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Final Project

Self Control

I’ve been sitting here working on final projects that require being connected to the internet, which makes procrastination WAY too easy. I was of course on AIM and facebook periodically, and finally chatted to my friend Sam, “I CANNOT GET ANYTHING DONE!” and he said, “I have your solution. where are you sitting?”

He came to my spot in the library and introduced me to the solution to (half) my problems. The program to download is called “self control.” It is a program that allows you to assign websites to be disabled on your computer. So I typed in www.facebook.com. Then you get to choose how long you want to be blocked for. I chose 30 minutes. Click START, and a timer pops up as a widget on your desktop. You can x out of the widget, close the program, and even delete the download…. your disabled websites will still not work until the time period is up. It’s fantastic!! It’s also really pathetic that I want this to confirm the will power to not go online.SC

But I’m certainly not the only one who is benefiting from computer-induced self control… walking up and down the aisles of carrels in the library, I think more people have a timer widget on their computer, than not. It’s bad that we’re so addicted to these websites like Facebook. Or maybe it’s not that we’re addicted to the website, but that we’re addicted to procrastinating, and sites like Facebook are the easiest way to access procrastination while sitting at a desk. Lucky for us, we now have synthetic self control available just as easily as procrastination.

synthetic, digital self control. weird.

http://visitsteve.com/work/selfcontrol/

Last week I had my orientation for my study abroad program. The orientation was in NYC, and I was in vermont. I made my appearance via Skype, which was a weird experience. At first, I chatted one on one with the orientation leader which was completely normal video chatting, like I’d do with a friend to catch up. She saw me, I saw her, we talked. However, once the other students came and settled into the room, she put me up on the projector screen where the powerpoint would later be. I was introduced and said hi to the other kids and they all introduced themselves. This was nice, but then the leader told me she was going to point me toward the classroom so I could see the other kids, but minimize me while they did the powerpoint. This was weird. First of all, I was being minimized. Second, I was like some fly on the wall who could see everyone in the classroom, but they couldn’t see me.

As for the powerpoint, no worries… the leader e-mailed me the file before the meeting started, so I had it pulled up in the corner of my own computer screen so I could follow along. Then when she wanted to show a video, she asked that I watch along on the website, but that I put in headphones so that they wouldn’t hear my audio through the Skype while they were watching it.

I was weirdly nervous to attend the orientation over skype… more so than had I been going in person. Not really sure why. But anyway, it all worked smoothly, and I’m glad I didn’t have a problem “attending” due to my distant geographic location.

Who say’s my generation is the only one obsessed with their portable electronics, and being connected? I called my mom this morning to wish her a happy mother’s day, and the first thing she needed to tell me was that she couldn’t find her cell phone. Her exact words were:

“I can’t find my cell phone… I feel so discombobulated. It’s disturbing. I called the nail salon thinking I left it there – that was gonna be my last hope. And it’s not there. So now I’m really worried. I mean, I haven’t been able to check if I’ve had any texts from you for like 24 hours.”

Now, does that sound any different from how one of us youngins would react? Looks like I’ve dragged my mom down with me…

For every freshman’s first a cappella concert, they must dress in accordance to a theme that us older members have decided on. I wasn’t a part of the conversation last night when the group decided on a costume theme, but I found out tonight that the Freshmen are required to dress as Youtube videos….

WHAT?! How do you dress as a video? My first reaction was, well that’s dumb… themes are only fun if people in the audience understand what the theme is. Then I realized that viral YouTube videos are probably one of the most recognizable things in our generation. The frequency of YouTube videos being quoted on a daily basis is ridiculous. And the fact that someone can randomly say as much as one word (ex: “Charlieee”) or a phrase in a specific accent (ex: “my son is gay!”) and everyone in the room immediately knows it and chimes in.

Our freshmen will be dressing as: Nobody’s Perfect, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, I Like Turtles, Justin Beiber Girl, Sassy Gay Friend (Romeo and Juliet version), and Things I Hate. YouTube ‘em to check ‘em out.

I still think it’s going to be hard to recognize the videos from our freshman’s costumes alone, because obviously what is SAID in the videos is most recognizable. Still, it’s pretty crazy to see how media technology influences today’s society in the weirdest ways.

HBO imagine

I think the idea behind HBO imagine is very cool. However, I’m not sure how effective I think it is. In terms of creating an interactive “movie,” I don’t like it. The way the scenes are shot, to show how a scene changes when viewed from a new perspective, is really cool. I especially love the scenes that are on the spinning cubes. Those I found to be the most fun to play with. What I don’t like though is having pauses between each scene of the “movie.” I don’t like seeing it out of order either. I understand that the whole point is to be interactive and “unlock” scenes and put it all together yourself, but I’m not into it. But then I also had an interesting thought …. if I think of this as a “game” and not an “interactive story,” i all of a sudden become much more interested. Calling it something different obviously doesn’t change what it is, at all, but it changes the way I look at “the interactive experience.” I don’t like the idea of changing the movie-watching experience, but I might be up for a interactive video puzzle.

After all our talk about remix culture and looking at different mash up artists, I decided I wanted to give mash-up a try. I figured I could put something together, even if it was simple and sounded shitty, but sure enough I couldn’t even pick two songs to put together from my itunes. Hunter, on the other hand, has been working on some of his first mash ups, and has been much more successful. He’ll warn you “it’s just his first attempt” as to not get your hopes up before hearing it, but I’m entirely impressed with what he’s produced. We make the argument that with today’s technology, anyone can produce music, etc. from their own lap top. But knowing what software is best and then knowing how to use it and putting it to use, is a whole other story.

Since Hunter wouldn’t blog about it himself, I’m putting it up for him.

Enjoy  – “Tik Tok In Spain” by Hunter Nolan

http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/song_3766672

broken phone

These days I like to pick up snippets of conversations that have to do with media and technology in our lives… Here’s one I just got:

“My phone’s broken. It’s so frustrating.”

“Ah yeah that is annoying.”

“Yeah. I mean, it’s like, 20% enjoyable, 80% annoying.”

We all seem to realize that it’s kind of nice to be a little less connected all the time, but when it’s not by our own choice to become disconnected, we worry that our world will flip upside down or that we’re constantly missing out on something.

For our project we wanted to display how involved some gamers are in their chosen virtual world and how they almost become their avatar. We focused on Hunter, the gamer, as well as the video game footage, to show the connected between gamer and avatar. Some people love video games because they can “become” their avatar, and are able to do things within the game world that they can’t do in real life. In our video we can see Hunter’s intent on killing people and stealing cars, his eyes glued to the television, his hands acting as the limbs of his avatar. Doing these actions in the game world holds no consequences, and some people become entirely engrossed in having this kind of “second life” in a virtual reality of a video game. Gamers can get away in the world of video games.

We also wanted to display a second statement about the art of machinima. We made deliberate choices about which shots to create while playing the game, controlling all camera angles and then editing the pieces together to our liking in the final product.

we’ll watch the original file for high quality in class!

by hannah, hunter & molly

I have only seen a couple south park episodes in my life. So watching this episode, I found myself actually laughing because of how on target all the mockery was. I’m trying to decide if I thought it was so good because it is a funny show standing alone, or if it’s because I’m now so attuned to how media rules our life, because of what we talk about in class. Chatting with my friend online, I told her what I had to just watch for class, and she responded in excitement, because she watches every episode. When she typed, “HAHAHHA I LOVE that one! One of my favorites,” I thought to myself, well it must just be a funny show in general. I’m thinking of myself as being more analytical than I really am. Bummer. But then she continued to crack jokes quoting lines like “You can’t be the dwarf! I’m the dwarf!” which makes me think maybe she (and other people) isn’t picking up all the underlying messages from the episode about media.  Another friend I’m talking to (yay multi-tasking on the internet) told me she’s seen it. She’s a big gamer, so I suggested she watch it. She decided to put it on again because she has nothing else to do right now, and I said how I thought it was so funn because of how relevant it is to my class. And she typed, “like what? HAHAHHAHHA! HILARIOUS about Hitler.” …not related to the messages I’m picking up. She did also just say “seriously people LOVE this shit. Everyone makes fun but this is exactly what…90% of guys our age do on halo and call of duty. Its just modern warfare instead of like legendary. Aka not different hahah.”

I guess the messages aren’t too deeply hidden under the surface, it’s all pretty in your face. But I think its because of these messages that the episode is successful in its humor, whether we all realize it while we’re watching it or not. The big points made are about how people “socialize” digitally through their avatars, gamer stereotypes, gender stereotypes, and how media over all has become like a second life to many of us.

I’m blabbing and realizing as I go… I guess my point isn’t really just whether or not other people are watching the episode in the same way as I am… but whether or not I would have had interest in the show without being in the critical media state of mind. I think if my brother had been watching it and I walked into the room, I would have seen 30 seconds of it, watched video game images on the television, and walked away uninterested.

The show dramatizes all these worries about gaming to the fullest extent, as if the end of a game really is the end of the world. The creators worry, “could this be the end of the world… of warcraft?” Always with that pause before “of warcraft” to emphasize the importance of this virtual reality for some people. Anyone who becomes good at the game is stereotyped in the show as having no life, fat, pimply, sitting at a computer with leftover processed food everywhere. When the world (of warcraft) is ending due to a killer on the loose, Cartman says to his peers, “you can stand around in the sun all day tossing a ball around, or you can sit at a computer and do something that really matters.” The killer is a great example of what Taylor talks about in his article, “pushing the borders.” Each game has a set of rules and how players should conduct themselves in the virtual space, but “absorbing the game experience proves itself to be, player culture has never existed in a completely rarified space: We can see all kinds of players pushing back at and tweaking the structures of play they encounter.”

The boys gang up at their computers in the basement and battle until they too become fat ugly gamers, needing assistance to go to the bathroom. Meanwhile, the managers of the game system don’t even have accounts to the game, because they “have a life.”

I loved how the show ramped up with excitement and suspense while we waited for the flash stick to be delivered, and then watching the Dad’s character run up to his son’s character to give him the sword of 1000 truths…. But then he doesn’t know how to hand it off. “Inventory! Apple i!!” Of course the father is the one to be helping out, because mom’s are portrayed as having absolutely no interest in the game, and thinking it’s dumb.

I also loved how in the earlier battle, Butter said he didn’t play warcraft, only the virtual world of Hello Kitty. The boys tell him to get the game before they murder him, and then when he appears, his avatar is the same as Cartman’s avatar. This mocks how we can enter into these virtual worlds as someone else, whoever we want to be. And two people, completely unique in real life, can appear identical in the alternate world.

“We killed him. I can’t believe it’s all over… What do we do now?”

“What do you mean? Now we can play the game.”

Very funny. Well done, South Park.

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