Tag Archives: commentary

Before Lunch

Nice questions and provocations. “If it is about the literary, and if the literary is about language, how is this ‘contained’ in a database?” “If language is local and mediated locally, and digital infrastructure is global [and by implication the same everywhere] then what is the relation of one to the other?” (Manuel Portela.)

History matters. The history of the discipline of digital humanities is not well known outside of the discipline and is too easily either appropriated, or misread, by those coming in. For Willard the change was the arrival of the Web, which was a tsunami that ignored what had been before. Hands on, practical making experience, is fundamental to the digital humanities. You need to make to get the materiality and thickness of the digital. Otherwise you misjudge the possible and the available. Interdisciplinarity matters, but it is a process not a thing. In the digital humanities the boundaries are fluid, but the discipline needs to build itself to be a more robust discipline. It is a trading zone, and in the digital humanities are perhaps poachers more than traders. (Willard McCarty)

What I told the Young ‘Uns

From the Integrated Media blog:

If you wait till inspiration arrives you will not make very much. Good makers make, all the time. They don’t wait. They don’t need to. Not because they are always ‘inspired’ but because they just begin anywhere. You make way more than you keep. When we wait for inspiration we assume that we can and should only make things worth keeping. We don’t do that with words. Nor doodles. And we don’t need to anymore with video, it costs next to nothing to make, use, store. Video is now like our words. (Just sayin’.)

Meta Blogging as Teaching

Integrated Media has kicked off. I subscribe to all the blogs and part of the subject involves me writing commentary. More like sports broadcasting at times (actually doing this via twitter is a good looking idea). A lot of really interesting stuff happens in this liminal pedagogical space between the classroom, the student’s writing, and me drawing it back in from the atomised experience of the student to the collective of the cohort. Here’s one from today:

It’s Friday afternoon, I rode 65km on my bike on the way to work (what you might also call school) this morning and the glorious autumn sun outside is shining a bit too seductively off my bike behind me in the office. There’s no segue here, just a shoutout to Thomas, who I editorialised with last week (yes, I responded to Thomas but it really is good for you all to realise that I use this as an opportunity to engage with everyone, so when I riff of ya stuff it’s usually to illustrate something for all 84 of those doing IM and anyone else passing by) when I did the blog equivalent of a clip behind the ear. No, I won’t read all participation criteria, but after writing on and around 20 or 30 if you bother to read here you will get the gist of it. If you don’t, or can’t, then it’s going to always be a struggle no matter what we do, isn’t it? I take it seriously by doing that, at some point you need to too (as Thomas now has). But I should not need to do this individually for everyone, its a tone, a sentiment, an attitude. A milieu. As Thomas picks up, your blog is you. The more like you it becomes, the better it is, the easier it is to do, and the more pleasure it brings. You nurture your own identity here and this, now, is as important an identity as any other associated with you. How many of you, when you google your own name, has your blog as the first thing on Google. What stronger indication of the authority of your blog in relation to identity in a networked age do you want? (Or do you never use Google?)

Theft by Internet

Each year in my role as honours program director I arrange for gift vouchers to go to our external examiners. Most places pay a very modest amount for examinations, and in RMIT’s case this literally requires the completion of three documents for one examiner, and then a long wait for payment. Oh, and a chunk will go in tax. So instead I send an electronic gift voucher for Amazon.com. You can buy what you like, it is still a modest amount but it’s a much nicer thank you than having to provide a slew of personal details for me to complete a crazy amount of paperwork. In 2011 one examiner was Matt Loads, now a colleague of mine here at RMIT. I left out one letter in his email address when I sent out the gift vouchers so he never received one. I have just gone to resend it, only to find that almosthawed@hotmail.com has redeemed the voucher. I don’t know who that is, but it isn’t Matt Loads. Now this isn’t like receiving an anonymous gift voucher. It had a message thanking you for examining an honours thesis for the program at RMIT, and my name on it. This is the email equivalent of finding a wallet and just taking the money. I just tried emailing them, but the email was bounced by hotmail. Closed the account? Taken the money and ran? I really don’t get why you’d take the money, its theft.

Condition One

I already had downloaded Condition One but it took an email from Jay to the Artists in the Cloud list to get me to spend a bit of time with it. It is an app that works as both a front end/shop front to journalistic video but also provides some viewer options that take advantage of some of the affordances of the iPad. The Guardian has played with it, with a series of short videos about Tokyo.

The stories are chunked up, so I can either get the entire Tokyo series (which includes bonus extras) or get four short episodes (between 1 and 3 minutes in length). They’re not small, the one I’m waiting to view is 1:39 in length and 250MB, that’s a shitload of video for less than two minutes of viewing, even at full screen on my iPad, and this Sunday evening things might be slow out there somewhere, but it is going to take quite a while to arrive. Not hours like in the old days (when you would start a download and come back the next morning…) but it’s looking like a good 10 minutes or so, which at the moment I’d have to say is getting in the way of the experience – though I don’t yet know what that experience will actually be.

While I’m waiting for that to happen what gets my goat up just a bit is the spruiking around “immersive” experiences. This is, of course, the pitch point, the point of difference, that which will make it not just different but great. Now, it might be, but immersive, as the work on flow has well and truly shown us, is not about technological ersatz similitude. Shit, novels have already taught us that. I read a novel, even on crappy paper with lousy typesetting, but if it is a good novel, it works. I might cry laugh, weep. I am immersed in my reading. Not because of the quality of the delivery technology. So this risks a techno determinism that thinks if we get it really really shiny (I’m still waiting for my 250MB and 1:39 of video to arrive) then it will be immersive, never mind I’ve twiddled my thumbs for over ten mintues already just waiting to be really really immersed. Immersion is a consequence of things like possible worlds, narrative voice, and how they intersect with my intention. If they intersect, it works, even at low rez. This is the same snake oil that virtual worlds people use to sell us their visions of the future. It is immersive because you get to move in it, as if this is a sufficient condition for what ‘immersive experience’ is actually trying to claim – verisimilitude and an experience that is, at least in some respects and aspects, somehow phenomenologically equivalent to how immersed I am right now sitting at a desk. But simply having to move something (my mouse, my avatar, my iPad) does not make something immersive in this sense, unless we really do just want ‘immersion’ to be more like, well I was going to say sitting in the bath, but that is much more immersive than what is on offer here. I can’t sit in it like I can in my bath, where I am literally immersed and water flows around and over me. In Second Life my avatar might sit, even swim, but I don’t, and in Condition One I’ve got a traditional cinematic perspective which I either swipe around, or move my iPad up down, left right. (I can’t see all the way round, it is more that I’ve shot wide and the default view in the app is narrower, hence I can move around it a bit.) it is sort of nice, and sets up big questions cinematically (how do I know I have not missed something important that happened not off off screen, but off screen, as it were?), with an off screen that is actually available I can now compose and narrate not only in depth (Bazin via Renoir here) but also by implicating and alluding to what is just out of frame, but can be in frame if the viewer moves the frame. But immersive? No. Immersion is a consequence of other modes of engagement, at the moment this is technologically cool, but that of itself is no guarantee of a good view.


Rupert Howe let us all know about wevideo.com over at the artists-in-the-cloud list. So, what is it?

Seems to be another go at video + editing + the cloud, though this one has subscription right from the start. I guess I am not the market for something like this, but even so I struggle a little bit with the vision. I pay (what to me is quite a bit of money for what I get) and for that I can edit video, publish it out to existing hosts, and also co-edit with others out there. There’s a legal music library it looks like I get access to.

Seems its only the collaborative editing that is significant. After all my mac comes with a video editor, I can buy one for my phone for a couple of dollars, and both will auto publish to YouTube. If I want something more sophisticated (which I do) then I also probably need a lot more than what a service like this can do, or would wonder why I’d pay for it when I already have an editor, pay for my own hosting, and so on.

Collaboration? Yeah, ok, but it won’t cope at the pro end so…?

just my thoughts. But I’ve been wrong too often on these things. Though I guess if I was in this space commercially my business plan would be to get some traction and be bought by Google so that it can be rolled into YouTube, which will make me plenty of money but it’s a crappy way to rethink video. Collaboration. Or the cloud.