Henry Jenkins' second chapter of Convergence Culture (2006) introduces his model of "affective economics," explaining newly formed network, sponsor, and viewer relationships. This "new configuration of market theory which seeks to understand the emotional underpinnings of consumer decision making as a driving force behind viewing and purchasing decisions," values different viewers according to their commitment to the program. Consumers' tastes are being commodified and accepted or rejected in accordance with arising goal of a "brand community."
Our readings this week again discussed how one forms social and personal cyber identities, specifically in regard to minorities. Pervasive is the new notion of an uncentered multi faceted self. The popularity of concepts such as Miller's "'Transpostites'" and Nakamura's "identity tourism" reveal how the Internet transgresses boundaries as exclusive as race and gender. However, as these questions of identity and cyber performance arise, one must ask whether the binary oppositions are truly deconstructed, or just hidden a little deeper.
These are the questions and discussion topics from Convergence Culture chapter 2 that we did not get to in class:
Chapter 2: Buying into American Idol
How do you think current television seeks to locate, understand, and manipulate the emotional underpinnings of viewers? Draw examples from shows and episodes in particular if you can.
How are "brand communities" built? How are this community's desires molded and commoditized by the network and its sponsors?
I have looked around at some bibliographies and some references to find a group of essays that could be very interesting to read.
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" Walter Benjamin
"The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" Adorno
"Theory of Radio" Bertolt Brecht
"Virtual Reality: Beyond Cartesian Space" Sally Pryor an Jill Scott
"The Safe Abyss: Whats Wrong with Virtual Reality?" Steven Whittaker
"The Erotic Ontology of Cyberspace" Michael Heim
Both Dibbell's "A Rape in Cyberspace" and Turkle's Who Am We?" deal with the composition of identity in the cyber world. Finding gray areas and transgressions between VR (virtual reality) and RL (real life) appears to be their specialty. Understanding the significance of cyber spaces, societies, and relationships blurs the common separation between the real and the virtual, the body and the mind. Central to this reconstituted person is "thinking about the self as a multiple, distributed system-- a decentered self that exists in many worlds" (Turkle, 237).
Donna Haraway's "A Cyborg Manifesto Science, Technology, and the Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" (1985) promises the destruction of gender and minority otherness through technology. Her cyborg experience of being transgresses gender, racial, and sexual, and class boundaries. Maintaining that there is "nothing about being 'female' that naturally binds women" (519), Haraway argues for a technological reinterpretation of identity.
Bolter and Grusin's understanding of new media as caught between the immediacy/hypermediacy dichotomy brings the essence of media to a tension. Each mediated environment is immediate, fostering "in the viewer a sense of presence: the viewer should forget that she is in fact wearing a computer interface" (5). Simultaneously, hypermediacy, which "offers a heterogeneous space, in which representation is conceived of not as a window on to the world, but rather as 'windowed' itself" (17) is unavoidable.
My term project will be a study of how information and art come to be mediated, and what constitutes their mediated forms. I would like to explore mediated space specifically online and how conversations and interactions are formed. I will draw on Baudrillard, Borges, Landow, Aarseth, and hopefully some outside sources that I am looking into such as Walter Benjamin. I would like my project to integrate a critical paper with a creative form indicative of the new media aspects that I explore.
Of our readings this week the dialogue between Enzensberger and Baudrillard was particularly interesting. Both discuss the innate problems with our current media forms, one with an anti-capitalist superstructure bent and the other with a more general structural criticism of mediated communication. Enzensberger's dream is a utopian, unrestricted, socialized, mobilized media in which everyone is a producer, using reversible transmissions.
The literature we read for this week was some of the most interesting material we have read so far. Borges' The Garden of Forking Paths especially stood out to me as an extraordinarily interesting and prophetic story. The garden or labyrinth's infinite number of turns and twists resembles the internet's endless hypertext of links and connections. Ts'ui Pen's labyrinth book freezes whoever enters in an uncomprehended present, much as the internet has the ability to absorb readers into its net, and keep them almost unconsciously clicking away.