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

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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