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.

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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)