Amber

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Online Communities and Cyborg Anthropology

Primary Author: Amber Case

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(this is a working text -- it is by no means complete or ready for review. when it is i will remove this notice)


History

The traditional form of Anthropological study is stereotyped by outings to third world countries to study "the anthropological other". However, I find it more challenging to study what's happening to us as a series of technosocial a world mediated by dynamic objects, processes, and change. I first used cyborg anthropology to create an analysis of Facebook, as I was one of the first adopters of the platform. I later wrote my thesis on mobile telephony and the future of communication.

Donna Haraway, Deborah Heath and Robert Goldman

I was first introduced to cyborg anthropology by Deborah Heath, a friend of Donna Haraway's. She was my professor and thesis advisor at Lewis & Clark college. I was also introduced to the concept of Light/Liquid Modernity by Robert Goldman, a sociology professor who specialized in advertising and sign culture. These two professors introduced me to a set of theories that I took immediately to my analysis of the real world. With Bob I studied traditional advertising from the 19th century. After this we studied advertising and business through postmodern theory.


The Digital Field Journal

I kept a digital journal during my last year of college that stored snapshots of the Internet. I used this platform to capture data over time in order to understand trends and patterns that worked their way into conclusions. I also began to visit local businesses and network with corporate groups. Along the way, I began to realize that companies were fighting to understand social media and online presence through processes such as search engine optimization. Most of the marketers and company owners had extremely sophisticated profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I learned to embrace social networks from 30-50 year olds rather than from my peers. The methods of dispersing, collecting, and attracting people to data and experience were completely new to me. I had only studied it from the context of an digital field journal before.

I realized very quickly that the qualitative and quantitative methods of anthropology were a perfect fit for cyberspace. These tools could be used to analyze the methods by which humans seek out and produce information in cyberspace. They could easily be used to improve and criticize interface design, user flows, data management, resource optimization, and the phenomenology of the online experience.

I used this new knowledge to secure a job in search engine marketing for a small startup company. This part time job guarantees a standard of living while I compile my research on the compression of time and space online, and the types of businesses that can survive in the digital jungle.


Conducting Research in Zero Gravity, Zero Friction Environment

The research is different than any I've ever done before. It is both simple and difficult with respect to traditional research. First, data collection is no problem. Humans are leaving a sort of geological history of themselves with every action they create online. Data management is becoming a series of lists, where things are new to old, or "most viewed" to "least viewed". Old information sinks to the bottom of the data pile, but sometimes is dug up by future visitors, or data Paleontologists. Neglected or stale data is ignored and quickly buried by successive layers of data with a faster refresh rate. This is evident on Twitter, RSS readers, Facebook, YouTube and almost any new media platform in existence. It is also true on search engines like Google and Yahoo. Google Analytics can be easily used to track conversion rates and page views. Some Limitations of Data Management

But data management needs certain tools or it becomes overwhelming. My own foray into social media caused me to rely on new tools to understand and soft through all of the data my profile and conversations was generating. I realized recently that this is PR 2.0. I now help companies understand and expand their online presence through intelligence feeds created through Yahoo! Pipes. The Yahoo! Pipe application I use takes relevant data from one site and relevant data from another and collects it into a single data feed. In this way, streams of relevant data can be created, instead of sorting through endless amounts of information that does not directly relate to one or one's goals.

Another question comes up when this subject is accessed -- the question of value and how it is created online. I'm studying the different patterns and ways value can be created online, and the natural systems that these values mirror.


The Construction of Value in an Age of Instant Duplication

For instance, what makes one link on Twitter is more valuable that another? What makes one's Tweets are seen by thousands of people, while another's Tweets are seen by 15. This is post-art in the age of mechanical reproduction. This is a world in which everything is infinitely reproducible. Disney's Club Penguin has successfully harnessed this by implementing artificial scarcity in a controlled, secure environment. A cyberspace within a cyberspace with its own rules. Facebook took another route. It's story closely mirrors that of an early gold rush. The construction of value within that environment was tumorous. Too many of the same application reduced the value of each application to near-zero levels.



Twitter

I chose Twitter as a social media platform of choice because it offers a sort of 'omnipresence in the wired' that other websites don't. Twitter's data is constantly flowing, while the text of most webpages and even blogs are still caught up in silos and behind opaque walls. This is where liquid modernity comes into play. Old industry is heavy and takes a long time to move. Light industry works best in frictionless environments. RSS feeds make data dynamic and accessible. Every page on a site can be a front door to content without the time liability that an extra click creates for a user trying to find the correct content. Networks that shorten the distance between content an action while reducing unnecessary and awkward interface transitions are generally more successful online than those that do not. To quote a student of Donna Haraway's:


To 'go virtual' is to free the self from the weight of the flesh incarcerated by 'heavy modernity'. Cyber Ethnologist Sandy Stone discusses the theoretical benefits of joining virtual communities:


Electronic virtual communities represent flexible, lively, and practical

   adaptations to the real circumstances that confront persons seeking
   community in what Haraway (1987) refers to as 'the mythic time called
   the late twentieth century." They are part of a range of innovative
   solutions to the drive for sociality—a drive that can be frequently thwarted
   by the geographical and cultural realities of cities increasingly structured
   according to the needs of powerful economic interests rather than in ways
   that encourage and facilitate habitation and social interaction in the urban
   context (Benedikt in Cyberspace, First Steps 1991: 111).

At a long dinner table, the person at the head of the table is physically distant from the person at the other end of the table. But online, everyone at the table can be the same distance apart. A 301 redirect can easily change an entire highway of traffic from one website location to another, while the brick and mortar manifestation of this concept involves bulldozers, urban planners, and millions of dollars.

There's also the development of online communities as a recolonization of public space. As anthropological places create the organically social, so non-places create solitary contractility (Augé Non-Places: An Introduction to a Theory of Supermodernity 1995:94). Non-places are the sources of modern anomie. In Emelie Durkheim's perspective, a malnourished public sphere deprives individuals of real social connections. In the face of this anomie, technosocial relationships mediated through the cell phone or social network allows an organic social network. Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger actor network (Bruno Latour's Actor Network Theory). If the human spends time in a non-place, then the addition of a non-place accessed through the social group tears through the solitary contractuality characterized by the non-place. Both the place and the non-place can exist at once, because in the supermodern perspective all dichotomies blur into one another. The world is full of non-places and strangers. An airport is has nothing to do with history, identity, or relation. It is a liminal place - a space between spaces. It is the same with a highway or a supermarket.


Regaining Community After Isolation

The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot. The isolated human can either turn to an music comfort object such an ipod to regain a sense of place, or a network of others sharing that same alienated strangeness.

What emerges from the fading social norms is naked, frightened, aggressive ego in search of love and help. In the search for itself and an affectionate sociality, it easily gets lost in the jungle of the self...Someone who is poking around in the fog of his of his or her own self is no longer capable of noticing that this isolation, this 'solitary-confinement of the ego' is a mass sentence. [Ulrich Beck, 40 in Bauman's Liquid Modernity 2000:37]

Twitter allows the "everyday" to be discussed, and thus it reopens the public sphere to discussion. But, modern information, or 'light information' is only accessible by hybrids (those whose social landscapes are mediated by technological exchange), or those who are capable of liminally transforming into technosocial hybrids or 'light industrial' objects. It is not enough to simply liminally transition. The online self is becoming omniscient and omnipresent. Each network allows one to digitize different elements of one's lived reality of 'everydayness'.

Post-Isolation, Social Rules Begin to Reappear

An entire set of new social roles have developed around the use of technology. Erving Goffman's "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" relates directly to this. A profile Is another extension of connection and etiquette that can be optimized or used poorly. In a reputation economy, companies are breaking down into social constructs as well. The days of billboard approximation are dissolving into one-on-one company/customer communications where the user co-creates the psychology of the online space just as much as the creator. In this world, the concepts of physics are even more prevalent. The shape of space makes people move, and flow of people shapes space.

Entering into a network by becoming part cyborg creates the ability for the subject to augment social and physical capabilities. The cell phone allows people to be more omniscient and omnipresent. Technology allows one to transcend more readily the confines of the flesh-burdened human body. Information stored on the computer can be seen as accessed by many at once, allowing copies of a person's essence to be present in many places at once.

Maureen McHugh once wrote that "soon, perhaps, it will be impossible to tell where human ends and machines begin".

What part of us connects to others when we use a cell phone? If the cell phone is the carrying device for our auditory avatars, are we still fully human when we use it? Online, when we use Twitter, are we living more fully and quickly than we ever could in real life? I think so. When I sit at long table with twenty seats, I can't communicate with twenty people at once, but online, everyone is the same distance away, if I choose them to be. Also, I don't have to worry if there's a rude guest sitting across from me. I can silence that person with a short click of a button. Spam be gone.

Not that I'm suggesting that dinner parties be replaced by Twitter conversations, by any means. Rather, I'm suggesting that Twitter is a way to filter through and find a bunch of gems across space and time that one can really interface really well with in real life. Twitter also adds another dimension onto life -- this sort of backchannel rapid communication. That way, when you have a dinner party full of Twitter people, you can all feel like you've known each other for a lot longer than you really have. And maybe not have to worry about the spammers.

The Daily Online Representation of Self

In my experience, my online identity heavily influences my analog social experiences. My avatar and profile are like a backchannel of information specifically constructed to facilitate certain opportunities and conversations. When what I am in real life is co-created by an enormous social community, that journey becomes increasingly blissful.

The Creation of Identity and Community

One's identity is created by community. Success is nurtured by a good community and limited by bad ones. Participants are constantly influenced by those near them. Portland Tech Community is an example of an incredible community. There are no limits. There are just great ideas. But it doesn't stop there. The ideas and enthusiasm make these incredible ideas happen. And very quickly, which is why I'm really excited about the next Portland Tech Event: "WhereCamp PDX: Bringing the Electronic World into the Physical" this weekend (Oct 18-19, 2008).




The world of marketing is experiencing a great transition into the digital realm. It's been digitally created and shared, but now the user can come into a new experience online. The digital self (the mental removed from the digital), already compressed for maximum download speed, can change places in digital more quickly than ever before.

Distance and Experience

The mind online is reached more easily by ads, and the distance from the monitor to the user is many times closer than that of a television. It is this distance alone that makes a difference. An active user of the Internet can easily run out of energy and be attracted to information sources that need the least input (youtube). Admist the medely of choices, it is easier for the user to have the choice made for him. On Youtube, this is done by others. On Facebook, social history is written automatically, the only imput being clicks from the user.

If we go back to the General Theory of Relativity and apply it to social space, we can see that the shape of space makes people move, and the gravity of the social shapes space. Thus, people have social gravity, and when they congregate, more people are drawn in by this social gravitational field. Sometimes people from blurred areas can experience this social gravity field and congregate on an event from different idea economies. For instance, a Linux programmer can be drawn into the same Youtube video clip as a law student and a fry cook. I consider areas of great social masses to approximate black holes. Widely adopted products are black holes of attention, with event horizons of being "keeping up with the Joneses". The event horizon of the event can be relational in real life or in digital life. A link can be provided by a friend online, (via a blog, instant message, or e-mail). A piece of hardware can be envied and researched outside of digital space, or the digital space can be used to learn about and purchase the device.

A friend of mine who is an engineering student and electronic musician coined the the term "if I just try a little harder" syndrome to explain what is affecting the hyper-modernized individual. They try a diet, and it fails, and then they tell themselves they will try even harder. "If I were just to try a little harder" on a photo, or an essay. Of course, trying hard is a future event, or a past event. It is a self-referential event that, because of its detached reflection, can never manifest in the present moment.

Media is creating forced creativity by putting digital cameras in the hands of individuals. Forced creativity makes people increasingly digitize their lives because media takes up space, and people like to share digitized bits of their lives. By allowing consumers to upload images, a panopticon of creativity is formed. Talent is not encouraged to develop except in small groups like Photoshop competition forums or networked groups.

The group development aspect of the net intrigues me. It is because I've noticed that 'expert groups' are forming that I decided to research one for my independent study, which I've titled SOAN 490 - Corporate Power and Information

I found SEM PDX, an online society of Internet Marketers and Businesspeople who were concerned with studying and making use of social networking sites, search optimization techniques, and better ways to reach greater numbers of Internet users. In essence, they were a group of information architects and space time compressors. Everything has become a competition, or death. Those who run on breaking ice behind them. And all consumers (and producers) are holding themselves up to increasingly one dimensional standards of beauty and success.

My experiment was to check out how websites advertise themselves -- how companies are forcing these sorts of organic connections -- how they are widening event horizions to approach guaranteed consumer purchasing habits (and thus limit their marketing costs and liabilities). Mental real estate is easily acquired and redistributed in the digital world. With real estate also untethered, space and time of the mind are what matter.

Online Branding

community

the blogging community.

         introduction

Online communities are created based on

  • Data
  • Proximity
  • Interst
  • Development
  • News
  • Photos
  • Gossip

Types of interaction

  • linkbacks
  • comments
  • guest posts

Design of blog

How media is shared

  • Wikis
  • Wordpress


The Twitter Community

(the ability to create the self through words and@'s, hashtags, ect. a community based on proximity and interests.

Commonalities of Social Networks

  • Avatar
  • Dynamic content
  • Friending

Examples: Flickr Myspace Facebook

Commonalities of Stage II Social Networks

  • Following/Subscribing

Examples: Twitter Friendfeed

Network Speed

We can estimate the relative speed of social networks based on profile to response ratio.

Twitter has a high profile to response ratio. Each environment and person's profile is compressed for light transit. Myspace has more social geography. Each user has more visual and textual space. Each space is capable of being altered in size, shape, color, and there are embeddable objects.

With Twitter, there are limits on how one can augment's another space. There is little tolerance for spamming, and much data transparency. The subscribe function limits what one can write on one's "wall".

This makes Twitter less iconic and faster. With profiles compressed for easy flow.


  • Tweeetups vs. meeting in real life,
  • Following.
  • Introductions

Light Modernity

discussion of lightness...

Floating communities, the heavy communities failing online, because heaviness is measured in time. online communities that are effienity in retyping communtiy members back to each other in real life are more efficient.


Bram is working on a site that takes the undiffernetated , unconnected mass of ametuars and connects htem to jobs that thye would like to be doing, and in doin tso removs the filters between people, reintegrates and sorts them out into compatible working couplets, gving them repurpose. repurposing people as well as repurposing ideas, blog posts, ect.


Linkedin

networking/real life events organized through an online system


Meetup.com

Upcoming

news about these, the creation of news and development ..

Second Life

Cyborg anthropology --- second life as an extended avatar. (interview lisa peyton)

avatars as placeholders for bodies

identity online through user name

omniscience omnipresence on the web


Extension of Online Experience and Presence

===Cell Phone extention of hand with phone, extention of ear with phone, the boundaires of life and boundary showing to others, instead of being locked in cells. a feedforawrd society (with information society a post-industrial society)


pausing interaction

maintaining many interaction streams at once


the differnet speeds of interaction with communities

the email, which is opaque and cannot be seen through

can only be shared with another individual member theough cc or bcc.


thenrethen there is the email newslette,r which can form part of a community online, through goole or yahoo groups

this type of communty can post messages on a message board, and comments can be left


comments can be left on a blog, which is kind of like forums and message communities. there are communities like collegehumor.com, hwere photos can be posted, and comments can be made.

community and threads ....thre long tail decaying out on the thread


localized communties


moodle.com , online educatonal communties.



but what blends the two toeghereter and erases hte nodes between them /twitter speeds up the profile to repsonse system extremely quickly

then the speed of interaction intensifieds with the" status message: something htat can be updated as life happens, without the need to recode a page

it is microbloggin that can be accessed from more tispaces atan dincreasingly granular space.



the pprogression of the suburban environment, and the migration of communities to clan spaces, that hhave less cluetter

google entires and search results (look up local cafe, urban grind, and see reidab's rsult for "working at the urban grind"/

List and list management

On the Reduction of Time and Space

A reduced distance between data nodes

The capability to access instant, centralized, status updates vs. lagged, buried information.

How quickly information gets to each node from community members both upstream and downstream in the social hierarchy.


On Interfaces

Comments and Excerpts from Urban Structure, 1968. Paul Elek. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.


The Interfaces (Page 76-77).


"An interface may be described as a common boundary between two systems. The interface between transportation systems is the most neglected element that the passenger is force to tolerate. The attitude of transportation system operators seems to be, 'leave the driving to us but how you get aboard and where you go when you get off is your problem'. Improvement in the attraction and holding of riders is needed more than anything else except frequent service."


"The one ability that ninety-nine out of a hundred of the human race has that makes mass transit possible is that ability to walk. Why do we attempt to eliminate it as if it were unnatural? We seen to accept the walking required to use vertical transportation in buildings. We walk from our car or bus into the building, walk to the escalator, something even walk on it as it moves up, walk to the elevator, walk in, walk out, and walk to our desk. Why do we accept this? Because we are always moving towards our destination. The only wait is for the elevator and this is very short, and the interfaces are convenient, comfortable and pleasant, as much so as the building itself. Similar qualities of environment can be had in horizontal transportation."


The same is the same on the web. Large interface changes are annying to users, and take up time. Erasing interface boundaries between viewing profiles and posting creates something that


(127) -"The car as an extension of the foot instead of the car as a satellite part of the home: or the tendency for appliances to impose their presence as against the psychological need for 'cosy' or 'friendly' objects".


(A Note here: that I've seen online in development of objects, and that is the tendency for objects in the lower class to be not be benign companions, and those for creative culturals to be designed to be companions; to be benign. The same is with vehicles. As a vehicle ages, it becomes less of a friend to it's driver, and more of a liability. It needs to be replaced, because it turns against its owner.



Event:

Freeze Day

by Amber Case - Monday, 25 February 2008, 11:59 AM

Today, at 2:30 Pm, we will freeze for five minutes, which will be interesting, even more so because we are a human copy of an dispersed situated knowledge action learned by a fragmented node community (the Internet). I am sitting now, surrounded by those about to participate in the event. There are a lot of Burning Man people (Burners), and some older people, hippie types. The rest are young, reasonably trendy, and of college or high school age. We start in a park down the street from Powell's bookstore. It's by the metal elephant statue that everyone's always taking tourist photos of. There's no leader yet present, but we all know each other has the same thing in common, so anyone can talk to anyone, really.

Then a woman appears. She's the same one I saw this summer at a Burner retreat up in some part of the Oregon forest. Great, almost drunken charisma. Boisterous in her leadership. No need for a microphone. Takes a position of power as she arrives, standing up on the tallest stone platform she can find.

We set our synch the time on our cell phones and then turn them to silent. One alarm for 3:15 pm, the next for 3:20. We leave the area and head towards the area in front of Powell's bookstore in small groups, so that we do not look like we are arriving there en masse. We situate ourselves and do everyday things until our cell phones buzz in our pockets and we freeze where we are.

It is strangely silent. I can't see anything because my eyes are glued to the bike rack in front of me, but I can see movement slowing down in front of me. Traffic becomes eerie. People walk through the frozen people, dazed. There are pictures being taken, and video cameras.

Then the cell phones vibrate again, and we all leave randomly, without smiles amongst ourselves, which is kind of a let-down. It just becomes this strange repressed secret. We've been told not to cheer or all leave at once, so we don't, but it still feels awkward. A guy interviews me from Oregonlive.com. I tell him I've been following these movements for a while, and he films me with a little digital camera attached to a cheap microphone.

Of course this could not really happen if it were not for technology. It was very herd-like, and I felt slightly empty afterwards. It was also very meditative...I have no more else to say about this, except perhaps a quote from a blog on www.conversationagent.com, and that's that "stories are sticky, especially when they present us with information we can identify with".

In a global economy, everything is local. This is the age of participation.


Gatekeeping

Gatekeeping is a term used to describe the process of filtering, enabling and limiting the access and availability of information. The emergence of an information society increases the availability and accessibility of information and has therefore created an opposing trend of controllers seeking to stem or limit this informational flow. A gatekeeper is the person or software who controls access and flow. (Hornby, 2003)



The Network Society

The network society is facilitated by the existence of interconnected systems with the ability to exchange data. This is further supported by sophisticated technology that enables communication and information management within a wide variety of contexts. The development of networks as the dominant form of human organisation has lead to increasing numbers of social entities being organized around the network form (Barney, 2004, p.27), such as political, economic and educational institutions.



Time Value

Time value liability contributes to the success or failure of online community adoption. The less time and space it takes to experience some aspect of the other, or be brought closer to another, the the more enjoytabreward the indiviudal gets from the



Tracking speeches in real time with Twitter (Twitter as BackChannel)

Twitter can be used to track conferences. (blog post on the ISF here and process)


Image:Http://oakhazelnut.com/artofcommunity/davidharveyshrinkingmapofworld.gif



When time value is reduced, information absoprtion and transparency suffers. I wanted all of the information that was linked in this blog post to be available to me on the same page. In the future, content from links should be able to be expanded while still staying on the same blog page. That way, content feeds would track a click to the linked-to site while still maintaining concentration on the blogger's post.

--- u

using twitter to find out where a person is, if they're free, or when they'll be free


easier to set up meetups this way than a long list of emails.

The sociality of social networks

What will the next phase of this electronic universe look like? More transparency in companies and user profiles. More representation of the individual online. Less clicks to get things done. Blog post within blog views (through link windows). Pulse-type feeds that flow all electronic extensions to the self into one place and allow others to see it. Color/shape differentiation among new feed sources that flow into better organized RSS databases.

Social networks are as social as humans the more social networks can communite with otne anotehr, the better it is for all users, because hte boundaries between data container types become lessened. ! Jott's new friend is Twitter. Facebook's friend is Twitter. Twitter is a friend in high demand by these sites because it's form is optimized for social network friendship in many forms. It makes sense when one looks at the analog way of doing business (corporate partnerships are like social networks networking with other social networks). Now feeds from one social network flow the another. It's cooperation over competition. Win cubed.



Don't Let Speed Sacrifice Quality - Optimize Sources Beforehand

One of the problems of this information-chocked world is that answer-seeking becomes too quick to be well-refined. Artificial Intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon explains this problem very well with his term "Satisfice".

Satisfice: a hybrid word formed from satisfy and suffice, referring to the tendency of time-starved, information-overloaded users to select the first good-enough solution that crosses their path. Users often use satsificing as a triage strategy, based on the time and effort a more comprehensive search might entail.

How does one avoid making mediocre choices due to last-minute information needs? The solution is to predict what future information will be needed, and then create networks of experts based on those future needs. Where to start?

  • A good place is Linkedin.com Answers (when people you don't know answer

your questions well, add them to your network).

  • Facebook notes (tag friends in a note and ask for experts, blog

reccommendations, and books).

  • Twitter
  • RSS

In this way, your network researches for you en masse, and you can simply wait for the information to return. In the future, your network may rely on you for your specific expertise in order to avoid their own Satisfice on the subject. Definition of Satisfice taken from Bob Goodman's Usability Glossary.



The Recolonization of Public Space

As anthropological places create the organically social, so non-places create solitary contractility (Augé 1995:94). Non-places are the sources of modern anomie. In Emelie Durkheim’s perspective, a malnourished public sphere deprives individuals of real social connections. In the face of this anomie, the cell phone allows an organic social network. Through the subject and the technology combined, the subject can become an Actor on the larger Actor Network. If the human spends time in a non-place, then the addition of a non-place accessed through the telephone tears through the solitary contractuality characterized by the non-place. Both the place and the non-place can exist at once, because in the supermodern perspective all dichotomies blur into one another.

What emerges from the fading social norms is naked, frightened, aggressive ego in search of love and help. In the search for itself and an affectionate sociality, it easily gets lost in the jungle of the self...Someone who is poking around in the fog of his of his or her own self is no longer capable of noticing that this isolation, this 'solitary-confinement of the ego' is a mass sentence. [Ulrich Beck, 40 in Bauman 2000:37]

The isolated human in the non-place seeks to reconnect with those in proximity, but cannot. The cell phone is used as a substitute for interaction, but the cell phone user really wishes for face-to-face interaction over virtual interaction, and thus manages face to feign importance.


Virtual Communities and Technosocial Relationship: Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipandemonium

To ‘go virtual’ is to free the self from the weight of the flesh incarcerated by ‘heavy modernity’. Cyber Ethnologist Sandy Stone discusses the theoretical benefits of joining virtual communities:

Electronic virtual communities represent flexible, lively, and practical adaptations to the real circumstances that confront persons seeking community in what Haraway (1987) refers to as ‘the mythic time called the late twentieth century.” They are part of a range of innovative solutions to the drive for sociality—a drive that can be frequently thwarted by the geographical and cultural realities of cities increasingly structured according to the needs of powerful economic interests rather than in ways that encourage and facilitate habitation and social interaction in the urban context. [Benedikt 1991: 111]

Entering into a network by becoming part cyborg creates the ability for the subject to augment social and physical capabilities. The cell phone allows people to be more omniscient and omnipresent. Technology allows one to transcend more readily the confines of the flesh-burdened human body. Information stored on the computer can be seen as accessed by many at once, allowing copies of a person's essence to be present in many places at once.

The desire to upgrade the cell phone is also a desire to upgrade one's body to the next best state in evolution. It is a means of purchasing power in the form of better, faster communication. It is what Cyborg Anthropologist Donna Haraway calls a symbiotic relationship: a co-production of existence. “In this context, electronic virtual communities are complex and ingenious strategies for survival” (Benedikt 1991: 111). Without human support, technology could not survive, but without technological support, a globalized society would not be able to sustain itself.


Presentation of Self in Digital Life Part II

Please add this to the previous post:

Modern information, or ‘light information’ is only accessible by hybrids, or those who are capable of liminally transforming into technosocial hybrids or ‘light industrial’ objects. It is not enough to simply liminally transition. An entire set of new social roles have developed around the use of technology. Whereas technology used to be only for 'nerds', it is now ubiquitous, and mobile phones have made their presence felt in almost ever region of the world” (Plant 2005:26).


Cybernetic Data Trails: The Geology of Information

Everyone online is leaving a Geological history of presence. Data management online is becoming a series of lists, where things are new to old, or "most viewed" to "least viewed". Old information sinks to the bottom of the data pile, but sometimes is dug up by future visitors, or data Paleontologists. Other data is ignored, the bones covered by successive layers of dust and data from other sources.


Cyborg Anthropology and the Extension of Physical Boundaries

Donna Haraway discusses the compression of dichotomies as a result of technology. “the cyborg myth is about transgressed boundaries [and] deepened dualisms of mind and body, animal and machine” (Haraway 1991:154). Instead of delineations between place and non-place, or delineations between public and private, the hybrid state decays the delineation between dichotomies and reduces it to a state the is neither public nor private, place or non-place, or 'here nor there'. Thus, non-place is not separate from place, but is both a place and a non-place at once.

The realm of the cell phone is a place that may be heard, and only liminally lived in. Augé defines the idea of the communication network as one that lies on the plane of extraterrestrial space (Augé, 1995:79). Thus the cell phone is a liminal extra-terrestrial space, or a space that is actually a place removed from place (the isolation of urban reality) that can be accessed simply by logging onto the Actor Network of cell phone users. It is natural that so many disconnected individuals would so quickly adopt a technology that allows them some semblance of former society, even though it is mediated by technology and a payment plan.


A Discussion of Haptic, Sensuous Architecture

Juhani Pallasmanaa states the following in the May 2000 edition of Architectural Review:

"The retinal-biased architecture of our time is clearly giving rise to a quest for a haptic architecture."

"Ashley Montagu sees a wider change taking place in Western consciousness: We in the Western world are beginning to discover our neglected senses. This growing awareness represents something of an overdue insurgency against the painful deprivation of sensory experience we have suffered in our technologized world'. [9] Our culture of control and speed has favoured the architecture of the eye, with its instantaneous imagery and distant impact, whereas haptic architecture promotes slowness and intimacy, appreciated and comprehended gradually as images of the body and the skin."

"The architecture of the eye detaches and controls, whereas haptic architecture engages and unites. Tactile sensibility replaces distancing visual imagery by enhanced materiality, nearness and intimacy."

"Flatness of surfaces and materials, uniformity of illumination, as well as the elimination of micro-climatic differences, further reinforce the tiresome and soporific uniformity of experience."

"All in all, the tendency of technological culture to standardize environmental conditions and make the environment entirely predictable is causing a serious sensory impoverishment. Our buildings have lost their opacity and depth, sensory invitation and discovery, mystery and shadow."

Source: HAPTICITY AND TIME. (discussion of haptic, sensuous architecture.) The Architectural Review | Date: 5/1/2000 | Author: Pallasmaa, Juhani.


That's all for now.


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