Cultural Networks


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  • System – physical or abstract, cultural, economic, ecological, natural/manmade, computers etc Living systems / complex systems
  • Different levels of complexity – but also: different ways of looking / defining the ‘system’ Where are the boundaries you would set to identitfy an object in a complex system? What we SEE depends on the method of QUESTIONING Mitosis in onion root cells This is a region of a (semithin) longitudinal section of onion root taken from the meristematic zone; this is the undifferentiated region of plant tissue from which new cells are formed. Therefore, it is a region of high cell division. The cells in this image are in various stages of mitosis. Mitosis is the process of cell duplication in which two daughter cells are produced from a single parent cell containing the same amount of DNA. There are various stages in mitosis: the top layer of cells are all in interphase (the stage of DNA replication). The second layer down shows two cells (central) in prophase (DNA condenses into chromosomes and the mitotic spindle begins to form). The third row has a cell in early anaphase (chromosomes clearly attached to spindle and moving towards opposite poles) and two cells which have just divided and the daughter cells have not yet grown to their full size. The semithin section is so thin it has missed the nucleus in some of the cells, or has only cut through part of it so some look smaller in comparison to others.
  • Relationships are more important than ‘objects’ because objects are made up of relationships and systems themselves… Organisationally closed, but open to flows of energy & resources Ecoliteracy: learning how to live sustainably (put in as much as being used) Ecological systems have a cyclical nature, whereas industrial systems normally have a linear nature
  • What is the system? When talking about picturing trees, we do not normally consider the roots, but they are a major part of the system, connecting the tree to the earth and other plants…. Interdependence – 1.characteristic of a living system: All members are interconnected Mutual dependence Behaviour & Success of community depends on success and behaviour of individual, and vice versa
  • “ A sustainable human community is aware of the multiple relationships among its members. Nourishing the community means nourishing those relationships” Development of pond life, from depleted environment to rich ecosystem – unnatural spikes of algae growth for example are overcome by BIODIVERSITY If one or more variables are stressed to the limit, the system cannot compensate and may collapse ( lack of flexibility can be a factor)
  • “ A sustainable human community is aware of the multiple relationships among its members. Nourishing the community means nourishing those relationships” Development of pond life, from depleted environment to rich ecosystem – unnatural spikes of algae growth for example are overcome by BIODIVERSITY If one or more variables are stressed to the limit, the system cannot compensate and may collapse ( lack of flexibility can be a factor)
  • Parts interact in a system – it ’ s the interaction between parts that give rise to behaviours of the whole Complex Systems: Biology / Life (ant colonies, genetics, traffic) Mind (Learning, consciousness, brain/neurons) Cities Fractals Music Computer Science Art (generative)   Buildings, Roads, Bus: Technologies & Transport
  • Telecommunications use concentrates in cities Telecommunications and physical changes in cities push in similar directions: Social life depending on development of communications network as well as transport networks World financial centres of NY, London and Tokyo are hubs of global telecommunications investment & flows as well a hubs of global airline networks, national rail and road systems Optic fibres are being strung through water, gas and sewage ducts, between cities existing railway, road and waterway routes are often used - to save money Social patterns of access and exclusion to electronic spaces reflect the capitalist cities ’ areas of economic and social issues Close physical parallels between telecommunications and transport and utility networks
  • Relative or absolute substitution of physical flows by electronic flows and physical spaces by ‘virtual’ electronic spaces Teleworking: can telecommuting replace cost, stress and environmental effects of physical commuting? Can videoconferencing allow people to substitute for physical conferences and meetings? Can virtual communities substitute for physical contact? Will computer-mediated entertainment replace the physical theatres and cinemas of city centres? Will online banking replace face-to-face encounters in the bank?
  • Generating knock-on effects of developments Telecommunications generating extra transport trips because coordination of transport flows is more effective (social trips and transport movements) Converting ‘dead’ time of travel into ‘live’ working time - powerful mobile office technologies Generating extra transactions, such as phone banking, online banking or cash machines Communication technologies enabling offices to move from factroies and to centralise in business districts
  • The use of electronic space to enhance capability, efficiency and attractiveness of physical networks such as roads, railways, airline networks, energy and water systems For example, ‘dumb’ road space is wired up and can then be minutely controlled to maximise traffic loads
  • Loca deploys a network of bluetooth nodes around the city that enable it to potentially track anyone with a bluetooth device and send them messages. The content of these messages is informed firstly by tracking data that Loca network has gathered about you, and secondly by urban semantics, (the social meanings of places that you have been). - I.e. you could be sent a message “you were in a flower shop 30 minutes ago” - the artists are interested how that would make us feel. Other aspects of the Loca project include maps that illustrate peoples habits as inferred by data collected by the Loca network, strap-on devices that alert users to detect otherwise anonymous bluetooth scans, stickers that allow people to record the presence of digital identities in their physical environment, and the surveillance/counter-surveillance ‘Loca pack’ which enables you to start a similar project and hopes to inform people and make them aware of their right to privacy.
  • In Sonic City, a person's path through the streets of a city becomes a musical composition – a soundscape is created as a direct result of a user's state, actions, path through the streets, the physical landscape, and activities nearby. The result is a wearable prototype for exploring user experience and musical interaction. At the start of the project, we carried out mini-ethnographic studies of pedestrians. Observations revealed behavioral sequences that could be considered as compositions – for instance, patterns of glancing, changing course, and speed at crosswalks. The mapping of movement to sound had to be both transparent to the user and complex enough to sustain interest if the system were to be used day after day. We also considered it essential that the mapping would reflect scales of time and distances covered while walking in the city and maintain the distinction between continuity and discreteness of input. Sources of input selected during our urban observations + observations were therefore classified into two levels: low-level discrete and continuous factors coming directly from the sensors (see table), and high-level factors of general context and user actions resulting from abstractions of the low-level ones.
  • Dawkins: British ethologist & evolutionary biologist – mostly know for his campaign against creationism Kate Distin: “ In this context, ‘culture’ is not intended to be either a description of a narrow range of purely artistic pursuits or a synonym for society’ ‘ A society refers to an actual group of people and how they order their social relations. A culture refers to a body of socially transmitted information’ Meme – a ‘unit of culture’ Gene Theory – Meme Theory -> Darwinian principles of evolution - survival of REPLICATORS (of certain ideas or a complex of ideas)
  • 2007 – US programmer Eric Nakagawa – started as a website, turned into a blog ; own subculture with specific cirtieria for access and participation
  • 2007 – US programmer Eric Nakagawa – started as a website, turned into a blog ; own subculture with specific cirtieria for access and participation
  • What is Telematics: encompass telecommunications, computing, and media technologies in a converged form New telecommunications technologies are seen to directly cause urban change based on the linear notion that innovation leads to new technologies, which are then applied, used and go on to have effects and technological impacts upon society Decentralisation/ Dissolution of cities Free availabitliy of highly capable communications in all locations Shift towards city economics based on information Growth of culture based on tele-interaction Shift to an ‘immaterial’ urban life Growth of telecommuting
  • - Futurism: optimistic view of future impacts of telecommunications on cities - electronic spaces seen to have positive effects for urban life and being able to solve negative effects through technology - Utopianism: Search for a radically better and new forms of social life: technological promises - treatment of telecommunications as a solution to perceived problems (pollution, overcrowding, moral degradation, social disintegration) With networks apparently replacing the need to commute, travel to shop, enjoy high-quality teaching and museums, this infrastructure is heralded by many as the solution to a disparate range of problems - Assumption that electronic networks will be more democratic Access will be universal, overcoming social class divisions - telecommunications and computer making information ‘accessible to everyone. A universal consciousness will evolve, of information highways accessible to all individuals…
  • Economic, political and spatial restructuring not just driven by technological change, but capitalism - dominant institutions and large cooperations use it for their own benefit while excluding some users, -not neutral technologies, not equally available to all users loaded with values and intrinsically biased re-enforcing dominant position of multinational corporations
  • stress the degree to which human agency within social and political realms shape the ways in shi telecommunications are developed and applied Individuals, social groups and institutions have a choice in shaping design, development and application of technologies Designers base decisions not just on what ’s technically feasible, but on social and political grounds No single encompassing ‘impact’ on cities -> more complex
  • Search by people who are alienated by contemporary urban life, which can be repressive Create and dream and live in ways that they cannot in their real lives Can real face-to-face interaction and chance encounter, the richness of human urban experience, be substituted? Are virtual communities just fantasies through which we try to feel closer to each other? Cyberspace could be expereienced as segregated and devoid of trye public space
  • Cultural Networks

    1. 1. Cultural Networks Systems, Cities and MemesMarch 2012//Cultural Networks Seminar
    2. 2. Systems and Networks • Systems Theories: “Their essential, or ‘systemic’ properties are properties of the whole, which none of the parts have” Systemic properties are emergent – dependent on level of system, different properties may arise
    3. 3. Systems – Micro and Macro Poperties of a ‘system’ reveal themselves When looking at the behaviour of the •WHOLE •CONTEXT •ENVIRONMENTCredit Spike Walker, Wellcome ImagesCredit: Wellcome Library, London
    4. 4. The Inner Life of a Cell (2006)• TED talk by Medical animator David Bolinsky (in collaboration with Harvard University)•• Play from 6:40• Without narration:• cell/
    5. 5. System – maintenance and resources Cell: organised, closed system Exchange of energy / matter / information Membrane Metabolic network
    6. 6. Communication – Exchange of Information// Interdependence • How Plants Warn Each Other of Danger • environment-16916474
    7. 7. Partnership, Flexibility and Diversity • Partnerships – sustainable community – co- evolution – feedback loops – ideas and information flow freely • Pervasive cooperation – democracy and personal empowerment – elements of a successful community • Flexibility and Diversity – allow systems to react to outside disturbances & adapt to changing conditions • TOLERANCE LIMIT
    8. 8. Partnership, Flexibility and Diversity • Diverse system is more resilient because of overlaps in (ecological functions) • Ethnic & cultural diversity – different relationsihps – different ways of overcoming a problem • If web of relationships is not sustained – fragmentation, isolation, prejudice, friction
    9. 9. Social Network – City as a complex system
    10. 10. Cyberspace - Electronic Networks // Cityspace • Time/Space: “global village” • Logical links rather than physical paths • Navigation architecture/graphical interfaces vs. building facades architecture • Self-regulated moral codes • Power to design • Different social interaction based on common ground, not chance • Economic opportunities for small startups
    11. 11. MappingCity - Telecommunications relations • A range of different relationships between the physical form of urban spaces and the development of electronic spaces
    12. 12. MappingCity - Telecommunications relations • 1. Physical and developmental synergies NTL Broadband coverage 2004March 2007//Cyberspace and the City
    13. 13. MappingCity - Telecommunications relations • 2. Substitution effectMarch 2007//Cyberspace and the City MAC e-world
    14. 14. MappingCity - Telecommunications relations • 3. Generation effects Online mail-order companies generating business
    15. 15. MappingCity - Telecommunications relations • 4. Enhancement effectsMarch 2007//Cyberspace and the City Digital Bus Timetable UK
    16. 16. City and Cyberspace - Experimental projects Pushing the boundaries of converging technologies and spaces: • Loca • Sonic City
    17. 17. Loca • project on mobile media and surveillance; tracking the trail of digital identities that people leave through physical space.March 2007//Cyberspace and the City
    18. 18. Sonic City • exploring mobile interaction and wearable technology for everyday music creation • electronic music based on sensing bodily and environmental factors. • Mapping movement with real-time processing of concrete sounds, • generates a personal soundscape co-produced by physical movement, local activity, and urban ambiance. – Encounters, events, architecture, (mis)behaviours – all become means of interacting with or playing the city. • dex.html
    19. 19. Memes and Cultural Evolution of Ideas • Richard Dawkins – Cultural Evolution Theory: The Selfish Gene (1974) “Most of what is unusual about man can be summed up in one word: Culture” • Meme: a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes (
    20. 20. LOLCATZ • • Global running gag: not just for select few, but everyone involved – also in its evolution • Images with captions – have evolved a cultural spectrum of species and subspecies (HAPPYCAT) • Even ‘Kitty Pidgin’ has certain rules and standardized ‘grammar’ (or lack of)
    21. 21. LOLCATZ
    22. 22. Other Memes – Just Fun or Awareness? • Bonsai Kitten • KONY 2012 • africa-17336033
    23. 23. 4 approaches to studying city - telecommunications relations:Technological Determinism Telematics Technologies -> Urban impacts Technology, then, shapes destiny. Public actions do modify outcomes; social movements redirect them temporarily. But ultimately, how we live, where we live and near whom we live depend on the underlying forces inherent in technological evolution and subsequent economic change (Pascal, A. 1987; 597 - The Vanishing City) • Society adapts and learns to live with the effects, rather than shape them
    24. 24. 4 approaches to studying city - telecommunications relations:Utopianism / Futurism • Telematics technologies -> Solutions to social, economic, spatial and physical problems The idea that the clean, dematerialised solutions of electronic spaces will substitute for the material ills of commuting and pollution in urban places… Telematics networking has even been called the ‘alternative fuel’” (Graham, S. and Marvin, S. 2001; p.87 -Telecommunications and the City)
    25. 25. 4 approaches to studying city - telecommunications relations:Dystopian / Urban Political Economy • Capitalist political, economic and social relations – -> The design and application of telematics technology – -> Uneven social and spatial development within and between cities Telecommunications are not neutral technologies. They are not equally amenable to all users which can be envisaged; an inherent bias is already “locked in” to them, through the network design process (Gillespie, 1991; p.225 -Advanced communications networks, territorial integration and local development)
    26. 26. 4 approaches to studying city - telecommunications relations:Social & Political Construction ofTechnology (SCOT) Social & Political shaping by organisations and individuals – -> Use and application of telematics – -> Effects on cities Some design alternatives can be key policy choices in that they may bias a technology towards particular social uses and outcomes.[…] For example, a public information utility can be designed to block or facilitate interactive versus one-way communication. (Guthrie, K. and Dutton, W., 1992; p.307-319 - The politics of citizen access technology: the development of public information utilities in four cities) • Society influences technology
    27. 27. Virtual Communities and the Urban PublicSphere • Cyberspace reviving a sense of public sphere? Playfulness, spontaneity, imagination and desire are all diminished from the public and private domains of career-building. Only the messagerie, with its fictional self-constitution and perfect anonymity, offers an apparent respite from what has become for many a treadmill of reason. (Poster, M., 1990; p.120 - The Mode of Information: Poststructuralism and Social Context)
    28. 28. Cultural Networks: Systems, Cities and MemesMarch 2012//Cultural Networks Seminar