Monthly Archives: January 2015

Week 3 Reflection/Explanation of Artefact

Working on the artefact allowed me to explore some of the themes that we have seen throughout the first block on cyber-culture. I really enjoyed putting the artefact together and resisted including any textual commentary, as the focus on the image/sound was meant to address the imbalance that is usually seen in academic work online, giving perhaps more emphasis to the written word.

The first bubble from the artefact includes images drawing our attention to the eye. The eye is relevant here as it is a symbol in the film Bladerunner. Rutger Hauer’s character in his tears in the rain monologue says:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

Tying in with this is the replicant owl from the film (which is pictured here), and the theme of the eye being the ‘window to the soul’ and a way to discern replicant from animal/human. It also develops the idea of memory and how we are formed and defined by experience. There are iconic images such as the terminator, HAL 3000, and the wavelength of colours. Also, perhaps not so well know is Neil Harbisson, a ‘cyborg’ who has has an implant in order to hear different colours. His story can be seen here:

The second bubble looks at our relationship with robots from popular culture, from the terrifying to the comedic, from films such as West World and Short Circuit. Something that resonates here is the fear of artificial intelligence and the unravelling of our world through a quest to recreate what it means to be human.

The third bubble looks at how the medium of audio in cyber-culture is very rarely critiqued or appreciated and the fourth bubble deals with memory and how learning/knowledge/memory is a recurring theme in digital culture. Finally the last bubble looks at Homo Faber and the concept of man the maker. The music accompanying the artefact was chosen as it is completely digital; looped by drum machines and synths, with modified electric vocals; early 1990’s drum and bass.

Week 2 Reflection

After watching the second set of films for our film festival and reading Sian’s article ‘What’s the matter with “technology-enhanced learning”?’ It sparked some thoughts about certain reluctance among educators to accept technology for anything more than supporting learning activities and the lack of really exploiting it’s more interesting features, both in the classroom and in our everyday lives. It made me think about this reluctance and if in any way this is linked to the apparently unnerving features that cyborgs, AI, and robots pose through the films we reviewed, as they questioned our humanity and what it means to be human. Is there any link between the reluctance to accept technology in the classroom and the threat technology poses to our humanity?

The focus of Sian’s article investigates the issues with the term TEL (which I gather is now being used more and more frequently in the UK) and how this term impacts on our use of technology in the classroom. The idea that technology “enhances” what is already in place instead of challenging or shifting our approaches to teaching/learning in class and outside is interesting. In my teaching practice I have seen teachers who have been asked to integrate technology into their class simply morph their lesson into a power point presentation and recreate the ‘chalk and stalk’ class that they were originally giving, now under the guise of technology integrated learning. Is this due to fear of technology; has popular culture permeated teacher’s opinion about technology? Or is it more of a reluctance to change teaching methods that they have been repeating/reproducing for years? This is definitely an area that I have also experienced in my teaching practice, asking teachers to integrate technology into their practice and reluctance to do so.

Technology enhanced learning, and the use of “enhanced” gives preference to “the ‘material’ and technological as separate from and subordinate to social practice”. (Bayne, 2014, 11). Teachers may see their goal in class as exposure to social events and learning experiences. This integration of technology may feel cold and unsocial for them. This could be echoing the themes of humanity and technology explored which ran through our films. Is this fear of the technological as something cold, unfeeling, and almost non-human? Is it the difficulty to integrate the social media sites in the construction of knowledge? Baynes’ article goes on to argue that technology is bracketed off and independent, in service to other educational aims. Here it is also interesting to draw parallels to servitude and themes of humanity in technology, such as those we have seen in Bladerunner. It seems that education is missing out when the social aspect is detached and separate from our use of technology, in this era of social networks, greater collaborative opportunities, and the sharing of ideas and views, this is a major setback to our use of terminology and understanding of edtech. In the film festivals our cyborgs, robots, and humanoids were grappling with what it is to be human. Perhaps we should start exploring what new social opportunities technology can provide education with, those distinct and separate from the traditional F2F interactions in class.

Bayne, S. (2014) What’s the matter with ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’? Learning, Media and Technology, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2014.915851

Some Film Festival Reflections

Memorize – When technology becomes heavily relied upon someone will try and find a way to subvert it for their own personal gain. Here a supposed murderer finds a way to wipe his visual memory, leaving a futuristic law enforcer helpless in prosecuting the criminal. Technology is linked to a dystopian society, echoing both Minority Report and Strange Days here.

We Only Attack Ourselves – A futuristic London, where the NHS now turns you into a cyborg who is guaranteed to scare away loved ones. I identified the theme of humanity here, the red shawl a possible symbol for the main character’s humanity; the loss of it, the identification of it as something valued in a tender moment, the key to him remembering his past, and finally, the return of the shawl, covering him when he committed cyborg suicide.

Gumdrop – “Everything’s a matt painting, everything’s an illusion, and it’s constantly changing” – Again, the themes of humanity and robots are drawn upon. This film managed to touch on the uncanny valley here for me as the human emotions paired to Gumdrop, an elegant white vacuum cleaning robot,  struck a discord in me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable.

The Chase – Impressive multi-modal story that unfolds on our desktop, for some reason I feel like the MSCEDC lifestream should be looking like this! It’s also impressive how the action develops through skeumorphs and everyday desktop items we take for granted.

Finally, here is a link to Herbie Hancock’s Rockit video, not only a great song but also a chance to stroll through the uncanny valley with Jim Whiting’s weird robot-like sculptures.

Week 1 Summary (Halfway through week 2!)

My initial thoughts and reflections on the first week’s lifestream blog: What a wonderful tool. The interaction with my peers was great. I can check in on their life-streams and pull in all kinds of content from Twitter, Pinterest and other sources for my own lifestream. Information and content I gathered was highlighted and commented upon by my peers in a very engaging way. Directly made posts and comments were nice to receive and finding out about biohacking was an eye-opener:

The public element to EDC made me slightly weary at first. I was a little bit worried about what I was writing, this fear informed the material and commentary I presented and made it (I hope) a lot more polished and contemplated. Knowing that one of my high school students, co-workers, or peers could be reading this made me think it all through a little bit more, in comparison to the IDEL blog where I was thrashing out ideas with my tutor.

The film festival and readings have also been really engaging… The concept of the ‘homo faber’, man being defined by his use of tools/technology in order to transcend being ‘human’ is an interesting ‘evolutionary’ point. Questions raised by others about advances in technology and steps towards extending our lives resonated with me as I struggled with time management this week. If technology could only provide me those few extra hours! Something that really resonated with me was the preliminary reading that I did for the course. The idea that algorithms are playing a role in culture and what we find valuable at this point in time grabbed my attention. Google’s ranking and Amazon’s recommendations took on a whole different meaning for me, as I contemplated how/when we are being exposed to culture in a digital setting. In typical dystopian fashion I also thought how this could be misused and abused and from an educational point of view I wondered what would happen if you exchanged your Amazon/Netflix account with someone with a completely different set of preferences. This wish came true as I left my wife at home over the weekend with Netflix and returned to a whole slurry of suggestions of film I may be interested in:

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 3.13.10 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 3.11.48 PM

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge When Harry Met Sally fan but they profiled me as a romcom/cartoon addict. Thinking a little bit deeper about the subject I remembered why I was so persuaded to use Mozilla’s Firefox and have all those ad-blockers and anti-trackers installed, I also read somewhere about Facebook being able to profile you based on 5 likes, we’re not far off those bespoke adverts in Minority Report

It would also be interesting to disrupt this suggestions, subvert them, challenge them, and maybe undermine the cultural hegemony that these preference lists create.

Miller, V. (2011) Chapter 9: The Body and Information Technology, in Understanding Digital Culture. London: Sage.

Ted Striphas Algorithmic Culture –