An International Conference
October 8-10, 1999
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstracts J - Z [A - I]
Discourses of the Social:
Australia - A Multimedia Documentary
Jakubowicz, The University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Digital multimedia and its
territorial locations -- cyberspace -- has been portrayed as liberatory,
enslaving, or revolutionary. This paper explores the nature of narratives
of multicultural societies in multimedia, through the specific example
of an Australian project - Making Multicultural Australia. The paper
argues that multimedia has the potential to offer multi-focal cross-cultural
spaces for exploration of competing narratives of the social. Based on
over six years of intensive research, and on materials collected over thirty
years, the CDROM project, Making Multicultural Australia tells the
many stories of struggle, setback and triumph that have formed contemporary
Australia. Originally conceived as a book which would capture a "people's
history" of Australian cultural diversity, it became one and then three
CDROMs, an incalculably rich source of ideas, experiences, information
WELL Run Dry: On the Need for Critical/Historical Study of Commerce and
Jones, University of Illinois, Chicago
This presentation is focused
on the historical connections between online community and commerce/economics.
It makes the case that the most influential symbol for online community,
the WELL, should be examined in light of sociocultural trends "apart" from
Internet-related ones, most importantly those that began to shape the social
mores of the Baby Boom generation in the late 1960s. Of particular importance
is the borrowing of language and ideas from Sixties literature and song
in subsequent structuring of community discourse. That structuring must
be further connected to post-60s capitalism to add a missing and important
historical link to contemporary debates about the construction of online
community. Particular emphasis will be placed on the rhetoric of community
as it has been taken up by those in e-commerce endeavors.
Ethnicity and Indian Cinema
Anandam Kavoori and
Christina Joseph, University of Georgia
This paper examines patterns
of comparative media use amongst south Asians in the American south.
It looks at the complex intersection between popular culture (the Hindi
film industry), Internet use and traditional folk culture (songs, dances
and religious performances).
as an Academic Ritual
Julia "Evergreen" Keefer, NYU and Polytechnic Universities
By using Cyberperformance as a creative combination of cyberspace, metaspace, and deepspace, the organic professor on the inorganic net seeks to develop a theatrical ritual with students as performers that fulfills a pedagogical objective, ritualizes conflicts in the academic community, and heals the breaches with catharsis and redressive action. The paper will document Cyberperformance I: Humans and Nature, Cyberperformance II: Self versus State, Cyberperformance III: Educational versus Commercial Web Development, Cyberperformance IV: Heat Wave 99: Characters Sizzling in Time, and Cyberperformance V: The Century: Laugh!! From 2000 Years of Jokes and Mistakes. Cyberperformance will be discussed as a genre-in-transition which helps create performative strategies and arenas for online and cyber-enhanced learning.
Re-Players -- From Sports Fans to Video Game Players: A Cognitive History
Kemper, Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences
Employing recent developments
in cognitive theory, this paper examines how sports spectators engage in
an intertextual process of game play which simultaneously recalls their
experience of spectatorship across the board (in television, video games,
and spectator sports) as well as tapping into their experience -- real
or imagined -- in participant sports. Video games thereby become positioned
within a historical line of sports spectatorship and its attendant notions
of interactivity and empowerment.
Other End of Print: David Carson, Graphic Design, and the Aesthetics of
Kirschenbaum, University of Kentucky
I will discuss the innovative
(and controversial) layouts of graphic designer David Carson in the context
of broader issues in media studies. In particular, I will suggest that
Carson's kinetic style is driven by an aesthetic that takes "information"
and "media" as objects of representation in and of themselves, and that
print, far from being outmoded and irrelevant in the midst of the current
"Information Age," is in fact a vital component of our media ecology --
precisely because designers like Carson use print to consolidate and disseminate
their aesthetics of information so effectively.
the Web Watch Me:
Explorations of the
Kitzmann, University of Karlstad, Sweden
Domestic web-cams provide
a new twist in the social practices oriented around the distinctions between
private and public space. On the one hand they are located in the most
public of mediums -- the Internet, which by design is available to anyone
with the right technology. Yet on the other, domestic web-cams allow the
pretense of entering into the most private spaces of home life. This presentation
examines the nature of this mediation between the private and the public
made possible by web-cam technology.
the Looking Glass:
at the Nexus of Television and Hypertext
Kretchmer, Johns Hopkins University
Rod Carveth, Emerson College
The attention received by
the promise and performance of the hypertext-based World Wide Web has obscured
the increasing hypertextual nature of television. However, it is important
to see hypertext for what it truly is -- a step in the evolution of media.
In this paper, we explore the convergence of hypertext and television,
and investigate their relationship to the concept of hypertextuality in
order to illuminate the interplay of influence in the latest metamorphosis
in media. Our approach uses hypertextuality as a prism, or new instrument
of insight, to reveal unnoticed, naturalized and mystified aspects of the
medium of television. We focus our analysis on the application of these
concepts to television, explore what hypertext and hypertextuality imply
for our present media culture, and extrapolate to what these notions mean
for the future.
Shaping Participatory Performances
Through an Interface
in the Blair Witch Project
Lancaster, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In this presentation, I
want to theorize how users experience the internet as a site of performance.
Participants enter a site as performers and the interface determines what
kind of role they perform. Exploring this theory through The Blair Witch
Project's homepage, it can be seen how the designers of this site use scientific
tropes in an attempt to make the fantastic seem real. Using various performance
theories, I hope to explain how the interface helps shape the participant's
experience/performance, which causes fantasy to blur into reality. In addition,
I want to explore how this web site extends the story of the film itself.
|New Media Design Education at the Media Laboratory
John Maeda, MIT Media Laboratory
John Maeda has examined the issue of teaching Computer Science to traditional design students for the past decade and will present the history of this work which culminates his recent Design By Numbers project. In addition, since arriving at MIT in 1996, Maeda has been looking at the issue of designing studio art courses in Computer Science for MIT graduate and undergraduate students. he will present work from these courses which span issues in form, typography, and photography.
Persistence of the Archive:
Working Out What
Television is For
Alan McKee, Edith Cowan
This paper looks at the
ways in which television is constructed as a cultural object. It suggests
that despite the relative antiquity of the medium, its status and uses
are still a matter of contestation. In this, a focus on the constitution
of and contestation over new communication technologies draws attention
away from the fact that older communications technologies are by no means
stable in their cultural positioning and meanings. I would argue then that
while vernacular theory takes television as a cultural resource of programs
which might archived and understood as 'heritage', academic criticism has
largely taken the programs to be unimportant. In this, I see continuing
contestation over what this 'old communications technology' is, and the
uses to which is should be put.
James and Telegraphic Realism:
Fiction and/as Technology
Menke, Stanford University
In setting his 1898 tale
"In the Cage" at a telegraph counter, Henry James was appropriating a technology
that earlier novelists such as Dickens had used as an analogue for the
workings of fictional realism: electric telegraphy. But James's new attention
to telegraphy as a material practice and a medium indicates the way in
which the imaginative possibilities of even literary "media" such as realistic
fiction may change as newer technologies emerge.
Death of Books: A Short History of Predictions
Priscilla Coit Murphy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
This short review of predictions of the end of books spans the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, with an eye to contemporary predictions that books-as-we-know-them may soon disappear. The nature of the sources, orientations, and underlying assumptions of these predictions is explored. The analysis reflects on the need to consider books as part of the media system, taking into account not only social, economic, and cultural issues but also the practitioners' perspectives.
Aesthetics and Contemporary Media Spectacles
Ndalianis, University of Melbourne, Australia
This paper will explore
ways in which technological transformations in contemporary entertainment
media such as film and theme park attractions reflect a neo-baroque form.
Entertainment forms reveal an open, dynamic structure that strategically
makes ambiguous the boundaries that distinguish reality from illusion.
|To Tell My Sisters....
Virginia Nightingale, University of Western Sydney, Nepean, Australia
In 1999 the NSW Breast Cancer Institute (on behalf of BreastScreen NSW) and academics, students and video production staff from UWS Nepean jointly began a research project to document the life stories of fourteen women from non-English speaking backgrounds, and to analyze their ideas about breast health and its maintenance.
This exploration in interculturalism involved
a) Interviewing the women who agreed to take part in the project
b) Making a short documentary film
c) Rewriting the research interviews as stories for a companion booklet
d) Translating each story into the birth language of the teller
e) Involvement of video production students in the making of the documentary
f) preparation of a research report.
Many of the stories include accounts of mothers, friends or relatives who have suffered or died from breast cancer. They provide important documentation of the impact of breast cancer on the families and friends of its victims.
But the stories go further. They show how women from non-English speaking backgrounds approach breast health activities using their migration experience of starting over in a different place and language community. The stories demonstrate the women's capacity to develop and maintain, when assisted by government policy, community safety nets for the education and well being of community members.
The lesson taught by these stories is that breast health cannot be separated from personal health. Continuing to enjoy good health requires the support and encouragement of friends and family and an investment by women themselves in the skills and knowledge needed to stay in touch with new developments.
As an active health strategy, staying healthy might involve activities as varied as developing friendship networks, participating in community education programs, and even learning English late in life. But most importantly for women these days it involves a positive commitment to preventative measures like breast screening so that women can live to enjoy their families and friends.
The project focuses attention on the ways government policy needs to engage more closely with the health perspectives of women, both individually and as communities. It demonstrates the possibility of research which delivers to the host community research outcomes that they can both understand and value (like a video and booklet of stories). But it has shortcomings too which need to be discussed.
|Magic Mirror: The Novel as Software Development Environment
Mark Pesce, University of Southern California
From its earliest days, science fiction has had a catalytic effect on the development of a range of technologies. Radio, television and nuclear weapons first presented themselves to the popular mind in works such as H.G. Wells' novels and Hugo Gernsback's manifold publications. Beginning with the publication of Vernor Vinge's novella True Names (1980), science fiction thrust itself to prominence as a creative whiteboard for the architecture of systems of software. This points to the novel as "tinker toys" in the new universe of virtuality; the blank page echoes the black silence of cyberspace devoid of human presence, and the creative act of putting words on the page becomes in the 21st century the spell of words which create worlds. A thousand-year-old medium has, in the age of computing machinery, become the ultimate programming tool and the clearest compass into the forms of the future.
and Online News Delivery:
The Impact of Technology
on Editorial Gatekeeping
Rogers, Central Piedmont Community College
The explosion of electronic
journalism (Editor and Publisher reports an 83 percent increase
in newspaper web sites in the last two years) and the increasing range
of options for instantaneous news coverage are easily documented. Beyond
tallying these increased news outlets, however, media analysts also can
begin examining the impact of this method of news delivery and the evolving
function of online editors. Although traditional daily newspaper criteria
-- such as issue or event prominence, local relevance, and reader interest
-- still guide many editors in filling the screens of their online editions,
audience-centered formulae are also driving the journalistic decision-making
process on content inclusion, placement, and tone. Based on page impression
data, textual analysis of daily newspaper web pages, and interviews with
online editors and new media managers, this paper will address the major
factors in the online newspaper's gatekeeping function.
In this post-modern, post-Einsteinian
period, time becomes space, as most major dailies are able to expand exponentially
from three, static print editions to 24-hour web pages with updates every
few minutes. Given the myriad wire service, syndicated, and in-house sources
for news copy, the online editor sifts daily through a melange of possible
stories. The electronic news budgeting process becomes a constant hacking
through copy, photo files, and wire service updates to decide which stories
will be displayed, which deserve headline links, and which will be discarded
for lack of space, importance, or reader interest. Once editors select
articles, they still wrestle with issues of placement and display as they
fashion a 'look' and 'feel' for their web sites that often differ significantly
(usually less conservative) from the tone of their printed-page counterparts.
Running throughout this sequence is a more emphatic version of the age-old,
editorial gatekeeping quandaries: What should we show our readers versus
what do our readers want to see? And, add to that the bottom-line corollary
of today's competitive electronic marketplace: How many page views will
Last Vaudevillian - A Film
Ruoff, Middlebury College
The Last Vaudevillian
is a road movie about a traveling entertainer and a documentary about an
important tradition of non-fiction film. It explores the little-known world
of itinerant lecturers who tour around North America showing travelogue
movies. The documentary follows one lecturer on tour from New York to Florida
in the spring of 1998 as he presents his feature travelogue Cuba at
Large Scale Conversations
and Illness Based
Sack, MIT Media Laboratory
Dumit, MIT Program in Science, Technology and Society
Even only ten years ago
electronic mail was a novelty outside of computer science departments.
But now, with tens of millions of people on-line, email is constituent
of much day-to-day social and professional life. This rapid increase in
the number of Internet inhabitants has made possible the unprecedented
phenomenon of very large-scale conversations (VLSCs) in which hundreds,
even thousands, of people participate in many-to-many communications. The
most obvious manifestations of this phenomenon are Usenet newsgroups hosted
on hundreds of thousands of servers on the Internet and archived by a handful
of industrially-sized sites (e.g., http://www.dejanews.com).
These conversations are not amenable to current discourse analysis techniques,
and we hardly know where to begin in analyzing discussions consisting of
100,000 or more messages a year. In this paper we introduce a set of computational
tools that can graphically display and assist in the analysis of VLSCs.
We are especially interested in a set of VLSCs devoted to illness-based
social movements. Illness-based social movements are one example of a new
sort of politics that is facilitated by the advent of VLSCs. Using the
graphical display capabilities of our computational tools, we present several
findings concerning illness-based social movements. We elaborate and supplement
the computationally facilitated findings with another set of close- and
contentualizing-readings of the communications of the illness-based social
Investigation of VLSCs and Illness-Based Social Movements is collaborative
work underway at the MIT Science, Technology, and Society Program and the
MIT Media Laboratory.
You Real Soon: Imagining the Child
in Disney's Cold-War
Sammond, University of California, San Diego
Far from an impediment,
early debates about television's positive and negative effects on children,
families, and society sometimes aided the programming and marketing choices
of some producers. This paper reads early Disney television -- specifically,
Disneyland and The Mickey Mouse Club -- as a case study in the use of media-effects
arguments as marketing guides, and of the popular (re)production of ideas
of childhood and family life as nucleation sites for the future of American
culture and society.
Webbing Under the Film: Frontline's Rewriting
of the Text of June
Cross's "Secret Daughter"
This paper looks at the
changing parameters of documentaries in the digital age, specifically what
constitutes the 'text' and who controls the vision of the film. I analyze
the Frontline documentary, Secret Daughter, written by June
Cross. Examining its reliance on both tv and the webpage, I consider
how multiple technologies affect the message of the documentary.
The source material includes interviews with the filmmaker, executive producer
David Fanning, and the web designers at WGBH.
The Flow of Bits
and the Control of Chaos
David Sholle, Miami University
The argument of this paper
is that both academic and political/economic discourses on the information
society are tied to the instrumental projects of developing a technological
infrastructure and instituting economic practices for controlling the exchange
of informational products. As such, they operate with a conception of information
that brackets its meaning, while allowing "information as meaning" to remain
as an unspoken background that seeps into its discourse. An analysis of
information science and economics will show that "information" is defined
as nonsemantic discrete bits flowing across space and then directed and
stored. This substantiates information as the object of control.
|Empowering Authors in the Digital Age
Bob Stein, Night Kitchen
Since Vannevar Bush wrote "As We May Think" in 1945, we've been chasing the dream of a vast library of digital publications. Advances in hardware plus the development of the internet may finally make it possible to turn the dream into reality. The one ingredient still missing, however, is software that will enable non-technical authors to assemble elegant and complex electronic documents. Since leaving Voyager three years ago, Stein has been working to develop such tools. He will demonstrate the beta version, due to be released later in October.
Valley and Beyond:
Identity for Online News
Stepno, Emerson College
A regional media firm in
North Carolina with a history as a technological early adopter was one
of the first television stations to establish a World Wide Web presence
and the first to begin broadcasting a digital signal. This paper is a historical
and descriptive overview of WRAL OnLine's evolving Web site design as a
reflection (or social construction) of the company's identity and its relationship
with the community.
Conversation to Interview: Talk in Transition
Suarez, Stanford University
This paper explores the
transition from one sort of recorded conversation -- the table-talk --
to the emergence of a new sort -- the interview -- and argues for the latter's
importance in late twentieth century arts and the humanities.
Report on Emerging Media Production:
The New Literacy
Tashiro, Annenberg Center for Communication, University of Southern
New Literacy Project is a collaboration between USC's School of Cinema-Television
and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Working with select LAS
faculty, the project integrates new media into traditional humanities courses
with the goal not just of making students technically proficient but of
transforming ideas of "expression" and "substance" themselves. The presentation
will report on the first year of the project, with particular focus on
the issues to arise when attempting such interdisciplinary collaboration.
Peasants and Bourgeois Pamphleteers:
The Camisards Represented
in Print, 1685-1710
Daniel Thorburn, National University
After the Revocation of
the Edict of Nantes of 1685, which ended roughly one hundred years of limited
toleration of French Protestantism, groups of peasants, shepherds and wool
carders of the Cevennes, an area of southern France, sparked a religious
revival in which, initially, young girls began trance-preaching, exhorting
their followers to repent of their sins and expect the Day of Judgment.
Their eschatological fervor soon attracted followers who gathered in secret,
often outdoor locations. These secret Protestant assemblies alarmed Catholic
and royal officials who attempted to suppress the gatherings. Their efforts
at suppression failed and led in 1702 to Louis XIV's War of the Cevennes.
This paper does not address
the actual religious revival of the Camisards, as these poor peasants and
others came to be called, but focuses instead on the literate appropriation
of the Camisard cause. The north European press seems to have been obsessed
with the Camisards and their cause for roughly twenty five years. I examine
what I've divided -- according to both generic and chronological criteria
-- into three groups of printed sources on the Camisards. The first accompanies
the original religious revival, often takes the form of compilations
of testimonies, and reflects what Habermas and others have seen as a precursor
to the independent public sphere. The second group is the mass of propaganda
addressing the War of Cevennes: an international, educated, Protestant
class criticizing what are presented as the tyrannical abuses of the French
king, who himself hires writers and other propagandists to take part in
the debate. The third group dates from 1706 when a small group of Camisards
made their way to London and attracted followers there. Hundreds of pamphlets
and books appeared in just a four-year period in London, reflecting a public
preoccupation with the appropriate sources of religious authority. At issue
was the fact that the Camisards were illiterate and their religious message
was passed on orally, rather than through the printed Bible interpreted
by educated ministers.
So this paper addresses
an international debate in the printed media at a time when the relationship
between the press and political authorities was itself a controversial
subject. It also addresses the relationship between print culture and oral
culture, since the subjects of the debate -- and, in fact, some of the
participants -- were a group of illiterate peasants.
and Commodities: The Image of the Book
Travis, Dedman College, Southern Methodist University
Modern publishers and readers
alike have understood the book as a special communications medium within
an increasingly competitive media environment. Beginning with the anti-advertising
rhetoric that publishers adopted at the turn of the century, and continuing
into the present, this paper explores our collective understanding of the
book's difference from the media around it. I argue that this image, which
begins with the book industry itself, but is sustained by popular ideas
about books and reading, affords books a unique position within twentieth-century
|Where Ideal Avenue Meets Pratical Street: Publishing and the New Deal
Cathrine Turner, College Misericordia
This paper will trace the discussions in trade journal Publishers' Weekly over the various drafts of the NIRA code. It will focus on three major issues: price controls, new leisure time, and libraries, and how discussions of these issues tried to balance practical concerns with publishers' and booksellers' desire to appear high minded and beneficial to American culture. Not only do these discussions outline the book industry's efforts at defining their mission, they also show how publishers and sellers hoped the government might add new legitimacy to the value of culture. While publishers and booksellers may have been anxious about government involvement in their industry, many used the formation of the NIRA codes to express the industry's desire to buttress the value of cultural products at a time when ordinary citizens could no longer afford such luxuries.
Search of Its Foundations:
Research in Transition
Urban, Institute for Journalism and
Those who are "mediating
and partly shaping technological change" in media, have to think about
the consequences these transitions have for their own foundations.
Media scientists face a
dramatic situation as the blueprint of their unifying subject, mass communication
e.g. mass media, is becoming more and more diffuse. Additionally, the converging
and diverging media attract strong interest from various other areas of
This report offers a status
quo on the topics German media studies is dealing with, and identifies
the academic disciplines which offer special potential for innovative work
in the field of computer mediated communications.
and New Media: An Historical Perspective
Vasunia, University of Southern California
The paper uses Plato's Phaedrus
to examine the issue of change in media technology. In "Phaedrus," Socrates
narrates an Egyptian story in which writing is cast in a problematic light,
and tries to narrow areas in which written texts may circulate. This paper
addresses Socrates' anxieties about writing, new technology, and foreignness,
and tries to give historical perspective to the discussion of new media.
Vistas: New World Orders and Mass Media at the Close of the Nineteenth
and Twentieth Centuries
Vaughan, Rutgers University
As technological advances
in communication at the approach of the millennium expand contact zones
and reconfigure perceptions of the world and its peoples, it is useful
to compare and learn from the impact of similar phenomena a century ago,
when the currents of globalization combined with unprecedented mass media
penetration and the ascendance of visual aspects of media to create significant
changes in the way Americans conceptualized their place in the world.
the Internet Spoil Castro's Cuba?
Venegas, University of Southern California
The paper charts the development
of the Internet in Cuba, a reluctant and necessary step, that is complicated
by the historical moment. As Cuba reinserts itself into a global marketplace,
it does so when information technologies recreate the way business is done.
And while the topic of the Internet is taboo, it is not ignored in the
Helms-Burton law which seeks to improve telecommunications with the island
in order to increase the potential for change.
Theory in Transition:
Parameters of the
New Global Public Sphere
Volkmer, University of Augsburg, Germany
Globalization is creating
a new kind of 'public sphere' which challenges traditional definitions
and conceptions. This paper will map the parameters of this emerging worldwide
political community and the new (satellite- and cyber-) media environments
that enable it.
Withered Paradigm: The Web, the Expert,
and the Information
Walsh, Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College
In providing access to resources
once restricted to a few, the World Wide Web has seriously challenged established
authority in many fields. In most periods of history, information exchange
and access is in reality an information hegemony -- knowledge carefully
controlled and manipulated by elite groups, who thus gain power and status
as experts. As with earlier technical innovations, the World Wide
Web threatens to disrupt the established relationship between information
and the Expert Paradigm. This paper will compare the shocks the Web has
brought to the Expert in three areas: political journalism, the visual
arts, and intellectual property.
Novel Reading, TV
Watching, Web Surfing
William Warner, University
of California, Santa Barbara
New media technologies incite
powerful ambivalences in their earliest users. However, it is this resistance
to new media that helps to shape media forms (the novel, the television
sitcom) and the media practices (absorptive reading for pleasure, being
a "couch potato). My comparative account of these episodes in the articulation
of print and television avoids a normalizing developmental model of media
transition and offers some lessons for our ongoing development of the Internet
as an infrastructure for humanities knowledge.
Virtual Museum as Wonder Cabinet
Wehmeyer, Smithsonian Institution
This paper considers the
phenomenon of the virtual museum, or that site at which traditional museum
spaces and practices mix and merge with those made possible by new media
and technologies. In particular, the paper investigates the shifting semiotics
of representing museum objects themselves -- from indexical to symbolic,
from atomic to digital -- under the developing logics of the virtual museum,
and the effects such shifts might have on the informational, pedagogic,
and aesthetic experiences of engagement with virtual exhibitions of those
To Be Specific:
Video Art Before
and After Post-Media
Recent scholarship on the
state of the contemporary museum has begun to address a significant transformation
occurring within the institution's spaces: the galleries are rapidly becoming
multimedia sites of display, incorporating the moving image into a wide
variety of exhibitions. My paper offers one of many possible "pre-histories"
for this shift, focusing on the effect of video art installations on viewing
practices and displays within the museum space.
/ Play / Culture: A Model for Designing Play
Eric Zimmerman, NYU and Parsons School of Design
My presentation proposes
a model for understanding the design of play across digital and non-digital
media. Designed play is a multivalent experience which can be framed along
1. RULES: the formal structures,
spaces, and objects of play
2. PLAY: the play experience
that emerges when the rules are inhabited, manipulated, and explored by
3. CULTURE: the ways in
which both rules and play are embedded in and determined by larger cultural
Aided by plenty of
audience participation, I will explore and reframe play in many ways: as
a dynamic system, as emergent complexity, as pleasure, as representational
space, and as a model for ethics. My presentation is part of a larger project
of establishing a critical discourse for interactive design that bridges
theory and practice.
[Abstracts A - I]