Category Archives: Week Six

Article Reflection

In the article “Video games, emotion and the sixth senses”, Eugenie Shinkle writes about the emotional and metaphysical effects video games have on us when we play them. A video game is a medium much unlike others. Whereas most content mediums are static (we simply view them and consume content), video games are dynamic and allow us to interact with them. Not only are we consuming content, we’re directly involved with the content. We can make choices and decisions that could also affect what direction the content will take.

The player of the game can make an emotional bond to the storyline and characters from the method of interactive content consumption. Technically, they are not playing a character, they are the character. When the character walks forward it’s the player who made that decision. The character, or avatar, becomes simply an extension of themselves; a virtual representation of their mental state. This is essentially new territory for the human mind to explore, as there really hasn’t been a time in history where we could have a nonphysical representation of ourselves. Using these characters we can explore our own feelings and emotions in a setting and story that may not exist in the physical world, which can slightly alter the neurological connections between different parts of our brains. We can be sitting on a couch, unmoving, yet have the same emotional experience in an adventure game as a human once did when hunting animals for their survival. We can have the same feelings as someone who’s being chased by an axe murder, although we don’t have to leave the comfort of our own homes. In this way, as Skinkle goes on to say, when we play video games we use fundamental parts of our brain in different ways, leading to an even further emotional connection and immersion within the game.

Skinkle also questions whether the classic controller is the best way to play these games. Some would argue that a more interactive controller, such as the Wii controller or Playstation Eye can further immerse people into their games and feel a deeper connection, as they are doing physical actions rather than just pushing buttons. Others argue that it doesn’t really matter at all, because the physical actions don’t necessarily translate to the same actions that would be done in real life. In Wii Sports, the action people use to bowl isn’t the same as the one in a real bowling alley. It’s a sort of simplified version of the real thing, which could lead to the opposite of immersion in the game. Whichever way a game is played doesn’t change the fact that video games have now become a huge part of consumer media and have inspired much innovation in the field of human-computer interactivity.

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New Media Innovators

Group: Saria Sawaf (Vivaldi, Cage, Kutiman), Ian Smyth (Glennie, Levin, Gibbons, Shakar, Sohrawardy), Cristian Medeiros (Whiteacre)

Vivaldi: Vivaldi is a creative musician. He is a mastermind when it comes to music. He has created many of the world’s most well known musical pieces today. Does that make him a new media artist? I don’t think it does. New media artists create something new and innovative. They create something progressive and notably more radical than anything created before. Regardless of this, the fact remains that Vivaldi is a genius musician, but that does not make him a new media artist simply because music is essentially the product of the mind and had existed long before Vivaldi existed.

Source:

Vivaldi, Antonio. “Vivaldi – Four Seasons (Winter).” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 18 Jan. 2010. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

John Cage: John Cage could be categorized as a new media artist because of the manner in which his musical notes are presented to us. The use of keyboard and Violin mixed together in his “Thirteen harmonies” piece sounds so progressive and new to anything before his time. Previously, artists intended on playing very sophisticated pieces. John Cage’s musical pieces are sophisticated yet simple. At the same time they display a certain sense of musical modernism shown by the way the instruments are played together.

Source: A source could not be made for this artist because his video was taken down from YouTube.

Kutiman: This artist came up with a new and rather interesting way of combining Youtube videos together to create an interesting composition. As innovative as this idea seems, I personally don’t see the new media aspect in it. Yes, this artist did come up with an idea of compiling Youtube videos to create a noteworthy harmonious piece, but he didn’t actually create the Youtube videos, thus this leads us to the question of originality and authenticity. This doesn’t make him a new media artist at all, it just displays his ability to use a computer program to mix videos together. I don’t consider him a professional from this video.

Source:

kutiman. “Kutiman-Thru-you – 01 – Mother of All Funk Chords.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 07 Mar. 2009. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Evelyn Glennie: Evelyn Glennie is quite the extraordinary person. Being deaf since the age of twelve, Evelyn has learnt how to hear through feelings in her body. Before she became deaf, she realized where in her body different types of music touched her and carried that feeling into her disability. Her philosophy is that music, more specifically sound, is our daily, natural medicine. Anyone, no matter what disability they have, can experience sound waves through their body and feel when the type of sound changes. As inspirational and intriguing her approach to life is, nothing about her makes her a new media artist. She is an artist, yes, as she plays music professional, but she’s not a new media artist. She isn’t using new technologies or innovative practices to play music and further her career, she’s someone who’s just learnt how to feel sound although she’s deaf.

Source:

TED. “Evelyn Glennie: How to truly listen.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 14 May. 2007. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Mabe, Catherine. “Evelyn Glennie, Solo Percussionist, Is Profoundly Deaf.” Disaboom. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. http://www.disaboom.com/music/evelyn-glennie-solo-percussionist-is-profoundly-deaf.

Golan Levin,  Scott Gibbons, Gregory Shakar, Yasmin Sohrawardy:

Dialtones (A Telesymphony) is an orchestra designed by Golan Levin, Scott Gibbons, Gregory Shakar, Yasmin Sohrawardy, and others. The idea is quite interesting. The group has the audience sign up their cell phones in advance, which then have specific ringtones sent to them. The audience is then assigned certain seating. What follows is absolutely new media art. The band on the stage uses a special type of software to call up to sixty phones at once, which all have their newly assigned ringtones. The phones ring and togther create a digital music symphony, which can best be described as eerily beautiful. The feeling I got from watching the video was one of a digital community and the sound was digitally beautiful. This is new media art; the group on stage had to first come up with the idea than research how to do it, as well as use different technologies to bring it together. This is by no case an easy feat and is truly commendable.

Source:

“Dialtones (A Telesymphony).” Flong. N.p., 2001. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. http://www.flong.com/projects/telesymphony.

Eric Whiteacre: Eric Whiteacre is a new media innovator because he found a way to create music with an orchestra that was not all in the same room at the same time. He was able to use social media sights and modern technology to combine the videos of thousands of people around the world who all were singing one part and when he put them together it was as if they were all in the same room together. He was able to showcase what is possible in today’s world and with the technology that is available to us. He created an online orchestra that used Skype in order to record videos of people singing. Its creating a situation that is normally only possible if everyone who is a  part of it is together with each other, but with this he made that possible by having them no where near each other. He is an innovator because he was able to spread such an amazing thing such as music all around the world with the participation of so many different people.

Source:

Whiteacre, Eric. “Eric Whiteacre’s Virtual Choir – ‘Lux Aurumque’.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 21 Mar. 2010. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Conclusion:

From researching all these different artists, to answer the question as to whether they can be considered “new media artists” has brought an interesting conclusion to my mind. Either the definition “new media artist” can encompass anyone who can open a computer and mix together videos to people who run an entire symphony based off of people’s ringtones, or “new media artist” has to have a specific definition. I, for one, choose the latter to happen.

I want “new media artist” to have a specific definition. I want it to be something that’s hard to have oneself defined as. I don’t want someone like Kutiman to be defined as a new media artist because, as interesting as his video was, it was amateur and not difficult to accomplish. People like those in the Telesymphony or even John Cage should be regarded as new media artists, because they are bringing not only a big change to at least one medium, but they also have a sense of professionalism that solidifies themselves as being new media artists. Others on that list I would consider artists of their medium, but not new media artists. Then there’s those like Kutiman, that I wouldn’t consider an artist at all.

I think a true new media artist is someone who not only does innovative work within their medium, challenging the status quo, but someone who also brings a sense of professionalism to their work.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Group: Cristian Medeiros (1, 2, 3), Alejandro Flores (4, 5), Saria Sawaf (6, 7, 8), Ian Smyth (9, 10, 11)

1. How do search engines index webpages?

Search engines optimize their searches by looking for key words that are used in the webpages or articles being looked up. It then takes ones that have the most matching key words to show up first when searching.

2. Do IP address affect search engine ranking? Why/How?

Yes it does because certain ip addresses can enable you to figure out whether the cite is credible or not. For example if a cite is .edu or .gov, you can be certain that the information is credible and it helps with “crap detection”.

3. Are keywords important for SEO? Why/How?

Yes they are because they help search engine index what comes up when something is searched up. Key words can help a post become recognized and easier to find for someone searching for a specific key word when searching. If you do not have key words, a post of web page can be hard to find.

4. How can you optimize html tags for SEO?

HTML tags can be optimized for SEO, unlike meta tags, which they enter in the HTML tag realm, they are the ones that structure the whole site. The order of these is incredibly crucial since without the specific order, then the site would not be as efficient as it can be. The order for these HTML tags  should be:

0- document name
1- doctype (DTD) – <!DOCTYPE html>
2- html
3- head
4- title
5- meta name (description)
6- meta name (keywords)
7- meta name (robots)
8- body
9- heading 1 (h1)

Source:

“Website Promotion / SEOwork @.”
Website Promotion . Tombolton.net. 25 Oct. 2013 <http://www.tombolton.net/website_promotion_html_tags_seo.html>.

“Set up Your Meta Description Tag.”
SEO Tutorial. Words in a Row, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

5. Can you use meta tags for search optimization, why/how?

Yes you can use meta tags for search engine optimization, but it will be making very little difference if you do or do not. This is because in the past, meta tags were abused to mislead search engines to porn sites using specific words like disney and pokemon. These helped a site to get popularity every time a kid accessed those searches and unwillingly exposed to such content.  The only use meta tags can be used for is that when your site is spotted, it will help the user to easily guide herself/himself through the description placed in said tags. The only two meta tags that help are the “<title></title>”, which serves as a word reference for keywords in a search engine, and the “<meta name=”description” content=””>” which serves a description of what the site is about.

To use the meta tags, there is special coding for them that calls them from the database. Just because it is special, doesn’t mean it is difficult, so to access  these tags, on the coding part after the closing title tag (</title>) the programmer can input the tag: <meta>. The problem is that this tag cannot be used alone, and it needs parameters like name or keywords in order to function (<meta name=”description”… or <meta name=”keywords” followed by …content=”(input information here)”>

The description will display in the search engine when the link to the site is listed, and the keywords portion of the code refer to the words that can be used to help bring the site up some ranks. Unfortunately, like said earlier, the search engine no longer prioritizes meta tags but the title and content of the site itself, so it is good to use meta tags for organization purposes.

Sources:

“SEO Tutorial – Meta Tags Optimization.”
Search Engine Optimization SEO Tutorial SEO Tutorial Meta Tags Optimization Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.
http://www.seo-gold.com/seo-tutorial/meta-tags-optimization

“Set up Your Meta Description Tag.”
SEO Tutorial. Words in a Row, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. http://www.wordsinarow.com/seo.html#metadesc

6. Alt attribute:

The Alt Attribute is an html element of an image where you can place text to describe the image, and it’s known as “alternative text”. Images cannot be “read” by search engines, so placing alternative text, or “Alt Text” within the Alt Attribute of an image gives search robots actual html code that can be “read” and indexed. This makes using Alt Text a potentially powerful SEO tool. Simply by using keywords and adding tags to the blog post describing the image can allow search engines to identify the text in the image thus leading to a more significantly effective search.

Sources:

http://www.boogiejack.com/html-help/html-help-alt-seo.html

http://thesimpleseo.com/seo-blog/alt-text-optimization-for-seo/

7. Title attribute:

Title attribute is when a little bit of coding is used in order to provide the reader with additional information about the HTML link that the user hovers their mouse over. Some common html elements include abbreviation elements, which look somewhat, like this:

<abbr title=”Incorporated”>Inc.</abbr>

This is used when some readers are unaware of what the text actually stands for.

Other common elements are also acronym, area, button, and cite. The title attribute improves the accessibility and usability of your blogs, thus appealing to the SEO of the blog as a whole.

Source:

http://www.webpagemistakes.ca/title-attribute/

8. Robots. Txt

Robot. Txt files inform search engines on how to interact with your blog’s content. It helps the search engines tell what is useful to preview on public pages and what is not. If used properly it is a very good tool for search optimization, if not then it may stop the search spiders from entering the websites and indexing the sites properly, thus search results will consequently be more difficult to find.

Source:

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2064412/Proper-SEO-and-the-Robots.txt-File

9. There are a few big steps to take to optimize a blog for searching.

a) Attach relevant keywords. The way Google searches for things works in a type of cyclical motion. If “SEO tips” is searched, it will also look for tags under related phrases, such as “SEO techniques” and “SEO tools”. Attach tags to the blog that are not only relevant to the content of the blog (the ones the audience will be using to search it), but also tags similar to those tags. Use as much detailed information as possible.

b) Use meta titles if you can. A lot of websites give the option to use what’s known as a “meta title”, which are a few keywords search engines will basically look at first. However, with updated indexing, meta titles aren’t used by Google anymore. Some search engines might still try and find meta titles however, so use them if you can. For instance, on Apple’s website their meta titles might be: “Apple Website”, “Official Website”, “Apple Products”, which pushes the Apple website to the front of search results.

c) Optimize the URL. Include keywords within the URL, as the search engine will look for that too. This is particularly important when trying to find a certain post or topic within a blog. If the URL contains that information it will be easier for the search engine to index it. For instance, don’t make your URL “mywebsite.com/16754/post2”, make it “mywebsite.com/university/adapting-to-university-life”.

Source:

Lodico, Jim. “6 Ways to Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines.” Social Media Examiner. N.p., 22 Oct. 2010. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/6-ways-to-optimize-your-blog-for-search-engines/&gt;.

10. Search engine optimization for a mobile phone is a bit different from that of desktop browsers. Typically, the way the device looks for content can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, based off the operating system. This really can’t be avoided, but a good SEO job can still be done. An important first step is to create a new CSS sheet, usually called “handheld.css” (or “iphone.css” for apple) and streamline the websites content and layout for mobile viewers. This can help search engines look for more specific information. As well, continue to attach relevant tags to the website.

You can also work with the code to have the search engines on mobile phones look at the mobile site first. This is important, as they will index information that’s meant to be seen for a mobile device. If you don’t want your desktop website to show up, this is an important feature. The main issue with mobile SEO is that often the visual aesthetic of having a mobile website can hinder the search results for a website, as the mobile site is usually streamlined and with information stored in a different way. However, I’d argue that it’s more important to have a better mobile website than better SEO, considering that if someone was looking for topics on a phone that could lead to your website, it’s more important to have them not frustrated when they get there than to get to one of the first results but be unable to use it.

Also, with the introduction of Google Chrome for Android and a radically updated Safari in iOS 7, mobile search engines today are pretty much just as good as the desktop equivalent and in a lot of ways better, as innovation for mobile devices is moving more quickly than innovation for desktops. The main focus for a lot of companies that sell both desktop and mobile devices are to pay attention to mobile development, which is the inclining brand as desktops decline.

Source:

Krum, Cindy. “The New Mobile SEO: What You Need to Know.” Search Engine Land. N.p., 15 Apr. 2010. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://searchengineland.com/the-new-mobile-seo-what-you-need-to-know-40101&gt;.

11. Twitter does use SEO, but in a different way. Search Engine Optimization is quite a broad term in today’s online world of websites, blogs, and social media portals. Traditionally, website’s search engine optimization revolves around tags and meta titles and the URL. However, moving into the realm of social media, things become different. That’s because there isn’t an option to tag in social media, that’s up to the software makers to install. Usually there’s no point to as well, because one doesn’t usually search a post for something in social media on Google or another search engine, they use the social media itself to search.

For instance, if I was looking up content related to “Ryerson” on Twitter, I wouldn’t Google “Ryerson Twitter”. That would yield search results of Ryerson Twitter accounts. Instead I would go onto Twitter and search for it either as a word, or a hashtag. This is Twitter’s way of tagging posts made by users, which can be easily found by anybody.

Here are a few ways to optimize SEO using Twitter:

a) Add your website URL to your bio. This could traffic more people seeing your Twitter to your actual website. Also, people searching for your website could find your Twitter. Never underestimate the power of linking together websites.

b) Update your bio with relevant information. Search engines index this on Twitter, so leaving your bio blank or writing “Yolo for life” really won’t help people find your account. Write keywords that you think people will be typing that would make your account come up.

c) Try to use important keywords in the first 42 characters of a tweet. These are the most indexed characters by search engines and will be responsible for your post showing up on Google. Again, just don’t waste even one word on Twitter. With only 140 characters to use per tweet, the point is every word counts and adds to the overall message. If you wanted to tell a story, use Facebook. Twitter is streamlined, and better for it.

d) Optimizing the content in your tweet pushes your chances of being retweeted higher. If you’re retweeted, your tweet will appear on other people’s profiles, which vastly improves your chance of keywords being noted by search engines.

e) Use hashtags. Hashtags are Twitter’s way of finding content in your posts. Hashtags can also be clicked to lead to posts also using your hashtag, which can include your post. Essentially, just try and make your tweets accessible by the most amount of people as you can, which is the point of Twitter.

Source:

Weir, Kelley. “Improve Your SEO in 2013 with Twitter.” Dex One. N.p., 27 Feb. 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.dexone.com/resources/social-media/improve-your-seo-in-2013-with-twitter&gt;.

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Summary (2nd)

In the article by Lambert Gardiner, the method of having virtual worlds as a medium is explored. Much like the mediums of print, radio, and film, an addition medium is that of “hypermedia”, which is media that is digitally stored and accessed. He goes onto say that traditional media has the viewer visit an alternative reality, hypermedia has the viewer come into a virtual reality, where they can interact with the objects and setting around them.

On a computer, we interact with hypermedia in a basic way. To delete files we put them in the trash can, to play music we use iTunes, etc. We interact with our programs in human ways. On a large scale, hypermedia is a virtual world. This is where the trashcan would become real and we could put deleted items in there ourselves. We could also go as far as to change the actual setting of the virtual world.

This new medium raises an interesting question though; does this make the body obsolete? Do we need to live within our bodies to enjoy a fruitful life, when we can just live our lives through virtual worlds? It’s a question with no clear answer that will only be debated more fervently as virtual worlds and hypermedia become increasingly advanced and woven into our culture.

Source:

Gardiner, Lambert W. “Virtual Reality/Cyberspace: Challenges to Communication Studies.” CBCA. ProQuest, Summer 1993. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://search.proquest.com/cbcacomplete/docview/219600874/14153B348922408B9BD/1?accountid=13631&gt;.

Weekly Presentation

Cyborgs – Cristian (Nov. 29)

Cyborgs are humanoid robots that are part machine, part organic parts. Under a different method of thinking, cyborgs are also any humanoid creature that uses technology as an extension of themselves and their body, which includes us and our use of consumer technology as a commodity. In that sense, we’re cyborgs already.

In fiction, cyborgs are usually represented as a creature that’s part machine part human (Terminator, Robocop) and the applications that arise from such a combination. A researcher put magnets in his fingers and was able to control electromagnetic currents, so when his wife performed the same surgery, they were able to communicate with one another without speaking to each other. He could feel her hand raise. The couple used technology (magnets) as an extension of themselves to perform activities that would be otherwise impossible.

In the world of new media, there are huge applications to this. We could one day create technological art pieces using our minds and controlling things telepathically. The increased use of humanoid technology could help us achieve products (be it art or technology) that we couldn’t before.

Artificial Life (Nov. 22)

Artificial Intelligence – Bram and Raine (Nov. 15)

There are three types of artificial intelligence; symbolic, sub-symbolic, and statistical. Symbolic consists of knowledge taught by humans, and it has millions of triggers that react to different conditions and scenarios. Sub-symbolic uses fuzzy logic to determine the results of decisions by using a structure similar to the human mind. Statistical artificial intelligence is programmed with functions that can analyze data and create its own conclusion (this is the modern type of artificial intelligence).

I think artificial intelligence has huge implications for not only advancements in technology, but implementation in consumer technology. Eventually, when the cost is low enough to develop software for it, I think artificial intelligence will be implemented in our technology in such a way that unifies it. Imagine a smart home; when you walk in the door your AI assistant recognizes it’s you and relays social networking notifications via audio through the house. You can speak to this AI; schedule appointments, record TV shows, make a grocery list, warm the oven up.

AI is used in consumer technology today, albeit very basically. Siri and searching on Google are fantastic examples of the technology, and we’ve already realized how much it’s assisted our lives. As we can build technology to become more aware and intelligent, we could replace human labour with robotics to reduce costs and take people out of hard working situations. There possibilities are endless.

Transmedia – Saria (Nov. 8)

I’m so conflicted about transmedia – I hate it and I love it. Transmedia is the method of telling multiple different stories from a franchise, spawning multiple different mediums. A fantastic example would be the Batman franchise. There are comics, video games, films, and animations that all feature Batman as the main character but have him in a completely different story.

I hate this because of my love for the absolute. When a television show or movie is made with a specific story and that story finishes, I want it to stay that way. For instance; Star Wars. The complete Star Wars series, from episodes one to six were envisioned and created by George Lucas. Lucas is the “god” of the Star Wars universe, without him the Star Wars universe doesn’t have its original vision, which makes it feel betrayed in a way. I don’t want to see Star Wars done by someone else because it’s not Star Wars anymore. There are tons of video games and books written set within the Star Wars universe but telling different stories of events, not by George Lucas. The problem with this is technically none of these stories are “real” within the fictional Star Wars universe, they’re just a professional version of fan fiction. This isn’t the same as a continuation of the original Star Wars stories on other mediums, that’s multimedia. If George Lucas made more Star Wars in comics or books, that would be okay because he’s the one making it. As soon as someone else makes it about a different story though, I don’t like it. I want my original stories to be absolute.

I love Transmedia, though, because it can reach consumers from all types of markets. The comic book reader, the film critic, the television fanatic, the avid reader; they can all enjoy Star Wars and different stories about characters on Star Wars (even though they aren’t done by George Lucas). Technically, it’s still Star Wars, and more people will have access to content from the franchise. Transmedia can also spawn better stories from that franchise. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy is arguably Batman’s best foray into media of any kind, surpassing that of even the original Batman from the very first comic books. Nolan didn’t invent Batman, but he made the best story about Batman. I know this contradicts my earlier statement, but if someone with enough respect and admiration for the original franchise wanted to make their own story it can be okay. More often than not though, it becomes a disgrace to the franchise (“The Bourne Legacy” is a great example of this).

In today’s world, people have access to various mediums on one device. Computers can play movies, television shows, download books, comic books, and animated series. With this availability, it’s no wonder transmedia is so popular; when a consumer likes a franchise, they yearn for more stories set within the universe that can satisfy their cravings. Although the stories may not live up to the original, they can still be good companion pieces to the franchise. In today’s world, a story simple doesn’t stay a story anymore, it becomes an event; transcending all forms of media.

Gaming – Alejandro (Nov. 1)

Gaming is a huge industry in the media and technology world. It’s one of the only mediums that are truly interactive. Instead of just absorbing content, the consumer can interact with the content and influence the direction the content (game) will take. There is no other media form as cognitive as gaming, no other medium that has consumers making split decisions and stimulating their mind as if they were interacting with someone in real life. Therefore, video games are also huge methods of tinkering. Players can become curious and see what impact their in-game decisions will make. Although there’s usually a storyline to follow, a good video game would not be complete without extra areas to explore and things to tinker with. Humans are naturally curious and game developers take that into consideration when building their environments. Who wants to play a game where you have to follow an absolute strict set of rules and not go off the beaten path? Character customizations, weapon/vehicle choice, and interactive characters all create a richer experience for the gamer.

Not only are video games fun but we learn from them greatly. We learn how to think quickly and logically, see the consequences of our actions, and be apart of an environment that promotes creativity and character studying. I think gaming could be applied to learning in schools as well. I’m a strong believer that teaching yourself something is the best way to learn something, as you develop not only an understanding of the content but an understanding of how to learn it. If children could learn certain things through self discovery in video games I think it would benefit them greatly. Science programs could be applied to this, making children more interested in taking up a career in the industry. For instance, there could be an educational game where the child has to build a rocket and fly off Earth. They would go collect the rocket parts, put it together, and angle it in the right way to leave earth. The child would not only have learnt some basic physics but would feel good about it too. There are a lot of possibilities for gaming in education.

Remix Culture – Cristina (Oct. 25)

Remix culture is about mixing together existing products to make new ones. In the modern world many things made are not technically “original” anymore. Most films are not original thematically or archetypically anymore. A group of characters in one film can be easily compared to a group of characters in another film (Heroes and Lost). Likewise, themes and story lines can be compared as well (Pocahontas and Avatar). In today’s media storytelling, artists borrow ideas from other artists all the time. Because of this, these “remix” skills have surfaced amongst artists that bring together unoriginal ideas to create an original product. YouTube is a fantastic example of this, where amateur videographers almost never create their own original songs for their film projects. Instead, they’ve developed the skill of mixing produced songs to create the sound they want to set the tone they want for their film. If they need a setting with a big scope they could also set their actors against a green screen and take the background from another film.

Under the context of new media and technology, there are huge possibilities for remix culture. Wikipedia is a great example of this culture, where people from all over the world come together to add and change information. Blogs and websites are fantastic sources to post content that has been remixed by an artist. Major musicians use remixing in their songs all the time too, called “sampling”, which is taking another song and mixing it with their own. Their new song is technically “original”, but some of the content within that originality is not. In the future, I expect this culture to only keep growing as more people enter various industries and the history of the work of others becomes larger. There will be more pressure to create “new” things, which will be harder to do considering there aren’t a lot “new” things left to cover.

Simulations – Danny (Oct. 11) 

Danny’s presentation was about the use of simulations as real world applications. A ton of different industries are using simulations as apart of their training programs to allow workers to be prepared in their field without having to risk them failing as a novice. What I didn’t realize was how many industries use simulations, and to what extent they use them. First responders have to clock a certain number of hours in simulations to be ready for their days on the field, and pilots have to spend hundreds of hours in a virtual plane before they can even sit in the real thing. Simulated learning is apparently working very well for industry companies, allowing them to save money on training as well as the health of those involved. This relates to new media research in the way that it’s an evolving technology with an impact on the way those in our society are trained for the work force and taught important skills. Simulation learning offers a new way to learn.

Ethnography – Erich (Oct. 4)

I found this topic a little hard to understand. From what I understood in Erich’s presentation as well as a bit of research I did at home, ethnography is the study of human behaviour of a particular culture from the perspective of those being surveyed. This doesn’t only apply to cultures such as past civilizations and the way of living in different parts of the world, but how people live and behave within certain circumstances. For instance, would customers be more inclined to visit a Wind Mobile store if it was closer to a Futureshop or Bestbuy because of the similarities in products? If you had a friend in your calculus class but hate sitting in the front row, where would you sit if he wasn’t there and if he was, would you sit in the front row with him? These are quite random examples but show the vast area of research ethnography can cover. The cultural behaviour of people in different under different circumstances is essential to new media research and attempting to predict which mediums will fade, which mediums will gain interest, and which mediums will be next. In the 1920s film was a medium meant only for people with a less than ideal lifestyle, mostly immigrants who needed cheap entertainment to take their minds off their mindless jobs and less than favourable wages. Film was a “lower-middle class” form of entertainment, but when the culture of urban cities shifted during the second world war, more people of higher class needed entertainment to take their minds off things and film as a medium became increasingly popular.

Social Media – Seif (Sept. 27)

In Seif’s presentation he talked about the sheer scope of social networking and some insight into the effect it’s having on our personal lives. According to his research, “social networking is the number one activity on the web.” That’s absolutely huge, considering the number of people connected at any given second. The use of social networking is beginning to have an effect on our personal lives too, as anything we do that’s digitally captured remains online forever. This is particularly troubling, and as Seif mentions “there is no escaping it.” For anyone who’s read 1984 by George Orwell, the presentation certainly brings to surface Big Brother and the state’s lack of escaping penetrating technology. Although I don’t agree that “there is no escaping it”, Seif does make a good point about how fast social networking is growing and how documented our lives are becoming online. It’s now more important than ever to protect your reputation and learn the skills of self presentation, because now the entire world wide web could be watching.