Saturday, December 10, 2011

Text Object - Version II

Below is the entry of all text (both spam and commentary) into a Wordle Word Cloud.

Still Image Object - Version II

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Still Image Object

The images below are a response to 'The Rapture of Capture', Stratagem 7 in the informal practice of Evil Media Studies, defined by Fuller and Goffey as:

"....a manner of working with a set of informal practices and bodies of knowledge, characterized as stratagems, which pervade contemporary networked media and which straddle the distinction between the work of theory and of practice. Evil media studies deliberately courts the accusation of anachronism so as to both counter and to enhance the often tacit deception and trickery within the precincts of both theory and practice" (p. 141).

The theme is to place an object, in this case the city of London, into a period other than that in which it exists, so I took images from my trip to London in the fall of 2010 and contrasted them with a similar piece. However, the second piece replaces the traditional and 'touristy' images of London with images of the London riots in August 2011. The idea is to replace the peaceful, tranquility and serenity usually associated with a vacation holiday and contrast it with the violence, harm and realism of a rioting public.
All images of the August 2011 London Riots fall were found with Flickr and are registered under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC ), a license that allows the remixing and tweaking and building upon the original work for non-commercial purposes.

All London vacation pictures are the property of Catherine R., taken October 1 - October 14.

Additionally, both images were created in Photoshop CS5.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Text Object

In reference to The Spam Book: On Viruses, Porn, and other Anomalies From the Dark Side of Digital Culture (Jussi Parikka and Tony D. Sampson, eds), I have provided a text object that is a digital representation of both spam e-mails and YouTube commentary of a musician online. 

We begin with an original image object of the guitar player in silhouette above. 

Next, I have added the YouTube comments from the online community of this guitar player's followers and added them only to the guitarist's outline. (Click image for a larger version.)

Then I added the spam that I receive for this guitar player's blog and added it to the guitar's outline. (Click image for a larger version.)

Above is the combination of both the guitar 'spam' outline and the guitar player's outline 'comments'. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lessig's Code 2.0 and Anonymity

                In Lessig’s Code 2.0, we learn that our behavior online and in virtual worlds is not without its consequences in the real world. What used to be the wild and uncontrolled world of cyberspace is now a world where we realize that controls have to be utilized and these ‘controls’ come in the form of code. Because cyberspace is now a place where problems or disagreements can be coded away, the solutions should be altogether as simple as two parties agree on what's in the code. But things are never that simple.
                As Lessig discusses the remaking of cyberspace under this coding control, he adds that “Values originally considered fundamental will not survive” (p.5)  What if anonymity is what becomes the ‘fundamental’ value that does not survive?
                He covers this ground by discussing Julie Cohen’s “Cohen Theorum” – basically, “…protecting a right to read anonymously – that if they monitor, the must be constructed so that they preserve anonymity…[she] identifies a value yielded by an old architecture but now threatened by a new architecture, and then argues in favor of an affirmative right to protect the original value” (p. 192). But while Lessig does favor Cohen, he also argues that the other side also has a legitimate reason for tracking. Simply put, the technology was not there before, it is here now, so why punish someone if they want to use it? His solution is to “architect cyberspaces to ensure anonymity – or more precisely, pseudonymity – first” (p. 192).
                Citizens in the country of Spain are currently participating in a “
Right to be Forgotten” campaign against Google, so that their anonymity and privacy online can be protected, and old references in Google searches “wiped away.”
                As the article states:
                “… Google regularly receives pleas asking that it remove links to embarrassing information from its search index or least ensure the material is buried in the back pages of its results. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., almost always refuses in order to preserve the integrity of its index.”
                But while Google has been reluctant to make changes to satisfy the masses, they do make exceptions and are sometimes legally forced to change things. On April 4, 2011, the Swiss Federal Administrative Court asked Google to obscure all faces and license plates on the street views for Switzerland.
                And the story in Spain is expected to gain more notoriety, “because the European Commission this year is expected to craft controversial legislation to give people more power to delete personal information they previously posted online.”
                And I know of several requests from high-power executives who have asked that their homes be removed from the Google’s Street View feature – and it was removed. So it does seem that those who know the code and have access to it, or the ones who have the power to obtain legal changes, will be the ones who benefit.  So while those familiar with the online structure of how to regulate and settle arguments by modifying the ‘natural laws’ of the virtual world can find solutions, the bottom line is, the problems that can be coded away will not be meant for everyone.
                As Lessig says:  “There is no middle ground. There is no choice that does not include some kind of building.” One of Lessig's themes for a solution to the anonymity/privacy problem is to get ahead of it enough to be sure that we don't have to backtrack and change things in the future. 
 " may take more planning to ensure that privacy is protected. But if those rules are embedded up front, the cost would not be terribly high. It is far cheaper to architect privacy protections now rather than retrofit them for later" (p. 198).

But I think that the technology grew too fast and was in the hands of those who know how to create their own rules too long, that we will be doing a lot of backtracking for a long time.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Shirky and Flash Mobs

                Clay Shirkey’s “Here Comes Everybody” speaks to the effortlessness of the organization with social media in play and how it triggers collective action and collaboration like no other time in our history.
                Shirkey does delve into the specific technologies of how the collaboration took place, but he mostly details what the groups are doing as well as the end-result of their actions. One section that I was particularly interested in was his take on flash mobs.
                Of course, as Shirky says, flash mobs began as an almost ‘hipster movement’ in New York as performance art, but quickly gave way to more politically-driven activities such as the ones that he describes in Belarus with the ‘ice cream incident.’ However, the author limits the purveyance of the flash mob to political protests and quirky public demonstrations. Other issues are the location and purpose, as well as the bargain vs. buy-in social agreements.
                Flash mobs have been and are being employed for many other uses other than the ones stated by Shirkey. He speaks of the “triviality of the culture of the developed world for using flash mobs for amusement and distraction rather than for political engagement” (p.171). However, they have also been used for promotion and advertising. Take for example, the
Random Acts of Opera in Montreal article that details artists trying to find a way to get young people interested and actively engaged in the opera community. Or Oprah Winfrey’s audience kicking off a flash mob dance-off with the Black-Eyed Peas in an outdoor Chicago park to launch one of her new TV seasons. So as the  definition of a flash mob becomes more varied, it also becomes more complicated, especially when it takes on an anti-establishment tone.
                In the last couple of years, the city of Philadelphia has experienced ‘flash mobs’ that are anything but quirky or entertaining. I noticed this distinction about Philadelphia’s flash mobs on Twitter because I follow many musicians and writers from the Delaware Valley -- the metro area of Philadelphia which includes, Philadelphia, Camden, NJ and Wilmington, DE -- and so am in their circle of information for local news and events happening in the area. I noticed the news about flash mobs, but specifically because the news was rather negative, so I investigated further. My usual take on flash mobs is a random gathering of people singing Christmas carols at Nordstroms and then dispersing, however, Philadelephia has had a string of violent mob attacks where store-fronts have been trashed, pedestrians attacked and entire sections of the city closed off because of ‘roaming bands of youth’ – as the local police and press describe them.
                While Shirkey’s Belarus flash mobs stood as an example of antiauthoritarian demonstrations and social activism, these ‘flash mobs’ in Philadelphia were simply criminal. Shirky’s initial description of a flash mob – “…a group that engages in seemingly spontaneous but actually synchronized behavior” (p. 165) – does not detail the direct intent of these types of gatherings. But he does end the section with the following: “What the group does with that power is a separate question” (P.171). And so it becomes that in Philadelphia, and possibly even the entire East Coast and beyond – with a New York Times’ article  
Flash Mobs Take Violent turn in Philadelphia – will now see flash mobs as the gathering of young hoods making trouble for law-abiding citizens, and authorities seeing social media as a way to track this new enemy.
        “Police shut down LOVE Park yesterday afternoon after 10 to 15 teens were arrested for disorderly conduct and rumors spread that flash mobs were set to form. Officers stood guard at the entrances, telling passers-by not to enter the park. The park was shut down from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., said Lt. D.F. Pace, of Center City's 9th Police District. ‘We keep tabs on Internet chatter - especially these social-networking sites - and we received credible information that flash-mob activity was going to form here,’ Pace said.”
                So flash mobs in Philadelphia have become similar to what Shirky describes in Belarus: “…the real message lay not in the behavior but in the collective action….any coordinated public gathering….had a political dimension; mere evidence that [youth] were operating in any organized way was both a threat and a rebuke to the state” (p.167).                                
                The issue at hand seems to be what Shirly calls the promise, the tool and the bargain. The promise begins with people coming together and working towards doing something successfully, using the tools that best suit their effort and to bargain their expectations with each other.
                For example, in London, a protest in March that began with 250,000 peaceful protestors became violent when 200 demonstrators broke off from the bigger group to violently protest recent government cut-backs. The violence was not met with much approval or support by the community, and now authorities are concerned that anarchists will use the occasion of the April 29 royal wedding to hide amongst the throngs of crowds that are expected to attend.
                So, what is the flash mob organizer’s bargain with the outside world? What happens when they don’t have buy-in with the greater community?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Exploit

The Exploit: A Theory of Networks is the study of our now much-relied-upon system of networks, with a discussion that there is an inherent belief of thought that networks favor equality across all time and space. The authors would ask that we take a second look at this assumption.
                Before going too much into my thoughts, I did find the authors use of italic paragraphs to summarize their [sometimes] difficult to penetrate their thought processes, especially when the subject matter was so varied, especially when discussing topics as vastly apart as bioterrorism and 1890 punch cards to describe the subject of network science.
                Perhaps the one item that I picked up on initially was the “war on terror” and the media’s role in a battle that has not ended yet, not in Iraq or Afghanistan, and with more trouble spots in many more regions around the globe. 

The role that communications and information networks have played in international terrorism and the “war on terror” has meant that media have now become a core component of war and political conflict.
                This is true in the sense that never before have we had a 24-hour media-based society at a time when the world is at war. And we hear about every single thing that happens. Now we may not hear about everything from every network, news agency, blogger, celebrity with a cause, etc., but the information is out there, and being sent to use via the many routes that information can take today. This is what the authors state as “the everydayness of the digital (e-mail, mobile phones, the Internet)” p. 10.      I found some interest in the author’s discussion about the necessity of the West to name an object, event, discovery, etc. And the possibility that the ‘naming convention’ itself is flawed.  It brought to my mind the conflict in Egypt and how the U.S. media was quick to take a descriptive term of ‘democracy’ to label the eruption in mass protests in January 2011 against the decades of rule under President Hosni Mubarak.  After 18 days of angry protests and after losing of the support of the military and the United States, Mr. Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11, ending 30 years of autocratic rule. The military stepped forward and took power.
                Our networks provide us a lot of information at our fingertips, but maybe not a way to use it. It reminds me of the blossoming of the term ‘analytics’ at many companies, and the strategy to use the information and data in hand to compete with other companies.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Connected: Or How We Should All Just Mind Our Own Business and Listen to Cheap Trick

     But in the case of the book by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD and James H. Fowler, PhD, it appears that we, the people, at least scientifically speaking, cannot help but be influenced by the other people and the activities of the other people that flurry around us. For Chapter One’s [In the Thick of It] grim description of a series of family-connected murders in the Mediterranean, I even drew out a graph to keep up with the connections of who went after who and why.
     In the study of network science and theory, Christakis and Fowler take on what seems an almost common sense approach to their revelations, which makes the book an easy read. I was even curious about some of the items that were on the jacket cover. For example, “You will never date your ex-partner’s current partner’s ex.” For some reason, I was thinking that singer Shania Twain had actually broken some unwritten human code, because she recently completed that task (divorcing her ex- and then marrying his best friend) – but the authors brought this question (p.99) about in the context of high school relationships, not multi-million dollar celebrities.
     As such, the study of network science and theory takes a simple question, and attempts to answer with, again, results that seem to be common sense answers. For example, take the question that I saw on Twitter the other day:

@hearitlive A buddies older brother turned me on to Cheap Trick when I was 9 - i thought he was pretty cool. Does that still happen?

     So the way that we listen to music it the same way that we used to listen to music and DOES that kind of activity (older kids influencing younger kids) even happen anymore? I think it’s a legitimate question. Kids used to have turntables in their rooms and big 12” x 12” works of art [that held the LP] to look at while listening to their favorite bands play their favorite song, lyrics usually included with the LP cover sheet. Younger brothers and sisters and the friends of the younger brothers and sisters would sneak into that bedroom and find albums that they were not listening to or had ever heard of, exposing them to a different music style or band that they never would have heard about on their own. A pre-teen might hear the Doors for the first time, and because they were so much younger than the teenager, would be even that much more influenced by the experience of hearing this band music.
   Today, everyone is rockin’ the earbuds. Not many people I know buys CD’s. And although there has been a slight resurgence in discovering music on LP’s and the experience of hearing music on a turntable (Half-Price books usually has a good stream of young adults checking out their LP section most weekends), it seems like the music-experience, aside from attending a concert or commenting on the latest episode of American Idol on Twitter, seems to be a solitary experience.
     And because there seems to be such an over-saturation of the market, in terms of avenues and modes of availability in which you can access different types and styles of music - not just 'The Hits' - the way that young kids are even exposed to new [or even old] bands changes every day. The authors might agree.
     Therefore, I think that Connected can shed light on a lot of questions such as:
  • Why certain musical acts don’t get into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame? 
  • How diseases and/or contagions spread through certain communities and not others? 
     Connected was written in 2009 and already some statistics have changed. For example, the average user on Facebook now has 130 friends, not 110. This number is still below of what the author's discuss as Dunbar's theory (p. 248) - 150 being the the limit as to which humans have the ability to recognize, monitor and assess other people within their network without being overwhelmed by not knowing who is who, friendly vs. hostile, etc. One interesting aspect of of this theory is that modern armies have remained small even to this day, "...suggest[ing] that communication is not the crucial factor. More important is the human mind's ability to track social relationships, to form mental network maps that track who is connected to whom and how strong or weak, cooperative or aggressive, those relationships are."
     As the authors discuss the Internet and its impact on social relationships, they discuss how e-mail was the earliest versions of our online social networking ability. And just as e-mail was condensed so that one e-mail address came to represent one identity, so too will we soon have one profile that "allows one to traverse many virtual worlds and social networks." (p.274) However, we may be required to share our friends on Facebook, but I can still choose to participate minimally.
     As the number of our online social circle grows past what we can truly feel comfortable controlling, will people begin to segment their interests into different personalities/profiles? How much will this compartmentalization change the value structure of the identity represented?