Tag Archives: communication

Jenkins, H. (2006). _Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide_. New York and London: New York University Press.

Henry Jenkins, PhD, Communications Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Arts, a joint professorship at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Before this position, he was the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies program. He sees four forms of participatory culture: affiliations, expressions, collaborative problem-solving, and circulations.

This book is about three concepts and their interrelations: media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence. Jenkins’ goal: to share with the public convergence’s impact on the media and to show policymakers and industry executives consumer viewpoints. Jenkins does not “put forward popular culture or fan communities as a panacea for what ails American democracy” (250), but he does argue that convergence bespeaks a cultural shift as now consumers seek out what they want, making discrete connections among the scattered media. The implications aren’t just technological — interpersonal, social relationships change, as do the processes by which media are produced and consumed. Convergence is a process of change.

The HOPEFUL: Convergence is top-down and bottom-up. People are no longer passive media spectators but participate at three levels: production, selection, and distribution. Their participatory culture is a wholly new communication framework that harnesses collective intelligence (Lévy, 1997) and underscores their roles as empowered consumers. The Internet’s cultural economy provides a meeting ground for a diverse set of grassroots communities and a media archive for “amateur creators” (275). They have agency:

“Extension, synergy, and franchising are pushing media industries to embrace convergence” (19).

The PROBLEMATIC: For one, the digital divide is real. Jenkins admits that not everyone has access to the digital technologies (or the related skills) he’s describing, and recognizes the early adopters weren’t marginalized, but “disproportionately white, male, middle class, and college educated” (23). His concern with the digital divide is less about access and more about the “participation gap” (23), and “as soon as we being to talk about participation, the emphasis shifts [from technologies] to cultural protocols and practices” (ibid). For another, not all content is socially progressive. Jenkins notes that many political parodies on YouTube uphold traditional gender, race, and class hierarchies, and assume late capitalism-backed American hegemony is the only and best possible world order. “For better and for worse, this is what digital democracy looks like in the era of convergence culture” (293).

The NECESSARY: Media literacy programs are essential.

“We need to rethinking the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as cultural producers and to achieve this goal, we also need media education for adults” (270).

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Caron, A. H. and Caronia, L. (2007). _Moving cultures: Mobile communication in everyday life_. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

André H. Caron, Ed.D., Human Development from Harvard University is Full Professor at the Departement of Communication of the Université de Montréal. He researches cultural and policy issues and the general impact of traditional and new media in society.

Letizia Caronia, PhD Education, is Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Societies – Faculty of Education in the University of Bologna. She was visiting scholar at the Department of Communication of the Université de Montréal from 2005 through 2011. She researches media education, epistempology and methodology of qualitative research, and language, social interactions and culture in everyday life.

Following Certeau (1984), Caron and Caronia believe that the maneuvers of people “play roles in producing new and often unforeseen cultural models of things” (217). They find mobile technologies to be particularly interesting because technologies are material and discursive objects, contributing to the one’s already rich quotidian acts offer “potential fields of actions, possible narrative programs…. [they] fabricate culture (45). Our phones are not incidental to our lives — our media objects construct meaning in our lives. They compel our communication and the resultant texts are the cultural artifacts.

Evoking Canclini (2001), Caron and Caronia establish a deeper, potentially political, meaning between product and user. That appropriation, through “intentionality,” the act of perceiving an object through one’s own vantage, “allows resistance to objectual and cultural constraints and enables people to overcome social and historical determinism” (53) — “where there is choice, there is responsibility” (ibid).

In terms of personal mobility, we now consider the complementary conceptions of delocalization and multilocalization. The latter wonders where you are now and where you are going. Using your cell phone is a multilocalizing act — you can be in the private and public spheres coetaneously. Digital communications make the borders between these two spheres permeable, and since their uses proliferate, our perceptions of the spheres likewise change.

Our mobile media transform mere spaces into, following Augé (1995), places. Mobile telephony transform Augé’s non-places, taken with Caronia’s (2005) “no-when times” (the temporal analog to Augé’s non-place), into functional social places and times.

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Dourish, P. (2001). _Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction_. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Paul Dourish, PhD Computer Science from University College London, is Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC, Irvine. He also has courtesy appointments in Computer Science and Anthropology, and is co-director, with Bill Maurer, of UCI’s new partnership with Intel, the Center for Social Computing. His research is at the nexus of computer science and social science, with a particular interest in ubiquitous and mobile computing and the cultural practices surrounding new media.

“Embodied interaction is interaction with computer systems [everything, really] that occupy our world, a world of physical and social reality, and that exploit this fact in how they interact with us” (3).

This book has a four-part hypothesis. (1) Tangible computing, the notion we improve our everyday lives with direct interaction with devices of computational power, and social computing, the process of using social sciences and anthropology to enhance user/system interface, share a common base. (2) Embodiment is that common base. (3) Embodiment is not a new idea but has deep roots in phenomenology. E.g. Husserl’s lebenswelt, Heidegger’s preontological experiences, Schutz’s model of intersubjectivity, and Merleau-Ponty’s three aspects of embodiment. (4) These and related explorations of and into embodiment offer material for devising a basis for embodied interaction.

Tangible computing (either virtual reality or ubiquitous computing) designs foreground awareness: of communication, of the importance of holistic design, and that the computer and physical worlds are connected.

Social computing holds design is shaped through sociological methods and reasoning. Context has several definitions: the system’s tasks being performed, why they’re being performed, the settings of that research, etc. “The context, though, is as much social as technical” (57).

Dourish privileges place over space. Where space amounts to physical properties, literal and metaphorical, place is contextual and “refers to the way that social understandings convey an appropriate behavioral framing for an environment” (90). The upshot:

  • place is comprised by its activities, rather than its dimensions or structure
  • “place can’t be designed, only designed for” (91)
  • place relates to a specific “community of practice” (91)

Finally (well not finally — there is much more to this book than I’m writing about), I want to add Dourish’s thoughts about affordance. His office chair’s size and dimensions match his legs’, and thus affords him a comfortable seat.* But the seat would not be so comfortable for a horse or a rabbit, which “are not ‘appropriately equipped individuals” (118).

“In other words, an affordance is a three-way relationship between the environment, the organism, and an activity. This three-way relationship is at the heart of ecological psychology, and the challenge of ecological psychology lies in just how it is centered on the notion of an organism acting in an environment: being in the world” (118).

*William H. Whyte writes about how certain public spaces afford (or don’t) people comfortable seats — and gives specific measurements — in his great The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces [1980]).

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Broeckmann, A. (2007). Image, Process, Performance, Machine: Aspects of an Aesthetics of the Machine. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Andreas Broeckmann is the Artistic Director of transmediale–festival for art and digital culture berlin. He studied art history, sociology, and media studies, and in his university courses, curatorial projects, and lectures, he discusses media art, digital culture, and an aesthetics of the machinic.

Broeckmann introduces these aesthetic categories of image, execution, performance, process, and machinic to show that digital art isn’t its own thing, not another aesthetic category, but situated within art history and practice. A digital art interface is unique in that it reminds us continuously of its constitution–it is ephemeral, barely material.

Our “digital culture [is] a social environment, field of action and interaction, in which meanings, pleasures, and desires and increasingly dependent on their construction or transmission and thus on their translation by digital devices. The necessary technical abstraction that the contents have to go through is becoming a cultural condition, which has effects far beyond the actual mechanism of extrapolated signal switching” (194).

In the image category, we understand media art gives us broader parameters than strictly visual. Now we have opportunities to examine images’ temporal structures, not just the narratives but the actual programmatic infrastructures, as well.

In execution, we see that computer software is a cultural artifact. Cultural theorist Michael Fuller distinguishes among types of “software art”: “critical software” refers to existing software programs, “social software” to social dimensions, and “speculative software” to the boundaries, to what can be considered software. Execution projects examine the change, the process. Those images with spatiotemporal bases require “processional approach[es], Bertrauchtung as an act of realization, of execution, which is itself the very moment of the aesthetic experience” (199).

With performance, the “domain of ‘live art’ . . . . the non-participatory live presentation of body movements, images, and sounds” (199), we see the witness the outcome of an execution. Situationism, Fluxus, intermedia and later computers all evoke performance through the use of scripts.

Process differs from performance in that it’s “the notion of process-based yet not fully programmed sequences of events that build on one another in a non-teleological manner” (201). “Processuality in art is closely tied to the existence of communication tools” (201) and the aesthetics of process-based art crucially implies this context–it cannot be other than relational” (202, emphasis mine).

Finally, the machinic category refers to how this art is produced, through any assemblages of apparatuses, be they mechanical or biological. Here the art’s existence is contingent upon mechanical forces outside of human control and beyond our subjective determination.

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