my funny valentine

I got these bits of spam on Valentine’s day. Mr MacKeeper (or whatever the character is called) seems to be dreaming of a human woman, as well as keeping my Mac safe and operating at its full capacity. The marketing strategy here is apparently ‘holiday + girl + brand name = money’. And just in case you don’t know what Valentine’s day is, they’ve lifted some helpful (if slightly misinformed and Ameri-centric) info about its origins from what we must assume to be a rather dodgy internet source.

It’s the sort of ‘digital artefact run amok’ quality that I find particularly interesting–a logo here, a character there, some clip art, a bit of text, an address in Sunnyvale, trying to make it personal (Candace.nolan), invoking phrases like ‘friends and loved ones’.

I suppose spotting all this stuff–the elements that don’t quite add up–is a kind of digital literacy in itself. (Although…guess what I installed on my MacBook a few months ago…)

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Week 3 summary

This week I‘ve been thinking about image and language. I think I’ve come to the ‘conclusion’ that medium is to message as pedagogy is to technology. You can’t say that any message is best transmitted by one single medium any more than you can say that one message can be successfully transmitted by any medium; this is not because ‘the medium is the message’ but because they enter into a mutual relationship before, during and after the transmission. The message–if we roll it back to a pre-inguistic thought or idea–must be translated into something before it can be understood by another person.

(And we wouldn’t want the alternative: Belcerebons)

I’ve also been aware that most of the media I post is ‘pop’ culture rather than…I guess, Culture Show culture. I suppose this is mostly because I’ve interpreted ‘digital cultures’ as referring to de facto culture, out of which springs artefacts rather than artefacts that attempt to ‘say something’ about culture. This is a tenuous distinction at best. And the real answer is probably that 1) I know a lot more about pop culture and 2) what I do know about culture culture is largely written down in my undergraduate notes in a box somewhere, unable to assist me in remembering who said, e.g. ‘linguistic structures enable complex thought’ and things like that.

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A word devoid of thought is a dead thing, and a thought unembodied in words remains a shadow.
Lev S. Vygotsky

Can you substitute ‘image’ in the latter clause? Would it be truer, as per Kress, if you did?


Tombstone Blues


Kress argues that image, theoretically anyway, is less constrained than language because there is a finite supply of words but infinite possibilities for image. This may explain why surreal and post-modern art has flourished while there are only a handful of examples of people who have had success with surreal language (although some, like James Joyce with his Ulysses, were contemporaries of the surreal artists…)



As this audio clip demonstrates, however, words might be finite but there are an infinite number of ways to put them together.

[PS Artistic statements in the form of silent audio players and images straying outside the post boundaries, or disappearing completely, are entirely intentional...]


Little Einsteins and moving art

Kress argues that images are experienced in the way in which the viewer wants to experience them versus writing, the experience of which is dictated by the author. While this may be true of images (although I think in this case the context is crucial), what about video? He mentions recordings of image and sound near the end of the article, but doesn’t consider the way that any over-time image/sound also dictates how it is experienced.

In this clip we have the Little Einsteins navigating a work of visual art over time; motifs that appear in the art come to life and move around; the designs are paths that they follow. Would Kress say that this takes the power away from the viewer? Does it make a difference that the original artist did not animate their own work, but it was done by Disney?

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1000 words

This image, which made the internet rounds recently accompanied by an entirely fictional story, is nonetheless a digitally cultural reminder that we interpret images as well as words. Symbols and signs are embedded in images just as they are in language, and the misconception that a picture is somehow more transparent than language–while this could be true in many contexts–is misleading if applied universally.

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IoE website, 2013

IoE homepage

Is navigating this website really so different from navigating a text brochure? A novel or math book is meant to be experienced in a linear way, but I would argue that someone looking to turn some information into knowledge for their personal use would interact with informational printed text in much the same way as they would do with a website…especially a website that is largely text-based anyway. Moreover, while tabs and ‘breadcrumbs’ make the experience feel less linear than a printed booklet does, they are actually represented in a linear way.

IoE webpage tabs and breadcrumbs

If I was a student looking for information, I wouldn’t necessarily garner any meaning from the images–while this may be happening on a subconcious level, it is then more of a marketing tactic than another way of presenting information or content.

decline of text?

Kress may be correct in saying that changes in both the medium and mode of writing are ongoing. But the platform I’m typing into at the moment is evidence that writing itself isn’t as tied to the book as Kress suggests.

As for text, the internet is still largely structured by it as far as discreet parcels of information are concerned. If I want to find an image, video or sound clip, I still have to type in my text, and my success is based on the words that I choose to enter…

The distinct cultural technologies for representation and for dissemination have become conflated—and not only in popular commonsense, so that the decline of the book has been seen as the decline of writing and vice versa.
G. Kress (2005)
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