February 2010 Archives

Portfolio 1-Topics in Media & Culture

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For this first portfolio for Topics in Media & Culture, I managed to change my opinion with every reading that we covered. Each author made a very convincing point as to why we should favor oral communication over writing and why writing has become an inconvience over benefit and eeven why we should be angry with the technology that benefits our everyday life. I haven't come to a conclusion as to which I think is better, because I think we benefit from eeach during different situations.

This porfolio demonstrates my agreement and disagreement with each author's theory. I don't think we have come far enough to weigh all of the benefits and inconvienences just yyet. There are still more advancements to study and compare to.

With these first blogs, I really believe i have put the most time and thought into them. As you can see from my past portfolios in other classes, they just don't seem to measure up to the standards. Along with rating blogs from this class, I also find it important to compare to other blogs from the past to see growth in applying critical thinking which is why I included them.

Past porfolios:
October 2006 (Writing for the Internet)
November 2006 (Writing for the Internet)
October 2007 (Newswriting)
November 2007 (Newswriting)
December 2007 (Newswriting)
December 2007 (Media Lab)
February 2008 (Intro to Literary Study)
April 2008 (Intro to Literary Study)

Portfolio 1 for Topics in Media & Culture, 2010

Coverage: Each of the following blogs covers a specific topic and quote from each of the readings. There are no stray or foreign blogs....at least in this portfolio section.
Controlled readers and listeners
The verbal Iliad-more spice
Hard-headed Socrates seeker
Secluded and no cellphone=not dangerous
Can progression of writing hurt more than your hand?
Hieroglyphics and holograms
PowerPoints us to the future
PowerPoints are our hickeymagigs and dowhats?
Write it down so you don't forget
Dumb Autumn potpourried her foreign gnome
The muse also learns to read
Handwriting fail to prevail as well?
Writing can enhance memory

Depth: Here, I chose the blogs that link deeper into other webpages and sites. There were often terms from the book that I didn't understand in which I linked a ddefinition to for better understanding and there are also people and other books mentioned in these blogs that also include a link for more information.
The verbal Iliad-more spice
Secluded and no cellphone=not dangerous
Can progression of writing hurt more than your hand?
Hieroglyphics and holograms
PowerPoints us to the future
PowerPoints are our hickeymagigs and dowhats?
Write it down so you don't forget
The muse also learns to read


Interaction: These involve my responses to my peers coursework for discussion outside of the classroom. Sometimes, I find it hard to relate to what my classmates are blogging about which makes me sway away and not want to participate in discussion. These demonstrate the times in which I have made connection with them.

Maddie's blog about technology, telephones, and snail mail.
Megan’s blog about experimenting and leaving behind technology for a week/weekend.
Sean's blog about the soon-to-be obsolete newspapers.
Megan's blog about the idea that oral readings used to be considered "publications."
Jessie's blog about not willing to give up writing in this day and age.


Discussions: These blog comments are involve my classmate's also participating in one of the same discussions as me. In other words, I am not the lonely commenter and others chimed in.
Maddie's blog about technology, telephones, and snail mail.
Megan’s blog about experimenting and leaving behind technology for a week/weekend.
Sean's blog about the soon-to-be obsolete newspapers.


Timeliness: These blogs sparked a conversation and were simply not posted the night before class. These blogs were actually posted on the course site first or second out of everyone, so they most likely saw the most views, even if the comments do not reveal so.
Controlled readers and listeners
Secluded and no cellphone=not dangerous
PowerPoints us to the future


Xenoblogging: Sometimes it's just nice to have a comment on your blog, especially if you're the only one who read it.
The Comment Primo- Jessie's blog
The Comment Informative- Megan’s blog


Wildcard
My blog referring to the Grimm Brothers fairytale book was just an example I thought of when I was writing about publishing books in a certain time period and "freezing" the story in that point and time. When I researched farther into their lives, I found out Jacob Grimm studied linguistics which was a major part of the article we were currently reading and blogging about. It was kind of a circle of learning with a stab in the dark.

Take a peek at my classmates' portfolios

Writing can enhance memory

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"Every word we write is imprinted more forcefully on our minds since we have to take our time while writing and reading" (Trithemius 473).

This quote, contradicts most of what we find negative about writing. Although, most of us disagreed with Plato's Socrates' theory, we really couldn't pinpoint why. It just occurred to me, if I write something down, I have to focus on it and ultimately remember what I wrote. I considered writing the note in the first place to be useless, but if I don't, I'll completely forget what the reminder was.

It's a strange coincidence. Opting to not write something down, will cause you to forget that idea and it will most likely be lost in space forever. Writing a reminder down and never having to utilize the physical note actually helps you remember what you wanted. Perhaps that seems illogical, but it actually works. I feel the need to prove Plato's Socrates wrong that no, writing does not destroy memory, it can actually enhance it.

As Megan mentioned in her blog, when she has a profound thought or idea, she writes it down and it is easier to build upon that. But whose to say that just because someone writes down constant ideas that they must refer to those notes? Those ideas may have already been committed to memory and constantly drawn upon in memory. Yet, their physical existence remains on a piece of paper that is available for reference only when absolutely needed.

Trithemius used his copying job as a study tool. He knew with each word he wrote would leave an imprint in his memory. He said, "No one will ever be able to locate and buy al printed books" (476). He's right, and even with the vast internet today, we are incapable of ever locating each existing piece of information in the world. It comes and goes and we may never re-cross it. What you read each and everyday adds to your memory and should be utilized. Because we have access to endless information, we choose to ...pick and choose what we remember. Tritehmius didn't have that luxury. He accepted what he was given and challenged himself.

Handwriting fail to prevail as well?

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Even as I began reading Baron's overview of handwriting, the first thing I thought of was autographs and their significance to people. As I continued reading I came across this quote:
"By the nineteenth century many people firmly believed not only that every person's handwriting was unique, but that handwriting was 'an unfailing index of...character, moral and mental, and a criterion by which to judge of...peculiarities of taste and sentiment'" (N. Baron 58).

Everyone considers someone's name as a tag of identity. it is even more specialized when that name is written by that specific person. People do judge and stereotype others' handwriting and signatures. If it is loopy, most people will assume A) It's a female's handwriting and B) they are detailed and accurate. For a chicken-scratched named dabbled onto paper, A) most people will assume it's a male's handwriting and B) They are careless and probably unprecise.

Not to say that these assumptions are 100% accurate, but they are stereotypes inbedded in ourselves. If we do tend to have negative feelings towards those with chicken-scratchers, why do we value so many famous and well-known people's autographs? I have several minor-league baseball autographs on a ball from when I was a kid and I cherished those. As I rolled the ball around on my palm, I saw inky black and blue, pointy, uncomprehendable names of a team of athletes. From the day I got that ball, I couldn't tell you whose names were whose, but I valued them so much.

For people like me who have...decent handwriting containing loops and swirls, I would want to be judged. If my handwriting has the ability to reveal positive emotion towards my character, personality, or morals, even if it is pure judgement, I'd accept that in a heartbeat. Just the other day, I filled out an application online and the signature box had a blinking cursor in it. I actually paused in confusion. I had to think about the concept of signing my signature on the internet. Even the thought of placing a pen to the screen crossed my mind and I realized....They wanted me to type my name....as my signature. By typing my name, I would have agreed to the terms and conditions. They can't compliment my loopy cursive "y" like the lady at the bank always does. They're going to add it to the thousands of other "Time's New Roman" font signatures. That's not unique...at all.

With the digital age of communication, perhaps handwriting will fail to prevail as well. (Nice rhyme scheme?)

The muse also learns to read

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"The grammatical structure is atomistic, item is added to item using the connections supplied by the verb 'to be' and the preposition 'with.' The whole effect is static. Meaning is accumulated piece by piece. The original Greek says: 'The city altogether bulges with incense-burnings.' The imagery is dynmanic: the city turns itself into a pregnant woman or a packed container" (Havelock 95).

As I read this excerpt from Eric A. Havelock's, "The Muse Learns to Write," I thought of the simple parts of sentence structure that you learn in grade school. We are drilled with quizzes to test our ability to identify nouns, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, predicates, and subjects etc. As we get older, we also learn more advanced vocabulary and synonyms for simple words. "Bad" is a dull for for "heinous" and "eat" is a dull word for "devour."

These characteristics of language can be identified, compared and contrasted between oral and writing. As Havelock said, we comprehend "piece by piece" and sentence by sentence. The prepositions in a sentence are somewhat meaningless words we see on paper that can be emphasized orally. There is no spark to the word "with," or "on" but there is power behind "bulging" and "accelerated."

Once a sentence is structured with all of the essential elements to make a sensible expression, it becomes dynamic. The nouns have placement and description and full meaning can be comprehended. Imagery becomes a result of the piece by piece order of things. Regardless of the medium of expression, this structure to me remains the same. Whether we are "clinging to every word" one is saying in a conversation or we are reading "word for word," in a book, our minds react the same way to the structure of language and description.

Dumb Autumn potpourried her foreign gnome

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"Here in Greek are texts that truly 'speak.' What they first speak is likely to be a language shaped acoustically for storage, a language of preserved communication, a body of 'useful' oral information"(Havelock 61).

Take a look at the English language, there are silent letters and vowels that are pronounced with a different sound on separate occasions. To say the least, the English language can't be categorized as consistent. And when you have an inconsistent written language, does that mean the oral language changes? To me, not necessarily. The written language is the record of the oral. When the oral language seems to adapt, the "stored" words are available for reference.

I thought of the English slang language. Pardon my example, but the words, "barf" & "up-chuck" mean the same thing, but in a more sensible, less derogatory term, "vomit." Over time, invented words and phrases have come to take on the same exact meaning of another. If our language somehow evolved more in depth into these derogatory terms, we would always have the root or the original word to back up to and define.

There is this debate about if oral communication or writing is better. I think they balance each other and help remain as the constant form that they are today. If the revolution of the English language does occur slowly, both forms will work together in the advancement. I don't think either will prevail over the other or one will change without the other, regardless of the silent letters and inconsistencies between oral and writing.

Back to the History of the Book

Write it down so you don't forget

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"Literacy has supplied us with an artificial memory in the preserved document. We originally had to fashion our memory for ourselves out of the spoken tongue" (Havelock 70).

I found this quote particulary interesting because it's a common stereotype directed towards older people when they forget where they left something, we all assume it's their age to blame and with age, apparently can result in alzheimers and dementia. Not to say that the younger generation doesn't remember where they left their favorite pen or extremely comfortable red kick-pants, but the association with memory loss is often targeted at older people. As I read this section of Havelock and his theory about writing and recording has become our artificial memory, I began to wonder if our modern society never discovered the art of writing, would we all have better memory?

I do believe we rely heavily on writing to help us remember important things, but I also believe our society is more advanced and challenged to remember more information than necessary. Back when families lived in mud houses with a couple of children and a crop field that was the necessity for food and prosperity; the extent of one's memory remained simple. Remember how to cultivate that field, remember your spouse's and children's names and you're good. There was no business administrative work and taxes that you had to familiarize yourself with. Lives were much simpler.

As humans, our brains are not going to expand overnight. In fact, the world around us is always going to change faster than we do. We're never going to adapt to new technological advances without some help.

Even with oral cultures that are not literate, they have lost some sentimental purposes and cultural significance because they are not able to record except through word of mouth and we all know how the telephone game goes....

The Brothers Grimm is an example of how the two German brothers published a collection of fairy tales and folk lores. These stories changed over time because of language barriers and interpretation differences, but now and forever, these specific tales are available for the world to read just as the Grimm brothers collected them.

One of the brothers, Jacob Grimm actually researched and completed academic work in linguistics and how words shift overtime. Then together, they wrote a German dictionary. Ironically Havelock also mentioned linguistics as a method of language. "The instructions have to possess stability. They have to be repeated from generation to generation, and repetition must be guaranteed to be faithful or else the culture loses its coherence and so its historical character as a culture" (69).

The Grimm brothers as well as other authors who base their writing and published works from traditionally oral stories attempt to freeze the stories in time and give them a permanent meaning and structure so it cannot change any longer. And also so the works aren't just lost as the progression of life leads on without record.

PowerPoints are our hickeymagigs and dowhats?

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The youtube video of How Not to Use PowerPoints sparked the memory of Plato's anger towards the advancement in writing. This video is the perfect portrayal of how "writing destroys memory." Like in Megan's blog she mentions that if PowerPoint is used properly it will be effective. If Plato was here today and his philosophy unchanged, he would argue that a good orator could present an effective message to an audience without the help of a PowerPoint or assisted audio. He valued the art of speaking as we very much value the teachnology that helps us be a better speaker.

I feel as if the older and wiser people see this generation relying on so many other mediums and mechanisms to help get by on what used to be a commonality to them, they express astonishment. it's illogical to them. A random example: When my grandmother was just a kid, her family was satisfied with a basket full of fruit at Christmastime. It was quite a treat and very much valued. Nowadays, my grandparents go out and buy these hickeymagigs and gagets for us that we all seem to value, but they have no connection to. And they ask, "what do you need an ipod for? Can't you listen to the radio?" For us, we've adapted to these advancements and more often than not, the older and wiser are going to be stubborn about it and choose to not advance with the rest of us.

Just like everything else, PowerPoints are here to stay. They will help us or hurt us. And in 70 years when our great-grandkids ask for a flying scooters, we'll wonder, What in the heck they want that for.

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PowerPoints us to the Future

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"'Jesus was a storyteller, and he gave graphic images,' Taylor said 'He would say, 'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow,' and all indications are that there were lilies in the field when he was talking, you know. He used illustrations.' Taylor estimates that fifteen percent of American churches now have video projectors, and many use PowerPoint regularly for announcements, for song lyrics, and to accompany preaching" (Ian Parker Absolute PowerPoint 355).

As I read this quote, I thought of a few interesting points. First I began to think of how oral stories used to be told in detail for entertainment just as Terry Taylor mentioned in the above quote. The biblical characters, at first spread the word of God orally. Eventually it was all recorded in the different version we see today, but at first it was spoken through word of mouth. There were descriptive images and detail just like any oral story would be. As the biblical stories may have had deeper purpose than just storytelling and entertainment, others focused on epics like Beowulf, which began as a tale told among villages and communities that was pure entertainment. A well-spoken person would animate the story through words and motions because there was no other way to assist in visualization.

Today we have childrens' books that tell a story and yet contain large colorful pictures of catepillars brushed across the pages. Visualization has taken on additional emphasis when it comes to writing and telling stories. Even if you think about it more, these colorful, motionless catepillars are a thing of the past. Parker's article on PowerPoints offers more animation and appeal than any old illustration book.

PowerPoints are more than 2-dimensional objects on a piece of paper. PowerPoints offer 3-Dimensional features including graphics and animated images as well as communicating to an audience.

Taylor's quote about 15 percent of American churches now have a projection or form of electronic aid is something worth noting as we progress further into the digital age. Personally, my church is, in my opinion, 100% old fashioned. The organist still plays the hymns and I still have to follow along in book of hymns and I get distracted by the music notes that I have no idea how to read. All I need are the words.

As a bible school junkie, each summer, I volunteer at another church in my hometown. This past summer, we were teaching the kids new songs...on a large screen...projected from a PowerPoint presentation. The words even lit up as the song played so you knew exactly which line you were on. It's simple and creative for youngin's who are most likely going to roll up a list of paper song lyrics and beat the kid next to them over the head.
But it's not to say that the kids don't reject hand motions to emphasize their newly-learned bible song. They all go hand-in-hand, audio, visual, and oral. Which brings up my last point referring to yesterday's main topic that new technological advancements do no necessarily mean the old ways are discarded, they are simply absorbed to fit the needs of a changing world.


Flash back

Hieroglyphics to Holograms

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From Writing Materials.

Since we began reading the different opinions of scholars who have studied the transition from oral to writing, there's a noticable detail. No one can seem to agree on which is tecnically "better." We all benefit from oral communication and writing, especially in our era. Plato's Socrates said, "writing destroys memory" (Ong 319). He claimed that writing weakens the mind and basically places a hault on the growth potential of memory. This was the theory and philosophy 2500 years ago. This was before writing and literacy developed into what it is now. We've come a long way from caveman drawings to hieroglyphics to actual letters and words.
"...Because we have by today so deepy interiorized writing, made it so much a part of ourselves, as Plato's age had not yet made it fully a part of itself..." (321).
In Plato's era, people were more experienced with oral communcation but in today's society, children are learning to write as they are learning to speak. We all know a child in kindergarten cannot fluently speak the entire English language. They still struggle with tenses structure, and still have a limited vocabulary. 2500 years ago, only the very intelligent learned to write and that was in adulthood, years after they mastered the oral language.
In modern society, I believe that oral communcation and writing is equally balanced in terms of strength between people. For example, politicians are very good at public speaking and negotiation. They generally have stronger debate and people skills. Politicians also have others write their speeches which are not their words, but the delivery of those words is what is important for them. In contrast, people who study language and publish novels are most likely to have a leg-up in the writing area...as obvious as that seems.
I believe that the strengths from oral and writing differ from how you were raised and the emphasis that was placed on which. Personally as a kid, I wrote everything down. The only people I ever had the chance to debate and negotiate with were my parents and it was either their way or the highway, so I kept alot to myself and wrote it down.
With writing as an ancient technological advancement, I along with everyone else was born into the world of an already established art of writing. And like every other invention and advancement, we as people adapt to the change.
Look at the digital world now. As writing was once considered a huge advancement that some did not always welcome happily, it is evident that computers are intruding on writing's spotlight. As Shellie quoted Ong in her blog entry, "Writing was an intrusion, though an invaluable intrusion, into the early human lifeworld, much as computers are today."
So much emphasis was placed on the developments of writing which was a prolonging argument for centuries and now quicker than ever, literal technology is advancing at the speed of light. Soon, holograms are going to be the next invention that will assist us in writing and spelling, not on paper, or a computer but probably in thin air. As the letters and words float in the air right in front of you and dragging a word with your fingertip will begin your very first holographic novel. Pun? It's an interesting thought though.

Can the progression of writing hurt more than your hand?

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After reading Anthony Di Renzo's "His Master's Voice: Tiro and the Rise of the Roman Secretarial Class," I took notice of the fascination of transition from oration to writing. In modern day, we have both, speakers and written documents. We even have type and digital mechanisms that have transformed our society into the future. One of the first quotes from this journal article that really grabbed my attention was Cicero's comment, Speaking like a hydraulics engineer, Cicero compares the pen to an aqueduct or conduit: it allows thoughts to "flow" and channels the best ideas to "the point of [one's] pen" (105).

The idea of a pen was just as astonishing to people as the invention of fire was to cavemen. The epiphany of an new invention that would advance the world was quite mindboggling.

And the thought of ideas "flowing" through the instrument onto paper or parchment was an all too new concept. To me I think it made them feel that the pen was what triggered brillance and it offered the ability to record thoughts and information.

As we know, Cicero's legacy lived on through Tiro's work and publication of his work. His publications for example De jocis Ciceronis, offers evidence of the past and a sense of Cicero's life's history. These publications contain a positive effect of Tiro's system of shorthand. On the contrary, his system launched a "terrible Saturnalia." Some believe this switcheroo was a good thing, giving rights to the slaves and others believing it unjust, but ultimately causing controversy.

In the end, the Augustan society benefitted from this system the most. Not specifically that they used it for beneficial reasons, but it did and will come in handy for future propagana and political schemes. Yet, with propaganda and everything else within governements, one side is going to benefit and the other will lose.

Di Renzo's warning quote Scholars and historians of professional and technical writing often claim that technological revolutions in communications empower the marginalized and encourage freedom, but the story of Tironean shorthand shows that not all communications revolutions are benign and that empowering the disenfranchised does not necessarily encourage good citizenship or secure liberty (11), should be taken into consideration. With every invention, there will be positives and negatives to a certain degree. Di Renzo may be issuing a stronger warning than need be. Sure, we need to be "wary" of revolution and advancement, but being too precautious may be more hurtful than helpful.

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