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ICA 2011 - Lindsay Ems -  Media Life Dissent at a Distance
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ICA 2011 - Lindsay Ems - Media Life Dissent at a Distance






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  • I am representing a group of scholars from IU who study media from a distinct perspective. We are an interdisciplinary group who feels that our research benefits not from adding the perspectives of sociology, psychology, education, computer science and media studies together but from examining the flaws of each perspective and by using these comparisons and collisions (kind of like rubbing them together like dry twigs) to spark new hypotheses and questions. The Media Life Perspective as outlined by Mark Deuze is both theory and practice, both ontological and epistemological: its how we (can) know the world and our role in it.
  • RFID tags in hands with health care information. In some places you can pay for things by swiping your hand. Tyler Clementi committed suicide because his sexual orientation was made public online.By taking this stance, we can move beyond the question of whether media causes revolutions. We do not take a society-centric or technology-centric point of view. We argue that moving beyond this question allows us to posit new empirically based hypotheses and research questions that focus on understanding modern subjectivities, culture and social structures.
  • We can’t know our world or our place in it without media today. This is not new. We’ve always told stories in order for people to learn what their role was and what their heritage was in society. Today our stories are not oral they are digitally produced images, videos, sounds and text.
  • Upper left: spiderman on broadway. Lower left: spider man the movie. Right: spiderman comic book. Each of these formats creates a different kind of “user experience” and reveals the spiderman story in a different way. Technology and media have agency. Theorists and theories that we look to here include Actor Network Theory (Latour), Media Ecology Theory (McLuhan), Media System Dependency Theory (Ball-Rokeach and DeFleur) and post humanism theory (Foucault, Hayles, Butler, Latour, Sloterdijk). All of these theories propose that technologies and media are cultural artifacts embedded within social structures. They have agency and reinforce existing social structures and forces.
  • Cultural forces are embedded in technologies and technologies shape human experience. By examining technologies we see social structures reflected back at us. It’s like looking in a mirror. We also adapt our behavior according to the images we see. Technologies make latent social phenomena manifest.
  • All of the revolutionary movements today have in common the fact that they are organized and experienced by many via mobile, screen-based communication tools. These are the media tools we use to tell stories and make sense of our lives today.
  • Because the protests are organized and experienced through mobile, screen-based communication tools, the physical protests become dislodged from geographic place. They happen in minds, through conversations which are largely independent of place. People being killed on the ground and people uploading videos in Berlin are both part of the protests and these activities reproduce one another.Furthermore, demonstrations have the structure of networks instead of traditional hierarchical organizations. A group of protesters often is extremely diverse consisting of a number of small groups each with differing agendas.
  • Political apathy is on the rise. Why do we see so many protests at this particular time in history?
  • We argue that it is because today we can pick and choose what kind of life we live and what people know about us. We feel we can change reality based on our newfound ability to tell stories to people in places far away from us. We create our own realities, manicure them online and share them with people outside of our immediate surroundings. In short, our worldviews take on metaphysics of information technologies. (De Mul)

ICA 2011 - Lindsay Ems - Media Life Dissent at a Distance Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Lindsay Ems – Representing the Janissary Collective
    Indiana University Department of Telecommunications
  • 2. Media are not separate from life.
  • 3. We make sense of the world in media
  • 4. Media materiality matters.
  • 5. Examining how a technology works is a powerful
    way of finding out what it is to live as a particular
    kind of subject. – Brian Larkin
    “Every medium carries with it its own distinctive worldview or metaphysics"
    (Jos de Mul 2010: 89).
  • 6.
  • 7. Barry Wellman
  • 8. But why all of these protests now?
  • 9. Today we view reality as programmable
  • 10. From this theoretical approach what kinds of hypotheses can we now make?
    Space and place become part of the story that gets told about the events
    through media. They structure the story and the story structures our
    understanding of them.
    The constellation of participation in protest events looks like a network.
    There is no leader, each node seems to have equal status and power
    except those who occupy important positions in the network (switchers,
    If we indeed view our reality as programmable, our worldviews are taking
    on the metaphysics of technology.
  • 11. In sum, as we now live in media we can answer the question of why all of these protests are happening now with this quote from philosopher, VilemFlusser :
    ”We begin to liberate ourselves from the tyranny of alleged reality"
  • 12. Thank you!