We Are The Disease

Spreading the Viral Phenomenon

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Technology in Writing: A Prezi

As Introduction to Writing Arts comes to a close, I took one last look at writing in technology. The way writers use technology is evolving, and becoming different than ever before. The Prezi I put together takes the viewer on a journey of writing through technology, benefits, downsides, and means of sharing. I used my resources and readings to share how technology in writing has changed and how it impacts literacy and space. A huge aspect and benefit of technology is how it promotes creativity, and allows the user to look outside the box and create without restraints. Please use the link below and set Prezi’s auto time to 20 seconds and enjoy!

Technology in Writing

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Too Much Information

Classmate, blogger, and tweeter – Hillary Heck recently tweeted from the blog, Mind Shift linked to KQED homepage where you can find endless amounts of information through radio, television, blogs, articles, and so on. The particular blog post was titled – How Are Students Roles Changing in the New Economy of Information?

The title stood out to me while browsing through Twitter being as I am still a student and agree that the amount of information out there today is endless. The article stated that; “For students, this abundance of information means not only a changing role from the traditional classroom, but also a drastically different set of skills and expectations.”

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A reading done in class by Kevin Kelly claimed we are changing from book fluency to screen fluency and our students will need to learn and adapt to that. Many of which are already adapted perfectly fine and school is a bore to their daily lifestyles full of technology. But having all of the information at our fingertips and a click of a button away can be dangerous.

Students need to learn how to handle all of the information given to them. This is one of the main questions posed in our discussion of how writing is changing based on technology – how we handle the amount of information. We need to learn what to research, the correct way to do so, credible and non credible sources, and the consequences.

The article makes a point aside from the general idea of information, Shawn McCusker, author of the article writes; “At the core of finding and evaluating information from a wide variety of sources is the need to question and evaluate its validity to determine its true usefulness and worth. The student who actively challenges sources, as well as the thoughts and opinions of others in class, perches at the center of information processing. Social students excel in this environment as they collaborate and commingle ideas from individuals into greater community ideas, making them a potential asset to other students in their class rather than an interference.” As a future teacher, this could not have been worded any better.

 

When Strangers Make-out

What is trending in the world of viral phenomena? Make outs! The latest viral sensation took place on YouTube, in a video about 20 stranger’s first kiss. The short film was written and directed by Tatia Pilieva in hopes to illustrate the raw emotion of a heart racing first kiss. The 20 strangers selected, consisted of a diverse group people. Gay, straight, old, young, Black, Asia and more took on the task was to kissing a total stranger for the first time.

This was not a task for many. We know that first kisses can be nerve racking or awkward. One couple even asked if they could turn the lights out for their kiss. Aside from the pre-kiss jitters p witnessed in the first few minutes if the video what happens next is magic.

Besides from the staged strangers kissing in this short film, the reality is that many people in their late teens and twenties have these kinds if experiences frequently but without the magic. One night stands or random make outs have become very common, and often have similar effects to the video. After the kiss, one girl turned to her guy and asked “what was your name again?” Although this film was tastefully done, showing the cutesy intimacy and awkward jitters, what was displayed in the film is just showed the cute facade of the dark reality of random hook-ups.

What’s so Funny?

When I think of viral videos in the past two years, three videos come to mind; Gangnam Style, The Harlem Shake, and What Does the Fox Say?  These videos went viral for one reason; they were weird.  What else was there to them?  Other than the sentence “Hey sexy lady” Gangnam Style is completely in Korean.  The Harlem Shake, well what on Earth was that?  What Does the Fox Say?  Imagine if that video was a serious educational video.  Nobody would watch it.  Personally, it disturbs me that being creative doesn’t count, it’s just got to be weird.

Think back to the days of sitcoms.  From the early days of Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy to the glory days of Full House and The Fresh Prince ofBel-Air, the shows had one thing in common that made them funny: good writing.  They had well timed jokes and odd moments that fit the script.  Today, we complain about the cartoons of the current generation vs. our cartoons.  We complain that theirs don’t have writing, that they are just odd and senseless.  And yet, we have fallen in love with the senseless videos of YouTube. 

What substance is there to a man pretending to ride a horse?  Most of us don’t even know what Gangnam Style is actually about.  It’s almost entirely in Korean.  We just pay attention to the goofy dance moves of Psy.  We’ve produced parodies that we can understand and probably dwarf the creativity that went into the original video (I believed I have watched a 30-second mass-up of Gangnam Style and Bill Nye the Science Guy more than the original video).  Personally, I despise The Harlem Shake as a waste of my time.  If I wanted to watch bad dancing I could look at myself in a mirror.  And What Does the Fox Say? contains some of the most obnoxious sounds I have ever heard.  The producers that made it have a hilarious series of elevator pranks that I find much cleverer than What Does the Fox Say? 

As a culture, we need to re-educate ourselves on what true comedy is.  We need to remind ourselves that a good video needs good work.  Yes it’s funny to occasionally laugh at someone wiping out on a skateboard or crashing into a pole.  But there needs to be a much better tilt towards what is truly funny.  I admit I like Family Guy, but Family Guy will never come close to the magic of The Simpsons.  That’s because The Simpsons is a throwback to a time when you needed to work to produce a good show.

The Untouched Model Campaign

It is no secret that the media that floods our news feeds, billboards, televisions and other publications contain images “perfect” models. Nor it is a secret that all of these images have undergone the tedious effort of key-combinations and clicks of a mouse to attain that beauty. This time, to an extremely noticeable level.

Appearing on the website of the popular chain, Target, was a very poorly photo-shopped image of a girl in a bikini,  with an obvious gaping space between her legs, and mistakenly cropping our her groin area. The desire to have a “thigh gap” between women’s legs is a growing trend and feeds the negative body images young girls have, being promoted by ads like this. Target spokesman, Even Miller, publicly apologized for this incident, labeling it an accident with a plan to correct the situation.

However, I can’t help but wonder, was this “accident” an evident attempt against the campaign of perfect women? Even amateur Photoshop artists have a better eye than this.  Was this perhaps a fight against these ads that contribute in lowering girls self-esteem? Some have argued that Target is trying to promote the thigh gap, however it is possible that the Photoshop artist behind the scandal is actually taking a stand against the issue by altering an image so ridiculous that is will go viral. The scandal has raised a great deal of awareness about the trend of attaining a thigh gap, actually pushing other popular stores who have a young audience against photo-shopped women. Stores such as American Eagle’s sister store, Aerie, has spoken out against airbrushing and began the Spring 2014 Campaign of untouched models, promoting “love the real you”.

Whether a horrible accident, a fight for skeleton- like women, or a secret campaign against photo-shopping models, this issue has gone viral, raising awareness about issues of body image and self worth, and most of all, the promotion of real women.

We Can’t Live Without Our Phones

The days of carrying around a UNICEF box for coin donations while trick-or-treating are over. As Americans we tend to be a lazy, obsessed with media and strongly involved in the instant gratification provided to us by Smartphones, Tablets or laptops. The old days of coin donations have been thrown out the window, making way for a new innovative way to donate to charity that has become widely popular in our culture. Best of all, it does not cost a cent and requires no work. The only thing you have to do is NOT use your phone.

The UNICEF Tap Project national campaign has just gone viral. The website and app track motion on a mobile devise, donating one full day of clean water to a child in need  for 10 minutes a phone goes unused. It couldn’t be easier or more cost effective to help the 768 million people that do not have access to clean drinking water. Not only will resting your phone save the lives of 1,400 children that die every day from unsafe water, but it is giving technology driven Americans a reason stop and smell the roses. Leaving your phone motionless just for an 8 hour night of sleep will provide 48 children 1 day’s worth of clean drinking water.  In the Tap Project promotion video, the narrator makes this great statement: “we think we can’t live without our phones, so why don’t we use them to provide something people actually can’t live without.” So, how long can you go without touching your phone?

From out of nowhere

We talk a lot about what goes viral on the internet.  Viral videos, viral trends, hashtags, etc.  But what about viral news?  We never think about news as being viral but it certainly is.  What makes certain news items catch our attention?  Important people such as the President or a celebrity make news.  They are names we are familiar with and people we care about despite having never met them or contacted them.  But what about the Malaysian Airlines crash?  Why has this captivated our attention?  How is it different from any other plane crash?  The answer is the search for answers.

Curiosity is in human nature.  We want to know where we came from, how things work, and what our place is in the universe.  And we want to know what happened to that airplane.  There is no trace of the airplane, not a shard of metal in the ocean, no last message broadcasted from the plane, and no eyewitnesses.  News outlets and reported that the plane “disappeared”. But things don’t just disappear.  The plane, or remnants of the plane, must have gone somewhere.  It is that mystery that draws us in.  All we know is that something happened to that plane.  We don’t know what happened, who did it, or where it is.  People are asking their friends, “What do you think happened to that plane?” knowing that their friend has no idea.  But they want to hear his or her theory.  The want another scenario in their head.  They want to solve this great mystery.

77 years ago, Amelia Earhart disappeared in her airplane over the Pacific Ocean.  Today we still talk about her, we wonder what happened, and we search for her wreckage.  Another plane has disappeared in the Pacific without a trace and we wonder, will we find the wreckage, or is this the Amelia Earhart of our times?

T.M.I

In Writing as Technology by Bolter, the author discusses various mediums of technology in writing. From papyrus to the printing press, Bolter covers evolution of writing whether by scribes onto hard slabs of wood or the change of the printing press. Other readings throughout this course had authors discuss the downfall of technology upgrades from the pencil to the computer in our society. The advance in our technology has created a new monster on the internet.

Bolter wrote something in his article that would speak to a non believer in the evolution of technology: “artificial intelligence has not provided us machines with the capacity to write stories or create fully autonomous graphic world”. (Bolton, 20). As much as all college students would love to have a machine to do their homework, technologically speaking we are just not there yet. I have even tried to find an app that can read text on my Ipad instead of reading to myself. This is an advance our society would not be ready for. Change in technology often has to be integrated slowly. In the article Atwood in Twittersphere by Margaret Atwood, an elderly woman explores the new site for her own investigation broadening her horizons to things and popular computer slang like LMAO. However, she discussed something very important and even admitted to being guilty of it herself: over sharing on the internet.

Over sharing is a topic also discussed by Bolton, stating that “This openness led to things like erotic Web sites” (20), forcing United State officials to block those sites in protection of young children. Over sharing is something youth and adults are faced with daily temptation. Even authors like Atwood are prone to over sharing, she admits after stating “queasy encouragement shown by those on the shore waving goodbye to someone who’s about to shoot Niagara Falls in a barrel. Oops! I shouldn’t have said that. Which is typical of “social media”: you’re always saying things you shouldn’t have said.”  Knowledge is power, and with so much information accessible where does that leave us? Being so informed, it can almost be harmful to individuals.

A good example is a page of Facebook called Rowan University Confessions/Secrets (my current institution). It is a place where students can anonymously write in confessions, but can be greatly harmful. I am a resident assistant on campus in a medium size freshman dorm, and at the beginning of this academic year an anonymous person wrote into the page “to the RA on the second floor of Mimosa, sometimes we can see you changing from the basketball courts”. Now, the process of elimination was pretty easy on that one. There are only 3 resident assistants on the second floor of mimosa, only 1 of whom had a room facing the basketball courts and it just happened to be mine. That single embarrassing moment was now forever in cyberspace and reached most of my 800 Facebook friends, including my bosses.

Now, Bolton ends his article with the idea that “the computer makes associative linking easier” (20) but sometimes that does not necessarily make it better. Sometimes it can be safer to stick with the safer, more naturalistic writing of the old days.

Is Writing A Technology ?

“Each technology of writing involves different materials or different ways of deploying the writing materials and the differences are significant (Bolter, 19).” Jay David Bolter is Director of the Wesley New Media Center and Wesley Chair of New Media at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Bolter focuses on writing about new media and constructs new digital media forms. He does a great deal of comparing and contrasting modern day writing forms to the origins of writing.

According to the Greeks, the root word for technology is “techne” known as an art or craft, a set of rules, or system and methods of making and doing art and craft (Bolter, 15.)” In our world today we see technology as something with a screen or a plug, something containing electricity or battery of some sort. What we fail to realize is that writing itself is the biggest technology of all and without the original concept, we would not be producing the content we are capable of now.

Bolter expresses in his article, “Writing in the late age of Print” that we are refashioning the voice of text. He also speaks about how writing is an art and technology is improving the way writing was once designed. Speaking in terms of college, everything I do is on a computer and nothing is hand written or produced from scratch. When asked to write a “rough draft” for a course, I do not pull out paper and pen and begin to write, I simply open Microsoft Word and begin typing on a blank document. Backspace and delete are the new form of erasers. The refashioning of the voice of text poses the question of homogeneity and the idea of writings being similar and comparable.

Take this class for example, Introduction to Writing Arts, the history, the technology, and the issues of writing. Throughout this class, we explore each of those three content areas with the common theme of writing and how it has and continues to change. Module one explained the ideas behind writing and what originated it and how we got to this place of writing today. Module two, my current module relates writing to the modern day world of writing, with the help of technology. I no longer need to write a paper by hand or check out books from the library for research, it is now available with the click of a button. Granted, what Bolter expressed about homogeneity is true, many things online are similar but we must learn as students and humans of the technological world to pick out those few substantial pieces of writing.

“The best way to understand electronic writing today is to see it as the remediation of printed text… the qualities that distinguish electronic writing from print, flexibility and interactivity become the bases of the enthusiasts’ claims that the computer can improve the printed book” stated Bolter in his article “Writing is Technology.” In short, this finalizing statement sums up the concept of writing today and how technology will engage more people to become active writers through flexibility and inveracity of writing.

The Computer is Viral

            J.D. Bolter’s two articles, Writing in the Late Age of Print and Writing as a Technology sum up the new role of writing in the 21st century.  Writing in the Late Age of Print does a wonderful job predicting the future of the computer.  Writing as a Technology does a good job of comparing the computer and its revolution to the revolutions created by past writing technologies.  Both articles do an excellent job summing up the role of the computer.

Writing in the Late Age of Print, written in 2001, almost perfectly describes the role of the computer today.  He correctly predicts the future of e-books.  E-books have already been invented in 2001, but they were not as prevalent as today, due to their lack of portability.  Bolter says on page 8, “Machines have diminished dramatically in size and in price during the past 40 years, and computer screens are becoming more readable.  Some portable computers already have the bulk and weight of notebooks, and it is not hard to imagine one whose screen is as legible as a printed page.  Bolter also does a good job of predicting the role of printed books in the 21st century.  He says that role of books will diminish as more people use digital technology, but they will not completely go away for at least another half century, if not longer.  The worst case scenario for printed books is that the older generation will keep books around for a few more decades before dying away.  It is hard to imagine any other scenario for books.

Writing as a Technology compares the computer today to the technological inventions of the past.  He tells us how each writing technology made writing easier and eventually made the old way obsolete, but not before going through several changes.  He talks about how the printing press made books not only easier to produces, but lighter over time.  Bolter talks about how each technology shift is a “‘remediation,’ in that the sense that a newer medium takes the place of an older one, borrowing and reorganizing the characteristics of writing in the older medium and reforming its cultural space.”  For example, papyrus took the oral tradition of telling stories and allowed people to write them down.  The computer continues the tradition of writing down printed words the way a typewriter did, but it allows us to instantly publish it onto the internet. The technological revolution of the 2000s is going the same way that every other technological revolution has before.

Bolter’s two pieces about the computer do a create job summing up the role of the computer.  They predict where the computer is headed based up what Bolter observes as well as what has happened with past revolutions such as the printing press.  It seems every revolution plays out the same way, including this one.  Someday, a new technology will replace the computer and someone will write the same articles as Bolter about the new technology.

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