The Cultural Practice of Blogging in the US

After reading Onur Kabadayi’s “Blogging is Dead, Long Live Blogging” I was tempted to say that the disappearance of casual blogs was a good thing. How could the decline of casual bloggers be a good thing? Some argue that it is better for the media and marketing but I do not agree.

Casual bloggers brought to the forefront various perceptions that could be vital to marketers. The reduction in casual blogging in the US inevitably leaves marketers lacking in content that can be used in identifying the opinions of the everyday individual. Sure, more skilled writers may increase the quality of the “blogosphere” but quantity is more essential in deriving whether the practice is still useful. Why would I say quantity is more essential?

Simply put, if the blogosphere lacks casual bloggers voicing their opinions then we are left with a medium which is only going to have information that is overseen by editors, marketing executives, and news media. This leaves us with nothing more than blogs created that recycle the opinions of a few. Unlike Facebook or Twitter where users post short updates, blogging allows for more in-depth opinion sharing in the market place of ideas by citizen journalists.

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Citizen journalism is necessary in the marketplace of ideas. Everyday individuals writing within the blogosphere can provide marketers and media with information to better address what everyday people want to hear and can be a vital asset to PR professionals. This leads me to also say that I do not always agree that the label “citizen journalism” is ideal when it relates to some industry-specific Web journals.

This label may be correct when a “citizen journalist” is writing from their own point of view but not when it becomes an industry run Web journal. After all, most industry run Web journals institute the use of “guest bloggers” and this takes away the citizen attribute. What does this mean for the future of this digital composition?

The future of blogging surely will be geared more toward business, industry, and media practices. However, as this becomes increasing obvious to the everyday individual one can assume that the casual blogger will once again become very prominent in the cultural practice of Web journals.


Should Twitter Take Steps to Remove Graphic Content?

Traditional media is no longer serving as the primary news source for our consumption. Social media has taken the place of traditional media. One social media platform, Twitter, has become a prime source of information in today’s society allowing for the spread of information throughout the world at the speed of light. Graphic content distributed through mass media platforms present ethical issues. Twitter being a prime source of news has caused many to question the platform’s responsibility for implementing standards toward the publication of graphic content.

Should social media platforms like Twitter take on the responsibility of removing and/or censoring graphic content? Yes, Twitter should take responsibility for the removal of graphic content but should only do so of its own free will. Twitter should only do so when Twitter’s user generated content (UGC) would cause harm to individuals and their families.

Twitter considered this its responsibility when responding to users regarding the disturbing image of a decapitated photojournalist James Foley appearing in twitter feeds. Twitter began to suspend accounts related to this disturbing image.

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When notified of such graphic images, I expect Twitter to remove such content because I would not want to open my feed and see such an image and the family of the photojournalist should be warranted respect. Standards and ethical values are worthy of consideration in such instances. However, I do not believe that Twitter as a commercial enterprise should be expected to adopt ethical standards.

It is unrealistic to expect Twitter to conform to ethical standards when content is user generated. UGC cannot be expected to be fair, honest, or free of obligation to any other interest. One cannot expect the various contributors of content on Twitter to be accountable to their peers or for Twitter to be held accountable either.

So, while I do not expect Twitter to be held accountable for monitoring all content for disturbing graphic images I do expect Twitter to take steps to remove such content when notified. I expect Twitter to take these steps because precedent was already set in the case of the graphic image of James Foley.

Media Criticism

From this point on, this web journal will document my progress through my Media Criticism course (RTV4403) at FSCJ. Throughout this journal I will demonstrate my ability to analyze the various ways communication is influenced by new media which is relevant in my field of study.

Cinema in Full Circle, According to Manovich

In Lev Manovich’s book “The Language of New Media”, Chapter 6: What is Cinema; Manovich describes the relationship between cinema and new media. He describes this relationship as being two vectors.

The first vector relates to the process of cinema to new media and second, from computers to cinema.

Manovich summarizes the effects of computerization on cinema as:

  • The use of computer techniques in traditional filmmaking, such as, 3-D computer animation, digital painting, virtual sets and actors, and motion capture.
  • The new forms of computer-based cinema, such as, location-based entertainment, motion graphics, net.cinema which is films that have been designed specifically for Internet distribution, hypermedia interfaces, interactive movies and games that are structured around film-like sequences, and animated, filmed, and simulated sequences.

Manovich also mentions that the effects do not include new distribution technologies like digital film projection.

Manovich discusses cinema and the possibility of interactive narrative and states that computer media is not exactly narrative. Manovich makes known that computer media has redefined cinema because the old characteristics of cinema have become default options.

Manovich elaborates on this idea in that the new techniques that are being used to solve technical problems and traditional cinema is still preserved. So, even though computers are used as a tool for production, cinema is dependent on a narrative form and reality effect.

Throughout this book Manovich has concentrated on visual culture and media, but mainly on cinema. Throughout this book Manovich also has concentrated on using the history and theory of cinema so that he could provide the reader with a map for understanding how logic drives both the technical and stylistic development of new media. He also traced out the role cinematic language has on new media interfaces. He calls this “cultural interfaces” which are the interfaces between the user and cultural data.

Lastly, the effect of computerization provides one with an opportunity to see the world in new ways, which were not available to the man who simply had a movie camera.

The Database and Narrative, According to Lev Manovich.

In Lev Manovich’s book “The Language of New Media”, Chapter 5: The Database, Manovich describes the relationship between the database and narrative.

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The database, per Manovich is a collection of items used to perform various operations Manovich tells us that the use of these computerized collections is distinct from reading a narrative in that if over time new elements are added to then collections are formed, not a story. Further one finds that a narrative becomes a method of accessing data.

When discussing Data and Algorithm, Manovich mentions that not all new objects are openly databases. He says, a narrative to computer games is a result that can be experienced by users. The narrative is formed when gamers are given a task and reach the last level or the highest score.

In Database and Narrative Manovich tells us that the database and narrative are natural enemies. A narrative creates a cause and effect trajectory and the database as a cultural form simply represents the world as a list of items.

One also finds that Manovich does find that narratives and games are similar because the user must identify the underlying logic when proceeding through them. He tells us that data structures (CD-ROMs and Websites) and algorithms drive different forms of computer culture. So, databases correspond to data structure and narratives and games correspond to algorithm. So the ‘user’ of a narrative transverses a database by following links as established by the database creator. Thus one has an interactive narrative or ‘hypernarrative’ as described by Manovich. However, this does not mean that a random order of database records is a narrative. Manovich elaborates by stating that to qualify as a narrative, a cultural object (not all cultural objects are narratives) must placate a number of measures. It must contain an actor and narrator, three levels of text; the story and fabula (the chronological order of the events contained in the story), and the contents need to be a series of connected events that are either experienced or caused by the actor.

According to Manovich, database and narrative do not have the same status in computer culture. While a database can support a narrative it cannot foster the generation of a narrative.

Lev Manovich: Synthetic Realism

In Chapter four, The Illusions of Lev Manovich’s book “The Language of New Media” synthetic realism and its discontents is clarified.

When discussing theories of illusion in art and media Manovich brings forth three potential arguments concerning three different relationships. These relationships are image and physical reality, image and natural perception, and present and past images. So, before computer media the following were sufficient:

  1. “Illusionistic images share some features with the represented physical reality.”
  2. “Illusionistic images share some features with human vision.”
  3. “Each period offers some new ‘features’ that are perceived by the audience as an ‘improvement’ over the previous period.”

Today, a breakaway from these theories is found in synthetic realism by moving synthetic images, such as, interactive 3-D computer graphics and animation. This allows for one to experience the moving around in a simulated 3-D space. Games are interactive in that they are animated in real time. When full motion video occurs in a game there is a higher level of detail resulting in realism.

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New realism is not analog or uniform. “New realism is partial and uneven.” Manovich elaborates that 3-D computer graphics are basically incomplete because there are gaps and white spots to be found. In contemporary culture, 3-D synthetic imagery is used more often resulting in a problem of realism. According to Igor Hardy’s Gamer’s (illusion of) Freedom”, “the player’s imagination can be best stimulated and deceived in order to identify with events inside the game, while making the player oblivious to the rigid patterns built by the machinery behind it.”

Manovich also sheds light on synthetic photographs produced by computer graphics. Manovich reminds one that although synthetic photographs may be considered inferior to real photographs, synthetic photographs are not only “too perfect” but also “too real.” This results in synthetic images generated by computers representing not only our reality, but also a different reality altogether. So, synthetic images represent the future not just the past as traditional photographs fully represent.

Manovich offers another perspective on existing theories in relation to illusionism. Essentially, previous theories place the subject acts as a viewer. New media turns the subject into a user interacting with a representation. Thus, the user is given control over the illusion.

Montage: According to Lev Manovich

In Chapter three; The Operations of Lev Manovich’s book “The Language of New Media” montage is explained.

Montage is editing and creates fake realities in today’s technology. Under the heading Archeology of Compositing: Cinema, Manovich distinguishes two basic techniques used by digital compositing relating to montage: temporal montage and montage within a shot. In temporal montage consecutive moments in time are formed by separate realities. In opposition, montage within a shot relates to the contingent parts of a single image are formed by separate realities.

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Manovich says, “examples [of montage within a shot] include the superimposition of a few images and multiple screens used by the avant-garde filmmakers in the 1920’s (for instance, superimposed images in Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera and a three-part screen in Gance Abel’s 1927 Napoléon).”

Vertov theorized that film could present viewers with objects that do not exist in reality by use of temporal montage.

Manovich tells us that spatial montage rather than temporal montage, gives viewers an alternative to traditional cinema by replacing its traditional sequential mode with a spatial one. Cinema followed the logic that the process of production is best broken up into a “set of repetitive, sequential, and simple activities.” Computer programming follows suit by breaking “tasks into a series of elemental operations to be executed one at a time.” Cinema substituted its “modes of narration with a sequential narrative, an assembly line of shots, which appear on the screen one at a time.” As it turns out, sequential narrative is incompatible with a spatial narrative.

Manovich tells us that when digital filmmakers establish a logic that controls the changes and correlation of values through new spatial dimensions the spatial montage is created. He defines spatial dimensions as: “spatial order of layers in a composite, …virtual space constructed through compositing, …2-D movement of layers in relation to the image frame, …relationship between the image and linked information in the adjustment window.” So, spatial montage involves various images of various size and proportion appearing at the same time on one screen so long as the filmmaker constructs the logic to determine what images are to appear together and when.

After The Language of New Media was published, Manovich published in 2002 his writing titled The Archeology of Windows and Spatial Montage. In this writing Manovich states, “When I was finishing the book in 1999, I could not find any examples of spatial montage in contemporary cinema… In the next couple of years, the spatial montages gradually become more present in film and television, from Mike Figgis’s Timecode (2000) to a TV series “24 hours” and many music videos and commercials.”

One Girl’s Day In Georgia

It was a beautiful cool day outside and one young lady was spending that glorious day taking a day trip to Georgia. On this trip she met up with her distant cousins. The trip consisted of visiting Jekyll Island, an old sugar mill, and ended with a walk on a pier. The time spent was a good break away from her normal routine of just spending time with friends.

The Interface and the Screen

In Lev Manovich’s boimagesok “The Language of New Media”, Chapter 2: The Interface, Manovich uses the term human-computer interface (HCI) to describe the ways users interact with computers. Under the heading, The Language of Cultural Interfaces he further mentions that the HCI is inclusive of both physical input and output devices. These devices are the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Interfacing of cultural data refers to text, photographs, film, music, and virtual environments. The language of cultural interfaces according to Manovich, are cinema, printed word, and general-purpose human-computer interface.

It is emphasized that the screens frame is separated into two spaces of different scales. These spaces are the physical and virtual. The screen functions as a window into an illusionary space and also as a flat screen that carries text labels and graphical icons. Manovich says the screen provides “depth and surface, opaqueness and transparency, images as illusionary space and image as instrument for action.” Manovich also tells us that screens can be interactive, real-time, and dynamic. According to Manovich screens are used by data-entry clerks, doctors and pilots, and are used at store checkout counters, and dashboards in cars. Of course there is also the computer screen. Manovich defined the screen, “a window into the space of representation that itself exists in our normal space.”

The human interface and representation refers to the spectator as having double identity in that the spectator simultaneously exists in “physical space and the virtual space that continues it.” Manovich elaborates on this idea and tells the reader that because of the double identity, there is a “tradeoff for new mobility of the image as well as for the newly available possibility to represent an arbitrary space, rather than having to simulate the physical space where an image is located.”

My biggest impression from this chapter is the realization that the screen itself is what enables one to posses the illusion that are able to navigate through virtual spaces. The best example of this can be seen in the movie Johnny Mnemonic.

Memes and Marketing….Who Knew?

A meme is simplyf2a69980-1889-4698-ab7d-d02b7082ed74 a piece of digital content, which is quickly spread around the Internet and becomes a cultural experience that is shared (units of culture). Memes are known for their entertainment value but they should be taken seriously due to their marketing, advertising, and public relations advantage.

Memes are relevant to digital media and communications because marketers can use them. Marketers use memes as a form of viral marketing. This form of marketing is known as memetic marketing. Memes are trendy and lucrative. The use of memes results in awareness. Memes have been used to create interest in films, campaigns, and advertisements.