Personal Website

Check out the final product of my personal website created through Wix:


So What’s the Grey Area?

In the final pages of Open Sky, Virilio delves into a topic that is best described as those things that are included in the “grey” area because they really are unclear. “From Sexual Perversion to Sexual Diversion” presents us with a pretty mind-bending concept: if you choose to engage in sexual fantasies over the Internet or through digital technologies, is it real?

Because I do not consider myself in the generation categorized as only having known digital technology and the Internet, I would have to say that this concept is pretty repulsive to think about. It is disheartening to think that stories I have heard from my parents, grandparents, or those senior to me about their relationships and how love was “back then” is becoming unheard of now. My mom first saw my dad in a high school yearbook picture, whereas an old co-worker of mine first saw her (now) husband on MySpace and a close friend spoke to her (now) fiancée over a dating website. While those sites are not bad, per say, and they have helped many people find their partners, I think there is something about these sites that open up a sense of phony façade, diminishing the idea of romance. Call me a hopeless romantic, but the idea of finding love while in a dimension that is not so tangible is just not attractive to me. Furthermore, the idea that someone would want to engage in perverse actions through technological means like the virtual world “Second Life” is even more bogus.

Ideas to ponder:

I have always been one to live by the idea of being present. Whether it is physically present or even being attentive in a conversation, just being there is a more powerful thing today than it used to be. Do you think that things like digital technology, the Internet, dating sites or virtual worlds like “Second Life” are going to change our society’s concept of what it means to be present? Is it a good thing to change in this direction? Why or why not?

The Earth, the Sky and Everything In Between: Part One

Paul Virilio’s book Open Sky immediately did one thing for me – it reminded me that I am not, and never will be, a physics major. That aside, I trudged through the book’s introduction and part one in hopes of better understanding exactly what Virilio is trying to get across to his readers (and translating it in my own terms!).

Virilio was a radical man of many interests – writing, philosophy and art to name a few – who was deeply concerned with information technology and the global media.

In summary, Open Sky is a kind of political critique of just how much our global media is negatively affecting our society today. He views it as manipulative and that is has led to a provocation of our future societal ruin. With any good critique, Virilio presents a call of action that includes a new ethics of perception and a new, in his words, “ecology” to protect the natural world and the urban community.

Ideas to ponder:

One point of Virilio’s that really resonated with me in regard to the implications and consequences of our digital society was when he asks: “how can we really live if there is no more here and if everything is now? How can we survive the instantaneous telescoping of a reality that has become ubiquitous, breaking up into two orders of time, each as real as the other: that of presence here and now, and that of a telepresence at a distance, beyond the horizon of tangible appearances?” (37). I had never really considered this question before he asked it and, thus, those are the questions that I would extend as well.

The “L” Word

In Learning the Legal Landscape: Libel and Privacy in a Digital Age, Carroll outlines the legal contexts in which Web writers gather information, discusses how privacy law has changed in the digital age and explains the basics of intellectual property laws as they relate to digital content. One area that I would like to focus on is that one “l” word concerning improper treatment of intellectual property. Here, meaning libel.

Carroll tells us that there are two forms of “malpractice” possible when it comes to journalism: privacy and libel (268). Libel, being the more common case in this situation, has three major components: the questionable material must be printed or published, erroneous or false, and defamatory. Libel is almost always a civil wrong, or tort, and not criminal. The premise in libel law in that a reputation has been damaged and that it can be repaired through monetary means. If this seems flawed, it is because it is flawed but this appears to be the best way cases like these have been resolved in the past.

Ideas to ponder:

Libel is, understandably, involved in nearly three-fourths of all lawsuits filed against mass media, with the mass media nearly always losing these cases. Why is this the outcome? Simply put: the media are often viewed as unfair. But how did this reputation begin? Has it not been the media that have propelled our society into new and improved modes of communication? Have they not proved their superiority in the fastest moving and growing society we have faced? How do we determine “the line” that should be drawn in libel and free speech in this digital age?

What To Do With Websites, Words and Wix

In Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works, Redish does a great job of outlining the major points that all of us will need to keep in mind when creating our sites. Similar to my recent blog, Keep Me In Mind, there are a few more points that Redish focuses on when building a website. Our reading could be divided into two different sections: the seven items to keep in mind to understand your audience and the five major functions of a homepage. These are as follows:

The Seven Steps to Understanding Your Audiences

  1. List your major audiences
  2. Gather information about your audiences
  3. List major characteristics for each audience
  4. Gather your audiences’ questions, tasks and stories
  5. Use your information to create personas
  6. Include the person’s goals and tasks
  7. Use your information to write scenarios for your site

The Five Major Functions of Home Pages:

  1. Identifying the site, establishing the brand
  2. Setting the tone and personality of the site
  3. Helping people get a sense of what the site is all about
  4. Letting people start key tasks immediately
  5. Sending each person on the right way, effectively and efficiently

From these bullet points, I was able to see that successful websites are those that focus on their audience. This includes the selective, non-wordy content that is displayed down to the aesthetic nature of the site like the color scheme and visuals that are featured.  For my purposes, I understand that my audience is not only my professor (who is grading the project!) but my future employers as well. Knowing this will certainly help me in the creative decisions I make regarding this coming website project.

Questions that I might ask myself during this project:

What are the most important things to include when I am not sure what type of job I am catering to? What are going to be the most effective and aesthetically pleasing web template for what I am hoping to accomplish?

Keep Me In Mind

In this short reading by Carroll, “Getting It Right: Online Editing, Designing and Publishing” establishes the fundamentals of online editing and publishing and understanding how to begin formulating your own online content. In this chapter the step-by-step process goes as follows:

1. Identify the reader – it is important to first consider the readers’ needs

2. Define document structure and links – making sure the site is suited to the content’s purpose and that it is easy to navigate

3. Define the style – a site needs to be aesthetically pleasing and have guidelines for style

4. Edit/copyedit – the revising and editing process should begin early and continue throughout an entire web building process (this includes grammar to spelling to color synchronicity and layout)

5. Write headlines – these must be written in a very direct style as readers do not always have the benefit of background information and context to interpret the headline’s meaning

6. Test usability – this is one of the most crucial steps, as the whole reason for creating a website should be for the use of others, and therefore, must ultimately be understood!

All of these steps are things that I will be able to keep in mind when I am creating my own webpage through Wix. Because I am in my junior year, I intend to have at least two more internships before I graduate, possibly even three. So, therefore, the audience for my webpage is definitely going to be my next employers, for whom I will be catering this site. Currently, I am not positive about where my post-grad career will take me but I am fairly certain that I would like to be looking for a job right out of Furman. The purpose of my website will be for employment reasons, a personal ad of sorts that will include a mission statement, my updated resume and possibly links to various projects (with photographs) I have worked on in the past. Although I am not entirely sure of where my Communication Studies major will take me, I will likely go into a Communications related field such as Public Relations, Marketing, Events, etc. so I will definitely try to include proof of my proficiency in various media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Microsoft Pages, Photoshop, WordPress, etc.) and my experience in event-related projects.

Edit Me Pretty

The Aesthetics of Editing by Osgood and Hinshaw is an especially interesting reading to me because I had never before thought that editing had a “psychology” (231) to it. If anything I thought this more of a matter of opinion on stylistic choices. In the introductory breakdown, however, it did make sense that image and sounds, shot order, shot relationship, time, rhythm and pacing would all be very important factors when it comes to editing.

One personal experience I have had with regard to seeing editing in action was during an opportunity a May Experience course I took in 2011: Community, Culture and Identity in New Zealand. Throughout this course with the Furman Communication Studies department, we toured New Zealand’s media industry, exploring current media issues common to this once indigenous society while traveling to various sites in the two islands. One of my favorite aspects of the trip was a visit our group made to Park Road Post, a premier post production facility located in Wellington, New Zealand. Haven’t heard of it? Well if you’re familiar at all with of Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, Narnia or the work of director Peter Jackson – that was all done here:

Not only were scenes from countless popular movies cut here, but also a slew of sounds technicians working to produce sounds that did not always make it during the initial filming. Although I was not able to personally get a picture of the inside, here is a look of what the inside of the studio looks like:

To me, these are people who really know best when it comes to editing. Not only do they produce aesthetically pleasing productions that have grossed billions of dollars over the decades, but they do so following many of the traits that the reading highlights.

Questions to ponder

What are some of your favorite movies? What part do you think the cinematography plays in enhancing your viewing experience? What kind of film shots do you find most visually appealing? Why?

The View From Here

In Douglass and Harnden’s The Art of Technique, Chapter 3 introduces us to the meaning behind point of view as it relates to film. As it states, point of view really is one of the most basic factors that exists in the telling of a narrative. Whether in literature or, as it is focused on in this reading, through film, one of the first things to consider is the angle from which to tell a story. In film, the point of view not only refers to the camera angle itself but also to the perspective of the storyteller and the beliefs associated with this character’s perspective (31).

Very literally, the perspective that the camera displays is the perspective of the narration. So therefore, the simplest way to figure out where the narrative is coming from is through the lens of the camera.  I would say that the majority of movies I watch are told from a third person perspective whereas most television that I watch is a mixture of second and third person. One of my favorite shows, however, is The Office, which is an example of a documentary-style show. Not only is there interaction between the employees in the office with their crazy boss, Michael Scott, but also cut away scenes that enter into an interview-like setting where the members of the cast talk about their feelings and about what is going on at the moment. In doing this, The Office tries to simulate the look of an actual documentary by the use of a single-camera setup, without a studio audience or a laugh track. The results have clearly been effective as The Office has received critical acclaim for its popularity and has been included on many top TV series lists.

Questions to ponder:

From what point of view are your favorite movies or television shows filmed? Which point of view perspective do you think is the most effective in what its seeking to accomplish?

Gravity Is Working Against Me

I couldn’t resist using a John Mayer lyric as the title of this post (see previous “There’s Things You Need to Hear” post below to understand) as it has everything to do with gravity! Zettl’s Two Dimensional Field familiarizes us with the many technicalities of the visual field of the screen because of the forces that are acting against it. In short, there are six major types of field forces: main directions, magnetism of the frame and attraction of mass, asymmetry of the frame, figure and ground, psychological closure and vectors.

The area that particularly interests me is figure and ground and, more specifically, the superimposition of photos. In this course we have had hands-on experience in this very area through our use of Adobe Photoshop. Below are some examples of my work and the work of others and their use of superimposition:

Okay, so it is probably pretty obvious which work is mine and which is work of those with more expertise. The picture where Van Gogh’s “Fourteen Year Old Dancer” is duplicated several times and placed in the middle of E 84th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan was my very first project whereas the duplicated football player is the work of another; the photo of Obama holding a microphone in front of a (not so) Leaning Tower of Pisa was my second project, whereas the girl holding an umbrella amidst a flock of birds is the work of someone else.

As the reading says, “organizing our environment into a figure/ground relationship is one of our most fundamental perceptual activities and is such an automatic mental operating activity that we are usually unaware of it” (112). However, when we start to manipulate images it is crucial to remember that there could be major implications from our work of toying around with the truth.

Questions to ponder:

What are some examples of misleading superimposed images that you have seen in the past? What was your reaction to it?  Do you think you reacted in the way that the originator of the image intended?