[Week 10 Tute Preparation] Agent Hill: When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics? – Tony Stark: Last night.

Technology and the media have opened up many possibilities for the last few years, especially in science. In the past, one way to validate scientific work was through peers reviewing (Seed 2011), through a ‘paper system’ of publishing (Wilbanks 2011). Such process was too time consuming and also resulted in a ‘huge bill’ with duplicate results from all over the world (Pisani 2011). Continue from last week topic about social organisation and the practice of collaboration, these two factors have pushed science and its practices into a new level. Indeed technologies and new media cannot be ignored. Web 2.0 has enabled scientists, or at least people who have knowledge about science to share their knowledge without any geographical constraints. Moreover, Web 2.0 also gives us something called OPEN SCIENCE. That is, knowledge sharing is no longer a privilege for those who have resource or the money, but general audiences like us also have a chance to engage in the scientific community to gain knowledge, or even to contribute. We are moving into a knowledge culture, as in everyday, outside of academic sphere (Seed 2011), where it is open to knowledge transaction amongst everyone, i.e. policymakers, educators, journalists, and everyday citizens (Seed 2011).

This caused remarkable changes in the traditional publishing industry. Physical copies of scientific work are no longer in favour. Information can now be accessed via database. One concern I have in mind is the funding policy. Indeed I am not the expert in this area, but the problem is rather obvious. Where would scientists get the fund from? Of course some databases make us purchase the works, such as JSTOR or Emerald Insight, hopefully the money will go to research. But people can still get lots of papers for free by sharing files by simply networking, or illegally download them. Large organisations like universities also become partners with those publishers so their students have access to such databases for, I assume, much less money than each individual would have to pay. One advantage those databases share in common is credibility. We can argue that some open source websites are non–benefit because they use crowdsourcing to assemble information. Here we have the question of quality. How credible is a work done with less funding compare to a full–funded one? That is why the government is willing to sponsor new researches, that is to ensure the outcome, rather than relying completely on the open network. In the case of Australia, Group of Eight universities take $36 million from the other institutions in order to fund researches (Pitman 2013).

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Seed (eds) 2011, ‘On Science Transfer’, Seed, 27 January, accessed on 16 May 2013, < http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/on_science_transfer >.

Pisani, E. 2011, ‘Medical science will benefit from the research of crowds’, The Guardian, 11 January, < http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/11/medical-research-data-sharing >.

Pitman, T. 2013, ‘The best and rest: why we should fund ‘average’ research’, The Conversation, 2 May, accessed 16 May 2013, < http://theconversation.com/the-best-and-rest-why-we-should-fund-average-research-13415 >.

Wilbanks, J. 2011, ‘On Science Publishing’, Seed, 28 January, < http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/on_science_publishing >.

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[Week 5 Tute preparation] Owl City: ‘Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn’t wanna live there.’

This week concept of reality and its related ideas about Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) raise lots of questions that could possibly rework our beliefs about the real world we are living in. I want to focus this entry on the AR – the ‘mediated reality’, and the current world we perceive. With a ‘small’ touch of technologies and theoretical concepts such as Baudrillard’s notion of simulacra – ‘a model for behaviour, perceptions, knowledge of the world, sense of self, reality itself’ (pp. 15 – 16); and the ‘hyperreal condition’ (pp. 16) (cited in Murphie & Potts 2003), we can see the confusion between the observable reality and its so-called alternate universe.

One of the debatable topics withdrawing from the guideline is the positioning of the media in the virtual world. It is argued that whether the media facilitates the making of such world or just simply a means to access the already-available-yet-inaccessible-until-now world. Classic examples about the changes in technology can be found mostly in science fiction movies. Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report in 2002, whose setting is in 2054, presents the exciting augmented reality with technologies such as multi-touch interface; retina scanners or just simple personal advertising by using existing customer database. At that time people might predict that those things were something unachievable, yet it is only 2013 and we have all of those under our control.

Going back to Baudrillard’s notion of simulacra, it is clearly seen that the augmented reality portrayed in the movie had the massive ‘Star Trek effect‘, which facilitates the make-believe dreams to become the reality:

‘If you show off imaginary cool technology in a film or TV series, then kids, teenagers and enthusiastic technologists of all ages will try their damnedest to make it come true… That’s the future I want to live in.’

(Arthur 2010)

Linking to the ‘hyperreal condition’ – ‘the presentation of the real comes before the real, so that it becomes the real’ (Baudrillard, cited in Murphie & Potts 2003, pp. 16), Minority Report has made the statement: ‘The future is here’ (Steven Spielberg, quoted in Arthur 2010). This implies the needs of knowledge and technologies at the same time. Those two elements help us to get to the year 2054 over 30 years sooner.

It is obvious that the making of virtual world and the key to access to the virtual world happen at the same time. On one hand, the media acts as a medium for people to experience modern ways of living just by simulating, visualising and so forth. One the other hand, it creates motivation to make the hyperreal real by exposing ideas to its audiences.

In the end of the day, we are still living in our own reality world, but we continuously move forward, modify our future.

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Anon. n/a, ‘Augmented Reality’, Wikipedia, accessed on 8 April 2013, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augmented_reality>.

Arthur, C. 2010, ‘Why Minority Report was spot on’, The Guardian, 16 June, accessed on 8 April 2013, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jun/16/minority-report-technology-comes-true>.

Murphie, A. & Potts, J. 2003, ‘Theoretical Frameworks’, Culture and Technology, London: Palgrave Macmillan: pp. 11 – 38.

[Week 9 Tut Preparation] Images do lie!

Images do lie!

The blog question for this week is: “Do visual media work differently to other media forms?” The first thought that occurred to my mind is “Yes”. But after looking closer at the readings provided in the course blog and my own research, I want to change my answer to “No”. But it does not mean visual media works completely different from others media form, especially traditional forms.

Looking at the printing history, people used to use images, or simplified images to represent their ideas, for example, the Egyptian ancient cravings, or Chinese characters (which are still in use at the moment). Then people changed to use textual signs, such as words, letters to represent the same idea. All of those publishing forms play important parts in constructing/deconstructing archives or creating publics/imagined publics. Another similarity between visual media and other forms of media is the ability of ‘[reassembling] our social engagements, engagements with the publics we imagine are out there via variations to modes of publishing.’ (1) As long as visual media is the form of publishing data, it shares certain characteristics of all other media forms.

Then, technology came into play. It was when people went back to favor the images as they used to. As the noted in the lecture, images (painting, photographs) bring reality with them. Similar to words, images also describe objects. However, if words are abstract, images are more concrete and sometimes they can represent more than just the object. If we have to add adjectives and adverbs before a noun to add some characteristics to it, an image can convey all the idea above with tones, colors and arrangements (by using pixels for digital images and paints for traditional ones and so on).

But can we trust images? There are many debates about the trustworthiness of words and written texts, but can we trust images like we used to trust texts just because they are all captures the ‘reality’? As Lodriguss pointed out ‘that the manipulation of images started with the invention of Photoshop, but there have been fake photographs since the invention of photography’. He also says ‘They were apparently cut out of other photos and pasted on top of a photo of the woman at right and re-photographed in a composite image.’ (Image below) It is easy to notice that the picture somehow was manipulated due to the ‘unnatural’ state of the arrangements as well as physical representation of reality.

Daquilla Family Photograph by A. Werner and Sons

But with technologies, it will be harder for people to distinguish between the truth and the presentation. In the example below, the author changed the red color of M8, the Lagoon Nebula, to blue with one simple step by using Photoshop. Personally I have a little knowledge about the software as well and I can think of at least three ways of changing the color of that image. Imagine what else can people so with such technology?

M8 “True” Color

M8 “False” Color

In conclusion, the visual media, indeed, has some significant advantages to other media forms, but when it comes to ethical issues, it shares the same problem.

(1) Taken from the Lecture notes.