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The media, meejah and messages

I've never been able to find where I read this quote, but it was a discussion about how knowledge of Photoshop techniques is going to be crucial to assessing news and entertainment in the coming years and it went something like "if only visual grammar was taught in schools the way the grammar of language is." We learn how words can be manipulated and how they manipulate us; emotive phrases, telling similes and weasel-worded retraction. But when we see a photo or a video clip, we still assume it's 'true' - even with all the photo-manipulation in the newspapers these days, with all the CGI in films. I was checking out the MIT OpenCourseWare site (excellent article on it in Wired) and I found Media, Education and the Marketplace which talks about "a fundamentally different attitude towards media. Media is, for them, not something to be consumed, but also to be created". Learning to create teaches you the tricks other people use when they're creating and the effect they have on you. I think of it like doing a scholarly criticism of a book; you read for enjoyment, then you read with an awareness for the techniques and when a book is really good you go back and read again with a synthesis of the two, enjoying the effect and admiring the technique and getting more out of both of them. And what do we want to create? We all like telling our own stories; the professor of the course, Shigeru Miyagawa thinks it's about what he calls personal media. "In personal media, you don't just accept and consume someone else's media, as is the case with mass media. You appropriate bits and pieces of media produced by others, and by you, and you make it into your own." Which is very LiveJournal - look at all those userpics!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
17th Sep, 2003 14:37 (UTC)
Very inciteful post. I agree fully.

It's amusing how we're coming full circle as a species and moving away from verbal communication, isn't it?
17th Sep, 2003 14:46 (UTC)
I think words are still key - they say less so they're far better for saying the precise thing. Or maybe that's just English - narrow definitions rather than the Aramaic meaning clusters
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I think words are still key - they say less so they're far better for saying the precise thing. Or maybe that's just English - narrow definitions rather than the Aramaic meaning clusters <lj-user="liralen> mentioned
17th Sep, 2003 15:14 (UTC)
It may be because I've long had an interest in the field, but I can't see a film without going 'ah ha, CGI on top of a moving matte' etc. Equally, I notice every edit - if it stops being a single shot, I know they've had as much time as they like to move location or whatever, even if it appears seemless - and lots of 'well, it'll do' work.

It has to be a very, very engrossing film to switch these off. It's why I enjoy the theatre and opera more - it's live.

And it's one of the reasons I really appreciate Jackie Chan at his peak, because not only can I see that some of it was done 'for real', he goes out of his way to demonstrate that.
18th Sep, 2003 01:11 (UTC)
Oooh - thanks for posting about that!
That MIT course is right up my alley, study-wise. Though from the summary of the course I suspect I'll find it over-optimistic. We are all creating as well as consuming online but we are a pretty biased sample of the population!

18th Sep, 2003 06:49 (UTC)
Re: Oooh - thanks for posting about that!
I think the interesting thing is how widespread this ever become - the course does seem to cover the digital divide issues but more as access than the approaches of different groups.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


full steam ahead
Mary Branscombe
Simon & Mary

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