Category Archives: Rogue Rabbit @ SFSU

Culture Jamming Reading Assignment

I have to say that Dery’s Culture Jamming_:_Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs is one of the better reading assignments I’ve had in a while. While it’s slightly dated (written in 1993), I feel a lot of the points he brings up are still valid today, if not more so, as our culture is so “connected” that the 7 hours a day of television exposure he mentions is a drop in the bucket with our current level of access.

‘Dwindling funds for public schools and libraries, counterpointed by the skyrocketing sales of VCRs and electronic games, have given rise to a culture of “aliteracy,” defined by Roger Cohen as “the rejection of books by children and young adults who know who to read but choose not to.”‘

While the reference to VCRs is totally dated (there is a whole generation of youth who don’t know what a VCR is or what a VHS tape looks like), I think that “aliteracy” is the perfect term for what is going on. Everything is fed to us via some form of media. I fucking HATE infographics, video and sound bites. At some point, being fed information in these forms is going to create such bias, that people are going to stop questioning what is being said to them. I can’t tell you how many times I see people passing along information on Facebook or something that is completely absurd and if they took a moment to research, they would find that it is not true. But someone made a video or someone knows a thing or two about Photoshop and made a legit looking infographic so it must be true.

If Dery thought it was bad in 1993 when he said “The effects of television are most deleterious in the realms of journalism and politics; in both spheres, TV has reduced discourse to photo ops and sound bites, asserting the hegemony of image over language, emotion over intellect.”, he’d be hard pressed to say that there have been any changes for the better in the intervening 20 years. News is no longer objective, it is completely opinion these days. God forbid if you don’t agree with someone else’s opinion – we must declare war upon those seditious traitors, God damnit.

We were just at the beginning of the true 24 hour news cycle when this piece was written and it’s only become worse. Dery states “The conversion of American society into a virtual reality was lamentably evident in the Persian Gulf War…” and posits “…the American people demanded the right not to know.” later in the same paragraph. We have become a vapid society that keeps it’s head buried in the sand and only want to know what porn star Kim Kardashian is wearing or what absurd name the celebrity of the moment has given their offspring (Hell, I admit I occasionally fall into the trap because it’s not worrisome and has absolutely no bearing on the world).

I’ll be honest, insert internet for television throughout the article, and it would still be completely and totally relevant and as though it was written last week, not 2 decades ago. I could write for days about this topic and how I feel about it.

By the way, this was also the ONLY time I’ve ever had any part of Buadrillard’s Precession of Simulacra feel like it related to the material and topic at hand. (If you haven’t read it, I don’t necessarily recommend it – You will want to rip your hair out) but the analogy of the hall of mirrors really applies to our current reality. It can be impossible to tell what is real, what is fake, how to interpret experience and the like.

In the year……..

2074

Yikes. I’ll be 95.

It’s weird to think that far in the future. It’s also SO hard to imagine. When I think of how much things have change since I was little in the 80’s, I don’t know if I would have thought this was where we would be.

Though, if you really think about it, according to Back to the Future and The Jetsons (and many more) we should even beyond where we are. We should have flying cars. (I’m really glad we don’t when I think about how bad people are at driving on the ground).

I really shutter to think about where we will be in 2074 in all honesty. As much as I like technology and appreciate the advances and comfort they bring us, I sort of fear a Matrix style world. I may still be around (my grandpa is 91 and he has siblings that are in their mid to late 90’s) but I’m not sure I want to see how technology is going to overtake us.

My first prediction is sort of based on a childhood fear. When I was a kid, I was terrified that I was going to have someone hear my thoughts. I was so afraid someone could read my mind, so I tried never to think mean thoughts. We currently have text messaging, IM, and more to communicate. But 60 years from now, what if we are able to selectively “send” our thoughts to intended recipients? (my husband and I already sort of use “thought pushing” to communicate – thought not very accurately at times). Imagine being able to select a “friend” from your “contacts” and just think what you want to tell them. They are able to hear your thought instantaneously and in your voice. It’s not perfect. Are they doing to develop “thought waiting”? Do you have a “thought bank” that logs your incoming thoughts like a text message? I kind of like that idea.

The second prediction is based on two things that are really important to me. 3D printing and food. Obviously our food system is broken. I believe in sustainable food. I am paleo. I believe people should have connection to their food. There are a lot of people who do not necessarily feel that way. Including the douche who created Soylent. Many people have no kitchen skillls. Many people feel that food is a “hassle”. My vision of future food (even though I don’t want any part of it) is that we will basically have printers that print “food” from a variety of pastes that may or may not actually be food. Likely they will be created in a lab. Keep the people sick and keep them in control. What better way to do that than to outlaw activities that keep people connected to their food and organics and then convince people that eating is something you can replace with items from a lab. Not an ideal future, but it sort of feels as though we are headed that way now.

The last idea was inspired by Google Glass (I work around a lot of nerds. I live in an area that tech geeks converge upon for conventions. I see a lot of google glass). Instead of a wearable “glass” it will be directly augmented by rewiring electrical synapses and micro controllers. Your field of view will basically have a “heads up” display built in. Again, not sure how I feel about the idea but it sort of seems like the next step based upon the direction we have been going.

I have a real love/hate relationship with technology. I appreciate what it adds to our lives, but I also can see the damage it may cause to individuals and society if not utilized carefully and kept out of the wrong hands.

Vannever Bush

I have to say in reading As We May Think  by Vannever Bush, I was blown away by his vision of the future and how much of it is a reality for us today. It also made me think of conversations I have had with my 91 year old grandfather about the technological advances he’s seen in his lifetime (These conversations were largely sparked because I am of the age where I can remember a time before personal computers, let alone smartphones and the like).

The idea of making predictions for 60 years from now is overwhelming because it is really hard to imagine what things will be like when I am 94.

I think his ideas on compiling, synthesizing and transmitting information resonated most with me, especially considering I was raised in the the period bridging the gap between physical/analog data and the digital compilation and transmission of data.

I remember being 7 and begging for a set of encyclopedias. The cost was prohibitive to a family of limited means AND they needed to be updated. It was much easier to go to the library, where you were going to find more updated means of data transmission. Up to date encyclopedias, microfiche and more. There was skill involved in performing research. You had to have knowledge of how to use a card catalog, search the stacks and how to cite information properly

Today cost and outdated information are not even really a concern. (verifying the veracity of the information is a whole separate beast these days because there are so many sources of data, not all are necessarily from acceptable sources) So much has been automated for us (type in a search term and look at links, fill in a few fields on a form to get your citations formatted for you, etc.), that synthesis of information has taken a new direction.

Also his ideas of developing a universal language that lends itself to mechanization was important as well, though I’m not entirely certain our current ways of communicating digitally would please him. We have truncated and bastardized language into emojii and shorthand, infographics and video in the digital world. I personally love language, text and information. I despise clicking a link only to be taken to a video instead of an article.

His ideas of dictation have radically impacted and changed my world. I was a legal secretary in a time when an attorney did dictation and the secretary then transcribed and typed the dictation. I worked with an attorney in the early 2000’s that was one of the first to embrace Dragon. Dragon is basically the software Bush describes thusly:

“One can now picture a future investigator in his laboratory. His hands are free, and he is not anchored. As he moves about and observes, he photographs and comments. Time is automatically recorded to tie the two records together. If he goes into the field, he may be connected by radio to his recorder. As he ponders over his notes in the evening, he again talks his comments into the record. His typed record, as well as his photographs, may both be in miniature, so that he projects them for examination.”

It changed my work flow dramatically (though it didn’t put me out of a job as so many people thought it would – the technology was still bad at learning the users and required heavy editing, but it also helped me out years later when I lost use of my arm and had difficulty typing). It changed the entire face of an industry.

So many of Bush’s ideas have been brought to life in even the last 20 years that it is amazing. I have some serious thinking to do to come up with 3 predictions for predictions 60 years hence!

Superstorm School!

It’s been a hectic week. School started on Monday and I have classes Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

I have discovered a perk of NOT attending a private school: flat rate tuition. I am taking 18 units (well, 15 until my independent studies section is approved) for the price of 6.1-12 units.

Say what?

At AAU, the same number of units would run about $14k.

I have also crashed my first class, ever. In all my years of college, I’ve never had such restrictive enrollment. Typically I just enroll like the first day enrollment opens (community college and AAU worked this way). This time around it was tiered enrollment. I could enroll in up to 7 units at orientation, then I had to wait a month to enroll in up to 15. Then a week after that I could enroll in up to 19.

Unfortunately, every single class I wanted was full by the time my enrollment time for the second round came up. I had just checked class enrollment levels half an hour prior to my enrollment time. I logged in at 1 minute to 5 and by the time I entered the class numbers, all of my classes were full.

Eventually I got enrolled in some classes. Some that I really didn’t want but I had the units. One of the classes had an instructor that was half an hour late, swayed back and forth and had voice modulation issues. I had a severe case of motion sickness by the end of class. Here’s a sample of what I sat through.

The next night I saw that there were 5 seats open in the Gerontology class I really wanted. I made the bold choice to try to crash that class even though I had another class at the same time. Well, apparently everyone else had the same idea. There were 65 seats in the class. The instructor had already given 8 add codes out and was capping enrollment at 75 students. A total of 90 people showed up. I was totally making myself sick with trying to decide to sit it out and see what happened (hoping a bunch of people really didn’t want to study death and end of life issues) or run over to the gym to the class I was actually enrolled in.

I stayed. And so did 15 other people. It came down to putting names in a box and randomly selecting 3 people. Thank Jebus I was the first name drawn! I was so worried I skipped the first class of leisure and recreation for nothing.

As far as my independent studies class goes, it is going to basically be artistic reproduction using new and emerging technologies. I will do 4 projects (from creating the artwork in physical or digital representation reproducing those works using various methods incorporating technology) and write a final paper. I’m super excited about this. This means I get school credit for stuff I would normally be doing 4 days a week anyway (with my school schedule, there’s no real way I can go to the Gnomery on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday).

I am also fairly stoked on my textiles class. Textiles? Yeah. After discussing with the department chair my ultimate goals, we came to the conclusion that textiles would be a great place to focus my energies. People are intimidated by fine art. If you aren’t an artist, you aren’t really going to feel comfortable painting a picture or drawing or sculpting. But people are far less intimidated by crafts. I’m learning hand sewing, crocheting, embroidery and the like. These are skills that are far less intimidating to most people.

Not quite underwater basket weaving. Maybe that’s a more advanced class.

Research Assignment – Write Up & Links

Okay, I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with many of the artists listed on the research page. Also a lot of the links that were still live, were pretty dated. I struck out to find a few that were of interest and may be of interest to you as well.

The first  I came across was 8 Bits, 3 Dimensions. Adam Lister and Isaac Budmen work together to create 8 bit (remember the super early days of gaming?!?!) images of pop culture (Star Trek, Superman, etc.). A really interesting fact about their collaboration is that they had not met in person or even had phone contact through the entire process. Adam Lister creates 8 bit style images and Isaac Budmen creates 3 dimensional sandstone replications of the images using 3D printing (Though Budmen doesn’t actually do the printing himself – with a note about production from their “manufacturer” they are likely using Shapeways to produce the pieces for them).

Original Painting by Adam Lister
3D Print by Isaac Budmen (likely printed by Shapeways)

One of the links on the research page that I love and visit frequently is Make. It has been the source of my procrastination (and I think helped me develop project ADD with so many great ideas). Make Magazine was influential in which 3D printer was going to be our first (and only – we work exclusively with Type A Machines Series 1). The current issue is drone building focused but there are projects from all walks of life including AI, woodworking, hand crafts and more.

Last link is for HoloDecks, who used 3d printing to create an augmented visual representation of sound (be it a fairly small representation due to the size limitations of the print bed of the MakerBot). This is a combination of 3D printing, and light and sound programming. It’s pretty cool.