Category: 252MC


 

This talk by Michael Wesch really is a fascinating study into the developing online community that is constantly changing and affecting our lives. While I could probably talk about all 55.33 minutes quite happily, I want to focus on the wider concept of the online community and the effect it has had on the basic social constructs of our lives.

While discussing Youtube, Wesch discusses how the most common type of video uploaded to Youtube are home videos. The most famous one, ‘Charlie bit my finger’, has amassed around 669,509,943 views, but most are intended for an audience no larger than 100 or so. Yet they are all gathered on the largest video sharing site on the web. It used to be that the way to share videos with friends and family was to send them a copy of the VHS tape, now we willing post of home movies online where they can be viewed, shared and reinterpreted by any stranger on the planet with access to the internet.

This really is an incredible phenomenon, that has adapted how we interact with people on a daily basis on an irreversible level.  We all have the basic psychological instinct to be part of a group, even if we you are an introvert you will still have at the least a small social group, to be completely cut off from any social contact is usually a sign of mental illness.

The internet has made it so much easier to stay connected with such a larger group of people, and even connect with people you would of otherwise never of had the opportunity to meet. However, in spite of these perceived connections, we are in reality becoming more isolated and less social. How many times have you been with friends and yet all been online at the same time, sometimes even talking over Facebook instead of just looking up from your screen? There is also the increasing popularity of people becoming friends and dating online, even with people they have never laid eyes on.

We are creating superficial social groups that give the perception of us having more friends and connections than we can realistically uphold. Everybody probably has at least one person on Facebook they haven’t spoken to in years and don’t even want to, but you still maintain that technological link.

Dunbars Number is a theoretical limit to the amount of people you can realistically maintain a meaningful and social relationship with. It is usually considered to be around 150. As other people enter that sphere, others get pushed out, and it is considered that being in a relationship can reduce the number of people you can keep in your sphere. And 150 is just grouping everyone together, in reality there are levels of spheres. Around 5 is considered the number of truly close people you will have in your life at any one time and can maintain.

And yet, we have so many more connections online. My house-mate told me about how two of her friends have dated people through Tumblr, and I know other people who have done similar. Yet was it a real relationship? Sure perhaps the feelings were real, but is there any actual meaningful connection with people online who are over the limit of our Dunbar numbers? Or is the internet and social media creating the comforting feeling of togetherness we as a species crave while we become more and more separated as we are lulled into the false sense of security? We call is ‘Social’ Media, but we are sitting in our rooms scrolling through countless opinions of people we will never meet while convincing ourselves that the follower count on our blog is a sign that we are considered worthwhile.

I sound incredibly skeptical, but honestly I’m just being realistic about a world I am happily a part of. When I was young I was perpetually bullied at school and the only companionship I found was with other people my age (though there is always the chance they weren’t) on a forum sharing our Fantasy artwork, talking about Dragons and creating online RPG’s. I am a child of the the social constructs of digital media. And though I now have very lovely and meaningful relationships in real life, I will always be eternally grateful to the safe haven I had with a group of people I will never meet and have completely lost contact with.

So maybe, no matter how superficial the togetherness and internet relationships are that we have online, they are still a fascinating phenomenon that definitely have a place in this world, especially considering that for some people they might be the only safe world they have.

P.S. Michael Wesch’s video ‘The Machine Is Us/ing Us, is really worth a watch.

Bibliography

Michael Wesch . (2008). An anthropological introduction to YouTube.Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

HDCYT. (2007). Charlie Bit My Finger. Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

SparkNotes. (N/A). Groups. Available: http://www.sparknotes.com/psychology/psych101/socialpsychology/section8.rhtml. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Oxford Dictionary. (N/A). Dunbars Number. Available: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/Dunbar’s-number. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Ian Sample. (2010). The price of love? Losing two of your closest friends. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/sep/15/price-love-close-friends-relationship. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

 

Advertisements

Neil Postman’s essay on ‘Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection’ was incredibly interesting and humorous to read, though honestly Postman became pretty pretentious throughout it, and his self awareness of the fact didn’t make him sound any less like a douche (excuse the language). However, the points he was making were relevant to society today. Bullshit runs virtually unchecked throughout the internet and mainstream media, and it has fallen to the viewing populace to be the ones to call people out on it.

Each and every day we are bombarded with the most basic of lies. From magazines throwing unrealistic concepts of beauty down our throat to what Postman refers to as ‘inanity’ bullshit being sold to us as complete unarguable facts from ‘news’ outlets like Fox News and the DailyMail.

What has actually begun to to surface online is people making fun of the bullshit that we are subjected to daily. There is a growing intolerance for the lies we have been expected to just accept for so long, and though it is incredibly slow, I do believe change is, slowly, happening.

As for Postman’s belief that we should ‘find a way to teach this is schools’, I think he is seriously underestimating how sensitive peoples ‘crap-detectors’ are becoming, without making something that you learn through age a compulsory school lesson. I agree with the notion that ‘one man’s bullshit is another man’s catechism’, and that peoples views are incredibly subjective, but what you teach in schools is the ability for people to think for themselves and not be dictated by the beliefs of their family. You teach them to look inwards and make their own decisions by giving them all the information you can, but expecting teachers to be able to teach children how be internally critical when there are some adults who haven’t mastered that skill is putting to much expectation on teachers and not enough on the person themselves to grow the hell up and learn not be a dick.

This is pretty much turning into a rant about how I believe people blame teachers for everything instead of taking responsibility, so I should probably bring it to a close. However, I will end on the note that I do agree with Postman’s definitions of ‘bullshit’, and I definitely believe that none of it is going to disappear. But out ‘crap-detectors’ are evolving along with it, so it’s not a lost fight just yet.

Bibliography 

Neil Postman. (1969). Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection. Available: http://cumoodle.coventry.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=76618. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Carlos Maza. (2014). Fox News Has A Nasty Anti-Gay Hangover.Available: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/02/26/fox-news-has-a-nasty-anti-gay-hangover/198236. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Global Democracy. (2012). Body Evolution – Model Before and After.Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17j5QzF3kqE. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

BuzzFeedYellow. (2013). 18 Photoshop Fails You Have To See.Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hsU4syTXrk. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Russell Howard. (2010). The Daily Mail: ‘Everything Gives You Cancer’ .Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFfWykH05Gw. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Emily Yoffe’s writing about ‘Seeking’ is an interesting scientific and psychological look at how basic instincts controlled by chemical responses in the brain, perceived in both us and animals, have become affected by the freedom we have online.

The internet gives us the ability to achieve instant and constant gratification. We constantly click again and again, sometimes only taking superficial amounts of what is on screen, because we become desperate for the next informative fix.

What we are doing, theorized by Jaak Panksen, is ‘Seeking’. We are not achieving true levels of pleasure from what we are seeing online, but instead reinvigorating the constant need to search and forage. This sentence probably puts it into context best, ‘Some of the human subjects described feeling sexually aroused but didn’t experience climax’. We become caught in a loop of always looking for the next fix of Dopamine in our brains but never actually follow through to full release.

One thing Yoffe’s writing, and Panksen’s studies made me think about, is the constant debate we see about internet pornography, and whether it is having a drastically negative effect on human beings.

The constant access to online pornography is constantly debated as leading to people sexual fantasies becoming warped. While porn addiction is widely speculated and many professionals state there is no evidence for its existence, there is conversation regarding the increasing links that online pornography can cause rape.

While I would like to state that my personal opinions are that a normal, healthy minded, person choosing to watch porn isn’t suddenly going to become a rapist or paedophile, I do believe that (especially when you look at what Panksen states about ‘Seeking’) online pornography can create an environment where someone, who has the possible tendency to become a rapist or paedophile, watched pornography to release sexual tension, but the ability to instantly gratify any fantasy numbs the person and they eventually move onto more ‘hardcore’ pornography for satisfaction … and when that stops working they move onto reenacting there warped fantasies in reality.

This isn’t to say that pornography is to blame for someones behaviour, but there is a terrifying amount of ‘rape porn’ online, and that knowledge makes me feel physically sick.

Emily Rothman says, “Pornography is so widely available now, in the Internet age, it’s naive to think that it isn’t having a profound impact on our culture, including the way we interact with each other.”

During a debate about whether pornography is becoming a public health issue, two people said this,

“What I know about sexual violence and rape, it isn’t about sex—it’s about violence,” Queen said. She doesn’t believe exposure to pornography “makes you do the things you see. It’s perfectly possible to see something and not imitate it.”

Dines said “Advertising has an effect on consumer behaviour—we would all agree on that,” she said. “So does porn that involves violence and abuse. The bigger issue is, how is this imagery constructing men’s sexual identities?”

Ian Watkins, the Lost Prophets singer who was recently sentenced to 35 years in jail for an extreme number of child abuse crimes, apparently (according to a report by the DailyMail, so not really reliable) became warped by extreme online pornography. I, personally, sincerely doubt that pornography turned Watkins into the depraved human being he is now known to be, but the internet did make his sexual fantasies more readily available to him, and could of helped facilitate his desire to go from merely ‘Seeking’, to completing the loop and enacting his desires.

Overall, I think that the concept of ‘Seeking’ spoken about in Yoffe’s essay is a very really chemical reaction in our brain, and though it is widely harmless (except to our productivity perhaps) there are some conversations that need to be had about how our desire for instant gratification could warp our interaction with people in reality, especially regarding pornography and sexual violence.

Why does rape porn even exist? Why is there a need for it? It cannot be denied that so long as pornography showing sexual violence exists, people will continue to facilitate rape culture by believing that it is an ok and natural part of life. And the ability to click on it and watch it and countless other videos like it stimulates the desire to keep ‘Seeking’ and will, in some people, inevitably lead to them wishing to get another fix. Just like the humans and rats in James Olds experiments, they would neglect everything just to get that next buzz. Who is to say that people wouldn’t eventually neglect law and consent to satisfy there personal desires?

 

Bibliography

Jaak Panksepp (2004). Affective Neuroscience. London: Oxford University Press. ..

Emily Yoffe. (August 12th 2009). Seeking – How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous..Available: http://cumoodle.coventry.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=76634. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Paul Bentley. (27 November 2013). The Baptist minister’s stepson warped by online porn: Distraught parents of Ian Watkins say he could be remembered like some ‘sort of Jimmy Savile character’. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2514133/Ian-Watkins-The-Baptist-ministers-stepson-warped-online-porn.html. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Lisa Chedekel . (2012). Is Pornography a Public Health Issue?.Available: http://www.bu.edu/today/2012/is-pornography-a-public-health-issue/. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Kashmira Gander. (2014). Porn addiction isn’t real research suggests.Available: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/porn-addiction-isnt-real-research-suggests-9126530.html. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Multiple. (N/A). Pedophilia. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

We have had a lot of discussions in our Research Groups, these are a comments my group has left on my page WordPress blog. 
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.41.07
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.41.16 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.41.30 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.41.39 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.41.56

I have also connected my Research Groups Websites to my WordPress Blog
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.42.18

We decided to create a Facebook page so we could all talk even while working on our blogs. It was also a good way to share the initial links to our blogs and keep each other up to date on our progress.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.46.00 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.46.23

These are some of the comments I have left on my Groups blogs.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.57.45 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 18.58.29 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 19.02.06 Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 19.07.32

This was me using Kat’s Contact Form that is on her website, so she could see if it was working properly.
1947561_647152345320815_1547306683_n

We have all worked pretty well together as a group, helping each other with problems and discussing ideas. They have been a great amount of help to me this past term.

Plugins

These are the Plugins I have used in my Gallery. I experimented with multiple different plugins, not all of them working out.

For instance, the ‘Video Embed and Thumbnail Generator’ was actually of no use to me because I just linked to the Youtube upload of my video and WordPress embeds the video in to the post for you anyway.
‘Akismet’ is fantastic for keeping out junkmail, and ‘Link Manager’ allows me to connect my website to my Research Groups respective websites.
‘Gif Animation Preview’ was a must for me as one of my photo-sets is 10 separate gifs. The download means the gifs don’t have to be opened on a separate page to be used. You just click on the thumbnail and they pop up like a normal photo and you can flick through them normally.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.39.56
‘NextGEN Gallery’ allows you to create galleries on your blog.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.40.32
You can manage the galleries easily, making changes and uploading photos as you please.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.40.42
You can decide on preview images and add descriptions.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.41.17
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.41.26
This is how my gallery ‘Play’ looks on my WordPress Blog.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.42.21
When you start a new post, all you have to do is go to the bar that has things like ‘bold’ and ‘bullet points’ and select the option at the very end.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.43.04
This allows you to attach your created gallery to a post so it is viewable.
You can also choose a featured image, which is what people see before they click on the post.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 17.43.11

Widgets

For widgets I kept everything relatively similar. I experimented with some, such as ‘Ephemera’, but I didn’t really find them that appealing.

One that I did add in and keep was links, which I have one of currently, titled Digital Media, which has the links to my Research Groups respective Websites.

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 19.04.14

I briefly experimented with editing the appearance of my blog with the Editor option, under ‘Appearances’. However, other than changing the colour of my blog I have kept everything else basically the same.
Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 19.05.51

Artist Research 

There was one primary inspiration for my ‘Rest’ set, and that was videos like these.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDajjGwCyVE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B26asyGKDo

Time lapses are, for me, strangely therapeutic to watch. They make something that would otherwise be rather boring to watch in real time absolutely fascinating.

This resonates with me when I think about how I, myself, ‘rest’. My idea of a truly lazy, restful, day is me being online, scrolling through tumblr, watching videos and shows online and generally things that are absolutely fascinating for me, and completely engrossing, but everyone else would find it awfully mind-numbing to watch me do it.

And, so I decided to do a time-lapse video of me doing just that.

Production Research and Execution 

I booked out a Canon 5D mark II for this video, and luckily, thanks to my first year of university, had at least a vague grasp on what I needed to do with it to create a video.

I recorded myself from multiple different areas of my room, creating a basic storyboard of how I wanted the images to go from being brighter to darker and lead from me being at my desk and moving around with my laptop to being in bed.

I also recorded my actual screen, showing me scrolling through tumblr and watching videos.

I chose the music for the video based on how connected I am to the internet constantly. I picked Lindsey Sterlings ‘Crystallize’

Lindsey Sterling has become incredibly popular through Youtube, and connects with her fans through the internet. She has amassed a large online following through this method, so I thought it would be apt to use her music for my video.

I edited the video in Adobe Premier Pro, which was difficult for me at first because I hadn’t used it in so long. Luckily my idea was relatively straight forward so didn’t actually require to much complicated editing.

I did use a couple of online videos to help me:

I think my video definitely does what I want it to do. I wanted it to show the constant connection we have with being online and how we feel we are doing ‘things’ when, in reality, we are basically acting like a zombie staring at a screen.

Artist Research 

For Play, I looked at photographer Robbie Cooper for a second time, however, on this occasion, I was looking at his work ‘Alter-egos’.

Robbie Cooper places photographs of people in their real life next to images of there game alter-ego/ character. We get an insight into the life of that person and also a hint at their likes and preferences based around what game and Online Avatar they have chosen/ created.

This piece of work by Robbie Cooper has always been something I have loved. I think it is a fantastic look at the connection between ourselves and our habits online when it comes to personal enjoyment.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 15.47.02 Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 15.47.53

However, I didn’t want to just recreate Coopers idea, though the concept has greatly influenced me.

So, I began researching other artists, and became drawn back to someone I had discovered years ago back in Secondary School, Joshua Hoffine.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 16.47.22 Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 16.47.32 Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 16.47.41Joshua Hoffine’s work, to me, shows nightmares leaking into reality. I adore this project, and love the thought of applying some of the basic concepts of the idea to my own work.

And so, my idea developed. I am a massive gamer, and definitely wanted to focus on that part of my ‘play’ life.

Production 

The photographs I took for this project look rather silly unedited, and others look incredibly dull, because my plan developed into me photoshopping parts of the games I was playing into my reality.

I wanted to show a physical representation of how immersed and attached you become in the games you are playing.

So, I started collecting images of important ‘tokens’ from the games I play, with the intention of editing them into my reality in some way.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 17.41.22

I then began the photoshop process. Some of them were relatively simple, but some took a long time to get looking ‘right’.

I didn’t mind if they didn’t look perfect, I wanted them to look more fun than amazingly crisp edits that are indistinguishable from reality.

Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 19.52.54 Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 19.53.09 Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 19.53.24 Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 19.53.59 Screen Shot 2014-02-25 at 20.03.11

Overall, I am incredibly proud of my edits. I think they are fun and properly represent what I wanted them to.

Artist Research
I looked at multiple different artists for my photo-set Work.

I looked at artists Robbie Cooper (Immersion) and Philip Toledano (Gamers).

I was primarily focusing on their chosen lighting for the images. Both photographers use the light from the screen, which creates this dynamic reality where the subject is being drawn into the light of the screen, while everything else is inconsequential to their reality.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 15.04.57 Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 15.03.47

I liked the idea of showing the repetition and obsessive nature we develop while attached to the digital world, and how dependant we have become on digital products when it comes to our work.

With that in mind, I looked at the video created by Noah Kalina

The only mild changes in appearance and lighting, with a constant repetition create the feeling of obsession, something which I, and i’m sure many others, feel when working with the digital world.

The digital world is a fantastic tool that has become irreplaceable. We have become dependant and repeat the same motions with our digital products again and again while feeling accomplished for how much we are achieving when, from an outside eye, we look rather gormless and enveloped in a digital reality.

Having finished my research, I came to the conclusion to create gifs to represent the concepts I was trying to conceptualise.

Production Research and Execution 

I researched multiple different ways to create gifs online, including finding website that offered to do most of it for you with just a simple upload of a video clip (https://imgflip.com/gifgenerator).

However, I eventually came to the conclusion that I wanted to make my gif from images, so researched, and discovered, videos telling me how to do so. It is, in fact, and incredibly simple process which I really enjoyed.

With my production research being very fruitful, I endeavoured to take between 18-20 images for each gif set. I set up my camera in my room on a tripod, and set it to a ten second timer and a setting that meant it would take 10 continuous photos at a time.

lighting diagram WORK 1 lighting diagram WORK 2

Sadly my camera doesn’t have the option to take 20 continuous images, as I had to get up to press the button on the camera to take the next set of ten for the gif, and try to get back into a position that was close to the one I was previously in, as to not break the flow of the gif. It made taken the images troublesome, however, I succeeded in doing so and was able to very easily put together my ten gifs in photoshop.

For some I kept the light on, and for others I kept the light off and only had the light of the camera in the gifs. This is so I can create a kind of narrative in my images, showing how the world slowly falls away and I become encased in my, digital reality based, work.

Virtual Reality is something that I love the idea of. As a Sci-fi fan I have always been interested in the idea of virtual reality. And we are coming closer and closer to it. However, moving past Star Treks Holodecks, many people have also looked at the possibility and how it could have everlasting effects on humanity and how we interact with each other.

Here is a list of movies that all feature the concept of Virtual Reality: http://www.allmovie.com/characteristic/theme/virtual-reality-d573

One on here I really want to talk about, primarily because it is considered one of MANY, MANY movies the Matrix was influenced by, is Existenz.

Existenz’s whole premise is that you have no idea whether you are still in the game, or actually in reality. The Virtual reality is so real that you can’t differentiate between it and real life, which leads to dramatic consequences.

We are constantly trying to improve virtual reality, particularly for video-games, but could making something as violent as Grand Theft Auto so realistic and immersive cause people to become warped and begin to reenact the games events in reality, or even believe they are still in the game so damn all consequences to hell?

(I would like to make incredibly clear at this point, that I believe that the notion of Video Games causing violence in people to be absolute stupidity, but that is a rant that would completely take me off topic so will be avoided in this post. What I will say is, if you are stupid enough to ignore the 18+ warning on a video game and give it to a 12 year old, and then blame the game that was not intended for his young, still in formative years, brain, for any behaviour he shows that could be considered influenced by said game, then perhaps you shouldn’t of been allowed to create a child)

The 2009 film Surrogates (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0986263/) deals to an extent with Virtual reality but in a different format.

Surrogates is:

‘Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others’ surrogates.’

The movie basically comes to the conclusion at the end that (spoilers) humanities lack of real interaction was a negative step to far, and that we had become overly immersed in the use of robots that we neglected our real bodies.

Surrogates is similar to an Anime series and movie called Ghost In the Shell (the series is amazing, the movies are a little weird) which also happens to be another series/ movie that The Matrix was heavily influenced by (seriously, what wasn’t the Matrix influenced by?)

Ghost In the Shell also has people living through robot bodies, except they actually have there brain/ consciousness transferred into the body. There is no real body on the other end controlling the robot, the person is the robot. There is the option for them to keep a real body and could control a robot wirelessly probably, but it’s not commonly done. What we see in Ghost In the Shell is a level of separation between people with Cyber Bodies and those who have chosen to remain human. There is not massive amount of discrimination but there are undertones of it under the surface, and there are references to religions that don’t allow the use of cybernetics (not even partial cybernetics). It also opened the door to an entirely new kind of criminal activity that had to be combatted in different ways. Cyber Terrorism became an everyday occurrence (though that part we really are closer to in this day and age)

If we did develop to the point of having purely cybernetic bodies, would it be reserved only for people who could afford it? At which point, would we live in a awfully classist society where if you didn’t have a superior Cybernetic body, you were at the bottom of the pecking order for all things, like jobs, partners etc.?

It’s basically the concept of futuristic Eugenics.

252MC: Dreamweaver Work 4

Adding a Gallery 

Adding a gallery was incredibly easy actually. I wanted a gallery that would scroll to the right, so all I did was create a Div Tag (called sidescroll) that was the height of my images (500px) and then made it about 3370px long. This fit all of my images in perfectly with a small space between each of them
Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.30.14
I didn’t even have to create a separate Div Tag for each image. All I had to do was insert them into the sidescroll divtag and they fit in perfectly next to each other.
Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.30.31
This is how my first created gallery ‘Work’ looks in Google Chrome preview. Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.30.43