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TECH2002 Studies in Digital Technology Lecture Week 6

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  1. 1. TECH2002 Studies in Digital Technology Lecture Week 6: Cyberculture and mundane cyborg practice Andrew Clay 6
  2. 2. <ul><li>How are people using technology to explore being cybernetic organisms (cyborgs), hybrids of the human and the machine? </li></ul><ul><li>As ‘networked silicon intelligence embeds itself everywhere’, are we becoming ‘spatially extended cyborgs’ (Mitchell, 2003, pp.38-39) when we use technologies such as the internet or mobile phones? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Human Computer Interaction (HCI) <ul><li>Why do we want to connect to machines? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we make the inanimate animate? </li></ul>
  4. 4. blueBook project (Manolis Kelaidis)
  5. 7. Intelligent textiles – air guitar t-shirt
  6. 8. Beyond the Human <ul><li>Popular culture is replete with images of quasi-human/machines. </li></ul><ul><li>The cyborg is played out as a threat to humanity – to what it means to be human . </li></ul>
  7. 11. Cyborg <ul><li>Cyborg – cyb ernetic org anism </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrids of human-machine </li></ul><ul><li>Cybernetic systems constitute cyborgs by using biology and technology </li></ul><ul><li>Separable cyborg (pilot-aircraft, ear-hearing aid) </li></ul><ul><li>Invasive cybernetic technologies – Kevin Warwick </li></ul><ul><li>Prosthetic cybernetic technologies - Stelarc </li></ul><ul><li>hybrid (Donna Haraway) bio-technological world </li></ul>
  8. 12. Kevin Warwick
  9. 13. Slide 13
  10. 15.
  11. 16. Stelarc A third virtual arm Muscles stimulated by computers Connection to robotic prosthetics He wants a third ear
  12. 17. A new physiological entity? A network of organic and technological parts in a cybernetic circuit
  13. 18. The body is trapped by gravity
  14. 19. Stelarc <ul><li>‘ The body is neither a very efficient nor a very durable structure. It malfunctions often and fatigues quickly; its performance is determined by its age. It is susceptible to disease and is doomed to a certain and early death’. (Stelarc, 2000, p.561) </li></ul>
  15. 20. Stelarc <ul><li>‘ The body needs to be repositioned from the psycho realm of the biological to the cyber zone of the interface and extension – from genetic containment to electronic extrusion ’. </li></ul><ul><li>(Stelarc, 2000, p.560) </li></ul>
  16. 21. Stelarc <ul><li>‘ It is time to question whether a bipedal, breathing body with binocular vision and a 1400cc brain is an adequate biological form. It cannot cope with the quantity, complexity and quality of information it has accumulated…, it is biologically ill-equipped to cope with its new extra-terrestrial environment ’. (Stelarc, 2000, p.561) </li></ul>
  17. 22. Cyberculture <ul><li>Lister et al. use the term ‘cyberculture’ in two distinct ways (2003, p.385): </li></ul><ul><li>‘ culture and technology’ from cybernetics, of how people live with technology in digital, mechanical and industrial structures </li></ul><ul><li>theoretical study of the culture and technology of this ‘cyberculture’, and in particular an interest in the profound interrelationship between computer technology and culture in the contemporary world </li></ul>
  18. 23. Cyberculture <ul><li>Virtuality </li></ul><ul><li>Cyborg bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Identity </li></ul><ul><li>Cyberspace </li></ul><ul><li>Disembodiment / embodiment </li></ul><ul><li>Cybernetics </li></ul>
  19. 24. Cyberculture studies Computer and networked technologies biotechnology
  20. 25. Cyberpunk fiction 1984 disembodied cyberspace               
  21. 26. ‘ technoculture’ increasing incidence of human-machine convergence and interface cyberculture computers and networks biotechnology robotics artificial intelligence (AI) genetics
  22. 27. Cybernetics <ul><li>Cyber – ‘to steer’ (Greek) [ kybernetes , steersman] </li></ul><ul><li>The science of control and communication in animals and machines , biology and technology (Norbert Wiener) </li></ul><ul><li>Control </li></ul><ul><li>‘ smart’ machines </li></ul><ul><li>Cybernetic technologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thermostats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ballistic missiles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search engines </li></ul></ul>
  23. 28. Cybernetic Media Technologies <ul><li>Loop of constant information and energy exchange, a circuit of constancy of action and reaction </li></ul><ul><li>Temporary situation of being ‘in the loop’ or ‘plugged in’ to media such as cinema or videogames </li></ul>
  24. 29. a simple circuit between the brain and the cinema, the spectator is a cybernetic subject of the physical cinema
  25. 30. Videogames as Cybernetic Media <ul><li>In gaming </li></ul><ul><li>‘ the circuit serves to reduce the possibilities of motion and action and to amplify the remaining actions through a delicate balance of feedback mechanisms… Cybernetically, then, interactivity is a false description of a process of the programmed elimination of possible actions, not of creating possibilities of actions’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Lister et al., 2003, p.357) </li></ul>
  26. 31. Cybernetic Bodies <ul><li>People are no longer separable from the saturation of biology-technology, individually and environmentally </li></ul><ul><li>Technically a person with a surgical implant such as a pacemaker is a cyborg? </li></ul><ul><li>But what we really mean by cyborg is a creature that is constituted wholly of biological and technological components </li></ul>
  27. 32. Cybernetic Bodies <ul><li>‘ The contemporary intersection of the body, information and technology gives us a different body from the somewhat fixed and frail, if valiant body we were used to’ (Murphie and Potts, 2003, p.115) </li></ul>
  28. 33. Cyborg Issues <ul><li>Technology is increasingly integrated with the human body. </li></ul><ul><li>Technology is used to augment or replace human physical functions. </li></ul><ul><li>The ‘Frankenstein myth’ – are we acting outside of our moral capacity? </li></ul><ul><li>Do our values change when we are hybrid human -machines? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of politics do we need to ‘control’ or ‘regulate’ the development of cyborgs? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we now post-human ? </li></ul>
  29. 34. Cyborg Ethics <ul><li>If we can integrate the body with technology – do we need to reconsider the ethics of human action? </li></ul><ul><li>What empathy do we have with ‘ animalistic ’ organisms if we have become ‘ technological ’ organisms? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we consider our own identities if they are augmented by machines? </li></ul>
  30. 35. Being Post-Human <ul><li>High-tech culture challenges the notion of the ‘human’. </li></ul><ul><li>Boundaries between the ‘human’ and the ‘machine’ are transgressed . </li></ul><ul><li>Cyborgs can undertake tasks and roles that humans cannot or do not want to do </li></ul><ul><li>In embracing the cyborg we can re-define what it means to be human. </li></ul>
  31. 36.
  32. 37. mobile privatization mobility personalisation
  33. 38. Audio technoculture <ul><li>From portables to wearables </li></ul><ul><li>Internet dematerialisation of music </li></ul><ul><li>From environmental audio to embodied audio cyborg? </li></ul>
  34. 39. ‘ The second best part about the Nike+ running — the cool, video-game like part — is that you not only run, but you also get points for running . Your score ever-increases. Better still, if you set goals for yourself, you even get awesome virtual trophies and ribbons , resplendent in their vector beauty... And the coolest part about Nike+ running? Like any good online game, you can challenge your friends. First to 100 miles? Fastest 5-mile time? Your call’
  35. 40. <ul><li>‘ cyberculture in general is a highly physicalist environment in which the lines dividing biology from technology are erased by biotechnology, art and surgery. If cyberculture has a bias, then, it is not towards disembodiment but towards physicality’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Lister et al., 2003, p.376) </li></ul>
  36. 41. Me++ <ul><li>William J. Mitchell </li></ul><ul><li>the transformation of wireless technology in the hundred years since Marconi--the scaling up of networks and the scaling down of the apparatus for transmission and reception </li></ul><ul><li>This transformation has, in turn, changed our relationship with our surroundings and with each other. </li></ul><ul><li>ubiquitous, inescapable network interconnectivity </li></ul><ul><li>a world governed less and less by boundaries and more and more by connections </li></ul>
  37. 42. The cyborg self <ul><li>Mitchell suggests that there is a particular embodiment of technology through machines and computer networks that have extended our bodies as machines so that we have become part-machine or cyborgs: </li></ul><ul><li>I construct, and am constructed, in a mutually recursive process that continually </li></ul><ul><li>engages my fluid, permeable boundaries and my endlessly ramifying networks. I am a </li></ul><ul><li>spatially extended cyborg. </li></ul><ul><li>(Mitchell, 2003, p.39) </li></ul>
  38. 43. <ul><li>When I sat down to make a list of audio technoculture I wrote this: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Living room radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>45rpm vinyl </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ rock and roll’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transistor radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audiocassette reproducibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Walkman mobility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CD digitization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MP3 compression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MP3 player </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Napster </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Podcasting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  39. 44. Internet as technoculture? <ul><li>Web 2.0 and audio technoculture? </li></ul><ul><li>Case study </li></ul><ul><li>From broadcast to network? </li></ul><ul><li>A different physicality of audio technology? </li></ul>
  40. 45. and the cyborg self? <ul><li>Martin Stiksel, co-founder </li></ul><ul><li>‘ It’s a new music movement driven by the people, allowing everybody to become a DJ, and every musician to be played right next to Michael Jackson, if their music is up to it’ (Benedictus, 2006) </li></ul>
  41. 46. Social music networks and the cyborg self <ul><li>Network flows of information about music tastes </li></ul><ul><li>Connectivity between music consumers and producers (playlists and artists) </li></ul><ul><li>Expanding musical knowledge in your taste spectrum </li></ul><ul><li>From audience to DJ </li></ul><ul><li>An online radio station that ‘knows’ you through your musical tastes (identity) </li></ul>
  42. 47. media/theory (Moores, 2005) <ul><li>structuration, routines, traditions, dailiness, seriality, scheduling, ordinariness , hourliness, lifetime, eventfulness </li></ul><ul><li>globalisation, stretching, medium, shrinking, unevenness, network, flow, empires, permeability, virtuality </li></ul><ul><li>typology, mix, intimacy, grief, pathologisation, sociability, conversationalisation, face, friendliness, doubling </li></ul><ul><li>connotation, multiaccentuality, decoding, export, acts, context, technologies, tastes, fallacy, authentication </li></ul><ul><li>trust, inattention, reflexivity, risk, labour, performativity, MUDding, community, diasporas, dwellings </li></ul>
  43. 48. ordinariness <ul><li>Settled, familiar, known, taken-for-granted character of daily use of media </li></ul><ul><li>Television and radio – ‘ordinary’ media </li></ul><ul><li>Habitual, mundane, underwhelming predictable enjoyment </li></ul><ul><li>But this has been learned as the technology has been incorporated into everyday life </li></ul><ul><li>Are we learning to make network media ordinary? </li></ul><ul><li>What is extraordinary about new media? </li></ul>
  44. 49. Podcasting – ordinary – extraordinary?
  45. 50. Mundane cyborg practice (Petersen, 2007) <ul><li>Human-computer-internet action </li></ul>
  46. 51. <ul><li>‘ always on’ broadband internet has allowed it to become a mundane technology of ‘constant connectivity’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ mundane cyborg practice’ of human-computer-internet action </li></ul><ul><li>Study of 6 broadband users (students, unemployed academics) at 4 homes </li></ul><ul><li>48 hours of observation per home </li></ul><ul><li>Home – network of household connection </li></ul><ul><li>Time – habitual, repetitive browsing (news, blogs, email, IM) as part of the patterns of the day </li></ul><ul><li>Multifunctional spontaneous use as part of the everyday routines of home – as a flow and mixing of study, work, leisure </li></ul><ul><li>Remediation of previous tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Restructure of physical setting – closeness to computers </li></ul><ul><li>Ubiquitous computing and mobile phones : </li></ul><ul><li>‘ the experience of computing becomes more and more physical and material, underlining the fact that we will still go about our lives as mundane cyborgs’ (Petersen, 2007, p.89) </li></ul>
  47. 52. Conclusion <ul><li>How do you use computers as part of your everyday life as a ‘mundane cyborg practice? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you feel as though you are part of a growing technoculture or cyberculture? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the ordinariness or extraordinariness of human-computer-internet action? </li></ul>
  48. 53. Bibliography Benedictus, L. (2006), Martin Stiksel [WWW] Available at,,1939028,00.html (Accessed 6 November 2006). Lister, M. (et al.) (2003) New Media: A Critical Introduction , London and New York, Routledge. Mitchell, W. J. (2003) Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City , Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press. Moores, S. (2005) Media/Theory , London and New York, Routledge. Murphie, A. and Potts, J. (2003) Culture & Technology , Basingstoke, Palgrave. Petersen, S. M. (2007) Mundane Cyborg Practice: Material Aspects of Broadband Internet Use, Convergence 13:1. pp.79-91. Stelarc (2000) From Psycho-Body to Cyber-Systems: Images as Post- Human Entities, in Bell, D. and Kennedy, B. (Eds) The Cybercultures Reader , London and New York, Routledge.