Author Archives: yangj0705

Art and Technology

Wow was it a journey to research for this final paper! I have noticed that during my blog posts throughout the semester, I have gravitated more towards the art and design aspect of how technology and social media play a role in how people connect. The more I wrote my thoughts on this, the more natural it just felt to focus on this topic for my final paper. Despite the fact that I couldn’t relate very much to the technical communication side of the course materials, I found that it really did shed a light on the art and design side of how digital technology works with the design field. I wanted to gain more insight into this very topic that was only brushed on very briefly through the materials we have previously learned.

Before starting my research, I had a little bit of prior knowledge of how technology and art had been linked in the past from previous courses here at Stout. That had helped me with the course of my research as I was able to expand my current understanding of how integral they truly were together. Learning about how digital technology and art/design were linked and the cultural and societal aspect of it really helped my understanding of how much a role social media platforms and social communities have impacted and influenced our current design culture today. As I began to write and put my thoughts down on paper, I soon found that all of my research was starting to naturally connect to each other, flowing from one idea to another. Being able to see how all of these aspects of digital communication link up together helped me make sense of my own research. I was quite happy with all of the knowledge that I was able to accumulate through this final paper and I look forward to applying them to my future endeavors.

Social Media and the Work Process

Stacey Pigg’s article, Social Media’s Role in Distributed Work, spoke predominantly within the context of a technical communicator, in which I do not have much foresight nor knowledge in. However, while reading through her study of writers at a coffee house, particularly Dave, I noticed some parallels between the process in which Dave uses in his line of work and my own experience within the art and design field. I found some striking similarities in the way Dave moved across several open tabs in quick and rapid succession as he worked on his writing and my own process as I bounce back and forth through dozens of open tabs and programs as I am working on my own designs. In my case it can get extremely unorganized and pretty chaotic as I swipe back and forth between tabs and programs. Maybe this is the drawback on working on such a small screen, or maybe I am just naturally chaotic in my workflow by nature.

The reason for the dozens of open tabs and programs that I would have is generally due to the process of my own design thinking. While the research phase of the design process is generally done before any designing even begins, I often hop back and forth between research and designing even after the heavy research phase. I find that additional research and inspiration even during the designing phase helps give insight towards what it is that I want to create or maybe steer me towards a different direction that I never even thought of. Depending on the nature of the design, I can often find myself using several different adobe programs as different tasks require one or more different uses of these programs. I often get lost in the sea of things I have on my screen just to design a simple book, bouncing back and forth between Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and the dozens of tabs I have open on Google Chrome.

https://thedesignsquiggle.com/

My own uses of social media during this process can be either helpful or a crutch. In many cases, social media can serve as a distraction, keeping me from making effective progress. I find myself lost in the sea of information that may not necessarily relate to my current task at hand. However, social media can sometimes end up being of great use as in Dave’s case in the article. He seems as if he uses social media to inform him of his own writing process and guide him. It was interesting to read about another person’s own work process that uses social media in a positive way in their own work. This led me to really think about times when social media has actually been used to guide the course of my design process.

Thinking back on it now, I can remember times that social media was used to further my own understanding of design. Hopping back and forth between Facebook and my work does help a little bit with my own sanity as that little breathing room sometimes keeps me feeling refreshed (as long as I do not let it distract me). I also use Facebook to further my own research as I look up information a company or a person that I am using as inspiration. I often use Pinterest as a way to inspire new ideas and get my brain to keep on actively thinking about different design solutions. Hopping back and forth between Pinterest and Instagram can often lead me to new ideas or help me get out of designers block which happens quite a bit, and if there is something that I am unsure of how to create, YouTube is often the answer to that as there are hundreds of tutorial videos as well as a whole slew of information and inspiration just waiting to be discovered.

Stacy Pigg’s article helped me see social media in a new light when it comes to the work process. Instead of thinking of it as a setback, maybe looking at it in more of a positive light may be more beneficial to me. Of course I still need to tread carefully as it is so easy to get lost in that sea of information, but when using it as a tool, rather than a distraction, I can see how much more I can benefit from it in my own design process.

Digital Community

When I am working on an assignment, or I am at work, the constant need to want to check my social media is always clawing in the back of my mind. No matter how focused I am in whatever I am doing, just having a computer in front of me with access to all my friends and family, to the world, and to what is happening every day, is such a huge temptation that has been echoed in Spilka’s book, Digital Literacy. We live in a culture that is now shaped by technology. We control it, and in some ways, it controls us. It is very appropriate that Spilka spoke about culture and community and how it relates to technology as culture and community is the very core of what defines us as a species. No matter what part of the world we may be from, we all have our own sets of values, traditions, and unique way of doing things. We have our own community to call our own. But with the digital age, community has slowly began crossing geographical barriers and into new territory.

There was a time when it seemed like computers and the internet were just on the rise, it hasn’t yet become this huge dominating force within our lives. I vividly remember American culture being a bit different. At the time, it seemed like discussions at school were about what we saw on T.V. or what fun stuff we did outside at the park or the Boys and Girls Club. It felt so different and almost dreamlike in comparison to the lives of my nieces and nephews today who have the whole world at their fingertips.

Culture is the way people relate to each other and how their values, beliefs, and assumptions are created through the people and objects in their lives (Spilka, 2010). In this particular context, the culture at the time hasn’t yet been tied to closely to technology in the same way it is today. As technology got sleeker, smaller, easier to use and easier to access, our culture began to take a shift. The rise of social media and smartphones has created a culture where being connected is not only the norm, but a must. This has led to hundreds of different kinds of communities forming online where people can find their own place. This is evident on social platforms such as Facebook where you can join your own groups or communities. I myself am part of several communities ranging from social justice groups, to comic book communities, to art and creative groups for people of Asian heritage.

It has become so ingrained into us with these kinds of easily accessible communities, that it is second nature. I can be working on a very important assignment into the late hours of the night and not even realize it when I have a new tab on my computer open to Facebook with a cute cat video playing. It does feel almost as if this need to check social media plays into more than just an addiction to technology, but possibly the psychological need for connection with other people who share your same values and beliefs. Just like in Anderson’s The Long Tail, people with niche interests are all separated across the country with geographical barriers, the internet offers people who long and crave for a community to suddenly be connected through a thin screen.

Technology and Graphic Design

While reading Rachel Spilka’s Digital Literacy For Technical Communication, I couldn’t help but make parallels between the evolution of technology and graphic design. While chapter one focused primarily on the relationship between type and evolving technology, this also indirectly relates to graphic design as well. Typography and graphic design go hand in hand, so I was extremely intrigued by this portion of the reading. I imagine, production tasks as far as type is involved must have been an extremely daunting and time-consuming task. Even just from what little I have learned about the technology that was created for the printing press in other courses such as History of Design, it sounded extremely difficult and convoluted to operate by today’s standards. As technology evolved, so did typography.

Before reading this chapter, I was unaware of just how difficult it was to type on a computer. I cannot even comprehend how people would be able to type without having a proper display screen for which you would be able to see every choice that you make. This also made me think more into other areas of graphic design before computers. I am so used to designing everything through my MacBook. With easy access to all of my adobe programs as well as all my files put into one easy to locate spot, designing has also been easy for me. I often forget that graphic design has been around a lot longer than the existence of computers. How were people able to create intricate posters? Maybe some form of printing press? This idea fascinates me. For this reason, the statement, “technology for preparing illustrations and graphics was not in commercial use; it was still being developed in research laboratories” brought me back to reality as I had to re-evaluate everything that I know about design of the modern age.

As computers finally reached a point where they were able to allow people to think about text, graphics and layout, it must have caused a huge cultural shift in how designers work, and design has changed and evolved over the decades. The Apple Macintosh seemed like it was the desktop best suited for design as its graphical user interface was preferred for the intent of publishing (Spilka, 2010). As an undergrad, I had always wondered why students were given different laptops. Most art and design students had MacBook’s while everyone else had an HP. It had never occurred to me that the user interface differences between the two had different advantages for different jobs that you would like to accomplish. As computers become more advanced, graphic design will continue to change and evolve. This means that the way designers think, and the way designers operate will be drastically different within the next few decades compared to today.

Graphic Design - Tech-Set Ltd - Designers and Typesetters

Rapid Growth in the Digital Age

Technology has had a huge jump in advancements within the last century and it seems as though new technological achievements will only increase within the coming years (Chayko, n.d.). Though it may seem like a long time ago when television wasn’t even in existence, in the grand scheme of human evolution, the leaps and bounds we have taken in digital innovation has been astounding. When I was in middle school taking my first technology class, I had a teacher tell me something that really changed the way I viewed how rapidly our world is changing. He told me that the computer that was in our extremely outdated cell phones, was more powerful than the computers that were able to put a man on the moon.

Since then, the jump in technological achievements our society has had has been astounding to think about. Within the last decade or so, the phones that we have access to now is so far more advanced than that clunky outdated cell phone that I used to carry around, that it really puts into perspective the rapid rate at which our society is evolving. According to Chayko, the rate at which computer hardware has improved is doubling every eighteen to twenty-four months. With this in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that within the last decade, I have more computing power in my smart phone (which is still a few years behind the current smartphones) than when I had my small cell phone. New features have been added since then, new advancements to improve the user experience and visual look. I wouldn’t have even imagined that I would be able to watch movies, listen to music, play games, or research all in one device when I was younger.

This all feels like a reaction to the way society has all been connecting with each other through digital means. As people all over the digital world crave for ways to be entertained and easier ways to stay connected, technology must improve at an even faster rate to keep up with the demand. Technology industries are always feeling the pressure of having to one up each other as the internet has made it much easier to spread information. Word of mouth is an effective way to get new consumers to a product. With the connectiveness of the digital age, this method has become even more important in the race to create better user-friendly technology.

This competition has led to some groundbreaking works all over the technological world. My favorite examples of this has always been in the entertainment industry. New technologies are always being developed to allow to create crazier films and video games. The rivalry between Xbox and Playstation has led to huge leaps in video game graphics within the last few years. I remembered a time when Batman Arkham Asylum blew my mind in terms of its graphics. Compare that to Batman Arkham Knight and you can see a huge spike in graphic quality and the intricate details that went into making the game. During my youth, Spider-Man really changed how I saw movies. Even then though, I never would have imagined that we would get anything as crazy as Avengers Infinity War or Avengers Endgame. The leaps in 3D animation has also jumped significantly if you were to compare Toy Story with Toy Story 4. As the digital world increasingly demands the latest in technology, I can’t even imagine what the future may look like as computing power increases at the rate it currently is.

Chayko, M. (n.d.). Superconnected. Retrieved from https://platform.virdocs.com/r/s/0/doc/423917/sp/17980033/mi/59926957?cfi=%2F4%2F2%5Bs9781506394879.i1470%5D%2F8%5Bs9781506394879.i1478%5D%2F4%2C%2F1%3A0%2C%2F1%3A0

Memes and Online Attention

Over the last few years, we have seen a rise in the sharing of memes. The idea of an easy to digest image and a sentence to express a certain idea or joke has overtaken social media and has become the predecessor of the once popular vine videos. It seems like memes make up a good chunk of what you will be scrolling through on your Facebook, at least, in my case. Scrolling through my Facebook feed, I will find videos, pictures, ads, and memes. Very rarely do I see people posting up personal posts about their interests anymore but rather, it has shifted to posting memes that reflect their humor or ideals. This shift could possibly be due to how quick and easy it is to like a post and then press a share button. I am no stranger to this as well.

The content of memes could be anything. It doesn’t even have to be limited to a picture, but could be a video, or a gif. Memes are not meant to be visually appealing design wise, which could be the reason behind the actual appeal to them. They are easily accessible and quite easy to make. All it takes is a simple editing tool, and an idea. Memes have a DIY visual style that is in a way, very inviting to others that want to partake in it.

As sharing and creating memes has become more prevalent over the last couple of years, it has become customary and almost in a way, respectful to like or react to the post of whoever had shared it before you (Chayko, n.d.). Online attention has led to a high status on social media. The more likes you have, the more popular you are. It is something that is not just unique to Facebook either. Other social media sites such as Instagram and YouTube thrive off of likes and sharing. It is how Youtubers gain their fame and fortune. It is on Instagram users can promote their art or brand.

You didn't like my Facebook post NO FRIENDS FOR YOU! - soup nazi | Meme  Generator

In the digital world of meme sharing, it is considered proper etiquette to give attention to others in the form of liking and following, in exchange for their attention (Chayko, n.d.). When you share something from someone but don’t like their post, you may get the occasional, “Like my post before sharing” comment. This is something I have seen myself when I forget to like the original meme that my friend has shared before sharing it myself. As long as I like and share a meme or post from my friends, I will often find that they will do the same for me, adding to this cycle of giving and receiving in the world of digital attention. Many people crave attention in one way or another. With the rise of social media and meme sharing, that attention has evolved into a give and receive type of relationship.

giphy.gif (500×500) | Como eu me sinto

Chayko, M. (n.d.). Superconnected. Retrieved from https://platform.virdocs.com/r/s/0/doc/423917/sp/17980022/mi/59926916?cfi=%2F4%2F2%5Bs9781506394879.i696%5D%2F12%5Bs9781506394879.i740%5D%2C%2F4%2F1%3A0%2C%2F6

Life Without Internet

“It is assumed that the whole world is wired, living in a state of electronic connectivity, and that’s just not the case. There are places in the world, such as much of southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, in which internet access, computers, and even electricity are seriously scarce” (Chayko, n.d.). These two sentences at the beginning of Chayko’s book, Superconnected, was something that had completely slipped my mind until I read them. The way that people in our society has stayed connected over the last couple of years has dramatically evolved, in both good ways and bad ways. The way people communicate has changed as digital communication became more and more diverse has had an impact on our society. This has just become a matter of fact that I had forgotten that there is still places all over the globe that does not have access to the internet nor are they connected by this planetary wide imaginary web of communication. About 52 percent according to Chayko, live without internet connection as well as people within our own country. This is mostly due to social or cultural differences.

I have spent the last few years living on a college campus or near one where internet access is a must in order to complete assignments. It also becomes a must in staying connected with friends from all over the state. The internet let me stay in contact with my niece and nephews that lives two hours away, or with my high school friends who I love as though they are my own brothers. Of course, there was also a point in time where my new friends and I would be messaging each other through Facebook while we are literally in the same room of our college dorms. It was definitely an interesting time of my life adjusting to having all of this freedom at my disposal.

Whenever I take a trip back to visit my family and friends, I am often reminded of what my life was like before I had the internet. My mother lives a poor life, barely able to pay for bills, which means having things like the internet is not a necessity. I always found it difficult readjusting back to that life of not having the internet when I am visiting home. Chayko’s sentence has made me think about the rest of the world and how their life is like as well. Does it impact other people who do not have the internet? Does it even matter at all for societies that never had it in the first place? These days it is a necessity for me to have internet connection in order to work on assignments as well as in the wake of the Corona Virus, keep me connected to my courses from a safe distance. It has made a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend much easier when I can video chat with her whenever I would like with the touch of a button. But for societies that never had internet in the first place, that never needed it and are able to function perfectly as well as our own society, how do they stay connected?

My mother used to tell me stories of her time living in the mountains of Laos. There, people were only connected with the people within their direct vicinity. If you wanted to visit a family member in a completely different village, you would have to walk for hours, maybe even days. She would tell me how dangerous it was, having to watch out for predators, or evil spirits as she would say, that would come to take away their souls. But from the sound of it, she, and many of the elders that fled the war-torn mountains, were completely content with that isolation. Staying connected with people in other villages wasn’t as important as being connected with the people in your village, as being connected with nature, or as living a minimalist lifestyle. I would use to ask if she preferred a society where she had internet and all of these technologies, or would she prefer living in the mountains. She would always say the mountains.

Chayko, M. (n.d.). Superconnected. Retrieved from https://platform.virdocs.com/r/s/0/doc/423917/sp/17980017/mi/59926898?cfi=%2F4%2F2%5Bs9781506394879.i225%5D%2F8%5Bs9781506394879.i233%5D%2F4%2C%2F3%3A161%2C%2F3%3A446

Theft Through Sharing

Before the rise of Web 2.0, artists were limited in the way they can distribute their content to the world. Anderson briefly talked about the limitation of physical distribution of content to consumers in The Long Tail (Anderson, 2004). This also extends to artists, whether that be in music, visual arts, or writing. It was hard to gain recognition for your own skills when you are limited by your geography and lack of networking which has become such an important thing these days as new freshman’s will learn going to a university. Since the dawn of Web 2.0, sharing your work has become easier than ever with the rise of websites such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. This however, leads to a new problem on the opposite end of the spectrum. Where Anderson states that digital means have made it easier to consume niche content, Perkel has noticed that it has been easier for people to steal others work (Perkel, 2016).

Perkel’s study into the art community of DeviantArt users was no less than an interesting task. The community was full of up and coming artists who post up their own work, who would then network and make friends with new artists as they discuss about their art. It was a great community where artists were able to connect with each other and be inspired, gain feedback, and learn new things, all in the comfort of their own homes. But as soon as DeviantArt implemented a share tool, things like theft started to become a common place. This has led to what has been called the “share wars” in which case, many users find their work being used without consent in other places (Perkel, 2016). Users would find their own work being used on other websites, in products being sold to consumers, or by small businesses. This was not just unique to DeviantArt though, this was a problem in many other social media sites.

Being an aspiring Illustrator and Graphic Designer, I have been following many artists on the web for years. Anything from visual art like illustration to filmmaking, to music and poetry were always something that I am searching for on any websites. It comes as no surprise as it is commonplace for me to find many of these works by the artists that I follow being shared or distributed without proper credit. I have also seen people claiming they have made these works themselves. Luckily, these artists have enough followers that will notify them when they do spot a potential theft of their work.

One of the channels that I follow on YouTube and I actively watching is Corridor Crew. They make a lot of great content as artists as well as give great insight into the world of digital effects.

Earlier this year, they posted a video concerning a theft of one of their own videos that they have made. It was a reminder that even big and popular artists still have to deal with theft as well. This issue has been a constant storm brewing in the back of my mind and has made me a bit more conscious about posting my own work online. Despite all of this madness, the share wars have birthed new conversations regarding the idea of sharing artwork, both good and bad. Sharing art, when given proper credit, can lead to artists gaining new followers as their own work become viral. The best example of this is the SpongeBob Squarepants anime parody that was created by Narmak. Narmak’s video went viral, being shared all across social media gaining Narmak, new followers. At the end of the day, sharing can be a double-edged sword that artists must risk when sharing their own work online.

Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail.

Perkel, D. (2016, May 28). View of Share wars: Sharing, theft, and the everyday production of Web 2.0 on DeviantArt: First Monday. Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/6795/5526

Foreign Content Through A Connected Digital Age

It is such an interesting thing to think about how we as consumers have been given access to a wide array of different items over the years as our society has slowly become more digital. With new services such as Netflix and Spotify that can give consumers more than what is generally shown to us, people have been exposed to more content from other countries and cultures.

Growing up in America, walking the thin line between two cultures, I have always been very interested in a wide array of things from superhero movies and rock music to foreign flicks and music from other countries. I have noticed that a lot of the things that I loved growing up were strictly of two different worlds. But in this day and age, this isn’t really the case anymore. Online services have now opened up a new world for people who have been craving for more from their content. Consumers are now not limited to whatever is stocked on the shelves of a store, but now have a virtually unlimited amount of content at their disposal (Anderson, 2004). This kind of power has been able to meld my two worlds together as I now have access to all my favorite superhero content as well as my favorite foreign films in one streaming service. People are now starting to discover new content through online selections as anime starts to gain popularity as well as foreign music.

Anderson made an interesting example within The Long Tail that seemed almost like he was describing me. Wal-Mart tends to be the store that people think has everything, but as Anderson mentioned, is actually very limited in its selection. I love rock music and searching through the CD aisle of Wal-Mart for anything that isn’t pop music can be an extreme pain. Now try searching for foreign rock music. That is nearly next to impossible. This is where online services fill that void. Recently, I have started to listen to music from J-rock groups such as One Ok Rock, Babymetal, as well as Mongolian folk Metal in the form of The Hu.

(Valcourt, 2016)

All of these groups, I discovered through YouTube, a service that has blended everything that I love from all over the world into one nice place. I ended up ordering albums from these groups online as well as other albums from my favorite rock groups of the 2000s. I am no longer limited to hoping luck is on my side when I stroll through Wal-Mart. I am no longer limited to listening to whatever the radio has to offer. I now have power over my own content, and through the way our consumer society has evolved, I am now connected to other people like me.

Before, I was a loner in the content that I liked. I was limited by my geography and the people around me. “One Ok what?”, people would say when asking about some of my favorite bands. But now with the way everybody is connected, I have a chance where I can discuss and talk about my shared interests with other people like me. And to my surprise, there are quite a bunch of American fans across the country that feel the same way.

Anderson, C. (2004). The Long Tail.

Valcourt, K. (2016, July 5). [One Ok Rock members]. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/5/one-ok-rock-open-5-seconds-summer-sounds-live-feel/

I Don’t Understand Blogs

I don’t understand blogging. No really, I don’t. I have heard the term thrown around for quite some time, but I never understood what it truly was. Could it have been some form of journal or online diary? Or maybe it was a form of news outlet? Could it possibly have just been something that people use to ramble on about different ideas and values? After taking a look at, Why We Blog, an article that discusses the importance and variety of blogging, I have come to realize that it is all of the above.

Taking a look through the article, I was able to understand just how varied blogs can be. Everything from commentary on science to even “Blog-as-personal-revelation” (Nardi, Schiano, Gumbrecht, & Swartz, 2004). It became quite easy to see why blogging has gotten so popular as of recently. This form of social communication has virtually limitless possibilities. Taking a quick scroll through blogs that have been done in the past has made me realize just how varied the format can come in. Pictures and videos can be added to enhance the reading experience as well as seeing more attention to the design of blogs as well. Carefully constructed blogs that look very reminiscent of a professional website can often give it a much more credible visual appeal.

Spending the majority of my time as a graphic design student during my undergrad, this aspect of blogging has really shattered my original bias of what a blog can visually look like. More than anything, this has made me extremely excited for the future of blogging as it relates to design. What else could maybe enhance the blogging experience or those who read them? Could potential UX Design be used to create interactivity with blogs just as videos and photos? I have always been intrigued by the idea of how design and text work together. When designers take text and morph it into something else, we can get some really fantastic works of design. This is why publication design has always piqued my interest as designers are always finding new kinds of formats and layouts to experiment with text. But why just limit this to publication or even just website design? Blogs, with its’ emphasis on its written ideas and values can also be morphed into something that can be worthy of the best that design has to offer.

My experience with blogs has been very limited. Growing up in a household without access to the internet has left me quite a bit behind the rest of the world. I didn’t have access to the world until I moved to my college life at the University of Wisconsin – Stout. Even then, blogging was one of those terms I barely understood. The only form of online communication I used was Facebook and the mess of a comments section that would be Youtube. I still fell behind everyone else as new social medias were gaining popularity such as Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. I am now wondering, where on Earth have I been these last couple of years. I am very excited to see where I can go in terms of blogging. I have so much different ideas that I would love to put out to the world especially in terms of storytelling. Learning the ins and outs of blogging can potentially help me get these ideas out there.

Nardi, B. A., Schiano, D. J., Gumbrecht, M., & Swartz, L. (2004). Why We Blog. Communications of the ACM, 47(12), 41-46.