Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Final Project Paper!

The Circle’s Technology, and What the People Really Think
            We’ve done a lot in a semester for English Studies in the Digital Age. We’ve explored the issues with social media and privacy, copyrights, how to tell a digital story, and, overall, the effects of technology on our everyday lives. We’ve read articles that challenged us, and made is think, especially about the future impact digital technology will have on the way we think and learn in the future. With all the readings we’ve done this semester, nothing stood out to me more than Dave Eggers The Circle.
            The Circle tells the story of Mae Holland, a young college graduate that lands a job in the most powerful technological company to exist. The novel tells of her rise in the company, from a mere customer service employee, to one of the most public faces of the corporation.
As she rose, however, her relationships outside (and a few within) the company began to deteriorate, especially as her use of the technology that The Circle offers begins to grow. She begins to lose grip on the person she was before the Circle came so intimately into her life, her way of being. She willingly gave into the sweet nothings that the company spouts, all the perks and pretty wrappings on silver platters.  We watch as she becomes less of an individual, and more of a cog in the corporation machine.
Aside from the story of Mae, one of the most important components of this story is that of the technology that The Circle offers. The audience gets to take a look at many of the products that The Circle created or was in the process of making in order to offer to the general public. I would be lying if I said that none of these products were worth taking a look at. Products like TruYou, where all an individual needs is one account, password, payment system, identity for everything, or PastPerfect, where one can look as far as possible into their family lineage does seem, on the surface of the idea, very cool. Much of these products however, weren’t as great as they were made out to be.
In my opinion, many of the products that were offered in the book were invasive and downright scary in their own nature. With many (if not all) the products listed, there was no such thing as privacy, no such thing as separation of your online and offline life.  People were forced to know everything, to be known at all times. They were forced to be something that wasn’t completely them, despite Bailey’s claim that people were being their “true” self. By the end of the book, many of the characters of The Circle weren’t even human anymore. They were a mob, listening to a single voice, a single mission.
To think that society would be ready to use such technologies if they were to exist is even more horrific, especially when one considers the outcome if any of these products (used in the same way the book did) would have.  I understand that we may want to learn what is happening behind the closed doors of our political leaders, but there is danger in knowing what everything that they do. There is danger in having everything, out in the open for all to see. What was worse was how cult-like everyone turned out to be. If anyone were to go against the mob, the mob would destroy them utterly and completely. We saw this with Mercer, and to a smaller extent, Ty.
Despite all this, and, as I had mentioned before, the book really forced me to think: What about our society? The society in the book is one thing, and quite a fictitious thing at that, but what about the society I live in? What about my peers? Would they be so accepting of the technologies, of the Circle itself? The answer is probably an obvious one to you or me, but there are some people out there that you as an individual have to worry and wonder about. This is especially true, as much as this pains me to say this, of the people of my generation, and the generation after me. We are the last to be born before the boom of the technological age took the world by storm. We are the last to remember what it was like before all these computers, tablets, iPods and smaller phones, much more delicate phones (I still remember the brick ones and the very first Nokia). We knew the only way to tell someone about your day was by a telephone call, in person, or if you had one, email.  Or, if one was feeling particularly fancy, they’d write a letter. Sure, you were still limited, but not by a 140 characters.
With these thoughts in mind, my final project began to form. I had decided, since I wanted so badly to know what my peers would think about these products, I’d just ask them. I chose to interview five to ten people on the tech of the Circle. It was a fairly simple, sweet, and to the point: to find out how much we’d been corrupted –for lack of a better word – by the digital age.
I made up the questions describing various tech from the book, chose my interviewees, and, when they weren’t as busy, had a talk with them.  The most important part of doing this interview was that it had to be people that had not yet read the book. It, of course, would have been an unfair advantage. Thankfully, The Circle hasn’t been out long enough, and kind of ensured that it wasn’t that well read yet.
I have to admit, in doing this project, I was a little worried. I was worried that a good portion of the people I asked would be for many of the products I would tell them about, considering I was just describing the product to them, and they wouldn’t have the context I did concerning it. I know that people are entitled to their opinion, but it’s still worrying if these product, (at least the more extreme ones) seem appealing. It does make you wonder, if the future that Eggers predicts is much accurate that fiction thought it would be.
That in itself is an interesting thought, considering that many of the critics and reviewers of The Circle consider Egger’s portrayal of the internet and technology not really accurate, and are quick to point out that Egger’s himself has no real interest in technology. Yet, in reading the novel, people choose to focus on what he had to say about it, and not the underlying themes surrounding it.  As said by Jen Doll in the article “Dave Eggers Deserves a ‘Smile’ for Getting the Internet Wrong in “The Circle”:
The danger of writing a book about the Internet is that you’re writing a book about the Internet, thereby invoking the myriad voices and possible opinions contained within this giant, amorphous collective — whether they agree with you or not…In Eggers's bleakly amusing depiction of the lead-up to an authoritarian digital society, what many have chosen to focus on is not the thematic but the explicit and literal.
                In a way, I guess I am like one of those critics, focusing on the “explicit and literal”. But can I be blamed, when the explicit and literal is so alarming? I at least know that the themes exist, but what is said about society has a stronger initial pull than the theme did, and in turn, this is what I focused my project on.

I realize that I could have done practically anything for this project. I could have had my friends reenact one of my short stories, I could have done some project based on the article “You are what you Read” and had a little journey of sorts through Barnes & Noble.  I also realize that in many ways this project could have been the critical paper: ten pages worth of my thoughts on what society is turning into. As much as I would have loved to do either, this felt right to me. Going outside of the community of our classroom and getting the opinions of others, who don’t get the joy of experiencing our class, felt much more important to me. I can only hope that my efforts in this paper and the interview video connected to it prove my words true.

Final Project

Here is my final project. The final paper is in the post right under this one.

If the audio isn't that great, please turn on Close Captioning (if it isn't already on) and choose the English option!


Scholarly Find on an Electronic Edtion

Okay, so I know we were supposed to post on one scholarly find on an electronic edition, but this whole electronic is one huge scholarly find.
The Oxford Scholarly Editions Online is a scholarly edition that has a pretty big collection of major works (all Oxford Editions of course). It has a lot- from the playwrights like Shakespeare to the philosophers like Locke.
Another thing that's pretty cool (and explained better on their about page) is that they put their focus on humanities, which I feel helps in encompassing many of the things people, especially English college students would look for. It's like a one stop shop for many of your literary needs!

So yes, please, check it out! Link provided down here!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Daily Create: Write Up Fantasmic Excuse

Okay, listen, I know that I’m incredibly late and I know that you’re really mad, but you've got to hear me out at let me tell you why!
So I’m waiting for the 7 at Junction, minding my own business listening to some Kanye, because you know I was in the mood. So I’m bumping and I’m waiting and I feel this gust of wind so I turn to see if the train is coming and there’s this tall guy just materialized out of nowhere and is standing next to me looking for the train. Now I was just about to go back minding my business when I catch the side of his face and he looks really familiar. He turns my way, I guess to see how the trains on the other line was doing and you will never guess who I was staring at.
Guess! No! Who the hell cares about Steve the Skeeve? So what if he has a six-pack now? Once a creepo, always a creepo.
Ugh, I’ll just tell you.
James Franco. James Green Goblin, Pineapple Express, Gorgeous Lazy ass smile Franco.
I swear to you my heart just stopped. I nearly keeled over into the track!
But he’s standing next to me and I’m just standing there, freaking out, wondering if should make a move, you know get an autograph? You know, something to commemorate the moment where all the stars aligned and I met the fourth man on my potential baby celebrity-daddy list.
What? Whose first? Ch- that doesn’t matter right now!!!
So I finally work up the nerve to tap him on the shoulder when all of a sudden this snowball comes flying out of nowhere and clips it him in the head.
Yes I said snowball.
Yes I know it’s the middle of summer.
I turn around to see the cleanest looking hobo you will ever see in New York with a mini-cooler in tow with another snowball armed and ready. The guy screams something at Franco in what I swear was Tibetan-
I mean I took two years of it in college, so I think I’d know it if I heard it. Let me finish!
So Franco is like, enough is enough and screaming all this stuff and pulls out one of those deluxe Nerf Water Guns and starts shooting, at him, and our whole platform erupts! The platform on the other side is screaming like it’s a WWE Match on our side and telling Franco “finish him!” Then the train finally comes in and the fight moves onto there, delaying it as the conductor guy tries to break it up.
I swear it must have been one of those prank TV show things. I wouldn’t know though, I booked it as fast as I could and ended up taking the long way here.
What? Galifianakis? … It could have been…
What? No, I didn’t fall asleep on the train!

You don’t believe me? Dude, this is New York! Where else could crazy shit like this happen?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tools and the like for the Final Project

I got nothing.

But on a serious note, I am thinking of using Movie Maker like I did for the last project. I will of course be taking video of people, and I think I messed around with it enough to be able to handle moving pictures. If not,

I do not have an official storyboard as of yet, but I will list what the project itself should consist of:

  • Camera
  • Movie Maker
  • Questions (10 Max? <--- This is debatable)
  • 5-10 interviewees (with consent)
  • Patience (lots of it)
  • Starbucks (After a job well done)
I don't know yet if I'll use any of the other tools, though Pixton is interesting to use as a intro to the video... 
It is still an idea being thrown around. But hopefully I might get to use it.

That's all for now!

Final Project Ideas (or Idea...)

So, it's finally coming to the wire, so you know what that means: Final Project!

I choose to take the creative route and see where it will take me. There are, however, so many options to choose from, so many topics to explore! But what to choose, what to choose... (cue Jeopardy theme here)

Oh, I know!

Well, one of the things that really mad me... think angry was reading The Circle by Dave Eggers. Aside form the fictitious-ness of it, he did describe some pretty interesting new technology. I myself knew when the technology got too far, but what about my fellow students who have not read the book? How would such technology sound  to them? I think this would be a good time to find out.

So, I plan to interview my fellow peers, and get their stance on maybe having some of the technology from The Circle, or hoping it will never see the light of day.

This at least the general idea. Let's see where this rabbit hole takes me.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Circle: A Review

I would actually like to keep this review of The Circle as general short, sweet, simple and painless as possible, because if I do talk about it in length, it will only turn into an angry rant that would do nothing for the integrity of the book.

So in general, it is a very interesting look into a Utopia turned Dystopia. Dave Eggers does a brilliant job in showing the slow sure decent into the utter madness that usually surrounds a Dystopia. The idea of technology going beyond it's own boundaries is creepy and chilling, especially when it seems, in some form, our own world would follow some of the steps that the Circle took in amassing their empire. It was a wonderful idea and a really eye-opener to our practices- right down to my own practices- with technology.

In all honestly, especially with the ending, I ended up not liking the book. Especially with main character Mae Holland. I get that it would have been too easy to end with a happy note, where everything gets fixed, but Mae just made the descent so maddening. Her naivety, and quite frankly, stupidity in her handling of relationships, and her life, outside and inside of the Circle was just absolutely aggravating, and that's putting it mildly. She had no personality no actual thought for herself, it seemed, by the end of the book. She was robot, just waiting to be programmed by the "right" people. The fact that she only had one single moment of clarity throughout the whole book, which she quickly dismisses just makes her worse in my eyes! She was too wrapped up in wanting and being apart of the company that taking it away from her own self was absolutely unheard of.

*sighs* Okay, I tried not to rant, I really did that doesn't mean I succeeded. In the end The Circle was in a general overview, a good book, but definitely not one I would pick up again any time soon let the irrational anger run it's course first... give or take a couple years. 

The Circle: A look at a Character

There are just so many characters I want to talk about: Mae, Kalden, creepy Francis...
But there is one I actually want to focus on for the sake of this response: Mercer.

Mercer is the ex-boyfriend of protagonist Mae Holland. They really don't seem to get along, and he isn't took keen on her new job, while she's just not to keen on... him.

I found a real problem with Mercer. He actually seems like an interesting person, and he was the only other person in the book that had some sense about him, though he seemed high minded about it.

But there lies the problem: His portrayal. It was what conflicted me most about his character. What he had to say to Mae and about everything that about her job and the modern age they were advancing into were valid points, but he is portrayed as this putrid human being. He's fat and ugly and not worth giving a damn about because he won't conform. Or this is how Mae sees it, and this is the only way we can see it. We can never see him in a view that doesn't have Mae painted all over it. I probably would have taken him more seriously earlier in the book if it wasn't for how Mae was so dismissive and rejecting of him from the get go.

I would have actually liked to know more about Mercer, and I'm actually  a bit sorry that I didn't get to see him beyond what we did see of him.

The Circle: Aphorisms


It is one of the earlier aphorisms we see in The Circle, probably, as the story goes on, one of the least... unsettling (surprising, I know). It is here we start to get a feel of what The Circle (as a company) entails. The practices and words that seem to make them tick. It shows the reader just a taste of what we're in for (granted, the everything that happens afterwards doesn't compare, but still...).

To explain a bit further, it's all knowing every aspect in the world around them. It could be history, or it could be what's happening in the thrilling of little Timmy and his training wheel saga in the next town over. They don't care how large scale or small scale the information is, they still want to know, want it to be available for public consumption.

It's still a bit creepy nonetheless. I won't deny that. All that happens must be known? So if you really want to know if Kathy picked her nose, or if Amber broke a nail on her way through the turnstile? These are things that must be known?

Certain things, sure. But not all the things... Right?

Daily Create: Make A Creative Photo in an Unremarkable Place

Daily Create: Three is a Magic Number

 A rose by another name, would smell as sweet.

                                                      -William Shakespeare

Story Board for Chloe's first trip! (And Commentary)

So, I know I was supposed to post this a while back, but things got a little hectic. It's a really simple layout some of the blanks that previously existed filled out with what was on the final project.

So commentary:
I originally had no idea what I wanted to do, but as ideas bounced around in groups, and it seemed like everyone was doing a personal experience, I thought: why not use a personal experience of my own? After I had that pegged, the next question was, which experience?
Then it just hit me: Disney World. And not just any random trip. My cousin's trip. Partly because I had a lot of pictures. Mostly because it got me thinking.

I honestly don't remember any of my first trips to Disney World (I had apparently went often as a kid. One time involved me sitting on a goat? I really couldn't tell you.) But my mother has all these memories of the times we went. And I began to realize with Chloe, I have those memories. I have that little chubby excited face imprinted on my brain as we went throughout the park. I remember her getting a free cookie because the ladies at one of the restaurants found her so adorable. I remember her "conning" me into getting her a baby zero plush doll, which, considering the price, turned into her birthday gift.

And I quite honestly love having that memory, more than trying to remember my own. Being able to experience someone else's first trip to Disney is really heartwarming, and makes you realize why it's considered  to be, the happiest place on earth.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Daily Create: Argument Time

So, today's daily create involved reading an article about social media and writing your stance on it's argument about the subject.

I chose this article which asks the question of whether or not Youtube is is a bad influence on society.

While the article doesn't exactly take a stance, I'd like to make one in the case that Youtube is actually a good influence on society. Thanks in part to having Youtube, you have people, across all generations, taking sides on today's political and social issues and making their voices heard.

People, of my generation especially, are showing that they can be taken seriously, that though the older generations like to write us off, we do have an honest and thoughtful (surprising, I know) opinion on the policies and practices that effect our everyday lives. We actually WANT that opinion to be known, to be able to say that yes, I want to make a difference, or I want people to know that I care just as much as that crotchety old dude down the block that sits in his rocking chair on his front porch day after day mumbling about roadkill. Or maybe we just want to say that Senator so and so from bible belt USA doesn't speak for me or my values.

Why should Youtube be put down for allowing us to have a platform, no, the power to speak our minds? Why is it considered something awful if we actually speak?

Newsflash: It really isn't.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Digital Story

After many a trial and tribulation, I have finally completed my digital story.
Story board and thoughts will follow in a later post.
Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Daily Create: Lucky 7s

It’s like time slows down and your life flashes before your eyes.

All the things, big and little that brought you to where you are right now in that moment goes by in little spurts: Past jobs, past purchases, past decisions, the most recent of them being to spontaneously come to the casino and blow your last two hundred dollars. Who cares about rent? Or getting a plane ride back home? Why not let loose? Got to live in the moment right?

Live in the moment. The mantra for half the stupid crap you've done, particularly the stuff that caused you to end up in the hospital with a broken limb. The mantra that got you to ask out that one girl at that one bar at that one time, along with four shots of tequila for an extra boost of confidence. God help you if you actually remembered her name now. The mantra that reverberated through your mind as you lost dollar after dollar, whether it be to drinks, craps, or blackjack. You decide to spend your last bit on cheap beer and the slots, the only thing you could afford after the beer.

You wondered, as the world went back to normal speed, the past going back to being to the past, and the last red seven slid in to place, black line running through it and its brothers, how many more times you’d utter live in the moment, with a moment as bright and golden as this coming in to focus, into reality, before it all became more moments to flash by. 

Daily Create: What Matters Least?

Reality Television

“Did you see what she did on last night’s episode of…”
I sigh, turning on the volume to a level that could probably deafen me, but I still hear them. It’s “this celebrity did this or this one fought with that one and this one called the other a no good ratchet…, well you get the idea.

This is totally not what I come to work to talk about.  Like really, what is the point to watching one woman pull the weave out of another woman’s head? Or see one washed-up rapper’s ex become another’s baby mama. Like really? What makes reality TV so interesting? Where’s the substance? Where’s the role models?

What’s so wrong with watching a good scripted TV show? What’s wrong with watching fiction? Why should the good shows be canceled to make room for another show about America’s next whatever?
“Oh and I don’t know how she thought she could stay when she…”
Ugh. Time to turn the volume up louder. Hopefully my ears can take it.

Reality TV, I really care not for thee. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Daily Create: The Most Famous Novel No One Has Ever Heard of

The Sorcerer’s Touch

Ella and Caleb made it through and back the Sea of Mirage by the skin of their teeth and the Jewel of Sight barely in their grasp, but their journey is still far from over. With tension and differing ideals growing between them, they now must come face to face with the Sorcerer of Melarn; one of the most powerful men in all of the Tales combined, and hopefully persuades him to join their cause. That’s if they can manage to pull together past their issues and pass his tests. It’s either that, or risk turning into extra ingredients for his spells, while simultaneously plunging all of Melarn into chaos.  Hey, who said getting back home was going to be easy?  

Alana Watson’s fourth novel, The Sorcerer’s Touch, is a thrilling and suspenseful follow up to Voyage of Visions and their predecessor, The Diamond Force. Readers will enjoy the exciting and darker twists that have yet to be seen in the Tales Saga. 

Daily Create: Nothing. Take a photo of Nothing.

I may not the best with a camera, but I must say I love the camera on my phone. And that this was the best opportunity. So This is my roommate's bed (picture taken with her permission, of course) and her newest painting.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ye Olde Internet Routine

            In doing this daily create, I realize that I sort of don’t do much (not as much as I used to) when I go on the internet. Back in simpler times, it was always check email, watch a few episodes or entire season(s) of a show, read stories, and write a bit. If someone messaged me on a social media site that I was connected to (most likely Facebook), then I’d go and write them back then sign off if they didn't answer back immediately. It may not seem a lot, but then you actually realize how much time you put into each task. And I put in a lot of time.
            Nowadays it is Tumblr (I realize and acknowledge my addiction... it's okay), email, homework (if there is any, and that usually takes up the most time) TV shows (if I can get off of Tumblr long enough) and… that’s about it. I do write and read from time to time, but not as much as I would like to. I have this constant nagging feeling that I’m wasting time by doing activities that I love instead of doing more constructive things like schoolwork (I can’t seem to hold this ideal when it comes to Tumblr though…). It’s funny, I used to be one of the people that questioned the existence of the website, and now I’m one of the ones that can’t get enough of it. It would definitely be… weird if didn't have it. I might even be more productive… but that thought pales in comparison to all the wonderfully creative artwork (be it visual or literary) and the more interesting theories surrounding the TV shows that I watch. I of course could and would do other things but it would still be… just a bit… sad…
            It’s actually pretty surprising that I didn't put this blog on Tumblr. Wonder if I could change that… 
Sorry Blogger...
Not really though...

You are What You Read

If the article by Lena Price, You are what you Read is anything to go by, I’d have to say that that I am a few things. 
First, I’d have to say scholar in training, if that is a thing. But with all the articles and academia read in these four years of college, it is something that has to be acknowledged, even if the readings aren't my first choice.
 Now, stepping away from the educational side of reading, we've stepped into a whole other world. I like to spend my time as a member of the lands of fantasy, reading about all the beings and things that can only exist in the realm of the supernatural. Werewolves, demons and all the like. After all, we already live in reality, why read about it? I am also a romanticist at heart. Give me a good love story, where the love builds on an actual foundation, where the couple fights to keep this love for all the right reasons, despite all the naysayers against them, or were love comes not only from loving someone you’re attracted to, but what you’re willing to do for the people you’re related to. Definitely not some YA version about a relationship that’s borderline abusive (we all know which book I’m talking about). In short, I am a reader with taste for the imaginary and invented, always ready for a good tale to devour.

My Relationship with Technology

I would like to say that while I do use technology I’m not all that addictive to it… but I might be lying. Well, there is at least the possibility. I mean, I can go stretches without turning on the computer. I leave my phone everywhere I’m not, and I can have quiet moments pass without the need for my iPod. But, when I do plug myself in, it’s a... "moderated" addiction.  I have the habit of watching TV shows and movies that I can’t catch on actual television on my computer. I’m usually playing games on my iPod, or scrolling through Tumblr, my only social media addiction (Facebook has virtually no appeal to me). I also find myself turning more towards technology when I want to write. While I do like the traditional medium of pencil and paper, I find myself jotting down things more in an open word document or the notes app on my iPod. 

In short, I’m addicted to technology, but not in the obsessive way.