Adaptations, Remixes, and Mashups Module Progress

This particular module was very product-based.  As such, my goal was to produce a mashup (preferably a trailer mashup given my video-editing experience).  Over the holiday, my brother happened to see my dad and I watching the Sunday talk shows.  He commented that the rise of Donald Trump reminded him of House of Cards.  I decided to take this idea and run with it.  I viewed recent trailers for the show, and decided to use the song from the third season called Counting Bodies Like Sheep by A Perfect Circle.  I then searched for various clips of Donald Trump, including ones depicting protests against him, Rubio’s concession speech, and Chris Christie’s famous facial expressions.  I then combined these in a trailer-esque video (taking maybe 4-5 hours) and uploaded it to YouTube.

YouTube immediately tagged the video as having copyrighted content.  As such, it was blocked in one country (Germany), and blocked on mobile devices.  In addition, the claimant will be able to place ads on my video.  While these restrictions are somewhat annoying, the video remains largely available.

Mapping Your Device Reflection

Our tear-down product was a 2013 Nintendo 2DS.  The process required some finagling, as one of the screws was stripped, but we were eventually able to open the device and begin examining individual components.

teardown 1

The research process was very interesting.  I actually couldn’t gain much information from my particular assigned components (a lithium ion battery and the 3D camera).  The camera had only one serial number, and internet searches yielded no results (other than replacement information).  The lithium ion battery was produced in China, which is not known for being particularly transparent, and much of the information was written in Japanese.  However, I began researching the CPU, RAM and GPU, and those yielded much better results.  Internet searches took me to various articles that allowed me to identify production companies, and I was able to find websites for each of these companies (the ones based in Japan were the most difficult).  This allowed me to locate the street locations of their headquarters (including those based in Japan, thanks to Chrome’s translation abilities).  However, I was not able to narrow down factory information.  I tried going to Nintendo’s website to see if I could gain some more insight, and found that all of their production is outsourced to other companies, creating a layer between Nintendo and the actual factories.  In fact, it wasn’t clear to me whether or not Nintendo even has a record of all of the factories indirectly working for them, and that information was certainly not available.  Since most of the production companies appeared to be based in Asia, where working conditions are not known for being particularly good, I wasn’t too surprised to find that most of these production companies were not forthcoming with their factory information.  However, because I wasn’t able to find factory information, and none of my components had four digit dates, I was unable to pinpoint the exact time of production for my components, but would estimate them as 2013 products.

Overall, my particular contribution to the research was very location based, and it was interesting to see the wide range of contributions that led to the creation of the 2DS, with input from areas as far flung as Britain and Japan.  It also indicated to me that many companies are not very transparent.  Nintendo stated that they conduct tours of facilities to examine conditions, but does not provide factory locations allowing independent entities to confirm these results.  The fact that I was unable to find street addresses for actual production facilities makes me personally question the quality of those facilities.  If the information isn’t public, there is probably a reason that it isn’t…

The full results of our tear-down can be seen on our StoryMap.

Digital Archaeology Reflection

Our group worked well together to accomplish our goals.  Brooke provided the Nintendo 2DS and tools necessary for the physical teardown.  Danielle provided much of the documentation of the teardown by taking pictures and posting them to a slack group for this project.  Ahad actually called Nintendo to try to gain information from them, and went to the ThinkLab to get some help with the device teardown.  Everyone divvied up the component pieces for research in a divide and conquer manner.  We all worked together through Google Drive to create our presentation, and used a joint gmail account to create a StoryMap that we could all edit and contribute to.  I think there was a fair amount of procrastination in updating the StoryMap, but I know everyone was doing research.

Debate

I volunteered to give the speeches given my previous debate experience.  Since I was familiar with value driven debate (Lincoln-Douglas style) that was the framework I approached the resolution from.  I argued four main contentions. One, utilizing these products while knowing that they have been produced by slavery condones the slavery and perpetuates it by contributing to the very profits that drive it.  Two, we live in a capitalist society driven by profits.  This means that buying these products directly encourages slavery, and, in contrast, redirecting these profits to clean products can lead to meaningful change.  Three, consumers have power in a capitalist society and have a moral obligation to use that power.  And finally, humans have an obligation to improve the quality of life (“conditions which contribute to making life more than a struggle for survival; elevating life beyond a needs-only existence” (angelfire)) for all through act utilitarianism, which “contends that on each occasion one should do whatever act will produce the greatest good” (angelfire).  In this case, redirecting our purchasing habits is the act that will produce the most good, due to consequentialism, which argues that an act or rule is acceptable or moral because of the outcomes incurred by that act or rule.

During the rebuttals, I argued that these choices won’t lead to economic collapse.  Rather, companies will adapt, which is the beauty of capitalism.  Furthermore, the affirmative position has proven feasibility.  Nokia is a phone company that our group found which has been clean since 2001, indicating that it is quite possible to redirect our spending habits to facilitate companies that do not utilize slave labor.  The negative side argued that we cannot implement change all at once, and cited historical examples from Cuba and the Middle East.  But each of these were interventionist top-down policies, whereas the affirmative position is a bottom up, consumer-driven change, which negates our opponents’ counter-point.  The negative position argued that we should support activist organizations and raise awareness.  I argued that this is an excellent idea, but this doesn’t negate our moral obligation to change our spending habits to maximize the quality of life through act utilitarianism and consequentialism.

Interestingly, I actually personally agree more with the negative position.  I’ve previously participated in discussions about the economic utilization of slavery in the world in my human geography class.  While I think it is important for individuals to try to change their spending habits when possible to discourage slavery, oftentimes this isn’t possible.  Many don’t have the financial flexibility to shop around for clean products, and I find it infeasible that enough people can change their spending habits to make slavery a non-profitable venture.  In this manner, I agree with the negative position that argues that we should instead work to support activist organizations and raise awareness.  This can bring these issues to the attention of more powerful entities who can try to target the underlying causes of slavery (corruption, lack of a stable government in these areas, etc.).

Wikipedia Module Reflection

Over the course of this module, I became much more familiar with Wikipedia.  I started off slowly, learning how to edit existing articles after creating an account.  This allowed me to learn how to cite sources using the website (a wonderfully easy and automatic process) and link phrases to existing Wikipedia articles.  The contributions I made to two existing pages remain today.

Then, mostly using Wikipedia’s articles that covered creating/formatting new pages, I began the trial-and-error process of learning to create a new article.  My first article was taken down within a few hours, even after contesting the proposed deletion.  But the experience made me more familiar with Wikipedia standards.  I learned the mechanical process of creating an article, in addition to utilizing the talk page to discuss articles.  These experiences helped guide another group member to form a Wikipedia page on William M. Anderson, Jr.  I helped establish and edit the article, addressing some concerns brought up on the talk page.  This article is still available, with no warnings or notices, over twenty-four hours later.

Ultimately the process familiarized me with the issues many people have with Wikipedia.  I had heard that it is notoriously difficult to create a new page, and I soon learned for myself that this is the case.  I realized I was limited by the information I had available to me.  After all, I could only create pages for people I was at least somewhat familiar with.  In addition, I also faced the more well-known difficulties of trying to meet Wikipedia’s standards.  Even assuredly notable people can be difficult to create articles for.  However, as our group learned, it is not impossible.  I am very proud of our success in creating a new page despite the barriers and hurdles placed in front of us.  Now that I’ve learned how to work with Wikipedia, I will probably continue to edit and contribute to any articles I come across that have inaccurate or outdated information, thus adding to one of the most widely used sources of information on the Internet.  In this way, I found the module to be extremely practical, as I will probably continue to use these skills in the future.

Wikipedia Module Progress Update

After relaying the story of my failed Wikipedia article creation, one of my group members discovered that William M. Anderson, Jr. (the same Anderson of the Anderson Center) didn’t have a Wikipedia article.  Seeing as he was president of the university for over 20 years, we agreed that it could be reasonably argued that he is a notable individual.  After establishing the article, another user communicated with us on the talk page, suggesting that we add some more non-UMW sources to help prove that Anderson is a notable individual.  After adding a few more references, he thanked us for creating the page, and another user reviewed the page and appeared to approve it.  No warnings or notices appear on the page now, and a day later, it seems to have stuck.  Mission accomplished: a Wikipedia page has been successfully created!  It can be viewed at the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Anderson,_Jr.

Wikipedia Module Progress

My first step was to set up a Wikipedia account and ease myself into the mechanics of editing.  I first added some updates to some biographies, both of which appear to have stuck.

I then decided to up the ante and attempt creating my own Wikipedia article.  I asked a former teacher turned principal for permission, which she graciously granted, and began gathering some research and articles to ensure I could add credible citations.  I then used the Wikipedia articles on creating a new page and formatting to begin creating an article.  The raw input can be seen below.

My third editsBut almost immediately after publishing the article, I received a warning, which stated, “This article may meet Wikipedia’s criteria for speedy deletion as an article about a real person that does not credibly indicate the importance or significance of the subject.”  I contested the speedy deletion and formally argued my point’s regarding my subject’s significance on the talk page, garnering a reply from another user, who asked. “What reliable sources do you have that indicate that these increases and changes are enough to make her notable at a national or global level?”  I then began linking items in my article to established Wikipedia page, added more of my subject’s various awards, and added to my references list.  Alas, to no avail.  The next morning I checked my page and found the following announcement.  “Sorry, this page was recently deleted (within the last 24 hours).  The deletion and move log for the page are provided below for reference.”  Interestingly, the user who deleted my page was not the same user who had been communicating with me on the talk page.

I have heard that creating Wikipedia articles is an arduous task that some feel is rather unfair, and now I have experienced this process myself.

 

 

 

Explaining Neuromancer

Our Digital Archaeology group decided to create a gif set.  Four out of the five members had been a part of the  gif module, and thus had a fair amount of experience making gifs.  The goal was to use repetitive visual imagery in a creative way to express some of the main aspects and themes of the book.  We used clips from existing media to allow viewers to compare these newly presented ideas to familiar ones.  For example, we used cowboy imagery to depict Case, visually describing some of his major character traits (reserved, effective, dark past).  We also used visual imagery to illustrate one of the most famous lines in the book: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”  Such comparisons and visualizations were also used to depict the novel’s coverage of artificial intelligence, cyberspace, and other concepts.  By using these comparisons and visualizations, hopefully viewers can have a better idea of what topics, ideas, and places are depicted in Neuromancer, by allowing them to reference these aspects to known ones.

This gif set can be found at the following link.

Responding to Neuromancer

Neuromancer provides intriguing insight into the predictions, concerns, and thoughts of a time that is on the cusp of the digital age.  Gibson’s book provides a dark vision of the future world, filled with drugs, casual sexual encounters, and an underworld of technological crime.  It’s interesting to see that Gibson’s imagined digital crime scene is so tangible and dramatic, linked with drugs and heists and danger (as opposed to today’s most unfortunately common identity theft).  While part of this may be simply a way to drive the narrative forward, it may also hint that he and others during this time believed that these various types of crime, despite their differing contexts, would come together in a similar atmosphere.

Another interesting aspect to consider is a historical one.  While geopolitical affairs are not at the heart of story, the few conflicts that are mentioned are telling.  Armitage was supposedly a part of a conflict involving Russia, reminding us that this novel was written in 1984 during the Reagan administration, which briefly heightened the Cold War.

Technological crime is also depicted as very action-oriented.  Case is a sort of cowboy in the digital world, harkening back to a very glamorized portrayal of a man-of-action, often seen in Westerns.  While the heroes of these stories were often flawed, they were depicted as “doers”, even if they participated reluctantly.  It’s interesting to see Gibson bring in these classic narrative elements, and apply them to a novel that helps establish a new genre of cyber punk.

This hints at the relevancy of the novel, even 30+ years later.  Our modern understanding of hacking and cyberspace are very different from how they are portrayed in Neuromancer.  But despite this, many of the themes and tropes Gibson fleshes out continue to be explored by modern sci-fi films and novels.  A reluctant digitally savvy protagonist is seen in popular movies such as The Matrix.  The dangers of artificial intelligence are seen in I, Robot.  This last aspect in particular demonstrates some common concerns across generations.  Could humanity be threatened by its own creations, similar to how Cronus overthrew his father, and was in turn overthrown by Zeus?  What is sentience?  What is free will?  Can they truly be created?  These questions, raised by Gibson, continue to be pondered today.

 

Animated Gif Module Reflection

Over the course of this module, my main goal was to learn how to make gifs myself in an easy and reliable manner, hopefully allowing me to contribute my own artistic tribute to my favorite fandoms.  My previous experience with gifs was workable, but was a more tedious and involved process.  Using Jim Groom’s BavaTuesdays site as a launching platform, I found giphy as a faster and easier alternative.  I experimented with the site extensively, cranking out 18 gifs over the course of this module (which can be found here).  My early gifs were largely attempts to isolate amusing moments in a repetitive manner.  In contrast, my later ones focused on the more artistic side of giffing (the verb form was named the 2012 Oxford Dictionaries USA word of the year), finding repetitive moments that could be looped in a way that made them appear continuous and fluid.  The practice helped me develop an eye for these moments, and hopefully allowed me to become more adept at making the corresponding gifs.  This makes me feel optimistic about incorporating giffing into my collection of hobbies (in addition to meme-making and video-editing).  By that standard, I would say that I successfully reached my goal of mastering a very efficient way to make gifs.

I also found some interesting background information on the gif (through Jim Groom’s site and reputable sources in the Wikipedia references section) that helped provide a “big-picture” view of its usage as a medium.  I was less intrigued by the origin of the gif, and more interested with how it became popularized in its modern form.  Looking at its incorporation into Tumblr and Facebook, it became clear to me that these online forums democratized the gif.  Easier ways to share creations with the world helped popularize the gif, and popularizing it no doubt contributed to the development of online gif-makers.  As such, almost anyone can successfully make a gif, and most active internet users have at the bare minimum been exposed to gifs (whether or not they recognize their label).  This popularization even culminated in a  major dictionary recognition, solidifying the gif’s popularity in the 21st century.

Overall during the course of this module, I developed a newfound respect for the gif.  It’s much more than a gimmicky device.  By isolating a moment and repeating it continuously, the gif invites us to analyze and appreciate the mechanics of a scene, thus providing a very intriguing artistic aspect to the gif.  These isolations can also be used to provide commentary that better expresses reactions (one of the weaknesses of an online setting) in a funny or even insightful way.  Its democratization as a medium allows the public to mine these moments for themselves, thus individualizing the gif while retaining the ability to share it with a broad audience.