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

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VISUALIZATION PRESENTATION -08/05

Apple: The Trend of Growth

We are attempting to make visible the growth of Apple Inc. over the years, incorporating their manufacturing development and product introductions.

This is a growth chart which most people assume, due to Apple success, but have never ‘seen’ the phenomenon so collaboratively.

People tend only to think as far as the latest gadget and what it can do for them. Through this visualization we’re getting people to think about the advance of electronics in just a few short years and how ingrained electronics are in people’s everyday lives.

The presentation promises an insight into information you would not otherwise find in one place by bringing together key growth points of Apple Inc. and their products.

It would interest the westernized public with products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad being leaders in the industry in recent years. Many would be curious to know that Apple had humble beginnings and started out making typewriters.

The consumer electronics industry, which is ever expanding, and the consumers of personal gadgets would find the visualization thought-provoking.

We have made a stimulating road map of sorts from Prezi presentations software and incorporated various smaller visualizations of Apple’s market expansion. This technique helps symbolize a spatial and temporal path of progress over the years.

When producing this visual tool we found locating and cleaning a sizeable enough collection of data a difficult task. This wasn’t easy like we had anticipated and our knowledge of visualization tool software made creating a dynamic and motivating visualization quite difficult.

One issue with our visualization is that as you move through the slides you are still processing little bits of information one after the other, I’d prefer to engage with a single intricate and elaborate image which conveys differing sorts of data all intertwined.

Ultimately, we resorted to turning relevant data sets into small less multifaceted graphs and incorporating those into a timeline of Apple’s ascent into little gadget heaven. There are endless articles on Apple Inc. online, mostly they relate to profits and how much money Microsoft is making for someone else.

The public (unless you’re a shareholder or investor) are unlikely interested in such information; but using our visual tool it works to draw people into an aspect of Apple evolution that would likely fascinate them.

Perception is the key to making data sets into successful visual tools. Data alone cannot convey a depth of perception like an image can. A tailored image is a practical experience, you can build the concept in your mind and can actually see how the data comes together.

Visualization is as close as we can get to collecting the data and doing the research ourselves. It is compressed and a collective understanding of information, digestible to all.

Link to Presentation: http://prezi.com/dbdgmf-srh4t/apple-the-trend-of-growth/

PRESENTATION BLOG- 07/05

Making Something Invisible Visible

The answer to a simple question is no longer simple. There are millions of answers and a million more questions that follow.

In a sea of ‘what if’s’ and hypotheticals visualizations assist in extricating helpful information from oceans of data.

The images highlight patterns where before only words appeared. They show trends and explain complexity to audiences with no previous experience in that field.

In the lecture it was suggested that visualizations were, in the past, considered evil. They were accused of being ‘distracting,’ but I think people were just realizing and intimidated by the power of visuals and visualizing.

No mere picture could give a complete or accurate depiction of life, but images were said to be attempting such representations.

This view may have some merit based on data needing to be ‘cleaned’ before use. That is the standardization of icons, text-type and the like before being loaded into visualization software.

The problem with visualizations is that there is no fine print to fall back on. You can read the same paragraph of a textbook over and over, until you understand it.

Images only allow for one possible understanding, they represent a specific set of data, and thus one has to assume the data has been collected, cleaned and imported correctly.

Thus visualization images, can lead you astray, they cannot be a sole communicator but must be accompanied by explanations.

Coupled with text, visualizations boost understanding-allows our minds to get a 3D understanding or a Sort of practical understanding without being involved with research from the beginning.

Image: http://www.behance.net/gallery/Make-the-Invisible-Visible-(Sept-11)/2805905

INFORMATION GRAPHICS BLOG– 23/04

Scientific theory can be notoriously difficult to understand. Visual representations of such data allow right brainers to assimilate information in an instant. Knowledge is cemented into graphics, computer-aided design and illustrations and is known as informational graphics.

Publishing statistics, facts and figures establish a new way of portraying and communicating data into easily digestible pieces. Representations may only be that, but still allow a freer critical thinking on multifaceted subjects.

Rather than just a basic image like a photograph, an information graphic involves skills of conception which are more complicated than simply admiring shapes and colour.

These graphics coax you happily down the path of connective assemblages that is your mind, every day we try desperately to archive as many semantic and semiotic codes as we can use to decode millions of messages presented to us during our lives.

When incorporated into new methods of publishing arranging symbols and understanding patterning accelerates learning unbelievably.  Time and time again, plain text just isn’t enough to solidly retain information on a deeper level, publishing information graphics impact and influence any reader more than older forms of publishing.

The article by Anon, ‘The Global Warming Skeptics versus the Scientific Consensus,’ makes information beautiful through sheer ease of read.

I have read a lot of pro-climate change articles and have always wished for a more concise wrap up of the sceptics’ argument. This visualization allows for an on the spot critique of both arguments.

This is a form of publishing that I would prefer to connect with, absorbing the perspectives and information is simply easier when the main arguments and rebuttals are lined up with the graphic proof of point dividing them.

“Visualizations engage people in research by giving them something they can actually play with and imagine. People connect to it.” (Kloc, 2012)

I have thought about climate change and now having a more succinct picture of a sceptical argument I have to say it does not change my view. Reducing pollution, deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions is important work no matter what the statistics say.

References:

Anon. (2009) ‘The Global Warming Skeptics versus the Scientific Consensus’, Information is Beautiful. Available: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/climate-change-deniers-vs-the-consensus/ (Date accessed: 23/04/12)

Kloc, J. (2012) ‘The Evolution of Evolution’ SEEDMAGAZINE.COM. Available: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_evolution_of_evolution (Date accessed: 23/04/12)

Images: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/08/02/data-visualization-modern-approaches/

VISUALISATION BLOG – 16/04

I find images are so uplifting, how they supplement our learning, how they are presented with the intricate connections that occur, interlinking the informational message and the audience.

The concept of visualisation in relation to publishing could not be more paramount, for it is through the eye that we view our whole world. In books the words describe what we can see, creating pictures in the minds-eye for us to grasp an idea more firmly.

This is what is described as ‘visualisation.’ Images have long been used as teaching aids, seeing is innate; before the first language was spoken the human species saw and recognised familiar images.

We now have common understandings of certain images and icons. To understand how graphics can be brought into the changing paradigm that is publishing we must first look at how these graphics are composed, interacted with and experienced.

When considering Timo’s ‘The Dashed Line in Use,’ you could understand how communicative such a small seemingly insignificant image can be.  The dashed line speaks so fluently to virtually every person without them even being aware of it.  These little lines feel like some reminiscence of a language learned long ago, lost in the depths of our consciousness, along with developing our silly little motor-skills.

Dashed lines are used most basically for visual instruction, demonstrating a chain of movement and it shows a perceived flow. As a virtual fold, the dashes indicate structural design possibilities of objects, and as a sign of things to come. The dashed line is the way home, the key to reading a map, an action to be followed by another action… symbolising a move by either human or object. The dashed line confirms what is not there… imaginary boundaries or borders.

I think this is why mind-mapping is such a powerful tool (I discovered mind-mapping as a learning tool recently hence my mild obsession with it).

Our sub-conscious minds are inherently visual and meaning we associate through connecting colours and images to other objectified pieces of knowledge in our minds which places the item into our accumulative assemblage of stored information.

It seems the more senses we engage the more knowledge we can solidly accumulate. When we combine traditional tools of learning like books with new multimedia, we transform the way people gather knowledge.

Technologies can now target kinaesthetic learners, tactual learners, auditory learners and visual learners, making aggregated information more understandable and revolutionising possibilities in publishing.

On the job training is part of every practical thing we do and the best form of learning, because you’re immersed in the experiences, with all your senses blazing.

In the Gates reading, Vague Terrain 09: Rise of the VJ,’ it is acknowledged that aesthetic qualities have remarkable power to influence experience.

“Live video mixing performances certainly address a hunger for immersive and synesthetic sensory experiences where aural and visual elements work together to create a whole that is something beyond the sum of the parts.” (Gates, 2009)

The new technologies we are seeing today such as, Smart-phones, kindle and Ipads, are engaging the audiences at high levels, allowing people to create relationships with data and new technologies.

“Perhaps it is the intense bombardment of the senses that does it. Or perhaps it is the richness of the dialogue between technology, spatial architecture, and human expression that speaks to us so powerfully” (Gates, 2009)

Our attention is being eaten up by mutli-sensory devices which seek to submerge the user in each and every function.  I personally find this example of VJing a bit overwhelming however the Benga – I Will Never Change by Us video is a great emersion of past and present technologies.

Refs:

Arnell, Timo (2006) ‘the dashed line in use’, <http://www.nearfield.org/2006/09/the-dashed-line-in-use>

Gates, Carrie (2009) ‘Vague Terrain 09: Rise of the VJ’, <http://vagueterrain.net/journal09>

Vimeo, available: http://vimeo.tumblr.com/post/20608208237/benga-i-will-never-change-by-us-spin-this

Image 1: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-circle-maze-puzzle-as-a-brain-in-a-person-head-image7797243 (Date accessed: 16/04/12)

Image 2: http://kid.tipjunkie.com/scissors-skills-worksheets-for-kids-fine-motor-skills (Date accessed: 16/04/12)

PRIVACY BLOG – 09/04

PRIVACY (not to be confused with piracy) BLOG

The forms we use to create have in the past and present been monitored, restrained and rationed for those who can pay the going rate. Now it seems the newest capitalist commodity are our inner most wants, needs and search histories.

We have never, in the past, been as recorded as we are today. Not the creepy film-you-while-you’re-sleeping recorded but our unwitting digital trails are being scooped up. “The Internet of free platforms, free services and free content is wholly subsidized by targeted advertising, the efficacy (and thus profitability) of which relies on collecting and mining user data.” (Furnas, 2012)

While the attempted control of expression is coming to an end, we may simply be trading one freedom for another. Who can breach, sell and invade our privacy? Google can for one.

It seems like the digital equivalent of Google going through my trash at night looking for scraps. I don’t mind, eat what you like, my infotention has brute strength. I pay no mind to those online shoe advertisements slyly popping up to the right of my homework, no mind at all.

But with all the data collection you have to ask; do I really want Google going through my rubbish? They can’t possibly be hungry. They must be more your private investigator type, looking for possible marketing weaknesses, it makes people uneasy.

It can be assumed that when we use a service online which is ‘free’ we enter into a deal with the producer. I straight swap- service for data- we are now products. “We experience this commodification of our attention every day in virtually everything we do online, whether it’s searching, checking email, using Facebook.” (Furnas, 2012)

I’m valuable to business; it takes that old saying ‘the customer knows best’ to dizzying new heights, the business can now anticipate my wants and consume for me. Is this helping or hindering me? I don’t know yet. No one does!

Google’s policy manager, Betsy Masiello, has said that Google will not be collecting more data than it has done in the past, “This is something we have already been doing for a long time.” (Ref 2)

Google claim that this revision of it privacy policies will ‘simplify’ them. These handy simplification changes involve, “sharing its users’ data across all its services so it can be used to tailor delivery of those services, as well as advertising.” (Ref 1)

Over the last decade commercialism has successfully made us into very efficient consumer bunnies. Like bunnies we consume left, right and centre, but now this culture of commercial enterprise are trying to remove much of the guess work surrounding when, how and where shoppers buy goods and services.

“By consolidating information about its users and refining target audiences for a product, Google can charge more for its advertising.” (Ref 2)

But unlike Eddy, we cannot be locked in. The privacy laws that allow the harvesting of user search data is akin to voyeurism and has been going on without consumer knowledge for some time.

With online use getting sticky it raises questions of personal or business security?

It’s not clear whether users can politely opt out of data collection and even when you’re not engaging with Google’s most popular products they can still track your search history.

All that being said I personally dont mind my history being tracked because I think data should be used to help fight crime such as child pornography and terrorism.

We grant private entities — with no interest in the public good and no public accountability — greater powers of persuasion than anyone has ever had before and in exchange we get free email.” (Furnas, 2012)

The internet commons is where we can communicate, search and express ourselves behind the safety of perceived anonymity. However our personal information is being used to market products to us each time we login, “when we think in terms of power, it is clear we are getting a raw deal” (Furnas, 2012)

However potential uses of these technologies to alleviate major problems within society, such as, helping fight organised crime, child pornography and terrorism are rejected as too great an invasion. Yet the fickle action of selling more shoes made in sweat shops at triple the manufacturing cost remains the goal.

Ref:

Furnas, A. (2012) “It’s Not All About You: What Privacy Advocates Don’t Get About Data Tracking on the Web” Available: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/its-not-all-about-you-what-privacy-advocates-dont-get-about-data-tracking-on-the-web/254533/ (Date accessed: 09/04/2012)

https://www.pcworld.com/article/248916/google_privacy_policy_claims_challenged_by_watchdog.html

https://www.pcworld.com/article/248845/google_defends_privacy_changes_as_questions_mount.html#tk.mod_stln

Image: http://www.philosophyblog.com.au/privacy-cartoons/

 

INFOTENTION BLOG – 01/04

I thought that each moment was an opportunity to learn more and get ahead; I guess I actually thought all these distractions were good for me! Yet I know my attention would be 100% better if I only switched my phone off.

“Persistent multi-taskers perform worse than infrequent ones on tests that require them to jump from task to task. It seems they were more easily distracted by irrelevant information thrown up during the evaluations.” (Temple, 2011)

I have at times found myself sending out a bunch of random text messages so that I can expect a tidal wave of replies to ‘check’ next time I’m bored. Before mobiles were invented and you had to carry 40c around with you in case you needed a phone box. I wonder if my parents got bored. I doubt they did.

However they have very questionable taste in music and drive 10 km/h below the prescribed speed limit, so to say that generation X came out normal and unscathed would be a bit of a stretch.

Infotention is the ability to shift and sift through vast amounts of unsolicited information while assessing its value. While giving full attention to only the information which; via educated guess, appears accurate.

A real life example of infotention for me is when I’d like to know the health benefits of say… Spinach, because let’s be honest, I need convincing that its’ good for me to eat it! I’ll start with Google, read a few websites for facts which correspond to information on the others, ensure there are some similar articles on Google scholar and assume the facts are pretty solid.

Based only on a quick comparison, it’s easy enough to tell when an allegation is too outlandish to be true.

Macready says that without formal education, which is essentially the mastering of paying attention, one cannot mature correctly and become a responsible adult. The loss of attention is the ability to care – to be responsible for ones work or life.

Let’s look at the state of our planet, our oceans and forests, which are being completely destroyed by the destructive nature of capitalism and consumerism.

Yet we as individuals are bombarded every minute of every day to consume more, “These psych-technologies create care-less consumers that know how to purchase products, but not care-full citizens who know how to live responsibly.” (Macready, 2010)

Another example of this is massive credit card debt – sending more than we earn but we can’t quite understand why! Is there a mysterious force willing me to buy new things when old things will do?

Attention has always equalled power. From when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the mid 1400’s to now where attention equals a more modern power, the almighty dollar.

In our attempts to take in the valuable stimuli we need daily, advertising is unfortunately always mixed in with it. It teaches our subconscious that we inherently “lack.”

I wonder how this attitude of deficiency impacts our individual modes of infotention? With the current transformation of physical to digital are we thoughtfully assessing what we encounter on our Google searches?

Perhaps those who are less advantaged in society are more susceptible to the onslaught of messages the internet brings.  I immediately think of the fast-food debate and how low income earners, the ones who can least afford to get sick, are the main consumers of artery clogging deep-fried junk.

We have a wealth of information, a frazzled attention span and a deep poverty of any true understanding. Most don’t realise that they need to cull and be critical of “information” that comes along, we must be backwards in a society where a MacDonald’s ad can be mistaken for a public service announcement.

Knowledge and true understanding can only be mastered when an individual can dissemble and reassemble all the inner workings of a subject. This could be why mind mapping works when trying to retain important information, because we learn by associations with the help of our imaginations.

“Retention can be understood as judging, which is concerned with the past and relies on the retentive and productive capacities of the imagination.” (Macready, 2010)

This gives very good insight into the things that shape my attention, as the span of such has always been an issue for me personally. When we truly understand and retain some bit of information our brains instantly connect this building block to other pieces of information to which it may be relevant.

We are constructing the future in our minds, like the archive, our imaginations shape and mold the pieces of our past and present realities.

We dismantle and we troubleshoot, moving dream-blocks and objects from chronological patterns into spatial patterns, forwards or backwards, Linking certain primary retentions with secondary retentions, consciousness projects protentions, as anticipation.” (Macready, 2010)

 

Refs:

Temple, James (2011) ‘All those tweets, apps, updates may drain brain’ San Fransciso Chronicle, April 17, <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/16/BUTO1J0S2P.DTL>

Macready, J. Douglas (2010) ‘The New Revolution: Stiegler and Arendt on Psychopower, Education, and the Life of the Mind’, The Relative Absolute, <http://therelativeabsolute.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/the-new-revolution-stiegler-and-arendt-on-psychopower-education-and-the-life-of-the-mind/>

Images: http://unbounce.com/landing-pages/can-you-catch-4-ping-pong-balls-how-too-many-messages-can-kill-your-conversion-rate/