Media Analysis #3

Professor Sample,

My third media analysis can be found here —

http://mason.gmu.edu/~bpierso2/engl343/introduction.html

I was having some issues with the links in my analysis, however.  If you have problems going to the pages that the links send you to — such as a very slow response — hit stop, then click somewhere in the address bar and hit "enter."  I do not know why this is happening.  I spent a long time trying to figure out why this would be happening but I still can’t figure it out.  The links are links back to the Alcatraz site, and I do not know what may be causing this. 

Exploratory Writing #3

I would like to study the web site that is published for Alcatraz.  During class I read through quite a bit of the site and it really held on to my attention.  I think it would be interesting to be able to investigate about the layout and workings of the site, as well as learn something from a historical perspective.  Thanks!

Exploratory Assignment

Lexia to Perplexia —

This is definitely a perplexing set of lexia to understand and experience.  I don’t quite know where to start trying to describe what it is about.  But, from the text and some of the objects and graphics that are in it, it seems as though it is about the computer world, and how it may compare to the real world and humans.  The background of the interface is a grid-like pattern that on the foreground has a time-line of sorts on it.  A few times text boxes would appear when you clicked on certain objects that were "hot" and those text boxes would have a lot of technical, computer jargon, but also mention things like "humanity."  Also, a few of the objects that are "hot" look like eyeballs — a human organ.  I think that the parallel trying to be made here is that we as humans are like machines.  We are just as complex as a computer and function like one.  The word face comes up more than once as well.  The comparison reminds me of the site we looked at last week that compared us to machines using DNA as the possible link. 

The Bomar Gene —

This site is also a little bit confusing and difficult to get a grasp on the main concept.  From the introduction, you know that it is about one single gene which is inside every human being that is only theirs.  In other words, everyone has one special gene that is unique to them.  The site itself has a scroll bar at the top of the interface that is controlled through your mouse’s movements.  By moving your mouse to the left or the right will determine how fast and which way the scroll bar moves.  The scroll bar contains many graphics on it that you can click on.  Each graphic acts as a link and it takes you to a different place than you were at before.  Each place is a different representation of what I think are samples of "everyone’s unique Bomar gene."  Each interface, or lexia, is different from the other and has its own "unique" characteristics and properties.  I think that the site is comparing the differences in the lexia/examples to the differences in humans.  Everybody growing up is told that they are special and unique in their own ways.  Each person has something different to offer.  This site has many different things to offer as well. 

I think that these two sites use multimedia to create their arguments rather well.  The Bomar Gene is much more interactive and easier to move around and understand than the Lexia to Perplexia.  There are more moving parts in the Bomar Gene which therefore offers more for the user to interact with.  The scroll bar is one example of a moving part, but also there seems to be a lot of movie clips that are run on a loop, as well as many rollover buttons and graphics that are clickable.  As I’ve said in both, I believe that the two sites are creating a comparison between man and machine.  In Lexia to Perplexia, the user interface is such that you have to move your mouse around a lot just to find something to click on.  I found myself stuck in a place where I couldn’t find anything to click on.  The text is also limited compared to the Bomar Gene and it seems to be a pretty linear presentation for the most part.  The Bomar Gene isn’t very linear at all because you can click on any of the links from the practically always moving scroll bar at the top of the screen.  You are able to click on any link that you want at anytime and none of the sites given are the same.  Because there is no sequence seemingly involved with this one is what makes it non-linear.  There is also a lot more text involved with Bomar as well, and more story lines to go along with.  Overall, I think that the connection between these types of media and real life is that just like us, technology is always changing. 

Weekly Response

The Color of Television is another story in the line-up of novels/stories we have come across this semester that is a collection of one or two or maybe more stories put into one medium.  This one is via the Internet.  There seem to be two plots going on in this website.  One seems to be in a blue colored font, the other in a reddish, burgundy color.  One page has paragraphs that feature both colored fonts.  As I read the first page, I noticed how the two didnt’ quite fit together, and then wondered if perhaps they each represented a different story, and if they were intertwined within the website like that.  As it turns out from the more I read, this was proven to be true.  What caught me on to this was that I noticed when I’d click on a link, it would take me to a page, but wouldn’t necessarily take me to the top of the page.  I found this out when I accidentally scrolled up and noticed there was more text.  So as I kept on reading, I was conscious of where in the page I was brough to.  Even then though, the further you read, it doesn’t promise that everything matches up the way you like it.  I think the author has done this as a way for us as the reader to become interactive readers.  That is to sit and think about why they have done this.  I was a bit frustrated while reading this, however, because of the fact that it didn’t seem to sync together well.  Also, I was overwhelmed by the different possible links to click on.  There were a few on each page at times, and each one took me to a different place.  I didn’t know where to start when I came across these situations. 

In Pax, I was a little stumped as to what we had to read.  Naturally, I began to click around and found that when I would click on certain things — such as a flying body — I would then be presented with something to read on the right hand column.  By clicking on different people, you were able to meet them.  You were given their name and told a little bit about them.  If you were to again click on the same person floating in the background, you would get another blurb that I’m assuming is said by the character that is being presented.  The large, faint words in the background is also pretty interesting to look at.  The word is never quite there, but the letters at one point or another are there, so your mind is somehow able to make sense out of the words that are being shown.  This is definitely an interactive text because it relys on the user to click on the characters floating around.  After we do this, we are able to see a little bit about them.     

Afternoon, A Story

When I first read this novel, I was reading through it by simply clicking on the white-space somewhere on each screen.  After reading through a few pages, I accidentally once clicked on a word which showed up as a hypertext because the word became surrounded by a rectangular box.  I then began to click on different words, but found that they all took me to the same pages, so I didn’t think twice about it anymore.  After class last week, we discovered that different words — however few — on the page take you to different places. 

The second time I went through this novel I took my time in reading the pages and then seeing where the words are linked to.  Just as before, the majority of the words are linked to the same page — what seems to be the next page in line.  To begin with though, I am choosing to start with the page titled, "What I Say."  This page has the narrator talking about trying to get a hold of his wife — Lisa — by calling her office.  Her secretary apparently hates the narrator and has said that she isn’t available.  On this page, while all the words are ‘hot,’ only one word is SO hot that it takes you to a different link — the word Desmond.  Desmond is the man that the narrator’s wife is now involved with.  When clicking on the white-space or any other word on this page, it takes you to a different page, which seems to go along with the story that was being told on this page.  The following page seems to flow smoothly with this page as if I were just turning a page in a book.  When I click on "Desmond," however,  I am taken to a page that discusses Desmond and tells a little bit about him.  It’s as if "What I Say" is hyphenated at the end of the page, and we get "ax player;" a page that supports what we were talking about in the previous page. 

"Ax player" talks about Desmond and how he is now intimately involved with the narrator’s ex-wife.  You can tell that the narrator is quite jealous of this because of the line he writes, "A half-blind classical saxophonist and Professor of Theory, rebound lover of the world’s most stubborn woman, he whom my son calls Thisman Larry."  The meaning behind the link that brought me to ‘ax player’ is the name of the man who is now with the narrator’s wife.  On this new page, if you click on his full name "Desmond Larry," you are taken to a different page which then pretty much trashes Desmond and really displays how little the narrator cares for him.  He calls him a ‘frigging moo-sician’ at one point, and insults his disability — he’s blind.  I find it kind of interesting that I click on two seperate links that have the same name in them, but they take me to two different places.   When I clicked on ‘Desmond’ in the first page, it took me to a page where I thought all the description of Desmond would take place.  But on the second page, when I clicked on his full name — Desmond Larry — I’m brought to yet another page which discusses him.  Not only does it discuss him, the narrator insults and cuts Desmond down for obvious reasons.  The very last line of this page, he comments on how Desmond’s voice sounds like a "hornpipe Irishman." 

From this lexia, I clicked on the word "Andrew" and it took me to a different link than the rest of the words on the lexia did.  "Andrew" took me to a page titled, "Thisman."  Andrew is the son of the narrator.  In the lexia titled, ‘ax player’ the narrator says that his son — Andrew — calls Desmond "Thisman Larry."  This is pretty interesting because I noticed that this lexia would have been reached in "Ax player" had I clicked on the word "Thisman Larry."  I found my way back to this page by clicking on Andrew in a different lexia.  This particular lexia is different than the previous three because it is spoken by Andrew towards the narrator.  You can tell this because Andrew says, "I told him (Desmond) he should know you and he said he’ll take my word for it."  The tone is immediately different; it is more playful sounding and innocent (like a child).  Andrew says how funny Desmond is and the things they like to do together.  This was a bit of a twist since I was used to reading from the point of view of the narrator, rather than someone else, let alone his son. 

All of these lexia connect together through words that are used among these four pages.  The titles of three of them are pretty straight forward — Thisman, What I say and Desmond — but ‘ax player’ was a bit of a stretch for me.  The only thing I can think of is how the third party, in this case Desmond, is coming between a family and is the axe that is cutting them apart.  That particular lexia is about Desmond, spoken from the point of view of the narrator, so it is a rather sour, partisan description.        

Weekly Response

When I first started to read through Afternoon, a story, I went through and read what was said.  It all started out as what seemed to be a fairly "normal" story that had a linear progression to it.  In the beginning of reading this, however, there were a few instances of when all of a sudden the characters, settings, and subjects being talked about would seem to change.  I didn’t think much of it at first, but after I noticed this change the second time, I hit the "return to previous writing space" button and tried to make sense of what the connection was.  Usually I couldn’t make a connection and just went forward with the reading.  After spending more time with the story,  I felt that the pace was staring to pick up and I wasn’t as confused at the content I was reading about as I was in the beginning.  Then, once I started to be able to follow a story-line (it seems there are a few here), there would be a page that I had read before.  When I read it the first time, it didn’t make sense in the context of what I was reading.  When I read it the second time, however, it did seem to flow and make sense.  An example of this is when I first read about the two men in their office and the waitress comes to them with coffee.  One of the men made a crude comment to her and she walked on out.  It seemed like this page was just thrown in there in the beginning of the story to possibly throw the reader — or maybe keep his/her attention due to the comment.  The second time this page came up, it seemed to have more of a propper fit with the rest of the story.  There seemed to be more supportive pages surrounding it, rather than just having a random page pop up.

Maybe it was due to the fact that I would hit the Y or N button when a question was asked.  I noticed that typically, neither button took you to a different location, even when answering a question.  I hit the "return to previous writing space" button more than once to make sure I wasn’t missing anything by not hitting the Y or N button.  It turned out that no matter what I hit — enter, left-click, Y or N — it would take me to the same page.  I had the thought of the CYOA books while going through this, but as it turned out for me anyway, it didn’t seem to have as many branches as a CYOA novel.  For the most part, I felt it had a linear progression.  In a few ways, it did break from the normal novel-writing convention. 

Exploring Hegirascope Assignment

The Hegirascope is a collection of a couple hundred lexia that are linked between one another in many different ways.  For each lexia (page), there are four links that accompany it.  Each of these links link to another different lexia than one you’ve seen before — most likely.  I stumbled upon three lexias that were able to be linked in a triangle.  Just by randomly clicking one of the four given links on each lexia, after three pages, I was able to get back to the one I started at. 

The first lexia that I have decided to start with is the one titled, “Catalog of Dreams #401.”  I think that the author of this particular lexia is trying to illustrate a scene for us as the readers.  The author describes the scenery of what is being presented by saying, “Here mesas, cacti, clouds, krazy hanging rocks are all left blank. There is just this rock which is red.”  With the description the author gave, I picture in my head a dessert-type setting, except without any color — other than this red rock.  The next paragraph then mentions that the rock isn’t only red, it is, “ruby, copper, gold, magenta, molasses, rust, ochre, burnt sienna, black and white and red.”  Besides the black and white, the other colors are shades or tints of red — a color that can be closely associated with the dessert.  A sunsent amidst the dessert is what I picture when I read this lexia.

From this lexia I clicked on a link called “rock.”  The link took me to a lexia called “Education.”  Education presents itself through the first person style of writing.  It is about — I’m assuming what is a young man of about my age — talking about his educational experiences so far in his life.  It takes place back in 1953 when he/she went to Esther Williams College to persue an adjutants degree.  An adjutent is defined as a helper; it seems to be a pretty strange thing to major in.  The narrator talks about how he met Lord Perfidious and they would drink tea and share atomic secrets.  Taken literally, considering the era, they could have been sharing real secrets about maybe what they knew of atomic weapons.  When thinking about how this links to the previous lexia — Catalog of Dreams #401 — I first noticed the opening line of Education where it states, “In 1953, at the age of three paving stones and a large piece of quartzite…”  The obvious mention of paving stones and quartzite links to the red rock mentioned in the previous lexia.  After thinking about this a little more in depth, however, I considered the colors mentioned in the Catalog of Dreams #401 — ruby, copper, gold, magenta, molasses, rust, ochre, burnt sienna … and red — and thought of those as colors of destruction, perhaps at the hands of an atomic bomb?  Also, haven’t nuclear testings taken place in the dessert?

As I have gone through these lexias, I tried to click on the link that seemed to be what the author was talking about in that certain lexia.  After the Education lexia, I clicked on the link called “schooling.”  This took me to a lexia titled “Your Agent Called.”  This one is written in what seems to be the second-person narrative.  If I were to guess at what this is about — as I said, they all are rather obscure — I would suggest the stock market.  The narrator mentions that a financial fugitive acquired the Hannah-Barbera cartoon library for ¥800 trillion.  At the end of this lexia, the narrator suggests that one should buy Dotsex at ¥1,400 because research — which you are now privvy to — has proven that sexual stimulation will cure Alzheimer’s in some patients.  After reading through this one a few times and studying it, I still find it difficult to find a concrete link between the two.  As I mentioned above, an Adjutant is a helper, or an aid — like a secretary.  You can argue here that the link between the two is that scientific research is being conducted year-round at the price of hundreds of millions of dollars to help and aid those who are ill.  This third lexia talks about the cure of Alzheimer’s as sexual stimulation and that it is a proven cure for those who suffer.

The word Hegira refers to a flight to a more hospitable place.  The word scope insights the act of narrowing down a search or focusing tightly on something.  So hegirascope to me means the act of deeply looking at something with the intent of the main focus getting better or becoming what you want it to become.  This relates to these excerpts from the lexias because these lexias can be taken almost any way you want.  They can be molded down into whatever the reader thinks — to an extent of course.  Just through some critical thinking, I was able to come up with reasons why I thought these three lexias linked together.  There is no definite ending or sense of closure here.  An interpretive strategy that can be applied to this is the text as a kaleidoscope strategy.  The kaleidoscope is constantly changing with any iota of change.  In a way, this is like the Calvino novel because you can pretty much interpret your own ending for all ten of those stories as well as the three lexias here.        

Weekly Response

The Hejirascope reminded me of a lot of things.  At first because of the way the stories just seemed to end, it reminded me a lot of Italo Calvino’s On A Winter’s Night a Traveler.  After reading for a little bit longer, I then started to compare it to the Create Your Own Adventure books.  For obvious reasons, you have a choice on which link out of the four to click on.  There were two ways which I found seperated this exercise from a CYOA story.  The first is that the stories typically don’t match up.  I think I did click on one link that went to what seemed like an extension of the previous link.  Another way that they are seperate is that there seems to be a time limit.  You are given a certain amount of time to read each blurb that comes up, and then to choose a link or destination.  Thanks to the ‘back’ button, however, it is up to you whether or not time is a factor.  The first time I ran through it, I hit the back button every time it cut me off.  After about 10 minutes of this, I decided to just go with the flow and see where it takes me.  Just as if I chose my own destinations, the resulting pages that came up were just as random as the ones that preceeded them.  At times though, some of the blurbs did match up — only not in succession.  An example of this are the stories of Mr. Perlmutter.  In a matter of about 5 straight minutes, I read about three or four blurbs on him, but at very random times.  It seemed like you’d get the end of his story in one blurb, and then the beginning of his story in another.  In a way, it did sort of tie things together.  Maybe I just read too much into though. 

I couldn’t help but notice the aesthetics of the site itself.  Due to the color combinations of the text and the background, it was very easy to read the text.  However, I think that because almost every successive page presented a different look to it — sometimes a radical change, not a sublte one — it seemed to be more of a distraction than anything to me.  I’m not the quickest reader, so the changes threw me off and sort of frustrated me at the same time.  This activity did relate to the Bush piece on how technology is changing and has the ability to advance.  The internet is a new media that has given this Hejirascope the chance for being.  Without the Internet, it may not have the same affect, say if it were presented to a person through note/flash cards or something like that.  The immediacy of it is what makes it important.  The ability of the media and technology to keep on throwing the new blurbs out on a timeline, for example, is what makes this activity effective.   

Weekly Response

I was never one to read comic books growing up.  I still don’t read comic books.  I think part of it was because I never really watched a lot of cartoons growing up either.  One thing that I’ve always wondered is how do you read from each panel to each panel?  Sometimes the pages aren’t constructed in such a way that each panel is side by side and it is then easy to know to read from left to right, naturally.  Scott McCloud addressed this point in his book about comics.  While I was reading this book, I kept on catching myself first trying to figure out where to go from frame to frame when it wasn’t totally obvious.  The more I read, however, the easier it was to pick up on.  It wasn’t until maybe around 60 or 70 pages in that he touched on this area.  It was pretty breif, but the mention was made to help us as the readers realize that there are things in this world that are natural to us.  It is only normal for us to read from left to right, top to bottom — in the West anyway.  In the East, some things are different — including reading and writing styles/formats.  Differences between the two cultures are also noticable when it comes to comics.  Japanese-style comics were different and in some ways more advanced or ahead of the curve. 

After thinking about relationships between comics and some other sources of media, one common theme I found between comics and the game Zork is that both are read from frame-to-frame.  In between the frames are the ‘gutters’ of comics where the reader becomes involved and participates.  In the game Zork and others alike, the user is participating by playing and making decisions.  Also, the game is presented one "frame" at a time.  Each scene or space that you are in is a frame of time or space.  This is another relation I was able to come up with.  Scott McCloud talks about time and space in his book and how the size of a frame could possibly play a role in how long a scene is, or extend a dramatic moment by lengthening one frame over another.  Zork is able to present this through the text it responds to you with.  Based on the text, you can then determine which space you will be going in.