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Making the future

13 May

Below is the link to my audio piece which I have uploaded on SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/hsan66/making-the-future

References:

Anon. (2011) what is the future of network culture [online]. Available at: http://varnelis.net/blog/what_is_the_future_of_network_culture [Accessed 12 May 2012].

Easterling, K. (2011) ‘An Internet of Things’, e-flux journal, [online]. Available at: http://www.e-flux.com/journal/an-internet-of-things/ [Accessed 12 May 2012].

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world (2010) TED2010 (released March 2010) [Video clip]. TED Conferences. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html [Accessed 12 May 2012].

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Can science be open?

6 May

This week I want to explore whether it is possible for scientific knowledge to be transferred to the wider public through digital media. Even though scientific knowledge today is disseminated across a network of institutions such as universities and government agencies, there still exists a barrier between this network and the non-academic world (Anon., 2011). As a way to overcome this barrier one could adopt a interdisciplinary approach which closely analyses the way scientists give new information to the public and policy makers and then see how this information is absorbed by the wider public (Anon., 2011). This is linked to scientific meteorology, which is a new way of measuring the reach and impact of scientific work (Anon., 2011). This approach could make a huge impact when it comes to sustainable development and climate change as it will ensure that the public is getting all the necessary information that they need to make informed choices (Anon., 2011). As well as this, the new interdisciplinary approach could lead to interdisciplinary research centers. One example is Columbia University’s Earth Institute which has people from diverse backgrounds such as social science and biochemistry working on the same goal: ecological sustainability and development (Anon., 2011). I believe this interdisciplinary approach could have a huge impact on the world as it allows people to be involved in scientific inquiry.

Furthermore, one way to open up science is to change the way scientific knowledge is published. Dan Gezelter claims that the concept of open science is not part of the ‘incentive network’ that scientists follow (Gezelter, 2009). A network that directs scientists to “Work. Finish. Publish (Gezelter, 2009).” Moreover, Gezelter suggests that scientists focus on releasing their work to the wider public therefore making their work transparent, increasing collaboration and communication (Gezelter, 2009). This changes the way scientists’ complete scientific projects and this could ultimately change the way science is perceived by the wider public. In addition, it encourages people to get involved in scientific endeavors and have input in scientific ideas thereby enriching the scientific project. This new way of circulating scientific knowledge made me reflect on the case of David Reimer. David was born in 1965 and shortly after his birth underwent a circumcision, which completely destroyed his penis (Colapinto., 2000). His parents out of desperation sought the help of renowned psychologist Dr. John Money who persuaded them to have their son undergo sex reassignment surgery so that he could be brought up as a girl (Anon., 2012). Despite Dr Money’s insistence that it was possible to make David into a girl through nurturing, David hated being a girl and suffered severe bullying while at school (Colapinto, 2000). By the time David was 14 he decided to live as a boy and had further surgery to make this possible (Anon, 2012). Nonetheless, the psychological turmoil that David suffered was too much to bear and he ended up committing suicide when he was 38 years old (Anon., 2012). The reason why I think this case relates to the phenomena of open science is because very few social scientists and medical professionals questioned Dr. Money’s theory of gender neutrality. A theory that claimed that gender identity is developed through social learning rather than biological factors (Anon., 2012). If there had been an open approach to social science at this time then it may have led people to question Dr. Money’s theories and techniques. This might have meant that David’s parents were able to make a more informed choice, which could have benefited their son.

However, there are problems with making scientific knowledge open to the public through digital media. Namely, the fact that when scientists disseminate their work using blog posts their work may loose credibility, as their work hasn’t undergone the peer review checking that a traditional scientific paper has (Gavin, 2011). In contrast, peer-reviewed papers are usually “more reflective, more interesting, more concise and more of a serious contribution (Gavin, 2011).” This is mainly due to the fact that the author is aware that their work has to go through a peer-reviewed process therefore they are more likely to make a bigger effort. In addition, work that has not undergone a peer-review process will have little influence in the mainstream scientific community (Gavin, 2011).

Despite the risks involved in making science open, I believe that the potential for innovation and collaboration make the risks worthwhile. I want to incorporate this scientific potential in my research project and perhaps link open science with social and ecological change.

 

Below is a short clip from a BBC documentary about David Reimer’s story:

 

References:

Anon. (2011) ‘On Science Transfer’, Seed [online]. Available at: http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/on_science_transfer [Accessed 4 May 2012].

Anon. (2012) David Reimer, Wikipedia [online]. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer [Accessed 5 May 2012].

Colapinto, J. (2000) As Nature Made Him. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Gavin. (2011) From blog to science, RealClimate [online]. Available at: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/from-blog-to-science/ [Accessed 4 May 2012].

Gezelter, D. (2009) What, exactly, is Open Science? The OpenScience Project [online]. Available at: http://www.openscience.org/blog/?p=269 [Accessed 4 May 2012].

 

Open Organization

22 Apr

This week I created a mind map to demonstrate my engagement with the readings.

References:

1) Anon. (2012) Defining Personalization in Education [online]. Available at: http://www.learningwithnoboundaries.com/2012/02/defining-personalization-in-education.html [Accessed 19 April 2012].

2) Brafman, Ori and Beckstrom, Rod A. (2010) ‘The Power Of Leaderless Organizations: Craigslist, Wikipedia And Al Qaeda All Demonstrate How Absence Of Structure Has Become An Asset’, National Journal <http://www.nationaljournal.com/njonline/the-power-of-leaderless-organizations-20100911>

3) Brewer, Joe (2011) ‘Introducing the Progressive Strategy Handbook’, Truthout <http://archive.truthout.org/introducing-progressive-strategy-handbook67700>

4) Hirschkind, Charles (2011) ‘From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising’,  Jadaliyya <http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/599/from-the-blogosphere-to-the-street_the-role-of-social-media-in-the-egyptian-uprising>

5) Lessig, Lawrence (2010) ‘Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government.’<http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/against-transparency?page=0,0>

6) Rauch, Jonathan (2010) ‘Group Think: Inside the Tea Party’s Collective Brain’, Articles by Jonathan Rauch <http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/2010/09/group-think-inside-the-tea-partys-collective-brain.html>

7) Robinson, Ken (2010) ‘Changing Education Paradigms’, RSA: 12st Century Enlightenment <http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2010/10/14/rsa-animate-changing-education-paradigms/>

8) Schapira, Michael (2011) ‘Interview: McKenzie Wark’, Full Stop, December 19, <http://www.full-stop.net/2011/12/19/interviews/michael-schapira/mckenzie-wark/>

9) Shirky, C. (2011) The Political Power of Social Media [online]. Available at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67038/clay-shirky/the-political-power-of-social-media [Accessed 19 April, 2012].

10) Styles, Catherine (2009) ‘A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible’ <http://catherinestyles.com/2009/06/28/a-government-2-0-idea/>

11) Tozzi, J. (2010) Gov 2.0: The Next Internet Boom [online]. Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/may2010/sb20100526_721134.htm [Accessed 19 April 2012].

12) Wark, McKenzie (2011) ‘How to Occupy an Abstraction’, Verso blog, October 3, <http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/728>

The transversality of music and journalism

15 Apr

Below is the link to my audio piece which I uploaded on SoundCloud.

The transversality of music and journalism

References:

1) Anon. (2011) Record companies struggle with digital reality, The Sydney Morning Herald [online]. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/record-companies-struggle-with-digital-reality-20110201-1acc9.html [Accessed 10 April 2012].

2) Johnston, C. (2012) Second Chance [online]. Available at: http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5278 [Accessed 10 April 2012].

3) Murphie, A. (2011) “TRANS” [online]. Available at: http://arts3091.newsouthblogs.org/2011/02/14/trans/ [Accessed 10 April 2012].

4) Resnikoff, P. (2012) I’m a Successful Artist. And Here’s Why Things Have Never Been Worse…[online]. Available at: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2012/120214cracker [Accessed 10 April 2012].

A journey into the virtual

26 Mar

I am exploring the virtual this week and the many ways that it is present in the world. Firstly, there is great potential in the virtual, some may call it idealism because when you experience the virtual you may not be experiencing material reality as you know it (Murphie, 2012, p. 29). However, there are those that say that the virtual brings out the dynamic nature of reality and opens up a new world of opportunity: ‘the dynamism of material reality (Murphie, 2012, p. 29).’ If this is true then it becomes more difficult to answer the question: How do we know what is real? The virtual is further examined in Andrew Murphie’s article on The Network Society and Experimental Ecologies. In the article he claims that the virtual comes about thorough the individual in a network (Murphie, 2004, p. 121). This is because in the process of striving to be distinguished from the rest (individuation), the individual has an excess of expression. It is this excess of expression that creates the virtual. Thus the virtual has its own ecology and becomes part of the network society (Murphie, 2004, p. 121). This leads to new technologies interacting in the virtual, which creates a myriad of connections and processes (Murphie, 2004, p. 121). It is this virtual ecology that can give rise to so much innovation and technological opportunities.

Virtual reality is an example of this; it is an environment that simulates physical presence in real and imaginary locations (Anon, 2012).  It is primarily a sensory experience, which can involve sight, hearing, touch and so on (Anon, 2012). One way that virtual reality is used is in the treatment of phobias and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is effective in treating these conditions as it allows a person to be gradually exposed to their fears, which then makes them desensitized to them (Anon, 2012). Moreover, virtual reality is also helping disabled people. At the Duke University Centre for Neuroengineering they have trained two monkeys to use their electrical brain activity in order to move a virtual hand avatar over virtual objects and then tell the difference between the textures of the different objects (Anon, 2011). This could have a huge impact on people who are paralysed as they can recover some mobility and rediscover their sense of touch (Anon, 2011). I think this links in with what Andrew Murphie was saying about the virtual and how much potential it has in the network society, it has the power to positively change so many different areas of society, in this case people with disabilities. This coincides with an article I found about virtual medical appointments. Two organisations called Cisco and UnitedHealth Group have created the ‘Connected Core’ (Singel, 2009). This involves patients getting, check ups through web chat. The benefits of this are that doctors can become accessible to people living in remote areas, makes it easier to get referrals and medical tools improve as they become digitized (Singel, 2009). It is particularly beneficial for children, people with chronic health issues, follow-up visits and behavioural counselling (Singel, 2009).

Another example of virtual reality, which I think demonstrates the potential of the virtual, is the ‘autonomous plane’ that the navy has created which can land on an aircraft carrier (Hennigan, 2012). It is primarily an independent flying device called X-47B and it is flown through the use of computers. It has the ability to enter into combat situations and cause destruction. This raises ethical dilemmas, which needs to be looked at by policy makers. Additionally, these drones are said to react faster than human pilots and they can reduce the number of war casualties (Hennigan, 2012). This I believe changes our conception of what is real and possible.

Virtual innovation is not only limited to the military, it can also be seen in social relations. For example, researchers at Barcelona University have come up with a virtual reality device that enables men to empathize with females who are victims of violence (BBC News, 2012). The participant puts on the head mounted display and is transported to a virtual room where they begin to identify as the female in the room (BBC News, 2012). When another person in the room physically abuses the female, the participant feels the shock of the assault due to the fact that they are beginning to see themselves as the female being assaulted (BBC News 2012). As this example and the previous ones have illustrated the virtual is full of possibilities. It is also linked to the network society and the different ecologies that are evident in this society. It is these relations that make me feel hopeful about the future of the virtual and what reality will be conceived as in a couple of years time.

Barcelona University research that is helping men empathize with females

References:

1)   Anon. (2011) ‘Monkeys ‘Move and Feel’ Virtual Objects Using Only Their Brains’, ScienceDaily, October 5, [online]. Available at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111005131648.htm [Accessed 24 March 2012].

2)   Anon. (n.d.) ‘Virtual Reality’, Wikipedia [online]. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality [Accessed 23 March 2012].

3)   BBC News (2010) How virtual reality is building empathy in the real world, August 16, [online] Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/8918754.stm [Accessed 25 March 2012].

4)   Hennigan, W. J. (2012) ‘New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable?’, Los Angeles Times, January 26, [online]. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-auto-drone-20120126,0,740306.story [Accessed 24 March 2012].

5)   Murphie, A. (2012) Course Outline and Readings [online]. Available at: http://arts3091.newsouthblogs.org/course-outline-and-readings/ [Accessed 23 March 2012].

6)   Murphie, A. (2004) The World as Clock: The Network Society and Experimental Ecologies in Topia, 11: 117-139.

7)   Singel, R. (2009) The Future Is Now For Virtual House Calls, July 29, Wired [online]. Available at: http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/07/video-chatting-killer-medical-app-of-the-future [Accessed 25 March 2012].

Extending the mind

18 Mar

This week I would like to focus on the extended mind concept. Specifically, the theory of ‘active externalism’, which is when, objects (TV, mobile phone) in the environment take over functions that used to be performed in the mind (Wikipedia, 2012). This means that people’s minds regularly make use of external objects to such a degree that they become extensions of their mentality (Wikipedia, 2012). Another important aspect of this theory is the ‘coupled system’ where the mind and the environment form a cognitive system, this makes it possible for the mind to be stretched out into the external world (Wikipedia, 2012). The way this system functions was further elaborated on in the David Chalmers video. In this video clip he explains how the environment can be joined to a cognitive system. He does this by introducing the ‘parity principle’; this is based on the idea that we all have the same beliefs and inclinations even before we begin to remember things using our minds or objects (Chalmers, 2009). To demonstrate this he uses the example of Inga and Otto who are both on their way to a museum. Otto who has Alzheimer’s disease uses a notebook to write down the directions to the museum while Inga uses her memory to recall the directions. Using the parity principle one can see that they both hold the same belief and desire about the directions to the museum so they are equally situated (Chalmers, 2009). The only difference is that Otto’s notebook acts as his biological memory (Chalmers, 2009). Therefore Otto’s mind is been extended, as the notebook becomes the root of his memory (Wikipedia, 2012).

This theory made me think differently about my environment as it made me realise that objects such as my laptop or mobile phone had indeed become part of my cognitive system. For example, the way they make daily decisions for me or the fact that they contain my immediate desires. Furthermore, these theories made me aware of how my mind works and the way technology embodies my thought processes and disembodies my mind (Chalmers, 2009). However, I think one needs to explore the negative implications of extending the mind into the environment. For example, does this mean that we are no longer in control of our own thought processes? Is there a possibility that these objects could unconsciously influence us due to our over-reliance on them?

Some of the negative aspects of the extension of the mind theory are examined in the Bernard Stiegler reading. In particular, he states that as we engage more with ‘cognitive technologies’ that aid our memory like the computer or telephone we are in danger of loosing our own knowledge (Stiegler, 2011). Moreover, he states that this loss of knowledge is due to the fact that we are no longer performing everyday tasks instead we are relying on technologies, this leads us to ‘consume blindly’ (Stiegler, 2011). Ultimately this can lead to our own extinction. This relates to the section on memory in the course outline. Specifically, how ancient Greeks believed that technologies such as writing could destroy our ‘natural memory’. This is because memories would be able to exist outside the mind (Murphie, 2012, p. 23). This makes me think about how much of my own knowledge has been jeopardised due to my dependency on technology.

Additionally, it also makes me think about the possibilities of mind control, which is examined in the article by Veronica Pamoukaghlian. One thought control device that was mentioned in the article was the electroencephalography (EEG), which was developed by Dr. Igor Smirnov (Pamoukaghlian, 2011). This device creates a visual representation of the electronic activity in the brain (Pamoukaghlian, 2011). This allows a person to create a map of the subconscious. As a consequence of this, one could use subliminal messages to alter the thought processes of a person (Pamoukaghlian, 2011). Another thought control device is the Semantic Stimuli Response Measurements Technology (SSRM) Tek project which was developed by Moscow’s Psychotechnology Research Institute. This is a technology that uses software to assess a person’s involuntary responses to subliminal messages (Pamoukaghlian, 2011). For example you can flash subliminal images at an airport screening post and get a good idea of what the audience is thinking. This is the reason why America’s Homeland Security Department has taken such an interest in this project. This interest alarms me because as the article mentions, these technologies could be used by different government organizations. This could mean that we would no longer be able to think privately in public spaces.

In my research project I would like to look at the negative consequences of extending our mind through technologies. How is this embodied in real life and what will this lead to in the future. Should we be resiting it or embracing it?

References:

1)   Wikipedia (2012) The Extended Mind [online]. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Mind [Accessed 17 March 2012].

2)   Chalmers, D. (2009) The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009 [online] Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc [Accessed 17 March 2012].

3)   Stiegler, B. (2011) Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation [online]. Available at: http://arsindustrialis.org/anamnesis-and-hypomnesis [Accessed 16 March 2012].

4)   Murphie, A. (2012) Course Outline and Readings [online]. Available at: http://arts3091.newsouthblogs.org/course-outline-and-readings/ [Accessed 16 March 2012].

5)   Pamoukaghlian, V. (2011) Mind Games: Science’s Attempts at Thought Control [online] Available at: http://brainblogger.com/2011/12/28/mind-games-sciences-attempts-at-thought-control/ [Accessed 18 March 2012].

The complexities of ecologies

11 Mar

This week I thought I would do a mind map to work through some of the different interpretations of ecologies, in particular media ecologies. I was particularly drawn to Felix Guattari’s theory that the ecologies of the mind, society and the environment can join together in order to create positive change in the world. Moreover, that their differences can set them apart from other political structures and people can become part of a democratic network instead of been stifled by hierarchical structures. I really want to explore this idea further in my final research assignment and perhaps relate it to digital technology.

References

1) Media Ecology Association (2009) What is Media Ecology? [online]. Available at: http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/ [Accessed 9 March 2012].

2) Fuller, M. (2005) ‘Introduction’ in Media Ecologies: Materialists Energies in Art and Technoculture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: 1-12.

3) Wikipedia (2012) Media ecology [online]. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_ecology [Accesses 9 March 2012].

4) Anon. (2008) The Three Ecologies – Felix Guattari [online]. Available at: http://mediaecologies.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/the-three-ecologies-felix-guattari/ [Accessed 9 March 2012].