Show And Tell

 

Through Scott McCloud’s chapter “Show and Tell” in Understanding Comics, he explores the way words and images play a role side by side. Starting off talking about the history of the two mixing together, he explains how they began to parallel each other, as they didn’t used to before, especially through comics.  He talks about how the two combined, have caused comics to flourish. They compliment each other to help portray a story and connect to the reader as much as possible.  As McCloud even states, “And indeed, words and pictures have great powers to tell stories when creators fully exploit them both.”  I have never thought before how important it is for such things to compliment each other in order to send the right message you are trying to, but this article explained this in full detail to me.

McCloud then proceeds to explain how there are is an unlimited amount of ways that that pictures and words can combine in comics.  He starts with word specific, which is when the picture doesn’t add a considerable amount to a complete text.   In contrast, we then look at picture specific, which can be described as having an illustration that says more than the text.  Combining these two, we have duo-specific, where both the picture and text play the same roll and send virtually the same meaning.  Additive is when either the picture or text elaborate on the other.  Parallel is when words and pictures continue in varying patterns without overlapping.  Looking at the use of a montage, we see how the text is integrated with the picture itself, literally combining the two.  The most used combination is the inter-dependent, which is where the image and the text are used together to fully portray the message that couldn’t have been described one another.

Reading over all of these different types of combinations with words and images made me realize how complex and intimate comics can be.  Before, comics always seemed to be very simple stories with not much behind them, but I now realize that this generalization is incorrect.  I now see how important it is to properly compliment images and words when telling a story and how easily you can make a comic not clear.

 

Understanding Comics

 

As I have never truly gotten into comics or understood them, I have always noticed the visuals and symbols that are portrayed throughout them, helping to more easily connect to the reader.  The type of drawings used in cartoons make them stand out from every other type of literature.  Through reading McCloud’s Understanding Comics, the main message that stood out to me about the visuals was that the simpler and less complicated the picture, the more the reader understands and can relate.  I always thought that the better and more in depth visuals were, the easier it was to read, but looking at it from this point, it made more sense of why this would be true.  For me, I found it was easier to pick up the message the drawing was trying to portray when the face had little detail and there wasn’t distracting scenery in the background.  This helps the message get right to the point.

McCloud made me think more about how symbols connect to readers and how our brains are trained to remember these images. I have never thought about how used to seeing symbols we are.  Back to the simple face drawing of the two dots and the line, we automatically know what this is an image of, even without any detail or even the outline of the face or a nose.  It is interesting how symbols like this have become a norm to us.  Relating these simple images to cartoons, it is easy for readers to look and sense immediately what the picture is portraying, and read the short blurb and move on to the next one.  With too many detailed drawings, we would spend too much time staring at each image and not enough time on the comic itself.  The images are just there to help communicate to the reader, not take away from the text.

The Hypertext Journey

Annoyance struck over me as I came across the divided picture of the naked woman, where I proceeded to start at the neck and continue on my journey through the never-ending story.  This was a type of story I have never quite experienced.  It is hard to say I have read something so randomly factual about the human body, nor anything so chopped up and all over the place.  It only got worse when the blue hyperlinks never ceased to end.  And for me, reading on a screen doesn’t typically make matters better.

ADD. Suffering from such a thing and continually having to change the page and leave the middle of the first sentence to later find your way back, is a painful task.  Just like I did there.  Who wants to begin reading about something and get dragged to another site where you have to stop, loose your spot, and change your topic, knowing in the back of your head that you’ll have to go back to the previous page at some point?  This only causes you to get more sidetracked when trying to follow such a confusing story.  Let me just say, for those of us that can relate to ADD, its not fun.

The neck seemed like the most logical place to start since it was at the top, so that’s where I began the “journey.”  Right from the beginning, I have never been so confused by a bunch of random links on a computer screen before.  Im still not sure how the whole thing was put together, but it got a bit easier as I stuck through it and tried keeping my place.  The one thing I wasn’t sure about was whether to finish the full paragraph or page, or even the sentence, and then click on the links that I had read, or just click as I came across them.  But then I would lose my spot? I thoroughly disliked this.

I kept varying it up depending on the page, how many links there were, if I had already read the link, or if the link would pertain to what I was reading (which most of the time it didn’t).  There was one that I really was confused about.  The link said “I despised them because they rarely swam,” which this then took you to a link where the first sentence read “There was one good thing about the uncomfortable plastic chairs I sat in all through grade school…”  This completely threw me off and I wasn’t sure what to think.  I thought it was going to link me to something continuing about swimming, but in fact many of the links did this.

As I continued, it became confusing which was the correct way to go about, but the way the story is set up, makes it so there’s not a specific way to follow, which I had to remind myself was okay.  Making the paragraphs short and factual was nice in the sense of randomness, but I wouldn’t say this is my ideal kind of read.

I also didn’t like how you didn’t know if you were finished or not.  Most of the pages had links that showed you had already clicked on them, but once you explored more, they blue continued.  This made me want to stop reading.  It made me more and more annoyed as it felt like I was never going to get a break.  Having pages or making it a bit more ordered, may have made me like it a little better, and may have made it easier to read.

Carr and Hyperlinking

Through Carrs article, Is Google Making Us Stupid?, we notice the wide use of hyperlinks that he uses to back up his argument.  A hyperlink is a link in any type of document that is clickable and will lead the reader to a new article, where they are given further information to better their knowledge on the topic. He collaborates with many other authors who have written about their knowledge and ideas on Carr’s topic.  Carr uses these links mainly as references for when he is sharing an idea.  When he quoted Clive Thompson, he led the reader with a hyperlink straight to the source of Clive’s article.  This gives more of an idea of whom he is quoting and what that person is generally talking and writing about.  Another way he uses the links is when he sends the reader to blogs that Carr follows.  These give the reader more knowledge about blogging, what people are blogging about, and where Carr is getting his ideas from.  With links to biography’s, blogs, interviews, articles, observations, and even an amazon page where you can buy a specific book he talked about, these hyperlinks generally make it easy for readers to get a stronger grasp on the point that Carr is trying to make.

Granted, hyperlinks can be of distraction and annoyance to many readers, but for the most part, they are just there to help.   They may cause you to get side-tracked or lost in what you are currently doing, but if you are able to follow what the author is trying to lead you through, they can be of much assistance.  I enjoy being able to gain a better knowledge on side ideas of what authors are talking about, and if they are not hyperlinked, I often will look them up.  These links serve as an easy click access to what you are looking for.

Opposite Sides of the Internet: An interview with Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky

 

Shirky-Hello Nicholas, very glad to finally get to talk with you in person.  I have been following your work, and while you prove a very interesting argument, im not sure I completely agree.   While some of your points may be quite valid and relate to many internet users, I was wondering if you could expand on your thought that the internet is “reprogramming us”?

Carr-Hello Clay, wonderful to be meeting with you as well.  Yes, as I stated before, I believe that the internet has taken a huge toll on the way we think, learn, and express ourselves.  With the fast access and demand of what the internet has to offer, people have been trained to keep up with this pace, not giving them the patience to do something as simple as reading a book online without changing the page 3 paragraphs in.  With so many distractions, who could ever be able to do something like that!

Shirky-I understand your point, but for many people, the internet has been a very useful tool.  Don’t you think is amazing how fast it is! I mean, common, with society today, as fast as it is, we need the internet to help us keep up and stay on top of everything.

Carr-Yes, but it is almost too fast.  It causes stress for us to keep up with the internet, not society.  Everything’s published on there.  We’ll never know what its fully capable of, nor be able to monitor what’s out there.

Shirky-But how can you not love that about the internet! It has everything we need!

Carr- I just think its stupid, and its making us stupid! The new generations no longer knows how to navigate through library or read a long novel.  The internet has given us short-cuts and easy passages to summaries and any other fast accessible info.  I don’t agree with this, and think that we should find ways to teach around it.  You cant trust people with what they’re releasing out there.

Shirky-I do agree with the fast access. But how individuals use it, is their own choice.  I think it brings people together and helps everyone stay up to date.  People need to learn what to trust and what not to trust.   I just think that cognitive surplus can allow for huge advances as the internet is a huge part of our future.  Just know that the internet is there, use it or don’t.

Carr-Well I believe that sums up our meeting.

Shirky- Yes it does, have a good day!

Carr- You as well.  Ill be sure to keep your points in mind.

 

What is Digital Writing??

 

In this technology-driven world, a pen and paper rarely play the role that they used to.  This has caused us to turn to “digital writing.”  Computers and other electronics allow us to now digitally type out papers, letters, articles, journals and many more by the swift, memorized movements of our fingers.  Even art can come in to play a role in digital writing with cartoons and videos streamed over the Internet.  We can now share, save, edit, and print with a few quick clicks, and never before have shared documents such as personal “blogs” been so popular.

Growing up in such a society that is so digitized, public, and constantly changing, we, especially those of the younger generation, must keep up with the wave of digital writing.  Technology has been trying to make it easier for us to succeed in the workplace or in school, but often we don’t realize that with so many resources, we get caught up in what we know, but it is impossible to stay completely “in-the-now.”  Yet, we are now taught in school what and how to write digitally, so much as writing by hand has become quite uncommon.   The article Because Digital Writing Matters, talked about how this type of writing will not help students when it comes to their higher education or even future workplace, which is definitely the case these days.

In the case for many students, the Internet is a place to go for research.  It is easily accessible, you can find what you’re looking for, and its right there to read.  It is uncommon to search for full books in libraries or even read a full novel that is assigned.  We have summaries, notes, and files that get us straight to the point.  Authors often go unrecognized and they’re work is often unappreciated.  Technology has allowed fast access, which causes us not want to spend the time fully reading or researching.  This has also caused writing to become more casual and informal.  With everything so accessible on the Internet, copyright rules take place, which many people at one point or another, have tiptoed around.  Most of the time because we don’t know about them, or we don’t notice that we are doing something illegal by the click of two buttons.  At times we need to take a step back and realize what allows this easy access of the Internet, and look around to other recourses.

It is interesting to see how this wave of technology has transformed writing.  We don’t look to newspapers, books, or articles for reading anymore, its all online.  Many people have been forced to jump on this new ship and change their professions since there is no market in hard copies anymore.  It was personally interesting for me to see my dad, who used to own and sell newspapers, have to completely switch over to digital news.  Luckily he saw this coming many years ago and his business is playing a huge roll in the digital world.  It will be fascinating to see what how this new writing progresses through the years and whether everything will become completely digital.

 

Reading On Screen: The New Media Sphere

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