Monday, January 28, 2008


I have always said that despite how much time I spend watching television I don't really like anything that's on. I've always found it difficult to answer questions regarding my favorite programs, simply because I don't have any. This is not to say that I spend less time than others watching TV, I just don't like it. Some people have asked me "If you don't like TV, then why do you watch it?". My answer is always the same, simply that I start watching TV while I'm doing something that requires hands. By that I mean eating. It always seems that I prepare myself food, and if I'm alone turn on the TV and end up watching for sometimes up to three hours. Three Hours! And I don't even like what I'm watching! It brings me to believe that television is somewhat of a drug, and idea touched on in Danny Schechter's The Death of Media: And the Fight to Save Democracy. In fact, Schechter refers to television as a "plug-in-drug", which really made me look at it from a wider perspective. By this I mean I took a step outside my little television world and tried to see the television audience as the huge amount of people it really is. I thought about how many people come home from a stressful workday or something of the sort and, feeling the need to forget and numb themselves from that hectic life, turn on the TV and do absolutely nothing. Alright I'm sorry, not nothing. They breath a bit. Maybe eat. Maybe the occasional outburst of an answer for Jeopardy! But I really began looking at TV as a drug.
My roommates and I have toyed with the idea of dropping cable from our list of bills because we don't feel like paying for it anymore but there has really been no progress. We can talk all we want about how we hate whats on, or how it's expensive to keep, but really nothing happens. It may be a fear of boredom. Last year when I was living in residence I had no access to television, and for some reason I can not recollect any time saying "I wish I had TV," or even "I'm bored". So at the beginning of this year, I had the idea that I don't really want to have cable in the first place because, well, it will make me watch it. And as I said before, I don't even like anything that's on anyway.
Well, 3-1 and I'm outvoted, so we got cable. I don't like it. I still watch it. A quote from The Death Of Media came to mind "programs exist to sell eyeballs to advertisers, not information to viewers". So Maybe the reason why I don't like anything on TV is because the programmers are no longer creating enjoyable programming for our entertainment or information, but rather creating programs so that advertisers will have an audience when the actual program isn't even playing. It makes sense because television gets its money from advertising costs, so why shouldn't they attempt to boost their profit? It's not like we HAVE to watch it if we don't want to right? I can quit any time I want. I swear.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My First Post- Class, Reading and Video games

On my way to class last week, I was struck suddenly with the question of what exactly I was getting myself into. It seemed like the answer was there in my head: MEDIA. Despite the fact that my answer is essentially summed up in one word, it didn't make it any easier for me to understand. Media involves so many things...everything really. every single mode of communication whether it be speech, art, music, can be considered media. And to add to this complication comes the idea that every specific medium that relates any form of media is in itself a form of media. So I came to the conclusion that learning about media is in a way simply learning about life through representation. Whether we like it or not, it is a media-saturated environment in which we live, and coming to terms with that is something everyone must do in some form or another. Whether it be simply accepting it and living freely through text messages and iphones and trying to keep up with the latest trends in personal technology, or condemning society for its overuse of perhaps unnecessary technologies and resolutely using the card indexes in the library as opposed to the computer, every has their own way of "dealing with it".
As I sit here typing a posting on a recently created blog, on a (relatively) new computer, with my digital camera and my ipod on my desk, I know that I am a part of that media-saturated world. But does it cross my mind everyday? Not necessarily. Recently however I have been thinking about what forms of media I use. In the readings from Remediation: Understanding the New Media(1999 MIT Press) by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, the distinction between immediated and hypermediated forms of media is described. In the glossary, immediacy is defined as "A style of visual representation whose goal is to make the viewer forget the presence of the medium" and contrarily, the definition for hypermediacy is "A style of visual representation whose goal is to remind the viewer of the medium." (1999) For some reason, as I read this, I was reminded of a particular video game I have experienced in the past known as "Pokemon Snap!" for the Nintendo 64 system. I was trying to think of this video games in terms of hyper-/immediacy, and what that meant. In this video game, the player plays the role of a photographer who is meant to take pictures of these magical creatures. I found that there are elements of both immediacy and hypermediacy in this game. In the general game play, you are viewing from the photographers perspective in an imaginative world. It is intended that you feel you are within the realm of the Pokemon, and you have the ability to see above, below, behind and to either side of you while playing. This would be the developers attempt to try to get the player to look past his or her living room and actual television set and thus make them forget that they are in a game. Within the game, you get to take pictures, which eventually become "developed" which you can look at and edit at will. This is thrusting the medium of photography into the players mind. The game is entitled Pokemon Snap! for a reason: they are playing off the idea that in this game, it will be like actually taking photographs of actual imaginary creatures. The way I see this game is hypermediacy embedded within a world of immediacy.
Thus I've come to the sort of unsettling fact that I happen to be wondering how I am intended to perceive the media I am experiencing day to day. The use of some technologies seem so common now that I think that is in a sense immediacy, for example a technology that is so simple and quick to use that you forget the way you used it but simply remember the effect. But I also think the same about hypermediacy, because maybe the companies are intending to make whatever that technology so present in our lives that through marketing they can constantly update and remind the user of a better, faster, smarter medium to use instead.

ref: Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin: Remediation: Understanding New Media Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1999