Curious Uses of Technology

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This page is dedicated to taking a look at some of the less profound, but nonetheless curious uses of technology that we encounter today. Students are encourage to submit their own views and topics on curious technology, and potentially discuss how it ties in to our class. Hopefully we can broaden our class themes without having to rely on deep and profound examples of technology challenging what it means to be human. This is not to be confused with Boing Boing and Badges, however if someone wished to bring up a submitted piece here that has not been covered in class, he or she would certainly be welcome!



Many gamers should be familiar with the term machinima. It is defined as a hybrid of "machine cinema," and it refers to the creation of movies using video game engines. One of the first popular forms of machinima came from a group known as Rooster Teeth, who created a very popular machinima series known as Red vs. Blue by using Halo: CE on the original XBOX. Since then, the internet has erupted with thousands of videos, ranging from gameplay montages to "Let's Plays," full playthroughs of games with additional player commentary, to comedic or dramatic series that are comparable to a television series, or even in some cases, full-length movies. Not only has this revolutionized online entertainment, it has given birth to an entire sub-culture of gaming enthusiasts who meet to share ideas by way of the internet.

It is interesting to look at the most successful machinima directors and see what depth has been put into story design, scriptwriting, voice acting, and cinematography. In some ways, machinima as a medium has changed how traditional entertainment can be created. In what ways do you feel machinima has made an impact on how users of the internet view the traditional "cinematic experience"? By utilizing a game engine, directors have access to sets, actors, and stunts that would otherwise cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to execute in live-action. Does this mean that machinima is, in a way, a (comparatively) open-source Hollywood? What does it mean for machinima to give teams who otherwise would not have the resources to create major entertainment the ability to bring their creations to reality? How has this potentially fostered third-party innovation, and what does it mean for the conventional entertainment industry as well as the gaming industry?

Additionally, how do you feel this idea of "open-source Hollywood" relates to both Steven Levy's Hackers as well as William Gibson's The Winter Market? Does making create and expressive mediums more open to the public grant us innovation and growth, or does it pose a danger to any traditional stability? What do you think these two authors would have to say about this notion?

Machinima Discussion

Some people think its really amazing how machinima has given groups who would otherwise be unrecognized talent the ability to create great pieces of entertainment. As it has exponentially grown in popularity, I think that machinima will start to have a visible impact on our "real world" entertainment industry (especially in regard to how game developers design their future games), and it might give birth to its own legitimate genre beyond the bowels of the internet. There's certainly the interest and market out there for it anyway. Msmith312 18:55, 18 April 2011 (UTC)



A curious facet of the uncanny valley that our class discussions have never really addressed is the concept of animation.

To give the reader a good idea of what will be discussed here, consider this situation: How many of you saw Toy Story 3? Out of those, how many of you saw it with your parents? And out of those, how many of you had your mom sobbing and hugging you during the scenes where Andy and his Mom reflect on his imminent transfer to college?

For those who can't relate to the above: How many of you cried or felt a significant sense of loss as a kid when Mufasa died in the Lion King?

If you can't relate to either of those, does the animated .gif shown here get an emotional response out of you, whether that be laughter, confusion, disgust, or something else entirely?

Clearly animation of human-like (or at least human-voiced) characters allows the viewing audience to have an emotional connection. Now, while animation is a very different technology from robots, it is still a technology, and it has proven to be very effective at stirring emotional responses from the audience. It is then curious to consider how many people criticize making friends over the internet, exclaiming that there's no human interaction, and can therefore be no true emotional connection. However, humans often relate emotionally to characters in animated movies or even books, and these characters often don't even exist in the real world! What do you think about this discrepancy? What does animation's ability to stir an emotional response from us say about how we handle emotional connections? If we can connect emotionally to a fictional being, can we then connect emotionally to a real being through a medium such as the internet?

Additionally, how do you feel that the content and questions above relate to our Selections from Sherry Turkle that we read in class? Sherry Turkle's takes on how technology impacts emotional development have varied across her lifespan. Do you think she would support animation as a source of emotional growth and possibly experimentation, or would she view extended exposure as detrimental to our emotional health?

Animation Discussion

It is really funny how people are so apt to criticize social interaction through the internet. I've made plenty of friends on line who I've ended up meeting in the real world. Was it weird, you ask? No! We just met and continued interacting as usual in person, as if we'd lived down the street from each other for years. While I'm overall more traditional and do believe that any good friends you make you ought to at least attempt to meet in person, I'm open to the fact that people can create and maintain real relationships by way of the internet.

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