What happened to my smiling background?

World 1-1These smiles in the background defined big parts of my childhood. The mood, the design, the color palettes; all have become secondhand to me in my platforming history. Not the menacing, cryptic excerpts found in Jason Nelson’s “game, game, game and game again.” Disturbing music mixes, hand-drawn doodles and scribbles, aggressively written text scattered in the background; everything about this game has theming that transcends what the game has you doing. Which is jumping and moving. Collecting collectible doo-dads. Secret pathway and taunting vortexes of doom. What am I playing?

Well it seems like I’m playing a game that is more about the message than the gameplay. The gameplay supplies a means of progressing through a narrative, a non-cohesive one at that. This could be compared to flipping a page, clicking on next page, or other means of interacting with various parts of new media as we’ve explored this semester.  The appeal of the game is the level on interaction involved. Because of past histories with games, surpassing the video game era and reaching into every history of game development, internet designers have a huge catalog to study and develop games with.

What I found most engaging about the games is the methodology on directing the player. Starting level with extended titles to theme the stages and presenting an ambiguous player to control allow anyone accessing the game a unified degree of entry. The game does not care if you are a gamer or not; it wants you to be able to play.

What is most engaging is the theming and tasks. One level that stuck out to me was the level with block. Having the creature go up the stairs collecting things was reminiscent of the end of most Mario Brothers levels, which the ends of the stairs would lead to a leap for the flag of completion. Instead, we have an intended fall to the bottom and scrolling to the left. This part felt the most degrading, as my gaming desire for success involved failing in the most literal sense.

No easy way to Map out

The expansive growth of the narrative can easily make one lost in all of its complexities. Stephen Mamber’s proposal on taking the narrative into a visual form in “Narrative Mapping” follows our studies of “the whale hunt” last week. By alternating the narrative development process from a traditional written form to something more visual and guided, it can transform into a different kind of piece that expands the notion of story, time, and focus.

At first glance I believed the maps to only be used as blueprints for how a narrative should be told, the plot, the timeline, and what the progression of events. This came from a high-school understanding of Gustav Freytag’s plot model traditional literary models (introduction, escalating action, climax, falling action, and resolution). After delving more into the article, seeing how maps worked in other works such as the Baron and The Birds made me realize that a map didn’t nearly dictate how a plot is supposed to be viewed. It acts as a tool to help analyze connections in the literature. The maps can be used to connect character relationships, locales, similarities in sections (chapters, pages, etc), dialogue; the list of things that can be depicted in visual diagrams goes on and on. What immediately came to my head is the mapping of storyline and time. As some texts can get complex, especially any dealing with time travel, plot lines and key events can be easily displayed on a diagram. I know the recent movie release, Looper, and the famous novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold, could both benefit from the implementation of a diagram to closely follow what is happening in the narrative. The mapping of a timeline, or multiple timelines, can help make sense of convoluted stories that requires multiple readings.

What I think Mamber pushes in the article in the emphasis on presenting literature and new media in a format that gives us new ways of challenging works. Does the story expand far and wide to present a greater story? What does a story do within the confines of the map? Does the diagram benefit of hamper the story? What isn’t the diagram showing?

I was also thinking about Alex Glass’s blog post and agree that the mapping that gives away too much takes the satisfaction and enjoyment out of finding out what makes the narrative unique. I do think, however, that authors can manipulate diagrams to deceive viewers and present a perspective that would put the audience on a more difficult path towards fully comprehending a piece of work.

And then I got up and stretched…

what a shock to my system.

It was almost sad how much Separation made me work. Aching and tense from various activity throughout the week, I sorely needed to stretch more than I imagined. At first glance of the piece, I thought my computer had failed to load the text. I clicked more to activate sequences and was surprisingly stopped by the code. Forcing me to slow down, I criticized my own need receive information as quick as I could. The actual literature seemed to be a forceful and tense relationship between humans and computers. To think how helpful and essential computers have become in the workplace and our everyday lives, and to critique how hampering they have become to human development. Social skills, desperate technological dependencies, and physical aches and weaknesses all seem to be caused by our need to be connected to computers and technology.

This work especially connected with the reading for this week “Death of the Author.” There is a lack of identity in the narrative and it makes it relatable. Everyone who comes upon the page has access to who wrote the program, wrote the text, and what the information is coming from (the inspiration for the work). But as the page opens up separately, it acts as on its own. Only the user’s interaction help further the text, prompt the exercises, and connect the these with the user’s own feelings. My realizations of my impatient-ness and soreness came from reading every word slowly, going through the exercises, and examining the piece as a whole once I finished. I didn’t have a connect with the author and felt I was my own author once I realized no specifics were being established within the narrative. “You” and “me” are such commonplace words that it is difficult to not tie them to personal experiences and conversations. The author’s identity, background, and purpose were lost on me because I became the author and gave reason to the textual exercise. Only after finishing and reading the description did I think about why the author’s decisions were important, why the specifics words were chosen, and how and why the exercises were displayed.

Separation – http://collection.eliterature.org/2/works/abrahams_separation/separation/index.htm

Alexander Brahmstedt

In response to ‘ Critical Response #2: William S. Burroughs, “The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin” ‘

While I understand the claim that “every reader’s experience is unique in some way to that individual; no one has the exact same experience,” I know that it is not entirely untrue. We see in classrooms and literary criticism that texts, while available for any interpretation, are defined by some similar traits and similarities in thinking. We find that discussions of literature follow a trend that leave us with an overarching idea of literature. What the point I think is being made here by  is that the composition of the random text and literature had already intrinsic meanings and then their collaboration brings about a new meaning.

The cut and paste method is  an interesting method of bringing about a new meaning. Although random in composition, I can’t help but feel the author makes some decision in order, amount of words, types of sentences, and many other choices. There are so many options and choices an author can make and even the sources from which they come can frame and influence the author’s decisions. I can’t help but critique the method; while it helps diversify the language and bring multiple random literature together, I feel that it takes out a large part of the writing process. Finding the right words to say help make the piece an author’s original work. Unlike sampling, which would modify the words, the cut and paste is many different voices collaborated as one. No editing or modification. It just doesn’t seem genuine as an original work.

What makes this interesting is that even though the concept is not too young, it still brings a different type of literature to table. There’s a lot of new digital literature that we’re studying and being introduced to that messes with our perceptions and tastes as both English majors and literature enthusiasts. Then we see the cut and paste literature that changes how we view original literature even more. I find it refreshing to see a new appreciation for paper but also find the copy and pasting not genuine as a craft of original authorship.

Alexander Brahmstedt

While we stand and focus

“Still Standing”, a new media poetry instillation is a crafty piece of work. The adaptive text is engrossing to see and the shape of the body serving as a template is engaging. The interactivity is merely being, while is akin to just sitting and reading, but forming the reading platform with the human body.

I think of the examples of digital media portrayed on http://www.dreamingmethods.com and think of how engrossed the reader has to be to read the content. The effects, presentation, and style of writing is designed to be viewed on a computer and could not function as a print text. The poem could be viewed in either media but settles in the “in between”. It seems to act as an artifact more than media. Some great inventions had predecessors that served little to nothing in terms of usefulness and practicality in the eyes of the user.  In the past, that’s been the virtual boy to the Nintendo 3DS, the laser disc to the dvd, the PDA to the smart phone, and more. And this technology is, while unique and interesting, not terribly mainstream or convenient that is has been picked up yet. The “in-between” literature has not found a home and I believe it will evolve as the technology advances and the ideas make the form more accessible.

As for the actual nature of the text, it’s a pretty significant comment one the business of today’s society. Not that it has not been busy in the past, but it seems with the digital age, people are more engaged with their devices than ever before. People become almost cyborgs as the devices act as extensions of the communicative behaviors. Now, the device used to manifest the poem becomes an extension of our perceptions of reading.

This “in-between” text is unique in it’s qualities and it is a media that can be modified and exported with ease, as opposed to a book, which would require a secondary editing, printing, and shipping process. It is just strange to see the media presented as an embodiment of the self instead of merely squares of text like the ones above this sentence.

Technology and Society Response

As a lover of technology, I both indulge in the fascinating things that new & old technologies provide. I simultaneously accept that I am susceptible to the influence of these mechanical devices.In understanding what the television does and provides for not only individuals but for cultures, some technologies have permanently affected day to day interactions between people. In many cases in history, advancing technologies provide new ways of doing things that we already done, like PDAs taking over planners, emails replacing mail, and iPods replacing CD& cassette players. In other cases, it turns out that the advancing new “toys” tend to consume us, changing our norms and affecting characteristics that make us human. We see nonsocial people corrupted by the devices to do the social interactions needed to be done in person, people who are well too engrossed into games to separate real from fantasy, and we see people injured and hampered by technologies that distract from real issues (i.e texting while driving). The impact of television that is discussed in the article reflects upon TV’s impact in our culture, how much content we receive that is critical (news, weather, traffic, politics) for our understand of the world, and also content that keeps us stuck there (shows, sports, music). Historical moments are instilled via these images (moon landing, 9/11, Olympics) and we as a unified culture are undoubtedly affected forever.

The discussion of Utopian ideals that were foreseen in the past are big factors that play into how we use technology. The ideas of computers and entities that act as vessels to perform difficulty labor is a very dated idea, but only recently (past few decades) has the technology emerged that allowed people to program said labors into technology today. But even today, we have bigger dreams for technology than can be understood by today’s technology. We see movies such as Star Wars and Tron that depict complete world engulfed by technology living organically, and these fictional depictions end up influencing how we want technologies to advance. Everyone has visions for how much technology will impact our future and the utopian ideals for technology need to be realized at the human levels. Technology is only a means of doing something easier than what is already done, and for that we need to fix the problems ourselves before telling a technology to repeat our successes.