Musings on Potential Final Project

January 30th, 2008

Well, finally I’ve gotten my blog to work properly. I hope.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do my final project on, but I’m thinking I might want to focus on webcomics, because a) I honestly know next to nothing about them, b) they seem to be incredibly popular, and c) I love comic books, so this seems like a natural area for me to look into, especially as I have an interest in working in the comics industry. (Yeah, I’m kind of a geek. What can I say?)

I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with this yet, but I’m thinking on it.

(I also found the idea of doing something of an Improv Everywhere nature interesting when someone brought it up on Tuesday, and kind of of hope that someone–if not me–might do a project of that nature.)

As for the reading for tomorrow’s class, I’m afraid it puzzled me quite a bit. I hope that our discussion in class might help, and then I’ll be able to post a more coherent response. (Speaking of which, I hope the comments I’ve left on other entries actually worked . . . Because they didn’t seem to have, last I looked. Will have to look again.)

Reading for 1/17/08

January 16th, 2008

The first of the two introductions, “Inventing the Medium” by Janet H. Murray, dealt firstly with Borges (the author of “The Garden of Forking Paths”) and Bush (whom she describes as a “soldier-scientist,” in contrast with Borges the “storyteller-librarian”). She explores both of their outlooks on what new media had to offer, which is essentially that Borges saw it as an imprisoning labyrinth and Bush saw it as a place of opportunity. From there, she gives a brief overview of the wide and varied history of new media, which will hopefully be elaborated upon throughout the rest of the book. She concludes, then, that since the emergence of computers, “we are moving toward a world of ubiquitous computing,” which, to be honest, sounds both exciting and ominous.

The second introductory essay, however, “New Media from Borges to HTML” by Lev Manovich, did much of the same summarization of the history of the media and the fields it encompasses, which now includes–but is certainly not limited to–webpages, music, and 3-D modeling. He emphasized the fact that throughout the development of computers in the ’90’s, Europe and Japan were the head of the field and only now is the United States starting to catch up. Then, with the development of the Internet, he says that everything became–and is still becoming–connected to computers, from movies to music, describing the Web thusly: “The greatest hypertext is the Web itself, because it is more complex, unpredictable and dynamic than any novel that could have been written by a single human writer, even James Joyce.” This description strikes me because it not only gives a very concrete, very vivid metaphor for me to use when visualizing the amorphous, somewhat intimdating Internet, but also sort of elevates Joyce to a godlike status that’s just weirdly amusing. (“Literarier than a speeding bullet, more metaphors than a locomotive, able to write whole novels in a single bound . . .” But I digress.) Now that everything is becoming connected to computers, however, this causes the birth of many different definitions of “new media.” He then provides eight, and, of these, I found two especially fascinating. Firstly was the mix of “cultural conventions” with “software conventions,” which seems to be defining new media as a clash of cultures, where one culture isn’t exactly human. The second description that interested me was that describing it as the “encoding of Modernist avant-garde,” because I’m interested in the idea of the avant-garde, whether it be in art, theatre, or literature, but have yet to do as full an exploration of it as I’d like, and this seems to be opening a whole new area that I had not even considered.

The story, “The Garden of Forking Paths,” was, as Janet H. Murray introductory essay promised, a somewhat bleak outlook on the future of new media, or, I guess, at a universal novel that represented the future of new media. The vastness of such a thing is both inspiring and futile, and the entire setting of the tale was one of depression, conflict, and fatality, so I’m not sure whether I’m to look at what it foreshadows with anticipation or trepidation. For the time being, however, I’ll err on the side of the former.

    Dessine-moi un mouton!
    Quand on veut un mouton, c'est la preuve qu'on existe.