Author Archives: Norma De Jesus
A week without technology may not seem as far fetched as other popular challenges happening nowadays. But when we consider how much technology influences our lives, we can see how giving up technology for a whole week can set us back weeks in terms of work and communication. Technology not only connects us to others, but it also provides us a sense of responsibility. We rely on technology to help us with our work and careers. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to keep up the fast paced life it provides us. This challenge may not be useful as a long-term commitment, but it can grant us the realization that our lives heavily rely on its advancement.
Companies out there have realized how technology is integrated in modern day society. Google for example, has manufactured Google Glasses, a product that can provide you with basically everything a laptop and cell phone can right in front of your eyes. With the practicality of Google glasses, it’s expected of them to be as popular as other technological products, but on the contrary, according to Forbes, “Google Glass will go down in the annals of bad product launches.” But why? Mostly, it’s due to the fact that people “can’t identify an actual use for the product.” It’s a product “ahead of its time,” with a confused potential-customer base. All in all, it’s a new product, which has earned some consumers. Buy utilizing Google glasses, people augment their realities since they see the world through technology, literally.
Marks, Gene. “How Google Screwed Up Google Glass.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
My project will attempt to advance the evolution of the human body through the use of literature. When we had the discussion about possible digital humanities projects, I found the subject of future bodies interesting, and attempting to create the next future human with science-fiction literary texts will help assemble an interesting-looking individual. The literary element consists of the novels I will be using. The media element will be the end product of this body. In order to execute this plan, I will use software that picks up on the descriptions of the technology of humans within the books. My goal is to attempt to create this new human with as few books as possible. Overall, I will focus on how technology has inspired people to believe that one day in the not-so-near future, technology could be used to advance the human race into cyborgs with more mental and physical power.
With technology revolutionizing all aspects of life, it is no surprise the humanities have been altered by its advances. Electronic literature is a medium through which the written word can be observed and taken in from a different perspective, and like many technological-based advances, “electronic literature is entwined with the evolution of digital computers” (Hayles). The types of e-lit pieces swirling around in the Internet can only exist with the help of computational programs such as code and other types of elements that bring these literary ideas to life.
One example of electronic literature is Alan Bigelow’s Because You Asked. Alan Bigelow is an artist who produces interactive stories on the web, and Because You Asked is an interactive version of his autobiography. It is found on a website with a blank, faceless canvas that decodes a portion of his face every time a button is pressed and abstract music playing in the background. Each button is a symbol of an idea that helps make up his personality. For example, by clicking on a button shaped like a home, words under the canvas convey that he “always had the comfort of home” and the next button, which is a symbol of a clock, tells us he “works to support [his] art” (Bigelow). After each button shows us a Bigelow truth, the picture of his face slowly begins to appear. Apart from the house and the clock, there are eight more buttons that represent specific ideas that help decipher his personality as well as his facial construct. With both technology and the humanities intertwined in this type of project, Because You Asked is an example of electronic literature, a “born-digital literary art that exploits, as its muse and medium, the transmedia possibilities of the digital” (Gould).
Before being categorized as electronic literature, Bigelow’s interactive story had to be qualified by specific criteria that distinguish the electronic from the nonelectric. It had to possess elements that allow it to fall within the definition of electronic literature. “Electronic literatures have rearranged the literary and reconfigured textual potentialities” (Gould). It is clear that this project utilized the computer interface to create an interactive project through where a story can be told. It took the humanities and technology and synthesized them together to create electronic literature. Katherine Hayles, a literary professor at Duke University, states “because electronic literature is normally created and performed within a context of networked and programmable media, it is also informed by the powerhouse of contemporary culture, particularly computer games, films, animations, digital arts… and electronic visual culture” (Hayles). Bigelow’s humanistic qualities were brought forth with the help of computer digitalization. Because You Asked constitutes as an example of electronic literature since it holds the elements Hayles describes as what makes a project e-lit worthy.
Bigelow’s project caught my attention in particular due to the way he presents his story. Although quite simple, the fact that he engages us in his project helps with the way the story is being delivered. We place ourselves in front of Alan Bigelow. With every single fact about himself that he shares with us, we are able to see his personal self as the self-portrait demystifies through his past and his human intentions. This in itself is a type of electronic literature that’s both immersive and thoughtful. Because You Asked captures the idea that behind every face, there are everyday thoughts and decisions that help construct a personality for said face. By immersing his audience, apart from getting to know him and how he looks like, we allow ourselves to be self-reflective on the message the project is trying to convey.
The literary element of the project is seen through the narrative that the author himself shares with us. We see the thoughts he has of himself, and he uses that to not only tell, but also show his audience a story about himself. We are then able to infer the meaning of the project and the reason for why he utilized the form of electronic literature to show his story. Another element this project possesses that gives it literary merit is the fact that it poses dialogue. People are able to talk about this piece and find the meaning behind it. People can relate to the story he tells and offer their opinion over his reason for creating something that exposes his human qualities.
Through the use of computers and technology, electronic literature is able to advance contemporary literature. We live in an era where technology touches everything, and there is no doubt that there is dialogue disagreeing with literary scholars intertwining literature and technology. Some state that “the place of writing is again in turmoil” and they question whether “electronic literature is even literature at all” (Hayles). Many more argue whether a literary piece should even be seen of literary merit if it has various aspects of digitalization, but to question whether “literary quality is possible in digital media” is futile due to the pace technology is advancing. It was only a matter of time until a book was published electronically. Now, contemporary literature is seeing a phase shift in the way it is being presented. Sure, it may not just be written and printed in paper, but electronic literature holds as much merit as a narrative bounded in paper. Transitioning the humanities from the written form to the electronic form should not have a negative impact on the audience.
Electronic literature is simply yet another medium through which a story can be told. Because You Asked is a narrative of Alan Bigelow’s life and thoughts. Through this piece, the audience can infer different meaning and see how it shares a single story, what it means to be human. After all, literature should be used as a medium of self-expression through which humanistic disposition is offered, regardless of whether it is printed word or digitalized word.
Electronic literature helps augment the reading experience through the different mediums it is presented. Through electronic literature, “the academic world and the world of popular culture” are being bridged in order for today’s generations to interact with the humanities (Mott). In a society where technology dominates a wide part of our lives, we have to find ways to hold on to our stories and allow them to survive. Electronic literature is a new medium through which stories can be shared, but it helps engage readers and keep them attuned with the humanities.
Bigelow, Alan. “Because You Asked.” Web. 28 Oct. 2014.
Gould, Amanda. “A Bibliographic Overview of Electronic Literature.” Electronic Literature Directory. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.
Hayles, Katherine. Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame, 2008. Print.
Mott, Chris. “Electronic Literature Pedagogy: A Questionable Approach.” Electronic Literature: New Horizons For The Literary. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.
Daytripper portrays a story of life, a story of reality, a story filled with genuine emotions humans are subjected to experience. The creators of this comic, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, know how to express human relationships and the way they affect the people involved. Every frame exposes the feelings each individual felt through important events in the protagonist’s life.
In this frame, the mother of the protagonist tells the son that his child is born. The background helps set the mood of the event.
In this frame, the father is talking to his son about books. He is expressing his love for them and he is grasping his father’s take on why he writes.
This frame shows the ending of their relationship. She is upset at the fact that she wasted so many years on him, and now she has made a final decision to leave him.
This frame happens after the Brazilian woman leaves him. He feels left in the dark, forced to take in the realization that he has lost the woman he loved.
Moon, Fábio, Gabriel Bá, Dave Stewart, and Sean Konot. Daytripper. New York: DC Comics, 2011. Print.
A medium that is able to analyze the thoughts you put out into the world constitutes as data tracking. Sometimes this is beneficial. By tracking the data of individuals, the government is able to track down the mood of the nation. Also, it is able to find individuals who are planning to threaten the peace. But because data can be utilized to threaten society, privacy rights where established in an attempt to set boundaries and diminish problems. Then, through the development of various programs, data reading applications were born. These apps such as PrivacyFix, Wolfram, and Tweet Report, synthesize our data in order to show us our Internet footprint. These types of apps are quantified as data tracking due to their nature of grasping our information and regurgitating it back to us in more simplistic forms. Regardless of whether this sounds creepy or not, we allowed them to go into our history in order to bring back to our present the data trends we put out into the internet. In retrospect, this can be considered type of way humans think alongside technology, since without our help, technology wouldn’t have had the ability to create this. In other words, technology needs us as much as we need technology. Through these types of experiences we are able to see on a broader perspective, how we present ourselves to the world through the Internet. A great example is the amount Privacy Fix calculates in order to show us how much we are worth to companies like Facebook. Clearly, such companies are making revenue from our activity, but we as well benefit from their functions. Those 18 dollars Facebook makes through my activity may seem insignificant, but considering they possess a large audience, it is clear how it became a multimillion-dollar company. Thinking about the way we affect data and how data affects us provides us with more awareness of the way we affect this multidimensional cyberspace filled with an almost infinite amount of information.
Digital humanities projects hold different mediums through which they present their information. They aren’t simple 2 dimensional artistic representations of a humanities piece. They are a way through which humanities pieces can be transformed. The infographic “Every Scene in Great Gatsby”, is not technically a digital humanities project, we will focus on comparing it to other projects, why it is not acknowledged as a digital humanities project, and how to make it into an actual one.
First of all, the creator of the infographic has done a good job representing the series of events within the novel graphically. Each major event is represented through a picture. On the top of the picture, a map shows the protagonists’ geographic changes in the The Great Gatsby, particularly focusing on Gatsby’s death. The body of the picture is separated based on the chapters of the novel, and the characters, represented as circles with the initial letter of their names, participate in each chapter in a linear temporal order so as to provide the reader with the information of how the characters interact with one another throughout the novel.
Google the title of the infographic and not many articles regarding its merit appear. In fact, many articles state that the producers of this project are Pop Chart Labs, an infographic poster company who specializes in making popular culture items visual. In a sense, it loses some merit given that it was not created for the sole purpose of advancing scholarship. Nevertheless, many who stumble upon this Great Gatsby infographic find it useful. This project is described as “a stylish, elegant and beautifully designed graphic – another classic” (infographick.com). Although not necessarily a classic per se, it does provide its audience a mode of understanding the book better. There is some dialogue prevalent to the project. It appears in social media such as Pinterest and Twitter, basically portraying how the general public does find it useful enough to share amongst others. Fastcodedesign.com even has an article depicting the breakdown of the project along with comments about how it helps the reader.
In retrospect, it is clear that not enough dialogue about this projects is present throughout the internet, at least not enough to portray biases of the project. Also, although it is a platform that presents media objects, it doesn’t necessarily provide an argument. According to Shannon Mattern, a useful digital project is created on the basis of whether it could be argumentative or responded to. This infographic lacks enough elements to even be labeled as such. There isn’t sufficient links or annotation, but it does do justice to the initial literary work even if it is a simple derivative to The Great Gatsby.
The novel representation and the simplistic drawing does offer the reader a clearer outline of the novel. However, surely one can remake the infographics on a piece of paper so this project can hardly be called a digital humanities project. Nevertheless, one should never give up on a brilliant idea such as this but to turn it into something more modern, useful, technologically advanced.
Shannon Mattern, in her paper “Evaluating Multimodal Work, Revisited “emphasized the importance of “a strong thesis or argument at the core of the work”, which obviously is lacking from this infographics (Mattern, 2014). Transforming a dull poster that merely serves to retell a story into a vivid digital humanities project requires a strong motivation to make a point. In this case, the creator should reevaluate the essential ideas that Fitzgerald tried to convey such as Daisy’s vanity and Gatsby’s unconditional affection. What the revisor, as a reader, thinks of these (are they in vain? valorous? pathetic?) should be incorporated in the project and the details of the novel that embody the point should become the main theme of the project. The revisor’s motivation plays a crucial part of the project because it ensures what technical effort should be made and why it should be made to finish the project; it differentiates a thoughtful project from a directionless “cool-data-set” that cannot be interpreted.
There are many ways to transform this simplistic infographic into something with more digital affordances. Images are mostly the only types of mediums the creator uses to make this project work. But audio, code, and other types of technologies could’ve helped make this infographic livelier. After the creator settles on what his/her point of making the project, the structure and technical details need to be filled.
One must first decide what affordances will be utilized – whether it is going to be a visual computer interface that asks the reader to click on or an immersive environment that activates the reader’s other senses like auditory, olfactory, tactile, etc. The technic availability limits what a project can do; since the design and technique is concept/content driven as aforementioned, the revisor must consider whether switching from one affordance to another will affect the reader’s understanding of the gist and motivation of the project. For example, an easy revision of the project could be designed by creating a programmed interface wherein the main body of the infographics remains the same but extra function buttons are added. The reader could click on different scenarios throughout the novel and then a clip of the movie would be replayed or a segment of the novel would be reread for them. It could also be made interactive as the reader could ask the characters questions about the novel and the character would respond according to the content of the story. Or, the book could have simply been brought to life through the infographic itself. The creator could keep the temporal and spatial elements he incorporated and add more movement through programming and audio.
More types of data could have been extracted from other sources in order to create a more credible project, and more technology and design would have most definitely helped the infographic fit into Dr. Mattern’s criteria that qualifies a multimodal project. By tweaking this infographic with more data and research along with various mediums, a multidimensional project like this would provide an immersive environment for the audience, granting them a more interactive experience. In essence, both scholarship and multimedia should be synthesized to perfection in order for the audience to reap more benefits from the medium. By keeping the audience in mind and providing them with a digital resource that could help them better understand The Great Gatsby, the creator could have invented a whole new, innovative way to make literary media more digital.
Mattern, Shannon. “Evaluating Multimodal Work, Revisited.” » Journal of Digital Humanities. Journal of Digital Humanities, Fall 2012. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.
Wilson, Mark. (2013, July 25). Infographic: “Every Scene in the Great Gatsby”
“The Great Gatsby Chart Infographic.” Infographickcom. N.p., 20 July 2013. Web. 22 Sept.
A game is a mental stimulus engaging the focus of the brain in order to allow the player to reach a main goal. There are a variety of gaming experiences offered by multiple companies within the gaming industry. From games like Luminosity that help develop the brain, to first-person shooters that take the gamer into the main character’s role such as Halo, and MMOs that engage a wide audience like Leagues of Legends; there is everything for everyone. Video games are a form of entertainment, but alongside their main purpose, they also bring upon controversy. Whether or not games can be categorized as a medium depends on people’s personal opinions and how much experience they have with video games.
As someone who has dabbled in the gaming world, I can understand why people would categorize games as a medium. Life itself is a medium, it grants all living organism a unique experience molded and shaped by the perception of each individual. It allows for impressions to be made based on the senses that each individual withholds. Like life, games can be classified as mediums given their nature to engage the player and provide them an experience they can take in and make sense of.
Many videogame researchers argue that it is imperative to understand what a medium is in order to apply the definition to video games. Ian Bogost, a video game designer proposes that, “videogames are a medium that lets us play a role within the constraints of a model world. And unlike playground games or board games, videogames are computational, so the model worlds and sets of rules they produce can be far more complex…” One can see how we each gain a different experience by the different games that we immerse our minds into. When we take on the challenge to play a role within a character, we are allowing our minds to wander into the complexity of the game in order to reach goals and solve the problem the game offers. Because we are engaging the brain to that extent, we are allowing games to be a medium through which we play a role, provide our mental thinking and gain new insight and apply it on order to reach the end-goal of the game.
In order to situate and think about games through a critical context, once must be willing to experience first hand the mechanics of game play, and how it influences our perspective and way of thinking. Gaming – although it provides many wonderful scenes, plots and story lines – is not just a form of art. It is a medium that needs to be understood in order to utilize it in real world experiences. “For serious games proponents, videogame’s ability to create worlds in which players take on roles constrained by rules offers excellent opportunities for new kinds of learning.” In other words, through the different worlds that games offer, there are many things one can learn. The gaming industry caters to all types of people and their interests. The Wii can help keep people fit. Many Nintendo games can be useful to toddlers who are just begging to learn primary concepts. Even research has shown how much it has been useful to people who work in extraneous workplaces. For example, organized groups such as the military utilize gaming as a source of training.
Not surprisingly, a crossover between the medical field and the gaming field has taken place. According to the University of Utah, “A new publication by researchers from the University of Utah, appearing in the Sept 19 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine, indicates video games can be therapeutic and are already beginning to show health-related benefits.” The article titled “Video Games Help Patients and Health Care providers” tells the readers of researchers’ findings of video games and patients. Some researchers from the University of Utah have invented “an activity-promoting game specifically designed to improve resilience, empowerment, and a “fighting spirit” for pediatric oncology patients” (Bulaj, 2012). By allowing patients to be influenced by this type of game play, their recovery can be helped and altered. They engage their minds in order to allow their brains to help them through their physical pain and recovery.
Education has also been positively affected by the revolution of video games. There exists no surprise that humanity has been devising means through which humans can gain more brainpower and capacity. Games such as Luminosity have been proven to help. Although we must take into consideration and not negate the brains limitations, we must not forget the ways such games help us improve our memory and get better at critical thinking. There are many companies that specifically target young brains. ABC Mouse for example is a website that allows kids to learn through games. It makes learning easier and it is a medium through which they learn faster. By incorporating gaming, kids are more willing to learn and their short attention spans are engaged.
Regardless of the many ways that gaming has helped people, there are people who speculate that specific types of games make people more lazy and violent. First person shooters such as Halo and Call of Duty involve violence and arms. MMOs provide many goals for players that they feel the need to continue to play in order to reach them all. But even games that seem to possess no value have something to offer. Apart from providing critical thinking skills, they also offer a diverse set of skills. Many videogame researchers have found that “gamers are faster and more effective at filtering out irrelevant information and spotting targets in a cluttered scene. The size of their field of vision and their ability to track different moving objects in it is greater” (Steffens, 2009). Even the small, simplistic PC game such as “The Company of Myself,” provides useful skills through the way it engages the player to find ways to reach the main goal.
By the multitude of ways video games has helped individuals, it would be helpful if more information were found surrounding the concept of gaming. If we were to study games, perhaps we could advance recovery for patients and advance the rate at which people learn. Yes video games is a type of medium, but it should be used as a medium through which people could get significantly better at developing their mental skills.
Bogost, Ian . “Introduction.” How To Do Things With Videogames. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. 1-8. Print.
Bulaj, Grzegorz. “Video Games Help Patients and Health Care Providers.” University of Utah News. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.
Steffens, Maryke. “Video Games Are Good for You › Science Features (ABC Science).” Video Games Are Good for You › Science Features (ABC Science). N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.