I’m glad someone else hates the term “handicapable” Tuesday, Mar 27 2007 

I have always thought it was a terrible term (and I am liberal, so I usually am right up there saying we should call people what they want to be called and disavow anything they don’t or that is offensive)…in fact, I may even say it is offensive to me! Now, if an overwhelming number of disabled folks want me to call them that, I will, but I can’t see them liking that term one bit! Can you? I mean, what are they capable of? Being handicapped?? Or being handy, like a mechanic??? It just confuses me severely. And, as Joe Clark says in his article, “How do Disabled People Use Computers?,” the word is simply “nauseating.” And I like his differentiation of disabled people into their proper subgroups – it reminds me of the way we used to call all Native Americans, “indians,” with little regard to their vast tribal or village-based differences (besides the obvious problem with the word “India-ns,” but I won’t get into that because I still do it, although I try to say Amerindians whenever I think of it!).

Anyway, sorry for the ramble, that is supposed to stay in my other Blog (how’s that for a shameless plug, especially when I have not posted in over a month)!

An issue more directly related to the readings and the subject matter for this week is my amazement at how visually-impaired people use computers at all. I mean, the cpu as a whole, but especially the Web, is an almost completely visually-driven medium. Yes, there is audio (and my friend who works as a sound designer for ads would go crazy if he heard me say this), but it is definitely secondary if it can even be compared to the visual aspects of the Web period.

So, the simulation was amazing! I don’t know about everyone else, but I did it 3 times and only found the phone number! I figured the class enrollment would be in the “class rolls” section, but all I got was that terrible, “the contents of this link are irrelevant to this simulation, period.” Whoa! Sorry man!!

But seriously, that would take an unmeasurable amount of patience (of which I have a lot but not that much) to go through all that to surf around on the Web. But I guess visually-impaired folks already have a lot of hurdles to climb, so this is just one more. But I was amazed by it. And it is kinda cool that you have “Stephen Hawking” talk to you, I saw him speak at a physics conference years ago and he was witty and funny and completely over my head in almost every way!

Boy, I veered off topic a number of times this week, no? Enough rambling out of me…maybe.

Blogs I commented on this week:

image assignment corrections Saturday, Mar 24 2007 

Just wanted to let everyone know that I have made a few modifications to my deplorable image page, so check out the changes if you want. I tried to vignette the Grant on the header a little better, still can’t get it exactly right but it’s much better. And, I actually loaded the originals of those I cropped and resized in case folks wanted to see that I actually did SOMETHING!

Does anyone know where to find the layering thing Prof. P talked about last week, placing the one image on top of the other one when you have those double exposures? I have been messing around with that, as well as this damn coloring thing, which I still stink at, but plan to have in better condition by Tuesday. Wish me luck…

Image Assignment Sunday, Mar 18 2007 

Well, I have been poking and prodding images for days now and I think my eyes are finally glazing over! Possibly the toughest thing I have yet to master is touching up a photo without leaving marks of my own on it. I may have picked images that are too old, but with the amount of damage on some of them, I seem to want to over-touch them (that doesn’t sound good at all, does it??) and when I do, it leaves this pattern that kind of looks like tracks a 4-wheeler would leave…unfortunately, they might be on Ulysses S. Grant’s face!!

Anyway, I am not sending in my site until tomorrow after a little more work, but I just wanted to share one of my more frustrating experiences…

Photograph Manipulation Monday, Mar 5 2007 

So, I asked about manipulating photographs last class and both Mark and Jenny, that I saw, have talked about it in their blogs.

I have been thinking about it more and I guess I am okay with it as long as it is fully disclosed – the changes made and where to find the “original” photo. But then I thought, as reading Cameron Moll’s blogs That Wicked Worn Look and Wornamental, Thornamental and the many linked blogs, don’t photos already convey certain biases and problems before any alterations are made?

For example, I remember in an undergraduate art history class discussing one of Alexander Gardner’s famous photos of several dead soldiers after the battle of Cold Harbor. The consensus was that the photo had been positioned to be as dramatic as possible, with all of the skulls facing the camera and that leg hanging out front. A more contemporary example would be the subject of Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers – the planting of the flag on top Iwo Jima’s tallest ridge. The photo taken of that, which is now immortalized in the Marines monument in Arlington, was the second time that action had been performed with a different flag.

What does this mean for historians? Are those two actions (here I am, for argument’s sake, assuming Gardner’s photo was staged) somehow distorted because of the knowledge that these photos were doctored in some way? I don’t think so, only because what they symbolize and represent (which is, as far as I am concerned, the importance of photos – they aren’t the event, that can never be recreated; instead, photos, just like documentary evidence, are merely representations of the event) is still conveyed – Cold Harbor was a very costly battle in casualties for the Union Army and the Marines had taken the tallest and most heavily guarded pieces of Iwo Jima.

Thus, in the end, I think I lean more towards Mark et al who say a better idea than retooling a photo with the “worn” look to make it appear as it would now after years of aging, would be to make it look like it did when it was taken. Then, I suppose the question is how do we know what that looks like? And that, it seems, is where some good ol’ fashioned research would be needed…