Only on Tuesdays

What Is Writing? It's what it demands of us.

Take down the light bulb
it’s burnt out anyways.
Black dust on the glass
make constellations and zinc
galaxies in my head,
reflecting through my eyes
as I lie on my back, half-buried
under the frozen water level
of a field blanketed with snow.
Looking left, my victim,
the color of what-looks-like-blue
when you get too close to ice.
It’s night now, black above,
white below.  I close my eyes
to the wind and think.
All white, flashing, blinding,
the supernova of a red giant
 sitting up in Orion’s Expressway.
The light bulb’s been replaced.

Blazing words on the page
but the words, they grow
faster than I can trim them
into topiaries of swans and such,
so that a monstrosity, most common
to freak shows, becomes my baby,
and I care for him as my own.

Screw the electric bulb, I’d rather
write by candlelight but hunger
calls me to the fridge.
Open the door, looking for perhaps
a pear, and my baby cries.  I don’t want
to go back to it, but my baby cries.
So, I tell it a story.
Beware the dangling modifier;
it’ll kill your sentence structure.
Good night child, tomorrow
I’ll bury you in snow.

What we do, to who we are

Here's a creepy thought.  No longer do we go to the office, or go to work.  No.  Work comes to us, the office follows us on clouds of networks no longer wired in but wireless.  Know the term "being wired in"?  Seems almost colloquial now because being wired in doesn't require any wires now.  People use it to say they're connected to their social network, their work network.  But I'm sensing a disconnect here.  When does being connected, being wired in, become being connected all the time?  What else do we humans do all the time?  Breathe?  Circulate blood, fire off neurons?  Is technology becoming too much of what we do and thus too much of what we are?
 It's like there's this fundamental shift on what it is to work, to play, to socialize, to produce, in essence to be.  The tech we have isn't about tools anymore, what it can do for us.  It's now about who we are.  There was a Droid commercial where the guy on the phone became part robot.  Is that supposed to be funny?  Now, I'm not proposing some Terminator-type future where too much human consciousness went into machines and machines got their own consciousness.  But we are pouring ourselves into those clouds as if they're a real place to be, and when the power turns off and those clouds shut down,  what will happen when so much of you in not in you?

The Emerging Media Tree


My name is John, and I'm a gamer

Yes, I'll admit it.  I'm a gamer.  I have a PS3, an Xbox 360, and about 10 games on my iPhone.  Apparently that means I'm supposed to be a greasy loner that sits in a basement for hours at end.  That's how gamers seem to have been socialized by non-gamers; that you're going to be the odd one out.  But wait, let's look at the facts in "The Kids are Alright".  Video game production is now a multi-billion dollar revenue source with millions of players across the world.  It's no longer a niche market.  It's a powerhouse industry.

Yet, there's still a socialized stigma against the image of the "gamer".  Why?  It seems to me that the original 1980's stereotype of a gamer has just never been updated.  Almost every social clique gets an image make-over every few years.  Styles change, behavior changes, etc and that helps update the people who exist outside that certain clique to understand the new image.  Gamers never had that reimaging.  Yes, every now and then a game will come out that breaks sales records so much that it saturates to other parts of the market (I still remember Halo being played in almost every dorm room on my floor), but that was about the game, not the player.  

The nearest image make-over came with Wii.  The whole marketing strategy involved getting all people to play, the whole family, or the waistline-conscious gym bunnies.  These are certainly not the typical gamer archetype, but even the Wii's marketing hasn't really changed anything about the collective image of the gamer.

So, why the old image?  Perhaps it's just because gamers don't feel the need to.  For me, I play video games.  I like it.  It's something I do, but it's not even close to everything I am.  I also like to read, to cook, to paint, but those are all things I do, not who I am.  True, there a part, but not everything.  

Maybe another reason there's no change to the old gamer image is because it's about the game itself, about who you can be in the game.  It's not about self-reflection while playing the game.  What I mean by this is when a person is in a certain clique they can become carried away with checking themselves while interacting with that clique to make sure they still fit within that clique.  With me?  I hope so, because when a gamer is playing the game they're not self-analyzing whether they're playing as a gamer should play.  They're just playing.  They're solving the puzzle, getting the objective, finishing the story.  They're in another world.  So it makes sense that they wouldn't really be concerned if they're wearing the right clothes, sitting the way they should, or following whatever etiquette rules may apply.  They're simply playing.

Maybe we don't need a image change.  I say, play on gamers, play on.

Consider this the Preamble

So, if we allow for this notion that companies are now turning their focus from direct selling to creating relationships, then we must ask what kind of relationship would this be.  Would this be a long-distance relationship?  Interracial? (Probably Asian, seeing as most production from companies are coming from there.)  Would it be polygamist?  Would it be awfully one-sided?  

Think about it, the company gives you the material stuff, gives you the place in which this relationship would exist, but that's about it.  You have to come to it, do most of the work, and the company makes you want to do that work for them.  Sounds like an abusive trophy-wife situation.  Take, for example, Puma.  That company gives you the social network (a network that was made by someone else anyways, all they did was put some fancy background on it) and they tell you to play with it.  Then you log on to their Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Youtube, and whatever else account.  You tell your friends how cool Puma is on your Wall, then post a pic, comment on that,  comment on other people's pics of the same damn shoes, then make sure you go to their special events so you can get a trophy on your iPhone, which can then be placed on your Facebook, and maybe you Tweet about posting that trophy on your Facebook and hopefully get a few comments from your followers.  

Anyone else smell a pyramid scheme here?

The company tells you to be part of their network, but what that means is that you are free labor.  You advertise, market and promote that company.  The only difference from a real job is that you don't get paid.  Welcome to the new era of "relationship" building.  

Now, for the Question...

Well, perhaps I'm being the littlest bit cynical, but it doesn't feel like that far of a stretch to say companies are using consumers more than ever; they're just doing it in a nice way.  Some, however, are doing it more nicely than others.  Let's face it, everyone and every company has the same access to the same social networks (well, unless you're in North Korea or China, then you're choices are a bit different).  But if we're talking US, we all have the same playing field to work with.  

Yet, even though we can all get FB, Twitter, whatever, not everyone or every company is using it to the network's full potential.  Some companies like Disney and Apple use social media like it's nobody's business.  On the other hand, we have companies who need to hire an over-priced consultant just to set up a profile on Facebook.  What makes the difference?  This led to to a whole line of thinking that ended up with me saying, "Forget if the cart is in front of the horse, I don't even see the road the cart was on".  

So, after some tweaking, let's pose this question: How do companies represent themselves through their interactions on social media?

Well, Isn't this a pickle?

So, over the last few weeks, there has been a radical change of perspective.  The question has been changed, priorities have shifted.  So, now I'm doing something else.  Oh, as far as the whole research idea, my group is doing it in Qualitative Studies class, and we have found some interesting things.  For instance, we found that a conversation on Twitter as far as a company and its consumers go, resembles an interpersonal relationship more than one might thing.  There are tensions that need to be addressed, turn-taking, expectations, that sort of thing.  All of these combine into what consumers are now expecting from there companies.

    And, let's face it, it makes sense.  Social media allows us to connect, but in that connection we also demand certain things, or at least have come to expect certain things.  We expect interactivity.  We expect two-way communication.  And we expect that communication to happen fairly quickly.  Our group looked at an example from AT&T.  If you keep up with tech news you probably have heard of this epic fail.  AT&T had a Facebook page, they thought they were getting into the new age and tapping in to a new customer based.  Bad thing was, however, that they didn't treat the new media as a new media.  Instead, they ignored their customers on Facebook.  A BIG no no.  What happened was a lot of people got pissed off, and now they had to totally change their game plan.

The hook is, why did they have to?  Why did people get so pissed off?  It goes back to what we expect out of social media, and it's changing the way companies have to do business.  It's the evolution of communication.  Now, as far as what I'm going to do for the other project,  I have no idea.

And Then Comes the Paper in the Paper Carriage

    Oh, academic writing and all the trivial lingo that comes with it.  Did you know that in the 70's a professor on the east coast sent in a paper to be published that had no sensible argument in it at all?  His idea was that if you use enough big words, a journal will publish you without question.  He got published and to this day stands as the ultimate joke to the review board of academic journals.  
    For some reason, this really hasn't changed since the 70's.  Academic writing is as dry as an Egyptian summer and as clear as Mississippi mud.  Titles that go on for three pages, method sections that take a super computer to unravel, why does is need to be this way?  Isn't the goal of this kind of writing to explore new ideas and understand the way we are?  It doesn't make sense to build up ivory towers and unscalable walls so that only the limited amount of researchers engaged in the conversation will be able to understand it.  Let everyone understand it.  I still think Edward Hall was the best academic writers ever, and he was able to write in a wall that was clear, concise, and cohesive.  So, what happened since the 50's?  It sounds like people like to here themselve type sometimes, but that sounds annoys me.  I'm gonna go play a video game now...

Oh, ray, you drop of golden sun

 So, I had ana revelation last night, and it didn't even involve a horseman.  I decided that I'm going to do my project on something that should've been a lot more clear to me before.  I'm not a big supporter of personal branding.  It sounds like something you do to a cow, and there are enough sneering people on covers of self-help books with too-white smiles going around.  I'd rather leave my face out of it.  Yet, I've been talking to people, and they make it sound like you HAVE to do this.  Get your face out there,  it's the only way to get a job, you FAIL if you don't!

I just want to say, stand back crazy, you'll be fine.  Everything will be fine, trust me.

Whatever happened to the sleezy good-ole' fashioned way of getting a job?  You get close to a person in power, play nice, play a round of golf and get hired.  Seems simple enough to me.  It seems now that commercialism has reached a new height, we are now trafficking and selling people again just like our colonial forefathers.  Except this time, we're doing it willingly and we are doing it with ourselves.  Good job social media, we are now commodities.  People are commodities.  We are playing with our images like their are Monopoly pieces.

So, what my project will be is what happened before human trafficking got started (well, the new age version), and that is idea trafficking.  Using all the same media that personal branding uses, but do it with an idea, with a love, a passion.  Or, at least something I'm pretty good at.  And that one thing is, is cooking.  I'm so going to toot my own horn and say I'm pretty damn good at cooking.  So, let's mix those to things together.  Yeah. 

Reflection/Summary of project

The end of semester has left we with little wit to make a snappy title.  Except for the Qualitative paper about Starbucks use of Twitter entitled "Barista, There's a Bird in my Coffee".  I quite like that one.  But my final project for Emerging Media is Cookie Weekly:

I created this site with the idea that I would put up a new recipe each week while adding new media content with it.  As it stands now, the multi-media part includes mostly pictures because the first few recipes aren't that complicated, I figured a photo essay approach would suffice.  When I start making more complex recipes, I want to include video of it: kind of like an online cooking show. 

The social end of it includes a Twitter and Facebook component.  I wanted a way for people who see this site to talk to each other, ask questions, and give ideas.  Right now, it's still pretty barren as far as followers go, but hopefully that'll go up with time and the inclusion of more content.  And that, in a nutshell, is my project.  Oh, maybe I'll make a recipe with nuts in it....

Reflection of the Class

Another semester comes to a close, and we find ourselves saying goodbye once more.  This class has been, overall, quite good.  I did, however, feel like it was sometimes a giant Price is Right final showcase presentation: look a brand new media! next a new way to play with computers!  This, in a way, was cool but (and maybe because I'm in that whole "early adopter" category) I felt sometimes like it was just playtime.

What was awesome, was when we did get into the critiques of new media, asking questions, and giving speculations.  This was exciting and interesting, and I would love to see that type of conversation go into more classes.

As far as the speakers, some were good, some were bad.  What turned me off was how end-all and be-all some of them sounded.  Maybe it's just because they are the professional in that field and it's all they know.  But I really don't think everyone needs to go that far with personal branding, everyone doesn't need to go that far with marketing or gaming.  Much of what was talked about is still niche and probably will always be niche.  They had aweosme insights for what they did, but I guess I was always looking for the outside connection becasue I rarely felt like I was inside that conversation, mainly because of lack of understanding for why it mattered.