Cyber/art activism – a product of cyberculture PART 1

Blog Posts – Part 1

This blog post will outline the overall topic and my current research in this area for assessment 1, as well as briefly touch on some examples. This first blog will then assist in the presentation and the completion of the final assessment – research report.

Based on my experience in DIGC202, I knew that I didn’t want to undergo another digital artefact, therefore I have decided my final assessment will instead be a research report. Initially, I had absolutely no ideas at all… Though after some deliberation and research, I have decided to research into cyberculture more and narrow this topic down more specifically into my research. This will be considering the concept of cyber activism and associating this with art activism and contemporary art as components of cyberculture.

Within cyberculture are several other concepts, one being ‘cyber activism’. Cyber activism describes how people can use digital platforms and mediums to impact social and political change. (Amin, 2010). The fact that it exists online allows communities and groups to be formed and facilitate this activism. It also allows a global participatory, because its existing on the internet. According to Amin, social media platforms such as twitter are now serving as some of the most popular avenues where cyber activism is taking place (Amin, 2010). The ease and accessibility to platforms like this means that anyone is now an activist.

Cyber activism takes many forms; I will be focusing on the concept of (cyber) art activism. Cyberculture has facilitated the art world in contemporary art, post 1980s, immensely. Artists can produce work online, collaborate online, and display online. Audiences no longer need to go to a gallery to visit an artwork. This is the same for types of art activism, entire movements can begin solely online and within the cyberculture realm. As Harris puts it, “the intersection of arts and activism is not new, but social activist movements using digital media to cross between online/offline worlds are changing the way it gets done” (Harris, 2017).

The aim of artists of art activism is to “create art that is a form of political or social currency, actively addressing cultural power structures rather than representing them or simply describing them.” (Tate.org.uk, 2017). This form of art is about empowering individuals and communities (Tate.org.uk, 2017) and often takes place in physical public domains. Cyberculture and internet culture allow activist art to be spread and shared online, arguably enabling larger more powerful movements. No longer is the art exclusive to first hand viewers, but now available to a global audience.

For the presentation, I will attempt to break down the topics of cyber activism, art activism. I will then proceed to explore examples of art activism and how cyberculture has facilitated and powered specific movements and issues. In the final assessment, these examples be explored in-depth and will resemble a case study as a part of the research report.

Two specific examples of art activism that have been paramount for this research are the Women on Waves Foundation – a feminist art collective, and the provocative punk rock protest band Pussy Riot.

Women on Waves

The Women on Waves Foundation is a non-profit group of women that “blends social activism, contemporary art, political propaganda and media manipulation to empower women internationally” (Creativetime.org, 2017). The Dutch based group work to obtain safe and legal abortions aboard their ship by exploiting legal loopholes in international waters. They are activists for women’s rights and educating women on abortions. Some of their other works include appropriated fashion campaigns targeting the importance of safe abortions and women’s rights. Women on Waves’ work links into art/cyber activism as majority of it begins online through their images as well as their online communities connecting women to obtain abortions and health advice.

Pussy Riot

Pussy-Riot-via-critical-theory-com.jpg

Pussy Riot are another contemporary art group who employ art/cyber activist ideas. The Russian all-girl, feminist punk rock band create politically charged songs and protest clips targeting the Russian government and their ideologies and protesting for women’s rights. They perform in many public locations, filming this and spreading it online. In recent years, they have gained a lot of media attention internationally and gained a huge following – this is because of their music and videos being available online, again to a global audience.

Cyberculture itself allows for these type of cyber/art activism, which aids in sparking and leading social and political global change

Overall, my ideas and the structure of both my presentation and final assessment, will be further built upon in the next blog post. Additionally, the final assessment will include more sources and focus in more depth on the examples.

References

Amin, R. (2010). The Empire Strikes Back: Social Media Uprisings and the Future of Cyber Activism. Unlikely Leaders, 10, pp.64-66.

Creativetime.org. (2017). Women on Waves, Author at The Creative Time Summit. [online] Available at: http://creativetime.org/summit/author/women-on-waves/ [Accessed Mar. 2017].

Harris, A. (2017). Art, activism and our creative future. [online] The Conversation. Available at: http://theconversation.com/art-activism-and-our-creative-future-46185 [Accessed Mar. 2017].

McCaughey, M. and D. Ayers, M. (2003). Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

McGahan, C. (2008). Racing cybercultures. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

Tate.org.uk. (2017). Activist art. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/a/activist-art [Accessed Mar. 2017].

Worrell, M. (2017). Art Projects. [online] Women on Waves. Available at: http://www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/2585/art-projects [Accessed Mar. 2017].

Social Media Mythbuster

Monique Lombardo

When we reference our reality, it’s hard to differentiate between the physical and digital. The two realms have seamlessly begun to integrate itself into one form of reality—meaning that we live within the physical world and cyberspace simultaneously. Social media is the perfect ideal of living in both worlds at once, always connected and always interacting regardless of physical constraints.

However, theorist Jean Baudrillard notes that our human experience is made up of symbols and signs that merely point to reality. Forms of the digital world such as social media allow individuals—now prosumers—to construct their own perception of reality. Social media then becomes a place for people to build their personas and brands, interact with others, share human experiences whilst also acting as a voyeuristic lurker within the background (Baudrillard, 1994).


With this notion of the digital world being one that we construct, my digital artefact is going to look…

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Virtually Rambling – Jess Naous

The future is now.. the future is WOW!

… Trust me, I didn’t like that name at first either.. but the more you say it, well.. no it’s pretty bad every time.

In general, me and Keidens idea is this. Every fortnight, we will take in a concept of cyber cultures. We will spend one week studying it, doing as much research as we can to stimulate some intellectual discussion, and then on the next week we will record the podcast and aim for under 15 minutes for each one. What we will try our best to do is to focus on VR and AR. Even if we talk about other parts of cyber cultures, we want to relate it back to Virtual and Augmented reality and discuss how they are prime examples of the development of the cyber world. Because, essentially.. that is what we truly believe. That VR and specifically (hopefully) in the future, AR will be revolutionary and perfect examples of how we are moving forward in the cyber world.

We have already completed one podcast in which we discuss the movie and anime series, Sword Art Online.

The series basically delves into the gaming world of VR, however the gamers get trapped in the game due to an evil agenda. The new movie, released in 2017, looks further into the cyber world. The movie discusses and demonstrates the use of AR in the everyday life of teenagers. Set years in the future, the country has allowed for AR to become a regular thing in society. Not only does the AR in the movie delve into the gaming world, it is used for basically everything. The device they have is used for texting, checking weather and many other functions. Essentially.. it your phone, only without needing to pick up a phone.

Our main discussion focused on how the film portrayed each reality. In the movie there are two very clear representations we get. For VR, we get a safe feeling. A feeling that we know, a familiar area. Kirito would much rather VR and doesn’t seem comfortable at all in entering AR. And that brings us to how AR is represented. You get this unknown feeling, almost uncomfortable. As if you are simply waiting for something bad to happen.

Whether the writers wanted this to happen on purpose, these are the feelings me and Keiden both felt when watching  it. This got us talking.. are we all scared of AR? Should we be scared? And why? Some people believe AR is a “fresh take” on the over used idea of VR.

Well in the movie.. it brings up the concept and possibility of there being “ghosts” in the AR world. This honestly frightened me. Can the AR world become so “real” that a ghosts can appear? A virtual ghost? But surely that simply is a malfunction? But how can we be sure? Its question after question, and trust me if you listen to the podcast, you can hear us rambling about this!

In the end we just had to admire the way that the movie so bravely used VR and AR, even though the experiences in the movie were mostly bad. It demonstrates how we as a cyber society are becoming more comfortable with discussing, watching and being apart of these alter realities. We are accepting it and it gets people like me and Keiden excited because, well.. we believe strongly that these other realities hold great potential for the cyber world and we as the nerds we are can only dream that one day.. we are at the same point SAO is at, and we will have AR systems in almost every domestic household like we do with laptops now. And this shouldn’t be scary, it should be exciting.

Reddit – A Digital Artefact

Reddit. The so called “front page of the internet”, and what a front page it is.

After delving into the world of Reddit through my DIGC202 digital artefact, I discovered that it was a platform unlike any I had used before, I wanted to continue exploring the platform of Reddit in order to gain further understanding of why this platform has been so heavily used and how it has retained its popularity even as other social media sites begin to dominate internet culture and how this affects society itself.

This Digital Artefact is aimed to develop my understanding of the platform and how it operates. The operation of bots on Reddit is also a question mark for me that I’d like to explore to find out how these affect the information on Reddit.

The platform has both positive and negative side to it and with Trump’s presidency in the US and memes across every social media outlet, the best and worst of internet culture is brought to the surface. An article by Adrienne Massanari discusses the incidents of surround the #Gamergate and The Fappening and the issues surrounding toxic techno cultures. It also discusses the ways in which Reddit’s algorithms work to highlight some content and suppress others.

This idea also ties into the use of marketing bots on Reddit. The website RedditBot specifically sells software to develop bots that upvote to boost sales by increasing traffic. This kind software affects the authenticity of the user driven content and creating a new type of content across the platform.

Nvidia is using Reddit to teach artificial intelligence how to use language properly so it is able to better understand how a conversation works. Reddit is not only incorporating bots into its platform but pushing forward AI technology through the shear volume of content that exists across the platform

Alexa has statistics on Reddit including where users are from and the traffic of the site which determines where it is ranked globally. The site Reddit Metrics provides statistics on trending subreddits and also provides information on the growth these subreddits. Statistics of the site as well as further research will be able to give me information about how Reddit consumed across the globe and help provide information about its users. This can provide insight into how communities on Reddit engage with each other and how this affects the wider global community.

Politcally, Reddit has been playing an important role in the US election and how people are responding these events. Bots pushing Trump up in polls and rumours being spread about donations he has made are being created through Reddit and are creating very real implications through this platforms and the technologies being introduced to it.

Having all these ideas in mind, I’d like to create my digital artefact through a podcast medium. Having never meddled with the world of podcasts before I’d like to present my research in a way that is interesting and engaging. However, I have not settled on this idea and am still keeping my options open while I continue to research this concept. To explore the different areas of the platform, I’d like to engage with a different topic across a series of podcasts that explore the technologies that are found across Reddit and the cyber culture surrounding the platform.

References

New Media & Society Vol 19, Issue 3, pp. 329 – 346 First published date: July-09-2016

In Cyberspace, I am an American

Topical Cyclone

The cyberspace, the cyber world, is meant to be a place outside of jurisdiction, borders and law of the conventional world. But increasingly, the internet is becoming restricted and controlled, both by who can access it and what you can access. These restrictions are coming from the western world, and are increasingly influencing the shape of cyberspace. This discovery, that I am becoming more and more American, came to me very recently.

The video game, Sleeping Dogs, is set within Hong Kong. It is open world, and features much driving across the large city, which was British in rule for a period in time. As such, the people of Hong Kong drive on the left, much like here in Australia. But after every car I ‘acquire’, I instinctively pull onto the right side of the road and speed into a head-on collision, forgetting that many cities worldwide don’t drive on…

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Project Proposal: Virtual Reality

The Leisure Post

I’m coming to the end of my time as a digital media student, with less than one semester of full-time study remaining at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Over the past little while I have spent considerable time stressing out about what I am going to do with my life, and whether or not I have actually learned anything of value during my time at UOW. Luckily for me, I was coerced into creating this blog at the commencement of my studies, and throughout the past few years I have proceeded to publish any and all of my work here. As a result, I (and anyone else for that matter) am now able to look back and see what I have learned.  It seems that I have learned quite a lot and that my understanding of the media is much greater than when I commenced my bachelor degree. Still, the…

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This semesters DA and Podcast #1

bigdreamsgrowingexperience

Okie dokie, yo.

This semester I am trying something new; podcasts!

Which i uploaded on Google Drive until I get my act together and can post quality content on Soundcloud.
Basically the text here will be what I didnt say in my podcast, and it will probably become a permanent fixture for my DA.
Forgotten things:

– all research for my DA comes through personal experience and the guidance of other fanoage admins who are kind enough to help me

– i will avoid mentioning names of promoters and those who help me because i would rather not disclose that information

– i will vlog the concerts I go to and the upload them onto a YouTube channel.

– might have a hashtag for people to ask me questions on; and run it through my uni Twitter account to build a business OP
Here is the podcast:https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6ciqjCPYo9ESDc5b203Y3M4TWs/view?usp=drivesdk

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The Digital Presence of the Alt-Right In The Trump Reign

Last semester I produced a digital artifact that examined the rise, conditions and methods of the ‘Alt-Right’. Back then, while I regarded the alt-right as a disturbing evolution of nationalism, I still honestly doubted the main stream public support for Donald Trump. Those were the days. For my current digital artifact I intend to re-examine […]

via Now What? The Digital Presence of the Alt-Right In The Trump Reign — (hardly) Working Title

Amazon and Automation: What does this mean for our consumers, retailers, and workers?

With months of speculation, Amazon finally seems poised to officially enter the Australian marketplace with a ‘Amazon insider’ telling The New Daily  that they’ll have arrived ‘no later than 2017 to early 2018’. This aligns with other sources such as Business Insider noting on January 17th that Amazon had ‘more than 100 job vacancies listed for Australia’, one of these roles detailed hinted at ‘revolutionising… the grocery shopping experience’ to include fresh food delivery in the roll-out. Amazon also surprise launched their ‘Prime Video’ service in November 2016 to compete with the already cut-throat local competition.

So it seems Amazon’s arrival is near, but what does this mean for retailers? Watermark Funds Investment chief investment officer Justin Braitling was quoted stating their plan is to undercut the market by ‘around 30%’, with their intentions to effectively ‘destroy’ the status quo. Looking at a report by Credit Suisse reflects these concerns, envisaging JB HIFI could see up to a 33% decline in profits, with Myer topping even that at 55%.

Despite these concerns, others such as Danny Ing, the founder of inventory management software ‘Cin7’, see Amazon’s marketplace as a miraculous opportunity for small businesses in particular who can now ‘open up a massive new market’ and become part of a ‘globalised cottage industry’. This means that Amazon’s global 300 million users will now be accessible and will facilitate rapid growth for choice Australian sellers.

amazon-echo
Amazon’s ‘Echo’ combined with ‘Alexa’ app automates your home and acts as a personal assistant.

With promise of creating jobs and expanding the marketplace for consumers, it’s important to remember that ‘the workers they are hiring aren’t the same ones being laid off’, so says Harvard economics professor Lawrence Katz. In the US we can see that department stores have felt the impact of online retailers, letting go ‘thousands of staff in recent months’. While businesses and employees around Australia haven’t been similarly affected yet, this will surely change soon with the ‘incredible efficiency of Amazon’s distribution system’ which is unparalleled locally.

Gerry Harvey, bless the man, boldly states that ‘If they’ve [Amazon] got a cheaper price we will match that price, and we’ll give them the service, delivery and after sales service and they will be a lot happier than if they dealt with Amazon.’ Professor Mark Ritson rebukes those claims however, noting that regardless of what Gerry says ‘in front of the cameras’, it will be different behind closed doors. ‘He wants to communicate that Harvey Norman will match Amazon penny for penny for the consumers, but the reality is you can’t do that, and he knows it.’

161206-amazon-go-job-killer-feature
Amazon Go, currently only available to Amazon employees in Seattle, allows customers to pick out their food and it will automatically bill you for it when you walk out the door.

Woolworths, taking a more pragmatic approach, has moved its in-house technology infrastructure over to Microsoft’s Azure network to ensure scalability and reliability for particularly busy periods. Understandably, they didn’t opt for Amazon’s own cloud service, Amazon Web Services.

In my preliminary research, I’ve seen two common concerns with Amazon’s entrance according to internet commentators. Firstly, that Amazon must have a solution to Australia Post’s woeful delivery times. A commenter using the handle ‘NegativeZero’ attributes the success of the free ‘Prime’ delivery system to the ‘godawful minimum wage… (so they can have more drivers doing deliveries)’ combined with the postal services in the US being ‘miles ahead of Australia Post in both cost and service quality’. Having both a comparably high minimum wage, and a lacking postal service, presents a barrier for Amazon.

AmazonFreshtruck
Amazon Fresh provides same-day delivery for groceries in US cities

Secondly, and the issue I’ll be most focusing on for my research report, is concern for the jobs of those affected by the automation of process like warehouse logistics, order fulfillment and distribution.

With unimaginable working conditions, and the cost to solve them, we can see why Amazon would be happy moving towards automation. The NY Times cites of Amazon’s efficiency; ‘they don’t use as much labor’. The profit of these ‘superstar firms’ is therefor ‘split among fewer workers.’

In Creating the Global Shopping Mall: The Case of Amazon, Voigt notes Amazon’s acquisition of Kiva Systems (now Amazon Robotics) which manufactured storage robot to improve the fulfillment process (p. 73, 2016). And, while Amazon’s warehouses aren’t devoid of human workers yet, ‘Amazon continues its work on removing the human element from this too’, according to David D’Souza of CIPD London.

image-2._CR0,8,1340,762_
Amazon Prime Air‘s ’30 minutes or less’ delivery system is currently is trialing in the US, UK, Austria and Israel.

Co-Founder of Kiva Systems, Raffaeollo D’Andrea, wrote in A Revolution in the Warehouse: A Retrospective on Kiva Systems and the Grand Challenges Ahead that the ‘average mean time between failure of mobile robots at the time was 8 hours’. With a 1000 strong robotic workforce, there would be 3000 incidents every day. Using innovative but cheap sensors, GPS systems, and clever algorithms vastly increased productivity (p. 638, 2012). D’Andrea believes that ‘robotics and automation cannot only create new markets, but also revolutionize established ones’ as evidenced by Amazon’s domination ‘stateside’, and possibly soon in Australia.

 


This was a quick, preliminary look at sources of interest for my research project into the automation of the work-force, using Amazon’s Australian debut in particular as a case study. In the coming weeks I’ll be refining my inquiry, and definitely utilising more academic and industry sources.