Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Post 3: The postive side of technology.

This document is a cartoon published in the Houston Chronicle by the cartoonist Nick Anderson. Anderson is a renowned cartoonist, who has published in famous newspapers such as The New York Times or The Washington Post. He is also a winner of the famous Pulitzer prize. The date is not stated in the cartoon itself, although it's clear that it was published in the twentieth century. The cartoon deals with a much debated topic on a humorous key: the benefits of technology. 
The cartoon is made up of a drawing and a caption, representing a classroom, probably in elementary school. In the background we can notice a blackboard and a teacher sitting by her desk with the typical apple. In the foreground there are three students, two of them listening to the other, who is putting his hand up and formulating a question: "How come Lewis and Clark didn't just use MapQuest?"
We can guess the scene takes place in a history class in the United States of America, because Lewis and Clark were two famous explorers of the nineteenth century who were sent by president Jefferson to explore and map the newly acquired territory. 
"MapQuest" is a free online mapping service. 

The cartoonist suggests that technologies have had an important impact on our lives. Indeed, that is what the little boy implies when he asks what is evident for him: why didn't they just use a device provided by technology to help them with their task, instead of having to travel through North America mapping the whole country precisely? The author's aim is therefore not to critize but merely to show how much technologies have changed our everyday lives. Anderson is playing here with a child's innocent question to add the humour touch he needs. Maybe he wished to convey, on a deeper level, the fact that we are unaware of the importance of technology in today's world. In other words, he might be implying that we take technology for granted and that we cannot begin to imagine how our lives would be like without it. 

On the whole, the message put across by the cartoonist would be the power of technology nowadays, which allows us to do things in a much shorter space of time, or simply with less effort than before. Although this could be considered as the principal message, there might be another message, much more implicit message. Anderson could be suggesting that society and particularly young boys and girls do not realize the benefits of technology and take it too much for granted. 

I personnaly believe that this cartoon has been very carefully thought-out. Anderson has made an effort to represent what a regular american elementary school class would look like: the scene could take place in any school in the USA. The situation might be a bit exaggerated; any kid these days knows that in the nineteenth century computers or internet didn't exist. But then again, humorous cartoons tend to exaggerate in order to accentuate precisely the humor of the whole situation. In my personal opinion, the cartoon does convey its message effectively and is likely to amuse its readers. 
I agree to a certain point with the author, indeed, technologies have a positive side, and therefore do make our lives beter and easier. But it's important to remember that they have a down-side aswell: technologies like smartphones or social networks can cause addictions and alienation from the real world. 

Finally, this cartoon shows how, in a way, humanity has been spoiled by technology and how many could not live without it. Technologies are a wonder created by humans, indeed, but it seems that we have forgotten that it is fairly new, and that most of Humankind's history had taken place without any high-technology whatsoever! Indeed, this cartoon shows a postive side of technology. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Post 2: Videos

When technology is too much


-This video is structured around two main narrative voices and a character illustrating what the voice-over says while the singer often merely reports what's just been said.
-The setting is a Christian home and church. so this particular context is particularly meaningful. We can notice on various occasions that the main character is addicted to high-tech products, mostly smartphones.
He is shown as a family man unable to interact with his wife, except through texting.
He is also shown as a church-goer incapable of attending worship without all his phones vibrating all the time, making him look like he's full of the holy spirit.
Finally  he is depicted as a computer guru who's life has become extremely complicated instead of having been simplified.


Basically, this video means that high tehnology has become a religion for many people, even christians who are not supposed to be materialistic.
Then, in a christian lifestyle, quite a few church-goers and believers tend to focus more on materialistic issues than on spiritual ones.
We can add that technology reigns supreme for many people who revere it as a God enlightening his followers.
The question is, is this real progress for humanity?

When technology is missing


- Two people are stuck on an escalator in a place that seems literally empty. The man looks annoyed. He might be an office worker walking to his job. 
The woman claims that she's already late, so for her this is the last straw. 
At one point, she's about to cru and asks for a phone and yells for help. 
In short, the two of them look helpless. 


- We can relate this situation to a fairly common one: getting stuck on an elevator. 
The difference is, however, that in this situation there is no reason whatsover to panic.
The video points out the reliance of human beings on technology. 
If it goes missing, it is as if a crutch had been taken away, so these two people cannot walk up the escalator, which would be the normal thing to do. We could think that technological progress makes humans lazy or at less prone to take iniciatives. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Post 1: A cartoon

 This document is a cartoon published in the International Herald Tribune by the popular cartoonist Chapatte.
 It is undated although we can guess it was issued in spring, since the Cannes festival usually takes place at that time of the year. Thanks to the speech bubble, we can say that the cartoon deals with the issue of piracy, a much-debated topic. Indeed, many disagree about the limits of piracy. Some believe it is an amazing technological progress that gives access to culture in all its forms (movies, songs, albums, books...) but others believe that it is a form of intellectual copyright infringement.

The young man, wearing the "@" t-shirt, with a speech bubble saying: "I love your movies. I've pirated them all!" is what catches the eye at first sight. He looks fairly young, so he could even be a teenager. Then we see a beautiful woman wearing a long dress, next to a man in black jacket and sunglasses who is signing an autograph for the teenager. We can assume that he is a film director. In the top left corner there is a sign indicating that it is the Cannes film festival. Finally, different fans and photographers are depicted in the background.

But what does the author wish to convey with this cartoon? Indeed, he is suggesting that the limits of piracy are fading, and therefore we don't know where piracy stops being a wonder of technology and  starts being a crime. While posing this problem, the author also tackles with a very persistent issue: the exaggerated fanaticism of our society towards the show world in general (actors and singers aswell as directors). This is stated by the different fans screaming in the background, more precisely in the right side. Chapatte satirizes  this world, which he finds ridiculous. His aim is therefore to raise the readers awareness about the piracy issue.

On the whole, the message put across by the author is that times are changing and that we should ask ourselves where the limits are. To what extent should piracy be legal? Is the fan's attitude being completely over the top and even sickly? Undoubtedly, the author has carefully thought-out the cartoon, leaving the readers small "clues" to influence them.

In my opinion,  the cartoon is pretty effective and especially easy to understand. It is a way for the author to convey the message to an even larger group of readers. Because of its simplicity, the cartoon doesn't develop much the subject of piracy, so it leaves that task to the reader and public in general. Chapatte wants us to think by ourselves, and have our own opinion. I personally believe that the cartoon is definitely clever enough to influence the readers.

Finally, the situation illustrated by the cartoon reminds me of the film footage there is of, for example, The Beatles' concerts: huge cheering crowds of young teenagers, screeching and running at the sight of their idols. Undeniably, this scene is very likely to take place anywhere developed in the world, where the masses live in a fake world, filled with the lives of others, the lives of their idols, which might end up being more important than the own individual's life.