WEEK 4: ACTOR NETWORK THEORY & ASSEMBLAGES

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So that is Actor Network Theory.. and I’m pretty sure that is what my inside of my head looks like right about now…

Let’s break this down!

From my understanding, The Actor Network Theory or ANT was developed by philosophers Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and John Law. The theory is a family of material-semiotic tools, sensibilities and methods used to analyse the web of relations in existence in our society. It indicates that both human and non-human “actants” (actants being the preferred term as “actor” is generally used to talk about the roles of humans)  are equally important to the social network.

In relation to publics and publishing, I believe that the Actor Network Theory places humans (the authors, creators, publishers, etc) at an equal and just as important level as the technological platforms involved in publishing.

A web of relations (or a network) is also known as an assemblage. An assemblage is an assembling of elements and actants in a flat ontology, or in other words where all elements are equal.

There are many different types of human and non-human actants:

  • human actants
    • publishers
    • software developers
    • readers
    • writers
    • marketers
    • critics
    • audiences
    • editors
    • news readers
    • journalists
  • non-human actants
    • iPad/Kindle
    • software
    • libraries
    • studio
    • camera
    • ink
    • paper
    • computer
    • email
    • internet
    • archives

So to re-emphasise, all the above elements are equal in forming a particular assemblage. An iPad is required just as much as a reader is required to read the iPad – this is the only way a connection/bond/network and overall, assemblage can come together!

However it is also very important to note that the Actor Network Theory has received its fair share of criticism.
As per the reading by David Banks, ANT is seen to dismiss basic social factors such as race, class, gender, and post colonialism. By ignoring these basic categories of social science, ANT is incapable of challenging the power of racism, corruption, sexism and the like. The question also arises as to whether or not ANT’s vocabulary and analytical tools can challenge power structures or only describe them.
Should Actor Network Theory be called a social theory at all?

Reference List:

http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2011/12/02/a-brief-summary-of-actor-network-theory/

http://www.learning-theories.com/actor-network-theory-ant.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actor%E2%80%93network_theory

 

WEEK 3: 3D PRINTING; EVOLUTIONARY PUBLISHING

As the world we know begins to print and publish content through advanced technological mediums, I am forced to think about all the publishing houses coming to a close, all the book stores shutting down and the employees who (as soon as 10 years from now) may not have a job in a field they have been trained to perform in.

Yes, the evolutionary changes in the technological and digital media industries will be an unfortunate loss for many, but in this case I’m pretty certain the pros outweigh the cons quite significantly.

Haven’t we repeatedly been told to live by the mantra; “when one door closes, another opens.”
And it was John F. Kennedy that once said; “Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
So why are we worried?

As I have previously spoken about, you know that I have come to terms with the fact that e-readers, digital books and online content will be a significant and heavily prevalent part of our future, but what about 3D PRINTING?
The whole concept seems confusing. I have so many questions – how is this physically possible? what is used for? how does it work? what resources are required? how will it help us?

Well, the people at Mashable claim to be the world’s largest independent website dedicated to news, information and resources for the connected generation (that’s me). In particular, Mashable talk all things tech, social media, and internet culture related, so of course I was in the right place and surprise, surprise – I found my answers from another digital publication!

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx0Z6LplaMU&gt;

What I found most fascinating was the replication of organs in the medical field. If 3D printing technology has the ability to save lives, doctors and patients must be ecstatic! With 3D printing on the rise and the technology being used for numerous reasons, such as the building of ten houses in one day in China (a fact which still blows my mind), the benefits must be countless.

Key Benefits of 3D Printing:
– Eliminates the need for tool production and, therefore, the costs, lead times and labour associated with it.
– Allows for mass customization according to individual needs and requirements.
– It is emerging as an energy-efficient technology that can provide environmental benefits.

So why not look to our future. I mean it might be entirely bizzare and the unknown might scare us, but I am sure we will all adapt and adjust as humans are made to do!

References:

http://www.idealog.com/blog/atomization-publishing-as-a-function-rather-than-an-industry/

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/3d-printing-could-herald-new-industrial-revolution-20130428-2ingp.html

http://www.wired.com/2010/09/the-future-of-reading-2

http://mashable.com/

http://3dprintingindustry.com/3d-printing-basics-free-beginners-guide/benefits-commercial-value/

WEEK 2: DIGITAL PRINTING & PAYWALLS

“10 years ago Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Dropbox, and Instagram didn’t exist.

20 years ago there were only 130 websites total, Google wasn’t even around yet, and you had to pay for an email account through an ISP.

30 years ago there was no internet.” – http://www.onesecond.designly.com

Do these facts and figures surprise you at all?

The world we live in is entirely made up of digital printing and this has enabled individuals to freely express themselves over so many different modes, giving our population the freedom to publish what they want, whenever they want!

But is it really okay for all this content to be shared, accessed and used for free?
That is where the concept of a paywall arises.

A paywall is a system that prevents Internet users from accessing webpage content without a paid subscription. There are both “hard” and “soft” paywalls in use. “Hard” paywalls allow minimal to no access to content without subscription, while “soft” paywalls allow more flexibility in what users can view without subscribing, such as selective free content and/or a limited number of articles per month, or the sampling of several pages of a book or paragraphs of an article.

The New York Times began charging $15 for a four week subscription to its website. This means that users are able to read up to ten free articles a month, after which they will be prompted to subscribe. As of May 2012, The New York Times now has 472,000 digital-only subscribers and have successfully implemented the use of soft paywalls.

Similarly, YouTube (a very popular and trending mode of digital publishing) has introduced the concept of paid channels. A YouTube paid channel is a channel for which users pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee to watch its videos. Only paying subscribers can view the channel content, except for any specified videos which are made available to everyone for free. This has also been received well by the public and YouTube constantly expands its paid channel partnerships.

The presence of paywalls are both good and bad for print media in today’s digital age. On the plus side, it can be said that paywalls are used to protect the future of journalism. Further, news corporations and media institutions are provided with additional financial support to be able to continuously sustain and develop themselves within the ever-changing media context.

However, there is a significant downside – and we have to ask ourselves; Will paywalls be successful in the future and will the public be willing to pay for content?
With the vast amount of content out on the World Wide Web, how do we differentiate what is and what isn’t worth our money?

 

References:

http://onesecond.designly.com/

http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/aug/03/financial-times-paywall-online-advertisings-subscriptions

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-13/how-rising-paywalls-are-already-paying-off-for-publishers

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/07/new-york-times-supported-by-readers-not-advertisers.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paywall#cite_note-60

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/18/business/media/18times.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3249127?hl=en

http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/10/22/youtube-expands-paid-channels-pilot-partners-least-10000-existing-subscribers-adds-mobile-support/

 

WEEK 1: PRINTED PUBLICATIONS; A THING OF THE PAST?

Last month I attended a Sunday family lunch for my niece, Anika’s, seventh birthday. After we had all been fed and were ready for a good cup of coffee and a possibly a nap in the warm afternoon sun, Anika was ready to tear open all her gifts.

Clearly things had changed from the time I turned seven years old. To my surprise (or shock might be more appropriate), her parents were presenting her with a brand new Apple iPad. Her face lit up.

On my seventh birthday I distinctly remember experiencing a very similar reaction to my first Harry Potter book and here I was witnessing a whole new concept, questioning what went wrong along the way?

A fortnight ago I visited my niece again. The entire afternoon was spent around her iPad. She was either using this device to assist her with the minimal homework a Grade 2 child receives, to reading an e-book her mother had bought her from the iBooks app. I sat taking in the tremendous change which has come across in the platforms of print and publication. Evidently, writing in and reading from a paper-back book has clearly diminished! The thought, that as a twenty-one year old, I continue to hand write my study notes and use textbooks to learn was a just a little intimidating.

BUT when it came to looking into this a little further, I think I may have been swayed! To anyone that does their research (that being a simple Google search) it is quite indisputable that e-readers, kindles, iPads, iPhones, tablets, e-books and the various other platforms of the like are here to stay. Not only are they a prominent facet of our future but they help Anika and the children of today with learning and education.

<http://youtu.be/wAyRXvewcac&gt;

Now, I know a lot of us feel that there is nothing which compares to a paper-back book; the smell of that old library book, turning through the crisp pages, seeing the marks of old donkey ears and replacing them with a new set. However, with an ever-changing global context, we have to be open to change and seeing the way our children replace old media with the new is truly inspiring (definitely still shocking but inspiring nonetheless). These children have been moulded for the ways of the future, being provided with the skill set to rise to occasion.

I do feel printed publications are slowly and steadily on the way out. Yes, I will still be hand writing my notes and using textbooks (the way I know I learn best) but at the same time I know I wont be attending a class under prepared, with the help of my trusty Apple iPad I have all my lectures and readings accessible anywhere and anytime!