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Week 2 ARTS3091

Media technologies can be thought of as extensions of the human capacities (McLuhan, 1974) – media makes it easier to communicate with others, browse and sift through different ideologies with a click of a button and allows you to see the world without even leaving your room. Yet Kittler argues that we are now extensions of media itself. He states that we adapt to the machine, we use it in a particular way which may not have been intended when it was created.  In relation to modern media, I think I am more persuaded by the latter. In an interview, McLuhan states that the “communal medium” of television (instead of the isolation of a book) emphasized the need for society to rid itself of individualism and becoming less concerned with self-definition. This, was perhaps true before social media. Now, media is used to define ourselves – even future employers judge us based on our online personality rather than our full set of skills.

 I have been reading “The News: a user’s manual” by Alain de Botton who makes extremely valid points and raises questions as to why we are so fascinated by celebrities, obsessed with horrific stories and if we actually retain all the information that it presented to us. He notes that it is way it is presented, rather than the pure content that entices us – we are more likely to read a headline with gruesome/interesting details rather than something that is important. Due to this, I believe we have become extensions of media as there is a demanding necessity to stay connected all the time, with everything that is going on – and perhaps, if McLuhan were alive during the technological innovation of the internet and social media, he may have the same ideology.

In regards to political news, de Botton states that we are only given little parts of the issue rather than putting it in the context and as we may not have complete knowledge or a ‘filing system’ for specific issues. I believe that the communication model, in regards to what de Botton states, is really open to interpretation and attention spans.

Andrew also said that there were issues with the model of communication as it is purely an engineering model and does not take into account personal experience. It also doesn’t acknowledge how digital media differs from face to face communication in relation to how the message is received and understood. I worked in customer service part time for over 4 years and I currently have a job in an office where I am also dealing with customers but over the phone and via emails. I have noticed a drastic change in the customer’s attitude towards me over the phone in comparison to face-to-face and I think it is purely because body language and facial expressions are taken out of the equation. It can be quite hard to express sympathy when the other person can only hear your voice in the middle of their rage, when all they want is for their problem to be solved but protocol must be followed. Bateson (who I will base my next post on) states that gestures, facial expressions and body language are redundant and only distract from the message itself – I disagree strongly. If we were machines then sure…but we are human, emotion in some form is most definitely necessary and adds meaning to the message. This is also supported by de Botton – he believes that the news (specifically political news) would pertain to more people if it were presented with some opinion and backstory rather than a short, mechanical report with no human touch.

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“I need somebody with a human touch” – maybe the spice girls were singing to the journalists of the world?

Andrew’s theoretical framework shows the pathways of communication through media and I think it is quite an interesting way to think of communications in relation to these. In the tutorial while we were doing the mind map, my group wanted to arrange our ideas in categories but found that most of the pathways are interconnected and it doesn’t seem as though you can just have one sole definition for media and its uses. I do not particularly have complete understanding of these frameworks as I feel myself trying to fit things in certain groups but I feel as though it isn’t as linear and segregated as what Andrew proposes.

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ARTS3091 Lecture 1: week 1

Uni relapse.

As we sit in the lecture theatre, there is a vast difference between the atmosphere of this lecture and the one I had previously. The prior lecture room was full to capacity – students spilled into the walkways, sprawling their notepads and multi coloured pens on the stairs. They hushed as the lecturer turned on the computer. They asked questions: mostly dumb ones…ones that were answered by the lecturer through her very detailed spiel that took up the better part of two and a half hours. They needed to know every single little detail that didn’t cross my mind. They were eager but scared– scared about the specific details of the assessments, the referencing, the fear of not living up to their marks received in high school and being not as superior as they once were. First years. Yes I am taking a first year course as an elective and I’m not sure whether to be threatened by my peers’ enthusiasm or if I should revel in the notion that they are about to have all their expectations crushed (a little bleak… but I’m mulling on my own experience). 

Now flash forward to the familiar faces of third year media students and the entire ambience of the room is different. It is a little over half full, friendly smiles and waves are exchanged from across the room as are some loud shrieks of joy when seemingly close friends are reunited. Throughout the next two hours, I feel a ping of sympathy for Andrew. As he brought up the first slide, 50% of the Mac screens flicked to Facebook or Tumblr or some other social media site. Two girls beside me start whispering about what they got up to over the holidays and I will not be repeating what I heard! And I found myself tuning in and out: getting distracted by the conversations around me, the really cool online store this girl in front of me is scrolling through and the effects Andrew has put on the power point slides…very impressive.

Instantly, I am reminded of the last course run by Andrew (ARTS2090) and the attention spans of my fellow classmates (including myself) teleport me back to my blog post about attention (or lack of): The octopus: the modern day multi-tasker. The major issue with media isn’t that we don’t know what to do with it or how it affects our personal lives [and interactions] but the fact that there are multiple stimuli that we pay equal attention/distraction to simultaneously, and thus neglect the depth of attention needed to complete one task. Even as I write this, I am checking my emails, organising my shifts for work, updating my schedule book, texting, a little bit of Facebook and Instagram and humming along to the music being played in the café I am sitting in. I have a feeling this is going to be a busy semester.

Essay-in-lieu-of-examination – Question 1: Are digital and networked media dismantling the “publishing industry?” Is it being replaced? If so, what is replacing it? If not, what is the publishing industry becoming? Are there new difficulties or complexities or expenses involved?

The idea of publishing is simple; yet it is these simplistic notions that mask underlying complexities associated with the “publishing industry.” Publishing is integral component of our society; it shapes our relationships with one another and forms how our society’s functions. But concerns that new media is dismantling the publishing industry have augmented, causing uncertainty and debate among people who may not understand the full potential of new media. ‘It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because of the core problem publishing solves – the incredible difficulty, complexity and expense of making something available to the public – has stopped being a problem.’ Clay Shirky proposes the primordial ideology of the digital age forcing the “publishing industry” to become redundant; which was and still is widely accepted and speculated. Print is dead; journalism is dead. He believes the new technology and new ways of publishing would ultimately destroy the value and meaning of “publishing.”

Publishing is generally thought of the dissemination of literature or music and demands a very medieval outlook. Wikipedia’s readings on publishing acknowledge that the digital age is changing publishing but still focus primarily on the traditional method of publishing like books. Yet new media and new forms of publishing can merely be seen as the dissemination of information whilst utilising the technological advances of our society – thus encompassing the notion that publishing is in everything we do, from speaking to writing, to archiving even our personal lives on Facebook. No entity is separate, as it is all in relation to one another in some form. DeLanda prophesises a new way of thinking about our society as being interconnected at some point – information, people, history, future; it is all conjoined and it is just to which extent we choose to focus in on a particular aspect will we see how correlated other aspects are. This sense of connectedness relates to Derrida’s theory of ‘archive fever’ – where all media not only constructs archives, but abolishes them as well. Derrida proposes his ideology that archives are one of the most important aspects of publishing, in the sense that they embrace a sense of value of the society and even to the individual; thus cannot be disbanded as our engagement with publishing ultimately moulds who we are, or we can sculpt media to the condition we desire. This inability to isolate certain aspects of publishing and our media also equates to an inability to dismantle and eradicate traditional means; hence why it is certain digitalisation is simply morphing and shifting both the publishing and media industry and consequently society in its entirety.

The new form of publishing allows for innovative and resourceful distribution of information and knowledge; not only instantaneously, but across borders. The reality is new media is not dismantling the traditional approach of publishing but rather reconfiguring and augmenting the potentials of media in our society. The industry of media and publishing is perpetually transforming; an entity where we must keep entwined in the sphere or be left behind. This notion can be explained by Guillaud’s (2010) reading, where Nova Spivack explained that we are “living in the stream: adding to it, consuming it, redirecting it.” It where we publish ideas, consume other peoples’ ideas and make our own sense of it in the public domain – in this stream of information, there is a palpable community where information is shared and if an individual is unaware of a piece of information, they are no longer connected to others. Technology is redefining this flow – it is modifying the connection between the author, the publisher and the reader in the sense that anyone can be a publisher; a reader can become an author who is able to publish the book and their readers is determined on how they decided to network.

While writing this, I was sitting next to my 13 year old sister who was doing an assignment. She turned to me and said “What would we do if we didn’t have Google, Caitlyn?” “Use an encyclopaedia or go to the library,” I replied. It was her response that purely rattled me…”What’s an encyclopaedia?” The extent to which digitalisation has affected younger generations is utterly surprising, yet ultimately, traditional forms of publishing will by no means be replaced by digitalisation. Imagine not being able to curl up on the couch with a book on a rainy Sunday. The smell of the fresh paper, the aesthetic of the words sprawled across the page, the physicality of holding the book – the iPad is not altering the book, but rather engaging new audiences to actually read.   We would definitely lose something from our humanity if the traditional “publishing industry” was obliterated due to the digital age; but publishing is reconfiguring rather than dismantling. The networked book, unlike the standardised printed book has no limit in terms of space or time – this boundlessness provides unlimited distribution and is accessible to many. It also enables others to engage and edit the work as well, so instead of having out-dated books (like a few of our readings that were basic knowledge to us) there will be a constant update of information. The publishing world is morphing, the traditional forms will not be replaced unless people allow it to. Social media, online newspapers, bloggers, technology such as video cameras in phones and now Google Glass (meaning that anyone can provide an abundance of information at any given time) are stripping down the traditional methods and customs of the “publishing industry” and renovating it to become something completely different… every day. These news inventions are replacing traditional means but not completely. Digitalisation raises the concerns of finance and profit. Will publishers receive the same amount of money? Will there be new expenses put in place for the audience to pay to ultimately fund these publishing platforms and publishers?

The very crux of this idea is the impact crowd funding has on the creative industries of film, design and music. It is highly dependent on our society – it is contingent with our personal interests of what we choose to pay attention to and what we choose to make publishable.

Crowd funding is a new medium established for amateur film-makers, designers, musicians and other artists to propose their projects online to solicit donations from the public. Artistshare, an American company, was the initial crowd-funding platform for the creative industry in 2001. Subsequently, copious other websites, like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, emerged in hopes to involve the public to financially assist creative projects.  This new platform introduces an amateur level of publishing to yield artists a foot in the door of the publishing industry. It is no longer who you know, but rather what you know and how you can translate and apply that to the new media that is available. For an assessment in my news reporting class, I investigated the corporate invasion on crowd funding and how that affected the community. I found that the community was surprisingly supportive – in comparison to other critics – of corporations moving towards crowd founding in the film industry. The Veronica Mars movie and Zac Braff’s project reached millions of dollars in less than a day, while other sovereign film-makers struggle to reach their set goal by the time frame that has been set out. Unanimously, Sydneysiders did not share the equivalent distaste of the critics to celebrities imploring money from the public.

Statistics show that the Veronica Mars and Zach Braff’s projects have attracted over 10,000 new people to Kickstarter. The staff blogged, “63% of those people had never backed a project before. Thousands of them have since gone on to back other projects, with more than $400,000 pledged to 2,200 projects so far. Nearly 40% of that has gone to other film projects.” The Veronica Mars movie convinced 91,585 backers to donate to the project and raised $5.7 million (words from my assessment). One of the donators, Chiara Middleton – a 19 year old UNSW media student – donated $50 towards to the Veronica Mars campaign. She believes that corporate films should be allowed to do this as long as they don’t expect the public to fund the entire project. With the Veronica Mars film, they wanted to bring the attention to studios to show they have a fan base that would pay to see this in the cinema, and without Kickstarter the film would not have been made.

“Part of the beauty of Kickstarter is getting to see the project unfold,” Tina Giannoulis, a 19 year old Screen and Sound student explained to me in an interview. “A lot of the things you can purchase are development points such as scripts, stills, work that’s still in progress or, best of all, a ticket to the final product. Traditionally, this ticket to the final product is ALL you would buy to fund a film so I delight in seeing it as an option as it inverts the industry. Instead of having a company give money then expecting to get it back from the audience, the audience gives its money and gets a product in return; creatively controlled films on demand.”

The new difficulties that face the publishing industry are indicative of the society and the developments in media and technology. Traditional forms of publishing need to adapt to these changes or be profoundly abandoned. It is feasible to suggest that the creative and media industry are now more independent – with developments such as crowd funding, it opens new, potential opportunities for journalism.

The publishing industry is blurring the lines between consumers and producers. It is catering to everyone’s needs and creating a free platform; and in our society, we are primitively based on profit, money and power. If everyone has an equal playing field, and everyone is just as good as each other – who will benefit?  It is practicable to suggest that individuals in the media and publishing industry will need to be fresh and innovative every single day they wake up in the morning and go to work – they will need to learn how to utilise the technology not only for today but for tomorrow’s changes and work that to their advantage. In other words, they need to be able to predict, to utilise their intuition and instinct when it comes to technology, as well as being a professional, accurate writer. People in the media industry need to now know everything and have a practicable approach and understanding to their work. The changing industry of publishing is indicative of our society and the nature of media and technology. But what is truly interesting is that the power ultimately rest in the public’s hands.

It is feasible to suggest that the digital and networked media are not inhibiting or dismantling the publishing media, but rather enhancing it and recreating the entire model. Media has always been the future – every form of media was affronted with criticism that it will ultimately change our humanity in some way because sometimes it is difficult for human beings to try and adapt to change. The technological age is most definitely daunting for the older generations, but for us 90’s babies; how can we be alarmed by the environment that we were raised in? We are extremely adaptable and we already know that the publishing world is on its head at the moment, thus we are the generation to grasp this uncertainty and generate a new, sustainable publishing industry. What we must learn as a society is not to criticise today’s media tenaciously, but instead embrace the constant newness and unearth possibilities that will benefit the public in diverse ways.

Week 12: Favourite example of publishing; Instagram

The whimsically addictive Instagram is creatively infused into our everyday life and I admit…I post pictures of my food. I can’t help it – I just get a surge of pride when I cook an meal that is actually decent and an uncontrollable urge compels me to share it with the digital world.

facebook-buys-instagram-for-1-billion-94e65c23fb

Instagram is obviously a media platform to disseminate photos of the individual’s choice.

The data that is published are real-time and real experiences of individuals daily life, ranging from “selfies”, to food, to landscapes. It is an aggregation of data that ultimately produces a visual personality profile and digital identity. The data is disseminated from digitally devices eg. Phones, computers, cameras etc.

Edwards (2010) refers to ‘infrastructural globalism’ as “the world”  as a whole is produced and maintained through this interconnected infrastructure. With Instagram, the world is represented visually. It is a pictorial or a collage of society. You have the locality of your friends’ pictures (who you are following) then you can expand globally via the hashtags. Hashtags allow an aggregation of a specific type of data, where all pictures of food are group together etc. You can view the infrastructure through a global lens. Say you decide to follow one person from Spain who supplied a hashtag of food – you are retracting back to the local and creating your own personal public where although demographically displaced, that person is still in your local environment in a sense.

The only disparities between data sets or “data friction” that I can think of is when someone tags unrelated and pointless hashtags to their photos which ultimately creates confusion and a form of data friction as not all pictures that are tagged “delicious food” are actually delicious or food at all. Also maybe ‘fake’ profiles and fan-based profiles who aren’t the idolised person but they are still submitting similar photos.

It is susceptible to manipulation for the reason I just mentioned. Also when it is redistributed, the photo could have a new filter and new tags from a new person in a new public – ultimately creating a new set of data which could potentially clash with the original data. One data set can been varied by another individual and thus creating a new meaning for potentially the same type of data. Is this another form of data friction?

Edwards, Paul N. (2010) ‘Introduction’ in A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: xiii-xvii

 

Feel free to follow me on my favourite publishing platform Instagram, which may or may not be inundated with selfies and food pictures! 🙂

http://instagram.com/caitlynncraze

Week 11: Aggregation

 

It is evident that interconnective computing is infused into our society and the world – but it is this new and rapid form of distribution of information that leads to new ways of aggregating and personalizing the way in which this information is archived, not only digitally but psychologically.

In Guillaud’s (2010) reading, Nova Spivack explained that we are “living in the stream: adding to it, consuming it, redirecting it.” This is the constant giving and taking in relation to information – the constant fluctuation; the constant desire; the constant need to be connected in every way, all of the time.

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“Fin. Noggin’. DUUUDDDDEEEE!” Alike Crush in Finding Nemo, The Eastern Australian Current (EAC) can figuratively resemble the flow of information that we are constantly consumed by. It is not only about us disseminating and consuming information but also sharing that with others. The EAC allowed the underwater creatures to travel to the same destination, have the same information shared among them and when they left the current, they no longer had any connection to the other creatures. The public is created simply by the space and the information they share, once that dissipates … so does the public.

The same thing can be said for our society and the dissemination of information, We are all on a “stream” – with momentum constantly building in relation to the types of information we receive. We see YouTube videos go viral overnight and everyone starts talking about it – digitally and face-to-face. If you do participate, it is almost as though you are isolated and no longer in the flow of information because everyone else has more knowledge of something than you.

Peter McWilliams said, “The news media are, for the most part, the bringers of bad news … and it’s not entirely the media’s fault. Bad news gets higher ratings and sells more papers than good news,” posing the question of how valid information is. In the stream or flow of information, it can also consequent negatively.

Take Muslims in Australian (or even Western cultured) media for example. The media grasps and exaggerates any “bad” news that arises. Even peaceful protests are blown out of proportion due to police and selective reporting; which can instantly sway viewers’ thoughts and acknowledgement of certain people. Media have shaped the way Muslims are viewed in our society – disseminating selective information to form a certain perspective. The minorities are constantly given a media platform, are criticized and ultimately shapes the views as a whole…where is the good? And to reiterate…is it the media’s OR the public‘s “fault”/prerogative that “bad news sells”?

Danah Boyd said, at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York mid November 2010, that “We give power to people when we give them our attention and people gain power when they bridge different worlds and determine what information can and will flow across the network,”

People are eager to jump in on the flow of information without realizing that there may be more details and information behind what is disseminating. By giving certain people our attention and believing what is being said, we are bestowing power upon them,  Being overexposed to information, we willingly accept what is presented to us; thus becoming lazy to search and uncover other form of information to either support or disprove the information that is readily supplied to us. As inquisitive beings, we should assess every news story and piece of information from every angle; not just the angle that is given to us. Media subliminally shapes the way we think – that was the sole purpose of creating mass media; to subtly manipulate peoples’ thoughts.

Danah Boyd also raises awareness to the overexposure of information and the information overload we experience daily – which can lead to “psychological obesity,” where all information is digested because it is supplied, rather than filtering out what is not needed. Reiterating her metaphor, she highlights the trending obsession of gossip – both with celebrities and even within our social circle. Facebook has become a platform where no interaction is needed yet you can still find out a lot about that person; what they did on the weekend, their new relationship status, dysfunctional fights – causing an influx in this obsessive behaviour of needing to know other peoples’ business all of the time. How many people can say they actually socialise with every single person on their Facebook? And if they do (which would be very rare in my opinion), how many people can say they see every single person face to face rather than socialising digitally?

In the ‘Dawn of The Systems Age,’ Dodson (2009) refers to the present state of our society as the Systems Age. Everything we are a part of is an aggregation of distributed information. But Dodson suggests that the new “gatekeepers” will be those of artificial intelligence. We have evolved from Information age to the Systems Age where we will be “sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision;” the digital sphere is monitored by the digital realm itself.

And I think that is enough rambling!

 

SOURCES:
[online] Dodson, Wes (2009) ‘Dawn of the Systems Age’, Page 3.14 http://scienceblogs.com/seed/2009/12/dawn_of_the_systems_age.php#more

[online] Guillaud, Hubert (2010) (on Danah Boyd) ‘What is implied by living in a world of flow?’, Truthout, January 6, http://www.truthout.org/what-implied-living-a-world-flow56203

 

Week 10 Group Visual Representation

http://prezi.com/sq-35dc6hbi2/present/?auth_key=kyjukjl&follow=bduvlpf0b4oq

This is $10AUD across the world!

REAL-TIME

Blatantly, visualisation is where an idea or pieces of information are abstractly represented in relation to colour, shape, size, texture etc. It is the basic principles and foundation of any artist and the fundamentals of graphic design.

http://453.stilled.net/category/production/page/2/

This website above is inundated with interesting visual representations of data and concepts (eg. time), through basic shapes, colour and size.

In the lecture, Andrew spoke of forms of content and expression – where the hidden data is expressed through visualisation thus making a new content. We select the way we want to express a certain form of content thus creating a new content which will be viewed by a new public.

As media practitioners, our role is to create a new public in our own image or in the image of the company we are working for. I’m not sure if I totally agree with this – I think as an advertising company or a graphic designer, you already know exactly who your audience is … so it isn’t entirely about creating a new public, but rather innovative ways to attract the old audience and maybe other people of the public you didn’t expect to attract – thus, an unintentional public forms.

The difficult problem with visual representation and publishing visualisations is that people’s perception may alter the meaning of what you are trying to portray. The purest form of visual representation is art; an artist may have certain intentions and paint a specific manner to influence how the public will view the artwork – but in the end, the artist can merely lead the public’s thoughts rather than shape them. Every person in the audience will view that artwork differently and if given a concept, everyone would choose to represent the concept differently.

The ideology of intertwining different platforms and cross signal processing is where we are at now. It is quite unnerving to think that publishing is transforming so rapidly and is reliant on the newest technologies that present themselves to the public. Real-time visualisation is an engaging way to publish certain things – such as the example of the video artwork given in the lecture. It highlights the capabilities media has, the implications of this on print media and ultimately the jeopardises the notion “real” journalism and publishing for a purpose rather than for entertainment.. I believe our society is heavily dependent on fast-paced, constant updates, where we can simply skim over the information available and select what we want. With real-time visualisation, it poses new issues and desires for and of the public.

Visual scenarios can enhance and hinder the public’s experience cohesively. On one hand, it can broaden the mind of the viewer and subject them to new ideas or new ways of thinking. But, contrarily, it affects the attention of the intended audience which links in with the topic from two weeks ago. If we are constantly shown images and short-text based signs, it will eventually become more difficult to read longer texts. This is definitely evident in today’s media – we like to think that we have control as to what grabs our attention, but brightly coloured pictures and short, engaging articles are more likely to engross the audience more effectively and more quickly in retrospect to a dense investigative article.

It is the sad truth that we are lured to certain things psychologically for the attractiveness that captures our attention. Whilst visualisation can ultimately heighten publishing, it is evident that we will most likely become lazy to read.