Thursday, May 13, 2010

Electronic Literacy and Print Literacy: What Will Stay the Same?

1. Widespread availability of the printed word to the general consumer brought about dynamic changes in the nature of language. It literally added another dimension to the relationship between words and their meanings for both the person giving the information and for the receiver. Ong discusses how the inception of written word changed the way we think about the words themselves: “Print situates words in space more relentlessly than writing ever did. Writing moves words from the sound world to a world of visual space, but print locks words into position in this space” (Ong 119). Oral literacy had no need for words to need to fit into a specific area, so the requirements of space were not needed or even considered; now, with common use of personal electronics and the generally small viewing area of many new media devices, only encourages this need to words to occupy a particular amount of space. This relationship between the written word and the original idea of meaning in the oral tradition has changed the way that we interpret words and the way that we view meaning. The movement to electronic media has changed the way that we receive information and the way that we interpret the information that we are receiving. However, while electronic literacy has changed many elements of our understanding of language, there are many factors that remain very similar. The primary element that has been retained from traditional written media is that it takes words, which have come from the oral tradition, and has put them into the visual realm, forcing spatial requirements on the otherwise formless words, it is near impossible for someone to not think about the written equivalent of a word when hearing it. This move from auditory to visual requires words to have a distinct pattern of understanding that exists both outside and along with the traditional definition meaning of the word. This pattern is the way that we understand the way that words go together in a specific way as defined by the rules of the spoken language. This is something that has translated into electronic mediums intact from the traditional printed text. I thought that for the end of this post (and of the classwork for this book) I would like to share a link to a site that I found on Ong and some additional commentary he made for the book, that I thought would be interesting to anyone who wanted any further information on comment on the ideas of electronic literacy and secondary orality.

Secondary Orality and how it is driving me crazy in the classroom.

The literacy of new media has changed, as electronic communication becomes more and more a part of daily life. From what I understand this idea is the language of alterative media. This is the language driven by alternative forms of communications that has come out of the electronic age, “The electronic age is also an age of ‘secondary orality’, the orality of telephones, radio, and television, which depends on writing and print for existence” (Ong 3). I am having trouble hammering down exactly what is meant by a ‘secondary orality’, it seems to me that it is both the actual written language of electronic communications (like e-mails and texting) and the style in which these types of communications are done in. In attempting to answer this question I looked at secondary sources for assistance in trying to wrap my mind around the actual definition. The best definition seems to lean towards “secondary orality” as the specific language of new media. An example of this could be the “text talk” phenomenon. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, and sadly it is one that has overwhelmed the composition skills of the freshman, college age generation. In my classroom, I am fighting a constant battle against students who use the abbreviated wording of text messaging in their papers. They cannot seem to grasp that using this type of speech in academic work is not what they should be doing and even after I always give a speech about how text talk is one of the things that drives me crazy, they seem flabbergasted at the audacity of my practice of just circling the offending text-talk and adding a notation of “Really?” This idea of a second orality (and literacy) also reminds me of the earlier days of wide spread public computer ownership and the changes in language that came anlong with it. I remember when the movie Hackers came out and the idea of 733t (leet) speak became more widely known and was a topic of speculation and interest in the early days of the internet (this was during the time when hacking was still a relatively new concept; now it is not at all unusual to hear someone, even someone with out extensive gaming experience, to use terms like “w00t” or “pwnd” in everyday parlance).

I hope that I have grasped at least the basis of what Ong means by “secondary orality”, it seems to be the kind of concept that you come in contact with so often in daily life that it is hard to put into words. However, like the other elements of orality that have come along with the electronic revolution, mastering an understanding of the constantly changing languages of technological progress is necessary to thrive in a world that has become so integrated with these forward changes.

Orality and Literacy: Electronic Literacy

1. The “electronic literacy” of new media has changed the way that we, as a culture, look at literacy. It has made changes in the tone and language of written communication and has changed the spatial relationship of oral to visual literacy. Electronic literacy is less formal than other forms of written literature by its very nature, “The new medium here reinforces the old, but of course transforms it because it fosters a new, self-consciously informal style” (Ong 133). This informality, as seen in most electronic, written correspondences, is best described as a step away from traditional rules of composition and a breakdown of cultural norms. Electronic media seems more changeable than traditional print publications; the ability to cut and paste or to easily delete and reproduce information at will makes the written word of electronic media seem less set. If something is so effortlessly changed, it seems much less official and because of this, less formal. It would seem far less offensive to send a casually written e-mail about an upcoming project to a superior (a still ill advised move) than if one were sending a formal written proposal on the same subject; the instant and abstract nature of the e-mail seems to breed a more casual tone and this is a phenomenon that seems to radiate through the electronic world.

As I read through this section of the text I thought about the actual textual-style of electronic literature and the ways in which it has changed the way that we think about literacy. It is no longer enough to have the ability to read at a higher level as the only necessity for understanding all of the written work within the sphere of the genre; instead, it is now necessary to understand several types of written and visual literacy simultaneously within a “secondary literacy” within the realm of the medium, such as the written language of electronic media, (an idea to be discussed in detail later). This is a big separation from what is expected from the conventions of traditional written mediums. I am from a generation that has grown up during personal electronic era; I had a computer in high school, but no cell phone until after. The casual nature and tone of electronic media is something I am comfortable with but I still hold on to the idea that correspondences and written work produced for public consumption should be formal and polite. I can only hope that the trend for electronic media’s informal nature will not break down the tradition of formal written mediums the way that e-mail has changed how we contact and connect with one another on a personal level, I miss snail mail and I would, in my own snooty way, miss the more formal tone of traditional literacies (is that a word? ha!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cracking the Sims

I have to admit that this question threw me. I have been struggling my way through Gamer Theory since the book assignments began. I was hoping to find a theory dense book that would appeal to my inner nerd girl and interest me more than some of the other theory book I have read have been able to. However, after carefully reading the section on the Sims and the allegory/algorithm section I feel I can take a pretty fair shot at the question. The idea of the algorithm in gaming seems to be something far more complex than what I believe the author is going for; Wark states that, “an algorithm-- for present purposes—is a finite set of instructions for accomplishing some task, which transforms an initial starting condition into a recognizable end condition” (Gamer Theory 31). It is this definition that fits the statement “to interpret its algorithm” well when referring to the Sims; when you play your Sim, like Benjamin in the book, you are figuring out the pattern of the game when making his life choices. This is something that is not unusual in the gaming world; this statement could apply to most RPG type games but withthe Sims it seems to be especially relevant. You are making conscious decisions (according to the algorithm) that move the game along and affect the life of the Sim. Once you have figured out what you have to do to achieve your goal (when you interpret the algorithm), you have figured out the winning formula and can then best the game.

Civilization's Appeal or How I am a lot like Conan the Barbarian

I love the Civilization games, Sid Meyer and I must think somewhat alike, because the system for victory in the games suits my taste well! That being said I have a confession to make, I got the wrong game for the sake of the class, I ended up with Civilization Evolution and not Civ III. However, I was able to find a goodly length demo for Civ III online (Thanks and played it and found that in the elements of the game that apply to the question are very similar in both versions of the game, so I think I can still accurately answer the question well.

This game appeals to the gamer with more than simply the story line (which is pretty weak compared to some of the huge scale RPG games there are out there), instead the gamer’s attention is kept by the the way the game is moved along by making decisions based on the parameters and special skills that each Civ has and what kind of victory you are aiming for. For example, I have usually, in the past and for the sake of this project, chosen Montezuma and the Aztecs. Why? Because when I play games like this and Risk, I like to rule with an iron fist(!) and the skills the Aztecs start with lend well to my dominating nature and make the end victory easier. Honestly, I have never played any of the other Civ games and made it to the space age, I always seem to get impatient and win by domination; I just amass most of the land in war and win that way around the late Middle Ages. I have tried to build my libraries and temples and made my wonders, but in the end I just kill everybody and win that way (I feel like a "Mwahaha" should go after a statement like that!)However, for this project I tried playing with a Civ that has starting abilities that do not work as well with a war victory, like the Egyptians who have religion and masonry, to try and make up for my lack of patience and build up my Civ for a cultural victory. I didn't get to finish this way, but it is a way to make the game involve more strategy and adds another level to gamer interactivity in the way that you make the decisions that determine what kind of win you hope to have. It is this very thing that endears so many fans to this game; there is a way to beat the game that will appeal to everybody’s taste; whether you are like me and want to rule them all, or if you want to win through scientific or cultural advancement, there is a game strategy for you. This is accomplished through the individual “skills” that each Civ has at the beginning. For example, my favorites the Egyptians, are considered to be religious and industrious, so they start with skills like clay working and get bonuses for religious endeavors. Other civilizations are considered scientific and start with skills like written language and others considered expansionistic, so they have bonuses for exploration attempts.

With the various styles of Civs and the multiple ways to win, this game offers the player a chance to build and fine tune their civilizations in a way that appeals to them. Sometimes your efforts are successful and your nations will flourish, other times you will be destroyed by your own hubris (I have bitten off more than I can chew several times and paid the price for attacking a nation that had superior troops or just more of them!) Sid Meyer has found away to appeal to several kinds of gamers with more than what games like Risk can offer. There are ways to win that will appeal to those that want to win through careful strategy and hours of small, deliberate moves (like the space race victory), and you can just take over everything to win for those like me who have no patience and want to win with a crushing blow to my enemies so I can see them driven before me and hear the lamentations of their women!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Pubic's Internet Power: Prita Mulyasari and Citizen Journalism

When one sends an e-mail to a friend, or even a group of friends, complaining about poor service you received at some public institution, you do not expect to suddenly find yourself in jail or in the middle of a highly publicized lawsuit. This is however, exactly what happened to Indonesian mother, Prita Mulyasari. Prita’s case has caught the attention of the global village and it has risen to international and internet fame through the persistent and widespread support of her case. In America it seems unthinkable to imagine something like this actually happening, but, thanks to the efforts of online supporters, the news of this injustice has been made public to the world. To set up the case, a bit of back ground information; Prita Mulyasari was admitted to Omni Hospital in Banten, Indonesia. While Ms. Mulyasari was at the hospital she received treatment that would make anyone whom has been to a hospital shudder. After being misdiagnosed several times and being put through a hellish battery of shots and doctors she wrote an e-mail to some of her friends detailing the horrendous treatment that she received while at the hospital. An English translation of the letter is available on the blog, Indonesia Matters . In the letter, Ms. Mulyasari details the ridiculous way she was treated while under the care of Omni Hospital and the seeming indifference of the doctors that attended to her. After sending the letter, from her private e-mail, it somehow became pubic and the hospital filed a civil suit against her for defamation. In the end, Prita was charged, imprisoned and fined rp 204 million. After the decision, the public outcry was momentous, the local paper, The Jakarta Globe has had near constant coverage of the case, and groups even working with donors to pay off her fines. At this time it seems that justice, even if it is late in coming, has come for Prita. The hospital has offered to drop their civil suit against her, however, only if she will agree to drop the countersuit that she has against them.
This case has not only brought to light the injustice that Prita suffered but has also shown the power that the electronic public can have when working together for a cause. The internet has made global communication accessible and affordable for people across the globe, and is beginning to truly unit the world as a connected global community. Prita's case has shown what can happen if enough voices are heard. The internet also allowed the world to quickly hear of Ms. Mulyasari's plight; a Facebook group (while in mostly Indonesian is still informative) was set up to garner support and raise global awareness of the injustices of the case and the blogsphere is filled with individual and organizational blogs on the topic. This case is, in my opinion, a perfect example of Axel Bruns' idea of "citizen journalism." In Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond, Bruns discusses the traditional model for journalism or the "three stages of conventional news procedures", which follows a pattern of the news being selected by a closed group of journalists and editors that is trickled to the public. Citizen journalism breaks that mould by allowing the public access to news from their sources by way of internet. Bruns discusses:
Although the initial stories may consist of barely more than pointers to new information and news items elsewhere on the Web, citizen journalism extends them by enabling its communities to comment on such stories and thereby buildup more detailed, communal understanding of their background, context, and impact, as well as evaluating the information contained in the initial reports and combining or contrasting it with other available information (75).
This idea is shown within the Mulyasari case in the way that the global electronic community came together to share the available information and not allow the more powerful hospital to cover-up the story. It is interesting to speculate if this type of public exposure is the future of journalism in the information age. How long can traditional means of communication such as television broadcasts and newspapers keep up with the lightning fast pace that the internet can provide? We can only hope that future innovation in communications will continue to bring the world together in both news and tradition.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Talk about flow of Information!

I was looking on Yahoo news this evening and came across an interesting blog. Yahoo is blogging a live, play-by-play of the health care bill vote with new post going up every 15-30 minutes. I think that this is a fascinating example of the way that new media is changing the way that people get their news. It has long been possible for the average person to follow activity going on with our legislation by watching channels like CSPAN, but this online coverage opens the debate up to a new group of people that may (like many) find it difficult to watch the actual debate. This medium is clearly not an exhaustive representation of the debate, but I think is an available and followable option for information on something that is important.

In other class related news, I have started putting together a video about some interesting gaming info. As soon as I master the editing software on my mac I will be posting some footage!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Human rights and Technology

For the sake of this class I have been more alert to watching stories that pop-up on my news feed that are tech related (it has always been the archeology until now). I have posted several articles that deal with the unique set of problems that a wired world creates (the laptops taking still photos in homes, the menacing Facebook stalkers, my undying love of all things mac). However, this article addresses an interesting issue with the technologically connected world. Before reading this I was not aware that the US had blacklisted several countries and had stopped the flow of social networking software into these countries. I was one of the people who followed the Iranian elections and following protests on my Twitter (one of the only times I have used it regularly before this class) and was moved my the stories and images that were pouring out of Iran and the responses from the world. Twitter allowed, if only for a few days, the rest of the world to feel as if they are there in the conflict with a constant stream of information and communication. I was shocked when I learned from this article that Iran is one of the black listed countries and that we almost didn't have the chance to learn from all of the Iranians that were brave enough to keep posting, even when the police squads were searching homes for Tweeters and shutting down ISP hubs to stop the flow of information. The internet and social networking sites are working to make the world more of a true "global village" and by finally allowing these countries the right to join in this flow of information and culture is a big step in the right direction.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A second quick post for today

I saw this and thought it was too good not to share! I think if I were going to buy an island I would want one with more sunshine and less pixels! :)

Be careful Pennsylvania students, Big Brother really is watching!

I saw this article online while browsing for Apple related news (I think I need a mac intervention!) I couldn't believe what I was reading as I made my way through the article and subsequint searching that found more articles on this case. The case involves 2,000+ macbooks bought by a Pennsylvania high school that it distributed to its sudents and allowed them to take the computers home. In an effort to "locate stolen computers" the school employed a software that turned on the webcams on the computers and took still pictures INSIDE THE STUDENT'S HOMES! Some students were even called into the office for improper behavior that was recorded while in the homes. I cannot imagine the level of violation that the students (and parents for that matter) must feel about this. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I found out that my school was taking still pictures of me inside my home without my knowledge I would raise a stink like they have never seen the likes of! I think this case raises all kinds of issues about cyber privacy and where the line is drawn.The school is being brought up on charges that are similar to illegal wire tapping, but I think that this is another level all together. I can only imagine what other kinds of images that were captured that the article didn't talk about as it only addressed images of the students themselves (dads in their shorts staring into the fridge, moms getting dressed for work, creep city!) What do you all think about the rights of the students and of the school in a situation such as this one?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The new "Face" of Victim Harrassment

I never cease to be amazed by the lengths that some people are willing to go to make others suffer. This article, found on Yahoo news, has to be a new level of cruelty. As new forms of communication and social networking become more popular and readily available, I suppose that they will continue to be used in destructive ways. I cannot fathom what it would be like to loose a child and then be mocked on Facebook and Twitter (of all places) by my child's murderer. I think we like to assume that once someone is behind bars that they can no longer cause the victims pain, but global networking has changed even that it would seem. Can you imagine someone on the outside, a family member of a murderer perhaps, actually doing this for them? It chills the blood.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh, new technology, how I love you but hate your cost.

One of the most pressing issues when deciding on a new piece of technology is the cost. As a college student I often have to wait several months (or even years) to get a shiny new gadget because of the often gasp inducing price. The following article breaks down the cost of these new devices by how much it costs to actually manufacture them. I was pleasantly surprised that the iPad (my current object of techno-lust) sells for pretty close to its actual cost and was surprised at the mark-up on other devices that I thought were pretty affordable (nearly double cost for the iPod shuffle!) I find it facinating that you so often see information for the mark-up on other luxury items like diamonds and cars, but this was the first I had seen on electronics. It is a real eye-opener when you start to consider what you are really paying for on so many of these devices (I had always assumed that you were paying for the actual technology involved, but one of the chips was only $5 to make!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Books, Books, Books!

Regarding the reading list for this semester, I have the good fortune to live next door to Megan who has ordered most of the books from the reading list and has agreed to share with me! (Thank you Megan!) There are 6 here with more on the way and we have each selected 3 to read first. I am starting with Gamer Theory, Orality and Literacy, and Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond. I am starting with Gamer Theory because I am a gamer and it had what was possibly the best two reviews on Amazon (I will include a link, hilarious!) I think the plan is for us to switch after we have finished the 3 books that we are reading.
I really haven't read anything like this book, I tend to turn my brain off and read mostly sci-fi, horror and low fantasy books when reading on my own *sheepishly* I have long been telling myself that I should be reading books that have more content now that I am in grad school, hopefully this will be a kick in the seat to get me reading more than Neil Gaiman and classwork! I like to read the reviews of books before I read them (I am such an old man sometimes) and Gamer Theory's gave me a good laugh. I think that the three reviews on Amazon are a perfect example of the varied responses that a piece of academic writing can receive when the public and post reviews.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hello and Welcome!

And welcome to my New Media blog. My first link that I will share is one that I found interesting because of my recent move to Mac. I have looking into getting a Kindle and have been (not so) patiently for the release of the free Kindle download for the Mac that Amazon has recently put out for the PC. My Macbook has made me an Apple fanatic so the thought of an Apple produced reading is appealing to me! I worry about the price tag, but Apple has proven to be dependable and tend to have great support behind their products.