Tagged: matthewlew

A Linear View

In my mind, linearity is perfectly described by the standard novel. An index is included to help organize the author’s writing, but it is mostly a single stream of information. Everything is presented in a single way; there is no other way to interact with the text. It is there for the user to read. You would not read a story out of order, and the same goes for linearity. It has to be in order. Lupton mentions Microsoft Power Point as an example. While each slide offers room to present information in an attractive and creative way, ultimately everything must happen in the order that the presenter set things up. That is what linearity is. It is a control over media and writing that commands the user or reader to experience something in a certain way. It is in that regard that the internet and typography has freed humans from the reigns of linearity. Not everyone has to experience something the same way as someone else. When browsing through a webpage, the user has the choice to view exactly what they want to. Their experience will be different from the next person, and it makes creative works far more flexible. I do not think that blogs are completely free of linearity. It is a stepping stone to non-linearity, but it still has several key characteristics that roots it in the common written work. For one, a blog is written in a way that is usually organized by date. It is a stream of information coming from the writer, and in that sense, the user can experience everything in a linear way. However, a blog also has options that allow users to read only the posts that they find interesting. These options create a new experience each time someone views the blog, whereas a book never changes. You read a book, and the experience will always be the same. I think that is essentially what Lupton is getting at with typography; it changes how we look at things.

PCGamer: Good or Bad Writing

One website I frequent is called PCGamer. I go there daily for all of my pc gaming news, and I usually end up reading all of the posts published that day. One thing that I’ve never actually done is analyze the writing of the articles. For me, I think it’s a mix between serious writing and humorous writing. Some articles I find very interesting because the writer includes things like pictures with funny captions. Other times, the writing can be very long, drawn out, and overly expressive. It really depends on the writer in my opinion. These websites all have multiple writers that each bring their own set of skills and styles to the table. I know for a fact that there is one horrendous writer on PCGamer. He writes not to entertain the reader, but to entertain himself. His prose is long, overly complicated, and defiant of grammatical law. It’s good to vary vocabulary, but he does it so frequently that the original message takes multiple google searches to decrypt what is actually there. That is a bad thing. Is it good writing? Perhaps, but not the type of writing suited for the website. I believe diversity is important for a blog or website because otherwise, we would end up reading basically the same writing over and over and over again. Having a variety of voices all bringing you fascinating information is much more entertaining. However, there should be a fine line between varied and just flat out unnatural.

A good writer for a blog should be unique enough to have their own style and voice, but still constrained to the overall style of the blog as a whole. That means if a blog is exceptionally clean and devoid of swears or curse words, one particular writer should not go out of their way to add profanities just to make their writing a little more different. In the case of PCGamer, I feel as though that particular writer should lessen his use of large words and intricate sentence structure. I go there to read about the next big game coming out; I don’t go there to watch a writer bask in his self-indulgent word porn. Overall, I would say PCGamer has exceptionally good writing (for the most part). It’s snappy, informative, varied, and very entertaining to read. The skill level of the writer will vary from article to article, but I definitely feel it is one of the better websites out there.

Adolescents’ Identity Experiments on the Internet

Valkenburg, Patti M.  and Peter, Jochen. “Adolescents’ Identity Experiments on the Internet: Consequences for Social Competence and Self-Concept Unity.” Communication Research. April 2008vol. 35 no. 2 208-231. Mar 9, 2008. Online. Oct 3, 2013. <http://crx.sagepub.com/content/35/2/208.full.pdf+html>

This research was done on teenagers and how the internet affected their sense of social competence. It wasn’t so much about how anonymity affected the user’s decision making, but how the internet in general affected the minds of its users. The study found that adolescents who were more open to experimenting with their online identity were also more likely to reach out to people of other backgrounds. In other words, they were more open to talking with others and were not held back by their inhibitions. This is important in the case of my thesis because it shows how the internet affects certain individuals. The research also found that lonely adolescents experimented more with their online identity, and benefited the most from the research in terms of self-image. The internet blocks out the visual side that would normally come with carrying out a normal conversation, so it makes sense that people are also more likely to branch out and expand their social abilities. How it exactly relates to anonymity is yet to be determined. The article isn’t directly related to my topic, but it still provides interesting information that could be useful later on for proving a point on the psychology behind people taking more risks on the internet.

The Deterioration of Physical Media

Everything is going online now, especially the news. Information is easily thrown around on the internet because it gets as simple as copying and pasting sections of a webpage. Taking things out of context happens in articles, videos, movies, really any media that is commonly used on the internet. What’s wrong with this? The source becomes nonexistent, almost a myth to the common web surfer. This is just with digital media too. The physical world of media is deteriorating faster by the second. Why go out to grab a newspaper when a digital version is published on a website? Articles and newspapers are being stripped of their old “clothing” and dressed up in newer, more accessible garments. Some view this as a catastrophic blow to the old ways of media, but in truth, I find it more of an evolution.

Reading has never been easier. Anything you could possibly want to read about is out there on the internet. Archives are easy to access, making research a breeze. No longer is it necessary for people to do hours upon hours of searching in a library for a single article that would help their case. The digitization of media is great in so many different aspects. What people really miss is the nostalgia of past media. Reading a newspaper on a lazy Sunday afternoon was an American dream. It’s something that is romanticized by the older generation. To go and touch the texture of the newspaper; to the older generation, that is what it was all about. It was about feeling the physical object right there in your hands. Lauren DiCioccio expresses this nostalgia in her various paintings. She mimics the layouts and designs of newspaper and magazine articles, except she replaces words with colorful dots. It’s a reminder of what media used to be, and how everything changes over time. That is what evolution does. It changes people, animals, even media. Newspapers used to be a center for information, but now, even artists can go and turn the layout into a painting. It goes to show how easy it is for the media to transform, especially in such a relatively short amount of time.

We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World

Cadwalladr, Carole. “We Are Anonymous: Inside the Hacker World of Lulzsec, Anonymous and the Global Cyber Insurgency by Parmy Olson – review.” The Observer. 17 Aug. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/18/we-are-anonymous-parmy-olson-review>

The article discusses the recent rise in popularity of an anonymous hacker group know as “Anonymous”. Masked behind the internet, this group of individuals attack specific companies and groups to help raise awareness of controversial social issues surrounding these groups. Their methods are often questionable and extreme, but it is usually done for a good cause. The group has evolved from simple 4chan hackers to a global organization that coordinates attacks against powers like the North Korean propaganda accounts. The article brings up a good point about cyber terrorism. While it might not be a big deal in some countries, it could land you in prison in America. Anonymity on the internet gives people the courage to do crazy things they wouldn’t normally do online. What’s more interesting is that groups like Anonymous attract so many people because they know the risk of getting in trouble is much lower. In a sense, they lose their own individuality and become a part of a greater mass. While one or two members might get caught, the idea of Anonymous will always remain on the internet. It’s one of the very reasons why I feel that anonymity is too strong of a privilege to give people.

The Importance of Creative Commons

The internet is a huge place, the worst part being that enforcing rules is extremely hard. The second something is taken down, whether it be a picture, video, etc., it is most likely put back up again. Copyrighted material is just very difficult to handle on the internet. That’s why Creative Commons is such a brilliant ideas. The old saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” CC takes the annoyance out of illegally taking copyrighted material by making it legal to go and use the media freely while also giving credit to the source. Creative Commons takes the fuzzy legal issues on the internet and tries to clear them up. It’s an effective system that makes the internet a much friendlier place. I always see content on youtube getting taken down because of a copyright issue. Those videos should watchable by everyone, but it still gets taken down because of legal issues. Creative Commons fixes this issue by making it legal, as long as the source is accredited. I believe that it really opens up the creative potential of the internet by making content less restrictive. This is very useful for blogs because a blog is essentially a form of media that borrows from many other types of media. A blog can incorporate pictures and video that might be copyrighted. Should the owner of that property find their work illegally published on a blog, there could be serious legal consequences. Creative Commons avoids this entirely by giving users the power to do what they please while also giving the owner credit for their work. A blogger who uses CC benefits from the fact that their name/blog is getting around since people have to accredit the source. It’s basically free publicity that will increase the popularity of the blog.

The Victims of Cyberbullying

Sawer, Patrick. “Cyberbullying victims speak out: ‘they were anonymous so they thought they could get away with it.'” The Telegraph. 13 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2013. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/8885876/Cyberbullying-victims-speak-out-they-were-anonymous-so-they-thought-they-could-get-away-with-it.html>

Cyberbullying is a huge issue because it causes victims to feel the pressure of bullying wherever they go. It affects them both inside and outside of class, often making the victims feel like there is no end to their torture. Two girls in particular, Natalie Farzaneh and Paige Chandler, share their stories of how cyberbullying affected their lives. In both cases, the girls used a service known as Formspring. This website allows users to receive anonymous messages from anyone who comes across their webpage. Chandler recalls people leaving comments on other profiles that say things like “I wish your mother would die.” The worst part is, most of these anonymous users do this not because they know the user personally, but because “they have nothing better to do.” It goes to show what normal people are capable of given the right conditions. Another interesting thing brought up by the article is that large companies like Facebook do nothing to stop this type of harassment. Both girls filed complaints, but were ignored.

Blogging and Technology

In this day and age, people have shorter and shorter attention spans. Keeping a reader on one page for longer than 10 seconds is a challenge in itself. Should a writer decide to create a blog with no knowledge or technical skills with computers, he might find himself in a tough position. A good writer doesn’t need to know any programming to write a good story on paper, but bloggers need to customize their blogs with attractive visuals just to hold the reader’s attention. Aesthetics aren’t everything, but the chances of someone reading an entire blog post filled with nothing but words and white space are not very high.

To increase one’s blogging ability, I believe it is necessary to have a firm grasp on how to navigate and understand websites. This means adding tags and categories to help readers traverse the blog. Nothing is more painful than going through months and months of blogging content, only to realize the post was either deleted or moved. Keeping a blog clean and simple is extremely important. It is also a skill that comes with learning how to use a computer. A blogger needs to know where to keep things, when to update, how to reduce clutter, etc. A normal writer doesn’t necessarily know how to do these things on a webpage. Blogs both limit and unlock the potential of every writer because it adds a visual component that just isn’t available through standard black and white lettering on paper. At the same time, a blog’s host website can also confuse a newbie to both the world of technology and the world of blogging. I am personally fairly familiar with computers, but websites like WordPress still manage to boggle my mind. The dashboard setup is cluttered and confusing; customizing blog posts and blogs can be a nightmare at times; even the widget system can be frustrating. These are problems that technologically savvy people have. Imagine how hard it is for someone barely knows how to check their email.

Blogs in my mind are like paintings. One person might be able to put together a nicely drawn stick figure, while the person next him might make the next Mona Lisa. Having experience with technology might not improve the blogger’s writing ability, but it definitely makes reading a blog easier. Going to blogs that look professional and clean cause me to stay longer. I want to explore the blog because it is easy to do and the information is all there. People who have never touched a computer before will probably have issues organizing everything. Hell, even websites for colleges and universities are a pain to navigate. A strong sense of design and a little bit of coding can easily fix this. Still, I find that the computer skills only help me make everything look pretty, but mediocre writing will still be mediocre. To say a good blogger is a good writer would be wrong. While a good layout always improves the reading experience, I would still rather read a messy blog than a pretty one run by a four year old.

Jap Music Shtuff

I want to focus my blog on the type of Japanese music that I like to listen to. These are some blogs that I found useful.

1.http://clearandrefreshing.wordpress.com/

Clear and Refreshing: This is a blog that posts about indie/underground Japanese bands. I really like this blog because it doesn’t just post a music video for the readers to watch with maybe a paragraph synopsis below it. The blogger actually goes in depth about the band and music. I plan on doing that in my blog, but I also want to include pictures and gifs to keep the readers engaged. Just having a music video is usually pretty boring. I personally start looking at other web pages while the song plays in the background. Adding some visual stimuli would capture the reader’s attention and keep them on the page longer.

2. http://jrockexplosion.net/

J-Rock Explosion: This is a blog that features all types of Japanese Rock music. What I really liked about the blog was the large variety of music posted every week. One post could be about a math rock band’s new single, and the next one could be a feature on a screamo band. I want to keep my blog refreshing with a variety of genres. Of course, it would be tailored to my own tastes, but it’s boring listening to the same type of music all the time. The reader would especially get bored. Music blogs should be about discovery. If the same thing is being played all the time, what’s the point of visiting the site more than once? The blog has some issues, such as having too much content. It sounds a little silly, but if I find a blog post that has well over an hour’s worth of listening and reading involved, there is a problem. I would probably keep it to one song per blog post instead of 5 or 6.

3. http://www.reddit.com/r/japanesemusic

Japanese Music Subreddit: I kind of cheated on this one (since it’s a subreddit), but I visit this url almost every single day. It has an incredibly varied selection of music that anyone can come and post/comment on. While there is no large block of text that follows each video, the comment section almost always has a comment or two that links to even more music. It’s just this cycle that ends up consuming hours of my time looking online. I want to be able to create a similar effect in my blog. I want people to read it and go, “Hey, this sounds a lot like dklsfsflkslkfd.” It feels great when you can talk to a stranger about something you’re passionate about without even knowing them personally. Music is one of the few things that can actually accomplish that. As for the things that I dislike about the subreddit, I find that the activity level can be pretty low at times. Also, the subreddit is just filled with videos instead of text to go along with it. This can be fixed pretty easily in my blog if I just focus at one song at a time.

Anonymity is Power on the Internet

It is the strongest voice that allows anyone to voice their opinion without the social consequences that would normally follow a public statement. Freedom of speech is indeed a right that everyone should be entitled to, however that does not imply that the speaker should be free of the responsibilities that come with speaking freely. Censorship in moderation should be put in place in the absence of social pressures that are normally associated with freedom of speech. This censorship is especially needed in blogging, where comment sections run rampant with anonymous replies.  These comments can be not only offensive, but harmful to others as well. It is for this reason that anonymous users should be forced to reveal themselves online; people should be responsible for what they say on the internet.