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Something light-hearted today’s class reminded me of.  A parody or spoof about the idea cities are becoming more and more like museums.  What if everything became what they call an art project?

This is an attempt to work with the framework of flow within J.H. Falk and L.D. Dierkling’s The Physical Context: Exhibits and Labels in their book Museum Experiences.






Above is an image I took at the Smithsonian Institute in May of 2006 of the Hope Diamond, found at the Museum of Natural History.

Now, when 18-year-old Mitch was visiting the Smithsonian, he had exactly in mind what he wanted to see and in many was he was the person that Falk and Dierkling described as the person that did not read the labels.  When I walked into the Museum of Natural History, the first exhibit you walk into is the display of the Hope Diamond, the rest just appears to be a bunch of rocks and bones.  I did not read the labels because I felt as if I already knew what they were. There was a disruption of flow based on how Nakamura and Csikzentmihalyi describe in their article The Concept of Flow on page 92

Staying in flow requires that attention be held by this limited stimulus field. Apathy, boredom, and anxiety, like flow, are largely functions of how attention is being structured at a given time.

Walking into the Museum of Natural History, the first exhibit you see and everyone is gathered around it is the Hope Diamond, probably the most famous artifact.  Walking around throughout the rest of this museum went very much against what Falk and Dierking on page 74,

Museums are novel environments, full of strange and wonderful things.

Yes, the Natural History Museum is full of unique items, but the problem is, after seeing something like the Hope Diamond at the very beginning, everything pales in comparison.  It all looks like a bunch of bones and rocks and you are not sure if you are passing the same thing multiple times.

Later, visiting the Museum of American History, I feel as if I fell more in the range of Falk and Dierking’s notion of a person that reads labels — probably because I already knew much about the items there and wanted to both see them in real life and know more about them.  Really, the more I reflect on this and think more about the people I was with while in DC, I understand why I act the way I do in museums when the interest is there.  If I do not know much about the topic, or do not really care, then all I want to do is get through the exhibit and find something more exciting to do.

Chunking information in a subject area that is new to a visitor is not an easy cognitive task.  The visitor who already knows about Chinese ceramics will find it much easier to deal with a case full of Chinese vases, regardless of exhibit design, than one who knows nothing of the subject (79-80).

The flow of the museum is important, but however, if the visitor is there to see one thing and nothing else, especially if the most famous artifact is one of the first things you see, keeping people interested may be more difficult than expected.  Imagine if the Mona Lisa were in the lobby of the Louvre (I have never been there, so I cannot say if it is there or not). Would people go through the rest of the museum when the most well known artifact is at the very beginning?


While reading Carroll’s chapter Horror and Humor, I understood the connotation — I saw a lot of myself watching horror movies and laughing the entire time.  Really, has anyone noticed that whenever we watch a movie, the scary part happens, we jump or scream, and then laugh about it seconds later.  But, what I did not understand is how Carroll stated a human and a monster are two different things — even going as classifying the movies as two different genres.  However, would one not classify human action more terrifying than trying to make a person believe Frankenstein’s Monster is roaming around the countryside and going to throw your daughter into the pond? (Compared with the book, which is a different story all together, focusing on the horror of being alone in the world rather than being born evil.)

The video below is a list of five technologies that are presented as being scary, but should they fit in the realm of horror, is the presentation of these items meant to humor us more and is this dangerous?  The difference between Frankenstein’s Monster and these technologies is, we know the technologies exist — they are not otherworldly or creatures we hear about through folklore.  Maybe we should be looking at human action and ideas as a source of horror rather than monsters.  Maybe then, we will not look at something and laugh about it after the fact — it is much easier to fix something before rather than after.

I am not a person who finds clowns funny or frightening, I find them annoying more than anything.  I have another post coming, but as I was reading this, I thought of this music video for a song by Blondie directed by Jonas Åukerland.  This video features one clown seen as the humorous happy go lucky guy wanting to proclaim his love.  The other clown is seen as the monster of the two, forcing the good clown into the Tiger’s den, where he is subsequently killed.  Carroll described clowns as an entity that fit in his combination of horror and humor, and this video shows both sides of the coin, where one clown represents humor, the other horror, and the tiger being the monster.

One page 116 of their book, Film Theory, Elsaesser and Hagener state:

[W]e do not experience any movie only through our eyes.  We see and comprehend and feel films with our entire bodily being, informed by the full history and carnal knowledge of our accultured sensorium.

Can the same be said about design? Do we have technology we view as an extension of ourselves — that we feel are a part of us?  Sure we have people out there who go as far as taking their laptop to the bathroom with them, but do we go as far as feeling their effect on us — not just physical, cause we would all be talking about eye strain, but an emotional effect, that when we see an item, it makes us happy or if it makes us sad?  McCarthy and Wright have their paper, Empathy and Experience in HCI and state,

[T]he empathetic approach, which builds on inspiration achieved from a rich understanding of people’s experiences, dreams, expectations, and life contexts and is developed through a meaningful emotional encounter between designer and user.

Maybe a lot of what we need to look for is beyond the surface.  An online community I am part of is For as morbid as it may sound, I have been working on putting together my family tree by linking where they are all buried.  To many people, the first time they may use this website, it may just look like a bunch of headstones, but when a person becomes part of the community, the emotional encounter between the designer of the group and I has become apparent.  Seeing these pictures and knowing these are people that helped shaped who I am today made me feel so much more than seeing a picture on the site, I felt connected to not only the people the pages memorialized, but also the people that helped put this network together — realizing there is so much more behind it than just what I see at the surface.


I am still playing around with my final paper topic somewhat, but I am thinking something in respect to what I want to call the post-Facebook political campaign (Mitch writing about political campaigns? Who would have thought?).  Here is what I’m thinking about and my basis:

In 2008, the Obama Campaign used social media heavily as a campaign tool to get the name and positions out there, much more and effective than, say the McCain Campaign.  However, since then, the use of social media has dropped off, in fact, did we really see that much of a push on social media to sign up on  The Obama Administration appeared to have moved on from social media campaigns, other than a few paid Facebook ads here and there.  What happened? Are we now moving backwards to what it was before 2008?  How are we going to capture the youth vote now if they are moving away from social media?  Why are we moving away from social media?

My favorites are the Twitter trends which are many times put together by Super PACs to make it look as if everyone is feeling a certain way nationally on Twitter in an effort to persuade younger voters to be more conservative or liberal, but do these really have an effect?

That is where I am at with my paper. Right now. Exploring what I have already observed and personally think this is a topic I could shape into my capstone project.

Any thoughts?

What I cannot figure out with Joanne Entwistle’s book chapter is why she did not include any visual examples.  Sure fashion trends come and go, but she could have shown the same woman wearing different garments and point out the differences between how a woman is portrays herself.

Hilary Clinton was first lady from 1993-2000, where she had the role of being the president’s wife. It is not an official role and she did not get paid for being First Lady.  What she wore was feminine, had bright colors, lace, form fitting, etc. Could she have worn these same clothes and be taken seriously as a leader when running for President in 2008?  Compare the two images, the one above and the one below based on what she is wearing. What kind of message is she portraying? What is she saying about herself?

My point here is an attempt to give a visual example for Joanne Entwistle’s argument. Which I agreed with as I was reading, but would have had a better understanding of if she gave me visual examples other than just describing garments.  Over spring break, I remember watching the Today Show and there being a segment about the Wrap Dress turning 40.  Would have I understood what the wrap dress even was or it’s role in feminism was by Matt Lauer just standing there and describing it?

Today in class, we discussed how a song was metal, broadway, or both, based on semiotics. I’m hoping to expand a little more on that here and work on my understanding of it.

Over Spring Break I re-read Faithfull: An Autobiography by Marianne Faithfull and David Dalton.  I could probably spend hours talking about Marianne Faithfull’s books and music as she is one of my favorite singers.  Her post 1969 voice is not for everyone, but it fits the worn, survivor she became after years of dealing with homelessness and drug/alcohol abuse.

In her book, Marianne discussed her first single, As Tears Go By, which she recorded when she was 16 years old.  It became a huge pop hit and launched her into stardom.  In 1987 she rerecorded the song for her first post-recovery album Strange Weather, and in her book, she stated 16 was not the appropriate age to record this song, 40 was the right age. I cannot help but agree with this after hearing the two versions, one right after another.  To me, event though the lyrics and the performer are the same, they are two completely different songs.

First off, the 1964 recording is very light sounding, sounds like a 16-year-old convent girl spending her life trying to figure out what she should do with her life, whereas the 1987 recording sounds as if the person has been to hell and back. The re-recording is a more reflective song, she is looking back on her life, seeing what she has been through and accepting where she is today — it almost sounds regretful when she says she sits and watches As Tears Go By now, wishing and wondering how things could have been different.  It became so much more personal, whereas the original 1964 songs sound a lot more generic. Marianne did not have the experiences yet to fully express the meaning of the song and make it a personal reflection on her life — just taking the lyrics at face value and not interpreting them as a way to show her journey from where she was to where she is.  Could it be the voice or her appearance in the two videos that makes the two different, but to me, it is more about the performance.  The performance of the 1987 recording is what makes it different.  It has been slowed down, with more emphasis on the lyrics — they can be heard loud and clear with minimal production.  Marianne sounds connected to the words here and even though she did not write the song (with was the first collaborative effort between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), it sounds as if she did or could have.  The words became her accepting who she became.

I will admit, I knew the area I wanted to work, but not the topic until I pushed myself to get through all the material and research I had collected.  Did I want to look at Fandom, online interactions, there are a long list of things.

However my breakthrough came on Tuesday night with an ethnography I found about punk culture and the hierarchical structure from within — based on possession.  Things such as, “Oh you have that on CD, well I have a first pressing vinyl.”  I saw this and had an epiphany of sorts.  Topic: Technology Changing Experience. Argument: Technology facilitates methods to avoid hierarchical social structures.

Working with online identity and fandom, I am wanting to make an argument similar to, “when you are on the internet, no one knows you are a dog.” When enter an online fan forum, no one knows you just saw this movie yesterday.  Take for example, the first time someone attends a live viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, they are declared as being a Rocky Horror Virgin and must go perform certain tasks before the film starts — throughout the film, people interact with each other and the film.  I will admit, the first time I saw it, I had no idea what was going on and had to rely on watching other people to see what to do.  The way the DVD release of Rocky Horror changes this is making an option to turn on/off interaction cues.  “Throw Rice,” or “Place Newspaper on your head” now can show up in the closed captioning.  The person who plans to go see it can now go prepared and avoid the situation of someone labeling them as a total noob — avoid the situation where you feel shame sitting next to a person who is seeing it for the 50th time.

That is where I am at now. Brain storming session continues…

Audience: Social Informatics, New Media, Interaction Design

Structure: Intro, Definitions, History, Hierarchical structures, Technology combating these hierarchical structures, Conclusion

I still have a ways to go, but I feel more confident in the direction now.  Any tips on moving forward from here?

On page 612 of Jeffrey Bardzell’s article, Interaction Criticism: An Introduction to the Practice, he quotes Lev Manovich and theory of transcoding in New Media.  Transcoding means “the principle that computer files have both a computer layer and a cultural layer”  (612).

When I read this quote (and I believe I read some of Manovich’s work when I was in Christians Briggs’s class, cause I know the theory of transcoding from somewhere), it reminded me of the video posted above from BuzzFeed.  Photoshop is used as an example in Jeff’s article, so I will not repeat what he said here.  What I want to focus on is the cultural layer of this video.

We often see models on the covers of magazines and automatically think, that is not the way he or she looks in real life, they have been Photoshopped.  It is said these magazines and the practice of retouching photos to make people appear perfect has lead to increased instances of body dysmorphic disorder.  What makes this video so different is that it shows the reactions of women after they have been put in the model’s situation and have photos of them altered, in order to meet what is called perfect.  The reactions show they do no like what they look like, stating it does not look like them — going against everything these magazine covers are trying to show.  Maybe the cultural layer of Photoshop should be seen more as making things unreal rather than improving photographs.