Archive | March, 2012

Week 5

26 Mar

How is our reality established? And how do we know what is real?

I’ve been beginning to notice that our reality is heavily influenced by what is central to us, what we perceive as valuable, in short what connects to us on some level. One example of a constructed reality really affected me lately; this was a report by journalist William Daniels for TIME magazine. He recalled his ordeal escaping form Syria.

Now how many of you can say you know what is happening in Syria?

I would like to say I have an understanding of the issue. That I have constructed a reality of what is happening there.

I follow it in the media, and so construct a sense on reality of the situation.

For example: Escape from SyriaWilliam Daniels photo Essay- Syrian conflict

I continually engage with online galleries.

I read reports on possible NATO interventions.

But do I really understand the situation?

I am questioning my reality and my perception of the events in Syria. This is because my experiences have emerged with the world, a world that the media had mediated for me. It has therefore been depicting my reality of an event.

Daniels escaped from the conflict that killed two of his colleagues and injured another.

He makes two significant points:

1. Our perception and reality is contextualized. We see the reality of an event in relation how it is connected to us.

2. The media intervenes in our reality construction process, producing a limited view of the real.

Daniels says, ““The real story is not us. “It’s the Syrian people”.”

“It is unfortunately, a story that cannot yet be told in full.”

Here we are given a limited view of the reality, due to Syria’s government’s censorship. But importantly in this analysis, we are given a story of Syrian conflict contextualized due to the Western journalists involved.

“The ordeal of Western journalists has gripped the worlds attention while hundreds of residents in Bab Amr have been killed. The people they left behind may have well been slaughtered by the Syrian army…” says Daniels.

Daniels claims that because he is a Westerner, Syria was put in the media spotlight. But this is a sad truth of cultural proximity. It is also the sad truth of how our reality is affected by our relationship with the content. How it links to us, how we identify with it. The atrocities and raging war in Syria was linked with a Westerner, the truth of the event, the mass murders and government corruption is therefore left out of the spotlight.

Murphy reinforces this, “While it may not affect us it is communicating to us in a relational way.” The images in the article of Daniels related to me, they evoked personalization.

I was affected and utterly moved by this article. This is because I could perceive it in my limited reality. Journalist student-relates to working journalists. I cannot though relate to the Syrian people dealing with mass persecution of their race by their own government. Therefore my reality of the event is so far separated from the real, it is completely limited.

The media helps to reinforce my limited reality by exposing me to stories that I would relate to. Like the Daniels article.

So what does this mean?

Am I ignorant?

I don’t think so, although I try to engage with mediums that show this conflict I cannot contextualize it in my memory, experience and reality. SO I will remain within a limited reality. I am caught in a limited reality trying to deal with a complex one. I can understand the plight of Daniels; I can modulate this media experience.



15 Mar

I’ve been jumping between theories lately:

Is technology dictating social change?

Or is social change responsible for technological development?

I haven’t been close to an answer, not even. Instead, I’m on the fence, tossing up the weight or weightlessness of each. However, I did come to the realization that to understand what element is affecting what, we need to understand the self. Because we are society. Society is us.

Hegel, a psychoanalysis says that the self is born out of itself. Individual identity and self-consciousness must be faced by itself in order to exist, “to supersede its own self, for this other self” (Hegel 1977: 112).

This is a complex and hostile relationship. Believe me its tense.

However there are many factors here that allow me to make sense of my first two questions. Our current self must face a ‘new’ self, lets say, the technology loving self. The new self must supersede the current self in order to exist. This is an example of people becoming cultivated by what is happening around them. Hegel further contends, “although, as consciousness, it does indeed come out of itself, yet though out of itself, and the self outside it, is for it…” (Hegel 1977: 112). Therefore we must ‘develop’ and change, because our self-consciousness demands us to. So it can exist.

Noe, a modern philosopher also argues that consciousness is a key element in understanding the impacts of technology on society. Arguing, “consciousness, experience, even life isn’t something that happens in us, or happens to us”. So it must happen outside us. Just as Hegel argues. Our relationship with our self and the world around is forever changing, faced with hostility and instability, “A human being, like every living being, is a locus of densely interwoven coupling with the world around us. We make consciousness dynamically, in our exchange with the world around us.”

So are we just afraid to admit that we are affected by technology and it is affected by us? Why? Because we aren’t as powerful as we think.

Our environment, our very way of forming our own self-identity is based around a complex message system. It imposes on humans ways of thinking, feeling and certain behavior.  We are cultivated, embodied in a way of behaviorism, constructed by our circumstances and our want to be self-conscious.

Another theorist, Lacan says that we need to “establish a relation between organism and its reality”. Our reality is an ecology, bits working together as a whole, a proliferation of models. What is stable is just slow to change. We have established relationships between technology because it is a reality. Hence the importance placed on its impact on us.

Both Hegel and Noe argue that our identity changes and supersedes itself, as does our environment. Nothing is stable. Thats why technology, society and culture is of such a cyclical nature.

So… can I answer yes, to both my questions?

So far i’m going with yes.



Hegel, F. ‘Lordship and Bondage’ in Phenomenology of Spirit, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977. (orig 1807), pp 111-119.

Lacan, J. ‘The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience’, Ecrits: A selection, Norton, New York, 1977 (orig 1949) pp 1-7.

Noe, sourced from:

Towards the end of stability…

12 Mar

“Ecologies are diverse, marked by parts that no longer exist simply as discrete bits, but stay separate and form a whole”.

THE nature of ecologies  suggests that dynamism is heavily involved. Such a facet made me question how traditional communication for example, and specifically oral communication between people has evolved into a process that involves various objects and elements. Transcribing into an often-complex media ecology.

What I mean is that speaking to another person has changed.

Specifically, we now have mobile phones; we now have FaceTime, Skype, viber etc.

The question is though, what is this complex system, termed ‘communication’ which involves separate entities acting as a whole, doing to the way we interact?

Is it disrupting traditional communication between people? Or is it facilitating interaction?

Theorists argue that ecologies synthesize the world, “block, and make possible other worlds” (Fuller 2005:2).

Therefore it is possible to argue that the communication in discussion is still traditional, due to the element of communicating orally, but it has become more diverse, and versatile. This is due to the various mediums developed which eliminate issues of space and time. We can communicate globally, we can communicate quickly.

Further, communication in relation to journalism has also changed. Traditional journalism, written text, has developed intocommunicating through mult-semiotic texts.

The following video shows how journalists are now communicating through multi-semiotic forms. Indicating “a massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects…” (Fuller 2005:2).

The video highlights that traditional journalism, communicating through the written word to an audience who was not responsive has been changed. Now journalism involves images, audio, text and producing news to a responsive audience. The line between producer/consumer has been blurred. Journalism is “less and less self contained” (Murphie 118) which reveals the true nature of the media ecology.

This ecology has been born out of “concrete conditions”. Conditions restricting the flow of information to text. Change though, to what was once stable, was inevitable. Many theorists claim that journalist is intact rejuvenating itself, opening itself up to various inputs like citizen journalism. Therefore messages that arecommunicated have large social and political impacts.

TIME magazine for example has evolved and embraced online media. READ, WATCH. Articles now include interactive links, inclusion of videos, interviews. Issues and messages being reported on have a new depth about them. There is no monopoly of knowledge, rather the medium or various mediums in which messages are communicated allows a greater understanding of an issue.

Importantly, ecologies reveal the interrelatedness of culture and technology, overriding suspicions that culture and technology remain separate entities.


Fuller, M 2005, ‘Introduction: Media Ecologies’, in Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press: 1-12


5 Mar

Media is communication. It is a carrier enabling forces to interact with various other elements such as society and culture; often resulting in complex relationships. These complexities develop through what media is able to facilitate, and what it communicates. It can, through the transformation of communication, which is now beyond the spoken word, de-stabilise what was once stable.

It is argued that there are various social and cultural significances of technology. To explore this statement, and certain ramifications of these complex relationships between media and culture, technological determinism should be looked at. Murphie and Potts (2003) state, “Technology is the agent of social change”. Various political examples serve to justify their claim. Most recently, the conflicts within the Arab Spring exemplify the complexities between technology and culture, and also that technical capacity is linked to the idea of progress (Murphie & Potts pg 11). The below video summarises the influence of technology, specifically social media in accelerating political uprisings in the Middle East.

Namely, it allowed an active audience to use social media to communicate their views. It also filled the ‘gaps’ where their mainstream media lacked. Academics argue that, “culture, as the context within which people give ‘meanings’ to their actions and experiences…” (Tomilson 1991 pg 7). Media has facilitated the communication of culture.

Therefore the notion that society is shaped by its dominant technologies does resonate; “new technology creates a new potential and possibility for human thought, expression or activity” (Murphie & Potts pg 13). Furthermore the influence of social media on the Arab Spring is an example of this potential.

The New York Times reported extensively on The Arab Spring and the ‘Twitter Revolution’ publishing various articles dealing with central aspects of technological determinism:

 “Borderless digital movement that is set to continually disrupt powerful institutions, be they corporate enterprises or political regimes… The number of Web users in the country [Egypt] increased to 13.6 million in 2008 from 1.5 million in 2004. Through blogs, Twitter and Facebook, the Web has become a haven for a young, educated class yearning to express its worries and anxieties.”

Therefore McLuhan’s argument that “technologies are extensions of human capacities” is obvious when examining the role social media played in the Arab Spring, society was saturated with images and sounds of disenchantment which were able to reach a large audience, turning into “far-reaching cultural effects” (Murphie & Potts pg 13). An active audience could use technology focused on immediacy (#Egypt was the most used tag on twitter in 2010).

This does not mean that twitter directly caused a change in leadership, but it does mean that twitter created an opportunity to express disenchantment of the leadership and vent frustrations about repression. This was the premise of the protests, and Twitter allowed these to be heard. Technology is therefore so influential in many aspects of society that it cannot be seen as neutral. It can though, be seen as a dynamic process and system of communication. Reliant on its technical capacities that allow it to function and subsequently influence culture and accelerate social change.


Murphie & Potts, ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in, Culture and Technology, 2003. London: Palgrave Macmillan: 11-38

Tomilson in: Semati, M. ‘Media, culture and society in Iran: living with globalisation and the Islamic State’, Routledge, New York 2008

Vargas ‘Spring Awakening’ in New York Times, February 2012, sourced from:

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5 Mar

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