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Week 11: an internet of things.

14 May

Through this blog I’ve thrown out some important points, mostly how we see our reality, how it affects us. The media helps us construct our reality through devices such as framing, data transparency, artificial intelligence, and social communication through movements such as swarm offensives.

But what does all this mean for our future?

“A world embedded with so many digital devices that the space between them consists not of dark circuitry but rather the space of the city itself” (Easterling).

We are heading down this path. Consumed and affected by digital devices that the future seems somewhat designated already. One that will circulate around technology.

“Digital technologies often become an essential prosthetic for an idea about form-making” (Easterling).

Technology isn’t just an element of society, but an interrelated element, and extension of human capabilities. A “Social apparatus, an active form of information”.

While I can’t speak for my own future. I’ll give an example:

Mohammed Bouazizi on 17 December 2010 lit himself alight in the middle of a busy street in Tunisia after a random altercation with the police. His mother then came to the police station to complain about his son’s treatment. They wouldn’t listen. His cousin Ali Bouazizi filmed the one-woman protest. This went viral.

This video explains it all:

“Within weeks, he [Mohammed] was to become to emblem of people power revolution that toppled a dictatorship” (West).

It is interesting how one individual, and one moment in time went on to inspire political protest, and change the future of these countries.

“One of the most stunning features of the revolutions… Slogans spray painted on walls in Tunis said ‘Thank-you Facebook’.

Now the question is:

“[The internet is] Integrated into the heart of Tunisia’s and Egypt’s new democracies”

So what role will it play in their future?

It can be seen as a mode of existence and social apparatus. Because it was so inherently important in the past, it will be even more so in the future. It is a substantiated reality. So we can learn a lot from Mohammed. The power of the individual when connected with the Internet of things, can take social organization and change to new levels, it can achieve things that seemed non-existent. Technology was used as an extension of human communication capabilities.

This is a good sign for the future. And thankfully, there will still be a need for people power.

REFERENCES

Keller Easterling (2011) ‘An Internet of Things’, e-flux journal, <http://www.e-flux.com/journal/an-internet-of-things/>

Johnny West (2011) ‘Journeys Through The Arab Spring’, Great Britain, Heron Books, pp. 1-5.

WEEK 10: OPEN SCIENCE? Or OPEN EVERYTHING?

3 May

“Sharing data will change the way medical science works…”

However this argument should not be limited to science. To limit the argument is to limit its capabilities.

‘Ushahidi’, is a social resource used to monitor issues. It is a great example of how data transparency allows us to look at issues differently, to look at them in a way that is coherent and informed. Ushahidi is crowd sourced information site which is data driven. Simply anyone can SMS a piece of information, tweet it, upload it online, and this formulates collaborative data about a selected issue. Check out the following video on what the community expects out of Ushahidi:

What the community wants

“Shared data will mean more and faster progress” this is true in the political realm, not just the science room.

Mapping violence against women: India.

Data regarding violence against women in India is mapped. But what’s the significance?

Well, it indicates where, what kind of abuse, numbers. And this illuminates that there is a serious issue in India relating to fundamental human rights of women. Illumination is key. Although it is not that simple, to see and then to fix. Data is instrumental in identifying issues in a comprehensive and informed way. It is the key to progress. It can change the way we look at violence.

Elections in countries that are still deemed as developing democracies can also be monitored through ‘free and open source software for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping’.

ZAmbia Elections Data Collection

Free and open sourced data sharing is huge in terms of data transparency,  and it highlights the growing collaborative culture online. More importantly, its what data transparency can shed light on that is the real feat. The above examples harness the energy of the human swarm, with many people contributing their data, a larger story is told. A larger ‘protest’ can be made. Platforms like Ushahidi also illuminate the bottom up approach, the site is dynamic, collaborative, it always changes, and the outcome of issues can never be pre-empted. Open science, or open everything, is key in understanding big issues, and understanding is key in resolution.

REFERENCES:

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>

Ushahidi, ‘Monitoring Zambia elections’: http://www.bantuwatch.org/, accessed on: 3/5/12

Ushahidi, ‘Violence against women, India’: http://www.maps4aid.com/, accessed on: 3/5/12

Week 9: ‘The Best of Both Worlds’

30 Apr

“The war on global warming needs to be a war on consumerism.”

However

“No government will declare war on its own citizens.”

These two statements indicate the point of the ‘knife party’. Creating a video in attempt to mobilise the creative energies of the world’s population, and “wake people from their consumerism days”. The animated video is a way to creatively engage with an audience in the hope that it will incite change. It is a clear example of dynamic social organisation. But is this organisation one sided? And is it framing our experience of global warming as ‘evil’?

Consumerism and profit go together. But does profit always require harm to the environment?

To answer this, the nature of capitalism needs to be explored.

“Twenty-first-century (constructive) capitalism is founded on constructive advantage, smart growth, and thick value, which brings rebalance to the great imbalance. Constructive capitalists don’t just outperform, they redefine the boundaries of disruptive outperformance — they “minimize harm and maximize authentic, sustainable, meaningful value”.

Here, the idea that capitalism is bad, and produces environmental harm is reframed and re-defined to illuminate its lighter side. Capitalism, consumerism and environmental sustainability can actually co-exist harmoniously.

‘Going green’ can be said to be an investment in itself. Highlighting that capitalism is engaging with responsible investment and environment protection. Consumerism now has a new sector. This is articulated in the following video.

The question is asked, why is green profitable for us?

“It’s a transformation taking place around the globe. Smart money believes the Internet and technology is small in how much money can be made in clean green technology.” This is deemed a socially responsible investment fund.

This example is a productive form of consumerism; this indicates that profit does not require harm. It specifies the ability for consumerism, constructive capitalism and eco-friendliness to function in an interrelated way. The video also indicates the importance that framing has on an issue, something that is usually perceived negatively (like the knife party video) can have a positive side, and this can be communicated to an audience if it is framed particularly. Additionally, the growing trend of eco-friendly investments indicates how dynamic the issue is and how it is socially recognised as an area of importance and profit. It is a philosophy of change, a new area of investment, and a green one too!

Simply, “go green, live rich”.

I bet your thinking, where can i invest?

Calvert funds.com is a great place to start. Learn how to invest in socially, and environmentally responsible companies… and have the best of both worlds!

So act on mass, swarm together, make money, and do it in an eco-friendly way.

References:

http://www.calvert.com/Bauwens, Michel (2011) ‘Book of the Week: Umair Haque’s New Capitalist Manifesto’, P2P Foundation: Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices <http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/book-of-the-week-umair-haques-new-capitalist-manifesto/2011/02/13

Green Investing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W307xW0PgfQ, 2012.

Knife Party and Rayner, Tim and Robson, Simon (2010) Coalition of the Willing <http://coalitionofthewilling.org.uk/>

Week Eight- what’s wrong with the light?

24 Apr

I want to throw out the question of transparency. Good or bad?

But before you answer I want you to consider the following points:

The Arab Spring, in all its variations, both Egyptian and Tunisian to be remembered when answering, good or bad.

The fact that #Egypt was the most used tag in 2010

There are 317 British MPs using twitter (Kerr 2012).

I want comments from political activists such as Julian Assange to be remembered:

“The rest of the world is doing such a bad job that a group of activists are able to reveal in one year more than the worlds press combined.” (Assange)
Comments such as “We can influence world leaders and industries to start improving the world… leaders must follow public opinion or they fail…” from the World President organisation.

Do you get my point?

All these examples have a common theme, to make things transparent. Made possible through avenues such as twitter, free press, wiki leaks.  Political activism by citizens in Egypt would not of been as easily initiated without twitter. The US government would continue to operate, to an extent, in the dark if not for wiki leaks.

To further illuminate my point,

“The events in Egypt have captured our attention because they represent the story we love to see:

“There is a clear evil-doer. There’s a clear person you want to remove from power. The images are provocative and as engaging as anything you’ve seen in recent history” (Usher 2011).

The uprising is not just a political incident, but a media event. Enabled by jumping on the back of transparency.

While I argue transparency is good. Lessig does not, “I have increasingly come to worry that there is an error at the core of this unquestioned goodness. We are not thinking critically enough about where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to confusion, or to worse…without any sensitivity to the full complexity of the idea of perfect openness–will inspire not reform, but disgust” (Lessig 2009).

He goes on:

To understand something, it requires a large amount of attention. If not, this results in “systematic misunderstanding” (Lessig 2009).

I do get his point. But if understanding something that requires complete attention, then isn’t it easier to comprehend a political statement limited to 160 characters on twitter for example. Isn’t being exposed to data better than being shut off from it?

So my answer remains, yes, transparency is good. It makes us look at ourselves, at the reality in which we live, and then we question it. This is fundamental in the substantiation of democracy.

 

REFERENCES:

Kerr, P and Dunckley, M, ‘Politicians all a-twitter about tweets’ The Daily Telegraph, 3 April 2012, pp32-33

Lessig, Lawrence (2010) ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’<http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0&gt;

Noward, Duffy, Freelon, Hussain, Marai, Mazaid, ‘Opening Closed Regimes, What Was the Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring?’ 2010, sourced from: http://www.mendeley.com/research/opening-closed-regimes-role-social-media-during-arab-spring/ accessed on: 19/04/12:

Usher, Nikki (2011), ‘How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”’, The Nieman Lab <http://www.niemanlab.org/2011/02/how-egypts-uprising-is-helping-redefine-the-idea-of-a-media-event/&gt;
‘President of the World Press Conference’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDUiuk-12Zg&feature=pyv

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.

WEEK 4 EMBODIED

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.

 

References:

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: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain

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.

References:

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