Blog Option #1: Old/New

Old/New Media Meme

Due: Sunday, February 2 (by 8pm)

Building on the week 2 readings and lecture on the old/new media dichotomy, you will pick a media object and discuss how discourses of “newness” and/or “obsolescence” around that object are constructed through a meme and a blog post that critically engages with Tom Gunning’s essay “Re-Newing Old Technologies.”  You can pick any media object (Google Glass, Friendster, VCR, iPads, Snapchat, Game Boy, Kickstarter, etc.) to research, but pick something specific (not, for example “video games” or “smart phones”).

Gunning contends that it’s increasingly important to consider the origins and history of emergent technologies.  To begin this “archeology,” ask yourself the following questions:

  • What was the cultural response to this object/technology when it emerged, how was it perceived?  Was it perceived differently by different groups?  Has the perception of it changed over time?
  • How was promoted (if it was promoted), and what do advertisements (images or commercials) tell us about the hopes and anxieties around emergent technologies?
  • Is this object (or platform, or app) merely an extension of a prior technology, or does it mark a true innovation in how media and/or culture is produced and consumed?
  • Per Gunning’s article, does this object represent any breakdowns in established binaries or ways of thinking (consider his discussion of the telephone representing a simultaneous presence and absence, or the collapse of space and time brought on by planes/trains)?

After you do this research, you will create a version of the “What People Think I Do/What I Really Do” meme that became popular in 2012, using this generator.  Here’s a good example from last semester’s class:


As you can see, the meme’s form plays with perception vs. reality, and yours should similarly offer a (potentially humorous) commentary on perceptions vs. reality of the media technology you’ve picked.  This particular meme clearly conveys how various groups conceptualize Facebook (accordingly, you’re not allowed to select Facebook as your object).  If you’re picking an older/obsolete object, that might include how people perceived the object then, and how it’s perceived now.

You are required to include “What it really does” as the final frame of the meme, but other than that you can select from any of the following for the other five frames:

  • “What I think it does”
  • “What my parents think it does”
  • “What journalists think it does”
  • “What society thinks it does”
  • “What my friends think it does”
  • “What my teachers think it does”
  • “What tech bloggers think it does”
  • “What my grandparents think it does”
  • “What TV/movies think it does”
  • Create your own [for one of the categories]

Once you’ve completed your meme and saved it, you will compose a 350-500 word blog post (with your meme embedded in the post).  This post should spend 1-2 sentences offering some historical background on the object you’ve selected, and the rest should critically engage with your meme through concepts from Tom Gunning’s essay “Re-Newing Old Technologies.”  In short, this post will also function as a reading response, in which you convey that you’ve read, understood, and can mobilize Gunning’s argument in your own work.  Some of his ideas you might consider structuring your post around include (among others):

  • Onian’s 4 stages of amazement
  • Defamiliarization
  • The uncanny nature of emerging technologies
  • The importance of taking an archeological approach to technology

Though this is a blog post, it’s a scholarly blog post, so make sure you’re citing correctly (endnotes and/or parentheticals in the body of your post with a works cited list).  You will graded on the following:

  • The clarity of your meme in conveying how the object you’ve selected is conceptualized by various groups
  • Your understanding and critical application of Gunning’s essay
  • Your analysis of your meme (in short, the post should create a critical conversation between your meme and key concepts from Gunning’s essay)
  • Style/Mechanics (including citations)

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