Monday, September 16, 2013

DH Chapter Assignment

The chapter that I read was “Handholding, Remixing, and the Instant Replay: New Narratives in a Postnarrative World” by Carolyn Guertin.  First I would like to explain why I choose this chapter.  Unlike some of the other options for chapters we could read, I felt like I might connect with this one more.  Based on the title and my first impression of the chapter, I thought that it might have something to do with sports instant replay, music, or video games and I was right.  But how do these topics relate to The Digital Humanities?  Aren't they forms of entertainment that don't require much analytical thought? Maybe on the at first glance that's what they appear to be, but when you look at the technology and capabilities that surround these subjects, you soon discover that they are much more than that.

I'll start by talking about the instant replay.  In sports, instant replay allows fans, commentators, and officials to look back at a play and see how it happened or developed.  In this chapter instant replay doesn't mean watching if a football player's feet was in bounds during a catch, but instead it brings up the fact that "replaying" moments is a big part of the new kinds of narratives that are present in our digital culture.  With all the born digital narratives, it’s easy to follow links to other readings while interacting with one narrative and then returning to the text a second or third time.  After reading the text again or “replaying” it in your mind, it alters your understanding of the meaning of the text because it’s a different experience from the first time.

Music also plays a role in this chapter, but it’s not like I initially thought when I saw remixing.  Actually it’s less about music and more about sounds in general.  For example Juliet Davis’s work “Pieces of Herself” was a digital program that allowed the user to drag items from different rooms in a woman’s house onto her body, and the program would respond with a dialogue on topics like “consumerism, feminist politics, and other situated issues relevant to women’s lives and domestic space” (Guertin 235).  In the 70s, when the technologies came out to break music down into multiple tracks, it made easier the manipulation of threads.  In turn, these technologies made it easy to adjust the volume, delete tracks, or add new ones.  Depending on who was tinkering the music, they could make a much different sound from another listener.  It is this same concept that allows softwares such as “StorySpace” produce a novel that changed every time it was read.

Video games and interactive digital narratives were talked about most in the chapter.  There were several digital programs that allowed the viewer to experience something unlike anything they had ever experienced.  What sounds to be one of the most intricate games (if that's even what you call this) is called "Glide."  To understand Glide you must know that it is made up of several different worlds.  it has a digital game interface called the Collabyrinth, downloadable fonts, an interactive visual lexicon resembling a spiders web, and a print based novel called "The Maze Game" which explains the rules of the world and the language to us"(Guertin 239).  Yes that is a lot of information packed into one game. This world would mean nothing to someone who hadn't read the novel, and took the time to learn the ways of the game and connect to it.  Sort of similar to this is a game called "Spore" and in that game you also have another world at your finger tips, but in this one, you can shape it and control it.  In Spore, you create an organism and develop it through generations while helping it evolve in the process.  You must adapt to the climate and environment your in, and learn to be the hunter, not the hunted.  Both of these examples leave the door wide open for hours of exploring new territory for these types of games, and although I only gave two examples, there were a lot more worth reading about or experimenting with inside the chapter.

At the very end of the chapter the Nintendo Wii gets brought into the picture and throughout the chapter that was one of the devices that reminded me some of the things I was reading about.  Clearly this chapter could be another 10-20 pages long if it was up to date because some of the digital advances in technology that have been made are incredible.  The newest technology isn't the Wii remote anymore, now it's the xbox kinect, where your whole body doing the work in front of a sensor.  All of the newest digital media tools are at our fingertips with our ipods and ipads and iphones.  I believe that this topic will continue to be an exciting one for years to come.

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