MeganSeigh: April 2010 Archives

The Final Case

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Robert Darnton makes give us interesting background to his life in chapter two of The Case For Books.  "Having learned to write news, I know distrust newspapers as a source of information, and I am often surprised by historians who take them as primary sources for knowing what really happened," (27).

I hate to say it, but this is why I do not enjoy the news.  I don't even like reading it that much, which means yes, I don't even like writing it that much.  Unfortunately the newspapers and news shows want attention, so they will do anything to get it.  I don't pay much mind to what any of it is telling me, and I know I don't want to be that kind of writer for somebody else.  Things that are informative and interesting like editorials or columns are my favorite, I think a lot of them offer so much good information, but I think the newsy aspect of papers and magazines are the part that can make or break it.  I agree with Darnton in that newspapers should be read for news on "contemporaries construed events, rather than for reliable knowledge of events themselves."

In chapter three, Darnton talks about the happy ending of making all of Google's data publicly available.  "Any citizen could consult it, and any company could exploit it.  the copyright laws would have to be rewritten, the rightsholders compensated, and Google indemnified for its investment in scanning," (48).

Doesn't this seem like a lot of work for Google in the future?  Rewriting the copyright laws again?  Didn't we just go through that with Disney changing the laws to give them power until no end?  Yes, and to change that again would probably be more confusing and more irritating.  Making things so publicly available is a dangerous game.  With the amount of knowledge and useful information on Google, I can't imagine a time where it would be necessary to give anyone the freedom to look at everything on Google.  Where is the authenticity in that?

"The answer is an e-book.  Not that an electric publications offers shortcuts, nor that I intend dump everything from my shoe boxes onto the Internet.  Instead, I plan to work through the material in different ways, covering the most essential topics in the topmost narrative and including mini-monographs along with selections from the richest runs of document in the lower layers," (64).

Although I would normally be completely against the world heading towards a life of e-books, I understand the explanation that Darnton gives.  From an author's point of view, he doesn't want to turn out pages that will go into books and in stores that know one will see or read.  If that's what authors think, than of course I understand why they would want their books to be put on the internet too or even instead of being in stores.  This would only make sense to me if there is a proven fact that people are not spending that much money in stores anymore, and if they are instead spending most of their time looking at books that are online.  This probably isn't a full-blown fact yet, but I'm sure that's how people are interpreting the near future to go.

Looking Into The Future

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"In the Bell Laboratories there is the converse of this machine, called a Vocoder.  the loudspeaker is replaced by a microphone, which picks up sound.  Speak to it, and the corresponding keys move.  This may be one element of the postulated system." -- This is from an article called "As we may think" by Vannevar Bush.

Although Bush talks about many thoughts that have kind of already come into existence, I thought this was definitely an idea of the near future.  One of the things Bush talks about is the Memex, which never came to existing, but the idea of it was apparently very beneficial to people of the time.  I could see how there might be excitement about this 'way of the internet.' I think that Bush describes something that makes sense, if there was no other option.  Of course, being an experienced internet user myself, I would think this is actually pretty crazy and useless.

Anyway, in the quote above, Bush is describing a realistic way of the future.  I have already heard of devices that record sound and type on a page, but they haven't really made their place in the world yet.  At least not permanently.  That is exactly what I think about now when I think of the future.  And right now, I have a sense that there is not much else we can go forward with.  This would be the perfect idealistic device for the future.  I wouldn't be surprised if it existed within the next few years since this seems to be a time when technology is booming.

Always More To Learn

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"As Janet Murray (1991, 12) and others argue, the adventure game type of computer textuality is hardly one where the 'author' has given up control.  Rather, the user can be manipulated in new and powerful ways.  In a narrated, linear expression text, the user/reader/receiver's response and interpretation are beyond the control of the author, who can only hope that the text will be read from beginning to end," (138). --Aarseth, Cybertext.

This is right where I agree with Aarseth.  Sometimes when I am playing computer games, I do feel like it is supernatural and robotic and impossible to succeed which gives me great frustration.

However, I have to remember that it was another human being who made the game in the first place, which means that it can be beat.  I also agree that with the pure text games, I am not always reading all of the text, which the author probably wants me to do.  In that sense, the game IS out of the author's control because we might not be following what they want us to follow.  Although, they have the ability to steer us in the right direction.

I probably get more frustrated in the text games because of the fact that there are no pictures or movement and it forces me to read.  I never think of it as being challenged because I am usually too frustrated.  But, if they were not challenging then everyone would be satisfied and what fun is that?  As a result, I'll try to remember when playing these games that the author wants me to be frustrated; it's boosting my brain neurons...or something like that.

So Much Conversation!

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I have continued to learn so much about writing, reading, and above all analyzing in this semester of EL 336 Media and Culture.  It has been challenging and rewarding all at the same time, and I am very excited to have learned so much about the history of the book  with exerts from Writing Material to books like The Case For Books, and If On A Winter's Night A Traveler.  Now we are on to the digital culture!

Through most of my blogs, I expressed my deep thoughts on issues discussed in class for print culture, and my deep confusion for books such as Cybertext, which talks about digital culture.  Along with the discussions in class and my peers' blogs, I have grown in knowledge and understanding of the issues faced in the past and the issues we are faced with now regarding the printed text.

Now I will take you through a long few weeks of blog entries which introduce my thoughts on many of these new books and new issues that I learned.

Coverage:  I don't miss blog assignments often.  In fact, in the past two months I have only missed about two.  The amount of time and effort I put into each blog shows that I was analyzing the readings and anxious to get my thoughts out for my classmates to view.  I could honestly say that each and every one of my blog entries showed coverage, but here are a few that I was most proud of along with a few blogs from my peers which mentions my work.

  • Bibliographies for Dummies is a blog in which I got so excited with my ideas that I quoted Darnton multiple times to try and further examine my thoughts.
  • Text does speak, according to my classmate Erica, who linked back to my blog to further emphasize her ideas.
  • Song of the day was a blog by my classmate Chelsea.  She linked to my blog because she agreed with my ideas on print culture.
  • Translation of books, was an idea that a classmate of mine had in her blog, which links to my blog on the same issue because we had the same opinions.

Depth:  There were countless blog entries of mine which showed my ability to go above and beyond expectation.  These are my blogs which linked to further details on certain subjects and show numerous quotes from the texts that we used for class.

  • Italo Calvino inspired me to go into deep thought on his interesting way of writing to catch people's attention.
  • Darnton had my attention with his chapter on bibliographers as I went into deep depth on discovering their importance.
  • Gaming.  This blog delve into exploring the gaming circuit and I was very happy with the depth I went into the games that I had played.

Interaction:  My classmates have had many interesting thoughts about the subject matter in the classroom, and I certainly wanted to let them know how I felt about their opinions; always in a polite manner if I disagree.  These are some of my peers blogs that I made comments on along with my blogs that link to my peers because of their opinions that I truly valued.

  • How far will technology go?  I explain this in my blog that links to Chelsea's blog because I was so excited about the way she described the idea of fraud.
  • Printing Press.  This is my classmate Tiffany's blog, which I had a deep thought comment on.
  • The Best of us Make Mistakes.  This was Maddie's blog.  I loved the way she explained part of this book because I was having some difficulty understanding it and I wanted to comment on her blog to tell her of my interest.
  • Aarseth:  Not Such A Bad Thing.  This was a blog in which I started agreeing with one of our authors and I wanted to link to Tiffany's blog because I was excited about how she was feeling too.

Discussion:  I always enjoy reading and hearing what my classmates have to say about my thoughts and opinions.  These blog entries show that certain blogs of mine sparked interest and comments along with discussions from my peers.

  • Writing and Reasoning.  This blog of mine struck an interesting and exciting conversation between me and one of my classmates.
  • There is Potential.  I knew this blog was interesting, and I was happy to hear how it struck some of my peers who commented on it.
  • The Case for Reading.  Darnton has continued to strike good conversation, and apparently this blog of mine was one to do it.
  • Aarseth again.  This blog struck the nerve of our professor and although he was the only one to comment, his thoughts came out in class and therefore the discussion proceeded there between my classmates and myself.

Take a look at the interaction section of my portfolio, which also contains many great discussion blogs.

Timeliness:  My ability to submit my blogs at least 24 hours before class discussions was has been not much of an issue.  I always have the blogs in on time, although sometimes it is hard to do it in less than 24 hours.  But it is always before class!  Here are a few selected blogs that were submitted a great deal earlier than other blogs I have done.

  • Time Flies.  Here is a blog that I posted a few days well before the class day.
  • More Calvino.  This is another blog that I posted a few days before the class day.  I must have really been on top of things!

Xenoblogging:  I love when I receive comments on my blogs, so I enjoy returning the favor to my peers.  Here are some of my peers blog entries which I made sure to offer my opinions and boost some online conversation for the topic they were talking about.

  • Cybertext Development.  I really enjoyed this blog by my classmate and wanted to make sure I commented, if nothing else, just to let her know I agreed!
  • "Ya'don't know me."  A few classmates and I wanted to comment on this peer's blog because she did a great job digging deep in her opinions on this book.

Wildcard:  Although I have already linked to a majority of my blogs from the beginning of this semester, there are always a few stragglers.  Here are a few blogs that I think prove the passion and thought that goes into writing them.

  • Grab A Copy.  I really liked this chapter in Writing Material, and I wanted to give it a time to shine since none of my classmates were able to really comment on it.
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed?  I thought this blog of mine went into great depth AND portrayed some comedy.  Give it a look!
  • An Interactive Non-Fiction I really liked this entry because I spent so much with links and explanations.  It deserves a spot on here!

Enjoy!  Only one more portfolio for this semester, so I will see you back here to check out my progress in a few short weeks.  In the meantime, take a look at the blogging portfolio's of my classmates!

I Don't Mind Being Talked To Like A Child

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In Style, Williams writes, "Some argue that the harder we have to work to understand what we read, the more deeply we think and the better we understand.  Everyone should be happy to know that no evidence supports such a foolish claim" (140).

Williams continues by stating the second claim, which says, "Some argue that "clarity" is a device wielded by those in power to mislead us about who really controls our lives.  By speaking and writing in deceptively simple ways, they say, those control the facts dumb them down, rendering us unable to understand the truth about our political and social circumstances" (140)

Wouldn't it be best to have both?  I am never one to choose sides on most situations because I like to explore what could be beneficial on all accounts.  This is one of those situations when I think it would be beneficial to read two different summaries on the same scenerio.  For instance, Williams talks about advanced language keeping us more knowledgeable, but how does that happen when I have no idea what the text says?  It actually makes me feel very stupid, and the latter of these 2 claims, makes me feel smarter.  I don't care if its called "dumbing it down," if it makes things clearer for me then great!  The point is, I would rather read something that states politics simply (since I don't like them in the first place) and then I would be okay to reading the one that is harder to understand, because chances are I'm going to understand it better anyway from reading the more simple version.

History is Losing Itself

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"What then, does educational (especially literary) computing reduce?  This question, however simplifying it may appear, can still be answered: it reduces our possibility to empathize with those who are not using the same technology as we we, be they our less well-endowed colleagues or our historical predecessors, the texts' creators or their contemporary readers," (169).

So here is what Aarseth is saying in this chapter of Cybertext:  I suppose he is saying that because we have the ability to use computers (and e-books and such) as educational resources, we are not able to compare ourselves anymore to those who lived without it.  I actually never thought of that as the single answer to what that online technology reduces.  I would have said many different things like it reduces communication, hands-on experiences, working in a virus-free environment and so on.

However, reading around this passage, I saw where Aarseth was getting with this.  We are not able to relate to the original historical essence of books, such as the example Aarseth gives us, Pride and Prejudice.  He says that digital versions of this book are all different, especially depending on the computer system.  The use of technology is not all bad, for he gives the statement that "The use of technology, in effect, amplifies certain aspects of human experience and reduces others."

Well, this is a deep way to look at the advancement of computer education.  I never thought about the idea that learning online removes me from the history that I should be studying from actual books.  I know that I am still learning the subject, but am I really relating?  Can I actually relate to those people I read about when I am studying their history?  I think it's impossible to completely relate to history books but I think that reading books actually does help me relate better than online sources, maybe because the computer seems so high-tech with everything...sometimes I feel like books are just more reliable sources because, well, they are!


Do We Really Prefer E-Books?

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Here we go Darnton, I thought we were cool and I would be agreeing with you a lot more; this time I don't "No one can predict what will happen.  We can only read the terms of the settlement and guess about the future.  If Google makes available, at a reasonable price, the combined holdings of all major US libraries, who would not applaud?  Would we not prefer a world in which immense corpus of digitized books is accessible, even at a high price, to one in which it did not exist? (19) -- The Case For Books

I would certainly prefer one that does not exist!  I just don't see the attraction to constantly reading books online.  I will read books to get away from staring at my computer screen.  A whole book to read online?  Wouldn't your eyes glaze over and burn?  That's what my eyes do after spending some time working on papers but to just sit and stare at the screen cannot be a comfortable thing.  I wonder how many people just get e-books because it is the hip thing to do, or maybe so they have a backup of their favorite book.  I would do both of those things.  I would get the books to try them or I would get my favorite books online so I could read them anywhere.  It would be nice to see how many people primarily read only online.

I really didn't expect Darnton to be all about living in a world where every book that can ever be found is sitting on the deep hard-drives of Google.  Is that even reliable?  Obviously the computer geniuses out there rely on the computers of America and the technology all over the world, but there is still that fear that the stored information will just go missing someday; like drop off the face of the earth.  It would not be wise to consider online reading as the first source in reading because if libraries are going to start getting rid of books than where is our backup?  All in all, can we please take a pole of how many people would actually prefer this? I've clearly made my case.

Aarseth: Not Such A Bad Thing

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Well, in this chapter of Cybertext, I felt a lot of repeating of information that I already knew.  I never thought I would say that in this Espen Aarseth book, but this chapter was telling me information about adventure games that I know already from experience. It was helpful to get the refresher from the Jerz & Jerz video clip on adventure games and then read the chapter after, because I remembered all of those silly difficulties I faced when I played those games the last time.

Aarseth describes it right: "Personal relations and habits in an adventure game like Deadline might best be described as autistic" (115).  

I think the word Autistic is very powerful and even thought it might be confusing, people generally know what that means.  I too would relate adventure games as being autistic.  There is no rhyme or reason for some connections.  Interactions that seem simple are not, according to the computer at least.  And complicated interactions sometimes seem east, although it takes you a while to stumble upon what the right code's are.  Basically, these games can be unpredictable, but that's what makes them intriguing.  What fun would a game be if it was always unpredictable and you always knew the right commands to say?  Not very.  Though it would probably be more frustrating.

I found something I agree with, "Images, especially moving images, are more powerful representations of spatial relations than texts, and therefore this migration from text to graphics is natural and inevitable" (102). 

Being that I grew up knowing only of games with video or picture stills, I can relate to why text games would be going out of style.  However, like Tiffany said in her blog, if I would have been alive during the time of the first text games then I would have been so excited and intrigued by the entire thing.  And of course, once something is familiar, it would be hard to have a change of heart for its developments.  It's kind of like the way I don't think that everything under the sun should be changed into touch screens and 3D.  I like 2D and I like pushing buttons.  However, future generations won't know how we used to watch movies not in 3D and they will wonder why we would ever use something that isn't a touch screen.  I guess this is all just part of the technology life.

Take Me Out Of The Text Game

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I have interacted with text games before.  I have even created one before.  But I don't remember how exactly.  I'm sure it would come back to me if I had some reminders.  As for playing the text games, I found this video to be very useful.  When I would play the games, I don't think I spent as much time as Peter did looking at all the details, then again I didn't have Dr. Jerz there guiding me the whole time.  In fact, when there was an entire block of text after I typed in "look" than I most likely got frustrated that there was too much information so I would ignore half of it.

I liked how Peter talked through the difficult parts and on some cases, just by saying it out loud, he realized what he had to do.  The fact that only ten minutes went by and he started to understand the game pretty well was impressive.

As you can probably guess, I'm not a big fan of text games.  I think they are a good way to pass the time, and if I'm looking to just go with the flow and not try to win the game then that's fine and I might take my time.  But for me, text is made for reading and not made to be played with in the manner that I have to type back to the text to find the answers.  It's not just typing back words, the problem is that it is impossible to find the right words and it is so frustrating that the computer doesn't know everything!  Anyway, I'm sure if I were made to spend a couple hours on a text game, I wouldn't find it as frustrating but as of right now, I probably wouldn't choose to play one.  If I'm playing a computer game, I need it to have pictures and movement, not just text.

Those Weighty Words

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"When we get close to the end of a sentence, we expect words that deserve stress, so we may feel a sentence is anticlimactic if it ends on words of slight grammatical or semantic weight," (120).  This is out of Williams' chapter about Elegance in his book Style.

Well, this is something new to think about.  Apparently adjectives and adverbs are heavier than prepositions, but lighter than verbs or nouns, which are nominalizations.  It is important to achieve balance in a sentence but it is difficult for me to sometimes get those weighty words at the end of my sentence.  I guess they also need to be in the beginning of my sentences.

I like how Williams used Winston Churchill's speech as an example because his speech is the definition of what I would call elegant.  The sentence flows and uses the tips that Williams was giving me about putting the balance in a sentence.  As Williams says, "The rhythm of a sentence should carry readers toward strength" (150).

An Interactive Non-Fiction

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"In terms of literature, a fiction is a portrayal of invented events or characters, usually in the form of prose (short stories, novels, etc.), constructed in a way that invites rather than dispels belief.  A successful fiction must, therefore, in one sense be interactive, just as a lie needs a believer in order to work," (50).

This chapter of Aarseth's book Cybertext was much more easier for me to follow than the introduction.  I thought that Aarseth did a good job explaining this comparison between fiction and cyber-fiction.  Normally, I would not agree that both aspects of fiction are the same, but after reading his comparison's on the issue, I would say that they are very similar.

Aarseth explains interactive fiction to mean either two things: The first thing being that it means nothing in particular, the second thing being that its meaning is perceived to be so trivial that it is self-explanatory. (50) I would agree with this because I have used interactive fiction where the story is just created by some links that I have to click on in order to find out further information.  This may be tedious and confusing at times, but I know how to work it because it is self-explanatory.  I am not sure I follow how it means nothing in particular.  I have always that that interactive fiction is that way because it has a special meaning...I don't get how it can't mean anything.

Aarseth then goes into describing the dictionary definition of fiction, which means a representation of an unreal event or object; something invented or imaginary; a lie.  Yes, this is a fiction story but I never thought of it as a lie.  I actually think it's a little harsh to call it that.  If it was meant to be a lie, then it would be called that.  It is called fiction because true the stories are not real, however, it is understood to those reading it that they are not real...there is no surprise in the making.

I don't think interactive fiction is always fiction.  Some of the games are based off of real-life situations or experiences.  Sometimes even real stories come into the games and then it is just scrolling through the pictures and story.  An interactive fiction does not mean fiction all of the time, which is what I think Aarseth was trying to say, although sometimes I cannot find his point.

Time Flies. When You're Gaming.

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I remember these games from Writing For The Internet.  I felt like I had more time to explore different ones than I had last year.  Some of these games or texts I didn't care for so much.  Especially the ones where they just gave bits of historical information or something like that...I figured that was what Google is for.  Other ones, I found very interesting and I was able to give my time toward exploring them.

Loved it!  I love those kind of games where you can create your own paths and synchronization.  I loved that the birds were made up of letters and each of them offered a different affect.  I started by going through each of the 13 different birds individually to see what they did.  Then I just began putting two together, than three, than four.  It was so much fun to watch them in the sky and honestly?  It was peaceful too.  This kind of game is always peaceful to me.  Loved it.

The name obviously grabbed my attention first.  But then, I realized it was so much more.  I thought it was going to be one of those games that just gives me a definition or pictures, but it was not what I expected!  Through these five different pages, the text slowly formed into a large paragraph.  The text would read something in random areas of the page but then those words would be split up and moved around until it eventually formed one big and thoughtful paragraph.  Then at the end, the words all fell in a pill at the bottom of the screen and the word Faith fell and made an imprint on the pile.  I just thought it was the coolest thing and informative!  It definitely gave me something to think about.

I did not expect to like this one or even spend much time looking at it.  But I was interested in seeing how it ended and where it was taking me.  A girl and her mother are at a base camp in China and her dad didn't come home like he normally does so her and her mom go out to look for him.  I could move through the story by clicking on the arrows but then there became other ways for me to move through the story.  My favorite part was using her cell phone to take pictures of flowers, I thought that was really cool.  I liked the sound effects because I actually got scared, I thought something bad was going to happen.  Luckily, it was a happy ending and I thought the story was very good and neat to follow along with!

Those were probably some of my favorite ones.  I also looked at Strings, and I looked at I, You, We, which I thought was awesome because it made me feel like I was at the center of everything.  I Could click and hold my mouse at the center of the screen and pull the words all around me.  Each time I pulled the words around, I found new words!  I liked exploring one.  There were some like, The Self Portrait, that I didn't find interesting because like I said before, it didn't give me much to do except look at different artists' portraits of people, unless I was missing something.

All in all I really enjoy exploring these games because it doesn't take too much time to do so. Some text games are very long and drawn out and I get frustrated when I can't figure out what to do (we're probably going to be looking at those ones more in depth too).  But the ones that I looked at were attention grabbing to me because they were so much more than text.  Text does not grab my attention (unless it's in a book) so text games don't offer much to me.  The stories and text I liked best involved pictures, colors and stories that had endings, I could change things, and nothing went wrong.  These were my kind of games.

Cyber-what?

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I don't have much experience with what Espen J, Aarseth is talking about in his book Cybertext.  Actually, I felt as though I were inside a computer system during this first chapter.  Aarseth writes with so many words and phrases that I do not understand and even after I look the word up, it seems that there were so many words to look-up that it was useless.  Aside from that, it's not that I couldn't follow what Aarseth is saying.

Here is something I got from the chapter.  Aarseth writes, "A labyrinth without exit is a labyrinth without entrance; in other words, not a labyrinth at all," (7).

He uses this quote as he explains that is explaining a book called The Magus, which he is using to help explain the meaning behind the word labyrinth, which he is using to explain that cybertexts fit in the "game-world-technology" (5).  I get this idea of a labyrinth and what I really get is that this chapter is like a labyrinth to me: There is an entrance an exit but I'm going to have a heck of a time trying to get out of it.  In other words, this concept makes sense but when he comes back to cybertext, I am lost all over again.

As a result of my lack of knowledge that I received from this chapter, it's going to take a lot of other people convincing me that this book has something to offer.  I know that I will be able to learn from it, since I don't know much about cybertext to begin with, but it is not an interest of mine.  Not like my classmate Maddie, who is very interested in gaming and that kind of technology.  I definitely do not have that flair and therefore this is hard for me to even try to understand.  But I trust that Aarseth is going to make some good points along the way.

The Case for Reading

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In The Case for Books, Robert Darnton writes, "They also turned their own reading into writing, because commonplacing made them into authors.  It forced them to write their own books; and by doing to they developed a still sharper sense of themselves as autonomous individuals," (170).

These authors that Darnton is talking about, needed to create their own thoughts and arguments during their time in history.  What is interesting is when Darnton goes into the background of different authors to explain how this reading came to them.

My favorite part came at the end of the chapter, when Darnton talked about historians of reading treating their subjects as moving targets driven by binary opposites, "reading by turning the leaves of a codex as opposed to reading by unrolling a volumen, reading printed texts in contrast to reading manuscripts, silent reading as distinct from reading aloud, reading alone rather than reading in groups, reading extensively by racing through different kinds of material vs. reading intensively by perusing a few books many times," (172).

Yes, yes, and YES.  This is reading in every shape in form.  I love it.  I especially love that Darnton built this chapter around the discoveries of historical readers and how emotion is what drew them in and personal experience.  I think that is important to remember when reading, and writing for that matter.  Thomas Jefferson had more issues than I think I remember learning, and yet it mattered in his writing, and it mattered in his reading that he could express that emotion.  Darnton used examples from Jefferson, Kevin Sharpe, and William Drake, to give us examples as to how they adapted to reading and how they understood it during their time.

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