August 2014 archive

Going Beyond Reading | Week Five Reading Reflection

The week five reading by George Landow addresses all things hypertext – the nature of the concept, it’s impact on society and the like. Just a quick disclaimer: due to my sleep deprivation, lack of energy, and never-ending pile of assignments, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet!

Amidst Landow’s outline of the limitations of the terminologies used to describe hypertext, the following quote stood out to me:

“Additional problems arise when one considers that hypertext involves a more active reader, one who not only chooses her reading paths but also has the opportunity (in true read-write systems) of reading as someone who creates text; that is, at any time the person reading can assume an authorial role and either attach links or add text to the text being read.”

Consequently, it is arguable that the title of a ‘reader’ is an inappropriate term to use to label an individual who engages with online content. Hypertext ultimately enables a more meaningful and in-touch relationship between the producer and consumer. The ‘readers’ of hypertext can instantaneously respond to other’s works, by linking out to them in a blog post, or through simply posting a comment on their content. The individual who goes to these lengths is certainly doing a lot more than just reading – as Landow put it, they ‘assume an authorial role.’  Perhaps Axel Bruns’ ‘produser’ (mash between producer and user) would also be a sufficient description.

This level of interactivity enabled by hypertext is not as easily achieved between say the reader of a physical novel and its author alone. You can’t scribble a ‘comment’ in the back page of a novel for the author to receive… If you ‘link’ out to an author in an journal entry, they, nor anyone else, will have no awareness of your attempt to connect. But once you put the book down and open a web browser, you now can tweet at John Green to tell him how The Fault In Our Stars changed your life.

We can all thank hypertext for this ideal.

Blogging About Blogger’s Blogs | Independent

So I thought I’d give my fellow media pals some love! I picked one post from each of Kerri’s, Evan’s and Michael’s blogs to respond to – check them out below!

Kerri’s post: Livin’ la vida Lecture #1 

Kerri’s sassiness in this blog post is simply on point and it makes for a wildly entertaining read. She doesn’t shy from her honest opinions and uses her humour to get them across. I think we all felt a bit lost after the first lecture, but many of us responded in a way that sugar-coated the shock we had just been through. Kerri’s post actually had me laughing out loud as let’s be honest, we were all thinking it. I truly think she could go places with her aptitude for writing in this style. Social media is her platform! You go, Spagkerri!

Evan’s post: What’s all the Hype about?

Having not read the reading myself yet, Evan’s blog on hypertext taught me a lot. His writing style is easy to follow, informative and yet still very entertaining – his gag linking to a Ludacris video actually had me laughing for a good minute. This term ‘hyper-text’ is thrown around so much, and Evan’s approach to explaining this seemingly complex concept was refreshing. I’m quite glad I read his blog before facing the reading myself, as it offered me a basic understanding to prepare myself for whatever George Landow is about to hit me with. Cheers, Ev-Dogs!

Michael’s post: Off Topic | A Very Quirky But Excellent Cover

One of the great things about this whole blogging thing is the way that us students are able to share great content with each other. I know I can always rely on my fellow media students to post something that’s worth my while watching! Michael’s blog post diverted me to a really interesting mashup by Kasabian of Sesame’s street’s theme song  ‘Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street’ and  The Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations.’  Weird, right? I was immediately curious and found the cover to be surprisingly good. So thank you Michael (I don’t have a nickname for you… apologies!) for that peculiar yet feel-good viewing experience!




Network Literacy In Education | Week Five Lecture Reflection

An interesting point in last week’s symposium was the industrialised nature of the school system, and whether or not network literacy should be more of a focus.

I would argue that some aspects of the school system are in fact out dated. Thinking back to highschool (the entire nine months ago that it was), one of the most used phrases in the classroom was undoubtedly…

 ‘When am I ever going to use this in life?’

Although the question was always ineffective and we’d inevitably have to do the work regardless, the annoying kids who would ask it often did have a point. As Elliot mentioned, the retention rates of content learned in high school are remarkably low. In my experience, I can safely say my knowledge of the steps of cellular respiration is quickly slipping away from me, and I couldn’t even tell you what the point of a matrix is. Was this content therefore useless? What good will it do for us in the real world?

It’s difficult to say if more of an emphasis on network literacy will solve this issue. However, the extent to which technology is becoming increasingly abundant in the school classroom should be made known. Laptops, iPads and interactive whiteboards are consistently used for class activities, and are arguably driving the classic pen and paper out of the picture. If children and teenagers are making use of these devices and the Internet to such an extreme, wouldn’t it be logical that they are taught at least a basic understanding of network literacy?

I tend to think that there is not much point in attempting to educate a grade five to code HTML – like my diminishing knowledge of cellular respiration, it is something that they are likely to never use again. In saying that, there is certainly a basic level of Internet etiquette that should be taught and understood, and will in fact be useful for almost everyone post graduation. For instance, the fundamentals of copyright and the ability to judge the validity of content on the net is something that all children and teens should be aware of. In a world that has become extremely reliant on the Internet, we should at least have an understanding of the medium we are dealing with, and where our online actions could lead us.

Reacting to Reactions | Independent

It’s funny how we can enjoy watching another person react to just as must as we can enjoy (or not) an experience ourselves. Ben and Rafi Fine, also known as ‘TheFineBros,’ are the creators of the ‘React’ webseries’ on Youtube. It all began with ‘Kids React,’ in which children are shown viral videos and are then asked questions about what they just saw. Due to the shows immense success, Ben and Rafi expanded the series and created a multitude of different versions –  ‘Teens React,’ ‘Elders React,’ ‘Youtubers React’ and more recently the special edition ‘Celebrities React.’ To date, TheFineBros Youtube channel has close to 10 million subscribers.

A relatively new feature of the show is that instead of watching a video, participants react to unfamiliar technologies. I thought the following episode was very appropriate to this week’s reading – also very entertaining and cute!

Ted Nelson: Genius Or Psychic? | Week Four Reading Reflection

This weeks reading by Theodor Nelson is really quite astounding. Published in 1992, Nelson proposes a stream of theories and predictions based on hypertext and computer technologies for the future. Although some concepts raised were quite difficult to comprehend, it is very interesting to compare his speculations to our current means of technology and usage.

Seemingly, during the period of authorship, the entire field of technology and computing systems was a bit of a mess. The design and functional properties of computers at the time was extremely disorganised and opened ‘whole new realms of disorder, difficulty and complication for humanity.’ Whilst some attempted to embrace the new technology, many others were hateful towards it and were hopeful that the notion wouldn’t take off.

Nelson however developed his own approach to the matter. He claimed that these problems would be solved if attention was directed to the re-design and simplification of the technology.  This, in turn, would create a more user-friendly experience and provide knowledge across platforms via hypertext.

He then delves into is the concept of ‘Project Xanadu,’ which was something I’d never heard of. He explains the project as a ‘hyper-text system to support all the features of these other systems.’ Xanalogical structure was based upon one pool of storage that can be shared and simultaneously organised in many different ways. This ideal sounds much like the fundamentals of the Internet, which makes me wonder if the later birth of the Internet in 1989 was an expansion off Xanadu Sytem or if the Internet instead dominated the idea of Xanadu out of the picture.

The section that struck me the most was ‘The 2020 Vision.’ The following excerpt is particularly remarkable:

“Forty years from now (if the human species survives), there will be hundreds of thousands of file servers—machines storing and dishing out materials. And there will be hundreds of millions of simultaneous users, able to read from billions of stored documents, with trillions of links among them”

Nelson is scarily accurate. For one, the human species have survived – hooray! But we are also living within this digital age, surrounded by these ‘machines’ that offer us a world of information at our fingertips. According to Internet World Stats, the system is an infinite resource containing almost a billion websites (not to mention pages) and there are currently seven billion avid Internet users across the globe. It is amazing to consider the dramatic proliferation that technology has undergone in such a short span of time, and how on Earth Nelson was able to predict this with such accuracy almost forty years prior. It is hard to imagine how much more advanced it can get in the next forty years, but I am so curious and excited to find out!

Technology is awesome. That is all.



Illiteracy VS Literacy | Week Four Lecture Reflection

It’s always interesting to see where the discussion in the weekly symposiums heads. One simple question can take us to a whole new branch of different concepts for us to consider.

A key thought that I took away is the idea that there is no fine line between being illiterate or literate in any given area. More specifically, there are many different LEVELS of literacy. It is much more appropriate to arrange these levels on a continuum rather than dividing them into two discrete categories.

For example, take network literacy. There is no defined checklist of things you must know or do in order to be given the title of being ‘literate’ in the area. Sure, you might be able to code HTML and CSS to make a simple webpage. Don’t get me wrong, that’s impressive and all, but it is very probable that someone else has a higher level of expertise in the area. They might have a more extensive knowledge of HTML and CSS, or maybe they’re even responsible for the development of the tools you use to input your HTML. However, this does not mean that they are network literate and that you are not. They simply have a higher level of network literacy on the continuum.

I was thinking about this in relation to my own life. I would think that I have a reasonable level of network literacy – I’ve been an avid internet user for 10 years and have experimented with a range of mediums. By no means am I an expert, but I also am not completely naïve. On the other hand, my Mum was quite late to conform to the realms of the Internet. With time and painful teaching procedures however, she has since developed the basic skills necessary to perform Google searches and the like. Have a look at the continuum now:


Evidently, we all lie somewhere on this continuum. I think it is almost impossible to reach the pinnacle at either end.

FRIENDS Lovin’ | Independent

Sorry blog, I’ve neglected you this week!

Picking a favourite television series is a big call to make. There are so many great shows out there that we are almost overwhelmed for choice. Before you make the be all end all decision (just kidding, but seriously), there are several things that you must first consider. In my opinion, the following signs are indicative that a show could in fact be your all time favourite:

-You’ve seen every episode at least three times (and still find it entertaining).

-You find every day situations reminding you of the show.

-You quote it so much that you drive your friends insane.

For me, that show is without a doubt (drumroll please)… FRIENDS! I know it’s a bit of a generic answer, but let’s be honest, it’s the best show ever. It’s not often series that finished ten years ago still resonates with viewers today. Unfortunately I was a bit young for it’s initial release, but discovered it soon enough and it has since been my go-to program. Credit to the creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, the brilliant crew and of course the awesome cast for piecing together such a timeless series.


My reason for bringing this up is that I came across an entertaining BuzzFeed article titled ’61 Things You Didn’t Know About Friends.’ Although quite a few of these facts were familiar, a fair amount still came as total surprise. One of my favourites being…

‘53. James Michael Tyler was cast as Gunther because he was the only extra who knew how to operate an espresso machine.’

How hilarious! Any Friends fans out there NEED to check this out. Click here!



Are Literary Essays Pointless? | Week Three Reading Reflection

Of the three readings this week, Paul Graham’s ‘The Age of the Essay’ pleasantly and ironically surprised me. I’ve personally always loved writing – expressing myself, communicating with others and exploring ideas that interest me in a critical way. But give me the task of writing an essay based on classical literature, and I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Why is it that the subject of English language has become forever associated with ancient texts? As Graham discusses, it is basically the result of a ‘series of historical accidents.’ European classical scholars began the tradition almost a thousand years ago when they re-discovered the texts we now know as ‘classics.’ The work and careers of these scholars revolved around these texts, and although their studies were fascinating and prestigious at the time, they have since declined in relevance and importance.

So why has the study of classical literature since remained a core part of the school curriculum? Essentially, this out-dated and seemingly useless teaching method has stuck around because we are inherently copycats, mimicking the ways of those who are academically ‘higher’ than us. Students are imitating the ways of English professors, and English professors imitating the work of classical scholars. It seems pretty ridiculous when you think about it that way.

What’s intriguing is that many of us would never question why it was that we were writing essays on these redundant texts. It has been the norm of the education system for some 700 years, and despite the generalised dislike towards actually doing it, it is rare that someone would query ‘why.’

In my view, good writing comes from individual interest and fascination in a subject. Classical literature is personally not my cup of tea, and thus essay writing on its basis was never something that enthused me during high school. A lack of interest results in a lack of motivation, and a lack of motivation leads to poor writing. Not to mention the painful process of stringing together a dreary essay just because you have to.

It is interesting to relate Graham’s article to Adrian’s ideas of network literacy. Maybe the underlying point here is that we need to modernise the means of English teaching in line with our current technological-driven society. Instead of enforcing essay writing on ancient texts, maybe it should be replaced with the encouragement and tuition of blogging on an area of personal interest. For me personally, and I’m sure many will agree, it is a much more rewarding experience after all.

Check out Paul Grahams article here and Adrian’s piece on network literacy here! Both are worth a read.

Intention Is No Defence | Week Three Lecture Reflection

The arrangement of yesterday’s ‘Q&A-style’ symposium was unique to any lecture I’d experienced before. It almost felt like I was a part of a studio audience on some sort of talk show –call it ‘Media Talks,’ heat up the debate a little and insert some dramatic sound effects. Jokes aside, it was interesting to hear the variation in tutor’s answers to the questions raised.

Related to the week’s previous readings on copyright, the first question discussed the fine line between critique and defamation. A key concept I took away was the fact that your ‘intention is no defence.’ I thought I’d write a little story to explain this further…

Bob is your everyday top bloke. Builder by day, blogger by night. He writes a blog post on his view of how male tennis players should be paid more than female tennis players. He critically outlines his reasoning, such as how males play longer games, attract bigger audiences, and so on. Bob uses the tennis player Sally as an example to add some depth and substance to his argument. Bob has no intention of offending Sally, and tries to be as gentle as possible in addressing the sensitive subject. However, Sally happens to come across Bob’s post and she is immediately shocked and offended. She claims that Bob is being a sexist pig towards her, and thus her people take action against him. Despite Bob’s protests that he didn’t mean anything by it, he is sentenced to prison.

Okay, so that ending was a bit dramatic. I’m unsure of what the specific consequences of that scenario would be but whatever the case, the outcome wouldn’t be a good one for poor ol’ Bob. A hefty fine is more probable than a jail sentence, but for the purpose of the story, let’s just roll with it.

My question is, what if Sally made these claims, but she was clearly out of line? What if Bob said something so innocent and the only one who interpreted it as being sexist was Sally? Does a formal judge decipher if something is truly sexist, or is that only Sally’s call to make? It seems almost ridiculous that merely one interpretation can be the determining factor. There are some pretty oversensitive people out there, and how is it fair on Bob if Sally is one of them?

I might have to do some more research or raise these ideas in class. #fightforbob!

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