Archive for February 13th, 2008

Pandora’s Box

Living up to a procrastination habit more detrimental than my caffeine addiction, I sidled up to my computer in mid-November to finish a paper that should have be turned in 12 hours and 800 miles ago. Slipping on headphones, I immediately logged onto Pandora.com for a soundtrack to my typing. A website that markets itself as “the music genome project,” Pandora takes a certain band or song that you enter and formulates a personalized radio station by dissecting the tonal qualities typical of that artist or tune. Genius? Yes. Obsessing? To a dangerous degree.
So as I am rocking out to inoffensive chamber-pop, I stop in mid keystroke and Hamlet is suddenly on hold. Opening up the minimized window, I discover that the heavenly, albeit slightly congested whine that has caused bopping from my snow boots to my unwashed hair belongs to Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Yes, another absurdly named band that I have never heard of! Elizabethean drama forgotten, I immediately turn to the purveyor of more useless knowledge than Alex Trebek: Google. Bringing up their Myspace page, I click on their download-able songs, and transfer them quickly onto to my Itunes. Figuring that their diversion from my paper is worth at least five dollars, I also purchase some tracks from Itunes, because one cannot eat on street-cred alone. Back to their MySpace page, I click on tours and realize that they are playing in Philadelphia tomorrow night. Signing into AIM, I message my friend at the Art Institute who drives down to South Street to get tickets. Before giving my over-heated, out-dated, yet ever-faithful laptop a well-deserved hibernation, I hook-up my iPod and transfer the tracks for easy transportation under a new playlist that will make the rush-hour traffic drive out-of-town if not enjoyable, at least bearable.
Packing up my Norton Shakespeare, the tangibility of the book made me realize that despite the quick transfer of knowledge, I still miss the personal feel of CD booklet and the defined artwork of an album cover.
It’s true that we’ve opened a box that we can’t replace the lid on and maybe we have sacrificed a bit of intimacy, but isn’t music, and literature for that matter, the most powerful when it is expressed differently and innovatively–distribution methods included? Besides, I’m sure Willy Shakes totally would have had a myspace too.

Techno-Bios Melissa Marshall 13 Feb 2008 3 Comments

Ernest’s Techno-Bio

Hey all,

I have been enamored with computers from an early age. My dad brought home a used PC when I was ten. In those days, I primarily played around with flight sims and Doom. I began to use AOL’s instant messenger in middle school. Even at that point, I understood how important this technology was for my social life.
I bought my first “real” stereo during my freshmen year at high school. I collected CD’s until I realized that music could be obtained for free on the internet. After this epiphany, I began to sink into various internet subcultures. I got involved with a unix community and finally bought a Mac. I’v been a Macintosh-purist since.
I became a computer science major after taking CSCI 101. I enjoy programming and am proficient with Java, C, C++, Lisp, Logo, XHTML. I’m currently learning to use Ruby on Rails in my Software Development class. Currently, I tutor CSCI 101.
Last year, I started to study Sociology. It became obvious that the Internet exerted a tremendous amount of social control. I argue that decreased interest in voluntary community organizations is symptomatic of the pace of this American society. Social networking web-sites are growing at an accelerating pace. MMO’s are being played by a huge cross-section of Americans. I believe that the internet will play an increasingly definitive role in the shifting topography of American society.

Ernest

Techno-Bios Ernest Russell 13 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Techno-Bio

International phone cards had become almost daily purchases by my second week away from home. Any semblances of normalcy were interrupted by a pitiless female voice droning, “one minute remaining.” Hurried goodbyes gave way to silent waiting while precious seconds wasted away. There was no playful tag-teaming to decide who should hang up first. There was only the hurry to end properly and then the waiting, before being cut off once more.

One day after answering my phone, I was greeted by a familiar lull, a familiar kind of waiting.

“There’s a delay.”

My father shouted this as though he would, by his own power, make himself be heard across the ocean and deep into this continent. There was a delay. A three second delay that often involved the vocal equivalent to a twelve-car pile up on a freeway. Regardless of the delay and the fact that I developed a kindred but vile echo, the Yap Jack made calling Montego Bay less expensive and a lot more fun (…in retrospect). My family and I had to learn the rhythm of this new technology and after mastering it we had many long and meaningful conversations deftly negotiated through dissonant echoes and 3 second rests. Though we seldom even think of it now (we use Netstream Global Voiceline), the Yap Jack allowed my family the invaluable opportunity to stay in touch from a distance and shortened the goodbye wait to 3 seconds.

Class business Robyn Whyte 13 Feb 2008 5 Comments

Evan’s Techno-Bio

I am not a “tech-head” or technologically- savvy to say the least. I am interested in visual communication and how new technological advances affect contemporary society. I enjoy studying how images and different media communicate. Growing up, I was the little kid analyzing cereal boxes. I wasn’t just playing the games on the backside of the box but looking at the use of font, color and overall composition to see how an image works. Recently, I have been interested in graphic design, layout, marketing and publication work.

The media technology that has impacted me the most would probably be the digital camera. I have always been fascinated by photography and have been shooting and developing my own photographs since middle school. In the beginning, I resisted using digital cameras but since then, I have crossed over into digital realm. The accuracy and immediacy of digital photography has opened up the medium to various usages that the traditional camera could not. When I worked at ABC Inc. this past summer, I realized the impact of digital photography on the entertainment and marketing/advertising worlds. For the LOST promotions shoot, photographers photographed models while editors digitally imported the actors’ heads into the shot. Through programs such as Photoshop, the photographic image and concept has drastically altered with the rise of new digital/technological advancements.

Techno-Bios Evan Akashi 13 Feb 2008 3 Comments

Stephen McCombe’s Techno-Biography

I guess it all started when I was 6 or 7 years old, when my dad and I set up our very first Macintosh computer. Macintosh was our first choice because of my dad’s experience with them in college. Macintosh shipped their computers to colleges before selling to the public, and that’s how we got hooked. I was fascinated with the machine and the big boom sound it made when the power button was pushed. My Mac experience over the years involved playing educational computer games and whatever I could find. With the advancement of technology later on, Apple computers started to grow on me, as well as other hobbies, like photography. Throughout high school, I focused on photography, as well as on computers, but didn’t develop any real skills on any computer software yet. It wasn’t until my year off after high school that I learned about a great program called Photoshop. I took a class in it and learned the basics, and taught myself from there, developing an interest in graphics and image editing. Also, having switched from film to digital photography, I was able to combine both interests into one.From then on, I’ve expanded my horizons and found interests in advertising, marketing and also in film. I’m really interested in pop culture and researching the up-and-coming styles of the younger generation. In doing so I surf the web and check blogs and online magazine sites containing information from the newest sneaker line to the newest remixed song to the newest clothing line sold specifically in a small shop in Brooklyn.So the real reason I’m taking this class is to further my studies in media and it’s impact on everyone around us, specifically focusing on images, what’s hot, and internet networking.

Techno-Bios Stephen McCombe 13 Feb 2008 2 Comments

Ross’s Technobiography

Although I’ve been using computers since before I can remember, it wasn’t until 6th grade or so that computers and media technology became influential in my life. It was then, when my classroom got a flatbed scanner that I realized that the tech had advanced to the point that it could allow me to create art. So I saved up enough money and bought a Mac (a used G3 PowerBook) off of eBay.

Around eighth grade, I abandoned my life long dream of aeronautical engineering for the arts. I can’t draw freehand to save my life, but I can create most anything on the computer, with its plethora of tools from Photoshop to FCP studio, Dreamweaver, Poser, Keynote, the list goes on. And its paid off. For at least 4 years, my summer jobs have centered around my ability to create New Media content, from short films to websites. Without these tools, I would be useless.

Beyond content creation, I receive almost all of my daily content via the web–whether it is reading the Times columnists, watching the Daily Show via iTunes, research…you name the content, I probably access it via the internet now. (Although with my dialup connection back home, its a different story).

Techno-Bios Ross Bell 13 Feb 2008 2 Comments

Podcasting-Brian Sommers

I really like podcasts. They’re typically free from itunes and they cover a wide range of topics. I listen to ESPN’s PTI as a podcast and I get to skip all the commercials. I download Adam Carolla’s radio show whenever I have a long commute, and because of no commercial interruption, it is a great way to pass the time. I also listen to a podcast for learning Japanese. I liked the show so much that last summer I interned with them at their Tokyo office. I got to see all the “behind the scene” effort that goes into making the show. I liked all the different levels of production, ranging from actual recording to all the editing, to the final product. Additionally, the company relied heavily on Web 2.0 technologies such as Skype and Google documents. Both those technologies are free, and because they were free, the small company was able to focus more on producing shows and less on finding ways to communicate.

I also enjoy watching online videos. I always find it surprising that as soon as some sort of “event” happens, say Miss Teen USA’s response about geography, it can blow up on the internet and become even more of a sensation online than it originally was. For example, Janet Jackson’s Superbowl boob-showing incident was made into a big deal because of the media (both in the sense of the “news media” and because of youtube, tivo, and search engines that reproduced the image) made it so easily accessible. Now I for one missed the actual incident when it happened live, and I bet most of the people who were “outraged” by it missed it live too. Ten years ago this would not have been a big deal, but because we have the technology to stop, rewind, and slow-mo everything, CBS go fined something like $500,000. I think about these kind of things a lot.

Techno-Bios Brian Sommers 13 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Kyle’s Images of Media Response

Giving that we are currently witnessing perhaps one the most thrilling and important presidential races in our lifetime (and that’s coming from a guy who until now has never voted or really followed politics), the Macro-level medium questions that Meyrowitz addresses seem very relevant and timely. No more so than the question he raises on p. 63 of how different medium environments might “affect the criteria that are used to evaluate political leaders?” As an Obama supporter, I couldn’t help but notice how a lot of the pundits (both left and right) and so called “objective journalists” deem Obama’s physical presence as his greatest strength. So if he loses this primary or this election, would it really be a stretch to claim that the average american’s reliance on non face-to-face mediums for information about the candidates cost him the presidency? Who knows. I don’t deny that there is some validity in claiming that a speaker’s physical presence not an important quality for a president to have. But perhaps it doesn’t matter what you or I think because it looks like the succesful politician of tomorrow will be someone who is camera friendly and has a well funded blogging unit.

Politics &Reading Responses Kyle Howard 13 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Kyle’s Techno-Bio

I’ve been making short films (8mm, 16mm) and videos since i took an intro video course in the 9th grade. Then I got into photo and who knows maybe I’ll be able turn my true love of crafting images into a career somehow. But until that time comes, I’ve been working as Production Assistant/Personal Assistant, whoring myself for no money to brilliant and talented yet vain and selfish writers, cinematographers, and producers. I’ve had the pleasure (and I mean that sincerely) of going through the freshman hazing on the set of Fox’s 24, the post-production room for HBO’s Band of Brothers, and a couple of low budget hollywood horror flicks. While I’m not a writer nor do I really aspire to be one, I figure I’d include an excerpt from a story I wrote about my near death experience on the set of Sublime, a WB horror flick my mentor/screenwriter Eric Jendersen. Feel free to read it if you have time.

The set looked like the façade of an old art deco hospital building under construction. There was a large shell shaped window in the center and scaffolding in front. A young actor stood on the scaffolding in a bloody hospital gown with what looked like an amputated leg. He kept looking down at the street and then back to the serial killer surgeon who stared at him from behind the large window. Just as he was about to jump, the heroic male nurse came in holding a large blade and tackled the doctor to the ground. A voice called out “cue FX.” Then a mixture fake blood of exploded onto the window. The villain was dead. The director yelled cut and a loud horn sounded for a few seconds. The cameras stopped rolling, the lights turned off, and a small army of grips started moving the light stands around.
A young man in the USC shirt brought me to the nucleus of the large crowd of people. Eric stood near a cluster of television monitors and discussed the scene with the tall, handsomely Jewish director and the fat, pony-tailed cinematographer. I handed Eric the frappuccino. A thick layer of water floated on top. Eric took it from my hand, looked at it briefly, and grimaced at his two colleagues.
“Hmmm, that look like a frappuccino to you Tony?” Eric said to the director.
“Well, it certainly doesn’t look like any delicious creamy frozen beverage I’ve ever seen. What do you think, Dermott?” Tony said to the cinematographer.
The cinematographer grabbed the cup, peeled off the paper wrapper on the end of the straw, and sipped it.
“In my professional opinion, this beverage is neither creamy nor delicious,” Dermott said, and set the drink down on top of a monitor.
The three grinned just enough to express their mutual enjoyment of my humiliation.
“Kyle, meet Dermott Downs, the cinematographer and lighting genius behind CSI Miami.” Eric said, “And the boss man, Tony Krantz, producer of Twenty-Four, first time director, and, in your case, a man you desperately want to impress,” Eric said.
I shook their hands.
“That shot was pretty impressive. I loved the blood,” I said.
“Looks pretty real doesn’t it? And it’s so damn simple – just Crisco oil mixed with red dye and a touch of milk. The fun part is getting to shoot it out of the weapons grade mortar we installed behind the set,” Tony said.
“But don’t you think it would make more sense if the blood squirted instead of exploded onto the window?”
The friendly, non-threatening tone in his voice disappeared.
“Shit, Eric, looks like you’ve got a hot shot on your hands…a real prodigy,” Tony said before he turned towards me. “And no, I don’t think it would look better.”
Tony asked Patrick, the production assistant in the USC shirt, if there were any chores for me to do.
“Dan in make-up asked if his niece could get an autograph from Mr. Johnson,” Patrick said. “I said I would take care of it, but Kyle can easily take her over to the trailers for me.”
Patrick spoke into his radio. A few minutes later an Asian teenager walked up, shook my hand, and introduced herself as Lily. She held a copy of People magazine with a picture of Don Johnson on the cover, under the title Top 20 over 50. Eric raised his eyebrow at me as if to say, “Don’t screw it up,” and waved me off. I opened the door politely for Lily and escorted her out.
“Must be pretty cool having a dad who works around celebs all the time,” I said.
Lily acknowledged that she was pretty lucky but said nothing else. Every so often we would glance over at each other, then quickly shift our eyes down to our feet. Her legs were soft and long and she looked cute in her little khaki shorts. I tried to think of something clever to say, but I kept coming up empty.
When we arrived at the trailers, neither of us had a problem figuring out which one was Johnson’s. Larger than life action shots from Miami Vice covered the windows of the bus. A picture of him on one knee steadying his pistol guarded the door. In the picture he wore Raybans, a gold chain bracelet, a oversized white blazer, and a badge dangling from his neck. I knocked once and waited. An agonizing minute went by and I knocked again. The door opened and Don Johnson stood their twisting a cigar around in his mouth, his shirt completely unbuttoned.
“Hello there, Mr. Johnson. Tony Krantz asked me to introduce you to Lily here. She’s a huge fan of yours,” I said.
“I’ve seen every episode of Miami Vice at least twice,” she said.
“And who are you, exactly?” Don Johnson said to me.
“My name’s Kyle Howard, I’m Eric Jendresen’s new…”
“Fantastic. Good for you. Well, why don’t you come back in a little while…oh and give Tony a nice ‘hello’ for me, can you do that?”
“My pleasure.”
I extended my hand to shake on it but he failed to see it. He ushered the girl inside and closed the door. “What the hell is a nice hello?” I wondered. I lit a cigarette and it glowed brightly between my lips. It hadn’t been more than a minute when a girlish shriek rang out inside the bus. The door burst open. Lily ran out, buttoning up her blouse. She went by so fast that I couldn’t catch up to her. Don Johnson stood in the doorway and stared down at me three feet below on the ground.
“Are you fucking stupid? Your career…done. Your parents’ careers…done. You have a girlfriend? Well you better hope not because I’m going to take her, too!” he yelled.
He slammed the door. A gust of wind extinguished the glowing cigarette tip. My lungs continued to draw in air without even noticing the lack of smoke. It wasn’t hard to figure out that I was screwed. Might as well accept it and move on. I had just stepped up to double-barreling two cigarettes at once when the door to the soundstage opened. The footsteps got louder, then Eric stood over me.
“Even my retarded cousin knows that Don Johnson has the yellow fever!” He shouted.
“You really have a retarded cousin?” I said.

Eric eventually gave me a shot to redeem myself. I’m happy to say I didn’t totally blow it (and that I haven’t needed a cig since).

Techno-Bios Kyle Howard 13 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Sarah Hatfield’s Techno-Bio

When I first learned about how to use the Adobe Creative Suite programs in the summer of 2006, I really became fascinated. I couldn’t believe how advanced programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, Bridge, and Dreamweaver were. I was taking a Graphic Design class at RISD and learned how to edit photographs, how to create images/posters in Illustrator, and how to build a website using HTML in Dreamweaver. In the end, we had to create an advertisement for a kitchen utensil using all of these programs. It opened my eyes up to an area I had never encountered before.

This past Jterm I took a college writing course called ‘contemporary creative nonfiction’. We were expected to blog every day and also to create a multimedia essay through iMovie as a final project. Using iMovie was a good experience for me. I learned how to incorporate image, voice, and music all in one. It was definitely a challenge but I gained a lot from the course.

Techno-Bios Sarah Hatfield 13 Feb 2008 2 Comments

George Altshuler’s Techno-Bio

Not to get too overly self-analytical, but I think media technology has affected me in two pretty profound ways: it has helped me develop the way I think and it has influenced the way I express myself.

My relationship with “new” media technology starts with the math games I played on my family computer way back when–on the kind of computer you had to type all the commands into.

But in order to not bore you, I’ll start with Starcraft. Playing Stracraft online at battle.net taught me how to type. I eventually got the point that I could type as fast as I could think. Beyond being able to call someone a “newb” as fast as I thought it, this gave me the freedom to express myself freely. I would soon begin journaling on a computer and thanks to password-protected documents and the speed at which I typed, I was able to get in touch with the what I was feeling in a way I could not with pen and paper.

But perhaps more importantly, Stracraft changed the way I thought. I remember designing my own map once for a Starcraft game, and interacting with what the game called “triggers.” Dealing with triggers was a very basic introduction to computer programming. At the age of around 11 I remember having this epiphany of “Wow. This is how computers work. You define things. Then you write in a weird language and things happen in your program.” Here’s a look at triggers: triggers

Learning to think in this hyper-logical way with triggers and learning to multi-task and think strategically in the game definitely had an impact on the way I approached the world in general. I would like to think that this was a positive impact.

I was also very influenced by more traditional forms of media technology. I remember staying up late in middle school to listen to love line on the radio or watching Charlie Roselate at night when I was in high school. Both shows expanded my world view (in very different ways obviously) and enabled me to see parts of the world that were outside of my everyday life.

Currently, I believe that the themes of media technology changing the way I think and allowing me to express myself more freely are still very prevalent. George Altshuler's Facebook profile
Facebook, the piece of media technology I probably use the most definitely allows me to express myself in a very unique way. I have also made youtube videos out of some poetry I’ve written (a truly 21st century way of expressing oneself, no?). Finally, reading political blogs and watching various youtube videos has expanded my world view.

Media technology has been decisive in shaping the way I think and express myself. I acknowledge that I am a fish that often has trouble seeing the water he swims in, and I look forward to learning more about this water.

Techno-Bios George Altshuler 13 Feb 2008 2 Comments

Erin’s Techno-biography

For as long as I can remember, every Saturday I would be awoken in the early hours of the morning by the battle cries issuing from my brother’s room. I would jump out of bed and eagerly rush through the kitchen to be able to watch the spectacle. I suppose those were my first experiences with media technology: my brother’s video games. When I started playing them for myself and realized that I was terrible at fighting games, I moved on to RPGs and since then I’ve had a fairly moderate interest in gaming.

When we got our first computer some ten years ago, I was immediately hooked to AOL chatrooms. I spent most of my middle school years online; role-playing, chatting, and lurking. The situation only got worse when I came to college. With my own laptop, a better internet connection, and Facebook, I’ve been completely absorbed into the web. I’m especially interested in Photoshop right now, after browsing Deviantart for so long. I’m slowly, very slowly, learning how to use it, and it’s been an enjoyable albeit frustrating experience.

Techno-Bios Erin Gosselin 13 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Elliot’s Techno-Bio

I’ve always had a close relationship with technology. When I was but a wee child, my sister was always on the computer, creating websites and the like. At one point, she even had money coming in from one of her domains. She taught me a lot about the way computers work. In all of my nerdom, I became instantly hooked on online role playing in chat-rooms, and I’d like to believe that a lot of my creativity and writing ability spawned from those years spent glued to the screen. Good times. I’ve also been an avid gamer for a long time as well. Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Dreamcast, all the current systems: you name it, I’ve played it. My personal favorite games have to be Chrono Trigger (SNES), Final Fantasy VI (SNES), and Half Life 2 (PC). No More Heroes for the Wii is also a standout title for me, despite it being so recent. Final Cut Pro has played a big part in my life recently. It’s an amazing tool for filmmakers, and even after years of using it, I can still find something new about it when I hop on my computer to edit. Love that suite with a passion.

Techno-Bios Elliot 13 Feb 2008 No Comments

Jessie Gurd’s Techno-Biography

I opted for an anecdotal response to this prompt. Just know that I also get my kicks playing adventure games (like Monkey Island, but not Monkey Island… see The Dream of the Turtle), doing thoroughly mediocre graphic design, acting into a mic, and pondering the problems that are coming to light with electronic academic publishing. And collecting old-fashioned hot type.

When I was thirteen, I had a top-rated, top-searched Google site, and as a result, one of the most frequently-accessed play-by-email RPGs on the web of 1999. It wasn’t until a few years later, when my interest in the game was waning due to an extremely prolific writer who favored martyr characters and a dearth of player applications that were up to my (admittedly very high) standards, that I realized how kind of sort of cool, albeit very dorky, my accomplishment was.

I started at twelve with a brand-new yahoo email account and a friend who convinced me to join a similar style of RPG based on our then-favorite book series: Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. As entranced as I was by the world of the books and my new-found ability to participate in it, I found the community of the game easily as captivating. I could email someone twenty years my senior with a proposal to write a post together, and Older Stranger X would acquiesce. I got to practice my creative writing, comprehension of plot dynamics, and character development in a setting of mutual respect and relative freedom. Moreover, a system of rank functioned both in and out of character, and I was actually involved. Hell, I was elected to a position or two, given responsibilities. That’s heady stuff.

So I grabbed a couple of my friends and started my own club/game in a world of my own invention and description. There were maps, bestiaries, ethnicities, landscapes, pantheons, magical and mystical phenomena that were both quotidian and completely out of the ordinary for my little country with three major cities (and thus three major role-playing locations). I came into the venture pretty cold, with little to no knowledge of email distribution lists, HTML, the ins and outs of web hosting, or any of the technical stuff. I didn’t have any of the skills I needed to do what I wanted, so I set about learning them. After a week or so of dedicated research and preparation, I had what was then a well-designed and, eventually, extremely popular website.

Techno-Bios Jessie Gurd 13 Feb 2008 3 Comments

David Ellis’ Techno-biography

There are a couple different ways that media technology has an effect on me today. I would say the major ones are video game consoles and video editing tools like Final Cut Studio. Ever since I was younger my brother and I would continuously get the newest system every Christmas. I think this is why I am so savvy with so many different types of games. My favorite game that I have become addicted to over the past few years is Halo. I have fallen in love with Halo 2 and the most recent Halo 3. The next media that I have become particularly attached to is Final Cut Studio. The more that I use it the more I learn about how much it can do. In Sight and Sound I we were really only taught the basics about how to edit a video. But once I made my first movie this past summer I learned that there was much more to Final Cut than I had learned before.

David

Techno-Bios David Ellis 13 Feb 2008 No Comments

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