All Things Noise in Old New York

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Old New York

As a historian of sound, Thompson’s motivation for this project is “historicizing the act of listening.”

The Roaring Twenties is an interactive exploration of the historical soundscape of old New York City, it was researched by Emily Thompson and designed by Scott Mahoy. This project is the vision of Thompson, author of The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933. As a historian of sound, Thompson’s motivation for this project is “historicizing the act of listening.”

Through this site, Thompson’s book is transformed into an interactive archive that includes a mixed medium of documented sounds in New York City around 1930. This site allows you to explore magazine articles, noise complaint documents, newsreels, clippings from the New York Times and other miscellaneous noise related documents.

The layout of the site is easy to use. You can explore sounds in three ways, by type of sound, by location of sound and by time of sound. Each way is a unique and engaging experience. The sound page categorizes sound by columns. To search by sound, you will select a type of sound, (subway, people, automobiles, etc.) To search by location, you will make a selection from an area on an interactive map and to search by timeline, you will make a selection from an interactive timeline.

From the design to the layout, I believe this site is wonderfully engaging. I’m delighted by the sepia tones and the ‘old-timey’ backgrounds which fit the overall content very well. I would say that the creators did a great job, by not only providing the content, but by also providing an experience.

R.I.P 6 o’ Clock News

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Digital media gives us plenty of options when it comes to retrieving the news. However, the information can get so jumbled in the midst of the constant news feed that is the world today. The growth of information nowadays can make us vulnerable to fake news. Fake news is an ever-growing discussion in America these days, and it seems to be getting worse everyday. The epidemic is a reflection of our habits, and a representation of our merging with technology.

Digital media news platforms are derived from the opinions and reflections of many. The constant battle among news organizations to be the first one with the hot story is damaging to society. However, it isn’t just the news organizations that are the proprietors of fake, or unexamined facts. There is an amazing amount of power that each one holds when they own a smart phone, computer or web device. As Laura Galante stated in her TED talk, Are All of Us Vulnerable to Fake News?, “this is a universe of the minds.”

In many ways, digital news has changed the way we see the world. It’s made us collectively more aware. As I said, news doesn’t even have to come from a news organization anymore to be considered by the public. For instance, social media played a big part in revealing sexual harassment scandals at the end of last year. Many turned to social media to share their stories and to call for action using the hashtag ‘me too’. In some ways, this was news. It wasn’t reported in print or on television, but almost anyone with a Facebook account could see the impact that sexual harassment has had on those near to them.

Receiving the news is no longer sitting in front of the television at 6 o’ clock. And receiving may not even be the right word to describe it. News today must be examined. My hope is that more news consumers would take the time to seek credible news sources, find a favorite and trustworthy reporter to follow, broaden their news sources and educate themselves on the facts concerning the news and the news organizations providing it.

Living in the World Wide Web

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It’s another Monday morning at our house. Sipping my coffee at the table and scrolling Facebook, I turn to my boyfriend and ask, “why are we always on our phones?” “I’m always on my phone because you’re always on your phone,” he replies. “That’s not true,” I say, as I slide my phone face down on the table. “I mean, shouldn’t we be over phones by now?” “What do you mean?” he asks. “I mean, we’ve had smartphones for nearly a decade, why is the world still glued to the screen?” I say. “Maybe it’s not the device itself, as much as it is the world that the device takes you to,” he says. “Of course, it’s the world wide web after all,” I replied.

As an self proclaimed “old soul”, I have mixed feelings about the digital world, it’s just as harmful as it is helpful. However, I am inevitably a digital native. Growing up, I was introduced to digital media at a young age. I had my first computer class as a first grader in 1997, the classes continued until senior year. In high school, when I determined that I would study journalism, I began taking classes at a vocational school. It was there that I  spent the last two years of my high school career learning behind the scene techniques in video and audio production. From there I attended college, where I learned how to use social media and the web to create a bigger impact in my field.

Assessing my digital survey, I realize that I interact in the digital world quite frequently. Nowadays, interacting with the digital world is more of requirement than ever before.  I find myself constantly logging on to communicate with work or communicate for work (social media management). The web is a source for keeping up with friendships and relationships, paying bills, organizing schedules, meetings and receiving the news. I shake my head at how dependent we are on the web, and in the same respect I understand the convenience factor too. I would find it incredibly entertaining to see how the we would function during a day without the World Wide Web. We would be completely lost, metaphorically and literally.

This course is a great chance to hone some skills I may already have, and to learn some new skills in the process. I am eager to be a part of  the Phil Ochs project, and to learn how to use digital media as a creative, informative and professional outlet. It helps that I’m also a fan of American Folk music.  Being able to help share the legacy of Phil Ochs, through the use of digital media is a wonderful opportunity. It’s things like this that help me appreciate living in the World Wide Web.

Disney Creates Disneyphiles

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Obsession is dangerous. Photo by Trey Ratcliff

While growing up in California, it wasn’t uncommon for my family to visit Disneyland several times a year. It was always exciting and thrilling, and sometimes confusing. Then there were family vacations to Disney World in Orlando. I remember how cheated I felt after visiting Disney World, and seeing how much more there was to do.

Now there are 13 parks and it’s nearly impossible for me to imagine seeing them all.  I think Disneyphiles are nuts. Seriously, who spends time and money travelling the world to visit a Disney Theme Park? Don’t get me wrong I love the nostalgia and wonder of Disney, but when it’s taken too far it loses its value. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Live Without Dead Time

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Photo by Nuria Casanya

No matter what you’re doing, do it with meaning.

The notion that the ways of writing and literature are disappearing into the past may or may not be true. The notion that the Internet is making us all mindless may or may not be true. We spend countless hours multimedia tasking and filling gaps of time with unsubstantial information. However, we can get more meaning out of our time spent on distractions by utilizing our technology.

It depends on where you direct your mind, yes technology can distract us from embracing meaningfulness in our lives or it can enhance that outlook. I would love to take a class like the one being taught at Pennsylvania University that would show me how to utilize the Internet for creative gain or enlightenment. I believe that we aren’t losing substance as people from the Internet, but we’re actually gaining substance in a deeper way and the class being taught by Professor Goldsmith is proof of that. In order to see that change evolve, we’ll have to adapt and direct our minds to a new way of using and absorbing the Internet.

Americans Fear…

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Fear is the result of the unkown.

I don’t know if fear is as much a part of the American culture, as it is a part of human culture. In my opinion fear comes from a lack of understanding, we fear what we don’t know. Just last week, I was discussing plans to visit Dallas for my birthday with a friend. I was almost angered by their response, refusing to go because, “that Ebola is down there”. I became frustrated until we reached deeper in the conversation and that’s when I realized, this person has not educated themselves on what is happening at all.

While I don’t quite the quarantine process for individuals arriving from Ebola affected countries, I am glad that officials are doing something in an attempt to keep others safe. I would imagine that health care providers who are returning would not have a problem with following the 21 day home quarantine process. I have read and understood as much as possible the effects and transmission of Ebola, and in my opinion we shouldn’t be afraid, just cautious. That is true for everything.

Terrorist Groups Targeting Teen Girls

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Young women joining Jihad across the globe is evidence of the strength of terrorist groups.

Growing concerns surrounding Islamic terrorist groups is widely discussed internationally. These sophisticated groups use strategies and tactics to recruit people to the growing movements. I was shocked to read about young teenage girls being led to Syria by Jihadist groups. I can’t imagine the impact that they groups must’ve had on these young girls, in order for them to gain the courage to leave everything they know and love to jump on a plane for the Middle East.

This epidemic is evidence of the power and influence that terrorist groups can have. Unfortunately, the continued efforts of such groups is attributing to their growing success as an organization. In addition, terrorist groups continue to give the Islamic faith much negative attention, especially in Western countries where the faith is not widely understood. My hope is that the growing epidemic of Islamic terrorist groups will be put to rest soon, but until then it is important to be aware of the ways in which they are thriving.

Success in a Snap

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Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel

Some people have a knack for following their dreams. I imagine these people have a clear vision of the goal they want to achieve, and they have the courage that it takes to go after that vision despite criticism from the outside world. It’s so awesome that a 20-something-year-old like Evan Spiegel could see his vision so clearly that it would eventually lead to the creation of a widely successful app like Snapchat. It’s truly inspiring. Walking away from Stanford weeks from graduating shows the determination and strength that he had, however; I’m sure the fact that he was given a large sum of money by an investor did influence that choice.

One thing that I feel helped his success is the fact that he saw a need, and that need came from understanding. Snapchat founders understood and related to the desire from teens and young adults to engage in social media activities without consequences. Once he jumped on that idea, he never gave up on it and things fell into place through his hard work. When I hear stories like this I think, this could be me, or you or anyone my age or younger. It’s in all of us to do great things, be diligent in finding your calling.