Category Archives: Week Twelve

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.