Similar to Emily’s observations for this week, I tracked the classes’ participation throughout the time spent on the Google Doc and in class on Thursday. I used a a lot less efficient method of collecting data during the Google Doc session and every 5 minutes I counted the number of sentences in the document. It’s only a rough estimate of the progress of the document, it would take me up to two or three minutes to count the sentences that were being added simultaneously. On the graph, the total number of sentences is divided by 10 for scaling purposes. The second line is the approximate rate sentences were added each minute throughout the session. There is a spike at the 65 minute mark after I added the post-question discussion.
Throughout Thursday’s class, I kept track of the comments or questions made by Dr. Sample or a student within 5 minute time periods.
I observed class participation as a function of time to see whether or not we are more active at certains times of class. I believe that someone else may have done this before. I thought it would be interesting, however, to compare the trends of our participation in class with our participation in the google doc session. Using the revision history of the google doc, I had a perfect record of the number of edits per minute. I am unsure, however, of what counts as a revision. As you can see from the graph, the number of edits of the google doc is much greater than the number of class participations. This is expected because on the google doc everyone can revise simultaneously and disjointedly instead of following the progression of class. The graph indicates that for the most part, the number of comments and edits is pretty stagnant throughout the class period. There is one major dip in the middle of the revisions history of the google doc. I assume that this is when everyone had finished major edits or paragraphs and took some time to catch up on what everyone else had written before adding to other peoples’ thoughts.
In my observer post, I am doing something similar to what I did in my first observer post awhile back, but I think this observer post offers some different perspectives for a number of reasons, and with the unique class on Tuesday, comparisons that can be made. I counted the frequency of times that each character in The Circle was mentioned in the GoogleDocs for L-Z on Tuesday and then kept track of the number of times anyone said a character in class, whether Dr. Sample mentioned a character or a student mentioned a character.
On Tuesday, the frequency of characters followed the questions on the GoogleDocs, with Mae brought up frequently, not only because she is the main character but also because of the first question of her being a “stand-in.” Also, Alistair is remarked on because of his connection to Mae as she adjusts to the Circle and also because of the question on the “totally optional” activities.
On Thursday, Mae is once again featured prominently in our discussions but also since we read the section on Mae’s superficial action on the activities in Guatemala, Ana Maria and Tania were read aloud. Mercer was a part of our discussion as we talked about his perceptions versus Mae’s as well.
Overall, I think looking at names instead of topics as opposed to my last post allows us to examine the difference between discussing multiple articles and a novel. Discussing a novel definitely feels more personal and we can utilize examples that are, in some ways, more relatable. Tuesday’s class was online and was solely devoted to answering the questions, so the frequency of names of characters brought up focused on the questions while Thursday we were present in Studio D to discuss a variety of topics and characters.
I found Johnathon Harris’ choice in portraying the timeline of the photos of his work “The Whale Hunt” to be very interesting. The pulse-like structure was certainly very misleading. When I first was on the site, I thought the the spikes in the timeline, similar to the spikes of a heart beating, represented exciting things happening in the series. This was enforced by the large amount of spiking at the end of the timeline, which I assumed coincided with the actual killing of a whale. However, I started to question this notion when I arrived at the large lone spike in the middle of the timeline.
Eventually, I realized that the spikes represented a larger amount of photos taken at the same time. In a way, this still did reflect my original thoughts, as a spike in photos would suggest an event worthy of lots of photos, more than likely more interesting than the events that were given only one photo. In this way, Harris’ timeline is a clever way of portraying the events, as the pulse line does in away suggest which events are more interesting then others, like the whale butchering vs the men standing around at camp.
Seeing this work made me think on what authors take into consideration when choosing a type of visual to represent something. Audience surely has to be the main factor- I thought back to how confusing the Kissinger visualizations were before I had a more thorough explanation. Those were meant for people more experienced in fields trying out different visualizations to gain new insights into something. Harris, as a photographer, was most likely looking at his work as art, and the pulse-like timeline added an extra element of creativity to his work.
In Joyce Walker’s article on narratives in the database, specifically focusing on memorializing September 11th on the Internet, she concludes by comparing how the process of mourning online and then through photographs she took when she visited the memorial site are similar and different, especially in regards to the passing of time. Her navigation of various websites allowed for the fluidity of time because of the sense of participation in viewing the expressions and thoughts of individuals and groups. A photograph, on the other hand, is a closed “emanation of past reality” that does not permit the viewer to experience an awareness of time passing.
Walker’s perception that looking through photographs while she was physically present and also viewing information and pictures online continuously shapes her memories of the experience reaffirms the belief in psychology that our memories are constantly changing. The very act of recalling a memory alters the memory itself, as over time we may emphasize certain scenes, forget details, or hindsight may create different perceptions. But, browsing online perhaps, to a greater extent, permits one to more accurately recollect the memory and recreate the narrative of the event because of the fluidity of time on the Internet. However, the Internet, more so than other modes of communication, enables people to only peruse sites and information that supports their points of view, and, as Walker explored in her article, wildly different viewpoints are accessible from Google searches from “Remembering 9/11 as a Queer Muslim” to U.S. government sources. Overall, mourning through physical presences and online mourning offer opportunities to explore the greater identity of web users today.
One issue Joyce Walker discusses in Narratives in the Database involves the constraints society places on the information available on the Internet. Walker states:
“In spite of the seemingly endless diversity of the elements contained within the network of the Internet, we are nevertheless constrained by the norms of our society as to what is created and what elements are recombined.”
Walker illustrates this using the powerful, but extreme, example of how the memorial photographs of the victims of 9/11 where contrasted against the ‘mugshots’ of the terrorists involved in the attacks on the legacy.com website. The pictures chosen to represent and juxtapose the two different groups illustrate how the author of the webpage has limited the narrative of 9/11 to our cultural experience of the attacks. Walker attempted to find similar memorial sites for the terrorists of the attacks, sites that could have easily been formed by any religious extremist with access to the Internet, but she could not find such a site. The Internet and its search methods have presented this story in a way that reflects the cultural norms of society.
This idea can be worrisome when considering other stories or narratives of the past that we create from our Internet sources. Are we building these narratives, or have they already been formed by the authors of webpages, culture, or even by the database-hyperlink structure of the Internet? It is interesting to consider how our knowledge of past experiences is formed by following the hyperlinks presented by others, especially when using a search engine such as Google.
Joyce Walker examines the increasing inclination to incorporate “real world” interactions and events into the virtual world by studying the attempts to mourn the attacks of 9/11 in online communities and memorials. This idea of renegotiating physical connection by redefining the way we interact with time and space begs the question of: what constitutes a social connection or relationship? Walker would argue that, today, connection does not necessitate a face to face conversation. While I understand the social transition of community from the physical to the virtual, I would urge us to examine how this transition changes the way we percieve the purpose of human interaction and what this adds to (or takes away from) our collective memory and communities.
My first recollection of a physical custom’s transition to online was with Neopets. When I was in elementary and middle school, everyone had a Neopet. This was an online, fantastical breed of a pet which you could feed, pet, play with, send on play dates, build houses for and so much more. I loved Neopets, but I remember thinking even then: “This is a game, it isn’t like having a real pet.” It was meant, however, to constitute the relationship between a person and their pet.
What I questioned about Neopets then reflects my questions about Walker’s analysis of 9/11 online mourning and Jonathan Harris’s The Whale Hunt. As I interacted with the The Whale Hunt, I discovered the customizability of the experience using the various filters and the heartbeat monitor. This concept of conveying memory is fascinating, however, what would it be without our preconcieved understanding of the physical? Without having pet our own dogs, we would not understand the concept of petting our neopets. Without grasping what it feels like to have our heartbeat speed up, we would not be able to effectively interact with Harris’s interface. Our virtual interactions are fundamentally build upon our understanding of the physical. The question society must now wrestle with is: In our negotiation of relationships and memory, can we move past the physical or will it always form the basis for our concept of connection? If we can indeed move past it, what comes next? What is the step of human interaction that is beyond the virtual?
From the wearable technology movement discussed in Peterson’s article, to the utopian idea of “total recall” presented in Penderson’s book chapter, the storage of human experience is presented as a new movement initiated by new technologies. While we have discussed augmented memory as a possibly worrisome experience that lacks creativity and human emotion, how do we feel about photographs today?
Isn’t documenting our daily lives and experiences through IPhone pictures, Facebook or Instagram forms of augmented memory? I would say it is a way to store our experience at that moment of time. Although a photograph only captures a snapshot of that experience, most of the time it is the experience behind a picture that makes it meaningful. When looking at your favorite photo, does it bring back positive memories as well as emotion? In this case, a form of augmented memory has possibly succeeded in capturing and storing a human experience.
However, augmented memory is less successful when the experience behind the picture is less meaningful than the picture itself. If your phone was out of memory and you needed to clear some space, which pictures would you consider deleting first? You would probably delete the pictures that mean the least to you. Even though a picture is a record of your past, it’s not worth keeping if theres no emotion to back it up.
A movement towards complete augmented memory should not be feared because it is a possibility, but feared if used improperly. Augmented memory can still capture emotion, as long as emotion was present in the experience in the first place. What we must avoid is reliance on these forms of memory as the only experience of the world around us. How often do we see tourists more focused on their camera lens than the scenery around them? A photograph, or any other form of augmented memory cannot be used to replace memories and experiences if we hope for them to have any meaning to us in the future.