Category Archives: Culture

Digital Eyestrain.

So much happened this past week in the tech world. Most of it revolves around Google+, but I’m obviously not breaking news on that one. That is perfectly fine by me too. This project is exciting and I cannot wait to see where it goes. I truly belive Google got it right this time.

As exciting as it already is, I’m going to restrain myself a bit here and save a post on Google+ for another time. Simply because it’s still to early to really evaluate it– not to mention I don’t have an account either. Unlike Mark Zuckerberg.

For now, though, I came across this article on Lifehacker, which got me thinking.

Too often, we forget that we spend the majority of our days looking at screens. Especially if we’re technology fanatics. Computer screens, cell phone screens, television screens, and so forth. For the extreme, just add iPad/iPod screens, as well as GPS screens. Forgive me if I forgot anything. My excuse is that it’s nearly midnight as I’m typing now.

As much as we may want to, we don’t always have the option of receiving information or doing various activities these days without staring at a screen of some sort. It’s one of the biggest Catch-22s of the 21st Century. Progress for progress’ sake, it seems, comes at a heavy cost. In this case, it’s our eyesight at stake– one of our most valuable, natural senses we are born with.

I’m curious about this now simply because I wonder if in future generations, will makind evolve as it has done in the past? Will newborns in future centuries be born with better capabilities of dealing with digital screens? Will they need to?

Maybe. You never know. If so, it’d be another implication that technology is winning over our selves, our cultures and our world.

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Pottermore: A New Era of Literature

Harry Potter was the original online fandom. You can thank it for midnight releases and the terms “fanboy” and “fangirl” and most importantly, “shipping.”

All of which are now vital to all fandoms in any industry. Books, movies, television and so forth. If you don’t believe me, go onto Tumblr and search for the amount of blogs dedicated to shippers of Lea Michele and Dianna Agron’s characters on ‘Glee.’ You will be stunned by how much Gleeks want this pair, known by “Achele” or “Faberry,” to get together.

Back to Harry, though.

Yesterday, author JK Rowling released a huge announcement regarding the Harry Potter series on YouTube. What she revealed was Pottermore: a new, inventive, up and coming project where you can read her international bestsellers online. Here’s the video. I highly recommend you watch it:

So aside from the leaked material about Pottermore and other mishaps that occurred with yesterday’s announcement, what exactly does this mean?

Pottermore is what I like to think of as a new era of literature. A pave way for digital media and fiction to come together in the best way possible. And it’s only fitting that this fandom (the original one I’d like to emphasize again!) is the first to pioneer this new direction.

As Rowling describes, PotterMore is “an online reading experience unlike any other…the same story, with a few crucial additions, the most important one, is you…Pottermore will be the place where fans of any age can participate in, and rediscover the stories.”

The rediscovering part is where Rowling plays a major role. It is reported that she has nearly 18,000 words and other, new material that all Harry Potter fans can find on Pottermore.

So it’s part book, part new material, part encyclopedia, part interaction. Almost like a real-time video game– for book nerds like me. As a fanatic of the series, this is very, very exciting. I’ll spare you my gushing, however, and leave it at that.

This revelation also proves that once again, digital media is winning. It’s persuading all forms of traditional media to embrace all that is possible on the Internet. And since so much of the Potter series’ success is due to its online fandom, it’s pretty darn cool that this project is coming to life. For those that participated in it when Rowling was still writing, and for those who will fall in love with Harry’s story in years to come.

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Filed under Culture, Digital Media, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Literature, PotterMore, Technology

A Late Follow Up on Apple’s WWDC.

Since my hiatus, there’s been a lot happening in the tech world, meaning, Apple did something noteworthy. This something was the World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) a few weeks ago where the world was introduced to the iCloud, iOS 5, Lion and so forth.

I’m obviously late on this one, but it’s a topic I love too much not to cover.

For me, it’s amusing that the revelation of these new services and software can, literally, cause shifts on the interwebs. The blogosphere explodes and everyone’s expressions while catching up on the news typically consists of dropped jaws and eyes on fire with excitement.

Steve Jobs at Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference

Or maybe that’s just me. I dunno. I don’t even own a Macbook, iPhone or iPad.

The point is, well, Apple always receives this kind of reaction from consumers, bloggers and critics.  Its up and coming products cause pandemonium in ways that no other services or providers do, which I’ve discussed before.

The difference this time, which has inspired me to write this is that the services revealed at WWDC aren’t new, handheld toys for Apple fanboys/girls. They’re software, which will make Apple’s toys better, but like I said, they’re software. 15 years ago, the only people who would rejoice over new software would have been a handful of employees working for Linux.

In short, we have come a long, long way.

At the same time though, I’m convinced from these revelations that 21st century media consumers are more excited about the anticipation of things to come rather than the things themselves. Are Apple consumers really going to rave about the iOS 5 software 2, 3 or 6 months from now? I doubt it. Also, we didn’t have midnight releases for summer blockbusters in the 90’s.

In essence, there will always be something else to blow up Twitter about.

Maybe I’m wrong, but sometimes this is undoubtedly true– the part about our tendency to overhype new things. Just recall the time when everyone thought that Windows Vista was going to be awesome. Or when everyone thought Stephenie Meyer was a great writer.

Yeah, I try not to either.

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Filed under Apple, Culture, iCloud, iOS 5, Lion, Technology

Reset.

Hello there! I’m back, and I’m back with a vengeance!

If you scroll down, you’ll see that my last post was a month ago. In person, I would respond to that by saying WOOF enthusiastically. Especially considering my promise to myself that I would contine to blog after finishing classes this past semester. But as is expected, life and its distractions got in the way.

I finished my final semester at Fordham, had an  incredible Senior Week with my closest friends and graduated on May 21st. It was a beautiful day, ceremony, and time for me, my family, and fellow graduates. Here are some of my highlights from Fordham’s Commencement:

Then, between moving out of my apartment, organizing and traveling to Florida for my brother’s graduation, I still couldn’t get back to techculturenow. The upside of that was I got to spend a lot of time at Disney World. Here’s my favorite shot from my vacation:

^Growing up, I was obsessed with Huey, Dewey, and Louie (especially Dewey!) and Ducktales in general. So, naturally, finding these guys in Animal Kingdom was kinda a big deal.

___

 Since I’ve started techculturenow, I’ve refrained (for the most part) from turning my posts into recaps from my personal life. But I couldn’t resist today. I’ve experienced too much euphoria and accomplishment these past few weeks not to share a little.

It all leads up to my next chapter: life beyond Fordham.

And though I haven’t found what exactly I want to do tomorrow, 6 months from now or even 5 years down the line, one thing steady is my passion for technology and to think about it in relation to our culture. By reading my other posts, you can see how I feel this is overlooked too often. My purpose now is to continue this exploration but to go even further. This blog will no longer be an obligation of mine in order to pass a Writing For Online Media class, but an obligation of mine to put myself out there and let it take me somewhere new.

So please, if you will, give me a shot. I hope we all learn a thing or two along the way.

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Royal Frenzy.

Whether you want to admit to admit or not, you  heard about  the Royal Wedding this past weekend.

Or you might have watched the entire ceremony in the middle of the night. No judgement here. I didn’t  stay up to see Kate Middleton’s dress, but I totally watched all of the recap stuff I could find the next morning.

Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after the Royal Wedding

How lovely.

Really though, I was also curious about how much attention this wedding received. Whether to poke fun at the whole thing or to gush over Prince William, everyone was talking about it. 

Hence, the media had a field day over it (for weeks). Entertainment stations on television held marathon-like coverages throughout the day, nit picking every detail. All in all, it was difficult on Friday not to hear anything about it.

More than anything, though, the ability to watch the ceremony live on YouTube made me stop and think for a moment. I didn’t do this, but YouTube expected 2 billion other individuals to. So they advertised it, knowing they’d receive a large audience. Clever.

I found this to be really telling, in regards to the world’s ability to connect, across nations and seas as a result of modern technology.

Days before, I noted a few tweets that accentuated just how obsessed the world was with this ceremony, and how the world was going to accomodate everyone who wanted to see it. Not to mention the hilarious things everyone was commenting about William and Kate (everyone was very proud to be British and it was no coincidence that Kate married William in an Alexader McQueen gown).

And then I saw this report from Mashable. It offers some staggerting statistics in regards to the mentions around the world the wedding received on different social media:

^Keep in mind these stats were only from 6am. When only the diehard Will and Kate shippers in America were awake. Crazy.

Without a doubt, our culture never fails to highlight our obsessions and reactions to the world and everything that happens on it. But I think the best part is that because of digital and social media, we have the ability to look back and reflect on our sociey’s trends and habits when big events occur. It’s history in the making.

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A New Take on Classical Music

I really don’t need to explain why the democratic nature of YouTube has been so beneficial to our culture. It simply is for reasons that go on and on.

I just want to share another example of it.

Cello and beatboxing. At first thought, it’s absurd. But after seeing this, I now want to start a band with this talented musician.

Enjoy.

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A Continuation on Catfish

A few weeks ago, a fellow classmate wrote a review of Catfish on her blog–thank you for pointing out this film! Check out this post if you haven’t already.

Not only was Catfish great, but it really hits home for my own blog topic: the Internet and relationships. So I couldn’t resist.

While watching, I think what unsettled me the most was how real the film was. At first glance, that statement probably makes little sense but there’s not much else to say.

A young adult getting emotionally attached to strangers (who are lying and don’t exist) a few states away through the Internet, text messages and phone conversations.

In all honesty, tricking a 24-year old, tech savvy, good guy was simple. He was completely blinded. This, I think, is what’s most surprising. It took him 8 or 9 months before he started to question anything.

So I can only imagine how long it would’ve taken someone who was not savvy enough to dig a little deeper to discover the truth. Creepy.

This film really makes you think about how easy it could happen– how anyone can piece together photos, links, and messages to create any identity they want. Then it’s more eerie to give thought on how easy it is to fool others into thinking you’re someone you’re not and to use that to your advantage. That doesn’t make me feel too good.

Every day, most of us are connecting with dozens of peers in real life and in virtual reality– sometimes simultaneously and often with the same people in both environments. But after seeing this film I now wonder if we’re not being cautious enough, even though we always claim we’re safe and smart with how we deal with our online relationships. We have no problem placing privacy settings on our profiles and only uploading a minumum amount of content and information about ourselves onto the web that we’re comfortable with. Isn’t this supposed to be enough?

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