Remediating Theory Proposal

The central argument of our text is first to present the idea of the DJ as a digital griot: an archivist deeply rooted in past traditions, a “timebinder” connecting past present and future, and a storyteller performing for the community.  The central argument then goes on to say that this figure of the griot should inform our scholarship of black rhetoric and that we should seek to be “digital griots” ourselves in linking past traditions with the present and future and in seeking two way communications with the communities we wish to serve.

One important subargument of the text is that “DJing is writing”, that “we live and write in a remix culture” and ‘that new writing practices like pastiche, boilerplate, and assemblage [are] as “equally valued” practices as the standard essay’.  And furthermore that many of the practices and tropes of DJing are already things we teach and value in writing.

Another important subargument is the idea that scholars should seek to create “meaningful, sustaining, two-way relationships” with communities instead of “the traditional one-way service model”.  That it is easy to fall into the trap of the “old colonial missionary role”, and “miseducate” young blacks causing ever greater alienation between scholars “on the hill” and the community.  Instead, like the griots, we should seek to be “facilitator, even trickster, [rather than] than teacher in the traditional sense”, bringing together communities to discover the ability within themselves.

Our group plans to focus on the aspect of time-binding and remixing of griotic figures in remediating our text.

Our first object will be a mixtape demonstrating the art of time-binding and linking the bast present and future.

Our second object will be a twine version of the book.  It will likely not contain the entire book but certain passages with links to outside references as well as internal links to its own passages.  The author says the book itself is meant to be a mixtape and what better way to reify that idea than to  disrupt “the notion of a linear text” and create and actual non-linear text with technology.

Our third object will be a yet undecided object created in the fab lab.

 

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Twine Video Games Reflection

The two games I played were The Entropy Cage and (Do Not) Forget.  The Entropy Cage is a Parser-like game where you take the role of a “cyber-psychiatrist” tasked with talking to “subs”, sub-sentient programs that coordinate our future society.  As the game goes on you are caught in a war between two powerful subs, one which seeks to control the allocation of resources for other subs in the name of greater efficiency, the other of which is on a quest to find the “true random”.  In (Do Not) Forget, you play as a cube-shaped bunny as he discovers that his small desert island is not the small desert island he thought it was.  As the game goes on you meet other cube-shaped animals and go on a quest to expand your perceptions and discover the colour of the sky.

The structures of the two games are very different.  The Entropy Cage imitates a parser game with you being given a choice of commands to use to interact with subs such as punish, query, promote, etc.  Throughout the game you make choices as to whether to aid or ignore various subs that ask for your help but the main decision that matters seems to be just the one at the very end.  You can side with the “true random” seeking subs resulting in the “zero” ending where society collapses as subs become consumed by the quest for true randomness and neglect their duties.  Or you can side with the other side resulting in the “one” ending where the newly appointed “g0d” sub phases out creativity in favour of efficiency.  There is a hint towards another alternative as the game states “your existence is no just zero or one” but if there is a third ending I have yet to find it.  In (Do Not) Forget however, you navigate the game by clicking options to travel to places on the island.  At any point in the game you can double back and revisit places you’ve already been, sometimes with changes, simulating an open world navigation.  Despite the greater freedom of this “open world” however, the storyline seemed to be rather linear, and usually there was only one place to go to progress despite you many options.

One thing I can potentially use in the creation of my own game, is an open-world like format similar of (Do Not) Forget where I allow players to revisit previous areas.  If the storyline ends up more linear though, it may be more conducive to the narrative not to do something like that to prevent people from wandering around searching for something that is not there.

Twine Project Proposal

I intend to make a continuation to the story of Undertale.  The question I will explore is how the monsters and Frisk, as ambassador between the humans and monsters, will deal with the humans on the surface world who will likely reject the presence of the monsters due to a history of war between them.  The argument I will try to make is that the ending we see in Undertale may not proceed as smoothly as it appears at first but also that there is, like in Undertale, a peaceful solution.  At the same time, like in the original Undertale, there will be the option to fight and kill those that stand in your way as a reference to and critique of more normal games where combat is the main solution to your problems.  The target audience will be those who have played and are familiar with the storyline of Undertale but there will be a brief explanation for those who have not gone through it as well.  One difficulty I forsee is that Twine does not really lend itself well to the creation of a combat system for the option to fight but I believe in this case I will simply have to live with the limitations and try to get the point across without such a system.

The Walking Dead Blog Post

Throughout this episode of the walking dead, the game tries to make the rhetorical arguments that the world and the people around you respond to the actions you take and that sometimes you cannot please everyone.  You are constantly reminded by the game that the people around you respond to your actions and choices with messages like “X took note of that” or “X will remember that” and sometimes you are rewarded for certain actions.  If you chose to try and save Clementine from the zombie in the bathroom the game will say she will remember that and she will thank you later.  The game forces you into situations where you cannot satisfy both sides such as when it makes you chose between trying to save Shawn and Duck, between trying to save Carly or Doug and in the argument over whether Duck had been bitten or not.  Again you are rewarded for certain actions you take, if you side with Kenny and argue for keeping Duck alive in the argument over whether he was bitten, Kenny will remember your loyalty and save you near the end of the episode.

The game embodies Bogost’s ideas of procedural rhetoric and “persuasion through rule-based representations” by modelling a world through rules and presenting that world to us with choices.  The game has some internal model of the world and our choices are fed into that model and the resulting consequences form rule based procedural rhetoric.  In some sense though, this game only shows a limited degree of procedural rhetoric as large storyline shifts are impossible with the actions you take.  Regardless of who you chose to help, the same person survives and it is likely that you survive at the end regardless of whether you show loyalty to Kenny.  This is a partly a consequence of the resources available to the game and need to stick to source material but nevertheless shows some of the potential limitations of procedural rhetoric.

Video Game Blog Post

One videogame that particularly embodies the elements of procedural rhetoric is Undertale.  Undertale is a top-down perspective style role playing game that subverts the usual rules of the genre by making it so that you do not have to kill the “monsters” you encounter to progress through the game.  Every battle, from major boss fights to random encounters can be resolved without killing the opposing party.  There is an option to fight and kill, but you can instead show “mercy” if various ways by dancing, complimenting and more.  Through showing mercy over the course of the game, your character can understand and even befriend many of the monsters encountered.

The game’s unique combat system embodies the reading’s idea of “persuasion through rule-based representations”.  By twisting around the rules of usual combat systems, the game presents us with “monsters” that are not the normal nameless “mobs” we  kill in “normal” games but are their own race of people with hopes and dreams that we can learn.  We may then think about the countless faceless monsters in “normal” games like Super Mario, monsters that we slaughter en masse without thinking about it in the name of saving the princess or whatever goal there is.  One may wonder if those monsters could have had a personality or a story behind them.  This may then be applied to real life and how easy it is to think of oneself is a protagonist of one’s own story, and how easy it can be to not consider others’ perspectives and perhaps dehumanize other’s as monsters the way monsters are dehumanized in games.

By subverting that rules of the genre, and giving, and even encouraging an option that is different from the mindless killing we have become so familiar and numb to in normal games, Undertale truly embodies the elements of procedural rhetoric and “persuasion through rule-based representations”.

Video Clip Analysis

The clip begins with a long shot that serves as an establishing shot which establishes the where as well as implicitly establishing the when as the palaeolithic era.  It then moves to closer long shots that shot what the subjects are doing as the apes shoo away the other animals from their food.  There is then another long shot as one of the apes is attacked by a cheetah.  Then there is another long shot that is also a group shot showing the group of apes in a confrontation with another group.  Then there is a medium shot focusing on a single ape’s face and body as he reacts to the appearance of the black monolith followed by a long shot of all the apes waking up and gathering around said monolith.  Then there is a close up of the monolith with the sun appearing over it, symbolizing the enlightenment it is bringing and the change about to follow.  There is another long shot, establishing the apes gathered around the bones of some animals, followed by a closer long shot as one ape looks at the bones.  There is a brief flashback to the close up of the monolith signifying that it is somehow responsible for the change in thinking.  Then back to the long shot as the ape begins to discover the use of a bone as a tool.  There is a close up shot of the bone as the ape raises it up to strike, showing both action as well as its significance.  Then there are close ups of a skull getting smashed interleaved with shots of an animal getting struck down as it shows the ape’s mind forming uses for the tool.

Documentary Proposal

Subject: Diversity on campus.  How a common University of Illinois student would embrace his or her culture on campus, and whether it is accepted or not.

Argument:  That people tend to stick within closed groups of similar, homogeneous people and not expand outward very much.

Target audience:  People interested in learning more about culture in university of Illinois.

Visual evidence: Footage of diversity and people around campus in places like Main Quad, Siebel Center, etc.  Interviews with people.

Problems/Difficulties:  We anticipate difficulties with getting our visual evidence to correlate with and support our point.  We will get around this issue using voice-overs and quotes from interviews is make our point clear.  We also anticipate difficulties with possibly uncomfortable questions during interviews.  To get around this we will start with easy questions and ease into the harder ones as the interview gets rolling.

Documentary Project Pitches

Pitch one : Copyright.  How copyright laws have become increasingly draconian.  Specifically how the DMCA anti-circumvention clause threatens to destroy fair use. Target audience: students with creative aspirations who may desire the protection of fair use.  Also anyone concerned with increasingly strict copyright laws and anyone who may have indulged in less-than-legal activities through p2p file sharing etc.

Pitch two: The computer fraud and abuse act.  The hugely broad and vague language of the CFAA.  How the justice department holds that violation of terms of services that no one ever reads is a violation of the CFAA.  How anything from lying on facebook to using work computers for personal purposes could be a felony.  Target audience: everyone.  Everyone who has skipped over the TOS for a website.  Just about everyone could be a felon under the CFAA.

Pitch Three: A combination of the above two.  How the situation is evolving so that normally non-criminal violations (copyright infringement and breach of contract) are now criminal.  How this essentially allows companies to write their own laws through either TOS or DRMs, laws that have become criminal to break.  Target audience: everyone.  Just about anyone who has used a computer.

Digital Soundmap Reflection

The main limitation of experiencing sound digitally through the soundmap is that you cannot truly listen multimodally.  You cannot see the visual elements that go along with the sound, and unless you have really loud speakers, you won’t feel the sound through your body.  Ultimately you can only “ear” the sound on a digital soundmap.  This leads to a few differences from actually experiencing it in the C-U environment.  Oftentimes I found sounds would sound differently in my recordings than when I experienced them.  Sounds that I thought were clear in my experience would be inaudible in my recording.  This is because of the minds ability to pick out and zoom in on certain sounds that is missing in a digital recording.  Also, without a visual element to help you identify sounds, oftentimes it would be difficult to identify and visualize what made the sounds I recorded based on “earing” alone.

Third Assignment-Alexander and Ceraso

In Alexander and Ceraso’s papers, we see two different takes on sound.  The main argument of Ceraso being that sound is not just heard through the ear but is a multimodal experience incorporating many senses.  Alexander’s main point however, seems to be one of challenging hierarchies, that sound should not be conflated with or subordinated to text as a compositional mode, that performance should not be subordinated to the perfect form of a piece, that technology should not be subordinated to performance as a mere documentation tool but a creative tool in it’s own right, and even that consumers should not be subordinated to the artist as part of the creative process.

The two paper’s contain several similarities.  Both agree that sound is more than just hearing, with Alexander often calling it a “somatic” or bodily experience, and Ceraso saying that it is “a multimodal event that involves the synesthetic convergence of sight, sound, and touch.” (3) Both also say that sound should not be subordinated to or conflated with ordinary text with Ceraso saying that “I agree that it is important to stress the similarities between composing with sound and composing with alphabetic text in order to help students see how the textual composing techniques they are already familiar with relate to other modes as well. However, sound is also a distinct mode with distinct affordances, and it is rarely treated as such in multimodal composition.” (12)  Alexander agrees saying that sound is often forced into a “writerly” framework or undervalued “at a high cost.” (4)  Furthermore, both articles talk about the uniqueness of the performance and the role of the consumer in the creating soundscapes with Ceraso saying that at a concert “By screaming out lyrics and yelling and clapping, we are shaping the sonic experience as it is unfolding” (5) and that “I cannot feel the music as I did at the concert, or participate in the sonic event in the same way.” (5)  Alexander also speaks to the uniqueness of performance by citing the differences in Glenn Gould’s two recordings of a particular song and saying that  his performances were “particular performances, crafted by a particular engagement with music and an instrument.” (10)  He also talks about how technology allows consumers to be “very active in the creative process” (9)

The differences is the articles is largely a difference in degree of elaboration.  The idea of sound as a multi-sensory experience is central to Ceraso’s article while Alexander only mentions it in passing.  On the other hand, Alexander goes into much more detail on the importance of not conflating sound and text, the uniqueness of the performance, and the role of the consumer in creation while Ceraso only touches on these topics briefly.