Monday, October 22, 2012

My Thoughts and Reflections on Bolter and Gromala's Windows & Mirrors: Chapters 4-6

     I really enjoyed reading Chapter 4.  I had often reflected on how technology evolves; replacing, and improving upon old technology.  And, had often considered that nothing is ever really brand-new as it always had an earlier model that it was based on or inspired by.  What I didn't know was that there is actually a word for this: remediation.  I also found it really interesting when the chapter discussed how, with new technology or mediums, people have the chance to develop and shape them. Often times, it is modeled after something that people are already familiar with, like setting up news articles on the web to read like news articles in a newspaper.  People are already comfortable with this lay-out and therefore are more likely to consider what they are reading to be news.  I got to thinking about this and realized another good example: E-books.  The e-readers that allow people to read books on electronic devices, and the applications that allow the same on computers and cell phones follow this trend.  They are set up just like a book, with the title page, the table of contents and so on.  But, what I found interesting is they also incorporate the visual of turning the page.  E-reader devices, like the Kindle, and touchscreen cell phones, actually allow the reader to swipe a finger across the screen which will “turn the page”.  The visual on the screen resembles a page turning, and if you pause your finger the page too will stop.  The creators could have made it a scrolling page, but I suppose that would have resembled too closely to a web page.  There were probably many options but they went with a style that was familiar to people and would lend more to the “feel” of reading an actual book.  It is something to keep in mind if I ever invent something.

     Chapter 5 spends a great deal of time explaining that it is very hard to determine a set of rules that web pages should follow.  It suggests that conformity for the Web is really not feasible. I happen to agree. This class is the third I have taken for the communication MA degree (finished one, currently in the second as well). And, it has been hammered into my head over and over again that in the field of communication one must always be aware of the audience. What are you trying to communicate and who are you trying to communicate with? If I am writing an article on a theory of remediation for a scholarly journal it will be quite different from an article written on the same topic for Time magazine.  Web sites, I believe, should take that same approach. When creating a site one must always think about the group of people they are targeting and then design it accordingly. A scholarly website may follow a completely different set of rules than a consumer website.  I don’t see anything wrong that. There are so few things in this world that follow only one set of definitive rules, if any, so why would anyone expect the World Wide Web to be any different?

   Chapter 6 escaped me a little bit. I was never a fan of the Matrix movies, though I have seen them.  I do see the fear of the machines taking over played-out over and over again in media, be it in books, TV, or movies.  It was a theme that showed up a few times on episodes of the X-files (Ghost in the Machine and Kill Switch) in the 1990’s and even more recently in the 2008 Pixar movie, Wall-E. In that movie an autopilot program goes rogue and tries to do what it thinks is best for the human race. This movie is a little different as it is humans and good robots VS an evil robot/program.   It is interesting to realize that as a society we haven’t fully gotten over our fear of technology someday turning on us.  It has been discussed in other classes that themes in media, like the current popular movies, televisions shows, books, and even music, reflect the current attitudes and fears of society.  I definitely believe that; I think we can learn a lot about our society from examining the media. And, apparently, we still think the machines might get us one day.  If Mother Nature doesn't get us first (see movies like The Happening or Contagion).

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