Assignment #3

For the final media analysis project, I choose to work with the digital archive Valley in the Shadow of Death which pertains to the role two seperate towns played during the Civil War.  I choose this site for the following reasons:

  • The site has a complex structure modeled after an actual library with extensive research files.
  • This topic interests me as I have already done presentations AT Manassas and Gettysburg National Parks.
  • The setup has interactive material, such as maps and newspaper articles.

War is the best thing to ever happen to Planet Earth

After watching Red vs Blue in class the other day, I have to say my interest was definetly awoken.  Later that night I went home and watched some more episodes.  Isn’t it ironic how movies became video games in the beginning, for example: Medal of Honor is a spin off of Saving Private Ryan and numerous Batman video games were made.  This followed the trend of popular movies become sitcoms.  But now the role has been reversed of video games becoming blockbuster movies.  Here are few, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and Doom.  So it is only a matter of time before video games become sitcoms as well?  NOT taking a stance on this, but how indoctrinated will today’s youth be with violence and gaming? Not a sermon, just a thought.

Exploratory Writing – Never Stop Exploring

In Lexia to Perplexia, the story seems to be centered around format and webpage structure.  On most of the pages, two eyes dictate where the information appears.  This serves a dual purpose to this piece because throughout the textual segment the "I" is mentioned.  In addition, the eye is crucial is read the small lettering on each page which mirrors how a reader would have to adjust when using HTML tags and commands.  This leads to the next feature of the webpage using tags and brackets to seperate text.  Perhaps the best example of this play on HTML is "Sign.Mud.Fraud."

The Bomar Gene is seperated into nine genes or interactive pages.  Each interative page has two parts.  The first part is a story, which could be fiction or non-fiction.  The other part is an interactive "game" using a diagram, photographs, or maps which require the user to "decode" the options and put them in a logical order.  Just as if a scientist were trying to map the human genome or the DNA sequence.  The story functions as the story beyond the science which gives signifance to the fact the narrative talks about a unique gene in all of us and that we are more than just cells and plasma, but a soul lies within the body.

In Lexia to Perplexia, a select set of lexia, which are only activated by using a previous set of lexia, are used to direct the reader throughout the network of pages.  The Bomar Gene lays out all the text and images on a scrolling set of numbers and the user is free to click on any number at any time.  The Bomar Gene is more complex when it comes to interactivity, but Lexia to Perplexia has more layers.


Weekly Post- All My creativity was spent on Media Analysis #2

On page 36 of Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media, the variability of new media is discussed.  I related his discussion of new media back to the recent focus on hypertext based on several key passages in this section.  Manovich writes, "A new media object is not something fixed once and for all, but something that can exist in different, potentially infinite versions."  Before new media came about in the form of webpages and "flash" movies, once a literary work was published then the plot and story was finalized.  But often in hypertexts, they are so complex that the structure often mirrors a great circle as to make it almost impossible to discern where the narrative ends.  Therefore, the creator or author can easily add segments connected by images or links into the story with little or no alert being raised by the reader.  As a result, the elements of that hypertext are indefinetly variable.  One of the greatest examples of a new media/hypertext would be Wikipedia where a user can edit the material or update the subject.  This is in direct opposition, to a subscriber constantly having to purchase the Encyclopedia Brittanica every year.  Quite a contrast between 10 years ago and now.

Weekly Post

I choose to write about Stealing My Letters because it seemed alot more tame than the images which showed up on VORN and because the Stealing My Letters website seemed closer to the concept of hypertextual media.  At first I thought of the concept of a public chat room with all the different people using letters, only in this case two or three or more people just drag all the letters to the corner which I would compare to BOTs(automated advertisements for sex sites) that always pop up in chat rooms limiting communication.  The similarity that I found to hypertext is that there are constantly obstacles to the next path you want to take, which in many cases frustrate the reader to a point where you’d really rather not continue.  This was true for me in ZORK and Hitchhiker’s Guide.  As for other hypertexts such as afternoon, the reader has to adapt and be patient to try to get to the end just as in Stealing My Letters, you need a strategy and patience to get your word.

Television..Society’s Achilles Heel

The first thing I noticed when I started to read The Color of Television were the symbols within the text and the side comments.  I decided to follow the symbol which is the same for BioHazardous Material because I was hoping it would take me somewhere more interesting than what would appear at the surface to be a routine life between Harry and Lorraine.  Another reason I chose this icon was because at first the story reminded me of Space Odyssey 2001 back in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The biohazard symbol brought to my head the voice of the robot repeating "Danger Will Robinson."  Another reason I was brought back to this show is because it describes and there is an illustration of the old tubes that used to go into Televisions before cable and satellites. As a result a wierd sense of nostalgia emerged.  It is also ironic, because Space Odyssey 2001 looks into the future while The Color of Television looks back in the past at technology before super computers and references to Stalingrad. 

Eventually I got to a scene where Saul (I assume the son perhaps?) strips a woman.  He strips her down to her bare bones.  Saul is insane and acts more like a beast than a man.  Just as a beast would tear off the muscles from the bones.  It is also mentioned that he eats a cockroach.  In combination with the judgement statements that are made in the margins of each page and Saul’s behavior towards a woman coming on to him in a shop, I drew the following interpetation:  Saul is a representation of the modern reclusive male.  Men today, including young men, have become infatuated with the internet, chat rooms, online dating services, and XXX sites.  As a result, many men become frustrated in "real life" situations, such as courtship or other social relationships, because they don’t know how to act because technology including television and mostly computers have isolated them.

Ultimately the color of television, just like the 18 varities of eyes that can be purchased, is just an illusion of reality.

Afternoon, Set of Lexia

The first page I came upon which caught my attention and had some juicy material upon which I could run with was the lexia titled [yes3].  In this lexia, the narrator in this section, Peter, and Wert discuss a nurse at the local hospital named Lolly.  This lexia is important because it show’s Wert’s character for who he really is: a jackass.  The foul language that is used provides a further taste of the bitterness found within the story.  The way they describe Lolly’s "dyke" activities illustrates the contempt the characters have for each other throughout the story. It this is contempt and lack of trust between all of the characters that block Peter from finding out the truth about his son’s death…if it really happened.
At this lexia, I clicked the word "jealousy".  Jealousy is the bedfellow of contempt so it was logical to follow this train of thought.  The first thing I noticed was that the next lexia was titled [yes6]. Then I began to realize that perhaps "yes" was the truth that no one really wanted to admit.  On the first page, the following passage takes place: “I decided to provoke him. <And an occasional dick?> I ask <Sounds like some jealousy there>." The character questioned never gives a direct answer and instead redirects the focus.  The first line on [yes6] is: “<Are you sleeping with her?> he asks.  There are candies in a crystal dish in front of me. I pick one and unwrap it carefully.” Again the character in question, who is the narrator this time, stalls and diverts the focus.  The last line was incredible because it was so thick with meaning.  The candies represented the truth which the narrator seeks but also the lustful nature of some of the characters throughout the play including his wife, Wert, Lolly and Desmond.  The crystal dish was symbolic of the fragility of life.  The wrapper represented the layers of superficiality that had to be taken off.
I selected the word sleeping which took me to the next lexia titled [Lovers].  It is unclear who the narrator is on this page, perhaps the therapist or Lisa, the wife.  Both Wert and Peter are described and it is stated that is their differences that make them attractive.  Wert is described as self-centered, rash, raw, young and energetic like a “sinner.”  Peter is described as more dense and complicated.  What is odd is that by the end of this page, the narrator admits she would sleep with both of them.  This raised the question that maybe the accident and unraveling of the circle of characters was a punishment by fate or God.
I clicked on “sinner.” Next page was titled, [Touching Myself].  The narrator continues comparing her lust for both characters of Wert and Peter.  She compares it to masturbation because with Peter it is familiarity and with Wert it is compulsive.  A key insight to this particular narrator is the line, “I am certain they both believe they have me.  They share that sense of the man’s cliché: wife and whore, and I am the woman without complications.”
This whole set of lexia revolves around the title of “YES.” Even the last page titled, [Touching Myself] links back to a page with the heading of [Yes].   The yes plays two parts in this series.  In one aspect the Yes is the truth underneath the layers, even under the bedcovers, lies, and denials of the characters.  The yes, ties in to the lust aspect for obvious reasons but also because some of the characters can’t say no and commit unsavory acts.

Afternoon, a story?

After reading this piece, I don’t see the connection with this piece with the rest of the hypertext that has been used in the class.  There were no links that I found that lead to an outside source, i.e images, related links which could further enhance the story as a hypertext.  Another noticeable difference is there is only one way to move through the story.  Pressing Yes goes on to the next page, Pressing No simply goes back to the previous page.  Therefore it was the same as reading a regular printed work for me.  Again no choices are really presented. I also found it hard to follow the story. At some points, it is clear the narrative is divided by two.  The narrator is walking through the woods describing the trees and scenery during one half.  The other half the actions of seperate characters and their surroundings are described.  For example, a house with lawn chairs and siding and other random objects were noted.  I was unable to make a connection betweent the two halves.  I would say the only the connection to hypertext is that the narrative is so random.