Friday, July 29, 2005

Hi, listen, this is my post to try and gain responses to help me put together what the fundamental issue is, that we are looking at. I guess that I have a lot of questions when it comes to techno cultre and new media, and this is not helped by the fact that I dont know a lot about the refined technological aspects of the medium. But, for me, what seems to be a major issue is distance versus human contact, organic form versus a less real form of creation and meaning. I know that someone could argue that any creation is an organic creation, and that this includes the way that technology has come from the base origins of technology and human creation and moved ever foward in evolution becoming what it is today - but I just seem to sense that there is a growing distance in the way that people communicate and create through the new mediums available. I guess that this course has moved sevral (if not a few hundred) steps ahead of me in terms of content and the kinds of issues that are being dealt with, as it seems indicated by the blogging, that it is all about the way that we can access new media and how it works and what it does and what kind of advantages it has etc etc. But for me the question still remains of what it actually means in terms of the way that is is effecting the way we communicate and do many many other things - but I have to go and so will someone offer some comment? Feel free to be brutal. che


At 11:58 AM, Blogger Chris said...

A pure anecdotle occurance of this happens with me, I live in a flat/apartment with 7 other people, often I find myself talking on MSN to them, between rooms. It seems that although the technology can bring us together, it's pushing us apart in equally as many ways. If anyone remembers those Xtra ads involving kids, the girl who "has trouble making conversation at school...." .... "but chats to millions of people every night" this might be the best example of this in the media.

I dont think it entirely seperates us from reality though, if anyone knows of the trumpet player from a little known band called Stitchface who was assaulted by the guitarist from The Bleeders for what he said on an internet message board about his band, or the case of a Chinese teenager who murdered another guy for selling a sword which only existing inside the the realms of an online MMORPG computer game. Reality is still there, just.

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Two great posts - yours and Claire's below. Both about the strange, often paradoxical new configurations of connectivity and distance that accompany digitisation. Mags - I think you're dead right to say that, ultimately, it's all about human communication. But I hope that if I can convince you of one thing by the end of this course, it's that there's nothing inherently "less real" about technologically mediated communication. Doesn't the example at the end of Claire's post hint at that?

At 10:36 AM, Blogger mags said...

true true, claires post does show how technology can bring immediacy to experiences and make them real for people across the other side of the world. I do see that massive benefits of new technology, and I use it so much myself in a way that has become naturalized as a part of how I live my life and communicate with those around me, so I would be a fool to say that it only brings separation, as clearly that is just not true. But chris, although it does not entirely separate us - do you think that things such as a murder still would have occured had the world of technology through which the chinese teenager communicated with the sword seller, been replaced by a meeting of gaming geeks in real life? I know that on line gaming means that obviously there is no point in meeting up in real life etc etc as the net provides an instant forum, but do you think that communication through technology like this can result in gross miscommunications? Which can lead to murder!!! wow - its quite an incredible story really. and I guess that you could argue that with the evolution of anything new in which large amounts of people will take part and interact in any kinds of ways they want - that you are always going to get people who are unbalanced and do irrational things.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

This is a great thread.

As Luke has pointed out, I think that the issue of how technology mediates communication is a fascinating one. The examples that have been brought up here of using MSN to talk to people you live with is strangely common in a variety of forms.

Then again, it's worth considering that any form of communication is mediated and as such is going to have an element of noise. Two people discussing the same thing will have a different background to approach the idea with, and so are going to have different angles of approach. If anyone in this discussion so far was involved in FTVMS 100 last semester, this form of noise was something we discussed in some detail.

Mags, from my perspective, the part of the Sword Murder story which is really interesting isn't so much the idea that technologically mediated conversation lead to a murderous conclusion. I'm more intrigued at how and why people would become so immersed and invested within an online world that threats to that investment could justify homicide.

Humans are strange wee beings. My argument would be that the technology wasn't relevant to the level of immersion, in that if you replaced the MMPORG sword with say, collectors comic books or baseball cards, you'd still wind up with a murder. I get interested in how and why people become so invested in those details, technologically mediated or not.

What do you think?

At 9:40 AM, Blogger mags said...

I think I would have to agree with you. I do agree that human beings are extremely complex creatures who invest beliefs and hold immense passion for a range of things that you or I might consider worthless or odd (and of course our own loves and passions could be considered by others in the same respect). I also agree that any form of communication is not without a world of noise which clouds any possibility of true 100% clarity of meaning. I still hold onto the notion however, that communication can only become more and more complex as people add more and more in between one another in ways through which communication is mediated. Think about how wrong someone can get an idea that you voice, they are sitting right next to you, and as you said, the difference in the way that the two of you approach the basis of the idea allows for cultural, gender defined, beliefe infused noise which shapes the outcome of the understanding. The way I see the web/net/new technology is sort of in two different ways. One, is seeing this massive image of a block, riddled with mazes and these maze like pathways filled with little lights and triggers and sound waves. On the outside of the block sit people, who shoot messages down through the pathways of the maze - the messages hit the triggers, get transformed in shape by the sound waves, and reach someone else on the other side of the block as a completely changed thing. !!!! abstract I know !!! - but thats one way I think of it. The other is similar - but focuses more on my respect for the way humans want to learn. We create systems through which communication undoubtedly takes on a different shape, and poses us with massive challenges - and its self imposed!! I think thats pretty amazing. This has been a bit of a rant.

At 10:57 AM, Blogger mags said...

Im aware that my visualization of the way the net works is simplictic and slightly infantile....but it just gets across my idea of how communication changes shape. you think it works like that?

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

That's a really interesting visualisation of the net, I have to say. Quite evocative.

My question about technology being a potential barrier to meaning involves non-technological processes too.

I'll rephrase: People have been creating an 'etiquette' for understanding nuance online since its inception, involving emoticons and key phrases and the like to provide a background context to a statement. However, the net has been in use for quite a short space of time overall, leaving it open for this form of miscommunication.

Is it possible that, when the net has been around for as long as say, letter-writing, that people will view it as equally intuitive? What about phones, where you lose out on facial expression?

There must have been points where people had similar problems with phones as they do with the net now, and it's the process of 'constructing the intuitive' which is fascinating to me. What do you think?

At 6:46 PM, Blogger mags said...

but do you think that its just a matter of allowing a certain technology a period of time, and that this time results in an intuitive use of the technology? Like, when you think about the first phone ever made, and then you think about the latest model of mobile - an element of the way we use the newer phone is certainly intuitive and comes from the fact we have learnt from the old, as in dial a number and talk - but the newer one is so much more than that. While allowing for more variation in the ways we communicate - such as pxt and txt - it also throws us many non intuitive barriers which people have to learn and adapt to. I dunno ay.....I mean, I think if a certain form of communication/technology stayed static, and never changed, that we would form an intuitive way of using it. What I feel people do intuitivly is simply the art of communication - its starting to become clear that it is somthing we are obsessed with!! And that in the search for greater ability to communicate - we create ways of doing so that offer problems as well. And I have just realised that I am completely contradicting my initial post so I shall go.


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