What's Being Said About Transparency

ImageI created Transparency in 1996 and early 1997 to offer a portion of my writing on what I consider to be some of the central issues in our lives. I'm happy to say that the site evoked a powerful response on the Internet: the writing was used in college classrooms in many places around the world; students cited them in papers, and a large number readers expressed positive opinions in letters and on web sites. I've counted about 150 classrooms that used the work, but I think the total is a lot higher.

I have collected information documenting some of this on this page, as a way of letting you know that the site has credibility and that my work is worth attending to. But it turns out much of this information -- and many of the quotes they take from the website -- also provides a good overview of what you may find of interest on Transparency.

First let me give you some quick facts about myself. My name is Ken Sanes and I live in the Metro Boston area. I worked in the newspaper business from about 1978-1989, where I held various positions, including editorial writer and columnist. Over the years, I've published a handful of pieces in prominent publications, including the Boston Globe, the Nation, Newsday, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Boston Herald. In addition, my writing has been referred to by other news organizations, such as the Wall Street Journal's (which is now part of the main Journal website).

That said, here is information on how the site has been used and what has been said about it. It should be noted that none of these comments mean the authors endorse things I've written (except where they specifically say so), or that I endorse everything on their web sites. And please keep in mind that some of the websites that are referred to may no longer be online, and other changes may have taken place since some of these items were written.

Here are the examples: 

Howard Aldrich, Professor & Department Chair, Sociology, and Adjunct Professor of Management in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, lists Transparency on a page of "Web Sites That Will Help You Research and then Write Your Paper." He says, "the site is linked to probably by more than a thousand sites around the Internet, including college sites for classroom use, online magazines, and web indexes of the best resources on the Internet."

* Transparency was recommended as a resource on the web site of the Channel One Network. It described Transparency as: "Media critic Ken Sanes remarkable web site, full of thoughtful essays about the challenges and delights of living in a media saturated society."

* Steve Campsall at Beauchamp College in Oadby, Leicester, England, wrote: "I have used a number of essays from your site to help my A-level Media Studies students understand various aspects of the media industry.... For myself, I continue to be amazed - am almost in awe - at the quality of the essays on the site. Very well done indeed."

Mediateca. CaixaForum Barcelona, a media library at a prominent cultural and arts center in Barcelona, says this about Transparency: "A magnificent theoretical area which contains a careful selection of critiques of the mass media, politics, and popular culture. It tries, as its slogan indicates, to aid understanding of and reflection on various aspects of cinema, television, news, political rhetoric, theme parks, advertising, video games, and the Internet. It contains the following essays and books: The Age of Simulation, Simulation & Postmodern Society, The Landscape of Fiction, Analyzing Media, Media Criticism, Image and Action and Deconstructing the News, among others. Professional, exhaustive. and to the point. Simply outstanding."

* Zeff Bjerken, a teacher in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the College of Charleston, planned to use my essay on the Truman Show in a class on Peter Berger's ideas on the social construction of reality. " Your essay on this film does a wonderful job describing many of the themes that I would like my students to see," he wrote in an email. " Thank you for creating such an excellent site and for promoting the kind of critical analysis of popular media. Excellent work!"

* Sumana Harihareswara used a number of essays from the site to teach a class at UC Berkeley on "Politics of the Mid-Life Crisis". Students read the essay Truman As Archetype while watching "The Truman Show" and the essay Contemporary Storytelling: Tales of Life Way After the Fall while watching the movie "Dave". "In general, I think I was informed by your point of view, and used it consciously and unconsciously in leading class discussion on many or all of the films, which included 'Pleasantville,' 'Election,' 'Bulworth,' 'The Matrix,' 'American Beauty,' and 'AntZ,' Harihareswara wrote. "I encouraged students to read your essays to provoke new ways of thinking about these films, especially when it comes to power and personal transformation. Thanks for writing such insightful essays on the ideas behind the movies."

* Giorgos Epitidios, President of the Hellenic Association of Internet Professionals in Greece, says on his web site: "If you are interested in media criticism you can learn a lot about this and many other subjects from a site called Transparency. Give it a try and you will not regret it."

* A class by Peter Holmes at the University of North London used essays on Disney and Sherry Turkle. "In IT290 we meet in a seminar for advanced level undergraduates at the University of N. London, situated close to the centre of London; currently about 30 students are taking this semester long course..." Holmes wrote. "The topic of hyperreality and postmodern culture figures in a couple of weeks discussions, and Sherry Turkle has obviously relevance in this domain, given her ability to identify worlds in creation. Disney is a further aspect... .Many of the students found your work offered an accessible entry into these general questions, and they were thankful that someone could address the issues without descending into abstruse academic jargon."

* A piece by me summarizing some of these writings ran in the Focus section of the Sunday Boston Globe in 1992. It inspired a program on Chronicle, a TV news magazine in New England, which briefly discussed some of the ideas now contained on the site.

* The Archeology and Material Culture site by Paul R. Mullins, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, says that Transparency offers a "brilliant theory and critique on everything from Baudrillard to Gilligan's Island." Disney's Distorted Mirror was also an assigned reading in Dr. Mullins' class, "Popular Culture," at the university.

* The essay Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Salvaging the Future was a reading assignment a number of times in the Myth and Film course in the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Richmond.

* Mark Davis, a teacher at Sacred Heart Preparatory in San Francisco, wrote the following: "I teach a class called Apocalyptic Literature at Sacred Heart Preparatory, and two of my students included essays by you in their term projects: anthologies of apocalyptic literature around a central theme. Of all the works we've discovered on the Web, yours have been the most lucid. Indeed, that seems to be the point of Transparency...."

 Richard Burman, a student at the University of North London, used the essays on The New Culture War and Disney World: Cities of Simulation as Postmodern Utopias for his essay on "Popular Culture and the Logic of Consumption." "So what is it we are looking for from the ‘consumer experience'? Some kind of 'phony transcendence,' as Ken Sanes puts it....Advertisers (capitalize) on humanity's 'deepest dream' of transcendence, our need for something of significance larger than our own lives...."

 Jane Chang, a student at Grinnell College in Iowa used the Transparency essay, The Fake Heaven of Claritin as a source for her paper, "Drugs, Money and Advertising" in a class on Biomedical Technology and Human Perfection. "Sanes also claims that the (Claritin) commercial goes beyond selling the image of the good life and suggests that, 'by using the product we will achieve transcendence from the weighted down world of mundane life,'" she writes."

* Assistant Professor Kimberley Lund planned to use essays on the media from Transparency, including Society as a Simulation Machine, as assigned readings for classes at the School of Architecture & Design, American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

* Professor James R. Elkins, who teaches a course on Lawyers and Literature at West Virginia University, has used Transparency as a source of ideas and recommended it a number of times to students and other readers. On one page he wrote: "Ken Sanes, who has a website called “Transparency” (where we find a far more instructive commentary than we do in the work of most legal film critics) talks about 'a master plot of existence,' a plot in which, 'we are all stranded in nature and society, and in ourselves, yearning for things to be made whole. Everything else is subplot.' [Ken Sanes, 'Contemporary Storytelling: Tales of Life Way After the Fall,' Transparency.] Sanes argues that much of what we find in popular fiction and film reflects our 'moral yearnings.' He goes on to say: 'It [fiction] is an expression of our drive to meaning, in which authors temporarily lift themselves out of the mysterious world and create their own mysterious worlds, in an effort to make manifest what is hidden in the original.' ”

On a page titled Archaeology of Criticism, Elkins quotes Transparency: "All of us contain within ourselves an inherent knowledge that we are in a fallen state and a state of exile. We know intuitively that humanity is lost in a maze of forgetting, trapped in neurotic selves, societies of violence and power, cultures of manipulation, and a realm of nature that is experienced as something alien to us."

On a page titled "lawyer as storyteller," Elkins says: "I'd like you to consider the essays I provided you by Ken Sanes in this context. I stumbled on to Ken Sanes website, Transparency, some years ago and I've found Sanes's essays useful and instructive."

He then recommends six Transparency essays including:

Popular Fiction and the Quest for Freedom
The Real Self in a Virtual World: Popular Culture as an Expression of Human Nature
Story-Based Simulations: Art and Technology Masquerading as Life
Contemporary Storytelling: Tales of Life Way After the Fall

* Here is what an online service in the UK, which included the site in a list of recommended destinations, said about Transparency: "The place where New Age meets psychoanalysis to deconstruct classic American situation comedies such MASH, I Love Lucy, Gilligan's Island and The Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as other vehicles of multimedia. Each scholarly point made seems to indicate that we are trapped within our daily lives and are yearning to break free. This, of course is a simplification of the ideas explored on this site, but pretty much sums up its general philosophy. Worth checking out if you are in the mood to be enlightened." (I lost track of the identifying information on this one, and the page apparently no longer exists.)

* The web site for the class, "Holocaust and Other Genocides," taught by John Foreman at Father Ryan High School in Nashville, TN, included a link to the Transparency essay, Hate Becomes a Commodity. It was on a page titled, "The Study of Hate" and said: "'This essay explores a new variation on this endless historical game of dehumanization and degradation. Now, we have a political system and media that gain much of their profit and power by turning public figures into scapegoats..."

* The American Indian Representations web site, by Pauline Escudero Shafer, said of Transparency, "Many very good critical analyses here on film, media, television. It is comprised of film, popular culture, post-modern and post-colonial theory and is a website that provides excellent media criticism approaches.... Definitely worth some exploration time." 

* Steven Dick used the essay Principles of Media Criticism as a reading assignment for a course on media at Southern Illinois University.

* Richard Zake used the Transparency essays Truman As Archetype and The Fake Heaven of Claritin in a class he taught on film theory at Chicago State University.

* An article titled "Is a 'real' Truman show a good idea?" in the Guardian, a prominent news website in the U.K., says, "There's an interesting Truman site by a Ken Sanes who says the Truman Show tells us that 'if we want to be free and have a chance at an authentic life, we will have to distance ourselves from the safety and comforts of our media-saturated culture and be willing to live in the world as it is'."

My essay, "Advertising and the Invention of Postmodernity," appeared in the eighth edition of the textbook, "The Contemporary Reader," by Gary Goshgarian, published by Pearson Longman.

* A course titled, Pop Goes Elitism*: Postmodern Discourses in the U.S., at the University of Detroit, Mercy, used a number of Transparency essays as readings. The page said: "Very smart stuff on popular culture, postmodern criticism and analyses, as well as a site on Simulation and Postmodern Society from which the following Disney essays are taken...."

It quoted from the front page of a section titled The Age of Simulation, which summarizes the essay, Disney World: Cities of Simulation as Postmodern Utopias: "Like much of popular culture, Disney promises to let us escape the limits of everyday life into a fictional realm of endless happiness in which time and space no longer constrain us. It lets us do now, in simulated form, what we hope to eventually be able to do in reality, with technology. In so doing, it provides a kind of showcase for 'postmodernism.' But the promise of freedom and happiness it offers is mere illusion."

It also quoted from the essay, Narcissus and Necessity: Why Are We Creating Virtual Realities? "Virtual realities are a place where our narcissism meets metaphysics, a place where we design fictional worlds modeled after ourselves. But, as we do so, we are beginning to fear that the boundary between the world of fact and fiction is breaking down."

* The Transparency column, Faking It, was used in a 2011 course, Social Marketing, at The Experimental College at Tufts University.

* The 2010-2011 course, Narrative Structures, in the Department of English Language & Literature at the National University of Singapore used the essay, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman as Moral Fiction.

* The column, Between Rock and a Hard Drive, for Exclaim!, a music publication based in Canada, said this about Transparency:

"When you tire of Suck's flippancy, visit Transparency for excellent in-depth cultural criticism. This is an impressive collection of essays by journalist Ken Sanes, concerned with finding the truths of the human experience in the stories of popular culture by making these stories 'as transparent as possible.' This includes news, television, film, (advertisements), theme parks, political speeches, everything. Put simply, each of these popular fictions and nonfictions show us as trapped within our daily lives and trying to break free into an authentic life with real values. These popular stories, according to the author, have 'the potential to be catalysts for human freedom.' In trying to use this potential, we face resistance from our fear of the truth, and from power, who manipulate our fear and our progressive desire to live full lives.

"A common theme in these essays is the simulation of reality. (Television), as society's 'primary simulation machine,' gets addressed in most of these essays, including the deconstruction of sitcoms like M*A*S*H and. There are also a few essays devoted to that huge 'virtual reality,' Disney World. This is great material for teachers, and some of these essays are being read in school."

* U. S News & World Report ("U.S. News Online") said this about the Transparency essay Disney's Distorted Mirror: "Transparency, a Web site that critiques the media, views the Animal Kingdom as a distorted reality. Intriguing, pretentious, and a little bit Goofy."

* A web site that goes with the Houghton Mifflin textbook "Critical Thinking, Thoughtful Writing" by John Chaffee, Christine McMahon and Barbara Stout, lists Transparency as a resource. It describes Transparency as "An extensive site, maintained by Ken Sanes, devoted to the critical analysis of media images, including those in television, movies, and advertising."

(That link now goes to a page at According to Wikipedia, Cengage Learning is the parent company of Houghton Mifflin.)

* The Age of Simulation, which is a section of Transparency, was chosen as a top link by the German language edition of ZDNet, under the heading, Cool Sites: Postmodern. It said that Transparency, "with a vigorous swing of the scythe, pulls to pieces the broad field of sitcoms, Virtual Realities, advertising and all the other Mc-delights," of contemporary culture. (This is translated from the German.)

* The Buddhist web magazine, Zen Unbound, said this about Transparency: "The webspace Transparency is sociologist Ken Sanes' look at the media and how it operates as a funhouse mirror, warping the way we see ourselves as actors in American culture. The articles -- which I believe are all written by Sanes -- are sort of a merry composite of the the intellect and passion of Calvin Trilling, Ralph Nader, and Joseph Campbell with a little Pauline Kael thrown in".

It also said, sometime later: "Ken Sanes's Transparency website is about becoming aware of the meaning of that American Culture Thing that slams into our faces every day. The best place to start at this most excellent webspace is with Sanes's article "Popular Culture Is More Moral (And Less Moral) Than It Is Given Credit For."...The ZU Staff has a special liking for Sanes's insights on The Truman Show, in "Truman as Archetype" and on sitcoms in "Situation Comedies And the Liberating Power of Sadism."

(Note: the current on the web is a different publication. Also the reference to me as a sociologist is obviously just making the point that the writer believes my essays offer sociological insights.)

* In a list of Buddhist links, journalist and teacher Paul Schindler refers to my Groundhog Day essay as, "The most comprehensive treatment of this subject still available on line." He found it, he says, "via's Buddhism page."

* Kathy Kang, a doctoral candidate in Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney in Australia, writes: "Your site is very helpful indeed. Hats off to you, for putting so much together with great clarity. I hope that many, many teachers and students are using the site, as a stimulus to further thought and action."

* Bonnie E. Law, a Connecticut psychotherapist who runs retreats and workshops on the psychology of film said, "I have been watching this website for awhile now and just wanted to say thanks! The articles are refreshing and thought provoking as well as stirring. I have put up a link on my (then) website to transparencynow in hopes to share this with others. Bravo Ken!"

* Doug Winkel, who teaches at Shepaug High School in Washington, CT, is used essays on the media from Transparency in his media studies class. "In fact, much of next semester's readings will come from what we can find from your directions. In my course I have always included The Machine Stops, Network, the Truman Show, as well as Broadcast News and many of the sitcoms you have examined," he wrote. "Your site and material (are) very insightful."

* BUBL an academic information service for the United Kingdom, listed Transparency as a "Collection of essays which critically discuss representations of popular culture and social theory in the media. Analyses the accuracy of situation comedies as an expression of reality, and the success of post-apocalyptic and science fiction, which seek to transcend reality to explore future worlds. Ideologies of simulation, post-modern societies, and the propagandist potential of news coverage are also covered."

It has listed Transparency under the Dewey Decimal Classification system a DeweyClass: 306, which is Culture & institutions under Social sciences, sociology & anthropology.

* Intute, which was created by a consortium of seven universities in the United Kingdom to help people find web sites for research and study, describes Transparency as, "A collection of essays about mass media and popular culture written by Ken Sanes of Boston USA, who writes about media criticism and literacy. A 'Teachers' section on the website discusses the use of this material in the USA for teaching media students. The essays cover news, advertising, television, movies, video games, webcams and themed environments. In some cases they are about specific films or programmes, including 'Groundhog Day' and 'Mash'."

* A Russian journal, which I believe is called Artpragmatica, has republished "Zoos, Rain Forest Exhibits and Simulation: Worlds in a Bottle" in Russian.

* Jerry Stearns, the producer of Sound Affects: A Radio Playground on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis, said of the Transparency essay, War of the Worlds, Orson Welles, And The Invasion from Mars: "An article about the cultural significance of the (War of the Worlds) broadcast and its after-effects. Written for 'Transparency', a web site offering media criticism and critique to help people see through and intelligently judge the world wide media. Orson would be proud."

* Wenchi Lin, an Associate Professor in the English Department at National Central University, Taiwan, used the Transparency essay Truman As Archetype as an assigned reading in a seminar on film studies that looked at film and ideology.

* The Applied English Language Studies Dept. at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa used The Meaning of The Truman Show, a page from Truman As Archetype as a classroom reading.

* Transparency received a large write-up some years ago on the Media-Media Literacy page of the History/Social Studies Web Site for Teachers K-12. "Do not visit this site unless you have at least 2 hours left on your Internet account!" it advised readers.

* The "academic humorists" at the Jersey College for Girls listed the Transparency essay "Situation Comedies and the Liberating Power of Sadism" under the category "Boring but Important." The listing, in the Media Studies section of the school web site included the text of the essay, for use by students.

* The Mad Max links page at the web site, Amuse Entertainment, said this: "Ken Sanes' Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Salvaging the Future is a thoughtful, deeply analytical essay that discusses the rich ideas and symbolisms embedded in the third Mad Max film." (This may no longer be on the web.) 

* The essay on Sherry Turkle was on the summer reading list for a course on Information Sources and Services at St. Cloud State University. The course syllabus said, "Ken Sanes offers his critical counterpoint on Turkle's thesis in Sherry Turkle Surface, Surface Everywhere..., from Transparency, an online collection of cultural criticism."

* The Transparency essay, The Deconstruction of Reality: Modernism: Surface and Depth was used as a class reading by Dr. Robert Van Wynsberghe, for his class, "Introduction To Sociology," in the Department of Anthropology/Sociology at the University of British Columbia. It was used in the section, "Sociology as Science, Activism and the Search for a Moral Order."

* A listing by reference librarians for the Milner Library, Illinois State University, says of my work, "Ken Sanes authors this site dedicated to 'making things clear.' There seems to be no known motivation for Mr. Sanes other than his desire to make readers question everything. He states: 'The point is that we need to look critically at all communications. That is particularly essential in a time when many people are expert at the rhetorical manipulation of words and the creation of convincing stage sets and images.' Indeed, he gives us all something to think about with his pages dedicated to The Truman Show."

* The Highly Unofficial Logan's Run FAQ said of the essay on Logan's Run: "Ken Sanes has an exhaustive analysis of the movie from just about every angle: sociological, mythological, psychological, and, yes, even Marxist." 

* Donna McAllister, an editor at the Bob Newhart Web Site, wrote in e-mail: "Thank you very much for publishing these pages....They are excellent."

* Under the category, Media Criticism, Snap, a former web portal owned by NBC, described Transparency as "A media-criticism clearinghouse devoted to pulling away the veneer of modern society to the end of achieving a state of 'radical transparency.' Articles, whole books and more."

* A web page on Socioeconomic Class in Media for a course at Manchester College in Indiana, said: "This site will help any student of media to understand its relationship to socio-economic class. 'Transparency' is the title of this site because its main goal is 'To make everything clear' for folks who may not have a good understanding of media criticism. This is 'clearly' the best Site to see." The page, which was apparently created by students, gave Transparency its "Award of Excellence."

*Instructor Raul Reis' Media Ethics class web site at California State University, Monterey Bay, said of the Transparency section, Image and Action: Deconstructing the News, "Excellent site with media criticism and 'deconstruction' of the news media and their reports."

* A web site on the media by Peter Vasterman a professor in the School of Journalism, Utrecht. The Netherlands, listed Transparency as a web resource and said it "contains a careful selection of critiques of the mass media, politics, and popular culture."

The former Knight Ridder Digital site, Real Cities, listed the Media Criticism page on Transparency as a web resource, under Issues & Commentary. It said, "Media criticism is now essential to defending democracy. This selection of introductory columns and essays offers the essential ideas media criticism must have to do its job." 

An Introductory College Writing class at Wayne University used the Transparency essay Traveling Through Hyperreality With Umberto Eco as a class reading.

* Jeff Deeprose used the Transparency columns, The Human Pixel Who Wouldn't and Faking It, and excerpts from two other essays as readings in media literacy for his 11th grade English class at St. George's High School in Montreal.

* Dr. Charles E. Licka, Professor of Art History at the University of Alaska Anchorage, used essays from Transparency as readings for students taking courses in The History of World II and Art Appreciation. He also used it as an optional site for students working on projects on cyberspace and virtual reality.

* A page on the web site for the library at Cypress College in Cypress, CA, described Transparency as "A good site to browse for any topic dealing with popular culture."

- - - Awards - - -

* Transparency received the Britannica Internet Guide Award for high quality web sites that are deemed among "the best on the Internet when reviewed for quality, accuracy of content, presentation and usability."

* Transparency received the Internet Brothers Elite Site Award and Helpware Award. The email announcing the award said: "This is our highest recognition and one your work richly deserves. Oft times we happen upon beautifully designed sites that have little or nothing to say. Your work is a functional utility that has more to say than anyone could cover in a month....The design and interface are easy to use and navigate, taking the visitor directly to the meat of the matter...." The Internet Brothers web site also says: "Ken has few peers when it comes to reviewing and critiquing the how's, why's, what's, and wherefores of modern media. You may never look at M*A*S*H the same again." At the time of the award, Internet Brothers awards were listed by as 5.0 Level Rated Awards, which are its highest rated awards on the Internet. (At last check, the award was no longer being given out.)

* Transparency received NetMagick's Master of Content Award. The email announcing the award said: "You have expertly gathered and organized so much material that we are sure your readers have to come back many times just to scratch the surface of all you have to offer. It is obvious the amount of time and effort you have placed into both your research and presentation." At the time of the award, NetMagick awards were listed by as 5.0 Level Rated Awards.

* Transparency also won the Educational Site Award of Excellence from Innovative Teaching Concepts, a web site that acts as an education resource. "Your site has exceeded our expectations in providing outstanding and innovative educational content, as well as superior design layout," the award says. "We are delighted to present you our Four-Star Award and extend our appreciation for your efforts and dedication to the educational community".

- - - Journalistic Work - - -

* My columns helped expose the existence of fabrications in Slate magazine in mid 2001, forcing Editor Michael Kinsley to admit the existence of the fabrications. My role was referred to on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and in various other columns in, the Wall Street Journal's free online site.

* After Sept 11, I was also probably the first to articulate a viewpoint that quickly became a commonplace - that the media had misled America into believing that the greatest issues facing it "were the danger of shark attacks and questions about Gary Condit." I subsequently elaborated on that idea in a longer piece that also appeared on the Globalvision web site.

* As noted, I have published columns on a number of occasions in various newspapers around the country.

More Comments, Classroom Use & Misc. References

* Brian Goodger at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom listed the Transparency essay Ideology, Image Manipulation and Action in the reading list for his class, Media Representations.

* Instructor Ruth Brinton at North Seattle Community College wrote of Transparency, on a web page directed to students: "This is great! It has understandable criticism. Check it out thoroughly."

* The English class at Swift Current Comprehensive High School in Saskatchewan, Canada, used Transparency as a class reading assignment.

* Robert L. Davis, Assistant Professor of English and a Writing Program Coordinator at Eastern Oregon University, described Transparency as "a great cultural critique site."

* Under Cool Sitez, the Zetafonts web page said: "This website sets out to achieve the seemingly impossible - to 'make things clear'. It is nothing less than an attempt to put culture and entertainment into a broader, critical perspective. Unmissable."

* Neville Inggs, a South African college teacher is using work from Transparency in his class, "Media Evaluation."

* Student Laurie Ledyard analyzed Transparency for her Mass Comm Theory class at the University of Texas at Austin.

* Cathleen Brant used the essay "Holocaust as Metaphor" and the accompanying Table of Elements in a course on technology and humanity she was teaching at the College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA. She also used them in her freshman English course.

* Websites for Journalists, says of Transparency, "Touted as 'A web site that tries to make things clear,' this site out of Boston (a one-man show by simulation theorist Ken Sanes, as near as I can tell) covers a wide field with essays ranging from popular television to media criticism and lots in between.

"Appears aimed at teachers, but journalists should find food for thought here, though not all of it digestible."

* Web-and-Flow, an educational web site, used the essay, "The Agony of the Scapegoat" as a suggested class reading. "This essay describes the emotional cost to the scapegoat, especially as it applies to those in public life," it said.

* The web site for Jacksonville Media Watch, on the University of North Florida web site, lists Transparency as a web resource and says it "has an interesting Media Criticism section.

* Feed magazine said of the essay Disney's Distorted Mirror, "Transparency has a fine essay on the new Disney Kingdom...." 

* Transparency was chosen web site of the month by the NF Journal, which devoted part of its Sept./Oct., 2000 edition to excerpts from the site. The Transparency essay on The Andy Griffith Show was also published in the July/August edition of the journal. The NF Journal is directed at people who highly value intuition and feeling. (I'm not certain if it still exists.)

* In Yahoo!, under in the category "Cool Links: Surfers' Picks: Johnnycakes", Transparency was chosen as a recommended site. Transparency was also chosen as one of the top sites in the Lycos Community Guide, under the category Personal Philosophy.

* In a student project on hyperreality at Purdue, Jen's Hyperlinks says of Transparency: "Tons of essays and stuff about all the simulacra and culture and media and deception--it's cool."

* The class, Introduction to Drama and Theatre at Furman University in South Carolina used the Transparency essay Culture of Deception: Simulation Confusion as a web reading, with the link, "Essay on what is fake?" The essay was also used as an assigned reading in The Networked Imagination, a class at York University in Toronto, Ontario.

* The Transparency essay World's In a Bottle: Artificial Rain Forests was linked to by PBS on its Web Resources page about new zoos, with the directive: "Read an essay which discusses zoo design from an alternative cultural perspective."

* An article on the word "transparency" that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2002, refers to the Transparency web site. It says: "The idea of seeking transparency and the ability to see through illusions is the central idea of philosophy and science. That's true of the Eastern tradition and the Western tradition," says Ken Sanes, a former editorial writer for the Palm Beach Post who operates"

* FUSE, which is a portal of the State of Victoria Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, in Australia, has listed Transparency as a resource under the title, Popular culture and television analysed.

* Three essays from Transparency were used as readings in a class at the Michigan State University College of Education: Nature, representation & misrepresentation, Virtual realities: Then & Now, and Traveling Through Hyperreality With Umberto Eco.

* Two Transparency essays were used in the course, Information in the Digital Age, in the College of Arts and Sciences at George Mason University: Story-Based Simulations: Art and Technology Masquerading as Life and The New Culture War.

* The Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus Library lists Transparency in a handout for students researching situation comedies.

* Anthony Pennings, a teacher at the School of Communications at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, chose The Age of Simulation on Transparency as a recommended link for his Simulation and Hyperreality page, describing it as "an innovative hypertext project."

* Dolores JaniewskiI, who teaches at a university in New Zealand, used essays from Transparency that deal with the media, ideology and other subjects as assigned readings. The course examined the issues of power and the media, and modern U.S. history, among other subjects.

* The essay on Traveling Through Hyperreality With Umberto Eco has been used as an online reading in Joseph Pivato's Comparative Literature class at Athabasca University, a school specializing in education at a distance, in Alberta, Canada. 

* Bedford/St. Martin's, a college publisher specializing in books on the humanities, listed the essay "Northrop Frye, Simulation, and the Creation of a 'Human World" as one of its links in critical theory, as does teacher David Herring of University High School in Tucson, Arizona, on a page about the theories of Northrop Frye.

* Candace Berry used Transparency as a web resource for a class she was teaching on Simulation at the Morgan State University School of Engineering in Maryland

* Mike Peek, a student of movie and television science in The Netherlands, used the essay Truman As Archetype in a project to compare the movie, "The Truman Show" and the television program, Big Brother. "I just want to thank for your wonderful essay on The Truman Show....Your site has been very helpful!" he wrote.

* The Italian webzine, Intercom, had a translation in Italian by editor Santoni Danilo, of the Transparency essay, Salvaging the Future: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

* The Demonweb web site says of the Mad Max essay: "Examination of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome as a modern myth. A remarkably good read, highly recommended." 

* In an online discussion Donna Barthuley wrote of Transparency: "The postmodern embracing of appearance over reality is a subject that has been of abiding interest to me. I have a bookmark to a site that has great essays on the ever-growing world of simulation that is the human habitat called Earth....All in all a collection of great essays on postmodern culture."

* The class, "Imaging God's World: Theology in Today's Video Culture," taught by John Castelein, Professor of Contemporary Christian Theology and Philosophy at the Lincoln Christian College and Seminary, used Transparency as a web resource. The class "seeks to equip students to deal redemptively with images and messages in cinema and television."

*  The essay, War of the Worlds, Orson Welles, And The Invasion from Mars, has been used in classrooms and been widely read. The following are among the classes or schools that have used it as a required or optional reading:
- The Mass Communication Class at Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, with a website that referred to it as "a good analysis of the broadcast."
- A class on Global Media & Communications at the  London School of Economics and Political Science
The Pearson Adult Learning Centre in New Westminster School District 40, in British Columbia
- The Media Research Center on the site of the Nebraska Department of Education
- The class, United States History and Constitution, in the Social Studies Department at Liberty High School in South Carolina used it as an optional class reading that students could write questions and answers about.

In addition, student Vicki Moorman used the essay in preparing a page for a communications class at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Kathryn Denning, an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Anthropology at York University wrote that the section, The Age of Simulation, "contains some interesting essays on artificial nature….Especially ! "

* A student at San Diego State University, offered an analysis of the Transparency essay, "The News Media’s Effort to Hide from Significant Truth" for a class.

* The web site, Mad Max, described "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Salvaging the Future" as an "excellent essay," with a section that describes "the very essence of Max." The reference appears to no longer be on the web.

* said of Transparency: "this outstanding site features articles and critical essays on media and popular culture. Check out Ken Sanes's essays on The Truman Show and Groundhog Day!"

* Maria Chiara Pievatolo prominently quotes the Transparency essay Sherry Turkle Surface, Surface Everywhere... in her discussion of Turkle on the web site, La Repubblica di Platone, which appears to be about Plato's Republic. The site on Internet Publishing at Loyola College listed the Sherry Turkle essay under "Web Hot Shots" and the Transparency home page on its postmodernism page. Robert Fortner used the essay Sherry Turkle Surface, Surface Everywhere..., as an assigned reading for a course on media at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

* A web site used in a class at California State University, Dominguez Hills says, "For a sense of how others are going about a similar effort to transform our discourse, read Culture, Society, Self & Nature on Transparency Now. Ken Sanes seems to have a very similar project in mind (similar to thinkers studied in the class.)" Under the heading "You Gotta Read This:" a page (that wasn't available on the most recent search) links to the Transparency column, The Human Pixel Who Wouldn't

* A letter I sent Part or all of a letter I sent to Salon magazine on the movie, The Truman Show, was reposted on

Instructor Richard Chalfen in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia used a quote from the letter at the top of his listing for the course, American (Visual) Culture, in 2002. The quote is: "The Truman Show offers a grand metaphor for contemporary American culture. Its message is that we are immersed in a media landscape of lifelike fantasies that serves the interests of those in power. If we want to be free and have a chance at an authentic life, it tells us, we have to distance ourselves from the safety and comforts of our media-saturated culture, and be willing to live in the world as it is.” Teacher David G. Danielson used the same quote in a Word essay for his fall, 2010, Introduction to Philosophy class at the College of San Mateo.

* Caroline Garner, a student at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, used the section of the essay on Logan's Run titled "Logan's Run as Myth: Adam, Christ, Rome," as a source of information for a brief report on Mythic Elements in Science Fiction.

* Christine Alice Corcos used the Transparency essay on Logan's Run as a source of information for her essay "'I Am Not a Number! I Am a Free Man!': Physical and Psychological Imprisonment In Science Fiction," which appeared in the Legal Studies Forum and was also posted on the University of Texas School of Law web site.

* The essay on the Mary Tyler Moore Show was used as a reading in a course on American history at San Antonio College as part of a discussion on feminism.

* Social Criticism Review, a web site based in the Netherlands with an index of links to essays on the Internet that deal with contemporary issues, includes at least four links to Transparency. 

* SocioSite, which is produced by the Sociological Institute of the University of Amsterdam, describes Transparency as: "A comprehensive theory of culture as a form of action, and as a disguised expression of our deepest fears and desires. It seeks to make all of popular culture -- movies, TV, news, politics, theme parks, advertisements, video games, et al -- transparent to the reader's view and understanding. Part of his project is Image and Action: Deconstructing the News, a book-in-progress about the way the representations and communications of the news media are forms of action and interaction. It is focused on the way images are manipulated in the media (as well as in everyday conversation) in an effort to gain and exert power."

* The website says: "The articles are intelligent and well written, the work of someone eager to understand the complexities of his world." One of the essays it recommends is The Deconstruction of Reality, which it says is "A good overview of the philosophy of modernism and its offshoot, postmodernism."

* Teacher Robert A. Crawford said of the essay on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Salvaging the Future, "this entire lesson plan would not have been possible if not for the superb analytical essay by Ken Sanes at" This appears on a personal website address, although at the time he was teaching at Pine Crest School in South Florida.

* In addition to these mentions, there are (or in some cases were) links to Transparency at the Internet Movie Database; Voice of the Shuttle; Yahoo!; the C. G. Jung Home Page, the Borough of Manhattan Community College Library, and numerous other sites and indexes around the Internet.

* A listing of web resources connected to the book Sociology Matters, on the McGraw-Hill Higher education website, linked to the section of Transparency titled Simulation and Postmodern Society, and said:

"A casebook approach to the positive and negative effects of simulation on society using easy-to-understand postmodern analysis is provided at this site.

"Examples from the popular media and virtual entertainment world are used to show how electronic diversions bind us together symbolically, while serving to alienate and disenfranchise in reality."

The listing appears on a number of web resources pages, including this one from 2009.

* Finally, here is an abbreviated biography from the 2003 edition of WHO’SWHO in America (which I neglected to ask them to keep including every year):

"SANES, KEN ROSS, critic; b. Bklyn., Mar. 4, 1953; s. William and Frances Sanes. BA magna cum laude, Tufts U., 1975. Columnist, editor, mem. editl. bd. Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, Fla., 1980-89; writer, media critic, 1989-. Writer, designer Transparency website, 1997- (Britannica Internet Guide award, Internet Bros. Elite Site award and Helpware award, NetMagick Master of Content award, Ednl. Site award of excellence, Innovative Tchg. Concepts, Channel One Network resource, resource of numerous univs., schs., and media orgns.)".

As I noted at the beginning, all of this is a way of letting you know that many people have found work of value on this website. If you are interested in reprinting some of these essays for classroom use or you need additional information on what essays might be appropriate to use, please contact me. It usually takes me a few days to respond.

But I hope these essays will continue to be of interest to a lot of different kinds of people, in addition to teachers and students. One way you can learn more is to click the home icon below to go to the home page and explore further.