Cultural and Literary Issues Arising out of Networked Media

Following on from my previous post, during this weeks symposium the bulk of discussion was focused around the following two ideas; ‘can technology progress independently of art and culture?’ and ‘is the internet causing a permanent  change in our literary format ?’. Initially when the first question was raised I instinctively disagreed. How can you remove culture from technology when technology is now embedded within it? We use technology everyday, our entire existence now balances on our deep reliance on technology from medical tools and equipment to kitchen and cooking appliances. However, when Betty raised the issue of a ‘tool’ vs ‘technology I begin to wonder what defines each of these terms? What is art. What is technology? Is technology simply an object that is new? Perhaps it may be old to one culture but new in another? Technology isn’t simply an object with an electrical source. It can a pen, fire, the wheel etc. So then if technology is dependent on how and when it is introduced, does that make art a product of new thinking that enables the development of technology? If we were to follow on with that idea then really art and culture cannot develop independently of technology because we need the art to create the technology that becomes woven into the foundations of our culture.

Following on nicely from talk about movements into the future, we then began to discuss the non linear format of internet and how it has influenced literature of today. Within ‘traditional media’ i.e written books, there is a physical and real distance between sources that does not exist within ‘modern media’ i.e the internet. As per the example that was given by Adrian, if you were reading about nutrition and then wanted to go deeper into your reading and read up on the digestive system, the physical format of book require you to get up off your chair and walk up the stairs to the biology section on level two of the library yet with the internet, all the information is able to arrive at the same time, equally distant from one another. The structure of the internet is non-linear, it is literally a network of sites that that equally distant from each other, causing no distinctive shape, no edge, no ending or centre. When we read a book out of order, we know and accept just that, that it is ‘out of order’. Yet this does not occur in the format of the internet.

Will this forever change the way we write? Will there no longer be a need for words such as ‘therefor’. Writing for the web now forces us to write in a manner than enables viewing at any angle.

What defines technology?

A quick but necessary post during today’s symposium. The tutors hold different opinions on what is ‘technology’? In the midst of this discussion whilst searching a news website I quite coincidentally came across an article on nail polish posted under the catgeory ‘Technology’. I found this both amassing and confusing.



INCOMING! Ads to be implemented on Instagram in Australia

Already underway in the US, in the coming months everyone’s favourite social networking app Instagram will be gradually woven with commercial advertisements.

Come on. Can there not be any form of popularised social networking site or application that doesn’t possess feeds of annoying ads? They say these Australian Instagram ads will look very similar to those currently surfacing on the US Instagram site with the ‘sponsored posts so well integrated that most users would see them as an engaging photo, rather than an ad’.

I personally have lost a lot interest in Facebook as a result of the incessant ads that take up the right hand side of my screen. I want to go on Facebook to talk to my friends and family not to view the latest sales for Myer or the news Translink card in the Gold Coast . I spend more time watching ads on TV and when listening to the radio than I do enjoying the content I turned the technology on for in the first place!

I sincerly hope the need to maintain a ‘sustainable business’ doesn’t overshadow the need for a consumers and audiences.

To read the referenced article click HERE

Writing and Reading with New Technology

Again following on with the concepts revolving around hypertext, this weeks reading focuses on possibilities available for narratives and the potential role of the reader.  Despite the length and breadth of the reading however, it was one of the opening quotes that sparked my interest the most.

What if you had a book that changed every time you read it? —Michael Joyce (1991)

Straight away this reigited my childhood memories of the classic novel series, ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps’ by R.L Stine that through a choice of options at the end of various chapters, enabled you to jump between pages and chose the narrative  outcome. As a child, I, as I’m sure many others, absolutely loved these books. This structuring of the text allowed the reader to feel as though they were becoming involved in the narrative and enabled the reader to read the book multiple times and through trial of each options, progress through a different story on each occasion. However in the format of a written book, bound by a front and back cover, there was a limit to these variations. Discussed and questioned throughout the reading is the potential of hypertext to produce novels that are continuously changing, that through visual interaction enable the reader to constantly produce different outcomes. Yet isn’t this simply the production of completely different narratives? How is this any different to picking up three different novels from a library about teenage love or zombies?

The reading then continues on to discuss the kaleidoscope book. A book that really could interact with your choices, moods and fantasies, that allowed you to decided when the book ended and how. Is this what hypertext could lead to? Do we want to control the narratives that we read for enjoyment and relaxation?

Technology has provided the human race with so many improvements and opportunities but how far do we take this technology in erasing all the history and fundamentals it has arisen out of?




Film Review: Spike Jones – ‘Her’

Original. Unexpected. Creepy. Modern. Radical. Intense.

These are only some of the words I thought after watching Spike Jones’s film ‘Her’. Based around lonely and socially withdrawn divorcee Theodore, the film follows the life of the love letter writer as he struggles to understand ‘love’ in a world that has lost it’s grip on technology. After Theodore purchases the latest talking operating system fully equipped with artificial intelligence designed to adapt and evolve, he finds himself falling further and further in love with his virtual system. Always available, supporting, caring and fun, Theodore loses complete sight of ‘Samantha’ as a production of extensive technological development and instead sees her as his lover. Blinded by his aching loneliness after his split from childhood sweat heart, Theodore becomes disorientated with normality and removes himself from reality in order to feel and be loved.

With both a beautiful music score that perfectly embodies the themes of love, companionship and the need to find humour somewhere in between and a captivating colour palette of tonal reds pinks and oranges, this film is brilliantly original in what you see, feel and hear.

Yet as unusual and unlikely as the story of ‘Her’ may be, there is no denying the plausibly of some of the concepts Spike Jones imbeds throughout the duration the film. The story of Theodore, lost in love and the extensiveness of the technology that surrounds him, certainly made me question what is store for us? Do we find comedy in this film because of the genuine humour or are we simply trying to laugh off the subtle hints of a possible future? Through a unique blend of comedy and romance, Spike Jones presents a very thought provoking film in a quirky yet heat warming way. 


Have we changed HTML or is HTML changing us?

This weeks lecture presented a variety of ideas around education, the future and why all this ‘stuff’ is so revenant to us as communications students. However once again they all related back to HTML.  With the majority of symposium discussion in the last few weeks being primarily orientated around html, I’ve found myself becoming much more aware of not only the complexity of this subject but also the immediate relatively of it’s content.

Everything we do now bows down to the Internet. We revolve our everyday lives around it from messaging friends and family or emailing work clients . We bathe ourselves in technology from radio to TV, computers to phones. Yet in contemporary reality there is little distinction between these technologies. You can watch TV on your phone, just as you can listen to the radio on your TV. You can use your TV as a computer and a computer to make audio calls to people in distant locations. As a result of this, hypertext is something that can ultimately be woven throughout all things that we engage with on a daily basis and is no longer specified to your ordinary desktop computer. Integrated within hypertext is then also the component of hypermedia, which then goes beyond simply text but to images, audio and video. This then got me thinking. Has constant access to information readily available at our fingertips, changed the way we process information? If we are now unsure about something, we simply look this up on a search engine, or more accurately the search engine, google. Has this, or will this access encourage us to be more intellectually active or simply lazy?  How often do you rely on someone else searching something and you gaining that information from them? Is this different to when we had to get up and physically go to a library if we wanted to find out a pice of unknown information?

Adrian then extended on my train of thought by questioning us on questions…Have we forgotten how to ask good questions? It seems our world today t has very much lost its clear-cut black and white colouration. So much of today is blurred with masses of grey yet has this been achieved through mass confusion or the evolution of a more curious and inquisitive race? something to think about…



Sifting through the work’s of my classmates

Drifting through the blogs of the other students within Network Media, I realise not only how creative and diverse how cohort really is, but also just how much talented competition I’m going to be up against in the very near future when it becomes time to leave the safety net of RMIT and spread my gadget infused, technologically enhanced wings into the big bad world.

Starting off I would like to comment on the work of Avril Wood, who so kindly checked over my web pages for the HTML exam. Clicking onto her link from the network media page, I was lead to a home page of circular images of which Avril has used as links to her posts. Being a visual person, I was instantly intrigued by what kind of ideas and information each of these images would bring. All the images are very different from another which also adds a very colourful and generally visually pleasing presentation to her blog. This made me realise, that blogs are just books as despite the old saying, people will almost always judge a book by it’s cover. Throughout her posts, my favourite was the one titled Lecture #2. This post was simple yet what I really liked was that Avril had pulled out a concept from the lecture that Adrian had mentioned at the very start that most students, included myself hadn’t taken any notice of. Avril refers to the rhyme Adrian recited and has shown that she had thought about it for being not just a rhyme, but a representation of how automatically we oblige to literacy rules.

Moving on to check out Rebecca Bozin’s blog, I found coincidentally enough that her and Avril’s blogs had the same theme but through the manipulation of colour and imagery, they both look very different. This is one thing I love about blogs. Even if you have a base similarity with another blog, such as the theme, there is so much you can do to make it unique and make it your own. Rebecca’s phone post was my favourite as she took something seemingly mundane and gave it a humorous twist by commenting on the little things about phones that drive us crazy. In this post, I also really loved how Rebecca developed a strong ‘identity’ style and voice in no more than a 100 words, through simple comments such as ‘‘i’m not going to care about basic grammar rules’ identity to maintain here’.

Lastly I had a look at Georgia’s Blog which was engaging, easy to read and diverse in ideas, types of posts and type of language used. I really liked how Georgia keeps her posts short yet accurate and includes lots of links for further reading and development of her base ideas. My favourite post was Georgia’s review on the film ‘Her’ as not only did she include her personal view on the film but also an objective view on the themes it presented and the way in which cinematography was used to encapsulate the viewer.  This posts was also a nice break from the usual posts on classes and lectures but was nicely relevant and relatable.

Hyped on Hypermedia

A dove is a small bird.

It is a member of the Columbidae family of which includes approximately 310 species around the world.

However, when searching the word Dove on the internet you will find that the pages you come across are not simply restricted to its context as bird.

Dove is also the renowned name of a global personal care brand, chocolate manufacture and is the universally recognised symbol for peace, derived from the christian religion.

As a result of this symbolism, the dove has also become a popular design for body tattoos.

The above is an example of hypermedia, a piece of writing that comprised of many chunks of interlinked texts consisting of both text and imagery. As you can see the text may have one common denominator, such as the dove, which relates the various links. However, readers are not bound to a particular sequence and may browse through information by association, following their interests by clicking on a highlighted keyword or phrase in one piece of text to bring up another, associated piece of text.

As we can see here, although the above passage is about the word ‘dove’, through each of the links, and the different content found through each link, we realise that the passage holds a a very diverse range of information and is fact perhaps more unrelated than related.

Irrespective of what you wish to search online, hypermedia is inescapable. The way we communicate online is now through the use of hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow us to connect with each other on a global scale and allow content to be extend on in new and unique ways by enabling a connection between multiple separate ideas, concepts or information that   may then create a new perspective or approach.

Additionally, as a result of the network like configuration of hypermedia, the environment it creates is inherently non linear. As expressed in this week’s reading, the development of hypertext has displaced the literary problems created by the axial structure of linear text. As online readers, we now have no beginning or end to a text, and better yet, we are able to interact with media that holds no barriers.

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