Articulate Abby

April 22, 2011

Friends in different places

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 1:20 pm

My original “knowledge to reveal” was that meeting “strangers” from the internet is not, ipso facto, dangerous or scary. Furthermore, that it can be a good thing, a thing that brings people together, a thing that facilitates friendships. Focusing particularly on Twitter and tweetups, and absolutely ignoring dating sites altogether, I was going to alleviate fears and open people’s eyes to the joys of finding friends of different ages, educations, backgrounds, and locations. But, the workshop showed me I have to do something else first—explain to people that Twitter gets used in many different ways, not just to follow celebrities. I have to get people to think about this wildly popular tool in a new way.

The very first thing I need to do (which I’m doing as soon as this is posted) is finish my list of interview questions and instructions. Then I need to post it on Tumblr with a plea for speed and reblogging. While I’m waiting for replies, I’ll do some research, get and write about my 7-10 sources. I already have some in mind. Write the analysis for Wednesday. When I get clips back, cut them together.

I still want to educate people about the dangers, or frequent lack thereof of the wide world wide web. I also hope to open their eyes to the fact that individual tools, like Twitter, are used in vastly different ways by different people. Ideally, they will leave inspired to go make some internet friends of their own, to follow a few non-celebs, and to, if I’m really ambitious, read news stories about internet stranger danger with a little bit of a raised eyebrow.

April 18, 2011

Storming the brain

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 9:43 am
Potential topics, their values, and how to go about investigating them:
  • Fan culture beyond fanfic: West Wing characters on Twitter
    • Interactive fan culture
    • Talk to the people behind the Bartlet, Lyman, Cregg, etc accounts; look at how they interact with each other, actors, and the Twitter community at large; present their responses, along with their tweets
  • Are internet people really all that scary?
    • Facts vs. realities
    • Ask friends to fill out survey, even send in clips talking about their experiences at tweetups/meetup/lunches; show clips mixed with survey results; talk to class about their preconceptions of tweetups and see if those change after the presentation
For the first topic, I’m interested in the people who not only go beyond fanfic, but take fandom into their lives in a very personal way. I’ve dabbled in it, but had neither the time nor the imitating abilities of some of these people. Also, there are doubles. I know of at least two President Bartlets. Is their devotion impressive? Creepy? I would like to talk to them, find out their motivations, find out when they want to stop, why they keep going. I don’t know how many people will find this interesting, but I will. I can’t come up with a very creative way to present it, though. If it were a class of West Wing fans, I could do a “who supposedly tweeted this” thing, but I feel like that would fail.
For the second topic, someone commented on one of my posts that s/he wouldn’t want to meet someone off the internet. That concept is foreign to me, and to many people. It’s not that I don’t get why that gets said, but I wonder how many people just don’t know what they’re talking about. Can their minds be changed? I would try to find some statistics, too, on things like how many children are actually raped and murdered after being found in chat rooms. If I got my friends to send in clips, I could make a pretty cool video. This topic is probably more widely appealing.

April 15, 2011

NPOV out the window

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 10:51 pm

Over the first five seasons, “brain trusts,” which may be as small as twenty people or as large as a few hundred participants, had emerged as offshoots of the Survivor Sucks site. These “brain trusts” do much of their most hard-core investigation through password-protected sites. Think of these “brain trusts” as secret societies or private clubs, whose members are handpicked based on their skills and track records. Those who are left behind complain about the “brain drain,” which locks the smartest and most articulate posters behind closed doors. The brain trusts, on the other hand, argue that this closed-door vetting process protects privacy and ensures a high degree of accuracy once they do post their findings.

The people who were involved in the brain trusts provided information that was critical to the people of the Survivor spoiler community. Working together using various skills and jobs (travel agent, scientist-types who could identify the flora and fauna in promo pictures, and countless computer geeks) they were able to identify locations, contestants, challenges, the order in which the tribe spoke about people, and, other pieces of Survivor knowledge. Without them, crucial bits and pieces might never have been uncovered.

However, while their “final club” atmosphere allowed the to do this, it was also alienating to the rest of the community. Yes, their absence might have meant less information being exposed, but perhaps what was exposed would have been done in a much more friendly and open fashion. I see both sides here. For the spoiler community, getting that information was of the utmost importance, whatever it took. However, having been a part of elite subgroups in internet groups (or subgroups), it’s also just cool. I don’t believe for a second that the participants of these password-protected groups didn’t (don’t) also get a thrill out of having those passwords. And this is probably not a healthy way to have collective intelligence. A hierarchy is not conducive to having information shared.

My wiki entry was hard, as I missed two classes. But, I think my contributions were legitimate, and vital to the collective intelligence part. I took on a sort of editor-in-chief role, combining our individual pieces into a final page, trying to standardize how we wrote, how we cited, how we formatted. I also offered the point of view of someone who paid enormous attention to the election which we were discussing.

I thought that, for us at least, having it split into clear sections, and having our own page for each, worked well. We were able to each write our piece and then collaborate, rather than trying to work on top of each other. It also meant we could all be editing at once.

For collaborating with the other entries, I took my knowledge, the things I am familiar with, and applied it. I didn’t edit the Star Wars chapter, because I don’t know Star Wars. I edit the Harry Potter chapter, because I know the books, I know the fanfic community, and I know the religious right, or wrong, as the case may be. [1]

Wiki is not my preferred form, at least not a wiki like this, where we all had to do it. Voluntary ones, where people who are interested come together on their own, may be different. But I still found this to be relatively fun, and would be interested in having it be a longer project, perhaps an entire course. Hint.

Contributions to the Harry Potter page

  • Edited some typos, grammar
  • Put in information about the religious people
  • (Hopefully) clarified the problem with fanfic copyright
  • Took out a couple of sentences that I couldn’t understand

1. I observed the NPOV (Neutral Point of View) principle in the wiki article and refrained from using the phrase “reactionary willfully ignorant scared-of-reality theocratic fascists”, but this is my blog, so…

April 1, 2011

Failure to follow protocol

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 4:07 pm

Jenkins talks about “protocols” (actually, he talks about Lisa Gitelman’s idea of protocols), arguing that “a medium is a set of associated ‘protocols’ or social and cultural practices that have grown up around technology. Delivery systems are simply and only technologies; media are also cultural systems [and] persist as layers within an ever more complicated information stratum” (location 377). He goes on to quote Gitelman: “Protocols express a huge variety of social, economic, and material relationships […] And protocols are far from static” (location 377-391). As a bonus, in the glossary he gives us, “Protocols: According to Lisa Gitelman, the set of economic, legal, social, and cultural practices that emerge surrounding a new communications medium” (location 6923).

Protocols seem to serve a dual purpose. First, the helpful one: they provide us with a compass to use when navigating the new media; a framework. Second, the potentially more sinister one: they provide more rules, more norms, more ways for us to fit in—and more ways for us to screw up and not fit in. Protocols also sort of condense things; Gitelman talks about “telephony inclu[ding]” everything from the physical materials used to make a call to the “Hello?” we (English speakers) answer with (fun fact: Alexander Graham Bell wanted us to use “Ahoy?”) to the exorbitant phone bill we must pay. These discrete factors are pulled together under the telephony heading for us (location 389).

In order for us to be successful in this convergence culture, we must learn to accept and navigate these protocols. Cayce knows this. But she can’t quite do it. Because one of the protocols of acceptance into an certain group (let’s call it “everyone on the planet”) is a love of, an interest in, or a carefully cultivated disdain for, labels. You can’t not have an opinion on Prada, good or bad. Cayce is neither. She isn’t even indifferent. She’s allergic. This puts her outside the norm, even outside the anti-norm. Cayce does not follow one of the basic protocols of life today, in our convergence culture, and this is problematic.

A full member of society must care about fashion. It is one of the protocols of civilization (what? I didn’t say that was a good thing). And Cayce Pollard fails rather miserably at that. But we like her anyway.

March 27, 2011

Predictable, contrived, necessary

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 11:15 pm

Do I know what happened?

Do I know what happened.

I think the answer to that is threefold. First, yes: I know what happened. I know what happened, because I read carefully, highlighted carefully, and consulted a couple of sites that had commentary. Second, no: I do not know what happened. I do not know what happened, because it is a dense, twisty-plotted, quick book. Third, no: I do not know what happened. I do not know what happened, because Gibson does not want me to know what happened.

I think that the third point is the most interesting. What does Gibson never tell me? And what do I care about knowing?

The characters, mostly. I want to know what happened to Boone Chu. Yes, I know that he most likely moved to Tokyo with his designer girlfriend, and was only in it for the money, but frankly I’m not sure that jibes with the character as we knew him, and find myself suspicious that Gibson may have just not had anything else to do with him. I want to know more about Ivy. Who is she? Do Parkaboy/Peter and Cayce go visit her? How does she react to finding out what the footage really is, if she does find out? Cayce visits Stella and Nora again–what happens? Can we learn more about Nora? And, of course, Bigend, although it turns out this is a loose trilogy (Gibson’s speciality, though I do mean loose; I definitely recall reading two books of his that were in the same trilogy and not realizing it), and he returns in the other books.

The whole last section, where all the pieces fall into place, was a little confusing. I had the same response reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—by the end of the gigantic book I was so hungry for information that I managed to skip over a couple of paragraphs, and was very confused about the whole Barty Crouch, Jr./Mad-Eye Moody thing. It took two reads. Or more. And I found the ending somewhat contrived, an opinion many a reviewer seemed to share (also predictability in other respects of the novel–I had Parkaboy either ending up with Cayce or ending up as the creator of the footage somehow within, like, six pages). But it’s not about that. It’s about the writing, which is always stunning, and some of the conceptual aspects, although less so than in his more futuristic ones. It’s about the themes of trust and friendship and community, and it’s at the beginning, both of his trilogy and of literature in general, of works dealing with 9/11, probably the most transformative day in America since December 7, 1941. From what I’ve read, that may really be what the whole book is about, and that’s enough for me.

March 25, 2011

Known collaboration

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 10:12 pm

Note: This is a dialogue. I write, and then my collaborator writes, and then I write, with “//” separating the sections.

In chapter 23, “Dickheads”, as Cayce wanders through London, Parkaboy calls her. He tells her that Judy is upset about what’s been done with her image, and wants to send Taki more pictures, make him happy. After they hang up…

She looks at the phone and wonders who Parkaboy is. Other, that is, than Parkaboy, ascerbic obsessive theorist of the footage. What does he do when he’s not doing this? She has no idea, and no idea what he looks like or, really, how he came to be as devoted as she knows he is to pursuing any further understanding of the footage. But now, in some way she can’t quite grasp, the universe of F:F:F is everting. Manifesting physically in the world. Darryl Musashi’s pissed-off Japanese-Texan barmaid seems to be an aspect of this.

But she’s glad that someone else dislikes what they’ve done to Taki.

This is touching on a few things. There is, as one of the boys in the back noted, the acknowledgement of the weirdness of online relationships. There is Cayce’s awareness of, and perhaps discomfort with, the idea that F:F:F is changing, is turning inside out, and, further, that it is meeting with the “real” world. Finally, there is what I think is our first confirmation of Cayce’s dislike of “what they’ve done to Taki,” a dislike I imagine most of the audience shares. This passage in general seems to be Gibson reaching out and telling us that he knows that to the average person (though perhaps not the average Gibson reader) this shit is weird. And telling us, too, that Cayce knows it’s weird, that she is at least a little like us, not totally some weird futuristic person with a weird futuristic allergy, and not even in the future. It’s addressing both Cayce’s discomfort with F:F:F opening up, and our discomfort with F:F:F existing.


I agree with what you are saying in reference to online dating and not really knowing someone’s background before dating them. I don’t know about you but, I could not just date someone knowing few little things and then scheduling a meeting. Cayce may find it to be a little weird, with the whole online part of it but she most definitely is curious. She thinks about what he is doing when they are not on the same site or whenever he may not be involved with her. I also liked how you pointed out that these people who are being described in the book are being depicted as regular people who are not just from a random fiction book. It makes it so that can relate to the characters and essentially put ourselves in the shoes of Cayce or eventually even Parkaboy. A elements revealed in the passage you wrote about would definitely be “the unknown”. So far we do not know a lot of things about a lot of the characters and this unknown effect is what makes me want to get more into the novel. in the story.

A later passage that shows the meeting of the two people would be in chapter 17 and it shows the “date” that Cayce has with Taki.

He’s in his mid−twenties, she guesses, and slightly overweight. He has a short, nondescript haircut that manages to stick up at several odd angles. Cheap−looking black−framed glasses. His blue button−down shirt and colorless checked sport coat look as though they’ve been laundered but never ironed.


I wasn’t specially talking about online dating, but more all kinds of online relationships, [1] but, having finished the book (spoilers), it’s an excellent point; Cayce and Parkaboy/Peter essentially do date online, or at least establish their relationship there. The story ends with at least two couples who first encountered each other with a significant “unknown” factor: Cayce and Parkaboy/Peter and Judy and Taki. I would love to see the meeting of the latter pair.

I was originally writing about the transformation of a digital universe, in this case F:F:F, into a physical one. With collaboration, the post evolved into more specifically the relationships that form when we meet those people from our online lives. I believe that this is becoming increasingly common; I’ve met in person about 35 people from the internet. This means that the “unknown” that my collaborator (I’m so sorry, it’s been a truly unbelievably stressful week, I can’t for the life of me remember who that was) talks about is increasingly becoming known, for better or for worse.

1. Also, I disagree—having met my fiancée on Twitter, 3,000 miles apart, I don’t find online dating particularly odd at all!

March 20, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 7:34 pm

I’m actually really enjoying Pattern Recognition, much more than I expected. Cayce’s world isn’t so far removed from our own that I can’t relate, or have to spend lots of time working out what’s going on (as is the case with some of his other works). The striking thing, in fact, is how much like us the characters are. The dinner party scene seems like something that could easily occur right now. There is no futuristic technology, no robot maids or videophonewatchtoasters. They even think about the things we think about—what will the people of the future think of us?

And yet, just as Cayce refers to England as “mirror-world”, as almost America, the book is only almost our world. For instance, nobody is shocked by the fact that Cayce “is, literally, allergic to fashion” (p 7). Was she some sort of sensation when it was discovered (age six, no?) and so no one cares anymore? It’s clearly not a secret. This may not be a mirror-world, but it’s a world eerily like our own—more of a Canada than an England. In Canada, everything looks the same, and the people sound almost the same, and then you catch a sign that has the speed limit in kilometers, or someone says “soorry?”, or you go to buy milk—something Cayce also, oddly, touches on, on p 25; maybe milk is such a constant that we find it especially unsettling when it’s not quite right—and find that it comes in a bag.

The scene where Cayce watches #135. The description of #135 is simultaneously very precise and incredibly vague. It’s easy to picture what Cayce is watching, but it’s also easy to picture it in many different ways. It reminds me somehow of eXistenZ, of the game—or the game’s game—shifting, of constant vague places, never precisely defined, even when you inhabit them. What is the game? What is the footage?

And, a question that I hope will be answered by Mr. Gibson, but if not, one that will bother me for some time: Why does a girl who is literally allergic to fashion (and brand names in general, like Michelin) want to go to Starbucks?

March 18, 2011

The negativity, it burns!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 10:07 pm

I was surprised and a little saddened that nobody (I think? I wasn’t at my best) talked about the benefits of digital media. Granted, I didn’t either, but I could have. I’m a big fan of digital media–I’m going to go stand in a line tomorrow at 6:00 am just to get something shinier and newer than what I have now. Warnings about the dangers of this stuff seemed much more important to us, which is perhaps strange, given that we’re all in a class devoted to new media, and are all part of the digital generation. It’s our generation that seems prone to doing “stupid” things, like sexting, posting pictures of underage drinking, and making racist videos. Are we learning from others’ mistakes? Or are we just an especially careful group?

I sort of wish I had used more fun effects, but I did have a very specific look I wanted for my project, and it would have been hard to get anything cool like moving text or images in. I definitely wish I had done more with the credits, as several people did, rather than just having them on a static slide.

I think it would be interesting to see what people would do with more time, or what another project would look like now that we have some clue what we’re doing with iMovie. I’m also curious what people would come up with if we all had to do positive portrayals of new/digital media, and talk about the benefits. Did nobody do that just because arguing the negative side is more fun, or are we seriously a pessimistic bunch? I know I’m not.

March 13, 2011

Viva la revolucion digital!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 11:01 pm

I enjoyed making “Modem Times” more than I anticipated. Not that I thought it was going to be horrific, but, come on, it’s school. Learning how to use the software, and the utter thrill when I got my movie to exactly 60 seconds (not 59.9 seconds, not 60.1, but 60.00) was delightful and oddly cathartic. The hardest part was not the technical, or even finding the right source material, but conceptual. I knew what I wanted in my head—Chaplin, riots, title cards, statistics—but getting it to translate to film was more frustrating. Vague pictures in my brain turned out to not quite work with what I could actually do, and “compelling statistics” were harder to implement when I had to make them not only slide-friendly but also not requiring more than, literally, a second or two to read.

On a personal note, I suppose I learned that I have a freakish love of cutting things to the exact millisecond I want, but that that love can translate into obsession, and lead to my girlfriend telling me that NO ONE IS GOING TO NOTICE IF THEY CAN SEE HIS FINGER IN THAT SHOT. So I need to watch that. I also need to realize that just because it’s perfectly clear to ME what I mean by that doesn’t mean anyone else has a freaking clue.

I’ll admit it: I cheated a little with regard fair use. I only used one source, and it’s in the public domain. To be clear, I didn’t set out to make it easier for me by only using the one, but I didn’t go out of my way to change that. Additionally, I recut it, using 21 seconds out of an hour and 22 minute long movie (plus the title cards). I also believe that I was quite clearly trying to “launch a discussion”–I used images of workers and the boss next to statistics about working class and upper class internet use. With the statistics I found, I simply cited them at the end (I cited the original film as well, of course). But, even though Modern Times is in the public domain, I still wouldn’t have exploited it. I respect the work too much. Also, as it is in the public domain, you should all go watch it. Rent it, download it, watch it in really abysmal quality on YouTube, whatever you like.

Sleep Dealer influenced me a bit, but obviously the major influence from class was the Qiu piece. The digital divide has fascinated me for a while (class in general is something I’m really interested in), and reading that piece made me decide I wanted to focus on it here. Obviously I didn’t have time to deal with the “have-less” category, which I regret, but I think the have-lesses may only hasten the revolution I’m calling for (if not predicting; Americans seem to be oddly bad at revolutions). Qiu notes on page 14 that “[r]ecent social transformations in China have disproportionately inflicted the have-less”. If these are the people getting screwed over, not the desperately poor, they have more ability to revolt. The impoverished don’t have time to riot. The Tramp in the film probably has a cell phone, but not a smartphone, and no way to use the internet for health information or to access government services. He knows what he’s missing out on.

As a side note (after my 554 words of post), if you enjoyed the recut Shining trailer, here are some more, via a Metafilter post:

Bon appétit!

March 4, 2011

Feeling a little guilty writing this on an iPad

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Articulate Abby @ 9:03 pm

The workshop was perhaps somewhat less helpful to me than to others, as I misunderstood what it would be. Still, the feedback I did get indicated that my idea, at least, was on track. It was suggested that I look for more modern footage; I’m not sure any exists, which is why I’m going to be including modern statistics. I may now look for some more modern images though

Watching other projects was very helpful; one thing that it turns out is REALLY important is the quality of the clips, something I had been somewhat blasé about. The projects wth high-quality content automatically seemed better.

My project’s argument is that the “digital divide” is unfair, illogical, and is going to lead to turmoil in the next century. I want my viewers to think about the haves, have-nots, and have-lesses, and realize that digital inequity is a major problem for all of us.

I need to get my footage and my text spliced very cleanly, and I need to make sure that what I am saying makes sense, and is not just my own mini-diatribe. Additionally, I feel like I need to step it up with regards to making my point matter; it’s important that people understand why this is important, how it affects us all when some people have FiOS and some have dialup and some have never seen a computer.

I continue to be excited about this, though, because I do think it’s such an important issue, and one that we either ignore or are ignorant of. Not that my sixty seconds is going to change that, but it can’t hurt.

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