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Art is Imitation

Art is imitation

Post of Final Project–a statement on the dichotomy/continuum between creativity and originality in art.


This past weekend, the New York Times had what they called a “Moment in Time” challenge, which invited readers across the globe to take a picture wherever they were on Sunday afternoon at 11 AM.  They had several thousand submissions and are apparently in the process of sorting through them all now, though they have published a few.  This is a perfect example of the democratization of popular culture, as now, everyone has the chance to become a NY Times photographer, at least to some extent.  What does this mean for the medium?  How will the hierarchy of artistic talent be changed by the newly opened door?  This are questions I ask regularly and continue to hope that our standards won’t change too much.

see http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/readers-13/


Has anyone heard of or used the new-ish app, Foursquare?  It’s one of the zillion new “startups” coming out of New York.  It works like this; you arrive at a restaurant or bar or a party, and you “check in” on Foursquare rather than sending a mass text to a bunch of friends telling them where you are.  Then, instead of responding to and receiving a bunch of mass texts from friends telling YOU where THEY are, you peruse Foursquare to see where everyone is.  A recent New Yorker article commented, “Foursquare is also useful if you want to let everyone know that you are.”  In short, it’s a new kind of “ambient awareness,” the phenomenon we talked about in our conversations about Twitter.  At the same point, the new app to have a slightly more complex function as it does more than just tell the world where you are at a given moment–it’s a time-saver, it’s convenient, and, as the New Yorker put it, “Foursquare is essentially an urban network of hipsters, their favorite haunts, their favorite food and drinks—a marketer’s dream, in other words.”  Aside from letting your friends know where you are, you’re also giving marketers access to your social patterns, which is extremely useful information that can and likely will improve advertising strategies by providing agencies with easy and instant access to market research.

Twitter’s Business Model

….What is it?  I just read these two articles:



I understand that they are finally going to try to turn a profit, but I’m unsure about their approach to advertising.  It seems like they are trying to catch up to Google as a search engine.  What will a sponsored tweet look like?  Will people start searching twitter more now?  How will the “Resonance Score” referred to in the WSJ article affect advertising in other venues?

Does anyone have an opinion on this?  I don’t yet….

Beatles Rock Band

A prospective student walked in while we were “studying” Beatles Rock Band in class today…this struck us all as ironic–how can something so fun be “academic?”  I’ve watched Project Runway in a sociology class, read magazines in another Film and Media course, and attended screenings of the Simpson’s, Seinfeld, and the Hills.  My friends make fun of me for this, and I often find myself at a loss when it comes time to explain just how one could possibly identify any of these manifestations of pop culture as an academic category.  I have even questioned my own decision to take such classes.  I remember now a reading from the beginning of the semester in which the writer pointed out that fish don’t know that they’re swimming in water, people don’t pay attention to the fact that we are breathing in air, etc…these classes have taught me to pay attention to the world that I and my friends actively consume, but that many of my friends don’t attempt to understand in the ways that we do in these courses.  These classes, while they might sound frivolous or too fun to be worthwhile teach two things: first, media literacy; and second, that valuable learning doesn’t have to be traditional and it can happen outside of erserves and textbooks.

Faery Crossing

Not into second life.  Nothing about it makes sense to me…why do I want to be in these virtual worlds alone?  I don’t find the “escapism” that it offers very relieving, rather, it just feels weird.  I was approached by two guys at one point and wasn’t sure what to do, whether they were real, what they wanted, what was appropriate…I just walked away.  They were definitely flirting with my avatar.  It was really confusing.  I don’t know how to go to the places that we were invited as a class (yet another confusing aspect of this bizarre game) so I went to some easter egg hunt that I didn’t know how to participate in and also to Faery Land or something and finally to Atlantis…

I don’t know how to post pictures to the blog…stay tuned.

Remix Video

When Mark and I met to go over a few ideas we had about the Remix video project, Mark described the idea to piece together movie clips that included dialogue in which the character said the name of the movie.  He showed me what he meant by this, and my skepticism quickly disappeared.  I found myself laughing as Jim Carey ran down the hallway yelling, “CAABBLLEEE GUYYY,” and giving myself a pat on the back for recognizing the characters and lines that Mark showed me.  We pieced the project together and the final product made me feel nostalgic for these classic movies and proud that I felt a connection to each of these films and characters–I knew them.  I think my reaction to this final project has to do with the phenomenon of fan recognition–everyone will give themselves a pat on the back when they recognize a movie line.  The humor in this video comes from the irony of Matt Damon saying “the Departed” and when Christopher Llyod shouts, “Back to the Future!”  This video is a comment on fan culture and the satisfaction of recognition and also the poignant magic of Hollywood.

Emails on the fly

I just want to observe how common it is for people to read emails on their smart phones, decide to respond later from their computer, and never do.  There is a black hole between phone and computer email servers.  This seems to be the newest excuse, equivalent to “it was filtered to my junk folder by accident,” only putting slightly more fault on the flaky correspondent.

USPS 5 Day Service

I’m not sure how I feel about the post office limiting their delivery days to five…one the one hand, this makes sense as a practical money-saving solution, as supposedly “Ending mail delivery on Saturday — when the volume is 17 percent lower than on weekdays — would save $40 billion over the next decade.”  We’ve spoken a bit in class about how with every new wave of technology comes a wave of panic for every other medium, whose life inevitably seems threatened by the powers of the new form.  We spoke a bit about mail when we discussed our paper assignments–will the wedding invitation be replaced by the evite?  I’m willing to bet that there will always be some demand for mail.  The Times points out, “Even with the Internet, Americans will need mail services for packages, legal documents and, yes, letters for years to come.”  Aparantly, the USPS stopped turning a profit after 2006, and now the question is whether or not they should run like a business (ie regulating their own supply based on demand, a model that would suggest a five day delivery plan) or be subsidized.  I’d like to think that a five day delivery service would not be the beginning of the end for USPS, but rather, a transformative and life-saving step, even one that would signify that the relevance of this industry is not threatened, just slightly more limited.

Chat Roulette

I am trying to respond to Professor Mittell’s question about Chat Roulette, and just went to post my reply and it was lost somehow…one of those times when “technology” is not a time-saver.

My point was twofold, first, I don’t think that Chat Roulette will be nearly as popular next year as it is now.   If we look at sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace as models for sustainable social networking sites, they all offer something like the oportunity to share information, join groups, sustain or build relationships, etc.  Chat Roulette doesn’t offer its users the oportunity to do any of that, and I also don’t see much room for the site to be used for any purpose outside of its original design/intention, which is to provide a way for strangers to have momentary online interactions.

I do, think, however, that the site responds to teen culture in a way that is worth examining.  Boyd makes the point that teenagers are often restricted by transportation issues, curfews, and the drinking age, and have little opportunity to “hang out” in public without facing these restrictions.  Boyd says, “Youth have very little access to public spaces.  The spaces they can hang out in are heavily controlled and/or under surveillance.”  Chat Roulette is a perfect example of a public “space” that is not restricted by adult involvement.  Kids can easily access this space, and once they are there, they can have unregulated social interactions, which is a rare opportunity for today’s youth.  I wonder how the generation who becomes used to this kind of social interaction will respond to “live” interactions once they reach adulthood and are relieved from the restrictions that caused them to take advantage of these digital social experiences.

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