Symposium #8

Some critics argue against technological determinism on the grounds that technology is ‘neutral’ or ‘value-free’, and that what counts is not the technology but the way in which we choose to use it. As the folk saying has it, ‘poor workers blame the tools’. Technology is presented as amoral. If we choose to use technologies such as literacy or computers for repressive rather than liberatory purposes we have only ourselves to blame.

I found the discussion of the neutrality of technologies an interesting angle of thought. Adrian explored different categories of technologies – how they are designed to be used in comparison to how they are used in actuality.

My takeaway idea from the lecture came from the quote “nothing exists abstractly by itself”. It makes a lot more sense when I put this thought in parallel to the neutrality of technology.

My initial thought was that technology could be neutral if it’s not being used, but in fact technology is designed to be used, therefore it cannot exist by itself. It’s just waiting for a user.

Technological Determinism

Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. It seeks to show technical developments, media, or technology as a whole, as the key mover in history and social change. Aka, there is no culture/art without technology.

Most interpretations of technological determinism share two general ideas:

1. that the development of technology itself follows a predictable, traceable path largely beyond cultural or political influence, and
2. that technology in turn has “effects” on societies that are inherent, rather than socially conditioned or produced because that society organizes itself to support and further develop a technology once it has been introduced.

Art & Culture & Techonology – Murphie and Potts

As critic Peter Lunenfeld says, we seem to be living in a state of ‘future present’ – the future appears to be alive in the present moment, happening simultaneously. We are always a step too late. Each time we stop to learn a new version of a software, a newer one is released that exceeds our knowledge.

In a way, Andrew Murphie and John Pott’s Culture and Technology operates as a ‘pause’ in the flow of information and new technologies, acting as a reminder that much in the past is illuminating in relation to the present and future.

Culture & Technology discusses number of important theoretical frameworks. Often contradictory and discontinuous, ranging from what Murphie and Potts describe as the technologically deterministic approaches of Baudrillard and McLuhan, to the cultural materialism of Raymond Williams and on to Deleuze, Guattari and Virilio. The breadth of the frameworks allows us to get a sense of the very multidisciplinary nature of the field of inquiry.

Without a doubt, technology drives culture. There is really no argument to it when we stop and think about how often we use technology. From taking the train to uni to being on your phone while on the train to uni to making a call while being on your phone. Technology is present everywhere, every second of our lives and we don’t really have a choice. It’s how the worlds progressed, its a vital part that make up this culture.

Although I am a bit on the fence about the whole technology = tools. What about finger painting? Indigenous art? Paint + our very own fingers does not involve technology and that still makes a form of art. So does many other tools that are made non-electronically. It seems to me that there is definitely a distinction between tools and technology.

Interactive narrative v.s. Print narratives

Douglas talks about “hypertext” fiction and evaluates how interactive narratives is different from print narratives. Douglas defines hypertexts as “nonsequential writing with reader-controlled links.” She questions how exactly readers can participate in something non-sequentially, considering that language is inherently sequential. Hypertexts can indeed be read nonsequentially, but the inevitable story that is comprised via the reader’s choices is linked electronically and becomes some sort of storyline. The apparent dilemma with definitions of hypertext is the term “sequence,” which is somewhat arbitrary, since anything following something else in a pattern can be a sequence of events.

Douglas also evaluates hypertext by addressing whether or not these narratives tend to privilege any or one order of reading or interpretation. She claims that since hypertexts play with the traditional forms of chronology and completeness, they cannot possibly privilege one reading over another. Moreover she states that interactive narratives like these have no singular, definitive beginnings and endings. Unlike print texts, where one cannot hope to understand the story if they start one-third of the way through, hypertexts allow one to begin in medias res and explore the text from a variety of points. While printed texts dictate the reader’s gradual progression from beginning to end in the way the writer wants him or her to get there, hypertexts allow the reader to make initial decisions about how they would like to pursue the story.

Douglas also asserts that in hypertexts or interactive narratives, readers can only proceed based on the choices they have made, and the interactive element constitutes both the writer and the reader developing the story. Of course, the writer does provide a number of scenarios and pathways, but it is not one complete storyline, and the reader does not necessarily have to pass through every single one in order to “finish” it. Ultimately, it is up to the reader to decide when he or she has had enough of the story, and whether or not all of the elements that they need in order to satisfy themselves have been met. Overall, Yellowlees-Douglas claims that there is no “final cut” in a hypertext, since the experience is about multiplicity and simultaneity, not exhaustive completion.

WWW: World Wide Web

By now the word “hypertext” has become generally accepted for branching and responding text, but the corresponding word “hypermedia”, meaning complexes of branching and responding graphics, movies and sound – as well as text – is much less used. Instead they use the strange term “interactive multimedia”: this is four syllables longer, and does not express the idea of extending hypertext.

— Nelson, Literary Machines, 1992

Are you network literate?

Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chair of LinkedIn and investor in Facebook, Zynga, and Groupon, sees networks.


Hoffman argues that in today’s network age, relationships are primary. He outlines four key attributes for network literacy:

1. Obtain a basic understanding of network technology. Networks are facilitated by technology and so a certain fluency with the technology involved is key. Here it’s less a call for coding than for understanding the capabilities of services like social networks and the differences and similarities between them.

2. Craft your network identity. You are who you know, says Hoffman — but also what they know about you. In a networked age, your identity is multivariate and slightly out of your control. Who you know shapes who you are.

3. Understand network intelligence. This is more than simply understanding how to access information. Access is no longer the issue. It’s how to find the right information through your network. If someone is trying to connect to someone at Sony, for example, you need to think about the nature of the information needed and find the right connection, as opposed to simply looking for someone with Sony on their CV.

4. Understand network capabilities. People are still focused today on information instead of what Hoffman sees as more important today — communities and networks. Aligning your focus more on the network and surrounding yourself with the right people in your networks will change the way you approach problems and advance through life.

Form v.s. Content

The separation of form from content is beneficial in a general sense in the context of designing interfaces to web content, and, specifically, as a way of making such content accessible. By using structural markup exclusively to delineate sections of one’s documents, and avoiding the use of any format markup, there is a greater opportunity to deploy that content in a wider context, be it desktop personal computers, smaller hand held devices, or intermediate sized internet appliances. The use of style sheets permits the presentation of the same content in this variety of contexts, and, simultaneously opens the door to alternative interfaces for those with disabilities.

Sharing Economy – Next Big Thing.

I am a huge fan of this phenomenon that crept up in recent years. This is next level recycling. People nowadays not only feel good about the act of recycling but are also benefiting real money from it.

A closed Facebook group PPENNYLANE SELLING with 3000+ members is making girls happy all across Australia. Members post fashion items/furniture/beauty items (even life scale Ryan Gossling cardboard cut-outs) that they no longer need and offer to it’s next potential owner. The concept is so brilliantly simple and addictive on so many levels. Poor uni students like myself no longer have to pay ridiculous money for that pair of Alexander Wang boots on the wish list. With a quick ‘SEEKING’ post chances are some rich gal from Toorak is willing to part ways with whatever (designer or not) you’re on the hunt for. Less money goes out and some money comes back for something thats no longer used. Everyone wins!

Shamelessly, i am guilty of compulsive hoarding (and impulse buying but let’s not even go there). I categorise my wardrobe with the good ol’ ‘maybe i’ll wear that again one day’ excuse, ultimate girl problem. This is when clutter starts to build and i am left with a bunch of clothes that gets absolutely zero attention. This might just explain why girls are always complaining about not having anything to wear when they have a fully stocked closet. But we all have that mutual understanding.

Yesterday i strapped on that bum bag at the Camberwell Sunday markets and found new homes for all my pre-loved goods. It really proved that one’s trash is another’s treasure. I mean if you really want to pay me $5 for that tacky Cotton On top with ‘PINK’ on it …by all means.

It was very liberating. But not as liberating as paying off that fat credit card debt with money you didn’t even know you had.

Get recycling!!!

cash munee


image source:

Search engine optimization. A term i investigated today.

It’s the process of affecting the visibility of a website/page in a search engine’s organic search results. As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.

So basically web pages equipped with links to keywords/tags are all little fishes floating on the surface of the ocean. A big fishing net (Google) drops to catch all of them while ones without as many links to keywords sink down the bottom.