…consequences of Technological Symbiosis

This is a follow-on post from my last one on the reading this week Ten Dreams of Technology where one aspiration is that of symbiosis with technology that it might enhance our normal capacities as humans. I mentioned a game in that last post too, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a game I’m revisiting recently with newfound perspectives in technology and it’s place within society and culture.  Continue reading

My weekend!

I spent the weekend as Media at Shadowloo Showdown, and wrote on my experience there. Check it out on my other blog! I found the idea of a scale free network operated within the event environment interestingly enough; the way the venue was setup didn’t create one central hub of activity, rather people were spread out and formed their own little networks within the network. This is rather unique to most other gaming type events where you usually have one big stage that demands everyone’s attention.

The first piece of content we’ve produced is also online, check that piece out here! I worked with friend and Journalism student Joshua Clark who did the write up while I focused on filming and taking photographs. I’ll be working on a video over the week from the footage I have, and hopefully have it up by Saturday.

Doing that meant I didn’t have any time to work on Uni assignments over the weekend so prepare to have a handful of blog posts put up this week.

Lev Manovich: Database as Symbolic Form

I had a read of this extract but I must say it was a bit confusing. I’m not entirely sure what Manovich was getting at apart from his suggestion that Narratives and Databases are at odds with one another. I gather Manovich is discussing these things in terms of storytelling and narrative, and how “New Media” prefers a more non-linear approach to it via databases and user input. Even then it doesn’t seem to coalesce into any particularly strong ideas.

I did like the bit about video games though, and the fact Will Wright was quoted, and a thought that came from that section was how competitive video game players learn the game’s algorithms to try and beat their opponents. Quake in particular is a great example, being a legacy competitive game, where the game’s core mechanics were so familiar to the players they could manipulate them in ways that seemed superhuman to more casual players. Similarly Brood War was infamous for some of it’s poor design aspects – such as maximum selection limits, and micromanagement – that when perfected, were a sign of true mastery.

…but yeah, still confused about that reading there.

Technology and Culture


This 80/20 rule seems tenuous to me. It could be because I’ve never erred in the favour of mathematics, nor do I have any statistical evidence of this sort of phenomenon. If I were to put it in my own way, I guess it could be that as a society we crave leaders and as such there emerge central, verdant hubs of activity or mass. Just like we have government whom we vote for yearly (I think? I’ve only voted once so far) we place our faith (well at least a portion of it) into these parties who collate said faith and direct it toward various faculties in the form of financial or parliamentary support.

The graph on page 71  makes the whole concept more lucid for me, in the shape of an asymptotic graph. In relation to last week’s discussion on The Long Tail this fits as there remains a scattered majority of consumers interested in few, specific niche things.

I can’t say I was at this week’s symposium, so I’m not entirely sure what may have been discussed there about this 80/20 rule, but at least for me it seems simple enough if not entirely useful to know, self-evident even. Something I might chase up my classmates about.

Douglas Reading; When is Hypertext writing?

I had never heard of Titanic: An Adventure Out of Time before so it’s piqued my interest when it was used as a basis for discussion of Hypertext. Long before the likes of Dragon Age, Fable, Mass Effect, The Walking Dead (the game, that is) this game existed allowing players to choose their own branches of conversation. As a gameplay mechanic this is great fun for a player, but as a story form it’s a brilliantly dynamic way of giving a sense of agency to the players.

It seems to me that through the development of hypertexts the more fragmented it is, and the more control a user has over their interaction with it, the more hypertext it is, as it gets further and further away from the traditional text. An issue arises though: at what point does the hypertext stop being a story, and start being the user’s own writing? I mean, it really depend on how the hypertext is portrayed. To not be considered a story it would have to offer infinite choices to the user, similar to real life. A number can never reach infinite, so I guess a Hypertext could never reach that point.

I figure then, Hypertexts are not entirely freeform. A story world would have to be constructed first and then from that the writer would have to break apart the narrative and then reconstruct it loosely enough to allow multiple branches of narrative.

I kind of lost where I was going with that but ANYWAY. I think I was trying to work out the reason Hypertext exists in story form. Although, at that, can we definitively call a Hypertext story hypertext? Is Hypertext not a form that allows it’s reader to enter at any point and travel to another, not strictly, linear point? Perhaps, pertaining to the title of this post, Hypertext is always approaching writing – in that it tries to offer a fluid, user driven narrative experience – but never reaches it simply because the option available have already been defined by the writer.

Regardless, I will not hesitate to champion the conversation branches of Mass Effect.

Genesis of the Internet

This was quite a humbling piece to read. To think that only 20 something years ago a system that I spend a vast majority of my time engaging with was still a concept being flogged to the general public to be met with some doubt.

I spend virtually (literally) all of my time on the Internet (or the World Wide Web as I believe is properly denoted as) and to see a book written about it’s basic function during a time prior to it’s existence is fascinating. I, somewhat jokingly somewhat seriously, claim the Internet as my homeland because in terms of the eclectic nature of my knowledge and interests I seem most influenced by it’s inter-connected nature as a person. My favourite media is produced solely for distribution over the World Wide Web and I revere it as the most useful tool in my life for essentially any activity.

This reading starts off with a preamble explaining to the reader how to engage with the book in a way that best emulates HyperText (and subsequently HyperMedia) in that it is interconnected. The document states that some readers may not understand it, and some may do, and reading that now sounds very strange indeed. Of course I know how HyperText works (or in a more modern way, Hyperlinks)! Why would I need that explained to me?

This shows the drastic changes in perspective we have in today’s society compared to back then in the late 80’s. How awful it must have been to lack an automatic hierarchy of filing web pages and media over a global network. How terrible to have had to buy music in person and physical form, as well as books, photographs, or any medium! What an absolute nightmare to have had to manually arrange and organise file structures so that another user wouldn’t be hopelessly lost trying to locate a single file (although, that can still be a problem, I don’t get why some people can’t use proper file naming and saving techniques).

In terms of Design Fiction, like the other reading for this week, this is precious context for a network we now take for granted. We expect free Wi-Fi with our large fries or latte nowadays, else find yourself lunching in some primitive food establishment. Of course it doesn’t have quite the same foresight as the 1945 design fiction example, but the ‘what if’ situation of an interconnected network is, independently, a simple concept. Immensely useful, but simple. Fast forward ten, twenty years and the growth is mind blowing.

20th Century Design Fiction

Image Source: The Verge

This reading was interesting, right up to the mention of tiny cameras on a man’s spectacles, then it became amusing. Design fiction ripped straight from 1945 foretold (in a way) the coming of Google Glass! If ever there was an example of design fiction becoming reality, this would be it. Continue reading