Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Final Exam submission: Q3

  1. Write a blog post that focuses on separate examples of what you feel to be both the best and the worst aspects of the internet. You are welcome to use sources from the Scoop It channels or any other sources you find to be credible. You will be expected to provide two sources for both your best and worst example. If you use a source that is not available online, you will need to cite it at the bottom of your blog post in MLA format.

O RLY? meme. Original creator unknown.
The Internet. That gigantic digital mass of floating...what?? It's not Flying Spaghetti Monsters (FSM), but even those are par for the course (hence the website link). Evidently the Internet is many things to many people so if you're still wondering about definitions perhaps it's worth noting the diversity of opinions. There's just so much stuff on the Internet, and it leads one to arguably define it as possibly being the collective input of humankind in shiny, digital form (OooOooooooOOoooooo..orly? [Know Your Meme]). Or at least as close as we've ever come to such a lofty goal. Go technology?

Now, bear in mind though that input is input is input, and that it can be of a positive, intellectual, inspirational...or entirely silly nature. It's neutral; it's both. It's a point that may sound contradictory but isn't that precisely what we are? We go to school and the office like responsible human beings doing responsible things, but we're just as likely to blow it all off once in a while and party just a little too much (insert embarrassing Facebook photo here). So no wonder that the Internet, just like any other form of media reflects that duality and may be defined by such.

Are you a wizard meme.
Original creator unknown.
In fact, I would say that this collective input, beyond the topic of definitions may also serve as examples of the best and worst aspects of the Internet because the reasons are one and the same: User-created content and interaction. Big words? Lemme level that down a little for you: You make/say/appropriate something, put it somewhere on the Internet, other people see that and interact right back. Magic.

Or as we civilised folk choose to call it: Facebook. Or YouTube, Wikipedia, any of the dozens of websites and services which facilitate user interaction (i.e. Just about every one?), even if it's just a comment or a Like button you're getting to have your say in some form or another and in most cases you even get to give your own opinion. How's that for freedom of speech?

But let's take the Wikipedia example for a further test-drive shall we? Anyone can basically go in and freely edit any topic, any page, even create something silly (Wikipedia). Oops. The great thing about this is it's basically an online encyclopedia (does anyone really buy the rock-heavy paper kind anymore?), except it's up-to-date on everything from the latest game releases, that upcoming Batman movie and perhaps even a slathering of juicy celebrity gossip. And if it's not? Take charge; get right in there and add that pivotal sliver of information yourself. What's not to like?

Cave Troll
Cave Troll by ElDave via CC Licensing.
Well, quite a lot actually. The thing about the freedom that the Internet provides for user interaction and the creation of content is that it also backfires because not everyone is going to be as upstanding and responsible as you and I (and I know that you know that we can totally be trusted...right??). Some people? Well they're just arses (I love that spelling; also, Blogger spellcheck doesn't), or trolls (Tek-Bull). No one likes trolls.

It's this undermining of credibility and lack of authors' credentials and accountability that has many people, especially academic institutions up in arms about the use of Wikipedia as a source of information and citation. ...but is it really that bad? Authors such as this gentleman here (Burleson Consulting) explain why they think "Accountability would improve Wikipedia", and to be fair he does present sensible arguments and comparisons with search engines, spin-off wikis et cetera. But he's also missing the point.

No one ever said that Wikipedia is a credible source of information, not even Wikipedia themselves. In fact the comparison that the guy from Burleson Consulting makes between Wikipedia and search engines is exactly right: Wikipedia is really a search engine/encyclopedia hybrid and just as you would not trust everything that pops up in your Google searches, so too should you counter-check the credibility and content of a Wikipedia page before taking the information as fact. Actually, you might even want to do that for "traditional" sources of information such as print and TV news stations (Huffington Post). The point is less whether sites which allow user interaction and content are credible or otherwise, and more as to whether Internet users are sensible enough to make informed decisions on the information they are given, in any form, but that's a problem of education and common sense rather than the Internet and Wikipedia. On the other hand what Wikipedia does offer is an initial overview of...well just about anything you would want to search for, just like a search engine except that it also has write-ups and usually other forms of information (pictures, even audio files) on the topic at the same time, on the same page. Now, would you like some fries with that?

The real question is how do you determine which of that information is right and which is not, and the answer is citation. It's true that a lot of information on sites like Wikipedia are never cited, but what is also true is that a lot of them are, and very nicely laid out too. Think a particular statement is in doubt? Head over to the citation link and check it out for yourself, a course of action that this study (Francke, Sundin) also advocates:

Several studies have shown that students often use Wikipedia strategically to get an overview of a topic, but that they are hesitant to use or refer to it in situations where they need to be certain of something, for instance in school assignments, where teachers are often critical of the use of Wikipedia as a source. A bit surprisingly, the study by Luyt et alindicated that the young users mainly used Wikipedia for school purposes rather than for interests concerned with their extracurricular interests. The students were generally aware that Wikipedia could be edited 'by anyone', and so took that into account when they consulted it. The students also compared claims from Wikipedia articles with claims from other sources to determine if the claims were credible.

The same goes for any other site you find on the Internet. Just because someone thinks that a certain piece of information is not up to snuff doesn't mean it's wrong, or that it shouldn't be there (because personally, I don't think spaghetti should be flying at all if it could be in my stomach instead. Just saying). The answer is to double-check the information yourself and come to an informed decision, and while you're off doing that the rest of us who don't need the information for such serious business can sit back and read some wikis, maybe watch a YouTube video or two.

Thing is though, this would be happily ever after if the story ended right here. But it doesn't. Apart from credibility the freedom of the Internet also allows for the question of a lack of responsibility, if not outright anonymity. This is exactly what sites such as 2Channel and its English counterpart 4Chan offer. Let's get to the bad stuff first this time: Libel, slander, defamation and even infringment of privacy, as noted succinctly by this author (Hamazaki). The question is what would you do if you thought you couldn't be tracked for your actions? If your online persona could exist without a face or name, and the answer at least for some is that they would go for any manner of improper behaviour that would certainly not be kosher for any situation that requires any actual face-to-face contact.

...visual anonymity encourages individuals to perceive the self and others less as individuals and more as representatives of a social group. This, in turn, sensitizes interactants to the social norms embodied by the group, and fosters group-normative behaviors that are consistent with these social norms. (Bvee and Cvitkovic, Anonymity in Computer-Mediated Communication in Japanese and Western Contexts - Comparisons and Critiques - 2010), via Hamazaki

The unfortunate thing here is that apart from the most gruesome of cases (Kotaku), there is largely nothing anyone can do about bad behaviour on the Internet except to stay away from known hotbeds of flaming and trolling (Tek-Bull) where possible, and to ignore the rest that one comes across (don't go to 4Chan...as a general rule, don't go there). A level of anonymity will always be part of the experience when you're talking about connecting with people from all over the world (and we are). It's like bad neighbourhoods; stay away from the bad ones and the rest are fine. Just be smart about it.

On the other hand however even such anonymous sites have their good points, and using the example of 2Channel again it is precisely because of anonymity that users are willing to be adventurous and create inspiring content such as Train Man (collection of 2Channel posts). Train Man (or, Densha Otoko) was a series of anonymous posts on 2Channel that told the continuing story of a reclusive "otaku" (nerd), his saving of a woman from harassment while riding a train and the love story that resulted from that chance encounter. What makes Train Man unique is the fact that the story is told entirely through short, informal posts on the 2Channel message board, inclusive of Japanese-style emoticons (kaomoji) and various other inputs from readers who followed the Train Man's journey at the time of its original telling. The story has since been collected, published as a book and even turned into a movie (Flare Gamer), but perhaps what is most remarkable is that given the Japanese reluctance to share personal information, let alone one nerd's harrowing journey to find the girl of his dreams, had 2Channel not been based around the concept of user anonymity that kind of creative input would almost certainly not exist.

So in the end when considering the above points; the pros of collective human knowledge and creative input, and the cons of unreliability and various forms of bad behaviour and infringement of privacy, what can we conclude? The thing is, it's not a be-all-end-all plus or minus, but rather the realisation that the Internet's greatest aspect is also its Achilles' heel. The freedom to interact and have user-generated content, to view this swathe of collective input whenever and wherever is what defines the Internet as something unique and indeed intrinsic in our time, just as the introduction of print revolutionised the potential for communication and indoctrination of certain ideals when it was invented.

In the end, be it print, wireless communication, the Internet or any other form of technology to come what all of it boils down to is that all of these are merely tools for human expression. It is flawed, but it is because of this that the Internet is beautiful in its potential and content, for the reason that it presents us a reflection of ourselves, as people.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

One more post: Final exam questions

10 of the following 15 questions will be on the final. Here're what I think the answers are (if you know better, I'll trade my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your..).
  1. What is the most common type of malware? Trojan
  2. When is a person's work subject to copyright? As soon as the work is created
  3. Where was the first virus created? Pakistan
  4. On Flickr, what does the creative commons license allow for someone to be able to do with someone else's photo? Either nothing, or to share freely, or to share with attribution to the creator depending on the license
  5. What are the possible factors which might threaten your identity and privacy online? Open question. e.g. Not limiting your privacy settings on SNS sites like Facebook to only known people, visiting sites of questionable intent, clicking on suspicious-looking advertisements..
  6. Who did Mae Ueda get malware from via Facebook? Her host-father in Canada
  7. Spam mails always offer you dating websites.  True/False? False
  8. In the 1990s, how was the first virus spread? Floppy disc
  9. How many hours Americans spend on Facebook on average? 7 hours/month
  10. CC Licensing replaces copyright law. True or False? False
  11. Malware is short for what? Malicious software
  12. What is the possible problem when smartphone/i-phone catches a malware? Your privacy and private information could be in danger, your device might not work properly, you might spread the malware to others etc.
  13. What is the name of the company that Facebook has partnered up with to protect users from malicious links? Websense
  14. How can you remove your personal information from services such as facebook? Use informational websites like Spokeo.com
  15. Which Japanese well known industry that has almost gotten malware attack? Kawasaki Heavy

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Together, part 10: Talking

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, to be continued...

"He knocked on the door and started opening it slowly as he came in. It creaked. The noise was still ever so slightly irritating despite its non-relevance to anything else at the moment. Casey wasn't anywhere around so I assumed that he'd put him to sleep...and not left him somewhere outside in the living room in the middle of the night.

He wanted to talk. I didn't know what he wanted to say but if he wanted to talk then I knew I had some things to say to him so I went ahead and said my part first..

"I didn't know where you were for the past hour, and I couldn't contact you. It's late. What did you think would happen? Do you know how many times I called you? Did you even check your phone yet?"

"And then you come back and I see that you were out shopping..for food! Right after dinner!! You know if you didn't like what I cooked you could have told me instead of disappearing for a midnight snack!""

Go to Part 11 (to be continued).

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Together, part 8: Consequences

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, to be continued...

"I was on the phone making frantic calls to our friend Casey Medsker-Saban when I heard the sound of the door being unlocked. He came back, finally, and although my first thought was absolute relief that nothing had actually happened, my gaze soon fell on the myriad bags of...stuff that he held in his hands. Convenience store bags, filled with an assortment of snacks, microwaveable gyoza and cans of coffee. He was also holding in his other hand what was clearly an assortment of packed oden, still warm despite the chilly outside air.

"Where were you?" I wanted to ask but the worry I had faced when uncertain of my husband's safety and whereabouts turned to anger in an instant, and it was all I could do to keep silent instead of exploding at the figure standing in the doorway, holding supper.

It was beyond me how some people can be totally ignorant of others around him, selfishly thinking about food when others worry. If he was that unsatisfied with my cooking he could have at least told me so. No wonder there was leftover karaage after dinner. I turned about and made my way through the apartment, heading to the bedroom. I had had enough; it was late and tomorrow was a workday, meaning that I could already look forward to a tired commute on the packed morning train. "The dishes are in the sink. Turn off the lights when you're done," I said tersely before going in to the bedroom. The man can do the dishes for once; I certainly do all the cooking. I slammed the door shut behind me, forgetting for an instant that Casey was asleep in the next room. I realised my mistake a second later but the creak of his bedroom door and his light footsteps moments later confirmed that I had indeed woken him, as a brief round of expletives temptingly crept up to the edge of my tongue.

"What's going on mommy?" he peeked in through the door to ask. I moved towards him, bending down and offering a hug in place of a proper answer. "Mommy and daddy are fighting again" isn't something you willingly tell your child late at night before a school day. Besides, if anyone should be offering any explanations Mr. I Got Supper can provide. He should be well enough equipped for that much."

Go to Part 9.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Together, part 6: Missing

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, Part 7, to be continued...

"I just finished putting Casey to sleep. It took a while because he started playing with his Pokemon plushies again after everyone left. I closed the door to his room quietly, leaving it open just a crack so that we could check in on him later.

#ds435 Just a crack

After leaving the room however another concern came to mind. Where's my husband? He should've been back by now, even a while ago. I went in to the dining room to make sure and everything was as it had been. The table still had a slight spill on it from where Casey had knocked over the soy sauce during dinner, the chairs were still left at odd angles. I moved over to the sink where my husband had been last before going out to the convenience store to "get some coffee". Sure the store wasn't right by our place, but it still shouldn't have taken him this long to come back. I was worried. Did something happen?


The dishes were still piled up in the sink, unwashed. The top plate was the one with the batch of home-made karaage on it and I picked up a leftover piece and munched absent-mindedly. It was cold and I could taste more of the oil than the chicken. I didn't know my karaage tasted this bad. I wasn't hungry.

Glancing over to the dining table once again I spotted my handphone in the corner and reached over to make a call. The dial tone, one ring, two and I realised that my husband had left his phone in the pocket of his coat that he had slung over his chair during dinner. He hadn't taken it with him, a fact that I already knew but confirmed by reaching over the table and retrieving the ringing device, sullying my arm with spilled soy sauce in the process. I didn't feel like wiping it off just yet. I had other things to think about.

Soy Sauce, Shichimi - Ramen Ya - ISO-800

Maybe he was just delayed for some reason. Maybe he's reading comics by the magazine aisle and here I am worrying myself silly for no reason at all. My mind came up with a bunch of possibilities of where my husband could be, but a quick glance at the clock was enough to tell me that none of those possibilities could be true. He wouldn't be out this late, this long, especially without his phone and jacket. It was cold outside too. I clutched my own phone in my hands, watching a line of soy sauce make its way slowly down my arm as I lifted. I wanted to leave the apartment, to put on my coat, shoes and head outside even though I didn't have any make-up on. I wanted to head towards the store and see for myself if anything had happened...but I couldn't. Casey was still sleeping just a few meters away. I hope the ringing hadn't woken him up, but it also meant that I couldn't leave him alone in the home this late. What if he woke up to find that no one else was at home? No, I was stuck here.

And I didn't know what to do.."

Go to Part 7.

On copyright and CC Licensing

So here we are, this is my final blog post for this semester's class. I chose to write it on the topic of copyright and CC Licensing, so first off I'd like to speak a bit on why.

The main reason why I chose this topic is because I felt that the issue of copyright would be the most applicable and useful for me, even after this class ends, as an artist. Of course this is not to say that "non-artists" have no use of copyright, but when I think back on my first considered use of copyright and CC Licensing I find that for me the issue does have its roots in my artwork.

deviant art
deviantArt logo. Click to go to the deviantArt site.

I started a deviantArt account over 2 years ago, which for the uninitiated is basically like any other SNS (social networking service) site except that they have a focus on artists and artworks, which is to say that the "main" use of deviantArt would be to upload your sketches etc. and have other people view, comment, share and rate them. Japanese readers may draw comparison to Pixiv (which I think is cooler, because it's Japanese but I digress).

pixiv 開発者ブログ
pixiv logo. Click to go to the pixiv site.

So let's get back to the topic at hand. I dunno if Pixiv uses the same but deviantArt has you fill in various details about your works when you submit a new "deviation" and the last category is choosing the appropriate CC License (it's an optional category). CC License?? What is that? Copyright? I thought copyright was something you had to formally apply for, like a patent (but it's not) so I initially found the issue of CC Licensing both confusing and possibly unnecessary, but maybe that's just me.

CC Attribution logo. Click to go to the Creative Commons site.

This whole misunderstanding with copyright and CC Licensing I think, stems from the fact that I am neither a US citizen, nor a citizen or any Western country wherein ideals of freedom and personal property are often brought to the fore (and CC Licensing did start as an American endeavour). This is not to say that that I am opposed to the idea, but it does provide a different perspective on something that I think my Western counterparts consider a natural right because for people like myself it's something that we don't really ever talk about, not even after 12 years of standard schooling...and I'm not even from an authoritarian country! (although some people have said that I look like Korean actor Bae Yong Jun so maybe it's not too far off. By the way, not saying that South Korea is authoritarian, but move a little up North, and...)

Personally, I don't see the resembance...but someone else created this, so...

So now you kinda get the idea that the situation of copyright is a little different between countries yes? But I guess that's to be expected. Anyone can wax lyrical about one's inalienable rights but people across the border have different standards, different Constitutions, different legal systems so how are you gonna apply your lofty copyright ideals to the world? Well, you can't really, not unless you have some kind of cross-border group session thing going on like the European Union that purposefully exists to standardise various components across member countries (and even then it's not all sunshine and rainbows from what I hear).

European Union flags

But hold up a sec and stop the presses. We've been tossing around the word "copyright" for a bit now and some of you must be wondering how this is different from CC Licensing. What is CC Licensing? Well the main difference is that copyright is very much dependent on a country's copyright law, which is to say that copyright has the final say as to whether something is illegal or not because it is governed by a legal framework. There's also a lot to it, which is why people take other people to court to debate (not-so-nicely) about it, and also why you often see the "all rights reserved" phrase regarding copyright issues; it's just too much to put down. On the other hand you have CC Licensing (Creative Commons Licensing) which is entirely voluntary (remember the optional category on deviantArt?) and user-initiated, and restricted to a set of pre-defined combinations (you want this page for the breakdown). It doesn't replace copyright law, but works in tandem with it, like shorthand. CC licenses let you state from the get-go what you allow any other person in the world to do with your work, so they can go ahead without bothering you with a million e-mails on, "Can I use this here? And what about that?"

Creative Commons Welcome Pack

The other big difference about CC Licensing is that it has its roots in specifically Internet-derived  issues of copyright, addressing content created in an age where file sharing and user-generated content is nothing if not commonplace.
"Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet - Universal access to research and education, full participation in culture - to drive a new era of development, growth and productivity." -Creative Commons
It's a bold statement (and reminiscent of Project Xanadu), but is it true? Every day you use several sites and services that offer to store and put your works in an environment that is fully open to the public (i.e. the Internet); photos on flickr, videos on YouTube, artworks on deviantArt. Now think about it, strictly speaking if you automatically own the copyright to your works by default, nobody is supposed to touch that (some people still do, but we aren't talking about those people :P). That's fine, but the question CC asks is: In an age where pop culture is very much driven by mass communication and the instantaneous spread of information, wouldn't you prefer to join in and put your name out there? Is exposure better than absolute control for you? It's questions worth asking, and very similar to why big-names such as The Dark Knight used viral marketing in tandem with traditional modes of advertising: Because it works, and it works because that's how our world works today. It's not about holding on tight to royalties, it's about broadening the personal and commercial potential of your works by gaining maximum exposure. A crude metaphor would be that it lets you shout louder than all the other people in the room.

Shout it!

Still don't quite get it? Try this: Imagine buying food from the supermarket and looking at the packaging for expiration dates and preparation instructions. You expect that information to be there because that's what you expect the product to do for you, and you certainly don't want to make a phone call to the food company each time you buy your microwavable dinners (and they don't wanna deal with all of your calls either). Now compare this to any form of creative work. You don't necessarily think about the spread of your work by the time you put down your pen, camera, or mouse, but should you? Can you? The answer would be "Yes you can," and you can easily with Creative Commons Licenses because they are by far the closest thing to a global standard on copyright for digital media. You see the CC logos and they stand for something recognisable, just like the Golden Arches although that doesn't necessarily mean "I'm lovin' it" for everyone last I checked.

Self-created image for a ds106 assignment on Triple Trolling.

But wait, so far we've talked about how CC Licensing benefits you as the creator, but how does it  benefit you as a user? Say you pop over to flickr to do a photo collage like this guy. How do you know what's cool for the taking? Well see if we didn't have CC Licensing as a shorthand then we'd have to either rely on copyright and manually get the permission of the creator for each photograph to be used, or rely only on what's in the public domain (or just take stuff, but again, we're not talking about those people). Neither one seems very appealing and that's where CC Licensing comes in handy. You can do a search for only images that creators have specified are okay to use, without ever having to actually ask them. Problem solved. Look up again at the picture before this paragraph for your reward. :)

So okay we're almost done now so bear with me. All this talk about the good points of CC Licensing makes it sound like the Second Coming, but obviously it's not. What's the rift? Firstly, remember the problem of different countries having different copyright laws? Yeah, so if CC Licensing is shorthand for copyright in certain circumstances, how does this translate overseas? The answer is adaptation. CC has and is still working to "port" (adapt) its standards to various countries and to streamline each type of license as much as possible. Problem "solved". The next issue is whether CC Licensing makes or is redundant because it co-exists alongside existing copyright laws. The answer is that both can co-exist. Why? As mentioned, CC Licensing aims to serve in particular the remix-mashup nature of content on the Internet, and without it you wouldn't actually have services like flickr, Google or Wikipedia (CC). (and you wouldn't have this post either; just look at all the licensed photos!) Could you really live with that? Teachers have to pry students off of Wikipedia these days. CC Licenses thrive on the Internet, but the Internet is arguably our world today, but if you want a "real-life" counterpoint to chew on, you can even snack on this. No artificial colour or flavouring added. All natural. Word.

So. Why so serious?

UPDATE: Final exam question submission. "CC Licensing replaces copyright law. True or False?"

Saturday, 29 October 2011

On sunny haiku, and morning Pikachu

ds106 assignment on Haiku. This assignment has been getting considerable traction as of late, so although I initially resolved to stay away from it for perceived lack of understanding of what actually makes a haiku tick..
"Here in US schools, we are taught the haiku merely as the formula of syllables..." -CogDog.
I re-thought my stand and am currently in an, "Eh, why not? You guys can bash me in the comments later," kind of mood. Still, I think it's kind of weird how a form of poetry is so intrinsically connected to a particular language and culture (Japanese) that comments such as these can be made, and quite legitimately argued:
"Haiku have very deep system, but it can work for only Japanese language, so this Haiku will be litbit different style from Japanese language Haiku." -Komiyama.
As for me I definitely feel that there is a kind of wall between haiku and any unfortunate non-Japanese (or non-Japanese speaker) who decides to take on the task of making a haiku of his/her own. This wall can of course be true, or only perceived but I'd like to get peoples' opinions on the matter because I'm not entirely sure which it is. Similarly would anyone know of any other form of poetry (or literary form etc.) that might be specific to a certain language or culture? I can't think of any at the moment but I would be surprised if haiku were to be the only case.

So anyway enough stalling. I said I'd present my own haiku and present it I will so here you go:

"Sunshine when I sleep
Comes early in the morning
Not now, Pikachu"

Sunshine by yeow_tuj via Share-Alike, Attribution CC Licensing. It's my photo and I'll do whatever I please with it! :P

I moved into my new apartment about 4 months ago, and while it's awesome there is the slight issue of my sleeping area being right in front of a ginormous (omg this is actually a word?) window. The window's frosted, but that doesn't stop copious amounts of sunlight pouring into the room on sunny mornings and that's what my haiku was trying to convey I guess. Everyone knows the feeling of not wanting to get up yet, but in addition to alarm clocks and lack of coffee I always feel that the sun itself is trying to slap me awake in the morning...and then when I'm actually up and conscious I look at my watch and I actually still had time to spare. And then there's a huge Pikachu head behind me. I need my coffee.

As for the considerations I tried to follow the "rules" that I got from some related blogs (CogDog, Hamazaki, Komiyama, Lockman). Each of them brought something different to the table, which was nice when trying to compare and contrast and see what has to be done and what can be left open to interpretation...but at the same time it became a little confusing? CogDog and Lockman's takes were quite thoughtful, with the former taking on an almost philosophical air and the latter being quite emotional/personal. Contrast this to the wildly differing styles of Hamazaki and Komiyama, wherein I found the former's to be very instructional and insightful, almost rigid in its "professional" take (I wonder how long the post took..), while conversely when reading Komiyama's haiku I get a very light-hearted, sentimental and playful feeling coming across that might or might not adhere as soundly to the principles of haiku, but definitely comes across to this uninformed non-Japanese as so much more engaging...on a fuzzy feline kind of level. I like cats, call me biased. :P

Going back to Hamazaki's post however, I definitely found the write-up to be the most informative, with the general guidelines of:
  1. Use three lines of up to 17syllables. (I split mine into 5/7/5)
  2. Use a season word (kigo). (Sunshine in the morning? Maybe Summer-ish. As CogDog says, "...no idea where they fit in the Japanese seasons." But then again as Hamazaki says, "almost all the nouns were categorized into one of the four seasons a hundred years ago, but we cannot do that any more in these days," so maybe I'll be let off the hook this time..)
  3. Use a cut or kire (sometimes indicated by a punctuation mark) to compare two images implicitly. (The last line)
So in conclusion there you have my haiku. Maybe it's off, maybe it's not. Maybe Ben's comment is right? What do you guys think?
"I'm not sure it's the translation into English that a Haiku potentially loses its authenticity, but rather then different pace and tone that many westerners, particularly Americans, bring to the form." -Ben.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Together, part 4: Outing

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6, to be continued...

"I'm exhausted! We spent the whole day walking around and just got back. Daddy's in the shower now so I thought I'd spend a few minutes writing this but I'm kind of dozing off myself. Casey doesn't seem to mind though, or should I say didn't seem to mind. He's asleep now. I'll try to type quietly..

Keyboard Standing in the shadows

So like I said today was a busy day. Daddy didn't have work over the weekend so we finally made plans to go to the Pokemon Center and Casey was overjoyed when he heard the news that he's been making sure to watch the anime every day "just to keep up". I don't know what he's trying to keep up with but he's barely been able to sit still! It's been quite tiring trying to match his pace.. I don't know how kids get so much energy (maybe I shouldn't have given in and let him have that ice-cream after lunch?). I blame those ads we saw on the train-ride there.


So what did we do? Well our original plan was to spend some time at home after lunch before setting off for the Pokemon Center, but Casey couldn't wait so we ended up going straight after (after he had his ice-cream too! Maybe we're spoiling him, just a little?). We reached the place at about 2, and I thought it was still quite early but there were a surprising number of kids (and older Pokemon fans too) that we had to queue in lline for quite a while at the cashier on our way out. Casey got a giant Pikachu and a blue Pokemon plushie that he keeps calling "Derpy" for some reason. I don't know why. Maybe our friend Casey (Medsker-Saban) told him something. I should remember to ask him about that when we meet next weekend for dinner. He might teach him other strange words.. That's Casey.

Speaking of dinner we spent more time than we planned at the Pokemon Center so we actually had to rush off on the way out. My mother recently gave us a free voucher for a cruise from Hamamatsucho Pier so we decided to take advantage of that and get a free cruise around the bay at sunset, as well as a great dinner! (we barely got on the boat in time though, the sun was already setting!)

Edited (copy/paste image from screen→Photoshop→new layer with a coat of orange-beige applied→colour overlay set to "multiply" in layer styles) screen-capture from Google Maps.

The cruise itself was wonderful. Casey was fully absorbed with his new Pokemon toys, which gave daddy and I a little time alone after dinner to watch the last rays of the sun go down over the horizon. Along with the sea breeze and the refreshing smell of salt it's definitely a memory I won't forget, even if I forgot to bring a proper camera!

So that was our day. Casey fell asleep on the way back, I guess all the excitement finally wore him out. And daddy's-..Oh looks like he's just done with the shower so I'll be going to freshen up soon. Before I forget though, remember that image Casey drew the other day? We actully did decide to frame it up. We'll put it in Casey's bedroom sometime tomorrow...wonder if he'll notice? (there's no Pokemon...or Vanilla Cats so...). Oh but I'm starting to doze off so I'd better get in the shower myself before long. Till next time!"

Original image by Casey Swadloon, framed.

Go to Part 5.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Together, part 2: Daydreaming

This is ds106 assignment on writing a fanfic about another blogger, taken one step further by being a continuing story written in parts without prior planning, and via the revolving effort of 2 bloggers going back and forth.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, to be continued...

"I just got home and set the keys to the front door down on the dining table. It's quiet now with no one else in the house; my husband left just a few minutes ago with his black office bag and our son Casey in tow. He's going to drop him off at the nearby elementary school before going to work.

I started tidying up the dining table, just a little before I had to set off myself. Cups, dishes, cutlery, into the sink for the time being and then the several strewn bits of paper and markers that Casey had been playing with during his morning meal. He's always drawing! I picked up the loose sheets and took a look at what he had scribbled; all the images were of Vanilla Cat, a character from a game that Casey had really been getting into lately. Some of the images were a bit different from the actual character, and maybe it's just a mother's bias but I think he actually did a really good job. I guess it's no surprise since his dad is a character designer for a game company...maybe our Casey will grow up to be an artist too. That would be nice.

Original illustration by Casey Swadloon.

I was sitting there, slightly crumpled piece of paper in hand and sort of daydreaming about what our Casey would be like a few years from now. He only just started elementary school, but then again it seemed like just days ago that he was rolling around in his crib, not yet able to walk or speak. He seemed so fragile then! So maybe thinking about how our son would be like a few years from now would be nothing more than a daydream, and who knows how he would change as he grows up and makes more friends at school, finds different hobbies... Maybe he'll even put the Vanilla Cat character aside! ...although I kind of wish he wouldn't because truth be told I'm kind of fond of the little white cat myself.

Still, who knows? Lately he's been getting into the Pokemon cartoons on TV, and daddy promised to bring him to the Pokemon Center over the weekend so maybe that'll be his next craze. It's impossible to say!

Pokemon Center

Still, whatever Casey gets into I'm sure he'll still be our good little boy. Even after he's all grown up which might not be something he'd like us to say in front of him (you know how kids get about that sort of thing!), but I'm sure that my husband and I will always see our little Casey as the good little boy who likes a little white Vanilla Cat.

Oh but look at the time! I guess I got too caught up in my thoughts and spent just a little too long daydreaming! I rushed out of the house hoping to catch the next bus in time, but not before taking one of Casey's drawings and putting it carefully into my purse. Maybe on the way back I'll stop by the photo shop and have them frame it. And then we can all decide where would be the best place to display our little boy's art."

Original illustration by Casey Swadloon.

Go to Part 3.

On explaining 1 quote a day, and #8

So first off let's get this thing going. ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Henshin-a-go-go, baby!"
And now that we're done with that I thought quote #8 would be a good time to provide a little bit of a primer on what this whole 1QAD thing is all about for those of you who are just joining us. So what is it? Well it's basically an idea inspired by 2 things: An in-class assignment on pop culture, and the Daily Shoot website, which tasked participants with taking and submitting 1 photo a day according to a provided theme.

From that I was musing about the possibilities and potential of quotes, which I personally believe is a strong indicator of one's interests and influences (and just for the record when I say "quotes" any text-based line is basically good for the taking; catchphrases, taglines, memes et al).

The Shadow knows.
The kinds of quotes people know and can identify with will differ from person to person, and there's also the possibility of being taken down memory lane when hearing a quote from years ago that never would have come up otherwise. In fact, when speaking of the surprising reactions and correct responses to my quotes one case that comes up in particular would be my #5, which I personally thought was kind of an obscure reference that perhaps nobody would be able to identify. Nevertheless several people did and now I know that one of my favourite movies is actually a lot more recognised than I thought, which is nothing if not cool. :)

So with that you basically have the idea and intention behind Project 1QAD. The Project actually started first on Twitter, and I believe a few people are still on that which is awesome, but my submissions will be continuing via this blog/ds106 for the time being so if anyone's interested feel free to join in, with your own quotes or just by guessing where each was taken from. See you on the Project!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 7

ds106 assignment on quotes. Hint: It's not a movie this time..

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Do a barrell roll!"
Oh and when you're done with this go check out 1QAD's latest member!

Monday, 24 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 6

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"You..shall not..pass!"

Sunday, 23 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 5

ds106 assignment on quotes. This might be the hardest one yet..

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"

Saturday, 22 October 2011

On GIF animations and someone's awesome game project

Some stuff I made for the class' final group project. I'm actually putting this here so the other members can view it (because Google Docs doesn't support GIF animations :(), but yea any comments are welcome. Just go easy on the tomatoes. :D (click on a picture to start the animation)

1st day intro:

2nd day intro:

3rd day intro:

Also, I just fiddled around a little more and here's my input for the opening/title screen:

On 1 quote a day, 4

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Are you not entertained!?"

Friday, 21 October 2011

On us as artists

A response to Timmmmyboy's (count the "m's" :P) blog post, "We are all artists."

Guy goes through a bunch of points, but the main idea is basically to question if making art, or being creative is necessarily restricted to "artists". Reference is of course made to the ds106 community, and the fact that there are a lot of people involved who are in fact not art majors nor designers by profession and the argument for, is succinctly expressed in his comparison of art-making to playing sports; one is not generally expected to do well at the start, but is expected to work at it (of course you'd anticipate results from that effort...and hey good news I hear that's usually the case!).

Image source. Have your own demotivational poster?

The interesting thing to consider for me though, is the fact that I am an art major, and I am aiming for a career in design. So the question is where does that leave me? Well contrary to what you might think I actually fully support Timmmmyboy's opinion. I don't really like museums and art galleries because sure you get to see great "art" but at the same time it's an incredibly stifling environment where one is expected to "remain quiet", "refrain from eating and drinking", and generally not run through the halls screaming. This is not to say that I would, but I don't like not being able to. What I'm getting at is that in such formalised environments it just doesn't feel like you're free to take the "art" in and respond naturally.

Experts at the running-through-the-halls-screaming game.

Contrast this to the idea of "everyday art", from reading a magazine to flipping through websites in your own time, at your own pace (or in the case of Timmmmyboy, looking for amazing coffee filters). How do you react to such stimuli? Well...any way you want to really and that's exactly what I'm talking about. Art isn't just art; it's not this walled-off fence with a big sign out front that says "artists only" and just as much as we are all expected to have a degree of common sense and pragmatism, likewise do we all possess a level of creativity and individuality and the desire to express ourselves somehow. When artists do it, it's this thing called "art", but aren't you singing when you're singing even if you're not a Grammy Award winning vocalist? Same deal.
"Don't accept that lie that you're not creative" -Timmmmyboy
The discussion moves on to the topic of having design as a critical intervention in culture, bringing with it the point that we now have the tools to intervene in our time. You don't need to work your way up the corporate ladder in some TV station just to get your program on the boob tube when there's YouTube, and you don't actually need to publish a book to reach the masses when there's push-button publishing. It's the question of passive versus interactive media that totally blows the stereotype of fat kids munching popcorn while watching TV all day out of the water; they're actually up in your YouTubes, getting 23 million views and the support of viewers who choose to legitimise his antics. We are no longer a passive, consumption-based society, but one that is fully (and willingly) engaged in creating and appropriating media input.

Speaking of appropriating media input though, where does this leave formal, rigid institutions such as universities if our culture is increasingly based around intervention, interaction and creation? It's a question brought up on the channel: Is it even possible to structure the idea of learning anymore? This is a Catch-22. For something to be active (or interactive) it cannot sit still and rot (unless you're making alcohol). Similarly if today's fat kids are not gonna be sitting in front of the TV all day the question is what will they be doing? And if the answer is that they're gonna be part of the next big cultural meme then I think you'll agree with me that this is not something that's really predictable, definable or even fair. Like silly YouTube videos.

Here's where huge institutions such as universities run into a big problem: The target doesn't sit still anymore. We've heard again and again that technology keeps advancing by leaps and bounds and it's gotten to a point where it's empowered ordinary users like you and I to put our opinion out there for everyone, for better or worse. So what's the answer? Are universities finished? Jim Groom came on later in the show and aired his doubts on sending his kids to school; certainly a controversial thought. Is he right? Well the question is: Rigid institutions are outdated, but if you don't get into that then what's your benchmark? Not everyone can be a Star Wars Kid and my personal opinion is that we need to come to terms with the fact that traditional educational routes are becoming less relevant and more obscure, but to an extent we still need them. We need them to qualify why the silly stuff we make in our own time is relevant, and "better" than what's big and shiny (see below), because without "that crap on TV" the awesome stuff you're making won't be. Awesome doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Ladies and gentlemen, the big and shiny.

So let's get back to the subject of ds106, because what's really interesting about this is that it's about trying to put all these ideas into one neat little package. It's taking the idea of media appropriation, of user-created content and trying to shoehorn that into a classroom setting. So how's it going? Someone mentioned the following reaction to ds106: Surprise→anger→acceptance→"art", and if you take a look at that what it tells you is that people are uncomfortable, but that discomfort is what could possibly lead you on to the next breakthrough. Why? Because you can; you can choose to slam the Star Wars Kid's gyrating motions, or turn it into the next trend (it's called the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" buttons), or you might be the one putting something out there for the world to evaluate, like we all do on ds106. Or facebook. Or Twitter. Or...

Some things get picked up and some things don't and it's not necessarily a reflection of just quality anymore because so many people are involved and it's also about cultural resonance and so much more. This means that the road to success (however you define that) has a lot more shortcuts and back-roads than there were before, but at the same time those paths sure have a lot of potholes. You might trip, get lost, but you might just finish first and that's the risk you take now with the kind of society we have. It's unpredictable; it's unavoidable, but one consolation is that there are some things that can smoothen the ride, like perseverance, like putting yourself out there, like not going alone, and like understanding that you and I and everyone around now have the potential to take something and re-evaluate that as we please. And then doing that.

Because I do believe we are all artists, even if it doesn't say so on our resume. Derp.

On 1 quote a day, 3

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Thursday, 20 October 2011

On 1 quote a day, 2

ds106 assignment on quotes.

Guess the source and/or complete this quote:
"Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

On trolling superheroes

ds106 assignment on Triple Trolling.

Image: Superman Returns movie poster.
Quote: Spiderman.
Signature: Iron Man.

Wanted to go a little fancy this time and did a full movie poster troll. The idea came from realising the similarities between Iron Man, and Superman who is sometimes known as "The man of steel" (in fact I think it's gonna be the title of the next Superman flick).

With that the only thing left was to add a famous comic book superhero quote and when searching for good Superman images Spiderman's line on power and responsibility just seemed to fit the pose.

Tackling an entire movie poster this time presented its own unique challenges I think, and the main difficulty was in putting all the elements together without something giving it all away. That something was Superman's chest, as all of you spelling bee champs know, "Iron Man" does not start with an "S". Oh no. The solution was pretty simple once I realised it though, and a simple attempt to have glow lighting obscuring the "S" brought with it more context than I initially intended when realising that Iron Man himself has a bright glowy thing right there. :D

Video tutorial to follow. Full size here:

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