This is an old blog, on which you can find new media theory posts and other musings.
The Hardship of a Blogger November 10, 2008
Even though I started this blog only recently and did a pretty good job keeping it updated at first, I must admit (and regular visitors probably already noticed this) I’m not much of a blogger. At least not frequency-wise. Sometimes I’m just too busy. Other times, I can’t find any inspiration. Either way: I don’t blog much. UvA lecturer Anne Helmond gave a lecture on the ‘Perceived Freshness Fetish’, in which she looks at her own blogging addiction and analyses why bloggers feel the need to update their blogs daily.
She divides this Perceived Freshness Fetish into two parts:
1. The ‘internal fetish’, a wish or demand for the blogger himself to update daily.
2. The ‘external fetish’, the requirement from blog search engines to blog daily, thereby achieving a certain ranking.
Looking at my own experiences with blogging, I think this fetish could very well explain the need for bloggers to blog. Once my blog was up, I had to post. Of course, no one orders me to do this. But my blog is what represents me on the Web and since I’ve created it I HAVE to keep it up. It’s something I feel internally. Perhaps this makes it more about others (the blog readers in this case) and less about me. Which makes me wonder: why am I blogging in the first place and who am I blogging for? I think it’s safe to say that I’m not just blogging for myself, I hope to reach a certain audience and receive some feedback.
Not being a natural blogger, I constantly struggle with the question if I should blog randomly just to add a post (keeping my stats up) or if I should hold out until there’s actually something interesting to write about. It’s not that I don’t enjoy keeping a blog, it’s just not second nature to me. I have to make an effort to blog.
The external fetish is also something I’ve experienced. If I do not update my blog on a regular basis, the amount of visitors, stats and rankings will drop and eventually my blog will be deeply buried somewhere in search engine algorithms, nowhere to be found when requested. This raises the ontological question: do I still ‘exist’ when I can’t be found on Google? How important is it for my online identity to be established and found on the Web?
In any case, this lecture introduces some interesting insights in the nature of the blogger.
Note: this is not an ‘I’m sorry blog’ post, as Anne describes. I will keep blogging, I just don’t know when. 😉
Workshop (De-)Constructing Information Visualization October 3, 2008
I attended a workshop on (De-)Constructing Information Visualization yesterday evening, led by Yuri Engelhardt and Christian Behrens, who are both specialized in information visualization and data visualization and information design. It was all about ‘exploring the notion of a ‘building block systems’ of visual language: Which basic visual coding principles can be identified as the building blocks of visualization? Which of these building blocks are appropriate for representing which kind of information? What are the ‘rules of the game’ for combining two, three, or many of these basic visual coding principles into meaningful and interesting visual representations?’, as they explain it themselves.
We got a brief introduction to the history of data and information visualization, and then started cutting and pasting and created our own data visualization graphics. We used different cards and figures to represent the data or ‘building blocks’ and tried to recreate existing data visualizations (charts, maps and graphs). This turned out to be a pretty hard concept to grasp, because it’s so abstract. We finally got the hang of it though, when we came up with our own data concept and a visualization to match.
PICNIC 08 – All Media September 25, 2008
I went to PICNIC 08 today, a three day conference on media technology, entertainment, art and science at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, where I attended the presentation All Media on which I wrote the following review.
Today’s themes in the E-Art Dome – presented by Virtueel Platform – are ecology, online life/social networking and mobility. The second presentation of the day is All Media, by Mieke Gerritzen and Koert van Mensvoort, which definitely fits those descriptions. Koert van Mensvoort starts off his presentation with a video of a bird making incredible sounds, some sounding not unlike a car alarm. He stresses that this video ‘is not media art, it’s an actual bird’. Next, is ‘the biggest visual power show’, an intellectual show that’s posed as a visionary statement, where the next nature is presented. Meaning that nature is increasingly controlled by man. Van Mensvoort calls this ‘a culturally emerged nature.’
Van Mensvoort says that our relation with nature is changing. Nature and culture are increasingly blending. He illustrates this with a few examples, like a picture he took on a nature walk of an odd looking tree, that actually turned out to be a cell phone antenne disguised as a pine tree. Or the fact that some people buy land from farmers and make this land look like it would have looked two thousand years ago. Nature becomes culture, and it’s also becoming progressively more of a product.
Later on in the presentation Van Mensvoort brings up several concepts like biomimic marketing and visualization. He claims that scientists these days are doing a lot of interesting things, like creating non-allergic cats or ‘victimless meat’ (meat grown in lab dishes). We are reshaping nature for commercial objectives. We are creating our own mix between nature and culture.
Van Mensvoort: ‘The born and the made are fusing. The born were already there, the made is what we are creating. We’re all messed up on our concepts nowadays.’
Does the DailyMe dissolve our social glue? September 21, 2008
The term ‘Daily Me’ was first coined in 1995 by author and MIT Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. Law professor Cass Sunstein took up this notion in his book Republic.com published in 2001 (he also wrote about it in the updated version Republic.com 2.0 published last year) on which he wrote: ‘It is some time in the future. Technology has greatly increased people’s ability to “filter” what they want to read, see, and hear. General interest newspapers and magazines are largely a thing of the past. The same is true of broadcasters. The idea of choosing “channel 4” or instead “channel 7” seems positively quaint. With the aid of a television or computer screen, and the Internet, you are able to design your own newspapers and magazines. Having dispensed with broadcasters, you can choose your own video programming, with movies, game shows, sports, shopping, and news of your choice. You mix and match.’ He decribed this utopian vision as a very possible threat to democracy and asks out loud if we really want these kind of applications.
Just four years later, in 2005, this idea of a Daily Me became reality when internet entrepeneur Eduardo Hauser founded DailyMe.com, a website that allows users to choose and sort their own content. They state: ‘DailyMe is changing the way news is read and delivered with its advanced news experience that meets the needs of modern-day consumers by combining the best of journalism, technology, and community. DailyMe is a news provider and content platform that allows you to customize, personalize, aggregate, share, and interact with the news, blogs, columns and stories that interest you. At DailyMe.com, users have access to three views of the news – editorialized, personalized and socialized.’
This second Microsoft commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld may even be stranger than the first one. I found a very positive review about the whole campaign, which you can read here. Although I don’t agree with the author completely, he does make a good point when he says: ‘Much like Seinfeld’s television show, the new ads really are about nothing.’
I’m very curious to see what you all think about it.