Archive for September, 2011

Hatsune Miku: Intellectual Property and Legal Issues

As media and technology evolve and become widely available, once tightly-grasped communication channels and tools become devices common to a broad spectrum of consumers. With the increased availability of technology and the greater ease with which to share information and work, intellectual property can be difficult to police, and intellectual property issues become Continue reading

To be honest, when I saw the assignment titled “Hastune Miku Paradox” posted with our COMM 881 (Digital Narratives and Storytelling) items on the Adobe website, I was completely unsure who “she” was or the paradox surrounding “her”.  So being the dedicated graduate student I am, I googled Hatsune Miku and proceeded to read the Wikipedia article (the site we tell our students not to use) about her.  I figured this would allow me to gain a general background of Miku, allowing me to springboard Continue reading

What’s the Story???

It’s an interesting phenomenon.  Cognitive dissonance plays such a profound role in our everyday conception of the world that we sometimes overlook things that are normally peculiar, or perhaps abnormally regular.  However, when a story or image is so at odds with our expectations, the sensory overload brought on by cognitive dissonance is remarkable.  Watch the following video.  How is your Continue reading

Could Using Hatsune Miku Be Considered Fair Use?

I have never heard of Hatsune Miku before taking this class. However, the more I read about this, the more I’m surprised that software platforms similar to Vocaloid haven’t taken off yet in America, or maybe they have and I’m not aware of it. The concept of the software seems pretty appealing. In addition to a plethora of musical instruments that a user would find in GarageBand, a singing voice is available for the user to literately create songs without requiring any musical talent whatsoever. Strange as it sounds, maybe this is the reason why this type of software is still relatively Continue reading

Hatsune Miku has no Charles Schulz

As with some of my COMM 881 classmates, I had no idea what or who Hatsune Miku was prior to this assignment. Furthermore, as someone who has very little knowledge of virtual worlds, it took me awhile to get my head around Miku and the MANY creators it took to invent her. If I have this Continue reading

Author Brian Boyd begins his text with a quotes from Darwin  and Appiah and goes on to state that “our minds and behavior are always shaped by the interaction of nature and nurture.” This is is sound premise as are other proposals that the author states including Darwin’s core discovery that species are rigid but in continuous transformation. According to Boyd the multilevel selection theory states that any group can compete more effectively against other groups by minimizing within group fitness differences…….and that we are as a species are continuously adapting. he also refers to intelligence and cooperation….is a more intelligent person necessarily more cooperative and I must ask, what type of intelligence would lead to increased cooperation. This appears to be in direct contrast to Dawkin’s selfish gene theory and the survival of the fittest.

Boyd poses the question can evolution account for the constant and compulsive need to create complex, time consuming works of art of poses three theories of art, the first of which is memesis, or imititation.

  • For example music imitates the harmony and cosmos of the cosmos and soul…..he cites Bach’s preludes as a poor  example of mimesis but there are examples such as Mozart’s etudes that are a good example of the memetic theory of art. The Butterfly Etude is an example of a moving piece of music that does capture the beauty of the cosmos and nature.
  • He also cites Tolstoy“Art is a human activity, consisting in this, that one person consciously, by certain external signs, conveys to others feelings he has experienced, and other people are affected by these feelings and live them over in themselves.”Boyd suggests that biology is also necessary to explain the nature of art.Steven Pinker offers a splendidly fluent and lucid survey of evolutionary psychology. Pinker propounds the view that the mind has evolved under the shaping pressure of natural selection and that it has developed a number of mental “modules”–chunks of cognitive software–designed to solve specific adaptive problems. Apart from the sense organs, these postulated modules include adaptations for understanding arithmetic, logic, language, physical objects and forces, natural kinds (plants and animals), other human minds, kinship, social status relations, sexual behavior, parent-child relations, and the sense of individual identity.The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. We can add that nothing in culture makes sense except in the light of psychology. Evolution created psychology, and that is how it explains culture. (p. 210)
  • Boyd suggests that art is a kind of cognitive play….stimulus and training for a flexible mind…….as play does for the body.  The high concentrations of patterns engage and activate individual brains…..The functional relevance of adult neurogenesis is uncertain, but there is some evidence that hippocampal adult neurogenesis is important for learning and memory. Multiple mechanisms for the relationship between increased neurogenesis and improved cognition have been suggested, including computational theories to demonstrate that new neurons increase memory capacity,reduce interference between memories. Art appeals to our appetite for pattern…..refers to the poor ability of computers in pattern recognition but there is work being done (Bishop) in a statistical algorithm referred to as backpropagation in multi-layer perceptrons, (1996) and there has been increased success in these algorithms successfully predicting and recognizing patterns….something that has traditionally been exclusive to mammals.
  • Boyd makes some complex arguments about the importance of evolution, adaptation, and environment in our participation, understanding, and appreciation of art (music, songs, stories, dance, etc.) and suggests that cohesive societies actually engage in artforms that tend to increase cohesiveness and actually lead to increased survival.
  • Boyd presents some complex arguments concerning theories that will most likely remain very controversial for many years or even generations to come.

Universality and the Origins of stories

Brian Boyd’s book, “the Origin of Stories” attempts to put the human desire to make art in an adaptions context and explain by Darwinian logic, and storytelling exists as a means to helping humans survive.  Boyd makes the argument that “that genes shape us”. We are a product of our environment and that the randomness of genetic recombination in sexual reproduction result in an unpredictable generated variation which is unique to each of us rather than anything imposed from without.  I can to a certain degree agree in the formation of the human through genes but, does this argument carry forth to support the idea of a species that is embedded with storytelling messages that put forth messages for survival of the fit?  And, that we are victims to our biology? Are we all connected to psychic humankind? And, are we more about commonalities than differences? Boyd would argue yes, I would argue no.

My question is we merely surviving?  And, this question can be looked at in two ways.  First, is human nature about the survival of the fit?  And, that this idea is applicable to all of human nature. How do we explain that we are embedded with storytelling messages to put forth a fit species when we see  human’s making decision that actually are destroying human nature?  And, how do we explain the great inventions that have protected humans or made for a better way of leaving? Boyd suggests universality exists and focuses on what is common and avoids explaining our differences.  Boyd’s premise is that we share the same genetic wiring and our brains continually evolve to help us adapt successfully to our environment for survival. If we are all hardwired genetically the same wouldn’t we adapt the same to our environment?   My experience is that we are not all universal in our adaption to the environment nor do are we from the onset begin our human existence universal. Wouldn’t we work in cooperation to promote the survival of our species How do we explain that individuals that act without morality and want to destroy others like in on Sept 11 when hijackers flew planes into the world trade center.  This act seems not to be from an evolvement of our brain to a psychic humanity of storytelling embedded in humans from the past. Wouldn’t there be a universal story? Wouldn’t there be a morality we would all adapt to work in cooperation for survival? I do not think this is what he meant about survival of the fit?

Second, are we merely about surviving?  Is not art or storytelling more than an adaptation of survival? Boyd suggests that art as become ingrained in the psyche of species and the individual is an adapter with special functions.  This seems to be a contraction to the idea that we have universal concerns? Wouldn’t art contain universal concerns?   How do we explain technology or other inventions? Does all art contain adapted features for survival?  There is no discussion of the mind or “creative” intelligence or imagination.  He argues unevenly in favor of our commonalities and avoids discussion of depth to explain the mind, imagination and the differences that exist in the human species.

I would argue that there are more differences than universal commonalities. Where does intelligence come from? Where do great works of art come from? Or, great inventions or technology? And, why would we bother if our existence was about merely survival?  Do we communicate with our genes only? Or, does nature set an individual foundation for each of us that make us unique and then, we are nurture with our mind? Boyd attempts to push away the discussion of the mind and focus on cognitive functioning…there is no discussion of the human mind, or nurture or explanation of our differences which I believe is what separates humans from all other species and it is human’s ability to experience remarkable differences that make us human and create storytelling to help future generations to adapt to their environment.


Art of the Desert

On one occasion, I was selected along with some other students to participate in a nationwide competition for outstanding students. We had taken many special lessons in many fields of knowledge. At the Art section, one of the Art teachers asked us: “what is the definition of Art?” no one answered. Then, I tried to just through any answer to break the silence of the group; “Art is how to express your feelings,” I said.  Unexpectedly, the teacher said: exactly, the art is a tool of expression. “It is how to express yourself outside of yourself. It is the way to express feelings that you cannot explicit or reveal, he added. He continued to elaborate by saying that art gives you an alternative way of expression by producing a certain feeling through a piece of art. It could be a painting, a poem, a song, or a story.

After two decades, here I am reading Boyd’s book about the origin of stories. It is not the same argument. However, I think the author complicated the notion of art in the time it seems to be kind of obvious. I still remember the stories that have been transmitted to us by our ancestors regarding their lives prior to the discovery of oil. They used as most people in the Arabian Peninsula, to live in a desert. They used to suffer hunger, thirst, and weakness for days and months. Despite that, they lived these situations positively and productively with their imaginations. They used to draw dreams and feel the fiction that has become our reality. Many of my elderly relatives told me how they spent parts of their days and nights chanting for the nature, narrating tales of thirst and hunger that were exhausting their bodies. They made use of their imagination and fiction to turn a blind eye to their hard and troublesome lives. Dramatically, they have instilled hope in the depth of tragedy through the optimism and the rejection of grief.

Overall, I am not quite sure if I would agree or disagree with Boyd. Anyhow, the people of desert, despite their suffering, have created pieces of art. The inherited heritage we have, as Arabs, reflected the harsh life our ancestors had lived. We got this through their poetry, stories, and in changing heartbreaking tunes. Art is simple when it is the creation of the culture.

Initial Ramblings on Hatsune Miku

I’ll just go ahead and admit that I had no prior knowledge of Hatsune Miku prior to seeing the name listed in Buzzword.  As I discovered more, I had to fend off my biases with a bullwhip while I tried to figure out what the h-e-double-hockey sticks was going on.  To quote a guy my wife encountered in a theater showing Titanic during the scene of old Rose tossing the necklace into the ocean, “Now why’d you go and do a thing like that?!”

Then, as we self-proclaimed scholars are supposed to do, I began to peel back the layers, and I realized that behind the holographic concert image, this was simply the work of creative people pushing the Continue reading

Shake Up Your Story

Changing, or perhaps challenging, the perspective from which a story is told can have a profound effect on both the listener and the person telling the story.  Does Raghava KK remove the stigma of culture from storytelling by allowing the consumer to choose the perspective  most relevant to them?