Oct 202014
 

By: Ashleigh Havens

In September 2013, Israeli start-up company OrCam released the OrCam visual system to help the 300-million visually impaired people in the world “see.” OrCam is a portable device that is similar to Google Glass, composed of a camera and a small computer about the size of the typical glasses case that uses augmented reality. The device attaches by magnet to users’ glasses. OrCam is able to recognize text, products and even familiar faces. At the push of a button or a point of your finger, OrCam recognizes objects, and will read you information through the bone conducting earpiece. This device has a transducer that converts electric signals into mechanical vibrations which sends sound to the internal ear through the cranial bones. This makes the audio discrete so others do not realize you are receiving assistance. Through extended use, OrCam will recognize your personal objects such as credit cards, money notes, friends, favorite products, and more. Using this device helps the visually impaired to become more independent and relaxed about interacting with the world.

This product currently sells for $3,500. There is a possibility for reimbursement if it is covered by your vision insurance plan. Some vision insurance plans, usually premium plans will have limited funding for assistive devices. Most of the time this reimbursement is on a case by case basis. There are grants that you can apply for that you can use toward the cost of the OrCam device.

As with many new technological advances, this device has some faults. First of all, it is only available in the United States and the only language it supports is English. As this product advances the company hopes to make it capable of translating language and available to a wider audience. The OrCam does not recognize handwritten text.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykDDxWbt5Nw&feature=youtu.be

www.orcam.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CyW04lSd4Y

Sep 302014
 

What is often passed off as a negligible and readily available asset could be something that another person was eagerly waiting for. As students, reading forms a crucial part of our academics. However, for a person who is visually impaired, the path to obtain a formal education is wrought with difficulties like dependency on persons with normal vision or awaiting the availability of Braille versions of books. The World Health Organization estimates the population of visually impaired people as around 285 million. Yet, it is saddening to see that our technological advancements have not really been able to help them much. Until now.

Finger Reader Prototype

Finger Reader Prototype (http://indiaartndesign.com/IAnD_images/content2014/July/Fingerreader/FingerReader_IndiaArtnDesign(5).jpg MIT Fluid Interfaces Group )

The Fluid Interfaces group of Massachussets Institute of Technology(MIT)’s Media Lab has been working on a character reader that can fit on a person’s finger and can read text (off a surface) out loud as well as give signals to them. Termed “FingerReader”, the promise of this technology in aiding the visually impaired is in itself a noble cause. However, as scholars of wearable technologies, we need to look at the pros and cons of their design and what could be done to improve upon it.

fingerReader-that-reads-aloud-when-you-point-at-words-3

FingerReader (http://www.technicupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/fingerReader-that-reads-aloud-when-you-point-at-words-3.jpg and MIT Fluid Interfaces Group)

 

Looking at the device, the immediate opinion that springs up is on the aesthetics. The ring seems overly bulky and we can see that there is a chip on one side and a wire that connects to a computer on the other. Having seen the extent of minimizing size whilst improving on the presentability of products, we can immediately say this is still in its development stage. However, when looking at the functional aspect of it, we find that there is much more than meets the eye. The technology seems to rely on a camera fitted on the device that sends in visual input to the system as the finger moves along the surface. Software then identifies spaces and characters and attempts to pronounce the same based on phonetic rules that have been pre-programmed. Although I am not sure about the voice, I think it is safe to assume that it is coming from the system’s built-in speakers and have a robotic echoing effect that would need to be worked upon. The speed of processing is not at the levels we are used to experiencing with the technologies we utilize everyday but, considering the amount of processing that needs to be done with each movement, the speed is appreciable. The Fluid Interfaces Group has put up a demo on their website which I have embedded below.

In the video, we can see that, although slow, the system is able to recognize and pronounce words accurately. The sensors and signals sent to show the ends and starts of lines are a thoughtful addition. The wearer doesn’t seem to feel the weight of the reader much and this is a sign that with future iterations, the size can definitely be scaled down even more. The group promises bluetooth enabling as well as mobile pairing options. It looks to be seen how much longer it will take to get all these implemented with the basic functional prototype. The group seems quite confident in their ability to sell and we can hope their pricing will be kept in a range that is affordable by a section of people who might not be economically well off.

For more details and to get involved with the project, do visit their website : http://fluid.media.mit.edu/projects/fingerreader

 

References : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/08/fingerreader-read-blind-mit_n_5565898.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

http://fluid.media.mit.edu/projects/fingerreader

May 082014
 
Stop Telling Women to Smile by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

Stop Telling Women to Smile is the public art project addressing gender based street harassment by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

 

When saying, “I’m not interested,” is no longer a clear enough signal to leave someone alone. 

In our modern society, it is increasingly difficult for many people to communicate in a direct manner without experiencing apprehension or anxiety. These people may not feel comfortable with social interaction, which may cause them issues with being direct or upfront towards others.  This awkwardness can sometimes lead to uncomfortablethreatening,  or even violent situations. For many people, technology can function as a “screen” that allows them to opt out of real-life, face-to-face interactions. When communicating online, users can set statuses on instant messaging systems (“Do Not Disturb”, “Available”, “Away”) to indicate their availability or willingness to chat.  But what happens to them when they do not have a screen to hide behind and they need help communicating their status to others? If there was an easy passive way for people to clearly communicate their receptiveness to outside interaction, it could potentially prevent miscommunication, confrontational situations, and unwanted advances.  Enter the Instant Status Band. Continue reading »

Dec 192013
 

If you are in class, teaching a class, or in a business meeting, everyone has had the awkward experience off their phone going off at the wrong times.  My project doesn’t make people think about what’s changing or trending.  It adds the affordance of having another option to receiving a text or phone call other than ring tone, vibrate, or silent.  A simple pattern would light up if are getting a phone call and flashing light if have received a text.  You could also remove the board and light and place into a different sleeve allowing a person to choose what design they want to wear on any given day.

My project idea was very simple.  I wanted to make a wrist cuff that would light up a certain way based on if you received a text or getting a call.  However, getting this simple idea to work was not easy at all.  My first problem began with an incompatible board.  I did not realize it incompatible until after I spent several hours, with the help of Harrison, soldering the pins to the Bluetooth module thinking that was the problem.  Once I got that out of the way I was given a loner board and battery source.  Because of the new components, my idea of it being switchable sleeves was gone.  The new component made the wrist cuff bulky.  After finally being able to connect to the Bluetooth, I ran into the problem of not finding any program that would allow the arduino and android talk to each other.  I went through dozen of programs.  Some had the features I needed to get the task done but it didn’t have the option to talk over Bluetooth.  Other were only able to connect to the Bluetooth and that was about it.  I even tried to go a roundabout way by having one program perform the task I needed to get done.  Then try writing a code that would turn on the lights when the Bluetooth was on.  Which didn’t work because either I didn’t write the correct code(which is possible) or pins for the Bluetooth don’t work like the switch or button.  I was given the option to try to write a program for the android but there was no way to learn to write the code in a short amount of time (having four other finals to complete took priority).

After giving up knowing  I would not be able to make the arduino and android talk to each other I moved on to just sewing the parts together.  Because this wrist cuff was bigger I didn’t have to cut certain size pieces of cloth.  I decided to use the folds that were already there so all I do was measure how much cloth I needed and cut off the rest.  Then I sewed the lights and board into the interfacing, which I then stuck into the sleeve.  Because of the different power source, I had to sew that to the outside of the wrist cuff.  But because the positive and negative were to far spaced out from the board and power source i was unable sew the conducive thread corrected.  Instead i just used the clips to provide power.  Since the wrist cuff formed to my wrist the components with the interfacing did not slide around.

I did not want leave the wrist cuff unsatisfactory so I decided to upload a simple code so the lights turn on.  So what I thought was a good idea fell short leaving me with the same thing we did in the first project.  What I’ve learned from this is that what might seem like simple idea in your head could be a strenuous feat to try to actually accomplish with technology.

Dec 172013
 

Completing the CircuitIf you have been around children for any length of time, then you know that the journey towards learning which shoe goes on which foot can be quite a grueling one. For some reason, it seems that some kids insist on ignoring your directions and patient explanations in order to put their shoes on their way (most often the wrong way). This is a problem that I have seen time and time again, which is why I created the Right Light shoes. This handy pair of kicks is designed specifically for those children who struggle in the area of putting on their shoes correctly. The concept is that the child will put on the shoes and, if they put them on the right feet, they can touch their toes together and watch a bright display of LEDs blink on their shoe. If, however, the shoes go on the wrong feet, no amount of toe-touching will make those LEDs light up.

The way that these shoes work is fairly simple. I used the Adafruit Gemma as my motherboard and connected a simple watch battery to it to power it. The negative ends of the multicolored LEDs are connected via conductive thread in the usual manner (all negative ends connected to “ground” on the Gemma), however the positive ends are connected in a slightly different way. Instead of connecting the positive ends directly to the positive petal on the Gemma, I connected them to one half of the heart shape on the left shoe. The other half of the heart is connected directly to the positive petal on the Gemma, which was programmed with the “blink” code. The other shoe has a whole heart shape, also made with conductive fabric, so that that, when pushed against the two heart-halves, it allows the connection to be made between the two halves, thus allowing the positive ends of the LEDs to be indirectly connected to the positive petal on the Gemma. While this may sound rather complicated, the it is primarily a matter of disrupting and then completing a simple circuit.

Hearts

When making these shoes work properly, I did run into a few problems. The main problem was the fact that making my LEDs have proper connection to the conductive thread was exceedingly difficult. It was almost impossible to get my hand inside the shoe enough to be able to make tight stitches when sewing the LEDs into the shoes. Once I made a few adjustments with the shoes (undoing, and later redoing, some seams on the shoes) I was able to continue with much more ease and accuracy. Another problem was that the conductive fabric is highly sensitive and so, once I turned the shoes on, I had to be extremely meticulous about snipping off any loose threads so they would not make an accidental connection. The coding itself was not very difficult because I only really needed to program one pedal on the Gemma and, once I got my computer compatible with the Adafruit system, that came very easily. Using the “blink” code on the Arduino program was the most obvious choice and, aside from compatibility issues with the Adafruit system, all I really had to do was write in the one pedal and choose how rapidly I wanted my lights to blink.

My main mission with these shoes has been to make learning a fun and colorful experience for children. It seems that education is becoming more and more dry and “black and white” when it should be bright, fun, and above all INTERACTIVE! These shoes are a way of teaching the child a relatively valuable concept in a way that they can actually grasp and understand. This little bit of education, I believe, has become a bit mundane for most parents and, therefore, children often do not understand how to correctly put on their shoes until they are much older than is necessary. With a technology like these shoes available, it will open up the opportunity for this lesson to be taught successfully and in a way that will make the child excited to do the task correctly the first time.

Throughout our Fashioning Circuits class, we have gone over a lot of writings that reflect the idea of technology and fashion coming together to make life more entertaining and convenient for people. There is also quite a bit of emphasis on creating wearable tech that is both functional and pleasing to the eye. In the article by Lauren Silvermen entitled, “Where High-Tech Meets High-Fashion“, she quotes designer Jennifer Darmour when she says, ““if we are going to be making these wearable devices and gadgets and we’re asking people to wear them, they need to look good.” This is an issue that I attempted to address with the Right Lights when considering their general design. I purposefully put the Gemma, battery, and LEDs underneath the fabric so that the outside looks far less like a pair of walking robot shoes and more like a pair of everyday children’s slip-ons. This information regarding wearable tech needing to be visually appealing, combined with a large amount of information regarding how to code, and also how circuits function, from the book, Open Software, enabled me to have the tools necessary to create these shoes. They are intended to simply create a fun, interactive, and colorful shoe-wearing experience for children, no matter what their age.

 

Feb 272012
 

You may have thought everyone was there to celebrate films over the last year, but in all honesty – the stories that people will be buzzing about for days after is what everyone was wearing and who made which list – the best dressed or the worst dressed.

Stylists and designers generally wait until the Oscars before bringing out the best in their collections. This year, it was pale shades from cream to nude which proved to be the most popular along with shimmering aspects of all kinds.

Fashion houses are already rushing to produce ready- to- wear inspired by “the most glamorous night of the year” by the time the dresses even make their way to the after parties.

It wasn’t only the fashion being discussed; Sunday’s Oscar ceremony produced 3.8 million comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, according to data generated by Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluefin Labs. With those numbers, it made this year’s awards show the second most talked-about entertainment event on TV since the company began measuring traffic on social media sites.  Comments on such sites surrounding Sunday’s ceremony and red carpet arrivals surged nearly 300% over last year.  Literally, within seconds every minor detail of the Oscars broadcast was scrutinized and joked about.

Dec 152011
 

Technology and fashion are evoloving and intersecting in multiple fascinating and unexpected ways. From clothing that moves to garments that offer healing properties for the skin, techno fashion applications are literally turning the contemporary fashion aesthetic on it’s well dressed head.  Below I have compiled a few examples of recent developments in the techno fashion space. From the exceedingly cool to the just plain weird, the innovations detailed below explore designers and developements on the very cutting edge of the genre.

For every online shopper, a clothing size profile via webcam

As anyone who has ever been caught in phone menu purgatory, attempting to return wrongly sized or ill-fitting online purchases will tell you, the value of this technological innovation is significant indeed.

Take accurate individual measurements via webcam

UpCload, a company based in Berlin, has developed technology to enable online shoppers to accurately take their own body measurements for proper sizing assessments when shopping for clothes online. The only equipment required by the shopper are a webcam and a compact disk for calibration. The tool measures such characteristics and chest circumference and arm length and then adapts those measurements to correspond with online retailers clothing sizes. Even better, shoppers can create a profile to store their measurements and use them to shop at any participating online retailer “to ensure a consistent and reliable fit.” The service is currently in beta but has plans to roll out to stores worldwide and institute social networking capabilities whereby shoppers can compare purchases among their friends. Though there may be some hidden privacy concerns here, I believe this is an excellent marriage of fashion and technology with positive implications for the digital sartorial landscape. Also, no more phone menu purgatory!

Eco-friendly knitwear contains skin-healing properties

Skin healing knitwear from Twosquaremeter

Another German company doing exciting things in the techno fashion space is Innovation and Clothing Factory.  The company recently launched Twosquaremeter, an eco-chic line of knitwear featuring garments constructed from “specially developed biological yarns.” As first reported on springwise.com: “The yarns contain either seaweed fibers or milk protein fibers, both of which are thought to contain healing and nourishing properties for the skin. To produce the milk-based knitwear, natural milk is skimmed and drained before the extracted proteins are processed into fibers. Twosquaremeter claim that these fibers bind sweat and neutralize the smell, while also regulating body temperature.” Other healthful benefits of the line’s garments include clothing constructed from cotton seaweed that is purported to have skin-rejuvinating abilities. Here’s a short video showcasing the brand’s entire line.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7Q_Io5kT9E&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Garments that have the ability to literally heal the wearer really represent the truly limitless potential of the techno fashion genre. Manifestations of the cyborg, whereby clothing augments human capability, have often been met with consumer circumspection. I feel this brand does much to lead the conversation in a more positive direction. Especially, considering that in addition to the healing properties of the brand’s clothing, the label has also made a commitment to ethical business practices including sustainable and environmentally sound garment production. This is surely a label for other brands to watch…and emulate.

Ink-redible Dress Made Out of Vibrating Pen Nibs

 

Nussey and Tai's Pen Nib Dress

In an irreverent take on the concept communicative fashion designer John Nussey and design student Steven Tai have developed a dress constructed from vibrating pen nibs. Literally marrying analog and digital communcations technology, the dress is constructed of 42 rows of vibrating pen nibs with each row wired with a vibrating cell phone motor. Here’s a short video of the garment in action:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/24923549[/vimeo]

The vibrating rows of nibs can be controlled, including being powered on and off, with an arduino. Hence the virating pen nib dress also possesses programming and sequencing capabilities. Of course the dress, like any good garment, is also mobile. Per Nussey in an interview for Wired UK: “The whole lot is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, so it doesn’t have to be plugged in.” With wired vibrating nibs that remarkably resemble sequins Nussey and Tai have literally expanded on the communicative capabilities of fashion in a particularly unique and creative way. Perhaps the Pen Nib dress heralds the beginning of a techno sartorial communications revolution.

 

 Technology Inspired Fashion

The following dress turns Manovich’s media theory of transcoding on it’s head.  If trasncoding is the transformation of media into compter data, what do we call it when computer data is transformed into analog media? Behold the Angry Birds Dress.

Angry Birds Dress

Spotted on an attendee of a gala at the Finnish Presidential Palace, the Angry Birds Dress is media in its truest sense. Indeed it communicates something about the wearer (particularly that she has an offbeat sense of humor) and our contemporary media landscape. Allow me to channel Marshall McLuhan for a moment. I believe we are witnessng here  no less than an extension of man, or woman as it were, as the Angry Birds dress is an apt illustration of the extension of the digital into the realm of the physical. Hence contemporary fashionistas are in the midst of a redefining of the self  – a redefining that must make room for the digital.

These are but a few of the latest developments in the genre of techno fashion. As illustrated here the field is as broad as it is wide, and the implications for these innovations are significant indeed.  As fashion and technology evolve and intersect it will be interesting to witness what innovations will come next.

 

Dec 152011
 

H&M Computer Generated Models

Retailer H&M has received some decidedly negative scrutiny recently for using computer generated models on their website. As reported on mashable.com the retailer came under fire for superimposing real models heads onto computer generated bodies to showcase a range of collections on it’s retail site. To the unsuspecting viewer nothing is amiss, however if one looks closely it becomes evident that all of the models have perfectly identical body types.  Key word being: “perfect.” The retailer has incurred the ire of many who view the casting of virtual models as setting an unrealistic standard for women to live up to.

H&M Under Fire for Using Fake, Computer-Generated Models

This H&M boondoggle puts me in mind of the 2002 film Simone. Simone tells the story of a beleaguered film producer, played superbly with frazzled panache by Al Pacino, who, fed up with the antics of spoiled Hollywood starlets, creates a computer generated actress who proves to be a little too good at her job – and in short order takes over his entire life. The story is a funny, albeit slightly disturbing, modern day, emerging media Frankenstein – and a cautionary tale for brands. However, we’ll touch on that later. Here’s a clip:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkQAIHcpWfI&feature=related[/youtube]

H&M asserts that the fake models make it easier for their customers to focus on the clothes rather than on the models wearing the clothes. Per H&M spokesperson Hacan Andersson, “The result is strange to look at, but the message is clear: buy our clothes, not our models.”

Though the retailer’s strategy was particularly ill advised I’m not sure I read any deliberately dubious intentions. Frankly it strikes me as a rather sophomoric attempt at cost cutting. I am concerned however, with the side effects of this practice. Does the use of fake models set up an unrealistic expectation of perfection among women? Or does it legitimize an expectation that already exists? Contemporary human fashion models most often do not present a realistic representation of the average female body.  Not even close. However the employment of computer generated models, whereby an advertiser can literally code whatever model body measurements they like, literally says to ordinary humans, model or otherwise, “You’re not good enough.” I find this particularly troubling and more than a little misogynistic.

More H&M Computer Generated Models

Indeed, what does this say for the company’s regard for women, it’s primary customer base? Not only is the company legitimizing an unrealistic aesthetic, they are literally dehumanizing half of the world’s population. Placing a real model’s disembodied head onto a fake, computer generated body, a body that is exactly identical to several other fake bodies sporting real heads, is just…offensive.  Terribly so.

Additionally, I find the practice of designing all women’s bodies identical immensely troublesome in itself. If the idealized collective male fantasy is a world where women are literally interchangeable then we as a society are in trouble indeed. Real women’s bodies aren’t identical. Even supermodels figures have variations. While I do suppose it would make it easier on clothing manufacturers if they only had to make clothing in one size, the idea of a world populated with bodily identical women is frankly disturbing.

It is time for retailers and advertisers to realize that the images that they disseminate are more far more than just advertisements for goods. Indeed they are cultural artifacts in the truest sense of the term.  Contemporary advertisements are inevitably informed with  the aesthetic sensibility of the context within which they appear. As much as they promote they also reflect. Perhaps unwittingly, they reflect cultural norms, mores, desires and expectations. They are imbued with meaning far beyond the intentions of the photographer or the commissioning brand. Accordingly they wield a tremendous power that extends far beyond just selling attire. Indeed I contend that images unconsciously promote the idealized self. Now it should be a little more evident why the employment of idealized computer generated, nay computer manipulated, models is a spectaularly bad idea.

Of course I am not suggesting that the masses of the ad viewing public are mindless drones literally powerless to defend our virgin eyes from the whims and caprice of evil brands. Far from it, in fact. The brands, though often misguided, aren’t evil, and the layer of cultural encoding that results from advertisements is complex and nuanced. No one can state with certainty that any advertisement has a direct effect on consumer behavior. It is the cumulative and collective effects, effects that indeed have nothing to do with short term consumer behavior, or merchandise sales, that I am referring to here.  The negative effects of cultural artifacts like the H&M fake model images are far more subtle – and ubiquitious – for both for the viewer and the producer. They make it ok to objectify women, they promote a literally unattainable (unless one day we really will all live in the Matrix) aesthetic ideal, and they legitimize and promulgate the Stepford fantasy…just to name a few.

Poor H&M. It seems the retailer has unwittingly created their own little army of long legged digital Frankensteins. While their computer generated models showed off their merchandise beautifully, and cheaply, they  also did a superb job of showcasing a contemporary ethos bent on misogyny. Good job, girls! Well done! Like the aforementioned movie producer in the film Simone, the brand may find it in their best interest to destroy their creation before they are able to wreak more havoc. However if that film taught us anything it’s that digital cultural artifacts have a way of taking on lives of their own.

Oct 282011
 

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, webphotographeer

The following article details the recent and remarkable rise in the status of fashion bloggers from dismissed outsiders, to contemporary arbiters of style.  Author   explores the current fashion media landscape and examines how fashion bloggers have upset the traditional fashion media paradigm.

Fashion Blogging Grows Up: Why Advertisers Want a Piece of the Action

Personality Rules: The larger Than Life the Better

As the article alludes, and it certainly seems to be the case, a major selling point of the contemporary blogger is the blogger’s unique personality.  I don’t know that I would characterize this as a sharp deviation from business as usual per se (Ever heard of Anna Wintour? How about Nina Garcia?), but it does mark a significant point of departure from traditional journalism.  Indeed one of key pieces of advice I always give my blogging students is to develop their own unique voice. That is because as a blogger, it’s their lifeblood. Bloggers literally live and die (Ok maybe not “literally” but you get my meaning!) by their voice, and moreover their unique personal sartorial aesthetic.  That is, after all, the key reason why we read and follow fashion blogs, for the distinctive voice, personality and taste  of the blogger. As readers we seek out bloggers whose aesthetic sensibility matches, or maybe inspires, our own aesthetic sensibility. We seek out their unique tips, and style guides and the like, as no one but they can present them. But does that mean that objective factual reporting is an antiquated construct? Hmmm…I’ll circle back to that one shortly.

Advertorial vs. Editorial

A particular source of handwringing amongst traditional fashion publishers seems to lie in the tendency of contemporary bloggers to blur the line between endorsement and editorial.  While this is an important distinction, I’m not sure that I agree that it was bloggers who eradicated the sacrosanct separation of the two.  Now don’t get me wrong. There is indeed something to be said about bloggers who fail to disclose that the editorial that they are producing has been commissioned by a particular brand. That is highly unethical and I believe just plain wrong. For reasons why, please see the preceding paragraph. The first “advertorial” that I ever saw, however, was years ago in a traditional print publication – way before fashion bloggers upset the proverbial applecart. Of course the piece was labeled as such, and I had no idea what the heck an advertorial even was, nevertheless fashion bloggers didn’t invent the practice that has traditional publications so peeved. Traditional publications did. In fact, isn’t the ubiquitous infomercial nothing more than a televised advertorial? Dutifully disclosed so as to maintain the established trust with a bloggers readership, established bloggers who accept paid commissions to blog on behalf of brands are doing no more than traditional print publications have been doing all along. There is no inherent conflict here.

Also, what of publications whose editorial is clearly influenced, if indirectly, by the interests of the advertisers they hope to retain or attract? I believe this is a more serious breach of the reader’s trust as the reader is mislead to believe that the writer’s (editor’s, etc.) ideas, information opinions or advice are purely their own and completely uninfluenced. For instance how likely is it that reporter (or an editor, even)  for a fashion magazine will truly take a major designer to task in the pages of the magazine if that designer is also a significant or sought after advertiser in that magazine? Not likely. Well, not if they hope to maintain their status as employed, anyway. So their opinions, at the very least have been…nudged. Of course I’m not advocating that reporters start trashing designers publicly. I only aim to point out the illusion of purely unbiased, uninfluenced reporting. I told you I’d circle back.

Stiletto warfare: Traditional vs. New Media

I, for one, am excited to see bloggers stepping up and taking their place among the heretofore closed ranks of traditional fashion media. Though there has been a shift in the media paradigm I believe that shift is much more subtle than most traditional media would have us believe. There is nothing inherently disingenuous about bloggers being compensated for their unique sets of skills and abilities. Traditional and print personalities have always been compensated for theirs.  Now, as pointed out in this article that I found recently, there is a distinct need for a standard code of etiquette which may (or may not) include the training of independent bloggers on the myriad ins and outs of professional fashion reporting. That is of course if fashion bloggers aspire to be considered journalists. This disconnect, I believe, is the root source of much of the friction that exists between traditional and online fashion media. Of course I say this as a bona fide media outsider. But what if, as the Mashable article indirectly alludes, fashion bloggers are more interested in becoming media personalities, commodities or walking brands even, than reporters? In that case, might not a different set of ethical rules apply? Whatever the case there is certainly room in the contemporary media landscape for more than one type of fashion media…and it’s about time.