Designing Culture – New Text – 3

Word Cloud of key terms by Anne Balsamo

Reading this book made me think about how key terms really differentiate the work of each scholar. Anne Balsamo’s work  on the subject of New Media, sets her apart from other scholars due to her unique approach and ideas. She uses everyday terms like imagine, and innovate as the main central idea in her book.  All of us think of innovation when it comes to technology, but imagination is something we tend to overlook. The terms in Designing Culture make it a highly provocative book, which pushes the reader to think and act.  Below are some of the important key terms, with accompanying quotes from Designing Culture:

  • Technoculturethe interaction and politics of technology and culture.

“Technoculture must be understood as a historically specific formation: it is contingent on particular historical actions and forces, but not necessarily determined by them.” (Balsamo, 8)

  • Technological Imagination: A mindset that enables people to think with technology, to transform what is known to what is possible. allow for the continuity of cultural experiences across generations.

“The education of technological imagination is not just the business of engineers and computer scientists; on the contrary it is the responsibility of educators across the curriculum.” (Balsamo, 7)

  • Innovation: technological innovation: Balsamo gives us ten lessons of Technological Innovation. These lessons help us in gaining an understanding of her definition of Innovation.

“Those who engage in technological innovation are not simply involved in the creation unique consumer goods, digital applications, gadgets, and gizmos, but also in the process of designing technocultures of the future.” (Balsamo, 5)

Balsamo, AnneDesigning Culture: The Technological Innovation at Work. Duke University Press, 2011. Print.

Designing Culture – New Text – 2

There are only four chapters in the print version of Designing Culture. Since they form the main important aspects that Anne Balsamo tried to convey through her work, I wanted to do a review of them in the wiki page.

Chapter 1 – Gendering the Technological Imagination 
This chapter is an extension of the discussion on the topic of gender from her previous work. Balsamo states that, “Technology was always gendered. We just didn’t recognize it as such.” This chapter draws heavily from many feminist theories. The chapter begins by explaining how “intrinsic aptitude” is known to be the cause for imbalance in high-level positions held by men and women in many sought after fields. Towards the end of the chapter, Balsamo argues that the aim of femenist technocultural studies should be to theorize and critically analyze the situation of gendered subjects.  As a femenist, Balsamo herself intents to participate in the act of designing technoculture in ethically and socially responsible ways.

Chapter 2 – The Performance of Innovation
In this Chapter Balsamo shares her experiences as a member of RED (Research on Experimental Documents). This was a collaborative research group at Xerox PARC. They were responsible for creating experimental reading devices and new media genres. Balsamo shares her experiences as a new media designer for the development of RED’s interactive museum exhibit, XFR: Experiments in the Future of Reading.

Chapter 3 – Public Interactives and the Design of Technological Literacies
This chapter focuses on the literacy a designer must always take into consideration when designing interactive media. Balsamo examines new forms of literacy and scholarship. It also reflects how the interactives draw on existing literacies and require new ones for the future. It looks into the ethics of designing public interactives.

Chapter 4 – Designing Learning – The University as a site of Technocultural Innovation
In this chapter Balsamo discusses Designing Learning, and examines the role played by the University. According to Balsamo, in the Digital age new contexts and new habits create new subjectivities. This chapter also lays focus on the field of digital humanities in the University, and its role in transformative research. Balsamo touches topics like Education 2.0. She makes references to work of  other scholars like Henry Jenkins and Sherry Turkle. In the final section, she discusses how the future is shaped, and spaces are created due to the innovative research.

Balsamo, Anne. Designing Culture: The Technological Innovation at Work. Duke University Press, 2011. Print.

Designing Culture – New Text – 1

The book I chose for this assignment is Designing Culture by Anne Balsamo. I chose this book since I was impressed by the reviews on Amazon which emphasized the deep connect between culture and technology. After doing some research online, I became completely in awe of  Anne Balsamo. As a new media theorist she does a thorough job of presenting her work.
I think as important as theory is in this field, it has to be backed by some sort of obvious practice. Anne Balsamo’s website related to this book is so very interesting. One can easily tell she spent a ton of time, creating a interactive Flash website. I often notice how few scholars, write heavily about technology, but they fail to invest time in their blogs or websites. Since this is a transmedia project, it makes sense to collectively read the print version of the book, and to go through the contents in the website as well. The website was a bit more interesting to me, as it kept me engaged the entire time.Below is an overview of the contents of the website:

Print:  This page has a brief introduction to the author, her research interests, and a brief description of the book.

DVD: The print version of the book is accompanied by a DVD, titled “Women of the World Talk Back”. This resource is on feminist activism, and how it is affected by multimedia.

Exhibits:  This is the most interesting page in the entire site. It has many interactive exhibits. And furthermore, it has a Marshall McLuhan analyzer, that presents the exhibit based on what he would have to say about it.

Wall:  This page has many interesting wall books, which take the user on a journey through the histories of reading. Again, the use of flash to build these pages is outstanding.

Maps: This page has a bunch of amazing mind maps, that present topics such as the museum, technology etc. It basically maps the technological imagination.

Videos: Here are a collection of videos, related to topics in the book. Some of them are created by Balsamo, but few of them are her selections of interactive applications.

Blog: Here Balsamo basically goes into length to discuss some key aspects of her book.

Below, is a presentation of Balsamo talking about the book a few weeks before it released. In the presentation she talks about the highly interesting subject of technology and culture by the numbers. She also focuses on the transmedia aspect of her project, and gives us a short introduction to the book. This video is worth a watch to get the author’s perspective and context of the book.

Balsamo, Anne. Designing Culture: The Technological Innovation at Work. Duke University Press, 2011. Print

The Language of New Media (Post # 2)

The following quote by the author Lev Manovich encompasses his personal goal through this book,

“It is my hope that the theory of New Media developed here can act not only as an aid to understanding the present, but also as a grid for practical experimentation.”

Production Process 

As our group was trying to tackle the question about the Production Process, I found the above video, which clearly tied in with the research related content in our book. Taking the writing research class last semester, I learned about research methods, methodology, sampling, surveys etc. In this video Manovich talks about his experience as a professor and his research methods. Many scholars can gain and learn from his methods. He demonstrates how he uses advanced technology to analyze games, images, and other visuals. Therefore the depth of his research work clearly comes forth in this video.

 Film and Cinema 

“The Language of New Media” was quite an intensive read, since it heavily relied on film theory. Some of the terminology used by the author was very deeply rooted in film and cinema related studies. I found a map that made connections of all these terms. Lev Manovich talks a lot about how new media has evolved from the old avant-garde art of the early 90’s.

After reading this book, and many positive reviews on it I’m convinced that as a literary and pedagogical text this book has great classroom potential. The term “New Media” is defined, in a very useful manner with much clarity and depth.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. Print

Reflection on Blogs

I commented on the following classmates blog posts – Amanda, Cheri, Diane, Eric, Jennifer and Susanne.

It was great to see so many perspectives on just two particular weekly topics. I concentrated on the blogs about the first few chapters in Lingua Fracta, and the ones that dealt with “Do Androids Dream of Electric sheep” by Philip K Dick. I found myself struggling a bit with both these books, but more with the novel. I think others blogs served as a review for these chapters/books. I was excited about the various fun videos/images I would get to see, but suprisingly the content in each blog was far more engaging.  The posts contributed to my learning by giving me a better understanding, and clarity with the five rhetorical canons.

TIP OF THE DAY: To gain a better understanding in complex concepts, go read a PhD students blog.

The Language of New Media (Post # 1)

Lev Manovich’s book,  The Language of New Media does a complete dissection of the term “New Media”. It is undoubtedly a complex work with a highly detailed introduction section, and thoroughly researched chapters. Apart from reading the first two chapters I read some online reviews of the book, read about the author and searched for content online in relation to the book. I found Lev Manovich’s blog which can be a useful resource for anyone interested in New Media related Studies.

Chapter 1 – What is New Media?

I found a short video that had the definitions of the five important principles in Chapter 1. This video is worth a watch for clear definitions and explanations/examples given for each of the five terms.

The latter part of this chapter talks about all the misinformation related to the term “new media”. I agree with the author’s claim that New Media helps users to become authors of someone’s work. For example, in this blog post I am interpreting Lev Manovich’s work, adding further meaning to it, and presenting it. Thus, although the original written work belongs to Lev Manovich, New Media facilitates in bringing together different online resources so I can re-write my own interpretation of his work.

Chapter 2 – The Interface

“As distribution of all forms of culture becomes computer-based, we are increasingly “interfacing” to predominantly cultural data: texts, photographs,films, music, virtual environments. In short, we are no longer interfacing to a computer but to culture encoded in digital form” (80).

Lev Manovich - Representing the Mac culture

Lev Manovich author of "The Language of New Media"

Based off the image above, I have an my own illustrative example. If computers can be considered as cultural texts, I clearly see two emerging cultures, the PC and Mac culture. I have always been a PC user, and find myself at ease in this culture. However, in certain settings I am required to interface with the Mac culture as well. Thus, my illustration clearly shows how distribution of all forms of culture has become extensively technology-based.

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. 1-111. Print.

LF: Chapters 5-8

Aristotle - The Rhetor

Aristotle on Style – “Authors should compose without being noticed, and should seem to speak not artificially but naturally” (118).

Perspective (Style)

“…it is impossible to account sufficiently for the relationship between the visual and the verbal in a single chapter, particularly when there are entire books on this subject” (114).

The above quote shows how perspective is a complex yet an important concept in terms of the way something is said/portrayed.  Simply put style is the casual versus the formal manner that is adopted when something is verbally said, or visually represented.

Plato - Phaedrus

Plato on Memory – ” If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls, they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, by means of external marks” (145).

Persistence (Memory)
I wrote in my previous blog post about how memory is losing its importance, as more different types of texts, and technologies are being utilized to do the job of storing information. A great example of this is the search engine Google. It receives, regurgitates and provides large amounts of information. It’s just easier on individuals to go back to google, rather than to rack their own brains.

Performance (Delivery)
If you want to do a google image search or YouTube search for the canon of delivery, type ” rhetorical canon of delivery” instead of just “delivery”.

Trimbur’s asserts in terms of delivery and medium that “ may look at first glance to be a traditional genre exercise, but in fact, it involves much more”
This makes me think about the  Conference proposals I’m drafting for two other courses this semester. I’m at my wit’s end trying to say all the right things strictly within the 250-500 word limit. Although it’s a teeny abstract, sometimes what is intended is not rightly delivered, especially in the genre of conference proposals.

Brooke, Collin Gifford. Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2009. 113-201. Print

LF: Chapters 1-4

The Lingua Fracta textbook came as a suprise to me, since I expected New-Media  and Rhetoric to meet in an article of few pages, rather than in a book. Since chronologically, these topics are so widely apart from one another. I was compelled to read the preface which further elaborated that this book was aimed at creating an encounter between technology and rhetoric.

Hypertext binds together a variety of positions, tones, voices, authors, and contexts, but it does not do so in the interests of a single thesis or focus (4).
Chapter one about interface focused on Hypertext, and I was thinking about how hypertext is extensively used on the internet these days. We continuosly link terms back and forth, and make connections. I found a video that aptly justifies the use of the term “apocalypse” in this chapter.

5 Rhetorical Canons

Chapter 2 about Ecology introduced me to a few new terms. One term that I researched further was “media ecology“, and I found out that is was not so new after all. This chapter also revisited the famous classical rhetorical canons. Page 29 talks about how delivery and memory are largely fading in importance as texts are becoming less oral, and more in the written form. I thought the image below interestingly demonstrates that very nature of the canon of memory.

“Rather than focusing on the process of individual writers, hypertext criticism is an intervention in ecologies of culture, claiming that hypertext was inherently incompatible with the tradional figure of the author” (62). 

Reading the introduction of chapter three gave me a sense that although hypertexting helps the author in making connections, it also hinders the process of invention in writing. Furthermore, it also gave me the idea that technology is a large distinguishing factor between the traditional, and the mordern author. I tried googling “Proairesis” to get a better idea about the concept, but all I could find was information about “prohairesis” with an h. However, I found a blog titled “Proairesis”, with a very apt comic strip to represent the concept.

On a quest to roller skate

Chapter four in this text discusses pattern in terms of sequence, data mining, databases, mapping, and mining. I always feel the toughest part of being an  English major is adapting to the canon of arrangement. Yet, this chapter gives high importance to the subject of arrangment. WordPress for me is a writing tool that makes arrangement such an easy process. The concept of Pages, widgets, categories, archives, tags makes the content so easily understandable for the reader. It also gives the writer the power to direct the readers in the way that they wish to.

Brooke, Collin Gifford. Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2009. 1-112. Print

NM: Key Concepts: Chapters 5 – 8

New Media - The Key Concepts


Chapter five in New Media: The Key Concepts, talks about Archives. This chapter gave me a sense of how it is next to impossible to keep any secrets in the digital world anymore. Infact, the word privacy is largely having a cliched connotation today. This latest timeline feature on facebook  shows us how the largest networking site is able to records all the countless events in an individual’s life,on a single profile page.


Great example of Software & Hardware Interactivity

In terms of the human-machine interaction, most of us come across this on a daily basis. I was a proud “dumbphone” owner for as long as I can remember. Last year, I was compelled to teach an elder how to use their blackberry. It was like the less knowing human going to teach the least knowing human, on how to use a very alien technology. I’m a computer person, and I can get around most softwares with ease. But the smartphone in question was the Blackberry Bold  9900 series phone. The problem arised since I’ve never used a blackberry before. This being the most advanced of all the preceding series, took me a good one month to master. I’m convinced I’m using the longer method to call the voicemail number, since it takes me a good 10-12 clicks to hear a voice message. Therefore my interactivity with machine in question is still “good from far, and far from good”

 “For Baudrillard, this culture of simulation has three key and interrelated features. The first is that computer modelling can be used to design and ‘crash-test’ objects or ideas by running them through imaginary scenarios that predict and perhaps shape events before htey take place. The second is that reality gives way to hyperreallity – that which is more real than the real”.
(Location: 2306 of 3244)

Second life is popularly growing social networking site, that is evidently different from the networking sites we often use. On this site, an individual creates a simulated online version of themselves, and interacts with other simulated characters on the network. Although highly creepy I think this site a breakthrough for simulated communication technologies. A great example of what this site has achieved is they regularly conduct real-time concerts, and raise funds for charity organizations.

Gane, N. and D. Beer. (2008) New Media: The Key Concepts. New York: Berg Publishers.

DADES: Chapters 1-5

TIP OF THE DAY: The only way to make a non-fiction reader read a sci-fi book is to assign it as a textbook.

A sleeping android

A Sleeping & Dreaming Android

Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick was an highly engaging read for me, since I picked up a sci-fi book after a very very long time. My first thoughts after reading  few chapters was that this author was definitely thinking about Dinosaurs while writing this novel. I was always suspicious of the existence of real Dinosaurs on the face of the earth, even with all the fossil findings. Moreover,today all that remains of them are wonderfully animated movies, toys, and some so called “museums”.

After reading the first chapter I was taken aback by the concept of dialing, although I know for a fact dialing nowadays gets a tonne of work done. Yet, I still agreed with the mood 888 – The desire to watch TV no matter what’s on it. Wall-E is one of my all time favorite  Post-Apocalyptic sci-fi movie (it is a must-watch too). I would say the story in this novel is a lot like that movie. with machines that emote moods and feelings, and a very explicit underlying green message for the audience.

Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Ballantine, 1996. 1-60. Print