Category: COMM 2219 Networked Media

Actor Network Theory, Bruno Latour

This is not a post for actors.

Good, now. Bruno Latour’s article ‘On Actor Network Theory: A Few Classifications 1/2’ aims to dispel myths about what exactly actor-networks are. Good.

He says that three misunderstandings are due to common usages of the word network itself and the connotations they imply:

  • Network being a common technical meaning in the sense of sewage, or train, or subway, or telephone ‘network’. Recent technologies often have the character of a network, of exclusively related yet very distant element with the circulation between nodes being made compulsory through a set of rigorous paths giving few nodes a strategic character. Nothing is more intensely connected, mroe distance, more compulsory and more strategically organised than a computer network. An actor-network may however lack all the characteristics of a technical-network.
  • The actor-network theory (ANT) has very little to do with the study of social networks. These studies, no matter how interesting, concerns themselves with the social relations of individual human actors – their frequency, distribution, homogeneity, proximity. ANT however extends the word actor – or actant – to non-human, non individual entities. ANT aims at accounting of the very essence of societies and natures instead of the social network which adds information on the relation of humans in the social and natural worlds. Anything, provided it can be the course of an action. It can be institutions (eg. the ABC), individuals, technologies…
  • The actual meaning of the word ‘network’ has ontological (existential) roots; it is a change in metaphors used to describe essences from thinking of surfaces, to filaments, as in, nodes that have as many dimensions as they have connections. Initially, this begs one to think of modern societies as essentially fibrous, thread-like, wiry, ropy but these connotations don’t capture notions of levels, layers, territories, spheres, structure, systems. ANT aims to explain the effects accounted for by those traditional words without having to buy into the ‘ontology’, ‘topology’ and ‘politics’ that goes with them. This theory was developed by students of science and technology claiming that it is impossible to understand what holds societies together without “reinjecting in its fabric the facts manufactured by natural and social sciences and the artefacts designed by engineers.” ANT is therefore the only way to include (‘reinject’) these ideas into the understanding of social fabrics – through a network-like ontology and social theory.

Latour continues that  Actor Network Theory is a simple material resistance argument; strength does not come from concentration, purity and unity, but from dissemination, heterogeneity and the careful plaiting of weak ties. ANT doesn’t start from universal laws – social or natural – it starts from irreducible, unconnected localities, which then, sometimes end in connections.

He calls it a foreground / background reversal. This is what Latour says it the most counter-intuitive aspect of ANT; that there is nothing like networks, there is nothing in between them. Apparently to Latour this makes ANT a reductionist theory, but he goes on to try and demonstrate that it may be a necessary step towards an irreductionist ontology. Brian Morris unpacked this point in class, saying that traditionally approaching critical studies, the way one goes about it is to read the artefact then understand its context and how it works to create meaning in that object. Latour advocates switching that to instead favour the context – complex network.

He begins to characterise networks by delineating some of their properties:

  • Far / close: thinking in terms of networks removes negative proximity – elements which are close when disconnected may infinitely be remote if their connections are analysed, yet conversely infinitely distant appearing objects may be close when their connections are brought back into the picture. “The difficulty we have in defining all associations in terms of networks is due to the prevalence of geography…the geographical notion is simply another connection to a grid defining a metrics and a scale.” The notion of network helps us to lift the tyranny of geographers in defining space and offers a notion which is neither social nor ‘real’ space, but associations.
  • Small scale / large scale: the notion of network allows us to dissolve the micro- macro- distinction that has plagued social theory form its inception. The whole metaphor… A network is never bigger than another one, it is simply longer or more intensely connected. A network notion implies a deeply different social theory.
  • Inside / outside:

Hmmmmm. Will be looking forward to getting some context on this reading next week.

“The biggest money is in the smallest sales”…and Kevin Kelly

This week I revisited a reading Adrian set weeks ago by Chris Anderson called The Long Tail, which I’ve already mentioned here before.

Anderson’s article astutely considers the challenges of broadcast and other media in the Internet Age; from the constricting physics of broadcast technologies that through limited resources rely on aggregating large audiences in one geographic area, to the problem of marketing unique films for profit (in a hit-driven industry). He said:

In the tyranny of physical space, an audience too thinly spread is the same as no audience at all…

But most of us want more than just hits. Everyone’s taste departs from the mainstream somewhere, and the more we explore alternatives, the more we’re drawn to them.

He acknowledges that in recent years this ‘alternative’ content has been ‘pushed to the fringes by pumped-up marketing vehicles’ built to order by industries that desperately need them. He said:

Hit driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody.

Today, Anderson says, with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance, and the differences are profound.

Anderson references Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s s 80/20 rule from Week 8: People generally perceive that only 20% of major studio films will be hits (same for TV shows, games, mass market books)… However, Robbie Vann-Adib CEO of Ecast, a digital jukebox company evidences his own user statistics to counter that 99% of the top 10,000 of his some 150,000 song titles are rented or bought at least once per month. His point is that each month thousands of people put in their dollars for songs that no traditional jukebox anywhere has ever carried. He’s saying that the hit-mindset is old; we think that if something isn’t a hit, it won’t make money and so won’t return the cost of production. What Vann-Adib is discovering is that there is a market for the ‘misses’ too (and because there are so many more of them, that money can add up quickly to a huge new market)!

With no shelf space to pay for and, in the case of purely digital services like iTunes, no manufacturing costs and hardly any distribution fees, a miss sold is just another sale, with the same margins as a hit. A hit and a miss are on equal economic footing, both just entries in a database called up on demand, both equally worthy of being carried. Suddenly, popularity no longer has a monopoly on profitability.

Anderson also puts the misunderstanding that ‘only hits deserve to exist’ down to a lack of understanding of what people want. For instance, the assumption that there is little demand for stuff that isn’t carried by major department or grocery retailers – if people wanted, surely it would be sold, right? This thinking is an equation of mass markets with quality and demand, when in fact it often just represents familiarity, good advertising and a broad and probably shallow appeal. What do we really want is a critical question, now.

These are important lessons for someone thinking of becoming a producer!

What Anderson introduces as the Long Tail in the example of Rhapsody, a subscription-based streaming music service where, in every instance of adding thousands of songs to their already massive library, those songs always find an audience, even if just a few people a month.

“You can find everything out there on the Long Tail.” 

Here there are niches by the thousands, genre within genre within genre. Foreign bands, obscure bands on even more obscure labels – many of which don’t have the distribution clout to get into larger labels. And a lot of crap – which is easily avoidable by smart database searches and go unpaid for unlike the shitty songs hiding in the middle of that $20 CD tracklist. He says:

Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you’ve got a market bigger than the hits.

That’s a big thing to say. Anderson quotes venture capitalist and former music industry consultant Kevin Laws, “The biggest money is in the smallest sales.”

The market that lies outside the reach of the physical retailer is big and getting bigeer. This is the Long Tail.

The reason for this in-depth revisit of Chris Anderson’s article is because I came across a blog by a man named Kevin Kelly. He has multiple websites / pages, and is a really decent example of someone using the Network as a place to connect / share/ host their various interests with an audience. Very interesting place.

He reminded me of Adrain Miles – older guy who’s totally down with it in a way that the Network has somewhat become a driving force of their life. Just watch how animated Adrian gets about the Network in Symposiums – he earns a living from being a teacher of this stuff, and talks of the things he’s shared with his kids about it. Likewise, Kelly set up a hilarious website of Cool Tools he thought his kids should really know about (like excellent quality pencil sharpeners). It’s not difficult to tell that Kelly would have a huge readership; he gets Tweeted about, and even featured in one of the first This American Life episodes! Now look at me spreading his links all over the internet like a devoted fan!

Someone on my Twitter feed linked me to a great post of his titled 1,000 True Fans. He riffs on this idea of the Long Tail by first acknowledging this:

The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But he notices that the people left out of the Long Tail equation are the creators; the artists, the producers etc. Yeah! What happens to us!? His answer to artists wanting to escape the ‘quiet dolrums of minuscule sales’ is to find 1,000 true fans. He says the gist of 1,000 true fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

Hmmmm? Kelly says it way too well for me to not just frigging quote him again:

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

Right. But isn’t that what producing-people have always aimed for anyways – someone to buy their stuff which equals some kind of profit? Maybe not as specifically. Kelly contends that 1,000 is achievable; it happens by very directly engaging ‘lesser fans’ and converting them into True Fans. This means picking up 1,000 people from the sales flatline of the Long Tail and bringing them ‘up’ to the fandom that exists right before the peak of popularity (Kelly has a nifty diagram of this).


Lev Manovich’s words on the Database As Symbolic Form.

This is quite a fascinating subject, I really haven’t come across this idea before. Manovich begins with the proposition that after the novel, cinema privileged narrative as the key form of cultural expression (of the modern age). Today, a ‘computer age’ introduces the database; new media objects that do not tell stories nor contain beginnings or ends but exist as collections of individual items. Database as form. He asks:

What is the relationship between database and another form that has traditionally dominated human culture – narrative?

Manovich is talking about new media’s affordances which appear as computerised collections of items on which users can view, navigate and search; popular multimedia encyclopedias, CD-ROMS as storage devices that have become cultural products and DVDs. The term database, originating out of the computer sciences, is dryly defined as a structured collection of data… Data is stored for fast search and retrieval by a computer, so a database ultimately becomes far more complex than a simple collection of items. Different of types databases (hierarchical, object-oriented etc.) use different models to oirganise data.

Anyways, the important point is that users of new media experience database-like engagement at a basic level. I’m thinking about how I love my Mac’s nifty top-right magnifying glass that so easily let’s me search my entire computer for random files: using only the keyword ‘McLuhan’ I can find in seconds an essay I wrote five years ago on Marshall McLuhan that doesn’t even mention the word in the title of the document. Also, that document is buried so far down in the deep depths of my unorganised Documents folder, there’s no way I’m finding that baby going the long way.

Other than my actual computer, Manovich focuses on newer media. CD-ROMS (digital storage media) – still kinda computery. Wikipedia (popular multimedia encyclopaedias) – also kinda computery. A non-computer-but-new-media example of database he mentions is the DVD. Maybe because they contain menus with subtitle / commentary options? Chapter selection? Well yeah, it is pretty freaking basic, and the only difference is that it can be read on a special computer called a DVD player.

I don’t get what’s special about databses if they are still requiring the use of computer. Doesn’t that mean databases are the same ole’ computer science gadget as always? Maybe they’re being made more broadly engage-able and less IT Guy In The Basement through the employment by new media, like the Museum Tour CD-ROM Manovich goes on about.

Where does narrative come into all of this? Yep, I’l keep reading.

The Atlantic is a wicked resource that I like very much. While snooping, I came across a highly relevant article on the digital reference book, particularly the definitive history of surfing titled The Encyclopaedia of Surfing by Matt Warshaw (2003).

“The difference between the book and the website is sort of like when Dorothy first gets to Oz,” Warshaw explained to me with obvious glee. “Her black and white world is all of the sudden in bright technicolor.”

The article’s author, Mark Lukach describes the practical extinction of ye ole paper encyclopedia:

Reference books, if not fully extinct, are certainly on their last, choked gasps of breath. After a 244 year run, Encyclopedia Britannica stopped printing in 2010, and now focuses solely on its digital encyclopedia, in an effort to compete with Wikipedia.


This week’s ideas were interesting takes on ‘figuring out’ what The Network is, as explored from a sociological perspective (Watts) and the ‘Silicone Valley Joy’ (Anderson).

Anderson identified the interesting offspring of increasingly fragmented viewer- and readerships:

Unlimited selection is revealing truths about what consumers want and how they want to get it in service after service, from DVDs at Netflix to music videos on Yahoo!…People are going deep into catalog, down the long, long list of available titles, far past what’s available at Blockbuster Video…

And on the idea of niche interests, cultures of taste are changing (cue Brian Morris!); as people begin to explore far from the beaten path of Post-Apocalyptic Summer Blockbuster #9546, they discover their taste is not as mainstream as they have been led to believe (which Anderson blames on a lack of alternatives, marketing, and hit-driven cultures).

The network is an exciting realm of opportunity for taste cultures, particularly fannish modes of behaviour.

Consider an American system of television production now churning out television series’ with the incredibly high production values akin to epic film. Writers are empowered to produce, executive produce, screenwrite and direct epic television dramas such as Game of Thrones (HBO), with cash from companies with arms in film production.

At the same time, emerging online communication technologies provide for online fan communities – platforms that allow for an extension of the norms of engagement with television texts. Spin-off web series, cast interviews, behind the scenes videos, bonus scenes, series-dedicated forums of discussion – both of these evolutions have, in Graham Blundell’s words, undoubtedly “intensified the experience of drama in a way without cultural precedence”.


The word ecology continues to surface in classes and symposiums, so I thought I’d flesh it out.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term ecology as:

noun [mass noun]

| the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. 

When I click on the term deep ecology (who knew?), I get something closer to the intended meaning for our Networked practice:

noun [mass noun]

| an environmental movement and philosophy which regards human life as just one of many equal components of a global ecosystem. 

On ‘the network’ as an ecology, Adrain says:

We’re just one actor in this system. We are not the centre and we’re not driving it.

In fact, it also changes us. We have no control over the way Google is re-wiring our brains. A Columbia University study has found that our ability to retain information in the internet age has declined, because we know we can just ‘Google it’. The way in which technolgies have the ability to change our minds means we are just one part of a larger network.

In around 370 B.C, Plato wrote in Phaedrus of the moment Theuth (said to be the inventor of writing) presented his invention to god himself, the King of all of Egypt, Thamus. Thamus would regularly enquire into the uses of inventions brought to him by his people, so that they could become useful to all Egyptians in general. To him came Theuth, who had many inventions but writing was his greatest accomplishment. He claimed, to the King:

“Here is an accomplishment, my lord the king, which will improve both the wisdom and the memory of the Egyptians. I have discovered a sure receipt of memory and wisdom.”

Plato, with exquisite foresight and wisdom, writes Thamus’ insightful reply thus:

“Theuth, my paragon of inventors, the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practice it. So it is in this case; you, who are the father of writing, have out of fondness for your offspring attributed to it quite the opposite of its real function. Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of on their own internal resources. What you have discovered is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. And as for wisdom, your pupils will have a reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgable when they are for the most part quite ignorant. And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society.”

Of course, Plato’s text is ironic; he writes his argument against writing. However what this passage communicates is that writing, as any other new technology (like the internet), can make lame the human faculty that brought it to existence; the power of the mind, leaving only a baseless impression in its place. Our minds are weakening because we have permanent storage for ideas on us everywhere we go, we don’t need to memorise information.

The scope of these ideas, of the network, are here ruminated upon by David Weinberger. He elegantly considers The Network to be as dynamic as a human brain when defining the space of it:

The geography of the Web is as ephemeral as human interest…

The world of the internet is a New World. Its navigation can therefore be problematic if it has few rules of engagement and fewer lines of authority. Of time he says it is like a story in progress, whose narrative waits for the renewed want of the user:

The Web is woven of hundreds of millions of threads like this one. And, in every case, we determine when and how long we will participate based solely on what suits us. Time like that can spoil you for the real world.

On that last bit, Weinberger considers the difference between real-world and internet time. Real-world time is a series of “ticks to which schedules are tied” where internet time doesn’t move beyond the user’s interaction, waiting for the moment they should want.

Unlike real-world selves, online selves are intermittent and most important according to Weinberger, are written. Online selves are crafted; eBay user ‘firewife30’ is a crafted identity. New worlds create new people:

If we’re ambitious, the world appears to await our conquest…we can’t describe our world without simultaneously describing the type of people we are. If we are entering a new world, then we are also becoming new people.

The self that constitutes a continuous body moving through a continuous map of space and time is being re-written by a Web of connections no longer bound to the solid earth; we are said to have gained both the randomness and the freedom of the airborne. I wish it felt that way.

 Knowledge within the network can be unsystematic and uncertified, but because it comes ‘wrapped in a human voice’, Weinberger argues it can be richer and in some ways more reliable:

The lively plurality of voices sometimes can and should outweigh the stentorian voice of experts.

What Weinberger concludes is that the network is based on new assumptions of space, time, self and knowledge: the Web is an enabler for shady self-exploration as much as it gives easy access to transactions of the most mundane: a quilt off eBay?

I am a person who deeply values the capital of knowledge, perhaps more than anything. I love books. One of my greatest fears is Alzheimer’s. I didn’t realise that this would be the territory this post would take on, however I can’t help but find myself longing for a simpler time. When children grow up with strong arms because they’re used to swinging on trees instead of the new kind, who see chiropractors for their unhealthy spines. I’ve started taking an acting class so that I can connect to people by looking in their eyes and responding with an open heart. It’s a simple premise and yet remarkably difficult. What these writings communicate ultimately is that the network is affecting the perceptions we have of ourselves as we engage, but it’s also eroding human’s most primally distinctive feature: our brain, our intelligence. I’d extend that to our beautiful capacity for sensitivity in the real-world. It happens because we aren’t God to the network, we are just a small part of it.

It’s a sad day.

Photo: By author


The ceiling is on the floor. There’s 180-degree approaches coming at me from all sides. My military ways are being tested, and it’s a bit hard. All this radical revolution is a bit taxing, really.

In Film-TV2 my documentary group is hypothesising that a narrative will form through the organic experience of ‘focused exploration’ in our collective seeking out of footage. I was good at producing that short-film-with-blue-print-thing, then WHOAH: there’s a film. Like baking a scone.

I’m also organising a sizable RMIT party to celebrate and showcase student work – the first rave of its kind – and there’s murky role guidelines there. I’m The Promo Team? But I did PR two years ago*. (*Model I behaviour noted, face slap planted. See below).

Journalism, normally defined by its strict hard news Inverted Pyramid, all of a sudden requires me to win a Walkley Award for my investigative feature. Which underbelly hasn’t Channel 9 butchered yet?

And when I think I can settle into a lecture, Adrian Miles denies me just that, in fact I must contribute to it’s precise ‘unlectureness’.  To be fair, I’m absolutely enjoying the process of Networked.

That’s my whinge, which would be pointless without some insights.

I figure that this transition is the kind of essential discomfort that accompanies getting a tooth pulled: it’s for the best, I’ll get through it. Oh, and get over it. I have to admit that the lack of clarity I’m experiencing in the thick of ruminative approaches to work is my equivalent of disorganised. It’s muddy, undefined, formless and unsure. My job isn’t bullet-point clear at this moment, which makes my KPI’s difficult to measure. I’m 100% interested and keen to engage but feel as though I’m shuffling on the spot because inspiration hasn’t struck my feet yet. The ugly closed-mindedness of Model I behaviour has reared its head as I move away from its influence toward Model II; I am currently Double-loop learning. I am publicly testing my assumptions and beliefs.

And now in a glass-half-full kind of way, I submit myself to the shady (read sun dappled) ambiguity of a feeling-out process. Actually, I think a head first dive is in order.


That Building 100, Photo: By author

Last week I attended the RMIT Creative Industries Panel. I got an e-mail, and RSVP’d. I don’t study design, nor have I ever considered myself a designer (until taking this course). So I popped over to that Building 100 to see what I may glean.

A number of interesting people broadly associated with the design industry gave short talks on their practice, and pathways after graduation – many were ex-RMIT. I was probably the youngest person in the room, definitely not many Undergrads there. The lady running the show made some interesting comments in her introduction that somewhat echo what our teachers have been banging on about:

Design will drive Australia into the 22nd century…design is a driver – we have a different view.

This is certainly a reference to the ‘designer toolkit’ that employers are so keen to harness. Yes, design is definitely forward-thinking; I can see that this shift in approach to practice, problems and work will be essential for media industry practitioners. It is so easy at university to submit the assignment and get your HD, which is a worryingly entrenched approach to study (of media and otherwise). I’ve definitely been one of those students who loves to marinate in research, and then basque in the satisfaction of placing one cogent sentence after another. This subject is a 180 for me, and I like the challenge.

Interestingly almost all of the speakers, who ranged from Creative Recruitment Agency chick, Design/Advertising ‘Facilitator’ to Designer of King Kong (the giant beast in that spectacular musical), agreed that being honest about your skills but being keen to learn is valued highly. Googling a ‘how to’ for five minutes is totally acceptable, nobody has to know. This also goes back to one of our early lessons. Anyone can learn what (write a screenplay, Final Cut effect, do x on my computer)our job is to know how to be something, a media practitioner; and that is to be ignited by ideas. Preferably in a ludic fashion; playful, experimental, throwing ideas forward. T-shaped.

One guy, Greg More from the RMIT Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory, appeared to premise his whole practice on a Design Fiction method.  His work in data visualisation uses cameras to capture time and motion, and organise data in virtual environments or ‘digital space’. The result are these wacky, interactive, virtual representations of what would be very dry data. For example, an evolving visualisation of ten years’ worth of Melbourne’s water data as a real-time installation. The point is, when Greg spoke of his practice, he said he couldn’t possibly know what form these visualisations may take until the process begins – data visualisations are a kind of design future that he’s making up as he goes. I loved it when he showed us how he designs video game environments as a way to think about architecture. He also provided my take away idea for the evening, from John Maeda:

Making something simpler isn’t as important as making something clearer.


Q. How do I write and post a blog entry from my phone?

A. It’s all in the app.

Presumably, seeing as you’re a media student and of a certain generation, you own a smart phone. If not, you’re screwed.

1. Download the ‘Wordpress’ app.

2. Once downloaded, open it, and sign in using your media factory username and password. It’ll ask you for your URL too. This is a good sign:

3. You will now see a list of your most recent posts. Up the top where it says ‘Posts’, slide to the right to reveal a menu.

4. In this menu there is a drop pin next to the word ‘Posts’. Tap the ‘ + ’ here, and a new page will pop open that looks a lot like this:

5. Give your new post a title, separate tags with commas, and when you tap the ‘Categories’ box you can (click to) select from your current list of categories which one this post will fit under.

6. Type away in the big, white space. Click ‘Done’ when you’ve finished with text.


To publish:

Tap the ‘Publish’ button at the top far right.

To add a link:

Hold to select the word you’d like to hyperlink. Click the little ‘link’ button and a window will allow you to paste the URL of a website into the dialogue box. You can name it in the box below (the description people will see if they hover over the link on your blog).

To quote:

Highlight the text you’d like to quote and click the ‘quote’ button. You will see some weird code on either side of the person’s words, don’t touch it. Move on.

To add a photo:

Tap the picture of the ‘landscape’ at the bottom far right. Take a photo or chose from your phone library.

To preview:

Tap the picture of the ‘eye’ at the bottom left.

To alter publishing settings:

Tap the picture of ‘cog’ at the bottom left.

To resume writing: 

Tap the picture of the ‘pencil’ at the bottom far left.


The week’s ‘nothing like a lecture’ Symposium was a welcome gear change. Student devised questions posed as prompts for tutors, who then unpacked important ideas from readings and made them relevant. I took many notes. It was productive.

Once again, the question of Design Fiction and how it relates to us at university, popped up. Brian Morris made it clear that Design Fiction is more about the broader ways of making stuff. Design Fiction is an approach to making stuff with motivation and a sense of play:

Design Fiction doesn’t rely on being evidence-based, but makes you re-think what counts as evidence (material you can make use of to speculate about the future but also as much about contemporary worlds we inhabit).

Adrian chimed in saying that large corporations are paying people lots of money to think like designers, like a kind of Speculative Play Time. Currently, it is thought that designers have the right kind of forward-thinking toolkit for dealing with ‘wicked problems’ – the kinds of problems that only create more with every solution, if there is even a solution. Problems facing me, in this context include the rapidly changing nature of media industries, the disruptive nature of the internet and consequently, the continually fragmented engagement with media texts of consumers and audiences. Design Fiction with it’s playful approach to speculation as a practice, provides:

…a robust, simple way to start to think through complexity and those sorts of probelms. Tools to confront the nature of the world we’re going into.

And further on this point, I liked the term imagined futures that came up. It’s almost a better description for Design Fiction. It’s a way to think through possible futures I may be going into. Adrian practices this thinking often in classes – he possesses that ability to think through complex scenarios in an agile (quick and light) way. It’s creative hypothesising. It’s speculative practice.

It was also encouraged in the Symposium to think of ourselves not as content producers, but as knowledge creators. To be an experience designer; to make interactions between users as an experience different to other services. I know this is an important note, and I’m sure the gravity of it will settle on me soon enough.

On the blog, Adrian posed this question:

Simple. What do you think you want to do. (Direct, run a media company, design web sites, invent a reality TV franchise, write screenplays). Got something? Now, it is 2020. Write a design fiction. What do you do in your job in 2020? how do you get paid? what stuff do you make? for what/who? where?…That’s a design fiction question.

Our Wicked Problem

The thought that we as students do not have the agency to pick a DSLR and create content of a decent standard is a lie. Uncle George can do this for free. Why would I put myself in debt to end up on par with Uncle George? It’s our wicked problem. But it also means I should stop being all, “I’m not arty enough to walk around this cool campus with a DSLR around my neck,” and put on a  fucking beret…and that DSLR.


Science  has  provided  the  swiftest  communication  between  individuals;;  it  has provided  a  record  of  ideas  and  has  enabled  man  to  manipulate  and  to  make extracts  from  that  record  so  that  knowledge  evolves  and  endures  throughout the  life  of  a  race  rather  than  that  of  an  individual.

Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic July 1945. The Atlantic. Web. 19 July 2013

I find this quote quite relevant for a snippet out of 1945. Last weekend The Weekend Australian published a feature story in their glossy about a team of historians chipping away at the records of over 70, 000 Tasmanian convicts. Prisoners shipped over from the UK in the 1800’s were incredibly well documented – down to the scars on their bodies and lurgies suffered in transit by boat, to their movements within the gaol system and sometimes beyond. These records are being digitised. The story also pointed out that MIT in the USA are compiling the largest international database of human records ever, in their attempt to digitise/prolong/maintain/get buried under history.