en3177 Weekly Summary

This week I managed to use my time more efficiently and be remain aware of impending deadlines. On top of that, I thoroughly enjoyed chapter 3 of Rettberg’s Blogging.

I was worried initially that my post on chapter 3 was too rambling and unfocused, or that it didn’t relate enough to the prompts we were given. However, I reasoned that it would be better to write what came to mind than to wrack my brain and waste more precious time. In the end, Morgan seemed to enjoy it, as did Krissi, so I’m satisfied.

In the next week I intend to further my efforts to post daily and work on publishing posts further away from the deadline. I’ve been having trouble getting content for the Rebel Art section of my blog as well so I intend to hassle my friends and hopefully shake them down for a few scraps of poetry. Speaking of, if anyone has anything at all they’d like published let me know and I’ll throw it up!

Aaaaand here’s a link to the one semi-artistic thing I managed to post this week. Enjoy or critique at your leisure.

en3177 Chapter 3

While reading chapter 3 of Rettberg’s Blogging, the line that stuck out the most to me was the Clay Shirky quote:

“A new social system starts, and seems delightfully free of the elitism and cliquishness of the existing system. Then, as the new system grows, problems of scale set in. Not everyone can participate in every conversation. Not everyone gets to be heard. Some core group seems more connected than the rest of us, and so on” (Shirky, 2003).

It reminded me of what Rousseau wrote in the The Social Contract, which was that man inevitably moved from a state of nature into a social contract.  Rousseau claimed that the rich and powerful got that way by convincing the underclass to yield to their authority. The solution to this system, Rousseau offers, is for the people to give up their rights, not to a king or elected official, but to the community. The community then makes decisions as a group to protect the welfare of all.

While it may seem wildly idealistic this shift may have already began on a small scale when it comes to the organization of the internet. However, as people connected and shared on a previously unimaginable scale, the gatekeepers of the old ideology, the elected officials, scrambled to maintain control over the flow of information in this new system.

It became abundantly clear that the US government sought this control in 2011 and 2012 with the introduction of SOPA and PIPA into Congress.  Speaking of SOPA and PIPA, here is video of Clay Shirky explaining why they’re awful pieces of legislation. I’m starting to dig this guy.

More recently the government’s quest for data control was exposed by the revelation that the NSA (through the GCHQ) has tapped into fiber optic cables  that circle the globe and carry profound amounts of data every day.

In April of 2010, Kevin Kelly, a writer for Wired turned a Clay Shirky quote into a principle. The Shirky Principle, as it’s now known, states that: “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”. I can’t think of a better way to put it than that.

en3177 Chapter 2 Assignment

Rettberg continues to woo me with her affinity for contextual support. She provides a bevvy of text from seemingly brilliant media theorists that I’d never heard of and the background information she supplied in chapter one is and expanded upon with beautiful attentiveness to research and has surprising depth. This being said, I was disappointed at her dismissal of Marshall McLuhan. Her objective to his work was that he painted “outrageously vivid ideas” (Rettberg, 713) that nonetheless weren’t empirical. This claim in itself attests to the ways in which print culture and standardization have damaged our ability to hold valuable discourse.

For the sake of those who’ve not been exposed to McLuhan,  I’ll provide a bastardized summary of The Medium is the Massage that I wrote in high school.

In Marshall McLuhan’s book, The Medium is the Massage, he introduces the idea that mankind’s very perception is changed and formed by the type media he is exposed to. The world of yesterday is almost purely visual because it was dominated by the linear concept of typography. We even explain our world logically through interconnected, but linear strings of conclusions, even though most useful human experience doesn’t have much to do with logic. This is because at an early age we are conditioned to think this way by total immersion into typographically dominated media. The alphabet is parts that, when strung together in a line, represent thoughts or feelings, or ideas. And because this was the prevalent medium for the past few centuries, we think in terms of the linear and the visual.

However, we are moving out of that age and into the new with the onset of the technological revolution. With the advent of the internet, our very perception of time and space has been blurred. As you read this, I could be a hundred thousand miles away, having just hit the publish button three minutes ago. Or three seconds.

So when technology pushes further and our thoughts and feelings become not only instantly available, but globally available, what do the concepts of time and space really mean to the mind? Mcluhan explains this by offering the example of prehistoric thinking, which was all-encompassing rather than linear, olfactory instead of visual. He said that in cave paintings of a man hunting a seal on the ice, the prehistoric artist would paint what lies beneath the ice as well, as opposed to a modern artist who would limit himself to the visual frame of an objective observer. Before typographics, a man’s understanding of the world around him was a total picture, everything he knew was simultaneous and overwhelming, as opposed to linear and visually limited. Words are the chains with which man shackled his sense of wonder.

McLuhan goes on to say that society is headed back towards this way of thinking, that the technology is making us all irrevocably and simultaneously involved with each other, a sort of global village.

As the internet grew and evolved it seemed to prove many of McLuhan’s points. A sort of global village did evolve. However it faced many obstacles, among them censorship from the government and an exhaustive supply of meaningless information meant to distract and entertain. Huxley touched on this in A Brave New World, but McLuhan doesn’t say much about the power of a media when used to control populations.

This last thought leads me to the point that I think Rettberg touched on, but didn’t follow to conclusion. The biggest obstacle to our changing perception and the freedom of information has been those in power, the gatekeepers of information under the reign of print media. The internet and the ideas behind it have been under near constant assault since their inception. At the beginning of the 21st century the threats from governments, both foreign and domestic, grew. The Patriot Act, the NDAA, SOPA, CISPA, as well as the NSA spying revelations have all demonstrated this point within the bounds of our supposedly democratic society. Evidence of online suppression from many other countries abound, especially after Arab Spring, which drew attention to the power of social media in the new technological

One of the most interesting concepts that I found in chapter 2 is The Gutenberg Parenthetical, which is an idea that states that the age of print media was merely a phase in human existence, and that technology is fast leaving print, and the linearity that McLuhan associated with it, behind. The University of Southern Denmark’s Department for the Study of Human Cultures features a research paper on their website entitled “The Gutenberg Parenthesis“. Their Position Paper explains the idea in more detail.

The new medium and how it constantly changes, defies standardization and other print based conventions, is also explored by the New Media Institute. Their about page is as amorphous and fluid as the concept itself, and does a good job explaining this from the very beginning. This constant evolution is what causes many stubborn Ivory Tower intellectuals to discard the very idea of it encroaching on the sanctity of print media. This phenomenon is what Rettberg means by lamenting a recently overtaken medium.  Maiken Scott, a writer for newswork.com, discusses the Ivory Tower mentality and what TED talks and New Media are doing to change the way we share information in this article.

In conclusion, it is rarely argued anymore that the medium we choose to convey our ideas doesn’t have an effect on the way we percieve the world. This clash is especially evident ion the rift between pre and post-internet generations. However, the long term effects of the shift are still merely speculation. But as technology advances, the average citizen is finding that they have more control over the media they produce and consume, and as long as they protect this control from philandering governments with Orwellian aspirations, democracy may yet be possible, and our perception  of the world will only get bigger.

en3177 Assignment, Bootcamp Reflection

As I type my reflection many 13 hours late, I’m confronted with the inadequacy of my performance thus far. Most of my postings have been late or rushed, and though this is mainly due to spotty WiFi and the lack of a personal computer, I still could have done better.

I am, however, happy to announce that I will no longer be confined to posting from my phone, or hunting down a suitable computer. I bought a laptop with a two year warranty, an important detail considering the fate of the last two computer to cross my path. I will now be able to post regularly from home, and with a new and independent WiFi connection in the works, more reliability.

My work thus far hasn’t been up to par, but I have learned a few things about networking, WordPress, and blogging in general. I’m still excited to learn more, as the path of the modern writer seems inextricable from the phenomenon of blogging. As I observe my class mates I realize that I still have much to learn, and as I hit the submit button at the bottom of the screen, I do so with renewed vigor and the promise that the next will be more timely.

Links to my course work thus far, and links to some art:

 Intro    Fire Escape

IP and CC        Dumpsters in the Dark