WEEK 8: A LITTLE BIT OF DATA CAN GO A LONG WAY

Wow! I can’t believe I am writing my final blog post for the semester, where did the time go? and what have I learnt in the last twelve weeks? Archives, Publications, Assemblages, Data, Distribution, Aggregation… the list of the vast terminology can go on and on.

By far a key learning, and something which holds great importance and relevance to the course, has to be the following:
Data is a huge driving force behind today’s information society, and in turn, our society continues to expand, becoming evermore diverse and sophisticated. It can be said that data is very flexible, and it can be converted or manipulated to convey almost any message within any particular context.

BigData_2267x1146_white

So where does culture fit into all of this? According to Manovich, culture is data. To put this simply, data is an essential part of culture and culture brings together data, using it to inscribe meaning. Now if I haven’t lost you already, this is where its gets even better. Let’s introduce a few more terms to that list of terminology; infrastructural globalism, data friction and global data.

Paul N. Edwards’s A Vast Machine discusses these terms in depth, particularly in relation to climate change. I had to dive deep into his work to wrap my head around these new concepts. From my understanding, and in just a few words, infrastructural globalism is about building networks and systems that gather and understand data, data friction is about the collection of data and how perspectives on them can change over time and global data is the aggregation of information from all over the world via multiples sources. The ideas Edwards presents run parallel to the idea of archiving and the mass gathering of data, and I guess they also play off the ideas of distribution and aggregation of data. The more data is distributed and aggregated, the larger the potential for data friction to play it’s part, and undoubtedly a rise in data will result in a rise in the various perspectives to be kept.

But with all this data out there in the world, it really is true that a little bit of data can go a long way! And on that note, here is an interesting video showing us how far data really goes. To what use is data put to and how is it all manipulated and conveyed in our current context. Take a look for yourself!

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDe7dDSQJXE&gt;

Reference List:

http://openreflections.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/culture-is-data/

Edwards, Paul N. (2010) ‘Introduction’ in A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: xiii-xvii

<http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BigData_2267x1146_white.png&gt;

WEEK 7: BREATHE OUT, BREATHE IN. NOW REPEAT.

It really is that simple.. breathe out, breathe in.. breathe out, breathe in.. now repeat.
So along with me, you have just experienced distribution and aggregation.

Strange way to put it, I know.. but really this is what stuck as I went through this week’s content.

So what is distribution? dividing up, sharing, dispersing, arranging, spreading, scattering.. Yes in the world of publishing, these are the terms used to deliver content from the publisher to the reader. But with the basic example I came across it is evident that everything can be distributed, so the air that we breathe out is being distributed as carbon dioxide.
Of course the means of distribution are endless!
– Books, letters, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, computers, eReaders, alphabets, languages, apps, everything Apple and the list goes on…

And aggregation? Defined as gathering, combining or bringing anything that can be distributed into a whole or into a new relationship. So in the world of publishing, this is collating sounds, codes and platforms and using this, forming a new relationship. Explained with my easy to understand example, when we breathe in, we aggregate oxygen within our lungs as naturally as the next living species.

What I have learnt over this week is that the methods of distribution and aggregation have changed over time. The platforms used to distribute and aggregate are rapidly advancing and the content being distributed and aggregated is ever changing, constantly being tailored to the requirements of current day publishers and audiences. However, with this ever-changing context, there has been a rise in interconnected network for information publication and as Greg Bateson puts it, this allows us to “see the world not as a collection of things or persons, but as a network of relationships bound together by communication.”

Social media platforms are a huge avenue for the distribution and aggregation and personally the one I use the absolute most (other than breathing in and out of course).
Facebook – Oh gosh lets not get started on all the aggregation (stalking?) I do on this social networking website. I mean good on Zuckerberg for giving me multiple opportunities in a day to collect and gather all the information I need to know where peopleare, and what they get up to week in week out. In all honesty, I think I am a bit excessive but it doesn’t stop at Facebook, most of us will also have an account for Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, etc and what these social media platforms are really offering us is an opportunity to belong.

Our distribution and aggregation activities creative mediums of publishing that are fostering engaged citizenry and participatory cultures and this is a concept well explained by David Gauntlett. He explains that creativity is the fuel for growth. Essentially, when you have enough individuals deciding to create rather than just consume things, it amplifies activity. So the more we all use new-media and distribution platforms, the better we tend to get at it. Trust me, I’m sure several generations of people can call themselves Facebook experts. This of course enhances our engagement and connectivity within the world of publishing and we continue to distribute and aggregate on a daily basis.. every hour, every minute, every second of the day.

So what are you doing right now? Distributing or aggregating?

Reference List:
UNSW ARTS2090 Lecture Material

Gauntlett, David (2010) Making is Connecting <http://www.makingisconnecting.org/>

Bateson, Gregory (1979) Mind & Nature

VISUALISATION PROJECT (15%)

http://prezi.com/equ6vf-ppsyn/top-10-drug-busts/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy The primary purpose of our visualisation is to make visible the top ten drug busts around the world. By pin-pointing certain cities on a world map, we are able to visually portray the hot-spots on an international level. Furthermore, the visualisation maps out any global patterns and the level of concentration in different parts of the world. The use of the various sized boxes signifies the extent of the drug bust. Viewers are easily able to identify the larger boxes as the bigger drug busts of the last three decades. In comparison, the smaller boxes represent a discovery of a lesser value of drugs. For example; in Australia, a value of $309million of MDMA was found in 2008. This amount is relatively insignificant when compared to the other end of the spectrum where $12 billion worth of cocaine was found in California in 1989. Of course, this has appropriately been represented by a larger box. Hence, through this visualisation, the size, value and location of the top ten drug busts have been made visible and become easy to identify and absorb by any viewer.  In regards to the data found on the top ten drugs busts of the last three decades, the information has been collated and is easily found within online archives. Hence, the data pre-exists and has not been created by us. However we have been able to visually present this data, making the invisible visible. Thus, we are creating the visualisation based on data which has surfaced by searching existing and easily accessible archives. It is however important to consider the elements of our visualisation which are already in existence. The image of the world map and the various rectangles have been created by the authors of Prezi. We have accessed these elements and implemented them as per our requirements using the ‘Prezi’ archive. Thus, the extent to which we have made the invisible visible primarily involves applying pre-existing data to a visual template, allowing audiences to better connect and process the information being put forward. Law enforcers benefit from this visualisation as it helps to identify trends and patterns in drug use. The visualisation could be improved by making key information more prominent upon first glance before exploring it in more detail. Not a very large public would require access to this information however the human interest of this topic is valuable. Publishing such a visualisation will help identify any patterns in drug activity and can allow such activity to be better monitored and consequently ceased. This will allow for the betterment of a safer and more secure society. The benefits of having such data published as a visualisation allows a larger public audience to understand data, which may have been invisible to them, in a more visible way. A reason for the existence of visualisations is to condense mass amounts information into some kind of form which better communicates a message to audiences. Thus, presenting information on a trending issue in an effectively planned visualisation makes a difference by placing an effective impact on the larger population.  

WEEK 5: FEVER, FEVER, FEVER… ARCHIVE FEVER

archive/ˈɑːkʌɪv/
noun

a collection of historical documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.

Simply put, an archive refers to any method of storing data which is then accessible at a later date. But what is the fever all about? The concept of archive fever was introduced by Jacques Derrida, author of ‘Archive Fever’, who suggests that archives lay the ground rules as they decide what is “inside” and “outside” a collection of information.

This allows the creators and users of an archive to input, record, preserve and destroy any information and furthermore provides authors of an archive with control on who can or cant access the particular information contained in an archive.

So I thought the following diagram models the theory of archive fever quite well (please excuse my very basic paint skills).
However, it is evident that archives come together through a collusion of memories and experiences which are then documented to become “a collection of historical documents or records.”

archive fever

It is quite fascinating to think of the multiple archives we come across on a daily basis. We all interact with the world wide web almost everyday, if not every hour. The amount of information archived on the web is countless! A record of almost anything uploaded once upon a time ago can be dug up on the internet. This little fact intrigued me.. what could I find if I actually looked..

I thought it would be interesting to ‘google’ my friends. I entered their full names into the search bar, and the top results provided me with links to LinkedIn profiles, Facebook, MySpace etc. However, I clicked into the ‘images’ tab on the Google menu and there they were… staring back at me were my friends!
Pictures which had been uploaded on social media websites, over five years ago, were being brought up – and that my friends is a how an archive really works. These (cringe worthy) memories and experiences were well and truly being stored on a monumental database; the internet.

I guess what they say is true, some things can never be erased.. especially with archives around!

Reference List:
http://google-dictionary.so8848.com/meaning?word=archive

Derrida, Jacques (1995) ‘Archive Fever—A Freudian Impression’, Diacritics, 25(2), pp9-63.

WEEK 4: ACTOR NETWORK THEORY & ASSEMBLAGES

timthumb

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/