Pinterest and Panoption

What a terrific read from the website viz : visual rhetoric, visual culture, pegagogy.

It’s about how we represent ourselves on-line, and how Pinterest has made it so easy to appropriate other “objects” (via repins or retweets) to speak for who we are and to visually perform our self-identities to the Pinterest network and beyond.

I think that part of the incredible success of Pinterest is because of its uniquely visual format, which sets it apart from delicious or diigo or other link collecting services. (Part of why I love Evernote, and before that, Microsoft’s OneNote, so much is because those desktop services let me clip and save images into my digital notebooks and then display them so that I can search and identify them by looking at pictures rather than reading text). Pinterest has made that link between our desire to showcase our innards: our interests, our desires, our passions, and our draw or pull towards a visual way of consuming information.

The author of this post compares Pinterest boards to the public communal bulletin board in coffee shops or grocery stores and makes a bunch of other interesting observations throughout the piece.

Highly recommend it. Catch the full post here.

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Old and new media: photography and hashtag projects

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There are so many of these photo hashtag projects or challenges emerging with the increase in the number of networked photography apps. I take real delight in seeing the results of such a project, and even more in sometimes contributing to one.

The invention of the #hashtag has influenced and made easier the task of crowd-sourcing. It’s funny how one tiny symbol can make such a difference.

Instagram posts a photo challenge every weekend and this past one was #somethingoldsomethingnew. The app blog always posts a few selected photos and one of this week’s submissions totally caught my attention.

The photo above by user markweaver represents so many of my research interests:

  • new media
  • old media
  • music
  • photography
  • representation
  • the visual

Love it.

How many photos have ever been taken?

At the dawn of the new millennium a new technology (that Kodak itself invented) was reshaping the whole industry – the digital photo. When the first few hundred thousand digital cameras shipped in 1997 their memory was strictly limited (in fact cameras like the Sony Mavica took floppy disks[5]!). Digital cameras are now ubiquitous – it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera[6]. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos. That might sound implausible but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there[7]. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.[8]

The world's largest photo libraries

Even accounting for population growth the exponential growth of photos is incredible (we take 4 times as many photos as 10 year ago).

To me, the Library of Congress represents a repository that holds crucial history, at least the history of select segments of Americana. So I am staggered by the number of digital photos taken, and probably on the increase, in comparison to some important archives. Is the visual record of our culture, history, and social documentation going to be maintained on Facebook? That’s disturbing.

I also thought that Flickr was one of the largest sources of photographs so am surprised by Facebook’s overwhelming dominance. Mind you, there are x number more users on Facebook so that makes sense, and the majority of the pictures taken on Facebook are not as deliberate, or professional, than those on Flickr.

We’re moving towards becoming a world with digital remains. I’m curious what archival studies will look like 50 years from now.

Why Books Will Probably Never Die

……

While smartphones and tablets have quickly been chipping away the market share and overall significance of printed books, I don’t think it’s time to write an epitaph for it just yet. Yes, print publishing is continuing to shrink with all the new gadgets and apps that eternally make reading a whole lot easier but I have three good reasons why it will never be dead.

Reading a book is an experience.

There will always be a digital divide.

Print Technology is evolving as well.

I agree. While I find reading texts on smartphones, tablets and my laptop convenient, reading a printed book in my hands is its own experience that cannot be replicated on other media.

Books are a waste of time…

Posted on Nov 24th, 2010 by Boris

Join a group of inteligent jazz-loving wine-drinking technology-avoiding book-lovers and tell them the following:

“I hate reading books. I just don’t see the point. In fact, I don’t understand where people find time to read. And why should you do it anyway? What do you get out of it? Nah, I’m skipping the whole book-reading hype”

Saying something like that will certainly make you a social outcast right away. You just can’t say something like that. Books are beautiful, full of knowledge and entertainment. Books are holy.

So why is it perfectly fine for that same group of people to mock the Internet? Why is it okay, when you are above a certain age, to be so dismissive about blogs, Twitter and Facebook?

I don’t go around claiming that I suffer from information overload when I enter a library? Or that reading magazines is a waste of time? Then why is it just fine to ignore the biggest source of information the world has ever seen?

I just don’t get it when intelligent people think it is okay to be so dismissive about new technology. The next time someone is telling me they don’t like the web or don’t see the point in Twitter I’m going to tell them that books are a waste of time. And then I’m going to smack them over the head with one.

 

But aren’t there as many people who are of the this-AND-that group, as there are this-OR-that? I clearly identify with the jazz-loving wine-drinking tech-loving book-loving group.

 

Re-framing my daily world

I mentioned earlier that I joined the digital revolution and got a smartphone. It’s been about 10 days and I’m still in honeymoon phase.

There is LOTS I am doing with my phone but the thing I am enjoying the most is experimenting with some Android camera apps that have allowed me to capture and reframe some visual perspectives and objects of the world around me.
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It isn’t so much media consumption as creation.

The little smartphone has empowered humans to be do a lot more than ever imagined. This is a wonder of this technology.

Little powerhouse in the palm of my hand

So I’m learning to get comfortable with my little LG smartphone. From the reviews by experts out there, it is apparent that my smartphone model is not highly acclaimed: it’s no 2 Ghz power processing monster but a measly 600 Mhz, and has a mere 100 Mb of internal memory, unlike many current models with higher capacities and specs.

But for my needs, it’s terrific. JUST terrific. I’m in love with a device.

Just some of the things I can do, in the palm of my hand, from my desk, on the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or at the coffee shop, without having to lug around a 5 lb laptop computer, as gorgeous as the MacBook may be:

  • read my google reader feeds
  • have access to our family’s medical, ID, official documents and numbers
  • receive emails
  • get news/updates from my friends and social networks
  • take photos and share them online
  • write and post blog posts
  • browse the internet
  • take amazing photographs
  • read my e-books (well, I wouldn’t regularly do that on a 3+ inch screen, but I CAN)
  • activate a lightsaber that swooshes and sounds like Darth Vader’s, Luke’s or other Star Wars characters’
  • make long-distance calls over wi-fi for free

and, what distinguishes it from an iPad, at least for now, is that I can make and receive phone calls on the device as well.

Here are some of the apps that I’ve installed for free:

HBO’s True Blood: media out of the ordinary

Anyone who knows me knows that over the summer I was….er…… bitten by a compelling vampire bug. NO, not Twilight, but HBO’s bloody/gory/sex-&-violence filled True Blood, based on Charlene Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series of books. Coming late to the series (it’s been out for 2 years already, but I just discovered it about a month ago), I had a few weeks of late late nights but then I caught up to the current series. It wasn’t too bad, considering that there are a measly12 episodes per season for this particular drama. 

(Hello, Eric Northman, vampire Sheriff of Area 5.)

But still, similar to my experience watching Battlestar Galactica 4 or so years ago, what being in any current season of any show means is that every week one has to WAIT 7 days for the next episode, torture for me, especially when there are multi-faceted, attractive and compelling characters coupled with intense plot and sly social commentary. True Blood has all 3 aspects, though the plot waxed lame at some points. But what waiting meant was that I have to get my next episode fix in other ways, and for True Blood, there was and remains a deep deep pool of media alternatives that whet, fed, and teased my imagination until the next episode aired.

It was my screaming desire to know “what happens next” as well as all the backstories about the verrrrry interesting characters that took me to a very well-done site, Loving True Blood in Dallas.  The site is linked to a weekly podcast on Talk Blood Radio that introduced me to another site, True-Blood.net.

These 2 sites are comprehensive: both are so open to community interaction and have components that can be accessed via twitter, facebook, email, via the blog, via iTunes – with forums, spoiler sections, character and cast bios, interviews, video clips, galleries and even contests to win sundry and books. I mean, these aren’t network or corporate sites: they are sites for fans, by fans.

Speaking of fanfiction, I also spent an hour or so at a stretch reading up on fans’ re-imaginings of the various series plotlines on FanFiction.net, where at current count, there are about 1,300 posted stories based on the True Blood show and book series. Plenty there that satisfied my craving for more True Blood each week. 

More? There are TONS of YouTube videos: in addition to the official HBO trailers and clips, there are choreographed music and video remixes, usually love stories from a certain perspective between certain characters from the show. 

Why this is of any note, other than the sheer insanity in the number of media alternatives there are out there related to the one weekly show: podcasts, blogs, online contests, fan-made art galleries, videos, fiction, show clips among them, is that my media consumption had taken an extraordinary spike since the start of August till now. But now that the season finale aired this past week, I expect that my reading/browsing/listening habits will revert back to “normal” and now hours each week (probably about 6 or 7) will be freed up for other pursuits.