Week 1 summary

This week I’ve been reflecting on a few ideas, and while thinking about things (particularly films) that pertained to these ideas, also about what does and doesn’t qualify as ‘digital culture’.

Especially when looking at film, I was interested in the prevalence of dystopian views of technology in general, and in particular technologies that had embedded themselves into everyday life to some extent or other. As most of this week’s assigned viewing emphasised, this is particularly focussed on new technologies, real or imagined (i.e. telephones, printing presses, cars, etc. don’t take over the world) and an individual’s (or small group’s) experiences of them going wrong (a kind of micro-dystopia, which may or may not eventually spread)…with the exception of Dr Strangelove, of course. But even in stories where the humans have been taken over by machines (or via the use of machines), one person is often singled out (e.g. Capt. Mandrake in Dr Strangelove, Neo in The Matrix , Del in I, Robot or–ahem–Lewis in Meet the Robinsons fighting a very bad hat with a time machine).

This seems to connect in some way to the individual-group segmentation found in discourse about Web 2.0. The promise of ‘personalisation‘ versus the potential of groups interacting, connecting, expanding each other’s horizons… The purpose of an individual in the narratives above is perhaps not so much a statement about ‘the way things are’ in itself, but rather the way we might experience things in tech-mediated situations…


Dr Strangelove

Dr Strangelove doesn’t quite fit the bill in the sense that the technology that’s threatening the earth isn’t physically embedded in everyday life, but obviously its existence (i.e. the possibility of a ‘doomsday machine’, or a kill code transmitted to bombers) is accepted, and affects people’s view of their own safety on a grand scale. (Or this would be pure sci fi rather than satire.) The two alternatives posed to us–create a Nazi-esque underground ‘utopia’ or let the surface of the earth be exterminated–are highly dystopian, and direct results of handing control over to computers.

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Strange Days

Strange Days is another one I wouldn’t really recommend, but has a couple interesting features. One would be its determination to date itself by being set merely four years in the future (as the trailer, for some reason, is really keen to highlight).

The other is the idea that you can experience someone else’s life. There are lots of sci fi movies where you can put yourself into a new situation, or play a character, or control an Avatar, but I can’t think of very many where you experience someone else’s life, including physical sensations and emotions. (Maybe Being John Malkovich…but this isn’t really tech-assisted…)

Strange Days also bypasses the ‘this new technology is great’ stage of similar movies and goes straight to the evil underbelly–i.e. it can’t be used to encourage empathy or compassion, but rather to breathe new life into the porn industry and give serial killers a unique way to taunt the police. Still, the idea of technology allowing people to understand better what it’s like to be someone else–along with the misgivings associated with letting people know too much–is certainly present in much discussion surrounding Web 2.0.

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Learning in new media environments

Wanted to keep this video that Anne tweeted. Among many other things, it’s a good reminder that dichotomies like pedagogy v. technology–or digital versus ‘analogue’!–are flawed at levels that we often don’t realise.

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The Net

Anyone remember this one from nearly twenty years ago? The Net wasn’t exactly the mind control of Sight, but made good use of the term ‘identity theft’ to generally freak people out. In this case, it seemed to be a combination of the idea that the web is a cache of personal information for The Man with the more provocative notion that it opens up the risk of actually losing one’s real identity by participating in a virtual environment.

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Screenshot of a fb post that is a screenshot of another fb post, neither of which has a permanent hyperlink, and which was brought to my attention by a third fb post on my timeline.The sentiment is apropos as well ; ) And interesting how the value is put on the information rather than the ability to contribute/interact oneself…


digital democracy

This project highlights a main issue in online grass-roots political action: people may be more willing to trust something that is centralised, or organised by someone they already trust, rather than earnest but unknown campaigners in cyberspace.

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Yahoo home page

a world of unparalleled but ultimately meaningless choice‘ – Hand (p. 18)

  • 15 brand names
  • 4 paid-for adverts (one with ‘choice’ and feedback options)
  • 6 celebrity names
  • Favourites’ (never chosen)
  • Location-specific news and weather


Nissan Leaf goes Tron

I was looking for the Nissan advert from yesterday’s Synchtube session when I came upon this one. While the people are ethnically neutral, they’re a hetrosexual (unless that’s a kilt…?) two-kid family made entirely of electricity… This is certainly suggesting that when you go digital (=electricity) and not analogue (=gas/petrol), you’re entering some other sort of world…the world of iPhones, remote start-up, and two-dimensional floating shapes…


Hello world!

Hello world is quite a good cultural artefact

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