Month: November 2015

Personal Experiences

Over the weekend, I went to a Barnes & Noble. I find it strange that people have “unpopularized” libraries, if you will, but still go to book stores with coffee shops and such to work on personal things. While I completely understand the temptation, because I do this myself, it’s funny to think that libraries could serve the same purpose. Anyway, I’m mentioning this because as I think about my project, I almost felt guilty looking at the section that features the Nook and the new tablets. This made me realize though, how important it is for my final website to argue both sides. The temptation to have a Kindle or Nook or table is strong and constantly pushed in our faces. However, I still think that the physical copy of the book is more rewarding.

I work for STAR-NY, which is a online tutoring program, where I help students edit their papers. More than a few times, I’ve told students that something they wrote is grammatically incorrect, and once they fix it they say, “but Word says it should be the other way” or something along those lines. And it’s completely shocking and sad that many of us don’t even think for ourselves anymore — if a machine says it’s correct, then it must be so. I think, as I’ve said before, we are too dependent on technology. Perhaps this isn’t directly related to artistry or e-books, but technology is becoming so invasive in our lives that we don’t think twice about what’s actually right. I don’t know anyone who cites anything without a website generator that does it for you. I do the same, but I also check mine over. Most people have no idea what it should look like without the generator. As I’ve been working on this project, I realize more and more each day just how invasive technology feels to me.

While e-books, self-publishing, nooks, etc. are all good and advance the publishing industry, I think we shouldn’t forget paperbacks, traditional publishers, and (old-fashioned) thinking for ourselves without having a computer tell us how to do something. So I think both these experiences showed me both sides of this argument and made me realize how I could possibly piece together my website.

Where Do We Draw The Line?

Upon researching some other intersections between artistry and the digital age, I am across an article titled, “Artistry versus machine: Is artistry dying in dentistry and dental labs?” Written by Craig A. Pickett, this article argues that new technologies are cutting out the hand craft of dentistry. He also argues that these machines cannot compare to the craft that is dentistry by hand. Pickett briefly talks about the history of the art was developed for teeth whiting and even says, “Some of the teeth we see in patients are created much more in the Picasso or Seurat style (if you stand back a bit you can see it) than in a form and style we would recognize as artistically created restorative teeth.” His main concern in this article seems to be focused on the fact that technology is ruining the original artistry. He says, “Through automation we’ve been able to produce more in less time, produce more consistently, and produce for a lower price, but in many cases we’ve sacrificed some of the art.”

While reading this article, I couldn’t help but laugh, which is precisely the reason I chose this to discuss in relation to my blog topic. The question that immediately came to mind, as this post is titled, is where do we draw the line? Where is the line between artistry and ridiculousness? if we cannot call self published writers authors (“Self publishing is corrupt”) can we call all professions that require skills art? So which profession makes the cut off? Of course, dentistry takes a skill, but skills and talents are different: one can be learned and one can be developed. Talents could be learned as well, but someone who was not talented to being with probably couldn’t learn the talent to the same extent as a talented person would. Obviously, there are exceptions, but that’s usually the idea.

An interesting distinguishment to make between a talent and a skill is defined on this website. This website defines a talent as “the ability by a person that is inherent, inborn, or naturally occurring. A talent is said to be a special ability to do something without prior experience, study, or tutelage.” They define a skill as the “ability that is learned and practiced for a period of time. A skill is an acquired or obtained ability which is often the result of constant performance and improvement on a particular task or behavior.” Both seem like good definitions to me until I read the next paragraph, which begins with, “Skills are often taught and considered as a demonstrated talent.” I think talents and skills overlap, but not in this way. If anything, a talent is a skill that is naturally inherited, and a skill is the ability to learn to do something well.

This overlap is interesting because by their statement, dentistry is a talent, it’s a form of art. I have to say I disagree, but what do you think? Where do we draw the line between artistry and other professions?

Artistry is Everywhere

The headline to this video and short abstract intrigued me. Though most of the video was interesting but not necessarily related, it connects two separate worlds: business and artistry. Chase Jarvis interviewed Brain Solis about his new book, What’s the Future of Business. This video was particularly interesting because the two discuss, though briefly, the “Creator vs. Creative and the importance of artistry in everything”. Chase Jarvis calls Solis’ book a “new literacy” because from a business point of view, this book was approached and created in an artistic way, which is quite unusual for the business genre. Though Solis, in his answer, does not put the emphasis on being an artist, per se, he does focus on the importance of challenging conventions because “it’s the right thing to do”.

The most important thing he says that drew my attention to connect this video with this research project was, “artistry was a function of communicating the point” (Solis). I draw the attention to this quote specifically because this is where the break is in technology. Technology has it’s ups and downs when it comes to medium and messages. This is one of those cases. This book he created differs from the norm in that it doesn’t have a table of contents. it has pictures and quality images, colors, etc. The idea was not to create another book about someone who we think or perceive as being a successful businessman, but rather a time of leadership and trying things differently in order to reach the audience in a new and attention grabbing way (Solis, 6:15-7:40). My point here is this cannot be done on an e-book. Sure, e-books have advantages, but certainly not like print, which can be very much interactive between the pages and the book itself.

To that point, technology is very biased in the way that print will never be. In Henry Farrell’s interview with Astra Taylor, they discuss her book, The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age, and in this particular section, the bias we are blind to. Her book focuses on “how information technology and market changes are reshaping art and culture”.

Astra Taylor says at one point, “…these catered services generally rely on centralized vendors and services, like Amazon or Apple, that control the hardware we are using and the content we consume….Certain barriers to cultural participation have been removed, and we can all post on social media or comment on articles, but massive asymmetries of power persist” (Farrell). The second video linked in the page on Brain Solis’ interview with Jarvis, talks about Apple. In short, Solis says, Apple is a visionary company, and without a clear goal in mind, without sharing with their consumers what they have in mind for the company’s future, many of their users who use Apple products to accomplish certain things are not responding favorably to the backlash (I assume they are discussing the release of the free music trial, which at first didn’t pay any royalties to artists until Taylor Swift publicly called them out). He goes on to talk about “how we lose sight of what the company’s sole is all about…we lose sight of what that business represents”.

These quotes are significant in the way we look at certain artistry. Artistry is truly everywhere, especially in Apple’s products and hardware/software. Apple is an aesthetic company that controls much of our technological intake. Artistry is a big part of what made Solis’ book possible and artistry is hitting a barrier when it comes to technology. These two quotes, though discussing very different things, both show the impact of technology on artistry.

Works Cited

Farrell, Henry. “Five Key Questions – and Answers – about How Digital Culture Is Hurting Art.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 6 May 2014. Web. 6 Nov. 2015. 
Solis, Brian. “The Importance of Artistry in Business and Everything.” Brian Solis. Brian Solis, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.

Digital Piracy and the Artist

Digital piracy is the ultimate fear for any artist. To do something for a living without receiving the rightful pay is pretty aggravating. But everyone has illegally downloaded something or other at one point in their lives. That’s the world we live in.

Digital piracy was at one point mostly popular with music. “‘If iTunes started three years earlier, I’m not sure how big Napster and the subsequent piratical environments would have been, because people would have been in the habit of legitimately purchasing at pricing that wasn’t considered pernicious,” said Richard Sarnoff, a chairman of Bertelsmann, which owns Random House, the world’s largest publisher of consumer titles.” This is an interesting point that he makes. I’m inclined though to believe that there will always have been some sort of digital piracy for music, or anything else digitally available, since people always want more for less. Perhaps we would not have been as hungry for free music, but to some degree YouTube makes that hunger a reality. If we can listen to it for free, why can’t we have it on our iPods for free?

Digital piracy has expanded since then to not only music, but films, and since pdf’s and e-books, print as well. “Now, with publishers producing more digital editions, it is potentially easier for hackers to copy files. And the growing popularity of electronic reading devices like the Kindle from Amazon or the Reader from Sony make it easier to read in digital form.”

Though published in 2009, this article still remains timely as self publishing (through companies like Amazon and Apple, who have the Kindle and tablets) is growing and challenging traditional publishers. In fact, I would argue that the need to have more content for a smaller price, even free, is becoming worse. Although now Amazon is allowing authors to set their content at their own price, many buyers are very stingy, and authors, especially in fiction, know they cannot overcharge for their books. After all, the consumer is who the writer writes for, and without pay, the write might write, but certainly not for a full time job. Consumers have the power to drive prices down, but thankfully, there are still avid readers who still believe in paying authors and creators their rightful royalties.

Digital piracy definitely does not have the same affect on artists who produce paintings, drawings, and other forms of art in that respect. However, if you Googled Van Gogh’s Starry Night, not only is it readily available, but you can find it in a wide range of sizes, versions, colors, etc. So it’s definitely there for all types of art, but does not affect them all equally.

While reading this article, I was really surprised to see Wattpad listed. When I was in high school, I posted content on Wattpad, and I really liked the website for one reason: it had copyrights for every user for free. No matter how large or small of a portion the site’s content is made up of piracy, this violates authors’ copyrights to their content. And it obviously doesn’t end with Wattpad; all piracy is a violation of copyright. Copyright is especially aggravating because not only is it a violation of the royalties that rightfully belong to an author, but it also somewhat violates their privacy and intimacy with their own ideas, content, and time and effort that they’ve invested in their book or whatever it may be. This might be a stretch, but that is certainly how I would feel if my book was being pirated.

Works Cited

Rich, Motoko. “Print Books Are Target of Pirates on the Web.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 11 May 2009. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.