Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Inbox" - utopian with some ifs and buts #EDCMOOC

"Inbox" is a very well made film in my opinion, and touches upon many issues in a very short time. The film soon establishes the background of the protagonists, the quick discovery of a new medium (the red bags) by two young people as only the new generation can, the efficient use of the medium resulting in their meeting, albeit aided by a little luck, and just before that, the shortcomings of technology. The ending too is realistic as the two continue communicating by writing notes because that is what they are used to!

A utopian view of technology in my opinion, but to come to this conclusion, one should look at their communication in the context of their backgrounds. 

Bendito machine: ecstasy and a sense of doom #EDCMOOC

Bendito machine is a rather eerie animation film that made me feel uncomfortable, and you know why? Because it is such a real story of our over-enthusiasm and worship of new gadgets. I identify with the tribals shown in the film because we were exactly like them when television first came into the Indian market. When people first began buying this new machine called television, there was wonder and amazement. The whole neighbourhood used to gather in The House with Something Called TV when the show was about to begin! We had to erect a humongous antenna above our house to get a clear picture, and very often it didn't work and we had to keep changing the direction of the antenna in an attempt to get better reception. We have thrown away many versions of many gadgets since, and I wonder if we are better off now.

The animation in Bendito machine is based on shadow puppetry and is done brilliantly. The film is both utopic and dystopic because it manages to capture beautifully, people's fascination for new machines, the high it gives them, and then their slave-like submission, and finally their irreverent rejection of the very same machine when a new one comes down from the sky. The rust and yellow used in the background create the right mood in the film -- one of ecstasy and somehow, a sense of doom.

I think it would be useful for me to try and attempt to answer the questions raised.

What is this film suggesting are the ecological and social implications of an obsession or fixation on technology
Social implications would be the changed lifestyles of people and their negligence of other activities after the advent of the new gadget. The tribals follow the TV god wherever he goes, and they do whatever he tells them to do. Ecological implications are symbolised by the stark ambience of the film, by the absence of green, by the piles of e-waste and a sole bird trying to feed on these piles.

Do the film’s characters have any choice in relation to their technologies? 
Perhaps they do, but it seems like they have no choice because what they do is an activity driven by human will, not necessarily to meet a need. The man climbing up a steep hill perhaps signifies the research that happens in the R&D labs of Apple or Samsung.

What are the characteristics of various technologies as portrayed in this film?
The perspective of this film is technological determinism where technology determines social change. Technology as shown in this film dominates human behaviour. However, despite this, human beings are in control because they constantly replace old technology with new, with no thought of the consequences of doing so.

Monday, January 28, 2013

EDC Day 2: 'You've got mail'...surely utopic! #EDCMOOC

This 1998 romantic comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan has been my all-time favourite. This was also the time when we, in India, were discovering the excitement of email, and so were charmed by "You've got mail" -- both the name and the film!

Like "Inbox", the short film shown to us in Week 1 of EDC, in this film too, technology is used to bring two people together, though in a rather convoluted way. This film would perhaps be too simplistic now because we have moved way ahead technologically since 1998, and people communicate quite differently now. Nevertheless, it is one film I drop everything and watch any time! I think because of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, "You've got mail" is a classic, and I would certainly term this film utopic from the point of view of technology.

Read a review here and watch the trailer here

Someone talk to me!

Unsure steps at the start of Coursera! Just as I felt when I first started blogging in 2006, I feel unsure and nervous right now as I start yet another blog to record my experiences with  'E-learning and Digital Cultures', a course that is part of the Massive Open Online Courses  (EDC MOOC). There is so much activity already that I am confused where to begin. I saw the course content and it interests me. But I am concerned about whether I will be able to spend the time this course demands, whether I will be able to do all the assignments this entails. Maybe once I get into the course, I will begin to enjoy it...

So I start with this blog. The next step is to find the RSS feed and include this in EDC MOOC News.

Right now I just feel like saying, "Someone talk to me!"