inferentialkid

Interfaces

In Sessions on February 12, 2014 at 7:13 pm

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Agenda:

  • Digital Mapping demos
  • Readings & Responses Review
  • Q & A with special guest Collin Brooke

Readings for Next Week:

Assignments (as assigned):

  • Write a 300-500 word response to the above readings and bring  a hard copy with you to class, or
  • Prepare a question for Alexander Galloway
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  1. Here’s the link to my Roadtrip! Rhetorical Analysis assignment page: http://wsucomposition1020.pbworks.com/w/page/74898437/Roadtrip%21%20Rhetorical%20Analysis

  2. One more: here’s the link to Bamboo DiRT (Digital Research Tools) – http://dirt.projectbamboo.org/

  3. Map, Barthes. Barthes, Map.
    Easiest way to see this thing is to use play/pause to progress from slide to slide.

  4. Galloway argues that the computer “as an ethics . . . [which] takes our execution of the world as the condition of the world’s expression” (23). In other words, the computer forms our idea of the world. In this sense, I agree as Galloway concludes that “[t]he virtual is no longer the site of emancipation. Rather, it is the primary mechanism of oppression” (138). Physically, we are bound to all these technological systems which (indirectly) force us to do the works through e-mails, chat rooms, blogs, etc. 24/7 as the example of Fox TV show 24. Mentally, our ideas on race are formed by representations as in games and films. But, is the computer the only problem for the issue?
    One of Galloway’s examples of “racial coding” is from Shrek, saying “[the] black actor Eddie Murphy quite literally plays the ass” (133). But characters in Shrek movies are basically comical and ridiculous. What about other characters? Mike Meyers, a white actor, plays “Shrek” the ogre, and Antonio Banderas, a Hispanic actor, plays “Puss in Boots” the cat. If we see the whole picture of the casts of Shrek without thinking about racial problem, I see each talented actor who got the part which they can do well. Galloway’s another example is Obama’s inauguration rehearsal. He points out the specific roles that one black man for the other black man and one white man for the other white man. But if the rehearsal selected other race for Obama, wouldn’t it also be a problem due to the claim of ignoring his race? I understand Galloway’s point that the interface effects people’s mind. But what I want to say is that I think people’s ideas come first before the computer represents those ideas.
    So the answer to my question “does the computer forms typical and fixed ideas for us?” is both yes and no. The computer could make those fixed expressions in some manners but I think it is still people who fix things first. To me, if we have flexible ideas on things then we could deal with fixed ideas represented by the computer or the computer would not represent typified images. In this sense, I share my thought with Galloway’s suggestion that “the whatever is an attempt to avoid the trap of affect, that is to say, the trap of the ‘image’ of the identity-bound individual. It is an attempt to avoid the trap of racialized universalism” (142).

  5. Galloway, in The Interface Effect, and Kress, in “Gains and Losses,” discuss the various ways that new media is both “good”–because it seamlessly connects the “self” with the “other” and “bad”– because it creates an obstacle to direct communication. Both Galloway and Kress emphasize the need to look at the positives and negatives of new media, but each ultimately comes down on a particular side. Galloway concludes with a discussion of the social and political “dangers” of new media while Kress concludes with a much more hopeful view.

    While Kress acknowledges both the “gains and losses” in the shift away from print culture toward visual media he favors the visual because “speech and writing tell the world; depiction shows the world. In the one, the order of the world is given by the author; in the other, the order of the world is yet to be designed (fully and/or definitively) by the viewer” (16). In other words, Kress privileges the visual as being somehow more “real” and because it provides the reader with more control over creation and interpretation than printed text. Galloway, however, suggests that while this may appear to be true it’s not. According to him, new media gives more of an illusion of choice and control than it actually provides. As an example, Galloway points out that in World of Warcraft racial traits are unmodifiable “while class traits are configurable in a number of significant ways” (132). What he seems to be getting at here is that less visually apparent characteristics (like class) are open to modification while visual markers such as race are actually reinforced. Ultimately, he suggests, “the logic of race can never be more alive, can never be more purely actualized, than in a computer simulation” (132). According to Galloway, then, new media oftentimes replicate existing social injustices in ways we may not have fully accounted for.

    Kress concludes his article with a series of rhetorical questions: “And can I say that depiction is a better means of dealing with much in the world than writing or speech could be?… Would the next generation of children actually be much more attuned to truth through the specificity of depiction rather than the vagueness of word?” (21). While these questions remain unanswered, they gesture toward a hope that this will, in fact, be the case. Galloway’s reading of World of Warcraft and 24, however, make me question not only whether this will happen but Kress’ underlying assumption that the visual depicts “truth” (or reality) any more accurately than the printed word. In other words, do we really see what we get or do we get what we see?

  6. Gunther Kress argues for making “the move from one mode and its arrangements to another mode and its different arrangements” in shifting from representation in the form of writing to representation in the form of image. Kress sees a fixity and finiteness in speech and writing that do not exist in images, which “hav[e] a possibility of infinitely many full, specific elements in an open order.” In setting up his argument, Kress begins by discussing the change in his school’s prospectus from “a page with a single entry point” ordered by an author to a “’page’ site with multiple entry points” ordered by the reader. The value of the multiple entry points is the acknowledgment that “visitors will come to this page from quite different cultural and social spaces, in differing ways, and with differing interests, not necessarily known to or knowable by the maker(s) of the page.” The “life-world” interests of the reader determine the path he/she takes through the information on the site. This description prompted me to think about a different kind of writing classroom. It’s not a writing classroom that revolves around images (although they can certainly be a part of it); rather, it’s a classroom that tries to accommodate the idea of “multiple entry points.”
    What I’m imagining is a hybrid of an online class, a f2f class, and a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story. What if the class was conducted using a website that offered multiple writing projects for the students to work through as a matter of choice? Each student could navigate the writing project through the website with links to any number of possible sources for inventing and publishing – maps, videos, tutorials, library pages, articles, sample papers, wikis etc. Although there would be a requirement for the number of projects to complete and due dates for stages of the process, the choices of assignments would be entirely up to the student. The projects themselves could range in scope from the academic to the personal to the social. Although the course “content” is online and student-driven, the class would still meet in a f2f setting for the entire semester (ideally in a computer classroom). Although students could use class time to work on their projects, the ideal format would be one in which there is a continual conversation between student and instructor and student and student about writing. Instead of giving formal instruction in the front of the room and cancelling the occasional class for conferences, every class would be a conference. The students can report progress and problems one-on-one. Instructors would be intimately aware of the student projects (instead of the more detached everyone’s-on-this-step assumption of the traditional class). The malleability of a webpage would allow the instructor or student to add content as needed to help students with projects. Students would share their projects with one another and engage in peer-review at multiple points throughout each project. Students would have access to a broader array of writing than what they themselves are working on by seeing projects they did not choose to pursue. The hope for this type of class is that it would allow students to come at the class from “different cultural and social spaces” and gain “agency” as an “individual who has a social history, a present social location, an understanding of the potentials of the resources for communication, and who acts transformationally on the resources environment and, thereby, on self….”
    In the school prospectus example I mentioned earlier, Kress points out the “revealing changes in vocabulary: for instance, from write (and read) to design; from reader to visitor; from page and/or text to message entity; and others no doubt” that result from shifting from an author organized text to a reader organized experience. In imagining the classroom I described above, one question (among many) has to do with how the vocabulary changes in that space. I’ll end with a fill-in-the-blank exercise. In my imagined classroom, teacher becomes ______________ and student becomes ________________.

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