Media Life 2009


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slideshow to introduce (in broad strokes) the key themes of my forthcoming book, titled "Media Life" (completion date: December 2010; publication date: 2011, contracted with Polity Press).

presentation file last update: 5 October 2009.

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  • From a 2003 study, we can see that only does the average American (regardless of age, class or gender) spend about 11 hours PER DAY using media - but he or she also does not realize nor remember their media use most of the time. in the twenty-first century, we navigate through a vast mass media environment unprecedented in human history. Yet our intimate familiarity with the media often allows us to take them for granted. Media use has become: automatic.
  • Presenter co-creation and presence: we do not witness and experience, we record and redact
  • Kowloon, Hong Kong
  • gated communities
  • According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the fastest growing group of American commuters are those who travel more than 90 minutes to work, and then another 90 minutes back home. For many Americans, life is increasingly lived behind the driver's wheel and the interior of the automobile is becoming the most familiar "living" space for many harried Americans. In its May 1, 2006 edition, Newsweek offers a unique perspective into the lives of what reporter Keith Naughton calls "extreme commuters." These workers drive from 50 to nearly 200 miles each way, to and from their place of work. Most leave well before the break of dawn and many return well after the sun has set. After the Industrial Revolution itself, this revolution in the way Americans work and spend their time getting to and from work may represent the largest single transformation in the way many Americans live. For example, Extreme Commuters are the 3.4 million people who commute 90 minutes or more each way to work. These folks are naturally very concerned about gas prices. They also have health issues because longer commutes are linked to obesity. A study found that every 30 minutes of driving increases your risk of becoming obese 3 percent. Why? One poll reports that 4 in 10 people say that when they're stuck in traffic, they eat. The person identified as "America's Longest Commuter" drives 372 miles round-trip each day, leaving his house every morning at 4:30 a.m. and getting home around 8:30 p.m.
  • Disconnection on demand
  • source 1: source 2:
  • GTA San Andreas: HOT COFFEE mod
  • percentage of marriages that started online:
  • Robert Dziekanski, Vancouver November 2007:
  • Online suicide 2005 in the UK: Chatroom users 'egged on father to kill himself live on webcam' Last updated at 00:07am on 24.03.07     A father-of-two hanged himself live over the internet in Britain's first 'cyber suicide'. Kevin Whitrick, 42, took his life after being goaded by dozens of chatroom users from across the world who initially believed he was play acting. But as they watched in horror, Mr Whitrick climbed onto a chair, smashed through a ceiling and then hanged himself with a piece of rope. Scroll down for more Kevin Neil Whitrick, 42, was found dead by police in Wellington, after being alerted by a web user who is thought to have watched in horror as the man harmed himself Stunned by what they had witnessed - broadcast on a popular chatroom website used by millions of people across the globe - chatroom users immediately contacted the police. Officers rushed to the electrician's home in the Wellington area of Shropshire within minutes, smashing down the door to try to save him. Kevin Whitrick had two 12-year-olds who he visited regularly But despite their efforts to save him, he was pronounced dead at the scene.Last night it emerged that Mr Whitrick had been suffering from depression after being badly injured in a car crash last year. Friends said that the breakdown of his marriage with wife, Paula - with whom he had 12-year-old twins - and the recent death of his father had also been causing him some distress. Mr Whitrick told users of web-chat site PalTalk what he was going to do two hours before he killed himself on Wednesday night. He was logged on with around 50 other users to a special "insult" chatroom where people "have a go at each other". Today distraught users of the site said that they felt sick and had previously thought the web broadcast was a hoax. They confirmed Mr Whitrick told friends in the internet chat room of his plans to kill himself but, thinking he was joking, they egged him on telling him to make sure the his webcam was on. Mr Whitrick, using the user-name Shyboy-17-1, switched on his webcam and went ahead with his grisly plan. One anonymous user said: "He tied a rope around an uncovered ceiling joist and stood on the chair as he tied the rope around his neck. "Some of us chatroom users, talking to Kevin over text chat, microphones and video tried to convince him to step down, but others egged him on telling him to get on with it. "We just couldn't believe he was doing it - it was surreal. "One chatter said: 'F***ing do it, get on with it, get it round your neck. For F***'s sake he can't even do this properly'." Another user who did not wish to be named said: "When Kevin stepped off the chair and was left dangling, the mood in the chatroom changed and people began to realise what they had just seen. "We started asking if anyone knew where he lived and saying they should contact the police. "I think someone contacted the police in their local area but sadly no one could get to him in time." Shortly after, moderators on the site closed the feed from Kevin's webcam. 'Considerate and kind' Mr Whitrick had been living in his flat, a converted house, after splitting from his wife Paula two years ago. The couple, who married in 1988, had 12-year-old twins Lewis and Melissa who live with their mother in a three-bedroom, semi-detached home close by. They are said to have visited their dad, who worked at family firm RMW electrical services in Shrewsbury, at weekends. His older brother Malcolm Whitrick is an associate director at Shrewsbury Town Football Club. Kevin Whitrick's sparse profile on the paltalk website Last night Mrs Whitrick said: "Kevin was a loving father and family man. He was always the life and soul of the party, an extremely considerate and kind person and loved by many, he will be so sadly missed by us all. "Unfortunately Kevin had a very serious car accident in July 2006 and had never fully recovered back to full health." Mr Whitrick's stepmother Betty Whitrick, 74, told the Mail: 'Kevin was a bubbly kind of person, full of fun. I just don't know why he would do this. "He lived alone but he always cheerful when I saw him. I knew he was very into computers and he also used to like playing bowls." Detective Chief Inspector Jon Groves who is leading the investigation said: "Our enquiries to date have revealed that Mr Whitrick was using a chat room with a number of other people at the time of his death. "We are liasing with the internet service provider at this time to contact other users who were online at the time of this incident and who may have information that could assist our enquiries. "We are also working to ensure that witness support facilities are available to those who may have been affected by what they saw." Sharon Atwal, who works in a cornershop opposite Mr Whitrick's flat, described him as "subdued" the last time she saw him. She said: "Every night he'd take eight cans of Boddington's bitter from the fridge and re-stock it with the cans from the shelf. He always seemed quite cheerful. "On Wednesday night, though, he didn't seem himself and it was the first night that he did not re-stock the fridge. It was as if he knew he wouldn't be coming back. "He always struck me as very happy, he was friendly and had two perfect kids. I cannot believe he has done this." Her brother Bobby added: "Kevin has lived in the flat for the past year and I have seen him every day without fail. "Last week, he told me about his chat room. He was excited and said he had set it up himself. He said he had been speaking to people in Australia on his webcam. "His two children used to visit at weekends. He had a very good relationship with them and always gave them lots of money to buy sweets." The case appears to echo that of Brandon Vedas, a 21 year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, who committed suicide online using a mix of alcohol and prescription medication. In that case people in the chat room egged the young man on, while others tried desperately to find his address. Local MP for the Wrekin, Mark Pritchard, said: "This is a very sad and rare incident. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. "It is important that the use of the internet in this death is fully investigated."
  • AP video: Web Suicide Viewed Live and Reaction Spur a Debate By BRIAN STELTER Published: November 24, 2008 For a 19-year-old community college student in Pembroke Pines, Fla., the message boards on were a place to post messages, at least 2,300 of them, including more than one about his suicidal impulses. In a post last year, he wrote that online forums had “become like a family to me.” “ I know its kinda sad,” the student, Abraham Biggs, wrote in parenthesis, adding that he posted about his “troubles and doubts” online because he did not want to talk to anyone about them in person. Last Wednesday, when Mr. Biggs posted a suicide note and listed the drug cocktail he intended to consume, the Web site hardly acted like a family. On, which includes discussions of numerous topics besides bodybuilding, and on a live video Web site,, Mr. Biggs was “egged on” by strangers who, investigators say, encouraged him to swallow the antidepressant pills that eventually killed him. Mr. Biggs’s case is the most recent example of a suicide that played out on the Internet. Live video of the death was shown online to scores of people, leading some viewers to cringe while others laughed. The case, which has prompted an outpouring of sympathy and second-guessing online, demonstrates the double-edged nature of online communities that millions of people flock to every day. Online communities “are like the crowd outside the building with the guy on the ledge,” Jeffrey Cole, a professor who studies technology’s effects on society at the University of Southern California . “Sometimes there is someone who gets involved and tries to talk him down. Often the crowd chants, ‘Jump, jump.’ They can enable suicide or help prevent it.” On blogs and forums last week, some people wondered whether Mr. Biggs had hoped that by broadcasting his suicide, he would attract attention and cause someone to intervene. Viewers eventually called the police, but only after he had lapsed into unconsciousness. The video streaming Web site,, said Monday that it hoped its members would be “more vigilant” in the future. It was not the first time someone had used the Web in this way. In Arizona in 2003, a man overdosed on drugs while writing about his actions in a chat room. In Britain last year, a man hanged himself while chatting online and webcasting. In both cases, other users reportedly encouraged the individual. Sometimes other users show support in troubling ways. In a number of well-publicized cases in Japan, South Korea and elsewhere, people have formed suicide pacts on the Internet and met in person to carry out their plans. “ If somebody threatens suicide or attempts suicide, it’s never a joke,” said Joshua Perper, the chief medical examiner for Broward County, where Mr. Biggs lived. “It always requires attention. It’s basically a cry for help.” Much of the evidence of Mr. Biggs’s suicide and the reactions of users was removed from and after his death was confirmed. But according to a chronology posted by a fellow user, Mr. Biggs listed the pills he had obtained and posted a suicide note that he had copied from another Web site. He directed people to his page on, where anyone can plug in a webcam and stream live video onto the Internet. In a chat room adjacent to the live video, the “joking and trash talking” continued after Mr. Biggs consumed the pills and lay on his bed, according to the user, who said he tried to reach the local police from his home in India. Several other concerned users called the police when it appeared that Mr. Biggs had stopped breathing. As officers entered the room, according to a screen capture of the incident that circulated online, 181 people were watching the video. In the chat room, users typed the acronyms for “oh my God” and “laugh out loud” before the police covered the webcam. After his death was confirmed, words of sympathy were interspersed with complaints about Mr. Biggs’s behavior on the free-wheeling “Miscellaneous” section of, where he frequently posted. Some users claimed that Mr. Biggs had threatened to commit suicide repeatedly in the past. Mr. Biggs’s family has said he suffered from bipolar disorder and was being treated for depression. Telephone messages left at the home of Mr. Biggs’s father, Abraham Biggs Sr., were not returned Sunday. But in an interview with The Associated Press, the father said he was appalled by the lack of responsiveness on the part of the users and the operators. “ As a human being, you don’t watch someone in trouble and sit back and just watch,” he said, before suggesting that “some kind of regulation is necessary.” The case remains under investigation by the Pembroke Pines Police Department. said in a statement, “As a result of this event we are confident that all online community members will be ever more vigilant in monitoring and protecting their fellow users in the future.” While sites like will remove content they find objectionable after the fact, the content of video sites and chat rooms are largely at the control of the users. M. David Rudd, chairman of the psychology department at Texas Tech University , said the Internet did not fully live up to its potential to help with suicide prevention. “Most of what’s available via the Internet only serves to make the problem worse,” Mr. Rudd said, whether it is information about how to commit suicide or immature comments from chat room users. Mr. Cole of the University of Southern California described the death of Alethea Gates, a teenager in New Zealand, who killed herself after using Google to read about different methods of suicide. Rather than blaming the Internet, her parents said they wished that the Google search had turned up links to suicide prevention Web sites. In effect, they wished the Web had shouted “step back from the ledge” instead of “jump.” (Many Google searches that include the word suicide include sponsored links to prevention Web sites.) Mr. Rudd said he believed that Mr. Biggs was not seeking an audience online. “ What he was really doing was expressing his ambivalence about dying and, in an awkward manner, asking for help,” he said. But the virtual nature of the community — distant, largely unaccountable and often seeking entertainment — was equally ambivalent. Hours after Mr. Biggs died, some of the forum users still sounded highly skeptical of the case. Others asked to see the video. “ The anonymous nature of these communities only emboldens the meanness or callousness of the people on these sites,” Mr. Cole said. “Rarely does it bring out greater compassion or consideration.”
  • In this global connection/togetherness, we are also completely alone: Silent Disco
  • Steve Mann:
  • Douglas Rushkoff
  • The Four Realities of Media Life
  • Glass consumer: We are all 'glass consumers'. Organisations know so much about us, they can almost see through us. Governments and businesses collect and process our personal information on a massive scale. Everything we do, and everywhere we go, leaves a trail. But is this in our interests? The glass consumer appraises this relentless scrutiny of consumers' lives. It reviews what is known about how personal information is used and examines the benefits and risks to consumers. The book takes the debate beyond privacy issues, arguing that we are living in a world in which - more than ever before - our personal information defines our opportunities in life.
  • What this means, is that we are all living inside our own TRUMAN SHOW, as the Jim Carrey character in the movie of that tile did: surrounded by omnipresent media, being recorded and monitored all the time, making and consuming media constantly, being connected to everyone else through increasingly digital, portable and networked media devices all the time - and unwilling or indeed unable to switch any of this off. The question now is: what skills and attitude do you need to cope with this kind of life? How do you survive inside your own Truman Show? THAT is what T101 is all about.
  • The Matrix is the “Platonic” treatment of reality: as an illusion mistaken for reality Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of the cave entrance, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. link PRISONERS with PANTOPTICON
  • British Journal of Psychiatry 2008
  • Always remember: Reality = open source
  • Media Life 2009

    1. 1. media life: a life lived in media
    2. 2. <ul><li>the elements of media life </li></ul><ul><li>the context of media life </li></ul><ul><li>what we do in media life </li></ul><ul><li>experiencing love, sex and death in media life </li></ul><ul><li>the reality of media life </li></ul>
    3. 3. media and life
    4. 4. concurrent media exposure
    5. 5. media using is media making
    6. 6. lived experience is mediated experience
    7. 8. life in a “redactional” society
    8. 9. the media life context: rapid global urbanization
    9. 10. electric cities: otaku towns
    10. 11. walled cities yesterday
    11. 12. tomorrow: “invisible” walls, electronic access
    12. 13. gated communities
    13. 14. “ home” theaters and media “rooms”
    14. 15. extreme commuter societies
    15. 16. the car as a social network
    16. 17. communities on the go: networked individualism
    17. 18. endless self-(re-)presentations
    18. 19. “ the extent to which people use social networking and promote themselves online will become more important in determining their careers than what school or university they went to.”
    19. 20. “ If you don’t brand yourself, Google will brand you” in: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Branding Yourself
    20. 21. the Droste effect
    21. 25. … but is every version really the same?
    22. 26. … and if not, which one is (more) really you?
    23. 27. Love
    24. 32. “ Network is not community and communication not integration - both safely equipped as they are with ‘disconnection on demand’ devices” - Zygmunt Bauman
    25. 33. Sex
    26. 35. 10% of total search engine requests are porn-related 1% of total websites are pornographic
    27. 36. sex in media life: real?
    28. 37. “ 31 percent of people have had an online conversation that has led to in-person sex.” Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy (2006)
    29. 38. sex in media life: solo?
    30. 40. teledildonics
    31. 41. Death
    32. 43. Robert Dziekanski (2007)
    33. 44. Kevin Whitrick (2007)
    34. 45. Abraham Biggs (2008)
    35. 46. &quot;And if it is a joke it is not funny and nor is this an appropriate outlet for such a serious matter Time for us to move on.&quot; - Demi Moore
    36. 47. making sense of death
    37. 48. love sex death in media life
    38. 49. isolation?
    39. 50. or connection?
    40. 51. &quot;[I]n order to an individual to immerse herself in the virtual space, the big Other has to be there, more powerful than ever in the guise of cyberspace itself , this directly universalized form of sociality which enables us to be connected with the entire world while sitting alone in front of a screen&quot; - Slavoj Žižek
    41. 52. all together, all alone
    42. 53. so what is our reality in media life really like?
    43. 54. “ [W]e begin to become aware of just how much of our reality is open source and up for discussion.” - Douglas Rushkoff
    44. 56. The Matrix Truman Show Wikiality Panopticon collective individual closed open
    45. 57. option one: reality is an illusion
    46. 58. option two: reality is collaborative and consensual
    47. 59. option three: reality is panoptic
    48. 60. option four: reality is a delusion
    49. 61. INTERVIEWER Why do you feel that Truman’s never come close to discovering the true nature of his world? CHRISTOF We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.
    50. 62. Plato, Matrix, “ True Man ”: missing the point
    51. 63. <ul><li>there is the sense that the ordinary is changed or different, and that there is particular significance in this </li></ul><ul><li>this is coupled with a searching for meaning </li></ul><ul><li>a profound alteration of subjective experience and of self-awareness, resulting in an unstable first-person perspective with varieties of depersonalization and derealization, disturbed sense of ownership, fluidity of the basic sense of identity, distortions of the stream of consciousness and experiences of disembodiment </li></ul>
    52. 65. Media Life 1.0