One of the ideas that has stuck with me from the concepts I was introduced to in ARTS1090 ‘Media, Culture and Everyday Life’ two years ago is that media shapes our experiences of the everyday, and I believe it is relevant to the advanced media issues explored this year in ARTS3091. When thinking about experience, I propose that there are layers to our experience.
There is primary experience, which comes directly from sensory stimuli such as what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Then there is temporal experience, which can occur when you remember something, are told a story, or imagine what might happen to you tomorrow - as Andrew Murphie said in todays lecture, for the brief moment you remember something, it is as if it is actually happening. For example, if you think of your favourite food, the pleasure and taste centres in your brain have increased activity- and for that moment, you ‘experience’ tasting that food even if it is not in your mouth at the time. Thirdly, there is what I shall call ‘secondary experience’, in the same way you might have secondary sources. This is experiencing something that you have not/are not/will not experience in your life, and is the most common experience of the media.
For example, when you watch the news, you have the primary experience of watching the television, of the seat underneath you. Then you have the secondary experience of whatever the news might be about (for example, the football game). Using your temporal experience, you are able to combine your sensory input (the images on the screen, the sounds) and your own experiences of being to a football game, or even a field near sports players, and you are able to create the secondary experience. For a moment, there is the layer of experience in which it is as if you are at the game. The more temporal experience (eg you are a football fan who has been to many games at the same stadium) and primary experiential input (eg a HD tv), the stronger the secondary experience will seem. For example, when watching a car race on the weekend, my boyfriends father commented that he could ‘smell the burning rubber’. All I could smell was the chicken in the oven, although I suppose, if his mother hadn’t been such a good cook, perhaps it would have smelt like burning rubber. But the point is, the combination of the visual and auditory input from the television and his previous experiences going to car races, my boyfriend’s father, for a moment, experienced a neurological echo that created this level to his experience.
Media allows a much stronger secondary experience than compared to if your friend told you a story of what happens to them when they got run over by a bus, or some such. They may be able to act it out, and do voices, but this is not as rich and accurate as when you see a camera phone video of the event. Hence media, especially news media, can create a whole other, rich layer of experience that shapes the way we live our lives.
If we look at other uses of the prefix ‘meta’ (as in meta fiction, metamorphosis) we can see, in essence, the compounding of the noun. So metafiction is fiction about fiction, or writing that draws attention to its own constructed nature. Metamorphosis is a change of change. So what of metacommunication? Is it communication about communication? Communication that draws attention to its communicative nature? These are difficult questions to answer.
Gregory Bateson (1951) used the term metacommunication to refer to “all exchanged cues and propositions about (a)codification and (b) relationship between the communicators”. And while the meaning may have changed in the past sixty years, looking at this definition helps me understand that:
Codifcation is how a message is packaged. It is media and medium. Cues, I take, are those which allow us to choose which code system to use. If I see text written in pinyin (the phonetic character system in Chinese) then that is a cue that the characters will represent Chinese words, and not using Chinese characters to phonetically recreate English words, which would normally be written in Latin characters (except in cases of translation and learning, perhaps).
From this, we can then understand that the relationship between communicators is based on this common understanding of the rules of codification. After all, imagine if a pair (of poly linguists, for this example to be possible!) who used character systems at random, using pinyin or hirugana, Arabic or any other phonetic/syllabary set of characters to represent the sounds of any language they chose - utter confusion would result! They would only understand each other easily by using the assumption that pinyin would represent Chinese, hiragana Japanese, Arabic for Arabic, Latin alphabet for Latin based languages and Cyrillic for languages such as Russian - an assumption made around the world. Metacommunication is just as important as communication itself, for a code can only be understood if it can be cracked.
Bateson, G. 1951 Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry, Ruesch and Bateson, p. 209
The term ‘machinic’, first coined by Deleuze and Guattri was used to describe the assemblages between humans and technology. As Peta Malins (2004, p84) described in applying this theory to drug use, “The body conceived of as a machinic assemblage becomes a body that is multiple. Its function or meaning no longer depends on an interior truth or identity, but on the particular assemblages it forms with other bodies” which is to say that machinic, as a description, described relationships and actions which may appear natural, but are not.
Contemporary changes in the technology of media have become a topic of public discourse because it alters the way humans live as humans. At the moment, even as we become used to different technologies and social structures, we are aware that it is not as it was before, that it is ‘unnatural’. Yet machinic life has always been so. I mentioned in last week’s tutorial that language is a technology, and arguably the first media technology. While using sound to express meaning, in the way a kitten might mewl to find its mother, is a trait common to most animals, the way humans use this has become much more complicated, and our palette and structure of the brain have adapted to accommodate the variety of sounds and grammar respectively, much like a bats use of echolation has changed their physiology and the entire way they live their lives. Thus we have become machinic.
Another way of looking at at the media intersection of technology and people is what John Johnston describes in his book The Allure of Machinic Life as “new forms of nascent life that emerge through technical interactions within human-constructed environments—”machinic life”—in the sciences of cybernetics, artificial life, and artificial intelligence.” As humans take on technology through media, we also bring media technologies closer to what we might identify as natural or ‘human’ for example autocorrect and google search suggestions, which seem to work on human logic in order to guess and supplywordsin the same way a friend might be able to finish your sentence for you.
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, “A Thousand Plateaus,” University of Minnesota Press, 1980, p. 409.
John Johnston ‘The Allure of Machinic Life’ http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/allure-machinic-life
Malins, P. (2004) Machinic Assemblages: Deleuze, Guattari and an ethico-aesthetics of drug use, Janus Head, 7:1, pp. 84–104.
Posts before this are from other courses at unsw! From now on posts will be for ARTS3091
‘But what’s happening today – the mass ability to communicate with each other, without having to go through a traditional intermediary – is truly transformative.’
—-Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian newspaper
List of References:
Albanesius, C. (2009) Is Google News Ruining Journalism? PCMag.com, 9 May 2009 < http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346673,00.asp > last accessed June 7
Alexbentonvideos (2012) The Guardian - Three Little Pigs “Open Journalism” Commercial (HD). 29 February 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xIgq13mX3A> last accessed June 7
Boyd, Stowe (2010) ‘The False Question of Attention Economics’, Stowe Boyd, <http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/764818419/the-false-question-of-attention-economics> last accessed June 7
brainpickings (2011)Journalism: (1940). 7 November 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHgwFYbSF6E> last accessed June 7
Clipcafe (2011) Newsboys Selling Papers - Extra Extra Read All About It 1940s. 8 March 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuP3YdLPaVA> last accessed June 7
FarazParsa (2012) TOP 10: J. Jonah Jameson Moments (Spider-Man 1, 2 and 3). 26 February 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgL8h_u2PHw&feature=related > last accessed June 7
futureJproject (2011) Getting Around the New York Times Paywall. 9 August 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPeAFefEFVI> last accessed June 7
futureJproject (2011) Guardian vs. The BBC. 6 September 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZrtIB035cU last accessed June 7
Gregory, L. M. (2011). Hot off the presses: how traditional newspaper journalism can help reinvent the “hot news” misappropriation tort in the Internet age. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 13(3), 577+.< http://go.galegroup.com.wwwproxy0.library.unsw.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA260943190&v=2.1&u=unsw&it=r&p=LT&sw=w> last accessed June 7
Guillaud, H (2010).What Is Implied by Living in a World of Flow. Truthout, 6 January 2010 at < http://archive.truthout.org/what-implied-living-a-world-flow56203 > last accessed June 7
Hamilton, N. (2010) Apocalypse in Print. Huffington Post, 10 October 2010 < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nigel-hamilton/apocalypse-in-print_b_761796.html#> last accessed June 7
Heffernan, Virginia (2010) ‘The Attention Span Myth’, New York Times, <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/magazine/21FOB-medium-t.html> last accessed June 7
Jill Abramson (2010). Sustaining quality journalism. Daedalus. Boston: Spring 2010. Vol. 139, Iss. 2; pg. 39, 7 pgs <http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=0000002024538931&Fmt=3&cl ientId=43168&RQT=309&VName=PQD> last accessed June 7
Karp, S (2006). Those Who Pay More Will Get an Enhanced Experience. Publishing 2.0, 9 June 2006 <http://publishing2.com/2006/06/09/those-who-pay-more-will-get-an-enhanced-experience/ > last accessed June 7
Karp, S. (2006) Platforms Are The New Portals. Publishing 2.0, 10 December 2006 at < http://publishing2.com/2006/12/10/platforms-are-the-new-portals/>
Karp,S (2006). A Lot of User-Generated Content Is Really User-Appropriated Content. Publishing 2.0, 18 November 2006 <http://publishing2.com/2006/11/18/a-lot-of-user-generated-content-is-really-user-appropriated-content/> last accessed June 7
Newseum (2010) The Future of News: Print News. 15 April 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLqQrrFx45o> last accessed June 7
PenguingGroupUSA (2010) The Future of Publishing - created by DK (UK). 9 March 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Weq_sHxghcg> last accessed June 7
Rock, David (2010) ‘New study shows humans are on auto pilot nearly half the time’, Psychology Today, <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/201011/new-study-shows-humans-are-auto-pilot-nearly-half-the-time>
Rusbridger, A (2009.) First Read: The Mutualized Future is Bright. Columbia Journalism Review, 19 October 2009 < http://www.cjr.org/reconstruction/the_mutualized_future_is_brigh.php> last accessed June 7
Rusbridger, A (2010) The splintering of the fourth estate. The Guardian, 19 November 2010
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/19/open-collaborative-future-journalism/print > last accessed June 7
Rusbridger, A (2010). The Hugh Cudlipp lecture: Does journalism exist? The Guardian, 25 January 2010 http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/jan/25/cudlipp-lecture-alan-rusbridger > last accessed June 7
Schmidt, E., & Cohen, J. (2010). The digital disruption: Connectivity and the diffusion of power. Foreign Affairs, 89(6), 75-0_11. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/763492287?accountid=12763 > last accessed June 7
Platforms. Scoop.it is obsessed with social media platforms (it’s the way of the future it would seem they believe).
Obviously, social media platforms are not the only publishing platform in the world. There is paper, and its part in newspapers, brochures, magazines, books, pamphlets, letters, posters, billboards, tickets - and then there is television, radio, Cassettes, CDs, MP3s, VHS, DVDS, Bluray, film. Walk into a theatre, come across a dancing troupe, give the finger to that guy that just cut you off, the way your wife purses her lips when you tell her “it’s only a few drinks”, the text message from that hottie you meet at the bar that night, the call from your wife telling you to come home, the email to your solicitor, the clothes you wear to court, the Jeep you drive home, the iPad you use to change your relationship status to “single”. All of this is publishing, and from faces to body language to speech to transmission of sound and words and pictures and video on hundreds of platforms squared… well it would take all of tumblr to really cover it all.
And yet academic data and scholarly research on this isn’t in the public’s faces. Oh, Scoop.it does a good job of analysing a ‘genre’ of platforms (social media) through blog posts and info graphics.
The point I want to make today is that while social media is, in a way, hyper niching its content due to smarter aggregation (for example, your ex now blocks you on Facebook - she has chosen not to aggregate your content). Yes, it can pull stuff from almost anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you can get almost anything in ‘your feed’.
So if we’re all such fans of this hyper-niche, why do so many of us have google accounts, hotmail accounts, youtube, Facebook, iCloud, a bazillion devices? I’m kind of embarrassed to show this but I’ve gone around and listed every platform of publishing in my house including ones that don’t belong to me. While the books and old stuff stand out, if you look beyond that, there is a LOT of digital media. But I know myself, that while I might have a Bob Marley CD (and vinyl somewhere) I also have copies on my computer, my iPod, my phone. His music was once just sound waves in the air: and now it is multi platformed.
remote image upload
I think my little scenario before of the man cheating on his wife (did you get that?) shows why we also need many platforms. Because ‘niching’ is our way of telling a ‘story’. A story that transcends Facebook or a text message. A story is simply an idea; and ideas can adapt and be told many ways, and become multi platform.
Visual Media is a mixed bunch
Really, just the fact that I had to use this visual -moving mind map proves that when it comes to visual even ‘a little bit’ amounts to much more information richness compared to any other sense which may be used in media. I made this purposely devoid of sound/taste/smell/touch to prove that we can learn a lot from just seeing (well, if you can smell something, I promise it’s you!).
I understand that ‘visual media’ can be misinterpreted. In fact, I kinda did it on purpose, pointing out things like writing are also visual media, not just pictures and videos. While everyone might be focusing on the strengths of visual media:
People might forget that at least the writing is a step up from ideas - a step up from the ice melting before anyone published a picture of it!
In fact I’m beginning to think there’s a sort of hierarchy to visual media. Cue picture time!
An interactive way to learn about information graphics
While I have chosen to present my debate topic this week instead of the blog topic ‘piracy’, I would like to point out this topical court case concerning copyright infringement (piracy) of movies via peer-to-peer (p2p) methods, namely BitTorrent. It is very long (I am currently 112 /219 pages through it). This court case brings up many issues, such as the difficulty of interpreting ‘Electronically transmit’ a substantial part of the film to the public’ (page 86-91, or paragraphs 301- 318), which is broken up into the three issues. The Court’s decisions on what constitutes a public (near the end of the section I recommended) is particularly interesting in regards to online piracy.
Does Internet Classification violate our civil rights?
In 2009, there was a Bill that they tried to pass through the Australian legal system. One of its main ideas was the idea to classify websites in the same way video games are, with any material about ‘MA 15+’ being ‘RC’ or Refused Classification. It was proposed that this law would be enforced by creating a ‘blacklist’ of websites that had been refused classification. This blacklist was then to be incorporated into internet security softwares that ISP providers such as iiNet, Telstra and Optus would be obligated to offer to customers. This blacklist would be then split up into two parts - one would be ‘less offensive’ things such as violent materials, which individuals may elect to pass through their software filtering; other material (for example, child pornography) would be blocked at an ISP level.
In the abstract, the idea seemed a bit reasonable, in that it claimed to protect from child pornography and terrorism. But the Australian public went into uproar for a very good reason: the classification system had been proved to violate our civil rights. One poor dentist in Queensland found that his website had -without any due reason or process - been put on the blacklist, effectively risking his business. This is one example. People were also very unhappy with the fact that video-game ratings - which are flawed in that there is no rating about MA-15+ (Even though almost all other media such as movies have an R 18+ rating) - were not suitable for classifying websites. Key members in the Australian government were persuaded. The Bill did not pas, and it is very unlikely it would be possible to pass it now.
A key issue with internet classification is that it has the potential to violate our civil rights.
An aside: Civil, or ‘political’ rights differ from civil liberties. Civil rights, on one hand come from the “basic right to be free from unequal treatment based on certain protected characteristics (race, gender, disability, etc.), while “civil liberties” are more broad-based rights and freedoms that are guaranteed at the federal level by the Constitution and other federal law.”
Many of our civil rights are synonymous with our human rights - that is to say, our local laws reflect international ones. For example, article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights grants freedom of expression; so does the article 19 on the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It must be remembered that Australia, unlike America, does not have a ‘Bill of Rights’. But we are still protected by international laws and much of our legislation accounts for our civil rights.In Australia, the Freedom of Information Act 1982 is the local legal provision for these rights. Part III:II ‘Right of Access’ is perhaps the most relevant part to the problems surrounding internet classification.
Having rights does not simply mean we can call them into action when they are threatened. The government, by providing rights, is obligated to ensure they are enforced, which created concrete government duties. It has traditionally been the view that out of rights, any civil or political rights required that the government not take action against citizens, a sort of ‘let them be’ policy. Now, this is drawn into question, and the suggestion that both positive and negative action be taken - that as well as not preventing our rights, the governments needs to provide pathways to encourage freedom of information.
And so, Internet classification violates our civil rights both by taking negative action, putting up blockades that are difficult to decide, to implement and inconsistent with the material that it seeks to classify. You may claim that it’s for the good of the country, but if there is even one dentist who is having his website blocked while child pornography still runs rampant (for internet classification does not stop p2p file transfers, which is where the real crimes are being committed) - then that is a violation of rights, and is unacceptable. You cannot claim to be protecting all when not all are getting what it due to them by law.
(For the purposes of making a point, this blog post will include notifications of any time my mind/attention wanders)
People like to claim that the internet allows us to have more information than ever before. It sounds shocking, and when you think about those mind-boggling numbers of data, be it pages, pictures or even down to the binary code. It makes sense, you think, ‘Of course there is more information on the internet than there could be anywhere else.’
(Copies tumblr post into word, checks word limit. Eats three chicks, licks fingers, goes washes them before typing again.)
I disagree. Go onto the street and there is so much ‘data’ there. (Stops typing, spend 7 minutes thinking about the street. Pokes desk, thinking about atoms, reads the last page of one of the readings again) There are sounds, close by, your own breathing, talking, cars, birds, something in the next street, the unheard roar or a jumbo jet far off. Then there’s touch, and colour, and can you taste your lunch or the car fumes or someone’s freesias? Every tiny atom in the universe is, in a way, a piece of data, and every atom on that street is public to you. There difference is you don’t pay much attention to it all.
The same is happening to the internet, except perhaps we’re more aware of it happening. It’s not that there’s more information, or that we even have shorter attention spans (something that’s been under debate) - but it’s the balance of these that IS important. Things on the Internet strive for our attention. That’s where infotention comes in, has to google, with three different choices of keywords, what the word for made up words is) a neoglism made from the words ‘information’ and ‘attention’ and is used to describe our information-handling tools, or how we discipline our minds to pay attention to some things and not others.
Dr David Rock (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/201011/new-study-shows-humans-are-autopilot-nearly-half-the-time) tells us that 46.9% of the time we are not ‘paying attention’ to anything, that we spend a lot of the time day dreaming. Jump online, and sticking to one task – for example, one website becomes… well, difficult. (Spends the next 15 minutes checking what’s been written, reorders, checks course outline, has to open the assessment part in a new tab and gets confused)
But we have tools. First, it was bookmarks, now most browsers come with a ‘reader’ function. Whatever the tool, they are usually aggregators of information. It’s a bit like being that guy that only takes the cross-word section of the newspaper with him on the train – instead of struggling with all the rest, that he doesn’t want to pay attention to and possibly poking somebody in the eye, he selects only what he can pay attention to.
As Stowe Boyd points out, (http://www.stoweboyd.com/post/764818419/the-false-question-of-attention-economics) this worry about us having too much information or conversely, not enough attention span, has been around for a very long time… and really, it’s a bit of a melodrama that is not actually evident in the real world. No matter how much ‘more’ information we experience, we don’t turn into mushy puddles of confusion. Instead, we create tools to shape our attention. If those tools are not equal to the task, we can simply create new ones.
Assemblage applied to tumblr