Sunday, November 29, 2009

MX: Response to section four of the language of new media

I found the idea of representation vs simulation via the different stages of the screen as discussed in previous readings. The position of Representational apparatuses were characterized as requiring the body to be fixed in space, where as simulation requires a seamless blend between the physical world and the simulation through comparable scales and bodily participation.

These categories are illustrated through example in the selection. The Classical screen requires the viewer to focus on the painting or photograph. It also held the creator immobile while the object was in progress. As cinema came of age, it immobilized the viewer to a new extent, where as television was constructed to allow for interruptions and conversation between viewers. This immobilization is due in part to the "cinematic eye." This requires the viewer to put themselves in the shoes of the shot-the story is built through multiple viewpoints construct a representational space on the screen which the viewer is a part of while suspension of disbelief is taking place (the frame within a frame theory discussed in an earlier response).

But various forms of virtual reality threatened to break this representation filled world by marrying it to simulation: the panorama. viewers are placed in the central viewing area, becomes subordinate to the virtual space.

Another way the author describes representation vs simulation is a comparison to renaissance paintings as opposed to a fresco or mosaic respectively. Frescos/Mosaics are integrated with structures and become an environmental experience, where as a renaissance painting is clearly separated by the frame (or classical screen) and ask the viewer to focus directly on the painting.

This made me think back to Baudrillard's "Simulacrum and simulation" where Baudrillard discusses Disney world as a simulation whose walls are the only thing that separate the real world from fantasy. This fantasy reaffirms the existence of the real world.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

MX: Response to section three of the language of new media

This section was devoted to the genealogy of the screen. The author defines a screen as "the existence of another virtual space, another three-dimensional world enclosed by a frame and situated inside our normal space. The frame separates two absolutely different spaces that somehow coexist." The author follows the screen through 4 major evolutionary steps: the classical screen, the dynamic screen, the screen in real time, and the interactive screen. It through these 4 paradigms, the author chronicled what the major characteristics were and how the next built off of the previous.

The classical screen is therefore considered to be something along the lines of a renaissance painting forward. This in my mind is justifiable by the definition of a screen provided earlier because we began to see representations of "true" perspective in this time frame.

From this form, the dynamic screen emerged much later, although retaining conventions from the former such as horizontal formats being called landscape mode and vertical formats being called portrait mode. A dynamic screen retains the abilities of a classical screen to contain/separate a second environment while also adding the ability of the subject to be temporal, so able to change over a set amount of time. This is exhibited in Cinematic media, such as film or television. This paradigm relies on suspension of belief by viewers to remain engaged.

I thought that it was an interesting point that this suspension of belief can be easily interrupted if the screen is not fully filled to the border. As the author noted, like in a movie theater we may be annoyed if the screen isn't totally filled by image, therefore making us conscious of the real world beyond the representation. I will catch myself saying "wait a minute, i'm watching a MOVIE," if my concentration on the screen is broken. He also expresses a different level of commitment between movies and television.

The computer screen draws it's origins from two paradigms that build off of one another to create it. The first being the screen in real time, such as radar. This was developed by the military during the 1940's for surveillance purpose. For the first time, the screen could show "current" events instead of only the past. This, however, was somewhat of a problematic screen that relied on more human power than was sensible. This was mitigated by creating a new device, a light pen, which allowed the user to interact with the screen to track specific movement. This is considered a precursor to the mouse, and introduced a new paradigm for the screen when Ivan Sutherland created sketchpad, a rudimentary drawing software in 1962. This allowed the operator to interact with the screen/computer to change something on the screen, therefore changing it in the computer's memory in real-time. Today, the real-time and interactive paradigms converge to allow for the GUI and computing as we know it.

I think that the real-time principle employed in radar is similar to web 2.0. Constant updates in content and applications function in the same manner-technically it's in "realtime," but is also a past event once posted, if only by seconds.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MX: Tight Wireframes/task scenarios

Process on my interactive portfolio site! EXCITED!!!

Directions/Descriptions are in the images.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

MX: Response to section two of the language of new media

This reading confirmed where I thought the author was going with the last excerpt: old conventions evolving and culminating in the new convention of a GUI

In this section, the author starts off with the point that our generation of users/designers have been raised in a media-rich environment dominated by television, which is responsible for a user who favors "cinematic" language over print language. He also talks about the resultant GUI as the first universal/global language: Everyone all over the world are using similar browsers that employ similar visual metaphors.

The author also talks about the mobile camera as the most common employed cinematic metaphor in GUIs, which is something I've never really thought about before. Zoom functions are seemingly ubiquitous across many applications; there are even pretty consistent quick keys being employed (apple +/apple -). It was a very subtle reference I've never actually noticed before.

At one point, the author discusses the relationship of the page to Virtual reality devices, likening the act of scrolling to that of "turning" your head in a Virtual Reality-both are viewed within a rectangular frame that allows you to see certain content at certain times, but there is more content outside of the allotted view, creating a larger overall "reality" or content field. He also talks about the role cinema in video games took on, creating a half movie, half interactive experience within a virtual environment as a segue to cinema's roll in data spatialization.

Another example of an important convention being employed from cinema is the "dynamic point of view." I feel like this is used with in the internet a fair amount in conjunction with the idea of zooming. In an old find and share example from Sheila (I can't find it on the blog, but I know it was some kind of sustainability lesson site that used animals and referenced the form of a pop-up book when giving eco-advice. I think it was called Eco-zoo) the user is introduced to a 3-d space they must navigate through as a space with multiple views. Therefore, it is an actual spatial experience.

Finally, the author discusses Bolter and Grustin's "remediation" principal-translation, refashioning, and reforming other media for content and form. This is seen through the evolution of the HCI in the context of common use. In the 1970s-80s a computer was used in the office setting, hence the "desktop" metaphor. In the 90's the computer became media access machines, hence the tendency toward VCR/CD player controls, while over the past few years to the present, it is becoming a distributor of cultural objects, which I feel like the internet is the tool that is changing to help cater and facilitate this (ie. Web 2.0, user generated content, open sourced programs, etc.) but I will be interested to see how platforms change as a result to this. I've seen some examples of a change in HCI with the Iphone, such as the bump to share function (two users can trade phone numbers/files by choosing the info to share and then "bumping" phones), which reflects the fast pace nature of how we share information today.

I think the quote I appreciate most from this reading is speaking to the competition between print and cinema as a part of cultural interface: "One wants the computer screen to be a dense and flat information surface, whereas the other insists that it become a window into a virtual space." I think with the right balance of suspension of belief to mind's eye visualization, that is where you find the successful HCI.

Friday, November 13, 2009

MX: Response to section one of the language of new media

I really appreciate the way that the author has set this essay up through hollywood metaphor, and enjoy drawing connections to other concepts we have been focusing on this semester and in the past few years here.

First I would like to note the parallels the author draws between philosophical movements and how GUI's either have grown out of or help to facilitate user interaction. The mention of Marx's ideal citizen doing completely "separate" activities throughout the day and the convergence of work and play in comparison to how we interact with computers and the internet. Doing similar tasks producing both work and play (for example, research/inputting data for work as well as searching/streaming music from the internet and so on.) I also enjoyed the theory of the emergence of Hyperlinks and postmodern spatialization and deconstruction ideas brought forth during the portion about the evolution of pages from stone tablets all the way up to separate windows on a computer screen. I feel like this idea of giving cultural context and thought to an essay on "cultural interfaces" is a very smart one.

In the first portion of this excerpt when the author is discussing content/medium v content/interface, I thought back to a lot of things we learned Junior year when we made communication models-theories such as cultural context(aka noise) and how it relates to the author mentioned Whorf-Sapir hypothesis (different cultures, different perceptions of the world) that was popular mid 20th century and how this model relates now to humans trying to talk to computers, vice-versa. The author makes points about how the GUI negotiates the robot talk into "meat-speak" that validate the WS hypothesis as acceptable in this context, which is where i began to understand the basis of another theory he calls "non-transparency of the code" (basically a technologically revamped Whorf-Sapir hypothesis).

In the portion titled "The language of cultural interfaces," I began to think about the discussion we had last week about transparency vs reflectivity and graphic metaphor prompted by the wooden mirror reading. It is my understanding that maybe there are a few separate levels to deciding whether something is reflective or transparent. For instance, I think that a GUI on a computer screen is reflective. I draw this conclusion because I am being shown a workspace/"desktop" with windows (pages), folders, waste baskets, etc. instead of the underlying code. It is not portrayed as a "universal media machine." On that level, it's reflective. But I also feel like web pages that are designed with little content enhancing or slanting aesthetics to be quite transparent, once I stop worrying about visual metaphors such as windows or back buttons, I am not so worried about cultural interface/noise and more interested in the content.

But maybe I'm wrong, who knows. Regardless, the author mentions cultural interfaces being made up of intermingling "elements of other, already familiar cultural forms." This I see as reflective, but also necessary to get people to interact with such a foreign object that a computer secretly is.

The overarching point that I am getting out of this reading is that the HCI (human computer Interface) is built from Cinema and the printed word (which he calls "the three main reservoirs of metaphors and strategies for organizing information which feed cultural interfaces") to create a new continuous and flat information landscape that is non linear while being able to be hierarchical if the right designer comes along.

So who is going to be Christopher Columbus to this theory? Not me. I have to say that dated technological references aside, this is mostly on point with my world views.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Visual Advocacy: Design Ignites Change

project title: No one wins in a pillow fight
project description: Neither do they in a "hate" crime. My idea is geared toward members of, or connected to the LGBTQ community in the Kansas City area. It is a series of events to raise money for non-profit organizations that provide victim services for survivors of bias (or “hate”) crimes. These events feature “silly” acts that mimick violence, like a pillow fight, that not only calls attention to the ridiculous nature of hate crime, but how anti-productive they are. This allows a community building, charity based event to occur.
a representative image: