As I grew up, I never really realized how technology had developed and evolved as I had. It didn’t truly set in until 2012, after some time at a Columbia University summer program that I received an email and embarked on a correspondence that would spawn one of the most important friendships I had.
During that correspondence, I marveled at what technology allowed us to do, sending letters and messages across the world in the blink of an eye. As schools started using technology more, I realized that the technology I had struggled to use as a child had become far more intuitive, as my bad memories with PowerPoint dissipated in the face of Apple and more intuitive menus and commands.
Graphics felt a lot sharper, so much realer, and computer games and online videos didn’t feel as janky as they had in the past. And while my parents discouraged me from exploring video games and the Internet, viewing it as a dangerous distraction, it didn’t stop me from dabbling. I loved messing around with video games, although my play skills were (and are) still relatively undeveloped. I wish I had played around with them further, to sharpen them. (It’s something I plan to work on, though.)
As a result, I never got into video games myself. But I grew to enjoy those that would commentate over their recorded gameplay, and one night, as my friends and I tried to beat a horror video game and failed miserably, I stumbled across a YouTuber named Markiplier, who screamed and flailed as he was lambasted by virtual monsters and tried to put forward positivity with his community and his live streams that raised money for charity. Eventually, YouTube as a whole came to overtake television and even rival reading as my primary source of entertainment.
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter were more “distractions” for my parents, and so they forbade me from joining until I was old enough, and even then, they felt like novelty toys that grew tiring rather than useful and I never really truly appreciated them until they became integral in more recent years.
However, WordPress was what truly caught my attention. The idea of being able to share my reading with people across the world was intoxicating, and I reveled in browsing through themes and writing as many posts as I could. And gradually, as I began reaching out and following other bloggers, I started creating a small following of my own. It was the most thrilling thing and since I brought it to a close, I’ve been looking for the next venture to immerse myself in.
What I ask myself is what exactly I should do. Blogs are no longer entirely relevant, and nowadays, they don’t merely offer text. They’re also accompanied by other types of content that require skills that I don’t have, and I have to face down the fear and uncertainty of having to learn entirely new things. I think during these sketches, as I was pushed to try new skills with Photoshop and Tableau, I’ve faltered and struggled. It’s a new feeling, and I just need to get back up and find the motivation to carry on.
Creating graphics for the Equality of Opportunity Project, experimenting with entirely new softwares (Tableau and Snowball) have allowed me to increase my knowledge with a lot of trial and error. It was again, markedly difficult but I kept going and I managed to create graphics that I’m much more proud of than the products I made for the initial avatar and podcast graphics. With streaming and practicing Photoshop tutorials in my downtime, I’m coming at this with a “try everything” attitude that is somewhat marred by parental advice to stay on the straight and narrow with writing. This is what I struggle with, but I think I know that I need to evolve with the times, as new media does.
Looking at Jenkins’ set of literacies, I’ve found that my experiences give me an advantage in simulation with my overly descriptive writing. Watching YouTubers take old media and integrate it into their new media (i.e. Every Frame a Painting) gives me an idea of how appropriation can be done right. Transmedia navigation actually comes to me remarkably easily for some reason with traversing different blogs. Networking allowed me to build up my first “big” blog. My perfectionist nature, however, made for a weakness.
On that note, my weaknesses, I think, lie in play, which has to do with a natural weakness that was not exercised with video games or other problem solving technology. Performance is also an issue, as seen in my podcast episodes, where I was apparently nervous at first of taking center stage. My greatest weakness and barrier to productivity is multitasking. For I have a one track mind and I struggle to focus on more than one thing. In fact, that is the only reason why I am glad to be a latecomer who wasn’t raised on technology- I have no idea how I would ever be able to focus on completing any sort of project otherwise, for I am already busy with balancing my work, and I already suffer from distractions as is.
Overall however, I look with fondness at technology. I look at pages rife with images and effects and both audio and video recordings, and I wonder at the fusion of mediums that we are surrounded with, at how normal they’ve become to me after a childhood wrapped up in books and older media. I can’t wait to explore them further as they grow.