Space Race

The term database in itself always conjures one word in my head: Wikipedia. Used oftentimes everyday by NYU students, it’s one of the most extensive databases available and I find that in a since it is both a narrative and a database. Upon first entering the sight, one has the option of searching or clicking onto a variety of topics. But, once one has reached their topic, the data is always presented in a narrative style. If you wiki Beyonce, her page presents her life early childhood, to her breakthrough into music, a career with Destiny’s Child and keeps on listing data until we reach the present. Not only that, but at the bottom of most wiki entries, in keeping with a database format there are links to other pages of data, at the bottom of Beyonce’s one can access her discography or a little less related, one can access a roster of other Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Models.

In addition, the Wikipedia database can be thought of as syntagm and paradigm as well. When one jumps to a particular page, what’s in front of you is the model or interface that has been prepared.We see a finished product that presents as much data based on a particular topic. Thus the web page is explict. But, if one chooses to, they can can manipulate the text or data on the web page, making the imaginary real, directly affecting what’s in front of their eyes. This is why many professors and authorities feel that Wikipedia is not a credible source, because anyone has the ability to manipulate it. Personally, I’ve conducted searches where the results have been spliced with naughty words or personal attacks, just to see it anyone notices.

Something else I find fascinating that connects to the Wiki database is Wiki Race. Wiki Race, is in a way someone trying to use a database to produce a narrative. On Wikirace.org, one can engage in a game where they can click through successive links in order to reach a new target-topic. One example is Curry-Michael Phelps. The two topics are very unrelated, but when playing wikirace, one starts at Curry and links to different pages until they reach Michael Phelps. What we are left with is a series of web pages, that while they aren’t narrative, they still lead from point A to Point B in the way a narrative explains things from point A to point B.

On another note, one thing I found especially intriguing from the two class videos was the music. The video for Catalog shows a series of John Witney’s analogue work, but as futuristic as the images may scene, one might expect something very uptempo or techno-like. On the contrary, the music was very somber and classical. This immediately made me think of a similar phenomenon in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the legendary opening features dramatic and out-of-this-world images set to Richard Srauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. Stanley Kubric, the director of the film, is known for choosing nonverbal music for the film because he didn’t want to rely on the traditional techniques of narrative cinema. Which in a way was forming a database between the music and the film, two unrelated concepts, presented together. Here’s a link to the films opening scene.

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6 responses to “Space Race

  1. Your music connection kind of reminds me of the theramin.

    A theramin is a musical instrument that is played without being touched. It works by detecting the hand movements of the player via two metal rods.

    It’s just another example of two unconnected entities affecting each other–like the audio and visual of a movie.

  2. I found this relationship between narrative and database very interesting, particularly how the two forms intersect through databases such as Wikipedia. This made me wonder if narratives are the most natural way for people to understand data. When confronted by a database the shear amount of information can seem overwhelming. So, people need to format each entry as a story so that they can cope with and remember the information. This reminds me of the folk tales that many tribal people have used to remember useful information, including important landmarks and where water can be found. This is essentially a narrative being used to make sense of and help remember an internal database.

  3. At one point in the chapter, Manovich says it is surprising that narratives still exist in new media. Later, he says that we want new media narratives but we want them to be different than the narratives of old media.

    Do you remember your first computer and the CDs you had for it? The Encyclopedia, the Atlas, the Around The World in 80 Days Game, and the Berenstain Bears book? Okay, maybe that list is a little tailored, but you get the idea. CD-ROMs back in 1997 borrowed more narrative style from older media than they do now. The encyclopedias, atlases and books we’re databases, sure, and you could interact with them, but they were nothing like their current counterparts. The new media narrative has made strides since 1997. I think it will be interesting to see where the future will take new media narratives because it seems like we won’t be letting them go anytime soon.

    The truth is I think we need narratives. They act as filters. A database it just a compilation of information and narratives, like interfaces, help us sift through it.

    • Berenstein Bears!!! I used to be OBSESSED with those books. I decided to look them up on Google after seeing this, and it is crazy to see how ‘upgraded’ they have become. The website turned what was once limited to printed narratives into an interactive virtual playground for Berenstein Bear fans. Definitely not what it used to be.

      http://www.berenstainbears.com/

  4. For some reason, I don’t have the option to create my own post…anyone care to help? Please :/

  5. Pingback: It’s a Small World After All « Introduction to Digital Media

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