Open Data Essay- Jennifer Callanan

When I began my research on open data I had no in-depth knowledge of what it entailed. Open Definition describes open data as a piece of content or data open to anyone and is free to use, re-use and redistribute it. It gave Wikipedia as an example of open data. Wikipedia is open because its code, Mediawiki is free and open source software that is made available. When you think of Wikipedia you we are constantly warned against it but it is one of the important sources of open data we have. Just because Wikipedia has a liberal license which allows anyone to copy, use and change or even improve the site, all because the source code is presented to anyone who wishes to use it. This is a huge feat for open data. Unlike Wikipedia, Google Maps is not an example of open data. Yes it is currently free service but the code is owed and the data in provides in copyrighted, leaving users do little else but look at it.

While government initiatives opened up governmental information to the public through the medium of websites such as data.gov and opendata.ie, there were also three detrimental acts to come with this development. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), was set up as an implementation to tackle online attacks of copyrighted intellectual property and forged goods. This act would allow law enforcement to decline access to entire online domains if infringement took place on website or even personal blogs. While SOPA was put in place to protect intellectual property, many opposed arguing that SOPA is a liability to free speech and originality and as a consequence internet communities would face destruction.

The 18th January 2012 saw a major protest against SOPA. While many people would not have been aware of it before that day, SOPA could destroy the internet. It was only on this day that we really got a glimpse of just how important open data is. Wikipedia along with several thousand other website constructed a service blackout to raise awareness of the issues we face. The internet has become such a forsaken thing that we constantly abuse and take for granted but how far would we go to protect it?

Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) is yet addition power given to copyright holders to control access to ‘rogue’ websites. These ‘rogue’ website are classed as devoted to infringement. Infringement through PIPA is defined as the delivery of illegal goods and copies. It is feared that PIPA could damage internet integrity and again, our freedom of speech. In the limelight more recently is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). ACTA is a global treaty to launch international standards for intellectual property rights and there implementation. In an attempt to combat counterfeit goods and generic medicines and infringement via the internet ACTA was founded. It is said to be a response to the increase of counterfeit goods and pirated works entering trade on a global scale. Many people feel that this agreement would not only affect their freedom of expression but also intrude on their privacy.

Clay Shirky- TED talks

The open data debate is ever growing and of increasing concern to more and more people. Personally all three acts seem like the exact same thing reworded to sound different. When the act has not been past they come along with the same thing under a new title and pitch that, all to speed the process and get their plans in motion. Clay Shirky (above) believes that these acts are not achievable but will cause a huge stir along the way. He says that SOPA and PIPA are nuclear and they are an attempt to go anywhere in the world and censor content. He believes that we, the people/users, are the ones that will be punished and it will be a case of guilty until proven innocent. He argues that PIPA and SOPA are ways to get us back on the couch, consuming, not producing and certainly not sharing. When these three acts where pitch and talked through, they forgot to think on the benefits open data provides. Open data is not just a mere fight for the sake of it, it is essential to innovation, self-empowerment, and growth of knowledge. It allows creativity to flourish and in the case of government open data it improves the efficiency of government services, it adds more value to the research conducted as it can be used on a wide-spread level and most importantly it allows democratic control. Open data allows us to see where our money goes and how it is being spent by the government. “A woman in Denmark built findtoilet.dk, which showed all the Danish public toilets, so that people she knew with bladder problems can now trust themselves to go out more again”, (Open Data Handbook), this is a prime example of the further good that open data allows, government research made into open data for the benefit of ordinary, everyday people with common problems.

Tim Berners-Lee gave a talk on the importance of open data and how far it has come in a year. He recognised that without open data, mash-ups would not be possible and he informs us just how useful these mash-ups can be. He said that the open data movement is only getting started. It is a very positive video and makes you realise how much the world has opened up with the help of open data and mash-ups. Tim asks that we put data onto the web (government, community and scientific data) on the basis that it will be used by other people to do wonderful things in ways that you never could have imagined. Community generated raw material has allowed something like OpenStreetMap to take off. OpenStreetMap gives the ordinary Joe Soap the control to obtain, edit and save raw geodata to the OpenStreetMap database. Now anyone who looked at a street map and thought it could be better could do something about it. He gives the example of Haiti in which the OpenStreetMap was utilised to its full potential. People watching the tragic disaster and wanted to help built a real-time map showing blocked roads, damaged buildings and things that were needed.

Tim Burners-Lee TED talks

I believe that the majority of people, after reading this and researching open data for themselves, will agree that open data is very beneficial to everyone and it removes the limits put on furthering our knowledge. I hope that I have shed a light on the pressing issues open data faces and have widened your understanding of the topic. Take a look at these open websites:

https://republicofletters.stanford.edu/

http://gephi.org/

Work Cited:

–        http://www.wikipedia.org/

–        http://opendefinition.org/

–        http://opendatahandbook.org/

–        http://stopsopaireland.com/

–        http://opendata.ie/

–        http://gephi.org/

–        https://republicofletters.stanford.edu/

–        http://www.ted.com/

–        http://www.openstreetmap.org/

–        http://www.youtube.com/

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Internet Anonymity

Anonymity has long been a part of our culture, from the many historical songs and books that have the author “Anon”, to the more contemporary notion of Ghost Writers, anonymous donors to charity and witness protection programmes that we occasionally come across in the movies. The internet phenomenon of anonymity however has developed into something much more prevalent and is a very real topic of debate among web users today.

We all of us have different internet User Names or Avatars with which we communicate ourselves to other people on the internet. The act of signing up to a new blog, forum or social media site requires that we provide a name and picture of ourselves so that we can contact others with mutual interests and discuss topics relevant to the site itself. The issue over the last few years has been the prevalence of some to create fictitious monikers for themselves and then to act out against society through this moniker. One needs only to glance at the average comments on a You-Tube video to get a glimpse of the content to which I am referring.

Trolling is a phenomenon that came into existence because of the lack of formal, civilised structures on parts of the internet. The basic premise is that one poster can essentially say what they like about another poster as everyone is entitled to their opinion, or in the mind of a Troll, “everyone is entitled to my opinion”. The purpose of “trolling” is normally to derive humour for a situation, and though it may not be funny to the poster, there is certainly an audience for the jokes as web-sites like this and this, show.

There are, as one would expect conflicting views on Internet Anonymity. There are those who argue that it is anyone’s right to create a moniker for their own usage on the internet and a basic right to have freedom of expression when using the internet. The opposition holds that there is no problem with someone freely expressing their opinion, so long as they keep the sense of decorum they might find in civilised society.

As part of my research there are two names that have constantly cropped up as part of the debate. On the one hand Christopher Poole or “m00t” as he is more widely known is a firm advocate for internet anonymity. Jaron Lanier is of the opinion that this phenomenon will lead to a degradation of our society if allowed to continue unchecked.

Christopher Poole is the founder and creator of “4chan”, an internet picture board website. 4chan is responsible for many of the internet phenomenon that we take for granted today, such as the rules of the internet and memes.

Poole, or m00t as he prefers to be called, gained notoriety when he won Time Magazines The World’s Most Influential People in 2009. This shocked many people at the time as he had been relatively unheard of before this and went on to beat people like Barrack Obama and Oprah. The reason for his success was the fact that it was an online poll, which the Internet fixed. Not only to the extent that he won, but also so that the first letter of each of the winners names, when printed in Time would read: m.A.R.B.L.E.C.A.K.E.A.L.S.O.T.H.E.G.A.M.E.

moot is notoriously private yet he has consented to a few interviews, the most important of which I think is this:

Jaron Lanier is one of the creative minds behind Virtual Reality and has been an intellectual thinker on all matters technological and internet related since  the mid 1980’s.

He is probably best known for his book : You Are Not a Gadget, which he refers to as a Manifesto. Lanier is of the opinion that all information should be free to access by all and that through this process we can begin to learn more as a species. He has spoken out against advertising and social media. He also has an issue with the application more than the concept of anonymity. He feels that though it is important that everyone is able to express ideas and opinion; it should not be to the detriment of other people’s opinion.

The arguments in both cases seem to share the belief that all information should be free and that everyone should be entitled to this information. Whereas Lanier believes that any block to this freedom of information should be reasoned out, Poole’s web site has unfortunate links with what can only be described as a militant wing of the internet, “Anonymous“.

Over the last year, more and more people have become aware of the actions of this group, mainly due to the actions of the group towards those they considered an enemy of the Internet as a result of new legislation in the form of: S.O.P.A., P.I.P.A  and A.C.T.A.

Anonymous are of the opinion that our basic freedom is under threat by corporations who are attempting to force through legislature that would prevent people from the free accessing of information and artistic content on-line. In response to this they have staged large protests and have hacked several countries in retaliation to what they see as crimes against the public. In these protest they have been very busy.

There is no real way of knowing how this problem of internet anonymity will work out in the future. It is clear that there is a degradation of our societal norms as a result of people’s willingness to comment on other people in a sometimes cruel way due to the remove of having a computer in front of them and not a real person. As technology continues to become more and more involved in the way in which we all communicate, this does not bode well for the future. It is in our hands to decide what is to come and the awareness of the issue can but strengthen our resolve.

The Evolution of Shakespeare- By Leah Murtagh O’ Connell

The aim of this research project is, carrying on from my blog, to show how sixteenth century music would have affected Shakespeare’s writing and also to show how Shakespeare is reinterpreted in the modern age. Firstly, I will look at Shakespeare as a playwright, the Globe Theatre and how music was used in his plays. Secondly I will look at how Shakespeare has been interpreted in today’s modern world. I will deal with the transformation and interpretation of Shakespeare whilst also looking at the special relationship Shakespeare has with music.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on approximately April 26th 1564; the precise date is unclear as there is no birth record to base it on. During his career Shakespeare wrote ten histories, ten tragedies, seventeen comedies, and a vast array of poetry. In today’s society these works are usually read by a person and on very rare occasions read aloud. This, however, was not the intention for Shakespeare’s work, his plays were first and foremost to be performed; later as a means of generating revenue they were published in play format but the main purpose of the plays was to be performed. Without performance the true meaning and beauty of Shakespeare is lost.  Taking the well know speech from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:Act2, Scene 1

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.” (Bate, 1696”)

Simply reading the text is not enough, to understand what Shakespeare was trying to ascertain it is important to see the play performed. Methods of teaching today force children in classrooms to read Shakespeare, naturally the children never grow to appreciate Shakespeare because they are forced to read something that was destined to be performed.

For Shakespeare and the sixteenth century audience there was no better place to see the plays performed than the Globe Theatre. Built in 1599 by the Lord Chamberlain’s men (a theatre company) it subsequently burned to the ground in 1613 but work began rebuilding it on the same spot in 1614. This open air theatre could hold up to three thousand spectators and was the home of Shakespeare’s plays.

Shakespeare’s musical influences at the time included Robert Johnson, Olando Gibbons and William Byrd( who I will talk about in more detail later in this piece) These were classical composers who wrote music for both the voice and instruments. The instruments available to composers at the time were a little different to our modern ones. The sixteenth century orchestra consisted of four main groups: string, wind, percussion and keyboard; it did not have a brass section like our modern orchestras. The instruments were also different ranging from the Lute, Harp, Viols and Hurdy-Gurdy to the Sacbut, Lizard, Gemshorn and Hautboy.  The instrument which I feel gives sixteenth century music it’s undeniable tone is the harpsichord: a keyboard instrument played similarly to a piano but which has a very distinct sound.

William Byrd was a sixteenth century composer responsible for some of the most harmonious music of that century. Born in 1539, Byrd went on to have seven children. As well as being a composer he was an organist and a choir master. Among his highly acclaimed legacy is the noted ‘Ave Verum Corpus’; a piece that epitomises sixteenth century composition.

This was the style of music that Shakespeare was hearing while writing his work; undoubtedly influencing him as ‘His fairies, His witches, and sometimes his ghosts, were especially associated with music’(Scholes 2). The three witches that feature in Macbeth are the most widely known example of Shakespeare directly creating musical characters. This tale, synonymous with Halloween, is once again suitably appreciated when performed.

Macbeth Act4, Scene1

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

Enter the three Witches.

Witch 1:  Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Witch 2 : Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
Witch 3:  Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
Witch 1:  Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
       ALL:.  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Witch 2.  Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
All:  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble. (Bate, 1895)

This is an adaptation of the witches song taken from ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

 There are productions of Shakespeare happening all over the world, probably even one right now. My favourite modern adaptation of Shakespeare is ‘Kiss me, Kate’ from 1948, it has music and lyrics by Cole Porter and is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of The Shrew’

As well as serious adaptations of Shakespeare the internet is dotted with fun filled skits which play up the funny and musical side of Shakespeare. So for your enjoyment I present ‘The Othello Rap’

Although the playwright died in 1613 his legacy lives on. Having contributed so much to the plethora of English theatre, his work stands alone as the Sparkling gem of literature. Having been interpreted and reinterpreted throughout the ages shows the various intriguing influences and attributes of Shakespeare’s work. Even though there are hundreds of varying versions in the world one thing is for certain, Shakespeare’s work lives on as some of the paramount literature to date.

Bibliograpy:

Bate, Jonathan & Rasmussen, Eric, eds. William Shakespeare Complete Works London: Macmillan,2008.

Scholes, Pery A. “The Purpose Behind Shakespeare’s use of Music” Proceedings of the Musical Association 43 (1916-17) 1-15.

Youtube

Websites:

http://www.alisonvardy.com/harp-info/medieval-harp-history.htm

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/orlando-gibbons-q7353/biography

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1087314/Robert-Johnson

http://www.coleporter.org/bio.html

http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/william-byrd.htm

http://www.halloweenhistory.org/

http://leahtopia.wordpress.com/

http://library.thinkquest.org/2888/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/

http://www.luteshop.co.uk/history.htm

http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-music/lizard.htm

http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/sacbut.htm

http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/gemshorn.htm

http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/hurdy.htm

http://musicologicus.blogspot.com/2007/07/william-byrd-ave-verum-corpus.html

http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-music/hautboy.htm

http://www.stratford-upon-avon.co.uk/

http://www.theatrehistory.com/american/musical019.html

http://www.ukpianos.co.uk/harpsichord-history.html

http://vdgsa.org/pgs/the_viol.html

http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-biography.htm

http://www.william-shakespeare.info/shakespeare-play-romeo-and-juliet.htm

http://www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-globe-theatre.htm

Social Media and the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’

The topic of my personal research project is Social Media; the affect that it has on us as indiviuals, and also the affect that it has on contemporary society as a whole. The topic of my class presentation and the related posts in my personal blog have primarily focused on the affect that social media has on us as individuals, such as our formation and maintenance of digital seconds selves in parallel with our everyday, analogue lives. The introduction post on this topic can be found here. The message that I attempt to deliver in my personal blog and presentation is that, as individuals, we can tend to invest too much time into our digital selves, resulting in large portions of our lives being lived in these spaces, and as a result, a deterioration of quality time invested in our actual selves.  This video parodies that idea with a musical quality that I lacked in my presentation:

I will now use our collective class blog to expand upon the idea of social media in a broader context, specifically the role that it plays in contemporary society as a whole and the power of social media in harnessing the unlimited potential of the co-creation and sharing of ideas among individuals for the benefit of society. This idea is known as ‘Digital Humanitarianism’ which I briefly touched upon in this post.

In this Ted Talks video, Clay Shirky briefly outlines advances in media that have aided human interaction. The first of these, and the topic of Sinead‘s class presentation, was the printing press. Then followed conversational media such as the telegraph and then the telephone. These were followed by radio and then television. Technology such as the telephone provided us with ‘one-to-one’ interaction, while advances such as the radio resulted in a ‘one-to-many’ form of interaction.

Today, as a result of social media, we have this:

Above, is Bill Cheswick’s Internet Mapping Project in which he traces the edges of individual networks and then colour-codes them. This image beautifully illustrates the social scale of networks which the internet and social media allow to interact. While previously media only allowed limited ‘one-to-one’ or ‘one-to-many’ interaction, according to Clay Shirky: “the internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversation at the same time.” Essentially, allowing ‘many-to-many’ interaction on a large scale, international medium for the first time. Social media has become the mode of transport for all the previously discussed modes of communication such as video and phone technology. Social media sites catering for specific interests now allow users to watch, read, or experience the same content, while simultaneously discussing it, regardless of space or time.

While the personal benefits of such interaction are obvious, there are also global benefits of social media and the instant interaction and sharing which it provides a platform for. Particularly in the coverage of, and reaction to, global disaters.

Here are two videos; the first is a news broadcast from 03/11/2011 reporting on the tsunami which was devestating Japan:

The second video is a piece of citizen footage, filmed by a handheld video recording device on location, and uploaded to the internet:

Which video was more powerful? Which video gave you a more vivid and honest depiction of the experience of the disaster?

For me, without a doubt, it was the second video. And this is why; According to James Surowiecki, citizen journalism and social media will play a major role in the future of world news coverage, and digital humanitarianism. Surowiecki states, in this Ted Talks video, that the tsunami disaster was the seminal moment when social media, and particularly the Blogsphere, came of age. During and following the disaster, bloggers came together to give us a far more powerful experience of the tsunami that mainstream news simply could not achieve. People adding so much content such as their personal accounts and videos of the disaster at ground level, and dedicating time to link and tag these posts accordingly was done for free, with no other intent but to share their stories. While very few individuals make a living off blogging, most of these people do it simply for the social capital.

This, according to Surowiecki, is the great genious of the internet. People have found a way to collaborate and create and share, without any money at all. This has resulted in expanding our established ideologies such as ‘value=money’ or that we must pay for something for it to be of any quality. We all have something to contribute, and if we collaborate and share it without capitalistic goals, we can create beautiful, and powerful things. And this is why I, personally, am fascinated with the potential that social media holds for the future of our society. The Wisdom of Crowds, also written by Surowiecki, touches on this collective potential of groups of people working together, and the fact that group intelligence is far greater than that of the individual. Often the collective intelligence of a group can be far greater than that of even the smartest person within that group. This is why social media’s focus on creating networks of individuals, and providing a space for ideas to travel freely, is integral to the future quality of what we experience on the world wide web.

While social media is a utopic space to nurture this collective intelligence by allowing free collaborative networking, the rapidity of social media also results in great advances on the humanitarian front, particularly in terms of awareness. A case in point is the earthquake in China in May of 2008 which was announced on Twitter several minutes before the US Geological Survey. This resulted in a shift of the established paradigm of a government which informs its citizens, to a citizen body that informs its government but also the world. This act was one of many which contributed to the return of agency to the citizens of cities and nations world wide. Within half a dayof the earthquake, as a result of social media sites sharing news of the disaster, donations webpages were set up with donations pouring in:

Image taken from Clay Shirky Ted Talks video.

Evidently, social media has far more potential than simply being a means of maintaining idyllic, digital second selves through sites such as Facebook:

Other mediums, particularly the blogsphere, are encouraging collaborative interaction of creative individuals, which in turn, results in the production of powerful, passionate representations of the world around us, that traditional capitalist institutes cannot match. If we can avoid the addictive tendencies of those from the preivious ‘Gotta Share’ video, we can make a difference in the quality of content that is produced in today’s digital age. As well as this, social media is playing an increasing role in the humanitarian field, offering powerful ground level coverage, as well as rapid response and support, to global disasters such as the Japanese tsunami. In the words of Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter: “When you give people easier ways to share information, more good things happen.”

Works Cited:

 Ted Talks Videos

Lewis, Paul. “Citizen journalism.”

Shirky, Clay. “How social media can make history.”

Surowiecki, James. “When social media became news.”

Williams, Evan. “Listening to Twitter users.”

Websites

www.cheswick.com

www.newyorker.com

www.shirky.com

www.youtube.com

Newspaper Articles

‘Sichuan Earthquake’ New York Times. Accessed May 15 2012.

Books

Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds. Anchor Books. 2004.

Digital Autofiction

Autofiction

Autofiction (Photo credit: Bjørn Giesenbauer)

Autofiction is a term generally associated with contemporary French authors. It was “invented” by Serge Doubrovsky in 1977 in relation to his novel“Fils where he sums it up perfectly as a way of “selling” an autobiography,  making it attractive to the public without playing the “grand-homme-au-soir de la vie”.When using Autofiction  an author may chooses to write an account of his life in the third person where he modifies significant details or characters using fiction as the narrative self.  Author, character and narrator are one and often we find that using Autofictional practice authors  retain their real name and persona while venturing into an imaginary life. The term has come to represent a new direction where the lines of fiction and nonfiction have been erased.  The site www.autofiction.org  features articles which discuss the genre, specific works and contemporary French authors such as Anne Wiezemsky, Catherine Miller, Olivia Rosenthal and Michel Houellebecq find literary freedom within the genre.  Doubrovsky claims that is gives authors the freedom of language in their writings…  “To have entrusted the language of an adventure… then create the adventure of language, outside the wisdom and the syntax of the novel, you have created something concrete” Today Autofiction  has become  a multifaceted nature of writing, breaking all preconceived notions of how to narrate “ sincerity and fiction, reality and truth”

In regards to truth, fiction and lying, the dictionary defines lying as “the deliberate act  of deviating from the truth” ( www.thefreedictionary.com/lying ), but fiction is considered to be an “imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality, but has been invented” Therfore Autofiction   is fiction and not a lie because the reader is aware of the genre (autofiction  generally on the cover of the novel) and that  what they are reading deviates from the truth. They are  aware that the elements in the novel are a mix of fiction and autobiography and  only the author really knows what is truth and fiction.

Autofiction is omnipresent in all present-day media, particularly on the Internet.The most prominent genre of visual autofiction today on the internet is the net working phenomenon that is MySpace which is all about the creation of an image for the owner of the profile.unlike the literary variant which was all about the novel,  sites such as  MySpace are all about  the creation of the image of the profile owner.  Users may construct different profiles for themselves such as dance-divas, travel-gurus or pin-up girls. They may present

themselves as vampire slayers or werewolves all in the name of identity creation and escapism.

Identity creation is nothing  new to us and it does seem to be a part of human nature.  From the Renaissance to the Victorian, class-structures dictated one’s social identity, taste in art, music, social circle and status. Today identity formation is a choice of self-fashioned creation. Users can choose freely the role models they wish to present themselves, thus making Identity less of a given and more of a constructed reality.  Millions of young people who are creating their identities are taking to these internet  sites in the form of MySpace, blogging and tweeting and reinventing themselves in this cyber playground. A truly hijacked profile may still function as a real profile because of the space it inhabits.  The expression …“what cannot be found on the Internet does not exist” (Peters) may have seemed a bit farfetched at one time but is  proving  true, as the net–variant of Autofiction is far surpassing the literary variety and growing exponentially.

Image representing Mixi as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Across the globe young, across language and culture Autofiction is taking hold and  particularly in Japan. The reason Autofiction is  popular in Japan is the same reason Facebook is not. Japanese culture frowns on self-promotion  and standing outside the crowd.  Japanese blog sites rarely show identity photos and an exploration of Mixi, the Japanese equivalent to Facebook, show  profile faces  presented as cartoon characters, stars, warlords, constellations and kittens.” Autofiction is the playground for these self-fashioned identities.  Profiles which are “untrue” or which do not present accurate profile photos, names, pictures and  demographic descriptions, can only be seen as playful and not lies, deceit or fraud. These “anti- profiles” partake in the community of MySpace or Mixi template and therefore identity and  truth status are  shared. occasionally the truthfulness of a profile is questioned and the reader may well be surprised to discover it is a complete counterfeit and  reader can never be certain what is real and what is not. This  is the attraction of the genre of Autoficion.

What is reality but a concept which hovers in between spaces.  Spaces where star-phenomenon, geisha girls,  artists, fashion designers are all examples of self –fashioned identity creations. These self-created personalities are signatories of  the “Autofictional contract” between sender and reader where anything goes. In between the two poles of truthfulness and falseness the majority of us dwell and the “about me” is fast becoming  our space of inquisitive indulgence.

Understanding Acts of Memory and Digital Archives – By Michelle Moore

My personal research blog will document the importance of digital archiving. This blog emphasises the importance of archiving for the upkeep and preservation of knowledge and culture particularly oral storytelling and film as it explores acts of memory and digital archives. In turn, the audio heritage and the visual heritage bring the past and the future together through digitality.

This blog also explores the process of digitization and the advantages this process has in securing material into digital archives. It highlights the importance of preservation and why it matters.

To begin, you will find a video clip on my blog which is narrated by Harrison Wick, an archivist at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In this clip Wick highlights the need for digitization of artefacts and documents which are one of a kind before they disappear. Significantly, he emphasises the importance of this digitization process as being an access tool rather than a preservation tool. Of course, preservation is important but in this case, accessibility to these magazines, newsletters, manuscripts, artefacts and documents prevails as he says “So everyone can enjoy them”.

IUP Special Collections Video Clip – The Need for Digitization via Youtube

This clip is a beautiful compilation of the university’s history, but only some of the university’s history. It is interesting to see the gap in the footage as some of the documents Wick mentions have not been digitalized. This gap further emphasises the need for the process of digitization of historical, cultural and social material in the rapid globalisation of the modern world. This is IUP’s unveiling of treasures for modern technology which is consequently being practised by many other archivists, museums, councils and institutions around the world.

Having a keen interest in culture, this student’s blog concentrates on two local projects in digitization and preservation. I discuss my own experience in the Cork Northside Folklore Project where I first developed an interest in digital archives.

In the summer of 2010, I gained experience within a research environment which involved duties in digital archiving. I spent this time working with the Cork Northside Folklore Project. As part of my experience, one of my tasks was to transcribe audio recorded interviews to the page, Microsoft Word documents in particular. These documents were then saved and filed electronically on an external hard drive. The accuracy of information was a main objective of this task. The preservation of these interviews with their oral storytelling and remedies for local customs and practices are invaluable. As part of local heritage, it was essential to transcribe and record these findings and interviews because otherwise they would be lost forever. As a result, I gained an appreciation for local folklore and history. The transcription of many audio interviews is a mammoth job.

During my time at the Cork Northside Folklore Project there were researchers working on another project entitled Cork Memory Map. There is an interview on my blog from RTE Radio 1 with Dr Cliona O’Carroll of the Department of Folklore and Ethnology at University College of Cork in which she discusses the purpose of this project. This radio clip contains some excerpts of what the project has to offer. At times normal conversations like the ones in this clip are littered with unfinished sentences but it is argued this brings an authenticity to the project as these bytes represent everyday life in Cork City. Digitization has allowed for elements such as laughter, accents, delivery, timing and warmth to be captured and stored as these may have been lost in the written word and on the page. The researchers’ fieldwork proved fruitful as can be seen on the website. All of the audio recordings became known as the “Sounds of Cork” and they were all to be digitized. A Google map of Cork is used for this project. One only has to move their cursor over an area of Cork City and click to hear a story that coincides with that place. Although it is still a work-in-progress, this site allows local history to be preserved and is considered to be of the up-most folkloric, cultural and social value. It is possible for anyone in the world who has access to the internet to gain an understanding of the richness of Cork’s local oral storytelling traditions at their fingertips.

Furthermore, I researched the preservation of film in Ireland for this blog. In particular I looked at the Irish Film Institute Archive. Not only is film a means of entertainment, it is important as a historical document as well as an aesthetic work and form of cultural expression. Like all heritages, the cinematic heritage of Ireland needs to be preserved and recently the IFI Irish Film Archive launched a campaign to protect the Irish national film archive. 

This webpage highlights that the IFI archive building in Temple Bar, Dublin has reached capacity and critically, they cannot accept any more material which means that valuable collections are in danger of being lost. In response to this danger the IFI developed an innovative partnership with the National University of Ireland, Maynooth to build a new Preservation Centre. In an in-depth interview with Kasandra O’Connell, the Head of the IFI Film Archive, O’Connell emphasises the need for a new centre to store collections. She also highlights that the targeted date for completion and opening of the centre by spring 2013.

As a way of asking the film community, their friends and partners to help them collectively fund the shortfall of €300,000 by spring 2013, they produced and broadcasted this clip below. Actress Saoirse Ronan appears in this lovely montage of Irish film throughout the ages.

IFI Film Archive Preservation Fund Clip via YouTube

This beautiful array of Irish film throughout history is an advertiser’s dream. It makes me wonder about the expenses of this one minute clip. The money spent on this could surely have gone into the preservation centre. But then again, this is the power of advertising and it is possible that the funds raised because of this clip outweigh the costs of production.

Significantly, the fact that scholars of the humanities are embracing digital technology highlights the urgency and importance in the preservation of literature, history and culture of all work. This blog also discusses the Bayeux Tapestry in brief. As an extremely valuable piece of artwork, it is exciting to find that there have been attempts to digitalise it and to also extinguish fears of other art, oral storytelling and film being lost in the transgression of the digital age. 

Works Cited

Newspapers:

Hozier-Byrne, John. “Op-ed Kasandra O’Connell, Head of the IFI Film Archive, on our Cinematic Heritage.” The University Observer, 26 January 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

Websites:

Foys, Martin Kennedy. “The Bayeux Tapestry Digital Edition.” Scholarly Digital Editions. Foys, Martin Kennedy, 2002. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

Irish Film Institute. “About Irish Film Archive.” Irish Film Institute, 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

Radio Telefis Eireann. “RTE Radio 1.” RTE.ie. Radio Telefis Eireann, 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

University College of Cork. “UCC Home.” University College of Cork, 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

University College of Cork. “The Cork Memory Map.” University College Cork. University College of Cork, 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

University College of Cork. “Research Profiles: Bealoideas: Dr Cliona O’Carroll.” University College of Cork. University College of Cork, 2012. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

University College of Cork. “The Cork Northside Folklore Project.” University College Cork, 2007. Web. 15 Mar. 2012.

YouTube Videos:

IFIcinema. “IFI Irish Film Archive Preservation Fund.” Online Posting. YouTube, 3 November 2011. Web. 15 March 2012.

IUPVideo1875. “The Need for Digitization (IUP Special Collections)” Online Posting. YouTube, 6 June 2011. Web. 15 March 2012.

My Essay on Narrative gaming

In this piece of work I will write about my opinion of narrative gaming. For research I have looked at work from bloggers and game developers. All the games I write about I have played extensively. I will begin with looking at the development of gaming from its humble beginnings in 1972 with Pong up to 2011 with Uncharted. My main argument as always will be that game narrative is a vital part of the game, and that games tell stories well.

If you are a gamer you will notice that they have come a long way from Atari’s Pong in 1972. To look at the start of game narrative we must first remember the ten words that infuriate every gamer in the English speaking world “Thank you Mario, But our princess is in another castle” however poor the narrative was and given the level of graphics available, Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers had a narrative nonetheless which is more that can be said for some big name games today. However, it seems that a game which has a good narrative is not enough and mindless games seem, to ‘out do’ masterpieces in profit margins. To understand this we look at Super Mario Brothers to start with as this was line recited to Mario every time he would beat King Kopa, now Bowser, in one of his many castles. It was repetitive but its fair to say that it worked.  Super Mario Brothers was the formula that made a game great – it had a narrative, and good game play for its time so much so that in 2010 Nintendo brought out New Super Mario Brothers on the Wii which did quite well. If you can call us scholars, and perhaps we are just die-hard gamers, we have argued that Super Mario Brothers is the real start of gaming and it has received IGN’s best game of all time spot. It’s hard to disagree with IGN in that respect. It is the Citizen Kane of games. However, narrative fed the game, the player was playing to save The Princess. Nintendo did try to improve this repetitive narrative in Super Mario Brothers 2 which, as  most gamers will tell you, was a flop in the gaming world. The narrative was there but the game play was not.   This  in-turn lead to most gamers favorite game Super Mario Brothers 3. Super Mario Brothers 3 saw the return of the repetitive narrative  the game, it can be argued, sounded the death knell for Sega and the Sonic franchise. Even when Sega would try to come back with the Mega-Drive however, Nintendo would hit back with a rerelease of the three Mario games (Super Mario All-Stars) and the masterpiece of 2D gaming which was Super Mario world (which is still regarded as the best game to ever be released on the “snes”). What I’m saying here is the combination of a narrative and good game play lead to The Super Mario Brothers long stint at the top as it applied to the right generation at the right time. This being said it is not only Mario  that had a story. It has long since been argued that Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 2005 IGN ranked it a number two as the second best game of all time beaten to the number one spot be Mario. IGN said:

Considered by many critics to be the greatest game ever made, Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of only a handful of games to receive a perfect IGN rating. The masterpiece, which stars hero Link in both child and teenage form, helped pave the way for 3D adventure games, but it will likely be remembered and adored for two other reasons: first, it reinvented Nintendo’s famed Zelda franchise and actually made it better. And second, it showed Nintendo 64 fans and the larger video-game community that as revolutionary and pretty as Super Mario 64 was, Nintendo still had some serious magic in its hefty bag of tricks. Ocarina of Time is an epic undertaking shining with tight control, ingenious level design and intuitive play mechanics. It remains one of the all-time most innovative adventure outings to date(IGN.com). 

This game is considered a masterpiece of its time it was story telling at its best and paved the way for future block buster games like Metal Gear SolidFall Out and Uncharted. The ability to control time in the game was new and innovative I believe this is where the “wait” feature developed in the Bethesda studios line of games. I remember watching people play this game and my amazement at the fact the player knew where other game characters were at any given time. This control of space and time in the playing environment was completely revolutionary. However, Nintendo’s time at the top was brief and ended with Sony breaking into the gaming world. Sony had game narratives like no other and movie star characters that were idolized by the gaming world. No longer were people playing games for the game play but to see what happened to their favorite characters. These characters became household names, Lara CroftDuke Nukem, Solid snake and Nathan Drake to name a few. Developers of narrative games saw that, like Nintendo, consumers wanted to follow a character moreover these consumers were people who grew up with Mario but were too old for him. This game character came in the form of the 6 foot  tall, athletic and very beautiful Lara Croft. Every teenager’s desire, Lara broke the mould of game characters. She did not just appear on game magazines but on mens magazines she is the first computer generated female to be requested to appear in men’s magazines.  The level of interactivity, the design, and the immersive quality of the game play engaged legions of new fans. Because of Tomb Raider we forgot about Mario and Sonic for the mass expanding worlds,  places like China, Alaska and South America.

The thing game developers seem to not understand at times is that there are two generations of gamers. There is the narrative gamer from the Nintendo generation who has moved from Mario to Drake and the somewhat mindless gamer of the x-box generation. We narrative gamers are starved for a game with a story, but the problem is that most game creators cannot write game stories (Daniel Floyd). When looking at writing a story you should write what you know yet most game designers although able to utilize graphics well they are all the same.   They are mostly inspired by very specific media. It has been argued by many bloggers, quite sarcastically though it may be true that most game developers  have read one book and seen one movie (Ken Levine). Therefore you get games that may resemble a quest to destroy an item of jewellery or defeat a dark lord of some sort!  They are predicated on tropes that persist in the fantasy genre only.

This is not to say that narrative is not ‘growing’. One must remember that game developers would love to produce games with story lines like Inception or Sherlock Holmes but it is also hard for game writers to write stories that the player does not just watch but takes part in. There are games out there that do force the player to delve into the narrative. These games normally fall in two categories there is the linear game and the nonlinear. The nonlinear games seem to hit a home run where game play is concerned and games like Fall out, the Elder Scrolls series, and Grand Theft Auto allow the player the option to find the story in its open world in their own time. When we get to the linear games we get great game play but sometimes a short narrative that really has no point. There are some great narratives in linear games including Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted.

Greg Costikyan, a blogger, argues that games cannot tell a story like cinema, books or music can. Obviously I would argue against this. Today video games tell intricate stories. Moreover games are still at a young stage in their development – only forty years old. If we look at the beginning of cinema up to its present state,  the time it took to get from the Lumiere brothers first films in 1895 to Michael Bay’s Transformers 2007 is 112 years. Whereas we look at the release of Pong in 1972 and only 35 years later, also in 2007, were met with Assassins Creed which brought games from Pong to Assassins Creed. I believe that narrative is a vital part of gaming and that games when developed correctly have the ability to tell great stories. I disagree with bloggers like Costikyan who argue that narrative seems not to belong in gaming.

Bibliography

  1. Ernest Adams, “Three Problems For Interactive Storytellers,” Gamasutra,
  2. Jesper Juul, “A Clash Between Games and Narrative,” paper presented at the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, Bergen, November 1998, http://www.jesperjuul.dk/text/DA%20Paper%201998.html. For a more recent formulation of this same argument, see Jesper Juul, “Games Telling Stories?”, Game Studies, http://cmc.uib.no/gamestudies/0101/juul-gts
  3. Markku Eskelinen, “The Gaming Situation,” Game Studies, htttp:cmc.uib.no/gamestudies/0101/eskelinen
  4. Henry Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”, Henry Jenkins, pub. Web. http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/games&narrative.html
  5. Greg Costikyan, “Where Stories End and Games Begin,” Game Developer, September 2000, pp. 44-53.
  6. IGN Top 100. 2005. Web. http://ie.top100.ign.com/2005/001-010.html
  7. bethsoft.com .Web. http://www.bethsoft.com/eng/index.php?cn=ukeng
  8. Ken Levine (game developer). Web. http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/
  9. Christopher Nolan. Inception. Warner Brothers. 2010. Web.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/
  10. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes. 1887. Web http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes
  11. Michael Bay. Transformers. Dream works. 2007. Web http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418279/
  12. Daniel Floyd. kirithem’s channel. Youtube. 2006. Web

Youtube videos

Please note all videos are not edited by me and are directly linked back to their source.

  1. Naughty dog.Uncharted 3.youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  2. Bethsoft. Fallout. youtube. 2010. Web. 01 March 2012
  3. Naughty dog. Uncharted 2. youtube. 2009. Web. 01 March 2012
  4. Ubi Soft. Assassins Creed. youtube. 2007. Web. 01 March 2012
  5. Nintendo. Super mario. youtube. 1985. Web. 01 March 2012
  6. Nintendo. Super mario brothers 3. youtube. 1988. Web. 01 March 2012
  7. Nintendo. Super mario world. youtube. 1990. Web. 01 March 2012
  8. Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda. youtube. 1998. Web. 01 March 2012
  9. Konami. Metal Gear Solid. youtube. 1998. Web. 01 March 2012
  10. Bethsoft. Fallout 3. youtube. 2008. Web. 01 March 2012
  11. Edios.Tomb Raider. youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  12. 3D Realms. Duke Nukem. youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  13. The hardy bucks. The viper’s MW3 video. youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  14. Rockstar.GTA.youtube.2011. Web. 01 March 2012

Click here for websites used on narrative Gaming.