ABSTRACTS AND PAPERS
|[Arranged alphabetically by author(s). In some cases, the corresponding author is listed first. Use the find function on your browser to search page. Abstract titles linked to full papers when available.]
The Curious Case of The Radia Community, Ricardo Amaral
Within sociology, the majority of research on small world networks has seldom focused on natively digital objects or environments dedicated to cultural artifacts. In this paper I analyse the effects of small world networks on Radia, a network of 23 radio stations created to promote the self-determination of radio art, from 2005 to 2010. Using the descriptions uploaded by the artists, which constitute the narrative of the artistic praxis of the community (including techniques used, key words and genres), and digital tools - such as the Issuecrawler and the Googlescraper (aka Lippmanian Device) – to identify and map the specificity of the language. I find that small world networks can indeed help in defining the boundaries of an artistic genre, through the pooling of ideas, resources and the promotion of particular modes of participation. My findings also seem to suggest that small world networks, in addition to a history of strong media regulation, may play an important part in the occurrence of a certain homogeneity in the production of radio artworks.
A Case Study of Manga Distribution in the United States, Kristin Anderson-Terpstra, Casey Brienza
This paper examines the reasons for book publishing’s transition from a print to a digital media platform and the consequent implications for practices of media consumption, using the US manga industry’s relationship to the distributors of its content, both legal (retailers) and illegal (digital pirates, a.k.a. “scanslators”). The word “manga” in this context refers to comic books originating in Japan and licensed for publication in English. The successful US commercial establishment of manga in the early 2000s, we argue, is due in part to the well-established networks of distribution developed in and around the book trade. The frantic move towards electronic formats and distribution, both by the manga industry and the book publishing industry as a whole in the past year, we argue, is a frank bid for survival which, if successful, will accomplish far more than merely keeping companies financially solvent. This transition, we argue, also has the potential to increase the control of the publishing industries over reader consumption practices. Where previously it was only possible to police intellectual property rights after an act of reproduction or piracy had occurred—copyright protection enforced only the prohibition of unauthorized reproduction—e-books make it possible for publishers to control how, when, and where a book is consumed before it is even purchased. Clearly, the extent of the industry’s success in this period of transition will determine not only what sorts of media we consume in the future but also how, precisely, we are allowed to consume them.
Consoles and Culture, Ben Aslinger
The development and launch of the Ebox in China and the Zeebo in Brazil force scholars to rethink the global flows of video game hardware and software. Given the wide presence of censor and classification boards and the levying of import or excise taxes on game software and hardware, game consoles and software titles often inhabit murky terrain in the global economy. Drawing on trade press materials, blog posts, social media traces, online video, and promotional materials, I examine how the console might mean something different to developed and developing economies and to different classes and categories of players in various localities. I examine why the circulation of consoles and software are important to players, industries, and local entrepreneurs even as PC gaming often remains a more viable alternative for players, venture capitalists, and established firms.
Tradition, Power, and Dialogue: A Study of Youth Media in Palestine/ Israel, Sanjay Asthana
A primary purpose of the essay is to demonstrate how young people living in refugee camps in Palestine, and as minority Palestinians in Israel, appropriate and reconfigure old and new media in the process of creating personal and social narratives. Palestinian youth share common legacies of socio-economic inequities, ongoing conflict, and the clash of religious and secular ontologies. However, their imagination is shaped not by despair, but to borrow Raymond Williams’s felicitous phrase, by “resources of hope.” Focusing on Palestinian identity and selfhood, and the Palestinian-Israeli youth collaborations, I explore how and in what specific ways, children and young people engage with media forms to express their ideas of politics, citizenship, and democratic participation.
Kindles and Nooks and Droids, Oh My!: Analog Reading Habits Help Us Adapt Better to Digital Contexts, Wendy Austin
In this age of Kindles, Nooks, e-Readers, and Droids, the size of our reading space gets smaller and smaller. With analog reading, college students in particular can get a better sense of the context of their source, while the new media reading tools tend to confuse the origins, motives, effects, and contextual cues of reading events. The college writing classroom (which inevitably includes reading) is an excellent place to clarify for students the pleasures and difficulties of sustained analog reading, while comparing it to new media reading tools that filter ads, convey other forms of media simultaneous with the reading event, and (may) include interactivity. Joshua Quittner’s “The Future of Reading” (Fortune magazine) lays out excellent groundwork for the elements of the debate, and the means for achieving success with analog reading, while maintaining interests in new media literacies. Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows describes why giving up analog reading would be detrimental to the next generation of web citizens, but a wide array of new media fans explain why we need to help students do both: learn to love to read the long way, while embracing the tools that convey the new media literacies. Cynthia Selfe’s The Importance of Paying Attention provides a guide for how we can incorporate both types of literacies without losing too much by the wayside.
Operation Payback (…is a Bitch): Hacktivism at the dawn of Copyright Controversies
Burcu S. Bakioglu
In her 2010 white paper, “Piracy is the Future of Television,” Abigail De Kosnik claims that of the options available to media users, illegal downloading is the most usable option that bears the potential for pioneering new modes of audience engagement as well as revenue streams. Hacktivism combines the transgressive politics of civil disobedience with the technologies and techniques of computer hackers. It is, as defined by hacktivists themselves, the nonviolent use of illegal or legally ambiguous digital tools in pursuit of political ends (Samuel 2001). Consider, for example, Operation Payback launched in October 2010 by the 4Chan-related group, Anonymous, against the media giants RIAA and MPAA. These companies, specifically the lawyers and programming companies that they hired, were using (il)legal strategies to take down The Pirate Bay (the popular peer-to-peer file sharing website) by way of launching Denial of Service attacks (DDoS) and were extorting money from the alleged copyright infringers. This paper will examine the role of hacktivism in mainstreaming the activities of piracy cultures which play a prominent role in manipulating the production, transaction, and exchange of cultural goods.
Informal Media Economies – What Can We Learn from the Pirates of Yesteryear?, Bodo Balazs
A longer historical lens suggests that the current crisis of copyright, piracy, and enforcement has much in common with earlier periods of conflict among the different participants of the cultural ecosystem. From the early days of the book trade in the 16th century, cultural markets were shaped by several, competing forces: the Crown’s and the Church’s will to control the flow of ideas, publishers’ need to limit competition among themselves, the authors’ need for financial and political independence and the public’s want for cheap and easily accessible print materials. Several, often overlapping formal and informal arrangements have existed between these stakeholders to regulate the cultural field. One of the informal forces that shape cultural markets is what we call piracy. Piracy is the informal network of producers, distributors and sellers that operate beyond the formally regulated economy. The term piracy suggests illegality, but we stress on the informality of these networks, which include a wide variety of practices from the plainly illegal to those that are consciously opt not to rely on the formal regulatory structures to organize themselves. Informal economies are indeed alternatives to formally organized economies, and this alternativity is usually seen as a threat. I, however, would like to argue, that informal networks, piracy included, are not simply threats, but also offer opportunities to improve on formalized structures. This article argues that 300 years after the first formal copyright regulation, formal instruments regulating the production and flow of intellectual properties are still only one, out of many more-or-less formal arrangements that shape cultural markets.
The Emergence of the Palestinian Web-Space: A Digital History of a Digital Landscape, Anat Ben-David
This study traces the emergence of the Palestinian Web, which gradually transformed from Websites hosted under generic domains (.org, .net, .edu), via symbolic hosting of official Websites under the .int domain, and finally to the official delegation of the national .ps domain. The creation of the Palestinian digital space, with its defined sovereign borders, stands in contrast to the current unsettled borders of the Palestinian Territory. While prevalent accounts of the ‘nationalization’ of the Palestinian Web-space are ethnographic in nature, this paper traces the history of the Palestinian Web-space and the shaping of its digital borders by turning to the Web itself. It maps the emergence of a national digital space into already existing national and international Web-spaces by using digital methods that reconstruct and visualize archived Web data and their evolution over time. Such digital history-telling aims at revealing the unique characteristics of the Web in shaping digital borders, as well as the resonance of digital borders with physical territories, and their related political and diplomatic processes.
Archive, Cache, Database: Digital Literature in Transition, Paul Benzon
Much of the discourse to date regarding digital literature has focused primarily on
questions of representation and narrative. This critical approach exemplifies what Nick
Montfort has critiqued as the “screen essentialism” of media studies, in which visual,
screen-based information is understood as constituting the totality of mediated
experience. A critical development beyond screen essentialism, then, requires attention to the ways in which electronic textuality resides, transforms, and circulates behind or beyond the threshold of the screen. In this paper, I offer one model of such a critical approach through a study of Dakota, a black-and-white, text-only Flash animation by the electronic literature collective Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries (YHCHI). Beyond the immediately visible version that most commonly circulates on the Web, Dakota exists in a number of different forms and contexts online, from the inexact, syncopated transcriptions of its text found in Google’s cache to online Flash animation communities that parse the work as a series of individual frames and numerical values. Tracing Dakota across these different forms and locations, I suggest that if we take this multiplicity of informational form into account, it becomes possible to see the historicity of electronic textuality as neither inaccessible nor stable, but rather as defined by its existence in motion, complexly distributed over the global archive of the Internet.
Dreaming of Cronkite 2.0: How Twitter’s Encoded Media Ideologies Are Changing Reportage Around Breaking Events, Matt Bernius
My paper explores one particular moment within an unfolding professional discussion as to the role that the micro-blogging platform Twitter plays/ should play in the production and dissemination of “good” reporting. Working from ethnographic observations and interviews collected on and around Twitter in the wake of the January 11 shooting of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, I discuss how ideological assumptions built into Twitter’s software alter the (re)production of reportage. In particular, drawing on Erving Goffman’s writings, I unpack how the repeated invocations of “Walter Cronkite” that occur in those articles can be read as attempts to both legitimize new modes of reportage and recapture a specific type of authority which was intimately tied to a mode of professionalized news production based upon clearly demarcated front-and backstage areas and well-defined and stable roles for all actors.
Transformation Matters: The Processes of Transforming Print into Digital in Text Corpora, Hanno Biber, Evelyn Breiteneder
The transformation of a text from print into digital form fundamentally changes the properties of its textuality. This transformation process can be regarded as a process of translating from one medium to another. In order to understand what is gained by translating and transforming a printed text into a digital text, it is necessary to understand what can and what cannot be translated into the new language and what can and what cannot be transformed into the new medium. These processes of transformation can be regarded as instruments of critique. Text corpora of retrodigitized print publications of various kinds are excellent examples for an exploration of these considerations. Numerous examples from the AAC-Austrian Academy Corpus operated by the Institute for Corpus Linguistics and Text Technology at the Austrian Academy of Sciences will be given. One example, the AAC-FACKEL, a scholarly digital edition of a satirical journal will function as a model edition and possible answer to the research questions, whereby the characteristics of this journal had to be translated into a new form that allows the reader to access the original print matter in its new digital format.
How Shakespeare, Hollywood, and Napoleon Shaped Cold-War Corporate Communication, Mats Bjorkin
This paper is based on an analysis of how US, British, German, Dutch and Scandinavian companies during the 1950s developed new knowledge of media. This new knowledge was partly the result of deliberate theorising in the crossroads between modern advertising, information theory, pedagogical and informational uses of film and other media, and management theory and practice. However, most theorising activities concerning media in companies were developed without any reference to such theories. Uses of new media were often the work of individual enthusiasts, whose relation to media more resembled the knowledge of media fans, rather than the ad man or communication specialist. Bringing research on fandom into historical studies of corporate culture helps us understand creative processes and the irrational aspects of corporate decision-making. It also helps us understand certain mechanisms of development and innovation in times of media transition. The notion of transmedia as we understand it today may be a new phenomenon, but research in media history during the past decades show how our uses of media always have been multifaceted and reaching across different media.
The Duality of Platforms: The Two Active Audiences in Media Theory, Goran Bolin
The ‘active audience’ has theoretically been conceptualised from two perspectives in media theory: in political economy, from Dallas Smythe and onwards is suggested that television audiences work for the networks while watching, thus contributing to the valorisation process of the television/media industry. Although contested it has survived among television scholars, also feeding into the discussion on web surveillance techniques (cf. Andrejevic). In reception theory, media ethnography and fan studies, the interpretive work of audiences is also seen as productive, although this productivity result in identities, taste cultures and social difference. This paper relates these two perspectives on audience activity by considering media users as involved in two production-consumptions circuits:  the viewer activities produces social difference (identities, cultural meaning) in a social and cultural economy, which is then  made the object of productive consumption as part of the activities of the media industry, the end product being economic profit. This is especially significant for technological platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, and other search and social networking platforms who build on user activity and user generated content, and in the paper will be discussed the dual function of these platforms.
The Social Media Protest Environment: Constructing the Collective Now, Erik Borra and Thomas Poell
Social media allow alternative political actors to establish their own media environments. The question is: how do these environments function in the media landscape at large? Some authors argue that they serve as a critical check on, and increasingly also as important sources for, mainstream reporting (Bruns 2008; Castells 2009; Shirky 2008). Others see few meaningful connections with the mainstream press (Fenton 2010; Lester & Hutchinson 2009; Sunstein 2008). While social media environments have clearly been examined from a mainstream press perspective, little research has yet been done on how these environments function in the broader media landscape. This paper provides such research. It examines the social media reporting efforts of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN), which coordinated and facilitated the protests against the G-20 summit in Toronto (25-26 June 2010). TCMN urged activists to report about the protests on Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr, tagging their contributions #g20report. In addition, it set up a Facebook group and blog. For this research, all of these activist reports have been harvested for ten days around the summit, and their in- and outlinks collected. Our analysis indicates that the activists' social media reports hardly functioned as a critical check on, or source of, mainstream reporting. Yet, neither was the activist account articulated in isolation from the mainstream press, as the top in- and outlinks connected to both social media reports and mainstream sources. The most striking characteristic of this social media protest environment is how overwhelming it was focused on the ‘now’. The context of the G-20 protests, as well as the larger issues at stake in these protests, hardly received any attention in this environment.
Mapping the Abortion Debate on the Romanian Web: Top Google Rankings as Measure of Popularity or Marginality?, Liliana Bounegru
This paper examines how the issue of abortion is represented on the Romanian Web sphere as demarcated by the local Google domain, as way to make claims about both the natively digital device and simultaneously about cultural change and societal conditions as seen with the Web. What does the overwhelming dominance of pro-life sources in the top results for the query abortion, as well as the fact that an additional “pro-choice” query resulted in more pro-life results say about the status of the issue in the national information culture and about the way Google organizes information on the Web? Could it be considered a manipulation or hijacking of Google results by means of search engine optimization techniques perhaps? Or is the dominance of pro-life sources due to the absence of pro-choice actors on the Romanian web? Whereas placement at the top of Google results typically indicates the sources’ popularity and large audience share, the findings of this case study appear to suggest that failing to organize a public as well as failing to organize opposition to the framing of an issue, is an indication of marginality and not popularity or dominance of an issue framing, as generally assumed about top ranked Google results.
Negotiating Noise as a Condition of Urbanization, Alex Braidwood
Early recording and playback systems, such as the Victor Victrola Phonograph, transitioned music from something that was generally experienced as a communal, performative event to one that could be played in the privacy of one’s home. With the development and rapid expansion in popularity of headphones and portable audio devices, an inverted listening experience emerged where private listening suddenly took place in public. The latest manifestation of this transition is from an object intended primarily for listening to sound to a device that contains audio playback as just one of its many features. These highly connected and relatively powerful devices have become a staple of the expanding urban landscape. With increased urbanization comes an increase in levels of noise. These noises are primarily the result of resources and services that make our current way of life in these areas possible. Considering the necessity of certain noises in order to orient oneself and navigate within a space, complete cancelation or elimination is not a viable option. A great deal of research is being done by biologists and sociologists into the affects of noise on behavior, activity, health and communication. Informed by this type of research, this paper presents a series of design proposals that are not concerned with the cancelation or elimination of noise. Instead, the proposals focus on the filtration, transformation and integration of noise within various aspects of an urban environment. By suggesting methods for combining ideas of instrument and playback, these proposals question the relationship between people and noise in ways that are relevant to both a personal and collective experience.
Designing for Instability: Internet Architecture and Constant Change
Those responsible for technical design of what we now call the Internet initially believed that the protocols (technical standards) they were designing would remain unchanged once put in place, but quickly realized that the crux of their design problem was establishing technological structures that not only tolerated but would actually facilitate change. This paper will examine the various techniques developed by network designers to deal with this problem as discussed in the first 40 years (1969-2009) of the technical document series that records the design conversation, the Internet Requests for Comments (RFCs). The paper will open with examining the ways in which change and stability themselves were conceptualized by Internet designers. Because the Internet RFCs has become a model of decision-making for other types of large-scale socio-technical infrastructures, research on design of the Internet for instability provides insight not only into the Internet itself, but also into socio-technical relations with other information and communication technologies. This research is part of a larger NSF-funded project involving a comprehensive inductive reading of the entire RFC corpus through 2009 for ways in which those responsible for technical design of the Internet understood and engaged with legal and policy issues.
Global Transitions in the Framing of Fan Activities: Exploring the Cross-Border Practices of a Canadian Fan, Jennifer Brayton
We live in a shifting world where global corporate media interests are in transition, and the perceived role of the fan and their activities are changing. An ongoing issue for fans is the imperative towards corporate copyright and intellectual property ownership, where fans are often positioned as being threats to cultural owners. Examples of this include cease and desist letters, the removal of fan content from YouTube, and online sites of fan creativity changing their Terms of Service in response to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States. Fans thus live in a state of uncertainty about the status of their cultural creations. For this workshop, I outline some of the shifts in cultural thinking about media ownership, copyright and intellectual property as pertaining to fan practices, shaped in part by two experiences I have had as a Canadian utilizing cultural content from the United States for my fan activities. Within these encounters, my fan experiences with content owners and creators was positive in nature, though with certain contextual limitations based on the prioritizing of corporate interests. These positive encounters serve as the starting point for a larger discussion in the workshop about perceptions of not only the fan, but of copyright holders to cultural products and how they intersect.
Teaching Smart Cinema: DVD Add-ons and New Audience Pleasures, Pat Brereton
The term "smart cinema" acquired popular currency in academic circles in the late 1990s. The most coherent explanation has been put forward by Jeffrey Sconce’s essay (Screen 2002), which argues that smart films reflect the presence of a growing "culture of irony" and parody. Its intended audience is the disillusioned yet highly educated new generation who display a form of ironic contempt and emotional distancing from their surroundings and socio-cultural existence. This paper will use a number of case studies to demonstrate the importance of smart cinema for new generations and, drawing on the special issue on DVD add-ons for Convergence (2007), which I edited, focus on how add-ons can strengthen the overall appeal of this consumer fan-driven medium and at the same time incorporate significant re-educational applications.
Big Science/ Big Media: The Space Race and Mass Communication, Cira Brown
The media frenzy surrounding the Space Race was not merely an exercise in grandiose heroification, nor a manifestation of the Military-Industrial complexities of the Cold War environment; it was also a transformative process that created new paradigms of large-scale science and technological communication to the masses. As the American public was confronted with (and persuaded to sponsor) the lofty endeavor of landing on the moon, the crafts of using mass media to blend entertainment with news, sustain a sense of urgency, and promote a highly risky agenda – facets of the news that we are very familiar with today – were being sharpened. By drawing on James L. Kauffman’s Selling Outer Space: Kennedy, the Media, and Funding for Project Apollo, 1961-1963 and media archives from the era, this case study examines the formation of seminal strategies in Big Science publicization, conveying immediacy and a collective national call to action, and the vagueness of shared notions of security and insecurity.
Something Wii-cked This Way Comes: Casual Gaming, Technological “Inadequacy,” and the Politics of Exclusion, Konrad Budziszewski
This paper examines the backlash against motion control interface (the Wii remote and, more recently, the PlayStation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360), aiming to illuminate the role of the discursive and affective construction of technology in the process of boundary-policing that accompanies electronic gaming’s ongoing transition into the cultural mainstream. Specifically, it focuses on the rhetoric emerging from the so-called “hardcore” gaming community, which frames motion-based casual gaming as a pursuit suitable only for seniors and soccer moms, while simultaneously claiming that the booming casual sector does not so much co-exist with the hardcore culture as encroach upon it. I look at game technology—the game controller in particular—as a site of conflict between and negotiation of competing forms of technocultural identity: one integrationist and open, the other exclusive, structured by values such as skill, dedication, and technological affluence. Within this space, the “mom” and the “granny” operate as convenient ideological constructs, encapsulating all the qualities perceived as antithetical to “true” gaming. The discursive reaffirmation of the hardcore ethos and ceremonial denunciation of the gendered and aged “undesirables” can therefore be seen as a form of borderwork, aimed at protecting the essential “integrity” (read: exclusivity) of play experience in an increasingly open gaming culture.
Be the Brand: Required Involvement in Social Media, Keidra Chaney and Raizel Liebler
There has been much written about the professional risk of social media use for individuals and for employers; in media reports as well as a recent National Labor Relations Board decision regarding employees use of Facebook to complain about a supervisor. But what happens when employees are encouraged (or required by the terms of employment) to publicly represent a company or brand through personal use of social media? Several years ago, many companies were skittish about employee use of blogs and other social networking tools. More recently, however, some brands are increasingly creating “official” company social media profiles as well as establishing social media policies to encourage employees to unofficially represent a company via social media during the work day and off-hours, with the understanding that transparency and personal contact are widely seen as important to success in social media communication and marketing. We will discuss issues involving intellectual property, privacy, and the bounds of employment within personal and professional social media use.
The Digitization of Memory at the National Film Board of Canada,
Despite several budget cuts and considerable adjustments to their mandate, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) has weathered many changes in its 71 years. These developments have led to an intensification of their distribution strategies, and the NFB has been quick to seize on the opportunities offered by new media; most notably, offering over a thousand of their films through streaming video online, as well as launching an iPhone application to view them. There is an understanding of the NFB film archive as a receptacle for Canadian national memory, the content of which is simply made more accessible by digitization and the internet. It is this retrospective claim on a particular national narrative, and the untroubled assumption that the internet functions as a passive conduit for these images of Canadian identity, that this paper seeks to problematize. Focusing on the prioritization of digitization efforts and how films are chosen to be made available online, and the way in which the Board's historic division into French and English sectors is reconciled in this unifying narrative of a digital solution, I seek to understand how the seemingly neutral work of preservation affects our understanding of the NFB and its films.
Citizen Housewife: Female Bloggers and Constructions of Domesticity as a Political Act, Katarzyna Chmielewska
Discourses of public sphere, civic engagement and citizenry are key factors influencing gender roles in Poland, as well as the form and social function of blogs. This paper draws on the Internet studies and feminist scholarship about gender and domesticity that challenge the distinction between the public and private spheres. However, in my analysis I also demonstrate a crucial difference in perception of femininity and domesticity at the intersections of the public and private. While focusing on the personal, Polish blogs do not necessarily stand as a testament to fluid identities, individual agency, and reclamation of domesticity as an empowering act. Rather, they become a social—or civic—project: a public forum for raising topics other women can easily recognize as matters of the individual as well as of the publics and the state (childcare, healthcare, home budgeting, managing of housework, employment, state support for working mothers, etc). They convey revisionist perspectives on the processes of construction of femininity and the distinction between the private and public spheres, thus challenging historical narratives, politicizing the everyday, and situating domesticity within a premise of the public sphere.
Promise and Problems: Independent Production in Periods of Change, Aymar Jean Christian
From the early years of film when Adolph Zukor challenged the Motion Pictures Patent Company to the amateur radio operators of the same period, American media industries have always benefitted from outsiders. Yet, the story of 20th-century media is often told as one of never-changing, ever-powerful entrenched corporations and media forms, but once again an industry shake-up is creating the possibility for new structures. Nowhere is this change more acute than in the market for web series, which has grown from a YouTube stunt (lonelygirl15) to a legitimate form capable of generating ad dollars and transitioning to traditional television. Even as it seeks acceptance from advertisers and networks, web series disrupt what we think of as “television,” “film,” even “amateur video.” Producers push forms, but also improvise ways to make money in a nascent marketplace.
Contemporary Film and Media Cultures in Bahrain: Emergence/ Convergence in a State of Emergency, Anne Ciecko
The recent (and as of this writing, ongoing) protests and declaration of a state of emergency in the Kingdom of Bahrain, following from revolutionary events in Tunisia and Egypt, have put the small island nation on the world media map. However, a close examination of Bahrain’s nascent film industry and film-cultural landscape reveals decades of seemingly proleptic discourse of national unity and representational challenges by and for specific constituencies, with and without state support. This presentation will address the emergence of feature filmmaking and digital possibilities in the countries of Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf. I argue that Gulf cinema since its inception had deconstructed the region’s cultural heritage—as well as state ideology and global capital-constructed modern mythologies. A transnational cinema/television/digital media-scape links Bahrain with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as with Egypt, the United States, and India. Bahraini filmmakers in particular have employed family melodrama as a vehicle to reflexively and retrospectively explore crises of national identity in relation to pan-Arabism/Arab nationalism, the Arab-Israeli War, the Persian Gulf Wars, and other local, regional, and global catalytic/cataclysmic events. These films attempt to identify when and how issues of difference and sectarianism have historically come to the fore in Bahrain, and when and how they have been strategically used for specific ends. In this presentation, I will focus primarily on film and media production but will also contextualize my discussion in relation to the multiplex scene, Bahrain’s diverse film clubs, transmedia platforms, and other modes of exhibition and circulation. In addition to homegrown feature films, I will explore web-based and mobile forums to solicit, make, and share iconographic Bahraini hashtags/ memes and short video texts at this very critical cultural moment.
Antipathy and Social Games, Mia Consalvo
The game development industry is broadening in ways it could not have imagined a decade ago. While console and high-end PC games are still popular, mobile, casual, indie and online games have increasingly eroded their market share. In particular, social games have caught the attention of the wider media, and many senior game designers now work on games found on Facebook. Yet, at the 2010 Game Developers Conference, a palpable antipathy towards Zynga and Facebook underscored much of the talk of social games. Critics have argued that such games are little more than skinner boxes, designed to replicate gambling systems and efficiently separate players from their money. Yet, how is social game design different from more traditional game design? This talk explores the ambivalence surrounding social games, both in the popular media and in the broader game development community. Overall, this talk addresses the shifting landscape of the game industry, and how developers themselves are positioning themselves in relation to that shift, and how they ultimately are re-defining what videogames are—and should be—in the process.
Social Media for Social Justice: Awareness and Activism by and for Young People
In order to harness the educational value of social networking in young peoples’ lives, educators must understand how it is potentially effective as a means of empowerment and a contributing factor to the development of young people’s social awareness. Those who have resisted the influence and increasingly pervasive presence of social media activities in the lives of young people are concerned with its affect on young people’s lack of education and knowledge base. Furthermore, there is a general concern and assumption that young people’s social media practices are frivolous and dangerous. The aim of this paper and presentation is to present research work that develops and situates young people’s social media practices within the theoretical framework of critical pedagogy, social justice education and cultural studies to fully explore social media as a means of empowerment and education for marginalized urban youth: Digital Youth Praxis. This framework suggests ways of developing critical lifeworld competencies through the digital social media practices of marginalized urban youth. In brief, Digital Youth Praxis is a set of social justice, equity and diversity life competencies that youth and educators develop through their digital social media practices.
“Walking” narrative: the possibilities of the Locast platform, Magda Rodrigues da Cunha
This paper analyses the results of the research developed by a partnership between the School of Social Communication at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and the MIT/ MobileLab, with the participation of RBS Communication Group. This investigation brings into light categories of analysis, such as narrative criteria, mobile (“walking”) narrative, narratives on cities and places, participatory journalism, as well as the appropriation of new narrative platforms created by the subjects involved. There is a perspective that implies the lack of narrative criteria or of an agenda that introduces the following question: what do people choose to narrate when they do not count on a specific instruction? It is worth mentioning that in this “mediatized” society, narrators, whether professionals or not, submit narrative contents that are common to several groups and which have been historically constructed within the culture, as a result of the coexistence with the traditional communication means and the way they organize news and contents. Based on the observation of narrative actions proposed by the Locast project, we have come to understand that forms of expression and appropriations regarding narrative technologies dialogue in the same context and emerge simultaneously.
Texts and Texting: TV and the Internet, June Deery
Reality TV presents a particularly rich example of an interactive, multiplatform use which opens up the media text beyond its broadcast and offers a complex model of viewership. Reality viewers are encouraged go online to extend the programming (video streams) or to engage with broadcast material through blogs, forums, quizzes or more overt commercial transactions. One interesting dynamic arises when TV participants read online viewer comments and undergo pain, humiliation and other reactions in a way that does not apply to those who perform fictional roles (e.g. The Real Housewives franchise). This ongoing viewer feedback perturbs future broadcast material. TV cast members may also use the same online space to manage their real-life/on-screen personae, as when their blogs attempt damage control and present an orthodox interpretation of their TV role. This paper will detail the shifting ontological and commercial aspects of this hybrid process and consider the ethical implications of the resultant destabilization of identity and authenticity.
Youth Media Productions: Deconstructing “Difference” or Reifying Norms?, Donna DeGennaro
The literature on the engagement of underrepresented youth in creating media productions is often framed as a way to appreciate an alternative definition of dominant norm and/or conceptualization of “other." This discourse largely relies on a definition of difference that should not be construed as difference per se, but as another equally valued way of being in the world. This paper explores the construction and deconstruction of marginalized youth media creations. More often than not, youth are asked to create digital artifacts in order to spotlight how individual and collective participation is mediated by and situated within historical, social, and cultural contexts. Examples of such engagements that work toward this vision include the creation of digital stories to foster agency in youths’ social lives (Hull, 2007), or the use of radio journalism where young people develop and produce the stories that are relevant to their communities and their lives (Chavez & Soep, 2005). These youth engagements aim to celebrate and incorporate differences to both empower youth and foster a cosmopolitan worldview (Appiah, 2006). While the intention is to privilege and equalize “difference”, such activity is at times interpreted as “damage centered” (Tuck, 2009) research. Drawing upon theoretical frames of cultural studies (Hammer & Kellner, 2009; Hall, 1996) and critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970), we examine whether these categories liberate social constructions of difference or serve to reify conceptualization of it.
Revisiting Bill Gates’ "Open Letter to Hobbyists,” Kevin Driscoll
Frustrated to discover that unauthorized copies of his company's only product were in circulation, Bill Gates penned an "Open Letter to Hobbyists" in 1975 urging readers to consider the economics of software development. Although the letter sparked a rich dialogue in the pages of contemporary hobbyist publications, the actual text fell out of circulation until the late-1990s when it began to circulate on USENET newsgroups dedicated to computing folklore. Advocates of free and open-source software seized upon Gates' "Open Letter" to position Microsoft as an opponent to sharing, personal computing's implied natural state. This paper attends to reception of Gates' letter across an uneven archive of hobbyist ephemera: microcomputer club newsletters, hobby electronics magazines, mail-order catalogs, and do-it-yourself handbooks. Returning to the discourse of early microcomputer hobbyists reveals that, in addition to their pioneering technical achievements, they also struggled to envision economic arrangements that would respect and value their creative labor.
How New Media Change Our Experience of Stories, Teun Dubbelman
This paper explores how our experience of narrative has changed with the emergence of new forms of narrative media, particularly with the medium of computer games. It explicates the distinctive character of this novel experience, and investigates how it differs from the narrative experiences created in older media such as the 19th century novel or the classical Hollywood film. The paper argues that in order to understand the experiential differences between these media, it is necessary to critically review the representational concept of narrative as developed once in structuralist narratology, and to develop an additional presentational conceptualization, applicable to both the marginal narrative practices of the past as well as the mainstream practices of the present. Drawing on recent theories on the distinction between representation and presentation from the fields of media studies and the arts, this paper explains the limits of a structuralist approach, and proposes a conceptual alternative.
The Influence of Hacking: Hacking Under the Influence, Ryan Ehmke
Although hackers reside on the periphery of mainstream culture, they occupy the center and leading edge of a culture’s determination of acceptable uses for a technology. That is to say, ethics are discussed and negotiated by the operators on the forefront of a technology well before they are addressed by institutions that reside at the center of cultural power. In addition, the negotiation of ethics for a new technology often occurs through re-mediation and technologies already present at the time of innovation. This paper examines hacking as a counterculture in both the contemporary and Victorian eras through literature like Sam Johnson: The Experience and Observations of a Railroad Telegraph Operator, Lightning Flashes and Electric Dashes, and a hacker conference I attended in the summer of 2008 called “The Last HOPE.” In discussing how ethics of technological operation are negotiated, I will suggest a model for studying the history of technology that locates the focal point of influence on the periphery via hackers and everyday operators of technology.
Film, Video, Metadata: Time-Axis Manipulation After the Linear Medium, Daniel Faltesek
The digital has a special meaning for media producers. No more cutting and splicing film strips. No more waiting for dailies. And perhaps most important for the corporate producer: no more inefficiency. The move to non-linear editing is a central technological innovation in the development of reality television, intense sports programming, and the latest battlefield systems. In this paper, I read the rise of digital non-linear editing systems as an analog to the rise of the typewriter in the work of Friedrich Kittler. The dream of digital editing is the accomplishment of herculean tasks with the greatest of ease. The curse of digital editing is that the difficult, thoughtful, special effects of a generation ago are now expected, and even required. For Kittler, the typewriter held the promise of the Real. In the twenty-first century, the non-linear editor is both a typewriter of images and the source of the symbolic grammar of the editing timeline. In the nineteenth century we penned letters, now we edit mashups. Does non-linear editing entail the democratization of access to editing technology and the active engagement of the audience with an online communal life? Or, does non-linear editing stabilize and sterilize the symbolic and the imaginary?
Digital Delivery of Course Content: Is Johnny Reading?, Andrew Feldstein
Fundamental to the understanding of a transition is not just knowing what you are
transitioning to, but understanding what you are transitioning from. In the Fall of 2010,
after the school of business at Virginia State University implemented a digital delivery
system for course content via Flat World Knowledge in nine of the core business
courses, a representative of one of the traditional publishers challenged the move by
asking “how do you know the students are reading the digital textbooks?” The comment and the retort “how do we know they were reading your textbooks?” highlight one of the primary dilemmas in the transition between traditional textbooks and digital content. We still don't know whether students are reading course content but online behaviors leave a trail that is easy to follow and a significant amount of data just waiting to be crunched. We know when a student registers for their digital textbook, when they download digital content and what digital content that they are downloading.
Engaging Neighborhoods with a Sense of History – Civic Media in Evolving Urban Settings, Kurt Fendt, Audobon Dougherty, Melissa Edoh
Urban neighborhoods, especially in large cities are undergoing constant changes: new residents with different cultural backgrounds are moving in, longtime residents are pushed out through processes of gentrification, urban (re)development impacts both small businesses and the quality of life in these areas. How can civic engagement deal with such unstable conditions? How can neighborhoods develop an identity that connects the past with the present? What is the role of civic media in this process? How can citizens organize successful urban civic action with smart and flexible uses of digital technologies? This presentation will explore the role of civic engagement in urban neighborhoods and how memory and local identities have shaped successful, long-term urban activism. Taking the activist groups of a Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood as an example, the presenters will discuss the historical context, the conditions, and the actions that have created a recognized model of civic engagement. Collaborating closely with the local citizen group "Bürgerinitiative Oderberger Straße," the Engaging Neighborhoods Project is currently developing a flexible online civic media platform that supports local communities in the collection, organization, and sharing of information for political action. The project is focusing initially on documenting the process of transforming a public city space into a livable, “green” urban space. By engaging local citizens and a wider public, such a project is able to document, trace, and further develop a historically sensitive civic identity through the integration of digital media.
Emulation as a Tool to Study Videogame History, Clara Fernandez-Vara
Computer game technologies and operating systems improve and change over time, so that platforms become obsolete after a few years (at times, even within a few months) of their release. This process becomes an obstacle when for game researchers and teachers, who may need to play older games. Emulators, virtual machines that can be run within an operating system, are one of the most valuable tools to be able to play older games in current computing platforms. It has also become a option for game publishers to redistribute games whose rights they own but cannot commercialize any more, making them available again for new audiences. On the other hand, emulation also has its drawbacks and limitations, particularly in the cases where special hardware was needed to play the games. There are questions that need to be addressed in order to understand the role of emulation as a tool to study and teach videogames. What is a faithful emulation? How does emulation change the original platform? What can we gain by using emulators to play older games? What are the limitations of emulation?
Publishing: It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine), Kathleen Fitzpatrick
As digital formats and platforms have come to dominate media consumption, many media industries have faced the perils of transition, with varying degrees of success. We've watched a cycle of panic, retrenchment, and somewhat begrudging innovation in the music and film industries; the newspaper industry has begun to implode under its inability to create a viable new business model; there are hints in the air that cable providers may be next, as more and more customers move to streaming or downloading their television from the internet. The book publishing industry, however, continues to experience a kind of schadenfreude in watching what's going on around them. The result has been a determination on the part of the publishing industry to find the correct combination of devices and DRM that will sustain their existing business model, rather than rethinking the function of publishing in the digital era. However, it's clear that some serious obstacles lie ahead for the industry: tools for de-DRMing ebooks are surfacing, ebook filesharing is on the rise, and conflicts between the business models of content providers and those who control the platforms (see Amazon and Apple) are producing questions about the sustainability of existing sales structures. Most importantly, however, many authors are recognizing that ebooks allow them to go around the publishing industry to reach their audience directly. All of these reasons begin to suggest that we may be witnessing the late age of publishing, or at least the late age of trade publishing, as a strange new post-publishing landscape begins to take shape around us. This paper will explore some of the possibilities that this post-publishing landscape presents for authors, and some of the perils that it presents for the entrenched business model within the publishing industry, looking both at what authors, publishers, and readers alike might value in this transition, and what we might have cause to regret.
The Ideology of Piracy and the Public Spheres of Modernity, Martin Fredriksson
Over the last decade, the global media industry has been grappling with the growing threat of piracy. While representatives of media companies and copyright organizations discard piracy as pure theft, others regard it as a new and perfectly legitimate form of cultural consumption and (re)production. As the fight against piracy has given rise to stricter copyright laws and harsher implementations it has also provoked a resistance from various activists and organizations who regard this kind of copyright expansionism as an unfair restriction of the public domain and the consumer’s rights. This paper will look at the ideologization of piracy in relation to recent changes in copyright law. But it will also take the contemporary pirate organizations as a starting point to discuss the practice and ideology of piracy against a historical backdrop. Eventually it aims to show how the tension between copyright and piracy has reflected some crucial aspects of modern society in the past, such as the construction of private property and the creation of a public sphere, and how this reverberates in the copyright debates of today.
Body Politics in an Age of Ubiquitous Media: Resistance in the Face(book) of Relentless Conviviality, Norm Friesen and Shannon Lowe
In the age of Facebook and pervasive and often voluntary surveillance, the meanings of what has previously been described as the modern body have been changing and mutating. By looking specifically at how the bodies and identities of Facebook users are configured in their profile information –and how this information can be used by Facebook and its advertisers—this paper shows how conflicting strategies and priorities are negotiated in this social networking service. Such an examination indicates the options for agency and resistance afforded by such a network to be limited in important ways - specifically by the “social” nature of its architecture. It is designed to encourage convergence, conviviality and consent while actively discouraging disagreement, disapproval and dissent –to say nothing of its panoptic tracking abilities. But when brought into relation with bodies on-line, in conflict, and their possibilities for acting in concert, as the basis of civil society, the convergence and coordination enabled by these social media can sometimes open up new possibilities and forms for action and resistance.
Understanding Television as a Social Experience, Alberto Frigo
Defining the future of television continues to be the subject of intense interest. In theory, the convergence of television with the internet makes an increasing amount of content available to viewers, when they want it – any program, any time, on any device – and can make television a participatory experience. Attempts to realize this goal involve design research that focuses on balancing multiple forms of engagement, ranging from so-called passive consumption to intensely social experiences, against the growing need to simplify the discovery of content itself. Through analysis that explores the “journey” of content, this study considers how emerging forms of curation and annotation are shaping the television experience. These forms of annotation take place on the technical level, through sophisticated tagging and filtering engines, as well as through social mechanisms that enrich the cultural relevance of specific content. This study will examine how such annotation impacts the production and consumption of large-scale news events such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. For example, how was the live video link of the gushing oil leak tagged across different platforms and narrative formats, and how did the subsequent spreadability of this media [content + annotations] through social network ethnographies in turn shape the narrative of this event? This study also considers the gap between the “seamlessness” promoted by companies battling to control how television should be consumed in the future and what it might suggest for interface designs that anticipate the social experience of the next-generation of television.
Generational Divides in Terms of the Actor-Network-Theory: Potential Crises and the Potential of Crises, Verena Fuchsberger
Using the term Generational Divides implicitly contains the idea that the generational divide is exclusively or at least mainly disadvantageous for the older generations. Regarding western societies, they do not keep up with the younger ones in terms of new media, i.e. the Internet, social media etc, still less in an environment of manifold and rapid technological transitions. However, when considering traditional forms of media, e.g. newspapers or books, there might be a reverse generational divide. Do younger ones unlearn how to read books and newspapers? The aim of this paper is to describe the generational divide as a crisis, which is driving changes positively or negatively. According to Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory and its explanation for adopting a change, a divide illustrates a crisis, which leads to action. As soon as any prescription is perceived, actors will act (according to Latour, those can be humans or non-humans, e.g. technology or media). This paper tries to figure out how the generational divide might be described in terms of Latour and his understanding of the process of change.
Making Selves/Making Citizens in the Age of YouTube, Megan Fulwiler and Kim Middleton
In only six years, YouTube has generated a surprising amount of scholarly discourse documenting its effects, implications, and potential. Books by Burgess and Green, Strangelove, Snickars and Vondreau, as well as Alexandra Juhasz’s upcoming Learning from YouTube, join a burgeoning array of articles, videos, and blog posts that describe this platform for cultural production/distribution. Noting the importance of user-created content and dissemination, Henry Jenkins lauds YouTube as a model with significant potential for future civic participation. Similarly, Howard Rheingold suggests that as young media makers become “active co-creators” of culture “educators have an opportunity... to exercise active citizenship.” Our presentation takes up Rheingold’s invitation to educators. However, rather than advocating a move away from the personal and toward a specific civic or political topic, we seek to re-activate the historical relationship between the personal and the civic in order to help students become engaged digital citizens who use participatory media to create, revise, and re-imagine the relationship between the self and the world in ways that matter to an audience.
Virtual Bliss, Analog Horrors: Reading the Imperfect Digital Image in Film and the Video Game, Robert Furze
It is possible to perceive the existence of digital technology in film as a means of creating a sense of seamlessness between virtual and analog images. Certainly, as North (2008) notes, science fiction films such as Avatar are able to offer an aesthetic in which landscapes and the bodies of actors are able to be transformed through digital technology, but even non-spectacular films such as Panic Room are able to benefit from such enhancements. As Cubitt (2004) suggests, the melding of analog and digital images in such films offers a glimpse into a possible, utopian future.
But in this new media environment, video games suggest that this synthesis of analog and virtual realities is far from complete. As agency is passed from producer to player, the mediated text is transformed. Either by design or by accident, the player can discover the ruptures in verisimilitude that the designers (according to Wolf, 2003) attempt to hide. This paper looks at examples from video games (in particular, the short horror game The Path) to discover how the visual language of certain new media texts indicate affinities with the pre-digital – and imperfect – special effects of genre films such as Videodrome.
The Sport-Blogging Community and the Public Sphere: An Israeli Perspective
Yair Galily, Ilan Tamir
To a large extent, most of the theoretical research on blogs and blogging relates to uses and gratifications. Many scholars have applied Goffman’s rituals of social interaction and self presentation to help explain why people blog. The aim of this current research was to determine to what extant blogs are serving as a public arena, wherein discourse conditions of equality, mutuality, and symmetry are amplified. Research questions were tested through a convenience sample from audience members (N=103) of the most popular sporting blog in Israel, and involved both online surveys and in-depth interviews. Findings illustrate the process of forming a social community (virtual settlement/ virtual community) through discussion and engagement to a large extent similar to the ideal speech situations presented by Habermas (1991). Indeed it seems as everyone is entitled to converse and engage in discourse; everyone has the right to raise questions, question any claims made in the discourse (criticism), and make any claim that comes to mind. At the same time, however, findings indicate that specific topics get disproportionate coverage and debate often leading to overlapping collection of conversations and not a single discussion.
Making the Transition from Lay to Expert Knowledge in an Urban Community College, Sean Galvin
As part of a two-year Teagle Foundation “Big Questions” grant the American Folklore Society has engaged eleven faculty members from across the United States to take on the challenge of delineating the lay-expert continuum in undergraduate education. I am one of those eleven members. I am examining these parameters in an urban community college setting with particular emphasis on the effect Web 2.0 technology has made on how this population transitions from high school to college, and from a two-year to a four-year college. In order to best address the Teagle issue I ask: “how can we develop and challenge novice learners to adopt and adapt their learning styles to distinguish between formal and informal knowledge, or between academic and experiential anthropological knowledge using a combination of new media technology and inquiry-based research.” The transition from high school to college is fraught with peril. Where our faculty find that students have great facility with FaceBook, Twitter, del.icio.us, and YouTube, they have difficulty with simple file management, handling e-mail, and posting to BlackBoard. This fundamental disconnect is frustrating to “digital natives” who think their skills are more than adequate for both college and the job market. It is our task not only to inform them how woefully unprepared they are but it is also incumbent upon us to make the necessary corrections to their learning so they will indeed be ready for the twenty-first century work place.
Hoarding the Ethereal: How We Have more Things but with Less Clutter, Gayle Gatchalian
There is an emerging trend the BBC has called “21st century minimalism,” a lifestyle best embodied by CultofLess.com. Here, individuals divest themselves of much of their personal possessions, to the extent of selling their home and living out of a laptop, external hard drive, and an Internet connection. In this paper, I consider the evolving materiality of media—from the immateriality of speech to the materiality of books, CDs etc. to the current “liminal” materiality of digital media—and how it has destabilized the “thingness” of media, evidenced by the rancorous digital copyright debate. I then argue that digital minimalism ultimately contradicts itself for in terms of ownership of discrete media artifacts, the individual ends up owning more because of the ability to store files to scale (even if there is less “clutter”) and that the back-up requirement of storage actually multiplies the “amount” of the artifact. I also discuss some implications of the ability to store data “forever” and ultimately argue for the value of the purge—forgetting and, most importantly, deleting.
From Dots and Dashes to Bits and Bytes: What the Telegraph Can Teach us About 21st Century Change and Transition, Heidi Gautschi
In 1837, the first American telegraph line was built between Baltimore and Washington DC. Within fifty years, telegraph wires crisscrossed continents and oceans establishing the first global communication network. The telegraph ushered in a period of deep and expansive change. Societies worldwide had to fundamentally alter their concepts of communication by renegotiating who could communicate with whom and under what circumstances. The telegraph was the first network to transmit messages using electricity, thus signaling a new age of disembodied communication that modified the spatial and temporal dimensions of human interaction. The telegraph also induced changes in such institutions as financial markets, diplomacy and war, journalism, and social relations; and it helped transform information into a commodity. In this paper, I will illustrate how the age of the telegraph is relevant to the convulsive change associated with media today. I will provide insights into key debates and negotiations that occurred in the popular press and popular fiction of the telegraph period to demonstrate the continuities and discontinuities that exist between the past and present.
User-Generated Platforms in Wikipedian Governance; or Users Are Developers, Too! , Stuart Geiger
Much research and commentary has examined how Wikipedia, the self-described “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” operates such that ‘it’ reinforces certain kinds of power relations and undermines others. Like with many other technologically mediated organizations, this monolithic understanding of ‘the Wikipedia’ collapses a complex web of humans and software into a single entity. Yet instead of demanding a return to clean dichotomies between social structures and technical infrastructures, I argue that this incoherence stems from an overdetermined notion of software platforms as server-side codebases. The relationship between the Wikipedia community and the MediaWiki software upon which it runs provides an excellent case for problematizing this understanding of software platforms. As I show in several case studies, Wikipedia’s software platform has been tweaked, hacked, customized, and extended by not only official developers, but also unofficial users to such an extent that it bears only a cosmetic resemblance to ‘stock’ MediaWiki. I elaborate the concept of “user-generated platforms” to describe how users and developers co-construct mediated environments.
Lessons from the Front: Rio’s War against Drug Trafficking, Participatory Culture and New Media Paradigms for Brazilian Soap Operas, Leandro Gejfinbein, Rejane Spitz
n the master's research we have been conducting for the last two years, we
have proposed a set of guidelines that might lead to the conception of a new
media platform that could support world-famous Brazilian soap operas. Along the
way, however, an episode of significant social impact in Brazil has come out in
Rio de Janeiro, reaching international repercussion: state police forces
reconquered a slum territory called “Alemão” complex, historically considered the
largest drug trafficking bunker in the city. The episode – which included several
violent actions in different points of the city – took place in December 2010 and
lasted for 5 days, directly affecting the lives of thousands of local residents, and
mobilizing the entire city. We examined this episode in light of the research
debates and theories developed by authors such as Jenkins, Murray and
Manovich, among others, and we raised several important issues about media
arrangements and mediation practices, specifically the dynamics through
television, Twitter, major media coverage and amateur content producers. It was a
sample of a real and tangible way of how cyber-culture is changing the media
ecology, and also useful as foundation of some research assumptions, such as
those concerning the role of the author, narrative forms, participatory culture, and
user behavior on social networks. Therefore, the paper reports those findings,
describing what that episode was about, what conclusions were reached upon its
analysis and how worth it was in terms of creating a new model of Brazilian soap
Getting What You Pay For: Piloting a Free e-Textbook Program in an Advanced Writing Course, Chris Gerben
This paper will describe the process of piloting the use of e-textbooks in an advanced writing course at the University of Michigan. The library-initiated pilot sought to gauge student interest in reading textbooks via our campus CMS (Sakai’s CTools.) Of the five courses chosen for the pilot, mine was the only Humanities-based one, and also the only writing-intensive class. This paper will examine how these unique attributes allowed students to engage with the e-textbooks by reading them, but also writing back to them by proposing changes to the format, design, and implementation of future e-textbook programs. Practically, the e-textbooks provided source material for students writing about and proposing new learning platforms. Throughout the pilot, students analyzed, critiqued, and offered suggestions for ways to implement the program in different ways. It is interesting to note that none of the students approved of the e-textbook platform as it currently exists. Often the students could not access the books, could not save or print their notes, and needed to be online in order to do their work. As a result, students’ suggestions for improvement will round out this paper.
The Like Economy: The Social Web in Transition, Carolin Gerlitz and Anne Helmond
Recently, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the social will be the future organizing principle of economies. This paper will examine how platforms increasingly
connect economic value and the social by focusing on the role of social buttons. Drawing on digital methods, we explore the growing implementation of social buttons and counters. Special attention is paid to Facebook and its Open Graph which allows the platform to connect to the entire web through the Like Button. Linking Facebook’s efforts to a historical perspective on the hit and link economy, we claim that what might be in the making is not only a social web, but a re-centralized, data intensive fabric - the Like economy. This Like economy can be understood as part of emerging free economies which offer services for free and generate profits via their by-products - in Facebook’s case social activities such as liking, sharing and commenting.
Cybernetics, the Music of John Cage and New Media, Ananya Ghoshal
“Cybernetics” is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems and has been more famously defined by Norbert Wiener, as the science of “control and communication, in the animal and in the machine ” (1948). Many noted artists and musicians have derived inspiration from this concept and its on-going importance in new media, and the arts can hardly be overstated. In my paper, I would like to argue for the importance of situating cybernetics within a larger cultural context of the arts; especially music, to identify its social, political, and aesthetic impact on human identity. For the discussion, I will take the musical examples of John Cage, the prominent American experimental composer who worked in minimalist and process-generated music, following cybernetic principles. Roy Ascott, in his famous work Behaviourist Art and the Cybernetic Vision (1964) has talked about the cybernetic vision in the arts that began with the premise that interactive art must free itself from the modernist ideal of the “perfect object” and he has developed on Cage’s premise, suggesting that the “spirit of cybernetics” offers the most effective means for achieving a mutual exchange between the artwork and its audience. Fundamentally, the question to ask is- where do today’s artists stand in relation to these radical changes in information systems? And, what are the ways they can shape and develop a vision in art by understanding its underlying cybernetic characteristics?
Sync in Progress: Disney/ABC Transmedia Marketing and Audience Address, Jennifer Gillan
The “are you ready to change the way you watch television?” promotion for the ABC Grey’s Anatomy sync app for iPad implies that the Walt Disney Company and its corporate partners are responding to the current and the future changes in the way “viewsers” watch and interact with television content. A focus on producer-sponsored, viewser-generated content and social networking allows for a consideration of how media conglomerates like Disney circulate their desired self-representations; enlist viewsers to reinforce that representation by contributing and sharing content; and repackage viewser contributions as part of the larger brand stories circulated among on-air and online platforms. Within this context, an analysis of Disney Channel initiatives is particularly intriguing given the company’s stated interest in the blurred lines between traditional toys and youth electronics and its development of the “first line of consumer electronics especially designed exclusively for children” in recognition of the extension of “play patterns” into “online virtual worlds.”
Modern Projection Planetariums as Media of Iterative Reinvention, Boris Goesl
In its history, the modern planetarium increasingly was subject to radical changes. In the early years (1923-1950) a planetarium’s artificial horizon was shaped as recognizable skyline. The handcrafted silhouettes with increasing frequency had been supplemented, and later replaced by projected panoramas. Not only visual mismatch of fixed skyscrapers in front of projected (e.g. lunar-)panoramas―a ‘(con-)fusion of horizons’―rendered handmade skylines disturbing, but also those no longer corresponding with the present true constantly changing city-skylines, constituted incongruity. Even the horizon’s horizontality was lost, since―due to the fusion of IMAX-dome-cinema and planetarium (first consolidated in San Diego, 1973)―the dome was tilted, entailing a tilt of the auditorium level: a truly unstable platform. A transition from concentric to unidirectional seating correlated with that to ascending seating. The cinema-planetarium-fusion then initiated a profound transition towards new program diversity far beyond astronomy. Boston’s Planetarium reopened as digital multimedia theater in 2011. With a video-full-dome-system complementing the new Zeiss star-projector, it is a ‘melting pot’ of disparate media technologies. Formerly labeled ‘cultural dinosaurs’ confronting media competition, planetariums, more recently having turned from astronomical lecture halls into hybrid multimedia arenas, have overcome their former antiquatedness.
A Sort of Umbilical Relation : Capital Flows and the Scopic Portal of the Computer Screen, Michael Z. Goldberg
Since the boom years of the 1990s, the economic importance of capital flows has superseded that of flows of trade in goods and services. Digital technology has bred the hyper-mobilization of money and a dematerialized financial market. The same technology has facilitated the real-time transmission of images from the public domain, and thus the democratization of news and social media; but it has also fuelled unbridled financial speculation and the volatility of capitalism’s boom and bust cycles. In considering this dichotomy, my paper will look at the virtual environments of 24-hour financial markets and online computer games, comparing traders’ immersion in the electronic ‘flow world’ of financial data with computer game players’ projection of their senses into what they consider believable teletopographical scenarios. My paper will discuss electronic financial markets, online computer games, and real-time news transmission in processual terms, locating their epicentres not in the electronic infrastructure, the conduit through which their data flows, but embedded rather in what Baudrillard described as “a sort of umbilical relation” – the fluid immersive pull and reality of the computer screen itself.
The Network University in Transition, Bob Hanke
Digital media and their networks have become necessary to the everyday functioning of the university, scholarly communication, circuits of knowledge, and the faculty’s worldly engagement. Technological change within the university has not produced one homogenous mediatized academic world. Rather, university-based media are a mix of dominant, residual or emergent technologies. The milieu of the university is both bounded in space-time and deterritorialized by assemblages of screens-users-applications, the logic of connectivity, and crossflows of information. This paper will focus on the experience of this transition from two sides. On one side is the classroom and how it has been upgraded within a wireless university so that interface time supercedes classroom and face-to-face time. Along with a new cultural metaform of academic work, live diffusion of cyberpedagogy has become normal. However, the disjuncture between the classroom and the mediatized world has narrowed in some ways – course website and content management systems are common–and widened in other ways – Facebook and ‘smart’ mobile phones are the ‘new’ media. On the other side is the managerial role played by chief information officers and IT professionals as intermediaries between the university and the IT and software industry. At York University, for example, the institutional adoption and implementation of ICTs has been accompanied by a campus building boom and student population explosion. IT strategy and planning has entailed adapting to external technological drivers, building information infrastructure, and adjusting internal inputs and outputs of information. My research suggests that the network and its platforms are metastable and the academic milieu is marked by increasing levels of entropy.
Philadelphia Neighborhoods: Journalism Street by Street, Dianne M. Garyantes, Christopher Harper
The presentation will describe and evaluate Philadelphia Neighborhoods, a project that was established six years ago to better tell stories in the undercovered and underserved neighborhoods of Philadelphia. The reporting can be seen at www.philadelphianeighborhoods.com . Through this nationally recognized program, Philadelphia Neighborhoods provides a form of coverage missing from many urban communities: journalism street by street. Currently, 30 neighborhoods are served by this program through stories in print, the web, and TV broadcasts. The presentation also will evaluate the experiences of the reporters in the neighborhoods and the response of the neighborhood members to the coverage.
Buttons and Fingers: Our Digital Condition, Till A. Heilmann
In the so-called digital age, a large part of everyday life revolves around push buttons (e.g. on kitchen appliances, elevators, vending machines, automated tellers etc.). Indeed, perception and knowledge are nowadays mediated more and more through the manipulation of buttons (e.g. on mobile phones, computer keyboards, cameras etc.). An examination of the button’s significance in the technical and cultural framework of post-industrial society thus promises a better understanding of our “digital condition.” Against the backdrop of the button’s seemingly imminent displacement by the touch screen, the paper outlines the research plan for a historical and theoretical media analysis of the push button. Characterizing the button as a pivotal element of today’s media technology and a powerful manifestation of digitality, it proposes a concept of digitality that goes beyond common definitions (i.e. being composed of discrete and numerically represented elements) and entails the role of the human hand or, more precisely, its digits. The paper argues that the so-called digital age can be described as resulting from the ‘revolution of the button’ and that the ‘digital gesture’ of pushing buttons is the fundamental cultural technique of our time.
Academic Journals Online, Karen Hellekson
The transition of scholarly discourse online is proving a bumpy one. Although some radical new modes of content vetting and delivery are emerging and "digital humanities" has become a buzzword, scholarly work online in the humanities and social sciences is not accorded the same prestige compared to journals that use a print-only or dual print-online model, despite the obvious advantages of access and use of embedded (multi)media. Yet these fears also reveal sites of possible renegotiation of the academic model in a way that will help scholars and scholarly discourse. Publishing in the humanities and the social sciences needs to follow the lead of the sciences, which were early adopters of moving and organizing content online: physics pioneered the online preprint; ClinicalTrials.gov registers trials and provides instructions for investigators; and journals in many disciplines publish online-only supplemental materials, such as data sets and online videos. Further, Creative Commons copyright and open access models have much to offer. All these ideas may be usefully co-opted by the digital humanities.
The Library Catalog as Social Glue: Using Local Data to Establish Relevance, Visibility and Transparency in Communities, Margaret Heller, Nell Taylor
Chicago Underground Library (CUL) has developed a unique cataloging and discovery system using Drupal that we eventually hope to provide as a both a technical and theoretical template that organizations can implement in their own cities. This replicable project uses the lens of an archive to examine the creative, political and intellectual interdependencies of a region, tracing how people have worked together, who influenced whom, where ideas first developed, and how they spread from one publication to another through individuals, creating a highly visible network of primary sources. This paper will discuss the process for designing our keyword-based, community-driven cataloging system and the catalog itself. Catalogers use non-hierarchical combinations of subjects and keywords, allowing data that provides hyperlocal or alternative perspectives to compete alongside dominant historical records and reflecting the changing way that users seek information. Users may also contribute contextual comments and corrections from which our catalogers will filter relevant, verifiable information to add to each entry. Discussions remain on each record and changes to the entry itself will be tracked in the interest of transparency and conversation.
Where Do Bloggers Blog? Studying Platform Transitions within the Dutch Blogosphere, Anne Helmond, Esther Weltevrede
The blogosphere has played an instrumental role in the transition and evolution of linking technologies and practices. This research traces and maps historical transitions of the Dutch blogosphere and the glue that creates interconnections between blogs which - traditionally considered - turn the collective of blogs into a blogosphere. This paper aims to problematize the definition of the blogosphere by questioning who the actors that form the blogosphere through its interconnections are. Blogs included in the Loglijst, an early manual initiative to index the Dutch blogosphere, as well as several other expert lists, serve as starting points to be retrieved from the Internet Archive. Archives have become indispensable tools to study early web cultures. Whereas the Internet Archive’s interface, the Wayback Machine, privileges single site histories, this research aims to repurpose the Wayback Machine to trace and map transitions in linking technologies and practices in the blogosphere over time using digital methods and custom software. We are thus able to create yearly network visualizations of the historical Dutch blogosphere (1999-2009). This approach allows us to study the evolution of linking practices, which suggests that particular blogging practices can be distinguished through the distinct linking patterns of linklogs, lifelogs and platformlogs. Moreover, this approach not only allows us to study the emergence and decline of blog platforms and social media platforms within the blogosphere but it also allows us to investigate whether particular linking technologies or practices are specific to local blog cultures.
Platforms and Pipelines in Transition: Anatomy of a Policy Crisis, Jennifer Holt
The iPhone represents the convergence of telecommunications, media, and computing which has been a dream come true for consumers. But, for regulatory policy, it has created a nightmare. Essentially, policy has been outpaced by technological and industrial advances, as regulators are struggling to accommodate a digital and convergent media landscape. Content and carriers no longer conform to their originally designed borders or boundaries – computers now deliver phone calls, phones now deliver information and entertainment – and that has created a regulatory crisis. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is partially regulating the iPhone and similar devices with policy fundamentals first written in the era of the telegraph! This chaos presents pressing economic, technological and cultural dilemmas about regulation in an era of convergence. This presentation will address these dynamics (and crises) in an era of transition, by focusing on the ways in which distribution is evolving and examining the specific role that the iPhone has played in transforming media platforms, and the pipelines that service them.
Media Activism in Search of ‘Truth’? Questioning the Mission to Restore Sanity, Theo Hug, Claudia Schwarz
For a young, media savvy, radically globalized generation, television as a platform for news has lost momentum. Ironically however, in a media landscape with a variety of news providers competing for audiences and trust, television news parodies like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report attract new audiences as they seem to fill a gap. They succeed not only in entertaining and informing (even educating) a previously “deactivated,” relatively young target audience but also in initiating activism by using old and new (social) media. How can it be that a comedy show succeeds in promoting reason and gets young people to stand up for more sanity in politics and culture? This paper examines several responses to the (more and less serious) calls for action of the two shows and discusses their delicate role as entertainers, watchdogs, and activists for reason, sanity, and what is left of ‘truth' in the media. Furthermore, implications for critical media studies are considered by questioning the claims of “education towards truth” (cf. Mitterer 1983).
Unstable Play/Unstable Labor: Play Testers and the Production of Fun, Nina B. Huntemann
Play testers play videogames that are inherently unstable; games that are unfinished, unbalanced and often riddled with broken code. Their labor is also unstable in that play testers are frequently short-term, contract-based workers, unpaid volunteers from fan communities or “family and friends” recruited by game designers. And yet, from these unstable labor and play environments, testing is “the backbone of software development” (Piaseckyj 2010). Moreover, changes in the economic structure and industrial practices of game development, namely the concentration of development houses into large publishing conglomerates, have lead to the professionalization of play testing. Based on interviews with producers and play testers, accounts from game development post-mortems, and usability research case studies, this paper considers the critical role of testing in the production of play. Specifically, the author examines how moments of instability are discovered, evaluated, and tamed through the professionalized practices and industrial logics of play testing.
Facebook and Publicness: The News Sphere, Catalina Iorga
During its f8 conference in April 2010, Facebook launched a set of personalized tools called social plugins, namely the ‘Like’ and ‘Recommend’ buttons. Any website can now effectively turn into a Facebook page by implementing a few lines of code. In this paper, I examine how the biggest social network organizes the Web into different closed environments – or spheres – by taking up the example of news websites. According to Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s Director of Media Partnerships, news platforms should “focus on content and status updates to increase engagement” (2010) through, for instance, emotional headlines, which makes their information more ‘likeable'. Plugins associated to the 'Like' and 'Recommend' buttons, such as the Friends’ Activity field present on CNN’s website, direct logged-in Facebook users to articles their friends already ‘liked’. In light of this commercial pressure on news content, exercised by Facebook through its media and journalism recommendations, and the increasing personalization of news, realized by the spread of social plugins, I discuss how a “future of the web […] filled with personalized experiences” (Zuckerberg, 2010) raises crucial questions about democracy and publicness.
The Guild Storyworld, Alex Jenkins
In my paper, I will discuss the referential structure of Felicia Day's comics prequel story for The Guild, as well as the upcoming comics extensions of that storyworld. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which contemporary comics adapt non-superhero forms that date back over 40 years, and thus serve as an implicit invitation into the medium of graphic narrative beyond Marvel and DC. Similarly, the web series serves as an implicit invitation into gaming culture for fans primarily interested in experimentations at the limit of television narrative. I will situate these "invitations" as a fundamental liminal stage of fan-becoming, which is at the core of my interest in fan characterization. The Guild comics take on the typically masculine terrain of the predominantly male universe of MMORPGs, and tell a feminine story of authorial participation in that universe.
Putting the Pieces Together Again: Digital Photography and the Compulsion to Order Violence at Abu Ghraib, Brian C. Johnsrud
This paper considers the release of the digital Abu Ghraib photographs within the context of psychoanalytic trauma theory involving repetition, memory, temporality, and narrative formation. The American response to the photographs, especially from military investigators, revealed their urgent investigative need to "plot" and temporalize the event on an axis of idiosyncratic mistakes in judgment. The response among many Iraqis, however, was to encode the event as a repetition, a latent cultural memory in a longe durée of traumatic historical encounters between the Middle East and the "West." The challenge presented to the U.S. Abu Ghraib inquiry team—and also to this study—is a uniquely digital one: an over-abundance of photographs in the form of digital media encoded with metadata.
Guanxi and Mobile Social Network in China, Liu Jun, Zhao Hui
Literally meaning ‘relation’ or ‘personal connections’, Guanxi stands for the endemic interpersonal relationship and social ties among various parties that make up the network and support one another in various Chinese milieus. This paper examines the guanxi-embedded mobile social network in China. Mobile phones have become more and more popular in Chinese people’s everyday lives. Research on mobile communication for social interactions in China typically focuses on the questions of telecommunication policies, rumors and gossip under highly-controlled situations, and the political implication of satiric SMS against authorities and bureaucracies. Yet, of the many individuals experiencing the convenience of telecommunication development, of the many individuals suffering from information censorship, and of the many individuals engaging in SMS criticism, only a few talked about guanxi. How does mobile communication influence the way Chinese interact with each other, and bring further changes to interpersonal relationships and guanxi network in China? By focusing on several concrete case studies with over 80 in-depth interviews, this study observes that mobile social networks are a way that Chinese people cultivate, maintain and strengthen their guanxi networks.
“Interop,” Internet Commercialization, and the Early Politics of Global Computer Networks, Colleen Kaman
At a time of ongoing debates about how to shore up America’s lagging broadband infrastructure, and increasing restrictions on networked communications at home and abroad, this study returns to an earlier chapter in the history of global Internet connectivity. It does so by considering one largely unexamined force that proved critical to the Internet’s global physical expansion and commercial success: the “Interop” computer-networking trade show and an affiliated “exposition.” Assembled by a core group of former Arpanet researchers, Interop suggests that the success of the Internet as a global communications medium was not only a technical achievement, as is commonly believed, but also the result of organizational accomplishments. The period examined culminates with the Internet 1996 World Exposition. Through that event, technologist Carl Malamud drew on the rhetoric of turn-of-the-century world’s fairs to demonstrate the value of faster networks as well as argue for a conception of “the commons” that could ideally be served by the rapidly privatizing Internet.
Disruptive Technologies and Transforming Policies: Fair Use of Visual Images, Gary Keller
Museum owners of works in the public domain use internet technologies to both advertise their properties and to make money from licenses and permissions to use images of them. Wikipedia has launched a full-press assault on prevailing museum practice. The Wikimedia Foundation states as its official position that: "faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain, and claims to the contrary represent an assault on the very concept of a public domain." This presentation reviews the current public domain copyright debates in some depth and extends the discussion from two-dimensional images to other images including three-dimensional ones and streaming video. A landmark court case, The Bridgeman Art Library v Corel Corporation (18 February 1999), is reviewed with special attention to the key concept of “slavish copying,” which is not covered by copyright: An exact reproduction of an image in the public domain does not possess creativity itself and therefore is not protected under copyright law.
Stories with Choices: Artist´s Multimedia Narratives, Raivo Kelomees
In this presentation attention is focused on so-called artist´s multimedia. The field could be defined by terms such as interactive narrative and cinema, documentary multimedia, interactive art, combinatorial art and films, database narrative etc. Examples are brought from new media art history: "The Exquisite Mechanism of Shivers" (Bill Seaman 1991/94), "Portrait One" (Luc Courchesne, 1990/95), and other works specifically from the Estonian art scene. Works by students are analyzed in depth, particularly documentary and fictional interactive stories with local sensibility: Ulikooli-Vanemuise-Pepleri-Vallikraavi (Gabriela Jarvet, Lauri Jarvlepp, Kaiko Lipsmae 2002) and others. I try to answer questions like: does possibility to choose narrative path give additional value to the artwork? What are the differences between artistic or fictional interactive multimedia narrative and traditional narrative forms in literature or cinema? Possibilities of breaking timeline, interfering with content, designing custom content give additional playful and open value to the narrative, but blur the authorship of the artwork. Sometimes giving away authors’ responsibility is used by artist to hide their position as an author. In other cases, interactive structure of the narrative is a distraction and disturbance for the reader and viewer and the story could be much better in non-interactive form.
Gifts and Commodities: Temporal Contradictions of the Internet Economy and their Forms of Appearance, Atle Kjosen
The Internet economy has been conceptualized as a contradiction or symbiosis between commodity and gift exchange. Richard Barbrook (2005) argues that the Internet, with its reliance on non-rivalrous digital data and low cost of copying, enables the existence of a high-tech version of the gift economies that Marcell Mauss (1954) and other economic anthropologists have theorized. Similarly, Christian Fuchs argues that "information gifts form a part of the Internet economy in which goods are distributed for free and openly accessible." Lawrence Lessig (2008) conceptualizes the gift economy as part of read-write culture, which is inherently about sharing. Lessig counterposes “read-write” culture with a commercial “read-only” culture. Read-only objects are subject to copyright and before they can be used permission must be given, usually granted through purchase. Barbrook also recognizes that the same piece of digital code may exist as both a gift and a commodity. Similarly, Fuchs argues that the circulation of digital commodities form part of a sub-system of the Internet economy that is controlled by intellectual property rights. This paper, while agreeing with Barbrook, Fuchs and Lessig that the Internet economy is a contradiction between gifts and commodities, will argue that these theorists have focused only on appearances and have not recognized the fundamental contradiction of the Internet. Basing this argument on another iteration of Marx's argument that exchange “produces a differentiation of the commodity into two elements, commodity and money, an external opposition which expresses the opposition between use-value and value which is inherent in it” (1976:199), I will argue that gifts and commodities are the forms of appearance, or expression, of the fundamental and internal contradiction of the Internet economy. Conceiving the Internet as a real-time environment, the paper will argue that the internal contradiction is temporal: between simultaneity and immediacy.
The Amateur Press Association and the Growth of American Participatory Culture, Flourish Klink
This paper will explore one of the early instantiations of participatory culture - American amateur press associations of the late 1800s - and will trace these associations' impact on participatory culture, particularly fan culture, to the present day. It will compare 1800s amateur press associations with modern-day fan LiveJournal communities, particularly focusing on (1) organizational logic, (2) methods of publication, (3) contents and (4) methods of distribution. Drawing on the archives of the National Amateur Press Association, the Amateur Newspaper Collection of the American Antiquarian Society, the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, various fan history texts, and the personal experiences of various participants in recent fan amateur press associations and communities, it will argue that the tenor, the concerns, and the ethics of the earliest amateur press associations still affect today's media fan cultures. Thus, it will situate online fan communities and their publications within a long tradition of American middle-class participatory culture, providing a panacea against the tendency to treat online publishing as “revolutionary” or “radical.”
Analog Obsolescence and the ‘Death of Cinema’ Debate: The Case of Experimental Film, Kim Knowles
Recent scholarship on new media consistently reiterates the impermanence of celluloid, in the same way that Roland Barthes described analog photography as “a living organism” that “fades, weakens, vanishes.” This is frequently contrasted with the perceived durability, stability and effortless reproducibility of digital technology which is gradually rendering celluloid obsolete. This paper examines the "death of cinema" discourse from the perspective of experimental film, particularly in terms of the increasing relevance of materiality and indexicality within this field of practice. It argues that new theories and paradigms are required in order to more effectively understand the dialogue between old and new media and the creative impulses to which technological obsolescence gives rise. What now is the role of experimental cinema in the age of the digital? What new perspectives does celluloid practice offer on the economic, aesthetic and environmental consequences of the digital revolution?
Consuming Queer Stories: Transmedia Authorship and Branding in the It Gets Better Project, Melanie Kohnen
In response to a number of suicides by gay teenagers during the fall of 2010, columnist Dan Savage initiated the It Gets Better project. The project comprises YouTube videos aimed at suicide prevention; most videos are made by self-identified LGBT adults addressing at-risk teenagers and assuring them that their lives will indeed “get better.” Contributors to the project range from celebrities to young adults from around the world. I argue that the project is successful because it is easy to consume, and that the broad range of contributors depends on this easy consumability. Three factors shape this ease of consumption: the accessibility (and visibility) of YouTube as commercial video-hosting platform, the project’s familiar narrative (the phrase "it gets better" echoes other narrative trajectories around gay/ lesbian identity), and the commercialization of queer narratives within the mainstream media.
Digital Identity Narratives, Stacey Koosel
Digital identities are the forms that we assume to navigate the virtual world, they are the citizens of the global village, the content of social media. With the rise of Web 2.0 platforms such as social media websites, the ability to express ourselves online in the form of building a digital identity and communicating stories about ourselves has become more prevalent than ever before. The timeless, pan-cultural idea of the story teller and the story (Brockmeier 1997) are intertwined in the expression of digital identity narratives. Social media, which is inherently interactive, acts as an open invitation for any Internent user to ‘create new user.’ The mere creation of an online self may be a work of creative fiction, experimentation or self-expression. Digital identity can be seen as the manipulation of a kaleidoscope of selves (Georgakopoulou, 2007) tailored to fit into different environments and roles that have been presented online. Discourse analyses of digital identity narratives can put the text into context, both in micro-context (the online environment and digital culture) and macro-context (what is happening in the offline world). With new technologies, how and where we tell our stories has changed – but despite the superficial change of medium, are the stories still the same? Analyzing digital identity narratives seeks to answer questions about digital culture and its effects in how we perceive and present ourselves online. Digital identity narratives can explore not only user created Internet content but also the equally interesting content created Internet user.
Changing the Past: Time-Reversal as Game Mechanic, Raine Koskimaa
In fiction, also time is a fictive construction. This would allow all sorts of temporal experimenting, but the convention of time flowing only in one direction, is strong also in fictions. In games, however, the situation is different. There the possibility of 'going back in time' is exerted in two ways, 1. after the game character dies, the player is taken to a previous point in the fictional world of the game; 2. often it is possible to save any given game state, and return to a previous state. Both of these ways create the experience of going back in the fictional time of the game. Some games make the manipulation of time a game mechanic. In The Braid (2008), at any point in the game, it is possible to reverse the direction of the time within the game world. The time-reversal is not fully coherent, however, and to proceed in the game, it is crucial to detect the incoherencies and use them to solve the puzzles. The frame story revolves around the possibility of undoing past deeds. I am interested in how the game play is combined with the unfolding frame story, and what effects the possibility of transforming a narrative on the fly bears to our experience of the story. The Braid foregrounds implicit notions of the flow of time, and refers to new narrative strategies opened up by the interactive digital media.
Nineteenth-Century Media in Transition: Rewiring New York’s New Journalism and the U.S. Realist Novel, Kelley Kreitz
This paper explores the dynamics of nineteenth-century media in transition, in order to offer a historical perspective on “the promise and peril of transition” in today’s digital age. Through an analysis of articles from the New York World and the New York Sun in the late 1880s, in addition to William Dean Howells’s 1889 novel A Hazard of New Fortunes, I investigate the interactions between the nineteenth century’s new electric media technologies and the idea of news during the period. I argue that new journalists and so-called realist novelists were all reacting to the new media technologies of their day, particularly the telegraph. As they did so, these writers experimented with new kinds of stories that could convincingly describe the present—without recognizing the boundaries that the twentieth-century journalistic and literary professions would later draw between fact and fiction, personal impressions and professional points of view, and imaginative writing and objective reporting. As today’s new media challenge the boundaries of news that were erected by the journalistic profession of the twentieth century, new genres such as blogs and hyperlocal news are reintroducing personally driven points of view in ways that echo the genres of nineteenth-century news.
Queer Interpolations and Identification’s Excesses: Faux Intimacies of the Fan Twitterscape, Anne Kustritz
The increasing use of new media applications like twitter and facebook by celebrities, public figures, and media corporations intensifies established critiques of the way that fans (mis)recognize themselves in mass media narratives. Communication between public figures and fans online promises a more direct relationship between producers and consumers, while manipulating fans’ increased sense of intimacy and reciprocity to boost sales. But, what happens when fans make demands in direct competition with industry professionals’ business models? In other words, must the new intimacies of newer media lead only to piecemeal appeasement by an entertainment industry still entrenched in cultural and economic models that privilege a narrow demographic, or might fans’ intensified affections and investments in cybermediated relationships also call into being a queer sense of entitlement to representations that do justice to all the multiple avenues of social and sexual investment opened by that undifferentiated “you”?
Oral, Digital and Analogical Cultures Around Videogames, Pilar Lacasa
This presentation explores how multiple discourses present in film, photography, video games and machinima may be related in specific contexts. Moreover, we will explore how conversations among gamers or producers, supported by classical films theory, can help to draw an awareness to the rules of these interactions. We present a series of reflections that include more questions than answers that have emerged from working with children and adolescents when we used video games at school and produced machinima as a tool for reflection and communication. The main goal of the project is to encourage the development of new forms of literacy within the framework of a participatory culture. Focusing on new media we follow Manovich’s (2001) ideas when he considers what would represent a convergence of two separate historical trajectories: computing and media technologies. According to him, the synthesis of these two histories represents the translation of all existing media into numerical data accessible through computers.
Virtual Transitions: A Report from a Shifting Field, Lori Landay
This "report" on change in virtual worlds, a malleable platform in the throes of transition, examines a continuum of responses to instability ranging from the hostile reaction of many SecondLife participants to a new software interface, to artists’ use of the ephemeral as subject and medium, and the embrace of instability by “adventurers” in OpenSim, through hypergrid connection and experimentation. The paper draws on blog and forum writing, machinima, and still images to illustrate how people are coping with instability in virtual worlds. Drawing on Lev Manovich's ideas about the human-computer interface and cultural interfaces, we can see how Linden Lab and the users who rejected the new software interface perceived the viewer in opposing degrees of what Manovich terms "representation versus control." Another response is to self-reflexively make impermanence a focus in virtual art or building. Examples from my and others’ virtual art installations and machinima illustrate the ephemeral in style, content, and medium. The third response is to fully embrace instability as a pioneer or explorer. The presentation ends by wondering whether the impulse to replicate the physical world is in itself a response to instability in all realities.
Unstable by Design: IRC as an Ongoing Project, Guillaume Latzko-Toth
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is an Internet application born in Finland in the late 1980s. Before ICQ, MSN Messenger, Google Talk, etc., this synchronous computer-mediated communication protocol allowed millions of Internet users to have real-time written conversations. An interesting aspect of IRC is that it is a sociotechnical device resulting from an ongoing process of co-construction. The technical infrastructure is distributed in a number of independent networks of servers. Each “IRC network” is a distinct entity with a specific sociotechnical configuration enabling some chat practices and preventing others. This configuration is negotiated between various actors interested in the device, the original IRC protocol playing the role of a boundary object. Drawing upon an in-depth case study of the creation and evolution of
the first two major IRC networks (EFnet and Undernet), this paper stems from the author’s observation of the absence of stabilization of this CMC platform through years. Instead, it had to be constantly adapted to the exponential growth of its users, to the diverging views of its actors, and to the proliferation of artificial entities (automata or “bots”) within it, causing unexpected and unpredictable consequences. But besides these factors of instability, the perpetual “state of project” that characterizes IRC can also be explained by the fact that, for some of its actors, designing the device has become the primary purpose of their engagement with it.
Digital Culture in Transition: “Open-Source Culture” and the Cult of Hatsune Miku, Alex Leavitt
How does the ability of the Web to bring together users into mass networks around creative new media practices challenge assumptions about production in the culture industry, the appropriation of online platforms, and the shaping of creative franchises? With the proliferation of amateur media on the Web, the culture industry has adopted practices that extend creative participation to relevant audiences (Jenkins 2006). But as these industries adopt the discourse of open-source communities and implement strategies of the hybrid economy (Lessig 2008), how does the facilitation of free, creative practice to networks of amateurs cultivate trends of production and sharing and feed back into these properties? This abstract presents a few case studies of “open source” culture as it relates to networked creativity. For example, in Japan, Vocaloid is a music production software that utilizes voice banks to create lyrics for songs. In 2007, Crypton Future Media released Hatsune Miku, a version of the software featuring a young female voice, complete with a popular visual character image, which circulated in Japanese communities online to create a massive popular phenomenon on media platforms like Nico Nico Douga. Vocaloid has bred a large media mix franchise, providing amateur musicians with professional contracts, producing hologramic performers for live concerts, and fostering online iterations across the Japanese art site Pixiv, as well as various doujinshi (fan-made comics) and cosupure (fan costumes) sold or displayed at the biannual Comic Market in Tokyo. The discussion will tease out issues of individualism, amateurism, and originality, in addition to cultural norms (eg., Japanese idol subculture), gender (configuring the feminine), celebrity (can one open-source popularity?), and user labor.
Shallow Netroots: Hypertext Links to Advocacy Organizations in Political Blogs, Mark Leccese
In 2002, a weblog author coined the term “netroots” — a combination of the words “Internet” and “grassroots” — to describe the use of political blogs as a tool to spur political activism and political organization. This study gathered data to determine how frequently the top three progressive and the top three conservative blogs use hypertext links to direct their readers to the Web sites of political advocacy organizations. The study coded 2,087 hypertext links on these six influential political blogs for seven consecutive days in January 2008, during the presidential primaries, to determine what percentage of hypertext links took readers to advocacy organizations. Only 5.7% (n = 119) of links on these blogs directed readers to political advocacy Web sites. Although there may be a netroots phenomenon, it has manifested itself not in political blogs, but in the websites and mass e-mail and texting lists of the candidates and their campaign operations.
Mind the Gap: Space Invaders! Migrant Youth Online and the ‘Internetworked’ Experiences of Transition, Koen Leurs and Sandra Ponzanesi
Intensified patterns of migration and advanced forms of digital technology are reconfiguring the interface between the local and the global. Migrant youth are a privileged site to study these interactions as they also negotiate between different generations and national belongings while creating alternative modalities for self-expression. Our analysis will focus on how these negotiations among multiple axes of belonging and creative self positioning takes place online as the internet is considered to be a place of virtual connectivity beyond physical and political borders and of liberation from markers of otherness, such as race, ethnicity, gender, which are particularly relevant in defining the migrant condition. We will explore how migrant youth become “space invaders” (Purwar, 2004) of the digital realm. Drawing on empirical survey and interview findings from our Utrecht University research project Wired Up, we make a plea to approach conjunctures of transition of digital media and immigration from a postcolonial and intersectional perspective. A focus on intersectional socio-cultural configurations of subordination and empowerment enables us to ask ‘the other question’ (Matsuda, 1991: 1189), highlighting how various hidden axes of differentiation – such as diaspora, adolescence, gender, generation, and religion – may impact differently upon the (digitally mediated) lives and identities of immigrant youth.
New Questions, Old Paradigms: A Retrospective on Collaborative Sense-Making, Amalia S. Levi
A host of new terms such as crowdsourcing, collective intelligence, and mass collaboration, have recently emerged to explain how new media enable the masses to collaborate in ways that transcend geographic and temporal limitations. But a brief overview of history proves that although these terms are new, the use of technology to support mass collaboration is anything but new. This paper explores historical examples of technology-mediated collaboration, where large groups of people use technology, artifacts, information, and social practices to make sense of shared experiences. This collaborative sensemaking process helps develop new knowledge, shared interpretations, and the scaffolding needed to support effective decision-making. The paper will introduce a retrospective historical analysis of collaborative sensemaking, particularly religious sensemaking, a domain that has fostered significant collaboration and occupied many of the greatest minds in history.
Citizen Bioscience in the Age of New Media, Marina Levina
In the last few years, the transition in new media technology forms has ushered in multiple changes in development of platforms for practicing social and democratic change. One of such platforms is citizen bioscience – a loosely organized movement to “liberate” science from the conventional scientific and medical research structures and to place control over direction of future scientific research in the hands of everyday citizens. Citizen bioscience has been embraced by personal genomics and personal medicine industries and companies such as 23andMe, CureTogether, and PatientsLikeMe advocate for “Health 2.0” – a liberatory transition in medical and scientific research that facilitates active citizen engagement through the use of social media. This presentation investigates how narratives of empowerment – as produced by new media discourses – are used by citizen bioscience. It argues that the transitions in social media and new technologies will have wide-ranging implications for the future of scientific and medical research and for the relationship between medical establishment and its patients.
Crowdfunding and its Social and Legal Implications for the Artworld, Lorraine Lezama
As individual artists turn, increasingly to integrated donor fundraising using new internet platforms such as kickstarter.com and crowdrise.com as well as grassroots fundraising and other platforms intended to increase individual donor-stakeholding, a number of questions emerge. To what extent will donors influence the content of artwork? Can the ownership of crowd-funded art ever be contested and if so, under which scenarios? Which strategies can best help cultivate new classes of individual donors under this emerging private regime? How will conventional arts funding co-exist with this relatively new form of cultural, public and transparent patronage? I would like to present a paper which explores these questions in a setting which provides access to viewpoints and contributions from artists, creators and members of the non-profit, academic, corporate and legal communities, all of whom are essential stakeholders in this important discussion.
Piracy, Circulation, and Cultural Control in Cyber-Age China, Jinying Li
China, the nation with the world’s largest audience, is also the one experiencing one of the strictest film censorships. Hundreds of Chinese independent films were produced every year without governmental permits and never got into theaters. However, these underground films can still reach Chinese audience through a shadow distribution circuit--piracy. By closely examining the development of such a piracy-nurtured cinematic culture in China, what I’m trying to investigate is the possibility of emerging an alternative cinematic public sphere in the cyber age, when the platform of film consumption has increasingly transformed from public gathering in movie theaters to p2p networks on the Internet. If the shift of cinematic spectatorship, according to Miriam Hansen, often marked transformation of a public sphere, then would it be possible to imagine an alternative public sphere constructed by the viral infrastructure of a shadow spectator community on the cyber space? And in China’s case, particularly, would such an alternative public sphere be able to disturb, or even subvert, the exiting power structure and status quos in a tightly controlled socio-cultural landscape?
The In(-frared)visible Hand: Kinect, Interactive Pornography, and the Quest for “Action at a Distance,” Xinghua Li
Two months after Microsoft’s Kinect motion controller was released, it was “hijacked” by the sex industry to produce interactive pornography. In the most disturbing example, the gamer is allowed to move his hand (detected by the infrared depth sensors) up and down the body of a computer-simulated woman who interacts both physically and vocally. As its name suggests, Kinect expresses an age-long desire to “touch” at a distance—a desire born out of the various modes of visual and aural alienation in modern media. This paper traces this desire to the 19th century debate in physics about “action at a distance:” while one school argues that action at a distance never occurs because there are always infinitesimal steps linking two objects, the other insists that absolute contact is impossible and all actions are at a distance (a basic assumption for the later quantum physics). If all actions are at a distance, then the simulated “touch” through Kinect brings into question the authenticity of an ordinary, physical touch. Resorting to psychoanalysis, I argue that a real touch does not take place at the level of physicality but at the level of desire. I analyze how Kinect uses the 3D infrared technology to redefine touch and vision and how it infuses the tactile drive and the scopic drive to produce a new type of bodily pleasure.
Transitioning to E-Shakespeare: Textual Instability and the Digital Age
Electronic editions of Shakespeare’s works are transforming the study of the particular oeuvre as the technology not only allows but also promotes the juxtaposition of versions. Online access to the treasures of the British Library and of the Folger Shakespeare Library promotes novel editorial approaches to textual instability. From the scanned pages of Folio and Quarto copies of Shakespeare’s plays to the public-domain texts available through electronic libraries, such as the one at the University of Virginia, online sites satisfy sophisticated scholarly needs and encourage academic readers to engage with the textual properties of the works also as viewers. In my presentation, I will discuss the promise inherent in the uses of e-texts and digital technologies in the college classroom as a means of enabling new readings and of preparing future generations of textual scholars in Shakespeare studies to emerge.
From the Theater to the Gallery: Harry Potter Engagements within the Museum, Debora Lui
What happens when blockbuster films are translated into “blockbuster” exhibits? Ongoing debates surrounding these exhibits have typically focused on the dangers of distorting museological goals for the sake of profit and commercialism. While most of these original critiques were leveled at exhibitions focusing on ‘traditional’ museum content (including King Tut and Impressionist painting), the newest blockbuster exhibits in the United States have highlighted popular culture. What might we make of these discussions in the face of increasingly popular film and TV-based exhibits such as CSI: The Experience, or Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination? Does the prevalence of these exhibits further distort the position of the museum as part of the public educational trust or does it actually strength these goals? By comparing two Harry Potter-based ‘interventions’ within the museum -- a corporate-sponsored exhibition of movie artifacts and a fan-created day of related activities -- this paper illustrates how an understanding of consumer agency within mass media culture can be mapped onto similar trajectories of visitor agency in the museum. While people have often been characterized as consumer dupes (controlled by corporate interests), so too have they been posited as museum dupes (controlled by ‘elitist’ museum interests). Scholarship on fan cultures, however, has provided a new perspective on consumer practices, highlighting how fans become active shapers of their experience. How can new museum audiences - shaped through constructivist-based museum practices including interactive exhibits and inquiry-based learning - be considered within the same vein? And how can this help us arrive at a new ways of thinking of the museum’s purpose and function in the 21st century?
Who Told You You Were Special Edition? The Commercialization of the Aura, Justin Mack
In this paper, I utilize Walter Benjamin's theory of the "aura" of art objects to examine the role of special and collector's editions of media content in the contemporary cultural landscape. The idea of "special" or "limited" in the realm of commercial art and entertainment is one that has grown in importance in recent years and has fundamentally expanded the ways in which we consume and value media content. By focusing primarily on special edition home video releases (including DVD and Blu-ray packages, double-dips, and the "Disney Vault"), I illustrate the pervasive commercialization of the aura on an industrial and cultural level. Through an examination of the myriad ways in which these artifacts are deliberately packaged and sold to contemporary consumers, it becomes clear that the aura of the art object has not necessarily been destroyed by mechanical reproduction, but it has certainly been commercialized. Extravagant home video releases and the increasing importance placed on mode of delivery can be identified as Hollywood's somewhat paradoxical response to awareness of its own mass reproducibility.
Facebook Influence on University Students' Media Habits, Andrea Mangiatordi, Nicola Cavalli, Elisabetta Costa, Paolo Ferri, Marina Micheli, Andrea Pozzali, Francesca Scenini, Fabio Serenelli
Personalizing Social Media: The Bias of Ubiquitous Connectivity, Vincent Manzerolle
One of the major narratives describing our contemporary technological milieu is the rise of “social media” as a cultural, political, and economic force. Although enhanced connectivity and the ability to create and share data ubiquitously are important innovations, media have always been social. Contrary to the dominant narrative, and proceeding from insights culled from Canadian medium theorists like Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan and others, this paper highlights and critically assesses what is arguably one of the dominant biases of ubiquitous digital media: personalization. This inversion—from social to personalized media—characterizes the zeitgeist of emerging digital media systems, which are now technically designed to facilitate both ubiquity and personalization as their defining characteristics. Indeed, digitization has enabled the convergence of all media content into a single governing structure. Rather than “extensions of man” as McLuhan famously argued, personalized media are intentional and intensive; they reflect the identity, preoccupations, prejudices, and preferences of the user through the technical abilities of filtering, targeting, and customization. These all reflect an emphasis on personalization, structuring the user as a sovereign consumer/producer (“prosumer”) of digital data. As a result, the social capacity for self-reflexivity (a major theme of Innis’ overall intellectual project) becomes increasingly more difficult to cultivate as media content can now anticipate the expectations, values, and interests of the user. This tendency towards what Gergen (2008) calls “monadic communication clusters”—that is, relatively closed communication networks—creates a kind of digital echo chamber. As this paper argues, it is these biases that will govern the near and long term evolution of related devices and networks. These biases constitute the limit points within which the 21st century media ecology will evolve.
Conserving Digital Art for the Ages, Frank Marchese
Will digital art created in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries be displayable 500 years in the future? The ability to exhibit such artwork in the distant future will depend upon new thinking and practices developed today by artists, conservators, and curators. This presentation will discuss how the use of software engineering methodologies can provide a means for transforming conservation practices used for traditional art into methods more appropriate for digital-based media. This presentation will show as well how software engineering processes will aid digital art scholarship by augmenting and organizing an artwork’s components in such a way as to enhance accessibility by art historians. Finally, it will discuss how digital artists who choose to adapt software engineering practices to their artistic process will be able to naturally extend the lifespan of their artwork.
A Pseudonym on the Internet, an Anthroponym with a Multidimensional Status, Marcienne Martin
In civil society, anthroponymy sets the social being within a group. More precisely, their patronymic or matronymic is used to position them along a genealogical line, whereas their first name is a means to identify them within the family group. So what can be said about the social being’s identity in the context of digital society? In order to join discussion forums or chat-rooms, the internet user has to choose a pseudonym, the origins of which stem from various sources – the person’s private life, cultural objects, individual traits etc. This multidimensional status of a pseudonym on the internet will be examined using various examples taken from newspapers' online editions as well as discussion forums. If a pseudonym is used for naming or protesting, is its purpose to express what cannot be said within civil society? Is this not a confusion between private and public space? And, if so, what are the reasons? Finally, does digital society not stand as an opposing force to civil society?
Can Social Media Mobilize Audiences and Consumers for Non-Commercial Purposes?, Fiona A. E. McQuarrie and Leighann C. Neilson
Organizations are continually told that social media is an essential component of corporate strategic engagement with 21st century consumers and audiences. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has long been an innovator in the use of new media technologies. It also claims a dedicated fanbase, a large percentage of which use social media and the Internet. This paper examines a recent WWE social media campaign to address whether or how an organization can mobilize its audiences or consumers for non-commercial purposes. In October, 2010, WWE launched “Stand Up For WWE," a campaign that encouraged WWE fans to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Internet site visits to express their support for the company at a time when WWE CEO Linda McMahon was running to be a U.S. senator for Connecticut. While “Stand Up For WWE” was not explicitly linked to McMahon’s election campaign, it was framed as a response to alleged “attacks” on WWE during the campaign. Our analysis, drawing on research from marketing and political science, focuses on whether a group sharing a common interest in an organization can be effectively motivated to act by that organization through social media, especially for non-commercial purposes.
Knowledge Experiments: Technology and the Library, Paulina Mickiewicz
In April of 2005, the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec opened in Montreal, a library project of unprecedented scale in the city. This paper seeks to focus on the programming and technologies of the Grande Bibliothèque. One of the main reasons for the creation of the Grande Bibliothèque was to offer Montreal citizens a public library that was capable of not only hosting and managing emergent media technologies but that would provide free and equal access to these new media. In addition to being a highly digitized and networked facility, the Grande Bibliothèque is also a site that offers the most advanced methods of storage, search and retrieval of a multiplicity of collections, be they referential, digital or archival. This paper will serve to explore the so-called “technologization” of the traditional library, how this has transformed the ways in which we use and understand the library as a public space as well as what this may mean for the future of libraries, and how well equipped the Grande Bibliothèque is in adapting to the constant flow of newer and faster technologies.
Metamedia Immersive Environments: Transitions in Digital Learning, Mary Leigh Morbey
Virtual immersive technologies in teaching and learning – primary, secondary, and tertiary – are beginning a new chapter, and this book has two webpages open concurrently. Recent technological developments have brought forward the emergence of metamedia platforms: virtual environments that not only provide users with dynamic immersive experiences but also enable them to construct, produce, and archive multimedia resources, text, video, social media, and 3D artifacts. This paper focuses on the potential of metamedia to foster advanced knowledge production and transdisciplinary education in the construction and mediation of multiple complex lifeworlds, using Croquet’s Open Cobalt to illustrate engagement of the changing media environment in educational contexts; movement from educative print culture to educative digital culture. Open Cobalt is not a destination virtual world like Second Life, instead it is a free and open source platform for creating, constructing, sharing, and discovering distributed virtual world spaces that can exist anywhere on the Internet (Lombardi, 2010). By allowing the hyperlinking of individual virtual worlds through 3D portals, it allows users to form large distributed networks of interconnected collaboration spaces. These open and free virtual worlds, the metaverse-as-metamedium (Lombardi & Lombardi, 2010), can facilitate education at every level, formal institutional education as well as business, medical, and museum education, supporting a broad range of activities including assessment and analysis. Examples will include the undergraduate Croquet Arts Metaverse Project at the University of British Columbia (Canada), and the current Edusim (Greenbush, Kansas Middle School Leadership Academy) Open Cobalt conceptualization for virtual environments for six through eight grade students.
Problematics of the Uganda National Museum Engaging Web 2.0, Mary Leigh Morbey, Paul Kortenaar, Maureen Senoga, Lourdes Villamor
Web 2.0 is pressing online museum representation and education. This is becoming a desired engagement for major Western national museums and their educational offerings. In the Global South where information communication technology challenges abound, including a lack of sustainable contemporary technology and the needed expertise to employ it, museum curators and educators often find themselves lost in the virtual worlds of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and online learning as oral cultures embrace digital cultures. This paper will elaborate the problematics and possibilities of current conceptualization processes to develop a Museum Web 2.0 site for the Uganda National Museum in Kampala. To be elaborated are de-colonizing theories and methodologies of Mamdani (2005), Swadener and Mutua (2008), and Smith (1999), so not to superimpose Western notions over an East Africa museum. The Museum Web 2.0 project wants to offer an initial Museum 2.0 model to assist other African and Global South museums in the development of de-colonizing non-Western conceptualizations for the showcasing of artifacts and for information dissemination.
RealAnnoyingOrange: A YouTube Success Story?, Joanne Morreale
I will examine the participatory culture of youtube at the nexus of the professional and the amateur. In particular, I explore the way that user-generated content becomes professionalized by using the web series RealAnnoyingOrange as a case study. RealAnnoyingOrange, which originated in 2009, is now the eighth most subscribed channel on youtube of all time, with more than one and one half million subscribers. I consider possible reasons for its popularity: in part, it recycles the familiar, both the syncho-vox animation technology developed in the late fifties and the repetition and gleeful mayhem of the cartoons of the thirties. Like much youtube humor, it does the cultural work of mischief, in this case using its anthropomorphic animation of inanimate objects to both repeat the familiar and evoke the uncanny. At the same time, its “success” enables its creator, Dane Boedigheimer, to shift from the realm of the amateur to the professional. Boedigheimer is currently in talks to air RealAnnoyingOrange episodes on the Cartoon Network, is developing a videogame application for the iphone, is planning to license toys, and is selling AnnoyingOrange t-shirts. The case of RealAnnoyingOrange demonstrates how the bottom up participatory culture of youtube morphs into the top down culture of commercialism.
New Platforms: More Choice – Less Freedom?: Mediated Narratives of Human History, Klaus Peter Muller
My paper will address the topic(s) of instability and transition in the contexts of history, culture, cognition, and narrative. From these fields, we get helpful hints for an adequate understanding of the dramatic changes experienced in the media today. The rapid renewal of technologies requires long-term perspectives for its appreciation and evaluation. I have always favoured the "middle way" convincingly expressed in the book The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. My examples will come from current British TV programs on British history and the websites dealing with the same topic, put together by these TV stations or by independent sources. A key question here is: is history presented in different ways in various media or not? How stable are these platforms really? I'll briefly speak about fictional representations of British history in this context, too, in order to emphasise the areas where freedom predominates. These clearly exist, but there is not destabilising freedom only. Freedom can provide stability, too, and both culture and the cognitive sciences have presented stabilising forces that need to be taken into account more consciously in this complex period of transition.
The Television Image and the Image of the Television, Michael Newman
Our convergence era has seen a reconception of television. One dimension of this has attracted little scholarly attention: the shift from 4:3 CRT sets to 16:9 flat panels. In concert with this transformation, the cultural associations of film and television—as media of differing visual and experiential status and greater and lesser cultural import, as masculinized and feminized—have opened to negotiation. The flat-panel television set functions in distinction to the old idea of TV. The replacement of the old image of the television as a boxy, low-resolution appliance with its new image as a sleek, high-definition gadget, is one central way in which television is being culturally legitimated. This paper addresses TV's legitimation by considering the terms by which the HDTV set has been introduced into the American media industry and into the home. It considers a number of discourses circulating in American popular culture over the past decade. These include the construction of the flat-panel as a design object to be integrated into sophisticated domestic spaces; the use of gendered marketing appeals to masculinize the historically feminized image of the television; and the adoption of high-definition broadcasting to promote the new sets and usher the old ones into obsolescence.
Contextualizing Consoles: Problematizing Video Game Hardware, Randall Nichols
The role of hardware in the study of video games is one that is all too often ignored. While software has been the most profitable sector in the video game industry, the hardware sector dictates the many of the capabilities of the software itself, resulting in longer production times for software that can make use of those capabilities and, as such, rising production costs. The hardware sector also offers a crucial example of the transnational nature of video game production. This paper seeks to understand the globalized process of video game hardware production and its impacts on both the producers of the technologies as well as on software publishing and distribution. It attempts to problematize the hardware sector for further study by video game scholars and to suggest the ways in which the very platforms we have come to rely on for games are, themselves, increasingly unstable.
Wikipedia as Platform for the Study of Controversy: The Case of Climate Change Skepticism, Sabine Niederer
In November 2009 hackers broke into a server from the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University and published thousands of their emails and documents on the Web. This scandal, which is referred to as ‘Climategate,’ has established the Web as part of the climate change controversy. Furthermore, it confirmed the idea of the Web as a data leakage channel. In this paper I explore the roles the Web may play when researching the scientific controversy around climate change. I demonstrate alternative ways to repurpose the Web in order to analyze this climate change controversy and its actors, with a special focus on the climate change skeptics. Since the first international conference for climate change skeptics in March 2008, there is an ‘organized network’ of climate change skeptics, with information online to be analyzed. A scientometric approach to this available dataset provides insight in the composition and resonance of the actors in skeptical climate change research, from the variety of disciplines active in the field to the journals which publish the skeptics’ research papers. Web research adds to the scientometric study in revealing the extent to which the skeptics are professionally committed to climate change or to skeptical research. Put differently, do the skeptics have ‘related issues’ other than climate change that they are skeptical of? An inquiry into (the ecology of) Wikipedia articles on climate change shows actor involvement and migration to related topics. And lastly, the Web (or more specifically, search engines and tools for Web research) can show which online sources pay attention to the various skeptics’ perspectives.
A Story about Random Memories and Fragmented History on Screens, Katharina Niemeyer
Trying to understand the making of history and the construction of collective memories in 2011 seems to be a difficult task considering the great number of "events," information and souvenirs on our everyday life screens (cell phones, laptops, television…). Based on a media philosophical framework (Bergson, Engell Halbwachs, Hoskins, Ricoeur, Volkmer), this paper discusses the importance of television in contemporary history telling and making, and also asks the question of the construction of collective memories. Two major televised events (fall of the Berlin wall, September 11) will be analyzed by pointing out important political, social and technological changes in the 1990s. The discussion of the results will lead us to the development of theoretical frameworks and useful methods that could help researchers understand how new media interfere with future historical events (in Egypt or in Tunisia, for example) and with individual and collective memories.
Remembering the Past in the Dynarchive: The State of Knowledge in Digital Archives, Julia Noordegraaf
The proliferation of digital technologies has changed the way we perceive of and use audiovisual archives and their holdings. As Rick Prelinger, founder of the online collection archive.org recently pointed out, YouTube has become the standard of what people expect audiovisual archives to be – unlimited online access and active user participation have become crucial for an archive’s visibility and public existence. Although the institutions still function as the principal gatekeepers – if only because of copyright restrictions – the emergence of virtual archives and online portals is changing the relation between the keepers and users of audiovisual heritage, challenging the role of the archivist as principal expert on the knowledge the collection represents. In this contribution I aim to investigate the implications of these developments for the status of the (audiovisual) archive as a gatekeeper of knowledge. The archive has always been perceived as a stable repository of knowledge about the past. To what extent does the opening up of this knowledge-base change the way we validate and use archival records? I will analyze recent experiments with social tagging (such as the BBC’s tagging project Annotatable Audio and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision’s video labeling game Waisda?) and ask to what extent they destabilize the existing archival platforms for validating and describing audiovisual heritage. I will argue that, even though these new forms of access change the type of knowledge associated with the archive (from authoritative to participatory knowledge), in fact digitization only exposes the archives’ inherently dynamic, performative nature.
Everything About the Past: Wikipedia and History Education, Olivier Nyirubugara
Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopaedia, has introduced a new approach to knowledge: it allows everyone who wants to contribute either by authoring a new entry or by editing someone else’s entry. Abundant discussions about Wikipedia have been conducted in the last nine years or so, but very little literature has been dedicated to the uses and misuses of Wikipedia in educational settings. In this paper, I propose to focus on the uses of Wikipedia as a prime source of information for 13-14 year-old history class pupils. A six-month ethnographic research I conducted in two history classes in the Netherlands in 2010 has shown that Wikipedia tops all other sources, either Web-based or analogue. First I want to look at what Wikipedia is use for. Secondly, I want to understand why Wikipedia has won such huge popularity. Lastly, I want to compare its uses with other Web-based sources including heritage or memory institutions, educational sites, personal sites, and others.
A General Theory of Skipping, Jamie O’Neil
This paper reports on a year of research into the phenomenon of skipping: a topic that resides in the gap-space of science and art. There are many manifestations of skipping: from the lilting gait we discover at around age three, to skipping rocks, to machine skips, skipping a class, a meeting, an anticipated period or interval of any kind. For my project, I played with the broadest meaning of the term, and discovered that skipping is a singularity. We know what it feels like to skip. It initiates a giddy emotive vector, but as a scale independent concept, skipping is no joke. It is the default malfunctive rhythm. When a machine begins to malfunction, it usually begins to skip. To skip something means to take something out. Skipping implies the missing of a beat in an anticipated interval. Two philosophers, Bergson and Deleuze examined the logic of enchainment with their idea of interval. Bergson said the brain was an interval. Deleuze extended set theory to cinema in two books about movement and time. Skipping is an erratic interval. Not quite irrational; yet not predictable either. When a skipping pattern occurs, it gets stuck in a rut, as when a DVD begins to break-up before it freezes. A theme of this conference is that we are looping in the bloatware of our brains. We need to skip to the next groove to restart our thinking. Like DJs we can create new movements out of information overload by inserting skips into the predictive playback of grooves.
(Un)Stable Emotions: Media-related Transitions and Consolidation of Emotional Communication, Heike Ortner
Emotions are versatile phenomena under scrutiny by a wide range of disciplines
including the social sciences and the humanities as well as the natural sciences.
The World Wide Web and similar new technological means of communication are often held responsible for considerable changes in the quantity and quality of emotion(al) talk. But is this really so? This is the point of departure for the talk at hand. Two questions are juxtaposed: First, are there changes or rather stabilities in journalistic emotion management because of emerging forms of journalism that are mediated by new platforms (blogs, for example)? More precisely, is there a difference in emotional language and in patterns of emotional discourse between established media products and “amateur” journalism? Second, online communication has bounced to a new dimension via platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Do rules and paradigms of emotional communication change because of this? The talk highlights the emotional impact of netspeak, trolls, virtual identities, and deviant interpretations of conversational maxims on the quality of emotional language. To gain intercultural results, English and German platforms are compared.
Inbound and Outbound, when Applications Invade TV and Change our Rooms, Andre Pase
After video entered Internet with streaming or download content, even with 1080p before HD TV in various countries, nowadays the network takes the opposite direction and invades the sets. New model comes with Ethernet ports and media center computers disguised as set-top boxes (such as AppleTV or Google TV) insert the app culture into the big screen with content chosen by audience from sources out of the traditional spectrum. In countries with interactivity attached to models of terrestrial high definition, such as Brazil, these alternatives not only act as workarounds where TV still only broadcast images, but changes how people choose what to watch. But in this little big environment, the tablets enter with another kind of information and acts as partners for big screen, with behind the scenes, game statistics and real-time communication. This paper discusses the app impact on TV culture, with the big screen acting as mirror from various sources. It revises attention economy in a convergence culture where you don´t only press the remote to change channel, but click with mouse or press the screen to see more.
Talking Places: How Conversations Are Made from the Locations, Eduardo Pellanda
The rise of mobile communications had started a new kind of integration between physical spaces and virtual interactions. This combination had culminated in a social space of exchange among movable people that become smarter about the tangible space (RHEINGOLD, 2003). The ubiquity of mobile devices made it possible to be online and get information about the physical space, and the built-in camera inside cellphones helps individuals to capture and share what they are watching. From this perspective, places start to change as they are more connected to information (MITTCHELL, 2003). The kind of ubiquity that mobile Internet has achieved is actually a new challenge for media producers to deal with because at the same time it is a
chance to expand possibilities and it is also a problem to cover every block or street in the city. This results in a proliferation of user generated content (UGC) (GILLMOR, 2004) that is a treat and opportunity for traditional media. This paper will
use examples such as the Locast1 platform and the Foursquare2 social network system to investigate how geoinformation can transform the way that places can help to tell stories. Locast is a research project from the Mobile Experience Lab at the MIT. The Civic Media version of the experiment is a partnership with the Media Communications Department of the PUCRS, located in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Foursquare is a location-based mobile platform
that is rapidly expanding and now has 6 million users.
The Wiki-fication of the Dictionary: Defining Lexicography in the Digital Age, Darrell J. Penta
The future of lexical reference books, such as the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary (OED), is going to be determined, in part, by the emergence of free online dictionaries, such as Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary. What effect will this state of affairs have on the ways that dictionaries are compiled and used? For some, including Jill Lepore of the New Yorker magazine, online collaborative lexical references are “Maoist” resources, “cobble[d]…together” by non-experts who “pilfer” definitions (2006, p. 79). This paper rejects such a characterization and seeks, instead, to provide a description more suitable for critical inquiry. By contrasting the entry “bomb” as it appears in the OED, Wiktionary, and Urban Dictionary, and by making use of contemporary linguistic theory, the author posits that word meanings are highly constrained by popular usage; and, in providing users the flexibility to modify entries in real-time, user-generated dictionaries are uniquely practical as catalogues of the current state of language. Whereas traditional dictionaries may be the better resource for diachronic analyses of words, Wiktionary and the like may prove better for synchronic analyses. Finally, if traditional references are going to remain relevant, they may need to incorporate collaborative functionality.
The Life Cycle of the MMORPG: Champions Online and Theoretical Discourses on Preservation, Ian M. Peters
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are an important part of the contemporary gaming market, and are becoming an important area of study within the academic community. While technological obsolescence is one of the major concerns with any act of preservation, this study explores a larger issue: how do we preserve something that has no physical “body” and a continually changing lifespan of its own? Preserving Virtual Worlds is a Library of Congress funded project that endeavors to “develop mechanisms and methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction.” Their August 31, 2010 Final Report discusses how video games are not static entities and oftentimes exist in multiple releases for different platforms and special editions. Any institution intending to archive these digital artifacts needs to consider the implications of choosing what to preserve and why. MMORPGs, like any living entity, will eventually fade away and die. But media scholars should endeavor to find ways of recording them (to the best of our ability) for future generations. This paper argues that attempting to replicate a level of interactivity is important if these games are to be preserved in their most useful state. These records will not be representative of a game as a whole, but will still serve a purpose. However, the implication of what is chosen to be preserved and the reasoning behind that decision needs to be explored.
Dynamics of Remembering and Forgetting on the Social Web Platforms, Simeona Petkova
In recent scholarly works, the Web is viewed either as preserving all the available data for unlimited period of time or forgetting it all in a short-term succession. “[...] because of digital technology, society’s ability to forget has become suspended, replaced by perfect memory” (Mayer- Schonberger, 2009) while at the other extreme, the digital cultural heritage is “at risk from loss of data, knowledge or memory” (Blome and Wijers, 2010). This paper proposes to examine the dichotomy by exploring social Web platforms since digital remembering and forgetting on social platforms have a potential to “be crucial for knowledge and power distribution in the future” (Anna Maj & Daniel Riha (2009:2) and our physical journals, letters, and photographs have been substituted by "fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff." The article takes upon how the Web’s ability to remember and / or forget is often approached through studying the Internet Archive, or the personal involuntarily collected histories (and their relation to privacy issues, search engine back- end politics, identity, markets, users generated content, etc.), or the ways the Web is changing the way we think and remember. It proposes to focus instead on the social platforms by asking what is the medium-specific way to study what is preserved or left behind? It proceeds with analysis of two projects carried out within the digital methods framework and maps the contribution in the ways the medium-specific analysis explicates the dynamics of both remembering and forgetting through revealing mechanisms that reconfigure and reshape memory as content (memory narratives).
Preserving Digital Narratives in an Age of Present-Mindedness: the View from Toronto, Kamilla Pietrzyk
With the emergence of the Internet and other digital, instantaneous communication media, we have witnessed an exponential increase in the speed of information transmission. While many contemporary observers, including most progressives, laud the unprecedented velocity with which it is now possible to share information across the globe, more pressing, yet generally overlooked questions lie before us concerning the related and pervasive cultural neglect of time and duration – what the Canadian communications scholar Harold Innis called the “obsession with present-mindedness.” This paper argues that in a cultural milieu wherein speed is fetishized and historical thought itself has become increasingly marginalized, one of the gravest challenges facing current efforts to preserve digital narratives proceeds not from technological limitations, but rather from capitalism's systemic imperative toward technological acceleration, and the associated cultural lack of interest in the problems of duration. In exploring this argument from a media perspective, the paper considers the theoretical contributions of Innis and other members of the “Toronto school” of communications – specifically the concept of media “bias” – in order to situate the extraordinary ephemerality of today's digital texts against the widespread cultural preoccupation with the present and with short-term concerns. In this manner, the prevailing celebratory rhetoric regarding the Internet's capacity to potentially serve as a repertoire of our shared cultural heritage is problematized.
The World’s First Virtual Strike: Indian Infoworkers and the Transformation of Labor Activism Through ICTs, Winifred Poster
The year 2007 marked what some call the world’s first virtual strike. It occurred in the online platform SecondLife. Even though considered a site for entertainment, SecondLife has many of parallel elements of “real life” – including people, countries, and firms. So when employees of multinational firm IBM were disgruntled with practices by their employer, they took to SecondLife to stage their protest. Their strike at IBM virtual headquarters included almost 2,000 avatar picketers from 30 countries. The action was so successful that global union UNI has now purchased an island on SecondLife from which to run its online operations. I’ll explore how this protest represents the new contours of labor activism by info-workers. In particular, I focus on Indian outsourcing workers who use telephones, computers, and the internet as core features of their jobs, and whose association UNITES participated in the strike.
“Chindia” and Global Communication: Two Media and Journalisms in Transition and What it Means for the Rest of Us, Shakuntala Rao
The two Asian giants, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of India, are home to some 2.3 billion people or two-fifths of humanity and are currently the world’s fastest growing economies. “Chindia” as global economic, military, and political powerhouses have proliferated in the academy as in popular media. As two of the world’s largest media (with highest number of newspaper readerships and cable viewers in the world) dramatically change with liberalization and deregulation, journalism practices in each of these countries have shifted. This paper compares the different journalism practices in each of these countries, especially with the increased use of new technologies (citizen journalism, blogs, and iphones) and how such practices reaffirm or weaken existing political structures and institutions.
Volatile Video: Critically Assessing the Rise of Advertising for Monetizing Web-Video, Vincent F. Rocchio
The technology of web-video has dramatically evolved over the last ten years, evidenced by the ease with which even individual content providers can stream high-definition video. Moreover, web-video seamlessly migrates between several platforms: from desktop or laptop computers, to smart-phones, or touch-pads. The success of web-video is further demonstrated by the degree that the major TV networks, cable-TV providers, and rental companies like Netflix, share the web as a video distribution network: creating dedicated streaming sites, and streaming videos on their main web-sites. For all this technological evolution, however, video-to-web is still stalled by its lack of a dominant--and successful--economic model. Thus, while the web is well on its way to becoming the dominant video distribution system of the future, its ability to support a range of content is limited by its inability to monetize content. This essay provides a critical examination of the increasing use of traditional ad spots in web-video on both commercial and non-commercial sites such as You-Tube as a fundamental means by which the vested interests of broadcast culture will seek to maintain economic disparity and hierarchy in cultural discourse. The paper will then go on to explore alternative monetizing models by examining three separate and successful web-video phenomena: Jib-Jab, Lonelygirl15, and Annoying Orange. Each of these web-video content providers took advantage of the low costs of production that digital technology enables, and used the web to distribute their content to mass audiences--developing their monetizing models only after distributing their content for free.
After Cyberspace: Data-rich Media Online, Richard Rogers
The article takes up the question of the distinctiveness of the Web as site of social and cultural research. First, it seeks to situate analytical associations between the Internet and ideas of cyberspace and the virtual. It seeks to demonstrate the current conceptual opportunities available for cyberspace in security studies and the virtual in game studies. It subsequently makes a plea for a shift in focus for research away from the Internet as bracketed realm. How to employ the Internet for research into more than online culture only? Subsequently, it asks, what opportunities are available for research that takes up the Web as source? In the event there are currently competing programs that seek to introduce the Web as well as other digital media as data sets to be studied for purposes unrelated to cyberculture or similar. After a brief synopsis of the debate surrounding the Web as data set, the contribution made here is an underlying media theory that seeks to treat the Internet as a specific medium in the sense of the methods it offers. Thus instead of digitizing and bringing online existing method from the humanities and social sciences, the proposal is to follow the methods in the medium, and repurpose them for rather traditional social and cultural research purposes.
Inb4 404: Using 4chan.org to Challenge the Stasis Quo Illusion of Media Stability, Jon Saklofske
The continuing instability of 21st-century media platforms and the transitional state perpetuated by shifting digital systems is metaphorically akin to chemistry’s “activated complex.” An activated complex is a range of temporary, intermediary structures between reactants and products in a chemical reaction. However, to focus on the beginning and end of a reaction is to neglect the persistence of this high-energy process; for at the chemical level, especially within complex systems, stability is rare. Similarly, no media platform is stable, though some have proven more durable than others. Preoccupation with media consistency is an artificial ideal perpetuated by the kinetic persistence (or slow changes) and dynamic equilibrium associated with pre-digital, print-based technologies. The potential of our current, high-energy, unstable, activated media complexes is eclipsed by a resilient obsession with meaning-making, progressive historicization, and the preservation of mediated artifacts and subjectivities. While Mark Zuckerberg is supposed to have said that Facebook, like fashion, is never finished, Facebook is an example of emergence, and emergence remains concerned with products, not processes, by preserving the organizational outcome of complexity. A much “purer” form of transition, of an activated complex, akin to Deleuze’s “plane of immanence” is 4chan.org’s /b/ messageboard, which resists the emergent properties of social network systems via anonymity and a lack of archiving. This paper will use /b/ to explore whether media(ted) instability, mutability and mortality is part of an ongoing, natural and necessary activated complex, is a process that challenges archival anxieties and prophetic predictions with unstable possibility fields of meaningful experience.
Bitter Speech: The Press and Popular Mobilization in Caracas, Venezuela, Robert Samet
What role, if any, does the press play in the worldwide resurgence of popular movements? In a recent New Yorker article, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the answer is very little. My research on journalism in Venezuela suggests otherwise. Based on two years of participant observation alongside reporters, photojournalists, and editors in Caracas, this paper describes how an emergent journalistic form known as the denuncia creates the conditions of possibility for popular mobilizations. The most outstanding feature of Venezuelan news, the term denuncia translates as “denunciation,” “accusation,” or “complaint.” In the legal field, a denuncia is a report that plaintiffs file with the police to initiate an investigation. In journalism, the term retains its accusatory significance but takes on aspects of public performance. It is a shaming of sorts. For most Venezuelan journalists, denuncias are their professional raison d’être, part of a muckraking style that reveals the roots of crime and corruption. My research documents how these journalists use denunciasto make visible the shared discontent of otherwise disparate social sectors. I argue that the relationship that links mass mediated denunciations to popular movements in Venezuela is not unlike the pattern that links Fox News and the U.S. Tea Party or Al Jazeera and the recent uprisings in the Middle East. As popular movements return as a force on the global stage, this paper will discuss one way in which journalism and journalists are contributing to their resurgence.
Facebook Games: A Content Analysis of Users' Comments, Jeremy Sarachan
Like Facebook itself, games like FarmVille, Mafia Wars, and Café World have captured the attentions of millions of users. These games, which tend to feature simplistic animations and repetitive actions, have provided hours of entertainment but in many cases have led to addictive-style behaviors. Conversely, many players have quit after finding the games to be boring or a drain on time, or following the law of diminishing returns, simply offering less personal value. A content analysis of approximately 300 Facebook users' comments was conducted. The study focused on the motivations leading to the playing of these games and the reasons why some eventually reject them. Explanations for why the Facebook games are so enticing, but ultimately unfulfilling for some, was examined. Furthermore, this paper will address the question of what makes these games so successful, while more complex, but ultimately richer, experiences like Second Life and World of Warcraft have captured smaller (although still sizable) audiences.
Haptic Narrative, Virve Sarapik
This paper examines reflective narrative in a transforming era. The focus lies in the artist’s narratives in various social media forms, such as blogs, homepages, Facebook and Twitter. It is obvious that in such channels the form of the author’s autobiographical writing is transformed (an opportunity to connect the visual, written and sound message in endless variations), but what essentially differentiates a story written on paper or in printed form from, for example, a blog? One way to compare different autobiographical writings is to examine the imaginary space constructed by them. Autobiography using a constant medium in most cases creates a clear-cut imaginary environment or narrative space based on data of various senses (e.g. a childhood home, school, travels and exhibitions, or rooms at home or in an office), where the presented places are logically linked. In the constantly changing media environment, however,it must be taken into consideration that no web page lasts forever. Although almost ‘every move’ on the Internet now leaves some sort of trace, this set of traces – both intentional and unintentional – remains fragmentary. It is seemingly accessible and close, but at the same time it is fragmentary and avoids compactness. On the basis of these qualities, this kind of perception can, to a certain extent, be characterised as haptic: no (optical) overview is created of the events and the environment, and impressions depending on other senses must be employed. What emerges is a synaesthetic, momentary impression, where fragments blend, and not knowledge and constant recollection; this impression cannot be restored afterwards.
The Digital Kitchen, Andi Sciacca
Quite a bit has changed at The Culinary Institute of America since MIT6. Then, as an adjunct instructor of food theory and research methods courses, I shared my ideas for running a digitally-enhanced, paperless classroom with a select few Chef instructors. The CIA Administration recognized that we had stumbled upon something innovative and fascinating, and I went from adjunct to Assistant Dean of Instructional Development in record time. I currently work with our faculty in culinary arts, baking & pastry, liberal arts, hospitality and business management to develop curriculum methods that best capture opportunities for integrating education and technology. In the last two years, we've been able to turn faculty members who initially avoided their own cell-phones and email accounts into folks who are employing WIX sites to present research, create PREZIs in lieu of PowerPoints, use FlipCam for lecture capture, assign blogs as journal assignments, and use GoogleDocs to collect homework and pop-quiz assignments. However, it has its challenges – a number of which are related to unstable platforms, indeed. Our flash-based course sites exceed the capabilities of our web portal. Our curriculum management system is a dying file repository, and we’re awaiting Moodle, but not until the new portal can be built. On at least three occasions, course sites have been repossessed by Google, with no further information provided to the instructor who built it – and no way to retrieve the information he/she lost. For MIT7, I want to share my experiences working as the accidental tribal leader in a place that technological time had previously forgotten – and open up the doors to our instructional kitchens in a way that might not just change the way the audience and fellow participants teach and learn – but also the way they think about what we can learn about when it comes to food.
Transmedia a la Turk, Digdem Sezen and Tonguc Sezen
Turkish TV series attract millions of viewers not only in Turkey but also in the Arab and Balkan countries and became a social and commercial phenomenon in recent years. This international success made some of the Turkish producers to think more on marketing strategies and to adopt a transmedial approach to develop their franchises. In addition to TV shows, they produced films, videogames, published books and also fake newspapers as a by-product of actual newspapers in an ARGish style and had huge numbers of fans on the Internet. Along with a number of other shows, the action oriented Valley of The Wolves (VOTW) is a distinct franchise which follows the story of an undercover Turkish agent. Unlike some other popular shows, VOTW’s puzzling script was partly based on recent affairs in the region and Turkish foreign politics, which caused a unique relation between fiction and reality; almost a reverse ARG (alternate reality game) structure. The fan base follows both the news and the series and its spin-offs as part of the same ‘reality’. Besides fan based online communities, they also gather in real world and organize actual funeral prayers for deceased characters; share similar clothing, ways of speech and a code of honor. Both the community and the producers seem to have instead of an ARGish ‘This is not a game’ approach, an alternate ‘This is not a TV Show’ approach. This paper will try to explain current transmedial strategies and ARG-like structures used by Turkish TV shows which help them to reach regional success. We will focus on the unique example of VOTW which brings together fiction and recent events in an unusual and politically questionable way and create a unique fan base.
Politics of Gender and Generation in the Labour of User-Generated Content (UGC), Tamara Shepherd
As part of a larger project, this paper extends from a framing of UGC as a kind of labour, a special case of apprenticeship that takes place between the free labour of the commodity audience and the creative industries work of new cultural intermediaries. This in-between stage of apprenticeship is contingent on the position of younger UGC creators within a relatively privileged group of internet users, at a particular age and life stage. In their early 20s, the participants in the project are preoccupied with the development of professional identities, just as they are still within the throes of identity formation more generally. Such identity-based discourses are important to highlight not only because online cultural production involves a commercialization of younger users’ labour of identity formation, but also because policymakers working in the public interest have a responsibility to protect users’ rights on commercial Web platforms.
Strategies of Instability: Police and Politics of Media Dispositifs, Samuel Sieber
The history of media is coined by moments of instability marking aesthetical, technical, and perceptual transitions. Following the concepts of the ‘dispositif’ (or ‘apparatus’) by Michel Foucault and the ‘politics of aesthetics’ by Jacques Rancière, unstable media and the processes of their transition are to be considered in their political dimensions. Conceived as ‘thoroughly heterogenous ensemble[s] consisting of discourses, institutions, […] the said as much as the unsaid’ (Foucault), media dispositifs provide ‘arrangements of the visible and the articulable’ (Deleuze) and imply a ‘distribution of the sensible’ (Rancière). The power-relations in media dispositifs are ‘simultaneously local, unstable, and diffuse’ (Deleuze), thus allowing for transitional ‘interventions in the visible and the sayable’ (Rancière). With the advent of the digital age such transitions can be observed on a regular basis. The integrating potential of modular and variable ‘new media’ (Manovich) has facilitated new media dispositifs such as the multimedia mobile phone or the computer game. The study of such media dispositifs promises insights in two different dimensions of media power: the politics of media in moments of instability and transition on the one hand and a media-based ‘police’ constantly (re-)arranging the ‘distribution of the sensible’ on the other.
The Future is Now: smartCANS in the 21st Century, sam smiley
AstroDime Transit Authority, a think tank and media art collective that works with concepts of communication and transportation, has been in the research and development stages of an iCONic telecommunications technology: the iCAN. We have produced surveys, performances, and focus groups for this cutting edge technology. Created out of quality PVC pipe, and tin cans, the iCAN promises to be on the bleeding edge of technological change and innovation. We are in the stage of developing “apps” for our product, and seek conference attendees’ participation. AstroDime will be circulating during portions of the conference and will be collecting consumer responses to the iCAN product. Here is their call for apps:
Beyond the Brick: Rebuilding LEGO in the Digital Age, Aaron Smith
As a cultural icon, the eight-stud red LEGO brick hasn’t changed much since it was first patented in 1958. Yet today, the physical toy represents only a small portion of the LEGO brand. With rapid technological and cultural change threatening the toy industry, The LEGO Group ventured into the entertainment economy, attaching rich story worlds to their products and expanding properties across media platforms. Maaike Lauwaert has studied the process of such transition in terms of evolving “geographies of play,” while Stig Hjarvard describes the shift from solid to immaterial toys as “mediatization.” This paper draws on these theories to examine LEGO’s licensed and original franchises. What does it mean to “play” with LEGO in the digital age? In particular, I will focus on the company’s strategies for not only promoting, but interconnecting physical, virtual, and social play.
Multiple Layers of Learning through Digital Transition: VoiceThread, Young Song with Lisa Donovan and Kristina Sansone
How can educators and media makers better incorporate strategies for the digital age? This presentation discusses the kinds of transitions from oral cultures to digital cultures that we observe through two media projects. The first project is a cultural exchange project that was conducted between a classroom at Songwon Elementary School in South Korea and a classroom at Lee School in Massachusetts, USA. As the main communication tool between the students in the two countries, this project uses VoiceThread—an audiovisual discussion tool that can serve as an ideal match for specific learning and reflection tasks. Through the arts, media, and technology elements that are embedded in this project, students in these two countries have been sharing each other’s cultures. The presenters will explore the progression of the work from multiple vantage points—through an analysis of the role of authorship in students, the power of poetry to illuminate nuance, and the opportunity that technology (VoiceThread) provides to connect students across cultures despite geographic and cultural differences. The second project is entitled “Harnessing Multiple Perspectives on Arts Based Learning through Digital Documentation” and took place at the Sumner School in MA, USA. The research team asked the following questions: How can technology support the communication of the story documentation tells of the teaching and learning that occurred? How do we investigate the various lenses through which people are looking at the work? How can we create documentation that can be valued across perspectives using technology? Presenters will discuss how VoiceThread allowed the documentation to draw out layers of learning and different perspectives on the work.
@mishacollins: Twitter and Fan/Celebrity Authorship, Louisa Stein
My provocation will investigate the use of twitter as a transmedia tool of negotiation between fans and celebrities, as both fan and celebrity use the twitter interface perform a revised fan/celebrity relationship. Focusing specifically on Supernatural side-character actor and twitter-celebrity Misha Collins and his fans, I will explore the way both star and fans deploy twitter in shifting ways to position themselves in relation to each other and to the television franchise that initially brought them together. While Misha Collins’ role in the TV series Supernatural has remained (much to his fans’ chagrin) marginal since his introduction into the series three years ago, Collins has cultivated a large fan base on twitter through his playful authoring of his own star text via twitter. Collins’ twitter followers (currently topping 117,000) proactively celebrate his centrality to their appreciation of Supernatural, often emphasizing the way in which their devotion to Collins is tied into his accessibility on and creative use of twitter. I would thus suggest that considering the multiple facets of the Misha’s twitter phenomenon offers a snapshot of transmedia authorship and engagement, as both Collins and fans experiment with the not yet fully-determined uses of twitter as social networking interface and tool for digital self-representation.
Unstable Users: Displacement and Distraction as Perils of the Transition to Digital Media, Janet Sternberg
We recognize the promise of the transition to digital media, but we must also raise questions about possible perils of this transition. Digital media give rise to problems of stability, including displacement and distraction. Displacement in space and time results from new forms of presence. We’re partially present in several places at once, yet not fully present anywhere at all. Increasingly, concepts like “here” and “now” confuse us and we’re unsure of where and with whom we are at any given moment. Distraction is promoted by new forms of attention. People multi-task more than ever, rarely doing one thing at a time, But human attention is finite, and combining direct sensory perception with indirect technologically-mediated perception, we often lose focus and concentration and the sense of knowing and controlling what we’re doing. Introduced by digital media, new forms of presence and of attention change our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with our environments, bringing unexpected problems such as displacement and distraction. Trying to understand negative as well as positive effects, what technologies undo as well as what they do, we stand a better chance of stabilizing our technological environments, decreasing the perils and increasing the promise of digital media.
Banquets, Blasphemy and Grotesque Bodies: Carnivalesque Forms in Biopolitical Media Activism, Wolfgang Sutzl
Even though the term “media activism” is often used to exclusively refer to the tactical media movement of the 1990s (Garcia & Lovink 1997), contemporary media activism has in fact an extraordinarily rich history. Although research on this subject is limited, it is possible to identify media of resistance in every epoch of media history, or indeed to approach media history principally as a history of media of resistance. In their works on the carnival culture of medieval and early modern Europe, Mikhail Bakhtin (1984), Rolf Johannsmeier (1984), and Piero Camporesi (1994) describe a wealth of forms of such media. This paper will investigate actions by groups such as ubermorgen.com, 0100101110101101.org and Les Liens Invisibles from this perspective, and, based on the findings of this media-historical approach, conclude with an exploration of recent activist attacks against platforms such as Google and Facebook (e.g. Google Will Eat Itself, Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, Seppukoo) testing the hypothesis that the carnivalesque forms described by the above authors make it possible to contribute towards a better historical understanding of activist media, and indeed towards a media history conceived of as a history of resistance.
Indiana Jones Fights the Communist Police: Text Adventures as a Transitional Media Form in the 1980’s Czechoslovakia, Jaroslav Svelch
Building on my ongoing research on social history of gaming in Czechoslovakia, this paper will investigate the role of text adventures (now called “interactive fiction”) as a specific, transitional form of popular computer culture. Even in the context of non-existent hardware or software market in the 1980’s, the text adventure (or “textovka”) emerged as a specific “national” computer game genre, enjoyed by a vibrant community of enthusiasts. In most other genres, pirate copies of British games were played, but text adventures posed a difficulty for a non-English speaking audience. Popular text adventures titles included non-licensed adaptations and fan fiction-like variations of the Indiana Jones films and fantasy literature, as well as hacking games and satirical adventures. Due to the community function of the games, there were strong intertextual ties between them. Different authors made sequels to other designers’ games (often simultaneously, but independently of each other), characters migrated between fictional worlds and even authors themselves became characters in other people’s games. The genre reached its apex just before the Velvet Revolution. In 1989, its widespread popularity was evidenced by Mesto robotu (City of the Robots), a traditional science fiction text adventure published by a branch of the Social Union of Youth, and ...a to snad ne (…what the heck), an experimental hypertext game. Both games were accompanied by nationwide contests announced by Czechoslovak national media, in which a number of players to fastest complete the game could win prizes. By this time, even the official structures of the totalitarian regime acknowledged the impact of text adventures and home computing, both of which they had previously stunted. At the same time, text adventures were used as a form of protest against the regime. One of the Indiana Jones games, for example, featured the all-American hero fighting the communist police. This paper uses methods of comparative analysis and historical research to highlight the unique formal properties and community functions of the genre that helped define a national gaming and computing culture.
Time Banking, the Business of Sharing, and Ghoulish ATMs: Personal Economics and Social Change, Lana Swartz
The current “economic crisis” has brought into focus money’s instability as a platform. In the popular imagination, money has become both central and illusory. There seems to be a growing sense that money is system of socially contingent shared meanings and practices– far from the totally rational method of exchange we have sometimes imagined it to be. This paper draws from a media analysis of and interviews with leaders of and participants in three organizations -- a timebank, a “business of sharing” start-up, and a banking protest group -- that, to some degree, forge alternatives to mainstream economic culture. How does each group put the meaning of exchange into play, infusing even traditional uses of money with new significance, undermining the taken-for-granted authority of institutions and turning personal finance into a form of civic communication?
Memory Objects, Sarah Sweeney
William J. Mitchell describes photographs as “fossilized light,” objects that preserve the lived experience of time in fixed form. It is this stability that sets them in stark contrast to what cognitive psychologists describe as autobiographical memory. In our autobiographical memory our recollection of the past becomes skewed through the introduction of confabulations, the privileging of recency and of positive events, and the transforming impact of time. While these effects render our autobiographical memories malleable, the photograph as a memory object purports to represent the same information in a stable nonselective manner. In my work the rigidity of analog biographical photographs becomes subject to the malleability of the digital environment. As each 1950’s slide becomes a digital file, that previously fixed moment becomes subject to the same instabilities and vulnerabilities that shape our autobiographical memory. In this paper I will discuss several series of my photographic work in which erasure, duplication, visual hyperbole and truncation destabilize the memory object offering a vision of past time marked by emotion, error and ambiguity.
The Uses of Social Media in the Swedish Online Newspaper Aftonbladet, Cecilia Teljas
During the past decades, many analogue media have been transformed into digital services. The printed newspaper available online is an example of such a transition. For many years this transformation was merely a matter of medium, basically not affecting the content. However, during the past few years digitalization has matured and resulted in the introduction of new, additional services extending the original product content. For online newspapers this development has resulted in new features, such as article commenting, journalist blogs, Facebook-recommendations of articles. Many of these services serve as a social add-on, or are connected to popular social media platforms. Some media companies have even built their own online communities. This study aims to give a more robust understanding of the concept and empirical phenomena social media today. A theoretical examination of this concept and its use will be made. The outcome will be discussed in relation to examples of social media use in the Swedish online newspaper industry. In a more concrete part, the study will describe the uses of social media in Aftonbladet – Sweden's most visited online newspaper. The material consists of social media related content on Aftonbladet.se, the newspaper's Facebook postings, and the Aftonbladet community called Snack. Interviews will be made at Aftonbladet about its social media philosophy, strategy and experience. Additionally, focus groups studies are conducted to hear young adults' experiences and opinions of social media use in online newspapers.
Video Sites as Alternative Forms of Citizenship, Joanne Teoh
The arrival of the all-video culture has been so quick and quiet that the implications of what a screen culture may mean are just becoming part of the business, political and intellectual conversation. The need to easily and quickly create and publish all kinds of video to all of today's online touch points for a 360-degree view of urgent social issues has spawned new forms of journalism and community engagement in Asia. Video is now everywhere - a Web experience, a mobile experience, as well as an IPTV, cable and satellite experience. As audiences move online, the very nature of online channels is changing. Gone are the days of the static one-way Web site. Today's Web is interactive, participatory and video rich. It is about community, and building a two-way conversation that requires new types of video content that is both professionally produced and also citizen-generated. As we enter the age of “all video all the time,” what do these new technologies and cultural advances mean? How are participants, spectators and sense-makers empowered by spectacles of the screen to build capacity and spur collective problem solving? This presentation showcases news coverage at ground zero of the Asian tsunami (2004), cyclone Nargis (2008) Sichuan earthquake (2009) and post independent Timor Leste (2009) to reveal how oral cultures in under-represented Asian communities in crisis are being transformed by grassroots video advocacy.
Mappings by Ourselves: Towards a Media History of Geomobility, Tristan Thielmann
When reviewing the history of geomedia, it seems that we are confronted with an astonishing continuity in the application of cultural techniques. Virtual travel through pre-recorded spaces like Google StreetView can look back to at least the year 1907, when the first attempt at capturing residential streets of select routes in photographs, and making them accessible superimposed with textual and pictographical information as “photo-auto guides” took place. Furthermore, the idea of mobile augmented reality applications such as Layar or Wikitude or the idea of crowd-sourced mapping, which became popular through the platform www.openstreetmap.org, are not responding to the imperative of newness. Already in Mapping by Yourself, the first DARPA funded project of the Architecture Machine Group, these features were theoretical reflected in “a multi-media paradigm for computer based geographics.” Considering that geobrowsing applications initially were developed at MIT as trackable tablet PCs before the first stationary virtual navigable spaces such as the Aspen Movie Map were available, these observations of continuity experiences allow a rethinking of media history. So far, media were seen as something immobile and “still framing” in media history and media theory, which process immutable mobiles (data), and retain (store) it. Even the notion that today’s media practices are the apparent logical continuance of a sustained acceleration only support the assumption that an alleged deceleration would lead us back to the basis of the latent statical. Rather, the establishment of mobile media allows seeing data (software) as something given to mobilize media. This heuristics returns data to their ontological status. Even more: by not choosing the stationary (PC, TV, etc.) as the starting point of examination, but the genuine mobile (hand-held devices, paper, etc.), a new disciplinary field of software studies opens up, and media history realigns. From that perspective, the mobility of media consequently appears as an antecedent, and the stationary as a transitional stage.
Streaming Cinephilia: Movie Distribution in the Age of Platform Mobility, Chuck Tryon
This paper addresses the challenges of movie and television distribution associated with the transition from home video to digital distribution as the primary form of domestic movie consumption. For the last several years, the Hollywood trade press has been dominated by discussions of the decline of Blockbuster Video and the emergence of new media upstarts such as Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, and Amazon. At the same time, mobile tools, such as Netflix’s iPhone app allow virtually unlimited access to Netflix’s content. Thus, this paper uses the concept of platform mobility to examine the implications of mobile video for both the entertainment industry and for media consumers. Although the high profile acquisitions of Netflix (CBS TV content) and Hulu (Criterion DVD content) have received the most attention, this paper will address the less visible, but potentially more significant, trend of studios distributing directly to consumers. I will argue that these changes are, in fact, mere extensions of current industry practices associated with a system of discrete “windows” in which viewers are invited to purchase content, one that depends, in many cases, on temporary restrictions in access to content, challenging the “DVD anywhere” claims that are often widely promoted in the news media.
Forget Psychogeography: The Object-Turn in Locative Media, Marc Tuters
Locative media offers to deliver information contextually, typically conceived in terms of geographic space. Locative practice had sought to playfully re-image the city. As the locative apparatus has become widespread, the novelty of this mannerist Situationism has diminished, yet it remains a useful concept for digital artists and designers to consider the prospect of every object on the planet as addressable and nature as a potential site for their compositions. Moreover, as the locative point of reference shifts from absolute (GPS) to more relational (RFID) notions of proximity, non-human things seem poised to reclaim their long forgotten status as governing assemblies.
The Rubber Bands are Broken, Paul van den Hoven
The digital revolution starts to demolish the fortress of the European continental courtroom. This indeed is a transition of promise and peril. In this presentation, I will analyze four technology-driven developments in the European legal system that intensify one another: (1) The transition of courtrooms and files into digital junctions coincides with a technological development that unveils a series of mistrials; (2) the transition of courtrooms and files into digital junctions invites multimodal texts such as videos, animated reconstructions and so on into a world of piles of paper files filled with manageable propositions; (3) immigration and globalization create a multicultural European society of people that exerts pressure on a modernist European society of one-dimensional legal institutions; and (4) social networks and digital media create individuals, loaded with information sources who expect their legal system to be informed. These four conspiring developments transform the European continental courtroom into an unstable but exciting platform.
Facebook Speak Up!, Lonneke van der Velden
This paper proposes a digital methods approach for studying action on Facebook, developed in a research project on Facebook Activism. Inspired by Latour, who urges researchers not to impose social categories to research objects but to observe how they order themselves, we critically assessed claims on Facebook activism that primarily depart from users’ perspectives and investigated instead what kinds of activism Facebook enables. We studied calls for action within a top selection of Facebook groups having “stance language” in the titles and accordingly visualised the relative sizes of their “action formats”. The project can relate to other studies on Facebook activism by putting into perspective the relevance of certain repertoires of action compared to others. On the theoretical level the paper contributes to studies on user-technology interaction within surveillance networks by involving Actor Network Theory (ANT) to this topic. In particular, the paper criticises case studies that describe how users repurpose technologies according to their “own” views. These studies risk importing preconfigured notions of actorship and re-establishing a two-actor paradigm. With the alternative approach presented here, that is distilling repertoires of action, actorship does not fall back into a user/technology distinction, but becomes a question of enactment.
Narratives across Media: From Blogs to Paper, Piret Viires
The narrative structure of a blog is different from the way narratives are organized in mainstream novels or movies. It can be described as fragmentary, episodic, continuous, open-ended. J. Walker Rettberg argues that both diaries and earlier hypertext fiction are the antecedents of this narrative structure. Hypertext fiction, just like blogs, consists of many small pieces of narrative, which are connected by links. The aim of the present paper is to examine the cases when blogs are leaving their internet environment and are published as printed books. In such cases, the fragmentary and episodic narrative structure of a blog is transformed into mainstream literature and becomes part of it. The question that is posed in this paper, is if this fragmentary narrative structure has influenced mainstream literature also in these cases when we are not dealing with published blogs? Is the fragmentary structure of a blog as a writing style, ecriture, accepted by mainstream literature? T he paper will discuss the question of what could be the possible impact of the narrative structure of Facebook (even more shorter and fragmented texts, polyphony, simultaneous action of several agents) to the mainstream printed literature.
The "Expert Paradigm" Revisited: Media Change and the Consensus Narrative, Peter Walsh
This paper will expand on my 1999 paper for MiT1, "That Withered Paradigm: The Web, the Expert, and Information Hegemony," to look at the structural relationships between media change and the transformation of societies. Major media innovations (writing, the alphabet, the bound book, printing, the telegraph, radio, television, and now the internet) have typically been followed by breakdowns in the prevailing social consensus. These social upheavals are, in turn, often followed by increasing social division and unrest, even to the point of violence, before a new consensus can form. New media do not create social divisions. They accentuate dissent and unrest that already lies under the surface, often for generations, and bring them to the surface. This paper will look at the role of the invention of the telegraph in the American Civil War, the invention of radio in the events leading to the Second World War, and the advent of television in the American Civil Rights Movement and the breakdown of support for the Vietnam War. Finally, it will examine the current state of social consensus and division surrounding internet-based media and explore its implications.
From Photoplay to Twitter: Celebrity in the First Person, Amber Watts
From the earliest days of the star system, audiences have had the opportunity to read, hear, and see celebrities speak “in their own words.” Fan magazines like Photoplay regularly featured first-person celebrity stories. Since its launch in 2006, though, microblogging service Twitter has given fans a new way to interact with celebrities: an instantaneous, constantly updated feed of stars’ thoughts, often (albeit not always) written by the celebrities themselves. This essay will explore how Twitter potentially rewrites older discourses of stardom, using a 2010 “Twitter war” between Charles in Charge star Scott Baio and feminist blog Jezebel as a case study. At this point in time, celebrities can communicate with and respond to feedback from fans directly, bypassing “official” gossip and publicity channels. At the same time, though, they can show their “unpolished” sides, whether intentionally or unintentionally, with unlimited potential for either genuine candidness or PR disasters. “Traditional” stardom narratives focus on celebrities’ elevation from the general public and their concrete presence in the better half of an ordinary/ extraordinary binary, but I will argue that the instability of Twitter as a platform offers an emerging ability to unravel both stars’ “extraordinary” status and their conventional separation from the general public.
Spatial Navigation and Narrative Construction across Media, April Wei
What changes might happen to narrative when navigable space becomes one of the key forms of new media? A larger question is: what’s the relation between navigation, narrative and mediality? In this paper I will examine a few works across different media all of which rely on navigation to construct narrative (that navigation does not appear to only serve as a technique of space presentation as in our general impression): 1) Painting of Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival, a Chinese long hand scroll painting over 1,000 years ago, also remediated as a digital installation at Shanghai Expo 2010. 2) Dream of the Red Chamber, created in 18th century, acknowledged in China as the pinnacle of its novels. The novel with a labyrinthine garden as its central story space is quite possibly the prototype of Borges’ “The Garden of Forking Paths”. 3) Film full of tracking shots such as Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003), or even entirely done in one continuous take such as Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov, 2002). I try to argue that navigation as a narrative form is transcultural, transhistorical, transmedia, its distinctive features might include: a. the basic narrative unit is formed more by character’s movement and perception than by action. b. it has a narrative capacity of innumerable characters, and a potential of “network narrative” (David Bordwell). c. it is a perfect incarnation of chronotope (Bakhtin) in which time and space are interdependent and equally weighted, and it makes chronotope as its narrative subject. Last, I will discuss how navigation is shaped by particular mediality and its implication on new media.
Counterculture, Craftsmanship, and Cyberspace: Considerations of Contemporary Feminist Zines in/as/of Education, Courtney Lee Weida
This paper will examine the cyberspace presences and digital interplays of contemporary feminist zines in the contexts of art and art education. Although the peak of zine creations as works on paper may be traced to the 1990s, this form of feminist counterculture has evolved into cyberspace forums and expressions. Zines often include not only email addresses alongside “snail mail” addresses, but also links to pdfs and related web resources. Connecting the handmade craftsmanship and hand-drawn and written techniques of zines with the grassroots connectivity enabled by the web; blogs and other online forums relating to zines or containing zines constitute interesting liminal spaces. This paper explores the potential and problems of zines as extensions of hypertext, the dimensionality of the screen and the page, and the expression of personal identities via individual craftsmanship. The educational contexts of zines considered in this paper include college classrooms, K-12 teaching, as well as library collections.
How the Digital is Impacting Perceptions of Quality in Aesthetic Domains, Margaret Weigel
I propose discussing how digital tools and materials used for creative work – computers and the software they run, the internet – and their broader impacts are profoundly impacting how young people engage with creative processes, and how these concepts are defined and understood. 1. Postmodern taste categories: The dissolution of coherent (if hegemonic) standards of quality in a landscape thick with multiplicity leaves what constitutes ‘good work’ in the eye of the beholder and his elected affinity group more than ever, rendering creative choices more confusing now than in the past. 2. Shifts in tools and processes promote specific creative processes: Digital production encourages a ‘shoot first, and ask questions later’ approach which privileges editing and curation over preplanning. Instead, producers tend to ‘collect’ media artifacts first and then pick and choose elements to work with. 3. The perpetual work-in-progress: Computer software’s support of multiple revisions enables the production process to continue indefinitely; all pieces are now “works-in-progress”. The young producer is more reluctant to commit to a single vision, and often finds herself adrift in a sea of possibilities or marginalized by adhering to the standards of a specific affinity group. 4. The critical self gives way to aesthetic crowdsourcing: Online feedback allows young creators to outsource tough creative questions to the wisdom (or not) of the crowd; consensus takes the place of individual vision. Those who do receive comments online, however, may be subject to pointless fault-finding and episodes of cruelty, as is often the case in unmoderated commenting venues.
Studying Media Usage by Studying Micro Business Models, Stefan Werning
The media industry is increasingly characterized by small but interrelated micro business models which, in various and shifting constellations, shape the way users experience media content. Examples include location-based services such as Foursquare, gamification services such as Badgeville, services for the increasingly granular re-selling and re-purposing of media content such as movieclips.com and services that allow for monetizing user-generated content such as kickstarter.com. On the one hand, these phenomena can be interpreted as ”sociotechnical systems” (Niederer/ van Dijck) that structure user behavior. However, with their increasing functional differentiation, these applications arguably become more and more comparable to actual media texts as well. For example, buying and investing in media content become meaningful aspects of the media experience. Moreover, these business models systematically alter the perception of the media content they manipulate or enable users to manipulate as e.g. in applications such as LoKast or Music Pets which repurpose media content as a means to an external end. The proposed paper will offer a number of ‘close readings’ of business models, leveraging the analogy of actual media texts, and identify a number of morphological elements as well as corresponding forms of ‘augmented’ media usage they encourage. For example, with regard to the concept of consumer tribes, social entities can be tentatively classified by the ‘genre’ of business model they adhere to. Finally, the increasing intermingling between these micro business models shall be conceptualized with reference to ‘software studies’ methodology, readjusting it to the study of smaller, interrelated applications.