My Entry to Wikipedia

I created a page about Ghandi and the Catfish, the rock band I was in during high school.  The url is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghandi_and_the_catfish.  Though the Wikipedia guidelines stated not to create a page about something of insignificance like a garage band, I felt that, as one of the most successful bands to form in my hometown, we were very notable.  Also, I wanted to see what would happen if I created such a page with limited citations, and how soon Wikipedia would be concerned with such a page.  It turns out, that within an hour, Wikipedia had proposed that my page be deleted.  It has given me seven days, at most, to try to improve my page with more citations or to make it more notable.

Included in this post are screenshots of my page and my edits, just in case they decide to delete the page earlier than expected.  My username, visible in the editing screenshot as well as the first screenshot, is Vonheidleburgstrout.

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A Close Look at a Digital Gallery

Rather than discuss a particular example of digital or hybrid art, I want to take a close look at a digital or hybrid gallery.  My reasons for this are 1) I am woefully ignorant of cutting-edge trends in art and feel unjustified in offering my opinion on one piece when it probably is the first piece I’ve seen set in that medium, 2) I frequent digital galleries often when I am consciously looking for art and thus feel more comfortable discussing the gallery as a whole as both a viewer and a contributor, and 3) I believe that the digital gallery is just as important a change in the art world as digital or hybrid art itself, as it has revolutionized how artists present their work, be it traditional paintings or new media interactive experiences.

The specific gallery I want to look at is called deviantART, at deviantart.com.  One of the largest online galleries, deviantART contains millions of pieces, from drawings to photographs, paintings to animations, and 3D models to sculptures.  Any artist can sign up for free and upload images of their art to the site, allowing other members to comment and critique on their works.  It also provides opportunities for artists to sell their works, through prints or delivery, and most importantly, provides a showcase just for simply showing one’s art to the world.  In a way, it has replaced the traditional, physical art gallery while including other art forms and expanding its functions as a gift shop, as well as offering an artist’s forum and community.  In short, deviantART has exposed every facet of the art world to the online public, and vice-versa.

When one reaches deviantART’s home page, one is greeted by a selection of random images: recent, popular entries into the gallery.  It immediately shows a visitor what others on the site are looking at and creating, or in a way what the latest fashionable thing in the art world is.  Of course, fan-fiction drawings, cute pictures of animals, and anime cartoons aren’t what most in the high-art world would call “art,” but in the online community, it is the users who determine what is popular, quite contrary to whatever elite, shadowy machinations drive high-art in the physical world. (The previous comment is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but honestly, I have no idea who or what decides what art is valuable or interesting, much like why some things are considered “fashionable” or not.)  It may be the case that in both the digital art world—full as it is with LOLcats, flash animations, and computer programmers—and the physical high-art world taking place in swanky galleries in high-rises, democracy and popular opinion is what determines something’s worth, but this is much more evident in the digital arena, where one can easily see what others are looking at across the site.  It should be noted that in this digital world, it is not just artists and art-enthusiasts looking at art, but rather anybody and everybody.  Casual viewers and enthusiastic Star-Wars nerds, let’s say, may skew the results of what’s popular if a cool drawing of Darth Vader shows up.  It may not be to everyone’s taste, it may not be considered art by some, but it still will attract a lot of attention.  Considering this, deviantART could be described not so much by the term “art gallery,” but “image gallery,” or “anything gallery.”

If the recent popular entries don’t satiate one’s own taste for art, deviantART includes thousands of categories to peruse, offering nearly anything for someone searching for new art.  One could spend days looking at everything, reading comments, and trying to understand certain artists.  The amount of art is staggering.  Looking for inspiration for your own drawing?  Observe some pencil sketches by talented people.  Trying to find a nice landscape picture?  Search in the photography category and get carried off to distant lands.  The thing is, it’s all free.  Inspiration and beauty are at the tips of one’s fingers, located somewhere amidst the millions of uploaded pieces.

In the way of animations and film, deviantART is unique among art galleries in that one can watch cartoons or movies with the volume up, in the comfort of one’s home.  The digital medium allows easy access to animations and film, where one is able to view them at any time.  The addition of this form of art in public showcases is quite new.  Yes, filmmakers had film festivals in which to present their work, but now anybody can create and upload their “artistic” video or animation and display it alongside fancy and intricate oil paintings.  It is an interesting juxtaposition, but an incredibly convenient way of reaching everybody.

It is through this type of public showing that artists, who once would have never made money off their works, now sell their pieces or prints to complete strangers across the country.  In the deviantART shop, one can look at artworks up for sale and purchase them directly from the artist though PayPal.  Again, art is available at the tip of one’s fingers.  If looking at images on a screen gets tiring and one must simply have a full-scale print or original painting to hang in the room, then it is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse and few dollars out of the account.

Of course, there are arguments to be made against this digital domain of art.  One of the appeals of the physical art gallery, after all, is the presentation of the original pieces, situated in careful lighting and meaningful locations.  It is an experience unto itself to observe art in a gallery, to be so close to a piece as to touch it, and remark upon its meaning with friends and other art patrons.  Often a series of pieces of art are presented to give an overall theme or meaning that can only be accomplished by having all of them together at once, in a certain order, or a certain way.  None of this is possible with the current digital gallery of deviantART.  The website is a more of a warehouse of information and images than a refined and polished room of paintings on walls.  The experience of a physical gallery is not reproducible digitally (at least not yet, not until immersive virtual reality exists) so for now, deviantART excels at being convenient and expansive, rather than specific and memorable.  It is good for showing one’s work, or more precisely, a picture of one’s work, to the whole world, getting feedback and communicating with others.  It is not so good for producing a carefully crafted artistic experience full of meaning and adventurous thought.

With all of this in mind, deviantART and other digital art galleries like it seem like something entirely new and unique.  Borrowing aspects of physical galleries, but not reproducing them, and taking inspiration from social network sites, deviantART is something different for artists and art-enthusiasts.  It is representative of the new digital age with its focus on masses of information and easy communication, but it hearkens back to a time of intimate experiences with thought-provoking artworks.  In essence, it is a perfect example of how the still young digital world is interacting with and affecting the old physical world.  It is a piece of art itself, straddling the line of digital and non-digital in a kind of harmony, pointing to those different aspects of humanity that we attempt to explore in art:  our need to explore, to be a part of something greater, to live in a changing world.

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“Defining Porn” Presentation

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Online Class Activity Suggestions

Online Class Activity Suggestions

1.       Subscribe anonymously to reddit.com and start a new post in the r/IAmA page at reddit.com/r/IAmA.  This page is a place where the main purpose is to tell the reddit community who you are, what you do, or anything else about you, and have them ask questions about you.  Though you don’t have to disclose what you look like or your name, you can be honest about your life, which may be a strange and new experience on the internet for some.

 

Article: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=iR3ApcYiILwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA27&dq=online+identity&ots=ovR9TRE1Ya&sig=Jr21_oiHQR0g0pkdvMhEgWBq4BA#v=onepage&q=online%20identity&f=falseach

 

In this article, the author provides a framework for thinking about online identity, both honest and anonymous.  She explores the consequences of intentionally deceiving people online as well as those of honestly revealing truths or exploring personal topics.

 

2.       As a class, record or log how many hours a day each person spends on the internet, and what their purpose or activity is.  Compare the results to the article below, and see who qualifies as an internet addict.

 

Article: http://www.encognitive.com/files/Internet%20Over-Users%27%20Psychological%20Profiles–%20A%20Behavior%20Sampling%20Analysis%20on%20Internet%20Addiction.pdf

 

3.       If the class is willing to skirt legal gray areas, a suggestion would be to visit piracy websites and torrent sites and download music, or at least see what is available for download.  Personal experience has shown that such a large exposure to un-listened-to and free music often results in increased purchases from likeable bands.  Whether it be by supporting them by seeing live shows or legitimately buying albums, a new fan is a new fan, and probably means new money coming in.  It would be interesting to see what new music people come to like given the opportunity to listen to it for free.  Or perhaps, people will find the experience worrisome or not worthwhile.  Ac context, this article provides an analysis of music piracy and its effects on the recoding industry.

 

Article: http://rcirib.ir/articles/pdfs/cd1%5CIngenta_Sage_Articles_on_194_225_11_89/Ingenta933.pdf

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My Presentation on Porn

Click here for my power point presentation:

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Essay On Avatars

The_RedWonder

Recently I created my first avatar to represent myself online.  It is a simple avatar, comprised only of a cartoon head, but I created it to connect to an online persona I had already developed years ago.  My “Booksaboutrocks” identity that this blog represents is a very recent creation, made partly as an attempt to have a more “mature” identity when I need it.  This college course is an example of such a time, or so I originally thought.  However, my previous identity–which I still use quite frequently–goes by the name of The_RedWonder, and that is the online identity to which my avatar correlates.  The_RedWonder is my username for many online games as well as informal forums, and my avatar reflects this informal attitude.  Ideally, I think of my online identity as part mysterious, part bad-ass, and part nerd–the good kind of nerd.  I have enough sense to know, however, that most of the time The_RedWonder just appears nerdy and mediocre at games (with the exception of Battlefield: Bad Company 2.  The_RedWonder consistently rocks at that game.)  Not one to be easily dismayed by my own lackluster online presence, I created my avatar to suit what The_RedWonder stands for.  He chews a cigar in his mouth to indicate toughness and a down-to-earth attitude; a mask covers his eyes to hide his true identity; and fiery red hair covers his face to make him, well, red.  As an added touch, I included a chin-strap beard, for I have occasionally grown one out in the real world.  This hair, and the redness of said hair, is the only connection to the real-world me.  Everything else is an idealization of this specific online identity.

To compare my avatar with another, I want to look at one belonging to an online presence known as The Oatmeal.  The Oatmeal draws and publishes web comics on his (he is a he, in fact) own website and his avatar can be seen either here: http://digg.com/oatmeal, or here: http://twitter.com/oatmeal.  On digg.com especially, The Oatmeal is an active presence interacting with many people.  Users of the Digg community, for some reason, always “digg” his new webcomics, thus bringing them to a wider audience.  As a result of this, The Oatmeal frequently talks with other users and we get a unique opportunity to see both his identity through his comics as well as his informal role as just another online user.  His avatar suits his persona perfectly.  It depicts a man drawn in The Oatmeal’s signature style, with crazy eyes and mouth and comprised only of grayish blobs.  Behind him, stars, hearts, and rainbows color the background, inviting the viewer in to his magical realm, the magical realm of course being his website, where humor is combined with disturbing images and incredibly logical arguments, and where he makes his money.  A new user looking at the avatar for the first time will probably be confused.  The contrasting gray and explosion of color, the euphoric/unsettling scene, and the seemingly unrelated username all contribute to this feeling.  In the forums, though, one quickly realizes The Oatmeal is a comedian first and foremost, and this revelation quickly spurs one to wonder what in the hell his comics are like, given his unique and hectic art style.  His avatar works perfectly as a representation of his larger identity as a comic artist, and draws people in from around the internet to his identity’s home: theoatmeal.com.

These two avatars, mine and his, attempt to convey an identity online to other people, but what is it that makes it exactly an identity?  I found an interesting description forthis by an Identity and Access Architect for the Microsoft Corporation named Kim Cameron.  Cameron says that an online or digital identity is “a set of claims made by one digital subject about itself or another digital subject” (http://www.identityblog.com/?p=352).  Using this description, we can say that The_RedWonder is a digital identity because it makes a claim, through its avatar and its actions, that it is cool, mysterious, and has a decent chance of beating you in a video game.  The Oatmeal is a digital identity because it makes a claim, through its avatar and its forum discussions as well as its comics, that it is uniquely humorous and quick-witted.  In addition, many of his comics deal with other digital identities, thus making claims about them and further fulfilling Cameron’s definition.

Furthering this discussion of identity, David Bell, in his book Introduction to Cybercultures, claims that the way we think of identity in digital terms is changing.  We are moving away from conceptualizing it in terms of “unity, origin stories, stability, and so on” and thinking about more in terms of “process, multiplicity, construction” (114, 115 see: http://www.movingimages.info/digitalmedia/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/BellIdent.pdf).  For The Oatmeal and The_RedWonder, this makes perfect sense.  It wasn’t until today that The_RedWonder had a pictorial representation, thus refining his identity into something more concrete.  The Oatmeal continues to put out new comics, thus changing the context of his avatar and online reputation.  Both identities can pop on and offline in an instant, becoming active or nonactive, progressing their own identity or leaving it in the context of only what it’s already done.

So we see that the avatar is the first representation of what can possibly be an even larger identity.  For The_RedWonder it’s gaming and the occasional discussion on forums.  For The Oatmeal it’s an entire personal website.  Each avatar tries to convey its own meaning to other online identities, as a sort of first impression.  But that impression may not always last online.  The_RedWonder may be cool right now, but after a few lousy games or a couple of careless remarks in an online discussion, it may become a completely different identity altogether.

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First Blog Entry: Assigment 1 for ENGL3116

I have many uncertainties about this class.  The name itself, “Digital Media,” hardly means anything to me at all, it’s so vague.  What does it mean to be “digital,” and what separates digital “media” from anything else digital?  Is a digital clock visible on your monitor screen “media?”  I don’t think so, but on the other hand some I’ve seen plenty of unimpressive youtube videos that hardly count as anything special either.  At least the clock is useful.

I am uncertain about the format of this course.  What are we going to study?  There’s so much stuff on the internet, so much of it that I don’t know (and so much of it that is just porn), that I don’t know who can even say what we should study.  Who has the authority to say, “Listen here, these websites are good for studying and these other ones suck.”  It’s daunting but entirely liberating at the same time.  It’s like I’m a plane crash survivor who’s washed up on an isolated island where anything can happen.  It could easily turn into “The Lord of the Flies” island, or on the other hand it could become “Gilligan’s Island.”  I’m thinking most likely it’ll be the “Lost” island, though.  I’ll learn a bunch of crazy stuff, but in the end have no idea what to think.

I expect to write a few papers in this course, as is only natural in an English class.  I also expect to dabble in creating my own digital media, as well as–and this is most important–finding out what that actually means.  I expect to think about the internet, literature, and “media” in a different way, to see how they interact and evolve.  Maybe I’ll get a glimpse of the future: the future of internet studies.  Who knows?  I think what I most expect out of this course is to be surprised.

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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