As we stumble along…

As I contemplate what to write for my last blog for English 475, also known as “Writing for New Media,” I am at a loss for words. So far, I have written about re-makes and re-dos, which is the message that I’ve received this semester from the texts we’ve read.

First we read Left to Right by David Crow, a British author (I do love British authors), and he described the cultural shift from text to image (left brain thinking to right brain thinking). It was great to have both offbeat and mainstream examples with explanations accompanying his theories. I am truly convinced this is the case, and I do not see there being a cultural shift from image to text. If Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Brave New World, or any other generic science-fiction dystopian novel has taught us anything, it is that knowledge is power.

I am in no way implying we are unconsciously entering a totalitarian regime (I wouldn’t know, would I?), but with these technological advances comes accessibility to knowledge and, therefore, more opportunities to control the influx and output of “knowledge.” This is one of many thoughts that occurred to me while reading this first Crow book, but many of his examples utilized the image to communicate an additional or enhanced message. (For example, see my first post about book covers through the decades.)

The introduction of fonts was a major theme in Left to Right. Fonts were illustrated and more animated than your basic “Courier” and this affects the tone of the product (i.e. whatever that text is representing). The font of my blog, for example, affects the overall tone of this post and the webpage. If it were in a more masculine font, it might appear the author has internal conflicts regarding the balance between fun and business and it overflows into my virtual life in such a way I subconsciously let it seep into my blog. The bottom line is we live in an image-based culture and that is the way it has always been (in my opinion). The only difference is we learned how to embrace it – and by “embrace” I mean manipulate.

The next book we read was Visible Signs, also by my British man Crow. The content of this book was little heavier in that it introduced theories instead of focusing on one general theme (i.e. cultural shifts). One thing I really enjoyed about the Crow books is that he really invests in the visuals. This man has mastered his style. He practices what he preaches. He enables me to use clichés in reference to his writing.

He doesn’t just write about these visuals, but the layout of the book mirrors what he says. According to my senior seminar professor (and he is a VERY smart man), a master of writing can make his/her form subtly reflect the content. Writing is an art, meaning it is an acquired skill, meaning it takes time, effort and dedication to learning the rules and manipulating them to your advantage.

We also read Remediation by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, which was easily the most boring books of the semester. I am not sure if this is because it was read immediately following the intellectually and visually stimulating Crow duo or because it was written academically for use as a textbook or the content was uninspiring in general, but something about this book was not working for me.

After I got over my initial dislike and managed to keep my eyelids peeled open, I found the theories introduced informative. It definitely gave me a different lens when viewing any of the ways media surrounds us in life. The book is centralized around a theme of virtual reality, which can be as fantastical or technological as you want.

(Dull cover to match the style)

I prefer the practical application of the term rather than the versions presented in numerous films. Bolter and Grusin really work to illustrate (with black and white pictures – Crow would be ashamed) how films, television and art work to blur the line between reality and non-reality, life and imaginary portrayal. Producers do this via content, writing, shooting, location and every other detail. Their goal is to sell their product and they do this by making the product as relatable as possible.

Finally, we rounded out the semester with Visual Storytelling by Ronald J. Osgood and M. Joseph Hinshaw, a textbook about how to produce a film (which was our final project). It emphasized the importance of how to capture on film (a term I use loosely) what was needed to communicate the story on screen. The authors stressed the need for the story to be communicated. It is meaningless to have great shots and lighting if they do not move the story along.

All in all, it has been a fun semester. Twelve posts later and I’m still learning. I have had the opportunity to work with Photoshop, MovieMaker and Premiere… And I have come to the realization that technology is not my strong suit. However, I do feel much more experienced in these programs – a quality necessary to work as a journalist, which is more than my other courses have provided me. It’s been fun, but I am ready for this semester to be over and start celebrating Christmas the way it deserves to be celebrated.

(Not trying to be depressing, but definitely worth remembering as we overindulge in the luxuries this season brings.)


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