Decoding Code

SimCityBox
This photo depicts the game, SimCity, created by Will Wright, which allows users to create different cities to their liking.

Most likely, if you live in a country where you are privileged enough to have internet access, you have probably played some sort of online game at least once in your lifetime. I remember when I was a little kid, I would spend hours on the Disney Channel website playing all sorts of show related games! Have you ever thought about the behind the scenes part of those games though?

In a blog post by Mark Sample, he analyzes the various meanings certain codes can contain. When playing a game, chances are, you’re focused on the tangible, what you can see, but Sample points out that “a player’s success in a simulation hinges upon discovering the algorithm underlying the game”, such as in the game SimCity. With this game, players construct their own cities. If the user wishes to lessen the crime in their cities, however, the only way to do so is to add more police stations into their city, even though, in real life, increasing policing hardly ever reduces the amount of crime in area.

This made me think about the implicit ideas being ingrained into our minds as we expose ourselves to different things, such as online games.

As technology advances, people are being exposed to online games as young three years old, if not, even younger.

Hopefully the games that these youngsters are playing are strictly educational, but even certain educational tools can hold implicit biases. When analyzing code, one may notice that a game meant to teach children emotions may always have the minority characters appear angry or sad, while the Caucasian characters are designed to always appear happy or excited. A detail like that may go completely unnoticed to the designers and even to certain users of the game, but a minute detail such as that has the power to influence that child’s self-esteem and how they interact with others in the future.

You might think that only programmers can decode or translate code, but, anyone can as long as they are patient enough. You might not understand everything going on within the code, but doing this can help you understand the creators purpose for doing certain things within the code and may even help you to question whether or not you want to continue supporting the game based on certain coding decisions the creator made.

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

What is “Good” Music?

This chart displays the differences in raw analog audio signals between different mediums for audio.

What are the odds that I would be listening to a newly thrifted vinyl record right before reading Jonathan Sterne’s “The mp3 as Cultural Artifact”?

After reading the article, I began thinking about music quality. I was a bit surprised that the article appeared to neglect adding vinyl into the conversation. I personally enjoy vinyl records simply for the novelty of listening to something that my grandparents probably listened to almost a century ago! When I walk into any music shop, however, the “professionals” love to strike up a conversation on how the music quality is way better on vinyl than anything else you will listen to today. I nod my head in clear agreement, but I never really took the time out to understand why music quality appeared to be better on vinyl and what “better’ even meant.

The graph above gives the visual representation of sound quality through different mediums. In the article linked to the photo, it claims that “a vinyl record has a groove carved into it that mirrors the original sound’s waveform…[so] the waveforms from a vinyl recording can be much more accurate, and that can be heard in the richness of the sound”.

With CDs, the recording is being converted into an analog signal, which is simply translating electric pulses of varying amplitude or copying the sounds heard. By lowering quality slightly more, DVDs can hold more music than CDs, which brings to question whether you want to listen to a lot of music or a smaller amount of better sounding music. No judgement no matter your decision, but it is…

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

Counter GIFs

 

Cinemagraph GIFs:

WE tv sad rain emo emotions GIF
Cinemagraph GIF

Counter:

Analysis:

A typical cinemagraph GIF is utilized for aesthetic purposes as opposed to for humorous or entertainment purposes. In the first GIF, it portrays a man in the rain. The man is not moving, but the rain is, creating a somber tone, yet beautiful scene. In the GIF that I created, it is simply SpongeBob repeatedly blinking his eyes. The cartoon contains little aesthetic pleasure and appears to have little meaning, making for an awful cinemagraph GIF.

 

Sport GIFs:

 

 sports vintage basketball nba history GIF
A typical sports GIF

Counter:

Analysis:

Sports GIFs are usually used to portray glorious moments in sports’ history. They showcase exciting moments that can create feelings of joy and/ or sorrow for fans. In the first GIF, Julius Erving is seen making an aesthetically pleasing (and possibly tear-jerking) basket. In the GIF that I created, however, the GIF is short in length and glory. There’s nothing special going on, just some dribbling of the ball, which, in comparison, elicits little to no emotion from the audience and would contain no purpose in being shared.

Reaction GIFs:

Andrea reaction trippy wow omg GIF
Reaction GIF

Counter:

Analysis:

Reaction GIFs are self-explanatory. They are GIFs that depict a lot of emotion and can be seen all over the web. They are used in text based conversations to portray emotions that may not be conveyed if only words were being used. In the first GIF, there is a child in complete awe/ wonder, looking around frantically. Context and intention are key with reaction GIFs. This particular GIF can be used to convey feelings of actual wonder or it can be used for irony, to portray a person looking for all the “cares” that they have. The reaction GIF that I created is a counter because it lacks emotion and though “no emotion” is also an emotion, I cropped it enough so that the man’s mouth would be slightly moving, as well. This makes it seem as if he is speaking and should therefore have some sort of emotion, yet his facial expressions are very anti-climactic and, therefore, the lack of purpose would probably not make this a very popular GIF used.

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

This is Not Your Childhood Coloring Book

This is a photo from the Netflix series, Dear White People, depicting white students in blackface, makeup used by non-black people to portray a black “character”.

In Sarah Roberts’ chapter, “Commercial Content Moderation: Digital Laborers’ Dirty Work”, one thing that stuck out to me was when she discussed Antoine Dodson. Dodson appeared on the local news and was later made into a remixed YouTube video. Dodson was financially reimbursed later, but this brings back the question we were discussing in class on where does content come from. Originally Dodson was discussing how a man was attempting to rape his sister and somehow, a few white males thought it would be hilarious to turn Dodson into a joke without his initial consent. I wonder, had there been no financial reimbursement, if Dodson would have still consented to the video?

In another previous discussion, we talked about how when a person is financially unstable, they would do almost anything for a little extra cash. Did Dodson know that allowing this one video to stay posted would lead to the enforcement of black stereotypes?

I want to know why white people suddenly found it okay to wear Halloween costumes mimicking Dodson, complete with blackface? How would you feel if who you were was mocked? If you say you would feel nothing, congratulations, you are privileged. In the series, Dear White People, the main character makes the claim that “when you mock or belittle us, you enforce an existing system. Cops everywhere staring down the barrel of a gun at a black man don’t see a human being. They see a caricature, a thug, a nigger.”

Let those words resonate with you. Dodson did give permission to become “internet famous”, but I doubt that he was expecting such racist and ignorant acts to occur afterwards. Originally, Dodson was even telling a rape story, so not only are we normalizing the degradation of black people, but also normalizing rape culture. When you laugh at another person’s oppression, you should take a step back and analyze why. What events have happened throughout history to lead up to this point? You might think that this is just something minor, but as Dodson’s story has shown us, one act of “harmless” humor, can spiral into a way worse scenario.

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

World Wide Gifs

Image result for gifs coming back
A humorous gif to kick off this post about how gifs have re-entered the 21st century.

GIFs have truly GIFted this world from the 20th century to today. Since 1987, they have become easier to make with more complex ideologies to understand and higher image quality. When thinking of a GIF, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s humor or sass? But did politics and education come to mind, as well?

Though they are not universal, GIFs are excellent ways to spread information, whether that information be for advertisements or communication. There have been times when I did not know the reference a GIF was making and searched for the context of the meme to better understand it. Though all that work may take away from the humor of the GIF, it allows the GIF to gain more meaning. Of course, for those in certain countries that limit their access to technology, GIFs may not play as an important role in their communication as for those in the U.S., which is important to realize. Different places have different boundaries, so a GIF that is socially acceptable in one country, may be banned in another.

GIFs are intersectional, however, since they span from the political spectrum all the way to the artistic one. They are short and to the point, yet their repetition and sporadic nature allow them to be relatively memorable and their popularity allows for messages to be spread quite quickly. In the scheme of politics, a New York Times article claimed that GIFs helped to humanize and make candidates appear more likeable during the 2016 elections. The moving aspect of the GIF adds character that a single emoji may be lacking. When words aren’t enough, a GIF can complete your feelings when you are unable to physically and/or verbally convey them yourself.

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

“Kiss Me Thru the Phone”

Image result for iphone addiction gif
This is a gif mocking the sole use of iphones for pleasure.

In the chapter, “Where the Internet Lives”, Jennifer Holt and Patrick Vonderau make the statement that “our global media culture is increasingly dependent on streaming, remote storage, and mobile access,” (page 88). Upon reading this, I began to analyze my own use of technology. I use my laptop for almost all my school assignments, I use my phone to not only communicate with people that I know, but to also interact with others globally and to research information more quickly if my laptop isn’t accessible. My nephew is almost three and already knows the basic usages of an iPad. Within the past five years I have noticed that people have become more and more intrigued by engagement. About ten years ago, I don’t think anyone would be placing their phone in the middle of a table to hold people accountable if they were being too anti-social in the “real world”.  I chose the gif attached to this post because I think it’s a good descriptor of most of society today. We live under the illusion that our “stuff” will bring us happiness, when it’s the people that we ignore while using our “stuff” that should matter the most. Some like to argue that they feel more social because of technology, but the article, “A Culture of Smartphone Dependence”, claims that “those who constantly look to their smartphones for stimulation and connectedness may eventually lose their skills in face-to-face interactions,” which is a much different concept from online social interactivity since it is what’s happening in real-time. Though technology does allow us to learn about the rest of the world and go on online interviews for jobs and schools, there is such a thing as becoming too dependent. Holt and Vonderau make the claim that there is a “race between our ability to create data and our ability to store and manage data,” (page 88). If one day, all technology was to turn off, how would your life be affected? Would you simply be out of a job? Or would you find yourself spiraling down into a hole of depression as you quickly realize that most of your social interactions were based solely on a screen? Though losing a job can lead to temporary sadness, who will be there to cheer you up if it were to happen?

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

 

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

I Think I Love You… Just Not as Much as You Want Me To?

Love. A concept that has existed from the beginning of time, something that everybody has sought after, but how has technology changed our understanding of it? In this TedTalk, Helen Fisher argues that technology has not changed love, while Esther Perel claims that our need for love has not changed, but how we love has. In the book, When Old Technologies Were New, Carolyn Marvin discusses how a husband discovered his residential telephone was tapped and used this information to prove to the court that his wife was cheating on him. In another scenario, a man was about to ask if he could court a woman, but right before he managed to speak, the phone rang and another gentleman beat him to the punch.

These scenarios aren’t that far off from what occurs today. Cameras and tapped phones are still used to investigate questionable significant others and one text and/ or DM can change a person’s entire day’s plans and potentially even relationship status. The chapter does later go on to say that “despite the artifactual efficiencies of electrical media so admired by professional experts, they, too, attached greater weight to the irreducible face-to-face encounter as a more trustworthy guarantor of integrity” (page 87). Fisher claims that millennials value being a good parent more so than having a good relationship, while the latter is more important to the parents and grandparents of these millennials. She also mentions how she believes that the shift to egalitarian relationships has caused more of a change than technology has. Now that women can support themselves, they no longer need to search for a suitor with a good socio-economic status, but are free to make choices based off preference. Perel then added that though this is true, technology has broadened one’s horizons.

People have more accessible choices for a partner now than ever before and while this excites and entertains many, it also ensues a bit of dread. People have a fear of missing out, of choosing the wrong partner and yet, they also have a fear of being alone. Fisher made the point that people are consumed with getting to know every little detail about their partner that “where marriage used to be the beginning of a relationship, it’s now the finale.” Though comical, both speakers made compelling points that our society is becoming overwhelmed by choice and, as a result, is choosing to live a lukewarm love-life. We have so much access to another person’s personal life that, by the time of a first date, you probably already know where that person grew up, who their friends are, and what they value. The spontaneity and romance is dying as people become more fixated and critical about the details.

As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of all joy. We can go on our social media feeds, compare one couple’s highlights to our mundane and become completely jaded towards our partners for not living up to our high expectations. We are slowly sabotaging our relationships by remaining fixated on the world around us. We are forgetting to water the plants in our own garden, which leaves us feeling desolate. Technology is only going to keep advancing and I’m not claiming that we should all go live under a rock, but rather, we should take a step back every now and then to appreciate what’s in front of us.

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

 

 

 

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.

Siri, You Are My Best Friend…. “That’s nice.”

https://www.typeform.com/blog/human-experience/siri-is-dying-long-live-susan-bennett/

      If you’re wondering what you’re looking at, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Siri… or rather, the voice behind Siri, Susan Bennett. She is a voice-over artist, who can now talk to herself (as long as she has an iPhone).

Many people are under the impression that Steve Jobs is a technological genius and invented Siri from his imagination, when, Siri is actually an old concept. In my digital studies class, we discussed ELIZA, a response system created to help solve all your problems (in moderation). Even the article, “Building the Star Trek Computer”, discusses CALO, yet another technological program made to help make your life easier created long before Siri.

People rely so heavily on technology that they lose sight of the world around them and yet, this technology was created by another person, just like you or me.

If the internet were to shut down today, most of the world would go mad, and I say “most” because the internet doesn’t touch remote areas. We view technology as an all-knowing god and yet, there are people out there that have probably never even seen a camera before, let alone a phone and they’re doing just fine.

People don’t know everything and yet, they are able to program these machines that are believed to. It’s understandable why much of the older generation holds angst towards millennials creating things to replace people. Have we really become so bad at listening to others, that we’ve invented machines that’ll do it for us?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of Siri jokes, but maybe if more people got together without their phones, we could have more Thomas Edisons or Albert Einsteins in the world.

Just some food for thought,

Stir Fry

 

 

Posted from Stir Fry Education by Nicky E.