Archiving the Digital Photograph – Group A2

With the creation of new digital technology, humans have periodically transitioned things that were once analog into a newer digital form.  This transition happened with text, sound, and in the past few decades pictures and videos.  With the creation and wide adoption of the smartphone, snapping a picture to remember a moment in time is easier than ever.  By repeatedly doing this, we are effectively creating a digital archive of the memories tucked away deep inside our brains. The act of archiving memories using pictures is similar to the idea of the memex, in the sense that once we archive a memory (or save it forever as a digital photograph) we can then come back and experience that time once again though the physical moment has long passed.  This supports Vannevar Bush’s claim that “improved technology has become as extension of our capabilities.”  Once a moment is over, we physically are never able to experience it again, however archiving the moment makes repeating the emotional experience very possible, giving us the power of “time travel.”

In our video, we will display the idea of archiving memories using a cover of the song Photograph by Nickelback.  Our songvid will overlay images and videos of things such as people taking, posting, and deleting digital photos, while attempting to also show the transition that occurred as the digital revolution changed the how the photograph actually existed..  The song, which is about reminiscing and remembering the past based off of pictures and other items connected to our past selves, directly relates to this idea.  We also intend to show how by archiving using photographs, you can travel back through time by simply scrolling through a timeline.

In class when we talked about Google and Wikipedia, it was noted that the importance of archiving is to make information more accessible.  Though this was in relation to text and information, the exact same concept is true when applied to photographs.  Social media such as Facebook or Instagram act as our “memex,” making it so that each and every one of the things we want remembered, are indexed and saved into history forever.  Vannevar Bush in his essay originally outlining the memex said, “A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk.”  This is essentially what these various social media platforms have become for us––though rather than in the end of a desk, they live in the palm of our hands.

An example of the songvid genre of remix is shown below.  We will be utilizing the same techniques demonstrated in the video for argumentative purposes rather than purely for entertainment, however the premise of the video will be much of the same.

House of Cards Wikipedia

In his essays What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About The New Media Literacies parts one and two, Henry Jenkins writes about Pierre Levy’s idea of collective intelligence.  Collective intelligence is the notion the collective mind and knowledge of many, far surpasses the knowledge of any one individual (Jenkins).  Collective intelligence is in direct opposition to the idea of the expert paradigm where there are few people that are “experts” about a topic, and they are who should be teaching the topic to people who want to learn about it.  Wikipedia is a website that is completely based on the idea of collective intelligence, and is a space where anyone that is willing to help to expand the knowledge it houses is able to do so.  This is because Wikipedians believe that no one knows everything, everyone knows something, and by bringing all these little pieces together, they are able to create something much greater (Jenkins).

House_of_Cards_title_cardOne Wikipedia article that displays some of the processes of collective intelligence is the US version of House of Cards.  Upon quickly glancing through the article, it became apparent that Henry Jenkins was correct when saying that Wikipedia is never finished, but is rather a constant work in progress.  Season 3 of this TV show was released only a couple weeks ago, and due to its relative newness, the section of the plot dedicated to this season was thin.  The first two seasons have several paragraphs with an in depth view of the plot that has developed over the past two years.  Since there aren’t nearly as many people who have completed the third season yet, there have been few edits to the section.  This is one of the few examples where an expert may be able to provide a better and more complete discussion on the topic at the moment.  However, when the collective pool finishes watching the season and all begin to update the section, a more diverse and more accurate discussion will appear (Wikipedia).

A long, more complete description of Season 2, above a relatively thin Season 3.

A long, more complete description of Season 2, above a relatively thin Season 3.

Upon peering into the talk section for this article, I found an interesting argument between several of the editors.  The discussion pages on Wikipedia are the place where the community aspect behind collective intelligence really shines.  This particular disagreement was about whether season 2 should be documented on the series page before it had officially been posted to Netflix (Wikipedia).  It was interesting to see both sides of the argument use the Wikipedia guidelines as their defense, before ultimately coming to the consensus that the guidelines were not complete as they contradicted themselves about when to add seasons and episodes to the page and that instead.  The author was directed to see how the online community had decided to deal with this on other TV shows pages instead of the guidelines themselves.  This shows that even the bounds of Wikipedia are never complete.

Disagreement between two users over whether to include Season 2.

Disagreement between two users over whether to include Season 2.

At the time of writing, the Revision Statistics page was down, but looking through the past 500 revisions showed that a variety of people have taken to editing this page, and that it is likely the views of many that are displayed within it, rather than the opinions of just one (Jenkins).  This makes it a good example of collective intelligence as Pierre Levy defines it, and a well maintained Wikipedia page.


Works Cited:

“House of Cards (U.S. TV Series).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 8 Mar. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Cards_(U.S._TV_series)&gt;.

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART ONE).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Web. 8 Mar. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab.html&gt;.

Jenkins, Henry. “WHAT WIKIPEDIA CAN TEACH US ABOUT THE NEW MEDIA LITERACIES (PART TWO).” Confessions of an AcaFan. Web. 8 Mar. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab_1.html&gt;.

Transmedia: the World of Harry Potter

Henry Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as “a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience” (Jenkins), but what does that really mean?  Essentially transmedia is the idea that a narrative is able to continue its story past the end of a certain type of media.  One franchise that I feel has done this exceptionally well is Harry Potter.  I, like many others, was very into the world of Harry Potter as a child.  Because of this, I experienced first hand the ideas that Jenkins was talking about.  After the series of books were adapted into movies, synergy set in––the creation of many different connections back to the central text.  This led to action figures, LEGO sets, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter amusement park in Universal Studios, and what I intend to discuss here, video games.

Lego Harry Potter  - Years 1-4Lego_harry_potter_5-7_cover_art

There were a vast array of games that came out in connection to Harry Potter, but one series in specific that I played was LEGO Harry Potter.  This was a two part series that came out as Years 1-4 and Years 5-7.  These games elicit the ideas of world-building and multiform story to allow the players an experience that they all around could not receive from reading the books or watching the movies.  The original texts themselves create a world that the viewer/reader can not achieve in real life, and therefore will want to explore more in depth.   The video games make it able for them to do exactly that.

Lego Harry Potter Characters

This game loosely conforms to Janet Murray’s idea of multiform story.  A multiform story is one which gives the audience the plot or storyline in multiple different ways (Murray 30).  The LEGO Harry Potter game does this by giving the player a vast array of different characters to play as (seen in the image to the right), each that have special abilities and powers that others do not.  This allows the players to get a view into the world which the characters live in from more than one perspective.

Potions

Jenkins also describes the idea of world-building, where the transmedia item is not based on just one character or part of the plot, but rather the entire world that the characters exist inside of (Jenkins).  Since the world of Harry Potter is not one that the audience interacts with on a daily basis, and therefore wants to further understand, they can use the game to explore and further understand the world.  For example, in the game (as well as in the world of Harry Potter), creating potions is an important part of mastering wizardy.  However if a potion is created incorrectly, it can have unintended effects like changing the character into a frog temporarily.  This helps the audience understand what it is like to live in such a world where things are beyond our imagination.


Works Cited:

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an AcaFan. 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html&gt;.

Murray, Janet Horowitz. “Chapter 2: Harbingers of the Holodeck.” Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free, 1997. Print.

The App Store: making the revolutionary, more revolutionary

In Tom Gunning’s article “Re-Newing Old Technologies,” he discusses how as new technologies start to age, they begin to fall victim to familiarization and in turn move from “spectacular and astonishing to convenient and unremarkable” (Gunning 39).  He references John Onian’s essay to explain the cognitive cycle that occurs with new technology: (1) a person has a striking, or uncanny, experience; (2) a brief physical paralysis occurs; (3) the person learns about the new technology leading to new mental reactions, which will in turn create (4) a new action being familiarized (Gunning 41).

Gunning believes that we as humans quickly lose the astonishment of new technologies.  This could partially be due to the fact that truly new technology is hard to come by in this day and age where there are less inventions and more innovations.  In the past couple decades there hasn’t been much that changed the world as inventions did throughout the 1900’s, but rather, we live in a world of iterations––a world where we increment numbers and add a few features to call something “new” instead of making a new product entirely. However, he says that we should pay more attention to the origins of any new technology as it begins to age and be more cognizant of the history that it went through.

The App Store originally opened on July 10th, 2008.

The App Store originally opened on July 10th, 2008.

Apple’s iOS App Store is a technological advancement that made it to Onian’s fourth stage of wonder very quickly and has remained there ever since.  Originally released on July 10th, 2008, it was truly something uncanny––completely new to the people that used it.  Till this point, some devices had “app stores,” but they were expensive to use and lacked in features.  Apple’s was completely different. Not only could anyone put content on it, but most of it was free, leading Computer World to say “Apple has already profoundly changed the technology landscape again” and “2008 will be known for one thing…”  The free button in the App Store (as shown on the attached poster) was a stark difference compared to any other software distribution platform in existence. Shortly after the opening of the App Store, most users had quickly learned about the new technology (Onian’s step 3) and were using it in their every day lives (step 4) (Gunning 41).  Because of this, the discourse surrounding the App Store has profoundly changed.

“Apple’s App Store Bigger
Than Hollywood Box Office”

Today, if you search for the App Store online, its wonder and astonishment has worn off.  People have become familiarized with the process of downloading new apps and the phrase “let me find an app for that” has lost its luster.  Headlines now fill the web such as “Apple’s App Store Bigger Than Hollywood Box Office” announcing that “Apple posted the largest quarterly profit of any company in history”(Stone).  Familiarization is here. There is nothing intrinsically new or uncanny about using the App Store anymore, as displayed by the massive earnings they report––everyone is doing it. This familiarization is what Gunning was referring to when he called for his readers to take a step back from their daily lives and ask themselves what technologies were like when users first experienced them, and how have they changed from then to now.

Coming 2008 - The iOS App Store

The App Store will change the future of mobile platforms.


Works Cited:

Gunning, Tom. “Chapter 4: Re-Newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature, and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century.” Rethinking Media Change The Aesthetics of Transition. Ed. David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins. Cambridge: MIT, 2009. 39-59. Print.

Reisinger, Don. “Why the App Store Is the Key to the IPhone’s Success.” Mashable. 11 Aug. 2008. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://mashable.com/2008/08/11/app-store-is-the-key-to-iphones-success/ > .

Stone, Amey. “Apple’s App Store Bigger Than Hollywood Box Office.” The Fiscal Times. 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/01/28/Apple-s-App-Store-Bigger-Hollywood-Box-Office/ > .

Weintraub, Seth. “Apple’s Biggest Innovation for 2008? The IPhone App Store.” Computerworld. 7 Aug. 2008. Web. 1 Feb. 2015. <http://www.computerworld.com/article/2478691/smartphones/apple-s-biggest-innovation-for-2008—the-iphone-app-store.html/ > .