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Third lecture in the series "Theories and Interpretation of Interactive Media (P2)"

Third lecture in the series "Theories and Interpretation of Interactive Media (P2)"

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P2 Lecture 3 P2 Lecture 3 Presentation Transcript

  • Theories and interpretation of interactive media 3 / Vuorovaikutteisen median teoriat ja tulkinta 3 Frans Mäyrä Professor of hypermedia, esp. digital culture and game studies University of Tampere, Hypermedia Laboratory frans.mayra@uta.fi
  • Lecture 3: “Web / networking”: Theories of Internet and World Wide Web
  • From a communications channel into a living environment • This lecture continues themes discussed last week in PC/communications lecture • The emphasis here is on discussions that interpret hypermedia in terms of a network, rather than a communications channel • Network is particular kind of structure, a web of relations • ‘Web’ or ‘network’ are very relevant concepts for understanding current culture and society, since they characterise many contemporary technologies, social processes and intellectual developments
  • Network theories • Multidisciplinary field: – mathematical network theories (graphs of nodes, edges and directed/undirected connections) – theories of technical/communications networks – network theories in natural sciences (complex systems, emergent behaviours, thermodynamics, kinetics) – social network theories (actor network theories, social network analysis) – network culture theories (on online subcultures, online art, collaboration, activism)
  • World Wide Web • Early experiments: oN-Line System, NLS (Douglas Engelbart), Project Xanadu (Ted Nelson) • Tim Berners-Lee proposed a linked information system (‘mesh’) for CERN in March 1989, and implemented the first World Wide Web system 1991 • Berners-Lee (1999, 3) has written how WWW evolved from his believe in power of “arranging ideas in an unconstrained, weblike way”: – Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked … Suppose I could program my computer to create a space in which anything could be linked to anything. (Ibid., 4.) To improve “our Weblike existence in the world.” (Ibid., 133.) Sources: Tim Berners-Lee (1989): “Information Management: A Proposal”. Online: http://www.nic.funet.fi/index/FUNET/history/internet/w3c/proposal.html Berners-Lee & Mark Fischetti (1999): Weaving the Web. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Critique of WWW • WWW architecture is very simple to implement, anyone can link to anywhere • Since the end-node maintainer need not to reciprocate, there is also ‘link rot’ (changed or removed address does not automatically update incoming links) • Basic WWW system remains static, as there is no way the reader of page can add notes or further links to a document • Ownership, responsibility and copyright payments are be difficult to implement or maintain as material is either completely locked away or completely open (cf. Xanadu) • Open world of WWW is also “messy”: it relies on multiple different applications, file formats and (sub)standards
  • Multiple evolutions • The “browser wars” were focused on additional functions that each new browser version was able to support • Later the standards provided by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) have lessened the role of browsers • It is now possible to have dynamic web pages using various scripts and programming techniques (e.g. AJAX, Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) • Rather than web of static pages, WWW starts to function like interactive software interfaces - a new kind of medium • Simultaneously, multiple services have been designed to make use of ‘power of networks’ in a socially and culturally oriented sense
  • Networks as social change • Rise of the Internet and WWW as key media coincides with the emergence of interpretations of society becoming “networked” • E.g. Manuel Castells (1996) argued that network is the new paradigm for modern society, and claimed that more significance is attached to flows of information than to flow of power • Often associated with globalization: work and production become redistributed in a manner that has powerful effects on global scale
  • van Dijk: Network Society
  • New media theory and social theories integrate • Numerous synthetic attempts have been produced to describe the role of WWW in comprehensive manner • In the following, Burnett & Marshall, Web Theory: An Introduction (2003) will be mostly used • Focus on “Internet culture” in areas related to globalization, political economy, regulation, communication, identity and aesthetics
  • Web as technology • The first perspective Burnett and Marshall highlight is one of technology and secondly that of cybernetics • In technologically determinist perspective, one can theorise how Web is a force that will fundamentally transform the society • Cybernetics is the ‘science of systems of control and communication in animals and machines’ (Wiener, Bateson) • Digitalisation of cultural information allows the associated social and cultural processes to become involved in programmed processes within the larger cybernetic, man- machine system of actions, reactions and feedback
  • Web culture • Web culture represents a new concentration on information and its directional flow • Web culture can produce dislocations of identity and community • Web culture facilitates the flow of information for the objectives of globalisation • As one part of wider developments in networked IT, web can also be part of increasing surveillance (panopticon - a structure for total loss of privacy)
  • Web as communication • Governed by mode of communication distinct from the broadcast model, Web is more open to approaches derived from linguistics and discourse theory • Communications in Web/Internet include all levels: interpersonal, group, organisational, mass communication, with the control variously distributed to participants • Metaphor of ‘loose web’ to describe the varying degrees of engagement with the full spectrum of media forms that all fit somewhere in the complex whole of today’s WWW
  • Webs of identity • Early cyberculture thinkers such as Sherry Turkle and Allucquere Rosanne Stone did put much emphasis on fluidity of identity, as acted out in construction of ‘virtual personas’ in the Internet • Radical postmodern theories, that mostly seem to apply within more extreme forms of Web culture • A more “mainstream” phenomenon is construction of personal home pages and how “self” is being represented through them • Burnett & Marshall argue that rather than in the area of reception, it is within the production of culture where the ‘loose Web’ will associated with broad-ranging social changes
  • Web aesthetics • Web aesthetics has distinctive look & feel and an impact on other media, but it is layered (a way of organising multiple conventions) • Collage aesthetics, consisting of text-only lists and menus, icons and other application elements, combined within graphically rich, interlinked interfaces • Web aesthetics is created in a constant tension between usability (pulling towards simplicity and established convention) and originality (playful innovation and subversive experimentation)
  • Web economy • Web economy radically collapsed in 2000, but has continued to grow steadily since then • In 2003, 77 million US persons used a computer at work, 55,5 % of total US employment* • In 2006 the global value of online shopping was estimated to reach US$218 billion, in Finland 3,3 billion euros** • Two mentalities, that of free information (the logic of public library, or cultural gift) and commercial activity often appear to conflict or compete Sources:* http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ciuaw.nr0.htm ** http://www.euromonitor.com/Online_shopping_sees_fraud_clouds_ahead http://www.deski.fi/page.php?page_id=11&tiedote_id=5261
  • Web and politics • In 1990s, Web became associated with ‘new economy’ - the vision of information society economics as based on information rather than material production • Multiple national information infrastructure initiatives were launched • Simultaneously ideas of privatisation, free market values and commodification of information became associated with ‘Internet economy’ • Still, such key concepts as author, creation, copy, or distribution become contested or redefined within the context of Web • E.g. Lawrence Lessig has argued that current copyright laws are harmful for public good • Another contested area remains in the area of free speech vs. regulation (e.g. violence, child pornography, racist or hatred speech)
  • News and the Web • Standard evaluation criteria for news in mass media include factualness, accuracy, completeness, and readability (McQuail, Media Performance. 1992) • Burnett & Marshall name as ‘informational news’ the new mode of news that is typical for the Web: – transformation of the reader/viewer/listener into the researcher – new kind of comfort with a range of multiple sources – the fluidity of media form – global community of interests – cf. personalised, or socially filtered news services (Google News, Digg.com, del.icio.us social bookmarking service)
  • Web of entertainment • Examples of entertainment industry’s troubles with the Internet are particularly visible: – industry underestimated the impact of digital music and downloads – industry perceives mp3 files and filesharing services as threats rather than opportunities – sharing music fans are treated as criminals rather than as early adopters or trendsetters – cf. a recent major Canadian study which points out that those who download music from P2P networks also buy more music CDs than those who do not* Source:* http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/site/ippd-dppi.nsf/en/h_ip01456e.html
  • Social Web / Web 2.0 • Much research focused on ‘Semantic Web’ • Simultaneously major popular attention driven to ‘social media’ or ‘Web 2.0’ • New wave of easily accessible, dynamic web sites which rely on social connections and networking around some particular interest or function • “Web 2.0” concept was coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004 • New services also often associated with “emergence”
  • Emergence • Study of complex systems has pointed out how higher level patterns can arise from multiple simple interactions or events • Within even a single web service, there might be population level phenomena which exhibit emergent characteristics • The Web as a whole can also be understood in terms of “small world network” where every page is linked to every other page through small number of hops • A “power law” is also in effect: small number of Web pages gets majority of links and visitors, while majority of pages (the “long tail”) are rarely linked to or visited Image source: www.wikimedia.org