Sunny Monday, 73 degrees, 16 November 2009

Weather forecast from wunderground.com — “Patchy fog in the morning. Sunny. Highs in the lower 70s. Northeast winds around 5 mph. Monday Night, Mostly clear. Lows in the upper 40s. Northeast winds around 5 mph.

Let’s discuss: Laughter is infectious

Three-question handout:

1. List three ways the opening scene of “Jurassic Park” resembles the opening scene of “Jaws.”

2. List three moments in “Jurassic Park”  where the actors or story prefigure the attack of the velociraptors.

3. List three movie elements used in “Jurassic Park” that are standards in the horror genre, whether film or literature.

Last week, the subject was Marshall McLuhan. If there’s one phrase you want to remember when you hear his name it is this: the medium is the message. Here’s what Wikipedia says about the phrase and I would submit to you for discussion:

“McLuhan proposes that media itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. He said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.” He went on according to W/P “…McLuhan claimed in Understanding Media that all media have characteristics that engage the viewer in different ways; for instance, a passage in a book could be reread at will, but a movie had to be screened again in its entirety to study any individual part of it. So the medium through which a person encounters a particular piece of content would have an effect on the individual’s understanding of it. Some media, like the movies, enhance one single sense, in this case vision, in such a manner that a person does not need to exert much effort in filling in the details of a movie image. McLuhan contrasted this with TV, which he claimed requires more effort on the part of viewer to determine meaning, and comics, which due to their minimal presentation of visual detail require a high degree of effort to fill in details that the cartoonist may have intended to portray. A movie is thus said by McLuhan to be “hot” (intensifying one single sense) and “high definition” (demanding a viewer’s attention), and a comic book to be “cool” and “low definition” (requiring much more conscious participation by the reader to extract value).[2] This concentration on the medium and how it conveys information — rather than on the specific content of the information — is the focal point of ‘the medium is the message.'”

Let’s talk about a new medium, relatively new in the sense of popularity and ubiquity, video games. What’s the message in this new medium, which can be played on the computer, a computer-like device, or a hand-held device?

The first word, ADDICTION!

Let’s look at some test cases from a PBS Frontline series:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/virtual-worlds/internet-addiction/one-game-too-many.html?play

Can this be real… digital detox?

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/virtual-worlds/internet-addiction/internet-rescue-camp.html?play

But not everyone shares the view, even here in America, the land of alarm:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/virtual-worlds/internet-addiction/is-it-really-an-addiction.html?play

Now listen to these two fellows:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/blog/2009/04/dr-block-and-the-webcam.html

And, surprisingly, here’s what studies are saying:

The first national survey of its kind finds that virtually all American teens play computer, console, or cell phone games and that the gaming experience is rich and varied, with a significant amount of social interaction and potential for civic engagement. The survey was conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, an initiative of the Pew Research Center and was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The primary findings in the survey of 1,102 youth ages 12-17 include —

Game playing is universal, with almost all teens playing games and at least half playing games on a given day. Game playing experiences are diverse, with the most popular games falling into the racing, puzzle, sports, action and adventure categories.

Game playing is also social, with most teens playing games with others at least some of the time and can incorporate many aspects of civic and political life.

Another major findings is that game playing sometimes involves exposure to mature content, with almost a third of teens playing games that are listed as appropriate only for people older than they are.

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Teens-Video-Games-and-Civics.aspx

We could go on with the medium and the message and how the medium works on our brains, but we’ll save that until tomorrow. Now let’s get responsible. If we want to live in a greener, cleaner world are computers and the new media the route?

What about going Green? Consider this:

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/video/video_index.html


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