Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

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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!

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