Visualisation

Information governs the new economy. It keeps us socially connected with our peers, influencing how we interact with our everyday life and the information culture we share with others, allowing us to be mentally and socially active constructive to our personal identity. But how does the way we perceive information govern our identity?

In particular, my group and I decided to measure the amount of gold medals Australian athletes had received relative to the amount of athletes that participated under the Australian flag in the Olympic game, the overall rank of Australia on the medal tally, and the percentage of gold medals received by Australia relative to the total medals received by Australia.

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Thus we made a trend of increasing gold medals Australia has received visible. Furthermore, we aimed at demonstrating the positive influence of the AIS from 1984 onwards and its impact on Australian performance at the Olympic games since 1984.

The inspiration for this visualization came from the perception that Australia had performed significantly bad at the London Olympics in 2012. The visualization thus aims at also making visible that at the London Olympics Australia did not perform as badly as the Australian public had thought. Thus the visualization is directed towards the general Australian public, primarily because to some degree interest is shown on Australia’s performance in the Olympics.

The general perception on the trend is that Australia did poor to average in the London Olympics 2012. This was revealed to us through a number of sports articles during the London Olympics as well as a survey we had created and distributed amongst the public and our friends on Facebook. Some headlines include: “have we failed our athletes or have they failed us”, “Australian athletes have not been up to it”, “Australia left wishing its Olympic athletes cried tears of gold”, “the verdict: its been a right bang-up job”, and “Australia’s lost Olympic edge”.

Forming the visualization, we aimed at making a positive perception of a real life event, well known around the world. To do this data was portrayed in an authoritative way, where the graph represents an upward motion. Thus when viewed properly the visualization highlights the AIS has potentially had a negative impact on the Australian participation in the Olympic Games, this was highlight as out of 100 athletes the number of gold medals decreased from 4-2. This goes against what has been made visible in the visualization.

Thus the visualization makes something else slightly visible, that is; how authoritative data can manipulate the truth, ones perception and enforce conformity to a general idea.

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Making THINGS Visible

Forms of expression and content regarding visualization are increasingly popular within today’s visual society. Meanings of visualization have the possibility to be manipulated; therefore, a visual can act as a semiotic, symbolising a meaning relative to a situation or experience, idea or concept. A single visual can be diversified across different experiences, environments and contexts. This allows us to ask what is the relation between information and forms of content, expression and the social?

Increased exposure develops likeliness towards a certain stimuli. This is a statement that has been analysed and critiqued in psychological research through a great number of psychologist, including Zajonc who in the 1960s found exposing familiar stimuli demonstrated positive ratings among subjects. The theory has been imbedded by many to increase exposure under the conscious awareness level allowing for greater likeliness towards a product, and yes it has been used in Australian media before. The video below shows how the ARIA Awards used subliminal advertising as a technique to “reinforce” the partner’s sponsorship.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXcSWTb9zz8

Perception, whether subconscious or conscious, is fundamental to how we form relationships with everything around us. In my opinion the relationship between information, forms of content and expression and the social, is perception. But if the visualization can be manipulated to impact us without knowing, the social implications it will have on society will be vast and some might say we will become mind-controlled zombies where they “deceive us with an illusion”. Thus the simplest visualization can shift and shape us all through the way it is communicated and published, but if subliminal exposure can shift our favour of something, will this deprive our individuality and judgements or things.

“The dashed line in use” shows how the use of a dashed line is manipulated to an environment or experience. It is my opinion that our conscious awareness and perception identify and link this visualization to its category. The information of visualization can be interpreted individually, meaning each person can have his or her own idea on what visualization means. In another sense communities and the social obtain a simple and shared interpretation of what visualization signifies.

In the dashed line article its highlighted the dashed line is used for different things and it is our communal interpretation, influenced by external factors associating its meaning. This allows a visualization as such to become easily identifiable, making the invisible become visible. Thus they have become something of a rule to how we conform to social standards, contributing to the organised implementation of visuals.

But does this conformity take away from our individuality? Referring back to perception, I would say no, purely because a visualization does not have to be looked at from a single angle, there may be a dominant angle taken however the individual still has the ability to consciously interpret the visualization as what they want.

Visualisations occur everywhere. Everyday there are new Facebook pages hosting different memes. A meme to me is a picture with some large simple writing accompanied by a humorous picture that makes you laugh. This is my individual interpretation of a meme. This is also highlighted in the article “how does 200 calories look like?” The article shows different plates of food, each containing 200 calories. However, without this information portrayed aesthetically appealing, interpretation would be vastly different of what does 200 calories look like.   One can also and yet although I am a single individual I would still say this is the common perception of what a meme is.  Looking at it from another angle I could also say memes are pictures designed to humiliate and make fun of political and social occurrences or characters. This shows how we are able to look at things in different ways.

A high number of people learn through visualization, personally I think people today are increasingly becoming more visual in their design, through their interaction with their environments, e.g., Facebook and Instagram. With these increasing social networks occurring and their significance through out the world innovation such as the Google Glass may offer a new contribution to the visual world allowing things that were previously invisible visible. However, if everything we see is interpreted or perceived, in real time do we really see or is it our mind that constructs our reality?

[online] Arnell, Timo (2006) ‘the dashed line in use’, http://www.nearfield.org/2006/09/the-dashed-line-in-use

[online] Debord, Guy (n.d.) Unity and Division Within Appearances’, The Society of the Spectacle  http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/3.htm [read parts 54-61]

[online]  information graphic. http://infosthetics.com/archives/2007/01/how_does_200_calories_look_like.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere-exposure_effect#Zajonc_.281960s.29

Attention Shoppers in the New Economy

Commons is the way of the future. Information has continually served as important to all aspects of life. In the world today, focusing on developed nations, information has become vital product, highly valuable to those who can utilise information. Commons have been formed as an assemblage, constructing themselves of people distributing and receiving resources while working towards a shared goal (Meretz 2010).

Commons are resources that include natural resources, cultural resources and information that is continually accessible to all participants of society. It has been argued that information and knowledge are consistently a part of the commons. The argument behind this is that knowledge and information should be shared and free primarily because unlike material data information can be transmitted to different communication channels where it is distributed and aggregated. Today Youtube and Wikipedia are examples of commons, designed to be free and distributed to those who seek information. The purpose of this is to improve the level of knowledge in society, in what could be the standardization of the 21t century through Web 2.0

If you have ever seen the movie “The Social Networka scene will come to fruition where a group of Facebook administrators are working within a house in California, playing, drinking and doing a whole bunch of stupid things. Successful corporations around the world like Google and Facebook are symbolised by their non-hierarchical structure, allowing workers and employees a freedom unparalleled to traditional media. This demonstrates the significance of the commons’ concepts and the imbeeded sense of freedom within the idea of the commons.

The commons ideals are fundamental to success in the future through targeting “attention shoppers.” “The currency of the New Economy won’t be money, but attention” (Goldhaber 1997). Goldhaber states the economies of industrialised nations have shifted dramatically where employment focuses around dealing or mangling with information in some form. He calls this the “Information economy.” Over the last several weeks, discussions have occurred between students regarding archives, assemblages and what seems to be an unlimited source of information. Economy refers to the study of the allocation and usage of scarce resources, therefore it is impossible information can be this scarce resource, it is society its self and the attention to mediums, publications and information that serves as the scarce resource. This has lead to an economical shift from what was a material based economic model to what is now know as the Information Economy.

Attention has behaviour and characteristics of its own, it is a system that is not replicated in humans acting as a connection to a global network where without attention we are zombies. Yet, attention does not occur without distraction, a method in which I view as the process, method and event where attention is shifted or manipulated towards something new. What possibly could this something new be? Well while writing this blog I visited Facebook about three times and I also shut the laptop off twice, going to lunch and classes. Attention and distraction act as a simultaneous relationship, working of one another. The system links us to the world and connects us to a network. Advertisers are aware of the economy of information. Techniques targeting human emotion control our attention and change our attitudes towards something. They continually distract me.

But has the information age and the development of what Goldhaber refers to as the ‘New Economy’ affected the process of attention and distraction and has their been social implications because of this? Simply put, the process of attention and distraction is a process which occurs in the mind, it is not a process that I believe has in its true characteristics change however the external environmental factors and features have caused new battles not just between old media and new media but between the new media and itself. Furthermore, Sigmund Freud highlights through his theory people continue to have unconscious motivations which transverse to their conscious state. This is related to how people interact with their desired mediums and influence the focus of attention as well as the distractions, which occur around this formation. However, there are many factors that influence attention and distraction. Memory is key to this theory. Memory allows us to continually be familiar with something. We as humans are constantly distracted to the things we love, distracted to play the sports we love, distracted to go on Facebook while doing work, this is the same as recognition which all act as simple yet integral parts to the theory of attention and distraction.

The ideals of the commons demonstrate their importance when regarding attention and distraction. In the above examples it is demonstrated that creating some distractions while an overhauling focus of attention on particular information provides an effective method for achievement. This is similar to the battle of infotention. “Infotention is a word….to describe the psycho-social-techno skill/tools we all need to find our way online today, a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills with computer-powered information filters.” – Howard Rheingold (2009).

Corporations and companies have continually aimed at targeting the attention of publics through distraction methods towards a certain archive. Therefore the ideals of the commons are an integral part in achieving success in the future. Commons is the way of the future. In my opinion there are the same amount as distraction as there was before technology ever existed, however attention and distraction has been manipulated through the New Economy where commons have formed an assemblage, constructing themselves of people, through distraction and attention, receiving resources while working towards a shared goal.

However, underlying the New Economy is a problem pure in complexity. The development of peer-peer networks where one can distribute information has become a problem and debate source between the economy and the commons. Intellectual property and copy right laws have held the right to gain profits fro the contents they have created, furthermore with these laws being placed on content by professionals it is evident that constructors of content or publications need financial support to maintain their production and publication. With the rise of the New Economy will quality content die?

 

Michael H. Goldhaber (1997) ‘Attention Shoppers!’, Wired,http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.12/es_attention.html

Meretz, Stefan (2010) ‘Ten Theses about Global Commons Movement’, P2P Foundation,  http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/ten-theses-about-global-commons-movement/2011/01/05

NPR (2010) ‘The Price of Putting Your Brain on Computers’,http://www.npr.org/2010/12/29/132369113/the-price-of-having-your-brain-on-computers

Rheingold, Howard ‘Infotention Skills: From Information Overload to Knowledge Navigation’, http://www.rheingold.com/university/pages/infotention-webinar.php

Rheingold, Howard (2009) ‘Mindful Infotention: Dashboards, Radars, Filters’,SFGatehttp://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/rheingold/detail?entry_id=46677

Yoffe, Emily (2009) ‘Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous’ Slate,http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2009/08/seeking.html

Archive Fever

The archive is more than the accumulation of historical records or the place where they are located. Archives are systematic assemblages where data is contained for the purpose of one’s desire of information. Effectively, archives have the ability to act as a tool of expression and develop its content, primarily because producers, publishers and “produsers” that connect with it manipulate archives. In the modern era archives have moved on from its traditional role of accumulating records. Today archives can be located in the form of databases, software, media libraries and so forth. Each archive relative to its particular assemblage signifies its individuality from other archive assemblages particularly because of the way content is expressed, contained, structured and dispersed.

Archives simply have an authoritative influence over many factors that govern the principles of everyday life. Archives have manipulated the way we remember and form identities. Historically, in ancient times the method of remembering certain traditions, practices and stories were primarily constructed through oral tradition. This also formed a culture, which closely associated with these constructions and their social implications on their populations. The long history of the Aboriginal people has been categorised by this influence of oral tradition and has vastly impacted the memory and identity of these people. Another example occurs within the historical recordings of Herodotus, said to be the first historian. Herodotus heavily relied on the stories and interpretations of historical events such as the Persian Wars from the people who were in presence. Also, this period influences the way we remember; no longer do we remember by speaking to each other, we learn by recording and saving or preserving. His recordings would soon develop a sense of archive, in its traditional interpretation as an accumulation of historical records or the place they are located. Essentially, archives demonstrate their self-fulfilling and preemptive nature, as this is one of their most interesting aspects. The power of an archive to manipulate memory and identity has inevitably influenced the future of archives and their position and dominance within media and technology.

An archive as a systematic tool of categorisation eventually takes up the formation of its content and their expressions. The significance of an archive as an assemblage is not entirely embedded in the information and data it contains. Accessibility and communication to publics are a fundamental basis to the social implications, its assemblage and the desire we have to engage with content.

Walking into my garage this morning I discovered my father’s old filing cabinets. Looking through the filing cabinet was interesting typically discovering photos and business documents. Its compelling to think that today the domestic filing archive has been replaced by the of modern media platforms including hard-drives, email accounts and USB sticks. These platforms develop their own role as an archive where we store information for the reason of our desired retrieval. Retrieving information and connection with content highlights the design of portability. Thus I can access the same or different pieces of information on different platforms through demands of accessibility, frequency and mobility and socio-technical forces, driving convergence.

Archives through their authoritative figures and socio-technical forces have allowed us to interact through different platforms and develop our desire to distribute and publish information across different borders. Data distribution, accessibility and mobility are all aspects constructed into the innovation of the Google Glass but where will the future of archives be?

http://www.smh.com.au/comment/google-glass-a-vision-of-the-future-that-can-strip-us-of-things-we-value-20130406-2he1k.html

One thing is certain as the development of archives continues; all humans will continue to have a need of some sort on archives. Archives have constructed the way we re-access information and categorise it, and thus made us highly efficient. These new innovations have continued this efficiency however the question remains that how discouraging can these innovations be to our lives and our privacy and where is the line between virtuality and reality in a population influenced by the interest in details.

There is a need and a personal relief from the populations of the modern era when information is categorised and organised. Everyone does it, we construct things in alphabetical order or number them 1 to 1000 such as lists. Today I have my music library categorised by alphabetical order according to the artists I have in my music library and I have my email categorised by how recent the email is. Archive fever suggest the existence of competition between the most desired information and information which interests our engagement with publishing. My phone book and all the contacts I have in there are syncronised with their Facebook profile picture; my music library barely has any mishaps in the information of the songs or albums they come from. This is nothing less than an example of the authoritative power archives have over us and give to us, which allow us to construct our identity.

Derrida, Jacques (1996) Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression Chicago:University of Chicago Press

Parikka, Jussi (2013) ‘Archival Media Theory: An Introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology’ in Ernst, Wolfgang Digital Memory and the Archive Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 1-22

Assemblages

The period of standardization of the 15th century was influenced primarily through the distribution of books and information allowing for greater access to knowledge (Eisenstein 1979, p. 71). Silverstone (2006, p. 229-248) identifies the transition from a period of technological determinism Johannes Gutenberg’s personal invention of a printing press sparked developments made in the publishing assemblages of media. Production, science, art, religion and philosophy rapidly influenced society through its vast distribution, effectively influencing a level of standardisation. Greater numbers of information allowed cheaper production and the purchase of the these philosophical thoughts allowed ideas to ravage the minds of humans from all over the world, in different places and even up to the 21st century and onwards.

Vast socio-cultural impacts instigated through the new methods of printing advanced the theory that the network of communication networks and their interconnecting nodes has power and influence on the lives of all individuals as academic research has highlighted how vast innovations has impacted society.  Silverstone (2006, p. 229-248) signifies a period of transition from technological determinism where view points have revolved around the theory that technological advancement and innovation was an impact upon social change.  Furthermore, the studies are developed considering a centrifugal assemblage of mediated culture in the 21st century and onwards. From the perspective of assemblages and actor-network theory the printing industry is a network containing human and non-human actants, thus all actants in a network, human or non-human are entirely equal in regards to an ontological view and have the possibility to be taken into use towards exploring the capabilities of publishing in time transitions.  Bruno Latour, a contributing founder of the actor-network theory emphasised both social and technical assemblage elements contain agencies, thus both obtain the ability to influence socio-cultural activities and society itself. The printing press itself is an assemblage however smaller assemblages are fundamental to its conception. Ink, paper, the alphabet, a keyboard and the people who use the finishing product act as smaller agents and networks. Simply put, the printing press would not exist without its key elements, fundamental to its functionality demonstrating the performance of assemblage networks within a wider picture. An example of this is imbedded in the practice of a protest. In October 2011 Syrian activists and protests turned to social media as a way to reach the outside world as all coverage of protests were banned within the country. Facebook in this sense is an assemblage part of a bigger picture, a bigger assemblage involving the relationships between people and technology.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/09/syria-informers-protests-internet-facebook

Castells (2005, p. 3-7) expresses the view point that the network society is a structure made up by independent nodes which distribute information with other nodes equally. This stands in opposition towards a centripetal or centrifugal structure of social assemblages and networks. The thoughts of Silverstone and Castells i personally view as a relative towards the theory of actor-network theory as each actant is equally important and relative to the complete assemblage. The printing press is a make up of vast assemblages however interaction occurs between an assemblage and other networks such as publishers, business, websites and so forth. The dissemination of ideas was fundamental to the period of standardization and its evolution towards the 21st century where we have a society characterised by accessibility to sources consisting of unlimited knowledge and content. Thus, without the existence of disseminating ideas or the desire to do so the printing press system or the Internet itself would not exist. Printing presses and the Internet as an assemblage paved the way for further developments in assemblages, advancing technology as the fundamental tool of communication. In the perspective of the actor-network theory and assemblages there is continually efforts to portray the relationship and its importance between individuals, society and technology. This is enhanced by Latour’s theories demonstrating the most effective way to analyse and understand media and its social impacts on society its to critique assemblages and their formation in the process of relationships. To understand media and society different perspectives and theories must be taken as the world is an interconnecting node and analysis must take place on different assemblages and relationships.

Understanding the relations between different elements and underlying factors is always important when looking at assemblages or in general, the big picture yet when discussing with my friend yesterday we noted that the further we continue our studies into a certain topic or relationships it can sometimes feel the bigger picture altogether is lost.

References

Castells, M 2005, “Informationalism, networks and the network society: a theoretical blueprint.”, in The network society: a cross cultural perspective, Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar, pp. 3-7.

Eisenstein, E 1979, “Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture” in The printing press an agent of change, vol. 1, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 43-63.

Silverstone, R 2006, “Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept” in Berker, Thomas et all (Eds)  Domestication of media and technology, Berkshire, UK, Open University Press, pp. 229-248.