The last networked class, tying everything up.

So the stroke of genius that I had last night and sassily wrote about in my last post is now defunct.

During today’s discussion I had several epitomes about how the content of this course, although it wasn’t thrilling, is going to be useful in the course of my education and also my personal and professional life.

  • Design fiction is a total babe. It can be used in conjunction with the knowledge gained from studying other theories in this course in order to prepare myself for the rapidly developing future, prepare and adapt to the failure or success of my ideas and assist in my learning. The speculative model of the wiki assignments is an awesome way to gain a deeper understanding of a particular topic in relation to other theories. By speculatively attaching a previously, seemingly unrelated, theory to a topic it becomes easier to find connections through a speculative scenario, and then form a perspective that might otherwise have not been so obvious.
  • Hypertext and non-linear narratives are the shin-diggity. I’ve finally realised that when I study and explore concepts, I generally do this online. I start somewhere and follow through links and end up finding different media that relates in different ways. It is the best way to expand knowledge and to discover the areas of a theory of a topic that are most interesting and likely to engage you. I put this into play when researching Jonathan Harris and I didn’t even realise it, but it’s the reason that my research was so successful and then I applied it well to a sort of design fiction which expanded my understanding further.
  • Protocol on the internet is less useful for my education, but having an understanding of the frameworks which develop naturally through societies to develop conventions and technological limitations and possibilities on the internet is an important grounding for a career in media. As someone who wants to work on innovative ideas, I should know how these affect and are affected by the people using the internet and also the people developing it. By thinking deeply on online protocols and also the power structures of the decentralised network, the internet, and also potentially mapping these using actor-network theory, I might be able to create more innovative and relevant work. I might also better gain a better understanding of my place within specific online communities and their protocols, in order to create work that pushes some boundaries, which is always fun to do.
  • The stuff on databases was enlightening and has broadened my ideas on what can and cannot be deemed as art or narrative. Previously I would not have thought batches of data as anywhere near the realm of films and literature and photography and art. Now I understand that films and literature and art have become data, and also that data and the interface that is used to organise and display it can be an art form or method of story telling in itself. This has opened up doors to possibilities that I didn’t know existed, and will really practically apply to the way that I approach UX or User Experience design in my ideas for online advertising, portfolios and more general stuff too.
  • As explained in my previous and excruciatingly arrogant post, actor-network theory is a methodology which might aid in my understanding of many different networks and relationships. I won’t go into it again as I’ll probably end up repeating myself but here is a link to the post.
  • And, going back to the very start, all of this stuff will integrate together toward the pedagogic practice of blogging. This post is a great example, I’ve been able to organise my ideas in a single post, I’ll tag each of the theories mentioned for future reference and I’ll also link to relevant posts and information on the things covered in order to create an informative and relevant non-linear narrative.


Institutionalised Education, Actor-Network Theory and Elliot.

This is something that I don’t think I’m supposed to say on an academic blog, particularly one made for and by the people at RMIT; I am not hoping nor aiming for anything above a pass in this course or in many of my courses. And I don’t think that that should reflect badly on me.

My intelligence (what ever of it there is) is more insightful and creative than academic. I’m forgetful. I will remember the names of theorists and their theories but not together. I can describe the painting and make an educated guessplanation of what the painter was thinking when he painted it but I won’t be able to name the painter; I’ll give you a deep analysis on the themes behind a poem, but I won’t be able to cite a single line.

More importantly though, I’ll remember the idea. I will apply that to my work and to my own ideas. The things I’m learning are constantly influencing my opinions, my philosophies and the work that I do. I make connections and I apply them, and I think that that is more important than being able to name-drop Baudrillard and Nietzshe over dinner.

I wholly believe that studying topics which bore you is of very little purpose at all, because if it won’t aid in your personal happiness, even in the very long term, what good is it to you at all? And so of course I study; but the study I do out of class is very infrequently on class content. I study the things that I am passionate about: advertising campaigns, innovative ideas, contemporary ethical social ideas, new philosophical realms. And then I write and I design and I conceptualize, outside of class. The work I do that interests me seems to always happen out of class.

This course in particular hasn’t interested me all that much. And so I have allowed myself to give it low priority. There is obviously something in the content that our tutor, Elliot, is passionate about and that makes me want to be passionate about it as well. I’m caught between wanting to understand what he sees in the content and my own boredom. There’s nothing quite like seeing a person in their element, someone who has an interest in something that most people overlook, and is dedicated to it and knowledgeable on it and good at it. I don’t think that networked media is exactly that thing for Elliot, maybe this all has something to do with games or film and the ideas underlying them or what ever it is that he is passionate about, but I can’t see it. I did make my own connections though, and I am happy about that. Actor-network theory and design fiction have made some sort of impression.

Actor-network theory is one of the first things that I have found of interest and practical use in this course, personally. I wish I’d had the guts to stand up for it in the class symposium, but I didn’t.

Actor-network theory makes it possible to trace broad relationships between people and things, and things (actors) could be anything, to understand perfectly what effect different actors have on each other and how they act in connection to one another. It’s an exciting proposition. It would be difficult to map out, considering the amount of actors in any given scenario, but when done efficiently it would be an effective way of understanding and explaining relationships. You could understand the functionality of every actor within a network, eliminate the defunct ones, reinforce and strengthen the effective connections.

This might be practically applied to advertising, one area that I am passionate about, and it might also be used in conjunction with design fiction, another topic that I found practical and interesting. Design fiction and actor-network theory are both related to strategizing, and I think they’d compliment each other extra-ordinarily well.

Imagine understanding relationships and the actors within a network so well that when adding another actor to this network, a speculative one, a design, you could anticipate the reactions of the other actors.

Actor-network theory could be a method of realizing the attitude and complexity of the relationships of individuals, within a particular society, most applicably in our case to online communities and people who share interests online. Target groups, if you will. It’s an open prospect, and one that could be used to better understand people for more effective manipulation of individuals within societies, which of course is the role advertising plays in supply and demand, isn’t it?

I have found something that I could be passionate about within a stream of content that I didn’t think could offer me anything, but something which Elliot made to seem like a golden pool of opportunity.

I am paying terrifying amounts of money to study this course at RMIT, and it is a very highly esteemed course that I was surprised and proud to be accepted into; and I look forward to working in media and to work in media a “Bachelor of Communications (Media)” ought to come in handy. And I didn’t only sign up for the piece of paper, I wouldn’t let myself put in so much time and effort just for a qualification, I do want the knowledge, and knowledge such as actor-network theory and design fiction is exactly what I want.

What I’m trying to say with this post is that I may have purposely only scraped the surface of this subject, and perhaps I should feel irresponsible, perhaps, to quote Adrian Miles himself, I should wonder “what the fuck am I doing wasting my time here?” as I did ask myself when I read this post, but I don’t. Instead I am glad because even if this isn’t my thing like it is or relates to Elliot’s thing, I found some things from it that are my thing.

It’s nearly 2am now. I think we’ll put this tired and irrational writer to rest for the night. This may be my last post on networked media, but it won’t be my last academic blog post, because the use of this blog is another thing from this course that I hope will become my thing, and I’ll be glad if this post is my last, because it’s my favourite.

Actor-Network Theory

ANT has been developped by students of science and technology and their claim is that it is utterly impossible to understand what holds the society together without reinjecting in its fabric the facts manufactured by natural and social sciences and the artefacts designed by engineers. As a second approximation, ANT is thus the claim that the only way to achieve this reinjection of the things into our understanding of the social fabrics is through a network-like ontology and social theory.

Quote from the reading here

Actor-network theory has been mentioned a few times in class, generally with the association that it was a complex oncoming topic that would be difficult to understand, but one which would usefully be related to the topics which we have already covered.

The definition above, from the reading, was the best that i could grasp but the concept is still one that I’m having trouble understanding.

I do agree with certain aspects of ANT according to the reading.

I agree that objects and theories should be included in networks.

I do believe there should be nothing in the connections but the connections themselves.

I do not see how understanding these networks helps to understand the world better or to make life easier at all.

Yes it eliminates the concept of distance as connections cannot be measured by length, but what does this accomplish?

And as for eliminating scale, I disagree. All networks seem to me to be bigger or smaller depending on the amount of nodes in the network. How do networks in ANT differ?

These are things which I will have to explore in the workshop tomorrow morning.

Independence and power of the online network

In class discussion we covered the readings as usual, covering mainly the dependence (or lack thereof) of the internet on humans.

A few points were made, such as the fact that these days programs make decisions on their own, that no matter what the internet might do on its own it was originally made by people, that people were brought up by their parents but they are still independent when they leave home and therefore the internet can be too, and also the fact that all of nature is determined by pre-existing factors and a great butterfly effect, and therefore neither humans or the internet are independent.

My opinion is that, no, the internet is not currently independent and for as long as human beings use it, it never will be. As long as there are the ‘makers’ out there writing scripts and protocols that develop the internet, and as long as there are ‘users’ out there whose needs and wants are shaping the way that the internet develops, it can not be independent of people. (I’m also a determinist philosophy-wise but I really think we went of track with that tangent so I’m not going to comment on it.)

This brings us to the power play within the internet. It is very interesting that, as the reading points out, the development of the internet has destabilised former societal power structures and instead this technology that doesn’t have a central power is the focus of so many lives and indeed is fundamentally entangled with our day to day beings. I agree with the reading in that there still is power in the internet, however the fact is, the internet is developed by the people who use it. It is an extremely democratic network because there is not central power, the needs and desires of every person lead to new technologies and processes on the internet. I think this is a great thing, politicians and global leaders may not. The issue it does lead to though is that people with great programming skills have an advantage over the average user on the internet and therefore have more power than them. They could use this power to do the wrong thing, as has happened in the past with viruses and online scams, but for the most part people with developing skills use it for good, and progress the internet into new and promising waters.

Live narrating my reading

I personally find readings intolerably boring, so in order to make it more interesting for myself I’m going to live blog it. Kind of. What I’ll do is read the thing and take breaks to comment on the content as I read.

For the first few sentences into the Galloway Protocol reading I just didn’t know what the guy was talking about. Then ‘Boom’. Got it. He’s wondering how there is still a power play in a network that is “decentralised”. Which I’m assuming means a network that doesn’t have a central power. LIKE THE INTERNET, BAM! I’m thinking that this is going to lead to a discussion of how power is spread out over the nodes in the network.

Ok so he’s not just talking about the internet, he’s talking about society as a whole and how some of the power has shifted from “factories”-capitalisation, the “sovereign”-the government and the “prison”-laws, onto digital technologies.

I hope I’m getting this right, it would be really embarrassing to be live blogging my thought process if it was an incorrect interpretation.

Cool yep I think I’m on the right track. So basically if you look back into history you’ll see that power was enforced through violence. Then as you travel along to the modern era more civilised and procedural procedures are used to control people’s behaviour. New technologies assist in the whole thing.

Ok now he’s finally mentioned the internet. It’s the big one. The big new technology that has created a huge shift in control.

Well that’s interesting, apparently the Internet was intentionally created as a result of the Cold War to have no central power so that if attacked the whole thing wouldn’t come to pieces. I kinda thought the whole, no-central-power thing would be an accident. So they intentionally broke up information into packets and invented a way to send them somewhere and reassemble. Cool.

What is “BSD”? Sounds like a weird sexual fetish. Nope they don’t explain that, next.

Ok this is just a history of the development of the internet, not bothering to write on this anymore. Now the internet is really big. Done.

At the centre of the internet lies protocols, by the Request For Commons. I did not know this. Where are these protocols and who writes them? Is this like the global constitution for the internet or like a big manual saying that if you press A, B will happen?

Holy Crap! There is an Internet Engineering Task Force! The modern day equivalent of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen! Literally people that try to protect and guide users of the internet on a peaceful and ethical path into the future.

HTML and CSS are protocols, so it is more of a manual than a constitution.

Oh god, I’m not even a quarter of the way through. I’m skimming.

Protocols on the internet are all about etiquette and coding. They determine how the internet will progress and which technologies that are developed will be implemented and used by the masses. Kinda like real world governing but technology.

Voluntary regulation. I like that. The thing about the internet though is that a lot of people volunteer not to regulate protocol and instead go around it with their hacking brains and use the power to their advantage. How does that come into it?

New technologies no longer come from one hierarchal control point, but this guy doesn’t believe that this means that control is disappearing altogether.

Oh noooo he’s talking about IPs and DNSs now. Those are my topics. I need a break.

DNS and IP Addresses

My topic, with Tim and Dana, for the  next Wiki page, is DNS servers and IP addresses.

I’d heard these acronyms before, and seen them around when I surf the internet or troubleshoot my router from time to time, but I never really knew what they were.

So here’s a basic rundown of the DNS:

The letters, DNS stand for ‘Domain Name System’. Domain Name Systems are a complex collective of smaller networks which helps to connect computers to internet webpages by translating the domain name that they desire to reach, into an IP address.

The computer connects to the DNS when the user types in an internet domain name, and the DNS relays the IP address back to the computer which then connects to the site which the IP address relates to.

If an IP address isn’t within a DNS server’s domain, it will send a message to the relevant domain and query them for the IP address and then send that information back to the relevant computer.

The DNS also identifies and locates computers by using IP addresses, so different computers that are connected to the internet all have separate IP addresses. These change frequently depending on the Internet Service Provider, or ISP. The IP address of a computer is determined by the router which might reset the IP address frequently or rarely depending on the user’s settings.

And here is a basic rundown of IP addresses (WARNING, they’re pretty complex even in basic rundown form):

An Internet Protocol address has two main purposes: to identify and locate the host device or network interface, and to identify webpages.

There are two main types of IP addresses, IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 addresses are 32bit numbers, and are finite. So in 1995, IPv6 addresses were invented so that the internet can continue to grow.

IPv4 addresses have four octets, each divided by a decimal point. For example:, which is my current IP address.

There are 5 classes of IPv4 IP addresses, Class A, B, C, D and E. Each class is structured a different way and are allocated from largest networks (Class A) to experimental and rare networks (Class E).

IPv6 addresses are 128bit, and are 16 octets long. Each section of the IP address is separated by a colon ( : ) and they incorporate both letters and numbers. IPv6 addresses are also finite but provide enough IP addresses for the next 100 years at least.

Both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are divided into two parts, the network identifier and the host identifier. Many hosts belong to a network and the size of the network determines what class it will be in and how many octets in the IP address are dedicated to the network.

The smaller the network, the more octets are dedicated to it and the fewer octets are devoted to the host. The larger the network the less octets are dedicated to the network and the more octets dedicated to the host. Class A IPv4 addresses are reserved for the largest networks, and so the network identifier is stated in only one octet, while the host is identified in the remaining three octets. It is a logical system because the larger the network, the more hosts it will need to identify. Whereas, with smaller networks, there are more of them and therefore there will need to be more space in order to find those networks.

The allocation of IP addresses is managed by the Internet Assigned Number Authority, or IANA. It allocates IP address blocks to ISPs and other entities.

Unicast IP addresses are the address for individual devices that are connected to the internet.


Here’s a pretty cool and simple explanation of the whole thing if mine was too complicated.

Miley Cyrus, Charles Manson and Rich get Richer

Overall, I found the reading, Rich get Richer, boring, repetitive and more technical than it aught to have been. Barbarasi spent a lot of words reiterating that: 1, networks grow (apparently this was some sort of revelation), and 2, the nodes of the network have a power structure.

What is this supposed to teach us? It is obvious from observation that networks grow. Even Charles Manson’s cult started with a few members or nodes, then attracted a few more, then a few more, a few died in mass suicide incidents and somehow, due to this preferential attachment of international interest they are replaced by more new members.

It is the same in all networks. I’m struggling to think of a network that doesn’t grow and evolve in a number of ways, except unsuccessful networks or those that once grew and are now waning.

The power structure of these is a little more interesting than the rather unsurprising nature of network growth. Online in the modern world, preferential attachment is a huge power play between the big corporations on the net battling for clicks, and the occasional little guy who manages to get an adorable video of his cat doing something hilarious. These days big corporations will pay some little guy and his cat to do something adorable and hilarious, just to get page views. And the more views that guy gets, the more new nodes are created that link to that node, and his brand becomes more popular and the rest of his nodes become more linked to as well.

It’s like high school all over again. Vying for schoolyard popularity on the big bad net. Using hashtags, commenting on popular sites, talking up the big topics on Twitter, all these things are examples of people fighting to work their way up in the unendingly massive network of power play that is the internet.

How can we use this knowledge of preferential attachment and power laws in order to get to the top of our desired network hubs? That’s the important question here, and the one that everyone is trying to get to the bottom of. Understanding the problem with Barbarasi’s scientific explanation of power plays changes my view of the game but I always knew the game was there.

At the moment rising to the top of a networking hub is pinnacle to the ongoing development of any kind of online presence, and it is what most money making endeavors and ambitious creative projects and hopeful writers/photographers/Youtube sensations aspire to. In order to be well known, you need to be well known online.

So, how do you get there? How do you rise to the top. If you want to follow Barbarasi’s equations, get in early. Create something that a lot of other people are going to want to link to. In his examples he stated that a new node will automatically and naturally be attached to two other nodes, manually attach it to more. This would be known as spamming. Something that Barbarasi doesn’t account for. He talks about quantity but what about quality. He completely neglects to mention that the quality, content and originality of the link is going to be the reason that new nodes are created in relation to it.

That’s where Miley Cyrus is a genius at creating online hype. Over the past year she rose to the top of online power play. Countless Tweets, Facebook statuses, news articles, opinionated blog posts and snide Youtube comments were posted about Miley Cyrus-both negative and positive nodes. Either way her name sky rocketed to the top of the online network by being the topic of countless nodes.

This is one method of self promotion online, creating controversy, and perhaps one that is only suited to a person hoping to sell records through a wild and unconforming image.

For creating a well known professional online presense, the answer would be to create original and relevant industry content, and as Barbarasi’s findings teach us, post it fast and link it to the source of interest early to boost the preferential attachment to your nodes. (Nodes is a terrible word, online texts would be a much better way to put it in this context.) The amount of links attached to your online texts would then cause your personal and professional brand’s status to climb the online power ladder.


The word, hypertext, before I learned its meaning, sounded to me as if I was in a spacecraft, flying past words and sentences at the speed of light.

It turns out I was kind of right. In my imagination I was navigating the ship around space and through the networks of words. Coincidentally in a very similar way to how people surfing the internet navigate their way through links on pages to new find and absorb and filter new texts.

That’s how we surf the web. It isn’t linear, everything is connected. Every person’s path through the web is different.

This is a fantastic way to learn. In fact, I remember being very young and Googling Roy Lichtenstein, from there I was linked to pop art, from there I discovered Andy Warhol. From his biography I was linked to Edie Sedgwick, where I was linked to Poor Little Rich Girl on Youtube, where I was linked to a trailer for the 90s movie Clueless. It was an interesting path and it perhaps didn’t land in the most educational place, but until Youtube it is a good demonstration of learning through hypertext pathways. I still remember a lot about Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, pop art, Edie Sedgwick, that black and white ‘art-house’ film, Poor Little Rich Girl.

This is a little superstitious, but I believe that because the brain is made of billions of tiny connections -synapses- making connections is the best way to learn. Connections between our experiences and old and new knowledge.

I’ve really just covered my personal connection with hypertext rather than really focusing on the reading. For a really, really good summary of the reading on hypertext check out Li-Wen’s blog here.