Week 5: Archive This Post

If I understand the term “archive” as a definition of a storage, collecting and organisation space for information to enable methodical access to the stored information, then it incorporates similar characteristics to what I understand of publishing. It is an ever evolving and changing process that aligns itself with recent technological developments and their advantages. When Gutenberg introduced the printing press, he probably and arguably also introduced the Christian reformation movement. He thus did not only introduce a new and powerful form of publishing, he also introduced new forms of archiving the bible, which therefore enhanced its accessibility and resulted in a revolutionary social movement. So archives, similarly to the publishing process, have already 500 years ago empowered information access and distribution as well as greatly impacted on established and seemingly sustainable social structures.

Within the past 500 years archives have however altered numerous times and have made significant impact on worldwide cultures and societies. In the age of the Internet we, as members of westernised societies, can choose from several archives to fulfil our demands and needs. If we were, for example, looking for an archive that collects and organises daily news and makes those accessible to us, we would probably decide to read a newspaper.

Jacques Derrida explains that all media on the one hand construct archives and simultaneously destroy others (Derrida, 1995). There are an infinite number of archives, which have developed and introduced newer versions of themselves or have even stayed the same. I would argue that in a broader context even institutions like UNSW are archives. Here I’m talking about that kind of archive that hasn’t really developed so much. The basic idea of organising education and knowledge, store it and make it accessible to students is a form of archiving, which is more than only a few hundred years old. Similar archivist functioning can be seen in individual people such as teachers. They know where to access the information they want to deliver and choose particular ways of storing and organising those.

Coming to newer forms of archiving we thus have to include the Internet into the discussion. I would argue that through the Internet, which has introduced a whole new genre of archives, the mode of access has particularly changed. Whereas we do not need to walk into a library anymore to then set up a membership in person, wait for the membership pass to be sent to one’s home by post to then walk back into the library to borrow a book, which we carry home to then read it. We can now do this whole process electronically. Google does not even require a membership for it. Our university library can also be accessed easily by entering electronic identification data to be eligible to read electronically saved information. No waiting for the post or hoping to find the actual book before someone else does. The organisation of libraries themselves as a physical space compared to an online portal is additionally very different and solely aligned with their underlying organisation technologies.

As the internet and its numerous archives is arguably the most accessed archive of today’s western society all mobile social media devices are a must have regardless of their own archiving capability. Jussi Parikka is so right when she says “ we are miniarchivists ourselves in this information society, which should be more aptly called an information management society” (Parikka, 2013). On the other hand I’m still wondering about the exact differences of archiving and information management… Nonetheless, iCloud, hard drives and the whole social media family are providing us with the new set of archives, their benefits and their requirements. I won’t go into depth, but how is my grandmother as a pre-mobile technology child supposed to access the same information that I am accessing?

Matthew Ogle argues that “providing us with new ways to share what we’re doing right now, the real time web also captures something we might not have created otherwise: a permanent record of event” (Ogle, 2010). He outlines the new content genre but also the missing out on remembering what past content was about. I argue against this approach of technological determinism. I think this is still a conscious socially determined action on how we use the Internet but I agree with Mr Ogle that we should try to use the gaps of our time’s archives for future benefits.

Overall, I have to say that whether social identification becomes weaker or stronger through archiving personal expression on social media is a subjective discussion to which I haven’t found the answer yet. But there is an obvious conclusion to something else. Developments of archiving impact on publishing as well as the other way around which will always impact on society and therefore on us individually. What we are going to do with these opportunities in the end is our responsibility. I would suggest that let’s look forward to them and use them for some constructive transformation rather than hating on everything new.

 

References:

  • Derrida, Jaques (1995) ‘Archive Fever – A Freudian Impression’, Diacritics, 25 (2), pp 9-63.
  • Ogle; Matthew (2010) ‘Archive Fever: A love letter to the post real-time web’, mattogle.com, December 16, http://mattogle.com/archivefever/.
  • 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.

 

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Week 4: I Can’t Think Of A Title And Found Only ‘Actor-Network Theory’ Too Lame. As An Independent Online Blogger I Decided That That’s Why This Is My Title.

David Banks explains what Mr Latour, Mr Callon and Mr Law named the Actor-Network Theory by defining that “ANT describes human and nonhuman ‘actants’ with the same language, and grants them equal amounts of agency within ‘webs’ or  ‘actor-networks’” (Banks, 2014). While reading other intelligent people’s works and attempts to define this arguably rather over-complicated system, I came to the conclusion that it is an approach to describe how network internal interaction consists of all its nodes, including human and non-human ones, working equally and on the same level together.

Thus I understand that I can only create this blog-post in order to have previous knowledge about the Actor-Network Theory, which several online readings kindly provided. To be able to access the websites that urge to explain the Actor-Network Theory as well as to post this blog, I need to have firstly an Information Communication Technology, a.k.a. my beautiful old and white MacBook, and access to the internet. Aiming to serve all my needs and desires, the Macbook incorporates numerous systems, technologies and electronics including the five basic elements storage, arithmetic and logical unit, control unit, input device, output device (ecsmy, 2014), which all again include a whole range of other devices, nodes and systems. All of them transmit information and obey orders and connect me with the internet as well as the internet with me. Similarly, the internet, with whom I stay in connection for publishing this piece of text, depends on systems such as infrastructure, telecommunication companies abilities and their employees’ effort to make our reciprocal connection work. The internet and I are in a state of communicational interchange, my MacBook serves me and my pre-knowledge of how to use Information Communication technology and the internet and the online publishing platform. This I gained over the last years from books, peers, friends, teachers, other communication devices and the internet itself through “learning by doing”, thus enable me to do this here.

This exercise teaches me that all these actors within my network all have to actively work to enable and influence my conscious participation in the network. As Sidorova & Sarker (2014) explain, I have to convince all of those network nodes and actors/actants to create an alignment for my interest with their interest.

Luckily, I know that we don’t have to take the Actor-Network Theory too literal as I would then have to consider relationship therapy with my motherboard instead of transferring the solely technological problem to a specialist in that big glass building on George street.

 

Reference List:

 

 

 

 

Week 3: Is there really an answer to which might be the best way of dealing with new forms of online publishing?

How profitable is it to go digital? Is there even profit? How can we manage to ‘stay modern’ and how will our business cope with the probable transition to digital publishing? These are the very questions that many publishers of print media might have asked themselves 10 or so years ago.

How can we increase the demand for our digital newspaper? How can we create interactive functions to satisfy the demands of our reactive audience and how can we simultaneously stay reliable? These are some of the questions that publishers of print and digital media might ask themselves today.

It seems a waste of energy, money and time finding out who can provide the most successful publishing platforms. I think this competition does not even have a fundamental basis as the new digital era of publishing offers extremely different forms of publishing that are not able to compete.

One example of the new publishing forms is YouTube. As the name clearly articulates, it provides its user with the possibility to autonomously produce, edit and publish individual content on an international, searchable and social interactive basis that is independent from time and space. It goes without saying that this new self-expressive tool is one of the many that showed how our society seemed to have craved for the chance to have a public voice and to create self-directed information. It also goes without saying that solely user-generated content incorporates another type of reliability and credibility than a finely researched and observed article in The New York Times.

New social trends and interests, such as performed on YouTube, forced traditional publishing to go with the flow and to react, transit and convert, while simultaneously staying with their original ethics. To increase the low revenues many people in the publishing business had to do career shifts and find themselves now in new job roles, such as freelance journalists, bloggers, online editors and online publishers etc. But the shift to a digital appearance wasn’t solely enough. Joe Coscarelli displays in his article “The New York Times Is Now Supported by Readers, Not Advertisers” how revenues continued to fall and how online advertising and introducing online subscriptions were the only ways to keep businesses going (Coscarelli, 2012).

One important aspect of this is outlined by Ken Doctor, who writes about the success of paywalls as not only being economically successful but also having shown that “it’s served as a statement that millions of readers value the Times enough to pay a fair amount of money for it. It shows people care” (Doctor, 2013), thus acknowledge its credibility.

Nonetheless, Mr Doctor talks about the issue of plateaued revenues in 2013 confronting publishers again with a new task to further develop their online self to keep the business going (Doctor,2013). I think it is quite obvious that an orientation on new/social media helps and impacts eventually on the profitability. Nowadays, all the digital newspapers have interlinks, similarly to those on Wikipedia, have interactive functions, where readers can provide feedback, and have an appearance on social media in form of an interactive member. These functions help a lot to stay timely and to use every opportunity the new era of publishing offers.

So what? What’s the moral of the story? I personally think that we all have to distinguish. On the one hand we have social media with all its functions and infinite publication and self-expression opportunities and on the other hand we have newspapers whose credible sources we don’t want to miss out on (at least I don’t). If we acknowledge that they are both completely different sources with varying opportunities, origins and philosophies behind them, there is no real competition or ultimate decision of whether to use the one or the other needed anymore. Why not gain benefits from both?

Of course there is the financial difference between those two forms and Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief at The Guardian, makes a fair point by reminding that paywalls contribute to the economic justification but speak against the idea of free journalism and the new sociological engagement with online information (Busfield, 2010). Nonetheless, I think if one isn’t an immediate eyewitness to current issues, reliable information provision depends on expertise knowledge, thorough research and professional presentation of findings. No one who is equipped with these characteristics would really execute them for nothing. Therefore I’m happy to pay for my online subscription but I also know where I can find live backchannels to major events presented in subjective online communities.

 

Refernece list:

Week 2: Stop complaining, start improving!

Digitalism has clearly introduced our world and society to a new era. It is the era of digitally networked societies, cultures and another step to forward globalisation. Additional key aspects, such as independency of time and space, infinite data space and no expiry date, have contributed to the beginning of another new era- the era of digital publishing.

Barbara Brannon evaluates in “The Laser Printer as an Agent of Change” several of the advantages that we gain from the technology of our time. She names searchability of text, the capability of linking related information, the ability to copy, paste and edit as well as the ability to output the same data in different forms or in different locations according to particular needs (Brannon, 2007). These are only a few of the characteristics that helped to create what McLuhan calls The Global Village. I think this is simply marvellous. Isn’t it amazing how we can all contribute to public discussions? How all of us can communicate with each other from anywhere in the world at any time with who ever we want to? Isn’t it remarkable how we can form like-minded communities beyond regional boundaries and extend our knowledge independently to what we want to know and not what others want us to know? Isn’t it incredible how we can participate in live-time communication about major events and therefore express ourselves in the way we want to present the “I”?

Of course there are always two sides of a story. Will Self is arguably right when he says that serious writing, especially in print, is at its end (Self, 2014) . Mike Shatzkin’s evaluations of the declining print media industry also contribute to that argument (Shatzkin, 2012). Print becomes too expensive and not profitable in times where everyone can be their own journalist, editor and publisher. It’s easier and cost free. This development led and leads without doubt to a flooding of content, or to put it more accurately it led and leads to violent anarchy in cyberspace. This clearly enables the expression of the vast masses of unreliable data or how Mr Self says “Surely if there’s one thing we have to be grateful for it’s that the web has put paid to such an egregious financial multiplier being applied to raw talentlessness” (Self, 2014).

I’m sure Self and Shatzkin and all the others who outline the fading of print media are right, but I’m not sure if it really is the death of print. Every trend causes a counter movement. I still certainly love reading hardcopy books and I’m sure a lot of other people do too.

Nevertheless, one important aspect in Self’s evaluation is that he admits that there still is high quality literature, text and content. I think the most important point here is to outline the existence of serious and meaningful, deep reading. It is only harder to access and find it within the jungle of the World Wide Web.

Why don’t we all spend our time, energy and money instead on the development of quality selection tools for new media than on complaining about its disadvantages? Wouldn’t that be a benefit to all of those struggling print publishing businesses, who could help support strengthening the quality of literature and use their abilities from print in digital? Maybe these kinds of selection tools embody new business opportunities?

Jonah Lehrer explains that it is the dorsal stream in our brain that is bored and that needs some new challenges from absorbing digital content because the media becomes too developed, the content perception too easy and the intellectual engagement too flat (Lehrer, 2010). So here you are, all of you who complain about the great development of digitalism. Please start to see all those weaknesses as opportunities for education, information distribution and business.

If you are missing an old outcome in the new situation, you need to find procedures to get similar outcomes within the new possibility set. I’m sure the medium is the message. Gertrude Stein already knew that in 1920. Now it’s left to us what we do with it.

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