Additional Dissonance is Required

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So I want to write about this thing, but I’m not sure what to write about. I’m sorry I’ll try to be more vague. The thing in the thing is…

Oh hell, GOOGLE SEARCH.

Okay.. An hour later and that was completely pointless.

Though it made me realize something about writing. My writing specifically.

I have tailored so many terms to fit inside a search engine’s parameters. I hope I don’t have to type like a twelve-year old on his fifth Mountain Dew every time I want to look up something. I make sentences that sound like they came from something that was attempting to match human language, but just couldn’t quite get there. Have I changed my writing style to match technology?

I’m sure if aliens only had access to our search engine terms and algorithms, they may think we were all insane, or we would once they tried to communicate by saying “How to use English with aliens and UFOs?”

I had a lot of trouble thinking about a topic that would be both interesting and easily researched. I mean, I can ask how technology has affected the way I and those of my generation have composed or written just by asking how they type terms into a search bar. Maybe I can even ask them what search engine they used most frequently to sound even more accurate and pretentious.

Who the fuck uses ask.com anyway? And what the hell is an ab-redcircle-ut.com anyway?

I’m not sure anything I have ever typed into a search engine bar would make any real sense if I said it out loud in the real world. So I’m going to make up an hypothetical:

Intrepid student, Max Brewer, walks into a Gamestop

MB: Playstation vita memory card 8 gig low price?

Gamestop Employee: What?

MB: Playstation vita memory card 8 gb low price?

GSE: My name isn’t Google.

MB: Play station Vita memory card 8 gb low price?

GSE: Just grab something from the second shelf and leave me in peace!

See it really happened! The bold is good, right?

See it really happened! The bold is good, right?

I suppose one question I could ask is that has technology really changed the way I process and formulate questions? Machines are inherently not human, so I should not be confused or dazzled if I cannot ask a set of algorithms designed to search out my terms in the quickest and most accurate fashion possible how to bake a cake just right like a human being.

Though is it an entirely bad thing that we’re forced to adapt our language to that of a search engine’s? I would like to say no, because for one, I don’t like to think anything is just completely awful. Another reasons is that our language could simply be evolving and that technology now is just helping us along. Though I am reticent to consider typing terms into a search engine to be anything but a chore in word choice I would never use in any other occasion.

I haven’t even discussed the answer people usually receive from search engines yet, but if you were one of the five people in the world to not use a search engine and not be confused by the results, here is a video:

Never mind the fact that it is prompting you to use Bing. But are search engine results also affecting how we phrase questions or phrases within a search engine bar?

I can Amazon, Walmart, and Ebay myself now? What am I waiting for?!

I can Amazon, Walmart, and Ebay myself now? What am I waiting for?!

I’m driving five thousand miles per hour past a neighborhood devoted to garage sales. Big signs and vague descriptions on big signs as I speed right past them, looking for just the right result and price for my troubles.

It would be fascinating to see if search engines have in fact, affected how we process language. Does typing in the most “important” search terms lead to a more concise and straightforward language? Or is it just a further bastardization of language that has been propagated by technology and the need to absorb information in a faster digestible way?

I have no idea if the above is actually easily researched or not, but it is an interesting thought. Especially for someone who does not know how to input it into Googlese. Though I suppose that is why academic databases exist.

Anyway the summation of my reaction to my brilliant idea was thus:

I really need a galactic explosion when I think of something mind blowing.

Though I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Thoughts?

To Write

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The Origin Story

It doesn’t begin with the stroke of a pen. It doesn’t being with clicks of the keyboard. It doesn’t even begin with my introductory 1st grade assignment.

It begins with Seuss. It begins with Goodbye Moon. It begins with Curious George. It begins with a mother and father who cared. It begins with the grandfather I never really knew.

“Dad knew if you were reading a book, he’d read it too, just so he’d have something to talk to you about.” My mother talking about her father. My grandfather.

“He told me he read every book in the Ely library.”

So it began with the inquisitive nature of my grandfather, George Miyama. A man I did not really know, but who I know loved everything about the written word and his grandson.

The ever contemplative George Miyama.

The ever contemplative George Miyama.

You can have a little coffee and read with me, can't you, Max?

You can have a little coffee and read with me, can’t you, Max?

He fostered my mother’s love of reading who in turn made sure to read to me every night when I was a small child. He is the first reason I have a writing history. He is my writing genesis because he passed down his fascination with stories and written words all the way to me.

First Experiences

“My name is Max Brewer. PORTFOLIO.” Inside the red construction paper folder is more information. Portfolio is circled in black ink. “I am 6 years old. My favorite food is pizza. My favorite color is red.” The red construction paper makes sense.

Red construction paper portfolio was first time I can remember that I tried to fill in the details of my life into a readable format. I was forced to come up with parts of my life and put them to paper, which is what every piece of writing is really. I was used to deconstructing sentences on a board, but here was where I could make something, even if it was just my life in words on construction paper.

High school introduced a newer element to my writing.

Essays.

I had to create a new voice to suit the academic attitude required of me. This was the hardest thing I had to do in writing by far.

Too much voice.

Too casual.

Not professional.

We’re not here to read jokes.

And where is the formal tone?

That’s just heartbreaking in the most literal definition of a figurative phrase.

I was a big fan of Toonami, so that means I saw Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, Outlaw Star, and many other shows. This lead to a realization. I like this, so why don’t I write this?

It has been a long time, Tom.

I did. It’s my first remembered attempt at creative writing. It was awful according to my perception and that of every comment left on one of my stories. It hurt. I didn’t seriously attempt creative writing again until I was in college.

I took English 205 at CSN. It was Intro to Creative Writing. My first “complete” story was “Johnny.” It was about a sarcasm fueled teenager who moved away from his father, and he wrote a blog about it. Only slightly meta now.

And so I go on now. Writing academically and creatively, but not on red construction paper anymore.

Technology

I can ignore my handwriting. That is the single greatest contribution technology has made for my writing history. My history involves illegible scrawls, but to everyone now it’s just a font the screen.

Jeez who scratched that on a notecard?

 

The last time I wrote with a pen for something other than signature was for a made up limerick in a story I created a week ago. Does that say a lot?

Let me list the tools I used then as a small child.

  • Pencil
  • Paper

    The OG writing tablet.

Now let me list the tools I used in the last week.

  • Pencil
  • Pen
  • Paper
  • i-pad
  • Galaxy S3
  • Playstation Vita
  • Laptop
  • Personal Computer

    Right at 4:44

That’s more opportunity to write. When there are so many chances to write and publish my thoughts, how can I not take advantage?

The advent of writing technology has become apart of my history. Everything I have written for school or for myself has been created using an electronic device, with the pen and pencil playing bit parts in my overall writing saga.

My history is not over yet. With the publicity of writing on the Internet, whether it be WordPress or Twitter, I have an opportunity unlike many before my time.

My history is visible, it is for everyone to see.

Technology is visibility and legible. The world sees my writing history and I see its, and it is far from over.

Process is Mine

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Reddit Thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/HighQualityGifs/comments/1pw0kr/bruce_nolan_furiously_typing_on_his_keyboard/

How did Jim Carrey find out about my writing process? Hat tip to pandawhale.com for finding the Reddit Thread.

I’m sitting down in a chair facing my computer right now typing this sentence with ten other tabs on in the background. I am trying desperately to come up with a topic or line of reasoning for this third response blog. I see that spring training games start next Wednesday and Watchdogs was fucking delayed until June. Pandora is playing everything related to Hans Zimmer. My fingers wonder why I am torturing them by typing aimlessly. But I have something to tell you, fingers.

It’s not pointless.

I have a process I try to adhere to. Note the keyword try. 

Oh shut up, Yoda.

I’m sorry, I’ve always wanted to type that in an assignment.

I suppose you could say it is a part of my writing process. In fact, that is exactly what it is, big stars for you.

STARS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR THE LOW LOW PRICE OF $9.99

Okay. Not big stars, but you’ve earned them. Hat tip to breakdownsports. No I’m not being sponsored by anyone to write these posts.

My fingers fear that they’ll be pounded into dust long before I come up with any solid line of reasoning for this post. It’s actually a part of my pre-writing process. The weird sort of pre-writing that involves writing. So strange. 

It’s strange because out of all the methods I’ve used over my academic writing career, this is what I have stuck with. Process in writing is different with each writer. What makes me tick and put finger to key does not do the same for everyone else. My process clearly is not the only “right” method because no process is.

That's right. I take my writing ques from an animated alcoholic dog.

That’s right. I take my writing ques from an animated alcoholic dog.

So if there is no right process, how can it be taught?

One must write.

It is that simple, but it is also not easy.

Process is hard to teach, even though it is so important according to Donald M. Murray’s “Teach Writing as a Process not Product”:

What is the process we should teach?… How do you motivate your student to pass through this process, perhaps even pass through it again and again on the same piece of writing? (Murray 4, 5)

Good process requires good motivation and instruction. Process is something we as writers control as it is inherent to ourselves. The example I started with in the beginning of the post may be like so many other processes, but it is not necessarily the same.

The reason process seems so hard to teach is because, well, it must be because we as students and teachers are only allowed to see the end product of someone’s creation with rare exceptions. We know Shakespeare produced great works that forever shaped the English language, but no one really knows how he went about it. No one really knows what his process was.

Sure we were told as students that there are usually three stages in writing: pre-writing, writing writing, and rewriting. Part of the pre-writing, according to Murray is:

the writer focuses on that subject, spots an audience, chooses a form which may carry his subject to his audience. (Murray 4)

Murray leaves out something important about pre-writing, which I feel is the most important as well. Gathering motivation. His pre-writing guideline may have been implicit in that respect, but I feel it’s something worth addressing since that is where the primary problem lies. It’s by far the hardest to address out of all the concerns about teaching writing process too. Because according to Murray, it’s hard for teachers to do a few specific things:

Shutting up. When you are talking he isn’t writing. And you don’t learn a process by talking about it, but by doing it. (Murray 5)

This requires an act of trust on the teacher’s part and the realization that writing is primarily an internal introspective process. Only the writer can decide when and what to write, the teacher must simply learn to stay out of the way after showing the process of writing. Too much emphasis is placed upon writing to what the teacher wants to see, rather than allowing the student to simply follow the process that best suits them.

ENGAGE!

We should all have our life lessons taught by Patrick Stewart.

By adhering to the process, a specific process, over time, then a student can truly find out how he or she writes. Steps of good process can be taught by teachers, but process solely lays in the hands of the writers. A teacher should allow the students to find their own truths and methods to writing, otherwise they’re not really writing.

Now if you excuse me, I have more keys to hit and tabs to open.

Question to ponder:

What is the most important step in your writing process?

 

Writing is Technology

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Hat Tip to the blog

According to Civilization V, writing is an early research project, thus an early in-game technology, which means it’s a relatively early human invention.

The first caveman etches a symbol for food, sex, and what I am sure is something poignant involving a scratching doing something to another scratching with a sharp scratching.

The point?

A presumably sharp rock or stick was used to-

Oh, the point. I think you could have been more specific if you wanted to know.

Well, I’m sure it was used to etch out something significant. Perhaps to write a message to future cavemen that would have otherwise not have been able to see his amazing creations. Like a deviantart page for cavemen. Pr1m4t1v3 Slatedude needs the world to see his etchings!

Hat tip to Mocrystals for the pic.

One of the earliest cave drawing found in Africa. Another indication that a dead caveman from thousands of years ago is way better at drawing then I am. Also, a lot of points in this pic.

Got to admit, a caveman’s drawings have reached the Internet, even though it took thousands of years. Cavemen like to invest long term.

That was a nice little distraction from the main issue, but what was the purpose of this diatribe?

PSYCH! The exclamation of surprise, not the show. Goddammit. Did it again.

This is the point. Sorry, the point.

According to Janet Emig’s article “Writing as a Mode of Learning,”

writing makes a unique demand in that the writer must engage in ‘deliberate semantics’ in Vygotsky’s elegant phrase, ‘deliberate structuring of the web of meaning.’ Such structuring is required because, for Vygotsky, writing centrally represents an expansion of inner speech. (Emig 12)

Essentially, what is being said is that in writing, one must be more deliberate and thoughtful when crafting a sentence, or otherwise, we may end up in “point” semantics, because it can be so easy to misinterpret even with the proper context. It can be easy to misinterpret because writing is not like normal speech. It is a projection of an inner speech that is processed by the brain and put to paper. Or in this case to screen.

We see the consequences of such misinterpretations in such a technology driven world as ours. Okay, I admit, who the hell has not said this in their time when technology was the greatest peak, bear with me here.

Isn’t context so difficult to interpret on Twitter? Especially for newer users? Let’s look at this one for example.

Now you probably want to say its a creation of pure sarcasm, but can you be sure with just 140 characters? You could look at more writings in the responses to truly understand the context, but even that could be a little whacky. So you might look into a user you already follow and know. How about looking at this retweet edit of the tweet above:

Besides the edits for space, you probably know that the original tweet was made in jest, and was probably made to parody the ignorance of those in power who would ignore ability simply because of sexuality. That was all thanks to my interpretation of the tweet. You’re welcome by the way. I take mentions and retweets. Money would be nice too.

Proper contextualization of tweets is reliant on the interpretations of the users that use Twitter, which is as inextricably entangled with writing. It is as inseparable as writing and technology.

Hilarious Imgur gallery hat tip

Man have we come a long way from deviantart cave drawings and writings. Obviously the standard speed of anyone born in the late 80’s, or the 90’s

Emig states:

2. Writing then is an artificial process; talking is not.

3. Writing then is a technological device–not the wheel, but early enough to qualify as primary technology; talking is organic, natural, earlier…

8. Writing usually results in a visible graphic product; talking usually does not. (Emig 9)

Writing itself, is not given enough credit for being an actual technology, because that is what it is and it is something that has been carried on since, well, humanity learned how to use a pointy rock on cave walls. We only associate the implementation of showing writing as technology, but not the writing itself. The Internet is a great playground for showing various writings to the world, Twitter is great for text messaging on the Internet, but the craft of writing is usually overlooked.

Writing is a craft that requires meticulous arranging to ensure the proper message is sent. It needs particular attention to meanings and context, because it is a technological device that has to be maintained to be used correctly. It is as much craft as it is a tool. A point that must be sharpened if you will.

If modern video games like Civilization V know that much and tell its users that much, then how can it be anything but a major technological advance mankind has used for centuries?

A Question to Ponder:

Do you assume an inherently different context on Twitter than on any other kind of social media service?

Do you know anyone else who ends a fucking blog post on two questions…

The Difference Between Writing and Writing

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Oh shit.

Yeah… About that last post. It turns out I based my last post on the wrong readings. So uhh… oops. If that was not clear enough, I will include the following image to help explain my inexplicable and silly circumstance:

Bad Luck Max

Thanks, Bad Luck Brian. You’re always there when I need you at the worst possible times. With that out of the way, how about something about something relating to reading and/or writing?

In fact, hold up a sec. Let us take a look at this meme. Aside from the poor fellow, who I presume was named Brian, who has now become an Internet punchline, what else do memes represent?

It is definitely a product of the Internet era, so there is that, but there is something else about it. Here, go ahead and create one yourself. Pick any meme and any subject you want. Don’t let me dictate the meme you want. I will even create another one.

Blog Meme

An Internet meme is something you wanted to write. You were not required by some academic authority to do so, although I would be flattered if you considered me one.

Katheen Blake Yancey makes a good point when she says:

Such writing is what Deborah Brandt has called self-sponsored writing: a writing that belongs to the writer, not to an institution, with the result that people– students, senior citizens, employees, volunteers, family members, sensible and non-sensible people alike– want to compose and do– on the page and on the network– to each other. (Yancey 4)

The Internet meme is one of the strongest examples of writing for the self. It is simply meant to convey an idea that is palatable to the self and anyone alike. Yancey generally included 21st century technology as a reason for expanding the writer, but she did not really give enough credit to the Internet meme. It combines the best parts of online communication. Memes usually refer to a pop culture phrase and/or image and distill the basic components into a picture that relates to an event in real life. Or denizens of the Interwebs love finding odd and funny pictures and give them a cultural life by incorporating a witty repeatable phrase.

We live in an era where anyone of us can express our thoughts to millions of other people. Now more than ever, people write for satisfaction rather than for some academic or professional curriculum. With U.S literacy rates at nearly 100% and more mediums to transmit those thoughts, such as WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook Myspace, is it any wonder why people would prefer to be their own publishers of thought?

An embarrassing high school photo becomes synonymous with bad luck, Boromir is remembered for something besides being shot by more arrows than Legolas can count, and Keanu Reeves will always remain Ted.

Writing Keanu

The current paradigm is so free because writing and learning how to write in schools was so restrictive in comparison. As Yancey put it:

Writing has historically and inextricably been linked to testing… writing-as-testing that continues to haunt us today (Yancey 2)

Writing was boring. Writing was for test taking purposes. No wonder it was so associated with classroom tedium. Perhaps most importantly is that it seems like no one was taught to write for themselves. Writing is labor, there is no doubt about that, but writing is an expression of self. This was the most overlooked aspect of school curriculum. Writing meant preparing specific answers to exams ad nauseam. Creativity and self expression were not taught or valued.

Powerful writing does not come from verbatim answers on an exam or in some kind of preparatory test. It comes from expressing the self and the world around you. No one cares how well Stephen King did on his SATs, but we do care if IT scares the fucking shit out of us or wonder what experience he had with dogs to write Cujo.

Yes, a lot of our personal stuff will be on the Internet because sometimes, we are stupid enough to do that, but this is the best time to be a writer. We want to share our thoughts, stories, and observations to everyone willing to click on our username or just stop for a sec to glance at an irrelevant tweet.

Writers are everywhere, yes, but so too are audiences (Yancey 5)

Take advantage of that and revel in the fun and excitement of creating a random Internet meme of that guy you heard that line from somewhere or just a cute bear with a funny expression on its face. The writers are there. The audiences are there. We should be too.

Question to ponder: 

Is Conspiracy Keanu right? Has there always been the same amount of writing, but given the visibility of the Internet and Social Networking Sites, we can just see more of it?