Monday, January 28, 2013

Dollhouse - Week 2

Does the episode “True Believer” argue anything about the nature of religion? Is Dushku a believable blind woman in this episode? Is everything physiological (or is it, is everything psychological)? That is, is everything of ourselves able to be controlled psychologically (or physiologically)?

Is it important for us to understand the significance of a name like “Rossum” and its origins (if this is actually its origins)? I suppose that we must also consider the use of any sort of “compare and contrast” exercise as well, though that is perhaps beyond the scope of this current study. Feel free to comment anyway, should you wish.

As Alvi points put, Dollhouse is an interesting series in the Whedon oeuvre, precisely because the Davids therein are well-entrenched in the Goliath of Rossum. And that is what makes the show so difficult for some viewers, I think: viewers are introduced to protagonists that are actually antagonists. Alvi also suggests that Goliath wins in Dollhouse, at least for a time.

Please comment.

New Media - Print and its transformation

Readings for this week available here.

For fun, consider this. Brainstorm about a new magazine. What is the title, audience, layout, theme? Glossy paper? Is it a “Christian” magazine? Will you try to have a very large internet presence or not? What is a good price point? Will you start off with a large print run or not? Or will you forgo print altogether?

This week we ask the following questions: What will publishing look like in the future? Is there a future in the book?

Why is print media in trouble?
1) consumers want a rich media experience, delivered the instant they are relevant,
2) ad agencies are becoming accustomed to high standards of accountability (stats regarding page views, etc, that are available on the Internet),
3) high prices of gas, as well as high costs in the inefficient running of various levels of the publishing process,
4) issues regarding the environment and the use of natural resources.

What is the solution:
1) liquid content - content that can be delivered on any medium,
2) a relationship with customers which is more than 1-way delivery of information (interactivity).


Can you think of ebook solutions which have been able to overcome the need for the physical experience of reading books?

Some ereaders work with tiny charged particles, which are black on one side and white on the other. It very much replicates the look of paper.

“When an electric field is applied across an area of this thin sheet of frontplane material, the pigment particles within the microcapsules move in opposite directions, turning one side of the capsules in the area exposed to the electric field white, the other black. Reversing the polarity of the field makes the particles move in the opposite direction, and the white becomes black and the black becomes white.” (Hampshire 31)

This technology is promoted with the claim of little or no eyestrain, and can be looked at in all lighting conditions (except, of course, no light), and uses very little electricity, only required when a page is turned (eg. Amazon Kindle - no backlight, also similar to paper, but perhaps clumsy to work with).

“Paper-based periodicals that do persevere in North America and Europe will do so on a much smaller scale as the stylepress: physically and aesthetically engaging, vibrant creative chroniclers of trends. These will be the last printed magazines.” (Reynard 15)

"Stylepress" is a high-end medium (ie. expensive to produce and buy) which fuses the ephemeral periodical and the longsuffering book. “Such magazines are not produced; they are lived.” (Jan-Willem Dikkers, publisher of Issue magazine)

Is this a bit of an extreme view? Why should the stylepress survive?

Finally, these readings are from 2006. How has the future (2013) turned out?

PW, you will note that there is a New Media Review requirement on the syllabus, but no due date. It is due on March 11. (Anyone else reading can disregard this note - there is no assignment due for you)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Whedon's Dollhouse - Week 1

This is a short post, as the readings are not particularly dense (though Rennebohm's essay does touch on particularly complex and difficult issues).

From the television series Angel: "If there's no great glorious end to all of this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is: what we do now, today."

Do you agree that this is what the show is about, at least at this early stage?

"the unique, specific human body is an integral aspect of identity, not to be forgotten or left behind." (8)

Yes or no? Explain. How much of our identity comes from our human body?

"Identity exists in this moment." What do you think of this?

Is it true that our identity is quite different apart from our physical bodies? Can our identity exist without the physical body? These are not easy questions, and are ones that touch upon theologies and eschatological musings. In any case, I look forward to your responses.

Finally, which of the three episodes for this week worked well, and which did not? Why?

New Media - Blogs

This is the beginning of a directed study on New Media (a very open and general kind of descriptor for what we'll be talking about). I will link to an article (or two) and then pose a few ideas or questions for consideration. So, let's begin the discussion on blogs.

We can begin by asking a few questions (that don't necessarily need to be answered here):

What is “new media”? What is “old media”?

In his forward to the book edited by Quentin J. Schultze and Robert H. Woods Jr., entitled, Understanding Evangelical Media: The Changing Face of Christian Communication (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2008), Clifford Christians states, “The discussion of media technologies—radio, film, books, internet, gaming and the rest—are a venue for the permanent questions about our place in the universe.” (Schultze, 8)

Schultze begins to describe new media: “The idea of mass media has been replaced by networked media. Narrowcasting has replaced broadcasting. Media power has become democratized; low-cost digital production lets younger evangelicals tell stories in multiple venues.” (Schultze, 15)

Narrowcasting can be defined as the dissemination of information to a specific audience (also called niche marketing). It presupposes that there is no such thing as a mass audience.

Podcasts are a type of narrowcast, since they are generally targeted towards a specific sharply-defined audience. Just a note regarding Apple and the podcast - it doesn’t really come from the term "iPod," but it became synonymous with it.

Advertising can be thought of narrowcasting, a kind of persuasion, an attempt to make us think a certain way. It moves in one direction, towards the audience, attempting to sway the consumer is a particular direction.

What about some of the opinions that we have, some that might be coaxed along by narrowcasting, that we hold without firsthand experience? Why do we hold these kinds of opinions and how do we develop them?

Schultze states, “we are inclined to use communication, including media, to support our existing views of reality. We pick and choose media according to what we want, what we enjoy, what we like to discuss with others. For instance, Christian contemporary music fans download more of it than do the music’s detractors. We use media to mediate our experience of reality in tune with our interests and desires, even our religious beliefs. If we don’t like U2 or Amy Grant, we spend time with friends who share our criticisms. We like to know that we have got it right, even self-righteously so!” (Schultze 20)

“those shared definitions of reality function like shared maps that help us navigate life by making judgments about faith and culture, including popular culture.” (Schultze 20)

Take a look at this article: Qian, Hua and Craig R. Scott. “Anonymity and Self-Disclosure in Weblogs.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12:4 (2007).

What are the authors' points in the article? Do you agree or disagree?

Also, take a look at the following blog posting, which suggests how to write good blog postings. Is this useful?

Finally, are blogs now a thing of the past? If so, what has replaced them? If not, how long will they last?