Exploring Student blogs

I find that looking through other student’s blogs is a great way to get another opinion or perspective on the reading, symposium or even things unrelated to networked media.

This time around Stephanie wrote about the idea of weak links is how we connect to other ‘hubs’ or social circles as well. She relates it to a real life experience with her friend which for me seeing how it could apply in real life is a great way to understand new concepts. How weak ties or acquitances are essentially how we extend our network beyond just our immediate circle who will usually know each. Usually you will get job opportunities or be able to reach more people through these weak ties.

Mia’s post ties into my last post about if technology is neutral or not. She seems to come up with the same conclusion as well that technology isn’t neutral.

Mia also linked to Evan’s blog who liked the idea that about binary opposites in relation to the term neutral. Using the example that our understanding of ‘day’ links to what we know about ‘night’. Which was a really valid point and links back to the idea that words meaning are in its relationship to other things. We talked about this recently. Seems like things come full circle.


Symposium Week #8: Neutral technologies

While discussing yesterday’s symposium points in class we went into an in-depth talk about what a neutral technology is? One way that Stephanie used to describe it was that the technology it’s not involved or not motivated by anything. I would agree with that definition that if it was neutral it wouldn’t have any relationship or influence on us or culture. However the next question would be whether technology can be neutral and  I think this is where the main debate lies.

Betty offered up the idea that there can be a sliding scale of neutrality, that perhaps some things can be more or less neutral than others. However, we continued to discuss that if it is on a scale than they have a context thus having a relationship. In turn, the neutrality would be defined by its two sides and is relative to other non-neutral technologies.

Giorgia expanded on that argument raising the issue of whether the term neutral is absolute and therefore things can’t be more neutral or less neutral. We used the exampled of Switzerland saying that if it leaned more towards say Germany than it would no longer be neutral. Initially, I agreed that neutral is absolute but the discussion began to unravel this certainty, leaving me sitting on the fence.

One more point to leave you guys on that Angus brought up. If we don’t know about it does it make it neutral? Possibly things can still influence you without you knowing about it, like an external source.

Some things to ponder over.


Student blogs Week 7

Shona has a post about community TV ending in 2015 and that we will no longer have access to free to air broadcast spectrum. Here is a link to the page to find out more.

Cassie really liked McLuhan’s theory that “…all technologies are extensions of human capacities…the computer is an extension of the brain.” I love her enthusiasm over it.

Because computers are made my human hands, controlled by the human brain.

Laura reflected on privacy that was discussed in the symposium last week. Information can easily be collected on ourselves by the things we do online.




Theoretical Frameworks: Veblen, McLuhan and Baudrilllard

Three of the theories discusses in the reading:

Technological determinism

The term was coined by social scientist Thorstein Veblen. It is a an attitude or way of thinking that technology is independent of social influences and that it follows its own course of development. Raymond Williams a cultural analyst who opposed the theory described it below as:

The basic assumption of technological determinism is that a new technology – a printing press or a communications satellite – ‘emerges’ from technical study and experiment. It then changes the society or sector into which it has ‘emerged’. ‘We’ adapt to it because it is the new modern way.

Technological determinism?

Technological determinism?

Raymond Williams has problems with it and he mainly argued that:

1. Technologies are not independent of society – to some extent they are influenced by our (consumer) needs and desires

2. Technologies are not absolutely determining causes of social change – there is no ‘natural’ course of development

McLuhan: The Medium is the Message

McLuhan says that what is culturally significant about media is the way they alter our perception of the world rather than their content. He has written about the cultural effects after writing was more popular and how we related to each other shifted with the development from ‘orality to literacy’. It was a very technological determinist approach to viewing technology. What is important to note was that in the reading he was quoted as writing that technologies alter the ‘patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance‘.

Baudrillard: The Medium is the Model

Baudrillard took away from McLuhan saying the ‘the medium is the model’. A model for behaviour, perceptions, knowledge of the word, sense of self and reality itself. In terms of reality, he argues that culture is determined by a range of technologically produced ‘simulacra’ – signs that are copies of other signs – and this is creating ‘hyperreal’ conditions. Hyperreal defined as more real than the real. There is an over simulation or more reactions to simulations rather than the ‘real’ thing.

Reacting to television new vs. the world, email vs. vocal communication, computer program vs. social interaction. Or even the action of communicating is more important than what we are communicating leaving the message redundant.

Week 7: Murphie, Andrew, and John Potts. Culture and Technology. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print. ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ extract (PDF)

Via Flickr – Photo credit:


Symposium #7

A few nuggets of knowledge I took away:

When you quote someone it loses its meaning and there is a different tone to when you repeat it. This is because when you take the quote out of its context it changes. I quote people all the time, especially in this blog usually because I think they have phrased it the best way. It’s all about the relationships all the parts have that we have mentioned in a couple symposiums now. The relationships that make the meaning.

Part of this course is teaching us how to read in opposition of the intention of the text. To realise that we don’t have to be try find out what the author intended but find our own informed interpretation. I think Neeve describes it well that intent has its weaknesses because of two main issues: Semiotics and the unconscious.

In regards to semiotics it is split into two parts: the signifier (the sign, the body) and the signified (what is means, the mind). The relationship between words and their meanings are not one to one, they don’t have one universal interpretation. It is important to think about it in certain contexts. A interesting point raised was whether words gain meaning from what they are not? An example that Adrian used was that the word ‘boy’. It can distinguish itself from the other terms that could have been there like man, lad, son etc.

There are problems with language because there is always a gap between what it means and what we understand it to mean. You can’t guarantee that someone else has understood what you have said based on your intended meaning. Taking it one step further an author or painter may intent for their work to say mean one thing but can the work also become its own thing



Shields, David. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. New York: Vintage, 2011. Print. Extract, PDF

The collage of thoughts really seemed to follow the author’s stream of consciousness – it just flowed from one thought to the next. The structure is what seems like random numbered thoughts that don’t necessarily connect to one another but are all under the umbrella term – collage. Point 362 states that ‘Nothing is going to happen in this book’ and story wise this is true. There isn’t necessary characters or a plot driving the book but if nothing happens in the book does that mean that is it deemed purposeless? I think there is still a point to be made even if the structure doesn’t conform to the usual carefully structured arguments in essays or books.

One thought: Is this an example of form driving content or content driving form? This could be case where the content it driving the form of it or the author has utitlised the form to help get the message across. Individually each “paragraph” has it’s own idea but as a whole what is trying to say?

I wonder if they edited the thoughts or it was just left in the order it was written in. At number 349 the author writes that ‘collage is, in a way, only an accentuated act of editing: picking through options and presenting a new arrangement’. But if I just wrote down all my thoughts and there wouldn’t necessary be in a structured order and no editing is it like a collage? Or does a collage involve editing and it can’t just be a random order? Does there need to be conscious decision in the order of the fragmented content?

In high school, we learnt about cubist painters like Pablo Picasso he would cut up paper fragments and materials similar to create collages. We also attempted our own collages inspired by Pablo Picasso’s guitar collage.

A blast from the past - 'inspired' by Pablo Picasso's Guitar

A blast from the past – ‘inspired’ by Pablo Picasso’s Guitar



Symposium week 6

One of the questions from this week’s symposium was:

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

It led to discussion about books vs. online and if they have shape. In last week’s symposium we discussed how everything online is equally distanced. So receiving news from the US would would the same as from the UK. This is opposite to a book of course as we can’t change the distance we have to a country physically. He went on to say that it doesn’t have a shape because it doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end. I liked Beatty’s point that it “shape shifts”.

Code as the material from has shape but the content doesn’t have shape? Or perhaps we create the shape of the content. We chose which links we will go to next and where it stops and ends because there is no set structure. There is a point that can be made that it doesn’t matter if you read a book from page 1 then skip to page 10 but there is already a set structure within it.

Due to the form of the hypertext world, we are encouraged to link to other things, the more the better almost as we are fulfilling the form. There are new set rules for the medium that are different to books. They don’t need a beginning, middle and end because there are forever linking to other things. However we can choose when to stop reading or where we start reading and I think that is where part of the confusion comes from.