“The Internet is the technological basis for the organizational form of the Information Age: the network.”
This quote comes from Manual Castells (again, sorry I must be obsessed!) who with his network theory believe in technological determinism – the discussed phenomenon from the ‘unlectures’. Castells arguments are that the way we organise as people in social public networks is only possible because of the way technologies has evolved. Before networks were hierarchically controlled whereas the technologies of today allow individuals to have more power in larger networks. The whole theory about power in networks I already wrote about, so feel free to read that one also. OK back on track… So Castells also argues that no one can not not get influenced by the digital media today and that is because the technologies in our societies are the ones that set the frames around our social behavior. At least according to Castells. Niels Ole Finnemann critisises Castells. Finnemann argues that the Internet is the way it is because there is a demand in society. What he is trying to say is that the Internet does not define our society today, we define the Internet and its attributes.
It might be slightly off topic but underneath is a very good Ted Talk about how Kevin Kelly thinks technology will evolve and what technologies actually mean in our everyday lives:
This is a history about how the use of Big Data can target customers and even figure out when a teen girl is pregnant before her own father does:
Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. A statistician named Andrew Pole employee at Target looked at historical purchasing data for all the female customers who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past and found the following:
“As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.”
So, Target send out coupons for baby items to female customers who achieved those ‘pregnancy scores’. One day an angry man showed up in a Target shop outside of Minneapolis, yelling at the employees for sending his daughter these coupons when she was still in high school. Well… Unfortunately the coupons weren’t send to the wrong costumer – the girl was indeed pregnant! Is this kind of Big Data use unethical when it can interfere in people’s private lives? One thing is sure, companies like Target make a lot of money of targeting their costumers with the use of Big Data.
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 Dataand 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!
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.
“The Long Tail” was the central reading of the discussion in this weeks ‘unlecture’. The ‘panel’ discussed the recommendations hierarchy of the free-market model and how it has changed with the internet. The way taste is divided in to different networks today, when we search online is not only defined by our demographics (age, gender, etc) but also by the way we move around online by clicking, searching an so on. So network clusters form hereby but as Adrian said; different platforms have quite different recommendation hierarchies. With that being said, I’m not sure I totally understand the way this really works.
“Does a network have a center? Or do we all create centers for our own networks?” This question was also a part of this weeks ‘unlecture’. Brian don’t think so, Elliot said it depends on the subject, theme, etc. of the network. Adrian argued that networks outside of the internet do have centers, like for an example the center of the royal family in the UK would be Buckingham Palace. When it comes to networks in the internet they won’t have a center but there will be some sort of a power structure inside those. Lots of links gives power. According to Manuel Castells (2009) a network society is a society wherein the social structures are build upon networks and the links between those. Castells defines the power inside those networks as:
”Power is the relational capacity that enable a social actor to influence asymmetrically the decisions of other social actor(s) in ways that favor the empowered actor’s will, interest and values” (Castells, 2009, p. 10).
When Castells talks about power he makes it clear that power inside networks can’t be equally divided between the nodes (the different actors) and the different nodes can each possess different kinds of power. Castells argue that the nodes that possess the ability to create networks and to create relations between networks, possess the network-making power and this is where the actual power is located in the network society. As Adrian said it might not be possible to identify a center of networks but with Castells as a helping hand it is possible to identify power inside of networks. So maybe it is possible to claim that Adrian and “The Networked Media” blogsite have the actual power in the network of The Networked Media subject, because he acts like a programmer/switcher that combines the nodes in the network – the students studying Networked Media.
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.
So, how does hypertext relate to storytelling in different media? During the beta symposium I thought about one of my other subjects this semester – “Introduction to Advertising”. When doing a advertising campaign it is important to choose the correct media channels for the campaign in order to target the right audience. With hypertext and hyperlinks it is possible for advertisers to create a whole universe around a brand, using different platforms and types of media and furthermore different kinds of storytelling.
Adrian said that the why the hypertext subject figure in Networked Media, is because hypertext is about small parts that together perform a whole. It is not about navigation, it is about structure. The IT University Copenhagen is annually launching the “48HourGames” which shortly is about programmers, creative gamers and others having 48 hours to complete some sort of a computer game. People behind the event created a documentary about the event in 2012 and it was first shown at the CPH DOX as a interactive documentary in a cinema. The documentary is a good example of how hypertext can interfere with different genres, and therefor extend the genre and its attributes.
Sorry about this post. It might seem weird but I’m about to hand in an assessment this friday together with a COMPLETED blog audit from. As you can see underneath I’ve been missing out on some of the task during my blogging this semester… so have fun with it!
Embed a Vine clip in a blog post:
Embed a instagram video in a blog post:
Embed a instagram photo in a blog post:
Send something from my phone to my blog (this part was done on my iphone):
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…