Media, immediately.

Today I reminisced about the pencil sharpener, and I do not mean the electric-motorized fancy kind; I mean the shiny metal, slow-grinding, dust-spouting kind. It is a tool that has only just reached the point of obsolescence that warrants reminiscence. For something to reach this golden place in my mind, the object must be familiar enough that I warmly recall romanticized interactions with said object, yet foreign enough that I cannot bluntly draw to mind that once-proverbial brand name etched on its head (I think it began with a ‘B’).

But why should the pencil sharpener lose its legitimacy?? The reliable school supply that was forever screwed to the jagged two-by-four on the wall in the lunch-cubby corner, provided me with a beautifully legitimate excuse to interrupt the Teacheress with rattling crunches. The point IS (pun intended) that the pencil sharpener never started doing its job less-well; its engine never died out, its grinders never dulled, and it certainly never became less-fun to crank. Nay, the singular fault of the poor pencil-sharpener was that it got caught in the crossfire of the immediacy revolution. Trekking to the pencil sharpener to narrow one’s tip became a silly pastime to the one-click mechanical pencil. But to be fair, whittling graphite became a silly pastime to the metal grinder, and scribing in blood became a silly pastime to whittling graphite.

Obsolescence formerly arose out of discovering a more convenient way to accomplish a task. However, over the aforementioned revolution, convenience became immediacy. Remember when you used to have to wait a whole hour until you found an empty computer to check Facebook (inconvenience)? No longer! The notifications shoot straight to your pocket (immediacy).

Whether or not you feel these exponential advances in the name of immediacy are beneficial is an oft-debated phenomenon, and can be further explored by the incessant arguments I have with my lovely cousin Nick. Nick is smarter than your garden-variety computer nerd, with a $19K+ classic video game collection, a severe case of ADD, and no tolerance whatsoever for waiting for anything, ever. I have often attributed his Attention Deficit Disorder to his above-average use of technology. Granted, Nick is a computer genius, and as such feels that the quicker we can accomplish a task, the better. However, perhaps our ever-lasting debate over whether or not the speed at which we can acquire information, or well…do anything, is a progression or regression can be explained by factors other than the obvious cultural mores (i.e. upbringing, geographical location, social class, age, etc.). Perhaps there is a more methodological and thus comprehendible explanation.

You see, there exists an inherent dissonance in our understanding of immediacy regarding media.

When I finally decided to research this topic, it did not take me too long to realize that the two words are eerily similar etymologically. Funny enough, if we look at the etymological origins of both the words ‘media’ and ‘immediate,’ we will find that they are intrinsically opposite. ‘Immediate’ is a state of being [ate], without [im], a middle man/section, or in this case, lapse of time [medi]. ‘Medium,’ of course, means between, middle, or halfway. In fact, the first appearance of the word ‘media,’ as defined by this essay, in any documentation in the English language was in January 1850 in the Biblical Repertory: “Our periodicals are now the media of influence. They form and mould the community.” In 1850, it was newspapers that became the new medium through which to communicate, in that its ability to disseminate information was more immediate than the former mode of media communication, which were consequently books.

To complicate matters a bit more, if we view ‘media’ and ‘immediacy’ individually, we will find that from each emerges a conceptual conundrum, similar to the way in which they anti-relate to each other. “Medium” has two contradictory characteristics in that it both connects and separates. Its connectedness is to understand “media agents of time-space bridging” in activities such as phone-calling, Skyping, etc., which bring “distant events into people’s localities” (Tomlinson 96). However, the technical coding and formats needed for this communication alienate an unsuspecting consumer. “Electronic media tend to hide their mediation. Far from advertising it, they obscure the artifice of their practice and present their product or medium…as pristine, untouched, and immediate” (99).

In order to approach the topic of immediacy in its natural, contradictory state, we must understand its driving component: speed. There are two fundamentally oppositional meanings and manifestations of speed. Speed offers both “pleasures and pains, exhilarations and stresses, emancipation and domination.” On the one hand, there are a significant number of terms which the English language hath bred reflecting societal disapproval of speed. A “fast talker” tends to be deceitful; a “quick fix” connotes shoddiness; a “quickie” is done in private disgrace. Likewise, there is a wealth of positively-connoted associations with speed. “Quick-witted” and “quick on the uptake” both imply being cleverly alert; “Godspeed” connotes well-intended wishes of precision and prosperity; “living life in the fast lane” means career success (Tomlinson3-4). While the two coexist in contradictory ways, it is clear that humans today live in a culture of speed.

What grows out of the general acceleration of practices, processes, and experience associated with speed as it relates to technology is telemediatization (Tomlinson 10).  Telemediatization, a term so young that it does not employ a Wikipedia entry, is the “increasing implication of electronic communications and media systems in the constitution of everyday experience” (Tomlinson 94). In layman’s terms, this quote more eloquently expands upon the transparency with which media exists in our life-sphere, due to the increasing immediacy with which we need consume it. Telemediated activities – texting, web-surfing, sending/receiving picture/video messages via cell phone, instantaneous Googling during daily routine –“occupy a space in the everyday flow of experience within the individuals’ world that is distinct, yet integrated with face-to-face interactions of physical proximity” (Tomlinson 94).

It is this curious juxtaposition of the familiar, the taken-for-granted, the trivial, with the capacity to radically alter the terms of human intercourse that attempts to quantify telemediatization. Since it has such a huge potential for study, we must stay focused. In what way are telemediated activities contradictory? The answer can be found in the necessity yet dispensability of technology (Tomlinson 97).

A common party question that somehow seems to surface at many large-group events is: “What every day object can you absolutely not live without?” In my experience, the overwhelming answer to this question as-of-late has been one’s cell phone. We have attached fundamental needs to this object: needs to communicate, needs to research, needs to organize, needs to function. Personally, my cell phone is within grasping distance during at least 90% of my day. At my worst, the cell phone entered a Zip-lock bag and accompanied me in the shower (to be fair, this only happened once during a bad fight via ‘textversation’). Media truly are ‘extensions of man’ (96).

Currently, AT&T is promoting its “Talk & Surf” plan. The following is an excerpt from their website describing the feature:

The ability to talk and surf at the same time on your smartphone is one of the AT&T mobile broadband network’s key advantages. If you have it, you probably use it all the time. You may not even think about it. Let’s say: Your mother-in-law is 35 minutes into her detailed account of her recent Vegas trip. With simultaneous talk and surf, you’re updating Facebook, checking stock prices, and keeping tabs on the game as the conversation wears on.

And with that cute little definition of the plan, AT&T has perfectly illustrated the manner in which telemediatization is infringing upon the way we formerly handled social incidences. I personally feel this is, in fact, the way we more oft-than-not treat our grandmothers today, but I do not feel that it is necessarily progressive. In fact, I think it is rude (Me-1, Nick-0).

And yet, contrary to this cultivated popular ‘need,’ the phone is designed to be dispensable. Phone plans come with two-year contracts, at which time you are monetarily and socially encouraged to ditch the object to which you have become so closely attached, and buy a new one. ‘Buy’ is a stretch, since service-providers offer some of the newer models for $0.01. Technology works in such a way that anything you buy ‘new’ will become obsolete within approximately two months. Only media could cultivate such a need, yet undeniable distance and lack of emotional tie to an inanimate object.

Branching away from cell phones, we can also view progressing yet contradictory immediacy in our consumption of the television medium. In the interest of focus, I will cite a singular memory experiment published in “Psychology Press” to prove my point. The study explores whether “the immediacy of viewing images of a momentous news event affects the quality and stability of memories.” Obviously, because of advances in technology, the broadcasting of major news events is aired with less and less delay. Very often, we now learn of the event at the same time, or very shortly after it has occurred. However, this general exposure to media images can either “improve retention of a news story, or can distort memory of the news”. Consequently, in the major experiment that compared “the flashbulb accounts of 38 participants concerning the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack” proved that “delayed viewing of images resulted in less elaborate and generally less consistent accounts” of the event six months later (Schafer 1). In these broader psychological implications, it is clear that in the case of the news, immediacy correlates with recallability and accuracy (Me-1, Nick-1).

I would be remiss if I did not mention social media in this paper about inherent contradictions in immediacy and telemediatization. In the field of social-networking, perhaps, is the clearest contradiction of all. Within each of our life-spheres of immediate and unconditional communication, unhindered by the limits of time or distance, we suffer from unprecedented alienation. Many of our webs of connections are growing broader but shallower: “we are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible” (Marche 2). We exist within “an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are.” Facebook interferes with our real friendships, and even our real familial relationships. “We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and easy” (Marche 3). This broader statement is not just an arbitrary generalization, but is reflected in real data, where one survey found that “in 1985, only 10 percent of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent said they had only one such good friend. [However,] by 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent had only one confidant” (3). Sorry, Nick, I’d rather be happy and friendship-plentiful in 1985, than friendship-emaciated and lonely albeit “connected” in 2012 (Me-2, Nick-1).

Regardless, loneliness is certainly not something that Facebook or Twitter or any major form of social networking is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves. These omnipresent new technologies — these telemediated behaviors — lure us toward “increasingly superficial connections at exactly the same moment that they make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy” (Marche 8). They help showcase our social laziness, while simultaneously providing us with the tools for avoidance and lack of effort. The power of Facebook lies within its ability that “enables us to be social while sparing us the embarrassing reality of society” (8). And, in this case, social media is not at fault for our loneliness, but rather accentuates (and makes convenient) the flaws that were always inherent in human nature (Me-2, Nick-2).

Neither of us will ever win the debate. What is interesting, however, is that arguing with Nick or one of my tech-savvy peers is not the same thing as arguing with my Grandmother, who clearly reminisces about a simpler, slower-pace life-sphere. We disagree on the grounds of experience and age, which is the more obvious explanation for two individuals’ lack of agreement upon the implications of our co-existence with media. As further evidence in proving my Grandmother right: even in so choosing this particular topic upon which to write a 10-page research paper, I became childishly impatient and irate at the fact that one source was not listed online, and even worse not in my university library, which would inevitably mean resorting to the WORST CASE SCENARIO for any first-world liberal-arts college researcher…INTER-LIBRARY LOAN.

Clearly, telemediatization has been a godsend for me as a student, as a writer, and as a regular-Tuesday-night-trivia-at-the-bar-competitor. However, it has changed my wiring as a thinker in all three of these roles of my life; as the nostalgic pencil-sharpener might do to an unsuspecting dulled #2 tip, telemediatization is grinding away, with rattling crunches, my capacity for concentration and consideration. This particular aspect negatively affects me in my social, academic, and intellectual lives. However, just as with the printing press, the telegraph, and the camera, “the doomsayers were unable to imagine the myriad blessings that” these world-altering technologies would deliver (Carr 7). In this sense, Nick and I will always disagree, and neither will be more correct than the other. If, like me, you find yourself constantly battling the immediacy revolution, perhaps thinking in terms of “inherent dichotomy” rather than in terms of “right or wrong” can quell your disagreements, and maybe even your depressing feelings of inevitable unresolvability.

________________________ 

References:

Carr, Nicholas. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic, August 2008. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/.

“Immediate.” Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, n.d. http://ezproxy.arcadia.edu:2889/view/Entry/91838?result=1&rskey=6ug2YF&.

Marche, Stephen. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic, May 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930/.

“Medium.” Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, n.d. http://ezproxy.arcadia.edu:2889/view/Entry/115772?redirectedFrom=medium&.

Talk & Surf at the Same Time, n.d. http://www.att.com/Common/about_us/files/pdf/talk_surf_fact_sheet.pdf.

Tomlinson, John. The Culture of Speed: The Coming of Immediacy. SAGE, 2007.

 

What?

Alright “Prof,” you had me lost for most of this reading. The problem is that Your Stupid Rage is so incredibly hyper-focused on such a pin-pointedly specific sub-culture, it was often hard to follow. And I am a semi-major soccer fan slash former life-status soccer player.

Here are some things that resonated with me throughout the reading, or perhaps they just came to mind in spite of the reading, having arisen out of my lack of inherent understanding of the way certain English Premier League managers react to losses.

I get really intense. Like intense — when it comes to sports, competition, Jeopardy, Applebee’s trivia, whathaveyou — to the point of Phillips’ circumscribed hyper-partisanship. This is, in fact, one of my most unfavorable qualities, which has found me more oft than not red-faced in situations where I refuse to admit defeat (be it in rightness, team victory, accuracy of actresses in movies, etc.).

Anyway, the moral of the story is that even though I did not thoroughly enjoy this reading (save the witty jab at water polo), Phillips has a point. When you get too hot-headed over something, which had originally arisen as a beautiful display of truly intrinsic passion, it is hard to let go; rather, admit your faults and try to work your way back to the place whence you came. The regression from passion to hyper-partisanship is so gradual that you do not realize what you have lost until you have plunged so embarrassingly deep into the abyss of Archie Bunkerdom that you refuse to acknowledge the repugnant beast you have become. And what you have lost, using Phillips’ analogy, is you care for “the game itself, or the truth, or just being a reasonable person.”

And in some more severe cases: relations with people you love.

So take Phillips’ advice — no matter how wrapped it may be in layers of vapidly uninteresting soccer references feigning a “holier-than-thou” knowledge of the culture, and just be passionate without being incorrigible.

Ref: http://www.runofplay.com/2011/05/05/your-stupid-rage-2/

Lobster Fest

It was kind of an odd read, “Consider the Lobster.”

My major beef with the essay was its organization. I suppose the brunt of his essay regarded the morality behind cooking a lobster. However, Wallace’s introduction was just long enough that I did not know it was a mere introduction, until the end of the essay when I realized he spent the latter two-thirds of it discussing morality and sensory perception by the lobster in question.

My point is this: perhaps the topic was too broad to make a concise analysis of this major Lobster Festival…which brings me to another transgression: the author’s use of Maine Lobster Festival’s acronym, MLF, was a constant reminder of another, much more impolite, and disrespectful acronym concerning mothers.

Anyway, back to the point. Wallace started off discussing the anatomy of the lobster, followed by the etymology of the word lobster, followed by a few intimate details about the festival itself, followed by the crustecean’s rise from poverty to wealth. Anyway, it read as an organized report until the morality argument dragged on. I think if the essay’s topic were “the morality of eating lobsters,” and Wallace’s focus was this particular Lobster Fest, the essay would have been better developed. This would be adequate reasoning for focusing the entire essay on the animal rights aspect of consuming a lobster.

As a visual, this is how the essay read to me:

iiiiissssssssseefffffffffffffmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

This very well make no sense to my reader, but you can see that the Ms take up a large portion of the total letter line. Each individual letter delineates a broader topic about lobsters that was covered in the essay. A more organized essay, in my head, would have read like this:

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssssssssssssssssssssffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,

or perhaps

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmccccccccccccc.

All this nonsense being said, I enjoyed the essay, although I disagreed with its organization.

preZENtation

One of the most useful tips I took away from the first page of Garr Reynolds’ “presentation zen” blog, besides the fact that I should learn another language on the ASAP, is that the use of effective video in one’s presentation is imperative. I legitimately teared up over Garr’s video of his mother from her wedding day in the 1950s. I want to have the same effect on people through our presentation. Okay, maybe not bittersweet tears, but I want to at least hold their interest through use of video.

I just have NO IDEA HOW TO DO THIS. Perhaps show video of the child stars as we knew them in their moments of innocence? But that’s just depressing. Show that famous YouTube video of Lindsay Lohan where it ages her from 6 years old to 25? Also depressing. This will take some serious consideration from our group. 

What we really need is a vision for our presentation, which at this point no one seems to have. I watch these TED videos and I want my presentation to be no less genius than any one of them, which is impossible. 

Help.

Facebook or die.

It saddens me to admit, but I am quite confident that without one or both of the following modes of communication, I would not be able to maintain the demanding social life of the modern-day 22-year-old: texting and Facebook.

I was a late bloomer with texting. I was not given the ability to text until my sixteenth birthday, which by that time, a majority of the kids in my high school were already texting invites to soccer team dinners, band picnics, movie nights on weekends, etc. Luckily for me, I was in a tight-knit circle of friends, so they acknowledged my social handicap and would always call me if I didn’t receive the mass text. Furthermore, I had “fb” as a backup. Typically, what I missed in text messaging, I made up for in fb “Event Invites.”

Anyway, I digress. To answer this week’s response question regarding “how the communications tools you are using influence (or don’t influence) the kinds of groups or communities you belong to,” I would start by making the brash claim that one cannot function socially without succumbing to the time-wasting world of social networking. I do not like Facebook, I often find myself desiring to “deactivate” it (once you have an account on Facebook, you cannot actually delete it…scary). However, what keeps my account activated is the thought of “missing out” on some big event, or even neglecting my mass video message between my best friends. Those same friends who always called me to keep me socially-informed throughout high school, now live all up and down the east coast and mid-west, and fb is a convenient, albeit soul-sucking, way to keep in touch with them, à la video gossip.

The community I belong to is society; the communications tools necessary: Facebook and texting.

Insights Incite Cultural Cultivation

The single most important line in this reading about how to effectively make your organization collaborative, is as follows: “Organizations even adopt tools for the wrong reasons, primarily the belief that tools will create collaboration. Tools merely offer the potential for collaboration. Unlocking the value of tools happens only when an organization fits tools into collaborative culture and processes.”

Rosen has it right, and is reiterating Shirky’s major point throughout Here Comes Everybody: “Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technology, it happens when society adopts new behaviors.”

How does this relate to our group project? I personally feel that my group has worked together tremendously well thus far. I can say with confidence, that it is the most efficient group I have ever worked with at any point during my many years of schooling, probably because we have the capacity to collaborate, and the tools to cultivate such collaboration. What my group has achieved is a physical manifestation of the notion “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We each have our own responsibilities, but because of the technology of Google Docs, we are all actively made aware of each others’ contributions to our Zine, as well as given the opportunity to interactively edit one another’s works “on the fly.” Thus, each piece we produce has the best of all of our efforts integrated into it.

I think I am fortunate in the sense that Jordan, Trisha, Danny, and I have been working together in such a way that we are able to use collaborative tools to their fullest potential. In this way, we have already remedied the “culture” part of our group so that it is conducive to integrating new collaborative tools. Lucky for us, our group is only at 4 members so we do not have to worry about hierarchy, red tape, or hindered communication. We all communicate with one another, try to be as honest as possible, and as a result, we have had a remarkably pleasant experience working with one another — I think I speak for all of us when I say that.

http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/47984-creating-collaboration-takes-more-than-technology

Celebrizine: Content vs. Medium

We decided to use WordPress to publish Celebrizine, for a couple of reasons. First of all, we all have some experience using the site (because of our personal blogs). Secondly, WordPress is relatively easy to use, understand, and read, while possessing an academic reputation.

The trick to using the site as a Zine is finding a “theme” that supports the elements of a magazine. Basically, it needs to have at least 2 different menu styles (one for articles, and one for miscellaneous), an attractive, professional- looking header, and enough flexibility that is conducive to the group’s “creative juices.” We found a pretty nice theme called “Style,” that is, for our intents and purposes thus far, working nicely with Celebrizine. We are able to put the “About Us,” “Recommendations,” “Artwork,” “Editorial,” and “Mission Statement” as separate pages (with a menu along the top), and then the articles populate much of the space on our homepage, and are arranged by decade.

Anyway, I would call this current WordPress theme our “working model” for our final Zine. It is working thus far, and we are adding to it periodically as we finish individual textual pieces. We shall see if it becomes our final submission for this project, though at this point in time I think it will.

Zines with Breakfast

TK Zine and Long Shot are 48 hour zines. I’m not sold about the idea of this, about what the zines actually accomplish, and about how broad the spectrum of audience actually reached. Okay that last sentence was confusing but so are these zines.

From what I understand, these online magazines were created from top to bottom in 48 hours, which does in fact demonstrate collaborative effort at its most time-sensitive. What this means is that writers, illustrators, editors, experts, amateur bloggers, and data analyzers had to come together to produce unique ideas that would be output in a common medium, under a very broad umbrella theme.

Still skeptical.

What changed me from a skeptic to a supporter was the article about JB’s Comeback Sauce (http://one.longshotmag.com/article/going-for-seconds). So much so, in fact, that I wanted to buy the T-shirt almost immediately. I digress.

What was impressive about this story, and a few others like it (This Isn’t Why You’re Fat, and An American Anniversary), is that it was a quick read that packed a punch. By that, I mean that in the 4 minutes it took me to read the article, I could taste the Comeback Sauce, I could smell the old alcohol and cigarettes on JB’s breath, I wanted to meet the concoct-er of the sauce, and I wanted to immediately practice the ways of the South. Granted, it is my personality to be deeply affected by short inspirational readings of the like, in a very superficial, non-committal way. What this Zine accomplished for me that was different is that it made me believe that I could, or at least I could strive to be a contributor for the next edition of Longshot. It would be great practice, and if selected would be something I could put on a future resume.

What it didn’t do was put me at ease about our upcoming group project…