Readings #8

6292717216_39a94ee71b_nDuncan Watts, Photo by TedxMidAtlantic


The Duncan Watts reading raised the idea that if we start to actively look for them, networks are in fact all around us. It’s also raised that networks are just human-made either. I think one of the more important ideas Watts raised came at the start of the readings – that the total network power is sometimes greater than the sum of its contents.

Albert-László Barabási wrote about how networks, especially human social networks, involve clusters, and said that the notion that network links are random was killed off by the discovery of connectors. Barabási said connectors, a part of a network that has many more links than the average, are found in many complex networks, including human social networks and the network of the web.

Symposium #6

What is the untapped potential of hypertext? Will we ever be satisfied with it?

Elliot bringing up hypertext within video as a development in hypertext reminded me of Strange Talk’s interactive music video for Climbing Walls.

Stange Talk & Proctor & Gamble’s formerly interactive video clip

I remember seeing it on the front page of YouTube and being disgusted by the unashamed advertising, but it’s a pretty relevant example of hypermedia in videos. The music video was an ad for Cheer Detergent – viewers were invited the click on objects, where they were taken to a Facebook page and given the chance to win those items. It was a fairly innovative use of hypermedia and the ad campaign was successful in gaining attention, but you have to hope that hypermedia in videos has a lot more interesting scope than advertising.

Symposium #4

The symposium discussion about validity brought me straight back to a Crikey article about Tharunka, the University of New South Wales’ student publication, who published a prank article about a fake protest at the UNSW’s Max Brenner store that fooled The Daily Telegraph. 

The Daily Tele ran with an article about the protest without confirming with the store or UNSW security. Two years ago 2UE ran with a story about UNSW’s student union making a $1.4 million bid for the Sydney’s deconstructed monorail without bothering to call the student union to confirm (ABC News Radio and the mX also reported it, however they called and were lied to the the student union president).

This brings trust into question – the Daily Tele might not be held with the utmost respect by some (in fact it is Australia’s least trusted newspaper), but it remains the second biggest newspaper in the country in terms on circulation, so it’s used as a news source for a lot of people. News reporting is expected to accurate and subsequently it’s taken at it’s word by its readers, so a prime source of validity. But with the rise of online news comes the race to get the jump on the competitors, and this means accuracy can be at times second priority. It’s a bit of a weird shift to see previously pillars of trust no longer earning that trust now that they’re online. 

I think also with the internet comes the belief that if something has been viewed by a lot of people, talked about by a lot of people, then it’s validity is kind of implied. If a news article gets a lot of attention on Facebook or reddit, for example, I think for a lot of people there’s less of a thought to challenge something than if someone told them the same thing in a bar. But there’s also a reverse effect happening, too – if I see a news article with thousands of likes on Facebook I’m instantly sceptical. 

But in other areas the speed and competition for comment has great benefits, too. The numbers of voices being able to be heard has never been greater, and it seems a fair trade have to give up some certainty of validity to be able to experience a diversity in voice.

Stuff yr stuffy stuff

“But due to a series of historical accidents the teaching of writing has gotten mixed together with the study of literature… the result … writing is made to seem boring and pointless”

The Age of the Essay, Paul Graham

This is the first thing to truly resonate with me so far in this course. Whilst I most of the readings and ideas presented in this course has made me go “mhmm” and nod in let’s be honest, rather uninspired agreement, the opening of Paul Graham’s The Age of the Essay had me yipping with enthusiasm. The rest of his post I’ll skip over, but the start had me going off.

It’s been a few years now, but one thing that has stuck with me from my high school years was that English was also a monumental bore. It was never treated with respect – certainly not by the students and considering my year 12 English teacher was better known as the music teacher, I don’t think it was really respected by the teachers either. The assignment to write about a badly recorded DVD of 12 Angry Men did nothing except turn me off.

And sure, being able to critically dissect articles and the persuasive devices they have adopted is an important skill to learn – but what use is it when you’re response to the article must be presented in a formulaic, uninspired, plain boring 800 word response in order to get a good mark. I wrote a scrappy 150 words in my phone in response to a For What It’s Worth mX article that I found on the last Belgrave train on Thursday night, and not only was it a more interesting read than my year 12 persuasive response, it was a more useful read.

There’s an obvious void in high school English of writing about things that enthuse the students, and in the big world outside school, formulaic, stuffy writing has never been so ignorable.


Going into the lecture I was unsure of what networked media would entail and coming out of the symposium I didn’t have much clearer of an idea, but it was a pretty interesting start amongst the bore of introductory lectures this week.

The reading for this week makes a good point about the range of literacies that media students ought to develop and I guess blogs are an important thing to get a working understanding of, especially as an introduction to copyright in regards to the world of the internet. Copyright is something that’s always been in the distance – I’ve never really thought of it in terms of how it affects me before so I think this will be an important lesson to learn.

Thinking back, I think I’ve had a number of blogs over the years. I used to write about cricket back when we used to love each other. But we’ve grown apart and no longer love each other any more. We went through a phase of passion fights, but now we’re past that phase and into the bit where I try desperately to hang onto what’s left when deep down I know it’s never going to work. So I don’t write about cricket anymore.

I think I started a few more, but I never found a topic to stick to writing about. I guess that’s what slightly scares me about starting this blog – finding things to write about in a public manner, both in the readings and in the outside entries.

So this blog thing – I think it’s a good idea but it’s also fairly daunting. I’ll guess we’ll see.