The iPad Miracle

The iPad (Courtesy of Lilonet)

A glance at the media landscape may leave those wanting to jump into the industry a little bit overwhelmed. On the outset newspapers seem to be evaporating from the stands, headlines emblazoned with job cuts, foreclosures, buyouts …

A delve into the world of media theory and some of its close cousins prevents you from wanting to run away just yet. An understanding of the ecologies prevelent in the new media landscape, the influence of society upon the way we interact with the news and in return the impact of constant technological developments on society, help to paint a broad picture of the mediascape we now inhabit.

The world no longer focusing on traditional platforms has evolved in favour of the online world and its heightened capacity for sharing. storing, remixing and presenting information.

With an understanding of distant, almost far fectched concepts such as the extention of the mind and perception (mentioned in previous posts) how we interact with this evolving world and the numerous opportunities it presents begin to emerge.

It is with this understanding that the true potential of the iPad can be fully understood. A gateway between the traditional world of print, broadcast and radio media and the exponential opportunities for development in the online realm. The iPad provides an opportunity for traditional media outlets to present their publications in a modern format, allowing each story to navigate the land between video, print and audio. Publications are also able to begin to develop different payment methods.

The enclosed environment of the tangible iPad itself, owned by one individual, and the endless world of knowledge it unleashes through its applications and ability to connect to the world wide web place this instrument in a versatile position. In the future both the iPad itself and news companies may be able to embrace theories of the extended mind bringing information to the user (through an understanding of their interests).

The continuously developing online world and its interaction with our reality is constantly transforming the world we live in. Developing new methods of communication and allowing people the opportunity to express themselves. The iPad is just one device which, is at the forefront of this new media expression.

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Art in the world of technology

The accidental star of the Banksy documentary, Exit through the Gift Shop, Thierry Guetta A.K.A. Mr Brainwash … now a man who has sold a million dollars worth of art with two exhibitions, ‘Life is Beautiful’ and ‘ICONS’ under his belt. Is also a man who can’t paint, draw or even create the graphic designs he sells. But has been labelled an artist. In fact throughout the documentary it is uncertain whether he even understands the meaning of his ‘art’.

The creation of Mr Brainwash forces a reconsideration of art in particular in the brave new world of new media technology. What makes an artist? And what is art?

Traditionally art was framed in neat boxes drawing, painting, sculpture ….

The infamous works of Michel Angelo … The Statue of David, The Sistine Chapel …. Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa .. come to mind.

Statue of David (Courtesy of Reuters)

Today art is slightly more difficult to classify. No longer confined by the boundaries of traditional mediums, art has expanded. Allowing artists to meld the worlds of traditional art with new technology. Social media and the blogosphere have broken down the barriers constructed by the elite art galleries and curation.

A reflection of the changes in today’s society, where news and social interaction are no longer offered on a single platform. Rather individuals are able to communicate via multiple devices and consume and create the world around them in constantly varying and expanding methods. The art world has expanded, embracing these methods of expression and incorporating them into its understanding.

Contemporary methods of communication and the effects it has on our interaction with each other has inspired the new media instillation, Intimate Transactions. Developed by Keith Armstrong, the art work is essentially an experience. Wiring up two individuals in completely separate locations, in fact they may be on opposite ends of the globe, the work allows the participants to create a joint experience.

‘The two participants … will enter a space at each location that is equipped with a touch sensitive physical interface called a Bodyshelf, embedded with sensors that detect body movement and shifting of body weight. Before getting on to the Bodyshelf, each participant puts on a wearable device that passes gentle vibrations into their stomachs, enabling them to sense vibrations of different frequencies and intensities. Each body movement influences an evolving world created from digital imagery and multi-channel sound, allowing the participants’ bodies to become aware of the other’s movements, despite the fact that they are geographically separated and cannot actually see or hear each other (ACMI 2005).’ (Armstrong 2005)

Intimate Transactions (Courtesy of MAAP: Multimedia Art Asia Pacific)

How does this technological development position itself in the world of art?

Reynold Reynolds in the Transmediale production, The Future of Art, mentions virtual reality progressing to the forefront of the art world as it expands, ‘how we understand reality and how we process information’ (2011).

This idea of art, as process, as the method which allows us to deal with and understand our environment provides a perfect link with the modern art movement towards new media. In a world where technology is integrated into our everyday existence how we are able to appreciate, and visualise it is has progressed. Rather than embracing a single medium, artists now utilise several different platforms as modes of expression.


Armstrong, K 2005, Intimate Transactions: The Evolution of an Ecosophical Networked Practice, the Fibreculture Journal 7, <>

Shalom, G 2011, The Future of Art, Transmediale <>

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Your say can make a difference?

Under a traditional government you might seriously question this. Once voted in can you really control the choices of those who rule … probably not. You can write a letter, a blog post .. but, what about if you and several thousand people had the same thought … well .. the government is still there majestically at the top of the mountain.

But, doesn’t your opinion count? And what about the hoard of people behind you?

This is the basis of swarm politics. With the power of the group you can evoke social change.

Developed as a grassroots organisation with no real hierarchy an ideal swarm will work in coalition towards the best interests of the entire group. Nobel Prize winning Elinor Ostrom (2010) notes that although many people presume that others are focused on immediate gratification when examining small communities it is evident that they do consider the community at large.

It is these grassroots organisations, which Thomas Jellis credits as, often behind the major changes, which materialise in politics. ‘The micro-political is the force of the political event that potentially unmoors it’ (2009).

Unfortunately it is very difficult for a perfect swarm to exist; one which reaches its goals without the introduction or intrusion of a hierarchy.

An example of both the benefits and the often unconsidered sinister side of the politics of a swarm manifest in Egypt’s recent revolution. Entering the world stage on the 25th of January 2011, protestors rally in Egypt’s Tahrir Square against the oppression of the Mubarak regime. The protest however, was not the first step in Egypt’s road to revolution. Prior to the initial public gathering the people of Egypt were slowly forming a community online through social networking sites and several prominent blogs. The voiceless Egyptian public were given a mouthpiece.

The creation of Facebook page, ‘We are all Khaled Said’, by then anonymous, Wael Ghonim, provided a platform for many effected by the regime to congregate and discuss. Ultimately leading to the protests in Tahrir Square and subsequent revolution.

The use of social media in the lead up to the revolution although effective, was not always easy. Many sites being blocked by the government. The public was unable to read or publish information online. The ability of the government to control access and output of the regions internet reveal the difficulties in the operation of a swarm under a hierarchical government. As noted by Douglas Rushkoff, ‘the internet as built will always be subject to top-down government control and domination by the biggest corporations. They administrate the indexes and own the conduit. It has choke points – technological, legal and commercial. They can turn it off and shut us out.’

Although an idyllic and often effective political strategy when positioned in context with today’s political environment it is difficult to imagine a swarm untouched by our hierarchical underpinnings. That said, the swarm provides hope, an attainable goal, for like-minded people willing to forgo the difficulties in the name of a social change.



Bauwens, M 2011, Book of the Week: Umair Haque’s New Capitalist Manifesto, P2P Foundation: Researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices, accessed May 1st 2011, <>

Conway, L 2010, ‘Podcast: Elinor Ostrom Checks In’, Planet Money NPR, accessed May 1st 2011, <>

Elinor Ostrom 2010, p2p foundation, accessed May 1st 2011, <>

Jellis, T 2009, Disorientation and micropolitics: a response, spacesof[aesthetic]experimentation, accessed May 1st 2011, <>

Kanalley, C 2011, ‘Egypt Revolution 2011: A complete guide to the unrest’, The Huffington Post, 30 January, accessed May 1st 2011, <;

Massumi, B and McKim, B 2009, Of Microperception and Micropolitics, An Interview with Brian Massumi, 15 August 2008’, Inflexions 3, accessed May 1st 2011,<>

Ostrom, E  2010, ‘A Multi-Scale Approach to Coping with Climate Change and Other Collective Action Problems’, Solutions: for a sustainable and desirable future 1(2), accessed May 1st 2011, <>

Rheingold, H 1994, Virtual Community, accessed May 1st 2011, <>

Rushkoff, D 2011, ‘The Evolution Will Be Socialized’, Shareable: Science and Tech <>

Thacker, E  2004, Networks, Swarms, Multitudes: Part One, Ctheory, accessed May 1st 2011,  <>

Coalition of the Willing 2010, Knife Party and Rayner, T and Robson, S, online video, accessed May 1st 2011, <>


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Social Media, Politics and Egypt’s Revolution …

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The January 2011 Egyptian Revolution, hailed by the media as a social media revolution; the first major incident where social media directly altered the political life of a nation highlights the effects of these online platforms on traditional government structures.

The blogosphere has long been recognised as the world’s most expansive protest ground but, prior to the Egyptian revolution social media’s capacity to translate online communities into reality has been limited to viral YouTube videos featuring flashdance groups in various locations around the globe.

Egypt’s recent revolution has revealed the true capacity of social media when utilised properly and the the potential ramifications of the above. Although, much of the media hype has focused on the most recent social media activities of protesters via Facebook page ‘We are all Khaled Said’, their avid use of social technology began several years ago in 2008 with blogging.  A convenient platform for communication. Blogs allowed their author to remain anonymous and therefore subject to, at least temporary, evasion from the government. The global reach of the media platform allowed the Egyptian public to garner interest and support for thier cause around the world. The potential power social media provides all individuals is noted by Charles Hirschking (2011) in his article ‘From the blogosphere to the street: The role of social media in the Egyptian Uprising’.

One of the first and most prominant Egyptian protest blogs, al-wa’i al-masri (Egyptian Awareness), authored by Wael Abbab posted numerous videos of the abuse occuring behind the scenes in Egypt. Sent to him via mobile phone or from other bloggers one of the graphic videos revealed an Egyptian man in a Cairo police station, sexually and physically abused by the officers (Hirschkind, 2011).

This uncontrolled increase in transparancy, propelled by social media outlets has altered the relationship between the government and the public. In the extreme case of Egypt, social media provided an opportunity for  oppressed citizens to reveal the abuse suffered under a harsh regime and ultimately rise up and over throw their suppressors.

But, the influence of social media in traditional methods of governing, encouraging and often forcing upon them a level of transparency is evident across the globe. The desire of the public to know the inner workings of those who rule has culminated in the United States with suggestions of making available all the actions, affiliations and sponsors of Senators in the United States Government. Such transparency or ‘Naked Transparency’ has not been viewed positively by all. Laurence Lessig (2010) highlights the issues which may arise in knowing too much: A state of confusion, loss of faith in the government, not to mention miss-information.

‘We are not thinking clear enough about where and when transparency works and where and when it may lead to confusion or to worse,’ Lessig (2010) comments in his work ‘Against transparency: The perils of open government’.

Whether for good or bad it is clear that social media has permanently altered the hierarchy between the citizens and governments of the world. Forcing a level of transparency and accountability on those in traditional positions of power. Social media has provided its users with their own newfound authority.



Brewer, J 2011, Introducing the Progressive Strategy Handbook, Truthout, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Ellis, B 2010, Sleepless in Canberra The ABC, Drum Unleashed , accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Hirschkind, C 2011, From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising,  Jadaliyya, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Lessig, L 2010, Against Transparency: The perils of openness in government, accessed April 18th 2011, <,0>

Mason, P 2011, Twenty reasons why it’s kicking off everywhere, Idle Scrawls BBC, accessed April 18th 2011,  <>

Styles, C 2009, A Government 2.0 idea – first, make all the functions visible, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

Usher, N 2011, How Egypt’s uprising is helping redefine the idea of a “media event”, The Nieman Lab, accessed April 18th 2011, <>

UsNow, online video, accessed April 18th 2011, <>



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The Hidden potential for traditional media online

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

The internet … a wondrous world filled with endless bites of knowledge … the black-hole gulping down the news industry.

The running commentary for the past few years has consisted of the desperate cries of newspapers as advertising revenue decreases many newsrooms have shrunk of disappeared completely. But, statistics reveal that this is not because people are not reading the news, rather they have begun to interact with the news. No longer exploring current affairs through print many now do so through online news sources, social media and phone applications.

The internet age is changing our way of thinking and interacting with the media. Eliminating boarders. Audiences are no longer engaging with the neatly framed worlds of print, broadcast and radio. The lines have become blurred and media has converged. Online news now often utilises one or more of these mediums. It streams across platforms: Facebook, Delicious, Tumblr. Allowing audiences to interact, commenting on the issues. And now through blogging and various organisations such as the Huffington Post, produce the news. The popularity of social media as a news source has led to Facebook Chief Technical Officer, Bret Taylor, suggesting Facebook will revolutionise the news as it has done with online gaming. Increasing the social aspect of our news consumption (Stop the presses: Facebook CTO says news next in social revolution 2011).

As in all times of great change there is fear. News organisations struggle to raise the advertising revenue online, needed to produce the content they provide. Attempting to engage with the audience in a similar manner to their print counterpart as seen in the New York Time’s first unsuccessful attempt at a paywall.

Despite the fears of media outlets this is also a time of opportunity for traditional media. Joshua Benton (2011) of the Nieman Journalism Lab notes the changing media ecosystem has the potential to offer an overhaul in how we experience ‘live events’, through the integration of social media and traditional platforms. This allows news outlets to traverse the grounds of traditional news publication whilst simultaneously utilising online platforms, in particular social media.

He also notes the importance of changing the visual face of traditional online news, taking a page out of the world of phone apps whose layout and design seem to attract the attention of readers for longer (Benton 2011).

Reputable media sources may also have the potential to become more akin to an aggregator providing content as well as advertising and linking to popular and credible news stories on other sites (Benton 2011).

The internet not only provides opportunities for established media outlets. As Jeremy Adam Smith (2011) explores in his article ‘How we are financing meaningful journalism’, many freelance journalists view this time optimistically. Opening up many more ways for them to find exposure to a public, creating and publishing content. Many major freelance projects, Smith (2011) notes, are funded through grants and donations.

‘The results also add to the growing pile of evidence that journalism is becoming a form of social entrepreneurship – an endeavour that combines commercial and nonprofit methods to achieve social change’ (Smith 2011).

Small, localised, online news organisations are also able to garner a public following and through donations provide credible journalism for those who deem it an essential facet of modern society. New Matilda provides an Australian example of a publicly funded credible news source.

There are valid concerns regarding the shift of news output from traditional news platforms to online. Namely the ability  to fund the production of well researched and accurate stories. Despite, these concerns the online world provides endless opportunities for news outlets to expand their news production covering numerous angles and traversing several different media platforms; i.e. using video and print in one article. The internet also allows for the nurturing of smaller specialised news sources and provides the public with numerous portholes to access their information.


Benton, J 2011, Eight trends for Journalism in 2011: A Nieman Lab talk in Toronto, Nieman Journalism Lab, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Rosenstiel, T 2011, ‘5 myths about the future of journalism’, The Washington Post, 7 April, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Sabbagh, D 2011, ‘Ariana Huffington and Tim Armstrong: King and Queen of content’, The Guardian (UK), 24 March, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Smith, J. A. 2011, How we’re financing meaningful journalism, Knight Garage: Re-engineering journalism @ Stanford, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Stop the presses: Facebook CTO says news next in social revolution 2011, BBC News, accessed April 10th 2011, <;

Timmer, J 2011, Accurate and credible new tweets? Automated system finds them, arstechnica, accessed April 10th 2011, 

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The Real World?

March 30, 2011 Leave a comment

In a world infiltrated by advertising, ‘reality’ TV and expontential advances to virtual technology … where exactly is ‘the real’ world?

Virtual reality has often remained a fantasy. The product of novels and Hollywood movies. Where robots take over the world and artificial intelligence surpasses human capacity. Where people fall into the world of computer games, desperate to escape. One recent example is Hollywood’s remake of the 1982 movie, TRON.

But, virtual reality is no longer just a thing of the imagination. Rather it is a rapidly developing technological field. Tapped into by big businesses the technology has been utilised to help boost internet sales, allowing consumers to virtually place products in their rooms or virtually explore products online before choosing to purchase. These developments have been further explored in Chris Grayson’s blog ‘Augmented Reality Overview’.

One unique example of business exploiting virtual technology is a new tourism ploy in Rome allowing tourists to virtually transport themselves into the history of the eternal city.

Big business is not the only area where virtual technology has proven useful. It is also slowly finding its place in the world of medicine. Studies in the United States are examining the effects of virtual technology on severe burns patients in the military.

But, there are fears of a dark side to virtual technology particularly in the world of gaming. Wikipedia notes that there have been several games and movies which reveal ‘the potentially dangerous side of virtual reality, demonstrating the adverse effects on human health and possible viruses, including a comatose state which some players assume’ (Wikipedia, ‘Virtual Reality’).

It is this fear of loosing our reality to a virtual universe that leads us to questioning – what exactly is reality, what is the virtual and where does the real world fit in all of this?

If we examine the world and everything which operates or inhabits it for example media, society, politics, your family, church, school, the environment as different ecologies all operating amongst each other in constant different feedback loops. Each one unable to exist without the other and each one having an effect on the others development. Then it becomes possible to understand the concept of the virtual. The virtual being the ecologies of potential which surround every situation. It is therefore all the potential outcomes of any interaction within a given context. As Murphie explains, ‘the virtual, as the complex structure immanent to any interaction'(Murphie 2004, p 121).

This leads us to a deeper understanding of the virtual. We are able to acknowledge that the world of Facebook chat is another facet of the virtual which directly interacts with our reality. Possibly an example of Massumi and Delanda’s virtual which possess its own reality (Murphie 2004, p 121). The world of Facebook through photos and comments creates its own version of reality, sometimes very different from the life led away from cyberspace.

So with an understanding of the virtual then what is ‘the real’. Actualised potential? Well the real is slightly more difficult to define. In fact Immanual Kant believes that it is actually impossible to experience ‘the real’ rather we all experience a ‘reality’. Reality being our experience with the world around us and our interpretation of it.

Through this information I argue that the virtual does exist and we live floating between it and our own reality. The real although essentially there is never truly experienced by us. As Murphie notes, we all come with our own virtual, our own potential, created by our past, memory and all our possible interactions in a given circumstance (Murphie, n.d.). Our perspective of every situation we encounter creates our own reality. Each person experiences their own form of the same event and therefore we are unable to fully comprehend ‘the real’.






Wikipedia 2011, Virtual Reality, <>

Grayson, Chris 2009, ‘Augmented Reality Overview’, GigantiCo <>

Murphie, A 2004, ‘The World’s Clock: The Network Society and Experimental ecologies’, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, 11, Spring (you can also download it here – <>

Murphie, A (n.d.), Is the Virtual Real?, <;


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“I think therefore I am” Or am I?

March 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Is our understanding of the world around us entirely the product of our thoughts? Is our memory strictly locked away and bound within our mind? Descarte’s famous quote seems to suggest just that. It is our capacity to think which forms our reality.

But, this age old saying is facing some opposition in contemporary theory and philosophy. Two key theorists in the extension of the mind are Alva Noë and Bernard Stiegler. Each argue that the human body is completely embedded within the environment. As Noë explains in ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, ‘we are embodied and also bound to and embedded in the world around us'(Noë 2010). Therefore it is the combination of the mind, the physical body and our environment which allows us to build memories and perceive the world.

This can be seen in Doug Liman’s 2002 movie, ‘The Bourne Identity’, where Jason Bourne a government trained assassin suffers amnesia. Throughout the movie Bourne slowly rediscovers his idenitity as certain places and people ‘trigger’ his memory. It is this notion of physical objects being able to ‘trigger’ our memory which has led Stiegler to suggest that our memory has always been essentially ‘technical’ (Stiegler, n.d.) or partly externalised. Stiegler believes that there are two different types of memory Anamnesis or ‘natural’ memory and Hypomnesis an ‘extended’ memory; one that requires external ‘triggers’ in order to be recalled.

As technology has evolved more and more of our memory has become externalised with the development of devices, which have the capacity to store memory, such as a mobile phone (capable of storing phone numbers, important dates, text messages). These technologies are known as ‘mnemotechnologies’.

The notion of an external memory and the development of mnemotechnologies help to comprehend Noë’s  theory that our perception and feelings surrounding our environment and interaction with it are not just created within our mind. Rather they are inextricbly linked to our physical experience of our environment. As Noë states experiences are “something we achieve, something we do actively”. More technically put perception is created through ‘neural correlates’ (Noë 2010) that is ‘the activation of systems in the brain and nervous system'(Noë 2010). Therefore it is both the combination of the mind and the body, which forms our understanding of our environment.

It is also important to note that our perception is effected by our memory of previous events we have encountered just as our memory is effected by our perception of our experiences (Murphie, n.d.).

There is no denying the importance of the mind in our ability to comprehend our surroundings but, the mind would be unable to hear without our ears and we would be unable to walk without our legs. In order to experience the world around us fully and develop both our own perceptions and memories the mind is extended into our physical bodies and beyond. So maybe ‘I interact therefore I am’.





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Noë, A (2010) ‘Does thinking happen in the brain?’, 13:7 Cosmos and Culture<>

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Stiegler, B (n.d.), ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’ <>

Wikipedia 2011, The Extended Mind, <>


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