Category: Readings

Readings: The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article

Habermas, J 2009 ‘The Public Sphere: An Ancyclopedia Article’, in Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, pp. 73-78

Habermas’ conception of the Public Sphere requires the following: (Normative claim. “Should” does not equal actual conditions or what “is”)

– Access to citizens

– Freedom of association

– Freedom of assembly

-Reasoning public — — — (the bourgeois public sphere)

-Media of communication

-The general interest.


“Only when the exercise of political control is effectively subordinated to the democratic demand that information be accessible to the public, does the political public sphere win an institutionalised influence over the government through the instrument of law-making bodies.” pp. 73

“Through mere opinions (cultural assumptions, normative attitudes, collective prejudices and values) seem to persist unchanged in their natural form as a kind of sediment of history, public opinion can by definition come into existence only when a reasoning public is presupposed.” – pp74


The historical context of Habermas’ public sphere was the emergence of the concept in society. And the distinction between society and state where society represents the private individuals and state the governing bodies.


“… the link to devine authority which the Church represented, that is, religion, became a private matter. So-called religious freedom came to insure what was historically the first area of private autonomy.” pp74

“Continuous activity now corresponded to the permanence of the relationships, which with the stock exchange and the press had developed within the exchange of commodities and information.” pp75

The Liberal Model of the Public Sphere

The liberal model was the institution of the concept into public life. Driven by the bourgeois class.


“Newspapers changed from mere institutions for the publication of news into bearers and leaders of public opinion…” pp76

“the press remained an institution of the public itself, effective in the manner of a mediator and intensifier of public discussion, no longer a mere organ for the spreading of news but not yet the medium of a consumer culture.” pp76

Public Sphere in the Social Welfare State Madd Democracy

Where the Public Sphere sort of works and sort of doesn’t. It has worked in that there is a “normative claim that information be accessible to the public” however the state still plays a role in determining the conditions of society without respect to the public sphere model of collective decision making.


Laws which obviously have come about under the “pressure of the street” can scarecly still be understood as arising from the consensus of private individuals engaged in public discussion.” pp77

“The very words “public relations work” betray the fact that a public sphere must first be arduously constructed case by case, a public sphere which earlier grew out of the social structure.” pp77

“The demand that information be accessible to the public is extended from organs of the state to all organisations dealing with the state/ To the degree that this is realised, a public body of organised private individuals would take the place of the now-defunct public body of private individuals who relate individually to each other.” pp78


Film and TV1 reading reflection

Select from one of the readings from week 1 or 2 and briefly describe two points that you have taken from that reading. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you

Millard, K. 2006, Writing for the Screen: Beyond the Gospel of Story, Scan Journal, Vol 3, Number 2.

Reading Millard’s text felt a lot like learning about Grammar to me. Where she highlights the cliches to avoid and the rules to follow when writing for the screen and then goes on to advocate breaking those rules but only when you know how to. Like ‘Never start a sentence with Because or And’ etc.

To me it seemed that Millard was trying to convey the invaluable quality that cinema affords the creator in it’s ability to capture magic. Millard quotes Pomeranz (2006) in saying that “Cinema has certain qualities, and it’s the image. Sometimes this image has its own breathing or tempo. It has to linger, and will linger because you want to have more”. From my understand Millard is highlighting that part of cinema is rolling the camera and being available to capture as much as possible; that you can craft the perfect script and exercise maximum control over every element of the shoot, but that if you are not open to lightning striking and moving with the unexpected to discover new things, you wont be doing your art justice.

As someone who aspires to create art in some capacity I don’t think i’m alone in finding it difficult to relinquish the notion of control lest it means also relinquishing the sense of ownership to the work that I am entitled to feel. Millard confronts that impulse in me, and encourages the rational understanding of the potential benefit of fresh eyes and random influence and collaboration whether with other people or just with running with the real life interruptions to planned activities.

Millard also quotes McKee, and if i’m honest i’m not sure I have a complete grasp of Millard or McKee’s assertions. McKee is quoted with “While the ever-expanding reach of the media now gives us the stories to send beyond borders and languages to hundreds of millions, the overall quality of storytelling is eroding… The art of story is in decay, and as Aristotle observed twenty three hundred years ago, when storytelling goes bad, the result is decadence.” (1997)

I am not sure whether ‘The art of story is in decay’ is a comment on the decline in quality of story, or if it is that artfulness is found by exploring the grittiness of life. In fact, I have discovered through the help of my friend wikipedia that I have had a very limited understanding of the word decadence to mean indulgence and excess and never appreciate it’s origin being decay. I am going to have to think on what this quote means more… It struck me originally and I took it to be a comment on an overexposure to stories, leads to an overexposure to bad stories and we as a public are conditioned to accept and expect stories to follow these poor models…

I’ll return to this, I’m not convinced I understand exactly what Millard is intending with this quote yet.





The Long Tail

The thing I took from this reading was encouragement. Having just attended an Australian Cinema lecture dedicated to the difficulty of receiving funding, the inevitable decrease in funding under the Abbot government, and the demand by funding bodies for genre film, it’s easy to feel deflated about the pathways available to me in any creative fields.

The Long Tail however leads me to hope that products that cater to niche markets have a better chance of thriving now than they ever did. Networks have enabled us to remove the need for tangible, geographically bound distribution; where pre-networks a film(or any other product) may have had a 3 person market for a store’s local reach, can now realise it’s potential (and much larger) market because geography and shelf space no longer is a factor.

Of course we will still need to ponder the magic equation of pricing, maximising our supply and demand balance and profits and how to source funding and go on to produce a product. But also that we may get more differentiation back into popular culture. That funding bodies wont so adamantly shy away from risky projects because it’s not actually so hard to turn a profit when you’re releasing online.

The Long Tail offered three simple rules:

#1 Make everything available

#2 Cut the price in half. Now lower it

#3 Help me find it.

I spent last year living in the United States and got to  become hooked on Netflix. Having seen the effectiveness of luring our taste down into the Long End by making connections between our watch history I was able to discover films I would never have accessed before. Having seen the process at work and appreciated the process, I hope this tendency of distribution can only mean good things for the industry going forward.


Reconfiguring Narrative

I’m still playing catch up a bit with the readings on hypertext after a very hectic week last week. Elliot asked us to consider what we would think of a story that changed every time we read it (I’m recalling here and could be wrong so apologies if I go down an entirely divergent track – but that’s kinda the point of this class no?)

Anyway my immediate reaction to this question was “But they do change every time we read them, or at least the good ones do” Because as we get older, and we go back to favourite novels and each time bring with us a year’s more life experience and different priorities we notice completely different things or empathise with a character in a completely new way or suddenly “get” what that character was doing etc.

The reason I bring this into the hypertext discussion is because it’s all about variables, and in the unlecture Brian spoke about how everything has a precedent and I think there’s some link between how much of a variable we can be in the experience of a story that’s the traditional beginning/middle/end structure, and that maybe that’s part why our curiosity has drawn us into hypertext… I’m not quite sure how to draw it all together but there’s something there for me.

The Reconfiguring Narrative lay these variables out quite clearly:

1. Reader choice, intervention, and empowerment

2. Inclusion of extralinguistic texts (images, motion, sound)

3. Complexity of network structure

4. degrees of mulitplicity and variation in literacy elements such as plot, characterization, setting and so forth.

And I guess what I got from this is that there’s a spectrum of stories and narrative structure and hypertext and depending how much each variable presents itself, how many of the variables are present and how they interact dictates where in this spectrum they fit in.

The reading also spoke about linearity and the readers need for closure. That if each lexia provides some form of closure the reader’s needs can be satisfied while still facilitating the hypertext experience. It was really interesting to consider author’s like Dickens as the precursor to this with the serial and the necessity to provide some form of conclusion while still leaving the broader story open to continue. In the world of hypertext though,

Linearity, however, now becomes a quality of the individual reader’s experience within a single lexia and his or her experience following a path, even if that path curves back on itself or heads in strange directions.

It is mind boggling to me to think of tackling so many variables whilst being able to provide for some kind of linearity at the same time.

This also leads me onto a though from the unlecture where Adrian was speaking about music and how we accept repetition within music but not through text. That was really interesting to me and trying to conceive of how coming across the same text via various contexts within the one “world” would feel… and maybe that brings me back to what I was discussing at the start of the post about re-reading books and bringing new experiences which lead to new discoveries through the text.

Reconfiguring Narrative also discusses how in informational hypertext there is the necessity to employ rhetorics of orientation, navigation, and departure to orient the reader. Conversely the reading argues that successful hypertext and poetry does not always facilitate the navigation in this way which results in the readers being unable to make particularly informed or empowered choices.

I am going to come back to this, fatigue is getting the best of me.


Readings Wk4 – As We May Think

Vannevar’s article was enjoyable for me for two reasons. 1. I loved in high school when my Physics teacher would go off on tangents and start telling us stories about Newton and Einstein and the history of science – it was always so fascinating to me and pretty reliably more interesting than studying friction or kinetics or radio waves. So I enjoyed his brief discussion of the glory days of science when the giants came together to work. 2. We got to see speculative thinking in action as he pondered about the future of the camera.

Vannevar’s thoughts on the camera reminded me of reading Orwell’s 1984 for the first time and seeing how Orwell’s creations had slipped into the modern world. Newspeak felt like abbreviations for text messaging and unfortunately, while not as horrifying as Orwell’s, Big Brother had penetrated society. I guess my point here was more that we can see the effects of design fiction. That letting our imaginations run wild can provide inspiration for future designers with better technology – as much as a terrible idea can prompt a good one. It also brings into the question of was this person great at predicting a future event/product or did the event/product only see the light of day because the prediction inspired it.

It also inspired some divergent thoughts for me of whether we’d reach a day when a lifetime wasn’t enough time to allow for progress because of all the information one would have to learn/grasp first. Unlikely… but i’ll admit I pondered it.





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

Written by Comments Off on Readings Wk4 – As We May Think Posted in Readings

Design Fiction Readings

This week’s readings discussed the conceptual approach to design known as design fiction. My takings from the interview with Bruce Sterling and the article “Design Fiction as Pedagogic Practice” by Matthew Ward, was that our design space should not be limited by the technology that exists in reality. That development relies on us speculating what could exist in the future in order to close the gap between the imagined and reality.

By removing the constraints of reality from the design process we can explore a full range of possibilities for whatever we are designing. While it may not be possible to create the end point of your ideas, by exploring unhindered we can create a pathway of invention to make it possible in the future.

Chris Argyris Reading

Argyris’ theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning definitely challenged my assumptions about my own learning and interaction with people in both professional and personal life.

It seems simple in hindsight to assume that my impression of the world is completely formed around my own assumptions. However that wasn’t as clearly obvious as it should have been. I am a TED talk ( addict and always find myself watching talks based on education or organisational behaviour, so Argyris’ theories sparked a natural interest for me. I enjoy the concept of organisations functioning with a healthy double-loop approach to thinking.

Argyris states that “human reasoning, not just behaviour, can become the basis for diagnosis and action” and I am becoming increasingly aware of how reasoning and behaviour are rarely both considered when reacting to actions. It was also interesting to me that Argyris defined supervision’s role as straddling the gap between theory-in-use and espoused theory amongst employees. It was a very succinct definition and reframed my impression of the role of the supervisor.