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Author Archives: Luis Charalambous

The Generosity of New Media—Science, Technology and Innovation

 How Can Scientific Findings Be Effectively Communicated, Transfered For Public Consumption? Who or What Should Fill The Void Between Scientist/Researcher & Journalist/Media? Does New-Media Solve The Problem?

Science, as ecology of practice, field of employment, publishing industry, and catalyst for advancement, is being forced to undergo a reverse reaction in which the products – media, culture and social changes – become the reactants. A contemporary digitally-driven society hypothesises that Science must transform to meet the demands of rapid information dissemination, adaptation of new-media technologies, and transparency of research findings for it to advance. Science must become “Open-Science”, where the public can witness the research process (Pisani 2011). Part of this transition is the aim to develop more effective ways for researchers to communicate findings beyond the realm of experts, and more effectively than the media does.

But does this go against the “nature” of science? Can it, and does it effectively transform to meet demands of speed, new-media usage, and transparency? Should we be experimenting, or leaving it up to natural adaptation? Who or what is needed to fill the communication gap between scientific experts and the general public? Much like the media has been made to break away from traditional print practices, can science to do the same?

The ‘Nature’ of Science: Can The Traditional Be Transformed?

As Thomas Lin writes in the 2012 NY Times article ‘Cracking Open The Scientific Process’:

“The [scientific research] system is hidebound, expensive and elitist..Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only “if you’re stuck with 17th-century technology”. (Lin 2012)

Although it may seem ironic that Science, the catalyst for advancement, is being left behind in the digital age, an examination of traditional practices shows that while some new-media technology has been adapted, the dissemination of scientific knowledge remains a long and measured process tied strongly to both print.

“The very fact that we call a scientific-knowledge unit a “paper” is a powerful illustration of how deeply the idea of knowledge is tied to the medium” (Wilbanks 2012)

The transferring of scientific knowledge beyond the realm of experts in the field for general public consumption is prolonged, particularly when it “does not clearly lend itself to technology development” (Seed 2010), because of print nostalgia.  As John Wilbanks explains in his online article ‘On Science Publishing’, the transferring of scientific knowledge became an “economic transaction”, as print was the easiest and fastest way to distribute knowledge (of course, that is not the case today).

As Lin (2012) explains, scientific research was and in majority still is done in private, then submitted to science and medical journals to be reviewed by peers, and then published. But implementation of new-media has allowed for some changes that shift away from traditional print constraints. Peer review practices occur through online digital networks, and research papers and data documentation have now moved into digital formats, such as accessible PDF files, which remove the need for print publishing costs and lessening publication time. However, copyright infringement issues have haltered an open-access dream.

Libraries are cancelling subscriptions to physical scientific journals, and the transition to digital libraries has made access more difficult, with knowledge hidden behind a username and password (Wilbanks 2012). While search engine tools such as Google Scholar can source online material, limited amounts are accessible for free.

Media As A Barrier To Scientific Knowledge

Not only is the establishment of scientific knowledge transfer as an economic transaction haltering progress in the digital age, but communication from researcher to the general public gives rise to distortion of information.

Scientists focus on the impact their research has within their field, and aim their research for those with familiarity, rather than for a widespread audience. For the general public, news of scientific findings or breakthroughs are communicated via the media, primarily through newspapers, broadcast bulletins and online news websites. Expert knowledge is added through quotations or opinion pieces to strengthen analysis.

But news organisations will not always publish the same information about a piece of research, particularly when the findings go against their pre-conditioned attitudes towards topics, such as Climate Change. It is well known that the News Ltd owned The Australian has a preference for anti-climate change articles. Hence, information is used to set a different agenda. Even data journalism can be subject to bias.

Although Science Journalists can aid in making scientific information and expert terms understandable for those without expertise, the communication process is still a complex issue.

‘Multiplatform, Open Science’

As Wilbanks (2012) explains:

“Those who pay for science—especially the taxpayers—are starting to understand that science in a digital age requires thinking not of research as a finite process that ends with a “paper” but as a perpetual process that begins with thousands of bits of information, some of which might be in narrative form, others in data sets, still others embedded into research tools and engineered materials, all scattered across the network and linked into a common infrastructure framework”. (Wilbanks 2012):

What’s next for Science in the digital age to make it “Open-Science” may be broad, but here is a list of potential practices have been, and if not, should be developed:

  • Open access archives and science journals such as arXiv and the Public Library of Science (PLoS) (Lin 2012)
  • A professional social networking or P2P website such as ResearchGate. It functions like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in which scientists can answer one another’s questions, share papers and find collaborators.
  • Multimedia/Interactive research papers in which, like a newspaper iPad application or eBook, the public can engage with various media such as videos, image galleries, hyperlinks and different navigation.
  • Establish an comparison website where the public, journalists, media and related organisations can view the research methodology, clear outlines, find out who is conducting the research so that authority is solidified, and engage in multimedia content.
  • Media training for researchers to become multiplatform science journalists who write not only for those within the field, but can translate findings, key terminology and scientific processes to the public.

 

References

Kelly, K. 2010, ‘Evolving the Scientific Method: Technology is changing the way we conduct science’, The Scientist <http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/57831/>

Lin, T. 2012, ‘Cracking Open The Scientific Process’, New York Times, 16 January, <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/17/science/open-science-challenges-journal-tradition-with-web-collaboration.html?pagewanted=all>

Pisani, E. 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>

Sample, I 2010, ‘Craig Venter Creates Synthetic Life Form’, The Guardian May 2, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/20/craig-venter-synthetic-life-form>

Schmidt, G. 2011, ‘From Blog to Science’, RealClimate <http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/from-blog-to-science/>

Seed 2011, ‘On Science Transfer’, Seed <http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/on_science_transfer>

Wilbanks, J. 2011,  ‘On Science Publishing’, Seed, <http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_science_publishing>

Woelfle, M. Olliaro, P. Todd, M.  2011, ‘Open Science Is A Research Accelerator’ Nature Chemistry, <http://www.nature.com/nchem/journal/v3/n10/full/nchem.1149.html>

 

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Social Organisation & Micropolitics

How effective are collaborative movements, social organisation and micropolitical processes in this environment? Can they realistically succeed?

As Susan Cain (2012) argues, “most humans have two contradictory impulses: we love and need one another, yet we crave privacy and autonomy”. This paradox resonates with a contemporary society continuously experiencing a new-media revolution. On one hand, the sharing of information, and open-interactivity are championed as ways to move forward. Yet, on the other hand,  protection of privacy, and independence through media use are still essential. So what does this mean for collaborative movements in media and society?

Collaboration vs Independence – Is one better than the other? Can they co-exist?

As Cain (2012) explores in her New York Times article ‘The Rise of The New Groupthink’, team work, brainstorming, think tanks, group meetings – these are the key fundamentals needed in play towards success in organisations and places of education on a global scale. “Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all” Cain (2012) explains, and seating arrangements, activities, and assessment guidelines  in schools and universities require collaborative work and discussion.

However, “research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption…introverts are comfortable working alone…solitude is a catalyst to innovation” (Cain, 2012). As Romantic William Wordsworth wrote of Sir Isaac Newton, “the statue stood of Newton…a mind for ever voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone” (Wordsworth 1850, lines 59-63, The Prelude, Book III) Yet, as 17th century English poet John Donne famously wrote, “no man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;” (Donne  1624, Meditation XVII)

Wordsworth makes the point that Newton’s solitude is what allowed him to be great, to succeed, to discover gravity.What we have here is a conflict between collaboration and independence. Must we focus entirely on collaborative efforts because, from a technological determinist view, it is what the affordances of new-media technology want us to do? Or, from a cultural imperialistic stance, because it is what society has deemed essential through use of new-media? What does this mean for the individual achiever?

Collaboration or Independence? Which is more effective?
(Images by Andy Rementer. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company)

Perhaps, collaboration and independence co-exist effectively.

Collaboration and Autonomy In Journalistic Practice

Journalists strive to be autonomous while working within the confines of their organisational and editorial goals. Not only are they individual actualisers of the media’s ‘Fourth Estate’ role, but they must function as the ‘Fourth Estate’ as part of and in the context of an editorial team. Furthermore, they must function in accordance with organisational hierarchy.

Interestingly, journalists are now encouraged to be Multiplatform Journalists, who are able to photograph, film, interview, write for print, online or broadcast, create online and broadcast content, and establish a strong and diverse presence in society.What this shows is that despite the premise that new-media encourages collaboration, the individual is required to know how to complete tasks that would usually be undertaken by a team of journalists and editorial staff.  On the other hand, multiplatform capabilities allow for more dynamic projects to come to fruition within and through news organisations, such as open journalism and dynamic coverage of events.

One emerging Journalism collaborative movement is “#media2012”, in which a “people-powered” newswire is aiming to cover the Olympic games and brings stories to fruition that may not always make the headlines. One of the organisation heads Prof. Andy Miah, who worked as a citizen journalist at the Sydney 2000 games, was interviewed for Journalism.co.uk, He said:

“This is the kind of language we use – less editors, more curators. There’s no doubt this will be the first Twitter Olympics for a Summer Games, but our hashtag #media2012 aims to filter content for people to watch, so they can get a community-led, focused insight into the games”  – Professor Andy Miah (McAthy, 2012)

By nature, the project aims to not only organise collaboration between independent and citizen journalists, invites collaboration between the social organisation AND mainstream media organisations.

“”It’s important to stress that I believe citizen journalism is not wholly oppositional to professional journalism. Many professional journalists will come to London for the games without any accreditation and we want to help them find stories and learn from them.”  – Professor Andy Miah (McAthy, 2012)

The practice of journalism is moving towards more collaborative, “open” practices, such as #Media2012, and The Guardian’s open-journalism initiative, which has been addressed in previous posts, and it is clear that both collaboration and individual autonomy are adapting and modifying as the journalism and media industry continues to change.

Micropolitics

Global collaborative projects are heavily encouraged in a contemporary society that has embraced new-media technologies and social networking practices. Yet, while collaborative efforts are encouraging, can they work effectively? Can they survive in a modern mediascape?

One collaborative movement that can rapid attention as the Kony 2012 campaign. While  Kony 2012  was successful in creating awareness in of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the worldwide ‘Cover The Night’ initiative on April 20 failed to meet the Invisible Children organisation’s expectations due to several important factors:

  • a lack of control of media and press reporting
  • a lack of network maintanence, and
  • primarily, the rise of an organisational and campaign ‘face’.

We can draw slight comparisons with Wikileaks to identify how “non-leaderless” organisations are challenged by both media interpretation and social interpretation. Although each respective collaborative project are extremely different in terms of media use, control, platforms, and purpose, both projects have been impacted negatively as the result of having a clear “face” or “leader” – Jason Russell and Julian Assange. Negative reporting on Assange reflects negatively on Wikileaks. Similarly, negative reporting on Russell damaged the ‘Cover The Night Campaign’ on April 20. Furthermore, the instantaneous nature of the internet along with lack of media penetration by Invisible children meant that the movement dramatically lost momentum.

On the other hand, leaderless movements such as the Coatlition of The Willing climate change project may have a chance of surviving:

The Coalition of The Willing’s envisioned network consists of the following:

  • Green knowledge trust – green wikipedia – online repository of practical knowledge – low carbon societies – information central
  • Open innovation centre – organisations post problems and ask for solutions – anyone can answer.
  • Catalyst system – social networking site – designed to put you in touch with real-world projects on different scales – link up with people & not-for-profit organisations.

While the goals seem clear, the challenges it faces is to maintain this network and continuously build on it’s “swarm politics” basis by carefully controlling it’s spread through multimedia, harnessing technology, and by drawing away from a clear leader.

References

Cain, S. 2012, ‘The Rise of the New Groupthink’, The New York Times, January 13, <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/15/opinion/sunday/the-rise-of-the-new-groupthink.html>

Knife Party and Rayner, T. & Robson, S. 2010,  Coalition of the Willing <http://coalitionofthewilling.org.uk/>

Manning, E, 2009, ‘From Biopolitics to the Biogram, or How Leni Riefenstahl Moves through Fascism’ in Relationscapes, pp. 137-139

Rushkoff, D. 2011, ‘The Evolution Will Be Socialized’, Shareable: Science and Tech <http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-evolution-will-be-socialized>

Terranova,T. 2004,  ‘From Organisms to Multitudes’ In Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age London: Pluto: 101-106

McAthy, R. 2012, ‘#media2012: How a ‘people-powered’ newswire is finding Olympic stories beyond the headlines’, Journalism.co.uk, last accessed 28 April 2012, <http://www.journalism.co.uk/news-features/media2012-olympics-citizen-journalism-newswire/s5/a548988/>

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Week 9 Tutorial 8

 

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Framing vs. Transversality

Stepping Outside The Frame & Thinking Transversally – Are Industries & Professions such as the Music Industry and Journalism ‘Dying’ in the Digital Age? How has their Transformation kept them very much ‘Alive’?

The field of “new media studies” has a shifting nature, whereby continuous changes and transformations in the the development, appropriation and actual use of new media technologies, along with the way they impact industries, means that producer and consumer practices continue to change (Murphie, 2006).

As such, a defining feature of the “field” is transversality. Essentially,

“…a transversal is a line that cuts across other lines, perhaps across entire fields – bringing the fields together in a new way, recreating fields as something else”. (Murphie, 2006)

The media issue this post will explore is how we step outside the frame and think transversally.

Framing vs. Agenda Setting

When media scholars talk about the process of ‘Framing‘, what they are referring to is how the media ‘frames’ both what and how we think, feel and do. The media creates limitations and foundations through which we “we come to think what’s true, what’s useful information, what we know, [what we] first perceive, feel, sense [in] the world – and how all these might come together” (Murphie, 2012). In terms of news media and journalism, framing defines how news media coverage shape mass opinion (Wikimedia, 2012).

So how does differ from what’s known as agenda setting,  in which the media doesn’t tell us what to think, but tells us what to think about? Are they different processes, or are they the same?

Scheufele & Tewksbury (2007) argue that framing and agenda setting differ in terms of accessbility and applicability effects. Framing evokes the notion that how an issue is characterised in news reports influences how it is understood (applicability effects) as opposed to just making the issues prominent and salient (accessibility effects) (Scheufele & Tewksbury 2007; Wikimedia 2012).

On the other hand, McCombs (1992) argues that “the news not only tells us what to think about; it also tells us how to think about it”. As such, framing is seen as “second-level agenda setting”, in which “first-level agenda setting determines issue importance, while second level agenda setting draws on repeated discussion of specific issue attributes” (McCombs 1997; 2004; Wikimedia, 2012).

Framing vs. (or, “and”) Transversality

“If framing is the attempt to build a zoo, transversality is when the animals are set free …” (Murphie, 2012).

Essentially,transversality is “what moves/connects dynamically across/through frames” (et al. 2012). For example, when events occur, the process of framing can only partially capture what takes place. Events themselves are more dynamic, not static, unpredictable, and thus reflect the creation of transversals.

The way in which media and industries continue to transform, and altering “typical” practices  can be examined through framing and transversality. Two particular areas that will be briefly examined are the music industry and journalism.

The Music Industry

The music industry, since the advent of digital technology and the internet, two key issues have emerged (Murphie, 2012):

  1. “capitalist exploiters/creative supporters” VS.  “pirates/sharers in a new world of collaboration”
  2. “business models that work” VS “no one makes money”, with both sides claiming to be better for “creativity” etc

iTunes has changed not only how people can legally purchase music - in terms of digital vs physical copies - but has altered the whole music production process, in which iTunes itself receives 20-30% of the income from sales through only serving as a platform to sell music.
Artists now get 61% of the sales income, but they are still being set back by more expenses they look after.

Is iTunes a platform that can counter musical piracy? Or should musical piracy and file-sharing be capitalised upon? Here are two contrasting views on musical piracy by successful musicians Jack Black and Dave Grohl:

“I would rather have a venue filled with people singing every word to every one of our songs than making sure that everyone of them bought the record to do so” – (Dave Grohl 2012).

News Journalism

News organisations and the media exemplify multiple frameworks in the way in which news is conveyed. Firstly, news is framed though the presentation and/or layout of newspapers, websites, digital platforms or broadcast packages.

News websites such as The Daily Telegraph website frame what and how to think about news stories through the way they are positioned and placed on the webpage layout.

The following Charlie Brooker video presents a satirical representation of how broadcast news reports follow the same production presentation, almost like a musical “refrain” if you will, that is repeated every time because it has become standardised practice:

But journalism and news is transformed when it is experienced transversally, for example, when people interact with the news organisations via their Twitter or Facebook platforms for instance, and decide what they choose to read. Furthermore, Twitter trends and the abundance of info will also influence what is consumed.

Another avenue we can explore are issues such as Traditional Journalism vs. Non-Traditional Journalism. Professional journalists are concerned about getting the accurate facts, getting valid sources of information, and providing a balance article. In comparison, non-professionals aren’t the same. There is the debate as to whether digital journalism is “killing” traditional journalism, or rather creating more opportunities for journalism.

You can say that “specialty” journalism styles are being lost to the online, digital world, such as thorough, in-depth investigative journalism. But, on the other hand, you could say that the transformation in the way in which news is accessed (such as through various platforms) and the increase in multiplatform journalism means that new specialties can develop.

References

McCombs, M. 1992 “Explorers and Surveyors: Expanding strategies for agenda-setting research”. Journalism Quarterly 69 (4): 813–824.

 McCombs, M. E.; Shaw, D. L., Weaver, D. H. (1997). Communication and democracy: Exploring the intellectual frontiers in agenda-setting theory. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

 McCombs, M (2004). Setting the Agenda: The mass media and public opinion. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Inc. ISBN 9780745623139.

Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <http://nine.fibreculturejournal.org/>

Murphie, A. 2012 ‘Lecture Seven/Eight Slides – Framing and Transversality’, for the ARTS3091 Advanced Media Issues course as part of the University of NSW B Media (Communications & Journalism) degree.

Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. 2007. Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 9-20

Wikimedia 2012, ‘Framing (Social Sciences’, Wikipedia, last modified 10 April 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(social_sciences)>

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Week 7 Tutorial 6

 

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Data and Media – An Unrequited Love?

What Types Of Journalism Have Emerged From The Continuous Publishing Of Increasing Data? How Do These Digital Assemblages Function?

Much like news develops and is disseminated continuously on a 24-hour cycle through multiplatform journalism, data is continuously produced, collected, and disseminated via invisible flows made visible by various platforms such as traditional graphs or dynamic visualisations. In a contemporary media scape where web platforms such as Twitter and media forms such as iPhones and ‘Smart Phones’ afford producers and consumers with instantaneous sharing of information, to say that the relationship between data and media is “an unrequited love” is a misconception.

Data and media have always had close-knit relationship. In fact, news media is data. While modern tools such as Twitter have heavily exemplified how flows of data are integral to contemporary journalism, data gathering and publishing has always been an intergral to the practice. The journalist conducts interviews and researches through different pools of data in order to provide a balanced, truthful and factual report. Feature writing involves a more ethnographical experience as the journalist obtains more experiential data through ethnographic research. Investigative journalism combines both ethnographic and statisitcal data research in which journalists sift through lots of data to expose misconduct.

Yet, what we are seeing in the contemporary mediascape is that new-media platforms are accentuating this relationship and making it more transparent and prominent in different ways because data availability has risen exponentially since the beginning of the digital age .

Data Journalism

According to Tim Berner-Lee, the founder of the internet, analysing data is the future of journalism:

“Journalists need to be data-savvy… [it’s] going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country” (Arthur, 2010).

Data-driven Journalism is based on analysing and filtering large sets of data in order to find a story. It deals with freely available, open data and is analysed using open source tools. The primary goal is to transform the data into journalistic news stories (Lorenz 2010; Wikimedia 2012).

The process of data-driven journalism involves finding data, filtering through it, representing it through visualisations, and then using the data to make a news story (Lorenz 2010, Wikimedia 2012)

Coincidently, the process of data-driven journalism can be described through an ‘inverted pyramid’ understanding, similar to how the structure of a news report is described as being an inverted pyramid structure. Bradshaw’s (2011) model is summarised as follows:

  • Find: Searching for data on the web
  • Clean: Process to filter and transform data, preparation for visualization
  • Visualize: Displaying the pattern, either as a static or animated visual
  • Publish: Integrating the visuals, attaching data to stories
  • Distribute: Enabling access on a variety of devices, such as the web, tablets and mobile
  • Measure: Tracking usage of data stories over time and across the spectrum of uses (Wikimedia, 2012)

Simon Rogers of The Guardian provides a 10-point guide to data-journalism in the blog ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?‘:

  1. Data is “Trendy, but not new”: essentially, data has always been published, but now it can be published in various digital and online platforms.
  2. Open-data means Open-data journalism: data is available for anyone to take and make a story out of. There is a diversity of sources.
  3. Curation: Data is sometimes curated as journalists have to sift through large amounts of data, which is a lengthy process.
  4. Bigger Datasets, Smaller Things: large amounts of data available about small things.
  5.  Data journalism is 80% perspiration, 10% great idea, 10% output
  6.  Long and Short-Form: new short-form data journalism emerging where only the key points are extrapolated from research and readers are guided by it while it is still in the news.
  7. Anyone Can Do It: there is a wide range of data collecting and publishing tools available across the internet for people to search and present findings of research.
  8. Looks Can Be Everything: the way data is visualised and presented is important. Clarity and good design makes data more appealing and easy to understand
  9. You Don’t Have To Be A Programmer: Think about data like a journalist, not an analyst.
  10. It’s All About The Story/Stories: Data-journalism is not about graphics and visualisations, but the storytelling, and how the story is told. (Rogers 2011)
What enhances data journalism is when the data presented is interactive – allowing audiences to interact and immerse themselves in the story that the data conveys.

Open Journalism

In my previous posts I’ve spoken about the premise of open journalism, and The Guardian’s Open Journalism initiative. Essential to the concept of open journalism is the of encouraging an active audience who get out there and obtain primary data and raw footage from events in order to convey the most accurate, factual and rich news reports, and to encourage public debate.

The practice of journalism allows journalists the opportunity to decrease their data searching and sifting workload by letting the public get involved. Furthermore, with the advent of Twitter and use of multimedia, various perspectives on events can be conveyed, which can be then used to find out what is spin and what is truth.

Not only does data increase, but the avenues from which we obtain data expand. This actants in this assemblage are the news organisations, the journalists, the public, and the various media used in order to collect, analyse, distribute, and visualise data (just to highlight a few). This ecology reflects both notions of technological determinism and cultural imperialism, as technology affords the people the ability to convey information and data in a certain way, and at the same time, it is the way in which we use these media that determines how data is produced and consumed.

References

Arthur, C 2010, ‘Analsying data is the future for journalists, says Tim Berners-Lee’, The Guardian, 22 November, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/22/data-analysis-tim-berners-lee>

Bradshaw, P 2011, ‘The Inverted Pyramid of Data Journalism’, Online Journalism Blog, posted 11 July,  <http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2011/07/07/the-inverted-pyramid-of-data-journalism/>

Charalambous, L. 2011, ‘Assembling Publishing Publics: What is the Relationship Between Different Publishing Tools & Techniques & The Social In “Publishing Assemblages”?’, Transitioning Publics & Publishing – ARTS2090, March 20, <http://publishingintransition.wordpress.com/tag/actor-network-theory/>

The Guardian 2012, ‘Guardian Open Journalism – Three Little Pigs Advert’, Youtube, published 29 Feb 2012, <http://youtu.be/vDGrfhJH1P4>

Hughes, N. 2011, ‘Data Journalism: The Story So Far’, Data Mining UK, Blog, May 3, <https://datamineruk.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/data-journalism-the-story-so-far/>

Rogers, S. 2011,  ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?’, The Guardian, Datablog, July 28, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/28/data-journalism>

Quilty-Harper, C. 2010, ’10 ways data is changing how we live’, The Telegraph, August 25, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7963311/10-ways-data-is-changing-how-we-live.html>

Wikimedia 2012, ‘Data-Driven Journalism’,Wikipedia, last updated 29 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_driven_journalism#Inverted_pyramid_of_data_journalism>

 

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Reality—actual, potential and virtual

What is reality now? What produces it? What is life? What is living? How do you know? Does reality change? Getting to grips with the complexity of reality in order to make sense of media, cultural and social change

 Are media creating new “virtual worlds”, or was the world already virtual, or both? (ARTS3091 Course Outline Week 5, 2012)

What is authentic, true reality? Is the existential, physical, spatial reality that we humans experience the only true, actual reality? Or, are the virtual, augmented realities that are created through the mediation of data and flows authentic? How do we know what is real?

In the digital age, where globalisation, information networks, instantaneous and invisible flows data, and new media forms interrelate with social and cultural changes, preconceived notions of what is authentic and inauthentic, what is real and unreal, can be challenged.

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality

Virtual reality can be defined as “computer-simulated environments that can simulate physical presence in places in the real world, as well as in imaginary worlds” (Wikimedia, 2012). The simulated environment can be modelled on the existential world so that a life-like experience is created when one immerses themselves in  virtual realities, such as in pilot and driving simulation systems, or in virtual realities depicted in the following video from IDEO Labs:

The human participant immersed in the virtual world in this video shook when he found himself on the ledge of a building, because what he could see, what he could experience, felt real. In actuality, is it real, or is inauthentic? If a virtual simulations/realities/worlds, whether geographic, a pilot simulation, driving simulation or artistic simulation, can draw out from within you real emotions, movements, and engage you physical and cognitive capacities, then there is strong level of authenticity we can attach to these realities.

In contrast to a simulated digital world another alternate reality we can experience beyond our existential one is ‘augmented reality’.

Erick Schonfeld on Techcrunch.com explains that, “if virtual reality is a complete immersion in a digital world, augmented reality (AR) is more a digital overlay onto the real world.  It enhances the real world with digital data, and therefore it is much more interesting than a completely fabricated environment”. (Schonfeld, 2010)

Take for instance the following videos which depict how an augmented reality cinema app for the iPhone works through the digital overlay onto the existential, real world, and how Lego sets are created right in front of you:

Although the technology is different to that of ‘virtual reality’, the participants in each video had enhanced experiences, be it the movie clips on location or the lego set “brought to life”. As opposed to a simulation or copy, a digital overlay occurs. But does this make it any less realistic than virtual reality?

If in both instances we can process the different data and immerse ourselves in enhanced experiences, then we can say that reality has been extended. Drawing upon Week 4’s topic of the extended mind, if we extend our knowledge onto physical objects such as books, diaries, computers, and embed our knowledge in programs like a GPS navigation system, then can it not be argued that virtual or augmented realities are an extension of actual, existential reality?

I would argue that augmented reality would be a greater “extension of the mind” and extension upon actual reality than virtual because of the overlay of data on the physical environment, which correlates with embeding knowledge into technology.

Virtual realities can generate reactions, both emotional and physical, that are authentic. Augmented realities can do the same. The only difference in both is the bodily sense they target, be it sight, touch, sound, taste or smell.

These realities have the potential to be real, but whether they already exist naturally amongst physical, existential reality needs to be addressed before we can determine whether they are real.

References

Anon. (n.d.) ‘Virtual Reality’, Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality> (one of the  better entries)

Grayson, Chris (2009) ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo <http://gigantico.squarespace.com/336554365346/2009/6/23/augmented-reality-overview.html>

‘IDEO Labs – Amazing 3D Immersion Technology”, YouTube.com, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZ7QJwcdJmM>

Schonfeld, E (2010), ‘Augmented Reality Vs. Virtual Reality: Which One Is More Real?’, techcrunch.com, <http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/06/augmented-reality-vs-virtual-reality/>

 

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“Global Mnemotechnics”—Globalising Memory, Thinking and Action

How do perception, sensation, thinking and feelings relate? What is consciousness? What is attention?

In an interview with philosopher Alva Noe in 2008,  an explanation between the traditional understanding of how we think and perceive was contrasted against a modern, contemporary and new understanding. He stated:

“The traditional thought is that we perceive in order to act; when we act, we do it to perceive…[In contrast] the ability to move is at the very core of what it means to be a conscious perceiving agent…” (Noe, 2008)

What Noe was exploring was they way in which we understand the relationship between perception and sensation, thinking and feeling. The question this poses is: “Does thinking happen solely in the brain, or is the process of thinking something that extends beyond the muscle, beyond the organ in our head?”.

The notion of the ‘Extended Mind’, in which Clark and Chalmers identify an interrelating system between the body, mind and environment as opposed to notions of these entities being separate, is one way to approach  questions of how humans think and perceive. Furthermore, we need to “go out of our heads and look at the way we are embodied and also bound to and embedded in the world around us” (Noe, 2010).

Embodiment & Experience

Folders and university writing books with countless written notes and mind maps created during my last two years of study, along with my HSC studies, are shelved and organised around my room, either placed nicely in my shelves and bookcase, or stacked in a large plastic container and yet to be put away properly after having moved home weeks prior to the start of 2012.

Within these physical archives lay countless personal knowledge –  wriiten essays, notes and mindmaps dedicated to studies of journalism/media practice and theory, canonical English literature, the poetry of the 18th & 19th century English Romantics, and many more areas of study.

In line with the ‘extended mind’ theory, these archives of notes and essays are an extension of my mind; my extended memory. As Steigler (n. d) explains: ”

“To write a manuscript is to organise thought by consigning it outside in the form of traces, that is, symbols, whereby thought can reflect on itself, actually constituting itself, making itself repeatable and transmissible: it becomes knowledge”.

Unfortunately, while I retain some knowledge of the aforementioned topics, it is ambitious to say that my internal memory contains all that information within it to this day. The common motif of a student in contemporary society – a society where the flow of information is rapid and almost instantaenous due to new media technology, and thus drawing our attention from one thing to another – is that “I remember studying/reading that, but I’ve forgotten what I know”.

As such, my mind, has been extended onto those written notes and essays, those physical forms, and they are, in reality, my knowledge externalised beyond the boundaries of the mind. My understanding of how I think and perceive is no longer that of tradtitional, which separates the mind, body and environment, but an understandig that recognises how these work together as a system.

Stiegler (n. d) writes that “Human memory is originarily exteriorized, and that means that it is technical from the start”, giving rise to Chalmer and Kent’s notion of ‘active externalism’ (Wikimedia, 2012). In understanding mnemotechnics – the art of thinking – it is clear that thinking correlates with experience – and experience is, according to Noe (2008) “always necessarily embodied, environmentally situated, and spread out in time”.

Thinking is not only internal, but external; both mental and physical.

Industrialising Memory

The negative side of mnemotechnology – technology which we place our thinking in – is that memory becomes industrialised. As Steigler puts it:

” [the] more we delegate the execution of series of small tasks that make up the warp and woof of our lives to the apparatuses and services of modern industry, the more vain we become: the more we lose not only our know-how but our know-how-to-live-well”.

The analogy Steigler provides, that the more improved a car gets, such as with the addition of GPS, the less we know how to drive a car, because all the knowledge takes away the opportunity for us to engage with it using our memory, is worrying.

Yet essentially, the notion of an “external mind” for me relates to notion that the media is an externalisation of the mind, and that has both positive and negative consequences as a result of the interlation between media, cultural and social change.

References

Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc> (about 9 minutes)

Dalton, S. (n.d.) ‘e sense’ <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTtri5jGDc>

Stiegler, Bernard (n.d.) ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis>

Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture <http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain>

Noë, Alva and Solano, Marlon Barrios (2008) ‘dance as a way of knowing: interview with Alva Noë’, <http://www.dance-tech.net/video/1462368:Video:19594>

Wikimedia 2012,

‘The Art Of Memory’, Wikipedia, last updated 6 December 2011, last accessed 18 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_memory>

‘The Extended Mind’, Wikipedia, last updated 22 Friday 2012, last accessed 16 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Mind>

‘Mnemonic’, Wikipedia, last updated 8 March 2012, last accessed 18 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mnemonic>

 

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“Ecologies”—Media Ecologies/Other “Ecologies”

Media Ecologies, Social Ecologies, Other “Ecologies”—What are “media”, “communications”, “interaction”, etc? How do our various concepts of these match up with what really happens?

The study of Media Ecologies, which Strate (1999) defines as “the study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs“, is not without it’s differences in how it is approached.

Marshall McLuhan’s understanding of media ecologies reflects his technological determinist view, in that “technology is the agent of social change” (Murphie & Potts, 2003) and that “the medium is the message”. It creates the views that:

  • Media infuse every act and action in society.
  • Media fix our perceptions and organize our experiences.
  • Media tie the world togehter.
  • ‘Ecologies’ refer to the enivironments, the social systems affected by media. (Wikimedia, 2012)

Media certainly ties the world together, and instigates social and cultural change in society, especially if we look at history in terms of the three inventions that transformed the world – the alphabet, the printing press, and the telegraph. We can see when observing history through categorical eras such as the Tribal, Literary, Print, Electronic, and now Digital ages, social and cultural practices were transformed immensely by the affordances the inventions created.

Yet, there is also the need to reflect the Cultural Materialism viewpoint, which expresses that (as I wrote in my previous post) Technology, on its own, cannot enact social or cultural change, and that social characteristics such as economics, politics, elites in power, and culture play a heavy role in how these new forms of media are implemented, adapted, and if at all used.

 As such, Neil Postman’s understanding of Media Ecologies, adapted from McLuhan’s work, provides a view that acknowledges the impact society has on media technologies, and thus, media ecologies.

“Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affects human perception, understanding, feeling, and value, as well as how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people” (Postman 1970)

As such, an understanding of ecologies as a society, a network, a connection of and between people and the environment, and different political, cultural and social ideologies, Postman’s understanding reflects a more interactive connection between the impacts media have on society and cultural change, and vice versa.

Journalism As A Media Ecosystem

It is through Postman’s understanding of Media Ecologies, where the media itself is not just an instrument, but an environment, that Journalism can be understood as a media ecosystem.Transformations in media in the last several decades have altered the current news-media landscape into one characterised by a multi-directional network of flows to and from producers and consumers, and one where media organisations begin to target a more active audience as opposed to a passive audience.

Journalist, author, and lecturer of Communications and Media Studies at the University of Western Sydney Milissa Deitz’s explains the Journalism as a media ecology:

“[Is] a phenomenon in which journalism is a joint project between journalists, non-journalists, accidental journalists, bloggers, politicians, celebrities, and the general public” (Deitz, 2010)

The Guardian’s most recent advertisement for their Open-Journalism explores how the story of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf would be understood and reported in modern society. It highlights how journalism is a joint project between the organisations and the public through multimedia use and interactivity. What it explores is an important issue in Journalism (and how the media ecology operates) – truth and accuracy in what is reported.

Journalism has transformed into a practice and medium that is no longer primarily built on journalists and news organisations disseminating information and setting the agenda, but one that is more open, interactive and convergent (in terms of multimedia use). Essentially, it is not just the medium that influences changes, but society and individuals decide how media technology evokes change. As Deitz (2010 suggests:

“…the contemporary media landscape is questioning and continuing to question the conventional frameworks for analysing and reporting on culture, politics and society” (Deitz, 2010)

The media ecology that is Journalism is one where not only those affected by the media constitute the ecology, or the environment, but the media is the environment as well. The video shows people not just accepting newspaper headlines such as ‘Big Bad Wolf Boiled Alive’, or broadcast reports entitled ‘Three Little Pigs Arrested for Wolf Murder’ which presents one perspective, but audiences are interacting via Twitter, questioning whether killing an intruder is ever justified, and revealing information such as the wolf having Asthma. This demonstrates the multi-directional relationship being achieved in the Digital Age, and how journalism is evolving as a media ecology that focuses on the revelation of truth in news reporting. It’s an assemblage that functions both socially and mechanically.

References

Deitz, Milissa (2010) ‘The New Media Ecology’, On Line Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11410&page=1>

The Guardian 2012, ‘Guardian Open Journalism – Three Little Pigs Advert’, Youtube, published 29 Feb 2012, <http://youtu.be/vDGrfhJH1P4>

Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology?’, last accessed 10 March 2012’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

–  Postman,N, 1970, “The Reformed English Curriculum.” in A.C. Eurich, ed., High School 1980: The Shape of the Future in American Secondary   Education, as posted on Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology?’, last accessed 10 March 2012’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

– Strate, L, “Understanding MEA,” In Medias Res 1 (1), Fall 1999, as posted on Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology?’, last accessed 10 March 2012’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

Thussu, D K, 2006, ‘Contraflow in Global Media’ in International Communication: Continuity and Change (2nd Edition), London, Hodder Education, pgs 167-193

Wikimedia 2012,  ‘Media Ecology’, Wikipedia last updated 5 March 2012, last accessed 10 March 2012  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_ecology>

 

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