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Tag: lecture

On tangling with heteroclite objects

Here is a prezi from a lecture I gave at a postgraduate seminar on Actor Network Theory (ANT) and the Internet of Things (iot). The central concept of the talk was however the notion of the heteroclite and why ANT methodologies for world-encountering are useful when tangling with heteroclite objects. I use the heteroclite in the Baconian sense of a monstrous deviation, which by its very entry on stage creates collective entanglements demanding the mobilization of all sorts of dormant or obfuscated networks. For an example of a heteroclite currently being performed think of the Google car and how it deviates from the driver as an actor. I find the heteroclite a fascinating metaphor for dealing with hybrid objects.

Disruptive Media

This is a Prezi from a guest lecture on Disruptive Media I gave last week. The argument is organized around four concept provocations – artificial scarcity, big data, iFeudals, and hive-mind. Each provocation in turn is centered around a digital artifact, where my artifact zero is raw footage from the war in Syria, featuring a tank column dash-cam and a blurry recording from a rebel group attacking the same tank column. I then disassemble this artifact into the four conceptual threads structuring the provocations – the deluge of raw data, the absence/irrelevance of gatekeepers, the inability of content farms [legacy media] to deal with raw data, the power of the hivemind [reddit/4chan] to aggregate and process raw data. These being provocations I don’t provide any summary or an encapsulating framework; instead my coda is a quote from Gabe Newell that really resonated with me. It is from his keynote at the D.I.C.E. summit this year in which he charted a future for gaming built around open auction houses, free-to-play, and user generated content [watch it here], but it equally applies to the scenarios I describe: ‘We can’t compete with our own customers. Our customers have defeated us, not by a little, but by a lot [and that’s a good thing].’

The internet of things [lecture]

My last lecture for the Global Networks subject. I am discussing the arrival of the internet of things, and use some examples of early internet of things implementations from the Toyota Friend, through the Android Open Accessory dev kit, to Tales of Things and Itizen. I then discuss what it means for our notions of identity, privacy, and sociality when objects become active interlocutors and content producers in online conversations.


#mena #arabspring lecture

Prezi from a lecture I gave on the social network revolutions in the #mena region, mainly concentrating on case studies of Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Yemen. I start by drawing a broad conceptual framework around the notions of nodes with power, participatory culture, and the empowerment of peripheries in the context of hierarchical systems of information control. There are many ways to approach the still unfolding events of the #arabspring, but I chose to focus on the way individuals acted as catalysts and leveraged social networks to achieve critical mass both on and offline. In that respect I tried to underscore – in disagreement with the arguments of Evgeny Morozov – that it is crucial not to underestimate the role of social media such as youtube, facebook and twitter in creating scale-free network effects for the protest movements. I also focus on the role of women – Asmaa Mahfouz and Tawakel Karman – in inspiring, organizing and leading the protests in Egypt and Yemen respectively.

Counter-networks [lecture]

Prezi from a lecture on hackers, hacktivism, wikileaks, and a couple of other things. I start with the Enigma cryptanalysis effort (how else?), talk a bit about Rejewski and Turing, and then move on to phone phreaking in the 60s, early hacking crews (LoD, 414s, MoD, cDc), hacker subculture  [l33t sp34k], hacking in popular culture [nmap gets a mention], hacktivist case studies, and a bit on LulzSec and stuxnet.

Bridges made of pebbles [lecture]

Yet another prezi, from a lecture I gave on citizen journalism and new forms of news dissemination. I discuss digital content dynamics [scarcity/abundance, economy of access], the transition from gatekeeping to gatewatching [Axel Bruns],  analyse Slashdot and Reddit, and use Steven Johnson’s metaphor of Twitter story development as a suspension bridge made of pebbles to illustrate the rising value of aggregation.

From liquid labour to presence bleed [lecture]

Prezi from a lecture examining the influence of information networks on organisations and labour practices. To illustrate both dynamic, I am using notions such as network coordination and transaction costs, Mard Deuze’s notion of liquid labour, Norbert Wiener’s description of the feedback loop, and more importantly John Boyd’s OODA loop as a visualization of the way networks maintain themselves and coordinate the flow of information. The argument of course is that to understand the changes of organisational and labour practices one needs to understand the way networks deal with adversity (coordination and transaction costs); similarly, one has to understand how the length of the feedback loop inevitably leads to decentralization and decision making at the nodal level (Boyd). Crucially, references to sociological favorites such as ‘capitalism’, ‘power’, ‘the social’ are rendered irrelevant.

The Network Society: utopian narratives of global communication [lecture]

Prezi from a lecture on utopian narratives of global communication, tracing the roots of cyber-utopianism from the revolutionary influence of the telegraph, to personal computers and the technical architecture of the internet. The telegraph brought the metaphor of communication networks as nervous system, a metaphor also linking the separation of information from carrier to the separation of mind from body. These tropes are still with us more than 150 years later.

Global connections: from the telegraph to cyberspace [lecture]

Well, the time for leisure, travel, reading, and research is over – back to lectures, tutorials, and endless admin. Below are the slides for my first lecture for this session, tracing an outline of the history of communication networks over the last 150 years. A hasty trip from telegraphy to the internet, with an emphasis on the notion of information networks as a nervous system spanning space.