March 14th, 2018 | Category: Reviews
Intertextual Orientation: <em>The Pop Palimpsest</em>

During my undergraduate days, my friends and I used to play a silly game. Whenever a situation or topic came up and they pointed to me, I would attempt to recite a relevant rap lyric. Sometimes it was a stretch to get Ice-T or the Beastie Boys to fit a late-night Waffle House run, but I was rarely stumped.
As Gorham and Gilligan (2006) put it, “media allusions represent an important way in which audiences make use of the cultural products around them to form relationships with others and build community …

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February 17th, 2018 | Category: Reviews
Media Literacy: Curing the Common Code

“Media literacy” is as socially contested a term as they come. Its meaning of has been debated at least as far back as 1933 (see Tyner, 2010).It’s not difficult to make the case that Marshall McLuhan‘s work in the main was about media literacy. Not to mention Howard Rheingold‘s lengthy and thorough work on new media and social media literacy.

So much has changed and changed hands since McLuhan left us. The computer moved from business and industry to the home and finally to every place and pocket available. In Coding …

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February 02nd, 2018 | Category: Essays
The Ends Against the Middle

To point out changes in the media landscape is to recite clichés. Everything is different, and nothing has changed.
Those two forces are flipping our media environment inside out. On one end, broadcasting became narrowcasting, and has now become microcasting. Advertisers and politicians are able to send ever-more targeted messages to smaller and smaller groups, moving from the broadcast model of one-to-many to something ever-closer to one-to-one. This shift has allowed an entity to tell one person one thing and then next person something possibly contradictory and gain the support of …

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January 24th, 2018 | Category: Reviews
The Alterity of Cool

William Melvin Kelley’s debut novel, A Different Drummer (Doubleday, 1962), imagines a different America, one where a slave revolt reconfigured the civil war and the nation thereafter. Three weeks before its release, Kelley flipped the term “woke” into its current common parlance in a New York Times Op-Ed piece. His central point was that the African Diaspora was responsible for the cool, “beatnik” slang of the time. One could say the same for hip-hop slang now. Some of it stays in predominantly hip-hop contexts, but quite a lot of it …

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January 10th, 2018 | Category: Essays
Coming to Terms with Dave Chappelle

There is an aspect of speculative design sometimes called “design fiction,” sometimes called “critical design.” Its practitioners basically set out to challenge the hegemony of the present way of thinking about things—buildings, gadgets, objects, whatever. Instead of reifying the currently held ideas, critical design imagines a different way of doing or seeing things.
I distinctly remember the only issue of Blender Magazine that I ever read (August, 2004) had Dave Chappelle on the cover. The mid-00s were the print-magazine format’s last peak, and there were so many of them, newsstands stretching …

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