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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, April 1, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Blogger, Elkridge, MD
Welcome to FLEFF's opening day and the first of many live blogs of the week.
We have concluded our discussion, but at 10:00AM-10:50AM in Park 220 Ulises Mejias will lead a discussion about Augmented Reality Games
ULISES MEJIAS: OFF THE NETWORK
"Networks increase participation, but also increase inequality."
"It's not if we shape our tools or if our tools shape us, but how."
Mejias' agenda includes "thinking the network" and then how we are to then "unthinking the network" to get us to move beyond network logic through many strategies, like intensification.
First, what is a network?
1. Nodes (each one of us)
2. Links (similar interests)
The problem with this type of "nodocentrism" is that a node cannot connect to anything except other nodes. Take your friend who refuses to make a Facebook page, you may realize the trouble they have getting party and event invitations since people only invite people currently on Facebook. This is an issue with social networking.
And, while those with few connections still grow (the poor), those with large networks (the rich) will rapidly gain more connections. This is a preferential system where Mejias says "the rich get richer."
"[Networks] are shaping the way we think about friends."
A network in Facebook or media terms is something very specific. It is a template created that is altering the way we think about things like friends and likes. It is software and programming that is reprogramming our mind based on algorithms.
It has moved from a network as a metaphor to a network as a template.
Mejias also explains the change from old media as a "one-to-many" monopoly to a new media "many-to-many" perfect competition.
However, monopsony is the economics of new media, it is a "many-to-one" approach.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Can these metrics help us catch terrorists? How?
"The sacrifices in privacy may not be worth the gains."
Inequality through participation takes many forms. This includes surveillance, filtering, blocking, psyops, spambots, and the loss of freedom of speech.
This is done by organizations and companies that run social media networks. Using fake accounts to spread propaganda, deleting so-called "problematic" accounts, and simply shutting off the network are all possibilities that can limit the people utilizing the network.
QUESTION: What are the power dynamics between activists, hackers, and the media?
SHORT SCREENING: Virtual Revolution, a BBC documentary.
"Dissent will only become possible in the spaces outside of the social networks."
We need to look into the spaces between the nodes. We must see the paranodes are the resisters, the rejecters, the expelled, and the excluded.
Paranodality: the outside of the network is not empty but inhabited by multitudes that do not conform to the organizing logic of the network.
And once we reach these paranodes and maintain a MOBILITY between being in a network to being outside of it we can find power (intensification).
QUESTION: Is it easier to express dissent inside or outside the network?
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Blog post by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio '14, FLEFF Blogger, Ashland, Massachusetts
I got the chance to speak with Ulises Mejias, a new media scholar who will be hosting a workshop at this year's FLEFF! He gave me the scoop on his work and what to expect this year. Read on for more!
Chloe Wilson: How are you involved with this year's FLEFF?
UM: I am part of the group of scholars and writers invited to participate in the festival. I'm going to be giving a talk on Monday about my book, Off the Network. On Friday, I will be giving a lab on alternate reality games, which are simulations that I have been conducting at SUNY Oswego (where I teach) for 4 years.
CW:What are your previous experiences with FLEFF?
UM: I have been involved in the festival before, and I always enjoy the opportunity to share my work and ideas with IC students. I am a Park graduate (BFA '94 and MS '99), so coming back is always a treat. FLEFF wasn't around when I was here, and I think it's a great forum for all of us to come together and learn from each other. It's quite a unique and intellectually stimulating environment.
CW: For those who are unfamiliar, can you describe your new media work?
UM: I guess my work falls under the rubric of "critical internet studies," which means I look at the impact of the internet from the perspective of what is know as "critical theory." In essence, I am interested in the question of how digital networks include and exclude modes and meanings of sociality. In my work, I engage in an examination of the network as a technological template for organizing and determining society, a template that increases participation while simultaneously also increasing certain forms of inequality.
CW: What will your workshop (Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital) be about?
UM: I'm going to be summarizing the argument I make in my book of that same title, which is coming out in June. In the book, I start by looking at how the science of networks informs the development of digital technologies. I then look at how the technologies inform the economics of participation in networks: what kinds of interactions are possible or impossible in terms of socialization, collaboration, activism, surveillance, and so on. I then propose a way to "unthink" the logic of the network, and explain why that might even be something we want to consider. Finally, I make a proposal for opening up spaces for imagining new identities and ways of relating to networking technologies.
CW: If you had to narrow it down to one reason, why should a FLEFFer attend the workshop?
UM: In order to have a healthy diet, you need to understand the basics of nutrition, not just eat what a corporation puts in front of you. Likewise, I am suggesting that in order to have a "healthy" relationship with the digital networks we use --from cell phones to social networking sites-- we need to understand the ingredients, and we need to understand how they interact to cause certain effects.
CW: What is your interpretation of this year's FLEFF theme of Mobilities?
UM: What I like about FLEFF is how the theme is always open-ended, and how it takes actually takes shape through the various events and the interactions they create. To me, mobilities and immobilities suggests the affordances of technology: what they make possible, but also the opportunities they foreclose. Every technology puts something in motion, but it also arrests certain kinds of movements.
Make sure to stop by Mejias' workshop, Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital, on Monday, April 1st!
BIO OF ULISES MEJIAS:
Ulises A. Mejias is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department at SUNY Oswego. He holds a doctorate in Technology and Education from Columbia University. He has published in various journals in his field, and recently co-authored a chapter in the book Activist Art in Social Justice Pedagogy about the use of alternate reality games as platforms for learning and activism. His book, Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World is coming out in June 2013 from University of Minnesota Press. His research interests include critical Internet studies, network theory and science, philosophy and sociology of technology, and political economy of new media.