ARCHIVING BLOG – 20/03

An archive is a place in which to store information collected from the past and the present. “The Archive is made from selected and consciously chosen documentation from the past and also from the mad fragmentations that no one intended to preserve and just ended up there.” (Howard, 2007)

Archiving must be given more thought because what we save for later is a reflection of what’s important, our values and priorities, whether it be individually or as whole populations of people, “Archives decide what is “inside” or “outside” of culture (in short what is recorded, preserved, destroyed, can or can’t be accessed).”

This suggests the way we keep information, how and through what we access information or data, changes the makeup of that data, concept or object at its very core. What people save personally, from bringing old magazines home to bookmarking a web page gives insight into the fears, concerns, aspirations, and idiosyncrasies of that person.

All the information we read in a single year forms the basis for our routines, traditions, dependencies and sets mental boundaries for what we believe can achieve. “Even individual habits; arise from the way that archives arrange the possibilities of experience and action.”

Publishing is ingrained in individuals, in everything we do. Publishing and its subsequent archiving, changes who we are fundamentally, how we relate to and interact with the world around us.

“The archivization produces as much as it records the event.” (Stokes, 2003)

This can be our experience of news-media. The way news is sold and presented to us, always linked to or within another context (eg. Report robberies à as a result of increased cost of living), is all about the way news is packaged in easily digestible blocks of information, the problem here is the inevitable oversimplifying of  issues which are far more complex.

However with the increasing disarray of archive platforms (especially online) organization, which is one aim of archiving, is basically lost. With that sinks the credibility of the data, our ability to understand it and thus the possibility of people adding to or building on shared information is reduced.

“Any channels or form of organization thus gives a certain arrangement of both authority drawn from the records of the past and future possibilities or potentials.” (Publics and Publishing outline)

‘Archive Fever’ – the constant desire to play with archive, written by Jacques Derrida, asks how the different and more modern ways of publishing preserve, distribute and facilitate access differently? And how does this impact/effect the use or credibility of the stored information?

I can relate to this desire through my addiction to online health archives. It has led to me having a sound knowledge of various states of dis-ease in the human body. This allows me to trouble shoot with friends and family their basic ailments and means that I have the knowledge to advise them on natural ways to combat them.

It has an impact on the way I live and whenever I’m lacking motivation to lead a healthy lifestyle I return to any number of online health archives to boost my knowledge. I think the obsession with archiving technologies is that it gives us an internal illusion of knowledge. Archives are perhaps, an extension of our limited memory.

Our ability to master archiving feeds our egos, allowing us to pump up our intellectual identities maybe? To pinpoint the absolute commencement of my suffering; it brings joy to be browsing the things I could know.

Even if all the worlds’ archives could be amassed into the “grand social history of the archive from ancient to modern times” (Stokes, 2003) it still could never be an accurate depiction of what really occurred.

The methods used to archive sets limitations on the content, and questions are raised such as; were the materials used to record robust enough to ensure archival survival?

As opposed to the old pre-20th century archives which make you sneeze, modern web-based archiving gives you the ability to ‘search’ –Control-Alt-F, perhaps the greatest weapon against the frustrations old historians and students face! As with Google, the average person can have an answer to their query in less than 10 seconds (depending on the haste of your internet connection)

Collaboratively we make our own realities. Setting our own limitations and leaning too heavily for support on our past hunches. “Derrida explains that while the archive seems to point to the past, it “should call into question the coming of the future.” (Enszer, 2008)

The past should be used as a measurement of how far we have travelled. The need to know where we are from, I believe is from an innate wish to have improved. To have a solid base from which we can grow; this also gives us a sense of direction, showing us which way is up?

Refs:

Howard, Sharon (2007) ‘Reposted: Archive fever (a dusty digression)’, Early Modern Notes, September 25, <http://emn.sharonhoward.org/2007/09/reposted-archive-fever-a-dusty-digression/>

Stokes, Jon (2003) ‘Reading Notes: Archive Fever’, Ars Technica, June 27, <http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2003/06/130.ars>

Enszer, Julie R. (2008) Julie R. Enszer (personal blog), ‘Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derrida’, November 16, <http://julierenszer.blogspot.com/2008/11/archive-fever-freudian-impression-by.html>

Image: http://www.menil.org/collection/archives.php

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ASSEMBLEDGE BLOG – 17/03

 

The concept of assemblage denotes the idea that whole networks come together in certain ways and function like a living organism. The Actor–network theory (ANT) operates on the metaphysical idea that all things (human and non-human) exist equally and perform together to create the whole assemblage.

This idea was developed by Bruno Latour, who theorized that every entity has the ability to act in the world, and thus labels all things ‘Actants.’ This allows us to research how assemblages happen and how the sum-of-all-parts (animate and inanimate) behave as one functioning whole.

All Actants within society and technology have the ability to make change in the world and indeed to the assemblage it’s related to. An example of this is a Shopping Centre. It is a functioning assemblage in which big spenders, clothes, fresh food, coins, air-conditioning, cockroaches, cash registers and delivery trucks.

No matter how small the Actants’ they all possess values and actions which contribute to the punctualisation or efficiency of the assemblage…  Ok perhaps if the Cockroaches weren’t involved the centre would still stand but you get my meaning.

Latour’s main point is that all things, human and nonhuman have inclusion to allow “an ongoing discourse that allows us to avoid the habitual stasis of predictability in favor of experimentation.” (any-space-whatever blog)

This forms a material–semiotic construction becoming a shopping nebula in the ontology of the world. If, for example, the air-conditioning were to break down in the center; the center would result in progressive depunctualization of that assemblage. The punctualisation of that node ceases as a consequence.

To apply ANT, relations must be repeatedly “performed” or the network will dissipate. “So it is fitting that the game would be constantly reconfigured, new relations created, new associations drawn.” (any-space-whatever blog)

ANT is a theory that allows us free- thought and experimentation with networks (including earth and imagination) yet in a practical and political sense it is too all-encompassing to tend any real life solutions, because there would be too many arguments over what is ‘real-life.’

Refs:

Bruno Latour self-publisher. Available: <http://www.bruno-latour.fr/>

‘Actor Network Theory’, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor-network_theory> (very short, very useful summary of Latour)

Image: hthttp://avoidingthevoid.wordpress.com/category/architecture/

MODES OF PUBLISHING BLOG – 11/03

The print mode of publishing has relied heavily on advertising in recent years; this reality makes it easy to understand the media industry’s reluctance to adopt technology-forward business strategies.

“The paper can sell advertising in the print edition at a much, much higher price per customer than it can for the online edition.” (Gillmor, 2011)  Although most publications have regretfully embraced new media to a certain extent, it won’t change the inevitable sinking of old business models.

It will be interesting to see what transformations will occur in the online advertising arena in the coming years, as media institutions clamber to keep their newsrooms viable. Solid paywalls tend not to sit well with the average internet user; as with print copies, people like to ‘try’ before they commit to buying.

Personally I’m more likely to buy The Times in print (or any format for that matter) if I can flip through its pages and wait for a story to grab me. The Newsagents’ dirty looks, for spending too long hovering over one issue, may also help in the payment department though!

After speaking to friends and family, it appears opinions on paywalls are divided.  In general, younger generations seem offended to have pay for something they can skim for free. While older generations, valuing depth and quality, support the industry by subscribing.

The difference in disposable income between these two groups could be one thing that separates their priorities.

Publications who introduce solid paywalls will have to think about their ageing member base at some point in the future especially considering the limited ‘share-ability’ of online content.

“Both, [WSJ and FT] have taken a scared and defensive approach to digital subscriptions, fearing that if their readers can get their content for free, then they won’t pay.” (Salmon, 2011)

However in the next decade, developing countries will increasingly implement telecommunications infrastructure and online subscriptions will most likely be the way of the future.

“Newspapers had to be part of this web, not simply “on” it.” (Busfield, 2010)

This is an awesome opportunity for journalists to get creative and broaden their skill base. Rather than being a faceless name behind a desk somewhere, journalists could perhaps enjoy the sort of exposure as chefs now have after shows like Master Chef and My Kitchen rules.

“It’s a trend about how people are expressing themselves, about how societies will choose to organize themselves, about a new democracy of ideas and information, about changing notions of authority, about the releasing of individual creativity, about resisting the people who want to close down free speech.” (Busfield, 2010)

The trend towards an Open Web can only be an opportunity for long term growth within our media industries. With the possibility of round the world reach, I think the substance and content of major publications will only get better.

The consumers who are now being asked to pay for online subscriptions can demand better quality journalism, organisation of ideas and more visual aids/ arts to accompany them.

The Guardians editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger says “Universal charging for newspaper content on the internet would remove the industry from a digital revolution which is allowing news organizations to engage with their readers more than ever before.” (Busfield, 2010)

Refs:

Dan Gillmor (2011) ‘The New York Times paywall: the faint smell of success’, The Guardian, August 3, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/aug/03/new-york-times-paywall>

Salmon, Felix (2011) ‘How The New York Times Paywall is Working’, Wired, August 14, <http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2011/08/new-york-times-paywall/>

Busfield, Steve (2010) ‘Guardian editor hits back at paywalls’, The Guardian, January 25, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/guardian-editor-paywalls>

Image: http://tom-samp-journal.blogspot.com.au/2010_08_01_archive.html

EREADERS BLOG – 05/03

This e-book movement really is about the psychology of the consumer, everyday life gets busier and we need to take in as much information as possible to ‘stay current’ or indeed stay social.

Incorporating devices like the e-book makes the clutter we carry through our lives seem like less of a burden. Items like diaries, calendars, games for the kids, music, newspapers, literature, shopping list, camera, photo library, weather report, Dictaphone, gym schedule… I used to break my back carrying these necessary items all day.

Technology as versatile as the iPad is so easy to market to consumers, young and old, we’re all happy to swap a few hundred dollars to lose a few kilos. Such a radical shift in the way we access information, literature and visual learning aids has occurred in the last year that the industry is scrambling to reconfigure itself around this morphing technology. “I think the e-books are in the process of transforming the way we do what we do.” (OSNOS, 2010)

However while we are grateful for an uncluttered existence it doesn’t come without its teething problems. The element that struck me last year upon the purchase of my first iPad was the experience. It’s well… sterile.

There are no markers, no ink smudges or photocopier shades on the pages; I didn’t realise it at the time, but all of those things actually helped me read the words and understand the content as intended.

I got a headache at my first attempt at reading, I adjusted my screen, thinking it was the brightness but no, there was still something missing. With my personal study texts I highlight and book mark the dog-eared pages, but reading off a screen doesn’t seem to touch the sides of my dorsal pathway.

The ease of the print, according to Lehrer, is repetitious and leaves less room for real comprehension. Another side of making reading books too easy – less brain activity, think of what TV has done for childrens’ imaginations, “I’d love them to include a feature that allows us to undo their ease, to make the act of reading just a little bit more difficult.” (Lehrer, 2010) However I think there is a ‘connection’ to the book that will still be missing.

Kindle, ebook, iPad (and the like) manufactures are laughing. The devices are valuable objects due to their sheer cost and because they do all manner of organising for work or leisure. Realistically, they are ‘conveniently’ tied to one person. This is especially true for family parent-child devices, where rough, slobbery handling becomes an issue; meaning more costly repairs than a simple re-binding.

The owner will tailor the content, reminders, things-to-do list, Newspaper or Magazine subscriptions to their specific tastes and needs. Owning a separate device is necessary for each individual, and as Naughton expresses, is one of the technologies shortcomings. Location becomes a constraint if you are to share content.

“The upside is that I can share them [books] with friends or donate them to a school, which is more than I can do with my walled-in digital edition, but that’s another can of worms.” (Naughton, 2010)

This limit on sharing is precisely how electronic online retailers like Amazon and Apple have intended to turn a profit. Text donation to charity, gifting an old beloved paper-back to a friend or selling said paper-back to a third party are all now ‘illegal’ and thus not an option for paying consumers.

“I would have none of those freedoms. According to the terms of service, I cannot, for example, “sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the digital content or any portion of it to any third party.” (Naughton, 2009)

I will be watching this space in the coming years as to the development of ‘book pirating’ I suspect this could have the similar effect as file sharing had on the film industry.

Nevertheless, at this point I’m not feeling like the e-book provides the best possible reading experience, but it does have a place in my life and certainly my studies… From entirely my Gen Y perspective though, I still thank the heavens for my EREADER, if it could make my coffee in the morning, I’d marry it.

Refs:

National Public Radio (2010) ‘E-Book Boom Changes Book Selling And Publishing’, December 21, <http://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132235154/e-book-boom-changes-book-selling-and-publishing>

Lehrer, Jonah (2010) ‘The Future of Reading’, Wired, September 8, <http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/the-future-of-reading-2>

Naughton, John (2010) ‘Publishers take note: the iPad is altering the very concept of a ‘book’ The Guardian, December 19, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/dec/19/ipad-publishing-kindle-books-apple>

Image: Gene Wilburn, Available: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdnphoto/4182802481/