For those of you interested, my webpage is finally up and running. Any comments will be read with interest. Disfruta. The site can be reached at diversityuniversity.be
Apr 29 2012
Apr 29 2012
After reading Lanier’s article, “You are not a gadget,” I took the time to watch Eli Pariser’s video on web filtering where he points out that different people are fed different information through their web searches based on individual search history. In other words, past web activity has an effect on what items come to the forefront when a search is made. While Lanier’s article, with his emphasis on social engineering and lock-ins did not completely discombobulate me, Pariser’s video did. The Internet, with all of its promise of unbridled information at my fingertips, has been displaced by a dark foreboding place where the other, in the form of an algorithm, decides what it worthy of my attention.
Pariser makes an astute comparison between the function of a newspaper editor in 1915 and the search engines of today. Editors eventually fulfilled the function of ethics curators because most agree that for a democracy to function, there also needs to be a ‘good’ flow of information. While he does not specifically specify what constitutes ‘good,’ we can infer from the rest of his presentation that a balanced flow of information would, can and hopefully will be the future of web searches. Right now on the web, algorithms are deciding what information to provide, without any ‘responsibility’ filter to render a balanced field of inquiry. This effectively creates a web of one, where balanced access to information simply does not happen.
Through the readings and videos introduced through this semester, it has become clear that to simply navigate the web is not enough. As we have been told time and time again, there is a battle royale occurring this very moment over who will control the web. The populace can choose to be puppets, and ingest the pabulum force fed to us by the powers that be, or they can arm themselves with the ammunition of education to persist in the ongoing struggle for unfettered web access.
Apr 29 2012
In reading Lanier’s article, “You are not a gadget,” I was initially amazed to learn that the height of a person’s avatar would have bearing on one’s self esteem and social self-perception. Then I realized that the one’s avatar is simply another outfit in the personal wardrobe of one’s socially mediated closet. In a space that more and more often serves as one of the most utilized portals to communication, many of those who interact via the Internet, most specifically by utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, have taken the creative process of writing, photography, and moviemaking, and mainstreamed it into something so totally banal that it has lost almost all sense of creativity. There are still those that carefully craft their entries before posting, but unfortunately, those are not the majority. There is no doubt that this shift has been caused by multiple factors.
Apr 12 2012
In the article “Toward Participatory Expertise,” David explores the new ratings systems being developed in on-line communities by focusing on four specific sites and their solutions to the “problems of legitimization and extension by privileging participation over prior accreditation” (179). To paraphrase, Wikipedia “creates an open-community development space for viewing, editing, and linking web pages,” where there is some volatility when dealing with “hard to reconcile positions” (182). Wikipedia, and its advocates claim that unstructured collaborative authorship leads to community and quality (184).
Apr 08 2012
When I first began reading Tactical Media, I was struck with the names of the artistic groups, Electronic Disturbance Theatre, EDT, and Critical Art Ensemble, CAE, and how much their names sounded like some type of terrorist organization. Upon further reading, I realized why they sounded like terrorist organizations. In their attempts to move from purely rhetorical spaces to “tactical media,” they were also moving toward tactile participation. This in turn “provoked the FBI to suspect terrorism” (62). But, as both Raley and CAE continually remind us, these groups are concerned and constructed to provide “a continual process of questioning the premises of the channels they work with” (46). Through their manipulation of media and the web, they work to unveil the power structures at work, while at the same time momentarily creating a glitch in these power structures. These actions serve to illuminate the multiplicity of uses of the web. It can, and is, used by hegemonic power structures to proliferate control of those structures. It can, and is also, used by multiple individuals and groups to inhabit and inhibit, at least momentarily, those selfsame power structures. In my opinion, this serves to illustrate the beauty of the web in its unfettered state, where access to information is still available and not censored by those power structures mentioned above.
Mar 29 2012
When first perusing the website http://collection.eliterature.org/2/, I found myself at a loss as to what to say. How was one to comment on this diverse site with so many formats, such a visual array of images, sounds, and ideas, and all in a multiplicity of languages? I decided to begin by focusing on the first visual image one comes to when accessing the site. The organizers of this site, in their infinite wisdom, have chosen to portray each piece as a “patch” of a patchwork quilt, or a small piece of a mosaic, effectively reminding the reader that assemblages in art are not a new practice, but a time-honored one, firmly placing this project in the vast continuum of art projects. Therefore, each piece has existed and continues to exist independently, while also residing within the larger framework of the site. With that said, the ‘reader,’ and that term is used extremely loosely considering the scope and depth of this project, is then introduced to a vast panoply of projects. Each project addresses different concepts, while the unifying thread is one of multiple sites or concepts visited. As an example, I will focus momentarily on the art piece “Tailspin.” In this piece, the artist has worked to convey the separate realities of a daughter, her father, who was an aircraft fitter in WWII, who also suffers from tinnitus, and her children who are often alternately frightened by their grandfather and reprimanded by him. He sees their activity as noisome and disrespectful, and wonders why they can’t read books like his daughter did. The young girls, Lauren and Chloe wonder why their grandmother and mother always tell them to ask their grandfather when they have a question. As one enters the site, there are a series of swirling images. Each time the pointer is placed over the image, a short description comes to the screen, accompanied by different noises ranging from the reminisces of the grandfather or his daughter, to flashbacks of the grandfather’s more graphic remembrances of the war. The piece is a brilliantly woven tapestry of multi-generational issues that serves to exhibit separate realities all seeming to exist simultaneously.
Mar 22 2012
At the beginning of Chapter Eleven, Poster describes his idyllic stroll through Ljubljana, Slovenia with its delightful lack of “the repertoire of the marketers imagination.” Later on in the chapter, he references de Certeau’s concept that “Humans are spoken by the language of socioeconomic determinism long before they can speak it,” (240) eerily echoing Heidegger’s concept of thrownness, that state we enter at birth through no control of our own: our parents socioeconomic status, the neighborhood where we live, our ethniticity, the color of our skin. What Heidegger goes on to propose is that while one cannot escape her thrownness, one can develop one’s ‘authentic’ self by disregarding the patter of the they-self in exchange for the existential authentic self one is privy to through the silent voice of the conscience. If one applies this concept to consumerism, it would then be possible to disregard or deny the proliferation of ads assembled, created, and disseminated by the disparate arms of the media and exist beyond the tag of consumerism. This is the very concept Poster wrestles with in Chapter Eleven.
Mar 22 2012
In Society of the Spectacle, written in 1967, Debord argues, among other things, “to the extent that necessity is socially dreamed, the dream becomes necessary,” the “spectacle… is the opposite of dialogue,” and, “the specialization of power is at the root of the spectacle.” Thus he develops the concept of the spectacle as a social relation among people mediated by images, and as an instrument of unification that subverts reality where the “liar has lied to himself.” Debord, and the group he is closely associated with, the Situationists, are then closely involved with the uprising in France in 1968, commonly referred to as May 68. Jumping forward to the year 2006, the movie V for Vendetta incorporates the Guy Fawkes mask as an emblem for anti-establishment protest groups. The Guy Fawkes mask has become ubiquitous in the Occupy Movement, effectively incorporating the concept of détournement. As David Lloyd, the British graphic novelist artist who created the original image of the mask for the comic strip written by Alan Moore explains, “The Guy Fawkes mask has now become a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny – and I’m happy with people using it.”
Mar 08 2012
Earlier this week, I finished watching Part 3 of the documentary “Century of the Self.” One of my initial thoughts was, “Edward Bernays was evil.” Then I thought that was too simple and simplistic of a response, so I decided to address this concept further. What follows are my ruminations about this documentary and some of the specific ideas or concepts the video touched upon.
Tu no puedes comprar el viento. (You are not able to buy the wind.)
While I am still convinced of the evil of Bernays as well as many of his associates, I remember that I still, as do you, have a choice. I do not have to be completely motivated and shaped by consumerism. I chose to develop my sense of self through thought.
In regards to Poster – Rules and laws are not stationary because they are bound by discourse. Discourse is made up of language. Language is subject to change. Just as language is subject to change so are rules, laws, and I would argue, ethics.
(This blog has been short due to time constraints – it will be “fleshed out” after class).
Mar 01 2012
In Chapter Five, “Identity Theft and Media”, Poster explores concepts of identity through the Foucauldian framework of a technology of power. He begins with the question, “If one’s identity is subject to the felony of theft…is not the nature of identity itself called into question?” (87). He then explores several definitions of identity theft. Jennifer Lee defines identity theft as when the criminal uses personal information to open and use accounts that are in the victim’s name. Sheila Cherry informs us that “identity theft is only possible with the full cooperation of three major participants: the imposter, the creditor and the credit bureau” (91). As Poster points out, both refer to stolen information that is deployed in a digital network illegally to obtain money and goods (my emphasis). What is important to note here is what is being obtained – items that exist because of a capitalist system. When Poster informs us that he is exploring identity through the Foucauldian concept, he has already situated the argument within the framework of a capitalist society, thus neatly skirting the classic question of identity as the “basis of subjectivity, as the center of the self, its spiritual core” (87). The very concept “identity theft” is thus a misnomer. What is being stolen is not one’s identity, but one’s “good name”; not in the sense of Arnaud du Tilh, who assumes the identity of Martin Guerre, but is eventually found out and executed, but one’s “good credit,” which is then assumed so that the perpetrator can go on to purchase whatever it is that his little heart desires. If one has poor credit, it is safe to assume that his credit would not be in danger of being appropriated, for in doing so the perpetrator would not “gain” anything. In this instance, the Media has misappropriated the term “identity,” in order to sensationalize a sensitive subject.
In Chapter Six, “The Aesthetics of Distracting Media,” Poster examines Benjamin’s Essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” in which Benjamin argues that the ‘aura’ has been destroyed by the position of the camera in the artistic process, eliciting a “phony spell of a commodity” (231). He then examines Marshall McLuhan’s concept of machine, claiming that the “otherness of information machines and the destabilization of the subject when interacting with them is lost on McLuhan” (123). From this Poster explores new concept of digitized art where subject object positions are brought into question through the participation of the audience in artistic installations. What one must remember through all of this is that we still have the power to turn off the computer and walk away, walk outside, and walk barefoot in the grass. We are still individuals with extraordinary senses and sensations. Computers have the capability to enhance and enlighten, but there are still other extremely tactile ways of experiencing the world around us.
Poster’s analysis then turns to narrative and the different modes of narrative, observing how access to the computer has and continues to alter the nature of narrative. What I believe is important to note here is that the way the narrative is inserted into to the computer database “defines” its narrative. It can be entered with a closed code, effectively sealing the narrative; or it can be entered with an open code, which allows other participants to alter the existing narrative. The ‘author’ still has control over his/her text. The hypertext is a space where many have argues that the term “narrative” no longer applies. Poster examines television and its lack of narrative or maybe more importantly its role as a supernarrator. This is an interesting premise, and one that we will continue to approach throughout the remaining weeks of the semester.