Archive for the ‘week 4’ Category

Week 4 Lifestream Commentary

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

This week has been a very busy one! My lifestream has been very much in use commenting on the visual artifacts through my colleagues blogs. I had some issues when posting comments on Flickr and youtube because these didn’t show in my lifestream. Once I noticed I added these comments to their blogs as well so they did appear. The artifacts have been great – some incredibly imaginative and creative people on this course. I was pleased that I went text free on my artifact, but some chose to use text to great supporting affect.

On the rest of my lifestream, I have had a couple of great RSS feeds coming through this week including a podcast of a radio show on the World service called digital planet which included an interview about studying the Internet (web science) – which will probably be quite useful in the next block. This programme also discussed the case of a law firm slapping an injunction on a newspaper to stop the publication of a question asked in Parliament. This injunction was useless when the question was blogged and twittered around the world – this demonstrates the democratization of Internet media as discussed by Hand in the core reading in week 1, but it could be a dangerous thing in the ‘wrong’ hands.

So could Lifelogging; a concept that I discovered yesterday where you video your whole life with a camera hung around your neck. I don’t know about democratizing, it may simply bore us to death!

(Update – 07/12/09 – the links to Digital Planet have all been removed as the website now appears to be unavailable)

comments on my visual artifact and the end of week 4

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

What an interesting week this has been! I was surprised at the quality and range of the artifacts produced,  with people using Prezi, Flickr, Youtube and blogs. I have made my comments on their blogs and so will not repeat myself here – but well done guys. I have really had a good old think about all your ideas.

And now to my artifact!

The Experiment

I purposely didn’t name my artifact or supply any form of narration because I wanted to take this opportunity to see if Kress was right!

“because words rely on convention and conventional acceptance, words are always general and therefore vague” Kress (pg15)


“that which I wish to depict I can depict … Unlike words, depictions are full of meaning; they are always specific” Kress (pg15)

So I added no words, just made a list of what I wanted to say with an idea of how to represent them and away I went.


The title of the piece was Dystopia & Utopia and was correctly identified by everyone who commented (so a good start).

The two monitors are intended to show the two sides of the Internet – utopia and dystopia. The social networking and communication elements on the left hand monitor broadly represent the connectedness that can be achieved and all of the positives that it could bring us. The images on the right hand monitor (which are not always easy to see) are the negatives that may sneak up on us at the same time (described by Jen in her comment as ’surface’ and ‘reality’). These two sides as discussed in Bell and Hand really opened my eyes to the negative by products of my tech addiction that I had not previously considered. For example, I am a rather keen WOWer and though I have never bought ‘in-game gold’, I know that it happens. This gold is created by companies in China employing low paid staff to perform repetitive actions in the game  to earn in-game gold which is then sold on in the real world for real money. 1000 Gold could take me hours to achieve – but can be bought from ‘gold miners’ for as little as 5 euros per 1000. So you can imagine how much they pay these workers!

“I’m thinking: this image represents utopian and dystopian discourses around technology. Mobile, empowering, social etc. on the left and negative (dystopian sci-fi and the cheap labour of third-world and developing countries that supply cheap digital consumer goodies to the developed world) on the right” Tony McNeill

The energy between the human and the machine:

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The Matrix.

I am glad that some of you got the red pill/blue pill analogy there with the energy coming from my fingers because I was afraid I may have made it a little obscure.

Andy made the connection that the girl (yes me) is physically connected to the technology and that the two sides of the technology are also connected by me – this second point was one that I had not considered when creating the piece but it actually fits in perfectly – thanks Andy! Taking this further I guess that acting as a conduit for the technology creates the negative as a byproduct. If no one was looking then no one would be suffering!

Sian “she’s re-positioning and re-aligning the multiple elements on the screens in an attempt to make sense of her digital existence” This was a reference to the UI in Minority report where Tom Cruise manipulates information with his hands to create connections. I am connecting with people, through the social elements on the left screen, with corruption on the right with my own moral responsibility and connections with the future because as an ‘interactor’ I am also a creator of the future.

My pose is intended to demonstrate that I am struggling to maintain order and possibly keep balance with all of the elements. It is also the case that I am shifting my gaze towards the positive and shifting myself away from the negative elements on the right  and though this is hard to tell from the picture, my weight is placed on my right foot and i am leaning more to the left while still maintaining balance. It could also be said that while I am morally drawn to the left monitor – the etopia, the power of the right or dystopia is signifacant to prevent me pulling away from it. I am afraid that this is not as clear as I would have like it to be when the photos were taken. I tried to modify my stance by making ‘ggrrrrr’ noises so it would have seemed very strange if you had stummbled into my room at that point!.

“Your body pose could be (a) pushing digital culture away or (b) your diving into it. Either way, you are physically connected to technology. The two screens appear to separate reality and fantasy – but both screens are connected via you.” Andy Murray

The point I was trying to make is that I should accept some responsibility for both sides of the technology simply by the act of interfacing with it.

Silvanad asked if I could find ‘a third way’? I think that this probably brings us on to the next block and thoughts of what it means to be human moving forward.


In this experiement, Kress may have had a point! All of the elements that I tried to communicate through a static image with no narrative at all seems to been picked up – though this may be because it has been critiqued by likeminded folk rather than those unschooled in this language. What has been a surprise is that some of the comments saw connections that I had not even intended and asked me some unexpected quetions:

“Does this mean you get a positive vibe out of the Social Web but hate contemporary TV?” Billb

As a result these responses have led me to think further about the image and the message itself.

Comment on Andy’s artifact copied from Youtube

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Andy – Commute to Digital culture

I really liked the positive message in this video with the idea that this journey can go absolutely anywhere you want it to. I also like the idea that ‘now I’m here’ referred to your digital self living the online life rather than the old OU attending you 25 years ago.
Good work!

Welcome to my visual artifact

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Whilst I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, I am yet to be convinced by Kress’s arguement that text is vague and image is direct and meaningful. Therefore I am not going to tell you anything about my visual artifact, and I am curious to see how easy it is to interpret. If you all get it spot on then either Kress is correct – or I have simply created a very expressive piece of Photoshop art!Visual Artifact