WEEK ELEVEN

Hauntology Blog

The concepts of the course have asked us to engage with notions of transversality pervading every facet of our lives. With the use of newer technologies the lines between us, them, reality and the virtual are forever being redrawn; where once those lines were made of steel they are now fashioned from jelly, ever moveable, lightweight, compact and sometimes invisible. As if the barriers between media, culture and society were once a solid physical they are now dotted and virtual. Perhaps they don’t really exist.

When we’re looking at the course concepts it is evident that they paint a picture of what is a possible future for humans, society and technologies and how they intersect. On a whole range of subjects technology plays a part in developing ways we can remain the same as well as excel and multiply. I’ve often thought about how our future will look, how technology will supplement our existence in the advancing electronic age, “digital technologies often become an essential prosthetic for an idea about form-making.” (Easterling, 2011)

In my personal life i think about the future constantly, mostly about what I’m going to do with mine.  Which is the right path? There are a few possibilities. Career seems like such a secondary and wasteful option to devote myself to. For me, being a women, i have to think about family or kids rather. When is a good time to have them? How long can i really wait? Do i want kids? Yes, but a husband I’m not so keen on.

There’s my first problem right there. Virtual husband perhaps?… comes with an off switch and mute button? I think i’m onto something. “Ubiquitous computing is defined as “machines that fit the human environment instead of forcing humans to enter theirs.” (York, 2004)

“The logical progression from that paradigm is a system where that networking logic becomes applicable in every realm of daily activity, in every location and every context.” (Castell, 1996)

But determining any exact kind of technology based future is impossible. If you consider the movie classic, ‘Back to the Future,’ with Michael J Fox and the iconic ‘hover board,’ which should have be invented in 2 years and to that effect i should be flying my car to work then as well. My point is there is no way to tell where advances in technology will lead us, or how fast or in what direction. In 1985 flying cars may have seemed possible but i think you’ll agree that electronics and mechanics have moved along a very different route.

I had a very naive assumption when i began studying that i would learn something; historically and culturally significant things would occupy my brain and i would somehow acquire ‘intelligence.’ Yet i have discovered two major things during the course of my study. The first was that, Labels are so limiting and the second was that knowledge is not knowing.

Christopher Alexander talks about the tree layout of urban architecture, “Authority always generates a tree and therefore, in his terms, an “artificial” city.” What he means is a branching type structure where each arm and leaf are disconnected from each other and don’t contain overlapping sets. We have talked about networks extensively but i think what’s important here is the idea of overlapping technologies, the sphere type structure of reality, virtual, culture, media and technology. And how they work together to create workable environments to keep up with the pace of modern life.

Alexander explains it well, “For example, in Berkeley at the corner of Hearst and Euclid, there is a drugstore, and outside the drugstore a traffic light. In the entrance to the drugstore there is a newsrack where the day’s papers are displayed. When the light is red, people who are waiting to cross the street stand idly by the light; and since they have nothing to do, they look at the papers displayed on the newsrack which they can see from where they stand. Some of them just read the headlines, others actually buy a paper while they wait. This effect makes the newsrack and the traffic light interactive.”

I promised myself i’d keep up with the new medias because my mum annoyed me, I was not going to be one of those old people who cannot use the latest gadget. Who struggled to wrap my head around texting because i had underestimated its importance in our culture.

Refs:

Castells, M. (1996) ‘The Rise of the Network Society,’ The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Easterling, K. (2011) ‘An Internet of Things’, e-flux journal, Available: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/an-internet-of-things/

York, J, Pendharkar, P. (2004) “Human–computer interaction issues for mobile computing in a variable work context”, Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 60.

WEEK NINE

Social Organisation Blog

I love watching documentries that showcase stunning urban innovation. My infatuation with these sorts of films began about six years ago when i was handed a free zeitgeist movie by a dishevelled man on the street in Bondi Junction. I thought, “What is on this hippie’s dvd i wonder?” But the film intrigued me, in a nut shell, it asked people to question the hierarchical top down structure of our society.

Recently, i watched a production on urban gardening projects where an entire suburb can be fed from the roof top garden of one building block. And became acquainted with the concept of Aquaponics which is a genius way of producing clean fresh food  in your back yard using a domestic scale aquaculture system.

Dynamic forms of social organization that are not adhering to financial road blocks presented but find solutions through community collaboration and mate-ship. Projects where people, real people, who have solutions take to action with the backing of other people, real people, who not only support a practical solution but whom are able and willing to get their hands dirty and contribute on the ground.

New media and online collaboration re draw the lines of communication, prosperity and interaction. “It’s built not just to learn (and then do “business”) but, more deeply, to redraw the boundaries of prosperity, by doing meaningful stuff that matters the most.” (Bauwens, 2011)

More recently a film, ‘American Drug War II,’ caught my attention on the benefits of juicing the cannabis plant. With people being cured from Lupus, a degenerative autoimmune disease, just from the highly antibiotic and anti inflammatory acids in raw cannabis leaves. People have relocation to California to legally grow, study and consume this miracle plant.

I am amazed at the organization, cooperation, vision and teamwork that go into these projects. From scientists, doctors and researchers to blue collar workers help bring these vibrant, energetic and vigorous projects to life with governments and regulatory bodies always lagging behind.

Contact is the concept of a ‘new internet’ linking people to people informally with no middle men, gatekeepers or central service. He thought a system that couldn’t be controlled as easily as the current one is needed to shake the shackles of government control. “The Internet as built will always be subject to top-down government control and domination by the biggest corporations” (Rushkoff, 2011)

I’ve noticed lately Facebook, supposedly developed for people is now bombarded with spam and advertising. Soon companies like, ZeroMail (a company specializing in spam reduction and optimal inbox organization) will be adapted to redirect spam from our news feeds and organize their inboxes according to priorities and importance.

There are always challenges, but ‘Contact’ is proof that people are trying, are wanting and working on making a difference and the future. “From the development of a new non-hierarchical Internet to the implementation of alternative e-currencies, the prototyping of open source democracy to experiments in collective cultural expression, Contact will seek to initiate mechanisms that realize the true promise of the networking revolution.” (Rushkoff, 2011)

Everything we think is pure and for the good of people to use as they will, is eventually commodified and corrupted according to materialist agenda. “The strategy group’s job is to ensure that the organization is maximizing its payoffs, thus creating value for shareholders — so industrial age, so selfish” (Bauwens, 2011)

The aim of this Contact is uncorrupted and undisrupted collective intelligence. “The wisdom group would make sure the company was doing stuff that matters to our great-great-great-grandkids, that ennobles us, that develops our better selves, and that honors the firm’s bigger purpose.” (Bauwens, 2011)

Because the basis of social organization is being challenged fundamentally. You cannot attach restrains to innovation, as Jellis says, “micropolitics: neither small-scale nor situated on the ‘left’ or ‘right’ of the political spectrum, micropolitics operates transversally.” (Jellis, 2009)

Refs:

Bauwens, M. (2011) ‘Book of the Week: Umair Haque’s New Capitalist Manifesto’, P2P Foundation: Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices. Available: http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/book-of-the-week-umair-haques-new-capitalist-manifesto/ (Date accessed: 06/05/2013)

Jellis, T. (2009) ‘Disorientation and micropolitics: a response’, spaces of [aesthetic]experimentation. Available: http://www.spacesofexperimentation.net/montreal/ (Date accessed: 06/05/2013)

Rushkoff, D. (2011) ‘The Evolution Will Be Socialized’, Shareable: Science and Tech. Available: http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-evolution-will-be-socialized

WEEK EIGHT

Transversally Blog

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In the article, ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government,’ I liked Lessig’s balanced yet undeniably sarcastic look into the value of transparency in our society. The public and indeed our culture now screams to know more. We want to be privy to all the dirty details; some say its to make more informed decisions but perhaps its just because we humans are nosey in nature and like the inside gossip. A good scandal never hurt everyone… at once, or did it?!

“But will the effect of these projects–at least on their own, unqualified or unrestrained by other considerations–really be for the good? Do we really want the world that they righteously envisage?” (Lessig, Pg. 1) 

In the recent article, ‘Sleepless in Canberra,’ Bob Ellis rather famously says that the extreme transparency and unrealistic expectations of the public destroys any hope of an exceptional Australian prime minister, “The 24-hour news cycle is at the heart of this, and it’s killing our democracy.”

This idea intersects with Lessig’s idea that full transparency in government erodes the trust foundations between the public and their governing body, “The “naked transparency movement,” as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political system over the cliff.”

If the public should one day (god forbid) demand to scrutinize and ‘see’ every appointment, expense and movement in my life i am certain i would faint. They would be horrified at the complete waste of time that is my daily schedule, my hemorrhaging of funds into online shopping websites and my lack of concern for the consequences of eating a whole block of chocolate for dinner and the truth that people in general shit me most of the time.

I wouldn’t last long as prime minister. People are hard to please. I refrain from going into politics so i can continue pleasing myself. As Lessig says, “There is no questioning the good that transparency creates in a wide range of contexts… But we should also recognize that the collateral consequence of that good need not itself be good.” (Lessig, Pg. 2)

Ellis makes fair comment on the health (physical, mental and emotional) of our past and present Prime Ministers.

“The larger question, though, of sleepless politicians, and therefore burnt-out politicians and policy incompetence and the current ruinous way of doing things, needs a whole change of culture I fear.” (Ellis, Pg. 1)

Looking at the expectation that they remain awake, accountable and alert to make comment on breaking news 24/7 as a ridiculous demand and unrealistic demand. He makes you think about the belief that one person should be able to ‘do it all’ and stand for all would require some sort of super-human robot like creature as our leader. And is in a word -impossible.

“Because we’re hemorrhaging our best political talent and it won’t come back, at any price, into a democracy now in serious danger of swallowing itself whole and vanishing. It’s injurious to their health, and they know it, and they flee it as soon as they can, and our nation is in trouble, deep trouble, because of it.” (Ellis, Pg. 2) 

We would need to adjust our hopes and be a slight more forgiving and hold back judgement if the transparency thing is to work for Australians or anyone for that matter. All it takes is thinking about what transparency would mean on an individual level, how ‘seeing’ would work in some cases and not in others, think George Orwell’s, ‘Nineteen-eighty-four.’ Yeah.

Refs:

Ellis, B. (2010) ‘Sleepless in Canberra’ The ABC, Drum Unleashed. Available: http:// www.abc.net.au/unleashed/35116.html (Date accessed: 01/05/13)

Lessig, L. (2010) ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government,’ Available: http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0 (Date accessed: 01/05/13)

Image:

Thakur, M. (2012) ‘Gunther von Hagen Showcases Preserved Animal Anatomies’ INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES. Available: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/323655/20120404/gunther-von-hagen-animals-inside-out-exhibition.htm (Date accessed: 09/05/13)

WEEK SEVEN

DATA BLOG

But what’s really happening now?

For the last ten years we have heard the music industry cry foul about free downloading and online file sharing technology. Similarly, for the last five years the news industry has tirelessly warned of the perils of accessing online news for free as the death of journalism.

There are optimistic views of boundless opportunity and visions of a revolutionised media industry. Also, there have been very pessimistic views about dwindling news rooms and shonky flawed journalism.

While both versions have been actualised, its very interesting to look at which publications are thriving and what they’ve done to restructure their business models. “But same digital dynamics that have created a crisis also offer an emerging and still under-appreciated set of solutions.” (Mele & Wihbey, 2013)

Upon reading ‘The newsonomics of Pulitzers and paywalls’  it surprised me to learn that only 20% of overall expense is devoted to the news room. “We can also see in the data that newspapers overall are spending a smaller percentage of their overall expenses on their newsrooms than they were 10 years ago.” (Doctor, 2013)

Firstly, it seemed it was the traditional and otherwise complacent publishing organizations that seemed to frame the changing industry with the most doom and gloom. “Many legacy news outlets have, in the Internet world, become a bunch of increasingly empty, faceless brands.” (Mele & Wihbey, 2013)

Ignoring the public demand for quality content while undercutting newsrooms will be a massive loss of opportunity. “The Star Tribune is one of a relative few that made a point of keeping its reporting staff as whole as possible. It disproportionately made its newsroom cuts in copy handling and middle management in order to do that.” (Doctor, 2013)

Yet publications that already took pride in producing quality content and award winning articles were also the ones who remained the most proactive in navigating this new funding territory.

“There have been cuts, yes, but we have also added to our ranks, particularly in the areas of multimedia producers, videographers, graphics editors, etc.,” says Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy.” (Doctor, 2013)

It seems that for now loyal reader revenue is sustaining the quality news rooms who respect their readers and show this by providing quality services; with The Times now taking more reader dollars than advertising ones.

You’re not JUST supplying a basic product to a consumer who needs or mindlessly consumes it. The normal business models have long been on the out, now you’re dealing with a connected reader one who can pick diamonds from dust.

“The question then becomes how to create a social presentation layer that wraps around news — preserving the integrity of the product but updating its interface to fit with human behavior in the digital age.” (Mele & Wihbey, 2013)

 

REFS:

Doctor, K. (2013) ‘The newsonomics of Pulitzers, paywalls, and investing in the newsroom’ Nieman Journalism Lab. Available: http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/04/the-newsonomics-of-pulitzers-paywalls-and-investing-in-the-newsroom/ (Date accessed: 20/04/13)

Mele, N. & Wihbey, J. (2013) ‘The end of big (media): When news orgs move from brands to platforms for talent’ Available: http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/04/the-end-of-big-media-when-news-orgs-move-from-brands-to-platforms-for-talent/ (Date Accessed: 20/04/13)

WEEK SIX

AUGMENTED BLOG

People walk around concerned with different things, networks serve to connect priorities to services. And it is big business for those companies who can make people think things are priorities when it isn’t really, completely independent of their own imagining.

But how is it going to help us in the future? Data is the closest thing and the only real tool we have to predict our lives in the future or guess it with any real certainty. ‘“People have such very poor sense of time,” Barooah says, and without good time calibration, it is much harder to see the consequences of your actions. “If you want to replace the vagaries of intuition with something more reliable, you first need to gather data.” (Wolf, 2010)

Technologies will help with mundane things like remembering, time/schedule keeping, washing, doing the dishes and the list goes on. But what I find interesting is what we will be doing while our basic needs are all but supported by new technologies. I think we as individuals will work tirelessly strengthening already ingrained global connections, friendships, work deals, family ties and the like.

Our assemblages and networks are about to get dense. Thick with data and this will equal power. Power to communities united by priorities.

Journalism supported by documentation and dense data is now becoming the norm in the media industry, “Data journalism is not graphics and visualisations. It’s about telling the story in the best way possible. Sometimes that will be a visualisation or a map.” (Rogers, 2011) It’s about information with solid foundations, finding the meaning in mountains of information and making it understandable and digestible in the time it takes to read your daily horoscopes.

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The ways data journalism are impacting politics by enhancing transparency is the key to a government free from corruption and misuse of resources. “The London Datastore and Data.gov.uk are campaigning for and highlighting open data releases from the Government, and the Government itself is planning a raft of data releases. With more data becoming available about how our Government operates, it’ll inevitably be pressured to change.” (Quilty-Harper, 2010)

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Refs:

Rogers, S. (2011) ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?’, The Guardian, Datablog. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/28/data-journalism (Date accessed: 15/04/13)

Quilty-Harper, C. (2010) ’10 ways data is changing how we live’, The Telegraph. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7963311/10-waysdata-is-changing-how-we-live.html (Date accessed: 15/04/13)

Wolf, G. (2010) ‘The Data-Driven Life’, The New York Times. Available: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/magazine/02self-measurement-t.html (Date accessed: 15/04/13)

 

Image:

1-      onlinejournalismblog.com

2-      digiphile.wordpress.com

WEEK FOUR

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EXPERIENCE BLOG

Virtual realities project a human presence into a created and programmed virtual space through the use of electronic technics like a mouse or wired gloves.

The intricate and visual 3D online environments, like ‘Second Life,’ are a modern example of the commonly associated types of programs this technology can produce. A simulation of a reality which is more controlled than our own, allowing maximum feelings of power to the user.

Augmented reality technologies often take what is around us and commodity, morph and compartmentalize it and put it back together with helpful software. Making simulations of our environments that are more useful, easy to understand or free of issues that are time consuming.

These alternate realities help us problem solve with actual reality and sidestep the road blocks that keep us from connecting. Whether they are mental or physical barriers, we’re contending with. AR, on an individual level, gives us an awareness of where exactly and how we fit into the social world.

Being an active part of these apps/spaces is like us shouting, “I want to know me and I want others to know me as well!” Spaces, like Facebook, allow us to expand our nets of communication and our perceived selves’.

It combines an aspect of the environment with technology to supplement human accuracy and complement our movement and/or function through it. GPS monitors are an example of commonly utilised tech which fits into the augmented reality context.

The layering of data over each other and itself allows for a closer and more complete simulation of life. Drell says, that Augmented reality, “technology has promise as an urban utility,” and this is an accurate way of talking about how such technologies are being adapted into modern lives.

GPS techs are now highly developed and are not confined to the road map direction function. AR is beyond helpful to travellers making cities almost immediately familiar, “AR has great potential to transform our cities and the way we learn and discover within them.” (Drell,2012)

Image: http://mashable.com/2012/12/19/augmented-reality-city/

Refs: Drell, Lauren (2012) ‘7 Ways Augmented Reality Will Improve Your Life’,

WEEK THREE

MACHINIC BLOG

We are starting to realise that everything in science and the social is indeed connected and this is resulting in the advent of ‘compound disciplines’ or mega disciplines. Media Ecology is a new mega discipline which studies the complex communication systems as if they were environments.

A Mega-discipline is where the boundaries of other disciplines overlap and merge into one. Leading to the realization that everything in media, society and culture intersects leading to influence and change radiating from one to the other.

The idea of looking at media as ecologies is a step above the consideration of technological networks; it paints a picture of viewing not only at the working nodes of an assemblage but at the bacteria’s that facilitate growth and generate content. In the case of media we could consider it is metadata that is the DNA of the organism. Rawlings commented on the interesting use of biological terminology in relation to this topic (Rawlings, 2011).

Lance Strate said that technology and techniques, modes of communication and codes of communication play a role that is paramount to modern human life. The idea means asking specific questions about how interactions between communication, media, technology and technic impact processes of human feeling, thought, value and behaviour leading to changes in culture (Nystrom, 1973).

For example, the idea that the internet is ruining people’s minds by reducing their ability to retain information due to the endless archiving. Also, the destruction of attention spans because of endless distractions and the availability of instant gratification.

This notion of media as an ecology is still in its early stages and thus there is no framework for considering or tying together all of the subject matter and the subsequent questions that follow. There lacks a method to this dilemma and it seems the process of collecting qualitative and quantitative, social and media based data is continuing in an unorganised way (Nystrom, 1973).

We are in the process of looking at the changes that are occurring and asking how this will change our human processes fundamentally. The below mind map is a very basic starting point when beginning to look at a media ecology.

These questions lead to further questions about the influence of media on individuals’ behaviours and the manipulation of such leading to the historical and modern day phenomena of propaganda in society.

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One idealistic way of looking at this concept was composed by the French philosopher Felix Guattari. He focused on three main aspects, the mind, society and the environment in his ‘Ecosophical Model.’ It attempts to propose a framework in which to understand how media, society and culture transverse.

A characteristic of ‘media ecology’ is the realization of unification at every level of reality, yet almost paradoxically highlighting the extreme and intricate uniquities and differences at all levels.

By recognising the interconnections we can see clearly the “commons on which we are all mutually dependant.” (Anon, 2008) Proposing that social change or ‘revolution’ is not confined to governmental level political shifts.

In The Three Ecologies, Guattari suggests the solutions to modern day issues which span across the three ecologies of mind, society and our environment already have solutions.

Pressing social issues like, “mental health disorders… failed states run by competing warlords… and the ecological crises… of global warming and natural resource depletion” (Anon, 2008) can be changed with a change in entry point to the problems inner workings.

Guattari said, “Now more than ever, nature cannot be separated from culture; in order to comprehend the interactions between ecosystems” (Anon, 2008). The idea of decentralizing power, restructuring societal models and steering away from monetary indications of national success is a nice idea but realistically a long way off, if possible at all.

Refs:

Media Ecology Association ‘What is Media Ecology,’ Available: http://www.mediaecology.org/media_ecology/

Anon. (2008) ‘The Three Ecologies – Felix Guattari’, Media Ecologies and

Digital Activism: thoughts about change for a changing wordl. Available:

http://mediaecologies.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/the-three-ecologies-felixguattari/

Rawlings, Thomas (2011) ‘Games as a Happening, as a Service’ A Great Becoming. Available:  http:// agreatbecoming.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/games-as-a-happening-as-a-servicenotes-from-my-talk-at-goldsmiths/