Conclusion

This class was immensely interesting to me.  I have always, even without necessarily understanding it, thought I loved “technology” and this course gave me an opportunity to question and explore all the mediums I feel are most relevant to my life today.  While most of the readings for class felt like taking strolls through history, many of the ideas were relevant and applicable to the present.

I am incredibly looking forward to whatever new developments may be coming our way (my personal interest is in the changes that accessible virtual reality may bring).  This may be, for some, a strange and uncomfortable world to live in, but I find it all a little magical and delight in being able to play with it.

One last link that’s not quite related but interesting all the same: How To See The Future

Conclusion

Backspace

I have always liked writing in pencil more than pen, because mistakes can be easily erased and fixed.

How we interact with social media seems to lie on both ends of the spectrum – I’ve used backspace several times just to type this sentence, with seemingly little memory of whatever mistakes I’ve corrected, and even after I post it I will presumably be able to edit it to any extent at any time, yet now that I’m writing it it has been saved, nearly irretrievably, probably somewhere on a server farm in California.  What I write is both fleeting and permanent.

Now that we have so much space to remember, we seem to feel some sort of compulsion to do it, to add to some collective cloud computing idea.  On one hand, it seems to almost celebrate a sense of the mundane, where anything is important enough to be saved, yet it also seems to lose the individual in the masses.  This seems kind of like the same tension in how people talk about cities, and how you can be so surrounded by people and yet feel utterly alone.  Backspace gives us a sense of individual power yet flattens us into a common humanity.

Backspace

Social Media

I was talking to a friend the other day who generally avoids what most would consider social media.  He doesn’t use anything like Facebook or Twitter and generally can only be reached through texts or the various chat functions attached to video game platforms (and we made him get Snapchat).

He expressed something like a disinterest or an anxiety about being constantly expected to talk to other people through social media platforms, a concern which I think people in our class share.  This has always seemed interesting to me since I would generally agree with his statement but I am very fond of the concept of social media anyway.

How do we deal with a feeling that interacting with other people is becoming increasingly complicated?  To quote what my friend said about Facebook, “it feels like getting a tank when all I might need is a water pistol”.  Messaging someone is different from texting them, which is different still from calling or speaking to them in person.  I have personally always felt like I enjoyed the choice that social media offers in communication, meaning mostly the flexibility in a practical sense, but have neglected how the nuances that such a multitude of choices bring might feel suffocating.  We can judge a person by the social media they use and how they use it, can’t we?  Don’t we feel like people who post too many selfies on Facebook are kind of narcissistic while people who spend all their time on Twitter are maybe too invested in celebrities and not enough with their IRL friends?  Don’t we think it’s a poor choice to ask someone out or dump them through text rather than in person (or now, on Skype)?  Considering all the complexities in speech in person, is it perhaps relieving to some people that text-based communication seems to strip away many layers of nuance and then stressful when additional choices add them back in, even though it feels impossible to strip language of nuance?  On one hand, more specialized social media sites may be able to ease some pressure from interaction, but on the other hand, they only add more choices to pick from.  Do we even want everyone to be comfortable with social media?

Social Media

Extra Thoughts

Well, I fully admit that with all the final papers and then flying home for the holidays, I completely forgot to post anything else to this blog.  I’ll write up a few more posts tonight just to ease my conscience and for the off chance that Dr. McNeilly is seeing this.

This was initially a draft sitting by (now for almost a month) of a bunch of small ideas for my final term paper that I wanted to record them for potential future use:

  • the history of controllers, and how we interact with video games through touch – what are the goals of the people who make controllers?  how much focus is on comfort, ease of use?  how are controllers and controls made to feel “natural”, with the way they fit in our hands, respond to our touch?  what about controllers that normally serve other purposes, like a phone screen or a keyboard, and do we use them differently when playing a game?  what about the way controllers interact with us, through vibrations and lights?  this would possibly be best served through research into the timeline and history of controllers.
  • the question of playing god in games – many people seem to prefer video games over mediums like books or TV for entertainment because of the level of engagement (feeling like video games require active participation while others only require passive attention, and there’s probably something about hot and cold media here), but why is this?  how much power do we want in a game (depends on game genre, perhaps) and how much do we expect?  some genres like simulations, tactics, and sandboxes seem to be the most obviously “god-like”, where the player can control anything from an amusement park to natural environment to countries, but obviously still are restricted by constraints of the game and still look to the game for indicators or success.  other genres may offer control over individual characters restricted to a narrative, whether that be a visual novel or an RPG.  arguably one of the most ubiquitous (if generally unnoticed until it’s gone) features of video games is the idea of saving, which i think is possibly paramount in a feeling of control over video games.  how does a player feel if a game takes away the ability to save?  what if the game auto-saves?  what if the game “quick saves”, making save files that can only be returned to once?  what if the game saves even when the player purposefully wanted it to forget?  what if the game is meant to be played over with several saves?  i think it’s likely the main focus of this would be save files, but i also think this is more useful with a study backing it up.
  • similarly to the above concept of passive/active, how does being a fan and engaging in fandoms transform encounters with media that would otherwise be considered passive?  have they become more popular and mainstream?  how do some fanworks become accepted as “legitimate” (Sherlock) while others are ridiculed (50 Shades of Grey) and most others left just among the community (sites like ff.net or AO3)?  how and why does the medium fanworks occur in affect how it is received?  is this better considered from an inside or an outside perspective?
Extra Thoughts