All posts by blykat

Tashirojima-Cat Island

The link of my digital essay Museum in the Future:

Noticed Katie changed her website background page from a picture filled with lovely cats to a more philosophical image (to suit better to her digital essay’s theme), I would like to stretch the topic of “cat” a bit more from a fresh angle (which is not directly connected with “Writing” or “Digital” theme, but all thanks to the world-wide web that I am able to access those adorable cat pictures).

Long time people around the world have picked up Japanese love cats: 招き猫, Hello Kitty, cat cafes (I went to one in Tokyo, very pinky soft and relaxing, highly recommend) and cat accessories and cat mascots all over the streets. But there is one spot in Japan called Cat Island, where the cats are outnumber the humans.

The Cat Island, 田代島(たしろじま) or Tashirojima in pronunciation, lies off the west coast of Japan. The island has a history of silk farming and originally cats were brought onto the island to keep mice out of the silk farms. While now the silk farms are largely gone, the long existed creature, cat, never ceased to popularize its species.

Tashirojima isn’t a large island, currently it has the population of less than 100, with most working in fishing tradition. In these past years, the island has become a place of tourist interest, thanks to the cats, with many visiting to take a look for themselves of this village where cats are outnumber humans. The local governance believes feeding cats bring good fortune, so even the cats are strays, every household keeps them well fed and checked up on to be healthy.

The saying always goes that cats and dogs can’t keep best terms with each other. Not surprisingly, if a visitor is thinking of coming with the pet dog, he or she probably has to give up the plan and be prepared to leave the poor puppy at the dock on the mainland. The regulations of the island prohibited any dogs to be on the dock, and there aren’t any dogs in local households either.

This website,

Tashirojima, Cat Island
Tashirojima, Cat Island –has a whole gallery of cats. specially showed gorgeous photographs of the cats and the island, recounting its history and current population.Capture009 (click the image) gathered very neatly written captions for each image of the island:


This tiny island has quite developed service industry for tourists and abundant offers for amenities. Any cat lovers who would like to enjoy the company of a furry feline, or just want to see these cuddly creature strolling on their paradise home Tashirojima, can consider to take a trip during this summer break for a treat!

Nicholas Carr: I worry but The Shallows is Not Anti-Net


Professor Joe Harris kindly introduced to me a book by Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains and I flipped open during a few hours of break in between exams. 9778945And I began devouring it. Because once started reading, I couldn’t stop. Upon finishing it, although I wasn’t entirely convinced by all the assertions Carr sets forth, the book has many powerful cases and well-crafted passages that it is worthwhile to share with other readers.

Nicholas Carr is the writer of the famous controversial Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid and the former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review. His arguments through chapters, though covering a range of online experience-related themes, is not too difficult to summarize into one main focus: the fact that we are spending a big amount of time online jeopardizes us to think deeply, to read intensively, and to remember things – it is not just the content we encounter via the Net poses threat, but, more importantly, is the side effect from the medium through which these contents are transmitted and consumed; more so, Carr says the change is not limited to a deleterious effect on the way we think, but impacts the neural structures in our brains that enable thinking.

What made this book unique is the two notions he puts forward: the loss of “deep reading” (5) and “neuroplasticity” (34)- the discovery that the brain is not hard-wired during childhood, but constantly forms new connections as we acquire new skills, or let old ones lapse.

For the first notion, deep reading, Carr argues that the always-on, clicking-in multitasking online mode is rotting our brains, or at least, rewiring our cognition and “patterns of perception” (3) beyond a function of a tool, which people have believed technology to be. He remarks his concentration in reading “starts to drift after a page or two” and his brain begins “looking for something else to do” (5). The deep reading, the way of immersing oneself into a book and fully engaging with all the twists and turns that used to come naturally, now has become a struggle. He worries that the calm, focused, undistracted linear mind “is being pushed aside by a new kind of mind that wants and needs to take in and dole out information in short, disjointed, often overlapping bursts – the faster the better” (10).


It is worrisome that the volume of information which we are able to access along with associated practices of multitasking and skimming are resulting in “a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: we are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gathers in the electronic data forest” (138). While it is safe to rebuttal that skimming and browsing literary pieces is highly necessary, Carr tightly follows up his standpoint, saying “there’s nothing wrong with browsing and scanning,” but what is different is that “skimming is becoming our dominant mode of reading. Once a means to an end, a way to identify information for deeper study, scanning becomes an end in itself — our preferred way of gathering and making sense of information of all sorts.” (138)

The second notion, neuroplasticity, is building on the scientific researchers’ work such as Michael Greenberg and Alvaro Pascual- Leone upon which Carr argues that maps, clocks, written words, books and other tools human has used is to “support or extend his nervous system” (46) while the impact of intellectual technologies does much more beyond stretching the processing ability of human’s mind as map or clock did upon their invention. Carr’s opinion expressed eloquently in the text:

It’s not just that we tend to use the Net regularly, even obsessively. It’s that the Net delivers precisely the kind of sensory and cognitive stimuli — repetitive, intensive, interactive, addictive– that have been shown to result in strong and rapid alterations in brain circuits and functions.

The Shallow is however not an anti-technology rant or “a manifesto for Luddites,”  for Nicholas Carr is worrying how much the Net has washed off our undisrupted attention and he is raising up caution to the public that the Net has caused alternations in human brain circuits and functions. Granted Nicholas Carr is wedging through the pessimistic side on Internet and I can also sense the wrapping up of the book exerts a tone that is not uplifting, we at least equipped with better understanding that the Internet enhances certain cognitive skills and deactivates others. For interesting and thought-provoking readings, there are a few resources worth checking out–

Nicholas Carr blog homepage: ;

the article he published in The Atlantic:;

Interview with Bigthink:


Bauerlein–Arguments on Digital Writing, To Be Continued

The resource I would like to contribute to our class is a site of blog articles by Mark Bauerlein. To provide some useful background information, Bauerlein is the author of book The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future untitledand later he edited book the Digital Divide: Arguments for and against Facebook, Google, Texting and the Age of Social. His blog articles concerns the teaching of English,  topics ranging from why majoring in English, difficulty of recruiting students for Humanities, the destruction of English Language, digital divide, Googlization, so on and so forth. Mark himself is the Director of the Office of Research and Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts, the professor of English at Emory University and a periodical writer for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and Chronicle of Higher Education.hqdefault

The point I particularly interested in arguing is concerning the purpose of Bauerlein’s published books, the Digital Divide: Arguments for and against Facebook, Google, Texting and the Age of Social Networking that we mentioned in the beginning. I do not completely agree with what Author Jason Jones stated that The Digital Divide functions mostly as an “assembly” of essays by intellectuals, and is best suited for ” anyone who are looking for an orientation about web writing, computing and digital culture.” Jason said people shall spare the money from purchasing Bauerlein’s book, because people can always download these contributed articles contributed to the book online.phobia

Have read the book myself to gain a sense of digital culture’s potential and challenges for our course, I consider Bauerlein’s focus on The Digital Divide is not focusing on “assembling” articles on a common theme, but on “arguments for and against” digital writing and social media. As an editor, he retreated himself from the debate of for or against but used the book to debute supporters and protesters from the canvas of past 15 years to join a conversation about how the web has and will continue to affect society and learning. To me, The Digital Divide is almost a mini-history that offers readers a series of analytical arguments about digital technology and social networking. It delivers to the public like us so that we can read what the most trenchant voices have said on both sides of the issues. Bauerlein acted as the director, who pulls together the intellectuals on two sides to debate. The reason for him to withdraw from the debate is that he intended to come off with balanced volume to present to the readers.

In The Dumbest Generation, BimagesCALPTIKEauerlein already expressed his personal standpoint, which is strongly against digital technology in hands of the young and leisure lives:

We have entered the Information Age, traveled the Information Superhighway, spawned a Knowledge Economy, undergone the Digital Revolution, converted manual workers into knowledge workers, & promoted a Creative Class, and we anticipate a Conceptual Age to be.” (8) However, “while the world has provided them extraordinary chances to gain knowledge & improve their reading/ writing skills, not to mention offering financial incentives to do so, young Americans today are no more learned or skillful than their predecessors, no more knowledgeable, fluent, up-to-date, or inquisitive, except in the materials of youth culture. They don’t know any more history or civics, economics or science, literature or current events. They read less on their own. . . [and] in fact, their technology skills fall well short of the common claim, too, especially when they must apply them to research & workplace skills.” (8)

Yet intellectuals who those who criticized his previous book The Dumbest Generation, such as Clay Shirky, Jakob Nielsen, and Cathy Davidson, contributed their essay to The Digital Divide as the opposite side of the argument (that digital age benefits people) which itself opened up an important questionhow to deal with people who have he raised up the question, how to deal with people who have different opinions than yours on one subject. This is what respect about Bauerlein’s philosophy behind this book, that he did not refuse to acknowledge critics but very well aware it is an open discussion, that anyone who assumes he or she has the final say on a radical topic such as the digital age and social media is arrogant and an attempt to close off the discussion. What I interpreted from reading his introduction is that he wants to stretch the meaning and advance the debate, therefore readers will be provided with more latitude in understanding of what digital age means, and come to their own conclusion during the learning.

Our course Writing in a Digital Age opened a door for further research on how information will be organized and used, and how students desire to attain instruction and how teachers can better  deliver new information to a group of students who think and behave in ways that have been altered by social media and digital technology.



Griots is Here for Community

In Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age, Adam J Banks uses “griots” as a central reception point for building his rational arguments on the connection between African American cultures and innovation, new media engagement and community building, because griots “tells the stories, carries the history, interprets the news, mediates the disputes” (25). As the griots custom is one of the fundamental concept, it is worthwhile to exam this practice before responding to Adam’s writing.griots-mauritaniens-375x251 The griots is part of a west African tradition of storytelling and oral history. Researches have shown that its role is based on the community’s need to maintain its identity through shared ancestry and myths. In many communities, the griots, along with the artistic crafts and music, embodied the heritage and traditions of the community. P1010803African’s primary vehicle for carrying these information were story-telling, music and dance.

In this sense, Adam combines griots with digital media because griots has been an incorporation with multiple performing formats – this is what makes the presentation of griots informative and entertaining, with all valuable ancestries passing down to the young in the community, therefore griots has already embedded with hybrid artistry media formats. It also bears the fluid nature of oral transmission of knowledge which helps the stories take on a mythic quality that imbued the facts with communal importance. If retrieving the history, the African-American have had this tradition of storytelling that provide entertaining and knowledge base during slavery. Now Adam Banks ventures to a new approach to continue the storytelling tradition yet by using technology and social media to convey the messages. Even though Banks argument in the opening appears to cover two areas of contemporary academic concern: African-American rhetoric, and multimedia writing, he is actually concerning the central question of how to apply academic digital griots/ DJ writing to help build and strengthen the community and the need to find openings to use multimedia practices in purposeful ways. This notion that Adam Banks spins off is meant to inspire non-academic communities to think themselves as digital griots. In doing so, these communities can “develop writing and rhetorical practices that link” oral, print, and digital traditions and literacy, rather that seeing each as a separate mode of communication.

The Benefits of Museum Materials’ Digitalization


On March 27, 2014, I had the opportunity to participate in an event’s Reception meeting at Holocaust Museum Houston(HMH). Upon visit, I was amazed by their digitalized collection exhibit and online archival documents. Their collections were displayed in the self-guide iPad, and background stories of this event “The Rescuers” were live on the TV screen hanging over the wall. This experience inspired me to set my thesis on museum in digital age, to explore the current form of museum exhibition and collection that has adopted technology.

I brought my question of what factors driving HMH vastly embracing digitalization to one of our guides, Manuel, and his response was out of my expectation. Without stating “we are doing this to adjust the 21 century of technology”, he remarked that it is because of the government and funding agencies requested HMH to achieve a wider public connection by “putting everything online”, and therefore it will facilitate circulation by displaying “everything we got on our website so the members can see it, show it to their friends, share it on their social media.”

The tension exists in the fact that not everyone is in favor of this transformation. Some administrators in the museum argue that the materiality of collections is being torn apart as photos, graphs, videos, films are taking the lead and substituting the museum’s physical asset. The purpose of the thesis is to illustrate the benefits of combining museum’s historical relics with digitalization, listing five ways applied by museums to adjust the modern age of technology. It will shed the light on the fact that digitalization approach will not endanger the existence of assets of the past.

A case study of a specific museum can serve better to analyze the topic of this thesis that avoids generalizing of the topic and oversizing of the research paper. One primary case of research is Winterthur Museum. When Henry Du Pont founded Winterthur Museum in 1951, his focus was on creating an outstanding naturalistic, horticultural garden and a dairy barn farm. the look of loveWith the establishment of Art Conservation Program between Winterthur Museum and University of Delaware in 1974, its library earned a huge popularity which in turn brought an increasing demand for digitized manuscripts, visual and audio materials. In The Look of Love, its last winter’s Jeweled portraits of the eye of the lover, Winterthur Museum applied iPad app as the self-tour guide, free distributed to all visitors to enable them tap, click and see the brooches, rings up-close. Its current Downton Abbey, exhibiting the costumes worn in the British TV show Downton Abbey, downton-abbey-winterthurencompasses Carnival Film footage, Television clips and photos, all play right in the exhibition hall. Though there are more examples and better analysis needed, they showcased the proper deployment of digital media will not interfere the unique functionality or sacrifice the original form of each exhibited items.

The Five approaches up to this stage of my understanding are:

Using Social Media to open the personal dialogue with visitors;

Blog: breaking down the walls of inaccessibility;

Emerging cultural differences to attract oversee tourists;

Mobilizing visit;

Digital Museum creating augmented experience: “Edutainment”.

To enrich the arguments, further researches need to be incorporated into illustrating the 5 approaches mentioned above.

The first draft will be submitted on April 29 and the final thesis will be completed on May 13th.

Creative Commons: Is it the Real Solution of Freeing Up Remix

Lawrence Lessig’s background at the non-profit organization Creative Commons plays an important part in extending my personal interpretation to his 2008 published book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.Interestingly, Remix has already indicated its goal is negotiating in between two opposite sides to reach a solution, on the page right under the book cover, that this book is dedicated to L. Ray Patterson and Jack Valenti. It captured my attention immediately because as we all know, Jack Vlenti was the father of creating the MPAA film rating system jack-valenti-wil-lgand a minute later, my research yield the information that Valenti was the lobbyists for Digital Millennium Copyright Act because he contended that Internet would severely damage the recording and movie industries. So my first reaction was that this book is supporting whatever Jack Valenti had strongly asserted his position upon. Simply typed “L. Ray Patterson”, the other figure this book is devoted to, into the name search on Google, I was surprised to see Lyman Ray Patterson was indeed the author of Copyright in Historical Perspective, the so-called ‘Bible’ of introduction to Copyright Law in a course I took during my previous education.tabb_web41FNHW2KAPL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

His name is later coined to the Patterson Copyright Award because he focused on supporting the protection to information access and opposed to excessive privileges for publishers.

Why Lawrence Lessig, previously a professor of law at Stanford Law School and now at Harvard Law School, chose to devote his work to two figures who were leading representatives on two opposite sides? I consider Lessig is seeking a moderate standpoint in the midst of heated copyright&creation debate, and his Creative Commons is the attempted solution Lessig has been devoting to.  As the co-director and founder of the Center for Internet and Society and a founding board member of Creative Commons(CC), he once stated CC’s mission is to “enable the sharing and the use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools” and CC licenses provide easy transformation of copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved” while it intents not to be “an alternative” to copyright, but to “work alongside copy”, to “modify your copyright terms to best suit your needs.”

Creative Commons License-give everyone a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permission to their creative work.

Thus the goal for Creative Commons is apparently to solve a problem the conflict between the rich online platform for creativity and remix with the copyright restriction and if referring to Remix and the majority of other books by Lawrence Lessig, his academic writings, and the blog posts, they mostly carry the same vision, that it admits “copyright law regulates culture in America”, while “copyright law must be changed. Changed, not abolished” (254) and that his mission as a founding board member of Creative Commons, is to ensure that copyright law shall allow integrating, remixing, which better serves encouraging creativity, not ended up feeding power control or suffocating creativity.

So the theme rational behind Lessig’s book is to anwer two questions: what does copyright prevent and prohibit currently and what changes should be made to it. The author embarks the discussion of the first question by exploring the differences between Read/Only culture with Read/Write (RO & RW). His narration first traces back to the history of American copyright in 1976, arguing that when Congress increased copyright control, the system, combining with today’s software code, has quickly expanded to granting the powers to copyright holders over not only original forms, but derivative expressions like amateur performances. It locks down culture, stifling creativity and keeping amateurs from adding value to the work of professional creators. 00221917e13e1112abcb12Read/Only culture creates “me-regarding”  economy, in which creators maintain near complete control over the terms and conditions under which their creations may be experienced; whereas in “Read/Write” culture fosters “we-regarding” economy, which helps leveraging labors to different functionality that can “better support its shared aims” (177).Spark130530-fig2-F To solve the problem of copyright, Lessig again endorses a proposal of “authorizing a simple blanket licensing procedure, whereby users could, for a low fee, buy the right to freely file-share” that we could possibly “decriminalizing file sharing” (271). However to thoroughly consider this proposal of shared blanket licensing process, wouldn’t it inevitably still need some type of mandatory rules, if not legislation, to determine A. who have contributed to the group creation? B. How to “track and tag” who downloaded the material? C. What amount should each individual create? D. How to promote this philosophy to artists, authors who believe in the copyright protection is more valuable than sharing or co-creating?

I certainly touched by Lessig’s relentless persistence to seek out a solution and devoted to found the Creative Commons organization to stretch the limits of copyright regulation, relinquish oxygen for creativity to breathe. However the collective licensing he suggested indeed introduced a new layer of complexity for regulation and rights protection. There is still a long journey ahead to explore and better the solution in dealing with copyright& remix creation related challenges that we are already facing today.