The Technological Changes of Music Production

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, we see can observe many changes that have taken place. Music production is an area where this is just as apparent. If we look back just 100 years, more technologically advanced countries are almost unrecognizable from their dated counterpart. Music has almost fundamentally changed over the years. But, how has ever-advancing technology changed the core of music production? This paper sets out to observe the recording process to collaboration and the changes that have taken place as technology has advanced, beginning with the recording process.

One of the first and most fundamental changes that has taken place in music production is the recording process. When music was first being recorded and produced, the musicians all had to get together in one room and record their song until they all played their parts perfectly and with minimal error. The song structure was strictly limited to what the band had decided on, before any recording took place. The sound of the instruments and vocals were also pre-determined. A lot of thought and effort went into writing and practicing this so that their song would sound exactly as they had planned. The effort was all in the pre-recording phase. Today, most of the effort goes into editing in the post-recording process.

Unlike music that was recorded in the past, song structure and overall sound is developed after the recording has taken place. The pre-recording process still requires a certain amount of preparation and planning. However, the majority of the work takes place after the recording is finished. The artist is no longer limited by what the instrument or vocals sound like as they are being recorded. Any recording can be tweaked and altered to fit whatever sound they desire. If the artist or producer prefers a higher octave or a different note in the recorded vocals, they can simply edit it without needing the vocalist to come back in and re-record it. This opens up incredible possibilities of song structure and sound that can have an intense effect of the mood of the listener.

When thinking about how the song is to be structured and what mood the listener should feel, the artist is open to a wide variety of possibilities. In electronic dance music (EDM), the song’s structure plays a huge roll in the effect the song has on the listeners. There are many different techniques that are used in EDM specifically used to hype the crowd up. The techniques are used to give the listener to feeling of being lifted off of the ground, filled with anticipation, and then dropped back down to the ground. These techniques are analyzed and explained in an article called “Waiting for the bass to drop” by Ragnhild Torvanger Solberg. Solberg used commonly used terms such as “build up”, “drop”, and “uplifters” to describe the production techniques that are used. He also introduces a new term, which he calls the “drum roll effect(Solberg). The “Build up” refers to the part of the song that gives the listener an increased feeling of being lifted. “Uplifters” refer to the kinds of effects the artist will use to enhance a “build up” section. The “drop” is the part of the song, at the end of a “build up”, where the listener gets the sensation of being dropped back down to the ground after the feeling of being lifted. He describes the “drum roll effect” as “a frequently used technique in newer EDM where the prominent rhythmical pattern, often the snare drum, becomes increasingly divided until the return of the core, starting out with quarter notes and culminating in a drum roll right before the bass drops and the bass drum returns.”(Solberg) Solberg’s article goes onto explain the effects by using a spectrogram of a song’s (“Icarus” by ‘Madeon’) wavelengths to provide a visual of the production that takes place.

music

You can see from the image that the song’s frequencies show a clearly visual increase as it approaches the drop and into the core section of the song. These production techniques create an unmatchable mood shift that can only be achieved through modern, post-recorded editing techniques. This fundamental change in technology opens the artist up to be able to alter the sound bytes to intensify the emotion desired. This technology allows artists to move away from the idea of writing a song and recording the “one perfect take” to more compositional piece in which the artist has total control. This opens the floor up for an even greater element of creativity: collaboration.

With each artist’s album release, each album gets better, or more complex. This complexity can be viewed as the artist growing and mastering his or her craft. This is without a doubt a factor in the evolution of all artists during their careers. However, one big reason that the music becomes more complex and involved is the new people and technology that they are introduced to through the technology of music production and producers.

The average person does not give much thought into the amount of production and collaboration that goes into making this new album what it is, which is mostly done by relatively anonymous producers. In some cases, the original artist has little to do with the overall sound of the album. The record company will generally hire experienced producers and engineers to master and re-master the song ideas. The artist may have originally written the song on an acoustic guitar to plan out what chords, timing, and vocal melody he or she wants the song to incorporate. Then, the artist will sit down with a producer and begin to record. The producer, depending on the artist’s contract with the record company, has the final say in what chords to actually use and what lyrics to sing whether the artist wants this or not. Typically, it’s, economically, for the better, because the producer has a better feel for what demographic the particular artist is appealing to. Max Martin is a famed record producer with over 17 #1 hits that he either co-wrote and/or produced. Including: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.” 2011, Maroon 5, “One More Night,” 2012, and Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” 2012(Billboard). “He ranks behind only Paul McCartney, with 32, and John Lennon with 26(Billboard). This is an amazing feat in the field of music writing. That being said, it’s astounding to think that he is still relatively unknown to the average person. These top artists owe a huge debt to Martin for his expertise in writing and mastering their songs. His skill in appealing to the masses and, particularly, to the artist’s target demographic. In an interview, Martin said this, “I think the ‘target market’ and ‘audience’ tends to come with the artist. If I’m doing something with a young pop artist I may not choose to have a brass section in a song, for example. Sometimes you have to think about what the artist already is”(Ask Billboard). Although these producers work behind the scenes, popular music today would not be the same or, arguably, as good without their expertise and the technology they use to master the tracks. Technological changes and the exploitation of collaboration have no doubt changed the direction, style and execution of music. But, there is some controversy surrounding one element of collaboration. Often times, a less consensual form of execution. This is called sampling.

As one listens to popular music, whether it is on the radio or in one’s own personal collection, one cannot help but to hear a piece of another artist’s music embedded within. This can be subtle to the point that it goes unnoticed by the average person. It could be in the vocals, a guitar lick, or something as small as the drum kick that only comes in once every 3 bars of music. But it is, in essence, a rip off of the original artist. This technique is called sampling. The perspective of the original artist varies case by case. Some are ok with the idea of hearing their voice or drum beat incorporated into other songs. Others are furious that their work has been copied and pasted into someone else’s work for their own benefit.

There is a lot of gray area to this issue. There are laws in place to help rectify the matter. But, is this enough to keep all parties happy? Even in the event that strict permission is given, there have been parties that have felt wronged. An article by Molly Mcgraw helps shed some light onto this issue. She tells the story of David Johnson and Jan Hammer. “David Earl Johnson who allowed computer-keyboardist Jan Hammer to sample his drum sounds on rare, eighty-year-old Nigerian conga drums. Later, after Johnson recognized his drum sounds running through the entire Miami Vice soundtrack, he sought payment for what he perceived to be his contribution to the composition. He was told by Hammer’s manager that he wanted ‘money for doing nothing’ and the American Federation of Musicians refused to take his case.”(law.berkeley.edu) In this case, there was arguably nothing done wrong by Hammer. He asked for permission to use Johnson’s drums sample and Johnson gave it. Johnson could have been more specific about the limit of usage of these. But even the legal system has no test case that a court can use in a copyright case. Each lawsuit must be individually decided on a case-by-case basis based on whether the sample used is original to the plaintiff. The law states that “Originality denotes only enough definite expression so that one may distinguish authorship, i.e., there must be an identifiable element of personality.” (law.berkeley.edu) So, with these safeguards in place, it makes it easier for artists to win in a lawsuit against copyright infringement. However, the problem lies in whether or not the original artist’s music can be discernable on the track. Frank Zappa was the first to fully protect a full album from copyright infringement from sampling down to the wave pattern level. It requires more effort and money to get this type of protection than what is provided at default from simply recording and distributing an album. Should the law be changed to protect the artist further by default? This issue definitely deserves some more legal attention to decide what the limits should be in regards to sampling. However, this advance in technology has the ability to enhance the effectiveness that music has on mood the listener.

As music becomes more digital and become stored into massive databases online, it creates an incredible archive in which one can pick just the right elements to create a composition of emotion and intensity. In a book by Ann Cvetkovich called An Archive of Feelings she talks about an “archive in which my own feelings are deposited”(Cvetkovich) that the artist Le Tigre created with the songs they played at a live concert. This same concept can be applied to the archive of recorded music available online. Through the advances in technology, an artist can select and modify any one sample of another artist’s work and, with permission, can create an emotional masterpiece for the world to become engulfed by. This level of depth could not be achieved without the more recent advances in technology. And it is exciting to see what the future holds for musical technology and production.

Works Cited

“Ask Billboard: Max Martin Notches Another No. 1.” Billboard. N.p., n.d. Web.<http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6327746/ask-billboard-max-martin-notches-another-no-1&gt;.

Cvetkovich, Ann. Archive of Feelings. N.p., n.d. Print.

“Max Martin Interview – Popjustice.” Popjustice RSS. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web.<http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/max-martin-interview/49884/&gt;.

“SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT.” SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.law.berkeley.edu/journals/btlj/articles/vol4/McGraw/HTML/text.html&gt;.

TORVANGER SOLBERG, RAGNHILD. “Waiting For The Bass To Drop”: Correlations Between Intense Emotional Experiences And Production Techniques In Build-Up And Drop Sections Of Electronic Dance Music.” Dancecult: Journal Of Electronic Dance Music Culture 6.1 (2014): 61-82. Academic Search Complete. Web.

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The Future of Music With Technology

  imgres Music has been enhanced with every new technological invention and is a marker of the technological capabilities of that time.  With this realization I would like to explore, by researching, the newest innovations in music technology today and analyze their potential impact on the future of music.  New innovations in music equipment allow artists to have expanded possibilities of creation musically, sonically and production.  The innovations in music technology has had impacts on two aspects of society, the professional artist and the average person who plays and produces their own music.  The effects on the artists are expanded capabilities in aspects of production and sound possibilities, while the effects of the mass consumption of music are the ease of recording and producing to allow the average person to create decent music, affordably.  It is my goal to research the effect of current music technology is on both of these routes and seeks to answer the question, what will the impact on music in the future of the newest technological innovations in the music production field be? The mass consumption of music is primarily through midi controllers due to their ease of use, portability and convenience.  The emerging music technology that will be geared toward the consumer market is the Artiphon.  1)Artiphon is a newly kickstarter funded midi controller that promises anyone will be able to make music with their device.  A midi device is a controller of some sort but, doesn’t contain any actual sounds programmed to play but, can connect to another device that has sounds such as a laptop music program and play those sounds.  This device hooks up to a laptop or computer through USB connection to play sounds from a music software program.  It holds 5 customizable banks of sounds that can be switched with a knob for ease to transition from playing one sound bank, like an instrument, to the next.  The touch pads, what you hit to trigger a sound to be played, on the surface of the remote shaped object are grooved with guitar frets and string lines, for a more precise playing experience of those instruments, in addition to the middle, smooth flat pads for playing piano and percussion instruments.  A quite sophisticated USB remote, with an all in one functionality promises users to be able to play and learn how to play instruments on their device.  This has the potential to be a game changer by promoting people to play music using their device as a hobby and spreading the love for playing music.  The idea is tested and proven by the (2)1.4 million dollar they raised on a kickstarter campaign and now a developed brand with demands exceeding their supply on their website on back order.  Although the Artiphon will spread interest in playing and creating music that can only be good for music in the education it provides in a convenient shape and size, but this is really not an innovation in anyway.  I will be a consumer of the Artiphone but, it is simply a midi technology controller with a different shape. The technology that has the potential to affect music production for artists in the future is Soundtrap.  This website/software is making a breakthrough in the area of connectivity and collaboration for artists at two different places simultaneously.  Collaborations between artists are at an all time high, especially in the EDM and rap/hip-hop genres where so many DJ’s are remixing other DJ’s songs and collaborations between rappers on tracks has been happening for decades.  The site (3)Soundtrap, with their software, is trying to change music collaborations by allowing artists to simultaneously collaborate with each other remotely.  Currently the process for collaborations is one artist creating a part or something then if they wanted to collaborate with another artist they would send this work in progress to the artist to have him add their take on it then send it back when done with his additions and revisions.  Real, in person collaborations, rarely happen anymore due to the hectic schedules of artists that work on the go or that live in different cities.  This current model leaves a lag and disconnect between the artists because it’s just one artist sending music with their view and then the other person takes it and puts his view on it and it’s not a real collaboration effort.  What Soundtrap is trying to do is allow artists a platform to create together simultaneously from different places.  I believe it adds something being able to collaborate in real time between two artists so they can bounce ideas off each other or make changes together.  While this technology is not currently perfect, it has a great idea and the potential to add another dimension of collaborating with artists and shows what technology brings to music production technological advancements.  The idea of collaboration between artists through technological mediums isn’t new, for example electronic artist/producer, deadmau5(4), live streams his studio sessions with his fans, looking for input and sending out ideas on platforms such as soundcloud, a free music uploading community.  This transparency and insight from everyone is a great idea for a next step into music by allowing small, unknown artists like Chris James a platform to be one the top singal’s on deadmau5’s record The Veldt.  The collaboration is discontinuous though in uploading and downloading files in the sense of not really collaborating but revising.  While the idea of collaborating through technological mediums isn’t new the way Soundtrap is developing the technology to push a new advancement. The impact I believe these technologies will have on the future of music is to continue the move toward solo artists/DJ’s who will create and produce their own music and collaborate with other solo artists.  Jim Morrison, the now deceased lead singer of The Doors, in a 1970 interview shared his prediction for the future of music stating, “I can see a future where a single artist will use tapes and sounds to create music”(5), which turned out to be a very accurate forecast of what has become the current model of music.  These solo efforts came with the progression and innovations in technology at that time that had music implications.  This thought of collaboration through technological mediums reminds me of Always On(6), a chapter from the sherry turkle selection we read for class.  One of the ideas of the chapter is that machines are inventing social life by creating groups online where these groups can collaborate to play games and communicate with each other.  It relates in that these artists are collaborating with the technology to produce the sounds they need, in some senses a cyborg.  The trends with new innovations in technology has led to a disconnect in the world of human to human interaction and human to technology device/app and an isolation of society behind tv’s and computer screens.  This is resulting in artists being enhanced by mechanical or technological devices to create(7), a cyborg.  The advancement and affordability in recording and production technology along with the commercialization of these technologies is promoting this sense of cyborgism to be what we call artists.  But as great as these new technologies may be is this too much of a good thing, turning artists to be dependent on technology for creation?  Or is it that technology is creating a sophisticated and intelligent musician by taking their knowledge of technology and applying that to music making.  This movement toward isolation draws a direct parallel from The Machine Stops.  In that society people lived by themselves connected to the world from their intelligent “home” machine.  They became so dependent on the machine that when the machine started malfunctioning, the residents were helpless on their own(8).  This would translate into an extreme case in the music world if all technology just ceased to be but raises the point that the future musician may be more of a programmer or someone with knowledge of electronics and how to make sounds rather than a musician who is trained to compose music and learn how to use the accompanying technology.  This relates to past trends in music innovation where developments came from people like Bob Moog, a electrical engineer who invented the synthesizer, people outside of the music field but in the technology and engineering fields. After further analysis however, I’ve actually learned that i’m disappointed in the current music technology selection and capabilities.  There are a lot more startups like the artiphone, that function more for convenience and are geared toward hobbying musicians. and a lack of innovative technologies that harbor usefulness and ingenuity.  Maybe this is the shift of music, more musicians are gearing toward convenient playing than the next advancement in technology.  However, I still wanted to continue with an analysis of Soundtrap because I believe it is paving the way a future way of collaborating.  If i had to predict the result of a lack of innovations in the market today it would spark ingenuity in artists to create more with what they had and refine it even more.  Either that or music would start to sound stagnant and you wouldn’t hear progressions of artists and music. I believe that there will be an emerging technology that will have an impact on the future of music production but it will be a technological or software developed with applications to music.  That is where society is at this digital time and it will be interesting to see the influence these advancements will have on music production.  Though the Artiphon won’t have much of an impact on changing the future of production methods, it’s design and application will have an impact on the spread of knowledge of music as a hobby.  Through analysis of the emerging technologies and drawing parallels with past music innovation trends and themes, the technology Soundtrap aligns itself with these trends and themes and I will predict that it will have an effect on the future of how music production happens.    

  1. http://www.artiphon.com/
  2. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/artiphon/introducing-the-artiphon-instrument-1
  3. https://medium.com/@pavelc/future-of-music-production-and-creative-collaborations-e0ecea44169c
  4. https://medium.com/@pavelc/future-of-music-production-and-creative-collaborations-e0ecea44169c
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWmMVmiGJD0
  6. Sherry Turkle. Alone Together. page 153.
  7. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cyborg
  8. Forster. The Machine Stops.  1909

Expanding Our World, Limiting Our Experiences?

If you ask me what I want to do with my life, I will say that I want to be in a position where I am lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time traveling. Travel has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I believe that it has been the single most important thing that has shaped who I am today. Travel makes me happy, as it is both a way that I inject change into my life and a reminder of something bigger than myself, both key aspects of happiness that were discussed in the movie “Happy” (1). That being said, travel, and the way that I experience it, has changed as dramatically as I have. For example, I remember when I was around eight or ten, I would take stacks of books on family road trips out West. Even more recently during high school, I went on two service trips during which I did not have access to the internet for two weeks. These experiences are completely unimaginable today. During the most recent spring break, I went to Madrid, Spain. I had several movies downloaded onto my iPad, and rarely was without Facebook at my fingertips. Even on the eight hour plane ride, I didn’t read, like I would have done in the past. Instead, I watched movies. Furthermore, while I was in Madrid, I was lucky enough to experience many aspects of a different culture, from things as simple as eating lunch at three in the afternoon, to bigger things such as a different language. (Which, luckily, I spoke.) However, my culture that I had left an ocean away was never truly more than a few taps away on my iPhone. I believe that technology has had an irrevocable effect on travel, and though many of its effects are positive, there are many negative aspects what we may tend to ignore. These negative aspects are something that we need to have more awareness of, in order to truly appreciate our surroundings.

When I talk about technology and its effect on travel, I wish to refer to its ability to affect the way that we experience a place. Of course, to analyze this, it is important to consider what it means to experience while traveling. Does it mean interacting with those who live there, making an impact, leaving a footprint? Or, does it mean keeping our distance, taking photos, looking through museums and leaving without a trace? I tend to lean towards the first option. Travel is a way through which we access new perspectives and expand our horizons, something that can even be scary at times, perhaps because “in our culture of simulation, the notion of authenticity is for us what sex was for the Victorians – thread and obsession, taboo and fascination. (2) However, as I (and I am sure many others) travel in search of connection despite our initial reservations, I cannot forget the ways in which we are already connected through technology. After all, it may even be possible to say that “what people mostly want from public space is to be alone with their personal networks. It is good to come together physically, but it is more important to stay tethered to our devices.” (3) This tethering from technology affects many aspects of our travel experience. After all, what do we need to do in order to fully experience a place? Do we see as much as possible? Or do we find a place where we can watch people pass by and go about their days? (In this case, I tend to split the difference and do a little of each.) Technology can help us to accomplish both of these tasks, but what effect does this have on our trip, and furthermore, ourselves?

Of course, technology is not all bad, and in many ways it is a resource as vital as oxygen when it comes to moving throughout the world. In this day and age, “the family circle has widened. The worldpool of information fathered by electric media – movies, tel-star, flight – far surpasses any possible influence mom or dad can now bring to bear.” (4) This globalization has been ushered in by technology that quickly becomes more and more advanced, and overall I view it as a privilege to have access to fast and efficient methods of movement. For example, the airplane, something that we perhaps take for granted, or even as an annoyance, is something that did not even exist one hundred years ago. Yet, this technology is indispensable when planning a vacation overseas. It enables me to travel from Ohio to Europe in less time than it takes to drive to Florida. Without the plane, the train, the car, or even the bicycle (for the more intrepid among us), travel would be dramatically different, and perhaps a foreign concept for the average individual.

It isn’t just the “vital” technology that improves the travel experience these days. There are countless new web-based technologies that allow us to tailor our vacation to our preferred specifications, and help us to simply do more, connect more, and live more. At the very basic level, wi-fi gives us internet access everywhere, which permits us to harness the internet’s many resources. (At least, it’s available in most “American” restaurants overseas -I have noticed a distinct lack of free wi-fi in Europe.) Beyond wi-fi, Websites such as Google Flights make traveling to our destination cheaper, which in turn permits us to spend maybe another night there, or take the short day trip to a little town about an hour away. Other technologies such as Airbnb and Couchsurfing combine cost savings with enhanced connections. Both provide relatively inexpensive lodging for the average traveler, while at the same time facilitating connection on both ends – the traveler is often able to stay with someone who lives in the place they are visiting, giving them deeper roots in the community, and the host is able to interact with someone from a completely different area, allowing them to see their home through different eyes. Furthermore, social media, something often decried as a destroyer of true connection, can be viewed as a technology that has had a positive impact on travel in the modern age. Instagram allows one to share photos of your experiences with those who may not have the same opportunity to travel, or those that want to see reminders of a place they have been to. People even use social media to plan vacations, getting inspiration for upcoming journeys, sharing their plans with their friends for suggestions, or using sites such as Tripadvisor to find activities (5) Facebook, Whatsapp, and other similar communication tools make it easier to stay in touch while out of the country, with 74% of Americans using social media on vacation (6), even though most cell phones do not work internationally, at least not without paying exorbitant prices. This, however, may even be changing for some – the European Union wants to end roaming charges for its citizens as they travel throughout its member countries. (7)  This change is not uncommon with travel technology. New frontiers are being explored with wearable technology and travel, automatic payments, and translation software. (8) As technology changes, travel will change with it, and in my eyes the vast majority of these developments and changes are for the better.

That being said, technology has also brought about many negative changes that take away from our experiences while traveling, either overseas or domestically. Even looking at the way we plan vacations with sites like Tripadvisor, we may put too much stock in negative or positive reviews, and forget to consider what we expect from a destination. See, for example, this one-star review of the Grand Canyon, titled “Grand Canyon is Crap!” – “I’ve been to a number of so called landmarks in my time – but what the hell was this? Just an overblown sandy ditch. Really don’t get the fascination! Took two hours to get there – should’ve stayed in my hotel and watched a DVD instead…” (9). Clearly, perception is everything, and this perception can skew experiences if we put too much weight into others’ experiences.

Photography, something generally considered as a great way to make our own mementos of our vacations, can also impact travel in a negative way. In “Alone Together”, Turkle discusses the possibility that “archiving might get in the way of living” (10). In the case of travel, photographing might get in the way of experiencing, and might even allow us to mislead those who see our archives. See once again the Grand Canyon (11):

Beautiful, right? Serene, peaceful, empty. Exactly what one might want from a National Park. However, other photographs tell a different story. (12)


There are typically many tourists at places such as the Grand Canyon, and while tourists are obviously unavoidable, people may tend to forget about their presence when they see pictures such as the one above, and be disappointed when they show up expecting solitude. Beyond the potential misleading nature of photography and post-processing (something I am admittedly guilty of myself), the entire action of viewing our surroundings through a lens, or through a phone screen, takes us out of our environments. After all, McLuhan declares that “media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of  sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world.” (13) It would be foolish to say that photography has no impact on our travel experience. We may spend more time searching for the perfect shot, the perfect filter to maximize likes on Instagram, instead of letting our mind be the camera, and preserving what we see in our heads for recollection on a day when we feel a little bit more wanderlust than usual. It can even be asked, “if technology remembers for us, will we remember less? Will we approach our own lives from a greater distance?” (14) Social media’s negative effects, and the way that “life in a media bubble has come to seem natural” (15) may even be considered an extension of those from photography, with archiving getting in the way of experiencing, and true face-to-face connections being rejected in favor of those that come through a screen.

It is obvious that technology has had a far-reaching effect on travel, both enabling its existence and limiting the experiences possible while on the road. For me, the important thing to remember while traveling and harnessing this technology for my own use is awareness. I believe that through being aware of our actions we will more easily be able to see their potential consequences, and make decisions based upon what our desired outcome is. Technology can be so useful while traveling, making us safer, helping us communicate, and helping us explore. In fact, it is even hard to scratch the surface of the tools we have available to us while traveling, the number of resources is so vast. However, as we have seen with new technologies in the past, there may often be outcomes from the use of technology that we don’t realize until it is too late. Therefore, when it comes to travel and technology, I preach being aware of what we use on a daily basis. Maybe, you can even put the Google Maps away for a little while and just walk and see what you find. After all, it is okay to rely on technology, in this day and age we all do to different extents. However, as in all things in life, we need to seek balance, and seek to be aware of the choices we make, even unintentionally, and their consequences.

Endnotes:

(1) Happy. Dir. Roko Belic. Wadi Rum Productions, 2011. Netflix. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

(2) Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Perseus Book Group, 2011. Print. (4)

(3) Turkle, 15.

(4) McLuhan, M. (2001). The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. Corte Madera, CA: Gingko Press. (14)

(5) “The Impact of Social Media on Travel and Vacation Planning | Vacationing the Social Media Way [Infographic].” MDG Advertising. N.p., 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.mdgadvertising.com/blog/vacationing-the-social-media-way-infographic/&gt;.

(6) MDG Advertising.

(7) Strachan, Donald. “How Technology Will Change Travel in 2015.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 29 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-advice/11316023/How-technology-will-change-travel-in-2015.html&gt;.

(8) Strachan.

(9) H, David. “Nature Is Crap!” Rev. of The Grand Canyon. n.d.: n. pag. 8 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g143028-d103752-r248232755-Grand_Canyon-Grand_Canyon_National_Park_Arizona.html#REVIEWS&gt;.

(10) Turkle, 305.

(11) Grand Canyon Sunrise. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2016. <Happy. Dir. Roko Belic. Wadi Rum Productions, 2011. Netflix. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.>.

(12) Mandel, Pam. Pictures of People Taking Pictures of People at the Grand Canyon. Digital image. Nerds Eye View. N.p., 4 June 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. <https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3864/14158297779_0473c8ce5f_b.jpg&gt;.

(13) McLuhan, 41.

(14) Turkle, 300.

(15) Turkle, 16.

Final Project: Graffiti

Hip- hop has been around for nearly four decades (“PBS”). It rose from the youth party scene of the South Bronx and turned to a billion dollar global sensation that combines politics, style, and technology. Hip-Hop is more than music; it is a youth movement, a culture, and a way of life. Hip-Hop is the culture and rap is a form of music that comes out of the Hip-Hop culture (Pough 3). Thinking about hip-hop as a culture, allows one to understand the key elements of hip-hop including breakdancing, the MC, the Deejay, and graffiti, which is the visual element. Also, the musical element of hip-hop is not just limited to rap music. There is rock/rap and hip-hop soul. There is also hip-hop literature and poetry. Hip-hop culture has also expanded to mainstream pop culture. Now hip-hop beats and rapping can be heard in various commercials on television.

The South Bronx has been named “the home of the hip-hop culture” (Rose 200). In the 1970s, a renewal project involved a great deal of black and Hispanic people from all different areas of New York to move to the South Bronx. Between the 1930s and 1940s, Robert Moses, a powerful city planner carried out various public work projects, including highways, parks, and housing projects that changed the way New York was shaped (Rose 200). In 1959, city, state, and federal authorities began to put into action his plan called the Cross-Bronx Expressway. The Expressway was created to link New Jersey and Long Island communities. He decided to carry out a plan that involved destroying hundreds of homes and commercial buildings. Also throughout the 1960s and 1970s, 60,000 homes were demolished (Rose 201). Robert Moses called these areas “slums”. His Title I Slum Clearance Program forced 170,000 people to move to different locations. These areas he called “slums” were populated with working and lower-middle class Jews, but also included Italians, Germans, Irish and black neighborhoods. Although the neighborhoods that were being demolished had a high number of Jewish populations, the black and Hispanic population was extremely affected. In the late 1960s and mid 1970s, the lack of residents in the South Bronx area was mortifying. Landlords began to sell their properties quickly to slumlords, which caused white tenants to move to northern sections of the Bronx and Westchester (Rose 201). Shop and business owners were afraid and sold their shops and moved to another location. City administration believed that Moses’ plan was a complete success and ignored the tragedies that occurred in these areas. The black and Hispanic residents that moved to the South Bronx were left with few resources and broken leadership. The media did not notice the effects of these devastating policies until 1977, when a power outage blacked out New York, and several stores were vandalized and robbed. The South Bronx was now a symbol of ruin and isolation. There was no life and energy in the images of black and Hispanic neighborhoods. In spite of these images of devastation and no energy, the youth of the South Bronx were finding ways to remain hopeful and build a creative place for them to be expressive and find identity. These ethnic groups made the South Bronx their home, but faced social isolation and a loss of social service organizations. Instead, they created their own networks. Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, Northern American blacks, and other Caribbean people reshaped their community. Although city leaders and the media had shut out the South Bronx and its residents, the youth had their own message and decided to speak out.

After the destruction of their community, the youth of the South Bronx created a new identity and social status, and thus the hip-hop culture emerged. This new identity included fashion, language, street names, and creating neighborhood crews. Hip-hop’s identity is rooted in the identity of status of a local group. The postindustrial city provided the framework for the creative development of the hip-hop’s early inventors, by shaping their access to space, materials, and education (Rose 208). One of hip-hop’s key elements and technologies, I will analyze is graffiti. The advances in spray paint technology heavily supported graffiti artists’ work, and they used the subway system as their canvas. Graffiti is known as a social movement that first emerged in New York in the late 1960’s, but it wasn’t until ten years later that it began to establish complex styles and recognition (Rose 209). In addition to this it was not until the 1980s that graffiti was showcased in art galleries. Young people were key players in the graffiti movement. One of graffiti’s first modern artist’s was named Cornbread. He was a high school student from Philadelphia who would tag walls to try to get the attention of a girl (“The History of American Graffiti”). Even though the majority of graffiti artists were black and Hispanic, one of the artists responsible for inspiring the movement, Taki 183 was a young Greek boy named Demetrius, from Manhattan (Rose 210). He was working as a messenger and would write his name on the subway cars and stations. A New York Times writer published a story about the movement, and when Demetrius’ peers saw this they were inspired and developed a sense of pride in their work. They realized that their work could potentially reach and be recognized beyond their own block.

Furthermore, in the mid-1970s, the advancement and focus of graffiti had expanded. Now it did not just involve tagging, or writing the artists’ name on a wall, but included skillful techniques, styles, and formats. The purpose of these new techniques and styles were to gain individual identity and status, but to also gain more exposure. The new themes included hip- hop slang, rap lyrics, and hip- hop fashion. The artists also used various logos and images from television, comic books, and cartoons. The use of more colors and patterns were also growing. These developments in style, technique, and themes were possible through the advances in marker and spray paint technology. The advances included better spray nozzles, marking fibers, paint adhesion, and texture enhanced the range of expression in graffiti writing. Creating a piece takes an extensive amount of time, work, and risk. The artists drew out designs and patterns, an0331_WildStyled tried new spray-paints and colors before creating a piece. Gaining access to a subway car for long hours involved knowing the train schedule, and breaking into the areas where out of service trains were located. Graffiti artists walked along the board that covers the electrified rail, climbed walls, and went through holes in fences. Train murals are an important element for graffiti style. First, graffiti murals depend on the size and color for visual impact. Subway trains are so important to graffiti because the trains pass through diverse neighborhoods, which allowed communication between black and Hispanic communities throughout the five boroughs and the greater New York area (Rose 211). Second, there was a negative reputation for graffiti artists, and it was even considered criminal to buy spray paint, permanent markers, and the other supplies needed to create a piece.

In Marshall McLuhan’s, The Medium is the Message; he gives us his definition of medium. McLuhan defines a medium as any extension of some human faculty physical or psychic (26). He explains that a book is an extension of the eye, and the wheel extends our legs and feet. These mediums enable us to do more than our bodies ever could on their own. Graffiti is a great example of this definition McLuhan gives us. For example, Cornbread used graffiti and specifically spray paint to convey or get a message across to a certain girl by tagging city walls. So he used graffiti as an extension of his voice, giving him the ability to speak or be recognized by a girl, which he may not have had the courage to do on his own. Graffiti was also an extension for the youth of the South Bronx to allow communication throughout the five boroughs and the greater New York area, because their pieces were created upon several subway trains that passed throughout theses areas. This technology gave them a voice in and throughout their communities since they did not have many resources due to the destruction of their community. Graffiti also was a message itself to the city authority and administration. The youth used graffiti again as a voice to let the city administration know that they are here, and that their community is important. It was also a way to respond to the violence and crimes taking place in their community, but to also visually reflect what was going on it.

Today, many people may not think that graffiti is still around or important, but that is not the case at all. Recent research done by Joe Austin indicates that graffiti artists continue to create pieces. Joe Austin explains these artists create murals, videotape and photograph them, and share the videos and photos through graffiti fan magazines all over the world (Rose 213). Additionally, communities in New York such as Harlem, Brooklyn, and the Bronx continue to use many graffiti artists to create logos. We also see graffiti art in music video sets, different rap artists clothing, and tee shirts. Most recently we have seen graffiti used in the 2008 Presidential campaign. Los Angeles based street artist Shepard Fairey created the iconic image of President Obama, which was seen on stickers, posters, and tee shirts. This piece became “a pop culture phenomenon and an important symbol in the political landscape of 2008 and beyond” (Arnon).

Out of the relocation of new places, and the destroying of their community, the youth of the South Bronx created their own identity and because of this we have the birth of the hip-hop culture. Out of the hip-hop culture emerged the technology and one of hip-hop’s key elements, graffiti. Although many viewed graffiti as a juvenile delinquent act, it had a message behind the pieces and murals that were created. Graffiti was a way for the youth of the South Bronx to communicate, to show their creativity and talents in such a hopeless community. This community was isolated and abandoned by the city. This community had no resources, no power and no voice, but they used this specific technology to be their voice to tell their stories and what was going on in their communities.

1) Arnon, Ben. “How the Obama “Hope” Poster Reached a Tipping Point and Became a Cultural Phenomenon: An Interview With the Artist Shepard Fairey.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

2) McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Massage”

 3) PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

4) Pough, Gwendolyn D. Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-hop Culture, and the Public Sphere. Boston: Northeastern UP, 2004. Print.

5)  Rose, Tricia. “All aboard the Night Train: Flow, Layering, and Rupture in Postindustrial New York.” Signifyin(g), Sanctifyin’ & Slam Dunking: A Reader in African American Expressive Culture. Amherst: U of Massachusetts, 1999. N. pag. Print.

6) ‘The History of American Graffiti:’ From Subway Car to Gallery.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

image also from: ‘The History of American Graffiti:’ From Subway Car to Gallery.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

Integration of Technology in Sports

There are not many things that can unite a global audience the same way sports can. It is not difficult to see these instances during such events such as the Olympics or the World Cup, but it is extremely unlikely to successfully recreate such an atmosphere. Sports create a global village quite similar to, yet possibly more joyous than the global village Marshall McLuhan wrote about. Even with such unparalleled power, changes are still necessary for athletics. There are constant adjustments being made to sports in the forms of technology, rules, equipment, and even the athletes that participate. Some of these changes are made to protect the people involved in the competitions, others are made to create more offensive opportunities, but perhaps the most interesting changes are those being made to keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology. All of the changes made have their own impacts on the sports in which they are involved.

Technology is a major factor when it comes to how sports operate and how they evolve over time. There are also many different ways to look at what is classified as technological advancements. The first thing that comes to mind when somebody thinks of technology in sports is most likely the use of video replay and its integration and growth since its initial use in the 1960’s. Obviously since its inception, the techniques, systems, and efficiency of video replay have all drastically evolved, but the creator witnessed his invention’s impact. He noted “I changed the way things were normally done. That’s very hard to do in life” (1). The creation of instant replay led to the ability to review plays and decisions. With that ability, some basics of sports began to change. In the current age, it seems as if video review is becoming more expansive each year. There are no arguments that attempt to say video review results in fewer correct calls. However, there are still negatives to the heavier integration of technologies such as video review. The use of these new technologies is often seen as taking the human element out of the sports, therefore fundamentally changing the sports that were created centuries ago. The aspect of human error has created some of the most memorable sports moments in history. The spirit of the game comes from the human error not only in the players, but also in the officials. As well as the spirit of athletics being tarnished, a major concern with a technology such as video review is the potential damage it does to the timing and flow of a match. Momentum and rhythm are influential, yet often overlooked. With the entire process of reviewing a play taking a substantial amount of time, the adrenaline and flow can easily be lost. For both the MLB and NFL, not including officials stopping the game, finding out exactly what must be reviewed, walking to the review station, explaining the decision to all parties involved, and restarting the game afterwards, the average review time hovered right around two minutes. To go along with the time wasted, approximately half of all reviews did not constitute a call being overturned. This may not seem like a long amount of time, but when a game changing play can happen in a fraction of a second, those minutes of being completely removed from gameplay can, and does, make a monumental difference (2)(3). The main positive associated with the use of new technology is more accurate and consistent officiating. The main negative is the possibility of damaging the spirit and flow of a game. The positives outweighing the negatives is still up for debate according to many people.

With new technology coming to prevalence, new rules and regulations must accompany them. This may be the easiest area to see how new technology directly affects how a game or match is conducted. For a new rule to be fully implemented, it takes time. Like any other change to a major league, it must be approved by the governing heads of the league and usually by a majority of the teams involved in the league. With many different interests and affects for each proposed rule change, it can take a years to pass the proposal. Some rule changes connected to technology are minor while others present more of a major change. For instance, a more minor change occurred recently in the National Hockey League regarding television timeouts. After an icing occurs, television timeouts are no longer allowed to interrupt the game. This is meant to keep tired defensive players on the ice and create a more offensive, generally exciting game. This relatively new rule does not change the basic fabric of a sport. For more impactful rule changes, it is helpful to look at the National Football League. Recent times have seen concussion lawsuits and much discussion on the topic of head injuries. As a way to combat these discussions, new rules were created that limited the way a player is allowed to make contact and tackle another player. To some fans, this may decrease the excitement by limiting some of the larger hits. The new rules also have an effect on players. For a professional who has played the sport a certain way his entire life, it is not easy to change habits, especially when they have gotten him to the largest stage of the game. A player having to change his technique is much easier said than done, and it can create a disadvantage for the player who excels in the newly outlawed practices. Some changes are made to protect the athletes, and some are made to create a product more desirable for fans. Sometimes the two interfere with each other. Never do the rules have absolutely zero impact on the game that athletes and fans have grown to love.

As science and knowledge progress, the opportunities for advancing the human body arise. Over time, we are able to witness the evolution of the athlete. This is due to better knowledge on what to put into your body, how to get the most out of your body, and how to recover from serious workouts or injuries. There have been many new treatments, supplements, and drugs to help any of the processes listed above. Another key component of the advancement of athletes is the constant drive for success and superiority. Advancements in technology have allowed athletes to become exponentially better over time. A prime example is looking at the world record for a one mile run. Back in 1865, the record was a time over four and a half minutes. Less than one hundred years later, the record had plummeted and reached the first ever sub 4 minute mile in 1954. The current world record was set in 1999 with a time of approximately three minutes and forty-three seconds (4). It is easy to see the correlation between time and athletic performance. However, a common belief is that the human body is quickly approaching its limits. If, and more likely when, this happens, it will be interesting to see if there is any new technology to help push through the physical barriers that hold back the barrier. With the advancement of technology helping to advance the athletes, it is beneficial for those involved. Although, it is beneficial, it also creates scenarios previously unvisited. With such improved athletes, new rules must be created on occasion to keep the boundaries of the game stable.

As previously mentioned, athletes and rules are constantly evolving and changing in the world of sports. Equipment is not an exception. Companies strive to produce the best option so players are willing to pay top dollar for their products. Depending on its purpose, a product must stand up to the competition in the performance areas, safety areas, or most likely, both. New technology allows the safety equipment to be stronger and lighter at the same time. This is where companies cannot sacrifice structural integrity for weight. For high performance equipment where protection is less necessary, structural integrity can be compromised. For instance, hockey sticks are much lighter and much more powerful than traditional wooden sticks thanks to their construction, but anybody who has watched a single professional game in a recent season has more than likely witnessed a few broken sticks. The tradeoff of improved performance for the possibility of the stick failing is one most players are willing to make. The newer, more advanced equipment is meant to help players perform at the levels they desire. As far as safety equipment goes, helmets are the main point of focus. Since head injuries are usually considered to be the most serious, there are companies trying to innovate new ways to better protect the head. From season to season and game to game in the major football and hockey leagues, new helmets with new technologies will make their debuts. Riddell, the largest helmet manufacturer in the nation, recently unveiled their latest model with goals to decrease concussions when the head is impacted. The design is heavily altered compared to previous models, and that innovation helps keep Riddell at the top of the chain when it comes to helmet manufacturers (5). These goals to protect players also tie into the rules that are created for protection of players, especially when it comes to serious head and brain injuries.

Perhaps the largest change sports have seen with the advancements in technology is that pertaining to money. With televisions, internet, radio, and other mediums being involved in the money making world of sports business, the amount of money thrown around has multiplied. Salary caps and contracts have become much larger, stadiums and arenas have become more lavish, and advertisers have become willing to spend astronomically to get their advertisement out there. In the MLB, which does not have an active salary cap, the average salary jumped by nearly $500,000 to a record high 3.8 million dollars. With 910 current MLB players, that is a lot of money, not even including the managers and other staff members. This is astonishing considering the average was as low as one million dollars as recently as 1992 (6). The boom of the internet, expansion and growth of the television and its networks, and new gadgets with internet capabilities have all led to larger monetary gains by the league. The increased monetary inflow led to increased salaries, especially in the big market cities. With such large salaries, the intents of the athletes can reasonably be questioned. Playing a sport for passion and for love is a complete different action than simply playing for a paycheck. Somewhat connected to the idea of self-representation over different mediums discussed by Julia Watson in “Studying the Digital Self”, most fans never personally interact with their favorite players. They don’t get to discover their motives for playing in a certain city, or even playing that sport. A hot topic for the MLB to consider is their neglect of a salary cap. A decently popular opinion with a strong backing is that the lack of a salary cap allows the teams with larger incomes to possess an unfair advantage over smaller clubs. Not only is there an unfair advantage, but the integrity of the game can also be damaged. A player’s loyalty to one team can dissipate when a larger offer from better funded club arrives. The money will never stop growing because the technology involved in sports is only growing faster.

Technology and sports have become intertwined. There are many positives that are the driving force behind this continuing integration of technology into sports, but there are also some negatives to consider. From video review and television to protective and performance equipment, the world of sports is ever-changing. Athletes also change with time, and so does the nature of the sports they play. With something as unique as sports, something that holds the power to unite people from all over with countless differences, it is important to not let these changes destroy the basics that billions have come to love. Change is important, but it is also dangerous.

(1)          Schiavenza, Matt. “Instant Replay’s Quiet Revolutionary.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(2)          “Has Expanded Replay Worked Well In Baseball? Here’s Our Call.”FiveThirtyEight. N.p., 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(3)          “Breaking down an Average NFL Game.” SportsonEarth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(4)          “The World Record for the Mile Run.” The World Record for the Mile Run. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(5)          Avila, Jim, and Serena Marshall. “Riddell Unveils Overhauled New Football Helmet SpeedFlex.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(6)          ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Literature Review

There is not exactly a million research books on the topic of social media and teens and how technology affects the growth of social media. This is just mostly because of the fact that we, as a society, are still growing because technology is still advancing. A lot of the articles out there are about how the internet is killing the social abilities of teens, how we actually do not have privacy, and how they are changing our views and morals – not necessariliy for the better either.

My main reference is a book by danah boyd that is a large collection of teen interviews. Danah boyd interviews a large number of teens about a lot of problems that people have assumed about teens and social media. She talks about how the obsession with technology really is not an obsession with technology but teens being obsessed with each other and with the idea of being social and knowing the most up to date information. Adults also claim that teens spend too much time on their phones and on computers, Boyd theorizes that parents are at fault. She itnerviewed a girl who’s mother had scheduled her to have music lessons, sports practice, and other extra cirriculars that would prevent her from having time with friends. The only way she could keep up to date with people she care about is through facebook.

Another big topic she covers is why have teens begun to spend so much time inside? As a kid I would spend all the time i could playing outside with friends. We would bike up and down the streets and play tag outside or learn to skateboard or go to the park and run around. My younger sisters, on the other hand, spend so much time inside I don’t think they have ever gone outside. Both are glued to their iPad and laptop. Boyd’s idea about this is because of parents again. Because of overprotective parents who do not want their child to be hurt playing games or looked at by strangers, they keep their kids inside. There is stranger danger in the park and parents think that the events in crime shows are very possible when in reality they are not. The sad thing is, there are also strangers on the internet as well. So if there are threats in both situations, why not just let your kid go outside and play with his friends? I understand the safety matter but the logic does not make sense to me.

Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together is also an important book that I will be referencing. I’ll be using a few sections from it. Turkle makes a lot of good points in her book. Both authors use an interview method and we discussed a lot of it in class. But she focuses mainly on how the obsession will affect us as a society. So having a robot programmed to love and play the role of a human is an actual possibility and how that takes affect on our emotions as humans.

The Core Message: Awareness leads to Deeper Experiences

One thing I definitely struggled with during the in-class discussion on Wednesday was defining the core message of my final essay. After all, I tend to view many things in shades of gray, rather than black and white. For this reason, can I say that technology should be avoided while traveling for the sake of experience? Or should I go the opposite direction, saying that technology should be used as much as possible to facilitate the experience? Like everything else, my true beliefs lie somewhere in the middle, because there are benefits and disadvantages to both sides. For this reason, I believe that the core message for my final paper is “Awareness”. It’s okay to rely on technology for some things and eschew it for other things, but we need to be aware of the choices we make and their consequences. For example, when traveling it is very easy to take the simplest option and catch a cab from the airport to the hotel. In fact, for many people this may be the best option while burdened down with luggage. However, it may be better for others to take public transportation – it’s not quite as simple, but it gives you the first glimpse of life in the city you are in, the first hesitant steps into a new ocean of culture.

Exploring this message, for me at least, is relatively simple. I want to make the reader think about their past experiences, and to make them start asking themselves questions. For example: “What will I want 5 years from now, the picture of the whale taken with a crappy cell phone camera, or the memory of watching the animal in motion, taking in the experience of watching it thrive it its natural environment?” This was a question I asked myself when I was in Alaska, watching the hoards of people lining up with cameras off the side of the ship, hoping to get the “shot”. These questions are what help me to explore my theme, because even outside of travel, nearly everyone has experienced a situation in which either they or someone they were with was too preoccupied with documentation than with experiencing.

Of course, I want the reader to explore the positive effects of technology awareness as well. For example, I view Airbnb as a newer travel technology that is almost overwhelmingly positive. It can easily connect travelers with locals and give them a “truer” experience. In this case of technology bring positive experiences, I believe that awareness is necessary in order to find opportunities similar to Airbnb. Many people aren’t aware of its existence, and may simply “default” to choosing the hotel where you return every night to a generic experience that can be replicated in your own backyard. Along this vein, there are probably even better ways to connect with the place you are visiting that are even better than Airbnb or couchsurfing – I just haven’t had the opportunity to discover them yet.

Overall, to me my paper’s purpose is to make people question their experiences, and to make them consider how their current methods can change to experience places more deeply, and avoid the technology black hole, while still accessing its good points that can improve connection.