culturshock

sizing up media, technology, and society

Remediation as Control

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I’ve done some thinking recently about the possibilities of the practice of remediation being at some levels a practice in control, whether social, informational, or legal. This ties with the all-important question that we raised earlier in the semester (and that we should discuss in the Media Charter) of asking “who has the right to remediate”?

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Written by jon.

March 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Net Neutrality: The Crash Course

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Today I wanted to join Dave on the soapbox and voice my extreme concern over the issue of net neutrality. He has written a fantastic post on his blog laying out some of the key threads of the debate. I want to endorse what he’s said and also provide some of the examples that I’ve stumbled upon in my own research in hopes of spreading awareness of not only the players involved and the current state of the debate, but also shed some light on precisely what is at stake.

A bit of a disclaimer before we jump in: Most of the information surrounding the issue comes from American sources and deal specifically with the American political and corporate infrastructure. Despite this, and independent from the systems responsible for the outcome of the debate, the philsophy behind network neutrality is a position already starting to be eroded by Canadian corporate interests. So, whatever you watch, whatever you read, I hope you realize that the war on the internet is already in full swing on Canadian soil, so be wary.

The Crash Course:

Keep reading!

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Written by jon.

March 5, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Design Constraints -> A Piece of My Puzzle

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hey readers

First off, let me apologize for my extended absences. It happens to be that time of the semester where the total hours needed to complete assignments and readings seems to exceed the amount of actual hours available to complete them!

Anyway, some of you may have noticed the schitzophrenic changes that culturshock has been going through lately. Themes of all varieties, colours, content layout, the works! I’ve stumbled upon the logic behind this madness, and it pertains directly to my own media practices.

WordPress.com is a fantastic, free service with tons of options to choose from, and some pay-for upgrades available to enhance the blogs that would rather not go elsewhere. While they offer some incredible services, I’ve recently started bumping into its limitations, specifically with regards to the delivery of the content on my blog, in the way that I want it delivered! Here’s the scoop: I love the ability to have my RSS feeds of my Digg and YouTube activity link directly into the sidebar, so you can see what I’ve been up to and check out any stories that you may have been interested in. There are, however, a select few themes to choose from in WordPress that support RSS feeds in the sidebar. They are also themes that, by and large, don’t coincide with my purpose or content/design philosphy as well as I like. So call me fussy.

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Written by jon.

March 5, 2008 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Self-reflexive, Updates

Tagged with ,

Daylight Conquered by Darkness: Should we distrust the machine?

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In one of my all time favourite Onion pieces, the satirical news site reported in February 2006 that the rotation of the earth plunged North America into Darkness.

I find that this story does a fantastic job of sensationalizing that which was previously thought to be un-sensationalizable. The narrative of the subject matter really calls out the dramatizing rhetoric employed by traditional media to describe events of similar magnitude. They even go as far to address location bias of North American news, declaring the continent “officially dark” at 5:46pm PST while failing to recognize that other continents live in darkness as we enjoy the light.

This article works in nicely with our class discussions regarding the feasibility, effectiveness, and popularity of fake news. The opportunities afforded by fake news and clearly demonstrated in the Onion piece include the adoption of journalistic and media practices for the examination of bizarre or mundane content, and forms of mimicry so effective that they actually call into question the legitimacy of the form and/or content that they mock. To be sure, the internet is filled with examples and accounts of what happens when satire and fake news are taken at face value or as the real deal. Interestingly enough, there have been some instances where Onion articles pop up in automated news sites, such as Google News, adding yet another layer of hilarity and greatly expanding their potential audience.

Now all of this could be saying something very interesting about the state of news media circulation. Skeptics remain, well, skeptical regarding the viability of machine or algorithm-filtered news, and they argue that such sources could never properly address the needs and concerns of audiences. They often make reference to the fact that machine sources return arbitrary results based on keyword weightings, frequency, and other criteria. This belittling of a new form of information circulation (which granted, is not perfect) overlooks the fact that even news conduits regulated by people or groups of people make decisions as to what makes “relevant news” based on, you guessed it, arbitrary criteria. Sure, there are the seven or nine or eleven criteria of journalism that are used in the decision making process, claiming to have the best interests of the audience (citizens) in mind, but all too often we find the criteria being skewed by other interests, including the taste for entertainment and the sensational, or the political and economic inclinations of a “neutral, objective, and unbiased” news organization.

I think what mix-ups like the Onion being taken as truth and neglecting the “how” of the decisions made in the circulation of information actually illuminate is our typical lack of a critical response or reflex to the content we receive via the media. We should share our hesitance of machine filtered results with the top stories that are fed to us at 6pm each night. That, or we should start to recognize the alternate devices and sources available to us in order to fully substantiate our understanding of an issue. This is an essential variable to the success of democratic pushes in the politics of media and information circulation.

jon.

Written by jon.

February 20, 2008 at 7:17 pm

Disillusionment

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I’ve been putting off writing because I’ve been angry. At first (say, when Ian asked us if we were angry), I greeted the revealing of “real fake” news with a sense of expectancy, with the typical and generalized cynicism of our skeptical tendencies of thought. I was in a state of awareness and recognition, but something was different: this realization was dulled by that idle expectancy that I (ironically) fully expected.

This dull idleness stayed with me, and largely prevented my consideration of any other blog ideas, even other coursework. Thinking about idleness kept me idle: a strange sensation indeed. During this past week, I have picked up Hartley’s reference book (the optional course text) time and time again, developing the vocabulary that I felt I would need to properly address my changing perspective.

What happened is that I got angry. After the jump, I will share my account of disillusionment.

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Written by jon.

February 18, 2008 at 3:20 am

Posted in Class discussions

Tagged with , , ,

From Print to the Web and Back Again

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hey y’all

Just giving you the heads-up about a site has recently caught my interest for its efforts in the remediating process. A feature on the site Newseum grabs the front page of world newspapers and locates them on an interactive map (or gallery, or list). It’s an interesting and engaging way of bringing localized news and print publications into the fold of “have-it-now” internet media. However, the site only collects the first page as an image and offers access to the content of the paper via the paper’s own website (instead of images of the pages themselves), which might be writing on the wall for the future of print media.  Be sure to check out the cool map function here

The editors of Lifehacker, on the other hand, feel that they should go in the other direction. In order to earn what the mainstream media considers “real world merit”, they have assembled some of the blog’s best tips into a book format in hopes of penetrating more print-oriented consumer markets. I snickered at the book’s 480 page length, as the monthly content of Lifehacker posts (including linked pages) easily tops this. It really makes print seem as slow as molasses when it comes to keeping up with the latest information (an experiment I’m concocting). Being a How-To book, I suppose its value is merited as a guide that you could pick up periodically, but for the true Lifehacker experience, I’d stick to the blog.

How are the Wars of Remediation treating your favourite sources these days?

jon.

Written by jon.

February 6, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Reading Responses

Tagged with ,

Spaces, Culture, and Watching

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hey all,

I keep coming back to ideas of space and remediation, and they don’t go away. I found a rather funny take on Google Map’s Street View feature, which pushes their goal of world mapping to a new level: that of 360 degree van-level views of all intersections of major cities. Google’s omnipresence takes on an otherworldly quality, which ironically might not be far from the cybernetic truth.

At what point does the remediation of space and its subsequent rerelease to a curious public become too much? The intiative to render all street corners into images follows the siren call of our “underwatch” culture: YouTube invites us to watch others through video; Facebook through information, communication, and image timelines; and TV shows like Big Brother are premised on their subjects being watched constantly.

Shocking video after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jon.

February 4, 2008 at 6:05 pm