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TECH2002 Studies in Digital Technology Lecture Week 7

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  1. 1. TECH2002 Studies in Digital Technology Andrew Clay 7
  2. 2. 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>
  3. 3. virtuality <ul><li>Two people on the telephone – a ‘virtual co-presence’ in a ‘media setting’ </li></ul><ul><li>Broadcasting – live access to distant events of dispersed audiences </li></ul><ul><li>Computer-mediated communication (CMC) – dispersed participants inhabit a simulated common locality </li></ul>
  4. 4. Virtual worlds
  5. 6. virtual worlds 1995 1998 1997 2001 1995 2006
  6. 7. The Web as Remediation <ul><li>The Web has already passed through a number of different stages, though the ‘graphic Web’ predominates </li></ul><ul><li>It is eclectic and inclusive in the sense that it remediates almost all previous media </li></ul><ul><li>It offers the immediacy of networked communication and the liveness of the Web is a refashioned version of broadcast television (Bolter and Grusin, 2000, p.197) </li></ul><ul><li>Telepresence – acting remotely via a simulation </li></ul>
  7. 8. MySpace mashup <ul><li>place, connection, linkage, </li></ul><ul><li>MySpace and Google Maps </li></ul><ul><li>‘ a place for friends’ as if the space you are given is more physical than memory on a hard drive </li></ul>users of cyberspace become more visible as people in specific locations around the world
  8. 9. What is the Web? Tim Berners-Lee (2002) ‘ I am the inventor of the World Wide Web and the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)’
  9. 10. What is the Web? <ul><li>Global online store of knowledge… </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I created the World Wide Web (W3) to serve as the platform for a global, online store of knowledge, containing information from a diversity of sources, and accessible to Internet users around the world’. (Berners-Lee, 2002) </li></ul>
  10. 11. The first webpage (1990)
  11. 12. What is the Web? <ul><li>Multimedia connected documents </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The World Wide Web is a series of documents stored in different computers all over the Internet. Documents contain information stored in a variety of formats, including text, still images, sounds, and video’ (Berners-Lee, 2002) </li></ul>
  12. 13. What is the Web? <ul><li>A powerful basis of hypertext-linked documents </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The power of the web stems from the ability of a link to point to any document whatsoever its status or physical location’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Berners-Lee, 2002) </li></ul>
  13. 14. What is the Web? <ul><li>A distributed, international system with no centralised control </li></ul><ul><li>‘ It is my observation that the World Wide Web has become so popular because of its open, distributed, and easy-to-use nature’ (Berners-Lee, 2004) </li></ul>
  14. 15. Being Digital <ul><li>Characteristics of new media (Lister et al., 2003, p.13) </li></ul><ul><li>Digitality </li></ul><ul><li>Interactivity </li></ul><ul><li>Hypertextuality </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersal </li></ul><ul><li>Virtuality </li></ul>
  15. 16. Virtuality <ul><li>Virtuality – general quality or mode of existence – largely theoretical, academic concern </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual reality – widely used term used to refer to several different types of media </li></ul><ul><li>Cyberspace is produced by virtual reality </li></ul>
  16. 17. Virtual reality <ul><li>‘ T he sense of virtual is almost synonymous with ‘simulation’, if we understand this as meaning something that is ‘not really real’. </li></ul><ul><li>Accordingly, virtual reality becomes a simulated reality, more or less a fantasy world we can step in and out of by virtue of the technologies that allow humans to access’ (Lister et al., 2003, p.392) </li></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>Jaron Lanier used the term ‘virtual reality’ in the early 1980s and founded Virtual Programming Languages (VPL) Research, the first company to sell VR products (goggles and gloves) </li></ul><ul><li>In the late 1980s he lead the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, for both local and wide area networks, as well as the first ‘avatars’, or representations of users within such systems </li></ul><ul><li>Computers and people working together to augment human intelligence – one drive for the development of VR technologies </li></ul>
  18. 20. VR in feature films <ul><li>Lawnmower Man (1992) </li></ul><ul><li>Strange Days (1995) </li></ul><ul><li>eXistenZ (1999) </li></ul><ul><li>The Matrix (1999) </li></ul>
  19. 21. <ul><li>VR typifies the search for ‘immediacy’ in mediation, ‘experience without mediation’ (Bolter and Grusin, 1999, pp.22-23), a ‘quest for a transparent medium’ (Bolter and Grusin, 1999, p.162): </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Virtual reality is immersive, which means that it is a medium whose purpose is to disappear. This disappearing act, however, is made difficult by the apparatus that virtual reality requires’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Bolter and Grusin, 1999, pp.21-22) </li></ul>
  20. 22. <ul><li>Our response to the VR project (the possibility of mistaking VR for RL) is ambivalent – the boundary of VL/RL is something that triggers both fear (technophobia) and love (technophilia) of technology </li></ul>
  21. 23. <ul><li>‘ If prizes were awarded for the best oxymorons [apparent contradictions], virtual reality would certainly be a winner’ (Negroponte, 1995, p.116) </li></ul><ul><li>How can we say that virtual reality is not real when it is the effect of machines and our bodies that have a physical basis in the real world? </li></ul><ul><li>VR is a part of RL, a mediated experience of RL </li></ul><ul><li>The real is the current, the here and now. The future is a reality about to be realised, but currently virtual, ‘the future has a kind of reality that is not actual but virtual’ (Lister et al., 2003, p.392) </li></ul>
  22. 24. <ul><li>‘ To talk about the concept of the virtual is not just to speak of head-mounted display systems but also to take into account the ways in which experiences of the self and of identity are increasingly mediated in a virtual space’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Lister et al., 2003, p.37) </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>The field of study of virtuality is made up of a number of different media forms and technologies – network media, Internet/WWW, immersive, 3D and spectacular image technologies, screen-based multimedia, digital cinema, video and computer animation. </li></ul>
  23. 25. <ul><li>Two major intertwined reference points: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The immersive, interactive experiences provide by new forms of image and simulation technology, and the metaphysical ‘places’ and ‘spaces’ created by or within communications networks’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Lister et al., 2003, p.35)  </li></ul>
  24. 26. <ul><li>Immersive VR </li></ul><ul><li>the experiences of being conscious in one place (a virtual world) while the body is in another (the physical and material world) </li></ul><ul><li>the capacity of technology to simulate reality and generate fantasy </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual spaces of communication networks </li></ul><ul><li>identity formation away from the physical and everyday world association and community across space, boundaries and divisions </li></ul><ul><li>These virtual realities produce cyberspace </li></ul>
  25. 27. The Web and Cyberspace ‘ What is Cyberspace? Who Knows. What does it look like? Who is there? It might as well be these strange, long armed monkeys as anyone else’. (
  26. 28. spatial metaphors of computer communication
  27. 29. Definitions of Cyberspace <ul><li>‘ the conceptual space where computer networking hardware, network software and users converge. The term was originally coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel Neuromancer ’ (Gauntlett, 2000, p.220) </li></ul>
  28. 30. Definitions of Cyberspace <ul><li>‘ Term coined by the science fiction writer William Gibson to describe the ‘consensual hallucination’ of people working in computer networks adopted by network users as a (vague) expression for the common virtual or abstract space created and experienced in computer networks’ (Burnett and Marshall, 2003, p.204). </li></ul>
  29. 31. Neuromancer (1984) – ‘cyberpunk’ genre of science fiction <ul><li>cyberspace popularised as a ‘matrix’ experienced as a ‘collective hallucination’ </li></ul>
  30. 32. Definitions of Cyberspace <ul><li>‘ The use of the term “cyberspace” to describe virtual worlds grew out of science fiction, but for many of us, cyberspace is now part of the routines of everyday life. When we read our electronic mail or send postings to an electronic bulletin board or make an airline reservation over a computer network, we are in cyberspace’ (Turkle, 1996, p.9) </li></ul>
  31. 33. Definitions of Cyberspace <ul><li>‘ Cyberspace is imaginary space, it has non-physicality, it is a spatial metaphor’ (Miller, 1999) </li></ul>
  32. 34. Web Spaces <ul><li>If websites are spatial, what kind of spaces are they? </li></ul><ul><li>Chat rooms, homepages, multi-user domains (MUDS), visitors </li></ul>
  33. 35. Cyberspace <ul><li>Cyberspace is part of ‘meatspace’ (real space) </li></ul><ul><li>An imaginary place produced by our interaction with computer networks </li></ul><ul><li>A distinctive conceptual place where people ‘go’ when they access computer networks </li></ul><ul><li>The web is part of cyberspace, an imaginary place produced by our interaction with computer networks </li></ul>Slide 13 on Slide 35
  34. 36. Cyberspace <ul><li>an idea about the way that web technologies conceptually, not literally, allow users to have a sense of being in a ‘place’ between the entry points of network communication such as computer screens </li></ul><ul><li>This brings us back to the virtuality of media and issues such as online identity and community </li></ul><ul><li>The websites that are used as part of online communication are popularly referred to as being in cyberspace . </li></ul>
  35. 37. Cyberspace <ul><li>Any website is data stored on a server in a real place and therefore websites belong to real space and to cyberspace, a conceptual space ‘beyond the monitor screen’ </li></ul><ul><li>Cyberspace is not something that most people think about, but it remains a current way of referring to internet content such as the web </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  36. 38. Cyberspace <ul><li>a sense in which we travel, we go, we enter spaces, when we use network communication without leaving our seats </li></ul><ul><li>Second Life users are called ‘residents’ as if they are actually living in a real space </li></ul><ul><li>text-based sites are less-obviously spatial, although individual pages and sites are part of an imagined space that we can explore or ‘surf’. </li></ul>
  37. 39. Cyberspace <ul><li>the term ‘cyberspace’ should not be used uncritically to refer to some theoretical ‘space’ that can transcend the reality of everyday life </li></ul><ul><li>media are experienced in the real life of socially and geographically located individuals, and not in some independent world with its own dimensions and rules </li></ul><ul><li>the key is to identify where a notion of cyberspace seems to be important and study how this is important to the users of digital media </li></ul>
  38. 40. T he ‘metaverse’ and the 3D Web <ul><li>metaverse – a virtual reality internet based on 3D avatar electronic communication </li></ul>(1992)
  39. 41.
  40. 42. Virtual worlds <ul><li>Virtual worlds offer an opportunity for people to interact online with a sense of telepresence that is very particular and different to other media apart from videogames. They are spaces that are growing in popularity very quickly and they combine many of the elements that associated with Web 2.0 - social networking, connectivity, collaboration and community </li></ul>
  41. 43. ‘ residents’ (2003)
  42. 44. Summary <ul><li>The World Wide Web is a series of documents stored in different computers accessible via the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>The Web is part of a conceptual cyberspace of electronic communication ‘beyond the screen’ </li></ul><ul><li>Virtuality is a mode of existence experienced through electronically mediated communication </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual reality and cyberspace are concepts that express our experience of immersive simulation and network communication media </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual worlds and videogames are the most advanced 3D Web ‘spaces ’ </li></ul>
  43. 46. Watch the demo videos at
  44. 47. Bibliography Berners-Lee, T. (2002) Declaration [WWW] Available at (Accessed 10 November 2004). Bolter, J. D. and Grusin, R. (1999) Remediation: Understanding New Media , Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press. Burnett, R. and Marshall, P. D. (2003) Web Theory: An Introduction , London and New York, Routledge. Gauntlett, D. and Horsley, R. (Eds.) (2004) Web.Studies (2nd Edition) , London, Arnold. Marshall, P.D. (2004) New Media Cultures , London, Arnold. Miller, L. (1999) Architecture of Cyberspace [WWW] Available at (Accessed 10th November 2004). Negroponte, N. (1995) Being Digital , London, Coronet. Turkle, S. (1996) Life on Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet , London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson .