Capturing the senses

After taking the weekend to try to continue to comprehend Scott McCloud’s artistic explanation of time frames, I continue to realize how interesting time is. On the last page of the chapter, McCloud even admits to the reader that he finds time strange. What is it that we can’t figure out?

He draws monsters, gadgets, gizmos, etc. inside the clock…but the front is so simple. It is easy to understand. Or is it? Does it just seem simple?

I keep feeling astonished that so many different things impact time.  I want to answer this question by mentioning that I feel that every human sense can relate to time in some way:

Sight: you can see it. You can visually see the time rotation of seasons through leaves falling, flowers, weather changes, etc. just as you can see the second hand revolving on an analog watch. As people age and die, you can see how time affects them. Grey hair, wrinkles, etc. You can see movies that demonstrate flashbacks and insight into the future.

Sound: McCloud touches on the subject of sound briefly in his chapter on time frames. He mentions that sound is very important to comics because we know the correct order of things. We know that the WAK! of the baseball sounds after someone has hit it. We understand that things follow each other in sequence. We can hear a clock ticking which evoke emotions like anxiety or impatience. Our sense of sound is so important to our understanding of time!

Touch: This one is probably the hardest for me to explain (because you have to touch in order to experience it)! Think about people. I think I understand time through touch because I was fortunate enough to know all 4 of my grandparents. As a little girl, I remember holding their hand..wondering, “why is my Nana’s hand wrinkly?” I soon began to understand that people change with time. If you closed your eyes and felt a baby’s smooth skin versus a 98 year-old’s skin, you just know. You can feel it. You can feel that time has made an impact. Nurses and doctors for example, feel a person’s heart rate. They can feel when a person’s time is up.

Taste: Time is easily shown through taste. Put a freshly-baked, right-out-of-the-oven cookie in your mouth and you’ll know it’s new. Put a year old potato chip in your mouth..and you’ll know that its old. It’s as simple as that.

Smell: Smell is closely related with taste. Smells can make you understand time very quickly. Take a whiff out of an old milk carton, for example, and you won’t ever let milk spoil again. Smell the pear trees coming out around Blacksburg and you’ll know it’s springtime and that the school year is almost over.

I know that this post just got random, but as I’m letting my mind wander I really do feel like time and senses must have a relation. Do you think this could be how we understand time so well? Because we experience it so often in our daily lives?

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My brain hurts..

Whoa.

I woke up this morning thinking it would be a normal day. I would go to my 8am and then head over to my Memex to Youtube class. There I would whip out all my tricks for facilitating group discussions – I had video clips prepared, comic strips that showed motion and frame, and so many questions about how Scott McCloud addresses “motion” in his comic.

But it wasn’t a normal day and I’m glad it wasn’t. I was thinking completely differently today than when I had read the comic before. By the end of the class period, I realized reading McCloud can just simply make your head hurt. We didn’t end up discussing motion very much. Instead, we talked about one page about “real time” and linear progression. At first glance, the page may look like the artist wanted to change up the design a bit so he drew comic frames in a circle. But wait..then you see another circle within the circle. And a timeline at the bottom of the page. And a question that asks, “..is that necessary?”

What does all this mean?!

We discussed many options and I think we could have continued to talk about these circles even more. Not to mention, I can’t even begin to imagine what our discussion would have been like on motion. I wish we would have had enough time.

Speaking of time…there is one phrase that McCloud writes a few times throughout his comic. Every time I read his words, “Time will tell” I have to wonder…what does the future hold? Why does McCloud keep writing this phrase? Is he trying to trick me? Am I over-thinking this? Probably.

Since the whole chapter is on time and frames, I began to wonder..is Scott McCloud being recursive here? He keeps mentioning how time is portrayed in comics and how time depends on space and motion and sound and directions…by the end of discussing it and reading the chapter through a few times it seems like time is linked to everything! What isn’t it linked to?

So now that it’s half-way through the semester, I’m starting to realize how close I am to being half-way through college. As I am worrying about internships, fall course request, clubs, career fairs, picking a major…the list could go on and on…I am also thinking “what does the future hold” …for me? …for Virginia Tech? …for my professors? …for my friends and family?…for Twitter?…for Hokie Football?…for the world of comics?…for technology?…for education?

I guess time will tell.

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Time Warp

Scott McCloud, in his comic “Time Frames,” instantly captures the reader in a fun-filled educational comic. Wait…comics can be educational?! This reading is simple. It doesn’t just tell you the facts – it shows you. Since I am more of a visual learner, it is understandable that this is my favorite reading by far.

It is interesting that McCloud not only talks about the medium in which a message is delivered (hmmm McLuhan?) but also how time can be represented in whichever medium. Comic strips are very interesting mediums for representing time. As he suggests, speech bubbles, sounds, frame size, etc. can all make an impact on how we envision time. He gives analogies, like thinking of time as a rope – it starts and one end and ends at the other.  Although I find his sense of time and duration in his cartoons amazing, I think the most interesting part of this reading was when he spoke of direction.

We use directions everyday. Whether you know them by heart, such as finding a way to the internet, or whether you need a GPS to get you to a distant location, we always use them. How is it that we can figure some directions out without any direction?

His art clearly demonstrates the complexity of direction (eyes can change direction, storms change direction, future events can change direction based on past events,etc.) while still getting his point across in a simple way. But do we really change directions? Do we like change? McCloud explains that humans think that choosing a direction to read is weird and exotic…why not stick to the normal pattern? For me, I find the tricks and riddles of cartoonists interesting and intriguing. I find that a good brain teaser keeps me on my toes, wondering what the author will do next. Do you find that the design and shapes that comics include are confusing? Do you enjoy them like myself? What other mediums can make sense of direction, while also changing our normal patterns?

 

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Change

Just today, I was sent an email from a marketing professor that I found very interesting in relation to vtclis12.  A professor sent a slideshow called “THE END OF TEACHING (as we know it)” . This slideshow brought me back to what my class had talked about at the beginning of the semester – how we can change education. And , more specifically, how technology can and will change education in the future.

The slideshow (linked above) suggests that many professors and schools are stuck in the past. They teach in the same ways that they were taught. Although we have the world’s resources at our fingertips, professors are not taking advantage. Are they worried about what technology can do to education? Do they think it will make it worse? Maybe, like the slideshow mentions, they are afraid that with technology, they won’t have a job unless they truly are an inspirational teacher.

I thought this point was interesting because I had never though about the implications of technology on the teaching profession. With online classes and constant access to information, what will happen to the school system? The slideshow also gives challenges and drivers of educational technology. It is really intriguing that something so simple as a slideshow can spark so many questions:

How will the drivers of educational technology get adapted to school systems? How will they affect a student’s learning? Will schools provide these technologies for their students? How will the school system be restructured to make sure that learning is centered around the student? How has the world become more collaborative? Hybrid learning models? How will teachers change their teaching style to incorporate real-life issues? What are the new models of education? Why are professors not understanding how technology can change education in a positive way? How can more teachers experiment with technology? What will the effect be on public libraries and databases? Will libraries need to restructure themselves to be utilized? Mobile Apps? Will students want to be connected to education constantly? Will technology make students more excited about learning? How can tablet computers make a difference? Why won’t good content be enough?

…and those are just a few…Now it’s time to answer those questions and decide how we can make a difference.

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The Language of Technology

As I read “The Six Elements and The Causal Relations Among Them” by Brenda Laurel, I find it intriguing that she describes human-computer activity as a play/drama. It is interesting that she can take something so complex and simplify it into different actions and relationships. I feel like the action/character/though/language/pattern/enactment process that Laurel has created to explain is an easy breakdown of human-computer activity. One section that interests me in particular was the Language aspect.

Laurel writes that language is “the selection and arrangement of words” in a drama/play. It is easy for me to think about how language makes an impact in a play, but how does it make a difference in technology and human/computer interaction? Lets think about it.

Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc are all ways we communicate through language on the internet. Each of these sites uses different ways to demonstrate a point. Youtube uses movies – a easy way to incorporate different visual and audio language. Twitter helps us quickly explain something publicly – kind of like a text message over the Internet. Flickr uses photos – something nonverbal that can make a huge statement (almost like facial expressions or props in a play). Even Skype can enhance our human-computer interaction language (in fact, just before posting this I was skyping a friend who lives in Beijing, China)! Through all of these modes of communication, the Internet truly embodies hundreds of languages (computer code too!) that help us understand and connect to technology. What are some more ways that technology expresses language? What are some of the ways you connect with it? Do you think the next trending website will embody a new form of language that we haven’t seen on the Internet thus far?

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Snags

Just as I had written a wonderful blog post about how to explain how complex and captivating technology and the Internet is, I experienced a snag. A simple message popping up on my computer saying “error” when I tried to publish. I immediately felt that disheartening feeling of hard work going to waste because I didn’t hit the “save draft” button. Ugh computer problems. Why do these messages always occur at the worst possible moment?

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“Demo or Die”

” In 20 or 30 years, you’ll be able to hold in your hand as much computing knowledge as exists now in the whole city, or even the whole world.”

– Doug Engelbart

Doug Engelbart and his invention - The Mouse

Demonstrations have become a more and more common way to show an idea or new invention. They give evidence that something is real and really works. They are proof how easy/complicated something is to the public eye. According to businessweek.com, customers like to see a product’s capabilities and understand how the product is used.

Doug Engelbart, an individual whom I mentioned in my last posting, is said to have had the “Mother of all Demos” back in 1968. In one demonstration that he worked on with Bill English, he revolutionized technology. They demonstrated how computing could be interactive – with a “mouse,” word processing, file linking, and other things like bootstrapping and edits. Would his ideas and intellect really stuck in the audience’s mind if he hadn’t have had a demonstration? I think not. I believe that the demonstration was a key marketing technique that Engelbart used to really show the audience that these things, his ideas, were possible – and could be the future.

Check out the Doug Engelbart Institute to watch the Mother of all Demos!!

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What a guy…

For the past couple of days, I have been working on reading and re-readingDouglas Engelbart’s Essay of “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.”  The depth of the essay and intelligence within it make it extremely difficult, but interesting to read and (try) to understand. I find it an incredibly challenging peice of work, as Engelbart continuously complicates things within the essay. As soon as I think I am finally grasping the content, he makes it more complex. It’s like he writes, “..the complexity of his problems grows still faster…” The title itself is incredibly complex. Why does he explain things in such a complicated way?

After I asked myself this question, I decided to “Google” him. I immediately went to the first hit – a wikipedia page about him. Here’s the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Engelbart

It is a pretty in-depth look at Doug Engelbart’s life and the incredible things he discovered and realized througout his life. It seems like his essay on human intellect is revolutionary.

As I have been reading, I have discovered many interesting and unique things that Engelbart mentioned (or at least what I think he was mentioning..) but the reading also made me wonder about things. Does our technology give humans an endless intelligence? Does everyone constantly work to “improve our human intellect” or is that only certain individuals? Is technology the prime tool we use to manipulate information?

 

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An “interest”ing topic

So last week in my class, as we talked about various topics involving the World Wide Web and the internet, we came across a discussion that I found very stimulating. A member of the class asked the question, “Does interest depend on others around us?”

When this question was asked, I immediately thought, “No! My interests can be completely different from others!” But as I started to ponder this question, I realized that maybe the internet and sites like Youtube.com and Facebook.com have become so popular because people are interested in the same things.

We began to discuss how the internet is all about networking and that we connect because we are all interested in things. But why? I can understand that the internet is a useful tool for learning, but how does it connect us? Are we only connected through Facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc? I (and my classmates) think no.

Think about this blog. Why are you reading it? Why is it benefiting you? Think about popular YouTube videos like “David after Dentist” or “Sh*t ___ Say”…why do people find them interesting? They are usually humorous..but I believe there is something more to it. I feel out of the loop if I haven’t watched the latest trending video on YouTube. They are something to talk about – something to connect you and other people.

I’ve posted below one of the most popular videos on YouTube – ever. I know I have had multiple conversations about it, and you probably have too since it can relate to almost everyone…if you haven’t seen it you should check it out by clicking the link below:

Evolution of Dance

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2006…really?!

Twitter is an interesting site. Although all of my friends had one, I somehow neglected to get one until my professor required it for a class last week. Currently, I am only following 2 people and have yet to figure out how to tweet all the time. I have started to realize however that twitter really is an important networking site.

It was developed in 2006 by a man named Jack Dorsey. Although it was created 6 years ago, it was an instant hit and has only gained popularity over the years. Almost like a public text message, twitter informs others on events and occurrences which happen in our lives. When you “tweet” it instantly becomes visible by followers and users of twitter. The contents include news, conversations, random talk, etc. but are all interesting and fun to read.

The hashtag (#) is something that specifically interests me. I love that my class can use our hashtag and see what everyone else is thinking about and talking about. The idea is great to share opinions and ideas across a variety of people.

I’ve posted a video below about what twitter is (if people don’t know already) and why people use it..as the movie states: “it’s simple” and it makes you feel connected to people all around the world. It is the type of communication that isn’t necessary to read – but if you want to know it it is there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddO9idmax0o

 

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