Weekly 4: On Fiction and Television Form

And a happy new year!

Update

From doing just a tad bit of reading recently, and watching many many movies and tv series, I’ve been growing a stronger admiration for fiction, or more so storytelling. I don’t know exactly what it is — maybe it’s the way it forces you to imagine and/or empathize to engage with it, maybe it’s just plain escapism, maybe it’s drawing connections between things is a better way of understanding than just accepting new knowledge — but something about consuming a story is so special. I wish I could articulate it better. If you’ve ever read or watched or heard something on this topic that resonated with you, feel free to share it with me.

Reflection

Happy New Year!

This semester, and for much of quarantine, I’ve sort of done the whole setting and reflecting on goals and designing systems and all that. I started doing it so frequently that I’ve become kind of sick of it. I (and really everyone subconsciously) have goals in mind, but I’m not going to pay as much deliberate regard to them as I once did. Intentionality can come in other forms.

Other than that I don’t really have much to say on the topic. If you’re setting S.M.A.R.T goals, and designing systems to adhere to them very rigidly, I commend you for your intentionality. If you’re going about the year sort of aimlessly, I commend you for your flexibility. Live your life.

Thought

I have some more fleshed-out ideas on the back burner however I’m not ready to share them. So instead, here are two unrelated things I’ve thought about recently.

Where did the idea that mice like cheese come from? Cheese is something that mice would never find naturally. It makes no sense that they’d have a biological preference for even dairy in general yet that’s all I know about their diet. I looked it up, and I learned that it may have originated from how back in the day meat was left hanging up, and other fruits and vegetables where stored higher up on shelves, so the cheese was the only thing lower to the ground, and therefore mice just ate it because it was all they had access to and not because they had a preference. But how did it become so widespread?

During the era of television, because people couldn’t deliberately choose what they were watching, networks accommodated the format of shows to be encapsulated within a 20–30 minute time frame, and stories often didn’t have very nuanced, broad arcs so that people could tune in anytime and still be entertained. Now that we can watch whatever shows we want whenever we want, newly produced shows are featuring more overarching plotlines. I recently saw Joe Rogan say in an Instagram post, “new streaming shows are like watching a great movie that goes on for 7 or more hours.” It’s not even just “like” that, it’s starting to become exactly that. You see more short series like The Queen’s Gambit, The Last Dance, Unbelievable, or Maniac that completely wrap up in 7–10 episodes. At that point, it becomes a single continuous film that’s allowed 8 hours to explore its story, and it’s awesome. Streaming platforms have allowed form to evolve in favor of telling better stories, with creative directive unmediated by network executives/typical corporate motivations.

UIUC CS | alecchendev.com

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