My discipline, Screen Cultures, explores the nature of modern life and how technology defines our experiences in a time when digital media is prominent in the way we live our lives. Above all else though, Screen Cultures is about the study of the cultural aspect of our journey from paper to screen technology, and how that journey shapes how we see and understand our world. Screen Cultures is concerned with the devices we use to entertain, to educate and inform ourselves and, essentially, in 2015 the Internet is at the hub of everything media. Screen Cultures in many ways is about what Jenkins has called ‘convergent cultures’ and ‘participatory cultures’.
My final study begins with and draws on Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows (2010) in which he provides a commentary about our immersion into screen based hypertexts and the comparisons this has with paper based reading, and how both shape our mind and view of the world. Carr argues that with the shift from paper to screen there has been a significant change in the way we think, remember and experience cognitive processes.
This therefore is right at the forefront of my field and is concerned with the very nature of my degree.
To expand on Carr’s work I have looked at Vannevar Bush’s paper As We May Think (1945) in which he proposes ‘The Memex’, an early vision of the modern day world wide web, and Ted Nelson’s thinking about hypertext. I will also be taking into account the work of Mark Prensky and Susan Greenfield. They both contribute to the current debate about the way our brain processes cognitive activity and behaviour that are shaped by dealing with information online. Espen J Aarseth’s Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997) will be of great importance to my project as it provides a framework for discussing the user experience of hypertexts, especially the ‘ergodicity’ of the web in relation to its effect on our concentration, comprehension, absorption and recall rates.
Two further figures I shall bring in to my work are Marshall McLuhan and Douglas Coupland, especially their books, The Medium is the Massage (1967) and Age of Earthquakes (2015). While McLuhan may provide useful ideas in discussing the ‘screen cultures’ turn, it is the layout and design of the text that is important here. Unlike the previous figures whose work is central to the content of my project, these two texts are more influential from a design and visual communication perspective.
The ‘probing’ and playful layout of these texts present ideas through experimental use of both text and image – creating ‘effects’ that contribute much to the overall message. This is similar to one of the artefacts I shall be creating, not in book form but as a deck of cards where I will put forth my arguments in a provocative, obtrusive and satirical manner.
The currency and relevance of my practice is demonstrated through addressing a contemporary debate, looking at very authoritative figures in my field such as Carr, Greenfield, Prensky and Coupland whose work is no more than 5 years old. Bush, Nelson, McLuhan and Aarseth allow me to embed my work in a richly supported context from media theorists whose work is extremely predominant in my field, adding historical depth and bringing together diverse ideas. My work offers something that steps beyond those sources and offers something different in the sense that I will pull their ideas together to look at the Internet as a learning tool, drawing on the work of Neil Selwyn, a very highly regarded figure in this field, he is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Monash University and a researcher in the field of education and technology.
I will be taking into account aspects of participatory culture, the physicality of media, cybertext study, convergence culture, content reliability and the development of skills needed to capitalise on the nets potential. Whilst this may seem quite widespread, they are all aspects which influence using the Internet as a tool for learning and it is difficult to separate out one part from another.
My development during this module has evolved in two ways; further growth of current skills and a strong development in consolidating newly acquired skills.
The first part of the brief allowed me to explore new ground in terms of design choices and visual communication. I was able to define my work based on its purpose, audience and distribution and from these factors I made design decisions based on research, justification and knowledge of my product as opposed to just ‘what I thought would be good’. I placed particular emphasis on comprehension and readability through using both the Fog index and measurements of reading speed and aspects of visual design, such as the use of typeface and font size, and on consistency of screen design to avoid noise and unwanted distraction to again improve the comprehension rate. My visual design was also influenced by considering my audiences understanding of semiotics to ensure the user experience was smooth and transparent with a minimal sense of aporia.
In the second part of the brief I was able to progress my existing research skills and planning abilities in order to ‘break the ground’ for my major study next semester. This is/will be the biggest project I have worked on and so my ability to assess certain aspects such as feasibility, relevance and currency were essential in analysing the worthiness of my idea. Similarly to the first part, I identified my target audience and thought through how I could distribute my work across different mediums that would appeal to a larger audience given that the topic is very universal. I have also improved my skills in the critical reception of existing material, and in developing my own ideas. This builds on previous experience and skills in making decisions based on research and supported by judgement – which I feel is the most valuable skill gained and developed on this module.
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Aarseth, E. (1997) Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Bush, V. (1945) As We may Think [online] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/1/ [Accessed on 22/04/15]
Carr, N. (2010) The Shallows. London: Atlantic Books.
Greenfield, S. (2014) Mind Change: How digiutal technologies are leaving their mark on our brains. United Kingdom: Rider.
Greenfield, S. (2014) Technology & the human mind August 2014. Available at: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Technology-the-human-mind-|-Sus [Accessed on 22/04/15]
McLuhan, M., Fiore, Q. (1967) Medium is the Massage. Gingo Press Inc: USA. [online] Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwyDePyHbx1RMzdjMGUxZjctZTI2MC00NTNiLTg1YWYtY2U2YzNjZjBkODJl/view?pli=1 [Accessed on 22/04/15]
McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media. United Kingdom: Routledge.
Nelson, T. Project Xanadu. [online] Available at: http://www.xanadu.com/ [Accessed on 22/04/15]
Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [online] Emerald Insight 9(5) September. pp. 1-6. Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/10748120110424816 [Accessed on 22/04/15]
Selwyn, N. (n.d) ’19 Key Essays on How Internet is Changing our Lives’ Open Mind. [online] pp. 191 – 215. Available at: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BBVA-OpenMind-book-Change-19-key-essays-on-how-internet-is-changing-our-lives-Technology-Internet-Innovation.pdf [Accessed on 22/04/15]