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From Content to Experience – how ‘new’ documentaries are utilised as an artistic networking tool #ARTS3091

26 May

‘New’ digital forms of documentaries don’t just simply tell or show the audience content, they “singularise expression” via artistic means (Munster 2013 p. 105). Singularising expression means communicating a message through artistic and aesthetic forms, creating an experience, which involves the audience, rather than simply injecting them with information and facts. As Max Schleser, experimental mobile documentary filmmaker, said:

 

“…documentary is understood as a creative genre rather than a form of news journalism”(Schleser 2012).

 

Schleser uses his camera on his phone to create art and encourage action rather than simply exposing content. His documentary ‘Max with a Keitai’ explored Japanese metropolitan centres and derelict shopping malls through the lens of a mobile phone to highlight the failures of techno-culture in one of the most technologically advanced cities. Rather than following traditional-style documentary making, he uses sound, repetition and blurred images to communicate with his audience – in hope that they will relate rather than simply watch his documentary. As he said,

 

“Mobile media provides a license to break the rulebook of filmmaking and explore new film formats” (Schleser 2012).

 

Furthermore, since camera phones have made it possible for anyone to be a documentary filmmaker, as Kate Nash emphasised, “…we all write about ourselves in various ways, we all post images, we all create a narrative of our lives and the things we’re passionate about”,(ABC Radio 2012)audiences are no longer static participants in the documentary making process. Arguably, the receiver of a documentary is now a networked participant. YouTube and Mobile video-making platforms encourage us to play a responsive role to the world around us, to document feelings and “everyday moments” (Munster 2013, p. 104).‘New’ documentary forms breaks down the ‘top-down’ network of professional documentary making. Today, anybody can express themselves and communicate with others by creating, publishing and networking documentaries online.

 

The question must be posed, however, whether digital documentaries have shifted society away from the real world issues and into a realm of self-absorption? Have we forgotten about the importance of content and become too obsessed with capturing artistic expression and pointless daily activity?

 

Comparing the following documentaries, it will be evident that traditional, story-telling style documentaries have a lot of educational value as well a lasting impression to motivate social change.

 

1. Traditional style documentary – ‘The Surgery Ship’ Directed by Madeleine Hetherton

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmAWh9X6m-0

 

2. New’ digital style documentary – ‘Max with a Keitai’ Directed by Max Schleser

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jc2iLI5Mx0

 

Even though Schleser’s artistic documentary – using digital form in an “immanent sense” (sense as it is brought together in the immediate situation), may impact individuals in a longer-lasting way than the conventional story telling documentaries, the following two videos present how society has become unhealthily obsessed with documenting moments within their own lives:

 

1. ‘Hahaha’ – A mini-video documenting a baby’s laugh

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE-Cqsk5pFY

 

2. ‘Help Kaelyn Shop!’ – A short documentary of a little girl going shopping

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzIRdiZ99tU

 

We must not under estimate the skills of professional documentary-makers to inform us of past and present political, social and culture issues. Although, as Katerina Cizek said, digital documentaries enable us to, “…work together in a much more democratic way to tell a story” (Funnell 2012), we must be wary not to become too self-absorbed in documenting every-day moments. Lack of listening to others within a network will inhibit productive communication and arguably de-value the artistic and interactive power behind digital documentaries.

 

References

Funnell, A 2012, ‘The documentary in the digital world’, ABC Radio, 16 September, accessed 26 May 2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/the-documentary-in-the-digital-world/4254350#transcript&gt;.

 

Munster, A 2013, ‘Going Viral: Contagion as Networked Affect, Networked Refrain’, Aesthesia of Networks: Conjunctive Experience and Art and Technology Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 99-123.

 

Schleser, M 2012, Vague Terrain Digital Art/Culture/Technology, accessed 26 May 2014, <http://vagueterrain.net/journal22/schleser/01&gt;.

 

Youtube 2014, accessed 26 May 2014, <https://www.youtube.com&gt;.

 

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App Usage – an insight into the ways fragmented devices continue to restructure human communication, connectivity and activity #ARTS3091

20 May

Apps have been developed to the point of being able to accommodate every human need and desire. Whether it be for communication, travel, time, music, news, navigation, gaming, banking and many other day-to-day activities, there will be an App to accommodate for it. This fragmented media has become such a prominent feature in our daily routines, that Apps are essentially “altering how we interact with the physical environment” (Boiler 2013).

 

Looking at all the Apps on my iPhone as a whole, they reflect my daily routine. My alarm up wakes me up, TripView provides me with my morning bus times, Google maps navigates me when I’m lost, the weather app influences my clothes choice, the SMH app enables me to read the news each morning, and the list goes on…without Apps my daily routine would be structured very differently.

 

Three Apps that have influenced the way I interact with the physical environment include “Quiz Up”, “Snapchat” and “Play Melbourne.”

 

“Quiz Up”, is a questionnaire gaming App that enables gamers to play with strangers around the world as well as local friends. Like many gaming Apps, this App is extremely addictive, and has actually become part of my daily routine. Instead of reading a book before going to sleep, I will sit in bed and play this game for hours. My boyfriend and I often verse each other, even when he’s sitting right next to me. It’s alarming that we are so addicted to this game that we would rather sit on our phones then have a face-to-face conversation! The vast extent and variety of gaming Apps rings alarm bells…would people rather play a game of football or ping pong on an App than actually physically play it outside?

 

“Snapchap” is an App that has greatly substituted my written communication with others. Rather than writing a long message after witnessing a funny situation, I will simply Snapchat it to a friend. As I use Snapchat so much, my brain has reached the point of subconsciously analysing whether physical acts/moments throughout my day will be ‘Snapchat worthy’ – greatly reshaping show I interact with my physical environment and to the point of causing me to move slower through my day.

 

“Play Melbourne” is a tourism App that opened up opportunities to experience museums, restaurants, bars, and many other tourist attractions in Melbourne that I probably wouldn’t have discovered if I simply read a tourist pamphlet. The App located my position (wherever I was during the day or night) and brought to my attention the nearest places I was specifically searching for. For example, I was able to find a rooftop bar, Italian restaurant and nail parlor within about 1 minute and all within approximately 5 meters of each other. This App definitely saves a great deal of time and inconvenience of asking various people where things are or consulting city maps etc.

 

As Apps continue to shape personal daily-routines and they way we communicate with one another, it’s interesting to think about how Apps/computing technology are utilised in the business world. It must be questioned how are they used by commercial companies and further, how they have influenced physical design within our “ambient commons”? (Boiler 2013).

 

Malcom McCullough states, “The more interactive technology mediates everyday experience, the more it becomes subject matter for design” (McCullough 2004, p. 3).Architects have incorporated media technology into the structural design of major cities to the extent that it is now “…on building facades, billboards, hotel lobbies, restaurants, elevators and even gas pumps” (Boiler 2013). When I shop in Zara and Topshop, I actually have to scan my bag before going into the fitting rooms – a very inconvenient and arguably unnecessary device that clogs up the queues when the scanner is not working properly. Camera devices record every person’s movement as they shop around or even float around the streets. A Japanese restaurant around the corner from my house called “Kokoroya” has an iPad on each table with a “menu-order” App, which enables customers to order their food without having to bother waiting for or calling over a waitress.

 

Evidently, computer technology and the development of Apps have influenced the way buildings and businesses are structured. Although many have enhanced convenience, the failures of Apps/computing devices that continue to clog and add unnecessary time and expense to our already mediated world must be considered. For example, is there really a point in having a ‘Blacksock App’ that sorts your black socks which are already matching anyway? (Martin 2012). Or an App that alerts you to when your new-born baby has wet his or her nappy during the night while you’re having a nice dinner with your loved one or are out with friends? (Dodson 2013). As McCullough cautioned,

 

“…decision-makers have become so caught up in modernity’s mechanistic beliefs that they reject most appeals to nature…let us focus on habits rather than novelties, on people rather than machines, and the richness of existing places rather than invention from thin air” (McCullough 2004, p.24).

 

References

 

Bollier, D (2013) How Will We Reclaim and Shape the Ambient Commons?, David Bollier: news and perspectives on the commons, accessed 20 May 2014, <http://bollier.org/blog/how-will-we-reclaim-and-shape-ambient-commons>.

 

Bratton, B (2014) On Apps and Elementary Forms of Interfacial Life: Object, Image, Superimpositio’, Bratton.info, accessed 19 May 2014, <http://www.bratton.info/projects/texts/on-apps-and-elementary-forms-of-interfacial-life/>.

 

Dodson, B 2013, Huggies TweetPee app in the (water)works, gizmag, accessed 20 May 2014 <http://www.gizmag.com/huggies-tweetpee-signals-wet-diaper/27713/&gt;.

 

Martin, J (2012) Totally Ridiculous and Unnecessary Apps Hall of Fame: Blacksocks App Sorts…Black Socks, CIO, accessed 19 May 2014, <http://blogs.cio.com/iphone/17425/totally-ridiculous-and-unnecessary-apps-hall-fame-blacksocks-app-sortsblack-socks&gt;.

 

McCullough, M (2004) Digital Ground Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 3-24.

 

Could the Power of Networked Micro-politics overthrow Capitalism? #ARTS3091

6 May

Guattari and Rolnik state that micro-politics is about “the formation of desire in the social field” (1986, p. 182).

 

As online networking empowers individuals to collaborate on a common ground, it has arguably developed and strengthened the concept of micro-politics. Global networking has given society the freedom to push for social, cultural and political change without having to fight the rigid policies of top-down institutions that may prohibit change for capatilist-thirsty reasons.

 

Here are three examples of how online networking has pushed forward, and continues to strengthen, the construction of micro-politics:

 

1. On a personal level, Micro-politics have enabled my family and I to go on holiday to the south of France without having to pay for accommodation. Through the network of HomeForExchange we arranged a “house swap” with a French family– they came and lived in our Sydney home for three weeks while we lived in their French home. As Michel Bauwens stated, we shared our resources as a “common good”, rather than trying to make a profits from rent (P2P Foundation Blog 2014).

 

2. A friend of mine in the UK who loves dogs, but cannot get one as she can’t afford one and her land lord doesn’t allow pets, has still been able to walk, feed and spend time with many different dogs through the website of ‘Borrow My Doggy’ (This network “match doggy owners with local borrowers for walkies, playdays, sleepovers and happy holidays.” This network is collaboratively beneficialas individuals with busy family/working lives are given a break from the time-consuming responsibilities of owning a pet, dog lovers are able to borrow the dogs for “happy doggy time”, and the dogs themselves are getting more walks and playtime.

 

3. WIKISPEED, is another example of how networked micro-politics breaks down entrenched capitalist values through sharing knowledge. This Network is a volunteer-based company, which developed, as Bauwens stated, an “open source car called WIKISPEED…in 3 months times they designed a car from scratch, which has a 5 times more fuel efficient motor than industrial cars. It’s sustainable and based on participatory design so people in the whole world can design parts of the car…and can manufacture on demand” (P2P Foundation Blog 2014). All money earned by or donated to WIKISPEED is invested back into the company to assure movement forward with WIKISPEED’s vision (WIKISPEED 2014). This network, like the two mentioned above is “egalitarian” (P2P Foundation Blog 2014) – there is no owner or manager who claims profits for personal benefit.

 

Clearly, the concept of micro-politics has developed and had practical effects on society through the medium of online networks. However, it must be questioned whether micro-politics – the idea of each individual sharing resources and knowledge in order to “change the world into a better place” (WIKISPEED 2014) – would eventually grow popular and powerful enough to overthrow capitalism? Cicero argues that, “the capitalist era is passing” in a way that inevitable, and that the “new economic paradigm, the Collaborative Commons, is starting to “transform the way we live” (Meedabyte 2014). However, I would have to disagree. As evident from William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies – a society arguably cannot function without a civilised capitalist structure. Certain people, like young Jack (the antagonist), desire to control others for personal gain rather than to work as a team in order to promote communal equality. Arguably, humans are too selfish to simply share all knowledge, ideas and resources. Structured and accountable political institutions are essential for social order to be maintained and for capitalism to be kept under control.

 

 

References

Bauwens, M (2014) ’Openness, a necessary revolution into a smarter world’, P2P Foundation, February 4, accessed 6 May 2014, <http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/what-is-p2p-an-introduction/2014/02/04>

 

BorrowMyDoggy 2014, accessed 6 May 2014, <https://www.borrowmydoggy.com>

 

Cicero, S 2014, ‘Welcome to Postcapitalism’, Meedabyte, 22 April, accessed 6 May 2014, <http://meedabyte.com/2014/04/22/welcome-to-post-capitalism-plus-5-layers-of-corporate-transformation/>

 

Golding, W 1954, Lord Of the Flies, Faber and Faber, UK

 

Guattari, F and Rolnik, S 1986, Molecular Revolution in Brazil, Micropolitica: Cartografias do desejo, Brazil.

 

HomeForExcahnge 2014, accessed 5 May 2014, <http://www.homeforexchange.com/index2.php?gclid=CNSJz7yDl74CFdd7vQod1RkANg>

 

Terranova,T (2004) ‘From Organisms to Multitudes’ in Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age London: Pluto: 101-106

 

WIKISPEED 2014, accessed 6 May 2014, <http://wikispeed.org&gt;

 

The Benefits and Threats of “re-making democracy” through Online Networks #ARTS3091

29 Apr

Australia, unlike the Ancient Roman’s and current the Chinese Administrative System, does not have a fourth “integrity branch” of government. This “branch” maintains surveillance over government activities and initiates recommendations for change (Spigelman 2004, p. 91).

Thus, within Australian society, it must be questioned:

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (“Who will guard the guards?”) (Brown 1998)

Placing this quote in the context of Networked Media, it is arguable that online/social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Discussion Forums etc give the general public the power to “guard” and scrutinise political decisions/policy – we (the general public and professional journalists) take on the fourth branch integrity role. By being able to post comments, ask questions, create protest forums etc, online networking opens up public access to government decisions and gives them the power to discuss and publically voice their opinions onparticular political decisions/issues.

 

Networks are also an extremely effective communication mechanism for politicians, as Malcolm Turnbull stated on the ABC Media watch,

If I write a blog like I did yesterday complaining about the ABCs’s reporting of the NBN I can put that on my blog, post it on twitter, and it is drawn to the attention of the possessors of one hundred and thirty odd thousand devices…now that is vastly more that say the readership of the financial review (ABC: Media Watch22 April2013).

 

Furthermore, Labor Senator for the ACT, Kate Lundy (the first Federal Politician to set up a blog) argues that since mainstream media only seems to broadcast information on polls and leadership, online networked media is important for giving the public actual facts about government policy,

We aren’t getting asked questions by the media (in press galleries) by what we’re actually doing…its all the commentary about how we’re doing our job and leadership… (ABC: Media Watch22 April2013).

 

Although online networking has arguably successfully “re-made” democracy in relation to accessibility and accountability of government decisions/policy, it is necessary to explore the threats this watchdog “sousveillance” (Boiler 2013) culture potentially poses to society.

 

Smith, in his article ‘The Danger of high-level intelligence leaks’ argues that successful diplomacy relies on government secrecy,

…the importance of government secrecy is directly related to proper statecraft…a certain level of secrecy is incredibly important for a healthy administration – this is the way the game is played (Smith 2014).

 

Although whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange claim and appear to be “careful” in ensuring that the only things disclosed would not put anyone in danger and are what the public should know (Watson 2013), as Cerveny states, (in relation to the released footage showing US soldiers shooting dead 18 civilians from a helicopter in Iraq by Wikileaks),

WikiLeaks not only took great care to redact potentially harmful information (holding back more than 15,000 documents for this very reason) but prior to releasing the documents, sought to engage the White House in its efforts to vet the material (Cerveny 2010).

 

It’s arguable that online networking still gives whistleblowers the potential to publish harmful information. A whistle-blower, that may not be so aware of the immediate and future implications of leaked information, could result in the exposure of “…sensitive information…” that is hidden “…to protect a country from military or economic rivals,”(Smith 2014) and thus the individual lives of the population.

 

The key question is whether societies’ thirst for government transparency and desire to “guard the guards” has lead to whistle blowers exposing too much information..

Although government transparency is evidently an important part of democracy, this does not mean every ounce of information must be leaked to the public. Secrecy does not necessarily equal corruption – society must be wary that a balance must be drawn between networked truth and national/individual safety.

 

References

ABC: Media Watch 2013, Bypassing the Gatekeepers, Sydney, online video, accessed 28 April 2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3742728.htm&gt;

 

Bollier, D 2013, ‘Sousveillance as a Responce to Surveillance’, David Bollier:

news and perspectives on the commons, accessed 29 April 2014, <http://bollier.org/blog/sousveillance-response-surveillance&gt;

 

Brown, D 1998, Digital Fortress, St Martin’s Press, United Kingdom.

 

Cerveny, J 2010, Chelsea Manning Support Network, accessed 27 April 2014, <http://www.chelseamanning.org/commentary/did-wikileaks-endanger-lives)>

Smith, N 2014, ‘The danger of high-level intelligence leaks’, The National Business Review, 29 April, accessed 29 April 2014, <http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/danger-high-level-intelligence-leaks-ns-127190&gt;

 

Spigelman, J 2004, ‘The Integrity Branch of Government’, National Lecture Series of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law, pp.91-125.

 

Watson, S 2013, ‘Snowden: UK Government Intentionally Leaking Harmful Information To Blame Whistleblowers’, Prison Planet, 23 August, accessed 29 April 2014, <http://www.prisonplanet.com/snowden-uk-government-is-now-intentionally-leaking-harmful-information-to-blame-whistleblowers.html&gt;

 

Subconscious Framing – how does it happen? #ARTS3091

10 Apr

Lakoff & Johnson pose the idea that, “Neurons operate below the level of consciousness,” and that our brains function as “conceptual structures.” Zooming in on this notion of “conceptual structures”, it’s interesting to consider Fillmore’s “semantic frames”. This idea encapsulates the idea that when we think of certain words, e.g. a “restaurant”, our mind uses it as a frame. We automatically place our general knowledge or experience of restaurants, i.e. “waiters, menus, checks” etc within this frame.

 

Delving into this idea of “framing”, it must be questioned, does this media control and shape our subconscious frames?

 

Let’s consider how advertisements have shaped our subconscious ‘cigarette frame’. In the 21stC, many people would arguably place bleak concepts such as lung cancer, drugs, youths etc in the frame of cigarette smoking. However, back in the 1930s, it was a frame of glamour and trend. Are our subconscious frames more heavily influenced through personal experience, such as loved ones dying from cancer, or simply through the media’s smoking campaigns?

 

Furthermore, let’s critically analyse how newspaper photos shape our ‘cultural frames’ – specifically focusing on the “White Australia” culture.

Firstly, let’s look at the SMH’s photo:

Image

Prima facie, it’s simply a photo with happy schoolboys. However, the way in which it’s been shot arguably influences our subconscious to create a frame of white/western culture. The wide shot of three high school Aboriginal boys standing proudly in front of the prestigious looking school building with big grins on their faces, suggests that they are happier and more fulfilled since they have been immersed into a western education and culture. The bright lighting of the image implies that white Australian’s are to thank for uplifting Aboriginal youths out of their apparent sadness, giving them the chance of happiness away from their families.

 

This frame of white/western culture is reinforced through the Advertiser’s photo:

Image

The bright lighting and low angle looking up at Langford-Smith symbolises him as a sort of “angel”, who is there to feed, nurture, educate and support the children. This is reinforced by the caption, “…offers the children breakfast and lunch. Mr Langford-Smith said food is a major incentive to get kids to school”, characterising him as a caring father-figure. The clean looking children who are munching down food, smiling and waving their hands for joy represents how apparently happy they are when they are looked after by white people.

 

Again, the questioned must be posed, how are subconscious frames created and shaped? Do we even have power over frames, or even the way our mind works to connect certain ideas, concepts and values?

 

References

 Hartely-Allen, D and Toohey, P 2013, ‘Hopes and Fears of Aboriginal Children’ (30-photo pictorial), the Herald Sun, accessed 10 March 2014, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/gallery-fni0xqrb-1226660565233?page=1

 

Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1999) ‘The Efficacious Cognitive Unconscious’ in Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought, New York: Basic Books: 115-117.

 

McNeilage, A 2013, ‘More Aboriginal Children making it right to the top’, the Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Ausgust, accessed 10 April 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/more-aboriginal-children-making-it-right-to-the-top-20130810-2rovd.html  

Pushing the boundaries of virtual and augmented reality #ARTS3091

29 Mar

 

The effects that “virtual” and/or augmented” reality has on humans provide a broad platform for sociological debate. Wikipedia defines augmented reality as,

 

“…a live, copy, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data…” (Wikipedia 2014)

 

Paul Dourish describes this notion as an “embodiment of computers”. He argues that the development of computer technology has resulted in computer systems occupying “our world of physical and social reality”. It is interesting to think about whether embodied interaction is enhancing or diminishing our reality… and how far we can actually stretch the limits of augmented reality to make it a reality

 

Is it possible that we could get to the point of augmenting friends or dates? That fluttery feeling when meeting someone you’re attracted to – could it be transformed into “augmented reality”? For those lonely soles out there who have tried every way to find the ultimate man or woman (speed, online, blind dating etc), it seems that – judging from the current speed of 21st Century technological developments –  the creation of a virtual “Mr Right” might indeed be possible.

 

Although both a worrying and intriguing thought, I personally don’t think augmented reality could be stretched this far. The excitement of really getting to know someone – discovering their hobbies, likes/dislikes, past and even their mannerisms could arguably not be simply “augmented”. Even if it could be, the intimate interactions loved ones share could definitely not.

 

This possibility of augmented friends and dates aligns with the idea of robots taking our jobs. Sarah Gardner, in her article, “A robot for every job” suggests that humans will no longer be needed to work in factories,

“More than a million industrial robots work in manufacturing plants all over the world already.  And they’re getting smaller, cheaper and smarter all the time” (Gardner 2013)

She stresses the concerns of economists, who believe that the development of robots will leave many “no or low-skilled workers” unemployed. American scholar and businessman, Warren G. Bennis, reinforces the idea of robot work-place domination:

“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.” (Gardner 2013)

 

Even though robots have evidently seem to be acquiring human abilities:

Advancements in robotics are continually taking place in the fields of space exploration, health care, public safety, entertainment, defense, and more. (see http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/10/robots-at-work-and-play/100389/ for some interesting examples) (Taylor 2012)

There are still arguably many flaws in this theory of robot domination. Firstly, humans are not stupid – we are adaptable. We live in a face pace word of technological development that continue to offer new and interesting types of jobs. Furthermore, robots may actually be offering many people (who are likely stuck in jobs they hate) a liberating opportunity to find a job that is more challenging and motivating.

 

One must be carful to make generalized assumptions on the supposed effects of augmented reality and embodied interaction. Even though computers play a major role in conducting and enhancing our everyday lives, there is a line that remains drawn between real and virtual.  It is arguable that the sensitivities of a human being could never be remade, and that virtual “beings” could never actually dominate our ever-adapting and developing world.

 

References

 

Anon. (n.d.) ‘Augmented Reality’, Wikipedia, accessed 28 March 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality

 

Anon. (n.d.) ‘Virtual Reality’, Wikipedia, accessed 29 March 2014 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality

 

Dourish, Paul (2004) ‘A History of Interaction’, in Where the Action Is: The

Foundations of Embodied Interaction, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 1-23.

 

Gardner, Sarah (2013) ’A Robot for Every Job’, Marketplace.org, February

18, accessed 28 March 2014 http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/robots-ate-my-job/robot-every-job

 

Taylor, Alan (2012) ’Robots at Work and Play’, In Focus, October 17, accessed 28 March 20114 http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/10/robots-at-work-and-play/100389/

What makes a memory memorable? #ARTS3091

24 Mar

Wendy Chun argues that digital media are highly unreliable when it comes to storage and memory. She puts forward the idea that we assume that digital media is about storage and storage is perfect, therefore making our memories perfect. However, as Lovink stated,

Because of the speed of events, there is a real danger that an online phenomenon will already have disappeared before a critical discourse reflecting on it has had the time to mature and establish itself as institutionally recognised knowledge (Kyong-Chun 2011, p. 186)

Put simply, the fact both traditional media (newspapers, radio, tv etc) and new media (twitter, Facebook, Instagram) constantly bombard us with new information, it must be questioned how much we actually remember. Do we rely on our computer archives, status updates and twitter feeds so much that social media has actually weakened our ability to remember? Or has it become an extension of the human memory? (Wikipedia 2014)

I’m specifically going to focus on how Facebook seems to be an extension of ones memory, but also a place of memory overload. From the recent profile “time-line” installment it appears that Facebook treasures personal memories. Scrolling back through old photos and posts I am reminded of holidays, fun nights out, and funny moments I’ve shared with friends and family. Birthday reminders, personal event calendars and notifications arguably extend and enrich my biological memory. On the other hand, it also seems that the endless documenting of photos, status updates, posts and reminders of peoples birthdays (that most of the time I don’t really care about) layers up my profile with mindless memories that will become meaningless over time. I know when I scroll through my Facebook homepage I tend to mind numbingly read things without any intention to remember them…if some actually asked me what I read on my Facebook homepage this morning it’s likely that I wouldn’t be able to recount much of what I read.

Benjamin Libet has calculated that it can take up to .5 of a second to consciously “experience the present”. The media’s fast pace nature arguably doesn’t give one time to “experience the present” because the focus is too much (both publically and privately) about what’s happening now, tomorrow or next weekend.

Alva Noe believes that memory does not come from the mind, but rather our personal experience:

 The brain is necessary for our life, but it is hardly sufficient. A human being, like every living being, is a locus of densely interwoven coupling with the world around us (Noë 2010)

Alan Kay’s video (see below) is a great example of how the mind learns and remembers through physical experience rather than technical thinking. His video addresses how “over-thinking” can actually seize up the process of learning and remembering. Relating Alan Kay’s theory with my own personal experience of trying to learn the French language, I would definitely have to agree that memorable memories are made through experience. After studying French at school for 4 years, I only seemed to remember the phrases “Bonjour”, “Merci” and “Au Revoir”. However, after living and working for a French family for only two months as an Au Pair, I was just about fluent. Apart from the obvious fact that I would pick up the language quickly as I was hearing it all the time, every French word was given substance from the way my host family would say them to me.  If Nemo (the 5 year old) was hungry he was grab his stomach and whine “J’ai Faim!” (“I’m hungry!”) Or if Marko (my host dad) couldn’t find his keys he would be pointing at the door lock, looking around franticly shouting, “Où sont les clés?!” (“Where are the keys?!”) It was these actions that made these words memorable – not the words themselves.

We learn and remember through experience and not through technical thinking. Although it may seem like the media is an extension of our memory, these memories on there are simply “stored away” rather than remembered. Both old, and particularly new, forms of media constantly bombards us with information and updates to the point that our mind is trained to just read and observe rather than experience and absorb it.

 Alan Kay’s video:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50L44hEtVos

 

References

‘The Extended Mind’, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Kyong-Chun, Wendy Hui (2011) ‘The Enduring Ephemeral, or The Future is a Memory’ in Huhtamo, Errki and Parikka, Jussi (eds.) Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications. Berkeley: University of California Press, 184-194

Noë, Alva (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/doesthinkinghappen-in-the-brain