All posts by jaclynmallon

Long Blog #2- Pieces of Herself

Pieces of Herself is a piece of electronic literature created by Juliet Davis. The interactive digital media, that I discovered through the website I Love E- Poetry, provides a commentary on the role of women and gender roles in society. The collaborative experience is created through the use of images, text, and sound. On the opening page the reader is met with a cut out of a gray human figure with no gender determining features. The text on this page flows in line by line to leave the message “Her friends said she needed to find herself. And sure enough, when she started looking, she found pieces of herself everywhere…”

When the reader clicks “enter” they are transported to a black and white bathroom scene and the instructions to “Drag and drop pieces onto the body. Then, reposition them as you like.” The line of the poem about the bathroom reads “In the SHOWER ROOM, where women slip behind curtain, in perfect synchronicity, to remain invisible to each other.” As the reader places the cursor over the black and white image they can navigate the room and cause the image to react. These reactions vary from opening a door to making a noise when scrolled over. Colored items are also scattered around the room and when they are dragged onto the cut out body image there is an auditory response. An image of an eye when dragged elicits the response of a song about the “naked eye”, an inscription on the bathroom door responds with a woman saying “he said he loves me”, thumbprints on the trashcan replies with a woman saying “I don’t even let my kids see me naked”, and the image of hair by the shower answers with a women complaining about her graying hair. I think it is interesting that the room we are automatically taken to is the most primal of rooms where the body is the main focus and privacy is valued. At the top of the page there are links to other rooms and places for the reader to explore. Then next room on the list is the bedroom.

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When we click on the bedroom link the reader is subjected automatically to a man, clearly the woman’s boyfriend, leaving her multiple messages on her answering machine voicing his concern about their relationship. The next line of the poem reads, “In the BEDROOM, where the mind would sometimes float to the ceiling.” The objects in this room were somewhat un-responsive in comparison to the bathroom. There is a storm cloud that produces thunder, a frog that responds with incessant ribbits, a key that replies with what I would describe as princess music, and some clouds over her pillow that plays a song about dreams.

The next link is to the outside. The reader is met with the image of a church with the image of a fetus to be dragged onto the body. This action is met with a song about a little girl wondering about her future and the mom saying, “whatever will be will be. The future is not ours you see.” As the reader scrolls to the right they see a neighborhood with a daycare and a road that is blocked by a closed road sign. The image of an apple in a tree when dragged onto the body is met with a quote of from the bible when God says the husband should rule over women. The verse and the apple allude to the story of Adam and Eve. The last link is another outside image called Main St. where we see a hospital, a cop car, a high school, and a Dairy Queen. With the interactive items we are met with sound bites of the importance of social lives and appearances. Both outside and Main St. have the same line of poem: “As if she could ever really get ‘outside’” These two images are clearly a powerful commentary on the relationship between outside influences on a women’s life.

After the outside link we come to the kitchen with the line: ”In the KITCHEN where she was forever looking for the right ingredients.” Here the items respond with quotes like “sometimes I want to be spicy” and a woman complaining about her weight. Next is the living room where the poem reads: “In the LIVING ROOM where she sometimes imagined she was someone else.” The television shows reality TV playing and an item of a masquerade mask responds with a women speaking about how her designer clothes and goods that her husband buys her don’t actually represent her on the inside. The next room is the office where the poem says: “In the OFFICE where she fought to keep them all.” At first I was confused about what this line meant, but as I clicked on more items that said things about how showing emotion in the workplace is unacceptable and that women were trying to integrate all the roles in to one, the meaning became clear. The office exemplifies the women moving out of the sphere of the home and housewife and into a working woman. However, these women still try to do it all, be the homemaker, mother, and worker, and are losing a part of themselves in the process.

There were two interesting elements of the interactivity in the entire piece. The first was that once you put an item on the body it could not be removed. To me this represents the author’s idea of the permanence of the effects that society has on a women’s identity. Secondly, on most of the images there was one item that when put on the body would produce a sound on repeat. The constant dripping of a faucet for example was incredibly annoying and caused me to refresh the program and start over. Overall, Pieces of Herself was a successful commentary on the gender role of women.

App Madness

Feed stories look more tappable!
Study everywhere!
Keep popping those pigs

Get ready for the aftershock
Bug fixes and improvements
Enhancements to sharing
Thanks for your patience

You guys are awesome!
Animated gifs, image, and videos
search “dancing”

Wishing you a smooth and quick arrival
AMAZON RIVER DOLPHINS

To make this Flarf poem I went to my  app “updates” tab on my iPhone. From there I looked at the description of what the update offered to add or fix and picked the most ludicrous sentence I could find. I drew the descriptions from the apps of: Map My Run, Quizlet, multiple Angry Birds (no shame), Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, InstaSize, GroupMe,  and TransLoc.  The process was fun because I have never actually read the update descriptions before and some of them are humorous. Clearly I need to update my apps though…

Long Blog #1: Feed and Technological Determinism

The idea that new technologies make our lives worse and humans less intelligent is a common idea posed in today’s technologically dependent world. This question is a prevalent theme in the novel Feed by M.T Anderson. This view of thinking is called technological determinism. Technological determinists say that every problem or solution that technology provides is blamed on the technology itself and disregards the aspects of societal changes and interests. The technology discussed in Feed has produced a dystopian world in ecological and political crisis that is filled with brainwashed humans.

Feed takes place in a futuristic world where humans have “the feed” installed into their brains. The feed provides the humans with constant streams of advertising and information and also controls some of their basic bodily functions. In the fictional world of Feed, the demise of human intelligence by the hand of technology is evident. The world in which the characters live is also noticeably falling to pieces in environmental as well as political terms. The feed was created by the very large and powerful companies that govern this world and is installed in most of the humans upon birth. The feed is a tool of these companies to brainwash the humans into thinking that the world is in a good state even though mostly everything is artificial. The feed does everything from profile the user as a consumer to offer up a descriptive word when a character can’t remember. The feed amplifies the effects of a consumerist society. There is no longer school, as we know it but now School ™. In this artificial school the students learn, “about how to work technology and how to find bargains and what’s the best way to get a job and how to decorate our bedroom.” (110) The school is run by the big corporations and uses the feed as a teaching aid as well as the subject the students are educated on. There are not even real teachers anymore due to budget cuts. When Violet shows Titus that she can write he is stunned and says that he can only read a little and he wonders why she doesn’t just use the feed because it is faster. Writing in the feed allows for instant “chatting” between people without even speaking aloud. This act of chatting while in the same room clearly represents the demise of social interactions that are culturally valued in today’s world. Violet says, “Because of the feed, we’re raising a nation of idiots. Ignorant, self- centered idiots.” (112)

The effects of the technology the conglomerates have created have done more harm than good. The Global Alliance says, “the physical and biological integrity of the earth relies at this point upon the dismantling of American-based corporate entities, whatever the cost.” They have polluted the earth and have put superficial Band-Aids on these problems. The “fashionableness” of the lesions is popularized by the feed. These lesions seem to be a result of Earth’s deteriorating ecological system. It seems that if the corporations can genetically engineer meat farms and create a piece of technology as advanced as the feed then they should be able to come up with technology to clean up the environment and heal the lesions. However, when the doctors are attempting to heal Titus and his friends after their feeds are corrupted, the doctor says, “Okay. Could we like get a thingie, a reading on his limbic activity?” (669) Clearly even the professions that are valued as expert are reliant on their connections to the feed to supply them with words and ideas. This means that likely everyone is one hundred percent reliant on the feed and because of this it is hard to have thoughts of their own. If the experts cannot think for themselves then solutions to fix the problems that the feed creates are not likely to be discovered.

Violet characterizes a person who is completely dependent of the feed. She is not dependent for superficial reasons like the other characters are but is dependent for the basic bodily functions the feed provides. When her feed is compromised at the beginning of the book she experiences many complications and eventually dies because it is broken. The book says that seventy three percent of Americans have feeds and even though that is a majority, other parts of the world seem to not have feeds as well. These people without feeds seem to be suffering more than the people with feeds because there is no voice in their head to put a positive spin on the horrific happenings in the world.

The feed and all of the other technology created in this disastrous world clearly aided in its downfall. M.T Anderson’s Feed represents some of the worst possible outcomes that technology can have on society. His satire comments on current societies dependence on technology and many parallels can be drawn between the fictional world of Feed and modern day Earth.

Project Proposal- Huckleberry Finn

Mission Statement: Our group would like to explore the literature of Huckleberry Finn in both its historical context as well as its contemporary interpretation. By analyzing the censorship of the novel throughout history, we, as readers, can better understand the story of Huck Finn and its effect on the country. Through exploration of the similarities and differences between these interpretations, we hope to expand our knowledge concerning the sociological and historical aspects from the publication to date. The site will be aimed towards a readership including those new to the topic, those wanting to learn more on the topic, and those who would like to explore the classic story of Mark Twain through the use of exciting digital resources.

Existing resources/”competition”, both digital and traditional: In print resources, censorship of Huckleberry Finn is portrayed almost strictly through writing, refraining from the use of holistic diagrams or graphs and instead focusing on the individual perspectives of authors.  For example, Satire or Evasion?: Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn (ed. Leonard, Tenney, Davis) offers various essays by different African American writers on how the treatment of race in the novel interacts with American culture.  Meanwhile, Huck Finn’s “Hidden Lessons,” by Sharon E. Rush, examines the book’s racial aspects through an instructive lens, explaining how it should be taught to its typically young audience in a classroom environment.  More pertinent to our group is the widespread backlash (documented digitally) to Alan Gribben’s 2011 edition of Huckleberry Finn, which substituted “slave” for the n-word.  The Nytimes further explores this modern trend of editing, connecting Twain’s censorship to that of authors such as Shakespeare.

While lesson plans are also found on sites like pbs.org, digital resources tend to focus on a more creative, concrete experience of the text.  Disney’s 1993 adaptation reflects the potentially rising popularity to eliminate the n-word from the tale, particularly when considering the company and the book’s youthful audience.  Alongside videos, digital resources contain more informal narrations of Huck Finn, such as those found on Shmoop.  Closer to our group’s aim is a WordPress blog on Better Living Through Beowulf that explores censorship of Huck Finn from century to century, citing specific origins and reasons for its banning/editing.  However, there are also more traditional, academic approaches: Sparknotes boasts a broad, but strictly textual analysis of Huck Finn, including a video synopsis with animations and study materials.

Many of these resources reinterpret the story, depicting it through arguments, diagrams, images, videos, etc.  While these adaptations could be useful in gathering information, they are not both historically comprehensive and as easy to grasp as pictorial representations, such as those offered by a Neatline map.  Our group would like to deviate from the individualized, story-centric approach to Huck Finn, tackling the culture surrounding the story and interactively measuring its changes throughout the late 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries.

Group organization plan: Our group will collaborate on all decisions regarding the general structure of the site as well as the texts we chose to examine.  However, to cultivate maximum creativity as well as minimize conflict, we will not overly interfere in each others’ work. By dividing tasks, we hope to achieve maximum productivity in our work. We plan to use e-mail, Google Docs, and texting to stay in contact with one another. It is expected of the group to respond in a timely manner to messages, share their work for feedback before posting it to the site, and collaborate in a respectful manner.

Tools: Our first tool we will use is Omeka due to its versatility. Through this site we will be able to implement a catalog of objects and texts in order to best illustrate the story of Huckleberry Finn. This site also allows us to access Neatline, which will be vital in mapping our research. We will need to learn how to use both the site and the plugin in order to complete the project.

Detailed Plan/Timeline:  Our group would like to examine the different literary works of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the context of its reception throughout history. We would like to do this through exploring where the text was banned, why it was banned, and how the time period has affected its modification. We plan on selecting different works of Huckleberry Finn (images, movies, books) and comparing their receptions by the public as well as their content. We would like to create a timeline with Neatline/ Simile that would map the censorship history of Huckleberry Finn by location as well as time period. First, we will familiarize ourselves with the Omeka site and Neatline, then, we will do research on the individual texts and online media outlets that we chose, and finally, we will compile this information to generate a concise Omeka site.

WordPress: Blog Post 2- Group B

There are two forms of WordPress- .org and .com. WordPress.org is where you can download and install the software and WordPress.com is a host site that allows users to create blogs or websites. The main difference between the two is that the .org version allows for more control over the site but it requires a web host (which can be pricey). WordPress.com, at the Beginner level, is less flexible in user’s control over aspects like domain name, advertisements, and other customization. However, the hosting at the basic level is free and these ad ons are available through paid upgrades.  There are multiple levels of subscription to WordPress.com. The lowest level called Beginner is free, however it does not allow for a(n) custom site address, ad-ons, custom design, or video uploads. Also it has a limit of 3 GB of space. The second level is called Premium at a cost of $99 a year. At this level there is 13 GB of space and the user has access to everything but premium themes. Finally there is a Business level at $299 per year that allows users unlimited space and control over their site.  In the context of digital humanities people have used this tool to create sites that present their ideas to an online community.

For the class our groups will be using the free WordPress.com account. Once one person creates the account it might be necessary to invite other group members to be contributors or editors of the site. This will allow them to have access to the blog so they can post material relevant to the project. The “dashboard” of the site is where all of the tools to develop the blog are. Through the dashboard you can create pages. Most likely our group projects will have multiple aspects that will be created overtime. Instead of just posting, which is shown on the front page of the blog, creating a page will allow for an archival of material relative to that topic headline. The dashboard also allows you to change the blogs’ appearance, upload media, post to the home page, see what blogs you follow, and much much more. The dashboard is the blogger’s home base. Checking out http://learn.wordpress.com will help you learn how to navigate the dashboard and make your WordPress site the best it can be.

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On a note about the Beginner level of WordPress.com- it is important to remember that this level does not have video hosting capability. Since many of our projects will be heavy on the media and the space allotted for storage is so small it might be useful to link to other sites like YouTube or Flikr in order to add the visual aspect to the projects.

Blog Post 1: “consumption” v. “tuberculosis”

I was interested in observing the chronicle of the terms “consumption” and “tuberculosis” in relation to history of the disease. Tuberculosis is an ancient disease that was named “tuberculosis” in 1839. The first vaccination against it was created in 1906 and began being used in France in 1921. Screen Shot 2014-01-29 at 2.01.33 PM

When looking at the Ngram viewer I was not surprised at the results I received due to the fact that “consumption” has multiple meanings.  Also, the spikes in the term “tuberculosis” correspond to its naming as well as its immunization dates.  After clicking on the links to the Google Books for the word “consumption” I gained more perspective on the definition during different time periods. All of the top results listed from 1700-1956 related to the disease while the top results from 1957- present dealt with consumption of food and consumption in the economic sense. This also explains the steady incline of the use of the word consumption into the 21st century.

After doing some more research on the history of the disease I learned that the word “Phthisis”  means “consumption” in Greek and Hippocrates was said to have written about phthisis as being the most deadly disease of his time (460 B.C). Although Ngram does not have a Greek language option I searched the word under English and saw similarities in the spikes on the timeline.

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I think the use of Ngram as a mapping tool is very effective but a lot of outside research was necessary to make real discoveries. By not having Greek as a language option and  not being able to go back in time to 460 B.C in my search it limited my abilities. However, I found it helpful in determining the main uses of the words during different time periods.