Cyberculture & the essence

On July 1, 2006 by Christy

The latest batch of reviews from Cyberculture Studies are out:

Connected, or What It Means to Live in the Network Society Author: Steven
Shaviro

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 2003 Review 1: Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Review 2: Jarice Hanson
Review 3: Meredith Tromble
Author Response: Steven Shaviro

Shaping Things Author: Bruce Sterling
Publisher: MIT Press, 2005
Review 1: Teodor Mitew
Review 2: Jentery Sayers
Review 3: Alan Sondheim
Author Response: Bruce Sterling

Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing Author: Jane Margolis and Allan
Fisher

Publisher: MIT Press, 2003 Review 1: Carly Woods
Author Response: Jane Margolis

Virtual Methods: Issues in Social Research on the Internet Editor: Christine
Hine

Publisher: Berg Publishers, 2005 Review 1: Susan Keith
Review 2: Nils Zurawski
Author Response: Christine Hine

I love this quote from Sterling:

The contemporary reviewers of Shaping Things sometimes seem properly disconcerted at the comic wisecracking in my book, but if things do turn out as I hope, in sixty years or so, it’s precisely those jokes of mine that will seem the most prescient parts of the work. We’ll all be long-dead by then. Our successors will have to recast our semantics in their own terminology. The neologisms we ourselves fully understand will be archaeologisms they dismiss as long-extinct. The things that hit home for them will be uncanny descriptions of their own time that are somehow crammed into our vocabulary.

These are excellent reads. Both Sterling’s and Shaviro’s theories relate to the understanding of cross-media entertainment. Shaviro’s notion of ‘connectedness’ = how we’re experiencing (and so need to design) entertainment now. Sterling’s “gizmo” age (where everything is an interface to a networked world) = how we’re experiencing (and so need to design) entertainment now. Sterling then introduces (first introduced in 2004) “spimes”. Spimes “will not only be tracked anywhere at any time, but will carry around their entire existence in space and time” (mitew). Yes! I see a correlation here too. I believe that with a shift in viewing entertainment through a polymorphic lens, we see an essence that is manifest or incarnated in different media. It then follows — common-sense engineering if you’re creating a new species – that within each component, each manifestation, is all the data you need. DNA storytelling (a notion I touched on at my other blog earlier this year).

I also found it interesting that many of the reviewers felt the need for more media besides the book. I too, with my upcoming review for Cyberculture Studies (yep, very lucky!), spoke about the need for more media besides print. It is not that print isn’t an enjoyable experience, I love print, but that in order for us to feel fully immersed in a text now, we need more than text, and image and sound. We need to have it touch our senses, but more importantly to activate different parts of the brain. Different media, formats and discourse light up different parts of our brain. Cross-media entertainment is not about surrounding someone, it is about stimulating all parts of the brain. Only then do we feel immersed.

Shaviro says that he needed to have the ideas published in a book format, for academic status. Yes, that is true. But he could still have had a digital version with bits of info for those choosing to buy the book, and full-access for those that have bought the book. Or hang on, MAYBE A DISTRIBUTED WORK? A cross-media approach doesn’t repurpose or version. He could of had elaborations on a website. Directing the reader from the book to the web and back. That is what I do with my short stories (I’ll release them out to play one day soon). But Shaviro does make the good point that a multi-modal work would require extended copyright deals and employing artists. He can only do text. The Director of the Australian Literature Board, Josie Emery, has said (at LAMP) that they’re moving into a ‘studio approach’ where designers and producers etc work with writers. Everyone needs to work together from the beginning though. The gift of creation isn’t taken lightly by artists.

Anyway, rant over, check out the reviews for this month and previous ones. Lovely reading, gets your mind going…