Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reading, Thinking, & Reflecting Notes - January 20, 2012

  • New Media: The Key Concepts Chapters 1-4,
  •  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Chapters 1-5
Content Option #1 - Brief Summary
    The first four chapters of New Media: The Key Concepts introduced some basic yet essential terms, and began to provide a framework of concepts that will allow us to engage in the study of digital technologies.  Chapter 1 provided a general introduction of the text by including a rationale in its approach of using six primary concepts to analyze topics in new media studies.  The concepts to be covered in the text are network, information, interface, archive, interactivity, and simulation. Chapter 2 introduced the first concept, network. Chapter 3 introduced the second concept, information. Chapter 4 covered the third concept, interface. Some of the important terms and concepts found in these first four chapters are defined below in Content Option #2.
    The first five chapters of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? introduce several of the main characters and generally set the scene for the novel.  In this world, the World War Terminus has killed off millions of earth's living creatures, and a new "race" of androids is now living amongst the few "andys" (humans) that remain.  Chapter 3 gives somewhat of a historical background for how things came to be, while the following two chapters discuss some of the concerns and issues faced by the main characters.  So far, two of the most important characters the reader has been introduced to are Rick Deckard and John Isidore, but they live very different existences.
Content Option #2 - Key Terms/Concepts with Definitions/Descriptions (*from New Media: The Key Concepts)
new media - the definition of new media is a controversial one; some make a distinction between "digital communications" and "analog technologies" based on the type of processing each type involves (for example, continuous vs. discrete data), but others contest that the distinction is not so clear; however, one can distinguish 'new' media from 'old' media by considering that the former "operates through the production of numerical (predominantly binary) code."   (pg 6.)
continuous data - data not composed of indivisible units (pg. 6)
discrete data - data made up of distinct units such as pixels or bytes (pg. 6)
network - an infrastructre that connects computers to each other and to a range of external devices,... [enabling] users to communicate and exchange information (p.g 16); networks can have many different architectures or topologies (pg. 17)
LAN - a local area network; 'covers a small geographic area and connects devices in a single building or group of buildings,' and it can cover a 'larger area such as municipality, state, country, or the world' (pg. 16)
MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface; enables a master device to communicate information to attached 'slave units' (pg. 17)
protocol - a set of standards; needed to enable different machines and devices to communicate with each other; necessary to ensure compatibility between different media, particularly where networked devices may be products of different manufacturers (pg. 17)
network society - a theory proposed by Manuel Castells (1996); the concept of network might be useful for the analysis of contemporary social and cultural change (pg. 20)
social network analysis - view 'relations' as the basic units of social structure; looks at the density and texture of relations or connections between nodes, which might include 'individual people... groups, corporations, households, nation-states, or other collectivities'; connections are then measured, modeled, and visualized (pg. 24)
actor network theory - the question of the connection between the technological and the social, along with human and non-human connectivity (pg. 28)
information society - an information society centers upon the production, exchange, and consumption of information, which in turn becomes the prized commodity of new forms of capitalism that have been described variously as 'informational' (pg. 45)
informatics - the concept that nothing, in essence, can be coded as information (pg. 42); the politics of information (pg. 53)
information - in the most basic sense, it can be definted as "code" (pg. 43)
informationcritique - a practice involving a critique of information in which there is no separation between the critique and its object (pg. 51)
interface - conceptual devices that enable us to think across and beyond the [virtual - physical ] dualisms by calling attention to the common boundaries between two systems, devices or programs (pg. 53)
cultural interfaces - AKA "human-computer-cultural-interfaces"; structure the ways in which computers present and allow us to interact with cultural data (pg. 56)
pervasive interfaces - spatial forms that are tied to a broader set of social and cultural dynamics; example, "intelligent technologies" (pg. 61-62)
urban informatics - take the interface, and particularly its design, as the focal point of analysis (pg. 65)
Content Option #3 - Defintion of a Term ("Media")
Here is a link to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of "media":
Content Option #4 - Quotes with Discussion
The definition of "information society" stood out me in the reading.  "An information society centers upon the production, exchange, and consumption of information, which in turn becomes the prized commodity of new forms of capitalism that have been described variously as 'informational.'" (New Media: The Key Concepts, Chapter 3, pg. 43).
This quote really made me think about the events over the last week (and months!) that involved the looming threat of the SOPA and PIPA bills, that were to be voted on next Tuesday on Capitol Hill.  Many of the opponents were concerned that these bills would really only benefit large media corporations, and specifically the effects of internet piracy on their profits. These bills are real-time evidence of just how prized information can be as a commodity, and how we would all be affected if the information we basically have free access to now were somehow taken away from us.  It is interesting how we have become so accustomed as a society to have liberal access to this resource... I'll be interested to see if/how/when these bills might resurface in the future.   Something tells me it's just not over yet!
Format Option #1 - Hyperlink to Resources and Discussion
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 
    Book Review:
    Study Guide
Format Option #2 - Representative Image and Citation

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