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The Shape of Things

23 May

Often our interaction with media, historically,  can be an isolating experience. Ironic for a tool that is supposed to connect us through communication can often do the opposite. This said, new media is thought is be more interactive and especially tools like Web 2.0 for example are often bottom up sources that many can contribute to and produce. The users here as we have seen can become the producers. The state of things though as Keith Armstrong in his article on networked practice often sees the audience, even as users who produce can become ultimately passive. Counter to this Armstrong believes that to avoid this kind of slump interdisciplinary collaboration is vital. He sees that in order for new media to actually be that we must have knowledge of the “homo-ecological implications” (Armstrong, 2005) of our practices that involve media of any kind. We, both producers and users, must move towards an “embodied and networked” world that is both “ecosophical and praxis-led” (Armstrong, 2005). Meaning it is an ecology that is embodied and done by the act of doing. So as to stave off complacency and promote action, production and diversity entailed.

The big issue with mass media as it stood, or can stand, is that a sense of community is lost. Armstrong sees that in order to reinstate a sense of community, in ourselves and much as with others, is to offer users of media a place and a role in which “dynamic, interlocking systems” (Armstrong, 2005) can be formed. Armstrong sees that media experiences must now be interactive and must ask questions of the individual in order for the individual to be a part of the process of the communication. Individuals must be involved in the collaborative an ever-changing and shifting nature of new media as we work towards a sense of a networked ecology, that can exist electronically. All this should, and must in a new networked ecology, “seep into our consciousness, and our everyday existence” (Raqs Media Collective, 2005). Meaning that as we process media, we then seek to distribute amongst a network and this works its way into the nature of the experience. We then grow from the media we consume and in turn the world around also flourishes. Armstrong sees that this works in counter to the experience of a media that merely “feeds us… information that we may often feel powerless to process or engage with.” (Armstrong, 2005) What we consume from the media in Armstrong’s opinion must be something that is connection-making and communicative, allowing the users presence to feature and relate to. Through “located, engaged praxis that avodied didacticism” (Armstrong, 2005), Armstrong curated, along with Zelijko Markov a furniture designer, a work called “Bodyshelf” which allows audience to engage with the work with their whole body. Inspired by Suzuki Theatre work where the “energetic center” of the actor puts into motion their relationships with others, the audience and other actors. This allows, as we see clearly in new media, for multiple process of dialogue, exchange and transfer. The combining of the three here is key. In this we audience create their own “transmission and reception paths” (Armstrong, 2005), that inspire a ecologically driven system, but a ecologically driven and networked way of thinking and being.

Reflecting on the course and the tutorials this approach, or moving towards this approach, has been key to the success of collaboration and learning processes. All individuals must interact in a ecologically driven fashion in order of a network to emerge that actually creates. The moments of connection and engagement with the work and with each other is incredibly then reflective of new media, and key to our learning and understanding of it.

This kind of productivity and engagement I found in this campaign for Diesel Jeans. Created alongside the team at Champagne Valentine, this collaborative work suggests exciting new pathways for collaboration, which ultimately is the point of the advent of all this new media after all.

Bibliography

Armstrong, Keith (2005) ‘Intimate Transactions: The Evolution of an Ecosophical Networked Practice’, the Fibreculture Journal 7, http://seven.fibreculturejournal.org/fcj-047-intimate-transactions-the-evolution-of-an-ecosophical-networked-practice/

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Here’s To The Future

16 May

As we continue to move a future, only starting to be realised, it is a far assumption to note that many are scared of those changes. In regards to the media and communications, how we receive media is becoming more and more interactive. We are affected bodily by the media around us and respond accordingly. This type of embodied media is incredibly powerful as a tool for political and social change. Historically media changes have results in establishing a top down system based on a belief in hierarchies. However the approach of the future is that of an interconnected hub of information, that ideally is freely available to all regardless of race, sex, class or age. An ideal new media in the future will distribute information as it comes in order to promote a higher educational consciousness that grows off the collaborative inputs of others all over the globe. Collaboratively we can build, collaboratively we can find solutions to problems and cures for disease.

However, as anything to do with the future, in the media the direction is uncertain and it will depend on how publics interact with new forms available in order to establish new social trends. Jane McGonigal, a social theorist and gamer questions the impact of her media in the future and how it will provide social change and growth, in all areas of the world. 3 billion people are playing games on a weekly basis, and McGonigal believes that 21 billion hours spent gaming can help solve problems of hunger, poverty, climate change and obesity. How you might ask, the how is the way the gaming community relate to the games they play. Instead of anxiety and depression, gamers experience optimism through fearful concentration. McGonigal sees that gamers will go against all hardships to survive, unlike what she see’s as the “I’m not good at life” approach to the shape of things. The only problem McGonigal sees that will stop the gamers taking the skills learnt in a virtual world into the actual world is the belief they cannot be as good in reality, as in the game. But as McGonigal notes, gamers have built a virtual interconnected network which they collaborate with one another while receiving constant feedback in order to fully solve problems. McGonigal notes that this interconnected, distributed network of gamers helps us to evolve and “change what we a capable of” (McGonigal, 2010). So McGonigal ask what are gamers getting good at? And for us how will this medium help us in the future?  The answer is four fold. First she see’s gamers learning “urgent optimism” (McGonigal, 2010), by the belief that a win is always possible, and always worth trying right now. This she sees builds bonds with the gamers who interact with each other on a level of trust and collaboration socially. Secondly games promote “super-empowered hopeful individuals” (McGonigal, 2010) who can actually make outcomes a reality. These players take their habits learnt into life and reality. Finally the players operate on an inclusive level where “everybody’s on the dream team” (McGonigal, 2010) and has ‘epic’ meaning to their lives. Wouldn’t that save you? McGonigal sees all this can be transfered into life and gamers are a strong human resource that will and can be used for positive social change and provide that ‘epic’ meaning we are all thankfully searching for.

Here is a great example of why we need to use technologies and media to promote social change:

Bibliography

McGonigal, J (2010) “Gaming can make a better world”, TED, http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

Science or Square Watermelons?

9 May

As Scientific Transfer progresses at such a dramatic rate we may start to wonder, how will we be? Maybe a selfish question, but with all this change, how do we identify ourselves anymore. The solution to all this self-doubt it maybe this is the way this have always been. Constantly changed, constantly evolving. The only difference is now people have learned the skills in order to track that changed. It’s really down to how we as people relate to our humanity. If we look to hierarchy the consensus maybe that we are created for a perform and what we can do is limited. Whether a evolutionist or creationist, in my opinion both a not useful ways of looking at it, we all have an opinion. What is exciting here, is all this scientific progress is screaming out to as learn, but learn from one another then you will learn who you really are… maybe. If I was sure of this, I would be sure of a lot. But is that not the very beauty behind the Media itself, uncertainty. It means we must keep offering data, innovation and data that assert themselves in the content we see all around today. Science pushes us to questions and pushes us to change. It is a beautiful confidence to always be moving forward I think. Something I love about the Media, especially in film, is the way images on a screen with sound, allow the audience to enter a story, go through it, and feel moved on. It is a beauty and a gift to be moved. Even if that experience is simulated, it still moves us and if we choose we can go forward.

So the readings of the week are all about science, about the way the collection of knowledge and expertise is moving forward dramatically. The question that remains though is are we, moving forward, and if not that too must be o.k. . My mind keeps focusing on the advent of the square watermelon in Japan. Farmers in the Zentsuji region started the process by growing watermelons in glass boxes which would allow them, as they grow to be the square shape naturally. Now I see how this is great for the people paying to ship watermelons. They can cut costs as the melons are much easier to stack and store, however that said on the market in the price often doubled. A fun ‘new’ thing for the customer is a marketing genius for the producer. Is this positive change? I’m not sure, maybe it is just more of the same, and another dead-end.

In Greg Fish’s article on DNA for the blog Weird Things, he notes interestingly that DNA is much more dynamic and evolving system than not. He argues that we are not a static tool created to perform,  with a limited amount of tasks available. He acknowledges that a biological system’s purpose is to “evolve for change and propagation” (Fish, 2009). This is great from Media as it means current systems can constantly evolve, and Web 2.0 for example is just another step forward, and ultimately is good for Media, and actually in the long-term will produce more work if we allow it. Step forwards in Media though it has to be said need periods on down time, and that down time ultimately is part of the moving forward, so a very positive experience ultimately. Bottom line, the changing face of Media has nothing to worry about. And any worry is part of the process.

Further building on Fish view of DNA, Craig Venter’s creation of a synthetic genome, from bacteria, is key our understanding of any Media flux and change. What Venter sees he is doing in creating a genome from chemicals in the lab is creating a life form that could not have existed naturally. This is as much a revolution for science as the rectangle shape building block was for the building industry. This genome is a building block though for creating life. Venter’s creation is greatly influenced by the way science is changing the way it conducts itself. Kevin Kelly in his article “The evolving scientific method” sees science as moving for merely facts, to methods. These help us to use the facts to discover and hypothesis. In order to be useable though they most be found to be repeatable under controlled conditions. For Media this is exciting as with “nature in flux” we are always now “discovering new ways to know” (Kelly, 2010). This means, for Media, that knowledge is accelerated, information available is ten fold, and the rates of progress can increase hugely. All this means we must now allow for constant modification and editing. For science that means reports can’t be fixed, computer proofs can be reliable and can trusted, and scientists will have to publish negative results, as well as positive. For Media this means open sourcing, which ultimately should enable for many new ways of structuring information through scientific innovation, that allows Media a opportunity to evolve and actually “enter into a new way of knowing. ” (Kelly, 2010). Elizabeth Pisani sees some of these ways in the data sharing revolution. She notes that today’s gene sequences are now all posted online and daily, and allow for great opportunities for building on each others work. Pisani notes that this will increase the pace of discovery and allow for much more clear diagnostics and ultimately cures. By sharing in successes and mistakes, Media can learn a lot for science in the way this gives rise to a “curation of data” (Pisani, 2011), that produces a new infrastructure. By making others less other we can actually learn from one another.

Bibliography

Pisani, Elizabeth (2011) ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, January 11, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing>

Kelly, Kevin (2010 ‘Evolving the Scientific Method: Technology is changing the way we conduct science’, The Scientist <http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/57831/>

Fish, Greg (2009) ‘Why your DNA is nothing like a database’, Weird Things <http://worldofweirdthings.com/2009/10/21/why-your-dna-is-nothing-like-a-database/>

Sample, Ian (2010) ‘Craig Venter Creates Synthetic Life Form’, The Guardian May 2, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/20/craig-venter-synthetic-life-form>


Putting Together, Pulling Apart, Finding Ourselves

2 May

As we continue to move into the second decade of the twenty-first century many questions are starting to arise, in the Media especially, about how we will or should organize ourselves socially. With all this new and open sourced information becoming more available, more often as we’ve seen in politics, what we actually do is manifested in all areas of life, especially in the social. In Thomas Jellis’ article on disorientation and micropolitics we see an overall transversality manifesting itself in the “affective potential of the interval between feeling and doing.” (Himada and Manning, 2009:5) Himada and Manning see by operating transversally we are activated. We are activated and we are enabled to do. Thomas notes that micropolitics put simply is a way we can all stretch and risk instead of following “a tendency in the political to present itself as fully formed.” (Himada and Manning, 2009:5). What is interesting for the Media in micropolitics is that it is a “creation of techniques for collaboration”. (Thomas, 2009) This means more open sourced materials, more sharing of knowledge and resources, and more potential to create. Thomas states that micropolitics is anything that “involves experimentation and an openness to be experimental.” (Thomas, 2009) This is functions around affect and the way something for somewhere else outside of ourselves bodily affects us, yet is not embodied in the subject. Meaning we can receive and share, without holding on to. We are experience and learning and then giving to another, everyone learning more and more as they go. We then able to learn, put together, fall apart and keep going having learnt for experiences and sources of knowledge. In fact we go out more ‘ourselves’ from the experience. What I am saying is Media through transversal micro-politics enables peoples to work together for the purpose of evolution. Yes, there is competition, but that competition only moves us to work harder, to be more effective, to be and invest more.

In his article of the socialization of evolution, Douglas Rushkoff sees that unfortunately “peer-to-peer networking is overshadowed by hierarchies of the status quo.” (Rushkoff, 2011) So yes on the internet people can work transversally, in a micropolitical way, but he sees this is over shadowed by the power of big business. It is true most content is affected by hierarchies, by I would argue that this top-down government control and domination of the Internet is something we all have put in place, whether apart of government or not. Yes, all over information is controlled, but we allow if not promote that control. Control can be a positive experience, especially on the Internet. It enables the growth of creativity, the product of new business that can be built upon. New infrastructures people who previous didn’t have the means can create. Douglas also argues that “a peer-to-peer network protected only by laws – that exist but for the grace of those in charge – is not a p2p network.” (Rushkoff, 2009) I see p2p networks do exist in this way, however if there was no laws in place, the structure of the Internet would fall apart as people would be hesitant to share in an environment with no laws. The laws allow for a shared sense of community in p2p networks and also a sense of responsibility. Something that breathes constant change in the Media as in the Social as in life.

In a chapter of the book ‘Network Culture’, Tiziana Terranova talks about how a social media, like the Internet, is positive for societies growth. Terranova’s states that “innovation and creation” (Terranova, 2004: 106) are the outcomes of having a society that is tranversally connected which will “engender, multiply and spread mutations.” (Terramova, 2004: 105) Knowing this Terranova sees that the great thing about p2p network, unlike Rushkoff’s exploration, is that even if top-down structures control the system ultimately there is a distribution of power stating “you can collect as much data as you want about individual users, but this won’t give you the dynamic of the overall network.” (Terranova, 2004:104) Individuals contribute and are valuable users in an open source environment. The more the contribution the more you your value it would seem. Terranova sees the Internet as a social environment that much like Wikipedia for a common example, users can production structures that are open and more importantly replicable. This is important, if socially we are to maintain new communities, we must allow for replication. Creativity will enable creativity, that has to be part of the process. Recently I heard a friend comment that they were part of an “underdog” group of artists. I really do not believe that to be true. Buying into such structures is just that. Buying into something that is pointless. We in society should not be putting labels to ourselves, more giving ourselves the potential to achieve, the openness to invest in something new, whether new Media, p2p networking, open sourcing. We should invest, not fear we are being controlled, because ultimately the only ones who are controlling is us. To invest means to be open to both successes and failures and both are important to the overall forward movement of the Media and of a society that will constantly find new ways to organize itself, which is a good thing.

Here is an example of a festival in Taiwan where movement is valued overall. Structure is let go and through a community working together, something beautiful emerges.

Bibliography

Jellis, Thomas (2009) ‘Disorientation and micropolitics: a response’, spacesof[aesthetic]experimentation, <http://www.spacesofexperimentation.net/montreal/disorientation-and-micropolitics-a-response/>

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

Terranova,Tiziana (2004) ‘From Organisms to Multitudes’ In Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age London: Pluto: 101-106

Open for Business

18 Apr

If anything about the media is certain it’s that change will keep occurring and recurring and occurring all over again. We can see this is the way government is changing as new media allows society a greater sense of transparency and a greater sense of input. New Media Director Macon Phillips at the White House backs the Obama governments decision to move towards an open source government. He talks about government 2.0 and how people “recognise something larger than themselves, and want to develop tools”, he finds it “exciting”, liking it to being on the campaign trail. He sees that web 2.0 creates “opportunities” for the “division of labor” that can allow people maybe to “take data and reinterpret it”, but also he recognizes the need for “more traffic”, this traffic is becoming increasingly heard and increasingly relevant to the White House and with help make a “greater relationship with the public and the people in the building.” New media then in relation to governments and top down government structures means there is more opportunity for input.

In Paul Mason’s article on Tea Parties and the riots the last year alone has seen he sees as a result of the younger generations exposure to new media. Mason notes that it gives a sometimes isolated part of culture a way to express themselves. In new media truth moves faster, ideologies can be easily rejected, women are right at its heart with men, vertical hierarchies find it hard to function and a greater sense of community and understanding results. Mason sees new media on a governmental level as distributing power and as Phillips put it “the division of labor”, meaning that all this media younger generations have access to and input into actually teaches them about the world. Enabling them maybe to start their own careers in politics and governance. This new media then acts a learning ground, like a University, for today’s emerging generations.

Jonathan Rauch notes in his article on the Tea Party, that this movement in the States and worldwide is acting as a “collective brain” (Rauch, 2010). Enabling large-scale radical decentralization. Done through crowd-sourcing, this open-source movement is a network that is “bottom up driven” (Rauch, 2010) and an open system. This functions differently than top-down, vertical government as it is without a leader or headquarters, it is self funding and many will work for free. It is about knowledge and power through distribution in the system, over the lording of “foolish or self-serving bosses” that can “wreck it” (Rauch, 2010). It cannot be wrecked as it has no boss. One ‘tea partier’ stated that like a starfish you “cut off an arm, and it grows into a new starfish”, this open source governances strength then lies in the fact new media has enabled it to be very mobile and very easy to connect with others in the community. Without the technology this open-source movement would have trouble existing, as it exists on these online networks, it exists through online collaboration and contribution.

Catherine Styles sees government 2.0 as the “future for greater transparency and collaboration” (Styles, 2009). She sees it as existing to improve government service and policy. Collaborators do the improving and their input can feed up to things as prices of food to climate change targets or immigration policies. Styles calls this “citizen governance” (Styles, 2009), which acts to keep accountable the way government functions. It describes it, it keeps and maintains it, it develops it, it hosts it. Overall though the goal of all this new governance and open-sourcing is to led to a transparency that ultimately “shapes our environments, cultures and experiences” (Styles, 2010). Unfortunately all this information also can be used in a negative way, not all members ultimately will have the best intentions, but as with media we can only look ahead and work towards a better, more stable future.

A great example of this kind of governance impacting mass industry can be seen in Tom’s Shoes. They notably in 2006 started a movement where they gave a pair of shoes to a child in need, for every pair of ecologically friendly shoes you buy. This gives the public something tangiable that we can actually do for one another which is what open-sourcing is all about.


Bibliography

Mason, Paul (2011) ‘Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere’, Idle Scrawls BBC, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2011/02/twenty_reasons_why_its_kicking.html>

Rauch, Jonathan (2010) ‘Group Think: Inside the Tea Party’s Collective Brain’, Articles by Jonathan Rauch <http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/2010/09/group-think-inside-the-tea-partys-collective-brain.html>

Styles, Catherine (2009) ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ <http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/>

Transversality, or the Playground for Dancing

28 Mar

As we move towards a world where stimulated environments can be held in the hand and accessed at the touch of a button, many theorists wonder what this individualisitic approach to reality and making our own environments, solely, will do to our relations with one another. Chris Grayson in his blog at GigantiCo sees many companies adopting practical applications and uses of “augmented reality”, realities in a sense shaped by the user. Lego has long worked on this marketing principle, so has Ikea but more and more companies for example automative companies or even Ray Ban are adopting them online and in the physical marketplace to enable users and buyers a chance to augment the product they are receiving, in a sense helping to produce a version that is applicable to their personal needs and desires. Grayson sees an ‘exponential’ speed and pace of progress which is only growing faster. A prime example in today’s culture is that of the iPhone, which through a convergence of realities provides the user will a multiple choice of realities at the touch, or tap of a button.

An element that links ecologies to these stimulated environments is the transverality they exhibit. In Murphies entry on The World as Clock: The Network Society and Experimental Ecologies he sees ecologies are “riddled with transversals” (p.118). These transversals in turn cannot be confined to one ecology as they transverse, to situate or to extent across something, producing and stimulating new connections and environments before that where unseen or unknown. Lar’s von Trier’s 1996 experiment Verdensuret which the way a group of ants moves determines the way 50 actors in Copenhagen perform in a space. He sees transversality as the way different environments breach one another to create a new, maybe more connected, sense of reality. Guattari believes transversality is the way in which nature and culture operate together across all disciplines, meaning they connect at various points, and that is successful, so then they break of in different directions taking that knowledge and information with them elsewhere and starting all over again. The natural then produces culture to move across the boundaries of disciplines.

This does not mean though that we abandon what has been learnt, in one environment, no. We take that into a new one actually stimulating it with our previous knowledge and create more and more ways of doing. We here network with political, social and natural ecologies as much as we do with our own internal ecologies. In externalising ecologies we have to be aware that we are part of a networked society where we must engage, and as Alfred Whitehead puts it in order to “transmit”. If we are open to these transmissions, we can often be surprised and taken in ways never before previously experienced. Providing us with a greater sense what it means to network and what it means to function as a community, together. To operate of this level of interconnectivity, is in a sense what it means to fully exist. Whether it be with an iPhone or another person, I favour the person, it is a sense of effervescence that surprises us all.

An example of transversality at the Sasquatch Music Festival:

Bibliography

Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo http://gigantico.squarespace.com/336554365346/2009/6/23/augmented-reality- overview.html

Murphie, Andrew (2004) ‘The World’s Clock: The Network Society and Experimental ecologies’, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 11, Spring

Thoughts, Exteriorizations and Ecologies

14 Mar

The primary concern of media ecologies is to try and discover how media manipulates the way we think, feel and behave. In theory we absorb a media, for example about the latest fashion trends, and then go out and set out to follow that trend by purchasing the required product. This then is an exteriorization of the desire retained within ourselves through our absorbing of media into our unconscious. We think, or we are touched, we then desire and that desire turns into an action. Neil Postman in his essay on educations writes that media and communications “affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival.” In simply terms media can be used as tool to manipulate how we interact with the world around us by having us believe we need something for our survival, not only that but it plays on our desire to thrive in the community as a whole. Felix Guattari argues that the only “true response to the ecological crisis is on a global scale, provided it brings about an authentic political, social and cultural revolution.” A call to action and to exteriorize that which we have learnt so far to aid the world in finding a different way forward, which is of benefit to everyone.

A media ecology is system of which many strands of information and knowledge interact together to form a new environment which makes something new possible. Any car, plane or boat, or transportation systems all operate in an ecology. The motor works alongside the wheels, alongside the wheel the driver steers to produce movement. All different parts of the whole, brought together to perform and action. Interesting when a car is no longer a viable means of transport we often term it as only useful for ‘parts’. This is a breakdown of an ecology, the individual parts however still have use and can function in a further ecology elsewhere. Matthew Fuller sees media ecologies as the way media systems interact with each other. He believes that just as the Dadaists did with cutting up poetry and sticking them back together again, all media objects have their own poetics which make the world or going to McLuhan’s theories the environment, which in turn make other worlds and environments possible.

Fuller notes that media ecologies to sum up are the “massive and dynamic interactions of processes and objects, beings and things, patterns and matter. (p.2) Each process must be “multiply connected, acting by virtue of those connections, and always variable” (p.4). I understand this in terms of relationship, especially the idea of family. A family functions through many connections, those connections change and grow. Roles, objects and ways we relate to one another change, yet in order to carry of acting as an ecology the parts must work together to keep the interactions alive. Felix Guattari sees ecologies acting in three different modes. The mental, the natural and social must interact together to bring about a “cross-fertilization” of knowledge and information. Ecology in this sense operates of the level of relations. We must go outside our comfort zones and put ourselves out into the world in order to see results. Humanly this can be exteriorized in relationships in marrriage, pregnancy, parenthood or simply the way a person relates to their dog.An ecology, or environment must exist where all parties feel safe and connected, in order to grow together, in order to produce.

Bibiliography

Fuller, Matthew (2005) ʻIntroduction: Media Ecologiesʼ in Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture Cambridge, MA; MIT Press: 1-12

Postman, Neil (1970) The Reformed English Curriculum in A.C. Eurich, ed., High School 1980: The Shape of the Future in American Secondary Education.

Anon. (2008) ʻThe Three Ecologies – Felix Guattariʼ, Media Ecologies and Digital Activism: thoughts about change for a changing world http://mediaecologies.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/the-three-ecologies-felix-guattari