Networks – Changing communities and economies

The new media which is constituted of the infrastructure and technologies is revolutionising the our activities and experiences in relation to the economy and social organisation. It is the essential that has enacted the culture of sharing, underpinning what called ‘collaborative economy’ – “the macro paradigm shift that the 21st century will become renowned for” (Botsman 2013). The level of openness escalates quickly, creating an open society in which political mechanisms become transparent and flexible (Wikipedia, ‘Open Society’). In the contemporary ‘digital democracy’ where individuals are significantly empowered by the networked media. The quote “Knowledge is power” turns out to be extremely relevant in today world, especially the knowledge about media, technology and their potentiality of changing how the society works, as this knowledge would enact people to play a more active and pivotal role in social organisations and government. The “internet of things” is also killing capitalism and setting the foundation for the sharing economy model (Rifkin 2014), literally based on the activity of sharing, swapping, trading, renting products, services and enabling access over ownership (Botsman 2013). This is based on Gauntlett’s idea (2010) of the creativity of making things, that we are making the world of our own as well as investing in it with meanings and positive engagement with the environment. Perfection is not really the matter, it is the individualism and creativity that should be encouraged to share. In relation to the term ‘sharing economy’ or ‘collaborative economy’, the making and sharing process is extended into a higher level of consumerism, including the shared creation and distribution (Wikipedia, ‘Sharing Economy’). Consumers are now able to get what they need from each other instead of always going to large organisations (Morgan 2014), partly thanks to the elimination of middle-man brought by new media and technologies.

Botsman, R 2013, ‘The Sharing Economy Lacks A Shared Definition’, Fast Co.exist, accessed on May 25th 2015, <;

Morgan, J 2014, ‘Why the collaborative economy is changing everything’,, accessed on May 25th 2015, <;

Gauntlett, D 2010, ‘Making is connecting: Everyday creativity, social capital and digital media’,, accessed on May 25th 2015, <;

Rifkin, J 2014, ‘How the “Internet of Things” is killing capitalism’, TheStreet, accessed on May 25th 2015, <;

‘Open society’, Wikipediam accessed on May 25th 2015, <;

‘Sharing economy’, Wikipedia, accessed on May 25th 2015, <;

Data and Algorithms

Data enacts us with more ability of self-discovering. The existence of data involves around us, emerges into our everyday life and can be found in every moment of individual experience. However, not all individuals really know how to take advantages of these data, partly because information is sometimes perceived as unimportant and not worth to pay attention to. Humans make judgment based on their perceptions, hence, we are making decisions with partial information (Wolf 2010). As a result, data gathering and analysis, although are quite problematic and complicated, can significantly help us making decision more critically. This is due to the fact that numbers make our problems less resonant emotionally but more tractable intellectually (Wolf 2010). With the technology and software advancement, the idea of analysing data for the purpose of assisting human in their decision making process has become easier and more effective than ever before. In this way, it is data that shift us from the virtual perception in our minds to a more real physical world composed of information, statistics, etc. And by experiencing these shifting moments, we are into the process of self-exploring to comprehend our ‘sense of self’ – a sense of individual in the moment (Whitehead 1938).

However, it is also media and communication in the contemporary world, through the usage and manipulation of available data, has created and recreated more and more “layers” of perceptions we can have about ourselves. Typical examples includes the flawlessness of beauty magazines’ supermodels or the way people try to identify themselves through a Facebook profile (which can be different from their original personality), in order to be accepted by the broader community that they are living in. There are also many arguments about how social media is doing nothing good but creating illusions about ourselves.

Another type of “illusion” evoked by today media world that I find interesting is the ‘geodesis’ location, that the number of degrees of separation between two nodes in a social networks is even more important than how close two people are in the physical world. Our relationships today are no longer heavily based on physical proximity and this continues to be the trend for technological development in the future. (Murphie 2015).

Other types of perception and illusion are also generated as a result of algorithms complexity, which is broadly too difficult to fully comprehend for non-experts (Manovich 2013). Hence, most of the time we cannot understand algorithms as clear and direct as 1+1=2, in fact, we can only understand these complex algorithms in an abstract way. Therefore, our expression and imagination of the world, through this algorithms, is influenced significantly in the way that we feel so unsure about it. The interesting point here is, despite of the lack of fully understanding how algorithms work, it still continues to considerably influence and rearrange our physical living and the nature of our society (Murphie 2015)

Manovich, L 2013, “The Algorithms Our Lives”, The Chronicle Review, accessed May 13th 2015, <>

Murphie, A 2015, ‘Data and Algorithms’, lecture note in Advanced Media Issues, University of New South Wales.

Wolf, G 2010, ‘The Data-Driven Life’, The New York Times, accessed May 13th 2015, <;

Whitehead, A. N. (1938), Modes of Thought, Free Press, New York.

Affect and Media

Fundamentally, affect is extremely related and crucial to the context of media and communication, as this is the field in which interaction and engagement are created through audience feelings and emotions. Whether it is a piece of music, novel, film, an advertisement or any of other media works; stimuli and “intensities” are all involved in the process of affecting and being affected by us. The complexity of various processes and systems of feelings and emotions affecting and being affected is the fundamental element in media and communication. For example, one method usually used in music to evoke emotions and produce affect is through ‘mimesis’, which is the way of using imitation of human action or expression to trigger the similar emotions of listeners (Aristotle 2003, as cited in Shepard n.d). In this way, the triggered affect is made up of the relations we have with the contemporary worlds (Murphie 2010). Perhaps these are the real world of our externally displayed emotions, the hidden world of our concealed feelings, the world of abstract emotion in the song, and the more social world of our community, etc. Also, because these relations constantly affect us and be affected by us, our ability to affect these worlds and be affected by them are constantly changing. However, it is noticeable that affect is not necessarily a personal feeling. It might even affect or represent ‘reason, agency, intention, volition, intentionality’ (Murphie 2010). It is interesting to think about the difference between a feeling and an emotion. While feelings are personal and biographical, emotions are social and affects are pre-personal (Shouse 2005), which suggests that the way media make us “feel” and they way we make other people “feel” (via various platforms of media and communication) are defined differently according to our own set of sensations and also experience.

Furthermore, affect and emotion are also distinctive in their basic characteristics. According to Massumi, affect is primany, non-conscious, unqualified and intensive whereas emotion is derivative, conscious, qualified and meaningful (as cited in Grant 2011). In relation to William James, his model of emotion also suggests a relation can be found between affect and cognition by stating that, a perception immediately produces an affect within the body, and only later is this affect transformed into a recognisable emotion (as cited in Shepard n.d).

Grant, C 2011, ‘On Affect and Emotion in film and media studies‘, Film studies for free, accessed 25th April 2015, <>

Massumi, B 2002, Parables for the virtual: Movement, affect, sensation, Duke University Press, Durham, pp. 23-45.

Murphie, A 2010, ‘Affect – a basic summary of approaches’, Adventures in Jutland, accessed 25th April 2015,

Shouse, E 2005, ‘Feeling, emotion, affect’, Jounal of Media and Culture, vol. 8, no. 6, accessed 25th April 2015 <>

Shepard, B n.d., ‘Affect’, The Chicago school of Media Theory, accessed 25th April 2015, <>

Gaming and Programmability

The way ‘media’ defined as tools used to store and deliver information or data has raised the question of whether or not games can be categorised as a form of ‘media’. On one hand, Lantz (2009) argues that ‘games are not media’, noticeably because games are more like hobbies than consumable content, as well as games are not able to carry an idea from one place to another. However, video games are a different story, especially in the new, interactive media landscape.

Video games, therefore, are a complex and dynamic medium unlike any before. In games, interaction and engagement (between audiences and the games itself and/or producers) are pushed to the point that it seems to be players who have the central role of controlling this interaction and engagement. Unlike the way TV commercials or social media advertising pull tailored content to us, that advertisers are those decide and create what they will be shown; games allow participants to create their own story and own experience. For example, more skilled players can complete missions faster than some others, or some players may want to spend time exploring the game environment rather than focusing on completing tasks in the possible shortest time, etc. These differences would lead to variation in each player’s experience and engagement with the game, and any meaning that comes out of the game is generated by the players (Samyn 2011) Additionally, today games encourage more interaction with other players than ever before, create a strong sense of community and connection when playing game. This also makes the virtual world and real life intertwined to the point that fantasy becomes reality and vice versa. Furthermore, McGonigal (2010) even states that there are feelings and nuances which are so extraordinary that we can only experience in the game worlds, in which we become the best version of ourselves.

However, to what extent what we can control the games we play? It is common sense to assume that we – players – have more power in controlling the game we play, as we are the ones who choose how to perform in games, which character we would become, how to engage with these games, who we would play with, etc. In fact, Rushkoff (2011) challenges this with another perspective, offering the idea that the more choices we have, the more narrow our world would be, and we are making choice not really because we want to, but because our programs demand them. In relation to games, it is undeniable that we can only determine our character’s actions within the architecture and rules that have been coded into the game by its authors. Thinking about this idea more generally also reveals other issues related to the impact of media on human, or as Rushkoff points out the question of programmablity – whether we programm or be programmed in the digital realm.

Lantz, F 2009, ‘Games are not media’, Game design advance, accessed April 20, 2015, from <;.

McGonigal, J 2010, Gaming can make a better world, accessed April 20, 2015, from <;.

Samyn, M 2011, ‘Video games as media’, Gamasutra, accessed April 20, 2015, from <;.

Rushkoff, D 2011, ‘III. Choice: You May Always Choose None of the Above’, Program or Be Programmed, OR Books, NY, pp. 46-54.

Feed – M. T. Anderson

This is some of my thoughts about the novel Feed of M. T. Anderson. Generally, positive attributes of media and technology advancement are undeniable, but Anderson presents readers another side of this evolution in a futuristic and exaggerative way.

He discusses how society is dominated and to some extend, degraded, by media and technology. Characters such as Titus and his friends are depicted as they are uncritically “existing” with the feeds, that they live their lives by advertisements and suggestion, and they are losing their own sense of identity. Through Titus’s point of view, it can be seen that his perception of the world and of his life is filled with boredom. He thinks the Moon is boring, as well as the Mars. He thinks his life is boring, although he has no way to resist it. At some points, Titus does think that the corporations controlling the feeds are evil, but he cannot deny the fact that he likes the way these feeds give him things that he wants. When he has a closer relationship with Violet, Titus starts to realise his friends immaturity and tries to resist the feeds. But as soon as Violet becomes paralysed, he moves onto another girl and is back to the way he used to live, with the feed, just like his friends. It can be said that Anderson, to some extend, is warning young generation about the unexpected yet dramatic influence of media and technology in today world.

I personally find that the issue about whether humans are going to have implanted transmitters in our brains is depicted as so predictable and unavoidable. Although Anderson does exaggerate our level of media and technology engagement in his novel, Titus is a typical representation of our tech-savvy generation. Our lives are so absorbed in the media and technology environment that we are no longer aware of its surrounding existence, just like the way fish live in water. In contemporary world, we are exposed to a very high volume of advertising messages everyday, and advertisers always try to get insights of what products/services that we want based on our purchase patterns. This is similar to the way Titus and his friends are “fed” with the feeds all the time. When he thinks about something or has a desire of buying something, the feed will present advertisement and suggestions for him. He and his friend define what is trendy based on the feed as well.

The chapter about how Titus, Violet and others’ feeds are hacked and how boring they feel reminds me of the fact that, we now also feel like there’s nothing to do without our phones, laptops, Facebook, or Internet. I feel like Violet is represented for traditionalists in our real life, such as our parents, whose struggles with technology are seemingly endless. In some ways, this is difficult for them to adapt in this information era (just like the way Violet cannot get along well with Titus’s friends). However, I personally think they are living a better and more interesting lives than we do. In the novel, when the feeds are unavailable, it turns out to be one of the best day of Titus and his friends, when they really enjoy the time playing with others like normal humans. For me, this is the feeling that people want to experience when they truly spend time enjoying the outside world and company with others instead of scrolling Facebook news feed constantly.

The Extended Mind

Among all the models about media and communication in relation to human bodies and minds, I personally find ‘The extended’ is an interesting one, which suggests that the development of technology in general has extended our brain’s capacity to memorise things, that a part of our memory is outside of us (Stiegler). In this way, technology has become ‘the tools’, or in other words, the ‘repertoire of the mind’ (Chalmers 2009). Stiegler also states that human memory is originally exteriorised, which means that it is technical from the start. It is technical perhaps because it has its own systems, its own set of illustration for the purpose of holding our experiences and turning these experiences into memories; it also enables us to imagine, to think, to examine, to plan, etc. One of the raising question I can think of is that, does our brain have a mind of its own, that not we but our brain is the one controlling which piece of memory will be stored, which emotions or which feelings are going to dominate us, etc. The fact is that human cannot manipulate how our brains work, the only thing we can do is trying to improve and extend its capacity, in correspondence with other social and environmental factors. As a consequence, the evolution of technology has significantly assisted our brains in term of memorising things. Think about applications such as online address books, calendars, clocks, note-takings, to-do list, web browser’s reading lists, even notes, statuses on Facebook, Twitter hashtags, etc. They have all been invented to help us storing and retrieving information in our brains more effectively.

But one downside of such ‘extended mind’ caused by technology is the over-dependence of our brains on these assistant tools. A large part of our knowledge may be lost “at the very moment one begins speaking of ‘knowledge societies’ and ‘knowledge industries’ and ‘cognitive’ or ‘cultural’ capitalism” (Stiegler). In relation to our daily life, it is apparent to recognise that we are no longer be able to remember all of our friends’ phone numbers and birthdays like the old days, and our brains are no longer required to “run” constantly to memorise things. I find this idea relatively related to “archive fever”, which suggests that the more space we have online, the more information we would want to store, until the point where we start to be “sick” and get lost in these stored archives. And imagine what would happen if there was no Google search, just like the way our brains are no longer able to “search” our “archives” without other external tools.

Chalmers, D. 2009, ‘The Extended Mind Revisited [1/5], at Hong Kong, 2009’, online video, accessed on 28 March 2015 < >

Stiegler, B. n/a, ‘Anamnesis and Hypomnesis: Plato as the first thinker of the proletarianisation’, Ars Industrialis, accessed on 28 March 2015, < >.

‘The extended mind’, Wikipedia, accessed on 28 March 2015, < >.

Relations, Experience and Abstraction

This week’s materials mainly focus on the concept of ‘relations’ and ‘experience’, which suggest that we should not perceive anything as an isolated objects but rather perceive them in a complex network of different kinds of relations, formed and changed by our experience. In this way of thinking, it is important to understand and experience the relations first before being able to understand interior elements within. Understanding the relations also allows us to create other elements and facets as well as other relations linked to existing ones. The reason explaining radical concerns toward “relations” and “experience” is the idea that “nothing in this world is constant, except change and becoming”. Similar to “the world of flows” of dannah boyd, we live in the world where everything flows and nothing stands still, where information is everywhere and we are constantly adding to, consuming and redirecting that stream. One of an interesting thought is that any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as ‘real’ as anything else in the system. Hence, if we think of ‘abstraction’ as a relation, or related relations, it means that ‘abstraction’ is ‘real’ as well. But then, what kind of reality that abstraction can be? There is no definite answer as abstraction is also changing constantly. It keeps changing in our own minds and is defined by our own umwelts, and these changes are significantly influenced by our experience. Think about media as an abstraction (what is it anyway?), which is conceptualised differently by different individuals, who live in different umwelts, experience different ecologies of mind, and have different experience towards media. And by questioning these abstraction, more and more relations have been created, and more various things we can do with them have been invented. I also find it interesting to think of the meaning of language as an abstraction, as the language does not have meaning itself but it is our experience and relations with the world has conceptualised and re-conceptualised these meanings over time.