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Media, Controls, Freedoms

[MDCM3000 - Media Forms post]

Here are some places to go for weeks 8 and 9. Via these links, you can explore issues such as the future of journalism, new forms of media discussion and activism. There is also a small case study set of links concerning climate change.

Bold links are the most useful. Also, if you use Diigo or Delicious to tag sites you find, it’s useful if you also tag these sites as “mdcm3000″ and perhaps, for example, “digitaljournalism” or “climatechange”.

More specific links below, but, broadly speaking, it’s worth glancing through my links on these and related topics at:

Current and Future State of Journalism

This concerns more than journalism—in fact communications in general—but it’s relevant to journalism. Mark Pesce on new forms of power and communications (very succinct and powerful summary of the issues).

And here’s a very recent—and informative—discussion of the present and future of journalism in the New York Times. (registration, for free, might be required)


Swine Flu, Hype and Media


SourceWatch (lists the often hidden affiliations of various “experts” and institutions such as think tanks)

Documentary reflecting on series 5 of The Wire (warning: Spoilers! - go the The Wire - The Last Word)

New Kinds of News Sites


Open Democracy

and this on “daylife” kind of sites

The Daily Beast

Huffington Post

Global Internet Activism

Seed Magazine Videos on Design



Journalism, Recession and Climate Change

Virgance (”Activism 2.0″)

Climate Change/Global Warming

The Road to Copenhagen (Nature magazine on the current situation - a good primer)

Global Warming 101 (video below)

Propaganda and Skepticism Towards Climate Science

The Case of Ian Plimer’s recent book Heaven and Earth.

Brave New Climate

Jennifer Marohasy

The Science is Missing

Review of Ian Plimer’s earlier book

Deltoid on the graph that came from ..

“The Australian’s War on Science 35″

“The Australian’s War on Science 36″

The supposedly “silenced” Ian Plimer

Ian Plimer on ABC’s Lateline

The Australian’s initial Framing and Coverage of this Event (please note that none of the below is written by climate scientists),,25348271-11949,00.html,,25395523-16741,00.html,,25348908-16382,00.html,,25329958-20261,00.html,,25395364-17803,00.html

and, to be fair, here is a counter to Plimer’s arguments in the Australian,25197,25433327-25192,00.html

and once again in The Australian, long after the initial fuss, this devastating review,,25433059-5003900,00.html

and for some commenting/reporting on what’s currently happening in terms of policy in Australia–its-just-hot-air-20090508-axx8.html?page=-1

more …

The Age - The Skeptic’s Shadow of a Doubt

Why Isn’t the Brain Green?

Taking a Stand for Science

Anti-green Economics

The Global Warming Debate—A Layman’s Guide

Arguments from Global Warming Skeptics

What does it all mean?

Climate Disaster

Some Blogs



Real Climate

International Journal of Inactivism

Science News

Science Daily

Nature on Climate Change


and Climate Science related journals … for those who want to go to the source(s)

Alternative Economics


and finally, an interesting recent scandal concerning academic/science/medical publishing

Turing goes Wild

via Mitchell Whitelaw, some stunning videos by Jonathan McCabe that the designers among you will enjoy ..

turing pattern 1 from Jonathan McCabe on Vimeo.

Origami Butterfly from Jonathan McCabe on Vimeo.

Contemporary Communication isn’t Only About “Journalism”

[mdcm3000 - Media Forms post]

Here is an interesting example of where some more specialist magazines are going online—it also shows how there’s so much more to communication and “journalism” than “journalism”, and how some of the extended roles of newspapers are now dispersing throughout newer media.

It’s a video from a forthcoming series put online by the science magazine Seed, on contemporary design. Well known artist Natalie Jeremijenko (born Australia, now at Yale), talks about Environment Design. There are lots of other great videos on design there as well. Seed Design Series

“Sharing Power (Aussie Rules)”

Great post by Mark Pesce which powerfully outlines the fundamental issues involving contemporary communications—as these challenge established forms of power and social conventions.

Subtle Crossed Signals

Here’s a practical and subtle example of crossed signals - between still photography and video. We sometimes tend to think of “trans” anything as a relation between two distant and well-defined entities. Yet all kinds of interesting complexities emerge, and lovely shifts occur, in work with closer, smaller and hazier relations - such as those between close cousins video and still photography.

SCINTILLATION from Xavier Chassaing on Vimeo.

Not technically cross-signal processing, but a beautiful example of what it might be about.

Power and Models of Education

Ages ago I wrote an article called “Auditland” which I never published. In it, I wondered a lot about the new micro-controls over education. Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about these in relation to other aspects of education—the ease with which many of these controls are assumed as natural, the strangeness of the debates that surround education (for example, in which the Christian right in the US objects to cognitivist-based “mastery learning” because it doesn’t “break the will” of the child), but most of all I’ve been thinking about the relation between models, technics and what happens when these are brought into the mess of everyday experience.

So I’m interested in the power of models, their messy arrival in actual events, and in the power of education as a way that models come into the rest of society.

So this blog is about models of education for the most part, although I’ll also link up to interesting discussions and so on about other things to do with education.

The question I’m currently thinking about with regard to our media programs “network literacies project” (being convened by the amazing Mat Wall-Smith who is a great theorist as well as technician and educator), is again one of models. I can put this simply if I don’t have to answer the questions that arise. There are lots of models of education, but the most prominent since WW2 has undoubtedly been the “cognitivist” model. Human brains are like computers, with inputs, symbolic processing, and outputs, and human systems, such as education, should follow this. Thus the supposed need for everything to be defined in terms of learning outcomes, attributes etc. This seems to line everything up particular well when you bring education and technology together. However, what happens when you introduce feedback, when you can’t predict where the system will go? In short, how many of the standard models of education are thrown in the air, precisely by open access and new media interventions in the experience of learning? Michael Bauwens sums the event up well as “the maturation of network cultures as counter-institutions”.

I find this throwing in the air of the old models pretty exciting. It’s also something of relief. Here I will only quote a great book on Gregory Bateson by Noel Charlton:

He believes it possible that we can recover “the grace” of realizing our interrelated membership of the community of living organisms on the planet. The route to this realization is iva personal engagement with the more-than-rational processes of the natural world and of human art. Poetry, painting, dance, music, humor, metaphor, “the best of religion”, and “natural history” all offer to us the possibility of renewed access to the wisdom that we, as species, have gained during millions of years of evolution—now overlaid and rendered unavailable to us by our “self-conscious purposiveness” … he means that we have learned, through the centuries, to identiy single goals for our purposes. We have come to think of causality as a series of straight-line, “knock-on” effects that be managed by a single human “self”, in its own personal interests—without allowing for all the interpenetrating influences and effects flowing between each of us and the wider living world. (Gregory Bateson: Mind, Beauty, and the Sacred Earth, p1)

I’m not sure if I’m currently as optimistic as Charlton or Bateson, and I should quality the “spirituality” here as meaning something—in Bateson’s terms—to do with reconnecting to the world at large (Deleuze and Guattari said the problem is that we don’t believe in the world anymore). However, what excites about many aspects of education (and technology, networks, open access, new concepts, methods and models) is that there is so much movement towards inter-connection, relationality, complexity. It’s a great time to be involved in education.

“Trans” and “Post-post”

A very good friend of mine, a natural philosopher, once said “The world is full of everything”. We laughed—she was ahead of her time and we didn’t get it—but I’ve thought a lot about this ever since. It sums up what I think’s worth thinking about. I want to know about everything. I want to know how it comes together (or not). I want to know how it might sometimes come together differently. It’s this that led me to the crossroads (and crossed signals) between theory and technics.

By the latter I mean technologies, but I’m probably more interested in techniques or practices (and technologies themselves are a gathering of techniques). If there’s one thing that is constant for me—it’s an interest in how techniques (models and even concepts) work out, quite specific, in daily life. I didn’t know it at the time, but when I began directing theatre and performance works seriously at university and after, I was getting a thorough going over by the question of technique. As a director, you’re not only analysing what’s going on on the stage for weeks at a time. You’re also constantly trying to drag up some technique from the depths of everyone’s souls that is going to make what’s going on on stage work for an audience. I’m only now realising how much this experience has influenced everything else that followed. For one thing, the kind of theory I’m interested in, from Deleuze and Guattari’s “mecanosphere” or understanding of philosophy as the creation of concepts, to postconnectionist theories of thinking processes, is to do with how things work, technically—and again how understanding this allows them to change/be changed.

What do I mean by “theory” (transversal theory at that)? Well that’s a bit of a winding road. As an undergrad studying theatre and literature in the late 70s in Armidale, we didn’t do much “theory” as we know it now, not beyond Brecht and Aristotle in any case (Chekhov was my favourite). Then, the first time I tried my hand at a PhD, before I got distracted by the theatre again, I took up structuralism and theatre semiotics. I found it interesting but kind of stuck in a fairly fixed views of things. Encouraged, over games of Space Invaders and Galaga, by Tony Twaites, I quickly moved to post-structuralism and had it all sorted. I read Lacan’s Ecrits (it took me 3 months, 3 hours read 10 pages a day), Foucault’s The Order of Things (which I still think is a mess of a book), Derrida, Irigaray, Kristeva .. the whole canon. I was decidedly Post (modern, structuralism, Marxist, whatever) and had all the answers—a fix for everything. It was a lot of fun and I still love it all.

As it happens, however, I didn’t have all the answers (surprise, surprise). First up, my favourite supposed “postmodernists”, Deleuze and Guattari, explicitly hated postmodernism. They thought, along with most supposed “postmodernists” (who are actually usually critical of postmodern culture), that pomo was a vacuous if not dangerous expression of late Capitalism, marketing and apolitical banality. Second up, I became interested in a whole lot of other things. For one thing —via a great reading group run by my friend John Sutton—I became interested in “postconnectionist” cognitive science, eventually embodied and extended mind, human-computer interaction and neuroscience. Third, there was the eternal return from my past. I never really lost an interest in performance, and somewhere along the way had gained interests in technology and performance (currently in VJing, which I’ve enjoyed trying my hand at), art, and electronic music. More recently, all this has branched out into interests in critical accounts of performance management systems, education, the questions of models and concepts as they play out (rightly or wrongly) in culture and technics, biophilosophy and biopolitics, a questioning of innovation. I seem to be developing an interest in ecology, in Gregory Bateson, and in Buddhism, Whitehead, not to mention biosemiotics, new forms of collaboration, open access publishing, and most of this coming together in questions involving contemporary media (I edit an international refereed journal, the Fibreculture Journal, that deals with this)  … the world is full of everything. Luckily, over the last few years, I’ve been working with others with similar broad interests—I guess across philosophy, art, science and technics. In particular, I’ve had some great experiences with the people at Senselab in Montréal. It’s the reading and work I’m doing at the moment that might be seen as somewhat “post-post”.

I have to say for some weird reason I think it’s all coming together for me at the moment. This is partly in the ongoing question of technics, and partly through the connections across often previously heavily-defended territories as the whole world is not only full of everything, but goes transversal as everything connects up (a sad example is the synchronous economic crisis at the moment). A major research question at the moment concerns the tensions between territory and transversals in what are becoming very complex ecologies (for example, drawing together media, global warming, politics and the everyday technics of living). I guess, like a lot of people, I feel these kinds of issues are no longer obscure. Being trans and post-post are everyday experiences, and there’s an urgency to dealing with the complexity involved much better than we seem to be doing.

More specifically, I work on an Australian Research Council funded project I’m working on with Anna Munster, Brian Massumi and Adrian Mackenzie—Dynamic Media: Innovative Social and Artistic Development in New Media in Australia, Britain, Canada and Scandinavia since 1990. We’re currently building an online database for this. We’ve also interviewed a lot of interesting and innovative people, and hope to have some of that material online soon. It’s a comparative analysis—transversal in fact— and we’re particularly interested in the material ecologies of code as they challenge and transform older cultures and models based on concepts of representation.

I’m also writing a couple of books (but isn’t everyone?). I’m getting more involved with open access publishing, research, collaboration and education. I’d like to explore VJing and other forms of visual media from a creative practice perspective, and I have an ongoing interest in electronic music - Australian and otherwise.

So this blog could visit a lot of topics.

Facebook vs Ning (different understandings of social networking)

A great post on Snurblog about the differences between Facebook and Ning - but more importantly about how social network sites reflect different understandings of the social. Succinct and convincing.

Auditland is starting to look a little brittle at last

The I assume young but nevertheless venerable Larval Subjects has an excellent post on the destructive nature of what I’ve been calling “Auditland”, in which work practices are subject to the long and failed history of cognitive bureaucracy, that same bureaucracy founded not only by cold war scientists, but by the likes of Hayek, ironically in the supposed service of freedom. I’ve been working on this for a long time, whenever the anger subsides long enough - and I can escape said bureaucracy long enough - to work calmly and sensibly. In any case, here’s a draft of something I’ll probably try to cut back, improve and publish one day. I’ll leave it up for a while at least if anyone’s interested. It’s impossible long and perhaps clunky, but is maybe becoming at least a little timely.

Auditland- Education and Cognitive Labour

I guess I wanted to add something else on reflection. No, this is not the thing we all have to say at this juncture - “of course I’m in favour of quality” (well of course I am but I’m already enveloped in the rhetorical haze of Auditland the moment I say it). The final note is rather that Audit cultures resist even what would seem their own logical outcome, if such cultures were truly serious about the real world working better. They tend to haunt the non-Deleuzean middle ground of the great avoidance - avoidance of either what is going on on the ground, or of the more interestingly abstract, the theoretical, the idea. Occasionally you see glimpses of what might happen if audit culture drifted closer to the ground (I doubt we’ll ever see it head towards theory/ideas). A few years back I saw a news item on root cause analysis. Now I’m no friend of continuous improvement (ok - not that I’m against improvement, it’s just that I’d rather spend my time improving things than improving my improvement of things). However, at least root cause analysis sometimes finds that the problem might be the bureaucracy (in this case in the health system).

And if you see what happens when people really want things to work, it’s pretty amazing. I go to Denmark a lot and I’ve been lucky enough to talk with quite a few designers and academics there about innovation. What can I say - they really do seem to have figured out how to make things work (and they still go home at 4-30).

At the same time, maybe The Big Lebowski got it right. Maybe the question is about “what condition our condition is in”. Now there’s a question.

LOCO-MOTION - 14 theses and ghosts for locative and mobile media

This was a short (5-minute) presentation I gave last year at the College of Fine Arts, Sydney, for the New Mobilities Symposium. I was of course trying to write a longish article, but instead it’s a short manifesto. At the same time as presenting this, I showed a video of a slow-mo dog pouncing on a mobile phone. How serious was I? I don’t know really …

14 theses and 21 ghosts for locative and mobile media
Andrew Murphie

Mobile and locative media are now at the core of things. This is an unstable core. It’s this instability I’m interested in today. I’m not trying to “pin down” mobile and locative media. Rather I’m interesting in how what I’m calling “loco-motion” propels an ongoing variation in living and technical systems. This has implications for thinking about media, but also for much else. I’m also interested in loco-mobile media as inter-temporal. By this I don’t mean that we have lots of modes of living available to us, that we can switch between. Rather I’m suggesting that the switching itself is becoming our prime mode of living, not only with mobile phones, or locative media, but all media events, for example VJing.


1 - If ‘a body coincides with its own variati0n’ (Massumi) then mobile media coincide with their own variation

2 - Location is Mobile

3 - The Locative Opens a Field of Variation

4 - Loco-motion remakes communication - but not as communication studies style communication. Here “Communication is a mutual adjustment of
” (Sean Watson)

5 - Loco-motive battles are not over content, or communications, or intellectual property, but over affective distribution.

6 - Work with loco-motion is transdisciplinary, beyond even this perhaps. There are no “stable” media to pin down in a discipline. A self-satisfied Media Studies perishes.

7 - Mobility is often immobile, if immobile intensity. However, it’s also true that mobility creates mobility.

8 - It’s the phone that’s mobile, not you.

9 - Loco-motion resists “art”, but is good for chasings

10 - Loco-motion brings the “postcognitive” into fuller operation (Mark Amerika)

11 - New inter-temporalities proliferate.

12 - So do new “pre-accelerations” (Erin Manning). So do new preterritorialisations

13 - loco-motion is about targeting (servomechanisms rule the world in most spheres of life)

14 - loco-motion “fractalises” (Guattari) “the screen” and with it the society of spectacle (there is no attention, no “capture”, no time of the gaze, only inter-times)


1 - Location itself

2 - Mobility - it’s all around us, and yet ..

3 - that which remains hidden .. as Derrida once wrote, “The hidden theme is the hidden theme” (as Nick Mansfield was fond of quoting to me)

4 - Cognitive Capital

5 - Politics, that is, the Polis

6 - the haptic, the proprioceptive (and proprioceptive enslavement)

7 - down time

8 - possessions

9 - Possessions of Possession; Shamanism and Exorcism

10 - Animal Spirits

11 - Ghosts at the Edge of Infinity

12 - Ghosts with No Name (the asemiotic)

13 - Devas (that is, new forces of production that we might have to talk nicely to)

14 - the world (do we still believe in it, see it)

15 - abstraction - misplaced concreteness (Whitehead) and “concrete misplacedness” (Matthew Fuller)

16 - “Standard Objects” (Matthew Fuller)

17 - forgotten networks

18 - Work … as a separate activity from other activities

19 - Love … as assembled from non-standard objects

20 - the synaptic (Guattari)

21 - Escape