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Network Media - A Final Lecture

The schematic notes from the final lecture of the 2013 iteration of Network Media at RMIT University (http://mediafactory.org.au/networkedmedia/

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Network Media - A Final Lecture

  1. 1. network media 12 of 12
  2. 2. last week I read Let’s begin with Katharine Viner of The Guardian.
  3. 3. it isn’t a thing because it is temporal more than spatial This network is not a thing, it is an event, something that has not fixed form, centre, authority, or agency in control. Yet it has an understandable shape, protocols (social and technical), is the largest communicative revolution in the history of the planet, costs us virtually nothing to use, lets all of us contribute our individual expertise and knowledge, and disrupts, fundamentally, traditional (“heritage” media industries). This subject is not about digital media as that is now a trivial tautology.
  4. 4. Ms Viner could have been describing this subject Katharine Viner again
  5. 5. experience economy the network is disruptive we learn by doing this has been ‘experiential’ learning the problem has been what ‘is’ the network? not “what does it mean?”
  6. 6. the trajectory — learning Learning as a double loop so that our assumptions are what need to be recognised and reworked (the network needs us to rethink our assumptions, what used to work no longer will).
  7. 7. the trajectory — speculation What happens if we take a key idea or concept from now, and apply it rigourously to think about what might be? (Looking backwards at what was (‘once upon a time’) only gets you so far in thinking about what is, and what might be, it is also not a productive way to build and think the new.)
  8. 8. the trajectory — hypertext Hypertext is a writing technology that is about breaking text into smaller, standalone sections (lexias or nodes) and then having multiple connections and pathways through these. It changes how we write, and the sorts of things that can be written. It is used for fiction and nonfiction, including academic writing. (We are deeply immersed in print so this is a straightforward way to introduce disruption and change, as what a text, reader and writer is in hypertext are all different (and odd) compared to our assumptions from the high, late, age of print.)
  9. 9. the trajectory — networks These networks (like a hypertext work) are scale free, dense nodes emerge that make it easy to get from any node to any other, and a describable and understandable structure emerges because some nodes become more connected than others. (Hypertext works like this. Blogs and wikis work like this. The internet works like this. Here you build then tweak, you let structure emerge, you plan and enable for connection which is what lets structure happen. This is the opposite of building a house, an industrial company, a hierarchical organisation.)
  10. 10. the trajectory — protocol These networks are about communication between peers. They are flat (anything can talk to anything if you follow the protocols). Protocols are technical (so anyone can write software and services that can use them) and social. They are manners for machines and people. (Understanding that it relies on protocols that don’t come from head office means you don’t need permission to do, participate, engage, but you do need to learn the ‘rules of the game’. These rules are technical and social. In addition, as protocols, they are documented, and understandable.)
  11. 11. the trajectory — databases A database is how we store lists of things. Your blog is a database (and your posts are just lists). With a database and a screen how we see and experience things can always vary. Nothing is fixed. There is no preferred or required order. This makes it easy to find things, show different things next to each other — a Google map showing where events in a story happened next to audio from the location. (Stories have an order. They have the order of the events they narrate, and the order of their telling. These can vary, but they are machines for cause and effect sequences. Databases separate content from presentation, and do not have to use or rely on cause and effect and so let other sorts of cultural narratives be made. We are still inventing and discovering what these could, might, and should be.)
  12. 12. the trajectory — Actor Network Theory Everything is part of a network and everything that is a part of a network is a part of network because it participates and is this network. The things that make up networks are not defined or constrained by scale (size) or type. They are not defined or constrained by type and so might include human, non human, cultural, technical, geographical, geological, chemical, sensory (human and nonhuman), meteorological, and chemical things. They may include an individual or an entire population (a drop of water in relation to the interior of your phone and the world’s oceans in relation to global warming). All the things in a network have the capacity to act, or be acted upon, in that network. (This is a radical notion of agency — the ability to act — that takes it out of the human — as if we’re the only things capable of acting and action. This shifts thinking about networks out of whether it is technical, or cultural, or ideological and gives us a way of thinking about networks where the first thing to do is to describe them, for themselves, properly. What is any particular network, what is it made of? What does it do?)
  13. 13. in closing The content of the subject is the experience it has offered. There isn’t a magic answer. There isn’t one theory to explain them all. my speculative view: we are not the centre of anything we share agency with non–sentient things meaningful structure always emerges communicative relationships are at its heart (between parts of a ‘single’ text — hypertext), between texts (blogs, email, Cowbird), between systems and services (automating Twitter or Instagram into a blog), between people, and between communities
  14. 14. thank you Adrian Miles Brian Morris Jasmine Roth Elliot Heatwole adrian.miles@rmit.edu.au vogmae.net.au