by Connor Buckmaster
Go look in your Amazon account (it’s likely that you have one), and find a book you recently purchased. Seriously. I’ll wait (just don’t close the tab!). Now ask yourself this, “How did I learn about that book?” Maybe a friend recommended it, maybe you found it on a best-seller list, maybe it’s a book you’ve always wanted to read, or maybe Amazon recommended it for you.
by Jenna Burke
Recently there has been a face that is making the internet 🔥 with extensive debate behind its actual meaning. No, it is not one of the Kardashians or Clint Eastwood memes, but rather an emoji that is causing controversy. According to USA Today, the new “Woozy Face Emoji” that is supposed to depict someone who is intoxicated has been creating critical debate in the social media universe. While some people 😂 at this and make tweets such as “this is how every one be when they get their pictures at the DMV,” others find the fact that we are having the discussion not only 😕, but also a complete waste of time.
by Rebecca Rodriguez
In high school, we are given our first copy of Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers, which we are commanded to worship. It’s not a bad book, by any means, and (if read for anything other than MLA citation instructions) specific information on sentence structure can be found within it. In fact, there is an entire section dedicated to taking wordy sentences and tightening them. ←Example→ There is a section on tightening wordy sentences.
Although fair warning is given that short sentences aren’t always concise, wordiness is considered ultimately taboo. Not only does it focus on eliminating redundancies, but it encourages us, the writers, to cut inflated phrases (e.g. change “At the present time…” into “Now...” or “Currently...”). We also must take every opportunity to reduce a clause into a phrases, or a phrase into a single word. Though we try not to worry about these rules outside of our research papers, it’s too late. Today’s generation of writers have already been brainwashed.
by John Gross
Throughout time technology has changed how the writer crafts his novel. From pen and paper, to typewriters, to word processing—the tools of the trade are constantly evolving. In today’s world, the writer can craft a sentence and move it around to different places, supplementing paragraphs where he sees fit. This can be a powerful tool, that makes the revision process more fluid and dynamic. An author can be less committed to putting something on a page, where it can be easily reshaped, moved, and removed. While this technology has fundamentally changed how the novelist crafts his work, it hasn’t really changed how the reader consumes it. Sure, we are in a period of time that is showing the rise of e-readers and digital print, but ultimately the novel is being experienced in the same traditional way.
By Jessica M. Tuckerman
Here’s a brief description of one of my favorite stories: Desmond Miles just escaped from Abstergo Industries, the modern day face of the Knights Templar, after he was forced to live out the genetic memories of his ancestor who fought in the crusades. He escapes with Lucy Stillman and two others who help him to reach a secluded cave where Desmond relives the memories of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The story jumps between Ezio’s story in the Italian Renaissance and the cave where Desmond is desperately trying to find an alien device which will destroy the world if it falls into the wrong hands. By reliving Ezio’s memories, Desmond hopes to find where the device is hidden before Abstergo catches up to him.
The story is full of twists and turns. I actually cried when Ezio, the narrator for much of the story, had to watch his family hang in the middle of Firenze. I love the plot, I love the framed narrative, I love seeing Italy during the Renaissance. I was consistently surprised throughout my first reading of the piece and I truly recommend that you pick it up.
The story is from Assassin’s Creed II. A video game.
by Andrew Bates
There are certain unspoken rules amongst aficionados of media. One must always have a personal list of at least ten favorite works to call “the best” when called upon by others. When topics such as Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey come up, they must immediately refute them as terrible and trite. Using your cell phone in a dark movie theater is sacrilege. The arguably most important rule, and the one that is most common amongst media absorption, is that one must not reveal important dramatic turn of events.
In other words, tag your spoilers.
by Brian Maloney
Whenever I visit my parents around dinner time, my dad has the television on. This is not uncommon. Around this time however, there are only a handful of syndicated comedies that he will watch. And most of them make me leave the room. When I complain to my parents about how terrible these television shows are, they reply that after working all day they just want to “veg out.” So what does this comment say about my parents? Like many Americans at the end of the day, my parents are tired of thinking.
The shows that they watch, shows like Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, are ratings juggernauts. They win their respective time slots every time a new episode airs and their syndicated episodes have high ratings as well. To put these shows on at dinner time in the Philadelphia area, where I live, was a stroke of genius for the networks that chose to do so. They knew that they had viewers ready to leave their televisions on during dinner time, and once the show was over in the half-hour dinner block, they would run the same show again to keep those viewers right where they wanted them. It’s possible for these shows to run without continuity or out of order. They can be aired without having season long story arcs. Viewers can watch any episode at any time and not have to worry about what is going on. The concept of each show is simple enough for the casual and longtime viewer to be able to enjoy the show equally.
This does not mean that my parents are stupid or lazy. It just means that I am experiencing entertainment in a different way than they are used to. There are talk shows devoted to specific television shows now. Viewers can use specific hashtags during the program to tweet their feelings and read others feelings on the same subject. It is a new way of conveying feelings over entertainment that is unique to the internet generation. So while I may not like the shows that my parents watch, I can’t blame them for watching. Those shows rely on an old model of television. Something that the executives know has worked in the past and continues to work today.
During the Thursday night comedy blocks, NBC and CBS are frequently competing. CBS has Big Bang at 8 PM, while NBC has countered with a carousel of shows consisting of Community, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock. Why has NBC had such a hard time competing with CBS’s Big Bang Theory? Is it due to the revolving door of comedies that they have kept spinning? I believe it is because each one of these shows is a “thinkers” comedy with season long story arcs and sophisticated humor.
Now that viewers have any television show they want to watch in an instant through programs such as Netflix and Hulu, the older generations stick to what they know. Are they afraid of change? This seemed apparent when NBC gave over the late night reigns to popular-with-the-younger-generation’s Conan O’Brien. Most of the viewers who watched The Tonight Show ending up choosing David Letterman over O’Brien, which, according to the ratings, never happened when Jay Leno was at the helm. According to the Associated Press Conan had been, “averaging 2.5 million nightly viewers, compared with 4.2 million for Letterman's "Late Show," according to Nielsen figures.” It seemed as though the audience could not relate to O’Brien’s absurdist form of comedy and for that and poor ratings he was quickly booted. Jay Leno was promptly reinstated as the new/old host of Tonight. The changing of the guard was not embraced.
Traditions are supposed to be passed down from parents to children and I believe this includes entertainment choices as well. There are things that my parents have passed down onto me that I still partake in. There are still shows that I will watch with my parents that we all enjoy such as Boardwalk Empire. But when I try to tell them to watch a show they rarely get into it.
A show like Breaking Bad was another show that I tried to get them to watch and one that struggled in its ratings throughout most of its run. However, its cult following saved it from cancellation. Through word of mouth most viewers caught up due to DVD’s or Netflix in time for the final eight episodes. The viewership jumped through the roof from the season four finale to the series finale. According to Entertainment Weekly, Season four’s finale racked in 1.9 million viewers while the season five finale had 10.3 million viewers tune in. This is a testament to how good the show was, and a direct response from viewers who wanted to watch something of a higher quality on their Sunday evenings. The younger generations are calling for better programming.
This new generation of viewers is experiencing things in a vastly different way than the generations that came before. With the birth of the internet, everything we do can be recorded. We experience things differently. If we want to relive a moment over and over again we have the ability to. Everything can be over analyzed to death, if we want, and most of the time it is. When we watch a television show we can immediately relive it. As soon as a show ends we can use the internet to read how other people feel, what critics think, what certain references mean, and we can even express our own feelings through different media.
Our parents have never encountered television, movies, and other experiences in that way until now. Television that they grew up with was usually a single camera show with a laugh track. And another reason for the popularity of these shows that are winning in the ratings is the inclusion of the laugh track. Most of the comedies that lead the ratings include a laugh track; a designated cue of when to laugh. However, comedies are just beginning to break that mold such as the multi-camera comedy The Office on NBC which does not use the laugh track. This in turn causes the viewer to think about the previous joke and lets them decide when and when not to laugh.
Every generation wants to pass down traditions to their children, but their children change. Trends change, as does the thinking from generation to generation. My grandparents liked forms of entertainment that my parents did not understand, and I know that my children will not understand some of my entertainment choices as well. And that’s why I don’t blame my parents for liking what they do. The shows that they enjoy get good ratings because they are smart; they play to their audience and know what they like. As do my parents. They know what they like. And so do I. Even though I don’t always agree with their choices, I can see why they make them. They want to be entertained when they come home from work, and if that doesn’t involve a show that I like, then so be it. But I still reserve the right to roll my eyes, and leave the room.
Google Poetry, Authorship, and Copyright
In October 2012, a poet named Sampsa Nuotio created a site called “Google Poetics,” which posts submissions by poets from around the world, each of which is created in a nontraditional way. Each submission is derived from Google’s autocomplete suggestions, which appear when any Google user is typing in a search phrase. The suggested searches are predictions about what a user might be searching for, based on common searches performed by other users:
The suggested searches can form a unique and sometimes moving series of phrases that read like poetry: they demonstrate poetic repetition, show a particular mood or theme, and evoke an emotional reaction in the reader. A recent example from November 5, 2013 demonstrates how these poems can be very moving. The first line shows what the poet typed, and the following four lines show Google’s suggested searches:
The result reads like a poem, with the repetition of the phrase “Though I” as a way of contrasting the different lines. It has the tone of a poem, speaking about love and death, which are common themes in poetry. It even makes the reader consider the deeper meaning behind the lines, such as what the poet “disagreed with” and whether the “departure” in the last line might be an implied death. These elements are all common in poetry, but is this really a poem? Three important questions emerge when considering this style of poetry. First, can such a poem be considered a creative or literary work, when it was randomly generated with very little influence from the poet? Second, can the poet truly be considered the author of the poem, when they didn’t write it, but instead discovered it? And third, should such poems be protected under copyright, or instead be considered part of the public domain?
I would argue that this type of randomly-generated poetry still qualifies as creative work, and I would even go so far as to call it literary work. Random House defines creativity as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.” With poetry, a poet transcends traditional rules about language by creating works that are unlike any normal language or written prose. They use various forms of structure, rhythm, meter, and rhyme to create something that has both an artistic form and a deeper meaning behind the words. These methods, however, become their own set of “rules,” which most traditional poets use to define what makes a poem a poem. The above poem shows some of these elements: there is a rhyme between the first two lines, and there is a structure in the use of “Though I” with the words “disagree, don’t, and depart.” By generating their poems randomly, however, Google poets are simply breaking another rule, the unwritten one where most poets assume they must choose each word of a poem themselves. This type of “found poetry” is not even unique to Google; for many years, poets have created works through such methods as cutting phrases out of books or collecting headlines from newspapers, then arranging their findings into a poetic form. Similarly, Google poets may experiment with various search phrases while searching for one that will bring them interesting results. They may be collecting their phrases from an outside source, but they still have a hand in the creative process. Not just any search phrase will make a good poem, and Google poets have a creative hand in finding the ones that will be the most inspiring.
These works are also literary in nature, rather than being mere forms of gimmicky entertainment. A literary work differs from other forms of creative works in that it holds a deeper meaning, or says something about life or society. This definition, however, is not exclusive to works that were generated in a certain form. A randomly generated poem can still hold a deeper meaning, particularly if the poet put a great deal of time and effort into searching until they found just the right poem. If a Google poet rejects multiple search results because they don’t hold the meaning they are trying to express, however, then this is no different from a traditional poet searching the thesaurus and rejecting multiple synonyms until they find just the right word. In the end, the result is still a creative work that the poet made through a certain process, regardless of whether part of that process is partially random.
Despite the fact that Google poems can be seen as creative and literary works, it can still be hard to consider who is the author of a poem. The Google Poetics site doesn’t list any of the authors, and in the FAQ for the site, they explain this by saying, “Typically the same poem, or nearly the same, is sent to us by several people.” This statement points out one of the flaws in “found poetry”: it can be found by more than one person. The Google search suggestions are based on a number of factors, and they can change over time depending on the recent trends in searches by all of Google’s users. Individual results may also change if a user is logged into their Google account, since Google will customize an individual’s search results based on their history. However, despite the differences, it’s possible for more than one person, typing in the same search results on the same day, to generate the same poem. Because of this, no one person can truly be considered the “author” of that poem. This could change with works that have a greater degree of personal control. For example, if a poet collected lines from Google and then rearranged them to send the message they wish to send, then they will be creating a work that is unique and differs from the results anyone else on Google could find. The unmodified search results, however (which comprise the majority of the results on the Google Poetics site) cannot truly be credited to any one author.
This question of authorship then leads into the question of copyright. If a poem cannot be considered to have a single author, can it be covered under copyright? The US Copyright Office defines the author of a work as “the creator of the original expression in a work.” When a poem is a found work, rather than an original work, it is difficult to consider the poet to truly be the creator of that work. Furthermore, the Google Terms of Service page says that “using our Services does not give you ownership of any intellectual property rights in our Services or the content you access.” Based on this, and due to the fact that it is Google’s computer code that actually generates these poems, it seems reasonable to say that any Google poems are in fact property of Google. Despite this, the Google Poetics website marks their content as copyrighted, and it may be with regard to their web page and how it displays the work posted there. However, since another poet could easily “find” the same poem on Google and post it separately on their own web page, the content itself is not covered under copyright law; only the format that the Google Poetics site uses to display it is covered. Since the Google poems on the site are posted as screenshots of the search results, and anyone can take the same screenshot from a different computer, Google Poetics cannot claim ownership over the work, only over their individual application of it.
Copyright laws may need to be updated as we continue moving into the digital age, and more grey areas like this emerge. In the meantime, poets creating this sort of randomly-generated work should use caution, and understand that the work that they post may not be considered their own. However, Google poems offer poets a new form of creative expression that, despite the differences from the norm, still result in original work that is clearly a product of their own talent and imagination.
Texting Harry Potter:
thoughts on writing, art, & new media by glassworks editorial staFF