Lecture liveblog 9-25-07

Jeff has been reading the blog, and he loves what is happening because it helps him to know what we know as well as what we don’t know and it’s apparent that we know phenomenology but we “don’t know dick” about structuralism.  He also noticed that we are mostly posting later in the week, he would like to see a more balanced usage of the blog if that’s possible.


Jeff will be giving his keynote from M3 “The Virtual” that he gave last week in Sweden, because he feels like it gives you a good knowledge of how to use structuralism in HCI without all the term memorization etc.


Massively Amateur Culture

Animutation, Machinima, and Virtual Fashion as HCI


Interaction design reflects culture

The designer is in culture, we are embedded in it.

Interaction design produces culture (facebook, youtube, SL)

These things are having a general societal impact

The design of software tools impacts the way and what we create, and that in turn impacts culture now.


Interaction Criticism

Rigorous evidence-based interpretive analysis that explicated relationships among elements of an interface and the meanings, affects, moods, intuitions, and social inclinations they produce in the people that interact with them; the immediate goal of this analysis is the generation of innovative design insights.

There is a disconnect between those who do this and those who could use it (HCI practitioners


Good reasons

Quality of life

HCI reasons

Understand how people appropriate technologies

Remain relevant in 3rd wave HCI



Interaction criticism in amateur multimedia

Tools share visual language

Over time languages evolve and share some qualities

AMM interacts with mainstream culture in interesting ways


The usable is the message

Not merely instrumental “tools” subject to human intention. The idea is prior to the tool, and some kinds of tools are better at doing different things.

More usable features become more used than others because of the amateur nature of it. E.g. the kids making this stuff don’t know Flash or other tools well, so they only use the top 5% easiest features in the tool.

The features that are used the most constitute visual language

How tools shape creativity

3 paradigms of art creation in multimedia tools

Where do the elements that you compose come from?

From scratch

From primitives (e.g. shapes, circle, rectangle etc. they are easy, most used)

From components (e.g. web component in flash, hard dialog box to set up)


Again we can see that where southpark has became more mainstream, it’s all primitives


The practice of Creativity

The acquisition of primitives

From authoring software tools, importing bitmaps, sounds, video

They all have management tools which are all similar

They all have composition (design or real-time)

We can see this in the Flash genre “animutation”


Shows video

Neil Ciccierega made this at age 14, and the kinds of things he used


Common Messages

Because we are using other people’s images when we make it, we by definition are importing all the baggage that comes with those images.

The “author” is put into the position where you can only comment on it, and that usually means parody.

It tends to be self-referential (i.e.

“also keep in mind that I can do relatively good animutation, it’s just that bad animation is better. Yah”–Niel C


Video by Keaton “Making an Internet Cartoon Tutorial” (albinoblacksheep)


Emergent Aesthetics: The parallel Histories of Machinima and Second Life Fashion


Machinima Basics

Video shot in video game environment

Started in 94 in Doom, and then in 96 in Quake

Was started as a way to boast, clan/guild identity and dialogue

Machinima Styles

Ludic machinima

Gameplay first, filmmaking and craft are secondary

Cinematic machinima

Gameplay is sometimes, but not always present, but storytelling and filmmaking and production are all primary.

Shows WoW Funeral video

Shows guild identity identity, us vs. them, and is typically ludic

Shows Warthog Jump: a Halo physics Experiment

While this is still ludic, this video reapprorpriates gameplay in an unintended way. This shows an emergent quality and falls into a sports video like “great moments in basketball” etc.

This video spawned a whole genre of physics and an emergent visual language

We are making meaning out of exploiting these elements in a particular way, as well as juxtaposing frank Sinatra (and it’s own attendant ideas) with blowing people up.

So people will use music in surprising ways to coincide with what’s happening on screen

Cinematic videos:

Skit: Shows Internet is for Porn (ave Q song) done in WoW

Uses built in gestures from wow are used to emulate singing, again showing how only easy things are used and that shapes culture


Sitcom: red vs. blue done in Halo

Uses the visual language of TV, using stationary cameras primarily, and


Music Video: Still seeing Breen done in Half Life

Very well done in the MTV visual style, quick cuts, showing someone lip syncing, then action that looks cool.


Notice that we have not even mentioned humans or lifeworld or anything, we are looking at “what is in there” and just the artifacts and what elements and structures they contain. We’re in structuralism here people!


Music Video 2 Big Blue Dress done in WoW

This video has a number of different qualities, but interestingly it has an original song, but it does show some ludic elements of damage dealing (this guy pwns), but then it cuts to signing/dancing elves for the chorus.


Transgressive Art (to Heaven made in Halo)

They are raging against the nature of the tool they are using (Halo shoot em up death w/out consequences) and the use of the soundtrack . This video shoots master chief from above making him look smaller. The twilight setting makes the colors mutes. It shows him being sad, and uses an extreme close-up which seems particularly daring in this context since he has no face. This is structuralism because it is borrowing from a visual language


Experimental Art: the 1K project

Shows all the cars doing through the same course. So while it evokes very natural patterns that are almost organic in appearance, this is all done in a game, and is ludic in nature and it’s freakin cars flying and crashing.


Two generative Strategies

Features Gameplay (most of them, but not all)

Shows off how good you are etc

Fuse gameplay and other cultural forms

Comments on both the game, but on mainstream culture as well

Modernism/Futurism because it uses new forms that shock the senses and enable new messages

Similarity in that it includes bricolage and pastiche


Dominant Characteristics

Demonstrate mastery (cred)

Gameplay extends beyond the game


Virtual Fashion

SL is a user-created virtual world

People got really good at doing this and people naturally want to customize their avatars and stuff.

There are now fashion mags in SL (Second Style) and it uses the same visual language as vogue etc.

Avatar design is multimedia authoring

Libraries (inventory dystem)

Body as canvas etc

Creation of SL Fashion Items


From scratch



Usability issues discourage creating from scratch

Usability problems, flexibility and cost discourage making things from components

Messages of SL Fashion

“outfits” (ready-made and sold collections of items) are the easiest way to do that because of management issues.

There is no functional purpose to clothes in SL, they don’t protect you etc

Stylization of the self which leads to:=

Fetish/subculture, punk, goth, S&M

IRL we need to have pants that match a bunch of stuff, but not so ISL


A Critical Language of SL Fashion

SL Fashion blogs on what makes good fashion, when you add all this stuff up it becomes a language of fashion in SL. This includes conversation on how designers have overcome technical difficulties.

Conveys the right symbolic lifestyle

Facilitates interaction


“I can hardly do anything but admire the technical construction — the lace tops of the stockings with hardly any distortion, strswss wrinkles on the side panels — just fantastic” — Second Style Fasnista

This coat looks great and will be used when it gets cold. This is where phenomenology starts to come back in because now the weather is getting colder here IRL, but not ISL. We are bringing in our lifeworlds etc into a place where they are meaningless.


HyeWon’s question that we will, start with next time:

Amateur vs. professional: what happens now?


  1. Tyler Pace

    Liveblog = good!

    Decontextualized notes = going to have to find someone and get some answers!

  2. jeffreybardzell

    Well, if you weren’t cosplaying in Tokyo, you wouldn’t have missed out. You need to reexamine your priorities!


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