this week’s unlecture was virtually just reflecting on the course and all of the unlectures before it… it was a summary and ‘wrapping up’ on why we did each topic (speculative thinking, hypertext, databases, long-tail etc etc) and points to take away.
the most salient point was adrian hammering in to us about “shaping a new journalism” towards the beginning of the lecture > aim high and do something big, do something different, don’t set your goals low ( to “being a camera operator on the x factor” ) because it’s a waste of an education > I agree with this, I know people who haven’t even studied and have jobs working on shows like that, you can do jobs like that without any real study or experience.. there’s no point studying if you’re going to settle for jobs you can just ‘fall into’
it’s interesting to hear the lecturers (particularly jasmine) reflecting on teaching the course because it seems it was all as new to them as it was to us and the course was a big ‘testing’ phase in a lot of senses…. it’s nice to know that we weren’t the only ones who were confused about what we were doing from time to time. elliot apologised for being ‘experimental’ on his students, not suss at all…
why didn’t Tim Berners-Lee patent the web?
not all economic models are obvious ones > internet has a ‘californian-hippy-culture-free-information structure’, share freely, no intellectual property , Berners-Lee supports this > gift economy (freely donate stuff without assumption of return) > nobody owns the patent to HTML
example of ‘manners’ > you can’t patent a social protocol
We’re used to the idea of the internet being characterised as a democratic, open, non-hierarchical technology and space: is Galloway arguing something that fundamentally challenges this? the internet is a distributed network where the nodes can interact with eachother despite how far away they might be
protocols etc > how does this relate to the internet?
– virtual and the actual (anything has before it a set of futures, only some virtual futures will come to be and become the actual> the virtual is ‘true’ but the actual is ‘real’)
– expanding possibilities that are very ‘true’ but only some of them will become ‘real’ or actualised > we can’t know which will come to be and what will happen
databases and narratives > Cowbird > create an account, contribute a story (photograph and page of text) > database form for narrative (collects or lists ‘stories’ according to their subject matter, eg. ‘sunrise’) > links things according to place, age, user, subject
narratives are intentional cause and effect sequences> a list is not a narrative
databases separate our content from presentation
– creating good content gets you noticed (example of the chick who coded that site with all of the facebook profiles), if there is a demand for something and you create it the market comes to you
– despite the larger hubs, newer networks can still flourish > hubs can deteriorate and newer nodes can become hubs (example of search engines > yahoo to google > why was there a transition between the two?)
– kevin bacon is a hub? three degrees of separation between kevin bacon and any other actor > hollywood is a small world network
– freeways used as an example (designers prejudice was brought to life through his layout, buses could not fit through)
– writing allows you to document knowledge and store it for later reference > you cannot have any technology without this basis
– iPod as an example of something that redefined marketplace and technology
– technological determinism (example of films always being rectangular rather than circle shaped, you can’t film in the dark) – you have to fit the “rules” of a technology, digital technology is not as free as you think
– technologies have a certain agency which can restrain and enable
– music > the moment when the instrument “pushes back”, the music writes itself/takes on its own life > material technologically determining something
– technique is required when you have technologies > technologies develop techniques
other than these little points I picked up from the unlecture (below) the thing that stuck with me the most was the concept of the internet leaving a mark on the environment. I suppose it’s something we never really think about because so many people see the internet as a “virtual” space, that it’s not a tangible, physical thing –
but actually, it kind of is. while the internet itself is not a physical thing (unlike jen would have us believe, above) it doesn’t mean that it’s not a physical thing in some sense though as, adrian put it, internet relies on energy, if carbon energy was to disappear so would the internet. the point that he made about bandwidth having a carbon footprint stuck with me the most. that every time someone posts a cat video or a selfie, a tree somewhere is probably crying. that every time you upload or download you are destroying the ozone layer. you’re drowning polar bears. you’re making eskimos sad. so stop snap chatting pictures of your breakfast goddamn it, it’s killing the environment!
the internet is a limitless network with no centre – scale free network with dense hubs, will never “burst” or be “too big” – central network is something like a television station or a newspaper
scale free networks have no centre: hubs are important and are defined by how many connections you have in and out, the strength of weak ties (links to links)
six degrees of separation – ‘social media’ – loose connections – bringing the world together ‘small world’
longtail – popular over time vs popular in the here and now
mechanics of scarcity – singling out the popular things (what will sell)
there is not this problem on the internet that is why we have variety
scale free network – scarcity does not exist
long tail – best stuff is right at the end of the tail, the most diversity, need to link down the long tail so it grows
more of what have been called “dump notes” from the unlecture today:
can videogames be considered hypertext narratives?
– hypertext provides different links than video games do (linking out to different content vs. linking into content within a ‘world’)
– a game is a game because it’s not a “story” ie. Tetris, hypertext is about narrative, therefore a game is not hypertextual because it doesn’t have a “story”.. you can’t “win” a story
– game worlds in reality television < gaming meets television, gameplay logic
how can you actually write a hypertext narrative?
– nodes make sense on their own, they stand alone, therefore linear writing styles are disregarded (think of our blogs and how each post stands alone)
– relational media, relationship between the parts
– relationships are multiple, nodes can link to each other
– there is no ‘structure’ that is ideal > you can’t claim an origin/source/beginning
the long tail seems to advocate a free-market model for the entertainment industry…
– not a new problem > how do taste cultures form > we can redefine who we are by what we consume > i’ve already written a blog post about this !
– always ways to get around recommendation hierarchy’s
– specificity matters
– page rank (google) > largely defined by how many links come into the content
– the long tail is defined by links
do networks have a centre?
– scale free networks do not have a centre
childrens book… not the same as choose your own adventure, choose your own adventure has ‘endings’ and only limited possibilities – whereas the book has 1000 combinations out of 10 pages with 3 options…
for example: hundred thousand billion poems > estimated to take 200 million yeas to read them all > aint nobody got time for that > ten sonnets > virtually unlimited options
what kind of genre is an interactive documentary ? is it a documentary:
– documentaries make statements or observations of reality, when the format is changed it becomes more of an interpretation than a subjective presentation
– straightforward response – brian: ‘yes’ it is a documentary in a different textual form. documentary itself is a genre that goes across many different forms
– genre is not about form, form is not the only thing determining that it is part of a genre
– “I was there when rap and hip hop first arrived…. and people were saying what the fuck is this?” just had to quote this, its not related to anything but I can imagine brian secretly blasting snoop dogg in his room at home alone, terrific mental image, brian, you ultimate badass
– the forms don’t go from avant garde to mainstream, rather they become a popular form that people can recognise > hypertext is not a “popular” form but that doesn’t mean it’s not out there
– truth claims of non-fiction have to be about THE world not A world > definition of documentary > therefore yes it is a form of documentary because the form is unimportant as long as it is referencing and observing the world we belong to and actual events
– “old media” is dead
If, “Interactive narratives have no singular, definitive beginnings and endings,” then what would be the constraints for an author of interactive media to control the interpretation of a narrative? – reading is not about interpreting the mind of the author because we have no way of knowing , it is about your own interpretations
– we interpret TEXTS not authors… we can’t know about the authors only the works they produce while I agree with this on some level, what about psychoanalytical and other theories that infer things about the author through their use of language, form, subject matter etc? saying that we can’t interpret things through what somebody has written is also saying that psychoanalysis is invalid > adrian answered this question by mentioning the ‘unconscious’; if we cannot ever know what occurs unconsciously in one’s mind then we can’t read into it, we can only speculate about the text rather than the author’s psychological state > I agree with this but if psychologists can infer things about people’s psychological states through examining their dreams or their thoughts, then surely writing is in the similar vain as you are merely documenting what is in your unconscious mind > our ideas come from our unconscious, why we choose to write about particular topics, form our stories in particular ways, use certain words over others all comes from our unconscious, so by sharing these ideas it is, in a way, a window into our minds > the imagination itself is part of the unconscious in the same way we can’t control our dreams we can’t control our imagination the same
– story order vs. plot (they are two different things)
– green light > stop scenario/example by adrian > adrian uses this as an example of the author having no control while elliot disagrees and uses the example to prove the opposite point
– why try to reach out and communicate to an audience if they will not connect to the text?
– encoding and decoding texts > the way in which an author might have certain codes in a text that an audience might be familiar with > thematic / visual > uses these codes to structure the story in the hope that the audience will decode this and get at the deeper meaning/message
– use known probabilities when you’re writing to reference topics and ideas that your audience may or may not get > has to work some of the time (when you take a gamble you don’t always lose)
– the authors “mind” is unreadable but you can read their compositional strategies
there were some points raised in the unlecture about how navigation is trivial and hypertext isn’t about navigation. it is merely present due to necessity and creating an interface which readers can navigate.
using language or quotes in a different context > taking what adrians said and putting it in a different context > we infer our own meanings and take different things > gap between delivering information and receiving information
hypertext is a form that willingly embraces the fact that writing has multiple meanings and the reader can infer what they desire, we can’t guarantee the delivery of our message and the way we intend it because there is always a level of subjectivity to the receiving and interpretation to certain information. we bring our own knowledge, mood, perception and links to everything we digest, therefore one person’s reading of a text might differ dramatically to somebody else’s. in fact, given the day and your own mood, your own reading of a text might change in a different sitting. you take different things from the text on different days, see different meanings, the interpretations are endless.
this made me digress mentally and think about grammar and text itself, and how sometimes what you want to say gets seriously misconstrued, due to forgetting a simple thing as a comma –
reading text on a computer or in a message or blog is very different from spoken or delivered text. while there are already problems with interpretation in person (there is always a void between delivery and acceptance, something we looked at in another of my subjects, communication histories and technologies) there are even more when you are reading a couple of typed keystrokes or letters on a screen. you might message somebody with one intention, but have it come across in an entirely different way because that person interpreted the lack of punctuation, number of characters or choice of words as anger or shortness. it is very difficult to gage what somebody says or means with written or typed text as there isn’t the delivery to affirm the mood or intention you have.
I suppose this is true of hypertext as well. you can never really gauge what the author specifically means, because generally there aren’t specific meanings or one set way of interpreting something.
no lecture (or un unlecture) this week, so instead of talking about the lecture, I’m going to talk about all of the things I did instead of going to the lecture, like catch up on other assignments and drink coffee… not really…
I watched the youtube video adrian linked us to – “the machine is us/ing us”.
the quote about “every time we post or tag photos we are teaching the machine” really stuck with me. in fact so much so that I kind of blurred out the rest of what was being said (and there were some interesting points about web.2 – internet being driven purely by our collaboration and sharing of information/images/content – what the consequences of this were, having to change our perspective on ownership/identity/authorship etc etc etc) back to the point… not important. EVERY TIME WE POST…WE ARE TEACHING THE MACHINE- that could seriously be the tagline for one of those terrible 80’s futuristic horror movies about robots turning evil and society shutting down because of a computer virus… it’s scary that we have created an entity that is so user-driven and reliant on our content these days – that your interaction with the internet is mapped out and documented so that it learns to pre-empt your moves. I posted a photo on facebook once and not only did the internet estimate (correctly) who all of the faces were, but where we were. that’s kind of creepy isn’t it? I have complete albums on my iphoto which are categorised into who the pictures are of, and I didn’t even do this myself, my computer automatically hooked itself up to facebook and did that. if all of this activity is going on beneath the surface, without us even realising, then is anything safe? every person you see in today’s society has some form of iphone (or smart phone). and I am CERTAIN (might call me paranoid, but hey) that someone somewhere is in a big apple building, tracking our every move. where we are at any given moment, what we like, who we talk to, the lifestyle we lead… there’s already companies on the internet who can taylor specific advertising campaigns at specific audiences through monitoring their internet usage, what’s to say this can’t happen with our smart phones? i’m sure there’s apps in the background of our phone doing all sorts of things that it doesn’t advertise – recording our conversations, our passwords…and one day, other bodies will have access to this information, probably for a small price… think of it as life-hacking. and think of how bad of a tool it could be in the hands of, say, a serial killer?
there is my old lady rant about the internet and how it is ruining life for today.
this unlecture depressed me thoroughly. a question I raised was essentially- why do we bother to get a professional grounding in a field such as media when there are so many amateurs (and genius 15 year olds) out there who create content that gets them attention with no real training or certification. the thought of dropping out of university to become a burlesque dancer (I can just imagine my dad’s response “we paid for you to go to private school so you can take your clothes off on stage?”) has already been too tempting lately with my desperate (and sometimes futile) attempt to balance keeping up with uni work and my hobbies (which are the things that fulfil me creatively) I’m constantly having to re-assess my priorities and divide my time accordingly…feeling guilty when I put aside doing uni work in preference of dancing, or feeling unfulfilled creatively (not to mention extremely unfit) when I do my readings instead of a workout.. and for what? a good friend of mine has had no tertiary education or certified training, yet has written several books on web design, is in an $80k job and will probably be a millionaire before I’ve even finished this degree. another friend has been signed to a renowned record label after 2 months of producing amateur music. this makes me feel immensely dissatisfied and inferior. I look at my life and see that between university and working so I can afford to live, I am barely scraping by financially and I hardly have a minute to do the things I enjoy… in the guise of getting a degree which will help me secure a job… which I’m now starting to think is a fickle notion in itself. not only are jobs in the media industry scarce, but I know from experience that working in media is not always what it’s cracked up to be (you only need to work in television for a few months to see that all of the glitz and glam disappears in front of your eyes). the reality is, I’ll be lucky to get a paid internship, and even luckier if that paid internship turns into a full-time job somewhere along the line (not to mention that internships are soul-destroying and you virtually just become everyone’s bitch). whether the job you get out of this is actually an enjoyable one that you are happy to do is another story entirely. majority of students doing subjects (which are insanely dense) in business type degrees are much more likely to step into good jobs than I am – so their careers might be boring and unfulfilling but at least they have some solidarity to look forward to. the importance of getting a college education is drilled into us from a young age but now I’m wondering if it’s even valid in a discipline such as media. freelancing is fickle and unpredictable, desk jobs in television studios make me suicidal and, unless you’re the next steven spielburg, your movies are probably going to go straight to DVD (and sit in the back shelf at your local video store — IF you’re even that lucky). it’s a scary thought that probably won’t be put to bed any time soon — but, I will continue my university degree in media because I can’t think of any other (legitimate) way to fill my time… and because hey, at least I’m not doing arts..
on a side note I found it pretty amusing when adrian said “stuff turns up and everything gets twisted around dramatically” which basically nullifies the concept of ‘looking forward’, contradicts everything we have read about speculative fiction and sums up that, while futurism is a great thought, basically, you can’t speculate, you never know, and because futurists are virtually always wrong you’re pretty much screwed.
today’s lecture (don’t want to call it unlecture because it makes me think of ‘unbirthday’ and by extension, cake…and I’m hungry). the thing that I took away was the idea of education not being a commodity that you can simply ‘purchase’ or are just entitled to by default because you paid to be at university. that essentially, if you want to get something out of this course (and university in general) you need to put in the work. as a person who breezed through high-school with minimum effort, I’ve learnt the bad habit of being complacent and lazy instead of pushing myself and having unlimited potential. the thought of putting in more effort or working harder than I have to is something I’m not fond of, but is something that I’ve made a conscious decision to do since starting my studies. having come from work experience in television and an intensive film course, a lot of the prescribed tasks are very basic and don’t necessarily ‘challenge’ me. I learnt early on in the year that if I wanted to get anything out of my studies, I needed to put in extra time into going further, digging deeper and expanding my own knowledge rather than just do what is needed. while I don’t do this all the time (ain’t nobody got time for that) it is something that I do agree with.
I was also trying to figure out (based on the model that was given to us) what sort of ‘learner’, therefore, ‘worker’ I am. I respond well to the model that is being presented to us with the looseness of the course and the destruction of boundaries but at the same time, I did well when everything was structured and fed to me (probably because I’m lazy). I’m highly organised but I’m also very creative, which is a rare combination but an extremely lucky one. that being said, I could also identify with Adrian’s struggles with starting a million things and never finishing anything (but this isn’t in relation to work or anything that has a deadline, more just hobbies and creative projects of my own). I don’t know whether I prefer having the structure and being told specifically what to do – this frustrates me because it limits creativity and makes me feel like a child, to which I have an instant reaction of wanting to rebel.
on the other side of the spectrum, having no boundaries and loose outlines gives me too much freedom creatively and it becomes difficult to know where to begin, or finish things… I’m never sure if I’m doing enough of the right thing, or if there even is a ‘right’ thing.