week 4 “Global Mnemotechnics”—Globalising Memory, Thinking and Action

This week, we looked at memory & mnemotechnics. ‘The extended mind’ reading by David Chalmers, argues that cognitive processes aren’t all in the head. Today, we’ve got so much technology that exists that enhances our ability to ‘remember’. So much so, that you can say technology pretty much dictates the way we live our day to day lives. What would we be without our iphones? that has our to-do lists? or our contact numbers? without access to the internet?

To help myself understand this issue better – this week I wrote down everything I did, as a way of showing that memory is technologically-driven. So I’ve discovered my mnemotechnologies consist of my iphone, laptop, desktop computer, diaryplanner and ipod. They all act as a giant USB for me, its like having an ‘extended mind’ as you will – and  providing me with extra storage for my memory. As human beings, we are limited to how big our capacity is to store memories in. These technologies enable us to store & free our memory for further information. My phone reminds me of errands i need to run eg ‘buy work shoes’ – my alarm wakes me up every day – & my diary planner lets me know that I have to do 3 blogs by the end of this uni week! I actually left my phone at home this week, and I had uni AND work that day. It was a complete struggle to get through the day, not only did I forget what lecture I had on because I didnt have my phone to look at my timetable – I went to work at the wrong time because I forgot exactly when I started.. it was a bit chaotic and I never felt so disorganised being without my ‘memory aids’. Considering that we live in such chaotic environments these days, ‘mnemotechnologies’ are necessary and I believe, help us SURVIVE in this crazy media world.

While these technologies enable us to lead easier lives by means of organisation – the Brain Blogger article explores the concept of brain washing. It is true I guess, that we are swept up into a media world by means of what we choose to look at or surround ourselves  in on a daily basis.The media is collectively showing us what we need to think about that day, the newspapers show us what is most newsworthy on any given day and social networking sites and other forums like radio and magazine is constantly telling us what we should be thinking about. Is it serious enough to to label it as ‘brain washing?’ Perhaps, but to an extent – it is quite accurate. We are growing up in a generation of ever-advancing technology and we come to rely on the media excessively – for information and news, for a sense of purpose in our days. There is no hiding from it – we live in a technologically driven, media environment and we have already adapted to it through our excessive use of technologies.

Pamoukaghlian, Veronica (2011) ‘Mind Games: Science’s Attempts at Thought Control’, Brainblogger.com, December 28 <http://brainblogger.com/2011/12/28/mind-games-sciences-attempts-at-thought-control/>

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Mind>

Chalmers, David (2009) ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S149IVHhmc>

 

Week 3 – Ecologies

This week, we looked further into understanding the concept of ‘media ecologies.’ Neil Postman explains it simply as ‘how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; and how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people.’

Basically, what I’ve learnt this weeks lecture and the readings suggest that society today is governed by our media environments. My reflection from this week is an easy one, my life is completely governed by the media because i constantly live in media environments.

‘The New Media Ecology’ by Milissa Deitz questions the value of today’s contemporary media. This is because we now have almost limitless resources available to us and also, easily accessible. To help myself understand this, I looked around this week, and observed and pinpointed my own media ecologies and how they differed from place to place. In the comforts of my own home, my media ecologies are THRIVING. Surrounded by limitless internet, television, my iphone, ipod, radio, books, magazines..
But then suddenly, I’ll be in my car, and my media ecologies/environment shifts – there is no 24/7 access to the internet anymore, & if you’re with shitty vodafone like I am, then you’re pretty much doomed. So there are times, when i feel the sense of being cut off from the social world, when i am stuck in traffic with no reception. and therefore my interaction with media suddenly diminishes as opposed to the home where it ‘facilitates my survival’ (postman) – it gives me structure and a sense of control in knowing i can access anything at my will.

Something I found very accurate is the way Deitz describes this ‘new media egology’ – as open and unstable. My own interpretation of this is that this comes from the instability of the multiple media technologies and platforms that exist. A contemporary example that I can think of, is how fast one phenomenon can being and how rapid it can decline. Social networking sites for example – sites such as myspace and bebo garnered up much popularity, but as fast as one begins, it only takes something else to bring it down. Facebook, pretty much caused the demise of existing social networking sites, and new sites such as tumblr and twitter had to re-invent and adapt to new ideas to co-exist. It also made me think of how people use to rely on traditional media, such as newspapers to make sense of their media environment. However, traditional media gave way to new media. It is ‘open’ due to the fact, that anyone with access to the internet can distribute information into the public and which is causing the blur of boundaries of who can be defined as a ‘journalist’ or what can be classified as ‘news.’
As our environments change, society will continue to change alongside it. The social impact of the internet enabled what most of our lives now consist of every day – communication on multiple platforms through new forms of social interaction, activities and organization which our days revolve around. Today’s media – however, has proliferated the magnitude in which we communicate, accelerating beyond lines of basic communications and information on whole new levels. One limitation though, are developing countries who dont live in media ecologies or barely come into contact with it.

Word: ‘Embodies’

‘Media Ecology’, Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_ecology>
Media Ecology Association ‘What is Media Ecology’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>
Deitz, Milissa (2010) ‘The New Media Ecology’, On Line Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11410&page=1>

Final research project note – understanding media ecologies has been interesting, a paper on how different places created different media environments could be a sound idea.

Week 2 – Social/Cultural change

This week we looked at media in terms of social and cultural change. This included technological determinism acting as an agent of social change, the cultural materialism that eventuates from this into society and the flow of media into multiple forms.

One important thing Andrew wanted us to take on board was that, “Media disturbs culture by bringing all cultures together at high speed. Powerful forces of media and technogly and culture all coming together in complex ways.”

Facebook for example demonstrates how social networking provides a platform for the world to put an extensive number of ideas and thoughts into society through pictures, links and blogs. I link this back to technological determinism as an agent of social change, it is provided by the numerous media platforms that exist today. The best example I can give this week, is KONY2012.

Political thoughts aside, this video is an example of how powerful the media is. Overnight, this video became a worldwide sensation, going viral on the internet, youtube, facebook, twitter, tumblr – every social media platform that exists. Over night, the youths of the world entered a new found culture where they were suddenly worldly politicallly-minded thinkers that were now in the campaign against Joseph Kony. That links back to the flow of media and just how rapid and almost instantaneous it can be.

The ‘machinic’ ecology focuses on how assemblages create and produces different flows – and how differently it occurs. It was interesting to see how the Kony phenomenon produced extremely diverse and radical responses to the video. Suddenly every person in the had thoughts and opinions on it, and the blogs started.. video responses on youtube were published by the minute, celebrities were involved, journalists wrote columns and social networking exploded with thousands adding their own context and spin on the topic. Seemingly, the more I read, the more I could see that the contexts changed as they moved so rapidly through space and time. In under 24 hours, what seemed like unwavering support from millions turned into speculation and controversy resulting in political backlash from the ‘supporters’ and the people of Uganda.

This machinic system of production demonstrated how more and more change occurred because so many media forms were colliding, each with their own different context which would then produce another batch of technologies each with their own context.. which in the end, results in, ‘a kind of massive complex flow.’

What I took from this is that, the machinic ecology impacts directly on the cultural and social flow of the media, that are ‘formed’ and ‘unformed’ depending on which way it is pulled or directed. It was an assemblage of different ideas and perspectives that resulted in a constantly shifting assemblage. Everything connects and in a matter of hours, a new culture was born – in a week, the video had over 75 million views.

In relation to the readings, I found the article on Friedrich Kittler very accurate in depicting how society has ‘adapted to the machine.’ Kittler argued that technology changed the nature of war: “It has become clear that real wars are fought not for people or fatherlands, but take place between different media, information technologies, data flows.” In old times, Jeffries says old wars were fought across distance with technology today destroying this.

I thought this point related to the issue that has recently arisen about the massacre in Afghanistan by American soldiers.  Afghanistan Massacre

As Andrew mentioned in the lecture, speed is becoming  a powerful source in technology. News on the massacre became wide-spread, circulating on news sites, newspapers and all over the internet – and the shores of the respective countries. Not long after, the Taliban militants vowed to avenge the deaths. Kittler points out that the cult of technology and speed will be the death of us all. Technology seems to intensify any sort of political situation when all sorts of new information and opinions are then released creating political controversy that begins to circulate into an endless flow.

Michel Bauwens on ‘The Internet as Playground and Factory’ says technology allows people from all over the world to come together to coordinate with each other over common value production – people are sharing knowledge. For an upcoming conference he asks what does it mean when people are freely contributing their labour but somebody else is making a profit from it – should we condemn it or accompany it? Again, I thought it related to the Kony debate, the ‘victims’ of Uganda and the volunteers of the project are freely volunteering their thoughts and time, while the filmmaker Jason Russell and his team are profiting from the success of the video.

[So one thought/idea taken from this week for the final project, task 3 – is the magnitude of cultural change that stems from social change.. which stems from the constant media and rapidly-innovated technology. Obviously I will need something alot more specific, and i’ll try to pinpoint that in the coming weeks.]

Word: Ecologies

Jeffries, Stuart (2011) ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the machine’, The Guardian, December 28, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/28/friedrich-kittler-rise-of-the-machine>
Bauwens, Michel (2009) ‘The Internet as Playground and Factory’ <http://vimeo.com/7919113>