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/

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WEEK TWO

EVENT BLOG

Marshall McLuhan discussed how the content presented in new media types is set to distract us, “the [content] as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.” (Jeffries, 2011, Pg. 1)

McLuhan says that the content is only there so we miss the structural changes new media’s make to ‘us.’ In sociology it’s said to be impossible to understand the differences of one culture from another unless you remain disconnected and outside it whilst attempting to study it.

Like the way we structure our day around the TV and the discussion surrounding popular programs like ‘the Block’ or ‘Masterchef.’ Neither can we function without a mobile phone without feeling literally disconnected socially.

I think we must try to understand that with the introduction of new Medias and technologies that engulf our attention, comes significant changes that trickle down to our most basic interactions of human existence.

With the above examples of TV and the mobile, it is clear that when an individual is not engaged with one or both it has the effect of impacting their feelings of connectedness and inclusion at a social level.

“The subtitle of understanding media was the extensions of man and his vision was of technological innovations as human prostheses.” (Jeffries, 2011, Pg. 1)

In the reading, ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the Machine’ he likens media and technologies to prostheses. As if we are surely handicapped without them, imagine a man with a prosthetic leg, now imagine him trying to live without one. He would lose speed and ease in daily tasks and would be noticed as missing a body part.

We are so excited by the apparent features and benefits of these media’s and technologies that we don’t even notice that traditional ways of doing things are being forgotten. Old processes which require a specific skillset are lost to short cuts, for example, I just got a new Thermochef, and this is a kitchen appliance which chops, measures and cooks your meal for you.

It is marketed as the ultimate time saver and speedy cooker. Now I’m certainly no Masterchef, I once cut myself so badly WASHING UP that I required twelve stitches, but there are people who have great culinary skills. Say goodbye to julienning, Allumette and Brunoise oh my!

The Amish are a culture who refused innovation and technologies. You only have to grasp their basic values in life to see the difference when comparing to our modern culture. The following link lists the key values and outlines the differences between the current trends and a culture free from technology.

http://www.uwlax.edu/faculty/bulk/soc225/amishVmainstream.pdf

Jeffries says our culture and societies are shaped to reflect our technologies. Yet media content, mediums and technological gadgets are produced to help humans live. It is developed for us –the consumer- with a use in mind, to juggle, to handle the speed of life today. Yet it then begs the question, which came first? The chicken or the egg?

Theorists differ in this stance and I personally think we, as a society, play leap frog with our own progresses. We create, and then we adapt and morph as we begin to see new possibilities or improvements for the same technologies.

I get caught up with wanting to predict the future of this race we run with technology. Paul Virilio believed in technology contributing to decreased freedoms. “It has become clear that real wars are fought not for people or fatherlands, but take the place between different media, information technologies, data flows.” (Jeffries, 2011, Pg.2)

Having studied George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ during the HSC, can envision such a pessimistic view of the future especially when I read about new ‘drone cameras’ being tested for use in the NSW police force and a GPS tracker in every phone.

In previous studies we have looked at the notion of networks and assemblages to describe the way in which the internet, divisions and parts of society function side by side.

When we interject culture and media into the mix, Machinic, is a good way to describe the way certain processes are mediated, organised, controlled and siphoned off. Machinic includes everything, like a circuit board which controls the flow of electricity.

board

Refs:

Jeffries, Stuart (2011) ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the machine’, The Guardian. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/28/friedrichkittler-rise-of-the-machine

Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John (2003) ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology London: Palgrave Macmillan: 11-38

Image 1: http://www.reatechnologies.com/circuitbrd.html