Cultural Artifact Analysis Rough Draft

The Cyber-Cultural American Revolution

          Gazing upon the slick, darkly chromatic laptop I hold before me atop my jumbled and chaotic mess of a desk, I’m forced to ponder what our access to its utility has done to our society over the last decade and beyond. The personal computer is above all things a tool of immense and endless utility. The reason for this utility, however, goes hand in hand with its expressive capabilities. The personalized computer today has allowed any novice individual with the appropriate dosage of ambition of and eagerness towards learning to run a quick search on either how to guides or perhaps even videos so that they may begin their first steps in ascension toward the levels of proficiency they see our hardware and software artisans such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs achieve today. This may not always be the optimal or easiest route by any means, but when one has exhausted every last physical outlet the internet is always available to anyone with an internet connection and a functioning computer. With this technology, we’ve been blessed with gorgeously ambiguous and infinite resources. Even if you’re unable to find a guide for something you’ve set out to accomplish, there is a very realistic possibility that there is a community of like-minded individuals that have set out to accomplish whatever it is you desire. The true beauty of the pc is that it has inspired the technology to unite these people under a common banner, whatever shape that may take. It would be more than fair to regard this as a golden age of global communication and collaboration amongst people of all locations in the world. Similar to mathematics and many of the sciences, both computer software and hardware are fields that build upon themselves. This realm of technology will only continue to expand as time progresses.

It is quite common to have naysayers when a topic regarding almost any form of change is discussed. Unfortunately, the personal computer is far from an exception to this particular corollary. The spectrum of fans and critics on the subject of the personalized computer ranges broadly from the vehemently opposed to the exuberantly supportive. While there are those who believe the personalized computer has opened up the gates of globalization transitively through the development of the internet among many other things, the critics would argue it has had negative effects against our society. More specifically, those in support would justify their allegiance toward technological progress via not only the countless occupations promising gargantuan paychecks that have saturated our modern job market, but also the contributions the pc has made towards modern art and entertainment. In modern day America and many other developed nations, any aspiring contributor may begin the process of promoting themselves to the entire human race through a plethora of venues, such as Youtube or  various web advertisements. Hardly uncommon is the charity participant who hosts a live stream of his or her activities, be they gaming or otherwise, for the purpose of raising money for those in need or perhaps for non-profit organizations.  Skeptics of the personal computer, on the other hand, would argue that technological innovation has taken its toll upon the millennial generation. Some may argue that our society has become less personal and social, clinging to their possessions rather than spending time with those around them. Perhaps one of the most common arguments is that texting- which was most certainly inspired by the pc- has done detrimental damage to our social culture. While this technology probably is not going to render traditional communication irrelevant, it most certainly has and will continue to change how we communicate.

For many people, especially those who did not grow up around such an atmosphere of  technological change- this can understandably be very frightening. While change is often intimidating, however, it is not always a bad thing. The barrier of distance between humans, for example, is already partially overcome in many instances. Today if you have a loved one, friend, or acquaintance, odds are you probably have the ability to contact them the very minute they enter your mind. Chances are, in fact, that you could probably engage in a face to face conversation with the second person to enter your mind in that same minute with minimal hassle.  Again, the applications of this technology extend far beyond the boundaries of social networking. Businesses as well as musicians often use similar technology to hold conference meetings or a window into live concerts as they happen for those unable to make the trip to wherever a concert may be held. This has extended to the field of education as well. In Charles Molesworth’s scientific article titled “Thinking About Computer Culture” published in 1998, he comments on society’s fear of the computer and its impact on American lives during that time. Interestingly, however, he personifies his excitement for the computer’s influence on education when he speculates “No one knows what electronic “textbooks” will look like; we can hope that great inventions yet impend.” While primitive forms of this were implemented as early as the 1970s through Project Gutenburg according to an article posted by The Guardian, the eBook has most certainly gained firm traction in today’s society. For example, my own highschool had set forth a plan to give the incoming freshman each their own individual iPads for academic use by the time I was on my way out from graduation. If you walk into a Barnes and Noble today, you’ll find they have their own marketing campaign directed toward their own particular brand of an electronic textbook reader.  What we’re finding at this point is that our science fiction decades ago is briskly evolving into non-fiction today.

The advancement of the realm of computer innovation in terms of both hardware and software alike, its room for growth is fascinatingly synonymous with the worlds of the hard and soft sciences as well as the literary universe in the sense that all of these have a massive population of interested individuals eager to learn of and improve upon these things. All of these fields build upon themselves- that is, the more you know, the more you are able to learn and improve. In the early days of computer science, our ancestors arduously toiled in order to produce enormous machines possessing a power back then rendered infinitely irrelevant by what modern calculators today are capable of. In that day, programmers of the time had used a code consisting purely of ones and zeroes known as binary in order to accomplish what we would view today as minimal. Just as our concepts of math and literary technique have developed over history, however, so too has our programming prowess. Today we have “functions”, or premade shortcuts to command a computer to perform in one string of words what in previous eras of programming would have taken years or perhaps a lifetime in some cases. The personal computer already has and is continuing to bring about a revolution of sorts. Just as the hard and soft sciences continue to persevere over millennia among the literary disciplines, the computer culture will continue to stampede forth at an unrelenting velocity. Just as music, science and literature continue to reshape and exponentially improve the existence of the human race over time, so too shall computer technology maintain equal stride.

Artifact Analysis 20 questions

Hopefully I’m on target with these for the most part, but I was instructed today to post 20 questions about the laptop (or more broadly the personal computer) as a cultural artifact, and then answer 5 of them. Here is my list

Q.When was the first personal computer built?

Q.What’s the price range of most personal computers?

Q.What percentage of Americans own a personal computer?

Q.What has the personal computer done for social networking?

Q.What has the personal computer done for business industries?

Q.What do people typically use personal computers for?

Q.What can you do with a personal computer that you can’t do with a public computer?

Q. Is it difficult to manufacture a computer?

Q. What everyday technologies we see today were inspired by the personal computer?

Q. What would life look like today without the personal computer?

Q. How do different personal computers vary from one to the next?

Q. How has the personal computer influenced commerce?

Q. How has the pc influenced the music industry?

Q. How has the pc influenced the gaming industry?

Q. How has the pc influenced television networks?

Q. How has the advertisement industry coexisted with the pc?

A. There have been blessings and curses in the advertisement industry following the advent of the internet and the personal computer. On one hand, you have advertising industries symbiotically gaining exposure from people who generate their own music or videos and need someone to host their videos or websites, as well as those users sometimes generating an actual income from getting enough views on said advertisements. On the other hand, There is software out there that allows people to completely block 95% of advertisements you’d find on the web. In that regard, there tends to be a bit of a wound in the advertising industry.

Q. What kind of work has been created thanks to the pc?

A. Countless fields in customer service and technical support have opened up for starters. Not only that, but the pc has created entire fields of academic study! Computer science, certain focuses of hardware engineering, etc.  You would have a hard time finding a business or field discipline that wouldn’t find programming useful in one way or another, as a matter of fact. Whether someone needs a training program or a spreadsheet that keeps track of sales following a specific formula, there is always a demand for computer savvy individuals.

 

Q. Are we more social with those in close proximity to us following the invention of the pc?

A. There’s not really an objective answer for that, but I would say it simply depends on the person. If someone

is prone to being outgoing in real world social situations, the pc probably just makes it easier for him or her

to keep in touch with their friends. 

 

Q. How has the pc influenced education?

A. First off, we see and use computers very consistently in today’s academic environment.

Also, there is a modest number of online courses offered by certain colleges and highschools.

 

Q. Why is there a demand for the pc today?

 A. You would have a hard time finding someone without a personal computer of some sort today. Some need a PC for school, others for gaming or listening to music. Even still, a myriad of individuals use the PC for social networking as well as conducting business.

 

A Rhetorical Analysis of “C.S. Lewis: Why He Matters Today”

If anyone would like to see the documentary, here is the link: http://vimeo.com/16791969

The participants in this documentary provide their commentary on how they believed C.S. Lewis to be revolutionary to the field of Christian Theology, as well as how his relevance has persisted decades after his death.  Throughout the film, they try to instill a sense of ethos towards C.S. Lewis as an authoritative figure as well as Christianity as a religion through a description of how he was initially what might best be described as agnostic, and then eventually deciding to convert to Christianity after weighing the scales of all his options. The film also opens with a heavily ethos centric theme. Coupled with sad piano music, the narrator gives an explanation of how certain people began to view Christianity as a purely emotional pursuit not coinciding with logic during the advent of science and technology amidst the industrial revolution and following thereafter. Lewis, he argues, was one of the very influential figures that reintroduced Christianity as a religion of logic and critical thinking.

Though this term isn’t used in the film, C.S. Lewis was considered a “Christian Apologetic”: an individual seeking to align his or her faith with logic and reasoning, that is. Apparently, Lewis was a critic of naturalism; arguing that without a creationist perspective the human mind would be considered unreliable due to it being a product of chance and evolution. The commentators of the film also explained that Lewis tore down many common misconceptions about faith. C.S. Lewis adamantly argued that Christians are called to bring intelligence and rational thinking to the table in equal proportion to their faith. Without this triumvirate, he believed that a person would lack a solid foundation for their faith and that it would be subject to collapse during times of hardship or swaying emotions. The commentators also argued that CS Lewis lives on through his books that were later adapted into films. While he is most commonly known for his story “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”, Lewis’ series of radio talks he had given during the advent of World War II were compiled and later published into “Mere Christianity” as well.

The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe” was described by the commentators in the film as Lewis’ attempt to capture the truths of the gospel and place them in an imaginary world in order to make it even more relatable to his audience. Lewis, the commentators argued, radically changed the way people viewed Christianity at that point. It challenged the idea of pure faith without asking questions and seeking answers. It was centered around a harmony of faith and logic, which he believed would provide people with a more durable form of faith in Christianity. In essence, Lewis called for a deeper analysis of Christianity in the field of theology; asking that we do not take anything at face value, but rather deeply consider each and every event that takes place- and why. I personally think this film shows that CS Lewis has held religious studies in a more scholarly light.

Cultural Artifact Analysis

Today I was told by my instructor to select an inanimate object and analyze the impact it has on culture as well as what it represents regarding its culture. Given my familiarity with the laptop and the amount of creative freedom I knew it would present, that is my chosen cultural artifact for this post.

Gazing upon the sleek, darkly chromatic laptop I initially think of a multi-purposed tool. An intricately engineered, powerful tool that has revolutionized very much of how we live today. This tool allows us to bridge the gap of distance often found within social interaction. The laptop, or more broadly the personal computer in general, has played a major role in ushering forth the age of individualism. We grasp the power of nearly unrestricted knowledge at our fingertips. Collaboration and contribution to society has never been more physically convenient! We have access today to a myriad of publicly accessible programs such as google and google maps, as well as YouTube and other forums for user generated content like Newgrounds. Not only has the personal computer opened up a gateway to social globalization, it has revolutionized our mediums of art and the attention those works of art receive as well! Going back to Youtube, for example: how many first world citizens aren’t aware of YouTube in the year 2013? There are millions, if not billions of videos generated by complete strangers. Furthermore, many users actually receive revenue if their videos receive enough attention. Without the personal computer, there would be little room for the advertisement industries and the advent of publicly generated content. That being said, the progress of modern day research has been further stimulated by the computer. My father used to tell me all these stories about how he would have to visit his library and use a program referred to as MicroFiche.  While it was an older innovation used for research, it was by no means Google at all. You’d have to pull out these reels from file cabinets and then arduously begin research that was far slower than typing in a phrase consisting of five words and clicking “search”. The personal computer has not only revolutionized how we communicate, but also what we communicate about and the way we ponder the subjects of these conversations. For example, Americans today have more exposure to the mentalities of different cultures and why they behave the way they behave. We have more access to information regarding the way citizens of other nations speak, court, and do business among a colossal list of other things. Part of the reason for this might be attributed to Google to some extent, but the true gem here is the access we have to citizens of foreign nations. Through online social networking forums such as Reddit and Facebook, we have a much higher chance of coming into contact with these individuals. While there has definitely been an influx of intercultural social interactions, I believe this is a trend that will continue to grow and hopefully integrate different cultures a little more in the long run. As people continue to see the merits of broadening their horizons and  consistently speaking with people who view the world differently, perhaps the demand will grow and there will be web developers and programmers standing by- ready to step in and further the globalization of our world’s many cultures.

The Way That I Play Music

This morning I was asked to describe how I participate in a certain cultural event based on what I got out of reading Aaron Copeland’s “How We Listen To Music”.  Since he discussed music and I happen to play the bass guitar, I figured my experience with playing music would be the perfect topic to write about.

Copeland described the way we consume media as a subconscious process. Divided into three sections, he argues that we listen to music for its sensuous, expressive, and sheer musical elements. I’d honestly have to agree with him on all of the above regarding music. In truth, I’ve considered composing music in the past but don’t know where to start. What I generally end up with is parts of a bass line, or what might be referred to as “riffs”. When I try to compose these riffs, I generally have my mind on both the sensuous experiences that a potential audience might witness as well as the sheer music aspect. I don’t usually worry about expressing my current emotions- at least consciously that is. However, I do know that when I play familiar music and work on learning new music that there is a therapeutic consistency within the activity. Music to me is soothing. Very similarly to reading or watching television, playing music allows my mind to completely wander. When I begin to play, muscle memory often kicks in while my constantly wandering mind takes its nap. Despite the fact that I’ve played for a couple years now, I’m still moderately familiar with the notes at best and am by no means a master at tying them all together. Even as I play these incomplete songs, these riffs, It is still a calming and relaxing exercise. Sometimes I’ll even try to add a little bit to those riffs and see how the combinations sound.

Playing music without actively thinking about it would probably reflect the expressive and sensuous sides of music that Copeland strove to describe within his story. Drawing back on what I’ve said earlier, the sensuous side would best be described as that self-unaware bliss you might attain while getting really deep into a movie, book, or video game. The expressive side of music would be most easily compared to writing as I am right now. More particularly, the expressive aspect would be more synonymous with the process of articulation you go through when you write- thinking about what it is you have to say, and how you’d like to say it. Finally, the sheer musical aspect found within musical composition would be most similar to the process of revising an essay on its mechanics or structure. It’s the cohesive substance that holds all of your emotion and the way you go about capturing that emotion together. If one of these three elements is missing, the whole product crumples into a bland, loosely duct-taped mess of an atrocity whether you’re telling a story by paper or music. Because of this, I concur with Mr. Copeland in the sense that music is indeed a realm of sensuous, expressive, and sheer musical rhetoric.

The First Draft of my Learning Memoir

In Pursuit of the Unknown

 

For most of my childhood, I had been raised up in a church environment but wasn’t very intrigued by very much of it. I was one of those children that basically went through the motions and wanted to get baptized so I could see what the drink and bread for communion tasted like. This went on for quite some time, up until we moved away from Michigan over to Washington when I was about 14 years old. I’m still not sure to this day what inspired me to visit our new pastor after one Sunday service, but it completely changed my life. I asked him rather nervously about Hell and whether or not just wanting to stay in good standing would be enough to save myself from a bad situation. He seemed to give me a neutral expression implying that this was a question he was pretty used to before answering: “The problem is that you’re looking for fire insurance. That’s not really how God works.” I realized at that point he was right. I hadn’t quite gotten into theology yet at this point, but this was the day that the mental cogs began to spin and lead me towards a desire to know more about God and the world present in the Bible.

At that point I had begun to take my faith with significantly more sincerity. Things were still moving slowly, but eventually I had decided to undergo a serious baptism the following year. I’ve never forgotten the warm water with the sun coming in through the stained glass right on my position that day. The entire congregation was watching, and after leading me into a medium sized tub my pastor was asking me to repeat after him “Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you accept him as your savior?” After answering yes to both questions, he dunked me backwards. The moment I hit the water and for a couple seconds following, there was absolute silence.  When I was pulled up my only functioning sense was sight. I saw hundreds of people clapping and smiling for me, feeling the water calmly dribble down my face. I knew that I had done this for the right reasons, and that it meant I was truly making a commitment and a promise this time.

I decided to put a little more of my time towards religious pursuits, so I figured I’d start attending a youth group on Thursdays. While the previous two churches in my life had introduced me to God, this was the church that challenged me to question my faith and why I held the beliefs that belonged to myself. It wasn’t the kind of gathering where everyone wore sweatshirts and dress pants, and conflict was far and few in between. I spoke with people who struggled with serious addictions, who had overcome them. The atmosphere was far more intense and emotional than anything I had ever experienced in a church before. It was here that they would bring in people who were hurting or had moved on from their hurt, giving their testimonies and what brought them to God. To me, this was where scripture left the pages of the book and had begun to pour out into my personal life. This was the point where I began giving the actual study of theology much more serious thought. My fascination for studying God’s word was compounded even further one night when one of the volunteer adults working at the church was discussing religion versus faith with me. Ray, the man I was speaking with, basically explained to me that while religion is a structure that assists people in getting to know God, the relationship with God is what the Bible focuses on above all else. It was at this point I began to look a little more into scripture, and had begun reading the Bible from beginning to end at a pace that would take me almost a year and a half.

Briefly into the beginning of my journey through the Bible, my family had moved once more to the state of Michigan. At first, I was gradually consuming the Bible one chapter a day. As time progressed and I became more familiar with the literature, what was once frugal and tentative observation had now become a rapid devouring of scripture at somewhere around four chapters a day! The theological universe had drawn me in with many questions such as what was symbolic versus literal, as well as how many of these people had the strength to do what they did. How was Isaiah feeling when an enormous fire produced from nowhere, and everyone he’d known who had mocked him suddenly became aware that he was actually right? How distraught and terrified must the apostles have been when their God, their leader, had died right before their eyes? When my reading was complete, I had even more questions than I had begun with! Who wrote each of these books? What had been altered? Why were those books altered over time? The world of theology has been and always will continue to be a library with pages that are not missing, but rather hidden. I knew for a fact, however, that in order to get the most out of studying this fantastic and frightening world I’d have to integrate myself into the scholarly community of theologians. The unparalleled sanctuary for me to accomplish such a goal, I had realized, was through college university.

 

When entering my Biblical Literature class for the first time, I remember sitting in the cool bliss of a sixty degree class had to offer when I was only assigned the first three chapters of Genesis, but getting home later that night I’d learned a plethora of new information regarding how scripture was “canonized”, or regarded as authoritative by different religions, as well as how long this process probably took and a general view of what the scholarly world knows about the Bible’s origins. It was at this point that I began to strongly consider pursuing some sort of degree in Theology. With each passing day I’d begun to realize that the scholarly community may not have all the answers, nor did I expect to find all the answer in my lifetime, but I realized that what we had figured out was very impressive given the time lapse, and that college was definitely the next step in seeking answers to my dynamic, constantly evolving questions about this universe that has class room full of thirty or so other students. At first I was a little skeptical on what that shaped, and will continue to shape my life. From ashes to ashes, my passion for theology will remain a driving force in my pursuit of knowledge.

Learning Memoir (Rising and Falling Action)

I understand that these will be out of order, but basically these next two paragraphs will bridge the gap between the inciting incident to the climax as well as connecting the climax to the currently undeveloped resolution respectively.

Rising Action:

At that point I had begun to take my faith with significantly more sincerity. Things were still moving slowly, but eventually I had decided to undergo a serious baptism the following year. I’ve never forgotten the warm water with the sun coming in through the stained glass right on my position that day. The entire congregation was watching, and after leading me into a medium sized tub my pastor was asking me to repeat after him “Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you accept him as your savior?” After answering yes to both questions, he dunked me backwards. The moment I hit the water and for a couple seconds following, there was absolute silence.  When I was pulled up my only functioning sense was sight. I saw hundreds of people clapping and smiling for me, feeling the water calmly dribble down my face. I knew that I had done this for the right reasons, and that it meant I was truly making a commitment and a promise this time.

Falling Action:

Briefly into the beginning of my journey through the Bible, my family had moved once more back to the state of Michigan, where I had initially grown up and attended my first church. After finishing scripture, I had even more questions than I had begun with! Who wrote each of these books? What had been altered? Why were those books altered over time? The world of theology has been and always will continue to be a library with pages that are not missing, but rather hidden. While answering these questions to a satisfactory degree living at home studying in solitude would have been an unlikely scenario. Thankfully, I’d always intended to enroll in college and earn a degree, any degree at all I could stand sticking with. Even though a pursuit of theology was a tentative consideration for me at that point, I would soon come to find that there were more interesting and thought provoking answers to many of these questions than I’d assumed in the scholarly world of theology!