Nov 042014

This is a prezi from the research paper I gave at an Institute for Social Transformation Research (ISTR) seminar last week. I played with ideas going into several papers I am working on at the moment, but mainly my focus was on anticipatory materiality and the notion of liquid objects. Here is the abstract for the talk:

As internet-connected objects become more and more sociable – smart fridge, smart car, etc. – they become less and less ‘stable’ (think of rocks, coffee mugs, etc. as examples of material stability), and more and more like a twitter feed. 3D printing only compounds this process as the material is literally liquefied and injected based on computer code – in effect the code is primary, and tangible materiality is secondary in this process. The resulting materiality is literally ‘on demand’ – in that it exists as relational data first and foremost and as material artefact only when demanded; and anticipatory – in that the main characteristic of connected objects is their capacity to initiate action based on predictive algorithms. My argument is structured as a provocation examining the notion of anticipatory materiality in the context of the internet of things and 3D printing.

Oct 012014

This is a text I’ve been working on, or rather keeping in the back of my mind, for quite a while, and now it’s finished and sent to Fiberculture Journal. The early beta was presented at a conference in Istanbul in 2011, and my thinking on sociable objects has evolved quite a bit since then. The key shift in my thinking was facilitated by a series of chance encounters – discovering object oriented ontology through Ian Bogost’s Alien Phenomenology, finding the notion of affective resonance in Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, and rediscovering the heteroclite in Lorraine Daston’s awesome Things That Talk.

Sep 212014

This semester I’ve started uploading my lectures for DIGC202 Global Networks to YouTube, while abandoning the face-to-face lecture format in that subject. The obvious benefit of this shift is to allow students to engage with the lectures on their own terms – the lectures are broken into segments which can be accessed discretely or in a sequence, on any device, at any time. The legacy alternative would have been either attending a physical lecture or listening to the university-provided recording, which is an hour-long file hidden within the cavern of the university intranet, accessible only from a computer [must keep that knowledge away from prying eyes!], and, as a rule of thumb, of terrible quality. Anecdotal evidence from students already validates my decision to shift, as this gives them the ability to structure their learning activities in a format productive for them.

The meta-benefit is that the lectures – and therefore my labour – now exist within a generative value ecology on the open net, accessible to [gasp] people outside the university. On a more strategic level, I can now annotate the lectures as I go along, adding links to additional content which will only enrich the experience. In that sense the lectures stop being an end-product, an artefact of dead labour [dead as in dead-end], and become an open process.

The only downside I have had to deal with so far is that lecture preparation, delivery, and post-production takes me on average three times as long as the legacy model. I am still experimenting with the process and learning on the go – fail early, fail often.

I am uploading all lectures to a DIGC202 playlist, which can be accessed below:

Sep 192014

A few pics from my recent PC build, involving:

Level 10 GT Thermaltake case, MSI A88X G45 motherboard, XFX R9 270X GPU, AMD A10 7850K Kaveri CPU, 32GB combo G.Skill Ripjaws 2133MHz DDR3, Samsung 840 EVO Series 250GB SSD, Seagate Barracuda 1TB HDD, CoolerMaster V850 PSU.

The MSI motherboard comes with an o/c friendly BIOS, and I already overclocked the Ripjaws and the CPU – the OC Genie button on the motherboard allows presets for different o/c scenarios.


Click for album

Aug 222014

A thought-provoking look at the impact of massive automation on existing labor practices by C.G.P. Grey.

We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different. Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay. And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own. […]

This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable — through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply.

Jul 112014

The outpouring of raw emotion associated with the World Cup is, I think, the only reminder we have left of how humanity used to be before modernity, and everything that came after it, firmly took over. The passion, the tears, the raw joy, the metaphysical redeeming qualities of a late goal or a penalty shootout victory – these are now sold as marketing ploys of the FIFA brand, but reflect, as if through a darkened glass, what were once the expressions of passion in daily life. If you have witnessed people crying during an Easter Mass, or grown men bursting into tears because of a song, you have experienced a glimmer of that very same now disappearing culture. Those considering themselves flaneurs, or at least romantic enough to earn for the lost passions of a bygone civilization, have only the World Cup as a poor simulacrum of what it felt like to live then and there, in the time before the Mega-Machine. Here, then, is the Argentinian World Cup anthem, wonderfully politically-incorrect, emotional, tribal, taunting of their neighbors, as sung in shopping malls, stadiums, and on Copa Capabana:

Brasil, Decime que se siente

Tener en casa a tu papa

Seguro que aunque pasen los anos

Nunca lo vamos a olvidar

Que el diego te gambeteo

El cani te vacuno

Estas llorando desde Italia hasta hoy

A Messi lo vas a ver

La Copa nos va a traer

Maradona es mas grande que Pele

Jun 182014

This is my prezi from two back-to-back seminars I gave yesterday on the tech-enhanced learning philosophy behind the digital media and communications [DIGC] stream which I convene at UOW. The key message I tried to transmit is that you can only achieve the multiplier effect from social media if they are integrated within the subject and across the program – that is vertically and horizontally. I managed to achieve that in the DIGC stream, and we are on our way in fully achieving it in the Bachelor of Communication and Media degree. Interestingly enough, a common response to these ideas has been that – ‘you guys are very far ahead’ – which is definitely not the case. If anything we are trying to keep up with the rapid changes overtaking the education sector. I am afraid however that too many academics are firmly stuck in thinking of digital technology as a set of tools for fixing failures in assessment design and pedagogic philosophy [that is if there is any]. A typical thinking paradigm here is – students are not attending lectures, so what internet tool can I use to make them do it… I am afraid this pedagogic philosophy will be becoming more and more a luxury.