Goldsworthy Elements of Design Project

Who knew playing with sticks could be so much fun?

Elements present:
-movement
-repetition
-balance
-shape
-texture
-form
-unity

I found inspiration in this tree with these really cool branches:

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I loved how they were naturally curvy. You typically don’t associate branches with being curved like that. So I thought it would be pretty cool to create something that curves. The sticks/twigs/branches all around very very malleable, and after a bit of experimentation, this was the end result:

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Homophily – Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Homophily is an interesting term – that you’re likely to befriend, talk to, work with and share ideas with people who’ve got common ethnic, religious and economic background with you. – (See more at: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2008/04/25/homophily-serendipity-xenophilia/#sthash.OEaaVKGb.dpuf) I agree that people with the same interests will hang out together, because who wants to hang out with someone who is constantly disagreeing with you all the time? Or someone who doesn’t like the same music, hobbies, political views, or life views? Therefore, the people that you hang out with will likely share the same views and get their information from the same sources as you. This may keep you very close-minded. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, I’m personally not going out in search of friends that don’t share any of my interests; we wouldn’t stay friends for very long! It is, however, interesting to talk to people with different viewpoints, because you will always learn something new.

In my life, I typically get my news information from Facebook or a simple, quick Google search. I won’t always dig – (unless I am doing a research project, say, on Google and Baidu. :P) However, when you dig, you find some interesting things. I typically have a million other things to do in a day, so I won’t dig too deep into something. Anything that is going on in the world I usually find out by word of mouth or overhear on the news that happens to be on in the break room at work. Is this a bad thing? To me, no. To someone else, it might be. However, its not something that I value. If politics and world news were something that I valued, I’d dig a little deeper. Plus, how do you know when something written is the truth? When I really research something, I always find contradicting views. How do you know which one is correct?

I fully believe in homophily; alike people will stick together and will likely receive the same information. However, I think its important to search out someone with opposing viewpoints. School is an excellent place for that! This class has broadened my horizons a bit and has allowed me to think a bit differently and seek out more information. Politics and world matters aren’t as boring as I thought, and digging a little deeper is good for you!

Media Ethics

This week’s resources:

http://www.projectcensored.org/the-top-25-index/
http://www.ttbook.org/book/paul-levinson-digital-mcluhan
http://www2.kuow.org/program.php?id=23975

Media ethics is an interesting topic. We all know a media source that could learn a thing or two by reviewing the professional journalist code of ethics. However, I think that people are generally good, and this applies to journalists as well. According to the journalistic code of ethics, these are the guidelines that journalists (generally) follow: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable.

I have to say; the week in class where we covered media ethics was by far the best class I have ever attended in my entire history of attending school. It was incredibly interesting, and had me googling every topic (no, I promise that wasn’t me texting) as they were presented.

First I want to bring up the Yes Men. These guys are great. In class, I was in the group that reported on the Yes Men and the Chamber of Commerce/climate change issue. Basically, one of them posed as a member of the Chamber and held a press conference, saying that the Chamber had changed it’s views on climate change. This was just one of many “pranks” these guys have pulled where they bring light to more controversial topics in the media. When the Chamber of Commerce/climate change incident occurred, the news media took the story and rolled with it, broadcasting it across the country, before they even knew it was a hoax. Oops. This made me think that, in terms of media ethics, these news sources that shared the story had, well, not very good ones. They didn’t double check the story. They didn’t verify the credentials of the man that was speaking at the press conference. They just took the story and ran. And they certainly didn’t seek the truth and report it. All they sought out was a breaking news story.

In the Weekday podcast, The Moral Dilemma of Advertising, an interesting topic was brought up about a newspaper in Seattle that has an “adult” advertiser that is exploiting underage prostitution. This advertiser has posts from 3rd parties, and don’t come right out and say “underage prostitution! Come and get it!” As one of the guests on the show put it, a person would really have to know what they are looking for, as it would be in a kind of “code.” It makes me think of that movie the Mechanic. Jason Statham (swoon) is a hit man, and he places advertisements in the newspaper and the like for his services as a mechanic. However, certain people know that he is actually a hit man because of the way he writes his advertisement. Kind of like an “underground” advertising type deal. So, according to the Communications Decency Act, this deems the advertiser not responsible for what people post. It’s not the advertisers work, so they can’t be held responsible for something they didn’t do. And this makes the Mayor of Seattle very angry, because he wants the media source to drop this advertiser. The source, however, disagrees with the mayor, because it is not their fault that there is an underage prostitution problem. In fact, the representative of the media source goes on to say that it is in this way that predators are caught. The Mayor thinks this is a horrible way to look at it. But the media source has a good point.

So, is it ethical that they want to keep these advertisements? I think so. While I may not agree with these “adult” advertisements, it is a good way to catch these bad people. Plus, they don’t know what a “bad” advertisement is. If these are the kinds of people this source wants to advertise to, then it’s their choice.

Tuning into all of these resources made me think of something: the media reports what they think the people want to hear/see/experience. Why would they report something that would highly offend? They want viewers, and unethical reporting would turn them away. As I stated before, people are generally good, and will therefore report on things that (typically) won’t offend.

After reviewing Project Censored, it made me a little sick to think of all the things that were being censored from us. Some of these things are very important topics, yet we will never get to hear about them. Same with lots of other things not listed on that site. It kind of freaks you out. What else are we missing out on? What important topics are we missing out on, just because the media decides we don’t need to hear it? Actually, its quite sickening. The media plays a big role in how we see the world. If it decided that every kind of sickness needed to be covered (thinking along the lines of the recent Ebola “scare”), then we would think that we were going to catch a bunch of different things at any given time. Or if they decided to cover nothing but happy, positive stories, then we would think the world was a relatively happy, fuzzy place.

How do you think the media shapes how you view the world?

Crossing Ethical Boundaries; What Do We Do About It?

This week I listened to 3 podcasts: You Decide, We Report; Sue You!; and People in Holes, all from On the Media. I find them all interesting in their own way, and I believe that they can all link together, in a way.

The first podcast, You Decide, We Report is about search engine optimization and how journalists will continue to try and get their stories to show up on the first page of a Google search. Brent Payne, director of search engine optimization for Tribune Interactive was interviewed, and his job is to ensure that a Tribune article lands on the front page of Google when a search is conducted. If you are anything like me, you rarely go to the next page of search results on Google; you typically just don’t find what you are looking for. So Brent’s job is to come up with a carefully crafted title so that when searched for, will pop up as one of the first results. No slang or nicknames, but to-the-point information and words. This is the opposite from what it used to be, as a play on words and “punchiness” was what once used to get people to read an article. However, fancy titles won’t get people like Brent anywhere if they want their articles to get picked up on Google. To me, this kind of seems like a lack of personality, or a lack of uniqueness. As I said in a pervious blog, we are losing our connection with the media of old, which promoted creativity, craftsmanship, and uniqueness. So, will reporters like those of the Tribune “sell out” as I see it and start writing things just to get recognized by search engines such as Google? I suppose they can put some of their creativity in their articles, but not being able to title an article something catchy is one lost little bit of creativity. That’s where it starts! Another thing I found interesting in the podcast was when they questioned, “who are we to say what is or isn’t important?” That is, why should journalists decide what is the most important to the human race as a whole? I find this to be another “robotization,” if you will. Most of the time, people just take what is in the current news and accept that that is what is and should be important. Most people don’t dig deeper for stories or events that may be more pressing. Personally, most of what is in the news today is of little to no interest to me. My brother says I need to get involved with politics and stay up to date with what is going on in the country, but honestly, I find it to be its own little “Hollywood,” with nothing but drama, and people throwing uneducated opinions around left and right. It doesn’t interest me. Sorry. The things that do interest me, however, I will go out there and research.

The second podcast, Sue You!, kind of made me laugh a little. It was about the court case between Liskula Cohen and Rosemary Port. Rosemary Port, who was the author of an anonymous blog, wrote a post about Liskula Cohen and in it called her a “skank.” Liskula took great offense to this and wanted to sue for defamation. In order for her to sue Rosemary, she needed to know who she was in the first place. A New York court agreed with Liskula, and Google had to turn over Rosemary’s information. Needless to say, Rosemary was not happy. And after it was revealed that Rosemary was the author, who turned out to be an acquaintance of Liskula’s, Liskula decided to drop the case. However, Rosemary then decided to make a case against Google for revealing her personal information. Typical girl drama. This is why I have so many male friends! The point here, though, is should Google have released Rosemary’s information? Also, should people be made responsible for what they say on the internet? To me, this is a tough one. I don’t think Google should have released Rosemary’s information. Come on Liskula, grow up! There are going to be many haters out there. When you are in the spotlight, its inevitable. As much as I would like to, I won’t say what I personally think about Liskula. Not only is my name on this blog, but I do have a sense of what the proper place and time is to share personal things about people. Don’t set yourself up for failure! And, even though Liskula didn’t like that Rosemary had to say, Google had no right, in my opinion, to release Rosemary’s information. It was an anonymous blog, and it should have been kept that way, defamation scandal or not. Maybe it should be a learning experience of Liskula; she should take into consideration what people are writing about her, because maybe there is a hint of truth in it. Just saying.

The last podcast I listened to was People in Holes. This podcast is about the “magic” that is created in the media when people are stuck in holes. Kids trapped in wells, mines that have collapsed, men trapped in caves; people always seem to be super compelled to tune into these stories more than any other. I feel like when tragedies such as these happen, not to mention the recent shooting out at Marysville Pillchuck, they get glorified into something so great, but only for the benefit of the media covering it. Yes, it is a tragedy, and should definitely not be ignored. I’m in no way saying its its not a tragedy. J. Frank Willis, reporter from the Canadian Radio Commission that covered the collapse of the Moose River Mine in Nova Scotia in 1936 goes on to say that, essentially, people take what these reports have to say and twist or. Or, other media comes up with a little twist that makes the story more interesting. Willis is in absolute opposition with this fact, and thinks that only the actual facts need to be reported, and I wholeheartedly agree. In order for people to stay tuned into a certain station, they will put on related material, like “experts” in an area that have to do with what is going on, just to get people to tune in. To me, this seems to glorify the tragic event that is happening. It builds it up, in a way, to something that is either “better” or “more interesting.” I think that the facts need to be stated, just like Willis says, and nothing more. When the Marysville shooting happened, there was all kinds of information out there. I even read an article from the UK that had incorrect information. I think this is the case in a lot of aspects in our lives; we like to make things seem more interesting than they actually are because we like that escape.

Now, in tying all these podcasts together, I think we can link them all in terms of media ethics, for sure. Where is that line? Should journalists pick and choose what they write just so they can get a “front page listing” on a search engine? Should Google expose an anonymous blog poster just because a sensitive individual didn’t like what they had to say? And what about when the media covers a tragic event; is it really necessary to embellish or simply throw out incorrect information? I think the bottom line here is, as always, money. Journalists want people to read what they write. They want people to click on their links, and they want people to tune into their network, even if all they are covering is fluff. People want to sue other people (and companies), just because they can. I agree that Google should not have released Rosemary’s information, but to turn around and sue them over it? And for $15 million! Way to go, ‘Murrica! I think “new media” is taking things to an entirely different level and is causing companies to toe the line quite a bit.

As much as journalists want to stick to their morals, new media is making it difficult for them to do so. Periodicals want, no, need, readers, but search engine optimization is forcing them to do things a bit differently. When will this stop? Will it stop? Will it ever be about something other than the money? Do we need all the fluff, or can the real story tell all that needs to be said? What we need is a new kind of revolution. We’ve invented all these great resources and outlets, yet a lot of them are being taken down a “dark path.” (I’m remembering the second week of class, when my group came up with the the thought, “what if Google does dark?” What a terrifying thought!) Ethical lines always seem to be getting crossed, like a game of tug of war between an evenly matched team. So, I guess the real question is, what do we do about it?

Lost Connections: Does “New Media” Give Us What We Really Need?

I didn’t get far into Part III The Medium and the Message of Peter Lunefeld’s, The Digital Dialect when I had some interesting thoughts come into my head. This section of the book was a bit different from what I had expected, but it was indeed a pleasant surprise. Its about this relatively new wave of “new media,” that is, essentially, this digital revolution we have been experiencing and continue to experience. We get our information from electronic devices, connected to the world wide interwebs, an endless supply of information. Information both good and bad, helpful and useless. (Cat photos, anyone?) We are spending more and more time with this new form of media. But the thing that made me really think was this: how is this new wave of media affecting us? How does it affect the way we see things? Or the way we interpret information, the way we interact with people, the way we handle our relationships, the way we live? And what was/is so bad about old media?

I was born as the digital revolution was starting to take hold, so I was exposed to some “media of the past:” newspapers, books, radio, word of mouth. Now just about everything I read comes from the internet on an electronic device. Its very hard to imagine life before these things because we rely so heavily on them these days. I even read books on my iPad now. The shift from print to digital, to me, was seemingly subtle. When you look back, there was never really one specific time period that it occurred, it was more a gradual change. Then bam! Suddenly, it seems, everything is digital. But why? Why is everything so digital-based these days? Is it really better?

While reading, I came across a lot of interesting things, and most of them were pretty similar in that they agreed that new media seems to be taking away that personal connection we have with the tangible medium. There is nothing like opening a brand new book; the smell of the pages, the crackle of the spine. Or even opening up a very old book; that old book smell, and the thought of the history behind the book, from where its been to who has handled it. I remember watching a video about Gutenberg and his printing press; in it, they explained how books were created before the press. Scribes had to hand write each page. Not only that, but a lot of books were hand decorated with beautiful, colorful flourishes. No two books were the same. There is something so personal about that. You can feel and connect with it. If we don’t know the true meaning of life, and will probably never know the meaning of life, then why don’t we experience life as it is? Connect with the things we can connect with. There is something so real about holding something in your hands and experiencing it with all of your senses. We aren’t robots, but I feel like new media is kind of turning us into them. A computer doesn’t have a smell. It doesn’t really have a history, and its so “industrial” looking that you can’t really connect with it. Everything you see on it is two-dimensional, so its harder to interact with than something that is three-dimensional, like a book or a newspaper.

There was an interesting comparison in the reading about having a cup of coffee in Vienna versus having a cup of coffee in L.A. The writer said that in Vienna, when you order a cup of coffee, it comes in an actual cup, with no lid, so that you can see and smell the coffee; really breathe it in and experience it. In L.A. However, you get your coffee in a paper cup with a lid. You can’t see it and you can’t smell it. There is no connection there. I thought this was a great comparison with how people interact with older, more tangible media versus how they interact with newer, less tangible media.

So why the need for new media? Is it better? Does it get the message across more clearly? One view that was brought up in the reading really touched me. “The underlying message of hardware producers has always been one of ultimate salvation. And the problems that were supposed to disappear have always been memory problems: tokens you want to remember but cannot, and tokens you cannot forget. Today, we have a wide range of machines to help us remember, but only a few contraptions that help us forget. Perhaps we need to focus on forgetting.” This is such a powerful statement! It is great to go back and remember what we did so we can learn from our mistakes, but is this preventing us from living our lives and making new mistakes? Life is not perfect. Nor should we even try to make it such. We were not designed to remember everything. If we were, we wouldn’t have this problem! I think a lot of people have a very difficult time forgetting and letting go of things out of their control.

Now, tying in the podcast, Earthbeat: Goodbye, I think it can definitely relate to new and old media. In the podcast, there was a man that purchased a beautiful house, for a miniscule amount of money, that was built on the edge of a cliff that is literally falling into the ocean. He bought it for a great reason. He didn’t buy it to make the news or to be a show-off. He bought it because of what it represented. This big, beautiful piece of artwork, essentially, that is slowly disappearing. One day, it will fall into the ocean and will cease to exist. To make it even more poetic and awesome, the man used this house as his art studio. I think this house can easily be compared to old media. It is slipping out of our fingertips, and there is nothing we can do about it. Or is there?

The house can be saved, if the man is willing to put millions of dollars into it. Old media can be saved as well, but there has to be someone willing to do it. Should we let it go, or is it something worth saving? And is new media really what this world needs? Do we need to remember absolutely everything? New media has changed the way we communicate with people; instead of face to face, we send text messages, chat over the phone, or instant message. Where will this lead us?

I’ll leave you with this last quote, which I absolutely love. “The task of the designer is not to create a better button, but to determine if buttons are required in the first place.”

Just because we can, does it mean we should?