This weeks ‘unlecture’ was about a lot of different network things and terms. What I found interesting from that ‘unlecture’ in that theatre were two things. First the term Big Data and Adrians thoughts about what happens every time we use our everyday card in supermarkets – the companies collect data but why? Another thing I found interesting was a more heavy theoretical discussion about the way we view the technological dependent society we live in today. Do our human actions create the technologies we use or do the technologies we use create the way we act as humans? Do the Internet actually dictates how we should act in our everyday lives?
This will be what this week’s posts will be about!
Week 9’s ‘unlecture’ was primarily about the Barabási readings for week 8, which I also wrote about yesterday. In there I wrote about my confusion about his mathematically founded theory and his mentioning of the 80/20 rule. Well I suppose that’s ok, at least Adrian shared some of my thoughts when he said: “The 80/20 rule – don’t know why that rule rules. It’s a simple model, but I don’t know where it comes from and why it isn’t 60/40”. I guess I’ll just leave it there and focus on other thoughts from the ‘unlecture’ and the Barabási readings.
The question about networks having centers, were again a part of the ‘unlecture’ today. Adrian said something interesting about how hubs are defined by how many connections they have, in and out. That made me think about how a network as LinkedIn works and how the nodes inside that networks organise themselves. If you as a node know the hubs, the people who are connected to a lot of people, you would have easier access to a greater network, than if you only know newcomers in the LinkedIn network. I don’t know if that is preferable, but I do know fellow students from Denmark who have been offered very relevant jobs because of their network on LinkedIn.
Working with the term ‘hub’ got me thinking about what Brian said today about how networks are dynamic and that they are growing. Further more he talked about how the network of cities are changing over time and therefor the hubs changes location. That makes sense and if you look at some sort of flight plan, it is probably easy to identify the cities with the most connections, in and out like with the hubs on LinkedIn. But but but.. I am just wondering. Wouldn’t the hub be different in terms of what you are looking for? What I am trying to say is; if a filmmaker is searching for some sort of a nature location the hub might appear as a small town on Iceland, and if the family are looking for the next vacation location the hub might appear as Kuta on Bali. Again on LinkedIn, a ‘hub person’ for me might not be an international well known doctor from New York, but he might be to a person studying medicine.
I’m a bit confused now…
Barabási, the Hungarian-American physicist born in Transylvania, Romania is known for his work in the research of network-theory. Barabási played a role in the discovery of the scale-free network concept, which figures in the category of statistical physics of complex systems. A scale-free network is a network whose degree distribution follows a power law, at least asymptotically. That is, the fraction P(k) of nodes in the network having k connections to other nodes goes for large values of k as where y is a parameter whose value is typically in the range 2 < y < 3, although occasionally it may lie outside these bounds (say what!?). In the readings for week 9: “The 80/20 Rule” and “Rich get Richer” Barabási explains his network-theory and how it developed.
I can’t say I totally understand his scale-free network concept. I think it seems complex and way to mathematical for me to understand compared to Castells and his power-in-networks theory. Barabási’s theory is clearly grounded in the positive ontology and the assumption that there is an objective reality ‘out there’ that we can observe, represent and make corresponding thrush claims about. Therefor the theory’s epistemology (what knowledge is and how we can acquire it) dualistic – it’s separating mind and matter. What I am trying to say is that Barabási’s theory measure data in order to understand the way we are all connected online, which for me seems kind of cryptic. What about questions like: “Why do nodes link to preferential nodes?” and “Why do nodes add themselves to networks and make them grow?”. Aren’t nodes the same as individuals and do individuals not have different demographics and psychographics which make them act and interpret differently inside networks, like Stuart Hall would say?
I’m not saying that the theory of the scale-free network doesn’t make sense at all, I’m just saying that I think there are missing pieces in the puzzle.
In this weeks “unlecture” Brian, Adian and Elliot discussed the question: “What kind of genre is an interactive documentary? Is it still a documentary, or would you say that it is a new genre because of the hyper textual interface?”. In my week 6 post I wrote about the interactive documentary without knowing the answer to this question. Adrian described the difference between fiction and documentary as the following; fiction is about a world whereas documentary is about the world. If that’s the case, then the interactive documentary is still a documentary, because it is still about the world even though the audience of the interactive documentary decides the final plot of the movie.
This leads to the interesting thought about the author having any control at all. Brian, Adrian and Elliot did not agree about whether the author has control or not, and the same goes for cultural theorists Harold Lasswell and Stuart Hall. Lasswell compare the society with a biological organism, which in this case means that the author can manipulate his readers the way he wants. Lasswell would therefor argue that the author has complete control of the way his words get interpreted by his audience – communication is transmission – a one way communication where the audience, society is considered a group of people without any individuality at all. In the opposite corner, Hall argues that these people have individual demographics which makes it possible for each of them to decode the authors message differently. In this argument the author will not have the same control over the interpretation.
This weeks readings were about hypermedia and hypertexts. Vannevar Bush and the Memex machine show the principle behind hypertexts – a non-linear example of a science relationship that are built up associatively. Theodor Nelson defines hypertexts as text pieces which relates to each other through hyperlinks. Nelson describes how hypertexts may create new forms of writing which better reflect the structure of what we are writing about, and the readers of those hypertexts might follow their interests of thoughts when reading, instead of following the chronological path already made by the writer. Furthermore he claims that people have been speaking in hypertexts codes all their lives without knowing it.
With today’s online networked media we are used to using hyperlinks and reading in the hypertext-mode especially when reading blogs, but also when we are reading news articles etc. And it works: “It is in many orders of magnitude the largest collection of human writings and works in history. It is far more robust than networks far smaller, yet it was created without managers” (Weinberger 2002 – about the Web). This is where the power of crowd-sourcing gets interesting. When looking at Wikipedia it is possible to describe it as self-evaluating because of the size of the network involved. Interesting if you ask me…
Thought about not doing this week’s “unlecture” post, but since I ran in to the group of teachers (National Tertiary Education Union) who were actually the reason for this week’s cancelled “unlecture”, I took some photos. Speculative thoughts about speculative talks in the “unlecture” will be back next week – week 6!
This weeks ‘unlecture’ was again performed differently by Adrian and his accomplices. But if you ask me, it worked. I think that the 50 minutes now contained a lot of interesting points from different perspectives. Therefor I have quite a lot of keywords in my notebook to write about even thought this weeks subject was ‘Design Fiction’ again. Apparently I missed out on a few interesting points when it comes to ‘Design Fiction, but I think that Brian explained the difference between ‘Design Fiction’ and ‘Science Fiction’ in an understandable way: ‘Design Fiction’ is speculating about how the actual design is going to fit in to an organisation, institution, society etc. ‘Science Fiction’ is more keen on speculate about the one technology and how it works. Brain also argued that ‘Design Fiction’ is humble and that it is not about creating the perfect solution and therefor it is not about saving the planet with one great technology solution. No, ‘Design Fiction’ is about “what people do matter”.
The “unlecture” of week 3 was not like last week. I spend 50 minutes in the theatre listening to Adrian talking, and after class I only remembered what would be 15 seconds of talking. But that doesn’t mean that the 15 seconds I remember wasn’t important, in fact I think these 15 seconds might be the summary of what Adrian was trying to tell us during the 50 minutes:
“People, this is an invitation to dance. Just because you don’t know the steps it’s not an excuse to not join in”
The readings for this week – week 3, were about Design Fiction (DF). So what is DF? According to Matthew Ward DF is: “DF as a pedagogic practice allows students to think about the future (consequences, possibilities, actions and events) through the very material of their practice.” So DF is a practice were we allow ourselves to work with a set of future expectations while producing ideas. We use the “what if”-question as a support to the otherwise creative thinking that has no boundaries. Therefor with DF we create knowledge in the frames of knowing about the future.
The article “Sci-Fi Writer Bruce Sterling Explains the Intriguing New Concept of Design Fiction” is about Bruce Sterling and his explanation of DF. When I read the article I didn’t really understand the concept, but I liked the examples presented in the article. Especially the one where an iPad is used as an sci-fi prop in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” from 1969. I bet that no one imagined that the iPad actually would become real in todays society.
This weeks readings was about Chris Argyris‘ theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning. When reading the text I thought I understood the main idea of the theory, but didn’t really get why we had to read something about organizational learning. That might also have been because my mind was loaded with questions about; “how do I turn on my spam filter” and “how do I make that damn YouTube video appear as an image in my post!?” (I’m pretty green when it comes to blogging). But after attending week 2’s lecture, I suddenly saw why Adrian wanted us to read this piece.
When it comes to a blog as a medium and as a tool to learn by doing in class, it’s different from what most students are used to. We are used to being told and to listen. But by implementing the blogging culture into our learning, we might change the values that comes with learning, and if we do the double-loop has done it’s work and we can now begin to expand our learning capabilities: “It is only by interrogating and changing the governing values, the argument goes, is it possible to produce new action strategies that can address changing circumstances. (Smith, M. K. (2001) ‘Chris Argyris: theories of action, double-loop learning and organizational learning’, the encyclopedia of informal education, p. 10)
Source: (Salem Mafari, 9 Oct. 2011)