Lost In Translation.

To procrastinate from study during the week, I went with a friend to a seminar held for the Melbourne Writers Festival. Being a tag along I had no idea what I was going to listen to, and having no faith in my intellectual abilities thought I may be out of my depth with my Honour student friend and those like him. To my pleasant surprise I was able to keep up, sometimes I think I worry too much.

The seminar was a part of the One Just World series, this one was called Tradition Vs Development.

Put simply, it raised the questions whether development and cultural linquistic traditions are mutally exclusive.

Here are some things I found interesting:

The majority of the world now speaks at least two languages. I guess I’m in the minority, I think many young Australians in my demographic would be in the minority. We dont need to speak another language, although maybe we should learn Mandarin just in case.

Development refers to the intergration of smaller communities who have not yet been influenced by Western Culture. Development should always be about those people and not for economic gain. Althought sometimes there is not a clear answer to the question, whose agenda do development agencies have?

Many of the panelists had first hand accounts of working with these small communities. The decision to develop should always come from the people, yet often times they would not talk. Which is why there are instances where the decision is made for them.

One of the panelists, Butet Manurung does aid work in Sumatra with a village called Onaringa. She recounts the villagers telling her that they were constantly mocked and called primitive, this caused a lack of confidence in themselves and an unwillingness to perserve their own culture. This village was being threatend by an improaching Pine plantation. The villagers were skeptical of education, it was this modernisation that was threatening to destroy their homes. Although, without an education they were unable to fend for themselves, they could not communicate with those people that could advantage of this. Not knowing a common language means not knowing when you are agreeing to sell your home.

So there is a dichotomy. Education for those that need it in order for a sustainable, stable life, and the threat of eradication of polyglotism and definable cultures.

Whose decision is it to preserve this cultures? Many villagers, just like in the western world, want economic stability for their children, more attainable by learning a universal language. A connection with a wider network of economic and social benefits. Who are we to tell them that it is their duty to preserve their language, and even if they wanted to do they have the means to go about it? Should it be the states? Should it be our duty to record and preserve?

How integral is language to culture? Many people on the panel believed that with the disappearance of a cultures unique language we are cutting the roots of cultural identity. That language holds the cultural knowledge. The homogenality threat means a less diverse world.

Many many more points were raised but to be honest I cant remember enough to form them into sentences. Just another quick one though, make sure whose agenda you are funding when giving money to charitable associations.




Henry Jenkins

This man knows whats up. Funny thing though, after reading only a couple of his blog posts my reaction was ‘I want to buy his book!’.

WHY? Its probably all there on his blog! Why did he even write a blog? Surely the audience he would be targeting in the book would be the sort of people who were competent at the internet and able to access his blog, why didn’t he just put it on there? I dont know.

Least we know prints not dead yet, or maybe he’s just trying to make a buck.



Douglas, J. Yellowlees

Douglas makes a point that I think a lot of people take for granted, your reading experience changes every time you read the same book. At different stages of your life, the experience may be completely different. Even the traditional linear narrative form allows for different ideas to be expressed for different people at different stages of their lives. People subconsiously pick and choose what they want to absorb, what means most to them and what makes the biggest impact. This is an undeniable advantage of Hypertext in its purest form, allowing for specific interests to be actively facillitated and expanded. Giving control to the reader creates the reader-author participant so often talked about when it comes to Hypertext. Authorship can still be inscribed through narrative style, yet the reader can determine the stucture of the story and extent of information consumed.

“If the book is a highly refined example of a primitive technology, hypertext is a primitive example of a highly refined technology”.

Just as hypertext is the facilitator for transmedia in its informative form, it allows for links between stories, ideas and concepts the narrative form. Its a bit off track but, I think people connect with different types of mediums. Different emotions are extracted using different forms, the act of reading about a superhero in a comic book is completely different to watching that superhero on the big screen. This allows more poeple to become more immersed and more involved. We develop technology to entertain, communicate and facilitate, hypertext is the tool we use to bring it all together.

Unsymposium 0.3

Another unsymposium was spent listening in awe of the articulation and wisdom of Adrian and the tutors (does sucking up get me extra marks?). I’m not a writer, to be honest I find it hard to put a sentence together at the best of times. It stresses me out reading such beautifully put together blogs by students knowing I would never be able to write like that. Especially when we’re getting marked on our expression of ideas, its kinda demotivating. Anyway thats a battle I have to deal with, I digress.


A nice little analogy put forward by Adrian of hypertext being like the edits in a film. The shot progression and how small pieces can be connected to other pieces. A film is structured by the syuzhet (throw out to all y’all cinema students, plot for the non-wankers), how the story is organized, hypertext is to writing as Art Cinema is to the Classic Narrative form, in other words a change in this organised format. Abolishment of the dogma of a beginning, middle and end (I’ve used this analogy before, last time I promise). Here’s a new analogy, cutaways in a film providing slices of extra information ergo resembling links in hypertext? Slightly less voluntary and expansive admittedly. For those visually inclined, imagine not a pyramid but a cycle, perhaps even the circle of life. Never starting nor finishing, one thing will always lead to another. Completely different structure to the pyramid.

A lot of time was spent talking about the significance of the tangible written book, whether it did in fact still hold some importance in this digital age. I guess thats up to personal opinion, where my personal opinion is whatever Adrian says because he’s like 10 times smarter than me.

Seriously though, blind sentiment is put onto literary books because thats just the way things have always been, they represent the past, we grew up reading books, we go to sleep reading books, we love books. You can pass your books down to your children, collect them and create a visual map of your literary journey. So apart from all these aesthetic properties whats the difference to reading an eBook? The soul of the novel still exists, just in a more convenient, practical form. Literary texts ARE a cultural artifact, they read no better, they will sit on the shelf next to the typewriter and the gramophone for use when we feel a little sentimental. The sentiment will fade, just like it has with other obsolete technologies, and we will appreciate them as the 400 year life-span representation of the print age.

I’ll still buy books though, how else am I going to make my house look like this?







Landow: Reconfiguring Narrative.

Hypertext fiction is great! Who cares about linearity Allison, our pre-concieved notions that narrative must take a linear form is boring and outdated. I think back to when I was a kid reading R.L Stines Goosebumps, the most exciting ones were the sparkly ‘Give yourself Goosebumps’ editions. The whole idea was that the reader was an active participant in the story, somewhat niavely I thought of myself as one of the creative minds making up my own version of the story. That’s an exciting feeling! Readers are more intuitive and engaged if they feel an active member. It’s sad that we fall into the linear trap as adults and forget the possibilities of branching stories.

‘Give yourself Goosebumps’ was only a drop in the ocean for the possibilites of Hypertext fiction. Just like informational hypertext it grants the reader power to a mass database of information. I cant help to make parellels with ‘Art Cinema’. Parellels in the nonnecessary need for narrative linearity and importance and expression of characters pychological states. Hypertext fiction would allow for an infinite availabilty to character development and psychological exploration.

Bordwell’s observation of art cinema as ‘less concerned with action than reaction‘, I think holds true to Hypertext fiction. It is OUR reaction to the narrative that determines which direction we want to follow.




society not so SMART

Another thing that Adrian said at one of the unlectures a couple of weeks ago is that society and infastructure has to be ready for any new technological developments and innovations. He mentioned a 12 second video Vine like network that never took off because it  happened too early.

Although, there are also technologies that shift the way people think, or at least SHOULD shift the way people think. ‘SMART’ applications still tend to be recieved with skepticism by the general public. SMART meaning the combination of sensor and online techology with data analysis. This is natural progression, managing the mundane parts of life so we dont. Although, the majority of the public percieves this technology with ‘Big Brother’ connotations, and to be honest I too get a little sentimental for the past imagining a world organised by computers.

Take for example London’s SMART bins that were quickly labelled SPY bins by the general public. Ive got a quote written down in my notes from a while ago (sorry I dont know where its from) “technologies are described as intelligent autonomous agents ‘affecting’ a passive public”. Now this is an attitude that has to change, and the only way for it to change, as it has done in the past, is to introduce the new technologies to the masses. I guess, in conclusion, what Im trying to say is that the creative thinkers and innovators are the ones that have their finger on the pulse of  society, they write new chapters with new material when and where it is needed, the general public need a little more convincing.


Im not sure where I’m heading with this, just letting you know so to save my arse if I ramble,

I read a couple of interesting articles that used the past and future terms for the internet, Networked Virtual Reality and Future Internet respectively. Both sound just as futuristic as eachother, Networked VR brings up images of Back to the future like predictions of the current time with massive virtual reality headsets controlling our lives, and its funny that I imagine the same images 20 years down the track with Future Internet. Noone can predict the future of the internet, one of the articles has a nice summary of some of the innovative technologies developing now and the precautions we must take with them, but an underlying factor is, we dont know if the internet in the future will be a logical extension of what it is now or something completely different. Anything could happen.

What was interesting that in the short time frame of 3 years, the definition of the internet has changed from an ‘Internet ecosystem, with stakeholders from a traditional infastructure perspective’ in 2010 to ‘a socio-economic structure for the support of information and knowledge exchange’. With such universality we must strike a balance between participation and privacy but also develop technologies that are based around societal behaviours and away from technology for technology’s sake.

This dichotomy led me on to further thinking,

Which one is correct?:

Technological determinism – ‘society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values’,

Social Construction of Technology – ‘the relationship between technology and society cannot be reduced to a simplistic cause-and-effect formula. It is, rather, an ‘interwining’, where technology does not determine but ‘operates’.

I think it would be grossly ignorant for me to believe the first one. The internet is an extremely important agent in our culture, yet the USES (personal expression, communication, advertising etc) are just as much a part of it as the software. I think Ralph Schroeder sums it up nicely with “users don’t just passively consume technology, but actively transform it”.

So it went away from what I was going to talk about initially but, oh well.


Article: Cross Disciplinary lessons for the Future Internet.



Google Maps.

This is something thats been bugging me for a while. And Im not trying to blow my own horn or anything Im just making an observation. I used to be referred to as the ‘Melways ‘ in the years just after highschool. If you needed to get somewhere in Melbourne I would get you there with complete accuracy 95% of the time. I have a shocking memory and would not be able to tell you what I had for dinner the night before but if I had been to Sunshine one time 5 years ago I would be able to follow the same exact route 5 years later. Don’t ask me to tell you street names either, it took me 17 years of my life to realise what street turned into the street of my family home, dont need them, cant remember them.

When forced into a new environment your brain subconsciously makes mental notes of your surrondings, leaving Hansel and Gretal bread crumb-esque memories in your brain. I guess I was really good at that. I was conscious of my surrondings so I would navigate my way through Melbourne using familiar landmarks.

Testament to what Adrian was saying in last weeks lecture about knowing how to find facts rather than the facts themselves, I have completely lost my Navy Captain worthy navigational skills. All due to the bloody too-easy-to-use Iphone and the genius App that is Google Maps. It’s just too convenient. I don’t care where I’m going these days, conciously and subconciosly I know that I dont need to rely on taking mental notes of my surrondings, my Iphone will always be with me, it’ll always tell me the way.

People always say ‘I’m lost without my phone’ or ‘I can’t live without my Iphone’. And yes, I have said this as well. I love how much easier it is now too, I think I have mentioned before just how much I love what we have now thanks to the technology. It’s just, maybe we are taking ourselves and our abilities a little too much for granted as well. Maybe we should pay a little more attention to them, maybe test them out every once in a while, because maybe we will lose them for good. HEY maybe thats not evolution.

Although it was definitely not the main point of the last lecture, something that I can’t get out of my head is the uncertain and unpredictable future of the media and communcations industry. With such a vast amount of creative thinkers and content creators, not even the most credible futurists can fortell where we will be in 20 years. Whilst some people are frightenend and feel insecure about this notion, I am actually quite excited by it. I think its exciting that just around the corner someone can invent another ‘Iphone’ and completely change the way we interact, view and understand the world. I think technology is excited. I think technology is invented, and more so, so widely implemented because it makes life easier. Even more than that though, it makes undertanding life easier. The ability to communicate and connect on the level that we do now because of the invention of the smart phone I think is in no way a bad thing. It makes for a more informed and intelligent society.

This reminds me of the quote from 1899 by Charles H. Duell; “Everything that can be invented has been invented”. It’s a good example of the gross underestimation of the ability of the human mind. Progress is happening exponentially in the media industry, and its exciting that I get to be a part of it.