9 November 2009 – Week in Review

Two big lessons from last week, both part of an ongoing effort to grow an understanding of media, as well as to learn how the video elements of media work.

Lesson One — Open Source computing: For our purposes we will define OS software by way of analogy. The Source is like a giant supermarket. The market is open because there is no key (no hidden source code), as there is on PC or Mac. Everything in our supermarket, which comes in the form of codes, is free. Think of these codes as recipes. Part two of our analogy is a restaurant. Think of the restaurant as the software application or operating system we want to design. Even though all of the food in the supermarket — fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, along with their recipes are free for the taking — we still must prepare them for our restaurant. We must use the food and recipes available to us to create a customer tempting menu. We can also change the recipes available from the supermarket, too. Still, in order to have a successful restaurant — or in this case, a software application or operating system — we have to find the right menu, the right setting, and provide the best customer experience. Even though all we take from the supermarket (code) is free, it’s still up to us to make it delicious (useful). The great advantage of our open source supermarket is that lots of people can contribute code and other recipes. With more people working to solve the same sorts of problems, the more likely it is that someone will be able to come up with a better restaurant (application or operating system).

Lesson Two — A documentary film is based on reality. I often think of it as the video cousin of print journalism and non-fiction literature. Wikipedia describes it as an effort to “document reality.” In “No Direction Home,” we saw the documentary in the role of a biography, about Bob Dylan. In “Shine a Light,” we saw the documentary in the role of exposition, telling the story of a “Rolling Stones” concert. In “My Flesh and Blood,” we saw the documentary in the role, again, of exposition, telling the story of the trials of Susan Tom’s family. How, then, do we think about “King of Kong”?

Today, we’re going to try grasp the full impact of media first through the eyes of a man we’ve spoken about before, Marshall McLuhan. Then, we’re going to try to narrow our focus down to everyone’s favorite Web site, YouTube. Again, Michael Wesch will be our focus, but this time we’ll try to add the work of Dana Boyd for contrast and comparison.

The objective of this lesson? We will attempt to understand that when we use media, media is also using us.

Let’s discuss the purpose of the lesson. Let’s look at this example for clarity.

o – It’s apparent how we use media (or is it?); so first, let’s ask how how media might be using us.

o – Let’s read though the printouts I’ve given you about Marshall McLuhan and be prepared to discuss how the experience of radio and the experience of television might affect a family’s evening.




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