O'Reilly Webinar - Cyborg Anthropology: A Short Introduction


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Cyborg Anthropology is a way of understanding how we live as technosocially connected citizens in the modern era. Our cell phones, cars and laptops have turned us into cyborgs. What does it mean to extend the body into hyperspace? What are the implications to privacy, information and the formation of identity? Now that we have a second self, how do we protect it? This presentation will cover aspects of time and space compression, communication in the mobile era, evaporating interfaces and how to approach a rapidly changing information spaces.

Webinar Address: http://oreillynet.com/pub/e/1679

Published in: Education
  • Excellent information on cyborgs. We do not act now to place appropriate measures to control our dependencies, those days are not far where machines may study about anthropology :p
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  • Haraway proposes what she terms a "cyborg anthropology" to study the relation between the machine and the human, and she adds that it should proceed by "provocatively" reconceiving "the border relations among specific humans, other organisms, and machines" (52).Late twentieth century machines have made thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind and body, self-developing and externally designed…”
  • Based on this essay, and many other instances of needing a methodology to understand and describe rapidly changing sociocultural systems affected by technology, the idea of a “Cyborg Anthropology” was proposed at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 1993.
  • Based on this essay, and many other instances of needing a methodology to understand and describe rapidly changing sociocultural systems affected by technology, the idea of a “Cyborg Anthropology” was proposed at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 1993.
  • Based on this essay, and many other instances of needing a methodology to understand and describe rapidly changing sociocultural systems affected by technology, the idea of a “Cyborg Anthropology” was proposed at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in 1993.
  • This came from a 1960 paper on space travel
  • In Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, he warns of "a possible future in which the magnificence of humans as prosthetic gods is tempered by the ill-fitting and troublesome nature of our auxiliary organs” (11).
  • Michel Marriott, a novelist, about how he imagines the future for his characters. Mr. Marriott, who has just finished writing the sequel to his 2008 novel “The Skull Cage Key,” says that “the acceleration of obsolescence is breathtaking”.
  • Tim O’Reilly used the phrase "the architecture of participation" to describe the nature of systems that are designed for user contribution.The shape of a space affects how one can contribute – how one can represent themselves. Anthropologist danahboyd’s research on teens and social networks showed class differences between teens on MySpace and teens who migrated to Facebook. The difference lay in how each network allowed a presentation of self. On Twitter, one is represented by text. Status is open, and updates are controlled by the user. Facebook’s architecture morphs its users into a social structure of consumption and eavesdropping. A good software project or social network “can be seen to have a natural architecture of participation”. http://oreilly.com/pub/a/oreilly/tim/articles/architecture_of_participation.html
  • All of our boundaries are blurring together. In 1956, sociologist Erving Goffman wrote a book called “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”. In it, he talked about the different ways in which people present themselves depending on the situation. For instance, two children whispering to each other act differently towards each other than they might towards their parents. In the same way, a person at work might construct their professional self very differently than they would at home.
  • “When we think about our behavior in public, it has always been bounded by where we are. Only people within a certain distance can see what we do. Now, this isn't strictly true”, says Paul Adams, senior user experience researcher at Google. The problem is that the social networks we're creating online don't match the social networks we already have offline.
  • Paul Adams - When we think about our behavior in public, it has always been bounded by where we are. Only people within a certain distance can see what we do. Now, this isn't strictly true.
  • In co-creating your self with a digital device, you develop an identity in relation to others. This identity is either interesting or not interesting. If it is interesting, an ocular convergence, or set of virtual attention can attach itself to a virtual identity. This gives a person a certain amount of gravity with respect to others. One’s status updates must be technosocially attractive to viewers, or else identity loses gravity. Brands, and increasingly individuals, seek to increase gravity. Many of them fail. The ones who succeed become helpful, service-oriented personas, or they become icons of entertainment. Identity Production is the conscious production of identity through action, whether the action is physical, mental, virtual or both. The production of identity in virtual reality can occur on a social network, through text, image or video and can occur in small moments or large ones. Psychologist Sherry Turkle was one of the first to use the phrase “second self” to identify our bodies in virtual space. She considersthe computer not as a "tool," but as an extension of the psychological and social self in reality.Cyberspace allows one to sample the self – that is, choose which pieces of the self to present the self with. A person experiences thousands of moments every day. The moments one chooses to report shape one’s identity.
  • In 1995, Marc Auge wrote Non-Places – an introduction to supermodernity. A place is something in which one has “identity, relation and history”. According to Auge, places like airports and Subways are not places, because they offer the individual no identity, relation or history. They are only places betwixt and between here and there. They are places that are passed through, but not lived in. As mobile individual spends more and more time in non-places like airports or security lines, the individual self reaches out for something to do. This is why pod devices such as the iPhone and portable music player have become so popular. They provide us with reconnection to something familiar while we wait through the endless corridors and interface changes of lines and airports and public transit.
  • In traffic jams, everyone has the same feelings, but they’re not connected. They are separated by exoskeletons. No one can set foot on a highway. They are stuck, but unconnected. In this case, many people use cell phones or music to reconnect themselves to place. This technosocial interaction helps users to transcend the heaviness of a fully rendered physical body. If one’s physical self is stuck in traffic, one’s mental self can travel elsewhere, assisted by technosocial device.
  • In the same way, the modern individual passes through transitory spaces. The only way to reconnect the self to a place is to use a phone or music device. The public space has thus become a private one, where private conversations, texts and music are carried on by individuals as they go from one place to another. An airport gives no one identity, relation or history, but a cell phone or computer does. One can easily connect to virtual reality to escape the blandness of the physical one.
  • The Internet has drastically reduced the space and time it takes to create and experience events and time. This image was created by David Harvey to reflect how small our world became with each technological advance. This image did not take the Internet into account. Although the fastest planes can travel at the speed of sound, a hyperlink can travel near the speed of light. On Facebook, one can connect instantly to someone in another country. Geography is annihilated. If geography is annihilated, then this map is already outdated. What is a more accurate representation of what the technosocial world looks like?
  • We’re spending more and more of our time in what Linda Stone calls “Continuous Partial Attention”, or “Presence Lite”. The idea of one’s presence being “sort of” there in many places, instead of completely there in one place.
  • When multitasking, the brain does not store related memories in one place, but in small pieces. This causes performance and recall to suffer. One can easily see this when installing software while leaving other programs running, or downloading a bunch of images and storing them in different places all over the hard drive. The computer’s memory gets fragmented, much like a brain becomes fragmented. Mental hygiene becomes difficult, but important, in environments like these.
  • An Extended Nervous Systems leads to the need
  • Simultaneous time also causes social punctuation, as technosocial connectivity seeps into every part of social relations.
  • It’s not that we’re always connected, but that we have always ability to connect. This is ambient intimacy, where connectivity is only a button away. Where sharing and connecting with another is not defined by geography but technosocial capability.David Weinberger called it “continual partial friendship”, and Johnnie Moore pointed out that, “it’s not about being poked and prodded, it’s about exposing more surface area for others to connect with”.Sheldon Renan calls it “Loosely but deeply entangled”.Whatever you call it, it is a higher order of connectivity than we’ve ever experienced before as humans. We are beginning to see a new sense of time - the collective now.
  • And what we’re really seeing is that everything is a button away. We are mobile, and we need just in time information. In our mother’s wombs, all things came to us without us having to go anywhere. It is the same with the Smartphone. Even though we move around in time and space, we can increasingly access social and entertainment sentience via a single device.
  • Facebook has successful participation architecture because it brings everything to you, through understanding what you’re interested in. Instead of going out of your way to pick up the phone, write a letter or look at someone’s blog, all of the relevant status updates are brought right to you. Many are unrelated, but the architecture of Facebook is very good at making users consume data they didn’t even know they needed.In reality, Facebook is a giant spreadsheet with a billion rows of data. When you log on, it shows you the cells that have changed. Spreadsheets have never been so successful at gaining an audience.
  • We put all sorts of things into computers and devices. Photos, software, writing, ect. In reality, if you put a bunch of pictures into a room, that room gets full. When you put information into a hard drive, the hard drive stays the same weight. When you put information onto the Internet, you don’t feel the weight at all. The weight is being stored somewhere else.
  • If you take all of the material out of the average computer and print it out, what do you get?Cutwater agency did this in a campaign for Maxtor hard drives. They took 8 years of digital photos, printed them out, and stuck them together.
  • And this is what it looked like.
  • Instead of real memories, we’re beginning to have hyperlinked memories. Digital Anthropologist Michael Wesch talked about a bunch of kids getting together to hang out. In reality, kids try to one-up each other with the best stories. In this case, they were trying to link each other to the best YouTube videos. Memories had become hyperlinks. When one uploads images online, those images become hyperlinked memories. An address book or online document or E-mail is also a hyperlinked memory. It is an external memory stored outside the self for later access.
  • To get to these hyperlinked memories, we must become increasingly skilled virtual paleontologists. The E-mail inbox is the best example of this. Every day our memories and data is covered by a new layer of dust, spam, and items to be responded to. If we need something from our past, we must dig through the newly accumulated items in order to get it. But instead of using a hammer and a chisel, brush and field notebook, we use keywords and search results, tags and categories.
  • Now let’s talk about work and play.
  • In real life, the time and space between goals and accomplishments is often large. For some, it is physically impossible to achieve certain things, like purchasing a Ferrari or rising above middle management in their career path. Online gaming, especially sites like Farmville, step in to take care of that void. Whereas one doesn’t have the money, time or room for a real garden, Farmville gives you one without the backaching labor. All reality is replaced by small icons, and time is compressed so that goals and accomplishments are right next to one another. Everything has a point value and a reward. When real life takes so long to reward someone, online gaming is often a better and more enjoyable alternative. For those who spend a lot of time in reality, Foursquare is a good add-on for making the mundane exciting.
  • In a reputation economy, one levels up or down after gaining or losing friends or followers. How much one levels up depends on the quality and actual connectedness of a friend or follower.On Twitter, people with similar stats can talk to each other. Again, the Internet is not giving people stats, it is making visible stats that people already have between each other, and offering the opportunity for people in different geographies and times to connect with one another based on these stats.
  • The Tamagotchi was one of the first major virtual pets to hit the market. Since it’s introduction in 1996, over 70 million Tamagotchis have been sold. The toy is simple. Children and teens feed, train and clean up after a virtual pet through a few buttons on the screen. In return, the pet grows older. Teens took to the toys in school and became obsessive about maintaining them. Why? The virtual pet on the device exhibited signs of life – it had needs, grew, and died. Each of these aspects caused toy owners to become mentally attached to them, responding to the stimulus with the correct series of button presses.
  • Real life relationships are complex. They must be maintained, or they fade away. The cell phone, like the Tamagotchi, is a virtual way to feed relationships. Friends may be fed by button presses, and looked after. A mobile phone cries, and it must be picked up and soothed back to sleep. When it runs out of battery power it must be fed. Because the mobile phone requires attention, it too resembles a living creature. Cell phones now live in our pockets and wake us up in the morning. They are our dashboards for interfacing with friends, family and appointments. They connect us to the database on which we now live.
  • The Internet as Playground and factory is the best phrase I’ve found to describe what’s going on in the virtual and physical worlds. Foursquare makes it so that every venue in real life has a point value. Yelp makes it so that every place is an experience that can be reported on and shared. Facebook and Twitter turn everyday interactions into historical text.But each moment of play is also a moment of work. Each additional review, each status update, and every Foursquare check-in is work. Because it is fun, there is no friction to contributing. But it is still work. The Facebook database is updated by millions of unpaid workers every day, voluntarily contributing their content in order to receive responses and content and the release of oxytosin that comes with a community’s response to their contribution. The more one contributes to Facebook, the more information Facebook has on human interests and behavior. And the more information Facebook has on human interests and behavior, the more advertiser on Facebook pay for access to demographic data. Thus, we might say that Facebook has a sticky participation architecture. Once in, it’s hard to get out. It’s one of the easiest, and stickiest, ways to create a second self.
  • We covered a lot of topics here.
  • Let’s try a short scenario from the future.
  • People think about cyborg anthropology as something about the future. And it's not. We've already been Borged.
And people think about humans becoming more alien-like in the future. It's not like that. It's more about human beings being able to be whatever they are. Of course there's still the good and the bad. The struggle continues. But the one thing we've learned in the last 15 years is that the advanced things we think are highly technological are actually natural. The mechanics of networks are found throughout the world. All things really do want to be connected. Whether they're ladybird or highly developed organic systems. You can't have photosynthesis without connection and cooperation.
People want to work together. Things wants to work together. And matter wants to work together, because its job is made easier when it it's environment acts in a cooperative way. Whether it's whales singing across 2000 miles of liquid to join up and meet somewhere, or a few hundred interested individuals from all over the world attending an online webinar to discuss the future of humans and technology.----I was first attracted to cyborg anthropology because I was attracted to a better future. But what I learned is that cyborg anthropology isn't looking at the future. It's really just a way of trying to understand what is going on around us and what might happen to us as a result. Because of this, cyborg anthropology will eventually absorb all of anthropology, because anthropology is nothing more than a chronicle of humankind and its relationship and cultural reaction to tools. And now our tools are evolving much faster than we are.
  • O'Reilly Webinar - Cyborg Anthropology: A Short Introduction

    1. Cyborg<br />Anthropology<br />ashort introduction<br />by amber case<br />
    2. Cyborg Anthropology<br />
    3. acyborg manifesto<br />1991<br />donna harawayand non-human ally <br />
    4. cyborg anthropology launched as a <br />subdiscipline of anthropology at AAA <br />in 1992<br />
    5. macy meetings -anthropologists and scientists discussing humans and technology since 1941.<br />
    6. past applications:<br /> .reproductive technology <br /> .the human genome project<br /> .cancer research <br /> .immunologcal science<br /> .brain imaging practices <br /> .genetics clinics <br /> .artificial intelligence and expert systems <br /> .science and Marfan’s syndrome <br />
    7. current applications:<br /> .how the boundaries of technology and <br /> humanity are blurring together <br /> .privacy, identity and connectivity <br /> .mobile technology (Intel Anthropologists)<br /> .user experience design<br /> .digital phenomenology<br /> .information dispersal, storage and retrieval<br /> .physiological effects of technology on <br /> mental processes <br />
    8. traditional anthropology<br />
    9. “soon, perhaps, it will be impossible to tell where humans endand machines begin”<br />- maureenmchugh<br />
    10. cyborg anthropology<br />
    11. technologyand:<br />individuality<br /> time and space<br />community<br /> the public and the private<br /> work and play<br />this presentation<br />
    12. we are all <br />cyborgs<br />
    13. cyborg<br />an organism “to which exogenous components<br />have been added for the purpose of <br />adapting to new environments”<br />
    14. Univac 1 ~1951<br />
    15. prosthetics <br />and their <br />discontents<br />
    16. prosthetics <br />and their <br />discontents<br />
    17. prosthetics <br />and their <br />discontents<br />
    18. the fractal <br />production of<br />value<br />Images via Sustainable San Mateo and Designer<br />
    19. frictionless<br />value <br />production<br />Flickr:Ivan Walsh<br />
    20. towards<br />a value <br />crises<br />
    21. Photoshop <br />Tools <br />Over Time<br />
    22. sometimes we fail<br />
    23. participation<br />architecture<br />
    24. “social networks don't necessarily create more connections<br />they just make our existing connections more visible”<br />slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2<br />@padday UX at Google <br />
    25. boundary<br />extensions<br />
    26. slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2<br />@padday UX at Google <br />
    27. presentation <br />of self in <br />digital life<br />
    28. Brennan Novak @brennannovak<br />
    29. Present Day<br />
    30. maintaining<br />one’s<br />privacy<br />should be <br />a top <br />priority<br />slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-network-v2<br />@padday UX at Google <br />
    31. privacy on facebook<br />
    32. Identity<br />Production<br />and the <br />second <br />self<br />
    33. Privacy <br />in Public<br />Spaces<br />
    34. Timeand Space<br />Compression<br />Shrinking Map of the World <br />by David Harvey, 1989<br />
    35. 2 points<br />make a line<br />
    36. Technosocial<br />Wormholes<br />
    37. Simultaneous Time<br />
    38. Simultaneous Time<br />
    39. Psychological<br />Effects<br />
    40. Panic <br />architecture<br />
    41. Ambient Intimacy<br />LeisaReichelt<br />
    42. The Technosocial Womb<br />
    43. Spreadsheet Gaming<br />
    44. the<br />Automatic<br />Production<br />of Space<br />
    45. Hyperlinked<br />Memories<br />
    46. Persistent<br />Paleontology<br />
    47. Work and Play<br />
    48. Reality isn’t always fun<br />
    49. Reality isn’t always fast<br />
    50. Reality is +5 points!<br />
    51. Reality is 5 stars!<br />
    52. Accelerated Rewards<br />
    53. Level Ups<br />+1 Friend<br />+1 Follower<br />
    54. technosocial<br />training<br />wheels<br />
    55. virtual <br />friendships<br />
    56. a conference on technology and society<br />NYC, Nov. 12-14 2009<br />
    57. What next?<br />
    58. gps<br />ubiquitiouscomputing<br />query reduction<br />time and space<br />
    59. these redundant messages can be eliminated if you know where someone is.<br />
    60. the interface disappears<br />actions are reduced <br />queries are eliminated<br />
    61. a successful interface makes itself invisible<br />
    62. like electricityin your house!<br />
    63. your phone becomes a remote control for reality.<br />
    64. Transit<br />Case is in San Francisco, California<br />Flickr:GenoDM<br />
    65. proximal address notification<br />
    66. Wayfindingwith Non-Visual AR<br /> Haptic Compass <br /> http://www.sensebridge.net<br />
    67. Non-VisualAugmented Reality:<br />location-basedwith automatic check-ins based on GPS data<br />updates sent by SMS <br />
    68. But has this already been done?<br />
    69. Augmented<br />Reality<br />
    70. WearCam:the wearable camera<br />
    71. Self-Portrait of<br />Steve Mann with <br />Wearable Computing Apparatus <br />1981<br />
    72. Evolution of Prosthesis<br />
    73. Twiddler by HandyKeyCorporation<br />One-Handed Key Chording USB Keyboard<br />
    74. Types of Augmented Reality <br />collaborative shared reality<br />diminished reality<br />
    75. Flickr: PEEJ0E<br />
    76. image recognition, processing and replacement. <br />
    77. Remember the Milk<br />Contextual Notification Systems<br />Virtual Post-It Notes with Image Processing<br />1995<br />
    78. Persistent Architectures<br />
    79. Conclusions<br />
    80. Thank<br />You<br />Twitter: @caseorganic<br />E-mail:caseorganic@gmail.com<br />Slides:slideshare.net/caseorganic/<br />More at cyborganthropology.com<br />CyborgCamp<br />cyborgcamp.com<br />Geoloqi<br />geoloqi.com<br />