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i wouldn't classify myself as the type of person who seeks out newsmedia. i don't watch the evening local or national news, i don't take a newspaper, i don't purposely turn on npr for news. i only catch bits of news as i go through my day - on cnn when i flip channels, on a car radio, or on the frontpage of a newspaper when i'm going for a crossword. i have at times in my life given more of my mind's attention to the news but i find i need to take long breaks, "data-fasts" as david shenk calls them in data smog: surviving the information glut, in order to free myself from the imposed burden of the world's problems that i can't fix.

because i sometimes avoid the news, i'm disturbed by the fact that i haven't escaped a recent story pumping through the media system. karla faye tucker. i've seen her photo in newspapers, i've heard her voice on the radio, i've watched her moving, living image on tv. i've seen the story of her troubled life crammed into a two minute expose. i've heard a diverse array of people debating the issue, trying to persuade whoever will listen. but what troubles me the most is that our media would plaster this persons being over the world knowing that in one more issue she will be dead. broadcasting every moment of her dying process. i flip on public radio on my way to school and what do i hear - an hour by hour countdown of where she'll be and what she'll be doing leading up to her execution.

i know that executions are usually covered, but because she is a woman and a born again repenter she is being presented as a more sympathetic voice, not the normal male mass murderer. information can be presented and interpreted to suit anyone's point. this is an opportunity not only to try and save her life but to demonstrate that the death penalty is no longer a viable alternative for our culture. these reasons aside, i as an incidental consumer of newsmedia feel that too much is being asked of me, i have enough pain and worry in my life to expand my empathy to a stranger that the media has identified as worthy of my attention. this information adds stress to my life, i think it's going too far. shenk identifies this phenomenon as the "two-by-four effect", using violence and shock to motivate people to listen (shenk, pg102-108). but with this story i feel that this person is reaching out, not to sell me a product or get me to elect them for office but to keep them alive. i don't believe that as a culture we have become desensitized to violence - i think if we saw it happening to our friend in the next seat we would become outraged. what we have become desensitized to is the portrayal of violence in the media - the mass amounts of it and the similar packaging render us numb.


information is only as valuable as it is useful.

i find it fascinating that not only does information overload render us numb but it affects our ability to remember and to create memories. shenk tells the story about the complete video footage of his friends wedding versus the 12 minutes of choppy film of his own wedding. recording less allows the viewer more freedom to remember the event according to their own memory - it requires their memory to work a little, using cues from the sparse information presented, to recall feelings and thoughts instead of that which can be shown in a blanket style videotape. "...the medium that captures almost everything conveys almost nothing." " dulls our senses and renders our memories useless. it overloads us." (shenk, pg 194). related to this is the concept of cue creation - if we are always in the same place when we receive information - in front of the computer or tv - we have less specific cues to identify what we remember where and when. (shenk, pg 48). in terms of art education this concern with memory is good place to start. the challenge for art students is to communicate with images (sound, text...) but specifically to do so in a way that focuses attention on what is being said. "as we severely limit content, we learn to savor it more." (shenk, pg194) less is more. my computer graphics students are in this process now as they are taking their 60 minutes of videotape filmed around school and editing it down into a 3 minute music video.


thoughts on the invasiveness of digital technology in our lives today...

my grandfather was from the era where young people were educated by learning the classics by heart that were most meaningful lessons rather than surface learning and exposure to the whole world. in fact his education opened up the world of understanding to him instead of the confusion and frustration of today.

in terms of planned obsolescence materialism we no longer choose from two quality items but have fewer choices in the dozens of low quality options. "the glut of information no longer adds to our quality of life, but instead beings to cultivate stress, confusion, and even ignorance." "more vulnerable as consumers..." (shenk, pg 81)

i find troubling the moving image of elvis used to advertise pizza hut, of gene kelly for coke, of fred astaire for vacuums -- with the use computer technology to blend their moving image with a product in such a way that was never intended by the original artists and has no intrinsic relation between subject matter. it is merely a "neat trick" with computers. it begins to reduce our collective respect for (great) artwork that has come before when it is used with this intensity for something as meaningless as product advertising. perhaps if they were advertising their ability to clean and restore the collection of damaged films in hollywood with the use computer technology i wouldn't be offended.

"technology reduces the amount of time it takes to do any one task, but also leads to the expansion of tasks that people are expected to do." (shenk, pg 56). "data smog gets in the way" (shenk, pg 31). "the blank space & silent moments" cell phones everywhere. (shenk, pg 109). being in europe 1995 heatwave, dozens die - shenk, pg 46 - analogy to shopping at resale clothing stores - reoccurring dream unsatisfied really satisfied in my dream. there is no finite amount of stuff - nothing's organized - have to be skilled and selective. shenk, pg 47 - collecting music is overwhelming b/c there is so much. collecting stuff 40's hats, jewelry (pick 1, shenk, pg 113) dick vivian's records. shenk, pg 42 - respond with dreams = people who want/dream of getting away - my first response a year ago when i was all technology and computer at home too was that i was in a sunny grassy filed lying down grass above my head toes warmed by the earth, free SIMPLIFY

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