The Digital Divide

Comic: Rapter Agent

C is for Celebrity

iToon on Swiss iPod

And the Password Is

Comic: Dr. Philistine

iToon on Apple Tree

Brain Splatter





Vol. 6 No. 8

March, 2007




Don't forget to check out the







The Digital Divide ANALYSIS

The simple photograph has come a long way. It was first the realm of highly trained chemists who through magic made images appear on glass, and through the years has become so simple a small child can capture images. Technology has created a divide on what is now the true definition of a photograph.

We are all familiar with the humble snapshot. The photo albums across America's living rooms are filled with Polaroids of birthday parties, vacations and family holiday pictures. Preserving the past and memories has been infused into the American culture when society embraced the concept of putting technology into the hands of the average working class person. Whether it was waiting for a roll of 35 mm film to come back from the drug store or waiting for the instant picture to develop before peeling back the paper layers, part of the charm of taking pictures is the “reveal.” It is like opening a tightly wrapped present: you don't know what you have until you open it. Whether the image was good or bad (well lit, composed properly, defined space and subject matter in a frame) really did not matter to the average consumer. Taking photographs of the family was an activity, an archive of memories, to be passed on to be shared by the next generation. Children of shutterbugs have grown up with the idea of a camera recording family events. But in the beginning, getting a family picture meant going to a studio to have a professional capture that moment in time. The professional snapshot was the formal portrait, the photographic equivalent to the master painter who attempted to capture the image and soul of his subject on canvass.

For the amateur, the family snapshot's main pit fall is the “red eye” of the subjects. So the kids looked like satan's army, there was nothing one could do once the photograph was developed and printed. With the newer digital cameras, smart cameras can attempt to compensate for common errors like red eye. It even gives the photographer a chance to see the image immediately to determine if he needs to reshoot the subject, change the angle, or add/decrease the light source. The better the tools, the greater the chance of creating an acceptable picture.

Even if the image is not perfect in the camera, most people now have access to digital photography software. Photo printers come with basic image control software to clear up red eye, adjust color and contrast levels, and crop the scene. These basic techniques have been transported to a computer instead of a dark room of burning and dodging light to enhance the qualities of the image captured on the film. Most people would not consider this type of photo manipulation as being unprofessional or unethical. It is merely bringing forth the information stored within the actual image. It is not actually altering the reality of the final photograph.

But many professional photographers are finding their craft being warped by digital image manipulation. A photograph to them represents the actual subject matter frozen in time by the camera's lens. It is viewed as a historical document of a time and of a place. When a fashion photographer poses models, he or she is not interested in documenting a specific person in time or space. The goal is to create the most interesting photographic image (normally to sell magazines with covers or beauty products in ads). The fashion industry uses common standard operating procedures to enhance their images: whiten the eyes to make the models “healthier,” blend skin tones to take away an individual's tone spots or blemishes, and alter arms, legs or waists to make a more sexy waif appearance. These techniques are part of commercial photography because that's what the client demands in the end production.

The commercial enhancement has developed into “concept photographs.” The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words" is an accurate accounting for an interesting photograph that causes a person to react to the image. In the age of tabloids (before television/cable/internet), bloody black and white crime scene photographs on the front page sold urban newspapers. Historical representations of a scene or event became the early mission of photographers. The nation turned from one of an oral history to a written/documented history around the Civil War. Some of the most haunting and most significant documents of the time were the post battle pictures of Gettysburg and other major campaigns. One could read accounts of the battle and its aftermath, but viewing images of the dead, the injured, and the exhausted soldier in camp brought new understanding that words could not convey. The photographs of battles were not staged events; the photographer was their in a role of a historian to capture the images that his own eyes saw so he could share them with others. But today, some photographers go to great lengths to stage elaborate photographs that attempt, through imagery and props, to convey a story. Rolling Stone magazine is an example of this concept photography with its glitzy cover mock-ups.

It could be argued that there is nothing wrong with concept photographs on the cover of magazines. The commercial photographic image is there to sell magazines not depict an actual event. It is entertainment value and not event recordation. Purists worry about the concept of image intregity. If a photography is what the lens saw, the digital manipulation of that image is not truly a photograph anymore - - it is more an art work. The true ethical concern is when a photograph is manipulated to change the image in order to create a different reaction to the viewer. An example of this was the manipulation of an O.J. Simpson photograph during his murder trial, which added a rough beard which created a sinister quality. When a news magazine publishes such an altered image without telling its readers, the readership believes that it is an accurately represents the subject. It is now easy to change images with the simple clicks of mouse in Photoshop. When one combines images from different photographs into one image, that image is no longer a photograph, conservative professionals would say because the final image does not represent an actual camera capture. For example, it took less than two minutes for the author to take two unrelated photographs, combine them, and filter the image into a graphic of a woman pointing a gun at the back of one's head:

With some time, one could manipulate multiple images to look like a single photograph, capturing a event that never happened in real life. And that is the conservative professional's dispute with the ease of digital photograph manipulation: one can create fictional images but sell them as truth.

The latest example of this is the new Derek Jeter Topps baseball card. As a hoax or joke, an employee merged George Bush and Mickey Mantle into the background of the Jeter card. It was not supposed to be printed, but found its way past the proofers and into the set boxes. If the image was printed to capture a moment in Jeter's career, it was destroyed by the misinformation inserted into it. Professional photographers would call the final product a doctored picture to a fraud. With the ease of photographic manipulation, it is easy to understand why some do not believe in electronic evidence or secondary prints of subject matter.



Inspired by the world being on the verge of the wide world of professional video gamers,

there will be the same kind of professional sports weird craziness, like prima donna players and strange pro agents.

And the with the term, Rapter, we defer to the Japanese anime spelling just to be difficult/different.






It is a non-stop non-story which is being force fed into every form of media. There has been more coverage of this event than former President Ronald Reagan's funeral. The cause is Celebrity and the event is the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Who really should care?

The media has created a massive soap opera saga over an unemployed, overexposed, drugged out woman who stretched her 15 minutes of feating fame into a bas cable reality career by being the lowest common denominator on the stupid scale. Every cable “news” talk show leads with the story. The home page on most news sites have a lead link on the story. It is just insane.


This story shows what's wrong in American society today. It shows the lack of media producers concept of news. It shows cable opinion heads spouting misinformation, rampant speculation of evidence destruction, murder, and creating a media circus in an attempt to garnish ratings. Since this is not a news event, how can it pass as entertainment? Has our society sunk so low in the gutter to find 24/7 coverage of a vultures surrounding a dead woman the most important thing in the world since early February?

The creeps come out of the woodwork to hog camera time. It shows the worst of the journalism profession and the judicial system (whatever is left of either). A week long televised insane asylum meeting called a Florida probate proceeding, to decide the sole issue of custody of a dead body under the law, went on so many irrelevant paths that one would think it was a dress rehearsal for a remake of the Wizard of Oz. Instead of looking up the actual Florida law, commentators (most from outside Florida) blabber like no tomorrow on these irrelevant nuisances like this a a cruel cock fight sporting event. The probate proceeding should have lasted ten minutes because the Florida law on dead bodies in the coroner's office is clear: it is to be released to the surviving spouse, and if none, to the person's parents, then next of kin, relatives, friends, and then if no takers, to the state medical society. But in the end, a celebrity wannabee judge gives custody of the body to a 5 month old child??

The appalling fact is that no one has any news sense of news judgment on these matters. How on earth can two men with no visible means of support who allege to be the father of a child afford three sets of lawyers in three different jurisdictions? The dirty rumor is that the news-entertainment agencies are funneling money to parties in order to get “exclusive” interviews or access for their shows. This would be beyond ethical boundries; this would be a scandal - - - checkbook entertainment and story manipulation by the media. But that what is easy, simple and cheap to produce today: tawdry celebrity gossip. Cable television has created an entire zombie army of C-list, non-accomplished, unwatchable reality actors that the general public is force fed to admire. It sends the wrong message: you don't have to be smart, intelligent, or create anything of value in order to be famous. You can sponge off people by claiming to be a celebrity, claiming to be wealthy when you are not, and get the cameras to follow you anywhere because you act crazy. It makes you want to rip out the cable box and throw it where the programming originates from, the garbage can.




And the Password Is . . . STATE OF MIND


Quick - - - how many passwords to do you have? Ah ha!! You don't know off the top of your head. Neither do I. In fact, I have probably forgotten more passwords than I can recall at the moment.

Just about everything you do on-line needs a password. Your IP account log-in; if you do on-line banking; if you go to a software company site for support; if you shop on-line at stores, each one has its own account log-in screens; professional member only pages; news web subscription services . . . and I know I am personally missing many many more examples.

Passwords are a necessary evil. Identify theft is still the fastest growing white collar crime in the world. But passwords are the ball and chain of our existence. Nothing is more frustrating than navigating to a site, attempt to log-in and you can't get the password right. Now some sites will email you your password. But what if the password is part of your digital key to open up a software program . . . you are boned unless you wrote down the password somewhere. Which in some respects defeats the whole purpose of having a secure password if you have to write it down some place, in a log for example. How protected is that?

People say you should step up your password protection by using alpha-numeric passwords. Unless your mind thinks and reads in Klingon, most people will forgot those equations by the time they log off the screen.

The next evolution of the password will be the scan. Retina. Fingerprint. Real Big Brother interface. But at least you won't have to remember a clever sign-in phrase.


Inspired by the souls being lost in the sink holes of cyberspace, comic commentary cyberbarf style.






Brain Splatter

CISCO SETTLES. Apple Computer and Cisco Systems settled their dispute over the iPhone trademark. Both companies will be able to use the term, iPhone, on their products and services. Apparently, part of the deal is that Cisco and Apple will cross license phone technology. Tech companies are so criss crossed with cross licensing agreements it makes the California freeway system look simple.

MICROSOFT HIT. Microsoft lost $1.5 billion dollars in a patent suit. A federal jury found that Microsoft infringed on patents for the encoding of MP3 files in its operating software. One suspects Microsoft will appeal the decision. Microsoft thought it had licensed the technology from a German firm, but alleged licenses may not worth what people think they are, especially in the open source community.

MULTITASKING. A young, urban professional was recently killed in a traffic accident. Police on the scene found that the man's computer was plugged in the cigarette lighter, and the laptop was still running. Apparently, this man was trying to drive and do work on his laptop at the same time. The consequence of this “multitasking” was a fatal traffic accident.

NUMBERS. There was a back door statistic that is hard to believe. There are 100 million cell phones in the United States. That is a large number. But the USA only has 300 million people . . . that means one in every three man, woman, and child has a cell phone. You would think that stat has to be wrong; then begin to count the number of family members who have cells for work or personal use . . . and one easily can conclude that 100 million may be on the low side.



The Sultanate of Clintonia-Rogstaden

The global on-line gaming experience has quietly exploded into a a bandwidth python of multi-hour, multi-kingdom game spheres. Whether it is the team combat arena, or the total simulated fantasy genre, more and more men and women are using their free time to escape to a virtual world. As a result of our tech guru's prodding suggestion, has created Sultanate of Clintonia-Rogstaden. Readers will have a running update of the status of this virtual country; get the backstories outside the game's program. For example, check out the images of the national currency. There will be inside jokes, satire, humor and pulse of a real bizarre country. New features will be added on a regular basis. So check out the cyber-soap opera of nation building here at

Your Interest keeps this Site moving forward.


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