaning" of the play is up to the reader to decide.There is no right or wrong way to interpret the text-because you will never know what that would be. And were never meant to. The thing about existentialism is that it can forever be revisited (because it can never be resolved).

"subaltern who saw everything about her reduced to absurdity" By addressing that the story is getting more and more absurd, White is rewarding her readers. Increasing absurdity gives hope to the reader that the point at which they will "get it" is soon around the corner.

The original work which inspired this hypertext fiction is directly referenced.By embedding some different interpretations of "The Yellow Wallpaper", White further drives the point home that there are many ways in which to take her work. Each interpretation provides a link, a different path down which you may follow the story. All and none are correct.

"Your think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream"

White's direct quotations of "The Yellow Paper" points to hypertext, which binds the two types of fiction together effectively. "The Yellow Wallpaper, provided all at once on paper, may seem confusing and made because everything is thrown at the reader all at once. She or he cannot focus on one point or story arch at the same time. Perhaps that is the reason the page the above link leads to is titled "confined by paper." Paper text, by nature is linear. By using hypertext, the reader is more able to focus on the story because it is compartmentalized (but always connected). White may be trying to illustrate that The Yellow Wallpaper was an early attempt at hypertext.

Several links go in a circle. leading back to the same point everntually. This mini-home page includes the sentence "I can see myself counting to one hundred, flashing my tired teeth. I don't know where these sentences will take me".

The person speaking throughout the story, is in fact a manifestation of the wall, and all of its madness. The yellow wallpaper has many twisitng and turning paths which are all part of a wall, a whole. There is no end and no beginning of "The University of Yellow Wallpaper". There is no end or beginning, just interconnectedness and continuity, the central theme of hypertext.

My reaction:

I thought that the use of "The Yellow Wallpaper" was a very effective metaphor in demonstrating hypertext. By combining quotes from the story that inspired this electronic fiction and quotes about the nature of texts, White was able to relate two seemingly very different subjects. The links at first seemed to lead down different paths, but would eventually trace back to a common point. There was no end to the story. I don't think "The University of Yellow Wallpaper" was about telling a story like "The Yellow Wallpaper" so much as it was one extended metaphor, cycling back and always reminding us that all points, however strange, were related. 
 








good lord.....I finally see the light.

| | Comments (2)
In a way, I'm glad I took EL 336 before this class. For those of you who don't know what the class consisted of, I'll elaborate. We learned all about the history and future of the book. The last third of the class was devoted to electronic texts. We covered an array of topics, ranging from interactive fiction, hypertext (both electronic and not), and the MUD/MOO. I was the only journalism major in the course who had never heard of and never played any of these sub-genres.

Naturally, my blog entries about these topics were about theory and concepts. I'm glad that I took the course sequences backwards (as I missed Writing for the Internet when I was a freshman). EL 336 forced me to learn the concepts behind hyper text beforehand. I'm sure that if I were to be having my first exposure to it, I would be thinking ,"what the hell is this? What were these people thinking?" Instead, I find myself having light-bulb moments. All the readings are coming back to me.

If On A Winter's Night was, in a sense, a hypertext metaphor, in that all the stories were connected (and very cleverly, I might add)

I see glimmers of (I believe it was) Aarseth's theories in Storyland. I recall the part in Cybertext about Joyce's Afternoon game. I thought it was a really stupid concept at the time. Joyce pioneered what Sorells exploited.

Now I finally see what the point of that class was. El 336 was theory, and EL 236 is the practical application. Wow, what an epiphany. I'm a little in shock because when I say I loathed EL 336, I wasn't kidding. There was a 4 page paper due every week (think a super- ultra synthesized essay pertaining to all the readings you blogged about), not to mention forum presentations, an 8-10 page midterm paper and a final 12-15 page paper. I haven't had Digital imaging, Topics in media aesthetics, or Publications Workshop yet, so I can't speak for the rest of my time here, but EL 336 has been the most difficult (sans General Chemistry 1) class I have taken at Seton Hill so far.

Since the subject changes every time the class is offered, I don't know if you will have the same reaction as I did. But if you do find yourself cursing you papers to hell (especially when your hard drive crashes in the middle of your mid-term paper and you didn't save a backup because you were in the zone too deep to pay attention and then have to re-write it while wondering if the $1300 machine is ever going to run again !!@#$!@$), I will offer you these words of wisdom:

you will be so glad you took the class (and will also feel an immense weight lift off you on the glorious day the class ended). You will be a much better writer by the end of those  3 1/2 months.

It's strange how one little reading can cause you to have an epiphany. I haven't gone past the second link in Is Hypertext Fiction Possible?.

That was a long tangent. Now back to the present. Redridinghood would be considered "game like" (#7). While the game told a story, there was no text. the entire work was animated.  You decided what happened to Little Red. I don't know if I would consider Redridinghood literature; to me, it's a game based off a literary work.

Urbanalities is animated poetry. It was weird for the sake of weird. The author exploited the medium. I don't understand it, but was I meant to? Hmm, very Beckett-esque. Very post-modern.

My Body was the work I enjoyed the most. Out of all the works, it best demonstrated the basic tenents of hypertext-to effectively link all points together from a single starting concept. I don't want to call it traditional, but it was a not-too-distant cousin of the memoir.

I will conclude with my thoughts on Aristotle's comment about plot. It basically sums up how hypertext fiction can be considered "poetry"-this is the term by which he refers to literature or drama:
"a well-constructed Plot, therefore, cannot either begin or end at any point one likes; beginning and end in it must be of the forms"

Common paper-printed stories do not begin at a certain point. The character is already grown and has lived a good portion of his/her life. All the character's past experiences are part of the story, yet do novels always follow the character from birth? No. Novels begin somewhere in the middle. And so does hypertext.
 


FYI, there are a lot of dead links in this website.
 

   
Investigate for 30 minutes

*added additional information due to assignment overlap (10/4)*

What sets Jackson's work apart from all the other hypertext fiction work I have encountered is that each section can stand alone. Each link is a separate anecdotal story. "My Body" is essentially an anthology of sexual, discovery, and identity stories. I have no doubt that it could easily translate to paper.

(I went down the "hip" path)

The author's tortured soul agonizingly recounts experiences with her body, often degrading her own while comparing it to models. A detail in the hip path leads to shaving legs. That story was a little horrifying, having to picture a woman who loves her leg hair and attempts to braid and/or dreadlock it. Just from reading those two short sections, the reader can tell the "author" has body image issues. She is different, yet her thinking is influence by society. She hates her hips because they don't match the images of perfection depicted in Greek art. What she probably doesn't know is that Greek art did not strive for realism (here comes a theater history tangent). It saw to correct reality, so in no way should a person strive to become a "Greek goddess". Mortals don't look like that, and never did.
 
Still, the affect of an image on a person is a powerful thing. Insecurness about hairy legs leads to insecureness about hair on other body parts, like the feet. (The more insecure the author got about her body, the deeper the reader dived). Once again, two conflicting images (hobbit and a girfriend) torture our "author" What was is the right way? There is no right way, because people's bodies differ, and can do unique things. While one person may be able to dance en-pointe, another may be able to play the piano with their feet.

 The body is constantly experimenting. I'll spare you what this part was talking about experimenting with. But in this section was a link that ended the story: all tales connected by a single theme: possibility. Each click is a new discovery about the story, which in turn is a new discovery about the body.

That format was very effective. Graphic or non-graphic, not once did I pause and wonder whether a tale was necessary or relevant like in "The Heist". The main difference between "The Heist" and "My Body" is that not all elements in "The Heist" were well connected. I picture "The Body" as a map, where all points are part of the whole, and it is up to you to find the connections. But the connections are there.

In revisiting "The Body" today (due to the fact that it was actually assigned for monday and I chose it was a selection on wednesday because I dodn't look at monday's coursework first), I can see that through creating a hypertext exploration of the body, Shelley illustrated the deep insecurities and questions the character has. At first, most of the issues seems superficial and the author self-conscious, but as the links dig deeper, the reader finds that "The Body" is not about insecurities, but about discovery and acceptance. From insecurities comes wonder and question, which lead to new discoveries and acceptance. Every acceptance about the body utimately culminate in acceptance of yourself.
 

Electronic literature part 1: 4 electronic texts

| | Comments (1)
back

1. RedRidinghood by Donna Leishman

This "text" is really fascinating, in that it is a flash-created interactive comic book. There is hardly any text. Th entire game is animated, with you deciding at intervals what happens to "red." And I though this was going to be another boring and endless "Heist" story. I had no idea "text" didn't necessarily mean "words."  I'm going to stop at the point where the player decides to let Red dream or wake her up. I'm definately coming back to this one.

2. Urbanalities

Wow, there was no reader-assisted progression in this one. Another flash-generated program. It was way too weird. from what i gather of the first eight minute, the "text" is an animated poem that throws existential comments at the reader while pictures of the city skyline flash. Then, the game morphs into a barrel of a gun which shoots at the skyline, dispersing bloody flashes while more strange comments are thrown out. The text was way too avant-garde for me. And that's saying something, because I like Beckett. Urbanalities is performance art.

"Many authors recognize the feeling of being "lost" in a digital text, and try to exploit it for artistic effect." prime example right here.

3. The Body by Shelley Jackson

If you're offended by graphic body descriptions, don't "read/play" this text. The layout is the authors body. Clicking on body parts reveals anecdotes and stories involving them. I think the general theme of the story is sexuality. for instance, the shoulders link reveals a story about how glad the author is she's a woman, which leads to a story about breasts, and so-forth. It's sort of a hypertext "coming-of-age" collection.

4. Storyland by Nanette Wylde
 The computer does most of the work here, generating a new story each time from a bank of possibilities. All the reader does is click for the next line to appear. Each story is a basic synopsis of a situation, leaving the reader to decide on what actually happened. Certain clues  in the text imply. I would consider this text slightly "absurd"istic
 

Website reviews

| | Comments (0)

Kilian exercises

1. Website: Fed-ex

Purpose: Information/instructional/marketing

The website iconsist of a lot of how-to and definitions of shipping terms. After spending 5 mintues clicking around Fed-ex, its fairly easy to use.

Audience: The site could be for both experienced and inexperienced people, young and old. There is a lot of orientational content. The company realizes that they are not going to get a lot of customers if no one understand how to use their products

Content: I would call the site a jump page (the home page). Most of the links, however, are clear, concise, and to the point. Very effective.

Appearance: Stndard company colors. The purple makes the page pop and a little more pleasing to the eye. Not drab at all

Accessability: pop-up blockers hindersspeed

Organization: The site requires a lot of jumping because there are so many options to choose from within Fed-ex. The home page is essentially a map. Very topic specific. It is very easy to answer your own inquiry

Website: Columbia Guide to Online Style

Purpose: Marketing. Purpose is to sell the Guide to Online Style. The original link provided in the "weblinks" no longer works, so I had to search for the site in a search engine. It is essentially an amazon.com for Columbia University Press books. Purpose is achieved. 

Audience: The site is for anyone looking to buy a book from Columbia. New or experienced, it is easy to find the product you want by typing terms in the search function. Anyone who's ever ordered an item online can use the site.

Content:The site is pretty straightforward. There's a picture of the product, a brief description, the price, and "add to cart" function.

Appearance: standard and very simple layout. Typical of any organization. There's no unnecessary content. It uses the school colors. There's no visual clutter.

Acessibility: It loads fairly well.

Organization: The site is easy to navigate. It's a smaller, scaled-down version of amazon. com. There is no confusion. I think anyone could use the site. However, the weblinks CD needs to be updated, as the original link provided lead me to a page that told me to type a search term into the bar.

Website: Editor's Association of Canada

Purpose: The site is for people who already belong to the association. A lot of the information is "member specific". For anyone who isn't interested in joining the organization, is already an editor, the site is useless. 

Audience: one select audience: Canadian editors and people looking to either become one or hire one.

Content: There is a lot of jumping. Links to more links. You have to dig (a lot) for information. Definately not an orientation site. The jumping to nowhere reminded me of "The Heist".

Appearance: Uses 2 colors. Green for headings and navigation bar. Everything else consists of varying shades of blue. The blue starts to blend together after a while. I suggest that the page designer chooses another color that contrasts better with the page color.

Accessibility: loads fast

Organization: Lots of page jumps. There is so much digging involved that you can forget where you started from. 


Kilian-editing text for websites excercise 4, example 2

| | Comments (0)

2. Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can Do Really Well, Teach!


If you’re going on to post-secondary education or a vocational/trades program next September, expect your teachers to be older than your parents. You have a fantastic opportunity ahead of you.


Forty years ago, schools were caught in the baby boom and were desperate to find teachers. The generation found schools were always hiring.


Teachers hired then are retiring now. There's no baby boom, but we do have an economy that needs lots of educated workers.


A recent survey predicts s we’ll need 40,000 new workers in the natural/applied sciences. 90,000 jobs will be waiting for people in trades, transportation, and equipment operation. Sales and service will need 180,000 new workers. So your timing couldn’t be better.


With so many jobs, you might as well pick a field you really enjoy. No matter what you choose, some employer will be out there waiting to pay you to have fun.


With employers fighting to hire the next generation, demand will be high. Colleges, universities, and vocational schools will be fighting too — to find qualified teachers.


If you really love your job and showing people how to do it, you could have fun as a teacher. You can even teach part time, staying in touch with the workplace. Teacher-training programs will be delighted. You’ll be training people who may be working alongside you soon.


So pay attention to those teachers in your courses next year. You may be stepping into their jobs before you know it

results:

word count-259 from 529

fog index-9.5 from 7.7*

however, the exercise is now at school year 5

Kilian-editing text for websites excercise 4, example 1

| | Comments (0)

According to statistic, the average 2001 income was $25, 671 for British Columbians with grade 12. A lifetime income would be just over $1 million.


By going into the workforce with a university degree, that figure would increase by about $735,800.


Work will be more interesting and secure Start by going straight from grade 12 to academic post-secondary courses, community college or university.


You can always transfer to a career program after a while. Most career programs now require at least a year of academic coursework. You will have more programs to choose from and a better chance at acceptance.


Taking college courses can save you money when/if you transfer to university-you will already

have completed some requirements at a lower cost.


Your lifetime income with a college degree in some career field would about about $1.3 million, which is less than you'd get with a BA. However, some career programs now offer degrees.


There is the option to work while studying part-time for a certificate or degree. Once you have the degree, you can go back to school for a career-program certificate and job-specific skills.

We don't always have all the choices we'd like. If you think seriously about what you want to do, you'll realize there are options. Only you can decide, though.


results:


Word count-221 from 500

Fog index: 10.0 from 9.3*

*however, the exercise is now at school year 5


Idiots: part 2

| | Comments (1)

Undergrad "infiltrates" new media reporting at NYU

Old Thinking Permeates Major Journalism School

I was immediately reminded of the section in Writing for the Web 3.0 where Kilian talked about 'job blogs.' A student's job is to attend classes.

One little slip can cost you your job. As Amanda said in her response blog, "if I were an employer, I would think twice before hiring her." This girl has now been in the news. One little blog entry could follow her for the rest of her career. think about it: people are stilling talking about Joe Biden's plagarism in law school, and that was 2 years ago.

Regardless of how she felt, Taylor should have gone to her professor and asked his permission to criticize (not that he would have said 'yeah, go right ahead'). A student does not have to like all of their professors, but they are obligated to show them respect.

Taylor reminds me of the person in high school who would sit around before play practice when we were taking acre of all the technical aspects and whined "Why do I have to learn this? I just want to perform."

You have to learn it for the same reason we have to study history: comprehension of the past and collaborative efforts can give a person better understanding of the final product/present day.

Taylor, you're a supposed to be a college student. Act like one. If the course is in the ciriculum, then it must serve a purpose.

I repeat, never say anything that could possibly be spun as negative about your employer on the web. It's a lot different than gossiping: words are more ephemeral.

Quite frankly, Alana Taylor screwed her credibility. 

Lexis-Nexis Screencast

| | Comments (0)

I can't honestly say that Camstudio is a difficult program. However, I have had some sound and volume issues. Yesterday, all my videos were skipping, even though I spoke in the same voice volume as prevous screencasts. Simple solution: speak from your throat and not from your soft pallet. That's the exact reverse of what a voice teaching would tell you to sing from.

Also, lowering the compressed PCM format to the following helps:

11025 Hz, 16 Bit, Stereo  44100 Bytes/sec

the correct version of the screencast lies here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1BVT9EyGjo

 

 

 

 

back to class

 

Aftermath: the value of second generation Holocaust literature

| | Comments (1)
 

Daniella Choynowski


11/20/2007


Writing About Literature


Dr Jerz


Aftermath: the value of second generation Holocaust literature


         Hitler has claimed another generation of victims. The survivors of the Holocaust, mentally and emotionally scarred forever, have passed their pain onto their children, who have responded in a fairly recent genre called second-generation Holocaust literature, including such works as Mazel and Maus. In Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Vladek, has a range of odd tendencies, from hoarding to smothering. His new wife, Mala, complains about how “he has hundred of thousands of dollars in the bank, and he lives like a pauper...he even grabs paper towels from restrooms so he won’t have to go buy napkins or tissues!” (I, 132) Spiegelman has major issues himself, stemming from his mother’s suicide and the survivor’s guilt over his brother having been poisoned during the war. Though Richieu was just “a large, blurry photograph in my parent’s bedroom…the photo was a kind of reproach…it’s spooky, having sibling rivalry with a snapshot.” (II, 14-15) Vladek wishes to block out the past; for this reason he burns Anja’s diaries. Realizing the value the diaries could have had, Art screams, “God-damn you! You-you murderer! How the hell could you do such a thing!!?” (I, 159) The two men are both psychologically skewered due to the repercussions of the Holocaust and complement each other perfectly. Though the two have a very strained relationship, the Holocaust brings them together, “for without that reason, they might not have any relationship at all.” (Staub 34) In Mazel, Pearl has a barely non-existent relationship with her father Jack Sittsamer, a survivor of 6 camps. Though she says Jack never talked about what happened, “it has always lived in the underbelly of our everyday.” (3) Pearl cannot understand why Jack’s rules for her growing up were “unpredictable, impenetrable and delivered at high volume. (3)

         Second-generation Holocaust literature is of literary value because it includes something that the first-generation survivor’s tales do not: aftermath. Through stories that inter-mingle the Holocaust and men’s lives now, we can see how the past has affected the present. The Holocaust did not end all the way back in 1945; it just cooled off, and the second-generation literatures we find today are its simmering embers.

         A one-legged man does not want to spend the rest of his life talking about how he lost his other leg. So the same goes for first-generation survivors. There is a “conspiracy of silence” among first-generation survivors. (Hadas, Einat, and Barber 176) The unspoken past, too difficult to discuss, blocks the channels of communication, causing distance between the parent and child. In Mazel, Pearl has a fight with Jack about his unwillingness to open up to her:

Always hiding from me, pretending with me…. Everything is spinning out from under me and running away from my grip…not talking about the war, or who you are, your past… (44)

Jack is perfectly comfortable getting up in front of large crowds of complete strangers and speaking. Never revealing his feelings to Pearl, “not talking became all of what was between my father and me.” (3) She tells her father she wishes to attend one of the talk sessions, to which he responds harshly, “I would not appreciate that at all.” (38) In Maus, Art rarely comes by to visit his aging father, his last visit before beginning the book being six months prior. There is an unwillingness to talk about the traumas of the past, survivors believing that the Holocaust can remain detached from their lives. But the only thing they end up detaching themselves from is their children. The second generation has not experienced the same horrors as their parents have.

         Out of respect, appreciation, and fear, they usually stay silent as well. This “double wall of silence” keeps both generations at a distance from one another. (Hadas, Einat, and Barber 176)

         There is an enormous amount of guilt felt on both sides. The parents had to live and watch while their relatives were taken and killed. And they cannot help wonder why-why me? Why did God have to take them and leave me here? This condition, “the feelings of guilt for outliving loved ones, though the survivors themselves were victims of the atrocities but somehow managed to survive”, is called survivor’s guilt, and pertains to both generations. (Hadas, Einat, and Barber 177) Jack Sittsamer never forgave himself for what he was forced to do during the war: “I am so ashamed. I will never tell. Never tell….I dug his grave for him, Pearl.” (88). Jack’s mission back to Poland was for the sole purpose of giving his father a much delayed proper burial. For until then, Jack “will not be able to erase that first night.” (his first night in the concentration camp). (86) So traumatic was this one instance that every time Jack heard the Holocaust mentioned, he flashed back to the grave digging. So he ceased speaking of the past altogether for a long, long time. In addition, Jack also feels responsible for Pearl’s extreme hatred of Germans, which has come from her observation of her father’s behavior (they caused in him the traumas that made him distant and over-protective). Jack cannot speak to Pearl about the past because of the bitterness it has caused in Pearl: “How can I tell you when I see this bitterness eating away at you, I---it’s not the German people I’m afraid of. It’s this stain I’ve caused in you. This stain that nearly killed me.” (62)

In return, due to his father’s “strange behaviors”, Art feels guilty as well. Remarking to his wife Francoise, he admits:

I know this is insane, but I somehow wish I had been in Auschwitz with my parents so I could really know what they lived through…I guess it’s some kind of guilt about having had an easier life than they did. (II, 16)

Although throughout the book Art is frustrated by his father’s obsessive behaviors, he nevertheless finds himself making excuses for Vladek: “I always thought the war made him that way.” (1, 131) Art does not understand why Vladek behaves the way he does because he has not lived the kind of life Vladek had, though Art knows that if he had, that he surely would understand. Art also feels guilty for having had a good life, while his brother Richieu perished during the Holocaust. Although the only memory Art has of his brother is of a large photo in his parents’ bedroom growing up, he always felt somehow compared to the ghost:

The photo never threw tantrums or got into any kind of trouble…It was an ideal kid and I was a pain in the ass. I couldn’t compete…the photo was always kind of a reproach, he’d have become a doctor, and married a wealthy Jewish girl…the creep. (II, 15)

What Richieu would have been always made Art feel like less of a person, for he knew he was not what his parents had hoped for: a cartoonist who married a French woman.

         Often times, the first generation survivors are often too protective and obsessive. Art recalls that during his childhood, “pop wanted to leave the leftover food around until I ate it…he’d save it again and again until I’d eat or starve.” (II, 43) Another woman remembers her mother’s obsession that she always ate everything: “It was so important for her that I eat…I was so afraid that she would catch me and make me eat….she simply chased after me through the street and I ran and hid.” (Hadas, Einat, and Barber 179) Jack also makes Pearl and his visitor Martin, who happens to be a German, eat everything he puts on their plates, believing it is “better not to let anything go to waste.” (14) The prisoners in Auschwitz had to take whatever kind of food they could get (such as potato shavings), for eating was the only thing that could give them hope and sustained them. Despite the understanding, the children are still angry. “These children, now grown men and women, have sometimes been raised in a psychological atmosphere poisoned by the scarring that their survivor parents have brought into their child rearing tasks.” (Furedi 5) The first generation’s previous losses cause them cling on to their present loved ones as hard as they can, for fear they will somehow be snatched away. In return, the second generation survivors feel smothered and overwhelmed.

         Both men have attachments to material possessions. Vladek cannot seem to throw anything away: “look at this stuff…old menus picked up on cruises...a pile of stationary from The Pines Hotel.” (I, 93) Mala, though a survivor herself, cannot understand this behavior, lamenting about his hoarding and his seeming indifference to her: “he’s more attached to things than people!” (I, 93) Jack also has an attachment to certain material possessions; in particular, a teacup that is “very precious”. It is only when the cup is broken by Pearl that the story behind the cup is revealed: an old woman, showing kindness to two Jews (one obviously having been Jack), had given them both tea in ornate cups. Jack carries that cup with him always since as a reminder. During the war, friends and relatives in the camps came and went, never to return. The only things that remain are belongings such as cups. While Jack holds on to the cup so he will never forget his past experiences and the kindnesses shown to him, Vladek holds on to items for another reason. He does not want to remember the Holocaust: it claimed his youngest son and eventually his wife. Painful reminders of the past, such as Anja’s diaries, were destroyed: “These notebooks, and other really nice things of mother…one day I had a very bad day...and all of these things I destroyed.” (I, 158) Thus, he holds onto these seemingly useless possessions to surround himself with: “Look at all this stuff!...old menus he picked up on cruises….A pile of stationary from The Pines Hotel…four 1965 Dry Dock Savings bank calendars…I’ll bet he never even had an account there.” (I, 93) Vladek is distracted by his collection of junk, and therefore will not have time to reflect.

         Both Jack and Vladek’s behaviors became too much for theirs wives. Pearl has a discussion with her mother, discovering that “she’s left you because you’re reconsidering Poland.” (27) Jack’s obsession with properly burying his father drives his wife away, which of course he cannot understand. Mala similarly runs off to Florida, not being able to withstand Vladek’s possessiveness, stinginess, and coldness any longer, feeling “like I’m in prison! I feel like I’m going to burst!” (I, 131) Although she was a survivor too, the war did not affect her as it did Vladek. People react in different ways to traumas. For instance, when two people break up, they deal with their emotions in different ways: one may praise the other and put themselves down, or they might curse out the other, raising themselves up in the process.

         The main question is why all the secrecy and silence about the past? One reason is fear. Vladek recall that when Art was a baby, his “arm always jumped up, like so. We joked and called you ‘heil Hitler’. Always we pushed your arm down.” (I, 30)

         Pearl feels that the young people “need to know where they are from so they don’t go back.” (46) But Jack feels differently. Pearl is an Orthodox Jew raising her children as such. Jack, due to all the loss and destruction, does not “talk to God, because he doesn’t talk to me.” (3) Pearl eventually sees, after conservation with Martin the German, that her father “kept the horror of the war from me. He also kept his anger at God away from me, for if he had taught me God had abandoned my people, I don’t know if I would have found the faith I have to carry down to his grandchildren.” (95) Jack wished for his grandchildren to be raised as Orthodox Jews, loving their religion. He knew that this would not be so had he told his daughter about all the atrocities of the war. Pearl yearned for the truth, and Jack finally gave it as they said a burial prayer over Jack’s father’s grave in Poland. Pearl realizes that her father “didn’t want to hurt me, he thought he was protecting me.” (94) That is the reason for the possessiveness. The reason Vladek threw Art’s jacket out is because it looked shabby. He gives Art a new coat, which he believes “looks on you a million dollars!” because he wants his son to look well-off, to want for nothing. (I, 69)

         Some survivors made it through the war unscarred, and resumed normal lives, having children who did not exhibit any signs of trauma. “Before the Holocaust many of these people had normal lives and supportive environments. That enabled them to put their traumas aside and resume normal lives after the war ended and they had children of their own.” (Siegel 1) But, just as the soldier returning from war has difficulty re-adjusting to civilian life, so does the prisoner have problems adjusting to being a free person, able to make their own decisions. Old habits are hard to break.

         Though a spin-off genre, second-generation Holocaust literature can give us an additional understanding of the past, one that the limited perspective first hand accounts can. Stories like Maus and Mazel present the “story of this “central trauma of the Twentieth Century” that is much more accessible to a general audience than many other accounts, because it is particularly effective at inviting emotional involvement.” (Staub 33) Seeing the traumas in two generations, the

aftermath caused by the Holocaust makes it seems not as distant, and makes the whole event, as Spiegelman said, “more human.” (I, 23)

Works Cited


Furedi, Frank. “The ‘second generation’ of Holcoaust survivors.” Spiked Politics. 24 Jan 2002: 1-8. 17 Nov 2007 http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/00000000545B.htm


Hartman, Amy. Mazel. 2005.


Siegel, Judy. "Holcaust Trauma is not passed down to descendants new study shows." The Jerusalem Post. 16 April 2007: NEWS, pg. 5. Lexis-Nexis Academic. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 17 Nov 2007 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/


Spiegelman, Art. Maus: 1 & 2. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986, 1991


Staub, Michael. “The Shoah Goes On and On; Remeberance and Representation in Art Spiegelman’s Maus.” Melus. Vo. 20, issue 3 (fall 1995): pages 33-46. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 12 Nov 2007 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/


Wiseman, Hadas, Metzl, Einat and Jacques P. Barber. “Anger Guolt and Intergenerational Communication of Trauma in the Interpersonal Narratives of Second Generation Holocaust Survivors.” American Journal of Orthopyschiatry. Vol. 76, issue 2 (2006): pages 176-184. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 14 Nov 2007 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/


Someone Completely Different

| | Comments (0)

Daniella Choynowski

9/24/2007

Writing About Literature

Dr Jerz

Someone Completely Different

         Hamlet is one of the most famous plays ever written. Nearly everyone can quote a line from the play, especially the “to be or not to be speech”:

“To be or not to be, that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them….” (III.i.56-60)

         When asked, many would say that Hamlet was talking about suicide in the speech. Historically, this passage has been defined as a suicide soliloquy, that Hamlet, cracking under the pressure of the monstrous task ahead of him, was contemplating killing himself. However, if the words of the speech are examined more closely and the events of play thus far are considered, evidence suggests that Hamlet may not have been speaking of suicide, but of something far nobler: self-sacrifice.

         It is near impossible to read Hamlet without having some pre-conceptions. After all, wouldn’t Hamlet being the world’s “greatest play” mean that it would be the most famous? Teachers of literature and drama have found that “one of the biggest parts of the job is unteaching” (Cohen 1). Students often read Hamlet, and that is all they do. They often assume to be true what they have been told in the past about Hamlet, not bothering to search for evidence. Nothing can be discovered if all that is done is reading. Analysis of the text leads to new and different discoveries, which can lead to different interpretations of a character. What one person sees in the text of Hamlet may not be what another person sees. While “Hamlet is different and strange; we cannot help reading it with some pre-conceptions, but we need to also find the experience new” (2).

         Combing through the text and examining every phrase in the speech can reveal a different meaning. The beginning of the speech is clearly talking about death: to exist or not to exist. However, the next few lines can be perplexing. What exactly are “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? We must backtrack and recount everything that has happened to Hamlet thus far. What is outrageous fortune? “Hamlet’s heroic and warlike father is now dead. The ambition and lust that drove Claudius to murder the king, the sexual passion that led Gertrude to the hasty wedding that began Claudius’ reign…and the answering demands for revenge” are the unpredicted events that have befallen our hero (Fisher 5). So what is outrageous fortune? Outrageous fortune is all these recounted events. All were unexpected. Hamlet has been hurt by these entire goings on (the “slings and arrows”) (5).

         Hamlet suffers from unpredictable obstacles, but he has a chance to correct an injustice. But in doing so, he may also die. Let’s face it: it is near impossible to kill a king and get away with it.“The promise of certainty” is what causes Hamlet’s delay (Zamir 5).

         “The undiscovered country, from which whose bourn no traveler returns, puzzles the will…thus conscience does make cowards of us all” (III.i.79-83). No one knows what happens to a soul after death. This fear of the unknown, Hamlet is human, and scared of the unknown. Suffering may be terrible, but it is also familiar. So is it better to stay suffering, but where you know what is to come?

         “Taking arms against a sea of troubles” refers to the multitude of issues that life has thrown at Hamlet. “And by opposing end them” that Hamlet has to fight. He has to fight against all the things that have happened to him by avenging the one event that all subsequent events stem from: his father’s murder. Fighting, however, would mean marking himself for death. The question is not “to be nor not to be”, but is whether Hamlet is willing to die to correct an injustice? Hamlet, then must decide whether to sacrifice himself for the common good or to live amongst all the tragedy. So yes, it can be said that hamlet was speaking of killing himself. But, he was not speaking of suicide. “He is not a coward” (Zamir 10). Suicide is a quick but permanent escape from life’s crippling-at-times troubles. Self-sacrifice is far nobler. To do what is right is seldom easy. It takes person of great strength with a tremendous sense of justice to make such a sacrifice. Hamlet must then decide if he is such a person. If he wasn’t, the play would not end with Hamlet dueling unskilled against a swordsman he knows is about as skilled as he is, which is to say, not that skilled (“but to know a man well were to know yourself” V.ii.135-136). Preparing for the match, Hamlet knows something is amiss (“I shall win at the odds. But thou wouldst not think how ill all’s here about my heart.” 195-196 ). Hamlet has a sinking suspicion that he will lose and die (since he knows Claudius’ history of under-handedness, i.e the England incident). Hamlet becomes that noble person, deciding to fight anyway. Horatio begs him to reconsider, but his mind is made up. Hamlet may lose, Hamlet may die, but one thing is certain: he has passed to point of no return. “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ‘tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. if it be not now, yet it will come” (204-207). The situation is out of Hamlet’s hands. It is all up to God now.

         Some may say that Hamlet went mad with grief over his father's death and mother's hasty marriage to his usurping uncle. It could also be said that Hamlet, not mad to begin with, finally cracked under the pressure of the daunting task before him. And it is also possible that Hamlet sacrificed himself. All of these interpretations of Hamlet's character are possible. The evidence is there in the text. It all depends on how the reader interprets it.

Works Cited

1. Cohen, Michael. “On Reading Hamlet for the First Time”. College Literature. Vol. 19. issue 1(fall 92): pages 48-60.EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Sept 2007. http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu:2053/ehost/selectdb?vid=1&hid=101&sid=9291f0e9-5cb3-4c37-9d68-d70ca9641fcc%40sessionmgr102

2. Fisher, P. “Thinking About Killing: Hamlet and the Paths Among the Passions”. Raritan. Vol. 11 Issue 1 (summer 91): pages 43-78. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Sept 2007. http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu:2053/ehost/selectdb?vid=1&hid=101&sid=9291f0e9-5cb3-4c37-9d68-d70ca9641fcc%40sessionmgr102

3. Shakespeare, William. "Hamlet." The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama. Ed. W. B. Worthen.. Boston, MA: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2007.

4. Zamir, Tzachi. “Doing Nothing”. Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisplinary Study of Literature. Vo. 35 Issue 3 (September 2002): pages 167-82. Literary Resource Center. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Sept 2007. http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu:2067/servlet/LitRC?locID=gree87291


 

Books as Power

| | Comments (0)
 

Daniella Choynowski

5/7/2007

EL 336: Topics in Media and Culture

Dr. Jerz

Books as Books: Books as Power

         Since the standardization of print and subsequent distribution growth, books have served an illuminative function, stimulating in people the growth of new provocative ideas. Along with that power came the threat and fear of change. John W. Studebaker wrote that “books are among our best allies in the fight to make democracy work” (Fishburn 234) because they encourage free and independent philosophy and thought. Book burning was a tool used by “enemies of books-of all free and independent thought” (230) to attempt to rid society of individual thought. The novels 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 both serve as examples of the function of book burning/destruction- and how it fails.

         Ultimately, book burning fails to achieve the desired effect of uniform thought because “no man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever” (Fishburn 240).

Uniform thought, in the utopian sense, is necessary in 1984 for happiness; if there is no opposition, there is continuous peace. There is an entire department that works on the destruction of “any kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance” (41). The books contain thoughts that could complete undo what Big Brother and The Party have started with Newspeak, which aims to replace old words with the new so that “thoughtcrime [is] literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to describe it” (53). One of the biggest threats to Oceania is perpetuated “tyrant” Emmanuel Goldstein’s The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism. “The book” contained all of the Party’s secrets, which they called “a compendium of all the heresies” (0. Theory and Practice revealed all the secrets of the Party. The constant war continued regardless of the fact that the three world superpowers “have no material cause for fighting” (190). Instead, the war is “a war for labor power” (191), a motivation tool to keep productivity up. Goldstein wrote of the past desire that the world would develop into a “society unbelievably rich, leisured, orderly and efficient” (193). Instead, Oceania developed into a totalitarian state. “Experiment and invention” (193) heading towards a utopian goal halted because “scientific and technical progress depended on the empirical habit of thought, which could not survive in a strictly regimented society” (193). Most existing copies of Goldstein’s novel were seized by the thoughtpolice, who “destroy them almost as fast as we can produce them” (181) said O’Brien. Though O’Brien was later revealed to be one of the Party’s innermost henchmen, he speaks the truth about the results of book destruction: “The book is indestructible. If the last copy were gone, we could reproduce it almost word for word” (181). Book burning and destruction “does not destroy the idea” (Fishburn 234).

          The human’s desire for reasoning, the “why”, cannot be extinguished by society; curiosity is ingrained and natural. In Fahrenheit 451’s world, reading is illegal and book burning is the main occupation. Montag and crew arrive at a house to destroy a stack of books, only to be confronted by the owner, who screams “you can’t ever have my books!” (35). The woman stands as a relic from the old days when independent thought and discourse reigned. Now, society functions as a “pleasure dome”, where books’ “hard-earned and disturbing messages [are replaced] with ‘fun’ experiences” (Trout 1). After the woman’s suicide, Montag becomes disturbed by his job; he wonders what “could make a woman stay in a burning house”, and assumes that “there must be something there” (47) in books. He questions fire chief Beatty, who explains that “books disturb people by posing questions and contradicting each other” (1). Since questioning not “how a thing was done, but why” (Bradbury 55) is considered dangerous philosophy, and not pure hedonistic pleasure. The pleasure dome masks reality. Montag reasons that “because we’re having so much fun, we’ve forgotten the world” (65).

          Bradbury’s novel is a figurative illustration of Plato’s allegory of the cave. Hedonism masks the reality of the world and casts a shadow of the world as solely good and only existing to pleasure its inhabitant. As Montag discovers books, he is untied from the rock and his eyes are open to the truth: “the world is starving, but we’re well fed…the world works hard and we play… [that’s] why we’re hated so much” (65). Reality is full of emotions other than pleasure; there is also pain.

         The questioning of the world is brought on by the reading of provocative material; the ideas found in books allow people to examine themselves in a way that rules and commands can never encourage. Books, for Montag, “can get us half out of the cave…they might just stop us from making the same damn mistakes again” (65). Without the provocation brought on by the alternative ideas contained in literature, society is at a standstill.

         Thought the novels serve as exaggerated observations, what we can take from both is that book destruction cannot eliminate the human’s curiosity for thought-provoking material or destroy independent thought and reason. “Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory” (Fishburn 236).

Works Cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. 7th. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953.

Fishburn, Matthew. “Books Are Weapons: Wartime Responses to the Nazi Bookfires of 1933.” Book History 10:1 (2007): 233-51. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 7 May 2008 http://maura.setonhill.edu/~library/

Orwell, George. 1984. centennial. New York: Plume-Harcourt Brace, 1949.

Trout, Paul. “Fahrenheit 451 Revisited.” National Forum 81:2 (spring 2001): 3-4. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 7 May 2008 http://maura.setonhill.edu/~library/






On the Ephemerality of Memory and Preservation Technology

| | Comments (0)

Daniella Choynowski

4/23/2008

EL 336

History and Future of the Book

Dr Jerz

On the Ephemerality of Memory and Preservation Technology

          Socrates’ response to “the sociological earthquake of society” (Brockmeir 20) was his fear that the discovery of print “will create forgetfulness in the learner’s souls, because they will not use their memories” (Plato 362). “Remembering…is a fundamental concern of every human society” (Brockmeier 23). The Greeks saw the importance of knowledge; it is a device that “binds individuals together” into a “considerate body of thoughts...beliefs, and concepts of self” (18). For this reason, they placed great value in their primary storage system: the memory. The Greeks spent so much time memorizing the old that there was “little room for original thought or emotional disagreement” (Bronfen 20). As society outgrew the mind’s capacity for knowledge, new preservation systems were invented. The book became an extension of the mind, holding what the mind could not. The book’s storage durability was superseded by the invention of the computer. “With each new metaphor we place a different filter in front of our perception of memory” (Randall 613). None of these systems are concrete; in fact, all are manipulatable. If we examine the computer and the book as extensions of the mind, using Orwell’s 1984 and Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom as exaggerations which criticize our dependence on preservation technology, we can come to the conclusion that both mediums are as manipulatable and ephemeral as mind memory itself.

          “For Plato…memory is the golden path to the highest intellectual and spiritual truths a human being could know” (Brockmeier 16). He believed that life without the ability to memorize would be as mundane as an infant’s life, a sort of “shadow-world” (16). When looking at the life of an infant versus an adult, we can see that memory is a “the currency of everyday thought and interaction” (Randall 612). With basic knowledge of the world, humans are able to function as rational beings. Those who are enlightened are those who acquire more and more knowledge, filling up their mind stores. Knowledge itself is an imprint of the past, which only existed in Ancient Greece as the metaphorical “all-encompassing storeroom” called memory (Brockmeir 16). However efficient memory seemed to the Greeks, the mind was and is limited in its capacity and ability to remember and recall. Compacting large amount of knowledge into such a small container resulted in “the stacking of items [memories] in layers, one on top of the other, so that buried items are more difficult to reach” (Randall 618). “Life in any true sense is absolutely impossible without forgetfulness,” nor are the moments we remember best those most recent (620). The human mind conducts an inadvertent “automatic editing over which we have little or no control” (619). As cultures continue to evolve, “so do their memory practices and their ideas of what is worth and desirable to be remembered” (Brockmeier 20). Our minds are continually being conditioned. We only remember the instances where something unusual happens; the memories become like signatures, conveying “something significant about us and about the distinctive perspective fromwhich we” see the world (Randall 619). The term “selective perception” has been used in describing person who “only hears what they want to hear” (Brockmeier 22). However, the cliché applies to all memories. Just because a person does not remember all of what was said does not mean that they are deliberately omitting information. “The words of the master were most important to Socrates. He saw manuscript as unnecessary, for what was said would always remain, or at least he hoped (Choynowski 2). What is significant about the content of a speech to the author is not guaranteed to be the same as what the listener values.

          It is highly unlikely that the brain will recall an event with 100% accuracy because “actual experiences are constantly being broken up into their component pieces and are being added…bit by bit…such that no coherent whole remains” (Randall 622). Life is essentially a series of events, constantly creating “gaps, distortions, contradictions, and other incoherences” (Brockmeier 22) in our memories. During the process of reconstruction, which we more commonly refer to as recall or remembering, whatever is not concluded by the brain to be important is thrown away, “to drift from a short life in consciousness into oblivion” (22). Thus, “every act of remembering is not a “straightforward recollection of the past…but always a reinterpretation” (Randall 623). Memory by itself is dangerous because it is “a writing that…is written over a previous writing” (Brockmeier 25). It is a “kind of sedimentary layer of insights and impressions” (Randall 624). For these reasons, we should never place truth in memory alone.

          “Man, because of the methods of preservation, had been "little given to analysis" (Havelock 49). New knowledge could not come about because mankind was so concerned with preserving the past. The invention of manuscript was essentially “the removal of pressure to memorize” (101). The mind no longer needed to fill to capacity because books became an extension of the mind. Not only were new discoveries being made, but as manuscript became more available “the literacy rate rose because the usefulness of the knowledge of reading and writing grew rapidly” (Gorniak-Kocikowska 455).

          Swarms of people were now able to be enlightened like never before. But the public then became dependent on text to supply them with knowledge; people took what was being printed as absolute truth. “As the dissemination of texts greatly widened, the [authority’s] control over people’s thoughts became more and more tenuous” (455). This realization is best demonstrated by Orwell’s 1984, a post World War Two commentary on the world’s superpowers. The protagonist, on a daily basis, receives in his inbox “articles or new items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, as the official phrase had it, to rectify” (39). Essentially, Winston was copy-editing history, rectifying “the original figures by making them agree with the later ones” (40). Nothing “which conflicted with the needs of the moment” was “ever allowed to remain on record” (41). The evidence was then thrown down tubes aptly titled “memory holes” (39). The essential aim of the Party’s tactics here was that if a person remembered something contradictory from the past, they would have no evidence to back it up with. And, since everyone else “had no memories of anything greatly different” (and wouldn’t dare admit it if they did indeed recall), the person would just assume that their memory was wrong and would go on continuing to trust the Party (61). They have been conditioned to not be able to spot “the difference between an alleged illusion produced by the media and a real reality” (Brofen 23).

Not only were texts that contradicted the Party removed, but any literature that contains the mention of something that could possibly undermine the Party’s authority was required to be removed. A man is imprisoned and tortured because he “allowed the word God to remain at the end of a line” of poetry (Orwell 237).

Perhaps 1984, which was published in 1949, was in part a response to the infamous Berlin book burning. The Nazis, “in a spectacular demonstration of their recently acquired power…burnt about 20,000 books…by democratic, socialist and Jewish” (Brockmeier 29). Part of their power came from their ability to destroy, and therefore make people forget, “those elements of the past that are no longer in meaningful relations with the present” (31). The ideas contained in the 20,000 books didn’t fit into the Nazi’s reconstruction of the world. The German poet Heinrich Heine [a Jew] once made a remark, which is now taken by many to have been eerie foreshadowing, which stated “where they burn books, in the end, they too burn men” (38). Assmann calls this Orwellian Nazi tactic “structural amnesia” (31).

          “Social and cultural truths” are “governed by clarity of thought and language” (Brofen 25). Rather than just erasing evidence of contradiction, and therefore manipulating memory, the Party further skewered memory with the invention of Newspeak. Syne, a proponent of the system, speaks of it as the process of “destroying words…cutting the language down to the bone” (52). The objective of Newspeak was that by replacing and eliminating words with new ones (hence the “new” in Newspeak), “thoughtcrime” (the occurrence of a feeling or memory that directly contradicted or went against the Party’s beliefs) would not be possible. “There will be no words in which to express it” (53). There will no longer be a possibility of defying the Party because the words with which to vocalize the memory will not exist. The thought will stay inside the person and die.

One of the most blatantly open displays of memory manipulation occurs when Winston and Julia are standing in a square in Oceania during Hate Week. Two criminals from the “war” with Eurasia are about to be executed. It then is announced that Oceania was not (and thus never had been) at war with Eurasia. The Party had decided that they were now at war (as they “always had been”) Eastasia. The one huge factor: the square, which was filled with thousands of people, was covered in Eurasian hate propaganda. The materials had been there all week, as had news reports documented the war’s “progress”. But the “documents and banners with which the square was decorated were all wrong” (185). The contradiction had to be due to sabotagers. The people began to rip down the “offensive material”. Winston realized the horrible truth that even though thousands of people had seen the banners, posters, and pamphlets (physical proof of the Party’s deception), that “within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere” (186). There would be no way to prove otherwise. The people would just assume that their memory was either a creation of their imagination or yet another sabotage from Goldstein. “Human memory is an instrument which, if the need arises, lies and deceives” (Randall 628).

Though Orwell’s work was completely fictional, he wrote the book as a commentary about people’s belief in the concrete truth of text, as well as the material nature of the manuscripts as well. Technology journalist Laura Wonnacott remarks that “you can now outlive your will” (54). As the demand for (cheaper) paper grew, it “began to be manufactured using processes and chemicals that were highly acidic” (DeCandido 16). “It is estimated that 70 percent of all books printed in [the 19th century] will be unusable” (54). The acidic paper, after about 30 years or so, begins to rapidly decay (this is why your parent’s wedding photographs are yellow and cracking). There has been a recent movement in using “acid free paper”, which will last “a minimum of 300 years” (54). Aside from the paper itself, the ink used in the printing of documents is “susceptible to fading” (Wonnacott 54). Dye ink fades after about a decade, while pigment ink fades slower (a century). A recent solution has been to print on acid-free paper using an ink made from carbon and plastic, which “literally gets melted on the page” (54). Despite recent innovations in manuscript preservation, much of our history is still sitting on shelves, slowly deteriorating.

          Due to the vulnerability of manuscript preservation, and the importance we continually put on the preservation of memory, yet another extension of the mind, or “memory device”, had to be invented: the computer (Brockmeier 25). It was meant to transcend the physical barriers of deterioration of manuscripts while at the same time providing near-lightening recall of documents, whose storage space is aptly titled “memory”. There are other obvious parallels between the titles of functions of the computer and the mind. Inputting, when referring to mind memory, “involves tripping the events of our lives…from what we can immediately use of them or consume from them” (Randall 618). Applied to a computer, it is entering into the system data that can be useful now or later. Encoding is another one; the conversion of speech into written language and the transformation of data into binary code for input both fall under this category.

Aside from the obvious parallels, the computer also runs into a similar problem as its predecessor did. The information stored in the machine fleeting, maybe even more so than the book. While “digitization could improve access to materials…too valuable or fragile for regular physical handling,” computer technologies “may become obsolete, even forgotten, in a very short time as new media types…are developed” (Lawrence 14). The average timeline of function for a software program is “3-5 years”; “seven years is often considered a lifetime” (14). Digital preservation is not “optimal for long-term…preservation.” An ideal solution would be to migrate the stored data each time the digital medium needed to be upgraded. There are two problems with this “solution”; not only is it a pain (“imagine having to open and resave thousands of documents created in Microsoft Word every few years”), but the transfer of the data does not necessarily constitute an exact copy. “With each migration, [there is the possibility that] some level of functionality or even data will be lost” (Astle and Muir 69). The system may them read the inputted data as “strange renderings of your documents from which the original can’t be recovered” (14). Some computer storage systems use a combination of storage film which “bestows [a] 500 year shelf life” and a scanner to read the images, the issue of the ephemeral scanner technology still withstanding.

The computer’s storage facility is also just as manipulatable as print can be. Franciso Delich writes that the memory of the mind and the book can “never be perfect like a computer’s because it remains ever open to a reinterpretation of actions” (70). His idea of “perfect” constitutes a system whose memory can be partly or wholly replaced…but nothing forgotten will come back, no memory will disturb the perfect order of the system” (69). There is no signature that can trigger a recall. Once deleted from the hard drive, the imprint is most likely gone for good.

          The dependency on memory as digital preservation is satirized in Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In Doctorow’s dystopic painting of the future, the assurance of life continuation depends almost entirely on your memory. Each person is required to frequently “backup” their consciousness into a computer database. Thus there is a cure for death; when someone dies, their backed-up “soul” can be uploaded into a stocked clone. The danger is that if you forget to backup your memories for a week or so, you “leave…[yourself] vulnerable for an entire week until the next reminder” (31). If no backup is saved, a person’s mind will vanish with their earthly body.

          In real life, sometimes “what we think are our memories are sometimes others memories about us, incidents we have overheard them refer to yet unwittingly claimed as our own” (Randall 621). In yet another literal interpretation, the Bitchum society has conquered the problem of vanquished memories. “Third party POV’s…synthesized memories”(35) can be uploaded into the clone’s mind. Through literally fragments of data, a fuzzy storyline can be reconstructed to give the recently reanimated clarity on what has occurred. Of course, there are obviously ample opportunities for the people who did you harm to manipulate and digitally edit/insert memories to “give you” an account of what they want you to think happened. Though Jules is murdered and subsequently recovered, he loses memories from the 15 min between the murder and the backup. The people he suspects of attempting to assassinate him [which is really nothing more than a semi-major inconvenience, but painful and irritating nonetheless] have “offered to submit their backups as proof” (43) that they are guitless. Jules isn’t buying their [what he perceives as] fake sincerity. In order to execute a clean distraction from their revamping of the Hall of Presidents [which he was vehemently against], Jules believes Debra and her cronies had him shot and then “fucked with their backups” to ensure that no proof of the crime existed. Just as memory is constructed in the mind, fragments are pieced together in order to form a re-constructed reality that is not necessarily accurate. And, like when the transfer of data from one system to another occurs, some information is lost. “You’re not really an atom-for-atom copy. You’re a clone, with a copied brain-that’s not the same” (42). Jules’ fate towards the end of the novel, in which he realizes he will lose an entire year of his life due to not having made a back-up since before the murder, stands as a commentary on the impermanence and vulnerability of the computer’s storage systems

          Plato once wrote that “everything flows [and] nothing stands still.” As much as we would like to deny that memories, “our renewable source for shared wisdom,” (Randall 628) are concrete and infallible, through a thorough examination of the natures and flaws of the three storage mediums (mind, book, and computer), we can come to the conclusion that while there is some sense of permanence about each, all are malleable and susceptible to manipulation. Flawed as they may be, both extensions of the mind can offer valuable forms of protection against the “shady villain” of “forgetting” (Brockmeier 15). Books can help clear the mind so that new knowledge was able to be acquired without having to loose what had already been learned. The computer can offer the preserved information freedom from physical decay and total oblivion. Neither, however, can last forever.

Works Cited:

Astle, PeterJ and Muir, Adrienne. “Digitization and preservation in public libraries and archives.” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 34 (Jun 2002): 67-79. Sage Journals Online. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://online.sagepub.com/

Brockmeir, Jens. “Remembering and Forgetting: Narrative as Cultural Memory.” Culture Psychology 8 (Mar 2002): 15-43. Sage Journals Online. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://online.sagepub.com/

Bronfen, Elisabeth. “Reality Check: Image Affects and Cultural Memory.” A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 17:1 (Spring 2006): 20-46. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/

Choynowski, Daniella. “Masters and Memories.” EL 336: History and Future of the Book. 11 March 2008.

DeCandido, Grace Anne A. “Landmark Declaration To Support Book Preservation Signed by Authors, Publishers.” Library Journal 114: 6 (1 Apr 1989): 16. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/

Delich, Francisco. “The Social Construction of Memory and Forgetting.” Diogenes 51 (Feb 2004): 65-75. Sage Journals Online. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://online.sagepub.com/

Doctorow, Cory. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. New York: TOR, 2003.

Gorniak-Kocikowska, Krystyna. "Revolution and the Library." Library Trends 49:3 (Winter 2001): 454-471. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/

Havelock, Eric. The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986.

Lawrence, H. Andrew. “When Analog Outpaces Digital: New Perspectives On Preserving Documents.” National Underwriter / Life & Health Financial Services 105: 23 (4 Jun 2002): 14-15. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Plume/Harcourt Brace, 2003.

Plato. "Phaedrus." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Evelyn Tribble and Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. pgs. 360- 364.

Randall, William J. “From computer to Compost: Rethinking Our Metaphors for Memory.” Theory Psychology 17 (Oct 2007): 611-633. Sage Journals Online. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://online.sagepub.com/

Wonnacott, Laura and Talley, Brooks. “Preserving Documents requires your making a greater investment than an ink-jet printer.” InfoWorld 21:32 (9 Aug 99): 54. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 22 Apr 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/


Masters and Memories

| | Comments (0)
 

Daniella Choynowski

3/10/2008

Topics in Media and Culture

Dr. Jerz

Masters and Memories: the Grecian shift from oral to manuscript culture:

Sitting at the feet of his teacher, Socrates, Phaedrus listened as his master warned him against the rise of manuscript culture. “For this discovery of your will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories” (Plato 362). For all the preliterate Greeks, knowledge was equated with memory. Meaning that “repetition must be guaranteed to be faithful or else the culture loses its coherence” (Havelock 69). Oral culture had been used for so long. It was a habit and a “bias of communication” for the Greeks (Havelock 42). The change meant, to the Greeks, that their culture would disintegrate because people would stop using their memories. His concerns that society would regress because of the lack of memory usage were countered by the way manuscript improved how the Grecians comprehended/analyzed, behaved, and reasoned. The student Phaedrus stays convinced of his master’s arguments against manuscript. Plato, in real life, departed from Socrates’ teachings. Most notable was the fact that Plato became a prolific writer, preserving many of his master’s teachings in written plays. The masters were so revered because of their storehouses of knowledge. They believed that the words should affect the listener so much that there would be no need for further preservation, for the words should stick forever. To Socrates, the introduction of manuscript meant the loss of respect for the masters and a loss of reverence for the words. Socrates’ concerns about the loss of respect for his teachings were trumped by the fact that Plato preserved them in manuscript form for further generations to study, thus making Socrates more revered and respected throughout history than he ever was in life.

In his study of preliterate cultures, Joe Napora uses the Indian culture as a model for pre-literate Greece. He found that when introduced to manuscript, the old people [masters] “were suddenly useless” (69). They were “no longer essential” (69). Perhaps Socrates feared that he and the rest of the Grecian elders would be considered useless now that any person, young or old, could know what he knew. He feared replacement, a loss of respect for himself.

Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, compares Socrates to Christ and offers another reason to why the man did not write:

“Socrates and Christ, being teachers, did not connect their teachings to writing… on account of his own dignity, for the more excellent the teacher, the more excellent his manner of teaching ought to be…the most excellent of teachers should adopt that manner of teaching whereby his doctrine would be imprinted on the hearts of his hearers…he was teaching them as one having power. For which reason even among the pagans Pythagoras and Socrates, who were most excellent teachers, did not want to write anything” (McLuhan 98).

The words of the master were most important to Socrates. He saw manuscript as unnecessary, for what was said would always remain (at least he thought).But all men die, and so did Socrates. He was sentenced to death, drinking a mixture containing poison Hemlock. Who would hear his words now? Plato, “the quintessential literate conscious of his time,” had the foresight to manually preserve his master’s teachings (Biakolo 48). Over 19 of Plato’s early plays include Socrates discussing philosophy with a young student, never called Plato (although it is implied that the students represents him). Recounting his experiences, Plato wrote so that future generations could study Socrates’ teachings. Philosophy students and others today continue to study Socrates. So, in reality, manuscript did not cause a loss of respect for Socrates. It fostered further respect for the man and a higher reverence for his words.

Socrates’ other fear was that society would progress backwards due to the lack of memory usage. Grecian learning of knowledge, not new but preserved (“communal knowledge”), was done by listening to lecture and through oral recitation [poetry]. Poetry was recited “in heavily rhythmic, balanced patterns” in order to stick in people’s minds. The performance of poetry was known as what we now call “theater”. Theater was one of the centers of Greek life; it shaped “the tradition that guides social behavior” (Havelock 74). Unfortunately, many of the poetic performances are lost to us now; these stories were well known back then and there was no [foreseen] need to write them down. Euripides created over 95 plays, but many were not written down. Now, only 18 survive because “men have short memories” (Sundiata 443). Language had been action/ performance, and “until phonetic writing split apart thought and action, there was no alternative but to hold men responsible for their thoughts as well as their actions" (McLuhan 32). Man had no filter. Thought equaled action; if you felt angry, you took it out on the person. “Primitive (oral) thought is irrational, illogical, and unscientific (Biakolo 50).Perhaps this is why the term “savage”, which means pre-literate, took on a brutish, rash meaning. Speaking was “done in spurts called “idea units” at the rate of about one in two seconds, corresponding roughly to our thinking rate (55). One idea at a time was produced. The writing process was much slower. By the time it took to write one idea down, several more had already been formulated. “The result is that we have time to integrate a succession of ideas into a single linguistic whole in a way that is not available in speaking (Chafe 36). Writing split thought and action in that it caused us to think about our actions (because we had been inadvertently trained to think about what we were writing down). We now thought about how we should act in certain situations. Reasoning was essentially cause and effect; what affect would the action have on a person and the other people around them? Culture became more civilized because people discovered alternatives to war. So maybe we owe ethics to “the substitution of literacy for orality” (Havelock 3).

          Now that the “warehouse of storage, no longer acoustic but visible material, was extendible…the documented contents need no longer relate only what was familiar and so easy of recollection” (109-110). The brain was limited in its capacity. There was constant pressure to memorize the oral knowledge; old knowledge had to be pushed out of the brain to make room for new knowledge. This is why memories are faulty, in that they can only hold a certain amount of information. Our minds remember what we think is important. Our judgment can be faulty. What is important can be very different from what we think. In David Olson and Angela Hildyard’s observation, two groups of people responded very differently to a story. The differences depended on how the information was received. The listeners paid “primary attention to the theme of the story, building a coherent representation of what it meant” (Biakolo 57). They followed the main concept, but missed out on all the little details, which gave clues as to why the plot took certain twists. “The readers, on the other hand, are able to pay closer attention to the meaning of the sentences, recalling more incidental but mentioned details” (57). The reader was able to better recall specific events which were detrimental to the story. The words, when written down, took on deeper meanings than their oral counterparts. The subtexts, what the words say but don’t say, can offer insight to what may have been a vague speech. They are “deeper conceptual sources” (51). Man, because of the methods of preservation, had been “little given to analysis” (49). Now that man had texts to examine, he was now able to pay closer attention to the concepts contained in the information. We could re-read if something was not clear, whereas speech vanished the second it was uttered.

          “The removal of pressure to memorize…has as its first effect some removal of the corresponding pressure to memorize...has as its first effect some removal of the corresponding pressure to narrativize all preservable statement. This had freed the composer to choose subjects for a discourse which were not necessarily agents, that is, persons” (Havelock 101). Man was now free. Beforehand, the tightly packed storage system of the mind had not had room for thoughts of “individualism and the self, conflict and skepticism, or detached and abstract thought” (Biakolo 49). The mind was the same for almost everyone, for they all had to learn the same history, the same facts. Thought was based in memory, which was based in “the law of participation” (49). Everything was taken as fact. There had not been time to discern whether a “fact” could be false. There was now time to ponder, since all other knowledge was preserved and available to us to consult in a concrete form. “Once the reader found himself set free to compose a language of theory, with its abstract subjects and conceptualized predicates, he also realized that he was employing new mental energies” (Havelock 49). New theories, new ways of thinking were born. Instead of taking everything at face value, man was now free to question to world. Instead of observing the way things were, man could now delve into why they were. By investigating, man could discover the basis and causes for actions. Instead of assuming that the Gods controlled everything, man discovered why and how things worked. In finding out how something worked, man could now learn how to foster it, if it was good, and eliminate it, if it was bad. This is how medicine came to be. Using reasoning, man found the cause of an ailment. Experimenting with variables, he could test what would stop it. An ailment did not necessarily mean death because cures and treatments were discovered. If a family member moved away, it was not necessarily goodbye forever. Communication could now be spread to other regions. New laws came into practice as theories on how to improve life were tested and proven to work. The old ones had kept society at a stand-still. Man did not have to assume that life always had to be that way it was; could it be better?

Socrates was right and wrong. Manuscript did not cause him and the rest of the masters and their works to lose respect, but allowed them to be revered throughout centuries. And while we have stopped using our memories as libraries, but for a good reason: when manuscript culture freed people’s minds, they were able to explore new and different subjects. The new accumulation of knowledge was too much to store in people’s minds; an external storage system had to be developed. As new knowledge emerged, society grew. Man had time to question why and how the world and its elements worked. “Without modern literacy, which means Greek literacy, we would not have science, philosophy, written law or literature, nor the automobile or the airplanes” (Biakolo 43). Books preserved what the mind did not have the capacity to hold, allowing society to move forward. “The foreign and unfamiliar no longer constituted a threat to a stable grasp of reality, because the ever-expanding frontiers of knowledge demand newer and newer measures of the true, the good, and the beautiful” (45).

Works Cited

Biakolo, Emevwo. "On the theoretical foundations of orality and literacy." Research in African Literatures. 30:2 (summer 99): 42-86. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 7 Mar 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/

Chafe, Wallace. “Integration and Involvement in Speaking, Writing, and Oral Literature.” Spoken and Written Language: Exploring Orality and Literacy. Ed. Deborah Tannen. Norwood: Albex, 1982.

Havelock, Eric. The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Guttenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto
Press, 1967.

Napora , Joe. "Orality and Literacy, Intimacy and Alienation: the internal, external, contradictions of teaching composition ." Changing English: Studies in Reading & Culture 9:1(Mar 2002): 67-76. EBSCOhost. Seton Hill University Greensburg, PA. 7 Mar 2008 http://reeveslib.setonhill.edu/

Plato. "Phaedrus." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Evelyn Tribble and Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. pgs. 360- 364.

Sundiata. "Two versions of an oral tale." Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Evelyn Tribble and Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. pgs. 443-452.




















































In Defense of Manuscript Culture

| | Comments (0)
 

Daniella Choynowski

2/23/2008

EL 336: Topics in Media and Culture

Dr. Jerz

In Defense of Manuscript Culture

           Manuscript was once a prestigious skill, but with the development of the printing press and typeface, the art has been devalued. “Handwriting is…a begrudged substitute. Many of us resort to handwriting only when we have to” (Baron 60). “Handwriting moved from an art to a science” (Baron 58). Manuscript was once seen as an expression of social rank and a mirror of the individual soul. Manuscript culture transformed the world; it changed how we thought, how we judged others, and preserved information that would have been otherwise lost. Instead of standardizing society, the standardization of print brought out the individual self.

           Handwriting involved the writer deeply. “It is “the instrument of the mind” (Baron 59). “Until phonetic writing split apart thought and action, there was no alternative but to hold men responsible for their thoughts as well as their actions” (McLuhan 32). Writing split thought and action; that is, it caused us to think about our actions before hand (because we had been trained to think about what we were writing down). Before that, thought and action were one. Humans would blurt out what they were thinking, which doesn’t always make sense to the receiver without some refinement. Thoughts can be rash. Writing stops us from making rash decisions that often turn out badly. Writing causes us to think about the words we communicate. And proof-reading allows you to think once more about what you want to say. People were now able “to form their letters as they formed themselves, through moral self-evaluation and physical self-control” (Baron 59).

“Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form” (Ong 316). Writing by hand immersed the writer in the subject; he had to dive deep into himself. It was a time for reflection. Johannes Trithemius, a monk, wrote of the value of copying sacred texts. “While he writes, he is illumined; his sentiments are enkindled to total surrender…he is gradually initiated into the divine mysteries and miraculously enlightened” (473). Because the monk is so immersed in what he is writing, his entire mind is consumed by the subject. Thinking long and hard on a subject can give a person a deeper understanding.Oral speeches can only hold a person’s attention for so long; they might get distracted and only hear part of the message. “The exhortation of the preacher is lost as time passes on; the message of the scribe will last for many years…” (Trithemius 473). A textual speech can be revisited time and time again for clarification of message. “The sermon, once it is heard, vanishes into thin air; its text, if written down and read even a thousand times, does not lose its impact” (Trithemius 473). People have short memories. Nothing in the mind is forever permanent. Alzheimer’s disease causes the elderly to lose their memories, their banks of valuable information. I suppose the fading memory is why the memoir is such a treasured genre. Experiences of the past can help guide us in the future. Religion is an institution that relieves heavily on the textual. The printing press was not invented until centuries after the time of Jesus. “We would never know his will had not the zeal of the scribes put it into writing. Scribes, therefore, are the heralds of the divine” (Trithemius 472).

“Writing stays there-“down in black and white” (Elbow 136). The oral tradition was only useful for as long as a person lived. “Everybody, or almost everybody, must repeat and repeat and repeat the truths that have come down from the ancestors. Otherwise these truths will escape, and culture will be back at square one” (Ong 317). The problem with oral culture is that people have to spend so much time preserving the past that there is little time to move forward. People can die out of existence and entire cultures can be lost. “Only the tiniest fraction of languages have ever been written or ever will be. Most have disappeared or are fast disappearing, untouched by textuality” (Ong 318). Societies that never were introduced to the written word have faded from existence. It is almost as if they never were because we know nothing about who they were or their culture. We can only hypothesize through their earthly remnants. Pots and tools can only tell so much.

The style in which someone wrote often reflected how they were perceived by others. “…a gentleman’s private amanuensis [scribe] generally wrote in “secretary hand”...gentlemen themselves were likely to use the newer Italic humanist hand” (Baron 58). The scribe used a style which reflected his lower, albeit valued, status in society. People could now “evaluate the social significance of a letter-from a male? a female? a clerk? -simply by noting what hand it had been written in” (Baron 58). Script could reflect how fast a person was writing, indicating that they were taking down dictations (scribe), or how prim and proper they were (a gentleman had years of schooling and practice on penmanship). “The reader can “hear” the writer and gain a sense of her persona” (Elbow 135). Handwriting analysis, a craze that began in the late 18th century with Lavater, judged criminal activity, prospective mates, “employees and business partners” on the basis of their handwriting (Baron 58). Handwriting was used as a tool with which to judge a person, “an unfailing index of…character, moral and mental” (Baron 58). Handwritten plans on crimes could lead into the criminal’s psyche, possibly revealing motives and clues about their personality. Someone who has very legible handwriting must pay close attention to detail.

“The more standardized the type, indeed the more compelling the sense of an idiosyncratic personal self” (Eisenstein 128). We could no longer read a person’s character through their handwriting. “Sixteenth-century specimen books stripped diverse scribal “hands” of personal idiosyncrasies” (Eisenstein 126). So began the trend of the informal essay, initiated by Montaigne. The standardized print made people more aware of “their shortcomings in heir assigned roles…also of the existence of a solitary, singular self, characterized by all the peculiar traits that were unshared by others” (Eisenstein 128). Differences fascinated people; moreover, shared differences connected people to others. The essay was a “new basis for achieving intimate contact with unknown readers…[Montaigne] provided a welcome assurance that the isolating sense of singularity which was felt by the solitary reader was…capable of being widely shared” (Eisenstein 129).

“The word written on parchment will last a thousand years. The printed word is on paper…the most you can expect a book of paper to live is two hundred years” (Trithemius 474). Paper is filled with chemicals and acids that eat away at it over time.

Parchment, which was made from the “scraping and polishing of animal skin,” had a much longer shelf life (Ong 321). Now science has invented acid free paper, but that is only a recent invention. How much history has been lost because it was printed, not written, on paper?


Works Cited

Baron, Naomi. “The Art and Science of Handwriting.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Tribble, Evelyn B. & Trubek, Anne. New York: Longman, 2003. 54-61.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth. “Some Features of Print Culture.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Tribble, Evelyn B. & Trubek, Anne. New York: Longman, 2003. 124-134.

Elbow, Peter. “The Shifting Relationships between Speech and Writing.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Tribble, Evelyn B. & Trubek, Anne. New York: Longman, 2003. 135-155.

McLuhan, Marshall. The Guttenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Ong, Walter. “Writing Is a Technology that Restructures Thought.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Tribble, Evelyn B. & Trubek, Anne. New York: Longman, 2003. 315-337.

Trithemius, Johannes. “In Praise of Scribes.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Tribble, Evelyn B. & Trubek, Anne. New York: Longman, 2003. 469-476.



 

`



In Defense of Oral Culture

| | Comments (0)
 

Daniella Choynowski

2/9/08

EL 336: Topics in Media and Culture

Dr. Jerz

“In Defense of Oral Culture”

Socrates had a great fear of the new technology of the written word. Speaking to his student Phaedrus, he believed that writing would cause people to become forgetful, “because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves” (Plato 362). The great philosopher believed that the written word was going to be the downfall of the present oral society. He didn’t see the need for a new form of communication, and why would he? The oral culture had worked for centuries. Some of his fears were founded: there are several downsides to choosing written culture over oral.

For one thing, there are entire societies that can sustain themselves on the oral tradition alone. The griots of West Africa are the keepers of memories. Combination poets, storyteller, and public relations men, the griots were in charged of keeping memories of the history of the tribe, because “men have short memories”(Sundiata 443). The griots, the depositories of past knowledge, can predict the future of the country by knowing its history (443). They have survived for eons without textural culture.

I’m sure that all of us have read Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. We have also probably heard and/or seen the recording of the man delivering the speech himself, which is an altogether different experience. That is because speech contains something that text does not: unbridled emotion. It has the ability to “voice immediate sensations and expressions and feelings between individuals” (Havelock 64). Sure, there are expressive words like “devastated” and “ecstatic” that trigger an emotional memory, but it is not the same. We have all read articles in the paper about a little boy or girl who has died. Our reaction is “oh, that’s sad.” Yes, the event is unfortunate, but we wonder how it affects us. Then there is a news report with a destroyed relative sobbing over their loved one. Then our eyes start to brim with tears. Why is it that the print story barely affected us, while the video footage overwhelms us with emotion? It is because the print version cannot capture the humanity of what happened. It makes the issue seem distant and sterile, far away from us. “It can’t sing to you” (Havelock 22). But human emotion is something that flows through all of us, connecting us. Raw emotion triggers our own emotional memory; we pity and feel for the person. It is for this same reason that we cry about our own dead loved ones at a funeral for a relative of a friend. (Konstantin Stanislavski founded the first acting method through this “emotional memory” bank we have). I sobbed my eyes out at my friend’s grandmother’s funeral; not because of her actual death (I had never even met her), but because the experience reminded me of when we buried my grandmother 18 months earlier. A news blurb cannot make us feel like witnessing something can.

Writing a story of your own theories and thoughts down may seem like a great idea, a way to preserve your musings for future generations, but therein lays one problem: as soon as something is written down, it is subject to multiple interpretations. You may have had one underlying intention, one point to get across to your audience, but there is non guarantee they will get it. This variation of meaning is most evident in the production of plays, where different inflections in the spoken lines can completely change the audience’s perception of a character. Take Hamlet, for instance. Many believe the titular character to be a suicidal, whiny little boy. However, what if the “to be or not to be” speech was not uttered by someone contemplating suicide, but a scared young prince who is deliberating whether he should sacrifice himself to correct an injustice or do nothing and live among the misery? Different interpretations of Hamlet can completely change the meaning of the play. Shakespeare himself wrote most of his plays to be performed as situation comedies. He would be rolling in his grave if he saw how we have treated “the great romantic tragedy” Romeo and Juliet. That is the problem with the textual: much of it is subject to interpretation.

The written word is something that can be corrected. Just as this paper has been written, there have been several typos that have occurred. But, you will never see them because they have been eliminated, taken back; the same cannot be done with the spoken word. “We can never revise it. If we speak in the hearing of others…our words are heard by listeners who can remember them even if we say something we wish they would forget” (Elbow 137). When in a fight, the other might say, “hey, you take that back!” But it cannot be done. Many times, there is no “verbal filter”, and we say what is on our minds immediately. Fuming passion fuels these bursts of honesty. Writing takes more time, and by the time something is actually written down, that verbal intensity, that passion and emotion that caused you to speak your mind is gone.

What we say is only half of what is communicated. It is often how we say something that burns our speech into someone’s memory. The pauses, frequencies,intensities, and emphasis a person places on words separates what is important from what is not (138). This is why a written speech is never as effective as a spoken one. Ever wonder why so many people go to readings of books by their authors? It is because they want to hear the inflections and emphasis; in short, they want to hear what the author meant with his words. The author’s interpretation is the correct one. What many scholars wouldn’t give to hear Shakespeare read “Hamlet.”

Those of us of the Catholic faith are all familiar with the sacrament of confession. Most choose the private confession, where we can hide behind a silk screen and the priest cannot see our faces. Why do we choose the screen? It is so the priest cannot see the emotion in our faces, the ashamedness and fear as we confess to our most embarrassing deeds. We would rather break up with someone in an email, text, or letter because it is more sterile and less personal; more so, it is because we are scared of confrontations. We do not have to see the person’s face, nor can they see ours, thus avoiding the explosion of emotions. The written word is like that silk screen: we can hide behind it.


Works Cited

Havelock, Eric. The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1986.


Plato. “Phaedrus.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Evelyn Tribble and Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. pgs. 360-364.


Elbow, Peter. “The Shifting Relationships between Speech and Writing.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Evelyn Tribble and Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. pgs. 135-155.


Sundiata. “Two versions of an oral tale.” Writing Material: Readings from Plato to the Digital Age. Evelyn Tribble and Anne Trubek. New York: Longman, 2003. pgs. 443-452.

Choynowski experiences picture perfect Parisian getaway

| | Comments (0)

by Daniella Choynowski

staff writer

I recently spent 10 days in Paris for my capstone project and my first remark about the trip is that I thought I was going to die.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in Nogent-sur-Marne when I was driven into Paris by my host family. (The previous days had been spent in their suburb doing research and taking a bus tour of the city). I was dropped off right in front of Notre Dame and told not to stay out too late.

Famous last words.

I started walking. Coincidently, I found all the major Parisian landmarks on my walk (Sorbonne, Luxembourg, The National Opera house, Champs Elysees). I was walking the same streets that Wilde walked. I may have even sat at the same cafes he did.

Being the literary and drama nerd that I am, I spent nearly all of my money on plays and books that day.

I even found a copy of Lady Windermere's Fan that was so old it still had the NOT TO BE INTRODUCED INTO THE BRITISH EMPIRE OR UNITED STATES label across the cover. But back to the story.

It was about 8 o'clock when I realized I had better start heading back. Little did I realize that in the process of 5 hours I had walked to the other end of the city.

Running as I retraced my steps (I had not yet mastered the train system, so I only knew how to get back to Nogent from the St Michel-Notre Dame stop). Relieved, I ran into the station to buy a ticket at the counter, which was closed, along with every other business in the area.

At this point, I began to panic.

There was a machine in the wall, but I had no clue as to how to work it,. The instructions were in French and all I knew was “tu parlez anglais”.

My instinct was to run over to the Prefecture of Police for help, but I didn't want to look like a stupid tourist (too late). My next idea was the hospital right above the station.

There were two people in the entire building that spoke English, and it took forever (it seemed) before they were able to tell me how to use the automated ticket machine.

All was fine and dandy until my card was declined. The machine was only taking cash, and I had given my last 50 cent Euro piece to a gypsy.

 Thank god for the English-speaking exchange student that happened to walk down the steps and give me the money I needed.

Think it got better from here? Think again.

There is nothing more terrifying than being alone at night in a country where you don't know the language.

 Except for maybe being on the train where creepy men keep asking for your number while you are crying because you got on the wrong train. 3 TIMES.

Finally, the train pulled into the Nogent-Perreaux station, right around the corner from where I was staying. The town was 15 minutes away from Notre Dame.

How long did it take me to get home? 4 hours.

I remember kissing the floor of the apartment as I burst through the door. I began climbing the steps to my bedroom as I heard a key turn in the door.

Lorent, a member of my host family, had gotten home 10 seconds after me. There would have been hell to pay if I had been about 15 seconds later. I was so lucky, but so scared from the night that I didn't get to sleep until 5:30 in the morning.

After that night, I knew the RER/Metro system like the back of my hand. I traveled all over the city. I laid flowers on Oscar Wilde's grave. I saw Versailles, (let me tell you, Marie Antoinette had a serious spending problem).

There is a church called Sacre Couer that overlooks the entire city. When I walked into the building, I was so struck by the beauty inside and outside that I had to stand there for a good 10 minutes and take it all in.

There are many great things about America, but one thing I have never seen here is people weeping over the beauty of a church and a city view.  The French are very appreciative of all that is around them, man-made and not. They don't tear down their history like we do here.

The French reuse and adapt their history. Apartment buildings are richly engraved in Gothic style.

Pre-revolution buildings are converted into offices and restaraunts.

All chairs in the restaurants face outdoors so people can take in the sights and sounds. There is something awe-inspiring about living in the middle of all this history.

The sun was setting on my trip and in Paris as I sat down to read by Ponte Neuf on my last day. My online class had begun the day before, so I figured I may as well get some work done. That didn't happen. Just as I began to read about the ancient Greeks, three young Parisian men began to scream.

Why, you may wonder? Every 3-5 minutes or so, a tourist boat would float by. And the three young men decided to moon every boat. For about an hour.

Frustrated, I left the three moons over the Seine to get on the train for the final time.

As I was passing by Notre Dame, I heard music. I quickly ran in and saw that mass was just beginning. I sat down and listened to the service, which was sung entirely in French. After mass, I took one final look at the city, not knowing when I would return. With a heavy heart, I turned and got on the train.

I got to experience Paris in a way I never would have had I gone with a school group or parents. For 10 days, I eat, slept, and breathed French culture and history.

I got to explore every inch of the city. It was the trip of a lifetime, and it still takes my breathe away when I reflect upon it.

I have one regret. Days before I had left America, I had been dumped. I arrived in Paris sad, with a broken heart. I cannot believe that I almost let a boy ruin the greatest city in the world. 


"Twilight" delights "Harry Potter" fans

| | Comments (0)
by Daniella Choynowski

I'd like to first state that I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan, the kind that goes to book releases and movie premieres in costumes. My friend Brandi, on the other hand, takes it a step further. She recently went to  a Harry Potter convention called “Terminus”. As Brandi was telling me about the convention, she mentioned that some people had come dressed as characters from Twilight. It dawned on me that Twilight was quickly becoming the “New Harry Potter”. Naturally, I was intrigued.

When I asked Brandi if she'd read the Twilight series, she turned to me, gave me a dirty look, and said, “Oh, you're going to hate it. It's so poorly written. I could barely make it past the first few chapters.”

I knew that Brandi had to be exaggerating a bit. So I began asking other friends and acquaintances whether the book was worth reading. The reactions were split down the middle: some loved (really loved) the series, while others had a reaction similar to Brandi's.

I decided to start at the beginning, and find out myself.

I can certainly see where people would get the idea that Twilight is poorly written. The first few chapters move extremely slow, so now I know not to trust opinions of people who haven't made it up to chapter 6, where we find out a very important detail about Mr. Cullen.

Moreover, the book is full of melodrama. I get it, Meyers. Edward's a vampire. Ergo, there's going to be an element of danger present. I don't see the need to use such phrases as, “This decision was ridiculously easy to live with. Dangerously easy” (140). I can hear the “bum bum bum” in my head.

Remember in middle and high school when your English teacher would praise you for using flowery, descriptive language. Stephanie Meyers has not forgotten this rule, for the book is full of eye-roll inducing sentences that continually describe Edward's physical appearance, like “His beauty stunned my mind.-it was too much,an excess I couldn't grow accustomed to”(281). I still can't figure out the audience that Meyers was writing to. Sometimes, Twilight felt like a adolescent/high school problems book, at other times an adult romance novel. I guess maybe she was trying to draw both audiences.

Despite the literary critics in me, I liked it. Edward's “perfection” (481) was no match for the terrible writing an juvenile descriptive techniques.

I'm almost ashamed to say that I liked Twilight.