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Week 11: Aggregation

May 27, 2013

 

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

 

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