Networked ME

5 Jun

I just tried out Intel’s ‘Museum of Me‘ experience, which links to your Facebook account to create an exhibit, and I have to agree with TechEurope that it’s a little bit creepy.


Image: Screenshot from Museum of Me

I was taken through a series of exhibits that turn my pictures, statuses and links into works of art. Some of them had holes reminding me that ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, and ‘You could see your photos here’ and therefore that I was a social failure. There were people wandering around the museum admiring my art and sociality. There was slightly creepy backing music, two robots constructing a mosaic of my profile picture, and a graphical representation of a distributed network. Finally, there’s a plug for Intel.

While it’s pretty cool to look at, and it’s an awesome marketing tool for Intel, the Museum of Me shows a whole lot of interesting characteristics about us and the internet. Not least is the statement that social networking sights like Facebook are part of who we are. The social relationships we form online are real, and that we can be compared on the basis of those relationships. The suggestion is that our online identities, and some of our offline identities, are the sum of those relationships, link, and connections.

in there somewhere

Image: Screenshot from Museum of Me


Re: More Cyberjustice

2 Jun

If you blinked and missed the drama among social networking circles the other day regarding the removal of a safe sex ad from a bus shelter in Queensland, it’s because by the end of the day the ads had been reinstated by Adshel. Contact details of Adshel were shared through social networking so users could voice their concern directly to the company. As old-school media like newspapers and TV picked up the issue, the campaign gathered far more attention than it otherwise would have. All in all, not a bad day for new media and old media working together.

Teenage Paparazzo

1 Jun

The movie-doco Teenage Paparazzo is about 13 year old Austin who stalks Hollywood celebrities for tabloid magazines.

It also features Adrian Grenier, as roving celebrity-paparazzo-objective interviewer. Despite the Hollywood ending, Teenage Paparrazo raises some interesting points about media.

It states that youth spend 6.5 hours per day in fronts of screens (not including mobile phones) that mediate information. One of the analysts in the movie suggests that the power and addiction of media, such as the internet, lies in the way it addresses us and makes us feel important. This sounds all very theoretical, but when applied to a young boy it turns into isolation and narcissism. The movie also addresses concepts such as hyperreality and simulacrum that never made sense in Culture, Media, and Everyday Life, but do now.

More Cyberjustice

1 Jun

The social networking world is on fire today in response to the removal of a safe sex ad from Adshel billboards.


Image: ABC

Adshel was asked to remove the ads by Wendy Francis and the Australian Christian Lobby. In response a Facebook group, calling the removal homophobic, has been set up, and is gathering thousands of hits. Wendy Francis and Adshel are trending on Twitter. News organisations such as the Brisbane Times and the ABC have picked up the story as it generates interest. It will be interesting to see how this pans out and whether the pressure generated by social networking will achieve any results.

Week 8. Cloud control

31 May

Alan Lui suggests that using visual metaphors from older media “naturalize the limitations of the new medium by disguising them within those of older media” (Reader, page 228).

However websites don’t just use the visual metaphors of  older media such as newspaper and television, they also use visual metaphors that refer to their own brands. It’s a brilliant marketing tactic, but it also naturalizes limitations of the products.

A case in point is Apple. It uses the visual metaphors of its own products, from the menu bar right down to the signature curved edges. It creates a streamlined, cohesive brand, and isolates Apple from competitors. It also disguises the limitations of Apple technologies, one of which might be the incompatibility of some websites to iPhones.

Another brand that refers to itself is Google. Here are two amazing pieces of net art. The Wilderness Downtown is an interactive music video for The Arcade Fire’s song ‘We Used to Wait’. The user plugs in their hometown, and the website generates a personalised music video using Google Maps. 3 Dreams of Black is a music video for Danger Mouse, Jack White and Norah Jones’ song ‘Black’. It’s a combination of video, 2D and 3D graphics. It uses WebGL, an extension of JavaScript, to generate the 3D graphics. The final ‘dream’ allows users to enter the 3D realm and ‘add to the dream’ with lego-like building blocks.

The video states ‘Three dreams of black’ is “an experience specifically meant for the web”. All you need is a modern browser compatible with WebGL “such as Google Chrome.” Both music videos are dependent on the speed and crunching power of Google Chrome. Neither Safari nor Firefox support WebGL. Referring to itself, and creating websites that can only be used in its browser, is a brilliant marketing tactic. It also naturalizes some of the downsides to Google.

Both Apple and Google have recently come under fire for shifty data collection practices. The streamlining and visual metaphors that make these websites so easy and engaging to use also makes it easier to practise less transparently.

A visual metaphor buried in the sand

Image: screenshot from 3 Dreams of Black

Becoming Cyborgs

31 May

An article in The Age today explores iPhones and smart technologies as extensions of our selves.

On the one hand Professor David Chalmers of the ‘Centre for Consciousness’ at ANU, says smart technologies can be incredibly useful for people with disabilities. On the other hand, writer Nicholas Carr points out that this makes us incredibly vulnerable to their loss.

He also says that smart, internet-based technologies encourage “quick shifts in focus – and discourages sustained attention and the ability to think deeply and creatively about one topic and to challenge conventional wisdom.” This is the ‘tabbed browsing’ effect that allows users to multitask and skim from content to content. In fact this is what my browser looks like right now:

And that’s about all my mind can handle in one blog post. Onto the next tab.

Week 10. Poet DJs

13 May

Explain why you chose the Creative Commons license that you added to your blog and discuss the relevance (or not) of adding the license.

The internet is flooded with remixes, mashups and other forms of user-generated content.  Creative Commons licenses can  enable heightened creativity, and make explicit how material (that is assumed to be copyrighted) can be used.

While mashups and remixes are most often thought of as music and video, other, more surprising media are adapting to this content free-for-all.

In one of those not-so-unusual cases of arts subject crossover, online poetry journal Cordite is all over this Creative Commons business. In August 2010 Cordite released its Creative Commons issue. All content was published under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike (3.0 Australia) license.  This is the same license the content of this blog is under (see top right hand corner). While it’s highly unlikely this blog has any commercial value, given it’s subject it’s important that any descendants are able to be used in the same way under the Share-Alike condition. Cyber freedom for all etc.

But back to poetry. The following issue of Cordite was CC – The Remixes. In it contributors used poems from the previous issue and reworked them into new content.

Here’s a simple little poem called ‘beyond black & white‘ by Rob Walker:

before dawn

even flowers

are grey

till magpies,

monochrome flautists,

pipe in the colours

In the following issue Rebecca Landon remixed this and another poem to create the mashup poem ‘Black n white silence

Just like this infamous musical mashup that answers the eternal question: just how many pop songs can be shoved in to one song?

Except Cordite actually makes the point that Creative Commons licenses enable creativity and make explicit how content may be used.